2:00PM Water Cooler 3/24/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“[T]he nation’s mayors—most of them Democrats, especially in the larger cities— remain overwhelmingly committed to free trade in general and the Trans-Pacific Partnership in particular” [Rob Brownstein, The Atlantic]. These Mayors are Clinton’s local surrogates. You can bet that if Clinton had changed her position on TPP in reality, that they’d be changing their tune.

“Regulations of Toxic Chemicals under TTIP” [ChemistryViews]. “‘The latest TTIP proposals would allow ‘regulatory cooperation’ to affect the implementation of EU chemical laws,’ says Baskut Tuncak, Senior Attorney, [Center for International Environmental Law]. ‘This is a serious threat to EU chemical laws and policies as the US continues to lobby against more protective EU standards.'”

“The U.S. government has made no secret of its interest in limiting the EU’s reliance on the Precautionary Principle in setting food, environmental and chemical safety standards” [Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy]. “Under that Principle, which is part of the EU’s foundational Treaty of Lisbon, when there is a possibility that a policy or action could harm human or environmental health but the science is uncertain, that action is avoided until there is more definitive scientific information.”


Arizona Debacle

Democratic insider reacts:

“How The March 22 Primary Elections Went Down” [Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight]. This is a live blog. If you want to see how deep in the tank for Clinton Silver is, count the mentions of problems at the polls in Arizona. Spoiler alert: Zero.

“The Election in Arizona Was a Mess” [Mother Jones]. “Whoever’s to blame, the net result was the same: thousands of people stood in line for hours, some of whom gave up and ended up not voting.” And we know who lower turnout benefits.

“Another ‘Disgraceful’ Day for Democracy, Heroic Day for Voters: ‘BradCast’ [BradBlog]. How I wish BradBlog had transcripts…

“Was There Election Fraud in Arizona? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know” [Heavy].

“Arizona is a massive fraud” [Reddit].

“AZ lawmakers to hold special hearing on elections fiasco” [KPNX]. Monday!

“What Does Early Vote Say About Who Will Do Well in Arizona?” [NBC]. It says that when you combine early voting with election fraud you bias the election toward establishment figures.

The Voters

“I was struck by the percentage of Republican primary voters that said they wouldn’t support Trump if he became the nominee: 17%” [The American Conservative]. That 17% is the voters Clinton and the Democratic Establishment both want. Not Sanders voters, the smelly proles and stupid Millenial #BernieBros.

“[W]ith massive increases in voter turnout that online voting yields, and bringing in hordes of people that did not vote previously in primaries like young people and minorities, it’s hard to imagine that incumbents could hold onto the lock that they have now” [WaPo]. And Internet voting can be made transparent how?

The Trail

“[A] Bloomberg Politics national poll found that Sanders is the first choice of 49 percent of those who have voted or plan to vote in this year’s Democratic contests, while the former secretary of state is preferred by 48 percent” [Bloomberg]. Clinton is a terrible candidate.

“This Tuesday, I changed my party registration from independent to Democratic so I can vote in Pennsylvania’s April 26 closed-party primary” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. Readers, check your own states if you have closed primaries, because deadlines are approaching! “Don’t let party elites and jaded insiders tell you that this race is already over or that your vote doesn’t count. But please vote — vote like there’s no tomorrow. The stakes in this 2016 election are just too damn high.” And a great reference to the Edwin Edwards slogan when he was running against David Duke: “Vote for the crook — It’s important!” Something to be said for that. Terrific column.

Pennsylvania: Clinton leads Sanders, 55 to 28 percent [Penn Live]. The primary is April 26.

“A survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Clinton leading Sanders, 48% to 41%. She held a 23-percentage-point lead among Latinos, who could make up about a third of the Democratic electorate in June. Among women, who are more than half the Democratic vote, Clinton led by 19 percentage points” [Los Angeles Times]. “To expand his reach in California, Sanders will need to energize independent voters, who have proven more embracing of his message in other states. Those voters can cast ballots; the question for Sanders is whether they will, on a broad enough scale to offset Clinton’s strength among Democratic Party loyalists.” California’s primary is June 7.

“Indeed, Latinos, who outnumber whites in the state, dominate California’s Democratic primary. And like with women and black voters, a generational divide exits, with many young minorities more willing to support Sanders” [Los Angeles Times]. Gee, there’s more nuance than “Sanders only appeals to whites.” Who knew? C

“While campaigning, Mrs. Clinton has directly addressed young voters, telling them that even if they don’t support her, she will support them” [Wall Street Journal, “Sanders Supporters at Colleges ‘Not Yet Interested’ in Joining Clinton Camp”]. Tranlation: Quislings will be richly rewarded (given that the Clintons are famous for never forgetting a slight).

“The Best Takeaways From Bernie Sanders’ Live Interview With The Young Turks” [Elite Daily].

“Donald Trump’s Tough But Plausible Path to Winning the White House” [Bloomberg]. “Trump’s unexpected success in the primary has revealed his uncanny ability to appeal to the fears of working-class Americans, which some Democratic and Republican operatives say could scramble the electoral map by putting in play Midwestern states that have voted Democrat in recent elections.”

“[M]aybe GOP voters simply don’t believe that there’s any way Clinton could beat Trump — let alone that she might defeat him decisively — since their leaders and media sources have told them for months that Clinton is a hopelessly flawed, widely despised candidate who is eternally on the verge of getting buried by a new revelation about Benghazi or her email arrangement” [WaPo].

The problem with #NeverTrump: You can’t beat something with nothing [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. Bai needs to learn his clichés!

Merrick Garland

“Judge Garland is just the kind of candidate we would have advised President Bush to nominate if he had been in this situation” [New York Times]. And: “AS the chief ethics lawyer in the White House Counsel Office, I helped President George W. Bush with the nomination and confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.” Like I said: Garland is about appealing to “moderate” Republicans.

