Links 2/9/16

Sorry, Sushi Burrito: Japanese Program Certifies Authentic Cuisine NPR (David L)

125-year mini ice age linked to the plague and fall of empires New Scientist (Chuck L)

Apple takes its eye off the ball: Why Apple fans are really coming to hate Apple software Los Angeles Times

What’s Holding Back the World Economy? Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate (David L)


China just hit a nuclear fusion milestone Business Insider (David L)

China’s ‘new normal’ is still astonishing Financial Post

Refugee Crisis

Merkel mission unaccomplished Politico

Global Bond Rally Near `Panic’ Level With Japan Yield Below Zero Bloomberg

Fears over new financial crisis come back to haunt global markets as trading turmoil hits Telegraph. Important. Markets in Europe better as of now, but notice the focus on Eurobanks. This is entirely warranted given the lack of any workable bailout/resolution regime, wobbly banks, and a bail-in mechanism bound to precipitate deposit runs.

European banks face major cash crunch CNBC. And see dire outlook for oil under Oil header further down.

Bear market for banks poses fresh Fed challenge Financial Times

Ministers of ‘core’ Europe plan EU’s future Politico

Italy’s Debt Decline Key to Changing Markets’ View, Padoan Says Bloomberg. Hard to see how this happens with the economy weak. Spending cuts to lower debt levels have this nasty way of producing even bigger falls in GDP.

The UK government moves to purge the public conversation of unwanted voices and A follow-up on the UK charity speech ban: impact on university research Crooked Timber (Chris G)


Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia Counterpunch (Chuck L)

Leonid Reshetnikov: ‘The US Is Hanging by a Thread’ Watching America (resilc). Worth reading if nothing else for its interpretation of historical US/Russian dealings.


Israel frets about “Iran as Neighbor” if Aleppo falls & al-Assad Regime Wins Juan Cole (resilc)

West Bank Settlers’ Listings on Airbnb Draw Palestinian Anger New York Times

Erdogan Threatened Europe with Refugees, now Demanding US abandon Syrian Kurds Juan Cole

The Disingenuous Saudi “Offer” to Fight in Syria American Conservative (resilc)


Bloomberg says he is eyeing 2016 run Financial Times. Just about no new content beyond his previous statements, save: “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters.” Since he would take far more votes from the Democratic nominee than any Republican, I translate this as, “Wall Street and Corporate America are not being treated with the respect they deserve by any of the candidates.” His initial trial balloon faded almost immediately from the news, and so far I see this getting prominent play only on the FT (which interviewed him) and CNBC. Readers?

Is Clinton really a victim of most negative campaign in Democratic history? McClatchy

US election: Hillary Clinton’s problem with young women BBC

FBI formally confirms its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server MSNBC (resilc)

Hillary Clinton Says the Best Way to Rein in Lobbyists Is to Shame Them Mother Jones

Hillary Clinton Alleged Obama Sold Access/Favors to Donors Before Now Deriding Campaign Finance Attacks International Business Times

Taxpayers Give Big Pensions to Ex-Presidents, Precisely So They Don’t Have to Sell Out Intercept (resilc). Ouch.

Ted Cruz’s Logo: Hilariously Appropriate Daily Kos

Pop Goes the Marco Bubble American Conservative (resilc)

Rubio Bots Showed Up To Greet ‘Marco Roboto’ in New Hampshire This Morning Gawker

Inside the Fast Food Workers’ Protest at the New Hampshire Republican Debate Vice (resilc)

Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. won the 1964 New Hampshire Primary as a write-in candidate. Slate


Drug Industry Launches Ad Campaign Aimed at Lawmakers Wall Street Journal (Kevin C)

Drug Pricing and Un-American Trading Bloomberg

My Generation’s Best Chance Is Socialism Nation (resilc)

Californians Fight Over Whether Coast Should Be Rugged or Refined New York Times

Pot fans, foes fume as Washington DC tests limits of high life Reuters (EM)

NC sheriff adding ‘In God We Trust’ motto to all patrol vehicles WNCN

20,000 Libertarians Pledge To Move to the ‘Free State’ of New Hampshire Motherboard


IEA Warns Oil Prices Could Fall Further as Oversupply Worsens Wall Street Journal. One, IEA is generally wrong but two, it is generally wrong on the bullish side…

Computerized Trading Creating Oil Price Volatility OilPrice

As Markets Gyrate Wildly, Senator Shelby’s Banking Committee Will Look at Market Structure Pam Martens and Russ Martens. Wow, this is silly. One, way too late after many complaints re HFT and dark pools and two, current market wobbles have very little to do with market structure. It’s the result of bad fundamentals and bad economic policy responses.

Beware the Friendly, Popular Types Ian Welsh (Kevin F)

Class Warfare

The Eviction Epidemic New Yorker (resilc). Sad as well as damning.

Uber drivers’ Super Bowl strike was a bust Pando

Meritocracy & the Middle Class American Conservative

Antidote du jour (Treehugger vis resilc, in light of big snow in the Midwest and East today):

white-tailed-rabbit links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. abynormal

    NC sheriff adding ‘In God We Trust’ motto to all patrol vehicles…Didn’t his son wear a hoodie : /

    1. fresno dan

      If you REALLY trust in God, why do you need to wear a gun?

      Psalm 18:2

      The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

      I could give about a zillion other verses. But just like patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, those who yammer the most about God ….

      Matthew 6:1-34
      “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. …

      1. Synoia

        For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward

        Perfect! No condemnation of TV evangelists, so they must in in the clear with God (and Mammon simultaneously).

      2. KFritz

        Better to be a Muslim. As I understand it, the Hadiths (attested, collected utterances of Mohammed) pretty much agree that he said, “Trust in God, but tie your camel.”

        And did anyone else not know or remember that “In God We Trust” is indeed the national motto as of 1956? It’s perfectly, legally acceptable to display that shibboleth, not a violation of church-state separation.

  2. ProNewerDeal

    from the McClatchy article “Hillary Clinton accuses Bernie Sanders of engaging in the most negative campaign in the history of Democratic presidential nomination contests”

    H Clinton, you have got to be f* kidding me.

    If H Clinton is going to be accusing Sanders of running a “most negative campaign”, Sanders might as well be brutal, while still focusing on policies, how H Clinton has been a massive Flip-Floppa on issues on for instance the bankruptcy law that Sen E. Warren described, & how H Clinton is owned by her donors. Note how in trashing MedicareForAll as a “fantasy”, H Clinton is being a More Effective Evil (c) Glen Ford that the Rs. Note that by trashing MedicareForAll, H Clinton acts to continue the killing of ~30K USians/yr, much more than any Terist Boogeyman Du Jour TM could ever dream of. In addition, get effective women “attack dog” “surrogates” on the CorpMedia 24/7 stressing & repeating such ideas.

    1. Steven D.

      Hillary’s problem is that she’s just blatantly a politician and people aren’t buying it this year. She tells her personal story. She “relates.” She “emotes.” Because that’s what they tell politicians to do. Bernie’s just all, “the billionaires billionaires, the billionaires, the billionaires,” and it resonates. This latest tack of Hillary’s is so blatantly strategery with no basis in fact. The flailing of a politician’s politician.

      1. diptherio

        We’ve seen polisci studies that show that campaign contributions are the most lucrative investment corporate executives can make, and that only elite opinion has any effect on policy making, but the Hillster would have us believe that contributions don’t effect votes. She’s telling everyone to ignore the obvious corruption, because it’s impolite to call politicians corrupt, regardless of the facts. Apparently, no one went over that unwritten rule with Bernie.

      2. Montanamaven

        Me! Me! Me!…Me! Me! That’s all I hear with that flat voice . So it’s only natural to then say, ” well if it’s all about you and your experience , let’s go over those accomplishments one by one.” Reverse order:
        What did you learn from the Libya debacle? Shouldn’t you have learned a lesson from regime change policy in Iraq.?
        What about that attempt at regime change again in Ukraine and again in Syria.
        What about the children? In all these countries? Was it worth over $500,000 dead as your surrogate allbright suggested?
        What about the children of single mothers pushed off of welfare or fathers put in jail for minor crimes during your stint as First Lady?
        The list of “accomplishments ” goes on.
        Suzuki said it is best to have the mind of the beginner. Open to possibilities. The expert’s mind is closed.
        Experience with no wisdom or ability to adjust is highly overrated.

    2. Patricia

      I suspect that Clinton believes the heavily critical comboxes directed towards her under post after post, are structured by Sanders’ headquarters.

      Might be revealing her opinion of general citizenry—that they don’t have a thought in their heads that wasn’t put there by someone deeper/smarter/greater than themselves. Pffft

    3. jgordon

      I’ve not been paying much attention to Hillary, but I assumed that she still had pretty good odds of being the Democratic nominee. This past week though I changed my mind. She and her campaign reek of desperation, and the vindictive nastiness now issuing forth from her camp like untreated sewage is gut-turning. “Women who don’t support Hillary will burn in Hell”? “Women who don’t support Hillary are boy-crazy morons”? “Bernie is running the most vile campaign in history! And he hates women.” Jeezus H. Christ, how full of arrogance and stupidity do you have to be to think that putting out these statements can be beneficial to a campaign at all? I’m now willing to concede that Bernie will probably be the Democratic nominee–and that it will be stunning (to the establishment plankton) how easy it is for him to get the nomination.

