2:00PM Water Cooler 1/29/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“But as Hazledine points out, [reduced tariffs on New Zealand exports to other TPP countries] tells us nothing about who would capture the benefit of those tariff cuts: New Zealand producers, consumers in the importing countries, or middlemen? It depends on who has market power at various points in the supply chain, and generalising about that is just silly” [New Zealand]. See Barry Coates, Rod Oram, Dr Geoff Bertram and Professor Tim Hazledine, “THE ECONOMICS OF THE TPPA” (PDF).


Republican Debate

“7th Republican debate transcript, annotated: Who said what and what it meant” [WaPo].

Picture of Jebbie’s cowboy boots, with embossed “JEB” (no exclamation point) in gold. He tweeted this [Wall Street Journal, “Thursday’s Republican Debates — Live Blog].

“Fact check: The seventh Republican debate” [USA Today].

Rubio went too far in claiming that Clinton “wants to put Barack Obama on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.” Clinton only said that she would take an Iowa resident’s appointment suggestion “under advisement.”

Really? I’d say USA Today fell for Clinton’s lawyerly parsing, and left out the good stuff in the middle. Here it is:

Rubio was referring to a comment that Clinton made Tuesday in response to a voter question during a campaign rally in Decorah, Iowa. Here is the question and her response (around the 7:40 mark) courtesy of Live Satellite News:

Questioner, Jan. 26: The next president will probably appoint several members of the Supreme Court. Will you consider appointing Obama?

Clinton: Wow! What a great idea! … He may have a few other things to do. … I would certainly take [your suggestion] under advisement. I mean, he’s brilliant and he can set forth an argument, and he was a law professor, so he’s got all the credentials. Now, we do have to get a Democratic Senate to get him confirmed.

It pains me when Rubio is correct, but when he says that Clinton “wants to put Barack Obama on the Supreme Court,” he’s right; that’s exactly what she said. “Do you want to go out for Chinese?” “Wow! What a great idea!” That means I want to, even if I get all polite and qualify it. (Of course, if I’m being ironic, it means just the opposite, but last I checked, irony was not trope #1 on the campaign trail.)


“Bernie Sanders’s health care plan is underfunded by almost $1.1 trillion a year, a new analysis by Emory University health care expert Kenneth Thorpe finds” [Vox]. The numbers all depend on the market power of the single payer, I would say, and that’s subjective; anyhow, every other industrialized, civilized country is able to provide universal health care. America, at least in this regard, is truly exceptional. (Meanwhile, here’s PNHP’s figuring). Note: The article describes the Sanders campaign interacting as if they were having a serious policy conversation. No. This is a political campaign. Good faith should not be assumed.)


“Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Trolls Trump: ‘I Bailed You Out Twice'” [HuffPo]. Via Twitter, naturally:

“New York Times Gets it Wrong: Bernie Sanders Not ‘Top Beneficiary of Outside Money'” [Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept]. “The newspaper calculated totals using only “independent expenditures” spent by Super PACs. … To debunk the claim that the nurses [National Nurses Union are the top Sanders contributor] are outspending all pro-Clinton outside groups, one merely has to look at six months of spending and limited independent expenditure disclosures by the primary pro-Clinton Super PACs.” Now here’s the Times hit piece article:

“Bernie Sanders Tops His Rivals in Use of Outside Money” [Nick Confessore, New York Times]. Confessore has done good work in the past, so what did Clinton do? Offer him a seat on the Supreme Court?

“Ron and Rand Paul’s top campaign aides, led by the husband of Ron Paul’s granddaughter, bribing and extorting a crooked Tea Party Iowa politician to endorse the “Ron Paul rEVOLution”—which turns out to have been little more than a mirage built on fraud, oligarch cash, and the credulous fantasies of a few thousand pimply college-aged waffendweebs” [Mark Ames (but then you knew that), Pando Daily]. Unlocked for 48 hours.

The Voters

“We think a different approach is necessary, one that links, rather than counterposes, class and race. The progressive movement should expand from a vision of racism as violence done solely to people of color to include a conception of racism as a political weapon wielded by elites against the 99 percent, nonwhite and white alike” [The Nation].

“Trump: candidate of truth” [I cite]. Well worth a read:

As Trump makes explicit the power of money in the contemporary US, he facilitates, stimulates, and circulates enjoyment (jouissance). Trump openly expresses the racism, sexism, contempt, and superiority that codes of civility and political correctness insist be repressed. This expression demonstrates the truth of economic inequality: civility is for the middle class, a normative container for the rage of the dispossessed and the contempt of the dispossessors. The .1 % need not pretend to care.


Some of the underpaid and exploited enjoy through Trump. Not only does he give them permission to express their racism, sexism, and hate, but they are already accustomed to imagining themselves with his power, firing and degrading a wide array of those with whom they disagree. His television shows taught them to do this, instilling in them practices of judgment and dismissal ready to move out of prime time and into the political sphere.

And especially:

Liberals enjoy their outrage. Here Trump confirms for them their rightness in despising the Republican base, itself only seldom anything other than their own disgust with the working class. As they use Trump as a catalyst for their own good feeling, liberals repeat his practices of contempt in another register. Not only is he a candidate they can enjoy hating but he enables them to extend their hate to all the non-millionaires supporting Trump: they really must be idiots.


The Trail

“How the Iowa caucuses work, part 1: The basics” [Bleeding Heartland]. “On the Democratic side, the Iowa caucuses are entirely a battle for delegates.” The mechanics need to be read to be believed; it’s a game with numbers, but not a numbers game. The post is well worth a read. This local’s prediction:

The viability threshold and the fixed number of county delegates for each precinct are major reasons why the Iowa Democratic caucus results do not necessarily reflect the raw number of supporters who turned out for each candidate.

For the same reasons, pockets of heavy support in Iowa are less valuable for a Democratic candidate than support spread evenly across the state. This aspect of the caucus system informed my prediction that Clinton will outperform her polling numbers on Monday night. My hunch is that Sanders supporters will tend to be more clustered into a smaller number of precincts, where there is an upper limit to the county convention delegates that can be won.

