2:00PM Water Cooler 12/16/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Policy (from the Republican Debate)

The Great Wall of Trump:

I hate it when Trump makes sense (1):

(The thoughts, if not the words, could be from Sanders. Of course, Sanders has been saying the same thing since forever. Not so Trump.)

I hate it when Trump makes sense (2):

The Voters

” Democrats Ramp Up Redistricting Plans In Effort To Avoid Repeating 2010 Fiasco” [HuffPo]. “With the underlying goal of producing a sophisticated and coordinated redistricting effort to match Republicans, Thursday’s strategy session is seen as the first of many steps in recalibrating the balance of power in the states and on Capitol Hill.” The “first”? Let me just break out my calculator here: 2015 – 2010 = 5. Five years. A party that slow to display adaptablity deserves to die.

The Trail

“Killer Mike Releases Bernie Sanders Interview” [Hip Hop DX]. Good work!

Yesterday I mentioned that Jebbie’s existential position in the Republican campaign reminded me of a iconic image from Road Warrior (the ultimate post-apocalyptic car chase thriller), but I couldn’t find a visual. This is what I meant:


Driving the buggy to which Jebbie has been strapped is, of course, star of stage and small screen Donald Trump, playing “The Base.”

Republican Debate: “Terror, Terror, Terror, Donald Trump, And Terror: Your GOP Mainstage Debate Liveblog” [Wonkette].

Republican Debate: Annotated transcript [WaPo].

Republican Debate: Trump reiterates pledge not to run as independent [Bloomberg]. Yesterday, we showed he missed the ballot deadline in Texas; today, Ohio’s secretary of state says Trump can’t run as an independent there either.

Republican Debate: “The field feels narrower all the time, with only Trump, Rubio and Cruz driving the race’s conversation. Chris Christie was at his best in Vegas, capping off a great month. But it wasn’t enough to siphon attention away from his better-polling rivals. And Jeb Bush had a moment, but not a lasting one” [Politico].

“Marco Rubio Leaks Classified Information for Political Gain Again” [Emptywheel].

“[David] Lane’s numerous supporters think that Isaachar is plain genius. His good friend Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz even said, ‘David Lane is a leader who, with his Issachar Training of pastors, is living out what my father, a pastor himself, taught me'” [American Renewal Project]. Cruz added: “And I say if pastors are afraid to speak out on biblical standards of morality, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we have a radical government in Washington hostile to the preservation of marriage, life and religious liberties.”

“A more likely scenario than a brokered convention is a runaway convention, where the establishment loses control of the convention and the outcome as delegates from the anti-establishment wing take over, threatening first a convention walk-out and then a third-party candidacy if the will of their majority is denied” [Brent Budowsky, The Hill]. But see above. An independent run isn’t feasible without Ohio and Texas, surely.

Stats Watch

I’ll update Stats Watch with the FOMC rate announcment shortly. –lambert

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of December 11, 2015:  “Little changed” [Econoday]. “Year-on-year, purchase applications remain very high, up 34 percent in a gain that in part reflects a pulling forward of demand ahead of what is expected to be a rate hike at today’s FOMC.”

Housing Starts, November 2015:  “Housing permits surged in November, up 11.0 percent to a far higher-than-expected annualized rate” [Econoday]. “Strength for starts is certainly getting a boost from this winter’s mild weather while the gain in permits points in part to speculative demand, especially for multi-family units.” However, “the potential error ranges and backward revisions are significant” [Econintersect].

Industrial Production, November 2015:  “November was another weak month for the industrial economy, in part reflecting unusually warm temperatures that are driving down utility output” [Econoday]. “Industrial production came in at the Econoday low forecast, down a very sharp 0.6 percent in November. This is the biggest drop in 3-1/2 years.” And October’s bounce looks like an “outlier.”

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, December 2015: “the manufacturing PMI fell to 51.3 for the lowest reading in more than three years” [Econoday]. “[A]n ominous indication, slowing here not only reflects weakness in export orders, which have been soft all year, but now also for domestic markets especially investment demand in the energy sector. This latter detail is also ominous as many had been hoping that energy spending, having hit deep lows, would begin to rebound. Also note that backlog orders are in contraction for a second month in the weakest monthly reading in three years.”

Honey for the Bears: “In a report Tuesday, the Office of Financial Research found ‘elevated and rising credit risks’ among nonfinancial businesses and emerging-market borrowers, and it said a significant shock that further impairs credit quality “could potentially threaten U.S. financial stability” [MarketWatch]. “The OFR, which Congress created in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to monitor threats to the financial system, suggested markets may not be out of the woods yet.” “Markets” will never be “out of the woods.” That’s because the powers that be send helicopters and rescue dogs every time the markets get lost, instead of letting them die from exposure. So they keep wandering off.

UPDATE “Fed officials said they would move up the federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point on Thursday, to between 0.25% and 0.5%, and would adjust their strategy as they see how the economy performs. At these low rates, they added, policy remains accommodative” [Wall Street Journal, “Fed Raises Rates After Seven Years at Zero, Expects ‘Gradual’ Tightening Path”]. Best economy ever.

The Fed: “As this unprecedented era of easy monetary policy closes, here’s a walk through seven years at zero to highlight the obstacles that policy makers navigated to restore labor-market health and enable liftoff” [Bloomberg]. I like “restore labor market health.” But I don’t understand the “liftoff” metaphor at all. What, exactly, is being launched into space? What’s the payload? The mission? And so forth.

