2:00PM Water Cooler 6/1/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“When it comes to agriculture and food safety issues, TTIP negotiations are rapidly running into the ground. We have known for some time about the huge disparity in negotiating positions and the complete incompatibility of the “red lines” of the United States and the EU: from the EU’s determination to protect its Geographical Indication labels such as feta cheese in the US, to the American interest in the EU eliminating defensive tariffs for sensitive products in which the US has an enormous economic competitive advantage, such as beef” [TTIP]. “What is revealing are unintentional references to issues of conflict which confirm what we have suspected all along: that the EU is willing to make more concessions, particularly on SPS issues, than they are publicly willing to state.”

For instance, when the Commission changed the rules on acceptable washes of beef carcasses for hygiene purposes, to allow for lactic acid treatments, they insisted there was no connection to trade agreements. However, in the annex to this document, under “recent steps taken to solve SPS [“Sanitary and Phytosanitary,” see here at NC]. concerns”, the Commission lists “Approved lactic acid for beef carcass decontamination” – just as we always said was the case. Lactic acid treatments were designed to clear the way for TTIP. Similarly, the document shows that the Commission has opened the door to the possibility of allowing “the use of peroxyacetic acid for the reduction of bacterial contamination during the processing of carcasses and meat of poultry”. So much for their insistence that “Nor would the EU make any change to its food safety law”, stated elsewhere in the document.

This is very good, and I wonder if a similar process is taking place in the US.

“TiSA undermines COP21 action says analysis of leaked annex on Energy” [PSI]. “‘TiSA recycles ideas proposed by Enron and Halliburton back in 2005 – and rejected then by U.S. negotiators. The proposal that energy regulations must be technology-neutral is an attempt to insulate fossil fuel industries from changes in climate policy,’ warns international trade expert Professor Robert Stumberg from the Georgetown University Law School, in Washington.” A zombie infestation!

“‘We need to be in the EU in order to beat TTIP'” Ergo, no Brexit [OpenDemocracy]. Speech on Brexit from a former head of the British Greens.


The Voters

“Trump has taught me to fear my fellow Americans” [Richard Cohen, WaPo]. ” I always knew who Trump was. It’s the American people who have come as a surprise.”

“Trump’s support, as Nate Silver has shown, is not comprised only of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. On average, they earn above-average incomes and boast education levels that also exceed the national average. Some are professionals and merchants on Main Street, who acutely ride the ups and downs of the tangible economy. These voters may also be susceptible to rants about Mexican “rapists” and certainly would not favor a massive incursion of Muslim refugees. But their primary concerns are economic, not social. If they really favored regressive social policies, Ted Cruz was their man” [Real Clear Politics]. “Clinton faces a difficult situation. Ever more dependent on her party’s post-industrial urban core, she will be hard-pressed to moderate her stance on environmental issues,” including coal-fired electricity and fracking.


UPDATE “Since Malloy’s first successful run for governor in the 2010 election cycle, donors from the insurance companies and the lobbying firm have given more than $2 million to Malloy-linked groups, according to the figures compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine and the National Institute on Money In State Politics. Almost half that cash has come in since 2015, the year the [Anthem-Cigna] merger was announced” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. “While prominent politicians such as Hillary Clinton have warned about potential negative consequences of the merger, Malloy — a top Clinton surrogate set to co-chair the national Democratic Party’s platform committee — has not called for Wade to recuse herself from the matter.” Well, well, well. I wonder if Malloy has different views on Medicare for All from, say, National Nurses United?

The Trail

UPDATE “In a Quinnipiac University poll released today, 45 percent of voters said they would vote for Clinton, while 41 percent favor Trump” [Yahoo News].

“Trump Finally Reveals Veterans Donations, Explodes over Calls for Transparency” [Nonprofit Quarterly]. ” [That Trump’s] exhibition of philanthropy [for Veterans was] badly managed and ridiculously defended against public scrutiny should be terrifying to people working in this sector. It indicates disrespect for philanthropy and transparency that is mindlessly deep and uninformed.” Ouch! Then again, I found myself nodding my head at the detail, until I remembered (a) the utter dysfunction at non-profits, plural, where I have worked and (b) that the nonprofit sector as a whole is deeply intertwingled with the donor class as well as both parties. So it’s not like they’re standing about the fray, here.

UPDATE “‘Donald Trump to visit UK on day of EU referendum result” [Guardian]. On June 24, to officially open Turnberry golf resort.

UPDATE “National Nurses United Endorses Teachout for Congress” [Zephyr Teachout]. Sorry about the press release, but this is actually news, since Clinton oddly, or not, has conspicuously failed to endorse her.

UPDATE Democrat loyalist Joy Ann Reid gives Kristol’s unknown pick for President immediate attention:

Catch Reid doing that for Jill Stein! Proof, if more proof were needed, that for liberals the real enemy is not Trump, but the left.

“The 185,000-strong nurses union threatens unrest at July’s presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia” [Wall Street Journal, “Nurses Seek Democratic Showdown”]. NNU is serious, unlike (say) SEIU.

Clinton Email Hairball

“How Clinton can own her email scandal” [The Hill]. Essentially, Clinton should be saying not that Colin Powell did it — “those explanations have always been wack” — but that there’s no security to be had anywhere, because look at all the hacking! “If anything, she opens up a new, fairly noble front and a way for average people to start seriously talking about cybersecurity — which is something we should be doing, anyway.” Well, maybe. (I like the use of “The Beltway Adverb” in “fairly noble.”)

“Bernie Sanders keeps repeating his biggest mistake of the campaign” [Chris Cilizza, WaPo]. “For the bajillionth time in this campaign, Bernie Sanders was asked over the weekend about the ongoing FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s decision to exclusively use a private email server during her time as secretary of state. And, for the bajillionth time, Sanders took a hard pass on the question.” Stirring the pot!

‘Hillary’s fibs or lack of candor are all about bad judgments she made on issues that will not impact the future of either my family or my country. Private email servers? Cattle futures? Goldman Sachs lectures? All really stupid, but my kids will not be harmed by those poor calls. Debate where she came out on Iraq and Libya, if you will, but those were considered judgment calls, and if you disagree don’t vote for her” [The Moustache of Understanding, New York Times]. You tell ’em, Tommy! Who cares about corruption? Corruption had nothing to do with Iraq!

UPDATE “A top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined last week to answer questions from private lawyers about the setup of her email server, citing her subsequent role as Mrs. Clinton’s attorney” [Wall Street Journal, “Clinton Aide Declines To Answer Questions About Email Server Setup”]. Cheryl Mills. Not a good look.

“Where is President Obama in all this? So far he has largely stayed out of the campaign, other than to say that he doesn’t believe Mrs. Clinton compromised national security with her home-brew email server. But with her poll numbers dropping, her legal headaches increasing, the Sanders candidacy showing renewed vigor, and Donald Trump looming as a wrecking ball for the president’s legacy, Mr. Obama and adviser Valerie Jarrett might begin sending signals to the Democratic National Committee and to the vice president that a Biden rescue operation wouldn’t displease the White House” [Wall Street Journal, “Clinton Might Not Be the Nominee”]. But “Valerie Jarrett might begin sending signals” jibes well with today’s “The White House Is Terrified the Clinton Campaign “Is in Freefall.'”

Prolegomena to gaming things out: (1) In a way, the outcome of the Clinton Email Hairball, whatever it may be, will be an instance of “The Party Decides.” For example: There are some forms of cancer that cannot be removed without killing the patient. The Clinton network may have metastatized too much for treatment. In which case, “eat, drink, and be merry.” For Clinton to be removed: (2)(a) somebody will have to take her aside and explain. Under Nixon, that role was performed by a delegation led by Barry Goldwater. Perhaps Democrat insiders like John Podesta, who has a power base independent from the Clinton campaign, or Nancy Pelosi, who has not yet endorsed, could play a similar role. (2)(b) The White House would have to send a strong enough signal, through Valerie Jarrett. (Remember that Obama’s inner circle is very small.) (2)(b)(i) Although Obama is a lame duck, he retains power over Loretta Lynch, even though Lynch is a long-time loyalist (see page 44). He also retains the power to pardon. He also retains the affection and loyalty of a large part of the Democrat base. And he has his library to think of. (3) No matter what Obama does: (a) the FBI leadership and Judicial Watch are independent power sources, and (b) the worker bees at State and FBI are really fed up and ticked off with Clinton (and for good reason). (4) No matter what Clinton does: She will retain the affection and loyalty of a large part of her own base. (I remember vividly, though possibly not correctly, WaPo’s coverage of the Iowa 2008 caucus, which Clinton unexpectedly lost to Obama, where the young punk reporter mocked some older women sitting sadly in an empty high school auditorium, mourning their loss, and thinking “something’s not right, here.”) (5) “You can’t beat something with nothing.” If Clinton is to be removed, there has to be a candidate willing to replace her at the top of the ticket; #NeverTrump was a fiasco because nobody (credible) could be found. I think if the party decides on Biden, they will be in a lot more trouble than they bargained for. And Kerry’s a loser. So who? (6) The formal way for the party to decide is for Clinton delegates, pledged and unpledged, to vote against her. Who’s going to be the first delegate* to do that? (7) Nobody normal pays attention to the election before Labor Day. So the Democrat Party still has time to change course. But not a lot, especially if they go with a dark horse (like, say Sherrod Brown) and have to introduce them to voters. (8) The obvious face-saving maneuver for everyone is for Clinton to “discover” a previously unknown medical condition, and decide to spend more time with her family. There’s probably more to be said… This is an overly dynamic situation! (Oh, and: (9) Sanders had better not go up in any small planes. I cannot imagine the party deciding in his favor.)

* I’m picturing Howard Dean, fulfilling a lifetime of enmity toward Sanders by conspicuously not supporting him in his announcement (and nobody in this this year’s ridiculous crop novices, flakes, and straws, either).

Stats Watch

PMI Manufacturing Index, May 2016: “Markit Economics’ U.S. manufacturing sample continues to report nearly dead flat conditions…. Production is in outright contraction for the first time in 6-1/2 years as growth in new orders is as slow as it’s been all year” [Econoday]. “Export orders posted a marginal drop while total backlog orders are also down. The sample, however, increased hiring in an anomaly that won’t likely last given the weakness in orders. Efforts to slow inventory accumulation contributed to the decline in production.”

