2:00PM Water Cooler 3/3/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“TPP Threatens Indigenous Land Rights Says the UN” [TeleSUR]. “According to Tauli-Corpuz, the major issue with the TPP is “the clause of non-discrimination between a local and an international investor … (it) grants more rights to transnational firms, often at the expense of indigenous rights,” she said in an interview with the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. This is a crucial issue, she argued, as most of the remaining natural resources available on earth are located on indigenous lands — because protecting them is part of the indigenous culture, or because they are located on remote lands.”



Romney, 2016: “[ROMNEY:] Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat” [CNN].

Romney, 2012: “[ROMNEY:] Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works to create jobs for the American people. He’s done it here in Nevada, he’s done it across the country… He’s one of the few people who stood up and said, you know what, China’s been cheating. They’ve taken jobs from Americans” [Political Wire].

“[TRUMP:] Mitt Romney is a stiff. Mitt Romney will not get elected. Mitt Romney failed twice and really failed last time. He was going against a president that should have been beaten” [Politico].

“Donald Trump and a small team of confidants began planning his White House bid just weeks after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to President Barack Obama.” [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump’s Presidential Run Was Long in the Making”]. “The businessman trademarked his “Make America Great Again” slogan in November 2012, according to federal records… Between 2012 and his presidential campaign launch last June, Mr. Trump gave more than $1 million to GOP candidates, super PACs and groups such as the Republican Governors Association, records show. He declined to renew his contract to host “The Apprentice” in early 2015.”

“The Koch brothers, the most powerful conservative mega donors in the United States, will not use their $400 million political arsenal to try to block Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s path to the presidential nomination” [Reuters]. Unless they’re lying. And who could tell, dark money being what it is? As we saw yesterday, Trump’s campaign manager used to work for the Kochs. So I dunno….

“Clinton is doing what pretty much every Republican in the country failed to do — she’s taking Trump seriously” [Alternet]. “Another way to damage Trump is to beat him at his own game. The Rand Corp. found recently that the biggest predictor for whether someone will support Donald Trump is if they believe that ‘people like me don’t have any say about what the government does.; To keep people from defecting to Trump, you need to make them feel like they have a stake in your campaign, which is probably where the Clinton people could learn a thing or two from Bernie Sanders’ campaign.” And won’t.


“In his proposal, Trump says allowing insurance to be sold across state lines will end up “allowing full competition in this market” so that “insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.” However, in 2012, Georgetown University researchers looked at states that had enacted legislation to encourage cross-border insurance commerce. They found that the initiatives “do not address the true drivers of health insurance costs nor do they adequately take into account the complexity of how insurance products are sold and regulated.” They also found that “none of the across state lines laws resulted in a single insurer entering a new market or the sale of a single new insurance product” [International Business Times].

“Mr. Cruz’s argument is confusing because the United States already has socialized medicine for the elderly: Medicare. Nearly every American over the age of 65 qualifies for the government program. There are some services that Medicare doesn’t cover, and in some cases, patients may have to wait to get a doctor’s appointment or a surgery date, just like Americans with any other insurance. But the Medicare program itself does not decide which people should get services like hip replacements first and who should have to wait. Indeed, patients in Medicare typically have faster and more equal access to health care than nonelderly adults in the United States, because they have universal insurance coverage and Medicare is widely accepted by doctors and hospitals” [New York Times]. But heaven forfend we should have Medicare for All!


Clinton raised $30 million in February and has $31 million on hand. Sanders raised $43 million, and didn’t announce cash (but had $15 million at the end of January) [Politico]. Clinton also paid off the DNC to the tune of $4.4 million. Mook now touts small donors, but they maxed out all the big ones, right?

The Voters

“Beneath Hillary Clinton’s Super Tuesday Wins, Signs of Turnout Trouble” [New York Times]. Example after example of Democratic fecklessness and indifference to increasing voter registration, preventing voter ID restrictions, the problems with e-voting, etc., etc., etc.:

A new group called Black Votes Matter, led by Democratic strategists based in New York, is trying to raise $25 million for a new effort to identify and energize African-American voters. Charlie King, a former executive director of the New York Democratic Party, said the group would focus on five states where black voters were particularly pivotal for Democrats and where, in some cases, lawmakers had also imposed new voting restrictions in recent years.

Great. A tiny palliative late in the day. With Democratic strategists taking a cut. Heaven forfend there should be a concerted national effort!

The Trail

“Rule 40 of ‘The Rules of the Republican Party'” [Medium]. The possible procedural vector for a Repbublican convention trainwreck.

The Trump campaign uses NationBuilder [Bloomberg]. “NationBuilder is the creation of Jim Gilliam, who worked at Lycos, the search engine, before becoming an antiwar activist in the early 2000s.” Fortune passes everywhere.

“Donald Trump-Megyn Kelly rematch and other things to watch for in the GOP debate” [Los Angeles Times]. Trump melting down has been predicted so many times. Would we even recognize it if it happened?

“According to three Fox sources, Fox chief Roger Ailes has told people he’s lost confidence in Rubio’s ability to win. ‘We’re finished with Rubio,’ Ailes recently told a Fox host. ‘We can’t do the Rubio thing anymore'” [New York Magazine]. “Ailes is now back to searching for a candidate the channel can rally behind. ‘He’s thinking, What do we do about the whole damn thing?‘ one of the news executive’s friends said.” Let me know how that works out…

“[Tad Devine, Mr. Sanders’s chief strategist] said that Mr. Sanders would overtake Mrs. Clinton with wins in upcoming states, starting this weekend with caucuses in Nebraska, Kansas and Maine, and then in Michigan’s primary on Tuesday” [Wall Street Journal, “Bernie Sanders Campaign Aides Say Vermont Senator Will Press On”]. “[Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook countered] that Mr. Sanders may win in this weekend’s caucuses, but she will counter with victory in Louisiana, which also votes on Saturday. If Mr. Sanders wins in Michigan, Mr. Mook said, Mrs. Clinton will offset that with victory in Mississippi, which votes the same day.” Democratic establishment has a Southern strategy, where states Democrats will never win in the general determine who runs in the general. Plus the super-delegates, of course. Weird. Fragile.

“Not so long ago the Sanders campaign had the feel of a startup inching its way toward relevance. Nearly a year after launching, it has evolved into a more professionalized operation that looks and feels like a modern presidential campaign, with all the complications that entails. Money is pouring in—and rushing out the door” [Wall Street Journal, “Sanders Campaign Evolves From Small Startup to Election Machine”]. Lots of money for television.

This is interesting:

Handy compendium of (many) Clinton scandals [The Atlantic]. Does not include the cattle futures thing, arguably the worst (“Hillary Clinton Turned $1,000 Into $99,540, White House Says”). As the punchline to the old joke goes: “Just lucky, I guess.” On corruption:

the essential questions about the Clinton Foundation come down to two, related issues. The first is the seemingly unavoidable conflicts of interest: How did the Clintons’ charitable work intersect with their for-profit speeches? How did their speeches intersect with Hillary Clinton’s work at the State Department? Were there quid-pro-quos involving U.S. policy? The second, connected question is about disclosure. When Clinton became secretary, she agreed that the foundation would make certain disclosures, which it’s now clear it didn’t always do. And the looming questions about Clinton’s State Department emails make it harder to answer those questions.

“Thanks to the 2010 victories they won on this map six years ago, Republicans are overextended. Democrats have better-than-even odds of recapturing Republican-held Illinois and Wisconsin, and they have several other targets, while Democrats are defending an open seat in Nevada and another potentially competitive seat in Colorado” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “If it turns out to be a Clinton-Trump contest, the nation will never have been in a comparable place before.”

