2:00PM Water Cooler 11/9/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) places investment tribunals above states, above democracies. This places the development of law beyond democratic scrutiny. At a national level, parliaments can change laws that do not work out well. This is not possible at the supranational level. The transfer of power is as good as definitive: it is practically impossible to withdraw from (deep integration) trade agreements” [InfoJustice]. Lots of good detail on ISDS.

“Section by Section Commentary on the TPP Final IP Chapter Published 6 November 2015 – Part 1 – General Provisions, Trade mark, GIs, Designs” (PDF) [Kim Weatherall]. Weatherall is an Associate Professor, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney, Australia.

“Section by Section Commentary on the TPP Final IP Chapter Published 5 November 2015 – Part 2 – Copyright” (PDF) [Kim Weatherall].

“Article 11.2 of the agreement confirms that financial services providers are covered under the minimum standard of treatment obligation. This means that almost any change in financial regulations affecting future profits could be challenged in an extra-judicial tribunal, even if they equally applied to foreign and domestic firms and even if they were enacted in response to a crisis” [David Dayen, The Intercept].

“The most shocking revelation from today’s release is how the TPP’s Investment chapter defines “intellectual property” as an asset that can be subject to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process. What this means is that companies could sue any of the TPP nations for introducing rules that they allege harm their right to exploit their copyright interests—such as new rights to use copyrighted works for some public interest purpose” [EFF]. “A good example of this might be a country wishing to limit civil penalties for copyright infringement of orphan works, which are works whose authors are deceased or are nowhere to be found.”

“[T]he TPP allows for Parties to withdraw from this Agreement by providing written notice of withdrawal to the Depositary and the other Parties. Such withdrawal shall take effect six months after the Party provides such written notice” [Malaysian Digest]. What?!?!

“Here are the competitive races where trade is likely to come up as an issue in 2016” [Roll Call]. Senate: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin; House: Minnesota Eighth, Michigan Eighth, Michigan Seventh.

“President Obama singled out Detroit automakers as being helped by a Pacific Rim trade deal which was released in detail on last week, but at least one — Ford Motor — complained it still doesn’t go far enough to address currency manipulation” [USA Today].



“[Sanders is] pushing for the post office to be able to offer Americans basic financial services to raise revenue. He’s fought big delays to mail delivery as plants have closed” [WaPo]. “He’s even blocked a slate of nominees to the agency’s governing board because he believes they would slash jobs and outsource one of America’s oldest institutions to private companies.” And he’s right. Nice to see the wonkish and policy-driven Clinton weighing in on this. Oh, wait…. 


“There’s a reason Bush, Kasich and other establishment Republicans aren’t gaining traction. Their conservatism no longer makes sense” [Michael Lind, Politico]. “One response might be a kinder and gentler Trumpism—combining a defense of middle-class entitlements with some measure of protectionism in the lower end of the labor market.”


“How Much the Presidential Candidates Raised from Real People” (handy charts) [Bloomberg].

The Trail

“10 Reasons I’m Only Voting for Bernie Sanders and Will Not Support Hillary Clinton” [HuffPo].

Clinton spokeshole: “It’s disappointing Sen. Sanders and his campaign strategists have chosen to change direction and engage in the type of personal attacks that they previously said he wouldn’t do” [Wall Street Journal, “Clinton Campaign Fires Back at Bernie Sanders”]. How soon Clinton forgets Sanders’ defense of her on email in debate, eh? Anyhow, it’s clear that any criticism of Clinton will be framed as one sort of personal attack or another, so this is just noise. As for example:

“Let’s get excited about Hillary Clinton: She’s not a savior — but she is exactly what we need” [Amanda Marcotte, Salon]. Come for the headline; stay for the tortured rationalizations!

“Ben Carson isn’t being treated unfairly. He’s being treated like a frontrunner” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. And yeah, I forgot about Obama’s composite girlfriend [Red State]. However, I think the more relevant question was and is: What kind of person writes two autobiographies?

“Jeb Bush seeks to shed Mr. Nice Guy image” [CNN]. I hate this talking point. A “nice guy” wouldn’t have purged the voter roles of disproportionately Democratic voters in Florida 2000. And a “nice guy” wouldn’t have used a woman in a persistent vegetative state to score political points with his base.

Stats Watch

Labor Market Conditions Index, October 2015: “After dipping in the spring, this indicator is now on a six-month winning streak where the rate of growth has averaged, however, only 1.4, well below the mid-single digit trend of the prior two years” [Econoday]. “The Fed’s research department has created a labor market conditions index (LMCI) based on 19 labor market indicators. It is not an official report. However, the monthly publication is carefully noted by Fed Chair Janet Yellen and has gained market attention.”

“US labour force participation stays at a 38-year low” [Business Insider].

“Warehousing companies added 5,100 jobs in October, according to the Labor Department, defying weak hiring in other sectors. Trucking added only 400 jobs in October while employment at railroads fell by 200. Warehousing and storage is on a roll, however, and have added 18,200 jobs since June, and 46,100 jobs over the past 12 months” [Wall Street Journal, “Today’s Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ”].