ISM Mfg Index, May 2016: “A slowing in delivery times gave a lift to the ISM’s manufacturing index which rose 5 tenths to a higher-than-expected but still subdued 51.3 for May” [Econoday]. “Focusing on orders is essential to understand this report — and new orders are solid and export orders are the highest they’ve been since November 2014. For a factory sector that has been barely above water, the ISM offers a welcome indication of health.”

Construction Spending, April 2016: “A major downturn for construction spending in April is offset to a large degree by a major upward revision to the prior month” [Econoday]. “Construction had been at the very top of this year’s economy though this report takes the sector down a notch. But when looking exclusively at housing and excluding the downbeat trend for business investment, the news is still very positive.” And: “The headlines say construction spending slowed, and was well below expectations. The backward revisions make this series wacky – but the rolling averages declined” [Econintersect].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of May 27, 2016: “Mortgage activity slowed in the May 27 week, with purchase applications for home mortgages falling 5 percent and refinancing 4 percent” [Econoday]. “Despite the weekly decline, the purchase index is a towering 28 percent higher than it was a year ago.”

Leading Indices: ” Leading Index Review: April 2015 Philly Fed Leading Index Forecasts Marginal Slowing In Rate of Growth” [Econintersect]. “This post is a review of all major leading indicators follows – and no leading index is particularily strong. The leading indicators are to a large extent monetary based. Econintersect’s primary worry in using monetary based methodologies to forecast the economy is the current extraordinary monetary policy which may (or may not) be affecting historical relationships. This will only be known at some point in the future.”

GDP: “The Second Estimate of our 1st Quarter GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicated that our real output of goods and services grew at a 0.8% rate in the 1st quarter, revised up from the 0.5% growth rate reported in the advance estimate last month, as residential investment was revised higher, growth in private inventory investment decreased less than was previously estimated, and exports were down less than had previously been reported” [Economic Populist]. “Real consumption of durable goods fell at a 1.2% annual rate, which was revised from a 1.6% drop in the advance report, and subtracted 0.09 percentage points from GDP, as a drop in consumption of automobiles at a 11.5% rate more than offset an increase at a 9.3% rate of in real consumption of recreational goods and vehicles, while growth in consumption of other durable goods was down as well. Real consumption of nondurable goods by individuals rose at a 1.3% annual rate, revised from the 1.0% increase reported in the 1st estimate, and added 0.18 percentage points to 1st quarter economic growth, as higher consumption of food and energy goods more than offset a small decrease in consumption of clothing. At the same time, consumption of services rose at a 2.6% annual rate, with all categories of services contributing to that growth.”

Banking: Handy diagram of SWIFT-related hacks:

Rather a lot?

Shipping: “‘We need to demolish an enormous number of ships’: Philippe Louis-Dreyfus” [Splash247].

Shipping: “Cargo volumes at the two largest ports in the East fell back in April, a fresh sign that retailers are stepping back from restocking amid continuing high inventory levels, WSJ Logistics Report’s Robbie Whelan writes. Loaded imports at the Port of New York and New Jersey were down from a year ago and even slipped from March. At the same time, Georgia’s Port of Savannah saw imports fall 3.8% year-over-year in April while ticking up slightly from March” [Wall Street Journal]. “The scale of the ports and their deep supply chain connections suggests broad, national strategies are at play and that the inventory glut is defying efforts to pare back stocks. The growth in consumer spending in April may help the inventory picture, but retailers will need firmer signs of economic expansion to change their shipping patterns very soon.

Shipping: “[Analyst:] South Korea is the leading country leasing agricultural land in other countries for own food sourcing” [Air Cargo News]. “But it is likely that India and China will increase food outsourcing in the future.”

Shipping: “Thermal blanket has lithium-ion fires covered” [Air Cargo News]. For the cabin, apparently.

ETFs: “The Top 10 Risks Of ETFs” [ETF.com]. As a Maine Bear, I like #10.

ETFs: “Investors are putting record amounts of money into exchange-traded funds as bonds become increasingly difficult to buy and sell” [Bloomberg]. Global fixed-income ETFs, which track bond indexes and trade like stocks, attracted $60 billion of inflows this year through May 25, according to data compiled by BlackRock Inc. That’s the most for the period since the funds were created 14 years ago and on pace to top last year’s record total of $93.5 billion. The funds are emerging as one of the few winners from worsening trading conditions as dealers pull back from making markets and investors seek cheaper ways to take and hedge credit exposure. Liquidity and ease of use are the top reasons given by about 70 percent of bond ETF users, according to a report by Greenwich Associates.”

The Fed: “‘My sense is that markets are well-prepared for a possible rate increase globally, and that this is not too surprising given our liftoff from December and the policy of the committee which has been to try to normalize rates slowly and gradually over time,’ Bullard told a news conference after speaking at an academic conference in Seoul” [Futures].

The Fed: “There Goes the Fed’s Credibility” [Narayana Kocherlakota, Bloomberg]. “[It seems quite possible that] the Fed’s current course is driven not by state of the economy, but by a desire to get interest rates and its balance sheet back to what is considered ‘normal.’ Savers, bankers and many politicians agree with this objective. They want ‘normal’ — meaning higher — interest rates. The Fed, however, promised to focus on actual economic outcomes such as inflation, not on those voices. It can’t break that promise without undermining people’s faith in its willingness to keep promises in the future.” And: “This erosion of faith is visible in Treasury bond prices.” But what if the Fed, which operates on the loanable funds theory, is the biggest fool in the shower of all, meaning that the taps aren’t actually connected to the plumbing?

Political Risk: “Economic thinking is changing. If that thesis is correct – and there are many reasons to believe it is – then historical experience suggests policy and politics will change as well. How significant that change will be remains to be seen. It is still early days and the impact thus far has been limited. Few politicians or policymakers are even dimly aware of the changes underway in economics; but these changes are deep and profound, and the implications for policy and politics are potentially transformative” [INET Economics]. With a handy chart showing “Traditional Economics” vs. “New Economics.” And I have to say that the ideas in the “New Economics” column seem so obviously true to me that they verge on cliché. “What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed,” to go meta.

Political Risk: “We don’t speak of it very often but economists face a fundamental challenge with respect to innovation: if innovation is something no one has anticipated, then the (Savage) axioms upon which we base our rational choice decision-making cannot apply” [Digitopoly]. Implying that colleges and universities should purge their boards of business-people, eh? Letting them return to running their businesses, which many do well, instead of controlling public goods.

“Self-driving cars could be on public roads within five years, market watchers say, as auto makers and technology companies continue to invest in the technology. That’s expected to gut demand for personal auto liability insurance,” Warren Buffet’s cash cow [MarketWatch]. Not so fast. Silicon Valley’s political clout will get their (often shitty) algorithms and programs exempted from legal liability, and then “pedestrian insurance” will be a thing. So Buffet can pivot.

“Boston Dynamics is known for making robots that use limbs in a natural, organic way. The robots react to the environment rapidly in real time, and are a showcase of unprecedented agility and speed in robotics. According to a report by TechInsider, Toyota is close to finalising a deal to buy Boston Dynamics from Google. The news follows a reports of a string of Boston Dynamics talent leaving to join Toyota Research Institute” [First Post].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75, Extreme Greed (previous close: 75, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 1 at 11:34am.

Our Famously Free Press

“‘It is just a fact that we live in a world where half the population of this planet, if you criticize the leader, you’ll go to jail or worse,” [Jeff] Bezos said. ‘We live in this amazing democracy with amazing freedom of speech, and a presidential candidate should embrace that'” [New York Times]. Hmm. Personally, I don’t think the unexamined concept of “the leader,” ubiquitous in business writing in this country, is the sign of an “amazing democracy” at all. And that word “amazing” (twice repeated)….


“Applications for TFA’s two-year teaching stints have plummeted 35 percent during the past three years, forcing the organization to reexamine and reinvent how it sells itself to prospective corps members. It has been focusing particularly on how to engage students at the nation’s most-selective colleges, where the decline in interest has been among the steepest” [WaPo]. “TFA believes that some issues common to the teaching profession at large are affecting its ability to recruit. In an era of fierce debate about public education, morale among teachers has taken a nose­dive…” Well, scabs do tend to make morale plummet, yes.

Class Warfare

“Moving Forward on Basic Income” [YCombinator]. I believe that YCombinator is the fons et origo of “disruption,” “innovation,” “startups,” “founders,” and the ginormous VC-inflated bezzle of Uber, AirBnB, and [shedding silent tear], Theranos, all of whose business models and hence valuations are based on law-breaking or outright fraud, and many of which screw working people, hard. Hence, you should apply a hermeneutic of suspicion to whatever these guys are pushing. And that would imply BIG, which is having a moment (see, e.g., at Economists’ VIew).

“Employers didn’t seem to see a part-time job as a barrier to hiring women, with a callback rate of 10.9%. But for men, a part-time job translated into a 4.8% callback rate – little better than the 4.2% callback rate for unemployed men. (Unemployed women had a callback rate of 7.5%.)” [Wall Street Journal, “How Men Can Pay a High Price for Taking a Part-Time Job”]. “A growing body of research indicates that the financial and psychological damage from a period of joblessness can be significant and long-lasting, especially for people who remain out of work for an extended period.”

“After more than 1,100 deaths exposed dangerous labor conditions in Bangladesh in 2013, brands like H&M, Walmart and Gap were among the most powerful companies that pledged to improve the safety of some of the country’s poorest workers” [New York Times]. “But human rights groups say that three years later, those promises are still unfulfilled, and that safety, labor and other issues persist in Bangladesh and other countries where global retailers benefit from an inexpensive work force.”

News of the Wired

“A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research has identified one more reason why [Microsoft’s much-hated Clippy] sent so many people into rage spirals: Digital assistants tend to make us feel powerless. It’s not just Clippy, in other words — it’s his entire species” [New York Magazine].

“Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to realize that, when it comes to online video, “raw and visceral” — from viscera, which literally means guts (!) — can be a very bad thing” [WaPo].

