2:00PM Water Cooler 1/12/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Repeating from yesterday: Thanks to reader TedWa, we find that the USTR has solicited comments at regulations.gov on the “Employment Impact” of TPP (and not on anything else, apparently). Here’s the link, which includes the submission procedure. “Written comments are due by Wednesday, January 13, 2016.” Thanks to alert readers for parsing through the site, especially dk and JTMcPhee.



I can’t get excited about the State of the Union address blah blah legacy blah legacy blah blah blah. Here’s a link. Hey, maybe he’ll quote Auden!

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:


“Hillary Clinton took aim at Bernie Sanders’ single-payer health care plan on Monday, characterizing it as “turning over your and my health insurance to governors,” specifically naming Republican Terry Branstad. It’s a pretty clear reference to the many conservative states that have refused ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion — implying that Sanders would allow conservative states to opt out of his plan, and hence partially destroy all federal health insurance programs” [The Week]. “This is absolutely false.” (NC readers know this from our debate coverage; see this post from November 15.) Left to her own devices, Clinton wouldn’t mention single payer at all. Now that Sanders has forced the issue, she lies.

The Voters

Myth of the independent: “As we noted in August, most independents lean toward one party or the other — and in 2012, the majority of those leaning independents voted for their preferred party’s presidential candidate. (According to the book “The Gamble,” 90 percent of Democratic-leaning independents backed Obama in 2012, and 78 percent of Republican-leaning ones backed Romney.)” [WaPo].

“[I]f Americans are indeed angry, unsettled, or dissatisfied, in many ways they appear to disagree about why they should be angry, unsettled, or dissatisfied” [WaPo].

“Bernie Sanders has an 11-point advantage over Hillary Clinton among voters under 35” [Vox]. Let’s see if they come out to vote…

The Trail

“MoveOn is endorsing Bernie Sanders for president after the liberal challenger to Hillary Clinton won 78 percent of votes cast by its membership” [The Hill]. Granted, Ilya Sheyman is MoveOn’s political director, but still: This is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And 78%!

“The Top 5 Reasons MoveOn Members Voted to Endorse Bernie (with the Most Votes and Widest Margin in Our History)” [Ilya Sheyman, Medium]. #1: “1. Bernie’s lifelong commitment to standing up to corporate and 1% interests to fight for an economy where everyone has a fair shot.” Not sure where the wording on those “reasons” comes from, but contrast Clinton.

“[FBI] agents are investigating the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts and whether regular processes were followed,” one of [three] sources told Fox” [The Hill]. “One of the Fox sources also said that the FBI is especially eager to pursue a high-profile public corruption case in the wake of what they believe was overly lenient treatment of former CIA Director David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor last year for mishandling classified information after it was revealed that he had given classified information to his mistress.”

O’Malley was the intended sheepdog, not Sanders: “O’Malley’s continued presence in the race is helping Clinton. In Iowa we find his supporters would prefer Sanders over Clinton 43/20, and in New Hampshire they prefer Sanders over Clinton 47/13. So to some extent O’Malley is helping to split the anti-Hillary vote” [Public PolicyPolling].

“According to a Monmouth University survey released on Monday, Trump has 32 percent support in New Hampshire, up from 26 percent when the same question was asked in November” [The Hill].

Summarizing Buchanan on Trump: What the Republican electorate says of Trump is what Lincoln said of Grant: “We need this man. He fights” [WaPo].

Stats Watch

Gallup US ECI, December 2015: “[S]lightly better than averages from July through November. Confidence was a bit lower in December than in early 2015, but better than it’s been for most of the time since 2008” [Econoday]. It would be a lot higher if only Janet could find that punchbowl…

Small Business Optimism Index, December 2015: “The National Federation of Independent Business’s (NFIB) optimism index rose insignificantly in December after many stagnant months” [Econintersect]. “The NFIB says the Index is stuck in a “below average” rut.”

Shipping: “Maersk’s stock lost 9.8% in the first week of 2016” [Splash247]. “A report out by Nordea analyst Stig Frederiksen says Maersk is being hit ‘by a toxic cocktail with challenges in both the oil and the container division, [but] it’s now become the oil price that’s the main driver.'”

Shipping: “There will be no sustained recovery in the dry bulk or container shipping sectors this year amid overcapacity in the industry and slowing demand for raw materials from China, said “K” Line president and CEO Eizo Murakami” [Longshore & Shipping News].

Shipping: For the maritime geeks I now know we have, Mish thinks the Harper Petersen index provides “more information” than Baltic Dry [Global Economic Analysis]. From their site, here’s a shot of the last ten years:


I’m sensing owies on the right hand side, but beyond that I can’t go. Maritime geeks! What’s Harper Petersen telling us, and is it really better than Baltic Dry?

