2:00PM Water Cooler 12/8/2015

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, today I must rush to the shop to retrieve my Mac laptop from the shop, which they failed to fix, having ordered the wrong keys. I hope I don’t lose a tooth to the grinding. Of course, Apple having designed a machine that’s absurdly difficult to repair is part of the problem, but that’s why one pays a repair shop the big bucks. Snarl.


“The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that Canada and Mexico can slap more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation for meat labeling rules it says discriminated against Mexican and Canadian livestock” [ABC]. This is country-of-origin labeling. Crazy stuff. I mean, who wants to know where their meat comes front? Oh, and that talking point that the US never loses an ISDS suit? Vaporized.



“Elizabeth Warren endorses Hillary Clinton’s proposed new Wall Street regulations” [Salon]. “She and I agree.” However, reading beyond the (Democratic apparatchik-authored Salon) headline, I think Warren’s position is more nuanced. Clinton’s Op-Ed (not really “proposed” “regulations”) might set a floor. I don’t see Warren as saying it sets a ceiling. However, that’s what Clinton clearly means.

“Donald Trump on Monday said there should be a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,’ a surprising escalation of rhetoric—even for him” [Politico]. Including, apparently, US citizens who are Muslims, translators, ambassassadors, etc. How Trump proposes to implement this without a religious test at the border is unclear, at least for countries (like the United States) that don’t put religious status on passports.

““Large segments of the Muslim population” are driven by a blind hatred, Trump said, and until and unless “we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses,” members of the Islamic faith must be kept from the country indefinitely” [Los Angeles Times].

And then there’s this:

(And Santorum plays the same card: “Iowa could be terror target” [Des Moines Register].

Here are some reactions to Trump’s latest:

Chair of South Carolina Republican Party: “As a conservative who truly cares about religious liberty, Donald Trump’s bad idea and rhetoric send a shiver down my spine” [@MattMooreSC].

Jebbie: “Donald Trump is unhinged” [Newsweek]. And Jeb Bush is at 4%.

Karl Rove: “If you call all the people you’re running against losers, clowns, and dopes, that’s not the language of someone who unifies the party” [New York Magazine]. Well, no. No it isn’t.

“Trump Gives Muslim On Fence About Radicalizing Just The Push He Needed” [The Onion].

Of course, there’s the Twitter:

My reaction:

If things go on as they are, Trump is going to taste blood, and he — and the rest of us — will have to figure out how to react to the innovation. (That is, the kayfabe will extend to the audience, as opposed taking place in and just outside of the ring. Not a dry seat in the house, but not in the usual sense of the term.) I can see this happening in two ways: First, and most obviously, we’ve already seen avowed Trump supporters beating up homeless people, and roughing up protesters at Trump campaign events. And when something much worse happens? Less obviously, both Trump, and Santorum, are giving anybody who wants to “sharpen the contradictions” both within the United States electorate and in its imperial policy a barely concealed but very clear blueprint of how to do so: Launch an attack in the election season. I remember vividly the gaslighting that Bush administration used during campaign 2004 — remember those stupid color-coded threat levels? — but a genuine attack (for some definition of genuine) could have much more impact. The lizard backbrain likes blood. As do many quite cool intelligences, globally. This could get ugly.

The Voters

“Donald Trump has a base: 76% of Republicans think Islam is un-American” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. Although I don’t know the quality of the American values survey.

The Trail

“Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Monday that it would be “a real disservice to many millions of people” for him to shift his campaign focus away from issues impacting the “disappearing middle class,” despite intense media interest in terrorism and foreign policy” [WaPo].

“History shows that even in an normal year, Iowans rarely settle on a final decision until the last possible moment. In past election cycles, the final four-day poll conducted just before the caucuses shows how much turbulence remains late in the race” [J Ann Selzer, Bloomberg]. Selzer is the dean of Iowa pollsters. She says: “I have seen too much to speculate on how this caucus will turn out. It is unlike any I have polled before. It’s unlike any my predecessors would have polled before. Anything can happen. And likely will.” I agree. I also think her statement applies across the board, i.e., to the Democratic race. People who declare — months before the first vote has been cast! — that Clinton has won, or Sanders has lost, or even that O’Malley is a non-factor, should in my view look more to opportunity than succumb to despair. (Note also Karl Rove:”There’s never been anything like this” [New York Magazine].)