“To this day, I don’t think most people realize the song was aimed at parents who drank and told their kids not to do drugs. I felt they were full of crap, but to write a good song, you need a few more words than that” [Wall Street Journal, “How Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick Wrote ‘White Rabbit'”] “My only complaint is that the lyrics could have been stronger. If I had done it right, more people would have been annoyed.” I’m with you there!

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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 (Kurt Sperry):

Video? Why not? From Torrente Sovara Anghiari (AR) Italy.

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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. hemeantwell

    There are few things better than a shaded woodland creek, and with sound included it’s a wonderful respite. Let’s have more of them!

    1. Synapsid

      Tertium Squid,

      The letter order of the alphabet goes back close to 800 years before that, ultimately to the early Greek alphabet. Transmission may have been partly from the Etruscans and partly from the Greeks of southern Italy, from whom the Etruscans had adopted it.

      Greeks from, or in, Euboia developed their alphabet (the first–an alphabet has symbols for both consonantal and vowel sounds) from the Phoenician writing system, using some of its symbols not needed for recording Greek to represent Greek vowel sounds.

      The earliest Greek inscriptions we have were poetry, or at least verse, sometimes scurrilous.

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        One of my favorite topics – and your info is different from mine.

        Alphabets probably originated in the northern Sinai, among Semite metal workers who mined and smelted ores.
        The earliest inscriptions seem to be carved into little metal sculptures offered to ‘the Lady’ (Hathor) beseeching her to restore health or give favor.

        It’s probably no accident that their descendants and associates (Hebrews, Amorites, Canaanites) found alphabetic writing – particularly along the metal routes with many languages – useful.

        The Phoenicians were metal traders.
        They transmitted the alphabet along the metal routes, and probably inscribed ingots with some kind of alphabetic characters to show value and/or ownership.

        The Greeks were west along the sea trade routes, and were quick learners. They elaborated on the Phoenician alphabet.

        The Etruscans were farther west, but also on the trade routes, and some of the Roman forms of lettering seem to trace to this group of people.

        My errata for the day; anyone’s free to correct me.

        1. Synapsid


          The Sinai inscriptions are the earliest precursors of the Canaanite ands Phoenician writing systems that we know of but those aren’t alphabets. An alphabet records the spoken language, having symbols for both consonantal and vowel sounds, and Greek was the first language recorded that way. The preceding Semitic systems were used to record consonants, primarily.

          Look up a list of the Phoenician symbols and try to write your name using that system, and you’ll see what I mean.

          1. readerOfTeaLeaves

            Point taken; the Greeks added vowels.
            Some of those ancients certainly had astute auditory skills to identify all the sounds among people who spoke a variety of languages, and then sort out the vowels. Remarkable achievement.

            1. Synapsid


              Agreed. Writing was developed well over two thousand years before that achievement. It’s hard now to understand just how remarkable it was.

  2. JM

    Re: gaming out the Clinton email hairball

    I think one useful thing to consider when gaming this all out (and it all will happen over the next few months!) is to not think so much about who the DNC/delegates (Obama having final say) will pick to replace Clinton at the top of the ticket but to imagine what could be said to make the selection legitimate and credible in the eyes of voters.

    My sense is in the current environment that complex message will be nearly impossible to pull off. Whoever they pick will not have campaigned at all during the primaries! Then this person is going to go on television and tell the public that the (super)delegates have chosen him/her and the public is supposed to believe that the selection is legitimate!

    I mean you have one (if not two — including Bill) of the three most powerful politicians in the Democratic party dropping out of the election for which every effort was made for this to be a coronation. I just do not think whoever the replacement is (except for perhaps Elizabeth Warren) has even a smidgen of a chance at unifying the party.

    I’m actually really curious…what could this person say in the event they are shuttled into a position up to this point they never expressed interest in holding?

    1. aletheia33

      good question.
      what can this person say? what will this sound like?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Ask not what the party can do for you.

        Ask what you can do for the party.

        Then, the VP candidate takes over the fight ‘to stop Trump at all costs’ on a flight out of Dallas.

        The Donald is so scary, all Democrats unite behind the new standard bearer.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          People need to read up on 1968, and several other conventions. Number of states the nominee was on the ballot = 0. Number of states won = 0. Number of primary votes cast for the nominee = 0.

    2. Benedict@Large

      Legitimate? With Trump being what he is, the Democrats will be effectively cancelling the 2016 presidential election. The reason the Dems are having such a hard time with the appearance of legitimacy is because it is not possible.

      They will be trying to say that whatever Sanders was doing for the last year, he wasn’t running for President.

      They will be trying to say that the $200+ million Sanders supporters dropped on his bid was what? Oops, sorry about that? Sorry about your hard-earned money.

      And what about that? Are they planning to refund that money? Because they said Sanders was running, and now they’re saying he wasn’t. ISN’T THAT FRAUD? How about we drop a $200 million class action on the Democratic Party, and let’s see what a GOP-appointed judiciary has to say about that.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I’m not so sure it would be a difficult message to pull off, so long as they chose someone with a suitably high profile (which is basically one of half a dozen obvious contenders at most). The message would be:

      1. Hillary has a medical condition and has decided to put her health and family before ambition *cough*.
      2. Sanders did well, but hey, he didn’t get the majority, so thats all a bit sad.
      3. *** has nobly decided to step in and represent us.

      To prevent an internal melt down the person would either have to be fairly acceptable to the left of the party, or would have a VP pick such as Warren.

      Externally, it would just be portrayed as ‘shit happens’. Since the majority of the population only really start paying attention from September onwards, I don’t see how it would really matter by November how the person was nominated.

      1. James Levy

        The media would eat it for breakfast. They’d love the intrigue, the winking and nodding, the daring-do aspect of it, and the fact that it would cancel out the will of the silly masses who are not privy to the inside game and not “in the know.”

      2. Roger Smith

        That might have flown in 1968, but people have been shat on for far to long at this point. The Democrats as always are completely deaf to the reality of the average voter and ate already in hot water. If they pull this it will blow up right in their clueless faces. It will be a year where a third party candidate gets 15-20% of the vote.

        1. sid_finster

          Team D can deal with any contingency other than a Sanders win.

          A shellacking in the general just means that they will still be the main opposition party, and there’s always the 2018 congressional elections and the fundraising opportunities that a Trump presidency affords.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            “the fundraising opportunities that a Trump presidency affords”

            This, one thousand times, this. Have you ever got onto a D Party spam email list? Fearmongering of Republicans is the tool of choice they use to separate a fool from his money*. And a Trump is a class A bogeyman that will bring the suckers to the tent and turn their pockets inside out.

            *with the D Party I don’t think it’s even about the money from small contributors, they’d rather work the large donors, but they want to make people feel important and like they belong–invested, you know–and what better way than to take their pissant money?

      3. fork lift driver

        Better solution, convention rules committee says that super-delegates will vote by secret ballot. Problem solved, especially since scandal centric HRC campaign will continue its swirl down the drain and will be completely flushed by the time the vote is taken. The Dems cannot risk the loss of the Bernistas.

    4. JTFaraday

      Easy. Before she gets indicted, they make her pick a VP and they assume the position.

  3. fosforos

    You ask “So who? ” would replace Clinton. Let me say straight out that Al Gore is the obviously best candidate, one of totally good repute (compromised only by an eight-year association with Clintons), with worldwide stature and respect, recipient of the highest awards, deeply experienced in both public and private realms, foremost authority among political figures on the most pressing issue of our times, and who, to boot, would receive really enthusiastic support from Sanders and his supporters. A man who would win in a true landslide, especially with Elizabeth Warren as Vice-presidential candidate.

      1. ambrit

        “I think at once of climate…” As in ‘Climate of Fear?’
        If Gore, he would be expected to go full bore “progressive.” Are the legacy holders of the Democratic Party up for what would in essence have to be a repudiation of themselves, by themselves? Philosopher Kings they have shown themselves not to be.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Al was really into Tipper. I suspect she was a bit of a crutch for him, but I don’t see him doing much without her.

      3. neo-realist

        If he campaigns with the boldness he’s shown in his public speaking as a crusader for the environment since 2000, he’d have a good shot. But my gut feeling is that he would believe that his ability to govern, particularly with regards to climate change issues, would be far too compromised by the elites to bother with running.

    1. craazyboy

      Almost an uplifting thought at the moment. What ever happened to Alan Grayson? That would be a VP pick and no loss of Warren’s senate seat.

      1. aletheia33

        i’m very partial to nina turner.
        i admit i know her only as a sanders supporter and have no idea how extensive her experience has been or how she’s voted on issues.
        she seems to have a largeness of soul that comes around very rarely in the political realm. and fearlessness.

        also zephyr teachout.

        it may sound farfetched, but i could see either as VP.

        1. craazyboy

          Sure, why not. We need a new list of names to vett. The old list is getting quite tiresome.

          1. aletheia33

            the sanders supporters love turner.

            also they may be a pretty good litmus test for a candidate’s integrity.

            also they are pretty pissed off at warren for not endorsing sanders.

            1. craazyboy

              Ok. Sounds good to me. I’m way past picky at this point. No Mafioso and no genocidal psycho killers and I’m good with it. Cool!

              1. Jim Haygood

                “Peace is not an awful lot to ask.” — “What Are their Names,” Crosby Still & Nash

                Actually it is — one might as well ask for the freaking moon.

              2. clinical wasteman

                That rules out Gore on two counts then. See Cockburn/St Clair, ‘Al Gore: a user’s manual’ (Counterpunch Books).

            2. tegnost

              All I know of turner is what I saw linked here re nevada, but I liked her, clear spoken and strong willed

              1. nippersmom

                Which is exactly why the DNC would never let her on the “replacement” ticket, even if she were willing to participate.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I like Nina Turner a lot, but (like Grayson) I’m not sure she’s seasoned enough. I like what I see though; she’s got the stones to go up against the Black Misleadership Class!

      2. Freda Miller

        Alan Grayson’s optics are questionable. I can’t furnish a link from my cell phone, but he married the doctor who is running for his former congressional seat yesterday, as reported on both Fox News and the Daily Mail.

          1. Freda Miller

            Maybe it is just my feminism showing. Like she can’t win the election on her own without his sponsorship? It looks to me like he has his thumb on the scale so to speak.

