2:00PM Water Cooler 9/1/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Sorry to be five minutes late; I was interrupted just as I was gearing up to press the Submit button!


“The latest line from proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) implies that President Obama threatened long-standing national security relationships in his negotiating of the TPP… The proponents of the TPP would have us believe that President Obama told our trading partners that approval of the TPP was a slam dunk. That they could count on congressional approval in the same way that they could count on Congress to honor its military commitments in the region. That one doesn’t sound very likely” [Truthout]. “There is an alternative hypothesis that makes far more sense. The Obama administration, along with other supporters of the TPP, doesn’t feel it can sell the deal based on its merits as an economic pact. Therefore they are inventing a national security rationale for the TPP that does not exist. It’s not a pretty story, but as they say in Washington: You throw it against the wall and see what sticks.”

“TISA would lock in privatisation of public services. TISA contains mechanisms, such as ‘ratchet’and ‘standstill’ clauses, that make it much harder to reverse privatisations and will allow greater market access for foreign companies” [Defend Democracy] (original report).

“The new TTIP? Meet TISA, the ‘secret privatisation pact that poses a threat to democracy'” [Independent]. “TISA [is]a deal backed by some of the world’s biggest corporations, such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, Walt Disney, Walmart, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. “A so-called ‘ratchet’ clause in the deal means that after a service – like trains or water or energy – is privatised, this is almost impossible to reverse even if it fails.” In Britian, “never, ever” British Rail, Thatcher having privatized the railways. In America, “never, ever” single payer. Precipiated by the same Global Justice report linked to above. Good to see activists pivot so effectively!



“Bill Clinton aides used tax dollars to subsidize foundation, private email support” [Politico]. Grifters gotta grift:

Bill Clinton’s staff used a decades-old federal government program, originally created to keep former presidents out of the poorhouse, to subsidize his family’s foundation and an associated business, and to support his wife’s private email server, a POLITICO investigation has found.

Taxpayer cash was used to buy IT equipment — including servers — housed at the Clinton Foundation, and also to supplement the pay and benefits of several aides now at the center of the email and cash-for-access scandals dogging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Watchdog groups are poking holes into former President Bill Clinton’s promise that his family’s foundation will stop taking foreign and corporate cash if his wife wins the presidency” [The Hill]. “They say it would be relatively easy for foreign governments or individuals to funnel cash into the foundation during a Hillary Clinton presidency without the American public ever learning of the foreign contributions — despite the former president’s promises outlined in an Aug. 22 open letter published on the Clinton Foundation’s website.” And let’s not forget this little episode:

But the foundation failed to make good on a number of its pledges, including accepting, and not disclosing, $2.35 million from a family foundation linked to [Frank Giustra’s] uranium company that had sensitive and lucrative business before Clinton’s State Department.

Oddly, or not, The Hill failed to mention some details, including that the United States considers uranium a stragetic national asset, and that the “sensitive and lucrative business” was a sale by Guistra that Clinton needed to approve and which “gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States.” ZOMG!!!! The Russkis!!!!!! Hold me back!!!!!! Did you hear?! Bill Clinton has a life-size portrait of Vladimir Putin tattooed on his back!!!!!! Riding a horsie!!!!!!!!! Et cetera et cetera blah blah blah blah gag spew.


“Nothing revolutionary about Sanders’ ‘Our Revolution'” [DefendDemocracy]. “But according to the perspective laid out by Sanders in his live-streamed speech, this supposedly mighty river of struggle will deposit its waters into the cesspool of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.” I think the “mighty river” — I’ve been using the metaphor of the great deluge upstream from is gonna go where it’s gonna go. That’s why it’s a flood, right? And if the mighty river is less powerful than the rotting Democrat party establishment, then we might as well all hang it up, right?

“Trump’s visit has gained him nothing, and it has probably done considerable harm to his host. It stands out as one of the more bizarre and pointless foreign visits of a nominee for president, and that is in keeping with badly-run, poorly-organized campaign that doesn’t know what it’s doing” [The American Conservative]. On the other hand:

UPDATE And the day after (!): “Donald Trump on Wednesday squashed any speculation that he might soften his immigration position to reach new voters in the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, delivering a hawkish, hardline, and true-to-his-roots border platform and vowing that on Day One of his administration, the United States would launch a mammoth deportation program and begin construction of a wall” [Politico]. Meanwhile, liberal goodthinkers shove all the costs of immigration onto the working class because, ya know, they’re all racists so they deserve it.

“Several major Latino surrogates for Donald Trump are reconsidering their support for him following the Republican nominee’s hardline speech on immigration Wednesday night” [Politico].

UPDATE “Obamacare Premiums Set to Rise, Even for Savvy Shoppers” [Margot Sanger-Katz, New York Times]. I’ve had occasion to call attention to Sanger-Katz’s neoliberal crapfest on health care before, and when I hear a chirpy little crotte like “savvy shoppers” applied to health care, I reach for my Browning (the poet, of course: “That’s my last columnist, hanging on the wall…”). Oh, and those price hikes look like a November surprise, one week before election day.

Our Famously Free Press

“The Clinton Foundation and the Media: A Deep-Seated Conflict of Interest” [Truthout]. “The media industry, which many claim is out to get Clinton, is actually made up mostly of donors to the Clinton Foundation. These donors are also actively supporting Clinton’s campaign with donations and even fundraising. Indeed, while Clinton’s potential conflicts of interest at the State Department are thought-provoking, her financial ties to Big Media are a concern in their own right. These close ties are especially unsettling on the heels of a primary season in which the corporate media attacked Bernie Sanders constantly, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was caught manipulating the media on Clinton’s behalf.”

Swing States

“The candidates’ schedules this week reflect just how integral Ohio is to their White House aspirations. Clinton addressed the American Legion on Wednesday in Cincinnati. On Thursday, Trump will be campaigning in Wilmington and Vice President Joe Biden will stump for Clinton in the Youngstown area. Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, will both campaign in Cleveland on Labor Day” [RealClearPolitics]. “His campaign has been focused on areas of the state where there are possibilities to woo these white, working-class voters who might otherwise lean Democratic. Since accepting the nomination in Cleveland, Trump has visited the state four times, with events in Toledo, Columbus, Youngstown, and Akron. ‘We are going into areas where we think Mr. Trump’s message appeals to disaffected Democrats and independents,’ says Bob Paduchik, Trump’s Ohio manager who also ran George W. Bush’s successful efforts in the state in 2000 and 2004. ‘One of the reasons why Ohio has maintained such a competitive position for both candidates is because he has an appeal to disaffected Democrats and independents, unlike any candidate for statewide office in my recollection.'” Hmm. Ohio 2004….

The Voters

“Live Polls And Online Polls Tell Different Stories About The Election” [FiveThirtyEight]. “As of Tuesday morning, Clinton led Trump by 6 percentage points and had a 79 percent chance of winning, according to our polls-only forecast. But running our polls-only model using only live-interview surveys, Clinton leads Trump by 7 points and has an 86 percent chance of winning. Running it with only nonlive-interview polls, Clinton leads Trump by 5 points and has a 71 percent chance of winning.” And: “As the cases of Utah and Kansas suggest, I’d put more faith in the live-interview polls than in other types of surveys, all else being equal. Indeed, our forecast models do just that. ” Hmm. This looks like the Bradley Effect for Trump, to me.

“Donald Trump seems to be defying political gravity. Unlike Goldwater and McGovern, who left their conventions 20 or more points down in the polls and never recovered, Trump is within striking distance of Clinton, down about 7 points in the latest polls—and all this despite the tepid support and in some cases outright opposition of his party’s leading figures. What is happening?” Spoiler: It’s the economy, stupid [Slate]. “Here’s what was special about [landslide years] 1964 and 1972: These were two of the three strongest years for the economy in the postwar era, with per-capita income growth in the 4 percent range, and the candidates running for re-election—Johnson and Nixon—won in landslides, as would be predicted. … But 2016 is not like 1964 or 1972. The economy is slowly recovering, no longer in recession, but it is certainly not booming as in those earlier years…. [The] numbers are OK but not stunning and do not foretell an electoral landslide, in either direction. Going by economic indicators, we’re looking at a close election, perhaps slightly favoring the incumbent party’s candidate, depending on how strongly one weights the most recent economic performance.” The whole article is well worth a read.

“Voter information stolen in other states is public in Pennsylvania” [The Sentinel]. Heaven forfend we should go to the international standard for voting: Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. Paper is very hard to hack. The downside is that can’t gin up a war scare with it.

UPDATE “[W]hen we control for partisanship, what we see is that distrust for Clinton is hardly driven by whiteness. The two most remarkable trends are, first, her outsized trust among black Democrats, and second, her plurality distrust among Hispanic Democrats. More white Democrats trust her than distrust her; that latter number, meanwhile, is comparable or less than her distrust among Hispanic and “other” Democrats, and only varies from her substantial distrust among black Democrats by around 9%” [Carl Beijer].

UPDATE “[Urban Outfitters] is plastering messages like ‘IDK Not Trump Tho’ and ‘Vote Trump 20NEVER’ on t-shirts and coffee mugs, which the company created after a licensing deal with comedian Dave Ross, who came up with the slogan. “While being politically incorrect may not be in the best interest of retailers, it is working quite well for Urban Outfitters. The first run of 300 shirts were sold out in under 24 hours, prompting the store to order thousands more” [The Fashion Law].

War Drums

“Commentary: Who is hacking U.S. election databases and why are they so difficult to identify?” [Reuters]. “This summer has been rife with news of election-related hacking. Last month it was the Democratic National Committee; this week, voter election databases in Illinois and Arizona… The FBI has said that government-affiliated Russian hackers are responsible for both intrusions. Yet the hackers’ motivation is unclear. We don’t know whether the hackers were engaging in espionage, attempting to manipulate the election, or just harvesting low-hanging cyber-fruit for their own financial gain.” Well, the FBI is totes apolitical, so that settles that. There are brave Russkis out there. Let’s go kill them!

So much for keeping the military out of politics:


“The populist wave that swept Donald Trump to the top of the Republican ticket hasn’t led to a revolution sweeping away party insiders” [Bloomberg]. Party establishment gets better at beating the base back into its cage.

“I’m a Republican [and a big Jebbie donor], and I’m with Hillary Clinton” [Miami Herald]. “And so my fellow Republicans, swallow hard, look into your heart — and your gut. Vote for Hillary Clinton and then every single Republican on the ticket.

Clinton Email Hairball

“We are also reminded that Clinton repeatedly vowed she’d surrendered every single government business-related email upon the State Department’s request” [New York Post].

This was an extraordinary lie: She hoarded and attempted to destroy thousands of emails which, like the one The Post describes, involved government business — some of it highly sensitive and significant (such as the 30 emails related to the Benghazi massacre that the FBI recovered but the State Department has yet to disclose). Converting government records to one’s own use and destroying them are serious crimes, even if no classified information is involved.

I rarely find myself agreeing with a National Review columnist writing in the New York Post, but “converting government records to one’s own use and destroying them”: Yes, exactly.