“The Federal Reserve Board’s Labor Market Conditions Index (LMCI) increased in October to +1.6 (anything above zero indicates that the labor market is absorbing slack)” [Amherst Pierpont Securities, Across the Curve]. “The current level of the index is quite high by historical standards…. The doves continue to argue that there is an immense amount of slack above and beyond what the classic U-3 unemployment rate would suggest, but the Fed’s own LMCI suggests otherwise…. The LMCI supports my view that the labor market is rapidly moving toward a pretty mature stage of the expansion.”

Consumer credit: “In a record report, consumer credit data are strongly confirming the strength of the consumer. Credit outstanding surged $28.9 billion in September for the largest gain in the history of the series which goes back to 1941. Nonrevolving credit, in part reflecting vehicle financing and also student loans, rose $22.2 billion. Revolving credit, reflecting a rise in credit-card debt, jumped $6.7 billion to extend an emerging run of strength that suggests consumers are now less reluctant to run up their credit cards which, for retailers certainly, is a good omen for the holidays” [Mosler Economics]. Mosler comments: “Hard to detect anything happening here except some volatility and maybe consumers borrowing more in response to low personal income growth?”

“Seven years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers jolted the global economy, the world’s biggest banks may need to raise as much as $1.2 trillion to meet new rules laid down by financial regulators” [Bloomberg].

“Chevron paid only $248 tax on $1.7b profit, Senate tax inquiry told” [Australian Financial Review].

“The cloud wars explained: Why nobody can catch up with Amazon” [Business Insider]. Good explanation of the economic and technical logic behind cloud computing.

“I spoke to Newcomb, who confesses that for six months the company struggled to come up with a way to actually earn money” [Techcrunch]. Froth.

Today’s Fear  & Greed Index: 67 (-5); Greed [CNN]. Last week: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed)

Dear Old Blighty

On the draft investigatory powers bill: “What we are looking at is the end of private reading in this country” [Guardian]. “The draft bill proposes that henceforth everyone’s clickstream – the URLs of every website one visits – is to be collected and stored for 12 months and may be inspected by agents of the state under certain arrangements. But collecting the stream will be done without any warrant.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“University of Missouri president quits after faculty walks out” [USA Today]. Let’s not forget the hunger strike. Or the rest of the demands!

Class Warfare

Uber to open own bank to pay drivers immediately (ultimately scaling to become the Amazon of day labor) [Quartz].

“The Great Enrichment” [Deirdre McCloskey, National Review].

“So what’s happening in Hollywood [to the Hollywood Sign] is a disturbing peek into the future of digital cartography. A few dozen homeowners in one of the city’s wealthiest zip codes—who bought their homes knowing (I assume) about the letters hanging just outside their bedroom windows—have found a way to keep people out of their neighborhood by manipulating technology” [Gizmodo]. “This is the next iteration of a gated community.”

Via Ycombinator startup incubator CEO [Paul Graham].

Thanks for making that clear…. 

News of the Wired

“Twitter has never understood how people use it. Every single time Twitter has tried to bring in new people, it has done so contrary to what existing Twitter users considered to be valuable” [Baekdal]. Twitter still thinks people are using Twitter to chitchat. The reality, though, is that most of the value that Twitter creates is from people who are communicating instead. We are not chatting on Twitter. We are communicating. And we are communicating about things and topics around us.” Twitter is run by stupid money and rotten management. So far, amazingly, they haven’t been able to destroy it.

“Please Stop Writing Secure Messaging Tools” [Dymaxion]. “Given that we still have so far to go, why am I telling people they should stop writing secure messaging tools?  Because we have too many other tools we also need.  I’ve worked inside a number of distributed organizations and talked to folks at many more, and there’s a giant list of software that people rely on to get their work done.” Interesting read… 

“Crypto e-mail service [ProtonMail] pays $6,000 ransom, gets taken out by DDoS anyway” [Ars Technica].

“Michelin includes street food for first time in Hong Kong guide” [Guardian].

“A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school. Here’s what he found” [WaPo]. This is actually not that awful to read, if you discount the decades we’ve spent optimizing all social structure for people exactly like this guy.

“The Whitney Rejected This Masterpiece Sculpture” [Vulture]. Of Huck and Jim. One more book to reread… 

“Mathematicians prove the triviality of English” [Guardian]. A = 1. And B = 1. And C = 1… 

“Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation” [Nature]. “Why then, given its uselessness in eliciting valuable information, do people torture? It is a form of vengeance or punishment, intended to discourage the victim from future transgressions and to communicate to others that harm will not be tolerated.” And that sure worked great in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn’t it? Somebody should tell the neo-liberals running the economy that torture doesn’t work there, either.

“[W]e can’t see our culture very well, because we see with it. Being the one who sees one’s own culture, who stands without the frame, is a variously attentiongetting and lucrative gaff, and should always be suspect as such, particularly when it comes to the output of one’s own inner futurist.” [William Gibson, Medium].

* * *

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 (JN):


Austin autumn.

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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. zapster

        It’s being reported that the numbers don’t work in that race. That people that voted for Dem in all the other races also voted for this extreme right-wingnut for governor in large numbers. And the pre-election polling showed him losing by a wide margin. This looks an awful lot like voting-machine fraud.

