2:00PM Water Cooler 4/8/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


To the Canadians among us: “The other reason that trade deals are in the news is because the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade wants to hear your views on the TPP. You are encouraged to send them a 1,500 word brief on how the TPP will impact you and your community at ciit-tpp-ptp@parl.gc.ca no later than April 30, 2016” [Progressive Economics].

“The TPP dairy tariff reductions, flexible labeling rules and tariff classifications for MPC and casein, lauded by the U.S. Dairy Export [and Import] Council, are key elements of a trade policy strategy that continues to reduce the number of U.S. dairy farms and the benefits those farms provide to the families and counties in which they are located” [Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy].

“TPP ‘worst trade deal ever,’ says Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz” [CBC]. And NAFTA set a high bar! “[ISDS is] the ‘worst part of agreement,’ [Stiglitz] says, because it allows large multinationals to sue the Canadian government. “‘It used to be the basic principle was polluter pay,’ Stiglitz said. ‘If you damaged the environment, then you have to pay. Now if you pass a regulation that restricts ability to pollute or does something about climate change, you could be sued and could pay billions of dollars.'”



“How Hillary Clinton Militarized US Policy in Honduras” [The Nation]. “She used a State Department office closely involved with counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq to aid the coup regime in Honduras.” Another “mistake”?

“Little-discussed secret audio recordings released in early 2015 reveal how top Pentagon officials, and even one of the most progressive Democrats in Congress, were so wary of Clinton’s warmongering that they corresponded with the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi in hopes of pursuing some form of diplomacy” [Salon]. Thinking inside the box here, I wonder if the administration has an October surprise planned?

The Voters

Bill Clinton shuts down #BlackLivesMatter protesters:

“The Daily 202: Bill Clinton’s argument with Black Lives Matter protesters is 2016’s Sister Souljah Moment” [WaPo]. That was fast!

Bill’s comments about the Black Lives Matter movement suggest that a major pivot in the campaign’s messaging is on the way…. Now, as the general election looms, polls show that his wife is badly underperforming with white voters in key battleground states compared to 2008. But Bill’s strategy is not without risk. Hillary needs high African American turnout to beat Bernie in New York on April 19 and in the Pennsylvania and Maryland primaries on April 26. She also needs to keep the Obama coalition activated through November.

So funny. Remember that South Carolina firewall? Used and discarded. Nobody could have predicted…

An excellent tweetstorm on Bill Clinton’s remarks:

Clinton’s running a terrible campaign:

“The corporate duopoly electoral system is the equivalent of the sports league cabal: whatever the score, the owners win. The best possible outcome of their quadrennial games would be a breakup of the duopoly, through a split in one or both of the corporate parties. For the first time in at least a century, such an earth-shaking fracture is possible, and even likely” [Black Agenda Report]. “Therefore, those who seek fundamental change in U.S. political alignments and structures should root for whatever primary election results that contribute to the dissolution of the Democratic-Republican duopoly system.

“West Virginia Third State to Pass Automatic Voter Registration” [Brennan Center for Justice]. Sensible.


Clinton deploys white noise machine at Colorado fundraiser:

If that’s not a great metaphor…

“The Secret Movement to Draft General James Mattis for President” [Daily Beast]. Squillionaires with a bright idea… Could Mattis be Rove’s “fresh face”?

New York

“There was another problem with Clinton’s ride aboard the 4 Train, one that the media all but ignored: Hillary Clinton broke the subway rules, and did so not only within full sight of New York City officials and law enforcement, who stood around and watched her do it” [Guardian].

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Rules of Conduct, the subway system is for transporting riders to their destinations, and nothing else. But the rules list several exceptions, including “campaigning”. So far, so good, Hillary Clinton.

However, Section 1050.6(c)1 of the subway rules states unequivocally that none of these activities may be performed on the actual subway cars.

This is the rule Clinton broke. Clinton’s defenders might think the short subway trip wasn’t actually campaigning, but I’d urge them to watch a video of her two-stop ride – from Yankee Stadium to 170th Street – that clearly shows Clinton glad-handing on the train itself.

She’s aided in doing so by Rubén Díaz Jr, the president of the borough of the Bronx, who introduces her to strap-hangers as “the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton”. If that wasn’t enough, Clinton then takes some questions from the press aboard the 4 Train car.

The incident is all the more galling because there are actual, regular New Yorkers trying to make ends meet who are arrested for violating the same rules that Clinton disregards with impunity. These regular New Yorkers are, of course, the acrobatic showtime performers and musicians – a cultural point of pride for the city – who perform legally on platforms and other areas of the transit system (not always without harassment) but are barred from playing on board subway cars by the same rules that should have prevented Clinton’s campaigning.

Laws are for little people!

“The 10 Best Reactions to Hillary Clinton’s Epic Subway Fail” [Cosmopolitan]. *** swipe swipe swipe swipe swipe ***

The Trail

“Sanders Backtracks, Says ‘Of Course’ Clinton Is Qualified to Be President” [Bloomberg]. “‘On her worst day she will be a—she would be an infinitely better president than either of the Republican candidates,’ Sanders said in a town hall-style event hosted by NBC News in New York.”

Explaining his “unqualified” remark Friday, Sanders said the Clinton campaign had taken a more negative tone heading into the New York primary, and “we responded.”

Sargent frames this as: “Sanders cleaned up the mess” [WaPo]. All I know is I don’t want Sanders backing down from anything, ever, because now the political class are going to think he can be muscled. The pattern was: 1) Clinton telegraphed her punch; 2) punched; 3) Sanders counter-punched; 4) political class clutched their pearls and headed for the fainting couch; 5) Sanders backtracked. Once is an outlier. Twice would be a concern. Three times would be a pattern. Just don’t take Step #5! And if people like Operative K get their knickers in a twist, that’s a good sign.

“In an interview with me today, senior Sanders adviser Tad Devine left no doubt: Not only will Bernie Sanders support Clinton if she is the nominee; he will also do everything possible to make sure the next president is a Democrat, even if it isn’t Bernie Sanders” [Greg Sargent, WaPo]. And we get?

“Sanders gaining on Clinton in California poll” [Sacramento Bee].

“Colorado loss reveals chaotic, overwhelmed Trump campaign” [MSNBC]. Trump is a brilliant entertainer, the Perfect Kayfabe Master. That’s not the same thing as being an organizer.

Stats Watch

Wholesale Trade, February 2016: “Wholesalers aggressively drew down their inventories in February, 0.5 percent lower following a revised 0.2 percent draw in January. Auto inventories were worked sharply lower in February, down 1.0 percent for the largest monthly decline since September 2013” [Econoday]. “Auto sales have been struggling this year and the decline in wholesale auto inventories could be an early sign of correction for this industry. Still, draws are always welcome news when demand is soft. Note that today’s inventory decline and downward revision are negatives for first-quarter GDP estimates.” However: “The headlines say wholesale sales were down month-over-month with inventory levels remaining at levels associated with recessions. Our analysis shows an improving trend of the 3 month averages” [Econintersect].

“Just as record companies in the early 2000s had to deal painfully with the digitization of music courtesy of Napster and Apple Inc.’s iTunes, many asset managers are now facing a similar situation as more investors make the switch from high-priced, actively managed mutual funds to passive, low-cost, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds” [Bloomberg]. “When the dust settles in this sea change, the financial industry may be half of what it once was, simply because its revenues will be half of what they once were.”

GDP Now: “The GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the first quarter of 2016 is 0.1 percent on April 8, down from 0.4 percent on April 5” [Across the Curve].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69, Greed (previous close: 69, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 8 at 11:44am. I wonder what Monday, after the recovery from the Nineteenth Hole, will bring.


“On President Obama’s first day in office in 2009, he issued an executive order to close ‘the revolving door’ between government and the private sector by restricting the hiring of any registered lobbyists for positions in his administration” [New York Review of Books]. “But Obama himself eventually hired at least seventy lobbyists, many of whom then returned to lobbying after a stint in his administration. So much for Obama’s campaign pledge that he would ‘tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.’ The executive order has since been dropped, and the number of business lobbyists in Washington has continued rising rapidly.”

Unaoil not dead:

“President Obama, who invited Mr. Najib to a round of golf in 2014, has met with him twice more since November without commenting on the mounting scandal. It’s past time for the administration to distance itself from a ruler who appears headed for well-deserved disgrace” [WaPo (RS)]. Tut tut. Obama needs Malaysia, hence Najib, for TPP. That’s why the America’s First Black President issued a free pass to Malaysia on slavery.


“Senator Elizabeth Warren Asks Jack Lew, Who Owned an Offshore Account at Citigroup, to Investigate Panama Papers” [Wall Street on Parade]. Didn’t Lew get some kinda sleazy sweetheart deal from NYU — sorry for the redundancy — on housing? In addition to all the other “perks” of meritocratic [***cough ***] advancement that WSoP lists?

