2:00PM Water Cooler 5/23/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The International Trade Commission (ITC) just released its 792-page monster of a report on the “likely impact” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the US economy. The findings are largely positive on net but tiny, which confirms two of my priors. First, I see no rational way your support or opposition to the TPP can be informed by these findings, and second, trade agreements, as opposed to trade, have little to do with US growth and jobs” [Jared Bernstein].



“Hillary Clinton’s campaign just released the worst Venn diagram of all time” [Vox]. We discussed another Clinton diagramming debacle at length here. Strange that such a wonky campaign can’t get such basic blocking and tackling done right.


“Sanders outraised Clinton in April after all” [Politico]. Shocking the press got this wrong, I know.

Nevada Debacle

“Nurses on Nevada: Where’s the Outrage Over Widespread Irregularities That Occurred During the Caucuses in February” [Common Dreams]. From National Nurses United, with lots of good detail of how casino management gamed the vote.

Our Famously Free Press

“Barrier Breakers 2016: A Project of Correct The Record” [Correct the Record]. This is the page that explains David Brock’s #MIllionDollarTrolls.

“Lessons of the Bruenig Bailout” [@Billmon, Storify].

“Dennis J Bernstein and Greg Palast: Media Fabricates Sanders Riot, Buries the Real Story” [Reader Supported News].

The Voters

“He’s Not Moving A Party to the Left” [Occupy]. Bringing forward the critical topic:

Compositionally, these radicalized Sanders supporters are a very diverse group. In many contests, especially open ones, Sanders has split or won the female vote. In fact, although the mainstream media would never make mention of this, Bernie’s strongest support seems to come from young women. In Iowa, for example, 84 percent of women under 30 voted for Sanders. In terms of racial diversity, he remains the favored candidate among Native, Arab and Asian Americans. Nationally, some polls indicate he splits the support of Latin@ voters with Hillary. He won Hawaii, the most diverse state in the country, by a landslide.

The major exception, of course, is older African Americans, and especially older black women. Even if Sanders is favored by many blacks, especially black youth, he consistently wins far fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. The reasons are very complex, and I can only indicate a few elements of an answer here: the destruction of autonomous radical black organizations since the 1970s, the subsequent absorption of blacks into the Democratic Party, the rise of a black bourgeoisie whose quarrel is not with the system but with access to the system, the close connection between the black leadership class and the Democratic Party, the role of the black church, the legacy of Bill Clinton and the power of the Clinton brand, high abstention rates among poor blacks, the fact that in some places one out of four black men are disenfranchised, and the justified fear of racist terror, especially in the South, which led many to vote for the most “electable” candidate.

Another factor might be lack of exposure, or more precisely, differential access to information. A 2014 study found that only 45 percent of senior blacks are internet users and just 30 percent have broadband at home, significantly less than whites with a similar demographic profile. In failing to win the support of many African Americans, especially black workers, the Sanders campaign has highlighted probably the greatest strategic question for all radicals today: determining the political class composition of African Americans at a time when the first black president prepares to leave office.

“Demonizing, Not Engaging” [Matt Bruenig].

Recent discussions about the white working class and racism (me, DeBoer, Mystal, et al) have me flashing back to the fascinating world of 2008 LGBT politics. In that year, the majority of Black voters came out and voted in favor of proposition 8, a successful referendum that sought to eliminate same-sex marriages in California. Needless to say, this put LGBT writers and activists in a tough spot: do you take out your frustrations and demonize Black people as anti-gay bigots fighting against equality or do you blame yourself for failing to adequately engage Black people on the issue?

“Debunking Hillary’s Specious “Winning the Popular Vote” Claim” [HuffPo]. Missed this one. The claim ignores the popular vote in caucus states that Sanders won.

The Trail

“What we are seeing, however, is that it’s no longer taboo in liberal circles to attack Sanders as he drags out the nomination process at a time when many are itching to turn their fire on Donald Trump” [Politico]. Dear Lord. Smearing all Sanders supporters as (white, male) #BernieBros isn’t an attack. OK. More subtly, the headline “Bernie Loses His Halo” implies that Sanders supporters think he’s some sort of a saint (as opposed to supporting him based on issues).

“To win the 270 votes needed to claim victory in the electoral college, Trump will have to keep every single state won by Romney — including Arizona and Georgia — and find 64 more electoral votes somewhere” [The Hill]. “The question is where? If Trump holds all the Romney states and carries Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida, he still loses…. Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg all predict a big Clinton victory. For example, Sabato projects Clinton to win 347 electoral votes to Trump’s 191.”

“In one of the last actions at the daylong Democratic State Convention Sunday, delegates voted to endorse home-state Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president. There was no debate and virtually no dissent” [Seven Days]. “In an almost unanimous voice vote with no public debate, they passed a resolution that calls on the party to ditch the superdelegate status for the next presidential election in 2020.”

[T]the resolution asks the state’s superdelegates to voluntarily follow the will of Vermont Democratic voters and cast their ballots at the national convention for Sanders. Four of Vermont’s 10 superdelegates — Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), former governor Howard Dean and Democratic national committeewoman Billi Gosh — are supporting Clinton.

None of them were at Sunday’s convention.

