2:00PM Water Cooler 2/25/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“A Comparison between TiSA and GATS” (PDF) [Cartel Intersyndical]. Handy chart, sadly with no visible author.

“NFU Contests TPP’s Benefits for U.S. Agriculture” [National Farmer’s Union].

“Aside from the actual negotiators, Bernd Lange is one of the few who has access to the secret documents of the free trade negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the USA. It is fair to say that Lange is well informed. He chairs the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee and is the official rapporteur for the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)” [Deutsche Welle]. ” This week, the 12th round of negotiations is taking place in Brussels. Lange, a Social Democrat from the German state of Lower Saxony, believes the talks are not making much headway. Of the 25 chapters up for negotiation, the Americans have taken a clear position on less than half, Lange told DW.”

“[Speaker of the House Paul] Ryan is saying that there aren’t enough votes in the House to ratify the TPP, while suggesting that the USTR has to go back and renegotiate the deal” [TechDirt]. ” The whole basis of TPA [“Fast Track”] was that once the USTR concluded a deal, Congress couldn’t nitpick it. That was Ryan’s entire argument. And now that the deal is done… he wants to nitpick it?”



“[A] new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows views of ‘Medicare for all’ are significantly more favorable than ‘single-payer’ health care” [WaPo].

“[H]ealthcare stakeholders would go all out against Sanders’ single-payer plan because “they would view it as a threat to their existence. Insurers would go to the mat on that. All the providers and many of the business groups would be concerned about disruption in the current system. Device manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacies and others would be very concerned about reimbursement rates. This would make the fight against the Health Security Act (the 1993 Clinton administration health reform bill) look like a birthday party” [Modern Health Care]. It’s like we’re assuming these people are legitimate, that they deserve “a seat at the table.” They aren’t and they don’t. You don’t compromise with a tapeworm. You kill it.

“This Is What A Real Wall Street Shill Sounds Like” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. Let me guess. Bob Rubin?


“Billionaire self-funding front runner Trump apparently has ZERO TV ads on in Super Tuesday states. Today sorta last day to add buys” [Mark Halperin]. It’s hard to imagine a more ginormous upraised middle finger to the political class than that. Lotta rice bowls being broken, there.


“Hillary Clinton is winning among voters who don’t want Sanders’s revolution” [WaPo]. “In Nevada, more voters wanted to ‘generally continue Barack Obama’s policies’ than wanted to ‘change to more liberal policies’ by a 50-41 margin. Clinton won among that former group, by 75-22, while Sanders won among the latter group by 77-21.”

“Black Feminists Are Divided Over Which Presidential Candidate To Support” [Hello Beautiful]. The candidate can quote Kimberlé Crenshaw to her purpose.

The Trail

“I’m not a Superpredator, Hillary!”: Black Lives Matter protestors confront Clinton at South Carolina fundraiser [Salon]. “Ashley Williams donated $500 to deliver a message directly to Clinton.”

“Can you apologize to black people for mass incarceration?” the activist asked Clinton.

“Can I talk and then maybe you can listen to what I say,” Clinton replied, as the mostly white crowd began hissing at the heckler.

“My very first speech back in April was about criminal justice reform,” Clinton explained to the audience.

But “you called black kids Superpredators,” the activist shot back.

“Do you want to hear the facts or do you just want to talk,” a clearly frustrated Clinton asked, as supporters yelled “you’re being rude” to the young woman.

“I know that you called black people Superpredators in 1994 … please explain your record.”

“You owe black people an apology,” the activist demanded before being escorted out by Secret Service.

“You know what?” Clinton said, leaning closer to the woman as she was being pushed out. “Nobody has ever asked me before. You are the first person to ask me and I am happy to address it.”

“OK, back to the issues,” Clinton said to shouts of “thank you” from the crowd as the young woman was finally removed from the residence.

“OK, back to the issues.” Here’s the video:

So Clinton didn’t give Madison the mic, then?

Ashley Williams interviewed [HuffPo].

“Hillary Clinton has a pattern of throwing the Black community under the bus when it serves her politically,” Williams said in a statement before the event. “She called our boys ‘super-predators’ in ’96, then she race-baited when running against Obama in ‘08, now she’s a lifelong civil rights activist. I just want to know which Hillary is running for President, the one from ’96, ’08, or the new Hillary?”

“How Cory Booker handles haters on Twitter” [WaPo]. I read this as the opening move in a Booker VP boomlet, despite, or perhaps because of, his neo-con connections.

“Sanders has emerged as far more gifted at the politics of personal charm than the popular image of him as a cantankerous crank suggests. He’s shown a real pleasure for campaigning that’s obvious to anyone, managed to turn a career of stubborn commitment to his chosen policy issues into a convincing argument for the sincerity of his convictions, and learned to benefit from the caustic-septuagenarian caricature of himself” [New York Magazine]. Personally, I’d like to see Sanders turn the cantankerous knob up to 11. He could start by blowing away the Democrat establishment sycophants — sorry for the redundancy — who insist that Obama’s record is beyond criticism (except by Clinton, of course). Because you know what’s coming…

“The Only Strategy For Hillary Clinton Is To Scorch The Earth” [Buzzfeed].

“[Cthulhu’s] bid for the White House has gotten further than most other imaginary candidacies, and I’ve long thought that the secret behind that success is Cthulhu’s campaign slogan: ‘Why settle for the lesser evil?”” [The Archdruid Report].