Carbon: “Arch Coal Inc., the nation’s second-largest coal mining company, filed for bankruptcy Monday” [The Hill].

Honey for the Bears: “BofA analysts led by Ken Hoexter look at the past 30 years to see what this type of steep decline usually means for the U.S. economy. What they found wasn’t particularly encouraging: All such drops in rail carloads preceded, or were accompanied by, an economic slowdow” [Bloomberg]. Note that Econintersect has been pumping out gloom on rails for most of last year, and their calculations exclude coal.

Honey for the Bears: “This time the warm weather is cited for the weakness as utility spending fell. Yes, capitalism is about sales, and unspent income reduces sales, unless other agents spend more than their income, etc. etc.” [Mosler Economics]. “And with the private sector in general necessarily pro cyclical, unspent income stories beg fiscal adjustments, which at the moment are universally out of style.”

Honey for the Bears: “The junk-bond market is indicating a 44 percent chance of a recession in the U.S. within one year, according to Martin Fridson, a money manager at Lehmann, Livian, Fridson Advisors LLC” [Bloomberg]. Well, 44 is the answer to everything. Oh, wait…

Fodder for the Bulls: “The US economy could see a Goldilocks scenario in 2016” [Credit Writedowns]. Ed Harrison is a smart guy. So I wonder what readers think of this scenario. I mean, I am a Maine bear, so it’s important to challenge my priors.

The Fed: “Margin requirements—rules limiting what portion of stocks or bonds can be purchased through borrowing—are moving up the Fed’s to-do list as officials fret about whether they have adequate tools to suppress dangerous asset bubbles that could lead to another financial crisis” [Wall Street Journal, “Fed Eyes Margin Rules to Bolster Oversight”]. “They also allow the Fed to exert influence on all financial firms, not just banks.” (The WSJ says that this ruling from the intriguingly named Financial Stability Board (About page) triggered the Fed’s thinking.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 21 (-3); Extreme Fear [CNN]. Last week: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Health Care

“In a Dec. 30 letter to Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, [Kentucky Governor] Bevin said he plans to wind down the state health exchange and transition Kentuckians to the federal site, healthcare.gov, to shop for insurance under the law also known as Obamacare” [Courier-Journal].

Our Famously Free Press

History of the “Monkey Cage” blog [Chronicle of Higher Education].

“[H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest,] The owner of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com has donated the news organizations to a newly created media institute, the core of a complicated transaction designed to ensure that quality journalism endures in Philadelphia for generations” [Philadelphia Inquirer (Paul Tioxon)]. “The move places the region’s dominant news-gatherers under the auspices of the nonprofit Philadelphia Foundation.”

The new alignment – while unique and untested – sets out mechanisms by which public-interest reporting can be preserved and enhanced while new electronic distribution methods are developed.

Guillotine Watch

tl;dr: Squillionaire dilettante wants out, moves on [Wall Street Journal, “New Republic Owner Chris Hughes Puts Magazine Up For Sale”]. Yeah, sheesh, remember the great days of the Bell Curve. And how about that Iraq War?

Class Warfare

Shorter Supreme Court: You can be a free-rider as long as you’re free-riding on a union [McClatchy].

News of the Wired

“My Right to Die” [Kevin Drum].

~60 Bowie songs [Blckdgrd].

“I Moved to Linux and It’s Even Better Than I Expected” [Medium].

* * *

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


I wonder what these trees look like now…

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, keep the boiler guy and a very unhappy plumber happy, and 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. SumiDreamer

    There will be a twitter storm during tonight’s SOTU. Here’s some info if you can join in.

    1) TPP Media Mobilizers’s Tweets: http://www.flushthetpp.org/sotu/

    2) TPP Media March’s Tweets: tiny.cc/TPPMediaMarch (ck back 4 tweets)

    3) Retweet Lori Wallach’s Live Rebuttals: @LoriWallach

    If you’re a first time tweeter, follow this step by step guide to set up a Twitter Account. This guide includes easy to follow directions for tweeting and retweeting for the #SOTU storm. Thanks, Leslie, for developing this useful tool:

    4) Step by Step Guide 2 Tweeting & Retweeting #SOTU: http://bit.ly/SetUpTwitterAcct

    And people may find this right handy (provided by Margaret and Kevin:


  2. jsn

    The Credit Writedown’s piece takes the jobs numbers at face value, they strike me as suspicious but I’m not expert enough to tell.

    On the other hand, it seems to me like the capital flight we’re seeing from China has a value not to different from what passed for “stimulus” at the start of the Obummer presidency.

