2:00PM Water Cooler 1/28/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Watch out for the use of ‘science-based’ arguments during the coming TAFTA/TTIP: I predict it’s a phrase we’ll being hearing a lot of, soon” [Open Dot Dot]. If an argument is really “science-based,” it won’t use proprietary data.

“Analyst: Trans-Pacific Partnership ‘unlikely to go ahead'” [New Zealand Herald]. “The TPPA cannot get through the US congress as it is,” [Lori Wallach, visiting New Zealand] said. “Under the certification system the agreement won’t get voted on or go into effect until the US congress is satisfied.”

Malaysian House and Senate approve a motion to sign TPP [Channel News Asia].


Tonight’s Republican Debate

“Anecdotally, a potential Trump supporter in Iowa told The Washington Post that she thought skipping the debate fit well with Trump’s brand” [WaPo]. “‘Everything that he does is so well thought out,’ Tara Wachendorf, 27, said while awaiting a Trump rally Tuesday in Iowa City. ‘He’s good at creating controversy, and that’s what’s bringing him more voters. People like that.'” Kayfabe, I’m tellin’ ya. Except at some point, kayfabe may be broken for the crowd, with real blood in the stands, not fake blood in the ring.

Trump’s skipping the Republican debate because Megyn Kelly. “Fox News Statement Taunting Trump Was ‘100 Percent’ Roger Ailes” [New York Magazine]. The statement: “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president,” Fox said. “A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.” “While Trump could cost Fox News debate-night ratings, officials at the network said Rupert Murdoch, the executive co-chairman of Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, gave Ailes his support over the phone” [Reuters].


“Finding a Cure for Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s Health Care Plans” [Truth Digest]. Good summary from two doctors:

On Sunday, just two hours before the final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus, Sanders released a new plan. It made two excellent improvements on his previous legislative proposals.

First, he writes that he would create “a federally administered single-payer health care program.” This is a major improvement over the complexity, cost and inconsistency of having 50 state administrators—it will save money and provide equal coverage for all. Second, he expanded the coverage of his plan so that all medically necessary services would be covered.

Most of his announcement Sunday focused on how the plan would be paid for. His plan includes a 2.2 percent tax, which he calls a premium, on certain households. For example, Sanders’ website states that this would apply to a family of four with income over $28,800. There would also be a 6.2 percent payroll tax. Then it provides for a progressive income tax, beginning with those making over $250,000 annually. Capital gains and dividends would be taxed at the same rate as other income, tax deductions for the wealthy would be limited and the estate tax would be changed.

While this plan gives his opponents a talking point—”Sanders would raise taxes on the middle class”—the reality is that it would actually save people money because families would no longer be paying premiums. In addition, the payroll tax would lower costs for businesses.

“Ta Nehesi Coates’ Bernie Sanders Brain Fart Isn’t Even About Reparations” [Black Agenda Report]. “[Bernie is] really no kind of socialist at all. Bernie know this, and has rarely if ever called himself one in recent years. But he allows, even encourages us to call him that this year because socialism is popular, even though Ta Nehesi Coates thinks it should not be.”


“Campaigning in style: How Jeb Bush blew through his warchest” [Reuters]. “Money donated by both large and small donors kept the Bush camp traveling in style. There were stays at luxury hotels including the Wilshire in Beverly Hills, the Viceroy in Florida, the St. Regis in Dana Point, California, and the W in Stamford, Connecticut, the campaign finance filings show.” I’m so happy Bush and his gang of grifters took $250 [million] off some stupid squillionaires. Who are now whining about it.

“Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrived in Philadelphia Wednesday to meet with African American ministers and also to hold a fundraiser” [NBC Philadelphia]. “And also.”

The Voters

“Cruz, Trump and the Missing White Voters” [Real Clear Politics].

The Trail

Sanders will agree to more debates if Wasserman Schultz fixes the mess she made [The Hill]. “The campaign is requesting one each in March, April and May. All three must not be scheduled on a Friday, Saturday or holiday, and all three must include Martin O’Malley along with Sanders and Clinton.”

“‘What the president has tried to do, what Vice President Biden has tried to do, is to be as evenhanded as they could be,’ [Sanders insisted after a White House meeting] [AP] “‘And I know there was some discussion the other day about a Politico interview in which he was tipping the scale towards Secretary Clinton — I don’t believe that at all.’ … “[Sanders] emphasized that he owed Obama a political debt for coming to campaign for him in 2006, saying ‘I have never forgotten that.'” So, Clinton offers Obama a crude bribe (nomination to the Supreme Court) and Sanders praises Obama’s neutrality. Who’s the classier?

“On the Democratic candidate side, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California made clear to reporters at a party retreat in Baltimore that she was thrilled with the prospective new voters that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is drawing to his presidential rallies” [New York Times]. “But Ms. Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, is not so enthusiastic about some of his proposals that could require raising taxes. “We’re not running on any platform of raising taxes,” she said.” Not even to save people money. Or their lives.

