2:00PM Water Cooler 2/15/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Australia: “Trans-Pacific Partnership to stall climate change action” [The Saturday Paper]. “[S]erious people who have read the document – all the pages – in the search for safeguards have been disappointed to find that the term ‘climate change’ does not appear once, not even in chapter 20, which deals with the environment. The safeguards that are mentioned are pretty much unenforceable, as Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs points out: ‘Yes, they rhetorically defend global economic development, labour standards and environmental sustainability, but they do so without specific enforcement powers.'”



CLINTON: “Not everything is about an economic theory” [WaPo]. Let me translate: “It’s not the economy, stupid!”

The Voters

“[H]istory shows that political and social change emanate from persistent pressure—organizing and arguing for a more just world, not settling for what is deemed “realistic” before getting to the negotiating table. Remember when gay rights and gay marriage were “unrealistic”? Remember when voting rights, desegregation, and other basic justice were far from “pragmatic”? They became real through years of dedicated, principled, idealism—by insisting the unrealistic become real” [The Atlantic]. When ever you hear Clinton say “pragmatic,” imagine you hear her saying “I have a network that needs a payoff.”

“American democracy is doomed” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. From December 2015: “The breakdown of American constitutional democracy is a contrarian view. But it’s nothing more than the view that rather than everyone being wrong about the state of American politics, maybe everyone is right. Maybe Bush and Obama are dangerously exceeding norms of executive authority. Maybe legislative compromise really has broken down in an alarming way. And maybe the reason these complaints persist across different administrations and congresses led by members of different parties is that American politics is breaking down.”

Democratic Debate

“The More Bernie Sanders Wins, the More Establishment Liberals Will Tell You He Can’t Win” [In These Times]. “The more Sanders wins, the more the liberals will tell you he can’t win. Always in a tone of cool neutrality, a ‘just the facts, ma’am’ report from reality. Which seems to mask a deeper attachment to the reality it purports to describe. It reminds me of how Lincoln characterized Stephen Douglas’s embrace of popular sovereignty: ‘This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery.'”

The Trail

“Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger: It’s Personal. Very Personal.” [Mother Jones].

“Sanders plays the Jesse Jackson card” [Politico].


UPDATE “Clinton repudiates staff on Nevada being just like Iowa and New Hampshire” [Ralston Reports]. “In an interview over the weekend and to be broadcast Tuesday on ‘Ralston Live,’ Hillary Clinton scoffed at the notion, put out by her staff, that Nevada is just like nearly all-white Iowa and New Hampshire.” Yeah, that’s telling ’em! Who hired them, anyhow? And: “Her campaign’s attempt to downgrade expectations backfires in the pivotal caucus state” [Politico]. “The campaign’s recent assertion that Nevada is “still a state that is 80 percent white voters” — in other words, a state that looks a lot like Bernie Sanders’ base — is simply wrong, Reid allies claim. But more galling than that, they say, it undermines the entire rationale for the caucuses’ existence: The state was pushed to the front of the election calendar eight years ago solely because Reid lobbied for better demographic representation than the overwhelmingly white early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.” Wonder if there’s any video of the candidate saying this, as opposed to staff?

“Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Court Black Voters at Las Vegas Church” [New York Times]. Clinton pushing the “single issue” line hard. “I am not a single chemical breather. I don’t just breathe oxygen; I breathe a full spectrum of gases, like Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide….”

Report from a focus group of Nevada voters about the Democratic debate: “8 F, 16 M; age midpoint = 46; all undecided likely Democratic NV caucus-goers.”

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook did very well winning Nevada for Clinton in 2008 [Politico].

South Carolina

“Online poll: Trump up by 22 points in SC” [The Hill].

UPDATE “The CBS News “Battleground Tracker” poll released Sunday shows Sanders trailing Clinton by 19 points. It comes on the heels of other polls that have him trailing the former secretary of State by up to 38 points in the Palmetto State” [The Hill]. Margin of error: 8.7% (!).

Scalia, de Mortuis

“The death of Antonin Scalia: Chaos, confusion and conflicting reports” [WaPo]. So Cheney did shoot him? No, but seriously, you could tell a story like this was coming from the tone of the earlier reports. “Guevara acknowledged that she pronounced Scalia dead by phone, without seeing his body.” I dunno. Seems like a pretty low bar? And the squillionaire owner of the so-called “ranch” is the key witness who also discovered the body. If this were an Agatha Christie novel…

“The stalemate over the Supreme Court could get even worse than you think” [WaPo]. “[The Republicans] haven’t just grown more ideologically conservative in recent years, they’ve also grown more procedurally radical.” The time to understand the thesis of this article was 2009.

Stats Watch

Markets are closed today.

“Comcast outage affecting customers nationwide” (map) [KTVU]. These are the clowns who want to run the Internet…

“In an ideal world, evolution favors the promotion of desired characteristics while reducing the incidence of damaging traits. Financial markets, alas, are far from ideal” [Wall Street Journal, “Gold’s New Shine Casts Shade on Bonds”]. “Take gold. Traditionally, one of the black marks against the yellow metal has been its absence of yield. But in the brave new world of negative interest rates–and even more, negative bond yields–this is no longer a hindrance.”

“About 70 percent of credit traders cut in London last year at the 12 largest investment banks had worked in the financial industry for more than 10 years, according to data compiled by headhunters Michelangelo Search, which specializes in sales, trading and research roles. That’s increasingly leaving trading desks manned by more junior colleagues” [Bloomberg].

Shipping: “2016 has started with container counts showing expansion – a better showing than what was seen in 2015. Imports had the best January since 2007, but the export improvement was only relative to the terrible 2015 levels” [Econintersect]. Lots of caveats: “These are extraordinary times with historical data confused by a massive depression and significant monetary and fiscal intervention by government. Further containers are a relatively new technology and had a 14 year continuous growth streak from 1993 to 2006. There is not enough history to make any associations with economic growth – and we must assume a correlation exists.” And: “Main Street and Wall Street are not necessarily in phase and imports can reflect the direction for Main Street when Wall Street may be saying something different.”

