2:00PM Water Cooler 4/21/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“In his reply to BP, [the EU’s energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger,] said that he shared the firm’s views on a guarantee for unlimited crude oil and gas exports being included in a TTIP free trade deal and welcomed more ‘thoughts’ from the company” [Guardian]. “Oettinger regularly hosts alpine retreats for government ministers, bankers and captains of industry. In 2013, these included executives from Shell, Statoil, GDF Suez, EDF, Alstom, Enel and ENI, although not BP.” How cozy!

“[I]t it is not absolutely necessary to include corporate sovereignty provisions in a trade deal to protect companies, because there is always the state-to-state mechanism that can be invoked if necessary” [TechDirt]. Compelling logic (with example). Why, it’s almost as if ISDS was meant to be a supra-national entity, above all states.


Comment on the Republican Primaries: Readers, I know I don’t have great volumes of Trump material, and I’m sorry-not sorry. I think the Republican nomination will come down to College Republican-level factional infighting in Cleveland, so there’s no story until the convention begins. Unless Paul Ryan starts growing his beard again, of course.

Comment on the Democratic Primaries: On the Sanders campaign, I’d remind readers that Rome wasn’t burnt in a day; you lose until you win, as they say. In 2000, an insurgent Ralph Nader got 3.58% of the New York vote. In 2016, an avowed Socialist got 40%. That’s a testimony to the terrible stewardship the 1%, through the political class, has exercised over the country; but it’s also testimony to a lot of patient work on a generational time-scale. An order of magnitude increase for insurgency in 16 years is not too shabby.

On the Clinton campaign, their body language says they think they’ve won the nomination (then again, “Events, dear boy. Events!”) But that doesn’t mean they’ve won the platform, it doesn’t even mean they’ve won the election, and it certainly doesn’t mean they win the future. We can also expect a lot of Democrat masks to be removed in the next few months, and a face that looks a lot like Karl Rove’s to be revealed. It also may be that the difference between liberal and left will become even more pronounced. Now, whether anything I’ve said translates into continued small donor contributions to the Sanders campaign remains to be seen; see below under Money. (For me, victory has always consisted not in the nomination but in a standalone entity, built round the Sanders platform, that would pressure both parties from the outside.)


“Why the S.E.C. Didn’t Hit Goldman Sachs Harder” [The New Yorker]. Suspense builds…

“Trump: Bankers Who Acted ‘Purposely’ Illegally Should Be Jailed” [Bloomberg]. Trump should hire Bill Black. Oh, wait…

“How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk” [New York Times]. “As Hillary Clinton makes another run for president, it can be tempting to view her hard-edged rhetoric about the world less as deeply felt core principle than as calculated political maneuver. But Clinton’s foreign-policy instincts are bred in the bone — grounded in cold realism about human nature and what one aide calls “a textbook view of American exceptionalism.” And it’s working out great!

Our Famously Free Press

And speaking of Democrat masks being removed, this on “Correct the Record,” the public relations shop David Brock is running for the Clinton campaign:

First, the key “lesson learned” with #BernieBro can only be that a Big Lie can succeed, since there was no data to support the term, and the writer who coined it repudiated it. So watch for a giant tsunami of bullshit that makes what we’ve already seen look like a ripple. Second, in an age of panic over shrinking newsrooms, where PR pays and reporting doesn’t, “Correct the Record” will be able to make successful offers to many people, some hitherto respected. Third, Brock also runs Media Matters; that’s the outlet with a good brand, so watch for him to corrupt it.

“… I see that @drvox is writing a big piece on carbon pricing – and agonizing over length and time. I don’t want to step on his forthcoming message…” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. Nice to see message coordination in the political class, although I’m sure it doesn’t extend to electoral politics.


Sanders spent $47.5m in March, and has $17.5m cash on hand. Clinton $26.8m and $28.7m respectively [Bloomberg].

Democrat Establishment extends olive branch to Sanders:

Never mind that in exactly the same position, Clinton fought on in 2008 until the last primary, and as a result was able to cut the deal with Obama in Denver that may make her President in this campaign. So one thing Plouffe is really saying is that he doesn’t want Sanders to have the power to make a similar deal. But there’s a second subtext to Plouffe’s tweet: To stop Sanders, Clinton has to cut off his small donor oxygen, and saying they were suckered by Sanders for their donations is certainly one way to do that. It’s also scorched earth, poisoning the well, eating your seedcorn, name it. And expect the Democrat Establishment to keep doubling down on vile as we go on.

“Clinton Campaign Money Legal but Problematic” [TAP]. Notice again the refusal of what I can only call the state media to follow the money. $35 million in, sold as going to the states. $33 million passed through the states back to Clinton, and only $2 million to the states. And how whipped the states must be not to raise a peep about this. And maybe if they’d had those millions, we wouldn’t have debacle after debacle at the polls?


“Federal Regulators Let General Electric Quash Shareholder Resolution On Hudson River Pollution” [David Sirota, Business Insider]. “The ruling by the Obama administration’s SEC was a victory for GE, which has ties to President Barack Obama. The company’s employees were collectively among Obama’s top donors in 2008 and in all, they have delivered more than $689,000 to Obama’s Senate and presidential campaigns, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In 2011, Obama appointed GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The company has also regularly lobbied the SEC during Obama’s tenure, according to federal records.”

New York

“Hillary Clinton Delegate Will Oversee A New York Primary Election Audit” [Buzzfeed]. Seems legit.


Jon Ralston asks a good question:

The Trail

“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) suggested that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s campaign has gone too negative and that he should tone down attacks on rival Hillary Clinton” [Wall Street Journal, “Harry Reid Suggests Sanders Campaign Too Negative”]. Heartfelt gratitude for “I don’t want to hear about your damn emails” totally on display.

“Sanders Now Will Be Democrat For Life, Campaign Aide Says” [Bloomberg]. I doubt that will help him.

“The Daily 202: Hillary Clinton will consider picking another woman for VP. Could it be Elizabeth Warren?” [WaPo]. Betteridge’s Law.

“10 ways the Democratic primary has been rigged from the start” [Salon]. Roseann DeMaro of National Nurses United.

“This professor determines which presidential candidates would be in Game of Thrones” [Vox].

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of April 16: “The labor market once again, against a background of soft data, shows itself as the economy’s leading positive” [Econoday]. “Employers are holding onto their employees in convincing confirmation of the strength of the nation’s labor market. This report points to another solid reading for the monthly employment report.” And: “Claim levels are at 40 year lows (with the normal range around 350,000 weekly initial unemployment claims of levels seen historically during times of economic expansion” [Econintersect]. However, “If this is indeed falling because benefits have been made that much harder to get it means this channel of increased govt expenditures is disabled, and the cycle will get that much worse before it gets better” [Mosler Economics].

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, April 2016: “After emerging in March from a long run of negative readings, the Philly Fed manufacturing index edged back into contraction” [Econoday]. “New orders are at zero which indicates no change from March. Deeper contraction is the score for backlog orders.” And: “Whoops, back down” “[Mosler Economics]. But: “This is a very noisy index which readers should be reminded is sentiment based. The Philly Fed historically is one of the more negative of all the Fed manufacturing surveys but has been more positive then the others recently” [Econintersect].

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, March 2016: “The first quarter has not been a strong quarter for the economy, underscored by the national activity index which fell slightly” [Econoday]. “This report, at least in March, may be over-stating the weakness in the economy, specifically employment which, though slowing from February, remains very strong.” And: “The economy’s growth worsened based on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3 month moving (3MA) average – and remains well below the historical trend rate of growth (but still above levels associated with recessions)” [Econintersect].

