2:00PM Water Cooler 2/1/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is too long. But I got seduced by the Iowa caucus story. –lambert


“Yet More TPP Studies Predict Slim Economic Gains, Highlight Dubious Underlying Assumptions” [TechDirt].

It’s striking that from a situation where there were very few studies of the likely effects of the TPP agreement, we’ve moved to one where they are appearing almost every week. Recently Techdirt wrote about a World Bank study, and one from Tufts University; now we have one from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which calls itself “a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution devoted to the study of international economic policy.” Here’s its summary of the results:

“One of the most serious is something we’ve noted before: despite attempts to present them as otherwise, the predicted gains are extremely small.” An excellent review of the bidding; must read. Why, it’s almost as if TPP isn’t about trade at all….

“TTIP transparency ‘farce’ as Germany opens MP reading room” [War on Want]. Naturally, the MPs have to sign a confidentiality agreement before reading. Good to see democracy is in good shape on the other side of the pond, too…



“Paid leave will be a hot issue in the 2016 campaign” [Brookings]. Good policy, but it’s a Clinton/Dick Morris “bite-sized achievement” — like Clinton’s school uniforms speech —compared to single payer. So this article is really just another establishment institution explaining why we can’t have nice things that the rest of the world has.

“‘Guantanámo continues to serve as a recruitment tool for jihadists, it is something we need to stop,’ Obama said. ‘I will make this argument until my very last day as president.'” [The Hill]. This from the guy who implemented parallel judicial branch inside the executive, all so he could whack people on his kill list disposition matrix with no checks and balances. But that’s our Democrats. Perpetually “making the argument.” Perpetually “fighting.” Never winning. Purest kayfabe.


“O’Malley meltdown: $169,442 cash on hand, $535,477 in debt. Owes staffers salary & has $500K outstanding bank loan” (@davelevinthal) [Federal Election Commission]. Well, he might have lasted long enough to take a few votes from Sanders, and that’s got to be worth something. So I hope Hillary’s straw gets a nice job at The Clinton Foundation.

Clinton’s squillionaires: Soros, $8 million, Haim and Cheryl Saban, $3 million; Sandler and Donald Sussman, $1.5 million each [Politico]. And millionaires: “The top 10 employers of her contributors were the law firms Paul Weiss, Kirkland & Ellis, Jenner & Block and Sidley Austin; Cantor Fitzgerald, Lazard and Morgan Stanley; Stanford; Google; and healthcare company Centene, according to the FEC report [Politico].

Sanders small contributors: “More than 770,000 people gave to the Vermont senator’s bid in January, with online contributions averaging just $27, the campaign said. And Sanders has so far received more than 3.25 million contributions — more than any presidential campaign at this point in the cycle ever” [Politico]. “More than 99.9 percent of donors are able to give to Sanders again because they haven’t reached the limit, unlike other campaigns whose contributors are maxed out, the campaign said.” Ya know, you’d think Soros could at least have given Sanders $27 bucks. How hard would that have been?

The Voters

“Sanders’s strength with voters making less than $50,000 a year  —  and his relative lack of appeal among voters making above $100,000  —  sets him apart from Democratic primary challengers in years past like Bill Bradley, Howard Dean, and Barack Obama. All these “progressive” underdogs attracted their strongest support from wealthier voters, while struggling, in relative terms, to win lower-income support” [Jacobin].

How can Sanders, whose campaign program obviously leans much farther to the left than Clinton, have won so much “moderate” and even “conservative” support? The simplest answer points to the fuzziness of the ideological descriptors so beloved by the national media. “Liberal,” “moderate,” and “conservative” may well seem like stable identities among the pundit and professional class, but for many Americans  —  and perhaps especially for lower-income Americans  —  they are much more arbitrary, at once too narrow and too ambiguous to be of real use.

Category errors? From our political class? Say it’s not so!

“The “Bernie Bros” Narrative: a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism” [The Intercept]. “There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while one-third of Iowa women over 45 support him.” Funny to see the supposedly feminist Clinton campaign smearing women as “bros.” I guess that’s what they mean by “pragmatic”?

“[Y]et the same people who were making those arguments against Elizabeth [Warren] running are now Clintonsplaining to me that I’m a self-hating woman and a bad feminist. They say that I’m so blinded by my devotion to economic justice that I’m willing to miss this historic opportunity to lift up my sisters (well, just this one very special sister)” [Kate Albright-Hanna]. “To which I say: Patriarchal countries around the world have been passing the baton to the female relatives of male leaders for centuries. But I don’t want to just slip through a crack. I want to break BroWorld into a million pieces. That’s why this BernieLady is on board for the revolution.”


What Atrios said [Eschaton].

To me one of the weirdest things is when people in professional politics lash out at people who don’t bother to vote. I mean, ok, it’s one thing for the rest of us to say “vote, ********!” but it isn’t actually our job to get people to vote…. Saying “people suck” or “liberals suck” or “young people suck” because they don’t vote might make you feel better about your failure, but it’s your failure. … Promoting bland candidates who blur the differences instead of accentuating the distinctions doesn’t work very well. Failing to nationalize congressional elections doesn’t work very well. Republicans nationalize every election. Wonder why Dems don’t vote in non-presidential years? Could be because you aren’t telling them why they should vote.