“As Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland continued to make the rounds with Democratic senators this week, activists fanned out across the country to picket GOP lawmakers refusing to consider President Barack Obama’s choice” [Roll Call]. “Activists from Americans United for Change are planning to hold rallies outside events in Osceola and Lyon Counties next week as part of the #DoYourJob campaign.” Really has that organic feel, doesn’t it?

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, February 2016: “The manufacturing component of the industrial production report pointed to February strength but the durable goods report certainty isn’t. Orders fell 2.8 percent with the ex-transportation reading, which excludes the up-and-down swings of aircraft orders, down a very sizable 1.0 percent” [Econoday]. “And capital goods readings, which offer indications on business investment, are once again in the minus column.” Well, we have apps. Who needs durable goods when you can have selfies? And: “In January, it appeared orders were bottoming. In February, in part thanks to revisions, the rebound is gone. Manufacturing, it seems, will continue to struggle for a time” [FTN Financial, Across the Curve]. And: “And the downward spiral continues with sales falling faster than inventories” [Mosler Economics]. However: “The headlines say the durable goods new orders declined. The unadjusted three month rolling average improved this month and now is in expansion. Our view of this data is that there was an improvement this month” [Econintersect].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, March 2016: “Other regional reports have been picking up a sudden turn of strength this month, all except Kansas City where the index came in at minus 6 in March which is however an improvement from minus 12 in February” [Econoday]. “The weakness in the energy sector is still taking a heavy toll in the Kansas City region.”

PMI Services Flash, March 2016: “There’s not very many early indications on the service sector and the sample from Markit Economics is reporting only the most modest strength” [Econoday]. “The trend remains very soft with new orders at their weakest pace in data going back to 2009 and backlogs at an 8-month low.”

Jobless Claims, week of March 19, 2016: “Indications from the jobless claims report are all lining up for another month of solid strength in the employment report” [Econoday]. “Of special note! The latest reading for initial claims is the 55th straight under 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.”

Jobless Claims: A typically lucid post of Mosler. Important! [Mosler Economics]. “So if unemployment benefits are a lot harder to get than last time around, what does this mean for the macro economy?”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of March 20, 2016: “The Bloomberg consumer comfort index fell back 7 tenths” [Econoday].And: “The divergence between the consumer and business sectors that I have been highlighting for a while is patently obvious in this report. Consumer-facing categories, most notably autos, strengthened, while business investment categories were dismal” [Amherst Pierpont Securities, Across the Curve].

Commodities: “A commodity trader suing NewLead Holdings for breach of contract has made extraordinary allegations of stock manipulation, bank fraud and money laundering in a proposed amended complaint filed with the New York Supreme Court” [Splash247]. Not used to seeing a story like this on a shipping site…

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “Nearly $8 trillion of bonds globally have negative yields now, which has spurred fund managers from around the world to buy corporate debt in the U.S., where interest rates are positive.” [Bloomberg].

Bitcoin: “[W}e show that while bitcoin transfers themselves are relatively frictionless for the user, there are significant frictions when bitcoins trade in exchange markets resulting in meaningful and persistent price differences across bitcoin exchanges. These exchange-related frictions reduce the incentive of market participants to use bitcoin as a payments alternative” [Liberty Street]. “Bitcoins are strictly homogenous: a bitcoin bought on one exchange is identical to a bitcoin bought on any other exchange. Therefore, any price differences across major bitcoin exchanges should be promptly eliminated by arbitrageurs buying bitcoin where it is less expensive and selling it where it is more expensive, thus enforcing the law of one price. However, the charts below show large differences between the prices of bitcoin-U.S. dollar transactions on three major exchanges.”

The Fed: “[T]he dot plot offers a great representation of how much officials disagree. It says nothing about which of their views will prevail when the policy-making Federal Open Markets Committee forges a consensus” [Narya Kocherlakota, Bloomberg].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62, Greed (previous close: 70, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 24 at 11:32am. Back to mere greed?!

Police State Watch

More law enforcement for profit?

(Source here.)

Health Care

“How to Stop the Bouncing Between Insurance Plans Under Obamacare” [New York Times]. Single payer! Oh, wait…

Because of fluctuations in income, millions of Americans move back and forth between Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace, leading to significant health and financial costs for individuals, states and insurance companies.

This cycling across different forms of insurance is called “churning.” Churning is not a new phenomenon. In the past, people who rolled off Medicaid simply became uninsured. But now many who become ineligible for Medicaid become eligible for marketplace subsidies, and vice versa.

First, this is a function of ObamaCare’s system design; as soon as you send people to one of two systems based on an eligibility test based on income, this will happen, since — follow me closely here, Acela riders — working class income often fluctuates. Second, I remember very well, when ObamaCare was being launched, that the question of how “navigators” should advise people who were “on the bubble,” and the advice given was that they should just give whatever income figure worked out best for them (i.e., to lie, so the system has always been corrupt at its core). Third, why aren’t we just calling this “smart shopping,” instead of “churn”? And finally, all this was predictable and predicted (by me, among others), but only when numbers show up in budgetary figures does our 20% class deign to notice, years later; the lived experience of people trapped in this insane system simply isn’t a motivator.

“Currently, Medicare Part B pays providers based on a drug’s average sales price plus an additional 6%. The proposal will change this add-on payment to 2.5% plus a flat fee of $16.80. CMS also plans to implement value-based purchasing—or paying for drugs based on how well they work—for a limited number of prescription drugs” [AARP]. Interesting, but there’s a copy editing error: The negative sign in front of 2.5% is missing. And I think that decimal point might be in the wrong place, too.


