2:00PM Water Cooler 2/23/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“TTIP deal poses ‘real and serious risk’ to NHS, says leading QC” [Guardian]. What the Tories haven’t gutted, that is.



“Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday that Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’s plan to make public colleges tuition-free would have a deleterious effect on private, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU)” [The Hill].


“With Jeb Bush’s exit from the Republican presidential race, the field of candidates competing for the wealth behind the more than $100 million raised by his super-PAC, Right to Rise USA, has narrowed. Candidates will now need to lock down sufficient resources to compete on Super Tuesday and beyond” [Bloomberg]. There are less entertaining spectacles than watching the grifters of the political class waltz away dragging great sacks of squillionaire money. Or setting it on fire!

The Trail

“Foes, Past and Present, Say Sanders Uses Same Tactics He Criticizes” [USNews]. Oppo. Film at 11: Sanders isn’t a choirboy. Good. He’ll need that to deal with Clinton’s corruption.

“Why Bernie Can Win” [Jacobin]. “Her forthright opposition to the Sanders agenda has won Clinton praise from some liberal elites, unable to disguise their hostility toward even the most basic social-democratic reforms. Yet unfortunately for Clinton, most actual Americans do not inhabit the pundit class, and their professional credentials do not depend on gravely denying the existence of puppies, rainbows, and successful single-payer health programs.”

“The Party Crashers” [The New Yorker]. “Revolutions in communication tend to pull the people away from the élites. (The printing press is the classic example; think of its role in the Reformation. But this happens, to varying degrees, every time the speed and scale of communication makes a leap.)”

“Four problems with the ‘winnowing’ theory of Trump’s downfall” [Bloomberg]. “Taken together, the data suggest that defeating Trump will require weakening his support among Republicans, rather than simply turning the primary into a one-on-one contest with the front-runner.”

Stats Watch

S&P Case-Shiller HPI, December 2015: “Home-price appreciation rose 0.8 percent in December as Case-Shiller’s 20-city index extends its run of strong monthly gains.” [Econoday]. “Household wealth is increasingly dependent, not on wage gains, but on home-price appreciation [*** cough *** manipulation *** cough ***].” No, but seriously, what could go wrong? However: “The way to understand the dynamics of home prices is to watch the direction of the rate of change. Here home price growth generally appears to be stabilizing (rate of growth not rising or falling)” [Econintersect].

Consumer Confidence, February 2016: “There is a tangible slowing in the consumer confidence index, to 92.2 in February vs January’s downward revised 97.8,” below consensus [Econoday]. “Other readings show slightly more erosion but nothing dramatic. Income expectations are still positive but slightly less so as are expectations for business conditions. Expectations for the jobs market have been on the pessimistic side in this report and slightly more so in today’s report.”

Existing Home Sales, January 2016: “Existing home sales, up 0.4 percent in January to a 5.47 million annualized rate, held on to the bulk of December’s surge” [Econoday]. “[S]loping upward but not in bumpy away. Today’s report is moderate but constructive.” And: “Our analysis of the unadjusted data shows that home sales did improve, and the rolling averages improved” [Econintersect].

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, February 2016: “It has been a very weak month for manufacturing data with now the Richmond Fed, which has been showing more strength than other regions, reporting contraction in February” [Econoday]. “Both new orders and backlog orders moved into contraction this month which points to weakness across other readings in next month’s report.” And: “Of the three regional Federal Reserve surveys released to date, all are in contraction” [Econintersect]. And: “Another worse than expected and details deteriorating as well” [Mosler Economics].

State Street Investor Confidence Index, February 2016: “Investor confidence is still optimistic but less so this month” [Econoday]. “The drop is tied to Europe where the index has suddenly broken below breakeven. Confidence in Asia is solid, followed by North America.”

Honey for the Bears: “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) slipped 0.1 percent in February following flat performance in January and two months of revised gains in November and December 2015” [Econoday].

Honey for the Bears: “Two more signs a recession could be coming” [CNBC]. “In addition to several other trouble spots, two key indicators are flashing warning signs: income tax withholdings and corporate profits.”

Honey for the Bears: ” The U.S. States Where Recession Is Already a Reality” [Bloomberg].

Fodder for the Bulls: “US to push for greater fiscal spending at G20 -Treasury official” [Nikkei Asian Review].

“Home Depot wraps up big year with another big quarter” [AP]. Tangibles!

“Amazon has quietly launched its own clothing lines, as it tries to take over fashion retail” [Quartz]. So why isn’t it valued like JC Penney?

The Fed: “Whether or not a recession actually occurs, one thing is certain. The Fed in its current form is not well equipped to handle another downturn” [FT Alphaville, “The Fed is not ready for the next recession”]. “All the Fed’s tools—the setting of short-term interests, the buying and selling of government bonds, and the management of expectations—were handcuffed by its strict devotion to low inflation. They would never be allowed to generate the spending growth required to put the economy completely back to work.”

The Fed: “The Federal Reserve’s complicated relationship with race” [WaPo]. Blaming Yellen for high unemployment in among Blacks.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51, Neutral (previous close: 51) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 23 at 12:53pm. Just can’t quite flip the needle to open greed!

Our Famously Free Press

“Margaret Sullivan joins The Post as media columnist” [WaPo]. I thought Sullivan was the best ombudsman public editor in a long time. Now’s left Rosenthalia for Bezosland.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Why DeRay Mckesson’s Baltimore Campaign Looks Like It Comes Right Out of Teach for America’s Playbook” [Alternet].

“An Open Letter to DeRay Mckesson” [Jacobin]. These are all important posts.

“DeRay Mckesson Talks to David Remnick About Protest and Politics” (podcast) [The New Yorker].

“At issue is how the court is going to remake the 81 municipal courts in St. Louis that for decades now have been a bastion of unethical conduct and have violated the civil rights of thousands of people in the St. Louis region, most of them poor, many of them African-American” [St Louis Today]. Among them, Ferguson.