“What do GOP voters want? ‘Testicular fortitude,’ among other things. Conversations with 100 Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire” [New York Magazine]. What Atrios says applies to the Republican establishment as well.

The Trail

The Iowa caucuses start at 7PM today. A blizzard is on the way, but won’t arrive ’til after the caucuses conclude. On the Republican side, I have no idea who will win. But even if Trump loses, I don’t think it will be by much, and I can’t see him giving up. Why would he? (Although it will be interesting to see how he redefines a loss into not being a loser.) On the Democratic side, I don’t have any idea either, and although the headline is that Clinton is in the lead, in fact, Sanders and Clinton are in a statistical dead heat. It’s worth noting, though, that even if Clinton does win, it took the entire political class acting collectively to heave her over the finish line, and she will have done so at the cost of “never, ever” being seen as “progressive” again. And Sanders can keep going until the FBI indictment convention, with his small donor base. Why wouldn’t he? So I expect the race to remain interesting for some time to come.

“In a somewhat ominous sign for [Trump and Sanders], the registration numbers have not increased much for either party, and although there is same day registration, the Iowa hands all point out that the Obama upset was presaged by very substantial registrations of new Democrats for months ahead of time” [Digby, Salon]. Sketchy sourcing, though…

And here’s one reason why: Microsoft wrote really bad software that will keep new voters from registering [ABC]:

Three days before voting begins, residents around Iowa are making plans to caucus, but new online tools launched by both the state Democratic and Republican parties designed to inform people where to go Monday evening were built with one major hole, the parties confirmed to ABC News.

The systems were only built off the list of registered voters’ addresses. As a result, for new voters who have never registered in the state and who live at addresses where no one else has registered, the online feature does not work.

“[Daniel] Lewin, Microsoft’s vice president, … said Microsoft has only interacted with the parties” [The Hill]. Who controls the spec controls the software. And who controls the software controls the vote (or, in this case, the registration). Since it would be irresponsible not to speculate, one can only wonder if the Iowa Democrat controlling the spec took her cue from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s manipulation of the debate schedule. Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign wrote its own vote-counting software, but I’m not seeing evidence they wrote their own registration software. Which means all that work with young, first-time voters could go for naught. Yikes!

* * *

“Donald Trump tries to put money on Communion plate” [The Telegraph]. So two Corinthians walk into a bar…

And then there’s this:

Trump was planning to run in 2013 [Politico].

And this is from Cruz is appalling. Read the image:

Tragic. It’s like Cruz is exposing his very soul for all to see.

* * *

“The margins between Sanders and Clinton in the caucuses look likely to be quite close. That means how the O’Malley supporters choose between the two front-runners could be decisive” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. If I were Governor Jawline, I’d tell Clinton to forget about the Foundation no-show job, and start talking Supreme Court nominations. Since the door is open

“All politicians repeat good lines, but Mr. Sanders — lampooned as a freewheeling radical or rumpled professor who impulsively speaks his mind — is turning out to be perhaps the most on-message and disciplined of the candidates in the 2016 field” [New York Times]. “But everything, from the pithy recurring phrases to the thoughtfully placed pauses and seemingly folksy anecdotes are actually well-planned-out, crowd-tested presentations. And he rarely veers from them or strays into gaffe-making territory.” The political class, slowly and patronizingly, comes to realize that Sanders is a skilled politician.

“10 questions that will be answered by Iowa caucuses” [Des Moines Register].

“With all three Clintons in Iowa, a glimpse at the fire that has eluded Hillary Clinton’s campaign” [WaPo]. Bill Clinton: “‘There are certain, almost intangible qualities that determine whether a president succeeds or not,’ Clinton said, his voice raspy, even and low. ‘You need a sticker. A sticker: someone who won’t quit on you.'” This is true, and in fact I really and truly admire Clinton’s persistence and determination (especially in 2008, when she faced a wave of vile misogyny). That said, Sanders is clearly a “sticker,” too. So Bill Clinton hasn’t presented a unique selling proposition.

“The State Department late Friday evening released a new batch of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton” [The Hill]. “Administration officials had promised to release roughly 2,000 pages of Clinton’s emails on Friday, but said they would not meet a court deadline for releasing the final 7,000 pages.” Well, look. Who said a Clinton had to obey a court order?

Stats Watch

ISM Mfg Index, January 2016: “Employment sank the ISM index in January which could muster no better than a 48.2 for what, following annual revisions to 2015, is the fourth sub-50 reading in a row. This is by far the worst run for this closely watched indicator since the Great Recession days of 2009” [Econoday]. When Janet took away the punchbowl, what did she use to pick it up? Tweezers?

PMI Manufacturing Index, January 2016: “The manufacturing PMI runs hot compared to other data on the sector and, at a solidly plus 50 reading of 52.4 in January, may be overstating the momentum of the sector.” [Econoday]. “Job creation slipped amid caution on the outlook with inventories steady to slightly lower and input buying, in a telling sign of defensiveness, near a 2-year low.”