FHFA House Price Index, February 2016: “failed to show much lift” [Econoday]. “The housing market has been chilly this year, occasionally showing signs of strength but, like Tuesday’s starts & permits report, more times than not moving backwards. Home price appreciation, during a time of weak wage growth, is central to household wealth.” Wealth is capital. Wage-workers don’t have it, by definition.

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of April 17, 2016: “Last week’s dip in the consumer sentiment index is now followed by a dip in the consumer comfort index” [Econoday].

Leading Indicators, March 2016: “The index of leading economic indicators rose 0.2 percent in March but follows a 2 tenths downward revision to February which is now at minus 0.1 percent. January is unrevised at minus 0.2 percent” [Econoday]. “The revision to February is important for this series which is designed to anticipate trends, specifically the outlook six months from now, more so than month-to-month change.” Caution: “The data does not exist to establish what The Conference Board’s LEI values would have been in real time – at this point only the final numbers are known. Unfortunately, knowing the current values is no assurance that a recession is or is not imminent as there is no track record of real time performance” [Econintersect].

Honey for the Bears: “Perhaps the seminal bubble-popping event was John Carreyrou’s October 16th investigative analysis of Theranos in the Wall Street Journal. John was the first to uncover that just because a company can raise money from a handful of investors at a very high price, it does not guarantee (i) everything is going well at the company, or (ii) those shares are permanently worth the last round valuation” [Above the Crowd]. “As we move forward, it is important for all players in the ecosystem to realize that the game has changed.” Gawd, I hate that “ecosystem” trope. Along with “innovation,” “disruptive,” and “startup,” count the spoons when you hear it.

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “Investors who bought bonds in Argentina’s record-breaking sale have made $597 million in profit in just two days” [Bloomberg].

Commodities: “Canada enacts moratorium on offshore oil and gas activity in Georges Bank” [Splash247]. Sensible.

Rigged Economy: “Matt Taibbi reported at Rolling Stone three days ago that the government has been fighting a pitched battle to keep 11,000 documents pertaining to Fannie and Freddie under seal in a court case. You can rest assured that some of those documents relate to Fannie and Freddie derivatives and counterparties. But that pile of 11,000 documents pales in comparison to the 25 million documents the Justice Department withheld from the public when it settled its case against Citigroup in 2014 for $7 billion. What the public got instead was a meaningless 9-page statement of facts” [Wall Street on Parade].

Rigged Economy: “U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a firebrand of strong financial regulation, wants to know why securities regulators approved Steve Cohen’s new firm as an investment adviser after barring the billionaire from managing other people’s money until 2018” [Futures].

The Fed: “As the economy continues its slow but steady climb back to full employment, how worried should we be that another downturn will hit the before that journey is complete? At a National Bureau of Economic Research conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that I attended last week, Larry Summers said he believes the chance of another recession in the next three years is 50 percent. Should that be cause for alarm?” [Mark Thoma, CBS]. “Before that journey is complete.” Honestly, what a weird trope, totally normalizing a barbaric regime that regulates “the economy” by throwing people out of work.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76, Extreme Greed (previous close: 75, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 21 at 11:39am.

The Jackpot

“The people are left impoverished, anguished and infuriated. Justice, let alone apologies, never arrives, even as a modest amount of blood money flows from the local governments. The United States, which styles itself a force for justice in the world, is to them the remote force that introduced death into their lives and treats them like they are subhuman, fit only to be targeted. At any moment, they fear, another drone could come for them” [Guardian].

Guillotine Watch

“Beverly Hills to replace public transport with self-driving cars” [dezeen]. (1) Uh-uh, no way, not even! (2) Because Beverly Hills can afford to paint lines on their roads, which they can also afford to repair. (3) The Silicon Valley glibertarian dream of destroying anything public, including public transportation. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? come to life!

Class Warfare

“4 Men with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford” [The Esquire].

“Deep down, people just want to get paid” [Bloomberg]. And deep down, the owners just want to screw them. On the whole and on the average, as the Old Mole would say. There are people of integrity who fight to do the right thing in a rancid, suppurating system. The trick is to find one!

News of the Wired

“Mad scientist shrinks Arduino to size of an AA battery” [Tech Crunch].

“Should We Feed the Trolls?” [The Atlantic]. Thoughtful.

“Of Course Congress Is Clueless About Tech—It Killed Its Tutor” [Wired]. “Lawmakers once had a body of independent technical and scientific experts at their disposal who were the envy of other nations: the Office of Technology Assessment. That is, until the OTA got axed unceremoniously two decades ago in a round of budget cuts.” By Newt Gingrich, although of course Bill Clinton fought him tooth and nail. Not: “Only a few supporters from both parties, including members of OTA’s governing board, went to bat for the agency.”

New chip card technology takes 8 to 12 seconds to process a transaction [New York Times]. But I’m sure the executives who approved it never have to stand in line, so who cares? Europeans, is this normal?

“A New Corpse Flower Could Bloom Any Day At The Chicago Botanic Garden” [Chicagoist]. Rahm? Is that you?

* * *

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 (Isolato):


Isolato writes: “We just bought a new house and got this rapturous greeting in our front (well, yard isn’t quite right).”

* * *

Readers, Water Cooler will not exist without your regular support. Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. If you enjoy what you’re reading, please click the hat!


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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. Anon

    I didn’t know that the Greed Index dealt in imaginary numbers, let alone that it was 7i last week.

    Also, how does one push back against online attackers on Instagram? Isn’t that the site where you post cropped pictures?

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Of course he’s a hypocrite. But it’s giving him way too much cred to think that he has any influence over Bernie supporters. Same with Crock’s Correct the Record – the name itself is just awesome. And MSNBC for that matter.

      1. DJG

        Yep. Just dip into the comments that came back to his tweet. No one was buying the bilgewater Plouffe is selling.

        1. Pat

          Fascinating. I get why the Clinton supporters would like to ignore the fact that her actions while SoS were actually illegal and have led to other people being indicted and even to call them GOP attacks. Still I love how they want to believe that anyone who cites Clinton’s record or lies or even facts about fundraising in general are either deluded or part of some great GOP conspiracy to run against Bernie. This from a group of people who are going to be gob smacked when who ever it is follows Trump’s lead and calls the you are treating me badly because I’m a girl whine for the crap it is and just keep coming with every lie, every corrupt action, and some she hasn’t thought about. And how she really is not ready for it. While the Clinton’s run dirty campaigns, she is not a brawler despite what her followers think. She may be able to be the guy on the steps at the street fight directing the action, but actually in the middle of it. I do not think so. This is not a dignified hearing, and brushing lint off her jacket will not even be noticed as her opponent rushes her.

          1. Archie

            Exactly. And then we’ll be told it’s all because Bernie started it and it’s the libruls fault, etc.. It’s how they roll at the DNC.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s what the Clinton campaign will try, though. Saw the same line (absent the fraud word) tested out on Clinton hive mind twitter accounts say 24 hours before.

      2. RP

        One of the great services Sanders has rendered is to essentially force all media personalities to choose whether they are establishment hacks or if they actually give a damn about democracy.

        The results have been akin to roaches scattering when the light switch goes on.

