2:00PM Water Cooler 4/25/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


UK readers: a sample letter on TTIP to send to your MP [Open…].

“A loose coalition of trade unions, environmentalists and consumer protection groups in the northern city of Hanover said they drew a crowd of 90,000 to a march and rally outside the city’s opera house” on the eve of a visit by President Obama [Yahoo News]. “Police mobilized a large force to keep the peace and estimated attendance at 35,000.”

“The Washington Post really really wants the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). So, when they asked Ivo Daalder and Richard Kagan to make the case for the TPP as part of a story about preserving American leadership in the world, the Post apparently gave the greenlight to name-calling” [Dean Baker, CEPR]. “This meant that the opponents of the TPP appear in the piece as “demagogues.” Sounds good, now we don’t have to deal with arguments from people like Nobel prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz or Jeffrey Sachs. Hey, if you oppose the TPP you’re just a demagogue, not someone who might have a serious argument.”



“Aides to Mr. Sanders have been pressing party officials for a significant role in drafting the platform for the Democratic convention in July, aiming to lock in strong planks on issues like a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, breaking up Wall Street banks and banning natural gas ‘fracking'” [New York Times]. But then there’s this:

And Mrs. Clinton is well positioned to block any proposals she would not want to defend in a general election. In January, the party chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, appointed dozens of Clinton supporters and advisers to the three standing committees of the Democratic Party convention. Of 45 potential members submitted by Mr. Sanders, she appointed just three, according to Mr. Sanders’s campaign.

Head of the Rules Committee: Barney Frank.

“Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said Sunday that his level of support for Hillary Clinton as the party’s nominee would be “totally dependent” on whether she incorporates a progressive agenda like his into her campaign against the Republican nominee” [WaPo].


“Key allies of Bernie Sanders are planning to meet in Chicago after the final votes have been cast in the Democratic presidential primary to plot the future of the movement galvanized by Sanders’ presidential campaign” [Portside]. “The two-day People’s Summit is timed for mid-June in order to fall between the final set of primaries in California and elsewhere on June 7, and the Democratic National Convention in late July. It aims to continue building the “political revolution” Sanders often invokes and to develop a “People’s Platform” of issues important to the movement.”

“A seriousness about winning power means, to borrow from Sun-Tzu, to know your enemy and know yourself. With respect to the fight for power, this means that we must understand the terrain in which we are operating; the nature of power in the USA; the nature of our enemies; the nature of both our tactical and strategic allies; and the growth and decline of various progressive social movements. Putting this together helps place progressives on a road towards winning rather than a road towards the glorious and heroic defeats with which too many of us are familiar” [Alternet].

“Thomas Frank: It’s Clinton Who Wrecked the Democratic Party”

“Voting is of huge importance collectively but any individual vote has almost no impact, so even mild disincentives can substantially reduce turnout. The state’s job is to reduce as many barriers as possible, not to create impediments and tut-tut people who can’t surmount them” [The Week]. Now that liberal Democrats have accepted the majority doctrine of Citizens United — that absent a quid pro quo, there’s no corruption — they might as well go on to endorse voter suppression. Why not?

“In April, Larry Sabato’s widely respected Crystal Ball Report pushed the Electoral College toward the Democrats and predicted the party might also take six seats in the U.S. Senate. In the House? Sabato’s essential guide sees just a five-to-ten-seat gain for the Democrats. They see 227 seats in the GOP column, 188 safe/likely/leaning Democratic, and 20 toss-ups” [New York Magazine].

PA, MD, CT, RI primaries

“The Democratic races in Connecticut and Rhode Island appear to be toss ups, with Clinton and Sanders each having a slight advantage in one of the states” [Public Policy Polling].

“[In Pennsylvania,] Clinton is beating Sanders 55%-40% among likely Democratic voters” [CNN].

“Together the result is one of the most sizable shifts of partisan allegiance ever in Pennsylvania: 61,500 Democrats have become Republicans so far this year, part of a 145,000 jump in Republican registrations since the fall 2015 election, according to state figures analyzed by both parties. It’s more new Republicans than in the previous four years combined” [Duluth Tribune].

“The man that Bernie Sanders forgot” [the excellent Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. “John Fetterman, the Harvard-trained mayor of a once-comatose western Pennsylvania steel town who looks like a biker-bar bouncer.”

“A portion of Maryland voters who requested absentee ballots in order to participate in this year’s elections erroneously received written instructions to use a No. 2 pencil when filling them out, despite the fact that the state’s system for reading the forms performs best when they are filled out in black pen” [Baltimore Sun]. Reading the detail, this looks like a legit screw-up. That said, a management shakeup of the Democrat Party would need to include the voting process.

“Clinton’s Closing Argument” [Roll Call]. “Campaign ad ahead of Tuesday primaries calls for ‘love and kindness.'”


A fine exposition of the Hillary Victory Fund scam [Wall Street on Parade]. The whole scam looks like it was worked out by whatever species of lawyer writes private equity limited partner agreements. WSoP comments: “If Bernie Sanders hopes to make good on his call for a political revolution, the next step is to bring the machinations of the Hillary Victory Fund to a higher authority than the DNC, a willing participant itself in the scheme.”


“Clinton struggles to explain why, when she opposes the influence of big money on politics, that no one should worry about her super PAC money and massive donations. During a New Hampshire debate she said “you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.” I bet Clinton actually believes this statement. But it glosses over the more subtle way money influences politics” [Los Angeles Times].

A 2013 study found that the wealthy are much more likely than the rest of us to report having personal contact with a senator or representative. And it turns out that the 1% have very distinct views on public policy. The same study reported that the very wealthy are much less likely than the general public to support policies such as raising the minimum wage, providing substantive unemployment benefits, or expanding public health insurance programs.

Money has influence even before it is donated. …[E]very senator from New York, including Clinton from 2001 to 2009, knows that staking out positions against Wall Street can close wallets or send money streaming to their opponents.

This is a deeply troubling campaign finance system, one which is slipping [??] dangerously toward plutocracy. But it doesn’t take a bribe for money to matter, a lot.

The Trail

“‘I think the ideas we are talking about, (are) what the American people and the people in the Democratic Party want to hear,’ [Sanders] said on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation,’ noting his campaign’s strong support among younger voters. ‘We are the future of the Democratic Party, so I’m very proud of where we are and we look forward to fighting this out through California'” [CBS]. Good.

“With GOP in chaos, Democrats struggle with their own deep divisions” [WaPo]. Hilariously, no mention of Sanders.

“The 8 A.M. Call” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. Operative K meditating on which “serious” candidate — Clinton, Cruz, or Trump — is best equipped to handle the “economic emergency” that “probably coming, one way or another.” And it’s a no-brainer: Since the Clinton Dynasty and the DLC generally did so much to lay the groundwork for the last crash, it stands to reason they’re best equipped to handle the next one. Probably a mixture of (a) elite nervous stomach (there seems to be a lot of that about again), (b) Krugman’s memory that Obama pulled away from McCain in 2008 only after Lehman, hence (c) positioning Clinton — no doubt aided by the wisest of wonks — to treat an economic emergency opportunistically.

“Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest?” [Nicholas Kristof, New York Times]. A careful description of the ingredients in the dogfood the dogs won’t eat.

“Hillary’s Big Idea” [Timothy Egan, New York Times]. “Consider the epic changes over the past century that brought lasting good to this country. …. Clinton needs to fashion a [new big idea], attacking inequality with an institutional uplift to the slipping middle class.” How about… Hmm, let me see… Medicare for All, tuition-free college, and a $15/hour minimum wage? The real message of this column, however, is the open contempt and hatred the political class has for Sanders.

“[T]he whole Republican contest could come down to Indiana. The state has 57 pledged delegates, and it awards those delegates on a winner-take-all basis statewide and by congressional district. As a result, the difference between a narrow win and a loss is huge for Mr. Trump” [New York Times]. “The math” behind the Cruz/Kasich deal; Cruz could stage a comeback in Indiana.

“Donald Trump’s reaction to the Cruz-Kasich alliance was epic” (and annotated) [Chris Cilizza, WaPo].

“Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz won the majority of delegates that the Utah and Maine parties voted to send to July’s convention, another victory for the Texas senator’s organizational efforts over front-runner Donald Trump that could bolster Cruz at a contested convention” [Bloomberg]. Cruz positioning himself for the second ballot.

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, March 2016: “Growth in new homes isn’t spectacular but, given how soft general economic conditions are, the sector is posting moderate and still respectable numbers” [Econoday]. “Spring is the big season for the housing market and this report, together with an uptick in last week’s March report for existing home sales, do keep the door open for a solid season, one that could contribute to a needed pickup in the pace of the overall economy.” Well, I’m a Maine bear, so my priors would make me think this sounds like whistling past the graveyard. And “The rolling averages smooth out much of the uneven data produced in this [noisy and methodologically challenged] series – and this month there was a decline in the rolling averages” [Econintersect]. “The quantity of new single family homes for sale remains well below historical levels.” And: “Given the supply constraints in existing home sales the weak tone in this report provides a sobering take on the housing sector recovery” [TDSecurities, Across the Curve].