Stats Watch

Productivity and Costs, Q2 2016: “Compensation for the second quarter is now revised sharply higher, to an annualized 3.7 percent from an initial 1.5 percent which makes for a doubling in unit labor costs from their initial estimate, to 4.3 percent from 2.0 percent” [Econoday]. “Higher wages are a plus for the consumer and for consumer spending but wage gains without productivity gains are a negative for the economy and also point to lack of available slack in the workforce, a point that won’t be missed by Federal Reserve policy who meet later this month to consider a rate hike. Productivity has declined for three quarters in a row in one of the worst streaks for this reading in the history of the U.S. economy, weakness that can ultimately be blamed on lack of investment in new equipment.” So the solution for a capital strike should be to increase the industrial reserve army… And: “A simple summary of the headlines for this release is that the growth of productivity contracted while the labor costs grew (headline quarter-over-quarter analysis). The year-over-year analysis also shows productivity in negative territory, and negative productivity is a usual indicator of a recession” [Econintersect]. But: “I personally do not understand why anyone would look at the data in this series as the trends are changed from release to release.”

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, August 2016: “There’s as many positives as negatives in the August manufacturing report from the Dallas Fed, which is a plus since negatives usually dominate this report” [Econoday]. “This along with the Kansas City Fed report have been depressed the past 2 years due to the drop in energy prices. But today’s report, though no better than mixed, does show signs of improvement, in a reminder of last week’s solid strength in the durable goods report.”

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, August 2016: “[D]isappointingly flat month… Details are likewise soft” [Econoday].

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index Manufacturing Index, August 2016: “This report in sum points to no better than flat conditions ahead for manufacturing” [Econoday].

Construction Spending, July 2016: Unchanged, but “oversized revisions have marred the construction spending report all year and put into question the reliability of its results” [Econoday]. And: “The backward revisions make this series wacky – but the rolling averages significantly declined. Private construction now has little growth while public construction is in contraction” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of August 27, 2016: “Jobless claims are steady at historically low levels in further confirmation of the strength of the U.S. labor market” [Econoday]. On the other hand: “The trend of the 4 week moving average is relatively flat indicating there is no employment or unemployment dynamic that is changing. The trend of year-over-year improvement of initial unemployment claims is moderating – and this trend historically indicates a weakening GDP” [Econintersect].

Challenger Job-Cut Report, August 2016: “Jobless claims are very low as have been layoff announcements, at only 32,188 in August and among the lowest readings of the recovery” [Econoday].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of August 28, 2016: Sharply down (but volatile) [Econoday].

Auto: “Forecast: U.S. Light Vehicles Sales Weaken in August” [Wards Auto]. And: “More evidence the wheels are coming off, not that there have been any doubts….” [Mosler Economics]. Grrr!

Personal Income and Outlays (Monday): “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].

Transport: “[A] transportation-as-a-service company built around self-driving cars not only needs cars that can drive themselves, but an entire infrastructure on the back-end that tells those cars exactly where to go in a way that maximizes what will undoubtedly be a massive capital investment in the cars themselves” [Stratechery]. “It’s the routing piece that is the most importan… [G]etting the algorithms behind UberPool right is an incredibly complex problem. It’s basically the traveling salesman problem on steroids, and the only real way to solve it is to slowly but surely work out heuristics that work in real world situations.” I hope all those heuristics have good insurance.

Shipping: “Borrowed time comes to an end as Hanjin Shipping files for court receivership” [Splash247]. “Alphaliner states Hanjin’s bankruptcy is the biggest ever in container shipping history. The company is the seventh largest liner in the world, with 98 vessels totalling 609,500 teu as well as 44 bulkers and tankers. It charters in 61 ships. Among tonnage providers scrambling today to find out what will happen to their contracts with the Korean line are Conti, Ciner, Danaos, Pacific International Lines, Rickmers and Seaspan….. Other high profile Korean shipping companies that have gone under in recent years – Pan Ocean and Korea Line – have been auctioned with Korean conglomerates always winning the auction. HMM picking over the Hanjin carcass is very much the likely outcome in the coming months.”

Shipping: “Efforts by creditors to recover money from Hanjin Shipping are being thwarted by legal efforts in Seoul to protect the line’s assets.Ships are staying out at sea rather than berth and risk being arrested over unpaid charter fees and other payments” [Lloyd’s List]. Rough trade…

Shipping: “Despite calls for collaboration, truck shippers seen sticking to the same old script” [DC Velocity]. “In recent years, trucking executives have been preaching to shippers the virtues of a more collaborative relationship to help supply chains run more efficiently and to provide relief to their hard-pressed drivers. The attempts at friendly persuasion have often been accompanied by a not-so-subtle message: Those who co-operate will have capacity available to them at competitive prices during periods of tight supply, while those who don’t may get left by the side of the road. The pleas and warnings have mostly fallen on deaf ears, however.

Hotels: “A combination of factors early in the year drove a 56% total-dollar-volume drop in California hotel transactions in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period a year earlier” [Hotel News]. “Northern California saw transactions fall 32%, transactions volume was virtually flat in Southern California during the first half with just a 1% increase.” 56% seems like rather a lot. Did I just hear something pop?

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Hyperloop One lawsuit gets messier with ‘fake pornographic’ Twitter accounts” [Business Insider].

UPDATE The Bezzle: “A Silicon Valley Dream Collapses in Allegations of Fraud” [New York Times]. “Silicon Valley is always eager to celebrate its success stories, but the reality is that numerous tiny start-ups that few ever hear about form the tech industry’s dysfunctional underbelly. … Mr. Choi’s company, WrkRiot, began unraveling in a highly public fashion. Its former head of marketing revealed that the start-up had been mired in internal chaos and had sometimes paid employees in cashier’s checks before delaying payment altogether. She also alleged that Mr. Choi had forged wire transfer documents to make it look as if compensation were on the way. … Penny Kim, the former head of marketing at WrkRiot who wrote about her experience at the company, including the forgery allegations, said, ‘I’d heard stories about late paychecks or start-ups failing, but who expects fraud in Silicon Valley?'” Anybody with an ounce of common sense?

The Bezzle: “Two pillars of Elon Musk’s empire are facing financial crunches as the entrepreneur seeks to combine [Tesla and Solar City] through a controversial acquisition” [Wall Street Journal, “Elon Musk Faces Cash Squeeze at Tesla, SolarCity”]. “The filing also revealed that in recent weeks, 15 institutional investors passed on either acquiring SolarCity or injecting equity into it. The company is having difficulty tapping the public markets amid the proposed merger and is facing a liquidity squeeze.” Karma in real time.

The Bezzle: “[Andreessen Horowitz], co-founded by web pioneer Marc Andreessen in 2009, is routinely mentioned among the pantheon of great startup investors along with the likes of Sequoia Capital—a status that has allowed it to command higher fees than some of its rivals.” [Wall Street Journal, “Andreessen Horowitz’s Returns Trail Venture-Capital Elite”]. “But an analysis of its performance, compared with funds from top firms and industry averages, shows that Andreessen Horowitz hasn’t yet earned that reputation.” Modfied karma.

Oops: “According to numerous eyewitness reports, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket just exploded during a test on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral. This rocket was set to launch on Saturday, Sept. 3 on a mission to deliver Facebook’s first satellite to orbit” [TechCrunch]. “This rocket was scheduled to launch the Amos-6 communication satellite, which among other functions included the capabilities for Facebook to spot-beam broadband for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative.” More karma.

Honey for the Bears, [Mosler Economics]:


Political Risk: “[W]hat does Wall Street do that benefits society? Doctors and nurses make patients healthier. Firefighters and EMTs save lives. Telecommunications companies and smart phone manufacturers permit people to communicate with each other at a distance. Automobile executives and airline pilots help people close that distance. Teachers and professors help students learn. Wall Street bankers help—mostly just themselves” [Promarket]. Note the author: “A Distinguished Professor of Corporate and Business Law at Cornell Law School.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 62, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 1 at 12:57pm.

Our Famously Free Press

UPDATE “The 18-24 crowd has used the internet as its primary source for news for several years. Now it is specifying “social media” as its main source of news, with that niche overtaking television for the first time” [Ad Week].

UPDATE So much for YouTube:


“Now, researchers in Germany have sequenced the genome of the Y. pestis strain that they believe caused the Justinian Plague but hasn’t been seen since, according to a new study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution on Tuesday” [CNN]. What could go wrong?

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Amid growing anxiety about the disappearance of factory jobs, thousands of them are going unfilled across the U.S.” [Wall Street Journal, “As Skill Requirements Increase, More Manufacturing Jobs Go Unfilled”]. If only there were some mechanism… Call it an “invisible hand”… That would fix this problem!

“[T]he U.K. Social Mobility Commission that found poorer job applicants may be discarded at a banking interview for simply wearing the wrong color of shoes” [MarketWatch]. Musical interlude!

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to cut thousands of back office positions around the country, a sign that the retailer’s effort to make its cavernous stores more efficient is also changing the face of its workforce” [MarketWatch]. “The country’s largest private employer is eliminating about 7,000 U.S. store accounting and invoicing positions over the next several months, jobs mostly held by long-term employees, often some of the highest paid hourly workers in stores. The retailer wants those employees working with shoppers, not in backrooms, say company executives. Centralizing or automating much of those tasks is more efficient, they say. The jobs are coveted as a rare desk job in retail. ‘You are not running around the store on your feet all day,’ and receive decent pay, says a Wal-Mart store accounting employee who earns about $13 an hour, or $27,000 a year.” Looks like the professional classes are being eaten away at from below. Surprise!

UPDATE “Race to Nowhere” [Jacobin]. “What Tuskegee represented as an institution, and what Up From Slavery testified to as a program, was the idea that the problem of the South was not primarily a problem of who held political power, but rather one of determining how best to incorporate a despised caste into the social and economic fabric of the nation. In the place of political transformation Washington offered up race relations, with Tuskegee positioned to provide an army of “trained men and women to confront the militancy of an industrial proletariat.” URL (as opposed to the title) offers up “Tuskegee Populism” as a meme. Hmm.

News of the Wired

Zuck gifts the Pope with a drone [NBC]. Probably why his rocket blew up.

“Companies across the U.S. say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co-workers” [Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply].

“The Internet was built by public institutions — so why is it controlled by private corporations?” [Jacobin]. Because primitive accumulation.

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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):

Chaste Tree

A Chaste Tree. I like the combination of motion and stillness. The wind plays a greater role in the life of plants than we think.

* * *

Readers, I know we’re approaching Labor Day weekend, 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. Jim Haygood

    Double jeopardy for Guccifer:

    A Romanian hacker nicknamed “Guccifer” who helped expose the existence of a private email domain Hillary Clinton used when she was U.S. secretary of state was sentenced on Thursday to 52 months in prison by a federal “court” in Alexandria, Virginia.

    Marcel Lazar, 44, who used the alias online, had pleaded guilty in May to charges including unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft after being extradited from Romania.