  2. Rhondda

    “To stop Sanders, Clinton has to cut off his small donor oxygen, and saying they were suckered by Sanders for their donations is certainly one way to do that.”

    Seems to me the pernicious Plouffe has stepped well beyond “suckered” — the word he used was “fraud.” Well, he oughta know, eh?

    Ptui. Perhaps I’ll just pop over and give Bernie a few bucks right this instant.

    1. nippersmom

      I’ll have to wait until payday next week, but I’ll be making another contribution (in addition to my regularly scheduled monthly donation) as well. These people really shouldn’t bring up terms like “fraud”. Some of us know what they actually mean, and could cite examples.

        1. RP

          Been projecting since he became a threat.

          The person with no honor cannot imagine the trait existing in another.

      1. John k

        Hearing the bs from hill brings up the irrisistable urge to reward Bernie for making me think there is hope.

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, one argument for funding Bernie is to make Hillary spend more and be in the spotlight more before the Republicans have a go at her. The more the public sees of her, the more her disapproval ratings rise.

      2. cwaltz

        If you can it might be a good idea to volunteer some time. From what I understand after the loss on Tuesday they have had problems with getting phonebank volunteers. They went from making 4 million calls before NY to just getting in 12,000.

    2. Roger Smith

      This should only give people even more reason to donate. These attempts are utterly pathetic.

    3. John Wright

      Does the Democratic elite believe there is zero probability that HRC will become physically incapacitated, due natural causes alone, prior to the convention?

      The Democratic elite should be ENCOURAGING Sanders for this reason alone, even if HRC’s nomination is viewed as “in the bag”.

      Plouffe could view the money flowing to Bernie as small donor’s asking Bernie to continue to influence the democrats by giving more speeches, while nobly avoiding the HRC habit of pocketing appearance fee money.

      Using the word “fraud” is hyperbole and dishonest.

      1. nippersdad

        “Using the word “fraud” is hyperbole and dishonest.”

        Absolutely! It stems from a pay for play world view, though, so it is clear that Plouffe has no clue what Sanders’ funders are actually sending him money to do. Sanders’ supporters have always known that he could lose, yet they have done it anyway. Which implies that it is the message not the man that is being hawked.

        1. nippersmom

          I guess failure to grasp that is the natural result of supporting a candidate who has no actual message (or a least not one that can be admitted to publicly).

    4. MojaveWolf

      “To stop Sanders, Clinton has to cut off his small donor oxygen, and saying they were suckered by Sanders for their donations is certainly one way to do that.”

      I gave Bernie $40 the day after NY.

      But mostly I am gobsmacked. For an HRC supporter to bring up “fraud” as something someone else is guilty of … AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Even with the entire MSM & nearly all of “progressive” media functioning as her personal propaganda arm, HRC is only ahead AT ALL because of really blatant cheating starting in NV w/the casino workers caucusing with their bosses & union bosses who supported HRC watching them, to the woman caught carrying Sanders ballots out who said she was “going to get cupcakes” to the truly absurd obvious over the top levels in AZ & NY (the only 2 states she’s won in a while, tho there was likely huge cheating in WI & very obvious cheating in WY even tho she lost both handily). Without all this sort of thing we send election monitors to other countries to stop, she’d be behind at the least and dead in the water quite possibly, and her people are talking about fraud?

      It is really, really really too bad I am not pyrokinetic.

      What I mostly don’t get is why the vast majority of media and pols who aren’t bought off aren’t calling this out more strongly. If Bernie does they can say sour grapes, but for parties outside the race, that’s not an issue, and don’t they get this can be done to them in the future, too?

      Are that many people THAT happy being told to shut up and march in lockstep? Do people really not get that allowing crap like this now just means election officials will feel free to up the obvious level if need be in the future? Do they actually not CARE about whether we live in a democracy or whether we’re wasting all this time effort & money on a rigged process w/predetermined outcomes?

      For anyone telling me to get with the program, all I got to say is that it’s a screwed up program, I’m not with it, will never be with it, and if you’re with it and supporting Hillary at this point, you are supporting the death of democracy and the death of ethics of any sort in American politics, and I think you are as scummy and phony as your candidate when you pretend not to know this. Period end stop.

      Also, assuming Bernie’s people don’t buy into the propaganda drumbeat and quit, this is still a winnable election for him even via delegate count, at least assuming they don’t fix EVERY election.

      And one more time, for anyone thinking he’s too far behind and it can’t be done, please google “phil healy bradenton herald depths of hell” or something like that. For those not wanting to, here’s the subhead (not linking coz did twice yesterday and don’t wanna try our hosts’ patience):
      Phil Healy starts 5th, hopes for 3rd then beats relay field that included Olympic-bound runner
      To further clarify, she started fifth 100 meters behind on the final leg of a 4×400. Didn’t even show up on camera till she caught the 4th place runner still well back turning for home.

      That was not fraud. It happened. But only because she kept trying. And this election is a lot more important than a relay race.

      1. alex morfesis

        $hillary is dead, long live the sandman…remember bastogne…remember the 761st tank battalion…

        it is only half time and joe montana is just getting started…

        snap out of it people…
        we have not yet begun to fart(benfranklin)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        If Clinton can discourage them from contributing via various flavors of the “inevitable” narrative, that cuts off his oxygen.

        “That loser is taking money from innocent children!” is the basic idea.

      1. flora

        adding: how about cutting off the oxygen of Hillary’s TBTF Wall St. bank mega donors? If you have accounts at a TBTF bank then think about moving those accounts to a local or regional bank.

        1. John Wright

          Could do no harm, but the TBTF banks and the banking industry have plenty of excess reserves (2358 billion) per https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/current/

          The banks would probably not miss the small deposits as they invest in HRC for the future.

          The banks only are required to have 101 billion to satisfy reserve balance requirements.

          They can certainly make many more loans if so inclined and are choosing not to.

          Note, the Fed is actively discouraging bank lending by voluntarily paying 0.5 percent to the banks for maintaining these excess reserves at the Fed.


          My cash is at a small local bank, but I don’t imaging HRC is feeling any pain as a result..

        2. John Wright

          Could do no harm, but the TBTF banks and the banking industry have plenty of excess reserves (2358 billion) per https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/current/

          The banks would probably not miss the small deposits as they invest in HRC for the future.

          The banks only are required to have 101 billion to satisfy reserve balance requirements.

          They can certainly make many more loans if so inclined and are choosing not to.

          Note, the Fed is actively discouraging bank lending by voluntarily paying 0.5 percent to the banks for maintaining these excess reserves at the Fed.


          My cash is at a small local bank, but I don’t imagine HRC’s donors are feeling any pain as a result..

  3. Mbuna

    Re new card chip technology- the 8-12 seconds has to be by DESIGN of the vendor who implements it. Case in point is my local Walgreens where a card chip transaction takes about 3 seconds every time.

    1. Clive

      Re: New chip card technology…

      As we’ve had this in Europe for ages I can say that, yes, transaction time should maybe 10 to 15 seconds or thereabouts. Quite often it is a lot quicker than that. If the transaction needs authorising by the card issuer (i.e. it’s over the merchant’s floor limit) then if the EPoS terminal has a slow link back to base then this is usually the main driver behind any latency in completing the end-to-end operation.

      “Chip and PIN” as we call it here did take a little while to get into people’s habits but it soon becomes second-nature. Most merchants want the whole thing to be completed as soon as possible unless they want to deliberately increase cashier/clerk dwell time for their own nefarious reasons. But the card schemes don’t let EPoS manufacturers mess around too much with anything detrimental to the cardholder (like wasting their time with needless steps in the card handling, prompts, ad inserting or suchlike) so there are limits.