“Unemployment by Industry: Duration Must Be Considered, Too” [St Louis Fed]. A caveat: “We [would like to have had] the flow data that describe where these unemployed workers go as they transition from unemployment. But because of the limited accessibility of job-flow data across industries, this aspect of the research will have to wait.” If we have no data on job-flow across industries, doesn’t that imply we know nothing about the effects of “training” or about hysteresis in general?

“Crisis Chronicles: The Long Depression and the Panic of 1873” [Liberty Street]. “[W]as the Long Depression just the industrial revolution peaking, with little that the government could do to offset defaults on a huge quantity of bad investments? Or was it unusually long because Washington pursued a hard money policy in the midst of recession in its quest to reinstate the gold standard?”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 24, Extreme Fear (previous close: 19) [CNN]. One week ago: 19 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 12 at 5:48pm


“A longtime senior official in the Air Force has been removed from his job by the service secretary after he disclosed that he had not reported his wife’s ties to the defense contractor Northrop Grumman before he was selected to be one of the service’s senior weapons buyers” [WaPo]. I don’t think this was the guy who fainted; the F-35 isn’t made by Northrop Grumman,

“Pope condemns drug trade, violence in Mexico” [USA Today].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Ferguson Turns Its Back on Justice” [New York Times]. Ferguson City Council unilaterally amended the Justice Department consent decree. That’s not how it works.

Health Care

“Affordable Care Act: The data collection is essential” [Amsterdam News].

Police State Watch

“NYPD wants to make “resisting arrest” into a felony” [Boing Boing].


“Over half the world’s population suffers from ‘severe’ water scarcity, scientists say” [WaPo].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Zimbabwean aviation authorities impounded a U.S.-registered cargo jet, a senior official said Monday, after a dead body later believed to be a stowaway and millions of South African rand were found on board” [AP]. Sounds legit.

“A Grandma Drone Resister’s Letter from Prison” [Alternet]. “The “order of protection” has been issued on behalf of the commander of Hancock Air Base against drone protesters. Usually such orders are issued to protect people from physical violence and even death from their abusive domestic partners. Currently “protected” by the order is the commander in charge of Hancock Air Base and its 2,000 personnel and armed soldiers—making him the “victim” instead of the real victims, the many people killed by the base’s MQ9 Reaper drones, firing Hellfire missiles.”

Class Warfare

“Remembering the shuttle explosion 30 years on” [Real Economics]. “Perhaps the saddest outcome of the shuttle disaster was that the engineers who tried to warn NASA that it was FAR too cold to launch basically had their professional lives destroyed. There’s a nasty price to pay for suppressing genius and boy, are we paying it.”

“‘Winning seems to have this strange effect on people,’ said Amos Schurr, a professor of psychology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. ‘When people succeed in competition against others, it seems to compromise their ethics. It makes them more likely to cheat afterwards'” [WaPo]. I’d like readers’ views on the studies, though!

“Meet the ‘Corbynomics’ fans who say Labour must be more radical than Greece’s socialists ever were” [Daily Telegraph]. First they laugh at you, then…

News of the Wired

“How a dot invaded dweinberger’s privacy” [Joho The Blog]. “It turns out that Gmail ignores dots in your name. So, dwe.inbergergmail.com will reach me, as will dweinb.ergergmail.com. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this.” Well, what letter will they ignore next?

“Here’s Albert Einstein’s hand-written equations that first predicted an entirely new way to study the universe” [Business Insider].

“Researchers have discovered a much faster way to learn new skills” [Wapo]. “Rather than doing the same thing over and over, you might be able to learn things even faster — like, twice as fast — if you change up your routine. Practicing your baseball swing? Change the size and weight of your bat.”

“Obese people live in altered reality where they can’t judge distances accurately, scientists say” [The Telegraph].

“101 East – South Korea’s Hangover” (video) [Al Jazeera].

“The Deadpool Moment” [Vulture]. “[Deadpool is] the only A-list superhero character who regularly breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges that he’s in a superhero story.” Sounds like Trump.

“Watch the first Game of Thrones season six trailer: Winter has arrived” [Ars Technica].

* * *

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 (Furzy Mouse):


OK, it’s not a snowy scene! But Furzy sent this in from Nepal!

* * *

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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. Stephen Rhodes

          sex, lies, and ?

          . . .To arm the crazies Grayson has the idea for O to immediately make a recess appointment of E Warren.

          Just the thing to get “dictator Obama” meme ignition.

          (In any event not enough Lizzies to go around)

  1. Carolinian

    CLINTON: “Not everything is about an economic theory”

    Yes sometimes it’s about a crazy foreign policy theory. Hillary is a full spectrum know it all. Perhaps the operative word here is “theory.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A theory needs lab rats.

      Maybe the day has come that lab rats are superfluous.

      They have outlived their usefulness.

  2. allan

    “Guevara acknowledged that she pronounced Scalia dead by phone …”

    If Bill Frist could evaluate Terri Schiavo’s condition from a scratchy VHS, I don’t see a problem here.

  3. Llewelyn Moss

    re: The death of Antonin Scalia
    “The man known for his elegant legal opinions and profound intellect…”

    Oh pleeeease. Stop right there.

    And they didn’t report the death for hours. Ok, i assume they had a hard time getting the ball gag out of his mouth. But hours??

    1. trinity river

      This is Texas, babes. The ranch didn’t have cell phone coverage and no land line coverage. The ranch is on 30,000 acres and is 38 miles from Marfa, population1800. The owner would pay for the wires from Marfa? Funeral home, chosen by the family, in El Paso was 3 hours away.