Cthulhu 2016

“Why Isn’t the G.O.P. Trying Harder to Beat Donald Trump?” [The New Yorker]. Essentially an interview with Romney’s chief strategist, Stuart Stevens. “‘Donald Trump has not tapped into something mystical,’ Stevens said, before he got off the phone. ‘He’s just running against campaigns that aren’t running against him. Bet on the guy who’s in the race.'”

Clinton Email Server Hairball

“Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Wednesday promised that any Justice Department review of possible criminal charges connected to Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information would be “independent,” without regard to politics or outside influence” [The Hill]. So Lynch is ruling out a Special Prosecutor.

“Most observers are focused on an ongoing FBI investigation of the role of classified information in Clinton’s private email transmissions. But the State Department’s inspector general is also on the case, and an IG spokesman told Government Executive on Tuesday his office “plans to issue another report on records management and security issues related to the use of non-departmental systems” [Government Executive]. This article also reminds us that one of those who could be deposed is Bryan Pagliano, “a technologist on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who helped set up the private server and who invoked his Fifth Amendment rights not to testify last September before the special House panel probing the 2012 Benghazi attacks.” Hmm.

“In an email with the subject ‘bravo!’ sent on March 19, 2011—the day the United States and its allies began bombing Libya—Clinton confidant and former employee Anne-Marie Slaughter appears to praise then-Secretary of State Clinton for convincing a reluctant President Obama to take military action in Libya” [In These Times].

“I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be after this week, but I have NEVER been prouder of having worked for you,” writes Slaughter, who worked as an advisor to Clinton in the State Department from 2009 to February 3, 2011, and then remained a consultant to the policy planning bureau. “Turning POTUS around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for.” An earlier email release, which I reported on previously, showed that Slaughter had spent February 2011 imploring Clinton to involve the United States militarily in Libya, insisting that it would “change the image of the United States overnight.”

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of February 20: “Initial jobless claims did rise 10,000 in the February 20 week but remain near historic lows” [Econoday]. “Likely to firm expectations for a solid February employment report.”

Durable Goods Orders, January 2016: “The factory sector bounced back strongly in January, indicated first by last week’s industrial production report and now by durable goods orders which are up a very strong 4.9 percent” [Econoday]. “Aircraft did add to the gain but when excluding transportation equipment, durable orders still rose 1.8 percent. And core capital goods orders, which had been weakening, bounced back strongly with a 3.9 percent gain.” And: “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved. The three month rolling average improved this month and now is slightly in expansion” [Econintersect].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, February2016: “Once again minus signs sweep across the Kansas City Fed manufacturing report, coming in at minus 12 for the February headline” [Econoday]. “This is the 12th contraction in a row for this report with only the Dallas Fed, which like Kansas City also covers an energy-dependent sector, posting an even longer and more dismal run. Today’s report extends an uninterrupted string of negative regional reports on manufacturing, all for February that cast a cold shadow over strength in today’s durable goods report for January.”

FHFA House Price Index, December 2015: “Home-price appreciation is solid but did slow going into year end” [Econoday]. “The housing sector is uneven, putting home prices at risk where appreciation, given limited wage gains, is a key source of homeowner wealth.” I don’t know where to begin on that concept of “wealth”….

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February 21, 2016: “There’s plenty of uncertainty, both economic and political, but the consumer comfort index has been holding steady, at 44.2 for only a 1 tenth downtick from the prior week” [Econoday].

Shipping: “In revealing annual results that saw net losses more than double, Angeliki Frangou, chairman and ceo of Navios Maritime Holdings, described yesterday dry bulk “as difficult a market as ever existed in shipping” [Splash247].

Honey for the Bears: “Raising Money at a $1 Billion Valuation Has Been a Lot Easier Than Exiting for One” [Bloomberg]. “According to its ‘Global Tech Exits Report’ for 2015, 70 members were catapulted into the exulted ‘unicorn’ club of startups with valuations of $1 billion or higher, but only 11 such unicorns exited through IPOs or acquisitions in the same year.” So, crudely then, 11/70, 85% of Silicon Valley valuations were bullshit? Is this normal?

Honey for the Bears: “Energy XXI Ltd. and SandRidge Energy Inc., oil and gas drillers with a combined $7.6 billion of debt, didn’t pay interest on their bonds last week. They have until the middle of next month to either pay the interest, work out a deal with their creditors or face a default that could tip them into bankruptcy” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. shale boom was fueled by junk debt. Companies spent more on drilling than they earned selling oil and gas, plugging the difference with other peoples’ money. Drillers piled up a staggering $237 billion of borrowings at the end of September, according to data compiled on the 61 companies in the Bloomberg Intelligence index of North American independent oil and gas producers.” $237 doesn’t seem systemic, though.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49, Neutral (previous close: 48) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 25 at 10:09am. Testing greed once again.

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Afghanistan war: Just what was the point?” [CNN]. “Then the bizarre happened. Eyjafjallajökull, a volcano in Iceland erupted in 2010, scattering ash into the atmosphere and grounding aircraft. McChrystal and his team were among those delayed, along with a Rolling Stone reporter. They spoke their minds, found themselves in print, and McChrystal was fired. From that point, the war felt like it changed. Forever.” Nice work, Gaia. Maybe I’m forgetting, but this seems like the first MSM piece I’ve read that outright said we lost the Afghan War. Maybe Trump broke the taboo?

