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2:00PM Water Cooler 8/30/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Matthias Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, tweeted that his government demanded negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) should cease” [Defend Democracy]. “In a speech to French ambassadors, [French President Francois] Hollande said: ‘The negotiations are bogged down, positions have not been respected, it’s clearly unbalanced.’ He said he would withhold support from any agreement reached before the end of Barack Obama’s presidency in January.”

“[Japanese Prime Minister] Abe has a lot at stake in the TPP, and I think will really have to go back to the drawing board if it doesn’t move forward,’ Eric Altbach, a senior vice president at the Albright Stonebridge Group, told reporters at a roundtable discussion hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who co-chairs the policy advisory group” [Politico]. “‘Japan has frequently relied on ‘gaiatsu’, foreign pressure, to make difficult decisions on domestic reform,’ the former deputy assistant USTR for China affairs said. ‘The provisions of the TPP itself are an important way for Japan to make some changes at home, as well as to create more market access among the other TPP member economies.'” I don’t know enough about Abe’s “reforms” to know what the typical Japanese would think of them, but I have seen the neoliberal “reform” movie several times. It doesn’t end well.

“‘For members like Vietnam and Malaysia, some of the reforms included in the TPP are changes that the countries’ administrations want to implement, added Meredith Miller, a vice president at the group who focuses on Southeast Asia. Those countries looked to TPP ‘as a vehicle for necessitating those to be pushed through, particularly when it comes to state-owned enterprise reform,’ she said. “‘I think those may progress in the future whether or not TPP moves forward,’ she said, ‘but they’ll probably happen at a slower pace.” [Politico]. Same argument deployed above, in different countries. Why is it important for this country to help out other country’s elites, especially when they want to privatize?



“Charity Watch and Clinton Foundation” [Amy Sterling Casil]. A new post.

“Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot” [Counterpunch]. “What the Clinton Foundation hullabaloo really demonstrates is that Clinton’s will to power is single-minded, entirely simpatico with the corruption of the military-industrial-financial-surveillance complex; that she is a handmaiden for, and member of, the ruling establishment; that Clinton represents the marriage of all the worst aspects of the political class. In short, Clinton is more than just corrupt, she is corruption personified.

UPDATE Missed this one: “ Structurally unsafe and laced with formaldehyde, the “hurricane-proof” classroom trailers installed by the Clinton Foundation in Haiti came from the same company being sued for sickening Hurricane Katrina victims” [The Nation (2011)]. Dear Lord. Mistakes were made?

UPDATE “A wiser course would be to ban contributions from foreign and corporate entities now. If Mrs. Clinton wins, Bill and Chelsea Clinton should both end their operational involvement in the foundation and its affiliates for the duration of her presidency, relinquishing any control over spending, hiring and board appointments” [Editorial Board, New York]. “I’ve leaving the money on the dresser. It’s in a white envelope, and I wrote the date you can open it on the outside.” And so what if the date is four years from now? Lots of investments take time to pay off. From the Department of How Stupid Do They Think We Are?


“Sanders will raise money, campaign for Senate candidates, but won’t turn over donor list to DSCC’ [Roll Call]. “If Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November, Democrats need to win a net of four Senate seats to take control of the legislative body. That number increases to five if Donald Trump wins, though most party strategists concede that they have almost no hope of winning the Senate should Clinton lose. Sanders’s assistance on the campaign trail, including to most centrist Democrats, should have been anticipated, those close to the senator say. Even incremental progress toward his progressive agenda would be blocked by a Republican-controlled Congress, they say, and the vacancy on the Supreme Court makes control of the Senate especially important. “Anybody who’s surprised by this doesn’t have any right to be surprised, frankly,” one source close to the senator said.”

The Voters

“Clinton Weaknesses Spotlighted in New Poll” [Bloomberg]. OH, PA, MI.

“Clinton shouldn’t get too complacent. After mixed evidence before, it’s become clearer, at least according to our forecast models, that Donald Trump has regained some ground on her. Clinton’s national lead in our polls-only forecast has gone from a peak of about 8.5 percentage points two weeks ago to 6.5 percentage points as of Sunday evening — that is, a 2-point gain for Trump over two weeks. Correspondingly, Trump’s chances of winning the election have improved from a low of 11 percent to 19 percent” [FiveThirtyEight]. Trump recently spent $10 million on an ad; a drop in the bucket compared to Clinton spending. Events, dear boy, events.

“The Story of 2016: Republicans Feeling “Betrayed” by Their Leaders” [National Journal]. From Re­pub­lic­an poll­ster Neil Ne­w­house before the Kan­sas City Cham­ber of Com­merce.

On the left side of the page was a com­pil­a­tion of res­ults from 2016 NBC News exit polls of Re­pub­lic­an primar­ies in 17 states to the ques­tion, “Would you say you feel be­trayed by politi­cians from the Re­pub­lic­an Party?” The 17 states were ranked by their “yes, feel be­trayed” re­sponses: Neb­raska (63 per­cent), Flor­ida (60 per­cent), Pennsylvania (59 per­cent), Mis­souri (59 per­cent), Ten­ness­ee (58 per­cent), Michigan (58 per­cent), North Car­o­lina (56 per­cent), Geor­gia (54 per­cent), Ohio (54 per­cent), Arkan­sas (53 per­cent), Vir­gin­ia (53 per­cent), Wis­con­sin (52 per­cent), South Car­o­lina (52 per­cent), Alabama (51 per­cent), In­di­ana (50 per­cent), Illinois (50 per­cent), and West Vir­gin­ia (48 per­cent).


“Can Trump Win Without a Ground Game?” [Slate (RH)]. “f you’re trying to mobilize nonvoters, giving them more information about the candidates or the parties or the issues or the consequences of the election doesn’t dramatically affect their likelihood of voting. Voting is a habit. Nonvoting is also a habit. The things that turn nonvoters into voters tend to be things that change the social dynamic around voting. They’re often in their way rather intimate. Somebody from your neighborhood coming up and having a real conversation with you.” Very interesting on the nuts and bolts.

“Republican Donald Trump has said he isn’t interested in running a traditional presidential campaign. Campaign-finance records show he’s not: Half of the campaign’s 10 highest-paid consultants over the course of the election had never previously worked for a presidential campaign” [Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump’s Unorthodoxy Extends to Spending”].

“FBI says foreign hackers penetrated state election systems [Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News]. Arizona and Illinois.

“Voter Records Get Hacked a Lot, And You Can Just Buy Them Anyway” [Motherboard].

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “Brian Fallon, Mrs. Clinton’s press secretary, told me that Mrs. Clinton ‘has answered no shortage of questions” in some 350 interviews, ‘on nearly every possible topic'” [New York Times]. “In a review of her 350 interviews, National Public Radio determined that 65 were with nonjournalists like Mayor Philip Levine of Miami Beach, Fla., a fellow Democrat, and an FM radio host in Detroit who ran through her astrological chart; 101 involved national news networks; 80 were with local television stations; and more than 100 were with local radio. Interviews with reporters who cover her day in and day out — that is, those who know her and the issues surrounding her campaign the best — were rare.” That’s odd.


