2:00PM Water Cooler 8/23/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I somehow managed to leave out yesterday’s plantidote, I think because I had two tabs open for the post, and submitted the wrong one. Oopsie!


“‘When [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] signals that he intends for it to be considered in the Senate, and after there is agreement on the final text of the legislation that would approve and implement the TPP, Sen. Wyden will take a position on the agreement,’ his spokesman, Keith Chu, said in an email” [Politico]. More horse-trading, given that Wyden was key to passing Fast Track.

“Members of the [American Postal Workers Union], which says it represents 200,000 workers, have come out against the TPP for its investor-state dispute settlement clause and for the way it would ‘lower worker protections to the lowest common denominator'” [Politico]. Funny how ISDS isn’t part of the discourse in the Beltway. Why, it’s almost as if the workers know how they’re gonna get screwed better than anyone else! For example:

In a speech at the Democratic National Convention last month, Katherine Isaac, a coordinator for the Grand Alliance to Save the Post Office, said corporate banks could force participating nations to ban financial services under TPP, including postal banking — ‘before they even get started.’

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the critics had their facts wrong on that point. “No provision in TPP prevents postal entities from selling insurance or offering banking services,” USTR spokesman Matt McAlvanah said.

Unsurprisingly, the USTR flak has learned to lie with a straight face. A suit for “lost profits” under ISDS is what would sink postal banking. Not a clause in the agreement.



“Other donors got action via direct appeal to Abedin: For example, 75-grand-giver Maureen White wrote, ‘I am going to be in DC on Thursday. Would she have any time to spare?’ Huma’s reply: “Yes I’ll make it work'” [New York Post]. Wait, all I need to buy access to Clinton is a grand? That’s all? Really?

UPDATE “‘Huma, I need your help now to intervene please. We need this meeting with Secretary Clinton, who has been there now for nearly six months,’ Aboussie wrote. ‘It should go without saying that the Peabody folks came to Dick and I because of our relationship with the Clinton’s [sic],’ she added” [The Intercept]. “‘We are working on it and I hope we can make something work,’ Abedin replied, noting ‘we have to work through the beauracracy [sic] here.’ Obviously, as the example above shows, that’s not always true, and Abedin seems to be the arbiter of which donors go to Happyville, and which to Pain City.

UPDATE “The emails do not show that Clinton Foundation donors received any policy favors from Hillary Clinton or other elected officials. What they show is that people who donated to the foundation believed they were owed favors by Clinton’s staffers, and at least one of those staffers — the odious Doug Band — shared this belief” [Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine]. Yes, selling access is called “influence peddling.” It’s corrupt in itself, regardless of policy outcomes. The headline: “Clinton Foundation Still Not Criminal, Still Not Great for Hillary.” So, if “not criminal” is the baseline…

UPDATE “Bill Clinton says he will leave Clinton Foundation if Hillary is elected president” [Los Angeles Times]. From the Department of How Stupid Do They Think We Are? Even if you accept that quid pro quo is the only form of corruption, which I don’t, consider the possibility that Bill closed the deal on the quid before the election, and Hillz will deliver the pro quo after the election. Surely, that is, a quid pro quo can be asynchronous? Or are we now to believe that the only form of corruption is when cash in an envelope is transferred from one hand to another? That’s even worse than Citizens United!

The Voters

“Yet after all this, Trump remains around 40% in the polls or better — and only about five points behind Hillary Clinton” [Brent Arends, MarketWatch]. “n other words, in presidential election terms, it’s still either party’s race. Most elections see swings of several points between August and early November. Some see even bigger ones — at this point in 1988 Vice President George H.W. Bush looked like a no-hoper against Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. Bush went on to win by seven points. There is no reason to think this election will be less volatile than the norm…. Right now the bookmakers give Trump about a 25% chance of winning. That’s high enough to be alarming. But what’s worse: If I had to take a wager at these levels, I’d take the over rather than the under. This race, terrifyingly, is still open.”

“That remarkable fact underscores how virtually unchallenged Clinton has been on the advertising airwaves, as Democratic and Republican strategists alike say she has gone deeper into the election calendar than any non-incumbent president they can remember in the modern era without sustained, paid opposition on television” [Politico]. So, if election 2016 were a WWF match, the [good|bad] guy would be fighting with one hand behind his back, and getting pounded, for sure, but….

“Three of the top four nonfiction hardcover best sellers in the New York Times Book Review on Sunday were anti-Hillary Clinton screeds (‘Hillary’s America’ by Dinesh D’Souza, ‘Crisis of Character’ by Gary Byrne, and ‘Armageddon’ by Dick Morris), and the fourth, ‘Liars’ by Glenn Beck, was a more general assault on the liberal agenda that certainly has no kind words for Clinton” [MarketWatch]. And they say people don’t read books any more…

“Our research suggests yet another reason not to overreact to news stories about the newest poll: Media outlets tend to cover the surveys with the most “newsworthy” results, which can distort the picture of where the race stands” [WaPo]. Look! Over there! Another fluctuation well inside the margin of error!

UPDATE “Despite frequent claims of the ‘women’s vote’ working in Democrats’ favor, much depends on which women. Individually, these women’s views vary widely, just as the county they live in. Lake County [Ohio] has been nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Collectively, they make up a demographic that has reliably voted, and reliably voted Republican, in nearly every election since 1972: Married women, especially white married women” [NBC]. Joyce was still keeping her vote a secret, but she thought she knew why people were so angry. ‘I think it’s more that we don’t trust politicians, period,’ she said. ‘We’ve gotten to a point in the United States where they’re all liars or they’re all cheaters or they’ve all done something wrong and we’re gonna blow that up. And so we don’t trust any of them.’ The other women were nodding. ‘And I think,” Joyce said, ‘that’s where Trump’s power came from.” Joyce is a volatility voter, then.

UPDATE Re: Clinton and “welfare reform”: “Having abandoned the maternalists’ sentimental defense of motherhood as a sacred calling, most second-wave feminists had no terms in which to mount a convincing justification for income support to poor mothers. Other women were working; why shouldn’t they work too? But for middle-class women, work meant public recognition, self-determination, the right to be seen as autonomous individuals and to participate in civic life. For welfare mothers, especially black women, who made up two-thirds of all domestic workers by 1960, it meant watching other women’s children, preparing their food, and scrubbing their floors, services that professional women increasingly relied on as they entered the workforce in greater numbers. The version of welfare reform Bill Clinton envisioned was much more generous than the bill eventually passed by the Republican Congress in 1996. It would have included child-care and job-placement programs — but it would still have required welfare recipients to work. Hillary’s support for the bill reveals the deep fault lines of class and race that fractured the second-wave feminist movement, as white middle-class women purchased their independence from domestic labor by shifting the burden to working-class women of color” [N+1]. Remember Nannygate? There you have it.


“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will address supporters on Aug. 24 to tout ‘Our Revolution,’ a new organization intended to harness the energy of his supporters and help progressive political candidates across the country” [Defend Democracy]. “Sanders envisions the organization having three objectives, including ‘revitalizing American democracy by bringing millions of working people and young people into the political system.’ The independent senator also wants to empower ‘the next generation of progressive leaders by inspiring, recruiting and supporting progressive candidates across the entire spectrum of government – from school board to U.S. Senate.'”

“‘It’s about both the fundraising and the spending: Jeff would like to take big money from rich people including billionaires and spend it on ads,’ said Claire Sandberg, who was the digital organizing director of the campaign and the organizing director of Our Revolution (whose entire department of four left) before quitting. ‘That’s the opposite of what this campaign and this movement are supposed to be about and after being very firm and raising alarm the staff felt that we had no choice but to quit'” [Politico]. Of course, Politico is rubbing his hands gleefully, and some staffers remain, but my impulse is to side with Sandberg, even if this looks like a campaign power struggle (typical). So it will be interesting to see where Sandberg goes and what she does. To be fair, a campaign is a like a traveling circus, so it would be institutionally challenging to anybody — and I’m not certain that administration is a strength for either Sanders — to transform Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Baily into, oh, a Twenty-first Century version of The Grange (see also).

