2:00PM Water Cooler 1/13/2016

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.” That would be today! Thanks to alert readers for parsing through the site, especially dk and JTMcPhee.

“Demystifying TTIP” [Alliance for Responsible Commerce]. As you might guess, these are pro-TTIP talking points.

“EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal” [Guardian]. No regulatory race to the bottom, no siree.

“The embarrassing lack of any compelling economic justification for the deal probably explains why there are so few studies: anything even half-way rigorous would show the same, thin gains, which would hardly bolster the case for TTIP. That dearth of high-quality research makes the recent appearance of a new report from the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture entitled “Agriculture in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Tariffs, Tariff-Rate Quotas, and Non-Tariff Measures” (pdf) all-the-more welcome” [TechDirt]. “GDP gains from TTIP are likely to be tiny: in the best case, around 0.1% for the US, and 0.29% for the EU. Both of those are cumulative gains, which means that the annual GDP boost for both sides is once more extremely small.” Ergo, whatever these monstrosities are, they’re not trade deals.

New Zealand: “The TPPA is a direct denial of the rights of Maori as stated in the 1835 Declaration of Independence and as reaffirmed in the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples” [Scoop].



The transcript [Boing Boing]. Please don’t even mention Magic Markers™; I don’t have the strength.

“Obama’s complicated victory lap” [CNN]. Pundits weigh in.

“Obama Praises Own Strength, Resilience In Face Of Hardship During State Of The Union” [The Onion].

“In his final State of the Union, Obama did not directly address race or policing” [WaPo]. Not exactly a victory for #BlackLivesMatter.

“President barely mentions guns in SOTU” [The Hill]. “Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair” (Alfred, Lord Tennyson).

“In his roughly hour-long speech, Obama drew groans from Republicans when he described as ‘political hot air’ the idea that America is getting weaker while its enemies are getting stronger” [Military.com].

“In 2008, Obama’s promise was simple: he would pass sweeping policy changes by bridging the deep divisions in American politics” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. Which was at best delusional, as some of us pointed out at the time.


“Hillary Clinton Whiffs on Reforming Wall Street’s Ratings Agencies” [David Dayen, The Intercept]. And NC readers are well aware that ratings agencies were key players in the financial crash. Interestingly, Sanders adopts a Franken proposal, about which Clinton has nothing to say.

Shockingly, Chelsea Clinton lies like a rug on Sanders and health care [Wall Street Journal, “Chelsea Clinton Channels Hillary Clinton on Campaign Trail”]. Just like her Mom.

Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare and dismantle private insurance

Replacing it with the extremely voter-friendly single payer Medicare for All, which Chelsea’s “dismantle” somehow fails to convey. To be fair, Chelsea’s not concerned with voters, but funders (see Zeke Emmanuel’s remarks under Heatlh Care). Just like her Mom.

“Clinton Wants Higher Estate Tax, Closed Hedge-Fund ‘Loopholes'” [Bloomberg]. I put this under policy, because I suppose that’s the bucket it goes in, but why would anybody take it seriously? In the words of Winston Churchill: “This pudding has no theme.” It’s just one of a number of talking points Clinton is only emitting because Sanders is in the race.

The Voters

Yet another chart with a massive inflection point in the mid-70s [WaPo].

The Trail

New Hampshire: “Sen. Bernie Sanders has widened his lead over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary to 14 points, according to a new poll out Tuesday” [CNN]. “A Monmouth University survey finds the Vermont senator leading Clinton 53% to 39% in the early voting state. That’s a reversal from Monmouth’s last poll, taken in November, that had Clinton up 48% to 45%, though Sanders led in September by 7 points.”

Clinton: “Don’t talk to me about standing up to corporate interests and big powers. I’ve got the scars to show for it, and I’m proud of every single one of them” [WaPo]. Which would explain why they’re so willing to contribute to her campaign.

Eric Holder endorses Clinton [AP]. Unsurprisingly, since Holder’s firm, Covington and Burling, lobbies for banks.

Sanders is the only candidate with a positive image, 44 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable [WaPo].