Dallas Fed Mfg Survey, April 2016: “The de[s]cent of the Dallas Fed report may be flattening out, hopefully” [Econoday]. “The ongoing recovery for oil is having a positive effect on energy prices and is likely to have a wider positive effect for the Texas manufacturing area. And perhaps this report, though still mostly weak, is a turning point.” Maybe: “Of the three Federal Reserve districts which have released their April manufacturing surveys – only one is in contraction” [Econintersect].

Honey for the Bears: “the charts of the real US economy continue to fall/decelerate with most all pointing south, apart from new claims for unemployment which I believe is due to said claims having been made very hard to get, and not labor market conditions. And unemployment looks low only if you believe the drop in the labor participation rates are largely structural (all the women suddenly got too old to work in 2008…) which I find highly doubtful.” [Mosler Economics]. “charts of the real US economy continue to fall/decelerate with most all pointing south, apart from new claims for unemployment which I believe is due to said claims having been made very hard to get, and not labor market conditions. And unemployment looks low only if you believe the drop in the labor participation rates are largely structural (all the women suddenly got too old to work in 2008…) which I find highly doubtful. ” Compare this to Operative K’s “The 8 A.M. Call” under 2016/The Trail.

And just for fun, from FDR’s budget speech in 1941:

The Fed: “What might an increasingly elastic labor supply mean for Fed policy? The answer depends on how much surplus labor is available. Suppose it is 1.5 million workers – a conservative figure that would still leave the civilian employment-to-population ratio well below its post-war peak. At plausible rates of US job creation, it would take 12-18 months to absorb those new entrants. That labor influx would dampen wage and price pressures, allowing the Fed to proceed gradually with interest-rate normalization. The bigger the pool of available labor, the longer the Fed can go slow” [Project Syndicate]. “This recalls former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan’s experiment in the late 1990s, when he let the US economy boom, on the hunch – which proved to be right – that productivity was accelerating. Might Yellen be willing to make a similar wager on labor supply?”

The Fed: “Yields on $7.8 trillion of government bonds have been driven below zero by worries over global growth, meaning money managers looking for income are pouring into debt with maturities of as long as 100 years. Central banks’ policy is exacerbating matters, as the unprecedented debt purchases to spur their economies have soaked up supply and left would-be buyers with few options” [Bloomberg].

Banks: “A dispute has arisen on Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board over what some members view as the bank’s legal counsel’s over-zealous response to scandals it has been embroiled in, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported” [Reuters].

Banks: “While the Bank of Japan’s name is nowhere to be found in regulatory filings on major stock investors, the monetary authority’s exchange-traded fund purchases have made it a top 10 shareholder in about 90 percent of the Nikkei 225 Stock Average, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg from public data” [Bloomberg]. “It’s now a major owner of more Japanese blue-chips than both BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest money manager, and Vanguard Group, which oversees more than $3 trillion.”

Banks: “Attackers who pulled off the massive bank fraud at the Bangladesh Bank in February did so by using custom malware and attack tools that were able to monitor the internal messages that conduct financial transactions, delete certain messages, and then insert others to send money to accounts they control, researchers say” [On the Wire]. “The tools targeted the SWIFT system, a platform that thousands of banks around the world use to exchange information on transactions, and researchers at BAE Systems in the U.K. said the toolkit is highly customizable and could be used in other attacks.”

Shipping: “Shipping firms owed nearly $1bn in late-return fees for containers in Venezuela” [Splash247].

“Germans flock to property as interest rates fall and rents rise” [Reuters]. Their property market may become more like the US and UK’s. What could go wrong?

“Uber is valued at $60 billion. It’s privately held. Nobody outside its execs and a few investors really know what its books look like” [Business Insider]. Good wrapup of Silly Valuation unicorn controversy.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69, Greed (previous close: 74, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 25 at 11:49am. Drifting downward….

The Jackpot

“Solar Impulse Pilot: ‘I Flew Over Plastic Waste As Big As a Continent'” [Ecowatch].

” Ruined Chernobyl nuclear plant will remain a threat for 3,000 years” [McClatchy]. “The infamous Reactor Number 4 remains a problem that is neither solved nor solvable.” Excellent long-form read. “The bridge they were standing on wasn’t yet known as ‘The Bridge of Death.’ That would come later.”

Class Warfare

“In large parts of Europe, the combination of globalisation and technical advance destroyed the old working class and is now challenging the skilled jobs of the lower middle class. So voters’ insurrection is neither shocking nor irrational. Why should French voters cheer labour market reforms if it could result in the loss of their jobs, with no hope of a new one?” [Wolfgang Münchau, Financial Times]. Compare the FT’s relatively straightforward prose to the drivel at the New Yorker in Links today.

“Why America’s impressive 5% unemployment rate feels like a lie for so many” [Quartz]. “If you work for a mere hour per week and make $20, you are still considered employed, according to Gallup. And just like that, the marginally employed workers of the 1099 economy, like some of the long-term employed, are omitted from the unemployment statistics.”

“Since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers… The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?” [The Atlantic]. Best economy ever. Move along, people, move along. There’s no story here.

“But in reality, a large body of research shows that the rich live longer — and that the life span gap between rich and poor is growing. And that means that the progressive ideal built into the design of Social Security is, gradually, being thwarted. In some circumstances, the program can actually be regressive, offering richer benefits to those who are already affluent” [New York Times].

“What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?” [FiveThirtyEight]. The FIRE sector would suck it all up?

” “Game of Thrones” goes to war: The once-radical fantasy is now the establishment—for better and for worse” [Salon]. Filing this story here, because this: “The cinematic male-oriented dramas that dominated the conversation in the late 2000s have almost, with a few notable exceptions like ‘Fargo’ and ‘Better Call Saul,’ entirely yielded the territory of critical adoration to quirky and smart half-hour comedies.” Heaven forfend, in the year 2016, from continuing to watch a show whose theme is power!

“The complete guide to ‘Game of Thrones'” [Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post]. Five years of recaps! Given that this is WaPo, it would be interesting to view them through a Beltway power relation lens.

News of the Wired

“The future of Japan’s music industry is in this one catchy music video” [Daily Dot]. If you like the meta, you have to watch the video.

“Here are some of the things we learned we would have to overcome, if we wanted to deploy a real chatbot” [Medium]. “[P]eople share feelings and emotions, positive and negative, they also use humor a lot when talking to a bot. A bot with a scripted sense of humor is one thing, but a bot who understands a sense of humor is a completely different ball game.”

“Dark Patterns by the Boston Globe” [Rationalist Conspiracy]. “Dark patterns” are “user interfaces designed to trick people.” In other words, we have a phishing equilibrium.

“Half Your Brain Stands Guard When Sleeping In A New Place” [NPR] (original study).

For Monday afternoon coffee break, if any:

* * *

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 (JN):


Camperdown Elm, Brooklyn Botanical Garden: 1872.

* * *

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. Tertium Squid

    The road to the chatbot future is going to be circuitous:


    [Facebook’s] M was largely a front. M processed the question and passed it along to a human counterpart to finish the job. Similarly, Operator, Magic and Fin all fall back on a hybrid human-bot model. Seen this way, chatbots aren’t that different from hiring a worker through a service like TaskRabbit or Handy, but without ever having to acknowledge there’s another human at the other end. As the sheen of A.I. fades, you can see these chatbots for what they really are: a convenient way to hide human labor.

    Observe the fakery used to convince people that algos are running everything now, and for what – “it can help us order Domino’s in a different window on the same device we would normally use to order Domino’s”.

    So there isn’t a savings here, or a reduction in monotonous labor, or any benefit to humanity, but that was never the goal. It’s just about big players turning the internet into a walled garden so they can rule the universe.

    The internet used to be a walled garden, remember Compuserve and AOL? Technology has finally made time travel possible and now it’s 1994 on the internet again.

  2. twonine

    Another take on neoliberal “Love and Kindness”.

    Neoliberalism is the dominant political-economic philosophy of the last four decades and almost by definition it attempts to marginalize the expression of and devalue agapé love in the public sphere.

  3. john k

    Things I wish Bernie would say (time to step away from Obama):

    I do not need a new act of congress to enforce existing laws.

    I will instruct my attorney general to vigorously prosecute white collar criminals: is not a banker that illegally forecloses on a homeowner a greater criminal than one that merely takes part of the homes contents? I will not stand between white collar criminals and pitchforks or jail terms.

    My appointees to regulatory positions must promise to not take a position in the industry they regulate for at least ten years. More than this, I will instruct regulators to regulate their industries sufficient to protect the public from harm.

