2:00PM Water Cooler 1/26/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Open Letter to Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade” [Canada.gov]. “For Parliament to fully evaluate the merits of the TPP and for consultations to continue, Canada needs to stay at the table with the other TPP countries. That means when the eleven other countries convene to sign the Agreement next week, Canada will attend as well. Not attending would mean withdrawing from the TPP altogether, even before Canadians have had an opportunity to fully debate its implications.”

“The TPP already features many of these – roughly twenty between Canada and the U.S. alone. These deals are basically bilateral addendums grafted on to the main deal, and allow for major aspects of the agreement to be renegotiated – without reopening negotiations. The most likely path forward for the TPP in Canada, as far as I can see, is through these side deals” [The Alfalfa Field]. These “side deals” are, of course, completely open and transparent.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership meant to create the world’s largest free trade area will cost Canada 58,000 jobs and increase income inequality, says a new U.S. study” (full study, from Tufts The Global Development And Environment Institute) [HuffPo Canada]. “Perhaps more surprisingly, the study found that the two largest economies in the TPP — the U.S. and Japan — would actually shrink as a result of the trade deal, and that the deal would result in fewer jobs overall in all the participating countries.” Don’t worry. Robots.

“The TPP Is the Last, Best Opportunity for New Global Trade Rules” [Council on Foreign Relations] (full article). You mean if we kill it this time, it won’t rise from the dead? Awesome!


Des Moines Town Hall

“Live updates: CNN Democratic town hall” [CNN]. “Reality Check: Sanders says income inequality greater than any year since 1928: True.”

“But Sanders offered a litany of decisions that Clinton has made in her career that Sanders said were bad, starting with her vote in the Senate to go to war with Iraq” [Los Angeles Times]. He also noted that Clinton stayed on the sidelines for most of the fight against the Pacific trade deal opposed by organized labor. Sanders concluded, ‘Yeah, I do think I have the background and the judgment to take this very difficult job.”‘ “Judgment.” Ouch. (Amazingly enough, this was in response to being asked to respond to Clinton’s closing ad (covered here).

Clinton’s rejoinder on Iraq: “Asked to respond to Sanders’ criticism about her Iraq war vote, Clinton answered: ‘I have a much longer history than one vote, which I’ve said was a mistake'” [Des Moines Register]. One vote, sure, but not a small one…. And the followup, which wasn’t asked: “What lessons did you learn from that vote, Madam Secretary?”

“Hillary picks Lincoln over Bill and Barack as favorite president” [The Hill]. “‘I don’t know what our country would be like if he hadn’t been murdered, but I bet it would be a little less rancorous and a little more forgiving and tolerant,’ she said.” But then there’s this:

“[CLINTON:] But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the reigns of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.”

“Hillary Clinton Comes Under Fire for Civil War “Revisionism” at CNN Town Hall” [Policy Mic]:

Behind the backlash: The controversy centers on Clinton’s lumping of Reconstruction — the post-Civil War process whereby the United States enforced political reform and basic rights for freed slaves in the former states of the Confederacy — with the racial apartheid of segregation and Jim Crow. Republicans agreed to halt Reconstruction as part of the Compromise of 1877, which settled the razor-thin election between GOP nominee Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden. …

Following Clinton’s answer, a number of liberal commentators and journalists reacted with dismay, noting similarities between Clinton’s rhetoric and that of revisionist historians who argue that Northern radicals imprudently alienated the South by pursuing measures like black suffrage, non-discrimination codes and public education.

The past is not dead…

Clinton on her email: “I had no intention of doing anything other than having a convenient way of communicating and it turned out to not be so convenient,” said Clinton. “Maybe being faster, trying to scramble around to find out what all of this means, I should have done that quicker'” [Politico]. So why not release it all, then? And “find out what all of this means” means what, exactly?

“Hillary got the toughest question of the night, and she handled it like a pro” [The New Republic]. “When a Sanders-leaning voter at CNN’s Democratic town hall asked Clinton about charges that she is dishonest and double-dealing:”

[CLINTON:] They throw all this stuff at me and I’m still standing. I’ve been on the front lines of change and progress since I was your age [!!]. I have been fighting to give kids and women and the people who are left out and left behind the chance to make the most of their own lives. I’ve taken on the status quo again and again. I’ve had millions of dollars spent against me… The drug companies, the insurance companies spent millions against me … [I]f it were easy, hey, there wouldn’t be any contest. But it’s not easy… You have to have somebody who is a proven, proven fighter. Somebody who has taken them on and won.

Won what, exactly? I’m sick of Democrats “fighting” and never winning. And it’s odd that TNR didn’t quote the question. Another reaction to the same question:

“[Clinton’s] overall message faltered a bit, however, when she addressed distrust amongst millennials. She basically dismissed the notion with a not-so-expertly crafted response that painted millennials as a naïve bunch” [Blavity]. Generations don’t have agency, so they can’t be naïve. That said, it’s tellling that whatever message Clinton was trying to craft didn’t get through to this source.

“Hillary Clinton says she’s a ‘proven fighter.’ [And so was Terry Malloy.] Bernie Sanders says that while experience is important, ‘it is not the only thing’ that Democratic voters should weigh [hammering the “judgement” point]. And Martin O’Malley took off his jacket [and not his shirt, thanks to The God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any]” [CNN].


“Carter Signals US Plans to Deploy More Troops to Iraq” [Military.com]. Somebody should ask Clinton if she thinks that’s a good idea this time, too. Carter: “‘Boots on the ground? We have 3,500 boots on the ground’ in Iraq and ‘we’re looking for opportunities to do more,’ Carter told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.” Another six months should do it.

“Why Bernie Sanders should talk A LOT more about Hillary Clinton and Goldman Sachs” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. “Clinton hasn’t, really, found a good response to this line of attack from Sanders.” Stirring the pot, perhaps. But I agree.