Stats Watch

Challenger Job-Cut Report, Feb 2016: “The energy sector continues to inflate Challenger’s layoff count, at 61,599 in February following January’s outsized 75,114” [Econoday]. “Other sectors show much less damage but energy and energy-related troubles are likely to become increasing drags on the nation’s employment.” And: “After surging to a six-month high to begin the new year, downsizing slowed in February, as US-based employers announced 61,599 job cuts during the month, 18 percent fewer than the 75,114 in January” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of February 27: “The labor market remains solid and unemployment claims very low” [Econoday]. “Continuing claims, where data lag by a week, remain near historic lows.” And: “The four week rolling average of initial claims are 11.5 % lower (improvement from the 7.7 % for last week) than they were in this same week in 2015” [Econintersect].

Productivity and Costs, Q4 2015: “An upgrade for fourth-quarter output, first indicated by last week’s second estimate for fourth-quarter GDP, gave productivity a lift and brought down unit labor costs. But productivity is still in the contraction column, at an annualized rate of minus 2.2 percent vs an initial estimate of minus 3.0 percent, while labor costs rose at annualized 3.3 percent vs an initial estimate of 4.5 percent” [Econoday]. “The fourth quarter was a weak one and early indications on first-quarter growth are much more positive. Further strength in growth would help improve productivity and help bring down costs.”

Gallup Good Jobs Rate, February 2016: “[S]uggesting an underlying increase in full-time work beyond seasonal changes in employment” [Econoday].

PMI Services Index, February 2016: “Markit Economics’ U.S. service sample reported unusually flat activity in February with the final PMI at 49.7 vs 49.8 for the February flash and against 53.7 in January. This is the weakest reading since the government shutdown of 2013” [Econoday]. “Slowing in the service sector would leave the economy without a central point of strength. The declines in this report, though possibly reflecting weather factors during the month, do raise the important question whether domestic demand is on the downswing and falling in line with sinking demand overseas.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February 28: “Consumer confidence readings have held mostly steady this year though the decline in this report may hint at an uneasiness perhaps tied in part to uncertainty in the election campaign” (!) [Econoday].

Factory Orders, January 2016: ” Factory orders rose a strong 1.6 percent in January as wide strength in durable goods, where orders rose 4.7 percent, was offset by energy-related weakness in orders for non-durable goods which extended a long series of declines at minus 1.4 percent” [Econoday]. “Core capital goods, boosted by orders for machinery, fabricated metals, and computers, are a key positive in the report, up 3.4 percent to nearly offset a 3.5 percent decline in December. … The early indications on February are broadly negative”

“Life insurers are supposed to be bedrocks of financial stability, dependable institutions whose long-term business models set them apart from scandal-hit banks.” [Alastair Grey, Across the Curve]. “Yet shares in the leading US insurers, which help millions of Americans through retirement, have been anything but stable in recent weeks. Titans of the industry have been hit almost as hard as lenders in this year’s stock market rout….. The biggest worry is rock-bottom interest rates, which push up the value of the insurers’ liabilities and make it a struggle for them to generate adequate returns on their vast investment portfolios.”

“Iowa restaurants starved for workers” [Des Moines Register]. If only there were something… Something like an invisible hand… That could adjust the supply of workers to the demand for them!

ISM Non-Mfg Index, February 2016: “The great bulk of the nation’s economy enjoyed a solid February based on ISM’s non-manufacturing report where the headline index held solidly over breakeven 50” [Econoday]. “Other details include a nearly 4 point rise in output (defined as business activity in this report) which is a solid indication for first-quarter growth. Prices for inputs remain in contraction and inventories continue to expand modestly.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68, Greed (previous close: 66, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 3 at 1:48pm. Greed still rising.

Health Care

“In a major win for the industry, health insurers will not be forced to have minimum quantitative standards when designing their networks of hospitals and doctors for 2017, nor will they have to offer standardized options for health plans” [Modern Health Care]. Well, of course. How could they underwrite if they couldn’t game narrow networks, or crap around with obfuscated policies?

The rule also addresses the surprise medical bills that patients see when an out-of-network doctor involved in their care at an in-network hospital bills them for the balance not covered by their insurer.

Starting with 2018 plans, the CMS said, all services provided by an “out-of-network ancillary provider in an in-network facility” will go toward the member’s in-network annual cost-sharing limit. However, the provision does nothing to prohibit balance billing, and the CMS still defers to states that have more stringent laws that tackle surprise bills.

“Our intent in establishing this policy beginning for the 2018 benefit year is to permit us to monitor ongoing efforts by issuers and providers to address the complex issue of surprise out-of-network cost sharing at in-network facilities across all CMS programs in a holistic manner, and amend our policy in the future to accommodate progress on this issue, if warranted,” the CMS said.

“In a holistic manner.” Oh. OK.


“Honest, Guv, I Didn’t See Nuffin'” [Craig Murray]. “Jimmy Savile met the Royal family not just on many official occasions, but frequently socially. He was a private Hogmanay guest of the Prime Minister on seven occasions. Of course not only on 31 December, I just think that fact illustrates how close he was. I do not believe that all of these people knew nothing about his persistent and repeated behaviour. It is not only that I do not believe they could fail to notice. It is that anyone with that level of frequent access to the Prime Minister, other ministers and Royal family would be checked out by the security services.”

Police State Watch

“Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, warning that “anarchist extremists” are equivalent to ISIS and young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to “suspicious” countries are more likely to commit horrific violence” [Alternet]. “This overwhelming threat is then used to justify a massive surveillance apparatus, wherein educators and pupils function as extensions of the FBI by watching and informing on each other.” The FBI’s “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” has been iterated for five years, under a totally not authoritarian and distinctly not fascist Democrat administration.


“Using models to predict the ranges of 78 venomous snake species across the Americas, researchers at the University of Kansas’ Biodiversity Institute found snakebite risk areas could increase significantly. By 2050, they could reach as far north as Alberta and Quebec and southward into Argentina and Chile” [Inside Climate News].


“The roots of the Syrian civil war, which according to a recent estimate has killed at least 470,000 people and helped set in motion one of the most significant human migrations on record, can be traced in part to the drought. The drought, along with other factors, forced about 1.5 million rural residents, including farmers, to urban areas in Syria to look for work, including Aleppo and Damascus” [Mashable]. “The government’s inadequate response to the drought and resulting massive internal displacement was one of a series of events that helped spark what was initially a series of uprisings against the government of President Bashar Al-Assad, but soon turned into a devastating, all-out civil war.”

“Gov. Rick Snyder has hired two outside attorneys in connection with the Flint drinking water crisis, including a criminal defense attorney retained to serve as “investigatory counsel,” a Snyder spokesman confirmed Thursday” [Detroit Free Press]. “The contracts, which are to be paid with state funds, are just below the $250,000 threshold for contracts requiring approval from the State Administrative Board, which meets in public to approve state contracts and grants. Adler said that was by design because the governor wanted to hire the attorneys quickly in early February.”

Class Warfare

“How the U.S. Government and HSBC Have Teamed Up to Hide the Truth From a Pennsylvania Couple” [Liberty Blitzkreig]. A classic old-school blog post, where mainstream reporting has the knobs turned up to 11 where appropriate. Key paragraph:

The Wall Street Journal reports:

WEST CHESTER, Pa.—When Dean Moore ran into roadblocks with a request for mortgage relief, he did what many people do: He sat down at his kitchen table to bang out an angry letter.

The letter has thrust Mr. Moore, a chemist, and his wife, Ann Marie Fletcher-Moore, a part-time bookstore manager, into a high-stakes battle over whether HSBC Holdings PLC must release a secret report on its compliance with a $1.9 billion money-laundering settlement.

A “secret” report. You’ve got to be kidding me.

I’m quoting this because I wonder if there are any readers who have banged out angry letters and are in similar situations?

“While many in the financial advice industry admirably try to help regular folks figure out how much to save and how to allocate their assets, a stubbornly large group is in the business of systematically ripping people off” [FT Alphaville]. It’s a phishing equilibrium.

News of the Wired

“How microdosing helped me kick my internet habit” [Vox]. So long as the acid’s not brown…

“Muting users on Twitter – Achtung! State, DoD, Other US Censors” [Another Word For It].

