2:00PM Water Cooler 12/5/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, my Mac laptop is still in the shop for the final stage of its keyboard transplant, so Water Cooler will be shorter than usual as I re-accustom myself to the different keyboard of my PC laptop, and the absence of my usual tools.



“No Uber union needed, says former Obama aide David Plouffe” [Seattle Times]. File under “Democrats reveal their true colors” (as if we didn’t already know).


What Would It Take To Turn Blue States Red? [FiveThirtyEight]. Fun interactive.


“Open Letter: Let’s Sit-In to Save Democracy From the Billionaire Class” [Rhana Bazzini, Medea Benjamin, Ben Cohen, Jodie Evans, Joseph Huff-Hannon, Lawrence Lessig, Joan Mandle, Kai Newkirk, Carlos Saavedra, Umi Selah, Paul Song, Zephyr Teachout, Cenk Uygur and Winnie Wong, The Nation]. Normally, I’d dismiss this as Nation-cruise stuff, but there are some impressive names on that list, especially New York’s next Governor, after Cuomo gets indictedMR SUBLIMINAL A man can dream…., Zephyr Teachout:

And we write to ask you to do something difficult and uncommon: to join us in Washington, DC, next April to take a dignified, determined stand for democracy that may result in your arrest.

Where’s the Sanders campaign on this? Sounds like it’s in their wheelhouse.

“Attendees will pay $33,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because there was no public announcement of the event,” sponsored by Warren Buffet [Bloomberg]. Gee, that’s odd. Why wouldnt’ the Clinton campaign issue an announcement?

The Trail

“A new CNN/ORC poll finds Donald Trump alone at the top of the Republican field with 36%, followed by Ted Cruz at 16%, Ben Carson at 14% and Marco Rubio at 12%”” [Political Wire].

“Less than two months before the caucuses, voters say they still haven’t settled on favorites” [Bloomberg].

“Trump picked stock fraud felon as senior adviser” [AP]. Horses for courses…

Jeffrey Goldberg and Chris Christie discuss ball-breaking [The Atlantic].

Christie: No one will break my balls like you do.
Goldberg: I don’t break your balls. This is nothing.
Christie: This is ball-breaking.
Goldberg: You’re a prosecutor from New Jersey and you think this is ball-breaking? Pathetic.
Christie: You think I mean ball-breaking being painful?
Goldberg: Oh, you mean—
Christie: —This is ball-breaking!
Goldberg: The good ball-breaking.
Christie: Yeah, ball-breaking like where we come from. With a smile on your face.
Goldberg: Alright, that’s better.

Stay classy, Governor! Don’t ever change!

“Clinton-aligned group claims to have mole in Koch machine” [The Hill. What fun!

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, November 2015: “Payroll growth is solid and, though wages aren’t building steam, today’s employment report fully cements expectations for December liftoff.” [Econoday]. “Despite soft spots and though earnings are flat, this report confirms that the nation’s labor market is solid and growing and, for the Fed, it supports arguments for the beginning of policy normalization.” Subject to revision, of course. And: “November’s jobs report’s 211,000 payroll additions was not nearly as strong as October’s revised 298,000, nor did it exceed the 12-month average of 220,000 but it was enough to keep alive the general anticipation that it won’t be the labor market that stands in the way of any Federal Reserve liftoff later this month” [Market News]. But: “The rate of growth for employment dramatically decelerated this month” [Econintersect]. Reminding us: “The monthly headline data ends up being significantly revised for months after the initial release – and is subject also to annual revisions. The question remains how seriously can you take the data when first released.” Wait, what? I thought the Fed was data-driven?

International Trade, October 2015: “The nation’s trade deficit came in at the high end of expectations in October, at $43.9 billion with details reflecting oil-price effects but also soft foreign demand. Exports fell 1.4 percent in the month while imports, pulled down by oil, fell 0.6 percent” [Econoday].

“According to new estimates derived from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) median annual household income in October 2015 was $56,671 compared to $56,392 for September” [Econintersect].

“According to new estimates derived from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) median annual household income in October 2015 was $56,671 compared to $56,392 for September” [Econoday]. But before we celebrate: ” The Sentier Household Income Index stands at 98.8 (January 2000 = 100.0) indicating that median household income in October 2015 was 1.2 percent lower than January 2000.” Now that’s what I call an unbroken record of success.

Shipping: “Rail Week Ending 28 November 2015: Contraction Growing Faster. Rail Traffic in November Down 10.4%” [Econintersect].