“I don’t know for sure whether Pelosi knew Steve Israel is a virulent racist when she appointed him DCCC chair. I’m told the appointment was just about 3 things: Israel could raise a lot of dirty Wall Street money without any feelings of guilt; Israel’s only rival for the job was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who Pelosi detests and doesn’t trust; and Pelosi knew Israel would be loyal” [Down with Tyranny]. “As DCCC chair Israel didn’t cotton to the idea of black politicians running in non-black majority districts. … That’s Steve Israel– and that’sNancy Pelosi and, I’m afraid, that’s the Democratic Party– denouncing Trump’s racism out of one side of it’s mouth, while enabling a racist pig like Steve Israel to destroy the careers of promising African-American politicians.” You can’t imagine how sick I am of Democrat virtue signalling on racism.

UPDATE “Meg Whitman to campaign for Clinton in Denver” [Politico]. “The California Republican will be Clinton’s first aisle-crossing supporter to go on the trail for her.”

Clinton Email Hairball

UPDATE “FBI to release report on Hillary Clinton email investigation as soon as Wednesday” [CNN]. What fun. And: “The release is in response to numerous FOIA requests including from CNN. Also to be released is Hillary Clinton’s 302, the FBI agent notes from Clinton’s voluntary interview at FBI headquarters. The report is about 30 pages, and the 302 is about a dozen pages according to the officials.” Do notice that one effect of Clinton having privatized her email is that she’s immuninized herself from FOIA requests, at least for the email about “yoga lessons” and “Chelsea’s wedding” that she nuked (we think (and that no foreign government (or US intelligence service has (we think)))).

Stats Watch

S&P Case-Shiller HPI, June 2016: Add Case-Shiller to the list of home-price data that are slipping. The 20-city adjusted index fell 0.1 percent in data for June for the third straight negative score.” [Econoday]. “The slowing has its positive side for California where prior gains were raising talk of a possible bubble. But over speculation doesn’t seem to be a risk right now as prices for existing homes ease.” And: “Recently, there has been an almost insignificant slowing of the Case Shiller HPI year-over-year growth. Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I see this a situation of supply and demand” [Econintersect]. And: ” It has been almost ten years since the bubble peak. In the Case-Shiller release this morning, the National Index was reported as being 2.6% below the bubble peak. However, in real terms, the National index is still about 17.0% below the bubble peak” [Calculated Risk]. Note the distribution: “Among the top performing metros, home prices are around 50% above their 2006 peaks, while among struggling metro areas, home prices remain nearly 45% below their peaks at the same time. Given that, an average of around 1% or so below the break-even line seems about right” [24/7 Wall Street].

State Street Investor Confidence Index, August 2016: ” The State Street Investor Confidence Index dropped to 89.7 in August, falling a sharp 8.3 points after July’s similarly steep 7.7 decline as the risk appetite of global institutional investors, measured by their increase or decrease of exposure to equities, plummeted to the lowest level since March 2013″ [Econoday]. “The decline in sentiment was led by the North American institutional investors… State Street attributed the decline to a poorer than expected earnings season, which clearly took the wind out investors’ sails. The plunge deeper below the neutral 100 risk reading shows North American and European institutional investors do not share the prevailing risk-on attitude of the overall market in August, where all time historical highs were posted in the DJIA and the European indexes are rallying. Among institutional investors, only the Asian sub-index remains slightly tilted towards increasing exposure to equities, perhaps reflecting improvement in the outlook for the recovery in China.”

Consumer Confidence, August 2016 (preliminary): “As goes the consumer so goes the U.S. economy. And the news has been mostly good and includes a nearly 4-1/2 point jump in the consumer confidence index to a 101.1 level for August that easily exceeds Econoday’s high estimate” [Econoday]. “[T]his report in sum is definitely a positive for the economic outlook and ultimately reflects the strength of the labor market.” And: Above expecations (charts) [Econintersect].

Personal Income and Outlays (yesterday): “In line with expectations as real disposable income growth remains at or below ‘stall speed’, as per the charts. And the total growth of that measure of income since the 2008 peak remains very low. On the consumption side, the mini jump in auto sales provided the (small) boost for the month, though down year over year, and auto sales forecasts for August are all pointing to a resumption of weakness” [Mosler Economics].

Housing: “Home prices have been moving steadily up for a few years now and typically when prices start moving up and inventory is tight, builders get building even if this means converting apartments into condos in areas where NIMBYism rules the day. That is simply not the case this time around (not in mass and only now does it seem like building is accelerating). Builders look at demographics and realize that renting is going to be the bigger trend moving forward” [Dr. Housing Bubble].

Supply Chain: “Economists say subdued activity on the docks is a sign of how retailers are slimming down their supply chains as more of their customers shop online. Companies such as Target Corp. , Lowe’s Cos. and J.C. Penney Inc. are pivoting away from maintaining stores brimming with merchandise. Instead, they are housing more goods in warehouses where they can quickly ship to stores or fulfill online orders” [Wall Street Journal, “At Ports, a Sign of Altered Supply Chains “]. “Economists say subdued activity on the docks is a sign of how retailers are slimming down their supply chains as more of their customers shop online. Companies such as Target Corp. , Lowe’s Cos. and J.C. Penney Inc. are pivoting away from maintaining stores brimming with merchandise. Instead, they are housing more goods in warehouses where they can quickly ship to stores or fulfill online orders. It is a shift that has caught the transportation sector off guard. Ports from New York to Georgia to California have spent billions of dollars to upgrade equipment and deepen harbors to handle an expected flood of imports that has yet to materialize. Shipping lines are scrapping vessels and cutting back service on unprofitable routes. Trucking companies bought tens of thousands of new big rigs as recently as 2015, many of which sit idle today.”

Shipping: “Shanghai International Port Group, the main operator of the world’s busiest container port, reported a decline in both profit and port throughput for the first half of 2016, amid a sluggish global economy and the shipping market downturn” [Lloyd’s List].

The Bezzle: “Since the pound plummeted 12 percent after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, lawyers say they have been inundated with inquiries from companies that claim they were cajoled into buying similar esoteric products. The concerns come as British firms are already bracing for economic headwinds likely to accompany a future outside the European Union” [Across the Curve].

The Bezzle: “The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to publish a new rule in order to accommodate foreign startups. Entitled the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), this will allow foreign entrepreneurs to gain easier entry into the country” [VentureBurn]. Dear Lord.