    Has anyone seen an honest analysis of the jobs report? Or seen a breakdown on where China’s capital goes in the diaspora?

    1. grayslady

      Here’s an article by Paul Craig Roberts on the latest jobs numbers. He routinely does an analysis on BLS jobs reports. His conclusions are pretty frightening, but not totally surprising (a quote from the article):

      About half of the alleged new jobs—142,000—went to the 55 years old and over age group. This age group consists primarily of retirees who have found it necessary to supplement their retirement income and of those near retirement who are working in order to compensate for the lack of interest on their savings due to the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy. These are part-time, lowly paid jobs without benefits.

      Americans of prime working age, 25 years old to 54 year old, only received 16,000 or 5% of the new jobs.

      Those aged 46 to 54 lost 165,000 jobs. In other words, middle aged people are losing their jobs before they can provide for their retirement.

      1. Steven D.

        This is why Americans are shooting each other down in the streets. How about tears for that, Obama? Gonna talk about it tonight?

        It’s also why I’m afraid that if Bernie gets the nomination, he will lose because this is beyond his control but the Democrats will be blamed. Then he’ll carry the McGovern stench for decades.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Well, it’s good for our vanity – 60 is the new 40.

        “You look marvelous. No way you’re over 60.”

        And so, 60 year olds must work like 40-year-olds.

        Retirement is forcefully pushed back to 80, because 80 is the new 60.

        “You look marvelous. No way you are over 80.”

    2. JTMcPhee

      China billionaires and corporatists: where are they stashing their yuandollars?


      And this: http://www.ibtimes.com/capital-flight-china-why-investors-are-taking-their-money-elsewhere-2174989

      Does this sound familiar? http://chinafocus.us/2014/05/14/capital-flight-means-chinas-housing-bubble/

      And there’s this, with a lot of links to related questions: https://www.quora.com/Where-do-most-billionaires-invest-spend-the-majority-of-their-money?share=1

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A true empire will hunt down anyone on its wanted list.

        For that reason, admiral Zheng He was sent abroad seven times to look for the grand son of Hongwu, the legitimate emperor, by the usurper, Yongle. So goes the legend. Regardless, he discovered America, before Columbus. Perhaps that was another legend. But we digress.

        Luckily, China is not a true empire…yet. So, there are many places in the world friendly to these billionaires and their yuandollars.

        1. Oregoncharles

          China is not a WORLD empire, but it is most certainly a “true” empire, as you’d learn if you asked anyone in the west or south. Even the Han Chinese in the “ethnic” areas are doubtless well aware of their role.

    3. Jim Haygood

      As Ed Harrison mentioned, employment generally is a lagging indicator. It’s typically firm, right up till the month the economy trips across the threshold into recession.

      The only employment stat I watch as a coincident indicator is the 4-week average of unemployment claims, which are reported in near real-time and pick up layoffs quickly.

      So far, claims have ticked up from their Oct 24th low to 277,000, still far short of their 340,000 level in Dec 2007 as the last recession began. Data here:


    4. Christopher Fay

      Read David Stockman. He took apart the jobs report last week. More substandard employment, that’s all. Wild wild questiments by the BLS about job creation

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Mosler says, if I have this right, “Wait a minute! Shouldn’t those jobs be reflected in GDP figures?” And they’re not.

      That’s been my problem with this whole “recovery” and the labor market generally: What the heck is the economy making? Or are we just moving money around in a circle, buying crap at Walmart and treating our back pain? (OK, exaggerated, colorful langauge, but you get the point.)

      Oh, and writing apps that screw working people and create digital gatekeepers and robber barons.

  3. JTMcPhee

    Re the hopefully unmitigated generosity of Mr. Lenfest in trying to preserve independent actual journalism: We be goin’ the other way down hear in Floriduh — the Poynter Institute is supposed to be all about actual what us old folks think of as journalism: investigation and reporting and honest (!) editorializing. Here’s what they say about themselves: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;D=USTR-2015-0012 Here’s a statement from the (formerly St. Pete, now Tampa Bay) Times’ competitor over in Tampa, http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;D=USTR-2015-0012

    And here’s how “economic reality” plays out, one episode at least: http://www.poynter.org/2015/tampa-bay-times-offices-will-go-on-sale/312891/ Monetize, monetize.

    The center cannot hold…

  4. Rww

    The problem with Ed Harrison’s argument, I think, is that we have been hearing about the potential for higher rates for a long time already.

    Since years of low rates and the persistent threat of higher rates were not enough to juice consumption, the limited and incremental increases promised by the Fed are not likely to do much.

  5. Romancing the Loan

    Much but not all of the argument against assisted suicide goes away with nationalized/single-payer healthcare. Poor Kevin Drum. His conclusion though seems to be that while he can see how more marginalized populations might justifiably fear abuse of such a law, he wants it too much for himself.