Big Brother is Watching You

“Are “Backdoors” Real or Virtual? The Logical Flaw in #AppleVsFBI” [Uncomputing]. “If you think government should not exist (a view I find largely incoherent, but we need to talk about that on its own terms), we should have that political discussion. We should not be having companies build tools whose partly-stated reason for being is to disable vital functions of government without quite saying so.” Watch for the glibertarian concepts being smuggled into the Apple vs. FBI discussion

“Confirmed: Carnegie Mellon University Attacked Tor, Was Subpoenaed By Feds” [Vice].

Health Care

Shocker: Adminstration gives Iowa the go-ahead to privatize Medicaid [Des Moines Register].

“How about Medicare for all?” [Science Blogs (BEast)]. From 2007, and still true. “I’ve got my Medicare card. But I had to wait until I was old to get it. In the meantime I spent a huge amount of money getting coverage. I’d have gladly paid for it in my taxes. I wouldn’t have had to pay 50% more for the same coverage because of the 30% portion of my private health insurance premiums are administrative costs to a health insurance company whose every incentive is to deny me coverage.”

Dear Old Blighty

“Corbyn: I’ve Got To Do My Tie Up For The PM” [Sky News]. Full of the finest British snark, with Corbyn, to my mind, coming out the winner.

“Savile report: key points of Janet Smith’s independent inquiry” [Guardian]. “Dame Janet Smith identified 72 people who were the victims of sexual crimes by the late Jimmy Savile in connection with his work at the BBC, including eight rapes. … The earliest known incident was the rape of a 13-year-old girl at Lime Grove studios in 1959 and the last known incident was in 2006 at the last recording of Top of the Pops. … No evidence that the BBC as a corporate body was aware of Savile’s conduct. … An atmosphere of fear still exists today in the BBC, possibly because obtaining work in the BBC is highly competitive and many people no longer have the security on an employment contract.” Ugly.

“Jimmy Savile report: Victims’ lawyer calls Dame Janet Smith report on BBC ‘an expensive whitewash'” [Independent]. “It is unfortunate that Dame Janet had no power to compel senior managers to give evidence, giving the impression that the whole picture of who knew what has not been revealed.” I love the understatement: “Unfortunate.”


“Global warming ‘hiatus’ debate flares up again” [Nature]. “‘There is this mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what the observations are showing,’ says lead author John Fyfe, a climate modeller at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, British Columbia. ‘We can’t ignore it.’ Fyfe uses the term ‘slowdown’ rather than ‘hiatus’ and stresses that it does not in any way undermine global-warming theory. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, is tired of the entire discussion, which he says comes down to definitions and academic bickering. There is no evidence for a change in the long-term warming trend, he says, and there are always a host of reasons why a short-term trend might diverge — and why the climate models might not capture that divergence. ‘A little bit of turf-protecting and self-promotion I think is the most parsimonious explanation,’ Schmidt says. ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that.'”

“[A]uthors calculated sea levels over thousands of years by analyzing cores of sediment from the salt marshes and 23 other geological sites around the world” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “The research team found it “extremely likely” that average sea levels rose faster in the 20th century than in any previous century since at least 800 B.C. … ‘It clearly illustrates that we’re living in an unusual time,’ said Rutgers University professor Benjamin P. Horton, one of the authors. ‘The paper also shows we’re the cause of this.'”

“The 13 activists who chained themselves to Heathrow’s northern runway are likely to become the first climate change protesters to be jailed in the UK when they are sentenced on Wednesday morning, despite the support of prominent politicians.” [Guardian]. “During the trial, the 13 argued that their actions were reasonable, proportionate and necessary to prevent death and serious injury via air pollution and climate change, saying that 31 people a year die prematurely around Heathrow due to its pollution, and thousands die due to the effects of climate change.”

Class Warfare

“San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, used to be the best place in the country for kids to experience a Horatio Alger, rags-to-riches life. Is it still?” [The Atlantic]. Hahahahahaha. No.

“Debtors’ Prison in 21st-Century America” [The Atlantic]. “Thousands of people throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area are routinely sent to jail because they cannot pay local court fines and fees. These people are poor, and they tend to be black. While there are many terms to describe this—including, importantly, unconstitutional—there is one with historical resonance reserved for such a practice: debtors’ prison.”

“Nudges Aren’t Enough for Problems Like Retirement Savings” [Eduardo Porter, New York Times]. So, the 401(k) scam puts a whole generations retirement down the tubes, except for those collecting the fees (ka-ching), and here we are!


Well, back to the old drawing board!

“Organizers of a graduate student unionization effort confirmed the campaign has reached a critical point: a majority of graduate students employed by [Harvard] University have signed authorization cards in support of unionization, which satisfies the threshold to call an election to form a union.” [Harvard Crimson].

“The $100,000 job: Garbage workers” [CNN].

News of the Wired

“Alcohol use among Native Americans compared to whites: Examining the veracity of the ‘Native American elevated alcohol consumption’ belief” [Drug and Alchohol Dependence].

“A new generation of airship engineers, some backed by significant government and private investment, is convinced that, given new technologies and new materials, the public can be sold on airships” [The New Yorker].

