2:00PM Water Cooler 7/20/2016



“NPR’s Interview With President Obama About ‘Obama’s Years'” [NPR]. Another example of Obama both burnishing his legacy and lowering expectations for a future Democratic administration, as we saw him do yesterday in JAMA, where we saw him deploy the public option once more to suppress single payer. Here Obama deploys the Democrat central alibi, naturally unquestioned by the interviewer, Steve Inskeep:

[OBAMA:] What I would say is that I came into office wanting to work on a bipartisan basis, and if you’ve looked at my old speeches you would see that. [The Republicans] made a determination that it was good politics to oppose everything that I did. The problem was that by opposing everything I did, even things that previously they had been for, it pushed their party further and further to the right.

First, Obama (assuming good faith) is correct that he sought bipartisanship; for those who think platforms don’t matter, Obama’s faction revised the preamble of the Democrat platform in 2008 to reflect this. Second (assuming good faith), this was a major strategic miscalculation; why on earth would the party that impeached Bill Clinton over a **** *** go all soupy and bipartisan, suddenly? Third, the Republicans were correct in their determination: They won the House, the Senate, and most governorships. Fourth, despite Obama blaming those mean Republicans, in 2009 the Democrats had the House, the Senate, a mandate, and the Republicans were discredited. If Obama really wanted to get good policy through, the thing to do would have been to abolish the filibuster, as Reid in fact did, years later, when it didn’t matter, to get some judges through. Feh.


“Lobbyists have so far raised $7 million for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, while Donald Trump’s campaign reports he has collected $0 from K Street fundraisers” [WaPo]. Well, if there’s anything that shows Trump for the sociopath he is, it’s this. I mean, this is not normal behavior.

“All about that Democratic convention donor list you’re not supposed to see yet” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, committed to raising more than $60 million to host the Democrats’ convention, says it won’t disclose that information until after the July 25-28 event.” Seems legit.

UPDATE And then there’s this:

That’s Heather Podesta of the Podesta Family, John Podesta being Clinton campaign chair. So it’s good to see bipartisanship in Cleveland…

The Voters

“Who Will be President?” This is a “path to victory” interactive graphic that lets you test out various electoral college scenarios [New York Times]. “By letting you choose the outcome in the 10 most competitive states, it becomes very clear that Florida is the key to victory for Trump. Without it, it’s nearly impossible for him to win” [PoliticalWire]. Wasserman Schultz’s home state. How delicious

UPDATE “Donald Trump is probably not a long-time reader of The American Conservative. Yet those who are instantly recognized the constellation of issues Trump chose to highlight in his campaign: concern about mass immigration, criticism of the foreign policy that took us to war in Iraq, skepticism about free-trade deals. These were the distinguishing traits of Pat Buchanan’s campaigns in the 1990s. Trump is no paleoconservative, but he has independently discovered something that sounds a lot like paleoconservatism” [The American Conservative]. “That’s not a coincidence. The elements of a populist, nationalist right have been present in American politics since at least the end of the Cold War; the cluster of issues common to Trump and Buchanan is a natural set. It isn’t necessarily a winning political formula—opportunistic politicians have shunned this combination precisely because they thought it couldn’t win—but the economic and cultural conditions that bring it to life are persistent. As long as they exist, “paleoconservatism” will always come back, no matter what happens to campaigns like Buchanan’s or Trump’s.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Trump, Jr., was too naive to check.hire [sic] a speechwriter willing to do bespoke work rather than recycle, and was too naive to check” [Bradford DeLong]. I hope this doesn’t get me on some kinda liberal goodthinker hit list, but DeLong seems to angling for work like another former economist, Paul Krugman. He needs to work harder, and on more than proofreading. He should consider putting on his own yellow waders and going through a Clinton speech looking for “bespoke work,” as I have, or look at a Sanders speech, which was the same white paper with elbows delivered over and over again. Speechwriting is like that.


“In the year that Donald Trump was transformed from a long-shot presidential candidate into the presumptive Republican nominee, he took on more debt and sold at least $50 million of stocks and bonds. At the same time, the value of his golf courses and his namesake Manhattan tower soared” [Bloomberg]. So Trump’s candidacy works out for the Trump brand, which is Trump’s main asset, literally and metaphorically.


Christie on a Clinton presidency: “[A]ll the failures of the Obama years with less charm and more lies” [US News]. If Christie maintains the standard as an attack dog, he’ll certainly outdo Warren (and who would have thought the two would end up being comparable? It’s a funny old world).

“Tuesday was “Make America Work Again” day at the Republican National Convention, which also happened to coincide with the party formally nominating Donald Trump as its nominee” [The Intercept]. “But neither jobs nor Trump got much attention as a grab bag of Republican headliners Tuesday spent most of their time demonizing Hillary Clinton and talking about themselves without offering an affirmative case for the nominee or a concrete economic policy agenda.” Pivot to the general? In a way, the Republican “Because Clinton!” is a mirror image of the Democrat “Because Trump!” A fun-house mirror, perhaps, but still….

The Trail

Clinton on Kaine: “World-class mayor, governor, and senator and– is one of the most highly respected senators I know”  [NBC]. “While Clinton went on to praise Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, as well as Elizabeth Warren, it sure seemed like the Kaine stuff was a little too well-rehearsed.” Since Clinton is famously scripted, her staff may already have been prepping her.

“Election Update: Clinton’s Lead Is As Safe As Kerry’s Was In 2004” [Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight]. “What’s relatively safe to say is that we’ll know a lot more in a month or so.” 538’s charts are fun. But they’re just illustrations.

Interestingly, in 2008 the Clinton campaign accused Obama of plagiarizing from Deval Patrick, though it looks like the both of them were trading riffs [Snopes]. So I assume this story will die down now. Not. More on plagiarism here.

“Beyond the clear ethical violations here, there is a larger principle at play in the way that a Republican vision of the world relies on both the manual and intellectual labor of black women, while hating black women in practice” [Cosmopolitan].

The problem with this “vision” framing is that it airbrushes Democrat (hence neoliberal (hence Republican too)) economic violence against Black women. Delphine Davis, on Obama’s SOTU: “We heard about the economy and giving people a fair shot at opportunity. The president said that ‘we’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.’ But he didn’t acknowledge that black women aren’t advancing. Black women are more likely to experience wage theft and they are making 64 cents, compared to the 77 cents white women make, to every dollar made by white men in our economy. [Black Lives Matter]. Tavis Smiley: “On every leading economic issue, in the leading economic issues Black Americans have lost ground in every one of those leading categories. So in the last ten years it hasn’t been good for black folk. This is the president’s most loyal constituency that didn’t gain any ground in that period” (though note poll results at bottom) [Essence]. To be clear, I’m not urging either/or here (except in the sense that you can’t throw all your troops at a plagiarism dogpile and talk about the economy at the same time); I’m urging both/and. Thought experiment: Suppose we have policies D and R, and economic outcome E, and we set H to “hate.” If R + H = E, and D  = E, what does H equal?

UPDATE “Mary Susan Rehrer, a delegate from Minnesota, was standing in the hallway, outside of the convention floor posing for photographs in her red and blue light-up Trump cape that had been sewn for her by a ‘legal immigrant’ (who, in the true entrepreneurial spirit of the GOP convention, has since made a business of making light-up capes.) … “I’m in business, OK, and I speak for a living as one of the things that I do. All the best stuff is stolen and there is nothing original, so it’s all hocus pocus‘ Rehrer said. “We’re supposed to share.'” [Talking Points Memo]. So there you have the base. And her views are not without merit.

“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s three delegates at the Republican National Convention cost him and his campaign about $50 million each” [The Hill]. See, there is a bright side.

