2:00PM Water Cooler 2/16/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Because control over taxes is seen as core to a country’s sovereignty, many states have included tax-related ‘carve-out’ clauses in these trade and investment treaties to limit ability of corporations and other investors to sue over such disputes” [Transnational Intitute]. “But a growing number of investor-state cases have in fact challenged government tax decisions – from the withdrawal of previously granted tax breaks to multinationals to the imposition of higher taxes on profits from oil and mining. Analysis of data and documents on hundreds of ISDS cases filed so far reveals that foreign investors have already sued at least 24 countries from India to Romania over tax-related disputes – including several cases where companies have used this system to successfully challenge – and lower – their tax bills.”

“Indonesia’s investment laws currently require consent from disputing parties before a matter is taken to international arbitration. The government must first revoke the measure to comply with the TPP before it can join the trade pact of 12 Pacific Rim countries” [Jakarta Post].



“The issue is not Hillary Clinton’s Wall St links but her party’s core dogmas” [Thomas Frank, Guardian].

Unfortunately, focusing on the money being mustered behind Hillary Clinton by various lobbyists and Wall Street figures misses this point. The problem with establishment Democrats is not that they have been bribed by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the rest; it’s that many years ago they determined to supplant the GOP as the party of Wall Street – and also to bid for the favor the tech industry, and big pharma, and the telecoms, and the affluent professionals who toil in such places.

In truth, our affluent, establishment Democrats can no more be budged from their core dogmas – that education is the solution to all problems, that professionals deserve to lead, that the downfall of the working class is the inevitable price we pay for globalization – than creationists can be wooed away from the tenets of “intelligent design”. The dogmas are simply too essential to their identity. Changing what the Democratic party stands for may ultimately require nothing less than what a certain Vermonter is calling a “political revolution”.

“[T]he Clinton-Sanders policy differences are hung up on a more poisonous question: Can people trust her? Hillary has not found a way to acknowledge this disability, since it would require her to talk candidly about the New Democrat era of compromise and retreat from the Democratic party’s old values. Pretending that these blemishes do not exist is a losing strategy” [The Nation].

“The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders” [The Atlantic]. “What makes change happen, history and current U.S. politics show, is principled and courageous commitment and integrity—not Clinton’s fatalistic pragmatism, which insists that pushing for more is unrealistic and therefore capitulates before the fight even starts. On the other hand, it is entirely pragmatic to expect a President Bernie Sanders to fight hard for the justice and equality issues he has championed his entire political life—giving these ideas a chance, rather than no chance at all.”

“Chelsea Clinton: Bernie Sanders’ plan to end mass incarceration is ‘worrying'” [Independent]. Why? Does her hedgie husband have investments in private prisons?

“Hillary Clinton and the Syrian Bloodbath” [The Common Dreams].

Clinton has been much more than a bit player in the Syrian crisis. Her diplomat Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi was killed as he was running a CIA operation to ship Libyan heavy weapons to Syria. Clinton herself took the lead role in organizing the so-called “Friends of Syria” to back the CIA-led insurgency.

The U.S. policy was a massive, horrific failure. Assad did not go, and was not defeated. Russia came to his support. Iran came to his support. The mercenaries sent in to overthrow him were themselves radical jihadists with their own agendas. The chaos opened the way for the Islamic State, building on disaffected Iraqi Army leaders (deposed by the US in 2003), on captured U.S. weaponry, and on the considerable backing by Saudi funds. If the truth were fully known, the multiple scandals involved would surely rival Watergate in shaking the foundations of the US establishment.

“Left-Leaning Economists Question Cost of Bernie Sanders’s Plans” [New York Times]. When Jared Bernstein is at the far left, you know you’re looking at establishment stenography. If only there were a country that had “bent the cost curve” with single payer! They’d need to be continental in scope, multicultural, multiracial, multilingual but with English dominating, with a Federal governing structure and a “free market system.” It would be nice if they were an international player, say in G7. And it make it really tough… Let’s through in the requirement that they be sixty miles north of Montpelier, Vermont.

The Voters

Dynamic polling graphics (fun). Conclusion: “That makes the Trump coalition something new: A secular, populist movement. Past GOP primary races have featured candidates generally occupying one of two lanes: the establishment centrist bloc or the conservative wing” [Wall Street Journal, “How Trump Happened”]. Trump voters are neither “Social Conservatives” nor “Establishment” Republicans.

Same for Sanders: [Wall Street Journal, “How Sanders Happened”].


“A 2014 Sunlight Foundation study, ‘Fixed Fortunes: Biggest corporate political interests spend billions, get trillions,’ found that ‘Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions,’ and received ‘$4.4 trillion in federal business and support,’ in return—$760 in benefits for every dollar spent. That return ‘represents two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury'” [Salon].

“Jeb Bush Assures Pipe-Wielding Thugs He’ll Have The Delegates He Promised Them By Next Week” [The Onion].

The Trail

“Eight years later, Bill Clinton is causing headaches for his wife again” [WaPo].

The economy is “rigged,” Clinton told the crowd, appropriating one of Sanders’s favorite terms, “because you don’t have a president who’s a changemaker . . . with a Congress who will work with him.”

Wait, what? Nobody can criticize Obama! And you worked to elect him!

Clinton’s popularity is driven in part by older voters who recall him as he once was: an energetic, electrifying young politician. But he has also aged dramatically. His words come more slowly and in a raspy voice. His slim stature and drawn features show the toll of age and a stringent diet.

Bill Clinton looks bad on the trail. Cadaverous, if the photos are any guide.

“GOP Oppo Firm Gearing Up For A Possible Sanders Nomination” [Buzzfeed]. With copies of FOIA requests from America Rising.

“His “Cruz Crew” mobile app is designed to gather detailed information from its users’ phones — tracking their physical movements and mining the names and contact information for friends who might want nothing to do with his campaign” [AP]. I wonder if Cruz is the only one, though.

“Donald Trump’s amazing, litigious statement on Ted Cruz” (annotated) [WaPo]. It’s like beating the ref with a folding chair in a professional wrestling match!

Trump’s favorite rhetorical device: The enthymeme [Reuters].

Nevada (this Saturday)

“Is Nevada feeling the Bern? A top staffer makes the case” [Vox].

“Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders might be tied, but there’s not enough data to know” [HuffPo].

“Coin flips? In Nevada, Democratic caucus ties are luck of the draw” [Reno Gazette-Journal].

“Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton spoke at the same black majority baptist church in Las Vagas on Sunday ahead of Saturday’s Nevada Democratic caucus” [Christian Today].

“Not everything is about an economic theory,” Clinton told hundreds of supporters from organized labor at a painters’ union hall Saturday night in Henderson, Nevada. “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow — and I will, if they deserve it; if they pose a systemic risk, I will — would that end racism?” [Santa Fe New Mexican]. Wow. I didn’t catch she said that at a union meeting. With a painful anecdote for Sanders voters at the end: “nearly every Latino voter he has canvassed, he said, has asked the same question: ‘Who is Bernie Sanders?'”