“A string of wins in small and midsize counties could overwhelm strong performance in the cities. Both campaigns use sophisticated modeling to try to figure out where they’ll get the biggest bang for their buck, while also trying to reach into as many corners of the state as possible” [Wall Street Journal, “In Iowa, Some Votes Outweigh Others”]

“A good deal of evidence suggests that Sanders has assembled a rather different kind of voter coalition than any primary challenger of the past generation — that he is the rare “progressive” candidate who can actually win over white working-class voters” [Jacobin]. “In Iowa, a September Quinnipiac poll showed Sanders with a nineteen point lead over voters making less than $30,000, while Clinton led voters making over $100,000 by fourteen points. This week another Quinnipiac survey gave Sanders a four point lead overall, while showing income divisions sharpening even further.”

FIRE sector accounts for 21.5% of Ohio’s GNP [Bloomberg]. So I wonder how geographically dispersed they are, a propos our discussion in comments on Des Moines.

Politics ain’t beanbag: “Operatives from Bernie Sanders’ campaign have donned Culinary union pins and secured access to employee areas inside Strip hotels to try to garner votes for the Feb. 20 caucus, sources confirm” [Ralston Report]. Case in point: “[T]he casino politicking is a reminder — and an ironic one — of how the Clintons made their way inside various Strip resorts to try to get to workers in 2008 after the Culinary endorsed Barack Obama.” Still, sloppy and dumb. Insurgents must be above suspicion.

“Clinton’s next big test will come on March 1–Super Tuesday–where most observers are predicting Clinton will have a solid command of Southern states like Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia” [Talking Points Memo]. Populism did used to be a thing in the South, though….

“Left out of the media hype, [veteran Democrats and some Hillary Clinton supporters] argue, is that Clinton already has more than half of all Democratic super-delegates — 359 of the 712 outstanding, according to an Associated Press count — before any votes have been cast” [The Hill]. In other words, the real story is that the establishment thinks Clinton’s got this one in the bag because they put it there?

“Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far)” [New York Times]. What an awesome resource!

On Charles Koch, squillionaire: “Looking for a new puppet.” I hate it when Trump’s right!

“Video: Protestor throws tomatoes at Donald Trump mid-speech” [BGR News].

Trump responded in typical fashion, first stating calmly, “Get him out!”. But ever the performer, Trump then proceeded to butter up the audience by putting on a performance akin to a WWE promo. “Ready?”, Trump asked the crowd, knowingly revving them up. “Are you ready?” he asked once again before responding with an emphatic, “GET HIM OUT OF HERE!!”

And naturally, the crowd cheered wildly in approval.

“In a matchup between Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, adding Bloomberg’s name to the ballot would trim Clinton’s lead over Trump to six percentage points from 10… In a Trump versus Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders matchup, adding Bloomberg would erode Sanders’ lead over Trump to seven points from 12” [Reuters].

The Hill

“Just 33 seats out of 435 [in the House] are truly competitive, including 27 held by Republicans and six held by Democrats” [WaPo]. “Democrats would need to hold all six of their seats and pick up all 27 from Republicans — 12 of which the Cook team says “lean Republican.” And even then it wouldn’t be enough.” 2010 was a disaster for Democrats because it put redistricting in Republican hands. Thing is, one of the basic, blocking-and-tackling things that political parties must do is win votes, elections, and seats. The Democrats failed to do this in 2010 and 2014, and their response, in essence is to fire the voters.

Stats Watch

GDP, Q4 2015: “Consumer spending is the central driver of the economy but is slowing, at least it was during the fourth quarter” [Econoday]. “There are definitely points of concern in this report, especially the weakness in exports and business investment, but it’s the resilience in the consumer, despite a soft holiday season, that headlines this report and should help confirm faith in the domestic strength of the economy.” However: “This advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision. (See caveats below.) Please note that historically advance estimates have turned out to be little more than wild guesses” [Econintersect].

International Trade in Goods, November 2015: “The nation’s trade gap in goods widened 2.0 percent in December… The rising shortfall reflects further contraction in exports especially food and capital goods” [Econoday]. “Exports fell 1.0 percent in the month and compared to last year are down 10.4 percent. Imports were unchanged in the month with imports of industrial supplies rising and imports of autos showing special strength. Imports of consumer goods, however, fell sharply for a second month while imports of capital goods also declined, in declines that betray a defensive outlook for the nation’s businesses”

Chicago PMI, January 2016: “[A]ccelerating sharply to 55.6 in January after hitting the brakes in December at 42.9. New orders are at their best level since January last year while backlogs, though still contracting, posted substantial improvement. Production is also at its highest in a year” [Econoday]. “Negatives include another contraction for employment, which however still improved in January, and another contraction for prices paid that reflects commodity price weakness.”

Employment Cost Index, Q4 2015: “Wage inflation is very likely building based on the employment cost index which in the fourth quarter rose an outsized 0.6 percent for a second quarter in a row. Benefits rose 0.7 percent in the quarter which is a sizable increase for this component” [Econoday]. “For the hawks, who are always on the watch to head off inflationary flashpoints, this report is meaningful and will offer debate points for further rate hikes. For Fed policy in general, this report is positive and supports expectations that wage inflation will help offset continued commodity deflation.”

Consumer Sentiment, January 2016: “There’s been very little impact on the U.S. consumer from global volatility and losses in the domestic stock market” [Econoday].

Fodder for the Bears: “Wall St. up as weak GDP raises hope of slower rate hikes” [Reuters]. What’s wrong with this picture?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25, Extreme Fear (previous close: 20) [CNN]. One week ago: 13 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


“Montana Senator Max Baucus tucked into the Affordable Care Act a special section that expands Medicare to the people of Libby and the surrounding area who were poisoned by W. R. Grace’s deadly mine causing mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease” [PNHP]. “Shouldn’t the people of Flint, all of them not just the children, have Medicare also for life? We must do much more, but, at least, we can start here.”

“Michigan governor appoints Flint whistleblowers to remedy water crisis” [WaPo]. Synder created the 17-member “Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee,” which has “three years to report their recommendations” [WaPo]. Problem solved! “The committee includes Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, who has extensively studied the issue in Flint and elsewhere, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who is credited with bringing the problem to the public’s attention after state agencies initially dismissed her concerns” [WNEM]. So far as I can tell, there are no non-credentialled activists on the issue from Flint.