    Lazar ALREADY was serving a prison sentence for hacking in Romania when he was extradited by the long arm of the U.S. law. Now the U.S. is piling on, adding another sentence for the same offense.

    Technically, the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on double jeopardy doesn’t apply to foreign courts. But back in the revolutionary days of ’89 [1789, that is], it was intended as a statement of universal principles. Today, invoking “principles” will get you laughed out of DC, if not added to the no-fly list.

    Without Guccifer’s revelations, we would never have known that Hillary maliciously pilfered and hoarded the entirety of her State Department official correspondence, intending to leave a permanent FOIA-proof vacuum in the files.

    Were I President Trump, I would pardon Guccifer on my first day of office, in recognition of his exemplary service to the people and government of the United States.

    1. Jim Haygood

      By the way, check out the black ski masks covering the faces of Guccifer’s federal kidnappers:


      After fifteen years under martial law [USA Patriot Act], one hardly even notices the menacing garb that law enforcement has adopted.

      These days our imperial police dress indistinguishably from bank robbers — probably a necessity, since they actually do rob the populace with asset forfeiture.

      1. reslez

        If you watch the opening scenes of Star Wars you see the evil empire minions dressed in faceless masks with a lot of stark black. The “good guys” wear friendly outfits, muted greens blues and khakis like cops wore back in the 60s.

        Funny how our guys are all dressed up like the evil empire now. They do it intentionally — inspiring fear is a way to “maintain control” right? plus it gets the testosterone pumping — but man, it sends a terribly truthful message. Not to mention the huge number who are ridiculously obese. What a soul-killing combo.

        1. fresno dan

          I would like to know how many police officers in the US have ACTUALLY been looked up by the mob or terrorists and killed or faced some retribution?

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Geez, straight outta gulag…
        I’m old enough to remember the days when Americans would react with utter revulsion at any police force anywhere that was attired like that.
        And I’m sure we’ll be informed that Romania is a province of Russia, the Boris-bashing must go on…

        1. Jagger

          I’m old enough to remember the days when Americans would react with utter revulsion at any police force anywhere that was attired like that.

          We still do. It is just that those in charge don’t care.

      3. Bugs Bunny

        That photo was not taken in the US. Romanian license plate on the Skoda and the agents’ patches say “Militia”.

        That said, police in the US do dress in a disturbingly militaristic way since 9/11

    2. uncle tungsten

      Guccifer has a family in Romania who deserve much support. Guccifer has earned the People’s Medal for exemplary service to democracy. Who can craft it and deliver it to both him and his family. Guccifer is a significant contributor to a better world.

  2. diptherio

    They’ve successfully crappified education and defunded schools and now they complain about lack of skills…

    1. Tertium Squid

      Ms. Tesene, who opened her first store 11 years ago, said she sees fewer candidates who can hold a conversation, want to interact with people and are eager to excel.

      Ms. Tesene, eleven years ago you were paying them enough to care.

        1. PWC, Raleigh

          I experienced the strong whiff of insufferable self-righteousness wafting off Ms. Tesene.

          The perfect WSJ source.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I can’t access the link you are referencing — “… Critical Thinking in Short Supply” — Where are these companies hiring people for their ability to communicate and think critically? Are they still hiring? I don’t know whether schools still teach those skills or perhaps actively discourage such skills but after a long career in a field and for an employer claiming to value communication skill and critical thinking I failed to notice much real value put on either skill.

      This “problem” business is having may be a problem of communication. The hiring companies have too long used “communication and critical thinking” as euphemisms for skills better known by other terminology in the wider public. Either the businesses are unable to use the better known terms for reasons of delicacy or they’ve completely forgotten the actual meaning of the words they’ve used in a purely euphemistic sense for too long.

      1. cwaltz

        Critical thinking means having the ability to question things and while companies like Walmart may say they want these skills, the minute it means someone challenges their business model and asks why a cashier, a critical juncture that connects the customer to the company ,makes so little, they’re going to be drummed out on their ears, just ask any of the people within Walmart who over the years tried to organize labor and tried to make them understand their worth.

        They want critical thinking and unquestioning obedience and those two things are contradictory by nature.

          1. ambrit

            And that was the ‘nice’ euphemism we used. Sometimes, one’s vocabulary of profanity was the only limit to descriptions of such “brown nosing, twisted, felching little s—s.”

    3. ProNewerDeal

      “Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply”

      I find Critical Thinking among the majority of USian politician & business Power Elite 0.1%ers in short supply.

      For instance, they refuse to look at how the MIC is a rip-off & these wars do not accomplish even the objectives they claim to want. They are contradictory in that they allow the manufacturers’ desire for cheap labor enrich China by outsourcing mfg to China; although it contradicts the MIC claim that China is the biggest “threat” in the 21st Century & we need to “Pivot to Asia”, & that a certain decent level of actually in the US high-tech mfg plants is necessary for “National Security”. They ignore how the US health system is American Exceptionally among the worst in health outcomes in the OECD, while costing the most in the world, in addition to restricting the creation of entrepreneurial start-up companies they claim are vital. HClinton/other neocons want to risk WW3 by enraging Russia by Regime-Changing Assad, & either prefers 1SIS to run Syria, or claims a magical mystical new force that currently has little power (if it even currently exists at all) will magically somehow become the new Syrian regime.

      They ignore that history shows when the majority (80-99.9%) of the population is crapped on for decades, it often adds very badly for the PTB, word to Marie Antoinette.

      I’d have to say that the likes of 0bama/Bush43 & their owners like Jamie Dimon are horrible at Critical Thinking.

      In contrast, FD Roosevelt Critically Thought that his New Deal reforms were necessary to help the majority of suffering USians while preserving Capitalism & the status of the existing oligarchs. Henry Ford Critically Thought that if he paid his workers enough to be able to purchase the car, it would seed the market & provide a source of customer feedback data. The 0bama/Dimon types are mental midgets by comparison.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Henry Ford had no such thoughts. There was quite the history of strikes in Michigan.

        Henry Ford had to pay reasonable wages to keep labor from moving because his operation depended on Great Lakes shipping (shipping is cheap) and access to the Mississippi and Atlantic and he didn’t want to have to constantly retrain a new work force if they moved West. The rest outside of labor strikes is garbage. If he could get away with it, he would have imported slaves and put Jews into camps for a buck.

      2. clarky90

        Is the Modern Day Democratic Party the Party of Digital Era Slavery?

        1. The condition in which one person is owned as property by another and is under the owner’s control, especially in involuntary servitude.

        I am thinking of the massive student debt, housing debt, and household debt that has been created with magical money (like a Papal Dispensation to Sin, out of thin air). The result is Indentured Servitude of a huge percentage of USA citizens.

        Also, the Modern Slave Ships (trains, boats, cars, trucks and airplanes) are bringing 21st Century Slaves into the USA. Being undocumented and “illegal” they end up doing traditional slave jobs- domestic servants, yard workers, sex workers, agriculture labor, house keepers. They are powerless and vulnerable.

        The new slaves (docile and hungry) also act as Scabs. They break the Unions. They drive down worker’s wage and destroy workers conditions.

        The Democrats, in Newspeak, say they are the party of LOVE. I think they are the Party of the Payday Loan Shark

  3. EGrise

    The Voters: This looks like the Bradley Effect for Trump, to me.

    Every time I see poll results, I think about Yves’ Italian friend who never met anyone who voted for Berlusconi.

    Trump within 5-7 points of Clinton: if the election results run like that (either way, Clinton +5 or Trump +5) then fine, but if it’s a blowout (especially for Clinton) I fear a legitimacy crisis will occur. I try not to think about what that might mean.

    1. Starveling

      I find myself liking the man more and more. His immigration stance makes sense… but I’m not a huge fan of the magic dirty theory of Americanism anyhow. If the goodthinkers love foreigners more than their countrymen, why don’t they bring in folks to take their jobs and live in their neighborhoods?

      He’s still a conman as like as not, but God do I want to see the Clintons and their ilk punished for once.

      I also swear to everyone I know in person I’d never in a million years vote for him. They all knew I was a big Bernie fan, once- weird how things change.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Keep the big-level issues in view: foreign wars, American jobs, media manipulations, election rigging. There’s one candidate who at least is questioning the status quo.

          1. Starveling

            If the Dem party as a whole took the (very real) climate issue seriously, why on earth would they want to import the whole third world to use energy like profligate Americans? The best hope for actual action on climate is to reframe as a local/national civic issue and to sell conservation and preserving a future for our posterity- the hopes of doing that in a dyscivic polyglot future America of competing identity factions isn’t all that bright. Hell, real action on the ‘climate’ was likely made impossible when we exported our primary industrial base to the third world to avoid paying wages or dealing with pesky environmental regulations.

            Global action is impossible, but localizing could help us curb our worst excesses.

            1. Anonymous


              So did a former California head of the Sierra Club, who argued something along those lines. He was demoted and banished.

              1. Felix_47

                +4 Starveling. And if you think it makes no sense in the US how about in Germany? On the one hand decreasing employment prospects and on the other massive third world immigration to dilute what is left of a national conciousness. A million refugees last year (mostly poor young men locked out of having sex with women because of polygamy) with no prospects in Afghanistan and the rest of the Muslim world and more likely than not the same number this year due to family reunification. The authorities over here never give the real numbers. The contradictions are bizarre. The future will have less jobs (Der Spiegel this week) yet the stable non growing population in Germany will impede growth (Der Spiegel at other times.) And no one wants to talk about population control. Is anyone thinking at all

          2. John k

            Good point.
            So what might Hillary do about it, given all her fracking and now support from Koch bros? Are they on board with the dangers of carbon?
            Not a good issue to decide lesser evil.
            Now speaking about corruption and wars…

            1. Anonymous

              HRC lobbied 4 two giant coal plants in South Africa (cronies got the construction job), after donations.

              From desmog blog

  4. Ivy

    Critical thinking skills got tossed out of the curriculum, along with supporting cast members music and art, and in some cases gym, to make room for more Indoctrination Time. Combine that with social media overload, teaching to the test and parental stress through two precarious incomes and it is small wonder that kids get through K-12 and beyond without more problems. They are resilient, to a point, but we as a society have been consuming our seed corn.
    The role of parents and a semblance of stable home life become ever more important while support wanes. It takes more now to keep one’s eye on the longer term goals and to help guide kids through the maze.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      My kids are at the point where they need help “through the maze” but I feel incompetent to provide much help to them [assuming they would listen]. I’ve seen too many things I used to assume as given and immutable change and wither before my eyes.

      When I was much younger I had a roommate who worked hard to obtain a degree for deep-water scuba work focusing on support for the oil industry which was hiring and paying well at that time long ago. By the year he got his degree — a two year degree he earned in two years — the hiring frenzy was over and pay was dropping. My brother went to school to learn to be a diesel mechanic at a 9 mos. program in a trade school. Again jobs were drying up and pay going down as he came out of the program 9 mos. later.