      On a similar topic, the Robot Rubio (catchy, huh?) debacle has gotten me thinking that the main problem with all of the candidates, except for Trump and Bernie, is that they are all mindless automatons. Rubio’s programming is a bit less artful and rigorous than that of the others, but that is only a matter of degree, not substance.

      Like them or not Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are both human, and that makes them compelling candidates (what a weird statement!). Everyone else running for president bears a greater resemblance to a poorly-programmed Turing Test software package, and people are being turned off by it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Part of the strategy is to poison the well in future contests. It may be too late for South Carolina and Nevada as the campaign ha been operating, but Sanders still has to face an uphill climb for name recognition and voter access to primaries. Plenty of his young supporters won’t be registered in time.

        The large rallies and even the Liberty appearance were meant to raise the profile to blunt a future negative campaign if Sanders could break through in Iowa and New Hampshire.

        A good portion of the voters in these states are voting for Hillary reflexively as the recognized leader of Team Blue. They will vote under any circumstance, but without a clear reason to vote FOR Sanders, the will be bulk of Clinton’s strength. Hillary wants to make sure they can’t like Sanders enough to vote FOR Sanders but stay committed to her as Sanders can’t possibly field the gotv and registration effort necessary to have a repeat of New Hampshire.

        1. James Levy

          Clinton’s rigidity and inability to learn from the last time out are staggering. She didn’t have the guts to slander the young “black” guy but she will the old Jew. It seems to be her last line of defense. Slander Sanders and keep it close so the superdelegates can either pull her ass out of the fire or, along with her delegates, draft Biden at the last minute and put him on the ticket by a whisker. Hillary would then get the VP spot, I’m guessing. I think those are the only two scenarios left open to the Team Blue/Team Clinton nomenklatura.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The Clintons have been lucky with their opponents, yet losing to an empty suit. Even here in Virginia, Terry Mac faced a guy who would fit in well with those trespassers in Oregon. If the GOP had nominated the then Lt. Governor, he might have beat Terry Mac 4 to 1 just by being on the ballot.

            Avoiding the GOP attempts to destroy them over the years bred over confidence. Obama was an empty suit with a cult. Clinton should have crushed him, but since Obama kept Clinton Inc alive, he gave Clinton Inc. the excuse to explain 2008 away as a lightning strike not a popular revolt against Clinton. Upon close inspection, Obama has always been an empty suit. It’s really not a stretch to assume his supporters were reflections of Obama.

  3. Ddf

    Italy’s debts, fears of new financial crisis: US spare capacity is falling (yes growth and income generation don’t look great but that’s largely due to non monetary policy factors) so the Fed is normalizing policy i.e. moving from a regime where its de facto operational target was risk asset prices back to the pre-crisis regime where the Fed funds rate is the operational target. So risk assets are being repriced to reflect the loss of monetary policy support. It started with high yield bonds, equities and oil and is now moving to high grade bonds. Now European banks but how about European periphery sovereign bonds? Without policy support where would Italian sovereign bonds price? ECB and BoJ are trying to provide support but it looks like like they have lost their magic/credibility And by the way the emerging market corporate debt crisis has yet to happen. If it does it will be the most telegraphed crisis in market history. Which is perhaps why it won’t happen: some of the recent EM currency weakness may well have reflected external deleveraging and hedging

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Except see my related post on banking just up. Read the John Authers story that I link to at the FT. The Fed is failing at normalizing policy, in fact they have managed to matters worse for banks (not that they intended to).

      1. jsn

        And a great post on banking yours’ is!

        You think if we all pitched in and had it printed in gold leaf on parchment and hand delivered to Stiglitz that he might actually read it? With his advocacy track record I can’t question his motives (see Project Syndicate piece in links), but might actually be persuasive if it had some notional conception of what banks really do!

        Maybe we could Keen’s appeal to him from last month too!

    2. perpetualWAR

      The ads are all telling me it’s a great time to buy real estate. In fact, watching the ads on the Super Bowl, it appears I can even get approved with a Quicken Loans app on my phone! Yes, it’s a great time to buy!

      1. Synoia

        The only Quicken part of that process is the Queckening of the transfer of your money out of your bank account.

  4. Unorthodoxmarxist

    I don’t like Bloomberg running any more than you might, but is it possible to finally cease with the “taking votes” rhetoric as if only the Democratic and Republican candidates deserve those votes? Voters do have a will when they enter a voting booth, even if we may not agree with it. “Taking votes” is usually explicit rhetoric to drown out any alternative candidates and it’s time to retire it.

    1. Uahsenaa

      The whole thing reads to me as elite finger-wagging, since it invariably focuses on high level matters like “the nature of the discourse,” which, in this context, simply means be nice to your banksters.

      There was no serious discussion of the MAJOR hurdle to any such campaign, which is ballot access. Before Perot even announced he would run, he established grassroots organizations in each state in order to do the basic grunt work of getting petition signatures. Who, exactly, is foaming at the mouth to go stand out in the cold to get petition signatures for THE plutocrat in places like Iowa or Montana or Colorada or Nevada? He might be able to glomp on something like the Libertarian party ticket, but even they don’t have access in every state.

      Bloomberg would do well to remember that outside New York, no one knows or cares who he is.

      1. Dino Reno

        Exactly that. His campaign would be launched only if it’s Trump vs. Bernie, both against Wall Street and the banks. He would not be in it to win it, only to shore up the image of the financial industry that he owes everything to. He would probably spend a couple hundred million on ads touting the greatness of corporate America. The ads might even mention Bloomberg himself, but he’s beside the point.
        This would be similar to the recently announced drug company marketing campaign directed at Congress telling them they would be smart to keep their hands off drug pricing. The message is always the same:
        Drop the vote and back away slowly.

      2. Pespi

        Who? Some people who answered a craigslist ad and are making 10 dollars an hour, like the people you see at the mall asking you to sign a petition for legalized gambling.

      3. Carolinian

        Perhaps it’s just a ploy to scare away Sanders voters–i.e. vote for Hill or I’ll throw the election to Trump (or whoever).

      4. neo-realist

        I could see Bloomberg taking votes away from a republican (very similar economic philosophies), however, on the democratic side, I can see him taking votes from a Hillary, but not a Sanders since their philosophies on government spending, financial sector and business regulation are so far apart. Why would a Sanders supporter jump to a Bloomberg given their differences????

        1. Carolinian

          Well I didn’t say it was a convincing ploy. Personally I can’t see why anyone would vote for Bloomberg. Really who knows what he’s up to.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Bloomberg is a narcissist. A few years ago, Nader had a great argument on why a billionaire should run as an independent. I think Trump has filled much of Nader’s expectations, and Sanders is currently a viable alternative to the decayed Team Blue who could support a third party candidate or not vote. I could see how Bloomberg might see himself fulfilling Nader’s argument, but Bloomberg sees himself as a class warrior not a Bloomberg I, temporary king, who might take out the oligarchs which is part of the Trump appeal and the argument pushed by Nader.

      5. Unorthodoxmarxist

        As someone who has organized independent petition drives in NY State to get presidential candidates on the ballot, I can attest to this. New York isn’t even the worst state in terms of ballot access for candidates, but you need 15000 valid signatures here (which really means ~30000 total signatures) and have only 6 weeks to get them. Typically this is done (for independent candidates) in July-August, and no one who has signed for a ballot-status party candidate (Dem, Repub, Green, etc.) can sign for an independent (ballot-status petitioning takes place in June-early July). It’s a long slog even if you have the cash to fund it.

        Theresa Amato, Ralph Nader’s former campaign manager, wrote a great book on this a few years ago outlining how difficult it is to run for office as an independent, entitled “Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny.”

        Bloomberg has likely missed some big early state deadlines in terms of getting on the ballot. It’s a question of whether he can ignore those and still get on the ballot in major states. California’s deadline seems to be in mid-late March. If he doesn’t declare by then, he won’t.

      6. jrs

        Bloomberg Soda Ban running as a Libertarian, I can’t imagine the Libertarian party base (all 10 of them – yea I know 3rd parties have little real registration) consenting to it.

    2. Steven D.

      I suspect Bloomberg would run under the No Labels label. The No Labels candidate won’t win a single electoral vote. He will run on a “centrist,” “common sense,” implicitly corporate message. He also will make guns a big part of the message. This will draw enough votes from Bernie to keep him out, which is the purpose of the Bloomberg candidacy, in addition to vanity.

      We don’t have proportional representation. The system is rigged for the Ds and Rs. Votes for third parties by design draw votes away from a D or an R and usually end up helping elect the person the voter dislikes the most. That’s the reality in America. If you want third party voting to be any more than performance art wankery, you have to change the voting system.

    3. Jason

      Candidates for high office from outside the fake two-party system would be welcome. But such candidates would be a lot more welcome if they weren’t New York billionaires with authoritarian tendencies and deep ties to the FIRE sector.

    4. GlobalMisanthrope

      What about when a candidate runs to do precisely that? That’s what defines a wedge candidacy. You’re right. Voters can think for themselves. That’s why I say call a spade a spade.

    5. Benedict@Large

      When I first heard of Bloomberg running, it sounded to me like just so much elite interference in our election. But Yves is right; Bloomberg is going nowhere without some sort of media (beyond his own, which is a very narrow market), and with the two-party circus now going on, he’s not likely to get any.

