2:00PM Water Cooler 2/4/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“In a Broadway-style performance of a parody version of the Frozen anthem, Fair Trade Princess Ilsa kicked off 48 hours of national and international anti-TPP demonstrations with her rendition of ‘TPP: Let It Go'” [Eyes on Trade]. Royalty-free video; royalty-free photos.

“It already seems too late for passage before November’s presidential and congressional elections. So TPP’s fate may hinge on American voters” [The Economist, “The dotted line: trade in the Pacific”].

Elizabeth Warren: “I hope Congress will use its constitutional authority to stop this deal before it makes things even worse and even more dangerous for America’s hardest-working families” [The Hill]. “She added that the agreement ‘would tilt the playing field even more in favor of a big multinational corporations and against working families.'”

“Clinton also stated that she will not lobby against TPP, leaving many to wonder if her statement of opposition, coming just before the first debate, was serious or only for election purposes because of the unpopularity of the agreement. Then Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said in a recent Bloomberg TV interview that he believes Clinton will switch to supporting TPP after the election. Inside Trade (paywall) reported that Donohue said that Clinton has publicly opposed the deal chiefly because Sen. Bernie Sanders opposes it” [Our Future].

“Last week Mexican civil society groups convened organizations from the NAFTA countries plus Peru and Chile to reenergize that collaboration in the context of TPP and build an action plan moving forward.” [Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy].



“The Daily 202: Hillary Clinton makes her Wall Street problem worse” [WaPo]. “That’s what they offered.” And as Tammany Hall’s George Washington Plunkitt said: “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.” Here’s the video:

And here’s the transcript:

COOPER: But did you have to be paid $675,000?

CLINTON: Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered, so…


You know every secretary of State that I know has done that.

COOPER: But (inaudible) for office they’re not running for an office…

CLINTON: Well, I didn’t know…

COOPER: … have known.

CLINTON: To be honest I wasn’t – I wasn’t committed to running. I didn’t know whether I would or not.

COOPER: You didn’t think you were going to run for president again?

CLINTON: I didn’t.

Wowsers. Oddly, there isn’t any laughter after “To be honest,” but maybe the audience had been stunned into silence. What I can’t figure out is whether Clinton’s answer was scripted or not. On the one hand, doing anything not scripted would be uncharacteristic for such a disciplined candidate. But accidents happen. On the other, fire the scriptwriter. Then again, perhaps the entire Clinton operation is such a cesspoll of corruption that everything seemed

“Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — more than one of every 10 dollars of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings” [Washington Post]. “The contributions helped Clinton reach a fundraising milestone: By the end of 2015, she had brought in more money from the financial sector during her four federal campaigns than her husband did during his quarter-century political career.” Ka-ching.

“Wealthy Donors Pump Millions Into Sanders’ Campaign In Last-Ditch Effort To Destroy His Credibility” [The Onion].

The Voters

“Indeed, towering mid-twentieth-century liberal and radical left intellectuals and activists such as A. Philip Randolph, John P. Davis, Esther Cooper Jackson, John Jackson, Bayard Rustin, and scores of others would have found themselves quite at odds with [Ta-Nahesi] Coates’s liberal antiracist viewpoint that working-class-centered, anticapitalist political projects are patently inadequate for addressing the concerns of black voters” [Jacobin]. “The reparations argument is rooted in black nationalist politics, which traditionally elides class and neglects the way that race-first politics are often the means for advancing discrete, bourgeois class interests.”

Adolph Reed (transcript here):


“Barack Obama’s presidency has been a very good thing for Republicans” (with maps) [WaPo]. “From 2008 to 2015, Democrats went from a 30-state lead to a six-state deficit when it comes to states solidly or leaning their way on party affiliation. That is simply stunning.” And the Democratic Party establishment that engineered this debacle want us to reward them for their good work because they’re “pragmatic” and “experienced”! What the Democratic Party needs is a hostile takeover, followed by a thorough housecleaning, and a management shake-up.

“With talk of bridging partisan divides, the Democratic frontrunner is adopting a tone she once mocked in 2008” [The Atlantic]. That was then… This is now…

“I am breaking rank and going rogue by warning with blunt and uncompromising words that the Hillary Clinton campaign has gone astray by failing to offer a clear and inspiring vision about the kind of presidency she dreams of and lapsing into attacks against Bernie Sanders for advocating powerful change and progressive reforms that many liberals and independents believe in” [Brent Budowsky, The Hill]. “Instead of attacking Sanders for having dreams too great, the former first lady should share with the nation the dreams she has, without fear or favor about which interest group might be offended. She should speak of her dreams with passion, principle, courage and authenticity with her voice, as Sanders does with his.” Assumes facts not in evidence. Very unfortunately.

“[Green Presidential candidate Dr. Jill] Stein still faces the daunting challenge of ballot access. A Green presidential candidate has never been on the ballot in all 50 states (in 2000, Nader appeared in 43). Approximating that goal is essential to mitigating concerns about wasted votes, and in 2012 Stein only reached 36, not counting the District of Columbia. According to a Green Party statement, it starts this year with only 22 in hand” [Politico]. “Lacking complete unity on the farthest left flank, Stein sees a huge bounty just around the corner in the form of soon-to-be disgruntled Sanders voters. She is careful not to seem like she is breaking out the popcorn as he suffers the digs and jabs from the Clinton behemoth, genially ‘wishing’ her nominal rival, ‘all the luck in the world.’ But she fully expects him to lose. And when he does, she plans to ‘let this be a learning experience, the teachable moment’ for Sanders backers, so they will discover that “political revolutions that start in the Democratic Party, unfortunately, they die in the Democratic Party.'”

