2:00PM Water Cooler 10/27/2016

I’m about to take down the thermometers from the 2016 Fundraiser. Thank you, readers, for helping us to exceed our goals! However, if you somehow missed out, you can visit our fundraiser page to see how to contribute by check, credit or debit card, or PayPal. And thanks again for all your support!

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


CETA: “EU’s Canada free-trade CETA deal could be back on as Walloons agree to last-minute deal” [Telegraph]. “Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel said that Wallonia was now in agreement, and the regional parliaments may now agree to CETA by the end of Friday night, opening the door to the deal being signed. Mr Tusk said that once the regional votes had taken place, he will inform Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Any extra concessions given to Wallonia may mean other countries will want to look again at the deal, however.” (The BBC’s headline, then — “EU-Canada trade deal: Belgians break Ceta deadlock” — is quite irresponsible. As is–

CETA: “Belgium breaks Ceta deadlock” [EUObserver]. Not quite:

Belgium’s political entities agreed to a declaration on Thursday (26 October), which gives their government a green light to sign Ceta, the EU-Canada trade pact.

The agreement was promptly sent to EU ambassadors in Brussels, to be discussed later in the afternoon.

After a week of marathon negotiations, Belgian prime minister Charles Michel said that Thursday’s talks had calmed “outstanding concerns”.

As part of the trade-off, Belgium will ask the European Court of Justice to clarify the proposed investment court system, which was one of the most controversial elements of the trade deal.

Ceta was due to be signed off by EU leaders and Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau at a summit in Brussels on Thursday. Trudeau cancelled the trip during the night as no agreement had been reached in Brussels.

It’s not known when the summit will take place, or whether the Belgian go-ahead was the last hurdle.

The other 27 EU countries must first accept the Belgian deal.

At their meeting on Thursday, EU ambassadors will be accompanied by lawyers and representatives of the EU institutions, who will examine the legality and consequences of the text.

The Walloon parliament will vote on the agreement on Friday.

Still, how do we slay these undead deals? The same thing happened with TPP.

CETA: “The great CETA swindle” [Corporate Europe Observatory]. “The latest PR move is a “joint interpretative declaration” on the trade deal hammered out by Ottawa and Brussels and published by investigative journalist collective Correctiv last Friday. It is designed to alleviate public concerns but in fact does nothing to fix CETA’s flaws. In September, Canada’s Trade Minister, Chrystia Freeland, and her German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, had announced such a text to appease Social Democrats, trade unions and the wider public who fear that CETA would threaten public services, labour and environmental standards and undermine governments’ right to regulate in the public interest. Several governments, notably Austria, had linked their ‘yes’ to CETA to the declaration. [But] According to environmental group Greenpeace, the declaration therefore has the ‘legal weight of a holiday brochure’.”

Legal experts have also warned that the declaration “could be misleading for non-lawyers, who might think that the Declaration will alter or override the CETA”. But it does not change CETA’s legal terms – and it is these terms which have raised concerns. As Canadian law Professor Gus van Harten explains: “Based on principles of treaty interpretation, the CETA will be interpreted primarily according to the text of its relevant provisions…. The Declaration would play a subsidiary role, if any, in this interpretative process.” In other words, legally (and thus politically), the CETA text is far more important than the declaration – and the former could prevail over the latter in case of a conflictive interpretation.

The post then goes on to analyze the provisions of the declaration in detail, comparing them to the text. (Readers may remember that TPP advocates have made the same sort of claim for the TPP Preamble, which the text also over-rides. So, the Belgians are smart to get a court ruling on this. And we might also expect the adminsitration to use similar tactics to (the toothless distraction of) the CETA “resolution” in the upcoming attempt to pass the TPP.

“Belgian officials were discussing a working document aimed at addressing Wallonia’s concerns on the trade deal. The document, published by Belgian state media RTBF, shows that Belgium is moving toward requesting additional safeguards for the agricultural sector ‘in cases of market turbulence.’ It also puts forward a number of requests regarding the investor court system, including ‘progressing towards hiring judges on a permanent basis'” [Politico]. This seems to be a different document from the “declaration”; it was leaked by a different source. Here is is; it’s in French.

TPP: “Eight major financial services industry associations made an appeal to congressional leaders to support passage of the TPP this year, arguing that the deal is ‘vital to ensuring that the U.S. financial services sector remains a vibrant engine for domestic and global growth'” [Politico]. What the heck is a “vibrant engine”? Maybe a screw loose or something? Needs a tightening to stop the shaking and shimmying?