“The international art market is a money laundry whose details are in the Panama Papers” [Boing Boing].

“For just $309, you too can hide your assets — in the U.S.” [Los Angeles Times]. If I were cynical, I’d conclude that the owners of substantial assets will ride out the #PanamaPapers with no ill effects*, but that the little guy will be totally screwed, exactly as with FATCA. (* Modulo casualties of elite factional infighting and/or the ol’ “Off the Droshky!” maneuver.)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Now that it encrypts its messages, social media giant WhatsApp has thrown up a major roadblock for the world’s intelligence agencies. But the National Security Agency can take comfort in this, at least: Internet heavyweights such as Facebook and Google are unlikely to embrace similar encryption systems, which would prevent harvesting user information for advertising purposes” [Foreign Policy].


“Epigenetics” (video) [PBS]. Old, but I think the concept makes sense.

“Italy’s Olive Trees Didn’t Have to Die” [Scientific American].

The Jackpot

“While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels” [Bloomberg]. A countervailing force…

Guillotine Watch

“Luxury car brand Bentley has spent some time imagining what the future holds for the car industry and that future looks bright for anyone who has ever dreamed of owning their very own ghostly man servant” [The Drum]. As I keep saying: Robots = slaves. That’s the kind of economy our tech visionaries really want.

Class Warfare

This is interesting (but note the different scales on left and right axes):

“White women between 25 and 55 have been dying at accelerating rates over the past decade, a spike in mortality not seen since the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. According to recent studies of death certificates, the trend is worse for women in the center of the United States, worse still in rural areas, and worst of all for those in the lower middle class. Drug and alcohol overdose rates for working-age white women have quadrupled. Suicides are up by as much as 50 percent” [WaPo].

“More than 40% of Americans who borrowed from the government’s main student-loan program aren’t making payments or are behind on more than $200 billion owed, raising worries that millions of them may never repay” [Wall Street Journal, “More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments”]. Sounds like a debtor’s strike…

“Taken as a whole, the results suggest that the labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy are large, negative and persistent” [Lisa B. Kahn, Labor Economics (abstract)].

“Cooperative and Trade Union Solutions for the Gig Economy” [Grassroots Economic Organizing].

“Banks Record $11.2 Billion in Overdraft Fees in 2015” [Bank Talk]. “An unusual leader in this unsavory game is Woodforest National Bank. This relatively tiny institution, most known for its kiosk branches in Wal-Marts across the country, extracted more in fees from overdraft than did all but nine other institutions.”

News of the Wired

There is now a National Videogame Museum [Dallas Observer]. A trend I entitrely missed. Something so massive as video games had to shape the larger culture, but I’m not sure how. Readers?

“Amazon Echo Is Magical. It’s Also Turning My Kid Into an [Glass Bowl]” [Medium]. The prompt should be: “Alexa, please…” Then again, if your model for human-to-AI/robot relations is slavery, then that would be dumb.

“How Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kevin Smith, and Other Celebs Learned to Write Comic Books” [Vulture].

“The Weird Redemption of SF’s Most Reviled Tech Bro” [Back Channel]. Worth a read for the Silicon Valley hothouse atmosphere, where an artificial construct like “startup culture” is taken seriously. As for the redemption, I’m not so sure.

“Philosophy is no longer a field conducted entirely from the comfort of an armchair. Over the past decade, this notoriously abstract discipline has developed a branch of “experimental philosophy” that conducts its own scientific studies” [Quartz].

Sundar Pichai [Buzzfeed]. Near hagiographical. I wish Google would: 1) Make its search not suck, because it didn’t used to suck; 2) stop its customer support from sucking, by which I mean have some; 3) abandon that stupid and evil ” One account. All of Google” thing. That’s exactly what I don’t want.

Reminds me of the USCSS Nostromo, for some reason:

* * *

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 (Tia):

Cherry blossoms

Tia writes: Cherry blossoms before they got whopped by freezing snow. (N.Colo.) Fortunately at least half survived.


* * *

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. nippersdad

      This is gold:

      “On Twitter, Sanders’ supporters think Hillary is a monstrous right-winger who spends her days and nights plotting to throw poor kids off welfare benefits while outsourcing their fathers’ jobs to China in order to free up scarce public resources for her warmongering.”

      And? How are they wrong? I thought that a remarkably concise and well thought out description of her, myself.

      1. uahsenaa

        If we’re being perfectly fair, the characterization could read more like “an [ordinary] right-winger who spends her days and nights [in willful indifference to] poor kids [losing] welfare benefits while [corporate donors] outsourc[e] their fathers’ jobs to China in order to free up scarce public resources for her warmongering.”

        In order words, tone down the rhetoric, but the facts remain.

        1. nippersdad

          But why would I want to tone it down? I agree that she is monstrous. Ordinary right wingers don’t have people like Kissinger, Nuland or Albright in their inner circles.

          One tires of being represented by loathesome people, so why not at least have the pleasure of really trashing them?

          While one still can.

          1. bob

            The Authorities on civil discourse have spoken.

            Fuck those fucking fuckers….as almost every word in a sentence.

  1. Llewelyn Moss

    re: Tad Devine: “Bernie Sanders will support Clinton if she is the nominee”

    Thanks for the headsup Tad. That gives the Revolution time to create its Plan-B third party strategy.

    1. ahimsa

      Say it ain’t so Bernie!

      What gives? Strategising before the upcoming closed primary states? What happened to the line Sanders took during The Young Turks interview, where he would make Clinton sign up to his shopping list of policy demands? And like Lambert questioned, why did he back down from the “qualified/unqualified” remarks??? One can only hope this is strategising to take more centrist voters/superdelegates during the closed primaries, but something smells off.

      After reading an interesting diary by Subir at the DailyKos (Empire State of Mind: Yes, New York can FeelTheBern!), I had really thought his chances in NY were quite good.

          1. local to oakland

            At this point he can’t afford to lose whatever loyal dems he can swing at the margin. I understand not offending them needlessly. I really wish he would play up how well he fits the FDR tradition. That matters to seniors. (and the rest of us, but the battle front is seniors and Xers).

            The news keeps calling him McGovern, I think the counter to that is FDR.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I am for one day at a time, or one battle at a time.

                When you are an archer, shooting at a Big Apple, be the arrow…

                “Focus, cross-bow man!”

      1. Bas

        One can also hope that she will be indicted or look so stinky between now and the convention she will slink away.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If indicted after the convention, the path will be wide open for Cruz or Trump.

          Sanders has to be consider an Independent bid…unless there is some 11 dimensional chess moves in there somewhere.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You’re right.

              It’s not over until someone sings.

              And not over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

              Wait, I take that last one back. Getting too excited there for a moment.

      2. Llewelyn Moss

        This may play to Bernie’s advantage in the primaries. Gotta assume there is a percentage of Dem voters who may like Bernie but might balk at him if they thought he was not a ‘Loyal Democrat’. I don’t see this announcement as Bernie giving up, but rather answering Hellery’s charge that he is not a real Dem.

        That said, if Bernie ends up asking us to vote for Hellery, I’ll thank him for starting the revolution and vote Green.

        1. tony

          Pretty much. He has to say that. However, the movement that is pushing Bernie does not belong to him, and quite a few of his supporters will not vote, and some will vote Jill Stein or the Republican.

      3. Jeff W

        I guess the way I read that is that nothing bars Sanders from supporting Clinton wholeheartedly—which is a different position than that of those who say they would not support Clinton under any conceivable circumstances. That support might be with the unstated “provided she meets our conditions” or it might not.

        This conversation is occurring in the context of the “unqualified” spat this week. Sanders, wisely, does not want to get into a fight about how he views Clinton or how “loyal” he is—he is much better off when he is pointing to facts and letting voters draw their own conclusions. In that sense, Tad Devine, the Sanders campaign strategist, who is answering these questions, is being strategic.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think a ‘Mr. Sanders will meet with Ms. Clinton after the last primary’ should suffice.

          “They will sit down over a bowl of matcha, like two honorable samurais.”

    2. Gaylord

      Don’t get too excited about Bernie, folks. Ultimately, he will do as he’s told, like all the others.

      1. grayslady

        Sorry, but that’s just nonsense. Don’t be fooled by Bernie’s basic decency. He still has all the fighter’s instincts of a kid who grew up poor in Brooklyn. (Am I the only one who caught his response to the NY Daily News about jumping the turnstile when he was told he couldn’t use a token anymore?)