    Whistle blowers will be rewarded when existing law calls for rewards, and will not be harassed or punished when they reveal information embarrassing to government (as opposed to actual security breaches.)

    I will not start or participate in wars that are not vitally necessary for our country. And I will not support military expenditures on unnecessary and/or poorly designed components, such as attack submarines, the F35 fighter, or a major new line of nuclear weapons.

    1. Anon

      By virtue of passing a law that prohibits members of Congress for entering lobbying positions for at least six years per term served, he would go down as the greatest president ever.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        None as useful, in the direct, near future, as ‘I will not endorse Ms. Clinton.’

        1. nippersmom

          He really does need to say that. He’s coming closer with his statements that he cannot speak for his supporters.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            LOL “Sanders trying to influence the Democratic platform” LOL
            Sad to say, of course Hilary Antoinette will say lovely things, we’ve just had 8 years of a guy who said lovely things and look at what the actual actions were.

        2. Montanamaven

          I’VE been talking to construction workers and contractors today in upstate NY. They know Hilary is a “warmonger.”. They used the word . they are liberals. Then I talked to other contractors and tile guys. They were Trump supports because “every body and here in NY is corrupt.”. Wow, both of these two opposite philosophies have more in common than the reigning elite.
          We need to seize the day and try. Although I’ve seen “Les Miserables” and “Dr. Zhivago”. It doesn’t end well for “revolutionaries.”

    2. Torsten

      The single, most focal issue separating Bernie’s long-standing positions from Hillary’s recently-adopted positions has been her refusal to release the transcripts of her lucrative speeches before Goldman Sachs. This is their “Mexican stand-off”. This is the crux of the campaign.

      Consequently, Bernie’s non-negotiable demand must be that, before he endorses Hillary, she must make public those transcripts. The sooner Hillary comes clean and (a) absolves herself of suspicion, or (b) makes public atonement for the apparent conflict-of-interest in her ambitions, the more readily she gains Bernie’s endorsement.

      If she does not own these speeches, Bernie must endorse Dr. Jill Stein at the Democratic National Convention at end July.

      One week earlier, the Republican Party will have delegitimatized itself at its convention. There is no scenario under whiich it can retain a shred of integrity. If Hillary is not forthcoming, Bernie must then consummate the delegitimization of the Democratic Party. This would be a “political revolution”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        She will not.

        Most people know that already, and have voted accordingly.

        Sanders’ supporters know that too.

        Time to pass go, collect at least 200 grievances, and endorse Dr. Stein.

        1. Torsten

          If she will not, then Bernie must endorse Stein. That’s why we’ve given him–what?– $27 X 3M??

          But #ShowTheSpeeches is a better demand than “promise me this or promise me that”. Promises are made to be broken.

          1. cwaltz

            I don’t think he will. The “tell” is the fact the campaign has stated that Bernie will remain a Democrat after the election.

            I hope I’m wrong.

            I hope at the very least he seriously considers what he wants to see the revolution that he started do beyond this election and I hope HIS solution doesn’t sound like the “more better Democrats trope” that we always seem to get fed each primary season.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              He’s a Senator and unfortunately he thinks horse trading is how you get (some of) what you want, but the billionaire elite does not “horse trade” with the 99%, nor will their chosen standard-bearer. The billionaire elite applies the jackboot until the serfs squeal, always have, always will.
              I mean just look at who her backers are: Goldman, Rupert Murdoch, Kissinger, Kagan, the Prison-Industrial Complex, AIPAC (chose her over a Jew!), now the Koch brothers say they think she’s OK.
              Bernie tried really hard to find someone to carry his message, and it says everything about our ruling class that none would take him up.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            “If she will not, then Bernie must endorse Stein. That’s why we’ve given him”

            I doubt very much that’s true (except, perhaps, for a very small “we”). Endorsing Stein was never an explicit or even implicit promise made by the Sanders campaign. “Must,” forsooth.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Sanders neither will nor should endorse Stein. On should: First, Greens need to grow their own candidates organically, for their own sake as a party. Parachuting in national figures to the Greens just doesn’t have a good track record. Second, in my state the Greens are a bad joke and a terrible example of dysfunction, and this within a decade of having made a perfectly respectable run for Governor. While that’s not true for (say) the New York Greens, all that proves is that the Greens aren’t a national party. That’s not fair, but that’s how it is.

      2. nippersmom

        Publishing the Goldman Sachs transcripts will not eliminate the inherent conflict of interest those transcripts embody. Nor will it miraculously alter her record at State or its consequences, or make everyone whole who has been damaged by the polices she voted for as a Senator or applauded as First Lady. There is no removing the aura of stench that permeates her candidacy. If the DNC persists in prioritizing their personal power over the good of the country (as they almost certainly will) by forcing Clint0n on a long-suffering electorate, the Democratic Party will have unequivocally proven that they are just as lacking in integrity as the Republicans, and just as much in need of being disbanded.

        1. Torsten

          It will not eliminate the stench, but it will bring the source of the stench into the open. I think *this* is the demand that gives Bernie just cause to endorse Stein.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Sanders endorsing Hillary to defeat Cruz in the general election?

            If that’s the case, unless Cruz also releases (Clinton’s argument), why would she do it alone?

            Discerned by gut, and not by wonkery, there will be no endorsement. That’s immediately clear.

          2. Yves Smith

            Sanders will not endorse Stein. She isn’t a credible candidate and the Greens are not even a functioning national party.

            If the Greens want to wield power, the way to do so is to get a couple of Senate seats.

            1. Chris Geary

              Agreed. Greens should focus on winning something, anything. Heck Kshama got herself a city council seat. Their current strategy is not working

            2. Torsten

              As C.S. Peirce might have said, consider the converse:

              The Greens do wield power. It is the sclerotic “major” parties who are impotent. They can win an election; they can kill a hundred thousand with drones; they can disenfranchise millions; they can transform the planet into one gigantic police state, but they cannot stop the Collapse.

              But the Green’s power is not their own. The concept is almost theological, and so seems out-of-place in the Modern Age. Perhaps it is easier to understand if we call it “Daoist”: the Greens wield power that is not their own; this is what makes them powerful. The Neoliberals and Republicrats seek to possess power, but the power they can possess renders them impotent. Cruel, and dangerous, but impotent. Let the voters decide which power they wish to wield.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            “*this* is the demand that gives Bernie just cause to endorse Stein.”

            Assuming he is, and should, be looking for such a “just cause.” He isn’t, and shouldn’t.

            In any case, to say #ReleaseTheTranscripts is that “just cause” seems odd, given — one of a zillion examples — Clinton’s “Never, ever” on Medicare for All.

            1. Torsten

              How much do you want to bet Hillary makes no mention of “our best-in-the world medical and pharmaceutical industry” in her transcripts?

              Yes, there are a zillion “just causes”, but if one must choose one, do what they do on economics blogs–follow the money.

      3. Christopher D. Rogers


        I concur 1005 with you analysis, that is Bernie and his legion of supporters should not sully themselves by either endorsing or voting for Ms. Klinton in November’s Presidential election – to do so would be a huge betrayal and both your, the working class and lower middle class have had enough betrayals, so lets put ‘PRINCIPLE’ back into politics.

        Now, in an ideal world Bernie and Jill Stein would be on the same ticket, regrettably this is not so. As such, I think it important given the Klinton’s betrayal of the majority of Americans that priority after the Conventions is actually to stop the Queen attaining her goal, and if this means Bernie supporters having to vote Trump, so be it. Whilst many don’t share this opinion, I’m afraid to say that the worst outcome for the USA is another Klinton administration. Indeed, with Trump in the Whitehouse he’s more than likely to shoot himself in the foot regularly and pursue policies that in reality would actually be to the left of a Klinton administration, if only supporting American jobs for American workers.

        The Queen on the other hand will not shoot herself in the foot, rather you’ll have new shooting galleries all over the world given how hellbent she is to kill people, never mind the further pauperisation of the majority of US citizens. Logically, rationally and politically speaking the greatest punishment Bernie’s supporters can inflict is to deny the Queen the Whitehouse and hope the DNC either implodes, or better still, replace the neoliberal Democratic Party with an actual left of centre grouping that actually represents the interests of a majority of Americans, rather than a small elite that pisses on the majority at its leisure.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You think it’s probable that Sanders will urge people not to vote for Trump, even if he doesn’t endorse Clinton?

          1. Massinissa

            Not vote for Trump? Sounds good to me. I will do exactly that.

            I will vote for Jill Stein! We need a woman for president!

            For real though, I wont really care if Bernie tries to scare people over Trump. Enough of his voters are going to vote for Trump if he doesn’t win the primary no matter what he says.

            1. ambrit

              Too true. During the Ross Perot mini-insurgencies, I read that 20% of the American electorate can be relied on to vote “a pox on both your parties” any particular election. Getting demonstrably above that 20% mark was considered a ‘tell’ for a viable contender.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’ve considered “Vote for gridlock!” as the right frame.

