2:00PM Water Cooler 11/6/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


The timeline [href=”http://blogs.cfr.org/lindsay/2015/11/05/next-steps-for-the-tpp/”>Council on Foreign Relations]. “The release, coupled with Obama’s statement that he intends to sign the deal, triggers two of the timelines set up by Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that Congress passed back in June.” (NOTE: TPA = “Trade Promotion Authority” = “Fast Track.”)

The first is the ninety-day clock. TPA requires the president to wait ninety days after announcing his intent to sign a trade deal before actually signing it. So while the United States and its eleven negotiating partners announced exactly one month ago that they had struck a deal, it’s still awaiting signatures. Indeed, the text is still being translated into French (for Canada) and Spanish (for Chile, Mexico, and Peru), and the lawyers might still make some technical corrections.

The second timeline is a sixty-day clock. TPA requires that the terms of any trade deal be made public for at least sixty days before Congress can consider it. Because the administration released the text at the same time it announced its intent to sign the deal, the sixty-day clock has no practical effect.

Does this mean that Congress will be taking up the legislation needed to implement TPP come early-February? Not quite. With the sixty-day clock already satisfied by then, Congress certainly could begin considering TPP once Obama signed it. But TPA does not require it to. Instead, the decision on when to formally begin deliberations rests with congressional leaders. Once they introduce the implementing legislation, Congress will have at most ninety days to hold an up-or-down vote. The legislation can’t be filibustered or buried in committee, so the common ways in which legislation gets killed on Capitol Hill won’t apply in this case.

How quickly congressional leaders will move on TPP will depend partly on when the administration will have the implementing legislation ready. TPP is a big, complex document, and the implementing legislation likely will be as well. Even more important, congressional leaders (and the administration) will be looking to see if the votes are there to pass TPP.

On that score, TPP is heading into the stiff political winds of Campaign 2016. Hillary Clinton, who once championed TPP, now opposes it, at least in its current version. Many Democratic lawmakers are feeling pressure to follow her lead. That pressure will likely grow as we move closer to Election Day. Republicans historically vote overwhelmingly for trade deals. But several GOP presidential candidates oppose TPP and the enthusiasm in GOP ranks for giving Obama a major legislative victory is low.

So don’t be surprised if a vote on TPP gets kicked into a lame-duck session or even into next year and a new administration.

U.S.: “‘The question is: will the White House demonstrate as much political will and determination as they did with the TPA (fast track) vote?’ the trade lobbyist said” [Forbes]. “This being Obama’s last big policy initiative, there’s no reason to think they won’t.” Yes, Obama cares about this, unlike, say, health care. And they wouldn’t do this in the middle of an election if they didn’t think they had the muscle could pass it. But they’ve been wrong before, and could well be wrong again.

U.S.: “But U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Republican whose support will be crucial to passing the deal, said that although he reserved judgment on the fine print, negotiators might have to go back to the table” [Reuters]. “While Hatch said he would carefully study the text, released on Thursday, he saw problems with provisions on tobacco, labor rules and dairy. ‘We’re losing votes as we speak for no good reason,’ he told reporters. ‘My suggestion is, get back to the bargaining table and let them know that this may not pass.'”

Japan: “Abe also said he would ‘enthusiastically welcome’ South Korea and Indonesia, which have signaled interest in joining the zone, so long as they ‘accept the rules’ that Tokyo helped to write” [Japan Times]. And: “‘The TPP truly constitutes a grand plan for the long-term future of our nation,’ [Abe] said” [Business Spectator].

Japan: “Japan has agreed with five of the 12 nations involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative to launch talks, if requested, on their terms of agreement seven years after the pact’s ratification, sources said Wednesday” [Japan Today]. “The draft of the broadly agreed free trade pact, which could be made public as early as Thursday, includes a provision to allow the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chile to renegotiate (!!) terms of their trade agreements related to tariffs and other arrangements with Japan, they said.” 

New Zealand: [“[Anti-TPP activist Jane] Kelsey has a grant for a team to analyse the text and will feed out those results as they’re sifted through” [Newstalk ZB]. Kelsey’s project is one to watch.

Canada: “‘Trudeau is under a lot of pressure to adopt this deal as soon as possible, with calls already coming in from U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese President Shinto Abe,’ acknowledged the [Council of Canadians’] national chairperson, Maude Barlow'” [Truth Digest]

Canada: “How TPP will clobber Canada’s municipal archives and galleries of historical city photos” [Boing Boing].