The Fed: “[O]ur understanding is that the Fed will also publish a technical note that will provide some operational details.  For most investors, it may be sufficient at this stage to appreciate that reverse repos will be used to put a floor below rates.  These could be quite large.  The Fed will use the interest on excess reserves, set at the upper end of the Fed funds target range, to cap rates” [Brown Brothers Harriman, Across the Curve].

“Fed officials face a troubling question: Jobs are on track, but inflation isn’t behaving as predicted and they don’t know why. Unemployment has fallen to 5%, a figure close to estimates of full employment, while inflation remains stuck at less than 1%, well below the Fed’s 2% target” [Wall Street Journal, “The Mystery of Missing Inflation Weighs on Fed Rate Move”].

The Fed; “The Phillips Curve seems not to hold any more” (handy chart) [Wall Street Journal, “The Fed Has a Theory. Trouble Is, the Proof Is Patchy”]. Even though the Fed still relies on it.

“[Adair] Turner calls for radical changes in public policy. He proposes that sometimes we need to be open to running fiscal deficits and financing them with central bank-created money, despite the idea’s taboo” [Econintersect].

 Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 (-2); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). 

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“[Allen Scarsella,] accused of shooting five protesters near the Minneapolis Police Department’s North Side precinct station is facing a stiffer charge” [Star-Tribune].

Peter Martin, Scarsella’s attorney, said his client … was an Eagle Scout, a graduate of the University of St. Thomas and had been accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Hawley countered with the fact that Scarsella was kicked out of West Point because of misconduct involving a pellet gun. She added that he came to the protesters’ encampment more than once with a loaded handgun, ‘looking to provoke and cause chaos.’

Police State Watch

“While big-city jails get most of the attention, lockups in small and medium-sized counties have actually driven the overall explosion in the U.S. inmate population, according to a new analysis of 45 years of jail statistics” [Business Insider].

Health Care

“A higher penalty next year for lacking insurance could be playing a role in driving signups” [The Hill]. Deadline extended two days, to 11:59pm PST December 17, for coverage beginning January 1.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Wankers harass Texas plumber whose truck was resold to ISIS with his sign and phone number still on it, as shown in viral image [Los Angeles Times]. “You traitor … you’re selling to terrorists.” Gad.


“New research shows a cereal familiar today as birdseed was carried across Eurasia by ancient shepherds and herders laying the foundation, in combination with the new crops they encountered, of ‘multi-crop’ agriculture and the rise of settled societies” [Eurekalert]. “The domestication of the small-seeded cereal millet in North China around 10,000 years ago created the perfect crop to bridge the gap between nomadic hunter-gathering and organised agriculture in Neolithic Eurasia, and may offer solutions to modern food security, according to new research.”

Guillotine Watch

“A Saudi millionaire was cleared of raping a teenager after telling the court that he might have accidentally penetrated the 18-year-old when he tripped and fell” [Straits Times]. Uh huh. *Nods vigorously.*

“University presidents are making extravagant salaries while professors earn ‘unlivable’ wages” [Business Insider]. Makes you wonder about institutional priorities.

Martin Shkreli is jacking up the price of benznidazole, a treatment for Chagas disease, which affects mainly poor Latin American immigrants, 100,000 percent to 150,000 percent” [The Atlantic].

Class Warfare

“Over 400,000 went on strike Dec. 9 in historic labour action in Quebec” [Rabble].  “Three large demonstrations took to the streets in Montreal. The two organized by unions during the day met up to form one large group of many thousand cheering through the streets en route to hearing speeches.  A more radical non-union group called a night demo which was broken up fairly quickly by police.”


Armando Iannucci writes his first novel [Chortle]. Hat tip alert reader Plenue:

Armando Iannucci is writing his debut novel, a satirical fantasy about a for-profit language.

In the novel, people are charged for the privilege of speaking and writing the fictional language, which becomes the lingua franca of business and government after skilful marketing by its creators.

Sounds like something Zuckerberg should consider.

“Facebook is a place where people share and connect with their family and friends. In order for this to happen, people need to feel safe and be confident they know who they are communicating with” [Facebook]. “Early in the new year, we will be looking at other ways we can reduce the number of people who have to go through an ID verification experience, while preserving the safety of other people on the site. We will also continue to work on making the experience itself more compassionate and easier to navigate.”

“[T]he new changes also don’t address the forms of identification Facebook uses to verify a person’s name. Facebook’s policy asks for ‘the name you use in real life’ rather than a user’s legal name, but because verification requires third-party documents that often derive from a person’s legal name — like a school ID or utility bill — there’s often little difference in practice” [The Verge].

“These results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a field when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone” [“Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?” ]. ” Intellectual, social, and resource barriers all impede entry, with outsiders only entering subfields that offer a less hostile landscape for the support and acceptance of ‘foreign’ ideas.”

Jung on Film is a 77-minute collection of highlights from four one-hour interviews Jung gave to psychologist Richard I. Evans of the University of Houston in August of 1957″ [Open Culture].

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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 (MG):

Holy Well near Uisneach C0Westmeath

Holy Well near Uisneach, County Westmeath, Ireland.

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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. cwaltz

    I don’t get why the Fed is puzzled by inflation. It’s WAGES and the dismantling of what was once job benefits. People have jobs but the jobs don’t pay particularly well, have little to no benefits and any and all increases that have occurred are eaten up by health care(which DC has worked at crapifying) or solidifying for that retirement you may or may not ever get. That basket of DVD players and polo shirts is going to remain the same unless wages and benefits packages improve J-Yel.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Also, whatever happened to the distinction between “wage push” inflation and other kinds? If Saudi Arabia decides to temporarily put the brakes on production and oil prices double, do we then conclude all is well, and it’s time for interest rates to take off again? I know there is supposedly a distinction between the “volatile” food and energy sectors and the rest, but tell me that if oil prices double, that doesn’t flow through to the rest of the economy.

