2:00PM Water Cooler 3/30/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“A massive leak of confidential documents has for the first time exposed the true extent of corruption within the oil industry, implicating dozens of leading companies, bureaucrats and politicians in a sophisticated global web of bribery and graft” [The Age].

After a six-month investigation across two continents, Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post can reveal that billions of dollars of government contracts were awarded as the direct result of bribes paid on behalf of firms including British icon Rolls-Royce, US giant Halliburton, Australia’s Leighton Holdings and Korean heavyweights Samsung and Hyundai. The investigation centres on a Monaco company called Unaoil, run by the jet-setting Ahsani clan.

Corruption in oil production – one of the world’s richest industries and one that touches us all through our reliance on petrol – fuels inequality, robs people of their basic needs and causes social unrest in some of the world’s poorest countries. It was among the factors that prompted the Arab Spring.

Well worth a read. HuffPo has the same story:

By aiding the corruption of already-distrusted regimes and accelerating the flow of money and resources out of poor countries, Unaoil and its partners were risking far more than fines and criminal penalties. They were creating political instability, turning citizens against their governments, and fueling the rage that would erupt during the Arab Spring — and be exploited by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Companies and individuals pay at least $1 trillion in bribes to public sector officials annually, according to an estimate by Daniel Kaufman, a governance expert with the World Bank Institute.

So the bezzle, globally, is at least a trillion dollars? And:

The Unaoil emails don’t show corrupt third-world kleptocracies shaking down helpless Western corporations. They show the opposite: Unaoil, working for Western companies, is seen slowly corrupting foreign officials, starting off with small gifts and shopping sprees and eventually hooking them on major graft.

Would be interesting to see if there’s any material pertaining to this in the half of her emails that Clinton has not exposed.



“In a nutshell: Judging by the past, Hillary Clinton, just like most Republicans, will most likely support importing more cheap labor to displace more American workers — and further depress domestic wages — with more guestworker visas. Whereas, Bernie Sanders would not” [Economic Popullist].

The Voters

“US election 2016: The 40-year hurt” [BBC]. ” What we are seeing is the continuation of a disintegration that began 40 years ago. But very few people understood that an epochal change had taken place in the American economy. GDP would grow. Income wouldn’t. Median salaried workers’ wages stagnated. Those working low-wage jobs saw their incomes decline. As for job security, a perfect storm of automation, declining union power, and free-trade agreements put an end to that. People who had been brought up to do as their parents had done wouldn’t be able to do those things, they wouldn’t even be able to live in the valley or towns surrounding the factories because there was very little work. A great migration south-east and south-west got underway, although “great diffusion” would be just as accurate a phrase.”

Happy days are here again

“Donald Trump has dominated the Republican primaries despite a weakness that could prove damaging in a general election: He is losing many of the populous suburbs where the battle for the White House is often won and lost” [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump’s Weakness in Big Suburbs Could Hurt Him in November “]. “nonpartisan analysts say that Mr. Trump may have driven away a meaningful number of Republicans with an antiestablishment, anti-immigration message that has energized working-class voters but drawn skepticism in the suburbs, where voters tend to have higher incomes and higher levels of education.” And those are the “moderate” Republicans Clinton wants.


Any article that includes the phrase “politicians like poor Steve Israel” should either cause you to laugh hysterically or fill you with lurking fear [Bloomberg]. Given that the article is about an algorithm, pioneered by the Obama 2008 campaign, that mines social networks for campaign contributions (think Amway), I’m going with Door #2.

The Trail

“Next week is the Wisconsin primary and the Clinton campaign seems to be bracing for another loss. Mrs. Clinton flew home from Wisconsin on Tuesday night and it’s not clear she’ll be back before the primary” [Wall Street Journal, “Bernie Sanders Targets Hillary Clinton’s Superdelegates”].

New York debate, Monday: “‘I think the real question is what kind of campaign is Senator Sanders going to run going forward,’ opined [Clintion Chief Strategist] Benenson. ‘Senator Sanders doesn’t get to decide when we debate, particularly when he’s running a very negative campaign against us. Let’s see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we’ll talk about debates'” [Salon]. Call the whaaaambulance! And in only 24 hours comes the flipflop–

New York debate, Tuesday: “Responding to calls from rival Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton is “perfectly willing” to debate him in New York, her press secretary said on Tuesday” [Bloomberg]. Unfortunately, the New York primary is April 19, so Debbie Wasserman Schultz can’t schedule the debate opposite the Game of Thrones Season Six premier on April 26. But I’m sure she’ll come up with something!