      Weekend. When John Poindexter did get cell service, the connection kept dropping. Texas is big and only some parts of it have people. Needed to get family, priest, govt officials, hearst notified.

      I think they notified the rest of us pretty quickly. Now you know where to get away from it all.

      1. sd

        If you are wealthy enough to own 30,000 acres, you or one of your staff also own a satellite phone. Just saying.

        1. trinity river

          You are right. My apologies. It’s just that some people actually want to really get away from civilization, wealthy or not. Yet with the possibility of a hunting accident, you are right.

          1. sd

            Please, no need to apologize. The events surrounding Scalia’s death are just a little on the bizarre side. Not sure what exactly is up with that. Maybe the media were just bored and looking to stir up some intrigue….

      2. roadrider

        And WTF is a SC justice doing there – a guest of a rich guy on a private resort? Raises some questions about integrity and improper influence.

          1. Procopius

            Well, Scalia was known for enjoying expensive exotic activities paid for by other people. He went duck hunting with Dick Cheney (and didn’t get shot) shortly before hearing Cheney’s case. When urged to recuse himself he said, IIRC, Supreme Court justices know when their interests conflict and are perfectly capable of rendering fair verdicts even on people they are friends with or obligated to.

      3. Lexington

        Oh please, it’s Texas not Mongolia. Not even Wyoming. The state’s population density is actually about the middle of the pack.

        You want to get away from it all come to Canada. The mountains, prairies, boreal forest and tundra will make West Texas look like a 1990s shopping mall on Black Friday.

        Cibolo Creek Ranch provides a telephone number right on their homepage, and it mentions they provide free Wi-Fi.

        Basing your business model on the assumption that people who can afford $350/night and up for a room are going to be ok with not having any communication with the outside world would be a very bold move. Sure they want to get away from it all, but their personal and professional lives revolve around networking.

        You can have my smartphone when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

    2. Uahsenaa

      Puh-leeez indeed. I have read exactly one Scalia dissent in my lifetime, and it was an endless diatribe filled with cliches, false analogies, and mixed metaphors. The actual case law was considered only in passing, and buried in footnotes, while he pontificated at great length how a very narrowly circumscribed legal concern threatened to take a torch to the Constitution. From what I gather, his dissent opinions–and he always writes his own dissent, when he’s in the minority–are just very long temper tantrums.

    3. RP

      The need to sugarcoat the recently deceased is something I’ll never understand. Scalia was a rotten bastard, and I see no need to amend that due to his change in living status.

      Hitchens, for all his faults, hit one out of the park when Jerry Falwell died:

      “If you gave him an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox”

      1. Propertius

        The need to sugarcoat the recently deceased is something I’ll never understand.

        Well, that is pretty much the literal translation of “eulogy” (εὐλογία), isn’t it?

        It’s about as incomprehensible as the need to beat a dead horse (or in this case, a dead justice) by wasting energy attacking someone who is no longer relevant. I find a lot of Scalia’s opinions to have been downright obtuse, but he’s dead. Rather than making snarky comments about his passing, I’d rather offer my sincere condolences to his family and loved ones and concentrate on reversing his judicial legacy.

        1. Bernard

          Respect for Evil? He earned his sobriquet. We unfortunately have to live with the Evil he spewed upon us. I do feel sorry for his family.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Could be a “two-fer.” What will clarence thomas do now that the ventriloquist has left him alone with only his “thoughts” to keep him warm? Could be a tough slog.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Re Clarence Thomas, even with Scalia doing whatever he is doing now, I’m sure Thomas’s clerks will be there with his mental crutches and walker… Won’t miss a step, you betcha…

      1. RMO

        Yeah like national and world soaring championships. Speaking of which, when they had those back in 1969 and 1970 they managed to arrange radio and telephone communications well enough for the contest staff and retrieve crews to coordinate with the pilots when they landed out in the boondocks – watch the wonderful Robert Drew film The Sun Ship Game if you want proof. Because of this I would find it a bit odd that someone with vastly more money than the SSA had couldn’t manage at least as well nowadays.

  4. diptherio

    Furzy’s in Nepal! Awesome. S/He should try to meet up with participant-observer-observed, which would make Nepal like, the third most popular place for NC readers to meet :-D

    I’m going to guess this shot is from Pohkara, am I right Furzy? Hope you’re enjoying/enjoyed your trip!

    1. ambrit

      What’s with all the nails cemented point up in the top of the wall?
      (Is Pokhara where the Pookhas come from?)
      Yes, I’m jealous. I never took the hippie trail.

      1. diptherio

        The nails are to keep pigeons from roosting there and pooping the place up. Often, they just use pieces of broken glass set into the concrete.

        Pokhara (spelled it wrong the first time) is one of the”resort” towns in Nepal. Beautiful lake, great mountain views and lots of tourists. The houses in the area often have tile “siding” that I’ve never seen anywhere else in Nepal, which is why that’s my guess.

        1. ambrit

          Thanks. I never thought of the pigeon explanation, though, the Goon Show did a bit about the pigeons of London once.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Echoing the ‘C’ word used in an NC headline this morning, Dr. Hussman invokes it too, in a comment titled “Warning with a Capital ‘W'”:

    Market crashes have historically emerged only after a familiar profile of market behavior that features a compressed market retreat of about 14% over 10-12 weeks, a rebound between 1/3 and 2/3 of that decline, a fresh retreat that slightly breaks that initial level of support, a one-day barn-burner advance, and then a collapse as the prior support level is broken.

    In the 1990’s, I called this pattern the lead-up to “five days of Armageddon” because historically, once rich valuations have been joined with poor market internals (what I used to call “trend uniformity”), the break of a widely-identified support level has often been followed by vertical market losses.


    By “one-day barn-burner advance,” Dr H means last Friday’s 2 percent gain. However, large gains overseas on this U.S. market holiday have S&P futures up another 1.5% today, pointing toward a likely “two-day barn-burner advance.”