    1. Jerry Denim

      Sounds like he’s been taking lessons from the big O. I bet Hillary is looking forward to doing some promise breaking and brazen back-tracking of her own.

  1. 3.14e-9

    PR writer for the Clinton Campaign Salon politics writer Amanda Marcotte:

    ” … not only is she liberal, she’s a lot more liberal than average, even more liberal than Obama.”

    Does this even need a comment?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Oh, I’m sure if you read on, there are many such gems. I especially liked:

      The tears I shed the night Obama won were copious and real, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine such a cathartic moment of pure joy happening if Clinton wins. Or ever again, really.

      Then the next eight years were spent crashing down to earth.

      So, it’s all about Marcotte and her feels. Then, eight years is a long time to spend crashing to earth (unless you start out on another planet, I suppose). Especially when, apparently for the whole eight years in this telling, one never asks why it’s happening. Think happy thoughts on the way down, I suppose.

      1. ekstase

        “Now it’s time to grow up and accept that no matter who our leader is, he or she is not going to be a savior.”

        How dare you speak to me like that?!!!

          1. Ditto

            She is a campaign surrogate or mouth piece. There are several of them in the press. Why are they allowed to write these faux opinion pieces without a label stating that they are?

            1. Procopius

              I suppose you’re we’re supposed to be able to figure it out. “Political Writer” == campaign flack.

      2. 3.14e-9

        Come on now, Lambert, we all know you’re just criticizing her because she is a woman who dares to write about politics.

        (Just so we’re clear, that’s sarcasm, although it’s sad that the qualifier is necessary.)

      3. jrs

        One can be forgiven for voting for Obama I suppose. But what many of us are trying to do Marcotte, is get you to understand reality enough that you don’t *continually* get fooled. Of course if there’s money in being a continual fool, then I suppose there will always be some to be found.

        “Oh, she’ll bat her eyes at you liberals and woo you with charming comments on the Keystone pipeline, but let her into your life and she’ll betray you. Just you wait.

        But there’s another way to see it, which is that adjusting your views under pressure is what politicians are supposed to do. The whole idea is that activists and journalists and pressure groups make their arguments, present their cases, and set the agenda for politicians to follow. ”

        oooh boy with the deliberate equivocation. It’s dishonest. period. Noone can be this dumb. It’s not activists and journalist that anyone fears politicians caving to (ok they might, but it’s not what people mean when they make the accusation). In a money soaked system, it’s: $$$$$$ they fear will change minds, that profits will rule the system, and they probably will.

        1. 3.14e-9

          Lambert wrote it best. It’s all about how she feels. And she is peeing her pants in excitement at the thought of all the men who will pee their pants if a woman is president.

          1. edmondo

            Why would we pee our pants? Are we afraid of vaginas?

            Her policies would be just as corrupt as her predecessor’s.

            1. 3.14e-9

              I suppose it has to do with the patriarchy losing a grip on power or something along those lines. In reality, the patriarchy has nothing to fear in Clinton. The only men I know who would pee their pants if she won are afraid she would screw up the economy and get us into another protracted war.

        2. Tom Allen

          So if she’s adopting some leftish positions now just because of pressure during the primary, what do you suppose she’ll do once she’s running against a Republican in the general election?

          Even then her supporters will trot out the usual Democratic lines: “She’s just posturing for the election; I know in her heart she doesn’t mean it. Wait till she’s in office, then she can be liberal. We’ll hold her feet to the fire.” And so on.

      4. Michael

        I was until her move to Salon, a big fan of Amanda Marcotte. Her current stuff is, um, absolutely terrible.

        I think Salon is literally holding her family hostage.

        1. Daryl

          > I think Salon is literally holding her family hostage.

          They must be holding a lot of families hostage given the quality of writing they put out.

      5. skippy

        Marcotte… Hillary’s pregnancy is a beautiful thing which will bring much joy to all… oops primary… my bad…

    2. nippersdad

      What I found most interesting about it was the radical change in tone from her earlier pieces. “Vote for the efficient bore with breasts” is not her usual beat. When Marcotte has been forced to admit to tedium within the ranks something has changed.

      I wonder what it is? Something to look forward to.

      1. hunkerdown

        “A, therefore you should B” where B is a non-sequitur to A doesn’t have much impact if A has nothing to do with the audience’s point of view or lived experience. We’re getting into used-car sales territory here…

    3. optimader

      Found printed & hung in the Salon Vomitorium as a complimentary emetic for the continued consumption pleasure of their Guests!

  2. alex morfesis

    In defense of Jeb Bush…ok..not exactly…but about schiavo…well if were it not for Terri, millions of more americans might have lost their homes and banksters would not be held accountable…

    for you see…the attorney who defended the schiavo case (long before the cameras) ends up being a Judge in St Petersburg Florida…a judge who every bank lawyer on the planet hates…she single handedly changed the face of foreclosures in florida…I was there at ground zero…in multiple states…no judge did more to save homes than she did…she is probably the main reason the Governor brought in illegal retired judges to rubber stamp foreclosure cases…The Honorable Pamela A M Campbell is the unknown hero in the fight to defend homeowners…guessing she had had her fill of publicity and had no interest in tooting her horn(or maybe knew it was better just to bitch slap the banksters instead of just talking about it)…


    and the City of St Petersburg is having one of the most unbelievable art renaissances…

    goes to show…stop banksters from taking homes willy nilly and cities have a chance to blossom…and no, I am not pro bush on the schiavo (or any other) matter…

      1. alex morfesis

        maybe…but she did a whole lot of repentance then…she would look at the foreclosure files before a hearing and tell the bank lawyers…even when there was no defendants, she was not signing a judgment since document “x” seemed suspect, the affidavit seemed like toilet paper….etc etc…warrior princess indeed…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It just goes to show you don’t ever know.

