2:00PM Water Cooler 10/18/2016

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“The truth about trade” [Jeffrey Sachs, Boston Globe]. “Trade agreements should be voted up or down on the basis of their likely economic and distributional impacts, not on a fictitious argument about national security. TPP and TTIP, in their current form, deserve to be voted down. They should be reformulated to remove ISDS and should be combined with new tax-and-transfer measures to bolster the incomes of the working class. The economic pie could then be enlarged with the gains from trade shared broadly across the society. At that point, the public would be much more likely to support the passage of the trade agreements in broad daylight, not in the dead of night of a lame-duck session of Congress.” This is a good overview, well worth a read.

“‘We’ve all got our plan B’s,’ New Zealand Ambassador to the U.S. Tim Groser said at a Global Innovation Forum event. “The tragedy would be that the plan B’s that we have would not involve the United States” [Politico]. “‘[I]f the United States gets stuck in a hole, do not for one minute think that the [11 other TPP countries] are going to sit in the hole with them,’ Groser said.” Well. Does the US have to be a member for TPP to achieve its goal of encircling China? Is the Pacific Fleet going anywhere?

“[Ambassador David O’Sullivan, EU’s ambassador to the United States,] told reporters after the event that there has been no decision yet on whether to hold another round talks on the TTIP before the Obama administration ends in January” [Politico].

“Today, Friday 14 October 2016, 11:00am CEST, WikiLeaks releases new secret documents from the controversial Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) currently being negotiated by the US, EU and 22 other countries that account for over 2/3rds of global GDP” [Wikileaks].

“Today, for the first time, WikiLeaks released demands by the EU to lock in a wide list of services sectors to TISA’s privatization and deregulation provisions, including public services in developing countries” [HuffPo].

The EU’s demands also include access to postal services in Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Turkey, and in several developed countries participating in the talks. Many countries maintain cross-subsidization programs that are an important part of enabling national communication from rural areas. If countries make commitments in this sector, then they would have to provide the same subsidies to foreign corporations as their own domestic firms, and would not be able to renationalize the sector if privatization was found to have adverse impacts.

The EU’s demands also include access to sanitation, sewage, and other environmental services, which are often administered on a local level; telecommunications (including broadcasting); retail and distribution services; shipping; air and maritime transport; energy and mining services (which are extremely sensitive particularly in Latin America); and others. In addition, the EU is requesting more commitments on financial services in nearly every country.


“[S]everal countries involved in TiSA, including the United States, have insisted the agreement will crumble if there’s no guarantee that data can travel between trade partners. On top of that, critics and companies in favour of TiSA argue the Commission’s move on data flows could have a domino effect and be copied in other trade agreements” [Euractiv]. “One official who took part in the negotiations said the [European Commission trade and justice units’] compromise includes a formulation that makes sure the EU’s tough data protection laws can’t be toppled by the trade agreement. EU data protection rules prevent personal data from being transferred to countries outside of Europe if they don’t guarantee equal privacy protection.”


Days until: 20.


“News that a top State Department official discussed a “quid pro quo” in exchange for the FBI changing the classification of a Hillary Clinton e-mail is shocking enough. But word that the coterie of State officials who controlled the release of the e-mails is called itself “The Shadow Government” is mind-blowing” [New York Post]. Well, that’s witty and ironic!

“John Oliver says Jill Stein doesn’t understand her own student debt plan” [MarketWatch]. “The specifics of Stein’s plan are unclear, though she has said repeatedly that the president has the authority to cancel student debt using quantitative easing. Her campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But it’s technically possible for the Fed to play a role in student debt forgiveness, experts say — though extremely politically challenging. And it isn’t done in the way Stein describes. The specifics of Stein’s plan are unclear, though she has said repeatedly that the president has the authority to cancel student debt using quantitative easing. Her campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But it’s technically possible for the Fed to play a role in student debt forgiveness, experts say — though extremely politically challenging. And it isn’t done in the way Stein describes.” Nice to see Scott Fullwiler quoted in a mainstream publication!

The Voters

“Election angst” [Interfluidity]. Excellent and subtle essay, well worth a read. I’ll quote a great slab at the end:

For the moment, we have to get through the catastrophe that this election has become. A fault line was always going to appear between the economically dominant class and much of the rest of the country which has been left behind. In my view, it is a very great tragedy that Bernie Sanders did not win his primary campaign to represent the left-behind in a positive and inclusive way. All humans are racists in some ways and to some degrees, but it was not at all inevitable, I think, that we end up in a “battle between cosmopolitan finance capitalism and ethno-nationalist backlash”, as Chris Hayes put it. Donald Trump offered a particularly comfortable home to the most ethno-nationalist fraction of the left-behind, and no home at all to people of color. But many not-unusually-racist “white” people who, fairly or not, perceive Clinton as an icon of a corruption, now see Trump as the only game in town. It is tempting, among those of us who would be appalled by a Trump victory, to try to sway undecided voters by equating voting for Trump with racism full-stop. That’s a bad idea. If it becomes [becomes?] the mainstream view that Trump voters are simply racists, it leaves those who are already committed, those who are unwilling to abandon Trump or to stomach Clinton, little choice but to own what they’ve been accused of. Racist is the new queer. The same daring, transgressional psychology that, for gay people, converted an insult into a durable token of identity may persuade a mass of people who otherwise would not have challenged the social taboo surrounding racism to accept the epithet with defiant equanimity or even to embrace it. The assertion that Trump’s supporters are all racists has, I think, become partially self-fulfilling. In and of itself, that will make America’s already deeply ugly racial politics uglier. It will help justify the further pathologization of the emerging white underclass while doing nothing at all to help communities of color except, conveniently for some, to set the groups at one another’s throats so they cannot make common cause. It will become yet another excuse for beneficiaries of economic stratification to blame its victims. Things were bad before this election. They are worse now, and we should be very careful about how we carry this experience forward. These are frightening times.

The psychology of “little choice but to own what they’ve been accused of” was captured by Shakespeare in Sonnet 121, also — coincidentally? — about what we understand today as queerness: “Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed / When not to be receives reproach of being.” At this point, let me print a map from Cracked (linked to a couple of days ago):


The blue counties voted Democrat in 2012; and the red counties, Repblican. Where do the blue counties think their warehouses are? More importantly, where do they think their data centers are?

“‘Remember, it’s a rigged system. It’s a rigged election,’ said Donald Trump in New Hampshire on Saturday.” [Patrick Buchanan, RealClearPolitics]. “The stunned recoil in this city suggests this bunker buster went right down the chimney. As the French put it, Il n’y a que la verite qui blesse. It is only the truth that hurts… But in this election, Big Media have burst out of the closet as an adjunct of the regime and the attack arm of the Clinton campaign, aiming to bring Trump down.” And before Trump, Sanders, as Thomas Frank shows here. A wonderfully clarifying election!

“Do Voters Have Death Wishes?” [John Lounsbury, Econintersect]. “Voters are angry at the economic trends of the last 30 – 35 years. There is an emotional current coursing through America which thinks that the system is rotten and would best be destroyed to set up a start-over. Before they go that route they should contemplate that along the way, after the destruction, many of them would have nothing.” Reminds me of the old joke about the Russian peasant to whom a genie appeared, granting him one wish. After a moment’s thought, the peasant replied: “I wish my neighbor’s cow would die.” In other words, if we’re going down, you’re going down, too.

“Two candidates in critical races that could determine control of the Senate are being attacked as Washington insiders who have closer ties to lobbyists than to their home states. But the attacks aren’t partisan: One’s a Democrat trying to make a comeback in a GOP-leaning state, and the other’s a longtime Republican in a red state facing the toughest race of his career” [RealClearPolitics]. “The Associated Press reported last week that Bayh spent much of his final year in the Senate searching for private-sector jobs while voting on issues of interest to his future employers.” But since everybody who is anybody knows that without a quid pro quo there’s no corruption, Bayh’s practices are normal, indeed laudable. What’s wrong with these people?

“Insider Candidates Flounder in Anti-Establishment Wave” [National Journal]. “Demo­crats cheered when former Sen. Evan Bayh de­cided to run for of­fice again, as­sum­ing that his flush cam­paign ac­count and brand name back home would be enough to win in a red state. But they’re quickly dis­cov­er­ing that not liv­ing in the state you’re run­ning in is a ma­jor prob­lem. When asked earli­er in the cam­paign, Bayh couldn’t even re­mem­ber his ex­act ad­dress In In­di­ana. There’s a reas­on for this. When Bayh re­lin­quished his seat in 2010, he stayed in Wash­ing­ton, where he earned nearly $4 mil­lion in lob­by­ing fees since Janu­ary 2015.” Oopsie.