Health Care

Kaiser Healthcare News has a form to submit health care haikus. Here’s mine:

health care for profit
kills the helpless sick, for greed
single payer now.

Actually, this is not a very good haiku; there’s no seasonal reference or “cutting word.” Maybe submit your own?

HHS failed to heed many warnings that HealthCare.gov was in trouble [WaPo]. “The long trail of unheeded warnings is among the findings from an exhaustive two-year inquiry by HHS’s Office of Inspector General into the failings of HealthCare.gov, which crashed within two hours of its launch on Oct. 1, 2013.” I haven’t had the chance to read the study, but I would be very surprised if the words “President” or “Obama” appear anywhere in it.

Hong Kong

Class Warfare

“The drinking water catastrophe in Flint is the result of a failed model of trying to run state government like a business, says a former adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder, who also predicted the governor won’t survive a recall vote if the question makes the ballot” [Detroit Free Press]. Failed?!?! After forty years of trying?

“The scariest thing about the gig economy is how little we actually know about it” [Quartz]. “BLS history isn’t sexy, but it’s important to understand for two reasons. First, as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and other gig companies have grown into sizable platforms over the last five to 10 years, the government economists who usually keep the best data on this kind of stuff haven’t been doing so. Second, to realize that the gig economy, so often termed a revolutionary disruption of our labor market, isn’t actually that new. Quite the contrary, it’s a small, tech-enabled facet of an outsourcing trend that’s been underway since at least the 1990s, rebranded for the masses by Silicon Valley.” An, “the masses.”

“The Yelp employee who wasn’t making enough money to eat” [WaPo].

“The White House says that if you earn less than $20 per hour, you’ll probably be replaced by a robot” [Sky]. ‘The Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) came to the conclusion in its economic report for 2016.” Wait, haven’t I been reading somewhere about the CEA?

“In W.Va., fortunes of black minority fall along with coal” [Al Jazeera]. “Wade, like others here, harbors particular resentment for the Obama administration. ‘He hasn’t done anything for us,’ says the 88-year-old, leaning back on a couch in his living room overlooking the mountains. ‘If he were running again, I just couldn’t vote for him. And I’ve been a Democrat my whole life.'”

News of the Wired

“The Psychology of the Breathtakingly Stupid Mistake” [Scientific American].

“Signs economists haven’t the foggiest” [Real World Economics Review].

“Nasa to release recordings of unexplained ‘music’ from the far side of the moon” [International Business Times].

* * *

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 (Nancy Ames):

Variable Checkerspot on Yarrow paint

This is actually a painting, of a yarrow plant (which also includes a Variable Checkerspot butterly).

* * *

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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. PeonInChief

    The gig economy is really a return to 19th century piece rates–women sewing shirtwaists in their tenements.

    1. mitzimuffin

      Actually, piece rates were alive and well into the 1930’s. My mother worked for the wage/hour division of the labor department, and walked many tenement stairs to interview seamstresses. They didn’t want to tell her the truth because they feared losing the pittance they made and needed; and, of course, the bosses hated her. It seemed a thankless job, but her heart was always w/the workers.

      1. rod

        and don’t forget roofing—by the bundle(save that bar code)—masonry by the blk/brk—windows and doors at flat rate for new and remod(price preset)etc y’know etc.
        here in the Carolinas we also have “by the day” rates(35$ to tote50$to assemble and75$ to lead—less a 15% deduction for ‘WC’) ever so popular in residential…
        much of the immigrant demographic changing the Const. Indust. that I interact with think its just like “back home” with better money

  2. Vatch

    Nice painting! Oddly, one of the first things I thought of when I saw it is “The Devil and Daniel Webster”.

    1. jgordon

      Having some familiarity with photography and Photoshop, I very much doubt that it’s an actual painting. Or if it isn’t, the maker went to a lot of effort to make her painting look like a Photoshopped photo. Which isn’t really bad. I’ve done it before myself on when the assignment called for it.

    1. RP


      I make 30K
      Deductible is 5K
      Medicare For All

      Canada Denmark
      Sweden Finland Great Britain
      No Excuse for Us

      Those Who Would Profit
      From Another’s Suffering
      Enemies of All

      Poor are on their own
      Socialism For the Rich
      Time For Guillotine

      I could go on…

        1. Carla

          I think both of you should send your Haikus to Physicians for a National Health Program: http://www.pnhp.org

          and to the National Nurses’ Union, which you’ll have to type into your search engine or I’ll get moderated!

          Anyway, these organizations might collaborate to publish them. Oh, and there’s Healthcare NOW. These are all single-payer groups. If you do it, tell each group you’re also sending to the others.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Sorry, forgot the reply would shift down the list: the particular applause was meant for the haiku by nowhere.
          Next week, Guillotine Watch sestinas!

            1. clincial wasteman

              Yes, maybe so. Being more of a Coltrane/Vamvakaris/Obnox person than a campanologist I never quite bought that music(/verse) = mathematics notion anyway. The idea in this case was just that if anyone could make such a perversely difficult form say something meaningful right now, it would probably be someone here.
              And thanks Lambert for adding the link: the reference wasn’t meant to be ‘mysterious’, just typed in haste. Too bad that Pound’s decorously warmongering sestina is probably the most famous modern one. I had in mind Zukofsky’s wonderful ‘Mantis’ most of all, but having already set up shop for him in another comment below I’ll close that down now.

  3. fresno dan

    “At issue is how the court is going to remake the 81 municipal courts in St. Louis that for decades now have been a bastion of unethical conduct and have violated the civil rights of thousands of people in the St. Louis region, most of them poor, many of them African-American” [St Louis Today]. Among them, Ferguson.