“Bernie Sanders has the most realistic plan to boost wages and job creation” [Matthew Yglesias (!), Vox]. Whaddaya know. Say, any economists in Bernie’s corner?

The Voters

“Lawyer for Walter Scott Family Switches Sides to Endorse Bernie Sanders” [New York Times]. That’s no small thing.

“I Was Drunk When I Voted for Obama” [Power]. “However, it’s important that we study things with a critical eye. If we fail to be critical, we can easily be swayed by the gratification of symbolism while starving from a lack of substance.” NC’s mission….

“What the Clintons Mean to Me” [Corey Robin].

Maybe this is a generational thing, but this is what the Clintons will always mean to me: Sister Souljah, Ricky Ray Rector, welfare reform, and the crime bill. And beyond—really, behind—all that, the desperate affirmation to win over white voters by declaring: We are not the Party of Jesse Jackson, We are not the Rainbow Coalition.

People don’t seem to remember just how much the Clintons’ national ascendancy was premised upon the repudiation of black voters and black interests—a move that was both inspired and applauded by a small but influential group of Beltway journalists and party strategists, who believed this was the only path to taking back the White House from the Republicans—but for me, it’s vivid as yesterday.

I still remember Jackson’s “They Work Every Day.” I rarely tear up, although granted I was younger then.

“How Nate Silver Missed Donald Trump” [Slate]. The early polls were kayfabe. But Trump is the Perfect Kayfabe Master.

The Trail

“These are words that most political observers, including us, didn’t think we’d ever write six months ago: Less than a week before Iowa and two weeks before New Hampshire, Donald Trump is in clear control of the GOP presidential contest” [New York Times].

“One of Trump’s great successes is in attracting people who are otherwise alienated from the political process. The diehard Trump fans I encountered were mostly newcomers” [Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker]. Nice atmospheric piece, if a bit Manhattan-centric.

“‘Nothing is so unstoppable as a flavor whose time has finally come,’ [Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen] wrote on his Facebook page alongside a picture displaying a pint of ‘Bernie’s Yearning’ ice cream” [The Hill].

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, January 2016: “Consumer spending may not be that strong but consumer confidence is solid, at 98.1 in January and more than 2 points over the Econoday consensus” [Econoday]. “The assessment of the current jobs market is favorable with only 23.4 percent describing jobs as hard to get. This is a low percentage for this reading and down more than 1 percentage point from December. But improvement here is offset by a dip in those describing jobs as currently plentiful.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, January 2016: “delayed at source” [Econoday]. Make up your own jokes!

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, January 2016: “Readings have been mixed so far for this month’s activity in the factory sector with the Richmond Fed in the positive column, but not by much at only 2 vs December’s reading of 6” [Econoday]. “But new orders are still positive as are backlog orders, two readings that are less than gangbusters but still point to growth ahead. Shipments, however, contracted in the report despite gains for the workweek and another solid gain for employment.” And: Of the four regional Federal Reserve surveys released to date, three are in contraction and one [Richmond] is in expansion” [Econintersect]. But “barely.”

S&P Case-Shiller HPI, November 2015: “Home-price appreciation may not be booming but it is solid, perhaps the most solid source of increase for household wealth” [Econoday]. “FHFA data, also posted this morning, show similar strength and confirm that home prices, which are getting a boost from lack of available homes on the market, are one of the few areas of the economy showing price traction.” There it is again. Not sure about housing as wealth, as opposed to a hole in which to pour money — oh, wait. That’s a boat, but still — or a place to carry me out from feet first. Then again, I suppose a house is a mark of privilege just as much as a boat is. Back to topic: “The housing price decline seen since 2005 varies by zip code – and seems to have ended somewhere around the beginning of the 2Q2012. Every area of the country has differing characteristics. Since January 2006, the housing declines in Charlotte and Denver are well less than 10%, while Las Vegas home prices had declined almost 60%. Each home price index uses a different methodology – and this creates slightly different answers. There is some evidence in various home price indices that home prices are beginning to stabilize” [Econintersect].

FHFA House Price Index, November 2015: “Home prices are solid, up 0.5 percent in November according to FHFA data where the year-on-year rate is plus 5.9 percent” [Econoday]. “The nearly 6 percent year-on-year rate in this report, and similar strength in Case-Shiller data that were also released this morning, isn’t gangbusters but it is solid and, in an economy fighting deflationary trends, is a favorable source of price traction.” “Price traction.” Is that a new one?

Honey for the bears, the headline: “Recession Warnings May Not Come to Pass” [Wall Street Journal]. The deck: “Declines in industrial production, corporate profits, stock market typically point to contraction. But not always, and this may be one of those times.” The lead: “Every U.S. recession since World War II has been foretold by sharp declines in industrial production, corporate profits and the stock market.” Anybody else reminded of the famous Columbia PowerPoint?

Honey for the Bears: “When the [bank loan] growth rate was even modestly increasing it made the news. Now that it’s decelerating not a word…” (FRED charts) [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Auto carriers accused of bid rigging and price fixing before Federal Maritime Commission” [Longshore & Shipping News].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 16, Extreme Fear (previous close: 15) [CNN]. One week ago: 11 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


Readers, if you have similar issues with the water system where you live, I’d like to hear about it! The contact form is below.)

“Lead pipes like the ones that led to contamination of the tap water in Flint, Michigan, carry water into millions of older homes across the U.S. every day, a legacy of an era before scientists realized the severe long-term health consequences of exposure to the heavy metal” [AP]. That “led to” is pretty sketchy if you ask me; If private equality hadn’t hollowed out our manufacturing base… If racism weren’t a pervasive reality… If Snider wasn’t implemented whatever demented agenda his squillionaire backers really have… And so on.


“What species would become dominant on Earth if humans died out?” [The Conversation]. Readers?