“It seems that decades of isolation and insularity have made the US far left forget a cardinal principle of politics — that it is fundamentally about embedding yourself in mass work, not maneuvering among small groups of like-minded activists” [Jacobin]. “Sanders’s campaign should be welcomed by the radical left because it provides us with a spectacular opportunity for organizing. Hundreds of thousands of people are coming out to meetings and rallies because he has tapped into a deep revulsion at the ruling class.”

“What Companies Should Learn About Social Media From American Politics” [MIT Sloan Management Review]. “The Internet provides a nearly limitless ability to connect with almost anyone online, and research has long shown that the types of “weak ties” we establish on these platforms can be very valuable for finding information. On the other hand, we are also likely to use this unparalleled networking ability to connect mostly with people who are most like ourselves, which compounds the effects of content filtering. … This tendency for social media to support our existing views and preferences is no accident. It’s what users want.”

The Trail

Editorial: Something smells in the Democratic Party” (!!) [Des Moines Register]. Yikes:

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states.

Second, too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.


The Sanders campaign is rechecking results on its own, going precinct by precinct, and is already finding inconsistencies, said Rania Batrice, a Sanders spokeswoman. The campaign seeks the math sheets or other paperwork that precinct chairs filled out and were supposed to return to the state party. They want to compare those documents to the results entered into a Microsoft app and sent to the party.

Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, dug in her heels and said no. She said the three campaigns had representatives in a room in the hours after the caucuses and went over the discrepancies.

McGuire knows what’s at stake. Her actions only confirm the suspicions, wild as they might be, of Sanders supporters.

Readers will remember that NC posts and commenters collected many dots about issues with caucus procedures and problems on caucus night itself, but it’s a little amazing to see all those dots connected in a Des Moines Register editorial. “Debacle” isn’t exactly Iowa nice, so it must have been really bad. And let us remember that party chair Dr. Andy McGuire has a “known allegiance” to Clinton, and is therefore conflicted; she is in no sense a neutral arbitrer or honest broker and should recuse herself from this issue. As I said yesterday: “if Iowa reminded you of Ohio in 2004, perhaps there’s a reason for that.”

“Clinton is likely to pick up the endorsement of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was the first female Speaker. Pelosi, who is revered by progressives, told The Hill on Tuesday she will endorse in the primary, and all indications suggest she will back the former first lady” [The Hill]. Pelosi? Who took impeaching Bush off the table? “Revered” by progressives? Wher e does The Hill find these writers?

“Donald Trump’s plane makes emergency landing in Nashville” [AP]. I assume the staff is checking under the seats…

“Why Don’t Ted Cruz’s Clothes Fit Him?” [Jezebel].

“But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent. That’s quite a potential hunting ground for Ted Cruz. But he’d better bag the limit, since after March 15 there are only four states, none of them all that large, with estimated white-Evangelical majorities of the primary vote: Indiana, West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota” [New York Magazine].

“Fully 71% of the delegates from states with 50% or more white evangelical electorates will have their delegations determined by proportional rules of some kind before March 8. Some of these contests will have winner-take-all triggers, but the field may still be too crowded to activate them. Conversely, 81% of the delegates determined after March 8 will come from states with less than 50% white evangelical electorates” [Center for Politics].

New Hampshire

“[Trump] leads the GOP field [in New Hampshire], with 36 percent support, according to the WHDH/UMass Lowell [daily tracking] poll, followed by Rubio, with 15 percent support; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), with 14 percent support; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, with 8 percent support; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, with 7 percent support” [The Hill].

UMass Lowell/7 News tracking poll: “Sanders leads the race with 58 percent support, followed by Clinton’s 36 percent support ahead of the Feb. 9 primary” [The Hill]. “But Clinton gained 4 points overnight, the biggest single gain in the daily poll since it began tracking, while Sanders dropped 3 points.”

“Before the state’s new voter ID law went into effect in 2013, voters could just give their name and address, get checked off the roll, and vote. Now voters will be asked to show photo identification, such as a driver’s license or military ID, before they can obtain a ballot” [WBUR]. Works against students and the poor (i.e., for Clinton).

Cold, maybe snow, expected [Accuweather]. Film at 11.

“Thanks to New Hampshire primary, 12-year-old gets to cover prez politics” [Boston Herald]. Awww!

South Carolina

“‘Hillary is not an agent of change – I mean, her campaign slogan should be, ‘It’s my turn,” said Mr. Harpootlian, a lawyer who was state party leader from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2011 to 2013. ‘It’s hard for me to listen to how Hillary says she would fight Wall Street when she took hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs – not 20 years ago, but a couple years ago. She’s talking the talk, but not walking the walk'” [New York Times, “Richard Harpootlian, Sharp-Tongued South Carolina Democrat, Endorses Bernie Sanders”]. “The endorsement is something of a reversal for Mr. Harpootlian, who said last year that he did not see himself supporting Mr. Sanders because the senator was a “socialist.” Since then, Mr. Harpootlian said, he has become comfortable with Mr. Sanders’s philosophy of democratic socialism ‘since it does not involve government control of the economy. He said he supported the senator’s plan for broad-based tax increases to finance a single-payer health care system because, according to Mr. Sanders, the tax increases would be offset by savings in health care costs.'” Harpootlian has quite a history, but and was a Biden ally.

