2:00PM Water Cooler 3/1/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


CETA: “This agreement is a clear break from the current ISDS system and shows the commitment to work together to establish a multilateral investment tribunal” [European Commission (press release)]. Or a commitment to change the color of lipstick on the pig.


Super Tuesday

It’s odd there’s so much pearl-clutching about Iowa and New Hampshire when Super Tuesday, mostly composed of conservative states the Democrats will never win in the general, exercises near-veto power of the Democratic candidate, and is the immediately following phase of the gauntlet an insurgent candidate must run.

“As voters go to the polls on Super Tuesday, many will be casting ballots in states that have passed strict election laws that didn’t exist during the last presidential race” [WaPo]. Nice to see the Democrat establishment has been fighting this tooth and nail, since Florida 2000. Why, just this year, they ran a huge new voter registration drive, and helped people with their IDs! Oh, wait…

“Before polls even open on Super Tuesday, as many as 40% of the votes will have been cast,” due to early voting [Wall Street Journal, “Early Voting Seen as a Boost for Front-Runners in Super Tuesday Polls”]. Yet another barrier to insurgents.

Super Guide to Super Tuesday: Republicans [FiveThirtyEight]. State-by-state roundup.

Super Guide to Super Tuesday: Democrats [FiveThirtyEight]. State-by-state roundup. Sanders leads in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Vermont.

“Super Tuesday: Voters head to the polls, but not all are pleased by the choices” [WaPo]. Weird headline, not really supported by the person-on-the-street interviews. “On the Democratic side, Clinton was widely expected to sweep six Southern states, including Virginia, where her longtime friend Terry McAuliffe is governor. Clinton’s trouncing of Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday, by nearly 50 percentage points, revealed an overwhelming advantage among African American voters that should play out in the minority-heavy South on Tuesday. Less clear is whether her winning streak will dampen Sanders’s previous advantage among the five other states at stake — Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Sanders’s home state of Vermont.” This is the conventional narrative, which IMNSHO sets expectations for Sanders too high; see above.

“Jeff Berman, the Democratic front-runner’s campaign’s consultant for delegate strategy, says he believes Clinton is on the cusp of becoming the party’s presidential nominee” [Bloomberg]. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? MRDA.


Who knew, Thorpe’s study trashing Medicare for All, gleefully propagated by every hack on the Beltway, bearded or not, was a veritable steaming load, concocted of false assumptions [Gerald Friedman, The American Prospect].

This is an 11 percent increase in spending, including an increase of nearly one-third for “discretionary” activities, such as doctor visits.

This rate of increase is inconsistent with the experience of other countries. When Canada, for example, adopted a single-payer program like that proposed here, there was no increase in average doctor visits per capita. When Taiwan adopted single-payer like that proposed here, visits by those previously uninsured increased, but there was no increase in utilization by those already insured. In both cases, there was a re-allocation of visits from higher-income to lower-income patients, suggesting that with supply constraints in place, physicians were more carefully regulating their activities and reducing unnecessary visits from healthy affluent patients so as to care better for those who are sick and less affluent, a re-allocation that will improve health and save lives.

Clinton should really stop saying she and Sanders have the same goals. They don’t, as this disgusting episode shows.

“Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, said she knows the cost of war firsthand. “I know how important it is that our commander-in-chief has the sound judgment required to know when to use America’s military power—and when not to use that power” [Quartz].


“‘It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,’ [CBS Chairman Les Moonves] said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, according to The Hollywood Reporter — perfectly distilling what media critics have long suspected was motivating the round-the-clock coverage of Trump’s presidential bid” [Politico]. Letting the scum-sucking weasel out of the bag, there, Les.

“DNC Chair [Wasserman Schulz] Joins GOP Attack On Elizabeth Warren’s Agency” [HuffPo]. “Going after the CFPB is becoming something of a habit for Wasserman Schultz. In November, she voted to undercut the agency’s standards on auto lending, helping car dealers charge higher prices to customers of color. She recently signed onto a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray asking him to exempt credit unions and banks with up to $10 billion in assets from consumer protection rules.” Sanders had better add a riff about that to his stump speech.


“Bernie Sanders campaign raised nearly $6m today, bringing it to $42m in contributions for the month of February” [Guardian]. Impressive. On to Philly!

The Voters

“Black Democrats are actually more likely to identify as moderate than liberal, compared to 40 years ago,” as opposed to whites, who are moving in the opposite direction” [Philip Bump, WaPo]. With charts. However, look at this chart of Black youth:


(Here let me confess I found this from a trusted source on my Twitter feed, but can’t find the original! If some reader spotted it too, please let me know. That said…) Bump’s charts assume Black voters are monolithic by age. That’s not so! I’d argue that Sanders has managed to appeal to the future of the party — a future the present Democratic establishment is gleefully stomping — and further, that he did it with a policy appeal (probably free college). Again, when Sanders solves the name recognition problem, and people get to know his policies, they’lll vote for him — regardless of identity politics. Whether there’s enough time this year to get that message out isn’t clear, though. And what we have in election 2016 is two forces of reaction — Trump and Clinton — competing on their respective brands of identity politics, and trying to stamp this movement out.

“Trump and Sanders are thus in many ways the yin and yang of America’s present discontent; both address, in different ways, the seething sense of unfairness, of inequality in Americans. Their supporters tend to be angry, somewhat less educated, more-industrial-age-than-information-age-skilled Americans—and in other cases, insecure young people just out of college, for whom unemployment until the age of 30 still averages 12 percent—who believe their political parties no longer represent them” [Politico]. “Trump emphasizes shutting down job-stealing immigrants and getting “better” deals from the world; Sanders, imprisoning wealth-gobbling, spoiled Wall Streeters and getting “fairer” deals from the world. Both candidates plainly appeal to people who feel that no one is really standing up for them and what used to be known as their middle class; people who want more of the pie than they’ve been getting for a long time, and people who realize that their political parties are at best half-hearted about doing anything about that.”

“[Chip Berlet, co-author of the 2000 book, Right-Wing Populism in America] says changing racial demographics have created anxiety among white working people at a time when decades of wage stagnation have left them behind. ‘They’re angry, and they have the right to be angry,’ he says.” [The Nation]. “‘And the left has failed to reach out to them and explain that it’s greed — not Obama or the Jews or the Muslims or the Federal Reserve – that’s causing their economic stress. So they reach out for conspiracy theories. Because their failures can’t be a failure of capitalism. And it can’t be because they’re not competent, so there has to be a conspiracy.'” And: “The Democratic establishment from Obama to Hillary Clinton has been continually surprised by the anger and sense of betrayal within its progressive wing, which is why so few people took Sanders seriously at first (including the Clintons).” Damn straight. And Clinton’s trust numbers are rotten for everybody, not just “progressives.”

This is probably the best “Editor’s Note” ever: “Editor’s note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.” [HuffPo]. That said, Trump hasn’t blown thousands of faraway brown people to pink mist. So there’s that.

