2:00PM Water Cooler 5/26/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Today, Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 11:30am CEST, WikiLeaks releases new secret documents from the huge Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) which is being negotiated by the US, EU and 22 other countries that account for 2/3rds of global GDP” [Wikileaks]. “This release includes a previously unknown annex to the TiSA core chapter on “State Owned Enterprises” (SOEs), which imposes unprecedented restrictions on SOEs and will force majority owned SOEs to operate like private sector businesses. This corporatisation of public services – to nearly the same extent as demanded by the recently signed TPP – is a next step to privatisation of SOEs on the neoliberal agenda behind the ‘Big Three’ (TTIP,TiSA,TPP).”

“No nation stands to gain more from the TPP than Vietnam, which, the World Bank guesses, will get a GDP boost of 10% by 2030. Lower foreign tariffs would increase exports such as garments and shoes. The deal would also spur local production of fabric and much else that is currently imported. The TPP is popular with ordinary Vietnamese” [Economist]. “They like any effort that reduces their dependence on China, Vietnam’s big northern neighbour, with which it has a big trade deficit and a bitter territorial dispute. Meanwhile, reformers in government hope that TPP membership will hasten the privatisation of bloated state-owned enterprises, which have long weighed on the economy but which vested interests make difficult to slim.” Hmm. SOEs. Malaysia got a pass on its SOEs, besides getting a pass on slavery.



“If gender is fluid, what about race and age?” [Newsday]. I’ve been avoiding the bathroom debate. This editorial urges that the administration’s has prohibited “discrimination based on a student’s gender identity” but the “1972 law whose authority it is using, Title IX, mentions only sex, not gender, and so it must equate the two.” Yikes. Can this possibly be true?

“Newly powerful Sanders flexes Senate muscles” [Politico]. “The Vermont senator, remade as one of the best-known members of Congress, is throwing his weight against some of the most significant bipartisan deals pending in Congress this year.” Oh noes! Bipartisan is in danger!!

The Voters

“But half of Sanders voters are not yet ready to support Clinton in a Clinton-Trump matchup. In fact, the percentage of Sanders supporters willing to vote for Clinton has dropped in the last few weeks. At the end of April, 63% of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Clinton. Importantly, however, these supporters are not going directly to Trump; instead they are moving into the undecided category, going for a third candidate, or opting out of the race altogether” [YouGov]. Hippie-punching works.

“Why so many Sanders supporters don’t want to be Democrats” [WaPo]. Because the Democrat Party doesn’t represent their values or interests? This is not hard.

“How a broken public restroom faucet explains the 2016 election” [WaPo]. Silly voters. They want a bathroom faucet that works, instead of one of those hand-activated faucets that don’t (and man, I hate those things).

Our Famously Free Press

“The Myth That Sanders Hasn’t Been Criticized Won’t Go Away” [FAIR]. “The refrain that the Clinton campaign hasn’t run a negative attack on Sanders, thus protecting him from the sort of criticism that lies ahead,  is just a lie — one that normally reserved PolitiFact (5/22/16) deemed Clinton’s claim to this effect “false.””


“Sanders camp urges Trump not to ‘chicken out’ of debate” [Politico]. So even as a ploy, this works (although oddly, or not, neither WaPo nor the Times put this story on their front pages online, not even below the fold). And one of the most entertaining aspects of the whole episode has been watching Clinton supporters, who cast “Dangerous Donald” as the avatar of Fascist evil, clutch their pearls at the thought of Sanders actually taking him on. Isn’t fighting Trump the most important thing? I mean, in more effective way than having Elizabeth Warren invest her time in anti-Trump tweet-storms?

“What people are saying about the Trump-Sanders debate that probably won’t happen” [MarketWatch]. At least on the question of debating Sanders, more unites Trump and Clinton than divides them.

“Trump, Sanders seemingly agree to debate” [Politico]. The initial coverage.

“The Vermont senator is endorsing an initiative that would make marijuana legal in the state as he campaigns for primary votes” [Bloomberg].

The Trail

“The Confused Closing of Nonprofit Burlington College” [Nonprofit Quarterly].

“Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president Thursday, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign” [AP].

Clinton Email Hairball

“Audit finds Hillary Clinton erred on private emails” [MarketWatch]. “The inspector general explicitly criticized Clinton’s actions. ‘At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with department issues before leaving government service,’ the audit said. ‘Because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.'”

Josh Marshall on Clinton email: “This was never more than some poor judgment overlayed [sic] by a big bureaucratic pissing match all slathered over by a thick layer of partisan game playing and media derp” [Talking Points Memo]. I don’t know if my Mom would be persuaded by the argument that “all the other kids are doing it,” but perhaps Marshall’s mother brought him up differently. We might also remember that the State Department Inspector General who produced the report was appointed by Obama who is, last I checked, a Democrat, at least nominally. Finally, Marshall writes: “The report also singles out Colin Powell, who had a similar set up.” First, Powell had a separate account, not a homebrew server in the basement of his house; to call those “similar” is either tendentious, or shows Marshall to be appallingly ignorant of IT basics. (For Marshall’s benefit: With your own server, you own and control your own storage media, so you can personally delete (“wipe”) files at the hardware level, which is exactly what Clinton did, although the FBI recovered some.) Second, the report explains that State had systematically tightened the rules from Powell to Clinton, and that Clinton explicitly demanded that other State employees comply with those newly tightened rules, while flouting them herself. If you’re looking to debookmark Talking Points Memo because Josh Marshall is a Democrat hack, this column should do it for you.

In terms of the sales job Marshall and the Democratic nomenklatura generally are doing on Clinton’s behalf, I can’t say that I think “poor judgment” is really a selling point. Also too, if Clinton’s vaunted ability to work the system is all that, then a “bureaucratic pissing match” — in a bureaucracy of which she is the head, and against a stream of urine emitted by a bureaucrat appointed from her own party — is a match she should long ago have won. And last I checked, there was rather a lot of partisan game-playing going on in the Beltway, and if Clinton hasn’t been able to win one such game a bit more than a month before the Convention that will (presumably) nominate her, that doesn’t speak well of HillaryLand’s ability to play those games. From a purely pragmatic perspective, are we really looking at Presidential timber, here?

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of May 21, 2016: “Initial jobless claims fell sizably in the May 21 week, down 10,000 to a lower-than-expected 268,000. But the 4-week average, reflecting three prior weeks of increases, is still rising” [Econoday]. “Indications from continuing claims are flat.” But: “The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 275,750 (reported last week as 275,750) to 278,500” [Econintersect]. “Claim levels are at 40 year lows (with the normal range around 350,000 weekly initial unemployment claims of levels seen historically during times of economic expansion – see chart below).”

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, May 2016: “The price of oil may be back up but it has yet to pull the Kansas City manufacturing index into the plus column” [Econoday]. “This report, especially in light of this morning’s mixed data on durable goods, is a reminder that the factory sector has yet to show much traction this year.”

