2:00PM Water Cooler 1/14/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has yet to take a stance on [TPP]” [The Hill]. “I’m reading it now,” she told reporters last week. “I’m going to study it very carefully.”

“[T]he normal win-lose binary doesn’t apply for ISDS cases. Regardless of the decision delivered, governments always lose – even when they win (which happens only 35% of the time) due to millions of euros lost in legal fees and arbitration costs” [Euractiv]. Not to mention the chilling effects.



“Hillary Clinton’s Single-Payer Pivot Greased By Millions in Industry Speech Fees” [The Intercept]. “Hillary Clinton alone, from 2013 to 2015, made $2,847,000 from 13 paid speeches to the [health care] industry. This means that Clinton brought in almost as much in speech fees from the health care industry as she did from the banking industry.” Ka-ching.

“Major GOP donors and fundraisers are wondering whether they’re wasting their money on super-PACs” [The Hill]. Or, less politely, whether grifters in the political class picked their pockets. Which is sensible. That’s where the money is.


“The context here is that Clinton doesn’t support single-payer health care. Sanders does. And so do many liberal Democratic primary voters” [Sarah Kliff, Vox].

Nice clip from the Sanders campaign:

I remember this episode from 2008. In the Ohio primary (note the “Cincinnati” backdrop) Obama distinguished his health care proposal from Clinton’s by coming out against the mandate (which, if you’re going to go with a “market-based,” Heritage-style solution, is indeed necessary to achieve universal coverage, as all economists agreed). Obama then sent out Harry and Louise-style mailers against Clinton, which so disgusted [genuflects] Krugman that he gave Obama fifty lashes with a wet noodle. So, nice work, Sanders staff: (1) Clinton supported universal health care once, but as NC readers know, ObamaCare is by no means universal, so what’s her plan to make it so? Details, please! And (2) Clinton, as you can see, did some heavy-duty whinging in 2008 about Obama’s tactics, but her own tactics in 2016 are as bad if not worse.

“The Clinton camp is lambasting Bernie Sanders’ health care plan, but its critique is blatantly dishonest” [US News]. I can’t imagine staffers thought this line of attack was a good idea; perhaps Clinton believes it herself?

The Trail

“‘The thing that tells you as much as anything about [the Clinton campaign’s] current state of mind is Chelsea going on the attack. It tells you everything you need to know,’ said one Democratic strategist. ‘That this [challenge from Sanders] is real and they’ve got to be freaking out'” (brackets in the original) [The Hill].

“Hillary Clinton says she’s ‘not nervous at all’ about Bernie Sanders. She should be” [WaPo].

“Bernie Sanders for President” [The Nation]. “This magazine rarely makes endorsements in the Democratic primary (we’ve done so only twice: for Jesse Jackson in 1988, and for Barack Obama in 2008).”

Sanders “scored an endorsement from progressive group [Iowa CCI] who will mobilize their 3000 members to caucus for him in Iowa” [@LACaldwellDC]. To me, this is bigger than the Nation endorsement; 3000 ground troops aside, “Iowa CCI activists heckled Mitt Romney in 2012, prompting him to respond with the infamous line, ‘Corporations are people, my friend.'” So they’re players.

“Democrats [*** cough *** the Clinton campaign *** cough *** ] want Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to endorse a presidential candidate soon. But they won’t say it publicly” [Politico]. No, so they leak it. What’s in it for Warren? The cabinet post she’d surely get under Sanders?

Bill Clinton, stumping for of the Clinton dynasty, in Claremont, NH: “People said Hillary Clinton has a great organization and a huge lead in the polls. Well things have changed” [WCAX (Petal)]. One might ask why….

Bill Clinton, ditto, in Hanover, NH: “I was raised by my mother to believe that if you’re ashamed of something, you shouldn’t do it. And if you’re going to do it, you ought to just tell everybody” [Valley News (Petal)]. So that means Hillary Clinton is going to release all the mail from her privatized State Department server?

“Benghazi panel chair: Clinton’s email setup is a ‘smoking gun'” [The Hill]. “Because we have talked for so long about this unusual email arrangement she has had with herself, we have a tendency to just gloss over the fact that for two years none of her emails were in the public domain.” He’s almost there; it’s privatizing the server that’s the problem in and of itself. And so where does he go with it? Classification. Security theatre. Not corruption.

“I went to a Trump rally in my hijab. His supporters aren’t just racist caricatures” [Guardian].

Republican Debate Tonight

A smaller main event: Trump, Cruz, Rubio,Carson, Christie, Jebbie, and Kasich [Time]. The undercard: Paul, Fiorina, Huckabee, Santorum [Time]. But Paul was still fighting to get at the grown-ups’ table.

“​How to stream Thursday’s Republican debate” [CNET].

“The two polls – based on New Hampshire voters – released Monday just ahead of debate sponsor Fox Business Network’s deadline kept Kasich in the main stage debate at a critical time – less than a month before Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary” [Columbus Dispatch]. “Kasich and his allies have invested the most time and money in New Hampshire with the governor celebrating his 50th town hall there last week, the most of any candidate in the race.”