“How to stop voter suppression before it begins” [Alice Marshall, Medium]. “When I was chair of the Voter Registration Committee of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, I assumed that my volunteers would be targeted with some sort of attack. I considered how I could structure my effort in such a way that gave no pretext for false allegations of fraud. The key is to encourage citizens to register without having any responsibility for turning in the forms, or indeed, who fills them out. So we just leafleted entire apartment complexes with pre-addressed voter registration applications.” I love nuts and bolts stuff like this. Greens should read it.

The Trail

“Bill Clinton on the campaign trail in Upper Valley” (New Hampshire) [WCAX]. “Clinton addressed Trump only briefly Monday. ‘Everything is a disaster except for his campaign,’ Clinton said. But he did acknowledge that when it comes to politics, the country seems more divided than ever. ‘People are angry. So what’s better, anger or answers? We are divided, so what’s better, cooperation or endless conflict?’ I dunno. Depends on who wins, right? “Clinton left Dartmouth without taking questions from local media.” That’s odd, considering how talkative the Big Dog is. Maybe some of the questions would have made him uncomfortable? Or the campaign stuffed him back in his box?

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, September 2016: “Progress is being made at the headline level but less so on the core” [Econoday]. ”

However, when excluding energy and also food, which was flat in the month, the price increase slows to only 0.1 percent which is below Econoday’s low forecast…. In another note in this report and a reminder of how soft inflation has been, the government has set the 2017 Social Security cost of living adjustment at plus 0.3 percent.” And: “Core inflation actually moderated year-over-year, but those nasty energy prices caused the spike in the headline CPI, This is the highest rate of inflation seen in over one year” [Econintersect]. And: “most of these measures are at or above the Fed’s target (Core PCE is still below)” [Calculated Risk].

Housing Market Index, October 2016: “The new home sector picked up steam in the third quarter and looks to end the second half with strength… Home builders are very optimistic about future sales, the leading component of the report which is at 72 and up 1 point in the month. Current sales are down 2 points but are very strong at 69. Traffic continues to lag, down 1 point to 46 but with the trend still showing slight improvement” [Econoday].

Consumption: “Since 2014, a relatively stable 65% of Americans say they are limiting their spending. But with incomes once more on the rise (up 5.2% in 2015), the reason that the percentage isn’t changing is not stagnant incomes. Rather, Americans simply want to save more money” [247 Wall Street]. “The Bankrate researchers noted that the percentage of respondents who said they were spending less because their incomes were stagnant has dropped in each of the past two years. Just 15% of those surveyed said that fears about the U.S. economy are restricting their spending, the lowest level in the four years that Bankrate has conducted the survey. Millennials (aged 18 to 35) were most likely to say (48%) that saving was their primary reason for limiting their spending….”

Supply Chain: “China, long the world’s factory floor, is taking control of a bigger portion of the world’s supply chains as well, causing a shift in global trade patterns by buying less from abroad” [Wall Street Journal, “China to World: We Don’t Need Your Factories Anymore”]. “Exports to China, which had risen nearly every year since 1990, fell 14% last year, the largest annual drop since the 1960s. They are down another 8.2% this year, through September… But China also is increasingly turning inward for its manufacturing needs, pushing to substitute local inputs for foreign, especially in plum, high-margin areas such as semiconductors and machinery.”

Shipping: ” September 2016 Import Sea Container Counts Contraction Troubling” [Econintersect]. “This month exports trend lines accelerated further into positive territory – something positive is happening in international markets. On the other hand, imports are trending deeper into contraction – normally this is a sign of recession in the USA… This month (September 2016) the Hanjin ships have been offloaded and imports have slid further into contraction. Nasty. These little containers are filled with mostly consumer goods. Guess USA consumers have lost their taste for buying goods (or maybe just foreign goods or maybe just buying smaller goods)? Or maybe, just maybe – this is signally a relatively poor upcoming holiday season (as Augusts and Septembers are historically the highest container import months).”

Shipping: “Rickmers Group has moved to separate itself from Rickmers Trust Management just two weeks before investors vote to decide if they want to accept the company’s restructuring offer or put it into liquidation” [Splash 247]. “The extraordinary general meeting is scheduled for October 31.” Not sure about tonnage, but Rickmers has more ships than Hanjin, and provides maritime services as well.

Big Ag: “Corn and soybean crops are hitting a a global market already sitting on the largest-ever grain stockpiles, making storage of the stuff a bigger deal than transporting the goods to market” [Wall Street Journal]. “The boom-bust cycle is familiar in the U.S., but the difference is it’s gone global. Crop and livestock farmers in other countries have adopted farming practices that largely mirror those in the U.S. breadbasket.” Oh, great.

The Bezzle: “Private Tech Growth as an Asset Class” [The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation]. “Clearly, there is a growing focus on and investor/capital concentration around a select group of mature, very late-stage private tech companies.” Clearly, it’s unfair of me to throw all of Silicon Valley into the Bezzle bucket. But when so many of the companies are headed by crooks and grifters, what can I do?

ETFs: “The [SEC] original proposal – and the current version – focused on all open ended funds maintaining a liquidity risk management program with the intent to ensure that it could always meet shareholder redemptions in an orderly fashion. It was a clear response, or convenient timing at least, to the shenanigans that happened to Third Avenue’s mutual fund in the summer of 2015, when it closed for redemptions because it couldn’t sell its junk bonds fast enough” [ETF.com]. “[The rule that ensure[s] a fund doesn’t have more than 15% of its investments in illiquid investment… is problematic. There’s an enormous amount of wiggle room in how to meet the assessment that a given position can be liquidated without significant impact in seven days, and all that wiggle room lands on the fund board to interpret.” Readers?

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “According to the latest research from analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, investors are increasingly worried about a massive bond market pullback” [ETF Daily News]. “The firm recently surveyed a number of fund managers, and bond market fears clearly rose to the top of the list. As you can see below, only the “EU disintegration” beat out “Crash in bond market/rising credit spreads” in terms of what money managers feel is the biggest “tail risk”:

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “There is a little bit of fear creeping into government bond markets. It is about time, even if investors are still underestimating how much long-term Treasury rates could rise from here” [Wall Street Journal, “More Than One Worry Is Hitting Bond Markets”]. “Government bonds are no longer the can’t-lose market, as a steady drop in prices sends rates higher.” And then, inflation worries.

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “Duration Time Bomb” [Across the Curve]. “I have long thought the next market calamity would be in the corporate bond world. This Bloomberg story reports on a Goldman Sachs research piece which posits that a 1 percent increase in yields would lead to more than $1 trillion in losses in corporate bond portfolios. The more interesting angle is in a world of sparse balance sheets and risk aversion at dealers what will happen when clients ask for bids and find them light years from what they expected.” This Bloomberg story; great lead: “First they came for the yield, then they came for the duration.”

The Fed: “Yellen poses important post-Great Recession macroeconomic questions” [Washington Center for Equitable Growth]. Rather an amazing normalization of Yellen’s confession that the snow of the Fed’s ignorance of macro remains untrodden. To be fair, I smell research program!

Mr. Market: “With assets in a funk, interest rates at zero and IPOs scarce, what’s capital to do?” [Wall Street Journal, “Everyone’s Worst Investing Fears”].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 40, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 18 at 11:36am. If you’re going to be afraid, why not be afraid, and stop crapping around in the 40s?

Health Care

“The Obamacare problem that Democrats don’t want to talk about” [Sarah Kliff, Vox]. “[T]here are millions of people buying their own coverage outside of the marketplace. And none of them receive subsidies. So they don’t have any financial cushion to protect against the larger premium increases most observers expect to see in 2017.”

Neoliberal U

“Bold, beautiful, broke: Barnard’s shameful treatment of contingent faculty” [Columbia Spectator]. “Again a group of the most underpaid workers on campus (many make low wages and are denied any health or retirement benefits if they are adjunct faculty)—workers who are overwhelmingly women—are standing up for better working conditions. And again, an administration headed by a self-proclaimed feminist appears to be doing everything in its power to obstruct them.”