South Carolina (Saturday, February 27)

“In modern times, no state has a record for vicious presidential primary politics to match South Carolina” [The New Republic]. “In 2000, coming off a big win in New Hampshire over George W. Bush, McCain was the victim of a whisper campaign, reputedly spawned by George W. Bush’s campaign, that spread the false rumor that the Arizona senator had an out-of-wedlock black child and that his wife Cindy was a drug addict.”

“Sanders Scores Major Endorsement in South Carolina After Lawmaker Dumps Clinton” [Vice]. Justin T. Bamberg, a prominent African-American and the leading Democrat in the South Carolina state legislature: “What I got from him was not a presidential candidate talking to a state representative, or an old white man talking to a young black guy. What I got from him was a man talking to a man about things that they are passionate about, and that was the tipping point for me.”

PPP poll: Clinton has 55 percent of likely Democratic primary voters there, versus 34 percent for Sanders. Another 12 percent are undecided [The Hill]. Black voters are 63/24 Clinton/Sanders, vs. 86/11 last November. IIRC, the pollsters undercounted Sanders in New Hampshire and Iowa, whether due to underrepresented youth or late deciders. So if you add a 5% fudge factor, that would be 55% – 5% = 50% Clinton, and 34% + 5% = 39% Sanders. That’s a pretty sketchy firewall. Of course, nobody knows anything.

Scalia Trench Warfare

“This was Justice Scalia’s most game-changing decision in his 30 years on the bench” [Business Insider]. Bush v. Gore? Of course not. None of the people weeping at Scalia’s grave mention that one. But that was surely the most game-changing decision: I will believe to my dying day that Scalia and the other “conservative” justices on the court wrote their meritless opinion and selected Bush because they knew he would pack the court with “Justices” whose views were congenial to theirs. (My personal opinion is that every decision made by Justices placed on the bench after Bush v. Gore is, as it were, “fruit of the poisonous tree,” and shouldn’t be law. All should be rolled back. That includes Citizens United.)

“Scalia’s death and the new American Civil War” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. “Either way, the 2016 presidential election already seemed the most consequential of our lifetime — but Scalia’s death has taken things to a completely new level. Before, “merely” the White House was at stake; today, the coming gridlock not just on Capitol Hill but now at the 4-4 divided Supreme Court, seems the start of a full-blown crisis — and anyone who say they know what’s on the other side is lying. That blood-soaked Civil War was the outcome the last time Washington was this dysfunctional.”

“Progressives urge President Obama to nominate Anita Hill to the Supreme Court” [Daily Dot]. Unserious. And neither Clinton’s chief oppo researcher, David Brock, or Joe Biden, would think much of the idea.

“Our Mighty Rearguard” [First Things]. “While his enemies pushed relentlessly to have their views enshrined as fundamental principles of free society, Scalia fought to keep the moral question open for debate, to maintain the possibility of reasonable dissent, because he believed that in a fair fight we could still prevail. He was the mighty rearguard in our long and slow defeat.”

“Before Scalia’s Death, a Clash Between G.O.P. and Obama Over Appellate Judges” [New York Times]. Times puts Charlie Savage on this story, which is great.

Stats Watch

Honey for the Bears: “Lessons from the Crisis: Ending Too Big to Fail” (video) [Neil Kashkari, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis]. Kashkari: “I believe the biggest banks are still too big to fail and continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy.”

Empire State Mfg Survey, February 2015: “For the seventh straight month, the Empire State report is signaling significant contraction for the manufacturing sector” [Econoday]. “This report is showing its weakest run by far of the recovery and, unfortunately, points to extended weakness for the nation’s factory which is getting hit by weak exports and weak energy markets at home.” And: “[I]mproved but continues deeply in contraction” [Econoday]. “As this index is very noisy, it is hard to understand what these massive moves up or down mean – however this regional manufacturing survey is normally one of the more pessimistic.”

Housing Market Index, February 2016: “The housing market index has been losing a little steam but is nevertheless signaling that confidence among the nation’s home builders is very strong” [Econoday]. “The component for present sales has been especially strong as have the future sales. But traffic, reflecting lack of first-time buyers, has been lagging.”

“The Myth Of The Resilient Consumer” [Econintersect]. “The premise of incomes powering a consumer-driven pickup in U.S. economic growth is demonstrably false. And for people renting their homes the squeeze is even greater. … Rent and health care expenses are essentially non discretionary expenditures. Spending more on these items by an extra 5% or so of after-tax incomes puts a serious dent in discretionary spending budgets. This holds especially true given the double-digit declines in real average household income for the lion’s share of households since the turn of the century.”

Carbon: “Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to freeze oil output at near-record levels, the first coordinated move by the world’s two largest producers to counter a slump that has pummeled economies, markets and companies” [Bloomberg].

Honey for the Bears: “Danger signs flashing for global economy, years after crisis” [AP]. “Sinking stock prices, flat inflation, and the bizarre phenomenon of negative interest rates have coupled with a downturn in emerging markets to raise worries that the economy is being stalked by threats that central banks — the saviors during the crisis — may struggle to cope with.”

“Hedge Fund Managers Spot an Opportunity Amid Market Volatility” [D%albook, New York Times]. With sexy photo of a hedgie who just got back in the game. Love the stubble.

“Desperate to avoid more costly run-ins with regulators, investment banks are hiring former intelligence professionals …. to scrutinize virtually all aspects of their employees’ working lives, from how long they take for cigarette breaks to which websites they frequent. The goal: to deter the next market manipulator or rogue trader” [Bloomberg].

“No small change: moving to a cashless society is the next step for the Australian dollar” [Sydney Morning Herald]. “The change will lead to countless benefits for all Australians in convenience and security, and will save billions in transaction costs every year.” Really? And how many of those billions will I get?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32, Fear (previous close: 21) [CNN]. One week ago: 20 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). updated Feb 16 at 10:27am. Needle dropping fast, from Extreme Fear to Fear.


“The impact of the [Malaysian 1MDB] cases is being felt way beyond Malaysia’s borders due to the amount of money allegedly involved and its scope. The parties said to be affected include foreign officials, leading banks and offshore financial centres, with transactions stretching from Kuala Lumpur to the Cayman Islands and from Abu Dhabi to New York.[Financial Times, “Malaysia: The 1MDB money trail”]. “1MDB has become a test of regulators’ ability, and desire, to penetrate a web of dealings that take full advantage of the privacy and cross-border complexity available in the global financial system. It is also being seen as a measure of how well authorities deal with cases of suspected grand corruption.” It’s only a billion. That’s not very much, when you consider all the underground capital flows sloshing about.