The Bezzle: “The two-year-old currency Monero has more than quadrupled this month after gaining support from prominent websites that anonymously peddle drugs. It spiked to as much as $10 on Sunday after AlphaBay, one of the most popular sites for buying drugs like liquid LSD and hybrid cannabis, said last week it will begin accepting the currency on Sept. 1. The total value of all Monero in circulation pushed past $100 million on Monday, up from about $25 million at the end of last month, according to” [Bloomberg].

Honey for the Bears, Hotels Edition: “As the weeks move on, [hotel] occupancy continues to be negative as it has for most of the year. Recent numbers show a decline of 1.5%, and revenue per available room continues well below the levels projected by all the pundits at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit and the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference” [Hotel News Now]. “It is surely not the “Golden Age,” nor the sweet spot for hotels espoused by many. It is about time everyone admitted the reality that the hotel industry peaked in 2015. Although RevPAR is up a little, inflation for items not including energy and food is up 2.2%, so real RevPAR is barely up at all. Just as important, net revenue after online travel agency fees and other commissions is down to 82.8% from 83.2%.”

However, here is the real data point that matters: Personal income tax collections are flat, not up, despite job gains. That means that many of the new jobs are minimum-wage, or low-income and part-time. So less payroll and income tax is being collected. In short, workers are not getting ahead overall. Many jobs pay too little to really matter to hotels. Those people are not taking vacations, nor do they travel on business. Spending overall is not advancing much.

Political Risk: “Vista Outdoor Inc., which makes outdoor sports products including sporting firearms and ammunition, is expected to benefit if Hillary Clinton is elected president, analysts wrote in a research note. Why? Because her win presumably would spark demand for ammunition” [MarketWatch].

Political Risk: “‘The market appears to have decided not only that [Hillary] Clinton will win, but that it won’t be close,’ David Woo, a strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in a report distributed Monday. ‘Investors like landslide victories'” [MarketWatch].

“How Much Does a Boeing 787 Cost? The Same as Last Year” [24/7 Wall Street]. “Boeing is certainly not going to fool any prospective customers by maintaining its jet prices at last year’s levels. The move simply acknowledges the reality that the market is soft, orders are scarce and raising prices is without doubt an exercise in futility because no one is going to use a higher price as a negotiation starting point, much less pay the higher price.”

“The Chinese Government Just Launched A Competitor To GE’s Most Profitable Division” [Seeking Alpha]. Jet engines.

Marketing: “And yet, despite its effectiveness, the jingle has become a relic of the mid-20th-century commercials it once dominated” [The Atlantic]. Probably time for a retro reboot, then.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 65, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 26 at 12:04pm.


“But what sets [the tiny city of Barcelos] apart from countless other small jungle outposts in the Amazon basin is that Barcelos has, for the past 50 years or more, been the epicenter of a unique trade—harvesting millions of colorful tropical fish destined not for the local food markets but for home aquariums the world over” [Atlas Obcura]. What could go wrong?

“The state of California has taken another step towards blocking construction or expansion of coal export terminals by banning state transportation funding for such projects” [Splash247]. “In June Oakland City Council voted to reject a plan to use a proposed new terminal for shipping coal from Utah to markets in Asia.”

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Invisible Inequality: The Two Americas of Military Sacrifice” [SSRN].

Through a series of empirical investigations — including analysis of over 500,000 American combat casualties from World War II through Iraq and Afghanistan — we show in this Article that there is growing socioeconomic inequality in military sacrifice and that the relative invisibility of this inequality has major political ramifications. Today, unlike in World War II, the Americans who die or are wounded in war are disproportionately coming from poorer parts of the country. We argue that these Two Americas of military sacrifice constitute invisible inequality because the issue is routinely overlooked by scholars, policymakers, and the public.

Merely speculating, but I would bet that the AIDs-level working class excess deaths that Case Deaton show for working class whites is powerfully correlated to “socioeconomic inequality in military sacrifice.” After all, for many, a military career is the only way out. But I would imagine that for warmongering liberal goodthinkers like Clinton, Albright, Nuland, Flournoy, it’s perfectly OK to use the white working class as cannon fodder. After all, they’re all racist, right?

UPDATE “The 7-year-old economic recovery has not been kind to the American public education system. In May 2008, as the Great Recession was just beginning, U.S. school departments employed 8.4 million teachers and other workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This past May, they employed just 8.2 million — despite public-school enrollments that the Department of Education estimated have risen by more than 1 million students during the same period. Student-teacher ratios are as high as they’ve been since the late 1990s, though they’re still well below their levels of the 1980s and most of the 1990s” [FiveThirtyEight]. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature. I think we need more charters.

“What is the Inside Outside Strategy?” [Counterpunch].

News of the Wired

“‘Our brains are horrible at arithmetic. Our implicit computations are so much better than our explicit computations,’ Norman said” [Eurekalert]. Interesting analogy: “‘When I try to cross the street, I’m not actually analyzing every bit of the scene,’ said Yael Niv, an associate professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI) who co-authored the study. ‘I’m constructing a narrative that I base my decision on, such as, ‘That car is slowing down because of the red light.”” Hmm. An automotive metaphor. Speculating freely, the field is getting funding from the self-driving car crowd?

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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 (KS):



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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. JohnnyGL

    A couple of good links I spotted….

    Nice story of forest building by more-or-less one person trying to salvage a river island from erosion in north east India. For those inclined to gardening and soil building, note that he made the effort to bring worms, termites, and ants and animal manure.

    Good piece on Brad Lancaster’s work in Arizona to harvest rainwater. Lengthy video, too!

  2. fresno dan

    “How Much Does a Boeing 787 Cost? The Same as Last Year” [24/7 Wall Street]. “Boeing is certainly not going to fool any prospective customers by maintaining its jet prices at last year’s levels. The move simply acknowledges the reality that the market is soft, orders are scarce and raising prices is without doubt an exercise in futility because no one is going to use a higher price as a negotiation starting point, much less pay the higher price.”

    No inflation in flatscreen TV’s and 787’s…..that’s special.
    Now, if only my health insurance, and/or the co-pays, the adjusted co-pays, the amended adjusted co-pays, the surcharges, and the adjusted surcharges were still the same price as last year….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The local waste management is charging more (must be due to cheaper gas).

      And apparently, you can’t anymore get a subsidized smartphone from AT&T with a signed plan. Now, you pay full price. But that’s not inflation. That’s ‘price-justice’ – you damaged it, but now, it’s back to normal.

      Also, for cleaner air – i.e. living closer to the ocean, for those in Southern California – the price is much, much higher.

    2. Carolinian

      The TV I bought last Christmas cost 20 percent of the price of the flatscreen TV I bought several years ago. Both were made in China. The new one uses a fraction of the power and has a better picture. Given sufficient competition and within its own parameters capitalism does work. Of course it’s those parameters that are, in the larger social context, the problem.