Dear Old Blighty

Projected Government consumption of goods and services as share of nominal GDP [Office for Budget Responsibility]. 1948 levels:


And not so coincidentally, “Labour has comfortably won its first parliamentary byelection since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, storming ahead of Ukip by more than 10,000 votes in Oldham West and Royton in Greater Manchester” [Guardian]. “McMahon’s clear win will be cheered by both the Corbyn and non-Corbyn factions of the Labour party. The former will see his victory as a vindication of the direction of the party under the new leader. The latter will be relieved, seeing McMahon as a pro-business pragmatist.” Well, maybe the whinging and backstabbing and stiffing and blinding from the Front Bench will subside now. Not.


“Authorities Say Country Still An Active Shooter Situation” [The Onion]. “Citizens Advised To Remain Alert, Stay Indoors.”s

“Australia enacted one of the largest gun reforms ever nearly 2 decades ago — and gun deaths plummeted” [Business Insider].

“Afraid of guns? Buy more guns! The circle of life in America” [First Dog on the Moon, Guardian]. A self-licking ice cream cone.

Gun trade association says that gun industry has $42 billion of “economic impact” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. Ka-ching. The association is the National Shooting Sports Foundation, located in Newton, CT, site of the Sandy Hook shooting. During Sandy Hook coverage, mention of this happy coincidence seemed virtually taboo, so its interesting to see it mentioned now.

“Senate blocks effort to keep guns from terrorists” [The Hill]. Kayfabe.


December 4 is World Soil Day.

“Why You Need to Add World Soil Day to Your Annual Calendar” [Natural Resources Defense Counsel]. Make the Physiocrat in your life happy!

“World Soil Day highlights Top 10 practices for soil health” [Tri-State Neighbor].

[R]researchers have tended to downplay the risks of soil extinctions, in part because of the perception that soil microbes and other subterranean organisms are widely distributed around the globe. In many places, however, scientists have little idea of what is living in the soil or the novel roles played by individual organisms” [Science].

Paris Scherzo [Resilience]. “Hanging out in the halls of Le Bourget one often hears the phrase, “the elephant in the room,” in reference to unspoken but huge issues that may threaten the negotiations if they are disturbed. In our view, the room is actually full of elephants, and it is a wonder delegates can even squeeze in to find their seats.”

“On the duality of climate scientists: … how integrated assessment models are hard-wired to deliver politically palatable outcomes (PDF) [Kevin Anderson].

“Norwegian energy giant Statoil has received approval to explore for oil in an area next to the Georges Bank and the entrance to the Gulf of Maine, raising environmental concerns on both sides of the border” [Portland Press Herald]. Well, maybe the lobsters heading North to escape global warming will turn around and head south when they encounter the oil slicks. Seriously, leave the stuff in the ground. Or maybe the lobstermen can bring an ISDS suit?


“Before Senate win, Rubio turned political ‘juice’ into personal profits” [WaPo]. “Rubio’s business deals during the period between his Tallahassee and Washington chapters demonstrated the ways he leveraged his enduring power inside government to make a profit on the outside. And they add to the contradictory picture of his personal finances that has emerged as his presidential campaign has gained traction — of a young man who struggled financially even as his personal income soared along with this political success.” Florida man to set up his own influence-pedding and money-laundering Foundation, I guess. Seems like a disqualifier for any serious candidate, no?

“An investigation into dealings by a Malaysian government development fund is bringing unwanted attention to a number of Swiss banks, including a small wealth manager snapped up by an Abu Dhabi investor during the financial crisis” [Wall Street Journal, “Swiss Probe of Malaysia’s 1MDB Puts Falcon Bank in Spotlight”]. “Swiss authorities investigating executives at Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, are focusing on transactions tied to the public fund that were made using Zurich-based Falcon Private Bank AG, people familiar with the matter said.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Former DIA head Michael Flynn: “I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and (Osama) bin Laden was dead. … They’re dead and these guys are, we’ve beaten them” [CNN]. “But the problem was that no matter how many terrorist leaders they killed, they ‘continue to just multiply.'” They multiply in an entirely predictable self-licking ice cream cone of ka-ching, called blow-back. Which is the story, not the administration’s “narrative.”

“McCain Says F-35’s Cost May Force Pentagon to Cut Back Purchases” [Bloomberg]. McCain: “I’m not making a judgment but it seems to me that if we had planned on originally procuring a thousand of them [by the end of this fiscal year] and instead we have procured 179, there may be some mismatch there.” I love dry humor.

Guillotine Watch

“Former Massey CEO found guilty of conspiracy in West Virginia mine blast” [Reuters]. Finally, a CEO found guilty of something!

Class Warfare
“Online Classes Appeal More to the Affluent” [New York Times]. “Free online educational courses may not be democratizing education as much as proponents believe, a new study reports.” Won’t prevent them from imposing it on the rest of us, of course.