          If the Clinton Dems win both the Presidency and the Senate, then a first 100 Days with TPP, a Grand Bargain, and a new war (or two) is easy to visualize. Then again, if the Trump Republicans win both the Presidency and the Senate…. We might get the same thing. So it’s important that the Senate and the Presidency remain in different hands.

          I remember the joy I felt, back when I was a mere sprat, when the Republicans lost the House and the Senate in 2006. Then Pelosi immediately took impeachment off the table — and Bush was most definitely impeachable, although we don’t mention that in polite company, since Obama continued the executive power grab we wanted to impeach Bush for — and that was that. So I don’t think there’s an upside to a Democratic Senate.* But gridlock eliminates a lot of downside risk.

          * ZOMG!!! The Supreme Court! For which Obama nominated a moderate Republican. Couldn’t even make a gesture toward overturning Citizens United.

          1. Torsten

            Sounds good, but remember, Bipartisanship!

            Despite the “gridlock” we’ve already fast-tracked TPP, newly destroyed nigh unto a dozen countries, and come to a gentlemen’s agreement on the desirability of the Grand Bargain.

            Gridlock is kayfabe.

  4. Pat

    Regarding the PA Senate primary, apparently Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Leadership can play hardball when they like. According to Down with Tyranny he has threatened Sanders with the loss of his chairmanship if he intervenes in certain Senate races, most particularly Pennsylvania. Now some of the reasoning for this evades me, except that the DSCC is deeply behind McGinty, and have put forth a lot of effort on her part. Right now the race is split between Sestak, who the establishment hates, and McGinty. The small portion of the vote that Fetterman takes is seen to come from Sestak which weakens him. I suppose the thought is that if Fetterman gets some real traction and help from the larger Sanders campaign, he might not just be a thorn in Sestak’s side, but wrench it away from McGinty.

    I admit I might be torn if I were in PA, in a case where both the logical choice for my vote and the not bad choice lose to another clear vote for the Goldman Sachs agenda if I vote my full agenda…

    Seriously, it shouldn’t be this hard for people to understand Clinton, Cuomo, Schumer, McGinty,etc are not on your side don’t go there, but it is.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does Mr. Sanders understand t,hat ‘Clinton, Cuomo, Schumer, McGinty,” are not on your or our side?

      If closed primaries are not democratic, so is the near impossibility for an Independent to make a serious run for president.

      “What’s a nice guy like you doing hanging around the party with people like them?”

      1. cwaltz

        I think he does. I also think that Sanders, as a politician, has embraced “lesser evilism.” It’s not going to be him that put’s a stake through the heart of the DNC/DLC, it’s going to have to be us, the voters.

        The votes are going to have to come to terms with this idea that there is no white knight. WE are the white knight. We’re going to have to save ourselves from this corrupt, inept system.

  5. Michael Hudson

    A warning sign, from today’s WSJ “Obama, Merkel Urge Action on Trade Deal.”
    “Mr. Obama predicted trade deals would find a warmer reception after election season.”
    That means he knows Hillary will support it — and probably any Republican also.

    1. nippersmom

      Of course she’ll support the TPP. That’s a forgone conclusion. The only potential, aside from Sanders, for it not being signed, is Trump and he’s not terribly reliable.

      1. cwaltz

        The guy who whines all about jobs being shipped overseas that makes his products overseas because…..profit.

        I’d say we’re screwed.

      2. john k

        I would bet Trump would not sign a trade deal… he is a populist, and trade deals, especially the latest giveaways, are deeply unpopular.

        1. cwaltz

          A billionaire populist?

          The same guy who cheated the immigrants that built his towers or shipped jobs overseas because ….profit.

          You’ve got a weird definition of populist. He’s a fraud.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I don’t think we can infer what Trump will do from what he says. At all. It’s kayfabe.

          When Trump has a counterparty, he will assess whether to sign TPP according to the deal before him. If he needs to come up with populist window-dressing, he will.

    2. Pat

      While I am sure Hillary would happily sign the TPP, I believe you mistake what Obama is saying. He fully expects to sign it himself. He is saying it will pass in the lame duck period between the election by all those soon to be out of a job and those assured of their seat for a couple of years.

  6. Chauncey Gardiner

    Can we substitute the name “Jeff Bezos” for that of The Washington Post whenever the newspaper’s name comes up with respect to supporting the proposed TPP, TTIP and TiSA agreements?

    As of January 2016, Mr. Bezos, who is CEO of Amazon, was listed as the fifth wealthiest individual in the world on Forbes list of billionaires. Bezos reportedly bought The Washington Post and other newspapers for $250 million in August 2013.

    1. Pavel

      ha ha, I was going to make the same point but got sidetracked by Nicholas Kristof (see below). Of course there wouldn’t be any conflict of interest between the owner of Amazon and WaPo when it comes to a global “free trade” agreements, would there?

    2. cnchal

      When Amazon Attacks

      . . . Lest you think that “predator” is too harsh a term, consider the metaphor that Bezos himself chose when explaining how to get small book publishers to cough up deep discounts as the price of getting their titles listed on the Amazon website. As related by Businessweek reporter Brad Stone, Bezos instructed his negotiators to stalk them “the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.” Bezos’ PR machine tried to claim that this sneering comment was just a little “Jeff joke,” but they couldn’t laugh it off, for a unit dubbed the “Gazelle Project” had actually been set up inside Amazon.

      Buy from Amazon, support a Super predator

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Heard they are going to open small bricks and mortar stores now. Drive Mom and Pop local store out of business, then swoop in, classic predator behavior. What puzzles me is we used to recognize and revile monopoly predator capitalists (Rockefeller, Carnegie etc), now we lionize them (Bezos, Brin, the Uber guy, etc).

        1. ambrit

          The problem here is that the “we” in this formulation is the artificial construct of a well run ‘spin machine.’ There were well run ‘Carnegie is such a nice philanthropist’ type of public relations efforts during the Robber Baron Era. Spending a piece of your ill gotten gains is an excellent ‘investment’ in the families future avoidance of mobs with torches and pitch forks. Who do you think endowed all of those municipal museums and parks, etc.?

  7. Pavel

    Just to say I read that piece on HRC’s “honesty” by Nic Kristof first thing this morning and I still haven’t gotten the stench out of my brain. What a disingenuous bunch of crap. He excuses all of Clinton’s various lapses of ethics and honesty by saying, basically, “well everyone else does it” and “this is what politicians do”. Are we supposed to accept these low standards?

    One basic test of a politician’s honesty is whether that person tells the truth when on the campaign trail, and by that standard Clinton does well. PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking site, calculates that of the Clinton statements it has examined, 50 percent are either true or mostly true.

    That compares to 49 percent for Bernie Sanders’s, 9 percent for Trump’s, 22 percent for Ted Cruz’s and 52 percent for John Kasich’s. Here we have a rare metric of integrity among candidates, and it suggests that contrary to popular impressions, Clinton is relatively honest — by politician standards.

    It’s true, of course, that Clinton is calculating — all politicians are, but she more than some. She has adjusted her positions on trade and the minimum wage to scrounge for votes, just as Sanders adjusted his position on guns.

    Sanders’s positions seem less focus-group tested than Clinton’s, and she can be infuriatingly evasive. Partly that’s because she’s more hawkish than some Democrats, and partly that’s because she realizes she’s likely to face general election voters in November and is preserving wiggle room so she can veer back to the center then.

    Does that make her scheming and unprincipled? Perhaps, but synonyms might be “pragmatic” and “electable.” That’s what presidential candidates do.

    So according to Kristof:

    * 50% of her statements are “true or mostly true”
    * she is “calculating” and “adjusts her positions to scrounge for votes”
    * she is “infuriatingly invasive”

    Re: the private email server:

    All this is self-inflicted damage, which Clinton compounded with evasions and half-truths, coming across as lawyerly and shifty.

    Christ, after all this we are supposed to support this woman for dog catcher? And note Kristof’s specious, straw-man closing comment on the emails:

    The bottom line: If she had followed the rules and used her official email address, Vladimir Putin might actually have had a leg up on reading her correspondence.

    What a complete load of bollocks. Did an NYT editor really let this go?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Senator: “Half of Clinton’s statements are lies.”

      Senate president: “Retract!”

      Senator: “Alright, half of Clinton’s statements are not lies.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To become a mass truth-murderer, no more than 1% of the statements can be not lies.

      2. Steve in Flyover

        The Clintons say just enough to convince the Wretched Refuse that she is “on their side”. And saying it in a mealy mouth way, just to split hairs on what they said later.

        Anything she actually supports will not be decided on what’s “good for the country/huddled masses”. It will be supported because it benefits the Clintons.