“Chicago-based marketing analytics firm Networked Insights tracked social-media conversations pertaining a number of top contenders for the US presidency. It identified “stress” as the overwhelmingly definitive theme of discussions surrounding Bernie Sanders and his money-conscious campaign platform. NI found 6% of social conversations around Sanders triggered stress, and 4% triggered anxiety—significantly higher than the average for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or Ted Cruz. Sanders is the only candidate for whom “stress” and “anxiety” made it into the top six signifiers” [Quartz]. That’s interesting. Contrast how Trump, an experienced entertainer, creates jouissance.

“Nor was this sway toward socialism triggered by Sanders’s candidacy: as far back as 2011, a Pew poll revealed, fully 49% of Americans (not just Democrats) under 30 had a positive view of socialism, while just 47% had a favorable opinion of capitalism” [Harold Meyerson, Guardian]. “Indeed, the current socialist emergence was foretold by the polls that showed most American looked positively upon the message of Occupy Wall Street – that the 1% has flourished at the expense of the 99%. Bernie Sanders didn’t push the young toward socialism. They were already there.” Of course, the Democrat establishment, including very much the local apparatchiks in South Carolina and elsewhere, are doing everything possible to stamp this out. Funny how the demographics aren’t magically working for them!

The Trail

“‘The Bernie Sanders movement might break out into a major conflict at the convention in Philadelphia if the Sanders people feel that they’re being cheated, being swindled out of votes,'” said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, the Dubois scholar and veteran activist who helped pull together a national conference on the Black Radical Tradition, in January. ‘The Republican Party might also collapse under the pressure of the ‘angry’ white men and women” supporting Donald Trump, said Dr. Monteiro. ‘The situation is so dynamic and unlike anything that we have experienced since the Civil War and Reconstruction'” [Black Agenda Report]. Philly is lovely in the summer, I’m told. Not humid at all.

“Sanders is still drawing ‘yuuuge’ crowds. But is the revolution unraveling?” [WaPo]. We know what WaPo wants, but by Betteridge’s Law, no. A key number to watch will be Sanders small donations after Super Tuesday.

“What Sanders did, however, was demonstrate that with a different messenger — one willing to draw sharp contrasts, perhaps someone who was not a wild-haired socialist in his ’70s from Vermont — the appetite was there in 2016 for a truly progressive candidate to capture the Democratic nomination. That candidate did not run. Progressives of a pessimistic bent might feel that they just missed a once in a generation opportunity to reorient the Democratic Party” [Salon]. Could be the Cherokee thing gave her cold feet. Politics ain’t beanbag.

“NASCAR CEO Brian France, some drivers endorse Donald Trump for president” [USA Today].

“Responding to reports Clinton campaign planned to deploy Bill Clinton to criticize Trump’s statements on women, Trump, who has criticized the former president’s affairs, said, ‘I hope they do that. If Bill tries to portray me as a sexist, he’s going to have a hard time'” [Bloomberg]. I hate it when Trump’s right.

Stats Watch

PMI Manufacturing Index, February 2016: “slowing to a crawl” [Econoday]. “This report, which runs hot compared to other manufacturing reports, is sitting near recovery lows and is offering its own signal of renewed trouble for manufacturing, a sector that continues to get hit by weak exports and weak energy-related demand.” Ha ha. “Recovery.”

ISM Mfg Index, February 2016: “Early indications on the February factory sector are all negative but the most closely watched one, ISM’s manufacturing index, perhaps shows the least weakness” [Econoday]. “This report should help limit concern that February was a breakdown month for what is still, however, a fragile factory sector.”

Construction Spending, January 2016: “Construction spending rose a strong 1.5 percent in January in strength, however, that does not include housing. A one-month surge in highway & street spending skewed the headline higher as did gains for manufacturing and on Federal construction projects” [Econoday].

Fodder for the Bulls: “While the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index finished February 0.4 percent lower, what’s remarkable is that the benchmark retraced almost 95 percent of a loss that topped 5 percent. Such reversals happen just once every four years on average in data going back to World War II, with stocks trading higher by 12 percent a year later compared with a normal 12-month return rate of 8.7 percent” [Bloomberg].

Commodities: “[Glencore’s] net income excluding some items plunged 69 percent to $1.34 billion during the year as prices for metals and oil collapsed, the Baar, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Tuesday” [Bloomberg].

Shipping: “Chris Welsh, secretary general of the Global Shippers’ Forum, said: ‘The received wisdom is that bigger ships and alliances are good for competition because of the benefits they are said to confer. If the reality is that they add costs because of the negative externalities they impose on others, and if they restrict choice through reduced service competition, then other regulatory or competition policy approaches may be necessary to deal with the competition issues raised by mega vessels and alliances'” [Splash247].

The Fed: “What I actually mean is that being driven by the data is about having a policymaking strategy. It’s about implementing consistent and predictable behavior that is driven by the economy’s performance relative to our goals” [John C. Williams, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. Maybe I’m crazy, but doesn’t this sound a lot like central planning?

Bonds: “[D]espite the fact that US government debt has risen substantially relative to US GDP over the last decade, US government bond yields have not risen. What makes US government bonds “safe assets”? Our answer in short is that safe asset investors have nowhere else to go but invest in US government bonds” [NBER].

“Yahoo said it may have to write down the goodwill value of Tumblr, more than two years after the web pioneer spent $1.1 billion to buy the microblogging site” [VentureBeat]. That’s what they get for nuking all the pr0n.

“It is almost impossible to assess the progress of the United States economy over the past four decades without feeling disappointed. From the perspective of the typical American, nearly one-third of the country’s productive potential has been thrown away on spending that adds nothing to real wealth or destroyed by the 2008 financial crisis” [Brad DeLong]. “The real-world purpose of an ideology is not to provide understanding, but to offer its adherents a sense of certainty as they navigate a complex world. An ideology becomes successful not by suggesting policies that work, but by helping people feel comfortable, happy, and sure of what they are doing.” The authors recommend pragmatism. Which oddly reinforces Clinton’s branding.

“Euro-area factories cut prices at the fastest pace in almost three years in February, compounding an already worrisome inflation environment for the European Central Bank” [Bloomberg].

“For its entire life, Uber has argued its valuation was justified because ridesharing would replace car ownership the world over. With the driver economics clearly not working in the US and Uber throwing in the towel on winning China, it needs a new story” [Pando]. Turns out the story is logistics. Like pizza delivery. So how come that crook Kalanick’s company doesn’t have a valuation like a pizza delivery firm?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57, Neutral (previous close: 54, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 1 at 10:38am. Creeping into greed again.

Guillotine Watch

“How 3D printing is shaking up high end dining” [BBC]. “Unlike some other food-capable 3D printers, the Foodini device has been designed from the start to be a specialised food-printing machine. With suitable ingredients the machine is capable of printing structures several centimetres high, making possible some quite elaborate 3D designs.” Pretty cool. But when I hear “high-end dining,” I can’t help but think of the kind of artifice displayed here:

And speaking of Versailles, Jamie Dimon interview: “DIMON: But, you know, honestly, who owns the future?” Pretty good operattional definition of being a userer, no? [Bloomberg]. “DIMON: People need to understand: Businesses are going to make mistakes. They shouldn’t be shot and hung every time.” The issue isn’t mistakes. The issue is fraud.