      So no inflation in 787s and big deflation in televisions. It’s hard to see how TVs could get any cheaper. As for health care, that’s not even capitalism–just socialism for the politically connected.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will they go negative interest rate equivalent on consumption – pay you money to take a TV off their hands?

      2. Matt LaPointe

        And yet they continue to get cheaper every year. First the shift was from US to Japan to Korea (with the micro shifts to Chinese manufacturing) to now Chinese brands.

        With the exception of the highest of premium TV’s, they will be all Chinese brands in 5 years.

        The quality is getting better and better for Chinese brands and the price pressure is causing the Japanese and Korean brands to drop their own prices further until they can’t compete.

        4K TV’s are below where HD TV’s were just a year ago.

      3. Jagger

        big deflation in televisions

        I am a little surprised that the satellite and cable TV people aren’t giving away TVs yet. Like printers and ink, the money is in the monthly charges for content. If you don’t have a TV or a printer, there are no sales on content or ink and that is where the real money is.

    1. polecat

      yes ….. great image!

      I can spend blocks of time just sitting at eye level to the entrance to one of my Warre’ hives…watching the bees, from below, as they splay their hind legs coming in for a landing….like a biological version of a P-29
      ..They are just too cool for words!

  3. justanotherprogressive

    I love your water cooler stories but you missed a couple today. CNBC (CNBC? Actually doing journalism?) published a couple of good stories today that show how much the Clinton Foundation work was mixed up with Clinton’s Secretary of State work – even to conducting Clinton Foundation business inside the State Department (I know, one of those ethical things the Clintons’ ignore). Both of these are interesting reads:

  4. Steve H.

    – What’s more, participants’ accuracy didn’t suffer when choosing between two zones which were not the most likely overall, indicating that they could track the relative likelihood of all four zones. [Eurekalert]

    okay but

    – To find out where and how the brain tracks these probabilities, the team needed to coax their study participants to compare probabilities without thinking about actual numbers.

    but the point is the brain doesn’t think in probabilities, it makes decisions based on relative frequencies. I hoped this was a reporters error, but the title of the paper is ‘A Probability Distribution over Latent Causes, in the Orbitofrontal Cortex.’ urk. This gives a clue how to frame it in Bayesian, while this shows why it’s important. I think Tufte would agree.

    And by the way, each stimuli can be encoded to do this by just two memristors, one for n and one for the sum of trial outcomes. I’d say more but I haven’t got the probe working yet.

  5. justanotherprogressive

    I love your water cooler stories but I think you missed a couple of interesting articles today. CNBC (CNBC? Doing actual journalism? Who knew?) published two links that show how much Clinton Foundation work was mixed up with Clinton’s State Department work, even to the point of doing Clinton Foundation work inside the State Department Building.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m sure there are many hundreds, in fact thousands of links that I miss. Neither Water Cooler nor Links make any pretense to be exhaustive; we just try to be interesting.

      Which is why we always appreciate links from readers!

    2. clarky90

      It is easy to get lost, passionately, in a multiplicity of small issues. I remember my days on a hippy commune (almost 50 years ago) arguing over whether vegetarians could eat honey. (just for instance).

      (1) I am a SINGLE issue person. That issue is corruption (worldwide).

      (2) I sometimes think of a human body as a metaphor for society.

      (3) In my experience, a person riddled with cancer can be obsessed with minutia, everything other than the metastatic growth that is going to end their beautiful lives.

      (4) Metastatic cancer is diagnosed using a PET/CT scan. “The patient receives an intravenous injection of radioactive glucose, (most cancer cells are highly metabolic (loooove glucose) and rapidly synthesize the radioactive glucose). Information regarding the location of abnormal levels of radioactive glucose obtained from the whole-body PET/CT scan helps physicians effectively pinpoint the source of cancer and detect whether cancer is isolated to one specific area or has spread to other organs.”

      This is the Warburg Effect.
      , the most interesting bit of information about health I have, possibly, ever come across. (Do Not Eat Sugar!)

      (5) In my metaphor, massive amounts of unregulated money/cash/favors is the “radioactive glucose” that goes straight to the metastasizing corruption (cancer) that is destroying societies all over the Earth.

      (6) So, IMO, stop the corrupting flow of money (the rigged system) and save the World. There are a myriad of other issues with a cancer (hair is falling out, tired, joints ache, muscle wasting….), but stop the cancer (corruption) and everything else will get better.

      1. clarky90

        I believe that ending corruption is fairly simple. Empower and encourage law enforcement and the tax department to prosecute and imprison corrupt people. The laws against corruption are all in place, however, they are not being enforced.

        “Justitia or Lady Justice, the Roman goddess of Justice, is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Her attributes are a blindfold, a balance and a sword. She often appears as a pair with Prudentia, who holds a mirror and a snake.”

        1. clarky90

          Suppressing corruption will, in and of itself, help to protect the environment, reduce wealth inequality, promote the dissemination of honest/fair news reporting, honest academia, affordable and effective health care, peaceful international policy………. One Act (enforce the laws against fraud, bribery, coercion and corruption).

          All that needs to be done, is enforce existing laws!!! I am certain that the majority of law enforcement officers would love to do their jobs; Track down the big racketeers, and haul them before the Courts, no matter how many billions of dollars they are worth. It would be a lot more fun, and a lot safer than stopping speeders and petty drug crime. (Big Shot criminals go down on TV crime shows, but rarely in real life)

      2. justanotherprogressive

        Point taken, Clarky90, but that is an awfully big elephant you are trying to swallow all at once. As a former investigator, I know that when the elephant in the room is too big to take down in one stroke, you start pulling at strings and see where they lead. It is a truism that it is usually the small stuff that brings the system crashing down. Consider Watergate as an example.

  6. Pavel

    Re the email hairball: Judicial Watch has posted the questions they are asking HRC to answer under oath in writing (ha!) by September 29. A few sample questions below; they were allowed “25” by the judge but many of them are multiple questions. A lot of them seem very valid questions, though I doubt we’ll get many proper responses. A shame this wasn’t allowed on video!

    Describe the creation of the system, including who decided to create the system, the date it was decided to create the system, why it was created, who set it up, and when it became operational.

    Describe the creation of your email account, including who decided to create it, when it was created, why it was created, and, if you did not set up the account yourself, who set it up for you.
    When did you decide to use a email account to conduct official State Department business and whom did you consult in making this decision?

    Identify all communications in which you participated concerning or relating to your decision to use a email account to conduct official State Department business and, for each communication, identify the time, date, place, manner (e.g., in person, in writing, by telephone, or by electronic or other means), persons present or participating, and content of the communication.

    In a 60 Minutes interview aired on July 24, 2016, you stated that it was “recommended” you use a personal email account to conduct official State Department business. What recommendations were you given about using or not using a personal email account to conduct official State Department business, who made any such recommendations, and when were any such recommendations made?