Durable Goods Orders, April 2016: “Indications on the factory sector have been mixed as is April’s durable goods report. The headline came in at a stronger-than-expected gain of 3.4 percent with March revised higher to a gain of 1.9 percent” [Econoday]. “A negative in the report is a sizable 0.8 percent decline in core capital goods orders which ominously is the third straight decline for this reading and the fifth out of the last six reports. Year-on-year, orders are noticeably in the negative column at minus 5.0 percent. These readings point squarely to stubborn weakness in business investment and uncertainty in the general business outlook.” But: “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved. The unadjusted three month rolling average improved this month and remains in expansion. Our view of this data is mixed as inventories are still in contraction, and inflation adjusted new orders are in contraction year-over-year” [Econintersect]. Military Keynesianism? “Durable goods orders surged by 3.4% in April, but the bulk of the increase came from the volatile defense and aircraft sectors. Defense bookings had spiked from $9.6 billion to $15 billion in March so naturally I projected a pullback. Instead, the military spending spree continued, as orders were barely off” [Across the Curve]. “Unfortunately, while the broad aggregates were somewhat better in April, the core capital goods orders figure sagged…. in my view, tepid is about as good as we can expect, as businesses are likely to sit on their hands to some degree until the political uncertainty is resolved later this year.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of May 22, 2016: “The consumer comfort index continues to trend lower” [Econoday]. “[N]ot a positive indication for either consumer spending nor consumer confidence in the jobs outlook. Still, not all confidence measures have been weakening especially the closely watched consumer sentiment index which spiked higher in the mid-May reading.”

Pending Home Sales Index, April 2016: “News from the housing sector has been improving and very rapidly. First Tuesday’s new home sales report which absolutely surged and now a similar surge in the pending home sales index, up 5.1 percent in April for a third straight gain and pointing to greater acceleration for final sales of existing homes” [Econoday].

MBA Mortgage Applications (yesterday): “Not a word from the analysts when they were down 6% last week” [Mosler Economics]. “But when up 5% this week expect lots of mentions…”

GDP: “The GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the second quarter of 2016 is 2.9 percent on May 26, up from 2.5 percent on May 17. The forecast for second-quarter real gross private domestic investment growth increased from -0.3 percent to 0.4 percent following this morning’s durable manufacturing release from the U.S. Census Bureau” [Across the Curve].

Oil: “Oil prices climbed above $50 a barrel on Thursday for the first time in nearly seven months as a global supply glut that plagued the market for nearly two years showed signs of easing” [Futures].

Shipping: “SGX promised to keep the Baltic Exchange’s headquarters in St Mary Axe, City of London, maintaining the existing market benchmark production and governance model, and keeping end-user Baltic data fees and fees for SGX clearing of freight derivatives at current levels for at least five years. Included in the proposal is also a commitment to the multiple clearing house model” [Splash247].

Shipping: “Soybean shippers this year have the unusual pleasure of being courted by the intermodal railroads, which have excess capacity thanks to the energy industry bust, and by trans-Pacific shipping lines that are anxious to fill their westbound containers with any paying freight they can get. If only soybean shippers could find more overseas buyers” [Journal of Commerce]. “Commodities traditionally dominate U.S. containerized exports in terms of volume, but the stars are rarely aligned where these low-value exports enjoy ample transportation capacity, low transport costs, high prices and strong overseas demand. Markets this year are marked by weak overseas demand and low export prices. On the other hand, all of the transportation metrics for overland and ocean shipment are the best they have been in several years.”

Shipping: “U.S. railroad traffic fell 8.5 percent to 506,983 carloads and intermodal units for the week ending May 21 compared with the same week a year ago, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported yesterday” [Progressive Railroading]. (This report does not back out coal or grain.) Canada is down 12.7%, Mexico is up 7.2% year-on-year.

Political Risk: “The ECB said in the latest edition of its twice-yearly Financial Stability Review that a rise in political risk ‘[pose[s] a challenge to fiscal and structural reform implementation and, by extension, public debt sustainability'” [Financial Times, “ECB warns of populist risk to financial stability”]. Yes, that is the point. The ECB totally gets it.

Political Risk: “I argued that the possible election of ‘Demagogue Donald’ dwarfs congressional dysfunction as a threat to [some] American[‘s] prosperity. Beyond lunatic and incoherent budget and trade policies, Donald Trump would for the first time make political risk of the kind usually discussed in the context of Argentina, China or Russia relevant to the United States” [Larry Summers, WaPo]. “Creeping fascism as an issue dwarfs macroeconomic policy!” And presumably Clinton — and I don’t know whether Summers not mentioning her is signal or noisy silence — will be able to defeat Trump, and then flip-flop from “no, we can’t” austerity-driven small ball to the massive infrastructural investments that Summers is calling for, and fact sees as “the only way out.” How does that work, absent a complete purge of the Democratic nomenklatura?

Political Risk: “Obama: World leaders rightfully ‘rattled’ by Trump” [AP]. “Questions about the unpredictable Trump have increasingly trailed Obama when he travels overseas, with world leaders incredulously sizing up a leading presidential candidate who speaks of banning Muslim immigration, starting trade wars and spreading nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea. Obama has said that Trump now comes up in every one of his foreign meetings, with the president offering reassurances that he doesn’t believe Trump will be elected.” People with wealth beyond their homes and passports may be persuaded by this. I would bet most of those voters have already made their choices. Somehow, I don’t think “Trump will upset world leaders” will be dispositive in the heartland.

“On April 25, Delta announced its order for 75 CS100s, the largest order in the history of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft business segment” [The Street]. Ending the Airbus/Boeing duopoly.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74, Greed (previous close: 71, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 26 at 11:40am. Mid-70s ceiling?

Our Famously Free Press

“Why Silicon Valley hates Gawker” [Fusion]. Peter Thiel isn’t the only squillionaire with reason to hate a Nick Denton publication:

Valleywag was not interested in service journalism. It was not a gadget blog. It didn’t care about access. It didn’t care about maintaining relationships with publicists. It did not care about flattering people into giving them exclusive profiles. It tore through the often unctuous, incestuous coverage of Silicon Valley and technology like a great white shark in chummed waters.

It was, in other words, dedicated to uncompromising reporting.

The Unsettlement

“Some Electricite de France workers joined strikes at oil refineries, cutting power output, as the government vowed not to back down revising a labor law and businesses warned of economic damage if the protests continued” [Bloomberg].

The Jackpot

“Historian uncovers ‘eye watering’ scope of Black Death devastation” [Red Orbit]. ” By counting and comparing the number and weight of broken pottery pieces from different date levels, the researchers were able to determine how many people were living at a specific location at any given time. What they found was the ‘eye-watering’ discovery that the population fell by as much as 70 percent in some areas, such as Binham in Norfolk; Cottenham in Cambridgeshire, Shillington in Bedfordshire, and Great Amwell in Hertfordshire.”

Class Warfare

“There is a new consensus, summarized in two papers, “The China Syndrome“, published in the American Economic Review, and “the China Shock“, a new working paper,  by David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson (ADH). According to their research, the effects of trade with China have been truly catastrophic for the average American worker” [Roger Farmer’s Economic Window]. “Sound familiar? This is a case of academic economists catching up with what the median blue-collar worker has known for a long time. The U.S. lost jobs to China and the average American worker was not compensated by the winners. And there were winners.” Crime makes you stupid, I guess.

News of the Wired

“1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility” [Nature]. “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.”

“Has a Hungarian Physics Lab Found a Fifth Force of Nature?” [Scientific American]. “Nature has surprised us before!”

“Cambodia’s health care system struggles to cope with mentally ill patients” [Channel NewsAsia]. “Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are the most common forms of mental illness diagnosed at the clinic. And a number of patients are survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, whose legacy has left them with deep mental scars.” Realpolitik is a lot more real for some than for others.

“How the Internet works: Submarine fibre, brains in jars, and coaxial cables” [Ars Technica]. This is a great explainer and a must-read. I looked for the “brains in jars” part:

You can’t visit a landing site or a data centre without noticing the need for power, not only for the racks but for the chillers: the cooling systems that ensure that servers and switches don’t overheat. And as the submarine cable landing site has unusual power requirements for its undersea repeaters, it has rather unusual backup systems, too.