“A 501©(4) [like “Our Revolution”] may accept unlimited cash without having to disclose donors, but as a senator, Sanders may not ask contributors for more than a certain amount — $2,700 to a campaign committee and $5,000 [not sure how that squares with Sandberg’s “billionaires”] to a super PAC. Sanders, who is involved in the group’s management, signed Our Revolution’s first fundraising email” [Buzzfeed]. So limit contributions to the famous $27, and no problem. Now, I can see concern about a fundraising model for a campaign, and a person, not scaling to a fundraising model for multiple campaigns all over the country, and why a campaign manager might see the air war on TV as critical (see link above), but if you think of voter/donors as investors, you can’t dump a 1% whale into a tank of minnows, and not expect the minnows to feel swamped and angry. And rightly. I mean, that’s the system we have now, and who wants it, except, well, the people who want it?

“So far, it doesn’t seem as if [Trump has done enough damage to the rest of the party to put the House into question. The Cook Political Report estimates that just 36 Republican-held seats are either ‘tossups’ or ‘leaning’ Republican. Many of the well-educated white G.O.P. voters with reservations about Mr. Trump appear to be sticking by Republicans, at least for now” [New York Times]. Still looking good for gridlock!

“As partisanship has hardened in the 21st century, split-ticket voting has become rare. But it now offers a beckoning lifeline for Republicans who hope to preserve their party’s control of Congress in the year of Donald Trump” [RealClearPolitics]. “;This election is ready-made for ticket splitting,” says Stuart K. Spencer, a retired California political consultant who played a key role in the rise of Ronald Reagan.”

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, July 2016: “Volatility is the name of game for the new home sales report where July’s headline surged, up a monthly 12.4 percent” [Econoday]. 12.4% seems rather a lot. “Strength in this report comes from the largest region which is the South where sales rose 18.1 percent to a 398,000 annualized pace. The Northeast, which is a very small region for new homes, surged 40.0 percent in the month but to only a 35,000 rate.” And: “The headlines say new home sales again dramatically improved. The median sales price for homes was down – and inventory was also down. This was a very good month as sales were well above expectations” [Econintersect]. “This data is compiled by sampling, and historically has little revision. This data is based on contracts signed – not actual properties conveyed.” And: “This was well above expectations of 580,000 sales SAAR in July, [highest since October 2007]. This was a strong report” [Calculated Risk]. Then again: ” Strong sales, higher than expected, but in any case no homes get built or sold without permits which remain weak, so expect ‘corrections’ with future releases” [Mosler Economics].

PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, August 2016: “Weakness in orders and employment were unfortunate themes of last week’s Empire State and Philly Fed reports and likewise headline the manufacturing PMI report” [Econoday]. And: “Of the three regional Federal Reserve surveys released to date, one is in expansion and two are in contraction” (charts) [Econintersect].

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, August 2016: “Richmond’s headline bounced down into the negative column this month, to minus 11 from plus 10 in July and minus 10 in June” [Econoday]. “If housing is proving itself to be the biggest positive surprise of the 2016 economy, manufacturing may be proving to be the year’s biggest disappointment.”

Chemical Activity Barometer, August 2016: “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) expanded 0.4 percent in August following an upward revision for July. This marks the barometer’s sixth consecutive monthly gain” [Econintersect]. “In August, three of the four core categories for the CAB improved. Production-related indicators were positive, with goods reports on housing trends strengthening. Equity prices continued to gain and inventory remained positive. Product prices slipped slightly in August.”

Supply Chain: “Thin foil used to wrap cigarettes and seal yogurt cups increasingly comes from China, forcing factory closures in the U.S. that echo the widespread shutdown of American aluminum smelters. U.S. buyers of aluminum foil say they can’t resist China’s cheap prices and seemingly limitless production capacity. The slow death of the U.S. foil industry also shows there’s more at stake in trade disputes brought by Western steel and aluminum industry groups than the commodities themselves” [Wall Street Journal].

Supply Chain: ” Target Corp. is the latest global retailer to find trouble deep within its supply chain. The Minnesota-based company cut ties with textile supplier Welspun India Ltd. , saying the firm’s claims that some of its products contained premium Egyptian cotton were false. The incident demonstrates how difficult it can be for companies to guarantee that quality and ethical standards set at headquarters will be followed throughout complicated, multi-layer supply chains” [Wall Street Journal]. “Ethical standards.” Wait, you’re telling me that labor and regulatory arbitrage aren’t drivers for globalization?

Shipping: “The much-discussed sale of the Baltic Exchange to the Singapore Exchange may be finalised by the end of November, provided it gets regulatory and shareholder approvals” [Lloyds’ List]. This keeps not happening…

The Bezzle: “Top auto-parts suppliers Delphi Automotive PLC and Mobileye NV are joining forces to develop a fully autonomous driving system that car makers could begin placing in their vehicles beginning in 2019” [Wall Street Journal, “Delphi, Mobileye Join Forces to Develop Self-Drive System”]. “The two hope the development partnership will produce off-the-shelf systems for everything from small cars to sport utilities and pickup trucks—and help them carve out a central role in the race to supply technology for driverless vehicles. The tie-up, which was disclosed on Tuesday, comes as big auto makers and tech companies are moving independently on autonomous-vehicle developments.” Maybe I’m just a Luddite, but I don’t see how “fully autonomous driving systems” happen without (a) major infrastructural changes, like painting lines on the roads and eliminating potholes and stuff like snow and ice, and (b) without major changes to insurance polices, that in essence hold the developers and programmers of self-driving systems harmless. Are these things happening, and I didn’t get the memo? Now, I can see these systems being implemented in a few cities, and happiliy sucking immense amounts of money away from the public transportation that working people use, but 2019? Really? (Now, it may be that all the Democrat movers and shakers are in Silicon Valley to facilitate this.

The Bezzle: “Ride-hailing pioneer Uber Technologies Inc. has accelerated its entry into the self-driving vehicle sector by acquiring autonomous trucking startup Otto for a reported $680 million and announcing a deal with Volvo Car Group to build the technology into sedans and SUVs” [DC Velocity]. “Formed in 2016 by four veterans of Google’s self-driving car project, San Francsico-based Otto’s combination of hardware and software retrofits existing trucks with autonomous driving abilities by adding sensors to the roof.”

Coops: “Platform Cooperativism: a worker-owned Uber for everything” [Boing Boing]. “On November 13 and 14, the New School in New York City will host a coming-out party for the cooperative Internet.” This looks really interesting!

The Fed: ” Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen may struggle later this week to convince financial markets she can steer a divided U.S. central bank to raise interest rates at least once in 2016 after it started the year with four hikes on its radar” [Reuters]. “‘You can talk all you want but let’s face it: In the last seven years we have had one measly 25-basis-point hike. Show me the money,’ said Don Ellenberger, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh.'”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Greed (previous close: 72, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 23 at 12:07pm. Greed extreme once again. Phew!

Health Care

“As patients like Ms. Newmyer struggle to cope with the dizzying demands of a trillion-dollar health care system that generates most of its revenues from older people, they are increasingly turning to patient advocates for help. The profession, officially seven years old, now has about 650 advocates, including doctors, and is growing rapidly, according to the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates” [New York Times]. And every one of those “professionals” a committed advocate against single payer, since that would remove the artificial complexity, which they collect a rent to decode. One of those “think happy thoughts on the way down” stories the Times is so good at.

“The Affordable Care Act is not in crisis — but it could be better” [Ezekiel Emanuel and Topher Spiro, WaPo]. “In the meantime, the public, stakeholders and policymakers should act constructively to make the law work and fix any problems that arise, rather than root for its failure or cut and run.” First time I’ve heard Medicare for All described as “cut and run,” but that’s a liberal for ya.

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran” [Foreign Policy].


“Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change'” [Counterpunch]. “[What] Bill McKibben proposes does not, however, amount to much more than a proposal to reform (and continue) an other, far less openly discussed, war – i.e., class war. This becomes clear as soon as McKibben identifies his war on climate change’s enemy as the fossil fuel industry – rather than the political economic system designed to exact, extract, and exploit resources (and to reinvest its gains into exacting, extracting, and exploiting more resources, ad mortem).”

Class Warfare

“Losing My Revolution: How Many Resources Shared on Social Media Have Been Lost?” (PDF) [Hany M. SalahEldeen and Michael L. Nelson]. “After the first year of publishing, nearly 11% of shared resources will be lost.” I’m filing this under class warfare because social media is making activists more stupid — and becaue the 1% and the 10% can afford therir own, institutional, archiving systems.

Krugman panders to working class voters, defends liberal cred [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. But you can see his heart’s not in it. Read it for the lulz!