* * *

Here’s the list of Democrats who voted to give Obama Fast Track Authority to pass TPP. Feel free to call them so share your views; there are so many reasons TPP is bad it’s hard, at this point, to pick one, so name your poison. The links below should help, though I’m sure they only scratch the surface.

Government Procurement: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has removed the barriers from government procurement, opening up equal market access to tech companies from each of the 12 member countries” [ZDNet]. From the Government Procurement chapter:

With respect to any measure regarding covered procurement, each party, including its procuring entities, shall accord immediately and unconditionally to the goods and services of any other party and to the suppliers of any other party, treatment no less favourable than the treatment that the party, including its procuring entities, accords to: (a) domestic goods, services, and suppliers; and (b) goods, services and suppliers of any other party,” Article 15.4(1) says

I note the weasel words “covered procurement,” but if this means what I think it means, it makes H1B look like a sloppy wet kiss.

IP: “Little in the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal has generated more controversy than the chapter on intellectual property — and for good reason. The stakes in this chapter are literally life and death” [Vox]. “Supporters and opponents of the TPP’s IP provisions are actually in broad agreement: The deal will mean that consumers pay more for drugs, movies, and other American-made products, producing larger profits for American companies.”

IP: “KUALA LUMPUR: The government will be pronouncing a death sentence on sufferers of serious diseases if it signs the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), says Klang MP Charles Santiago” [Free Malaysia Today]. “‘This is a warning to all Malaysians,’ he said. ‘If we don’t oppose the TPPA, it will bring death to us, especially those who are ill.'” Directly opposite to what Hatch wants, FWIW.

IP: “[T]he newly released TPP.  It could have a big impact on cybersecurity.  That’s because the deal prohibits nations from asking mass market software companies for access to their source code” by Article 14.17  [WaPo]. ” If other countries can inspect US source code, they’ll find it easier to spot security flaws, so the US government would like to keep other countries from doing that.  But I doubt US security agencies are comfortable letting Vietnam write apps that end up on the phones of their employees without the ability to inspect the source.  In short, this is a tough policy call that is likely to look quite different in five years than it does today…. [A]pproval of the TPP will depend almost entirely on Republican votes.  If the source code provision leads GOP national security hawks to rethink their support for the deal, the deal will be in real trouble on the Hill.”

IP: “Under laws mandated by the treaty, ISPs will have to remove cached copies of infringing material and search results pointing to such material upon receipt of a complaint, and they will be required to enforce court orders by removing or disabling access to infringing material stored by others” [CIO]. “ISPs will also be required to take down infringing materials promptly if they become aware of an infringement — whether as a result of a court order, infringement notice or some other way. They will not be held liable if they take down allegedly infringing content in good faith.” So that shows how the balance is tilted.

IP: “Despite earlier promises from both the USTR and Australia that intellectual property would not be subject to the “corporate sovereignty” provisions (which they call “investor state dispute settlement” or ISDS), they absolutely are. And this is a massive problem. It means that any country that’s a member of the TPP can effectively never move its intellectual property rules in the direction of better benefiting the public — because some foreign company will claim that this takes away their expected profits. Section 9.1 lists “intellectual property” as the type of asset that is a part of the ISDS process” [Techdirt]. Yes, IP is a “covered asset”; see Article 9.1 [KEI Online].

Telecommunications: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is encouraging its 12 member states to promote more transparent and reasonable costs for international mobile roaming services in order to support the growth of trade and improve consumer interests, but has fallen short of explicitly requiring regulation” [ZDNet]. Well, roaming rates would benefit customers, not telcos. So… 

Environment: “After nearly six years of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations conducted under  extraordinary  secrecy, the release of  the final text reveals that the TPP  environment  chapter  fails to protect our  environment. The chapter  excludes core environmental commitments  that have been included in all U.S. trade agreements since 2007 and fails to meet the minimum degree of environmental protection required  under  the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities  and  Accountability Act of 2015, also referred to as ‘fast  track'” [Sierra Club].