“Sanders’ South Carolina Communications Director Aneesa McMillan said the [Harpootlian] endorsement will help the campaign build momentum in the state, where Sanders trails Clinton by an average of 29.5 points in the polls” [The State]. Time to play the expectations game…

“Sanders still trails Clinton in South Carolina polls, but his modest numbers are climbing at a steady clip. Chris Covert, Sanders’ South Carolina state director, said it was a testament to the campaign’s strategy of introducing Sanders to voters through a slower, more deliberate process. “We’re not rushing in to do a typical field program. We’re establishing relationships,” he said” [Post and Courier].

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, December 2015: “Factory orders sank a very sharp 2.9 percent in December after falling a sizable and downwardly revised 0.7 percent in November.” [Econoday]. “Headline swings for order data are the norm but details inside the report point straight at weakness. Core orders for capital goods fell a very steep 4.3 percent in the month reflecting wide declines for machinery especially mining & oil field machinery. Computers including communications equipment also show wide declines.” And: “So with manufacturing having gone negative, which is about 15% of the economy, stands to reason some of those people are probably customers of the service sector?” [Mosler Economics].

Jobless Claims, week of January 30, 2016: “Initial jobless claims fell back sharply in the January 23 week, down 16,000 to 278,000 and helping to make the prior week’s six-month high at 294,000 an outlier, at least hopefully [!!] an outlier” [Econoday]. “Continuing claims in this report did not fall back, hitting a 5-month high at 2.268 million and, together with the trend for initial claims, are pointing at less strength for the January employment report.”

Challenger Job-Cut Report, January 2016: “Wal-Mart’s announcement last month that it is closing 154 U.S. stores drove Challenger’s layoff count to an outsized 75,114 in January. This is the highest total since July last year” [Econoday]. “Retail, where holiday sales proved soft, leads the month’s list of layoff announcements at 22,246 followed by the hard-hit energy sector at 20,103.”

Gallup Good Jobs Rate, January 2016: “The good jobs (GGJ) rate was 44.7 percent in January. This is down from the rate measured in December (45.3 percent) but higher than in any January since Gallup began measuring it in 2010” [Econoday].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 31, 2017: “The consumer comfort index slipped 4 tenths in the January 31 week to a still respectable 44.2.” [Econoday].

Chain Store Sales, January 2016: “January was weak for retail sales based on chain stores which are reporting wide declines in the month, declines that for some are triggering cuts in quarterly forecasts” [Econoday]. “Heavy weather is widely cited as a negative in the month with pharmacies reporting unusual weakness in seasonal flu shots.” Flu shots a discretionary, luxury item?!

Productivity and Costs, Q4 2015: “non-farm productivity is expected to move back into the minus column for the fourth quarter, to a minus 1.8 percent annualized rate” [Econoday]. “And low productivity makes for high labor costs which are expected to rise at a steep 4.4 percent rate.”

Shipping: Rail contraction continues, although containers show year-on-year improvement on the week [Econintersect].

“Leading Indicators Bottom Line: No recession in the next six months but most suggesting moderate but flat economic growth” [Econintersect]. “The leading indicators are to a large extent monetary based. Econintersect’s primary worry in using monetary based methodologies to forecast the economy is the current extraordinary monetary policy which may (or may not) be affecting historical relationships. This will only be known at some point in the future. Econintersect does not use any portion of the leading indicators in its economic index. All leading indices in this post look ahead six months – and are all subject to backward revision.”‘

Honey for the Bears: “Appetite for action-sports cameras appears to have waned, with camera maker GoPro reporting a surprise fourth-quarter loss Wednesday” [Los Angeles Times]. I wonder what wave of froth GoPro was riding…

Honey for the Bears: “The word ‘Google’ is not mentioned in the book. So it’s definitely not about Google, just so everyone is clear!” [Business Insider]. “The most interesting parts of the book are the sections that deal with the company’s in-house drug dealers, ‘the drug lords,’ and the sections that describe the way Show’s ad sales execs simply make up, or lie about, numbers and statistics for their managers and clients.” Hmm. Another bezzle?

The Fed: “Traders in futures markets now put a low probability on the central bank raising rates at all this year” [Across the Curve (WSJ repost)].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25, Extreme Fear (previous close: 24) [CNN]. One week ago: 19 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“I Am Running for Mayor of Baltimore” [@Deray, Medium]. So, I wonder which private equity firm will do the charters deal?


“Native American depopulation, reforestation, and fire regimes in the Southwest United States, 1492–1900 CE” [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]. Fascinating paper; apparently, the Native American dieback didn’t begin immediately with the Conquest, but 100 years after, with the missions; and the resulting reforestation and increased both forest fires and carbon sequestration. Summarized: “The aftermath of 1492: Study shows how Native American depopulation impacted ecology” [Phys.org].

“Climate change and pets: More fleas, more heartworm” [AP].

“While projects in the U.K. and the U.S. are experimenting with biomass, Japan is giving favorable tariffs to power producers who burn leftover wood as a way to cut the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels” [Bloomberg]. In my experience with landfilles, “biomass” is what we think of as “wood” at all, unless we include construction materials.


“[Zambia’s Kariba dam’s] collapse, like Mosul’s, would constitute an epochal event in the history of energy development—the dam industry’s Chernobyl. The ensuing torrent would be four times bigger than the Zambezi’s biggest recorded flood, in 1958, and would release enough water to knock over another major dam three hundred miles downstream, in Mozambique” [The New Yorker]. “It’s the trap of Industrial Age technology: once mechanized systems supplant natural ones, they must be managed in perpetuity, or else they break down.”