    The response seems like the wrong way around to me. Wouldn’t you just not prosecute assisted suicides of the dying unless they were really, really suspicious? Why is that harder than making a new law that leaves open a large possibility that people could be pressured into killing themselves? If you’re dying, wouldn’t you just kiss your loved one goodbye then go score a huge batch of cheap heroin? I can’t judge the dying personally, I can only hope that when my time comes I’ll be able to build an elaborate Rube-Goldberg type suicide device in my backyard so the profits from marketing the video can pay for my funeral expenses.

    1. Ed S.

      If you’re dying, wouldn’t you just kiss your loved one goodbye then go score a huge batch of cheap heroin

      Which was the plot of the Canadian Movie The Barbarian Invasions (2003) or in French “Les invasions barbares”.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Assisted suicide has worked quite well here in Oregon. It happens rather rarely, and I haven’t heard of abuses. Always possible, of course, but that seems a poor reason to restrict such a crucial freedom.

      Would YOU know where to score a heroin overdose – especially if you were housebound with illness?

      1. Yves Smith

        Apparently the Hemlock Society tells you how to kill yourself with no pain using easily procurable chemicals. But I think you have to have been a member for over three months before they’ll send you the info. They don’t want to facilitate impulse suicides.

  6. allan

    The jobs boom continues:

    BP to Cut 4,000 Jobs as Oil Prices Continue to Fall

    LONDON — The persistent plunge in oil prices has translated into a new round of industry job cuts.

    The British oil giant BP said on Tuesday it would eliminate 4,000 of the approximately 24,000 positions in its exploration and production units this year. That would be in addition to about 4,000 jobs that the company cut last year, when it trimmed its work force to about 80,000.

    Maybe it’s time to bring back that `Beyond Petroleum’ tagline.

  7. Steven D.

    Loathsome Lieberman on PBS Newshour last night with Jon Huntsman touting the five recipients of the No Labels Problem Solver award, including Chris Christie and–wait for it–Martin O’Malley. Couldn’t stomach the sanctimonious, smirking Joe Lieberman so left the room. Found later that the candidates had to answer a questionnaire to get it. Now, O’Malley is criticizing No Labels for giving the award to Trump too, not for being a blatant Wall Street front group. And what is O’Malley doing in bed with such luminaries as Lieberman and Christie? O’Malley acts today like he knows he screwed up and is trying to create a diversionary straw man. How Hillary-like. He’s dead to me.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Lieberman ugh. Thought we got rid of that idiot. I muted the audio and went to check my email.

      PBS looking irrelevant, bringing back Lieberman. Was he supposed to be the “progressive left” side of the discussion? He kept saying congress needs to work across the isle. Exactly, because bipartisan screw jobs are always extra horrific.

      1. jrs

        Or he’s really running for 2020 or 2024 (the future of the Dem party). He’s really not drawing all that much support from Bernie.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think O’Malley stumbled early. One he waited too long, was hurt by the troubles in Baltimore, and didn’t have a strong message ( ex. Two Americas) which could be condensed for personal messaging.

          Sanders has been around and can be discussed. “Oh, yeah, Bernie Sanders. He looks like Larry David, but instead of making a show about nothing, he fought for X, opposed Y…” This is important when overcoming celebrity candidates.

          As for as being a straw man, I’m not so sure. He’s hit Hillary in ways which have drawn attention to her foibles without risking damage to Sanders image. Hillary is desperate to say, “oh great, another man telling me what to do.” She can’t respond to O’Malley if he makes a point because he is a cockroach next to her. If she responds, she gives O’Malley credit and draws attention to her 25 years in the national spotlight which she is loath to do.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Actually, the term of art is “sheep dog.” I have always felt, I grant wholly without evidence, that the DNC powers that be intended O’Malley to be the sheep dog, based on youth, his jawline, etc. But Sanders sensed an opening and moved first.

  8. curlydan

    Scalia says: “The problem is that everything that is collectively bargained with the government is within the political sphere, almost by definition…Should the government pay higher wages or lesser wages?”

    Geez. Are any of the dues paying plaintiffs asking the union to lower their wages or reduce their benefits? If the union’s collective bargaining and non-political fees are used to improve benefits for its members, there is no difference of opinion among the people paying the dues.

    This is going the way of class action lawsuits. Every man for himself. Maybe teaching will become an Uber-ized service, too. “Click yes if you can teach 3rd Grade Math tomorrow at Johnson Elementary. Please watch the 60 second You Tube training video on Johnson Elementary’s 3rd graders before you enter the classroom.”