Tobacco: “This ‘tobacco control’ provision forces each TPP partner country to choose to exercise protection for tobacco control measures, instead of providing a guarantee under international law” [Cpath]. “By requiring each country to take unilateral action to elect to deny the use of the TPP’s trade dispute mechanism, it leaves that country subject to charges that it is violating other agreements that include an investor-state dispute systems (ISDS), or violating WTO agreements.” In “nudge theory” terms, then, TPP is an “opt out” instead of an “opt in” agreement. I wonder if Mitch McConnell, from the tobacco state of Kentucky, knows this? I’m guessing yes.

Development: “The ‘development chapter’ of the deal is almost embarrassingly contentless. It’s like a parody of a treaty, using various formalities to dress up the fact that it does absolutely nothing. It mostly consists of the parties ‘acknowledging’ and ‘recognizing’ various banalities” [Vox].

* * *

“At the 4th Summit of the Americas 10 years ago in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas was pronounced dead and buried. Today, 10 years on, the Democracy Center has interviewed three prominent social leaders who successfully fought, alongside hundreds of activists and organizations from across the continent, against what was intended to be the world’s largest free trade area and the greatest corporate offensive in modern history” [Latin America in Movement]. In other words, victory for the trade traitors is not a foregone conclusion!



Sanders to Boston Globe editorial board: “I disagree with Hillary Clinton on virtually everything” [Yahoo News]. “What is important is to look at is the record, the track record that Hillary Clinton has had for her long and distinguished career as a public figure.”

“Sanders offers bill to legalize marijuana” [The Hill].

“Hillary Clinton: Raise Federal Minimum Wage To $12 Per Hour” [HuffPo]. I guess that’s all the Walmart Board will allow… 


“I’ve seen America’s future – and it’s not Republican” [Stan Greenberg, Guardian]. Greenberg is a top Democratic pollster, and this is the argument that demographics will — eventually — do the Democrats work for them. Therefore, concrete material benefits to voters are not a priority, and gestures toward identity politics are. As I argued yesterday, the loss in Kentucky makes that assumption dubious.

“As the parties head into a new presidential year, the country’s partisan divide has deepened. Republicans walked away from Tuesday with the big wins. Democrats walked away with fresh confidence that their map can win a third presidential election in a row” [WaPo].


“Top Rubio campaign aides point to a February 2010 statement from a party spokeswoman who said at the time ‘there are no formal party rules or bylaws that govern credit card expenses'” [CNN]. I think anybody with common sense knows you don’t put personal expenses on the company card. Of course, lots of people think it’s OK to set up a foundation to peddle influence by laundering money, so there’s that.

Rubio, in New Hampshire: “I find it ironic that the only person running for president that’s ever declared a bankruptcy, four times in the last 25 years, is attacking anyone on finances” [The Hill].

“Jeb Bush’s decision to attack old friend and new rival Marco Rubio is backfiring, pushing important supporters to criticize the campaign’s tactics and driving one of Florida’s top fundraisers to officially quit and signal a shift in allegiance to the senator” [Politico].

The Trail

“Republicans give [Jebbie] high marks for being easygoing and likable and for possessing the experience and knowledge to handle the presidency. He also scores much higher than businessman Donald Trump on having the right temperament for the job, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll” [Wall Street Journal, “GOP Voters Find Jeb Bush Likable, But His Challenges Run Deep “]. “But the numbers get pretty grim from there. The share of Republican primary voters who said they are open to supporting Mr. Bush has dropped 10 percentage points since September. The drop has been twice as steep among self-described tea-party Republicans, with just 36% now saying they would be open to voting for him.” Jebbie’s likeable enough…

“Bernie Sanders’s last stand?” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. (If Sanders can keep filling halls and collecting small donations, why does he have to quit?) Suspicious and sudden unanimity among Democratic loyalists in our famously free press. Note Clinton’s tack right to Bibi yesterday. Note Clinton’s tack right to the $12 minimum wage today. Expect more. Like this:

UPDATE “Hillary Clinton accused of race smear against Bernie Sanders by hinting he is calling gun violence a ‘black problem'” [Daily Mail]. Seems early to deploy racist smears, but it seems the Clinton faction is feeling triumphalist.

The Big Dog: “But people close to the Clintons tell POLITICO it’s not unusual for him to sit in on big meetings or even participate in conference calls with senior staff from time to time. He’s motivated by his belief that Hillary belongs in the Oval Office” [Politico].