“Bernie Sanders’s political revolution, explained” [Vox]. The explanation:

  • A Democratic Party–wide move to the left on economic issues, focused on challenging the power of the wealthy and corporations (and, by extension, the power of the Republicans those interests tend to back)
  • A new economics-focused electoral appeal aimed at nonvoters of all races — and at white voters who’ve tended to support the GOP
  • A continued mobilization and organization of many of those core supporters, so they’ll keep fighting for change once President Sanders is in office

Interesting. Not seeing it so far, however. But this: “[Obama]’s been criticized for failing to make use of his massive organizing operation once in office.” Obama did not not NOT “failing to make use” OFA; he instantly dismantled it. That’s the second time I’ve seen this history airbrushed this week.

“Sanders draws big crowds in Duluth and St. Paul” [Minnesota Post]. “More than 14,000 people came to St. Paul’s RiverCentre — a third of them in an overflow crowd — for the Vermont senator’s evening speech, and earlier, about 6,000 people packed his afternoon rally at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center” [Star Tribune].

“With just a few days to go before the Monday caucuses, we believe Clinton is decently positioned to survive Iowa. Momentum and excitement appear to be more on Sanders’ side, but he may be over-reliant on a base of supporters that are not well distributed throughout the state and a bit less likely to turn out at the level he needs” [Larry Sabato, Center for Politics]. “If despite all this, Clinton still comes up short, let’s not forget that Iowa’s Democratic activists are overwhelmingly white and somewhat more liberal than in many other states where Clinton will be favored due to strong minority backing. So a Clinton loss here is far from fatal.”

“Six months after it began, the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server shows no signs of slowing down” [The Hill]. “‘It does give pause to Democrats who are concerned that there may be another shoe to drop down the road,’ said Andrew Smith, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.” And then there’s this:

The former secretary of State did not appear to send most of the emails now marked classified. Instead, they were largely sent or forwarded to her by aides.

“If I’m in Clinton’s campaign, I’m more worried if am Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin or Jake Sullivan than if I’m Hillary Clinton,” [said Bradley Moss, a lawyer who specializes in national security and protection of classified information]. Mills, Abedin and Sullivan were all top aides of Clinton’s at the State Department. Abedin and Sullivan continue to hold high positions in Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“De Blasio will be joined [in Iowa] by his wife, Chirlane McCray, as they seek to help Clinton defeat U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to de Blasio’s political team” [Newsday]. “David Peterson, a professor of political science at Iowa State University, said he didn’t believe Mr. de Blasio’s visit would make much of a difference. He said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, would be a bigger draw” [Wall Street Journal, “Weekend in Iowa Awaits Bill de Blasio”]. Yes. Clinton can offer a bribe to Obama in the form of support for a Supreme Court nomination. But apparently, she can’t (or won’t) make an offer Warren can accept, and endorse her. Odd, that.

“Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t be going to the Groundhog Day ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo this year” [CBS New York]. “Staten Island Chuck, which was really a female groundhog named Charlotte, famously slipped from de Blasio’s grasp during his first Groundhog Day ceremony as mayor. The animal died a few weeks later, apparently from internal injuries.” So, Bill, if anybody Iowa offers you an animal to hold, don’t do it!

“Paul Krugman Unironically Anoints Himself Arbiter of ‘Seriousness’: Only Clinton Supporters Eligible” [Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept]. I used to think somebody had kidnapped Operative K and replaced him with an alien replicant, but sadly, I now think he’s just becoming more himself.

“The Audacity of Hope: The Trump Version” [Cook Political Report]. Five reasons Trump will lose. “Given how wrong so many of us were about Trump’s staying power in the first place, it’s understandable why so many are wary to write him off as either the nominee or a general election winner. However, let’s not mistake his progress thus far as simply one of his own creation. Trump’s success has also been built upon the failure on the non-Trump “establishment” to coalesce around their own standard bearer. He’s also faced almost no serious attacks by his opponents.”

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, December 2015: “The factory sector ended 2015 with a giant thud. Durable goods orders fell 5.1 percent in December vs expectations for a 0.2 percent gain and a low-end estimate of minus 3.0 percent” [Econoday]. And it’s not all aircraft, either: “Orders for civilian aircraft lead the dismal list, down 29 percent in December. The other main subcomponent for transportation, motor vehicles, also fell, down 0.4 percent in a reminder that vehicle sales were slowing at year end. Capital goods industries show deep declines: machinery down 5.6 percent, computers down 8.7 percent, communications equipment down 21 percent, and fabricated metals down 0.5 percent.” Some punchbowl that was, Janet. And:

“The headlines say the durable goods new orders decreased. The three month rolling average improved this month but remains in contraction. This is not a good report” [Econintersect].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, January 2016: “Kansas City manufacturing, along with that of Dallas, are suffering the worst of any regions in the nation’s factory contraction. Kansas City came in at minus 9 for the ninth contraction in 10 months” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of January 23, 2016: “Jobless claims, having risen to 6-month highs and raising questions over the strength of the January labor market, fell back a sizable 16,000 in the January 23 week to a lower-than-expected 278,000” [Econoday]. “But continuing claims, where data lag by a week, rose a steep 49,000 in the January 16 week to 2.268 million for the highest reading since August.” Then again, it was a holiday week. But “the rolling average marginally improves” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 24, 2016: “The consumer comfort index opened January below 44 and has inched its way, despite all the volatility and losses for the stock market, to 44.6 in the January 24 week” [Econoday].

