2:00PM Water Cooler 1/21/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The ability to make policy and to enforce it at the national level is essential to combat the slide towards plutocracy, under which society is controlled by the wealthiest citizens” [HuffPo]. Hmm. [Hums an old tune, The Internationale…]. Usefully, however, the article includes links to the following two studies:

“Who Has Benefited Financially from Investment Treaty Arbitration? An Evaluation of the Size and Wealth of Claimants” (PDF) [Gus Van Harten and Pavel Malysheuski, SSRN]. From the abstract:

We collected data on the size and wealth of the foreign investors that have brought claims and received compensation due to ISDS. Our main findings are that the beneficiaries of ISDS, in the aggregate, have overwhelmingly been companies with more than USD1 billion in annual revenue – especially extra-large companies with more than USD10 billion – and individuals with more than USD100 million in net wealth. ISDS has produced monetary benefits primarily for those companies or individuals at the expense of respondent states. Incidentally, we also found that extra-large companies’ success rates in ISDS, especially at the merits stage, exceeded by a large margin the success rates of other claimants. It was evident that ISDS has also delivered substantial monetary benefits for the ISDS legal industry.

“Investment Treaties and the Internal Vetting of Regulatory Proposals: A Case Study from Canada” [Gus Van Harten and Dayna Nadine Scott, SSRN].

“The TPP features a ban on the ability of member countries to establish restrictions on data transfers” [The Tyee]. “[Some] TPP countries appear to have … obtained additional privacy assurances from the U.S. For example, a TPP side letter between the U.S. and Australia features a U.S. promise to extend any privacy commitments in other trade agreements to Australia. Moreover, the same side letter promises to work to extend privacy protections to Australian data held by the U.S. government.” Wait, what? “Side letters”? Can we read them?

Latin American marches against TPP (map) [Participaccion].



“Unhappy Anniversary: How Anthony Kennedy Flooded Democracy With ‘Sewer Money'” [Joe Conason, National Memo]. I didn’t know Kennedy’s family history. Ugh.


“During his landmark Georgetown University address, Bernie did much more than explain the meaning of “democratic socialism.” Quoting both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bernie openly recognized that there can be no “liberty” without “economic security” — the very thing that has been denied to millions of Americans by an increasingly oppressive oligarchy. Our political revolution is the answer to a system that denies liberty to so many” [LA Progressive].

“Put Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare For All’ To The Test With This Online Healthcare Calculator” [Inquisitr (KatieBird)]. The calculator itself.

“Clinton-Sanders battle puts spotlight on Amtrak gun rules” [The Hill]. Presumably, there will be no gunz in the Quiet Car? I don’t care so much about checked luggage.

The Trail

“The G.O.P. establishment is at a disadvantage against outsiders across nearly every dimension of primary strength, even on the matters where the establishment usually has an edge, like fund-raising, media coverage and support from moderate voters in blue states” [New York Times]. “What’s even more remarkable is that the party’s weakness comes when it would seem to have tremendous incentives to coalesce behind a single mainstream option. Rarely, if ever, has a party faced such a credible threat from true outsiders, and yet the Republican establishment is both split and on the sidelines.”

“GOP Strategist: Trump Supporters Are ‘Single Men Who Masturbate To Anime'” [Reuters]. Truly the party of stupid: Real single men masturbate to hentai, not anime [ducks, as Japan experts in the readership start throwing objects]. Seriously, though…. That’s what the Republican establishment thinks of their base, and they’re refreshingly open about it, aren’t they? The Democratic establishment would want to have a “conversation,” but the hate is the same.

“Palin Links Son’s Arrest to PTSD, Obama Policies” [military.com]. “She went on to criticize the GOP establishment as well as Obama’s foreign policies.” Ya know, if I were living in a flyover state in a town where the mill closed, and the only jobs were at Hefty Mart, and the only exit was the military, and my child went to Iraq or Afghanistan and came back maimed and broken — and here comes the truth that must never be spoken and perhaps has never been said — from a war the Beltway elites lost, I’d be mightily pissed off at the Republican establishment and Obama too. And I would have every right to be.

“But looking through Palin’s words, there’s sometimes more to her teleprompter-free, shoot-from-the-hip speaking style than meets the ear” [Independent Journal]. “[On paper, her speech] resembles chiasmus, a Hebrew form of parallelism where phrases are repeated in an a-b-b-a pattern.” With examples. The important point is that many parts of America hear that style of phrase-making from the pulpit every Sunday morning.

“Limbaugh explained, the ‘glue’ sticking conservatives together is ‘virulent opposition to the left and the Democrat Party and Barack Obama. And I, for the life of me, don’t know what’s so hard to understand about that” [Politico]. Atrios has been saying the same thing in different words for years. What’s interesting is that “conservative” “glue” is a lot like “‘progressive'” “glue,'” only compounded out of different class and cultural markers.

Trump on Cruz: “He said with him being a Canadian citizen, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ How did he not know that? Then he said with the loans, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ Smart guy. He doesn’t know that? Yeah, that’s worse than Hillary, when you think about it” [Politico]. Well-crafted!

“Bill Clinton, according to a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation, has been phoning campaign manager Robby Mook almost daily to express concerns about the campaign’s organization in the March voting states, which includes delegate bonanzas in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Texas” [Politico]. In other words, the Big Dog doesn’t believe in the South Caroline “firewall” any more than I do — or Bernie does, since he’s got the financial muscle from small contributors to keep going ’til the convention (especially if the Clintons keep helping him fundraise by smearing him).