Iowa: Trump, 33%; Cruz, 20%; Carson (fading) 16%; Rubio: 11%; Bush: 4% [CNN].

“A site with the domain name JebBush.com redirects to the real estate mogul’s official presidential campaign page, donaldjtrump.com, and features Trump’s slogan with options to support or donate to his campaign” [The Hill]. All that money, Jebbie. All that money…

The Hill

“Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) indicated Monday that Congress might not hit the Friday deadline to pass a catch-all government spending bill and renew a package of tax breaks” [The Hill]. “A shutdown is still unlikely, since Congress would pass a short-term measure lasting a few days if the omnibus isn’t ready in time.”

Interesting article on dynamics in the House Republican caucus [The New Yorker].

Ryan represents a bridge between Boehner’s generation and the members elected since 2010, and some in the older guard told me they don’t know if Ryan can control [Freedom Caucus leader] Labrador’s faction any better than Boehner could. ‘The question remains: can we change the underlying political dynamic that brought us to this point?’ Charlie Dent, the head of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of fifty-six center-right Republicans, told me. He said that the Republican conference was divided into three groups: seventy to a hundred governing conservatives, who always voted for the imperfect legislation that kept the government running; seventy to eighty ‘hope yes, vote no’ Republicans, who voted against those bills but secretly hoped they would pass; and the forty to sixty members of the rejectionist wing, dominated by the Freedom Caucus, who voted against everything and considered government shutdowns a routine part of negotiating with Obama. ‘Paul Ryan’s got his work cut out for him to expand the governing wing of the Republican Party,’ Dent said. ‘There shouldn’t be too much accommodation or appeasement of those who are part of the rejectionist wing.’

Then again, this is the party that impeached Bill Clinton over a *******, and went on from there to try to steal election 2000 in Florida. There really isn’t much new here.

Stats Watch

JOLTS, October 2015: “Job openings, which had been extremely strong, are falling quickly” [Econoday]. “there is one plus in the drop in openings (at least if you’re a hawk at the Fed), is that it does not point to an increasing pace of labor market utilization at a time when available labor is diminishing which in turn points to less pressure on wages.”

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, November 2015: “Expectations are falling in consumer confidence readings and also some business readings including the small business optimism index” [Econoday]. ” Components showing the most weakness relative to October are future sales followed by the economic outlook and earnings trends. But holding steady at solid levels are job openings, capital investment plans, and hiring plans.” And: “[C]ollapses in November after three stagnant months” [Econintersect].

Consumer Credit, October 2015: “total consumer credit rose a lower-than-expected $16.0 billion in October” [Econoday]. “Still, the pause for revolving credit won’t be lifting expectations for holiday spending.” And: “The headlines say consumer credit rate of growth declined – and came in well below market expectations. Our analysis shows year-over-year consumer credit growth rate decelerated. Still consumer credit growth remains well above economic growth” [Econintersect]. And: “Looks like the last blip up just got reversed so it continues to go nowhere and it’s at levels higher than before the last recession” [Mosler Economics].

[Wall Street Journal, “The November Jobs Report in 14 Charts”]. So far as I can tell, nothing is really better than before the Crash, and there’s lots worse. I wish I’d gotten to the party while there was still punch…

Health Care

“Association Between the Affordable Care Act Dependent Coverage Expansion and Cervical Cancer Stage and Treatment in Young Women” [Journal of the American Medical Association]. Increased access to health care can increase treatment.

Our Famously Free Press

“Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanderswon [Time’s] annual readers poll with more than 10 percent of support, but didn’t make it on the shortlist” for 2015 Person of the Year [The Hill]. Gee, that’s odd.

Trump and “access panic” [The Awl]. With Trump’s twittorrhea, he doesn’t have to beg for access.

“By permeable publishing, we mean a new form of reading experience, in which readers may “push back” through the medium to ask specific, contextual (and constrained) questions of the author” [New York Times Labs].


“China’s capital on Monday issued its first ever ‘red alert’ for pollution, as the city government warned that Beijing would be shrouded in heavy smog from Tuesday until Thursday” [HuffPo> (PT)]. Pictures of Beijing are all over the twitter. Not looking good.

“Chinese artist uses ‘vacuum cleaner’ to turn smog into brick” [CNN]. Literally. He walks around Beijing holding the nozzle of an industrial vacuum cleaner up in the air. After a month, he turns the detritus in the bag into a brick.