          I absolutely hated what Bush did with (and to) Schiavo, but I suppose that doesn’t necessarily mean that non-political figures couldn’t have genuine concerns….

  3. ekstase

    Re: The Whitney sculpture controversy.

    It’s always interesting when important people get disturbed by art, or disturbed by it on our behalf. Granted, some artists use shock value to substitute for art, but considering that our society so trivializes art, it’s funny when society also has to protect us from its danger to our brains.

    It kind of reminds me of the logic of declaring that plants are illegal, or of rewriting history textbooks. Controlling the world.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I just ordered Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi. I last read them in, I think, Junior High, so perhaps its time to reread them as an adult. And I’m just listening to a podcast about the Battle of Shiloh, and I can’t help but think all will be background for each.

  4. Anon

    Happy Monday to everyone! Today’s additional piece of information comes from ArsTechnica where it appears that Comcast is instructing their reps to not talk about the 300GB data cap that they impose. Apparently, making mention of net neutrality or Netflix quality gets you escalated to another rep.

    Don’t Say Data Cap

  5. shinola

    It was a foregone conclusion that the M.U. president was toast when the football team went on strike. You don’t mess with football at M.U.

    1. ambrit

      /s/ A real Titan of Industry type of School President would have sent in the second string and cancelled the scholarships of the ‘striking’ players. (That’s how things are done today. Protest is so, last century.) /s/

  6. Irrational

    Lambert, please enlighten me what you want to say with the Gibson piece?
    I think that the higher level ” human” culture does bias us in certain ways. However, if you master several languages you actually have a way of accessing the (sub-) cultures of the different languages and this can be very enriching as you understand that your way of looking at life is not the only one. Incidentally, I am always astonished when visiting the US that speaking to someone in their language is highly suspicious whereas in Europe it is a sign of respect (and possibly self-promotion). Then again, the linguistic tapestry of Europe is a lot more cluttered.
    Thanks for the water cooler as always.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, I think almost anything by Gibson is worth reading.

      And it’s interesting to see his remarks on trusting and mistrusting “one’s own inner futurist.” One remembers his remark “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Perhaps there are other people you read who might have similar concerns?

  7. aliteralmind

    If we want the TPP to be defeated, the why don’t we start calling it “ObamaTrade”. It’s accurate and would turn Republicans against it, and perhaps make Obama not as easily sign it with his name attached to it.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Let’s call it what it really is — Obama-Treason. And Treason by the congress-criminals that rubber stamp it.

      From this mornings “Links”, TPP Tyranny and Treason (Duncan) was excellent and is something even your Mom can read and understand.

      1. different clue

        I like Obamatrade better. More people are likely to say it than to say Obamatreason. And calling it Obamatrade might be enough to link it in the minds of many with Obamacare and with the Obama who invented both. And perhaps some of the millions of Republicans who say “Free Trade” with love in their hearts can be induced to say “Obamatrade” with a feeling of hatred and disgust.

        Forensic political investigators might want to find out what the “Tea Party Masses” are really thinking about Obamatrade. If they hate it unanimously enough to where their political officeseekers feel they have to hate it also, then perhaps Tea Party officeseekers against Obamatrade can be sought out and funded to primary every single Probamatrade Republican officeholder.

        If all those “ifs” turn out to be “yes”, then perhaps the best place for “the left” to spend its scarce money is funding Tea Party Obamatrade-haters to primary various Free Trade-loving Republican officeholders.

  8. DJG

    Neurons? The purpose of torture is torture. Plain and simple. It has no purpose, which is why it has to be stopped immediately. Torture corrupts those involved (look at the American Psychological Association), torture corrupts the court system (look at the disasters and shirking of duty in the military and in the civilian courts), and politics itself (Obama, and that looking-forward bilgewater as he keeps his various monsters in place who then go to lie to the Congress). Things are so corrupt that we are reliant on Dianne Feinstein, not exactly a vision of financial purity, along with her hubby, to be the conscience of the U.S. Congress. The only way to get around the effects of torture is to punish those involved. I’m not looking to Obama for leadership on that moral issue.

  9. Synoia

    Any industry that still has unions has potential energy that could be released by startups.

    Something I discovered on my first job after graduation, was that Unions protect one from the bad behavior of management.

    Later modified by someone became a good friend to:

    Management (Companies) get the Unions they deserve.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I just thought it was interesting to see the link between ZOMG!!!!!! Startups!!! and class warfare so nakedly exposed. And we might remember that most of this stuff is froth on QE. Read the post on “A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school” if you want to see the nauseating insularity and ignorance of Graham and his ilk — the guy* actually talks as if innovation is a thing that only a select few, and seems to believe the VCs of today are giants beside, say, Tesla or Edison, and the invention of the cell phone comparable to, say, public sanitation.