    6. Michael

      The establishment preferred candidates are Clinton and Bush. The establishment is perturbed because both look very shaky at present. Bush actually looks finished. Bloomberg is an establishment guy, so he is some kind of plan “C”, though it’s unclear to me exactly what role he might play in this race. I suspect he won’t deploy unless the Clinton campaign can’t hold off Sanders.

      Establishment candidates: Clinton, Bush, Rubio, Kasich, Christie, (Bloomberg, Romney, Biden).
      Not: Sanders, Trump, Cruz.

      Unbelievably (to me), right now it appears (based on poll data at fivethirtyeight), there is no one on the GOP side who can beat Trump! Cruz looks strong in Texas, but that’s it for him. Admittedly, it’s still early.

      I’m thrilled that Sanders is doing so well, and will vote for him, but I still see it as an uphill battle for him.

      I wonder if we are going to see unusual goings-on at the conventions this year.

  5. Pookah Harvey

    The Mother Jones article points out lobbyists have bundled more money for Clinton than anyone else:

    ” Out of all the presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, Clinton has raised the most money—$717,000—from lobbyist bundlers. The next closest is Marco Rubio, who has raised $676,000 with the help of lobbyists”

    More amazing is this from Roll Call:

    “Separate from the bundled donations, Clinton received almost $1 million from about 230 lobbyists in the second half of 2015 — more than all the major party candidates for president combined. Sanders, who narrowly lost to Clinton in Iowa, took home just $2,000 in K Street cash, according to reports filed by early Monday.”

    1. john

      Oh, and why a vaccine? Aren’t there like 10 more-or-less effective AIDS cures?

      The media has never been very enlightening on this topic. I’m genuinely interested.

      1. Synoia

        There are no, zero, AIDS cures.

        A cure would not be profitable, the infected would not be paying rent-t-live for the remainder of their lives.

        The marketing question is how to increase the number of people infected with AIDS.

      2. Vatch

        Synoia is right, there is no cure for AIDS. There are various treatments, and if started early enough, when a person is infected with HIV, but doesn’t yet show AIDS symptoms, some can be quite effective at limiting the progression of the disease. If the treatment is stopped, the progression of the disease resumes.

          1. Vatch

            Which spice? Melange from Frank Herbert’s Dune, Glitterstim from the Star Wars Expanded Universe (Spice mines of Kessel), Boosterspice from Larry Niven’s Known Space stories, or something else?

              1. john

                Right on, all.

                I do recall the whole ‘undetectable levels’ issue, but aside from whatever they’ve got for the flu, it seems like AIDS is a real stand-alone in the medical field.


    2. HopeLB

      And don’t forget the Intercept article from yesterday which shows her campaign staff is made up of lobbyists who fought against her newly formulated “progressive” goals.

    3. fresno dan

      I just wish some Mother Jones columnists, i.e., Kevin Drum, would read other Mother Jones columnists.

      What else? Clinton says she gave several speeches in 2007 warning about the dangers of derivatives and subprime loans, and introduced proposals for stronger financial oversight. Apparently that’s true. I’m not aware if she took a stand on the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, but I don’t think this was responsible for the financial crisis and wouldn’t hold it against her either way. (And it was supported by nearly the entire Democratic Party at the time.) The CFMA did make the financial crisis worse, but Bernie Sanders himself supported it. Clinton voted for Sarbanes-Oxley, but everyone else did too.

      if only everybody read NC!

      1. reslez

        Sanders did not support the CFMA in the way you state… an extremely misleading thing to say. But let’s set that aside and ask which candidate currently supports breaking up the banks and bringing back Glass-Steagal? Not Hillary.

        When Sanders voted for the House version of the CFMA in October 2000, the bill was not yet a total debacle for Wall Street accountability advocates. The legislative text Sanders supported was clearly designed to curtail regulatory oversight. The GOP-authored bill was crafted as a response to a proposal from ex-Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Brooksley Born to ramp up oversight of derivatives. But the version Sanders initially voted for was more benign than the final, Gramm-authored version, and it didn’t draw any of the protests that the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall did. In October 2000, the bill passed the House by a vote of 377 to 4 (51 members didn’t vote), and then sat on the shelf for weeks.

        But in December, Gramm — after coordinating with top Clinton administration officials — added much harder-edged deregulatory language to the bill, then attached the entire package to a must-pass 11,000-page bill funding the entire federal government. After Gramm’s workshopping, the legislation included new language saying the federal government “shall not exercise regulatory authority with respect to, a covered swap agreement offered, entered into, or provided by a bank.” That ended all government oversight of derivatives purchased or traded by banks. He also created the so-called “Enron Loophole,” which barred federal oversight of energy trading on electronic platforms.

        This was an era in which voting against funding the federal government was considered a major governance faux pas. The bill sailed through both chambers of Congress, with few lawmakers even aware of the major new deregulatory changes.

        Sanders has since hammered the CFMA, its architects and specific provisions in Senate hearings and on the Senate floor. He helped push through legislation to close the Enron loophole in 2008. He voted against the bank bailouts of 2008, and has cried foul on heavy Wall Street speculation in the derivatives market for oil, saying it needlessly drives up gas prices. He has voted to break up the largest banks, and supports reinstating the Depression-era firewall between conventional lending and risky securities trading.


        1. fresno dan

          I didn’t state it – I’m quoting Kevin Drum – the point of my post is how misleading his column is…

  6. BruceNY

    On Bloomberg – the only viable strategy I can think of is perhaps he is thinking he could win NY and a few other states (like Florida and PA) and thus prevent both the R and the D candidate from reaching 270 electoral votes.

    Now depending on how the House delegations shape up, there are a lot of purple delegations he might be able to get a vote from, and he could probably count on at least some of the Dem delegations if the nominee was Sanders, so he might be able to win that way. He would only need 18 states to vote for him if it broke 16/16 for R/D.

    I don’t see any path to an outright 270 electoral votes though.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t think he can prevail even in NY. If you ran a ham sandwich as a Democrat in this state, it would have good odds of winning. The reason he won as a Republican in NYC was that the Dems ran an unbelievably awful candidate, and then he did a decent job of managing the budget when revenues fell in the dot-com bust. But like a lot of NYC mayors, he lost points with the public in how he handled his last term, and him clearly running as a candidate for Wall Street is going to play much less well even in the city than when he was mayor with Wall Street earnings down and the markets in upheaval.

      1. BruceNY

        Perhaps not. But if Sanders is the candidate, I am pretty sure he, running as an I, could beat him in NY. Just my opinion though.

        In any case, the only viable strategy I see for him is to win a few states and prevent an outright winner. And if he is really going to spend a billion – spend that into say 5 key states – it will definitely have an outsized impact.

        Of course if his internal polling shows he can’t win NY, than I highly doubt he runs (if he even intends to).

        1. Steven D.

          The purpose isn’t to win states. It’s to tip enough states to the Republicans to keep Bernie out and give Bloomberg a national stage for his preening. The No Labels candidate ain’t winning no states.

        2. andyb

          Spending a billion in this election year won’t cut it. The sheeple are genuinely pissed; especially at the elites, the bankers, the “pols”. That’s why Trump and Sanders.

      2. polecat

        He seemed to have done a decent (indecent) job of helping to derail the Occupy Movement in NYC as well, I might add!

      3. Katniss Everdeen

        So let me get this straight.

        Primary voters reject hillary in favor of Sanders, and bush in favor of Trump, and bloomberg thinks HE has a “constituency?”

        I mean……What????

        1. MojaveWolf

          Hey, you read/saw The Hunger Games. Is it any surprise that somewhere, some ambitious billionaire saw “President Snow” & started humming “I Can Be Like That” …

      4. Benedict@Large

        We need to admit the obvious. If Bernie wins the Democratic nomination, our elites will use BOTH parties (and whatever else they can grab) to ensure he never makes it to the White House.

  7. john

    CNN headline, “We’re this close to a Zika Vaccine”

    Incredible research, but if we found the disease in monkeys in 1947, and in an ‘outbreak’ in micronesia in 2007, how come we just found it in tears, saliva, and other fluids until last week.

    Or was last week’s headline the lie?

    No mention of deformed babies in this article.

    1. andyb

      Apparently in Brazil, out of many 1000s of flu cases, only a few could be attributable to Zika, and fewer still to deformed brains. I smell another swine flu or Ebola scare to reap more profits for Big Pharma. Just watch; a vaccine will miraculously appear that will be mandated for all elderly and school children.

  8. Dikaios Logos

    re: Bloomberg for Pres.

    LIttle known details about his company’s actions will likely be fatal to his Presidential ambitions. A top Bloomberg reporter, Michael Forsythe, documented the enormous wealth of the Chinese leadership, including Xi Jinping, as well as some of the details around China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin. This was top-notch reporting, shared on NC, that required knowledge of finance, as well as the ability to read in three languages: English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. The reporting was good enough that there was push back, including death threats to Forsythe and his family. Bloomberg the company, ~90% owned by the ex-Mayor of NYC and having a famously weird culture shaped by the ex-Mayor, fired Forsythe and had its lawyers pursue Forsythe’s wife to get her to delete Tweets telling the world that her family was targeted with death threats. It seems that they lacked the integrity to back Pulitzer-quality reporters and instead cared about pleasing the Chinese Communist Party.