Pending Home Sales Index, December 2015: “Sales of existing homes popped higher in December but a further gain for January is uncertain given only a 0.1 percent rise in pending home sales which follows a downward revised 1.1 percent decline in November” [Econoday]. “It usually takes one to two months for contract signings to close with greater delays possible given new mortgage documentation rules that were implemented in November.”

Shipping: “Rail contraction continues” [Econintersect].

Honey for the Bears, Froth Desk: “Nest Thermostat Goes From ‘Internet Of Things’ Darling To Cautionary Tale” [Techdirt]. You’d think it would be hard to screw up a thermostat (and bad if you do, because who wants to freeze in a cold snap?) Well, Silicon Valley has done it!

Honey for the Bears, Froth Desk: “Could Theranos Go From Unicorn To Unicorpse?” [Forbes].

The Fed: “Strains are emerging in just about every corner of the global credit market. Credit-rating downgrades account for the biggest chunk of ratings actions since 2009; corporate leverage is at a 12-year high; and perhaps most worrisome, growing numbers of companies — one third globally — are failing to generate high enough returns on investments to cover their cost of funding” [Bloomberg]. “Pooled together into a single snapshot, the data points show how the seven-year-old global growth model based on cheap credit from central banks is running out of steam.

“Japan’s financial watchdog has started examining high-frequency trading, algorithms and dark pools, asking brokers for information about the practices” [Japan Times].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 20, Extreme Fear (previous close: 19) [CNN]. One week ago: 13 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


Michael Burris, the market genius from The Big Short: “Fresh, clean water cannot be taken for granted. And it is not — water is political, and litigious” [New York Magazine]. “What became clear to me is that food is the way to invest in water. That is, grow food in water-rich areas and transport it for sale in water-poor areas. This is the method for redistributing water that is least contentious, and ultimately it can be profitable, which will ensure that this redistribution is sustainable.” Hmm.

“Piping in Poison” [The New Republic]. “In fact, the health and behavioral effects of lead from the early to the mid-20th century, as suggested by recent extrapolations from our current knowledge, were likely enormous. It’s estimated leaded pipe alone increased infant mortality by as much as 30 percent in some cities, and led to as much as a 25 percent rise in homicides.” Just… Yikes.

“A day after NBC News reported that none of the corroded lead pipes at the core of the Flint water crisis have been removed, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder admitted he has no immediate plans to replace them” [NBC]. “Instead, he said, the state is focusing on using phosphates in the water to coat the corroded pipes and keep the lead from leaching out.”

Police State Watch

“Death of Mentally Ill Inmate Locked in Hot Shower Until His Skin Fell Off Ruled Accidental” [Alternet].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Bronx Slave Market (1950)” [Viewpoint Magazine]. From 2015, but worth a read.


“Intelligent design without a creator? Why evolution may be smarter than we thought” [The Conversation]. “I don’t think invoking a supernatural creator can ever be a scientifically useful explanation. But what about intelligence that isn’t supernatural? Our new results, based on computer modelling, link evolutionary processes to the principles of learning and intelligent problem solving – without involving any higher powers. This suggests that, although evolution may have started off blind, with a couple of billion years of experience it has got smarter.”

Militia Watch

“A small group of holdouts continued the tense standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday, one day after eight others abandoned the site as federal, state and local authorities tightened their grip on the armed occupation” [USA Today].

“Oregon militiamen fell right into the feds’ trap: Sorry, liberals, the government was right to wait before taking them out” [Amanda Marcotte, Salon]. A little hippie-punching, as Susie Madrak calls it, along with “liberal” as a term of abuse (helpfully accompanied by “worrywarts” and “hand-wringing”). Fun stuff.

“Report: LaVoy Finicum, armed with a handgun, reached for his waistband just before he was shot” [WaPo]. The official story emerges (the CNN version).

“Three more arrests at Oregon refuge as some holdouts leave voluntarily” [Los Angeles Times]. Atmospheric; includes the non-official story.

Guillotine Watch

So Facebook squillionaire Chris Hughes whinges that TNR costs him “over $20 million,” and then buys a Manhattan town house for $23 million [Gawker]. A Harvard man.

News of the Wired

“Unity, Plurality and/or Hybridity? Assessing the Global Pattern of Political Cultures” [World Values Survey Books].

“Wearable sweat sensor paves way for real-time analysis of body chemistry” [Nature]. “Flexible plastic sensor sends molecular test results to a smartphone.”

* * *

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 (Tia):

Storm--blasted Russian Olive

Tia: “Storm-blasted Russian Olive.” Wow, that’s gorgeous!

* * *

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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. Carolinian

    That Roger Ailes is a real wit, huh?

    Also re Flint it has been reported that due to ancient record keeping they aren’t even sure where the lead pipes are. And a major cause for lead poisoning during the 20th century was leaded gasoline, something that doesn’t get talked about very much. Atmospheric lead in once heavily polluted cities like Detroit–now in the soil–may be exposing children to more lead than in Flint.

    1. Rhondda

      I read that ground fishbones (I bought mine from Amazon because no local garden shops had it) dug into the top 4-6″ or so of soil enables the opportunity for a chemical reaction such that when wetted by rain the lead is bound to an element in the fishbones and turned into something that the human body cannot “take up.” Remediation in place for city gardens! I believe the article I read was about 2 years back in the dreaded NYT. Not fishmeal — ground fishbones.