Canova v. Wasserman Schultz

“One former Sanders staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, put things bluntly: ‘It’s the proxy campaign'” [Miami New Times]. “Sanders staffers, too, have migrated to South Florida to help.” Profile of Canova, including:

Howie Klein, who operates the Blue America Political Action Committee, which raises money for progressive candidates, is a longtime Wasserman Schultz adversary. He recalls cold-calling Canova around that time. “I told him to please, please, please think about running really closely,” Klein says. “I called him out of the blue just to tell him how important it is that she can’t keep on winning without a challenge. The only way to get out that evil is with a primary.”

A rewrite  of the MTN article at Jezebel …  [Jezebel]. The new Sanders organization “Our Revolution will target candidates from both local and national campaigns, but one of its more prominent focuses includes Canova.” 

“Tim Canova, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, reported raising $1.7 million between April 1 and June 30, while Wasserman Schultz brought in $1.3 million” [The Hill]. “Canova’s fundraising boost is likely a result of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) May endorsement.”

The Hill

“In a ‘dear colleagues’ letter, House office buildings superintendent William Weidemeyer told members and staff that the Cannon House Office Building was experiencing lead levels above normal, according to a recent water test” [The Hill]. I know I shouldn’t joke about such matters, but this could account for a lot. But not to worry: I’m sure this problem will be fixed as fast as humanly possible.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of July 15, 2016: “An uptick in mortgage rates slowed mortgage activity in the July 15 week, with seasonally adjusted purchase applications for home mortgages down 2.0 percent and refinancing down 1.0 percent from the previous week” [Econoday]. From the “Why Investors Care” page: “[T]he economic backdrop is the most pervasive influence on financial markets.”

Employment Situation: “The number of teenagers finding summer jobs surged in June, as employment among 16- to 19-year-olds increased by 691,000. It was the biggest June job gain for teens since 2014” [Econintersect]. “Teenagers may be benefitting from a resurgence in the fast food industry. Unlike traditional retailers, which appear to be closing locations as more people shop online, food establishments are expanding.”

Shipping: “​Amazon wants to use lamp posts as perches for its high-tech delivery drones” [Sky News]. “A patent awarded to the shopping giant this week shows how it wants to use tall structures as bases for drones to recharge.” 

Shipping: “U.S. domestic shipping demand wavered in June, according to measures of freight transport activity, as retailers and manufacturers moved cautiously to restock inventories heading into the fall” [Wall Street Journal]. If imports via containers have gone up, shouldn’t trucking have gone up, as the bulge moves through the python? Note to self: Get better on potential timing mismatches… 

Shipping: “The surge in e-commerce spending is proving very profitable for the world’s biggest warehouse operator. Prologis Inc. reported record profits in the second quarter as rental rates jumped while demand swamped available space at distribution centers. Hamid Moghadam, the company’s chief executive, tells WSJ Logistics Report’s Brian Baskin that tight supply is helping keep vacancy rates low and rental rates high” [Wall Street Journal]. 

Retail: “Consumer-goods giant Procter & Gamble Co. is trying to cut out the middleman. The company that has long relied on retailers is testing new paths to consumers, [including] online subscriptions, free shipping and rapid-ordering apps linked to Tide-branded couriers. The tests are part of a growing move by manufacturers and distributors to reach households directly rather than looking for space on store shelves. P&G is facing a clear immediate threat from the Dollar Shave Club, the online subscription service that has chipped away at the dominance of Gillette razors” [Wall Street Journal].

“Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club LLC in a deal said to be worth about $1 billion, gaining a firmer foothold in the burgeoning market for male grooming products” [Bloomberg]. A bet on the subscription model.

Political Risk: “The new Brexit unit is hiring top lawyers at up to £5,000 a day as ministers begin spending the half a billion pounds it is thought will be needed each year to get Britain out of the European Union” [The Times of London]. “Whitehall officials believe that at least 5,000 extra civil servants will have to be recruited to deal with Brexit, but extra lawyers and management consultants paid on a daily basis will push the costs up further. The bill could reach £5 billion over a decade.” Not sure what the economist’s abstraction for this would be: Structural rigidity? Hysterisis? Organizational capability? At some point, it just gets simpler and cheaper for the peasants to burn all the land records…

Political Risk: “Federal auto-safety regulators are weighing requiring approval of automated-driving technologies before they reach the road” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Considers Expanding Automated-Driving Technology Oversight”]. “An approval process could slow the adoption of driverless-car technology.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 90, Extreme Greed (previous close: 87, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 87 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 20 at 11:20am. 

Militia Watch

“Harney County voters solidly reject effort to oust county judge who opposed Ammon Bundy” [Oregon Lives]. 


“Scientists from Stanford looked into deep underground aquifers—which are permeable, water-bearing rocks— and found that there was three times more water than previously expected, reports Capital Public Radio. And if saline water was included, there would be four times more water than estimated. Their research… focused on the Central Valley” [LAist]. “Specifically, scientists believe there are about two billion acre-feet of fresh water to be found underground in the Central Valley—enough for them to characterize it as a ‘water windfall.’ As noted by Capital Public Radio, one acre-foot is usually enough to sustain a California household for the entire year.” Awesome! Let’s go suck it all up! 


“Fewer allergies: A possible upside of thumb sucking and nail biting” [Harvard Health Publications] (original). “This fits with the “hygiene hypothesis,” which says that when children are exposed to germs early in life, their immune system gets trained to attack germs, rather than attacking itself as we see in allergies, asthma, and eczema (of note, the researchers didn’t find protection against asthma or hay fever, and didn’t report a measure of eczema). This hypothesis doesn’t explain everything we see about allergies and other examples of the body attacking itself, but it certainly may play a role — and when kids suck their thumbs or bite their nails, they do put all sorts of new germs into their mouths and therefore their bodies.”

“This is not the only study on fish cognition. In fact, there have been hundreds of other studies since 1873 that have demonstrated the ability of many different species of fish to learn a wide variety of skills. We go to school to learn. Fish, whether in a school or not, are fully capable of learning. Despite their extensive innate skills and lack of any formal education from parents or teachers, fish absolutely have the capacity to learn new skills” [Ocean Bites]. I had no idea fish used chemicals from the skin as a means of communication. Then again, I suppose they would find speech odd. “Through the air? Really?”

The Looting Professional Classes

“Three attorneys general on Tuesday directly challenged Volkswagen’s defense over its emissions deception, calling the decision to thwart pollution tests an orchestrated fraud that lasted more than a decade, involved dozens of engineers and managers and reached deep into the company’s boardroom” [New York Times]. How do they live with themselves?

Class Warfare

“There are millions of Americans who have never really recovered. The jobs market, as the White House is quick to say, has come back. But wages haven’t. It’s worth remembering that median household income peaked in this country back in 1999 at $57,843. Based on Census data analyzed by Sentier Research, it was, as of April of this year, $57,367″ [Paul Brandus, MarketWatch]. “If you’re looking for one reason above all others to explain why Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, and why Bernie Sanders did so well on the Democratic side—look no further than these data points. Real wages one percent lower after 17 years: literally a lost generation.” 

“‘I just couldn’t believe [Disney] could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,’ said one [data systems] former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. ‘It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it'” [New York Times (Re Silc)]. Economist: “But H1B visas are an efficieny gain for the whole world, so suck it up. ‘Scuse me, gotta catch the Acela!”

UPDATE “Wells Fargo & Co., the world’s most valuable bank, plans to start a robo-advisory service in 2017, Chief Operating Officer Tim Sloan said” [Bloomberg]. First, they came for the proles….

UPDATE “Inter-generational trauma is a concept developed to help explain years of generational challenges within families. It is the transmission (or sending down to younger generations) of the oppressive or traumatic effects of a historical event” [Psychology Central]. When you combine this idea with a lack of social mobility, you’ve got an interesting way to think through class consciousness (or, in the case of opioids, class unconsciousness (kidding! (except not…)).