“Ash dieback and beetle attack likely to ‘wipe out’ ash trees in UK and Europe” [Guardian]. “The loss of the ash, one of the most abundant tree species in the UK, would mean losing even more trees than the 15 million elms killed by Dutch elm disease in the 1970s. Ash is the most common hedgerow tree, with 60,000 miles of tree lines. It is the second most common tree in woodland, after the oak, and there are many ash trees in towns and cities.”

“Florida (where air conditioning drives the second highest energy consumption nationally) is quickly becoming the poster child for how utilities are using ethically incontinent lawmakers and a gullible populace to prevent solar power technology from reaching critical mass” [TechDirt]. Do we have any Florida readers who can expand on this?

“A new study that looks at recent outbreaks of measles and pertussis (otherwise known was whooping cough) suggests what many people have suspected all along: Many of them occur in areas where large numbers of people are unvaccinated on purpose” [The Atlantic]. “The new study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, examined 1,416 cases of measles and 32 pertussis outbreaks in the United States. Of the measles cases, 56.8 percent of the people who contracted the disease were unvaccinated, and of those, 70.6 percent were not vaccinated for non-medical reasons. Of the 12 pertussis outbreaks, 8 out of 12 had very high numbers — between 59 and 93 percent — of intentionally unvaccinated victims.”

Class Warfare

“Mocked and forgotten: who will speak for the American white working class?” [Chris Arnade, Guardian]. Good article with photographs that sadly remind me of when I worked in the mills, when there were mills. But please, please, please, could we just once have an article that focuses on “working class”, without the “white”? After all, the Corvette plant closing had a lot to do with making Ferguson what it is today.

“Everything you need to know about whether money makes you happy” [80,000 Hours]. “Recent surveys of hundreds of thousands of people in over 150 countries show that richer people report being more satisfied with their lives overall, but that the richer you become, the more money you need to increase your satisfaction further. This is because people spend money on the most important things first.”

“How quickly developers traded away the wide-open-spaces of the web for a walled castle with a monarch enforcing a 30% tax” [Joreteg]. That would be iOS and the Apple Store.

News of the Wired

“How one developer just broke Node, Babel and thousands of projects in 11 lines of JavaScript” [The Register]. True, but now seems to be fixed. “And that’s how JavaScript app development works in 2016.” But I’m glad none of those projects were running airplanes, or anesthesia machines, or nuclear power plants.

“Twitter taught Microsoft’s AI chatbot to be a racist *sshole in less than a day” [The Verge]. Be careful out there, people!

I am so excited for this severe threat looming on the horizon.” [The Atlantic]. “Don’t mind me, I’m just trying out a cognitive trick that’s supposed to help with anxiety. It’s called ‘anxiety reappraisal,’ and it boils down to telling yourself that you feel excited whenever you feel nervous. It sounds stupidly simple, but it’s proven effective in a variety of studies and settings.” Well, we all certainly have a chance to try out this tecchnique in 2016!

* * *

Readers, I still need to fix my fershuggeneh contact form! Hopefully noting that fact publicly will serve a lash and a spur to my endeavors. (Meanwhile, thanks to readers, who already have my email address, who sent in images of plants!)

See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (James H):


James writes: “One hyacinth, our last actually…” Time for spring flowers?! It’s still mud season!

* * *

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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. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, fixed. (Somewhere along the line OS X made copying and pasting subtly less reliable, hence errors like this (where I pasted the previously copied title instead of what I thought I was pasting, which was the URL, which had not copied. Of course, I’m not in the habit of checking because it used to be 100% reliable….)

  1. Jim Haygood

    No sooner than the Yellenites renewed their hopeful chattering about their idée fixe of rate hikes (“not far off,” said the St Louis Fed’s Bullard), the Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now went and turned down again. Today it registers a feeble 1.4%, compared to 2.3% just a couple of weeks ago.


    What’s a wrongfooted central planner to do? My advice would be “declare victory and go home.”

    1. RabidGandhi

      I say raise rates anyway. 1.4% growth is a spiraling path toward Zimbabwe style hyperinflation /sarc

      1. Jim Haygood

        How we miss the Phillips curve of our youth!

        QE was a cargo cult exercise, in the belief that if we paved the airstrip with fresh monetary base, the big 747s bearing inflationary prizes would arrive in glorious convoys.

        But to date, we wait in vain. The discredited FOMC priesthood have retreated glumly to their huts.

    2. Yves Smith

      I told you you were ahead of yourself crowing a few weeks back about that concurrent reading of 2.7%!

      It uses recent-yesr seasonal adjustment. Prior 2 Jans were cold with lots of snow in 2015. This Jan was super mild. So the seasonal adjustment was guaranteed to overstate the actual result.

      1. Skippy

        I saw a snip it off CNBC where one of Stiglitz new PhD associates was discussing their new methodology for GDP prints, seems to be more accurate and they noted the same as you above, w/ noting its wonkyness going back some way. Albeit some are slavish due to habit and not wanting to become, how should I say, perceived as inapt with historical overtones…

  2. hreik

    No matter what state you live in, check your status b/f your primary day. NY voter registration for their primary ends tomorrow and voters have reported being removed from the rolls or their party affiliation being tampered w. So please check. Pennsylvania residents also reporting issues.

  3. Blurtman

    “Indeed, Latinos, who outnumber whites in the state, dominate California’s Democratic primary. And like with women and black voters, a generational divide exits, with many young minorities more willing to support Sanders.”

    Didn’t know that there were no white people in Latin America.

    1. frosty zoom

      if you turn on the t.v. in latin america, you’d swear you were in sweden. not a brown person in sight.

      1. ambrit

        Yep. I was cautioned many years ago to not call a Latino an “Indio,” as this was a serious insult. One of my brother-in-laws hails originally from Spain. When my sister was dating him, all this in the Miami area, she told me he would get extremely angry if anyone called him a Cuban. Why? Because the Cubans were considered ‘mixed race’ by Spaniards.
        Such is culture, worldwide.

