2:00PM Water Cooler 8/22/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Obama is readying one final push for approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership… And though the odds may be long, a presidency defined by partisan stalemate may yet secure one last legacy — only because of Mr. Obama’s delicate alliance with the Republicans who control Congress” [New York Times]. “Delicate” is another one of those bullshit tells. For the operational definition of “delicate,” see the next link.

“[L]et’s look at one special group of Representatives who can swing this vote: the actual lame-ducks, i.e., those who will be in office only until Jan. 3. It depends partly on how many lose their election on Nov. 8, but the average number of representatives who left after the last three elections was about 80. Most of these people will be looking for a job, preferably one that can pay them more than $1 million a year. From the data provided by OpenSecrets.org, we can estimate that about a quarter of these people will become lobbyists. (An additional number will work for firms that are clients of lobbyists)” [Mark Weisbrot, The Hill]. “So there you have it: It is all about corruption, and this is about as unadulterated as corruption gets in our hallowed democracy, other than literal cash under a literal table. These are the people whom Obama needs to pass this agreement, and the window between Nov. 9 and Jan. 3 is the only time that they are available to sell their votes to future employers without any personal political consequences whatsoever.”

“[A]s a result of the campaign-influenced climate in Congress, “I don’t hold out a lot of hope that we can get TPP done — but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be wrong,” Heitkamp said. While President Barack Obama is driving for a vote, “I think it’s going to be a challenge'” [Politico]. Pesky voters! (This post says the same thing as the above two, in different words. It’s an invitation to horsetrading, pure and simple. Come on down!

“‘For the simple reason that the U.S. invested so much in it, the deal acquired a kind of totalistic value that goes way beyond its economic merits,’ said Euan Graham, a former U.K. foreign officer who studies regional security at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney. ‘To leave Asian partners hanging now would be disastrous for U.S. leadership in the region'” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Faces Setback in Asia if TPP Trade Deal Doesn’t Pass”]. Shorter: Take one for the team, little people! Oh, and I really like “totalistic value.”

“The celebrity- and musician-laden ‘Rock Against the TPP’ tour swung through Portland and Seattle this weekend — but not everyone was pleased to see the likes of actress Evangeline Lilly and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello take the stage against the trade deal. The Seattle-based Washington Council on International Trade said it was ‘disappointed’ by the effort to block the TPP and called the event ‘a blow to Washington jobs and businesses’ [Politico]. Harrumph.

“Key ingredients of opposition to free trade? Prejudice and nationalism” [WaPo]. “But social science reveals that rational economic calculus has some competitors in shaping citizens’ opinions on globalization.” Shorter: It’s OK for the 10% to screw working people because all working people are — let’s just cut the blather, shall we? — racist. Expect this study to be pushed heavily, and note the straw man of “rational economic actor.” Because if you’re an Acela rider and you like your latté made with Fair Trade coffee beans along with your artisanal chocolate, that makes you a virtuous cosmopolitian, but if you build air conditioners and don’t want to see your job shipped to the global South, you should throw Momma in a home, move to the big city, and become a symbol manipulator. “Rational economic calculus,” my Sweet Aunt Fanny.



“New Abedin Emails Reveal Hillary Clinton State Department Gave Special Access to Top Clinton Foundation Donors” [Judicial Watch]. This is not 14,900 “emails and documents” linked to under “Hairball”; that’s a different storyline altogether. I hate to quote a press release, but so far as I know, Judicial Watch doesn’t make stuff up, and our famously free press is totally in the tank. So herewith:

Judicial Watch today released 725 pages of new State Department documents, including previously unreleased email exchanges in which former Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin provided influential Clinton Foundation donors special, expedited access to the secretary of state. In many instances, the preferential treatment provided to donors was at the specific request of Clinton Foundation executive Douglas Band.

The Abedin emails reveal that the longtime Clinton aide apparently served as a conduit between Clinton Foundation donors and Hillary Clinton while Clinton served as secretary of state. In more than a dozen email exchanges, Abedin provided expedited, direct access to Clinton for donors who had contributed from $25,000 to $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. In many instances, Clinton Foundation top executive Doug Band, who worked with the Foundation throughout Hillary Clinton’s tenure at State, coordinated closely with Abedin. In Abedin’s June deposition to Judicial Watch, she conceded that part of her job at the State Department was taking care of “Clinton family matters.”

Included among the Abedin-Band emails is an exchange revealing that when Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain requested a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, he was forced to go through the Clinton Foundation for an appointment. Abedin advised Band that when she went through ‘normal channels’ at State, Clinton declined to meet. After Band intervened, however, the meeting was set up within forty-eight hours.

Hoo boy. Hopefully Trump’s campaign team can stick a sock his mouth so this can dominate a news cycle?


“While Clinton is expected to make only two public appearances before the end of August, she and her top backers will mingle with donors at no fewer than 54 events according to a fundraising schedule obtained by The Associated Press” [AP]. Strange body language for a candidate who’s already won.

The Voters

“Republicans have continued gaining ground in recent months in voter registration in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Iowa, while the late surge in Democratic registrations relative to Republican registrations that occurred in battleground states during the final months of the 2012 election had not been replicated in numbers released in early August” [Politico].


“The Senate is up for grabs again in November, just two years after Republicans took control of the chamber for the first time since 2007. Making the task tougher for the GOP: Republicans are defending 24 seats, compared with 10 for the Democrats. And most of the roughly dozen Senate seats considered the most competitive are currently held by Republicans—many in states won by President Barack Obama” [Wall Street Journal, “Senate Races to Watch in the 2016 Election”]. “If Democrats keep the White House, they only need to pick up four seats, since the vice president can break a 50-50 tie in the Senate. Here are 12 races to watch and the current outlook for each, based on merged ratings from four major election handicappers.”


UPDATE “‘If he loses, [he’ll say] ‘It’s a rigged election.’ If he wins, he’ll say it was rigged and he beat it. And that’s where this is headed no matter what the outcome is,” said one Trump ally. ‘If Donald Trump loses, he is going to point the finger at the media and the GOP establishment. I can’t really picture him giving a concession speech, whatever the final margin'” [Politico]. Given that the GOP establishment — modulo, apparently, the RNC, at least so far — is trying to McGovern him, and what the media gaveth, the media tooketh away, it’s hard to see how Trump’s all that wrong. Ditto, given that the DNC rigged the primaries in favor of his opponent, and the press to the left of Brietbart (not that difficult) is in the tank for her, along with the great bulk of the political class. And that’s before we get to election fraud and voter suppression, where both parties have demonstrated organizational capability. The subtext here seems to me something like: If it weren’t for that crazy Trump dude, we could proceed with a clean election, as usual.” That’s very not true.

UPDATE “Clinton aides said their playbook called for a careful balancing act: ignoring or dismissing Mr. Trump’s most outlandish attacks, while also encouraging independent fact-checkers at mainstream news outlets to debunk any that threaten to gain traction.” [New York Times]. “[I]ndependent fact-checkers.” That’s really good. David Brock, cast in the article as “an ardent defender of Mrs. Clinton,” is simultaneously running Media Matters, a putatively independent counter-oppo organization branded as respectable, and Clinton’s million dollar troll operation. Sort of a “one hand launders the other,” Zen-type thing, I guess.

“What Happened Outside the Hall in Philadelphia” [LA Progressive]. Another trip report, with a focus on the demonstrations, not the delegate experience.

“Hal Boyd: Gary Johnson says Mitt Romney would be ‘guaranteed’ a spot in his administration” [Deseret News].

Clinton Email Hairball

“The FBI’s year-long investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server uncovered 14,900 emails and documents from her time as secretary of state that had not been disclosed by her attorneys, and a federal judge Monday pressed the State Department to begin releasing emails sooner than it planned in mid-October” [WaPo]. I’m filing this under “Hairball” because these are work-related “emails and documents,” as opposed to (putatively) private emails and documents that Clinton’s lawyers (thought they) destroyed. You know, the ones about yoga lessons and Chelsea’s wedding. This story seems oddly timed, almost as if it was designed bury the Huma Abedin story, filed under “Corruption.”