  2. Ivy

    Re Bronx Slave Market paper bag brigades:
    There are variations of that daily for day laborers around the greater Los Angeles area and numerous other cities.

  3. Jackie

    Despite the MSM fetish for Bill de Blasio, the man is about as “liberal” or progressive as HRC is. What he’s done for the NYPD despite being elected to not do exactly that, his deregulation of public housing, and his covering for the miserable Cuomo during his election means his support of HRC is unsurprising at best. So disappointed he’s our mayor and even more that he represents a “bold progressive NYC” when thats the worst kind of cultural identity politics (he has a Black wife, so he must be soooooo lefty).

  4. Carla

    ” I’m so happy Bush and his gang of grifters took $250 off some stupid squillionaires. ”

    Might that sentence be missing a “mil” ?

  5. Jim Haygood

    Andrew Napolitano makes the same claim as Bug Man DeLay — that Hillary’s gonna get indicted. But he ups the ante with a specific, serious allegation:

    Among the data that the FBI either found on the Clinton server or acquired from the State Department via its responses to Freedom of Information Act requests is a top-secret email that has been denominated Special Access Program.

    The crime here occurs when SAPs are exposed by residing in a nonsecure venue; it does not matter for prosecution purposes whether they fell into the wrong hands.

    SAPs are so sensitive that most of the FBI agents who are investigating Clinton lack the security clearances needed to view the SAP found among her emails. Most FBI agents have never seen a SAP.

    The recent revelations of the receipt by Clinton of a Special Access Program email, as well as cut and pasted summaries of state secrets on her server and on her BlackBerry, nearly guarantee that the FBI will recommend that the Department of Justice convene a grand jury and seek her indictment for espionage.


    Confirmation that SAP emails were received by Hillary is found in a 14 Jan 2016 letter from Inspector General of the Intelligence Community I. Charles McCullough III, posted in this news article:


    Looks like the Clintons’ four-decade crime spree may be approaching its endpoint.

    1. Carolinian

      Of course the decision to prosecute isn’t going to be up to the FBI. However should they leak evidence of provable lawbreaking then that is sure to be brought up by possible GOP nom Trump.

      Where is the Arkansas Project when you need it?

    2. steelhead23

      Isn’t it interesting that Ms Clinton is red-baiting Sen. Sanders to demonstrate to Democratic Party voters that she, not Sen. Sanders, is electable. Yet, the fact that she clearly violated federal laws regarding the management of state secrets is not being used by Sen. Sanders to make the case that he, not she, is the electable one. Hmm.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Here is Sanders problem.

        -people like the idea of Hillary and are attached to her
        -if Sanders attacks her, he will be lumped together with the GOP who tend to bungle more than just policy
        -for many Hillary supporters Sanders will be the enemy. The Colonel needs their vote.

        Clinton Inc. is odious enough to let it take care of itself.

        We might see a more fiery Colonel as the Democratic establishment panics. “Senator Sanders did you get gout from eating Jewish food? Senator Sanders did you know Jeff Davis’ right hand man was Jewish? Senator Sanders as a person of Jewish origin do you believe in the divinity of Jesus Christmas because your opponent Hillary does?”

        Where is the state of the race? It’s even in Iowa where the caucus format will favor Sanders and likely under polls under 30’s. New Hampshire is done, Hillary is resorting to debate scams, and Obama announced through meeting that Bernie is legitimate for black America which was considered to be wedded to Clinton Inc.

        But, but, but Bernie was a sheep dog in October when he said he was tired of those emails. Bernie might be tired, but Hillary is still dealing with the emails.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘Hillary is still dealing with the emails.’

          A delayed final release (currently set for Feb. 29th) is pending. A reporter has sued in federal court for an injunction forcing State Dept. to release them promptly.

          The appearance of State Dept foot-dragging suggests that they’ve got something to hide. This may be the juiciest batch of all — not that the SAPs found in the previous batch lack drama.

          1. ambrit

            The quote about her minions sending her the compromising e-mails sounds like Team Clinton is preparing to throw someone(s) under the campaign bus. At a farther remove, whoever ‘looked the other way’ while HC ‘privatized’ her e-mail stream will be the backup ‘patsy.’
            My favourite “Are you one of ‘them'” questions will be; “Senator Sanders. Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Zionist Party?”

            1. 3.14e-9

              One or more of her top aides may go to jail for their own activities, so why not take the fall for the boss and have a nice fat bank account waiting when they get out?

              1. ambrit

                The Clintons are arrivistes and nouveaux-riches. The probability is that they will ‘stiff’ their faithful minions. (Hillarys’ early life is interesting. Her dad was a successful small businessman. So, I must admit that she would really be second generation petit bourgeois. So much for scurrilous invective.)

          2. reslez

            All I want is for Hillary to be judged by the same standard she uses to judge Manning and Snowden. Throw the book at her.

            Convenient they’re dragging out the investigation until after the Democratic primaries will be decided. Trump will be the main beneficiary (and perhaps Biden, short term).

            1. nycTerrierist

              “All I want is for Hillary to be judged by the same standard she uses to judge Manning and Snowden. Throw the book at her. ”


            2. hunkerdown

              “All I want is for Hillary to be judged by the same standard she uses to judge Manning and Snowden. Throw the book at her.”