I seem to have repressed the fact thast Clinton supported debunked conservative abstinence programs:

“Should the Largest LGBT Organization Really Have Endorsed Hillary Clinton?” [Teen Vogue].

“Behind Lena Dunham’s Hillary Clinton Campaign Looks: How a New Generation Is Reinventing Political Style” [Vogue].

Before speaking with Iowan HRC supporters over a four-day stop, the Girls creator and actress and her stylist, Shirley Kurata, began devising customized ‘Hillary’ monogrammed frocks and knits from a network of knitwear designers. Inspired by vintage silhouettes, centuries-old campaign paraphernalia, and, of course, the pantsuit savant herself, Kurata tells us how the patriotic looks all came together. And with the election just heating up, there is no telling what’s up Dunham’s ‘Hillary’-emblazoned sleeve next.

I’m no fashionista, but I’d rate this look close, but no cigar. Then again: “I’m With the Headband: An ’80s Accessory Favorite Makes a Chic Comeback” [Vogue].

“PolitiFact is calling out Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her claim that her party’s presidential debate schedule was designed to “maximize the opportunity for voters to see our candidates” [The Hill]. “The fact-checking website on Wednesday rated Wasserman Schultz’s statements ‘false,’ calling her defenses ‘very disingenuous.'” Wait, what? That’s the DNC chair you’re talking about! Srsly?

“Clinton’s Bizarre Attack on Her Husband’s 1992 Credentials to Be Elected Commander in Chief” [Angry Bear]. “This is someone whose husband was elected president in 1992 with government experience only as governor of Arkansas, against a sitting president who also attended military funerals, in his capacity as Commander in Chief, and who was a former CIA chief.”

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of January 16, 2016: “Jobless claims may have already hit their lows, at least that’s the emerging trend for initial claims which posted a sizable 10,000 rise in the January 16 week to a much higher-than-expected 293,000. This is the highest reading since July” [Econoday]. “But continuing claims aren’t yet confirming any slowing in the jobs market.” But: “The four week rolling average of initial claims are 4.4 % lower (degradation from the 4.8 % for last week) than they were in this same week in 2015” [Econintersect]. And: “Possible bottom and now moving higher” [Mosler Economics].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, January 2016: “The factory sector continues to slow this month though, in good news, the rate of contraction is flattening out” [Econoday]. “And this is the clear theme from this report, that the factory sector may be beginning to level out following a very flat 2015.” Huh? How is “level out” different from already “flat” This is “clear”? And: In “contraction,” but “noisy” and “sentiment-based” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 17, 2016: “Losses in the stock market aren’t yet depressing the consumer” [Econoday].

Shipping: Rail contraction continues (with coal and grain backed out) [Econintersect].

Swaps: “This year has been had for rockers in their 60s, anyone with assets in the ground or in the stock market or those who believed the Fed would be initiating a series of rate hikes in 2016” [Across the Curve]. Followed by verbiage so arcane I hesitate to quote it. Readers?

“Last year was the most profitable ever for short sellers, by one measure. And 2016 is starting off even better for bears” [Bloomberg].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 17, Extreme Fear (previous close: 9) [CNN]. One week ago: 17 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Health Care

“[UnitedHealthCare Group, the nation’s largest insurer] lost $720 million on the newly established ObamaCare exchanges last year, according to a much-anticipated earnings report released Tuesday. About one-third of those losses are due to ‘advance recognition’ of 2016 losses, the company said” [The Hill]. “‘By mid-2016 we will determine to what extent, if any, we will continue to offer products in the exchange market in 2017, [CFO David] Wichmann said during a conference call with investors.”

Police State Watch

From the Police Use of Force project.


“Snyder Concedes Flint is His “Katrina,” a Failure of Leadership” [National Journal]. And as a first step…

“Governor’s Emails Show Debate Over Blame for Flint Water” [AP]. Note the phrase “emergency manager” doesn’t appear in the story. Here’s a link to the emails.

“It was only after Flint residents organized their own campaign—attracting experts and activists and national media—that the state acknowledged the scale of the problem” [The New Yorker]. Interesting comparison to Charleston, West Virginia, when Freedom Industries (love the name) polluted the Elk River with ten thousand gallons of PPH and MCHM a mile upstream from the largest water-treatment plant in West Virginia. So, I’m long bottled water.

“Tonko: Water main break symptom of national problem” [Troy Record]. Water mains are so 19th Century. Idea: Have Amazon deliver bottled water with their new drones! All we have to do is dedicate 200 vertical feet of airspace to them, over the entire continent. Problem solved!

“Concerned citizens pack Hoosick Falls water hearing” [Albany Times-Union]. “Residents in this factory village packed the high school Thursday night to learn more about a dangerous chemical that contaminated their water system and stoked fears about whether it’s caused what many believe is a high rate of unusual and aggressive forms of cancer.”

“City: Carlyle, Mountain Water officials should appear in court to discuss sale ” [Missoulian (diptherio)]. Carylle sold the water company to a Canadian firm, Liberty Utilities of Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. “The only reasonable inference from Algonquin/Liberty’s glaring disregard of the Montana legal system is that they plan to pillage Mountain Water assets, including cash assets, with intent to defraud the city,” read the brief. “Thus, injunctive relief is appropriate.” (Whenever you see a company with “Freedom” or “Liberty” in their name, put your hand on your wallet, or clutch your purse.)