“At a heated hearing Monday, a federal judge pressed the State Department on when it would release the 15,000 documents uncovered by the FBI during its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server” [CBS]. “Initially, the State Department attorney would not answer Judge James Boasberg’s repeated questions about the number of emails recovered by the FBI. The judge urged the State Department to expedite its review of what is called ‘Disc 1,’ which is one of two discs handed over from FBI to the State Department in late July. The soonest these emails will be released to the public is early October.”

Stats Watch

Light stats today.

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, July 2016: ” Last week’s big jump in industrial production together with July’s strong employment report lifted the national activity index to plus 0.27 from June’s revised plus 0.05. The 3-month average is improving but remains negative, at minus 0.10 vs minus 0.12 in June” [Econoday]. “The small dip for the personal consumption & housing component is no surprise given the month’s weakness in retail sales. But even without strength in consumer spending, July proved to be a strong month for the economy.” And: “The economy’s growth improved based on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3 month moving (3MA) average – but remains below the historical trend rate of growth (but well above levels associated with recessions)” [Econintersect]. “This index IS NOT accurate in real time – and it did miss the start of the 2007 recession.” But: “Econintersect considers the CFNAI one of the best single metrics to gauge the real economic activity for the U.S. – and puts the entire month’s economic releases into their proper perspective, although it is almost a month after the fact. It correlates well and historically has lead GDP.”

Industrial Production: “The Federal Reserve Industrial Production & Capacity Utilization report shows industrial production had a 0.7% blowout for July. This is the largest increase since November 2014. Manufacturing production by itself increased 0.5% and was the biggest advance since July 2015. Even mining increased 0.7% for the month. Utilities’ 2.1% increase was due to the very warm weather” [Economic Populist]. “Total industrial production is still below -0.5% from what it was a year ago. July industrial production was 4.9 percentage points above the 2012 average. Industrial production is still way below the very long term 1972-2015 average by -4.1 percentage points.”

Honey for the Bears: “The truth is the economy is most likely already in a recession and there never was a viable economic recovery” [CNBC]. “A closer look at tax receipts over the past few years reveals that the growing number of employed has not had the effect on cash flows to the Treasury that you would expect.” And:

If the employment condition is booming why are payroll taxes falling?

There are a couple of answers to that question and neither is favorable. The BLS numbers are either wrong or the quality of new jobs created must be very poor. The latter response seems the most credible; a combination of an increase in the proportion of part-time workers and full-time jobs that provide lower compensation.

The true employment condition, as well as the quality of those jobs, can be found in the tax receipt story, which is more comprehensive than the BLS’s estimate. But it’s not just payroll taxes that have declined; corporate tax receipts have fallen 12.8 percent year-to-date, while individual taxes are down 0.4 percent.

Again, the only consistent outlier amongst all of the weak data is the monthly Non-Farm Payroll Report. But if the quality of those net new jobs created is extremely poor, then the headline BLS number can be easily reconciled with the economic data points that point towards recession.

The bottom line is that our standard of living cannot be improving when productivity has been negative for three quarters in a row. The economy isn’t getting better while earnings on S&P 500 companies have been negative five quarters in a row, and are projected to come in negative for the 6th time. There can be no real growth when tax policy remains unchanged and receipts are falling.

Grrr! Mosler: “Someone agrees with me!”

Honey for the Bears: “[R]estaurants have been one of the bright spots of the broader retail industry for years now, but recent data suggests business is getting gloomier. NPD Group, a market research firm, found that visits to fast-casual eateries fell in the most recent quarter for the first time since it began tracking them in 2004. Trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News found that sales at publicly-traded restaurants saw a median decline of 1.7 percent in the second quarter” [WaPo]. Article then goes on to cite other series in mitigation. And: “Even though there are plenty of restaurant companies that are still growing, nearly half of them have become less profitable. Analyst sentiment is tepid, considering how positive sell-side analysts tend to be. If analysts are correct in their predictions of continued increases in labor costs, we may well be in for a few years of pullbacks for the sector” [MarketWatch].

Honey for the Bears: “Yield Whores Sell Their Souls” [Across the Curve]. An unusually vivid headline fo AtC! “The WSJ has posted about the desperate measures pension funds will take to garner some returns. In this one the article tells the tale of pension funds who are writing puts on equities to generate income. That strategy works quite well until one day you wake up and it is no longer worker. There will be an inevitable deep decline in equities and the attendant rise in vol will cost these folks dearly.”

Housing: “The housing recovery has really been an odd one. It has been driven by low inventory, anxious builders, and an army of investors. In the end what has occurred is that the homeownership rate is near a generational low, we have 10 million new renter households over the last decade, and home prices are up on relatively low sales volume” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “How can there be big sales volume when inventory is so constrained? It is a good question to ask. In any market you will have periods of capitulation, where people simply give in. You see it happening in this market where people purchase crap shacks as if taking their medicine when they were a child. The place physically sucks and is overpriced but hey, you need to do it because mommy told you it was the right thing to do. We’ve been in a holding pattern for a couple of years yet last month, sales did take a rather big drop. It was the biggest drop since April 2011. Is this simply an anomaly or are people priced out?… Things can change very quickly. We’ll have to see if this is simply an odd ball month or something bigger.”

Travel: “Compared with July 2015, the U.S. hotel industry’s occupancy decreased 1.0% to 74.4%. However, average daily rate for the month was up 3.6% to US$128.77, and revenue per available room grew 2.5% to US$95.81” [Hotel News]. “This month’s occupancy decline is the sharpest this year, but the ADR growth is the highest (tied with February and June).”

Shipping: “A weak freight environment continues to weigh with some thinking that 2017 may not provide a resurgence of growth” [James Sands, Seeking Alpha]. “Indicators continue to display overcapacity and weak pricing across transports.”

Shipping: “Any hopes that the peak season may simply be running a little late this year appear to be dashed by the continuing slide in freight rates, as evidenced by the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index.The Shanghai Shipping Exchange comprehensive index across all trade lanes fell another 5.8%” [Lloyd’s List].

Supply Chain: “Nike Inc. is taking an unusual path to more completely overhaul its supply chain. The apparel giant is looking past basic vendor-supplier agreements by striking a deal with private-equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC to set up a fully controlled and contained manufacturing and distribution operation. Under the plan, a new apparel supply chain company is purchasing existing Nike apparel suppliers with an eye on creating ‘a more vertically-integrated apparel ecosystem.’ The venture marks a deep dive into the supply-chain business by Apollo, which aims to pull together a global outsourced manufacturing operation under one financial ownership umbrella” [Wall Street Journal].

ETFs: “[W]e’ll review the academic literature on the subject of luck versus skill in mutual fund performance” [John Swedroe, ETFs.com]. “O]nly about 2% of actively managed mutual funds are generating statistically significant alpha. And that’s even before the impact of taxes on taxable investors.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 76, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 80 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 22 at 11:58am. Back to mere greed. Confidence fairy on a diet?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“For leftists to assume, based on BLM’s critiques of Sanders, that the movement is a phenomenon apart from the Left, without a class lens and with nothing to teach it, would be a grave mistake. The movement has exposed, for example, how the neoliberal order uses policing to shift the burden of taxation from those with the most to those with the least. Police nationwide ticket the poor to bring in revenue in low-tax jurisdictions. Officer Darren Wilson’s killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and the resulting outpouring of protest led to the exposure of the financial entrapment of poor Black drivers and pedestrians. The Department of Justice concluded that every branch of government in Ferguson was guilty of racial discrimination for targeting African Americans with fines and fees” [In These Times].


UPDATE “The debate will heat up as more and more black parents in places like Philadelphia, Detroit, Newark, Camden, St. Louis, and Baltimore see their public schools underfunded, understaffed, and losing resources to charters” [Diane Ravitch]. Indeed. It’s also unfortunate that many of the best-known Black Lives Matter activists — the ones who go to the White House — are pro-charter in their employment choices.

UPDATE “In separate conventions over the past month, the N.A.A.C.P. and the Movement for Black Lives, a group of 50 organizations assembled by Black Lives Matter, passed resolutions declaring that charter schools have exacerbated segregation, especially in the way they select and discipline students.” [New York Times]. “They portray charters as the pet project of foundations financed by white billionaires, and argue that the closing of traditional schools as students migrate to charters has disproportionately disrupted black communities.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

“[O]btaining [the Shadow Brokers] documents through hacking into highly secured NSA servers seems less likely than the chance that someone from inside the agency took them. If that person was Edward Snowden, then probably someone with access to his documents could have started his own crusade against NSA. If that person wasn’t Snowden, then it’s either another NSA employee who was disgruntled and frustrated, or a mole for a hostile foreign intelligence agency. For an individual without the protection of the public opinion like Snowden, it must be much harder and riskier to conduct these leaks than for a foreign state actor” [Electrospaces].