“Physicists May Have Discovered a New ‘Tetraquark’ Particle” [Scientific American]. “Hopefully there will eventually be a theory that explains these observations to gain a better understanding of these quarks and the forces acting between them”

“A Unicorn Is the Last Thing This Web 2.0 Survivor Wants” [Wired]. “The nice thing about revenue is it’s not diluted capital.”

“Repeating radio signals coming from a mystery source far beyond the Milky Way have been discovered by scientists. While one-off fast radio bursts (FRBs) have been detected in the past, this is the first time multiple signals have been detected coming from the same place in space” [International Business Times] (original). Aliens fooling with the remote…

“A massive volcano on Mars spewed so much lava 3.5 billion years ago that the weight displaced the Red Planet’s outer layers, according to a study that reconstructed the planet’s geologic history” [ABC Australia].

“The architect of the Reich” [The New Criterion]. Albert Speer retrospective.

* * *

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

Bleeding hearts

I love bleeding hearts; mine did beautifully last year!

* * *

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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. Jim Haygood

    Brazil’s economy swirls down the bowl:

    SAO PAULO (AP) — In its worst performance for 25 years, the Brazilian economy shrank by nearly 4 percent in 2015, according to official figures published on Thursday.

    The IBGE statistics bureau said gross domestic product contracted by 3.8 percent as the country suffered low commodity prices, rising inflation and high interest rates.

    The declining value of the Brazilian real, which fell by almost 50 percent against the dollar last year, helped to boost exports by 6.1 percent while imports of goods and services fell by 14.1 percent.

    For comparison, during the financial crisis the U.S. economy shrank 2.8% in calendar year 2008. Brazil has taken a harder hit still.

    At least Brazil let its currency slide to prop up exports. Brazil’s northerly neighbor, poor benighted Venezuela, still wonders why its strong bolivar policy hasn’t made it rich yet.

  2. DakotabornKansan

    Archipelago man rips Trump as “a phony” and “a fraud,” who is “playing the American public for suckers.”

    Trump rips “stiff” as a “catastrophe,” who is “just trying to stay relevant.”

    Pot meets kettle on the ship of fools filled with Plato’s cave dwellers.

    “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.” – Sholem Aleichem

    1. NoOne

      Mitt Romney lecturing Trump on authenticity is the equivalent of Kim Kardashian giving chastity lessons to Mother Teresa.

          1. Stephen Rhodes

            But isn’t the business of vulture capitalism to drive companies into bankrupcies?

            . . . And Mitt wanted GM in bankrupcy before pouncing?

      1. jrs

        The overwhelming impressions is how they are all horrible scumbags, that yes Trump is all those things Romney says, but noone criticizing is any position to criticize. Like Kim Kardashian giving chastity lessons to Monica Lewinsky.

        1. rich

          Well did you mean impression as in artist?

          Mitt Romney Is The Real Super-Fraud: Here’s The Proof, Chapter And Verse
          by David Stockman • March 3, 2016

          Yes, the GOP establishment’s putative “jobs” candidate from 2012 was never really a businessman at all.

          He was an LBO strip-mining artist

          who rode the first Greenspan Bubble to riches between 1987 and 2000. Yet in the overwhelming share of the 77 investment deals he superintended during that period, he left behind financial cripples, zombies and Chapter Eleven bait.


          Why not ride into sunset with recap loot and the carnage behind you? Why put yourself back on display?Does Mitt/gop take everyone for mindless fools?

  3. Carolinian

    To keep people from defecting to Trump, you need to make them feel like they have a stake in your campaign

    In other words (in HRC’s case) lie. That NYT story in today’s links said the Hillary people are very concerned about the ongoing low Dem turnout. They are going to pivot to full boogie man mode with Trump and tell Sanders supporters they need to get with the program. Armageddon looms.

    While it now seems clear that Sanders isn’t trying to be the sheepdog, Hillary probably always saw him in that role. She needs to get TINA back on track.

    1. Synoia

      Trump is the alternative. No one with functioning brain cell would or could believe Hilary would serve anyone other than rich masters.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Will Hillary be allowed conjugal visits if “Bill” goes to jail?

        There’s a movement calling for Clinton’s immediate arrest after he allegedly broke Massachusetts election laws leading up to his wife’s big win on Tuesday in the state’s primary.

        The backlash began following reports from multiple cities of Clinton visiting polling stations and greeting workers amid throngs of security and media.

        So far, more than 85,000 people have signed the Change.org petition, which was apparently started by Veronica Wolski and accuses the former president of “clear, knowing and egregious violation of the campaign laws to swing an election in a significant way.”


          1. Tom Denman

            Thanks for the link. I remember hearing Bob Herbert deliver what proved to be a spot-on assessment of Bill Clinton back in 1991 or ’92.

            I think Bill’s polling station shenanigans touched a raw nerve because they were emblematic of his breathtaking arrogance and dishonesty: He knew he could get away with it and the law be damned. On or off the golf course, Slick Willie knows how to make use of the Mulligan.

            Mrs. Clinton is already burdened with high “distrust” levels in the opinion polls. As with any politician, these negative numbers only increase over time. If she is elected this will make it very difficult for her to win public or political support for her initiatives from the day she takes office. Given her agenda this is a good thing. But she stands to leave the White House in eight–or four–years as a terribly embittered person.

            The Arrest Bill Clinton petition can be found at:

          2. kimsarah

            Can’t wait to see what the Clinton team will do when they have the NSA and all the other acronym agencies at their fingertips.

        1. curlydan

          conjugal visits? It’s a good thing there’s a West and East Wing in the White House because if HRC wins, they’ll be in separate Wings at all times.

          HRC’s thirst for power can be seen by her refusal to cut ties with Mr. Bill. She’s traded humiliation from his infidelity for her access to power. Some people crazily say this shows how “strong” she is. No, it only shows that her only goal is power.

          P.S. with regard to the Bob Herbert column mentioned by hreik, guess who popped up? “Was there an understanding? Did the quids hook up with the quos in an illegal votes-for-clemency scheme? Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, is trying to find out.” I guess we know why that investigation fizzled.

        2. Christopher Fay

          You’re block quoting the propaganda, “[Hillary’s] big win on Tuesday.” She needed the Massachusetts win in order to claim a big victory. The Massachusetts vote was a tie. Bill Cosby Clinton was able to illegally block enough votes to get that.

          Plus I saw in passing that 6000 Sanders votes were disappeared in a county in Virginia.

        3. Darthbobber

          Lets not get too carried away. We have probably a few hundred violations of that magnitude in Philly in any given election, and if everybody involved “went to jail” there’d be no room for anybody else.

      2. Jason

        Is Trump a better alternative or not will be this year’s trillion-dollar question. Do you roll the dice on Trump, and hope he turns out to be something better than an American Mussolini, or do you go with the ‘known devil’ in the person of the corrupt Hillary Clinton, who will at least lean liberal on social issues that don’t displease her owners among the 1%?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Hillary will also still be running Team Blue as President. This is also part of the consideration.

    2. DakotabornKansan

      BARs Glen Ford writes:

      “The Democrats are hoping that the Trump phenomenon will give them the opportunity to create a kind of “super-party” that would corral almost everyone except the most racist elements of the white electorate. In practice, that means Clinton and her corporate crew are already gearing up to lure hordes of panicked white “conservatives” that cannot, for one reason or another, stomach Trump, into the Democratic “big tent.” That’s why, in the near term, the split in the GOP will result in a more pronounced attempt by the Democratic Party leadership to shift to the right, which is their intention in all seasons.”

      “Hillary Clinton’s corporate machine will move quickly to reposition the party to the right in November so as to absorb the white “moderate” exiles from the Republican rubble – thus, further alienating Bernie’s insurgents. Black voters, who are fully aware that they saved Clinton from ignominious defeat in the early primaries, will in very short order be pushed back in their “place”: the captive constituency.” http://blackagendareport.com/down_with_duopoly

      1. Steve in Flyover

        They just can’t get it thru their thick skulls that a bunch of us out here think Hillary is a scumbag. An even bigger one than Trump.