Construction Spending, December 2015: “Held down by weakness in the nonresidential component, construction spending didn’t get a lift at all from the mild weather late last year, rising only 0.1 percent in December following a downwardly revised 0.6 percent decline in November and a 0.1 percent contraction in October” [Econoday].

Personal Income and Outlays, December 2015: “Consumers had a healthy December but kept the money to themselves. Personal income rose a solid 0.3 percent with the savings rate moving 2 tenths higher to 5.5 percent, its strongest level since December 2012” [Econoday]. “Spending, as retailers already know, was very soft, unchanged with only services showing a gain. … Income strength is a big plus but the consumer, perhaps, needs more confidence in the outlook in order to spend. Continued strength in the labor market would give the greatest boost of all to confidence though Friday’s employment report for January is expected to show substantially less strength than December.”

Neoliberal Infestation in China: “The western educated kids/monetarists who’ve taken control don’t seem to be doing all that well, as China begins to look like the other countries they’ve taken over, like the EU, US, etc. etc. etc. What they learned is that it’s about balancing the federal budget and using monetary policy to support growth and employment as needed, allowing ‘free markets’ to ‘clear’ as per their general equilibrium models that earned them advanced degrees. Unfortunately they fail to recognize the currency itself is a (simple) public monopoly which obviates all those ‘market clearing’ assumptions in their model” [Mosler Economics].

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “[E]uropean legislation known as Mifid II … would force asset managers trying to sell a liquid bond instrument to disclose what price they are seeking ahead of its sale” [Across the Curve]. “Traders have likened the rules to playing poker with their cards on show, which could result in markets becoming more illiquid and investors paying more for their trades.”

Commodities: “‘Many of the [mining] structures are no longer assets but rather liabilities due to environmental regulations,’ write Goldman analysts led by Head of Commodities Research Jeffrey Currie” [Bloomberg]. “‘This suggests that, in order to delay the environmental costs of mine rehabilitation, the penalties associated with employee layoff and non-performance of commercial obligations, owners will operate the facilities until they run out of cash and are obliged to suspend operations.'”

Shipping: “Amazon to delivery companies: Yes, we’re building our own service but don’t worry” [Business Insider]. So Amazon should be valued like a trucking company, then?

“Volkswagen May Buy Back Diesel Cars It Can’t Fix” [New York Times]. To bad Gaia can’t sue for Volkswagen trying to choke her to death.

“Banks reach $154.3 million settlement on ‘dark pool’ fraud” [AP]. Just another cost-of-doing business fine.

“Iraqis seeking to withdraw money from banks are told there is not enough cash” [New York Times]. Because freedom. There really isn’t a circle of hell deep enough for the members of the political class — most of whom you can see on the teebee every day, smiling or shouting, depending — who made this situation, and profited and still profit from it.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27, Extreme Fear (previous close: 26) [CNN]. One week ago: 15 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).


“Flint hopes to know health of water system ‘come mid-April'” [Chicago Tribune]. No hurry…

Health Care

“The third open-enrollment season for health plans under the Affordable Care Act moved into its final hours Sunday night with little fanfare from Obama administration officials who had been urging consumers to buy insurance” [WaPo]. “[O]n Sunday, the officials provided no figures about the final weekend’s volume of traffic on the federal insurance website.” I can’t imagine why…. Oh wait, WaPo buried the lead: “Congressional budget analysts had predicted that 21 million people would have the plans this year — double what HHS has forecast — but they lowered their numbers last week to 13 million.” You know if the numbers were good, the White House would be trumpeting them. So they aren’t. The only question is how awful they are, and how long the White House can avoid releasing them.

“The Effect of Smoking on Obesity: Evidence from a Randomized Trial” [NBER Working Paper No. 21937]. From the abstract: “Our results imply that the drop in smoking in recent decades explains 14% of the concurrent rise in obesity. Semi-parametric models provide evidence of a diminishing marginal effect of smoking on BMI, while subsample regressions show that the impact is largest for younger individuals, females, those with no college degree, and those with healthy baseline BMI levels.”

Police State Watch

“A gun and knife fight at a Denver motorcycle show that left one person dead and seven wounded was between an outlaw biker gang and a club with many law enforcement members, lawyers for both groups said on Sunday” [Reuters]. “Lawyers for the Iron Order Motorcycle Club, whose members include large numbers of law enforcement and the military, and the Mongols Motorcycle Club, which federal authorities deem an “outlaw motorcycle gang”, each blamed the other side for starting Saturday’s brawl.” Please don’t tell me Trump is seeking the Iron Order’s endorsement. That would be bad.


“Solar sector needs better power storage, grid infrastructure and government support to meet bullish growth predictions” [Guardian].

“Sempra’s [Porter Ranch gas leak] may be erasing, at the least, a year or two from what counts as progress under California’s effort to overhaul its energy industry, a program that’s cost consumers tens of billions of dollars since 2006” [San Diego Tribune].

“Couple surrounds eco-home with greenhouse to keep it warm (Video)” [Treehugger]. And what a gorgeous house!

“Scientists get ‘gene editing’ go-ahead” [BBC]. What could go wrong?