“Bernie Sanders has Hillary Clinton right where he wants her” [Robert Borosage, Reuters]. “Sanders still has a shot. His support is growing, his opponent is increasingly unpopular and his supporters will finance his race. No regular candidate would leave the race in such a position. … Meanwhile, Clinton, the prohibitive favorite backed by virtually all the gatekeepers, big donors and skilled campaign operatives, isn’t exactly sealing the deal. More than half of all voters view her unfavorably; only Republican front-runner Donald Trump ranks worse. No one else in a presidential campaign has come close to those negatives since CBS polling began asking the question in 1984.”

The Democratic Party that isn’t:

“A Bernie Sanders Supporter Confronted a Superdelegate — Then Leaked Their Private Conversation” [US Uncut]. The party decides. Until it doesn’t.

“The iron-willed insistence of so many politicians and sitting lawmakers already in the Hillary camp to not budge from their support of the Democratic front-runner speaks volumes to the difficulty faced by the Sanders campaign — or any political outsider — in securing the nomination” [New York Daily News]. ” In spite of Sanders winning 15 states — including some by an 80%-20% margin — over 94% of the 498 superdelegates have said they are backing Clinton.”

“Once Ms. Wasserman Schultz was appointed DNC chair in 2011, the relationship [with Obama] began to sour. ‘Shortly after becoming chairwoman, she pushed hard for a meeting with the president that she kicked off by complaining that she had been blocked from hiring the daughter of a donor—who’d been on staff in her congressional office—as a junior staffer to be the DNC’s Jewish community liaison,’ wrote Edward-Isaac Dovere for Politico. ‘Obama summed up his reaction to staff afterward: ‘Really?'” [Observer]. Stay classy, Debbie!

“Can Trump become so unpopular that Democrats take back the House?” [WaPo]. This reads to me like a lot of strategists talking their books, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t actually happen.

“Donald Trump, Revoking a Vow, Says He Won’t Support Another G.O.P. Nominee” [New York Times]. I don’t think any of the Republican candidates believed the RNC’s silly “vow.”

“Complicating attempts to understand him is his insistence that his public persona isn’t the same as his private one. ‘I think I’m somewhat different. I’m a much nicer person than people would think, to see me from the outside,’ Trump says” [People]. “‘On the one hand you might see that as bad. But on the other hand you don’t want people to know you that well.'”

Clinton Email Hairball

“Second judge says Clinton email setup may have been in ‘bad faith'” [Reuters]. Yikes. “Bad faith” is not the sort of idea you want to put into a judge’s mind.

The Hill

“The House Freedom Caucus has already changed the direction of Congress this year, derailing — at least temporarily — a House GOP budget that conservatives argue spends too much. Now they have a new target in sight: the lame-duck session” [HuffPo]. Awesome! No TPP. Truly, the Freedom Caucus is doing the Lord’s work.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of March 25, 2016: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose by 2 percent in the March 25 week, with the year-on-year increase continuing very strong at 21 percent” [Econoday]. “Though not weak, the report does little to raise hopes of an awakening of the recently quite dormant housing market.”

ADP Employment Report, March 2016: “Little else may be falling into place but the U.S. labor market is likely to show its strength once again in Friday’s March employment report, based at least on ADP’s private payroll count which came in very near expectations at 200,000 on the nose” [Econoday]. “ADP isn’t always an accurate barometer of the government’s data but it has definitely been useful the last several reports, signaling convincing acceleration in December, slowing in January, then strength again in February.” And: “The rolling averages of year-over-year jobs growth rate remains strong but the rate of growth continues in a downtrend (although unchanged this month)” [Econintersect].

“Boeing says it will cut more than 4,500 jobs” [Reuters]. “The job cuts, which will include hundreds at executive and managerial positions, will not done through involuntary layoffs.”

Shipping: “Bulk carrier demolitions reached an all-time high during the first quarter of 2016, both on an absolute basis and as a percentage of the live fleet, new research from Deutsche Bank says” [Splash247].

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “Anyone buying this bond should submit their urine for analysis” [Across the Curve]. Irish debt with 100-year maturity, sold by Goldman Sachs International Bank and Nomura International.

The Fed: “A gauge of global equities erased losses for the year, emerging-market currencies headed for the best month since 1998 and the dollar slumped after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reasserted the central bank’s gradual approach to raising interest rates” [Bloomberg]. So part of the Fed’s dual mandate is goosing Mr. Market? I had no idea!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71, Greed (previous close: 68, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 30 at 11:30am.