Nice to see elites keeping in touch,

“The 2020 Primary Has Started” [Real Clear Politics]. “Elites in both parties have kicked off the next primary process by looking at, and in some cases attempting to revise, rules for the 2020 nominating contest.”

Both Republicans and Democrats face questions regarding how much power party insiders should wield.

On the Democratic side, these questions revolve around superdelegates who are able to support any candidate at the convention, regardless of their home state’s primary result.

No, they don’t. On the Democrat side, the questions “revolve” around voter suppression, election fraud, delegate manipulation by insiders, and the elimination of caucuses. That super-delegates should be abolished is admitted by all but the corrupt and sclerotic nomenklatura (that is, the superdelegates themselves).

Stats Watch

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, May 2016: “Markit’s U.S. manufacturing sample has come to a near standstill, posting a flash May index of 50.5 that is only barely above breakeven 50 and the lowest reading of the economic cycle” [Econoday]. “Today’s report follows weakness in last week’s Empire State and Philly Fed reports which are all pointing to continuing softness for a factory sector that has yet to get an export boost from this year’s depreciation in the dollar nor a boost in energy investment in line with the bounce back in oil prices.”

Housing: “Inventory is incredibly tight. You want to buy? Good luck with what is out there. This is why large metro areas from Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and New York are all seeing similar trends. Prices are rising on normal sales volume thanks to tight inventory. Over the last few years, a large part of the buying went to investors. Now with sky high prices and investors pulling back, you are seeing people stretch into homes with no down payments or very little down – all to get a piece of the crap shack dream” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “Investors, those that bought up the inventory are doing well on the rental side of the equation… You can have your crap shack but the bank is going to own your life. And what about that next recession? Of course human psychology being what it is, an open house smelling like a rescue pound has people trying to buy without seeing what is directly in front of them. People drank the Kool-Aid again. Those of us who have lived through previous bubbles recognize the chorus but on a different soundtrack.”

Housing: “A new study seems to come out daily chronicling the absurd surge in home prices in some of America’s hottest real-estate markets” [MarketWatch]. “Trulia’s Ralph McLaughlin put together a series of animated graphics to show what he describes as the “million dollar creep” of high-priced homes in the country’s biggest metro areas.” Yep. There’s a lot of million dollar creeps out there, for sure.

Employment Situation: “The main source of unemployment statistics counts workers as unemployed based on their job status one week of the month. But as a notion of monthly unemployment, we also might reasonably ask whether the worker was unemployed for the whole month” [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “About seven in 10 workers unemployed in the CPS week were also unemployed the rest of the month. If we assume that all workers find jobs at the same weekly rate, then this level actually seems about correct, as we would expect about three-fourths of workers unemployed in the second week of the month to find a job before it ends.”

Employment Situation: “Hiring by staffing agencies has ground to a halt so far in 2016, a worrisome sign because the category fell off before a broader job-market slowdown ahead of the past two recessions” [Wall Street Journal, “Temp-Worker Freeze Bodes Ill for Economy”]. “Many economists look at the sector as a leading indicator because cautious firms tend to first hire temps when an expansion begins and dismiss those nonpermanent workers when they sense the economy is faltering.”

Employment Situation: “A relatively tight labor market in the United States may put upward pressure on inflation, raising the case for higher interest rates, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Monday” [Futures].

Shipping: “Several world regions including China, Western Europe and the Middle East seem to have planned much more container terminal capacity than needed for the coming decades.  ” [Journal of Commerce]. A new study by the International Transport Forum at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development finds container traffic related to international trade will double by 2030 and increase by nearly 300 percent by 2050. … Of the world’s 18 major sea areas, only in the case of South Asia is the baseline projection for container volumes in 2030 higher than the estimated capacity figure.”

Shipping: “When the U.S. Department of Transportation last year issued a new set of standards for tank cars transporting flammable liquids, rail-car repair companies began prepping for what they expected to be an onslaught of retrofitting work” [Progressive Railroading]. “So far, however, the demand for retrofits hasn’t quite matched earlier projections. The high costs associated with updating the older tank cars and plummeting oil prices have dampened demand, but repair company execs still expect 2016 to be a busy year thanks to steady calls for requalifications and maintenance work in other segments, such as autoracks.”

Shipping: “Is there a future for unmanned air cargo operations?” [Air Cargo News]. “The impact of automation on the work-force is of course a controversial and emotive subject, but participants quickly identified that in the case of air cargo, looking at UAVs from the point of reducing the number of pilots missed the point. … It was pointed out that there was spare capacity in the bellyhold sector and therefore it would be hard for the unmanned industry to offer a more cost-effective solution on intercontinental operations. … Instead, discussions centred on how UAV operations could open up new areas for air cargo and revolutionise supply chains. … The use of UAVs to avoid current safety concerns – such as the transport of Lithium-ion batteries – could also provide an option for unmanned systems. ”

Fodder for the Bulls: “The bears would have you believe the world is ending, but is it?” [MarketWatch]. By Betteridge’s Law, no. So far as I can tell, this article has no significance, but the headline is fun. Readers?

Shipping: “Seven kinds of counterparty: part one” [Splash247]. “We’ll start with the Good, in this article, before moving on to the Bad and the Ugly.” Fun!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56, Greed (previous close: 55, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 23 at 1:12pm. Back to greed from neutral. So the hangover wasn’t too bad.