    “….that for decades”
    City on a Hill, exceptional nation, blah, blah, blah.
    Were all the people who should have known this stupid, or cowardly???? Or just evil?
    All that crap I learned in high school – its a wonder I can think at all…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Free high school education, what do you expect?” – people will deride it.

      But we need free high school education, though with few classes…computer programming, typing, math (except basic math), etc. These should be paid for by corporations who demand these skills from their wage slaves.

      More writing, more philosophy, more people’s history classes.

  4. fresno dan

    “Signs economists haven’t the foggiest” [Real World Economics Review].

    How about the recent controversy with Krugman and the gang of four showing that the so called serious “top tier” economists are dishonest scumbags conducted with the same intellectual rigor applied to cheerleaders and star quarterbacks in high school???

  5. Bunk McNulty

    James Clyburn. Oh, yeah.

    Congressman James Clyburn is supposed to represent the interests of more than half a million South Carolinians, the majority of them Black. One might expect a Black congressman to have more than a passing interest in the Bill of Rights and protection of civil liberties. The revelation that Uncle Sam is building up a dossier on everyone with a telephone and a computer connection should be at least mildly upsetting to anyone that calls himself a Black leader. But Congressman Clyburn has but one priority: to protect the image and legacy of Barack Obama.

    1. Torsten

      Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) defends Plessy v. Ferguson. Or is he defending the Black Billionaire Class? It must be the wannabe Black Billionaire Class.

  6. NotTimothyGeithner

    Hillary Clinton has scored the endorsement of Tony Blair who is baffled by the popularity of Sanders and Corbyn.

    1. Massinissa

      I think I would personally prefer an endorsement from Benito Mussolini or Augusto Pinochet than Blair.

      Ok, maybe Im exaggerating. But only a little.

  7. jhallc

    “You’ve got to think about the consequences of things,” Clyburn said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “[If] you start handing out two years of free college at public institutions are you ready for all the black, private HBCUs to close down? That’s what’s going to happen.

    What he really means is “If you let folks get educated for free, they might wise up and not vote for an old fossil like me.” What a tool!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What Is particularly irritating is Bernie is even calling for the sensible policy which is to pay people to other other school. The army does it.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Free enlightenment education.

      No free career-stepping stone education. That should be paid by corporations.

    3. Pat

      I had hoped the idiot wasn’t talking about it that way. I have but two things to say:
      1. why doesn’t he want ALL of his constituents to be able to go to college, not just those with well off parents or who can qualify for loans that stick them with a houseless mortgage before they ever get a job.
      2. What does this say about the quality of the black private universities, if free public universities mean there is no longer a competition to get into them? I mean does any one imagine that free tuition at the University of Massachusetts is going to destroy Harvard?

      But somehow I don’t see anyone among our brilliant fourth estate thinking of and asking him these obvious questions. Not yet, not in the near future.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Clyburn has his. It’s really not that complicated.

        Team Blue electeds aren’t necessarily all that bright either. Plenty actually believe Hillary is the only way they can win, partially because they are insulated by the dead enders of would be Democratic operatives and local committee members.

        1. cwaltz

          And by “win” I assume you mean be able to cash in since all the numbers from polls suggest the opposite. Sanders actually beats all the candidates the GOP can throw at him. Clinton does not.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I think there is a sense Obama was a major mistake, and they are trying to erase that mistake.

            One of the Congressmen who retired told the story about Obama saying, “the difference between 1994 and 2010, is me.” Democrats despite 1994 panicked and went to Bill for help as the election looked like a disaster. 2014 was no different, but I think they have told themselves Hillary would set everything right they actually believe it.

            The last thing they will admit to is the notion they are unpopular.

            1. cwaltz

              I personally think that they can’t be stupid enough to believe the person who served under Obama for 4 years as his SoS and who is running as Obama’s successor is going to appear to be an erasure of the Obama years.

              No, I think they are hoping that the base will rally behind Hillary to defeat the awful, terrible, horrible Republican. It’s incredibly unoriginal but it’s one of their Greatest hits. And after all they believe the base is filled with “f-in morons” that they can manipulate(and often do.)

      2. petal

        Reading that article made me ill. What a sell-out Clyburn is. It is complete and clear. Instead of wanting the best for his constituents(and the black people he says he represents) and helping as many of them as possible get college educations, he wants to protect a tiny group of colleges-one of which he sits on the board of. HBC’s have been struggling for years with a wide range of problems. They are losing students because the students can no longer afford to go to them and are in a death spiral. What happens to the students then when they have to drop out due to finances? I’m guessing they don’t ever finish uni and have debt they can’t/have trouble paying off. But, you know, that’s better than them being able to get free college and finish their degrees. Ugh. So disgusted.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He sits on the board of a college that is losing students who can’t afford it, and he is against free tuition?

          Sounds like incompetence, or maybe he is making money off lending?

          1. kimsarah

            There are those who have made it to the exclusive club, and then there are the rest of us who never will. I would venture to guess that there are a lot more folks in the second camp, through no fault of their own.

    1. clinical wasteman

      More applause! (In case of intervening replies, meant for you, Global Misanthrope. ‘Plow shares’ made my night.)

      Admittedly sestinas can be more trouble than they’re worth, but class warfare sonnets would also be nice, or why not stats watch songs in the style of Louis and Celia Zukofsky?

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        a word sonnet


        1. clincial wasteman

          A perfect word sonnet, in that no line/word could possibly be improved by another. Thank you: antidote du jour to the crushing weight of tone-deaf and vicious words elsewhere.