    When market timers start talking ominously about “vertical losses,” expect “vertical rises” instead. This chart of Dr H’s flagship mutual fund HSGFX could be titled “Five Years of Armageddon,” or “How Option Time Decay Ate My Lunch and Dinner Too”:


    Where are the shareholders’ yachts?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He did warn that he needed, or investors needed, at least to have patience for at least one (if not more – short sample bias) 10 year market cycle.

      Things will even out in a few more 10 year market cycles (then I will get my money back).

  6. diptherio

    “NYPD wants to make “resisting arrest” into a felony”

    Next they’ll want “resisting execution” to be deemed a felony as well…

      1. JTMcPhee

        Monica Lewinsky? Senate pages? Sandusky? All those priests and preachers? and a bunch of cops who “get a little” from sex workers and other arrestees? Not hard to find a host of droits being exercised by our Rulers…

    1. Benedict@Large

      Any cop worth his salt can drum a felony charge out of nothing. This law must be for the really stupid ones who can’t.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      So you can be convicted of a felony…even when there was no original crime (let’s say you were resisting because you didn’t actually DO anything wrong)?
      Precisely HOW is someone supposed to put forth their innocence any more? They decide you are Osama Bin Laden, if you protest by saying, for example “I can’t be, he’s dead”, you are guilty of a felony. So if someone accuses you of something, the only remaining course of action is to submit immediately and then later, much later, get your day in court?
      That’s not even “guilty until proven innocent”, that’s “guilty despite being proven innocent”.

      1. barrisj

        The actual motivation for “felonizing” any misdemeanor is just simply to up the ante on plea-bargaing – cop to some BS lower charge, else the DA will bring the heavy artillery to secure a felony conviction…too often judges toss out a “resisting arrest” charge when there was no demonstrable “crime” to justify the initial arrest, or have the arrestee plea down to a citation..now, make the “resist” a felony, well, the prosecution can easily get some jail-time on a plea-down, discouraging people from even trying to contest false-arrest or other abuses of police power. Fuck the NYPD, the baggage they carry on “stop-and- frisk” and other highly questionable, racial-profiling actions disqualify them from pushing any change in the law, especially one such as this turkey.

    3. sd

      Sitting down is a classic non-violent means of protesting which could too easily be classified as resisting arrest.

      1. John Steinbach

        Could be and was. During civil disobedience training NLG lawyers would warn us trhat the feds considered sitting down or going limp to be resisting arrest

  7. Steve H.

    – When ever you hear Clinton say “pragmatic,” imagine you hear her saying “I have a network that needs a payoff.”

    entering phrase substitution into autocorrect now.

    1. Jeff W

      Ha, yeah!

      Assuming that Hillary Clinton would want us to take a (slightly) less cynical view, what I hear is: “______ [elites | the oligarchy | opposing forces | etc.] are too powerful to even imagine prevailing so let’s not even begin to try.” It’s such an insanely cramped, constrained and short-term view of what might be possible that it constitutes a form of leadership malpractice.

      Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his 1948 book Citadelle (The Wisdom of the Sands) said “Créer le navire ce n’est point tisser les toiles, forger les clous, lire les astres, mais bien donner le goût de la mer qui est un…” [“Building a boat isn’t about weaving canvas, forging nails, or reading the sky. It’s about giving a shared taste for the sea…”] Sanders gives us “a shared taste of the sea.” Clinton? We shouldn’t even begin to think of forging nails.

  8. MichaelC

    Hillary’s superdelegate advantage is understated by a factor of 2 I think.

    There are `700 up for grabs, ~350 have pledged to HRC , ~ 350 unpledged. I’d expect most of these will do as the DNC dictates, but we won’t know till the convention, unless they each declare after their respective state primary/caucus.

    If Iowa and NH are precedents, Hillary will steadily and stealthily pick up the remaining unpledged supers if the state races remain close.

    If it remains tied going into the convention Bernie’s going to have to go the third party route taking his D base along with him.

    If only Hillary had remained a Republican, she could have trumped Trump in the primaries. Now she’ll have to have a go at him from her foster party perch. Trump hating Rs will defect to Hillary.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t think it is etched in stone that Hillary loses to Trump, though it has been repeated often.

      1. Christopher Fay

        When Hillary wins, we lose, no matter what. The Partay of Crazy is ready to start the Hillary investigations on Day One if she wins the presidency. At some point they might start investigating real serious stuff like the corruption rather than the typical snafu of Benghazi and technicalities of illegal e-mailing.

    2. hunkerdown

      The Wikipedia superdelegate list appears to be missing unpledged delegates. Who and where are they, one wonders? Are they hiding from the grassroots?

  9. Propertius

    “How a dot invaded dweinberger’s privacy” [Joho The Blog]. “It turns out that Gmail ignores dots in your name. So, dwe.inbergergmail.com will reach me, as will dweinb.ergergmail.com. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this.” Well, what letter will they ignore next?

    I assume it’s to make life easier on senders who can’t remember whether Joe Blow’s email address is supposed to be “joeblow@gmail.com” or “joe.blow@gmail.com”. It seems to me the issue here isn’t with Gmail, but rather with Amazon’s very poor security practices (which, given that Jeff Bezos is the Antichrist, is not terribly surprising).

    What Google is doing here is a bit unusual, but seems to be entirely kosher according to RFC 5322 (“Internet Message Format”), to which I’m not going to link because it will throw me into moderation hell:

    An addr-spec is a specific Internet identifier that contains a
    locally interpreted string followed by the at-sign character (“@”,
    ASCII value 64) followed by an Internet domain.

    The local-part portion is a domain-dependent string. In addresses,
    it is simply interpreted on the particular host as a name of a
    particular mailbox.