Iowa, Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll: “Ted Cruz sits atop the Republican pack in Iowa with just 19 days until the caucuses, but Donald Trump is just 3 percentage points behind” [Des Moines Register]. “It has now been nearly five months since Trump has worn the crown of front-runner in an Iowa Poll. But a desire to disrupt the way government typically works is a major consideration for caucusgoers. And they see The Donald as a demolition agent.”

Iowa: “It’s Cruz vs. Trump and Rubio vs. Carson in Home-Stretch Iowa Poll” [Bloomberg]. Cruz and Trump in the top tier, Rubio and Carson in the second tier. And then Jebbie and the other riff-raff.

“[A] growing number of Republican centrists are coming to view Bush’s campaign as a distraction — one that could hurt their ability to keep the nomination away from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz” [Politico]. $250 million to Jebbie, and nothing to show. Hilarious!

“Republicans Lining Up To Punch Foreigner Ted Cruz Right In His Poutine Curds” [Wonkette]. Another splendid headline from Wonkette, but the article is a fine compilation, too.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications: “Purchase applications surged 18 percent in the January 8 week with refinancing applications up 24 percent. These gains, however, also reflect volatility in weekly measures and largely reverse giant swings in the prior week’s data [Econoday].

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, January 2016: “Sagging inflation expectations will not help the Fed achieve its 2 percent inflation goal. Business inflation expectations are down 1 tenth this month, to a year-on-year plus 1.8 percent for the January headline. This reading spent nearly all of 2015 under 2 percent with December’s late peak to 1.9 percent now having fizzled” [Econoday]. “In a separate reading that, however, may hint at emerging wage pressure, is a minus 20 reading for the profit margin index, for a steep 5 point fall from the minus 15 readings of the prior three months. The possible emergence of wage inflation is the wildcard right now.” Maybe Janet can’t find the punchbowl because it’s so small.

Jobs: “January and February are likely to see a significant decline in retail employment. Since 2010, non-seasonally-adjusted employment in the sector has fallen by an average of 787,000 jobs in the opening two months of the year” [Econintersect].

Supply Chain: “The Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider an appeal by three major companies seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging they aided and abetted child slave labor on cocoa plantations in Africa” [Wall Street Journal, “Supreme Court Denies Nestle, Cargill, ADM Appeal in Slave Labor Case”].

Shipping: “Greece’s state sell-off fund TAIPED has asked [China’s] Cosco Pacific to increase its offer for the 51% stake in Piraeus Port Authority after its bid was unsealed in Athens yesterday” [Splash247]. But Cosco is the sole bidder…

“Investors wanting to take out insurance on Saudi Arabia’s debt have to pay as much as they would for Portugal, a nation still saddled with a junk credit-rating five years after an international bailout” [Bloomberg]. “So far US companies have fought off similar lawsuits quite easily as judges ruled the cases brought against them did not directly touch upon the US. This is a result of a ruling in 2013 that made it harder for plaintiffs to sue corporations in US courts for abuses alleged to have happened overseas” [Independent].

“Illiquid investments slow shutdown of SAC Capital” [Francine McKenna, Marketwatch]. “The lengthy period SAC has taken to sell off assets draws attention to what are called side pockets, which are hard-to-sell investments segregated in accounts.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 18 (0); Extreme Fear [CNN]. Last week: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


PFOA, the toxic chemical Dupont dumped into a West Virginia creek, is an ingredient in Teflon [Alternet]. Civilization got along for many thousands of years without non-stick frying pans…

“Flint sending out 1,800 new notices for past-due water bills” [Detroit News]. Can’t keep lead out of the city water supply, but they can sure send out the bills with the best of ’em. Meanwhile, I could hardly believe that the Flint Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley, who was responsible for the water supply debacle, was promoted to head the Detroit Public School system, but it’s true, it’s true! I guess if students start dropping dead after drinking from the water fountains, we’ll know who to blame…

Health Care

Interview with the vile Zeke Emmanuel, now with Oak HC/FT, “a venture capital and growth equity firm focused on the healthcare and financial services sectors,” on Obamacare [Fortune].

I think [ObamaCare] cannot be repealed for a whole variety of reasons. First, almost every part of the healthcare sector―including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies―has built its entire strategy around the direction that ACA is taking the country. So I think that repeal would face resistance from almost every player in the marketplace.