“Global Warming Has Now Made the Northwest Passage a Thing” [Slate]. Maybe I should have filed this under shipping.

Class Warfare

“The War on Cash” [The Long and Short]. “‘Cashless society’ is a euphemism for the “ask-your-banks-for-permission-to-pay society”. Rather than an exchange occurring directly between the hotel and me, it takes the form of a “have your people talk to my people” affair. Various intermediaries message one another to arrange an exchange between our respective banks. That may be a convenient option, but in a cashless society it would no longer be an option at all. You’d have no choice but to conform to the intermediaries’ automated bureaucracy, giving them a lot of power, and a lot of data about the microtexture of your economic life.”

“Access to Electronic Payments Systems by Unbanked Consumers” [Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City]. “In 2013, nearly 8 percent of U.S. households, or about 17 million U.S. adults, did not have a checking or savings account (Burhouse and others). Many of these consumers—who are considered “unbanked”—rely heavily on cash to meet their transaction needs. Increasing unbanked consumers’ access to and use of electronic payment products are high priorities among policymakers around the world.”

“Our suburbs fall apart quickly when they are not maintained. The miles of asphalt and concrete roadway, the vast expanse of front and back yards, the facades of fake rock and supposedly maintenance-free vinyl… these all take immense time and spare resources to keep them in order. America’s suburbs are not financially viable, even with the affluent living in them. As the poor become more of a presence there, it’s hard to see how these places can keep from unraveling” [Strong Towns]. “And it’s hard to see America not simply blaming the poor in response. When it takes the income of multiple families to maintain one suburban house, we’re going to see multiple families living in one house. This will occur on streets with several other homes that are abandoned and falling apart completely, thus reinforcing every stereotype of poor people and their willingness — some contend desire — to live sub-normal lives. It will be easy to write them off.”

“[T]his politics of female excellence — however broadly relatable and seemingly unobjectionable — exhibits a disquieting comfort with the status quo” [Jacobin]. “It wins arguments about justice by pegging them to deeply embedded assumptions about meritocracy. It demands no fundamental restructuring of the social order, but instead requests the equal application of the order’s logic. It shoots for a society free of artificial ceilings that stunt the smart, the brave, the driven, the powerful. In a politics of female excellence, what matters most is not justice and its fundamental incompatibility with a population living in fear of rape, but the character of the women in question. Policies that support women and address concrete disadvantages are unnecessary: true feminism empowers women to overcome the disadvantages themselves. Indeed, policy change can be detrimental if it prevents women from realizing their strength.”

“Perhaps real women and children don’t fit into Hillary’s conception of “feminism”? Or, better still, perhaps the real question should be: feminism for whom? Clinton’s domestic track record demonstrates that it is affluent white women who truly are the focus of her brand of corporate neoliberal feminism” [Counterpunch].

“Boone County therapist receives letter about opioid epidemic from President Obama” [WCSH] Shorter: “Obama to working class whites: Drop Dead.”

News of the Wired

“Branding without walls” [Mozilla Foundation]. I don’t like any of them!

“The Enterprise Media Distribution Platform At The End Of This Book” [Crummy]. Important! Tech at the New York Public Library shows the difference between the web (open, as designed for the browser) and the web (silo-ed, as corrupted by corporate apps). Reasonaby accessible prose, too.

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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:

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Readers, I know it’s the dead days of August, but if you can, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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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. Timmy

    Restaurant recession….

    The equity research division of a brokerage firm I know recently published a recession call on the restaurant industry and it noted that (paraphrasing)…

    Historically, restaurant industry year over year earnings comparisons declined 2% to 3% between 3 and 9 months before the start of the last two US recessions in 2001 and 2007. Since June of 2015, restaurant comparisons have declined from a bit over 4% to the current 0.5%, a decline greater than that in either of the periods leading up to the two previous recessions since 2000.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I work next door to a restaurant that closed a couple of months ago. Shortly after the closure, I heard that there were 16 businesses interested in the space.

      Well, it’s still empty and there’s a “space available” sign on the front window.

      I can’t help thinking that the rent is too damn high.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That current 0.5% – does it mean in June 2015, (compared to June 2014), its Y over Y was 4% increase, but in June 2016 (compared to June 2015), it’s still positive (at 0.5% more than June 2015)? Is that the decline they are talking about?

      And, a recession warning is when the Y over Y comparison is negative (declining from 12 months ago)? So, the Y over Y (in June 2016) was not negative (i.e a positive 0.5%). But we are close to it (that is, the monthly Y over Y) being negative.

  2. Bob

    “Hoo boy. Hopefully Trump’s campaign team can stick a sock his mouth so this can dominate a news cycle?”

    For this to happen the MSM will have to allow it to become news.

    1. sleepy

      On more than one occasion I have heard newscasters lament the fact that while Clinton has issues that are worth covering, Trump’s utterances/speeches/campaign soak up all the available news cycles.

      So, Trump is setting the agenda for the media which apparently has no agency and operates under the view that investigative journalism during an election doesn’t exist independently of what a campaign chooses to bring up.

      On a somewhat related note, Stiglitz was interviewed the other day on Msnbc. Afterwards, Eugene Robinson expressed amazement when told that the TPP has provisions for extra-national tribunals that could override sovereign legislation and penalize nations financially. I took his surprise as honest. He had no idea. And these are the folks who deride Trump fans as ignorant buffoons.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Since the conventions, relatively speaking, not much substantive has come from either camp

        This is the best time for the press to go to work for their favorite candidate and sure enough, Clinton has widened her lead (except the one LA Times poll mentioned earlier in the Links section).

      2. Teejay

        Sleepy, I’m trying (unsuccessfully) to find the Robinson story you referenced. Do you have any additional info to help me find it?

    2. Anne

      I think the media’s already decided it doesn’t want Trump in the Oval; all this sewage that is trying to spew out of State/Clinton Foundation will have accumulated and ripened and be ready and waiting for the press to splatter all over the place before Clinton has finished uttering the oath of office.

      The media will come under fire for not making this a big deal before the election, but I don’t think they much care.

      They may quite like the idea of President Pence – can they run Trump out of town in time? If that’s not an option, they can just make sure Trump doesn’t win, and then go after Clinton with the hope that maybe we get President Kaine out of it, which won’t hurt their feelings at all.

      1. Ike

        The media collectiveness/black-wash feels to me to be just as great, if also slightly more insidious, than the run up to the Iraq War under Bush II. Only without the patriotism part as that seems to be already implied? I mean, no one is going to hold the media accountable for anything even though it’s power to brainwash the electorate is astounding and is completely controlled by monied individuals.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Divide Hillary’s 14,900 undisclosed emails by the total of 30,000 disclosed plus 14,900 undisclosed, or 44,900. The result, 33.2%, is a sample metric that we can label the Lie Quotient.

    That is, extrapolated to all that Hillary says, 33.2% of it is expected to be untrue.

    No one scores perfectly. But those with reasonable personal sincerity usually can get through life with a single digit score.

    A Lie Quotient over 20% is in the pathological range, calling for prompt custodial intervention. That’s a euphemism for “prison.”

    1. ambrit

      Watch out with that idea Comrade Jim. Since Reagan began shutting down all the psychiatric hospitals, the only places left for the criminally insane to go are, yes, prison, but also, the District of Colombia.

      1. Jim Haygood

        To paraphrase flora @ 3:07 pm below:

        “The road to prison is paved with ‘rational economic calculus.’”

      1. Synoia

        Yes, my estimate approaches 90% and becuse I cannot discern on the remaining 10%, I apply the rule of 100% and wait to be pleasantly surprised.

  4. ambrit

    Re the Mozilla rebranding exercise; I agree with you. None of the templates show any real “vision” or even originality. A good logo must make the mind work on more than just the surface level. The subconscious must become involved.
    The old “sex sells” concept applies here. Triggering the unconscious guarantees that attention will be paid to the logo. Why else the heavy reliance on ‘wardrobe malfunctions,’ the sex lives of “celebrities,’ and body shape displays heavy on secondary sexual characteristics for Yahoo “News?” There are some hard won insights into how to communicate to ‘the masses’ floating around. Mozilla seems to have ignored them all.