        So, a Clinton administration will be a neo-liberal, Republican-Lite affair, with a few bones thrown to the Abortion rights, African-American, and Gay/Lesbian/Transsexual crowds to keep them on the reservation. Highjacking a few of Sanders ideas to appear “progressive”, then blaming the nasty Republicans when nothing gets passed.

        Once Sanders is out of the picture, and (assuming) she is elected, she doesn’t have to care anymore. After all, where are the liberals/socialists/47%ers going to go, if not to her?

        1. marym

          Clinton is in favor of further restrictions on abortion

          “Again, I am where I have been, which is that if there’s a way to structure some kind of constitutional restriction that take into account the life of the mother and her health, then I’m open to that. But I have yet to see the Republicans willing to actually do that, and that would be an area, where if they included health, you could see constitutional action.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If the Republicans are not willing, I think she is not too smart to even comment on a hypothetical in such a way that it is quoted against her.

            The masters of the brotherhood usually offer one kind of change and, once in place, install a different kind of change (for example, change, that is to say, alter the original change that was offered). Here, she could remain silent, and once her throne is secured, change to what she really wants to do.

      1. jrs

        She’s smarter than the laws. That’s what you say when they pull you over for speeding or the IRS audits you “sir if I followed the rules ….” And then you get in trouble for it. Well if your not among the power elite that is.

    2. curlydan

      I think HRC’s election this year will be like W’s in 2004 in that both will have used up all their political capital by that time just to win that election.

      At 2017 rolls around, HRC’s supporters (or voters since she’s viewed negatively by 60% of voters) will discover how mentally and spiritually exhausting it is to support or provide cover for her through Bill’s and her never-ending scandals and screw-ups.

      By 2006, the USA was sick of W. So it will be for HRC assuming she makes it that far. And Kristof can realize he should have listened to Bob Herbert in February 2001:

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Well, there’s political capital, an then there’s the real thing. Report that the Clinton campaign has decided to hold a political fundraiser in Tel Aviv. If true, I am sure only donations from American expats will be accepted since I recall that the Supremes issued a ruling in January 2012 that continues to uphold the prohibition against foreign nationals or foreign governments making contributions to U.S. political campaigns (never mind the lobbyists, PAC et al conduits). Wonder if this will set off any alarms in our fine corporate media about the spirit of the law, as well as its terms?


    3. ScottW

      Kristof’s column, like literally every other pro-Hillary NYT’s pundit, provides rationales for the Hillary parrots. Now we have taking special interest money does not show she is dishonest. Add that to, “show me one instance in which the hundreds of millions she has taken from special interests has changed her vote.” Yet another way to distract attention from the fact special interests of every stripe approve of her policy decisions and vision for America.

      If you can stomach it, read NYT’s pro-Hillary comments and how they rationalize her conduct. For fun and out of boredom, I will throw out comments like this:

      “Charles Koch says he could possibly support Hillary Clinton. That tells you how far the Democratic party has sunk.

      We are left with neocons supporting Hillary’s foreign policy. Special interests supporting Hillary’s policies, lavishing her with personal and campaign money. And now Koch.

      What a disaster.”

      Hillary supporters fire back, claiming Koch’s expression of possible support is a ploy to get Bernie nominated because that is who the Republicans really want to run against. Others add that the Republicans are the real disaster because even Koch does not want to support them. Some express disbelief the neocons really support Hillary’s foreign policy, even though an article in the Times’ magazine section lays out the evidence–which is really not controversial.

      If you are a Hillary supporter she can do no wrong. And those are allegedly the well-read ones. They refuse to see how the Republicans have duped the Democratic faithful (with a complicit mainstream party apparatus) to move so far right the neocons, special interests and maybe even Koch are on board.

      Why vote for a crazy Republican when you can vote for a real Republican in Hillary?

      1. JoeK

        The Clintons must have some serious dirt on Kristoff. Or he’s as big a prevaricator as she is. Or he thinks his readership is limited to eight-year-old children.

    4. Vatch

      I was curious about the claim that Sanders only tells the truth on the campaign trail 49% of the time. This is based on something published by Politifact. I didn’t have time to check more than one item, and the first one that I looked at seems to be incorrect.



      “Tell me what Madeleine Albright’s position was on the War on Iraq. I wouldn’t be surprised if she supported it.”

      Surprise! She didn’t [says Politifact]

      I found this web site:


      Do you agree with the premise of the war on Iraq?

      [Albright’s reply] “I personally felt the war was justified on the basis of Saddam’s decade-long refusal to comply with UN Security Council resolutions on WMD.”

      So she did support the war in Iraq! Is this is a bogus quote? Or maybe with the passage of time, Albright has tried to air brush her opinions about the Iraq War. Anyhow, this casts doubt on Politifact’s fact checking.

      1. aj

        looking through the list of “mostly false” I find a lot of these to be rhetorical flourish. If my job was to rate truthiness, I would rate a lot of them as mostly true instead.

        For example:

        It argues that since members of congress are prohibited from paid talks, his quote that “Washington politicians are paid $200,000 an hour for giving speeches” is false. Considering we know of at least 1 Washington politician to whom he could be referring, I’d conclude that his statement is “mostly true”. Several other entries follow the same dubious logic.

      2. Pat

        Not only that Sanders does not say that Albright supported the invasion, only that he wouldn’t be surprised if she did.
        Unless they know he is sure of Albright’s position or he wouldn’t really be surprised if she thought it was a mistake at the time they cannot call it false. That it was also an accurate assessment of Albright’s position aside.

        And I would also be surprised if Politifact didn’t parse Clinton’s statements the way I just did in order to get to that 50% truthfulness rating.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      Actually it’s even worse – check the parsing on this one:

      “PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking site, calculates that of the Clinton statements it has examined, 50 percent are either true or mostly true.”

      So how many did they examine exactly? Two to get that nice round 50%?

      And then this whopper:

      “,,,there’s no sign of any quid pro quo (in a broader sense, companies write checks to buy access and influence, but if that’s corrupt then so is our entire campaign finance system).

      Well no shit Sherlock – hand that man a Pulitzer!!

      1. Elliot

        I followed Politifact for a couple of months on Twitter until I couldn’t stand the pro-Hillary bias any longer. They’d never tweet a pro-Sanders item, and the Hillary ones were either pro, or worded pro. Or, weaselly. So I am shocked, shocked to read about their ownership and funding.

  8. Jim Haygood

    As if power shortages weren’t enough, our Venezuelan comrades won’t even be able to drink warm beer as they swelter in the dark:

    Due to the growing shortage of ingredients, Cervecería Polar, Venezuela’s largest brewery, announced that it will suspend its production of beer and other malt beverages.

    Through a press release, the company detailed their situation as one in which they are unable to restock inventory, as their last shipment of important ingredients will only reach them on April 29.

    Though Polar produces much of the country’s beer, it needs to important basic materials for brewing. Because the Venezuelan government did not authorize them to pay foreign suppliers, they cannot produce the beer.

    The press release explained that in order to produce beer, it needs barley and hops, crops that cannot be grown in Venezuela’s climate.

    A source at the brewery, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he hopes Polar does not halt production entirely, and that the brewer of Regional — a different brand — would loan them the ingredients.


    Although Venezuela can never run out of bolivars, it can and has run out of barley and hops.

    So the people have no beer? Let them drink margaritas!

      1. Rhondda

        A very good concise link. Thank you. The good ol “Making the Economy Scream” method, an American tradition — not dissimilar from what’s going on in Brazil. And it’s been going on a long time. The Dulles brothers would be so proud of their 2nd Gen boyz.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘Speculation’ didn’t drive the Bolivar down to more than 1,000 bolivars per US dollar.

        The bolivar’s value is under the control of the economically illiterate Maduro regime, which perversely believes that an overvalued exchange rate is somehow going to benefit the country (as opposed to creating a desperate shortage of foreign exchange, as an overvalued local currency unfailingly does).

        Venezuela’s Credit Default Spread of 5822 basis points (highest on the planet) ultimately is the responsibility of those running the country.

        Venezuela is approaching failed state status, despite possessing some of the world’s largest oil reserves. No food, no beer, no toilet paper, no power, and runaway crime eventually pisses folks off, clear past the breaking point.

        Blaming “the opposition” and “the yanqui oppressors” for the country’s self-induced plight is a desperate last-gasp maneuver of cornered-rat politicians.

  9. diptherio

    Re: Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest?

    Then there’s the question of Clinton raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars from speeches to Goldman Sachs and other companies. For a person planning to run for president, this was nuts. It also created potential conflicts of interest, but there’s no sign of any quid pro quo (in a broader sense, companies write checks to buy access and influence, but if that’s corrupt then so is our entire campaign finance system).

    ding, ding, ding!!!! Our entire campaign finance system is corrupt. Hello.