      I remember when we needed more school teachers, more nuclear engineers, more chemical engineers, more programmers and software engineers, more electrical engineers [I worked in engineering hence the bias in my knowledge] — and each of these professions rose and rapidly declined faster than anyone could “re-tool their skills”. I don’t have a clue what to recommend to my kids as a trade or field of study. The job market has turned such that following your passion or whatever the phrase was the Joseph Campbell used makes an excellent argument for ending up with an in-payable debt for education and a part-time job guaranteed to depress all passion.

      What guidance do you give to your children? I’m hard pressed to find my own way through the maze.

        1. Ivy

          We have helped them see the broader world beyond their school and media bubble. Some of that is through our stealth presentations (e.g., home library, trips to museums) and discussions about Western Civ and current events. Those both include a healthy dose of “collect the facts, don’t just accept what is presented at face value”, as we want them to think for themselves. We also have them stay in touch with relatives and friends in other parts of the country so they see how people live their lives in different ways.
          Some of the activities are old-school, like learn how to swim for water safety, and learn how to be financially literate through exposure to bank accounts, cards and credit ratings early and often. I’m trying to get my daughter to go into nursing as she’d be really good at it and could always get a job. She is thinking about it and has seen her aunt and other relatives in that profession, so has some time to decide while she goes through school.

          1. AnEducatedFool

            Ivy, if you are in the NorthEast I would check the requirements for a nurse. In my area nurses must have a BS to even get an interview. The amount of nurses coming out of school is increasing each year as more and more people see nursing as the only option to enter the work force. There are other technical jobs in healthcare that are not nursing. Those jobs are likely to be more stable. I wish I could list them but I am not in that sector.

            Teachers in Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester countis in Pa are in higher demand. I’m not sure if that is an option for your family. I will find out in a couple of weeks if I can substitute teach this year. If i work 5 days a week I’ll make around 25k this year. Many first year teachers make 40-50k depending on the district. Even the poor districts start in the high 30s with pay that ends in the low 90s and even 100s. Not all teachers are poor or struggling.

        2. Jen

          English major here. I joke that I owe my career to the fact that I can’t type. Owing to the fact that I’m also good with numbers, I’ve charted a decent career dealing with finance, and with IT projects, entirely because my studies taught me how to think critically and to communicate.

        3. ekstase

          I keep coming back to: we can’t predict everything in life. You have to make the best decision you can with what society is currently offering you. One thing is for sure: you can’t will yourself into a “smart,secure life,” if there is such a thing, by doing stuff you absolutely hate. I think Joseph Campbell was also saying that all the old “myths” are telling us that each life is a story. It’s going to have crap in it. When you look back, everybody has bad times and feels forced to change direction, no matter what boom times they may have inhabited.

          Art and humanities are a part of what we are. There are lots of ways to appreciate these things w/out going into debt. But if they are somebody’s calling, there is no way to change that. The degree? Who knows? Maybe in 30 years they’ll have figured out a way to impart knowledge electronically. We can’t just make cool calculated decisions designed to maximize profit; because then, what are we here for?
          I also have a feeling that a system that drives college grads 100k or more under is not going to last. So I guess what I’m saying is people should still do what they feel most called to do.
          And I think things are going to get realigned by this new generation.

        4. Jeremy Grimm

          O.K. I watched the video you pointed to. It made me wonder about the common stereotype Humanities majors and the general public seems to have regarding engineers. While there is some truth in stereotypes they are a rough fit to individuals. The college I attended required me to take courses in the humanities. Actually — I did better in those courses than I did when I started my major in engineering. While I grant that many of the engineering students I was in classes with were indeed odd birds I didn’t notice they were any odder in degree or number than many of the humanities majors I knew or attended classes with.

          One commenter responding to one of my comments yesterday noted many friends who were underemployed matriculated philosophy majors. I remember a suite mate who majored in Anthropology and had already determined his best course of action upon graduation was to become an insurance salesman. My daughter has many friends who on obtaining their B.A. in the humanities found work in retail or as servers in restaurants. One friend of my son’s located a job at Lenscrafters with his B.S. in chemical engineering and I had the impression he wasn’t working on new formulas for making lens plastics.

          Sales and marketing jobs have always paid better than most technical and white-collar desk jobs. Until recent times a smart person trained in the Humanities could fill those jobs if they had the knack for selling. I am afraid many of these jobs now require a specialized degree and/or more than a little experience working in the very particular product area doing sales or marketing.

          To cut to the chase — I am not a humanities hater as the article suggests but as a dad I have a problem with the price tag for any sort of college studies. Neither STEM degrees nor Humanities degrees seem in much demand. As for the suggestion that somehow humanities majors are better at dealing with people — I see that as another stereotype best fitting those who succeed with a training in the humanities. There were plenty of strange humanities majors where I went to college. [The comment to the article on the link-site about Derrida and the jargon in the humanities and the abilities of humanists to grasp and work with complex concepts hit a nerve. My son was completely cured of any interest in reading and classes on writing by a high school English teacher (M.A. and head of the high school English department and later let go for reasons unknown) who slavishly applied deconstruction to English literature.]

          I recall a little lesson a guy I met at college offered about the difference between Duke and my school. He took advantage of an exchange program between Duke and my school to attend Duke as a student from a state college. He said the difference between a graduate from our state college engineering program learned how to execute a difficult technical skill — so did a graduate from Duke. The difference lay in how the the public school graduate and the Duke graduate communicated with their boss. At a business party the public school graduate would use face time with the boss to fly a technical idea up the flag pole — the Duke graduate would ask about the boss’s golf game and how his daughter was doing at Brown. while sipping on his Scotch and showing proper deference.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I advised my kids that they either need to be at the very forefront of innovation, or else doing something that caters to the super-rich.
            My first son is getting his Ph.D in bio-informatics, and my other son is aiming to be a super-yacht captain.
            I’d say if your job can be commodified, offshored, and/or automated then the risks are high

      1. Katharine

        Maybe the most important thing you can give them is your honesty, starting with what you have said here. The world has changed in ways you didn’t and couldn’t anticipate, and you don’t have answers. You can offer conversation if they want it, encouragement, moral support, some finite amount of material assistance consistent with your circumstances, but not answers. They too will have to find their own way. They would have had to anyway, but that’s a bit more painfully obvious now.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you. I have followed the path your advice suggests. The painfully obvious as you put it wounds my heart thinking of what my children face compared to the relative ease of the world I enjoyed.

          I am retired now and discovered a love for art and in particular for glass. I have the time and limited means to pursue this love. It may come as a surprise — my engineering background is proving very helpful and in certain ways fruitful in my pursuit of art. Humanities students like to beat on those in STEM. Instead it were much better to add new Muses to the nine and make peace between the waring Muses.

          1. Katharine

            Being able to make beautiful glass sounds highly rewarding, and perhaps this twist in your life may be an evidence for your children that a path doesn’t have to be fixed and strange benefits may grow out of things they thought had other purposes. Best wishes to them and you!

      2. Rhondda

        If I was a young’un, I’d learn to master some kind of “appropriate technologies” like those home-scaled refuse and nightsoil-generated methane gas ‘bubble’ repositories linked here a while back, high-end carpentry and/or the plumbing trade, with an emphasis on creative re-use of greywater. And I’d read, read, read. I can see the value of college in our current credential system, but if I had it to do over again, I don’t think I’d do it. I’d make and fix things. Real things.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Excellent advice also — I believe the future will need the skills you describe. I think the Archdruid’s advice in his book “Green Wizardry” captures a good beginning in describing the skills our children and their children will need. The problem lies in the time and effort it takes to learn these skills and the uncertain moment when they will become critical. I have advised learning along these lines to my children — but they need to worry about paying next month’s rent.

          I can’t say I regret my college education — then again — it didn’t cost more than I could afford on a modest part-time job with a little help from my parents. The things I learned in college have not proven especially useful — though the degree did provide a nice certification — but it quenched my thirst to learn and stimulated my thirst to learn more and more broadly. I have talked with young people in the classes I took and also talked with my children and their friends without discovering in them any indications that they derive the same fulfillment from their studies that I did and continue to enjoy.

          I need to learn making and fixing things — we all do.

          1. Katharine

            I saw an article a couple of weeks ago at greekreporter.com (sorry no link) about a group formed to share skills and make things last longer. I think the range was broad, broken china perhaps and computers definitely. They are ahead of us on this, being pushed by necessity. We could teach each other too (ironically, in a bit of role reversal, a relative just recently taught her mother how to can spaghetti sauce) and relearn some economical skills our ancestors used routinely.

        2. Waldenpond

          That’s what we advised one…. he didn’t like college so we advised learning skills to maintain your own home. Now he can lay floors, do basic plumbing and currently has decent pay doing wiring. Our neighbor is a retired master carpenter and our high school offers it’s shop to adults in the evenings but he’s considering restoring motorcycles as he likes the thought of learning welding and wiring.

      3. cwaltz

        I tried to teach my kids to seek balance in all things and to base their decisions on their life priorities keeping in mind that you may have to sacrifice one thing to have another.

        It’s going to mean different things for different kids though.

        My oldest has a different strategy(he works the minimum and compartmentalizes social activities, he makes a decent salary and is adeptly climbing the ladder at work) then my second who also has a different strategy,(my second works two jobs, one which she mainly has because she is “friends” with the owner, she’s the kind of kid who knows everybody and is pretty much liked by many, her pay sucks but she has the type of schedule she likes and picks and chooses her hours) her strategy is different then my third(who unfortunately has to deal with an extra layer of bullshit) who I’ve been reminding needs to prioritize health.

        None of them are in debt which has been helpful in ensuring they have options. Two of them are pretty much self supporting(they live outside of home and pay their own bills). None of them attended college since college would have meant debt. If they go to school, it will be thanks to the money they earned at their entry level positions or in the case of the oldest, thanks to the company he works for who reimburses for education(he’s no longer entry level.)

        My guidance to you would be help each child figure out what is most important to them and emphasize that the money aspect, while important, is only part of the equation.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Neither of my children attended college or really wanted to. After high school they were nearly cured of all intellectual curiosity which I regard as quite an accomplishment for the relatively expensive public school systems in my state. I remember my children asking all sorts of questions when they were little — but they learned.

          Your suggestion not to emphasize the money aspect is something I can promote with examples from my own relatively well-paid but boring work. I took my daughter to work on one of those days employers used to push for. After looking around at my shabby office and watching the work I did she quickly decided she wanted nothing to do it. My son took his guidance from her and the kinds of things I studied or spoke about when I was home. Your suggestion not to emphasize money strikes a melancholy chord for me given the efforts my children must make for the money they need for a living and more money than that seems much more the subject of dreams and impossibilities for them in this world.

  5. Jim Haygood

    “In May 2016, rolling averages for tax revenues went negative,” says Mosler (quoted above).

    Since then, though, the quarterly growth rate of an important subset of tax revenues — withholding taxes, which are available on a more timely basis — soared from 2.5% in May to nearly 6.5% in August. Chart:


    Absent smoking gun evidence to the contrary, the default assumption remains that the US economy is muddling through.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    “Grifters gotta grift” indeed.