From the ShadowBrokers: “Then after what they call the “fun Cyber Weapons Auction” comes the real message, a serious threat. ‘We want make sure Wealthy Elite recognizes the danger [of] cyberweapons. Let us spell out for Elites. Your wealth and control depends on electronic data.’ Now, they warned, they have control of the NSA’s cyber hacking tools that can take that wealth away. ‘You see attacks on banks and SWIFT [a worldwide network for financial services] in news. If electronic data go bye-bye where leave Wealthy Elites? Maybe with dumb cattle?'” [Reuters].

“Walmart’s business model relies on low prices because it serves a precarious and low-wage customer base. And Walmart operates in a world where recoveries from recessions are grindingly slow, incomes have stagnated or even fallen for the middle and lower slices of American workers, and where big cities are the few remaining islands of economic vibrancy” [The Week]. “So it has to keep cutting prices to keep up with its customers’ ability to pay. But Walmart is also the country’s biggest employer, and the biggest employer in 19 states. So when it holds down pay to make its price cuts financially viable, it ends up creating a vicious cycle. All the while, Walmart has trouble keeping a profit margin compared to upscale competitors.” So Walmart doesn’t have a crime problem. It has a class problem.

” Economic anxiety isn’t driving racial resentment. Racial resentment is driving economic anxiety.” [WaPo]. This belief is extremely important to the meritocracy.

News of the Wired

“Women and writers of color win big at Hugo Awards and the Puppies are even sadder” [Los Angeles Times]. With the complete list of the 2016 Hugo Award winners.

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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):


Lovely peonies!

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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. Arizona Slim

    Interesting story about the bumpy launch of Our Revolution. And the departure of key staff once Jeff Weaver came on board.

    My off-the-cuff impression of Weaver: He was out of his league. Yes, he ran Sanders’ senatorial campaigns. But a presidential campaign is a much bigger operation. The guy stretched and stretched, but he just couldn’t get there.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yep. However, it seems to me it’s less a personal thing than two visions of politics; even past and future, if you will. Then again, the Heathers in DC would like very much for this effort to fail (or to be assimlated).

    2. flora

      Yes. The “our revolution” (TM) launch (donate, send money, so we can field candidates, so we can create a better Congress, so blahda yada ) sounds a lot like the Green Party objective of getting enough vote to get money to get on ballots to get yada yada.
      I think it puts the cart before the horse. The last electorally successful new party to form was the GOP. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it genesis:
      ” It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous modernization of the economy. The Party had almost no presence in the South, but by 1858 in the North it had enlisted former Whigs and former Free Soil Democrats to form majorities in nearly every Northern state.

      “With its election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and its success in guiding the Union to victory and abolishing slavery, the party came to dominate the national political scene until 1932.”

      The nascent GOP had 2 or 3 very specific animating issues drawing in voters. I don’t see anything like that in either the Greens or the Our Revolution leaders. They could say “we exist to stop TPP and TPIP”, or “we exist to clean up and regulate Wall St.” or “we exist to stop carbon polution”. Instead of focusing on a few issues, they either focus on no specific issues or on a trainload of issues that dilutes focus.

      1. Goyo Marquez

        That was a link within a link, this morning:

        These capital words reminded me of a seminal book written by journalist Matt Bai. In the very last pages of “The Argument”, Matt Bai quotes former New York governor Mario Cuomo. I consider the Cuomo quote in “The Argument” the most enlightening lesson I have ever been taught about politics and elections (p. 300):

        “So what happens?” Cuomo asked. His answer was not that you build the best voter turnout machine you can afford, or that you bring in a linguist to calibrate your message. “You seize the biggest idea you can,” he said, “the biggest idea you can understand. And this is what moves elections.”
        He then went through, election by election, the larger arguments that had dominated every American presidential campaign since Watergate. Carter won because he made a case for “holiness and cleanliness” in government, Cuomo said. Reagan ran, in succession, on supply-side economics and on forcing a showdown in the cold war. Clinton talked about the fundamental upheaval in the American economy. “It was a big idea,” Cuomo said. “It was a very, very big idea.”
        “In 2000, what was the issue?” he went on. “There was no big idea. Nothing. And what did you get? A dead heat. It was a tie”… The last (2004) election, he said, had been all about Bush’s war on terror. “There was nothing else. What about health care? What about the economy? Forget it,” Cuomo said, shaking his head. “No one cared”…
        “Now it’s 2006,” he said, “and… if Iraq is not an issue, then what issues do we have to talk about?… So far the Democrats have talked about what I think it’s fair to say are very timid proposals. The minimum wage? No one in this room would say that it’s not a good idea. It’s a good idea. Lower prices for prescription drugs? Another good idea.” And yet, he went on sadly, none of these were grand enough to restore the soul of a party.


        1. JaaaaayCeeeee

          Critics of reform need to complain of the lack of 2 or 3 very specific animating issues that can create a new party, or complain of the lack of grand-not-just-good ideas, enough to restore the soul of the party. But that’s because they can’t talk about reducing corruption and increasing economic and social justice while simultaneously preserving the status quo/technocracy/meritocracy, not because discouraged voters are missing some needed marketing hooks.

          1. flora

            I’ll be happy to talk about 2-3 very specific issues.
            Say, for instance, combating trade deals (TPP and TPIP) that destroy democracy and that expand a financial sector fraud. Stopping bad “trade deals” to maintain democracy and to rein in financial fraud would have the happy effect of supporting honest businessmen, the formation of new businesses in the real economy, supporting Main Street, and protecting democracy. The very heart of these 2 to 3 specific issues is about reducing corruption. About retaining democracy. About changing the current status quo. Who said anything about maintaining the status quo? Reform that maintains the status quo? That’s an oxymoron.

            Did I mis-read your comment?

              1. flora

                or, since I have no claim to superior knowledge, a reformist campaign might advocate for increased minimum wage and regulating/eliminiating financial fraud.

                They must advocate for something concete; something beyond “give us more money and we’ll do something.” Wasn’t that the Clinton DLC line?

              2. Kurt Sperry

                In a sense it doesn’t matter. In even a phony democracy, the options are still constrained by the necessity to maintain the kayfabe. There are limits to how far the deceit can be pushed in any particular direction before you create an existential legitimacy crisis.

            1. JaaaaayCeeeee

              I can barely follow what I wrote myself when I try to re-read it.

              I think Bernie Sanders did a good job of prioritizing urgent problems and solutions in his stump speech, so I am not worried that he doesn’t reduce priorities to EG making the top priority appointing justices who will rerule on more than just Citizen’s United, or electing progressives with his priorities.

              Is anti MIC social democracy too unspecific to animate voters? Imho too, once democracy is lost, all else is moot.

      2. Isotope_C14

        Yes, the Green New Deal isn’t a specific animating issue…

        Seriously, what exactly do ya’ll’s want from the Greens or Our Revolution people?

        Do they have to word it like it’s your idea or something?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Three breathtaking Judo moves.

      Perfect 10 score on each.

      We know who will get the Olympic gold medal in this event.

    2. ggm

      They would have gotten away with calling Monica a crazy groupie caught up in the VRWC if not for that blue dress.

    3. Uahsenaa

      The health one is at least somewhat speculative, based on inferences from information cobbled together from various sources.

      The email server and Clinton Foundation issues are plain as day.

    4. John Merryman

      There was a post up on Zero Hedge just now, about how half the people who had meeting with Hillary, while she was sec of state were donors to the Clinton Foundation. When I clicked on it, it said “access denied” and when I went back to the main page, it wasn’t there anymore. Now that’s real right wing conspiracy.

  2. clarky90

    “I am fighting for Peaceful regime change in our own Country”
    At 55 minutes in the speech, I am not kidding you!

    D. Trump Holds HUGE Rally in Akron, OH 8/22/16


    Donald Trump is America’s Nelson Mandela (IMO)

    Look at the the self-serving Army of Crooked Bastards, from the “Left” and the “Right” who are lining up to oppose Trump. They are “concerned” about their futures.

    I have read Naked Capitalism regularly for about 5 years. I only recently commented. Reading NC has been disturbing for me- Reports of a LITANY of crimes, frauds, murders, rapes, wars, lies, conspiracies, poisoning of the food supplies……….endless

    Donald Trump is promising to enforce the Laws of the USA equally. He intends to prosecute, and jail, the Big Criminals who have caused so much Pain To The People of the USA and to the World.

    In the speech, Trump also talks at length about creating a safe and prosperous future for African Americans and Hispanic Americans- AND, the crowd cheers wildly! You will not believe your eyes and ears.