Militia Watch

“[T]hose supporting the [Malheur] occupation [in Harney County] found themselves staring across a social chasm at friends and neighbors who abhorred Bundy’s arrival and his tactics. Community members couldn’t even agree on how to gather in public to hear information and share opinions without fear, insults and holstered guns dominating” [Oregonian]. “That deep canyon won’t be bridged soon, local residents say. Hurtful words, often entombed forever on social media, still rattle through the community, which seemed under siege for almost an entire month.”

“‘Where’s all our Americans?’ David Fry, a 27-year-old dental technician from Ohio, shouted in a video streamed live. ‘Where’s all our supporters? We didn’t get much!'” [Los Angeles Times].

Class Warfare

“Rigged Justice: 2016 How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy” (PDF) [Prepared by the Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren]. I know the title restricts the scope to corporate abuse, but both Ferguson and Flint have a strong financial component, and I could wish the focus of “Rigged Justice” was broadened to finance generally, and not merely in the corporate context (especially given that malefactors holding office are getting away with murder).

“The water crisis in Flint has whipped America into a state of righteous outrage, but dear God, look at the rest of Michigan: In at least 30 zip codes in more than 13 cities across the state, elevated levels of lead have been detected in a shocking percentage of local children — sometimes at almost five times the rate of kids in Flint” [Mic]. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank private equity for turning the “Rust Belt” into a sacrifice zone. Thanks, guys. I knew you had it in you.

“Michael Moore: 10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy, But I Will” [EcoWatch]. I bet you didn’t know this: “Actual unannounced military exercises—complete with live ammo and explosives – were conducted last year inside the city of Flint. The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on. Streets with dilapidated homes had rocket-propelled grenades fired upon them.” Wow. “Unannounced.”

“A United Drivers Network representative told Business Insider the group expected more than 1,000 drivers to protest in front of Uber’s Long Island City offices from noon to 2 p.m. ET on Monday. About 10,000 drivers were expected to shut off their phones and not drive for the company in solidarity” [Business Insider]. Billable hours for David Plouffe, Obama’s one-time campaign manager, now “Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy” at Uber. Ka-ching.

“[T]he poorest American households, the bottom fifth, received just 32 cents of every dollar of government benefits distributed in 2010” [New York Times]. “the distribution of benefits no longer aligns with the demography of poverty. African-Americans, who make up 22 percent of the poor, receive 14 percent of government benefits, close to their 12 percent population share. White non-Hispanics, who make up 42 percent of the poor, receive 69 percent of government benefits – again, much closer to their 64 percent population share.”

News of the Wired

“We’ve made a habit out of telling people not to read the comments online. But what started as a cynical in-joke has become a bad habit, and an excuse for enabling abuse across the web.” [Medium].

“Behind the scenes a battle is under way over who should control these [Internet] protocols and domain names. This is not only relevant to technical folks: the story of Icann might give Washington a well-timed opportunity to defuse some of the anger that European and Asian governments feel about US internet policy. ” [Gillian Tett, Financial Times, “Why Icann and internet governance are no longer America’s domain”].

“This Model Deals With Unwanted Dick Pics by Contacting the Dicks’ Girlfriends” [New York Magazine]. Good for her. I’m not a prude, but I can’t even. (I actual misread “model” as “economic model.” But perhaps I should have read it as “business model”?)

“The head scarf, modern Turkey, and me” [The New Yorker].

“Investigators are scratching their heads over the theft of hundreds of hand straps from Tokyo commuter trains” [Japan Times].

“As a first step in boycotting the publisher, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has asked all scientists that are editor in chief of a journal published by Elsevier to give up their post. If this way of putting pressure on the publishers does not work, the next step would be to ask reviewers to stop working for Elsevier. After that, scientists could be asked to stop publishing in Elsevier journals” [London School of Economics Blog].

“The directness and power at the heart of Twitter—short bursts of information that can make you feel that you’re plugged into a hulking hive mind—are still its greatest asset” [New Yorker]. Of course, that is an asset that Facebook cannot have, but the stupid money that Twitter’s management chases doesn’t understand that. And of course the management doesn’t use the platform and hates its users. So there’s that.

“From the archives: the open society and its enemies revisited” [Karl Popper, The Economist].

* * *

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):


A Mugo pine (cone).

* * *

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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. curlydan

      Let me suggest two other places:
      A large recycle bin at the USTR or that vault they showed at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark

      Don’t give up the fight!

    2. JTMcPhee

      I’ve been calling the contacts at DoL and USTR who are “managing” the comments response. ” We’re working on them, the blizzard is slowing us down, people have not been able to get to the office, no date for release yet,” and most interesting, “No current plans to open any other part of the TPP to public comment.”

      Why was the labor section chosen? “Not sure.” “Thanks for your interest. Have a good day!”

  1. Max

    My girlfriend and I watched Roger & Me last night in honor of the ongoing chemical infrastructure experiments going on in Flint. Even at 25+ years old the film still feels relevant and moving. What struck me was the callousness of everyone not affected by the plant closures. “Yes, I guess it’s too bad we had to lay off 30,000 workers, but what are you gonna do? We’re confident they’ll figure something out.”