“Malaysia 1MDB scandal: FBI investigating Goldman Sachs and Tim Leissner’s connection to missing money” [International Business Times]. A more readable and dishy report: “Goldman Sachs banker embroiled in massive overseas money scandal” [New York Post]. The word “cozy” appears more than once.

Militia Watch

“Can we make sense of the Malheur mess?” [High Country News]. “The Malheur occupation, with the incessant press coverage in its early weeks, was the soapbox for disseminating payloads of misinformation about America’s public lands, about their management, about how and why we have them. Every soundbite was delivered to further the goal of privatization. … Federal water rights that underpin entire agricultural economies, and that are critical to some of the last family farms and ranches in America, will be in play. Few Americans, even those in the cities of the east who know nothing about these lands, will be untouched in some way by the transformation. Once the precedent for divesting federal lands is well-set, the eastern public lands, most of them far more valuable than those in the West, will go on the international auction block.” I picked up the moral of the story, but there’s lots of excellent detail on the occupiers themselves. Important, and well worth a read.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“‘My demons won today’: Ohio activist’s suicide spotlights depression among Black Lives Matter leaders” [WaPo]. A sad reminder that the cost of citizenship can be very high.

“To date researchers have put online 200 of the roughly 1,000 petitions filed in D.C. by slave-holders seeking compensation in exchange for their slaves’ freedom” [National Endowment for the Humanities].

Our Famously Free Press

“How TMZ gets the videos and photos that celebrities want to hide” [The New Yorker]. Too bad there’s no TMZ for the ruling class; then we wouldn’t have to speculate why Scalia had a pillow over his face; we’d have footage!

“Sci-Hub: Russian neuroscientist running ‘Pirate Bay for scientists’ with 48 million free academic papers” [International Business Times]. “Rather than just enabling users to search for and extract the papers they need, the Sci-Hub website is programmed to automatically search for papers on important topics and work out how to download them to its database without spending a penny.”

“Politwoops is back!” [Sunlight Foundation]. “An archive of the public statements [tweets] deleted by U.S. politicians” Dorsey did something good!

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people” [Ars Technica]. “In 2014, the former director of both the CIA and NSA proclaimed that “we kill people based on metadata.” Now, a new examination of previously published Snowden documents suggests that many of those people may have been innocent.”


“Environmental Impact Statement; Introduction of the Products of Biotechnology” [Federal Register]. “We will consider all comments that we receive on or before March 7, 2016.”

Guillotine Watch

“Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. says it’s unable to keep up with demand from the rich” [Bloomberg]. “A longer, wider cabin and a choice of 12 floorplans offer more design configurations for meetings, entertaining and relaxing, the company says. A convection oven, large ice drawers and fitted storage for flatware and crystal enhance the dining options, according to the company.” And if the CIA is the client, extra electrical outlets, buckets, shackles, a cargo door that will open in flight, and so forth.

“Bling below the waves: ‘A submarine of my own'” [BBC].

Class Warfare

“Of the 105,194 farmland owners who rent out land in Iowa, 80.6 percent do not farm land themselves, a USDA study says. Almost half of those non-operators are individuals, but partnerships, trusts and corporations also own significant amounts of farmland” [Des Moines Register]. “In 2014, Iowa farm landlords received $3.74 billion in rent payments, the second highest total in the nation.”

“If you think renting is tough when you’re young, it’s even worse when you’re older or elderly. Without a massive deposit, buying property when you’re over 50 is largely impossible. Retirement ages are rising and life expectancy is lengthening, which for many means a longer life experienced in poor pay or actual poverty. Tenants in their 40s or above are firmly at the bottom of the house-share pile. Older renters (even those as young as 50) also face the indignity of being offered sheltered housing” [Guardian].

“A team of researchers, led by Sarah Hill, who teaches psychology at Texas Christian University… found that people who grow up poor seem to have a significantly harder time regulating their food intake, even when they aren’t hungry” [WaPo].

News of the Wired

“Watch: Three photographers just climbed one of the world’s tallest buildings bare-handed” [Quartz]. I tried to watch, but got queasy. Great metaphor for today’s labor market, especially for the young.

* * *

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 (Kurt Sperry):


Kurt writes:

These are more spring-like than wintery but I can’t help that, that’s what is going on here in the yard.

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Water Cooler would not exist without your support.


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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. JTMcPhee

      Hmmm — while the miasma of conspiracy wafts about, might one wonder, speculate, ponder even, whether, in order to get her turn, and with all that the lout has done to her (and fortuitously to over 300 million of the rest of us USians and billions of other mopes across the planet), whether Hillary would Kill Bill to attract the sympathy vote? “Pleeeease… I’m a helpless, penisless widow now! I neeeeeed your Vooootes!”

    1. sd

      Banning the $100 bill or moving to a cashless society just means people will resort to other forms of currency. Commerce does not stop because pieces of paper no longer exist. New forms will just take their place.

    2. Benedict@Large

      The effort to ban the $100 bill is part of the effort to eliminate currency, which, regardless of stated purpose, is part of an effort to charge a fee on all current exchanges of currency. This is part of an effort to eliminate the federal government as the issuer of currency,

    3. sd

      If the $100 bill is repealed or society goes cashless, something else of value will replace it. As much as the PTB would like that not to be the case, people are very resourceful.

  1. John

    The Walking Dead may be the metaphor for the election, Billy Bob Jeff Clinton, his triangulating ways…question is, Eater or Survivor?? Not clear yet…Is Hillary immune??? What about the offspring??? Predatory Capitalists or just regular old Zomby? Tune in the current season. See who survives to the summer. See who survives to next Fall. Spoiler alert: The Republicans are all Zomby Eaters. The mutation first occurred in the White House when Nixon met at very stoned Elvis.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Yeah, the strange is getting weird. And no paperback Illumanati to guide us through the desert of the constant of change. We’ll just have to gut this out on our own. Straps on for the bumpy ride.

    2. laura

      Re Billy Bob Jeff Clinton: actor Billy Bob Thornton’s first job was on a road crew in Arkansas and his employer was then Governor Bill Clinton. So there’s that.

  2. Carla

    Ben Carson says Republicans wouldn’t wait to replace Scalia “if we held the White House.”

    He also opined: the Supreme Court has become a “political tool,” adding that it might be time to look at term limits for the justices.

    “When we enacted that program, the average age of death was 47. And now it’s 80. You know, things have changed, so we need to change with them,” Carson said.

    Quite a statement for an arch-conservative.


    1. Uahsenaa

      It’s always lovely to see when a medical doctor doesn’t understand that pre-modern life expectancies are entirely to do with infant and childhood mortality. Basically, for all of recorded history, if you lived to adulthood, it’d be perfectly normal to live into your 60s or 70s.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But now, people have to struggle against chemicals, pesticides, bad air, iffy drinking water, imported laminating flooring, moldy dry walls, commuting stress, debt collectors at dinner time, etc.