        1. johnnygl

          In a way, one might argue he’s kind of the opposite…and that’s his greatest appeal!

          Mandela brought fractured groups together to trust each other at the price of caving to neoliberalism. Trump’s purpose for voters is to blow the neoliberal consensus apart at the cost of fracturing society’s rifts even further.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Trump could win this thing in a walk: ObamaCare premiums, Iraq / War fiasco, 90% of Americans going backwards financially, Clinton Foundation/email/slime, America First infrastructure, oppose bad trade deals. Stay on those 6 things and never deviate. Never respond. Start announcing the team you would bring in. Act the slightest bit statesman-like in the debates. Keep doing “presidential” things like visiting Louisiana.
            One of two conclusions: he’s incredibly politically unsavvy; or he doesn’t want to win.

            1. EndOfTheWorld

              Trump won the republican nomination at the debates. Of course, it’s debatable whether those were really “debates”. But Trump won them and he showed he wasn’t going to take any s#%t. Which Hillary will probably try to heap upon him, and which he will not take. But she’s losing the undeserved bump that she got from the phony dem convention. It’s early.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                I disagree. He won when Jeb’s sheepdogs started stomping their feet and accusing people of being bamboozled by Trump when Trump was just a placeholder In lieu of “none of the above.” This was when he went from carnival act to front runner.

                The debates were a sideshow. The real event was the GOP messaging machine trying to pimp Jeb and declaring Trump an enemy of the state.

            2. ian

              Hillary’s entire sales pitch is: Trump is awful, I’m not Trump. No reason to for *for* her, just reasons to not vote for Trump.

              Which makes me wonder what would happen if Trump simply became less awful – started sounding respectful and reasonable. Her pitch falls apart as voters have pretty short memories. It also would make for interesting drama – the third act of the play where the main character learns, grows and overcomes (Scott Adams was wondering about this on his blog).

              I know, I know. This is Trump we’re talking about …

          2. Lee

            The limits of identity politics exquisitely revealed:

            “Over the course of Nelson Mandela’s 95 years, South Africa evolved from a white-ruled British dominion to a republic representative of its majority-black population. But while the country has changed politically and demographically, economically it still looks much as it did nearly a century ago, divided along racial lines.

            “This infographic from The Economist shows how economic disparities between South Africa’s major racial groups (measured in real per-capita income) have grown over time. The gap between whites and all other groups grew wider till about 1970; white income growth flattened out in the 1970s and 1980s, as sanctions hobbled the country’s economy. But as sanctions were lifted after the collapse of the apartheid regime, whites and Asians (mostly of Indian descent) have benefited the most while black incomes have been nearly flat.”


            1. mustsigntopost

              Mandela was told money comes from The Market, and his good friend corporate guru Mervyn King didn’t disabuse him of the notion



              King’s belief that corporations are like disabled children in need of custodians instead of exonerating the Masters of the Universe, damns them

      1. clarky90

        It is easy to retrospectively love (financialize) a dead hero, like Jesus or Mandela. However, it was the little people, the teeming masses, the nobodies that loved them, when it mattered (before it was easy).

        “The attempt to make Nelson Mandela respectable is an ongoing effort of Western government spokesmen and the Western media.
        He wasn’t respectable in the business circles of twentieth-century New York or Atlanta, or inside the Beltway of Washington, D.C. He wasn’t respectable for many of the allies of the United States in the Cold War, including Britain and Israel.”


        I could be wrong about Trump. (I was wrong about Obama)

        I see the Wicked Witches (Dem and Repub varieties) melting before our eyes as Trump (Dorothy) clicks his ruby red shoes and pours cold water over them!

        “Mandela was a controversial figure……. critics on the right denounced him as a communist terrorist and those on the radical left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters.”


        I live in eternal hope!

        PS, thank you (NC and the commentariate) for allowing me to say this!

        1. JaaaaayCeeeee

          Clarky90, I love how Donald Trump sometimes tells the truth about Hillary Clinton, big donee elected officials, revolving doors and leadership Democrats. But I expect he would increase hate crimes, discrimination, inequality, and distrust in even the best of our public institutions, and I expect Donald Trump would be a historic fail at enforcing laws, regulation and prosecuting corruption. Though you can lift some of Bernie Sanders’s “enough is enough” rhetoric, if your diagnoses and prescriptions are wrong and/or dishonest, that just makes you a demagogue.

          You can lift some of Bernie Sanders’s “enough is enough” rhetoric and make dishonest, lawerly approximations of his diagnoses, and focus group tested prescriptions that sound good and will never add up to your promises. That just makes you a liberal like Owen Smith in the UK or Hillary Clinton in the USA. I can agree that they certainly won’t add up to the changes we need.

          The financial heavyweights behind corporate media, demanding the extension of an unsustainable status quo, denounce the demagogues like Trump, increasing the creation of new ones like we create terrorists. The liberals media promotes as viable (for failing to produce needed changes) will even work with demagogues, not just reckless reactionaries, to stop progressives. Volatility voters, berners or bust, green or libertarian voters, all desperate to break this catch-22 that is such a failure, are the divided, conquered and understandable result.

          But I think I am agreeing with Bernie Sanders in thinking we need to stop Trump. I think people should vote strategically, instead of obediently, for Hillary Clinton (which Bernie recommends), to stop Trump. Bernie’s reason for voting for Bill Clinton in 1992 is more relevant than ever. I think Bernie is still right, that “…a Clinton victory could give us some time to build a movement, to develop a political infrastructure to protect what needs protecting, and to change the direction of the country.”

          “You think I’m kidding. You think I’m exaggerating. Well, I’m not. I work in Congress. I listen to these guys every day. They are very serious people. And the folks behind them, the Christian Coalition, the NRA, the Heritage Foundation, and others, are even crazier than they are. My old friend Dick Armey is not some wacko member of Congress laughed at by his colleagues. He is the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Check out his views. No. I do not want Bob Dole to be president.

          I’m voting for Bill Clinton. Do I have confidence that Clinton will stand up for the working people of this country—for children, for the elderly, for the folks who are hurting? No, I do not. But a Clinton victory could give us some time to build a movement, to develop a political infrastructure to protect what needs protecting, and to change the direction of the country.”

          1. abynormal

            a Clinton victory could give us some time to build a movement…another movement?

            he [Trump] would increase hate crimes, discrimination, inequality, and distrust in even the best of our public institutions, and I expect Donald Trump would be a historic fail at enforcing laws, regulation and prosecuting corruption.
            … when it gets ‘hotter’ it will only be mirroring the discourse already in existence.

            a Trump coalition of thumpers could match the violent record(s) of the ‘folks’ backing Clinton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hillary_Clinton_presidential_campaign_endorsements,_2016

            The burden of poverty isn’t just that you don’t always have the things you need, it’s the feeling of being embarrassed every day of your life, and you’d do anything to lift that burden.

          2. clarky90

            Hi JCeee
            From how you describe of yourself, I think it is very wise and prescient of you to vote for Hillary Clinton. You would be foolish not to!

            1. abynormal

              he’s a ticket scalper… “I think people should vote strategically, instead of obediently, for Hillary Clinton”

            2. JaaaaayCeeeee

              By voting strategically, I have lived in MA and CA, where there is no way I would ever vote for Hillary Clinton. My point is that I think working for Bernie is the best move, at least for anyone not working for our oligarchs with their professed lifelong goal of ending disease and poverty.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      This (the claim, not FD’s comment) is so wrong. I spent a lot of time with “Reagan Republicans” back in the day and the increasing racism is directly tied to economic anxiety and perceived loss of opportunity. You could see it happen.

      1. fresno dan

        Left in Wisconsin
        August 23, 2016 at 6:06 pm

        It just seems to me so obvious that the great civil rights gains that began in the 50’s and went through the early 60’s could only have occurred by the optimism engendered by a “rising tide lifts all boats”
        Can anyone imagine those laws being even contemplated in the 30’s?

        1. JaaaaayCeeeee

          Diagnosing racism as driving economic anxiety is as bankrupt as denouncing those who want a productive economy as resentfully warring upon success. Along with Hillary Clinton’s faux feminism and non quid pro quo corruption it’s all attempts to justify bringing back the 30’s for most.