TPP: “Health, labor and consumer groups are warning President Barack Obama to refrain from including a 12-year monopoly period for biological drugs in legislation to implement the TPP as a means for addressing congressional concerns over the pact. The groups argue that such a move could undermine future efforts to shorten that protection period under U.S. law” [Politico]. “The letter, signed by Doctors Without Borders, the AFL-CIO, AARP, Oxfam and Consumers Union, also expresses concern over reports that the administration is prepared to negotiate side letters with TPP countries to reinforce U.S. lawmaker demands that countries respect a 12-year protection period, which reflects U.S. law.”

“The case against free trade – Part 1” [Bill Mitchell].


Days until: 11. That’s only one more than ten days!


“As a longtime Bill Clinton adviser came under fire several years ago for alleged conflicts of interest involving a private consulting firm and the Clinton Foundation, he mounted an audacious defense: Bill Clinton’s doing it, too” [Politico].

“The unusual and brash rejoinder from veteran Clinton aide and Teneo Consulting co-founder Doug Band is scattered across the thousands of hacked emails published by WikiLeaks, but a memo released Wednesday provides the most detailed look to date at the intertwined worlds of nonprofit, for-profit, official and political activities involving Clinton and many of his top aides.

The memo at one point refers bluntly to the money-making part of Clinton’s life as ‘Bill Clinton Inc.’ and notes that in at least one case a company — global education firm Laureate International Universities — began paying Clinton personally after first being a donor to the Clinton Foundation.

I think it’s important for young women and girls to see that a corrupt dynasty can occupy the White House a second time.

“Inside ‘Bill Clinton Inc.’: Hacked memo reveals intersection of charity and personal income” [WaPo]. Gives “intersectionality” a new twist, eh? Rather a lot of detail in this; well worth a read.

War Drums

“Societies Under Siege is a sophisticated account of how, and why, economic sanctions applied in recent years to South Africa, Iraq and Myanmar affected the politics of those three countries without achieving the goals that the Western politicians which dictated them intended” [Asian Affairs].

The Voters

“Goldman Sachs: Election Won’t End Like Brexit” [Barrons, via Across the Curve]. “We think that the upcoming U.S. election won’t end up as another Brexit-styled surprise for for two reasons.”

First, and most importantly, whole both situations represented an opportunity for voters to endorse a change in the status quo, voters in the UK were asked to decide on an idea whereas in the US they are being asked to decide on a person. The distinction is illustrated in US polling by the difference between the small share of Americans who believe the country is moving in the right direction (29%) and majority who approve of the job President Obama is doing (52%).

Second. While the polls conducted on the eve of the referendum vote showed “remain” with a 4.6pp lead, in contrast to the 3.8pp actual vote margin in favor of “leave”, an average of polls published by the Economist magazine the day before the election showed a tied race, and showed “leave” leading for much of the prior month. As much as 10% of the public in many of these surveys was also undecided. By contrast, Sec. Clinton has led the average of presidential polls consistently for more than a year, with the exception of one week in late July following the Republican convention, and for most of the last year her lead has been substantial, averaging 4pp since the last primary elections were held.

Includes a wrap-up of polling methodologies as well.

“Laboratories of change” [Tim Canova, Medium]. Florida referendum proposals. Interesting!


“Less than two weeks from Election Day, Democrats are on track to pick up between 10 and 20 House seats, a slight uptick in their fortunes, but still well short of the 30 seats they need for the majority. Low enthusiasm for the top of the GOP ticket remains a concern for down-ballot Republicans, but Trump isn’t as much of a drag outside of well-educated suburbs, which could limit Democrats’ gains” [Cook Political Report].

The Trail

“Win or lose, the Republican candidate and his inner circle have built a direct marketing operation that could power a TV network—or finish off the GOP” [Bloomberg]. And Trump controls a lot of data. Fascinating article. Son of Berlusconi?

“Texas: Trump 45%, Clinton 42%, Johnson 7% (UT/Texas Tribune); Texas: Trump 45%, Clinton 38%, Johnson 7% (Austin American Statesman); Florida: Clinton 43%, Trump 39%, Johnson 6% (University of North Florida); Pennsylvania: Clinton 46%, Trump 39% (NYT/Siena)” [Political Wire]. FWIW!