“Big Pharma distanced itself from [glibertarian Pharma dudebro Martin] Shkreli on Thursday. “He is not us,” Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck, said during a panel.” [Gawker]. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! That Kenny. Such a kidder. Anyhow, read the article for vile quotes from Shkreli.

News of the Wired

“How People Spend Their Time in Each State, in 6 Maps” [Governing]. Maine #1 for work. We’re not lying back on our chaise lounges eating bon bons up here, you know!

* * *

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 (OregonCharles):


OregonCharles writes:

This is American persimmon. I had no idea the fall color was so brilliant. From a seed – but it’s male. Figs in the foreground.

The more I live with plants, the more I come to appreciate the canopy, the third dimension above the beds.

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, and I need to keep my server up, too.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Vatch

    Remember when Joaquin Phoenix pretended to be a rapper dude, with sunglasses and lots of mumbling and a very weird appearance on the David Letterman Show? Is it possible that Martin Shkreli is doing something similar? Maybe Shkreli is satirizing Big Pharma in hopes of reforming them? Or maybe I would be better off just believing in the Great Pumpkin.

    1. ira

      ‘Hi I’m Martin Shkreli. I’m not really a sociopathic genocidal pharmaceutical executive; I just play one on TV. I do so in the hope that everyone will understand that medical research, as well as all of it’s products — such as drugs, diagnostic tests, and diagnostic equipment — need to be considered public goods, where the profit motive has no role to play whatsoever. Please join me in helping to create a world where the health and well-being of every citizen, not profit, is all that counts.’

      I just sent it off to PhRMA. Think they’ll run it ?

  2. Matthew Saroff

    Blankenship got convicted of a misdemeanor.

    Max 1 year, and he will probably get house arrest.

  3. JTMcPhee

    Lots of economotalk about the “velocity of money.” Newton noted some other properties of matter, notably mass, and momentum, and intertia and of course acceleration. Interesting linkage on the same homepage from Huffpo just now — purely coincidental of course:

    “Congress Is About To Gut A Depression-Era Law To Help Wall Street,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trust-indenture-act_5661c3f1e4b08e945fef2bbe

    On the same vector (down into the abyss) a probably wrongfully hopeful bit: “Unprecedented Momentum to End the Drug War: Top Stories of 2015,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-newman/drug-war-2015_b_8710464.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

    And of course there was the entry from yesterday describing how a little something sneaked into a bill that was supposed to be some kind of relief from outrageously long sentences for ‘minor criminals,’ granting our effing Kleptoligarchs sanctuary from prosecution for those embarrassing White Collar Crimes involving simple negligence, gross negligence, recklessness and purely malevolently intentional Bad Behaviors in the Moral Hazard vein.

    As to the Drug Wars, as with the Global War On Terra, “It’s Too Effing Big,” there’s too much money/wealth transfer and political power “invested” in business as usual, from simple possession to private prisons to all those effing cops funding their prostiparties with “seizures.” There is a tipping point, all right, and the System is WAY past it and on the way down…

  4. craazyman

    on online courses, I have to give huge props to MIT Open Course web site. I’ve “taken” their courses in single and multi-variate calculus and linear algebra along with an awesome and self-contained set of 80 math lectures on single and multivariate calculus, imaginary numbers, differential equations, linear algebra and with reference to some more advanced math topics like LaPlace transforms, as well as a full review of series and sequences, among other basic math concepts. It’s all there, incredibly well presented and for free.

    That means, for me, I lay around and watch the lecture. And I’ll read the book too, sometimes, but only as a last resort (OK I’m just having fun, the books are pretty important too). If I don’t understand something, I watch the lecture again until I do. This is easy undergrad math (mostly) so it’s not that hard, but the videos are fantastic. I also donate some money, but not enough given what I’ve gotten from them. I’m determined to learn the math of relativity and quantum mechanics. It’s like Chinese. It doesn’t intimidate me, but I know I have to work at it to learn it.

    Of course, this is not anything I’ll get “credit” for. So the democratizing aspect of free online education is a bit of a fabulation in some respects. But not in others. These videos are incredible resources for younger people in high school or college, where they can support for credit studies, or (like myself) working people developing knowledge of areas pertaining to their work (for me it’s quantitative aspects of finance). I don’t get a degree from MIT but I do demonstrate the knowledge I’ve acquired from the MIT courses and that has been helpful for me professionally.

    In a perfect world, education should be like the old public art schools in Europe (and the Art Student’s league in New York), you just go and pay a modest fee (the financial model needs some thought here for broad education) and either you stick with it and learn or you don’t. There’s no entrance exam. You just go and do it if you can. If you can, then you keep doing it.