“Gov. Rick Snyder: Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee will support long-term needs in Flint” [Michigan.gov]. Here’s the make-up of Snyder’s committee:

The Coordinating Committee will be composed of the following 17 members, who shall serve an initial term expiring on Dec. 31, 2018:

The director of Office of Urban Initiatives within the Executive Office of the Governor;
The deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security within the Michigan Department of State Police;
The director of the Department of Environmental Quality, or his or her designee;
The director of the Department of Health and Human Services, or his or her designee;
The director of the Department or Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or his or her designee;
The state treasurer, or his or her designee;
The superintendent of public instruction, or his or her designee;
The elected mayor of the City of Flint, who shall be appointed to the Coordinating Committee by the Governor;
Three additional representatives of the City of Flint who shall be submitted by the Flint mayor and appointed to the Coordinating Committee by the Governor;
Three representatives of Genesee County who shall be submitted by the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and appointed to the coordinating Committee by the Governor;
Three subject matter experts who shall be appointed to the Coordinating Committee by the Governor.

After the initial appointments, members of the FWIACC will serve three-year terms. The council will be asked to create an incident action plan, review recommendations made by the independent Flint Water Task Force, establish routine protocols for communications at the local, executive and legislative levels, make recommendations regarding the health impacts of the affected population, and assess the status of infrastructure and determine feasible actions for upgrading Flint’s water system.

I’m not getting a good feeling about this.

“Document: Snyder Admin Trucked In Clean Water for State Building in January 2015” [Progress Michigan].

“The layer of sand Honeywell has applied to the Onondaga Lake bottom to keep toxic mercury and other chemicals in place has failed at least three times since 2012, spilling wastes onto areas of the lake that had been relatively clean” [Syracuse Post-Standard]. “‘Essentially Honeywell’s cleanup efforts put contaminated muck into deep lake areas that didn’t have to be cleaned up,” said Alma Lowry, an environmental attorney working with the Onondaga Nation. ‘The stuff basically slid downhill like a landslide or avalanche.'” Reminds me of landfill lines up in my sacrifice zone in Maine. The landfill operator says: “The liner is guaranteed to last fifty years!” The Penobscot Nation rep says, very drily, “Our time-frame is a little longer than that” (seven generations, IIRC).

Police State Watch

“Hackers post private files of America’s biggest police union” [Guardian]. “Hundreds of contracts between regional authorities and local fraternal order of police lodges across the country were posted online as part of the hack. Some such deals have been sharply criticised as shielding police officers from prosecution or disciplinary action following the excessive use of force.” Hmm. I wonder if there’s anything about police pension funds?

“Chicago Police Hid Mics, Destroyed Dashcams To Block Audio, Records Show” [DNAinfo Chicago]. For baldfaced effrontery, Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo’s reaction is hard to beat: “How they can figure out what is mechanical or what is human error, I’d like to know.” Look at the maintenace logs, which is what DNA Info did.

“Chicago police officer will sue estate of teen he fatally shot” [WGN].


“Since 2003, state and local governments from Alabama to Tennessee have given more than $120 million worth of taxpayer funds to at least seven major firearms companies” [Mother Jones]. “Most of those subsidies—nearly $100 million—have been pledged just over the past three years by states seeking to lure gun producers from the Northeast, where new firearm regulations have angered industry leaders.”


“Wounded Warrior Project Denies Claims of Waste, Lavish Spending” [Military.com]. “According to 2014 tax records, the Wounded Warrior Project spent 34 percent of its total expenses on fundraising while only doling out 60 percent for direct care.”

“The admiral in charge of Navy intelligence has not been allowed to see military secrets for years” [WaPo]. Because he may or may not be involved in a corruption case. Doesn’t the Navy need intel? Is this any way to run an empire?

“DC Bar punishing whistleblower for revealing criminal activity” [Undernews (Furzy Mouse)].

Militia Watch

“With the Oregon standoff’s leaders either dead or in custody, a Georgia man has emerged overnight as the new leader of the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge” [Talking Points Memo]. “Like many of the men who have been holed up at the Oregon refuge for more than three weeks, Patrick was involved in the 2014 Cliven Bundy ranch standoff against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.” Idea: Arm the militia moderates!

Class Warfare

“What Americans think about feminism today” [WaPo]. “A national survey by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation finds 6 in 10 women and one-third of men call themselves a feminist or strong feminist, with roughly 7 in 10 of each saying the movement is empowering. Yet over 4 in 10 Americans see the movement as angry, and a similar portion say it unfairly blames men for women’s challenges. Younger women are more optimistic about movement across a variety of measures, and more than 4 in 10 say they’ve expressed their views about women’s rights on social media.”

“Uber for welfare” [Politico]. “A bold proposal to use the ‘gig economy’ to reboot the safety net.” The nice thing, of course, about the gig economy is that there’s no self-organizing by working people at all. And you’re required to take a gig.

“Will those who led the financial system into crisis ever face charges?” [ABA Journal]. By Betteridge’s Law, no, but it’s nevertheless good to see a long profile of Bill Black in the decidedlly not fringe ABA Journal.

“Minimum wage employers are now acting like cults who demand our hearts and souls as well as just our time. It’s obsessive and frankly sinister” [Telegraph]. “Individuals earning barely more than minimum wage are required to adopt a constantly cheery persona not just for the benefit of customers, but also to appease their bosses.”

News of the Wired

“Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang, founded in 1959, is one of the world’s biggest art factories. It employs about 4,000 people, including 800 to 900 of North Korea’s most talented artists” [New York Times]. “The studio produces a variety of works, including most of the propaganda art and sculptures that dot North Korea.”

“Will Driverless Cars Become a Dystopian Nightmare?” [National Journal]. Of course not. This is America.

“Here’s Why Writing Things Out By Hand Makes You Smarter” [Business Insider] 2014, but the crapification aspect is interesting…

“[Giphy’s] rise has helped make the [*.gif] format a culturally relevant (some might say vital) communication tool—a mostly wordless way to emote via text, Snapchat, Gchat, or e-mail [Bloomberg].

“Earth is actually made up from two planets which came together in a head-on collision that was so violent it formed the Moon, scientists have concluded” [Telegraph].

“The curtain is slowly coming down on the time when one introvert quietly writing code could build something that flies better than anything else. It’s the extroverts who are running the startup, or even the major open source code project, and the focus is less on DIY and more on pulling together stock parts” [Medium]. “But the Mozilla foundation’s HTTPS requirement is, to me, the real end of the DIY era.” Since HTTPS requires you to fill out registration forms….