“Over the course of the debates, center stage — the position reserved for the person polling the highest — has remained as steady as the foundation of Trump Tower. Everything else, though, has been tumultuous” (handy chart) [WaPo].

“The first five debates didn’t produce any knockout moments that disqualified a candidate, but polling data suggest good performances have been rewarded with a boost of support” [Wall Street Journal, “Good Debate Performances Rewarded, Polling Shows”]. “The polling trends also show, once again, that Donald Trump is different than traditional candidates: His support moves independently of the televised debates.”

“Cruz is inarguably the most experienced and technically proficient debater on stage. At Princeton, he was a championship-level competitor in the American Parliamentary Debate Association, known by peers for his exhaustive preparation and breakdown of performances after the fact. And his old colleagues and foes recognize the Cruz they knew in college on the nation’s biggest stage — the polish, the dramatic pauses, the tactical topic shifts” [Politico].


Transcript of Haley’s response [WaPo]. Vice-Presidential material….

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of January 9, 2016: “Up 7,000 to 284,000 in the January 9 week, initial jobless claims haven’t been this high since way back in early July. Neither has the 4-week average, up 3,000 to 278,750” [Econoday]. “Today’s numbers all show pressure relative to December and hint at a less strong employment report for January.” And: “Claim levels are at 40 year lows” [Econintersect].

Import and Export Prices, December 2015: “Cross-border price pressures continue to sink into deep contraction, down a month-to-month 1.2 percent for December import prices and down 1.1 percent for export prices” [Econoday]. “Weakness is spilling into finished goods prices where capital goods imports, down 0.3 percent in the month, are at a year-on-year minus 2.5 percent which is the steepest decline since 2002.” And: “Trade prices continue to deflate year-over-year, and energy prices again drove this month’s decline” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 10, 2016: “Trouble in China and volatility in the financial markets do not seem to be bothering the U.S. consumer, at least yet. The consumer comfort index for the January 10 week is up, not down” [Econoday].

Rail: In contraction (backing out coal and grain) [Econintersect].

Shipping: “Overall, Amazon is taking its growing logistics know-how to the next logical step, “which is the transport and delivery of the packages they are picking and packing,” [John Haber, CEO of Spend Management Experts] said” [USA Today]. “The big question for investors, said [Jarrett Streebin, CEO of EasyPost], is whether these moves will end up making investors think twice about Amazon’s stock price. ‘Why,’ they might ask, ‘am I paying tech multiples for this company to be a logistics company?’ he said.” Monopoly rents down the road?

Honey for the Bears: “[C]orporate defaults are the highest since 2009 and Standard & Poor’s said this week that the outlook for corporate borrowers worldwide is the worst since the global financial crisis” [Bloomberg].

Honey for the Bears, Dimon on the economy: “It’s as good as it’s ever been. Obviously it’s going to get a little bit worse” [Wall Street Journal, “J.P. Morgan’s Dimon Warns Economy Likely to Worsen”]. The headline seems more sensational than the quote; nevertheless, JP Morgan is building up its loan reserves.

Honey for the Bears: “A number of triggers accelerated stock-market losses in Asia, from investors’ guesswork about whether Chinese regulators will intervene in its markets to the sliding price of oil and explosions in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta. A selloff in the U.S., lately an example of economic recovery, has exposed its vulnerability to volatility overseas. Taken together, the factors sent regional currencies lower and investors toward haven assets” [Wall Street Journal, “China Shares Flirt With Bear-Market Territory”].

Fraud: “Renault SA offices in France were searched by government fraud investigators as part of a probe into vehicle emissions, raising the specter of a VW-type scandal and sending the carmaker’s shares down as much as 23 percent” [Bloomberg]. This keeps happening. Just how big is the fraud bezzle in manufacturing, anyhow?

The Fed: “Headwinds from China and the world’s commodity markets may once again be upending the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans less than a month into its first-in-a-decade tightening cycle” [Reuters]. The Punchbowl Not as Big as the Ritz….

Nice review of Wray’s new book, Why Minsky Matters [Enlightened Economist]. “If Minsky is still, as the book jacket claims, a maverick shunned by the mainstream – why?”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 15 (+1); Extreme Fear [CNN]. Last week: 25 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Dear Old Blighty

“Jeremy Corbyn’s hard Left plotters branded ‘croissant-eating London-centric mansion owners’ by Labour grandee Lord Watts” [Telegraph].


“While Flint’s government and its financial struggles certainly have a role to play in the city’s water woes, the city may actually be a canary in the coal mine, signaling more problems to come across the country” [The Atlantic]. “‘Flint is an extreme case, but nationally, there’s been a lack of investment in water infrastructure,’ said Eric Scorsone, an economist at Michigan State University who has followed the case of Flint. ‘This is a common problem nationally— infrastructure maintenance has not kept up.'” Because it would be irresponsible not to speculate: No “investment” because elites choked off gummint spending at the state level and, led by private equity, gutted the industrial base, gutting property taxes at the local level. And here we are.