    Reagan’s advice was great. He suggested they move somewhere else. Easy!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s the same advice for Asian refugees – move somewhere else, from your Asian homes, to places like Germany or Sweden.

    2. Syria Sam

      Moving works for everyone from Mexican’s to Middle Easterners but apparently American’s can’t move to some other city in America that has jobs available. “Chemical infrastructure experiments”? Just what hogwash are you selling.

  2. PhilK

    A good Spanish-language resource about the effects of TTP on Mexico:

    Alianza Transpacífico – ¿Quién Gana? ¿Quién Pierde?

    (Trans-Pacific Alliance – Who Wins? Who Loses?)

    It’s an “Informative Supplement” from the Mexican paper La Jornada (“The Day”). It contains 13 separate articles, on various aspects of this disaster, including:

    * TPP: Another agreement behind the backs of indigenous peoples
    * NAFTA + TPP = RIP Mexican countryside
    * New challenge for the Human Right to Water
    * The TPP threatens freedom of expression and privacy online
    * The TPP, a pro-Transnational Agreement: Monsanto getting ready to govern

    The image on the front page is a very famous photo of Emiliano Zapata, but with his equally-famous mustache photoshopped away – an obvious allegory for what Mexico will lose if subjected to TTP.

  3. flora

    Microsoft voter registration software:
    “The systems were only built off the list of registered voters’ addresses. As a result, for new voters who have never registered in the state and who live at addresses where no one else has registered, the online feature does not work.”

    That’s a feature, not a bug. /s

    1. flora

      adding: this story is a ‘heads-up’ to first time voters in other states. maybe a good idea to register in person ahead of time.

    2. diptherio

      We’re really supposed to believe that they couldn’t provide basic mapping functionality? Definitely a feature.

  4. John Glover

    “The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on. Streets with dilapidated homes had rocket-propelled grenades fired upon them.”

    Can you imagine the reaction if they had done this in Texas during Jade Helm 15?

    1. Oregoncharles

      What do you think Jade Helm 15 was really about? It was counter-insurgency warfare – practiced in and on the US.

      Should have been mobbed with LEFT-WING protestors, but Obama….

      1. sid_finster

        You’re kidding, right? Lefties in this country are completely neutered, too busy trying to out-PC each other and fretting about identity politics to actually do anything.

    2. Micky9finger

      First off I don’t believe it.
      If in fact something happened it could have been the Michigan National Guard, Commander in Chief , what’s his name Snyder. IE the governor who brought us the Flint water crises

  5. Ed S.

    But even if Trump loses…… it will be interesting to see how he redefines a loss into not being a loser.

    That’s easy. He’s already set up an effective response (win or lose).

    DT loses: “Losers. Iowa picks losers. Hasn’t picked a winner in 16 years. Let’s talk New Hampshire. They pick winners. Last three primaries. Talk to me in two weeks”.

    DT wins:”Iowa is smart. Picked a winner. First time since 2000. So will New Hampshire. They pick winners. Last three primaries.”

    H/T to Scott Adams.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We may have to re-run Trump vs. Sanders and Trump vs. Clinton to add Cruz vs. Sanders and Cruz vs. Clinton, etc. to including all other candidates.

    2. wbgonne

      You know, I’m enjoying the Trump Show as much as the next guy but, have you seen this?

      Donald Trump tells his fans to ‘knock the crap out of’ any protesters about to throw tomatoes …

      “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously,” he said. “OK, just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise. They won’t be so much because the courts agree with us, too.”


      Now we getting into genuinely fascist tones. And I’m not so sure about Trump’s legal analysis either. What he’s doing sounds to me a lot like inciting violence, especially the guaranteed legal representation. Now what if one of those yahoos beats some tomato-bearer to death?

  6. none

    I don’t know much politics or legal stuff, but maybe someone here does. Is there a way to get some kind of trade sanctions or UN resolutions against Iowa if they nominate Hillary? Thanks.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The customer is always right.

      So is the voter…or maybe not the voter…only paying customers and paying voters…I hope not.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would hesitate to call Clinton voters dead-enders.

        The voter is always right…for voters on all sides.

  7. Benedict@Large

    Soros’s investment philosophy, which he calls reflexivity, should tell him to support Sanders over Clinton. Reflexivity says it’s in the nature of systems to be self-correcting when they move to extremes, and it’s hard to view where we are as not extreme.

    And by the way, reflexivity is drawn from the work of Karl Popper, with “The Open Society and Its Enemies” being on the self-correcting nature of democratic political systems, and his earlier “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” being on the self-correcting nature of scientific research.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With Clinton, staying the course we are currently on, she being closer to status quo, will there be a bigger, more fundamental change, that is a bigger self-correction, than without Clinton in the White House?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          For those who believe that that looks to be the destination, the only question remaining is how soon or how fast do we get there.

  8. Oregoncharles

    ” Naturally, the MPs have to sign a confidentiality agreement before reading. Good to see democracy is in good shape on the other side of the pond, too… ”

    Do German MPs have constitutional immunity from prosecution, as American congressmembers do? (Just reminding you what a scam the “secrecy” was…)

  9. DakotabornKansan

    “For what do the majority of educated people know about poverty?” – George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

    The poor are no longer the primary beneficiaries of the government safety net…the poorest American households, the bottom fifth, received just 32 cents of every dollar of government benefits distributed in 2010” [New York Times].