      * To be fair, he seems to have fought free of a lot of it. People do change!

    2. Daryl

      I laughed when I saw that tweet. I’ve long thought that a union would be a good way to reappropriate some of the vast cash reserves of tech companies and put it towards doing something useful. Sadly lots of programmers are pretty well brainwashed with the techno-libertarian garbage.

      1. tegnost

        I’m thinking someone writes an app where you get unlimited use of your iphone in perpetuity for $1, cause an iphone bill is like a tax so totally should disrupt that flow and be awesome maybe even I would consider getting one….and that’s not all in my fantasy world, after the app is published apple will be ordered by an extrajudicial council that it must “live on it’s savings” and be required to pay all salaries of all current employees until they run out of any money they have stashed anywhere in the world, and then apple dies and we can have a wake! Party Time!

  10. Ditto

    Re Clinton electability

    The two numbers that should scare Democrats are Clinton’s (1) numbers with indies at -18 and (2) the number of Dems who are either not enthusiastic or will not vote for her. She cannot win the general with these numbers. I rarely see discussion of this amongst Democrats. They seem to be incomplete denial bc they will respond “she’s winning the primary.”

    1. Pat

      Right up there with the ACA bullshit “It was the best that we could do,” this is straight out of the “we’re better then the corrupt, uncaring, and lying Republicans” and don’t elect people who shiv us in the back delusion.

      Admitting that winning the Democratic primary is not in any way shape or form the same as winning the general, would be acknowledging that perhaps tribal delusion is not limited to the bat shit crazy opposing tribe.

    2. James Levy

      The whole strategy is to let the Republicans implode. The reasoning is, when people step into the voting booth, will they pick the lying, sanctimonious ignoramus Carson (or a close facsimile, Cruz) or the lying, shrewd, and female Clinton? The Dem Establishment is guessing Clinton. Since the electorate is growingly cynical and thinks all politicians lie, why not offer them a chance to “participate in history” by picking the first woman president? And frankly, in a showdown between Carson and Clinton I, who abhor Clinton, would hold my nose and vote for her if I thought for a minute my state would go for Carson–put frankly, he’s dangerously delusional, while Clinton is just malevolent. Talk about the devil and the deep blue sea….

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This calculation has never stopped the GOP voters before, and we know what Einstein said about insanity.

      2. Steven D.

        It’s the Democrats who stay home in such an election. A certain percentage of Republicans will be certain to come out and vote for a lunatic like Carson or Cruz. Hillary’s potential supporters will say, “meh, skip it.”

      3. cwaltz

        I don’t care if she’s up against Dick Cheney. I won’t be voting for her.

        Dangerously delusional doesn’t trump malevolent and either one is not going to promote good policy that moves us forward. I won’t be responsible for voting FOR either.

        If it’s Clinton I’ll vote third party and listen to the Democrats scream Naderite and blame me for not going with their crappy choice for President, because they apparently think it’s my responsibility to vote against dangerously delusional instead of FOR actual good policy positions and a history to back it. C’est la vie.

          1. Ian

            when I took the poll it was over 38000 people and 74.3 or so said No to voting for Hillary and 23 odd percent said yes, the rest were undecided.

      4. Massinissa

        Unless Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin come out of the grave to become the Republican nominee, im not voting for Clinton…

    3. Vince in MN

      “She cannot win the general…” I thought this for years. However, if voters stay away from the polls in droves, as I expect they will next year, just for argument sake say 50%, a candidate only needs slightly more than 25% of remaining eligibles to gain their “mandate”. To my mind, this is a feature, not a bug, of our increasingly crappified political system. Smaller turnout is great for the corporate controlled parties, elections being more easily managed while still maintaining the illusion of democracy. Maintaining a died in the wool voter base for each party, so the claim of “the people have spoken”, “democracy at work”, “America the free”, blah blah blah, after the fact is the important thing. Which “side” wins isn’t an issue, since despite arguments to the contrary, the policies of whichever takes power are virtually the same now.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      She can win because of the electoral college, but she will be less relevant than Obama once it’s exposed she won’t help down ticket. Team Blue could lose seats, and the GOP will make the 90s look like a celebration of Bill Clinton.

      1. RMO

        I think it’s possible that Clinton being chosen to run could have two effects: very low turnout by people who would usually vote Democrat and very high turnout from Republican voters (no matter how disappointed they may be with whatever they choose as their candidate) making a GOP win possible. The right has a visceral, crazed hatred for her and that could result in a high turnout by them even if the Republican party apparatus sticks their base with a candidate they really don’t like. Isn’t it strange that the presumed next president is someone that almost no one on the left actually likes and who almost everyone on the right actively despises?

  11. Eric Patton

    Banking services at the USPS is a very important reason to support Bernie. Perhaps not as sexy as single payer, but very important. It would really help a lot of (mostly poor) people.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Helps everybody. Combine single payer, a Post Office Bank, and a Jobs Guarantee, and it’s hard to think of a class or people whose standard of living wouldn’t be raised to a humane baseline. Concrete material benefits.