“Canada shocks COP21 with big new climate goal:” 1.5 degrees C [National Observer (PT)].

“[Elliot Diringer, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions] has advice for oil executives [at COP21]: ‘You are really going to have to devote some energy to repositioning the image of the industry as a solution instead of as a problem.'” [CBC].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Amnesty: Most weapons used by IS were seized from Iraqi army” [AP]. It would really be more sensible, and humane, if we dumped pallets of cash over Syria. Let the magic of the marketplace work…

Guillotine Watch

“Brazen thieves target Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop pop-up store in New York – and run off with $173,000 of merchandise after forcing open display case” [Daily Mail]. “Paltrow’s lifestyle range features $8,900 dresses, custom-made furniture, and at the ‘lower end’ $275 leather bracelets.”

Class Warfare

“How Change Happens: Interdisciplinary perspectives for human development” (PDF) [Oxfam]. I have a weakness for typologies, as readers know, so I’m doing to paste in a (too small, sorry) image of the key table, “The Rough Guide to How Change Happens”:


Shannon Liss-Riordan, “the lawyer looking to kill the ‘gig economy’” [Marketwatch]. “The lower-cost business model referred to by many names that these startups rely on hires workers on a freelance basis, without the full benefits of employees, and often gets them to use their own resources, such as their own cars, bikes, etc. But these drivers, shoppers or even “ninjas” can often be monitored through a company’s mobile app or internal software, asked to wear company uniforms, behave according to company policies or “suggestions,” and can be easily terminated.” Note that many, many of Silicon Valley’s sky-high valuations depend on companies whose business models depend on breaking the law to enter markets, and screw over workers into the bargain.

“Intersectional Food Politics & The Failure of SNAP Challenges” [Decolonize all the things].

Recently Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted a picture of $29 worth of food to equate to what a family on SNAP benefits has for a week with on food stamps. … Rich people who do SNAP challenges don’t have to deal with the overlaying, connected, & intersecting factors of poverty & the consequences of deteriorating health that comes with it. So the processed foods they have to constantly eat coupled with the stresses of poverty puts them at higher risk for a wide variety of chronic illnesses. The stress of poverty alone can kill. … [And] SNAP challenges ignore how ridiculously difficult it is for poor people to get SNAP benefits. For instance, if you’re working poor and have a family, when are you supposed to have the time to make it to a downtown social services office when you work during their open hours? Not to mention the fact that many people who make more than the federal poverty threshold are STILL POOR but don’t qualify for SNAP benefits. These individuals have to practically make due with tiny food budgets & make food stretch paycheck to paycheck, month to month. Food insecurity is not limited to SNAP benefits, poverty is not limited to the federal poverty line.

“A farmer-philosopher who confounds expectations about Islam and outsiders in the South” [The Economist]. Not sure where to file this, but it goes well with the previous link.

“College enrollment rates are dropping, especially among low-income students” [WaPo].

News of the Wired

“Algorithm writers need a code of conduct” [Guardian]. MR: “Isn’t it a little late?”

“Discovery of Giant Wasp Opens Window to Ancient Forests” [New Historian]. I’m a giant WASP myself…

“Researchers want to wire the human body with sensors that could harvest reams of data—and transform health care” [Scientific American]. Interesting tech. OTOH, you have to wonder what insights that teaching medicos to train their five senses on the actual human in front of them can do, especially in countries that are not rich. Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell are all highly evolved “sensors,” after all.

“The race to bring driverless cars to the masses is only just beginning, but already it is a fight for the ages. The competition is fierce, secretive, and elite. It pits Apple against Google against Tesla against Uber: all titans of Silicon Valley, in many ways as enigmatic as they are revered” [The Atlantic]. “Revered”?

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Kokuanani):


Note the masses of color. Monet’s Giverney is a grandmother’s garden!

* * *

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. Left in Wisconsin

    1. Anyone who says there is upward pressure on wages is insane or disingenuous.

    2. I think the Iowa expert is correct. I give Sanders a 50-50 chance of winning. But will require serious investment in organization. He will need regular people, not insiders, to organize caucus supporters. Not easy.

    3. “This could get ugly” – Agreed.