    The aide to Bill Clinton said that the former president “personally pays the costs over and above what is provided for by GSA,” adding that Clinton’s contribution “far exceeds the $96,000 provided by GSA.”

    The key reason for adding staffers to the GSA payroll, according to two people familiar with the Clintons’ staffing arrangements, was that each employee became eligible for full federal employee benefits, including health and life insurance and pensions. The two people familiar with Bill Clinton’s staffing said the employees on his GSA payroll almost never received benefits from either the Clinton Foundation or the CESC.

    So, does that mean that, in theory, clinton could pay 96,000 “employees” $1 each, and they would all become “eligible for full federal employee benefits, including health and life insurance and pensions?”

    And soon there may be TWO of them.

    1. Pat

      Words fail.

      Although I do have to object to Politico’s reference to the Clinton Foundation:

      But even as the Clintons got rich and grew their foundation into a $2 billion organization credited with major victories in the fights against childhood obesity and AIDS…

      I admit it is minor compared to the scale of the grift on taxpayers detailed in the rest of the report, but I want to know who credits the organization with those non-existent major victories. Once you accept that the Foundation itself is a grift, the fact that tax payers are paying for the benefits of so many of their closest employees to maximize their profits from that grift…

  7. Roger Smith

    Politico…h my god.

    So, while millions were losing their homes to foreclosure, facing tougher and tougher living situations, pinching pennies, getting second and third jobs, foregoing medical procedures, dying, etc… etc…

    Good old [rich] Slick Willy and his rich pals were bending the taxpayers over backwards to the tune of 16 million. Absolutely unbelievable.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      At some point in the not-too-distant future, “clinton supprt” will need to become a line item in the federal “budget.”

      They’re like boomerang millenials who can’t get out of their parents’ basement.

      1. Roger Smith

        True welfare queens. They are examples of the individuals we often call super-predators. They have no conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.

      2. reslez

        The Clintons are the opposite of boomerang millennials. The Clintons have the ability to leave the taxpayers’ basement and no desire to do so.

      1. reslez

        Some promises are more equal than others.

        Promises to workers = worthless garbage
        Promises to bankers = precious gold

    2. Starveling

      Make the Clintons pay it back at the standard prison wage, an odd .15 an hour or so. With the two of them, Chelsea, and their sea of hangers-on, it should only take a century or two of hard labor.

        1. aab

          I feel like he’s actually getting worse — that Clinton’s brazenness has inspired him to match her.

          Is it that, or just that I found better news sources? (Better news sources being mostly NC and Twitter…)

          1. pretzelattack

            heh, yeah nc is my main news source now. i think i used to be less cynical. someday, i will get around to twitting, or tweeting (shakes lawn chair at kids).

            1. aab

              Leftist Twitter in all its tributaries is delightful. I heartily recommend diving in now, while it is still relatively uncensored. That door is closing fast.

        1. anti-social scientist

          Are we really getting into the business of calling government employee pensions “tax-payer money” and then concluding we’ve oversight rights on how pensioners use them? If so, they aren’t pensions. They’re conditional grants. Sorry.

          1. Fiver

            You must be the one on ‘the left’ that Rahm was talking about – good grief, read the article/story being referenced by the comments.

  8. Jeremy Grimm

    Re: Wal-Mart cuts to back office jobs. — The union should grab a few of these people at each locale and create some new augments for the famed Wal-Mart logistics. There are plenty of hobby hardware makers and programmers with the skills needed to come up with the hardware, software and methods for some very creative ways to alter the reporting of sales and inventory levels. There are plenty of disgruntled insiders to help.

    1. cwaltz

      It’s weird because it says they are laying them off in the same breath it says they are asking them if they want to relocate to jobs with more face time with customers so it may be more about Walmart giving those back office folks a pay cuts (since I suspect that those customer support jobs don’t pay as well as those back office jobs- Walmart pays you based on position- for example a customer service person makes more than a cashier, a cashier makes more than a stocker) It’s been a number of years since I worked there(2000-2003) and they’ve changed their model some but I doubt it has changed that much. The store I worked at only had a handful of people who had jobs that were strictly “office jobs” they involved accounting(cash office), claims (handling returns and dealing with manufacture defects) and human resources(who strictly dealt with training, pay, and anything having to do with employees.) The floor jobs were interchangeable. It wasn’t uncommon if it was quiet to ask a cashier to stock, push carts, clean restrooms or even work the customer service desk or layaway(who happen to make more then a basic cashier.)

  9. dk

    Paper is very hard to hack.

    OMFG please get a grip and lay off the magical thinking. Paper ballots are (and have always been) easily defaced and invalidated, or “lost” or destroyed. Post election per-vote verification (was my vote counted?) is more difficult. I’m not saying paper is bad, but it’s no panacea. I’ve participated in recounts that went to the paper ballot level, and see fraud attempts, some of which succeed IMO.

    We’re where talking corruption; there’s a will there’s a way.

    1. Pat

      Compared to the scale it can be done on now…not even close.

      I miss the lever machines in NY. Could they be hacked? Of course. But it was a much more extensive, harder situation than we have currently. And it included actual physical access. Now? Please….

      1. EGrise

        The scale is one of the key aspects here, isn’t it? Chicago-style vote fraud in the paper era required *lots* of people in on the shenanigans, and that’s for just one city. Difficult if not impossible to organize on the national level. OTOH electronic voting fraud requires a fairly small team for nationwide results.

        Paper ballots are not a panacea, but rather that they’re more difficult to defraud on a large scale.

        1. dk

          On a large scale, it’s election fraud, not voting fraud.

          And it’s actually easier to defraud on large scale when paper is used, because:
          1) large scale fraud doesn’t happen at the individual ballot level, it’s done at aggregation levels,
          2) the costs (time/personnel/resources) of retabulation of paper ballots grow prohibitive with volume.

          And I’m 100% for paper ballots, but the majority of frauds are done independent of ballot media, and succeed despite, if not actually through, the use of paper ballots.

          Paper ballots can be under-supplied, to inhibit voting (Arizona and other, 2016 Dem Primary), so on that factor alone they actually facilitate one method of election usurpation.

          Paper ballot counts are constantly being corrupted and suborned:
          hearings on the 2016 Dem Primaries in Arizona https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2togSItA77E
          Chicago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSNTauWPkTc
          Richard Hayse’s investigation of election rigging in Ohio 2004 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nS3AF4bJ1U

    2. Jess

      Yes, but when we talk here about “paper ballots” it is generally in the context of:

      a) Ballots deposited into transparent containers in public view and constantly monitored by live video surveillance from multiple angles.

      b) Ballots then counted by hand at the polling place prior to transport (out of public sight) to any central election facility. (Counting also done in public with video surveillance which is stored for a reasonable period of time to facilitate recounts, certification of the vote, etc.)

      1. River

        I don’t see the problem with the hand counting at the polling place. That’s what we do in the Great White North. I worked at a polling station during the Federal election, the one before last when Harper got a majority.

        Polls closed, we both counted the votes at our desk (I think there were 7 desks, so 14 people counting the votes they collected). If the count differed we’d both recount. Gathered by party and by people who “defaced” the ballot i.e. I disagree with all the parties. Then report the number to two scrutineers who came in. Told them the total we both got, did a recount. If they were the same. Sealed the votes then I think they were taken to be counted again.

        Even the ballots were pencil filled with the candidate names, and a write in spot for other parties.

        Pretty streamlined and we know the result the night of the election.

        1. aab

          Working the polls in the California primary was a soul-crushing experience in many ways. But one thing that gets under-discussed, I think, is how complexity BY ITSELF facilitates fraud. California had an INCREDIBLY complicated system with a dozen (IIRC) different ballots depending on your party or if you were NPP and were allowed to vote in a party. Not to dredge all that up again, but what was supposedly designed to protect the integrity of the ballot process did the exact opposite. My group spent HOURS trying to reconcile the procedures we were supposed to use to guarantee that no ballots were messed with, and we couldn’t do it. There were too many ways for innocent mistakes to make their way in — mistakes that did not result in an illegal ballot or voter or whatever, but screwed up the very, very complicated recordkeeping of the unnecessarily overcomplicated records.

          So eventually, we had to give up on reconciling the records. I then carried the voted ballots on my lap to the centralized location where the civil service workers took over from us volunteers. And then waited another hour just idling in the parking lot for our car to get up to the front so we could hand over the ballots and leave. It would have been very, very easy in the many hours after the polls closed to change a meaningful number of those ballots, and the recordkeeping was already such a mess I doubt anything would have come of it. People think that scanner box is locked, but it’s not. It’s basically ballot safety theater. Once the polls close, the box opens up and the sausage is made.

          You know how I know paper ballots, counted by hand, in public, same night, same place works? Because it’s how the British elite got the result it did not want with Brexit.

    3. redleg

      Occam’s razor applies. Hand counted paper ballots is the least complex way to conduct an election, and therefore the method that is the easiest to test.

  10. Roy

    OK, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate NC. The alternate reality…

    BUT… we are wallowing in our own sh!it. A culture without vision.

    Please incorporate a NEW category… Moving forward.

    1. cwaltz

      I don’t see this as a culture without vision.

      I’d say there is plenty of vision and the larger problem is that there is no consensus on a game plan to how to pursue that vision. We haven’t reached a point where everyone is collaborating.

      it’s more like a marketplace with competing ideas than a culture per se(since it’s economics blog with capitalism in it’s name it’s pretty appropriate I guess.)

  11. ekstase

    “I think it’s interesting and always good to have more ancient genomes,”

    Really? So these scientists dug up a Medieval gravesite; extracted DNA from bones; used it to isolate, preserve and study the thing which caused the Black Plague. I’m just trying to imagine the conversation that got them the funding for this study. Not that it necessarily is going to lead to horrible things but:

    “So you say this is completely 100% safe, right?” (Pen in air, ready to sign off.)

    “Well, okay there’s no 100% on anything, really. It’s a new thing we’re doing. This could be the beginning of some amazing new research!”

    (Pen slightly lowered.) Oh. Well. Let’s just say something went horribly, horribly wrong. Your name would be the one on the study, right?”

    “Uhm, yes, I guess that’s true.”

    (Signing enthusiastically.) Great. Let’s make it happen!”

    1. Jeotsu

      There is a practical and ethical conundrum here.

      Biochemistry is a fiendishly complicated endeavor (though I might have bias in this opinion, being a PhD Biochemist/Biophysicist). We cannot a priori really know how or why most molecular system works. That is, we cannot start with a blank sheet of paper and draw up the machinery of a “safe virus” rather than a “deadly virus”, or its molecular equivalent.

      So if we want to understand why a particular disease was deadly (and through that study hope to find avenues we can exploit to treat the disease and ameliorate its effects) we also can uncover HOW to make diseases more deadly.

      In human history it used to be the “Knowledge is dangerous” mostly applied to issues like “hey, buddy, you have human rights! Why not overthrow your oppressors” Freedom, civil rights, democracy. Those sorts of things.