“Seventy bicycle riders toured the streets of New Orleans to learn how water flows through the city and new ways to make New Orleans “more resilient'” [Nonprofit Quarterly]. “The new approach [of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan] would integrate a living water system throughout the city, reducing the rates at which the land is sinking through ‘innovative climate-adaptive planning, design, and technology.”” I hope they consulted real estate interests. And interestingly, Bangkok faces exactly the same sort of problem.

“‘Our Water, Our Future’: Voters in Oregon Defeat Nestlé’s Attempt to Privatize Their Water” [Truthout]. I wish we’d been able to do the same thing up here with Poland Springs. I guess we’ll just have to wait for The Jackpot…


“Anyone with an allergy has their origin story, a tale of how they discovered that their immune system goes haywire when some arbitrarily particular molecule gets into their body” [Quartz]. “[Ruslan Medzhitov of of the Anlyan Center for Medical Research and Education at the Yale School of Medicine thinks that] allergies are not simply a biological blunder. Instead, they’re an essential defense against noxious chemicals”

“Smelly Socks and Sweaty Shirts: Why Your Laundry Stinks, and How to Stop It” [Alpha Galileo].

Guillotine Watch

“These days, passengers can spend time at sea in a lounge where they are served by robotic bartenders, in a spa where artificial snowflakes fall inside a snow room, or in a planetarium where they are taken on a virtual tour of outer space, and still fail to take advantage of everything on board” [Daily Mail]. Why go to sea at all, then? These people have more money than sense.

Class Warfare

“Meet the Party of Upper-Middle-Class Liberals” [Indypendent (MR)]. Review of Listen, Liberal. This is excellent:

After the Decatur uprising, Frank ignores virtually all opposition to the neoliberal Dems from the left. Unmentioned or barely noted struggles include the 1997 UPS strike; the Battle of Seattle; the Nader campaign; the anti-Iraq War movement; the Howard Dean candidacy; immigrant rights protests; the Wisconsin uprising; Occupy Wall Street; the Chicago teachers strike’ the elections of Elizabeth Warren, Kshama Sawant and Bill de Blasio; Fight for $15, and Black Lives Matter. These struggles have been coming much faster and fiercer since OWS broke the dam in 2011, culminating in Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president (apparently under way as Frank was completing Listen, Liberal), which will claim over 10 million votes.

“Are You Successful? If So, You’ve Already Won the Lottery” [New York Times]. But wait! What about merit?

“Council closed libraries to cut costs, then spent more to guard them” [Guardian]. So, a subsidy to the security industry at the expense of making people more stupid. What’s not to like?

“How Hedge Funders Built the Pro-Charter Political Network” [Bill Moyers]. “But as the movement to marketize public education gained momentum, advocates broadened their focus from the federal level to state and local governments. There, where campaign costs were substantially lower than in federal elections, the well-funded movement could more effectively leverage its political money.” I never know whether where to file charter stories: Class Warfare, or Corruption.

“Google’s Relationship with Payday Loans: It’s Complicated” [The New Yorker]. No, it isn’t. “Google’s decision came a few weeks before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to release new rules on payday lenders.”

News of the Wired

“A Current List of Use Cases for Ethereum” [Medium]. Since Ethereum’s storage is centralized, even if the apps are decentralized, the essential use case is renting the storage, no?

“I’ve worked in software for years and, time and again, I’ve seen someone apply the arts to solve a problem of systems. The reason for this is simple. As a practice, software development is far more creative than algorithmic” [New York Times].

“This Game of Thrones Porn Parody Is All About the Happy Ending” [Vanity Fair].

“Desire Was Everywhere” [London Review of Books]. A 2010 appreciation of that madcap couple, Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze.

“There’s No Such Thing as Free Will” [The Atlantic]. “Smilansky advocates a view he calls illusionism—the belief that free will is indeed an illusion, but one that society must defend.” In other words, a Noble Lie.

“Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer” [Aeon]. “The faulty logic of the [Information Processing] metaphor is easy enough to state. It is based on a faulty syllogism – one with two reasonable premises and a faulty conclusion. Reasonable premise #1: all computers are capable of behaving intelligently. Reasonable premise #2: all computers are information processors. Faulty conclusion: all entities that are capable of behaving intelligently are information processors.”

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


Seems to be my day for time-stamps….

NOTE I credited the photo to Maggie, when the credit should have gone to Portia, to whom I extend my apologies. Not a good day.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Jim Haygood

    ‘An open house smelling like a rescue pound has people trying to buy without seeing what is directly in front of them.’

    Architecture mobilizes to banish this vicissitude of upper middle class life in New York:

    During a New Year’s Eve dinner party several years ago, fun and laughter quickly turned to anguish for Jennifer McAllister-Nevins. The pipes in her kitchen were suddenly blocked.

    And because she lived in a TriBeCa apartment with an open kitchen, all the guests got to witness each chaotic moment as the sink vomited sludge.

    It’s no surprise that Ms. McAllister-Nevins, who loves to entertain, now lives in a different TriBeCa loft, one with an enclosed kitchen.