“Expert says Michigan officials changed a Flint lead report to avoid federal action” [Michigan Public Radio] (from last November). Story gets uglier all the time.

“Mich. governor activates National Guard in water crisis” [USA Today]. “Members of the National Guard are expected to staff fire stations and distribute bottles of water, freeing members of the American Red Cross to handle the door-to-door distribution of water and water filters.” Oh. I thought they were going to clean the lead out of the pipes, or something.

Militia Watch

“Angry Militia Leader: Stop Mailing Us Dildos” [Gawker].

And then there’s this:

Yes, $1,200 could have been better spent, but what an epic jape!

“Harney County has told an Ammon Bundy-affiliated group of locals that it can’t hold a planned community meeting at the county-owned fairgrounds” [Oregon Live].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Pentagon Spends $10 Million On Powerball Tickets With Hopes Of Bolstering F-35 Program” [Duffel Blog].

“For the last fifteen years, I have been told over and over that my experiences of not feeling threatened by terrorists, of not once worrying that I or someone I cared for was going to be killed in my home country by a fundamentalist with a vest or a gun, have been false. I’ve been told this even though the statistics convincingly demonstrate that my non-apprehension of danger is correct” [N+1]. “At the current moment, it is not clear that our political system is capable of imagining the country as being for anything other than keeping its citizens safe.”

Class Warfare

“[I]f the left has a future, it has to reclaim its Promethean commitment to elevating every human being to a condition of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress” [Boing Boing].

“Crowdsourced work is supposed to be a new, more casual, and more liberating form of work, but it is anything but” [The Baffler]. “[T]his labor regime is just another variation on the age-old practice of exploiting ordinary workers and restructuring industrial relations to benefit large corporations and owners of the platforms serving them. The lies and rhetorical obfuscations of crowdsourcing have helped tech companies devalue work, and a long-term, reasonably secure, decently paying job has increasingly become a MacGuffin—something we ardently chase after but will likely never capture, since it’s there only to distract us from the main action of the script.”

“President Barack Obama’s administration, citing concern about the origin of funds used for all-cash purchases of luxury real estate, said it is stepping up scrutiny of transactions in New York City and Miami” [Bloomberg]. Hmm. Readers will recall that “the world’s weatlhy” are buying Los Angeles real estate through straws. So why only New York and Miami?

“A full 93 percent of U.S. counties have not fully recovered from the recession that hit most of America six years ago, according to the nonpartisan National Association of Counties” [WaPo]. Handy map of “the recovery” by county.

News of the Wired

Pope Francis to meet with Eric Schmidt [Guardian].

“Physicists have for months been buzzing about the possible detection of gravitational waves—a finding that would confirm one of the key predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity” [Scientific American]. But it’s still only buzz.

“Anthems for the Moon: David Bowie’s Sci-Fi Explorations” [Pitchfork].

Family of an American defense contractor who was shot while training security forces in Jordan sues Twitter for “knowingly” permitting terrorists to use it [NBC Bay Area].

“School Sports Fans Told Not To Chant ‘U-S-A'” [Sky News]. Great. I hate jingoism. And if you’re really the greatest, you don’t have chant about it.

* * *

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 (Chet):


Chet writes:

It’s been rather a slow photography season for me this winter – no snow in central PA; however, the attached photo of the shelf fungi came out rather well, I think.

I’m dreaming of a white fungus…

* * *

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. Synoia

    Hillary Clinton says she’s ‘not nervous at all’ about Bernie Sanders.

    Methinks she doth protest too much.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Clinton Foundation Money and speaking fees wasn’t payback for services rendered. They were bribes for the future. If Hillary loses, she has to pay creditors, and her campaign isn’t cheap.

      Who owns Chelsea’s apartment?

    2. hunkerdown

      That, or she’s sure the TPP will go through and leave even the best-intentioned administration with few degrees of freedom.

  2. Synoia

    Readers will recall that “the world’s weatlhy” are buying Los Angeles real estate through straws. So why only New York and Miami?

    The proposed solution is to require Title Insurance companies to verify the actual buyers of the real estate.

    This will not work as cash buyers have no need for title insurance (only lenders benefit for the title insurance), and can have their Attorney review the “Abstract of Title” for conveyancing purposes.

    It is a deliberate misdirection. The very wealthy have all manner of recourse through their money and lawers. This will only identify those who have to get loans without an established banking relationship – That is the middle tier of buyers, not the super wealthy.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘cash buyers have no need for title insurance’

      I have in my desk drawer a title insurance policy for the full amount of a cash real estate purchase.

      Cash buyers don’t have to obtain homeowners insurance either. But buyers with more than two working brain cells get it anyway.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe they will put all their cash into antiques.

        But it’s hard to get title insurance for antiques; most rely on self-proclaimed provenances.

        “It has been in my family’s garage for over 100 years, since great grand father returned from putting down rebellions in the Philippines and Peking.”