“The Zika virus foreshadows our dystopian climate future” [Bill McKibben, Guardian]. McKibben’s relentless cheerfulness really creeps me out.


“Nearly 200 Wikipedia editors have taken the unprecedented step of calling for a member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of directors to be tossed out” [Ars Technica]. “As a Google HR exec, Arnnon Geshuri fired a recruiter who dared to call Apple.” Good for the editors!

“The New Chicago Police Civil Rights Adviser Is A Smart Hire — For Rahm Emanuel’s Reputation” [HuffPo].

Militia Watch

“The Bundy brothers, who self-identify as some of the leaders of the Malheur occupation, wear winter felt cowboy hats in brown and lined flannel shirts. They speak about their beliefs and plans in a cowboy-like manner: soft voiced, deliberate and calm” [Oregon Public Broadcasting]. “But others who have flocked to their Mormon banner of Moroni in remote Oregon are more agitated, make sharp movements and yell. Some sport camouflage or all-black clothing and neck tattoos. Some speak with a military staccato and have shaved heads.” Wait, what? I missed the Mormon subtext? Could we call Mitt Romney in to mediate?

“Bundy gets his pocket Constitutions from a friend in Utah named Bert Smith, who buys 1 million at a time, storing them in a warehouse between distributions to Mormon groups, schools and soldiers overseas” [Bend Bulletin]. ” It includes all 4,543 words inscribed by the Founding Fathers, with 18th-century spelling and punctuation preserved, but the pocket Constitution held aloft by Ammon Bundy at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge contains some notations by anti-communist conspiracy theorist W. Cleon Skousen. Skousen, who once accused President Dwight Eisenhower of being a Soviet agent and whom Time magazine labeled an ‘exemplar of the right-wing ultras,’ pairs the original Constitutional text with quotes from Founding Fathers about the necessity of religion in governance.” Well, Time is run by Communists. Everybody knows that.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Thursday that not only is the road built last week by the occupiers new, but it is also within an archaeological site important to the Burns Paiute Tribe” [Oregon Public Broadcasting]. To the tribes, this must seem rather familiar…

Class Warfare

“Anti-homeless spikes are part of a wider phenomenon of ‘hostile architecture'” [Guardian]. Hostile, one might ask, to whom?

News of the Wired

“Mysterious Object is 570 Billion Times Brighter than the Sun” [Science Explorer]. “They think it may be a very rare type of supernova — called a magnetar.” So it’s a bearish indicator?

“Twitter has appointed its first chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland [previously of American Express], who will spearhead a much-needed marketing push for the social network as it tries to buoy its user growth” [WaPo].

“The Wreck of Amtrak 188” [New York Times]. No answers, but well worth a read.

“The Facebook-Loving Farmers of Myanmar” [The Atlantic]. Author does fieldwork with a team of “design ethnographers.” Sounds like these guys are putting their phones to more productive use than selfies…

“Shodan is a search engine for the Internet of Things, scanning the public Internet for devices communicating on ports and over protocols that are commonly used by IoT devices” [Boing Boing]. Like wireless baby-monitors. What could go wrong?

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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 (KK):


There’s a time in Maine where the garden suddenly becomes incredibly dense, a two or three week period when the vegetables outrun everything else, temporarily. This photo captures that feeling well. I could use some more plants in snow pictures, though, if any of you have managed to make it out of the house!

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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. CSTH

    “If private equality hadn’t hollowed out our manufacturing base…”

    Wow, what a fortuitous typo. There’s an accidental neologism that’s going places….

    1. ambrit

      Isn’t Neologism a more communication theory based version of Neoplatonism?
      The Great Communicator was described as a ‘hidden’ Neologist Hierophant. The affinity between the ‘Hidden Hierophant’ and the ‘Hidden Imam’ is obvious and explains his dealings with the Theocracy in Teheran.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Decisions, decisons…. Malaysia did pretty well on the side deals, didn’t they? Obama made that slavery thing go away, the Saudis, entirely by coincidence, gifted them with $681 million, and IIRC, they get to leave whenever they want. Not too bad.

  2. James Levy

    I just put the last of the our frozen chard in a quiche the other day. Our Berkshire garden looks a lot like that around the second week of September.

  3. Jim Haygood

    “in an economy fighting deflationary trends, [house price appreciation] is a favorable source of price traction.”

    Not really. As we learned in the housing bubble of 2002-2006, asset price inflation doesn’t do much for the real economy, other than create construction jobs which disappear when the asset inflation stops.

    Shelter, which constitutes a third of the CPI, is its fastest-rising component at 3.2%. Exclude shelter, and the other two-thirds of the CPI was deflating at -0.5%.

    Not only has the Yellenites’ fantasy of 2 percent inflation failed to materialize; but also if it should — thanks to a housing boom — the consumption-based economy may still be deflating.

    1. James Levy

      Experts are supposed to understand that aggregates can and often are misleading. They are supposed to be able to dig into the data and see the real story emerging. What we have in this country is an endless cycle of confirmation bias on the part of interested parties.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Interested parties” that are diligently implacably always on task to sell the notions that support their “share…”

  4. diptherio

    Our water problems in Montana are of a slightly different nature (although we also have a shockingly out-of-date water system).

    Muddy Waters
    What exactly is The Carlyle Group up to?

    Last week, The Carlyle Group appeared to sell Mountain Water to Liberty Utilities, surprising the hell out of everybody. A judge ruled in June that Missoula is the rightful owner of Mountain Water. So how could Carlyle sell it to someone else?


    The most obvious explanation for Carlyle’s bizarre move last week is that it wants to fight a war of attrition. It lost the condemnation trial, and the valuation had run its course. So Carlyle sold Mountain Water’s parent company to trigger a series of potential new suits to go along with its Supreme Court appeal.