News of the Wired

“Kumamon is kawaii – the [Japanese] word is translated as “cute”, but the word has broad, multilayered meanings, encompassing a range of sweetly alluring images and behaviours” [Guardian]. “People spend a lot on cute avatars – Kumamon earned $1 billion in 2015, Hello Kitty four or five times that. But what is cute? What is the basis of its appeal? Does appreciation for cuteness come naturally, or does it reveal something about our society? Is it broadly positive – or could cuteness harbour darker facets as well? These are some of the questions being addressed by a nascent academic field, cute studies.” Help me.

“Six months after the death of David Bowie, normal reality is collapsing at an ever-increasing rate” [News Thump]. “Scientists have concluded that Bowie was in some way integral to the function of what we call normality in ways which they have not yet properly begun to understand, but postulate a hitherto unknown particle called the ‘Bowon’ which helped the universe keep its shit together.

How to test your VPN to see if your IP address is leaking [Another Word for It].

“Um, bad news: Pixelating or blurring doesn’t actually work to hide text” [Fusion] (original). “We conclude that hidden Markov models allow near-perfect recovery of text redacted by mosaicing or blurring for many common fonts and parameter settings, and that mosaicing and blurring are not effective choices for textual document redaction.” Oopsie.

“NASA’s Kepler space telescope has spotted four possibly rocky alien planets orbiting the same star, and two of these newfound worlds might be capable of supporting life” [Scientific American]. But first, we have to break out of that alien quarantine round the solar system…. 

“The [United States Digital Service] intends to replicate, assembly-line-style, the sprint that saved healthcare.gov. Using talent recruited on the basis of patriotism and the promise of impactful work, USDS tries to target similar moribund projects, or problems that could be addressed by modern tech practices, and produce stuff that works, at a fraction of the traditional cost” [BackChannel]. So in other words neoliberal projects designed to extract rents through artificial complexity can be saved through better software engineering. What a triumph for the human spirit!

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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 (AW):

Joshua Tree cactus flower

A Joshua Tree National Park cactus flower.

Readers, if you want to send me some videos of plants in whole systems (bees and blossoms, for example, or running streams) — I can use them to practice with FFmpeg and hopefully post them. Because of download times, they’ll have to be measured in seconds, rather than minutes. Thank you! Adding, I got another one today! Please keep sending them; they will ultimately appear!

I have finally finished sending thank you notes to the people who helped out during the quick and successful Water Cooler Mini-Fundraiser by sending in checks. Thank you, readers! So, to my knowledge, all should have been thanked, and for those of you who used PayPal, if you have not been, and you have checked your spam folder, don’t hesitate to complain using my contact form.

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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. ekstase

    The “Ocean Bites” study of how fish can learn raises some questions, especially for those who are “vegetarians except for eating fish.” (Hypocritical? No.) They’re loaded with nutrition, but also mercury, and now, thanks to Fukishima, maybe radiation. They seem dumb, but we think that of everything that lives in the water. And the fact that fish are not taught by their elders but have to learn stuff on their own, maybe not so dumb after all.

    1. Steve C

      My goldfish are so smart, I’m sending them to college. They speak to me all the time, saying, “feed me, feed me,” or “feed me?” Sometimes they say, “please feed me.”

        1. John Merryman

          Our cats only know one word; “Now.”

          Though occasionally they soften the sound and emphasize the verb, so it sounds like “meow.”

          Though they might just be trying to say, “Me, now.”

          1. Strangely Enough

            One of my cats has figured out, “turn on the faucet. The dog’s been drinking out of my bowl, again.”

    2. tony

      Mate, even bacteria talk to each other, plan ahead, work together, wage wars and so on. They are less complex than single cells of complex organisms. Perhaps we should not worry so much about what we kill, but instead look at the results of our actions on the ecosystem.

  2. Steve C

    Confirming Lambert’s comment, I noticed the PBS commentators last night said disapprovingly that 90 percent of what the Republican speakers did was attack Hillary, while the horrors of Donald Trump comprise 90 percent of the Democrats’ current message. We’ll see if PBS heaps the same scorn on them next week.

    1. Pat

      The View this morning was all about this as well. Although a token conservative did point out that that was what the Democrats were campaigning on and that you should expect the same focus at that convention.
      And while I agree with Goldberg’s contention that it should be more about policy, I would like to ask her when has a President and his party presented their policies at the convention and then acted in any way to enact those policies (not shadow or spin act/act) in our adult lifetimes.

  3. ambrit

    Most of the water pumped up out of the central California aquifers, indeed, most US aquifers, is used, and used very inefficiently, for crops. This is an example where greed outdoes technology. If California farmers used irrigation techniques being employed in a dry country, like Israel, California might never run short of water. As for the demands of greed, look no farther than almond groves. As linked to some weeks ago, almond trees use high amounts of water to grow those tasty little buttons. With almost free water to irrigate with, the profit spreads for almond orchards must be avarice unbound.

      1. nobody

        “Burry is incredibly media-shy, but according to my research he’s been buying up almond farms. Why? Growing almonds takes a ridiculous amount of water – 1 gallon per almond. Paradoxically, 80% of the world’s almond supply is grown in California, which is going through one of the worst droughts in the state’s history.

        “Now, farmers can fallow most crops if there is a drought and just start over the next year. But you can’t fallow an almond orchard. An almond tree takes 3 years to mature and produces for 18-20 years. Without water, the tree dies and the farmer loses an enormous long-term investment. Because surface water has been rationed in California, farmers are drilling deeper and deeper for groundwater just to keep their almond orchards alive.

        “Burry’s thesis is pretty clear now. With the demand for almonds continuing to grow, the farmland with the best access to onsite water is the one that is going to win out in the end, gaining share as competing almond farmers run out of water and are forced out of the marketplace.”


        1. visitor

          Growing almonds takes a ridiculous amount of water – 1 gallon per almond. Paradoxically, 80% of the world’s almond supply is grown in California

          Something is wrong here.

          Almond trees were a widespread tree in Southern Europe precisely because they do not require much or any watering once grown up (beyond winter rain), and can withstand drought (contrarily to, for instance, orange trees).

          Are those almond trees planted in the desert areas of California? Then I understand the problem — but then they should plant date palms there, not almond trees which are wholly unsuitable for utterly arid country.

          1. nobody


            Well, I just googled almond water needs. Lots of results, including this:

            “It’s not clear exactly when almonds became the scapegoat for the California drought.

            “Maybe it was last August, when the Atlantic posted ‘The Dark Side of Almond Use,’ implicating the tasty little nut in every environmental crisis from bee colony collapse disorder to the struggles of the state’s Chinook salmon population.

            “Or maybe it was in February, when a headline in Mother Jones blared, ‘It takes how much water to grow an almond?!’ (Profoundly misleading answer: 1.1 gallons per nut.)

            “Since then, the almond’s culpability for you name it — our depleting aquifers, our sinking topsoil, the heartbreak of psoriasis — has become an article of faith among finger-wagging pundits and environmental activists.”

              1. uncle tungsten

                Dry rice cultivation produces equivalent yields to water based rice cultivation. There are vast areas of dry rice cultivation on the planet.

                Water pond cultivation derives from mighty wet environments and the water ponding is partly weed control. See One Straw Revolution for Japanese innovation.

          2. different clue

            Plant date trees instead? My understanding of date palms is that they too are water hogs. That is why they grow around oases and next to rivers. I read once there was an Arab saying that the date palm lives “with its head in Fire and its feet in Water.” I had always understood date palms to be a kind of “green flame” . . . burning through water like it was . . . water.

            If California wants a desert friendly tree to grow for food, they should do the breeding work on mesquites to come up with mesquite bean/pod sources that make a kind of mesquite-meal that mainstream American customers will accept. ( Maybe when enough Americans are poor enough and hungry enough, they will be ready to consider new foods like “mesquite beans”).

        2. HotFlash

          Um, I don’t know anything about almonds, or CA farm land either, but do these almond farms have water rights attached to them somehow?