      In the U.S. unfortunately industry foot dragging, truculent merchants, unwillingness to invest in EPoS upgrades and general crapplification has made the whole thing far yuckier to cardholders than it ever should have been.

    2. Rageon

      In Canada (at least Quebec) most merchants have terminals that allow transactions for credit card with chips to be completed wirelessly by proximity for amounts less than $50. Takes no time at all really, no signature no pin, just tap it on the terminal. Greater than $50 have to insert the card and enter a pin…Still relatively fast, on the order of a few seconds. Given the pervasiveness of this system already, I don’t think Apple Pay or any other of these smart phone apps will get any traction here…No need.

      1. JTMcPhee

        What a bunch of convenience-seduced idiots we all apparently are!

        Who fokking cares whether the chip transactions take 12 or 3 or zero seconds? Those particles of time are so important, then? Between us and our Soy Lattes and hot shoes and whatever other indulgences and yes, necessities?

        Focus, people! What are you yielding up, as you “master” the touchscreen nuances, different for each retailer, of this new test of your creditworthiness before you can complete a “transaction?” Those more or less anxious moments of waiting, before the “terminal” flashes the message that you are “approved”? The shame of having your proffered mode of payment “rejected”? The knowledge that all the good people around you, or most of them, are smugly judging you for not having “good credit” or “money” (whatever that is) “on deposit” in sufficient amount (even though “the bank” may be totally fokked up in its accounting or coding)?

        Is McDondalds (and are other rentiers) still forcing workers to accept their pay on debit cards, that charge a fee to the worker to get access to their pittance of what used to be called a “pay envelope” that actually had cash money in it? To be taken home to cover the necessities, and the leftover put into a “bank” where you knew the people who worked there, who were mostly trustworthy and prudent?

        I had a fine conversation in the checkout line at Home Depot, with my manure and annual flowers and pots of herbs and bags of mulch — mentioned to the guy in the parallel line that the chip thing was not only annoying, it was just one more hook of the Bankster rentiers into our hides, and that I’d just read about an initiative to go to implanted RFIDs with both financial and health info on them. This was a guy who, like me, was an aging veteran, and he saw absolutely no problem with a “convenient creative innovation” like a little pointed cylinder jammed into the tissues of his forearm, with all his personal (sic) information recorded and available on it. His wife pursed her lips and mumbled something about “the mark of the beast.”

        If the banks don’t tattoo “666” on your forehead, does that mean the marking by implant is A=OK?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “Who fokking cares whether the chip transactions take 12 or 3 or zero seconds”

          It’s a tax on my time, where the seconds are multiplied by the number of people in line, and those seconds multiple over a year.

          And it’s also one of those weird things where computers are supposed to make things more productive and end up crapifying experience. Seconds at a time, I grant, but one’s life is finite, no?

          1. JTMcPhee

            My thought is that people are concerned not about yet another incremental theft of their wealth and autonomy and all the stuff that “chipping away” at all parts of our lives is doing, but only or mostly about that “tax on time” and the petty inconvenience and consumer annoyance.

            I’m sure “tech” will be well able to spare us eventually from any such tax by ever more compendious and intrusive and cancerous devices and code to track us and add a different kind of rentier “tax” to our monetary transactions, eating by small bites all our personal wealth and independence.

            All while we continue to believe that we have some spurious vestige of autonomy. Love the Matrix… What the hell, ” that’s just the way it is…”

  4. James Levy

    Lambert, if things continue more or less on course Trump will get the delegates he needs to win on the first ballot, so I am unclear how you imagine the party stealing that victory from him so that they can descend into the frat-house fracas you anticipate?

    Trump is a bully who has yet to be effectively whacked in the mouth in a manner that registers with him (being called on lies and having people scold him for his ugly behavior hardly count). Are you assuming that if the Republicans have a big enough hammer to hit him where he lives, he’ll fold like most bullies are assumed to do?

    1. Christopher D. Rogers


      Given how corrupt the US Primary season has descended best we all hope Trump gains the R Presidential ticket and ensures the ‘Queen’ is denied her place as President – for lets be blunt, she could not give a fuck about any of her fellow US-citizens, never mind anyone outside of the USA unless they have furnished her with COIN, or enabled her to actually run for the Presidency.

      Much as i loath Trump, my detestation for the Clinton’s know’s no lower bound. Indeed, if I’m disgusted by Tony Blair and his bloody wife in the UK, just think how disgusted I am at Ms. Klinton in the Whitehouse.

      And, as a bonus, at least Trump for all his notable warts has no real blood on his hands yet – this cannot be said for the She beast from hell.

      In a nutshell, if I were a US-based Sanders supporters no way in hell could I bring myself to vote for those I detest. Forget the lesser of evils, the priority is now to deny Clinton her goal, that and launch a new, actual PROGRESSIVE Party that represents the interests of a majority, rather than the 1% and some much vaunted interests groups who keep getting thrown under a bus once their value drops.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I haven’t imagined it. But no doubt best minds in the Republican Party are working on it. They’re changing the Convention rules, for example. As I understand it, Republican delegates are unbound in greater and greater proportions as the votes proceed. And one might start with a credentials battle if Trump’s margin is tiny. There is plenty of historical precedent for first round leaders not ultimately winning.

      I suppose a second, and not mutually exclusive, strategy would be for Trump and the Republican Party to come to an implicit mutual agreement to normalize Trump — that’s what Manafort is doing (Trump will now use a teleprompter) and that’s what the Times did the other day, comparing him to Koch. “We can control him.”

  5. Socal Rhino

    Maybe it’s being bummed (+100 to Lambert for emphasizing movement building for the longer term) but it seems a moment to inject a not very serious comment. For any roleplayers that look here, I throw this out for comment:

    HC: NE
    BS: LG
    DT: CN
    TC: LE
    JK: ??

      1. MtnLife

        HC:NE She believes the laws don’t apply to her unlike TC and JK who will use the law for selfish purposes. So JK:LE.

          1. HotFlash

            Ah! So glad you asked. They are talking about character alignment, as originally used in Dungeons and Dragons ™ and now pretty universal in the RPG (role playing game) world. Wiki has this, and Easydamus has good descriptions of how the various alignments operate.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Parents used discipline to their kids for spending too much playing video games.

              Then, the kids grew up and made millions designing more video games.

              (It’s a closed loop and works for many things that can generate addicted fans).

              Now, for a socialist revolutionary army, we need code specialists as well.

              There is a season for everything under the sun.

  6. EGrise

    Can someone explain to me the rationale behind preventing convicted felons from voting? Haven’t they paid their debts to society and are ready to be re-integrated? Or was this always a convenient method for suppressing votes?

      1. aj

        +1. It makes sense not letting them own guns, but taking away their voting rights is solely an issue of disenfranchising minorities and the poor.

      2. RP

        divide and conquer, made easier by disenfranchisement and “othering” of different segments of the poor who should otherwise have similar class-based interests.

        If people voted their own interests, there wouldn’t even be a republican dogcatcher in this country

    1. Vatch

      There’s no good reason to prevent voting by felons who have completed their sentence and/or parole, but this text from the 14th Amendment is used as an excuse:

      But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

      1. RWood

        More appropos to this thread:
        State corrections may provide authorization for ex-felons to vote. Goog it.
        But to RU below, the past inmates of insane asylums are making time pay for privates and states, in correctional facilities.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have talked to 15 year olds who are more aware than a lot of 18 year olds.