“As for the Malaysian attorney general’s conclusion that the $681 million deposited to Mr. Najib’s account was a Saudi royal-family donation, the international investigators have found no evidence any of this came from Saudi Arabia, according to those familiar with their probes” [Wall Street Journal, “1MDB Scandal: Deposits in Malaysian Leader Najib’s Accounts Said to Top $1 Billion”]. Granted, Malaysia is at or near the top of the corruption league tables. But a billion dollars… I wonder if it would be possible do a back of the envelope calculation on the size of the corruption bezzle based on Najiib’s grift? Suppose there are a 1,000 Najibs, which seems not unreasonable. That would make the corruption bezzle 1/70 of World GDP (in nominal terms). There are many who don’t operate on Najib’s scale, so 1/70 would be low. But perhaps there aren’t 1,000 Najibs; 1/70 would be high. (This year, there are 1,645 declared billionaires, but who in their right mind declares anything?)

“French prosecutors investigating corruption in world athletics have expanded their remit to include the bidding and voting processes for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games” [Guardian].

“Citigroup Inc. said in a securities filing Friday that it has received a subpoena in connection with the FIFA bribery scandal, making it the first major U.S. bank to disclose a link to probes involving soccer’s governing body” [Wall Street Journal, “Citigroup Receives Subpoena in FIFA Probe”]. No! Not Citi! Say it’s not so! Part of a larger investigation: “The May indictment [from U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York] mentioned more than 20 banks used by FIFA officials to allegedly transfer and receive bribe payments, including HSBC, Standard Chartered, Barclays PLC, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp.”

“[U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling] private [blook club, which is run by the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, is a little-known fundraising vehicle where lobbyists for Wall Street banks, insurance companies and accounting firms gather monthly to discuss literature with a Republican panel member. The designated lawmaker picks the book and pulls in the day’s haul, which attendees estimate is often in the $60,000 to $80,000 range” [Bloomberg]. How cozy! One night equals about three times the U.S. per capita income for a year. Ka-ching.

Class Warfare

“Harvard jointly filed an amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board on Monday arguing against the unionization of graduate students, joining six other Ivy League universities, Stanford, and MIT in a call for the board to uphold existing rulings that define the relationship between private universities and graduate students as strictly academic” [Harvard Crimson]. “Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal….”

News of the Wired

“Wikimedia Foundation director resigns after uproar over ‘Knowledge Engine'” [Ars Technica].

* * *

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

Budding trees make me sneeze

Budding trees… I’m so jealous!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. DakotabornKansan

    Andrew Bacevich on Trumpism, America’s very own Juan Perón and his version of caudillismo:


    Not a bad analogy.

    “Caudillos have no ideology, no philosophy of life, no vision. Caudillos have only one guiding principle, one true loyalty, and that is to themselves. They are vain like peacocks.”

    “Unfortunately, caudillos usually end up not really being friends of the poor and powerless. On the surface, they appear to be. But, mostly, caudillos make a lot of promises that are seldom fulfilled. There is almost never any follow up and maintenance and repair work or fine tuning. Mostly there’s just a declaration of success or victory, regardless of the facts. The promises have the effect of creating high expectations and a tremendous amount of false hope which leave people feeling more depressed and disillusioned than before.

    “And when the people complain that a promise has not been kept, caudillos simply proceed to blame their failures on those within the evil elite class who seek to undermine everything, because caudillos do not see an advantage to accepting responsibility if it does not benefit them. And of course caudillos are not encumbered by shame. Caudillos mainly seek power for themselves and the love and adulation of the people. They obtain power by dividing society and creating chaos, and thereby confusing and weakening their opponents. They obtain the love and adulation of the people by pretending to be with them and of them…” – Marco Cáceres, Honduras Weekly,

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That sounds a lot like Malcolm X’s last speech, about empowering themselves, not the Democratic party, not the Republican party, etc.

      And now, today, Super Tuesday, we have Sanders hoping to win in mostly white areas, with Hillary locking down African American voters….lots of promises unfulfilled since the 1960s, from their perspective, poor before and still poor now, powerless before and still powerless now.

    2. RabidGandhi

      Interesting. The word caudillo is usually mistranslated in English as “strongman”, but that is not the way it is understood in Spanish, where a better translation would be “people’s champion”. A caudillo is not a caudillo because he (yes sorry it’s always a he as far as i know) stands up for the people against the powers oppressing them. Historical/fictional examples include El Cid, Zorro and yes, Juan Perón.

      Trump would fit in this to a degree, but not in the way Bacevich implies: Trump’s supporters see him as a big middle finger to the powers that have been oppressing them for so long. That said, Trump is very pro-capitalist and there the comparison to Perón falls flat on its face.

    3. jgordon

      Uh, that’s not a description of Trump. That’s a description of just about every politician America has had for decades. The divergence of Trump from those others though is that at least he’s open and entertaining about it. And that’s really important; it means he’s an honest crook! Unlike all the others who are dishonest crooks. That fact alone is going to net him tremendous support. I’m not kidding.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Not sure I’d call him honest, but you’re onto something. Other presidents regularly COMMIT war crimes. Only Trump openly advocates for it and brags about it. This alone make the political class uncomfortable. Witness Hayden’s talk of mutiny.

        1. different clue

          Well . . . Bush bragged about it after the fact. And Cheney certainly bragged and bragged and bragged about it.

          And Obama sanctified it by “look forward and not back”. Certainly endorsing the bragging if nothing else.

      2. participant-observer-observed

        Yes, this is my reading too.

        It is an oligarch’s privilege to poke his finger in the eyes of the voters, suggesting:

        “vote for me, the disclosed crass indifferent one or all of those posers who also don’t care about you in the least and want to stay as far away from you and your limited income lifestyle as possible”

        (media blackout on Sanders reinforces the hollow echo, rather than proving to be an exception)

  2. PQS

    The issue isn’t mistakes. The issue is fraud.

    Yes. The issue is also that a few people in one industry shouldn’t be able, with their mistakes/fraud to take down the entire world economy and the livelihoods of millions of others. And get off scot free and even richer than before.

    As Taibbi so memorably noted, I think in Griftopia, average Americans can be hung by their thumbs FOREVER for missing a payment on a rental television by having their credit ruined, yet the banking industry crashing the economy? Nothing. Don’t even dare criticize them in public.

    1. polecat

      “Wallstreet Fraudsters & Banksters need to understand…….they might be shot or hung if they keep on like this”

      Hey Jamie…FIFY

  3. Blurtman

    “The issue isn’t mistakes. The issue is fraud.”

    Hillary said to knock off that tomfoolery.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Huh? Hellery knows the word “tomfoolery”?!

      According to the email documents dump at Politico, in one of her emails she had to ask what the word “Fubar” means.
      Hahaha. It means you are running for Presnut Ms. Hellery.