    Were you ever advised, cautioned, or warned, was it ever suggested, or did you ever participate in any communication, conversation, or meeting in which it was discussed that your use of a email account to conduct official State Department business conflicted with or violated federal recordkeeping laws. For each instance in which you were so advised, cautioned or warned, in which such a suggestion was made, or in which such a discussion took place, identify the time, date, place, manner (e.g., in person, in writing, by telephone, or by electronic or other means), persons present or participating, and content of the advice, caution, warning, suggestion, or discussion.

    –Judicial Watch Submits Email Questions to Hillary Clinton – Written Answers, Under Oath, Due September 29

    One is tempted to say, “good luck with that”, Judicial Watch.

    On a related note, the AP reports that the FBI found 20 or 30 Benghazi emails among the thousands Hillary neglected to hand over. Between this and the Huma/Foundation email drip feed, anything might yet happen in the actual vote. I note that there are a higher number of “undecided” voters than usual at this point in a campaign.

    1. sleepy

      I practiced law during a previous life and know just how much BS is involved in answering written questions, all of which usually require extensive followups to glean anything of importance, hence the value of a live deposition. I gather that the judge in this matter will not put up with too much of the lawyerly evasiveness–hopefully anyway.

    2. JustAnObserver

      A prediction: In a damage containment move Huma Abedin will be thrown under a bus, politically speaking … probably need multiple buses for all the “hats” she wears.

      1. Roger Smith

        And in having so done to her, perhaps she will give us the direct connection to Clinton we need. I guess it depends how deep she is in and how much crap she is willing to take.

  7. Clive

    Re Japan, Abe and the TPP

    Couple of points, first being in respect of 外圧 (gaiatsu) which literally means “pressure from outside (of Japan)”. This is a factor but is used by the Japanese political class (which is basically the LDP) to propose “reforms” that are unpopular domestically but have a convenient donkey on which to pin the tail. This, suffice to say, fools no-one.

    Second, the Japanese TPP negotiating team said in no uncertain terms (uncharacteristic for the Japanese and when they do, on rare occasions, do this, you’d better believe them) that under no circumstances would Japan renegotiate, rewrite, tweak or in any way mess around with the draft TPP agreement text. This is actually a sensible stance; there are so many threads that make up the ugly TPP tapestry, once someone starts tugging on one, the whole thing unravels.

      1. Clive

        Titter ye not! There is! 泥縄 (doronawa) which has a proverbial use to mean “a twine which is only twisted once the thief has been caught”, in other words a measure taken in haste when it is too late. Having 20/20 hindsight in spotting something bad after the fact is the western equivalent. Which is all very appropriate if we’re talking about the TPP…

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Like the Dutch, mosterd na de maaltijd “mustard after the meal”.

          There’s not really a similar saying in French, strangely (or not).

          1. Adam Eran

            Maybe “l’esprit d’escalier” …. “Staircase wit” … all the things you should have said at dinner remembered as you’re climbing the stairs to the bedroom.

    1. Uahsenaa

      According to the Asahi Shinbun for the 31st, which just went online, an extraordinary session of the Diet has been called for Sept. 26 to discuss ratification of the TPP in addition to a number of other things. So, I guess we’ll find out then what’s up.

      But Clive is right. Abe’s statement after negotiations had concluded didn’t mince words at all, which if you’re not familiar with the circuitous nature of Japanese public discourse, is a remarkably strong statement.

      1. Steve C

        My Japanese sister in law recently said she never used to see rich and poor people in Japan. Now they’re common.

          1. Uahsenaa

            I always found that if I wanted to practice my Japanese, the homeless guys in central park in Nagoya were the best go to. They weren’t sheepish about talking to foreigners and they had the best stories. For the price of a few onigiri I learned all I ever needed to know about how Japan really works, especially the Japan no one ever wants to talk about, where homeless camps are cleared by local cops before expos, and everyone likes to pretend all the ordinary problems of fundamentally unequal societies don’t exist.

            1. Clive

              Yes I found this too. The impeccably behaved and ability to still be in possession of some personal pride (although there was definitely evidence of alcohol misuse) in the homeless I got to know in the otherwise frighteningly upscale Yokohama Minato Mirai 21 waterfront made a lasting and profound impression on me. Their dignity was simply beautiful, I can’t think of another word for it.

    2. Praedor

      The TPP (and all other trade agreements) are EASY to tweak: simply remove all the ISDS portions. Boom, that goes 90% of the distance in fixing what is wrong with them all. No long-term renegotiation required. X-out the the ISDS language and that’s the deal.

  8. Jim Hannan

    It appears that the donors to the Clinton Foundation are easily known, including the amounts. Also, the expenses of the Foundation are also detailed.
    The Koch brothers plan to spend $750 to $900 million in this year’s election. How much do we know about the revenue and expenses of their endeavor?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Maybe you can help me understand how a dark money operation run by reactionary squillionaries in some way justifies an influence peddling scheme run through a reputation laundry?

      1. jo6pac

        They might be really close.

        Koch bros pay little or no taxes.
        They received govt. tax breaks.
        They pay (bribe) govt. elected officials to stop solar energy/clean energy.
        They support alec to write laws to benefit them.
        The list goes on I’m sure.

      2. Anne

        We’ve arrived at “both sides do it” territory, I guess…next stop: “this is just the way these things work.”

        Oh, except the Clinton Foundation seems to have successfully bamboozled a lot of people into believing it saves millions of lives, when in fact, from what I read, it seems they do very little other than allow people to pay them for the privilege of access.

        The Clintons give “grifting” a bad name.

        1. timbers

          Agree with your point. Hillary broke the law and others not named Clinton are being vigorously prosecuted for far milder. Using the State Dept for personal enrichment is NOT both sides do it – it’s breaking new ground. It’s really gross if you thk abt it and it’s not the same as the Koch Bros example. Selling cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia so they can kill babies so you can grift for own personal benefit is quite aweful.

          1. Anne

            Agree it’s not the same, but we both know that the Clinton apologists and the media are forever finding equivalency where none exists.

            At this point, I have no idea why it is so hard for people to see that the Clintons don’t do anything that doesn’t ultimately benefit themselves. And they have no shame in packaging their influence-peddling operation as some sort of benevolent, life-saving organization in order to make themselves out to be icons of selfless public service.

            As much as the pharmaceutical companies don’t waste an opportunity to gouge the public, the Clintons never fail to take advantage of tragedy to line their own pockets and polish their public profile. And still, fewer people than ever find Hillary to be trustworthy and honest, so I guess they haven’t been as successful at their PR as they’d like.

            If there’s a better word than “despicable” I wish someone would tell me, because “despicable” is still too good to describe them.

            1. Buttinsky

              At this point, I have no idea why it is so hard for people to see that the Clintons don’t do anything that doesn’t ultimately benefit themselves.