      2. Oregoncharles

        There is a variety of almond hardy in western Oregon. Not commonly grown – even I don’t have it. but could be ramped up in about 5 years. There is a place growing olives here, and tea is easy.

        There are also sweet-pit apricots,, with edible seeds, which are TOO hardy for the maritime and are grown east of the mountains.

    1. nowhere

      Yeah, rather than using more efficient drip systems, most farmers just flood entire groves.

      Eh, who knows, maybe the Central Valley will just sink into oblivion.

    2. Foppe

      Crops? Hardly. Dairy and meat, secondarily feed crops. (70-80% of corn and wheat used in the US is used as feed, 90+% of soy). Sure, almonds and alfalfa (animal feed again) are wasteful, but they still pale in comparison to animal agriculture when it comes to wastefulness, of water as well as of calories and energy generally. Eat autotrophes.

      1. different clue

        So stop feeding any grain to the ruminants and make them settle for grass and forage that grows on land too steep or fragile to grow crops on. Grain-waste problem solved. And only let them live on such land where enough skywater falls that no irrigation is needed for the grass and/or forage.
        Water-waste problem solved.

        1. nowhere

          It would also save tons of petrochemical fertilizers used to grow the grains and chemical pest control agents (glyphosphate, etc..

    3. JCC

      Almonds are a very insignificant part of the problem.

      Another few thousand feet of water removed from the Central Valley underground aquifers will also increase the subsidence rate of the entire valley, causing far more problems in both the near and far future.


      A quick search will show some amazing pictures of areas in the Central Valley that have dropped as much as 10 feet. In fact it seems to me that I first became aware of this a few months ago due to a link seen here on the NakedCapitalism site.

  4. Propertius

    If Obama really wanted to get good policy through, the thing to do would have been to abolish the filibuster, as Reid in fact did, years later, when it didn’t matter, to get some judges through. Feh.

    They didn’t even have to do that. They could have let the Republicans filibuster and just waited them out, as LBJ did when he was Senate Majority Leader facing opposition from his own party to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. IIRC, he had cots brought in and essentially locked down the Senate chamber until the filibuster ran out of steam and a vote couId be taken. I doubt if it would have taken anywhere near as long as it did in 1957, since Thurmond’s filibuster (which supposedly included a reading of his grandmother’s biscuit recipe) wasn’t televised on C-SPAN.

      1. Pat

        And do not forget how much Bush got done with reconciliation, in the Obama years that meant producing an even less effective more industry friendly ACA then they had to and not much else.

        1. Steve C

          I first assumed Obama and the Democrats would have a big reconciliation bill with a jobs program, health care, a Wall Street tax, etc. When it was clear they had no such plans, my first reaction was disbelief at their political malpractice. My next reaction was to realize they were and are complete frauds.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            One of the reasons I felt free to leave my job in the corporate cube in 2006, even though I had health insurance, was that Maine had a state health insurance program, and that the Democrats couldn’t possibly screw up on universal health care. Ten years later…

                1. Steve C

                  So I throw out the question: Is Obama supremely, tragically misguided and deluded, the world’s greatest liar, or some of both?

                  Or is he gifted and talented Dick Gephardt?

                  1. aab

                    While Strangely’s answer is more entertaining, I think it gives Obama too much credit. We* know now he was bankrolled by Goldman Sachs and was already a creature of the Chicago FIRE sector.

                    Personally, I think he hates black people and his own black skin, and enjoyed using it to trick people with the magical negro myth to put him into power to then act against both leftists and black people. He’s a Kansas Republican made more toxic.

                    He’s not even that great a liar. He understood how to best exploit his particular situation, and then bought a smart marketing operation for the campaign. His communications got notably less persuasive as soon as he was in power. But then he had the classic con artist’s advantage, in that all those Democrats who had bought into his campaign (literally, in many cases) couldn’t admit he was a fraud, especially because he was black. Can’t say a black man is a deceitful crook and be a good Democrat. Well, unless that man is a Republican.

                    The “X identity means that person must be good, especially to others with that same X identity” is very strong, whether it’s race, gender, orientation, ethnicity, etc.

                    And here is my required acknowledgement that I voted, volunteered for and donated to his 2008 campaign. I used to think at least I got my main objective: keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Presidency. Alas, he has betrayed me even in that.

                    *”We” meaning it is now more broadly understood. I realize there were people screaming into the void about this at that time.

            1. clarky90

              Hi Lambert
              I have been in ketosis (low blood sugar, high ketones) for a few months. It is a high saturated fat (80%), low protein (10% to 15%), low carb (5% to 10%). Metabolically, most humans are oil burners (like diesel cars), not glucose burners (like petrol cars). A person in ketosis releases 33% less CO2 per energy burned.

              Otto Warburg, Nobel Prize winning biochemist found that cancer cells could not metabolize ketones. Cancer cells are insane sugar addicts. Take away the sugar.

              Being in ketosis, with the resulting very low insulin levels, seems to have a myriad of beneficial health effects.

              A healthy body is my only valuable possession.

              Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Travis Christofferson, author of the phenomenal book “Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path to a Cure.”



    1. nihil obstet

      What’s now called a “filibuster” is simply a corrupt practice of requiring a supermajority for legislation, in violation of democratic procedure. There’s a legitimate argument for what used to be the filibuster — in a deliberative body, a member has the right to speak on the bill under consideration. He can be stopped by a cloture vote. This procedure, like all organizational procedures, could be used for other reasons, specifically to stop the bill.

      The Senate’s decision to kill the legitimate argument and simply adopt the “stop the bill” effect converted the filibuster into simple corruption. No effort necessary, simply the scheduling of a cloture vote on every piece of legislation that no Senator is speaking on. All those numbers of filibusters in recent congresses that are reported to show increased gridlock show nothing of the kind. If every vote of the Senate that passed with fewer than 60 votes back when cloture was needed only to stop debate was counted, you’d almost certainly find a similar level of supposed gridlock.

      For Senators who hate democracy, the simple supermajority requirement has some really good advantages over the requirement to speak to the bill:
      1) You can stop a bill with no effort. If you had to speak, you’d have to bestir yourself a little.
      2) A simple cloture vote doesn’t draw any publicity. A debate on a subject of interest could attract public attention. If you’re speaking against a popular bill, like environmental protection or consumer rights, you really don’t want the voters back home to learn about it.
      3) There’s no means to break a supermajority requirement. Yes, LBJ broke the anti-Civil Rights filibuster. He could call the vote as soon as the speakers against it ran out of steam. You recall correctly. He brought in cots and refused to give the speakers rest by adjourning for the night(s). The determined majority broke the determined minority. If the rules had been what they are now, a simple cloture vote failure would have ended the Civil Rights bill.

      Again, the so-called filibuster of today is corrupt.

  5. MartyH

    About the President’s techies (USDS) … they’re doomed … in my humble opinion. Converting government development practices to “modern” and/or “Silicon Valley” principles puts the government computer-contractor industry at risk of losing money (at least making a lot less and being forced to actually produce what they promise). That means that these start in-house geniuses have to be shut down.

    The approach of the USDS is to get stuff done quickly and at low cost using small teams of well-paid people. No cost-plus leveraging for the use of larger numbers of people and less efficient practices so the costs are contained, the motivations are to deliver, and the team is rewarded by kudos within the system. For the contracting industry, the more people and people-hours burned, the more the cost-plus profits. And there’s (generally) no effective motivation to succeed … a HUGE proportion of the effort ends up spent in process control fighting about what “changed” to justify the constant and expensive over-runs.

    Contractors to government (as well as other large bureaucratic enterprises) live off of the inefficiencies and deficiencies of their processes and business models. Investors in Silicon Valley won’t pay for that and thus the real software industry is many times more efficient in its mission-critical projects.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I also wonder how much of this work is glitzy front end stuff that doesn’t address back end (data and data interchange) problems at all. You will remember that ObamaCare’s very serious back-end problems were never addressed by Obama’s techie SWAT team; they only fixed the user experience in the browser.