  4. dcblogger

    Arizona offers the model for how to steal the November election. Republican governors in OH, NJ. WI, and MI have only to cut the number of polling places by one half in urban areas and the states will fall into the Republican column.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s like limiting college admissions.

      “Dumb people need not apply.”

      But not-so-smart people actually benefit more from enlightenment.

      Oh, well.

    2. ambrit

      A Bernie counter strategy could be to supply chairs for the line sitters, and a snack cart to toil up and down the line. Just remember not to put any names or party symbols on the packaging; that would be illegal.

  5. Llewelyn Moss

    Donna Brazile, what a DNC Pathogen she is. Sitting on her fat butt on her comfy couch, whining about running out of Cheetos, while she ‘tsk, tsks’ voters for complaining about standing in line for 5 hours to vote.

    1. hreik

      lol. My comments are on delay b/c of moderation. HOpe this appears. Are y’all also being moderated. I’m not controversial. Just old

      1. Vatch

        My comments are occasionally submitted to the moderation queue. The likelihood of this increases when I include a link to a web site. Other times, the software detects some key words that are often indicators of trouble. It’s just something we need to live with here in the wild and woolly internet.

        1. optimader

          spending time in moderation means it was probably worth taking the time to write.. Think of it as time for the fountain pen ink to dry

        1. Jim Haygood

          The mod bot seems to especially dislike long, complex links.

          Sometimes an indirect tinyurl link will pass muster, when a direct link won’t.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Which of course breaks the Internet, since (a) the URL is no longer transparent and (b) the URL now only works so long as the for-profit firm used to decode it exists.


      2. Llewelyn Moss

        Yeah I do get sent to Skynet Moderation occasionally. I thought I figured out all the Skynet trigger words but sometimes Skynet just gonna be Skynet. Hahhaa.

        1. cwaltz

          You can’t consider yourself a regular poster until the moderation cue eats at least one of you posts.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            A few of my posts have been eaten up by the moderators and I don’t know why. Then I have more controversial posts which are posted with no problem.

      3. hreik

        okay, the links don’t post. Go to reddit and search on Sanders for President. There are reports of shenanigans in NY and PA voter rolls. Voters who registered being taken off or their party affiliation switched. Just be careful and if you live in NY and want to vote in the primary, you have to declare a party and register w that party by tomorrow.

      4. nobody

        It used to be that most of my comments would appear right away, and only occasionally suffer the moderation delay. But for several months now every single comment I make goes into moderation, whether or not there’s a link in it.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Well, there’s one thing you can do and that’s write a big fat check for 24/7 real time moderation, and maybe some custom coding to get Akismet under control. Of course, the opportunity cost there would be more reporting, right?

              There’s nothing we can do that we are not doing. So stop cluttering the thread with useless grousing.

              1. nobody

                I didn’t complain about moderation. The question was asked: “Are y’all also being moderated.”

                In response, along with several others, I reported my experience, for what it’s worth, which is fundamentally different than “My comments are occasionally submitted to the moderation queue” or “I have been moderated every time I include a link” or “I do get sent to Skynet Moderation occasionally.” For me, that’s how it used to be, whereas for several months now, dozens and dozens of times in a row, every single comment I make, without exception, goes through the moderation queue, no matter how short or long, how simple or complex, with or without links, with or without profanity, with or without italics or bolds or blockquotes… Perhaps I’ve stumbled upon the magical formula that is causing no comment to ever pass.

                (And if I had been grousing, writing a big fat check would not be a thing I can do. When I send in a check it’s a little skinny one out of my $9,000 annual income.)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Most of the comments on threads like this amount to figuring out ways to game Skynet by finding some magical formula that will cause all comments to pass.

          Unfortunately, behavior like that exactly replicates the behavior of spammers; not just multiple identical submissions, but the general system-probing methodology.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      That’s Donna Brazille, Gore 2000 Campaign Manager. She should be required by law to have to add this disclaimer before making any kind of utterance. Most Democratic “campaign strategists” are awful, but she’s a special kind of awful.

      1. TomD

        As bad as that campaign was, she’ll always be able to claim at least I’m not Mary Beth Cahill.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          curlydan’s comment reminded me Kerry brought on Bob Shrum.

          If Cahill had kept the usual losers away, she’d be a hero today.

          Kerry was decent in the primary.

      2. curlydan

        maybe Bob Shrum ghostwrites her tweets after getting approval from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz? There’s a lot of special kind of awful to go around in the upper echelons on the Democratic Party

      3. HotFlash

        I do remember hearing her on NPR waaaaaay back when, she was telling how her mother in FL was refused a ballot due to insuffic ID, fortunately had her electric bill with her and so was (grudgingly) permitted to proceed. Do I file that under “historical injustice” or “lessons learned”?

      4. Optimader

        Ha! Indeed. She sucks and should get a real job off the breakfalunchdinner cicuit.
        (Democrat inst it? She is certainly not a democratic advocate, quite the opposite!)

    3. Anne

      Yes, Donna Brazile, you are trying…very trying. Like, on-my-last-nerve trying. And my last nerve is getting kind of crowded these days – lots of people on it.

      Did not know this about Arizona, though, but I can’t say as I’m all that surprised:

      But Arizona has a long history of problems at the ballot box. Until 2013, the Grand Canyon State was one of 16 states required to clear all changes to voting law and procedures with the US Department of Justice, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because of its history of discriminatory and racist election practices. The two-part formula used to determine which jurisdictions would fall under the Department of Justice’s review process was created nearly 50 years before in 1965 and attempted to insure that the voting-age population actually was able to vote. The first criteria was if a jurisdiction had a “test or device” that restricted the opportunity to register to vote on November 1, 1964. The state would also be scrutinized if less than half of voting-age people in a jurisdiction were registered to vote, or if less than half of the voting-age population actually did vote in the presidential election of November 1964.