    2. Jim Haygood

      If the FBI ever gets round to indicting Broom Hilda and her errant aides, Lambert can add a new heading “The Trial” to complement “The Trail.”

      U.S. vs. Hillary would make the O.J. trial look like an afternoon snooze.

      Visualize whirled peas!

  4. jrs

    “It’s odd there’s so much pearl-clutching about Iowa and New Hampshire when Super Tuesday, mostly composed of conservative states the Democrats will never win in the general, exercises near-veto power of the Democratic candidate, and is the immediately following phase of the gauntlet an insurgent candidate must run.”

    That’s not a bug … The U.S. had endless features that keep it right wing, many of them obviously undemocratic (a national one day primary would be democratic – not this archaic nonsense). And yet the fate of the world rests in the hands of those states lucky enough to have gotten early primaries (including super Tuesday primaries), who will probably show little evidence of deserving such preference. Really sick system this is. What’s the solution? We need a real political revolution.

    1. PQS

      Oh Yeah. Primaries and general elections on a Tuesday, weird and obviously political and punitive Voter ID laws, (and letting states set them), no national holiday or requirement to vote, patchwork of laws about reinstating voting rights for felons, etc. etc. It’s almost like we’re not even trying.

      Maybe states should get allocated their federal money based on turnout. 100% = 100% allocation.

      1. sleepy

        Super Tuesday, of course. It was envisioned as a way to keep conservative dems in the mix for the nomination. Historically, that’s a fact, and it’s working. I only wish someone on the teevee would say it. Some channel like MSNBC. The sputtering would be awesome.

        1. jrs

          Link? Yes that seems to be the effect, but proving intent is another thing …

          I am told that California didn’t want to fight to try to be early because running several elections cost too much of limited state resources. Well it’s a huge state with a huge population so I guess it does cost more than a tiny state to run an election, but think of what that says about so called democracy if states with tiny populations are allowed to determine the election that way.

          1. sleepy

            I was basing it mostly on memory, being 65 yr. old, but it is what I remember.

            Wikipedia has some details on it, though it says the basic idea went through many permutations, the southern plan being just one:

            The phrase “Super Tuesday” was next used to describe the primary elections that took place on March 8, 1988, in the Southern states of Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia leading up to the 1988 November election. In the 1988 Democratic Party primaries, Southern Democrats came up with the idea of a regional primary in an effort to nominate a moderate candidate who would more closely represent their interests. However, Dick Gephardt, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, and Michael Dukakis split the Super Tuesday primaries, and Dukakis was subsequently nominated. Meanwhile, George H.W. Bush secured most of the delegates in the 1988 Republican Party primaries. From 1996 to 2004, most of these Southern primaries were held the week after Super Tuesday, dubbed “Southern Tuesday” by news commentators


          2. Tom Allen

            Ok, this is just wikipedia, but:

            In the 1988 Democratic Party primaries, Southern Democrats came up with the idea of a regional primary in an effort to nominate a moderate candidate who would more closely represent their interests.

            And having been around since then, I can attest that yes, it started as a Southern state bloc strategy. It was supposed to help Gore in ’88, but he and Jackson split the vote. It worked better for Clinton four years later.

          3. different clue

            It would be kind of neat if a President-wannabe figured out which states’ electoral votes heeshee needed to win the election and ran in the caucuses and primaries of just those states ( plus just enough others to reach a winning number of delegates if “just those states” wouldn’t do that by themselves). That would give California and some other big late states the primary influence they deserve.

            It would also be neat if some nominee-wannabe boycotted the states with caucuses and only ran in the states with primaries. And announced that intention way ahead of time. And said any caucus state converting to primary would be put on the ” we’ll run there) list.

      2. hunkerdown

        Is there some moral blessing to be found in lining up behind oligarchs whose acts we can neither veto nor undo?

    2. RP

      Hillary leads: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia

      Bernie leads: Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont

      within 5 points: Massachusetts

      What can we draw from this? HRC will win all the states the (D) nominee won’t win in November. Bernie winning all battleground states (though it may be a stretch to say OK might be in play). Massachusetts will be blue regardless.

      Remind me again who’s the most electable?

      1. barrisj

        Agreed…biggest joke from the Clintonites is their continual banging on about the A-A vote in pathologically Red States, where, if Hills is the nominee, only a handful of white people will vote for her in November, prolly less than those who voted for the O-man…all that these early Demo Red State primaries are good for is the opportunity for the HRC camp to recapture the “momentum” narrative amongst the commentariat and MSM, nothing else.

        1. RabidGandhi

          If SC is any barometer, AA’s aren’t voting for HRC either; everybody’s staying at home.

  5. Left in Wisconsin

    American Prospect piece on single payer:

    Lambert: Clinton should really stop saying she and Sanders have the same goals. They don’t, as this disgusting episode shows.

    If you go to the website, Friedman’s contribution is bracketed by more hit pieces, including a follow up from Starr that, pivoting from HRC’s concern that “turning health care over to the states will put Scott Walker in charge of your health care,” now calls the Sanders’ plan “Excessive Centralization of Power” and contains these gems:

    Sanders’s plan … effectively removes any interest in controlling health costs not only from patients and providers, but also from employers and other levels of government, including states. If the federal government is the only institution with a stake in controlling health costs, it will have to do all of the controlling. …

    If health care isn’t a federal legal entitlement and funds have to be decided on every year, health care would continually be up against every other rival for budgetary appropriations, including the military. Of course, Congress can modify entitlements, too, so either way it would ultimately decide not just total spending but many aspects of health care that are today one or two removes away from the political process.

    So now we are supposed to be worried about Mitch McConnell as our primary care provider. Shameless.

  6. Jim Haygood

    They hate us for our falafel:

    Qalandiya (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – Two Israeli soldiers said to be using a traffic app mistakenly entered a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank overnight, sparking clashes that killed one Palestinian and wounded 15 people, officials said Tuesday.

    The two soldiers travelling in a jeep entered the Qalandiya refugee camp and were targeted with rocks and Molotov cocktails, Israeli officials said.

    Israeli reinforcements were then deployed to the camp between Jerusalem and Ramallah to rescue them, provoking further clashes that lasted hours. The two soldiers were later rescued unharmed.

    Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said the soldiers “apparently used Waze,” the Israeli-developed navigation app now owned by Google.


    Funny how fifty years of occupation produces surliness among the occupied.

    This despite Israel’s claim, in its successful application in 2010 to join the OECD rich countries club, that the West Bank was a boom economy growing at 9% annually.

    How churlish of the Palestinians to want political freedom and the right to travel too! /sarc

    1. Carolinian

      No fair bringing up the occupied territories. People might be reminded that there are racists whose name isn’t Trump.

    1. sleepy

      Well, that would be an option. Let’s see if he means it, and let’s see if he can get ballot access.

      1. nippersdad

        I was just really tickled by how gleeful he sounds at the prospect of throwing the game board up in the air. If he keeps up the stick-in-the-eye rhetoric, he should have no difficulty getting ballot access.

        A three way race! Somehow I do not see H. Clinton getting the better end of it this time. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Brooklyn Headquarters! Maybe she will tell him to “cut it out”?