    When Bill Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan vehemently protested that sixty years of social policy was being mindlessly dismantled by the monstrous political deception embodied in the term ‘welfare reform.’ He predicted that a million children would be sleeping on heating grates in city streets.

    Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, say that these children are three and a half times more numerous than Moynihan predicted. One-in-50-children are living in households whose income is less than $2/day per person. The $2 figure is derived from the World Bank Poverty line for developing countries. These children aren’t just poor by American standards, they would be considered poor in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Paul Ryan recently made frequent references to the “poverty-industrial complex” at a Republican poverty forum. In the spirit of the rebirth of Republican compassion, robbing Peter to pay Paul Ryan, Ryan wants even less federal money for the poor.

    “It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you.” – George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

  10. Oregoncharles

    “The political class, slowly and patronizingly, comes to realize that Sanders is a skilled politician.”

    Not necessarily. The inability or unwillingness to be spontaneous is a serious deficit.

    So: was he being spontaneous when he tried to let Hillary off the hook for privatizing her Sec. of State emails?

    1. Yves Smith

      Huh? Sanders has exceeded expectations by a huge margin, has raised more from individual donors than any presidential candidate in history, and this with the media first ignoring him despite his successes and then going full bore on attack? So if he’s not a good politician, pray tell, to what do you attribute his results? The tooth fairy?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      You say “let her off the hook.” I say “take the high road.”

      Covered under the heading of: “Never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake.”

  11. Titus Pullo

    Given that Earnest said no indictment for Hillary (which is debatable, possibly, still), what’s the probability of impeachment?

    Does it even have to happen? Or could the specter of impeachment drag her campaign under?

    I’m curious as to what the informed commentariat here at Naked Capitalism thinks.

    (I do think Clinton and the Democratic party have lost control of the narrative w/r/t her email and will never get it back, and that is incredibly problematic from any political standpoint).

    1. sleepy

      I’ve always been under the impression that impeachment was for “high crimes and misdemeanors” committed while in office.

      According to Wiki, the term “high crimes” in the 18th century was only applied to someone holding political office.

    2. Christopher Fay

      I think that the FBI, central government, is missing the bigger crime the influence peddling

  12. mle.detroit

    “It’s like Cruz is exposing his very soul for all to see.”

    His people know what the boss wants. He’s a bully now. How long has he been this way?

    If “journalists” can dig into Ben Carson’s supposed juvenile violence, and Marco Rubio’s youthful misdemeanor, where’s the story on Ted Cruz’s pattern of bullying since childhood?

    1. Vatch

      I was about to point out that Canadians (such as Ted) aren’t bullies, but then I remembered that Snidely Whiplash is Canadian.

  13. sleepy

    Well, he might have lasted long enough to take a few votes from Sanders, and that’s got to be worth something.

    In the Iowa caucuses, a candidate has to get 15% of the vote at a caucus site in order for the votes to be counted. In other words, if O’Malley gets 5% of the vote, his voters will have to vote again for either Clinton or Sanders (or say the heck with it and go home). I would suspect most will switch over and vote for Sanders rather than Clinton. If they decide to go home and not vote or vote for Clinton, well, they weren’t Sanders’ supporters to begin with.

    Unless 15% is reached, he takes nothing away from anybody.

    At least that’s my understanding of how it works. I guess I’ll find out tonight.

    Of course, it’s different in primary states.

    All the attention to these caucuses and all they really do is pick delegates to a county convention, which picks delegates to a state convention, which then picks delegates to the national convention. Whew.

    1. cwaltz

      I read an article yesterday that described his rally supporters as split down the middle. About half would go to Hillary (those pragmatic voters who don’t believe that a “socialist” can win)and half to Sanders(who believe Clinton is too corrupt to be elected.)

      From what I understand he’s probably not going to get his 15% to take anything from anyone though and his supporters will probably have to choose to caucus with Sanders or Clinton as second choices.

    2. JeffC

      I read somewhere (wish my memory were good enough to say where) this morning that the HRC team is prepared, if it looks necessary to keep O’Malley caucusers from flipping to Sanders, to send a few of their people over to the O’Malley corner to put his total above the 15% threshold. Just one more reason why predicting the outcome of the Democratic caucus in Iowa is just not feasible.

      1. sleepy

        I just got through with the caucus. My blue collar, inner city precinct was 41 votes for Sanders, 29 votes for Clinton. There was 1 O’Malley vote that switched to Sanders. Lots of young people turning out for Bernie, as well as old folks like me. Clinton fans were older in general.

        After everyone stood up and got counted, a couple of older Sanders voters started mildly mocking Clinton as a sellout.

        I found this interesting—the dem party here has a rule that all delegates must represent diversity, so 4 out of the 7 Sanders delegates had to be elderly or female or gay or minorities. A gay female high school student wanted a slot as a transgendered male. But the chair said she only counted as a female since “transgendered male” wasn’t a category
        on an Iowa drivers license. I don’t know how the tussle ended, but I voted for her and left.