      The formula was ruled unconstitutional in the 2013 US Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder, in which an Alabama County lawyer argued that jurisdictions covered by Section 5 “must either go hat in hand to Justice Department officialdom to seek approval, or embark on expensive litigation in a remote judicial venue.” With the court’s ruling, Arizona (and the other states and jurisdictions previously covered by so-called “pre-clearance”) could make changes to voting laws and procedures without federal oversight. But in a state that took six years to adopt a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, is the home of controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Donald Trump supporter, and where SB 1070 required the police to determine a person’s immigration status when there was “reasonable suspicion” that they were in the country illegally, the difficulties in voting raised some concerns about darker motivations.

      From the MoJo article linked above.

    4. RUKidding

      If only more D-voters paid attention to see how their “betters” view them, it might be a good thing when Brazile tweets out her condescension to the low-life scum who enable her to lead the good life she does.

      Unfortunately, it’s only political junkies who see the reality behind the curtain.

      A big old raspberry to Brazile… yet again, for her arrogance. Phooey.

      1. Massinissa

        I kinda wish more working class Republicans had read that National Review article where the writer said all their poverty was their own fault and that they should all drop dead.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          There is a divide in the GOP. Plenty of Republican voters know how the Romney class sees them. Eric Cantor was ousted for a reason. Trump can attack Republican stalwarts and go up in the polls for this reason.

          They just have made an agreement with the Romney class against Democrats which has lasted because the Democrats went full yuppie. Without the sheepdogs and Mormon loyalty vote, an anti-Romney would have been the nominee in 2012. Graham, Jindal, Gilmore, and Kasich likely started as Jeb sheepdogs.

        2. Paul Tioxon

          Bruce Springsteen fans should tear this guy to pieces! It seems conservatives really hate his fucking guts, really, really and all before Obama was a glint in David Axelrod’s eye.

    1. cwaltz

      Really short superdelegate”my vote is worth thousands of times more than yours” Donna Brazile, you activist sorts should just be grateful we let you participate in the process at all.

  6. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Just a few factoids for any Bitcoin watchers (“litigation futures”).
    The network is run by “miners” and >80% of mining takes place in China. Currently two mining pools in China, controlled by two individuals, control >51% of the network, this means those two persons can collude and make the network do whatever they like today.
    87% of the volume of bank money being exchanged for Bitcoin is by Chinese exchanges.
    92% of all bank money to Bitcoin transactions globally are in Chinese yuan.
    Bitcoin is Chinese.

    1. Milton

      So what’s your point? I appreciate the no fuss transactions when I’m overseas. Try whipping out an AMEX and see all the charges you accrue.

      1. hunkerdown

        Whoever has the majority of processing power on the Bitcoin network can control the blockchain, add new entries to the ledger unilaterally, fork it, break it, etc. AMEX cards are positively friendly compared to a 0 BTC balance in your wallet or bounced transactions.

  7. polecat

    I am so hating my feckless betters!

    I’ve got a bad case of stickitothemaniosis….and if theburn doesn’t cure it by not getting the nom., then I just might have to acquire some trump antibodies !!

  8. Synoia

    Twitter taught Microsoft’s AI chatbot to be a racist *sshole in less than a day

    Now there’s an unexpected consequence of Artificial Intelligence. Mimicking the real intelligence (I use “real” lightly).

    Artificial Intelligence without a strong complement of Artificial Ethics looks like it will make a bad situation worse, by automating behaviors.

    Good luck with the codification of ethics into programming.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Just an extension of the ELIZA AI program from the 60s. Proles are still fooled into thinking it is human. Seri comes close to being useful, but she isn’t human either.

    2. Kfish

      It’s hilarious that the chatbot learned to be a racist jerk the same way real humans do – by imitating others in order to fit in.

  9. nippersdad

    I thought this was interesting:


    Haim Saban and Amal Clooney sharing a fund raising event for Hillary Clinton. When a human rights attorney and an avid supporter of violations of human rights get together to fund someone who wants to kill and/or oppress virtually everyone who stands in the way of regime change favoring globalist multinational conglomerates, you know you have gone down some kind of rabbit hole.

    1. nippersmom

      I’ve lost a lot of respect recently for a number of people I used to hold in fairly high regard, the Clooneys among them. They seem to fall into the category of those who believe actions and associations that are are untenable when engaged by Republicans are somehow acceptable when engaged by Democrats..

      1. petal

        I was thinking about this when I first saw about those two having a do for HC(sorry, I’ve gotten to the point where I cannot even type out her name anymore). Amal needs more clients, right? Best way to do that is keep supporting/creating the bad guys/govts. Lost any respect I had had for her or her husband.

      2. nippersnephew

        Yes, George kind of seems like Bono. Always lurking around the “good” causes (well, maybe not HRC) and saying the right things, but on further inspection it seems kind of shallow. Viggo Mortensen, on the other hand, seems like one smart, deep thinking dude.

        1. tegnost

          ok, now i always figured nipper was a dog or something…so nippersmom make sense but nephew? no please…don’t explain,,,,,,,,,,

          1. ambrit

            Sorry, though your idea as to what ‘nipper’ means in English English makes a perverse sense. When I was coming up, my parents both Londoners, a nipper was a child.

          2. pretzelattack

            it was also the title of a kind of miner’s assistant/dogsbody in a working mine, maybe the role was usually filled by kids in the coal mines.

            1. ambrit

              Ah! That does make sense. Child labour was one of the hallmarks of Robber Baron Capitalism. Now it will soon make a comeback.

              1. Procopius

                I thought the miner kids were called “breaker boys,” although I think little girls were also used. As young as six. Language is interesting. Wish I had a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary.

      3. Ulysses

        “They seem to fall into the category of those who believe actions and associations that are are untenable when engaged by Republicans are somehow acceptable when engaged by Democrats”

        Very well said!