      1. MikeNY

        That’s ‘good inflation’. You know, like ‘good cholesterol’. — The Federal Reserve, kissing plutocrat asses since 1913

  2. Jim Haygood

    Canada capitulates:

    Speaking to the Empire Club in Toronto, [central bank Governor Stephen] Poloz said moving its benchmark interest rates below zero is something in the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy toolkit that the bank may consider down the line.

    “The bank is now confident that Canadian financial markets could also function in a negative interest rate environment,” Poloz said in prepared remarks. “We now believe that the effective lower bound for Canada’s policy rate is around minus 0.5 per cent, but it could be a little higher or lower.”

    Poloz was speaking after the Canadian dollar today shed another half-cent from the previous day, dropping to under 74 cents US.


    Unlike J-Yel, Canada cares a lot about falling commodity prices. Poloz’s rather desperate threat to “go negative” on us shows that he’s a scared puppy.

    So as the loonie carries on sinking, the mighty USD grows to the sky like a magic beanstalk. Rate hikes make us stronger, comrades.

  3. Daryl

    > “Algorithm writers need a code of conduct” [Guardian]. MR: “Isn’t it a little late?”

    Well, it took several centuries for things like building codes, exit signs and doors that remain unlocked during business hours to become commonplace and codified. So as obvious it is to some of us that programmers need to follow a code of ethics, the current neoliberal anti-regulation environment dominates the tech industry’s approach despite tragedies and the fact that people can now hack into our cars and household appliances. Fix the greater issues of inequality and corporate control of politics assailing society and you have more fertile ground for such a project.

  4. jgordon

    In regards to Time Magazine, it’s no surprise. Time apparently thinks that most everyone in the world is thoughtful and intelligent–except for Americans–who are mostly at the intellectual level of narcissistic, mentally-handicapped imbeciIes who just escaped from an asylum after receiving a lobotomy. Or at least that’s what one would gather after looking at this.

    Well, they might not be wrong.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders … didn’t make it on [Time’s] shortlist” for 2015 Person of the Year.”

      If Time considered Sanders a serious threat, they could dispatch him in a trice by putting his mug on a Person of the Year cover.

      The most recent example of the cover story jinx in action came from Mexico. At the start of this year Time profiled president Enrique Pena Nieto as the man ‘Saving Mexico’, and that was the sentiment at the time. The writer of that story quoted me to the effect that, “In the Wall Street investment community, I’d say that Mexico is by far the favourite nation just now.”

      Since then it has been all downhill for Pena Nieto and Mexico, with the president embroiled in a series of scandals and economic growth coming in at a disappointing 2.2% this year.


      The MSM is never right. And they always lie.

    2. Peter Schitt

      I’d say that Time are right in their assessment of Americans. As Morris Berman says, “what else could you expect of 321 million douchebags”.

  5. giantsquid

    A bit of cognitive dissonance from ExxonMobil scientists via Fred Hiatt: I rarely believe anything coming out of either Exxon or Hiatt, but perhaps this is the beginning of an Exxon strategy to cover its RICO backside. I don’t see how this helps them though. From the article (link below):

    “With no government action, Exxon experts told us during a visit to The Post last week, average temperatures are likely to rise by a catastrophic (my word, not theirs) 5 degrees Celsius, with rises of 6, 7 or even more quite possible”.


  6. C

    This WTO ruling also vaporizes the claim that “They cannot change laws”.

    From the ABC article:

    Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, said Monday that he will look for “all legislative opportunities” to repeal the labeling law. “We must prevent retaliation, and we must do it now before these sanctions take effect,” Roberts said.

  7. Carolinian

    If you really want to shut down Trump then the best way would be to simply ignore him. While you are at it you might want to boycott H’wood movies that use Arabs as stereotypes, ask HBO to do something about Bill Maher, treat the other “Islamofascism” spouters with equal scorn, complain until our news media begin to offer more balanced coverage of the Middle East. Trump is surfing the wave, not causing it. The sad fact is that when he says unfair things about Muslims he’s just saying what most people in power in this country think, or at least what they think it’s safe to think. But more than anything else Trump is just trying to provoke a reaction. It’s working.

        1. Vatch

          Here he makes fun of the legend of Noah’s Ark:


          Here’s an article that accuses him of anti-Semitism:


          Yes, he does spend a lot more energy mocking Christian and Muslim superstitions, probably because there are a lot more Christians and Muslims in the world. The religions share some doctrines, which can make it a little unclear at times who is his target. All 3 Abrahamic religions venerate Noah, for example.