    Note that it’s “a name of a particular mailbox, not “the name of a particular mailbox”. As long as Google can guarantee that their addressing isn’t ambiguous, I don’t see that they’re doing anything wrong or even anything particularly noteworthy.

    Shame on Amazon for not confirming the new account, though.

    1. Dana

      That’s just it, Google doesn’t guarantee its addressing isn’t ambiguous. Same thing happened to a friend of mine, but it wasn’t Amazon, it was more than one other vendor. It’s on Google that they allow separate accounts to be created depending on the presence or absence of a period, but then don’t parse the period when processing mail.

    2. Katiebird

      I have gotten dozens of emails meant for people with a version of my name except an extra dot. I tried reporting ot to Google but they never responded. It is bizarre that they let people create unworkable addresses.

      The weirdest issue I have is that someone created an Instagram account using one of those names. And when I tried to open an Instagram account of my own, they wouldn’t let me. Because supposedly, I already had one! Very frustrating.

  10. DakotabornKansan

    Surely this is the best of all possible worlds.

    The nation is going to hell in a handbasket: Scalia, de Mortuis; 2016 Election Trail; Imperial Collapse Watch; Corruption; Police State Watch; Black Injustice; Water Scarcity; Class Warfare; etc., etc..

    Our oligarchy treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will.

    The failure of our nation can be detected by the growing gap between public and private morality. The wider this gap becomes, the closer we are to the final collapse.

    If the great Dr. Pangloss were here, he might say something of the sort:

    “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  11. rich

    Victims of Billionaire Pedophile with Ties to Bill Clinton Claim Federal Prosecutors Offered “Sweetheart Deal”| Posted Monday Feb 15, 2016

    Prosecutors went to great lengths to keep secret the non-prosecution agreement reached in 2007 with Jeffrey Epstein, attorneys for the victims allege, “because of the strong objection they would have faced from victims of Epstein’s abuse, and because of the public criticism that would have resulted from allowing a politically-connected billionaire who had sexually abused more than 30 minor girls to escape … with only a county court jail sentence.”

    Before any allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in 2005, Trump and Bill Clinton spoke glowingly of Epstein, and court records have included documents and testimony suggesting both men flew with Epstein on his private jets.

    Court files document long-running ties between Epstein and the former president. Bill Clinton flew on at least six trips with Epstein and his entourage in 2002 and 2003 including to international destinations such as Paris, Bangkok and Brunei, according to logs kept by one of Epstein’s pilots.

    And as Epstein first faced federal prosecution a few years later, one of his lawyers, Gerald B. Lefcourt, wrote to prosecutors to tout Epstein’s pedigree as “part of the original group that conceived of the Clinton Global Initiative,” according to a letter attached to Wednesday’s court filing.
    From the ABC News article: Victims: Feds Hid ‘Sweetheart’ Deal for Sex Offender With Deep Political Ties

    As I’ve said time and time again, the greatest cancer of all cancers afflicting these United States is a startling deterioration in the rule of law. Specifically, the institutionalization of a two-tier justice system in which the rich and powerful can (literally) get away with murder, while poor inner-city kids get locked up for “victimless” crimes.

    One of the most egregious examples of our Banana Republic criminal justice system relates to billionaire pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein. A man who was barely punished for sexually abusing and exploiting at least 30 underage children.


    1. fresno dan

      Truly outrageous, but also common.
      In my view, the legalcorporate complex has exceeded the military industrial complex for pure corruption and self dealing. whether it is a failure to take action against police who saw the shooting of Laquan McDonald, or it is the Clintons giving a pardon to Marc Rich, the phrase “equal justice under law” is like all advertising, and mean nothing.
      And the very esteem that the judiciary is put in, seems in retrospect merely part of the scam designed to prevent investigation of the decisions and motives of the judges and prosecutors.

    2. James Levy

      What’s really interesting is that the deal was struck under the Bush II regime, which shows just how cozy these elites, who publically excoriate each other, really are. That simple fact, that the Repubs did Bill a big favor in a case like this, will prevent it from being a story. If one side or the other doesn’t yell “foul”, when they are in cahoots, the media’s default response is, “no issue here, let’s move along.”

  12. Foppe

    This Tory move to curtail market freedoms has got to be the most suicidal move in ages (and if Labour under Corbyn can’t capitalize on this, the party should disband):

    Local councils, public bodies and even some university student unions are to be banned by law from boycotting “unethical” companies, as part of a controversial crackdown being announced by the Government.

    Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

    Any public bodies that continue to pursue boycotts will face “severe penalties”, ministers said.

    Senior government sources said they were cracking down on town-hall boycotts because they “undermined good community relations, poisoned and polarised debate and fuelled anti-Semitism”.

    1. lindaj

      And as you may know, several states are following suit. http://palestinelegal.org/news/2016/1/26/suppression-of-palestine-advocacy-in-2015

      “Legislation: Lawmakers, often at the behest of Israel advocacy groups, introduced at least 22 legislative measures in 2015 intended to condemn or restrict Palestinian rights advocacy, often by linking criticism of Israel to antisemitism. In 2014, at least 11 such measures were introduced. These legislative efforts condemn or punish First Amendment protected activity such as advocating for boycotts. In 2015, Illinois enacted a law that sets up a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and requires the state’s pension funds to divest from those companies. Copycat legislation is continually being introduced in states around the country in a direct attack on the nonviolent movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel because of its human rights abuses. For example, last week, the New York State Senate passed a bill that would’ punish and blacklist individuals, organizations, and companies that boycott Israel.

    1. hunkerdown

      Yup! During dotcom boom 1.0 I used + tagged addresses to sort my mail by mailing lists and interests. The transport agent ignores the tag. The delivery agent ignores it until the message has been routed to your account, but from there you can filter it any which way you like. One could do much the same thing with no less than 2^(accountName.length – 1) new addresses that also happen to deliver to their Gmail inbox.