        Just ONCE I’d like to see the Clintons held accountable. But evidently, accountability is something the wretched refuse have to deal with.

        If it ends up being a choice between Hillary vs. Trump, I’ll have to go with Trump. If nothing else, he has the virtue of being so whacked out, that Putin, etc. may start walking on eggshells.

        He needs to start talking about a nuke war being “winnable”, sorta like Reagan did.

        1. Christopher Fay

          Hillary is ring fencing the Nuke war into her corner. She’s a neocon who will succeed in getting thousands or more of Americans killed again.

        2. different clue

          Trump and Putin have been talking about eachother in terms of respect. A President Clinton would pose the much greater risk of nuclear war with Russia.

        3. Stephen Rhodes

          Putin already uses the phrase “nuclear de-escalation” to ward off being at the losing end of “conventional war”.

          Try that out! That’s right de-escalation.

          (Just think the black swan of accidental nuclear war)

    3. Brindle

      The coming Dem primary in Michigan (March 8?) is crucial to Sanders. If he can’t win a Rust Belt state that has lost hundred of thousands ( if not millions) of jobs because of Neoliberal / NAFTA policies I don’t see where he can get traction. Dem establishment is hoping for a high African-American turnout and low white turnout.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Did you see that video of people lining up to see Sanders speak at Eastern Michigan University? The line was a mile long and the temperature was below freezing.

        Methinks that Sanders has an excellent chance in MI.

        1. HotFlash

          I sure hope so. I lived there for 20 years and can say I would be surprised, but most pleasantly. I think I’ll go send Bernie some $$.

        2. TsWkr

          The west side of the state is one of the more conservative parts of the country. The east side has more of the affluent suburban liberals and larger African American population. There’s some headwinds for Bernie, but I think it will be a matter of who turns out in the state.

      2. different clue

        Much of the white-identified working class and ex-working class people in Michigan have been Republican-leaning ever since they became Reagan Democrats. They may well vote in the R primary for Trump.

        Students and other youngers in college/university towns may well vote for Sanders. The black vote in Greater Detroit will likely vote for Clinton by South Carolina size majorities.

    4. James Levy

      The disastrous problem we face is that Hillary may not be far wrong about Trump, but she is such an awful, compromised, corrupt, and mendacious person that it doesn’t really matter that much. The full-on access to the bigot radio jock and the failure three times to denounce David Duke and the KKK (and the idea that he had never heard of David Duke when he’s denounced him in the past is ludicrous) will further cement Clinton’s hold on black people (can you really blame them given Trump’s performance do date?) and sets us up for one of the ugliest, most divisive brawls we’ve seen in a century. Clinton and Trump will say anything to get what they want; it will be like having two Dick Nixon’s battle it out without the mediating influence of effective political parties or powerful moderating media (think Cronkite and Reasoner).

      I know the consensus around here is that smashing the status quo is a good thing. With, in my estimation, nine chances in ten that the Right will benefit from such a smash-up at this juncture rather than the Left or any reasoned Center, I am not so sanguine. That a Trump versus Clinton knock-down drag-out will leave the nation more angry and divided frightens me. There’s trouble ahead, economic and environmental, and we’re moving further and further away from any rational response.

      1. Brindle

        I agree mostly. I think it is important to separate words from actions. Hillary is proven warmonger and her decisions and choices have strongly contributed to the carnage that is the MIddle East / Northern Africa. Trump has no track record of being in public office so it is something of —who knows? I am leaning 3rd party.

        1. jrs

          Trump is utterly innocent as far as policy (maybe not business but policy) right now it is true. He has never governed. What he is empowering in his followers on the other hand is not so innocent.

        2. Massinissa

          Im voting for Stein too. But im scared. I feel like no matter who wins between Hillary and Trump, there will be many many many angry people out there, and in the next few years everyone on both sides are going to get angrier. Its scary.

          Im hoping against hope that maybe a Trump victory will make the far right calm down or something. At least temporarily, like for a few years, until they start getting angry again.

          1. jsn

            Far Rights have never worked that way, the more power they get the more crazy right they get until the destroy themselves or their societies or at the very best (Franco) suffocate several generations before petering out.

      2. jrs

        About the only conceivable way to have a smash up benefit the left is if left movements and left ideologies were fairly widespread in the population – widely known and believed by enough people. Although Sanders has given social democracy some currency, I don’t think it’s exactly a newsflash that they aren’t. Rather frightening right wing ideologies on the other hand … Now one could try to work on building up such left wing movements and awareness …

    5. Benedict@Large

      Excuse me? Tell Sanders supporters they need to get with the program? Seems to me it’s a little late for that. Years of treating the left like crap, and all of a sudden (i.e., once every four years, then get lost) we’re needed?

      I suppose that includes all those NAFTA-displaced factory workers y’all couldn’t give a damn about when Glass-Stiegel went by the wayside, and the CFMA was slipped in unseen at the 23rd hour? Took care of who mattered, Mrs. Clinton, didn’t you? And did you see how the number of kids slipping into poverty has gone up since y’all last reigned? Some of them are old enough to vote now. Are they supposed to get in line now too.

      See, that’s the trouble with you Blue Bloods, Hillary. You always know how to ask for stuff, but give some back in return? Nah, not happening.

      But Trump will screw me, you say. And? What’s the difference? No, I think I’m going home with someone else tonight, Mrs. Clinton. Because you’re just too much of a drag.

      1. OIFVet

        I won’t get with “the program” until Rahm Emmanuel kisses my a$$ and jumps into the deepest part of Lake Michigan. I won’t get with “the program” until Hillary apologizes for cackling like a hyena about Ghaddafy getting sodomized with a knife. I won’t get with “the program” until 0bama apologizes for inflicting 0Care upon us. Think they can scare me with Trump? At least he’s honest about all the ways he hates me and the likes of me. I respect that.

      2. participant-observer-observed

        Daily Kos was spewing this propaganda within hours of super (loser) Tuesday on Facebook, so this is just DNC owning up to its own after the fact.

        It is followed by more blame the voter meme. I told them to get lost. But a lot of people are biting the bait.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think Hillary will tack to the center to pick up “moderate,” “responsible” Republicans (like neo-con warmongers). If public option is as far left as she’ll headfake, that’s not nearly enough.

        And she’ll throw the left under the bus anyhow. The only question is timing.

    6. HotFlash

      Oh, come on. She could probably make them feel like they have a stake in her campaign without actually lying.

  4. Synoia

    TPP Threatens Indigenous Land Rights Says the UN

    Hmmm – Bug or Feature?…

    So difficult to discern….

    1. Massinissa

      For those not interested in reading the article, it says that he probably doesn’t have particularly short fingers.

        1. Chromex

          But all this short fingered analysis just shows how far down the idiocracy we have come. Among the least relevant qualifications for President is the length of their fingers ( and other allegedly associated bodyparts). In fact, history has shown us that many of those national leaders , including presidents, , with big swinging uh fingers, have a lot of blood and bad policy on their hands.
          Not that having short fingers makes Trump, or anyone, remotely qualified.

          1. Carolinian

            It’s all just a big joke going back to when Spy magazine called him a ‘short fingered vulgarian’ many years ago. Guess you had to be there.

            That said, the claim by another Post writer that the tallest candidate always wins is no doubt utterly scientific. Trump is over 6 feet.

            1. bob

              Thank you. Its a joke,

              Next thing trump will be using intersectionality to claim all slurs against him are ableist.

              He wouldn’t be wrong, just saying.

              1. bob

                It’s also rascist, if the second part is taken at face- Short fingered vulgarian. Why are you so against vulgars? What have they ever done to you?

                Can you even find vulgar on a map? No. You’re just Ignorant.

          2. jrs

            Their fingers do need to be long enough to be able to push the button though …. the last kaboom.

            alright, not everyone likes dark humor.