    This is a bit of hobby-horse for me, but I think if you absorb this tweetstorm from Forsythe’s wife, Leta Hong Fincher, you’ll see that the company is just plain sick. And the ex-Mayor has not sounded impressive when asked by the press about this incident. Here’s the tweetstorm:

  9. Torsten

    Re: Taxpayers Give Big Pensions

    I hadn’t previously seen this quote from BC:

    We know how much Bill Clinton made only because he shared a bank account with his wife when she was a senator and then secretary of state, making his income a required disclosure. The two have earned at least $139 million from speeches, including $35 million from the financial sector.

    And despite the fact that his wife is running for president, Bill Clinton has not stopped. “I gotta pay our bills,” he explained.

    I feel your pain, Bill.

    1. sleepy

      Just pedestrian curiosity here, but what have the Clintons done with their money? Yeah, I’m assuming it’s all locked up in investments, but have they actually bought anything, like a boat, a ranch, some beachfront place, a hideaway in the Rockies, etc.? I know they have their house in Westchester, and a place in Georgetown, but that’s it afaik.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They’ve had air force one. They don’t want a knock off status symbol. Plenty of people with mega yachts will be forgotten with in six months the of their death. The Presidency is eternal. Crazy parents will make 3 year Olds memorize Bill Clinton’s name for the local news as long as the Presidency exists.

        Money doesn’t let the rich just order world wide assassinations. I bet Bill and Hill can’t wait to fire up the old drone monitor now that Obama has made mass murder a tool of state craft.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘Just pedestrian curiosity here, but what have the Clintons done with their money?’

        Sorry, you are not authorized to view this information. Please review this document:

        Since Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in 2001, they have earned more than $230 million. But in federal filings the Clintons claim they are worth somewhere between $11 million and $53 million. After layering years of disclosures on top of annual tax returns, Forbes estimates their combined net worth at $45 million. Where did all of the money go? No one seems to know, and the Clintons aren’t offering any answers.

        From 2001 to 2014 the power couple spent $95 million on taxes. Hillary’s 2008 presidential run cost her $13 million. Their two homes cost a combined $5 million, and the Clintons have given away $22 million to charity. All of this is according to FEC filings, property records and years of tax returns. Add it up and you get $135 million. If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million?

        $50 million to buy silence seems like a lot …

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In 1992, you asked the same question about trust and character, and it was ‘negative attack.’

        2. JerseyJeffersonian

          Maybe the Caymans, or one of those British Isles money havens? Considering this particular Power Couple and their proclivities toward big-time grifting, they couldn’t possibly emerge from all of those years in “Government Service”, and not know these sorts of handy things, ya think?

      3. Cry Shop

        One of the nice things about being known as available for purchase as the Clintons is how much stuff gets thrown their way for free, stuff that doesn’t show up on their income or assets listing because of how it’s structured.

        Bill got several yacht rides to Jeffery Epstines private island/under age girls bordello, all gratis; and when he was found out, most of the US press ignored it. That’s what having that much money and power can get you, all for free and no one bats an eye.

        Chelsea Clinton has made several private jet flights out to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc; Funny thing is, If I or a normal person did that, we’d have to report these gifts as income, but because the Clintons can structure these perks, paid for by others, as part of their “supervisory” work for their non-profit, they also can leave this off the books. Finally, I suspect most property isn’t in their individual names, but again structured through trusts and off-shore tax shelters impenetrable to the US citizen’s oversight.

        It’s a shame we have to pay Clinton, both Bushes, Reagan, Ford, etc so much to be honest in retirement when they clearly are not honoring the commitment.

  10. abynormal

    What A SetUp: Hospital management needs to recommit itself to our patients and the nurses. Patient safety is too often compromised at our hospital by cutbacks,” said Virginia Currie, an RN in the Cardiac Specialty Unit. “The public deserves a community hospital that treats its nurses fairly and provides the highest care to its patients.”

    Nurses say their concerns are reflected in the recent penalties against Marin General, for the second year in a row, by the federal government for having high rates of potentially avoidable infections and complications such as blood clots, bedsores and falls.
    HUH…”Through this strategic partnership, which is based on an enterprise managed services model, Philips will provide MGH with a comprehensive range of advanced medical technologies including imaging systems, patient monitoring, telehealth and clinical informatics solutions as well as clinical education, consulting and design services.

    MGH is an award-winning independent hospital, renowned for being in the top five percent of hospitals in the United States, noted with a Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital award for excellence in clinical care for two years running.

    most times i dread my curiosity searches

    1. Steve H.

      My wife was brought in as a nurse manager to fix a nursing home that was in regulatory jeopardy. She calculated that the previous manager received about $100 per bedsore by not ordering the pillows needed to address the problem. Janet ordered them, the nursing home got out of jeopardy, and then they let her go.

      Janet received no bonus.

      1. abynormal

        please send your wife my H/T…not that it means much but at least more than Corporate permanent recording of transgressions and cost to ‘investors’ good nature$

      2. James Levy

        Here’s a question for you all: haven’t these types of idiotic incentives always been out there, yet only in the last 30 years or so have they become the rule of behavior rather than the exception?

        I have a feeling that, although people were no better in years past, they simply didn’t get it into their heads to look for every opportunity to cheat others and cut corners. I think our problems today are cultural and attitudinal. The old notion that certain things were simply NOT DONE has eroded. I believe that society had a more active collective superego 50 years ago. Some combination of power, affluence, advertising, and sloppy thinking has turned us over to the collective Id.

        1. GlobalMisanthrope

          It trickled down over time.

          The Vietnam War, the wave of political assassinations, Chappaquiddick, COINTELPRO, Watergate, the S&L crisis, Iran-CONTRA, NAFTA, Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the 2nd Iraq War, extraordinary rendition, black sites, Guantánamo, the 2008 financial crisis, the response to the 2008 financial crisis, torture…

          I say it’s a testimony to our fundamental decency that we’ve managed to mostly resist the pull of that sort of lawlessness for so long. Fingers crossed.

        2. ekstase

          Just watched a 1968 video of the Nixon campaign over at digby’s blog. The way he spoke, the values he at the very least, felt compelled to project, (“I’m not in it for the money,” for one) have all but evaporated from much of what passes for public discourse. I agree that advertising, and what it props up, are a big problem. People are not all about competition, shallowness and greed. Maybe enough decent people are getting sick of this.

    1. DJG

      Wowsers, Bunk: Did you check out the comment section? I dipped a virtual toe in. It is civil war at Kos, although the Clinton forces aren’t doing well.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Good article! Indeed, the comment section is brisk and the more solid punches are not in Hillary’s favor..

  11. allan

    UK media groups lose appeal against secret trial of Erol Incedal

    Warning: this article omits information that the Guardian and other news organisations are currently prohibited from publishing.

    The court of appeal has refused to lift reporting restrictions on the secret trial of a law student who was cleared of plotting a terrorist attack in London.

    However, the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, invited Westminster’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) to investigate the role that MI5 and MI6 played in imposing secrecy on the case.

    Nice little Star Chamber you’ve got there, Mr. Cameron.

  12. Steve H.

    Setting up RSS feed & a coupla questions I’m not finding answers on my own:

    Getting lag time and then many posts at once. Is this my reader, or do you have to update by hand?

    Part of why I’m doing this is the frequent diversions to the moderation queue, which later show up posted in a thread by post time. This means I can miss a comment that’s up-thread from the most recent post. Given links are modern citations, this also means that links with citations are more likely to get missed. Am I wrong that the RSS feed should cure this?

    Is there a preferred reader?

    Is there anything that I should know that I don’t know that I should know?

    I’m doing this ’cause I care, so, Thank you.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for asking, I use Feedly, and from what I can tell, our posts come up reasonably punctually, but I will monitor this a bit. I do see on Feedly that at a lot of sites posts do come up in batches, so I don’t know if this is a quirk or if they resynched their feed (which I do very rarely but will result in a big dump of recent articles).

      1. clinical wasteman

        Yves, please forgive a really stupid procedural question (unlike Steve H.’s wholly reasonable one), but is there an e-mail address, non-published site section or similar where readers can suggest links/stories without accidentally clogging the comments with irrelevance/repetition? (I realize that this would only spare other readers, while still straining your & Lambert’s extraordinary patience, so I certainly don’t plan on overusing that function if it’s there.)
        Not that you need any ‘help’ though. Enormous thanks for the whole thing = colossal understatement.

        1. ewmayer

          Based on my own experience Yves encourages such reader submissions (especially non-widely-covered-in-the-MSM articles with local color), grassroots information-gathering being an integral part of the lifeblood of the site. I don’t recall if I found her e-mail address via online search or simply trying a sample mail with several of ‘the obvious suspect’ addresses, but between the latter 2 strategies you should achieve success. Note the main site editors (Yves, Lambert, David Dayen) apparently are cc’ed on such mails, so you don’t need to consider who might be doing the next day’s links when submitting ideas.

          1. clinical wasteman

            Thanks for the patient answer. (And for sparing Yves/Lambert/David the trouble of answering the same thing for no doubt the 10,000th time.) I suspected it was a slow-witted question, then confirmed that by finding the direct contact link under the Water Cooler (so to speak). But regardless of that, your thoughtfulness is much appreciated, and exemplifies why I’d like to contribute.