        People should be proud, or just feeling lucky, to have made to their 60s and 70s.

      2. Carla

        “for all of recorded history, if you lived to adulthood, it’d be perfectly normal to live into your 60s or 70s.”

        Well, if you were a man. Many women died in childbirth. And in the 19th century, doctors often performed abortions, or many more women would have perished before their time.

        But still, “things have changed, so we need to change with them” is quite a remarkable statement coming from Carson. Maybe he didn’t quite realize what he was saying.

        1. Uahsenaa

          Absolutely, which is why I struggled with how to word it. “Perfectly normal to live in to old age…” was what I came up with.

    2. Ed

      Carson, who apparently has written a book on the Supreme Court is right.

      Like many things with the U.S. government, this country was the first with a Supreme Court and other countries has copied us. But they also worked out kinks in the concept that Americans never bothered to get around to.

      And one of these is fixed terms and/ or mandatory retirement ages for justices. They are pretty obviously needed, and the U.S. Supreme Court is the only one in the world without either.

  3. Anon

    Re: How Sanders Happened

    Very interesting to see how in the 8th slide that Obama is considered more liberal than Bill Clinton, but maybe that’s a sign of the times, I guess.

  4. Timmy

    “Investment banks hiring former intelligence professionals to catch bad actors before they cheat.”

    Anchoring the narrative on the “bad apples” on Wall Street. Gotta have a firewall between the executives and jail and the firm’s business models and SEC waivers.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The merger of the military industrial complex with the financial industrial complex.

      That is bound to happen soon or later. More efficiency this way.

      1. human

        ” The National Security Act of 1947, which created the CIA, was written by Wall Street lawyer and banker Clark Clifford. Clark Clifford is the man who brought the CIA backed drug bank BCCI into the United States. Allen Dulles who virtually designed the CIA and served as its Director, and his brother John Foster who was Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, were Wall Street lawyers from the firm Sullivan and Cromwell. Dwight Eisenhower’s personal liaison with the CIA was none other than Nelson Rockefeller. William Casey was Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission under Richard Nixon. Former CIA Directors from William Raborn to William Webster to Robert Gates to James Woolsey to John Deutch all sit or have sat on the Boards of the largest, richest and most powerful companies in America.” ~ Michael Ruppert

  5. grayslady

    Why anyone would listen to anything Chelsea Clinton says is beyond me. What is her special expertise? What unique contributions has she made to society? After pursuing numerous degrees, it seems she still couldn’t carve out a career for herself; yet, she’s being quoted in the newspapers as some sort of serious spokesperson. Spare me.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Chelsea Clinton said the goal [lowering incarceration rates] was not achievable, however, as the majority of inmates are held at state, not federal, prisons.

      Then why was hillary grandstanding in Flint last week? Poisoning members of selected minority communities is a “state” not federal endeavor as well.

      We are not electing a “queen.”

    2. RUKidding

      While it’s not uncommon for spawn of politicians to stump for their ‘rents who are running for office, for the life of me, I have no idea why anyone should listen to anything that Chelsea says as if she has some sort of “clue” about the topic.

      Stump for you mom – fine.
      Lecture me about whatever – go away.

      Chelsea led a very sheltered life and is now married to a super rich hedge fund manager. I have no interest in her opinion on anything.

      1. Christopher Fay

        Chelsea’s husband is not super rich. He has only a few tens of millions of AUM, money that was funneled to his fund by Goldmine Sachs as yet another form of pay-off from GS to the Clintons. And I believe I read Chelsea’s mate lost big betting on Ukraine’s bonds, you know, that failed state. I guess the thinking was the U. S. taxpayer was going to be used to bail the state of Hillary’s favorite oligarch.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          LOL she thought the fix was in when Mom arranged the coup in the Ukraine, poetic justice I guess

      2. sleepy

        From what little I’ve read of Barbara Pierce Bush, Dubya’s daughter, she has done a much better job with her life than Chelsea. Her Global Health Corps seems to be a legit charity and though it’s probably infused with neoliberal doctrine, at least it doesn’t appear to be a slush fund. And she stays out of the public picture and doesn’t seem to think of herself as a celebrity.

        Maybe it’s the way of old money v. new money. Or maybe I get a kick out of saying a Bush is better than a Clinton.

        1. RP

          and they’re both deplorable know-nothings who are that way because they didn’t have an ounce of adversity their whole lives. Whether one is the first or second generation to experience that phenomenon in perpetuity is immaterial.

    3. sd

      She has degrees in history, philosophy and public health. As far as I can tell, she has not actually done anything of interest. Rather, she is continually appointed to serve at various organizations based on being a member of the Clinton royalty.

      Will she continue to be popular once her parents on gone? Unlikely.

      1. Sam Adams

        Isn’t that what one always must do with a princess? Mary them off to a useful political marriage and trot them out to look pretty?

    4. Ed

      I took a few minutes to think of examples of other children of Presidents being quoted in the media to the extent that Chelsea Clinton are George W. and Jeb Bush, because they went into politics and got elected to high office. David Eisenhower became a historian, and Margaret Truman a mystery writer, and sometimes appeared in the back pages of newspapers for those reasons. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had daughters who married semi-famous people. But the children of John Kennedy were both featured quite often in the media without having any real accomplishments between them.

      You hear nothing about any children Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, or George W Bush may have had.

      1. RP

        Reagan’s bio son Ron disavowed dad’s entire political persona (real and imagined) and made a career out of that. Radio shows failed, now a head on MSNBC. Adopted son Mike from Wyman marriage did conservative radio, failed (called for a guy to be executed for treason on the air), and has a history of bigotry & shady financial dealings. They loathe each other. If you’ve ever heard either of them speak, you know they’re lucky to have that last name.

        Amy Carter was an activist in the 80s and 90s but is low key now.

        I got nothing in Ford’s kids.

    5. jgordon

      I think you are completely wrong about Chelsea. Just as an example of how noble and broad-minded she is, she did once say that she has thought about money and a lot and decided that she could live without it no problem. Normal people couldn’t say something like that!

  6. Carolinian

    Paul Street in Counterpunch says that it is well known that the Clintons hate Obama for the way that Obie beat them in 2008. This could account for Bill’s diss/gaff.

    Which if true would mean Hillary’s sucking up to Obama (and attacks on Sanders for not doing so) is as phony as everything else she says.

    Also every night now I get a call from Cruz’ Keep the Promise super pac. I always hang up but think next time I will see what kind of push poll he’s dishing out.

    1. RUKidding

      I’ve listened to very very very little of any of the debates from either “team,” but somehow managed to catch that specious and weird dust-up between Clinton and Sanders about who looooooooooved Obama more. I was about to turn off the radio, but it was so very weird that I was compelled – in the watching a train wreck fashion – to keep listening.

      I was all like: WHUT???