    “I grew up in the Upper East Side and never saw an open kitchen,” said Edward Yedid, a partner of Grade New York, an interior design and architecture firm.


    Mommy … the dinner guests said our kitchen has houseitosis.

    Honey … I feel your anguish. We’ll never hold our heads high in this town again.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Peak Austin … just another traffic-clogged California city, 1,300 miles from the cooling breezes of the Pacific.

  2. allan

    Uber deal shows divide in labor’s drive for role in ‘gig economy’ [Reuters]

    The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers trumpeted an agreement reached earlier this month to represent New York Uber drivers, saying it “gives organized labor an opportunity to shape the new economy in a way that supports and values workers and their families.”

    But not everyone in the U.S. labor movement is cheering.

    The deal falls short of actual union representation, and it has revealed sharp divisions among labor advocates about how to address a central reality of the so-called gig economy: The classification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

    Not news to NC readers, but good to see gig-skepticism leaking into the MSM.

  3. Nick

    Re black voters and Sanders: “…whose quarrel is not with the system but with access to the system” (my emphasis)

    That’s such a brilliant way of framing this issue. Not just among black voters, but among the population in general. The biggest obstacle to a leftist movement gaining traction among the “2-10%” or the lower-level management classes or however you want to label them, who desperately want to become members of the 1% and have slightly better than powerball odds of ever getting in, but will enjoy watching the Kardashians for a taste of the lifestyle in the mean time: they simply see the system as “unfair,” not inherently immoral and wrong (not to mention unsustainable).

    Re the electoral map looking grim for Trump: apparently the MSM have the memory power of a goldfish. He was never going to secure the nomination, which he easily did, and now he’s facing a grim electoral map.

    That shows some serious chutzpah on the part of the media – acting as if they have any authority to be taken seriously.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I don’t see why they are “the biggest obstacle.” They are part of the opposition but certainly not the most powerful part.

      1. Nick

        I said the fact that they don’t see the system as immoral and wrong, just unfair, is the biggest obstacle, not them. And I think it’s wrong to see them as “the opposition.” They’re just the most heavily indoctrinated in the TINA mindset. It’s up to us to show them that there is in fact an alternative.

        1. dk

          +100 to this and your previous.

          People can feel they’re miles apart, when they’re standing back to back and facing in different directions.

  4. diptherio

    Employment Situation: “A relatively tight labor market in the United States may put upward pressure on inflation, raising the case for higher interest rates, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Monday”

    Earth to Bullard, we like tight labor markets! The tighter the better! Tight labor markets means more raises, more hiring, on-the-job training…horrors! We’re all workers, you dolt — you worry about wage inflation, we say bring it on!

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Get with the program you Communist, you know the kind of inflation we want is for rent-seeker assets, not serf wages. Sheesh.
      It will be fun to watch how they attempt to squeeze more capital gains out of fixed income assets…I guess the lowest interest rates in 5000 years will need to go lower, mm-hmm, yeah, that’ll fix it.

  5. paulmeli

    “tiny economic benefit”

    Yes, but for whom? Not likely to be for Joe Sixpack.

  6. grayslady

    “Smelly Socks and Sweaty Shirts”

    Apologies for sounding sexist here, but only three male scientists could come up with a test for washing odor out of clothes at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The typical cold water wash is 80 degrees F, warm water is 90 degrees F, and hot water is 120 degrees F. Furthermore, even my 15-year old washing machine has dual programs for every wash cycle: you can choose warm wash combined with warm rinse or warm wash combined with cold rinse, etc. Also, more detergent is required for cooler water temperatures than warmer water temperatures. And nowhere in the article does it tell readers whether the fabrics were all cotton or cotton/synthetic blends, which also would affect the results (pure cotton, especially white cotton, has many more possibilities for removing odors and stains than fabrics with synthetics blended in). I could go on with how amateurish this so-called scientific study was, but it in no way relates to the real world.

    1. jrs

      I didn’t know machines with dual programs even existed. Yea I’ve rented all my life, apartments don’t have the stainless steel marble topped laundry machines exactly I guess. But the laundrymats might. I just try to rent places with a laundry on site for time saving.

      If you write a blog about laundry though I’d like to read it, what are the better options of removing odors from cotton? Who knew there was so much to know about doing laundry.

      1. grayslady

        For stains, presoaking with powdered Biz gets out just about anything, including old, dried blood. Some people add a teaspoon of washing detergent into the soaking bucket, but I’ve never found that necessary. Really tough stains, such as yellowing, or perspiration stains, may take several days of soaking (I’ve even soaked garments up to a week). Since you say that you don’t have a washing machine handy, just thoroughly rinse the garment after soaking it, air dry it, and then add it to your laundry bag. Biz uses enzymes, not bleach, so it’s safe for even delicate fabrics. It also helps work on some of the causes of persistent odors.

        For odor, use 20-Mule Team Borax, per package directions, or add a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle (you can put it into the machine if it has a Fabric Softener container on the machine) and then just run the machine to give an extra final rinse so your clothes won’t smell of vinegar. The white vinegar can also help make towels fluffier.

    2. hunkerdown

      To a detergent scientist seeking to improve how well a detergent pulls the stank out of whatever is washed in it under less energy-intensive conditions, what use are whataboutery and anti-intellectual arrogance?