              From your fingers to every screen in the land.

        2. Darthbobber

          Sanders is no fool about the emails. The issue is out there, and him piling on would not add at all to the level of scrutiny, it would just make it easier to spin as a partisan thing. What needs to be said, he doesn’t need to say, and in fact fares better by ostentatiously NOT being the one to say it.

          1. ambrit

            Yes. Attacks on ones’ opponents should be done at arms length. Look at all the ‘Official’ Dems doing just that for “Her Inevitability.”
            If Hillary does go down to that sunless see this cycle, who do the ‘Official Dems’ have teed up to take her place?

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              No one. Biden was a trial balloon, but Team Blue looked to Hillary as a savior. On the eve of the 2014 election in Virginia, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine went to a rally of 20 people counting media and their own people. I think Team Blue is aware there is a problem. Naturally, they won’t blame themselves, and they aren’t smart enough to recognize a major Presidential loser probably isn’t the answer. What else does Team Blue have? The Democrats in Virginia can’t even win the State Senate for the lines they drew themselves.

              Democratic event after Democratic event resembles a crypt except with less people. There are no accomplished Congressmen, DWS was laughed out of the Senate race.

              As far as Governors, who cares? Unless those governors or large city mayors come out with a vision how would they make noise? Hillary gets away with being a Cypher because she hides behind loyalty and nostalgia for simpler times. An alternative token candidate won’t have those attributes. They will be questioned.

    3. grayslady

      Great links. Thanks. This needs wider coverage.

      Do you think Kerry will revoke her passport for espionage? /s

  6. allan


    Ms. Pelosi, who made history as the first woman to become speaker of the House, only to lose the majority and the gavel in 2010, has often said she has no regrets. Asked about her party’s losses at a news conference here on Wednesday, she recounted numerous achievements, in the last two years of President George W. Bush’s term, but especially under Mr. Obama.

    “It was all worth it,” Ms. Pelosi said. “It was fabulous.”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I believe there was a flurry of rumors after 2014 that the only reason the caucus didn’t toss her was no one was willing to take over the leadership. At this point, I do think think a Sanders Presidency would tolerate Pelosi. President Sanders who will I start referring to as the Colonel will be able to pressure someone to step up.

      With a Clinton Presidency, Pelosi will remain an irrelevant leader who squandered her chance to be more than a trivia question.

    2. RUKidding

      Of course, everything is faaabulous, sweetie darling, if you got as rich as Pelosi has during her term in office. Why should she give a sh*t if nothing really important got done under her tenure as Speaker? She’ll go down in history as the first female to get there, and after that, who cares?

      Impeachment is off the table, my dears. I’m rich! Buh-bye.

      1. katiebird

        Pelosi takes Single Payer off the table … And Bernie too?

        “The fact is that Bernie Sanders is enlarging the universe of people who are paying attention to the election and we hope that he will bring them to the polls in November to support the Democratic nominee,” she said.

        Pelosi gave a nod to the single-payer health care model, saying it was “a very popular idea” but said Democrats came together on another approach with Obamacare and touted that 18 million more Americans now have health insurance because of the law.

        But then Pelosi took another pointed swipe at Sanders’ plan, saying, “It’s no use having a conversation about something that’s not going to happen.”

        1. cwaltz

          Someone should remind Pelosi she wasn’t appointed House member for life which means she isn’t the arbiter of what is and isn’t going to happen.

          If she isn’t willing to help pass a “wildly popular idea” then I feel confident that California can find a representative the will.

          1. katiebird

            I hope SHE Feels the Bern! … I wish I lived in San Francisco, I’d like to take her off the table.

              1. ambrit

                Where does all this Patrician Money come from? Real estate speculation? Oh, that’s Dianne and Company.

          2. msfp

            I live in San Francisco, but am originally from the midwest. When I moved here, I was shocked at how unliberal SF is. It is of course liberal in the sense of social issues, but on economic issues it is fairly conservative. Pelosi will not lose a congressional election in SF because she is perfectly representative of the powerful wealthy in this city. There are economically liberal people in this city too, but they have weak influence in elections.

            California overall is less liberal than I realized until I moved here. There are pockets that are socially and economically liberal, but there are many that are Democrats because they are socially liberal and economically conservative. It is easy to forget that Reagan was governor of this state in the 60’s.

            1. cwaltz

              We had a congressperson here who was elected 9 times- until he wasn’t.

              It would take very little to remind people that Pelosi isn’t very liberal on social issues and in terms of money, I’m pretty sure she is doing what’s best for HER pockets, not those of average Americans.

  7. diptherio


    Japanese economy minister Akira Amari quits over bribery claims -BBC

    Mr Amari unexpectedly made the announcement at a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

    But he again denied personally receiving bribes from a construction company, as had been alleged by a Japanese magazine.

    The development will be seen as a significant blow for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    Mr Amari, who has been minister of state for economic and fiscal policy since late 2012, has been widely described as one of Mr Abe’s most trusted members of parliament.

    As Japan’s lead negotiator for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Mr Amari was expected to travel to New Zealand next week to sign the agreement.

    “His resignation will probably raise even more questions over Mr Abe’s economic policies – or Abenomics,” our correspondent added.