      Hilz made her peace w/Obama when he let her be SoS, but her professed fealty to him rang utterly false to me. I figure the ONLY reason why Clinton went on and on about her looooooooooooove for Obama was a shout out to AAs that she was more in their camp than Sanders ever could be. Only thing that made any sense.

      Hilz: still a phony after all these years.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        She might be wicked, but that was a clever move.

        “You don’t love Obama as much as I do…publicly, that is.”

        That’s why it is better we have a complacent Hillary, and why it’s important not to under-estimate her.

        “Act as if she is ahead all the time.”

  7. Jim Haygood

    ‘Chelsea Clinton said [Sanders’] goal [of ending mass incarceration] was not achievable, however, as the majority of inmates are held at state, not federal, prisons.’

    This is disingenuous. Who started the Drug War? Nixon’s federal government, which proceeded to fund its expansion at the state level.

    Who started the seismic shift from trials to plea bargains? William French Smith, Ronald Reagan’s attorney general. States copied the model.

    Now that several states have decriminalized cannabis, it’s still the troglodytic federal government that classifies it as Schedule I (dangerous and lacking any medical value) under the Controlled Substances Act.

    With a Masters degree in Public Health, Chelsea Clinton can’t be unaware of these facts. It’s just that Friends of the Gulag are much more generous contributors to the Clintons than the 2.2 million strong underclass locked in its cages.

    Maybe Chelsea should have a word with her ex-con father-in-law, Ed Mezvinsky, who did five years in the federal pen on 31 charges of felony fraud. He might have some tips for Chelsea’s mom.

  8. lyman alpha blob

    Very enjoyable pseudo-obituary of Scalia here – The Loser’s Way (or What Do You Do When Your Politics Suck.

    “Well, I have only three words for such childish agents of the destruction of America and American democracy. They are the same words the lovely Scalia liked to arrogantly spit in the face of anyone who would complain about his hijacking of the presidential election process in his Bush v. Gore travesty. “Get over it,” he would say.

    So here’s my message to all the right-wing toddlers and their infantile temper tantrums:

    Your guy’s dead. Your majority on the Court is dead. Your politics and the repressed and repressive society you envision are dead.

    Get over it.”

    Not so sure I’d count the whole movement dead just yet but otherwise, hear hear!

  9. Pespi

    How easily could you make ‘anti middle-manning’ into a campaign slogan? Standing against everyone who extracts rents while offering nothing.

    Second question: How many nc readers would vote for Trump if he was running against Clinton? Does it come down to your belief in the seriousness of his horrible anti muslim/anti immigrant rhetoric?

    1. Ian

      Is Trump still against the TPP and various other trade agreements? I think that officially makes him the lesser evil. Sadly.

    2. Jess

      I swear to God, if it’s Trump versus Shillary, I’m voting for Trump. And let’s not hear any Jill Stein/Green Party bullshit. If the GP was actually a functioning party I might consider it. But in it’s current version it’s a club for dilettantes.

      1. Christopher Fay

        If Hillary is the dumbo’s nominee, I’m voting Trump. Let the deluge come and we will see who arrives on the far shore. With Hillary the possibility of Boston being nuked increases.

        1. hunkerdown

          If one must have a deluge, Boston getting hit means the Ivy League loses a few facilities, which is probably a yuuuuge long-term net positive for the commoners.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            With free college education, I think they will be looking to expand.

            Monetize that elite college brand.

            “We have a bigger customer base now. Let’s not lose our market share.”

      2. lindaj

        Better than a club for crooks which is what the other guys are. And they let Bernie in their clubhouse. So there.

    3. Carl

      In an ordinary election year, you wouldn’t catch me voting for Trump (or any R), but this is no ordinary election. Hillary= D nominee, Carl votes for Trump. Not Cruz, though. By the by, the local fishwrap (San Antonio Excuse for News) endorsed Hill and Bush…lol.

      1. James Levy

        Shades of 1933? I guess all the vitriol about Obama’s kill lists around here doesn’t count for much if no one cares about Trumps pledges to torture and kill the families of accused terrorists. But hey, Trump might, just might, protect my job, so fuck those sand niggers!

  10. thoughtful person

    While I’ve enjoyed (and usually agreed with) Lambert’s occasional #I hate it when Trump is right comments, Trump has made too many racist comments and propsals for my taste. I think he’s dangerous in that he could end up expanding the gulag among other things.

    Right now I lean toward Stein(GP), writing in Sanders, or not voting for the top of the ticket.

    Certainly not voting for Clinton and maintaining the status quo of mass death in the middle east plus all the domestic crap. Yes, per today’s Salon article, the corporations do get quite a high return on those billions in “contributions”. 760$ back for each $ “invested” Not bad!

  11. Jeff W

    When Jared Bernstein is at the far left, you know you’re looking at establishment stenography.

    Well, to be fair to a totally unfair hit piece, it doesn’t exactly say Jared Bernstein is “at the far left”—it characterizes economists such as Bernstein as “left-leaning” or “left-of-center” which, in today’s political environment means, presumably, he’s for some minimum wage and against repealing child labor laws. Well, come to think of it, that might be “far left” to the Times.

    That said, there’s this:

    It is not just Mr. Sanders’s assumptions for health savings that critics contest. Jared Bernstein, the former economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. who is now at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, examined a paper by the economist advising Mr. Sanders, Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, that is circulating on the left.

    While calling Mr. Friedman’s work a good effort, Mr. Bernstein cited several assumptions as “wishful thinking.” Among them were minimal health-cost inflation, economic growth reaching 5.3 percent and, in that heated-up economy, no action from the Federal Reserve to apply brakes.

    So the Times can’t be bothered to link to the paper (here and here) but refers to it as some paper “circulating on the left” as if it’s some clandestine document à la Emmanuel Goldstein’s Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism in Orwell’s 1984? And some of the assumptions are “wishful thinking”? Well, OK, taking the assumptions that aren’t wishful thinking and substituting more realistic assumptions for the ones that are (according to Mr Bernstein), what are the likely dynamic effects of Sanders’ initiatives? Bernstein doesn’t say and, of course, the Times doesn’t ask. (And, needless to say, asking Gerald Friedman to comment on any of this would be, well, out of the question.)

    1. Katiebird

      Wishful thinking…. i wish that some national news organization would add up the out of pocket costs of Health Insurence Extortion (Premiums, Copayments, Deductibles, etc) for regular Americans. What percentage are we coughing up out of our take home pay? How many dollars each year? How long are we supposed to carry this burden?

      This isn’t even actual health care!

      Why should we care about whether the Federal Budget can afford it! My budget can’t but if I don’t pay the extortionists, it might cost me or someone I love their life. So every month we send 20% of our take home pay out to those crooks.

      Wishful thinking? It infuriates me — these guys really think we don’t know how much we are losing to this insane health care system every month?