“Almost every group [in canine genetics] has a different origination hypothesis” [New York Times]. “[M]any researchers find it much more plausible that dogs, in effect, invented themselves.”

“Wärtsilä To Design World’s Biggest Krill Fishing Factory Vessel for Antarctic Waters” [gCaptain (guurst)]. What could go wrong?

Guillotine Watch

“How the Kochs Tried (and Failed) to Discredit Reporter Jane Mayer After She Exposed their Empire” [Democracy Now!].

Class Warfare

“Bank Leader Sounds Warning: Culture Message Isn’t Filtering Down” [Bloomberg]. Since none of the crooks in charge were jailed? Could that be it? (And note the proliferation of the word “leader,” which dissolves all functional distinctions between offices, as we saw in the Times’s Davos coverage.)

“Disturbing images of the mold, mushrooms, and bullet holes in Detroit’s schools that led to teachers’ massive ‘sickout'” [Business Insider]. Neoliberal privatization end game.

“Why George Ingle Finch, an Australian climber from the 1920s, deserves to be far better known than he is” [The Economist, “Onwards and upwards”].

“”Trump is right now busy chasing the Mexicans,” T.K. Kurien, the chief executive officer of Indian information-technology services firm Wipro Ltd., said in an interview at the Swiss mountain resort, where the World Economic Forum meets this week. ‘But after he finishes with the Mexican story, I am pretty sure he’ll train his guns on us'” [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

“Linux Foundation quietly drops community representation” [Matthew Garrett]

“UK Government Voice Encryption Standard Built for Key Escrow, Surveillance” [On the Wire].

“Weibo Shows Us What a 10,000-Character Twitter Might Look Like” [New York Magazine].

Hold my beer while I tweet this number:

The 10K character limit will help a little. But not much!

“While stories such as Beauty and the Beast and Rumplestiltskin were first written down in the 17th and 18th century, the researchers found they originated ‘significantly earlier.’ ‘Both tales can be securely traced back to the emergence of the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2,500 and 6,000 years ago,’ they write” [Guardian]. “Analysis showed Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when eastern and western Indo-European languages split – more than 5,000 years ago. Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old. A folk tale called The Smith and the Devil was estimated to date back 6,000 years to the bronze age.”

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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 (PP):


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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 obstreperous 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. craazyman

    since numbers are infinite you’d think primes would be infinite. Unless there was some notion that beyond a certain point every number was so large it had to be divisible by at least one other number. But why would that be, since numerical size is “distance from zero” and that’s only a relative concept in the scope of infinity? In the scope of infinity, there’s really no relative difference between 5 and 5 million. It doesn’t make intuitive sense that prime numbers would end. And so there should be no limit to how large one could be. Of course, I could be completely wrong and somebody who’s a number theorist would know. I’m certainly not a number theorist. If I need a number, I make it up, theory be damned. LOL

    1. Tom Allen

      There are in fact an infinite number of primes, as Euclid showed more than two millennia ago. That prime in the news is just the largest one yet discovered.

      Basically: if there were only a finite number of prime numbers, you could multiply them all together, then add 1 (so that none of the prime numbers on your list will divide into your result.) Then either that number is prime (which means your list is incomplete) or it can be factored into two or more primes (like every non-prime number can — though with very large numbers, this is much easier said than done). But none of those prime factors is on your list (since you deliberately constructed your number so that no known prime could divide into it) and once again you’ve shown your list is incomplete. Therefore you can never have a complete, finite list of prime numbers.

      I’d disagree that there’s no relative difference between 5 and 5 million, by the way. Of the numbers 1 through five, 60% are prime (namely 2, 3 and 5). But 60% of the numbers 1 through 5,000,000 are certainly not prime. On average, the larger your numbers get, the less chance you have that they’re prime. (Primes become “sparse”.) But you’re right, that chance never goes to zero.

      1. craazyman

        what if the number got so big there wasn’t enough room in the universe to write it down?

        even if you wrote really really small. Oh man, that would be bad. I guess you could say “This number is a very large prime number but we can’t write it down because the universe isn’t wide enough , even if we write all the numbers really really small.”

        I don’t know if anybody would believe you. That could be heartbreaking.

        hmmm. that’s a deep thought to contemplate

        1. Tom Allen

          Though it’s not a prime number, a “googol” is 10^100, or 1 followed by 100 zeros. That’s easy enough to write down. But a “googolplex” is 10^(10^100), or 1 followed by a googol zeroes. To write out a googolplex like that — the entire googol of zeros, not the shorthand exponent — would require more space than exists in the known universe, and take more time than the age of the universe. And there must exist prime numbers larger than a googolplex, so….

            1. Tom Allen

              Sadly, no. There’s an abstract algebraic reason why, in general, it wouldn’t be. And a mathematician named Robert Harley has computed some of the specific factors.

          1. Jagger

            the entire googol of zeros, not the shorthand exponent — would require more space than exists in the known universe, and take more time than the age of the universe.

            Are we tiptoeing towards the concept of infinity?????……

          2. different clue

            How about a googoogolplexplex? How big would that be? How about a googoogolplexplex to the googoogolplexplexth power?

    2. craazyboy

      But the challenge is in identifying the prime number – which is why we need mathematicians and supercomputers.