        I thought the whole thing was kinda funny, but it was nice to see a young high school kid out like that as something perfectly normal which no one gave a second thought about—this in a small town of 26,000 in the middle of nowhere. Of course, it was a group of dems, but still . . . . . . .

  14. petal

    Tonight in the mailbox I got this crazy holographic flyer in the mail from Jeb!/Right to Rise that targets Marco Rubio on Immigration. He seems to be targeting Rubio the most between the radio ads and mailers. If you turn this one a little, one arm disappears (it had pointed at “Ran for Senate Opposing Amnesty”) and the other arm appears and points to “Co-authored Senate Amnesty Bill”. He is standing on a weather vane. It says at the bottom in big letters “Marco on Immigration: WHO KNOWS?” . The back says “Just another politician we can’t trust”. I might keep it. It’s kinda neat! And Jeb!/Right to Rise does seem to be blowing through money like it’s going out of style. I get at least 1-2 mailers per week from them. Gobs compared to the rest of the candidates. It’s nuts.

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      Shrubito can’t survive too many fourth or sixth place finishes, or his donors will go all Edward Scissor-hands on him.

      Hence the pathetic attacks on 3rd place Rubio.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Jeb can’t beat Trump, but I bet he would love to beat Rubio who was a Jeb creature once upon a time. If you can’t win, there is still revenge.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      “holographic flyer”

      Wow. I wonder which politically wired printer got that contract? Say what you like about Jebbie, he can spend money with the best of ’em!

  15. steelhead23

    Commodities: “‘Many of the [mining] structures are no longer assets but rather liabilities due to environmental regulations,’ write Goldman analysts led by Head of Commodities Research Jeffrey Currie” [Bloomberg]. “‘This suggests that, in order to delay the environmental costs of mine rehabilitation, the penalties associated with employee layoff and non-performance of commercial obligations, owners will operate the facilities until they run out of cash and are obliged to suspend operations.’”

    Oh, heck yes. Many years ago, I was a coal mine regulator. When we regulators did the work necessary to determine the cost to reclaim a mine and, as required by law, made them post surety to cover those costs, we suddenly got calls from the governor’s office. “Go easy, that mine’s the mainstay of the local economy, blah, blah, blah.” So, the bonded amount often became the miner’s lowball estimate. Oh heck yes, the costs to fully reclaim mines almost always exceeds the posted surety bond – and sometimes those bonds aren’t secure. Hence, it makes perfect economic sense for miners to continue to operate – until the cash flow stops. Then go bankrupt and let the government try to reclaim their mess for the bond they posted, if any.

    1. Praedor

      The answer is asset stripping. Strip the personal assets of all Corporate officers from CEO on down, including the Board of Directors, all upper management involved in ANY decision to operate the mine, to help cover the costs.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Corruption eruptions take their toll, says Gallup:

    As voting begins in the 2016 presidential primary, suddenly Bernie Sanders has the edge over Hillary Clinton in net favorability among U.S. adults who identify or lean Democratic.

    For the two-week rolling average spanning Jan. 18-31, Sanders has a net favorable score of +53 — tied for his highest reading since Gallup began tracking candidates’ images in early July of last year. Clinton, long the leader in the popularity metric, has a score of +49.


    And the last batch of incriminating emails hasn’t even been released yet. :-)

  17. Jim Haygood

    Apple — we’re no. 2:

    Google parent Alphabet was set to pass Apple as the most valuable company in the world on Tuesday. At Monday’s after-hours levels, Alphabet’s market cap would roughly be $570 billion, eclipsing Apple’s current market cap of about $535 billion.

    Google’s latest rise versus Apple began in July. From that point through the end of 2015, its shares soared 44 percent, while Apple’s sank 16 percent.

    Apple’s main problem is its reliance on the iPhone, which now accounts for two-thirds of revenue. It’s a massive business, but sales in the fiscal first quarter increased only 1 percent from a year earlier, while iPad and Mac revenue dropped.


    It was obvious back in 2012, when Apple sued Samsung for copying design patents such as “rounded corners,” that Apple had hit the wall.

    Maybe they should try rocket fins on them iPhones. Or boobs …

    1. Jim Haygood

      And FaceBook surpassed Exxon as the third most valuable stock, making a triumvirate of tech stocks — Alphabet, Apple, Facebook — the top rankers.

      Facebook has turned into a monster, having tripled in price since it went public less than four years ago.

      But can the tech triumvirate resuscitate Bubble III, which hasn’t registered a new high in the S&P 500 since last May 21st?

      1. MikeNY

        Astounding. As I understand FB’s biz model, it’s basically an advertising company. Is that right?

        Confession: I’m not on it, and never will be. So sue me…

        1. Jim Haygood

          It’s an advertising company that can precisely target ads to zip codes, demographics, time of day, interest groups, etc., making it highly efficient.

          I’m not on FB either. But a real estate agent who uses Facebook (almost exclusively) to recruit a horde of attendees to his open houses, at a cost of pennies per lead, opened my eyes to how effective FB can be for certain businesses.

          1. MikeNY

            So they’re basically ‘disrupting’ old-school Madison Avenue firms. It’s not like they’re adding anything new — in terms of production — to the economy.