      1. JTMcPhee

        What is turning “health care” into “medical treatment UNsurance” costing us mopes, over and above what, say, Medicare For All might cost?

        I did a cursory look — because the PPACA and the UNsurance Industry have dived into the creation of complexity head first with their grasping hands outstretched, it seems there is a wealth of very particularlized data and studies, but nothing I have come across that reduces the cost to a sound bite that might have some wings. With the manifold tierings (“metal” plans, percentage of poverty level income for figuring subsidies, drug tierings within formularies, differentials between states and even between counties within states, on and on) it would have to be someone a lot smarter than me who tried to apply the math and the statistics to “figure it out.” A couple of sources: https://www.healthpocket.com/individual-health-insurance/out-of-pocket-costs/#.VsPI_UBIRaU, and http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/671916.pdf

        So many issues in the attempt… Just framing the question(s) to be asked — what cohorts, what pre-existing conditions, levels of employment and income, non-discretionary costs that so many of us are already shouldering (student loans,, upside-down mortgages, monthly chunks to pay off pre-PPACA medical bills and get a little foothold back on the Fool’s Ladder of “credit-score worthiness…”).

        I used to deal with complexity when I was playing lawyer in multi-million-dollar transactions and litigation. It just boggles me.

        And the big point, that you make so poignantly: “This isn’t even actual health care!” No, it’s UNsurance (see explanation of my term below) — and I’ve dumped the following into netspace elsewhere, but feel it’s worth sharing here too:

        As a nurse, I spent a quarter or more of my work day trying to overcome the “presumption against coverage” and “denial of service” front-offices of the UNsurance companies that under ACA and other privatized medical treatment entities are “providing access to health (sic, should be “medical treatment”) UNsurance.” UNsurance, because the “policyholder” is UNsure if their needed medications will be “on formulary” and in the same “tier” from this week to next. UNsurance because they are UNsure whether their accustomed provider will be “in network” or “on plan” this week or next, or whether the massive crushing bureaucracy that privatizing all this entails, coupled with the transfer of wealth inward and upward to corporate rulers and interests, has just driven their doctors and nurses out of the professions altogether. In the same vein, UNsure whether their providers have declined to sign on to the ‘adhesion contracts’ that privatized UNsurance corps present them with. UNsure where their “individually identifiable personal private medical information” that goes inexorably into all those Electronic Medical Records that turn out to be about LOOTING, not improving care, is collected, and who it is sold to as part of “big data” that also enriches the few at the expense of the many. UNsure whether the treatments and procedures and specialists they need, NEED, not “want,” access to are covered now or will be next week. UNsure what their “deductibles” and “co-pays” and other surprises will be today or going forward. PRETTY SURE that “medical bankruptcy” is still a very serious likelihood in the event of any serious medical problem.

        From Wiki, a snippet: “Bruce Vladeck, director of the Health Care Financing Administration in the Clinton administration, has argued that lobbyists have changed the Medicare program “from one that provides a legal entitlement to beneficiaries to one that provides a de facto political entitlement to providers.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_%28United_States%29 The object of the last clause should be “UNsurance companies, pharmacies and other rentiers.”

        Yah, there are a lot of people that, over time, if a Medicare For All program was instituted, would have to find other work, including my daughter, whose employer, an ACA and ‘other private UNsurance’ third-party servicer, was just bought in a $500 million acquisition from the private-equity owner, to “consolidate” (that grossly misleading word – a precursor to “monopoly’) another part of the privatized-UNsurance Overhead Bureaucracy and its expenses, including of course executive payouts and bonuses — I almost said “compensation,” but that implies payment for some actual useful work. How many people have had to try to find other jobs as a result of NAFTA and the rest of “globalization?” At least the change to national HEALTH CARE would make their transition a whole lot easier, less expensive (ever paid for a COBRA “policy?”) and more secure…

        Interesting to look at what I can find about the number of people who “work for the government” in Medicare and related entities — from this 2013 source, it looks like out of the 2.7 million federal public employees, about a max of 70,000 work for Health and Human Services and CMS, in all HHS departments.

        Data, Analysis & Documentation Federal Employment Reports
        Employment and Trends – September 2013
        TABLE 9 — FEDERAL CIVILIAN EMPLOYMENT AND PAYROLL (IN THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS) BY BRANCH, SELECTED AGENCY, AND AREA, SEPTEMBER 2013 https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/employment-trends-data/2013/september/table-9/

        Compare that “inefficient not-operated-like-a-business” (thank God) bureaucracy (with all its acknowledged flaws and friction losses and subjugation to privatizing lobbying pressures) to just the 365,000 direct-policyholder-contact “jobs” reported in the UNsurance sector by BLS in this chart: http://beta.bls.gov/dataViewer/view/timeseries/OEUN000000052411400000001
        Maybe others have some numbers on how many “jawbs” would need to be displaced into the Public Sector (that by the way apparently can manage to pay better wages than the UNsurance corporatocracy chooses to – excepting, of course, the 450-times-working-stiff “compensation packages” for Corner Office barons, along with providing more “service” to the “patient,” as opposed to “profit for the corporation,” per employee) to accommodate something like Medicare for All? And what a stupid measure, when it’s kind of hard to argue that other countries, like Canada with its provincial/national health care (NOT UNsurance) system, don’t get a whole lot more for their dollar of “health care” than we do here. And how many of those people in private UNsurance are knowledgeable about coding, which is apparently an inevitable part of our idiot future medical care management? A skill set that will migrate directly into gub’mint service? By the way, “Myths about Canadian, US healthcare debunked,” http://www.marketwatch.com/story/myths-about-canada-us-health-care-debunked-2012-08-09 And on US “superiority” and access to medical treatments, why do maybe nearly two million Americans go to foreign countries for medical treatments supposedly so very accessible (if not so very “affordable”) here? Wandering the world in what is euphemistically called “medical tourism?”

        “While most would think that medical travelers seek cheap and fast medical attention, some facts in a May 2008 McKinsey and Company report regarding medical tourism indicated otherwise. The report states that 40% of medical travelers [from all national destinations, not just the US] seek advanced technology, while 32% seek better healthcare. Another 15% seek faster medical services while only 9% of travelers seek lower costs as their primary consideration.

        A lack of health insurance is the most common factor for medical travel.
        • Approximately 2.5 million foreign patients traveled to hospitals in Thailand in 2013. In Bangkok’s prestigious Bumrungrad International Hospital, over 520,000 international patients received treatment at the hospital.
        • Singapore has been a growing medical tourism center in South East Asia with 850,000 medical tourists arriving in 2012.
        • Latin America, particularly Costa Rica and Panama, are fast becoming tourist spots for medical travelers with approximately 40,000 foreign patients seeking healthcare in Costa Rica in 2011.
        • Due to its close proximity to the U.S., Mexico has become a top medical tourism destination with 40,000 to 80,000 American seniors spending their retirement there with a considerable number receiving nursing home and health care.
        • After more than doubling in the last 5 years, Malaysia is also becoming a famous destination with 770,134 medical travelers in 2013.
        • India has become a medical tourism hot spot, with 166,000 international patients in 2012 coming to the country due to the selection of highly skilled doctors and improved medical infrastructure.