Health Care

“Patients in Obamacare are sicker and need significantly more medical care than those in employer-sponsored plans, according to a new Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report” [CNN]. BCBS, but it does make intuitive sense. “[Insurers] also want the federal government to clamp down on the so-called special enrollment periods, which are intended to allow those under going life changes — such as marriage or job loss — to apply for coverage after open enrollment has ended. Insurers say that people are abusing the system, signing up only when they get sick.” In other words, citizens consumers are treating our insane health insurance system as if it were a sane single payer system. And this is perceived as a problem.

“[Ransomware] is a particular type of nightmare scenario for health-care providers because more and more of them rely on electronic medical records to keep things up and running” [WaPo]. “”Health care is a bit unique in that up-time is really important,” said [Ben Johnson, co-founder and chief security strategist at cybersecurity Carbon Black], which means providers may be more likely than other targets to pay quickly so they can get back to work.” Nobody could have predicted….

“Columbia, Maryland based MedStar Health reported malware had caused a shutdown of some systems at its hospitals in Baltimore” [Ars Technica]. “March has not been a good month for hospital IT. Last week, staff at Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Kentucky paid a ransom to restore the hospital’s systems, reportedly of $17,000—though sources familiar with the episode say the hospital paid much more. And in California, two hospitals operated by Prime Healthcare Management, Inc. were forced to shut down systems. The Prime ransomware attack also caused disruptions of service at several other hospitals and at affiliate care providers as shared systems were taken offline”

“Big shift nears: Tips for using privatized Medicaid” [Des Moines Register]. Yes, Obama’s HHS went ahead and allowed Iowa’s Republican governor to privatize the delivery of Medicaid Services.


“[B]etween 340 and 620 litres of water are used for every litre of soft drink produced, about 20% of that related to packaging” [Nature].

“How New York Gets Its Water” [New York Times]. A splendid explainer. “Thanks in part to the geology of the Catskill Mountains, which have very little limestone rock, the city’s water contains low levels of bitter-tasting calcium.As a result, New York has delicious bagels and pizza crust.” And: “Water usage has actually decreased more than 30 percent since the 1980s. Modern toilets, faucets and showerheads use less water. The city has also hunted down and fixed leaks in water mains.”

“[E]vidence about the declining water levels and waning health of the 2,500km (1,553 miles)-long Ganges, which supports a quarter of India’s 1.3 billion people, is mounting” [BBC]. “The three-month-long summer is barely weeks away but water availability in India’s 91 reservoirs is at its lowest in a decade, with stocks at a paltry 29% of their total storage capacity, according to the Central Water Commission. Some 85% of the country’s drinking water comes from aquifers, but their levels are falling, according to WaterAid.”


“Uncertainties around reductions in China’s coal use and CO2 emissions” [Nature].

Guillotine Watch

“Sherpa: Norbu Tenzing on the Everest ‘circus’ and the inevitability of another disaster” [Guardian]. Tenzing: “[Climbing Everest is] just a total service industry, where you’re fulfilling the egos of western climbers and people from south Asia who want to test the limits of how close they can get to death, at great expense of the Sherpas. I don’t think my father would want to be alive to see the circus that Everest has turned into.” See also Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

Class Warfare

“[U]nions, which typically fight for cost of living increases, are continuously under attack in the tech sector. Prominent anti-union voices in tech include BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, who has said that while he supports unions in principle, “I don’t think that it’s the right idea for us,” and Paul Graham, cofounder of startup incubator Y Combinator, who tweeted in November 2015 that “industries afflicted by unions are sclerotic and so have left lots undone.” Uber, Amazon, and Apple, among other companies, have also engaged in efforts to squash attempts at unionization, often by claiming that their workers don’t need unions at all. This pushback is dangerous for the laborers who make the tech sector’s profits possible” [Quartz].

“When vacant house fell in West Baltimore, a retiree was crushed in his prized Cadillac” [Baltimore Sun]. A “leaning” rowhouse, undemolished, collapsed; what a waste of a good person’s life. Say, why don’t we “innovate” so that stuff like this doesn’t happen?

“The failed socialist utopian dream that helped Dallas [!!] become a major city” [PRI]. Reunion Tower is named for “La Réunion, a colony of European socialists who settled across the river from Dallas — then a shabby little frontier village — in the 1850s” (after the revolutions of 1848). We used to be able to dream big in America…

News of the Wired

“Interoperability and the W3C: Defending the Future from the Present” [EFF]. “The W3C’s standards and accessibility teams have been working hard to anticipate every way media might be used, but without permissionless interoperability, they’ll never be able to tap the endless innovation of the Web’s open development environment.”