    “It may also raise further opposition within Japan to the TPP.”

    Mr Amari will be replaced by Nobuteru Ishihara, formerly the country’s environment minister.


    1. JTMcPhee

      …and what does and did Ishihara know about Fukushima, and when did he garner that information? Environment minister. Right. TPP would nugatorize his portfolio, good move to join the coup…

      1. Vatch

        Good question about Fukushima. Wikipedia’s page on Minister of the Environment (Japan) says that he was minister from Dec. 26, 2012, until Sept. 3, 2014. The disaster occurred in March, 2011, but of course, the cleanup (“cleanup”) was occurring while Ishihara was in office.

    2. ChrisFromGeorgia

      And I’d love to know whether he took any bribes from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or one of their proxies.

        1. lambert strether

          I thought I’d pinned the irony meter….

          If they’re indicting this guy for corruption, it’s not about corruption, unless it’s on a 1MDB scale. Clive?

          1. Clive

            Yep, he’s fallen out of favour in the LDP pantheon. If you had exposed then fired every cabinet minister on the take, there’d be no one left.

            My guess (it is an educated one but no official media either confirming or denying it) is that promises to payoff agricultural areas to compensate for what turned out to be pretty trivial impact from the TPP (the carve-outs can be seen from space) were inept even by Japanese political standards. And outside the TPP Amari delivered nothing substantive by way of measures to boost “economic revitalisation”. Even the TPP only robs Peter to pay Paul, in terms of net growth it is likely to be overall neutral for Japan and that’s best-case.

            Amari may have also been too aligned to big finance and resisted negative rates on deposits (these are pretty dire for bank earnings potential) when, if he’d have been a more skilful political operator he’d have sussed that in the game of which payoffs to take from which sector of business, the only answer which should ever be given (certainly in anything but the short-term) is “construction, construction, construction”. His departure so soon prior to today’s BoJ policy announcement may not be, erm, entirely coincidental.

    3. Clive

      Politicians in Japan sometimes take to wearing white gloves to show they have “clean hands” i.e. haven’t been taking bribes. I always thought that it would be more accurate to have said they wore the gloves to stop the ink from all the bank notes they had to count from rubbing off on their fingers.

      It’s simply shamelessly common. I once visited a friend in Tokyo’s chi-chi Den’ennchofu district and I saw a black Toyota V12 limo draw up nearby (the rare car piqued my attention). I asked if my friend knew who the guy in the back was. He was a former mayor of Tokyo. He couldn’t possibly have afforded to live there on his official salary.

  8. mle.detroit

    “although evolution may have started off blind, with a couple of billion years of experience it has got smarter.”
    And now it looks to be so smart, it can cure itself of its cancer — us.

  9. Vatch

    Watch out for the use of ‘science-based’ arguments during the coming TAFTA/TTIP

    Reminds me of “fact-based” books, movies, or television shows. Typically, the facts are used very sparingly.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Science-based” was one of the bullshit touchstones the Heritage Foundation provided to the Reaganauts as a part of the way to sell mal-faux-dys- regulation in that neoliberal seminal volume, “Mandate for Leadership,” the 1980 version… Meaning “science” from approved sources, sort of a “conservative” Lysenkoism.

  10. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re the Trump-Roger Ailes-FOX News-Megyn Kelly kayfabe regarding Trump’s reported nonparticipation in tonight’s Republican debate, perhaps tomorrow we will again have the good fortune to be treated to events similar to the kayfabe sale of “WWE Monday Night Raw” to Mr. Trump back on June 15, 2009.

    Mr. Ailes reportedly has substantial experience as a “media consultant” for Republican presidents and candidates dating back to Nixon in 1967. Ailes is credited with the “Orchestra Pit Theory” regarding sensationalist political coverage in the news media:

    …”If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls in the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?”


    Thanks for your trenchant observation, Lambert: …“Except at some point, kayfabe may be broken for the crowd, with real blood in the stands, not fake blood in the ring.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We had a couple of truly ugly incidents from random supporters but Trump could cover for it by being The Donald.

      I have in mind something really ugly, like security brutalizing a protester to a hospital care-level, egged on or even helped by the crowd, and overtly from the podium. Trump has never really tasted blood. It will be interesting to see what happens if and when he does (or decides to, and does). And the subsequent realpolitik in the political class.

      1. ambrit

        “Trump has never really tasted blood.” Really? He is a real estate developer, and they are quietly ruthless.
        As Americas’ experiences with Kissinger et. al. has shown, the American elites will put up with quite a bit of “energetically managing the lower orders” when it suits their purposes. If Trump gets too stroppy for them, ‘they’ can always do a Huey Long.
        Anyway, that’s a bit of an ad hominem attack, eh? I don’t see Trump as a reincarnation of Nero or Heliogabalus. He could be another Nerva. As to what would come after him, well.

  11. steelhead23

    Piping in Poison. Hopefully, potable water providers will be more circumspect in the future when they consider the best approaches to protecting users’ health. In DC, the Corps of Engineers added chloramines (basically chlorinated ammonia) to disinfect water in an aqueduct, in part because it remains in solution longer than would dissolved chlorine gas or hyperchlorate. It is also one hell of a lot more corrosive. Lead pipes are all over the place, but pose only a small risk to human health – if corrosion is controlled. If not, they can be terribly harmful. We need more water treatment plant operators who are familiar with aqueous chemistry – and fewer tied to the bottom line.