      1. Massinissa

        Making fun of the superstitions of a religion, and claiming that the religion causes violence, as Maher has done before in regards to Islam, are entirely different things.

        1. Vatch

          Maher is correct, faith and superstition can lead to violence. Voltaire said something very wise:

          Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.

          This is often paraphrased as:

          Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities

          We saw an example of this when a Christian terrorist killed people at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

    1. fresno dan

      Exactly right.
      Really, election coverage at this point is pretty much anti-news – the lack of perspective, the apparent lack of any historic knowledge, etcetera. The media has a lot of air time to fill, but it can’t be boring, otherwise their ability to sell boner pills and adult diapers declines precipitously. The best way to fill those hours is with people who can unself consciously reiterate the same old tropes, stereotypes, cliches over and over and over….
      Republican nominees Huckabee and Santorium pretty conclusively demonstrate that winning Iowa is the kiss of death with regard to the republican nomination – – and wouldn’t it be, by any normal evaluation of the criteria of what you need to be successful? National polls at this stage have a negative correlation with who will eventually win the nomination, but you would not know that from watching the MSM.

      So the media, by GIVING Trump loads and loads of air time, taking the most juvenile statements as “newsworthy” (i.e., rating worthy, profit worthy) has totally forfeited any right to say “tut-tut.” Of course, the phenomenon of Trump becomes a danger to society, which has been completely created by the media. Which becomes worthy of 24/7 coverage and is soooo dangerous. As they say, self licking…..cones….cream….ice.

      I keep waiting for the newsmedia to ask Congress, NSA, FBI, et al when will they resign in mass because they failed to keep the country safe? Wouldn’t a patriotic person, if incapable of doing the job, step aside to a more competent person???
      Of course, they will say you have to pass more laws and do more monitoring…..or go back to get rid of Assad because getting rid of Saddam was so great…
      At which point, IF ONLY THERE WERE ONE PERSON IN THE MEDIA WITH ANY BRAINS, would ask, “9/11 happened 14 years ago – isn’t that enough time to have figured out how to stop terrorism? OR is the truth that you can’t stop terrorism? – – so maybe, we shouldn’t play into the terrorists hands by making it seem we’re frozen with fear????”

      1. Gareth

        The quickest way to dump Trump is to for the media to put out a series of doctored polls showing his support is plummeting. It doesn’t matter if the polls are accurate or not, just feed the meme. Then they will need to discover another Republican with a relatively high approval rating among the suckers and the appearance of sanity, the guy who just grew a beard, Paul Ryan, man of mystery. Roll out the Ryan candidacy in time for the deadlocked convention.

    2. Torsten

      I caught a clip of Trump on Morning Joe where, as significant justification for his anti-Arab diatribes, Trump fingered Saudi Arabia for supporting ISIS. Scarborough et al didn’t want to touch that one. It will be interesting to see if the media can keep that Trump accusation down the memory hole and/or if Trump tries to keep the allegation alive.

  8. polecat

    Paltrows’ “Goop”…….. the only time i thought Gwyneth was any good at anything……was when she was lying on the autopsy table in ‘Contagion’…………… Goop indeed!

  9. Ron

    Trump now the BAD guy since he actually says what he believes and the political class is in an uproar. Whether Trump wins the nomination may not matter he will probably develop a 3rd Party at some point in time attracting a large segment of the White Republican base if he doesn’t some body else will. Very clear that the elite Republican leadership is out of step with its base and has no idea how to steer the political ship.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Trump should totally go third party if he doesn’t get the nomination. He’s already got the wrecking ball out, he can’t let some panty waisted party hacks tell *him* to stop swinging it around. He might even beat whatever empty suit the RNC has in the green room.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think Trump “says what he believes.” How can one tell, with so much, over time, wildly at variance?

      I think Trump is an opportunist, period. He’s running to daylight and unfortunately, our political system is biased so most of the daylight is on the right. Shortly, IMNSHO, he (and we) will come up against the reality of what running as far right as he has run really means.

  10. Watt4Bob

    IMHO, the race for a driver-less car is in reality a race for driver-less commercial vehicles.

    Semi-trucks that never stop except to load/unload, a Walton’s dream.

  11. PQS

    “Then again, this is the party that impeached Clinton….”

    And don’t forget, the cheerleader for that, one of the Most Powerful Speakers Evah: Dennis Hastert.