    3. Ed Seedhouse

      Er, that there are an infinity of primes was proved centuries ago and the proof is so simple that even I can understand it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There are also infinite number of twin primes.

        I think of prime numbers as unique individual numbers, without components of other numbers, except one (the only one son)

        And one, zero and infinity are related as follows:

        Infinity (the boundless) is one (the son) divided by zero (nothing, or ghost).

        That is,

        Infinity = 1/0.

        In any case, each prime number corresponds to the unique part of one’s soul.

        And one’s twin prime is that one soul that is closest to our soul (for example, 5 & 7).

        No two primes can go closer than 2.

        1. cheeky

          Interestingly enough, if you look at semiprimes, that is, numbers that are only divisble by two(not necessarily distinct) prime numbers, they tend to occur in groups of two or three. Figure that one out.

      2. craazyman

        I’m a little behind on math news! But I’m catching up. Recently I heard that some dude named Pythagoras is messing around with triangles. He claims he has a way of relating the length of the longest side to the two shorter sides if one angle is 90. I’m not sure if he’s kdding or what. I’ll believe it when I see it.

          1. craazyman

            wow. why would somebody do that in the first place? it seems like a lot of work.

            I guess he didn’t have Youtube.

              1. ambrit

                I think that Pythagoras cat was way cool. I mean, he dug some really celestial music, man, like spherical.

      1. craazyman

        well. as long as time is infinite, it’s no problem if they’r’e hard to find. No need to rush!

        Even if you found one every 1000 years, there’s still plenty of time to find them all.

    4. hunkerdown

      Those right-wingers hanging unflattering number theories on Hillary’s campaign…

      Primes don’t end any more than numbers do; primes just become more sparse as you get further from zero. Oddly enough, this is known as the “prime number theorem”, and just how sparse can in fact be quantified.

  2. Anon

    I ran some preliminary numbers and it looks like even with the sample numbers I put in, both my employer and myself save money. The more I read the news, the more optimistic I get about Bernie’s chances.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Between the Obamacare exchanges going into a slow death-spiral and most employers pushing hard towards high-deductible plans, I think there are fewer and fewer people who are happy with their health insurance and fewer who are afraid of doing something genuinely different. If Bernie didn’t push the health care issue now, it would inevitably pop up again in the next election cycle…and the next….

      Didn’t Churchill says that America does the right thing after exhausting all other options? We’re running out of options….

    2. edmondo

      I have never, ever understood why corporations – large and small – are not pushing for Medicare-for-all. Their savings on premiums would be enormous – and the care would be better.

      1. James Levy

        My guess on that has always been that they don’t want the government seen as being capable of making real, positive changes in the lives of people for fear of the precedent. They’d rather muddle through with the current nightmare than open, from their perspective, Pandora’s Box.

      2. Synoia

        Because it would confirm once-and-for-all that the private sector cannot solve problems, and the public sector can.

        What would be next – building defense equipment under the management of the DoD?

      3. Xenophon

        It would increase labor mobility. How many people stay in crappy jobs just to keep their insurance? What the actual cost trade-offs are between no premiums on the one hand and labor churn on the other, I don’t know. But I’ve always suspected this is part of the objection to more flexible health care.

      4. hunkerdown

        One managing partner at an accounting and wealth management firm told me he liked to be able to give such gifts to his employees. In other words, employers need to be able to really mess up their employees’ life to keep them subordinate.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          This reminds me of the restaurant that abolished tipping. The people who derived real gratification from controlling their server got really outraged. I forget the size of that population; less than 1/3, I think.

          1. RMO

            Did they also bring the pay of the employees up to a decent level when they abolished tipping? If so it would be fine with me. From my experience the people who use tipping like it’s punishment never tip worth a damn anyways.

            1. Montanamaven

              Yes, they raised their pay with slight increase in prices. And I would love to read that story again. I quote it often. Think it was Seattle.

      5. Cynthia

        I think corporations would push for Medicare-for-all as long as it’s totally privatized. Private insurers are probably better than the government at controlling insurance fraud, but they are probably worse than the government at controlling healthcare costs that doesn’t compromise the amount of care and quality of care delivered.

        This problem can easily be solved by putting very strict limits on how much insurers can skim off the top for themselves. But health insurers have traditionally been such a profitable industry for Wall-Street investors as well as top-tier executives that they would rather completely exit the market than exist as an industry whose profits have been cut to a bare minimum.

        Our healthcare system should have never been designed from the beginning to create such outrageous profits for insurers as well as providers. And ObamaCare should have never been designed to do absolutely nothing to reduce all these outrageous profits. Their profits are not just outrageous, they are outrageously offensive, given that most of these profits are being made on the backs of taxpayers, most of whom are hard-working folks struggling to make ends meet.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Hmm. Maybe governments are better at controlling some sorts of fraud, and private industry is better at others? I seem to remember a ginormous case of fraud by a Florida governor….

          1. RMO

            What would “privatized” medicare for all be? How would it be different from the impoverishing, misery-inducing mess that the U.S. suffers under now?

            1. kimsarah

              The fat insurance companies and pharmaceuticals would actually have to start acting like responsible, lean businesses in order to turn a profit if they had to compete against the government’s Medicare for all.
              Health care should be simple, affordable and accessible to all of us — unlike the system we’ve got now which is confusing, more and more expensive, and one that rewards cutting corners for bigger profits.