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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 (Marin T):


I don’t think this is from Maine.

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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. ambrit

        Shows you how much I know. The Maritime Provinces do have their own time zone. Lambert must be visiting friends up in St. John.

        1. Propertius

          If it were St. John, it would have posted at 12:30 (“a half-hour later in Newfoundland,” as the CBC says). I only know this because Dr. Mrs. Propertius is a proud Newfie.

          1. ambrit

            My oh my. Incrementalism in Canada! Does this mean he was out on Oak Island searching for treasure?
            (Thanks for the info. I never would have guessed.)

        1. ambrit

          Technically true. It should be one though. Originally it was part of Massachusetts, no? Doing a Google of the history of Maine I find a quite convoluted tale. Much of Maine see sawed back and forth between England, France, Holland, and Massachusetts up until Statehood in 1820. I particularly liked “New Ireland.”
          The Maritime Provinces should conjoin with New England and form a separate and unitary polity.

  1. allan

    ” a head-on collision that was so violent it formed the Moon ”

    Youtube link or it didn’t happen.

  2. RP

    “Minimum wage employers are now acting like cults who demand our hearts and souls as well as just our time. It’s obsessive and frankly sinister” [Telegraph]. “Individuals earning barely more than minimum wage are required to adopt a constantly cheery persona not just for the benefit of customers, but also to appease their bosses.”

    Um, no, they want you to be friendly to customers so they’ll come back and your job still exists next month. The chanting/dancing/”We Are Wal-Mart!” aspects are truly awful. They’re also almost exclusively the hallmark of giant corporations.

    Small businesses who have no choice but to pay minimum wage because of economy of scale and cost of doing business should not be lumped in with the soulless corporate environment. I’ve worked in both. If you big-time your employees like a wannabe Fortune 500 CEO, the good ones will leave and the ones left will work just hard enough not to get fired until they find a job with less BS.

    Why not make a law that any business with over 10 employees in which the highest-paid employee makes more than 2.5x the lowest-paid employee pays a prohibitive tax? Then guys earning 6- or 7-figures whose job it is to break the will of the untermensch for an extra few % profit will cost more than they’re worth? Just thinking out loud…

    1. GlobalMisanthrope

      Regarding your assertion that “[s]mall businesses who have no choice but to pay minimum wage because of economy of scale and cost of doing business,” this “logic” is precisely what’s wrong with business “thinking” in the U.S. today.

      If a business can’t afford to pay its employees a living wage, then it is not a viable business. Period.

      It is completely unethical to build ones business on the immiseration of others. And it’s terrible policy like minimum wage law that institutionalizes the injustice by providing a rationalization for it.

      Laws that protect workers negotiating for wages and other benefits are the answer.

      1. PQS


        Plus, why is it that small businesses can’t get all the “tax credits” and assistance from local government to expand/hire more workers/improve their infrastructure. Why is it only when the Big Boxes come around that suddenly there’s all kinds of money for “investment”? Whatever happened to community investment?

        I watched a documentary about how WM hollowed out a town and this was the exact complaint of the hometown hardware store owner….”WM got a new road, new stoplight, and all their utilities and infrastructure just for coming to town. We’ve been here for 50 years and never got anything like that.”

        1. GlobalMisanthrope

          Exactly right. A guy I knew back in the late ’80s started using Walmart as a verb, as in “that town got Walmarted.”

          It’s amazing to me that after all these years and all the small towns destroyed people still don’t seem to understand what happened, even in those self-same towns. At Christmas a relative by marriage visiting from southern Indiana was bemoaning a Walmart’s closing near where he lives. When I said that it might actually allow for an economy to return to the area, he was mystified. To his credit, once I explained that it wasn’t just the grocer and the hardware store that Walmart closed down, but the sign painter, the printer, the glazer, the small appliance repair guy and on and on, he actually said something like, “Wow, I never thought about it like that.”

          But how is it that so many people have apparently never thought about it like that? I find that shocking. What accounts for the complete obliviousness abroad in the land?

          1. ambrit

            So many people have never thought about the economics of Wal Mart because ‘they’ have never been taught how to think in the schools.

        2. Enquiring Mind

          Wal-Mart hollowed out so many main streets and towns around the country, got benefits, and has employees that need public assistance to live. They ruined many lives, but economists will brush that off as externalities as they focus on a narrow set of data that says the communities are doing better through the lower prices.

          If there are McDonalds outlets inside Wal-Mart stores, does that make them McJob McJobs?

          Reason #47 why I hate so-called supply-side economics. I’ve always viewed the ‘theory’ as a rationalization of bad behavior. Compound that with notions of market self-policing and the theater becomes even more absurd. The social fabric continues to fray.

      2. jsn

        The missing component that really gives these laws teeth it an employment policy that really targets full employment. We haven’t had this since the Johnson administration and the effects have been in evidence since the late seventies. Strong minimum wage laws AND full employment.

        1. GlobalMisanthrope

          Full employment measures improve the situation, true. Still, I’d rather have the right to negotiate with my employer over the conditions of my employment. Otherwise it seems to me that the myth of our needing them more than they need us just gets perpetuated.

    2. Yves Smith

      Horsehit. I run a small business and I do not pay minimum wage. I pay more that I “have” to and it’s worth it all day. You get much better work, more productivity, more loyalty and less turnover if you ante up. Those who pay minimum wage are greedy, lousy managers.

  3. ambrit

    “Arm the militia moderates.” Surely you jest. They’re already armed!
    Anyway, todays’ armed militia moderates are the State Security Apparatchiks. After all, moderate anythings are assumed to be pro America. Look at Syria if you doubt me.

      1. ambrit

        That’s allright. With Lambert, it’s a given. (I believe the proper keyboard method is Control-Hashtag-S, or Default to Snark.)

  4. James Levy

    On the lack of competitive seats: we’re back to the problem of Team Blue (the party apparatchiks and safe seat office holders) versus the Democratic Party (someone called it the brand, and that makes a lot of sense). Team Blue types aren’t losing their jobs, even if the roof caves in on the Democratic Party. Their incentive is to stay on the good side of their donors, not the voters. I used to tell my students in a government class I taught that political parties and individual candidates need a critical mix of votes and money. That used to be more true than it is now. Parties still need voters. But those who make up Team Blue just need contributors (to their campaigns, journals, think tanks, and media outlets).