  7. Pavel

    For all those (including, I know, Lambert) concerned with HRC’s email hairball, this is a must read. Via Washington’s Blog, ex-security experts (VIPS) call for the release of the info on Hillary’s email server:

    Not all workers at the NSA or the FBI are likely to keep their heads in the sand, as they watch very senior officials and politicians with their own agendas disregard laws to safeguard the nation’s security. We know what it is like to do the difficult, disciplined work of protecting information from being compromised by strictly abiding by what often seem to be cumbersome rules and regulations. We’ve been there; done that.

    If you encourage the Department of Justice and the FBI to continue slow-walking the investigation, there is a good chance the truth will come out anyway. As you are aware, the Justice Department, the FBI, and NSA have all yielded recent patriots who, in such circumstances, decided that whistleblowing – rather than silence – was the only way to honor the oath we all swore – to support and defend the Constitution.

    To sum up our concern regarding how all this plays out, if you order the Justice Department and FBI to pursue the investigation with “all deliberate speed,” so to speak, and Secretary Clinton becomes president, the juicy email secrets in the hidden hands of the NSA and FBI are likely to give those already powerful institutions a capacity for blackmail that would make J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth water. In addition, information hacked by foreign intelligence services or Guccifer-like hackers can also provide useful grist for leverage or blackmail.

    Taking Care the Laws Are Faithfully Executed

    We strongly urge you to order Attorney General Loretta Lynch to instruct FBI Director James Comey to wind up a preliminary investigation and tell the country now what they have learned. By now they – and U.S. intelligence agencies – have had enough time to do an early assessment of what classified data, programs and people have been compromised. Realistically speaking, a lengthier, comprehensive post-mortem-type evaluation – however interesting it might be, might never see the light of day under a new president.

    Washington’s Blog: Intel Officials Urge Fast Report on Clinton’s Emails

    The signatories include the great Ray McGovern, who periodically gives great interviews on these and other matters at the Scott Horton anti-war show. Ray is a real character and a national treasure. Two thumbs up.

    1. hreik

      It’s a great read. Wonder if Potus will listen.

      Numerous messages both in New York and in Washington have reportedly been erased or simply cannot be found. In addition, the law cited above explicitly makes it a felony to cut and paste classified information removing its classification designation. Retaining such information on a private email system is also a felony. In one of Secretary Clinton’s emails, she instructed her staff simply to remove a classification and send the information to her on her server.

      So the question is not whether Secretary Clinton broke the law. She did. If the laws are to be equally applied, she should face the same kind of consequences as others who have been found, often on the basis of much less convincing evidence, guilty of similar behavior

      Secretary Clinton’ case invites comparison with what happened to former CIA case officer Jeffrey Sterling, now serving a three-and-a-half-year prison term for allegedly leaking information to New York Times journalist James Risen……
      …..Jeffrey Sterling was not permitted to testify in the trial on his own behalf because he would have had to discuss Operation Merlin, which was and is still classified. He could not mention any details about it even if they were already publicly known through the Risen book. No evidence was ever produced in court demonstrating that any classified information ever passed between the two men, but Sterling, an African American, was nevertheless convicted by an all-white jury in Virginia based on “suspicion” and the presumption that “it had to be him.”

      The contrast between the copious evidence – some of it self-admitted – of Secretary Clinton’s demonstrable infractions, on the one hand, and the very sketchy, circumstantial evidence used to convict and imprison Jeffrey Sterling, on the other, lend weight to the suspicion that there is one law for the rich and powerful in the United States and another for the rest of us.

  8. allan

    Clinton goes Marxist-Leninist-Corbynist on discount carrier “Norwegian” Air.
    Of course this has nothing to do with Sanders staying in the race …

    Clinton opposes US expansion of Norwegian’s long-haul budget airline NAI

    The Democrat presidential frontrunner has urged the Obama administration to reject the application for a “US Foreign Carrier Permit” by Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, NAI. …

    The Democrat presidential frontrunner has urged the Obama administration to reject the application for a “US Foreign Carrier Permit” by Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, NAI.

    The Clinton campaign said: “Workers in the US airline industry deserve rules of the road that support a strong workforce with high labor standards – not attempts by airlines to flout labor standards and outsource good-paying jobs. …

    The Association of Flight Attendants, representing US cabin crew, said NAI planned to use pilots hired under Singaporean or Thai employment contracts and based in Bangkok.

    A Norwegian company using its Irish subsidiary to employ crews subject to Thai labor law.
    What could possibly go wrong?

  9. DJG

    Antidote of the Day: Great photo, with good foregrounding of the honorable subject matter of the portrait. Good cropping, too.

    Important questions: What kind of mushroom would they be? Are they edible? And are they one of the better edibles (you know, like chanterelles or hen of the woods)?

    1. Carla

      Yes, the fungi are gorgeous. Probably safest to just enjoy their ornamental value – which is tremendous!

    2. jemand

      I believe they are Jack O Lanterns, which are toxic lookalikes to chantrelles. The gills of both go slightly down the stem (though chantrelles don’t properly have gills, they are similar but subtly different structures.)

      These are coming up in close groups, which is a hallmark of the species. However, they have their own beauty, these mushrooms glow in the dark!!