“Though most academic style guides seek to help scholars achieve clarity throughout their writing, each of the major guides, when referred to in shorthand — Chicago style; MLA style — is overwhelmingly identified with their rules for the citations that document a piece of writing’s sources” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “[R]esearch in the humanities exposes the details of its procedures via citation such that it too might be rendered falsifiable. Readers can return to the sources in question and render their own better interpretations of them. Academic writing becomes academic, in other words, precisely when it exposes its process to future correction.” Ditto URLs.

“Male Birth Control Is Coming in 2018, Still Seems a Little Sketchy” [New York Magazine]. Yeah, like injecting the stuff? That’s gonna be a heavy lift for the marketing department…

“Revealed: Man changes surname to Null and manages to bag lots of FREE holidays, car rentals and goodies” [The Sun]. “[T]he word ‘Null’ doesn’t register with the computer’s programming, so computer systems assume he’s not a person. The glitch means that when receptionists enter ‘Null’ in the surname box the system automatically recognises the word as ‘an absence of data’.” (Cluestick: A datatype is not a string. Another one for Clive…) So, after the inevitable customer service screwup, Null gets comped!

* * *

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 (Nancy Ames):

xBalsam Root & Spider

* * *

Readers, thanks, and Wednesday’s gentle reminder: Water Cooler is self-supporting; NC fundraising does not cover it. Your tips ultimately determine my level of effort (which, with the 2016 election, is considerable). So please consider tipping regularly. Thank you!


If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Water Cooler would not exist without your support.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Jim Haygood

    WaPo backpedals on 147 FBI agents on Hillary’s hooves:

    An earlier version of this article reported that 147 FBI agents had been detailed to the investigation, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey.

    Two U.S. law enforcement officials have since told The Washington Post that figure is too high. The FBI will not provide an exact figure, but the officials say the number of FBI personnel involved is fewer than 50.


    Heartbreaking. Isn’t there a petition we could sign to get those other hundred agents back on the job?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does it depend on if they count robot investigators or just human investigators?

      “All the jobs created in that last 8 years have been robot jobs for robots.”

      With the Robot Emancipation Act, human overlords no longer discriminate against robots.

      “If I am elected, I promise to create more jobs for robots.”

      Because robots vote – they vote in the double-entry ledger book.

      “What’s a nice robot doing in a dump like this? How much do you make an hour, anyway? What, you’re just like my cat? You are on a room and meal plan and you only eat electricity?”

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        Isn’t there some kind of time frame concerning HRC and the e mails? One would think it would be better for all concerned to s#@&t or get off the pot. I just don’t see how it can take so long.

  2. rich

    Americans Have Been Turned Into Peasants – It’s Time to Fight Back
    Michael Krieger

    Mesmerized by rising stocks, most of those Americans with the resources and time to push for change simply did nothing. This ambivalence allowed the theft to continue, and years later the grassroots is finally rising up and expressing their anger via Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. To make matters worse, the same group of people who spent the last few years staring at their E-Trade accounts are the same clownish pundits scratching their heads asking; why are people so angry?

    People are angry because the economy really is rigged, and it’s been rigged for quite some time. However, what has really pushed people over the edge is the realization that the economic riggers destroyed the economy via fraud and then got away with it. This has resulted in the institutionalization of crime and fraud as the leading driver of U.S. GDP growth since the riggers know they are above the law. This is why people are mad, and they should be a lot angrier than they are.

    Yesterday, I was surprised to come across an interesting article at CNBC (something which rarely happens). It was titled, Hillary Clinton Cannot Win U.S. Election: Libertarian, and it zeroed in on a recent research report published by Saxo Bank’s chief economist, Steen Jakobsen.

    Here’s what we learned:

    In a recent research note, he said the ratio between employee compensation to gross domestic product in the U.S. is the lowest in history and corporate profits are at their highest-ever point. This, he believes, is a key reason why U.S. citizens now want anything but the traditional establishment.

    If you’ve always wanted to see what serfdom looks like in a couple of charts, you’re in luck:


    1. James Levy

      We need to be rigorous and careful here. Millions of Americans have been screwed. But millions upon millions of Americans either 1) have no idea who has screwed them; 2) have a completely wrong conception of who has screwed them; 3) have benefited or been complicit in the screwing; 4) don’t see it as screwing at all (blame the victims). We also have to remember who is registered to vote and who can vote. Young black men in the hundreds of thousands (millions?) caught up in the “War on Drugs” have temporarily or permanently lost the right to vote. Millions more black people and poor whites and Latinos are not registered to vote. The people who have been doing the screwing are both registered to vote and vote. This makes them very powerful compared to the inchoate mass of non-voters who are often the worst effected by the whole political economy. So handing the election to the anti-establishment candidates is premature at best.