    1. Jagger

      on online courses, I have to give huge props to MIT Open Course web site.

      So did MIT let you ask any piercing questions or make any droll but pertinant comments to kept the profs on their toes?

      1. craazyman

        No. One of the video series (the 80 lectures) was recorded in 1971, the others in 1999 and 2005/6.

        It’s true it’s hard as hell to learn by yourself. If you were there as a student, you’d have recitations and study groups and office hours to ask questions. I have the trees, but sometimes that’s the best discipline. (Of course I could pay for a tutor and I might at some point, so it’s not like I’m deprived).

        I kid around a lot, that’s true. But this is serious. These guys are world class mathematicians teaching something as best they can, with all the lucidity and clarity an incredibly intelligent person can bring to a topic, and it’s an incredible resource for people interested enough to take advantage of it.

        1. Jagger

          Congratulations. And if you want to drive yourself completely crazy, take a graduate level stats class. It was completely unintuitive for me. I made it through by following the formulas and not trying to think it out too much which kind of defeats the purpose. But did get an A out of it which was definitely a miracle. Sadly today, I can barely do simply math without a calculator.

          1. craazyman

            hahahah. sounds like you’re an outlier! Holy smokes, an “A” from random application of formulas. What was your p-value for that one, about 0.001%? :-)

            stats is a train wreck of confusion the way I’ve seen it taught, but if it’s taught right it’s actually pretty straightforward. Most math teaching is a disaster zone of confusing confusion. It’s really not nearly as bad as it can seem. For stats get the book by Freedman, Pisani, Purves. For Calculus anything by George F. Simmons, he even wrote an astonishingly compact but comprehensive and very clear monograph on pre-calculus math. Dust off the cobwebs from jr. high school algebra & geometry! It’s not so hard.

            1. weevish

              Ah Simmons. Deja vu!

              He wrote the text used in the differential equations class I took lo these many years ago. Good book – in addition to the math, it included lots of interesting historical anecdotes about such topics as those wild ‘n’ crazy Bernoulli brothers.

              1. craazyman

                That’s what I love about his writing. He loves relating the personalities and events of the day that surrounded the math advances. That’s pretty cool, it’s almost cinematic. I love that kind of an author. I haven’t read his book on DiffEQs but over the next year I plan to. I’m trying to lay out a plan of attack on the topics so within a couple years I achieve my goal. Which is to figure out how Bigfoot can materialize and dematerialize in a way that renders e=mc^2 only a special case of a more general mass/energy transform. It probably has something to do with Jungian archetypes and multi-dimensional space/time/consciousness. The real physicists, they’re too conservative to really figure this stuff out. They’re brainwashed by their schooling. hahahaah

            2. EmilianoZ

              I’m glad you’re talking about maths. I need your help about Lagrange multipliers.

              Usually it is used to find some values (scalars) that minimizes (or maximizes) a function with some constraints. But can you use it to find a function that extremizes a functional (some kinda function of the function you’re looking for)? Can you take the derivative of a functional in respect to a function in the same way as if it were just a scalar?

              1. Tom Allen

                Sounds like you want the Euler-Lagrange equation, not Lagrange multipliers.

                If you have a functional S(x) = integral of L(t, x(t), x'(t)) dt

                [e.g. t=time, x=position, x’=dx/dt=velocity] then you extremize S(x) by solving

                ∂L/∂x = d/dt ∂L/∂x’

                So no, you don’t take the derivative with respect to the function, you take derivatives with respect to the coordinates.

                1. EmilianoZ

                  Thanks, I think you’re right. But let’s say you have functional F1. Then you add the constraint term which is something like lambda*F2. That gives you the total functional:

                  S = F1 + lambda*F2

                  Then, as you say, you can use Euler-Lagrange on S. But it’s still like you extremized F1 with constraint F2. No?

              2. weevish

                You want to look up Calculus of Variations. The Simmons book on differential equations gives a very brief intro to the subject in its discussion of the famous Brachistochrone problem (the Bernoullis figure into this again if I recall correctly).

                It’s a rich (and very cool) field of study all by itself and forms part of the foundation for such things as quantum mechanics.

              3. craazyman

                It sounds like you could help me. :-)

                My survey has been pretty fast-paced and I’ve only skimmed the basic ideas across the topics, looking in particular for their application to the concepts I deal with on the day job.

                I haven’t dug into Lagrange multipliers except very superficially and only in the context of your description of their “usual” usage. Sounds like we have a few dudes here who can help both of us!

              4. mps

                It sounds like you are interested in solving an infinite-dimensional optimization problem (i.e., optimizing a function that has a function as its input). Such problems are generally difficult to solve.