“The Visual Series Of Malay Proverb” [Tumblr]. Gorgeous!

“The Unsettling Mystery of the Creepiest Channel on YouTube” [Atlas Obscura]. Very much like “the footage” in William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Tia):

Crabapple Floribunda

Crabapple Floribunda.

* * *

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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. Steve H.

    – Lotta rice bowls being broken, there.

    Now it gets nasty. Doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you don’t interrupt the cycle.



  2. GlobalMisanthrope

    Billionaire self-funding front runner Trump apparently has ZERO TV ads on in Super Tuesday states. Today sorta last day to add buys

    Guess Trump read the Rolling Stone piece.

    1. DJG

      Slaughter and Clinton: The very definition of the anatomy of evil. Where is Hannah Arendt when we need her?

    2. RP

      If only there was a progressive candidate in the democratic primary with a tiny % of the baggage Clinton has.

      And wouldn’t it be great if he/she had been fighting for civil rights and equality for over 50 years?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You send Frodo alone to destroy the evil ring, but without Sam and others, he would have been defeated or used by the other side.

        It’s just important we track candidates at the various levels.

        Are any newcomers beating party-machine candidates/incumbents in the primaries?

                1. samhill

                  Serious nerdiness: Aragorn, direct line man of the West, was in his 80s. Bernie is our White Wizard, but the whole story goes to hell if the Balrog wins at the start.

            1. egg

              We’ve also got Eric Kingson in NY-24, Tom Fiegen for IA-Sen, Jamie Raskin for MD-8, Donna Edwards in MD-4, Zephyr Teachout in NY-19, Dave Calone in NY-1. (Among others. Check out Howie Klein’s downwithtyranny blog and Blue America PAC for candidates to pay attention to.)

              The party’s lining up behind Teachout for some reason but I think she’s really legit, probably more so than Warren. Having her in Congress will be a really big deal.

              Edwards is a big fight — her primary opponent has all the establishment support but it’s very close. Kingson’s in a pretty crowded primary with party-backed opponents and likely won’t win but he’s a really authentic professor type. Calone’s a mostly-self-funding enviro and local business guy whose fiscal-responsibility-rah-rah opponent has all the Party support, also supposed to be pretty close.

              And keep an eye on Alan Grayson for FL-Sen — a bit of a longshot since the whole party’s trying to sink him — he’s a narcissistic psychopath but he’s our narcissitic psychopath. :-)

              1. allan

                Slight correction: Donna Edwards is currently MD-4, but is running for the US Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Mikulski. Edwards’ opponent is fellow congressperson Chris Van Hollen, who as DCCC chair guided the Dems to their stunning gains losses in the House in 2010. Edwards leads 39-37 in the latest poll, but the donor class is firmly behind Van Hollen. Because centrism.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wonder what he next move is…

      “I nominate myself. I need two jobs to feed my family.”

      We need leaders more representative of the working people.

      1. HopeLB

        No way. Obama would not settle for such a low paying job (Roberts is always complaining about this) after doing such hard work for the banksters. He will do as Blair has done before him. Besides, he clearly does not understand the Constitution very well.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The GOP will only play ball if this moves the needle on their own voters. Republican voters souring on the GOP killed SS reform in 2005. Voting against ACA everyday only led to the virtual extinction of state and local democrats and winning both houses of Congress.

      As long as the Dems tie themselves to Hillary, they know Team Blue is nothing more than a paper gerbil which won’t organize or even question why Sanders is popular with the kids, just how they can get in on the action.

      While the left is fighting Hillary, no one will rally around the Supreme Court.

      1. sleepy

        Just got through watching Chris Matthews’ interview of Sanders on msnbc’s town hall from the University of Chicago.

        Sanders was terrific and schooled Tweety who appeared to be taken aback. But after it was over, the first thing Maddow had to say was, to paraphrase, “did Sanders, as the underdog, do anything to change his underdog status.”

        Nothing about policy of course, and just as bad, no mention of the fact that Sanders leads Clinton nationally in a recent reuters poll.

        I thought msnbc was ok during the Bush years and offered some solid critiques of the repubs. But as soon as Obama was elected, well . . . . . . .

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          MSNBC axed their highest rated personality, Donahue, for his opposition to the Iraq War in 2002.

      1. Yves Smith

        The link does not work for me, but separately, this idea that Obama was outmaneuvered is way overdone. Obama is a neoliberal. Appearing to give in to those meanie Republicans when he was going where he wanted to be anyhow gave him an excuse for the left, to the extent that it exists after he made concerted efforts to destroy it (Google “Jane Hamsher” + “veal pen”).

      1. Skippy

        Steven… is LET still clinging to her idol…

        Skippy… before I went dark her and the posse shut me out.

    3. different clue

      Well, that certainly destroys my theory of Obama and the Rs co-conspiring to nominate Sandoval.

      The Rs are clearly motivated by emotion. They appear to miss the fact that Obama is one of them and that he wants to put one of their own on the Supreme Court.

    1. tomk

      The link doesn’t work, but the article is there if you go Atlas Obscura, but all the youtube videos the article links to have been removed, even thought they were just strange and disturbing, but not offensive (by the articles account). It is weird, a monumental amount of work posting very brief, abstract bits of video.

      1. Ulysses

        As Lambert points out– eerily similar to the “footage” that drives so much of the story in Gibson’s novel!