  8. Llewelyn Moss

    Lots of commoners are buying the Trump line that “I’m with you. Together we’re gonna make America great again.” [paraphrased]

    Read how Trump paid workers $200/month to build his golf course and villas in Dubai. Then ask yourself, is this guy really going to be on the side of the workingman/woman after this campaign is over.

    http://www.vice.com/read/i-confronted-donald-trump-in-dubai vice 2014

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      According to a Fortune magazine article,

      Sanders, who is vying for the Democratic candidacy for the 2016 election, was even a favorite among some of the technology industry’s biggest companies. Indeed, the Center for Responsive Politics, which evaluates campaign donations and furnished some data to the Journal, found that companies like Apple AAPL -2.23% and Google GOOG -1.47% were among his biggest corporate donors, each doling out thousands of dollars to his campaign.

      Apple, with vendors in China that need safety nets to prevent worker suicide.

      Should he return that money?

      1. Pat

        I’m wondering if that is Apple employees? I mean if you worked at the Genius Bar, don’t you think you might donate to Sanders?

        Just a thought.

          1. Vatch

            If Fortune said that the companies rather than employees or owners gave the money, they are mistaken. See:


            The money came from the organizations’ PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families. At the federal level, the organizations themselves did not donate, as they are prohibited by law from doing so.

            (Note that Alphabet, Inc., is Google)

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


              So, there are

              1. Corporations’ PACs;
              2 Their individual members, employees or owners:
              3 Those individuals’ immediate families

              Who controls those PACs? The corporations themselves?

              How do their contributions compare with the other 2 sources?

              If Apple PAC has contributed, should he return it?

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I can’t find it. Not sure where to go there.

                  One of the many things I have learned here is that we can’t trust the main stream media.

                  And here is one good example.

                  I am glad Sanders did not take money from Apple corporation, even if indirectly.

                  1. Vatch

                    Sorry, I guess I left out a step. Go to “Candidate and Committee Viewer”, and enter either Google or C00428623. Then click “Get Listing”.

                    You can also go to “Individual Contribution Search” and see what a particular person has donated.

                    There are several other options which I have never used, including an enhanced web site that’s still under development:


              1. cwaltz

                A lot of PACS are run by unions. My hubby’s union(UTU) has a PAC. We contribute a small amount to it(even though we consider the union far from perfect.)

                  1. cwaltz

                    I looked to see if I could find anything on Tim Cook this cycle. Oddly enough, other than his frequent fights with the administration over everything from opening the IPhone to taxes it doesn’t show him as supporting a candidate. If he donated, it’s as a citizen and he’s keeping his cards close to his chest(wouldn’t be surprised if like most prominent business folk he donates to both sides or hedges his bets.)

        1. cwaltz

          Not even that- it’s assuming that everyone who works at Apple is complicit with Apple and agrees with exploiting people. When they acquire these numbers they count EVERYONE at Apple, even workers that don’t make major decisions(you know the ones who were actually found to be wronged by Big Tech back when they found out that these companies were trying to rig the labor market to their advantage with signing agreements to not compete for employees.)

          Meanwhile Trump was not a mere employee, he WAS the boss.

          They are nowhere near even close to the same.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Fortunate magazine should have then said the numbers from from bunching employee contributions.

            Instead, it says, ‘companies’ and ‘corporate donors.’

      2. Llewelyn Moss

        Here’s an apples to apples comparison.

        Doing the math, (according the article), Trump’s Dubai workers work 13 hours per day, 6 days a week, for $200 per month. That comes out to $0.59 per hour (59 cents/hr).

        Bernie is pushing for $15/hour minimum wage.

        I’m calling it. Bernie is standing with the working class. Trump exploits the working class.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You are right there, though there is no shame in not taking corporation donations from companies like Apple.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It’s not clear from the link Vatch provided that the employee-abusing Apple, through its PAC, didn’t give money to Sanders.

              1. cwaltz

                Apple doesn’t have a PAC. Google does.

                If you go to opensecrets it actually tells you how much Apple, the company has given to the Sanders campaign in entirety.

                It also says

                This table lists the top donors to this candidate in the 2016 cycle. The money came from the organizations’ PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families. At the federal level, the organizations themselves did not donate, as they are prohibited by law from doing so. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

                Shorter disclaimer- Apple itself did not give this money. It was given by people working for Apple. Is it within the realm of possibility Tim Cook is one of the contributors? Sure. Is it likely? No.

      3. jhallc


        Here’s a link to a list of top $ donors to Bernie’s Campaign Committee. It includes some corporations and quite a few universities. According to the site “The money came from the organizations’ PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families. At the federal level, the organizations themselves did not donate, as they are prohibited by law from doing so.”

        Bernie doesn’t take PAC$$$ so I’m guessing it’s largely employees/owners making contributions.
        Scoot over to Hillary’s page on the link to see the contrast.

    2. jgordon

      Trump said that it was a good idea to murder Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs blood and his numbers shot through the roof. And you actually spent effort drudging up the fact that he only paid foreign workers in a low-wage country 200 dollars per month to construct a golf course for him? I mean, I don’t want to mean to be rain on your parade, but I think you could uncover that he’s a cannibal and his approval ratings would go up because of it. You’ve ended up making him even more popular! Is this really a productive use of your time?

      1. cwaltz

        Why yes, yes it is. Especially since he’s running on the idea that he’s going to bring American jobs back to America(while employing his own cheap foreign labor.)

        His supporters should know what they support. I don’t want to hear who could have imagined when it turns out he can’t turn water into wine and his electorate got taken in by his rhetoric that he gives two nickels for American workers.

        1. jgordon

          That may be what he’s “running” on, but that isn’t why people are voting for him.

          I think you misunderstand this whole Trump thing. Your model is wrong, and therefore you’re not likely to be able to accurately gauge what’s going to happen. So I will explain Trump’s appeal to you: people like Trump because they believe he will go to Washington and kick it, smash it, and stomp on it. They do not require subtly, honesty, or even brains from Trump. They only require that he unleash a bit of extreme ultraviolence on every establishment flunky in sight once he gets to Washington. They want him to destroy the system. And that’s it. That’s Trump’s appeal.