      Why can’t they vote?

      Do they (say, ounger than 15) need to pass some kind of competency test? (Not literacy test, God forbid)

      Kids as young as 13 can be tried in court, let’s remind ourselves of that.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is there any requirement as far as IQ is concerned?

      Can people in an insane asylum vote?

      1. RUKidding

        Good Q, although there are few insane asylums around anymore.

        True Fact: there are often polling stations at a lot of Senior Citizens residencies. My parents had one in the basement where they used to live. For the last 2 years of my mom’s life, she took my poor Alzheimer’s dad down with her and, yes you guessed it, voted for my Dad (as well as voting for herself).

        Do you think it’s deliberate that polling stations can be found in homes for the aged?
        Do you think that my mom is the only person to engage in voter fraud?

        Her “excuse” was: but I voted the way he WOULD HAVE voted if he could.

        How did she get away with this?? The people dispensing the ballots gave my mom her ballot and my dad’s ballot and didn’t protest when they went into the voting stall together. Go figure.

        She adamantly refused to “get it” that what she did was illegal. Might I add that my entire extended family of rightwing fundie “Christians” all supported what she did.

        Yeah: nice family values.

        You wonder why I live as far away as possible?

        1. LifelongLib

          Don’t know the laws in your parents area, but in Hawaii a voter may be assisted by a person of their choice (other than an employer or union rep). A family member would probably be accepted without question. As a poll worker it would be very difficult to make a determination that somebody was too impaired to vote.

      2. perpetualWAR

        The term “insane” is not very considerate to those of us with mentally ill relatives.

    4. Tom Allen

      Voting laws concerning convicted felons vary greatly from state to state. In Maine and Vermont, one can vote while still in prison. In other states one can vote after release, or after parole ends, or after probation ends; but in some states, disenfranchisement can be permanent. (In Florida, for example, one must appeal to a clemency board.)

  7. different clue

    Let us hope that Warren declines the VP offer if an elected Clinton offers it. If Warren becomes Clinton’s VP, she will be forever befouled and besmirched by her contact with Clinton. She will be marginalized too.
    She will end up playing Humphrey to Clinton’s LBJ.

    So don’t do it, Warren! Don’t go there. A Clinton Administration is one La Brea Tarpit you don’t want to step into.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Sure would make the notion of impeachment more palatable!

      FWIW, I’m on the record saying Clinton will offer Warren the VP slot and Warren will take it. And it seems this idea is getting play today over at WaPo – 2 different stories.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is it possible to retroactively impeach someone?

        “Sorry, we have to confiscate your presidential library. Only non-impeached presidents get federal funding and can have them.”

      2. Pat

        I’ve been predicting impeachment for awhile. And I also believe that despite the high hurdle for conviction, she will have to resign in order to avoid it. Yeah, I think she will be so damaged by that point the usual suspects will either drop her or won’t be able to get their members to commit political suicide to give her cover. But even with that, it is not an event I took as something to look forward to seeing. Mostly because of the VP.

        Warren as VP changes all that. I’ll be counting the days. And that is complete with the knowledge that she would be even more handicapped by that beyond the obstructionism of the Republicans and the oligarch ownership of fellow Dems.

        1. edmondo

          That’s a plan:

          If Hillary looks inevitable in November. Vote straight R for US Congress. Make impeachment as inevitable as Hillary.

            1. abynormal

              so True pWar. i was breathing a sigh of relief as i realized his train of thought! Hi5 edmondo

          1. Treadingwaterbutstillkicking

            Can’t do that here in WI. Ironically voting R would likely benefit the Dem machine (at least the $hill part of the machine as noted on NC, previously linked to the WI Dem party funneling $$ to her campaign). WI has suffered royally due to the Dem elites abandoning the state and gift wrapping it for Walker, Johnson and all the other Koch cronies, but the Dems seem to use Walker and the Koch brothers as a way to raise money nationally. We suffer locally while $hill rakes it in nationally.

            Much of this likely due to Feingold having the temerity to challenge B.O. after his first election about such silly things as the Constitution and privacy matters. And as payback, DWS, BO and who knows who else never showed up in the state with money or to campaign for Russ in his last Senate campaign and also later abandoned the Teachers occupying the capitol in Madison. DWS also failed to send promised money to the state Dems I believe on multiple occasions which is especially ironic considering that they are now sending it back in such large amounts to the $hill after being sold down the river.

            Not sure what Russ had to do, but he’s been in the wilderness here, obviously doing some kind of penance to get the endorsement of Obama. A lot of people wonder why Russ has been so silent on the Presidential front with many people thinking he should just give the middle finger to the party and endorse Bernie. No way would the Hilbots abandon him at the voter level here for another Ron Johnson term. He could’ve gotten a lot of amazing energy and support behind him at the Bernie rallies, but he’s lost that now. In WI a Feingold – Sanders appearing on the same ticket in November would’ve been incredibly energizing for a state that hasn’t had a lot to be happy about for years.

            1. Left in Wisconsin

              Agree with much of what you say but not all. Feingold himself has been mostly AWOL the last six years, pining for his old job but doing nothing to fight back against Walker, et al. or to help rebuild a competent D party after Doyle slunk away.

              Feingold was, and hopefully will again be, a good senator but his view of taking on TPTB is a speech or filibuster or principled vote. He isn’t much of a fighter. And, so far as I can tell, not a leftist.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Keeping “divided government” is important.

            If the Democrats get back the legislative branch, we get TPP, a Grand Bargain, more wars… Well, we’ll probably get more war anyhow, but maybe a really big one! Gridlock is way better than that.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        Clinton would be putting a dagger into her enemies’ hands. Seems unlikely.* It also seems unlikely that Clinton would want somebody not from Clintonland near her, let alone another powerful women.

        If WaPo’s pushing it, it’s as a way to soften up Sanders supporters, before Clinton lets them down (“After serious consideration….”).

        * Actually, I might be 180° wrong. Would the Republicans really impeach Clinton, knowing they’d get Warren? Sheepdog Sanders voters, innoculate against impeachment. It’s a two-fer!

    2. Praedor

      Here here! Warren as Clinton’s VP would silence and neuter her. Her voice and views would be gagged. I hope she has the sense to say no (if she chose not to run for Prez, why would she turn around and accept the useless position of VP?). Also, any and all taint that WILL stain Hillary’s Admin, all the corruption, the investigations, the impeachment(s) will, of necessity, spill onto Warren.

      Perhaps that’s Hillary’s logic? Kill off Warren’s future as a potential Presidential nominee by soiling her with Clinton stink.

    3. Anne

      I can see where Clinton would want to get Warren on the ticket – it would be a great way to turn down the volume on Warren’s very Sanders-like message – but that is exactly the reason Warren shouldn’t be tempted.

      I’ve been getting the sense that Warren is really just coming into her own, building on a credible and sincere desire to advocate for the little people with legislation and policy – signing on with Clinton just kills that. Kills it.

      Stranger things have happened, I suppose, but my guess is Clinton will go for someone who checks one of the diversity boxes and who won’t be giving her much trouble.

      Been wracking my brain wondering who Sanders would name as his VP if he were to get the nomination – I can see Warren on his ticket, for sure, and rather than silence her, I expect Sanders would happily turn up the volume on her mic.