    2. Pavel

      The good news is that the prices for the uber-expensive homes are starting to fall and the investors will probably lose money. Per Michael Krieger:

      Last fall, I published several posts detailing the clear evidence that London’s luxury home market had topped, as news emerged that sales for the most expensive units had plunged 26% year-over-year. This was significant since London represents the ultimate prize in the corrupt foreign oligarch/dictator portfolio. It was the canary in the coal mine for the entire global ultra-luxury real estate market, and we’re now seeing indicators that this trend is also becoming entrenched in America’s oligarch crown jewel: Manhattan.

      A few weeks ago, Bloomberg published an important article that many of you may have missed since it came out on Christmas eve. It was titled, Manhattan Luxury-Home Prices in a Slide, Defying Broader Market, and here are a few key excerpts…

      Read more here: Manhattan Luxury Real Estate Peaked Last February – Prices Now Down 8 Months in a Row

      All those spooky high-rise ghost buildings in Manhattan will be a monument to Peak Greed.

    3. alex morfesis

      They may be looking for appraisal fraud…phony cash buying made to look like there are overseas cash buyers to pump up values to allow refi lubrication…they will only be monitering for six months…looks like they may have caught some crew playing a bubble up game… Three to five “cash sales” within six months allows for price valuation adjustments to “conform”…

  3. Carolinian

    Water Cooler comic quote of the day

    Bill Clinton, ditto, in Hanover, NH: “I was raised by my mother to believe that if you’re ashamed of something, you shouldn’t do it. And if you’re going to do it, you ought to just tell everybody”

    Of course it could be he is sincere and simply never feels shame. However given Clinton’s clearly chagrined reaction when he was caught out with Monica that’s obviously not true. Perhaps blatantly conducting a liaison with a blabby intern mere steps away from the oval office was his way of “telling everybody.”

    IMO Hillary’s real desperation move is bringing on Bill. We are all trying to wipe him from our minds.

    1. Pavel

      If one of HRC’s key strengths is with women voters, will it really help her in the end to bring back serial-philanderer (if not worse), sleazeball Bill Clinton? I agree with others that this is a sign of desperation. Surely she’d rather that he remain in the background if possible. Just look how Trump (who doesn’t give a shit about normal political etiquette) pounced on Bill’s sexist behaviour. Team Clinton are really playing with fire.

      As for that quote– I couldn’t believe the shamelessness either. “I was raised by my mother to believe that if you’re ashamed of something, you shouldn’t do it. And if you’re going to do it, you ought to just tell everybody”

      File that under Bill Clinton: sociopath.

      1. Crazy Horse

        Women voters who want to follow the Hildabeast better brush up on their broomstick riding skills.

          1. Crazy Horse

            Frankly I can’t see how referring to Hillary Clinton as a broomstick riding witch is sexist–just factual. And if you don’t think she is a sociopath I suggest you watch this video of her chortling soon after watching Qaddafi being sodomized with a bayonet.

            “We came, We saw, He died.” — chortle–cackle— Hillary Clinton

              1. craazyman

                It would take a very cunning linguist to succeed with that challenge.

                Maybe ”dildobeast”? Reducing as it does the complex and human whole to the most mindless part.

                It’s in the right direction but it’s not quite spot on. The other problem is a lot of men don’t mind being called a beast. Maybe something else will come to me. If it does, I won’t be shy about postiing it!

              2. Crazy Horse

                One of the characteristic flaws with liberals is that their desire to be politically correct often blinds them to the actual reality.

                Here we have an individual who is clearly sociopathic, guilty of actions while in office that are treasonous under the law, and has accumulated millions of dollars in bribes — much of it from foreign governments and interests— while in office. And all that stands between her and the Presidency is an egotistical buffoon with a blonde wig on his head.

                And you are concerned that calling Hillary a witch or even a beast is politically incorrect.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t think philanderer is the right frame, even though that’s the frame the Republicans used (to their shame, if such were possible, given that the sanctimonious and Pharisaical Republican leadership — Livingston, Gingrich, and Hastert — were all guilty of the same behavior, or worse. “There but for the grace of God [if any] go I” covers a lot of situations, including this one).

        In retrospect, I see that in the Clinton/Lewinsky affair he was the boss, and she was the subordinate. Not the sort of thing that ought to go on in any workplace (and that she was personally damaged by it, and he was not, bears out the importance of the distinction; as usual, the powerful skate, and the powerless pay the price, which is why the powerful ought to feel a duty of care). Of course, the Republicans never raised that issue — the Clintons, as I keep saying, are lucky in their enemies — and that could be because they instinctively oppose the very concept of workplace harassment.

    2. McKillop

      Many people are raised by their parents to believe certain moral behaviours: many, myself included, don’t practice what our moms preached. Claiming that my mom taught me to be honest in act and belief is a fine distraction from any dishonesty in which I engage.
      (I was also encouraged to avoid ‘smutty’ comments.)
      Incidentally, because of medical treatment for macular degeneration a few hours ago, I’m having trouble reading accurately. I misread your comment about the distance from the “oval orifice”. I should call it a day and rest.