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’ve only slapped fresh paint on an F-35, but you see what I mean.

  6. ekstase

    “NASA’s Kepler space telescope has spotted four possibly rocky alien planets orbiting the same star, and two of these newfound worlds might be capable of supporting life”

    I like to visualize the folks on those planets as they realize Earthlings are about to spot them for the first time:

    “Dear God! We’ve been hiding all this time! How did this happen?”

    “Don’t worry, we’ve got at least 100 years before they figure out how to get over here.”

    1. Synoia

      Don’t worry, we’ve still got at least 100 years after they figure out how to get over here.

  7. neo-realist

    Have the scientists who studied the benefits of thumb sucking also studied whether or not the immune system benefits offset the cost of orthodonture due to the overbite caused by the thumb sucking?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe…I am never sure why or for what purpose we do that.

          So, perhaps I over-reacted.

  8. Lambert Strether Post author

    Melania Trump’s Speechwriter Takes Responsibility for Lifted Remarks NYT

    CLEVELAND — A longtime employee of the Trump Organization took responsibility for lifting two passages, from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama, for Melania Trump’s address on Monday at the Republican National Convention, saying that it was an innocent mistake.

    It’s good to see that the Trump organization has the chops to get a staffer to fall on their sword (not that this is a claim about “what really happened”). The reportorial resources devoted to this have been staggering, so well-played, Clinton campaign.

    But what about the rickrolking?

    1. Pat

      As with so many of the Clinton campaign plans, I’m pretty sure this is going to backfire over time. Oh the convinced will stay with Clinton and the convinced will stay with Trump, but I’m not so sure this is going to convince anyone on the fence to do diddly. (Especially if they realize how typical spousal support speech nonsense it all was).
      It does pretty much say that the press is into the nonsense though.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They seem petty and xenophobic about foreigners’ ability to write a good speech in English.

        “Impossible she wrote that.”

    2. allan


      She’s had ties to the Trump organization for a very long time: McIver has been a member of the Trump Organization — the principal holding company for all of Trump’s interests — since at least 2001.

      She’s a full-time staff writer there, and not, it seems, a paid member of his campaign, which raises questions about whether Trump violated campaign finance laws in using her help.

      “If Trump used corporate resources to write a political speech, that could be illegal,” my colleague Philip Bump reports.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Again, amateur hour.

        On the other hand, when you consider what the professional political class hath wrought, there’s a lot to be said for dust-binning the lot of them, to the happy sound of smashing rice bowls, no matter that what the wonks of the political class think of as norms are violated.

        Am I right in thinking that Phillip Bump was the guy who thought he had an ginormous gotcha when he discovered that the average campaign contribution to the Sanders campaign had increased from $27 to $29?

        Not my circus, not my monkeys…

        1. Carolinian

          You probably are right because this dweeb thinks he’s Woodward and Bernstein.

          That said, the rule of thumb for a good election scandal is the more out of left field the better. Kerry and Swiftboating come to mind. Personally I think the more the press keep telling people not to vote for Trump the more likely he is to win.

  9. DJG

    Brad DeLong, speeches, and “bespoke.” So we are now using “bespoke” in polite conversation, aping our betters, the English. Not noticing the pickle that the English and their preconceptions have gotten themselves into. (Gotten, not got.)

    But let us continue: Would you like spotted dick or an ice lolly for pudding?

    1. Vatch

      Do kids still put playing cards in the spokes of their bicycles? Would those qualify as bespoke spokes?

      1. DJG

        Would that they did. I haven’t seen the old card-and-clothespin contraption in a while. Have you?

          1. JCC

            Way cool, but not at $2200.00 per bike. Most kids can’t afford a bike that costs that much, let alone a pair of wheels.

      2. Uahsenaa

        We got our daughter a new bike for her birthday, and I showed her this just yesterday. I used a playing card, rather than a baseball card, but it still gives that satisfying buzz.

    2. aab

      The snobbery here is illuminating. I’m going to guess that lots of regular voters are going to think “off the rack” speech sounds like a wise use of funds.

      That Trump is willing to go off the rack for his campaign’s messaging content must be extra enraging to the courtiers.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m turning way too counter-suggestible, but how much of this is whinging from the political wonk subset of the looting professional class? “I’m a Democrat, but Trump didn’t give my good Republican friend a job!” [dogpiling].

        “ZOMG!! How can Trump be a serious candidate when big Republican donors are staying home????” Among them, the Koch Brothers, who in other contexts are incarnate evil. Maybe it’s a good thing they are?

  10. DJG

    Tim Kaine: I can feel the charisma here all the way in Chicago.

    At least she hasn’t felt compelled to nominate the fig-leaf general or admiral. But time will tell.

  11. DJG

    Hello Kitty: Aside from the fact that Hello Kitty props up a good portion of the Japanese economy, there are her existential aspects. Hello Kitty is a little girl, you know. Her name is Kitty White, born in the suburbs of London on 1 November (All Saints, or, in this instance, All Kami Day). She is way beyond kawaii. She brings up existential questions as big as those posed by Sartre and Schrodinger. And theological questions, too. Wowsers.

    1. different clue

      If “intersectionality” is a thing worthy of study, then “cuteness” is a thing equally worthy of study.

      I await with bated breath the day when a clever intellectual can “find” the “intersection” between “cuteness” and “intersectionality”.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, in the sense that “nothing human is alien to me,” perhaps. However, the possibilities for manipulating people by coroporations who can engineer cuteness seem a lot greater to me. If not vulgarized by Democrats, intersectionality ought to be about precious human variety and perseverance, and standing in the other person’s shoes.

        1. Tim

          Animators absolutely know what makes cuteness. Its the ratio of the size of the big eyes to the small furry head.

          Cuteness is disarming and attention getting at the same time, and therefore has a high potential for marketing/manipulation/sales.

        2. hunkerdown

          Apparently, the pony is out of the stable on that one. Compare the designs of My Little Pony over time (Strawberry Reef). Observe, for instance, the rounding of the heads, the outsize eyes, and the humanization of the bodies. Clearly, the engineering of cuteness is near at hand.

        3. nobody

          Lambert and/or anybody else,

          Speaking of “nothing human is alien to me,” I’m wondering whether anybody knows specifically what the meaning is in context. On a past occasion I pursued this question, but only got as far as: Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto comes from Terence’s Heautontimoroumenos.

          I still wanted to know, though, which character said that? In what circumstances? Does it mean something like how it sounds if taken at face value? Or is it like “This above all: to thine own self be true” when spoken by Polonius?

          Prompted anew, I just found this: “Terentius probably said it first, in the context of a play where a character uses it as justification to butt in where he really doesn’t belong.”

          That’s still pretty vague. Too bad I can’t just ring up Boris Johnson and let him set the matter straight. But maybe somebody here has a clue?

          1. Propertius

            This is the exchange where the quote occurs:

            Have you so much leisure, Chremes, from your own affairs, that you can attend to those of others-those which don’t concern you?

            I am a man, and nothing that concerns a man do I deem a matter of indifference to me.

            That should be sufficient to answer your question ;-).

            I knew that Classics degree would be useful someday.

      2. DJG

        And Hello Kitty will be standing at that intersection, with one of her little purses, her twin sister Mimmy, and her pet hamster Sugar.

        [Yikes, you can’t make this stuff up.]

      3. nobody

        Intersectionality as a thing…

        “In the ’90s we grew accustomed to the idea that every marginalized identity’s claim to recognition has to be recognized and respected — a form of discursive etiquette sometimes summed up in the buzzword ‘intersectionality,’ a term originating in legal studies which now has an intellectual function comparable to ‘abracadabra,’ or ‘dialectics’.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hello Kitty’s autobiography, probably ghost written, will be called “I Am a Kitty,’ not to be confused with the Japanese novel, “I Am a Cat.”