    Carlyle suffers less than we do by dragging out this process. It took in $974 million in 2014. If as little as 4 percent of that came from Mountain Water, Carlyle made more than Missoula spent while the two parties were in court. The multinational private equity firm has more resources than the city of Missoula, and it might just be turning a profit every day it delays the sale.


      1. clinical wasteman

        Or Samantha ‘Kiev-Sirte’ Power and Cass ‘Nudge’ Sunnstein. Such things shouldn’t matter but it’s late here and I rest my tired case.

    1. TedWa

      Thanks for the update Vatch, I’m wondering if they think they must be hidden from view because national security… Wouldn’t be the 1st time.

  5. diptherio

    Should have included this bit:

    “[It was] an upstream transaction,” Sorensen told the Victorville Daily Press last week. “The regulated utility is still owned by the same company it was last week. We just happened to change parent companies.”

    If that’s true, then the city of Missoula still has the right to buy Mountain Water from its parent company, Park Water, for $88.6 million. Liberty just gets the money instead of Carlyle. But that depends on the outcome of Carlyle’s Supreme Court case, and on whether the PSC challenges Carlyle’s sale to Liberty in court, and on whether Liberty sues to overturn the outcome of either of those lawsuits, since it is now an interested party in both.

    And that’s the kicker: Missoula will need to pay lawyers to represent its interests in all of those cases. This quagmire is becoming a boondoggle.

    1. Jason

      Perhaps Missoula should take a lesson from events at Malheur and seize their own water supply at rifle-point.

      1. diptherio

        Ha! That would be a turn – militia demanding gov’t ownership. But then, our local gov’t officials are head and shoulders above the Feds, in terms of legitimacy. Seems unlikely, though.

  6. Steve H.

    Possible ambiguity: the Tufte link is about the Columbia PowerPoint, though it mentions the Challenger.

    Tufte went through the Challenger presentation in ‘Visual Explanations’ and showed that reorganizing the x-axis to temperature would have made the interpretation utterly clear. However, there doesn’t seem to be a direct link to an excerpt of the book.

    You can find copies of the chart by searching ‘Tufte Challenger’.

  7. diptherio

    On the theme of imagining new social systems as a necessary prerequisite to creating better ones, here’s Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard on “Democratizing Community Development.” She’s been thinking about what a Solidarity Economy could look like, and working towards making it a reality for quite a long time now, and she has a number of quite practical suggestions (and a great historical perspective). As an added bonus for the NC crowd, she also takes a few shots at mainstream economics for having problems like, you know, having the wrong definition of economics. Good stuff from a great person:


  8. Jim Haygood

    The Empire’s on a roll, comrades:

    U.S. special operations troops have reportedly taken over an airfield in northeastern Syria, potentially clearing the way to flow more American military support to friendly militias fighting the Islamic State group.

    A small team of U.S. troops is setting up a base camp at Rmeilan Air Base in the Syrian Kurdish region near Syria’s Iraqi and Turkish borders, according to local reports.

    The airfield was until recently under control of the Syrian Kurdish forces, known as the YPG, but was turned over to the U.S. to help expand American support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the loose-knit coalition of American-backed militants fighting the Islamic State group.


    “Syrian Democratic Forces” … *snickers cynically* … prolly every bit as democratic as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    “friendly militias” … HAR HAR HAR … hand out hundred-dollah bills, and anybody can be your “friend”

    Drone laureate Obama seems determined to leave a quagmire for his successor. Democratic candidates need to run against Obama, so they can bust his chops for the lost wars and looted economy they inherit.

      1. Jim Haygood

        You can bet the CIA is paying Pfizer $100 apiece for those blue pills.

        No audits of the black budget! :)

  9. bluefoot

    Re water: way back when I lived in San Francisco, my landlord had to provide me with info and a disclaimer wrt lead pipes when I signed the lease. A lot of older SF buildings had been grandfathered in so that the pipes were still lead. (Sad that we got water from Hetch Hetchy – which is its own issue – and then ended up in lead pipes for that last bit or distance.) I wonder with all the money now in SF whether that’s changed or if there are still recommended guidelines for filtering and maximum volumes for cooking, drinking, etc.

    One of my siblings has been working on studying environmental damage related to fracking and they tell me there are several states where the water isn’t really safe to drink except in certain expensive zip codes. Not that you’d know that because in cases where the data is public, they do stuff like in Flint where the system is flushed before testing to tweak the results.

    1. bluefoot

      I know of at least one case where my sibling the requested raw analytical data from the energy company from the water tables in other areas they had fracked. Amazingly, the team got the data (I guess they hadn’t expected one of their document readers to have an analytical chemistry background). The calibration curves were jacked so everything in the analytical run was below the LLOQ (lower limit of quatification). If you looked at just the reports, and not the raw analytical raw QC data, you’d think everything was fine. Sure enough, independent analyses were run from independent samples in that area, and low and behold – contamination. The fracking company was shocked, shocked, that there was contamination.

    2. diptherio

      Don’t believe anything until the gov’t has officially denied it. I wouldn’t give it better than a 50/50 chance of being true. :-/

  10. Theo

    What species would become dominant on earth if humans died out? I have been rooting for the meerkats for some years now. They have so many socially useful qualities whereby they look out for each other. But perhaps they are too nice and would lose out to the chimps, who have shown themselves to be a murderous species themselves, that is, if chimps survive. Whoever it is, let’s hope that the earth can regenerate from the cesspool modern human beings have made of it.

    1. subgenius

      You’re going way too large and complex. Shrooms. Plus they might manage to remediate the planet for the next attempt…

    2. Massinissa

      We already know what will take over the ocean when Fish die out: Jellyfish. Thousands of incredibly LARGE Jellyfish.

      You can already see it happen off the coast of Japan. Its propelled by global warming.

      Now, for the land, who can say? Im rooting for the most social creatures on the planet: Ants. Meerkats are too damn big and too localized.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A couple of candidates.