  4. allan

    Interesting 18 minute video at Vice on hunting for police Stingrays in London.

    And, as for VP flavor of the week Nikki Haley, in her SOTU response she said,

    We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion. Let’s not start that now.

    Which reminds of when Ronald Reagan said, “When I was growing up, we didn’t even know we had a race problem in this country.” IOKIYAAR.

  5. Paper Mac

    “[I]f the left has a future, it has to reclaim its Promethean commitment to elevating every human being to a condition of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress”

    In other words, the future of “the left” is to smash itself on the very same thermoeconomic and biophysical barriers that orthodox neoliberal capitalism is currently foundering on, i.e. no future at all. As Koselleck cogently noted, progress teleologies are the narratives that (capitalist) states used to displace premodern historical consciousness(es):

    “For Koselleck, prognosis and process crossbred to create the idea of progress that would become the central feature of the modern consciousness of history. This development, however, did not only emerge in intellectual contexts but in fact in concrete political situations. For example, Koselleck describes the ways in which European states sought to suppress millenarian prophecies and their promises of divine salvation in order to consolidate the political influence of the state. However, in so doing, the state had to satisfy in some other way a future with which the people can continue to expect and hope for. As Koselleck writes, “progress unfolded to the degree that the state and its prognostics were never able to satisfy soteriological demands which persisted within a state whose existence depended on the elimination of millenarian expectations” (Futures Past, 17). Thus, the state had to produce, as it were, its own prophecies of the future, albeit guised in terms of rational prognosis which it then subsequently and ideologically called progress.” (https://belate.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/marx-arendt-koselleck-on-modernity/)

    Progress is not an empirical, axiomatic law of nature, it’s an ideological construct, and the blithe co-opting of modernist teleologies as a movement’s central commitment is a sure way for that movement to propel itself into history’s trashcan with the rest of the state-generated fantasies that are so visibly on their way out.

      1. McKillop

        The comment quoted mentioned ‘luxurious abundance and leisure’ as the standard – and for everyone. Your interpretation calls for modest concrete material benefits.
        Curbing greed and ostentatious ‘trumpism’ to provide a sufficiency for all would certainly require endless effort if not ‘progress’.

  6. Anon

    Re: The Baffler

    I didn’t know that about Duolingo (i.e. that the practices are used to get actual articles translated). What makes this a bit depressing is that the “crowdsourcing” phenomenon has infiltrated just about every facet of society now (maybe with the exception of medical care). Even if there’s a way back, will people take it?

    Could it be that the concept of a professional will perish in our lifetime?

    1. jgordon

      Why is being “anti-government” extremist? Most people I talk to hate, or at least dislike, the government. I’m sure that’s a widespread opinion. Then, wouldn’t be slightly more accurate to say that people who like the government are extremists?

      1. jrs

        They may dislike it but probably benefit from some government programs like Social Security. However it is still accurate to say that the government mostly serves the interest of the plutocrats and merely throws the rest of us some bones it is forever and ever threatening to take away. But siding with the government when it preserves some land against corporate interest is not fighting the bad parts of government. So yea it’s probably extremist not to make any distinction.

        1. jgordon

          I take issue with your (intentional?) conflation of harboring anti-government/establishment sentiments with being extremist. “Extremist” is quickly becoming an overused catch-all ad hominem against people who have political opinions the establishment and establishment media don’t like.

          That doesn’t necessary mean that those political opinions are in fact bad. Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King for example were both extremists who the entrenched political establishments of their time would have been happy to be rid of. I don’t doubt for a second that the government of today views those citizens who favor less war, less drones, and less police violence as “extremists”. At this rate the word will become a badge of honor.

          1. Crazy Horse

            “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!”
            Barry Goldwater –Acceptance Speech as the 1964 Republican Presidential candidate.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Yes, to my mind “extremist” boils down to any opinion outside the Overton Window (maintained officially by the political class). So, the term conflates single payer supporters (at least, ten years ago, maybe) with nutjobs who want to bring back the Confederacy.

      2. Code Name D

        It’s the nature and source of that hate that one needs to be concerned with. Many of the anti-government movements have very distorted and even anti-reality based perspectives on what governments are and even what the state is in general.

        For example, a common definition used of the state is “that which reserves for itself the right to use force.” This is mischaracterization of the actual definition of the state which simply includes the “authority of force” as one of its properties – but not its defining or only property. In social science, a states propensity or reliance on force as a tool for governance is often regarded as a negative property and even argue for its instability.

        Most rank and file conservatives tend to have a very child-like perspective of the world, drawn in simplistic absolutes. All aspect of the government is now defined in terms of force. All taxes for example, are levied or collected at the end of a gun. Fail to pay your taxes, and the IRS will come and brake down your door and take the money from you at gun point. All forms of government regulation are “from the point of a gun.” So there is a government agent (or at least an implied agent) pointing a gun at your head to make sure you drive on the right side of the road or stop at stop signs.