                Your question is actually a question about optimality conditions. The general way to solve an optimization problem is to find some points (or functions in your case) that satisfy some necessary condition that any optimal point must satisfy. The Euler-Lagrange equation that some described below is an optimality condition for optimization problems with a specific structure. The Lagrange multipliers approach you seem to be familiar with is another set of optimality conditions. (A more general version of the Lagrange multiplier conditions are the Karush-Kuhn-Tucker conditions.)

                To be honest, I am not sure what general optimality conditions for an infinite-dimensional optimization problem look like. Generally, in practice people solve infinite-dimensional optimization problems by discretizing the problem. You transform the function into a vector by using for instance a Fourier series (or other series representation) of the function and then truncating the series.

            3. Jagger

              Holy smokes, an “A” from random application of formulas. What was your p-value for that one, about 0.001%? :-)

              Hehe…I worked my tail end off to get that. I probably spent as much time on that one course as all the rest put together.

              Dust off the cobwebs from jr. high school algebra & geometry!

              Not enough hours in the day. Besides I prefer history…

          2. curlydan

            I’ve got a masters degree in stats, and I’d say you’ve correctly described most stats classes. It’s not intuitive, and mainly a branch of math for the students who couldn’t handle the heavy theory/proof that dominates a lot post-calculus math. Linear regression, though, is pretty cool and fairly intuitive.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The only math one needs is math inequality.

      That $1 billion > $8/hr.

      And that’s the widow you should marry.

      Also, diamonds are your best friend. (the student is urged to work out the math inequality).

      Bonus exercise. True of false? Ferrari > Prius?

      The rest of a kid’s education should be devoted to avoid toxicity in the life.

    3. cwaltz

      I fiddled around with Kahn University and thought it was kind of neat if you had the time for it. I haven’t looked at MIT but Khan actually was pretty easy to follow. It kind of uses pre testing to figure out what you already know and what you might need a refresher in. The lessons are small enough that you only need to carve out 15 to 30 minutes for the work. It was probably easier than my online courses at community college.

      I kind of used it to keep my skills sharp and to see what teaching styles are being utilized.

  5. Left in Wisconsin

    Uber: I love that O’s man, Plouffe, is trumpeting Uber as a boon to workers in an era of wage stagnation – “Hey, just work a second (or third) job in what used to be your family/leisure time.” Uber is just one more job crapification program.

    Was he the one behind “Hope and Change?” It should have been “False Hope and Small Change, which your going to need so start scraping the cushions.”

    1. rich

      Ex-Goldman Banker Who Profited from Housing Crash and Subsequent Bailout Donates $100k to Hillary SuperPAC
      Hillary Clinton is so completely owned and captured by Wall Street, she recently decided the only way to defend such blatant ties is to shamelessly say she helped them because of 9/11.

      In case you need further evidence of how confident financial cronies are that she will do their every bidding, we learn the following from the Intercept:

      The fact remains that the Clinton campaign is fundraising heavily from Wall Street. Contributions from the securities and investment industries comprise her fourth-largest pile of campaign money, totaling $2,044,471. Commercial banks have given $443,519 directly to her campaign.

      One major donor to her Super PAC, Priorities USA, is Donald Mullen, Jr., a man who was singularly able to profit from the financial crisis both before and after the crash of the housing bubble.

      Mullen, while a Goldman Sachs employee, pioneered the trades that allowed the mega-bank to profit from the collapse of the housing market. Mullen’s team utilized financial instruments called collateralized debt obligations to essentially bet against subprime mortgages.


      support bernie….

      1. Pavel

        From the “plus ça change” department… Over at Counterpunch.org Jeffrey St Claire is reposting the articles he and Alex Cockburn (RIP) published during the Clinton 1.0 administration. The latest one concerns the “coffee klatches” they held in return for… who could’ve predicted?!… cash donations:

        Read the whole piece here but enjoy the excerpts below:

        Between Jan. 1, 1995 and Aug. 23, 1996, some 1,500 people were invited to the White House for coffee sessions with President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Vice President Al Gore. The coffees were a fundraising scheme hatched by Clinton’s longtime political adviser Dick Morris, and may have raised more than $3.5 million for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton/Gore re-election effort…

        First, some sociology on the attendees. By far the most heavily represented group were the Washington lobbyists, arriving in a familiar torrent of names: Patton, Boggs, and Blow, …

        Chasing close on the lobbyists’ heels were the bankers, bond traders, and mutual fund operators, including executives from Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and Chase Manhattan. One intriguing session, which seems particularly ripe for the scrutiny of a special prosecutor, occurred on May 13, 1996, between the top 16 bankers in the country, the President of the United States, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Secretary of the Treasury.