    2. RabidGandhi

      Book recommendation: James Peck, Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-opted Human Rights.

      Peck makes a very convincing, painstakingly documented argument that most “human rights defenders” in the West (eg, HRW, Clooneys) are utterly unconcerned with human rights and are only concerned with helping washington attack its enemies. At best they are the useful idiots of empire, at worst they are Pravda style apologists.

  10. Goyi Marquez

    I’m pretty sure California is a closed primary. We’re planning on registering Democrat after a lifetime as Republicans so we can vote for Bernie.

    1. jrs

      It’s technically a semi-open primary which means if you are independent of a political party you can request a Dem ballot in the mail (safest) or on the day of the election. I’m not sure how it works if you are registered with a different party already though, maybe you do need to reregister. But independents can vote for Sanders if they request a Dem ballot without re-registering.

      It seems there is remarkable ignorance of how this work in CA, that’s what Sanders team should get on if they want to win CA.

      1. aab

        More specifically, in California this June, you can vote in the Democratic primary if you are a “Decline To State” AKA “No Party Preference” voter. (Or if you are registered Democrat.)

        That is NOT the same as being a registered Independent (which is an actual, right wing party here).

        Every election, the parties notify the California Secretary of State if they will allow NPP voters to participate in their primary. This year, for example, the Republican Party will NOT allow NPP voters to vote in their primary.

        I actually called the Registrar’s office today and was told they were swamped with questions. This, for a primary that doesn’t happen until June. I was placed on hold several times, and the supervisor was called over to tell the person I was talking to exactly what to say – I could actually hear him murmuring it in the background.

        I think what happened in Arizona has penetrated general public awareness despite the MSM silence. What this means going forward, I have no idea. The California Democratic Party has apparently been VERY aggressive in blocking progressive candidates here.

        1. Jeff W

          More specifically, in California this June, you can vote in the Democratic primary if you are a “Decline To State” AKA “No Party Preference” voter. (Or if you are registered Democrat.)


          To vote in the Democratic Primary in California on June 7:

          You have to be registered as a Democrat or a “No Party Preference” (previously “Decline to State”).

          If you are registered as “No Party Preference” you have to request a Democratic party ballot (you can do so at the polls or if you vote by mail, in the same application where you request a vote-by-mail ballot). If you don’t make that request, you’ll be given a non-partisan ballot which will not contain the names of the Democratic candidates.

          If, at the time of the primary, you are registered as anything else (e.g., Republican, Green, American Independent, Peace and Freedom, Libertarian) or, if you are not registered, you cannot vote in the Democratic primary in California.

          You can register if you are not registered or re-register to change your party preference (it’s the same process); the deadline to do so for the June primary is May 23, 2016. (You can easily (re-)register to vote in California online here.)

    2. HotFlash

      I thank you, my children thank you, my granddaughters thank you, and as for my yet unborn great-great grandchildren, that goes without saying.

  11. RP

    I’ve never cared so much about a house democratic primary for a seat from Florida, but damn do I want Canova to excise the cancer that is Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

  12. ScottW

    For people who rate Hillary better than Bernie on Foreign Policy, the question is how can you reach that conclusion? She voted for the Iraq war with enthusiasm. She urged Obama to bomb Libya, now a hotbed for terrorist activity. She supported terrorists invading Syria and supported the CIA running of weapons from Libya to them. She wanted ground troops in Syria and criticized Obama when he resisted. She did nothing to thaw relations with Iran and will put them back into the deep freeze with her over the top pro-Israel allegiance. She supported the coup in Honduras. She backed selling $60 billion in arms to the Saudis. The list goes on and on.

    She is a war hawk–probably to the right of Trump. She believes bombing and destruction solves problems. She is very dangerous.

    She is a very scary candidate who has proven she has no business taking residence in the White House.

    1. frosty zoom

      Infirm of purpose!
      Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead
      Are but as pictures: ’tis the eye of childhood
      That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
      I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal;
      For it must seem their guilt.

      1. Jim Haygood


        Submit to the sting of the Hildaborg.

        The enzymes in her venom will digest you quickly and humanely.

        She eats what she kills.

          1. Jim Haygood

            THE THING IN VAT 4… The sight that met my eyes was one of the most horrible I have ever looked upon.

            Something had evidently gone wrong with the culture medium, and instead of individual synthetic women being formed, there was a single huge mass of animal tissue emerging from the vat and rolling out over the floor.

            Human parts and organs grew out of it, a leg here, a hand there, a head somewhere else: and the heads were mouthing and screaming. It could go on growing until it engulfed the building, the city… and perhaps all of Barsoom …. unless it were destroyed.


    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Ignorance. Stupidity. Some are just into the 21st century colonialism. American exceptional ism is the new white man’s burden.

    3. neo-realist

      A lot of misguided Americans conflate hawkishness with competence/expertise and restraint with naivete.

  13. frosty zoom

    so i check out this donna brazile lady. what a winner!

    campaigns of jesse jackson, walter mondale, dick gephardt, al gore.

    that’s advice no one should scorn.

    hey, maybe she can be lady dollary’s vp!


    1. Massinissa

      I actually dont mind Jesse Jackson, but Walter Mondale and Al Gore? Faaaaiiil.

      I dont even know who Dick Gephardt even is.

      EDIT: I looked him up. I wish I didn’t. He was the sleaziest of the bunch.

    2. sd

      Donna Brazille was a member of the right wing group Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Chuck Schumer was also a member. Both may still be members for all I know.

  14. Benedict@Large

    One thing about the AZ polls I noticed that no one else (that I’ve seen anyways) has commented upon. Aren’t the news organizations required by law to not start providing voting results until all the polls have closed? Now, my understanding of “closed” in that context (and in the intent of the law) is that all votes that are going to be cast have been cast. (The intent is to not discourage voters waiting to vote with preliminary results.)