UPDATE “20 percent of Florida voters have already cast their ballots” [McClatchy]. The breathless coverage of early voting, and its “historic levels,” is making me crazy. Early voting seems like a terrible idea to me. For some large percent of the population, it renders the last part of the race irrelevant, incentivizing earlier “surprises.” The real answer is to make Election Day a national holiday. Why the heck not?


“For decades, Democratic presidential candidates have been making steady gains among upper income whites and whites with college and postgraduate degrees. This year, however, is the first time in at least six decades that the Democratic nominee is positioned to win a majority of these upscale voters” [New York Times]. “What these figures suggest is that the 2016 election will represent a complete inversion of the New Deal order among white voters. From the 1930s into the 1980s and early 1990s, majorities of downscale whites voted Democratic and upscale whites voted Republican. Now, looking at combined male and female vote totals, the opposite is true.”

“Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats’ Madame Defarge, and Bernie Sanders, winner of 22 millennial-fueled primaries, are going to guarantee the revolution’s purity in any Clinton presidency” [Wall Street Journal, “The Warren-Sanders Presidency”]. “For starters, they have a list. Politico reported in early September that Sen. Warren and progressive policy groups such as the Roosevelt Institute are ‘developing a hit list of the types of people they’ll oppose—what one source called ‘hell no’ appointments—in a Clinton administration.'” Well, we can but hope that the Roosevelt Institute has improved since 2011. Readers?

Democrat Email Hairball

UPDATE “Podesta tops Clinton’s short list for chief of staff” [Politico]. “Podesta, the architect of President Barack Obama’s climate initiatives, is also rumored to be interested in a potential Cabinet post, such as energy secretary. But that road would require Senate confirmation, which could be an opening for hearings on the WikiLeaks release of his hacked email — in total, the site plans to release 50,000 emails revealing behind-the-scenes dealmaking going back 10 years.”

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, September 2016: “Flat is the takeaway from the September durable goods report” [Econoday]. “Capital goods data are mixed. The good news is a 0.3 percent rise in core shipments (nondefense ex-aircraft) and an upward revision to August which is now unchanged. These results should give a boost to the business investment component of tomorrow’s third-quarter GDP report. But the bad news is the indication on future core shipments as orders fell a very steep 1.2 percent. … A concern in the report is continuing contraction in unfilled orders….” But: “This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the three month rolling average which improved but remains in contracton. The real issue here is that inflation is starting to grab in this sector making real growth much less than appears at face value” [Econintersect]. And but: “This should have been doing better by now, indicating that, in general, unspent income is still not being sufficiently offset by deficit spending, public or private” [Mosler Economics].

Jobless Claims, week of October 22, 2016: “Initial jobless claims fell” [Econoday]. “All of the data in this report are at or near historic lows. Employers are holding onto their employees even as employment growth has slowed this year.” But: “The trend of the 4 week moving average is continuing to marginally worsened. The trend of year-over-year improvement of initial unemployment claims is moderating – and this trend historically indicates a weakening GDP” [Econintersect].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, October 2016: “A year-and-a-half of unrelenting contraction makes for easy comparisons, a factor behind what is now a rising trend for Kansas City manufacturing” [Econoday]. “Not all the early indications on this month’s factory activity are positive but the data in this report, along with the Philly Fed and national PMI flash, are definitely positive and are pointing to a fast start for the fourth quarter.” And: “̌ The Kansas City region was hit hard by the decline in oil prices, and it appears activity is starting to expand again” [Calculated Risk].

Pending Home Sales Index, September 2016: “Final sales of existing homes picked up sharply in September as did contract signings. Pending sales rose 1.5 percent in the month for the best showing since April” [Econoday]. And: “[A]bove expectations” [Calculated Risk]. But: “The unadjusted data shows the rate of year-over-year growth slowed this month. Even though I view the minutiae of the data differently, I agree with the [National Association of Realtors’] bottom line. There is not enough inventory – and this is slowing sales volumes all whilst creating a price bubble.” (The Econoday summary does not mention the NAR bottom line.)

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of October 23, 2016: “[U]p an outsized 2.6 points” (but volatile) [Econoday].