          That’s why Trump can talk about murdering people sacrilegiously and his numbers go up. People think to themselves, “Ah, if he’s that much of an unrighteous bastard he sure is going to do some nasty stuff to the scumbag Washington elites when he’s president. heheh I can’t wait. I’m running to the caucus!”

          So hopefully that clarifies things for you. If you actually want to use effective talking points that might sway Trump supporters against him, I suggest you find evidence where elites are endorsing/supporting Trump, or evidence of him caving on things or of him acting agreeable and inoffensive. Now that would actually damage him! By the way, I’m being serious.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Per your last para: The Republican establishment doesn’t seem to be spending at all to defeat him (link in Water Cooler in the last few days). So if they really cared….

          2. MojaveWolf

            I sadly have more people who lean conservative than progressive in my “real people I must work around” group, and I know quite a few Trump supporters. They don’t talk about making America great again. They don’t talk about the bigoted crap either. They talk about how he’s so rich he can’t be bought and he’s the only candidate who can’t be bought etc etc etc. Most of them have no idea whatsoever what he plans to do (not that any of us do; he clearly doesn’t mean a great deal of what he says & it’s anyone’s guess what he means of the rest). I haven’t had a single one disagree with me that’s he’s a complete asshole & if they got trapped in an elevator with him they would probably want to punch him lots by the time they got out. But they love that he’s aggressive. Aggressive+can’t be bought is the winning combination in their minds. They do indeed just want someone to go in and trash the establishment.

            He is the best gift Hillary’s 2016 campaign could ever have; not all but about 30% of his people would probably be voting for or at least contemplating voting for Bernie (let’s say 15% would be, 15% maybe– the others would probably keep blabbing endlessly about “free stuff” and this idiot notion they have from somewhere that Bernie wants to implement the (nonexistent) “French” system of taxation whereby everyone regardless of income levels pays a 50% tax rate–this is what happen when people listen to conservative talk radio or fox news or wherever the hell this idiocy comes from; I keep making bets offering to pay people $50 while getting nothing if I’m right if they will look up the french system of taxation or Bernie’s tax plan, depending; they keep looking it up and I keep not having to pay out money, but sadly the people who say this are not changing their mind simply because they had their facts all wrong).

            The only two people I’ve spoken to who were particularly hostile to undocumented immigration were supporting Cruz & undecided, respectively (the undecided person loved Trump’s fence idea but called him “the guy with the wig”). The Cruz supporter also believed Bernie wanted 50% taxation for all, likes the Bundy ranch nutbars (& got very angry with me for calling them that and pointing out this was all about rich asswipes who didn’t want to pay their far too small grazing fees; he views the BLM, EPA & even the national park system as illegitimate and seems to think the public lands belonged to the Bundy’s via adverse possession, tho he was unfamiliar with the term). Dunno where this garbage comes from. The Cruz & undecided guy were also highly hostile to the political establishment.

            The Dems had better get with it. The oligarchy is no longer defensible. They are hiding Bernie & presenting themselves as “we’re the people who’ve been doing it right.” That will get them very deservedly slaughtered in November. Right now, I’m still about overhauling the dem party because I think Bernie’s going to win. If they put up Hillary I’m going to be helping organize the people who want to destroy it, but that will only matter for the future. Hillary will get murdered against Trump even if none of the Bernie supporters go his way and all of us vote Green. Trump’s not going to be babbling idiocy about border fences then. At every stage he’s said whatever he thinks will get him free publicity. He won’t need that anymore in the general. He’ll be saying whatever he thinks will win over independents, and more of them are going to roll the dice on him than on Hillary. Not that I think he will be much worse than her, and maybe he’ll be better, but both will suck horribly so let’s hope Bernie wins this.

  9. AJ

    My haiku submissions:

    I bought insurance
    but still I could not afford
    to see the doctor

    high deductible
    something about free markets

    my insurance rates
    keep increasing every year
    coverage declines

    we know how much you
    would pay us to stay alive
    everything you have

      1. rfdawn

        +1 more
        And getting there is only half the battle:

        our single-payer
        budget cuts made timely care
        a costly option

        1. Carla

          All of the above are wonderful. Please consider sending them to pnhp.org (Physicians for a National Health Program). Along with other single payer groups, they might actually publish them!

  10. LarryB

    The White House says that if you earn less than $20 per hour, you’ll probably be replaced by a robot

    No, you’ll just be working for less than $20/hour. Robots don’t have to eat, people do. The effect of robots and automation isn’t necessarily more efficiency, but to force human wages down below the cost of robots.

    1. Pat

      There is a huge ‘let them eat cake’ attitude among our elected officials and government bureaucrats today. It isn’t just the guy in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

      I’m not saying that is not an accurate assessment, even if their blase response to it is shocking. But then that is reminiscent of something I heard the other day, that when someone confronted Obama about the loss of jobs that would occur because of the TPP, his response was those jobs are gone anyway.

      Funny how it never occurs to them, that they should be part of the barricade keeping this from happening. And people know that even if they don’t. Part and parcel of how they really don’t understand the appeal of Trump or Sanders.

    2. samhill

      Beat me to it. I’ll add, there’s a cut of point where buying and maintaining a $100K robot isn’t worth it. So if you earn $7.25/hr, or expect to, you do not have to fear the Terminators. The future is bright for the desperate.

    3. cwaltz

      So who exactly is going to build and maintain these robots? I’m guessing he thinks their labor is going to be free.

      1. DanB

        Who’s going to feed them? They “eat” energy, you know, and they break down and require maintenance -and they are not consumers of what they produce.

    4. cnchal

      Borrowing to buy a robot is a capital expense with tax deductible interest. Try telling your bank you want to borrow to pay wages.

    5. MichaelC

      Wait , the WH is conceding that the push for 15 is woefully inadequate?