  13. Dino Reno

    “…current market wobbles have very little to do with market structure. It’s the result of bad fundamentals and bad economic policy responses.”

    The media is loath to report that earnings are crashing.
    It’s all China’ fault or Euro banks or the price of oil or HFT or dark pools. The fundamentals are always reported as strong. Corporate America is always kicking the world’s ass.

    The fact is there is not any E in the PE. We are now into our fourth straight quarter of negative earnings grow. It is now high treason to point this out.

    1. abynormal

      @Dino: MONOMETALLIST, n. A financial doctrinaire in 1896; in 1904 a purveyor of “crow” to the masses. (rinse/repeat) Devil Dics Day :o))

    2. craazyboy

      Also, a greatly oversized FANG has been keeping up the major market indices. But that’s starting to change as earnings misses are finally starting to register. In the small cap end we had/have a massive biotech bubble. Then there’s frackers…..oh yeah…there was massive subprime auto lending….

  14. Brooklin Bridge

    Apple takes its eye off the ball…

    Others wonder if Apple isn’t running into the same problem that bedeviled its arch-rival Microsoft for years: It’s building new functions on top of an outdated core, rather than scrapping the core and rebuilding from scratch. This process turned Microsoft Windows into a barnacled monstrosity, and the same thing could be happening with OS X and iOS.

    This may be true from one point of view, but definitely not from another. Microsoft spent a ton of money back in the 90’s to make its operating system backwards compatible with older versions and this was a huge boon to small companies that couldn’t afford Unix seats and that needed specialized software unavailable from Apple. To them, backwards compatibility was no barnacle, it was a huge success. Along with the abundance of software and the ability to customize it with relatively low budget in-house software developers (meaning few, not poorly paid). Small businesses could care less about thunking 16 bit legacy code to 32 bit address space (which Microsoft made almost totally transparent to the developer, never mind the user), and were simply happy that their old software continued to work version after version.

    Unreliable? One could stand quite a bit of unreliability for the difference in price between a Unix machine and a Windows one. Apple was often out of the question because they simply did not have the extensive software base that small to medium business needed. Then also, Microsoft kept improving every thing it put out. From 1993 to 1997, it’s C++ compiler and development software went from being a joke to being an excellent IDE (integrated development environment with Microsft Visual C++ – later to become Microsft Visual Studio, a world class IDE). They did much the same thing with their operating system finally coming out with highly reliable (low downtime) versions of Windows NT (thanks to Dave Cutler who Gates brought on from Digital where he, Cutler, led development of one of the most reliable micro computer OSs ever written, Dec’s VAX/VMS. V(W) M(N) S(T), just like H(I) A(B) L(M).

    Granted, once 2000 came around, Microsoft’s business model shifted, gradually at first, to one of almost pure rent extraction and it’s fair to say that by 2008 that started to be seriously reflected in the crapification of the software not to mention some of the insidious (in some cases horrifying) applications and practices it indulged in as the world and temperament of big data -the fog- swallowed any last vestiges of its former developer-centric ethos.

    1. Brian

      My professional clients still run Windows 7 today for speicialized apps (video production) They have been unable to upgrade to any later MS program.

    2. Dave

      I’m no techie.

      As a simple customer of Apple products, which I would never give up for Windows anything, I am sick of having to give a credit card number to Apple to get their free updates through the Apple Store.

    3. YankeeFrank

      The thing about software, especially larger codebases like the OS and sophisticated monolithic apps, backwards compatible or not, is that the longer it sits around being tweaked and prodded by revolving teams of developers, the more unstable it becomes. Imagine if buildings were constantly being partially gutted, with new wings and floors being added and removed all the time. Now imagine these changes were based not on the initial underlying architectural design and materials but based upon the opaque preferences/whims of individual architects and contractors. That’s software development on large codebases in the vast majority of cases. At some point you just have to tear it down and start over again and none of the latest languages, libraries, tools, or methodologies have changed that basic reality.

      The only solution costs a lot of money (because the pace of development must be slowed) and requires intense, long term discipline, not to mention stable long-term teams that maintain and propagate “institutional” knowledge to newer team members.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        I believe Windows NT and subsequently Windows XP reached levels approaching Unix reliability; considerably greater than Mac/Apple at the time, yet they were almost 100% backwards compatible. It cost a fortune, was a continual huge risk, the OS did not run as fast as it might have, but they were successful to such a degree that it puts up a strong counter argument to your thesis.

        Ultimately, your argument will prevail for most anything, all will pass, but in the meantime, Microsoft gave a lot of value for cost. Up through XP, it actually managed to stream line it’s OS; to make it simpler, more elegant and more efficient, all while supporting just about every version back to early Windows. It was able to do this because of it’s monopoly, but in many ways it was a benevolent monopoly for a period of time. It is unlikely that what brought things down was the complexity of the software getting too “heavy” to support itself as much as it was that Microsoft’s philosophy changed. The obsession with rent extraction (some feel a reaction to having been caught with it’s pants down, not fully exploiting the internet) meant the company started rotting from the inside out. Even today, you can’t entirely count Microsoft out. It still makes “good software”, but for many of the wrong reasons and (I suspect there is cause and effect here) much less reliably. It’s a mixed bag now and going down hill fast.

        1. roadrider

          I believe Windows NT and subsequently Windows XP reached levels approaching Unix reliability;

          LOL. Unless, that is, you define “approach” as being able to see the target with a powerful telescope.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Agreed. Windows never compared to Unix, Linux or OS X reliability even remotely. I recall constant repair utilities, rebooting every day or two at a minimum due to OS instability or outright crashing. NT/XP were MORE stable than other versions, but that’s not saying much. I’ve been running OS X 10.8.5 for weeks now without a reboot, and it never crashes.

            And perhaps more on point to my original comment, I wasn’t referring to backwards compatibility issues but to software complexity issues more generally. Its pretty clear that Apple has been ignoring the unsexy work of maintaining existing apps over building dubious new apps and added functionality to old apps. Developers need more discipline and incentives to do the “boring” work if codebases aren’t going to routinely obsolesce. And while I agree that all systems have a life cycle, are we really saying that the life of a complex software system is at most roughly 10 years?

            1. flora

              Both Apple and MS began chasing the mobil market – tablets and smartphones, and there by hangs a tale.

              1. Steve Gunderson

                The PC is dead.

                Very soon, only businesses will be buying them, then like the typewriter, it will be a niche product remembered fondly.

                  1. Darthbobber

                    Very true.
                    It would be suicidal to attempt to do professional quality image editing, web development, graphic design layout, or even complex word processing utilizing an ipad or an android tablet.

                    They’re great for a lot of things, but they are not workstations.

            2. Brooklin Bridge

              I have worked on “systems” (not OSs) that were iteratively simplified, made faster and scaled, made fail safe, etc., without starting from scratch. Agreed that this gets harder and harder over long time periods and as systems are distributed, but you seem to be talking about software complexity (code bloat?) which I think can indeed be better addressed by iteration than by starting over.

              1. Brooklin Bridge

                The bigger problems, it seems to me, come over time in situations where code is distributed and source becomes unavailable and testing and integration become political more than technical issues. Banking software, for instance. But if you have the code and the ability to test without stepping on everyone’s toes, the fact that the code has become bloated, spagetti, complex, over time is not the major issue except possibly in smaller, business type, applications where it’s not worth the bother.

                1. Brooklin Bridge

                  (I often have a lot of problems when I try and edit a comment within the time frame which is why I have these nested comments)

                  An exception to this really is backwards compatibility (technically very hard with a complex system such as an OS) but with enough resources and skill (and Microsoft has had both) it can be done very effectively.

          2. Brooklin Bridge

            Fair enough. I think your right. i would still argue, however, that a system even as convoluted as Windows can be iteratively improved without starting over from scratch each time.

    1. allan

      Who among us has not been paid $225,000 to spout mundane platitudes for 50 minutes?
      And who are we to suggest that the the market, in its infinite wisdom, mis-priced this?

        1. cwaltz

          What? Next thing you know, you’ll be telling me that Jamie Dimon, the guy who was paid millions in compensation for banking while being clueless in understanding it was a bad idea to not loan money to people without figuring out if they could pay it back, isn’t worth his income?

          Or you’ll tell me that the children of Sam Walton aren’t productive enough to deserve more than 1/3 of the population?

          Mr Market say it ain’t so.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Hillary’s being compensated like a movie star by her fans.

          Often, I see a movie and people tell me that the star got paid $20 million, or more, for speaking a few mundane lines, and I could not comprehend.

          “He got paid again for one more flop, mouthing off some inane stuff?”

          “Well, he was not going to turn it down. Would you?”

          Who go see those movies, I always wonder.

          1. craazyboy

            Stupid people go and see stupid movies. Smart people go and see Hillary! for future favors and payback.

          2. polecat

            I always note that when a good actor/actress stars in an blatantly crappy flick, it’s just a meal-ticket part! Re Hillary, it’s always a meal ticket

    2. Carolinian

      From Politico

      The problem is, if Clinton releases the transcripts, Sanders and other progressive candidates could take even seemingly innocuous comments and make them sound as though Clinton is in the tank for Wall Street. And if she doesn’t, it makes her look like she has something very damaging to hide.