        Third in frequency was the telecommunications sector…Telecommunications companies wired the Democratic Party with nearly $20 million.

        Next came the health care and insurance lobbies, which were keen on killing any new initiative for a national health care system…

        Close behind were the energy and oil companies. Executives from Enron, Exxon, Amoco, Arco, and Phillips all graced the White House with appearances…

        The Clinton Files: Those White House Coffee Klatsches

        The Clintons: decades of greed, corruption, and deceit.

    2. HopeLB

      I used to receive those Obama propagandizing pufferies, the Plouffe White House emails, and would always respond to them with impertinent disdain. I feel exonorated now that his true allegiance is on display.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I’ve seen the pool from which Uber “hires” for its “jobs.” Down, out, and desperate is a good way to describe these people.

        And, once they’re “hired,” very few of them seem happy with the Uber experience.

    3. C

      The money quote for the Plouffe article is probably this one:

      In an interview Thursday, Plouffe sought to counter that view, saying companies like Uber help workers by giving them new moneymaking options in an era of wage stagnation.
      Related story

      “How people are using the Uber platform now is to augment existing income, to provide a bridge when they may lose their job or get their hours cut,”

      So in their view the fact that people get paid less per hour of work is not the problem. The fact that ever more money is siphoned off by stock managers is not the problem. The problem is that people don’t have “opportunities” for second, third, or even fourth gigs. The problem that they solve by giving people the chance to work nights, weekends, holidays, for even less than minimum wage.

      If I believed that he had a soul I would worry about it.

  6. Grizziz

    Florida man to set up his own influence-pedding and money-laundering Foundation, I guess. Seems like a disqualifier for any serious candidate, no?
    More like the ‘new normal.’

  7. NeqNeq

    re: Senate blocks effort to keep guns from terrorists

    This is a no brainer as it could be used to determine what names are on the super-secret list!

    Imagine the noise this would generate when White, Christian, Citizens were denied guns just because they were members of a militia group, law enforcement based biker gang, or gave money to an ALF/ELF affiliated charity! Politicians would be forced to choose sides and/or make enemies!

    (this post is made somewhat in jest)

    1. different clue

      I hadn’t read this comment when I wrote my own way down at the bottom of the thread. Your post may be somewhat in jest, but it is completely accurate. The Do Not Fly list is strictly political and persecutional and basing “no guns for you” on someone’s presence on that list would indeed expose the complete politicalness of that list.

      Looked at through “the other end of the telescope”, one might ask . . . would the two most recent California shooters have shown up on that list? If so, my case is just that much weakened. But if not, my case is just that much strengthened.

      Even writing such a law is a perfect demonstration of the complete and utter bad faith of the liberals and the Democrats on this issue. They have operated in so much bad faith for so long that they have built up a fund of Negative Credibility so huge that they would have to work for several years to bring their Credibility Quotient up to Zero. As a consequence, talk about common sense gun safety has been poisoned at the well, and the National Rifle Association continues to run amok in the power vacuum of the Left’s hopeless bullshit about guns.

      For example, a couple posts ago, I read about how the Gun Control Crowd pats itself on the back about being more “urban and better educated” and so forth. Retired Colonel Lang, the proprietor of Sic Semper Tyrannis knows at least 4 languages. How many Gun Controllers here can say the same? Lang lives in Alexandria, Virginia, which is plenty urban. And he owns several guns for different purposes. I have a co-worker here at work from upper-state New York. He undergraduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has recently finished his Masters here at the University of Michigan. Less urban? Maybe. Less educated? Hardly. He owns several different guns for several different reasons. And some brill-yunt in-duh-lectual is going to convince either Colonel Lang or my co-worker that they are afflicted with “hoplophallic ammosexuality” and “consumer object fetishization”?
      Really? I invite any such brill-yunt in-duh-lectual to give it a try. Honestly, every time the gun control creeps open their mouth, another million guns get made and sold.

      By the way, I am as gunless as the day I was born, and have only ever even fired off 4 rounds in my whole life that I can even remember.

      1. jgordon

        Hmph. I don’t even own a gun either, yet there are people calling me “ammosexual” because of my political orientation, as if that makes any sense at all. It’s absolutely no wonder that these anti-gun crusaders are the best salesmen for the NRA out there.

    1. Nigelk

      No one ever needs to cue David Brooks. Maybe he’ll tell us more about his $120K vacation with 2nd-rate wealthy people who aren’t the richest of the rich. We can all tut-tut and adjust our monocles and wonder why all the new money is so *provincial*, Smithers!

  8. Mark Alexander

    “Maine #1 for work. We’re not lying back on our chaise lounges eating bon bons up here, you know!”