  5. hemeantwell

    Re Housing, the wretched New York Times DealBook had a useful article on the rent-to-own scam today. Not really news here, but worth noting.


    But these rent-to-own agreements reside in a gray area of the law. An examination by The New York Times of contracts and court filings, as well as interviews with housing lawyers and more than a dozen of Vision’s customers across the country, found that these deals are risky, lack consumer protections and may not be enforceable in some states.

    Most tenants walk away with nothing, having sunk money for rent and repairs into homes they had once hoped to own. Others faced surprise evictions, having signed a contract that did not disclose what repairs were needed, yet set a deadline for making sure the home was up to local housing code. As different tenants move in and out of the same property over the course of years, many homes fall further into disrepair.

    1. grizziz

      I speculate that rent-to-own came up on about day 3 of Trump University. It is a staple of all the riches from real estate seminars.

  6. Fred

    “Hopefully Trump’s campaign team can stick a sock his mouth so this can dominate a news cycle?”

    No, hopefully the Attorney General of the United States has some integrity and puts “Hillary Clinton’s top aide” Huma Abedin in jail for violations of federal law.

    1. Jim Haygood

      If there has been an attorney general with integrity since Nixon’s AG John Mitchell went to prison, I am unable to recall the name.

    2. nippersmom

      Unless I’ve missed something and Loretta Lynch is no longer the AG, we know the answer to that question. Her lack of integrity has been amply demonstrated.

  7. Don Midwest USA

    Above you link Strong Towns

    On a flight a few years ago I sat next to the originator of that movement, Chuck Marohn. He was on the road consulting with towns and governments at several levels because they are all broke because they bough into the growth Ponzi scheme.

    Money from government was available for development of towns around the automobile, not people, but now there is little money for maintenance.

    I got a copy of his book which is also on line here

    The Growth Ponzi Scheme

    We often forget that the American pattern of suburban development is an experiment, one that has never been tried anywhere before. We assume it is the natural order because it is what we see all around us. But our own history — let alone a tour of other parts of the world — reveals a different reality. Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only in the last two generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.

    How is our experiment working?

    At Strong Towns, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization I cofounded in 2009, we are most interested in understanding the intersection between local finance and land use. How does the design of our places impact their financial success or failure?

    and here is what they have found

    What we have found is that the underlying financing mechanisms of the suburban era — our post-World War II pattern of development — operates like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long-term liabilities.

    1. grizziz

      I found no data sets on the website and the graphs appear to be too smooth to represent a realistic model. I am sympathetic towards his outlook, but taxing districts are like countries. If the amount of economic activity within the district affords a constant budget surplus, the taxing district should be sustainable and not a ponzi.

      1. MartyH

        @grizziz, the lack of data sets to support the pretty graphs is troubling. Your point about “taxing districts” is subject to some discussion. Everything below The Country is NOT The Country. Only The Country has the prerogative of printing its own currency. Everyone else goes into debt and has to find currency to pay off the debts. I have never gone to the meetings of a jurisdiction (local or county) that had a constant budget surplus. In fact, in every case that I personally witnessed, the budgets were either supposedly in balance or in deficit as pensions were not being fully funded. I suspect that the “Ponzi Scheme” designation is widely supported by a serious look at such future obligations and current debt programs.

      1. JustAnObserver

        It reminded me of the aftermath of the great property crash where a small industry arose amongst photojournalists taking pictures of abandoned tract developments 25, 30, 50 miles from the nearest town … or IIRC 100miles for some in the LA area, just dried up scrub & tumbleweed like something from a western.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      There is a house of cards aspect to the health of many towns, which is weakened dramatically by the outright fraud of municipal finance. Look for various municipalities, special use districts and similar debtors to have been sweet-talked by muni bond brokers into rent extraction schemes. Combine that with greater fiscal fragility, meaning shakier tax base, due to various reasons such as offshoring, freight volume collapse, pending TPP penalty for supporting the wrong horse in the race, or what ever, and that spells trouble. Consumers will need to check the credit scores of their towns and such to spot trends, as a means of slight protection. We’re all on credit watch but just don’t realize it yet.

      At some point, town and district bankruptcies may result in roll ups into either neighboring towns or counties, as some public sector type of ward of the state.

    1. Hana M

      I like totalistic. Sort of the totalitarian version of holistic. Organic and GMO free, of course. Even better if fair trade and exclusively available through Whole Foods Markets.

  8. Praedor

    It is not true that the Dems must take just 4 seats in the Senate if Hillary wins the Presidency (because the VP breaks ties). There will be NO ties if the Dems “take” the Senate. The Dems, empirically, must hold 60 seats or the Senate will remain in GOP control. The GOP (faux) filibusters EVERYTHING and the Dems let them. The fix is simple but the Dems never ever take the fix because they WANT the GOP to stop everything. All the Dem “leadership” needs to do is change the rules of the filibuster at the start of the new Congress. THE fix is to require real filibusters like they used to have to do. The GOP wants to filibuster something? OK, then you all WILL be standing on the floor of the Senate and talking and talking and talking for hours and days on end like, you know, REAL filibusters work.

    The Dems will never go for this, however, because they like the faux cocktail filibuster. They LIKE the situation where all the GOP has to do is say, “You need 60 votes to pass your bill. See ya later, I’ve got a dinner party to go to and Joe there is late to a bedding with his mistress”. That’s it. They all get to go home, go to their parties, to their dinners, go golfing, etc. All the weight has been shifted to non-filibustering side whereas in a REAL filibuster, the filibustering side has the rough ride. There is a reason that the filibuster used to be rare: it used to be HARD. It used to really SUCK to do it. Now, it’s so easy, why NOT “filibuster”?

    So no, the only way the Dems could pass anything in the Senate is if they get 60 seats and even then they’d find some way to make sure the GOP still holds the steering wheel.

    1. Anne

      I wanted a Democratic majority when there was a chance Sanders might be the nominee. He’s not, and I have no interest in giving Hillary Clinton a majority in either chamber so she can get “bipartisan” and Grand Bargain and anti-crime and whatever other GOP-style legislation she is hankering for.

      At this point, I’m pulling for gridlock.

      1. grizziz

        If Clinton nominated people to the Supreme Court who passed a litmus test of standing against Citizens United would you be cool with a 54 D and 45 R Senate? (Counting Bernie as an Independent)

        1. nippersmom

          You might as well ask, “If pigs start to fly, would you like to take a ride on one?” Equally likely to happen.

          1. grizziz

            Wow, cynical. How about 50 D to 49 R and Merrick Garland? Just askin’ to find the lower threshold.

            1. aab

              What on earth is your point with this? Who cares about the Supreme Court once TPP is implemented? Even IF Clinton would propose anti-corporate control justices (she wouldn’t) and the Senate approved them (it wouldn’t) , they would be routinely overruled by the TPP’s corporate tribunals.

              The “But SCOTUS” argument for crappy, corporation-owned Democrats dies with the TPP’s passage.

        2. JTMcPhee

          That is one great big straw man “IF” you laid out there, gz. But you know that, of course.

          1. grizziz

            I’m voting for Jill , but anticipating Hil and searching to see what would be the preferred make up of gridlock. HRC at top w/Republican House and Senate or letting liberals audition for the Supremes with a Democratic Senate confirming the HRC choice(s).

        3. Eureka Springs

          We had a bought and bribed government before Cit U. Why would I want to just revoke Cit U alone? And why would you expect the D or R party to promote excellent election law which would put them in jail or at least out of office forever?

          The entire system needs to be redesigned. Starting as much as anything with elimination of the United States Senate.

          1. aab

            Let’s play a fun game. Postulate that the US government collapses enough that we actually DO hold a Constitutional Convention and get a big redo. What would we want — presuming we stick to changes that might possibly get enough right and left support to pass?