      Here’s the wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalotus_olearius

      Caveat, I am not an expert, and my identification may be wrong. But I would recommend STRONGLY against eating this mushroom.

    3. jgordon

      It was good, but the sky was blown out. Needed a polarizing filter and/or some creative use of selective color in PS to bring out the sky. HDR probably would have been awesomely trippy here as well. Damn, wish I’d seen that.

      1. portia

        just a silly point and shoot camera, sorry. personally, I like the fadeout into the distance…the focus for me was the shrooms

    1. neo-realist

      Sherrod Brown could have been a strategically sound pick for helping Clinton’s appeal in the battleground states—Midwestern Senator with populist cred (Why he threw in with HRC is a mystery?)

      1. Carla

        I was initially surprised by Sherrod’s very early (Oct.) endorsement of Hillary. But his yes vote to confirm Robert Califf, hand-maiden of the pharmaceutical industry, as FDA Commissioner, explained a lot to me. Sherrod has gone over to the dark side. Too bad. Despite his protests, he would probably love to be VP.

  10. rich

    How corporate America bought Hillary Clinton for $21M

    So what would Washington and Jefferson make of Hillary Rodham Clinton? Mandatory financial disclosures released this month show that, in just the two years from April 2013 to March 2015, the former first lady, senator and secretary of state collected $21,667,000 in “speaking fees,” not to mention the cool $5 mil she corralled as an advance for her 2014 flop book, “Hard Choices.”

    Throw in the additional $26,630,000 her ex-president husband hoovered up in personal-appearance “honoraria,” and the nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the former first couple — who, according to Hillary, were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001 with some of the furniture in tow — can finally make ends meet.

    No wonder Donald Trump calls her “crooked Hillary.”

    A look at Mrs. Clinton’s speaking venues and the whopping sums she’s received since she left State gives us an indication who’s desperate for a place at the trough — and whom another Clinton administration might favor.
    But it’s their parlaying of “public service” by two career “civil servants” into personal enrichment that’s shameless.

    1. Dugh

      Included in the “family racket”, throw in the major bankrolling of the the son-in-law’s sketchy hedge fund by Blankfein and other Wall Street power brokers.

  11. John Merryman

    These free will debates are nonsense. For one thing, what is will, other than the act of conscious determination. What is it supposed to be free of; Input? In which case, it would also be free of output, i.e. consequences.

    The main problem is that we look at time backward. Because we experience reality as flashes of cognition, we think of it as the point of the present moving from past to future and so project a determined past onto an undetermined future and think causality will play out in a specific way, in which the laws of nature have essentially predetermined the outcome.

    The reality is that change turns future into past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns. So time is an effect of action, not the basis of it. Events have to occur, in order to be determined. They are first in the present, then in the past. Prior events are not so much determining current ones, as they are being consumed by them, as feedback, because the energy transfers from one to the next.

    Basically information cannot travel faster than light and since input into any event comes from all directions, there is no omniscient view to know the input and therefore the output of an event.

    Yes, many of the decisions we make are predictable, but the conscious executive function evolved to make decisions. Otherwise it would be superfluous and nature doesn’t put that much energy into something which would be unnecessary.

    Quantum physics has a similar issue with indeterminacy and one of the solutions is the multi-world theory, in which all outcomes branch out into multiple realities, but that is simply the opposite of determinism. It presumes the past to remain probabilisitic, rather than being determined by events. Yet the reality is time is an effect of actions. With Schrodinger’s cat, the switch observes the atomic decay, the cat observes the poison and the scientist observes the cat.

    Not to rant too much, but having debated this on philosophy blogs, academics are quite thick headed.

    1. Uahsenaa

      It also doesn’t help that so many philosophers in the academy don’t have a firm grounding in the language[s] in which “free will” debates were based, Latin in particular. Augustine’s formulation liberum arbitrium makes clear that what is under discussion is not some vague conceptualization of will as absolute freedom (which is more Nietzschean, if anything) but rather the faculty of judgment, choice–it is explicitly tied to our being in the world and not aloof from it. Therefore contingency is everything. The scholastics were very clear on this point: in this world, we are fundamentally subject to its vicissitudes, and so judgment (not will) can only be understand in how it manages and responds to those sudden and often indeterminable changes.

    1. edmondo


      Now all Sanders’ planks can be defeated by a 10 to 5 vote instead of a 15 to 0 vote.
      This is what success looks like to progressives in the D Party!
      We fought, we lost but we fought valiantly so therefore we won, sort of.

  12. allan


    Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, is under investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department over campaign fundraising, CNN reported on Monday, citing U.S. officials briefed on the probe.

    Quid pro quo or it didn’t happen.

    1. edmondo

      Wouldn’t it be easier if they just moved the Virginia Governor’s Mansion to a state correctional facility? They all seem to end up there sooner or later. It would save so much time.

    2. Jim Haygood

      McAuliffe is the same guy who ran the GreenTech scam (peddling investment visas to Chinese) with HIllary’s brother Tony Rodham … and who served on the Clinton Global Initiative board.

      Turn over any random Clinton rock, and you find hundreds of termites, grubs and bottom feeders squirming in the unaccustomed light.