    2. Carla

      What most people in every economic class, in the U.S. and the world over, refuse to recognize is that whatever helps poor people helps EVERYBODY.

  12. hunkerdown

    Why am I much more inclined to place the source of actual hurt in the football team’s strike rather than the faculty? Passable adjunct linebackers don’t grow on trees like passable adjunct professors do.

    1. curlydan

      Once the football players bravely got involved (and later getting the coach’s support), it got real. The prospect of paying BYU $1 million to forfeit the upcoming game and future games made the Prez’s salary and separation package seem not so bad. Packaged with the bad publicity pouring down on Mizzou, it became a no brainer.

      1. hunkerdown

        It’s not hard to draw an analogy between a university’s football team and the upper echelon of a nation’s organized military. In that light, this all looks like a coup d’etat.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t know what you mean by “get real.” I haven’t been following this story in detail, but to my mind there are at least the following forces in play:

        1) the hunger striker

        2) activist students

        3) football team

        4) faculty

        They all seem to be ticked off at the administration, for their own reasons, and everything seems to have converged. The hunger striker, however, preceded the football team, and seems to have catalyzed them.

        * * *

        It would be interesting to know if the football team is demanding a union. They should consider it.

        1. ambrit

          It’s a curious cultural signifier that I have seen no one suggest the University dump the football program in its’ entirety. Now there’s tribalism for you!
          If the general student population actually understood how much of a waste of resources collegiate, (spelled “professional”,) sports is, they’d burn down the stadium in spontaneous rioting.

        2. curlydan

          getting real=a lot of money and a lot tickets. The hunger striker affected the football team, but sadly, a lone hunger striker probably would not affect the upper echelons. And a Div III football team drawing 500 fans likely would not have swayed the actions of a state university system either.

          1. Carla

            I read yesterday that the Mizzou football coach gets paid something over $3 million a year. No wonder he backed his team. They’re a frigging gold mine — HIS gold mine.

  13. curlydan

    ahhh, it’s corporate benefits enrollment time–truly the most wonderful time of the year where I’m forced to get a flu shot, fill out an intrusive survey, and told that “I’m in great shape” based on a number of dumb metrics when I know that other metrics might say otherwise.

    But the real kicker, of course, is the premium increase. This year only 23%. Bless you, BCBS, bless you one and all.

  14. mitzimuffin

    I think we should start a meme that states that corporations are NOT citizens of America or anywhere. They are citizens of no where. They are mongers of money and predators of humanity.

    1. Vince in MN

      I believe Marx discussed this quite a bit in his writings 150 or so years ago. On the other hand it hasn’t gotten much play in the corporate media in the last 80 or 90 years, so it may seem like a new idea.

  15. rich

    How Freddie Mac is Subsidizing the Real Estate Transactions of Billionaires

    Once the American oligarchs saw the ease with which they were able to loot the U.S. taxpayer via the banker bailouts and get away with it, they knew it was the perfect opportunity to declare open season on the general public. As such, the last several years has been little more than an ongoing crime scene in which the rich and powerful have relentlessly preyed on the poor, weak and ignorant with no remorse whatsoever.

    Today’s piece is just the latest in an almost endless series of incidents demonstrating how the entire economy is systematically rigged to benefit very small group of people at the expense of everyone.

    Bloomberg reports:

    Who do billionaires turn to when they want to buy apartment complexes? The U.S. taxpayer.

    Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group and Stephen Schwarzman’s Blackstone Group LP are in talks with Freddie Mac to finance two transactions totaling more than $10 billion, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. Those discussions come after the government-owned mortgage giant already agreed to back Lone Star Funds’ $7.6 billion deal to buyHome Properties Inc. and Brookfield Asset Management Inc.’s $2.5 billion takeover of Associated Estates Realty Corp.

    “They wield a very big stick,” said John Levy, a principal at a real estate investment banking firm in Richmond, Virginia, that bears his name. “It takes more time and it’s going to be more expensive” to get transactions done without the two companies, which can lend at rock-bottom rates because their deals have implicit government backing.

    and they’re worried about Bernie?:)

  16. LZFR

    I thought I couldn’t hate UBER more, until I read this:
    “One driver who spoke to Quartz said, if Uber paid drivers the same day, driving for it would “feel less like an actual job and more like a hobby. … I’d probably drive more, especially if I really needed cash that day.””

    They are being coy on the specifics of “partnering” with a bank, but the article does say: “would allow drivers to easily register for a bank account or prepaid card” – would this be legal? It continues saying, “Uber is exploring a few “value-added” services in addition to same-day payments: cash-back discounts, merchant offers, and the ability to send money internationally” – does this mean UBER would operate like a payday loan service? Or that is what its exploring?

    1. Massinissa

      Get them into debt peonage and then have them work for you forever for low rates.

      Its an old trick, but until recently was officially illegal, if only for a few decades

      1. Ulysses

        “Get them into debt peonage and then have them work for you forever for low rates”

        This is what FraudEx does to the “independent contractors” who drive for their Ground and Home Delivery services.