        He was brilliant on Morning Joe this morning. While enumerating all the lies Hillary has told about his proposals, he also casually said, “Have I attacked her personally? Have I gone after her emails or the funding of the Clinton Foundation?” All the idiots around the table nodded sagely, agreeing that he hadn’t done those things when, in fact, they provided him with a perfect opening to bring those issues to the fore again in front of a national audience.

        Bernie is an old fox. There are times, in the past, when his decisions in congress have disappointed me; but he strikes me as a strategist, not a tactician. I’m willing to see how this plays out without trying to second guess him at this point.

        1. ahimsa

          Thanks for the tip on Sanders’ Morning Joe appearance. Very strong. His straight forward confidence in simply stating his positions and not constantly trying to triangulate yet still managing to mention critical talking points re Clinton – slick!

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A cagey fighter.

            UnlikeTrump, who fights on several fronts, including one against Bush, right before the South Carolina primary.

            Strategically, that’s not so smart.

            Sanders limits himself to one front, and based on triangulation game theory, avoiding taking on Obama.

            There will be no Barbarossa for him.

            Barry lucks out.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          “Have I attacked her personally? Have I gone after her emails or the funding of the Clinton Foundation?”

          This is paralipsis:

          It would be unseemly for me to dwell on the Senators’s drinking problem, and too many have already sensationalized his womanizing…

    3. polecat

      …..”It rubs the stinky clinton lotion on its’ skin, and puts the lotion in the basket again”….

      I know…he’s not Ted Levine..but I couldn’t help conjuring up that visual metaphor…….

    4. crittermom

      I would much rather Bernie split from the Demon Party & run as an Independent if Hellary gets the nomination. I’m very disappointed to hear he would encourage us to support her. I just don’t know how I ever could.

      With the support he continues to gather I don’t see it as being impossible for him to win that way, which would be the ultimate in telling both parties to kiss off.
      Yes, it would be a long shot, but isn’t that what they said about him at the beginning of this race?

      If Hellary gets in she will only oil that revolving door to make sure it works even smoother.
      I’m all for voting for those progressives running for other offices, but Hellary?
      Gotta go. I think I’m gonna throw up now at just the thought of “having” to choose her.
      Bernie, please don’t make me! I just can’t!

      1. nippersmom

        You don’t “have ” to choose her, crittermom. Even if Bernie isn’t on the ballot in November, there will be other options (contrary to what the duopoly would have you believe).

        1. HotFlash

          Agreed. You vote for Bernie if you like what Bernie says and seems. If he loses I expect him to honour his word and endorse Hillary. Fine.

          In the general she has his one (1) vote and she is free to *earn* mine. He can hand off his delegates in the primary, but we voters still own ourselves.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            The whole thing about “endorsements” is ridiculous. It’s a secret ballot, anyway. Only you know who you vote for and you can legally lie about it if that suits your purpose. And anybody who thinks the endorsement of union leaders means anything has never been in a union nor ever known anybody in a union. Union workers pay dues to the union if they have to, to keep their job. That’s generally their only connection to the union. Many union workers are devout Republicans. I’ve met more than one that are devout Nazis. Seriously. So when they make an announcement: “So-and-So, the head of the Such-and-Such union, endorses HRC”, it’s a joke. Most of the people in his union probably don’t even know his name.

      2. HotFlash

        I am pretty sure Bernie won’t run as an independent. If he loses the Democratic primary it is up to us to figure out the next move. He has done his best and it didn’t work. He’s 74, what more do you expect from him?

        Someone asked Noam Chomsky in an interview, “What are you going to do (about something…)?” Noam said, “I’m 80 (or something) years old, what are *you* going to do about it?” (I am basing this on faulty memory here, if you are interested track it down, it was a video)

        So, what we gonna do?

        1. Kurt Sperry

          It’s great question. Organize, somehow. We now know there is huge bloc of people who will vote for and give support to advance a set of policies currently exemplified by the Sanders movement. A bloc so large it can probably win national elections right out of the box. At one time doing that organizing would have been nearly impossible, but today with the internet and social media the entry barriers are much lower. His email list of supporters alone gets you 90% of the way there. What happens to it if Hillary is the nominee? That, it seems to me, is a question of truly monumental import and one that should be publicly addressed by the Sanders campaign. Who owns that list? They may hold the future of the nation in their hands.

          1. Rhondda

            Great observation, Kurt. All my Bernie donations have been made through ActBlue. I tipped ’em, so I’d think that — at minimum — the Bernie campaign and ActBlue would have that info.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            That’s it. The $64,000 question.

            I’m too lazy to find the link right now, but the context is Sanders people showing up to contest delegate slates at the state conventions (and picking some off. Sad, but those are the rules…). And the point is that Sanders people tend to have a lot of social capital. They know how to organize, and also how to be organized. That bodes well for the “the future of the nation.”

          3. neo-realist

            Organize this bloc of people on a local and state level to potentially win majorities in congress so it can actually legislate from the progressive side and actually force a President to move to the progressive side.

            If the bloc wins a national election, but not congress, the President is a relatively toothless tiger.

            It’s a longer, more difficult struggle to organize and message on the local and state levels, but it will provide the best payoff in the long run.

          4. different clue

            What would happen if all the people who are actually on that email list had email access to and knowledge of all the people who are actually on that email list? Would that provide for all kinds of cross-organization and millions of getting-to-know-yous among those people . . . while permitting no trace of this information to reach any person not on the list?

            1. Kurt Sperry

              I love the idea of open sourcing the list, maybe with an opt in or opt out for people who don’t want to join in. The information as a whole is potentially *extremely* powerful and it shouldn’t be held by any small group to use for personal gain or to exploit as imperious gatekeepers to push their personal or institutional agendas.

    5. dcblogger

      It would have been better had he said we will support Hillary just as we expert her to support Bernie should he win

      1. Jeff W

        In Tad Devine’s defense, he did say “We believe Bernie will be the nominee, and we hope Clinton will give us the same kind of vigorous endorsement” [emphasis added] right after he said “I’m sure he’ll do everything to make sure that the next president is a Democrat.”

    6. Kurt Sperry

      I think it means Bernie actually thinks he will–one way or another–win the nomination and is setting up Clinton and the DNC to either have to be seen to support him as the nominee or to be seen as churlish and vindictive. Although I think a Bernie Sanders who makes a conspicuous show of supporting HRC as the nominee is also a Bernie Sanders who makes himself into a political irrelevancy. If taking Wall St. money by the cubic f**kton makes one corrupt, he can’t really enthusiastically endorse someone who does that and remain credible.

      1. HotFlash

        Although I think a Bernie Sanders who makes a conspicuous show of supporting HRC as the nominee is also a Bernie Sanders who makes himself into a political irrelevancy.

        Agreed. In that case, he will never be a lobbyist, get a directorship on any board and probably won”t even get a place in a think tank. You might even think he doesn’t care.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          No, I meant irrelevant to a significant portion of his base. Myself included. After saying a politician whoring oneself out to Wall St. is de facto corruption–which it is–if he then goes on to give more than the lukewarm and perfunctory endorsement manners require, he will be seen as a hypocrite.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Unless he believes in redemption.

            “I’ve extracted promises from her. I have redeemed her with my crucifying loss.”

            1. ambrit

              I don’t know if Bernie believes in ‘redemption,’ but I’m almost certain that Hillary does not.
              Besides, Monotheist “redemption” is based on the concept of “grace.” This is a concept divorced from “good works.” Sinners who have been “redeemed” can still blithely move on sinning as they go. I much prefer Gnostic ‘redemption;’ where personal reflection and corrective action are needed. If Hillary were Buddhist, I’d say she slipped off of the ‘Eightfold Path’ at about step Zero.

  2. bsg

    RE: Video Games

    Steve Jobs worked for Atari in their early days.

    Games were always the solid consumer force driving computer technology forward. Business would’ve been fine with sticking to VisiCalc and World Processors and other applications that do not require extraordinary computing power.

    Graphical Operating Systems and the World Wide Web are glorified video games, the “gameifying” of information made it more accessible to non-technophiles. Imagine if the standards were still DOS for operating systems and BBSs for online communication. The entry barrier would’ve kept computers firmly outside of the mainstream.

    The opposite side is also crucial, video games were/are a way to introduce people to high end technology and make it less alien. For millions of people, the Atari Video Computer System (2600) and the Nintendo Entertainment System (Famicom) were the first affordable, yet powerful computer-like devices in their home. Making the jump from an NES to a PC is an easier leap of faith than the leap from a simple television to a PC.

    In a panel discussion with Magnavox Odyssey 2 video game programmer Ed Averett ( http://www.nowyoureplayingwith.com/episode-42-ed-averett-qa-at-cge-2k14/ ), he believes human beings are better equipped to solve problems if they are able to visualize them. He believes video games are the driving force behind the gradual rise in computer power needed to better visualize these problems.