      All that crap about wages driving inflation in the late 70’s was BS at a time wages were actually increasing. The only real wages we are likely to see in the next decade will be from increases, if any, in the minimum wage.

  2. GlobalMisanthrope

    Re Gaia

    Millet is delicious. I have been told by North African and South Asian friends that many foods now made with wheat were originally made with millet or millet flour, such as couscous and naan.

    Here’s a recipe:
    1c millet
    2 1/4c water
    1/2t sea salt
    1T extra-virgin olive oil

    Soak the grains in cold water for 15 minutes, rinse and drain. Toast them in a hot skillet, with the salt, until completely dry and beginning to color. Add the olive oil and fry until well coated with oil. Cover with the water and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer until water disappears. Let steam for 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

    Millet makes a great base for a tabbouleh-like salad and is a much more nutritious substitute for couscous.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I like millet.

      I believe it was a staple in ancient China. It was what Confucius and Laozi ate (along with sorghum).

      1. DJG

        Piero Camporesi writes about it being a staple of the peasants of the Po Valley in Italy. Millet makes good bread, but the bread hardens almost immediately (lack of gluten, I suppose). So the peasants ended up having to make bread soup for the next meal. Not a bad solution, because soup was the traditional evening meal. But somewhat inconvenient bread.

        1. Optimader

          Add olive oil garlic sundried tomato pecorino goat cheese & a bottle of cheap wine on ice with gassywater and you’re living large on stale bread

          1. Kurt Sperry

            No brainer, make tuscan ribollita. Real, hearty peasant food. Wash down with good cheap sangiovese sfuso. Buon apetito!

  3. Anon

    Re: Obamacare

    So, we get poked and prodded towards the Obamacare pit. Also, I have a choice quote taken from one of my Facebook friends (apologies for punctuation/grammar/things of the like):

    Doing the right thing with Healthcare will Break you. i bought my plan on the MN market for 158.44 a month (1,901.28) in 2015 now i get my bill for 2016 its 215.90 i was like is this a billing issue (as they just move to a different system, ) no billing issues and by bill went up 38% and i never even used the Inc. coverage. so now, i can do 2 things i can keep the 38% higher plan at (2,590.80 a year) or i can cancel the plan and pay the $695 per adult or 2.5% AGI to the IRS for not having ins. which ever is higher. so if i max oug my AGI my fee would be $1367.50 which is cheaper than my 2015 plan and 2016 plan. I would buy a catastrophe plan but the ACA (and POTUS) tells me i am not eligible as i am to old and i am required to buy a plan with more coverage. What should i do? ‪#‎ACAProblems‬ ‪#‎ACA2016‬ ‪#‎NoHealthcare‬ ‪#‎POTUS‬ ‪#‎Droppedcoverageduetoprice‬ ‪#‎MNcare‬ ‪#‎Healthcarepricejump38percent‬

    I want to feel good about being right, but when it affects someone you know…

    1. Screwball

      I have an acquaintance who’s went up %75.96. $320 something to 500+. Thanks. She didn’t even get kissed.

    2. LZFR

      my Kaiser coverage went up 28%. I have literally the cheapest coverage I can get that doesn’t totally screw me, god forbid anything happens. Very high deductible, limited to Kaiser, etc etc. The only thing I made sure I had was that emergency and urgent care out of network and out of country were covered. In case, you know, disaster.There are some plans in the same price range that don’t even offer that. Thats how low the bar is now for the prices we pay.

  4. JTMcPhee


    Intercontinental and air and submarine-launched missiles with multiple independently targeted nuclear warheads also “liftoff.” So do hot air balloons.

    Words have meaning?

  5. Vatch

    Yesterday, I linked to a recent Mad Magazine with Hillary and Bill on the cover (Hillary’s FURIOUS ROAD to the White House Begins Here!). The most recent issue has The Donald on the cover, along with Alfred E. Neuman coiffed in the same style as The Donald! Unfortunately, this isn’t on the web site yet. Eventually, it will probably be at this URL:


  6. Carolinian

    Cruz–Trump’s mini-me–has apparently also been claiming lately that Hillary was a foreign policy disaster who killed thousands. This is what Sanders hasn’t been saying forever. Libertarian Raimondo gives his take on the debate and says Rand Paul had a big night.


    BTW Pat Buchanan says that if the R establishment tries to coalesce around Rubio or Cruz then Trump will simply choose one of them as his running mate and end of story. That’s assuming Trump does in fact maintain his poll lead with actual votes.

    1. cwaltz

      Sanders doesn’t mention Hillary by name(probably because she isn’t the primary problem. It wasn’t like Condeleeza Rice was a stellar Secretary of State or there weren’t indictments under the Reagan Secretary of State.) However, he has been saying that our foreign policy is part of the problem which is the REAL problem. Clinton is just a symptom.

      1. Steven D.

        I thought you were going pin the blame on Barry O since he was Hillary’s boss. The system doesn’t cut it as a target. It excuses the actors. Nobody has agency? Clinton had and has a lot of power. She has had options. She has chosen her path.

        1. cwaltz

          Clinton’s behavior was similar to her predecessors which was similar to her predecessors and so on and so on.