      1. Vatch

        Another possible position for Warren in a Sanders administration would be Secretary of the Treasury.

    4. Benedict@Large

      So the Her Evilness will tempt us all with the sweet apple of Elizabeth Warren?

      Oh, not tonight, Bishop. Not tonight.

    5. tgs

      Is Cory Booker out of the mix? I assumed he would be the pick – a slick, corrupt, neo-liberal who actually agrees with the Clinton worldview. The African-American community came up big for Hillary. I thought he was the obvious payback.

      I think that Hillary will appoint the most racially and ethnically diverse group of neo-liberals that the world has ever seen. That will keep most Democrats happy, at least for a while.

      1. neo-realist

        I think he would prefer to keep his suit clean of Clinton’s corruption and prepare his brand for 2020 or 2024.

  8. Wendys

    You only gave Bernie 40% in the New York primary. He actually got 42% and 42 is the answer to life the universe and everything!!!

  9. Synoia

    Why, it’s almost as if ISDS was meant to be a supra-national entity, above all states.

    If you include “Regulation Harmonization” a second facet to these treaties, then the “review” of new laws and regulation in light of these “Trade” Treaties is a supra national (and unaccountable) review of any parliament’s prerogatives.

    ISDS is an enforcement, or “Judicial Control” mechanism. Regulation Harmonization is the “Legislative Control” part of the Treaties. there needs be no “Executive portion of the treaties, because the other two tell the “Executive” what the should and may do.

    Please remember to mention Regulation Harmonization. It is an important part of Supra National Overlords.

    1. Ulysses

      “There needs be no “Executive portion of the treaties, because the other two tell the “Executive” what the should and may do.”

      Exactly! I fear that all of these speculations about potential HRC impeachment, etc. overlook the fact– that if the TPP/TTIP/TISA regime is finally installed, national “politics” will no longer matter. Who does or doesn’t become POTUS will be about as important as who becomes Prom Queen at the local high school. “Elected officials” will have no other purpose than to rationalize the policies of the transnational kleptocracy for the benefit of the plebes. “Democratic elections” will only provide the 99% with the sort of “representation” one gets from having a leader of your organization march in a corporate-sponsored parade.

      Electoral politics divert attention from where the real game of thrones power struggle is now being played, in the corporate boardrooms where supra-national kleptocratic policy is determined. Stopping the installation of this hugely unpopular, transnational TPP/TTIP/TISA regime needs to be our highest priority!

      On the other side, Ash Carter knows what’s at stake:

      “In terms of our rebalance in the broadest sense, passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier. It would deepen our alliances and partnerships abroad and underscore our lasting commitment to the Asia-Pacific. And it would help us promote a global order that reflects both our interests and our values.”

      Do you think that the “our” Ash Carter refers to here includes anyone who isn’t a millionaire or billionaire?

  10. different clue

    About Beverly Hills painting white stripes on its roads for self-driving cars . . . . White Stripe guerillas could frustrate that by painting the white stripes with road-colored paint, painting false white stripes, etc.

    I’m not saying they SHOULD . . . because it could be illegal for all I know. But they could.

    1. Synoia

      “White Stripes” Politically Incorrect? Is politically correct “Caucasian Stripes?”

  11. hemeantwell

    grounded in cold realism about human nature and what one aide calls “a textbook view of American exceptionalism.

    The contradictory, stupid blindness of this statement constitutes the basis of support for US foreign policy. As an exceptional nation the US is entitled to never be considered an aggressor, but rather as a values defender. That US aggressiveness, fueled by this ideological nonsense, might spur other nations to defensive behavior is simply an ontological impossibility. If you look at the front page of the NYTimes today, you’ll see it in play, full tilt. “Russians are building up their submarine fleet” must be interpreted as an aggressive act to which the US must respond. True, buried in the article they do acknowledge that the US sub fleet is bigger – not going to get caught falling for another play of Kennedy’s missile gap lying, the Times is savvvy. But there is no mention of NATO policy during the Clinton years — basically, f you Gorby et al, here we come, right up to your borders – and its continuation since then. The reckless wastefulness of the resulting arms race is appalling. Gah!

    1. James Levy

      There is something spookily similar to the mentality of a wife-beater in the American foreign policy establishment: “I wouldn’t have to hit you if you just did what I said!”. And it’s ubiquitous.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hillary: “Vote for me so that will never happen again.”

        By the way, will her face ever grace a denomination one day?

        We know the $100 bill will be soon gone and the $20 one is taken.

        What about a new denomination: $25?

        Two $25 bills make $50.

        I think someone is probably thinking, what about $69 bill?

        Or $666 – but that’s too big and only criminals use them.

        The Chinese would love $888.

        My idea?

        Put a tree in our $1 bill.

        Why a tree?

        For the sacrifice trees have made to give us money.


        Those stupid Luddite humans. Go digital.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Tree A; What is money.

          Tree B: Money is death for trees.

          (Tree A then falls, but not one single human is around. So, does it matter?)

  12. cwaltz

    Hillary Clinton- The woman with 50 home states *shakes head*

    “You’re all my favorite.”

  13. eldorado

    for a bit of a ray of sunshine, the story from links this morning about nebraska eliminating asset forfeiture is some very welcome news. it’s an odious practice, and many people are going to be helped and law enforcement corruption will be more difficult. it might even be possible to build a movement around this and prison reform.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it human nature to be never satisfied?

      You give them good pensions, and the cops still need asset forfeiture to live out their American Dream.

  14. DJG

    ahhhh, Lambert, you’re a cut-up:

    “A New Corpse Flower Could Bloom Any Day At The Chicago Botanic Garden” [Chicagoist]. Rahm? Is that you?

    Every day is a chance for Rahm to stink things up. Have you heard the one about the 1.2 billion dollar musuem that they are trying to sell us? (And yes, billion with a B. Culchuh doesn’t come cheap.)

    1. Steven

      Culture? It’s a Star Wars museum. Taxpayer money used to pump up a corporate brand. Peak Rahm.

  15. Adam Eran

    The self-driving cars may be the only transit that works in sprawl (which we’ve been building for 50+ years).

    Sprawl is a gigantic mistake. It is unhealthy (you have to drive everywhere), regressive (you must own a car) and a good way to quash public dissent about the public realm. Where would you gather to protest? In the decrepit flood plain that passes for a park? (James Kunstler’s Nowhere books go through this in excruciating detail).

    So…self-driving cars may be the least worst way to supply sprawl dwellers with public transit. The public realm can then get its foot back in the door.

    Not my favorite, but not entirely awful. Damned by faint praise?

    Meanwhile, you “activists”… a local issue for all would be land-use planning. It’s often the way their obedient servants shuffle the money to the plutocrats. David Cay Johnston reports 75% of W’s net worth comes from scamming a stadium out of the citizens of Arlington TX.

    1. Waldenpond

      Large cities push out manufacturing creating sprawl. Large cities ship out their garbage to be managed in a sprawl community. Large cities ship out their human waste to be managed in a sprawl area. Large cities push out energy plants, oh look, more sprawl. Large cities require goods, shipping centers are sprawl. Large cities require food grown in areas you call sprawl. Large cities require low wage workers who, get this, can’t afford to live in large cities and you get sprawl. You’re blaming the results. Unhealthy? Good grief. Large cities are permanently covered with a haze. Are outlying areas disease hot spots by themselves or because of a concentrated industry to satisfy a large city? I’ve always wondered what ideal city size is supposed to be and what arbitrary criteria are applied. Humans are diverse. Needs are diverse. Some thrive in cities, some in nature. There is no one way to create societies.