“Whales’ dung is the real reason we need to stop hunting them” [New Scientist]. “Increasing scientific evidence shows that whales enhance ecosystem productivity by concentrating nitrogen and iron near the surface through the release of faecal plumes.”

“Are Wet Wipes Wrecking the World’s Sewers?” [The Atlantic].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“‘Sodomized’ Guantánamo captive to undergo rectal surgery” [McClatchy]. Shining city on a hill, and all that.

Class Warfare

“These findings suggest that the declining trend in interstate migration is a response of the labor market to an aging population and does not necessarily signal a decline in the market’s dynamism or efficiency” [Liberty Street Economics]. Here endeth the lesson.

“According to our analysis, the increase in income inequality since 1970 has generated large welfare gains for households in the top 20% of the income distribution and significant welfare losses for those in the bottom 80%, measured relative to a scenario that holds inequality constant. Alternative simulations imply that a relatively modest boost in the historical growth rate of government redistributive transfers, accompanied by modestly higher average tax rates, could have achieved small but equal welfare gains for all households. Overall, our results suggest that there is room for policy actions that could offset the negative consequences of rising income inequality” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. This section is titled “Class Warfare,” not “Income Inequality,” because the first concept incorporates political power, and the second does not. It is very easy to see how mere “redistributive transfers” could be sucked away through rental extraction, for example.

News of the Wired

“In mouse experiments, destroying the cells caused the rodents to overeat and gain excessive weight. Activating the cells had the opposite effect: The mice lost their appetite and became almost anorexic” [Wall Street Journal, “Brain Cells That May Play a Key Role in Appetite”]. Great! Let’s destroy them!

“The Chase” [London Review of Books]. On Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed, the magical Turner painting from 1844, still relevant to our own day.

* * *

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 (Rainbow Girl):


Fresh mushrooms right after picking. Yum!

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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. Unorthodoxmarxist

      This and the Marketwatch piece are great antidotes to Oliver’s clear hit-piece on Stein. He ignored all other aspects of Stein & the Green platform (single-payer healthcare, opposition to US imperial foreign policy, drive to 100% carbon-free renewable energy, Green New Deal public works jobs & living wage program) to attack her for, what – wanting to deal with the student debt crisis? Then he went on to make fun of her for being in a 90’s folk rock band.

      The liberal gatekeeperism of this is palpable, and the Market Watch article points out that a world in which Stein is elected upends the political situation enough that the drive to abolish student debt would definitely be on the table. Clearly Oliver didn’t want to even mention that the Greens (or Libs) getting 5% of the pop vote & receiving a few million from the FEC for the next campaign cycle would be enormous in terms of setting up a significant party apparatus.

      I talked with Stein campaign staff about Oliver yesterday and they said they had been dialoging with the show for a few weeks clarifying points, then the show ignored that and went with the hit piece.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Take a page out of the Trump playbook and start a twitter fight!

        Any publicity is good publicity for Greens! Find a way to generate some interest!

        1. Alex morfesis

          Jawn ohleevah…the common mans mouthpiece…whose family is a little bit on the british nobility side…hush now…he has barely gotten thru his first contract…lest we not ruin it for him before he can cash it in…dont want the pitchfork crowd noticing he was playing them as he reads off his tell e promptor…

          Sir henry boyd and all that…

          1. Baby Gerald

            It’s such a relief to find I’m not alone in my disgust at that Oliver hit. I really lost a lot of respect for him on that one– it was such a low-hanging-fruit attempt at making Stein out to be little more than the equivalent of that kook who runs the tiger farm. To pick a trivial point on a vastly broad platform of issues and then proceed to deliberately misinform the viewer about its feasibility in order to land cheap punch lines makes it the lowest form of comedy, in my opinion.

            The message is clearly out to scare third-party leaning voters into toeing back to the two-party line and voting LOTE at the expense of their conscience.

            1. Emma

              For whom, for what purpose, and why did such an acutely limited interpretation (with mistakes) ridiculing third-parties take place? Was it a way more convincing form of disparagement than say, actually lining Johnson and Steins’ policies up against Trumps or Clintons instead?

              Sadly, though John Oliver, with his veneer of objectivity, aspires to inform the population at large, and to shed light on the injustices and prejudices of America in an entertaining way, he is in reality, partaking in the very type of situation out of which a lack of information and injustice may arise in the first place. And it only fuels the sense of alienation many Americans feel. Many of whom have aspirations, expectations and indeed, favored reference points. Just as the powerful and elite, along with John Oliver, obviously have too.

              The major problem here is that when we’re in the dark somewhere, inside or out, the pupils in our eyes enlarge until we get used to whatever level of light is available. If any light at all. Some of us are unable however to accept such dismal circumstances. Just as many of us find it unacceptable that a growing number of our fellow Americans don’t have free and simple access to a basic human right. Drinkable water. Whether it be due to fracking, living in Flint, or otherwise.

              John Oliver should not only be sufficiently intelligent, but emotionally intelligent enough to recognize that ‘being in the dark’ has repeatedly proven to have a negative effect on ones’ well-being. But being without safe drinkable water is proven to negatively effect life. Because, what our little schoolboy John Oliver needs to learn, is that there are a few things which human beings simply cannot adjust to. Deprived of safe water to drink, people cannot adjust to their circumstances; rather, they die.

              So, many of us, in our primitive and deplorable fashion, will continue to ‘crazily’ support third-parties like the Green Party and their Presidential nominee Jill Stein, because the Green Party focuses on minimizing the misery of a majority in America. Rather than maximizing the wealth of a minority.

              As for John Oliver? He’ll probably continue to willingly comply and negatively portray third-parties. For third-parties in the US are truly at odds with an ignorant elite of America. Third-parties threaten their existence. In doing this, John Oliver only reinforces an appropriately predetermined framework which includes the erroneous belief that third-parties, if derisively given house-room, never house-of-rep-room, ought to be subservient to the elite’s of Americas’ interests.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I’m not clear on how repeatedly failing to understand how quantitative easing works is a qualification for the Presidency? Granted, we wouldn’t get good answers from any of the other candidates, but there are plenty of heterodox economists out there who would be happy to consult with her. Some of them have published books.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I have never expected my President to be omniscient. I hope they might appoint some good people who are … or at least a bit more omniscient than chance. My vote is for Jill.

        And I like to think someone in Black America might notice Baraka.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I have never expected my President to be omniscient.

          Nor I. I would, however, take it as as selling point if she understood (or had been willing to learn) monetary operations, even at a high level. Clearly, she doesn’t. Worse, it looks like has no one to advise her. Not a good look.

      3. voteforno6

        I’m sure they are going to give Clinton’s positions the same level of scrutiny. I can’t wait to see the story on how her proposal to enforce a no-fly zone in Syria will probably lead to war with that country and Russia.

      4. Lambert Strether

        I expect a Clinton to give a poor answer out of neoliberal ideological conviction. I expect Trump to give a poor answer out of neoliberal ideological conviction and indiscipline.

        I’d expect Stein to give the right answer. Most partisans cry “hit piece” when they perceive their candidate or leader being attacked. And so with the Greens and Stein, sadly.

        it’s especially sad when (e.g. from Fullwiler) the answers are ready to hand.

      5. Skip Intro

        Leaked Clinton emails showed that Oliver was working with their campaign… as if we needed the confirmation.

        I guess this hit piece shows the campaign must be pretty scared of Dr. Jill Stein. I wonder how their internal numbers look.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Not without a link, they don’t. Let’s try to maintain some semblance of quality control in the comments section. Clue stick, Stein supporters: Dog-piling isn’t, in itself, a value-add.

    2. Cry Shop

      John Oliver also made less direct attacks on Bernie Sanders (as a crazy olde uncle). Oliver is a Jon Stewart acolyte, and thus a true believer in neo-liberal thinking (and thus Hillary). In the case of Sanders Oliver had to be more discreet in his favoritism, but with Jill Stein he assumes her supporters are not likely to tune into watch him, so no loss here.

        1. OIFVet

          Liberal hypocrisy on display. I bet furious Nancy had a hearty chuckle when nude Donald was on public display. But a statue of a banker being, ummm, nurtured by Hillary is too offensive to her liberul sensibilities.

    3. Plenue

      Really, John “forgot to mention Narendra Modi is a literal fascist” Oliver was wrong about something? Say it ain’t so!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Please don’t distract. This has nothing to with Oliver, despite the efforts of Stein loyalists to make it so.