          It’s our foreign policy that is fubar and it’s been fubar for awhile. This idea that Clinton somehow was the worst Secretary of State is revisionism. Was she bad? Yes. Was she worse than Condeleeza “I ignored a memo that said AQ was determined to attack” Rice? That is incredibly debatable. I’m all for Hillary being held accountable. I’m less for her being the fall guy for ME policies that have been a disaster for at least as long as I’ve been alive(and let’s face it installing the Shah, trading hostages for arms, etc, etc there’s been ALOT of mistakes there)

          1. Steven D.

            Who makes foreign policy? People do. There are institutional prerogatives but she didn’t have to be so damned good at being so bad.

            1. hunkerdown

              As soon as one subordinates themselves, they become the agent to a principal, whether that principal be a natural person, a class, an identity group, or an old piece of paper with happy horse dung written all over it. Given the choice between downward mobility and schizophrenia, most choose compartmentalization as an imperfect but effective coping mechanism to help workers stay sane and maintain their identity in the ever more grueling workplace.

              So who’s the principal?

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Hmm. You’re saying that split consciousness screws up principal-agent relationships, not metaphoricallly, but literally? That’s a really interesting argument, a new way to think about elites (“know your enemy”).

                I said something similar — OK, “interesting” could mean confirming my priors — here:

                Does anybody really believe that the Clinton who takes off the Secretary of State hat and puts on the Clinton Foundation hat, or who takes off the Clinton Foundation hat and puts on the Campaign hat, is not the same Hillary Clinton? She’d have to be a sociopath to keep her mind and heart that compartmentalized, no? But if we accept the Clinton Dynasty’s “attitude toward public service,” as we put it, that’s what we’d have to believe. I don’t believe it.

                So, either Clinton is a sociopath (the “compartmentalization”) or deeply corrupt. Which is it to be?

                Nose- or rather brain-bleeds at the commanding heights….

                1. hunkerdown

                  Split attribution enables screwed-up principal-agent relationships. Think sex workers, used-car salesmen, fresh-out-of-Harvard Democratic strategists, other agents who loyally if resignedly carry out what the mainstream deems inhospitable and/or dirty work to the benefit of their principals, yet share no interest apart from the engaged work.

                  Cultivating a straw self-identity or group-identity, or maybe role, for the purpose of attribution is an effective though problematic way to keep the evil from sticking to one’s self-definition.

                  If you’re saying that split consciousness makes for split loyalties, I’d agree. It’s part of what makes that compartmentalized “workaday me” role slightly corrosive to community and citizenship.

          2. Carolinian

            According to people who were there it was Clinton who pushed for regime change in Libya while Obama was reluctant. The French were pushing for it as well but within the administration she was the advocate. She also favored regime change in Syria although US actions there are murkier. So Trump and Cruz were quite justified in what they said. She also favored the surge in Afghanistan while Biden opposed. She has compared Putin to Hitler and presumably fully supports the confrontation with Russia. In Honduras she covertly supported the coup government at the urging of her crony Lanny Davis and the Honduran children who are fleeing to the United States can be chalked up as another of HIllary’s little missteps. Whether or not she was the worst Sec State ever she’s up there.

            Condi on the other hand was just a functionary for policies being made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neocons. It was a very different situation.

            Whatever one thinks of Trump it’s quite possible he’d be a less dangerous choice than Hillary when it comes to foreign policy. The Dems don’t see it this way because so many of them agree with her–particularly the Democrats’ wealthy backers.

              1. Steven D.

                You give her too much credit. Like Lyndon Johnson, she’s afraid of the Republicans getting too much to her right on foreign policy. It’s purely reactive. If she believes anything, it’s probably that Democrats need to be hawkish to avoid being portrayed as pansies. A fruit of her McGovern experience in 1972.

                1. different clue

                  Then she may be misreading that experience. My brain keeps circling back to Hunter S. Thompson’s argument that McGovern didn’t start falling badly until he was seen visibly seeking to appease the Establishment Democrats that his campaign had just beaten. If Thompson’t analysis is correct, McGovern betrayed his own campaign and everyone who worked in it.

                  But of course the Clintons just saw “evil workers supporting Nixon against our beloved McGovern”. I still wonder how much of Clinton’s support for NAFTA was driven by a desire for revenge against the working class which voted against his beloved McGovern? Revenge being a dish best served cold, and so forth.

    1. jrs

      Shouldn’t we have a right to know that information anyway? Maybe Cruz would have more legal immunity if he’d said it on the floor of the Senate though!

      Cruz is probably a horrible choice for Prez but wasn’t horrible in the debate last night. Rubio was, and is mainstream horrible, so he’ll probably get the R nomination, as it doesn’t seem Bush can.

  7. DJG

    The problematical Trump. Trump is channeling (and by channeling I mean exerting control of the flow) the middle class that feels bilked. The Republican elite, which led the bilking, doesn’t know what to do with results it produced. The Democrats want to rely on charges of fascism. Trump’s talk about immigrants is a very crude form of economic populism with the usual coating of U.S. racism. So Trump pointing out how much money has been wasted on war is still more economic populism. (This, from the man who considers Social Security a great success.)

    If we go by Frum’s Law, the Republican elite, which fears its base, doesn’t know what to do with Trump. At least for now, the Gollum-like Cruz and the slickster Rubio (Bill Clinton lite) are not what the elite wants to substitute for Trump. Mitt Romney isn’t available. Carly Fiorina has all the appeal of the goddess Kali on a bad day.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats, who are used to hating their base, can’t be bothered to figure out how to appeal to Trump’s supporters. This goes especially for Hillary Clinton, much less so for Bernie Sanders. But Sanders’s rather severe persona doesn’t accord well with the flamoyance that the Trump supporers eat up.