        2. Adam Eran

          Yeah, Government has much more corruption than private industry (please ignore Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, Credit Mobilier, etc. etc. etc.)… Nope. You just read about it more often. This is why the “sunshine” laws exist–to disempower government. You had to wait until the bankruptcy hearing to read the minutes of Enron’s board meetings.

          …and in fairness, I understand the Swiss regulate health insurance as you suggest and do so successfully. Basic coverage must be non-profit; add-on’s (you know, undercoating) is where Swiss insurers make their profit.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            To be fair, most people don’t think they own many of the big corporations.

            They don’t, in reality as well.

            They think, however, they own the government…at least are the masters of the government of the people, for the people and by the people.

            Furthermore, they erroneously believe their taxes fund the government.

            Combining the two, people insist on opinionating and on grading the government’s work.

            “You don’t pay me for my work. So, get off my back. I may be your (collective you) servant. John Q. Public, but you don’t pay and, for sure, you don’t own me after the emancipation. Why do I work for you? Out of the kindness of my heart.”

            Somebody else is paying you to work for me. That someone is not paid by me either. A kind stranger.

      6. different clue

        Social OverClass sadism. They would happily give up half of what they have if they could be sure that everyone else would lose both halves of what everyone else has.

    1. Clive

      I think you probably meant to say 私たちは Lambert-さんが 大好きです。But I’m sure we all echo the sentiments!

  3. cm

    Cruz has had difficulty disclosing his finances in the past

    From the article:
    Cruz says he failed to include the promissory note among his assets on his first financial disclosure in July 2012 when he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate because he had forgotten about it. “In 2011, there was an inadvertent omission of this promissory note, and after a conversation with my college roommate I remembered it,” Cruz says. Cruz’s initial filing was made in the heat of his campaign. He was fined $200 for filing the document late.

    On his financial disclosure form for the year 2012, filed in May this year, Cruz listed the promissory note and said he received no income from it or the company. Cruz identified the note as a non-publicly traded asset among other holdings, which he listed by their ticker symbols. Cruz said the asset was a “Promissory Note from CEP investments holdings LTD.” Caribbean Equity Partners has no connection to Constellation Energy Partners, the American company with the ticker symbol CEP.

    Cruz then received an inquiry from the Senate ethics committee staff about the listing, Cruz and his staff told TIME. The ethics staff told Cruz to amend his filing to indicate the nature of the promissory note, the entity that had issued it, the city in which the entity was located and the date the note had been issued.

    Cruz did so in his Oct. 1 amendment, but that filing also contained errors, misnaming the holding company, incorrectly saying it was domiciled in Jamaica, and giving the wrong date for the promissory note.

  4. ambrit

    That “vertical tracking technique” is I believe what is called elsewhere “Three Point Shooting.” The aim (NPI) of this technique is to kill or incapacitate. The English police used to have to pass a rigourous handgun training course and be able to account for every shot they fired in the line of duty. Not all police were given firearms. A good local cop, it was argued, wouldn’t need one. Besides, those truncheons, ye gods.

    1. James Levy

      When I lived in Wales back in the late 1990s Welsh cops in Swansea still did not carry firearms. This did not make me or the locals feel unsafe. In fact, it made the presence of police reassuring and not threatening or intimidating.

    2. tejanojim

      I’m not sure I understand the objection. When a cop fires his/her gun at someone, it should be because their life or someone else’s life is in imminent danger. If so, you shoot for the easy target that most likely incapacitates quickly i.e. the center of mass. Guns don’t have a stun setting. If cops are shooting people that don’t need to be shot (as they pretty clearly are), that’s a different matter.

      1. ambrit

        “imminent danger” There you have it. English cops have to account for their shots, with some degree of precision. The idea, I am guessing, is to restrict shootings. What is the American practice? Due to general laxity, American cops are being made to wear cameras. The inference is that American cops are trigger happy as a group. Being the “Old Timer” in a bunch of gunned up youngsters today must be a real task.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          We might also remember that prejudice actually does change perception; many people will see black people, and (of course) especially black men, and (of course, of course) especially young black men as much physically larger than they really are. I remember reading Darren Wilson’s description of Mike Brown before he (Wilson) whacked him (Brown), and thinking he might as well have called Brown a “young buck” or “Mandingo.”

          So by making fear (“imminent danger”) the justification for cops whacking people, we’ve actually legalized (a certain amount of) racist killing. So awesome.

  5. MayDaze

    “City: Carlyle, Mountain Water officials should appear in court to discuss sale ”

    . . .Carlyle sold the water utility to the subsidiary of a Canadian company despite the order from Missoula County District Court saying the city of Missoula has the right to buy it.

    Appears the city was in the process of condemnation and had determined the value of the property:

    In June, Missoula County District Court ruled that the city has the right to use its power of eminent domain to buy Mountain Water. The defendants’ appeal is pending before the Montana Supreme Court, and the District Court is in the midst of determining the remaining fees the city will pay.

    In a court proceeding, water commissioners determined the value of the company itself at $88.6 million.

    So at this point, couldn’t ISDS (through NAFTA) be used to block the condemnation proceedings, or at the least, make the sales price “negotiable”?

    1. diptherio

      For our sakes I hope not. It’d be pretty depressing if Carlyle got away with just flipping the bird to our whole legal system…depressing, but not surprising.