        We have seen how successful that strategy has worked for her before…

      1. nippersdad

        And Trump or Clinton aren’t? This race is almost like watching a Las Vegas floor show (“So that’s where they have been all this time!”). Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Allbright, Dick Van Dyke; we are only missing Englebert Humperdinck at this point to give them a theme for their variety show.

        Blasts from the past are now de rigeur.

        1. uncle tungsten

          Special guest appearance by Janice Joplin in Hillary’s golden rags singing about mercedes benz with a wall street background.

    2. different clue

      Ventura might get the sort of Sandernistas who vote vote for Trump over Clinton . . . but none of the others. And he wouldn’t get many or any Trumpers. They would be thinking . . . “where were you when we needed you?”

  7. marym

    Bill Clinton and Boston mayor Marty Walsh at polling places in Boston. Twittering occurring as to whether they were within the bounds of the law. See wgbh reporter @reillyadam

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The key point being that Clinton’s Secret Service protection was making for long lines and holding up the voting process, hence turnout. But it looks like three precincts only. And not near colleges.

  8. ex-PFC Chuck


    “Trump and Sanders are thus in many ways the yin and yang of America’s present discontent; both address, in different ways, the seething sense of unfairness, of inequality in Americans.”

    Here’s a scenario that could make the 2016 election cycle way more disruptive and interesting than it already is. Suppose that both are screwed out of the presidential nominations of their respective parties. Donald could call Bernie, or vice versa, and say: “You and I disagree on many issues, but we agree on a small handful of things that must be done to meet the most urgent threats to the future of the USA: We must redirect the US economy such that it all Americans, not just the wealthy and their servants and hangers-on; we must chase the money changers out of the temple of government; and we must redirect our foreign policy such that we recognize that people who do not live in this country have the right to conduct their affairs for their benefit. Let us sit down together and establish a party and be the founding running mates on a platform that focuses on these core issues. Perhaps we could call it the Restoration Party, as in restoring true government of, by and for the people.”
    That’s just the beginning and supporters of each would press to include other issues in the common core (to steal a term from another area of contention). If these two people are genuine about their determination to move beyond what has become a very dysfunctional political system, perhaps they could make this work.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      $%%& Just missed the edit deadline. Clause should read:

      We must redirect the US economy such that it serves all Americans;

    2. sleepy

      Who would be prez, and who would be veep? I would vote for a Sanders-Trump ticket, though I think a lot of air would go out of Trump’s support in that scenario.

      It’s an interesting and attractive idea, but doubtful imho. Unfortunately.

      1. cwaltz

        Does anyone here actually believe that Trump’s ego would allow him to play second fiddle even if by some miracle Bernie would agree to such an absurdity?

        1. participant-observer-observed

          Or that Sen Sander’s would be invited into an oligarch bad boy alliance.

    3. nippersdad

      Sanders would never go for it. He has already drawn his line in the sand wrt Trump, and he would lose his credibility were he to cross that line.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps he would be more aggressive if retiring from Senate after this is a possibility he’s considering, (though 75 is the new 55, and serving in the 90s is an admiral goal).

        Maybe he would then un-sheath that MMT sword. He would also say what he really thinks of Obama.

        “When I come to the Rubicon, I will cross it.”

        1. participant-observer-observed

          Or if Sanders withdrew, how could he distribute the war chest into new local and state startup races?

          Sanders as a political block won’t go away….the question is how it will manifest.

          1. participant-observer-observed

            Even if HRC could temporarily capture some of Sander’s vote bank, how long could she or Dems keep them (especially with DW Schultz telling Warren to get lost).

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        They both would risk losing credibility with their more ardent supporters. But it would be a powerful moment when the two of them get on the same platform and say, each in their own way, “Donald/Bernie and I differ on many issues, but we are both patriotic Americans first and foremost. What you have witnessed so far in this campaign is the establishments of both major parties thumbing their noses at the expressed desires of the American people to stop their politicians from selling them down the river. We will work together to address these core issues we agree on to fulfill these desires.” Not expressed as well as either Trump or Sanders could, but hopefully you get the idea.

    4. EmilianoZ

      That’s assuming Trump really cares the average American. LOL! My guess is he cares about the average Joe about as much as Obama does. And we all know how much that is.

        1. Jason

          These days I find I can only judge by actions, not words. What has Trump ever done to lead anyone to think he would be a 21st Century “traitor to his class” like FDR?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Maybe not a traitor to the class, but I suspect Trump would love to attack members of his class for perceived snubs. If you were Trump wouldn’t you be offended by Herr Jeb and Frau Hillary being offered?

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Never happen, and shouldn’t happen.

      Did anybody see how Christie (who now calls Trump “Mr. Trump”) looked at Trump’s victory speech? Terrible, like he’d been taken into the back room and beaten up.

      Trump is always the boss, and you’re not. Sanders wouldn’t take kindly to that, and shouldn’t. And that’s before we get to the bigotry thing.

    6. vidimi

      this is delusional because it imagines trump as something he isn’t, a campaigner for any kind of interest not his own.

      trump is a master conman. a hypnotist. those that allow themselves to be enchanted by him will hear what they want to hear in his words. he’s even better than obama in that regard.

    1. nycTerrierist

      great link, thanks! It ain’t over til it’s over.

      “What this means is simple:

      Hillary Clinton will grow her lead until the March 15 states have voted.

      Bernie Sanders will erase that lead — partly or completely — after March 15.

      How much of Clinton’s lead he will erase depends on your not buying what the media is selling — that the contest is over.

      In most scenarios where Sanders wins, he doesn’t retake the lead until June 7, when five states including California cast their ballots.

      March 15 is the Ides of March; a good way to remember the date. The message — gear up for a battle after the Ides of March, and don’t let the establishment media tell you what to think. They won’t be right until the last state has voted.”

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      This will not stop the Fat Lady from singing tonite. But yeah, June, got it. Go Bernie!!

    3. Jeff W

      Thanks for the link. (I like whatever Gaius Publius writes.)

      My feeling is that Sanders has to win just enough states (e.g., the ones mentioned above—Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Massachusetts) to avoid the optics of a Clinton “juggernaut.” The longer the primaries are “in play”—or are perceived to be, really—the better for Sander and not for Clinton—his numbers get better the more people learn about him; hers don’t (or, perhaps, get worse).

      1. participant-observer-observed

        Especially if the cash keeps flying into the Sanders campaign…..time to make another donation..and to NC!.

  9. DakotabornKansan

    Sanders had better add a riff about Wasserman Schultz joining GOP attack on Elizabeth Warren’s CFPB Agency to his stump speech.

    Sanders, who has a poster of Eugene V. Debs on his office wall, should raise hell!

    “I told my friends of the cloth that I did not believe Christ was meek and lowly but a real living, vital agitator who went into the temple with a lash and a krout and whipped the oppressors of the poor, routed them out of the doors and spilled their blood and got silver on the floor. He told the robbed and misruled and exploited and driven people to disobey their plunderers as he denounced the profiteers.” – Eugene V. Debs, from his prison cell, while serving time for making anti-war speeches (1919)

      1. different clue

        Except I believe that Debs had a real and detailed program which he had pushed for many years up to that point. If that is so, then not caudillo.