        If Stein has said, oh, “nuclear weapons explode when their phlogiston is overly compressed,” the only possible response would be hollow laughter at the choices before us. When Stein says she’ll pay for college debt with QE, which is conceptually equivalent, we get… What we got.

        Goes to support my theory that a key, and perhaps the key difference between Green loyalists and Dem loyalists is that Greens don’t have any power.

        1. Skippy

          Down under the Greens are being viewed as neoliberals on bikes by some…

          Disheveled Marsupial…. the gravity well of the dominant singularity in the social construct seems to inevitably draw everything into its maw….

        2. Plenue

          Except I’m not a Green loyalist. I’m voting for Stein largely out of protest and for lack of any other alternatives. My ire is entirely directed at John Oliver. He’s proving to be a worthy heir to John Stewart; smugness and ‘explanations’ that at best lack any context. At worst he’s a slick disinformation pusher.

  1. b1whois

    A friend of mine had an interesting idea: create an app that matches up one LOTE Hillary supporter and one LOTE Trump supporter in a pledge to not vote or only vote third party. So each person goes on the app and selects either anti-Trump or anti-Hillary, the app then matches up a resulting pair and lets each know that they are now free to vote their conscience! This would allow people to not feel trapped in the “a vote for z is really a vote for x”, since that person got a person on the other side to not vote, thus canceling their inadvertent “support”.

    Maybe call it “2WrongsMakeRight” or “XLOTE” or “LO4E” or ??

  2. polecat

    Re. the WSJ article on brain cells and overindulgence ….

    I blame it on vast quantities of cheap carbs, pseudo-sugar, and sodium …. plus a big helping of convenience ……. along with advent, and the development of, 1st television, and 2nd the internet, and 3rd the loss of ‘real’ physical work for most of an ‘unwisely’ educated public … who’ve been told they can have it all .. and then some !

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I missed out! I was only told I could have little bit — if no one else wanted it. But I also fed on carbs and sodium and convenience. I was cheated!!!

    1. Sandy

      I was wondering about this when I received my absentee ballot the other day. Would a write-in of “Bernie Sanders” be in valid for not using his legal first name (Bernard)?

  3. allan

    “[T]here are millions of people buying their own coverage outside of the marketplace. And none of them receive subsidies. So they don’t have any financial cushion to protect against the larger premium increases most observers expect to see in 2017.”

    Financial cushion? Why should that be a Pragmatic Progressive™ public policy goal?
    In order for the market to work its magic, the great unwashed masses have to be incentivized to bend the cost curve. And that means having skin in the game, taking ownership of their health care expenditures,
    and getting a payday loan to cover the premiums.

    1. Vatch

      getting a payday loan to cover the premiums.

      Aw, shucks, there are alternatives to payday loans. People can get auto title loans or they can deposit valuables with pawnbrokers. See? People have options!

      1. pretzelattack

        the willie sutton move. there may be an app to make this easier (security guard has gone across the street for burger, 2d national bank currently unprotected).

    2. Pat

      For the insurance companies to have skin in the game, they need to not have the government forcing people to buy their overpriced and useless (as far as real health care is concerned) product.
      Mind you this also means that most people will end up unhealthy and most hospitals will go out of business as people who cannot pay for health care don’t do anything about it until they no longer have any choice – you know that thing that Obamacare was supposed to be addressing rather than what it did address – insurance companies failing business model.

      I get what you are doing is snark, but I’m very touchy of the ‘skin in the game’ distraction. I’m also of the opinion that we would be better off sometimes just calling things what they are. In this case the ObamaInsuranceBailOut.

      1. timbers

        “For the insurance companies to have skin in the game, they need to not have the government forcing people to buy their overpriced and useless (as far as real health care is concerned) product.”

        Also too, skin in the game means no guarantee of profits as in the ACA providing subsidies to insurance corporations if they lose money. Better to take the money set aside for profits and spend it on healthcare.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I hope I will take lesson from your humility in this response. Your comment would be unthinkable on too many other blogsites — one of the great strengths of this commentariat.

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              Baroo? Nobody posts on the internet out of humility.

              Civility and sharp elbows, yes. NC and humility, not so much.

              1. ambrit

                Now NC has agency?
                Besides, the Commenteriat here is not afraid to learn new things.
                Human egos in relationship is not a zero sum game.

  4. Katharine

    Regarding rigged elections, I think it’s worth noting that Trump’s chief focus appears to be in-person voter fraud, which is not where the problems have been or seem likely to be. In effect, he makes himself easy to dismiss by not addressing the reasonable concerns Sanders supporters raised during the primary season. If he were raising questions about the potential for institutional election fraud, he would be much more credible.

    And as so often with him, I find myself wondering, is this Macchiavellian, or is he really that dumb?

    1. timbers

      I’m going with dumb.

      Because he’s be so lame on issues that could have garnered him millions of votes: NAFTA, TTP, and the job off shoring they/ve produced, HB-1 workers (I see hundreds of them every day on my commute in the Boston area), explaining Clinton grift and quid pro quo at SOS and Haiti and it’s illegality in simple sound bite terms any voter can understand, hitting Hillary on integrity (public/private positions), her plans to cut SS & MC, Wall Street bailouts and speeches, and her regime changes and support of ISIS & Co.

      1. Tvc15

        I’ll go with dumb too and not wanting to be elected. I always felt like he was building his brand and was never serious.

        For similar reasons as timbers mentions and his inability to articulate a coherent message despite the overwhelming amount of ammunition available.

        Oh, and Obama just said the elections are not rigged anyway. So, I’m good now knowing that HRC beat Bernie by millions of votes without any shenanigans.

    2. Waldenpond

      Focusing on the conspiracy aspect is not a Trump thing, nor an R thing. It’s universal at this point. The Ds keep chanting (in their best Jan Brady voice) Russia, Russia, Russia in response to leaks and Clinton’s every weakness is actually a sign of savviness.

        1. Waldenpond

          Lay down, arms at sides, close your eyes and take a deep cleansing breath…. exhale ohmmmmm, the elections aren’t rigged Russia is rigging the elections the elections aren’t rigged Russia is rigging the elections the elections aren’t rigged Russia is rigging the elections…. ohmmmmmmm.

    3. GMoore

      I think it is pretty clear after today’s video dump that Election Fraud is a constant. Bush was as dirty as Clinton, so the theft from Gore was just standard operating procedure. Trump wants to drain the Swamp.

      So how is he wrong? Last weeks video of NY election commissioner confessing that people are bused from one precinct to another proves Trump’s point.

      Now we see the video of the Clinton dirty tricksters CROWING about voter fraud.

      So, again, how is this either “dumb” or “Machiavellian” ?

      It IS time to drain the swamp, and let the chips fall where they may.

      The Clinton/Bush crime syndicate has been revealed for what it is. Obama was packaged by the same vile bunch. When he took the Peace Prize and enlarged the war within a month – I knew he was a Trojan Horse.

      1. P Walker

        Trump is going to lose for no other reason than the RNC refusing to learn their lessons from 2012 and shore up their election day ground game. Romney could have won something like three states but the RNC failed to get their volunteers registered and so couldn’t see the lists inside polling areas.

        1. P Walker

          Back in 2012, I smiled when I read that. I figured the GOP deserved it.

          Fast forward to 2016 with Hillary as nominee and now I’m actually fairly terrified of an HRC presidency brought about but such oversight.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        If “today’s video dump” is more O’Keefe crap, you don’t get to subtweet it. Of course, I can’t be sure of that, since (naturally?) you give no actual evidence.

    4. JohnnyGL


      I’ve found myself wondering the same sorts of things. I think you’re right that he could be more effective in driving up HRC’s negative ratings further.

      But I also think there’s probably a faulty assumption present in expecting that 1) the election will be won by putting together rational, persuasive arguments that will convince swing voters and 2) expecting that the media would take those arguments on their merits rather than smearing and obscuring. 3) Even if Trump reached an audience with an argument of “here’s the in depth reasons why HRC is awful is exquisite detail”, it doesn’t mean those voters are going to then vote for him. After all, he’s still got awful policies on most topics. Some voters are, no doubt, completely done with him for good after so many women have accused him of physical harassment. 4) I still think there are ‘untouchable’ topics for GOP elites to put continue to put up with him. I’m sure they’ve told him to stop talking about ‘tariffs’ when he’s yelling about NAFTA and China. He hasn’t used that word since the primaries. I wonder if attacking the program of CIA weapons-smuggling to Al Qaeda rebels in Syria is disallowed, too.