              It’s been 24 years since the 1992 primary debate in which the dear, earnest, pathetic Jerry Brown accused Governor Bill Clinton of having allowed the state’s First Lady to engage in influence peddling down in Arkansas. Of course this dastardly enunciation of a plain fact merely gave Mr. Clinton the opening he’d been waiting for to puff out his chest and with husbandly valor stand up for the grievously maligned Mrs. Clinton.

              And here we still are, more than ever subjected day and night to the despicable audacity of these two despicable people. It doesn’t give you much faith in the power of the truth, does it?

              1. timbers

                Can you imagine what Hillary will with the WH as she at State?

                Perhaps we ain’t seen nuthin yet…

                I’ll think I’ll pull out my blu ray of The Grifters and watch it again.

            2. ewmayer

              If there’s a better word than “despicable”… — I was about to suggest “execrable” but decided to check the list of words my online Thesaurus gives as synonyms for that – take your pick:

              appalling, atrocious, lamentable, egregious, awful, dreadful, terrible; disgusting, deplorable, disgraceful, frightful, reprehensible, abhorrent, loathsome, odious, hateful, vile, abysmal, lousy, godawful.

              I note ‘despicable’ is not listed, so we can get more candidates by examining the listed synonyms for various words in these lists – your your original ‘despicable’ I see

              contemptible, loathsome, hateful, detestable, reprehensible, abhorrent, abominable, awful, heinous; odious, vile, low, mean, abject, shameful, ignominious, shabby, ignoble, disreputable, discreditable, unworthy; (informal) dirty, rotten, lowdown, lousy; beastly.

              1. Buttinsky

                I once used “execrable” on Facebook to describe Hillary Clinton. I was promptly accused of “irrational hatred.” That was when I first realized that “irrational hatred” had somehow become the preferred invective of Clinton apologists these days. But then “irrational” is always a suspect term to resort to in argumentation. Its users mistakenly believe it sounds less belligerent than “Hey, stupid!”

                But, yes, the Clintons are execrable.

                1. optimader

                  A debate fail unless one can establish what in fact is rational.

                  RE: execrable is reasonably supportable w/historical evidence, so it is more than just ad hominen.

              2. Anne

                “Execrable” works.

                But these are also fitting:

                contemptible, loathsome, hateful, detestable, reprehensible, abhorrent, abominable, awful, heinous; odious, vile, low, mean, abject, shameful, ignominious, shabby, ignoble, disreputable, discreditable, unworthy; (informal) dirty, rotten, lowdown, lousy; beastly.

                If this is the best we can do, I don’t hold out much hope for the republic.

      3. Jim Hannan

        No linkage, but NC spends tons of time on Clinton issues, very rarely on the dark money, Koch’s, Mercers, etc. It sometimes seems like NC is a Trump tool.

        1. flora

          You must have missed the many stories of Koch money buying academic seats from which to “advise” state legislatures on pending legislation – all with the imprimatur of “impartial” academic research. That’s just for starters.

          1. Jim Hannan

            That’s peanuts. The real story is the $750 million to buy this election. Who else is buying in, where is the money going. I haven’t seen that story on NC yet.

            1. timbers

              So that makes NC a Trump tool?

              Spending time on Clinton issues … and what’s wrong with that unless one might be a Clinton Tool?

              Trump is way lesser evil than Clinton who is gunning for WW3 w/Russia because her master’s corporate profits.

              The “real story” is Clinton the WW3 Totally Above The Law For Little People Warmonger Deluxe. Everything else is PEANUTS including that $750m. Try having a nice day with Nukes flying around and Russia creaming us and our useless F-35’s.

              Also too as noted by others Clinton is packaging her grift and uber warmongering as charity work and the media is buying hook line and sinker.

            2. Pat

              Hey I’m focused on the politician auctioning off her time and influence to the highest bidders in this election, the 2008 election and all the years in between. Named Clinton. Those buyers wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t get value. And she is the epitome, the gold standard if you will of the seller offering that value.

            3. John Wright

              You are suggesting the Koch’s are buying the election of Clinton and NC should also spend more time discussing this?


              Or you are referring some of the elections around the country that the Koch’s are trying to influence?

              What exactly is the “real story” and which election(s) are being bought by the Koch’s?

              If your are referring to HRC coronation, the Democrats/elite Repubs, the Kochs and the MSM (NYTimes and Washington Post) seem to be buying this election for HRC.

            4. aab

              Um, a Koch money story will ALSO lead back to the Clintons. The Kochs bankrolled the DLC. Charles slipped up and admitted this Spring he’s #WithHer, which was off-brand enough that she had to go through a big show of pretending to be offended and then he had to go through a big show of pretending they weren’t longtime allies — while refusing to back Trump.

  9. Ivy

    Re military and community:
    Here is information about Operation Gratitude. They have a terrific SoCal-based operation with a global reach. Their volunteers fill thousands of care packages monthly with donated items to ship to troops stationed around the world. That type of effort is replicated in various ways by other groups, too, few of which get much recognition beyond the care package recipients.

  10. Pat

    Those Saudis, always there when people are in need, especially women and gays. They probably even called Bill.

    BTW, you seem like know what’s what. I have a couple of really really good, no fail, investments for you, for instance the Beanie Babies movie. We’re in talks with Tom Arnold and Chloe Sevigny to star.

  11. Pat

    So one of the reasons to pass TPP is to help the leaders of Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam make changes that they cannot within legal mechanisms of their countries, probably because the people they represent do not want those changes. (Otherwise they could just pass the necessary legislation, laws, etc…)

    And our leaders seem to think that that is a selling point, because why?!?!?

    1. nippersmom

      They want these other countries’ leaders to have the same opportunity to subvert the will off the populace as our “elite” enjoy.

    2. Clive

      I covered this earlier above but, well, WordPress latency etc. — it’s always worth noting how Asian countries governments are quite happy to tap into a rich (and, ah-hem, occasionally justified) vein of anti-U.S. sentiment to get away with unpopular stuff. Self-serving elite stuff especially. Most of their populations know the score, but you can unfortunately fool some of the people some of the time. So it’s an old trick that refuses to die.

      1. Pat

        I get why those leaders want it. Same reason ours do. I just don’t understand much of the, well marketing, being done for TPP here. Sure maybe it wasn’t intended to persuade Americans this is a good thing, but much like the Trade Rep listing movies that would no longer have copyright protection in certain countries, anyone thinking about it goes “What!?!?” At least the 99.5% of the population whose bread isn’t buttered in those cases.

    3. sid_finster

      Because their elites have more in common with our elites than either elites have with the Unwashed Masses® of either of their respective countries.

      Class solidarity out there for all to see, but not the way some might have predicted.

  12. Ranger Rick

    Are they seriously going to get someone from California to campaign for Clinton in Colorado?

    The train wreck is in progress.