    1. Daryl

      Hmm, I realize now I didn’t check my ballot after I voted. Presumably the Repubs who run the state didn’t bother to rig the Democratic ballot though.

  10. washunate

    And the left has failed to reach out to them and explain that it’s greed — not Obama or the Jews or the Muslims or the Federal Reserve – that’s causing their economic stress.

    Well, two of those four aren’t causing economic stress….

    1. Carolinian

      Yes count on The Nation to blame everything on a basic human emotion. Lack of agency much?

      I can remember The Nation when it was good. Some of the old stalwarts like Greider are still hanging around.

      1. different clue

        I will never understand why Greider went from a big audience like Rolling Stone to a little audience like The Nation, unless Rolling Stone was trying to stealth-censor Greider.

    2. Christopher Fay

      Left, them, Obama, Jews, Muslims, Fed, which two aren’t causing our economic stress?

  11. craazyman

    I guess people have already forgotten about the collapse of the global equity markets. How short the attention span in today’s busy world! Fortunately, they’re still collapsing. Don’t allow yourself to be flummoxed or confused. Collapsing upward is a collapse if you stand on your head. Nobody said what direction it would be.

    The Asteroid Watch continues. But we need more beer and reefer in the observatory. We have YouTube and Doritos, we have low-fat hot dogs, we have Dijon mustard, we have potato chips and potato salad. we have everything we need.. Don’t feel sorry for us. So what if we look up and see the stars. is that so bad?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many rich investors are happy to see Hillary doing well today and can’t stop hitting the buy button, or key.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘Collapsing upward is a collapse if you stand on your head. Nobody said what direction it would be.’

      Or even which asset it would be. Gold popped 10.9% in February, suggesting that the 5-year commodity price crash may be ending. Gold’s hypervolatile little brother, the XAU gold ‘n silver miners index, has added 58% since its Jan 19th low.

      Are we going to stand by passively while another potential five-bagger slips away from us? Hand me that reefer, while I ponder the matter further.

      1. craazyman

        my little gold position has finally gone up!

        wow did I get wrong footed on that one. it’s been a 0.6 bagger but now it’s gone up to 0.7!

        I’m thinking of the Edward Green Invernesses in Burgundy just to celebrate.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Beats the hell outta the house shoes reinforced with duct tape, that constitute the footwear of the typical silver bull.

    1. Vatch

      The hosts of KLBJ’s Todd And Don Show noted that three callers had already complained about their votes being switched from Trump to Rubio when a fourth caller dialed in to say her ballot had been switched from Trump to Linda Gray.

      It could get weird if the machines start switching votes to Larry Hagman.

      1. fresno dan

        March 1, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        “It could get weird if the machines start switching votes to Larry Hagman.”

        Bring him back!!!
        Oh, and Joan Collins…

  12. Paul Tioxon

    Bernie Sanders is taking the opportunity to do something really radical, plant a claim for control of the National Democratic Party for the future, beginning right now. He is going the distance to the convention, win, lose or draw. And in reality, the fact that he has got this far and is raising this much money is not new or surprising. What he has learned and what I believe I have learned seems to coincide, as far as I am concerned. This is a historic opportunity to fill the void since the Southern Conservatives left the Democrats in wholesale migration into the republican party.

    As William Domhoff has pointed out, and as the DLC figured out, the party was ripe for the people left to dominate the party which was impossible previously with the racist Southern bloc of bible belt obstructionist. Their legacy, to give one policy example, is the split between Medicare and Medicaid. One operating along valid social insurance principles, Medicare, a single national system with standard, uniform doctor and hospital care offered. The other, the 2nd class citizenship of the poor, mostly Black in the South, who the Plantation Southern Dems would sooner kill themselves before helping any African-Americans.

    And sooner kill themselves before helping any lazy bums, single mothers and all of the other fornicating sinners who might get a free ride. Medicaid, for some unknown valid management reason, has 50 separate programs, all different, with NO uniformity and NONE of the economy of scale normally desirable for a social insurance program. It simply does not make any sense for 2 federally funded health programs operating the way we have it, other than the utter hatred and contempt on the part of the Southern Plantation Class and their Democratic Committee leaders in Congress who totally dominated nation legislative politics for decades.

    That has changed. If Bernie can go to the convention, and cut deals with The Clintonistas around health care, that would be a good start. The simple goal, by executive action to consolidate a uniform national health care system, from all existing federally funded health care programs, VA, Chip and Medicaid, all merged into one big uniform Medicare offering. The states can wash their hands of this “unfunded mandate” and divert resources to state pension funds that are underfunded, education and other pubic infrastructure to be determined later.

    More than likely, by tomorrow morning, we will know how hard it will be for Bernie to get the nomination, but by continuing, he can build up a mass of voters who will not be denied at the convention. If he goes the distance, even by not winning the presidential nod, he CAN get one or more of his major policy objectives. Winning by losing, by staying in to the bitter end and demanding these policies in exchange for rabid support in Nov that could well bring the US Senate and maybe even Congress back into the Dem control maybe his great victory, in lieu of sitting in the WH. And, he could also bring into the party, the army of support the Progressive Caucus in Congress could wield to dominate the Democrats as the sun sets on the Clinton’s final hurrah. Austerity is not working, the private sector is destroying jobs by M&A and the government can be viewed as the source of real solutions to make people’s lives better by boosting the economy and creating jobs rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure and staffing the skeleton staffs of public institutions such as universities and public schools.

    1. Jess

      “Medicare, a single national system with standard, uniform doctor and hospital care offered.”

      Normally you’re on your game but on this one you need to read Lambert’s column from a few months ago pointing out all the regional differences in Medicare among various Advantage and Medi-Gap plans. “Uniform doctor and hospital care offered”? Try different plans for different counties, much less among states.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        It is true about todays Advantage plans, but Medicare is unique in that you don’t apply, you are automatically enrolled by your birthday. You can opt out, but they contact you to let you know that you automatically begin coverage by the 1st day of the month of your 65th B-Day. You are uniformly covered for 80% of your doctor visits and hospitalization. In the early days,the balance was not bankrupting. Medi-gap plans were cheap, usually through the Blues. 50 years later, with health care costs through the stratosphere, every scheme to control or slow down price increases has been tried. The Advantage Plans did not cost anything at all and had no co-pays. Again, today, all that is different. But the plan as rolled out then did NOT face today’s pricing, today’s army of high tech tests, such as CT scans, MRIs PET scans etc.

        The key point is between Medicare and Medicaid. They are completely different and Medicare even with all of the plans and costs is so much better than Medicaid it is not worth comparing. A Medicare consolidation could simply offer a uniform plan modeled after the Advantage Plans, which must conform to minimum standards of coverage. The US Government pays for all of this anyway, with a deduction from SSI and an additional payment from the retiree. The county by county pricing is just the insurance part of the problem. The real problem is the variation in health care itself, with some areas rich in doctors and hospitals and others isolated by great distance from any health care delivery worth mentioning.