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, October 2015: “Bring on that rate hike! Nonfarm payrolls surged 271,000 in October vs expectations for 190,000 and against Econoday’s top-end forecast for 240,000. Revisions in prior months are not a factor. Among the superlatives, the 271,000 rise for nonfarm payrolls is the strongest since December last year. The 5.0 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since April 2008” [Econoday]. “Other readings include no change for average weekly hours at 34.5, no change in the labor force participation rate at 62.4 percent, but a 1 tenth rise in the employment-to-population ratio to 59.3 percent.” Here, after popping the champers, we pause to congratulate Obama for making a permanently shrunken American workforce a reality. And nevertheless: “The BLS job situation headlines from the establishment survey was very good. The unadjusted data shows growth is at the highest levels this century” [Econintersect].

Rail: ” Rail Week Ending 31 October 2015: Monthly Data Now Contracting 4.3% Year-over-Year” [Econintersect].

The Fed: “The broad-based improvement checks all the boxes that the Fed will need to feel comfortable raising rates in December. We now see this as the most likely outcome and are formally shifting our forecast to expect the first rate hike at the next FOMC meeting” [TD Securities, Across the Curve].

The Fed: “The U.S. central bank has been saber-rattling for months regarding interest rate hikes but has yet to pull the trigger amid uneven economic data” [CNBC]. I’m only quoting this because it’s the best mixed metaphor ever.

The Fed: “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and New York Fed President William Dudley both said the central bank could boost interest rates as soon as next month, while Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer voiced confidence that inflation isn’t too far below the central bank’s goal” [Bloomberg].

The Fed: “Despite a steady job surge that makes a rate increase likely soon (the Labor Department reported Friday that the economy added another 271,000 jobs in October), what Yellen is offering is a deeper truth” [Politico].

It is looking increasingly unlikely that inflation, wages and labor markets are in a cyclical funk in the United States and increasingly likely that some fundamental structural shift has occurred.

That shift, of lower cost goods, less velocity of money, lower wages, gig employment, the disruptions of technology, globalized capital markets, evaporating inflation, invalidates many of the bedrock assumptions of central banks. Yellen and many others are working furiously to understand and not to make missteps born of rigid and false theories.

The Fed: “The idea that policies that depress the economy in the short run also inflict lasting damage is generally referred to as ‘hysteresis'” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. “One striking aspect of the past few years has been how few people are willing to admit having been wrong about anything. It seems all too possible that the Very Serious People who cheered on disastrous policies will learn nothing from the experience. And that is, in its own way, as scary as the economic outlook.” For example, if some percentage of the workforce has decided that the jobs on offer are so crapified that they’re not compatible with basic human dignity — and that the system is rigged against them — then it’s going to be harder to lure them back into the workforce than it would otherwise be. In other words, there are problems that — contrary to neo-liberal dogma — cannot be solved by the market. Man does not live by price alone.

The Fed: “So, the biggest risk to the world, despite its growing seriousness, is not the deflation of a bubble. It is the risk of that becoming intertwined with geopolitics” [Paul Mason, Guardian]. Some damned thing in the South China Sea… Or the Mediterranean/Black Sea littoral… 

Today’s Fear  & Greed Index: 71 (-1); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)


Obama set to reject Keystone [WaPo]. A sop to “progressives” to distract them from TPP. Of course, the proper response to any leftward movement by Democrats is “Great! But what have you done for me lately?” But this response is unlikely to be made.

“Global Warming’s Fingerprints Are Found On 14 Extreme Weather Events From 2014, Report Finds” [Weather Underground].

Class Warfare

“‘When cabbage and peas were often our best meal.’ A Letter from an 18th-century Journeyman Cabinetmaker” [Lost Art Press]. Extraordinary cabinet work made by craftsman living on cabbages in the Little Ice Age.

Seattle City Councillor Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative beats bank-backed Urban League President Pamela Banks [In These Times].

Sawant’s campaign mobilized over 600 volunteers, knocked on more than 90,000 doors, placed more than 170,000 phone calls and raised more than $450,000, with no money from corporate backers. It also engaged in a sophisticated voter ID operation, slicing up the Capitol Hill district into scores of blocs according to turnout and what percentage voted for Sawant in the August primary. The campaign then identified likely voters, ranked them on their degree of support for Sawant, and engaged them multiple times to turn them into votes.