Enter one of the two battery rooms and instead of racks of Yuasa UPS support batteries—with a form factor not too far removed from what you’ll find in your car—the sight is more like a medical experiment. Huge lead-acid batteries in transparent tanks, looking like alien brains in jars, line the room. Maintenance-free with a life of 50 years, this array of 2V batteries amounts to 1600Ah, delivering a guaranteed four hours of autonomy.

Hmm. Four hours won’t seem like much when The Jackpot intensifies.

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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 (Isolato):


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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. diptherio

    Plantidote: I love those little tree things. What are they? Lichen, moss? They always look like a miniature forest diorama to me. And I like the triptych style too.

      1. sgt_doom

        Mr. Strether, a thousand thanks for including those reports and blogging on offshoring of jobs to China (trade with China, etc.).

        Here in Seattle, King County, Washington, USA, is the perfect example of what transpired: the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce (with their sister organization, the Trade Alliance — located on same floor of downtown office building, the Rainier Tower), gave seminars to the local corporations in the early 2000s, on the most efficient manner in the offshoring of local jobs. (This was done using Department of Commerce funds, etc.)

        Fast forward to today, over fifty percent (> 50%) of the houses selling for over $500,000 in King County are purchased by mainland Chinese.

        Thus, they offshore the jobs, then allow in foreign RE buyers which jacks up the prices (both houses, real estate and rentals) — screwing the 90%!

        Similarly, with NAFTA, when the workers of both America and Mexico were screwed, verbiage in that so-called free trade agreement allowed for foreign ownership of Mexican banks, and within one year at least 90% of Mexican banks were foreign owned, which allowed the bankers and colluding Mexican politicians to allow in Big Agra, who privatized those lands farmed by Mexican subsistence farmers, throwing them off the lands, encouraging them to trek northwards to be future cheap labor in the American market. (And yes, 42,000 factories were shut down due to NAFTA.)

        Fundamentally, “free trade agreements” screw the workers by offshoring of jobs, insourcing of foreign visa replacement workers (part of the offshoring process) and allowing in foreign purchasers of real estate — screwing the hell out of the 90%.

        It’s just as Prof. Michael Hudson has been explaining it over the past 30 years!

        While Vietnam may profit from the TPP, one doubts seriously their workers overall will?

    1. Isolato

      The plant in the upper right is a lupine, the rest are various mosses and lichens. I live in what you might think of as very harsh conditions, less than 15 in. of rain a year and salt water blasts, but there is not a square in. of my island that has not been exploited for life. The view camera w/its incredible crystalline clarity makes us look at things our eyes might normally pass over and see their sublimity.

  2. Pavel

    I stopped following Josh Marshall and TPM 4 years ago (or maybe 8) when it was clear he was just another Dem Party apparatchnik. Sort of a Cokie Roberts of the internet age.

    As for the (proposed) debate: clearly the Sanders team want this to happen (just as desperately the Clinton team do not want it to happen). It would be interesting indeed if a 74 year old socialist Jewish hippie wimp manages to stare down alpha male Trump. I’m sure Trump will find excuses not to do it, but it won’t look too good.

    It boggles the mind that the HRC camp haven’t tried to make peace with Sanders — just the opposite, they are inflaming the situation further with the refusal to debate in CA and her repeated claims that she has already won the nomination. I sure hope Sanders is considering a third party run. If he gets the debate and does well, that could be the springboard.

    1. edmondo

      I stopped following Josh Marshall and TPM 4 years ago (or maybe 8) when it was clear he was just another Dem Party apparatchnik.

      Kos without the orange typeface. They still believe Obama is “one of the greatest presidents evah”

      1. polecat

        Both in a state of’ stupid for not groaking the HUUUUUUge turn in public mood……..

        …..””partisan idiots””…….. and there’s a whole barrel of em !!……

    2. Mark S.

      I quit reading Marshall 8 years ago, not because of any apparatchnik status, but because he morphed into a younger version of Tom Friedman, presenting ordinary observation as if it were deep knowing.

      (“Cokie Roberts of the internet age”—snap!)

  3. Steve C

    Marshall and TPM had a big voice in preventing congressional Dems from weaseling out and helping Bush dismantle Social Security.

    His evolution in service to party bigwigs appears to track Krugman’s.

    1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      Funny thing, Obama was probably closer to cutting Social Security than either Bush or Bill Clinton.

      A President Hillary would try again.

  4. Nick

    The problem as I see it with a Trump-Sanders debate is that, aside from Sanders supporters, virtually everyone else wants to see him fail, so if you think his “victories” in past debates were brushed aside, just wait till you see this one.

    The MSM will virtually ignore anything and everything constructive that Bernie says about policy and the need for change, even if he unequivocally trounces Trump, and focus exclusively on whatever pollution comes out of Trump’s mouth. And no matter how well Bernie might do, the Clinton camp will undermine him in every way possible.

    Plus, knowing how strong Bernie is against Trump, I assume that both the moderators and Trump will take every opportunity possible to try to force Bernie to say something negative about Hillary or put him in an awkward position of either bashing her or sticking up for her just to take the attention away from what him saying anything constructive. He’s damned if he does, and he’s damned if he doesn’t.

      1. Nick

        True, and we’ll see how it plays out, but I have a very uneasy feeling about it and I don’t think Bernie will gain from it in any way. However, on this particular matter I very much look forward to being proved wrong and hope Bernie will wipe the floor with him.

        I also fear that the new poll (the one that actually takes independents into account) showing Clinton and Bernie tied in California will help the media get used to the narrative of Bernie winning California and let the balloon deflate slowly instead of letting it make a loud pop with a surprise victory.

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      Trump will use the opportunity to bash Hillary if they have this debate. After all, she is his opponent in the general (unless she’s indicted or some other unforseen circumstance. Bernie will protest, but not too much.

      1. nippersdad

        If he was averse to discussing her e-mails with her in the room, what is the likelihood that he is going to want to talk about her behind her back? I would think that past performance would dictate he would tell the moderator that if he wanted a Hillary debate he should have invited her to attend and pivot to his usual talking points about how the media refuses to discuss the issues.

        At a Trump/Sanders debate his only opponent would be Sanders, and I think that would be enough of a handful for him.

    2. Solar Hero

      You’re describing exactly what the MSM did in all the Clinton-Sanders debates, and it didn’t work. Why do you think it would with a Trump-Sanders debate?

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        Trump will throw in references to Vince Foster’s murder, Bill Clinton raping, and more stuff that the MSM is too polite to mention. Trump will use the debate stage to say the stuff because if he just says it at a speech or interview, the MSM will neglect to even report it—they have already. Can’t ignore it at a debate with many tv viewers. Trump will throw out the very controversial ammo at the debates, whether with Bernie or head to head with Hill.

      2. Nick

        You’re absolutely right. It just seems as though the expectations are higher on this one, as if it would be different, and it won’t be. Or that’s at least what I suspect.

    3. Emma

      Nick – If Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie were still doing their comedy show, ‘A Bit of Fry & Laurie’, they’d mix a ‘Saucy Sanders over Trumptickle’ drink for their regular ‘Soupy Twist’ sketch. That way we’d all get a sense of good taste while Mr Trump would “Feel The Bern”!

    4. LizinOregon

      Yet he continues to do risky things that everyone says he shouldn’t and keeps winning primaries and rising in the polls. Is it possible that he truly doesn’t care about winning but instead is just determined to drive his message forward as long as he has the stage because he believes it matters? And is this why so many of us support him?

      1. Brindle

        Bernie is all about policies and the reality of conditions on the ground. Bernie comes across as a real person—Clinton not so much.