  12. cocomaan



    The conclusion is that “student loan debt is an investment in human capital that typically pays off through higher lifetime earnings and increase productivity.”

    Mish Shedlock posted this graph from the report. he said he had no problem with the graphs, but I think he missed the obvious: https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/college-study-2.png

    Absolutely bizarre. A representation of lifetime earnings a time period of many decades against a representation of student loan debt amount at graduation, sans lifetime interest, sans opportunity cost from paying it off, basically a snapshot in time.

    Does anyone else see how radically dishonest that graph is? If I took just the interest on one of these loans and stuck it into an index fund and kept it there over the course of that lifetime earnings period, I’d have a huge nest egg.

    I cannot believe the White House would peddle this kind of nonsense, but my expectations get lower and lower every day.

    1. Berned,notracist

      Jezus, I thought I was the only person who saw this yesterday! The sheer audacity . I like how the obvious (“education is a net positive for the economy”) is contorted into the odious (ergo “student loan debt is good for the economy”). The paper contained a whole bunch of wowsers that could use some debunking. Maybe a special NC post is coming up? But yeah, it’s about what I expect from this government. Can’t wait till the CEA starts talking up how great medical debt is because it allows people to access health care, or how great debt is for corporate America because it allows them to invest (even though virtually all of it is going to stock buybacks!), or how great the payday lending industry is for providing necessary liquidity to low income Americans. Really, these people are shameless. I’m dropping in excess of $600/month on students loans. That’s money that goes to the people who could afford to lend to the gov’t, who will in turn use my grubby cash to wipe their hindquarters. It would be better spent on say a fridge or a dishwasher (my wife and I are virtually squatting in an abandoned house).

      1. Tim

        While everybody is busy flinging poo about what is making our real lives so bad, financialization sits there in the corner silently like the grim reaper. Nobody seems to notice.

        The banks are the rentier class and they are still winning. So far I’m not sure the Anti-establishment is smart enough to notice this as the cause of the establishments betrayal of society and do something about it. If they don’t they will fail and the establishment will rise again and democracy will fail due to our collective stupidity.

      2. cocomaan

        Glad you saw it too. Sometimes it pays to read Zero Hedge. Usually it’s just junk food, but they were the only ones who reposted this, since I don’t read Mish that often.

        The insanity of it boggles the mind. Any critiques of the debt-peonage system are buried deep in the report.

        For your situation (delaying house purchase), don’t worry, they hand wave and cite things from five years ago to account for your situation. Just know that your future earnings await!

  13. Jim A

    Lead in the Cannon building…
    I wonder if Rep. Dan Kildee (who represents Flint) has his office there…

  14. fresno dan

    “There are millions of Americans who have never really recovered. The jobs market, as the White House is quick to say, has come back. But wages haven’t. It’s worth remembering that median household income peaked in this country back in 1999 at $57,843. Based on Census data analyzed by Sentier Research, it was, as of April of this year, $57,367″ [Paul Brandus, MarketWatch]. “If you’re looking for one reason above all others to explain why Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, and why Bernie Sanders did so well on the Democratic side—look no further than these data points. Real wages one percent lower after 17 years: literally a lost generation.”

    and my own bugaboo

    To paraphrase Mish, inflation in what you need to remain alive, deflation in crap….
    But it all evens, or more accurately, flattens out in the end, i.e., your flattened, and the 1% rises

  15. different clue

    A “joshua tree cactus” flower? Really? Is there such a thing as a “joshua tree cactus”?

    1. Ivy

      p.s., the picture doesn’t show a joshua tree and looks more like an Opuntia, often referred to as a prickly pear cactus. You may have seen nopalitos, strips of the cactus ‘paddles’, in a jar at a grocery store, if the store has Mexican items.

      1. grayslady

        One of my local grocery stores has the fresh cactus paddles in the produce section. I understand that they are used in salads, among other dishes.

        1. craazyboy

          We have a cactus park-farm down the road and they sell prickly pear jam made from the fruit. Yummy too. But they say don’t try making it at home unless you know what you are doing. They have tiny prickers in the fruit that will play havoc with your esophagus. May even require emergency medical attention – tho I shudder to think what the procedure may be.

    2. dk

      The cactuses in Joshua Tree National park can be referred to as Joshua Tree cactuses, note the capitalization.

  16. Buttinsky

    Heather Podesta.

    I’m sure by the time this gets out of moderation, the matter will have been corrected (as another NC reader has previously done). Heather Podesta used to be married to John Podesta’s brother Tony, and hence is his ex-sister-in-law, not wife.

    1. Christopher Fay

      So Heathers Pedesta keeps the ex-husband’s name as it is good for marketing.

  17. TheCatSaid

    Nate Silver has lost credibility with me long ago. For example, this piece “Election Update: Clinton’s Lead Is As Safe As Kerry’s Was In 2004” blithely ignores the 2004 election fraud that was proven in 2008. Silver says,

    Based on the polls, we think the model is setting those odds about right. The race is a long way from being a toss-up, but a 3 or 4 percentage point lead heading into the conventions isn’t all that reliable, either. While Obama won twice with pre-convention leads of about that margin, John Kerry went into his convention with a lead of about 3 percentage points in 2004, but lost to George W. Bush.

    But the 2004 Ohio election was stolen; proven by physical records now publicly available thanks to Richard Hayes Phillips. He wrote a book complete with DVD of images of all the audited ballots. It took him 2 years to get access to the physical ballots and complete election records, then another 2 years to analyze the evidence, going down to precinct level (and in some cases, individual machines). While too late for any remedy in the courts, fraud was proven. You can watch an engaging talk he gave to Audit AZ here.

    Nate Silver and other political analysts keep doing analysis based on polls which were audited to fit fraudulent results–going back over many election cycles. It is all kabuki theater. Entertainment for the masses, look here but there’s nothing to see over there.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      IIRC, Phillips was an expert witness in a voter fraud court case (don’t have the cite). Do you have links to his testimony, say in the form of PDFs? I don’t have time to watch a video, and if there’s no transcript, I can’t cite to it anyhow.

  18. Anne

    That Clinton is allegedly on the brink of naming Tim Kaine as her running mate is all the evidence you need to confirm that she is completely clueless. And that if she ever had any to begin with, she has completely run out of fks to give about whether or if Sanders’ supporters vote for her – in spite of there clearly being an opportunity to salvage some of them with a real-life, actual progressive VP.

    Is it any wonder so many of us feel largely invisible to the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party? It wasn’t enough that some 14 million people voted for a truly liberal agenda; the only thing that mattered was that she won, and that entitles her to treat us like we don’t count.

    I guess she’s counting on us voting for her because we have no other choice; I don’t think it’s going to work this time,

    1. Berned,notracist

      The Tim Kaine/Vilsak/whoever else for VP thing is just really the last straw. HRC and the DNC show no interest in winning over leftists. Their misguided strategy is appeal to non-Trump Republicans. It’s funny. I always envisioned living in a one-party state. I just figured it would be Cuba.

        1. DJG

          But, Lambert, Kaine is an pro-life Catholic who will somehow straddle the great divide. I guess that he doesn’t want to charge women with murder. You’d think that if Clinton were serious about a woman’s right to control her body and conception, HRC would be highly skeptical of Kaine. You’d think that would rule him out.

          But then, Gloria Steinem seems to have believed for a while that women joined the Sanders campaign to meet those Bernie Hunks.

          Somehow, power and feminism as careerism seem to mix quite well. (So long as you aren’t one of the disadvantaged sisters.)

      1. Tom Allen

        It’s a pretty clear philosophical statement by her. (Clinton, Kaine and Vilsack were all DLC members; Vilsack chaired the organization from 2005-2007.) The left wing of the party is definitely not being courted with such a pick.