It was a concrete example of how labor, when well organized, can beat capital. Banks’ campaign expenditures were mostly on consultants and advertising, while Sawant’s went toward labor and literature.

Such intensive retail politics is a rare type of organizing experience for the radical left these days.

If Sanders really wants to build a movement, Seattle is one place to look.

The force that’s killing poor White working class Americans is racism, says [The Week]. Not their own, the writer hastens to add, but systemic racism. You can bet that nuance will be left out when this article propagates, however. A handy rule of thumb for career “progressive” discourse: It’s always OK to talk about race. It’s often OK to talk about gender. It’s never OK to talk about class. 

“Two weeks ago, [San Francisco’s] city’s mayor released a five-year plan to offer housing assistance to 500 San Francisco Unified teachers by 2020, to try to keep them in the city” [Los Angeles Times]. It’s OK. They can sleep on couches like the tech bros, and leave for home on the weekend.

“[Albuquerque] says jobs for homeless program is working” [KOAT]. As Bill Mitchell points out, a mini-Jobs Guarantee!

News of the Wired
Novel writing computers [Safari Books Online]. Winston Smith’s job, IIRC.

* * *

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 (Isabel):


Continuing our fig motif, here is a fig tree with a chicken!

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. And thanks so much for the donations during the annual fundraiser. They are much appreciated, both practically, since I immediately socked them in to infrastructure, and as signs that you enjoy the work.


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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. Kurt Sperry

    The sentence, “The legislation can’t be filibustered or buried in committee, so the common ways in which legislation gets killed on Capitol Hill won’t apply in this case.” from the lead link, leaves me wondering how precisely that works.

    1. Steven D.

      One of the key features of fast track is that it shields TPP and other such agreements from the Senate filibuster, the procedure by which a minority of 41 senators can keep a bill, resolution or motion from coming to a vote on the Senate floor.

      1. C

        I.e. it blocks the Democrats from doing what they threatened to do under Harry Reid, prevent it even coming to the floor.

    1. nippersdad

      It looks like he is relying upon self organized groups like “Friends of Bernie” to get out the crowds. Paid campaign organizers have thus far been pretty thin on the ground.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I was one of the volunteers at Sanders’ October 9 rally in Tucson, AZ. We were supervised by an advance team from the campaign. No complaints about my supervision. I thought that my boss, Quinn, did a great job.

        1. Ditto

          Yes, but read the article. Sawant organized to beat her neoliberal competitor, not just rally. Are they now having you canvass and make calls? Are asking you do anything ?

          1. Debra D.

            We are getting Bernie on the ballot in Illinois by circulating nominating petitions in local neighborhoods — on foot; on our own time. We are volunteers who have decided to walk the walk for our future. It is well past time to take a stand.

            Ditto, are you canvassing or volunteering for a candidate? If you’ve got some time or money of your own to contribute, I’m sure the campaign will welcome your efforts. What’s the purpose of your question?

                1. Ditto

                  I asked a question and in response was asked multiple questions and then questioned about what I’m doing. None of which responds to my question about organization. Double downing on the defensive response.

              1. Debra D.

                I can understand how my response sounds defensive to you. However, you seem keen to share your perception of the Sanders’ campaign ground game, and I was merely sharing how some of us mere mortals are investing in it.

                1. Ditto

                  Okay, you are acting bizzare. Did you read either the Sawant article to which Lambert linked, or the point Lambert made at the end about Sanders?

                  I’m not asking any question that Lambert hasn’t asked. Lambert below in fact states I’m asking the key question based on the link and comment made.

      1. Ditto

        I find all the ways he’s tying his hands strange, and the constraints make me believe the conspiracy theories that he’s just there to keep others from gaining traction against Clinton.

              1. Ditto

                Again bizarre reaction considering Lambert has written similar statements and asked similar questions in the past and I’m asking the same now. Yet your only response is to me. Guess you are just trolling.

              2. different clue

                Could Ditto be a false-flag undercover Clintonite tasked with demoralizing potential Sanders supporters?

                1. Ditto

                  Yes, that’s exactly what I am. Lambert is my co-conspirator. The plan is to talk about how successful campaigns have worked in the past to “trick” you by asking whether Sanders’ organization will be employing similar voter efforts. That’s exactly what a Clinton supporter would do. Want to make sure Sandetrs organization is getting voters to the polls. A Sanders supporter would not think about getting out the vote, canvassing and other normal political campaign issues. Sawant in the article as well as the reporter who describe campaign strategies are also in on it. As is anyone who talks objectively about campaigns.