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I’m quite sure (not) that all the plaintiffs are hoping to get out of the union so they can work for less.

      But I am pretty sure the unions are going to lose this one – continuing what by my calculation is a 68-year losing streak. Wait ’til next year!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Well, two unions, actually.

          Lincoln mentioned ‘the union,’ twenty times in his first inaugural address, but none in the Gettysburg address.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, even a blind pig finds a truffle every so often; they call it political economy for a reason.

      That said, it sure seems weird that corporations can be people and have free speech, especially when money is speech, and unions can’t. Why, it would almost lead the cynical to suspect that class bias is at work. Or something.

  9. Left in Wisconsin

    Watching MSNBC last night (what can I say?), I thought I noticed a very distinct change in tone re: Sanders. A lot more “gee, he’s really doing a lot better than we thought he would” and less “what a weird old geezer whose got no chance.” Anyone else notice? Probably just horse race pumping but interesting nonetheless.

    Whereas the WaPo seems to be doubling down on HRC today. (Can you double down if you are already all in?)

    1. Ulysses

      NYT readers, like those at WaPo, have long decried the favoritism towards HRC. Here’s a typical lament from a reader (William) today:

      “Why is every headline I’ve ever read in the NYT worded in way that down-plays Mr. Sanders and plays up Mrs. Clinton? The title of this article so clearly attempts to cast Mrs. Clinton as the continued protagonist in the events unfolding that it’s almost painful to read. Shouldn’t the title of this article be “Bernie Sanders Quickly Closing Gap With Mrs. Clinton in Iowa By Way of Hugely Enthusiastic Crowds”? How else can this continued contortion of wording be understood other than a clear bias on the part of the NYT for HRC? What else can readers conclude except that it is not only HRC who is worrying about the rise of Bernie Sanders but also the owners of the New York Times.”


    2. Pavel

      Well this will sound strange coming from a jaded, cynical curmudgeon, but I’m actually starting to think Bernie has a chance. The amount of coverage has been increasing (although as noted the NYT, WaPo, and even the Grauniad (UK) are still blatantly biased). But I remember Bill de Blasio’s amazing victory in the NY mayoral race (managing to beat even Carlos Danger, husband of Hillary’s right-hand-woman :) and perhaps even more astonishingly — given how “extreme” he is deemed to be — Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory.

      Sure, HRC has oodles of money, the MSM on her side, the super delegates, and all the establishment Dems. But this year above all is the one where those have the least value, and may even work against her. In the UK the more the Labour establishment and the press railed against Corbyn, the more popular he became.

      The other factor working for Sanders is of course the internet funding. He is almost keeping up with HRC, and soon her $2800 per head rich pals will reach their donation limit. Bernie on the other hand can keep going back to his $30 and $40 and $100 donors.

      And that FBI investigation into the emails and the Clinton Foundation… I’ve always maintained that could be the ticking bomb. How many of those 30,000 “personal” emails Hillary deleted had to do with Foundation business…?

      Exciting times.

      1. Uahsenaa

        Democratic Party super delegates are cockroaches, they’ll kick Hillary to the curb the moment the primary returns show the electorate moving Sanders’ way. The exact same thing happened in 2008: her campaign staff went on and on about how many super delegates were backing her, yet, come convention time, they swiftly abandoned her in favor of Obama.

      2. Christopher Fay

        It sounds like the FBI is coming around to the real crime of the emails, influence peddling

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          What I wish I knew is whether any faction in the FBI was independent reasons to hate the Clintons. I mean, in a totally hypothetical scenario where payback and blood feuds play any part in deciding who’s investigated in Washington, DC.

  10. Andrew Watts

    Report: FBI expands investigation of Clinton

    I like to believe that the FBI has secretly been radicalized by all the activists they’ve infiltrated over the last decade. It’s so secret that they’re not even aware of it.

    “Hey, these pinko hipster pricks have a point!”

  11. Paper Mac

    “What’s Harper Petersen telling us,”

    It’s telling us that now is the time to import that ex-Soviet Mi-26 I’ve always wanted *drops handful of change into weeping Maersk rep’s upturned hand*

  12. Synoia

    TPP (aka: The Piss Pot), TTIP, TSIA

    From the web site:

    Notice of intent to conduct an employment impact review of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and request for comments.

    My Bold.

    When there is an employment review to review than once can comment.

  13. Carolinian

    You left off today’s most important story: Rupert Murdoch engaged to Jerry Hall. Mr. Burns turns into Bill Nighy. We look forward to his first album….maybe Mick will do vocals.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Ms. Hall must be very aware how old Murdoch is. She’s only looking at Benjamin who is crisp and plentiful.