    Yet in Phoenix, polls “closed” (and results start shortly thereafter) when voters stopped being allowed to get in line to vote, with some people not actually voting until around midnight. Polls technically closed at 7 PM (I believe), but did not legally close until midnight, and yet results started to be broadcast shortly after 7 PM, in violation of the law.

    This is not an insignificant point. These networks are so dying to kiss the Clintons’ ass that they broke the law (significantly) to do so. It would be nice to bag a few network execs in Joe Arpaio’s pink jumpsuits both to slow these clowns down, and to educate them as to prison conditions in some parts of the country.

    1. bob

      I don’t believe it was ever “law”. I seem to remember that it was an “agreement” at the federal (national) level.

      This is down and dirty state level, precinct level politics. There are probably a dozen people in AZ who know the “law” around it. It’s likely not even law, but policy put forward by state R or D’s.

    2. Jim Haygood

      I took a screenshot of NYT’s live AZ primary report at 11:09 ET (8:09 MST), showing 114,186 votes for Hillary, 67,059 for Bernie, and 4,393 for Other.

      These initial results, reported all at once just after the polls closed, were from Maricopa County. Yet the NYT identified “1 of 1,322 precincts” reporting — obviously wrong, even with only 60 polling stations.

      Could have been an error on NYT’s part, but it caught my eye because NYT had accurate precinct counts in, for example, Michigan.

      AP called the election for Clinton a few minutes later, after several other counties had reported.

  15. twonine

    RE: Ash die back in UK.

    The emerald ash borer wasn’t in Maine as of July 2015 but was within 30 miles in MA & NH.

  16. hunkerdown

    Conscientious automated testing is a strong norm in the Node.js/npm community. Many maintainers strictly refuse to integrate changes into the master unless they come with new test cases for the new functionality and all tests pass — it’s worth cruising npm project pages and watching for the continuous-integration status badges. So, disappearing dependencies got found and fixed quickly. Dog bites man.

    Of course, had kik not assumed they were a righteous Exception to the first-come-first-served rule and not sent a strongly worded letter to the author, none of this would have happened and npm would be none the poorer for it today. (Exit, voice and loyalty stuff.)

      1. hunkerdown

        According to this GitHub issue workarounds were available within half an hour and a complete fix in just under two. That’s not bad for an unanticipated hazard like that. I even learned some new things about calling out versions in npm dependency manifests correctly.

        In a comment to that issue, Isaac Schlueter of npm, Inc. wrote a take on the situation which I think the present commentariat would appreciate:

        The problem is reliance on other people.

        If you rely on other people — for literally anything — then you can be surprised when they act in ways that you didn’t predict.

        That goes for relying on other peoples’ servers, their code, their ability to show up to their jobs on time, etc.

        The only way to never be surprised or inconvenienced by other people is to not rely on other people for anything. And none of us are about to do that.

        This problem was identified and then fixed in minutes. This isn’t an example of the small modules philosophy breaking; it’s an example of it working.

        And Isaac’s post mortem report alleges less downtime than that. Would that we could get this sort of honesty on a regular basis from our meatspace overlords!

  17. Katniss Everdeen

    Poor little Will Bunch. Preemptively assuaging his progressive, american guilt with stupid journalistic constructs like “a vote is not the same thing as an endorsement.” A “distinction” he claims will be “lost on some readers.” Gee, ya think?

    But he’s got KIDS. And they’ll have KIDS. And Donald Trump’s a “celebrity fascist.”

    I’m sure Berta Caceres’ children, and all the children of the Bertas yet to be murdered, can appreciate his angst-ridden dilemma.

    People of the world take heart. Will is going to PRAY that someone will come along to take out hillary clinton. Four long years from now.

    In other words, next time.

  18. JohnB

    For a long time, I’ve had the mistaken view, that because all money is derived from debt, and that all debt carries interest, that the total stock of debt in the whole economy, would forever grow exponentially beyond the stock of money (and that this was a leading contributor to economic cycles) – I’ve been debating this elsewhere, and finally see how I was mistaking stocks and flows here.

    Steve Keen did a good article on this last year, which I didn’t see linked on NC – it would be good to link this now, because I think quite a lot of people have bought into this myth – it’s a bit deceptive and easy to be drawn into, even if you’re very smart:

    Should be shared far and wide I think, to draw debate on and bust that myth.

    Linked from web archive, as it bypasses Forbes ad-blocker-blocker :)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Congress is too dysfunctional. The bailout era is over. The collective bailouts barely passed in 2008 when the real economy was much better and the election was largely not in doubt. Could Coleman have passed Franklin if things went differently? Yes, and maybe a few House races would have changed, but the Democrats still would have won the White House and larger majorities.

      Any company in need of a bailout is done.

  19. Cry Shop

    Florida and solar. Not quite on topic, but Florida is one of those states where it makes perfect sense to use solar on the roof, you get both power and reduced solar heating of the house through the roof space. Most of the power demand is daytime as well for the same reason, so “well rectified” solar ac could help with both peak lopping and voltage stability.