  5. Paranoid-but-may-be-right

    I’m a long time reader that never commented before.

    As to Trump starting his campaign in 2012 that is questionable. Trump pushing the birther issue in early 2011 was an attempt to gain national attention and gain the support with the use of soft racism. He started weekly appearances on fox and friend in April 2011.

    Perhaps I’m paranoid but I’m convinced Trump has the largest and most sophisticated astro turf internet campaign in the history of the US. I’ve come across many twitter accounts and blogs which were created in 2008 and onward that scream astroturf. You know all those people that he retweets that are racist or smear his opponents? In my opinion many look like fake users that I would guess were made by Roger Stone’s dirty tricks brigade.

    Or maybe I’m just crazy?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Who is the mastermind? It’s not the blue blood GOP. They had Jeb and even discussed Mittens. Trump is hitting Hillary on trade, and he won’t let up.

      Trump likes attention. He might even despise Jeb, a shared cultural hallmark of America, but I think he started off having fun because he would draw a crowd. Jeb never climbed out of the basement when GOP voters were supposed to get serious to defeat Hillary. Instead of addressing concerns, Jebs sheepdogs went after Trump.

      Around this time, Trump went from placeholder to candidate in the minds of voters because Jeb and his cohorts weren’t just attacking Trump, they were attacking anyone who dared to defy them.

      I know this is not always popular, but voters have agency that doesn’t require puppet masters.

      1. cwaltz

        I do believe the Koch brothers astroturfed the TEA party movement, which was supposed to be a thumb in the eye of the establishment Republicans. So it certainly wouldn’t be the first time some rich old men manipulated the populace.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The Tea Party was about getting gop voters under control and preparing them for the former governor of Massachusetts. The GOP had vilified Massachusetts for so long Romney was portrayed as a liberal and sane.

          They saw the Palin love fest from their voters and we’re worried. Trump has tapped into that. Even after everything about Palin came out, 59 million people thought it’s more Important to put her a heart beat away from the Presidency than vote for a black guy.

          The Coch brothers loved Cantor, but Cantor was opposed by their voters.

      2. Chromex

        Well I am pretty sure that the mainstream GOP sending in Chatsworth Osborne Jr to say that Trump cannot be trusted, is a sign of extreme panic, not a wise strategic move. This whole Trump thing should be interesting to watch. Me, its Sanders or Stein come election time. I am more scared of Lady Macbeth without a conscious than President Comancho.

    2. Massinissa

      Then why would all those accounts follow far right accounts and stuff? Is that part of the plan too, to make him look more like a far right KKK supporter than he really is? Seems doubtful to me.

    3. alex morfesis

      Oh krap I am winning…every morning el donaldo wakes up and all he sees in the mirror is groundhog day…and he screams at the tv…how can I be winning…what kind of a crazy country was I born in that…oh crap I am winning…

      This was all about making “his brand” gr8 again…and he now has to deal with his unmitigated success…

      Oh krap I am winning…to be followed by…”now what” the day after his victory against the democratic nominee…followed by…”holy shit…how did I get into this mess” his first nite after the inauguration…

      1. cwaltz

        I suspect it may have started that way but at some point he came to realize there is a lot of potential for grift in politics.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Who are they expecting to come to town? The Bernie Rebellion? Or the Establishment Repubs mounting a violent coup to save the party from Trumpmania? Hahaha.

      But yeah, storm troopers, clubs and pepper spray. Welcome to democracy, US style.

      1. RP

        Oh to see fat white republicans waddling around in Cleveland summer heat getting truncheoned by riot police.

        Please, Cthulhu, make it so.

    2. Daryl

      Good idea, maybe being pumped full of beanbags will knock some sense into the Republicans. Wait, they’re not going to use it on them?

    3. Steve in Flyover

      Looks like a business opportunity to me. If only I had a little working capital…….

      “Riot equipment rental”

      Think about how much cities could save, renting the gear every five years or so, instead of buying it, using it once or twice, then putting it in a warehouse for five years.

      1. Rhondda

        A true neoliberal would vertically integrate that riot equipment rental bizniz right into the campaign.

    4. RUKidding

      They’re right to be concerned. A lot of the hoi polloi are, literally, armed and dangerous… and itching for a fight if their new Idol doesn’t get the nod.

      If I lived in Cleveland, I think I’d plan to take a vacation around that time (really).

    5. different clue

      Wouldn’t it be interesting if every single little bussiness owner or mini-professional who did not approve of the R party were able to make arrangements now to close their bussiness for the duration of the convention? And if everyone else in Cleveland who disliked the Rs or were afraid of getting caught in a police riot and were able to arrange to vacate the city for the R convention were to go ahead and do so?

      Wouldn’t it be great if the Rs came to Cleveland and found it even halfway as empty as Napoleon found Moscow when he invaded? Hopefully without any fires, of course.

  6. Roland

    At the same time the drought hit Syria, Syria was also adopting a series of neoliberal reforms to make the country more attractive to foreign investors, including the removal of fuel subsidies and agricultural price supports. Meanwhile, the massive influx of refugees (numbering over a million, i.e. the demographic equivalent of the USA receiving over 10 million refugees), caused by the American invasion of Iraq, had already caused a housing crisis in the major cities.

    It was a fatal combination: a major refugee crisis, the strain of major economic restructuring, and the onset of a major drought. Any one of these things could be politically destabilizing. Few countries in the world could withstand all three at once.

    1. Massinissa

      Did they ever reinstate the fuel subsidies and price supports during the civil war?

    2. Darthbobber

      Not going to throw in a batch of links, but I have a lot of info relating to the economic “reforms.”
      Short version- 07-09 the IMF couldn’t think of enough nice things to say about Assad and all the forward-looking things he was doing to get past those bad old statist policies of his dad. (Including just way cool things like spending money to create a stock market.)
      Also a long report from ’07 by German financial think tank DIW evaluating investment opportunities in Syria, from which you’d be hard-pressed to see any serious problems in the country.

      Oddly, there was a similar dynamic in Libya. Qadaffi was also in midstream on implementing this sort of reforms (which also undercut the regime’s traditional methods of legitimating itself to the people) at the point where the excrement struck the rotating blades.

    1. Massinissa

      Black people have big muscles, so the Police consider them always being ‘armed’. /s

  7. fresno dan

    “Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, warning that “anarchist extremists” are equivalent to ISIS and young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to “suspicious” countries are more likely to commit horrific violence” [Alternet]. “This overwhelming threat is then used to justify a massive surveillance apparatus, wherein educators and pupils function as extensions of the FBI by watching and informing on each other.” The FBI’s “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” has been iterated for five years, under a totally not authoritarian and distinctly not fascist Democrat administration.

    Too bad Vox doesn’t accept comments…
    Of course, they might get all into a tizzy to find that the path to Fascism started prior to Trump….(see Vox article in Links today)

    The good news is that I’m not in high school – – I imagine my “permanent record” is so yellowed with age it is illegible, and the “wobblies” no float list (back when zeppelins plied the air currents …) was never updated to what you young-uns call “fixed wing”

    1. Gareth

      In 1966, at the age of 16, I turned in an assigned paper on the war in Vietnam which came to the wrong conclusions, that the war was unwinnable and the U.S. should withdraw. My Civics teacher turned the paper over to a local FBI agent who visited my parents, demanding to know where my treasonous, communistic ideas came from. I would like to say that they bravely stood up to him but in fact they were scared shitless. I am still grateful to that teacher because I learned more from that incident, about how the government actually works, than I ever learned in his class. I should have asked for extra credit.

      1. Massinissa

        If I were you, and if I were a complete dipshit, I would have called him like 6 years later and been all like, “Hey remember that time I turned in a paper, and you called the police? Well, I was the only one in the class who got the question right, the rest all got the question wrong. Have a nice day!”