        If you are lucky to live in Philadelphia region, 5 medical schools within the city limits and extremely well funded not-for-profit hospitals almost completely dominate the area. Plus, a non-profit Blue holds about 50% of the market for all of the private insurance in the region plus a large part of the Medicare and Medicaid business. We have 3 exclusive children hospitals in the city and more in the region. The specialized care is outstanding. But then there are places like Texas with almost 1/4 of the population without any health insurance and great distances to cover a widely dispersed, large population. The NE corridor is overflowing with medical schools and hospitals from Boston to Baltimore. Not the same elsewhere which is a problem even if you have great insurance but no high quality place to go.

        Medicaid is 50 separately operated programs and as the failed Medicaid expansion has shown, some states do not even want to be bothered with free money from Washington DC for years and then 90% funding for millions of the working poor. In PA, it took the ouster of the republican governor by the newly elected dem to just accept the ACA expansion deal without all of the ideological posturing and delays of the previous governor. He wound up being a 1 term governor in PA, the first in a modern state history of 2 term governors almost an automatic right.

        32 states, including DC have accepted Medicaid expansion. The rest, and guess where they mostly are located, have not. 2 are under discussion. Millions of people would have health insurance that are in limbo because of the 50 state balkanized operation. Not Medicare, even if there are medigap, advantage plans and pricing differences within the states, you are automatically enrolled at your 65th birthday. That difference was due to a policy decision from the beginning which did not want to have give aways to the poor and hid behind the states right BS. And that is the main point, not how poor the private insurance programs are and the attempts to give private insurance companies access to new markets via medigap and advantage plans. That can be reversed under a Sanders progressive coalition deal at the convention, under my scenario. And that is the main point. Things are way too fucked up and not getting better. Without Bernie twisting arms all the way to the convention floor and making a grab for a seat at the table of power by influencing policy, all of this campaigning is one great big nothing.

    2. different clue

      I don’t think the reason for 50 separate Medicaides is unknown. I think the reason is that Fed money to each state’s medicaide depends on the size of the state part of that state’s Medicaide contribution. If I am right about that, then of course all the Poor State’s political establishments would keep their State’s Medicaide as downfunded as possible to encourage all their poorest people to go to richer states for better Medicaide.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Who knew a website could cause inflation?

    According to the Venezuelan Central Bank, the website Dolartoday.com has been driving the country’s triple-digit inflation and currency devaluation by faking exchange-rate data.

    “Defendants are deliberately misrepresenting and effectively manufacturing a market — a phony, distorted market for the exchange of bolivares into dollars and vice-versa, with the aim of lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains,” the suit reads.

    The website’s owners say they don’t set the price of anything, that they simply report the exchange rate that’s being offered in Cúcuta, Colombia.

    On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Delaware handed the defense a short-term victory, saying the Central Bank had not provided sufficient evidence that harm had been done. But the court also gave the bank seven days to amend its complaint.


    How did Venezuela convince the white-shoe law firm Squire Patton Boggs to take on this hopeless case?

    A U.S. court can’t enjoin a U.S. website from reporting what’s happening in a border town in Colombia. If dolartoday.com didn’t exist, the news would still get out.

    “If you don’t rock me, somebody will.” — Rolling Stones

  14. Steve H.

    Would Destabilizing Lebanon Help Settle Down Syria?

    With Beirut about 50 miles from Damascus, probably not so much. Thanks, Turkey and you Saudi princes.


    (I have read varying stories about Israel. Wilkerson says a Jordanian royal told him every home in Jordan is housing refugees.)

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s often difficult for historians to put a date on the start of hostilities in a major war, my start date for WW III would be 9/11. Everything is proceeding swimmingly, we now have rebels backed by the CIA killing rebels backed by the Pentagon. A few years ago I suggested they eliminate the middle men, just have the US Army fight the US Air Force somewhere in Nevada, they can explode lots of ordinance, burn lots of petroleum, and keep lots of emergency and rehabilitation services flush with cash. And with any luck they would eventually wipe each other out.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Putin running for President again after being out of office. If World War III is the struggle against the empire and the move towards a multipolar world, Putin recognizing the West couldn’t be trusted after the Libyan fiasco.

        Too many people around the world put their faith in the idea that the GOP was an aberration which could be corrected.

        Part of the neocons ambitions was to destabilize enough countries and control certain economic routes and defense positions to prevent a multi-polar world. The New Silk Road essentially mothballs the U.S. fleet. In a way, these were just police actions and demonstrations of imperial power of its subjects. For a variety of reasons Russian and Chinese troops won’t be arrayed against American troops because most people barely recognize the end of history, imperial system.

        By running again, Putin announced Russia had withdrawn from the empire and declared Russia and by extension China international equals, and Moscow and Beijing have been driving to create counter organizations and new defense postures. Prior to Libya, Russia and China could abide the empire. It really wasn’t that bad, but wasting Gaddafi and destroying Libya after the deal he made to disarm meant the empire had to be opposed. Larvov has said very clearly the U.S. only sees vassals and enemies.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          During the Cold War the CIA fudged the figures to make believe the Soviet Union was an economic juggernaut, turns out they were more like Belgium plus vodka.
          I wonder if we aren’t doing the same today, GDP is small, oil revenues in the toilet, standard of living and life expectancies declining, they look really huge on a map but most of that is empty taiga with an old trapper living on it who wishes the good old Soviet days would return.

  15. steelhead23

    I suppose I should pony up the sawbuck to buy that NBER article on why USTs are so darned attractive. The proffered answer – that low risk investors have nowhere else to go isn’t very satisfying. Why aren’t AAA rated corporate bonds more attractive? I suspect there are two reasons. 1) With a very lackluster economy, there really aren’t that many high quality bonds out there, and 2) Folks have lost their faith in the ratings agencies and are turned off by corporate debts used to pay dividends and buy-back stocks. That is, the risk is higher than advertised. I also suspect that the Fed is continuing to purchase USTs to replace maturing ones purchased during QE, putting further downward pressure on yield (and skying price).

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Why aren’t AAA rated corporate bonds more attractive?’

      With only three AAA issuers — Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and ExxonMobil — there aren’t many to choose from. ExxonMobil is on credit watch for downgrade. Soon only two might be left standing.

      More importantly, in the past 12 months, 7 to 10-year Treasuries delivered a fat 5.62% total return, while the BofA Merrill Lynch corporate bond index fell 1.29%. The difference of 6.91% is almost two years worth of coupon income from corporates. Bond investors hate losing years.

      Of course if recession fears ease, corporates could rise up from their bed of nails and leave Treasuries biting their dust. Possibly the NBER article is a contrary indicator. The truly reckless could step in and buy junk bonds. They’ve taken an epic shellacking from mid-2014 on, but since Feb. 11th have bounced about 7 percent. Do you feel lucky?