    However Disney and the few other “big” users already got “off” the grid, and actually have an incentive to keep everyone else stuck to it. That way the local retail users have to pay to support the infrastructure, power to all the hotels, traffic lights, restaurants, etc; that feed in the chumps traveling through the state to dump their savings into the money making machines. The only way then for Florida to get solar is if they build big developments so the Grid can collect it’s profit and the social tax like AZ. The economics of solar vs combined cycle machines with cheap natural gas kill that option. Have to give AZ some kudos for not letting the Casinos walk away quite so easy, though perhaps it’s simply the political bosses waiting for their shakedown to pay off in their overseas accounts.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’d love rooftop solar for my FL home. It is just prohibitive. And of course Duke Power, about which volumes I would love to link here (inviting disappearance) have been written describing their evil awfulness, and the other big utilities, are well insinuated into the corruption that we call “government” here. Would like to link to articles about Governator Scott’s rigging of the “Public ?Utilities ?Service Commission,” but again Skynet…

      One story that catches a lot of what these barstids are up to is here, from Mother Jones: “Are Big Power Companies Pulling a Fast One on Florida Voters?” Purely rhetorical question, of course, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/03/florida-solar-amendment-utility-companies-electricity

      And there’s this bit too: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/08/florida-utilities-working-crush-nascent-solar-industry/

      The “State’s Greatest Newspaper,” that brought you the long-running scam known as “Politifacts” and trades on decades of former decency as a real “paper of record,” has dang-all little to say about the rackets, on accounta the editorial folks are all about Markets and all that, but here: “Florida utilities say solar doesn’t work in the Sunshine State, but it sure does in Georgia,” http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/florida-utilities-say-solar-doesnt-work-in-the-sunshine-state-but-it-sure/2215830 And of course Duke and the rest are all about building (and via horsehead-in-the-bed “offers you can’t refuse”, acquisition of working solar plants and projects) Big Solar that can of course be RENTED. http://fcir.org/2015/04/03/in-sunshine-state-big-energy-blocks-solar-power/

      So I am planning to at least build and install a solar water heater, like the one on the house across the street that was installed by a fellow 20 years ago and is still working fine to cut energy use for the widow who still lives there on her Social Security. My little part.

      (I would also like to have my own water well, but The Law says I MUST use city water because billing/rents and the sewer charges are computed off water use. So I can spend $6500 for the well, power the pump with solar, but only use the water to irrigate my dry plantings and wash my truck… and “they” can detect of you are, Mon Dieu!, washing your clothes and dishes and such… I am worried that I will get dinged for collecting and using roof runoff to water my little kitchen garden, and the butterfly garden my wife has built in our back yard…)

      Off to moderation!

      There’s a ton more stuff on the corruption that is keeping just one little part of what it will take to keep us humans from crapifying ourselves out of our only living space, but Skynet… (And I would note that the Rentiers are now invading the solar retail Market and crapifying and monetizing and financializing THAT, too. “Resistance is Futile! But Resistance Is Mandatory!”)

        1. JTMcPhee

          For Monarchs, there’s this guide, http://dupageforest.com/monarch_waystation/ milkweed, a variety of nectar-producing and munchable plantings. Ours covers about 150 sq. ft. A whole ecology, caterpillars eating leaves and eaxh other, anoles helping themselves, wasps grazing, fly species injecting their eggs into the larvae, birds and squirrels taking their cut, and those most profligate and colorful flutterbys seeming to come up and circle my wife’s face as if they are saying thanks to their generous Queen.

          The plantings are part of a general “peace of mind garden” we both delight to enjoy. Maintenance is nothing special, weed and mulch, water and fertilize, replace the annuals and prune where it seems needed. Here is one among many guides on how to: http://www.njaudubon.org/SectionBackyardHabitat/CreateaGarden.aspx

          Walmart and Amazon peddle “butterfly garden kits,” also — crapified, of course.

  20. bwilli123

    V. P. Haran served as India’s Ambassador to Syria from 2009 until 2012. He speaks to Fountain Ink on how sections of the media exaggerated the uprising as well as signs that al-Qaeda was a game player since the early days of the conflict.

    Do you recall the first protests in 2011?

    By February, when Bahrain experienced protests, there were attempts by some NGOs to organise protests in Damascus. Two had been organised over two weekends but hardly 20-30 people turned up. The number of journalists and members from the diplomatic community was far greater than the demonstrators. Then March 18, 2011 happened when the children wrote on the walls of the school and then there was a big protest. The following week there was a protest in Latakia and then with each passing Friday something happened.

    Soon parts of Latakia, Homs and Hama were chaotic but Aleppo remained calm and this troubled the opposition greatly. The opposition couldn’t get the people in Aleppo to rise up against the regime so they sent bus loads of people to Aleppo. These people would burn something on the streets and leave. Journalists would then broadcast this saying Aleppo had risen.


    1. Cry Shop

      That is a great article, and fits what I hear from some of the upper middle class refuges came to East Asia, bringing their skills with them. May of them felt Assad family was a necessary evil, and not terribly evil at that. To sum up what they seemed to be telling me, the benefit of having a dictator who’s power base comes from a small minority group is he can’t afford to alienate too severely any segment of the population, and plays an important role in arbitrating conflicts between the larger ethnic groups. As one of them said, “Assad’s a crook, but much nicer than the bastards you have running Washington.”

  21. allan

    The AZ debacle has now hit the front page of the NYT.
    Not that it will do the disenfranchised voters any good.
    Nor their candidate.

    Thank you, DNC, for deep-6-ing the 50-state strategy
    and thank you, O, for dismantling OFA. Heckuva job.

  22. tony

    “Activists from Americans United for Change are planning to hold rallies outside events in Osceola and Lyon Counties next week as part of the #DoYourJob campaign.” Really has that organic feel, doesn’t it?

    It’s probably astroturf, but more importantly, why should the Republicans care either way? The protestors won’t use violence, or harass them in their home, they are Dems so they can’t deny money, votes or support.

    ‘If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.

    In fact, every protest takes away millions of dollars worth of resources, mostly in labour, from the Dem base, while costing nothing to the GOP.

  23. Left in Wisconsin

    I wasn’t here yesterday but I would just like to commend you for a particularly outstanding water cooler. And this comment is perfect, applicable to so many issues:

    And finally, all this was predictable and predicted (by me, among others), but only when numbers show up in budgetary figures does our 20% class deign to notice, years later; the lived experience of people trapped in this insane system simply isn’t a motivator.

Comments are closed.