    1. uahsenaa

      Not just games–maybe not even primarily games have driven display developments over the course of computing. Sure, at the super high end, these things are driven by games and media, but the first widespread commercial use of WYSIWYG GUIs were in computer typography and most the first fully visual PC operating systems, Macs in particular, were designed with desktop publishing in mind. There was a strong desire in periodical publishing especially to have an immediate, malleable mockup of a final printed form.

      Nowadays, with Microsoft and Linux etc., the ends toward which visual interfaces are purposed are many, but historically, that is how they came to be in the first place, at least in commercial ventures.

    2. Ptup

      I had read more than once that gamers were easily recruited into the Armed forces to fight in Iraq, because, well, I guess, they wanted the real thing. Then, of course, is the oft told story of top gamers being recruited to be drone operators.

    3. JCC

      Games have been driving improvments in computers for years. GPUs (Graphical processing units) were developed for gamers and now are the primary processing units of most large computer clusters, for example. Games are very mathematically intense and processor designers need to take this into account.

      Also, I vaguely remember reading somewhere that when Kernigan and Richie designed the C language and the UNIX Op Sys at the AT&T Labs, the first program written for it was a game. Human beings, even scientists, like to have fun, and writing simple games is a great challenge.

      I remember when I was first self-learning to program a computer, one of the very first programs I wrote was a simple craps game in order to get a handle on how processors handled algorithms and how assembler code worked. It was fun :)

  3. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday hreik posted a quote from the late Christopher Hitchens, which ended on this note:

    Speaking of where things lie, [Hillary] can in a close contest keep up with her husband for mendacity.

    Like him, she is not just a liar but a Lie; a phony construct of shreds and patches and hysterical, self pitying demagogic improvisations.”

    Having spent nigh on eight years under a president whose inner core could be visualized as the random bits of paper, pieces of string, golf tees and pop bottle caps assembled by a bower bird, we aren’t making that mistake again.

      1. Massinissa

        Honestly I dont think Trump can be worse than Clinton, though not better enough to merit voting for.

        Now, Clinton vs Cruz is like a nightmare. Either way we get more state department shenanigans abroad.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Mr. My God has prepared the Way for me to become King of the Government Mountain, one among the Seven Mountains of the Holy Dominion …? That guy? Creepy slimy ratphibian….

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          The way I look at it, If HRC is the nominee, the entire Democratic Party needs to be punished severely, by nobody ever voting for them ever again. That way they’ll get the message.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      All the good men (and women) left after 2000, and migrated to Canada or Europe, taking their good genes with them.

      It’s not unlike the situation in Russia today, where many Russian women say of Russian men now, the Great Patriot War took away all the good genes.

      Will more good genes leave the homeland? Did they really leave after 2000?

      1. Carolinian

        Yes, they left for Canada and Europe and gave them governments just like ours.

        You are kidding about the gene thing right? Dr. Shockley I presume?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I thought I heard the gene explanation somewhere, for the state of Russian men today – a lot of good men (and women) died fighting the Nazis. It might have been here.

          Not being a Russian, I can’t vouch for that…just throwing it out there for people to debunk.

          The part about American genes leaving the homeland – yes, that was to lighten things up.

          1. Lexington

            That doesn’t really make any sense. A lot of Russians (and non Russian Soviets) died fighting the Nazis, but all things being equal “good” and “bad” men presumably died in the same proportion, leaving their relative postwar balance unchanged (I’m not even going to touch the question of what constitutes a “good” or “bad” man).

            That aside, was there ever a time when women didn’t lament the dearth of “good” men?

        2. HotFlash

          Well, yeah, but we Canucks still have (for instance) this *great* medical care system. You should be so lucky, if it is indeed luck.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What cities do you recommend for refugees from America?

            Mont real? Toronto?

            1. HotFlash

              I live in Parkdale (Toronto) and have not traveled widely. I mostly bike and even east of Yonge St seems like a long way to me. I do like Montreal, it has the liveliest music scene that I know of, and it seems to me that their academics aren’t so, um stolid. However, if you are looking for good value, don’t dismiss the ultraburbs (an hour or more drive/train commute) they are pretty cool in their way and *excellent* value. Former Steeltown Hamilton has very affordable housing and that is attracting an interesting mix of musicians, artists, retirees and such. Little Old towns such as Georgetown, Uxbridge and Owen Sound have charming downtowns, reasonable house prices and good road and train transit to working centres (not much in the line of Jawbs, alas, but fertile ground for SMEs, if you want to start a biz).

                1. Carla

                  Cape Breton Island has advertised that they will welcome American refugees. It’s gorgeous there — but no jobs.

    2. Carolinian

      Hitch was a rabid Clinton hater. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Later, after he sold his soul to DC, Hitchens would come to think that regime change was cool.

      1. MikeNY

        Yeah, the regime change cheerleader role was definitely NOT cool. Shameful. Or shameless. I can never decide which is worse.

      2. RP

        The last years of Hitch’s life were a sad devolution of west-is-best militarism and cultural imperialism.

        One wonders what he’d make of the Sanders phenomenon

  4. polecat

    RIPLEY: …”MOTHER??…….GODDAMN YOU!!!!!!”….


    1. polecat

      that pretty much encapsulates my general feeling of what will happen if things don’t turn around politically, in this country and abroad, and soon!

  5. James Levy

    Clinton didn’t make the decisions viz. Honduras–Obama did. The Secretary of State is a functionary. They are not the Fed Chair. They have no independent authority that is not delegated to them by the President. Clinton should be shamed for being actively complicit in the policy. Obama is responsible for it.

    1. nippersmom

      Both of them are utterly devoid of a moral compass. A truly revolutionary successor would have plenty of evidence to send both of them to The Hague; unfortunately,we know that will never happen.

      I got sucked in by the “lesser of two evils” argument in 2008. I’m glad to say I did not make that same mistake in 2012, and I’m certainly not going to this time, either. My vote may not keep evil from being elected, but at least the blood won’t be on my hands.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More ammunition for Hillary if we forget to mention the Buck-Stops-Here commander in chief, and only criticize Ms. Clinton.

      “It’s a world full of mean men beating up a little poor woman like me.”

      1. nippersmom

        This “mean” woman is perfectly willing to criticize the warmonger-in-chief as well. It is amazing to me how many people, even those who don’t support Clinton, are reluctant to call out Obama on his corporatist and imperialist policies.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Her own fault not resigning. She should face up to that, if she is now claiming she was just following orders.

          Still, the commander in chief should be included in the discussion.

          Credit where credit is due.

    3. Bas

      Oh, lordy, Hillary was the victim again. Tell that to Berta Caceres. Oh wait, you can’t.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If she doesn’t play that card, she is really unqualified as a candidate, let alone as the throne occupier.

        When you know her moves, you can begin to counter them.

      2. James Levy

        Not victim, willing accomplice, which is obvious from my above statement. The fact of the matter is that she didn’t make the call–Obama did–and she aided and abetted. Seeing Clinton as some kind of mastermind or power behind the throne is way too flattering to Clinton.

        1. Bas

          She has demonstrated a marked talent for ignoring Obama and others

          The most revealing messages were not between Clinton and her staff, but between her and a longtime confidant. The records revealed that Sidney Blumenthal, an aide to President Clinton who was barred by the Obama administration from working for the State Department, repeatedly sent Clinton unsolicited, detailed advice on Libya. She often forwarded it to key staff members. The email chains seemed to suggest that some experts at the State Department were asked to weigh in on Blumenthal’s advice without being told it had come from him.

          1. HotFlash

            Can anyone explain “The records revealed that Sidney Blumenthal, an aide to President Clinton who was barred by the Obama administration from working for the State Department, repeatedly sent Clinton unsolicited, detailed advice on Libya.” (emphasis mine)

            When I get that sort of shit, I delete it — I call it spam. . Does this woman not have a spam filter? or an IT staff? (oh wait…)

    4. EndOfTheWorld

      James Levy, that’s a simplistic analysis of the situation. Yes, the prez has the final say, but he listens to the other people. Unless you were an insider in the Obama cabinet you can’t really say what was going on.

      1. James Levy

        So now Obama is the Czar, innocent because of his evil advisors? The King can do no wrong–it’s all his minister’s fault.

        If Obama says “no”, it’s no. Hillary couldn’t do shit if he said “no.” Very simple. Your hatred of Clinton blinds you to the fact that Obama was in every way her boss. He was and is “the Decider”, as our last Yalie president liked to say. Bush doesn’t get off because he had Cheney whispering in his ear. He chose to listen. That makes him guilty. Same for Obama and Clinton.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      1) At the “functionary” level, Clinton has relative autonomy and exercised it. As the article says:

      the civilian aid arm of Hillary Clinton’s State Department spent over $26 million on a propaganda program aimed at encouraging anti-violence “alliances” between Honduran community groups and local police and security forces.