      Sounds pretty clear to me it’s still profitable to pay up to 19/hr before switching to burger flipping bots.
      15’s a bargain. Sounds like the WH is signalling Time to pass that damned 15/hr quick b4 the proles catch on. The Ds need those damn votes. NOW

      1. cwaltz

        The burger flipping bots require a worker to feed it the ingredients. They’re a neat gadget but anyone who ever worked in a fast food kitchen knows they only would replace, at best, one worker. Additionally those burger machines only make burgers, the burger making places would have to get an additional robot built to specifications to cover things like chicken sandwiches or anything other than a burger. It’s not cost effective.

        Likewise, the “computers” that take orders haven’t actually eliminated jobs because a front counter person is expected to expedite, stock and clean. All it does is free up staff to focus on those other functions.

        1. cnchal

          Whaaat? No expedite, stock and clean robot?

          What I see is a food contamination nightmare and there will be customers that pay with their lives. Traced right back to an improperly maintained robot. The contamination of automated equipment in food processing plants has killed customers, and they are supposed to be maintained to a high standard.

          It’s interesting that the $20 per hour job or lower has such a high probability of being automated versus the $40 per hour and up job. It’s harder to automate a bullshit jawb versus a repetitive production job.

          1. cwaltz

            The robots that do multiple tasks are complex and wayyyyyy more expensive.

            I kind of laughed when they mentioned that they made a robot that makes coffee or washes dishes. Isn’t that called a dishwasher and coffee maker? I mean c’mon, am I the only one who remembers those machines that dispensed coffee and hot cocoa that tasted like water?

  11. Massinissa

    I wouldn’t vote for Trump, but I would honestly prefer he be elected than Klinton. I can understand people who do want to vote for him, if only because Klinton is so bad.

  12. Jim Haygood

    “Drip, drip, drip” — it’s the cheerful sound of scandal percolating:

    U.S. district judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday ruled that State Department officials and top aides to Hillary Clinton should be questioned under oath about whether they intentionally thwarted federal open records laws by using or allowing the use of a private email server throughout Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

    Sullivan set an April deadline for parties to work out a detailed investigative plan. Sullivan also suggested from the bench that he might at some point order the department to subpoena Clinton and Abedin, to return all records related to Clinton’s private account, not just those their camps have previously deemed work-related and returned.

    “There has been a constant drip, drip, drip of declarations. When does it stop?” Sullivan said, adding that months of piecemeal revelations about Clinton and the State Department’s handling of the email controversy create “at least a ‘reasonable suspicion’ ” that public access to official government records under the federal Freedom of Information Act was undermined. “This case is about the public’s right to know.”


    Servergate is the gift that keeps on giving, all through the primary season. Trump can taunt Hillary every day: “Subpoenaed yet?” And of course, the FBI shoe could drop at any time.

    Having bet its entire stake on a “candidate with baggage,” the D-party establishment has no Plan B if Broom Hilda implodes. Looks like the Evil Party has a leg up on the Stupid Party!

    1. Carla

      Doesn’t the Evil Party always have a leg up on the Stupid Party? While dumb Dems were celebrating the traitor Obama, the Evil Party was mopping up more statehouses, more governorships, more members of Congress. I mean, that’s all that’s been happening for the last 4 decades.

      The two party system will bury this country.

      I agree with Massinissa. Rather see Trump in the WH than HRC, and if they’re the candidates that’s exactly what we’ll get. How very strange life is.

  13. Romancing the Loan

    Reading the Yelp employee’s original letter I kind of want to slap her parents in the face. They have done a terrible job of preparing their child for adulthood. She went into serious educational debt essentially in the hopes that someone would pay her to screw around online and then in pursuit of that soulless “dream” got an apartment that costs like 80% of her take home pay.

    Why is it that only over-privileged nitwits seem to write these kinds of stories? I’ve seen a bunch of “whoah man it sure is hard to be poor!” pieces lately by young people who have made terrible choice after terrible choice with seemingly no awareness that these might have consequences.

    It might be that only those people have the time to write these things (the rest being too tired from trying to survive) or that publications are only interested in writing by the aspiring upper middle class but either way it has the effect of undercutting the obvious rightness of the underlying points: 1. any full time job should be able to afford you at least a barebones lifestyle and 2. why the hell does Yelp have their customer service center in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the country? It could be anywhere.

    Reading her letter though I would have fired her too. Check out how she’s scornfully dismissive of her coworkers and miffed that no one wanted to take up her suggestion of mandatory volunteering at a soup kitchen for employees.

    1. vidimi


      She didn’t have enough cash for groceries, she said, and had to live 30 miles from work to afford the rent — $1,245 per month, plus gas and electric.

      she moved thirty miles away and still paid 80% of her take-home pay on rent and you berate her? she should be living in cardboard or move 90 miles away?

      shame on your lack of perspective and empathy.

      1. Romancing the Loan

        You act like she had no option but to take the job on whatever terms and go deeply into debt. If she couldn’t make a budget work (roommates? I lived two to a room for a while in my first job) then she shouldn’t take the job. That Yelp’s offered job conditions were insane and unworkable doesn’t take away from the breathtaking stupidity of just doing it anyway and hoping for the best.

        1. vidimi

          in order to get a job you need experience. few young people have the luxury of passing up on experience. the primary focus should be the awfulness of the pay, but you choose to engage in victim-blaming.

  14. DakotabornKansan

    For many African-Americans, mining once promised a path to the middle class. [Al Jazeera]

    Less than a century ago, many were forced into prison slave mines under the southern convict leasing system – “a system in which armies of free men, guilty of no crimes and entitled by law to freedom, were compelled to labor without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced to do the bidding of white masters through the regular application of extraordinary physical coercion.” – Douglas Backmon, Slavery by Another Name The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

    There is no flag large enough to cover this shameful chapter in American history.