      1. zapster

        Considering that every election cycle millions of voters are illegally purged and turned away from the polls, I wouldn’t describe them as inchoate or apathetic. Since at least 2000, elections in this country have been a mass of fraud and voter suppression. Look at what is happening now.

    2. shinola

      Good article – thanks for the link!
      Another good quote from the piece:

      “Trying to determine Barack Obama’s most corrupt, crony appointee presents a virtually impossible task. Every single person he’s appointed to a position of power over the course of his unfathomably shady, violent and unconstitutional presidency, has been little more than a gatekeeper for powerful vested interests. Obama’s job was to talk like a marxist, but act like a robber baron. In this regard, his reign has been an unprecedented success.”


    3. different clue

      Serfs had economic survival rights. Serfs could not be exiled from the land to which they were en-serfed. What economic survival rights are Disposable Americans considered to have? Which Disposable Americans are generally regarded as immune to manipulated economic exile from their land?

      It would be well to study the carefully engineered Market Stalinism from World War II till today which reduced the number of farm family owner-operators from 6 million to about a million today. Serfs? Not even.

  3. Alex morfesis

    72 hours after her loss in wisconsin…if she loses badly…
    hillary will vanish from public and cancel all events…and depending on the reaction (ie-matt harvey), $he may then whambullatte herself for “precautions” to some new york hospital…and if the sinphoney can not create sympathy…then instead of looking bad and losing to bern in new york directly…she will sit out and hope folks vote for her…and if not…she will use her “health issues” to drop out of the race…no way she goes onto california if there is a chance she loses nomination…her ego wont let her face the possibility of defeat to someone that was at less than 10 percent at the beginning of the coronation process…

    1. sleepy

      No. Hillary imho will fight to the bitter end. Even if she started losing badly, she still has a great deal of institutional power and control in her back pocket, and plenty of time for whatever dirty tricks she wants to cook up.

      She hung around in 2008 long after there was no chance.

      1. alex morfesis

        she has to think about her grifting future…as a two time loser her cash value goes way way down…

        as a poor soul who kudabynakondendah…
        but health…

        she can keep cashing in for another decade…

        besides, she can negotiate herself the UNship…

        (hack cough, after the recovery…)

        there has never been an american one and we pay most of the freight…and it is time for another one from this hemi…its our turn…

        and there has also never been a female secty genl…

        she can be queen of the world as the new secty genl…lots of available places to travel, seem important and collect donations…and build a trust fund…I mean a future she can be proud of…

    2. John Zelnicker

      @Alex morfesis – IIRC, Clinton has already had some “very mild” strokes or something like that and, I believe, she takes a blood thinner to prevent recurrences. Another one, real or not, would be a way to accomplish what you suggest.

      Please correct me if I’m wrong. At 66, I don’t always trust my memory. :-/

      1. Yves Smith

        She has never admitted publicly to having strokes, but it’s almost certain she has had one or more. She passed out once in the Middle East and the explanation wasn’t very convincing.

        The tell is that she is on Coumadin, an anti-stroke medication that is not prescribed casually. The dosage needs to be monitored closely and stress is one of the things that affects the dose required.

  4. James Levy

    When confronted by the issue of the superdelegates I’m reminded of my opinion of the Conservatives in Britain: yes, they really believe that twaddle and yes, they are that stupid. Everyone wants to make this into a case of “corruption”, when it’s more like groupthink and affinity. These people are like Obama; they are society’s “winners.” They have been raised in a culture that worships “winners”, and, as Patton said in the movie “will not tolerate a loser.” Many Democrats have a vague sympathy for society’s losers, but they would never imagine hurting their or their children’s chances by lifting a finger to do anything to help said “losers” (and it must be pointed out that Republicans actively loath society’s losers and want to see them punished unto the fourth generation). So of course they disdain Sanders and worship Clinton. She’s the envy of every member of what Tony Blair prattled on about: the “aspiration middle class”. Just as millions who admire Trump do so because they think that with enough “moxey” and “balls” they too could be billionaires, millions think that if they have the “drive” and “savvy” and “smarts” they, too, could be Hillary. That both visions are patently absurd doesn’t change the basic psychological equation of this race as it plays out in the collective psyche of the American people. And it has a lot more explanatory power, I think, than appeals to “everyone is afraid of/on the take from the Clintons” or “everyone who likes Trump is an authoritarian wingnut”.

    1. different clue

      I remember once Hunter S. Thompson riffing on that theme in something he wrote somewhere.