      The program, called “Honduras Convive,” was designed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to reduce violent crimes in a country that had simultaneously become the murder capital of the world and a staging ground for one of the largest deployments of US Special Operations forces outside of the Middle East.

      It was part of a larger US program to support the conservative government of Pepe Lobo, who came to power in 2009 after the Honduran military ousted the elected president, José Manuel Zelaya, in a coup that was widely condemned in Central America. In reality, critics say, the program was an attempt by the State Department to scrub the image of a country where security forces have a record of domestic repression that continues to the present day.

      2) On Libya, Obama was on the bubble and Clinton tipped him toward war. Not impossible she did the same here.

      3) If she didn’t support the policy she could have quietly resigned. Now she owns everything Obama did.

  6. Jim Haygood

    West Virginia Third State to Pass Automatic Voter Registration

    “One account — all of government” That’s exactly what I don’t want. :-)

    1. Bill Smith

      The article pretty much parrots the long standing Clinton line on this.

      Those readers here who have or have held security clearances might comment on the necessity of ‘classified’ information to be so marked in order to be classified.

      1. Bas

        Still, this

        Hillary-bashing is good clean political sport, but a federal criminal indictment is serious business, saved for serious crimes and hopefully based on serious evidence, which as of yet, has not materialized.

        I think nobody before had a server in their private home, that I know of. used private email, yes, but can’t compare this, plus corresponded with Blumenthal on State matters, after Blumenthal had been barred from State Dept by Obama. How these things are not crimes and serious is beyond my comprehension. And I thought it had been established that information from the State Dept was classified until it wasn’t. Top Secret, maybe not. Who wants someone as President who does even stupid things after she is told not to? I know from working in offices, and from hearing soldiers talk, that those people are a danger to those around them. I have worked with stupid people who brought businesses down which left me out of a job. She is enabling the stupid people on Wall Street and big banks and they are working hard to loot this country. She needs to get nailed on something and most us will be better off.

  7. Ranger Rick

    Games having an impact on culture is nothing new. Grand Theft Auto, Super Columbine Massacre RPG, Hatred — they are all participatory exercises in topics that people would never attempt in real life or even in hypothetical conversation. They allow an individual to come to their own conclusions in much the same way that other forms of media are celebrated for. On the flip side, however, video game criticism is in its infancy, and every step towards analytical discourse is met with howls of derision from the public at large, who still see games as just toys.

    1. Massinissa

      Um. Only the first of those three is actually popular.

      Not all games are like that, in fact most of them are not.

      The problem with alot of video game criticism is often they take a problem that occurs in a few games, and try to extrapolate that to the entire medium. Not entirely different from what you are doing now.

      There are problematic films and problematic books too . The difference is how common it is for people to claim that all games are like Grand Theft Auto.

    2. HotFlash

      I have a dear friend, 71 yrs old, female, who is an afficiada of RPG’s, which, nowadays, are so similar to the ‘twitch and burn” shooter games of 20-some years ago that it makes no nevermind.

      I often engage with her as to the *moral* training that these games provide — I say they teach young people to go for fast and violent ‘solutions’ , she says no, everyone understands they are just games. Me, I dunno. I was raised in the old Catholic tradition, she in the old Baptist, so I figure we got ‘morals’ knocked into us early and so for us, a game is just a game. But if games *are* your moral training, then what? I don’t see “moral” or “ethical” training offered in schools these days but I am far, far away from school-age kids — may be it’s happening all the time.

      In the RPG’s, seems more like kill ’em all, shoot anything that moves, diplomacy is not an option (ie, no diplomatic or de-escalating responses in the “click on one” list of things to say in any situation) and if you die, well, there is usually regeneration or reload previous game, that is to say, no real consequences.

      I don’t have hard evidence, but I can’t think this is a good thing. Would appreciate evidence that I am totally out to lunch on this!

      1. Massinissa

        Could you name the rpgs please?

        Are you talking about Elder Scrolls? If so I think youre exaggerating a bit.

        I just want to know which specific rpgs youre actually talking about.

        1. HotFlash

          Yes, Elderscrolls, also currently DragonAge I and II (I think — I kinda doze off, sorry). Morrowind, I think, as well. As I say, I don’t really pay all that much attn to the names of the games, but do I hear *lots* of detail (OMG, is it better to take Varik or Merrick into the Deep Roads, how many poltices to have first, pls, just kill me now…). Me, I rarely play games anymore — I read NC now instead :) — but as a person who has been seriously influenced by the fables I was told in my youth, I wonder about what the effect of these fables will be on young persons?

          1. Massinissa

            The games themselves don’t worry me too much, but if she has an addiction problem (you would know that better than me: since you say she doesn’t talk about much else im voicing the possibility), that can be a real problem for some people. Even if its not as physically damaging as certain other addictions, it can be a real problem.

            Though its probably just a hobby. Most people who play video games don’t have problems, but there are people who do have real addiction to video games. Though, im not even certain its as addicting as Social Media at this point, I know tons of people who spend obsessive amounts of time on that stuff…

            1. HotFlash

              She is 71 years old and a shut-in due to health problems. Where she lives the Internet is not available, the games she plays are ones that run on her computer set-up and which don’t require an Internet connection. What do you think she should do with her time? Take up skateboading? Oh, she has balance problems and serious osteoporosis, so that’s probably out.

              I am not talking about *her*, but she is what I know these days about games, and gamers, which does not impress me much as to their use as moral lessons. If you have another view, please enlighten me. Badgering me about a 71 year old woman’s taste in pastimes is not really germaine to the question, which was, if you will recall, “Games having an impact on culture”.

      2. local to oakland

        This is a real concern, but may be dated. Bioware’s Mass Effect series makes a real effort to engage the moral questions inherent to being in military service and gives wide scope to explore alternative choices. This War of Mine has you play as a civilian in a war zone, and forces you to choose how to try to survive. The game explores the moral questions by imposing morale costs re unethical behavior. Brutal players risk there character’s depression, even suicide, and can lose the game that way. Papers Please puts the player in a tough spot as a beauracrat paid piece work rates and explores incentives re bribery etc. There is a new game out that explores the experience of the cancer patient in the medical system.

        Re the violence, video games evolved with tremendous influence from table top wargames. The same people who played dungeons and dragons now play Dragon Age or Skyrim. The violence is the genre but it predated the computer or console. Civilization built on Risk. Even chess and go are war games.

        1. Massinissa

          I sort of feel like most of the people here havnt read much about video games since the mid 2000s, to be honest.

        2. tony

          Having played Mass Effect, every solution still ends in violence, acted on your terms and schedule. The overarching narrative is one of individual powerful heroism used to dominate others, with no accountability.

          1. Lexington

            Mass Effect is barely an RPG – rather it’s the final stage in Bioware’s long, tragic devolution from the maker of arguably the greatest RPG of all time, Baldur’s Gate 2, to the maker of dumbed down, generic FPS games with vestigial RPG elements aimed at the broadest possible audience.

            For further examples of this trend please refer to Fallout 4.

      3. reslez

        I’m amazed that you take issue with games that attempt actual storytelling, like those from BioWare and Bethesda, and ignore the far more popular, brainless mayhem and serial murder spree genre of games like CSGO and Call of Duty. Not only are their online communities literally racist and sexist, but the games themselves are full of pro-war propaganda, in some cases literally pro-torture. I suppose it’s because your friend doesn’t play those games, so you’re not as familiar with them. In games like Dragon Age at least there’s an attempt at writing, at presenting moral choices to the player. They may not be the most complex choices but in some cases I have literally had to get up from my computer and walk around the room while I decided which action to choose.

      4. tony

        As someone who played a lot of computer games as a kid I think you are right. The best argument would probably be something akin what Zizek says about the dominant narrative. But even more than what you say, there is the fact that in most games the opponent does not act, but is acted upon. Similarly, every encounter is a separate one. In real life people act and react, and you can’t use the same formulated responses. What happens also is affected by your past actions.

        A lot of people don’t see it. So you get “Use this one trick to get laid with super hot girls” kind of thinking and so on.

      5. Lexington

        As an aficionado of RPGs (both the computer and pencil & paper variety) I feel I need to clarify some misconceptions.