            1. Jim Haygood

              Right; no new production.

              However FB seems to have earned a first-mover advantage, as a social media platform with a worldwide reach.

              You and I may be less than enthusiastic about social media. But clearly Facebook dominates the category, in the same way that Microsoft dominated PC operating systems in Paleozoic times.

              1. MikeNY

                Yes, thanks. Though it occurs to me that traditional media sources (tv, newspapers, radio) may be the real losers here, rather than Mad Ave…?

    2. vidimi

      to me it was when tim cook took over. steve jobs, say what you want about him, didn’t extract wealth from apple; he reinvested everything. it was his baby. first thing cook did when he took over was take out a ridiculous amount, i think something like 400m. that told you everything you needed to know right there about the shift in apple’s philosophy as the baton was passed from creation to extraction.

      1. bob

        “he reinvested everything”– BS. He left it as equity. Equity that he, personally, owned.

        No tax bill that way.

        Beyond the fact that “reinvesting” is inherent in any business. It’s what they do, by default. It takes a decision to start looting. It does not take a decision to keep the status quo.

        When will the PR people stop trying to raise this evil motherfucker from the grave to lecture us all on business morality.

        “all we need is two more kidneys and a liver. There’s a kicstarter going now, we figure we’ll only need about $20k –the dollar is high now, and prospects in the 3rd world are low. Great time to be buying organs.”

  18. Plenue

    Here’s something that seems News of the Wired worthy, it’s ultimately not consequential but interesting and more than a little sad:


    The Fine Brothers run a stupid YouTube channel where they show various groups of people (children, elders, etc) things that are currently popular and film their reactions. They got it into their heads that they could control this entire reaction video genre (or whatever you would call it), attempting to get the word ‘React’ trademarked and starting a program where other people would be able to make ‘official’ reaction videos and the Fine Brothers would get the bulk of the ad revenue from the videos. Basically a bizarre form of rent extraction. Their fan base has essentially rebelled; they had 14 million subscribers and have lost hundreds of thousands of them in a matter of days. Which is pretty impressive, because the fan bases of these types of thinks tend to be slavishly loyal.

    There’s some irony also in that a bunch of YouTube personalities that look down on things like reaction videos have, yep, made videos discussing the whole affair. Here’s one of the better ones:


    “Why even call it YouTube anymore? They should rename it to MultiMillionDollarCorporateBusinessTube.”

    Now if only we could get more people to take this kind of critique out into the real world, where it might actually matter…

    1. kj1313

      I’ve viewed their videogame clips and they should have realized that some YT viewers won’t accept those who try to use corporate tactics in relation to copyright and IP.

  19. NotTimothyGeithner

    Bernie has the support of Wesley Crusher. Well…maybe I’ll just vote green regardless.

    In all seriousness, having worked a soul crushing long shot campaign I am so proud of everyone in Iowa, a bit jealous. Whatever the outcome tonight, the efforts of Sanders supporters is a testament to the Importance of ideas.

  20. Plenue

    It doesn’t surprise me Trump would call a woman who shunned him a loser.

    “You won’t f**k me?! What’s wrong with you? I’d f**k me!”

    Yes, Donald, I’m sure you would…

  21. kj1313

    Wow I’m sort of surprised Cruz beat Trump. Hoped that Bernie would win outright but I am happy due to how close it is that Bernie and Hillary will split the delegates.

    1. kj1313

      Adding it will be interesting to see what O’Malley (who is dropping out) will do with his delegates.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The GOP hasn’t had a strong campaign in Iowa who would be Interested in first time caucus goers. Part of the reason Sanders did so well was due to the long term effects of Dean, Edwards, even Kucinich, and Obama pushing the idea people needed to caucus. Caucusing for the first time is the strange, but It’s less strange when there are people who caucused for the first time 4 years ago. I don’t think there has been a campaign on the GOP side with that focus.

      Trump’s other problem is the potential for public embarrassment. Trump is a clown, and I suspect many of his primary voters don’t want to reveal themselves.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Feel the Bern. Iowa was supposed to be a cakewalk for Hillary.

      “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” — von Moltke

      “Money can’t buy me love.” — Lennon/McCartney

      1. kj1313

        Yup. Sanders need to start focusing on Bill and Hillary’s prison industrial complex to really bring the South into play.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Money can’t buy love, but beauty genes one inherits, tax-free, from one’s parents help.

        Also helpful in love are music genius genes, again inheritance tax free.

        And sex symbol genes.

        If none of the above is inherited, try working hard to become a billionaire. Somewhere, when the time is ripe and favorable, love is available for sale.

        If you’re ugly, tough luck.

        If you are beautiful, more is expected from life.

        You can even hand around with smart people who publish studies that equate beauty with health.

  22. 3.14e-9

    If you’re ugly, tough luck.

    If you are beautiful, more is expected from life.

    Then how do you explain Chelsea Clinton?

    Snark aside, money can make up for a lot. The right clothes, jewelry, $2,000 a week on hair and makeup, straightening teeth, personal fitness trainer (and several free hours a day to train), implants, injections, liposuction. Etc.

    (This was supposed to be a reply to MLTPB.)

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