      . . . ” Get this loser out of here, Tex. He’s stinking up the office.”

    2. jrs

      The American psyche – Americans must hate themselves, if they think that the only reason Trump is a billionaire and they aren’t is some character trait that Trump has and they don’t. Our politics are self-hatred acted out.

      1. different clue


        Kurt Vonnegut made the observation that Americans dislike themselves and eachother which is why they voted so overwhelmingly in 1972 for a President ( Nixon) who so obviously disliked Americans.

  5. John Candlish

    $1 trillion/year seems like a lot to launder. Enough so that there must be another side to this story involving the compliance regimes.

    1. Synoia

      Yes, laundering $1 Trillion is hard work for the Banks. They struggle though is, working hard lifting all that money in 100 lb bundles, helped in the heavy grifting by the chain of Management up to and including the CEO.

      Jamie Dimon, the champion heavyweight grifter lifter!

  6. Mav

    Would be interesting to see if there’s any material pertaining to this in the half of her emails that Clinton has not exposed.

    Hasn’t the FBI recovered the mails from the server directly? I have read somewhere that they had, can’t find the reference.

    1. HopeLB

      I was searching for that reference too. If the FBI did retrieve the 32,000 wiped emails, the question is whether they will care more about justice being done and somehow circumvent Obama’s Dept of InJustice or if they will use their information to control Clinton once she is enthroned.

  7. SKL

    The entire notion that countries’ emissions targets should be set based on their current emissions rather than on a set uniform per-capita emissions target is so blatantly unfair that it’s practically tantamount to colonialism. It’s literally an economic version of the “grandfather clause”.

    Anyone who advocates for such a system in the interests of the environment is a fool–they are simply helping to set the world system on course for disaster.

    1. Vatch

      It’s nice to see that there are some comments about India’s huge overpopulation problem, and the continuing growth of their population. Inevitably, there are a couple of sarcastic comments about killing people to reduce the population. I don’t know why some people are so clueless. All rational population activists support the reduction of the birth rate, not the increase of the death rate. But if the population keeps growing, nature will find a way to reduce the number of people, and it will be very grim: famine, epidemics, drought (already happening), and resource wars (already happening).

    1. RMO

      Ol’ Nate is kind of like a guy who happened to buy a winning Powerball ticket and is now trying to portray himself as a genius at investment who can accomplish fantastic returns.

  8. NeqNeq

    Male birth control has been “2yrs away” since (at least) the early ’90s. It is the medical industry version of the flying car.

    IF it ever shows, you can bet it will be covered under insurance… and it will be used to further the claim that rape doesn’t result in pregnancy (so lets defund Planned Parenthood and criminalize abortion)

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘Donald J. Trump, pressed Wednesday on his support for a ban on abortion and what it would mean in practice, said that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions.’

        Why didn’t they get themselves a y-chromosome, so they wouldn’t have this problem? /sarc

    1. jrs

      Well if it lasted a lot longer than a year it would be comparable to equally painful female procedures in current existence, but since females can get pregnant and going through labor is also painful, they market themselves.

  9. ekstase

    “On the one hand you might see that as bad. But on the other hand you don’t want people to know you that well.” –

    Donald Trump

    Yes, especially if you’re running for President.

  10. Peter Pan

    Unfortunately, the New York primary is April 19, so Debbie Wasserman Schultz can’t schedule the debate opposite the Game of Thrones Season Six premier on April 26. But I’m sure she’ll come up with something!

    Let’s look at the schedule. Hmm, the NCAA basketball championship is April 4th right before the Wisconsin primary. Will that work?

  11. ekstase

    From the article on the sherpas:

    “It seems like it’s the wild west, where anybody can do anything and the government rakes in royalties and turns a blind eye to anything else that goes on.”

    Why does that sound so familiar?

  12. Massinissa

    About all those liters of water to make soft drinks, that’s a lot, but some drinks take even more water. A liter of milk takes a thousand liters of water. A single glass of wine (125 milliliters) takes 120 liters of water. Just to put that in perspective. I cant find the numbers right now, but Late’s take a bunch of water too.

    If you want to lower your water footprint, you should be drinking water instead of anything else

    1. different clue

      If a single glass of wine takes 150 liters of water, then why isn’t that single glass of wine 150 liters of water big?

      1. Massinissa

        Because wine comes from grapes, and the grape vines take a lot of water to grow. Its not as if water is directly converted to grapes. The grapes are a byproduct of the grape vine plant which takes a lot of water to mature.