                  There is something deeply bizzare here.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I really to have to congratulate the Greens on the “sheepdog” talking point. While remaining utterly ineffective and dysfunctional as a national party, they have managed to tar the candidate with the closest policies to theirs with an utterly unevidenced smear that nevertheless is virulently viral.

            If one wished to create a conspiracy theory, the Sanders campaign is not the only place to look.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          So you think a nation-wide volunteer mass movement, outside the party structure, is easy to do, and therefore you’re puzzled that Sanders hasn’t been able to achieve it?

  2. nippersdad

    Have to say that dropping Keystone is not much of a sop to the left when it is so glaringly obvious that he wants to take the issue off of the table during the election only to have it brought back up when its’ backers sue for lost profits. His umpty dimensional chess moves seem rusty, now he just looks like a jerk.

    1. Steven D.

      Cost-free concession to greens by Obama. With oil prices so low the oil companies aren’t squawking about it anymore. Obama never sticks his neck out for a progressive cause. Even when it looks like it there’s always corporate buy-in. Here, Obama can pose as the gutsy environmental champion when he’s really just picking up the flag and getting in front of a parade that was already moving. A trademark of his.

    2. C

      I wonder if he would even be able to drop Keystone if the TPP passes. Would that no constitute a violation of the agreement, or just be too expensive under ISDS rules?

      1. jo6pac

        Yep, he did this to look great and also there is nothing on yahoouu news are main stream news about ttp but lots of BS on 0 and keystroke.

        1. jrs

          The petroleum is being shipped down anyway just by slightly less convenient pipelines (and exploding trains perhaps). They don’t really need to the pipeline to exploit the tar sands, it’s just a “nice to have”, but that carbon is going to burn anyway.

        2. jo6pac

          Nothing at bloombuger either. Surprise.

          Thanks jrs I do believe they will pass it in the end it’s all about Greed.

    3. Steve H.

      Benefits Buffet and Gates, who invested in train transport of tar sands product.

      Reference Cory Morningstar.

      1. jrs

        Counterpunch has had interesting articles in the past on this as well, on how their are also alternate if smaller pipelines already in existence for tar sands export.

    4. different clue

      I remember reading a while ago on Counterpunch how Obama was redball-greenlighting a whole cat’s cradle network of “Keystone workaround” pipelines.

      Still, if “no Keystone” actually restricts the amount of tar shippable from the Tar Sands, then this would be a good time for a vast movement of people to grind their personal lives around to keep shrinking all those parts of the “economy” which use oil. Thereby forcing the price of oil down ever further, perhaps down enough long enough to exterminate the Tar mining industry in the Tar Sands completely and irreversibly. But nothing happens by itself. One hopes an opportunity emerges somewhere on these threads for people to submit all kinds of ideas and links and resources on reducing personal oil use, both directly and indirectly.

  3. allan

    “Here’s the list of Democrats who voted to give Obama Fast Track Authority …”

    And comparing that list with the roll call vote in 2005 on John Roberts’ confirmation as Chief Justice,
    we come up with leading contenders for the worst Senate Democrats* of the last decade:

    Murray-WA, Nelson-FL, Warner-VA and Wyden-OR.

    * Or at least those who are still in the Senate,
    Joe Lieberman long ago having been named to the list by yeas and nays.

  4. Eric Patton

    Many people are very eager to write the obituary for Sanders’s presidential run. I see no evidence, however, that Sanders has thrown in any towels yet. And Iowa is still three months away.

    Imagine a movie…

    HILLARY: Do you hear that, Mr. Sanders? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death. Goodbye, Mr. Sanders.

    SANDERS: My name … is Neo.

    Okay, maybe not quite. Damn awesome movie, though.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Father lectures son on errors of judgment. Son replies, ‘Whut errurs?’

    In interviews with his biographer, [George H.W.] Bush said that Mr. Cheney had built “his own empire” and asserted too much “hard-line” influence within George W. Bush’s White House in pushing for the use of force around the world. Mr. Rumsfeld, the elder Mr. Bush said, was an “arrogant fellow” who could not see how others thought and “served the president badly.”