  3. Kim Kaufman

    ““‘It’s about both the fundraising and the spending: Jeff would like to take big money from rich people including billionaires and spend it on ads,’ said Claire Sandberg, who was the digital organizing director of the campaign and the organizing director of Our Revolution (whose entire department of four left) before quitting. ‘That’s the opposite of what this campaign and this movement are supposed to be about and after being very firm and raising alarm the staff felt that we had no choice but to quit’” [Politico]. Of course, Politico is rubbing his hands gleefully, and some staffers remain, but my impulse is to side with Sandberg, even if this looks like a campaign power struggle (typical). So it will be interesting to see where Sandberg goes and what she does. To be fair, a campaign is a like a traveling circus, so it would be institutionally challenging to anybody — and I’m not certain that administration is a strength for either Sanders — to transform Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Baily into, oh, a Twenty-first Century version of The Grange (see also). ”

    One of the arguments I remember before the CA primary was the decision – by Bernie – to spend $$ on TV ads. The grassroots wanted him to spend $$ on educating the voters on how to vote in the primaries because of the confusing “NPP” (No-Party Preference) designation. The grassroots lost on that issue. In retrospect, not sure which was the right decision. There would probably have been a lot less provisional ballots. Los Angeles County does count its provisionals (vigilant watchdogs have made them do it) but not sure around the state how many were uncounted. There was still a bigger spread for Hillary winning than I anticipated.

    For sure, though, I do not think Bernie has any skills in organizing and has never demonstrated any interest in doing it. His skill was at making inspiring speeches that connected with a lot of people. I know in LA, it was a few people (such as Lauren Steiner) who did the organizing – of their own volition – way before and after the speeches.

    I don’t know why it’s so hard to focus on down ballot elections. Howie Klein keeps a good list of the progressive candidates worth working for. They’ve got to keep their focus on 2020 election – to win the state elections before another census and redistricting if there’s to be any meaningful progress.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Hear’s what I’ve heard: When he was mayor of Burlington, VT, Sanders was not known for his organizing or managerial skills. However, he knew enough about his shortcomings to realize that he needed to hire some ace organizers and managers.

      My family grapevine reports that he did just that. And, according to the Slim Grape, his mayoral administration was a good one. The Grape also has good things to say about the constituent service provided by his congressional offices.

    2. Jess

      “His skill was at making inspiring speeches that connected with a lot of people.”

      Not just his skill, his intention. A perfect example of the idea that talking about a problem is equivalent to solving it. Great symbolism, signifying and accomplishing very little…or nothing at all.

      Attended an organizational meeting of pro-Bernie types on the Westside of L.A. Sunday night. About 50 people, half of them had been Bernie convention delegates. Good talks on election reform (paper ballots, video-taped counting in public at the polling site), No Nukes, electing a Brand New Congress movement, etc. However, the BNC position is built on having candidates sign a pledge to do this or that, not do “x” or “y”, etc. No one had an answer for my question about how we get candidates to abide by their pledges once elected.

      1. clarky90

        “Jack “Captain Hindsight” Brollin is a superhero who “helps” people in need by appearing at the scene to lecture them about what they did wrong to get into a certain accident and what methods they could have used to avoid it, instead of actually rescuing them”.


    3. nonesuch

      “There was still a bigger spread for Hillary winning than I anticipated.”

      Let’s please not forget what the AP and New York Times did the day of the California primaries.

  4. Kim Kaufman

    ““So far, it doesn’t seem as if [Trump has done enough damage to the rest of the party to put the House into question. The Cook Political Report estimates that just 36 Republican-held seats are either ‘tossups’ or ‘leaning’ Republican. Many of the well-educated white G.O.P. voters with reservations about Mr. Trump appear to be sticking by Republicans, at least for now” [New York Times]. Still looking good for gridlock!”

    Yeah, and that’s because the DCCC sucks so hard at supporting progressive Democrats who people might actually want to vote for if they weren’t buried by the DCCC.

    1. different clue

      The DCCC succeeds very well at suppressing progressive Democrats whom people might actually want to vote for if they could dig themselves out of the coal mine cave ins which the DCCC very carefully and with malice aforethought buries them under. By design. On purpose.

  5. Jim Haygood

    No bread, no circuses:

    (Caracas) The head of the National Agency for the Defense of Social and Economic Rights, William Contreras, said that the agency will fine bakeries that have waiting lines to sell their products.

    He explained that the queues are due to “fairly clear political intentions and purposes, such as destabilizing the economy and breaking the morale of the people.” He denied that lines are caused by product shortages, “because the raw material is arriving normally.”

    Meanwhile, the president of the Federation of Flour Workers, Juan Crespo, said “There’s not enough flour. They haven’t regulated the purchase of wheat, and it’s the state that’s the largest importer of grains. To supply the market we’re 120,000 tons short of regular baking wheat, without even mentioning pastry and pasta flour,” he said in a radio interview.


    This is gonna put a lot of “rent a placeholder” line standers out of business.

    “I’m a backdoor man.” — Jim Morrison

  6. John k

    Still looking like gridlock…
    Dunno. We’ve got two reps running, and reps right now control both houses…
    Reps couldn’t close the grand bargain with big o, and he’s a rep, too, but IMO the problem was he’s black more than officially a dem, and reps are racist, no way would the house deal with a black man, their super safe districts might go to a bigger racist.
    So on the one hand a female rep but officially dem that is right there with all rep Corp policies pushing down wages plus war, and on the other hand an officially rep guy that disowns bush’ war, doesn’t like bad trade deals and has no love for Wall Street, and wants to spend in size on infrastructure…
    It’s all upside down, but I see grand bargains galore if she wins. Meanwhile the question is, does his racism make up for his progressiveness? Ryan can’t make up his mind, Corp money vs the voters, just like the other house racists… My guess is they’ll fall in line if he wins because he’s got a mandate from the rep voters.

    I don’t see gridlock either way, but war if she wins. Remember Au+H2O would not renounce tactical nukes? And that we now have a new generation of them encircling Russia? And the theory Putin will back down if we confront him forcefully enough? Wouldn’t it be great to show him and the rest of the world we’ve got our mojo back with a little awe and terror? She’s happy to take Corp money but her mentor was Goldwater, not Ayn Rand.

    1. Jim Haygood

      From the AP article:

      Former senior White House ethics officials said a Clinton administration would have to take careful steps to ensure that past foundation donors would not have the same access as she allowed at the State Department.

      “If Secretary Clinton puts the right people in and she’s tough about it and has the right procedures in place and sends a message consistent with a strong commitment to ethics, it can be done,” said Norman L. Eisen, who was President Barack Obama’s top ethics counsel and later worked for Clinton as ambassador to the Czech Republic.

      Translation: “With better screeners, more security guards, and prettier girls, we can turn this into a respectable bawdy house.”

      “Obama’s top ethics counsel” … that’s like being Bernie Madoff’s top compliance officer.

      1. PhilU

        In other words the AP has completely assumed the roll of Clinton Campaign spin doctors. ‘We know this looks horrible but we really really don’t want you to vote Trump’

        1. Jim Haygood

          Overall the AP article is not favorable to the Clintons. I singled out the Eisen quote because it’s so over-the-top ludicrous. Who knows, maybe AP included it for comic relief.

          Only one logical conclusion, as this interview indicates:

          TC: I’ve said that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton should immediately suspend all donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments and from corporations. They said they will if she wins. But that’s really just an alarm bell for all those people to send in their money right now if they want to buy access in a future Clinton White House.

          HH: Yeah, it’s the starting gun. We just watched the Olympics. The starting gun just went off, and if you want to have access to the White House, you can’t count on the Lincoln bedroom being for rent again. You’ve got to get your money in early.

          TC: Yeah, I mean, they’re having a fire sale at the Clinton Foundation for White House access. So all of those oligarchs all around the world who are worried about fulfilling their life’s work of eradicating disease and poverty need to get their money in now.


    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Seems legit.

      * * *

      More from AP:

      The AP’s findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton foundation donors and people who met personally with Clinton or spoke to her by phone about their needs.

      Somehow, when the Clintonites talk about “intersectionality,” I don’t think that’s what they mean. Or maybe they do, eh?

      1. PhilU

        lol I hope she intersects a speeding bus. This is going to be non stop for the next 4 years if she wins. sigh…. I think I figured out why the Press was in the bag for her from the start.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author


          Let’s stipulate two things here before I go any further:

          1. Correlation is not causation.

          2. Quid pro quos are very, very, very hard to prove.

          But, COME ON, MAN. It is literally impossible to look at those two paragraphs and not raise your eyebrows. Half of all of the nongovernmental people Clinton either met with or spoke to on the phone during her four years at the State Department were donors to the Clinton Foundation! HALF.