        1. RicRadio

          Awww, come on guy’s don’t be cynical, she’s got plenty of benny’s – it must be his remarkable sense of humour!

    1. PlutoniumKun

      If she needs advice on fellating Murdoch on the wedding night she can always call Blair, Abbott, or pretty much any politician in the English speaking world for hints.

  14. edmondo

    Hillary Clinton ….she lies.

    Don’t the Clintons usually wait until they are under oath before they lie?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Character matters.

      In this case, Limbaugh will claim he was right in 1991.

      But I think anyone can get lucky once in a while.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Heh. That said, Team Clinton really seems to have gone all Rovian — attack your opponent’s strength — awfully early. And if it’s already this disgusting, imagine what it’s going to be like further along.

      The bright side is that now millions more people can write off the entire Democratic apparatus. I mean, we always knew they were amoral and corrupt, but now we really know it. I mean, fearmongering on single payer?

    3. Pat

      I realize you are asking a rhetorical question, but here goes.

      “The way you can tell that Bill or Hillary Clinton are lying is that their lips are moving.”
      “Everything she says is a lie, even the “and” and the “the”.
      “Why wait?”
      “Nope, but doing it under oath gives them a tingly feeling.”

      Sometimes there is no point in writing new material.

  15. rich

    ‘The Big Wink:’ How $1.8 billion loan boosted company’s founder

    Fraud, say Department of Justice prosecutors, made James Slattery a rich man.

    But while the 64-year-old founder of Millennium Laboratories coughed up tens of millions to settle civil charges linked to his drug screening company’s practices, he stands to walk away with hundreds of millions more.

    That’s because Millennium didn’t just bilk Medicare and Florida Medicaid, as DOJ charged in October.

    Some of Wall Street’s biggest players collectively loaned the company $1.8 billion in 2014, money that was going to be repaid in part with the proceeds of the company’s illicit schemes.

    The lion’s share of the cash, $1.2 billion, went to Millennium’s true owners:

    Because investment bankers, money managers and pension fund advisers all joined to loan Millennium the money, bits and pieces of the loan — and its fallout — have trickled down into such unexpected places as the retirement portfolios of California firefighters and New Mexico’s state investment fund.

    Google got a slice of the bad loan. So did Cornell University and Kaiser Foundation. Pension funds for FedEx and Coca-Cola took a hit, along with retirement accounts for teachers in Maryland and government employees in Illinois and Oregon.

    No one is getting their money back from Slattery. Although he was on the hook for part of the $256 million settlement, the bankruptcy court plan protects Slattery, TA Associates and others from civil suits brought by burned investors.
    As a result, Slattery stands to keep hundreds of millions of dollars he collected from the defunct loan. He keeps his Fort Lauderdale mansion, properties in two other states and a near-priceless collection of vintage aircraft. He and Millennium declined comment for this story.

    “For the little steal they throw you in jail, but for the big steal, they give you a slap on the hand and send you back to the country club,” said Patrick Burns co-director of Washington, D.C.-based Taxpayers Against Fraud, which advocates on behalf of whistleblowers.

    “I refer to this as the Big Wink.”


    Read it all. Gives new meaning to it’s the e-CON-omy, stupid.

    1. LifelongLib

      It’s the proverbial “If you owe the bank a $100K, you have a problem. If you owe the bank $100M, the bank has a problem.”

  16. 3.14e-9

    Granted, Ilya Sheyman is MoveOn’s political director, but still: This is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And 78%!


  17. allan

    Cry havoc and let slip the trustafarians of war:

    Chelsea Clinton takes aim at Sanders over health

    Stumping for her mother for the first time in 2016 on Tuesday, Chelsea Clinton directly criticized Bernie Sanders on health care policy, echoing Hillary Clinton’s recent attacks on the Vermont senator.

    Asked about mounting enthusiasm for Sanders among young people, the daughter of the Democratic presidential frontrunner urged younger voters to focus on the “specifics” of Sanders’ policy proposals.

    “Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,” she said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era – before we had the Affordable Care Act – that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”

    Clinton also took a question about Sanders’ policies on education – the focus of Chelsea Clinton’s New Hampshire swing.

    “There’s a $19 trillion gap in what Sen. Sanders has proposed and how he would pay for what he’s proposed, so that to me is particularly troubling” she said.

    Spoken like a true Goldwater Daughter.

      1. Jim Haygood

        It’s just noblesse oblige from Chelsea Clinton, a hedge fund wife who lives in a $10.5 million apartment in Manhattan.

        Her concern will certainly resonate with young adults making five figures and owing six figures on student loans.

        Chelsea feels your pain (from when the Clintons were so poor).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          After seeing how hard her parents worked to get their millions, she is free to go another route.