    1. JTMcPhee

      That is a lot more than negligence — more like mens rea, an intentional bad act. But who will experience any consequences, other than the mopes?

      1. hunkerdown

        Perhaps the parents of Detroit Public Schools children will learn the art of concrete cobblery.

  12. petal

    Chelsea Clinton’s fundraiser at Soul Cycle in NYC for her mum didn’t go over too well, apparently. The Daily Mail said about $72000 was raised, which figures to about 26 seats @the original $2700 a pop. They had to offer seats at $50 each (supposedly the original cost of a regular class session there) to try to fill the room. Ouch.

    Signs are sprouting up in this week and a half before the NH primary. Have seen a couple of Kasich signs in Hanover, heard an anti-Kasich radio ad this morning(by a Jeb! front group-Right to Rise)-I forced myself to listen to it, two Rand Paul signs, saw a single Carson bumper sticker on an SUV with VT tags. I have not seen any Trump signs. The anti-Kasich ad focused on him wanting to close military bases such as one in NH that “cost thousands of local jobs”, and how he supports the base closing decision making process, etc. It actually came off making him sound halfway responsible instead of supporting a bloated organisation for no good reason. Go figure. I am sooo looking forward to all of this being over. I have been surfing NH commercial radio (taking one for the team!) in search of that Ivanka Trump ad but have not heard it.

    1. fresno dan

      thanks for that!
      Just reinforces my despising Jebbie….wasteful military spending while spouting off about balanced budgets, while yammering on about how responsible and courageous you are to make ‘hard’ choices.
      Why O why can’t our media expose that Hilary and Jebbie are separated Siamese twins???? (but that Hilary got both testicles?)

  13. Jim Haygood

    The Onion … not so funny anymore:

    Many news outlets covered Univision Communications’ purchase last week of a stake in The Onion, the world’s leading news publication. According to NPR, Univision bought a 40 percent controlling interest in the company, and also acquired the option to buy the remainder of The Onion in the future.

    But what’s gotten no attention at all is that Haim Saban, Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan and financial supporter, is Univision’s co-owner, chairman, and CEO. Saban and his wife, Cheryl, are Hillary Clinton’s top financial backers, having given $2,046,600 to support her political campaigns and at least $10 million more to the Clinton Foundation, on whose board Cheryl Saban sits.

    Beyond Saban’s deep connections to the Clintons, Onion staffers likely have taken note of his statement that “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”


    Isn’t that lovely … even parody comes with an [undisclosed] agenda.

    1. fresno dan

      well, most citizens are represented by only 2 senators, while Israel, apparently not even a US born citizen, has at least 100 senators representing it…

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, favored states are people too! Just like corporations! I mean, all policy discussions are couched, like, “France did X,” and “Ukraine complained that Y,” and of course “Israel demands Z,” or is it $, these older eyes can’t always distinguish the fine print. It’s not inappropriate personification/reification/hypostatization if it’s “policy,” right?

  14. ewmayer

    Re. Lead-pipe cinches and other flinty-eyed tales of high-level graft: Hey, there’s a reason the word ‘plumbing’ and the chemical-element symbol for lead share the same Latin root. The neolibs should accentuate the positive and spin such mass-poisonings as ‘historically accurate water system science.’

  15. Rhondda

    “Death of Mentally Ill Inmate Locked in Hot Shower Until His Skin Fell Off Ruled Accidental”

    Accidental, my ass. What a hideous crime. I am sickened. I can’t believe these sons of bitches get away with these despicable crimes against powerless prisoners again and again. When will there be some small semblance of justice within the Justice System?!

    1. polecat

      when the so-called ‘just-us’ system completely collapses…….. then it morphs into vigilante justice……

      1. JTMcPhee

        So many movie memes to reference — “The Postman,” maybe? The prequel being “Soylent Green…”

        “It could never happen HERE…”

        By the way, loved the video of the shooting of Patriot Linicum. That’s going to stir the pot some. Can’t wait to see what that brings…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          They got what they wanted; a martyr for the (bad) cause. And the FBI notched its gun (unlike the previous Bundy encounter, which having been allowed to fester, led to this one).

          1. ambrit

            Yeah, like all ‘good’ enforcers, the Feds had some lower level minions do the dirty work.
            Do you see the parallel here with a certain 1920s German politician who tried something similar and made tons of political propaganda out of it? Ammon Bundy mentioned, in his “it’s time to go home now” speech that it was now “time to move on to the courts.” That’s exactly what the afore mentioned German politician did. In fact, the German wrote an influential book while in prison, and spun it all off into a career of evil.
            How the Department of Justice handles Bundys’ trial will tell the tale. (What are the odds he gets sent to Gauntanamo?)