  5. voteforno6

    Re: Email Hairball

    Josh Marshall’s rationalization about Powell is even worse, when taken in context. When he first took office, the network at State was so rickety (even by 2001 standards), that emails could only be communicated internally. He had a PC with a commercial connection (and email address) on his desk, so he could communicate outside the department. He still used a State-provided computer for internal business. There was a process to obtain waivers at the time, which his staff did. Powell and his staff had a need for this setup, and they made a good-faith effort to abide by departmental regulations. Can either one of those statements be made about Clinton?

    On a side note, at what point does this subject get promoted from “Hairball”? What’s the next level – “Half-Eaten Hot Dog”?

    1. Buttinsky

      On a side note, at what point does this subject get promoted from “Hairball”? What’s the next level — “Half-Eaten Hot Dog”?

      Chicken bone.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      When we have the whole narrative, that is to say, on the 1st of Never.

      As a younger, but presumably more modern and even more feral, dynasty in the making, the Clintons have not adopted the more heirarchical, military/corporate campaign architecture that the more mature Bush dynasty has chosen. Rather, they have created a ginormous and ever-evolving hairball of tangled and conflicted personal and institutional relationships, a permanent campaign composed of the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Campaign, and Clintonland, the personal networks that both Clintons have accreted over the years of, er, “public service.”

    3. Darthbobber

      Another of many distinctions that Marshall of course slides over: Powell and Rice agreed to interviews as part of this investigation, distinguishing themselves from Clinton and Abedin, whose “cooperation” involved refusing to do that.

    4. Procopius

      Can either one of those statements be made about Clinton?

      Good question. Has anybody tried? Everything I read about IT used by our government indicated that it is (a) obsolete, (b) badly maintained, (c) overpriced. The IRS has quite a good website. I use it every year to check the status of my refund, and I always e-file the first day in January they accept returns because I’m retired and have no exotic deductions. I also use a preparer which offers free service to people like me. Several of the Defense Department related sites I have tried to use are terrible, although the outside contractor who handles retired pay has become pretty usable despite insane password requirements imposed by the government. From 1973-79 I was assigned to a very small Army agency whose mission was to evaluate and procure computer systems for the Army. We got microprocessor-based work processors in 1976 that used 8-inch floppy disks. I just saw an article that the Army agencies charged with monitoring our nuclear arsenal are still using 8-inch floppies. I’ll bet that costs them a bundle. I don’t think anybody else in the world uses them, so they must have to have them fabricated specially.

    1. alex morfesis

      well, onto the second inning…did I ever mention tying…that little rule that prevents banks from forcing you to take an option they are tied to…such as MERS…seems at closing, you are only offered two choices…MERS or no loan…

      it aint over till alex stops singing…there is so much more…

      but now that the regulators and promoters…i mean prosecutors, have done their best chicolini (who you gonna believe…me or your own eyes), it is on to round two…

      tying…look it up…so devastating…beyond sherman act issues…section 106

      and while we are at it…hello FTC…just two things…one…you know that mortgage insurance thingee…do you think maybe the average homeowner is not aware they can be sued by their own PMI for the benefit of the lender and for much more money then they signed up for…have a person who I know in Florida that had a 200 grand loan…with PMI..for 10%…hmmm…10 percent is 20 grand…so why did they go into court claiming the person owed 75 grand…

      also…FTC again…in all the states where lenders are allowed to do trust deed home financings…homeowners go in asking for a mortgage, and are refused a mortgage and handed a trust deed financing instead…small problem…in every trust deed state, it is quite possible to do a mortgage loan, just the entire industry refuses…so…false advertising and maybe a smidgen of anti trust activities…

      there is more…much more….

  6. ScottW

    The beauty of Hillary’s email debacle is that the caper is thoroughly documented–quite literally. For about 1,460 days, Hillary intentionally chose to use a private basement email server for all public and private correspondence. This is unprecedented. Each day, she could have decided to move over to a .gov, secure server, yet she did exactly what she wanted to do–use her own server. Even when State Dept. officials expressed opposition to her using a private server, they were shot down, lied to (State Dept. attys. did not approve the system) and told to shut up. This directive reflects Hillary’s leadership–or lack thereof.

    We must be careful not to let Hillary off the hook if she is not indicted. The Clintons’ lifeline, “we are victims of right-wing smears,” focuses on always claiming what is alleged is overblown, causing many to overlook the seriousness of what is actually proven. For example, Bill did not rape Monica, but he did abuse his position of power with an intern in exchange for sex on multiple occasions, while lying about it, sufficient reason for being thrown out of office and never again being let near the Oval Office.

    Hillary cannot unring the bell of violating State Dept. policy in operating a private email server. It is undisputed the server retained thousands of confidential documents, as well as 22 with top secret designation. It is undisputed her retention of public records after leaving office violated FOIA and other provisions. It should be uncontroversial concluding she should be stripped of her security clearance, as would any other government employee engaging in less serious conduct.

    Indictment, or not, Hillary’s conduct was intentional and reckless. It went on four years, extending after she left by secreting the private server from public and State Dept. view. Had Blumenthal not been hacked, we may never have found out she was using a private server. Clearly that was her intent. She constantly changed her stories about why she used the server and refused to cooperate in the Inspector General’s investigation. She is untruthful.

    This is a monumental issue and there is no way she should ever recover from it. Timber!

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Well, during campaign season, I find myself checking in on Morning Joe and they are crucifying her today. I don’t see how any candidate holds up to this kind of scorn and disapproval over anything longer than 10 days max.

      In a world where many of us have had to document every niggling detail in whatever we touch, a lot of us have learned that a good dose of Constant Transparency Habits can save your ass in a complex digital environment.

      I find Hillary’s behavior incredible.
      Her behavior evokes dark memories of the absolutely vile Dick Cheney — he of the ‘intel stove piping’ via creating alternate communications routes, in secrecy, with zero accountability. (And as if that weren’t bad enough, she hired his former underling Victoria Nuland, so … maybe her behavior does fit a pattern but it’s a damn creepy pattern.)

      I’m just shaking my head.
      I don’t want to watch this train wreck: it’s just hard to see someone who has worked so hard, for so long, commit this kind of self-inflicted damage. Gruesome.

      She seems to have been badly served by her staff.

        1. Pavel

          sleepy, I agree — that is one of the scariest aspects of an HRC presidency. Nuland is a real shocker.

          1. Procopius

            Yes. There’s no way she could have conducted her neo-nazi coup in Ukraine without the knowledge and approval of her superiors. Assistant Secretary. How many superiors does she have? Who promoted Victoria Nuland?

      1. Bob

        “She seems to have been badly served by her staff.”
        I agree with all you have written except this last sentence. It’s been well documented that staff brought up her email rule breaking and were told to get lost. It is not possible to tell Hillary (or Bill) that there are limits to what they can do. They are Clintons, and you, underling staff member, are not. I am certain that any additional attempts to approach or correct Hillary would result in dismissal.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          You make an excellent point, Bob.
          I think you are probably more accurate; I was trying to be gracious, but when it comes to the fact that other people with security clearances would probably be in prison over something like this — to say nothing of what has happened to whistleblowers! — I think that your view is more clear-eyed than mine on this point.


      2. sgt_doom

        And don’t forget Bush inner circle guy, Marc Grossman *** who just happens to be related to Bush as well.

        (And Nuland’s hubby, Robert Kagan, one of the founding members of PNAC.)

        ***Grossman was cited by Sibel Edmonds (who was gagged by DOJ under the Bush Administration) as being involved in the selling of nuclear secrets.

    2. RabidGandhi

      Back in 1998 I thought the Lewinsky scandal was a “slam dunk” (to borrow a fateful term). Here POTUS had been caught redhanded witness tampering and blatantly lying to a grand jury– not to mention the sexual harassment you pointed to. Plus the Repubs were screaming for Clinton blood. Well, as Lambert says the Clintons are lucky in their enemies, so the whole issue ended not in a conviction but rather in a win for Clinton Brand Identity Politics.