    It’s like the ownership of my beloved baseball team. We fans think that the point of having a ball club is to win the World Series. Not so. The purpose of owning a team is to line the pockets of the owners. Winning is nice, and if you are smart it boosts revenue tremendously and lines your pocket even deeper. But it’s hazardous to adopt the old adage that you have to spend money to make money. Team Blue, like the Mets, would rather just rake it in and hope for the best. Why take a risk when you know you can’t lose by just doing the minimum while hoping the other guy falls flat on his face so you can get the maximum reward for the minimum cost.

    1. Tom Allen

      Campaign in poetry, govern in prose; campaign in prose, govern in exile.

      But as you say, politicians make a pretty penny whether they’re in office or out. So prosaic campaigns that don’t upset donors make sense.

  5. grayslady

    I was naturally suspicious about the Vox article (disclosure: I never willingly read Vox, primarily because of its association with Markos Moulitsas), so I looked up information on Dr. Thorpe. Turns out he was Bill Clinton’s Assistant Director of Health Policy at the Dept of Health and Human Services–working with Hillary, it would seem, to draft an earlier version of Romneycare/Obamacare. Also, in spite of being asked to work with the State of Vermont looking into a single payer plan, his bio at Emory describes him as working for quite a few insurance companies. The Emory bio states that he worked with a number of U.S. senators “to develop and evaluate alternative approaches for providing health insurance to the uninsured.” Notice that his specialty was making sure everyone in the country was insured, not that every citizen received affordable health care. Draw your own conclusions here.

      1. grayslady

        Great link! Thanks. Himmelstein and Woolhandler do a real hatchet job on the flaws in Thorpe’s arguments. As someone whose real estate taxes are spent primarily on public schools and public employees, I appreciated that the authors pointed out how Thorpe totally ignored savings from increasingly expensive private insurance plans for public employees.

        In reading Thorpe’s biography, there was just something about the man’s background that struck me as an individual marketing himself as one of those expert witness “guns for hire.” Too many connections to insurance and big hospital groups for my comfort level.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Nice digging into Dr. Thorpe’s real agenda. I am nominating you for the site Private Investigator position. Naked PI if you will.

  6. James Levy

    The article about the Admiral in charge of Intel not being allowed to receive any Intel is beyond insane. It is the Old Boys Network gone senile. The Carrier jocks who run the Navy must all have closed ranks around this guy, but if he had an ounce of concern for the national interest he should have stepped down as soon as it became obvious that he is hindering the operation of the Navy. My guess is that the carrier mafia are grooming him for the CNO slot because they need a gung-ho advocate for the dubious necessity of keeping all the super-carriers active and replacing them.

    1. ambrit

      They sound very much like the Battleship Admirals during the Interwar Period. Then it was the introduction of Carriers that doomed the Battlewagons. Today it is, what, hypersonic cruise missiles, pocket nukes? (How did Neville Shute start WW3 in “On the Beach?” A carrier in the Adriatic?)

  7. diptherio

    RE: “Uber for welfare” [Politico].

    Here’s a better “Uber for….” that does involve “self-organizing by working people.” NYC’s Cleaning Cooperative Si Se Puede recently released it’s own app:

    Home cleaning co-ops in USA get their own ‘Uber’

    In New York, a new mobile app could revolutionise business growth for worker co-ops in low-income industries.

    An initiative between the house-cleaning co-op Si Se Puede! (We can do it!) and a group of researchers from Cornell Tech graduate school aims to allow them to offer home-cleaning services to a wider spectrum of clients. The low-wage workers can therefore be connected to the ‘digital sharing economy’.

    The Coopify app was unveiled at the Platform Cooperativism event in New York last November. Clients can easily request house cleaning through the app, which is owned by the cleaners themselves.


    1. knowbuddhau

      I read about them recently, thanks. Been meaning to give you an update on my environmental consulting co-op.

      I read about Si Se Puede! in materials from a meeting with Northwest Cooperative Development Center. A former member of Union Cab has been advising us, and it’s awesome: An unbelievable amount of priceless advice, all for free.

      We went over basic accounting and ran the numbers last Tuesday. Can still hardly believe we can employ ourselves all year (only 20h/week), pay ourselves the whole time, and still have money left over. Won’t be able to quit my night jobs right away, but that’s what I expected.

      Of course, that depends on finding people who’ll hire us, but NWCDC is even helping us with marketing.

      We’re trying to figure out how to fold my independent office-cleaning work into the mix to smooth out the seasonality.

      We’ll have articles of incorporation and by-laws in about 3 weeks. Some of the stuff I read here at NC might even begin to make sense!

      1. diptherio

        That’s great! If you would like to share your experience with other people trying to do the same sort of thing, send a note to editors[at]geo.coop. It’s important that people like you share what you’re doing. It inspires more people to try, which is what we really need right now. We’re always looking for more practitioners (as compared to developers) to write up their experience or do an interview. Give us an e-jingle.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            We used to have unions to help workers have collective power, now we have an app. That’s great, set up the governance right and 1. it won’t be corrupted by bosses and dues and kickbacks, and 2. it will be really hard to demonize and to shut down. Bravo!

  8. The Apprentice

    Alwaleed Bin Talal isn’t trolling Trump, he’s just reminding us who picks our presidents. If you recall, Alwaleed Bin Talal is the guy that greased Obama into Harvard* before his puzzling meteoric rise. He’s rich enough to throw good money after bad, if he wanted Trump in there.

    *Percy Sutton: “”I was introduced to him [Obama] by a friend who was raising money for him and the friends name was Dr. Khalid al Mansour from Texas,” Sutton said. “He is the principal adviser to one of the world’s richest men [Alwaleed]. He told me about Obama. He wrote to me about him and his introduction was ‘there is a young man that has applied to Harvard and I know that you have a few friends left there because you used to go up there to speak, would you please write a letter in support of him?’…I wrote a letter in support of him to my friends at Harvard saying to them I thought there was a genius that was going to be available and I sure hoped they would treat him kindly.” The Obama campaign called Sutton ten kinds of senile cause he spilled the beans, remember?