    1. allan

      You can’t make a moderate Republican omelette without breaking some employment laws.

      HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise Face Claims of Age Discrimination [Fortune]

      An age-discrimination lawsuit filed in mid-August against HP Inc. HPQ -0.62% and Hewlett Packard Enterprise HPE -1.37% by four former employees accuses the pre-break versions of these companies of laying them off and transferring their jobs to younger workers. What’s more, they accuse the tech giant of putting a system in place to encourage this practice.

      Their complaint, which seeks class-action status, suggests that these employees were deliberately targeted for dismissal because of their age (all of them were older than 40 when they were let go) as part of CEO Meg Whitman’s master plan to move to a younger workforce. As evidence, they cite comments Whitman made back in 2012 to analysts about HP’s need to “reshape and recalibrate” its labor pyramid to include more younger people: “If you don’t have a whole host of young people who are learning how to do delivery or learning how to do these kinds of things, you will be in [for] real challenges.”

      Whitman’s appearance with HRC is aimed at appealing to who exactly?

    2. voteforno6

      Maybe she’s targeting all those California ex-pats there. Clinton is, after all, very detail-oriented.

  13. DrBob

    California’s Smart New Retirement Plan and the Industry That Opposes It

    — Many asset-management companies fear a program that would reduce something they depend on: consumers’ confusion.

    “The Investment Company Institute, a lobbying organization for the asset-management industry, is complaining that California’s plan would cap administrative fees—that is, the amount paid to asset managers for taking care of participants’ money—at 1 percent of the total funds invested. The ICI warns that the plan could be considerably more expensive to manage, and the state could be on the hook for the difference.

    “There’s a simple way to debunk this claim. Vanguard is a mutual-fund company that is owned by its investors, so it’s similar to a nonprofit. And anyone with just $1,000 can open an online-only Individual Retirement Account at Vanguard with exactly zero administrative fees. Vanguard covers its costs with its individual funds, which charge management fees that are the lowest in the industry (around 15 basis points, or 0.15 percent, for a target-date fund with a $1,000 minimum investment). In fact, Vanguard already offers small-business retirement plans with no administrative fees.”

    1. jo6pac

      “In fact, Vanguard already offers small-business retirement plans with no administrative fees.”

      This isn’t Amerikan this must be another evil plot by the Russian V. Putin.

    2. flora

      The plan has a few, er, problems:

      “On Thursday, the United States Department of Labor issued a final safe-harbor rule, making it possible for California to run its program without conforming with the federal employee benefits law, known as Erisa, that now covers all nongovernment workers in California and the other 49 states. The Secure Choice program may still be subject to regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, however, raising thorny constitutional issues.

      “The Investment Company Institute, which represents the mutual fund industry, said the new safe-harbor rule seemed to pose a double standard, because the fiduciary standards for company retirement plans were recently tightened, and state-led plans like Secure Choice were exempt.
      “After the start-up, [Yvonne Walker, a board member] said , the board will move on to making critical decisions about which other investment options to offer workers and who should invest their money. Ms. Walker said she could not speak for the full board, but she thought it might ultimately hire both Calpers and private firms to handle different investment options. ”

      What could go wrong?

    3. Jim Haygood

      Manager fees of one percent are so ten years ago.

      Yesterday, Meb Faber of Cambria Investments announced a ZERO fee robo-advisor service, in partnership with Betterment (a 0.15% fee robo-advisor):

      0% Management Fee

      Yes, 0%. Whereas our private investment accounts formerly carried a management fee of 0.59%, we have reduced the fee for our new digital investment advisory to zero. That’s 0% compared to an industry average of about 1.0% for advisors.

      $0 Cost Commissions

      Not only will you pay no management fee, you won’t be saddled with any commissions for trading or rebalancing your account.

      Not touting this particular service. But competition (which Wall Street fears like vampires fear silver crosses) has driven fees to near-zero. Anyone still paying old-school, 20th century one-percent annual fees is getting hosed senseless.

      1. MLS

        Anyone still paying old-school, 20th century one-percent annual fees is getting hosed senseless.

        Eh, not necessarily. There’s cost and there’s value, and 0% means you are doing at least some of it yourself, which not everyone is equipped to do (or interested in doing). 1% usually includes other value-added services like financial planning, tax strategy, and advice. For people who don’t have the means or inclination to do this stuff themselves but want or need them done, paying a fee for someone to DIFM has value. If you’re paying 1% and still doing everything yourself, then yeah you’re probably getting hosed.

        Sure, there are different flavors of service and one needs to be aware of what they get for their money, but 1% = bad is not automatically the case.

  14. Paid Minion

    Chinese Jet engines

    Between GE giving it up for free, and the H-1Bs walking off with enough intellectual property, the ChiComs think they can make a go of it alone. We’ll see. This is a market where the product that is 5% more efficient will sell over the cheaper one every time.

    Unless, of course, they become future “partners”.

    I remember the early 90s when I worked at one of the General Aviation OEMs, and the “Huge Chinese Market” started putting dollar signs in the eyes of CEOs and VPs.

    Large delegations of Chinese would show up in their Mao suits, and explain to our guys in Brooks Brothers suits that they were looking for “partners”. In an effort to show our new “partners” how open and friendly we were, the suit trash gave the Chinese guys carte blanche to copy/photo all the data that wasn’t nailed down.

    In our department, this included giving up a bunch of proprietary information/”tribal knowledge” on maintenance procedures that weren’t in the Aircraft Maintenance Manuals.

    Unfortunately for the Chinese and the Suit Trash, we stopped documenting “tribal knowledge” a long time ago. We figured out pretty quick that if they had everything we know on paper, they could s##t-can us, and replace us with low wage newbies, or send them south on the NAFTA or TPP Express.

    At last report, over 25 years, they have sold about 20 jets in China. Unless you count the final assembly line that was relocated there.

    As far as the politicos and suit trash are concerned, when it comes down to “creating American Jobs”, vs. trying to get an edge in the mythical, unicorn-like “Huge Chinese Market”, the wretched refuse at the US factory will be thrown under the bus. Absolutely without fail.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Those patriotic guys and gals in Brooks Brothers suits should have offered asylum and a green card to the visitors, in exchange for some tribal knowledge from over there.

      A green card is very valuable.

    2. Optimader

      Very same experience with the ” ahh perhaps we become partners and buold here” (rather than customers which was the oremise of ne going there.
      That and the obnoxious and unrelenting paranoia about the notion of not getting ripped off “but we want your first rate technology, not export” presumably after being sold sht technology from tgeur communist ussr brithers.
      They wanted to be masters of the win-loose proposition and i eventually tokd them to find a new “ahhh. Partner”
      The younger guy, pist Mao professional that wanted to improve his SinoPec division actually wanted the equipment for his refinery got it, the old Retooled commie party guy who was an engineering professor shoved into the meeting with his two assistants killed the deal
      They suck, literally

  15. ginnie nyc

    Re: softening of hotel occupancy – if this is so, how come Chinese investors (including Sam Chang, the sliver hotel king) have created 5 empty lots surrounding my apartment building to build hotels? Some of the title transfers occurred as recently as January. (NB: I live 3 blocks from Times Square.) There are also 6 new hotels nearing completion, all on 40th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, facing the side of the Port Authority. Will these become the new homeless shelters?