        The Sloth – about time the lazy inherit the world.

        If not, robot ants. I think robot ants will crowd out natural born ants.

      2. hunkerdown

        The ant has made himself illustrious
        Through constant industry industrious

        So what?
        Would you be calm and placid
        If you were full of formic acid?
          -Ogden Nash

        In which case, I’m rooting for the corvids. The ants have had their try by way of humans.

  11. Rex


    Check your email. The EPA have some decent rules on water with sampling required that is designed to identify problems before they become big, such as lead and copper. Simply changing the water pH can bring out the lead and copper, so operation of systems is important and there are training requirements. When people ignore the rules, fail to take samples, fail to report samples, and then fail to react is when there are problems. Or, when there is knowing skirting of the rules. Anti-regulatory stance popular the last 20 years and a battered EPA (thanks congress…) are making things dangerous for the 99%.

  12. GlobalMisanthrope

    I still remember Jackson’s “They Work Every Day.” I rarely tear up, although granted I was younger then.

    Yeah. And remember, “They take the early bus”? I was a Jackson delegate in ’84 and ’88 and watching the maneuvers of Clinton and Co in ’88 drove me from the Democratic party.

  13. GlobalMisanthrope

    “These are words that most political observers, including us, didn’t think we’d ever write six months ago: Less than a week before Iowa and two weeks before New Hampshire, Donald Trump is in clear control of the GOP presidential contest” [New York Times].

    Says the media that made it happen. No, seriously, you guys knew you were making a bunch of money doing what you do, but you never imagined that you were in any way effective.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Oddly enough, this is a bit unfair. Their problem, and Trump’s big advantage, is that he’s a real for sure celebrity, a TV personality (who is mostly staying in character). They couldn’t ignore him, as they did Sanders for a long time. I suspect that his real base is his TV fans.

      And Sanders’ extraordinary rise is an indication that they aren’t all that effective: ignoring him didn’t work.

      I think both he and Trump are rising in th e polls because of what they say and the way they say it. In some ways, that’s a good sign.

  14. cm

    Regarding “Hillary Clinton Comes Under Fire for Civil War “Revisionism” at CNN Town Hall” a more interesting item is it appears the question itself may have been planted

    One audience member named Brett Rosenberg began to ask a question to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton but initially misspoke.

    “Secretary Sanders … Clinton … Sorry,” Rosenberg began.

    “That’s okay,” Clinton responded.

    The audience laughed at the mistake while Rosenberg said with an embarrassed smile, “I can see why they gave you this question. I just wanted to know which of our previous presidents has inspired you most and why.”

    Rosenberg’s comment appeared to suggest that his question was prepared by someone else and fed to him to ask rather than his own original question.

    1. ambrit

      Salting the crowd with friendly operatives during speeches and other public appearances is Tradition.
      I remember hearing a regional humourist named Justin Wilson speak about his time as an in the crowd “heckler” for Huey Long. By playing Simplicimus, he would set Long up for an indirect take down of his opponents position. ‘Shrub’ took it the rest of the way by having his entourage screen the crowd in its’ entirety for his ‘Public’ appearances. Local Republican Party cadres would check the probable attendance list and turn away non True Believers.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        That’s a lot of conspiracy theory kook talk. Our states-people would never knowingly do anything so cheesy.

      2. Massinissa

        At least in Longs case it took skill to do. In Shrubs case its just a way of hiding his lack of rhetorical skill.

  15. allan

    Massachusetts man charged with wiretapping in 2014 for filming a local police officer with his iPhone is settling a federal civil rights lawsuit for $72,500.

    The arresting officer received a one-day suspension for conduct unbecoming of an officer—that is speaking profanities in public. The Fall River police erased the footage from the phone by typing in wrong passwords at least 10 times, which prompted the iPhone to restore to factory settings. That erasure was among the reasons the authorities dropped the wiretapping charges against Thompson, as the alleged evidence had been destroyed.

    It’s a good thing that code is law, as the management here likes to say.
    Otherwise, the cops could have charged Apple with destruction of evidence.

    1. Pavel

      For similar stories regarding the photography and videography of police and the legal ramifications, check out the Photography Is Not A Crime (PINAC) web site:

      Photography Is Not A Crime

      It started out concentrating on the photo/video aspect, but now covers a range of police skullduggery and corruption of all sorts:

      Photography is Not a Crime was launched in 2007 after Miami multimedia journalist Carlos Miller was arrested for taking photos of Miami police during a journalistic assignment in order to document his trial.

      He quickly learned that citizens from all over the country were being harassed, threatened and arrested for recording in public, so he began documenting these incidents on his blog as he waited for his trial to begin.

      By the time he went to trial more than a year later, the blog had developed a significant following who not only began learning about their rights, but also exercising those rights, many of them equipped with newly introduced smartphones which allowed them to record and upload videos instantly, something that had never been possible before.

      Photography is Not a Crime, which became known as PINAC, inspired many new blogs, Youtube channels and Facebook pages that became dedicated to documenting police abuses throughout the country, sparking the movement that continues to grow today that is holding police accountable better than the mainstream media, politicians or the police themselves.

  16. Pavel

    Re: Town Hall. If Cuomo had followed up properly on the Iraq War vote question:

    Q: Secretary Clinton, what precise lessons did you learn from that Iraq vote you now claim to regret?

    A: Well, I learned a lot. For instance, when Cameron in the UK and Sarkozy in France were calling for the overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya, I carefully reviewed the situation and called in the experts. I realised that there was no adequate plan for a post-Qaddafi government, and that the rebel groups included AQ elements who were sending the arms we supplied them to Syria. So I urged President Obama not to join in the Libya misadventure.