      1. ambrit

        A corollary is that most ‘dedicated’ public services are financed through some form of land taxation. (A visit to any local school board meeting will demonstrate this.) Since taxes in general are set via ‘valuations’ of that being taxed, the ‘maximization’ of said ‘values’ is an integral part of the process. So, land usage becomes hostage to the ‘financial’ value easiest ‘maximized’ through public control mechanisms. If some portion of the enhanced ‘value’ of the land in question ends up in the pockets of the politically ‘connected,’ well, such is the ‘price’ paid to ‘improve’ public services.
        The essence of small scale neo-liberalism; grassroots “public private” co-operatives!
        Hope spring is finally with you Lambert.
        We have already had our first bloom azaleas, camellias, heritage and hybrid roses, amaryllis, magnolia blooms, wisteria, and now, tomatoes on the bush, yellow squash flowers, zucchini squash flowers, older parsley going to seed, etc. etc. (Plus weeds galore! Mucho, mucho, exercise involved in the hand removal of them!)

  16. JustAnObserver

    A message to all Sanders supporters here any everywhere. The NYS defeat was a blow but do *not* give in to despair and, absolutely, do not let the foul tide of Clintobot coronation triumphalism drown you. From nowhere to 42% in a FIRE & MSM dominated state isn’t actually too bad.

    Don’t give in and do not, ever, back down.

    There are many primaries still to come and, when each of them has been fought to the last fraction of a %, then we will know how deep and wide this nascent movement actually is. Its already big enough for a tactical and strategic analysis to pay serious dividends.

    Maybe, paraphrasing Plank, politics does advance one funeral at a time.

  17. Snezzy

    Not only is it ‘not absolutely necessary,’ it’s not necessary at all. It’s not even logically possible. It’s important to remember there’s no such thing as corporate sovereignty. The term started as a wry joke, so it’s creepy to see it starting to be used with a straight face as a technical term. Sovereignty is responsibility: specifically, accession by a state to, at the minimum, (1) the UN Charter, (2) the International Bill of Human Rights (UDHR, ICCPR, and ICESCR), and (3) the Rome Statute. If Monsanto or J.P. Morgan or Raytheon met that standard, I would welcome our corporate overlords, because then they would then be incomparably more legitimate than the US government. But they don’t meet those standards. None of our authorities do. That means there is no sovereign state that governs us. We can set up anything we want. We’re in the recourse-to-rebellion zone.

    1. ekstase

      “How Chicago elites imported charters, closed neighborhood schools, and snuffed out creativity.”

      That last one always comes back to bite ya.

  18. Teddy

    Chip cards: yes, at least in Poland it takes about 10 seconds to process the transaction. Now banks are pushing contactless cards, which of course makes fraud ridiculously easy (just steal a card and go on a shopping spree).

  19. Elizabeth Burton

    ““The Daily 202: Hillary Clinton will consider picking another woman for VP. Could it be Elizabeth Warren?” [WaPo]. Betteridge’s Law.”

    Also, a way to hogtie her from making more trouble for the oligarchs. I don’t see her accepting.

    “New chip card technology takes 8 to 12 seconds to process a transaction.”

    I used a chip card to make a transaction back in February using Square and it took less than one. Maybe the problem isn’t the card but the hardware.

    1. hunkerdown

      The network, rather. Remember, in the US it is a moral sin for smelly commoners to deal directly with the commons without commercial envoys posted to protect it and the livestock from one another. Thus, merchant services providers.

    2. abd

      Hillary Clinton will consider picking another woman for VP.

      They are probably vetting Chelsea, not Warren.

  20. JohnnyGL

    It’s worth pointing out that the way Sanders dominated most of the counties in NYS means that his loss in terms of delegates looks more like you’d expect if he lost by around 12 points.

    I wonder if his campaign over-committed to winning in such a tough state to win with all the voting restrictions, large numbers of wall street workers, etc.

    PA is big prize and there’s lots of opportunities to make gains on 4/26. Plus he could easily sweep all the primaries in May.

    At this point, I don’t care if he can’t win a majority of pledged delegates, I still want him to sweep a ton of states on June 7th and finish strong as a show of force. I also want the supporters to stay organized and motivated and to continue to pressure and annoy her and her administration for all 4 years of her administration (assuming she lasts that long). It will help for future elections and it will restrain her from doing tons of damage.

  21. Enchiridion

    Comment on the XXX Primaries indeed. Epictetus devoted a book to this overall topic: Now, as soon as you start behaving rationally, he wrote, everybody is going to tell you you’re nuts. You’re going to have to deal with that.

    So let’s apply it to Downs’ paradox in the Gilens-Page oligarchic milieu!

    Say you commit the impiety of behaving rationally during the US government’s ludicrous quadrennial electoral ritual. First, you get vilified for failing to pretend that this is a democracy. Then, when it once again becomes blindingly obvious that no one gives a shit what you think, that’s when you’re directed to pick through your shit sandwich for nutritious morsels of undigested corn.

    Well… maybe now somebody will create a standalone entity that would pressure both parties from the outside! By george, a capital idea! See? After all, it’s good that Bernie Sanders came along and got beat like a drum in rigged contests and got used to discredit a weak-tit simulacrum of peace and development; otherwise, no one would have thought to set such an entity up.

    Now that you got decked again, take an eight count and think it through. Now that you ran out of nickels at the progressive slots at Trump, wring your pants out where you pissed them in engineered addictive absorption, and think it through. Anything of value you got in the last two decades you got from international suasion, not from voting. Go over their heads, for fuck’s sake.

  22. Tertium Squid

    (For me, victory has always consisted not in the nomination but in a standalone entity, built round the Sanders platform, that would pressure both parties from the outside.)

    Something like that was tried with the Tea Party and it was co-opted. Tried again with Occupy and it was obliterated. Which will be the fate of the Sanders platform? :)

    1. RUKidding

      Well the erstwhile Tea Party was always an astro-turf “situation” funding largely by the Kochs with tons of free advertising on the usual media suspects, and various rightwing “think” tanks paid many of those people to be bussed in with scripts to shout out.

      Occupy was a real grass roots effort that got obliterated. In particular, Mayors across the nation – many of them purported D-party Mayors – obliged the PTB by sending in heavy-duty SWAT teams to break up any and all efforts by Occupy. It wasn’t just about chasing them out of Occupying public parks and stuff, plus passing local legislation against occupying public areas and parks. In Sacramento, the PD staged large-scale harassment of even modest protest marches. Of course, none of this was ever reported on.

      The Tea Party died of its own accord due to lack of consistent funding. My guess is that the Kochs, et al, felt that their main goals were accomplished, and therefore they didn’t need to waste money on it anymore. Once the funds dried up, the so called Tea Partiers withered away… bc they weren’t grass roots and not really all that committed, nor had they really done any of the organizing work themselves at all. They certainly were never ever harassed by the PD. If anything, the PD protected them and kissed their heinies.

      But I agree, what will happen with the Sanders momentum? Well given that it’s leftwing, even IF citizens remain committed and try to do things… ??? Well look at Occupy, not the Tea Party. The PTB have always smashed and crushed – or maybe done their best to ignore (and put up a black out in the media) – any movements from the left. Count on it.

      I’m not saying: don’t do anything. Just pointing out reality from the trenches in which I’ve been marching,organizing, etc, for decades.