    But it’s a long way from May till September.

    1. RUKidding

      To be fair, it’s hard to imagine how any “D” pols could appeal to Trump supporters. That said, Sanders has never been given anything approaching a fair shake by the corporate owned M$M, and that’s deliberate. The Oligarchs don’t want the peons to really hear what Sanders is saying. Am I some sort of died-in-the-wool Sanders supporter? No, not really. I have my own issues with Sanders, but nonetheless, he is pointing out a lot of problems that are confronting the “average citizen” these days and providing some credible solutions.

      Do I think that if Sanders should win, he’ll somehow manage to make things better? I doubt it bc Deep State won’t let that happen, albeit maybe Sanders could accomplish a few things to marginally improve the lot of most US citizens.


      After all, Sanders did propose having “D” and GOP candidates debate one another early on before the primaries, but duly noted that the PTB surely were NOT gonna let that happen! Good heavens, No!

      Yes, Trump’s flamboyance appeals to a certain segment of the populace, who’ve been very very very strongly encouraged/manipulated to resonate with Trump and be in favor of what he’s spewing. Sanders? Well unless you’re really out there looking for info on Sanders, you’re not going to see or hear very much – or more likely: nothing – about him.

      The PTB have made sure that Trump’s voice is heard everywhere and that Sanders is kept as much out of the limelight as possible. All manipulated, all of the time.

    2. MikeNY

      Carly Fiorina has all the appeal of the goddess Kali on a bad day.

      LOL! Carly makes the honey badger look like a tribble.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think “middle class” isn’t granular enough. Not all members of the (putative) middle class feel “bilked”; some are doing quite well for themselves.

      That said, I think you’re quite right to point to how Clinton isn’t going after Trump’s base. I’d argue that there’s an overlap between the “bitter”/”cling to” voters of 2008 that Obama threw under the bus, and Clinton appealed to, making Clinton’s behavior odd, I would say.

      * * *

      What’s your problem with the Goddess Kali?

      1. different clue

        We need a term for the ex-middle class and the future-ex-middle class. Something like the Nuveau Poor or something.

          1. different clue

            My French spelling is no better than my zero-command of French in general. I suggested “noovoe poor” because it is a play on “noovoe reesh” which even though it is French, is understood by millions of Americans. So I figured “noovoe poor” would be understood by just as many millions once they hear it. And perhaps some might identify themselves with that term with a measure of sardonic bitterness. Which might be a first step towards social-economic collective-class-combat thinking.

            But of course I would need to get the spelling right enough to look credible. “Noovoe” won’t work beyond the super-narrow purposes of this context.

    1. OIFVet

      My granny’s pogacha is heavenly. But I think that Patres Creationis is more fitting, since according to them, they created the world as we know it, and also colonized the moon. I am not making it up, either.

  8. craazyboy

    Holy Bejeebus. The Fed really did raise rates. AND the market went up. Oil down 4.6% today and oil stocks up. Everything is good. Glad that’s over with.

    [ Fed to HFT traders – YOU VILL machen ze market go up today!!!!]

    1. Vatch

      So now I can expect to actually earn some interest on my savings account, right? Surely that’s what’s going to happen!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          So that senior savers can’t sleep stress-free, Bernanke is being quoted over at Marketwatch as saying negative rates should ‘join Yellen’s arsenal’ when the economy slows down (probably when the Yuan is devalued – our monetary sovereignty will be :< brief).

      1. craazyboy

        I was hoping maybe the 5 year treasury might go to 2%, so I could lock in 2% for the next 5 year recession. But the Fed affirmed that they intend to keep their balance sheet at $4.4T by buying more longish bonds to replace maturities in their portfolio. So we may never see a 2% 5 year treasury again either.

    2. fresno dan

      My theory is that Yellen watched the old Seinfeld episode where George Costanza, after so much failure, tried doing the opposite, and met with great success…

  9. Vatch

    Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton’s “stupidity” killed “hundreds of thousands of people”

    I don’t want to appear to be defending Hillary Clinton, but we need to remember that President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and others in the second Bush administration caused far more death and destruction. They’re the ones who destabilized the Middle East by ordering the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Middle East was already a complete mess by the time she became Secretary of State in 2009. Of course, Senator Hillary Clinton, like many of her fellow Republicans, voted in favor of the Iraq invasion as well as the Patriot Act.

    1. cwaltz

      Don’t feel bad, I was in the same position yesterday. Apparently Trump either a) does not have a grasp on history or b) has a really short memory if he thinks she’s the worst Secretary of State in history.

      1. jrs

        pushing myself through reading the debate, I don’t think it’s Trump. Ok I have no love of Trump and he does come across as possibly the dumbest candidate. But they are ALL blaming all terrorist threats on Obama and Hillary. It’s a reoccurring theme of the debate, that and “political correctness” is very very bad mkay. Whatever political correctness means today, I mean it’s obvious they aren’t talking about speech on college campuses or however the phrase initially originated. I think it means not wanting full scale butchery in the middle east and discrimination against Muslims here I guess.

          1. hunkerdown

            Just taking the Mick. All but Trump are auditioning for the old-money donor class to see which Barnum can fool the most of the servant caste. (Trump is trying on the same, if not for his own entertainment, then for Hillary.)

            And Trump dumb? In the old sense of “mute”? If only they all were!