    Oh wait…

  17. WanderingMind

    “‘Nothing is so unstoppable as a flavor whose time has finally come,’ [Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen] wrote on his Facebook page alongside a picture displaying a pint of ‘Bernie’s Yearning’ ice cream”

    Paul Krugman upon hearing that there is an ice cream named after Bernie Sanders:

    “Let me take a moment away from my usual mathematical modeling of a world which doesn’t exist and my Friday promotion of obscure musical groups to say something about ice cream.

    “I have always been in favor of ice cream with pure cream and other all natural ingredients in it, but let’s be realistic. This is not the time to try to grasp for something unattainable.

    Instead, we need to take an incremental approach to ice cream. If we can get ice cream which has cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup, that is progress. Maybe in the future, then, we will be able to add a “real fruit” option to the ice cream and someday, in the far, far future, we will get the ice cream that we all want.”

    1. Reflected Sky

      Finally coming out of lurk mode to say thank you; that was highly entertaining.

      (I promise next time I’ll try to deliver actual discussion value.)

  18. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    When the monkeys ruin it for themselves, I think the best candidates are raccoons. They’ve got hands, they’ll eat all the mountains of junk we leave behind and they’re tough and smart.

      1. Laughingsong

        I vote for either raccoons or bears. Watching both of these creatures navigate the urban environment, you have to wonder if they aren’t half-way there already.
        Picanic baskets anyone?

  19. ewmayer

    LOL, just got an e-mail from Carla Frank [frankC at dee enn cee dot org – good to know their mission is not commercial in any way, thus the ‘org’] – as a result of my foolishly having contributed to 0bama’s 2008 campaign, they will no doubt be bugging me until the day I die and beyond. Bolds mine:

    The Democratic National Committee is pleased to announce a brunch reception with special guest President Barack Obama on February 11th, 2016. The reception will take place Atherton, CA at the home of Steve Westly. Please RSVP here to attend: [snip]

    We hope you will join us for this reception as this is one of the last times as President Obama visits the Atherton as President of the United States for. As the presidential primaries begin, it is of critical importance that the Democratic Party has the resources necessary to ensure the White House stays in Democratic hands in order to preserve President Obama’s incredible legacy and the future of this country.

    Atherton … clearly POTUS is making a real effort to connect with the small fraction of ‘mericans whose boats have not been lifted by his ‘incredible legacy’ of promoting economic justice and shared prosperity, by visiting a gritty blue-collar left coast exurb.

      1. hunkerdown

        Ah yes, the town where tagging class warfare messages on people’s garages gets the FBI involved.

    1. Oregoncharles

      They were sending me begging letters, too, despite my Green Party registration and history of activism.

      This would have been amusing if it hadn’t been so annoying. I called them up and made threats (to never vote for ANY Democrat again), then put EVERYTHING from the next letter in the ppd envelope, wrote something nasty on the card, and sent it back to them. Oddly enough, that worked.

  20. ballard

    Here’s David Brooks, in a Jan 26 Op-Ed for the NY Times:

    “In January of 2017 someone will stand at the U.S. Capitol and deliver an Inaugural Address. This is roughly the place where Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan once stood. I am going to spend every single day between now and then believing that neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz nor Bernie Sanders will be standing on that podium. One of them could win the election, take the oath, give the speech and be riding down Pennsylvania Avenue. I will still refuse to believe it.”

    Stop reality, Dave wants to get off.

    But wait, let’s give Dave some credit and assume for a moment he’s not a stark raving lunatic…. maybe the reason Dave wants Hillary (or preferably worse) to take the Presidency in 2016, is because he subscribes to the political and social theory, known as accelerationism.

    from wikipedia:

    “Accelerationism” is the idea that either the prevailing system of capitalism, or certain technosocial processes that have historically characterised it, should be expanded, repurposed or accelerated in order to generate radical social change. Some contemporary accelerationist philosophy takes as its starting point the Deleuzo-Guattarian theory of deterritorialisation, aiming to identify, deepen, and radicalise the forces of deterritorialisation with a view to overcoming the countervailing tendencies that suppress the possibility of far-reaching social transformation.

    Accelerationism may also refer more broadly, and usually pejoratively, to support for the deepening of capitalism in the belief that this will hasten its self-destructive tendencies and ultimately eventuate its collapse.”

    Yeah, that’s got to be it. This would explain the NYT op-ed, entitled “Stay Sane America, Please!”…. Dave’s an accelerationist.

    1. ProNewerDeal

      David Brooks either a moron, or a willful ignorant oligarch’s propagandist that plays a moron on TV.

      Scandinavian-style social democracy is the EMPIRICALLY best political economy system to be tried on a widespread basis in the last 50-100 years. Social democracy does the best on life expectancy, social mobility aka “extent of which hard work is actually rewarded”, etc. Even center-left neoliberal England’s “Economist” magazine grudgingly admitted this in an article. Sanders advocates Denmark-ish social democracy. Given the track record, Sanders position is pragmatic, & David Brooks is a neoliberal crazed ideologue. Yet David Brooks claims the opposite, & despite being incompetent & serially incorrect in his statements & predictions, David Brooks retains his (propagandist) “pundit” job.

  21. Watt4Bob

    We’re being led astray concerning the poisoned water delivered to folks in Flint MI.

    What led to the lead poisoning wasn’t primarily the lead supply line, it was the chemical properties of the water delivered by them.

    The water delivered on the cheap by the indifferent managers was significantly more corrosive than the water previously supplied.

    The more corrosive water, dissolved much more of the lead supply lines and brought the lead into the house with the water.

    If those folks who are really responsible for delivering tainted water to the good people of Flint are successful at blaming old supply lines, which BTW are the responsibility of the home-owner, they, will have once again dodged any responsibility for the crapification of our commons.

    Another un-foreseen ill-effect of the MSM selling this bogus story is the tsunami of grifters fanning out across our nation, as we speak, selling lead-free supply lines to unsuspecting people who have nothing to fear from their local water.

    It’s the water stupid!