“Bottling Himalayan water could be bad for the region’s environment” [The Economist, “High-altitude thirst”]. Shaking my head…


“Disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been appointed to the supervisory board of a bank owned by Ukraine’s second-richest businessman Viktor Pinchuk.” [France24].

Class Warfare

“Food apps, after a boom in start-ups over the past three years, have been failing or scaling back in India. They are no match for the famed tiffin-delivery business that has been in operation for decades” (great photos) [Bloomberg]. Cool. I imagine the next predator to have a go will be Amazon, with drones.

“Food Stamps Still Feed One in Seven Americans Despite Recovery” [Bloomberg]. “About 45.4 million Americans, roughly one-seventh of the population, received nutrition aid last October, the most recent month of data. Unemployment was 5 percent that month. The last time joblessness fell to that level, in April 2008, 28 million Americans used food stamps, and the program cost less than half of what the government paid out last year.” Yeah, remember 2008? Good times.

“The conditions that Mubarak deliberately engineered to elongate his rule — an excessively powerful military, a weak opposition without governing experience, corrupt security services, hollowed-out civil society, and no effective democratic institutions — have all remained after his fall, and have undermined successive governments as much as they eventually undermined his own” [Al Jazeera]. “[D]emocratic rule requires something a lot more important, if less obviously visible, than having a good-guy democrat at the top of the government. It requires the institutions of democracy: political parties capable of winning elections, politicians capable of governing, a bureaucracy capable of implementing that governance, and civil society groups able to provide support and stability to those institutions.”

“Puddle of Mudd lead singer accused of vandalizing his foreclosed home” [Los Angeles Times]. Wait, I thought the foreclosure crisis was over?

News of the Wired

“On the universal structure of human lexical semantics” [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]. A very, very bold claim!

Some damn thing in cladistics… [Wired]. “Phylogenetic data sets submitted to this journal should be analysed using parsimony.” And then.. Boom!

“The CEO of Hootsuite is now selling $25 cardboard standing desks” [Business Insider].

“The US is still slipping behind the rest of the world when it comes to download speeds, with an average of 10 Mbps — ranking it 55th worldwide. It does much better when it comes to coverage (subscribers get an LTE signal 81 percent of the time — seventh best in the world), but it’s still suffering from the first mover disadvantage” [The Verge]. We’re right between Argentina and Russia. Which seems very right somehow.

* * *

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 (Rex):


Alligator Bark Juniper Gray Oak, southwest New Mexico, altitude 6800 feet.

* * *

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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. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    “Pelosi *revered* by progressives” lolololol.
    For starters, just who are these “progressives” you speak of? The ones who cheered while BO enshrined everything that was hated about Bush in “cool black guy” legitimacy?
    I know Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders is a friend of mine. And you Ms. Pelosi are no Bernie Sanders

    1. 3.14e-9

      Last night when Clinton questioned Sanders’s definition of progressive, I was rolling my eyes … until it occurred to me that she has endorsements from the majority of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. So she’s technically right; Sanders not only is calling into question her progressive credentials, but he’s asking the deeper question of how “progressive” has been co-opted by a faction of centrists. I’m not sure where all the members of the CPC stand, but Clinton, Obama, and Biden all support fracking. That alone should disqualify them as progressives. And then of course there’s Keystone and the TPP, which has the support of my PINO senators Murray and Cantwell.

      As for Pelosi, she was never even a member of the CPC.

      1. Darthbobber

        Interestingly, if you go to Bernie Sanders on the Opencongress site, the Senator he “most often votes with” is Maria Cantwell.

          1. Darthbobber

            Thats exactly the part their method is unhelpful about. It just means he’s a match on more of the total number of votes than with any other Senator. Given what a minute portion of Senate votes are “controversial” in any way, it means damn little without further information.

            (% of voting with party is almost as useless, since you could get to probably 75% on naming buildings, proclaiming “national days” of this and that, and signing off on routine housekeeping bills.)

        1. perpetualWAR

          Cantwell gravely disappointed me with her TPP vote. This is the same Senator who held off her vote for Dodd-Frank because it did not regulate the derivative marketplace.

    2. two beers

      who are these “progressives” you speak of?

      Almost everyone in SF considers themselves progressives. Basically, anyone to the left of Richard Nixon is a progressive these days.

      The reality is that the Democrat* Party is where progressive politics goes to die.

      Maybe Bernie can change that, but there’s an awful lot of identity politics cloaking the party’s sordid oligarchic underbelly.

      *I’ll restore the “ic” when the party restores itself.

  2. Rex

    Sorry to mislead, the Alligator Juniper was the other photo (with corral fence). These are Gray Oak, don’t ask me species most are a hybrid swarm.

  3. rusti

    Not sure if this belongs under “Class Warfare” but I saw in my local paper that someone here is launching an Air Dine app with the idea of creating a “sharing economy” for restaurants, where the host dines with and makes friends with their guests. If this expands to the US, there’s going to be some interesting new case law regarding Castle doctrine.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      All this following someone on Twitter, or where someone dines…it really doesn’t encourage going off the beaten path, does it?

      “Wanting to be omni-conscious, we merely join the herd.”