  13. edmondo

    “To win the 270 votes needed to claim victory in the electoral college, Trump will have to keep every single state won by Romney — including Arizona and Georgia — and find 64 more electoral votes somewhere” [The Hill]. “The question is where? If Trump holds all the Romney states and carries Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida, he still loses…. Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg all predict a big Clinton victory. For example, Sabato projects Clinton to win 347 electoral votes to Trump’s 191.”

    It’s not that mysterious at all: If Trump flips Ohio (Kasich will be the VP nominee. Trump HAS to have OH). FL, NH, WI, IA (and maybe ME), then the White House will get giant Ivanka re-do. Why not gold filigree? White is so pedestrian.

    The Midwest makes or breaks Trump.

    1. aab

      When I saw this blurb hours ago, my first thought was, “He’s definitely getting Ohio.” I realize maybe this is over-optimistic, but it seems there are limitations to how much either party can steal in an election.Hillary Clinton with her NAFTA/TPP link and disdainful attitude seems almost uniquely suited to lose Ohio.

      I haven’t looked at those maps, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on electoral math. But what you laid out seems likely to me. I even think Trump could get PA. I know I’m biased because of my hatred of Clinton, but with her numbers already below his before the conventions and attendant protests in Philly, before the daily drumbeat of Clinton scandals (today alone we got the Guccifer plea deal AND McAuliffe), before Trump picks his teeth with her in the debates, I don’t see how this doesn’t end up a bloodbath in the opposite direction, with the Clintons crushed.

  14. Doug

    One thing is assured: The winner of the White House is assured of being unpopular with a majority of Americans.

    And probably lead to more gridlock in Washington.

  15. MikeNY

    Re: The Atlantic and free will.

    **bangs head on desk**

    This is not one millimeter of advancement over Kant in the first critique. All the ‘scientific’ argument does is substitute Darwin for Newton. In fact, it’s a substantial regression, because it doesn’t even understand the concept of the Kantian antinomies, or the fact that the notion of freedom is a metaphysical notion, and so, by its very nature, it does not admit of empirical proof or disproof.

    Really, I would think The Atlantic might have someone on staff, or someone on call, who had a better grasp of probably the most important philosopher of the modern era.

    1. JustAnObserver

      MikeNY: IMV its simpler and cruder than that. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read similar articles and, as as far as I can tell, every single one of them at some point makes some kind of demonstration that a decision was not *perfectly* free. Then immediately jumps all the way over to the notion of full determinism. i.e

      Your actions are not perfectly free *becomes* your actions are fully determined.

      It always evinces in me a feeling that these folk have a desperate desire to return to the idea of clockwork universe (ab)using science to get there. I kind of culture wars in the philosophical world. Relates to, I think, Calvinist notions of predestination, being chosen, of the (144,000 ?) elect etc.

      1. John Merryman

        I think there is an essential structural issue here, in that information is inherently reductionistic and static. Meanwhile nature is wholistic and dynamic. It’s just that our minds don’t work well at the speed of light.

        So the high priests of knowledge insist their maps are more real than reality.

      2. Jagger

        as as far as I can tell, every single one of them at some point makes some kind of demonstration that a decision was not *perfectly* free. Then immediately jumps all the way over to the notion of full determinism. i.e

        Answers must be black or white, either/or, a or b. No grays allowed. Existence seems to make more sense when you allow a few shades of gray into the equation.

      3. MikeNY

        You’re right about the ‘binary’ treatment of freedom. Good point. It’s bizarre: at a time when other researches are finally recognizing signs of consciousness animals and insects, these maroons are desperate to turn human beings into stones.

      4. Ulysses

        “Oh Thou, who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
        Beset the Road I was to wander in,
        Thou will not with Predestination round
        Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?”

        Rubáiyát , Omar Khayyám

        1. Propertius


          We are no other than a moving row
          Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
          Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
          In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

          But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
          Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
          Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
          And one by one back in the Closet lays.

          The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
          But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
          And He that toss’d you down into the Field,
          He knows about it all–He knows–HE knows!

          The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
          Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
          Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
          Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.


  16. portia

    last Friday, one of my Vt State Legislators came to talk to me while I was sitting in the park. He wanted my signature for his next run.
    I started talking about the 2016 Presidential election, and he seemed unaware of the NV Sanders delegate suppression, or even of the NY voter suppression, especially the purge in Brooklyn. Geez, I hope he looked into it after we talked. He’s worked for good things in VT, so I gave him my signature, but how come these people do not see the big picture? He’s been with Bernie since his mayoral run in Burlington. I am tearing my hair out here.

    1. aletheia33

      vt unfortunately is a bubble of its own. you may not agree, but i suspect many of vermont’s citizen legislators, and the rest of us here in vt, are so self-congratulatory (not without some good reason) of our well-meaning liberalism and educating the rest of the country with our visionary laws that we are dangerously ignorant of the ravening corporate sharks that circle our tiny island ever more tightly every year and will soon be closing in for the kill. so far it has been vt’s good fortune to have relatively little to offer the looters and pillagers. in the race to the bottom, that is changing. plus the vt “establishment,” since the vt dems are as beholden to their party as those in any other state, is far from meeting its full obligation to protect the poor and unemployed from the ravages of neoliberalism. exhibit a: shumlin ditches single payer, after avoiding action on the law mandating it for years, rather than ask those better off to pony up for those “less fortunate than themselves”. vt is full of well-meaning do-gooders who listen religiously to npr. challenge just that habit of theirs and you soon discover a sad level of ignorance about the neoliberal takeover and naivete about the purity of vt. that said, so many other states have far worse problems.