  6. craazyboy

    “”Trump is right now busy chasing the Mexicans,” T.K. Kurien, the chief executive officer of Indian information-technology services firm Wipro Ltd., said in an interview at the Swiss mountain resort, where the World Economic Forum meets this week. ‘But after he finishes with the Mexican story, I am pretty sure he’ll train his guns on us’” [Bloomberg].

    Point of information.
    Wipro is Indian Indian, not American Indian.

    1. edmondo

      You mean that place on the other side of the world that I have to call every time my cable goes out?

      1. SufferinSuccotash

        Yeah, and here’s their Communist Manifesto (they’ll be jamming Sharia Law down our throats next)!

        Text of the Massachusetts General School Law of 1647

        It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of tongues, that so that at least the true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded and corrupted with love and false glosses of saint-seeming deceivers; and to the end that learning may not be buried in the grave of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors.

        It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty households shall forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general, by way of supply, as the major part of those that order the prudentials of the town shall appoint; provided those that send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have them taught for in other towns.

        And it is further ordered, that when any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families or householders, they shall set up a grammar school, the master thereof being able to instruct youth so far as they may be fitted for the university, provided that if any town neglect the performance hereof above one year that every such town shall pay 5 pounds to the next school till they shall perform this order.

    1. hunkerdown

      Never mind nation of birth, is someone whose daddy carts him around on the pageant circuit even functionally of age?

  7. Carolinian

    NYT dog article:

    Raymond Coppinger, a professor emeritus of biology at Hampshire College, noted in his landmark 2001 book, “Dogs,” that “best friend” is not an “ecological definition.” And he suggested that “the domestic house dog may have evolved into a parasite.”

    Them’s fightin words. After all how many times did Lassie rescue Jeff?

    1. RMO

      That’s quite an insight for a landmark publication. Ranks right up there with evolution by natural selection, the laws of motion, thermodynamics, quantum theory… I’m glad they have hard thinkin’ people like that ensconced in the ivory tower while many best of the professors I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from have to scrape by, teaching multiple classes at multiple schools and have no job security whatsoever.

  8. Synoia

    The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when eastern and western Indo-European languages split – more than 5,000 years ago. Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.

    Disney had better get back to work on its Copyright lifetimes. We all know Walt Disney was born in 4003 BC, directly after the creation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What I wondered is what happens if those narratives are no longer being created (because of Instagram or Facebook or whatever). I know that’s a chin-stroking “kids these days” narrative, but still….

  9. Oregoncharles


    News only because it’s a “top story” on Google News. Coverage!

  10. ProNewerDeal

    I feel as though the term “socialist” is meaningless, that it better to specify a more specific term, such as
    1 Scandinavian-style Social Democrats, including Bernie Sanders
    2 #1 but additionally give preference worker-owned cooperatives over for-profit business
    3 1930s? Spain anarchist syndicalist
    4 Soviet-style communism

    I can’t think of a case where it is actually useful & descriptive to use the generic term socialism. A portion of US Republicans/Faux News types may be willfully ignorant in labeling anything to the left of fascism as “socialism”.

    PS what are the differences, if any, between Scandinavian-style Social Democracy, & Latin American-style “Socialism in the 21st Century”? My cynical side wonders if this is a case of, when a Gov headed by White leaders use the profits of the state oil company to fund education & health care for citizens, that is Social Democracy; but when a Gov headed by leaders of partial or majority Native American &/or Black ancestry (Chavez, Morales, etc) do the same policy, they are Communist Dictator Evil Boogey Men Du Jour TM.

    1. jrs

      I think it’s also about whether they also do the U.S. bidding, which the Scandinavian countries probably will, when it comes to military/intelligence policy and the Latin American probably countries won’t. Sweden for instance has been involved in U.S. pushed extraordinary rendition.

      I think you need to get to at least #2 to really achieve anything stable, otherwise capitalism pushes back.

      1. makedoanmend

        Er. no. Nazis hated socialists and commies. But Hitler liked to obfusticate, and he needed some of the auld workers to vote for his party. Hence socialism nomenclature attached.
        But, but, but they liked to Brand. Brands are bendable & malleable – “Brands are our flexible friend” (Circle C)

        Now. Stalin, Mao & Pol Pot all originated from socialist lineage. Shows how the ideal becomes the nightmare. Yet fairly benevolent Scandanvian democratic socialism is giving way to neo-liberalism. Is there some vector between dictatorship and capitulation? Some freedoms in congregation?

        The US had a pragmatist in Ben Franklin, hardly a socialist, but he thought that the commons of ideas and social interaction could be economically useful and beneficial for everyone in the long run. Being a scientist, philosopher (same thing to my weedle mind) and an altogether grooped dude, he practiced what he preached and set up such modern day horrors as lending libraries and so on. No brand needed. Refuge in a mad(dening) world. Priceless.

        Dial me back scotty.

  11. Ed Miller

    After scanning the replies I can’t believe nobody noticed that “prime” number ends in 8. Not so prime!

  12. fresno dan

    “GOP Strategist: Trump Supporters Are ‘Single Men Who Masturbate To Anime’” [Reuters]. Truly the party of stupid: Real single men masturbate to hentai, not anime [ducks, as Japan experts in the readership start throwing objects]. Seriously, though…. That’s what the Republican establishment thinks of their base, and they’re refreshingly open about it, aren’t they? The Democratic establishment would want to have a “conversation,” but the hate is the same.