  4. Jerry Denim

    “Donohue said that Clinton has publicly opposed the deal chiefly because Sen. Bernie Sanders opposes it”

    I would say file this one under “duh” or “no kidding”. Hillary has been extraordinarily Clinton-esque with her word parsing regarding the TPP. She is always careful to indicate that she is only opposed to the TPP “as it stands now” before making subtle suggestions that it could be redeemed with a few tweaks. She never says it’s bad, just it’s not a “good-enough” deal as it stands now. Maybe I missed it but I haven’t once heard her declare the TPP as a purely evil, unconstitutional supra-national power grab intended as a corporate multi-national coup d’état of America. Anyone who has watched the Clintons over the years will be able to recognize the behavior and the identifying ticks that accompany their most brazen lying. It’s obvious she simply won’t call a spade a spade in the case of the TPP because she is absolutely planning on supporting the TPP if she manages to capture the White House. Why would she want to undue all of her hard work pushing for the TPP as Secretary of State? To believe Hillary Clinton would actually do anything to keep the United States from ratifying the TPP is putting words in Climton’s mouth that she simply hasn’t said, although that is of course what she wants voters to believe. Heads of state and trade negotiators are supposed to be hip to her hyper-parsed, coded double-speak.

    1. Quentin

      Most tellingly she does not say exactly what part or details of the deal she is opposed to. Maybe they just need to change the color of the cover of the printed edition to get her approval?

    2. hunkerdown

      Ah, not quite the Austan Goolsbee “political considerations” moment I’ve been waiting for, but might be close enough.

  5. Carolinian

    I’ve met Dick Harpootlian and he is a long time wheel among SC Dems. As an example of his “sharp tongue” he once said Lindsey Graham was a little “light in the loafers” to fill Strom Thurmond’s shoes. Will just let that one lie there.

    And first campaign phone call last night–for Sanders.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sausage making is not pretty, but the ugly reality is, to succeed, you have to play with some traditional power brokers, even in a revolution.

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        An aside:

        Funny the way that old laws and sausages thing flatters law-making. Finding a way to use every edible part of an animal that’s been raised and killed for food is intelligent and ethical and making it delicious to boot is, well, beautiful. Remind me how that’s like law-making?

        1. Oregoncharles

          Traditionally, sausage (which we eat regularly) was made from the bits that fell on the floor, or that nobody would knowingly eat.

          There was a famous muckraker who wrote about it – trying to remember his name…

      2. JohnnyGL

        Argentina as an example popped into my head. Nestor Kirchner first rose to power under the wing of Eduardo Duhalde. Duhalde groomed him for awhile, possibly as a puppet, but then Kirchner got himself in the driver’s seat and, along with his wife, held power for over a decade. Argentina looks very different than it did before the Kirchners.

    2. Darthbobber

      My first real memory of the “homey colloquialism” deployed as a weapon in state politics came while I was still in high school. A Republican named Morris Kay wanted to be governor, which involved trying to beat the very adroit incumbent, Bob Docking. His big rollout ad was a nicely produced (for that sort of thing) of him striding manfully across a pasture, jacket thrown over his shoulder, head inclined upwards to convey that “vision thing.”

      Norb Dreiling, a cantankerous character but with a nicely honed attack instinct, killed the whole effect with the comment: “Well, he sure don’t know a thing about farming, or he wouldn’t be looking up at the sky while he was walking through a cow pasture.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I remember, from a long-ago article I cannot now cite to, “narrow between the eyes” as an attack point. Worked well, IIRC.

        UPDATE Another one from Arkansas that “Bill Clinton could shake hands with you while pissing down your leg.” I’m not denying this is a useful skill.

        1. Darthbobber

          Thaddeus Stevens:
          On Salmon Chase: “A good enough man, but his theology is unsound. He thinks there are four persons to the Trinity.”

          On Simon Cameron and his corruption: “Well, I don’t think he’d steal a red hot stove.”
          On Cameron’s demand for an apology: “Very well, then. I do not think you would not steal a red hot stove.”

  6. flora

    CNN Clinton video: from 0:50 to 1:05 – the ‘fear’ dogwhistle. That’s the crux of her answer.

  7. GlobalMisanthrope

    Food Stamps Still Feed One in Seven Americans Despite Recovery

    I’m pretty sure what they mean is that food stamps feed one out of every seven Americans receiving them.

  8. DJG

    Re: The clothes of Ted Cruz: The problem is body image and that he is pudgy. Then throw in his evangelicalism, which means that the God of Monotheism wants him to cover up his naughty bits, which amount to just about everything. (It’s Guy Hijab for the Elect.) I recall that Paul Ryan seems to suffer from the same lack of resolution of the mind-body problem.

    In short, though, he’s pudgy. He has saggy skin (I know that Yves thinks that Hillary Clinton has chronic health problems, but a look at Ted Cruz indicates to me that he should try to get that health insurance soon.)

    I will not be there for the naked weigh-in to prove his pudginess, though. There are some things that even I will not do for the honor of our great nation.

    1. cwaltz

      If God wants him to cover up his naughty bits then why isn’t someone duct taping his mouth shut? (tongue in cheek)

      1. hunkerdown

        Cheeky! It isn’t what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, saith the Holy Good Cop…

    2. PQS

      Guy Hijab for the Elect = priceless.

      OTOH, as a Jezebel commenter noted, His Wife Works at Goldman Sachs I feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills!

      Plus wasn’t he a million dollar a year white shoe lawyer? Don’t those places have Standards, even in Texas, maybe perhaps especially in Texas? (Besides the cowboy boots, which I know are a Texas Thing….)