      Now we have a situation where we have tens of thousands of people with the knowledge that would allow them to do great harm. It is a big social conundrum. On the physics side the danger is relatively limited. It takes a large nation-state to make a nuke. But there are lots of us out there who could collect, isolate, propagate, produce, sporulate and then weaponize anthrax. Or make an “improved” smallpox. Or worse things I probably shouldn’t mention lest I give someone an bad idea. :)

      I attended a small bio-chemical terrorism conference pre 9/11, and one of the US mil people there made the observation “we’re lucky that the bad guys like explosions.” You could do much more harm, far more easily (no, I won’t mention how!). People are working behind the scenes on these threats, but they don’t get discussed in public much due to the whole headless-chicken panic thingie. But the next time you are in a subway or other big transport hub and see a weird unlabeled box on the wall…. it may well be a sensor. Sniffing for bad things.

      (And designing such sensors is a fun challenge! You are allowed an exactly zero false positive rate, as that would cause a mass panic, but that’s another story.)

      1. ekstase

        This is interesting, but not all that reassuring. I get this image of secret meetings that have been going on for decades now, between scientists and the government. (That is what you are saying, right?) I just get the sense that our species is not evolved enough to be able to handle isolating the Black Plague. Perhaps I’m underestimating humankind. At least in the arts you don’t have this particular moral weight – the worst you can do is maybe persuade someone.

        1. Jeotsu

          At least in the biomedical sciences ethics courses are pretty standard. Of course with a population of tens of thousands of such scientists some are… better than others ethically. And the corrosive effect of money has certainly taken its toll on too many drug efficacy studies. Plus the well documented problems with peer review when combined with the relentless push for publication.

          I was once involved in the interview of a fellow from Russia (FUSSR, actually) who was looking to do a post-doc at our facility. He had done some really top-notch PhD research… in aerosolizing e. coli. Which only has one real application: bioweapons. So the knowledge is out there. At least he was looking to make the jump to antibody based human medicines (and we were interested in his skills as we were working on an aerosol inhaler for these drugs for easy self-application) and away from war weapons. But honestly in the USSR he may have not had a lot of choices about his PhD research. I had a friend in the US who was offered a full scholarship to get her PhD in human genetics. She turned the money down because she did not want to assist with whatever they wanted from her research. It wouldn’t have been good.

          The bio-sciences have a pretty good record of trying to be self aware of the possible dangers of the technologies we research (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asilomar_Conference_on_Recombinant_DNA). So we are trying. More self-awareness than many fields, I like to think. :)

          To my mind the most dangerous possible breakthroughs are not the bio-weapons (since we’ve got that one in the bag already. For when you no longer care about who the winner is, just how many survivors there are), rather it is longevity. I can see no biological/biochemical reason why we shouldn’t be able to extend life spans. Possibly radically. It is maybe the only tech where I would consider burning my own notes if I made such a breakthrough. The implications for societies (Presidents for Life, income inequality, social stratification) and the environment (human population curve goes ballistic) that then leads to ecocide is impossible to ignore.

          Yeah, I’d love to have an extended youth full of health and vigor. But as always personal “rational” decisions when scaled up to societies can lead to messy disaster.

          1. crittermom

            Jeotsu–Very interesting and educational comments.
            You’ve certainly earned my respect. Thank you for your input.

          2. Fiver

            The dilemma is fundamental. Science confers power and power always corrupts. The history of the Bomb is notable in this regard. Quite apart from the fact that the US had an overwhelming advantage in the bogus ‘race’ for a Bomb, there is the rather disturbing fact that a few of the many top minds working on the Bomb believed there was a real, though small, possibility that an actual nuclear detonation could start an uncontrolled event, possibly a global atmospheric firestorm, possibly some other form of catastrophic chain reaction. The others thought not, but they could no more prove it than Mr. Bean.

            Now, this was at a time when the decision-making was concentrated at the very highest levels and the war was already being won (and very much along the lines US war planners had anticipated well before the outbreak of hostilities). Nevertheless, both the lead project scientists and the military took it upon themselves to roll the dice with planet Earth.

            I would’ve thought it impossible to top that singularly insane act of recklessness, but here we are in 2016 and there are now so many mammoth cats out of the bag, all duly noted by properly alarmed experts in their respective fields, it may well be out of the reach even of Divine Intervention to keep us, not some enemy, us, from flicking that one switch, integrating that one system or inserting that one gene we ought to have had the fundamental smarts to leave alone until we could prove it was safe, stable, etc. We are now so far removed from the romantic ideal of the ‘quest for knowledge’ or even ‘improving the human condition’ as opposed to the naked pursuit of power it is incumbent on the entire class of scientists/technologists to take a good long look at the immense gap that has opened between that power and what now passes for the wisdom to use it.

        2. crittermom

          “Perhaps I’m underestimating humankind.”

          I think the problem is not humankind as a whole.
          I believe the problem is that a small percentage of those ‘humans’ are deciding for the majority, and their motivation is not for any ‘betterment of mankind’, but only to ‘better’ themselves.

          And yes, I’m referring mainly to those currently in power or waiting in the wings, as evidence.
          Their funding/support of any such research would be for very different reasons than that of the scientists or humankind, I’ve no doubt.

          As Jeotsu stated, “There is a practical and ethical conundrum here.”

          And it’s being repeatedly proven every day that those with the power (money) have no ethics.

          When combined with advances in science, it’s a scary combination.

  12. albrt

    I think I can wait to donate to “Our Revolution” until Bernie is done supporting Clinton, then we will see what is left of the organization and his credibility.

    1. Arizona Slim

      As mentioned earlier, I signed up to host a Tucson watching party for the Brand New Congress rollout. A couple of evenings ago, someone from BNC called, and I had trouble hearing the phone message. And my headphones were at work. (Darn that hearing loss!)

      Any-hoo, I got to work yesterday morning, clamped the headphones around my ears, and listened to the message. It included a DC area number, in case I had any questions. As a matter of fact, I do have questions. I want to know if my household technology is adequate for hosting a watching party.

      So, I called that number, which went right to the BNC call team voice mail. Still awaiting a callback. Not sure that I’m going to get one, because of this:


      Looks like one of my fellow Tucsonans has the watching party organized already.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Update: Just got another phone message from BNC. And, yes, I’m at work. Got those headphones right here.

        The gist of the message was that I need to have some sort of big screen device for showing the live stream. Don’t have one of those at mi casa.

        Which brings me to my next topic: Organizing a Tucson meetup for Naked Capitalism. Anyone up for that?

        1. Jim Haygood

          “I need to have some sort of big screen device for showing the live stream. Don’t have one of those at mi casa.”

          That’s like not being on Facebook, Slim: highly suspicious.

          Ted Kaczynski didn’t have a big screen either. :-0

        2. River

          Surprised they didn’t offer you low-rate financing to purchase a suitable t.v. Sub-prime boob-tube loans, once the auto ones no longer pan out.

  13. MtnLife

    The Mysterious Private Police Force That’s Killing People In The Nation’s Capital

    Armed quasi judicial rent-a-cops.

    Procedural failures also complicate the fact-finding process. Oftentimes, officers aren’t interviewed by detectives right away, meaning they have time to come up with false accounts of what happened and manipulate investigations before they’ve even begun. In many cases, detectives stall to allow police departments to conduct their own probes first.

    Still, most police departments are subject to public information laws that require them to turn over at least some records to anyone who wants them. Attorneys, investigators and journalists rely on this access to expose misconduct.

    Special police officer activity is even harder to track. As is the case with the two involved in Smith’s homicide, official investigations are conducted behind closed doors. And because they technically work for private companies, special officers and their employers aren’t legally obligated to respond to public records requests.

    1. fresno dan

      September 1, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      On Monday, November 2, she reached out twice — in the afternoon and evening — to no avail. Within minutes of the second try, two internal affairs officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) appeared in front of her house. One was holding a picture of a young black man.
      As soon as Beverly opened the door, the officers asked if the man in the photo was her son.
      “They said, ‘I’m sorry to inform you, but your son was in an altercation with two special police officers and he passed,’” Beverly said, sitting on her plush living room couch in Anacostia, a neighborhood in the southeast part of Washington, D.C. She had no idea what they meant at the time, and asked if Alonzo was stabbed or shot.
      “They said, ‘No Ms. Smith. All we know is that he was in an altercation with two special police officers and he passed. But we want you to know, Ms. Smith, that we (MPD) didn’t have anything to do with it.’”
      Videos captured on MPD body cameras offer a grainy version of what happened next. Special police officers handcuffed Smith and kneed him in the back, before an MPD officer directed them to make sure he was breathing. When they finally attempted CPR, an unidentified officer said, “All I know is that security had to subdue him, when he was under the influence of PCP.”

      Smith was transported to a local hospital, where he died later that morning. Six weeks later, an autopsy report conducted by the city’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. According to the examiner, Smith’s body was covered in abrasions, chest contusions, and showed internal hemorrhaging in his neck and back. Ultimately, the report says he was killed by a “sudden cardiac arrest” and compression of the torso. Contradicting the special officers at the scene, the examiner concluded there was no PCP in his system, but the 27-year-old did suffer from “acute cocaine toxicity while restrained.” Beverly disputes that particular finding, and has since asked for an independent examination.
      Time and time again officers who use any type of force lie about their actions to investigators and superiors, in order to avoid disciplinary action. Such was the case when Officer Jason Van Dyke claimed Laquan McDonald lunged at police with a knife in Chicago, when Officer Michael Slager accused a fleeing Walter Scott of reaching for his firearm in Charleston, and when Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia lied about Sandra Bland assaulting him in Prairie View, Texas. Police accounts are hard to contradict if there aren’t recordings of what happened, and officers regularly turn off their cameras or destroy videos after an incident has occurred.
      Procedural failures also complicate the fact-finding process. Oftentimes, officers aren’t interviewed by detectives right away, meaning they have time to come up with false accounts of what happened and manipulate investigations before they’ve even begun. In many cases, detectives stall to allow police departments to conduct their own probes first.

      I’m actually surprised they waited all the way to the end of the paragraph to say they know nothing – they make Sergeant Shultz look like the paragon of responsibility and on the ball situational awareness ….

      On the other hand, they seem to have learned well from the police on how to make up stories that fit the narrative….”PCP” is all you have to say, and weeks or months later, the fact that there was no PCP is down the memory hole….

      And of course, the king’s guards are immune from consequences

  14. Paid Minion

    So the truckers are trying to jack up rates on the shippers, and/or drop the threat of “supply disruptions”.

    Good luck with that. All bringing the subject up is going to do is have the shippers start looking at the alternative.

    A bunch of the shippers used to have their own in-house trucks, before the trucking companies laid on the better-cheaper-faster propaganda, and got rid of all of their in-house drivers.

    It wouldn’t take much to bring it back in house. Or buy the trucks, and hire 1099s with the bait of higher pay and steady routes/hours.