            I’ll start:

            – Eliminate the Senate.
            – Eliminate the electoral college.
            – Eliminate corporations completely.
            – Require government funding only of elections.
            – Amendment guaranteeing right to economic dignity, including health care, housing, food (I realize that’s probably a big lift, but I think the data shows that actual citizens who identify as Republican would go for this).
            – Amendment that only one member of any nuclear family can be President.
            – I’d like the ERA passed, but I can imagine that being a step to far, like trying to revise the Second Amendment. And a lot of those problems would go away with less government corruption and more guaranteed economic security for all.

            1. grizziz

              OK, I am happy to go with your changes. My assumption is that if the government would collapse power would devolve to the States. It would then require getting State Governments to put forth these changes.
              Or do you propose that the US Legislature put forth a resolution prior to collapse that would allow a new constitution to be formed and ratified by popular vote.

              1. aab

                Perhaps framing it as “collapse” wasn’t the best choice of words. Under the existing constitution, if 2/3 of the states call for it, we can have a new constitutional convention. It doesn’t happen because the general assumption is that if you opened the door for it, “both sides” would push amendments. So the right doesn’t push too hard, because they don’t want stuff like the ERA or the 2nd Amendment revised. The “left” doesn’t push for it, because they don’t want a balanced budget amendment (or, of course, all the stuff they pretend they want).

                So the existing duopoly would have to break down to get a convention, and in real life, it would be a huge risk. But I feel like it’s time to get aggressive about imagining and pushing for really BIG, positive changes. Worst case scenario, it pushes the Overton window/prism left. Maybe we can get single payer health care out of these monsters if there’s enough of a push to do much, MUCH bigger things.

            2. PhilU

              -Ban on First past the post voting.
              -Have Mandatory Range Voting at every election.
              – Multi Member congressional districts.(weighted with range voting)
              -Multimember State house and state senate districts.
              -Automatic voter registration
              -mandatory paper ballot and auditing process.
              -I’m ok with the senate, but change it so that the number of senators is proportional to population. Allow for states to ‘team up’ to increase their senators if they want.
              -DC statehood
              -puerto rico easy referendum 3 choices: stay the same, become a state, become independant. Congress bound to accept results.
              -a way for states to lawfully succeed (Hard but possible)
              -amendment that every new piece of legislation needs to be analysed for its effect on families and small business, and then posted on the internet..
              -Ban on horse race polls
              -Ban for profit news, have guaranteed untouchable federal funding.
              -Federal funding as the only revenue source for public schools and banning of private schools..
              -Fixed minimum tax rate of 70% on income over $5 Million (inflation adjusted)

              I could probably go on.

            3. hunkerdown

              Binding plebiscites. This democracy of the managers is a miserable failure and the better and more often we get to show them at whose pleasure they’re drawing air the better off we’ll be.

        4. Anne

          I’m not even sure I’d trust her SC nominations – and yes, i know the GOP’s would be worse.

          I also really question her commitment to overturning Citizens United – for people like the Clintons, it’s a little like offering to cut off an arm; money is just so much about who they are, I don’t see her doing anything that would close off a financial avenue she could benefit from.

          I’m pretty sure she’ll weasel-word her way to conditionally approving TPP. I can see her finding “common ground” on fracking. I know there is more war in the future with Clinton in charge. I also think it would be just a matter of time before a Simpson/Bowles-style commission or plan would be coming out to play.

          So, I’m not interested in bargaining, really – I just feel like with the choices we will have, we are better off in a 4-year stalemate than giving either party the power it needs to “get things done.”

          1. grizziz

            Liberals should push HRC on it even if they believe it to be an empty promise.
            From HRC’s website As president, Hillary will:

            Overturn Citizens United—the Supreme Court case that unleashed hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate and special-interest money into U.S. elections. Hillary will appoint Supreme Court justices who will protect Americans’ right to vote over the right of billionaires to buy elections. She will also propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United within her first 30 days in office.
            End secret, unaccountable money in politics. We need federal legislation to require outside groups to publicly disclose significant political spending. And until Congress acts, Hillary will sign an executive order requiring federal government contractors to do the same. She’ll also push for an SEC rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose political spending to shareholders.
            Amplify the voices of everyday Americans. Hillary will establish a small-donor matching system for presidential and congressional elections to give small donors greater influence.

      2. Tom_Doak

        But how do you define gridlock, when Hillary is with the Republicans on many issues? She’s going to give them a Grand Bargain, and they’re going to vote with her on defense spending and war authorization. If the two parties are just two sides of the same coin, then there is no such thing as real gridlock — gridlock is only an excuse for inaction on the important things.

  9. Jim Haygood

    ‘Suburbs fall apart quickly when they are not maintained.’

    On most of the planet, owing to deforestation, concrete housing is standard. Properly built, it can last a century, even if poorly maintained or not at all. A leak in the roof won’t rot the structure, nor will termites invade.

    North American lumber-framed houses can last a century or two, if protected from the elements. But slap a 20-year asphalt shingle roof and cheap siding on it, and lack of maintenance soon will prove fatal.

    Thomas Edison had a brilliant idea: the single-pour concrete house. Everything from shingles to kitchen counters to bathtubs to picture frames would be cast as a single monolith of concrete, in a process that took just a few hours.


    Unfortunately, a few technical issues remain to be solved. :-(

    1. Tom_Doak

      Have you ever been to Eastern Europe? The Soviets built most of their government buildings out of concrete, but with poor quality control for the materials. They’ve pretty much all fallen apart by now.

  10. MikeW_CA

    “Key ingredients of opposition to free trade? Prejudice and nationalism”.
    Perhaps. But TPP has next to nothing to do with “free trade”, and everything
    to do with Crony Capitalists using government power to secure rent-seeking
    advantages an actual free market would never allow them.
    So measuring and analyzing “opposition to free trade” adds no value.

  11. DJG

    The forgotten war. The September issue of Harper’s Magazine has a more detailed article by Andrew Cockburn about how the U S of A sold the planes and bombs to the Saudis and contracts to maintain the aircraft, because the Saudis are not able / can’t be bothered, what with servants are available. It is a win-win-win situation. Bombs, profiteering, slaughter.

    An e-article:


  12. Jim Haygood

    Severe justice for another financial exec:

    In one of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s biggest cases tied to the 2008 financial crisis, former Fannie Mae chief executive Daniel Mudd has reached a settlement for $100,000, according to court papers filed on Monday.

    In September 2015, Fannie Mae’s former chief risk officer, Enrico Dallavecchia, and former Executive Vice President Thomas Lund agreed to pay $25,000 and $10,000 respectively to settle their SEC cases.

    Five months earlier, Richard Syron and former Freddie Mac executives Patricia Cook and Donald Bisenius settled their cases for $250,000, $50,000 and $10,000, respectively.


    CBO said these bailouts cost $317 billion. Recouping a little over one dollar per million from those responsible symbolizes the effectiveness we’ve come to expect from the SEC. /sarc

    Feel especially bad for poor Lund and Bisenius, clipped for $10,000 each. Prolly had to cut back to plonk wine at their barbecues for a month or two. Brisket instead of filet mignon. It stings.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      This is a real howler, “one of the biggest cases tied to the 2008 crisis”. LOLOL
      Oh look just $317 billion…and the perps were told to send in the change from the top of their dressers. Instead couldn’t they just make them stand in the Bad Boy Corner for 15 minutes?
      Luckily help is on the way, in the form of the former Senator from New York, who in the midst of the crisis sallied forth to Wall St and “told them all to cut it out”.
      (I wonder if the resulting guffaws drowned out the loud “Ka-Ching!” sound as her speaking fee of $675,000 for her speech that evening to said Wall St funsters hit her ample bank account).

    2. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      August 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      I’m surprised they weren’t given a 10K bonus from the SEC for each 1 million lost….progress!!!
      I estimate at about the same time our sun becomes a red giant and turns the planet to a cinder, we’ll have an effective SEC

  13. grizziz

    Re: Supply Chain,
    The WSJ article is paywalled, however if I interpret correctly Nike is splitting off the brand to protect it from the possible attacks due to abuses in the supply chain as was pointed on in the Abusive Employers post today. Apollo takes on the reputational risks while rolling up the supply chain to create efficiencies.
    This roll up could almost be seen as assuming the passage of the TPP whereby the equalization of rules would lower the friction costs of Apollo as goods moving up the supply chain are not taxed or inspected as they move across traditional borders.