    3. ekstase

      I could see the loose jacket if he wanted to be wild and free, but does he?

      And the trench coat? Oh, my.

      1. Optimader

        So he dresses like a guy that really doesnt give a shit about clothes as long as they are clean and comfortable. Good for him!

        Its everything else about him i detest

    4. Jerry Denim

      I missed your comment earlier and left my own remarks along the same lines, but it is the ‘saggy skin’ part of Cruz’s countenance that I find most offensive. Every time I see his face I can’t help but to be reminded of a scrotum. Once you see it you can’t un-see it. Otherwise I think Cruz’s fashion sense is pitch-perfect for the demographic he is courting.

  9. RP

    As a Californian progressive, let me tell you in no uncertain terms:

    The next progressive I meet that reveres Nancy Pelosi will be the first.

  10. allan

    Officials warned of water, Legionnaires’ link [AP]

    High-ranking officials in Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration were aware of a surge in Legionnaires’ disease potentially linked to Flint’s water long before the governor reported the increase to the public last month, internal emails show.

    When he disclosed the spike in Legionnaires’ cases on Jan. 13, Snyder said he had learned about it just a couple of days earlier. But emails obtained by the liberal group Progress Michigan through public-records requests and shared with The Associated Press show Snyder’s own office was aware of the outbreak since last March. At the time, others in the administration were scrambling to respond to suggestions that bacteria in the city’s new water source, the Flint River, could be the culprit.

    The outbreak was also well known within state agencies, according to emails obtained separately by the AP and other news organizations. Together, the emails offer more evidence that some state officials were dismissive of county health authorities who raised concerns about the safety of the community’s drinking water. …

    A Water / Corruption / Class Warfare trifecta.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “A Water / Corruption / Class Warfare trifecta.”

      Let’s not forget Race, for the Superfecta.*

      UPDATE * Actually, I should box that Superfecta because I’m not sure of the order they finish in.

      I wonder (question for the math nerds) if Parimutuel betting algorithms would be a useful way of conceptualizing risk allocation across different sets of identity property-value pairs.” “Race/Class/Gender, boxed.” Serious question!

  11. Chris in Paris

    Re Coates and reparations. I’d like to read something from him in the same literary vein on French colonialism and slave trading since he lives here now in this racism-free socialist paradise. Maid’s son junior year abroad.

  12. DJG

    If Hillary Clinton couldn’t handle Anderson Cooper asking about $675,000, now how would she have done with some Ukrainian chocolate gazillionaire offering scads of hrvynies? She came, she saw, she became confused.

  13. timbers

    This seems important:

    Goodbye Petrodollar: Russia Accepts Yuan, Is Now China’s Biggest Oil Partner

    “As both the head of the Eurasian Economic Union (and founding member of BRICS), as well as a major energy exporter, Russia is leading the charge against the dollar. And now other nations are following suit: Iran and India announced last month that they intend to settle all outstanding crude oil payments in rupees, as part of a joint strategy to dump the dollar and trade instead in national currencies.”

    “The dollar is slowly losing its privileged place in international transactions. What this means for the United States is anyone’s guess.”


  14. Kurt Sperry

    The Adolph Reed interview piece on Coates and reparations is powerful stuff. It really teases out the wheat from the identity politics chaff in a way that gets to the point. Thanks.

  15. optimader


    February 04, 2016

    Ruling keeps Lucas Museum in limbo
    “Star Wars” creator George Lucas chose to build the museum in Chicago in June 2014, after four years of haggling with San Francisco to build it there. The lobbying efforts of Mayor Rahm Emanuel also helped

    this needs to twist in the courts until BHO and RE are out…

    1. DJG

      And there’s the question of why it can’t go in another park or in another neighborhood. Look at the work that has gone on renovating the Garfield Park Conservatory. Put the Lucas Museum in that neighborhood, which could sure use a boost.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe, since it’s grounded in fantasy and suspension of disbelief, it could become a wing of the Obama EdificeLibrary

  16. Oregoncharles

    ” What the Democratic Party needs is a hostile takeover, followed by a thorough housecleaning, and a management shake-up.”

    What it “needs” is to become a right-wing minor party. And it’s well on the way.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t agree. The Party has assets, including universal ballot access and statutory mechanisms at all levels of goverment, and lots of data, as well as — even today — some lingering good will. All that should be seized.

  17. allan

    Europe’s forest management did not mitigate climate warming [Science] (suscript. req.)

    For most of the past 250 years, surprisingly it seems that Europe’s managed forests have been a net source of carbon, contributing to climate warming rather than mitigating it. Naudts et al. reconstructed the history of forest management in Europe in the context of a land-atmosphere model. The release of carbon otherwise stored in litter, dead wood, and soil carbon pools in managed forests was one key factor contributing to climate warming. Second, the conversion of broadleaved forests to coniferous forests has changed the albedo and evapotranspiration of those forests, also leading to warming. Thus, climate change mitigation policies in Europe and elsewhere may need to consider changes in forest management.

    So much for those feel-good carbon-offset scams.

    1. Steve H.

      The key words are ‘managed’ and ‘coniferous’ and that the trees grown were commercially valuable. 250 years ago global warming was a virtually unknown concept.

      Had those forests been planted with broadleaf trees the result would be different. I’m confused that they refer to loss of leaf litter etc which was already lost from deforestation. stupid paywall.