      To the degree that he’s trying to win, I think Trump’s strategy revolves around trying to pump up the enthusiasm among his base. He always looks visibly awkward when it comes to pandering/appealing to voters outside of the alt-right base.

      Also, I kind of suspect most politicians are dumber than most commenters here.

      1. wilroncanada

        Johnny GL
        Perhaps, as an outsider I might insert some insight:
        1.Elections have never been won that way
        2.That has never been the role of media. They were always partisan, but with dispersed ownership, there was at least the possibility of some balance.
        3Trump can’t do ‘in depth.’ His speech writers might even have tried on occasion, but once he got to some magic word, he went off into his flights of inanity, probably about himself. There is only “I” in his team.
        4.There are no doubt untouchables, but the party untouchables and Trump untouchables are so far apart as to be …untouchable.
        I completely agree with the last two paragraphs.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree with your wonderment. Trump seems more interested in his television network than his possible presidency — something more than a few on this website have suggested he might not really desire. Didn’t I read a few days ago that Bill Clinton buttonholed Trump into running? Given the many levers of emails for casting Hillary into the pit — Trump seems remarkably — most remarkably — unable to pull any of those levers.


    6. Benedict@Large

      Neither Machiavellian nor dumb.

      As always and from the start with The Donald, he selects what the predominant right wing narrative is on each situation, adopts it as his position, and then simply collects the number of voters who hold that position. If that ends up sounding like a Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly mish mash of screwed up ideas, well, that’s just because that’s what those shows are.Trump doesn’t have to do any work this way, and he doesn’t need to spend much money. Right wing media is already doing that for him.

      What gets me though is how much the Party itself objects. Don’t they understand that Trump is exactly what they have been telling their voters the Party is for the last two decades? Have they really not been listening to themselves all this time?

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Yeah, the logos idea that if you just introduce a brand new narrative to reveal the true way, then…profit! That’s beginning to drag on me.

        Prejudices large and small are how we make sense of the world, it’s hard to cut through that. Probably why he has the stupid hair, its a Toyota salesman’s jacket.

    7. Cry Shop

      Perhaps playing the race card works better with individual voter fraud, synergistic… but dumb works too

    8. cnchal

      . . . I find myself wondering, is this Macchiavellian, or is he really that dumb?

      Narcissists. You never know what they will say next, but it always circles around, back to themselves.

      It’s like Trump knows deep down he will lose, so this rigged election bluster is his way of pre excusing the election loss. He would never talk about Sanders getting stuffed by the Democratic Party, intelligently. Too complicated to lay out to a crowd at his rally and it would cut into the time that he can talk about himself.

      This election is a total loss. Not even one winner.

    9. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump’s chief focus appears to be in-person voter fraud

      Yep. Deeply bogus. It is, however, a standard-issue Republican talking point (and excuse for voter suppression (not that the Democrats, through inaction, aren’t fully complicit)).

      1. Cry Shop

        Pregnant, homeless and threatening suicide, 34-year-old Suquamish tribe descendent Jeanetta Riley was shot and killed by Sandpoint, Idaho police on July 8, 2014, seconds after they exited their vehicles. Riley was holding a knife, (but sitting in a vehicle alone)and (still) her shooting was ruled justified.

        one particularly distressing story from dcblogger’s link above.

  5. ChrisFromGeorgia

    “‘We’ve all got our plan B’s,’ New Zealand Ambassador to the U.S. Tim Groser said at a Global Innovation Forum event. “The tragedy would be that the plan B’s that we have would not involve the United States”

    I nominate this for the most bizarre comment of the entire year, and that includes everything Trump has said.

    The whole point of the TPP is to screw every country (including the US) into oblivion, rendering them a neo-liberal hell hole of corporate serfdom. So if the US somehow doesn’t go along with the X-rated, non-family friendly activities, who does Groser think is gonna do the the deed? And doesn’t the entire TPP become ultra vires if they don’t get the US and Japan to ratify?

    1. hunkerdown

      New Zealand and other Pacific Rim countries have their own compradors with their own “businesses” and their own Western cultural attachments — the bourgeoisie bow to no political restraints. In the world, but not of the world, you could say.

    2. clinical wasteman

      Yes, more grotesque bluster from a frontman for Aotearoa/NZ PM John Key. Apologies to all those who know this already, but Key is an ex-Merrill Lynch guy who seems to have perfected a synthesis of soft Trumpery and hard-case Blairite (remember, they were popular for a while) PR enforcement.
      Perhaps Key and Groser think this sort of gentle chiding of the hegemon “plays well at home”, but it still sounds like patriotic froth — spouted because everyone knows it’s meaningless. Some outskirts of Auckland are still waiting for ADSL but they finally got the internet anyway, and anyone who cares is aware not just of the Pacific Fleet but also of the non-negotiable Five Eyes/Waihopai/Pine Gap surveillance complex that locks NZ & Australia together as Nato-South franchise and nuclear target. (Pilger is good on the background in his book ‘A Secret Country’; in real time see Gordon Campbell & others at the conjoined Werewolf & Scoop sites [both “.co.nz”].)
      Gough Whitlam in Australia in the ’70s got as far as obliquely threatening Pine Gap, and look what happened to him. The David Lange NZ Labour govt. in the mid-1980s staged a Snapchat-level diplomatic crisis over largely ceremonial nuclear ship visits, just enough to shut the left up during the anglosphere’s most “advanced” Thatcherite economic experiment ever. (Still going, including the left-wing speechlessness). Meanwhile the same govt. quietly authorised the Waihopai Spy Base [https://thestandard.org.nz/the-waihopai-spy-base/], which was all they ever had to say about Echelon/Five Eyes.
      30-odd years on then, the Groser-Key show is a death’s-head emoji, abortive history repeated as farce repeated as mortified meme.

  6. Eddie Green

    My carrier, BCBS, has already notified me that mine and my wife’s premium will double in 14 months to $1600 a month and my deductible will increase from $5000 to $6250. I wished I could sit down with Congress and explain to them why heath care is an exception to the supply/demand free market. Heath care is not responsive to the rules we associate with the market forces and thus trying to provide healthcare in this “free market” economy will never work.
    The demand for brain surgery does not change whether the surgery is free or costs a billion dollars.

    1. Plurius

      There is a famous paper from 1963 written by Ken Arrow (who won the “Economics Nobel Prize”), which is covered in every college course on health economics. A basic summary of the paper is that market solutions will not work because of the nature of health care. Every economist working in the area of health care knows this work, and the fact that “progressive economists from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party” still champion market solutions for health care is very revealing about their true agendas and motivations.

      You can find a PDF copy of the paper at https://www.aeaweb.org/aer/top20/53.5.941-973.pdf

    2. Anne

      Eddie, this is one of the reasons people are deciding to take their chances with no insurance – at $1,600/month, plus the deductible, you are shelling out over $25,000 before the first dollar of medical expense is even partially reimbursable, and that’s crazy.

      When I think about how people could be putting these dollars into the local economy, using it to pay for kids’ college or funding retirement, it just boggles my mind.

      1. pretzelattack

        at this point, i’m just reduced to hoping that obamacare collapses. as far as i can see, it’s made the situation worse overall.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Beside the 20% plus increase in premium, they wrote subsequently that I would be moved out of the current PPO plan into an EPO, which, they explained over the phone when I called seeking clarification, meant no more out-of-network doctors.

          I then spent some time checking which of my doctors were out-of-network. I think I am losing at least one.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      The root problem with medical care (very like the cost of education) was cost control — not provisions for payments — ie. insurance … ie. outrageous loans and loans policies. Medicine and Pharma set their own prices in a “””””market””””” where buyers have little/NO choice but to pay. What difference will insurance make — beyond adding unnecessary costs !!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????????

      1. Benedict@Large


        For some reason, people (and especially liberals) don’t want to hear this. Prices are set by providers; not the insurers. Insurers are given 20% of the premiums on group insurance, and 25% on individual insurance. This is set by the law. An insurer cannot profit by denying you a procedure; he can only lower your rates. And if you eliminate insurers, you seill have to do the payments and cost control functions. Those don’t go away.