        1. different clue

          Ah ha! Yes. So . . . if the water doesn’t stay in the grapes, it goes somewhere else. And where else does it go? Right back into the Water Cycle from whence it came. Back into the Air, the Rivers, the Lakes, the Ground Water, or the Oceans. So it isn’t “consumed” out of physical existence. It is merely “used” and then “transferred” right back into the Water Cycle.
          It all stays right here on Planet TerraLuna Prime to cycle right back around to re-liquefy and be used and transferred right back into the Water Cycle all over again.

          So the trope of “it takes a ton of water to grow pound of beef” becomes revealed as the misleading trope it always was. As long as grape growers use less water-flowing-by than the water that flows by as per The Cycle, grape growers can keep growing grapes.

          1. reslez

            That would be nice but it isn’t always the case. Sometimes they’re pumping from aquifers or relying on industrial processes that permanently pollute the local water (pesticides, nitrogen runoff from fertilizer).

  13. DJG

    I’m sooo confused:

    Trump: “Complicating attempts to understand him is his insistence that his public persona isn’t the same as his private one. ‘I think I’m somewhat different. I’m a much nicer person than people would think, to see me from the outside,’ Trump says”

    Clinton: Jill Abramson’s three-martini hypothesis was that HRC’s requirement of a zone of privacy is what make people think that she isn’t honest. (The Guardian’s recent laff-riot column.)

    I have an inkling that neither of them is a deep thinker, which means that there isn’t much between public and private. The Donald is a party boy on a roll, W Bush without the classy Skull & Bones pedigree. Bush used to think that being a “nicer person” meant wearing his Crocs in public.

    Clinton is fundamentally uncomfortable and fundamentally ambitious. Now her people have devolved into tone policing–the classic sign of the bad female boss who wants to “have it all.” (And I have the background in publishing to have had good/bad male / female bosses.)

  14. Free Market Apologist

    Re NYC water: I would argue that the largest reason for declines in usage (via the method of low-flow showers, etc.) was as result of the change to metered service (vs. paying by the building frontage, which was not an incentive to reduce usage).

  15. Dave

    Don’t assume everyone is computer literate.

    Why does “null” or an absence of data, get free stuff?

    How and why does this work?

    1. TomD

      It was pretty clearly explained. Lots of database entry software isn’t properly sanitizing their inputs, thus a proper record isn’t created, thus Mr Null complains and gets X given to him to apologize for mistake.

      1. Synoia

        I believe “Null” as a value in SQL (Structured query language) the language a relation databases means empty field not the word “Null.”

        Please correct me if I am wrong.

        1. TomD

          The word Null could be a string value, and the value Null is the absence of value. The problem is afaict the software isn’t treating things correctly and is passing whatever as a bare value instead of specifying the string “Null”.

          It’s just sloppiness.

    2. hunkerdown

      Probably code like

      if (null == form.firstName) throw new Error(“Identify yourself!”);

      JavaScript and PHP, in particular, have some rather “helpful” implicit type conversion rules that can bite you easily if you’re not careful.

      1. inode_buddha

        Stuff like that makes me thank goodness I stuck with Bash scripting and (rather strict) C. Its just an occasional hobby for me, tho. (I really really wish there was a way to do the web with just straight html ala’ the 1990’s…. some sites are so heavy on the JS nowdays I think I need a dedicated co-processor for it.)

  16. Chris in Paris

    Re NYC water’s low calcium levels account for tasty bread. We have high levels in Paris, yet our bread is relatively decent so I wonder about the correlation…

    1. pretzelattack

      every time something like this happens, somebody else decides not to vote for clinton under any circumstances. that’s my hope, and belief.

  17. steelhead23

    As regards the potential for the broad dislike of Donald Trump to translate into a Democratic congress, let us pray. However, it should be clear to everyone but Debbie Wassermann Schultz, if Clinton is the Dem’s nominee, then the chances of this happening would be zilch. Think about it for a second – a conservative/moderate that is frightened by Trump and votes for his opponent, would likely be nearly as frightened by Clinton and would wish for her to deal with a hostile congress. Sanders is more broadly liked and almost certainly would have longer coattails than Clinton. The Dem establishment is backing the wrong horse – they want to run Humphrey against Nixon – again.

    BTW – there is something quite interesting going on in our blogosphere – even the erstwhile conservative blogs are pointing at inequality and suggesting the system is rigged. Occupy’s meme has caught on.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It depends on what the unrigging solution is. For example, making the labor market “more flexible” by providing lots more pods for workers to sleep in would be less than ideal.