        First of all a computer RPG (CRPG) is not a first person shooter (FPS). In an FPS you generally do just run around and kill everything that moves. That’s the way a lot of people -especially young men- like their computer entertainment. However a good RPG (admittedly a rather rare breed) has a definite story arc in which the player’s decisions and actions have a material impact on how the story is resolved. Second, while most CRPGs do involve a lot of combat -and for many players mastering elaborate combat systems is part of the genre’s appeal- the combat isn’t indiscriminate. Generally the player confronts malevolent antagonists (in fantasy RPGs like the Baldur’s Gate and Elder Scrolls series often stereotypically “evil” ones) and the story revolves around the player’s efforts to defeat or usurp them. Today it is generally expected that a well rounded CRPG will support the option to play either a “good” or “evil” protagonist, but that doesn’t mean the choice is consequence free. In Baldur’s Gate 2 for example the player’s “good” companions will protest evil actions and eventually abandon the player if they persist in them (and vice versa for evil companions). Many CRPGs incorporate some form of “reputation” or “karma” system that is intended to reflect, however imperfectly, the player’s integrity (or lack thereof) as revealed by their actions and influence how non player characters (NPCs) react to them. Having options other than combat in many circumstances (such as using stealth or persuasion) is generally regarded as an essential element of a quality CRPG. Apparently it’s even possible to complete Pillars of Eternity without killing anything -which fans regard as high praise indeed (I haven’t tried it). I should also mention that the main appeal for most players of completing a game without any killing is the elevated nature of the challenge and associated bragging rights rather than any moral qualms.Though I have it on good authority that the pixelated people and creatures don’t suffer ;)

        I should also point out that it is perfectly feasible to make an excellent CRPG that doesn’t involve any violence by the player at all – I would single out Life Is Strange by French developer Dontnod as a superlative example. Without combat to hold the player’s attention the game really needs to shoot the moon in other areas to be successful though, which can be a huge challenge from the developer’s standpoint. Life Is Strange achieves this by combining an extremely compelling protagonist with a first rate story, but even I’m skeptical that Dontnod can pull that particular rabbit out of the hat twice in a row (though I’d be more than delighted to be proved wrong).

        I’m not a fan of FPSes myself but know a number of people who are and they all *seem* to be relatively normal and well adjusted. I’ve concluded that playing violent video games in itself doesn’t actually make people more violent. What perhaps should be of much greater concern is the degree to which teenagers and young men are dependent on these games for the stimulation and sense of achievement that is so obviously lacking in other aspects of their lives (again, as this is mainly an affliction of the Y chromosome burdened no one cares). You only need to spend a little time on gaming forums to see how many players viciously belittle and mock those they perceive as less “skilled” or “accomplished” because their achievements as gamers is the only thing they have to hold on to.

        Now the issue of ethical training is far too broad for me to squeeze into this already overlong post, so I will limit myself to saying this: peoples’ ethics determine their approach to the game, not the other other way around. Years ago (I think it was during the very drawn out development of Dragon Age) there was a protracted discussion on the Bioware forums about how good and evil choices should be reflected in a CRPG. Long story short a vocal subgroup of players -and I feel very confident in saying they were almost all guys- were dissatisfied that BG 2 didn’t have a fully realized “evil” story arc for the player and had plenty of suggestions on how to remedy this. I thought it was particularly interesting that many of them actually said players should be PUNISHED for choosing “good” options because life isn’t fair, actions often have unpredictable consequences, the road to hell is paved with good intentions (a sentiment Bioware lead writer David Gaider publicly endorsed), etc. etc. (insert your own favorite vapid platitude here). These people were obviously committed to a worldview in which morality was at best highly subjective and contingent, and they were in effect demanding that the game reflect their quasi-nihilistic beliefs about how the world supposedly worked (I don’t doubt that many have since morphed into avid fans of Game of Thrones – in fact now that I think about it some of them explicitly referenced George R. R. Martin’s novels as an example of the kind of game world they wanted). These people didn’t acquire their amoral beliefs by playing video games -in this case the game hadn’t even been developed yet- they already had those beliefs and wanted to play games that mirrored them back to them.

    3. Massinissa

      Anyway, about Hatred and Super Columbine Massacre Rpg!, those were the kind of things people make in order to get attention by having the media slam on them. There have been similar films and books that exploit negative publicity in order to attract a following. Hell, in politics Donald Trump is doing something similar right now. Its hardly something specific to video games, and its not even particularly widespread. You wont be able to come up with many more titles than the ones you just listed. Well, there are similar indie games that I can think of but they havnt achieved media attention and dont have significant player bases.

      1. Darthbobber

        Remember Postal? From Running With Scissors Software? It just took everything anybody could possibly be outraged about, and rolled it into one silly package.

    4. hunkerdown

      Not so participatory when the game decides the goal. In fact, no few game producers in the 1990s saw the potential in their medium to encourage kids toward “pro-social” behavior, the same rot that drove the cartoon industry (*ahem*Saban*ahem*) toward those little one-minute instructional epilogues at the end of each show. (Heaven knows how riven mainstream political culture is with this very nonsense!)

      It has been observed that Soviet attempts at video games didn’t have leaderboards. The business itself being highly competitive, Western video game culture, according to Conway’s Law, has and probably always will support competition and conquest against “peers” as a tacit premise. This, to me, is a Problem.

      1. Massinissa

        “Western video game culture, according to Conway’s Law, has and probably always will support competition and conquest against “peers” as a tacit premise”

        You mean like Sports in general? Like almost all of them? There are more competitive sports than non competitive ones.

      2. Massinissa

        “The business itself being highly competitive, Western video game culture, according to Conway’s Law, has and probably always will support competition and conquest against “peers” as a tacit premise. ”

        Wait, you mean like sports in general? There are more competitive sports than noncompetitive ones. Are there entirely noncompetitive sports, even?

        Anyway, team sports, including Esports like League of Legends do have some teamwork (LoL is basically sort of like Basketball, with teams of 5, and two goal like objects on either end of the map, with the five players on each team working together to beat the other team. LoL is the biggest game on the growing Esports scene right now, with most of its competition being copycats. Its certainly better than 10 years ago, when ‘Esports’ mostly just meant First Person Shooter free-for-alls).

        So, to be totally honest, I don’t see the competition in either sports or video games to really be that much of a problem, if I may be honest.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Yes, economic, social and military competition (all sold as “Competitiveness”) tend to worry me a bit more.
          Video games and sports sail over my dyspraxic head, but I totally share your annoyance at the sweeping moral commentaries, having boiled with rage often enough when the anathemas are turned against the “anti-social” art forms I do care about, eg punk rock, grime (if that’s a mystery to anyone, try to imagine the future of hip hop, dancehall reggae and modernist poetry — except it doesn’t sound like any of those — invented on no budget by teenagers in London council estates) and Brutalist architecture.

      3. JTMcPhee

        Interesting that a few of us leap to the defense of kill training from all those games that are the culture of a what, $15 billion ” industry?” Almost redolent of the reactions of gun lovers to any kind of critique of their “preferences” and “rights…”

        1. Massinissa

          “Kill training” is sort of hyperbole. They don’t teach you how to use real guns, and they dont even make you any better at killing people in real life, or more likely to do so. Studies have shown that people who kill people ‘because of video games’ had violent tendencies before playing the games in the first place.

          Also, First Person Shooters are no longer the largest genre of video games. Edit: My bad, its still #2, after MOBAs like League of Legends. But there are tons of other genres still, to think that all video games are ‘kill training when Shooters are only like 10-15% of the market is a fallacy.

            1. Massinissa

              Yet instead of countering ANY of my points, you run away and be smug.

              First person shooters are a minority of the video game industry, albeit an important one. If you have problems with ‘kill training’ you should have a problem with First Person Shooters, and not the entire damn medium.

              Its at least arguable that First Person Shooters are ‘kill training’, though I disagree even with that assessment. I fail to see how any of the other genres contain anything of the sort.

              1. HotFlash

                Sorry, I was hoping for a discussion, instead I am seeing a war. Gosh, just like a video game? No, I haven’t done a lot of reading, video games bore me silly, but thanks (in advance) for any current info.

  8. diptherio

    Thanks for posting the GEO article, Lambert! Here’s another one that I think many will find interesting (and encouraging). A recycling center non-profit in Austin was taken over by its staff, who fired the manager and converted it to a worker co-op. Then they proceeded to open a thrift store and use the proceeds from their businesses to benefit groups like Food Not Bombs and the Inside Books Project. Pretty much the definition of badass, if you ask me:


    And I may have already posted this, but this short film on the Arizmendi bakeries in the San Fran Bay area is also really good. Both of these videos provide radical critiques of capitalism that are being acted out, successfully, as we speak.


  9. Qrys

    “Sanders gaining on Clinton in California poll” [Sacramento Bee].

    Not at all surprising.

    Recall that Bernie held his first (surprise) rally in L.A. back in August 10, 2015 (with yuuge numbers, only overshadowed by the then record rally in Portland, Oregon earlier that same day.)

    Here in L.A., bumper stickers are still very much an effective political telegraph, so Bernie has in effect been “campaigning” here since before then (June-July?).