    2. Pat

      I’m thinking that Lambert and Yves or a few of the commenters here could front a new business model in political analysis, or at least get a book or two out of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign mistakes in 2008 and 2016, how the worlds most popular and most hated woman lost the Presidency that so many people worked so hard to hand her.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Count me as a former Sanders supporter who isn’t about to vote for Clinton. Although she hasn’t closed the sale with me yet, Jill Stein is looking better all the time.

      1. Detroit Dan

        I’m planning to vote Stein. I got in a big discussion last night with posters at Atrios’ blog and I wasn’t in the least impressed with their arguments as to why Stein is no good. I fear that Hillary is spending money counterproductively, as the most dogged commenters seem to be close to her campaign and have idiotic talking points. They certainly pushed me closer to Stein.

        1. cwaltz

          Meh, I like Atrios but I think many of his posters are quite happy being penned in the Democratic veal pen, getting hippie punched and wringing their hands to the point of getting arthritis on issues like Social Security expansion.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Atrios was my blogfather, so I have a soft spot for him. (And he has a genius for concision.)

          But if a talking point is bad, it’s bad! If it isn’t too much trouble, and you’ve got a waldo to handle the material, could you summarize the talking points?

          1. Detroit Dan

            The main talking with regard to Jill Stein is that she is anti-vaccine (“anti-vaxx”) and, by implication, anti-science and potentially harmful to public health.

            With regard to Hillary, the claim is that Trump can’t possibly win, based upon a state-by-state analysis, demographics, etc. I’m not sure what the point of making that claim is, as it will just encourage apathy or protest votes (e.g. me voting for Stein).

            Any discussion of Hillary’s record was ignored.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Break their rice bowls.

        But keep their silver chopsticks.

        Gold and sliver looking to go up.

  19. edmondo

    why on earth would the party that impeached Bill Clinton over a **** *** go all soupy and bipartisan,

    And all along I thought Bill was impeached over changes of perjury and obstruction of justice. You know, the kind of things that Nixon had the good sense to resign over before he was impeached. I wonder why the Big Dog lost his law license in 2001? Are we saying that lawyers can’t get hummers AND practice law? That should send law school enrollments to new lows.

    1. Pat

      Possibly the greatest PR/spin of the Democratic Party and one of the great media fails (intentional or otherwise). For a large percentage of the American public it was about a **** ***. But then a large portion of the public really does not get that what Hillary Clinton did has gotten people of lesser notoriety with fewer powerful friends charged with crimes that have cost them dearly, and that the emails were not a ‘nothing burger’.

      Even if a large portion of the public DOES understand that expensive speaking fees, six and seven figure charitable donations and millions in campaign donations to a supposedly non-connected SuperPac are bribes no matter what so many of our elite politicians try to say…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      And acquitted, one might add. Also, lying isn’t perjury, since perjury has to be material.

      Did you live through that time? Read the coverage? Read and part of the amazingly salacious Starr Report? Of course the **** *** drove it all. In those days, the Republicans could construct a coherent narrative….

      1. cwaltz

        His relationships while in office were considered material though.

        As a result of the Supreme Court’s action, Judge Susan Weber Wright allowed discovery to proceed in the Paula Jones lawsuit. Judge Wright ruled that lawyers for Jones, in order to help prove her sexual harassment claim, could inquire into any sexual relationships that Clinton might have with subordinates either as Governor of Arkansas or as President of the United States. A critical moment in the cascade of events that would eventually lead to impeachment came on December 5, 1997 when Jones’s lawyers submitted a list of women that they would like to depose. Included on the list the name of Monica Lewinsky.


        Additionally, his “misleading” testimony led to his disbarment and fines.(Word parsing for the rich and connected yet again- misleading-does not equal willfully being untruthful just like extremely careless does not equal grossly negligent.)

        In April 1999, Judge Wright found Clinton in civil contempt of court for misleading testimony in the Jones case. She ordered Clinton to pay $1,202 to the court and an additional $90,000 to Jones’s lawyers for expenses incurred,[16][17][18] far less than the $496,000 that the lawyers originally requested.[18]


        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Suppose I grant all this, which I don’t. Would it make Obama’s strategy of bipartisanship any more sound?

          Adding that hilariously, the Paula Jones case was originally “broken” by David Brock, then of the American Spectator, now of the Clinton campaign. It was then kept alive my other movement players, like the Rutherford Institute. Salacious from beginning to end.

          1. cwaltz

            Absolutely not.

            Obama got punked, not only by the GOP but by the health insurance companies he brokered with(who couldn’t wait to make him eat the words “if you like your health plans you can keep em’.)

            My personal feelings on the impeachment was Clinton was an asshole for cheating but what I really resented as a taxpayer was paying for all the investigating into where he placed his *ick and it all could have been avoided had Bill Clinton not had a pathological need to lie about the fact that he’s a philandering putz.

            He ended up paying Paula Jones exactly what her settlement amount was too(after shafting the taxpayers with all the costs of the investigation and impeachment.)

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Only years later did I realize that the real issue (at least the issue important to me) is that it wasn’t the Paula Jones case that was the workplace issue; it was Monica Lewinsky! President and intern? Are you kidding? Classic power imbalance! (This could be a story that’s too good to be true, but I seem to remember they met when she, as a White House intern, delivered a pizza to the Oval Office, where everybody was working late because it was the night Newt Gingrich shut down the government.) So, that was the issue, and the Republicans had to go all salacious, and make it all about the sanctity of marriage, while all the while Newtie was committing adultery, so was Livingstone, and Hastert later turned out to have molested young men on his high school wrestling team. So I can see why Clinton defenders would feel that every attack on the Clintons was ginned up by evil clowns. And some were and are. But not all. Not all. And some of the not-ginned-up, legit attacks are quite serious: Privatizing her the email server on which she conducted her public affairs being one.

              1. dots

                On Monica Lewinsky, I stumbled across this interesting link (in her Wikipedia page) that reminded me of Hillary’s response about why she took so much money for her Wall Street speeches. “Because they offered…”

                In the Lewinsky context, if it’s not a mutual affair, then how does it differ from blaming the victim (in an imbalance of power)?

                From 2004 tabloid:

                “I really didn’t expect him to go into detail about our relationship” in the memoir, she said. “But if he had and he’d done it honestly, I wouldn’t have minded. … I did though at least expect him to correct the false statements he made when he was trying to protect the presidency.

                “Instead, he talked about it as though I had laid it all out there for the taking. I was the buffet and he just couldn’t resist the dessert,” she was quoted as saying.

                “That’s not how it was. This was a mutual relationship, mutual on all levels, right from the way it started and all the way through. … I don’t accept that he had to completely desecrate my character.”


                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Well, Clinton and Gingrich had actually cut a deal to gut Social Security, except that blew up after the Lewinsky Matter got started. So in fact, the nation owes her a debt of gratitude.

                  I don’t think the power imbalance goes away, no matter what Lewinsky might feel. It was Clinton’s responsibility not to enter into the relationship and he failed. Nothing to do with all the morality stuff the Pharisees in the Republican Party were pushing. In a way, the whole thing presages Hillary Clinton’s corruption: Complete lack of boundaries between public and private; violations everywhere combined with a sense of impunity, even hubris.

  20. Propertius

    Strangely enough, 60 years of nail-biting has not prevented me from being allergic to nearly everything.

  21. Savonarola

    Actually, I’m pretty sure that is a prickly pear. I’ve never seen a Joshua tree that small. . . I could be wrong. But that sure looks like a prickly pear. We eat them where I come from.

  22. Oregoncharles

    ” Economist: “But H1B visas are an efficieny gain for the whole world, so suck it up.”
    I hear India’s been training some really hot-shot economists.

    1. Vatch

      There’s a lot of blacked out text in the supposedly “released” document. Page 440 is a prime example, but it’s not the only one.

      1. Christopher Fay

        And the information that is seen in the 28 pages is part of what we are allowed to see but the government had second thoughts upon reflection. There is a whole nuther set of information that we are not allowed to see.