    I was also interested to hear that Clinton gets a higher truthiness rating than Bernie: she only lies 50% of the time, but apparently he lies 51% of the time…hmmm…

    1. Vatch

      I was also interested to hear that Clinton gets a higher truthiness rating than Bernie: she only lies 50% of the time, but apparently he lies 51% of the time…hmmm…

      Please see my comment about this at 4:58 PM. I have doubts about the data leading to the 49% figure.

        1. jrs

          Well campaign promises certain to be broken probably don’t, although they are usually what people really mean when they talk about “lying politicians”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The fact is, she is among the best at exploiting the current system.

      That is to say, almost everyone does it.

      “Just give me 50 righteous people in that land of working guys and working girls.”

    3. toolate

      In a broader sense companies like GS are good at rewarding the behavior of people who in their hearts really like being their lapdogs

  10. Tertium Squid


    The bot’s official role was to assistant users in using the app.

    Interesting to think that if a chatbot is to be lifelike today it will have to make lots of spelling and grammar errors and be inscrutable a lot of the time.

    1. cwaltz

      Just think the Correct the Record will be able to save buttloads of money if they don’t have to employ REAL people to defend the indefensible behavior of Democrats.

    1. allan

      Brought to you by people who once collected Faberge eggs.
      And seem to forget what happened to the original owners.

    2. jrs

      “Absolute poverty is simply not having a roof over your head, a shirt on your back or even a cheap meal of anything in your stomach”

      Does dying 10 years sooner than your economic betters also count, or is it one of those things that doesn’t count because it’s only “relative”. I guess it is relative. Too bad it’s also real. Guess things can be relative and alarming at the same time afterall.

      I know many people and not just Forbes do it but I think income comparisons across countries on very different development scales is pretty invalid to begin with. What good does it do if your income is many times someone in the 3rd world, if you can’t afford shelter because of high U.S. costs of living?

      1. Massinissa

        There are people that argue that theres no poverty in America because everyone has access to cheap televisions, phones and electric appliances.

        1. inode_buddha

          I saw some of those on Charlie Rose the other day. It was infuriating: Keep your cheap TV’s etc and give me a decent job that pays at least a living wage and has a future. Quit trying to rip off everything and everyone you come in contact with.
          I mean, what do I care about cheap toys when I cam barely keep a roof over my head and have *zero* human dignity? Its like the old union saying: Bargain collectively or beg individually.

    3. jrs

      Also you can’t smuggle in “Baltimore spends more on education than Finland and Finland has better results” in an article criticizing Bernie Sanders. Finland probably has better results in that the social context in which schools exist is one of a more equal society with a much more generous welfare state – likely including paid maternity leave etc., homogeneousness might have something to do with it also, ok I can live with that as a hypothesis, but at the same time there is simply no denying it’s also a more equal society with a better safety net. But if you want such a state your best bet is Sanders. So school spending alone might not be the solution, big deal, this is quibbling and ignoring the whole of Sander’s arguments.

  11. Jim Haygood

    James Howard Kunstler goes after the Hildebeest with a polished steel meat ax:

    Clinton perfectly embodies the fortress of the status quo, including especially her praetorian guard of black ghetto grandmothers, giving Hillary the false appearance of some sort of righteousness when, really, she has nothing to offer the greater crisis of black manhood, boxed into prison by the ancient crippling rules of federal welfare policy with its extreme penalties on active fathering.

    Otherwise, the stone wall of her status quo fortress conceals her privy council of Wall Street necromancers, and the fortune they have helped her lay up in the vaults of the Clinton Foundation.

    All of which is to say that Hillary represents the forces that want to keep things just as a they are: rackets rampant. What can crush her triumph of fakery is the sudden manifestation of rackets collapsing under their own weight — a set of awful probabilities waiting to happen, ranging from riots at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia to an accident in financial markets jerry-rigged to misprice everything for the purpose of funneling carry trade gains into East Hampton.

    Look how she croaks about the triumph of the Affordable Care Act, as though it’s a great thing that Americans can shell out $10,000 a year for medical coverage that only kicks in after you rack up the first $6,000 in charges. (Forgetting for a moment that the costs are an hallucination of the “ChargeMaster” system designed to lavish six-figure salaries plus bonuses on the maestros in the hospital executive suites.) What a demonic fraud this woman is.


    They don’t call her “Hillucifer” for nothing.

      1. Massinissa

        Its JHK. Everyone knows he hates black people. Im not even joking. He regularly goes on rants about how the problem with Black people is in their families, but he talks about it soooo frequently it borders on racism.

  12. Steve in Flyover

    I know a 1%er who tips people exceptionally well. Including the line service guys who meet his airplane when he returns from a trip.

    So every time his airplane returns, and the line service guys know he’s on it, a fistfight breaks out to decide who is coming down to meet the airplane.

    In the meantime, the 47%ers flying in smaller jets and prop planes will just have to wait, assuming that line service shows up at all.

    No different than politicians. The guys handing out the money get the undivided attention, while the 47% get to pound sand.

    The current economic situation works for the 1%ers. They have all of the money, and the wretched refuse have to kizz ass to get any of it.

    Nothing I’m seeing makes me believe that this is going to change anytime soon. A crappy economy benefits the guys holding all of the money. The only investments they are making in America are in things people “gotta have”. Yeah, business/sales might be down 10-20%, but their costs are dropping faster. Expect a lot of hand-wringing and concern about the middle class, but nothing in the way of actually doing something.

    Sanders is the only guy who seems to want things to change. Clinton will say just enough to get nominated/elected, then toss all of her supporters under the bus. Mark my works.

  13. Nick

    Re the Atlantic’s article on the $400 emergency: Well that’s reassuring.

    It also reminded me of this article in the FT from October about credit card issuers turning to Facebook to try to assess people’s credit (what? that’s legit)

    “If you look at how many times a person says ‘wasted’ in their profile, it has some value in predicting whether they’re going to repay their debt,” he said. “It’s not much, but it’s more than zero.”

    The article also states that the data suggests that “many consumers across the US have borrowed about as much as they can.”


    In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you…

  14. allan

    U.S. approves Charter’s Time Warner Cable buy with conditions

    The U.S. Justice Department on Monday approved Charter Communications Inc’s (CHTR.O) proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC.N) and Bright House networks, which would create the second-largest broadband provider and third-largest video-provider. …

    The deal must also be approved by the Federal Communications Commission. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Monday he circulated an order seeking approval of the merger with conditions that “will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment.”

    Where will these DOJ lawyers be working in 2 years? The suspense is killing me.

  15. Jim

    From alternet:
    “With respect to the fight for power, it means that we must understand the terrain in which we are operating, the nature of power in the USA, the nature of our enemies and the nature of our tactics and strategy…”

    And Portside states in attempting to define some of the enemies of the progressive movement: ” {Trump supporters} represent “…the white revanchism that exists among his base(i.e. the politics of racial and imperial revenge flows through the Trump campaign like waste through a sewer. The economic anger of the Trump base is something that is very real but it is an anger seen through a racial lens and articulated through a coded racial encryption.”

    As the Archdruid has noted “I see the Trump candidacy as a major watershed in American political life, the point at which the wage class–the largest class of American voters, please note–has begun to wake up to its potential power and begin pushing back against the ascendency of the salary class.”

    You can count on the ideological stupidity of what passes for the progressive left to once again blow the opportunity to actually reconnect with the base which it claims to represent.

    I guess it is time to clearly recognize that the majority of the so-called progressive left of 2016 only represents the interest of the salaried class–it may as well explicitly support Hillary and Bill!

  16. allan

    Lazy DC journalism on full display:

    Nasty Dem primary in Maryland Senate race shakes Capitol [AP]

    Just miles from the U.S. Capitol, two House Democrats are locked in an intense and increasingly personal battle for the future of their party and the legacy of one of the Senate’s most path-breaking members.

    Tuesday’s Maryland Democratic Senate primary between Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen has become a polarizing battle over race, gender and personality that has transfixed and divided fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill. …

    And the contest contains echoes of the Democratic presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as Edwards and Van Hollen present similarly progressive agendas, wrapped in dramatically different approaches to politics. …

    No, dear AP, Edwards and Van Hollen do not have `similarly progressive agendas’.

    Van Hollen provided the muscle to whip the votes for making the Bush tax cuts permanent. And he served on the Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission and then endorsed the chairmen’s recommendations (the commission itself never issued recommendations) as a basis for a debt deal in 2012.

    Van Hollen is no progressive. Needless to say, the WH and Dem leadership are backing him.

  17. washunate

    That’s a great write-up at fivethirtyeight on UBI. It would be interesting to get a serious critique sometime from the MMT crowd rather than the flippant nature by which MMT has generally dismissed both social insurance and basic income to date.

    1. Synoia

      Oh, the Job Guarantee and Employer of Last Resort are flippant?

      Have you actually read Wray’s books?