    “I am proud to have served with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld,” the younger Mr. Bush said. “Dick Cheney did a superb job as vice president and I was fortunate to have him by my side throughout my presidency. Don Rumsfeld ably led the Pentagon and was an effective Secretary of Defense. I am grateful to both men for their good advice, selfless service to our country, and friendship.”


    “Dickie and Donnie, y’all done a heck of a job!”

    1. fresno dan

      The elder Bush, eternity careening towards him, must be asking how the republican party got to this point, and that this cannot bode well for the future of the country.

      The elder Bush, the last republican to stand for the principal of reality…

      1. different clue

        Well, the elder Bush’s consigliere Baker certainly helped by doing his part to help defraudulate the Florida vote-count process in Bush’s favor.

        Elder Bush might reflect on how this is indeed still his party, merely adjusting to new conditions and opportunities. Younger Bush did not create Cheney and Rumsfeld, after all. Or build up their networks.

          1. Linda J

            hi, Lambert. i think you meant to say that 306,000 Florida Democrats voted for BUSH, right? (not Gore). Thank you for making this point. people keep on blaming Ralph Nader for the Gore loss in florida. NOT TRUE!

      2. nigelk

        It’s almost enough to make you forget his father tried to overthrow FDR and later had assets frozen for trading with the enemy.


  6. Ranger Rick

    Why are they crowing about the jobs data now, when it’s clearly inflated by temporary holiday workers?

  7. curlydan

    If you see a banker doing a cartwheel today: “House members voted 354 to 72 to strip a provision in a six-year highway bill that would have raised $17 billion to pay for transportation projects by slashing dividend payments banks regularly receive from the Federal Reserve”

    OK, the provision was kind of dumb since it was just to move the money to Congress pork. But…they give us 0.1% interest, they get 6% divvy.


    1. Will

      What an excellent follow-up to the morning link post’s article on infrastructure failure.

      Well, we can always patch faulty dams with bankers, right?

  8. barrisj

    My man Jeb! just needs to keep major funders on board through the “debate” season, as polling attrition will claim more of his rivals – Christie and Hucksterbee given the elbow for next round – and oppo/media pushback on other candidate bona fides – see Ben Carson – will eventually reward the long-game strategy for the Jebster.

    1. fresno dan

      It looks like attrition has started, and Jeb!!! won’t have to pull out his nuclear option:
      I am the only republican up here who isn’t F*CKING INSANE*

      *just cause he’s not insane doesn’t mean he would be the best one to pick…

  9. Oregoncharles

    Another answer to the Greenberg article on demographics (“I’ve seen America’s future – and it’s not Republican”):

    http://www.salon.com/2015/11/06/the_democrats_dangerous_post_obama_world_why_its_demographic_advantage_doesnt_actually_mean_much/: “The Democrats’ dangerous post-Obama world: Why its demographic “advantage” doesn’t actually mean much”

    Carefully ignores a crucial point: demographics don’t do you any good if your right-wing policies don’t motivate people to come out and vote. In fact, it doesn’t discuss policy at all.

  10. Ed S.

    RE: TPP and HRC — the reference to HRC’s opposition in the CFR quote is interesting.

    CFR says, “ Hillary Clinton, who once championed TPP, now opposes it, at least in its current version.

    However, what HRC actually said to Judy Woodruff of NPR was:
    As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it…….I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.” (emphasis added)

    While on the one hand I admire the lawyerly sentence construction, it would be refreshing to get a simple answer without equivocation. In that 27 word comment there are at least 3 escapes from “opposing” – it is a non-answer answer. Her opposition was operational only on October 8, 2015.

    CFR’s interpretation that HRC opposes TPP is pure projection and wishful thinking.

    1. fresno dan

      I note that Hillary did not give the time, nor specify if it was GMT, EST, or martian time…so many times

  11. vegasmike

    I don’t think “The Week” is exactly a progressive publication. Some of the their writers also publish in the American Conservative. Maybe the writer is kind of a left paleo-conservative.

  12. MikeNY

    Yellen and many others are working furiously to understand and not to make missteps born of rigid and false theories.

    ‘Rigid and false theories.’ Ya think?

    Meanwhile, they’re conducting monetary policy furiously from the Greenspan playbook. Can’t let a little thing like a false theory stand in the way of coming to heel at your plutocrat masters…

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