    It is sad and depressing that Al Jazeera America (both website and television) will be shutting down very soon. Gone with it much-needed diversity.

    “Al Jazeera America’s pending closure is but one dismal entry in a long-running journalistic dance of the dead…Vox has redefined the media company by curating the journalism right out of it. And so we who are about to die here at Al Jazeera America salute you, our enterprising Vox masters, with one last upward thrust of our expiring middle finger.” – Chris Lehmann, “As publications go bust, Vox hires commerce editor in attempt to save journalism by destroying it,”

    1. Chucky

      I don’t think I ever cheered at a text article before, but that was an outstanding diss on Pox.
      Fare thee well, AJA…

    2. Carla

      Re: Al Jazeera America – RIP. I found your coverage very valuable.

      Re: Slavery by Another Name The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas Blackmon — this book had the most profound effect on me of any I have ever read. EVERY American should read this book. We’d be a damned sight better country.

  15. RWood

    Re: DeRay Mckesson and “brokerage politics”

    [Stevens quoting Adolph Reed, from Class Notes]
    Cultural politics and identity politics are class politics. They are manifesta­tions within the political economy of academic life and the left-liberal public sphere—journals and magazines, philanthropic foundations, the world of “public intellectuals”—of the petit bourgeois, brokerage politics of interest-group pluralism. Postmodern­ist and poststructuralist theorizing lays a radical-sounding patina over this all-too-familiar worldview and practice.

    [comment by author R.L. Stevens II]
    Clearly, culture is politically relevant, just not in the way that practitioners of cultural politics would have us believe.


    1. tongorad

      Very interesting link/article about DeRay Mckesson & Beyonce. The more I learn about this guy the more scary he is. Neoliberalism is able to sell itself as a radical justice-based civil rights protest movement around familiar tropes such as transparency and accountability…ingenious.

      Here’s a fun tweet from this radical firebrand (as quoted in the article)
      “INTERESTING READ: Should the Postal Service be sold to save it?”

  16. ewmayer

    Re. healthcare haiku, I’m gonna engage in the fine and ancient tradition of bending the (already a priori fuzzy) syllabic rules:

    Affordable care…
    Wouldn’t that be nice?
    Paging Dr. House.

    [Much as I enjoyed the show I use House as the embodiment of overdiagnosis-and-treatment, because in the typical episode he burns a couple $100K or more of patient/insurance money doing a bunch of expensive/invasive tests and useless-or-even-harmful treatments before the Eureka! moment which inevitably, perversely and completely unrealistically validates all the preceding waste in the classic, tidy, made-for-TV Holmesian “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable…” sense.]

    1. cwaltz

      Consumers get dinged a lot for waste. However, I found it interesting that insurance companies haven’t started questioning businesses. My spouse says that every person with a prescription for Ambien on the railroad is required to get a sleep study, nevermind that the reason they get put on that medication is because they have an on call job. That means one day they may work from 2 in the afternoon until 8 at night and then be expected to sleep to be rested to catch a train 10 hours later. 2 days later they may be called to work at midnight and expected to finish work at 8 AM and go to the hotel for mandatory 10 hours rest before catching another train to their home terminal. There is no established sleep cycle. It’s a no duh that the problem is that their sleep cycle is unpredictable just like their work schedule. Why would anyone need a study for that?

  17. ewmayer

    Today’s guffaw-headline and article-blurb courtesy of those serial pranksters over at ZH – I omit the link in an attempt to stay out of the mod queue, but article ’tis trivial to find:

    Peter Schiff Warns “The Fed’s Nightmare Scenario Is Becoming Reality”
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/22/2016 – 23:00

    Once markets figure out that the Fed is all hat and no cattle when it comes to fighting inflation, the bottom should drop out of the dollar, consumer price increases could accelerate even faster, and the biggest bubble of them all, the one in U.S. Treasuries may finally be pricked. That is when the Fed’s nightmare scenario finally becomes everyone’s reality.

    Let’s see:

    o The Fed considers its job to fight de-rather-than-in-flation;
    o As in 2008-2009 the major macro pressures are of the bubble-hangover deflationary kind;
    o In such a scenario the dollar invariably benefits due to reserve currency “cleanest of a bunch of dirty shirts” status;
    o It is during the recently-ended asset-bubble-*inflation* phase that consumer price increases (often of the stealth variety) tend to be most acute – lower oil prices more than offset by hikes in big ticket items like housing/rent/college/insurance/medical-care – whereas during the bubble-popping phase seller pricing power wanes dramatically (that’s kinda the point);
    o Treasury yields not gonna rise much more due to the same flight-to-safety and deflationary trends;
    o This sounds very similar the horrendously wrong hyperinflation call Peter Schiff made back in 2008.

    So pretty much wrong on every single count, whether the argument was explicit or implicit. ZH doing what it does best! (To be fair they do have a couple funnily-worded headlines today, such as “Dimon’s Bottom In Danger Of Penetration After JPM Warns Of 25% Plunge In Capital Markets Revenue”.)

    1. Skippy

      ZH the Jefferson nail shack for Kantian ideologues, and where the cause of all mankind’s woes is Keynes… even before he was born…. or after he is dead….

      Skippy…. oh gezz… the future is so bright….

    2. cwaltz

      Are they still hawking the gold standard and buying gold?

      Interesting folks over there at ZH. I’m not sure why they don’t want us to go back to feathers, beads and shells.