      1. washunate

        The way that Wray, Mosler, and others have treated alternatives to ELR is what has been flippant. That’s where there is opportunity for substantive discussion.

        Why is MMT built around a work requirement? Employers should not possess a monopoly on the basic necessities of life. And even if you don’t buy the human rights angle, the practical side of the equation heavily favors both unemployment insurance and basic income over a job guarantee of sufficient size to matter. They are simpler to implement and put judgment in the hands of recipients rather than middlemen skimming resources along the way.

        Finally, why is MMT built around inequality? The burden of price stability in the MMT worldview hinges upon those JG workers being paid less than other public employees. Why shouldn’t public workers doing the same amount of work be paid the same wages?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author


          I hate to say it, but I think it’s the usual thing, because I’ve seen this over and over again. Somebody, say Joe Firestone, writes a long and detailed comparison of JG and BIG (I remember several but I’m too lazy to dig them out). Or MMT and anything. The h8ters than say that’s too complicated, and demand it be made simpler. Patient explanations ensue. The h8ters then say the advocate hasn’t listened to them, and if it was a good idea, it wouldn’t be so hard to explain. More patient explanations ensue. Repeat until exhausted.

          Basically, it’s a Gish Gallop a small group with not unlimited resources is forced to perform over and over again. If there’s a degree of flippancy, well, that’s what a Gish Gallop is designed to produce. I’d play today, but I’m tired.

          * * *

          “Employers should not possess a monopoly on the basic necessities of life.” Except when the workers themselves organize the work. Eh?

          “Why is MMT built around inequality?” Why shouldn’t all workers be paid the same wages?

          1. Skippy

            Then you get the Einstein quote “Everything must be made as simple as possible.”― Albert Einstein

            Yet they forget the “But not simpler” bit.

            Not that they would know the earliest known appearance of the aphorism was located by poet and scholar Mark Scroggins and later independently by top-flight quotation researcher Ken Hirsch. The New York Times published an article by the composer Roger Sessions on January 8, 1950 titled “How a ‘Difficult’ Composer Gets That Way”, and it included a version of the saying attributed to Einstein [AERS]:

            I also remember a remark of Albert Einstein, which certainly applies to music. He said, in effect, that everything should be as simple as it can be but not simpler!

            Since Sessions used the locution “in effect” he was signaling the possibility that he was paraphrasing Einstein and not presenting his exact words. Indeed, Einstein did express a similar idea using different words as shown by the 1933 citation given further below.

            In June of 1950 the maxim appeared in the journal Poetry in a book review written by the prominent modernist poet Louis Zukofsky. The saying was credited to Einstein and placed inside quotation marks by Zukofsky [EPLZ].

            There is also the other side of the coin minted by Einstein: “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler” – a scientist’s defense of art and knowledge – of lightness, completeness and accuracy.

            Disheveled Marsupial…. Anywho…..

          2. washunate

            So instead of linking to a thoughtful critique, or summarizing the key points here, you go on a tirade that is at best tangentially related to my original comment? I don’t get it.


            You (or someone?) put this link in the water cooler. I wrote about as tame a response as it gets. Wray has a huge primer on MMT at NEP. That primer neither covers a summary of how the program would work nor responds to alternative proposals like universal unemployment insurance and universal basic income. It doesn’t defend the underlying principle that moar work in the formal economy is needed. It simply assumes that to be true. It doesn’t defend the building block of all monetarist, establishment economics: that a) buffer stocks work, and b) buffer stocks are necessary. And it doesn’t look at the historical record where in the American context, for example, the Social Security Act (social insurance) has been one of the most successful developments of 20th century political economy while the national security state/surveillance state/police state/security theater (government employment) has been one of the most horrific developments. Nor does it look at how compensation works in the real world; what criteria determine how public policy deterines wage levels? We like to think it’s all merit and skillz and whatnot, but that’s bogus of course. And at the core of Wray’s writings is the notion that the JG workers shouldn’t displace other public employees (those, like economists and prosecutors and police chiefs and prison wardens and pension managers, who are paid more than the JG wage). Nor does it look at how previous buffer stocks have failed, like gold revaluation in the 1930s, ending high denomination notes in the 1940s, silver removal from coins and the failure of the London Gold Pool in the 1960s, closing of the gold window and end of Bretton Woods in the 1970s, copper removal from pennies in the 1980s, or the massive skyrocketing of costs like housing, healthcare, and higher education over the past few decades despite lots of NAIRU-based unemployment and underemployment. A reality-based assessment would be addressing these kinds of things. If buffer stocks work, why have currency-denominated prices risen so much in the US over the past century?

            When people like Firestone have written articles here (or at the ‘ole FDL), people like me have offered constructive criticism which is never answered. Yes, there are responses sometimes, but like your response, it is words that do not actually address the key points being mentioned. Sometimes it is outright inflammatory, such as in Wray’s bop a mole series where he called arguments against the price anchor framework fallacious*. The difference between intellectual curiosity and dogma is that the former embraces challenges because asking questions and pointing out flaws strengthens the understanding. MMT is (or at least, has been) openly hostile to the notion of questioning econ PhDs and millionaire financiers.

            We need a paradigm change (or perhaps more accurately, whether we ‘need’ it or not, change is coming). For the sake of the planet. For the sake of our economy. For the sake of our souls. I don’t want to make more cars. I want to make more vacation time. More grandma time. More cooking time. More bike riding time. More staring at the stars time. Yes, none of those things ‘create jobs’ or ‘increase GDP’.

            Who cares?

            *In case anyone wants to accuse me of making that up, here’s the quote:

            I’m not going to say more about these final two arguments against full employment as I’m convinced both are fallacious, and because neither of these critiques offers a price-stabilizing anchor for the currency in place of the JG/ELR.

            Wray literally refuses to engage in arguments with people who are disputing the need for a price anchor!


  18. nihil obstet

    Re: “What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?”

    Nice review of the experiments with basic income and some indications of who’s interested in it now. It still doesn’t address the issues of how the structure of society might be modified, beyond the few related to the family: the women’s shelter pointing out that a basic income would end the financial chains binding women to abusive men, the improved health of children in families that receive payments. It doesn’t address issues of inequality and hierarchy that interest me.

    As far as whether additional money goes to the FIRE sector — note that the higher minimum wage has not resulted in higher prices in Seattle. However, in those areas where markets just don’t work, like health care and essential infrastructure, I think we’ll need to treat more of them as public utilities.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why not just define housework as job, which it is, and guarantee it?

      Power over work = power over capital = power over society.

      The JG provides workers power over work. The BIG does not.

      Could that be one reason BIG is getting so much support from Silicon Valley?

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I can tell you having done my share of paid and unpaid work that child rearing is more work than any paid job I ever had, and that is with the psychic bonus of watching your own kids grow. All of the middle class people I know talk a good game but fewer than 1 in 10 have/would give up their day job to do primary care-giving to their children, much less other types of care-giving.

        Elder care, end-of-life care, etc. should be the highest paid job there is.

      2. tegnost

        I think silly valley is for BIG because they’re pretty much obsessed with robots. I have one friend who insists no one will drive in 10 years, and that everyone should have their own personal robot who works for them. I always question what people are going to do when robots do everything and he thinks people will just find something else to do. My problem is that I wake up in the am and, being currently unremunerated, need some tasks to pass the day, mow the lawn or whatever just to have a schedule and be active or I just start to lose it mentally, while just a couple of chores makes it all ok in the moment, I keep a sleep schedule and the like. The reality of this dystopian robotic nightmare will more likely, of course (entropy and all), be the lawn mowing robot will keep driving off the cliff and I’ll end up just doing it myself anyway because robot repair is expensive, except that I’ll probably have a robot to fix the robot…so anyway while I think the BIG has a place in a “just world” , a JG is where things of value personally and socially will effectively take place, and food forests and the like are “jobs that have yet to be created” (quotations b/c silly valley is counting on unknown occupations to make up for the replacement of workers by robots) I also think people should work less because it’d be good for the planet as too much we do now is bad for it so doing less of that is good there’s still lot’s of other stuff to do in order to maintain sanity on a daily basis.

      3. nihil obstet

        If anyone can say, “I want my job to be housework” I’m good with that. I suspect that whatever person, group, organization has the power to define might respond, “No, sir, you’re a 22-year-old single male, so you don’t get that” or “Ma’am, your guaranteed job is housework, no matter what you think you want to do.”

        The biggest power a worker has in a society that regards ownership of property (beyond personal property) as a right is to withhold labor, which is possible with a BIG, or to join with others and form cooperatives, which would have the breathing room potentially to succeed with a BIG. Could the JG could be implemented as individual tasks like housework or in regulatory requirements on potential employers to hire a set number of workers according to some metric like gross sales? What do you do about incompetent or unwilling employees? Does some JG administrative staff decide that a recalcitrant worker has forfeited their guarantee? This may be a small number, but just as a blog reader, I see that banning commenters is more than a trivial issue — the moderator always thinks it’s for a good reason, the banned always thinks it’s just for disagreeing. Will the JG have fewer problems or less serious problems with workers than blog moderators have with commenters? It’s hard to imagine. There are control issues there that I think are skated over by the phrase “provides workers power over work.”