    The very same who is currently under indictment for bribery of presumed sexual abuse victim(s) from his past.

    They. Have. No. Shame. They had it surgically removed in 1965.

    1. Vatch

      The Hastert case has moved beyond indictment. He entered a guilty plea to one charge, the other charge was dismissed, and he is awaiting sentencing. According to the federal sentencing guidelines, he could spend 6 months in prison, and he will keep his Congressional pension.

      1. allan

        And the person who extorted several million dollars is not being prosecuted and gets to keep the money.
        Not to defend Hastert’s behavior decades ago, but this is very odd – prosecutorial discretion run amuck.

          1. Vatch

            He violated cash handling laws. Those laws are meant to protect us from terrorists and drug lords. Instead, they caught a pederastic politician. Irony can be enjoyable!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        And along with Gingrich and Livingstone, bloviating on and on and on about morality and sexual responsibility while impeaching Clinton over a *******. (What they could have impeached him over was sexual harassment, since Lewinsky was an intern, and Clinton was her boss, and Clinton sure had a duty of care to her, but n-o-o-o-o, since (a) the Republicans were ideologically opposed to any such thing, and (b) Mark “Can you measure for me” Foley was unlikely to have been alone in his harassment of Congressional pages.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Venting frustration is another possibility. Trump has just dropped the GOP dog whistle to be explicit. From Macaca to Welfare Queens, there is a false sense of outrage coming from certain quarters, mostly elite Republicans and some Democrats who are having the vapors over Trump supporting a hideous idea which isn’t far removed from their own monstrous ideas. Pick, there are so many to choose from. Graham has a record of attacking minorities and slaughtering Muslims, I’m certain he is just upset an upstart who hasn’t learned the proper code is dominating the polls especially after all the work Graham has put in. After all, Graham was an ardent support of the Confederate flag until July of this year defending it after the massacre in South Carolina. Trump is very much a product of our violent society which calls for violent measures to solve problems. The only reason Obama offered to allow Syrian refugees is he is actively involved in an undeclared war in Syria and needed to make a concession to appease Europe which is dealing with an actual problem largely due to U.S. misadventures.

      If Europe’s support wasn’t shaky, the refugees would be getting the same treatment as the Iraqi ones, many seeking refuge in Syria. I think that was Riverbend’s destination.

      To me, the reaction to Trump from much of Versailles isn’t about the party or a particular campaign but just being irritated they aren’t being recognized for thuggery because of an upstart. Without Trump, the GOP debates would be “who hates immigrants/gays/blacks/women/youth/etc the most?” Trump is just stealing their moment in the sun.

      I do have two thought on the matter. Does the “liberal” darling Bill Maher agree with Trump? And what if Trump just wanted to ban poor Muslims? Would that make a difference?

      1. Carolinian

        I used to love Riverbend. Hope she’s ok. Seems like her family had some connection in Austria.

        And yes liberals get the vapors over words while their onetime hero Obama blows Muslims to smithereens with his gunships and drones. That doesn’t make the words alright but a little more protest about the gunships and drones would be appropriate. I can’t claim to be a student of Trump’s ever changing proposals, however it does seem he’s not that interested in the imperial project. Meanwhile HRC gets skewered in a new book that suggests h is for hegemon.


        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I have no idea what Trump’s interest is, but I’m reminded of a line in “Forrest Gump” said by Bubba, Tom Hank’s black friend. Bubba when discussing shrimp said “when we take over this country.” It’s quick, but I suspect a greater portion of the population believed Iraq really was about grabbing oil for suv drivers. I think they want their share, and Trump’s views are nothing one wouldn’t hear outside of polite society.

          After all, liberals said “no blood for oil.” It’s not a leap for uneducated people to have expected a war dividend given the propaganda in this country.

          Now that I think about it, Trump is the closest to promising the dividend they thought they deserved. For many lower income people, we’ve been fighting Muslims all these years, not uniformed soldiers. They didn’t win any prosperity from the war despite providing much of the manpower, so they definitely don’t want to be followed home by Muslims without uniforms. Judging from the pictures and stories the government has sought to cover up about the behavior of soldiers and contractors on deployment, it’s not really a stretch to imagine
          people might be interested in old fashioned revenge. Excuse my stream of consciousness, but it’s about fears of revenge, not Islam or religion.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            “They didn’t win any prosperity from the war despite providing much of the manpower”

            That third paragraph is very acute. Thank you. (Fighting the Muslims, and losing, due — I’m guessing — to a combination of corporate looting, stupid generals, pointy-headed bureaucrats in Washington, and traitors who didn’t “support the troops.”)