    Karma…..it’s a bitch

  15. clinical wasteman

    The two (i.e. diseducation — a real word in Italian! — and ‘soft skills’) are closely related. In the UK and Europe at least, the ‘soft skills emergency’ warning is played on continuous loop by employer lobby groups and their Human Resources (now ‘People Management’ or ‘Engagement’) consultants, while post-Bologna Process education policy is all about boosting national Competitiveness by making schools and colleges ’employment-focused’. Which, it turns out, is less a matter of advanced specialist skills than of compulsory modules on ‘workplace culture’, ‘confidence’, ‘networking’ and ‘presentation’ — i.e. ‘soft skills’ or competitive conformism — everywhere. Often with mandatory internships involved. There’s still some ‘debate’ in the UK about whether or not to bother teaching elementary schoolkids coding, but there are arts faculties whose students are required to use F*cebook to improve their ‘social skills’.
    Naturally, it’s not just at graduate level that employers want candidates properly schooled in servility, able to swagger and simper in the right combination at the right time. A sales clerk or a data entry temp or even a workfare thrift store ‘volunteer’ is as likely as a middle manager to be asked to rank herself on a scale of 1 to 5 for ‘inspirational leadership’, with examples please. In the welfare system (run in the UK by the likes of Serco, Capita, G4S), ‘soft skills’ become ‘basic skills’, but it’s the same thing. A factory worker laid off after 30 years or an 18-year-old turned down by office cleaning agencies may be told to ‘retrain’ as a hotel porter, but not before mandatory, full-time ‘training’ in ‘attitude’, ‘work ethic’, ‘positive thinking’ etc. All the soft and social ‘skills’ of supplication. The business lobby cries out even louder about the ‘skills gap’ at this level, because their lowest-waged workers are more likely than the Aspirational part of the same ‘age cohort’ to convert their ‘bad attitude’ and ‘poor communication’ into actual troublemaking.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘post-Bologna Process’

      That’s an evocative term, easily adaptable to the US milieu with a change in spelling: post-baloney process [as in the aftermath of political conventions].

      And no, I’m not homophonic. ;-)

  16. Paid Minion

    One nice thing about this defacto depressions. Many young people have adapted to the idea/reality of being “poor”.

    Why worry about getting a degree, or developing “soft skills”, when the job doesn’t pay any more that a McJob that requires none?

    The twenty year olds I know are pretty cynical about the motives of their employers, and are much more likely to bolt if a (even marginally) better opportunity comes up.

    Has anybody ever actually seen an employer try to talk someone into staying? Pre-emptively review pay/benefit scales, or actually listen to exit interviews and implement changes. Or even offer someone more money to stay? (Not that many would, if they are at the point of looking/accepting another job elsewhere). a

    About every employer I’m aware of thinks that they are offering “competitive salaries and benefits”, no matter how many people “vote with their feet”.

    1. cwaltz

      It always amuses me when business gnashes it’s teeth about loyalty.

      These kids learned from the best guys. If you are going to throw them out like tissue paper to save a buck on labor costs after 17 years of working why should they be loyal to you(and they grew up watching Gen X and boomers experience this)?

      Relationships are two way streets. If the people at the top and the investment class are going to govern with their own self interest being given a priority then they should be prepared to understand that those at the bottom will react accordingly. If your priority at the top is YOUR self interest, then my job at the bottom is going to be to look out for MY OWN self interest.

    2. hunkerdown

      I remember reading a bit of career advice: Never accept counteroffers to a resignation. After you have done so, the employer is still on notice that they should find a less volatile employee. They can still be searching for one while you’re whistling past the graveyard, geeked about your raise, and they regain the upper hand on coordinating and timing your departure.

      “Competitive salary and benefits” means they expect you to compete for them, in a race to the bottom.

      1. PWC, Raleigh

        Completely agree with that career advice to “Never accept a counteroffer to your resignation.” You resigned for a reason; Don’t ignore your best advocate: Yourself.

        May I add, “As soon as you realize that your gig is a bad-deal for you, endeavor to move on to a next opportunity at the earliest workable point, because “When somebody shows you who they really are, believe them the first time” + the only way to win with Crazy is to not play in the first-place + The Iron Law of Institutions.”

  17. JeffC

    SpaceX explosion… I live about 14 miles from the SpaceX site as the crow flies, and the explosion shook the house with an impressive bang like a hefty sonic boom or a serious lightning bolt immediately overhead. I ran outside to see if a huge thunderstorm had appeared without warning.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      They’ve been remarkably quick to blame the launchpad, not the rocket. Getting the narrative in early.

    2. Pavel

      Apparently it had an Israeli satellite on board as well as a Facebook satellite.

      WTF is Facebook doing launching satellites??? Sounds rather creepy.

      1. Pavel

        I stand corrected… I guess. It is part of a venture to provide internet access to Africa. Though I’m not sure I’d want Facebook to be “sponsoring” my internet access. Does one need a FB account to use it?

        Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg struck a bitter tone in his response to the explosion of the SpaceX rocket carrying a satellite intended for use on his Internet.org project in Africa.

        Writing on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg said: “As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.”

        The accidental explosion of the Falcon 9 rocket early on Thursday morning – referred to as an “anomaly” by SpaceX engineers – destroyed both the rocket and its cargo: the AMOS-6 satellite, which Facebook had planned to deploy to provide internet coverage to parts of Africa.

        “Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well,” Zuckerberg added. “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”

        Contrary to Zuckerberg’s description, the satellite did not belong to Facebook. In October 2015, Facebook partnered with Eutelsat, a French satellite company, to lease the broadband capability of the AMOS-6, which was built by Israeli company Spacecom.

        Zuckerberg laments loss of Internet.org satellite in SpaceX rocket explosion

        On a side note, given Israeli hacks into computer networks, devices, and Iranian nuclear plants (Stuxnet, anyone?) I wouldn’t trust them to do any IT work for my company.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          LOL Free Facebook for Africa LOL
          After they completely sh*t the bed in India and sparked a grass-roots uprising that resulted in legislation that boxed them out, I guess they thought they’d try The Dark Continent next. Looks like it will stay “dark” a little longer, good for them.

          1. hunkerdown

            I suppose you’re not counting the Nigerian and Ghanaian scammers that have been using the network assigned to Africa. Or the very popular Libyan TLD that was supposed to have been reserved for Libyans until some mooks in marketing decided a few years ago that their latest batch of baby-spew company names should be made of adverbs and English adverbs are more tradeable than some nationalist leader’s national identity.

            It’s always the mooks in marketing providing places to park unused fever dreams.

        2. fresno dan

          September 1, 2016 at 5:13 pm

          Facef*ck – the Matrix with much, much better public relations shills….and at least everyone in the Matrix seemed to have a job.

        3. bdy

          ” . . . our mission of connecting everyone . . .” brings Lt. Scheisskopf to mind. Zuckerberg dreams of sinking a nickel alloy bolt into the hip of every consumer, then stringing us all together with copper wire.

        4. Rhondda

          I hadn’t heard of Aquila.

          With Aquila, we’ve designed a new aircraft architecture, one that can support staying in the air for months at a time. Aquila is solar powered, and when launched, it will create a 50-km communications radius for up to 90 days, beaming a signal down to the people in that area. This signal will be received by small towers and dishes that will then convert it into a Wi-Fi or LTE network that people can connect to with their cellphones and smartphones.

          To make all of that possible, we had to make the plane really big and really light. Aquila has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 airplane but weighs a third as much as an electric car. The monocoque wing is made from a cured carbon fiber that is stronger than steel for the same mass of material. Before it’s cured, the material is flexible, so it can be molded into the right shape.

          Aquila will fly at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet during the day — above commercial air traffic and above the weather. The air at that altitude is thin, about 5 percent that of sea level, so we utilized a high aspect ratio wing and an undercambered airfoil in the design to optimize its lift-to-drag ratio. During the day, the aircraft will fly at 90,000 feet to maximize its ability to charge its solar cells. At night, it will glide down to 60,000 feet, taking advantage of gravitational potential energy to consume less power.

          1. Ted

            And there it will fly, in the sky, with no help from you or I. Until some random Thursday when it crashes to the earth, leaving Marky Z high and dry.

            1. Pavel

              Would that we were back in Auden’s simpler times:

              In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
              Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
              Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
              But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
              As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
              Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
              Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
              had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

  18. Paid Minion

    Having some experience with getting screwed out of money (and a job) by private-equity / new Economy shysters, there are red flags to watch out for.

    -Beware of company “reorganizations”, where the company is split, and the income all goes to one side, while the debits/expenditures are in the other. (The Debit Side = The guys who will be holding the Sh#t-bag)

    -A lot of money can be stolen in 60-90 days. Bill the customers for services, stop paying the vendors who supplied the services, and it will be 60-90 days (at least) before you get cut off. Then keep the fact you aren’t paying your bills under wraps, hire a new bunch of vendors looking for business, and start the clock again.

    – When you have accrued vacation/sick leave/PTO, and you get the letter offering a payout vs. transferring the hours to the “new” company, TAKE THE MONEY! In fact, TAKE THE MONEY! any time you get a chance to put it under your direct control. Roll the 401K into an IRA, DO NOT roll it into the new company, or let it sit at the old company. You can always take a week off unpaid, and use the cash-out money then.

    – Talk to your vendors account receivables people. If you are getting calls from them because suddenly your company is a “late-pay”, or worse, have put your company on COD status, avoid the rush; start looking for a new job. This applies double to “critical” vendors, the companies supplying can’t-operate-without-them parts/services.

    – Discontinue/reduce all of your payroll deductions, including tax withholding. In my case, they deducted income taxes for three months, then filed for bankruptcy a day before the end of the quarter, when all of the tax payments are due.

    -Call your insurance provider directly, and verify that the company policy is now current. Ditto any life insurance. The last thing you want to find out is that your coverage was cancelled four months ago, due to non-payment of premiums. Hopefully, if you have payroll deductions for health/life insurance, you can get them discontinued.

    – Likewise with business out-of-pocket expenses that you are reimbursed for. A zero-percent loan to your employer that will never be paid back.

    (Rumor Control had it that a pilot got nailed for $50K+ of airplane expenses on his personal CC/AmEx. Never got reimbursed. Even if someone had pity on him, he’d still have to pay the taxes on a $50K “gift”. How would you explain that to the wife? “Uhhhhh, not only am I out of a job with no severance, but I also owe $50K to AmEx, because I wanted the bonus points, but got stiffed on the reimbursement……”)

    Anything you are owed will disappear in Chapter 11. Including supposedly secure “Escrow accounts”. Forget about getting paid for accrued sick leave/PTO, or getting any kind of severance. Hell, you won’t be eligible for COBRA. And forget about complaining to any branch of law enforcement, no matter how bad you got screwed. In my case, about $750 million (by our educated guesstimate) disappeared. Number of people charged with a crime? You guessed it. ZERO. Don’t expect any help from any businesses that got robbed. They would rather just eat the loss and bury it on the balance sheet, rather than admit they were that stupid.