          CAPS are Cilizza’s.

          1. Jim Haygood

            He also wrote:

            “What’s remarkable to me is that no one — not Clinton, not her most loyal lieutenant, Huma Abedin, not Bill Clinton — saw the possible appearance of a conflict of interest inherent in this setup.”

            This is the essence of sociopathy — no concept of right and wrong, as applied to their own actions.

            Lacking any concept of wrongdoing, the Clintons can neither perceive how their compromised behavior appears to others, nor interpret legitimate criticism as anything other than a self-serving attack by opponents with unscrupulous motives.

        2. PhilU

          No one is alleging that the Clinton Foundation didn’t (and doesn’t) do enormous amounts of good around the world. It does. (That’s for you, my dearest Twitter haters.)


          1. Jim Haygood

            Whoa, that is one devastating takedown.

            “Unhealthier Generation — illustrates the twisted relationship between the main Clinton Foundation and the theoretically anti-obesity Alliance for a Healthier Generation that is in reality, writing up agreements to guarantee our kids get to go to either a Pepsi, or a Coke, school.”

            1. voteforno6

              That’s only half the story, I think. We really need some of these news organizations to chase the money down. Preferably with cameras in tow. It’s one thing to write a blog post about documentation problems. If in fact the Foundation is a huge scam, the only way for that to break through to a large number of people is if it can be put in picture form.

              1. relstprof

                It really puts into relief the structural compliance within the so-called “fourth estate”.

                Is this polarization? Fear of reprisal? If money still talks, you’d think there would be plenty of young journos hoping for a smoking gun on the Clinton Foundation. Sell some print, or some clicks.

                Frankly, the same with Trump. We can’t figure out his financials? Really?

                What are journalism schools teaching these days?

  7. neo-realist

    Re the WSJ article on Corporate elites betting on autonomous driving systems to solve the problem, we in Seattle have a non profit think tank led by our former blue dog Governor Gregoire (who couldn’t lift a finger to get light rail done for our region) called Challenge Seattle—a collection of regional Corporate elites who want to solve our area’s transportation problems through a combination of creating “smarter roads”, “intelligent highway solutions”, self driving cars, car sharing and amorphous aims of getting citizens involved in the planning process and better coordinated planning along with using emerging technologies to solve our transportation problems. Not a damn thing about building more light rail or subways. All the same as far as elites using technological solutions to potentially extract public resources for personal gain and convenience. Anything the elites can do to reduce the traffic for their self driving cars for they wouldn’t dare lower themselves to riding light rail w/ the rabble.


    1. Peter Pan

      Gregoire is a big believer in the neoliberal public-private model of getting things done….for big corporations.

  8. Cynthia

    Most Americans really don’t care if the price for ObamaCare goes through the roof. That’s because very few Americans have ObamaCare. And of those few, an even smaller number of them actually pay for ObamaCare out of their own pocket. Most, upwards of 80%, of them receive a sizable federal subsidy to pay for ObamaCare. And when premiums go up, people with subsidized ObamaCare won’t see their portion in premiums go up. The federal governments picks up the tab for any increase in premiums. Only people who pay for ObamaCare out of their own pocket are hit with higher premiums.

    Now I hear that insurers are trying to sue hospitals and other providers for helping patients with Medicaid switch to ObamaCare (see link below). Hospitals are doing this because ObamaCare reimburses at a much higher rate than Medicaid does. Evidently, insurers don’t like this because they make a lot more money off of Medicaid patients than they do ObamaCare patients.

    I doubt that it’s illegal for hospitals to sign Medicaid-eligible patients up for ObamaCare, or to even switch existing-Medicaid patients to ObamaCare. But it might be illegal for hospitals to pay their premiums, something which they are doing, been doing. Even if their portion in premiums are very small, thanks to subsidized ObamaCare, most patients are reluctant to pay even that. But I don’t blame them. Why should anyone pay for something when they know that someone else will pay for it? Patients understand perfectly well that hospitals have a lot more to gain than they do by having their medical bills covered by ObamaCare than by Medicaid.

    And as I have mentioned before, the Obama Administration has created some sort of rainy day fund to pay hospitals for unpaid co-pays and deductibles. Since the Obama administration has created this fund without approval from Congress, it is being challenged in court (see second link below.) Obviously, hospitals have the most to gain if the courts rule in the Administration’s favor. Come to think of it, ObamaCare has been even more favorable to providers than it’s been to insurers. Providers get Uncle Obama to pay for their unpaid medical bills, then Uncle Sam looks the other way as they consolidate like mad! Neither case can be said about insurers.



  9. Jim Hannan

    The Clinton Foundation has lots of supporters, and the Foundation appears to do good work.
    On the other hand, the Mercer family, especially Robert and Rebekah, are giving millions of dollars to support Donald Trump. If Trump wins, the Republicans will eliminate the estate tax. That is going to be worth billions to Rebekah Mercer.
    Isn’t that the ultimate in pay to play?

    1. nippersmom

      What is all this “good work” the Clinton Foundation “appears” to do? Everything I’ve seen suggests promises with little to no follow-through and extraordinarily high administrative and “overhead” costs. If you have evidence to the contrary I’d love to see it.

      This is what Charity Navigator has to say about it :
      We had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity’s atypical business model can not be accurately captured in our current rating methodology. Our removal of The Clinton Foundation from our site is neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of this charity. We reserve the right to reinstate a rating for The Clinton Foundation as soon as we identify a rating methodology that appropriately captures its business model.

      Not a condemnation by them, but I’m curious as to what kind of “business model” precludes being able to be rated by the most well-known charity evaluator.

      1. Jim Haygood

        “this charity’s atypical business model can not be accurately captured in our current rating methodology”

        Translation: a couple of guys with visible pistol bulges under their jackets came in and asked whether our fire insurance was up to date.

      2. timbers

        In order for Mercer to “pay to play” equal to what we know Clinton to have done while Secretary of State, Mercer would have to donate millions to for example The Trump Foundation while Trump runs a powerful government position with business before the agency that directly affects Mercer.

      3. Anonymous

        2009-2012: Clinton Foundation Spent Only 15% on Charitable Grants; Only 10% in 2013


        CharityWatch says even a “minimally efficient” foundation spends 60 percent of its budget on programs. In the years 2009-2012, the Clinton Foundation devoted just 15 percent to charitable grants, according to an analysis of IRS filings by The Federalist. That fell to 10 percent in 2013.

        Forty-five percent was spent on salaries, perks and travel for staff.

        Some senior staffers have more experience in politics than in charity work. Sidney Blumenthal was on the Clinton Foundation payroll while he was running a private intelligence service for Ms. Clinton.

    2. ggm

      You are comparing an arm of the Clinton political bribe laundry machine to Trump campaign donations. Clinton’s campaign takes in hundreds of millions in donations from wealthy people with special interests, too. In addition to the hundreds of millions from foreign governments and corporations that were pumped into the Clinton Foundation slush fund, apparently in exchange for access and favors, including weapons sales.

      The hedge funds donating to Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be asking for special tax cuts and more favorable regulations. The banks that have paid Hillary millions in speaking fees will have their hands out, too, asking her to let them ride roughshod over consumers. Her corporate sponsors will want to be allowed to pollute, cut wages and benefits, add barriers to competition.

      So, to answer your question: No. I think it’s pretty obvious Trump and the Mercer family are coming up short in the play to play competition so far.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > and the Foundation appears to do good work

      Well, a reputational laundry has to buy some soap, and be percieved as using it.

      That said, how much good work there might be is seriously open to question; see this from a non-profit executive (linked to back in July):

      It should be obvious to anyone working in a middle-management position or above with any real charitable organization who spends about 10 minutes reviewing the Clinton Foundation’s own website and documents, that the organization does little to nothing with measurable outcomes or deliverables. Its reported revenues are wildly at variance with what it says it does. The organization is about the same revenue or budget size as the March of Dimes, which has a 2-star out of 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Clinton Foundation? UNRATED by Charity Navigator. In other words they would be NO STAR if Charity Navigator could rate them by its criteria that apply to all other charitable organizations.

      With many, many links.

      1. PhilU

        She has been churning out tons of them too, this is the latest. I’ve been tweeting it to reporters who talk about the foundation hoping one picks it up.
        LOL nowhere beat me by a minute.