      So sad….guess she shouldn’t have been so greedy and gone on the lecture circuit. It adds credence to the notion that she wasn’t planning to run and Bill talked her into it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I believe the Team Blue caucus and major Team Blue donors saw her as a savior after the 2010 and 2014 debacles and 2012 election which required Obama to change his messaging and Republican attacks on voting to hold court.

        Even with the long term careers of our electeds, there aren’t that many pre-Clinton wheeler and dealers left. It’s not surprising that they would look to the power brokers from when they arrived for help. It’s easier to blame Obama for being disinterested than to acknowledge they let Obama sleepwalking from foreign policy blunder to the back nine all along.

        Besides Webb, I remember visits to Iowa and New Hampshire from people who might run for President in an open environment. It’s just outside of Warren and Sanders, perhaps Brown, no one has a profile and record to challenge the Hillary juggernaut. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was real doubt about Hillary running. I still suspect the Democrats know they have serious electoral problems which none of the Hillary endorsers jockeying for an important role can solve as a Presidential candidate.

      2. optimader

        It adds credence to the notion that she wasn’t planning to run and Bill talked her into
        I think they are both just tone deaf on so many subjects.
        HRC the victim is taken aback and agitated that anyone would have the temerity to call her on it. “everyone does it!”
        HRC’s attacks have gone ugly , but we haven’t seen anything yet.

        Hillary Clinton Alleged Barack Obama Sold Access To Big Donors; Now Criticizes Campaign Finance Attacks

        ohhh, now that she has his endorsement! lol…

    3. fresno dan

      I assume she is paid for the “golden hour” after the speech, where the audience gets to chat with Hillary and tell here what they want her to do….unencumbered with pesky transcripts…

    4. Llewelyn Moss

      At a debate in New Hampshire last week, Clinton said she would “look into” the matter.

      Ok, it’s been a week. I think that’s plenty of time for a Pres Candidate to “look into” something as earth shattering as this. What say ye?

  15. DakotabornKansan

    Beware the Friendly, Popular Types [Ian Welsh]

    Student, having an asthma attack, wheezed and gagged in a desperate struggle to breathe.

    Status asthmaticus is severe asthma that does not respond well to immediate care and is a life-threatening medical emergency.

    Teacher emailed the school nurse and waited for a reply.

    Texas 8th-grader suspended for rescuing classmate during asthma attack.


    As someone who has witnessed status asthmaticus deaths, I am at a loss for words.

    The wrong person was suspended.

    The 8th-grader should be rewarded for his heroic action.

    1. katiebird

      Emailing a nurse for an emergency!! And then suspend a student for not being able to sit, doing nothing.

      This story makes me sick.

    2. Bubba_Gump

      Shocking. This may point to a culture of administration fear in that school, as a reason the teacher resisted taking action. The punishment of the boy certainly indicates poor judgement and inappropriate consequences from administrators, so if they manage the teachers the same way no doubt everyone is running scared.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I don’t know if I would be braver under the presumed though likely administration.

        And for that reason, I admire those people who would go above and beyond their call of duty.

        Even more admirably are those who risk their own lives to save others. We all learn from them, the best education we can get.

  16. TedWa

    Stiglitz : “Financial institutions chose to keep their money with the Fed instead of lending to the real economy, earning nearly $30 billion – completely risk-free – during the last five years.”

    $6 billion a year. The only way to describe this is welfare and the only way to describe the banks is welfare queens, zombie welfare queens at that. And Blankfein wants to cut SS.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Stiglitz: What is holding back the world economy?

      A better title: What is holding back world working people?

      It’s not ‘let’s save the economy.’

      It’s ‘let’s save ourselves, the working men, women and, sadly, children (and seniors).”

      The economy has no agency and is not a personhood.

      1. fresno dan

        I agree 100%
        Pretty much everybody has been brainwashed to believe in “GDP”
        GDP pretty much except for a trivial exceptions has gone up year after year after year. Yet the majority do not share in this “GDP growth” – and than they say, we need more GDP growth, which is undefined as to how much there has to be for everyone to get a share, and I suspect unobtainable anyway.
        To hell with growth. People poop their pants if you say let’s worry about cutting the pie instead of “growing” the pie. PIES DON”T GROW – this is what our best the brightest come up with – no wonder we’re f*cked. You can MAKE a bigger pie (i.e., bigger and bigger GDP) – in FACT, we have been doing that ….forever. Going back to the pie analogy, if you made a bigger pie, and than gave everybody at the table the same size or smaller pieces, and than gave your self a bigger piece, NOBODY would believe that that was somehow a solution to not enough pie. They would probably throw you on the table and carve you up.

        1. James Levy

          I also am unsure how to measure (price) services in all this. When the concept of GNP was formulated most economic activity was blatantly productive: growing crops, building railroads, churning out steel, pumping oil. Growth in that sort of output I can understand. But using the rise in the value of traded services is an entirely different thing, and I don’t think the two are easily added together to make a GDP. Right now, the fall in the price of oil and other key commodities like steel and copper shows me unequivocally that the global economy is contracting. But the economists will come out with these measurements that show that X amount of money was borrowed and invested in the stocks of Twitter and Facebook, institutions that make nothing, and that is a sign of a growing GDP! I am unconvinced.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            My understanding of GDP is that for most things that are now not easy to measure in units, and for all the things (services) that are easy to measure in units but doing so would show virtually no growth over time, are measured in dollars. (So that $20 haircut must be four times “better” than a $5 haircut. And that $1500 monthly insurance premium is of course buying three times the health care that your $500 monthly premium used to.)

            So growth is really just growth in measurable dollars, unrelated to any tangible (physical or material) concept of growth.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Also, if they churn out billions of robots to compete with human workers, that adds a lot to the tangible GDP.

            “GDP growth, ueber alles.”

            1. polecat

              perhaps we need a new moniker for the acronym………how about Grossest Despicable Parasites………..kinda rolls off the tongue don’tcha think…

    2. Benedict@Large

      Why does Stiglitz have a problem with this? It’s no difference than if these corporations were buying federal bonds.

      What’s happening here is that government bonds are oversubscribed. Unlike the naysayers would have you believe, this is the market’s way of telling the federal government to borrow MORE. The market is demanding more deficit spending. Stiglitz’s problem goes away entirely as soon as Congress gets off its ass and start priming the economy with new federal dollars. And it does so without blaming corporations for simply looking out for their best interests.

      We have a lot of problems with corporations, but sorry, Joe, this ain’t one of them.

  17. fresno dan

    Please excuse the double post – I posted this yesterday, but quite late in the day (and I’m on the west coast)
    But I got my blood up after reading Krugman’s post about what Sanders can’t be elected, and Baker does an excellent job of exposing how….hmmm, how can I say this – completely lacking in critical thought Krugman’s analysis is.

    We should be clear on the question being asked. If the issue is keeping the Republicans out of the White House, then the question is not whether Bernie Sanders could beat the Republican nominee. The question is how likely is it that Sanders could defeat Clinton for the nomination, and then lose a general election that Clinton would have won?

    In this respect, it is important to recognize how much the nomination process is stacked towards Clinton. It is not just a question of her having the vigorous support of a former Democratic president and largely controlling the Democratic National Committee. She is also likely to have the overwhelming support of the super-delegates (Democratic members of Congress, state office holders, and other prominent Democrats).

    The super-delegates are just under 15 percent of the total number of delegates. If Clinton wins this group by a margin of 80 percent to 20 percent (she has more than 95 percent of the super-delegates who have already made a commitment), then Sanders would have to capture more than 55 percent of the elected delegates to get the nomination.

    This means that Sanders could not get the nomination just by scraping by in the primaries; he would need a decisive victory. The question then is, if Clinton were to lose decisively in the primaries to a candidate who has all the weaknesses touted by the experts to whom Krugman referred us, how likely is it that she would have been able to win the general election if Sanders had not gotten in her way?

    The point is important, because if the argument is that Sanders can’t win an election that Clinton would not have won either, then we aren’t arguing over control of the White House, we are arguing over who gets to make the concession speech on November 8th. There is the issue that the margin would be smaller with a Clinton candidacy and this would help Democrats lower down on the ticket. This is an important issue worth considering….

    One important point is that when repubs lost to Obama, the repubs were clear that as the losing party they were going to oppose everything Obama did. I think Sanders, if he does lose, will fight more vehemently than Clinton would. Like professional wrestling, there is a lot of fighting between the parties for show. The problem is not so much what they disagree about (I prefer not cutting social security – but again, what democrats professes, and what Hillary professes, are two different things), its all the things they agree on (e.g. TPP, bank bail outs, foreign wars, social security “reform”)

    So it just isn’t winning. If you lose, who will lead the loyal opposition (to do what????)

  18. fresno dan

    Was the teacher fired for being stupid? Seriously, this teacher didn’t know that email are not necessarily responded to immediately????? I would assume the nurse should have been called (on a telephone), unless it is some special email system with an alarm, that would also automatically cc 911 for an ambulance. And if the phone is unanswered, something is done – QUICKLY!

    Most people who are popular and too agreeable do not have strong red lines. Their morality is set by authority figures and peer groups. Whatever seems okay with the people around them is okay with them.

    I wrote about this in the past in my post on the Decline and Fall of Post-War Liberalism. One key part of breaking an essentially egalitarian economic order was finding and destroying the people who wouldn’t go along to get along, the people who would fight.