          Let’s not be too harsh.

          And, in any case, that’s how wisdom gets passed down from one generation to another, and why we humans are the true masters of the world.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Presently a shrine will be made of her putative birthplace, a humble dirt-floored log cabin in Little Rock.

            Now that she’s old enough to run for president in 2020 … :-O

            1. Massinissa

              And then one of George W. Bush’s daughters can run for the Republican candidacy. Gotta have all the major political dynasties represented, dont’cha know.

        2. Christopher Fay

          And the hedge fund investors in hubby’s hedge fund were “investing” just to buy influence with Bill & Hillary, hedging their interests in the future

        3. Pat

          Except it was a fundraiser designed to be attended by rich folks who know the point is to acquire access not really hear policies or plans, I would ask how she really did. Her speaking ability isn’t even good enough for high school debate.

    1. Massinissa

      Wait, did she say DISMANTLE MEDICARE?

      The socialist wants to DISMANTLE MEDICARE? Does anyone really believe that when she says it?

      And if he wanted to dismantle private insurance… Uh… Wouldn’t that be a GOOD thing?

      Man, Hellery is so desperate shes getting Bill and Chelsea to start stumping for her. They wouldn’t be involved if they thought Hellery was in a good position.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        ObamaCare’s neoliberal intellectual foundations are crumbling.

        If we didn’t need her to invent the internet, we don’t need her to dismantle ObamaCare either. The thing’s foundations are crumbing on their own, though it sounds good she says she wants to dismantle it.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Aieee … time to call in some chips & get Angelina Jolie or Taylor Swift to join the family onstage, says “Bill” with a glint in his eye.

          But Hillary is not about to be upstaged by those grasping hussies.

          1. ambrit

            I prefer the plan for Sean Penn to interview Hillary at some ‘undisclosed location.’ That would set a proper tone for this candidacy.
            I suspect that Angelina is too canny to get within groping distance of ‘Ol Bill.’

      2. jrs

        I suppose replacing Medicare with single payer for all could technically be called dismantling, as an old age healthcare program wouldn’t be necessary once everyone had healthcare (all those medicare advantage plans would surely lose out as well! So maybe that’s also what Chelsea means – Medicare as we know it which is partly privatized at this point ..).

          1. 3.14e-9

            Well, maybe this (brace yourself; it’s bad):

            This week, Clinton and her aides suggested Sanders was out-of-step with the Democratic Party on a host of issues.

            CNN’s trio of intrepid reporters tracked down some of the salacious details:

            “When it really mattered, Senator Sanders voted with the gun lobby and I voted against the gun lobby,” Clinton said, taking the unusual step of calling into MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

            She accused Sanders of saying one thing and doing another and called on him to “introduce legislation to repeal the immunity that was given to gun makers and sellers.”

            “Hillary Clinton increasingly anxious about Bernie Sanders”
            By Jeff Zeleny, Dan Merica and Eric Bradner, CNN

            How long do you reckon it will take them to notice the trail of blood from her self-inflicted gunshot wound to the foot?

    2. Christopher Fay

      Chelsea Clinton, the view from the billionaire bench. Those Clinton Foundations are just clever tax treatments.

      1. Ulysses

        I was going to defend Chelsea, by pointing out that it’s hard to hold on to decency growing up amongst the rich and powerful. Then I thought of Amy Carter, and realized that Chelsea really has no excuse for her plutocratic ways.

  18. sd

    Trash talk….Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall announce engagement which just makes me think Donald Trump really does have a shot at the White House.

  19. Matthew Saroff

    The depressing thing about Hughes selling is that TNR was a improved a lot under his tenure.

    What is going to happen now is that some of Foer’s or Peretz’ cronies will buy and make it back into “Even the liberal New Republic”, spewing right memes with progressive cred.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I believe it was Josh Marshall who said that, in fact, TNR did have a business plan, and had one for years: Run a nearly break-even operation, and have a squillionaire write a fat check at the end of the year. Alas, Hughes had this concept that TNR should be a “real business.”

      Also goes to show that having had the good luck to be Mark Zuckerberg’s college roomie doesn’t mean much in terms of character, intelligence, or stick-to-it-iveness. I’m shocked.

  20. OIFVet

    Iran detains 2 U.S. Navy boats in Persian Gulf, 10 sailors: “Ten sailors aboard two small Navy boats were taken into Iranian custody Tuesday, but Tehran gave assurances the crew and vessels would be promptly returned. The sailors are believed to have drifted into Iranian territory after having mechanical issues with their boats.”

    I am shocked that they weren’t blown out of the water after 17 seconds. What kind of civilized approach to resolving border violations is this?