        Potential Cost Savings among Nations offering Medical Services

        Satisfied American patients reported gaining savings from 25% to 75% depending on the type of services required and can reach as high as 90%. Savings vary per country and depend on the type of procedure required.

        Most U.S. citizens traveling abroad for medical services usually choose the following categories of medical tourism procedures:
        • Dental;
        • Cosmetic;
        • Orthopedic;
        • Cardiovascular.
        Americans prefer Mexico, Costa Rica or Panama for dental services or cosmetic surgeries due to their proximity. Southeast Asia and India are the choice destinations for orthopedic and cardiovascular cases due to the high quality of healthcare, and a significant number of U.S accredited hospitals and physicians.

        The following are some of potential savings and services that can be acquired in various medical tourism destinations.

        • Medical care in Panama would cost up to 40% to 70% less in comparison to the U.S.
        • A 40% to 50% savings in dental work and cosmetic surgery can be obtained in Hungary.
        • Mexico is a favorite destination offering 25% to 35% savings for dental and cosmetic surgery.
        • Costa Rica offers 30% to 40% savings for dental and cosmetic surgery services.
        • Brazil offers cosmetic surgery services at 40% to 50% less.
        • India provides various healthcare services at 20% of the U.S. cost.
        • Various healthcare services can be obtained at 30% less than U.S. prices in Thailand.
        • Singapore offers various medical services in 13 JCI accredited hospitals for only 35% less than U.S. prices.
        • Cosmetic surgery and alternative medicine can be obtained in Malaysia for 25% of the U.S. cost.

        By the way, it appears that the number of Canadians coming to the US for medical services is statistically kind of minuscule, maybe 40-45,000 a year, maybe a whole lot less recently. There’s also some strange reason why medications are far cheaper and far more accessible in Canada than they are in the US… Though I understand it is against US law to buy from Canadian pharmacies, because FEAR! And Profit! And Markets!

        Regarding comparisons to Europe, from what I read, the Brussels EU-NATO technocracy, per Herr Wolfgang Schaeuble, plans to force a centralized ruling bureaucracy over all those “28 countries,” to pack them into one neoliberal “free (sic) markets RULE!” entity. (Also Hillary Clinton’s apparent notion of the highest form of political economy.) https://euobserver.com/political/129799 So can a single, centralized, probably privatized (in that neoliberal horror show that’s killing “social democracy” over there) entity for medical care be forced onto those countries that have their separate versions of national health care coverage, where even the private parts are currently subject to regulation and cost control limits and provide better and cheaper care than the US structure? As many say, “we shall see…” In the meantime, here’s a paper on how the German “mixed, trending neoliberal, away from social democracy” scheme works – not what one tends to see in the Narrative: http://www.howtogermany.com/pages/healthinsurance.html Note there are some pretty German cost controls in place, even for the private insurance side.

        In the meantime, can I dare to note that as a disabled Vietnam veteran, going on age 70, I get VA health care and qualify for Medicare too? From my own decades as a worker, part of it as a lawyer for the EPA and then in a big law firm (itself now engulfed by a still bigger supranational law firm) and in several subsequent wage-earning careers as a retail worker and finally as a nurse, I was the “beneficiary” subject to various kinds of privatized “health insurance.” The whole gamut, from old-style fee-for-service, to capitation, to “managed care,” to the Blues, and now via “socialized sort of single payer actual health care.” For my money, I’ll take the VA and Medicare any freakin’ day. Especially VA, which employs some 325,000 people in its COMBINED functions of caregiver and worker’s comp/”disabled veterans programs,” that same VA which is “allowed” to negotiate with the effing Big Pharmas over the price the government agency will pay for medications, and other silly stuff like durable medical equipment and now increasingly “outside privatized” treatment. As a result, my meds are a max of $9 for a 90 day supply. And yes, that is for “formulary” drugs, which is still a huge set, but if my primary provider does a little paperwork, it can be extended to cover meds that are not on formulary. No “donut hole,” no deciding whether to pay the rent, buy food or pay an increasing amount for cardiac and other meds that sort of help keep me alive.

      2. Jeff W

        Yeah, exactly. And it’s a burden no other advanced country in the world forces its citizens to carry.

        The economists and others who look only at the cost of a single payer system and not, at the very least, at the pretty obvious fact that people are no longer paying premiums, deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, etc. are just dishonest. Add to that the savings that would accrue because people would not be delaying, deferring or never availing themselves of health care, thereby resulting in more costly medical interventions later. Add to that, the savings that come from eliminating the human cost resulting from dealing with, as Corey Robin points out, “that byzantine complexity” that “is a symptom of what the ordinary citizen has to confront when she tries to get health insurance for herself or her family.” And probably none of those even get to the dynamic effects that Friedman is pointing to.

        Friedman says that, instead of a $3.8 trillion cost to the public (a whopping 6% of the federal budget), the cost would be $2.7 trillion. What’s Bernstein’s figure? And, assuming the $3.8 trillion cost is correct, we’re somehow concerned about the costs of universal health care, free public university education, childcare, and infrastructure repair and improvement—which would help the lives of millions of ordinary US citizens and residents—but almost no one cares that we spent $6 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which accomplished close to nothing and cost countless lives?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yep, and that level of dishonesty is exactly what career “progressives” bought into when they made CBO-scoring the be-all and end-all test for health care financing. Just appalling.

  12. 3.14e-9

    Rosemary Flowers! *

    Nothing I love more than the blossoming of herbs in early spring (and according to the old pagan custom, spring begins at Imbolc, beginning of February). I eat the flowers right off the plants or brew them in a tisane. Lovely closeup shot. Thanks, Kurt Sperry.

    * No relation to Jennifer.

  13. ewmayer

    Re. The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people | Ars Technica — A.k.a. field testing of experimental tech intended to be deployed more broadly (including at home) in the future. Ya can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs – or in this case pink-misting a few Pakistani wedding parties – right? Far-away conflict zones – and no risk of running out of those, just create new ones as needed – make for ideal beta-testing laboratories, just as is often done with experimental vaccines in Africa.


    “Not everything is about an economic theory,” Clinton told hundreds of supporters from organized labor at a painters’ union hall Saturday night in Henderson, Nevada.

    Right, economic reality should not be ignored – and HillBillary’s only economic reality is where her next big bribe is coming from.

    “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow — and I will, if they deserve it; if they pose a systemic risk, I will — would that end racism?”