  10. inode_buddha

    Wow, story on slashdot is that CNN is reporting that the NYT says it was hacked by….. Russians! They really love their red-baiting don’t they? Makes you wonder what they’re trying to distract everyone from…. prolly another leak. Meanwhile, NYT will neither confirm nor deny, and the FBI has no comment. But its being spread all over the place like peanut butter. It’s almost like there’s a collusion or something!

    1. Skip Intro

      There is evidence that the Putin and his hacker-minions have had partial control of the NYT’s IT systems for several years, and replaced the columns of the Tom Friedman with algorithmically generated nonsense meant to discredit the mighty mustache and indeed, the paper itself. That has obviously been a massive failure, and has reflected rather poorly on Russia’s hacking abilities. This latest report is probably a smokescreen by Russia to hide the ongoing hack.

  11. Rojo

    Re: the “big problem” poll, why the gulf between white and black on immigration? I’m not sure I have a theory, “just so” or otherwise.

  12. Steve

    “I don’t see how “fully autonomous driving systems” happen without (a) major infrastructural changes, like painting lines on the roads and eliminating potholes and stuff like snow and ice”

    Lambert, what you’re saying is we won’t have autonomous driving systems in Maine. Even if we had better (some?) paint on the roads, the potholes alone would seriously erode profits.

    Big seller in California, I bet.

    1. Optimader

      Mostly a ruse in the sense of an Overton window. Condition the public conceptually, then introduce over the road “driverless” truck trains–multiple trucks following a lead truck w/ a single on human attendant eating grilled cheese sandwiches.
      Interstatehighways can be naintained in a manner where it will be feasible, with tineouts fir severe weather conditions.
      Urban passenengrr cars, i doubt in my lifetime
      Too many exogenous variables of life.

    2. mk

      Beverly Hills to buy a fleet of driverless cars, but first:

      The program is still very much in the early stages, but the City Council said in a press statement that they are already working to develop the infrastructure to support autonomous vehicles.

      According to a Beverly Hills press statement, the city is currently designing a citywide network of fiber optics cables, which will help smart cars communicate while on the road.


      1. Dave

        Are the cars smart enough to throw themselves into reverse when con artists throw themselves onto the hood and sue the city? How about drivers who throw their car in reverse and get “rear ended”? It’s quite easy to put a switch on your back up lights to turn them off.

        Remember, the Ten Commandments do not apply to big corporations, especially those that destroy jobs.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          How are those self-driving cars programmed to handle swarms of Zika carrying mosquitoes?

          Or still flying would-be-windshield bugs? “Slow down and yield?” Wait…I think they are extinct due to the widespread use of pesticides.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think Beverly Hills would be great if domed – no one will get wet when the next Pacific winter storm hits.

    3. crittermom

      Self-driving cars and rigs, controlled by computers?
      All computers are named F.R.E.D., aren’t they? (Freakin’ Ridiculous Electronic Device)
      No, thanks. I get upset enough when my computer crashes.

  13. Ché Pasa

    No gridlock if Hillary governs as a Republican, which she has signaled loud and clear she has every intention of doing. Of course they’ll impeach her for the spectacle, but she and a Republican House will get along just fine. Much better than Obama got along with them.

    The last thing a President Hillary wants is a Dem House. The horror.

    Meanwhile there could be gridlock — no matter which party controls the House and Senate — with President The Donald. Of course, he’d just rule by decree if Congress stymied his grand schemes and the Congress would let him. He being a billionaire and all. Bow down.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Yes, I’m not sure I get the logic of the preference for gridlock. Is the Grand Bargain more likely with a Dem landslide than HRC + rightwing congress? I don’t see it. Not that I expect much good from a Dem landslide. But it seems the best of bad options.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think a Grand Bargain is much more likely, as well as TPP (if Obama blows it) and a war (because Clinton likes that). And even if the Establishment Republicans have gone all squishy and Clintonian, that may not hold, and in any case, the non-Establishment Republicans will have a lot more leverage.

        To put this another way, a Dem landslide lets Clinton do whatever she wants. Do we really want that (sharpening contradiction ideas aside), when Clinton has already heaved the left over the side?

        1. voteforno6

          That depends. She’ll come running back to the left, if she gets in trouble. If there’s one safe prediction that we can make is that one of the Clintons will get in trouble, again. If it happens early on in her administration, there will be a heavy price that she would have to pay for the left’s support.

          1. hunkerdown

            So? Most of the left knows their game already, and that everything and anything she promises will only be delivered if it’s “profitable” for elites (i.e. impoverishes commoners on a relative basis). There is simply no left beard for them anymore.

              1. hunkerdown

                …so, more likely she’d go to her ideological brothers from another mother for support — and really, what useful support is there to be had from the left when the left isn’t even inside and has already withheld their vote with ongoing intent? — than the fleas people she and those who eventually came to head the Party have been trying to swat and/or shake off for the past two decades or more, with as much fake screaming as is necessary to convince the rubes it’s not an act. Business Shall Be Done.

          2. polecat

            Not if the BIG NEWS forest continues to grow and surround her …….


            You’ll never hear of it………

            …and CONgress or the Judiciary won’t do jack shit about it either !

            That’s how far we’ve fallen as a nation……

        2. Left in Wisconsin

          There are no good options. But I don’t see the Repubs turning down a Grand Bargain (or a war or a TPP) that their benefactors want out of Clinton hatred.

          At best, we may be in a pre-1968 moment where a nascent left begins to turn against war-mongering D Party. Starring Keith Ellison as George McGovern. With Elizabeth Warren as Bobby Kennedy.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            If there’s a Democrat landslide, these things are certain to happen. If there isn’t, they’re less likely. Being in a pre-1968 moment isn’t so bad, really. Especially since there aren’t more George Meanies…

      2. Anne

        It seems to me that the pattern is for the Dem president to begin by pre-loading into proposed legislation things Republicans have shown support for, and doing it in the mistaken belief that this would bring Republicans on board. Instead, Republicans would dig in their heels, resulting in more give from Democrats. The end result was the legislation Republicans wanted that passed with no Republican votes – a total win-win for the GOP. And not so much for Democrats.

        I have no reason to believe a President Clinton wouldn’t operate out of the same manual, especially because she is hell-bent to “get things done” and the kinds of things she wants to do are not things I want – and that is why I would prefer gridlock.

  14. Pat

    Ezekiel Emanuel (and his brother Rahm) have spent much of the last two decades fighting single payer. Watching him twist the facts of any situation regarding health care is like watching a master pretzel maker in action.

    I can tell you ten things right now that would be necessary to make ACA even remotely workable. Believe me they are not even close to the things that Emanuel would like to see happen. Not to mention that I’m sure he has no idea how to get any changes passed, including what are likely to be only cosmetic ones coming from him.

    1. nowhere

      It’s also home to the US Navies Fifth Fleet.

      In 2010, the Navy embarked on a five-year, $580-million project to expand the base, proposing to essentially double the size of the current 62-acre facility.

  15. Benedict@Large

    The Affordable Care Act is not in crisis — but it could be better [Ezekiel Emanuel & Topher Spiro, WaPo]

    Note that Ezekiel “Brother to Rahm of ObamaCare Fame” Emanuel has a rather different perspective of what is going on in the healthcare field (in which he is well-placed) than do the rest of us, which he put forth in an NYTimes op-ed several years back. [The End of Health Insurance Companies, Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Jeffrey B. Liebman, January 30, 2012] Ezekiel sees the giant health providers at war with the giant insurance providers in a battle which will end when either we are all getting our health care through a few surviving insurers, or we are all getting our health insurance through a few surviving health providers. Ezekiel of course believes the health providers will win this war, but it is interesting to see the view of a close insider that the problem is not about how all of us are going to keep our health, but rather which sector of Wall Street is going to end up with all the money.

    1. Cynthia

      Yes, the providers, so far, are winning the war. Insurers may have written the law, but providers are much better at gaming it. I arrived at that conclusion in my comment above.

      1. Benedict@Large

        Ezekiel omits one fact in his analysis; insurers are part of the REAL Wall Street troika, the medical providers are not. Big Hospital has never played the finances for finances sake alone game until recently. Big Insurance has been eating it for breakfast since the 70s.

        I’m putting my money on the insurers. :-)

  16. TarheelDem

    Very interesting that two copies of all those anti-Clinton screeds have shown up at my branch library that is too poor to get more than three or four new books a month. How does the NY Times Best Seller list handle subsidized purchases?