    The MI PTB decided to save a bunch of bucks by selling Flint some really nasty water, water so nasty it dissolved the lead pipes coming into their homes, and poisoned them.

    Millions and millions of Americans have lead supply lines connecting their homes to their local water utilities, and because the water they receive is properly processed, they are not poisoned by lead pollution.

    Minnesota Public Radio featured a show today, selling the notion that this crisis could replicate itself all over the country unless we start paying attention, (and bearing the cost) to upgrading our plumbing.

    It’s not the pipes, it’s the water.

    1. run75441

      Between the chlorine and what was already in the water it was corrosive enough to have GM stop using it to run and flush engines.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Hi Run,

        Good to see your words.

        Forgot your connections to the geography.

        Yes, so bad we can’t use it in industry, let’s sell it to some poor people to drink.

        And as Carla points out, it all helps make it easier to rationalize privatizing Detroit’s water system.

        My local public radio station helping frame the thing just makes my blood boil.

        “This could happen anywhere…”

    2. Carla

      People just aren’t paying attention to the real danger. OF COURSE the problem in Flint was the water. The Flint River is toxic, but no more so than the political machine that engineered the switch of the water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. to the Flint River. PLEASE read this, which was posted on NC links yesterday:


      Watt4Bob, please let me know you read that link.

      1. Carla

        A very important agenda was being enacted with that switch. It had nothing to do with Flint. Flint is completely expendable. Collateral damage.

        The switch was made to destroy the public Detroit Water and Sewerage utility so that it, and ultimately all of the waters of the Great Lakes, can be privatized and sold for profit — 1/5 of the world’s fresh surface water. The oil of the 21st century.

        WAKE UP.

      2. Watt4Bob

        Thanks Carla,

        Yes, I understand that the ultimate point, as always, is distributing control of our common resources to their cronies.

        It almost always is.

        What I was stirred to point out is the crafty attempt to divert the blame to something supposedly the responsibility of the victims.

        Here in Minnesota, where the water supplies are unusually clean, and safe, we have our Public Radio network pedaling this crap, it’s maddening.

        Thanks again for your important addendum.

        1. Carla

          Check out this map of the Great Lakes:


          The entire state of Michigan is Great Lakes watershed. There is no reason that everyone in the state of Michigan would not have pure, fresh water except Governor Snyder surveys his empire and determines how it will profit him and his.

    3. bob

      Vastly oversimplified. It’s not just “the supply lines” part of which are usually the responsibility of the water authority, from the main to the curb.

      if it’s not the pipes, where is the lead coming from?

      This is the victim blaming I was waiting for. Stupid, lazy homeowners.

      Yes, the corrosive water screwed everything up. Everything. Beyond repair.

      If it weren’t a system that was so old, it would have survived.

      Should all of this have been taken into account before the switch? Yes. But, what does blaming do to help things going forward?

      Nothing but make a few people very wealthy who “can’t promise it will work” but who have lots of very expensive ponies to sell.

      1. Carla

        Let’s talk about ponies. Yeah, the infrastructure’s ancient and has to be replaced. Everybody can get on that pony.

        On the other hand, which pony is gonna win this race? Unless a lot of people get really smart, really fast, I’m gonna bet the farm on the political pony. That would be the one that owns the racetrack.

    4. bob

      You’re statement is completely at odds with itself-

      “this crisis could replicate itself all over the country unless we start paying attention, (and bearing the cost) to upgrading our plumbing.”

      “It’s not the pipes, it’s the water.”

      These two thoughts don’t seem to follow. We have to fix the pipes, but the pipes are not at fault?

      1. Carla

        Oh, for god’s sake. Follow the bread crumbs. There’s evidence of a criminal conspiracy to destroy public ownership of water utilities and public access to 20% of the fresh water on earth.

        1. bob

          Yes, turn it into a global conspiracy that stretches from flint to the Rothschilds.

          What to do about the people still living in flint? “let them drink alex jones!”

          Where is this evidence? And to narrow the focus a bit, where is the evidence that the global criminal conspiracy is targeting Flint?

            1. bob

              That’s evidence of-

              ” of a criminal conspiracy to destroy public ownership of water utilities and public access to 20% of the fresh water on earth.”

              I don’t see it. Could you help point out where they say anything of that sort?

              1. Carla

                “A high-ranking DWSD official told us today that Detroit offered a 50% reduction over what Flint had been paying Detroit. In fact, documents show that DWSD made at least six proposals to Flint, saying “the KWA pipeline can only be attributed to a ‘political’ objective that has nothing to do with the delivery – or the price – of water.”

                “The offer by DWSD raises serious questions about whether Gov. Rick Snyder was lying when he insisted the water switch was motivated by saving money for Flint, which was under the control of a state emergency manager.”

                “When compared over the 30 year horizon the DWSD proposal saves $800 million dollars or said differently – saves 20% over the KWA proposal,” then-DWSD Director Sue McCormick said in the e-mail dated April 15, 2013.

                “The e-mail was first obtained by the Bill Johnson Group, a Detroit-based media consulting firm, and confirmed today by DWSD.”

                “So what was it about? Some have suggested that Snyder was motivated by a desire to break up DWSD and ultimately privatize it. In the summer of 2015, DWSD was split into two entities: the DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority.”

                Relentless efforts to privatize and profit on the fresh water of the Great Lakes (to the complete detriment of the people of the region and ultimately, the world) only mean that it is urgent that all emails, and all evidence, related to the Flint water crisis be disclosed and investigated.

                If there’s nothing there, if there was no effort to break up, weaken, and then pick off the Detroit water utility to fatten private wallets, okay, fine.

                I doubt that’s the case, and would be happy to be proved wrong. Okay?

                1. lambert strether

                  The Motor City link doesn’t show that, though. I do remember that the head of Nestle thinks all water should be privatized (too lazy to find the link) so it’s not an implausible idea, but we need more…

                  Like whacky quotes from Snyder’s squillionaire supporters, for example.