      I am really bearish on this slam dunk yielding any more fruit than the last one. There is 0 doubt about how conclusive the evidence is against HRC. But the hope for any type of conviction hinges on having faith in the US judicial system and on those in power being willing to offer up one of their own: two prospects I put 0 faith in

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Ding ding ding we have a winner, anyone who thinks the elite somehow have to answer for their crimes has not been paying very close attention recently, we’re in Jeffrey Sachs “Age of Impunity”. (Unless of course you steal a can of beans or resist a warrantless traffic stop search, that is).

      2. Darthbobber

        Just lucky in their enemies? Or also lucky that when these things come up their fortunes are so inextricably intertwined with other people’s interests that they can’t be thrown under the bus without dragging a lot of others with them? Back in the Whitewater days, they reminded me of the scene in Blazing Saddles where Sheriff Bart takes himself hostage.

    3. HotFlash

      Precisely. IDK how anyone can still promote HRC for *freakin’ President of the freakin’ United States* when she has been wrong on so many things, then “got better”. Umm, same-sex marriage (“evolved”), Iraq WMDs (ands all that that entailed — “mistake), private server for State Department correspondence (“mistake”). And Libya, Ukraine, Haita, Honduras — no apologies yet for them but wrong, wrong, wrong.

      So why are do so many people want to elect a person who *eventually* gets it right? Shouldn’t we have a chance to elect someone who got it right first time, every time? I am referring, of course, the Bernie.

      Superdelegates, I am looking at *you*.

    4. Pavel

      Scathing piece by the always-excellent Ray McGovern (ex-CIA analyst and now pacifist):

      State Department functionaries faced a hopeless task as they tried to spin their own Inspector General’s matter-of-fact critique of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s imperial attitude toward basic security measures everyone else is required by law to follow.

      It turns out that she deliberately chose to use a hacker-friendly, unprotected email server, and not so much for convenience – unless you define “convenience” as the ability to operate in total secrecy with no possibility of being held accountable for your policies or behavior. In one email to an aide, Clinton explained, “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”

      When some staffers had the temerity to voice concerns over the vulnerability of a non-governmental email system, they were warned by their seniors “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.” The IG report establishes that Clinton’s claim that her use of an insecure email system for official business had been “allowed” is, well, disingenuous.

      Pity the State Department spokespeople tasked with putting the best face on the IG’s stark criticism. Media representatives actually posed some direct questions to those applying the cosmetics, who showed themselves far more guilty than Socrates in “trying to make the worst case the better.” At several points, I sensed them wishing some hemlock came in their job jar.

      Read the rest (brief but brilliant) at: Washington’s Blog: Clinton’s Imperious Brush-off of Email Rules

      1. fresno dan

        The thing that drives me insane is that Hillary’s life is supposedly divided into two things only:
        A. Public governmental service
        B. Private philanthropic service

        Soooo….what are the big secrets – all those squillionaries who just don’t ((I would be soooo embarrassed if my rich friends knew what a squish I was for poor people! People can be SO disapproving – why aren’t you spending that money on premium polo pony feed!/?!!?)) want all their good works revealed???

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      And remember, if a Clinton says ‘turned over half of the emails,’ you should read that as ‘twenty percent.’

      It all depends on your definition of ‘half.’

    6. HotFlash

      I’m just shaking my head. I don’t want to watch this train wreck

      Unhm, yeah. My dear RoTL, my great fear is not watching, but being forced to participate. As in, wreckee.

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        True, dat.

        (Note to the DNC: me and my neighbors still have a long way to go before we max out to Bernie. Hillary will not get one cent. Ditto DNC or DCCC. Zilch.)

  7. Synoia

    The Jackpot – Binham in Norfolk

    Saxthorpe, closer to Norwich, has a 12 Century Church well outside the Village. The Black Death was so bad, that the Village, when it recovered, was build away form the old village and Church.

    The collapse of the population was so great that it destroyed the English Feudal system, and empowered the peasants so much that their labor became valuable. Reflect on this, and consider the great dying which comes with Climate Change.

    1. polecat

      “WEREAAALLGOOONNAAADIIE !!” ……….ummm….oh wait…

      …so does that mean I’ll have guaranteed job security……with benies….??

    2. Jagger

      The collapse of the population was so great that it destroyed the English Feudal system

      Reminds me of the great dying of the Native American population due to disease except an immune population was ready to colonize.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Firing pottery is both highly technical and energy intensive. I only read the article, but my question is, if your potters and coppicers died (both highly interactive professions) would that not also reduce ceramic product?

    1. JohnnyGL

      When I read “close” in polls in an open primary, I know it sometimes means double-digit Sanders blowout. See here, WI, WV. Indiana, to a lesser degree.

  8. RW Tucker

    Trump just reiterated in a press conference that he’d do the debate with Bernie if enough money was involved (for charity, one presumes from his comments last night).

    I imagine he’ll do it as long as Hillary is in the race. If she’s indicted by then, he’ll pass, because it’s likely Bernie would be the nominee at that point.

    1. hunkerdown

      Trump’s going to be debating Sanders anyway, at this rate.

      By all means, Mr. Trump, show us how to subscribe to this newsletter. I just put in another $27 for Bernie (and today’s costar, Russ Feingold (!)) and I’m feeling flush today. Those woman oligarch non-participants who live by Citizens Unhinged United…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Just when WaPo thought it had stuffed the Sanders/Trump debate toothpaste back in the tube, we get this from Time:

      Donald Trump said Thursday that he would “love to” debate Bernie Sanders, a day after discussing the prospects of a debate with the Democratic insurgent on a late night talk show.

      Trump laid out his conditions for a potential debate with Sanders, saying he would want it to raise “$10 million or $15 million for charity,” including women’s health issues, adding he would want to do it in a large arena. Trump’s high bar for the debate make such a meeting before the California primary highly unlikely, but Trump sees it as a win-win proposition, as it puts likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a bind. Clinton declined earlier this week to debate Sanders before the June 7 vote.

      That’s a high bar. And this from the Wall Street Journal:

      Asked on Thursday about whether he was serious, Mr. Trump said he was, but would want a television network to put up $10 million or more to host the event, which would be donated to charity.

      “I’d love to debate Bernie. He’s a dream,” he said at an afternoon press conference.

      If the Clinton camp agrees with Trump, and thinks Sanders would lose, then why don’t they support the idea?

        1. Lambert Strether

          Two options for the Clinton camp:

          1) Sanders wins, striking a huge blow against fascism, which is the most important goal of all. Right? Right?

          2) Sanders loses, clearing the board.

          Isn’t this a win-win situation for them, based on their professed goals?

          1. EmilianoZ

            3) Its a draw. Bernie and Trump remain civil to each other while both lambasting $hillary.

            That’s probably what Trump would want but I doubt Bernie would give him any guarantee. So, it aint gonna happen.

            Trump wants the disgruntled Bernie voter in November. He dangled a treat before them. And then took it away. The Bernie voter should be furious at that trick.

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              Two brawlers in an exhibition? For charity? I’d expect a certain bonhomie, which the msm will desperately try to spin.

              1. ambrit

                As with any sporting match, I’d be interested to find out who the Refs would be.

                1. aletheia33

                  The Young Turks have offered to put up $1 million and moderate the debate.

                  bernie supporters are offering contributions and it could take off.

                  ironically it seems maybe a lot of $$ could be donated by bernie supportings for the debate unfortunately instead of to the Sanders campaign…

                  OK if in addition to and not instead of, but these are not people with individually deep pockets

              2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                They will just both politely agree that if one of them can’t stop Hillary, the other promises to finish the job.