  14. EndOfTheWorld

    Gary Johnson will hire Mitt? The guy is on the take from Hill and the dems. Trying to take some votes away from Trump. Weld and Mitt are libertarians? No, they are establishment figures who don’t like Trump.

    BTW, I’ll tell you another crook that’s taking moola under the table from the dems: Webster Tarpley. A smart fellow with a good grasp of history, he used to say the US should have a partnership ( a “condominium”) with Russia. That Russia was our ally even in the Civil War, sending their fleet to San Francisco to deter the confederates. Now, although Trump is on the side of the Russians, Tarpley is ad hominem to the max against Trump—-fascist, Nazi, etc. He’s obviously on the take.

      1. Divadab

        Romney at least is competent. Given the right goal (like romneycare, eg) he will get er done.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Point is, Gary J. has zero chance of winning. But he’s throwing Mitt’s name out there to get some votes from the republicans. He is running an alt republican campaign. He’s on the take, IMHO.

      2. johnnygl

        Lambert, i recall you making a point the other day about how it’s a bad sign that a party needs to parachute in a celebrity to generate buzz as the greens tried to do with sanders and nina turner.

        Perhaps this applies to the libertarians, too?

    1. aab

      I think the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld/Mitt Romney thing has been and will continue to pull more from EXACTLY the demographic Clinton is targeting. I can’t put my hands on links to the polling, but I recall reading in the last week or so that Johnson was pulling more from Clinton than Trump, in that when you took him out of the question, her numbers went up more than Trump’s did. Adding Romney seems like it would only increase that impact.

  15. Tom

    Random thought about the Clinton email hairball revelations.
    If there was a functioning press in this country, it wouldn’t have been up to Judicial Watch to uncover this rotten pile of corruption, cronyism, criminal negligence regarding national security and whatever else the next FOIA batch reveals. Whatever their motivations, however it all pans out, Judicial Watch has done a great service.

  16. crittermom

    Re: Corruption
    Great article, with Lambert’s comment at the end once again drawing attention to that gnawing feeling I’ve had for a while. (“Hopefully Trump’s campaign team can stick a sock his mouth so this can dominate a news cycle?”)

    With each new negative announcement against Clinton, Trump goes off on some rant that draws attention away from those new revelations regarding her.

    Is it crazy of me to still wonder if he wasn’t selected as a ‘stooge’ (for lack of a better word) to ensure a Clinton win, and it backfired because both parties are so far removed from the 99% they failed to realize how unhappy that 99% are?

    I know I’m not the first with that theory, so I suppose it’ll be interesting to see how he handles himself from here in using that info, or if he continues with his ‘diversion’ performances?

    1. jgordon

      I wonder, have you actually seen what Trump says first hand, or are you only relying on the media and their short, edited clips to inform your opinion?

      Because what the media reports about Trump saying and what he actually says are two entirely different things. You might think I’m exaggerating there… But I’m not. The bias is incredibly obvious and bad if you spend just a bit of time looking at the primary source.

      1. jgordon

        Reading, I think “bias” is too polite a term. I’d replace that with “outright, scandalous lying”.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          is this the case what Trumps says is exposing Clinton too much, and the reports need to make him look unpleasant, and so the first reaction is wonder if he should remain silent?

          And the confirmation that he should remain quite is his declining poll numbers? He is falling more and more behind.

          No way he should catch up or pass her when he’s being too boorish or blunt.

          I wonder if that’s the message here for us?

      2. NYPaul

        Of course you’re right about the Media. But now, I have to wonder if Trump is really mentally stable.

        He did a great thing with the Kellyanne Conway hire. He changed his demeanor, read from prepared scripts, even expressed regret about some of his more outrageous behavior. This past week things looked like they may have begun turning around a bit. And, the latest Clinton email scandal is an unexpected gift that could have been the gift that keeps on giving. All he had to do was keep it going and not succumb to the off-the-wall psychosis that everyone was predicting he’d revert to

        He just can’t help it, he simply has no self-control whatsoever. He starts off this week with a well publicized Twitter assault on Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, repeating the well-rumored “affair” they’re supposedly having. Wave after wave of moronic, childish taunts towards a couple of worthless, inconsequential TV pundits.

        It’s one or the other: He’s out of his mind, or, he really doesn’t want to win the Presidency.

        1. Alex morfesis

          El loco diablo donaldo is not crazy and was always a longshot to beat any democrat in this ever shifting demographic chaos…

          He has tons of baggage inside his complicated layers of stripping pieces of his real estate onions to enhance tax write offs…via cost segregation, which all large and competent real estate organizations use to split of portions of the property to allow advanced and sped up depreciation on those items which tend to have a shorter depreciable life…also, once the depreciation is used up, the entity holding the fully depreciated asset can then rent back the asset to the using entity and the using entity gets a tax write off and the asset/chattel owner gets cash flow growth for the life of the enterprise…

          He, like anyone in his position, will know when some story is percolating, because lawyers for media companies will insist any large and potentially litigious party needs to be given an opportunity to “comment”…

          By burping out some sophomoric nonsense on twittistan, he can try to push the inquiries into the next news hole and blow past any tough inquiries of his checkered past (& present)…

          He is crazy like a fox…

          and no I aint voting for him…
          but he is definitely a convenient idiot for us peons for now…

  17. Goyo Marquez

    Re Snowden and Shadow Brokers.
    Wonder if there’s any relation to Snowdens enigmatic, quickly deleted, it’s time tweet from a few weeks back.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That is a very interesting question. And the subsequent controversy would have made sure that whoever was supposed to get the message, got it. Assuming it was a message.

      1. JustAnObserver

        IIRC at around the time of the original Snowden document leaks someone close to him or the docs said something akin to “… and there are more where he came from”. Can’t remember who – Greenwald, Poitras, Guardian journo ?

  18. Synoia

    Obama is readying one final push for approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Needs an edit: here’s is mone:

    Accompanied by lobbyists and senior industry executives, Obama is readying one final round of bribes for “soon-to-retire” lawmakers, before going to other jobs in lobbying and industry, to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    1. Isolato

      Perhaps he could promise presidential pardons.

      And on Hillary’s many liabilities…how could she be controlled if she can’t be threatened?

  19. Propertius

    “Branding without walls”

    Concepting? Concepting??? I’d burn them to the ground just for using that “word”.

      1. clinical wasteman

        That last specimen sets my teeth to uncontrollable gnashing, accompanied by wailing. Then again, ‘branding’ — with reference to anything other than a form of torture (and assertion of ownership) — is not much better. Nor is the creeping norm of personifying not just corporations but also to their marketing ephemera, i.e. their brands. As in: “global brands are passionate about Reputation Management”, etc.
        But yes, verbicide is even worse. Regarding which, see also: http://www.wealthofnegations.org/?p=42

  20. alex morfesis

    TPP panic…dead brands walking…a mile high club view of the tpp question begets the possibility of major tall building law firm panic as to their future financial stability…200 top firms with 125 billion in revenue are sitting ducks for the computerization and automation era that is about to hit the practice of law…of the top 25 firms, only half have more than 25 offices, creating a need to have TPP and other toilet paper agreements to allow them to capture the legal revenue for multi continent firms without having to actually connect with the legal systems in 100 countries around the globe…

    besides…I think it is cute, this whole notion that a little piece of paper will prevent small enterprises around the globe from creating their own marketing co-ops based in the caymans and other financial jurisdictions to hammer back against the tide of dead brands walking…

    as to the copyright protections that these tall building law firms have sold to dead brands walking….new creativity is just a few clicks away from protection…the average shmoe can easily protect their intellectual property from the dead brands walking and pass it on to their heirs and progeny, as long as they don’t use a legacy law firm, invested in keeping holy-wood happily streaming deals in their directions…

    I myself welcome TPP (toilet paper productions) and its borg affiliates…

    dead brands walking…

    americans always find a way around

    “los inutile abogados”

    chaplin and united artists, etc ran off to california to avoid the tpp of its
    time and the “edison” crew…


    persistence is ductile…

    (ductile as in materials…not a lemming)

  21. Lambert Strether Post author

    New emails show Clinton aide setting up meeting with major foundation donor Politico

    When Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain wanted face time with Hillary Clinton in the first months of her time at the State Department, top aide Huma Abedin worked as a go-between for the Clinton Foundation and the secretary of state to facilitate the appointment, working official channels while coordinating with top Clinton Foundation executive Doug Band.