        The fact is that if you want your medical bills to be lower, you either have to dramatically increase supply, or institute severe cost controls, and Congress is simply not willing to do either. It is far easier for them to simply let you die.

        1. JTFaraday

          Agree we’re evading the issue in its entirety by focusing only on the middle man. Think Congress should both increase supply and institute cost controls. This would be good for the rest of the economy all around, before the sheer irrationality of this bureaucratic monstrosity chokes it to death.

  7. Lee

    ‘The psychology of “little choice but to own what they’ve been accused of” was captured by Shakespeare in Sonnet 121, also — coincidentally? — about what we understand today as queerness: “Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed / When not to be receives reproach of being.” ‘

    For those like myself who find Shakespeare syntactically challenging:

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I love Shmoop! The language is a little informal… But I like their close readings. If you want fun book with close reading, try Helen Vendler’s terrific The Art of Shakespeares’ Sonnets. Here are the opening paragraphs on Sonnet 121:


      This is a little dense, but the book as a whole is very readable.

  8. steelhead

    I sent in my absentee ballot last week. Voted for Jill in a Red State. Wrote in candidates in seven races due to no competition. Voted no in all local judicial races due to no competition. I feel that is the best protest vote with the limited resources available for quality candidates.

    1. shinola

      “… with 26 percent saying the nation would do better to select its next leader in a random lottery.”

      1. makedoanmend

        A bad idea?

        Or would such a nation find the means to provide basic education (including basic maths, logic and rhetorical skills) to all its citizens so that anyone who passed muster would have the tools necessary to be a potentially decent president. (no guarantees – too many other factors at play)

        Would random choice in chance settings make people realise that we are not control of this planet, let alone the universe, and start cutting each other some slack? That chance is and will always be the in the pilot seat?

        But, wait, what would happen to all the PR people, syncophants, bureaucratic hangers-on, bottom-kissers, Billionaire donars and the entire military-industrial complex?

        These people would be left hanging. What was I thinking? Quel horror!

        And we would miss the Barbie and Ken beauty contest to see who wins our hearts every four years. (my eyes bleed, my ears ring and my brain dies a wee bit every day when I see and hear our current crop of Kens and Barbies the world over)

  9. jrs

    Map should be adjusted for population, otherwise it’s very misleading. Those blue counties could have 100 times the population of the red counties (and quite probably do!). Hey if we still aspire to one person one vote as even a theoretical ideal.

    1. sleepy

      The map is from an article which used it to reflect on the economies and political leanings of certain geographical areas–for example, agriculture and energy extraction in red states, as well as the urban/rural political split.

      1. LifelongLib

        Re red state agriculture, the government sure could save a lot of money by eliminating farm subsidies and irrigation projects and such…

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      There remains a great deal left to be said for the interests of the red counties you would swamp with blue votes. Red counties are very gun control conscious AND munitions control conscious and many of the people in those red counties rely on guns to help them take the game which keeps meat in their freezers.

      Townies — you may worry about bizzaro gun violence — but the rural areas need guns and ammunition to put meat on their tables.

      1. hunkerdown

        Don’t tell the credentialled that the rurals regularly get meat without a money transaction, or they’ll flip their s–t.

  10. Katharine

    This just in from Bernie:

    Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a very dire warning this week. You need to see it:

    “If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”

    A healthy reminder of why those down-ballot races matter. I would love to see Bernie chair that committee!

    1. Pat

      I’d be happier if the Democratic Leadership of the Senate were confirming that.
      Glad that Republicans consider Bernie scary, but unfortunately I’m pretty sure that most of the Democratic regulars do as well.

      1. dcblogger

        they do fear him, he has a fundraising list that can outraise the rest of the Democratic Senate Caucus combined, so they don’t dare cross him.

        1. hunkerdown

          As someone on The Oil Drum once wrote, “Saudi Aramco has contracts, not customers.” Unless they’re running a particular ad campaign, penny-candy means nothing to them, aside from money taken out of the hands of idle workers. The Resnicks and Haim Saban place clearer, more specific, less expensive* orders and make life much easier at the register.

          Do you have any information to suggest the Democrat Party’s attitude toward him is fear rather than hate? The former seems rather out of character.

          * With respect to the aristocracy, roughly defined as those who define themselves as the only people and interests what matter, and by whatever means manage to avoid being told otherwise.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Perhaps this is why Bernie’s hitting the trail quite so hard for HRC, even though it makes all of us queasy?

      Who says politicians can’t campaign strategically like many try to vote strategically?

      1. RMO

        I would hazard a guess that you’re correct about that. Of course his actions since being screwed out of the nomination (difficult to watch though they may be) have also done an exceptional job of showing what a complete load of B.S. all that stuff about him being a wild-eyed idealist who would be completely unable to compromise and unable work out deals to get some degree of change to happen was.

    3. Benedict@Large

      When was the last time anyone saw the Clintons keep a promise to the left?

      And Hillary? She hates the left so badly that she can’t even cough up a lie or two for their votes, even if it costs her the election.

    4. Jen

      That email was the one thing that might make me vote for my Dem senate candidate. I’m hoping Bernie has made it clear that a debt will be owed.

      1. aab

        Please don’t vote for a corporatist Democrat because of something Paul Ryan says.

        Hillary is running to achieve a Republican Senate. She probably will. If through some miracle the Democrats take the Senate, they will immediately elevate whatever conservative they need to to create faux obstacles to progressive legislation, just like they did for Obama’s first term. They won’t have to do much; there is NO WAY they’ll have a 60 seat majority, which, you know, is the Democratic Party definition of “majority.” Bernie in charge of Budget or HELP is better than anybody else being in charge of those committees — but mostly because he might stop terrible things. Schumer would run the Senate, and will do everything he can to undermine Bernie. Can’t have a real progressive demonstrating successes.

        Bernie’s Vets bill went through with Republican cooperation. I think a Republican Senate would actually hurt his effectiveness less than a Schumer-led one under President Clinton II.

        Meanwhile, that corporatist you help elect thinking you’re empowering Bernie and progressive change? Schumer will help the corporatist stay in power, long after Bernie has been forced out.

  11. Octopii

    Re: the insurance gap

    My SO and I are part of that on-the-edge group – royally screwed since the ACA went into effect. Because the subsidy is calculated on a national average, the gap is large in high cost areas such as DC, NYC, SF, etc…

    I kept my non-ACA plan as long as possible but since going onto the Marketplace my choice has been massive premiums, massive deductibles, or, lately, both. My strategy has been to reduce the coverage every year as premiums have risen 25-40% annually. The 2017 letter just came yesterday, and the premium is up over $500 again, with a $6500 deductible and HSA — these plans pay *nothing* until the deductible is met, and to twist the knife the HSA contribution limit is about $3500 so you can’t even pay the full deductible with pre-tax money. So there’s your skin in the game.

  12. grayslady

    Regarding wet wipes, I first learned of these several years ago when a friend had two visitors from Holland stay with him for a couple of weeks. The woman brought wet wipes, not realizing that they really aren’t suitable for U.S. plumbing. My friend ended up with a very expensive visit from the plumber when the whole toilet overflowed.

    Bidets have been around in some form or another for hundreds of years and are the preferable method for cleanliness. Even without a separate bidet, many toilet manufacturers now manufacturer a combination bidet-toilet so no excuse for flushing plastic particles into our waters.

    1. hunkerdown

      Add-on bidets that mount under the seat can be gotten for around $30. Naturally, in America, where hospitality is just a consumer disposable product package size class, most won’t.

    2. Grebo

      A hotel I once stayed in in Egypt had a sprayer on a hose next to the toilet which worked very well. Low tech, inexpensive, effective.
      I use baby wipes at home but bin them and incinerate later. Don’t want to be clogging my septic.

    3. Waldenpond

      Local event…. the residents of a care home on the top of a slight hill used wipes. The wipes clogged the pipe at the bottom of the hill of course and over a weekend backed up and flowed into a dental office nearer the bottom of the hill. Yes, a home of 50 residents, staff and visitors backed up into another building strictly because of wipes. Lawsuits back and forth.

  13. Grizziz

    Re: ETFs
    My biggest concern as a holder of ETFs in my retirement plan is that the sponsors do not actually have possession of the underlying securities. I can easily imagine that there is a huge float between the security firms relying on the assumption that the securities can be had if the securities are needed. I know this is speculative, but with so many entities besides ETF sponsors, like pensions, hedge funds and PE firms owning a diminishing supply of stock, I wonder if anyone neutral is keeping track.