        2. JohnnyGL

          I have a feeling I know what Bernie’s next fundraising email blast is going to look like :)

          Can the proceeds go to the Clinton Foundation??? :) They do so much good work in the world!!!

    3. HotFlash

      Maybe funding an exit poll in CA and ? At least a little bit?

      Veterans, women’s health, OK! Lotsa a good causes.

        1. ambrit

          Are you by any chance referring to the ‘Om-poll-os?’ That navel that politicians refer to, the key and keystone to HC’s world view?

  9. fresno dan

    “1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility” [Nature]. “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.”

    Research is a job, and like most jobs your boss is more concerned with moving the crap than quality.
    I have linked to this (Richard Feynman) time and again, just because it is so illustrative of humans – why do it right when its easier to do it wrong….


    its a long article, but do a word search for “rats” and you see a great example of “easy and wrong” trumps “difficult and correct” every time…

    1. optimader



      I have watched, and re-watch these periodically. Often just running them in the background when at the computer..
      RF was a magnificent thinker. And beyond any of the subject content, which is fascinating, I re-watch these absorb his elegant ability to explain concepts.. Magnificent. the Feynman Physic lectures are a gold standard.


      ..and Tufte is no slouch

        1. Isolato

          or Einstein

          As Albert Einstein said in response to a 1931 book skeptical of relativity theory entitled 100 Authors against Einstein, “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.”

          I had the great privilege of meeting RF as a freshman at Caltech and studying his Lectures on Physics with their wonderfully childlike curiosity.

      1. Dugh

        Thanks! Always love a good Feynman “chat”. I really enjoy Leonard Susskind’s physics lecture series. They’re on the Stanford YouTube channel but are more consolidated and accessible on his website, The Theoretical Minimum. Like Feynman, he’s an excellent, enjoyable explainer of complicated subject matter.


  10. optimader

    “If gender is fluid, what about race and age?”
    higher level: Genus/Species? Organic/Inorganic?

    Which reminds me of the old joke about the man that was being treated for Species Dysphonia, as he though he was a Mouse.

    Consistent with his delusion he also behaved like a Mouse.

    Scurrying along the wall in hallways and rooms, looking for little spots to tuck himself into, being nocturnal, sleeping in the garage during the day in a little nest he made, eating cheese and so forth..

    After a protracted term of therapy, the man finally arrived for a session at the psychiatrist office and came around to conceding his delusion..
    The man exclaimed “I understand now, today I woke up to the realization that I am a man not a mouse.”

    The psychiatrist probed,” so now that you realize you are a man, do you feel confident that you can go go home and resume a normal life?”

    Man: “Well I suppose, yes, I guess so.. but I am a little nervous about the Cat, do you think the Cat also realizes today that I am not a mouse?”

    and so it goes when you start swimming against the current of reality..

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here’s another one:

      Scientists are doing an experiment where they run rats through a maze.

      So one day one of the rats gets tired of the stupid, and builds a tiny ladder, so they can climb up it and see the entire maze from above, including the quickest route to the food pellet, or whatever the incentive might be.

      “Hmm. A defective rat!” says one of the scientists. And has the animal “sacrificed” at once.

      1. optimader

        “Hmm. A defective rat!” says one of the scientists. And has the animal “sacrificed” at once. –>Douglas Adams worthy..

        Harris cartoon “Then a Miracle Occurs.. ”
        Good starter slide for many sorts of presentations..

      2. Andy

        That’s what Farmers and Ranchers say about the cattle that learn to jump the fences.
        Sell them off or slaughterhouse.

    2. jsn

      So I’m talking to my shrink about my crazy brother in law, he scrambles around the yard buck naked eating insects without using his hands, my shrink says “are you doing anything to help him?” I say, “unfortunately no, I need the eggs!”

    3. cwaltz

      The people who are swimming against the current of reality are the ones who insist that it is solely the X or Y chromosome that make us male or female. The Y chromosome is simply the beginning of a complex process. It’s main contribution is the SRY gene that is supposed to start a gene cascade. Needless to say they’ve found that sometimes a female has that gene or sometimes a male who has that gene has one that has not functioned properly or during the cascade process sometime and somewhere the sequencing gets off. That’s why gender is now considered more as a spectrum then the binary process we once thought it to be.


      1. ambrit

        That could be why the government, ably led by the DoD, is h–l bent on implementing “full spectrum dominance” as a global strategy.

  11. voteforno6

    Re: Trump – Sanders Debate

    I really don’t understand the pearl-clutching of the Clintonistas.

    – Trump could duck it, and Sanders would run around calling him a chicken (which they’re already doing). Presumably that would help Clinton as well.
    – Trump could thrash Sanders, which helps Clinton, by diminishing Sanders.
    – Sanders could thrash Trump, which also helps Clinton. (“See, he got beat by our B team!”)

    I thought that the Clintonistas were supposed to be the realistic, politically-savvy ones in this election.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am not sure.

      Sanders could end up looking like the Romans rushing into Cannae.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Except the wings aren’t controlled by a single general, Hannibal, but by two generals, and from “nations” that are culturally at odds with each other and unlikely to collaborate, and where each general staff is riven by infighting. Imagine a Cannae where the Romans split the center instead of being enveloped.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Interesting reference. Had to look it up.

        Sanders already over-committed to winning the NY primary. Spent a lot of time and money there. That primary was tightly closed and NY has a history of low-turnout due to heavy voting restrictions. This was combined with mass disappearances of long-existing voters to really compound the problem.

        He should have tried to do more in the other mid-Atlantic states. It seems like DeBlasio, Schneiderman, and camp Clinton laid a trap for him.

    2. Pavel

      Hmm… my take would be that Team Clinton would fear that Sanders would do so well against Trump (how hard is that?) that the Dem voters would say “Let’s go with Bernie!

      It’s not as though HRC has really wowed the voters thus far–not to mention the latest email problems.

    3. sid_finster

      I think Team D doesn’t want Sanders to get any attention from anyone, ever, anywhere or for any reason.

  12. Unorthodoxmarxist

    Can we work to end the phrase “bloated public sector” once and for all? I understand it’s a journalistic metaphor of “capitalism good/public bad” and all, but what if we all started to use “bloated private sector” in articles about countries where the neoliberals have sold off or cut public industries? Wouldn’t it feel good to turn the tables on ideological justifications for capitalism?

  13. hunkerdown

    Age: As the old joke goes:

    [MAN hands WOMAN a stack of chips.]
    MAN: Why don’t you bet your age on the roulette table?
    [WOMAN places chips on 29. Wheel spins, ball stops on 36. WOMAN faints.]

    Race: Widespread “Cherokee blood”, if Rachel Dolezal weren’t enough.

    So I think it’s fair to say that the identity catalogue codes are no longer honest signals of much but one’s dedication to Liberal values (such as aspiration for its own sake), of no more utility to others than the Claire’s charm bracelets they wish were mandatory ID cards, mere Diogenes’ coinage.

    It seems an opportune weekend to pick The Reification of Desire: Toward a Queer Marxism back up. Even in the face of the Archdruid issuing a curiously bourgeois homework assignment.

  14. RabidGandhi

    “Historian uncovers ‘eye watering’ scope of Black Death devastation”

    What’s the over/under on this technique being used to calculate the population decrease in the Americas subsequent to the European invasions?

    1. Banana Breakfast

      Without getting into the archaeological nitty gritty of the technique, it’s effective in this case because the scope is very limited. The largest scale attempts at similar demographic estimates would be from large, full coverage surveys like the Valley of Mexico survey done by Parsons, Blanton, and their collaborators and students in the 60s and 70s, and the Chifeng survey done by Drennan and Linduff and the ongoing series of supplementary surveys they and their students have been doing for the last 15 odd years.