        I’m also of course interested in pay. I can send most members of the professional class into class 5 outrage by suggesting that maybe a sanitation worker, a teacher, a manager, and a waitperson all ought to be paid pretty much the same thing; why should the different identities/activities mean that one has more opportunity than another? Obviously, I find this topic fun.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I wasn’t making a serious argument on policy. However, it sure is odd that the reproduction of labor power (mostly done by women) is not paid for, where labor power is paid for. I think that work needs to be respected where found.

          * * *

          “The biggest power a worker has in a society that regards ownership of property (beyond personal property) as a right is to withhold labor.” I disagree. I think the right to organize the workplace is an even bigger power. I think all the other administration issues you raise pale beside how BIG opponents will frame it: It’s freeloading, pure and simple. “Why should I write you a check?” (Never mind that Federal taxes don’t fund spending; it’s framing.)

          NC is a sole-proprietorship. There’s no reason to think moderation is a fair analogy. And if it is, your objection boils down to the fact that exercising power involves…. work. I mean, are we really arguing that dealing with recalcitrant individuals is not possible? The BIG doesn’t. The elites who support BIG do so exactly for the reason that enabling consumption is not empowering (except for them).

          1. nihil obstet

            I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying, so forgive me if I imply something you didn’t say. I agree on organizing the workplace. The way the unions got improved pay, the 40-hour week, and other benefits was by withholding labor — the strike. When strikes stop, unions don’t win many battles. And when strikes end in failure, the single top cause is depletion of the strike fund. I would note that most public school teachers have fairly significant job guarantees, called “tenure” or its equivalent, and belong to unions or professional societies. And yet I have seen teachers lose power in their workplace over the last twenty years. Their organizations have not brought about greater workplace democracy.

            A problem in discussing here is that a JG can take many forms, from simple workfare to elaborate plans to create enterprises that will hire anyone who wants a job. I would like the employees at all workplaces to be unionized. I would also like civil-service like employment laws, which would protect employees from arbitrary personnel actions. These reforms may be implemented with or without a JG. I wish we would move on them as quickly as possible, to promote the belief that an employee has rights in his/her job. But again, I don’t think this relates directly to a JG.

            A BIG is universal. I’ve never heard anybody on Social Security say to anybody else on Social Security, “Why should I write you a check?” Freeloading, pure and simple? We’d all get it, and we’d be happy as Alaskans, cashing their oil checks.

            I don’t mean to attack or antagonize the owner of Naked Capitalism. My point is that communities have a lot of issues, and I was using blogs and comments to elicit thoughts about how to handle the issues when there’s a guarantee about something. It seemed to me that blogs, usually supported by donations from the commentariat, would raise those thoughts. I could have used the Occupy experiments in democracy, but it would take a rather long post on that topic alone. A BIG no more demands conformity than a Social Security check does. Yes, you can always deal with recalcitrant individuals, but as one who has been recalcitrant many times in my life, that’s what scares me.

  19. Alex morfesis

    Hopefully the sandman crushes $hillary Clingon tomorrow…

    America, the world is in your hands…

    Lettuce Prey….

    1. Synoia

      The game is rigged. The Donald knows that and has made his response clear.

      I’m ABC – Anyone but Clinton. I do wish her fundraising eMails, which are addressed to me would not be so familiar. I find the use of my Christian name presumptions.

      I am not friend of hers, nor ever a familiar acquaintance. I have looked in my garden, and while I has a fine set of slugs, none will respond to being called Hillary.

  20. PQS

    “you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.” I bet Clinton actually believes this statement. But it glosses over the more subtle way money influences politics” [Los Angeles Times].

    This is the terrible heart of the whole effing system and why people find her so phony. It ain’t just the quid pro quo.

    Let’s compare the careers of Sanders and Clinton, shall we? Both in “public service” for decades, yet Sanders paid $20K in taxes last year and doesn’t have a “foundation” worth hundreds of millions of dollars to support an entourage and a million dollar wedding for his kid. (I’m sorry, but that million dollar wedding really bugs me – it’s so gauche.)

    In some ways, I suppose you can’t blame the Clintons for worshiping money. It’s the only path to immortality and prestige in America, since we don’t have titled nobility. Just don’t pretend that anyone on that path has any great ideas for the rest of us.

    1. JustAnObserver

      Don’t apologize for the wedding thing esp. not if there was a yacht involved. Its one piece of “Hey look at me” public spectacle that seems to be shared by all members of the global plutocracy from Uzbekistan to DC. Even if we don’t (yet ?) have titled nobility those that aspire to that position can still try to ape the spectacle.

    2. Massinissa

      We have nobility, I assure you. We just need to wait for another Clinton administration for them to be given proper titles.

  21. Synoia

    UK readers: a sample letter on TTIP to send to your MP

    Better: According to the the provisions of GATS, the precursor to TTIP, entities such as the National Health Service must be privatized and cannot be reestablished for any reason.

    Similarly London Transport,British Rail and all the Defence Research and Development establishments, which also have been privatized. For example the RRE, the Royal Radar Establishment, has become QinetiQ.

    The “Regulation Harmonization” clauses make the EU’s control of Britain look like childish behaviour, and the ISDS provisions make the attempts of the Spanish Armada a holiday trip.

    If we’d wanted to be ruled by Europe, we’d have not fought the Napoleonic, First and Second Worlds wars, and would now be ruled by the German based European Central Bank, and the City’s business would have vanished to Frankfurt in a giant sucking sound.

    If the Conservatives want to survive as a party, and not UKIP’s rump, then they had better put on their so called “Little Englander” white trousers, and go to bat.

    cc Nigel Farage, UKIP.

  22. Kim Kaufman

    Not sure why anyone thinks Bill Fletcher Jr. is worth listening to. He talks a moderately good game in the AlterNet article but in fact has a been a Dem party shill for a long time. He’s pretty quiet on Bernie but I’ll bet he’s one of the first out the gate supporting Hillary after the convention (because Republicans). It’s odd he doesn’t list his long history of professional jobs working in executive positions inside unions. Fletcher is one of those labor “leaders” who thinks “having a seat at the table” is so important and, imo, reflects why unions have become so corrupt and unhelpful to labor.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I wouldn’t call Fletcher a “labor leader.” He seems to have bounced around quite a bit, never in a position of authority, and every time I saw him speak (maybe 3 times), he was very much of the “our unions are f()cked up and we need to change them.” I always found him pretty thoughtful and this piece seemed pretty consistent with that.

      I guess we’ll find out if/when he starts stumping hard for HRC.

  23. JustAnObserver

    Am I alone in thinking that the way we tend to denote the two contenders for the Dem nomination – Hillary (girlish first name) vs. Sanders (masculine surname) – plays straight into to the “elect me ‘cos I’m a woman” narrative that the Clinton campaign has been pushing almost from day one ?

    O.k. using ‘Clinton’ risks some confusion as to which one is meant and plays into the (still in some parts unaccountably ?!) fond memories of Bill’s time in office. Possibly no confusion at all since if you get one then you get the other, with the Rubin crew, Kissinger, and a bunch of stale neocon crazies as a free bonus.

    Or maybe this is just my Sorcerer’s Apprentice attempt at Lambertian rhetorical analysis …

    1. hreik

      Those of us phone banking, canvassing etc call him “Bernie”, though I have a lovely round “Birdie” sticker on the left side of my car

  24. Dave

    “I’m ready for my close up Mr. DeMille”


    “I’m ready for my close up Miz. Wasserman-Schultz”

    Whenever I hear, ” Hill Yes! it’s a woman’s turn to be president”,

    I ask, how about Sara Palin?

    O.K. How about Elizabeth Warren?


    1. ambrit

      How about Eva Peron? Jim Haygoods’ favourite “Viuda Negra,” the Widow Kirchner? Golda Meir? For the ultimate ‘triangulation,’ Angela Merkel???
      There are precedents.

      1. Clive

        And who, of course, could forget Margaret Thatcher (some of us are still trying to) who, after all, did so much for women. Unfortunately, the snag was, it was almost always bad.

  25. ambrit

    AAAAArgh! I clean forgot the “Iron Lady.” (Which appellation sounds a bit too much like a Robert E Howard story.)

    1. Massinissa

      Reminds me more of the old torture device called the Iron Maiden. The Thatcher years were basically the UK being shoved into one.

  26. Hilary Clinton

    Hilariously Clinton is a liar and the biggest crook in government or on TV.
    I would like her nicknname to be Hilarious Clinton or Crooked Clinton

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