        At the same time the government is striped of any benevolent properties. The government doesn’t create jobs for example. And trying to wave away a government paycheck can get rather elaborate. Usually government employees are not “actual” workers contributing to the economy because of – say it with me – markets. Even successful and popular programs, such as Social Security, are reinterpreted to be market functions, rather than government functions. (“Keep your government hands off my Social Security”) Things such as “property” and “rights” are redefined to be “divine gifts from God” or “self-evident rights” that are just obvious.

        There are a lot of religious themes running through anti-government groups. That the government is the agent of the devil, or interested in suppressing the truth of the Bible. Public schools are satanic indoctrination programs that exist only to turn your children away from God and to the gay-life style. Or worse – make them into liberals. (GASP)

        Stepping away from religion, you run into the religion of free markets. The profit motive is what drives everything. And because the government exists outside of the market – and there is no profit motive, government workers are by definition lazy, incompetent, corrupt, and uncreative. They are the ones who can’t make it in the free market – so government paychecks are their only salvation.

        1. hunkerdown

          I say this as an economic leftist with a center-to-left social alignment, but ultimately, isn’t ALL of the state’s power backed by force for those who won’t sit in the penalty box like good subjects? I mean, if you don’t care what the bourgeoisie thinks, and you don’t care about maximizing your credit score or any other number, and almost the entire apparatus of government is run by the popular but self-absorbed and useless kids in high school to their own personal benefit, the establishment has little to offer any of your grievances or interests. There isn’t much legitimacy to be found in that state of affairs, except in the counsel of absolute, heartfelt and unyielding deference to rulership, to the bitter end.

          You illustrated the stereotypical conservative’s impression of the essential malevolence of government quite well. Based on what the two-party system has done with the national treasure under “majority rule”, and particularly the condescending coalition-buying on the part of the Democratic Party, it’s understandable for them to place the blame on government in general if the only form they’ve known is the republican form, which has little to recommend it other than the questionable value of durability.

          All that said, I take issue with the description of simplicity as “childlike”: I counter with that society is needlessly complicated, and as a result divided against itself and unable to exercise a popular will without permission of its ruling caste. Very “democratic”, eh? There is no benefit to the citizen for a society to aspire to complexity for its own sake. If there were, it would have paid off by now, and no, your jesusphone doesn’t count.

          It’s my opinion that the republican form of government, as customarily unequipped with a robust popular veto, is in fact essentially malevolent and inherently right-wing right down to the problem statement, but republicanism is (thankfully) not the only solution to the collective action problem; and that The Republic should be treated as a public health hazard and object lesson on par with Mein Kampf. Hell, I’d have paid sixty minas to see Plato live out his years as a mute footstool. I imagine right-wing extremists wouldn’t agree; they might prefer relinquishing their agency to an oligarch, a monarch, or some other angry-god substitute or His anointed customer service “representative”, which might explain a lot about movement conservatism: it’s really an argument about whether the nobility is nominally responsible to a higher power.

          The argument should rightly be whether said nobility should even exist.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        “hate, or at least dislike”

        That’s an awfully broad spectrum, is it not? That’s what accounts for the “widespread opinion.”

        And no, it wouldn’t be more accurate, unless you can show that abolishing government services like Social Security, Medicare, public roads, and even (gawd help us) national defense commands broad support.

    1. Anon

      When the screws are put to you, you find a way. If that’s not American, then I don’t know what is. Also, what’s really galling is that neither article (moreso Politico than Bloomberg), no one talks of the feasibility of single payer, but the commenters seem to know what’s up.

      Gaming Obamacare

      Besides limiting the reasons individuals may sign up outside the typical window and tougher verification rules, health plans want the administration to shorten the 90-day grace period in which consumers with subsidized plans can continue to receive coverage. They note many people have figured out they need pay for only nine months to get a full year of coverage. An enrollee might buy an ACA policy, get their health needs addressed and then let their coverage lapse — without having to pay the penalty for being uninsured.

      I didn’t know that there was a grace period clause – so there is a way out after all!

  7. nigelk

    “A full 93 percent of U.S. counties have not fully recovered from the recession that hit most of America six years ago, according to the nonpartisan National Association of Counties” [WaPo]. Handy map of “the recovery” by county.

    Link does not work.

    1. edmondo

      You don’t need the link. Just overlay “The counties where Donald Trump is leading for the nomination.” It’s the same list.

  8. Pat

    I truly do believe that a great number of Democrats are as deluded as the Republicans regarding the overall chances of various candidates. Yes, just getting the nomination pretty much guarantees them 45 or so percent of the vote each. It is that next ten percent that is going to determine who is President. If they turnout the Democrats win, if they don’t it is going to be a toss up. Because it is a Presidential election they think Democrats will turn out. Because Clinton has gotten most admired woman in the world, they think that her negatives won’t count. Both of which are just as much assumptions as the following are. Could the sheer amount of crazy help Clinton if she gets the nomination – yes. Could the rabid anti-immigration stance help her – yes. Could the fact that half the country despises her and her husband hurt her – yes. Could the Democratic lack of enthusiasm do her campaign in – yes. Snow, rain, bad weather, active disenfranchisement, and sheer realization that Clinton could care less about most of the population could mean that Democrats will have the nail biter they never expected in 2016 if they nominate her.