      2. optimader

        Youtube was actually designed to be the GUI for Tacyhon Wave communication warning the Aliens to evacuate from Earth and go back home…
        This thread follows a group of scientists in the United Kingdom connected with the University of Cambridge and their attempts to warn the past of the impending disaster by sending tachyon-induced messages to the astronomical position the Earth occupied in 1962–1963. Given the faster-than-light nature of the tachyon, these messages will effectively reach the past. These efforts are led by John Renfrew, an Englishman, and Gregory Markham, an American most likely modeled on Benford himself

  3. Clive

    Re: BBC child molestation scandal

    The BBC really did cross a line today for me. Firstly, the whole “independent inquiry” kayfabe — billed as being judge-led, it was more a case of establishment stalwart Dame Smith having her enquiry’s framing defined by the BBC board of governors (the wriggle room is with the “in connection his work with the BBC” — this has the effect of excluding a whole slew of material which has a direct bearing on the BBC’s conduct but can conveniently be excluded because it wasn’t within the definition of “work with the BBC”) and so letting everyone evade direct responsibility.

    The usual excuse — “we didn’t know, if only we had known, we’d have Done Something” — gives permission for senior managers to deny culpability because so much of the information available contemporaneously was not concerned with the BBC, but of course had a direct bearing on what the perpetrators did within the BBC.

    That’s not the worst of it. The real sliminess is in firing a well known radio DJ on a fairly flimsy pretext on the day the report was published — knowing full well that the dismissal of this household name will grab the headlines for the next day or two.

    Ta-dah! Oh, look, over there, it’s a leprechaun, wow, amazing… now what were we talking about? Oh, I forget, never mind.

    I saw what you did there, BBC.

  4. jrs

    Yes 401ks are rip offs with their fees, but even with NO fees, how can anyone accumulate anything for retirement even with money to save in a ZIRP world? The Federal Reserve policies of ZIRP everywhere, not the fee charging, is the main problem. Most people would probably rather have a few decent CDs in IRAS than more in the stock market in 401ks anyway, that was more feasible with 6% interest rates.

    Now this would be okay if we had a generous government pension program and not a meager one like Social Security (in other words increase Social Security!), then ZIRP might be tolerable, and it’s probably the best solution. But instead it’s just a one two punch: you are mostly responsible for your own retirement, by the way you have to make absolutely clownish investments to do this because ZIRP forces you out to an absurd level of the risk curve.

    1. JohnnyGL

      “how can anyone accumulate anything for retirement even with money to save in a ZIRP world?” – It’s a trick question, you’re not supposed to retire. You work until you get fired or until you die, because markets, as Lambert might say.

    2. Massinissa

      I think they expect you to take your money to a casino and try and make enough money there to retire off of.

      And if it doesn’t work they blame you for not gambling right.

  5. Darthbobber

    So the BLM-Clinton imbroglio was Wednesday evening, and as of 2:46 pm Eastern, it still hasn’t happened as far as the NYT is concerned. “All the news that fits, we print.”

    1. allan

      In contrast, the NYT is giving front page coverage to Trump’s extensive use of H2-B visas to hire foreign workers
      at his Palm Beach resort. Which was fully reported by Reuters last August. Panic, much?

      1. Pat

        And supporters are trotting out her full prepared after the fact statement rather than the very clear “why don’t you listen and defer to me” confusion before jumping back to the rehearsed and safe well prepared remarks you see in the video. And using the term context.

        Forget the press, the video needs to go viral, so people understand the real context is that Clinton really didn’t have an answer AND had no interest in the protestor’s concerns. Sadly I’m betting it won’t.

  6. John

    Medicare for all
    So easy to expand as slow or as fast as u want…
    Just drop eligibility age, e.g. 5 years every year. And also expand from bottom, starting with prenatal care.

    1. Daryl

      Plus, it would be a great way to put insurance companies out of business, or “starve the beast” if you will

    2. Pat

      Hell they don’t even have to go that far for the expansion from the bottom. A significant portion of American children already qualify for SChip. Replace SChip, require all ob-gyn and pediatricians to provide the information of availability of Medikid to all parents of non-SChip eligible children and how to get your child covered. They even have a means of partially funding it by cutting the standard deduction given per child.

  7. Kim Kaufman

    “Liberal Redbaiting” from Doug Henwood

    Takes apart a piece by Paul Starr, co-founder of The American Prospect. “Normally the dull embodiment of tepid liberalism, Starr has unleashed a redbaiting philippic— a frothing one, even, by his usual standards—aimed at Bernie Sanders. Sanders is no liberal, Starr reveals—he’s a socialist. He may call himself a democratic socialist to assure us that he’s no Bolshevik—Starr actually says this—but that doesn’t stop Starr from stoking fears of state ownership and central planning. Thankfully the word “gulag” doesn’t appear, but that was probably an oversight.””

    and then goes on to dissect Starr on his anti-single payer message.


  8. Banana Breakfast

    Creepiest channel on youtube link is broken.

    Trump continues to be surprisingly excellent on foreign policy, as long as it doesn’t involve Mexico, and totally incoherent on domestic policy, but I kind of think that’s better than coherently terrible like his opponents. I’m not one of those “I’ll vote for Trump if he’s up against Hillary” types (I’ll vote for Stein or some other third party socialist, maybe) but he’s far more clear eyed and insightful than his blinkered Republican contemporaries.