    This was done by creating a set of bullshit laws: Drug laws. Consensual activity which harmed no one (especially in the case of marijuana) was made illegal.

    The sort of people who wouldn’t obey rules, laws or orders that didn’t make sense to them disobeyed those laws and went to prison in droves, where they were destroyed politically, economically, and personally. The vast majority had committed no violence.

    The gut was ripped out of America’s working and lower class troublemakers.

    Since then, our method of child-raising has become high surveillance. “Helicopter parenting” means children rarely spend time doing anything not approved of by parents or other authority figures. Police patrol schools. Children have cell phones, allowing their parents to check on them any time they want. Houses increasingly have internal surveillance systems to keep track of children.

    People who are under constant supervision with little time to be alone or to be with friends without authority supervision tend to become “go along to get along” people, unused to thinking for themselves, and used to jumping through hoops for the approval of authority. Their entire lives have been about doing so, after all.

    I note the police in schools. I remind people of the young girl slung out of a chair by a policeman for verbal disagreement. More and more, a do as your told society. But nobody tells people who destroy the entire economy jack sh*t…

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    NC sheriff adds ‘in God we trust.

    Technically, that covers 3 major world religions, and a few minor ones.

    But it does leave some out chillingly…if you are visiting there in one of its hottest days.

    1. Eclair

      Would cover even more religions … and population groups … if they amended the slogan to “In God/Goddess We Trust.” Or, maybe, use the plural, to bring all the Hindus under the big umbrella: “In gods/goddesses we trust.”

  20. fresno dan

    Meritocracy & the Middle Class American Conservative

    What white middle class voters are waking up to is that their natural leaders are being co-opted by the meritocratic system as well [as minorities’ leaders]. Hillary Clinton may have lived in Arkansas for decades, but she’s a creature of elite education and Goldman Sachs. People talk about the Clinton Machine. But it’s not at all like the machines of ward bosses and patronage jobs as sidewalk inspectors. The Clinton Machine is an interlocking network of very rich donors, high-placed journalists, and political elites. It operates at Davos, not in gritty ethnic urban neighborhoods.

    There is a good deal I don’t agree with in the article, but it get the fundamental contradiction correct:
    I saw a “Bernie 2016″ bumper sticker on a minivan outside of church yesterday. I’m pretty sure the driver and his wife are quite religiously conservative. There was a time — like, the day before yesterday — when I would not have been able to understand religious conservatives for Bernie Sanders. Nor could I have understood Democrats for Donald Trump. I’m starting to get it now.

    From historian Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation:

    Indeed, it is crucially important that in the aggregate, people continue to conform to consumerism. No matter what, individuals must be left free to be selfish, because the manufactured goods life is needed to hold Western hyperpluralism together. In a world pullulating with so many incompatible truth claims, values, priorities, and aspirations, what else could do the trick?

    What he’s saying is that individualism and consumerism are the only things that keep us from flying apart as a society. Is that going to be enough? What happens when the rising tide fails to float all (or most) boats? That’s what we’re starting to see now.

    If the whole point of the country is just rising GDP, but your in the majority whose per capita GDP is going down, why exactly should you support such a system? Wages have been stagnant for the majority for going on 50 years, while except for 2 or so years, GDP has risen. Whose getting all that rising GDP?
    If your in a materialist system, and your not getting any material, it really doesn’t make any sense to support it.

    And one other thing: Meritorious for who? The person who is best for Goldman Sachs is arguably worst for America…

    1. sid_finster

      Hell, I probably qualify as a religious conservative, at least on many issues. From that perspective, there is lots to disagree with in Bernie, but lots to agree with. I also recognize that if elected, most Republican candidates have absolutely zero intention to address “social issues”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you apply the same thinking (more GDP growth) that got you into a bad place (inequality), asking for more of the same thinking (more GDP growth) is just insanity.

      But that is how we are indoctrinated.

      Gemstones are good and many are fascinated by it. Not sure if it was religion. More likely it was pre-historic shamans that made people want gemstones and gold…or maybe just indoctrinated women trying to please their male masters.

  21. Carolinian

    The stately flakeboard homes of the new Versailles

    Back across the Potomac River from McLean lies the similarly well-heeled commuter dormitory of Potomac, Maryland. It is politically more evenly divided than McLean, with roughly equal parts Democrats and Republicans, but the social dynamic remains much the same.

    Both suburbs are the residential headquarters of emergent class of Beltway operatives who do well by doing good – for their clients and shareholders if not the country.

    Further west of Washington, almost in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lies Loudoun County. Loudoun is per capita the richest county in the country – as well as one of the most Republican – and is something of a world headquarters of the McMansion as lifestyle statement. It is in this outer-suburban, more rural county, which used to be Virginia’s hunt country, that executives of Beltway Bandit firms, totally dependent on the federal government for their livelihoods, can pretend to lead the life of a free Jeffersonian squirearchy……

    The structures resemble the architecture of the Loire Valley, Elizabethan England, or Renaissance Tuscany as imagined by Walt Disney, or perhaps Liberace. As with McMansions everywhere, the new owners could have gotten a much sounder design for the same price or less, but they prefer the turrets, porte-cochères and ill-proportioned Palladian windows that they bought, and accent the whole monstrous ensemble with the obligatory Range Rover in the driveway.


  22. fresno dan

    Mark Thoma:
    “But is it true that our economic system redistributes substantial sums away from the middle class to “handout seekers”? Research by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in response to Mitt Romney’s claim during his presidential campaign that many recipients of government help are undeserving found that 91 cents of every dollar spent on entitlement programs goes to “ the elderly (people 65 and over), the seriously disabled, and members of working households.”

    And 7 of the remaining 9 cents goes to “medical care, unemployment insurance benefits (which individuals must have a significant work history to receive), Social Security survivor benefits for the children and spouses of deceased workers, and Social Security benefits for retirees between ages 62 and 64.”

    Looking at this another way, the CBPP also finds that middle class households are 60 percent of the US population, and they receive 58 percent of the benefits from entitlement programs. There is some redistribution, but it is from the top 20 percent of households to the bottom 20 percent.

    Too many people have been misled into believing that their problems are the result of a non-existent “moocher class.” Those at the top, those who have benefitted the most from our economic system, have pushed this myth in a successful attempt to reduce their tax burden. They are the job creators they tell us, and cutting their taxes instead of using the revenue to fund “abused” social insurance programs will somehow cause income to trickle down and help the working class.

    We tried that, and it didn’t work – a new approach is needed. The working class is not asking for income to trickle down to them, and they have been misled about the amount that trickles away from them. All they want is a fair share of what they’ve earned and the opportunity to improve their lives if they work hard and play by the rules. They want the security of knowing they aren’t a pink slip away from living on the streets, that they can find another job easily if they are laid off and, if not, help will be there for them.”

  23. Vatch

    We periodically read about the drought in California and its effects. Most of us see fewer articles about the devastating effects of drought in other parts of the world, where people are dying from the effects. Some examples:



    North Korea:

    Papua New Guinea:


  24. rich

    Hillary Donors Helping Chris Matthews’ Wife Into Congress

    MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has been accused by Bernie Sanders supporters of being blatantly one-sided in favor of Hillary and against Bernie Sanders, to the point that thousands of progressives have signed a petition calling for MSNBC to suspend the host of “Hardball” “because of his constant shilling for Hillary Clinton.” The magazine Esquire sharply criticized Matthews’ recent interview with Clinton as “ahistorical and out of bounds” for his attacks on Sanders. Now, research by The Daily Caller reveals that Hillary’s biggest donors are backing Matthews’ wife — Kathleen Matthews — in her congressional race in Maryland, even though many of them don’t even live in the same state, much less the same district, that Matthews is seeking to represent.

    Kathleen Matthews, who worked closely with the Clinton Foundation for four years during her time at Marriott (which she just recently left to enter the congressional race), has blown away her primary opponents in terms of fundraising. By the end of 2015, Matthews had raised $1,569,092, FEC records show. Only one of her eight primary opponents — state Sen. Jamie Raskin — had raised more than $1 million by year’s end.

    Many of Matthews’ biggest donors have close ties to either the Clinton foundation or the Clintons themselves.

    Read more:

    nothing like owning the messenger?

  25. Anon

    So yesterday (either in Links or Water Cooler), this link was posted:

    Intelligent People Know That the Empire is on the Downhill and there was one part that stuck out at me (that I don’t think got much play in the comments):

    This is serious stuff, but they’re building it anyway. Why? What you’re talking about is not only the military-industrial-congressional complex, but this “deep state” that has this power to speak to the president and say, “We’ve got to do this! The Russians are bad, the Russians are bad.” I don’t pretend to understand the whole thing, but from what I’ve seen and read, Obama is susceptible to real fears about all this.

    “Real fears”? Meaning what?

    You may recall that [at the RT conference] I cited a secondhand report from a very reliable source who told me that his source was at a small gathering where President Obama was talking to well-heeled supporters. There was a lot of criticism to the effect, “You’re supposed to be a progressive. We put you in there and gave you a lot of money, so why don’t you act like a progressive?” (emphasis mine) Finally, Obama stands up and he says, “Look, it’s all very well for you to criticize me, but don’t you remember what happened to Dr. King?”