    And frankly, if the press is willing to point out that she and her campaign are being ‘blatantly dishonest’ in a primary campaign with a Jewish Social Democrat, what do those optimistic fools think is going to happen when she lies in the general if they are stupid enough to nominate her?

    1. edmondo

      If she loses, they will blame Bernie for running against her in the primaries. Just like it was Nader’s fault that Gore lost.

      1. polecat

        I had a friend utter this exact same response to me when I told him I voted for Nader………called me (and I quote) a fuc%king spoiler! Well…..I maintain, to this day, that o’l Ralph would have been the far better choice, as would have Perot if he had been elected a few years before!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That Nader cost Gore election 2000 is an enduring Big Lie. 306,000 Florida Democrats voted for Bush. Democrats lost election 2000 for Gore. Nobody else.

          This Big Lie is an excellent litmus test for a Democratic loyalist or shill; never give your trust to anybody who propagates it.

          * * *

          There’s another approach, too:

          Democratic loyalist: “The left lost Florida for Gore.”

          You: “Yes, and give us what we want or we’ll do it to you again.”

  9. jgordon

    Regarding the state of the union, I was listening to the Alex Jones show last night (purely for entertainment; not to be taken seriously!) and Alex was doing a voice-over interpretation/clarification of the SOTU for his audience. I have to say, Alex’s voice-over was eminently reasonable and coherent, unlike the speech itself which was utterly nonsensical and delusional.

    Hah, when Alex Jones is making more sense than the president, America is in deep doodoo.

  10. Oregoncharles

    “Honey for the Bears” – what happens if there’s a recession during the campaign? Can’t be good for the Democrats, but the Republicans control Congress. Tossup?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If? Aren’t Sanders and Trump outward signs of economic outrage? A slump would only lead to more abandonment of legacy parties towards what would have been fringe candidates in 2008. Democrats and Republicans have only performed as well as they have recently because of fear of the other.

      Take Terry Mac in Virginia. MacAuliffe voters by a two to one margin said they only voted for MacAuliffe because the GOP candidate was basically Goering without the pilot’s license.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Good news for 3rd Parties, then. And/or a really lousy turnout.

        I hate benefiting from bad news, but it comes with the territory.

      2. Code Name D

        It depends on how sever the down-turn is. And all indications is that it will dwarf the “great recession” that took place in 2009. It’s looking increasingly likely that it will unravel before November. And probably 50/50 that it will take place before the convention.

        I do worry about Sanders. He spends a great deal of energy saluting Obama’s handling of the economy. He says, “Obama has saved the economy, but a lot of work needs to be done.” When the USS Economic Obama splits in half and starts sinking, I fear he will be trapped on the deck with the other neo-liberals.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I hate to deploy “He has to say that…” but these are Democratic primaries.

          Ironically, “Put the banksters in jail, like Obama never did” would be more popular in the general than in the primaries; I’m already seeing Clinton trolls deploy “ZOMG!!! He criticized our President, who took money from Wall Street too!”

  11. DanB

    re the Boing Boing excerpt about this book, “Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defence Of Growth, Progress, Industry And Stuff:” This is too important a topic to fully assess in a comment. However, a few remarks are in order. Why dismiss those who conclude the world is approaching the limits to growth as “Collapse porn addicts?” It’s just as easy to label this article, and the book it promotes, as instances of massive denial of the obvious ongoing contraction of the world economy as, simultaneously, the 1% commandeer more of this shrinking pie for themselves. Also, there’s no discussion of evidence in the article, just exhortations and rhetoric about why recognizing the end of growth amounts to wrong-headed class-based selfishness. Finally, degrowth is not a lifestyle choice, it’s a thermodynamically induced outcome of overshoot- nature’s way of making us slowdown. (I do not think Marx would be a techn-optimist in today’s world, but I concede that it is possible he might have been given his utopian eschatology).

    1. subgenius

      Yeah, I expected better from c.d. tbh.

      But he is so enamoured of the tech paradigm he falls into the “but there must be a way to have our cake and eat it”


    2. different clue

      I have to get back to work any minute, so for now all I can do is ask: what pesticides is it that organic agriculture uses “more” of than petroconventional agriculture? What studies does he referrence to indicate that petroconventional agriculture grows “more food” than organic agriculture? How does he demonstrate that GMO and nonGMO organisms are “non-different”?

      1. different clue

        Actually, does this guy even have a garden? Does he even have a yard? What books about gardening or farming or plants has he even read? Can he name them? Can he name the authors?
        Can he say which ones were his favorites? Can he even say what “organic agriculture” even “is”?

        Does he know a Phaseolus coccineus from a Vigna sesquipedalis? Does he know a Solanum tuberosum from an Ipomoea batatas? Does he even know his own Anus Rodentum from a hole in the ground?