      In some places, those kinds of surveys would be very workable, and many have been done in Mexico, Peru, and Colombia especially. In some places, as in Colombia, ground cover makes the work much more difficult and requires workarounds. In other places, modern built environment precludes full coverage. In still other places, soil build up makes surface survey virtually impossible. In the US and Canada, the costs of doing such surveys are much too high for the very limited budgets involved in research archaeology. And finally, of course, the scale of the undertaking, to get an idea of all the people living in the enormously varied and vast environments of the American continents, would vastly overshadow all the archaeological research that has ever been done, and put into the shade by some margin all the archaeology that’s likely to be done as long as we and those who remember our names live on the Earth.

      So the over/under is…low? That’s not how over/under works but hey

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump starting trade wars.

    Not sure about the part about ‘starting,’ if we are already being warred on, from within and withoutt.

    Of course, the rich have been conducting neoliberal ‘police actions,’ without the consent of the people, on many countries for many, many years now.

  16. Kim Kaufman

    “Historian uncovers ‘eye watering’ scope of Black Death devastation” [Red Orbit]. ”

    I honestly think some of the “powers that be” hope this will happen again and solve the problem of “what to do with the 90%” that they don’t want to give up their ill-gotten gains for.

  17. Pepe Aguglia

    are we really looking at Presidential timber, here?

    Yes, albeit timber of the Kesha variety:
    [Hil’s] goin’ down, I’m yelling ‘Timber’….

  18. Teejay

    It wasn’t until after the Nevada caucuses that I realized how far Josh Marshall has veered right with several melodramatic headlines: Sanders: Throws Down the Gauntlet, Flirts with Going Full ‘Burn It Down’, It Comes From the Very Top. None of which had the resonance of truth or accuracy to me. Long on emotion short on substance. He did some fine work on the Plame/Libby story which makes this all the more suprising. I won’t be confusing him with Anthony Lewis anytime soon.

    1. armchair

      As an armchair connoisseur of great work on the web, I drifted away from TPM, long ago. I wish there was a way to have more discussion about the Web that was, and the trajectory of sites over time. I found some old Billmon in some kind of an archived web. Ah, the memories. After Billmon, the TPM reporting came on the scene and really fired things up. I learned so much from TPM. I learned about yellow-cake, stove-piping and c-grade Italian publishing. Once Judy Miller had done her time, the story lost its punch, and the drift started. That was a long time ago. It is hard not to theorize that Marshall had some A-grade sources, at the time, and has never really duplicated that stunning period. I guess it worked out for him, but I think he would be more legendary if he had closed it down like Billmon. I always thought of Marshall as someone who could have worked at the New Republic back in the ancient times.

  19. jawbone

    “Slithery Hillary.”

    I came across a commenter who used this description and now I cannot get it out of my mind. Good rhyme, awful image. But, since seeing it, it reinforces my tendency to look closely for the weasel words she tends to use. Very lawyerly wording.

    I can’t always remember the house Harry Potter was assigned to, but I can’t forget Slitherin. It captures the kind of personalities in that house.

    Ah, just looked up the names — Harry was in Gryffindor

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Lol, I can’t read Gryffindor without hearing that hat who chooses the different houses for the young wizards…


      1. Teejay

        Hamilton Jordan had a WSJ piece after the Mark Rich pardon “The First Grifters”.

  20. Dale

    Gender is a widely misused word today. People use it to mean sex (i.e., a classification as male or female), when in fact gender is a linguistic term referring to the way that nouns are grouped in languages that group nouns in this way. English doesn’t have gender, so it is not surprising that Americans don’t understand the true meaning of the word. In the foreign languages that Americans are most familiar with, French and Spanish, there are two genders, referred to as masculine and feminine. But German and Russian have three, and there exist languages that have more than that, with the record being eight, I believe. Gender is definitely not the same as sex.

    1. Buttinsky

      Merriam-Webster online offers as its second definition of gender (after the grammatical one):

      a : sex
      b : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

      English grammar, by the way, does possess gender. Not only in personal pronouns (he/him, she/her), and in personified objects (ships are often “her”), but also in the choice of relative pronouns. “The man who came to dinner.” “The book that [or which] fell off the table.” This distinction between animate and inanimate is, grammatically, gender.

  21. cybrestrike

    Josh Marshall, John Avarosis, Rachel Maddow, Johnathan Capehart, Ezra Klein, Charles Blow, Eugene Robinson, Joan Walsh etc…lots of pundits who drank the Clinton Kool-Aid or got assimilated by the Neoliberal Borg Collective.

    1. Pavel

      This. Especially Rachel Maddow (I confess I don’t encounter the others that often).

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      John Cole as well over at Balloon Juice. Dude was frothing at the mouth when Clinton didn’t drop out in 08, and now it’s the same with Bernie.

      The half-life of #ChairGate WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN!

  22. steelhead23

    I wonder what Tommy Chong thought of Sanders’ support of recreational cannabis during the speech to which Tommy was disinvited. Non sequitor?

    1. RabidGandhi

      Dixit Chong:

      “It’s lip service to get the votes, but they don’t want to endorse what I stand for and what I’ve stood for all my professional career,” Chong said right after he was uninvited to the rally. “It was an insult.”

      1. ambrit

        Why was he ‘disinvited?’ Who disinvited him? Was he going to wear a “Vote for That Woman” tee shirt? There isn’t enough context to make sense of it all. As a political calculation, are the California Democratic Party ‘Adults in the Room’ all so far in bed with the Prison Industrial Complex that they can taste what their paramours had for lunch yesterday? I’m assuming here, always a danger fraught process, that Sanders’ campaign is trying very hard not to nudge any ‘Rice Bowls.’

  23. afisher

    Is it 11 or 12 States that are suing PBO over transgender. I’ve ignored this long enough because most people seem to not know that 1:2000 children are born with both sets of external genitalia. The physician is the person who most often makes the decision about which external organs remain. Perhaps they base it on discussions with the parent.
    The point being – I doubt that 1:2000 citizens are transgender- but let’s not forget this exists.

    Part of the article is about suing – but the point is that some transgender may indeed be part of this cohort.


    1. Massinissa

      “The physician is the person who most often makes the decision about which external organs remain. Perhaps they base it on discussions with the parent.”

      Usually they decide based on how big the penis is at birth. If its under a certain type they cut out the balls.Always seemed kind of arbitrary to me, but thats the usual rule of thumb they use. Or at least, thats what they used to do: Its more common these days to just wait until puberty to operate.

      Also the word youre thinking of is ‘Intersex’. Its a completely different animal from transgender/transsexual.

      1. Jason

        The biological separation between the sexes is also far from being as clear cut as conventional wisdom would like to pretend.

        In 1976, researchers from the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London published the puzzling case of a woman who had two different blood types: 93 percent of her red cells were type O, while the remaining 7 percent were type A1, the most common type A subgroup. A few years later, Winifred Watkins of the MRC Clinical Research Centre and colleagues came across another blood donor with two distinct red blood cell types, and further investigation led to an even more astonishing finding: a phenotypically normal man, with presumably XY cells in his testes and most of his body, was found to carry XX cells in his skin and other tissues.


      2. cwaltz

        I don’t believe it IS a completely different animal than transgender. Nor does the medical community. It’s their opinion that even though someone may have male DNA and male sex organs that they can indeed have differences in their brains that cause them to identify as female.


        I think one of the reasons the medical community has suggested that transgender people be allowed to transition is because rewiring a brain is much harder than altering the physical appearance at this time. It’s easier to make the body conform to the brain’s reality.