    If I had anything but the utmost respect for my primary source, I would not be repeating this. But I can very easily believe it happened. When people say, “If he felt that way he shouldn’t have tried to be president,” well, that’s easy to say. You get pushed into these positions, even if he’s just afraid for his children or for Michelle.

    So I am willing to include that as a factor for why Obama often seems wishy-washy. Others say, “Ray, for God’s sake he’s 100 percent in with them. [Laughs] Can’t you get out of the mold from eight years ago, when you had some hope for the guy?”

    The curious thing about Obama is you can’t really put a finger on this guy as to whether he’s on the bus or off the bus.

    Be a martyr or live. If this 2nd hand account is true, it puts into perspective why he didn’t push so hard. At this point, can anyone?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is just garbage to excuse falling for Obama and then not standing up to the guy.

      Oh no, the guy who admired Ronnie Raygun is a secret progressive. He’s just afraid of the shadow government which rules everything, but we still need to pretend elections matter.

      Why don’t these defenders of Obama just quit politics or throw their lot in? The answer is they really don’t believe this garbage. They make it up to excuse their behavior. They’ll throw up their hands and scream JFK, ignoring the simple reality which Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK during a very well publicized campaign event.

      1. James Levy

        I don’t know how this all works, but something about the media, about Hollywood, about the way we interact with images, favors people like Obama where there is no there there. He’s there to be projected onto, not to project. He’s there to symbolize, not to represent. And it has been that way since Kennedy. It’s not politics as the books describe it. It’s not politics the way Teddy Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson would have understood it. It’s not governance the way an Eisenhower would have gone about it. I can’t tell you exactly what it all is, but I do think that Obama, like Dubya, like Clinton, like Reagan, is something of a hollow chameleon. We want there to be some bedrock character and philosophy beneath the façade, but I don’t think there is. Obama may have told those people exactly what is reported because it sounded good and might be believed and would get them off his back. The truth, as most of us here understand that term, is irrelevant to Obama et al. It’s what gets them the desired effect that counts.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Obama is handsome but not too handsome. Cool but not too cool. He sounds intelligent, but he doesn’t ask anyone to think. He had a pleasant blandness about him, and his particular background allowed people to absolve themselves of white guilt, allowed Team Blue to prey on the African American experience, and appeal to people with complicated family situations.

          Obama, like Reagan (morning in America), Clinton (a bridge to the 21st century and new democrats), Bush II (restoring honor) presented an easy solution. “Relax, Obama has this,” was the mantra of the “no drama, Obama” campaign. Even Hillary’s campaign is based on the basic premise that she is so unique and brilliant she will solve world problems and achieve bipartisanship because she knows Washington which was too complex for the simplicity and inexperience of Obama.

          I thought Obama was an empty suit with a pleasant enough voice in 2004, and I tend to think the Obots were so crazy because they don’t want to acknowledge he was a dope.

        2. Lord Koos

          These recent presidents are all primarily television presenters for the big money and power.

          About the Hollywood part – I’m something of a film buff, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that 90% of the Hollywood studio output is fairy tails of one sort or another. And so many current movies deal in violent imagery, whether it is war movies, horror, sci-fi, thriller, etc. The violence is inescapable, and likewise the incessant patriotism and worship of the nuclear family. I think we are being prepared for the necessary sacrifices of war. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

          Then I learned that the CIA has an office set up expressly to liason with Hollywood. The propganda in a lot of films is so subtle that it mostly goes unnoticed, but it hits people at a sub-concious, cultural level. To decode this stuff you have to not look at the narrative so much as the meta-message and the cultural assumptions that are made.

    2. TedWa

      “You get pushed into these positions” BS. If he had any noble character at all he would have withdrawn.

      No one told him to push to bail out the banks with no strings attached, did they? Even Bush wanted strings attached and it was freely offered – but Obama refused. (He was there in the room and when Bush had both of his successors there, Obama stated he didn’t want to inherit a great depression and that the banks should be bailed out with no strings attached – it could be called a purely ego driven choice or his Wall St handlers wanted it that way, either way it wasn’t the choice the people wanted). He was handed plenty of free chances to change things and refused. He drove democrats out of the party in droves.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why did he say he didn’t want to inherit a great depression if he didn’t go along with no strings attached?

        He was a senator from Chicago.

        Couldn’t his advisers have told him otherwise?

        What was his gut instinct?

        The start of a presidency is always its weakest, most vulnerable, more so for the less experienced.

        If you want to capture a government, that’s a good moment.

    3. diptherio

      It’s the old, “the gold or the lead” routine. Obama took the gold. If he had more character he would have walked, like TedWa says.

      OT anecdote that I’m reminded of: I’ve got a friend who’s friend’s husband went to highschool with Barry in Hawaii. In their yearbook there is, apparently, a photo of Barry (class president, of course) holding a copy of the school newspaper while in the background, clearly visible, are bottles of alcohol, rolling papers and the demon-weed marijuana. The man has some skeletons….

    4. Skippy

      Obama’s career before the national level refutes your premise… the whole Penny Pritzker saga is enough to put your hand wringing to rest.

      Skippy…. btw thanks for slurring the modern sense of the word progressive, one Overton window right move bonus point…. neoliberalism is not progressive imo…

  26. hemeantwell

    re “Leonid Reshetnikov: ‘The US Is Hanging by a Thread’ Watching America”
    It is interesting to see this guy work from assumptions about a very tight integration of US economic and political interests. But the opener — “The Americans first tried to destroy Russia by supporting the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution of 1917” — is a showstopper. The US had nearly 13,000 troops around Archangel in support of Allied intervention against the Bolsheviks. So either this statement is a typo, or it shows just how far the Putinites are willing to go to deny that the Bolsheviks represented any “Russian” interest. Their ginned up nationalism leads to just as much, or even more impatience, with the complexities of the period than that shown by US anti-Commies like Robert Conquest. I suppose they do have Stalin and his fabricated histories as a guide, but they’ll never credit him.

    1. James Levy

      If you scratch him how much you wanna bet for “US” he means “international Jewish cabal.” In the immortal (and now commercially impossible) words of Dan Akroyd as Dick Nixon: “You, Franklin Delano Rosenfeld–you were a Jew, too!”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Crude (Mar 2016) closes at $27.94, a fresh 13-year low.

      “I do believe it’s working; good!” — Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb

  27. Prufrock

    While Larry Lessig’s presidential candidacy was ill advised, I’m surprised he’s not out front on the Hillary paid speech issue. This is basically his area of passion, and his book Republic Lost was directly on point here.

    …after a quick internet search, I guess Prof. Lessig is stumping for Bernie in NH today as the anti-Citizens United candidate?

  28. Gio Bruno

    RE: California Coast

    I know folks will roll their eyes over this article, but the issue is important (to us natives).

    The article gives the impression that the Coastal Commission is this untouchable Leviathan. It’s not. Cities all along the coastline have created local coastal plans (with public input) to implement coastal environmental rules. These local government bodies are usually the existing Planning Commissions. If anything, developers are treated too kindly.

    The Edge’s “home” above Malibu was in contention for 10 years because it wasn’t in fact a single-family dwelling at all. It was a composite of 5 different complexes (with different ownerships). The approved development is an eyesore monstrosity. (You should avoid U2 concerts like the plague, as payback.)

    As a native Californian who has seen the population grow from 8 million to 38 million, and the scenic coastal environment smeared with bad design and environmental degradation, the Calif. Coastal Commission is the last truly great defender of the public’s right to access the stunning Pacific coastline.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Overpopulation is the problem.

      The same number of scenic spots can’t handle all the increased number of visitors.

      And the per capita Nature-Communing goes down.

      On top of that, what do we do if a scenic spot is also a windy place? Not many find those giant windmills beautiful.

      Or a desert beauty locale crammed with solar panels?

  29. ewmayer

    Re. “NC sheriff adding ‘In God We Trust’ motto to all patrol vehicles WNCN” — I had not realized this site has its own law enforcement arm. (And news outlet!) But are ya sure ‘establishment of religion’ is where you want to go? :P


    Didn’t see any Links about it, but happy lunar new-year-of-monkeying-around to all, whether you follow the eastern or western calendar.

    My sis had a work event in the South SF Bay (where I live) last night which included a Chinese-New-year-themed dinner, she stopped by after and brought some leftovers, and we compared our Chinese zodiac animals. I told her the story of how I found out my animal back in college while hanging out in the martial arts room with some Taiwanese guys who were in the Kung Fu club. I was hoping for something ferocious, but on hearing my birth year mild-mannered bookish Andrew does some quick mental math, cracks into a grin, puts his hand behind his head while making a V-sign and waggling his extended fingers and says “bunny rabbit.” (Which is only ferocious with ‘a mean streak a mile wide’ in certain films by Python, Monty Ltd; otherwise it rarely rises above the occasional vicious bout of bum-nibbling.) Sis thought that was very amusing until I looked hers up and told her she’s a Snake:

    In Chinese symbology, Snakes are regarded as intelligent, but with a tendency to be somewhat unscrupulous.

    Which fits – she’s in marketing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :)

    [I should add that in the alternative animal-zodiac of the Vietnamese lunar calendar the rabbit is replaced by the cat, which seems to fit me better – extreme creature of habit, loves to sleep late, inherently contrarian, more of a meat than carrot eater, etc.]

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