    1. fresno dan

      Banana Breakfast
      February 25, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      “trump is….and totally incoherent on domestic policy, but I kind of think that’s better than coherently terrible like his opponents.”
      I love that!
      I predict it becomes the next meme!!!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have to make sure Trump doesn’t require all Pentagon workers to swear a personal oath of allegiance.

      1. JeffC

        When I first worked for the DoD in 1978 (surveillance radar work) I actually did have to swear an oath of allegiance to the constitution. I have no idea whether they still require that.

      2. ambrit

        That goes along with the “Ideological Purity” laws and the “Patriot (Enabling) Act.”
        “One People, One Empire, One President.” Endless work will make you free!

      1. jrs

        or Muslims as they also spark complete irrationality. Did you know Obama would go to Scalia’s funeral if it was at a Mosque? Well Trump told me so, so I’ve got to believe it. Ooohh Mosque’s booga booga, Islam is so violent, thank heavens we’re so peaceful here in the West. And btw psst: Obama is a Muslim! Bet you didn’t know that!

        Yea it’s all comedy until you realize Trump is also playing to people who actually believe this stuff.

      2. ambrit

        Yeah. They inherited the old Nazi infiltration route. I think we need Roy Rogers or Tex Ritter to keep our southern borders safe.

  9. timbers

    “Healthcare stakeholders would go all out against Sanders’ single-payer plan because “they would view it as a threat to their existence. Insurers would go to the mat on that. All the providers and many of the business groups would be concerned about disruption in the current system. Device manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacies and others would be very concerned about reimbursement rates. This would make the fight against the Health Security Act (the 1993 Clinton administration health reform bill) look like a birthday party”


    One of the many miscalculations made by even well intentioned ACA supporters, is that giving $trillions$ to already powerful corporations would make them even more powerful and able to prevent future change to the the ACA UNLESS the change would further benefit them (and screw us).

    1. Benedict@Large

      That wasn’t a bug. It was a feature. Many people, myself included, were screaming exactly this during the run-up.

      That’s what that whole Tea Party media circus was about, by the way. The circus sucked up all the air, while this and many other legitimate complaints (from both sides, mind you; there were honest actors on the right as well as the left) went unheard because they couldn’t rise above the noise.

  10. rich

    These Are the Wrong Gatekeepers to Clean Up the Culture of Wall Street

    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 25, 2016
    In a feeble public relations move, Bill Dudley, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and FINRA, the self-regulatory body on Wall Street, are making noises about cleaning up the culture on Wall Street. It’s always dangerous to make any predictions when it comes to Wall Street but in this case we can confidently predict that when it comes to the New York Fed and FINRA, the only possible impact they could have on the culture is to make it worse.

    The New York Fed didn’t see a problem for Bill Dudley’s spouse to collect $190,000 a year in deferred compensation from JPMorgan Chase while the New York Fed served as the bank’s main regulator. The New York Fed didn’t see a problem for Citigroup’s CEO, Sandy Weill, or JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, to sit on its Board of Directors as their banks embarked on a serial reign of abuses against the investing public. In 2013, Carmen Segarra, a lawyer and former Bank Examiner at the New York Fed, filed a lawsuit alleging that Relationship Managers at the New York Fed obstructed her investigation of Goldman Sachs and attempted to bully her into changing her negative findings. When Segarra refused, she was fired by the New York Fed according to the lawsuit. Segarra later produced internal tape recordings backing up the toothless regulation of Goldman by the New York Fed.

    The New York Fed epitomizes failing up.

    Timothy Geithner was the President of the New York Fed from November 17, 2003 right through the buildup of unprecedented leverage and toxic subprime assets on Wall Street. He continued in the position until 2009, despite failing to foresee the impending crash or the systemic corruption. As a reward for his negligence as a regulator, President Obama appointed him to become the U.S. Treasury Secretary in 2009, where he proceeded to oversee an unprecedented taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.


    Do the elites ever read these columns??

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s possible, or maybe it’s their goal one day, that the CIA can hijack anyone’s brain at any time.

      So that, none of us can be sure what we express is coming from the true us.

      In such a CIA utopia, all election results are pre-ordained.

      How do we resist?

      “Just don’t trust yourself.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “Just don’t trust yourself.”

        That was not me writing.

        I suspect it was Craazyman or Craazyboy.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          MK Ultra 1.0 involved only 80 institutions, including 44 colleges and universities (only), among others and according to Wiki,

          “The CIA operated through these institutions using front organizations, although sometimes top officials at these institutions were aware of the CIA’s involvement.”

          MK Ultra 20 will contribute more to the economy, in the name of stimulating it, by involving more scientists and colleges/universities.

    2. fosforos

      Please CIA, send some of those heroines to the Clinton–she needs them desperately. Her Albright and her Steinem are on the DL and she has no replacements anywhere near. But make sure that they’re right-handers!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In contrast, over at Marketwatch, they are saying Beijing is now billionaires’ capital of the world, move over New York.

      But why not Shanghai?

      I suspect it’s easier to make money by capturing the government, thus Beijing, and not Shanghai.

      But why New York and not DC?

      Maybe with technology, you can telecommute and control remotely, and still enjoy fine museums and Broadway shows.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author


      If they didn’t pull down their goddamned windowshades on the goddamned Acela, they would have noticed years ago. Nothing but industrial devastation for miles and miles and miles.