  9. craazyman

    Here’s a science link for Saturday.

    This is NASA stuff, not something somebody made up. Planet 9 and Niburu! This is real, not just fake.

    This is perhaps equally as good as the 50 year old Dallas Cowbody cheerleader story that for some reason was ignored by Yves and the editorial staff and was never posted as a link, but this story today involves men who are scientists. So maybe that will qualifiy it as “serious” enough to post.


    1. craazyboy

      Ya baby! They cast the net wide to put together that article.

      Almost make you believe in 50 year old Dallas cheerleaders!

      1. craazyman

        be careful what you believe, because it might be true:

        Google: “Sharon Simmons, Grandmother, Auditions For Dallas Cowboys Cheerleading Squad”

        Actually she was 55!

    2. giantsquid

      Interesting, but the only mention of NASA in the article is this:

      “NASA has thoroughly debunked the Nibiru myth via its Beyond 2012 page, saying, ‘Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye”.

      I want to believe!

      1. craazyman

        that strikes me as a minor detail. NASA is NASA no matter what the context. They didn’t believe in Planet 9 until a few months ago. Even Ed Wood saw this when he looked at the future and made his movie. Plan 9 from Outer Space. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Unless you’re somebody like Jeff Bezos or The electric car guy, Elon Musk. Maybe they’ll be the only two human beings left in the universe when they get their rockets going. They better take some women with them.

        1. craazyboy

          Rumor has it that Elon and Jeff are negotiating terms with the Victoria Secret girls at this very moment.

  10. Schnormal

    Finally saw The Big Short yesterday. They mentioned Lewis Ranieri (the “father” of mortgage-backed securities), so i went back a read the part of Liar’s Poker that described his start at Salomon Brothers. I think it’s worth revisiting the passage (in Chapter 6) that describes the origin of Ranieri’s intense loyalty to the firm. Michael Lewis claims it began with the firm’s response to Ranieri’s need for healthcare —

    ….”He [Ranieri] was a sophomore English major at St. John’s College when he took a part-time job on the night shift in the Salomon Brothers mailroom in 1968. The Salomon paycheck was seventy dollars a week. Several months into his new job he ran into money problems. He had no financial support from his parents (his father had died when he was thirteen). His wife lay ill in the hospital, and the bills simply accumulated. Ranieri needed ten thousand dollars. He was nineteen years old, and all he had to his name was his weekly paycheck.
    He was finally forced to request a loan from the one Salomon Brothers partner he knew vaguely. “You gotta remember,” he says now, “I was convinced, really convinced, he was going to fire me.” Instead the partner told Ranieri that the hospital bill would be taken care of. Ranieri thought that meant it would be deducted from his weekly paycheck, which he couldn’t afford, and he began to protest. “It will be taken care of,” the partner repeated. Salomon Brothers paid the ten-thousand-dollar bill racked up by the wife of its mailroom clerk with three months’ tenure. There was no committee meeting to discuss whether this was appropriate. The partner to whom Ranieri had addressed his request hadn’t even paused before giving his answer. It was understood that the bill would be paid, for no reason other than it was the right thing to do.
    One cannot be certain of the exact words spoken by a Salomon Brothers partner long since gone, but it is clear what Ranieri heard: Lewie Ranieri would always be taken care of. The act moved Ranieri deeply. When he speaks of loyalty, of the “covenant” between Salomon Brothers and the people who worked for Salomon Brothers, it is that single act of generosity he remembers.

    Organizations like the mafia thrive in spaces where the greater community has abandoned its responsibilities. Far less of “the government is the problem” propaganda would fly if the gov’t took better care of its people. I have to believe single payer is coming sooner rather than later — not just to stay sane, but because today’s bosses are barely even helping anymore. I can imagine them just telling Ranieri to go shopping.

    1. charger01

      I completely forgot about that passage in liar’s poker, back in the day when health care wasn’t 17% of GDP. Single payer or better yet breaking Robinson-Patman act and enforcing the Sherman Act (anti-trust) would remedy the current health care cartel.

  11. Ulysses

    Looks like the campaign trail is heating up:

    “retreating Clinton campaign staffers reportedly set the central Iowa town of Humboldt ablaze Friday to stem the advance of Bernie Sanders volunteers. “Once we received word the Sanders campaign had begun canvassing in nearby Fort Dodge, we only had a matter of hours to burn everything to the ground,” said communications director Jennifer Palmieri, who tossed a lit torch through the window of the town’s hardware store before rushing over to help a group of Hillary for America workers erect a roadblock made of dead livestock to prevent all entrance to and exit from the city. “With so little time left before voting day, we simply can’t allow them to establish a foothold in this part of the state. Besides, you can’t convince anyone to caucus for Bernie Sanders if the civilian population is gone and all that’s left is smoldering rubble.” At press time, Clinton campaign staffers were spotted rigging a nearby bridge with C-4 as they hastily retreated to Algona”


  12. jrs

    The gig economy should be used to reboot the safety net of course, that is strengthen it. One might not like the gig economy, but if we’re going to have it, we need a safety net all the more, as those jobs provide no stability and no benefits. Healthcare can’t be job dependent, nor can retirement. And maybe other necessities of life can’t either like housing. Not when hours worked is so uncertain (which is different than having periods of unemployment between steady jobs – it’s much more uncertain).

    And yes I hesitate to even imagine what work requirements for unemployment insurance (the whole point of which is to provide for people without jobs!) forcing people into the gig economy will do. Look Uber and Lyft … they seem low skilled, but not everyone is even a good driver. Do we really want people who KNOW they are bad drivers driving people around out of desperation? Or would we rather they look for work that is more suitable and at worst they are just driving themselves there?

  13. diptherio

    “Michigan governor appoints Flint whistleblowers to remedy water crisis” [WaPo]. Synder created the 17-member “Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee,” which…includes Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, who has extensively studied the issue in Flint and elsewhere, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who is credited with bringing the problem to the public’s attention after state agencies initially dismissed her concerns”

    THREE out of SEVENTEEN members of the committee are critics and that’s the headline WaPo comes up with?!? A bunch of people who probably knew about the problem and did nothing (or their designees), along with a bunch of people appointed by a guy who knew about the problem and did nothing and….THREE critics. And we’re supposed to believe that those three whistleblowers are going to set the agenda, make things happen and “remedy [the] water crisis”? Is that how government committees usually work, in your experience? Where the minority nay-sayers against the establishment run the show? Not in mine…

  14. griffen

    The article linked to the ABA Journal is an excellent column on Bill Black. This should receive an elevated posting in the Links. Anyone with a passing interest in the financial crisis and the sordid details related to the issuance of private label Residential MBS ought to read.