    Vermont was #1 for time spent eating. So apparently we’re the ones eating bon-bons in our chaise lounges.

  9. none

    I’ve taken to referring to Christie as “Happy Buddha”. Apparently this is written in Vietnamese as “Phật Phúc”, which causes some sniggers since some Vietnamese restaurants are named that.

  10. DJG

    Democracy Spring (The Nation): This seems to be the program:
    “Our collective demand to Congress is that it take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in politics and ensure free & fair elections in which every American has an equal voice. We will be identifying a small set of reform bills that are or will be pending before Congress as exemplary actions that can be taken. This set will include at minimum a strong citizen or public financing bill, a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act and combat voter suppression, and a Constitutional Amendment overturning Citizens United. We are still evaluating the exact bills which will be included in the set of exemplary reforms.”

    On the up side, Code Pink is involved. They have a legislative program. On the down side, their site can’t quite get out the words, “Shut it down.” Instead, there is a lot of nonpartisanship and “transpartisanship” and self-induced melodrama. Let’s hope that they get over the melodrama quickly.

    Can anyone figure out who is the coordinating committee?

  11. polecat

    ‘Physiocrat’ humm……how about ‘Gaiacrat’ …..has a better ring to my ears,…. ya know,……as in “gaia get me some more naive donor moola”. ok……..let the groans begin

  12. afisher

    Amusing that people here love to talk about Obama and HRC and totally leave the GOP unscathed. Is that a feature or bug? I learn more reading about campaigns and wealthy donor supporters by reading the FEC independent expenditure pages than anywhere else.

    Politicians with associated SuperPacs spend lots of time making videos and posting them to U-tube. If their SuperPac happens to see the video and learns what the campaign is doing – well that is just an amazingly a strange coincidence.

    Rubio sounds like a “kinder gentler” or at least a younger version of Walker – when he learned that becoming a politico was a whole lot easier that getting a real job.

    1. cwaltz

      I’m going to guess that you don’t get here that often and completely missed the threads that mocked Trump and the GOP clown car that originally had 17 clowns in it.

      You really should gather all the information you can though before jumping to erroneous conclusions.

      It’s a FEATURE here to utilize critical thinking and debate rigorously on topics like politics. If you want a Democratic cheerleading site there are plenty of those out there, and this probably isn’t going to be the site for you(where everyone is free to cheer or criticize both sides of the aisle and folks are prepared to defend their viewpoint, sometimes vigorously.)

    2. Kurt Sperry

      OK, I’ll admit it: I hold the donkeys to a higher standard than the elephants because they claim to meet a higher standard. And then usually don’t. The Republican party is beneath serious criticism in the same way that the Home Shopping Network, deep fried Snickers bars, or the 900 Club (is that its name?) are. Nobody with any sentient awareness takes anything about them seriously enough to bother.

      1. different clue

        I would agree that one can be passively uninterested in the Home Shopping Network and deep fried Snickers bars, because they won’t try to reach out and touch you. But the 700 Club may well deserve a certain measure of your alertly awareful attention, because it and its Robertson work to shape the world you live in. As Leon Trotsky once said: ” You may not be interested in The 700 Club, but The 700 Club is very interested in you.”

        1. Steven D.

          It’s too easy to criticize the Republicans and it’s just preaching to the choir. The liberals can’t stand to admit the Democrats’ constant betrayals along with those of that impressive young man in the White House.

    3. Plenue

      It’s easy and commonplace to shred the GOP. You can get that anywhere. Frankly at this point it goes without saying that the Republicans are mostly, if not entirely, mean spirited morons hellbent on destruction. Those that don’t already know that are very unlikely to be hanging out in places like this.

      What is far less common is the Democrats actually being held to the same standard. Or hell, any standard at all. If someone has a (D) in front of their name they are given an insane amount of leeway and have a never ending line of pundits and apparatchiks waiting in the wings to make excuses and provide ideological cover. The GOP is already a lost cause, the DNC however at least pretends to not be totally monstrous and should be held to account.

    4. different clue

      Well, since Obama is really a secret undercover Republican, when we scathe Obama, we ARE scathing the Republicans. ah ha ha ha . . .

  13. PhilK

    Amusing that people here love to talk about Obama and HRC and totally leave the GOP unscathed.

    I imagine that in their lunchroom conversations, NASA engineers have spirited discussions and arguments about the merits of one rocket engine versus another rocket engine, and this guidance system versus some other guidance system, and the like. I also suspect that these discussions leave the Flat Earth Society totally unscathed.

  14. different clue

    About “keeping guns from terrorists” . . .