  13. fresno dan


    George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are about to share another title — surrogate-in-chief.
    The two former presidents are hitting the campaign trail in South Carolina, hoping to make a difference for their family members’ flailing campaigns in this critical 2016 battleground state.

    “It is unprecedented and sort of shows you what’s at stake in this election,” said Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. “I think everybody is pulling out all the stops. Forgive the pun — using all of their ‘Trump’ cards.”

    Bush and Clinton redux – the best America can do???
    Lets bring back the Edsel….

    1. Jim Haygood

      Maybe George W. will recite a heartwarming song about Jeb! (if he can memorize the lines):

      Your own personal Jeb!us
      Someone to hear your prayers
      Someone who cares

      Your own personal Jeb!us
      Someone to hear your prayers
      Someone who’s there

      — Depeche Mode

      Johnny Cash did a great cover of it.

  14. ekstase

    Roberto Ferdman’s article on “winning” is quite interesting. There seems to be some evidence, at the end of the article, that some people just refuse to cheat. I wonder why we don’t have more studies on them? It’s a puzzle! It occurs to me that this kind of fake competition serves to silence and obscure the values and actions of non-cheaters. In the arts, this sort of contest is often about silencing dissent. And traditionally, it has excluded innovation and talent by setting up systems that rigged the playing field for the dominant group. I also wonder how the psychology of having a “judge” who has set him or herself up on high, influences people’s acceptance of these things.

  15. sd

    I posted this at the end of links but I should have posted it here so apologies for the repetition. I am genuinely curious on others thoughts…

    Alan Grayson is circulating a petition to appoint Elizabeth Warren to the Supreme Court before the end of the week as a recess appointment.

    Not sure what I think about this. Warren has an extremely useful bully pulpit at the moment that would be lost as a Justice.

    1. Vatch

      The Republicans and Obama should seriously consider supporting this. Otherwise, she might end up as the Treasury Secretary in a Sanders administration.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      When I was a kid, even in Berkeley, I would see “Impeach Warren!” signs. ‘Wingers were big back then too, there was even a John Birch bookstore in Alameda. They could dust ’em off and use them again.

    3. Daryl

      She would probably be preferable to just about anyone else Obama conjures up, plus it’s not like when useful people go off to head up some executive branch department, never to influence policy again. I could go either way on it, really.

    4. Tony S

      Doubt Obama would ever do this. He wouldn’t confront the Republicans when he actually had political capital. He’s certainly not going to provoke them now.

    5. Cry Shop

      Also posted the following in Links, and will put this reply to your post here, plus add an extra query/question that has to be considered.

      February 15, 2016 at 8:30 pm
      Agree. The crisis is now, and I don’t think she’d do much good in the court unless and until at least another judge dropped dead (and then if and only if the next president isn’t another neo-con/neo-liberal). Her opinions might make interesting reading on policy, but her control over the docket would be limited.

      The other issue is she is already 67/68 and has shown signs of aging in the last 4 years. It would be interesting to know the average life-span of her parents/grandparents.

      New point, on the other hand Hill and Bill are revenge driven paranoids, plus it’s very likely Bernie Sanders will not make it past all the barriers that the DNC control. My expectation is upon election Hillary will do her best to undermine Warren. She’ll probably do this even if she doesn’t get elected. After all, it would be in the best interest of the clients of Hill/Bill if Warren was driven out of office. All in all though, I don’t think Obama will do it, because he wants to keep cultivating the same clients, set himself up as a competitor to the Clinton Foundation; appointing Warren to the court will not endear him to Goldman Sacks. There is a lot of power and influence just waiting for the right time to take down Warren.
      Reply ↓

      1. sd

        All good points. Mostly, I think Obama won’t get his hands dirty and put forward a temporary appointment before February 22, which is the last day of the current recess.

        Rather, Republicans will block confirmation. And Obamas choice will be a pro-business half hearted feeble attempt at inclusiveness. I’m guessing the candidate will be Asian American this time around. Not trying to be crass. It’s just the optics seems to rein over substance these days.

    6. Jim Haygood

      Would be a great way to blow apart the illusion of a dead-letter “constitution” for good.

      ‘Advice and consent’ of the Senate is intended to provide democratic (with small ‘d’) input into court nominations. Bypassing the Senate with a recess appointment of a Supreme Court justice is an abuse of due process which probably would provoke Obama’s impeachment by the House, but likely not his conviction in the Senate.

      In other words, it would be an ugly, time-consuming drama that would tie in Congress in knots, while leading nowhere. So I’m all for it — let’s roll! :-)

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not sure Grayson has thought this through:

      1) It depends on Obama’s plan. Expendable nominee to take six months to fail and fire up the base? Or real neoliberal “Business friendly but good on social issues” nominee? Which one would Warren be?

      2) It pre-empts Warren from going on the campaign trail (could be a plus in Clinton’s mind)

      3) It pre-empts Warren VP nomination (another plus in Clinton’s mind, no doubt).

  16. Skippy

    Love the – And here’s today’s plant – pic… especially the parapet wall with medieval devices too keep the birds from storming the castle feature…

  17. Cry Shop

    So the international coalition to destabilizing the EU by flooding it with refugese from North Africa and Syria now includes Russia. Apparently Victoria Newland knew what was going on when she said “F*ck the EU! – Exactly!” That game where Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov acts cold near her is just a bit of subterfuge?

    Apparently guest editorialist in the Japan Times forgot about what the CIA, MI5, and Saudi/Gulf State allies have long been doing in North Africa and the Middle East, throwing down governments and then in shipping arms and external mercenary Islamic terrorist groups, bombing MSF hospitals in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya. Funny how the mass media gets upset about Russia in Syria, must that patriotic competitive urge to get upset when the “bad guys” start copying one’s own tactics. Anyway, it all shows these guys want a weak EU. I’m not so sure a weak EU is in Putin’s interest, and he probably knows it. It’s been the EU which has held the US back from pushing on Putin through Poland, Ukraine, etc.