    Thank your Congress-garch. The stereotypical “Risk Taker/Entrepeneur/Bootstrapping Puller-upper” type is just another FreeShitArmy member. Our government subsidises eff-ups, especially “businessmen”. They are so “Valued”, that the law lets them eff people over 43 ways from Sunday, steal money left and right, then walk away from the mess they created, and start over with a new batch of rubes.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Great advice! I am very sorry if you learned any of these lessons from unhappy experience. I escaped such problems — but only through luck.

  19. Paid Minion

    Brownback now looking for ideas on how to fix school funding

    (A boot strapping REAL Republican would say “You broke it, you fix it.”


    It even gives an e-mail address for suggestions. Bake Sales? Pop bottle drives? Indentured Servitude?

    1. fresno dan

      Paid Minion
      September 1, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      “Brownback now looking for ideas on how to fix school funding”


  20. Synapsid

    Zuck gifts Pope with a drone. The lister’s comment: Probably why his rocket blew up.

    Explain comment please.

  21. Pavel

    Re the rather obvious MSM bias in favour of Hillary: I’m constantly amazed that George Stephanapoulis is allowed to cover the election — as a previous campaign aide to Bill (and Hillary) and close friend, shouldn’t he recuse himself entirely? And note that he is a donor to the Clinton Foundation.

    (Similarly why should ex-AIPAC employee Wolf Blitzer be allowed to cover Mideast affairs?)

    Bah humbug!

    1. Jess

      According to a link a FB friend just posted, Matt Lauer will moderate the first debate despite previously having been on the Clinton Foundation board.

  22. Rhondda

    Challenger Job-Cut Report, August 2016: “Jobless claims are very low as have been layoff announcements, at only 32,188 in August and among the lowest readings of the recovery”

    And yet every single one of the people I know who has lost their job (or been forced to quit) — has not been able to find another. About half a dozen people. All between 50 and 60 years old. But a wide variety of skill sets. All very experienced. Every single one of them has told me the same tale: they apply and apply…and never get even one call back or email. It’s very strange.

    1. Rhondda

      I realized one second after I hit reply that jobless claims have zero to do with joblessness/lack of available jobs.

  23. Kurt Sperry

    About every employer I’m aware of thinks that they are offering “competitive salaries and benefits”, no matter how many people “vote with their feet”.

    Supply and demand theory doesn’t apply to labor, if you can’t fill a position because you are too cheap to hire a qualified applicant, you aren’t actually too cheap to hire a qualified applicant, you are dealing with a “skills gap” or simply a position “American workers won’t do”. Or maybe it’s requiring a degree and three years of prior relevant work experience to push a mop or run a register–and then only look at applications from those who are under 30.

  24. clarky90


    A civil relationship in which one person has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another.

    Can I pose a question? Is the Democratic Party, in 2016, the Party of Modern Slavery? Consider that the undocumented, illegals pouring across the southern boarder, often become low wage and powerless; sex workers, laborers, house-help, yard workers, field hands…. traditional slave work.

    ALSO, these Twenty First Century Slaves, effectively, are used as SCABS– workers traditionally brought in as strike breakers, and to destroy worker’s wages and conditions.

    I also see the importation of plane loads of (slave ship loads of) (H2 B etc) of low wage, low condition middle scale workers as Modern Slavery. Their presence destroys the wages, conditions and job-security of the middle-classes, making them docile and easily intimidated.

    I am thinking of the mealy mouthed redefinition of “evil” as “good”; the DigitalEra NewSpeak.

    ie, it is “racist” to oppose open boarders (The free ingress of slaves)? Is not, the practice of getting children massively in debt for college tuition a new form of indentured servitude? (slavery)? Is not, the practice of getting young families massively in debt to own a home a new form of indentured servitude?…..

    Let’s call a slave a slave

    So when the Democratic Party protects and serves payday lenders, are they not the Modern Party of Slavery????

    Modern Examples of Newspeak/Doublespeak

    “rendition” transfer of suspected terrorists to foreign countries that practice torture for interrogation

    “Healthy Forests” program logging of protected wilderness areas

    “Clear Skies” initiative removing the restrictions on businesses which pollute the air

    “freedom fighter” right-wing militia member trying to overthrow elected communist/socialist regime

    “IED” bomb

    “downsize” fire employees

    “embedded” journalists controlled/censored journalists

    “regime change” overthrow

    “wet work” assassination

    “terminate; neutralize” kill

    “revenue enhancement” tax increase

    They are baffling us with BS wake up

  25. ewmayer

    More links which will likely languish in mod-limbo for 8-10 hours, but here goes:

    o California to launch retirement accounts for workers without pensions, 401(k)s – Mercury News

    o Do You Believe There is Food Price Deflation? Mish vs. Consensus | MishTalk

    The MSM touters of so-called food price deflation are analogous to those who point to recent leveling-off trends in housing prices relative to RE 2.0 bubble-peak as ‘no evidence of a bubble’. Prices double over a few years … no inflation to see here, folks, it’s all hedonically and bogus-price-proxy (e.g. OER) adjusted away. Prices then drop a few % from the bubble peak … deflation! Scary! Fed needs to do more!

    o Aero Industry Update: Waiting For Axe to Fall at Honeywell and Boeing | MishTalk

    1. cwaltz

      Heh, I’m the moderation queen.

      I responded earlier to Jeremy about the Walmart job cuts(I worked there for 3 years so I suspect this is more about pay cuts since they are offering these people jobs on the floor assisting customers and the customer oriented jobs usually pay less) and moderation ate my post. Have no idea why since I just talked about Walmart’s pay structure as it relates to jobs.


  26. fresno dan


    It all started with a rectum. About 7 years ago, Bello’s team began developing a robotic male rectum to help medical students practice prostate examinations. It’s the exam men most fear, and it’s no picnic for med students and doctors either. With their model, the researchers wanted to make it easier for both parties by helping guide students to distinguish the “hard and knobbly” feel of a cancerous prostate from the feel of a healthy one.

    That project ended up being more time-consuming than expected. Here’s how it works: a trainee puts a finger into silicone buttocks, where it slips inside a silicone thimble that is attached to robotic arms. Programmable technology creates a virtual anatomy, with variable degrees of pressure standing on for the coccyx, bladder, pelvic floor and prostate. (When a student’s finger touches the prostate, for instance, more force could generate a more rigid feel, signaling a possible carcinoma.)

    Hmmmmmm……After watching “West World” , “Terminator” , and “2001: A Space Odyssey” I don’t know if I would risk the health and safety of my phalanges to electronic sphincters OR vaginas….

    Dave: Hal and/or Halley – open the pod bay doors and while your at it, how about your sphincter or vagina as the case may be….
    Hal and/or Halley: Dave – I’m afraid I can’t do that….

    1. Buttinsky

      I knew someone who actually had a job as a … what to call it? He was practice for medical students who needed practice giving a uro-gential-rectal exam on a real human being. I don’t think a robot is ever going to be able to believably say, “That’s uncomfortable” or “That hurts.”

  27. redleg

    The spotlight is on transportation and lack of single payer?
    Public water supply and regulation should be the #1 concern. Public wastewater systems should be #2. Privatize those 2 and everything else implodes.

  28. abynormal

    did not expect a series of this kind at BuzzFeed…Hat Tip Chris Hanby
    Imagine a private, global super court that empowers corporations to bend countries to their will. Say a nation tries to prosecute a corrupt CEO or ban dangerous pollution. Imagine that a company could turn to this super court and sue the whole country for daring to interfere with its profits, demanding hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars as retribution. Imagine that this court is so powerful that nations often must heed its rulings as if they came from their own supreme courts, with no meaningful way to appeal. That it operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret. That the people who decide its cases are largely elite Western corporate attorneys who have a vested interest in expanding the court’s authority because they profit from it directly, arguing cases one day and then sitting in judgment another. That some of them half-jokingly refer to themselves as “The Club” or “The Mafia.” And imagine that the penalties this court has imposed have been so crushing — and its decisions so unpredictable — that some nations dare not risk a trial, responding to the mere threat of a lawsuit by offering vast concessions, such as rolling back their own laws or even wiping away the punishments of convicted criminals. This system is already in place, operating behind closed doors in office buildings and conference rooms in cities around the world. Known as investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, it is written into a vast network of treaties that govern international trade and investment, including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Congress must soon decide whether to ratify.

  29. allan

    Rio asks to keep Brazil national security forces past Olympics [Reuters]

    Rio de Janeiro will try to convince Brazil’s government to leave in place indefinitely the national security force that protected the Olympics to cut down on crime amid a budget crisis, state public safety secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame said on Thursday. …

    The impeachment coup was the shot, this is the chaser.
    Honduras on steroids. BRIC is now RIC.

    1. cwaltz

      On to Russia…..

      Isn’t it odd how anyone who challenges the dollar as sole global reserve currency seems to find themselves facing a change of regime?

      Totally perplexing…….lol

    1. John k

      He thinks how police routinely treat blacks is unamerican, which just isn’t so. Whites have been mistreating blacks since before the republic was founded.
      What is making things different is video phones.
      When a badge stops being a license to kill blacks might be a time for blacks to feel patriotic.

  30. abynormal

    (Reuters) – Pennsylvania State University plans a special commemoration later this month marking the 50th anniversary of the late Joe Paterno’s first game as head football coach, the school said on Thursday, nearly five years after he was fired over a child sex abuse scandal.

    The planned event is the latest indication that Penn State officials are still committed to some extent to honoring the athletic legacy of Paterno, the winningest coach ever in major U.S. college football. The school removed a statue of him in 2012, but a library at the campus still bears his name.

    Penn State trustees in 2011 fired Paterno from his position as head coach after disclosures that he knew of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the school’s locker room showers in 2002 but failed to notify police.

    Instead, Paterno said he informed the university’s athletic director, who told other administrators without ever going to authorities.

    Jennifer Storm, the state of Pennsylvania’s official victim advocate, said in a statement that the plan to commemorate Paterno’s 50th anniversary was “insensitive,” according to NBC News.

    When admirals extoll’d for standing still, Of doing nothing with a deal of skill.
    William Cowper

  31. Kim Kaufman


    Debating Clinton’s character

    The plan for the first debate is to destroy Trump, but Clinton’s team also needs to rehab her battered image.

    By Glenn Thrush

    09/01/16 05:10 PM EDT


    And pathetic…

    “And she has told friends since the spring, at fundraisers and in private huddles, that she’s especially worried about new scurrilous attacks on her family fed to Trump by allies like Roger Stone.”

  32. Glen

    There is no shortage of skilled workers. There is s shortage of skilled workers working at poverty wages. And there is no apparent shortage of high paid, high skilled employees losing their jobs. Most of these workers are older and will never get anything that pays as well again.

    All capitalists know that the way to get skilled workers is pay more. But all these whiners aren’t capitalists. They are nothing but welfare queens who wrecked the world economy and were bailed out with our money.

    I dare say most job applicants that “cannot communicate” have seen what the pay is and are biting their tongues so they don’t tell their potential employer to “go f%^k yourself”

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