            1. craazyboy

              They are in the same district, so I just assumed she was the girl next door and that’s how Alan met her. Then they found out they had similar interests and finally fell in love and got married. Along the way Alan said, “I’m getting tired of this politics crap. I need a break.” She replied in a joking tone, “Well, I’m not old and jaded yet. I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot.” So Alan replied, “Why don’t you run for my seat? We won’t have move. Besides, the neighbors will vote for you.”

              But I’m a guy, so I’m insensitive to feminist things sometimes.

      3. NYPaul

        ” Alan Grayson?”

        If there’s one Progressive the Establishment hates (fears?) more than Sanders it would be Grayson.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m not sure Grayson is seasoned enough for a national run (though the prospect of him taking the low road against Trump is really exhilirating).

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Grayson has at times evinced a mean streak that seems almost altogether absent from Sanders. He’d probably make a good ‘bad cop’ to Bernie’s ‘good cop’ if he got his teeth into the role.

    2. nippersmom

      Al Gore didn’t seem to be particularly interested in becoming president when he actually ran.

      I wouldn’t assume he’d get the “enthusiastic support” of Sanders supporters, either, at least not those of us who remember how readily he fell in line with the Clinton agenda as VP. His climate change work is not enough (especially since he doesn’t seem to do a great job of walking the walk).

      At this point, I don’t think anybody the DNC would be willing to run is anyone I’d be willing to vote for.

      1. optimader

        I agree on Gore.

        In retrospect I think Gore was the kat backing up from the hairball at the end. He just wanted to disappear w/ his ample rolodex.

        Gore lives an affluent life of relative anonymity, without everyone and his brother up his ass. In reality, for me at least, what a horrible existence it would be as POTUS/frmr POTUS.. It’s a ride you can never get off.
        Not a fan of Colin Powell but he got it when he said basically he doesn’t what to go through the rest of his life with some guy in a suit w/ a curly wire to an earphone standing next to him at the urinal.

        Bill Murray once advised along the lines of: I always want to say to people who want to be rich and famous: ‘try being rich first’. See if that doesn’t cover most of it. There’s not much downside to being rich, other than paying taxes and having your relatives ask you for money. But when you become famous, you end up with a 24-hour job.

        1. Skippy

          Gore was / is part of the environmental economics camp… that means neoclassical economics with an eco artificial scarcity bolt on…

          Disheveled Marsupial…. file under rancid public choice theory and the nascent fear of “Irrational Democracy”….

      2. Vatch

        especially since he doesn’t seem to do a great job of walking the walk

        Al Gore likes big houses. Maybe he’s channeling his inner Trump!

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          These comments are baffling.
          Do you not realize that Gore has:
          (1) served on the board of Apple, the biggest market cap in the world IIRC
          (2) been involved in venture capital, i.e., actually help new ideas come to fruition
          (3) made a few hundred billion by developing, then selling CurrentTV

          The question is, would the presidency bore a man who has had his hand in so many innovative, world-changing technologies? Would he really be willing to suffer hours with Mitch McConnell?
          He might, out of sense of duty.
          But why on earth would he waste his time with some of the nitwits in Congress?

          The Gore smearing strikes me as more than a tad ill-informed.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What will he do with his few hundred billion as we experience global warming?

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I’m not sure global warming is a vote-getter, it seems that when confronted with the hugest and most painful issues (GW, the end of debt-based money, 9/11 truth) people are much happier just burying their heads in the sand.

          2. optimader

            But why on earth would he waste his time with some of the nitwits in Congress?

            He was immersed in that sht his whole childhood and youth.. Hell, he was born in DC and grew up in the equivalent of an extended stay hotel!( Personally I think his wife Tipper who was a PIA pushed him around)

            Then he discovered, hey you’ll pay me to sit around a couple hours a month? WTF why would I want to be under the ultimate political microscope for the rest of my life??

            Although he was an avid reader who fell in love with scientific and mathematical theories,[18] he did not do well in science classes in college and avoided taking math.[17] His grades during his first two years put him in the lower one-fifth of the class. During his sophomore year, he reportedly spent much of his time watching television, shooting pool, and occasionally smoking marijuana.[17][18
            yeahhh.. algore for president

      3. clincial wasteman

        Also, even leaving aside Gore’s cheerful assent to Clinton administration warmongering, welfare-wrecking, prison-gilding etc., why would Sanders supporters rally to any candidate installed in an anti-Sanders coup, which is what it would be if Hillary were thrown overboard and replaced by someone other than Sanders?
        (That’s a genuine question from a long and probably clueless distance: please correct me on the loyalties of Sanders voters. The antipathy to Gore expressed above is non-negotiable, though.)

        1. Ernie

          Agree. What possible reason could TPTB use to explain to Sanders supporters why they are bypassing Bernie in favor of someone more acceptable to the establishment? (Even someone somewhat plausibly progressive (?) like Warren?) Would they say they were concerned Bernie couldn’t take out Trump? No polling comes close to supporting that line of bull. I don’t see how Bernie supporters could view bypassing Bernie as anything other than an “in your face” FU that the establishment imposes “because we can.” That doesn’t seem to lend itself to effectively rallying Bernie’s troops to the cause.

        2. SpringTexan

          Don’t forget Gore’s HUGE role in privatizing government by contracting out!

    3. SumiDreamer

      I think people are thinking inside the box. This is the Campaign 2016 Reality Show so it could be ANYBODY. HOPEFULLY, someone high profile with little baggage. Someone with name recognition. How about Al Franken? GOSH darn it people like him. And her could the full two terms.

      I think Her Slyness had put him on her VEEP shortlist. I am not for him but it would have a certain savor faire eh?

    4. Benedict@Large

      Wait a minute. Am I really hearing this? Are we really playing “Who Should We Replace Sanders With If the DNC Won’t Let Us Have Sanders?” Because that’s crazy.

      Sorry, if they won’t let us have Sanders after a legitimate Sanders win, then I want my money back. And you all should be insisting on the same thing.

      1. craazyboy

        That goes without saying, but we can still “game out” the possibilities when it’s looking like the DNC is hell bent on shoving shit_on_a_stick down our throats.

      2. Merf56

        I was reading down the comments and getting more horrifyingly outraged with each one. As far as I am concerned Senator Sanders is the ONLY choice for the Democratic Party to choose. Period. If he is not on the ballot in November I am voting for Jill Stein and will re-register as an Independent. I will never cast a vote for ANY Democratic Party candidate again. I have had it with this shit show.

        1. tgs

          If Bernie is unable to get the nomination, I will vote Stein as well. After listening to a number of speeches and interviews, she is an excellent candidate, and way to the left of Bernie. I was particularly impressed with her argument as to why a vote for the GP is not a wasted vote. I think those Bernie supporters who detest what HC stands for, should at least give Stein a hearing.

            1. tegnost

              adding it get’s a voter in the booth to vote out down ticket trade traitors, we could get a real house cleaning (and senate as well)

          1. nippersmom

            I voted for her in 2012; if Bernie isn’t on the ballot in November, she will definitely have my vote again. (If Bernie hadn’t run, Stein would have been my choice to begin with. There was never any question of voting for Clinton.)

      3. Roger Smith

        This exactly. It is frightening how many seem to be warming up to this replacement scenario.

        If they pull this, retribution is called for. No taking this lying down. Absolutely no none else is acceptable, they didn’t even run! Why are we are abandoning our fight and wmbrac

    5. Tom Allen

      Replace Hillary Clinton with Al Gore, former president of the Democratic Leadership Council, a hawkish neoliberal technocrat with close ties to big business? Yeah, sounds about right.

      Gore would probably focus more voters’ attention on climate change, though, which could be positive.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I hate to cite Bill Maher, but I believe his line about Gore went something like, “Gore is a guy who spent his entire life discussing the environment except one, 2000.”

        Gore put his hobby away and served his DLC interests first. Of course, Tipper won’t be around, so he might not be terrible.

  4. EmilianoZ

    If Hillary wins the nomination but for whatever reason has to step down later, it would be only fair that whoever replaces her should represent her ideas and be willing to implement her program to keep America on the path to greatness which it never left.

      1. Pavel

        Why go to such trouble? Just choose Chelsea. They’d still get the “first female president” *and* keep it in the family. A twofer!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hard to imagine a major political party does not have a nominee succession plan.

      I think the VP candidate takes over.

      Certainly not the losing candidate in the last general election, in the case of presidential succession.

    2. Merf56

      Seriously? If she has to step down because she has committed crimes her entire ‘program’ and ‘ideas’ are suspect. A criminal is and has never been a proponent of greatness for anything or anyone, except maybe for themselves ( any maybe thei philandering spouses ..).

  5. Seas of Promethium

    “Self-driving cars could be on public roads within five years, market watchers say”

    How could being a “market watcher” possibly qualify anyone to divine the future of IT? You’d need IT experts to do that, and even their crystal ball have tended to be pretty foggy where novel technologies are concerned.

    Money guarantees nothing. The emperors of China spent centuries financing the search for the elixir of life with only mercury poisoning to show for it.

    Produce a fully functional working prototype and then–and only then–it might be reasonable to discuss timeframes. Until then no one can declare whether it will be five years, fifty years, or never. Though if what has been shown so far is representative five years doesn’t seem very likely.

    1. Praedor

      No matter how good this working prototype it can, and will, be hacked. Hacked self-driving cars will kill them before they can take over.

      I’ll never trust one.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’m pretty sure it won’t be a ‘big bang’ release of self-driving cars. It will be a gradualist thing. The new Tesla already has a type of self driving on highways, this sort of thing will become standard. Once thats accepted by consumers and regulators, only then will they have cars with no conventional steering option.

      1. Waldenpond

        Having steering keeps the liability on the individual. I see driverless working as a pay per ride under large contracts but I don’t quite see how it works for individuals. Corporations liable for their programming? Cities liable for infrastructure? Seems so easy to sabotage simply by repainting lines.

    3. tegnost

      5 years is baloney of course for an actual working, for sale on car row self driving car, but they need to get municipalities and states on board for infrastructure improvements and to head off investment in light rail (yes, that’s right, I was shocked to hear it as well…) and public transport. I see it as just like the bernie movement, these people can’t grasp that people like to do things, add in the liability issues and it will be a novelty product for many years to come.