Household Income: “The September 2016 median is not significantly different than the median of $57,403 in December 2007, the beginning month of the recession that occurred more than eight years ago” [Econintersect]. “And the September 2016 median is now 0.8 percent lower than the median of $58,085 in January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series.” Thanks, Obama!

Shipping: “[UPS] company said average daily shipments in the U.S. increased 5.7% in its latest quarter” [Wall Street Journal, “UPS’s Revenue Tops Views”]. Hmm. Stuff is moving.

Shipping: “Drewry estimates that [shipping container] revenue for 2016 may reach $143 billion, although this means a negative trend when compared to $218 billion earned in 2012” [Guardian Nigeria]. “We forecast industry profitability to recover next year, thanks to improving freight rates and slightly higher cargo volumes, and so record a modest operating profit of $2.5 billion in 2017,’ it said. … ‘The fact that the order book is at a virtual standstill is a major positive as is rapidly increased scrapping. But even so, the next two years will still be very challenging on the supply side with annual fleet growth of between 5 per cent and 6 per cent and many more ultra large container vessels (ULCVs) to be delivered,’ Drewry said.”

Rail: “Norfolk Southern felt the ongoing decline in commodities business, with revenue from coal and chemicals off by double digits. But the railroad is also slashing costs and says it’s on its way to productivity savings of more than $650 million. That could bring a big boost in profits if demand heats up” [Wall Street Journal].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 43, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 27 at 11:21am. It’s like the kids don’t want to go into the haunted house, even if it is starting to rain.

Heatlh Care

“Health Law Tax Penalty? I’ll Take It, Millions Say” [New York Times]. “Some consumers who buy insurance on the exchanges still feel vulnerable. Deductibles are so high, they say, that the insurance seems useless. So some think that whether they send hundreds of dollars to the I.R.S. or thousands to an insurance company, they are essentially paying something for nothing.”

“An expert explains what is broken with Obamacare — and how to fix it” [Vox]. Larry Levitt, expert: “I think of the mandate as going hand in hand with the subsidies. It is entirely possible that both the mandate penalty and the premium subsidy are too small to make coverage affordable and convince enough people that they should buy it.” Because markets. And shame, shame on Sarah Kliff for letting Levitt leave single payer off the table.

“Drug maker thwarted plan to limit OxyContin prescriptions at dawn of opioid epidemic” [Stat]. You can fit the players right into this post: “Credentialism and Corruption: The Opioid Epidemic and ‘the Looting Professional Class.'”

Our Famously Free Press

“Facebook’s Trending Algorithm Can’t Stop Fake News, Computer Scientists Say” [Buzzfeed].

By scaling internationally, Facebook is creating a situation whereby future Trending failures will potentially occur at a scale unheard of in the history of human communication. Fake stories and other dubious content could reach far more people faster than ever before.

For Trending to become a reliable, global product, it will need to account for the biases, bad actors, and other challenges that are endemic to Facebook and the news media. Put another way, in order to succeed, the Trending algorithm needs to be better than the very platform that spawned it. That’s because fake news is already polluting the platform’s News Feed organically. A recent BuzzFeed News analysis of giant hyperpartisan Facebook pages found that 38% of posts on conservative pages and 19% of posts on liberal pages featured false or misleading content

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Rise of the American Mercenary” [The American Conservative]. ” [T]he rise of the contractor to wage America’s military operations is Obama’s silent national-security legacy, with more dead contractors on his watch (1,540 as of March) and little or no transparency about who these contractors are and what they do. [Foreign Policy writer Micah Zenko] scoffed at Obama’s insistence that he has pursued a ‘fight U.S. footprint’ across these lonflict zones. “Were it not for these contractors, Obama’s ‘light footprint’ would suddenly be two or three times as large,’ Zenko wrote.”


” Globalization has greased the slippery slope from factory to landfill by enabling the global distribution of defective parts. Whether they are pirated, designed to fail or just the result of slipshod quality control, the flood of defective parts guarantee that the entire assembly they are installed in–stoves, vacuum cleaners, transmissions, electronics, you name it–will soon fail and be shipped directly to the landfill, as repairing stuff is far costlier than buying a new replacement” [Of Two Minds].

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was slated to hold four days of public meetings, Oct. 18-21, focused on essentially one question: Is glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, safe?” [Alternet]. “However, the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) meetings were ‘postponed,’ just four days before they were suppose to meet, after intense lobbying by the agrichemical industry, including Monsanto.”