    1. JohnnyGL

      “My biggest concern as a holder of ETFs in my retirement plan is that the sponsors do not actually have possession of the underlying securities.” — As far as I know this isn’t an issue for ETFs (or mutual funds). They are closed-end funds. If you sell them, you are trading to another buyer on the secondary market, not creating/redeeming shares like in mutual funds. Third Ave was a mutual fund company, which can suffer from liquidity issues if there’s a rush of redemptions.

      Regarding ETFs, what’s more likely is that in a crunch, the market price gets driven below the NAV.

      I worry more about ETNs in that they’re simply unsecured debt contracts with a given bank or other entity where they promise to pay based on the performance of an index. I’m rusty on this, but I think your concerns may be more valid on the precious metals and commodity ETFs. They don’t have barrels of oil or bars of gold, just contracts linked to the price of those things. Those are only as good as the contracts underlying them.

  14. Waldenpond

    Oh, the battles over wipes. Never, NEVER put anything down the toilet except waste and TP. Never, NEVER put grease down the sink. Don’t use oils in the bath either. And please don’t get me started on people ‘re-mineralizing’ their teeth by brushing with clay and putting that down the sink. Spit it in the garbage, it’s clay.

    Teach the kids where to turn off the water and always made them participate in any clog resolutions. After experiencing their first grease/hair balls or an overflowing toilet, they will understand why the rule is so basic.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t think you want to venture into how teenage sons might affect the plumbing — I don’t.

      I think plumbing affects might be the way to help the clueless ruling classes grasp their tenuous hold on our affections. If their shit stinks not — block their sewers. The rich don’t give a shit and sewers FOR THEM are superfluous. Don’t we know where they live?

  15. Alex morfesis

    This was a gr8 election season, with two outliers showing how the tuckpointing on the brick work has washed away and the facade is only held up by inertia…a few days after election day 2018 will be the 100th anniversary of the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month…where enough pitchforkers had been killed off the nobility could get back to living the good life…and everyone nodded at and then ignored wilsons 14 points which everyone had agreed would be the basis for the peace…note number 8…the agreement to At The Armistice was agreed to by the german military…who then proceeded to wipe their private parts with it and claimed they were “robbed”…robbed eye tellya…

    Look forward to five new solid political parties stalking the wounded prey 12 months from now and leading to a vastly different political landscape in 2019…

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The current “winner-takes-all” system tends to strongly favor two parties like those the US hasn’t. I would be pleased enough if we might discover we had two parties after this election. I cannot vote Republicrat — Dupulican — you pick — for reasons of health. My allergies dement me to vote Green.

  16. JTMcPhee

    Hey, KIDS! Want your own access to BILL GATES? You too can be the first on your block to speak directly to the Man! Here’s all you have to do: collect five holograms from Certified Microsoft Product Packages and send them with you parents’ check for $1 million to BILL GATES, at the most convenient Foundation office, http://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/contact-us

    OR, even easier, sign up for the Bill Gates Blog, “Gates Notes,” by clicking through to this link, https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Accelerating-Innovation?WT.mc_id=20161018124154_AcceleratingInnovation_BG-TW&WT.tsrc=BGTW&linkId=30063675, and following the prompts!

    The current topic is “Accelerating Innovation and making the Gates Even Wealthier! by diverting more public and private money to Microsoft and other interlocking-directorate-related Innovators and Job Creators ™!”

    Billbot thanks you for your service!

    For more humor, try this: https://twitter.com/i/redirect?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FBillGates%2Fstatus%2F788359474771849217%3Ft%3D1%26cn%3DZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%253D%253D%26refsrc%3Demail%26iid%3Dac8d8dea643348ac80d7378f137f9840%26uid%3D3431496159%26nid%3D244%2B272699393&t=1&cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&sig=2ad409d9d0769236dd72241d99adb6cce5ac2f5d&iid=ac8d8dea643348ac80d7378f137f9840&uid=3431496159&nid=244+272699393

  17. john

    I’ve been listening to Boston NPR shoot it’s unstated agenda in the foot most of the day.

    First, an email scandal they can’t help but compare to Clinton removes a general from Raytheon’s board…

    Second, they talk all day about Trump being outrageous for suggesting the election will be stolen. Even Obama got in on the act.

    It’s strange how well he gets along with the press these days.

    Don’t expect to hear the phrase ‘lame duck’ much at all until after Hillary is official.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Didn’t someone coin the phrase National Propaganda Radio for NPR? I do hope Hillary blesses their coffers with more government swill post election /sarc. I regret every penny I sent to support their sorry asses. I tried to volunteer to help them in Dallas and saw from the inside what a sham NPR was. The only wonder I had was why so many commercial entities remained so remarkably dense to the low priced relatively high impact commercials they could buy from NPR.

      I hope the NPR founders are dead — to save them from the shame — at least those founders of good heart at the time — if any — and I hope there were some.

      1. LifelongLib

        Well, during the health care debates that led to ObamaCare, Hawaii Public Radio was running locally produced programs advocating single-payer. Its music programs are better than NPR’s too. For that I still support the local stations even though they air a lot of NPR stuff.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    There’s an old and much revered means for storing corn — and other grains. Get you copper kettle and get you a copper coil and cover with newmade cornmash …

    Shay’s rebellion is old history and little remembered. If 420 fails we will need some remedy for the “happy moments” of the future.

    1. Savanarola

      “And you never more will toil . . .you just lay down by the juniper while the moon is bright,”

      Oh wait, I thought we were doing blue grass.?

  19. john

    Oh, also, alot of sources are saying Netflix is over-valued.

    Perhaps the Twitter non-sale is causing some consternation on Wall St.

    Who else has any business buying a pumped-up tech stock than another business already in the same boat?

  20. Indrid Cold

    We know who John Oliver works for. I am sick of the entire ‘media’ establishment. Doesn’t matter if you identify left or right, they’re playing you. Like a fiddle. Thanks Edward Bernays! Pray for the Meteor. This species is doomed.

  21. Buttinsky

    An extraordinary plot to frame Julian Assange for pedophilia and get him to take $1,000,000 from the “Russian government.” Wikipedia had tweeted about this a few days ago, but no media picked it up. Finally, today, who should publicize it but… Democratic Party propaganda central Daily Kos. Wikileaks responds with a detailed account of how the entrapment was set up, by a phony dating site, and rebuffed by Wikileaks.


      1. hunkerdown

        One silver lining is that at least one alleged “IT contractor” made of hacks has lost their UN endorsed legitimacy.

        I’m entertained and a bit surprised to watch how much trouble the Mighty Wurlitzer has adjusting to tempo changes and ornery syncopating performers. Wikileaks missing a beat the night before Assange was scheduled to be Of Interest was telling.

    1. Baby Gerald

      They sure like the honey-trap method, don’t they? To try a pedophilia trap on the guy is next-level dastardliness. What dirt-bags come up with these things?

      On a related note, I love how the common refrain in the news stories (particularly the ones yesterday about his internet getting cut off) is that Assange is hiding in the Ecuadorian consulate to avoid facing sex crime allegations in Sweden. Never do these outlets continue to explain to their readers or viewers that Assange’s real fear is Sweden extraditing him off to the United States– which is clearly the intent of both the Swedish and US governments.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      ..and who sits in a pool of its own fetid filth at the center of this attempted smear? None other than DailyKos. Why am I less than surprised?

      1. Waldenpond

        Ok, I looked.

        DK posted: [Julian Assange investigated for online grooming of 8-year-old girl], changed it to [Julian Assange alleged investigation], deleted it [I have removed this diary pending investigation.], and then demonstrating acute self-awareness posted:[Wikileaks names DailyKos as source of “Smear Campaign” against Julian Assange]

        I was reading comments on the podestaemail hashtag and gave up as the comments have very little to do with the emails and consist of wacky “PROOF the Ds killed Scalia” but the same is true for the DK comments. Jeesh.

      1. hunkerdown

        several orthogonal axes of cray cray intersecting

        Prime bathos and an exquisite understatement! The first of many axes that comes to mind is, “What’s an online dating site have to do with encouraging contraception in imperial sacrifice zones emerging economies, anyway?”