            What a horrible mess. Every explanation but the right one, which is that we should never have gone to war in the first place.

  12. curlydan

    Lambert!?, you’re supposed to buy a brand new computer, not attempt to fix the old one. Become one with crapification.

    1. ambrit

      Unless Lambert has joined the ‘Font of the Month Club,’ I would suspect that he farmed the “key replacement” operation out to his local colleges’ IT department. Besides, I would suspect that “jailbreaking” a new laptop is now a major undertaking.

    2. Daryl

      Just buy a chromebook. It’s cheap, easy, and they let you keep your frontal lobe in a jar after the operation.

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the 2007 Oxfam article on “How Change Happens”. Related, seems to me that the oligarchic class is seeking to move discussion of class, extreme concentration of wealth, and corruption off the table and to refocus media discussion and frame the 2016 election around issues of religion, race and fear.

    Senator Sanders statement in the Washington Post link under “The Trail” that he intends to keep reforms of policies that have led to extreme wealth concentration, disenfranchisement of the middle class, and corruption on the front burner of his presidential campaign bears supporting IMO.

  14. wbgonne

    “History shows that even in an normal year, Iowans rarely settle on a final decision until the last possible moment. In past election cycles, the final four-day poll conducted just before the caucuses shows how much turbulence remains late in the race” [J Ann Selzer, Bloomberg]. Selzer is the dean of Iowa pollsters. She says: “I have seen too much to speculate on how this caucus will turn out. It is unlike any I have polled before. It’s unlike any my predecessors would have polled before. Anything can happen. And likely will.” I agree. I also think her statement applies across the board, i.e., to the Democratic race. People who declare — months before the first vote has been cast! — that Clinton has won, or Sanders has lost, or even that O’Malley is a non-factor, should in my view look more to opportunity than succumb to despair. (Note also Karl Rove:”There’s never been anything like this” [New York Magazine].)

    It is certainly possible that Bernie Sanders could mount a comeback but the polling data is bad, even in Iowa where nearly everyone agrees Sanders absolutely must win. Here is the latest:


    There is a pronounced difference within the Democratic and Republican parties in the current primaries. The GOP polls are shifting regularly and few will be surprised if Trump implodes, leaving the door wide open. Further, the GOP base has already proven itself to be unpredictable and anti-authoritarian (at the intra-party level) with its Tea Party revolt. This isn’t shocking since the Republicans are out of the White House. To the contrary, Democratic partisans have proven themselves to be submissive on policy and authoritarian on process. Since Hillary is effectively running for Obama’s third term (or Bill Clinton’s fifth term, if you prefer), the Democratic base is acting far more conservative than the GOP, falling in line behind the quasi-incumbent, and there has been little poll movement since Sanders (apparently) peaked a month ago. In fact, Sanders’ numbers have gone in reverse. Yes, things might still change within the Democratic primary but it appears doubtful to me. The GOP nomination, however, is up for grabs.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Like the Iowan, I don’t think polls now are a reliable indicator of the outcome in Feb. For Sanders, it is all about turning out supporters. HRC will have lots of officials to do local lifting but no way base is energized for her.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, time will tell. Clinton is weak on the trail (except in small groups), weak on policy, and IMNSHO weak physically. I don’t know if Sanders needs to win Iowa. After all, Gene McCarthy got what, 40% of the vote in New Hampshire? Sanders does need to crack the facade of Clinton’s inevitability. We’ll see.

  15. hemeantwell

    Less obviously, both Trump, and Santorum, are giving anybody who wants to “sharpen the contradictions” both within the United States electorate and in its imperial policy a barely concealed but very clear blueprint of how to do so:

    While not defending those two, this has been central to radical Islamic strategy since planning for 9/11. It’s hard to believe that the Paris attacks were not carried out with the National Front in mind. So far the violence here has seems to have not directed by ISIS in any sense other than broad encouragement, but to think that they are not trying to bring about the election of a “Crusader” government would ignore precedent.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I agree, it has been. Very rarely, however, does one see an American politician, let alone two at once, waving their hands in the air and yelling “Over here! Over here! Do these guys next!”