    They say that, as if it were a bad thing…

    “That’s what the Republican establishment thinks of their base, and they’re refreshingly open about it, aren’t they?”
    Well, they may think they’re insulting me, but at my age, I view my wanking mastery as a mark of distinction….a feat of great prowess, and if you haven’t watched Japanese lesbian massage porn, you don’t know what good porn is…

    1. geoff

      I always figured that hentai fanboys would more likely be Rand (or better, his daddy Ron) Paul supporters. Y’know, rugged individualists…

      1. hunkerdown

        What would Liberty Lobby types want with Japanese culture? Tentacles are socialist!

        (There’s a joke to be found about Lindsey Graham and yaoi, but I can’t seem to pull it together.)

    2. jrs

      Well I guess it’s what they think of the part of the base that supports Trump. But many of their base are probably married. It does speak to the Republican establishment being @ssholes, whose wives I dearly pity.

  13. fresno dan

    “Palin Links Son’s Arrest to PTSD, Obama Policies” [military.com]. “She went on to criticize the GOP establishment as well as Obama’s foreign policies.” Ya know, if I were living in a flyover state in a town where the mill closed, and the only jobs were at Hefty Mart, and the only exit was the military, and my child went to Iraq or Afghanistan and came back maimed and broken — and here comes the truth that must never be spoken and perhaps has never been said — from a war the Beltway elites lost, I’d be mightily pissed off at the Republican establishment and Obama too. And I would have every right to be

    Well, Palin goes part way – who knows, maybe if the next “war” (AKA police action, humanitarian intervention, etc., etc.) is unambiguously initiated by a dem, she will actually find it within herself to state that we shouldn’t be getting involved in all these wars unless we are directly attacked (by a COUNTRY’s real military). Maybe in her 60’s, she will come to realize that after 30 or 40 years, we still haven’t won because it is UNWINNABLE – that it is just a fortune squandered, lives lost, and no greater safety than if the boondoggle had not occurred.
    But I am glad for the progress – that it is finally dawning on some that the “establishment” is not your friend…

          1. optimader

            delightful political appearance of Palin-Trump
            “I’m with stupid!”(–both pointing at each other)

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              But they’re not (or not in a way that’s out of the ordinary). I really think somebody needs to put a stake in the heart of that “progressive” trope. It’s not especially true (think of the ObamaCare defenses), and it’s also demeaning.

              1. ekstase

                I guess I would fault them on intellectual incuriousity and laziness. When you have the means to really learn about the world and you don’t – and you use your assets to acquire more and to belittle people who ask real questions and genuinely try to think – that genuinely damages civilization. It’s the use of words to pretend to be moral that is offensive.

  14. bob

    “Tonko: Water main break symptom of national problem”

    Bottled water eh? That break shut down a “vermont pure” bottling facility.

    Pure vermont– From Troy!

  15. fresno dan

    “Limbaugh explained, the ‘glue’ sticking conservatives together is ‘virulent opposition to the left and the Democrat Party and Barack Obama. And I, for the life of me, don’t know what’s so hard to understand about that” [Politico]. Atrios has been saying the same thing in different words for years. What’s interesting is that “conservative” “glue” is a lot like “‘progressive’” “glue,’” only compounded out of different class and cultural markers.
    “Donald Trump’s decision to accept an endorsement from the likes of Sarah Palin underscores how the “Washington establishment” overestimated the extent to which conservatism is motivated by ideology, rather than attitude, Rush Limbaugh opined during a recent segment on his radio show.”
    I think that is exactly right. The GOP base certainly is a big believer in medicare and social security. When they are mocked for saying “keep your paws off my medicare” it shows a profound lack of understanding of their motivations and concerns. These are the people who bleed for the country – privatizing veterans’ hospitals is something they do not believe in, nor in veterans having “skin in the game.”
    And I think what it reveals is the extent that ideology can blind one to reality, and self deception can fuel the idea that the market has powers and abilities it clearly does not have. Sports offers the best analogy of the competition – but NO ONE would think that a game without the refs would be better.
    The problem with Davos man may be that a good portion is evil, but I think it is more likely that they are self deluded and that group think can convince people of the most absurd propositions….

    1. hunkerdown

      Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment (The Archdruid Report). I love this piece, not because I agree with or desire the outcome he predicts, but for anatomizing the American class system along the lines of how one receives the bulk of one’s income (investment, salary, wage, welfare), and for clearly identifying the dys-/functional interests and forces interplaying between them that he expects will carry ur-Fascist Trump to the Presidency.

      Remarkably, he calls out the “left”‘s “Red team are stupid” trope as looking an awful lot like bourgeois classism masked by the pretextual conceit that the USA is a classless society. Amen.

      1. Carolinian

        Druid–I found much of this to be dubious and particularly the notion that salaried (middle?) class chintziness is the reason for the downfall of the wage class. We do live in a capitalist system and the investment class are the ones in the drivers seat. The claim that the bourgeoisie are the ones controlling events doesn’t have much historical grounding.

        That said, Trump could win just as George W. Bush could win and the belief that Sanders would obviously prevail may be wishful thinking. We’ll just have to see whether this time the left will stop sneering start acting more like a political movement.