      Here’s an available synopsis:


  18. Oregoncharles

    ““The conditions that Mubarak deliberately engineered to elongate his rule — an excessively powerful military, a weak opposition without governing experience, corrupt security services, hollowed-out civil society, and no effective democratic institutions — have all remained after his fall, and have undermined successive governments as much as they eventually undermined his own” [Al Jazeera].”

    the reality that Egypt is a demographic nightmare that can’t conceivably feed itself or pay for food has nothing to do with it?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Do they have a sovereign currency? can’t they just make up some money to pay for things? the US sends them a billion or three every year, too — albeit just to purchase effing Made in America (and a lot of contracting nations too, not even sure if it has to be “more than 51% ‘domestic manufacture'” ) war toys and police crowd control sh!t…

  19. Synoia

    [Zambia’s Kariba dam’s] collapse

    From Wikipedia:

    Lake Kariba is over 223 kilometers (140 mi) long and up to 40 kilometers (20 mi) in width. It covers an area of 5,580 square kilometers (2,150 sq mi) and its storage capacity is an immense 185 cubic kilometers (44.4 cu mi). The mean depth of the lake is 29 meters (95 ft); the maximum depth is 97 meters (320 ft). It is the world’s largest man-made reservoir, four times as large as the Three Gorges Dam.[
    As side note: Civil Engineers believe Dams a Temporary structures, because the weight of the water deforms the earth.

    Urgent repairs to avert the collapse of the gigantic, power-generating Kariba Dam between Zimbabwe and Zambia will begin this year after the two neighbours signed $294 million in deals with international investors Friday.

    From the UK Daily Mail:

    The overhaul project of the world’s largest man-made dam will fix deformities and cracks in walls that were discovered in a series of assessments…

    I was there in 1973, when it was a mere 11 years old. It is Africa. I don’t believe the estimates for repair (estimate are always low) and it’s Africa. The Kariba dam is remote, served by a single road on the Zimbabwe side with limited capacity, with not many people living nearby.

    A major obstacle is graft and corruption. At least one half to one third of the money will be stolen in various ways. The US could help, but it is unlikely because there is no reason to bomb the local populace, they are animist or christian (or both at the same time).

    If you believe US infrastructure poorly maintained, go to Africa. It’s worse.

  20. hemeantwell

    “Food apps, after a boom in start-ups over the past three years, have been failing or scaling back in India. They are no match for the famed tiffin-delivery business that has been in operation for decades” (great photos) [Bloomberg]. Cool. I imagine the next predator to have a go will be Amazon, with drones.

    The potential for accidents with these things seems very high. I wonder if ‘Zon anticipates getting the kind of judicial pass the railroads got back in the late 19th c. Neighborhood burns down due to coals flying out of a locomotive? Too bad, because imposing damages would harm the economy. Drone gave you a concussion? Etc.

    1. craazyman

      well well. This could really be some new economic thinking. This could be big. I’ll see if I can understand the PDF. Any of you math dudes who post here, this is your assignment, your assignmet from the peanut gallery. Read this paper and then tell us what you think.

      I feel like it might be a Rhianna moment about to unfold here. This could be it. If they can do something real with the parallel world’s issue, something really real, that would be huge, but I don’t want to get too excited or I might set myself up for a fall, because . . . .

      ive been everywhere man
      lookin for you babe
      lookin for you babe

      where have you been
      cause I never see you out
      are you hiding from me, yeah
      in the crowd

      1. Steve H.

        So far, I’m getting:
        : decisions have consequences,
        : the rich get richer,
        : no long-term without short-term,
        : irrationality was defined as not conforming to the expectations of the flawed mathematics.

        Also, bankruptcy is possible. Empirical evidence verifies this last point.

      2. Steve H.

        Having followed up on your citation, it appears to me Rhianna’s work is involved with elliptic applications.

        But I tired now. I’ll review both works again tomorrow.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        I would really like to have your views on that paper. I encountered it on my own Twitter list, and got bogged down on the third or fourth page. Explain it so a putative human like myself can understand, please!

      4. hunkerdown

        Seems to me less about math than metaphysics: the economist’s map includes an Undo function not perfectly or equally available in the territory.

  21. Jerry Denim

    Ted Cruz’s suits:

    Every time I look at Ted Cruz’s big, flappy, baggy, saggy face I can’t help but to be reminded of a male scrotum. The suits are nothing compared to that. I reviewed his suit choices and they all looked exactly like something a late thirty-ish to early seventy-ish adult professional male living in any small town USA would wear to church, a business meeting or a Kiwanis meeting. My father was a conservative, Republican, church-going, CPA in a small North Carolina town and he dressed exactly like that. It wasn’t just him either, every guy that lives in his town who has graduated from college or who has an office type job meticulously observes the same dress code. My brother in-law who lives there didn’t graduate from college and he doesn’t have an office job, but he still dresses the exact same way when he is forced to get dressed up. If Cruz dressed like a GQ cover model he would no longer be accepted as a member of the demographic that forms the base of his support. All fashion is signifying. Either you intend to convey membership in a sub-culture you already belong to, or a sub-culture you aspire to join. Ted Cruz has figured out who his base is and he’s totally nailed their look with ugly, dated suits that are two sizes two big from the Men’s Warehouse or Joseph Bank.