Guillotine Watch

Class Warfare

“Iowans on their wages: ‘I’m not stupid or lazy. It’s just not there'” [Des Moines Register].

News of the Wired

“Ig Nobel perception prize winner Atsuki Higashiyama: ‘Psychology teaches us to be scientific and skeptical'” [Japan Times].

“HIV’s Patient Zero exonerated” [Nature]. “A study clarifies when HIV entered the United States and dispels the myth that one man instigated the AIDS epidemic in North America.”

“I’m home! Now I will fumble for my phone in my bag, open up my Home app, find the light function, switch it on and voila! Illumination. I remember when I used to have to lift my finger and flip the switch. Ha! Losing those 10 seconds is worth feeling like I’m in the future! This is some cutting-edge shit. It’s too bad these smart lightbulbs helped take down the internet last week” [Medium]. Yeah, basically.

“IoT Growing Faster Than the Ability to Defend It” [Scientific American]. “[C]onsumers will likely start paying more attention when they realize that someone could spy on them by hacking into their home’s Web cameras.”

* * *

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):


Rainbow Girl: “Honies and Russolas.. Just picked … And then sauteed (garlic, olive oil, butter)… with prosciutto & raviolis!” 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. John

        Needs some primary color garnishes…dark green, red and/or yellow. Pastel pink and pale ivory/yellow against dark brown and black just doesn’t cut it. Looks like compost.
        Our lizard brains are wired for color clarity and saturation. Mushrooms have always been a gamble. Healthy delicious food or tripping out in agony for three days before you die.

    1. beth

      I think mushrooms are delicious! It’s OK that everyone enjoys them.

      LOOKS? I once was eating home-cooked delicious healthy food that I had carried in to work and my colleagues were eating food from Sonic (cheap fast food), when one woman looked over at my bowl to comment, “Oh, that looks terrible.”

      That ended my ever again thinking that looks tell us anything. Sonic has amazingly pretty pictures of sugary delights. Edward Bernays anyone? We are being brain-washed.

  1. Jim Haygood

    Obama’s silent national-security legacy, with more dead contractors on his watch (1,540 as of March)

    General George Washington’s Continental Army crossed the Delaware River to make a surprise attack on the Hessians on the early morning of December 26, 1776. In the Battle of Trenton, the Hessian force of 1,400 was wiped out by the Continentals, with about 20 killed, 100 wounded, and 1,000 captured.

    The Hessians captured in the Battle of Trenton were paraded through the streets of Philadelphia to raise American morale; anger at their presence helped the Continental Army recruit new soldiers.


    What would George Washington, with his old-fashioned notion of honor, say to Barky 0zero and his mercenary army of contractors and indigenous terrorist groups?

    1. rich

      When CIA and NSA Workers Blow the Whistle, Congress Plays Deaf

      Do the committees that oversee the vast U.S. spying apparatus take intelligence community whistleblowers seriously?

      Do they earnestly investigate reports of waste, fraud, abuse, professional negligence, or crimes against the Constitution reported by employees or contractors working for agencies like the CIA or NSA?

      For the last 20 years, the answer has been a resounding “no.”


    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Did George really cut down that the cherry tree?

      Looking deeper, were our founding fathers without personal faults? Perhaps some were rude, with too much ego, didn’t say acceptable nice things about many people, etc.

      But none tried to get into the White House (not sure it existed then) through a personal foundation.

    3. I Have Strange Dreams

      Well, George and his buddies thought that black people were only 5/8ths human. He probably would have had him whipped or mutilated for being uppitiy.

    1. shinola

      Great article – thanks for the link! A snippet:

      “So let’s recap Hillary’s America, past, present, and future. It’s a land lacking in meaningful structural reform of the financial system, a place where the big banks have been, and will continue to be, coddled by the government. No CEO will be jailed, no matter how large the fines his bank is saddled with or how widespread the crimes it committed. Instead, he’s likely to be invited to the inaugural ball in January.”

      Contains many other good observations; good enough that I hope Yves or Lambert consider it for tomorrow’s Links or Water-cooler.

  2. Vatch

    “Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats’ Madame Defarge, and Bernie Sanders, winner of 22 millennial-fueled primaries, are going to guarantee the revolution’s purity in any Clinton presidency”

    I have serious doubts that Warren and Sanders will be able to veto any of Clinton’s choices for office. I think we can expect to see plenty of clones of Eric Holder, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Mary Jo White in a Clinton administration. Similarly, we’ll clones of Donald Rumsfeld, Hank Paulson, and Alberto Gonzales in a Trump administration.