      1. Archie

        very good synopsis aletheia33. my wife is an “ex pat” special ed teacher in brattleboro and i visit often. it is a curious amalgam of the downtrodden, artiste, bourgeois, yuppie, hippie, drug addicted, lgbt, and some others that haven’t been defined yet. i find it an exhilarating place to visit but my wife finds it a daunting environment to educate within.

        there are very strict rules and regs regarding recycling and composting which appear to be enlightened i suppose. and yet the organ factory and the textile mills have long since gone away and the large scale neglect of property and housing is obvious and disheartening. i have seen rural trailer parks that look much, much more inviting. but i never fear for myself walking in any neighborhood and the downtown area is from a bygone era and bustling most of the day.

        i expect that burlington, bennington or montpelier aren’t all that different from brattleboro, minus the major river but i haven’t been to these places. anyway, most of the good paying blue collar jobs left vt a long time ago and the political establishment in vt has to be well aware of this. i suspect the fellow portia is referring to is a democrat and is intelligent. he is undoubtedly aware of the bait and switch tactics his party leaders used regarding vt single payer and the establishment of a state bank. his reluctance to engage in conversation about democratic primary shenanigans in nv and ny indicates to me that he is not ok with it but he’s just an insignificant cog in the machine. i also expect that he feels like the “good things” he supports as a state rep mitigates his silence on the duplicitous leadership of his state and national party leaders.

        it doesn’t necessarily make him an outright bad guy, but he is an enabler nonetheless. sadly, this is prevalent in every state, and the average citizen in most of them aren’t as non-judgmental as the average vermonter.

        1. portia

          I think you are right that he considers it bad behavior to talk about party bad behavior, like most people in office. or he did not know me well enough. I have nothing to lose by speaking out, however, and many others here are the same, so I hope that encourages the Leg.

      2. portia

        you are so right — people like the Kochs, etc, are trying to insert Republican soldiers for their cause. Shumlin was a huge disappointment and there is a “sad level of ignorance about the neoliberal takeover and naivete about the purity of vt” and Seven Days VT has become just disgusting politically. I do see that large independent sector still here though that, when riled, is a force like Bernie Sanders to push back.

    2. JustAnObserver

      Sounds like your state legislator is smart or aware enough to have stopped reading the MSM but not quite smart enough to have searched out alternative sources.

      I hope you give him the NC URL as a starting point? Links & Water Cooler should get him going nicely even if he’s not interested in fin or econ.

  17. Roger Smith

    Off the wall but related: I just finished watching Citizenfour and I was wondering if anyone knew what is being discussed at the end with the second whistleblower and what is being revealed.

    I cannot seem to find anything useful about it and would appreciate even a starting point. I’m not sure what has happened since then. I know it relates to POTUS, drones, and watch lists and was thinking it had to do with that recent website with all the drone info.

    1. Roger Smith

      I’m referring to the “Drone Papers”. From a recent Snowden post it sounds like this is indeed the answer to my question.

  18. Cry Shop

    Google and PayDay lending
    It’s not hard to figure out who wrote the new regulations on payday lending either. This is why Debbie Wassermann is going to be sold down the stream by the Dem and Hillary even after carrying so much (filthy) water for them. Wassermann is in the pocket of the old style semi-cleaned up mafia payday lending/money laundry


  19. allan

    Penalty Against Bank of America Overturned in Mortgage Case

    A federal appeals court dealt a blow to the federal government’s effort to hold Bank of America accountable for the sale of shoddy mortgages before the financial crisis, overturning a $1.27 billion penalty the bank had been ordered to pay in the so-called hustle case.

    A three-judge panel ruled on Monday that federal prosecutors had failed to prove that Bank of America’s Countrywide unit had defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage firms, when it sold them troubled loans. …

    The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is one of a few setbacks in the Justice Department’s sprawling prosecution of Wall Street after the mortgage crisis. …

    Sprawling? As in sprawling on the floor and letting white shoe law firms walk all over you?

  20. Jeff W

    Wow, that Aeon link “Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer”! Thank you!

    BF Skinner said this over 40 years ago in About Behaviorism (p. 122):

    The metaphor of storage in memory…has caused a great deal of trouble…We do make external records for future use, to supplement defective contingencies of reinforcement, but the assumption of a parallel inner record-keeping process adds nothing to our understanding of this kind of thinking.

    Skinner made the same argument with regard to catching a ball probably 30 years or more before Michael McBeath did—a person doesn’t somehow calculate the trajectory of the ball, etc., in catching it; he behaves in a very specific way with respect to it. (McBeath and some of the other cognitive scientists, though, call what they do “radical embodied cognitive science” and take great pains not to credit Skinner but, instead tracing their lineage back to James Gibson.)

    Cognitive scientists have, for 40 years, been treating people like computers and coming up with convoluted theories like the “interface theory of perception.” The IP/cognitive science view within psychology really needs to be relegated to the trash heap of history.

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