      1. Archie

        Perhaps Bernie will leave the Senate and become a national activist supporting real, progressive candidates (local and national) as well as raising money to fund grass roots progressive efforts? Just continuing to change the national dialog re: inequality, basic human rights, and the evils of neoliberalism would be huge contributions. This kind of channels Lambert’s lasting movement sentiments. As the conservatives realized some time ago, political change is a long term game. The conservatives though had to lie their way to relevance. Progressives on the other hand strike a chord of authenticity in the minds of all those f**ked over by the status quo.

        1. inode_buddha

          Yep, I would go for that. Simply changing the national dialogue is what needs to happen. There needs to be a way, to prevent the “establishment” as it were, from framing the debate. That is where the slide downhill really began, IMHO — letting them frame the debate. Don’t let them.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Movimento Cinque Stelle’s recently deceased IT guru Gianroberto Casaleggio has already shown the way here in Italy. Don’t set out to be a party, be a movement, use the web with its low entry barriers and frictionless nature as your habitat and call physical meet-ups and rallies as wanted or needed to demonstrate shows of force. The M5S can essentially function as a party in the Italian parliamentary system when it is advantageous, but its explicit rejection of formal partisanship makes it extremely difficult to co-opt or hijack. The same formula will work as well or even better in the US, where the Sanders candidacy has identified and brought together a much larger plurality of the electorate than the M5S had to begin with. Imagine the Sanders email/donor list organized into a cohesive, ideologically coherent political movement that can draw on a membership that rivals or outstrips that of either legacy party, that can endorse or oppose candidates from the legacy parties or alternatively field its own as Republicans, Democrats or independents depending on the particular situation at hand.

        The heavy lifting has already been done, the momentum is there, a cohesive set of policies has already been largely agreed upon, we know a huge, enthusiastic and generous membership and donor base is in place. It’d be useful as hell to have Sanders as a figurehead for such an enterprise to launch it but I doubt it would be necessary, and the less it relies on frontmen and personalities the more robust it will be and the more difficult to counter and attack effectively. Imagine an organized movement that could call on similar numbers of voters to either existing legacy party and bring them to bear on the electoral processes from national to local more or less at will. It could make or break candidacies, decide referenda and ballot issues at play, and would revolutionize American politics almost overnight. Why not? There’s really nothing stopping us from making it happen, the legacy parties would be almost helpless against it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        My model is not the Tea Party — though the TP does show you what an intransigent base can do, regardless of who ignited it — but Obama for America. I mean, there’s a reason the Democrats instantly dismantled it, right? There’s a lot of buried history from 2008…

      1. ambrit

        Yes. Occupy didn’t have to read Fredrick Douglass in American History class in High School, poor sods.

  23. rich

    South Carolina Pension Shifts Assets Into “Alternative Investments” – Disastrous Performance Follows

    We learn from Greenville Online:

    Michael Hitchcock, the CEO of the state Retirement System Investment Commission who was hired in 2014, made his comments Wednesday as senators heard presentations about a $21 billion pension shortfall that has been aggravated in recent years by the gap between an assumed rate of investment return set by lawmakers and how the system’s investments actually performed.

    The assumed rate of return set for the pension fund’s investments is 7.5 percent but those investments last year had a rate of return of 1.6 percent, a difference of about $1.5 billion for a $30 billion portfolio, said Peggy Boykin, executive director of the Public Employee Benefit Authority, which manages the pension fund.

    “And that does not include the very poor performance for this year,” he told The Greenville News. “There are estimates of this year’s performance and they all add billions to our debt.”

    “I think before you took the reigns over there the E-Trade baby could have done a better job,” Sen. Harvey Peeler, a Gaffney Republican, told Hitchcock.

    Everyone’s entitled to bad performance, but it’s important to understand root causes. In this case, it appears to be a shift into “alternative investments.”


    meanwhile Uncle Stevie’s got a blue plate special for all of you……….

    Blackstone Weighs Opening Up Real Estate to Individual Investors
    Blackstone Group LP, with real estate assets that have surpassed $100 billion, is considering tapping individual investors as it expands its push into owning high-quality buildings with steady income streams.

    “The prospects for growth in that business are huge,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman said on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call Thursday. “At some point as we move into the retail chain of distribution with this, we should be able to create a really very large-scale business.”


    FEEd us

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Eventually, they will to invest in Chinese companies, to achieve those wonderful, projected growth rates.

  24. Waldenpond

    I’ve seen other commenters indicate Sanders will have power to make a deal with Clinton cuz that’s what he knows how to do….. looks like he made a deal to not get involved in down ticket races for the senate. He’s supported 3 for the house, but, yes, it’s been silence on the Senate races. I go back to my original, I have no idea why he is running.


    Here’s a few words from that item: [If Bernie doesn’t win the presidency, he’s up for chair of the Senate Budget Committee, something Schumer’s Wall Street allies aren’t thrilled about to begin with. Early into the campaign, Schumer told him– in no uncertain terms– that if he interfered in the Senate races in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, he could kiss that chairmanship bye-bye.]

    I don’t think he ever had any intention of going for the nomination otherwise he would’ve needed members in the house and senate to accomplish anything.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Another unlawful $Hillary $cheme. When you think that she can’t get worse…..she does.

        1. ambrit

          Actually, I think, a la Wilde, it is the portrait of her hidden away in the “Cave” in the bluffs above the White River near Flippin, Arkansas that gets worse and worse. Hurd Hatfield, she is not, but, unlike his portrait in the film version of the story, her ‘portrait’ should look like a cover from an EC Comic by now.

    1. RWood

      Yes, and to Mr. Dixon for this:

      A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

      (can’t provide link, but it’s in today’s edition)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        See BAR here (and also here).

        From the first:

        Membership funding, with organization structured so that leaders are directly accountable to, selected and un-selected by members. That’s the model we should be exploring. This is the way genuine left and socialist parties and movements for the last hundred years have funded their operations all over world, a fact not much taught to so-called community organizers here.

        Ding ding ding ding ding!

        And from the second:

        The “moment of truth” for Bernie’s partisans will arrive, not when they accept the certainty of Clinton’s nomination, but at the point when a critical mass of them decide to become Sandernista insurgents and bolt the Democratic Party in search of a new political home.


  25. flora

    re: Wired . “Lawmakers once had a body of independent technical and scientific experts at their disposal who were the envy of other nations: the Office of Technology Assessment. That is, until the OTA got axed unceremoniously two decades ago in a round of budget cuts.” By Newt Gingrich, although of course Bill Clinton fought him tooth and nail. Not:”

    Now the Congress, having eliminated its Office of Technology Assessment, has been pwned by the NSA.

  26. John k

    Never give up!
    I remain full of hope the Fbi comes riding in at the nick of time with guns blazing. iMo, comey has too much to gain by going all out, even falling on his sword if necessary… An event that would fire up the senate committees, complete with subpoena power.

  27. Propertius

    [T]hat doesn’t mean they’ve won the platform,

    It’s kind of hard to take platforms seriously when support for the ERA was in both legacy parties’ platforms for so long to no avail.

  28. mk

    EFF Plouffe and the Democratic Party, I’m voting for Sanders, never for Hilary and when Sanders lost to Hiliary in NY, I gave MORE MONEY to the Sander’s campaign and I signed up for phone banking this weekend and a training for door knocking. Just makes me more determined.
    mk from ca

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