    We missed our chance during the Democratic primaries — the oligarchs saved themselves.

      1. polecat

        there won’t BE a campaign in 2020 at the rate things are going !

        …at least not one that would matter to the 99%

        1. polecat

          …..and Warren & Sanders … they aren’t going to achieve shit …..

          The time for either of them to stand on principle was THIS election …. not four years from now …

          it’s all a pantomime !

          1. Roger Smith

            Precisely… The whole idea that “this is not the time for reform” Is complete crap. If these people are the best we’ve got, we are screwed.

        2. Synoia

          Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats’ Madame Defarge, and Bernie Sanders, winner of 22 millennial-fueled primaries, are going to guarantee the revolution’s purity in any Clinton presidency

          I do not believe “revolutions purity” means much more than continued bribes for access and favors for the Clinton Foundation, or its members.

          Or does it mean “clean money”?

        3. AnEducatedFool

          The only people that can stop Clinton in DC are Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy. Sanders and Warren are going to play ball. They may hold up a nominee or two but Clinton is already working with Republicans to form a unity Cabinet. Sanders and Warren will have no clout if Clinton is able to bring on Republican and Democratic neo-cons/neo-liberals. Granted Warren is a politician now and has clearly embraced Clinton on the trail…too the point that I get sick when I see her. I really really really hope that Berniecrats primary her.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Even the Walloons can be brought to heel. Corporations rule, corruption triumphs, everyone has their price or vulnerability to one lever or another.

            Jolly good show, fellow humans!

          2. Yves Smith

            Warren blocked two Obama appointments by making a huge stink about the nominees’ backgrounds. She embarrassed both into withdrawing and succeeded despite the WaPo, NYT and Wall Street Journal all running the same Administration talking points against her. She literally had only this and Adam Levitin’s blog on her side. She is now way higher profile and Sanders is vastly higher profile than he was.

            1. Ted

              Yves, I hope your right. But I don’t think so. The Clintons have already forced this once distinguished Harvard professor of law to debase herself as a rabid attack dog for the cause. She is done politically as is the old guy from Brooklyn.

              1. Yves Smith

                Huh? She’s been attacking Clinton NOW in the press, before the elections, regarding her potential financial regulatory picks. That is astonishingly ballsy, particularly given how famously vengeful the Clintons are. And you are wrong to say that Sanders is done. Both of them have funding bases outside the DNC’s control, which gives them freedom to operate that other party members don’t have. And Sanders is an independent again, so he is officially outside the party and can ignore its loyalty demands.

    1. grizziz

      Gauranteeing the revolutions purity:
      As I recall, the presidential election is winner-takes-all and to quote Alec Baldwin from the movie Glengary-Glenross, “second place gets a set of steak knives.”
      I suppose that in terms of leverage, it will depend on the outcome of the Senate races to see if Warren or Sanders will get committee chairmanships and thus be able to control legislation. If the Senate does not trun over, Warren and Sanders will be seen as weak.

      Link to Glengary-Glenross – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVQPY4LlbJ4

    2. Pat

      In truth it depends on the numbers AND how obstructionist the Republicans choose to be.

      Will the oligarchs demand that their most rewarded Senators support the usual suspects for confirmation even though they are Clinton nominees regardless of party OR will the Republicans need to continue obstructing the Dems for the base? If it is the former, you are right that the Progressive wing will have little say, the latter could mean that they have some bargaining power, especially if the Dems have the majority and it is embarassing to Clinton.

      Frankly I figure it will be the former for anything the oligarchs care about (which will be pretty much everything Warren cares about) and obstruction for everything else.

      1. craazyboy

        My greatest fear is that the next 4 years will be exactly the same as the last 6 months, including Trump is still running for prez and the media is idolizing Hillary to stop the Trump threat. The Deep State and oligarchs convince Congress they are “stronger together”. WikiLeaks hacks the FBI and deletes the FBI copies of Hillary’s e-mails. ‘Course I could be wrong about that.

        1. jrs

          wow that is a scary thought. Hillary v Trump 2020.

          I think the Republican party might try to stop any Trump threat in the future, but it does a world of good for Hillary and the oligarchs.