Ka-ching. Sounds like the same strategy used by weapons manufacturers…

“Biden says Obama offered financial help amid son’s illness” [CNN]. Alternate headline: “VP of world’s richest country forced to consider selling home to pay medical bills of veteran son.”

Dear Old Blighty

“Exclusive: Jeremy Corbyn accused of plotting to ‘stitch up’ upcoming by-election” [Telegraph]. Translating, that means that the elected party leader wishes to help an ally win office. Why “moderate” war criminals Blairites Labourites think the road to power is paved with whinging (and stiffing and blinding) I will never understand. Trump would have a field day with these guys though, to be fair, Cameron already has.

Our Famously Free Press

So Fred Hiatt fires Harold Meyerson because Meyerson writes too much about unions, but Ed Rogers, fossil fuel lobbyist, still gets a column [Alternet]. Thanks for clarifying, Fred.

Guillotine Watch

“The organizers of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland want attendees to focus on the challenges of the future: The theme of this year’s annual meeting is Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a catchall rubric that describes advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics” [Bloomberg].

The Davos attendee list [Quartz].

Class Warfare

“[H]andheld devices are an almost perfect expression of the “never switched off” employment culture that has been growing over the past 15 years. It is not surprising that research by the Chartered Management Institute has found that employees unwittingly cancel out their entire annual statutory holiday time with the after-hours work they do” [Guardian].

The trouble is that many workers in the gig economy seem to fall into a legal no-man’s-land, not quite meeting the definition of employees because they generally choose their hours, but not quite independent contractors either because the online platforms exert control over many elements of their work” [Financial Times, “What the small print tells us about Uber, Task Rabbit and Upwork”].

“China to expand social inequality trends: 1 percent of households accounted for one-third of the national property” [yicai.com, via Google Translate]. ” The past 30 years, Chinese residents’ income Gini coefficient from the early 1980s to around 0.3 rise above 0.45 now. According to estimates CFPS2012 data, in 2012, the national income Gini coefficient of about 0.49, well above the warning level of 0.4.”

“The same phenomenon is at work with Powerball: Customers focus their attention less on that incomprehensibly tiny 1-in-292-million probability, and more on what they’ll do with the billion-dollar prize when they win it,” and the Powerball algorithm was tweaked to increase the pot, and decrease the odds of winning [Los Angeles Times]. “It’s also well-understood that in economic terms, the people who are exploited by this mismatch of expectations tend to be disproportionately low-income and less educated.”

News of the Wired

Beans, chickpeas and lentils are good for you [WaPo].

“Terry Gilliam’s Lost Animations from Monty Python and the Holy Grail Are Now Online” [Open Culture].

“Why Do Fascists Have Such Good Graphic Design?” [Print]. So I guess Trump’s off the hook?

RIP Willie Reed, 76, who risked his life to testify in the Emmett Till murder trial [WaPo].

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


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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 and importunate 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. Jim Haygood

    Jeffrey Gundlach, who replaced Bill Gross as the Bond King, is worth listening to, because he bets real-money billions on his economic forecasts:

    Falling commodity prices are signs of China’s weakening economy, which will lead to more destabilizing devaluations of the yuan, Jeffrey Gundlach said Tuesday during a market outlook webcast.

    Moves by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates are fighting non-existent inflation and hurting gross domestic product growth, he said, adding that stocks are going to follow high-yield bonds down and low oil prices may lead to political instability.

    “We could be looking at a really ugly situation during the first quarter of 2016,” he said. “It’s particularly more likely to happen if the Fed keeps banging this drum of raising interest rates against falling inflation.


    Meanwhile the Yellenites debate whether to administer three or four rate hikes this year. It’s like sitting in the listing deck cafe of the Titanic, idly debating whether to order the crumpets or the scones. Garçon!

    1. Andrew Watts

      Whether the Fed raises interest rates or not is irrelevant compared to the impact of China falling into a depression and the disastrous effects it would have on the world economy. I’m guessing that guy is merely talking his book.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Hiking U.S. rates while the rest of world is easing drives up the USD, to which China is pegged. This is the crux of China’s problem — having its currency appreciate while its domestic economy needs easing, not tightening. While China dithers, capital flight is depleting its forex reserves.