  18. ewmayer

    Re. NASA institutional incompetence — Let’s not forget that NASA also had a perfectly good backup mirror for the Hubble space telescope manufactured by Eastman Kodak, but ignored both the recommendation of the HST chief scientist and the common-sense suggestions for ground testing of the finished mirror(s) prior to launch. “Compare our two purchases head-to-head and pick the better one?” Not on your life.

    As the NYT wrote in the wake of the discovery of the flawed primary mirror:

    NASA has a backup mirror for the Hubble Space Telescope that could have replaced the flawed mirror on the $1.5 billion craft and would even have been optically superior in some respects, astronomers said yesterday.

    The project’s chief scientist recommended use of the backup, whose existence has been known to scientists but has not been widely reported. But his preference was rejected. Experts said the history of that decision, information that is just beginning to emerge, illustrated management woes that plagued the space agency in the early 1980’s.

    Experts said they believe the backup mirror, now in storage, has no flaws similar to those that have crippled the nation’s most complex project for space science.

    The experts said the backup could have been used if ground testing of the Hubble mirror had revealed the flaw before the 43-foot-long telescope was lofted into space this year. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration considered and rejected such end-to-end testing, so it had no way to know of the mirror flaw or the potential cure right in its own hands.

    And of course as a result of the lunar missions NASA had by the early 1970s a highly reliable and cost-effective (due to the already-sunk R&D costs) heavy lift booster system in the form of the Saturn V … instead of spending the relatively modest sums that would have been needed to keep that program going, they ditched it completely and within a few years lost the ability to ever restart it for non-egregious cost due to the loss of the associated human capital due to death, retirement and moved-on-to-other-things of most of the people with the expertise needed to run that show. Instead we got the massively expensive, rather-more-unreliable and completely-inappropriate-for-basic-cargo-hauling-missions Shuttle program, now also demised, thus are completely reliant upon private contractors, including the Evil Russian Empire of Putin the Great (to encapsulate the MSM’s propaganda here) for cargo-hauling.

    As with so many other government agencies and private bidnisses the govt has anti-regulated, NASA embodies the “truth is punished, and serial incompetence is rewarded” (anti)ethos.

    1. Cry Shop

      NASA’s competent and ethical managers all got shoved aside by Pointy Hair Boss types, which do very well in Washington – seat of the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, but Speak No Evil depends.

      The cold temperature excuse for Challenger’s booster rockets seal failure is a red herring, fed by Gen. Kutyna to Feynman. To Feynman’s credit he later figured it out, there is an old video I can’t find now where Feynman is almost shedding tears over the rot in our government, by that time he’d been informed that o-rings were well established for over 30+ years by the time of the accident, used in temperature well below zero in cars and airplanes.

      The Rogers Commission paid for a very expensive finite element analysis of the o-ring, at that time very new application of computing power when the Parker o-ring handbook, already 30+ years old, and in those days given away for free, gave all the rules for applications of rings, their design and design of the ring seal grove. They did not want to expose that seating the o-rings on the annular surface violated one the first rules in the handbook.

      What’s more disgusting is that NASA knew their “fix”, adding a 3rd 0-ring did almost nothing to help increase the safety. The necessary fix, of putting the seal on the cylinder face surface, would have required scrapping the entire fleet of booster rockets and also much of the production line. That would have cost many more managers their careers than just killing a few astronauts and a teacher. So in the end, NASA decided to punt, hope there were not going to be any more accidents and try to replace the space shuttle with some other program as fast as possible. This belief that they were going to be rid of the shuttle was another reason why they stopped trying to fix the issues with the shielding. The problem was killing off the shuttle took longer than they expected – due to the military use, and the rest is history and a testimony to NASA and big media not wanting to hear something when it’s not in the interest of the Military Industrial Complex.

  19. George Hier

    I just got back from a Hillary Clinton rally. The location was in Reno, NV, at the Truckee Meadows Community College. I’m not a Clinton supporter, but the college is just down the road from my place, so I figured, what the heck, I’ll let her say her piece and see if she changes my mind. There were a couple of local rallies over the weekend. At least one Sanders rally at nearby University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), but the building they chose couldn’t accomodate more than about 300-400 people, so reservations filled up before I knew about it. I would have liked to see him in person. Clinton had some kind of a ‘women’s health discussion’ at the same campus, but I think it was also limited seating, and more focused towards the medical students. Unlike those events, this one was billed as a free-for-all affair, no ticket reservations necessary.

    Starting out the gate, there were some issues with parking locations. TMCC is at the top of a hill, with the main road a giant loop around it. Unfortunately the website listed the rally location as the Vista building at the south end of campus, where most of the parking is. Naturally, most people pulled up there, but none of us could find any signs or volunteers directing us. It turns out the rally was at the north end Red Mountain building. Not a problem for people in good shape, a real annoyance for the elderly and disabled.

    Checking in went okay, but they wanted everyone to fill out a voter contact form prior to going through security. Well they only had 1-2 people working the line, only 2 clipboards, and they ran out of the blanks just after I finished filling mine out. There were at least 8 other volunteers waiting further up the line at the press table, but they didn’t seem particularly concerned when I let them know the line was out of blanks. It didn’t leave a good impression to me. Volunteers should be a little more go-getter than that, especially for something so simple. I have to wonder what their training program is like, if this is their organization 5 days from the caucus. Security checks went smoothly. There was a huge police presence, at least 100 local cops, not counting the Secret Service or anyone else.

    It was a good choice of venue. Its the main building/food court, so there was lots of space for chairs on the ground floor and overflow on the second floor. I opted for the view from the second floor, as there were a lot of retirees who deserved the seats. They had two bleachers with 50 seats each for the token “diverse backdrop” shot, and about 300 folding chairs set up on the other side, with the press area behind that. Not a bad setup, you can tell they’ve put some real effort into image management. There was a sign language interpreter present during the speech, which I thought was a nice touch. I have no idea if that’s common for presidential stumping or not, but I thought it was nice.