      2. tejanojim

        In 1990, at age 10, I wrote an article in my 5th grade class newspaper opposing the first Iraq war. The teacher bounced it, and my parents, who brought me to the peace rally at which I got the anti war buttons I proudly wore, caved immediately. While the rest of my grade was enjoying free play outside at the end of the year, I was stuck in the classroom writing a horrid little puff piece on the process of putting a newspaper together. I too, learned a lot from that experience.

        1. fresno dan

          March 3, 2016 at 3:38 pm

          March 3, 2016 at 3:54 pm

          March 3, 2016 at 4:34 pm

          I hope you learned that “Land of the free, home of the brave” is just an advertising slogan….and like all advertisements, is exactly opposite of reality….

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          In 1970 I was a thirteen-year old who decided to join the Socialist Worker’s Party when I was inspired by my art teacher. I was also very interested in pyrotechnics at the time and was receiving literature from gunpowder and fuse manufacturers.
          They started opening my mail, everything I received had been surgically split at the fold and then taped shut with a superthin clear tape.
          After I wrote a few letters to the guy opening and reading my mail, it stopped. Every time I cross a border today however I’m sure I’m still on a list somewhere.

    2. jrs

      Is there a difference between bottom up authoritarianism (the people calling for authoritarians) and top down authoritarianism (the police state, the NSA etc.) though? For instance W’s policies were fairly authoritarian one could certainly say, but did the civil liberties violations themselves ever have all that much support even among Republicans who would rather die than vote for a Dem?

      Yes the U.S. government has long had police state tendencies, but I’m not sure it is always because they have mass popular appeal (it’s because it’s what is needed to maintain a vastly inequitable society perhaps, whether or not the people like it).

      1. Steve in Flyover

        It’s human nature. People actually like tyrants, as long as they are THEIR tyrants, and are tyrannical to other people.

        Look at Russia. Tons of people in Russia think Stalin was an okay guy.

  8. Bev

    Bernie Supporters, Supporters of Democracy, and Truthful Journalists please review statistician Richard Charnin’s work:

    MA Primary: Unadjusted Exit poll Indicates Bernie won
    MA Primary: Late changes to the exit poll indicates the election was likely stolen

    Richard Charnin
    Mar.3, 2016 (updated for CVS analysis)

    Just like the MA 2014 Governor race, the primary was likely stolen. The exit poll, AS ALWAYS, was adjusted to match the recorded vote. The adjustments should not be made. Why? It is unscientific and does not reflect the true exit poll results. It also serves to cover-up the fraud (see the 2004 and 2008 National Exit Poll adjustments below).

    Sanders led the UNADJUSTED MA exit poll after 1297 respondents at 8:01 pm by 52.3-45.7%. Clinton won the RECORDED (bogus) vote (1406 respondents) by 50.3-48.7%.

    How could Clinton gain 114 respondents and Sanders just 7 among the final 109?

    There is a 97% probability that Sanders won given the 3.55% (2.72%+0.83%) margin of error (0.83% is the 30% exit poll cluster factor).

    Win Prob = 97% = normdist (.534, 0.5, 1.3* MoE/1.96,true)

    CNN UNADJUSTED Exit Poll: 8:01PM (1297 respondents, 3.55% MoE)
    see chart

    1. nycTerrierist

      Thanks for posting. This is important. And very disturbing!

      I don’t understand why exit poll numbers are ‘adjusted’, unless it’s to conceal corruption.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s just a poll, a survey. Sampling gets adjusted all the time.

        If the ballot counts are off, well, there needs to be some evidence of election fraud.

        1. Bev

          Dear Lambert, I asked Richard Charnin about your question/statement, and he replied:

          from: Richard Charnin
          March 4, 2016 at 3:30 pm

          Lambert The evidence which proves election fraud is that the deviations are in one-direction only.
          For example, in 1988-2008, 135 of 274 state presidential exit polls exceeded the margin of error.
          At the 95% confidence level, only 14 would be expected.

          Of the 135 which exceeded the MoE, 131 red-shifted to the GOP candidate.
          The joint probability of the exit poll deviations to the GOP is E-100.


          If you want to believe this is due to bad polling, that is your choice.

          Thank you Richard.

          I have to say I am with Richard Charnin on this.

  9. DJG

    Rule 40? I can beat that. Through the Looking-Glass:
    At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!’ and read out from his book, `Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.’

    Everybody looked at Alice.

    `I’m not a mile high,’ said Alice.

    `You are,’ said the King.

    `Nearly two miles high,’ added the Queen.

    `Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,’ said Alice: `besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.’

    `It’s the oldest rule in the book,’ said the King.

    `Then it ought to be Number One,’ said Alice.

    The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily. `Consider your verdict,’ he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.

  10. DJG

    Antidote: Bleeding hearts. A handsome plant. Here in the Midwest, they make an appearance in spring especially in graveyards. So they tug at the heart-strings, too.

    There is a white variant out. I have seen locally (North Side of Chicago). It seems a bit too pure, somehow.

    1. Uahsenaa

      White would completely ruin the effect, though… what’s the point in creating such an unnecessary hybrid?

  11. jo6pac

    There’s good news on the hillabilly run for potus, google do no harm has her back. This would make E. Barneys and J. Gobbles proud.


    I don’t no anything about research but if this fellows are right then the cia seed money used to start google was will worth it.

    I’ll be voting Green but we the people are screwed if it is one the 2 parties that are the same:(

    1. shinola

      Interesting article – thanks for the link!
      “Search Engine Manipulation Effect” indeed.

  12. ekstase

    “Once we have precisely localised the repeater’s position on the sky, we will be able to compare observations from optical and X-ray telescopes and see if there is a galaxy there,”

    In the future, elections will mean nothing, as people will simply get up and leave for the galaxy of their choice.

  13. jgordon

    New Chris Hedges post on Trump: The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism

    While reading it I suddenly recalled from my time studying political science that primary characteristic of Fascism was not in fact the merger of state and corporate power as I’d been thinking (though it’s certainly a big component!), but rather the abandonment of rationalism and empiricism. In Fascism things like facts and reason are the enemy; the only thing that matters is the emotional experience. And that is where its power lies and it’s why Trump supporters are unaffected when the Party apparatchiks and intellectuals point out just how horrendous Trump’s record is.

    Lawyers and politicians and liberal arts professors use high-minded concepts and intricate reasoning to push their agendas forward, and meanwhile every day the simple guy on the street who is just trying to survive is getting screwed harder and harder. For these people who have been overtly patronized and despised by the upper castes for decades, there is something very satisfying about just saying, “fuck your fancy rhetoric; I’m gonna kill you”. And now a bunch of these people are getting together and organizing. The parallels to 1930s Germany are really striking.

    1. Massinissa

      I agree, but, doesn’t it make you sort of question your idea of how ‘fun’ this election is all going to be? Though I do suppose being able to vote for Mussolini DOES sort of have its amusing appeal, but at the same time its really scary.

      Personally I think we are more 20s Italy than 30s Germany. I kinda figure Hitler will pop up somewhere in the EU and we will just get Il Duce Trumpolini first, paving the way for 21st century Hitler.

      1. jgordon

        Yes, I would classify seeing various elites and intellectuals guillotined (after a proper trial of course) as “fun”. That these people need to be dispensed anyway for the survival of our planet is only an added bonus.

        Our entire intellectual and rational framework for existence is an existential threat to life on earth. It’s going to take some seriously ugly events to destroy that framework and free us from its tyranny, and Trump at least offers a glimmer of hope in that regard.

      2. Uahsenaa

        I would like to suggest Taisho era Japan as an interesting parallel, since it has one of the more important analogues to our current situation. Coincident with the rise of people like Tojo was a fairly consistent popular, leftist movement whose major leaders were eliminated through a series of political assassinations. Both the authoritarian government that took over as well as that populist and vaguely Marxish movement arose at the same time and out of the same dysfunction, namely the oligarchic system that had been in place since the Meiji Restoration. On the one hand, you had people marching and campaigning for direct democracy, while at the same time you had the military working its machinations to take over.