    1. ambrit

      Probably the Iranian Coast Guard doing their thing. Of course, “promptly returned” depends on how long it takes the Iranian Navy boffins to photograph and test everything new to them on the American vessel.

  21. craazyman

    “You just have to be right to win!”

    Truth is always a shining star in the dark sky of the mind. You point at it and there it is!

    That’s how you win. But you have to be right and if people don’t want to admit it, well, what can you do? That’s the hard part. LOL

    It’s amazing how I’m always right. But that’s not because of me, it’s because of the stars themselves. All I do is point at them. I don’t do anything. I’m too lazy.

    1. ambrit

      Lazy? You can come across as a very energetic Shaman from time to time.
      Truth? That’s an argument Phyllis and I have frequently. From Plato’s Cave to a Mussolini Poster, Truth is a very slippery concept.

  22. JCC

    Here is a good description on the BDI from the Dallas Fed. It compares this directly with the Harper-Petersen and other similar indexes.

    Essentially the BDI measures single item bulk shipments such as coal, iron ore, grain, etc., while the Harper-Petersen and others track containerized shipping which usually combines multiple different items.

    One index is not necessarily more “reliable” and both have their pluses and minuses. Specifically, the BDI looks at costs to ship, but this cost can be greatly affected by how many dry bulk ships are on line. For instance, when times are good and commodities are in big demand, more ships come on line – three to four years later. If bulk commodity demand drops as more ships come on line than during previous good times, prices can drop, a lot, and the BDI can skew seriously to the downside.

    Here is the link to the article, about 8 pages of an easy reading pdf and the section titled Supply Sensitivity Causes Volatility in BDI shows why, at times, Mish doesn’t necessarily rely on the BDI being a reliable single index as many seem to do. Now would be one of those times.

    In the case of his article yesterday he also took advantage of the fact that the Harper Petersen site also gave more detailed information as well as showing maps of ships actually in transit in the Atlantic debunking the article at ZeroHedge saying North Atlantic Trade Ground To A Halt

    As Mish stated:

    Contrary to popular myth, shipping has not ground to a halt. However, shipping volumes and shipping rates have both plunged. 2015 was a disaster by any measure.

    There’s no need to exaggerate. Reality is bad enough.

    He also tracks domestic rail shipping, offering his opinion (of course) on that, too. Again, no need to exaggerate…


    1. Lambert Strether Post author


      Again… Econintersect tracks rail, and rail keeps dropping, even when you factor out coal.

      So what the heck is the economy doing? If more goods aren’t moving…

  23. Skippy

    Today’s episode of life imitating art worthy of a python skit….

    “Even if you don’t immediately recognize the name Jon Ritzheimer, you almost certainly know his distinctive face by now. In terms of who the biggest laughingstock is among the entirely laughable Vanilla ISIS clowns still holding an empty bird sanctuary hostage, Ritzheimer probably sits comfortably atop the pile. Even Ryan Bundy, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Alex Karras’s Mongo character from Blazing Saddles, isn’t as eminently mockable as the man who provided us with the most meme-worthy moment of this whole shit-show so far.

    Ritzheimer, you might remember, is the tough guy militiaman who at the start of the standoff parked his nice pick-up truck off a public road, set up his iPhone and recorded a videoclip that he then uploaded to the internet — which was created by the federal government — where he complains about how government tyranny has made his life unlivable. His performance, which included speaking directly to his daughters about why he wouldn’t be home for New Year’s — because “daddy swore an oath” — was so dripping with tearful melodrama that it instantly inspired a legion of online smart-alecs to do their own versions of what became known as his sad, patriotic farewell.

    Now, apparently not content to let the nationwide ridicule die down a bit, Ritzheimer is back with the sequel to “goodbye cruel world.” See, Jon Ritzheimer is mad right now. Not just about how our hallowed Constitution is being trampled on — although he’s still plenty mad about that — but about how all of us not currently freezing our asses off in Middle of Nowhere, Oregon aren’t taking him and his fellow patriots seriously. Specifically, the problem as Ritzheimer sees it is this: a week ago he and the Bundy Militia put out a call for backup in the form of supplies they somehow forgot to bring with them, this despite the fact that Ammon Bundy said they planned to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for years. Among the supplies they asked for — snacks.” – read on and catch video


  24. ewmayer

    Being a bad patriot (and in protest against the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions spike), I gave the SOTU a big fat miss – will some kind masochistic soul help fill me in on all the soaring rhetoric™ I missed? How about the real-publican response … lots of zesty forward-looking zingers about guns, groaf and the war on terra, I’m guessing. Ooh, and any pertinent post-partum discussion by the below-the-beltway punditry class would be appreciated, as I’m sure it would be an enriching experience.

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