  11. ambrit

    I was considering the Cthulhu 2016 logo and realized it was a fair approximation of Trump. Considering what he does for ‘a living,’ wouldn’t that make Trump the Lessor Evil?

      1. ambrit

        If evil triumphs not this cycle, Fed Cthulhu can lie dreaming deep in the vaults beneath the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

  12. DakotabornKansan

    Alcohol use among Native Americans

    Many years ago in South Dakota at the beginning of my career in health care, I witnessed the devastating effects of sniffing gasoline fumes, not alcohol abuse, by young Native Americans from the nearby Indian reservation. It was a cheap and easy escape from their despair. It is still a significant problem today across North America.

    1. For The Win

      The study is interesting, but it only measured “alcohol consumption” which isn’t the same as the degree of inebriation & dependency. Genetic studies on enzyme production, which are now relatively cheap to carry out, would be interesting — but like many issues facing native Americans, there is little interest and even less money to carry out these studies by the oligarchy that finds the existing memes powerful tools.

  13. nowhere

    Re: “Are “Backdoors” Real or Virtual? The Logical Flaw in #AppleVsFBI”

    I’d respond with this essay.

    Today’s most powerful technologies relate to information concerning our thoughts, associations, and bodies. If the framers of the US Constitution were alive today and as well educated as they were then, the Bill of Rights would likely be focused on balancing access to information to ensure that the government remains within bounds.

    With this public request from the FBI, the balance between people and policing is being called into question. As the debate unfolds, we need to consider whether it makes sense, legally or as a matter of policy, for everyone – law enforcement, hackers, and terrorists – to be able to possess or access information.

    The Apple case will affect the balance of informational power, and the scales currently are weighted against the citizen. Resolving the case requires a more considered response from US politicians than hysterical tweeting. In view of the modern power of information, they must think carefully about the legal ramifications of the FBI’s demand.

    This case is definitely about precedent setting.

    1. Darthbobber

      The logic of the “backdoors” article is tediously sophistic and worse than the logic it affects to debunk. For one thing, Apple has neither admitted or denied that its “possible” to do this, so that whole “but Apple admits blah-blah” major premise fails. And whether there really is a compelling need for the Feds to be able to do this is also by no means clear. The chain of tendentious, Gilbert and Sullivan logic, and flat misstatements of Apple’s ACTUAL arguments in order to present this joke is worth unpacking by someone who feels like shooting at the obvious targets.

  14. Lexington

    Dread Lord Cthulhu is running for president? Why was I not informed?

    I love the logo and the “Why settle for the lesser evil?” campaign slogan is brilliantly subversive.

    I almost bought a mug but with exchange and shipping it’s running upwards of $40. On the one hand I fervently believe that the whole rotten edifice of American plutocracy needs to be burned to the ground and you know Lord Cthulhu is the perfect Eldrich Abomination to get the job done…but on the other, $40 is a lot of money for a coffee mug. Plus I’m saving up to get my own copy of the Necronomicon should one become available on eBay.

    Anyway with Cthulhu-wannabe Donald Trump leading the Republican race I’m pretty confident the End Times is still on schedule without my financial support. If President Trump serves his apprenticeship well he can look forward to taking his due place at Chtulhu’s right hand.

    Beats a seat on the Citigroup board any day.

      1. Lexington


        The fundamentalist Christian constituency will no doubt appreciate the campaign’s adherence to Scriptural literalism…

    1. ambrit

      The stars were not aligned properly to inform you.
      eBay? Do you mean eldritchBay, that lies offshore from Innsmouth?
      I was going to download a copy of the Book of the Names of the Dead from the Miskatonic University website, but was convinced otherwise by my wife. “There are some things Man was not meant to know,” she told me. After my misadventures in the cursed realm of economics, I reluctantly agreed. “Sometimes,” she said, “that Ivory Tower is just an oversized ‘harigata.'” Ouch!

  15. EmilianoZ

    During the whole interruption, Hillary’s demeanor was very calm, completely unfazed. That was very impressive, very statewoman-like. At some point, you would almost expect her to lay a motherly arm around the girl’s shoulders as she did for the little Mexican child who was so worried about her parents.

    It’s a shame Hillary never got a chance to explain herself. Maybe “superpredator” was never code for youthful delinquent of the minorities. Maybe it just referred to criminals of any race, ethnicity, religious or political affiliation, …

    1. Sam Adams

      I’d be afraid of the grip. I shiver at the though of a thin steel shank held in Hillary’s sinister free hand entering between a rib, as she pushe away to the next contributor.

    2. For The Win

      “Maybe “superpredator” was never code for youthful delinquent of the minorities.”

      First, Hillary has had a lot of practice at being dishonest, to herself most of all. That’s how she managed and still manages to live within that “marriage.” Further she’s a well practiced, skilled defender of lies and liars, she is use to being called out on it. I don’t think these are skill sets I want the president to have. Though to be honest many of them did, so you may reasonably think otherwise.

      Second. that’s the point of dog whistles. They are used to send a private, deniable message to an target audience in front of a wider-world. The Clintons both have shown many times their willingness to use dog whistles aimed at either Southern Whites or at Blacks about the other “race”. Clinton didn’t invent the term, further she certainly knew it’s history coming from Arkansas’ political system. She merely picked it up and ran with it. I suspect Bill probably set Hillary up with it; close enough to him to make sure the intended audience got it while leaving enough room for him to keep massaging the black voters.