  6. Jim Haygood

    “[It seems quite possible that] the Fed’s current course is driven not by state of the economy, but by a desire to get interest rates and its balance sheet back to what is considered ‘normal.’”

    Kocherlakota is right. The Fed has a statutory mandate to seek maximum employment and monetary stability (defined as 2 percent inflation).

    As mentioned above, the second estimate of first quarter GDP growth was only 0.8 percent — a rate too low to boost employment. Year-on-year CPI inflation is running at 1.1 percent, below target.

    So as Kocherlakota says, the Fed’s idée fixe of a June rate hike is all about an internal, bankster-driven agenda. It’s nothing to do with the real economy, doggedly treading water.

    J-Yel’s semiannual Humphrey-Hawkins testimony is supposed to provide a forum to hold the Fed accountable to its statutory objectives.

    But if you’ve ever watched one of these hearings, you know that perhaps 20 percent of the committee members have even a layperson’s knowledge of monetary policy. The rest waste their 5-minute question time delivering set-piece partisan rants.

    Absent adult supervision, J-Yel and her sidekick Stanley Mellon Fischer are liable to do anything. Don’t let them play next to the gorilla cage.

    1. craazyboy

      After 8 years you have to conclude it’s not working, and what we have again are financial bubbles in real estate, stocks, bonds and everything else, which is a major threat to stability. The Chinese are firing highly paid workers and replacing them with robots. No inflation coming, except in things we can’t afford already. Time to move past groundhog day. The Fed met Einstein’s definition of insanity back around 2010-2011.

      1. Jim Haygood

        “First, do no harm.” — Hippocrates

        Hiking rates when the economy is iffy and inflation is low doesn’t meet Hippocrates’ test.

        A $2.6 trillion mountain of idle excess reserves in the U.S. banking system is like that photo of a Venezuelan grocery store with an entire aisle lined with bottles of vinegar — but no bread, cheese, meat, milk, flour or cooking oil.

        Central planners overproduced stuff no one wanted, while the stuff people need isn’t available at any price. What to do? “A bottle in front of me” or a frontal lobotomy are both viable options for these folks.

        *Bullard, Dudley and Mester rush to court to file for intellectual bankruptcy*

        1. craazyboy

          “First, do no harm.” – Alan Greenspan.

          I think Hippocrates was a doctor and was talking about something else besides the Fed short term interest rate charged mainly to carry traders. Besides, Ben changed the rules and now the Fed pays interest on bank reserves (I think even required reserves plus excess reserves), so annoying as that may be, hard to see any harm to basic banking there. I just checked my credit card rate and it’s still 12%, same as ever. Then since the GFC, ZIRP has resulted in more than a half a trillion$ transfer from savers to banks. I think Hippocrates would say ouch to that, fer sure.

          Also, the fed could normalize their balance sheet and dump the excess $3trillion in treasuries they acquired for QE. That would take care of all those excess reserves at the banks. They aren’t doing anything with them, except I suspect interday loans to the carry trader department.

        2. Alejandro

          “like that photo of a Venezuelan grocery store with an entire aisle lined with bottles of vinegar — but no bread, cheese, meat, milk, flour or cooking oil.”

          Apparently that WaPo photo “journalist” never made it to side of town;

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’m not sure I agree with your police work there, Norm.
        It clearly IS working: asset prices are up.
        (nevermind the fact that 85% of stock market gains go to 5% of the population)
        Here’s what’s coming next: negative interest rates. For one simple reason: governments make money from them. They sell you a product at 100, buy it back from you for 98, they pocket 2.
        Once they all figure this out the floodgates are gonna open.
        The magic elixir that kings and governments have sought since time immemorial: a new source of revenues they can levy without anybody noticing.

        1. craazyboy

          At least read the whole sentence!

          “…and what we have again are financial bubbles in real estate, stocks, bonds and everything else, which is a major threat to stability”

          And when I said “working” I meant that relative to the fed’s official goals of employment and stable prices (not stable Chinese prices) ……not make rich people richer, which has been working fine. We have 1400 billionaires now. :)

  7. diptherio

    It’s not hard to see the thinking behind BIG from the Silicon Valley, elite perspective. They understand that putting everybody out of work from robotics or out-sourcing is a sure-fire way to create massive discontent. They think this is a clever way of keeping the losers contented (enough to not revolt) while maintaining their elevated position within the system. They don’t care what the system looks like, really, just so long as they get to sit on top. They think this is a way to avert the revolution that they know, from reading Marx and thinking about it a little, their actions are sure to lead to, ceteris paribus.

    However, I think they underestimate the extent to which our continual trade deficits are predicated on the US dollar being the world’s reserve currency. That status may not be in danger in the short term, but I think it’s doomed to extinction over the medium term, as the BRICS and other countries maneuver their way out from under the thumb of the petro-dollar.

    But the up-side is that they’re mainstreaming an MMT understanding of macroeconomics and, as old John used to say, “ideas have a way of taking on a life of their own.” Also, some poor people might actually end up being benefited as a side-effect of the elites trying to keep the lower orders manageable. I mean, that’s really what the New Deal was about, no? FDR wasn’t fighting for the working man, he just realized that exploiting them too much could crash the whole system and be much worse for his class, the elites, than a little Social Security was. FDR wasn’t looking to overturn class relations, but maintain them. He just had a more nuanced understanding of self-interest than many of his class peers (that oughta get some people fuming). Still, whatever the motivation, the programs had the practical effect of making a lot of people’s lives better. Why shouldn’t it be the same in this situation?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Not that I’m foily, but if you combine the abolition of cash, BIG in the form of a digital deposit, retail tracking everywhere, and the precedent (from ObamaCare) of a mandate to participate in certain markets, you can concoct quite a dystopia….

      1. diptherio

        Yeah, the “BIG Brother” jokes are just too easy.

        I think we need to have a movement to defend cash. Small business owners should lead the charge, since card fees hit them the hardest. I see a possible coalition…anti-surveillance activists and guys like the owner of the pizza joint I frequent whose register bears a sign that reads “Cards accepted, Cash preferred.”

        1. diptherio

          Also, a BIG would be a great excuse to start-up the Postal Bank. Everybody will get an account tied to their SSN that their BIG gets deposited in, accessible (in cash) at any post office. It might just be sell-able…at least to the public, if not to Wall Street.

      2. Romancing the Loan

        Take it another step and have “consumer choice” in lieu of voting. I like it; a good sci-fi writer needs to get on this.

        1. ChiGal

          Whenever I hear about TPTB doing away with cash I am reminded of Margaret Atwood’s prescient (from the 80s I think!) novel about a patriarchal dystopian future, The Handmaid’s Tale – freezing the bank accounts is how it all started.

      3. tegnost

        +1, mirrors my argument to the brogrammers, right down to the use of “dystopia”

  8. aletheia33

    “A growing body of research indicates that the financial and psychological damage from a period of joblessness can be significant and long-lasting, especially for people who remain out of work for an extended period.”
    quelle surprise!

    are poor, working, and middle-class people’s well-being actually closely tied to how many days in their lives they can work? hoocoodanode?

    1. jrs

      I hear they have really low well being in Europe with their 6 weeks vacations and way more holidays and stuff. They throw themselves off bridges at the start of every vacation season. Nah it’s tied to having an income or not, not how many days they work.

      1. aletheia33

        right, thanks!

        i always forget about that because i’ve always worked as in independent contractor, staying sane by pretending benefits and paid holidays and vacations are not all that important in life. and i must say, lately i do see TPTB cashing in on my idea, bigtime. i should have placed some bets on that happening…

        1. polecat

          I haven’t worked a paying job for about 14 years….the wife works the day gig, while I maintain the abode, do household repairs, garden, tend to the bees & chickens…..etc. …… I’m ‘working’ my way on the downslope of collapse…’avoiding the rush’ as John M Greer is fond of saying…..

          ….still sane!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That only happens to Sapiens humans.

      A cat’s well-being is rarely tied to how many days it is out of work.

      Thus, I suspect either 1. we are not that superior or 2. we have been brainwashed.

      Or both.

      1. aletheia33

        i meant, in our current industrialized, work-ethic-based western society. which not coincidentally has had a lousy mental and physical health outcome for millions of people over time.
        but never mind. a rising water floats all boats.
        until it doesn’t.

  9. aletheia33

    the antidote

    what is interesting visually in this is the way the shadows keep moving in the breeze, in different ways. something i never consciously noticed but now will watch for when sitting outdoors. and of course shadow and light at water’s edge, in sunlight, are always incredibly beautiful. ty for this one.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      My wife and I walked uptown last Saturday to go to the local Farmers Market, and at the same time to check out the May Fair, for which the main street had been closed for a few blocks to accommodate booths and pedestrians. I had brought my knapsack along to carry home our prizes from the Farmers Market. After some while cruising the street in the heat, we began our walk back homewards. While passing along the edge of the park, I suggested that we cut across the park, not only a more direct route, but also one that led us past some little ponds further into the park. Our dogs were barkin’ after all of the standing on hard pavement, and we found a shady park bench beside one of these ponds on which to rest a while. It was a lovely and restful prospect gazing across the wind-ruffled water, and after a while my wife noted how the sunlight reflecting from the waves was glimmering hither and yon in the branches of the trees across the water. After she had pointed this out, I further observed that the pattern of the light reflecting off of the water was itself conditioned by the reflections of the trees on the surface of the pond.

      As I mused on the inter-relatedness of light reflections on the trees, and reflections of the trees on the light reflected off of the pond’s surface, I perceived an analogue to the Buddhist insight of the co-dependent arising of mind and world.

      So much to see when the mind is quiet enough that what otherwise passes without notice is perceived.

      1. Pavel

        I stumbled on these the other day and find them really wonderful… I spend a fair amount of time in Japan and one thing I really like is a deeper and more manifest appreciation of nature (and its bounties). A few samples below but check them all out:

        11 Beautiful Japanese Words That Don’t Exist In English

        –木漏れ日 Komorebi
        “Komorebi” refers to the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees.

        –物の哀れ Mononoaware
        “Monoaware” is “the pathos of things.” It is the awareness of the impermanence of all things and the gentle sadness and wistfulness at their passing.