  14. Ranger Rick

    I could totally see Trump and Sanders running independent if they fail to get the nomination of their respective parties. Trump is self-funding and Sanders owes the DNC establishment less than nothing after their active interference in his campaign.

    A four-way split in the election would be the best thing since sliced bread.

    1. jgordon

      Jesse Ventura just stated that he’d get into the race too if Hillary is the nominee–and I think that he’s at least half way serious considering his record. That would be a 5 way split!

    2. RP

      Let chaos reign

      Down with the oligarchy and their two-party war machine

      la solution est la guillotine

    3. cwaltz

      Sanders isn’t going to make an independent bid. He gave his word to the DNC he wouldn’t. Unlike the DNC, he is principled. He’ll keep his word.

      1. TomD

        He did say he wouldn’t because he doesn’t want a radical right winger wining the presidency, but there is a radical right wing vote split, I think he could jump in without compromising his principles.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        True, but if the DNC breaks their end of the implicit bargain with chicanery I think he’s entitled to do whatever he wants.

        I found that interview in Democracy Now yesterday saddening. The kind of pressure we need to bring to bear takes a movement. But Sanders is running a campaign. That doesn’t auger well.

        1. jgordon

          Another way to put it is that Sanders is dead set against upsetting any apple carts. Not only does that not augur–it augurs a complete lack of will or desire to challenge the status quo in any meaningful way. And in an election cycle where people are desperate to destroy the establishment, who are we left with?

          This is what my intuition has been telling me all along: Bernie is a great guy and has great ideals but he’s just not cut out to satisfy the needs of the electorate this time around. He’s been testing the edges of where he needs to go, and that accounts for the support he’s gotten so far, but he won’t make the leap. Sad for America.

        2. cwaltz

          I think he has some very real concerns about what happens if he doesn’t succeed in upsetting the apple cart. He doesn’t see a third party bid as viable. It’s one of the reasons he ran as a Democrat.

          I disagree with him strategically on what should happen if he loses to Hillary Clinton but I will still respect him for being a man of his word(and I personally think it is brilliant that he TRIED to get reform down within the parameters of the system we have. He used the Democratic Party against itself and exposed their perfidy. That’s a big ol’ Bravo from me!)

          I think a lot of our conversations going forward are going to result in disagreements because there definitely are different degrees of pragmatism each of us are comfortable with and levels of comfort with what the opposition will do with power should the left fail at reform with the system that we presently have.

          I’ve decided on my strategy. It’s not perfect or infallible. I’m not going to fault someone for taking a different strategy when I know my own is far from fool proof and that my plan focuses more on the long run than the short run. Some people may not have the luxury of looking at things the way I do(for example I might not fault someone muslim in the US for voting for Hillary instead of Trump even though I wouldn’t. Trump’s comments are scary and in the interest of their own interests I certainly wouldn’t expect them to behave like sacrificial lambs.) *shrugs* All the system we have is offering us is imperfect choices.

  15. Jim

    The intuitive political/emotional brilliance of Trump is his capacity to carry on an apparently intimate dialogue with his audience (as the insider, giving us common plebs insights into how things really work and as the insider who is really going to economically and culturally protect us from the multinational and financial monoliths).

    Trump, if he continues on this emotional/political path, may be about to unleash(and he may not even understand this himself completely) the most profound class/cultural conflict this country has ever faced.

    If the Republican establishment thinks this type of powerful emotional and authoritarian populism can be contained by their usual bankrupt political messages they are well beyond redemption.

    The orthodox left (i.e the Sanders campaign) has a short window of opportunity to begin a series dialogue with this incipient movement but they will most likely blow it, secure in their mistaken belief that their own brand of a more authoritarian state-centered populism offers a genuine alternative to Trump when, in fact, it primarily benefits not the working stiff but the usual upper-middle class experts, technocrats and professionals of various sorts and is a message as bankrupt and outdated as those of the orthodox Republicans

    1. Jim Haygood

      You can drop the ‘If …’ in the third paragraph: they ARE well beyond redemption.

      Time for a betting pool on which destructs first, the Rs or the Ds. For now, the Rs are leading. Wheeling out Mitt Romney to attack the party’s leading candidate definitely tops Hillary’s blunder of using Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem to lecture millennials about feminism.

      But never count out the D party’s ability to roar back from behind. If Hillary (or one of her aides) gets indicted after cinching the nomination, the D party establishment is Wile E. Coyote past the cliff edge, doing a double take at the empty air underfoot.

      The Depublicrat duopoly is a two-legged stool. Break one leg, and the whole hollowed-out structure topples like Saddam’s statue. The delirious crowd won’t even have to be trucked in to cheer for the cameras. As the Mickey D’s slogan goes … “I’m lovin’ it!”

      1. Carolinian

        Re your last graf I think you may be right. But here’s guessing the party bigs will make their peace with Trump once he appears inevitable. Even that chinless dildo McConnell (to steal Samantha Bee’s description) will start calling him Donald.

        1. RUKidding

          I suspect that’s correct. I’ve stated for a while that eventually they’ll all get in line to kiss Trump’s heiny. Christie was just first outta the gate to be Trump’s main bitch.

          However, watching the current meltdown is tres amusant, to say the least.

          1. cwaltz

            It’s not going to be amusing when instead of applying that guillotine to the people whose policies have essentially been harming people, he starts to decide to sacrifice the powerless to his blood hungry base to appease them(and so he can collect his grift.)

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If a nominee gets indicted after the convention, what happens then?

        The VP candidate takes over? Another convention to re-do the nomination? Go down fighting with the nominee?

        1. Jim Haygood

          You need to ask? She doubles down.

          To-do list, Jan 20, 2017:

          (1) Pardon self.
          (2) Fire that federal prosecutor who indicted me.
          (3) Tap his phone and sic the IRS on his ass.

          1. cwaltz

            It’s going to be a clash of the branches. While she’s busy working on pardoning herself the GOP House will be holding hearings to work on impeaching her.

      3. HotFlash

        But never count out the D party’s ability to roar back from behind.

        Yeah, and there’s also their unparalleled ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It is a delicate matter to strike exactly the right balance. I wonder if they can do it.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve felt this way for a long time. The two parties prop each other up. If one goes, the other does.

        I’d say there are four wild cards.

        1) Clinton indictment, based on the FBI investigation (and the FBI has some real autonomy, so it’s not clear Obama or Lynch could turn the investigation off)

        2) Clinton corruption implosion, based on Judicial Watch getting the other half of Clinton’s emails into the public record (and the FOIA request seems pretty strong, even though the judge is a Clinton appointee)

        3) Clinton health issues, since Coumadin dosage is related to stress

        4) An economic implosion of some sort from Europe or China. Nobody who doesn’t ride the Acela thinks the economy is any good at all, and any sort of implosion increases anxiety and works against the incumbents. McCain/Palin, horrid though they were, were even with Obama in 2008 — until Lehman, when the Democrats’ lingering good will on the economy gave the race to Obama. But I think Obama ran that good will down to zero; that’s the message of 2010 and 2014.

        “Events, dear boy, events!”

  16. Jim Haygood

    Today the most troubled sector of the market — energy, represented by the sector fund XLE — reached a new high for 2016. It is actually up a fraction in price since Dec 31st, after being down almost 15% in January.

    I sense a disturbance in the Force. Gold’s rise this year suggests that a whole constellation of factors — such as the strong U.S. dollar — may have reached an inflection point a few weeks ago.

    If this is so, then things could start looking up for emerging markets and commodity-oriented economies. Brazil’s horrendous 3.8% decline in GDP in 2015 (by comparison, the U.S. economy shrank 2.8% in 2008) may be a “darkest before dawn” news story.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If your economy depends on iron ore exporting, you are in trouble, as China is looking to make millions of steel workers redundant in the next 2 or 3 years.

      Excess capacity in the sector, they claim.

      There are many sectors with the same problem, unfortunately, over there.

      Have they been already discounted?

      Is it time to get back into commodity-oriented economies?