    Newly released Clinton emails show favors for foundation donors NY Post (conflates the Judicial Watch release with the State release). This from the Judicial Watch:

    Another email exchange between Abedin and Clinton shows a special favor for a top donor: a 15-minute meeting with Clinton, who delayed a plane to accommodate the big contributor.

    “Danny abraham called this morning. He is in dc today and tomorrow and asked for 15 min with you. Do u want me to try and fit him in tomorrow?” Abedin wrote in a May 4, 2009, email to Hillary Clinton.

    “Will the plane wait if I can’t get there before 7-8?” Clinton asked Abedin.

    “Yes of course,” she replied.

    Abraham, the Slimfast billionaire, donated between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

    Revealed: How Clinton Foundation donors got a hotline to Huma – including Bono begging for help to use International Space Station for U2 concerts Daily Mail, as usual coming up with the best headlines:

    Major Clinton Foundation donors and officials got VIP access to Hillary Clinton’s State Department office, putting in requests for State Department favors on behalf of rock star Bono, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and an English soccer player, according to newly-released emails.

    The emails, obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, show that Clinton Foundation official Doug Band often passed along requests to Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin on behalf of the foundation’s donors and their friends or clients. In other cases, donors emails Abedin or Clinton directly.

    The exchanges will likely add to scrutiny over whether Clinton gave special treatment to Clinton Foundation contributors while she was at the State Department.

    And then there’s this:

    During the exchange, Band also seemed frustrated by Abedin’s use of multiple email addresses.

    ‘You have 50 email accounts…,’ he told her. ‘I never got that one.’

    Probably not literally 50, but does raise the possibility there are Abedin emails littering the universe, and we don’t know about them all yet. Pass the popcorn.

    1. Divadab

      Thanks for tracking this, Lambert. That Abedin was simultaneously on the payroll of the State Dept and the Clinton fdn appears corrupt on its face and these emails confirm the actual corruption as it happened. Also th IT guy but he left no trail of emails as he deepsixed the lot.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Abedin, at one point, seems to have worn four hats simultaneously:

        The December 2012 event showcased the unique position that Abedin occupied at the apex of the Clintons’ public and private worlds during the final six months of Hillary Clinton’s tenure heading the State Department.

        At the time, Abedin held four jobs with four different employers — an arrangement allowed by a special government designation she held permitting outside employment. And each job had a connection to the Dublin dinner.

        The invitation was sent from Abedin’s State Department account as Clinton planned for an official trip in her role as secretary. The dinner was attended by the chief executive of the private consulting firm Teneo, which has close ties to the Clintons and employed Abedin as an adviser. Seated around the tables were donors to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns as well as to the Clinton Foundation, where Abedin was a contractor preparing for Clinton’s eventual transition to the charity. And Clinton, who was also paying Abedin out of personal funds to prepare for her transition from secretary of state to private life, showed up for about an hour.

        Seems needlessly complex. Or, on the other hand, needfully; this whole thing is starting to feel like Richard Smith territory. If we assume Abedin really does have 50 email addresses, that works out to around 12 per hat. Seems legit.

        In a perfect world, we’d have a timeline of Abedin’s hats. If she ever lawyers up separately from Clinton, that will become important.

        1. fresno dan


          Hmmm. Seeing a lot of articles from the right about Abedin’s family and Muslim Brotherhood ties. Hmmmm…the rabbit hole – Moi is certainly not SO cynical (sarc) to believe that a false accusation of terrorism to used to hide a true accusation of corruption…


          In June 2012, then congresswoman Michele Bachmann and four conservative congressmen wrote to the State Department warning that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government. The letter specifically cited Abedin: “Huma Abedin has three family members—her late father, her mother and her brother—connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations,” they wrote. But a month later Senator John McCain, no friend of the Clintons, took to the Senate floor to denounce Bachmann’s letter as an “unwarranted and unfounded attack” on Abedin. “I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government.”

          “There are few things that President Obama and John McCain agree on. One is that … Bachmann’s lies about Huma are baseless and bigoted fear-mongering,” says Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill.
          (((COMMENT: Uh, if McCain and Obama agree, than the insider shenanigans are much, much, much worse than even I can imagine…again I ask: Are the Saudi’s REALLY our friends???)))

          “The next step was to sign off on Abedin’s 2012 request to become a “special government employee,” or S.G.E., at the State Department. This would allow her to continue to get paid while working from home, in New York City, as a consultant with expertise that no other person could supply on a “myriad of policy, administrative and logistical issues,” according to her application for S.G.E. status. At the same time she could care for her new baby son, Jordan, born on December 21, 2011. She became an S.G.E. in early June 2012 and was paid $62.06 per hour.

          By then, Abedin was also acting as a consultant to Teneo Holdings, a global strategic-consulting and investment-banking firm co-founded by her old friend Douglas Band, who did the same thing for Bill Clinton that she did for Hillary. For the seven months she worked at Teneo, she was paid $105,000.

          In addition to the State Department and Teneo jobs, Huma was hired as a consultant to the William J. Clinton Foundation to help plan for Hillary’s “post-State philanthropic activities,” and as a personal employee of Hillary’s.”

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I just think the Muslim extremist stuff is ridiculous winger froth, another example of how the Clintons are lucky in their enemies.

            However, Huma’s multiple hats, and her gatekeeper, Janus-like role at the interface between Clintons public and private spheres; that should be a big problem, given that corruption is the use of public office for private gain (which most definitely includes influence peddling and the sale of access).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Momentarily misread that:

        Nick Danger: Nick Danger, third eye!

        Telephone Guy: Hi, um, I’d like to order a pizza to go and no anchovies.

        ND: No Anchovies? You got the wrong man. I spell my name Danger! (Click)

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Arby’s Whole Beef Halves, surrounded by a thin thin thin 16 millimeter shell (offer not good after curfew in Sectors R and Z)

        2. ambrit

          Since we’re entering “Through the Looking Glass” territory here, that should be Regnad Kcin!

    2. JohnnyGL

      Can we get the Russians to sort all this out for us? The FBI takes WAYYY too long to complete their work, as seen in the server-gate investigation. We need this by election time, and we can be sure that Putin has already done the leg work here :)

  22. Heliopause

    “Hopefully Trump’s campaign team can stick a sock his mouth so this can dominate a news cycle?”

    Interestingly, the Clinton e-mail story is only the second biggest political one in the MSM right now. The biggest is Trump’s “flip-flop” on immigration because he’s refusing to make a specific commitment to a specific deportation plan. So you see, even when Trump “sticks a sock in it” he’s still the top story.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I didn’t even bother to read it. The “flip flop” is a genre piece, and we can’t trust the press to quote Trump accurately. It’s just another dogpile, so far as I’m concerned.

      1. Heliopause

        Just now I checked Google News and the Clinton e-mails are now on top. But for most of the day the top story was what Trump didn’t say. I guess the media people just can’t help themselves.

    2. ggm

      Trump cancelled an immigration speech and the media ran with the assertion that it signaled impending flip-flop. however, I wonder if Bannon advised him he would be better to stick to going after Hillary’s corruption as he has been in recent speeches.

  23. aj

    RE: “The truth is the economy is most likely already in a recession and there never was a viable economic recovery”

    Reading the CNBC article, my analysis is completely opposite the headline. The only reason the article thinks there will be a recession is because payroll taxes aren’t high enough to offset the growing deficit. to wit: “But this year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is predicting the 2016 deficit will total $590 billion, up more than 34 percent from last year’s budget shortfall.”

    So the whole article boils to down to “OMFG the US is out of munnies!!!”

    As the astute readers of this blog will be aware the government can’t run out of money and a larger deficit is actually good for the economy. Actually, it probably is the reason that the stock market is at all-time highs. It’s these idiots trying to reign it in and increase taxes that are going to crash the damn thing.

    Also, you can see the clear bias the writer has toward the 1%. There is no mention of increasing corporate taxes or capital gains taxes to make up for the tax shortfall. Nope. Payroll taxes are the only way to go.

    1. aj

      So, just to double check, I pulled up the August 19th Daily Treasury Statements (link below) for 2015 and 2016 I see that Withheld Income and Employment Taxes (in Table IV) are up 3.8% year over year from 1,963,605 to 2,037,918. So the premise of that article is just BS.