        –森林浴 Shinrinyoku
        “Shinrinyoku” (“forest bathing”) is to go deep into the woods where everything is silent and peaceful for a relaxation.

        11 Beautiful Japanese Words That Don’t Exist In English

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Mono no aware is a key sentiment in the culture.

          It relates to wabi sabi, and is invoked in the famous opening paragraph of the Tales of Heike:

          The sound of the Gion Shoja temple bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall.

          Gion Shoja is Japanese for Jetavana, where the Buddha taught.

        2. Jim Haygood

          Then there’s gojikaraotoko [“after-five man”] — the office nebbish who turns into Elvis when you serve him a few glasses of mizuwari and hand him a karaoke microphone.

          1. optimader

            A favorite word of mine was ichinichijuu = throughout the day

            common usage (for me)
            ichi wa biiru nomimasu ichinichijuu

            when asked if you speak Japanese language Nihongo wo hanasemasu ka?
            the traditional reply (at least what worked for me) IIRC is to smile, nod and say: ichi wa biiru nomimasu ichinichijuu!
            I drink beer throughout the day!

            the gracious host responds with an awkward smile and hands you a beer!
            It’s a great language..

            is actually a pretty good language for an English speaker to hack into at a beginner level as there are no unnatural ( to English speakers) phonics. You start with the Gojūon

            its all quite systematic
            ah, ai, au, ay, ao
            ka ki ku kay ko,
            sa, s,i su, say, so
            ta chi tsu ta to…
            ..and so forth.

        3. craazyman

          what about beautiful English words that don’t exist in Japanese.

          1. phlegmatic — (they’d have to use at least 25 sounds and still wouldn’t nail it).
          2. signatories – (that almost sounds Japanese. Can’t they just say “signators?” It would be even more beautiful. Why the “ories”. Sorry I’m just venting).
          3. plasticity — How could any Japanese poet compete with that?
          4. antidisestablishmentarianism — that used to be the longest word in the dictionary. If that was Japanese it would take a paragraph and nobody would have any idea what they were talking about. Maybe even in English nobody does. But for phonetic beauty, how can anybody complain?

          1. Jessica

            Antidisestablishmentarianism in Japanese: 国教廃止条例反対論
            国教 State religion
            廃止 abolition
            条例 law
            反対論 opposition theory
            Theory opposing the abolition of state religion
            Better than the English, in which it is no longer obvious exactly what is meant by “establishment” without a knowledge of the history involved.
            Phlegmatic does not translate well. It comes out too literally, either as “calm” or “highly viscous”, but Japanese has a large number of words for subtle emotional states, more than English I think, because most of these words use two of the Chinese characters and you can mix and match the first and second one, thus multiplying the number of possibilities.

      2. dots

        What a lovely scene you describe. It brings to memory a teaching by Thich Nhat Hahn:

        “To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.”

  10. C

    ‘Hillary’s fibs or lack of candor are all about bad judgments she made on issues that will not impact the future of either my family or my country. Private email servers? Cattle futures? Goldman Sachs lectures? All really stupid, but my kids will not be harmed by those poor calls. Debate where she came out on Iraq and Libya, if you will, but those were considered judgment calls, and if you disagree don’t vote for her” [The Moustache of Understanding, New York Times]. You tell ’em, Tommy! Who cares about corruption? Corruption had nothing to do with Iraq!

    Of course they won’t. You are well-off, well-connected, and work for a virtual organ of the state that has backed her every move. You and your framily are on the inside track and will of course be protected.

    It is everyone else that will be screwed.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Friedman is just doing his job. The Saddam’s WMDs paper endorsed Hillary on Jan 31st, and is part of the campaign of lies, deceptions and cover-ups.

      Journo-hos … the only surprise is that you can buy them so cheap.

      As with television, it’s healthier not to pollute one’s mind with NYT propaganda. Reading the idiotic headlines is enough to realize that the “content” is crap.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like everyone should work for an organ (or a virtual organ, either way) of the state.

      Just make sure you’re well-connected (the importance of being social – don’t just bury yourself in books).

    3. Pavel

      Predictably, the comments on the NYT op-ed (by the “Suck on this, Iraq!” Friedman) are more thoughtful and reality-based than the author’s column. Here is a sample:

      Thomas Friedman on lies that hurt the country? Let’s start that with the Iraq War.

      I agree that the emails probably didn’t hurt the country, even if they were illegal and even if she does lie about them. However, Snowden did not hurt the country either, he told the truth, and Hillary goes after him with a vengeance for doing that in ways that benefited the country, that the NYT of Pentagon Papers days should support. She does that even while she lies about her emails, and that is a relevant character issue for the power she seeks.

      Libya and Syria and Ukraine were NOT just bad judgment calls. However, they were three consecutive bad judgment calls, with no good ones to offset. That still matters.

      Libya and Syria and Ukraine were also lies, coming from the mouth of Hillary, and harming the country by tossing us into more wars.

      –NYT comment by Mark Thomason

      I really wonder how Friedman and the other NYT Iraq war cheerleaders can look at themselves in the mirror each morning. And excellent point about Snowden, of course.

  11. katiebird

    I’m confused. … Is the general agreement/belief/feeling that (if) the Clinton campaign is in meltdown then the nominee cannot be Sanders? Because, I’m still Feeling the Bern… :(

    1. nippersmom

      I think the general feeling is that the DNC will not allow it to be Sanders, if they can come up with any scheme to prevent it.

    2. ambrit

      Please remember kind lady that Bernie has been essentially declared a Heresiarch by the DNC. That makes even thinking about him and his arguments sufficient reason to hand a person up to the Auto-da-Fe. Continue upon this path and, if the DNC has its’ way, thou wilst surely literally feel the Burn.
      “We had to destroy the Party to preserve our places in it.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s my feeling, at least. I could be wrong! Remember, for most of my life near poltics, I haven’t been cynical enough! But perhaps I am, as it were, undercompensating.

      I have thought throughout that the under-appreciated strength of the Sanders campaign has been the self-organizing strength of Sanders volunteers; the ability to organize and be organized. How they would react as a body to what they would rightly perceive as their disenfranchisement is an unknown factor. I mean, 45% of the vote out of nowhere is not to be sneezed at. It just has no institutional presence!

      Adding… At this point we remember that the Estates General began with a credentials fight that culiminated in the Tennis Court Oath…

      1. Elliot

        The Wall Street Journal had an article yesterday saying that Hillary might not be the nominee, and while DNC faithful want us all to assume that if that happened, it would not be Sanders, that’s emphatically not what the rest of the US will assume, nor, I think, stand for.

        For damn sure parachuting someone in ahead of him in line would be the death of the Democratic party, and good riddance. And good riddance to Al Gore, who wouldn’t even fight his own election battle. He’s as fake a standard bearer as Elizabeth Warren.

        Plus Bernie supporters don’t support Bernie because he’s a Democrat, they support him because of what he is campaigning about. A replacement head bolted onto the decapitated Clinton campaign would never in a zillion years be for anything Sanders is for, and… we’re not stupid enough to believe it would be.

        Trump’s been involved in some 3.5K lawsuits, he only wrote his check to the Veterans’ charity the day the reporter grilled him about stiffing them, his TrumpYours University taught cheating and scorched earth sales tactics, he wants to sell off the public lands, privatize Social Security, etc etc ad infinitum. He is emphatically not what Bernie supporters are looking for, either.

        This is surely the year the skull beneath the skin of both political parties gets revealed.

        1. Archie

          I agree with you 1000% Elliot. Several months ago I was having a political discussion with my youngest brother and he asked me what my best and worst case scenarios were. I told him that the best case scenario was the implosion of both legacy parties. The worst case scenario was some sort of constitutional crisis emerging. I had negligently never considered the possibility that both could occur.

      2. dots

        I never rule out anything that’s actually possible and Sanders getting the nomination even through some unexpected chain of events is within the realm of what’s possible. Just don’t tell me the odds.

    4. Benedict@Large

      This is about jobs. The DNC employs a whole slew of Beltway careerists, both directly and indirectly, who will be out of a job if Sanders becomes President. These careerists believe that they are entitled to the jobs they hold, and that someone like Sanders should never be allowed to take their jobs away. There is a great debate going on right now about how the American people can be lied to, and told that it’s not about these jobs, but is rather “for the good of the country”. But do not be fooled. It is about these jobs.

      At the end of the day, there may be some scraps left over, and should they fall from the table, the quick among us will certainly be allowed to have them. Thank you very much for voting. See you again in four years.

        1. polecat

          Now THOSE are the sort of entitlements that I’d like to see done away with !! Let the careerists live on the street …… in appliance boxes, for all I care ……it would serve them right !

    5. grayslady

      I’m with you, Katiebird. If there’s one thing this campaign year has shown, it’s that “we the people” are as powerful as we choose to be. There really is no one else in D.C. who is as decent as Bernie. No one. I’ve maintained for some time that the Democrats are already dead as a party; they’ve just been refusing to recognize it. The Repubs have been clearly shown to be a dead party–first through the Tea Party, and now through this election. The question is whether or not the Dems want to survive as a party. If they do, Bernie is their only hope. They are in denial now–they think Bernie voters are Dems. They aren’t. It all depends on how forcefully Bernie delegates and voters are willing to make their case that it’s Bernie or Bust. The idea that the Dems think they are still a force to reckon with when less than one-third of the voters self-identify as a Dem is ludicrous.

      1. wbgonne

        less than one-third of the voters self-identify as a Dem

        Yes, and something else. Half the country doesn’t vote, which means the Democrats comprise about one-sixth of eligible voters, with Republicans even fewer. Which means that one-third of the population controls the only two viable political vehicles in the country.

        Our political duopoly represents just a tiny slice of the spectrum. This is an ultra-conservative system designed to ensure stability in a well-functioning democratic republic that is responsive to the people. But we now live in an oligarchy and our hijacked, corrupted political duoploly only serves the oligarchs.

  12. Ranger Rick

    That Cohen quote is choice, in more ways than one. “I am afraid of my fellow Americans.”