        It’s the emerging market “volatility machine” that Michael Pettis wrote about, but at ten times the size of the last go-round.

        Ms Market (as in today’s 40-point S&P index faceplant) will continue puking on J-Yel’s valuable oriental rug till she and Stan the Man capitulate.

        1. Andrew Watts

          An authoritarian government like the Chinese could easily cut the dollar peg if they felt it was weighing down their economy. They could also issue other decrees to curtail capital flight.

          Of course this would only increase short-term volatility, but this doesn’t detract from the idea that monetary policy isn’t playing as big of a role as financiers would like.

          Ms Market (as in today’s 40-point S&P index faceplant) will continue puking on J-Yel’s valuable oriental rug till she and Stan the Man capitulate.

          I find day-to-day market moves to be uninteresting. They are only an indicator for speculators and true believers in animal spirits and other superstitious nonsense.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                In times like these, we do well to listen to ancient Romans – give us more circuses (and magic shows).

                “Make us believe again.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have been conditioned to think without GDP growth, we will lose our jobs.

      What we have experienced though was with GDP growth, we get little or no job and wage growth.

      Another possibility exist – with little/no/ negative GDP growth, but with job and wage growth.

      “Only the down side, for the Little People, when it comes to interest rates.” – that’s another, but similar subject (interest rates, instead GDP growth).

      1. MikeNY


        The problem is with the distribution or composition of GDP, not with its absolute level. Corporate profits are at unsustainable levels (read Inker / Grantham at GMO for a good analysis).

          1. MikeNY

            Ben Inker’s April 2013 piece is a v. good long-form discussion of mean reversion. James Montier also addresses it in the July, 2013 letter. Grantham in 2Q 2015 and passim.

            The money quote I remember (but can’t locate) is something to the effect that corporate profits margins must revert unless the American electorate is willingly to sell itself into serfdom or some such. That was either Inker or Grantham.

      2. cwaltz

        Our idiotic MOTU have overvalued the investment class while undervaluing labor. We’ve got an imbalance where wages have deflated or become stagnant(which means they have less and less purchasing power)and the market is always expected to go up, up, up. It doesn’t take an economics major to realize something is going to give eventually.

        The self important rich like to believe they create jobs. They don’t. Demand creates jobs.

        1. two beers

          To your first point, the problem is that students who’ve invested four years (or more for grad work) in learning neo-classical econ are, thanks to the mechanisms of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, going to be the last ones to realize something is going to give.

          To your second point, yes, workers create jobs, and wealth, which doesn’t trickle down, but flows (or is vacuumed) up.

    3. different clue

      Maybe the Yellenites have decided to stop torturing savers into flushing all their meager savings down the stock market. Maybe the Yellenites want to see several million old people savers able to gain enough interest on their savings to be able to buy the economy bags of generic dry cat food to stave off starvation.
      Maybe that’s a good thing.

  2. allan

    “Emanuel will serve as a venture partner at Oak HC/FT [a venture capital and growth equity firm focused on the healthcare and financial services sectors], while maintaining several roles at the University of Pennsylvania ― where he is vice provost of global initiatives, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and the Diane and Robert Levy University Professor.”

    No possible conflicts of interests there, it’s good to see.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Both wings of the Depublicrat party fall to under 30% market share, as their victims consumers walk off the reservation in apathy or disgust. Gallup survey:


      As I’m fond of saying, “So what slash who cares?”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Consumers (of political parties) in a free market economy should be able to buy and sell politicians freely.

        1. different clue

          Well . . . a nominee Sanders and/or a nominee Trump might gain some returnees to the Depublicrat market. Because while there may be minimal difference among the flavors of Depublicrat in general, there may be rather more difference between “Trump” and “Sanders”.

  3. EmilianoZ

    PFOA is on all our non-stick pans. It’s also on all our outdoorsy clothes that claim to be waterproof or water resistant. If it says it has DWR finish (durable water repellent finish), it has the chemical.

    You gotta choose, you wanna be dry or you wanna be cancer-free. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

      1. human

        Not when you consider that one is intimately familiar with their clothing for hours at a time. On a related note: I only wonder what damage we are doing to ourselves when we treat our clean clothing with chemicals then place them directly against our skin or sleep wrapped in them.