  18. Cry Shop

    Lubricating a slow, long, bloody hump: Regime Change is another fantastic tool for embezzlement. Kadafi had to go because he kept a close eye on the oil and money that was funding projects like the Great Man-made River. National government may be dysfunctional, but all the off-shore oil platforms in Libya kept pumping the whole time, and there was no government representative to watching out than the meter by-pass was open.

    Hence claims of falling production and incomes don’t match that Total’s 5 french refineries, which can only take sweet, low sulfur crude from North Africa (and a few other rare sources), have been running full out. Hill-Billy must have made a fortune in consulting fees on that one.

    1. different clue

      The Great Man Made River. Oh yes.

      That water is all Pleistocene-era fossil water. Pumping it up and into the Great Man Made River will eventually mine-out the Libyan fossil-water reserve to zero, to the detriment of Libya but to the benefit of whomever gets a little more of that water as it circulates through the Water Cycle.

      1. Cry Shop

        Sounds like much of the mid-west, but no one killed Obama to get unmetered fracking gas and oil.

  19. rich

    GAO Has Been Telling Congress that Financial Regulation Is in Disarray for 20 Years By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 30, 2016

    Why the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, which has a monetary policy mandate, should also be in charge of supervising the behemoth Wall Street banks’ (especially when it abysmally failed in that job leading up to the crash) has yet to be explained to the American people.

    GAO is a nonpartisan agency that investigates matters requested by members of Congress to determine if taxpayers’ money is being spent in the most effective manner. All one has to do is take a quick look at the graphic below that came with the latest GAO study on the “complex and fragmented” structure of the U.S. financial regulatory system to understand that this mess exists because that’s the way Wall Street wants it to exist.

    A fragmented system of silos allows Wall Street to continue to loot the public with impunity by gaming the myriad loopholes in the system. And allowing an industry with this serial history of crime to run its own private justice system is like giving the Mafia their own courthouse.

    This is the worst possible time for the GAO to go timid on the American people. Unfortunately, this report feels like the Hillary Clinton version of financial reform: tinker around the edges and stay the disastrous course we’re currently on.


  20. kimsarah

    Sooner or later, Hillary will have to answer questions about the Clinton Foundation, other than saying it does wonderful things like buy cheaper drugs for African countries and Bill and Chelsea run it.

    Comments from the Truthout site article on how the Democratic race is much closer than the Republican race, but gets less air time:

    “OldTulsan • 2 hours ago
    Clinton Foundation donors include dozens of media organizations, individuals – POLITICO

    “NBC Universal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting and Thomson Reuters are among more than a dozen media organizations that have made charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, the foundation’s records show.

    The donations, which range from the low-thousands to the millions, provide a picture of the media industry’s ties to the Clinton Foundation at a time when one of its most notable personalities, George Stephanopoulos, is under scrutiny for not disclosing his own $75,000 contribution when reporting on the foundation.

    The list also includes mass media groups like Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom, as well a few notable individuals, including Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate and largest shareholder of The New York Times Company, and James Murdoch, the chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox. Both Slim and Murdoch have given between $1 million to $5 million, respectively…”
    3 • Reply•Share ›

    beaglebailey OldTulsan • 15 minutes ago
    Then there are all the donations from governments that her state department sold weapons to. How that isn’t a conflict of interest is beyond me.
    Plus she told Obama that she would separate her foundation from her job as SOS.
    And as usual, Obama doesn’t hold her accountable.
    The only people he holds accountable are those that tell the truth about the government’s wrong doings.
    Has there been a weaker president that hasn’t upheld the laws then Obama?”

  21. EndOfTheWorld

    Trump is indeed unqualified to be president. But I would still vote for him over HRC. There is a chance he would “grow” in office. HRC, on the other hand, is a corrupt lying odious warmonger already and forever. However it looks like the repugs have a plan to discard Donald at the convention and put in somebody else (Paul Ryan, maybe). He would beat Hillary. Anyway I’ve already decided to get out of the dem party for the rest of my life, if they give the nomination to HRC.

  22. I Have Strange Dreams

    As a former resident of Ireland, I’ve always said that our greatest resource is water – it buckets down on us, and we let it run away. A huge amount is wasted. Perhaps oil tankers can be converted to carry water?

    1. different clue

      Or perhaps a new sort of water tanker could be invented and built. It wouldn’t have to be as strong as an oil tanker because if it ruptured and spilled its cargo of fresh water into the ocean no damage is done to the ocean. The only loss is the loss of the ship itself and the money not made from the water not sold.
      And if the crew and engine zone were separately unsinkable, they would be safe and saved and only the water and mobile cruise-the-ocean water balloons would be lost.

Comments are closed.