  16. Local to Oakland

    Re the 5 senses and medical training, it is called the physical exam. But, doctors here in the US aren’t given sufficient time and compensated enough in appointments to fully use it. See the popular writings of Abraham Verghese at Stanford for one accessible source.

    But companies want to sell cool tech and better profile consumers as individuals. Re tech, some articles have been published suggesting Watson or a successor could someday replace physicians. There are obvious uses of the proposed tech for profiling.

    I don’t think I’m atypical that I don’t disclose fully to people I don’t know and trust. So good luck getting me to talk to a robot physician. I’m also opting out of wearables.

  17. ewmayer

    Today’s “clown car economics” award goes once again to serial recipient ZeroHedge – without scrolling down into the reader comments, see how long it takes you to spot the flaw in their “investing strategy” here:

    Why Diversification Is For Losers: “investors owning just the top 10 performers of the S&P 500 has never suffered a single rolling 12 month period loss (lowest was April 2009 +0.24%).”

    In fact, let’s make it a double award, the second installment of which is for the following piece of rampant illogic:

    Weimar Greece – The Effects Of A Currency Collapse: “While no longer making headlines in the mainstream media, cash remains a scarce commodity in Greece. In response, Greeks have done what all people do when they cannot get enough currency – they improvise. Greece is right where Weimar Germany was in late 1922…”

    Good grief, where to begin in this appalling mix of counterfactuals and non sequiturs? Most of these ‘doh!’ objections will have already occurred to longtime NC readers:

    [1] “Currency collapse” refers to plunge n buying power of a currency, i.e. hyperinflation, the precise opposite of cash being a “scarce commodity”;

    [2] Weimar suffered from *too much* currency with near-zero purchasing power, hence pictures of folks carting around wheelbarrows of the stuff and burning it as fuel;

    [3] Weimar Germany was a sovereign currency issuer beset by unpayable WW1 deb and war reparations – Greece also has unpayable debts but does not issue its own currency.

    I wonder if ZH is secretly operating as a self-parody site? “Let’s make some loud and completely inane claims and see how many basement-dwelling, silver-and-bullet-hoarding netizen-troglogdytes we can get to agree with us, then secretly laugh our butts off at them.”

  18. craazyman

    what’s all this nonsense about driverless cars. what’s the point of a driverless car if you’re not going anywhere? why do you need a driverless car in the first place if you’re not going to drive? this is ridiculous

    what happens if driverless car gets caught speeding.? that could be a bad scene when it doesn’t pull over for the siren and flashing lights. what if you’re a rider in a driverless car that gets caught speeding? is that an excuse or are you “an accomplice”

    can you imagine riding around town in the back seat of a driverless car. you could wave at people with a white glove on like you’re the Queen of England. That would be hilarious, fukk, You could even put an inflatable driver behind the wheel.
    That way somebody would be there to get the ticket if you did get caught speeding

    why on earth would anybody want a driverless car? i guess if you were at work and wanted your car you could summon it. Then it could drive itself, to you. But what if it got lost? It wouldn’t know it and neither would you. I bet you”d regret that. You’d probably chastize yourself severely for doing something so stupid as letting your car out on the road by itself, when you needed to rent a car or borrow a car to go find your car.

    what if it ended up in Indiana or Texas? that could happen if the software was buggy. you would’nt know until it was too late. this isn’t the sort of thing you can practice withh it until it”s an expert

    fuk what a stupid idea — a driverless car. why would you need windshield wipers? that’s pretty funny, driving around in the rain with no wipers going back and forth. you wouldn’t need heat or AC either, or a radio. that would be pretty funny, a driverless car with windshield wipers flippig backk ad forth , AC blasting and a radio playing, driving around by itself on a clear winter day. that might freak sombody out. They might wonder if maybe the car itself was insane or just fukkig with everybody. hahahaha. some inventions are probably better off left in a state of imagination.

    What would they do with the magazine :Car and Driver? They’d have to really think about that.

  19. hunkerdown

    Another exciting round of Where’s Waldo Who’s Satoshi (WIRED for net leather) (Gizmodo for shoe leather), and I believe they’ve found a winner.

    Moral: store nothing in the cloud someone else’s computer…

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks for the links, hunkerdown. Fun stuff. Besides just trying to gain a basic understanding of their process out of curiosity, I have been wondering about Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity for some time in the same spirit you mentioned.

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