    Hillary by contrast has had no ground game at all – I guess, presuming she’d have it wrapped up long before now?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Maybe you have to drive by the Clooney compound to see the Hillary yard signs. :-)

      1. Carolinian

        Also in front of Spielberg’s little hut. Streisand has a whole Vote for Hillary yard display complete with papier-mache floats.

  10. JustAnObserver

    Re: Hillary on the NYC subway.

    Could we, following cherished NY conventions, now give her the nickname. Hillary “Five Swipes” rolls nicely off the tongue.

    1. nippersdad

      That sounds so much nicer than her previous nickname: HillaryWipes (as with a cloth).

      So, the story now is that it is illegal to campaign on the subway. It would appear that she is taking lessons from her Husband, of campaigning in front of polling stations fame.

  11. allan

    Borrowing Directly From the Wealthy Can Be a Lifeline for Some

    … What saved both men was a relatively new twist on peer-to-peer lending — borrowing from affluent individuals who are putting up their own money.

    But that money came at high interest rates. Mr. Blosser borrowed $250,000 at nearly 20 percent, while Mr. Gargiulo paid almost 15 percent on $2.9 million.

    In an era when money is cheap — the rate on a Small Business Administration loan is under 4 percent — these entrepreneurs said they had little choice. They could receive no money from a bank or accept high-interest money from individuals. …

    Most of the loans made by wealthy individuals are to small businesses, particularly to companies younger than two years. “There are so many healthy businesses that can’t get loans but are a year old,” said Mr. Sinensky of Assure Funding.

    Keep pushing on that string, Chairman Yellen.

  12. local to oakland

    Re video games, one obvious point is that they are an outlet for the unemployed. I have read that movies got people through the great depression. Video games provide many hours of entertainment per dollar spent. Older ones cost almost nothing.

    Also they are mental exercise.
    A relative of mine who programs commented re a job interview with one of the companies making brain exercise, educational software for seniors, that video games are more effective and more fun.

    1. Massinissa

      Well, since I was defending Video Games up above, for balance sake, Video Game addiction IS a thing, and it is a problem. Nobody ever got addicted to movies.

      Still, its not as addictive as actual addictive substances, and *most* people don’t have problems with it.

      Still though, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a problem. Just trying to be balanced here. Like anything else, video games can be good, but can also be bad, depending on how theyre used.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Of course the US military has used first person shooter games as the face of their recruiting sites and a successful approach it has been, apparently– given the hundreds of millions our war leaders have diverted to the program.

        1. TomD

          Do you have any reason to believe there is a correlation between what is successful and what the military spends money on?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Clearly depends on how one defines success. As a disaffected disabled Vietnam vet I need no persuading that there’s fraud corruption and waste galore. Can’t find the link right now but the Pentagram flacks were bragging up the efforts with some numbers to back it up.

            My general attitude anyway is that the human race is filled, with more than enough death wish suicidal homicidal predilections and behaviors baked in to ensure Gaia will soo be rid of most of us. And no, I am not much fun at parties, so I don’t go.

        2. Massinissa

          To be fair, the US military also influences other media, especially modern films, some modern films being almost entirely military propaganda. Video gaming is hardly alone, and if anything, the influence of the military is less pervasive in video games than in film, though certainly present. Im not disputing that point.

          1. Massinissa

            Anyway, of all the genres of video games, the military puts all its money into First Person shooters. It should say more about Shooters than about Video games as a whole. Anyway, shooters are no longer the most popular genre.

            Would be amused if the military tried to build a MOBA.

  13. dcblogger

    Bernie Sanders used to have a section on cooperatives on his campaign site. I assume it was taken down for lack of interest. But the Wayback Machine has it.

    We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.

      1. nippersdad

        Probably strategic. One look at most main stream comments sections, much less the right wing ones, will tell you that a lot of people still easily conflate Democratic Socialism with Marxism/Soviet Socialism, etc., etc. Looking forward to the general, they prolly don’t want to provide the ammunition that explicit discussion of worker coops might provide for those who are still giggling over his trips to the Soviet Union and Cuba.

        Just my $.02.

  14. HotFlash

    The prompt should be: “Alexa, please…”

    You know, I have the same response when, say, Amy Goodman or one of the RealNews people say, “Talk about…”. A “could you please” only takes up the same time as three “um”s and less than one “absolutely”.

  15. Kim Kaufman

    “Sanders cleaned up the mess.” The pattern was: 1) Clinton telegraphed her punch; 2) punched; 3) Sanders counter-punched; 4) political class clutched their pearls and headed for the fainting couch; 5) Sanders backtracked. Once is an outlier…”

    I agree with Sargent. Bernie counter-punched, then I think the meaning of what he said: “she’s much more qualified than those two Republican bozos… Can we move on now to something more important” [shrug}? I thought it was great. I didn’t read or listen to the original so I don’t know what he actually said – but his comment is still out there and so is hers (“I don’t know if Bernie (Obama) isn’t a Democrat (Muslim”)) and they can all move on. I think she still looks bad and he looks like he took the high road.

    Devine playing nice: Bernie will support Hillary. Well, that’s annoying but perhaps he’s taking high road so he won’t get trashed for “tearing the party apart” kinda crap. He’s still seeming much more presidential and less petty and nasty than she. We’ll see…

  16. Kim Kaufman

    Michelle Alexander on Clinton/BLM dustup:


    Bill Clinton says that he “almost” wants to apologize for his remarkable episode yesterday — you know, when he embraced long-debunked, racially coded “super-predator” rhetoric, compared Black Lives Matter protestors to Republicans and insisted that they support murderers, and blamed his crime bill on black politicians. Personally, I am not demanding an apology from Bill Clinton. Instead, I would like to say thank you. Thank you, Bill, for giving the nation a ten-minute tutorial on everything that was wrong (and apparently remains wrong) with the “New Democrats” and their approach to racial politics.

    Unfortunately much of the mainstream media seems to be buying (yet again) much of what Bill was selling yesterday. So to recap what should be obvious by now: Black politicians and activists were not asking for “get tough” measures and nothing else back in the 1990s. Some black politicians opposed the Clinton crime bill, and those who supported it weren’t seeking punishment and nothing more; they desperately wanted massive investment in jobs and schools so the young people trapped in communities where work had suddenly disappeared would have some hope of survival. It is a gross distortion to suggest that black people wanted billions of dollars slashed from child welfare, housing and other public benefits in order to fund an unprecedented prison building boom. It was Bill Clinton’s deliberate political strategy — one he championed along with the “New Democrats” — to appeal to white swing voters by being tougher on struggling black communities than the Republicans had been, ramping up the drug war and gutting welfare. That strategy of “getting tough” while at the same time eviscerating the federal social safety net was NOT supported by many of the black politicians he seeks to use as cover. Rep. John Lewis (who Clinton referred to yesterday as the “last remaining hero of the civil rights movement”) fiercely opposed welfare reform, accurately predicting that it would thrust more than a million more kids into severe poverty.

    John Lewis said back then: “How can any person of faith, of conscience, vote for a bill that puts a million more kids into poverty? What does it profit a great nation to conquer the world, only to lose its soul?”
    The young people challenging Bill Clinton yesterday were asking these very same questions. You may not agree with their tactics, but they were, in their own way, fighting for the soul of the Democratic party and American democracy itself. Whether our nation can be redeemed in the long run remains to be seen.

    1. Bas

      I really love Michelle Alexander.

      And these two people are a hot mess:

      Rep. John Lewis (who Clinton referred to yesterday as the “last remaining hero of the civil rights movement”) fiercely opposed welfare reform, accurately predicting that it would thrust more than a million more kids into severe poverty.

      1. Beth

        I know people John Lewis’s age are dying but he is not the last remaining hero of the civil rights movement. What was her point of saying this? The wording sounds portentous but is meaningless. Clinton effectively uses words for their feeling/emotions, but increasingly her words are vacuous. Can her supporters hear this?

        What worries me is that in the past I have taken this way of speaking as the best we can get. I have been at fault voting for the best available, which was no choice at all.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many politicians, white and even some black, voted for the 1994 Clinton crime bill.

      They will try to defend their votes, naturally.

      Until this primary season, many of us have been silent about it…except the victims and their families.

    3. armchair

      Last spring, Bernie Sanders had a rally in Seattle. During the rally Black Lives Matter activists took to the stage and didn’t give up the microphone. Bernie let it go. My impression was that a lot of people were grumpy about it, at the time. However, it was a perfect example of letting activists have a voice and be heard. It may not be the message that every supporter was prepared to hear, but it is a message we all need to hear until things change for the better.