      1. Jim Haygood

        That’s the hypothesis to be tested with the craazyman portfolio, 30% of which is emerging market stocks (EEM).

        They are quite cheap in valuation, compared to the U.S. But cheap stuff can get even cheaper. Gold’s recent rise is the clue of a possible regime change.

          1. Jim Haygood

            It’s an idea. Give it a few weeks, so we have some dots to plot. ;-)

            First day’s return … +0.86%

            Benchmark (50% SPY, 50% AGG): +0.25%

  17. Kevin DeNardo

    Regarding Trump: We are reaping what we have sown with our long-dilapidated and neglected education system. Trump loves the uneducated – and we’ve been spitting ’em out in droves.

  18. Steve in Flyover

    (Tin foil hat on)

    The Republican establishment WANTS Trump elected.

    So they bad mouth him, knowing that he will draw everyone who hates the current batch of Repubs.

  19. afisher

    RE: Restaurant Help. Raise the Minimum Wage.

    Today, Costco announced new wage increases for their employees. Costco Wholesale Corp. will lift its minimum wage for the first time in nine years, by a $1.50 an hour, as the labor market tightens and competitors start giving workers a raise.
    The second-largest U.S. retailer will start paying at least $13-to-$13.50 an hour, up from $11.50-to-$12 an hour, the company said Thursday in a conference call with analysts. The increase will cut its earnings per share in the next three months by 1 cent, and by 2 cents in the following three quarters, the Issaquah, Washington-based company said.

    Whether or not this has anything to do with the ending of the contract with American Express – above my pay grade. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-03/costco-raising-minimum-wage-as-competition-for-workers-grows

  20. Steve H.

    – Democratic establishment has a Southern strategy, where states Democrats will never win in the general determine who runs in the general.

    Quote of the Day.

    1. RUKidding

      Yeah that’s been noticed for a long time, and of course, nothing’s been done about it. Fancy that.

    2. RP

      We must nominate a sufficiently conservative democrat. We can’t have any actual progressives sneaking on to the ticket, democracy be damned.

      HRC = dream candidate for that mindset. She’s Richard Nixon in a dress.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Hillary Milhous Clinton to Bryan Pagliano, when Bryan suggested a private server:

        “We could do that, Bryan. But it would be wrong, that’s for sure.”

      2. RabidGandhi

        “HRC=Nixon in a Dress”

        Utterly disagree.

        Nixon signed the EPA into law, expanded WIC foodstamps, was the last president to increase minimum wage in line with inflation… He was miles to the left of Clinton.

        Furthermore, Nixon was an outsider from the Washington power clique, which most certainly facilitated his downfall, whereas HRC is “lucky in her enemies” precisely because she is a part of that clique.

  21. JohnB

    Just came across this – a ‘country simulation’ video game, which seems to have its own limited inbuilt economic system, and it’s even classed as an ‘educational’ game…

    I haven’t played it, but upon limited reading for problems with the games view on economics, soon learned that it has a single interest rate variable on national debt (i.e. affecting all existing debt, not just new debt – not how things work in reality), which can suddenly land you in the economic shitter – and well, overall it’s a game that just appears ripe for economic propaganda,

    1. HopeLB

      How about a game where a 99% tries to get get past lobbyists in the halls of Congress to actually speak with their representative?

  22. fresno dan


    Nearly half of children in the United States live dangerously close to the poverty line, according to new research from the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Basic Facts about Low-Income Children, the center’s annual series of profiles on child poverty in America, illustrates the severity of economic instability and poverty conditions faced by more than 31 million children throughout the United States. Using the latest data from the American Community Survey, NCCP researchers found that while the total number of children in the U.S. has remained about the same since 2008, more children today are likely to live in families barely able to afford their most basic needs.
    According to NCCP researchers, the number of poor children in the U.S. grew by 18 percent from 2008 to 2014 (the latest available data), and the number of children living in low-income households grew by 10 percent. NCCP defines a low-income household as one where incomes fall below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Threshold (e.g., $48,016 for a family of four with two children in 2014). A family is considered poor if its earnings are below 100 percent of the poverty threshold (e.g., $24,008 for a family of four with two children in 2014).

    I’m sure the repub debate will have an informed, vigorous, passionate debate about poor children in the US, and the myriad of repub proposals to alleviate this problem…
    (Of course, the dems will reduce childhood poverty once they get TPP passed on all those silly Sanders scheme safely put to bed…because all those trade deals have been SO marvelous for the people at the bottom)

    Whoa!!!! Sorry, that whiskey, cocaine, ecstasy cocktail I drank and marijuana cigar I smoked for lunch really was giving me some hallucinations….

    1. Montanamaven

      So Important to remind people about Honduras. I think that was her first experiment in “regime change” aka another way to steal people’s stuff. I mean first as an offlcial not First Lady. Although she voted for the Iraq War as a Senator, but she was just one of many. Maybe this was her first foray into being “presidential”. Then she went on to much bigger game I.e. Libya. Who can school The Bern to start with Honduras? Which is why we had a lot of refugees.

  23. ewmayer

    I suggest we need a snappy moniker to describe the kind of voter mindset behind much of the Trump and Sanders success, one which is not so much narrowly “single-issue” as having its core issues – e.g. kleptocratic economics, MIC-enriching imperial adventurism, and the pathologically corrupt DC officialdom ultimately responsible for both – crudely but effectively covered by Lambert’s “kick to the gonads of the establishment”.

    Schadenfreude voters, perhaps?

  24. Darthbobber

    The NYT piece on turnout. Just the opening line left me rolling on the floor:
    “Hillary Clinton set out 10 months ago to inspire and energize the Democratic Party, hoping to bring together the rising American electorate of black, brown, young and female voters into a durable presidential coalition.”
    As my mother would say: “You’d sure have to know it to know it.” If the Times thinks this is a description of reality, that’s really sad.

    The great bait-and-switch operation that was Hope and Change actually helps Clinton in the primary, due to the heavy injection of cynicism it injected the Democratic constituency (and particularly the target “youth” of eight years back) with. But alas, that’s not a fine-tuneable thing. You can’t sell a narrative of Democratic impotence as your excuse for every undesirable thing in eight years, double down on the same thing in an effort to cool out primary opposition and then magically flip the switch the other way in the run to November.

    And the singular tone-deafness of the democratic apparatus continues. I can’t count the memes and the tweets from line-followers touting the achievement of NEAR FULL EMPLOYMENT and flogging AWESOME STOCK MARKET NUMBERS (though they’ve dropped off on that last a bit.) Its almost as if they think they are in a position to claim “mission accomplished” on the economy, and tell the band to play “Happy Days are Here Again”. And millions of people look at their own lives, and their own communities, and feel absolutely no connection between this propaganda and their own lived experience. (If this seems similar to the “summer of recovery” campaign theme of 2010, its because it is.)

    To propose to run anybody on the premise that things are really fundamentally sound at this point, and all that’s needed is a little wonkish tinkering around the margins is little short of insane. To do so with a standard-bearer who the majority of DEMOCRATS regard as of questionable honesty takes it to a whole other level.

  25. Political Economist

    >A new group called Black Votes Matter, led by Democratic strategists based in New York, is trying to raise $25 million for a new effort to identify and energize African-American voters. Charlie King, a former executive director of the New York Democratic Party, said the group would focus on five states where black voters were particularly pivotal for Democrats and where, in some cases, lawmakers had also imposed new voting restrictions in recent years.

  26. Stephen Rhodes

    The link to The New Criterion (the piece on Albert Speer) led me to their musing on the passing of Scalia:

    It is already clear that the partisan tussle over Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court will be nasty and unedifying. We suppose that it was ever thus. So far as the Constitutional issues are concerned, we believe that the legal scholar John Yoo summarized the lineaments of the situation. “The Senate has no constitutional obligation to fill any vacancies on the courts or in the executive branch,” Yoo wrote in National Review.

    I prefer my tendentious stuff from the other end of the spectrum. Just saying.

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