        1. RUKidding

          Yeah, I confess I was confused at first by the “political correctness” hobby horse of the GOP and didn’t get what they meant. My loose interpretation is that ANY attempt at diplomacy and negotiation with whomever the GOP deems the “enemy” is now called being “politically correct.” It’s a really really lazy use of the term, but I think (IMO only) it also covers the territory of resolute hatred of the blah in the White House.

          But yes, apparently negotiation and diplomacy – not to mention just being polite, temperate and/or – gasp! shriek! – gracious in your speech – is now given the SCARE label of “political correctness,” which is horrid, terrible, making us unsafe, blah de blah blah blah… ad nauseum.

          Someone just “yelled” at me on another blog about how Obama did not call the couple who murdered 14 others in San Berdoo “Radical Islamic Terrorists” – or whatever the non-politically correct term is – and that signified something something something blargh! GAH! shriek!

          Lunacy. Barking mad.

    2. RUKidding

      I don’t entirely disagree w/Trump’s statement re HRC’s policy resulting in death and destruction of many. That said, it’s way beyond ironic/hypocritical/cynical/manipulative coming from the candidate who is advocating outright killing the families – the whole extended family – of perceived “Islamic terrorists.” Plus I believe he wants to somehow wipe out ISIS/daesch… but how that’s accomplished without killing many innocents has not been elaborated by Trump or any of his cohorts grasping after the GOP nomination.

      Fear is all the GOP appears to have. So if it’s not fear the enemy du jour, then it’s fear the reliable boogeyman, the “Democrat” party.

        1. jrs

          We really need a Trump sentence generator. One minute saying something almost reasonable. The next minute completely batty (like about the internet) and occasionally scary (like about killing families of terrorists). And of course 2 out of every 3 sentences generated, glorifying himself compared to others, it wouldn’t be a Trump sentence generator without that.

    3. craazyman

      this is why I was for Trump before I was against him (after he started talking about vaporizing families). Now I’m on the fence. He makes a lot of sense to me on a lot of things. Who needs the political hack class anymore?

      I wouldn’t want to live in a high rise building or gamble away my money in a casino in Atlantic City. I’d rather live in a smaller building and lose my money betting on stocks or ETFs. At least there’s a chance you might get lucky. In Atlantic City, there’s not much of a chance.

      We can’t get lucky with the guys and women in D.C. these days. We’ll never get a 10-bagger, from any of them. We all thought Obama would somehow give us a 10-bagger, but we lost more money. Oh man. That was bad.

      Now. Trump can make money. We know that. Maybe he could give us a 10-bagger somehow. I’m still open minded about Trump. I really am. Anybody can say something stupid. I have. On several occasions. I’m glad it’s not on tape. Oh boy, am I glad. It’s on tape in my mind and it plays sometimes in loops, the loops are different each time, each loop has a lighting and a certain texture of memory and a mise-en-scene of faces and ideas and actions that constellate around a core emotional and ideational projection. It’s not entirely pleasant. I’m glad it’s not on tape.

      Maybe a 10 bagger can come out of this. Maybe Sanders/Trump. Maybe something wonderous and amazing. Maybe the end of wars and the end of looting and the end of oligarchy and the beginning of craftsman’s pride in the work they do and the beginning or a renaisance of beauty and form where you don’t need justice because people are so involved in reality and in their work and in creating that they don’t even think about comitting a crime. OK. I’m just making shit up. But that’s were it all begins and ends, every time.

      1. Massinissa

        The problem with Trump for me, IMO, is that you can never tell if hes being honest.

        He says some good stuff on some issues. But Obama said some good stuff on some issues. How honest is Trump being? He could easily be like H W Bush, say “NO NEW TAXES” during the campaign (or the modern equivalent. No new wars?) and then raise them after he gets into office.

        Even when he says good things, I just don’t trust him as much as, say, Sanders, who I actually don’t trust a whole lot either.

        1. Foy

          Massinissa, I’m more and more coming around to Scott Adam’s (of Dilbert fame) thesis that Trump is a Master Wizard/Persuader using selling and hypnosis techniques similar to those of Anthony Robbins and Milton Erickson. He speaks in very simple terms at the level a child in grade 5 can understand. He repeats phrases often. He talks on an emotional level not on a rational level – salesmen sell on emotions, not on rationalities. In politics emotional arguments win most of the time. Everything with him is emotion based. Absolutely nothing is complex when he talks.

          Adams believes that he’s a master salesman using master sales/persuasion tactics. ‘Truth’ doesn’t come into it (although truthiness might!) Everything is a negotiation with Trump, he stakes out some ridiculous high ground (eg build a wall) and then negotiates his way back from there over time. And along the way redefining what he said in the past so he’s always a right and a winner. (I’m going to be interested to watch how he redefines what his ‘wall’ is).

          Even in this debate he was asked “Are you prepared to rule out an independent run?” He said “Yes I am”. But this can easily mean ‘Yes, I am prepared to rule it out (at some time in the future)’. Place the emphasis on ‘prepared’ and his answer has a different meaning. He leaves a way out with almost everything he says.

          And when he takes out the opposition he does it so you don’t forget the image whenever you see that person again. For example:
          Jeb = “low energy”
          Rubio = “Sweaty…do you want that guy negotiating against Putin?… ‘Excuse me Vladimir can I have some water'”
          Clinton = “killed hundreds of thousands”
          Fiorina = “Look at that face…”

          He says stuff that has elements of truth or what people maybe feeling subconsciously and his words form a powerful image that once you see it you can’t ‘unsee’ it, even if you don’t agree with what he says. It sticks.