    Demographically speaking, I’d say at least half of the audience were retirees, maybe as much as two thirds. A lot of white faces there. Yes, there were a number of minorities, but I don’t think nearly as many hispanics as what she needs for a strong showing at the caucus. I don’t know how long the caucuses usually last, but with such an elderly population I’d be concerned about people getting tired and going home. The caucus is supposed to start at 11 am on Saturday, so that’ll help, but still… I have no direct impression of Sanders supporters, but I thought in general he plays well among the younger crowd. That might help him if the caucus process runs long?

    There was a rather long delay before things got started. The event was billed for 2:30-4:00pm, with doors opening at 12:45. Most folks arrived about 2:00, but she didn’t arrive until about 3:10. People were getting pretty antsy and tired out by then. They had one volunteer give a hype speech, but that was about 20 minutes prior to Hillary’s arrival, so it had kind of worn off by then. Other than that, there was nothing to do except watch the TV loop campaign blurbs. Some half-hearted cheering and applause for the applause lines. A couple of attempts to get people clapping along to a song, but it didn’t last long.

    The stump speech was pretty typical. Another volunteer gave her hype/introduction speech, while Hillary kind of… stood there? Then she gave her stump speech. It was not bad. She was very on-message, very on-image. She looked like she does on TV, if that makes any sense. She was exactly what you would expect to see from Hillary Clinton in person. There were a great deal of key omissions in her speech, however. She had some stuff about Wall Street, reining in the banks, Obama was handed a shit sandwich with the economy, and did a fantastic job putting it back together (gag me!), we need jobs, affordable college, etc, etc. She mentioned Lehman Brothers and one other bank by name as the kinds of banks we need to break up. (No mention of Goldman Sachs or their donations, of course.) No specifics as to when we’ll break up any banks, but she made a point of saying thanks to Obama we now have Dodd-Frank and *we have that power right now*. That I thought was interesting, my impression was that Dodd-Frank did not go nearly far enough and did not have the teeth necessary to break up banks.

    Had a thing about Scalia in there. Worked it as a Constitutional angle. Scalia loved the Constitution, we love the Constitution, therefore whoever Obama nominates, the Senate Republicans need to confirm, because Constitution. Kind of awkward logic, but it played well with the crowd.

    Health care wise, she had a brief criticism of Sanders, basically going for the “he wants to tear out and renegotiate the ACA entirely, which is obviously DOA because Republicans”. Favors an incrementalism approach to improving the ACA. Railed against the Republicans for obstructionism, very boilerplate. Specifically calls out the need for Medicare to be able to negotiate drug prices (the retirees loved that one). Blames the Republicans and pharmaceutical lobbyists wholly for preventing that negotiation for every government agency except the VA. (Never mind all the Democrats getting pharma money and voting against negotiable drug prices.) Notably said she would not privatize the VA.

    Went over 9/11 briefly, spent a fair amount of time excusing/explaining TSA’s security theater as necessary and appropriate. Skipped right over that Iraq War authorization thing entirely. I would have liked to see some remorse from her about that. Went from 9/11 to the No Fly List, which she supports wholeheartedly. Worked the No Fly List into the gun show loopholes, Charleston loopholes, something something loopholes, etc. Bashed the GOP/NRA for opposing a restriction of gun sales from anyone on the No Fly List. (I can’t say I support any list that restricts freedom of movement without so much as a court order, but apparently Due Process is old-fashioned. Ditto for gun restrictions based on the same list.) Spent a lot of time talking about the wackjob who shot up that church in Charleston. I felt she spent too much time, actually, about three times as much as what she spent on Wall Street. My impression is that Wall Street has done a lot more damage to our way of life than tragic but statistically uncommon gun violence. I also felt it was odd to spend so much time on gun control in a traditionally gun friendly state, but, again, it played well with the audience, so I’m clearly not the target demographic here. Her focus groups must know what they’re doing.

    After the long sad, she wrapped it around to some barn burners to finish up. I will defend a woman’s right to choose (cheer!), I will regulate Wall Street (cheer!), I will not privatize Social Security (big cheer!). Finished her speech, then stuck around to shake hands with folks, especially a few of the disabled folks in wheelchairs, who all had a nice spot up front. The crowd broke up quickly. Again, most of these people are retired, they’ve got better places to be. People seemed pretty happy with how it went, but I didn’t feel the kind of energy I’ve seen from videos of Sanders rallies or back from videos of Obama’s 2008 rallies. I don’t know it that’ll hurt her, or if the silent majority type voters will be plenty to carry her past the line.

    Personally speaking, nothing I saw changed my mind. I’m still deeply against any establishment candidate this cycle, so I’ll likely be voting Sanders/Trump, depending on which makes it to the general.

  20. Some Guy

    From the Atlantic link : “Remember when voting rights, desegregation, and other basic justice were far from “pragmatic”? They became real through years of dedicated, principled, idealism—by insisting the unrealistic become real”

    Sadly, this is not true, although it is a surprisingly common misconception.

    Think about it, does it really seem plausible that every country in the western world simultaneously just happened to have a collection of dedicated idealists working towards social liberal goals (which just happen to be supported by big corporations) over the last few decades, while at the same time every country in the Western world has had an absence of any dedicated idealists working on economic justice issues (which just happen not to be supported by big corporations).

    What a remarkable series of coincidences!

    1. flora

      Flesh out this assertion and argument. There’s no real data or argument as it stands, only vague suggestions of something or other.

    2. Steve H.

      – an absence of any dedicated idealists working on economic justice issues

      Perhaps you might consider where the phrase “one-percent” came from, in relation to popular culture.

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