        1. Ann

          Agreed that the investment class is in the driver’s seat, generally speaking. In my mind, when he was talking about the salaried class benefiting from the decimation of wage work, he was talking about the sort of people who line up to buy every new iPhone on the day of release without any consideration of the Chinese slave labor issue. Another example might be the white collar manager who enables the offshoring of IT jobs but hangs onto his own privileges and collects a bonus into the bargain. For people like these, formerly respected lines of work have become something to sneer at.

  16. DJG

    Guns in checked bags on Amtrak? I’ve taken the train all over the U.S. of A., and I don’t recall see many bags being checked. That’s the point of the train. In the sleeper car, most people kept their bags in their berths or in the common hold (which was open).

    So where are these mythical checked bags?

    1. Freda Miller

      I have checked bags on Amtrak. Checked bags mean that you don’t have to mind them in the interim if your journey requires changing trains, just pick them up at the destination. Also relieves worry about theft from the communal storage.

  17. allan

    Disappearance of Bolivia’s No. 2 lake a harbinger

    Overturned fishing skiffs lie abandoned on the shores of what was Bolivia’s second-largest lake. Beetles dine on bird carcasses and gulls fight for scraps under a glaring sun in what marshes remain.

    Lake Poopo was officially declared evaporated last month. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have lost their livelihoods and gone.

    High on Bolivia’s semi-arid Andean plains at 3,700 meters (more than 12,000 feet) and long subject to climatic whims, the shallow saline lake has essentially dried up before only to rebound to twice the area of Los Angeles.

    But recovery may no longer be possible, scientists say.

    But it’s going to snow in D.C. tomorrow so la-la-la I can’t hear you.

    1. vidimi

      yeah, read this story earlier on the guardian. what a disaster. just like the conflict in syria was precipitated by climate-migration from the countryside to the cities, this may have a similar effect. the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

  18. ekstase

    On the “Vogue” pieces. Fashion is fascinating and can be a profound language. Just ask any hipster denizen of New York. It can be high art for everyone. But when it is this: “I also wanted to keep the patriotic flair by doing some looks in red, white, and blue,” instead of a communication tool and a celebration of life, it suddenly becomes dead, plastic, fake stuff. Why not just be real?

    1. ambrit

      I seem to remember some wit intoning the refrain, “s/he was a real fake.”
      Suzy Creamcheese does Caio Manhatten? I don’t think I can Howl enough.

    2. JaaaaayCeeeee

      We have to get someone, like that group Patriotic Millionaires, who sponsored Warren and Piketty at Boston’s Old South Meeting house in 2014, to fund some design of better swag than Lena Dunham’s computer aided intarsia overstitching and jacquard knits for Hillary Clinton. Could someone here suggest an economics line chart or two? Three charts on a unisex headband that half the world would buy, not just Berniebros?

      Instead of spirit knit hats, like sports teams sell, how about a knit hat that has a Bernie hair halo sticking up and out? Or, similar to an animal hat, one with a Bernie Sanders pointing finger and knuckles sticking out? Foam Bernie Finger? Andean style chullo hats or head bands, that aren’t gender specific?

      You could use computer aided sequin riveting machines, to produce embellished campaign logo or other graphics for all over effects, or for applique effects along a sash, around a collar (vaguely egyptian to be gender neutral?), poncho, vest, or headband, or for appliques people attach to their own hats or clothing.

      How about the hair and glasses graphic, so popular in Sanders’ GOTV offices, which cold be part of a line of appliques you can buy?

      Maybe for the painfully hip, you could design fascinators, that spout wired paper ribbon instead of feathers, that’s been printed with favorite economics charts?

  19. Lambert Strether Post author

    On TPP, those two studies are important. On the first, of course the 1% bring the ISDS suits, and benefit, but it’s nice to have an authoritative-looking study to quote. On the second, which is the “chilling” effect of ISDS, there’s alas no smoking gun, and much more diffuse causality. But lots of detail on how people at desks really make decisions, in the long run more important.

  20. ewmayer

    Re. new record prime number: It wasn’t a supercomputer that found it, it was a plain vanilla desktop PC. That’s the whole point of the distributed computing project!

    Even the parallel hardware we used to verify the new prime was far, far less than supercomputer-ish: several high-end GPUs and an 18-core “rent this cluster!” Amazon EC2 cloud node.

    To the doofus who said “I can’t believe nobody noticed that “prime” number ends in 8” – probably because it doesn’t. Here is the full decimal expansion for download (22 MB): http://www.mersenne.org/primes/digits/M74207281.zip
    In fact, it’s obvious from the “short form” of the number, 2^74207281-1, that the number is odd (duh!), can’t end in 5 (slightly less duh), and all possible factors (including the full number itself, which turns out to be the only factor) must be of form 2*k*74207281+1 for some integer k. (That needs actual number theory, but not terribly much).

    Regarding infinitude of primes and “definition of infinity”:

    o Yes, there are infinitely many primes, but
    o They are ‘countably infinite’, i.e. their “order of infinity” is less than (say) the real numbers.
    o Infinity is not a number.
    o In such matters, Wikipedia is your friend!

    Cheers, all.

  21. griffen

    From the Across the Curve link, “verbiage so arcane I hesitate to quote..”

    Yield curve is flattening, in a manner that makes it difficult to position for short trades. Because he refers to 3-month LIBOR increasing, recently to 0.62%, and also references the projected Fed rate hikes.

    There’s more to his comments on the 1yr forward rate, but it’s been too long for me.

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