          And that’s why you can’t tell if/when he is being ‘honest’ in a normal person’s terms. For a master persuader I’m not sure ‘honesty’ exists, its just a level of truthiness that has the ability to be manipulated to whatever they want over time.

          Here’s an Adam’s post on how to spot a master wizard/persuader:


          1. jrs

            Or it’s just as plausible to say he’s a narcissist, narcissists are often very good at manipulating people. Does it make them geniuses? Well it’s more the basic structure of their personality makes them adept at manipulation, in a way that people that aren’t narcissists aren’t driven to become (partly because they are more capable of empathy with other human beings).

            Yea he talks at a 5 year old level and it reads REALLY REALLY BADLY as text (reading the debate). It jumps out as shockingly worse than what proceeds it and follows it, just in sentence structure. I mean there may be plenty wrong with what the other candidates are saying (including misrepresenting facts etc.), and of course Carly may be more insanely evil, but with Trump the lack of coherence of the sentences jumps out like with noone else. And it’s emotionally at a 5 year old level: “I’m better than you”, “he started it”, “I know you are but what am I?” “Jeb is interrupting me!”. There’s winning on emotions I guess, I just wish our collective emotions were not 5 yeas old then!

            1. Foy

              Yep it definitely could be he’s just a narcissist and many of those types are very manipulative and charming when they want to be. And I agree his spoken words don’t read well. But his audience isn’t reading his words they’re watching and listening.

              I’ve never liked him, he’s just another businessman buffoon in my eyes (I’m from Australia so no skin this electoral fight). I thought he would just crash and burn (again). It’s just interesting to me that he has come as far this time against all expectations and his message was resonating with some people so I’m open to reasons why that it so. So far Adams’ theory is holding up. And yep I reckon the electorate just might have the collective mind of a kid in grade 5. Every time a politician tries to sell something that requires some level of detailed thought they are dead.

              I’ll never forget in Australia when the Liberals (our conservative party) in 1992 went to an election trying to sell a new Goods and Services Tax on everything. And they were leading in the polls easily, should have been a shoo-in.

              Then just before the election Liberal leader John Hewson was interviewed on TV and was asked the following question. “If I buy a birthday cake from a cake shop and GST is in place do I pay more or less for that birthday cake?”

              John Hewson: “Well, it will depend whether cakes today in that shop are subject to sales tax, or they’re not – firstly. And they may have a sales tax on them. Let’s assume that they don’t have a sales tax on them… then that birthday cake is going to be sales tax free. Then of course you wouldn’t pay – it would be exempt, would, sorry – there would be no GST on it under our system. If it was one with a sales tax today it would attract the GST, and then the difference would be the difference between the two taxes whatever the sales tax rate is on birthday cakes, how it’s decorated, because there will be sales tax perhaps on some of the decorations as well, and then of course the price – the price will reflect that accordingly. But the key point is that there, the average Australian will have more money in their pocket – ”

              From that moment onwards he was dead. He couldn’t say how much that cake would cost. His answer was way to complex. He was 100% right but he was dead in the water. Keating called Hewson a “feral abacus!”. No electorate wants a feral abacus as prime minister. Simple concepts only that a 10 year old can understand for us voters please!


            2. different clue

              How many people read it as against how many people hear it? And hear it over and over and over again?

              How it “reads” may be irrelevant.

              1. jrs

                Yes, but maybe my contention is people should read it ;). See writings of Neil Postman etc. But my heavens is it a terrible slog to read, it’s horrible reading. Well a good compromise might be to listen to it on the radio in preference to t.v., minimize distraction at any rate.

                1. Foy

                  I think the wordpress monster has eaten my previous reply to you jrs. Here’s the shortened version.

                  Yep Trump’s words read horribly! But as different clue says, majority (most?) of the electorate don’t read them, just watch TV and hear them or see headline translations of them. Everything must be kept as simple, anything even slightly complex will lose to a simple concept or simple answer. I think the electorate overall does have the equivalent mind of an 11yo when it comes to grasping concepts put forward by politicians to vote on.

                  Look at the wiki entry for ‘birthday cake interview’ which happened in Australia in 1992 (I wont put the link in again as it seems to be killing my post). Classic case of a simple question (how much will a birthday cake cost with your new GST tax?) ending up in a complex but correct answer that then resulted in Hewson losing an ‘unlosable’ election. And Keating (who was a master persuader and went on to win) calling Hewson a ‘feral abacus’!

                  ‘Gotta keep it real simple for us voters or else’ it seems!

                2. Foy

                  I’ve tried two replies to you jrs, (you make good points). The first one was digested by the wordpress monster for 2 hours and then, thinking it was gone for good, I wrote a second shortened version. As soon as I posted it the first one appeared. Yay! So then I clicked the request delete option on the second one. But unfortunately now they are both deleted. Bummer! Ah well, next time!

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            I remember posting a link to an article about how Trump was testing out and polishing his riffs, on the fly before audiences (something that is exactly like blogging.) I don’t know if there is anything more complicated than that going on. Adams may be overthinking.

            1. Foy

              Yep Adams may just be overthinking it. Adams did say that he (Adams) has been trained in these selling and hypnosis techniques and that’s why he recognised Trump’s use of them. Anyway, just trying to look at theories as to why Trump is doing so well for so long against what was expected (besides the Washington ‘outsider’ theory)

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        “Who needs the political hack class anymore”

        Yes, Trump is a political class in himself. I’ve always wanted to put “Legion” on one of those stupid church name tags (“Hi! My name is _____”), and Trump is rather like that. But will nobody think of the poor Gaderene swine?