    Please keep hammering away, professor !

  15. Jim Haygood

    The daily dose of Corruption Eruptions (Hillary’s analogue to Bill’s bimbo eruptions):

    The Obama administration confirmed for the first time Friday that Hillary Clinton’s unsecured home server contained closely guarded government secrets, censoring 22 emails with material requiring one of the highest levels of classification.

    The Associated Press learned seven email chains are being withheld in full from the Friday release because they contain information deemed to be “top secret.” The 37 pages include messages recently described by a key intelligence official as concerning so-called “special access programs” — a highly restricted subset of classified material that could point to confidential sources or clandestine programs like drone strikes or government eavesdropping.

    Possible department responses for classification infractions include counseling, warnings or other action.


    ‘Counseling’ … are they serious? This is way past the ‘counseling’ stage, unless they mean the counsel of a defense lawyer who’s used to negotiating serious felony raps. Jail to the Thief!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Excerpts from a comment by ‘you enjoy myself’ elsewhere on the web:

      Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, Sid Blumenthal, etc are all going to be referred by the FBI to DOJ. All of them are guilty of numerous and serious violations with regards to gross negligence and mishandling of classified info.

      Possibly all of them, Huma for certain, are afoul of espionage laws by deliberately moving info from the classified network to the unclassified network. It’s literally impossible to forward an email on the classified system to hrod17@clintonemail.com – you have to engage in spycraft in order to send her info from the classified network.

      The intelligence community will go apeshit if staffers go unpunished for spillage that very likely put spies in danger for their lives and compromised our sources and methods.

      So how can you prosecute all of Hillary’s staffers, but not the mafia boss herself? After all, in addition to all of her crimes, it was Hillary who set up her Acme server and forced her aides to use it. It was Hillary who ordered her staffers to smuggle info off of the classified network, strip the markings, and send it unsecure. Huma and Jake wouldn’t just decide to do that out of the blue.

      Hillary goes down because there’s no way her staffers don’t go down.

      Sh*t’s gettin’ real. Hillary’s about where Nixon was in early 1974 … nearing her sell-by date.

      1. allan

        “The intelligence community will go apeshit if staffers go unpunished for spillage that very likely put spies in danger for their lives and compromised our sources and methods.”

        Oh really? David Petraeus suffered zero consequences (except maybe a frosty marriage).

        $40,000 fine, bumped up to $100,000 by the sentencing judge = 1 lecture fee? Check.
        Cushy academic post in NYC? Check.
        Still advising the WH on Syraqistan stratergery? Check.
        Demoted from four stars to three stars in retirement? Cry me a river.

        And the stuff he was dealing to his biographer-with-benefits included agents names,
        which presumably HRC’s emails didn’t.

        I’d be interested to know what source, if any, the commenter you quoted has.

        1. allan

          Leave David Petraeus alone!!!

          It turns out I spoke too soon in the comment above.
          Even the one-star demotion in retirement is too much punishment for our golden boy:

          Pentagon won’t punish David Petraeus any further in sex-and-secrets scandal

          Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has decided not to impose any further punishment on David H. Petraeus, the former CIA director and retired Army general who was forced to resign in a sex-and-secrets scandal in 2012.

          If Ash Carter can’t stand up to Petraeus’ fan club in D.C.,
          how is he going to stand up to Putin, Xi and Corbyn?

      2. Enquiring Mind

        The intelligence community no doubt has a lot of dirt on Killary, and could be nudged into some off-the-record commentary on non-security matters just to embarrass her.

    2. Jim Haygood

      And some useful perspective from the same commenter:

      Remember that Clinton “deleted” 31,000 emails and turned over just 30,000 emails — emails that her staff had reviewed and obviously saw fit to release to State. It’s from that batch that we have over 1,300 classified emails, including the above mentioned 22 top secret ones. These are the emails Hillary *wanted* us to see.

      On top of that, State is still suspiciously withholding 7,000 of those 30,000 until after the NH primary. Anyone want to bet against those 7,000 containing yet more crimes?

      The FBI, on the other hand, has all 61,000 emails because they were able to recover her hard drive. The FBI has not released jack shit yet. But if there are enough crimes in State’s batch of 30,000 to send Hillary to jail for the rest of her life, what exactly do you think the missing 31,000 contains?

      Yoga routines and cookie recipes, probably. 8-/

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Which would be more beneficial for the top brass at the FBI: A- to simply do their job and evenhandedly treat the Clinton leaks the same way they’d treat them if they’d been done by a whistleblower or B- to sit on the material and have a cache of felonious dirt on what could likely be the next POTUS?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          What about underneath that tier? An agent in the news for pursuing Clinton Inc. will be huge. Books, speaking fees, you name it. Who cares about the brass? How many agents have the goods is more relevant than what the directors think. Can every agent be promoted or bought off?

          Part of HRC’s problem is the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees in relation to sending classified information. This is potentially a big story which is an easy story for people to see without having the dots explained.

  16. fresno dan


    The projects to occupy, develop, and restructure Iraq and Afghanistan are among the largest projects the United States has ever attempted. The expedition to Afghanistan, now in its fifteenth year, has been a series of thoroughly-documented failure. Yet we learn nothing and the project runs on while Afghanistan deteriorates.

    The presidential candidates seldom mention it and show no interest why we have burnt so much money there while America’s vital infrastructure rots. Historians probably will consider it one of the clearest examples of the inability to learn from experience that so damages US political affairs.

    Here is the latest, a 230 page compendium of failure — with some small, mostly exaggerated, success. Like its predecessors, it will have the effect of a pebble thrown into the sea.

    1. EGrise

      Trying to come up with something clever about Talleyrand, “They learned nothing and forgot nothing”, and modern-day Bourbons but I’m clearly too tired to pull it out.

  17. allan

    In Kentucky, a push for engineers over French lit scholars

    Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin wants state colleges and universities to produce more electrical engineers and less French literature scholars.