    You know, I’m used to hyperbole during an election year (“my opponent is literally Satan Himself!”) but this is genuinely alarming. I’m reminded of a (paraphrased) quote from an online discussion:

    “When the revolution for the people, by the people comes, ‘the people’ are not going to be your people. They are the homeless, the jobless, the uneducated, the rural. They are the butt of your redneck jokes and elided in your ‘urban youth’ euphemisms. And they hate you, no matter how much you claim to be on their side, because you have not suffered as they have.”

    1. Jason

      I see much of American politics since the mid-20th as a struggle between two philosophies (or extremes) of the ruling and wealthy elite. One advocates a “squeeze the proles until they bleed to death” approach, while the other is smart enough to realize, “we need them happy enough to prevent violent revolution, or they’ll try to kill us all, which is bad for business”. And the former approach has gained too much ground, so we’re seeing the public heating towards their boiling point.

      (I personally think Trump is nothing but a con-man trying to ride the resentment as a shortcut to putting himself in the big chair, but I can empathize with those so desperate they see no better alternative to bloody revolution.)

      With the ruling classes’ reluctance to yield any of their ever-growing, ever-concentrated wealth to the masses, I worry that they’ll try war as a distraction next. The War on Terror has mostly flopped by this point, but it can be used as stage setting for what comes next. Either a “real” war against China and/or Russia, or an orders of magnitude upswing in domestic terrorism and strife. (I wonder who would be good for getting such violence started, without tarnishing the reputation of the ruling class even further…)

      Once the Next War has begun (domestic or foreign doesn’t matter, as long as its bigger and scarier to everyone) it will be blamed for all sorts of ills and used to justify excesses of the worst sort for the better part of a generation. (I doubt it has ever occurred to Our Dear Rulers that the public might not go along with their Next War, or that it may not play out according to their plans.)

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          Yeah, nobody is listening at all to President Putin and the wider Russian policy and military establishments as they warn, attempt diplomacy, and give the clearest possible indication by the actions of their military that they feel themselves seriously – very seriously – threatened by the aggressive actions on their borders by the US and the NATO pink poodles.

          Probably, The Moustache of Understanding, Thomas Friedman, would consider this to be no problem for him, his family, and the US. So what if Romanians, Poles, whatever, die? The conflict would remain contained to Central Europe, right? Think of the propaganda opportunities. They’re just dizzying. Get Vicky, Samantha, Michele on the job, stat!

          But you know what? If those harridans set foot in Central Europe, they would be in serious danger of being lynched by the terrified peoples of those nations with whose lives they so casually dice, and rightly so. Playing with matches in a dynamite factory is to be discouraged, and that is all that these fools seem capable of.

          Some people seem mystified by why the Russians have pulled some of their air assets out of Syria while the outcomes of the war are still in doubt. Well, they’re being redeployed back to Russia against the need to throw them into combat against the US and the NATO pink poodles (who seem to love to sidle up to Russia and lift their legs to piss on their President and their national security; talk about your stoopid dogs). So, no, there is no mystery here at all. Things have gotten dead serious now that these missiles are actually being deployed, and no longer being dissimulated as being directed against possible lunatic Iranian aggression; their true target, always known for anyone with two neurons to spark against one another, is Russia. As opposed to past invasions from the west, when their nation is threatened by hypersonic missiles, there is no strategic depth provided by the landmass of Russia. The Russians know this all too well, and they are not blowing smoke here. Finally, President Putin has learned that he has no “partners”, one of his favorite phrases in the past when referring to the west, with whom to have a serious dialogue. Instead, he has only that callow jackass Obama and the compliant dwarves of Europe leering at him, and ipso facto, no one with whom dialogue is possible.

          As they say here in Southern New Jersey when the Pine Barrens are dry as tinder, we have a Red Flag Warning, and a forest fire is an imminent danger. The consequences of such a localized event are as nothing compared to the dire danger into which our western fools are blithely tripping.

          God save us all.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      Trump’s problem are his negatives, which are so extreme that only Hillary Clinton could compete on that field, and secondly the likely ephemerality of the outsider status his whole persona is marketed on. As he is embraced by the GOP establishment, his outsider appeal will become smothered by its embrace. He will get endorsements from mainstream partisans that will actually be counterproductive, he will need to regularly produce more outrageous statements to retain an outsider cred and each will alienate off another chunk of his support. The *only* possible way Trump wins is vs.a damaged Hillary, I don’t see him even beating a barely legitimate Plan B like Biden.

  13. Anne

    Sometimes I think that people are forgetting that these are people who have never, ever given up; Hillary Clinton is an eyelash away from being nominated for the highest office in the land, she’s survived countless investigations, scandals, humiliations. She’s withstood everything from hearings to vile sexist and misogynist taunts and labels. She swallowed her pride and sold what was left of her soul for a promise she could move into the White House in January, 2017.

    And you think she’s possibly going to step down now?

    No. That doesn’t happen unless she has a real medical issue she can’t hide (she’d have to collapse in a very public venue – otherwise, I think whatever medical issues she has remain hidden), there is some sort of family tragedy, or the pus-filled boil that is the nexus between her public office and the Clinton Foundation gets popped in an undeniably damning way before the convention.

    And then what? The only people who want Biden are the insiders; if there was that much love for Biden out among the electorate, he would not have been stashed where his mouth could do the least amount of damage. Meanwhile, there’s someone for whom millions of people have actually cast a ballot, and those people are going to lose their sh!t if Debbie Wasserman Schultz tries to pull off a coup and toss Sanders on the trash heap.

    I think the only fair/decent/small-d Democratic way to do this is to release delegates from their pledges and hold as many votes as it takes to get a nominee. If that’s Sanders on the first ballot or the second or the tenth, fine. If it’s Gore or Biden or Kerry on the 15th ballot at 5:30 in the morning, well, maybe that’s okay, too. As long as it’s a participatory process and not an end-run, back-door wheel-and-deal, complete with threats and “incentives” operation, the voters might go along with it and not take to the streets with the torches and pitchforks.

    But here’s the thing: can’t speak for anyone else, but I have seen nothing so far in this election season that gives me any confidence that such an event would be conducted in an ethical, moral manner. And if they decide to substitute their own corrupt judgment for what should be allowed to be the will of the people, they will have only themselves to blame for it being Trump’s porcine fingers on the bible come inauguration day.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Her pardoning herself is the only real protection she can count on. Obama has a legacy as such as it is. He can’t handle blanket pardons, and the House will be GOP regardless (here’s to DWS and Pelosi). They will investigate the Clintons regardless of who the next President is.

    2. ambrit

      Something to look forward to! Porcine Maquillage, Trump style! Some of the recent pictures suggest that someone is already putting lipstick on.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      You are certainly right that she would fight tooth and nail against it, but I think if it is put as an issue of ‘you are likely going to prison, but take the noble option and you get a pardon’ (while passing over the whiskey and revolver), could do the trick. Even the Clintons could not stand up against a delegation of the party saying ‘its this or massive public humiliation’. The classic example was of Margaret Thatcher, who only released her grip on power when one by one each senior cabinet member went in to her and said ‘its over’.

      Interestingly, I’ve been looking at some betting sites – they only give odds for three Dems for president – Hilary, Bernie and Biden (at a surprising 33/1).

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the pus-filled boil that is the nexus between her public office and the Clinton Foundation

      It may be that the FBI has a digital image of that boil from the backup copy of the server that Platte River (seems to have) accidentally put in the cloud.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      If Bernie isn’t on my ballot, Jill Stein is who I’ll be voting for. Again.

      She’s excellent, much better than Clinton or obviously Trump, I agree with her on 90% of her positions. If voting *for* someone rather than *against* someone is how democracy should work (and I would argue so) then it would be a waste of my vote to spend it on anyone else. Conservatives should consider Gary Anderson for the same reasons. These minor parties need to reach the 5% threshold to get ballot access and matching funding, I think it’s an excellent cause to support just to have a greater diversity in the US political system. Shame on the people who are trying to scare you into voting for someone you don’t believe in instead of voting your actual beliefs, it’s not right to do.

  14. Nickname

    I can’t help but find it extremely wise of Bernie never to take the bait on that email question because it would inevitably only be used against him and the narrative would then be that he was “backtracking” on when he said that he didn’t want to discuss them.
    And anyhow, he probably knows that he doesn’t need to join the chorus for that story to stay hot. Though I hope and presume that this is a focal talking point if and when he courts superdelegates.

    On another note, I live in Sweden and the topic of the election came up with some friends tonight and my friends – all of whom would like to see Bernie be president – all seemed to think that Clinton was a stronger candidate (as in more people favored her) against Trump. In fact, I had to show them polls of Bernie beating Trump by a way wider margin than Hillary to convince them otherwise. That just goes to show you how successful the Clinton PR machine (not to mention a complicit media) has been at pushing her narrative. Even if people want Bernie to win and strongly dislike her, the general feeling seems to be that she is inevitable.

  15. EGrise

    Re: tarhairbabyball – what if Clinton manages to drag things out long enough to get not just the nomination, but the White House?

    That assumes the AG declined to prosecute, or otherwise blocked the charges. That doesn’t clear HRC, so no double jeopardy. What’s to stop a Republican House and Senate from conducting their own investigation (starting with evidence leaked by the FBI) and impeaching her? Nothing that I can see: pardoning herself on her first day in office would mean exactly nothing to the GOP. And if there’s evidence of revealing the identities of agents or protecting the backers of the Benghazi plot, an impeachment will have a lot more public support than one over an extra-marital affair.

    But further down that road, what if there was some question of negligence or malfeasance by her boss, the president? What would stop congress from going after ex-president Obama? “What did the (ex-)president know and when did he know it?” Talk about tarnishing a legacy.

    So am I barking up the wrong tree here, or is the above part of the Dem/BHO decision calculus?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A few exceptional people thrive under investigation.

        No mere mortals can come even close that kind of omnipotence.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Republicans could certainly impeach her, and I bet some of them are champing at the bit to do so (even the ones not enthusiastic about Trump).

      However, they tried that once with Bill Clinton and failed (very much because of their personal defects, but also because of their defects as a party). I would bet on their failing again, simply because the Benghazi hearings were such a cluster, at least so far as constructing a coherent narrative.