        What a typical intellectual!

  12. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    On “not being afraid of terrorism”, yes. There’s a much higher chance of being killed by a falling audio-visual device (I suppose that means we need a new Department of Homeland Audio-Visual Device Security, with back doors into TV dealer’s websites so they can follow people who buy TVs to see if they securely fasten them to their walls, Guantanamo if they don’t).
    And oh, look, Juan Cole rolls up the Europol stats for 2014: Percentage of terror deaths caused by Muslim-related attacks = 1.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Wall Street is in a bit of a panic with Trump in ascendancy on the right and a Hillary implosion. A right wing third party run has no shot against Sanders, but the people backing that kind of candidacy are basically Republicans who watch the golf channel or Republicans who hate rednecks.

  13. Skippy


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    If you choose Confirm Later, we’ll ask again in exactly 7 days. Keep in mind that at that time you won’t be able to use your Facebook account until you can help us confirm your name.


    Skippy…. it must be getting really, really, really, unstuck out there as I use a handle and only use FB for economic portals and a bit of political commentary, which is on par with what goes on here at NC…. you can smell the, feel and see the paranoia… its palpable… interesting times…

    1. Skippy

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      Skippy… I think I pissed them off by using dogbox hairyballs as my name last go, after not being happy with my old handle… Wayward septic…. additionally it seems pro Bernie sorts are getting the treatment compared to others….

      1. OIFVet

        Seems they go after people after someone alerts them. In a rather ironic twist, that someone can remain anonymous…

      1. Skippy

        Now permanently locked on page which requests ID, can’t delete or deactivate account.

        Must be the less than hundred friends on account, like Mosler, Wray, Kelton, Scott F, Philip P, and a few academic sociopolitical sorts, et al, hanging out with radical deviants…. or the audacity to challenge the last 50ish years of social corruption of realpolitik with facts or the best approximation thereof… or linking NC to drive a point home. The response to the latter is expected from the right wing, but the increasing similarity wrt the DNC is getting a bit weird.

        It’s great to get responses to NC posts which are painstakingly unpacked and attributed with backhanded slurs of – “oh I don’t acknowledge blogs and opinion pieces” from main stream democrats… sigh…

        Anywho some on of late posted a bit of Sagen and I will post in entirety because it is the most accurate depiction of how I think –

        “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

        The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

        ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World : Science as a Candle in the Dark


        And add to that it must be a False consciousness thingy… i.e. is, within Marxist theory, an attempt to explain why all workers do not do what Marxist theory says they are supposed to do, viz., support a communist revolution.

        Flip the coin and you have –

        Some hard-right activists and libertarians of a conspiracy theorist bent have developed their own version of false consciousness, in which they claim that people only vote left-wing because they’ve been duped by the liberal media, public education system, and other institutions. Deep down these “left-wing” (which just means anything left of firmly right-wing) voters supposedly believe in right-wing values, they just don’t know it. When taken to an even greater extreme they may say liberals are just right-wingers in denial, or are vying for attention. A more mainstream version of this was pushed by Fox News and the GOP after the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, where they tried to say that people didn’t vote for Mitt Romney because of “messaging problems” as opposed to their platform itself being too extreme for the public.[2]

        Another right-wing version of this pops up every now and then to explain why minorities don’t vote Republican. The answer is that they’ve been fooled by the Democratic Party, who repress them through food stamps and welfare into not taking personal responsibility, never mind that the suggestion that minorities are too stupid to know what’s good for them is an argument that will help turn off minority voters.

        The libertarian version of this is to refer to people who didn’t vote for Ron Paul as “sheeple” on YouTube.

        It is the Marxist version of the Christian idea that “people only reject Christianity because they want to sin.”

        The fact that both the far right and far left like the theory goes to show it may just appeal to ideologues who need to explain away why most people don’t support their perfect ideology.

        Skippy…. it gets to be like the movie Cell… people trapped inside someone else delusion as delightful play things, tho when they want to leave… get all petty and large about it… I want out~~~~

      2. Virginia Simson

        I used the name Deoccupy Homelessness for years. I built up many links and had a file of graphics/photos to kill for. I had nearly 4000 “friends” and sometimes alot of fun.

        Someone started planting porno on me on twitter. Anonymous helped me remove it, so the $chill$/puppets moved on to my FB account. To rid myself of whatever “they” had planted, I reinstalled. POOF! Page is now gone. Years of work down the drain. Mostly anarchists, direct action folks and/or those opposed to zionISM. And yes, we have complained long and loud to FB becuz many of us are domestic violence victims and don’t want our names all over the place.

        Lesson: don’t let sockpuppets near you, ever. And they are legion.

        1. Skippy

          Yeah its a bit of a Scotts box where if you stay withing the conforming parameters its acceptable, tho if you stray out side for too long…. force will be brought to bare…

  14. Jimmt

    Re: the Oregon Bundy dicks. Isn’t this a good time for the authorities (pick one) to pick up old Cloven back home and ask him some questions until his boys come home? Seems like most of his gang is busy at the moment.

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