    Note the clever misdirection play here – she starts with a lie, that she would ever do anything that goes against the narrow interests of her Wall Street paymasters – and ends with a non sequitur, that “ending racism” is the (obviously unrealistic and thus by implication wrong-headed) main aim of TBTF-breakup proposals. Putting a dent in the looting operation would surely help on the economic-inequality front, which would help 99% of Americans, including at least that fraction of Americans of color. What’s not to like? Classic Lucy-yanking-the-football-away debate tactics here.

  14. efschumacher

    “The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders”

    This is exactly what @TheJensie said about his chances of winning a stage of the Tour de France: if he goes out in a break he has maybe a 10% chance, if he doesn’t go, he has zero chance. So it is just logic that he MUST go for it.

    Ditto Bernie.

  15. efschumacher

    “To date researchers have put online 200 of the roughly 1,000 petitions filed in D.C. by slave-holders seeking compensation in exchange for their slaves’ freedom” [National Endowment for the Humanities].

    A parallel effort to document the descendants of the petitioners for “compensation” and their current wealth, will also be illuminating.

  16. Jim

    The article “My demons won today: Ohio Activist’s Suicide spotlights depression among Black Lives Matter Leaders.” highlights the rarely discussed topic of the relationship between mental illness and politics.

    “Since he died early last week, news of McCarrel’s suicide has rocked the national police protest movement, forcing a round of introspection about a reality that predates the seminal 2014 shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. Some of the most prominent activists and organizers are battling not only the system but depression.”

    “There are so many folks in this movement that have serious mental health issues,” said Alexis Templeton, who is among the most prominent organizers in St. Louis. “There are so many folks who are on the brink of killing themselves.”

    Such statements appear to support the hypothesis that our contemporary collective cultural environment is generating mental dysfunction on an individual level(especially depression) among a growing proportion of our population, including political activists.

    Is it conceivable that mental dysfunction often shapes the causes for which a population is mobilized?

    Is it conceivable that much ideological activism is delusionally inspired?

    Is it conceivable that presidential elections in the United States generate a type of monomania–where the election of a particular individual becomes a matter of life and death for millions?

    1. JTFaraday

      I do think it’s interesting that BS is leading with the social welfare aspect of social democracy more so than the whip cracking producerist aspect of social democracy. I take this to be a necessary correction. Not because the job market is good, but just because we don’t need to hear the whip cracking over our backs all the time.

      I have other thoughts about this. Like, for example, that neoliberal business would love to dump the social welfare responsibilities of employers. I still don’t understand why a few health care financing companies managed to out gun everyone else the last time out.

  17. CraaaaazyChris

    Here’s the latest 2016 election analysis from craaaazyLabs northWest:

    * Low information Republicans prefer Trump (and there are a lot of them).
    * High info Repubs are much harder to find and prefer Jeb, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, but secretly would be ok with Hillary.
    * Low info Dems prefer Hillary. (If they e.g. don’t understand that ObamaCare was an own-goal, or see the connection between her SecState policy and the European migration crisis, then they are low info Dems.)
    * High info Dems prefer Sanders (but I’m showing bias here – probably not as smart as I think :-)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One day, in a distance galaxy, there is a world populated only by high information people.

  18. Plenue

    “Our Mighty Rearguard”

    Bigots whining that it isn’t socially acceptable to be bigots anymore. And it is about bigotry, full stop. They oppose gay marriage because the idea of two men kissing makes them feel icky. Everything else is merely a pathetic attempt at rationalizing their revulsion. Every single ‘logical’ argument against gay marriage is varying degrees of stupid and historically illiterate.

    “I lived amidst a youth culture wherein disapproval of homosexuality was not even resisted—it was unthinkable. Conservative young people found it impossible to voice straightforward dissent or to question the new moral consensus. To stand against the tide of acceptance was to be bigoted, ignorant, unfeeling, hateful.”

    Have you ever considered that they were right, and you’re just an asshole?

      1. 3.14e-9

        Childish, I know, but my first thought when I got Motion 5 and found all the cool explosive effects was to start blowing s–t up, starting with the White House, the Pentagon, NSA Data Center … so many targets, so little time. Then paranoia got the best of me.

    1. 3.14e-9

      That’s just creepy.

      I did a quick search to see if maybe it was a fake, but there’s one on eBay offered by a reputable seller. There were many other styles, too, indicating that this wasn’t actually his logo, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy.

  19. Jagger

    “Can we make sense of the Malheur mess?” https://www.hcn.org/articles/malheur-occupation-oregon-ammon-bundy-public-lands-essay

    “According to federal morbidity stats in 1999, 9,599 white men killed themselves. By 2010 that number was 14,379. In 2013 the U.S. recorded 41,149 suicides, 70 percent of which were white men, who mostly shot themselves. The most heavily affected demographic is middle-aged white men in the 45 to 64 age cohort.

    3429 suicides a month in 2013. In April 1969, the height of the Vietnam war, we lost 543 KIA in a month. Worst month of the war. Yet these suicide numbers were month after month in 2013 and we hear nothing from anyone. Just shocking.

    1. LifelongLib

      I’m a little wary about using the actual number of suicides (i.e. “successful” suicide attempts) as the most reliable indicator of suicidal despair. It’s often pointed out that the murder rate is an unreliable indicator of the level of violence in a community, because it can be influenced by other things like how good the emergency medical system is. It’s more accurate to look at the overall level of violent crime. In the same way, if white men favor guns as a suicide method, they are more likely to be “successful” than if they used other means, even if other groups attempt suicide more often. It’s more accurate to look at suicide attempts than actual suicides.

      That said, as a white male it was drummed into me from childhood that whatever kind of life I ended up with was my own responsibility, and that nobody else could be blamed if things didn’t work out. I suspect that most other middle-class white men were raised with a similar philosophy. So who do we blame if things don’t work out? Ourselves.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Nearly every Latino voter … has asked the same question: ‘Who is Bernie Sanders?’

    So you make a bumper sticker:

    ¿Quien es Bernie Sanders?

    Could be bigger than ‘Who Is John Galt?’

  21. Justicia

    Did you catch Kashkari’s first public comments since he became head of the MN Fed? You can read it here: http://ritholtz.com

    As I read it at one point I thought I was reading Yves Smith. Is cash carry angling for Treasury in the next Dem admin?

  22. Tom Denman

    “‘The issue is not Hillary Clinton’s Wall St links but her party’s core dogmas’ [Thomas Frank, Guardian].”

    Yes. But when a person is insulated from the real economy by generous “speaking fees” from the firms the Democrats bailed out in 2008-09, it is a whole lot easier for her to sincerely believe in the Party’s neoliberal core dogmas.

    For instance, in 2013 Bill and Hillary Clinton together took in $875,000 from Goldman Sachs alone [1]. That much money can buy quite a bit of genuine belief.

    [1] http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/07/31/hillary-clinton-releases-8-years-of-tax-returns/?_r=0

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