    1. Jim Haygood

      In 1986, an obscure Japanese company took out a full-page ad in the NYT to boast that they’d just bought a trophy office building in Manhattan (likely with zero down), and were on the prowl for more. I showed it to my Japanese colleagues as an example of “buying the top and believing you’re a genius.”

      Within five years, they’d puked it out again into stronger hands, as a property crash got underway back home in Tokyo.

      As hotels rise in midtown, boutique hotels downtown, pencil buildings around Central Park, and residential towers all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City, what’s there to say but “Tick tock, tick tock, suckahs.

      Guess they figure that with a real estate guy headed to the White House, nothing bad can happen. :-0

  16. Paid Minion

    “Invisible Inequality”

    Contrast how many sons of the Leadership/Political/Business top 10% were KIA in WWII, (and to a lesser extent, Korea), vs. how many were KIA since then.

    Part of the reason we have gold-plated, state of the art military hardware is because the government/military wants to minimize the number of Wretched Refuse needed to go “In Harm’s Way”. Why? Maybe because they know that Joe Q. Citizen won’t stand for a bunch of fellow Joe Q.s being killed out in BFE, for no good reason.
    Ditto the expensive “All Volunteer Force”.

    You could make the case that the whole DOD is a subsidy/jobs program to middle class, suburban America.

    Got a kid you can’t afford to send to college, or isn’t “college material”? (meaning = not smart/dishonest enough to get a degree for a job in DC, or on Wall Street). What’s not to like about being a member of the AVF? As wars go, the GWOT is pretty safe for the average grunt. Free job training in a bunch of skills transferrable to the civilian sector. Pays better that the equivalent civilian McJob (checked out the “Critical Skills Re-enlistment/Retention bonuses” lately?), retirement plan is WAY Better, and you can delude yourself that whacking a few guys in Somalia/BFE is “better fighting them over there vs. over here”.

    (I’d point out that only the true die-hards are going to actually be able to make it “over here”. And of those that do, they will be a lot easier to spot. We’d be on our home turf, under our own rules. But this would require that someone monitor who gets into the country with more scrutiny, and we know Republicans or Democrats don’t really care about that, or else they would forget putting up a stupid wall, and start putting people who hire illegals in jail. But I digress…..)

  17. allan

    Ryan and Schumer: Mr. President, tear down this tax rate.

    EU ruling on Apple stirs calls for U.S. tax reform [Reuters]

    Members of both parties in Congress pointed to the stunning decision as evidence that the U.S. tax code should be rewritten to give American companies an incentive to bring home some $2.1 trillion in U.S. corporate profits held abroad. But there was no sign that lawmakers were any closer to bridging the substantial divides that have prevented agreement up to now.

    “Above all, this is yet another reason why we need to fix our tax code,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican, said in a statement. “Today’s decision should be a spur to action.” …

    “This is yet another example of why we need to reform the international tax system to ensure these revenues come home,” said Senator Charles Schumer, the chamber’s No. 3 Democrat. …

    In the past, Schumer has pushed for a 5% tax on repatriated profits.
    Oh, those New York liberals.

    1. pat

      I have a better solution just tax them the same as if they were here in the US, sure let them deduct the local taxes from outside the US but otherwise it is just more income for an American company that frankly is not really being held in a foreign company.

      But I’m not a neoliberal/conservative corporate hack…

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Structurally unsafe and laced with formaldehyde, the “hurricane-proof” classroom trailers installed by the Clinton Foundation in Haiti…….. The Nation

    Although this article is 5 years old, more recent articles suggest there has been no improvement.

    And warren buffet, owner of the vile clayton homes, and his wife “susie” are among the “billionaires” whose meetings with sos clinton were not redacted. Because, of course, the sos would be expected to take meetings with american billionaires like buffet and gates.

    Anyone looking for clinton foundation “quid pro quos” need look no further than Haiti, where they abound. Which, of course, is why they’re not.

    But never fear, Haiti, defective clayton homes “hurricane-proof” poison trailers are not the only american innovation coming your way. You will also be the recipient of another great american economic game-changer–the professional sports stadium–with a little help from an old clinton friend.

    Terry McAuliffe, who serves on Delos Living’s Advisory Board, says, “I have seen a number of incredible projects over the years, and Morad and Boby’s commitment to build the first professional soccer stadium in one of the most dangerous cities in the world is one of the most exciting projects that I have seen presented at CGI. The work I am doing with Delos Living, LLC, and their introduction of Wellness Real Estate, is a “game changer” in the real estate market. I am confident that this new Phoenix Stadium will have a similar game changing effect for the millions of soccer fans in Haiti.”

    Tent cities and soccer stadiums. Thank god for the clinton foundation.

  19. DJPS

    In his HBO show, John Oliver once provided an interesting report about the hopeless results of aid going into Haiti. Of course, he didn’t make any mention of the Clinton name or foundation in that report. Was he shilling for Hillary before it was cool?

  20. Mark John

    I am not a huge fan of charity. It allows all sorts of characters to claim kindly acts to cover up or obscure dastardly acts. I am from the deepest South, and this is not an uncommon ruse. I believe mafias and other shady organizations also use this tactic to engender loyalty and hide wrongdoing.

    Perhaps the debate should be that there might be a better way to provide help for those in need beyond the practice of charity.

  21. Adam Eran

    Ah, Meg Whitman! The plutocrat who ran ebay, and failed to expand it into Russia. Why? Because the Russian postal service sucked. Then she ran as an anti-government R (for California’s governor) and spent many dollars losing. But we must still terminate those public services (like post offices)!

    Demonstrating the “anti-collectivist” (the Koch’s words) narrative beats experience, not even R’s in Louisiana suffering methane leaks and flooding are willing to change their tune.

    The jokes just write themselves.

  22. Cry Shop

    A page about the TPP on the White House website asks, “Where did ISDS [i.e., the Investor-State Dispute Settlement part of the TPP] come from?” The answer:

    Before we had investment rules and ISDS international agreements, unlawful behavior by countries that targeted foreign investors tended either to go unaddressed or escalate into conflict between countries. In fact, early in our history, the U.S. had to deploy “gunboat diplomacy,” or military intervention, to protect private American commercial interests. ISDS is a more peaceful, better way to resolve trade conflicts between countries.

    and there you have it. TPP is a better form of gunboat diplomacy, like the neutron bomb it leaves property in place while decimating the local population.

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