    Not sure that those wooly-worms denote a harsh winter.

    But the margin is much too close for anyone paying attention. Or maybe it is close because they are. Naw,,,couldn’t be. Too many people working long hours.

    1. JaaaaayCeeeee

      The Chinese have started bombing in Syria too, to help the Russians help Assad. The question is when do we get to say we are already in the WWIII contractors and hawks everywhere so desperately desire?

      1. abynormal

        Chinese bombing Syria…LINK PLEASE. i see NO confirmation of this act…

        2015 China on Friday backed a Security Council resolution that condemned Islamic State as “a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security” and called for efforts to “eradicate” its safe havens in Iraq and Syria.

        But while the country might provide some logistical support, it wouldn’t commit forces or back a proposal that undermined Assad’s government, said Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the London-based Royal United Services Institute. “I don’t really see this being much of an actual game-changer,” he said. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-22/china-pulled-further-into-syria-crisis-as-terrorism-threat-grows

        1. Andrew Watts

          Possibly. Or they could just see an opportunity for live-fire exercises in Syria. The Russians have made good use of their intervention. That’s gotta make some people jealous.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          No, China has no direct strategic interest in Syria – China does however see Islamic fundamentalism as an existential threat – they see the Uigar minority as potentially a source of major instability. Presumably they see an opportunity to make useful links in the region, help get rid of what they see as a future problem, and also get to sharpen their military knowledge. Its a relatively low risk way for them to extend their influence and potentially embarrass the US at the same time.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks. I think that’s too bad.

            The old one (one of the old ones, that is) ended in Palymra. That route also took the traveler close the Haran, where cone-shaped dwellings dating back to the time of Abraham’s journey from Ur still existed (maybe still do).

            That would have been a scenic commercial route.

      2. JaaaaayCeeeee

        My apology – I mistook a clickbait photo as bombing activity. I was completely wrong to comment that China is bombing in Syria.

        But China is becoming involved, with Iran and Russia, for Syria, at a new and more active level, upping its advisers and Chinese weapon trainers to be there routinely, according to the Irish Times:


        The question is still, at what point does all the proxy fighting amount to WWIII?

    2. Andrew Watts

      The situation has been resolved already. The regime-aligned NDF has been forced to withdraw from city of Hasakah according to the terms of a cease fire. Government buildings will be protected by the police from now on. Additionally, the Syrian officer who authorized the air strikes was rumored to be relieved of command and if that’s true he’ll likely face a court martial.

      At no point in all this was there ever a risk of a great power confrontation over Hasakah. The Syrian Arab Army didn’t even leave their base to engage YPG in the city. Nor did the Russians have any part of this outside of mediation attempts.

      But don’t let the truth get in the way of media hype or shrill propaganda. Suckers.

      War correspondent Elijah Magnier reported…

      I think it’s hilarious there are still people who take Magnier seriously nowadays. I enjoyed his epic twitter meltdown after the jihadis took over idlib though.

  17. JimTan

    Youtube has an advertisement for Otto Self-Driving Trucks which Uber recently purchased:


    Interestingly the ad features an autonomous truck driving on a highway with Zero nearby traffic.

    Mining companies have been using GPS guided driverless dump trucks for years, and I think more recently Deere has produced GPS self navigating farm equipment. These current systems allow an autonomous vehicle to navigate across GPS coordinates, and around “Stationary” obstacles. I don’t think we have a current technology to reliably navigate around “Moving” obstacles, especially fast moving ones like highway traffic. Even with the current crop of auto collision warning systems, I’m not sure I would trust a vehicle that’s automated to react reliably in three dimensions to multiple moving obstacles. Regarding reliability, just think of how many times your high tech smartphone locked or lagged a second or two in changing screen orientation when rotating the device. A second or two is all it takes for an auto accident.

    When driverless car technology is truly able to reliably navigate “Moving” obstacles manufacturers will be falling over themselves to demonstrate it to the world. We’re not there yet.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s why regulations and insurance is important. The owners of the autonomous vehicles need to be held harmless when they whack one of those “moving” obstacles. Their valuations depend on it!

      1. Mark John

        Amen. Automobiles fuel the individualism i.e narcissism in this country. Sometimes I walk around NYC and I can just think one word. . it starts with a “d”, ends with a double “s”, and has an “umba” in between.

      2. Synoia

        The who will be liable in an accident.

        Let us suppose two autonomous vehicle have a collision – which’s to blame?

        And please do not get on the topic of vendor controlled log files from the vehicles for analysis, because I personally do not trust the chain of custody of those logs. (My mistake, the venord of the vehicle would provide full and honest reporting).

        And VW does not cheat on emission tests.

        IThe logs they were held at the local DNV it would be better….

      3. Synoia

        And when two autonomous vehicles collide, both are held harmless, and bystanders are liable?

        Litigation Futures.

      4. Synoia

        And when two autonomous vehiles collide, both are held harmless but the bystanders are liable?

        Litigation Futures.

  18. JCC

    Regarding the gassing of Iranian soldiers by Iraq… when I went through basic training at the U.S. Army Chem, Bio, and Radiation HQ, Ft. McClellan, Aniston, AL. (they also had a Basic Training camp there), we all had to go through a brief couple of days on Gas Warfare basic training. Anyone who has served in the military is familiar with this; a group walks into a closed room wearing a heavy, non-pourous rubber suit (the D.I.’s always try to pick the hottest days, of course :). The D.I.s then set off 8 or 10 CS Gas cannisters, you put on your gas mask, then pull the gas mask off and cite your Three General Orders or whatever, then put it back on, leave the room, yank it off and quite possible spend the next few minutes puking.

    But since this was McClellan we got the added treat of getting a relatively rare visual demo of how important this training was/is. We got to watch about 20 minutes worth of various film shots of a few thousand Iranian soldiers getting gassed… with lots of close-up shots. I don’t have adequate words to describe what it looked like but it impressed, as it was meant to do. It is still the most gruesome, horrible “live action” film that I ever ever seen to this day.

    This was in 1982, so the Govt was well aware that this was going on before the time frame cited in the article… and every time I hear or remember the old Donald Rumsfeld joke, “We know Iraq has WMDs, I’ve got the receipts to prove it.”, I feel somewhat more than a little bit disgusted with the entire system.

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    Regarding: “Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s …” the quote from CounterPunch that McKibben wants to reform “fossil fuel industry … rather than the political economic system designed to exact, extract, and exploit resources” speaks directly to one of the shortfalls I see in much of the CounterPunch analysis — though I do see their point. [I think I said McKibben in a comment the other day when I meant to say MacPherson — sorry.] Many of the targets are progressives of various flavors and many of the writers for CounterPunch criticize their targets for not going far enough.

    There seems to be a belief among some at CounterPunch that “real” change will only come from barricades in the streets as if this were 1830s France or 1848 France. Any adjustments or small improvements are treated as measures which only serve to delay the inevitable changes in society. I have trouble equating muskets and barricades to the kind of counterrevolutionary forces our government has assembled. Much as I appreciate CounterPunch’s critiques those same critiques fall flat for me when they amount to calls for some kind of vaguely conceptualized revolution. I’ll happily settle for reforms and just as happily pass on leaving blood in the streets.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t know what “some” at Counterpunch might think. On the narrow point, I think the it’s accurate to critique McKibben’s conceptualization that the problem as an “industry” rather than the owners of that industry. On the larger point, yeah, I too get awfully irritated by vanguards riding on a smile and a shoeshine and no plan. It’s always possible to make things worse, after all.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The “some” at CounterPunch I was thinking about — Paul Street’s interview on CounterPunch radio and Joel Northam’s critique of Black Lives [http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/25/the-black-lives-matter-schism-towards-a-vision-for-black-autonomy/]. Both these authors seem unhappy when a movement deviates from “revolution”.

        I confess not reading the critique of McKibben that closely. I don’t believe anything will or can be done to turn the direction of our society until we reach a point of catastrophe. I’m growing fearful that could happen much too soon.

        I am troubled by the way leftists seem too willing to eat their own.

    2. jrs

      Capitalism may not be the only driver but it is a major accelerator of climate change. Reform would be nice if it were possible (it seems frankly no more possible than revolution and as fantastic a thing to hope for, except for minor actions like banning plastic bags at the local level).

    3. Waking Up

      “I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
      -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
      “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
      April 16, 1963

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