    1. jrs

      I don’t know if there have been many jobs in pure chemistry since manufacturing went largely offshore, biochemistry on the other hand …

      That’s the thing about all the people told to go into STEM, pure science has always been a super hard field to find employment in, so it’s only some STEM they need to get into to do well. It’s a game which most people will not possibly know the rules, but merely hear a bunch of bleeting about how they should all be doing STEM, which of course is absurd anyway, but even those who can go that route may find it doesn’t lead where they expected.

      1. For The Win

        Quite a lot of demand actually. Just as an example, Most of the work in nano-particles is done by either Chemist or Physicist. The under-graduate system is already so pauce that most of the post-graduate students are from overseas to meet the demand, bright lads and lasses want to be quants on Wall Street. If the US social advantages and academic advantages both continue to decline, then most of that work will eventually also go overseas. UC Berk. probably is making a short term good for their CEO decision to get out of the not so profitable areas of undergrad academics, and will just outsource their development of future post graduates to Asia and Eastern Europe. I doubt they will cut the money maker R&D so quickly.

        30+ years go I went to Taiwan for university and then grad school in ChemE, because with the scholarships Taiwan offered me it was much cheaper than the study in the USA. I wonder if I was an early pioneer, that many brighter students from poor or ethnic backgrounds will leave. Now every time I visit universities in China, Japan, Singapore; I see a growing number of American post graduates students with US BA/BS degrees, (not so much in STEMS, but it’s picking up too). Many indicate they don’t expect to return to the USA because they can’t find meaningful work there; some find the racism in these parts of Asia less of an issue than the USA as well.

        Apparently US Universities management understand overseas students will not buck the system and will do slave labour for the promise of a future Green Card, so killing off the domestic undergraduate programs is killing off a distraction of little value to the money game.

  16. Daryl

    Pretty shocked that Travis County seems to be pro-Hillary so far. Can’t find a single county for Sanders, though Travis isn’t done and Harris hasn’t reported in at all yet.

    Gotta love those NW counties with 50 Democrats voting.

    Also. Glasscock County. 20% reporting in, 1 vote for Sanders, 0 votes for Clinton. If campaigns could find that one Democrat who’s voting, they could swing the whole county!

  17. ewmayer

    My vote for “premature pro-mud-wrasslin cage match anticipation headline of the day” goes to ZH, which reports – and I use the term very loosely – “Trump, Clinton Sweep Super Tuesday, On Collision Course For White House.”

    That’s right – Hillary doesn’t merely ‘dominate’ or ‘cement lead’, she ‘sweeps’. In other ZH news, Obama a muslim non-citizen; buy gunz & gold!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Bernie’s inability to dominate Clinton in Massachusetts (currently 51% Clinton, 48% Sanders with 64% of votes reported) is disturbing news for his campaign.

      Hillary taking the South is not surprising. Meanwhile, Bernie ought to be getting big wins in the northern tier — Massachusetts, Minnesota — but it’s not happening based on early data.

      Plan B is to pack federal grand juries nationwide with Bernie supporters and indict Hillary. Let’s roll!

      1. cwaltz

        It’s not that disturbing. In the list of states that he thought he could compete in Mass. was a toss up. It was never a sure thing.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Mass has always been a pit. Remember the great liberal hope was Liz Warren, who I suspect will lose many young supporters, was a lifelong Republican. Romney wasn’t a monster. The Democrats on the other hand until Kerry threw the system were basically mobsters or Kennedy mobsters.

          Billy Bulger was a player and only was forced out of public life when the FBI demanded he tell them where his brother was and people went, “hey, why does Bulger make 600,000 a year to visit one of the UMass schools once every month.

          Given the support for Bernie despite the establishment support for Hillary and Bill’s shenanigans today, the Democrats might give Trump a real shot. Warren is being trashed on twitter. She won’t save Team Blue with the youth anymore.

        2. Jim Haygood

          All of the Atlantic states from Virginia to Maine went for Obama in 2012, along with the upper midwestern and west coast states.

          Massachusetts ought to be prime Sanders territory, in the same way that Oklahoma supported Cruz from neighboring Texas.

          Hillary to Massachusetts: ‘You will be assimilated.’

          1. cwaltz

            Are you seriously comparing the guy who had over a million dollars in donations from Goldman Sachs employees to Sanders?

          2. Darthbobber

            Err…Massachusetts also borders New York, the state Mrs. Clinton represented in the Senate and which still claims to be her home. Why would proximity to both candidate’s bases of operations make it a “neighbor and a natural” for one and not the other?

      2. Daryl

        Looks like he’s doing well in Minnesota?

        Hey, why stop at indictment when impeachment is more fun…and there’ll be a GOP congress happy to go for broke!

        1. kj1313

          Bernie just won Colorado and Minnesota. Massachusetts within 2 points. Heh Rubio won the Minnesota caucus.

      3. optimader

        Plan B is to pack federal grand juries nationwide with Bernie supporters and indict Hillary. Let’s roll!
        Unfortunately the DOJ is packed from the top down.

        I am coming to the realization that it will require organic revulsion of Clinton, Inc. in spite of the politicization of the DOJ.
        It comes down to the voters to not make that internal justification of voting for an unindicted Felon.

        Maybe that will be possible with the growing unsettled sentiment I perceive this time around?

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        “Liberal Massachusetts” is a myth. Reporters come in on the Acela at South Station and go up to Cambridge on the Red Line (which was originally built with no stop for Roxbury, the black neighborhood), so they think Cambridge equals Massachusetts. It doesn’t. Think Louise Day Hicks.

        1. Darthbobber

          This comes from people who equate “reliably democratic at the presidential level” with “liberal.”

          And from Ted Kennedy. But Kennedy wasn’t like he was because he was from Massachusetts. He was that way because he was Ted Kennedy. Remember the busing riots in Southie back in the day?

          Its electorate is “sophisticated” by American standards. Lots of ticket-splitting at the state politics level depending on the mix of issues involved.

  18. none

    This tweet is a few days old but I just saw it, lol:

    Clinton has built a fascinating coalition: rich Wall St donors who benefit from inequality & black voters hit hard by that inequality.
    — David Sirota (@davidsirota) February 28, 2016

  19. kimsarah

    Forgive me if somebody else has mentioned this, but it seems every time I turned the channel to msnbc, the coverage was all Trump and the fascinating battle to knock him off. Very little coverage of Hillary vs. Bernie, a race I think has as much drama and side stories as the clown circus on the GOP side.
    Turning to CNN and Fox, at least they gave the Democratic race some token coverage.
    If I didn’t know any better, I might think the network is doing the DNC’s bidding to minimize Sanders and give Hillary a free pass through the primaries. Just an observation, and I’d be glad to be shown I’m wrong.

  20. Danny

    In case it hasn’t been noted in NC before


    “The California Supreme Court recently held that borrowers may have standing to challenge an assignment of a deed of trust in a wrongful foreclosure action where they assert that the assignment is void. The decision likely gives defaulted homeowners new avenues to defend against foreclosures and gives lenders more reason to closely scrutinize assignments, especially assignments of loans placed into securitized trusts.”

    This is pleasant news.

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