                  1. bob

                    Maybe we’ll get really lucky and they’ll be a hooker we can shame!

                    Please, Mr circus. may I have some more?

                    Water….no. I want newz!!!!!

                    1. bob

                      No, it’s literally NOT embedded into other systems. It’s a very local, unique problem.

                      How many other water systems have lead from flint in them?


                      But it’s great soapbox. Why not bring intersectionality into it too? I’m sure we could all learn a lot while watching the brains and bones of 100k people literally rot.

                      “we’re learning!”

                      Way easier that trying to get good water to flint.

              2. bob

                Where is the-

                “criminal conspiracy to destroy public ownership of water utilities and public access to 20% of the fresh water on earth.”?

                Where? For the 3rd time. There’s a story you keep linking to about some pols doing typical pol things, relayed by the media via – “A high-ranking DWSD official “, but not one bit of evidence for a “criminal conspiracy to destroy public ownership of water utilities and public access to 20% of the fresh water on earth.”

                Are you the same carla? Because we seem to be speaking different languages.

                They’re all set in Flint. Plenty of conspiracy to feed the thirst of a city. “There’s a press circus in town, don’t worry about the water!”

                pols lied. I’m shocked. Does this prove a “criminal conspiracy to destroy public ownership of water utilities and public access to 20% of the fresh water on earth.”

                No. It doesn’t. Even if you keep claiming it does. It’s a press circus.

                Meanwhile, what do the people in flint have for water? Fuck it, NBC just showed up!

                The city is burning, and you want to go get the fuckers who burned it!

                Can we put the fire out first?


      2. Watt4Bob

        Sorry Bob,

        I didn’t make it clear enough.

        The quote;

        “This crisis could replicate…”

        came from the MPR radio hostess, concern trolling and obfuscating, as is her habit.

        “It’s not the pipes, it’s the water. ” is mine.

        1. bob

          Apparently, now, its question of causation?

          Did the bad water help? Not at all, it was the final straw that broke the camels back. Ate him from the inside would be a better way to put it.

          But, did the water cause the lead to be there in the first place? No, that’s why it can happen anywhere, WHERE THE PIPES HAVE LEAD IN THEM, as per the MPR “think piece”.


          Munis have been relying on “scale” to protect them from the lead. Over the years, it builds up on the inside of the pipe, insulating the water from touching the actual pipe.


          The bad water “cleaned out” the scale. The pipes are now back in contact with the water, which leads to LEAD IN THE PIPES leaching into the water, again.

          So, then, YOUR claim-

          “It’s not the pipes, it’s the water. ” is wrong, IMO. The same bad water moving through non-leaded pipes would not have resulted in the same public health disaster. It would have been bad water, but clean it out and start over. This is MUCH more complicated now.

          The low Ph river water ate away at the scale. That scale, which resembles concrete in form and function, is now rolling around inside the pipes, making even more surface area, and loose bits of pipe, for the water in the pipe to come into contact with. “scour” is the word for this process.

          Are lots of pipes leaded? Yes, they are. But, it’s been known now, for quite a while, that you really shouldn’t do that. Lead is bad for people.

          Anti-corrosives and Ph monitoring can keep the lead migration to minimal levels, but the lead is still there. Until the lead isn’t there.

  22. ilporcupine

    CNN, WSJ, and others reporting Bundy brothers and others arrested after exchange of fire with FBI :
    About time.

      1. tegnost

        Scooped! but in your defense links usually don’t get posted without a glance by the moderators, so which came first is anybody’s guess…

  23. Oregoncharles

    ““What species would become dominant on Earth if humans died out?”” – ends by mentioning ants, a plausible candidate, though insects and arthropods in general are quite limited in the size they can reach.

    In that spirit, there is a fictional example: “Serpent’s Reach,” IIRC, by CJCherryh. The proposed aliens are obviously based on ants (though human sized). Like most of hers, the book is intense and propulsive. I recommend it, if you read that sort of thing.

  24. Oregoncharles

    Militia Watch

    In case it isn’t already posted: the Bundy brothers and four others have been arrested in a traffic stop, and the blue tarp guy was killed, he had promised to resist arrest. However, this did NOT happen at the refuge; presumably there are quite a few of their followers still there.

    The feds were starting to look foolish – and collusive.

    1. ilporcupine

      Yep. Now…is there gonna be a next phase? Do the remaining bunch get itchier trigger fingers? Feds have to know by now they will be wrong in the press and on RW radio/tv regardless of how they proceed. They just gotta do their jobs.

    2. ilporcupine


      So what happens now, do the remaining bunch at the lodge get even itchier trigger fingers? Were they counting on the Bundy bros as “leaders”? Will the FBI use the confusion to finish the job? These answers and more on the next installment of “The Bundy Bunch” on ” Masturbatory Theatre”. (OK, it’s late or early, depending, and Ima gonna sleep, now)

  25. two beers

    Isn’t it curious that Cilizzard and Yglesias would turn on SS Clinton this early? I’ve avoided anything either of these tools and fools has written for at least the last ten years, but these cocktail weenie regulars have to be congenitally repulsed by Sanders, populism, and the dirty hippies… I’m gonna make a wild and irresponsible conjecture that this is Obama’s people trying to scuttle SS Clinton before the listing ship takes him down, too, before he gets his well-earned reward on the corporate lecture circuit. ObamaCo instigating a civil war in the centrist castle (for whatever self-interested reason) would be a very good thing indeed.

  26. ilporcupine

    Just glad some movement on this story. Thought Bundy & Co. were gonna skate again…
    I wonder how many of these guys (and their human shields) are still sitting in that lodge, waiting for the other shoe to drop!
    (Edit: was in reply to tegnost, about Bundy.)

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