    2. cwaltz

      They may not be “transgender” but they are intersex. That means they don’t fit in the male box or the female box in entirety. The scientific community suggests as much as 1% of the population classifies as intersex(non binary) rather than cisgender and yes, transgender is a subset included in this.

  24. Darthbobber

    Didn’t see this NYT piece on the links or water cooler, so I thought I’d toss it in here. The headline doesn’t fully reflect the article, because the author alternates the Clinton campaign spin with point-by-point rebuttals of each individual piece of spin. The mainstream press on certain issues takes a break from its general Clinton support and often hits pretty hard. Because something in how team Clinton handles such matters has always sat ill with journalists of all stripes.

  25. Darthbobber

    Marshall doesn’t seem that proud of his email defense. Or I would find it frontpaged prominently.

  26. PQS

    Thanks for “How the Internet Works”. Very informative – loved all the photos. And I’ve actually been inside data centers for telecom before….I read it to my 11-yo so she knows where all the cute animal pictures come from and how they get here: very boring looking coax cable. I think it’s important for kids to see the very basics.

  27. inode_buddha

    Just got an email from Sanders campaign. They say they are within 2 points of Clinton in Calif., and request further help. I would dearly love to but I only have 1.91 in checking….

  28. inode_buddha

    Hrmm, seems my last couple posts disappeared; dunno why, they were well within the guidelines AFAIK so I guess its just software. Anyways, to repeat:….

    Just got email from the Sanders campaign, saying they are within 2 points of Clinton in Calif.; and asking for help….. bummed out that I only have 1.91 in checking, can’t help much right now….. glad Sanders is doing well tho!

  29. fresno dan


    For the connoisseur of sociopolitical absurdity, the last few weeks’ worth of news cycles very nearly defines the phrase “target-rich environment.” I note, for example, that arch-neoconservative Robert Kagan—the founder of the Project for a New American Century and principal architect of this nation’s idiotically bloodthirsty Middle East policies, a man who never met a body bag he didn’t like—has jumped party lines to endorse Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions.

    Under other conditions I’d wonder if Kagan had decided to sandbag Clinton’s hopes, using a lethal dose of deadpan satire to point out that her policy stances are indistinguishable from those of George W. Bush: you know, the guy that so many Democrats denounced as evil incarnate just eight short years ago. Unfortunately, nothing so clever seems to be in the works. Kagan seems to be quite sincere in his adulation for Clinton. What’s more, his wife Victoria Nuland, a Hillary Clinton protegé in the State Department and a major player in the Obama administration’s pursuit of Cold War brinksmanship against Russia, is now being rumored as Clinton’s most likely pick for Secretary of State.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the logic and consistency in political analysis does not match sports commentary – in which the only thing that matters is he/she is on our team. Don’t bother me with whether she voted for the Iraqi war….all is forgiven.
    And you know, Hillary gets to make mistakes – its just that what caused her to make a mistake doesn’t seem to have changed at all….

    1. Cry Shop

      Almost as bad as the jobs in the semi-conductor plants that build those solar “clean machine” panels, the workers are exposed all day to toxic chemicals, then go to sleep in either dorms or homes which take in the toxic waters, air and food from the environment so contaminated.

      ….. The vast majority of the workers described … died from their illnesses before receiving any government recourse. No laws have been changed mandating an alteration of production processes as a result of these rulings, and no preventative measures have been put in place to ensure that workers are no longer exposed to the chemicals that are causing these fatal injuries.

      All so consumerist can continue to feed the oligarchy’s wealth concentration machine with untroubled by guilt, absolved and cleansed.

  30. Cry Shop

    Delta buys Bombardier’s CS100s, …. Ending the Airbus/Boeing duopoly.
    Not quite. The order is more a case of bad news for Embraer, Mitsubishi, etc.

    Clinton Emails / Normalized Corruption
    No one in the oligarchy seems to be too upset that Team Hill-Billy were so open and abusive in their use of public power for private gain, ala $16 M in compensation from Soros owned Laureate Education, Hill-Billy shilled for Soros, using the State Dept to give a non-academic seal of approval. There must be a lot of this going on in the emails, but it’s become so common at that level that the Inspectorate General of the State Dept has normalized standards of behavior to it. The rest of the oligarchy are watching the trial balloon float away un-popped, so and the spiral of corruption is going to start spinning even faster.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    1. ambrit

      I’m sorely tempted to begin referring to H Clinton and ‘fellow travelers’ as the “Ancien Regime Americain.”

  31. inode_buddha

    Well, this is weird: turns out that Anonymous has a sub-group that is analyzing the stock market and keeping companies honest by publishing the actual dirt on them instead of simply wiping them off the net… one of them was (is) Western Union…. linky to the article on slashdot, they have further reading


    Maybe this will start to change the SEC’s game a bit? Dunno, not a subject matter expert.

  32. Jim Haygood

    It’s over: even the Saddam’s WMDs paper, an official member of the Hillary campaign since its Jan 31st endorsement, has turned on her:

    Contrary to Mrs. Clinton’s claims that the department had “allowed” the arrangement, the inspector general also found that she had not sought or received approval to use the server.


    As Judge Napolitano pointed out, what the IG’s report establishes is explicit intent on Hillary’s part to evade public records and FOIA laws.

    Intent isn’t even necessary in an espionage prosecution. But it is an element in ongoing civil FOIA suits, in which Judge Sullivan took the unusual step of authorizing depositions owing to apparent “bad faith” by Clinton and her aides.

    Their refusal to cooperate with the inspector general’s investigation shows yet more bad faith.

    What sociopaths like Hillary never understand is why their “friends” gleefully turn on them, as soon as they feel secure in doing so. Spend a lifetime screwing people, and they’ll bite back given the opportunity.

    Not only does the steatopygous empress have no clothes; the peasants are intent on sheathing her in tar and feathers. Got firewood? :-)

    1. Jason

      It’s going to be an option, all right. Right there on the ballot, between Russian roulette with a semi-automatic and drinking hemlock.

    2. Cry Shop

      Obama says climate change is real, and makes the Paris Climate deal to do nothing, originally pushed the Keystone XL pipeline and hire fracking queen Sec. of Int. Sally Jewel, opened the Gulf and Arctic to oi/gas and made measure that did nothing but take credit for market changes that forced “temporary” reductions already under way. Great self-awareness; if you want to believe what people say and not what they do, can I come visit you with a few bridges and buildings to sell?

      so does it really matter what they say, both Hill-Billy and The Hair may do evil, but at least one of them has a good chance of to tearing apart the system enough that there might be hope of change. But you say lets keep doing evil that makes neo-liberals happy and profitable. Thanks a lot.

      1. Jason

        at least one of them has a good chance of to tearing apart the system enough that there might be hope of change

        Proof positive that Lincoln was right. You absolutely can fool some of the people, all of the time.

        Trump is a gatecrasher, not a revolutionary. He wants to change who’s on top of the pyramid, not get the nation out of the whole pyramid game. And if you think things are so awful that burning it all down is the way to go, keep in mind that some of us have to try to live here, and kindly start with self-immolation.

      2. aumua

        Not saying Obama’s good. I am saying that I can’t vote for Trump or Clinton. Jason up there gets it, although I personally see more logic in the “Trump’s more likely to derail the system completely” rationale than he does.

        I still can’t vote for him.

    3. aab

      I do. Because Hillary would basically do the exact same thing. Her biggest donors are fossil fuel companies.

      Keeping Clinton out of office is a necessary first step to purge Clintonism and neoliberalism out of the Democratic Party, which has to happen for any positive change to occur.

  33. Another Anon

    Regarding the article “Has a Hungarian Physics Lab Found a Fifth Force of Nature?”
    Yves, I did not know that you let yourself be discovered by some Hungarian scientists.

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