    4. Banana Breakfast

      Sure, but he’s not running against Bush, and conversely Sanders isn’t (literally) running against “the system”. Trump realizes, implicitly, that it’s irrelevant whether, after nuanced debate, Clinton is certifiably The Worst Secretary of State or the person who is Most Responsible for US War Crimes in the Middle East and Elsewhere. She has a terrible foreign policy perspective, a terrible foreign policy history, and is part of the elite decision making class that been the public face of those criminal policies. The public sees politicians as metonymic for their policies and the policies of their near contemporaries. Sanders’s reluctance to attack Clinton in this way seems like a failure to me, but on the other hand letting Trump do it for him has a kind of logic to it.

  10. diptherio

    re: Phillip’s Curve

    Federal Reserve officials might raise interest rates soon because they have a theory: Falling unemployment pushes up prices and wages, requiring tighter credit to keep inflation in check. What they don’t have is proof that the theory has worked consistently in the past, or evidence it is working now.

    It didn’t explain much before…and it still doesn’t. But that’s the Fed’s theory anyway. Glad the serious people have it under control. I’m sure they’ll fix everything soon.

    1. MikeNY

      Sam Zell says to expect a recession in the next 12 months. He looks at things like trade numbers, economic growth rates, and exchange rates. Silly, stupid billionaire! If only he had an infallible theory.

    2. cwaltz

      The irony is wages need to rise. They now need to cover more than they did in the past thanks to the erosion of benefits packages and the social safety nets being attacked.

      Someone should mention the substitution principle is a two way street.

  11. Wayne Harris

    “University presidents are making extravagant salaries while professors earn ‘unlivable’ wages” [Business Insider]. Makes you wonder about institutional priorities.”

    And more than half of faculty are now adjuncts. The salary-and-benefits divide between them and the tenured class is as wide as the gulf between major-carrier and commuter-airline pilots, though admittedly not as wide as between tenured faculty and presidents.

    But, to be fair, the salaries of university presidents are positively miserly compared the salaries of football coaches. At my alma mater, President John Thrasher – a former [cough] state senator, who succeeded [cough] a former Speaker of the Florida House – was forced to get by on base salary of $395,000 until the the trustees realized the inadequacy of this arrangement and granted him a $43,000 raise after less than a year at the helm. For this year, fortunately, Thrasher was able to augment the $395,000 with a $93,000 bonus and – can’t make this stuff up – and automatic 2.6% faculty increase! That brought his total compensation to $473,000 – still less than a 10th of the $5.2 million Jimbo Fisher gets to field the football team, some of whose players distinguish themselves by doing stuff like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1knTILEFW0. And that’s not counting Jimbo’s chance to earn a $1.5 million bonus.

  12. Inverness

    Re: Quebec strike. Liberal Premier Phillippe Coulliard was elected because he wasn’t Pauline Marois, who pushed for another vote for Quebec’s sovereignty, and also played identity politics (and making Muslims the boogeymen). Couillard was not elected to push austerity on the province. He just decided to do that, although he has no mandate to do so. That’s what the strike is about: not destroying public services in the name of balancing the budget.

  13. Inverness

    Love the Bernie/Killer Mike video. It’s worth sticking around for all six segments. Bernie is very much in his element, which shows he isn’t some Champagne (à la Hollande-Strauss Kahn) socialist. He was a very effective communicator, and Mike is a very good interviewer.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Needs distribution!

      Very different, however, from Clinton’s typical grip-and-grin with this or that local family or five-minutes-of-game person — or even the twenty-minute session with #BlackLivesMatter.

      Good to see Sanders plugging away on this. (Though I must admit I have no idea who “Killer Mike” is. Kudos, however, to the Sanders staff for getting this done.)

    2. BillC

      Thanks for the remark, Inverness. I didn’t know Killer Mike either, but your post led me to watch all 6 segments. Excellent interview. Gives me hope that Bernie can connect effectively with the black community.

      1. Inverness

        Bill C, it really is a fantastic interview. I realize that Bernie can be an excellent campaigner. Also, I loved the bits which referenced MLK, Jr. and his continued dedication to economic freedom.

  14. allan

    Law professor says freedom to read is too dangerous

    … law professor Eric Posner … argues that we should “[c]onsider a law that makes it a crime to access websites that glorify, express support for, or provide encouragement for ISIS or support recruitment by ISIS; to distribute links to those websites or videos, images, or text taken from those websites; or to encourage people to access such websites by supplying them with links … Woefully, Posner writes, the pesky First Amendment interferes with such a plan. Courts have repeatedly held that the First protects our right to access “[s]peech that blasts the American constitutional system and praises America’s enemies.” … So what to do about this obnoxious history of judicial rigidity when it comes to free speech and the freedom to read? Posner suggests we turn back the clock, to a time before the 1960s, when “people could be punished for engaging in dangerous speech.” Ah, the good old days.

    The University of Chicago Law School, naturally.

  15. Plenue

    I shudder to thing what grammatical structures a for-profit language built by elites would have. Hell, I bet it wouldn’t even have words for the poor. Out of talk, out of mind? If they mattered they’d be able to afford the language, obviously.

  16. David Mills

    Inre: tripping and falling into someone, catch this Seinfeld reference:

    “It was a million to one shot Doc…”

  17. Wayne Gersen

    One hole in the “Trump can’t run as an independent” notion: T-R-U-M-P is easier to spell than, say, P-E-R-O-T or even S-A-N-D-E-R-S….

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