  4. OIFVet

    “Biden says Obama offered financial help amid son’s illness.” What, Hunter’s Ukraine scam ain’t paying off? Putin is evil, forcing old Joe to go begging for handouts. Still, the story is very fishy. Beau Biden was a veteran, meaning he had access to VA care and particularly to Walter Reed. He was also an elected official, meaning that he had pretty good health insurance. Most of the treatments he received were under that insurance policy, since he was diagnosed at the beginning of his second term as AG. So how and why would the Bidens need financial help with medical costs?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the VP of the US needs financial help amidst his son’s illness from the chief commander, our health care system needs a lot of reform, so that the vice president can do his job without having to worry about how to care for his sick kid.

      1. OIFVet

        When you think about it, this story attempts to convey certain messages. “They are just like you and me, with the same struggles and worries.” “Obama is just such a swell guy.” It also raises questions: if 0bamacare is so swell, how come the Bidens were threatened with financial ruin? After all, in terms of income, Beau was making six figures as the AG of Delaware. And I doubt he had a crappy 0bamacare plan in the first place, so what does that say about 0bama’s legacy? “Hitch your wagon to a rich person and hope they throw you a scrap or two.” Geez, it’s like a more depressing version of the trickle down.

    2. grayslady

      As I read the story, it wasn’t the costs of medical care, but, rather, how Beau’s wife and children were going to manage financially after his death. Sounds as though Beau didn’t have life insurance or much in the way of savings.

      1. OIFVet

        “The truth is, that once in every half-century, at least, a family should be merged into the great, obscure mass of humanity, and forget about its ancestors.” Hawthorne.

    3. reslez

      > Beau Biden was a veteran, meaning he had access to VA care

      Sadly the VA doesn’t just hand out health care to everyone who ever served. AFAIK Beau Biden wasn’t a combat vet, his illness wasn’t service connected, and he certainly didn’t meet the VA’s income threshold. I don’t think he’d be eligible.

      He left office as DE’s AG in January 2015 but maybe he had access to something similar to COBRA. Not sure how that works for elected officials.


      1. OIFVet

        The VA is happy to charge those with higher incomes very reasonable rates for the care it provides. They will not turn away any veteran, regardless of income or lack of service connected disability. My own eligibility is service connected, but I do get charged very reasonable copays based on my income. And Beau did pass away at Walter Reed, apparently.

  5. ProNewerDeal

    How much is Biden’s debt from Biden’s dead son’s medical bills? Biden makes $230.7K/yr as VP. IIRC his wife made ~$60K as a Community College Professor.

    BTW, doesn’t the medical debt die with the son? Or is the son’s wife or even the dad Biden somehow liable for the son’s medical debt?

    I am not impressed that 0bama publicly brags (via Biden) that he will help his 1 coworker Biden with medical bills, but murders by spreadsheet ~30K USians/yr via 0bama’s killing MedicareForAll in 2010. Biden helped 0bama get elected in 2008, as the Establishment Old White Guy Cosigner of 0bama.

    I would not be surprised if 0bama gets in 2017 as ex-Pres 1-5 bribes, er “speech fees” of $200K+ for 1 hour of “work” from health insurers & other SickCareMafia giant oligopolist companies, as repayment for 0bama’s killing of MedicareForAll, that will pay back whatever amount 0bama supposedly offered to paid to Biden or Biden’s dead son’s wife.

  6. Jason

    It’s seldom that I have a quibble, but.. “Civilization got along for many thousands of years without non-stick frying pans… ” isn’t entirely true. Civilization had pretty damn good non-stick frying pans for thousands of years (at least in China – I think its been a mere century or three here in the West) in the form of cast iron pans. But DuPont didn’t own a patent on cast iron.

    1. Carla

      I use one of my four cast iron frying pans at least once a day. Three of them belonged to my late mother, who used them for decades before, in her upper-80s, she no longer had the strength to lift them.

  7. allan

    Even lotteries are ripe for disruption:

    Lottoland works by offering punters the chance to bet on the outcome of the lottery rather than purchasing an actual ticket for the draw.

    Should a punter hit the jackpot or divisional prizes, Lottoland will pay out the equivalent of the prize money, as if the customer had a ticket for the draw.