    I’ve been forced to ‘Ted Cruz’ my style before, and it was awful. I had a job interview with a Houston Texas based company and I knew the people doing the hiring were in the middle-aged good-ol’ boy demographic. I purposefully bought an ugly, baggy, ill-fitted suit from Macy’s and wore a pair of cheap, no-frills shoes. I never wore the suit again, but I landed the job. My last interview was in New York and I knew the HR department skewed heavily young, gay, and smart, so I felt free to express my innermost dapper dandy. I dressed to the nine’s, wore a tightly tailored suit, and made sure my look reflected the latest fashion. I landed that job as well. Gotta know your audience and how to signify you’re one of them. Ted Cruz has the flyover everyman look and the bible-thumping Christian speak locked down. His unfashionable look works basically anywhere that isn’t San Fran, New York or LA, so I’d say that’s a pretty good fashion strategy for a Republican candidate.

  22. Darthbobber

    The pretence of taking Clinton’s “opposition” to TPP at all seriously is one of the more frustrating things. Of course, these trade agreements are one of those things that the elites of both parties have always collaborated to keep from having to deal with them as live campaign issues, but this is textbook Clintonian methodology at its most blatant.

    1) With Warren, Sanders, a number of others, its easy enough to see what actual opposition to something looks like. And on almost any issue, thats what actual opposition looks like. Trying to influence the outcome in the direction you claim to favor.

    2) Had Clinton, as the presumptive nominee, and with her considerable influence among the hacks, SERIOUSLY indicated before the fast-track vote that she wished to be meaningfully opposed, this whole thing would already be dead.

    3) Even after the milquetoast, pro forma statement of kinda sorta opposition, she still insists that she won’t do anything radical, like actually oppose.

    4) And the whole claque is deeply, DEEPLY wounded if anybody sees something other than righteous honesty and straightforwardness in any of this. (I think Lincoln used to refer to this as “puffing up one’s chest and taking on an air of wounded dignity”. He didn’t seem to have a great deal of respect for the technique.)

  23. Darthbobber

    If Clinton were opposed to the TPP, in any meaningful sense, her influence would have sufficed to prevent it ever being fast-tracked.

      1. JaaaaayCeeeee

        In the 2/4/16 debate, although said in a lawyerly way that was hard to parse, Hillary Clinton qualified her opposition to TPP saying she did so because:

        “We have failed to provide the basic safety net support that American workers need in order to be able to compete and win in the global economy.”

        A different reason than when she said she was opposed, which was then because TPP didn’t prevent currency manipulation and extended patent life for certain drugs too long.

        Isn’t Clinton saying that she could sign TPP as soon as displaced workers get some temporary aid and retraining?

  24. Darthbobber

    Still parsing the execrable (but in a weird way a godsend) Iglesias piece. Actually glad he had the temerity to put this into words at this juncture.

    A “very productive” Clinton administration reads like a Third Way shopping list.
    1) Passage of TTIP (which he regards as a good thing.)
    2) Trading a lowering of the corporate tax rate for a closing of unspecified loopholes. This has been done before on both corporate rates and the individual income tax. Inevitable medium-term result: The lower rate stays and the loopholes come back one at a time.
    3) Financing infrastructure spending with a discounted tax rate for companies choosing to repatriate some of the overseas stash.
    4)I have to use his own words for this one:
    “EITC for childless men: Both Barack Obama and Paul Ryan have proposed to expand the earned income tax credit to cover men who don’t live with children, but they’ve both proposed highly ideological, very contested ways to pay for it.”
    “Yet there is a great big federal budget out there, and a Democratic president determined to get this done could either find an offsetting cut somewhere in there or else perhaps get Republicans to agree to not “pay for” it by making policy concessions elsewhere, perhaps on the regulatory front.” Aargh.

    5) Revival of the Grand Bargain. (I’m getting apoplexy here.)

    6)H1B on steroids. “Business friendly” moves to avoid having to raise wages for in-demand skilled workers.

    And I have to love his conclusion:
    “Last but by no means least, if Clinton wins the nomination and the presidency, she will have done so without raising serious hopes of passing major left-wing legislation, which will likely give her more room to cut deals than Obama ever had.”

    “Nothing is certain in life, but the odds in favor of a reasonably productive Clinton administration are decently high — it just wouldn’t necessarily consist of an agenda progressive activists will be especially thrilled with.”

    Can’t say fairer than that. At least I’m now clear on what “productive” means in the mind of Iglesias. Its just fortunate that the nation and the world don’t have any serious, pressing problems that won’t continue to worsen while this scenario attempts to play out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m reading this, and my question: Is Yglesias a Sanders mole? I mean, the Grand Bargain again?

      Which reminds me. Has Clinton ever committed to increasing Social Security in any way?

      1. sd

        For widows (housewives) and caregivers. Otherwise, Preserve, Protect and Strengthen is her motto in regards to Social Secuirty.. Increase, not so much….

      2. Darthbobber

        At the least, this is very off-script from the face of Clinton that her operation is trying to show at this particular moment. Perhaps Y is in the position I remember from a line in a sci-fi novel: “Nobody here is naive, but sometimes people are underbriefed.”

        At this juncture, Clinton would be netter served by Yglesias “maintaining radio silence” than by this variant of help.

        I’m reminded of a semi-famous letter to Eduard Bernstein from a mentor, when his error in describing in theory what the SPD was about in practice led to him being hammered by everybody from Luxxemburg to Kautsky. “My dear Ede, what you seek is not formally decided. One does not say such things. One does them.”

  25. akaPaul LaFargue

    Re: Green Party politics and Jill Steins comment:
    “political revolutions that start in the Democratic Party, unfortunately, they die in the Democratic Party.’”

    My reply: If you want to play politics get out of the sand box and get into the ring.
    Note: I abhor both venues for my politics.

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