  18. allan

    Turns out that photography is a crime – in Philadelphia, at least:
    No First Amendment right to videorecord police unless you are challenging the police at the time

    … Friday’s federal trial court decision in Fields v. City of Philadelphia takes a different, narrower approach: There is no constitutional right to videorecord police, the court says, when the act of recording is unaccompanied by “challenge or criticism” of the police conduct. (The court doesn’t decide whether there would be such a right if the challenge or criticism were present.) Therefore, the court held, simply “photograph[ing] approximately twenty police officers standing outside a home hosting a party” and “carr[ying] a camera” to a public protest to videotape “interaction between police and civilians during civil disobedience or protests” wasn’t protected by the First Amendment. …

    Of course, `challenge or criticism’ of the police is tantamount to `suicide by cop’.

    1. Jess

      You’re effing kidding me!

      Except, of course, you’re not.

      Wonder what will happen when appeals courts and eventually the new, Scalia-free SCOTUS, must reconcile conflicting court opinions.

  19. ambrit

    Off topic, so, apologies, but, we just had a minor tornado pass a mile and a half to our West a half hour ago. One person killed in Purvis, twenty miles to the southwest of Hattiesburg. Why mention this? Because the poor deader was in a “mobile home,” aka trailer. The new shotgun shack, a minimally sound shelter. As Jimmy Buffett sang, “They looked a lot better as beer cans.” From “Migration.”
    No comisserations necessary. We just watched as super heavy rains and strong winds blew by. Minor damage reported in our town. The new normal?
    Welcome to the New World Climate Order.

    1. Carla

      The “new shotgun shack” indeed. Thank you for the report…glad you and yours are okay, but sorry about those who are not…

    2. cwaltz

      I wonder why they(the person who died) didn’t seek shelter elsewhere while the storm blew through?

      Plenty of HOUSES get torn up by tornados. Nasty stuff.

      1. ambrit

        A lot of these rural locations do not have any stick built houses at all. That’s why the “New Shotgun Shack” moniker. Also, like most tornados, this one was moving along the ground at forty miles an hour. Once you hear it approaching, it’s almost too late. In extremes, culverts and deep ditches must do duty as shelters.

        1. cwaltz

          Disclaimer- I live in a MH. We’ve had really bad storms and they’ve weathered them (we owned a single wide first and we have a double wide now) as well as the stick builts around the region(it’s just as dangerous to have a tree fall through your roof.) A lot of it is luck.

          1. ambrit

            I hear you cwaltz. We’ve lived in a ‘used’ single wide back in the late seventies.
            From what I’ve gathered, ‘mobile homes’ are often minimally tethered to the ground. I’ve seen many varieties of ‘tether’ personally over the years. Poorly tethered trailers are vulnerable to straight line winds, generally associated with tornados. The twister doesn’t have to hit the building directly to do damage. I agree, a direct hit from a tornado will do in almost anything.
            Most people hate to admit the extent to which blind luck rules their lives. We don’t read people discussing the concept of ‘Fate’ very much today, do we?
            Stay safe, all of you all.

    3. Carolinian

      Not new though. In fact most of the old mobile homes in my part of the country are being replaced with McMansions.

      The weather down South has certainly been weird this winter.

      1. ambrit

        Are the former dwellers in the trailers moving up to the McMansions, or moving out to more far flung trailers?
        Everyone round here says the same about this weather. The old timers are especially perplexed. Many now say, watch the low temperatures at night this summer. There might be a spike upwards. Some have also wondered about feedback loops.

        1. Carolinian

          No no of course not. I have no idea what is happening to the trailer dwellers but much of our upcountry rural landscape is now dotted with housing developments where once there were trailer homes and peach orchards. My grandfather’s old farm became one of these. Many of the new residents are from the North or are “bounce backs” from Florida. North Carolina, 30 miles up the road, is also super popular with Northern retirees.

            1. Carolinian

              I suspect there are still plenty of trailers downstate. The foothills area where I live has become a bit more cosmopolitan.

  20. Synoia

    The White House says that if you earn less than $20 per hour, you’ll probably be replaced by a robot

    I can think of many who earn more than $20 who could be replaced.

    Hey you Lawyers, you are next. All we need is Legal English compiler….

  21. PQS

    What people seem to forget about using robots for less skilled jobs is that the human to robot interface (you know, the actual source of payment) is very clunky (as I see it). I don’t even like to use the Self Check Out because not only does it take someone’s job away, it’s just a way bigger hassle than going through the queue.

    Furthermore, with an aging population, the interface will have to dramatically improve for uninitiated, non technical people to use it. We are wayyyy far away from “Big Hero 6” (the cuddly helpful robot)….

  22. Carolinian

    Chapter and verse on why Hillary will be a foreign policy disaster.

    James Rubin, Albright’s State Department spokesman, remembers strained phone calls between Albright and U.K. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook during the planning for the bombing of Yugoslavia. Cook told Albright the U.K. government was having problems “with its lawyers” because attacking Yugoslavia without authorization by the U.N. Security Council would violate the UN Charter. Albright told him the U.K. should “get new lawyers.”

    Like Secretary Albright, Hillary Clinton strongly supported NATO’s illegal aggression against Yugoslavia. In fact, she later told Talk magazine that she called her husband from Africa to plead with him to order the use of force. “I urged him to bomb,” she said, “You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?”

    After the U.S.-U.K. bombing and invasion, the NATO protectorate of Kosovo quickly descended intochaos and organized crime. Hashim Thaci, the gangster who the U.S. installed as its first prime minister, now faces indictment for the very war crimes that U.S. bombing enabled and supported in 1999, including credible allegations that he organized the extrajudicial execution of Serbs to harvest and sell their internal organs.

    Turns out HRC has had a paw in virtually every FP disaster of the last 20 years. The trail of wrecked countries in her wake calls to mind what they once said about the Romans: “they made a desert and called it peace.”


  23. Kim Kaufman

    Thank you for the pieces on DeRay and the nauseating intersection of BLM/TFA and political opportunism. Everyone wants a piece of the pie… no matter how toxic. I didn’t have the stomach to listen to Remnick’s podcast. That would be too much of a bad thing.

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