    The first-term Republican governor has a workforce shortage on his hands, and he says part of the problem is the public schools are not turning out degrees of the “things people want.” …

    His proposal is already generating criticism. A French literature professor at the University of Kentucky noted in an op-ed in Wednesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader that Bevin himself has a degree in East Asian Studies. Bevin graduated from Washington and Lee University, a private liberal arts college.

    First they came for the philosophers, and I didn’t speak up.
    Then they came for the French literature scholars, and I didn’t speak up.
    And then … they came for me …

    1. ProNewerDeal

      The Fed Gov’s BLS own stats, note that only 25% of BS or higher STEM degree holders are holding a STEM-related job. IIRC if you limit it to engineering, computer science, or math/stats, it increases to 50%.

      Type 1 Underemployment is widespread, & not even B Sanders mentions it. Instead the BigPoli-trick-ians & BigCorpMedia keep hyping a non-existent “STEM worker shortage”.

      If Univ degrees are limited to fields that have higher (75%+ ?) percentage of grads actually working in the field, Univs might have to “downsize” to only include BS in Biochemistry (or similar major), & medical professional graduate degrees.

      Perhaps this current reality is an excuse to be seized upon by right-wing austerity fiends like KY Gov. Bevin, to advance general austerity, via the specific public Univ downsizing. Note that Bevin wants to reduce public Univ funding via reducing majors offered, not by reducing the bogus absurdly increased “expense ratio” of high-paid Univ administrators, & other costs such as luxury buildings/dorms/stadiums/etc.

    2. two beers

      […] and less French literature scholars.

      That’s from the first sentence of the AP article. Emphasis is mine,

      How about we compromise and produce more journalists and editors who know correct English?

    1. ambrit

      Nice link, and a decent explanation of the evils of the tech ‘giants.’
      We refused to “upgrade” to Win10. We’re also ‘resisting’ the ‘upgrade’ to IE11.
      Interesting about the ‘direction’ of ‘reading’ in Nipponese. Spider graphs are fascinating for a ’round eyes’ as well.

  18. 3.14e-9

    Re: Sanders operatives entering Culinary Workers 226 secure area

    How did the media get tipped off? Was it the union’s press release, or did someone notify a reporter and then the press statement was issued? The union’s press release reads, “We can confirm multiple reports of Bernie Sanders’ campaign staffers attempting and gaining access to Employee Dining Rooms at Las Vegas Strip properties where over 57,000 members that we represent work.”

    Either way, shouldn’t the union have contacted the campaign before blasting it to the media? This smacks of DWS notifying the media of the alleged data breach by the Sanders campaign rather than going to the campaign first and settling it among themselves. And BTW, Hillary supporters are bringing up the data breach and saying it’s proof Sanders is resorting to illegal activities because he can’t win any other way, blahblahblah,

    Here’s a link to a story that has more information about how the issue was resolved:

    1. reslez

      Lambert: Insurgents must be above suspicion

      Ahahah. Insurgencies always come with a heady dose of suspicion. Where it doesn’t exist it will be invented.

  19. 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?

  20. Follow The Money


    Sander’s plan can’t work? Where does the extra spending come in if it can’t work?

    All insurance, whether paid by the employer or employee, when required by law is a private tax (tax farm). Moving that tax from the private tax farm holders into a central tax holder cant possibly cost that much. Hence I did a little checking on Thorpe’s own website and his papers and positions make it clear he’s a big supporter of Obamacare. Anyone holding a chair in academia gets it because he brings in big money donors or other income. Since Thorpe isn’t issuing patents, and isn’t getting federal grants for basic research, it’s a safe bet his money is from industry. I don’t have the resources and time to find out the money trail, but I’d take a good bet the insurance industry is a good friend to Emory and Thorpe.

    1. ambrit

      So, foreign policy by executive fiat. True to form, America is slipping into autocracy, not just oligopoly.

    2. Rhondda

      I did a Google search after looking at the whitehouse.gov tight-lipped link. I found myself poking into House Report 114-167. All I have to say is what a rat’s nest of obfuscation. Nothing’s ever said outright — it’s a twisted mess of references to elsewhere in the document or to other document’s not present. Like an Escher image gone fractal nightmare or Pollock painting twisted into an even more disturbing n-dimensional torus. Purposeful. And winking clever. Damn them.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thanks, Rhondda.
        Generous serving of Obfuscation smothered in Bernays sauce… Not to digress, had previously interpreted Jasper Johns’ painting of the American flag in green as symbolic of the influence of money. Recently read that there is an additional layer of distinction in the painting between memory and reality that relates to perception:

        1. Rhondda

          Thanks for that! I hadn’t know about JJ’s interest in perception per se. Also, thanks for that helping of Bernays sauce. Quite a chuckler!

    3. Vatch

      In addition to the NAFTA Keystone XL pipeline lawsuit, there’s the lawsuit against Country of Origin Labeling for meat under the WTO. The United States already lost that case, and in response, the Congress and the President repealed the law. So much for national sovereignty.

  21. Plenue

    “As they use Trump as a catalyst for their own good feeling, liberals repeat his practices of contempt in another register. Not only is he a candidate they can enjoy hating but he enables them to extend their hate to all the non-millionaires supporting Trump: they really must be idiots.”

    I understand the point being made here, but if not stupid, a whole lot of Trump supporters are willfully ignorant. I’m mindful of Chris Hedges observation that working-class Americans who voted Republican after NAFTA passed weren’t being stupid; they knew exactly who had betrayed them and voted accordingly. But Trump is a complete joke, he’s just saying what people want to hear. How can they not see that? The ones that don’t actively applaud his blatant racism and general douchebaggery (and there are a hell of a lot of people applauding) are prepared to hold their noses and support him because…what? He claims he’ll go after banksters?

    If Romney was practically a self-parody of the out-of-touch rich boy, Trump is something far worse, horrifying and laughable in equal measure.

  22. chezmadame

    Re: the Nick Confessore Sanders hit piece
    “…so what did Clinton do? Offer him a seat on the Supreme Court?”

    Do you really think that the story is the Clinton campaign’s doing?

    My guess is that the Times is doing what it did in 2000. They want to burn the house down because it’s so much fun to watch a fire.

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