    In the case of this Thursday’s US powerball draw, that means that should any Australian gamblers choose the correct numbers it would be Lottoland rather than the US lottery operator which would ultimately pay out the expected bumper prize.

    Lottoland holds insurance policies with companies including Lloyd’s of London to cover any major payouts, which Mr Brill said is the company’s single largest expense.

    But punters pay for the privilege of being able to tap into global lottery pools that have previously been off limits.

    Whenever you are offered `the privilege of being able tap into global’ anything,
    it’s time to put your hand on your wallet and run back away slowly.

      1. Massinissa

        Ah, but you forget, the poor think they don’t have much to lose, and they cant win if they don’t play, since they cant win in society by normal means.

    1. ambrit

      Lotteries are also a very efficient wealth transfer mechanism from State Education budgets to Pork Barrel projects at the State level. We saw that in Louisiana.

  8. Llewelyn Moss

    SOTU – Obama says “give me a vote on an AUMF against ISIS”. Dems fall out of their seats applauding. Idiots.

    Yes of course, the Muslim Religious War (Sunnis Vs Shiites) that has raged since the 7th century will be solved by injecting US troops into the conflict. I guess no one has learned Shite in the past two decades of war.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Please don’t fall for Tom Friedman’s framing. Sunni and Shiites aren’t monolithic groups at each other’s throats. Without Western and Saudi fear mongering and scapegoating, they often get along as well any one else.

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Ok, that’s fine. Then whatever they are fighting for, two decades of US presence (and X $Trillions) has only made things worse. I say get out and let them solve it themselves.

    2. jrs

      “give me a vote on an AUMF against ISIS”

      ah yes I remember this idea …

      from the last Republican debate. The great /sarc Ben Carson:

      “And I am asking the Congress, which represents the people, to declare a war on ISIS so that we can begin the process of excising that cancer and
      begin the healing process, and bring peace, prosperity, and safety back to America.”

  9. Charger01

    Now for something different- I had an opportunity to watch The Big Short last night. It was the best film regarding the Financial Crisis since the very underrated Margin Call.
    I couldn’t help but walk away from the theatre with a profound sense of melancholy at the enormity of the crisis. It destroyed lives by hubris and greed. As I was walking back to my hotel, I looked up and noticed the name of the nearby building. “Washington Mutual Savings bank”. By sheer chance I walked by the historic location of our own home grown subprime peddler Wamu. I peered into the storefront and smiled at the irony of it all. This former banking powerhouse had been converted into studios for performance theatre and dance. Art was replacing the destruction that had preceded. I hope you all have a moment like that in your lives.

  10. rich

    Carlyle Monetizes Mountain Water: Thumbs Missoula, Montana PSC

    The Carlyle Group took the bold step of selling Missoula’s Mountain Water, a division of Carlyle’s Park Water holdings. The sale occurred after a court condemned Mountain Water, giving the City of Missoula the right to buy their local water company for just under $90 million.

    Apparently, The Carlyle Group is bigger than local governments or state public utility commissions. The billionaire boys are used to steering government, not the other way around..

    “And that’s unprecedented in the state of Montana, that a private utility has been purchased without PSC approval. So we were surprised to say the least about this transaction.”


    I’m not sure it was a thumb but it’s definitely a finger.

  11. perpetualWAR

    Looks like Senator Cruz has alzheimers. Awful early in his years to forget to disclose a million dollar loan, ain’t it?

    1. sd

      Geithner forgot to pay taxes. Thomas forgot to disclose fees. Corker forgot foreign donations. List goes on and on. Feature of DC not a bug.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Expect the Clinton campaign to double down on the ugly. It’s all they know how to do. Mother Jones has been a fine outlet for what looks an awful lot like Clinton oppo on Sanders, so…

  12. optimader

    Shockingly, Chelsea Clinton lies like a rug on Sanders and health care [Wall Street Journal, “Chelsea Clinton Channels Hillary Clinton on Campaign Trail”]. Just like her Mom.
    Now that Chelsea has stuck her foot in the door jam of the body politic she is fair game and it’s time to put the metaphorical wooden stake in her political heart sooner rather than later.
    The Clinton political dynasty needs to be turned into ash along with Bush’s, which Jeb hopefully is diligently burning down.

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