    I remember reading a few couple years ago about how the No Fly List was strictly political. It was secret how you got on there and there was no way to get you off. It could be used to keep any activist from flying on any plane to keep them away from any meeting. Senator Ted Kennedy was once denied boarding onto a plane because he was on the No Fly List. Apparently he was able to cause someone so much pain as to force his name back off the list. But I believe the No Fly Listers were able to disrupt his travel for a while.

    So stopping this so-called “law” was the right thing to do, even if done for the wrong reasons. Again, the No Fly List has nothing to do with terrorists except perhaps accidentally. It is a political weapon being held in reserve. Just watch how many people get “no-flyed” if another big Occupy movement rolls around.

  15. rich

    If Elected, Here’s How Bernie Sanders Would Choose His Supreme Court Nominees

    “I will not nominate any man or woman to the Supreme Court unless that individual is loud and clear in saying he or she will vote to overturn Citizens’ United and do that as quickly as possible” – Bernie Sanders

    Sanders said before he’d tap any new justices to the bench, there is one test they’d have to pass.

    “I will not nominate any man or woman to the Supreme Court unless that individual is loud and clear in saying he or she will vote to overturn Citizens’ United and do that as quickly as possible,” he told NHPR’s Laura Knoy and Josh Rogers, referring to a Supreme Court decision that loosened restrictions on spending in elections.

    Besides vowing to keep money out of politics, he also added, his justices would have to strongly support women’s right to choose. And when it comes to his cabinet – the Independent senator from Vermont said members of Wall Street will not play a big role.

    On Saturday Sanders will be hosting two town halls in Keene and Plymouth.


    sounds good to me.

    1. Daryl

      This will be handy to send along to the “but we have to vote Hillary because of the Supreme Court” people.

  16. Plenue

    Looking through the last few days worth of naked capitalism posts (I was several days behind on my reading), I saw some discussion of Trumps success as a counter-attack against political correctness. I think there’s a lot of truth to this. PC (and whining about PC) is nothing new, but at least in certain areas of the internet the war has reached new heights, with ‘Social Justice Warrior’ becoming both a slur and a label of pride for different people. Things often get incredibly vitriolic (escalating all the way up to doxxing by both sides in order to bring the fighting out of the realm of the digital and into the real world). And of course outside of the internet the type of person that was complaining about PC 20 years ago is still complaining about it. Issues of immigration are also often tied up with talk of ‘political correctness’.

    Trump is getting support partly because he’s a brazen asshole. And the more of a jerk he is, the higher his numbers go. People who feel themselves fed up with the supposed prominence of PC love him because he’s giving voice to all the things they secretly (or not so secretly) think but feel they aren’t allowed to say. To them he’s ‘frank’ and ‘honest’ and doesn’t stand for BS. He doesn’t feel like a politician. They imagine if elected he’ll slap sense into people, foreign and domestic, and magically get things done in short order because he isn’t a conniving politico. He’ll kick out all the dirty job-stealing Mexicans and potential-threat Muslims, he’ll put Putin in his place, he’ll punish the bankers, he’ll give everyone jobs etc.

    He may not be a full-on fascist, but he’s a kind of fascist-lite, and even if he loses the nomination or election that well of hateful discontent among the voters isn’t going to disappear. Someone else, likely worse, will come along and exploit/channel it again.


    This book seems pertinent.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I remember my father being exercised about “political correctness” back in the 90s because of the corruption of language (“disabled” vs. “differently abled”).

      There’s nothing new about the phrase, and suddenly it’s bubbled to the surface of the discourse again. Often, such things don’t happen spontaneously, but are engineered by some faction or other. I wish I knew if that were true in this case. Perhaps Trump did it personally? He is a 90s kind of guy.

  17. ewmayer

    I feel a great disturbance in the debt-spewing force that is the US government: Over the course of a full year, from 9/01/2014 to 9/01/2015, total US debt rose by a mere (in recent-historical terms) $402 Bln. In the 3 ensuing months, it jumped an additional $647 Bln, including a step-function move of +$340 Bln in just a single fiscal day, from Friday 10/30 to Monday 11/02. That was quite a naughty trick to play on Halloween! So who got the resulting monetary candy? Or better, since $340 Bln is around $1000 for each USian, where’s my stack of 10 Halloween Bennies? I’m raring to do my patriotic duty and spend such a windfall right back into the domestic economy, not park it in some Caymans tax-haven bank or blow it on weapons for moderate Syrian rebels.

    1. lambert strether

      Your stack of bennies is being carefully held in trust for you by the 1%. You can have access to it at any time. Just ask the right people.

  18. Local to Oakland

    Re the CNN ORC poll, I understand why Trump would hit at least 36 percent, but I want to see them ask the hobbits, not just just orcs. : P

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