  16. allan

    Florida Democrats have clear choice in race to replace Rubio [AP]

    Rubio is giving up his seat to seek the Republican nomination for president, and it’s targeted by Democrats hoping to regain a majority in the chamber. The two major candidates are U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a bomb thrower who has endeared himself to the far left of his party, and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a former Republican who has sided with the GOP on issues like loosening banking regulations, weakening President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and forming a committee to investigate the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

    The Democratic establishment is behind Murphy, seeing him as the stronger general election candidate in a state that tends to be moderate, while Grayson says he’s the only true Democrat in the race. …

    Murphy sided with Republicans on several key bills opposed by Obama and most House Democrats. He supported of the Keystone XL pipeline; voted to condemn Obama for the exchange of American prisoner Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and supported a resolution seeking an investigation on whether the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups.

    Murphy also supported a bill sponsored by potential Republican opponent Rep. Ron DeSantis seeking to rein in Obama’s use of executive orders on issues like health care and immigration.

    Dear DNC/DSCC/DCCC: after you’ve destroyed the Party,
    nobody in D.C. will have any need to hire you as lobbyists.
    So, in your own self interest, try to support a Democrat once in a while.

  17. 3.14e-9

    RE: Nina Turner video

    This is a MUST SEE! Thanks for posting, Lambert.

    Nina Turner nails Chuck Todd’s b—s to this chair, and her take-down of the Clinton campaign is stunning in its clarity.

    When I first heard her speak last November, my immediate thought was, HERE’S HIS VP. Others are thinking along those lines, too. What do others here think?

  18. 3.14e-9

    Compliments to Tia on the photo. Reminds me of stepping outside on a sunny, sub-zero day, when you take in that first lungful of frozen air. Beautiful.

  19. Darthbobber

    This bit from Sabato’s piece is probably right, and pretty funny:
    “However, should Iowa turn into a decisive victory for Sanders, followed by the same in New Hampshire and closer-than-expected Clinton wins in South Carolina and Nevada, there will still be no closing ranks around Sanders. Instead, telephones will ring off the hook in the Biden household. And if the vice president says no, then phones will jingle at whatever hotel John Kerry is staying in around the globe. Kerry still has his White House ambitions after a close 2004 run, and substituting one Obama secretary of state for another makes some sense.”-Oh, God…..

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think “there will still be no closing ranks around Sanders” is accurate, unless Sanders makes some pretty ugly deals.

        I wonder if Joe Lieberman would run?

        1. Darthbobber

          This could be Scoop Jackson’s big moment, did he not suffer from the drawback of being dead. But if they’re willing to consider Kerry…

          Or is longtime Clinton family friend Bloomberg the ultimate fallback? The establishment as third-party, having managed an unprecedented failure on both sides of the duopoly at once?

  20. ProNewerDeal

    AFAICT, H Clinton is the Most Effective Evil (c) Glen Ford, in terms of being the Most Effective Killer of MedicareForAll, for her recent BS where she blatantly misrepresents the Sanders MedicareForAll is, saying MedicareForAll will even kill existing MedicareFor65+, saying it will raise taxes as if it won’t eliminate private insurance premiums/other costs, etc.

    Even Rafael “Ted” Cruz, other R Pres candidates, FauxNews, etc; are not savaging MedicareForAll as viciously as H Clinton.

    What do yall think?

  21. ProNewerDeal

    fw http://politicalcompass.org/uselection2016

    This site authors claim to be UK Political Science Profs, they analyze the candidates on a 2D political spectrum, economics on the x-axis, authoritarianism on the y-axis.

    Per this chart, H Clinton is the LO2E compared to the (other) Repubs, but H Clinton is a “Right Authoritarian”, & closer to the Rs than she is to Sanders. Sanders is in the “Left Libertarian” quadrant, close to where Kuninich, Dr. Jill Stein, & Nader were in prior election charts. I am surprised the 4 Rs rated (Trump, Cruz, J Bush, Rubio) are very close on the chart. I figured given Trump’s (extreme even for Rs) fascist/racist rhetoric, Trump would be noticeably worse on the authoritarian y-axis; it turns out all 4 Rs are close to the authoritarian extreme.

    Would love to read your take on this chart. Cheers

  22. sd

    Funny bank deals are back in Iceland…..
    In November 2014, Icelandic bank Landsbankinn – nationalised after the financial crash of 2008 – sold its 31.2% share in credit-card company Borgun for a price of just under ISK 2.2 billion (approx. €15.4 million).

    The recent acquisition of Visa Europe by Visa Inc. is likely to see the new owners of these Borgun shares profit by millions of euros. These new owners include the uncle and cousin of Icelandic Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson.

  23. ProNewerDeal

    On the yesterday’s links’ article, Charles Pierce “Donald Trump Is Not the Biggest Extremist of the 2016 Campaign”

    Pierce just claims how Cruz is worse than Trump, & notes how Cruz is theocratic, & has some loony religious leaders as backers.

    OTOH, Trump has demonstrated fascistic, racist, & dictatorish tendencies. Trump has berated journalists, cheered assault of anti-Trump voters protesting his rally. Trump has called for separate, unequal, 3rd class citizen, Unconstitutional treatement of certain USian demographic groups, notably claiming USian Muslims would not be allowed in the US, & US-born USian citizen Latinos (& others?) of undocumented noncitizen parents would be deported.

    What is the argument for Cruz being Even Worse (GO2E aka Greater Of 2 Evils?) than Trump? Am I missing something?

  24. capo regime

    Apropos of nothing in particular but generally accurate overheard young woman on D.C. Metro today: Its hard to “Lean In” when you are bent over.

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