  16. DJG

    Hmmm. Torrente Sovara, in the comune of Anghiari, province of Arezzo in Tuscany. It flows into Umbria, where, naturalmente, the water is improved by all things Umbrian. Eventually, it joins other streams and flows into the Tiber. I thought that I recognized that water.

  17. marym

    President Obama Proposes Expanding Social Security Benefits

    Speaking at a high school in Elkhart, Indiana, Obama noted there are some Americans who don’t have retirement savings and those who might not be able to save money because they are unable to pay the bills.

    “…. not only do we need to strengthen its long term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they have earned.”

    Apparently he was just keeping his powder dry….

    1. tegnost

      chained cpi, actions speak louder than words….could be considered proof that he’s concerned about his legacy?

    2. Archie

      Beware,he speaks with forked tongue!! He never says what he means, nor means what he says.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      “strengthen its long term health”

      A rise in payroll taxes. I’ll leave the rest for others who want to play.

    4. marym

      Sanders Applauds Obama Support for Expanding Social Security

      PALO ALTO, Calif. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday applauded President Barack Obama’s support for expanding Social Security by asking the “wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more.”

      Sanders urged Hillary Clinton to back legislation endorsed by leading Democrats and seniors’ advocates to strengthen the retirement program.

      “I applaud President Obama for making it clear that it is time to expand Social Security benefits,” Sanders said. “Millions of seniors, disabled veterans and people with disabilities are falling further and further behind on $10,000 or $11,000 a year Social Security,” he added.

    5. marym

      Sanders Applauds Obama Support for Expanding Social Security

      PALO ALTO, Calif. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday applauded President Barack Obama’s support for expanding Social Security by asking the “wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more.”

      Sanders urged Hillary Clinton to back legislation endorsed by leading Democrats and seniors’ advocates to strengthen the retirement program.

      “I applaud President Obama for making it clear that it is time to expand Social Security benefits,” Sanders said. “Millions of seniors, disabled veterans and people with disabilities are falling further and further behind on $10,000 or $11,000 a year Social Security,” he added.

  18. edmondo

    “Trump has taught me to fear my fellow Americans” [Richard Cohen, WaPo]. ” I always knew who Trump was. It’s the American people who have come as a surprise.”

    I guess he thought they would never fight back?

    Look, Bernie sees the problem and offers solutions.

    Trump just sees the problem.

    Hillary denies that a problem even exists.

    If you are treading water economically just trying to get by and are hoping for someone, anyone to pin your hopes on, why the hell would it be Hillary? November is going to be very interesting and not in a good way.

  19. Praedor

    So Richard Cohen now fears American voters because of Trump. Well, on Diane Reem today (NPR) was a discussion on why fascist parties are growing in Europe. Both Cohen and the clowns on NPR missed the forest for the trees. The reason Trump and Sanders are doing well in the US while fascists are doing well in Europe is the same reason: neoliberalism has gutted, or is in the process of gutting, societies. Workers and other formerly “safe” white collar workers are seeing their job security, income security, retirement security all go up in smoke. Neoliberals are trying to snip and cut labor protections, healthcare, environmental regulations all for corporate profit. In Europe this is all in addition to a massive refugee crisis itself brought on by neoliberalism (neocon foreign policy is required for neoliberal social policy, they go hand-in-hand). The US and NATO destabilize countries with the intent of stealing their resources and protecting their markets, cause massive refugee flows which strain social structures in Europe (which falls right into the hands of the gutters and cutters of neoliberalism). Of course the people will lean fascist.

    In the US we don’t have the refugees, but the neoliberalism is further along and more damaging. There’s no mystery here or in Europe, just the natural effects of governments failing to represent real people in favor of useless eater rich.

    Make the people into commodities, endanger their washes and job security, impose austerity, and tale in floods of refugees. Of COURSE Europeans stay leaning fascist.

  20. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Lambert, for the good of the order, something from out of an old bookmarked file, Bernie Sanders filibustering Obama’s tax cuts in Dec 2010. Watching this, what Bernie is doing is totally consistent with his economic analyses going back years:


    Truly amazing to watch today.

    Back in 2010, he was pointing out to the US Senate that one single tax cut for the Walton family would pay for money for disabled Vets and Seniors. Just incredible.

      1. John k

        It is not possible for any politician to push that concept, the electorate expects taxes to pay for spending no matter how important the spending is. So all of his proposals are pay as you go, otherwise he presents the neoliberals with an easy target.
        Even if by some miracle he gets the bully pulpit he will have to be circumspect. Change out the fed, get Mmt types appointed, let them take the lead in educating the public. This would be a long tarm campaign.
        Meanwhile he is boxed in by the 98% of the public that think they know how our economy works.

  21. EGrise

    Just remembered an interview at the end of April with Seymour Hersh (This is Hell! podcast) where the interviewer asks how much HRC influenced BHO in the Libyan bombing campaign and what that might say about a Hillary Clinton administration. Here’s what Sy said in response (transcript mine):

    “You don’t need me to answer that question. I can tell you, I’m not done reporting about that. There’s a lot more to that than meets the eye. But, uh…I’m in to something. So I don’t want to be coy with you. But there’s no question that, just based on the emails that have been released […] she was much more aggressive about it.”

    Listening to it, one gets the impression that he just did not want to talk about HRC. Would love to know what Hersh knows, and what he’s up to now.

  22. Synoia

    but economists face a fundamental challenge with respect to innovation

    I read the article. Not a mention of Chaos theory.

    This is the best they can do: Economy Is a Highly Dynamic System That Can Go Far From Equilibrium and Become Trapped in Sub optimal States. (Sub Optimal for Who one could ask/)

    The Economy is a Chaotic System where Equlibria are Unpredictable, both in time and position.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Bryan Pagliano to take the Fifth in Judicial Watch deposition next week.


    What immunity was he granted already? It’s a secret.

    Unfortunately, young Bryan’s refusal to cooperate only bolsters the justification for compelling testimony from the ‘beest herself.

    What are Californians and New Jerseyans to make of this? Assume the worst, comrades. And you’ll still be underestimating how bad it is.

    Cleaning out the Augean stables was child’s play compared to decontaminating the Clintons’ noisome racketeering empire.

  24. Waldenpond

    Recent polling has Sanders within 2 in CA but it could get glitchy as CA news was reporting the State has 85% of indies not requesting a D ballot. If you are registered undeclared, you must request a D ballot or you automatically receive one without the Presidential candidates. The number of already returned undeclared ballots was not listed which would have been useful.

    Voting takes persistence. A regular voter had to make two requests to be switched to D. Still did not receive a D ballot and had to contact again for another ballot. I think people just give up.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “if you are registered undeclared, you must request a D ballot or you automatically receive one without the Presidential candidates”

      Kinda like joining a craft beer club, and receiving a shipment of O’Doul’s because you failed to declare a preference between IPA and porter.

      Gotcha … [suckah]

    2. sd

      NPP voters may bring their Vote By Mail ballot to their polling place and exchange it for a Democratic Party primary ballot. If they do not have their Vote by Mail ballot, and have not used their Vote by Mail ballot, they may still vote on a provisional ballot.

      If they are just registered as NPP and do not use Vote by Mail, they just simply request the Democratic Party ballot at their polling place.

      And yes, it has been extremely confusing and not well publicized.

      1. aab

        Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. I got trained this week as a Los Angeles County poll worker. NPP people get separate crossover ballots for each of the three parties they can crossover to. So you don’t exchange it for a Democratic party ballot, you exchange it for (or simply receive upon first request) an NPP Crossover Democratic ballot. It’s got a separate little design on top and everything.

        Also, if you are brand new voter, you have to bring your ID with you to the polling place, or you may be forced to use a provisional ballot — I couldn’t tell whether that was a Los Angeles county thing, or a state thing.

        Oh, and rumors are flying that a) Hillary people are going around claiming to be Bernie volunteers, gathering up completed Vote By Mail ballots from people at home and then presumably dumping them (as was done in Oregon); and b) that the state did not print enough NPP Crossover Democratic ballots, and will run out, possibly before election day. Given that our Secretary of State is known to be corrupt and a Clinton backer, these both seem like plausible tactics, in a huge state where county registrars have a lot of autonomy and almost 75% of the votes will be Vote By Mail. But I have no idea whether there is evidence for either. Given how the election theft and media propaganda on Clinton’s behalf has been systematic and blatant, people’s paranoia rachets up daily, as their trust in institutions sinks. Nice work, Clintonland. That won’t be a problem going forward at all.

        On the bright side, we were told that the LA registrar will count every valid provisional ballot, no matter what the percentages are. Again, I don’t know if that’s true in other counties. But I’ve had numerous interactions with the registrar staff, and they seem genuinely committed to doing the right thing and helping people vote, regardless of whom they’re voting for.

        The problems with people accidentally registering as American Independent Party (a far right party, and you can’t crossover from that to Dem, only from NPP to AIP or Dem) and people mistakenly thinking they can write Bernie in on NPP ballots (nope) instead of exchanging gives me heartburn. But then, CNN, MSNBC et al. will announce she’s clinched the nomination (again, not possible) right when most people get off work and head to the polls, so there are just SO MANY WAYS to screw with people.

  25. JCC

    On Gracie Slick and “White Rabbit’; the Rolling Stones did it earlier with “Mother’s Little Helper”, I think. Not quite the same message, but it definitely addressed parents’drug use vs what they expected out of their children.

    "Things are different today,"
    I hear ev'ry mother say
    Cooking fresh food for a husband's just a drag
    So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak
    And goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
    And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day
    Doctor please, some more of these
    Outside the door, she took four more
    What a drag it is getting old

    (My mother hated that song)

    1. Jim Haygood

      One Californian to another:

      Well she’s not the prettiest girl in the world
      I know she’s not the smartest one too
      But she’s always there and I know she cares
      And I know that her heart is true

      Well ain’t it amazin’, Gracie
      How much I love you
      I been all over the world but no other girl
      Ever thrilled me the way that you do

      — Buck from Bakersfield

  26. cripes

    The Lame Duck In Chief supports increasing Social Security…

    In other news, Obama Library’s volunteer board hires subcontractor that employs minimum-wage undocumented workers without benefits to polish presidential bust Made in China.

    Have we mentioned lately what an a**hole Obama is?

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