      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think the YOY increase in withheld income and employment taxes (in the second post) helps to put this year’s larger deficit in better light. Without that information, it’s not clear whether the larger deficit is from less government spending but even less (in comparison) withheld income and employment taxes, or if the large deficit is more more government spending vis-a-vis more taxes received.

        It looks like the latter is the case here.

        Unfortunately, we don’t know if that additional government spending occurs here (to benefit legal and illegal residents) or is being spent abroad. Maybe many locals are being hired, directly and indirectly, by our agencies and forces in all the hot spots in the world.

  24. JohnnyGL


    For anyone interested in the latest ongoing “battle of the narratives”. We’ve got “ugly Americans treat Rio likes it’s Cancun at spring break” vs. “dirty developing country criminals/cops rob innocent American tourists”.

    USA Today seems like they actually did some reporting, didn’t know they did that sort of thing :)

  25. alex morfesis

    Vichistani wage peace against airstrip 1 and retake their vows to lord palpatine at Ventotene…


    although, me thinks this whole basil faulty mr. festo…(Mr. manuel “manny” festo) is a bit “synthetic winds” altered reality…

    would imagine this whole pledge allegiance to Kyffhauser would take place at Avernus where this whole walpurgis type nonsense began…

    sadly, “the monkey from molfetta” probably did not have this in mind for the future and his two students and cohorts after he had lost his family in those two minutes in Messina in 1908…

  26. Roger Smith

    Ha! I am currently in Florida and Tim Canova is running commercials here that show a baby swimming nude In a pool that becomes dirty and green and he talks about politicians like DWA taking money to look the other way on environmental issues.

    On the flip side the DWA ad I see running here is one of her talking very boringly about how attacks against her are “just garbage” (no proof) and that “we know” trump is the real issue.

    1. jgordon

      Hopefully you’ll be staying through the winter! There’s nothing like enjoying Christmas on the beach in shorts with a martini. The sound of the surf, the alcohol, the mushrooms. Everything was so beautiful I want to cry just even remembering it.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Arguably, mushrooms and Florida don’t mix.

        Just when you’re blissfully peaking, some troglodytic alligator bites your leg off.

        (I’m open to being convinced otherwise.)

        1. Alex morfesis

          It takes a whole lot of stupid to get bit by some florida gator…they tend to run away from humans…at least the half dozen I have been close enough to for each of us to lock eyes down here this past decade…

          Could be the non everglade gators do not get thuggish as have never seen more than two together down here in the middle of the state and the authorized gator killers are fairly quick to come if someone actually sees a gator big enough to notice it…

          1. ambrit

            As a kid I almost caused cardiac arrest in my parents by chasing a small gator once. My Mom once opined that my antics almost convinced them to sterilize themselves and ‘abort’ me. (Using as a justification the Phillip K Dick Supreme Court ruling that a fetus was not a full legal individual until it learned algebra.)
            I’d be more worried about those giant Pythons, not the Cambridge/Oxford species, wrapping me up in their exhaustive embraces.

  27. Kim Kaufman

    ““While Clinton is expected to make only two public appearances before the end of August, she and her top backers will mingle with donors at no fewer than 54 events according to a fundraising schedule obtained by The Associated Press” [AP]. Strange body language for a candidate who’s already won.”

    Clinton is attending a funder at Haim Saban’s house this evening in Beverly Hills/Holmby Hills/Bel Air area. My friend Lauren Steiner organized a protest that all guests will have to pass on the way to the event. Then there’s another funder – a $33k one – somewhere in LA and then another in the area. I guess Hilly is just too busy to bother with the pesky voters.

  28. ian

    “Hoo boy. Hopefully Trump’s campaign team can stick a sock his mouth so this can dominate a news cycle?”

    What makes you think this will dominate any news cycle other than on Breitbart? The danger with Trump isn’t him talking about the corruption surrounding the foundation, it’s that he’ll gratuitously insult some sympathetic figure who is completely unrelated.

    1. Yves Smith

      Huh? I suggest you get out of the Democratic hack website echo chamber.

      Last week, the Boston Globe ran an editorial calling for the Clinton Foundation to shut down. The NY Times ran a front-page story on Sunday critical of the foundation. The lead story with a huge headline on Monday in HuffPo called for the closure of the foundation.

      The public is interested in the e-mail story to the degree that even the loyal MSM media is breaking ranks and telling the Clintons they need to get in front of this pronto.

  29. PhilU

    538 is hiring an economics writer. Please god (that I don’t believe in) someone with an MMT background get the position. I’ve heard Nate Silver say Neoliberal a dozen times so he isn’t totally in the dark.

  30. allan

    Ex-Milwaukee officers investigate fatal police shooting [AP]

    Wisconsin’s attorney general acknowledged Monday that former Milwaukee police officers, now working for the state Department of Justice, are investigating the fatal shooting of a black man by a Milwaukee officer that triggered two nights of violence.

    Attorney General Brad Schimel said he doesn’t see a conflict in using former Milwaukee officers in the investigation into the Aug. 13 shooting of Sylville K. Smith. …

    Does DOJ not see a conflict in Schimel not seeing a conflict in using former Milwaukee officers in the investigation?

  31. Jay M

    The war on cash:
    more disintermediation for the lunkheads left behind by the neoliberal aristocracy

  32. Kim Kaufman

    “UPDATE “The debate will heat up as more and more black parents in places like Philadelphia, Detroit, Newark, Camden, St. Louis, and Baltimore see their public schools underfunded, understaffed, and losing resources to charters” [Diane Ravitch]. Indeed. It’s also unfortunate that many of the best-known Black Lives Matter activists — the ones who go to the White House — are pro-charter in their employment choices.”

    John Oliver Explains the Frauds and Scams in Charter World!


    I have found it too difficult for me, as a white person – with no children – to tell black and brown parents that charter schools are not good for their children (not to mention their communities as a whole). They want those shiny charter schools they see on the west side and nothing I have been able to say can convince them that they’re probably not going to get those kind of charters. The John Oliver piece gets into the fraud and corruption and that starts to be convincing. Imo, the only other way to go is to regulate charters with the same regulations that public schools have (which they do not now have). Hopefully, that will serve to make those charters unprofitable and therefore unattractive to the privatizers.

    1. Katharine

      “The debate will heat up as more and more black parents in places like Philadelphia, Detroit, Newark, Camden, St. Louis, and Baltimore see their public schools underfunded, understaffed, and losing resources to charters” [Diane Ravitch]

      They have seen that for years. Why would it start to make a difference now? Schools are underfunded to the point of physical dilapidation, rec centers close, libraries close, while rich businessmen get tax deals and TIF financing they don’t need and the city runs free buses downtown while cutting paid service in outlying neighborhoods. In the face of such comprehensive unfairness over decades–really throughout the life of many parents–how many will narrow their focus to the effects of charters?

  33. Ulium

    Re: “Key ingredients of opposition to free trade? Prejudice and nationalism”

    Weirdly, that article is written by someone who mischaracterizes their own paper. The WaPo headline and article paints all anti-trade opposition as bigotry and nationalism, but mentions briefly in passing that this holds only for Trump anti-trade views. Sanders anti-trade views are instead, it mentions in a brief aside, due to opposition to “corporate interests perpetuating inequality at home and abroad.” Which is quite different! The paper itself distinguishes these two things better, writing:

    “With an audience prone to out-group aversion and xenophobic sentiment, Trump casts trade as a game of winners and losers in which Americans need to fight back against foreign “others” who are stealing, cheating, and outsmarting them. But facing a base of support that is significantly more comfortable with out-groups, Sanders pulls on very different levers: he ties his anti-trade position to a broader anti-corporate message, and he uses his record on trade to differentiate himself from his democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.”

    I’m used to dumb summary articles painting left and right populism with the same racist brush, but it’s rare to see the academic author himself doing it. While the paper does a good job making it clear that the two sides are similar in opposing trade for “symbolic” (ie, political) rather than self-interested reasons but very different in how that “symbolism” differs between the two sides, the WaPo article instead conflates leftwing anti-trade views (which are in fact “positive [towards] … out-group[s]” and amount to at least 20% of the electorate) with the racist nationalism of the right. Funny how that happens.

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