  23. Wade Riddick

    Cuteness is irrevocably tied to infancy. Infants burble up on themselves and grin (“Oh, that’s so cute! Phew! What’s that odor?”). They have big heads that bobble around on their tiny necks like, well, cute bobbleheads. Fawns and babies wobble around cutely when they try to walk. Mammals are programmed to like cute things so we’ll take care of our offspring.

    And young women are also cute, with higher voices closer to the register of children and that same soft skin (as long as they’re fertile), because cavemen are supposed to protect them too when the saber tooth tigers show up at the family dinner. Women and children first – cause they’re so cute. (The rest of us, not so much. No, I’m not cute at all. This whole analysis is not cute. Unless you’re into snark.)

    That stripper with the Hello, Kitty tattoo you met – God, help you. That’s too cute by far.

    It’s evolution pulling on your heartstrings. Or Hello, Kitty. Or the stripper. One of those, I’m sure…

  24. Bubba_Gump

    Re Podesta party — that would be “formerly of the Podesta Family.” Of course Heather’s still in the mix, despite the fact that she and Tony can’t stand each other… Power and money bind greedy bedfellows.

  25. August West

    “Scientists from Stanford looked into deep underground aquifers—which are permeable, water-bearing rocks— and found that there was three times more water than previously expected, reports Capital Public Radio. And if saline water was included, there would be four times more water than estimated. Their research… focused on the Central Valley” [LAist]

    Yeah, but in case this bit of information makes you feel optimistic(God forbid)………..


  26. ChiGal

    Amazon drones

    We don’t need your stinkin wifi: we’re charging market rate for that real estate, due on the 1st of the month

  27. allan

    Cleveland police department blames the press for their crackdown on protesters:

    Massive media presence is making it difficult for law enforcement officers to police demonstrations.

  28. optimader

    A sincere question, what is Brad DeLong’s competence?
    I made a disciplined effort to read his blog regularly (a couple years ago, for probably a solid year., coarsely up to the format change, which would date me).

    It eludes me. So, ok he is a prof of econ, but that ultimately plays out as thin gruel with no contributions to the discipline.
    Success as an acolyte of Larry Summers?? Has he accomplished anything beyond just a bureaucrat employment cum dropping anchor at Berkley ?? Accepted economic theories or private sector demonstrations of his economic concepts??

      1. optimader

        I’ll have to take a closer look at that. So what in nature or economics actually achieves a zero bound limit?

  29. fresno dan


    When a 23-year-old autistic man carrying a toy truck wandered from a mental health center out into the street Monday, a worker there named Charles Kinsey went to retrieve him.

    A few minutes later the autistic man was still sitting cross-legged blocking the roadway while playing with the small, rectangular white toy. And Kinsey was prone on the ground next to him — a bullet from an assault rifle fired by a police officer having struck his leg.

    “He throws his hands up in the air and says, ‘Don’t shoot me.’ They say lie on the ground, so he does,” Kinsey’s attorney Hilton Napoleon said Wednesday. “He’s on his back with his hands in the air trying to convince the other guy to lie down. It doesn’t make any sense.”

    Cellphone video footage obtained by Napoleon clearly shows the heavy-set autistic man sitting and playing with his toy while Kinsey, dressed in a yellow shirt and shorts, obeys police orders to lie down on his back.

    The video, taken before the officer fired his weapon, shows Kinsey on his back with his hands in the air telling police he didn’t have a weapon and asking them not to fire. At one point the autistic man appears to yell at Kinsey to shut up. A second brief video shows officers who are carrying rifles physically patting down Kinsey and the autistic man while they are lying on the ground.

    In an interview with WSVN-Channel 7, Kinsey said that after he was shot, officers approached and flipped him over and handcuffed him.

    “Sir, there’s no need for firearms,” Kinsey told the news station he said to police before he was shot. “It was so surprising. It was like a mosquito bite.”

    Kinsey said when he asked the officer why he fired his weapon, the cop responded, “I don’t know.”

    Really, the only question is: How often has this happened before, and before there were videos, how often were the excuses accepted….99.99999% ???

    Ask yourself this: if there wasn’t a video, what would the story have been???

    we won’t be herded into the ovens – we will run of our own volition into them….

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “I don’t know.”

      Wowsers. Take away their guns, take away their cars, take away their Pentagon toys, and make them walk the beat. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t be policing. This is all starting to be too much.

      1. aab

        I didn’t watch that ABC Special, but apparently both Obama and Clinton have been lecturing people, particularly black people, to do a better job of obeying the police.

        Okay, then.

        And the official messaging from the “Democratic” Party is apparently that there’s just nothing to be done about police murders, just like there’s nothing to be done about globalization. Zeus, Mars — they’re gods; what can you do?

        Yet I’m pretty sure they could immediately cut off all the Pentagon toys. I’m sure every state gets some kind of federal funds that could be made contingent on a package of policing reforms that would get at a lot of this. If, you know, elected officials had even the slightest interest in protecting actual citizens.

      2. ambrit

        This bunch of Goons, and not the Spike Milligan variety either, remind me of the saying; “Too much is never enough.”
        I’m now convinced that 9/11 was Americas’ ‘Reichstag Fire.’

  30. ian

    “First, Obama (assuming good faith) is correct that he sought bipartisanship;”

    I don’t agree. What he did was give his opponents a chance to agree with him. Modifying the platform? Who cares? Everyone knows it is non-binding.

    Someone who is truly bi-partisan goes to the other side and asks “what do you want?” and is willing to give up something that will piss off his/her base. I can’t remember ever seeing this from Obama.

    Suppose, for example that real tort reform had been offered in exchange for support for the ACA.

    He did a good job of pretending to be bi-partisan, without ever actually being bi-partisan.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On the platform: Changing the platform sends a signal. Whether it’s binding or not is irrelevant. And what, in politics, is “binding”? Let’s not be mechanistic.

      On bipartisanship: You don’t think adopting RomneyCare as a Democrat health care plan is bipartisan? Oh, OK.

    2. Steve C

      Tort reform, paraphrasing Ralph Nader, is a corporate get out of jail free card. I’m sure Obama would have loved to give it to the Republicans if he thought he could get away with it. Why not? Pleases Wsll Street. Satisfies his impossible dream of getting Republicans to love him. Democratic opposition, in part due to the trial lawyers, was, fortunately, too strong.

    3. aab

      You’re kidding, right? Were you in Antarctica during his first term? Not only was the ACTUAL ACA an explicit act of “bipartisanship,’ as per Lambert, but he did a ton of other things. He had Republicans in his cabinet. He empowered Republicans right and left. The mere act of not getting rid of the filibuster was a gift to Republicans. Protecting the bankers. Offering to cut Social Security. And on and on.

      What he never actually did was act like a Democrat. The missing bipartisanship was reaching out to his own base, like the lower income blacks who suffered the most from every single aspect of the way he directed the “recovery.” He offered the Republicans plenty. Actual Democrats, not so much.

    4. pretzelattack

      obama was the 11 dimensional chess master of giving up things that pissed off his base.

      1. ambrit

        I’m fairly confident that the regulars here will agree that Obamas’ ‘base’ is, was and ever will be Wall Street.

      2. aab

        As per ambrit, 11th dimensional chess was the complex cognitive dissonance people created to rationalize their betrayal. They really worked at it. If you can see Obama as the dishonest, FIRE-owned Trojan horse that he was, his moves barely look like checkers.

        1. ambrit

          Continuing the checkers analogy; when Obamas’ up at the podium when his ‘Presidential Library’ is dedicated, I’d not be surprised to hear him say: “OK now. King me!”

    5. Steve C

      He put healthcare in the tender hands of Max Baucus, ostensibly to get a bipartisan agreement. That’s why it took a year and became politically toxic as it dragged on. Obama fetishized bipartisanshop, which the Republicans got immediately and used to maximum effect. To them, bipartisan meant they were in the driver’s seat. Curiously or not, the media adopted the same standard.

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