          1. Ulysses

            Yes, they lease the trucks (and assume all maintenance and fuel costs for same). They are also only paid for successful deliveries, so they work for free every time a customer isn’t home to sign for a package. The system is engineered so that most drivers actually bring home just under 30k/year (without any benefits) after taxes & expenses. Contrast that to Teamster drivers doing the exact same work for UPS, for more than 70k/year and excellent benefits, and you can see why FraudEx has to play so dirty to keep out the union!

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              That’s truly nasty. Sounds like we should abolish the Post Office and do everything like FedEx. Not. And for all the agita about Uber, FedEx sounds a lot worse, and with its sucking mandibles thoroughly embedded in the body politic, too.

              1. Ulysses

                FraudEx has successfully intimidated most of their Home Delivery drivers into putting up with their scam, or filing for bankruptcy and abandoning their routes. One driver, however, managed to stand up for himself and get his day in court:

                “Gray had to purchase his delivery route for $5,000. He bought his own van for $17,000. FedEx later made him to buy another vehicle for $11,000 and hire a second driver when his route got so busy that one van wasn’t enough to deliver all the packages. The vehicles needed constant maintenance — oil changes, brakes, transmission and radiator replacements — and all came out of his own pocket.

                He paid for FedEx uniforms and decals for his vans, company mapping software and also leased a FedEx scanner for the package bar codes. He also had to pay for Department of Transportation inspections and random drug tests the company required.

                Gray said FedEx managers in the terminal where he worked hounded him about the condition of the tires on his van and the conduct of a driver he hired to help him with his route.”


                FraudEx has a fairly large force of ex-military/police steroid-hopping bruisers– that they pay to “investigate” any malcontents who complain about their scams.

                Their usual method of pushing out malcontents is to make up phony allegations against them and threaten legal actions– in many cases against drivers who have already lost their homes and ruined their credit trying to stay afloat and pay for the truck, etc. Needless to say, most drivers are so worried about paying for food, electricity, etc. that the prospect of battling a huge team of corporate lawyers, in an expensive legal proceeding, effectively convinces them to slink away and lick their wounds.

            2. wbgonne

              They are also only paid for successful deliveries, so they work for free every time a customer isn’t home to sign for a package.

              Thanks for confirming what I have long suspected. Why did I suspect this? I live in an apartment building in Boston that gets lots of deliveries. I work from home. The FedEx delivery people routinely push the buzzer of every apartment in the building when they have delivery. No other delivery service does that (not yet, at least). The FedEx people also sometimes leave packages outside the building altogether. I have guessed these delivery people were getting paid to get the stuff off the truck and for nothing else. Piecemeal delivery work. The crapification of yet another job.

        1. ambrit

          Curious that you should bring this up now. I was talking with a bread delivery driver yesterday. “Independent contractor” is how his job is structured. His truck is ‘owned’ and maintained by the ‘home office,’ but he has to lease it from them. All payments to him are contingent on sales; straight commission was his term. “Yeah, I have my wife ‘hide’ the money from good months from me ’cause there’ll be bad months. There always are.”

  17. Oregoncharles

    ” the competitive races where trade is likely to come up as an issue in 2016” ”

    Not Wyden in Oregon? Granted, I have no idea who his Republican opponent will be; it’s possible that the Repubs will once again be unable (?) to find a worthwhile opponent. I suppose that’s what they mean by “competitive.” But the TPP will be an issue, trust me.

  18. TedWa

    Does the TPP and other trade agreements resemble this? If so, then they are…

    Fourteen Defining
    Characteristics Of Fascism
    By Dr. Lawrence Britt

    Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

    1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    4. Supremacy of the Military
    5. Rampant Sexism
    6. Controlled Mass Media
    7. Obsession with National Security
    8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    9. Corporate Power is Protected
    10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    14. Fraudulent Elections

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No, in fact. I’m sure that the TPP has no issue with fascist regimes, but in itself — considered as an emergent global state or order — it doesn’t include #1, #3, #4, or #14. In fact, where the Brits sent gunboats to Greece, the EU — a parallel sort of order — used their control of the payments system. You may or may not consider that to be a civilizational advance…

      1. TedWa

        You could say the TPP is the illegitimate child of the wedding of corporations and government here in America. So considering that, 1, 3, 4 and 14 are included. Fascism is not just the government, it’s all it’s incarnations, the TPP being one.

  19. tongorad

    “Any country that still has billionaires has potential energy that could be released by revolution.”
    -Mark Ames

  20. Bill Frank

    TPTB will appoint Clinton as the next POTUS. Obama broke the color barrier and the only feel good way to top that is with Clinton. Book it.

  21. bob

    Where to start with this gem-

    ““Why then, given its uselessness in eliciting valuable information, do people torture? It is a form of vengeance or punishment, intended to discourage the victim from future transgressions and to communicate to others that harm will not be tolerated.””

    Rather than relying on the very simple, and I believe shared, moral argument, that torture is reprehensible, they dive into the weeds to really screw up the message, and perhaps are trying to start a new one.

    “They argued, too, that if combined with other stressors, such as food and water deprivation and waterboarding, sleep deprivation could negatively affect respiratory–cardiovascular function.”

    This was under dispute? In the “tourture doesn’t work” camp, this is “truth”? So it was under dispute, until ” O’Mara chimed in? Was a study really needed to prove this?