      The white/black split/bias in media coverage together with human nature still helps anyone who wants to hold on to invalid beliefs keep them. I’ve lost count of the dog whistles Hillary has been blow in the last 2 months, yet very few have been picked up on by the media.

      1. jrs

        I don’t know, I’m not sure Eleanor Roosevelt’s marriage was ideal, but she would have made a fine president, although she had no interest, as if this bit of alternative history was possible.

        But needless to say Hillary Clinton is no Eleanor Roosevelt. But people are really much more than their love lives, or odd arrangements thereof, or lack thereof.

        1. ambrit

          From what I’ve read, Eleanor Roosevelt was the ‘conscience’ of the Democratic Party after Franklin died. I very much doubt if Bill or Hillary let their consciences out of their box’s very much.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Hillary: Look, the corporations and foreign governments only paid me of much because they didn’t believe me when I said I couldn’t be bought. Let me assure you, I haven’t changed one position because of a donation. My views were just so similar already.

  16. barrisj

    From the vastly under-rated “99 Homes” (all the buzz went to “The Big Short”) here is real estate broker Rick Carver (Michael Shannon – just brilllant) speaking to his protege, while putting together a portfolio of foreclosed homes for a wealthy syndicate:

    “America, a rigged nation, rigged of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich”.

    A line which should have been in the aforementioned “Big Short”, but not in keeping with the tenor of the film.

  17. TsWkr

    “OK, back to the issues,”

    This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this reference to ‘issues’ from the Clinton camp. Paul Jay had an interview with a Clinton surrogate in New Hampshire and when pressed about Clinton voting to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, and that being indicative of poor foreign policy judgment, the surrogate was just baffled that they would be talking about such a “small issue” that “isn’t an issue now”.

    Similar to what Archdruid wrote, it seems like the Clinton camp just views elections as games to be won by pushing the right buttons. They also expect to define the rules of that game by telling people what the issues are — if you bring up anything else, you aren’t taken seriously because you’re not playing the real game.

  18. Tom Denman

    “[A] new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows views of ‘Medicare for all’ are significantly more favorable than ‘single-payer’ health care” [WaPo].

    A rose by any other name….

    1. For The Win


      This is a clue as to why Bernie Sanders avoids the term “Welfare” and uses social equality, social justice, etc. He’s trying to avoid the “dog whistle” Clinton developed, but in reframing the term, he runs the risk that the black voters don’t hear that high tone pitch, and thing of Welfare as a good word, just as many white voters like the term Medicare, and don’t have a clue what “single payer” really means.

      BTW, try searching Sanders website for terms like “social justice” and you’ll see that Sanders has quite a lot to say about “Welfare”. One could argue he should try re-framing the meaning of Welfare in white voters minds, but that’s putting the carriage before the horse. You got to have both power and time to work that kind of cultural reformation.

  19. ambrit

    Thanks for the airship article. I rode in the Goodyear blimp when it used to give passenger rides up and down Miami Beach during its’ off season. It was hangared on Watson Island, half way between South Beach and Downtown Miami. It was the smoothest ride I ever experienced. For a child, this was the way to go, floating above it all.

  20. NV

    Re the delightful House of Commons video: Having lived in England I’d say that that wasn’t merely snark, but good old-fashioned class hatred, of which we could use a bit more of here.

  21. NV

    Addendum to the above- The Clintons behaving like a monarchy is an example of how we could, or ought to be, using a bit more of the ‘British snark’, as Lambert calls it, to highlight the class differences.

  22. giantsquid

    The AP writeup on the results of their recent poll is remarkably awful. However, the poll itself includes one result of note.

    “In general, do you support, oppose or neither support nor oppose the health care reforms
    that were passed by Congress in March of 2010?”

    26 percent support and 42 percent oppose

    AP chose not to mention this little tidbit at all, rather focusing on how push poll-like assertions affected the percentage of people who’d support a single-payer plan. And regarding the ACA, this is AP’s take:

    “Memo to those following the Republican presidential primary: Most people doubt that “Obamacare” will be repealed even if the GOP wins the White House.

    Forty-nine percent say the Affordable Care Act will be kept in place with changes, whether major or minor. Another 6 percent say a Republican president will not be able to make any changes to Obama’s law.

    “A lot of people who couldn’t have health care before now have health care, so I don’t think you are going to be able to just turn around and strip all those people of their health care,” said Lillian Duren, a recently retired psychiatric emergency nurse from Brooklyn, New York. “You need to fix what doesn’t work and keep moving.””

    Memo to those following the Republican presidential primary: Most people doubt that “Obamacare” will be repealed even if the GOP wins the White House.

    Forty-nine percent say the Affordable Care Act will be kept in place with changes, whether major or minor. Another 6 percent say a Republican president will not be able to make any changes to Obama’s law.

    “A lot of people who couldn’t have health care before now have health care, so I don’t think you are going to be able to just turn around and strip all those people of their health care,” said Lillian Duren, a recently retired psychiatric emergency nurse from Brooklyn, New York. “You need to fix what doesn’t work and keep moving.”

    Results on the ACA are on pg. 20


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