  22. ewmayer

    o Consumer Price Index, September 2016: “Progress is being made at the headline level but less so on the core” [Econoday]. ” — To paraphrase a line from Pale Rider, whose progress – theirs or ours?

    o The Bezzle: “Private Tech Growth as an Asset Class” … Clearly, it’s unfair of me to throw all of Silicon Valley into the Bezzle bucket. — OTOH it would have been eminently fair of you to throw the academic-cover-providers-for-elite-looters at Hahhvid in there. It’s a big bucket! (Though not as large as HRC’s basket-of-basket-cases.)

  23. allan

    Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, Bill and Melinda Gates considered as Clinton’s running mate [Seattle Times]

    Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Howard Schultz were among those being considered for vice president by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, according to a list included in a hacked email released Tuesday by WikiLeaks.

    The email was sent in March by John Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s campaign, and included several “food groups” of possible candidates, including Latinos, women, white male politicians, black men, military leaders and corporate and philanthropic leaders. Then-opponent Bernie Sanders was listed in a category all his own.

    The three Seattle-area luminaries were among the corporate and philanthropic leaders the Clinton team was considering.

    None of the three has held public office. …

    Delusional. But pragmatically delusional.

  24. EvilTechCorpWorker

    Re: Datacenters

    I know it’s a small nitpick, but as someone who works in the industry. The data centers are mostly in the blue areas. SF Bay, LA, Loudoun County Virginia, NYC Metro Area, etc.

  25. Cry Shop

    Rickmers owns (non-container) general cargo and specialist/engineering vessels, so their collapse is a good indication of what has been happening in infrastructure spending, particularly by both Asian and Oil Export Driven economies.

    longer term risk If their shipping navigation related vessels, particularly the dredges, wind up arrested, it could have serious blowback on Post-Panamax and other deep draft vessels.

  26. Plenue

    >“The Chase” [London Review of Books]

    “The only other painting at the National Gallery that comes close to its depiction of speed is Titian’s Death of Actaeon…”

    Oh, man, what. My first thought upon seeing Turners painting was ‘Jesus Christ that is ugly’. And the absolute last (as in not at all) was ‘wow, it conveys such a sense of speed’.

    1. Waldenpond

      hmmm, He kneecapped his own campaign by agreeing to eliminate attacks on Clinton, he advocated for action at the convention and then made a deal w/Clinton that left his delegates hanging in the wind, started a fund/org to block his supporters from seeking third party candidates, he’s campaigning for Clinton with the expectation he would get the chair positions he is next in line for and they are now going to deny him? Please, no one state it’s his turn.

  27. allan

    Zuckerberg group proposes changes to Obama ‘startup visas’ [The Hill]

    The immigration advocacy group associated with Mark Zukerberg is offering up recommendations for a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal that would allow foreign entrepreneurs to come to the United States.

    The group, FWD.us, submitted the revisions jointly with a coalition of 23 other groups, tech founders and tech executives. The submission was made as part of the of the the DHS’s 45-day period for comment on their proposed International Entrepreneur Rule or “startup visa.” …

    In their comment to the DHS, FWD.us outlined six eligibility revisions to the rule: reducing the minimum funding of a business in question from $345,000 to $250,000 from U.S. investors; increasing the visa term from a potential of five years to eight; broadening the definition of a U.S. investor; reducing the amount of jobs a startup must create; …

    FWD.us, who is affiliated with high-profile individuals in tech like Bill Gates and Marissa Mayer, has been an outspoken advocate for immigration reform and revisions to the H-1B visa.

    The pillaging will continue until the morale improves.

  28. JTFaraday

    “Racist is the new queer. The same daring, transgressional psychology that, for gay people, converted an insult into a durable token of identity may persuade a mass of people who otherwise would not have challenged the social taboo surrounding racism to accept the epithet with defiant equanimity or even to embrace it.”

    They don’t even have to do that. They just say they are “not-PC.” They are opposed to identity politics, trigger warnings, and safe spaces. The true champions of liberty and free speech are they.

    Rarified segments of liberal academia have been doing a version of this since the 1990s, only they call it “the intellectual position,” as opposed to the knee jerk liberal/left position– or an array of them thereof. This is how liberal war hawks talked us into the war in Iraq.

    You’ve never seen so many “intellectuals.”

    1. Plenue

      Liberals aren’t leftists. As a leftist I actually care about those quaint Enlightenment ideas like free speech.

      1. JTFaraday

        I was going to end that with some comment on some kind of renewal of enlightenment ideals, (and I stress IDEALS). However, I don’t equate the left and enlightenment ideals any more than said liberals do.

        Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. I consider Madison’s emphasis on the plurality of political interests a definite advance of a sort within the history of western political thought,.

  29. kimsarah

    Washington Post:

    “While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Secretary Kerry or the State Department were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
    “Reports that Secretary Kerry had conversations with Ecuadoran officials about this are simply untrue,” the statement read.

  30. Jim

    Its surprising that the “Election Angst” essay in Interfluidity did not focus more on the concept of nationalism as a cause of collective bonding.

    One of the key attractions of nationalism is the creation, on a collective level, of a sense of national dignity. Nationalism gives people a reason to feel proud.

    The adoption of a national identity was usually preceded by the dissatisfaction of powerful groups within a particular country with a previous identity–or the creation and development of an identity crisis within such influential groups.

    Such individuals/groups were usually experiencing some type of status inconsistency which often led to resentment which, in turn could lead to the adoption of a new identity.

    We may be in the early stages on the part of many Trump supporters, of turning insults thrown at them into a new form of identity. Such identity may have at its core a legitimate concern with status–a burning desire/demand to be treated as equals by those who are throwing the insults.

  31. Roland

    My thinking about who is responsible for the Clinton hacks now runs like this:

    1. Of course, I got no hard evidence.

    2. I assume that the hackers are objectively pro-Trump.

    3. I’m taking a “cui bono?” approach.

    4. There is some reason to suspect Russian gov’t. Trump would be better for Russia than Clinton.

    5. But risks for Russia: getting blamed for the hacks gets them into more trouble with USA/NATO. In other words, there’s upside for Russia hacking Clinton to help Trump, but there’s also blowback.

    6. Is Russia the only one who fits the “cui bono” ? How about British nationalists working within the UK intelligence establishment?

    7. Clinton presidency means an arch-globalist in charge in the USA, bent on making sure UK goes back into the fold. Trump would be much more favourable to a real Brexit for UK (“another nation trying to get out of a lousy deal”).

    8. British intelligence has all the technical capability to do the hacks, and kick over the traces. Indeed, British intelligence helped construct the entire global data surveillance regime as it now exists. Also, UK agents have easy contact to Assange in his place of exile–by means of the very men who are set to watch over him.

    9. We have previous examples of highly successful hacking and spying amongst the Western allies, e.g. during the recent rounds of trade talks.

    10. Much less blowback risks for Brit nationalists working within their intelligence establishment. They’re unlikely to get blamed in the first place, and since they’re the spooks who are meant to catch the spooks, who’s ever gonna catch them?

    11. If the Russians get blamed, that’s no bad thing for a Brit nationalist. An anti-Russian Clinton, while not as good as Trump for a pro-Brexit MI guy, nevertheless is going to want to foster all that old “special relationship” stuff.

    12. In other words, there’s nothing but upside for pro-Brexit agents within the UK intelligence to hack Clinton. If they help Trump win, that’s ideal. If Clinton still wins, but Russia gets blamed, that’s not a total loss. At any rate, minimal blowback.

    “Well done, Bond.”

    “All part of the service.”

  32. Oregoncharles

    ” So we just leafleted entire apartment complexes with pre-addressed voter registration applications.” I love nuts and bolts stuff like this. Greens should read it.”

    Shows a lot of confidence in their analysis of likely party loyalties.

    I’ve handed out a lot of voter registration forms when tabling – the only way there’s much chance of them registering Green. However, I always offer to turn in the forms if they fill them out, because that’s the only way I know it actually happens – and because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I’ve handed in Republican registrations, too, a requirement (usually I don’t look). I’m not concerned about us being attacked over it, though, a luxury of living in a very civilized town and state.

    Registrations are critical to our ballot access in Oregon, so it’s something we always push and have studied a lot. Just papering an apartment building might yield some Democratic registrations and a few Green – but depending on the place, it could get you a lot of Republicans, too. Increasing total registrations without increasing our own is against our interests.

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