      The thing that galls me about Clinton is how committed he is to his accomplishments when anyone working or volunteering for vulnerable populations knows the 90’s were a disaster for vulnerable populations and that Clinton negotiated away people’s well being to get re-elected. He is out-of-touch.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      That is really cool and mind bending, thanks. Enough of those sites still exist that one can easily place the scenes depicted into one’s own mental map of modern Rome. I’m in Italy this month (where it’s currently 1 AM and I should be asleep) but I hadn’t planned on going to Rome. It’s been a few years and I really should.

      1. optimader

        I sent this to a couple friends that grew up and reside there near Via Torolina. Thought too, that it was mind bending due to the reference of existing structures. They joke this is why they could never put a subway in Rome, they’d keep hitting archeological finds and never finish it. Some real truth to that.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          There of course is a Rome metro, though it doesn’t have many lines or stops. I’ll bet that happened when it was built.

  17. fresno dan

    So I’m watching Charlie Rose (I’m watching Bloomberg, but I guess this is a CBS morning show interview???) – I could only stomach 15 minutes. And Charlie is supposedly the wise, the sober, the decorous, the “serious” people’s media interlocutor….. SERIOUSLY, Charlie SHEEN would have done a more significant, informed, relevant interview with more insight…
    Anyway, ALL Rose can talk about is how the “tone” has changed, and will Bernie stop beating his wife…er, I mean Hillary? And why oh why can’t Bernie admit how qualified Hillary is???
    No deflection by Bernie to employment, health insurance, inequality…ISSUES, could deflect dear Charlie from bewailing the state of our “attack” politics ….s Gila monster could not stand clamped on something as tenaciously as Charlie kept on how Bernie!!!! has gone negative!!!!!!!

    I almost had a stroke, and I really can’t afford to buy a new TV should I put my foot through it.
    And the media wonders why no one buys newspapers or watches TV news….

    and I’m saying this as somebody who does not view Bernie as an angel from heaven. Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, Pravda was a better truth teller than the US mass media. Admit it Sarah Palin critics – she was absolutely right on the media!

    1. Vatch

      SERIOUSLY, Charlie SHEEN would have done a more significant, informed, relevant interview with more insight…

      For a while, John McEnroe, the grumpy tennis player, had a talk show. I don’t know whether he ever featured “serious” interviewees, or if he focused on entertainers, like so many other talk show hosts. That’s all — I just fell into a bit of free association, nothing more.

    2. JohnMinMN

      I’m with you, fresno. Frustrating as hell! I wish Bernie had said something like, “As far as whether or not she’s qualified, I would say that she’s got the resume, so in that sense she’s qualified…” and then leave it at that. Or, maybe add that her actual performance in her duties disqualifies her for the office at this time, or something to that effect.

      1. fresno dan

        Its one of these semantic loops that the media gets into that is just absurd. The insinuation that Hillary is not qualified because she is a woman. The endless yammering about the word. She is not qualified because of the poor, corrupt, and idiotic decisions she has made. But some how the word ‘qualified” morphs into having one very singular meaning, and anyone who used it against Hillary is a sexist. ARRRGGGGGHHHHHHH redux!!!!!!
        Of course, Bernie falls into the trap – and I would say, part of this is his own damn fault – he shouldn’t have been so “nice” at the beginning. The emails need not have been emphasized, but they should not have been taken off the table. He should have simply said there is a process, and that he also is concerned about the equal and impartial administration of justice. That would have launched a thousand media ships….

        What he should say:
        The problem isn’t whether she is “qualified” – the problem is the policies she believes in and the decisions she has made. Whether it is “free trade” or endless war in the mid east (e.g., Iraq AND Libya) or bailing out banks and not prosecuting corruption, of failing to propose REAL policies to stop and reverse the ongoing inequality – these are the reasons she should not be president.
        (of course that disqualifies her – but let’s not use the word as it is “bad”)

  18. DJG

    On cutting down olive trees (which may be the very definition of sin):
    “This insight suggests that growers or officials in Puglia could contain the disease by extensive pruning, rather than simply clear-cutting all trees in the vicinity of infected ones, which Italy insisted on after being pressured by the E.U., which was looking on warily. Local farmers have argued all along that pruning the trees could stop the disease, a practice that has fended off other scourges in centuries past.”
    From the sources I have read, olive trees are almost unique in being able to take severe pruning and bounce back, better than ever. So many Italian recipes and Italian stories talk about cooking and heating with fires made in the hearth of olive cuttings. Also, people who work with olive trees talk about their individual personalities. The Italian bureaucrats know these facts, too, but the endless desire to appear to be “European” is also at play here. Sheesh. The trees could have been saved with pruning, trees that live to astounding ages with not all that much care.

    1. meeps

      DJG @ 7:53 pm

      Local farmers had the insight that pruning versus clear-cutting could have saved trees and there is wisdom in what the people in the region have been doing for ages. The observation, however, that the agricultural practice of monoculture is part of the problem was absent from this discussion. One obvious solution would be to marry the wisdom of pruning and netting with the wisdom of natural systems, polyculture, to increase diversity and resilience. It is shameful, indeed, whenever humans impose an anthropomorphic idea of ‘order’ on nature that results in harm.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      So the sovereign state of Italy had to do what the super non-sovereign unelected state of “EU” told them to do?
      (where is Nigel Farage when you need him).

  19. Jim Haygood

    What’s the frequency, Guccifer?

    The extradition of Romanian hacker “Guccifer” to the U.S. at a critical point in the FBI’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email use is “not a coincidence,” according to an intelligence source close to the case.

    One of the notches on Guccifer’s cyber-crime belt was allegedly accessing the email account of Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal.

    Former law enforcement and cyber security experts said the hacker, whose real name is Marcel Lehel Lazar, could help the FBI make the case that Clinton’s email server was compromised by a third party,

    On Tuesday, Lazar appeared in an Alexandria, Va., federal courtroom for his detention hearing. Romanian media have reported the [extradition] request came on or about Dec. 29, 2015. That would have been shortly after the intelligence community’s identification of emails beyond “top secret” on Clinton’s personal server, which became public in mid-January.

    Hackers typically are extradited in the event of major financial theft, such as a 2013 case where three Romanian men stole in excess of $2 million in a cyber-fraud ring – and not in cases involving a breach of personal privacy.


    Most likely, Guccifer’s testimony is needed to nail Sid Blumenthal.

    How Blumenthal is still at large after getting unauthorized access to Special Access Program intel is inexplicable.

    1. MtnLife

      At first I was surprised by the low tech, PW guessing hack but then I saw this

      ” Blumenthal, who appears to be identified as “Victim 5 … a journalist and former presidential advisor who was the true owner of an AOL account with subaccounts known to the grand jury.””

      AOL? The home of the technologically illiterate? I bet that hack took all of 5 min. I’m surprised it wasn’t: password.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Or ‘welcome’, the default in some academic databases (don’t ask how I know).

        There isn’t enough popcorn on the planet to do justice to this sordid drama.

        Hillucifer / Krugthulhu 2016!

  20. TedWa

    CNN mentioned that Sanders is going to the Vatican in passing, as if he weren’t requested to visit the Pope and give a speech – like, Bernie’s taking a vacation – no big deal. Awful reporting. CNN is now just as bad as MSNBC in shilling for Hellery.

    Think of contributing to Sanders campaign, I can’t seem to stop myself hahaha. I need some help – thanks.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The MSM’s not that quick on their feet.

      By next week they’ll morph it into “Sanders Flees New York As Campaign Collapses”

    2. Vatch

      I may be a little confused about what kind of help you need. Try berniesanders dot com. That should help you! If you wanted someone to restrain you from giving away your money, I’m afraid I can’t figure out how to do that for you! :-)

  21. JTMcPhee

    Hey, I wonder if General Mattis will end up being the general that General Smedley Butler declined to be back in the FDR days, when the Great Business Leaders sought to accomplish a coup, get rid of FDR and bring the fascism they so generously supported in Europe back to the home front. Look up the Business Plot in wiki if the reference is obscure. Wiki of course says “alleged” plot, though the evidence is convincing.

    On the other hand, who cares enough to rip the reins and levers of power from the hands of Our Betters? Or even knows how, any more?

  22. Cry Shop

    …. Internet heavyweights such as Facebook and Google are unlikely to embrace similar encryption systems, which would prevent harvesting user information for advertising purposes”

    Google already encrypts emails between google gmail.com users, and with some non-gmail users who’s services comply to the same standard.

    That said, Google, Fecesbook (and Microsoft) have in the past coughed up communications records of off-shore dissidents to China, Saudi Arabia, and other despots, so if WhatsApp (owned by Fecesbook) and Gmail encrypt their messages, it may be a ploy to keep users relaxed and off-guard, so that their communications can be bartered for a higher price (like market access ala Fecebook and China).

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