    Yeah, study it, we need more subjects….sign up now!

    Torture works, both to elicit information and to “break” a person, both literally, and figuratively.

    100%? Nope.

    Lambert, how many fingernails do I have to pull for you to agree that torture works?

    Getting into that completely morally repugnant human psychology stew of “science” on the issue of it “working” or not is just favoring doing it more. I mean really, there are thousands of years of evidence that it works, millions of instances of it working. Do we really want to have to get into a battle of science on this? How many subjects are needed to prove it wrong?

    On moral grounds. Argue it on moral grounds alone. It’s wrong to “study” it’s wrong to practice and it’s just plain wrong, period.

    Not to mention that the ENTIRE article is an appeal to authority– ON TORTURE! “Ve haf da numbers!”

    ummm…where did you get them, and what exactly do they prove? Lots of “discusses research suggesting”, not one offer of proof.

    And as described above, if he did have proof, he’d be a monster.

    1. Gaianne

      Torture does not work for its stated purpose.

      It works very well for the unstated purposes.


  22. Darthbobber

    A couple of thoughts on the hideous Marcotte piece of Clinton puffery. (An article which differs from a couple hundred others on the same theme every election cycle only in its byline. Surely an “intellectual property” law which allows anybody to claim such a piece as original work at this point is seriously defective. But I digress.)
    Skipping some of the more obvious blather, I’d just mention a couple characteristics of all the pieces that reflect this sort of “reasoning.”
    1) The consistent slippage between pragmatism in the sense of determining the best tactical path towards a defined, tangible goal, and pragmatism in the sense of determining the goals themselves by the ease of achieving them.

    2) The persistent failure to grasp one aspect of the prevailing 2-party dynamic as perceived by the most rapacious elements of the ruling class. Pressure on elites who back Republicans to pursue anything resembling moderation in their backing of a candidate depends on the belief that the democrat might actually threaten or limit some of their key interests. It is the very fact that a Clinton, or an Obama, or a Clinton is perceived as a perfectly acceptable fallback (might not give them the whole laundry list, but in no way threatens the basis of their stranglehold) if their annointed choice doesn’t make it that frees them to play va banque in every election with no fear of any consequences following from defeat.

  23. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    re; Torture: They hear people say that torture doesn’t really work, but they keep on doing it anyway. It’s the kind of people we have in charge. It’s not p-c to say that the leadership of this country is vicious and sadistic at bottom, but it’s the obvious truth.

  24. Darthbobber

    Josh Marshall’s site reports, seemingly without irony, that Obama has now begun to emphasize his heroic role in eventually pronouncing the corpse of the Keystone XL Pipeline to be in fact dead, as one of his signature accomplishments and a case of leading by example on climate change. I would probably characterize it somewhat differently.

  25. Jerry Denim

    Hollywood sign- thanks for the link, liked the story. I was fully aware that there was a conspiracy afoot by local residents to block access to the Hollywood sign, but I had no idea how deep the conspiracy ran. I moved to LA a year and a half ago and gave up on seeing the sign up close after my third failed attempt. On my final attempt I encountered the chain link fence mentioned in the article. It was hastily erected on a well-worn, locally well known hiking trail. Signs announced a ‘temporary’ closure for ‘safety’ and threatened all manner of awful consequences for trespassing. Fifteen years ago I would have laughed at the audacity and mendaciousness of the local home owners, jumped the fence and been on my way, but in post 9/11 Homeland Security crazy America I didn’t want to risk being branded a terrorist and renditioned to camp X-ray. I turned around and went home defeated. I feel a little less stupid now.

    Small bands of johnny-come-lately rich land-owning NIMBYs are attempting to close down all manner of important public resources they find personally disagreeable these days. All too frequently they are winning. Airports in dense urban areas almost everywhere are under attack by this crowd, but the NIMBY vs. airport battle is especially hot in LA. Banning the ubiquitous gas-powered leaf blower would do more to improve air quality and noise pollution in Los Angeles than an outright closure of all SoCal airports but for some reason airports prove a more irresistible target for NIMBY homeowners.

    1. Will

      I’ve always thought the leaf blower was the quintessentially American appliance: make a lot of noise and waste a lot of fuel to push your “problem” next door. Surely the moneyed NIMBY folks want their domestic help to keep demonstrating this visible evidence of patriotism!

      (“Problem” in quotes, of course, because fallen leaves and other plant debris are only a problem if their value to soil fertility is ignored…)

    2. different clue

      I once read an article about mainly-latino yard and grounds workers resenting a push by homeowners and such to ban gas powered leaf blowers. The blower-users’ argument was that using the blower made their leaf-removal job possible under some kind of realistic time frame. Raking all those leave by slow tedious hand would guarantee a sub subsistence wage rate for the groundskeepers, all so that the homeowners could have quiet at the expense of semi-slavery for the groundskeepers. I remember sympathising with the argument. Homeowners don’t deserve to have slaves just so they can have their leaves raked “quietly”.

      Homeowners who disagree with that don’t deserve to have their leaves removed at all. They don’t even deserve to have leaves. Actually, they don’t deserve to have homes.

Comments are closed.