          1. pretzelattack

            or they could create a character like emmanual goldstein. they’ve sort of overlaid him on trump, but virtual reality is the bestest.

    3. Daryl

      It’s been a long time since there has been a congressional group with enough solidarity to push things around like this, I have many doubts. (Well, except most of Congress regularly acting to do horrible things like the TPP).

    4. DJG

      I have been wondering if the Democrats are just holding Warren and Sanders out as bait. In a sense, they are bait to the voting public. In a sense, they are bait to see which politicians will be foolhardy enough to make a movement to join them. I suspect that they are being set up to be purged. I’m surprised that the WSJ was so temperate (maybe the editorial board is waiting for the elections). Why didn’t WSJ signal better by calling him Bernie Robespierre and her the Charlotte Corday of the Democratic Party?

      1. Vatch

        they are bait to see which politicians will be foolhardy enough to make a movement to join them. I suspect that they are being set up to be purged.

        Ha! Yes, like Mao’s “Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom” campaign.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think the Clintons already have a very good idea who they’d like to purse (see the various Podesta emails). The issue is whether they will have the power to do so.

      1. Vatch

        Right you are. It was even the subject of an article in NC:


        The article quotes the AP:

        Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were among four members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee opposing Obama’s choices. That led the chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., to postpone a vote set for Thursday.

        One has to wonder whether Schumer will continue to provide support for Warren if Clinton is President. Will Warren and Sanders be able to successfully oppose the establishment Democrats? I hope so.

  3. ChiGal in Carolina

    Greetings all, requesting assistance with something I have been trying to research with no success:

    If you vote down-ticket but not for prez, does this register with whoever tracks these things as none-of-the-above or as apathy? In other words, will you still be counted as a voter rather than someone who stayed home?

    I am increasingly reluctant to vote for Stein (Johnson is out of the question cuz I believe in social justice) cuz I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny. Even so, if I have to vote 3rd party in order for my non-vote for the duopoly to register as such I’ll do it. And no, in North Carolina writing in Bernie won’t even be counted as such.

    Thanks much for any info on this. Surely others have the same dilemma?

    1. Katharine

      You will surely be recorded as a voter if you check in and cast a ballot. Whether anyone will bother to take note of the fact that the number of votes for president is less than the number of voters is another question. I suspect the discrepancy has to be pretty big before they even start speculating, and in all fairness, since speculating is all they can do I’m not sure how much of a message can be sent.

      Anyway, down ballot races can matter a lot, and sometimes ballot questions too, so I hope you’re voting even if you do abstain on that race.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Definitely voting down-ballot. It would be great if the discrepancy was YUUGE – so they couldn’t blame the low number of votes cast for Clump on apathy or low info voters.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          I voted the straight republican ticket. If HRC wins I want her to get impeached immediately.

          Prior to this election, I never voted for any Republican.

          1. Massinissa

            Im in a red state, so I think Im going to vote straight ticket Democrat (except not Hillary) just for that reason.

          2. polecat

            I voted for NO incumbents ….

            If that meant voting for Republican candidates ..well then, so be it …

        2. Annotherone

          @ ChiGal in Carolina – I’m planning on leaving the presidential choice blank too, but will be voting down ticket and in the ballot questions. I’d vote for Stein but she’ll not be on our ballot in OK. Gary Johnson isn’t a good choice for me, unless as a tactical vote, if it might do something useful, but I doubt that. This state will remain deep red, far as I can tell.

          I’ve seen the question of whether leaving the first box empty will negate the whole ballot asked elsewhere, and the answer was similar to Katharine’s, above, plus a link to the relevant rule. (which I regret I now cannot find.)

    2. Carla

      A good reason to vote for Stein is that if she gets 5+% of the vote, the Greens could get federal matching funds in 2020.

      We have to have more choices than the Republicrats!

      1. Arizona Slim

        And would that mean that the Greens would start acting like a real political party? Instead of the ecology club for misfits?

        1. AnEducatedFool

          We were voting for Stein until it became clear that she had no intention of running a political campaign. I expected to see her working her ass off in states that Bernie won by landslides. Instead I see her protesting in North Dakota, again. If she wants to work towards changing the system she needs to actually engage voters who do not watch Democracy Now.

          I am very sad that the Justice Party (Rocky Anderson) is not running this cycle. I plan on joining them once I am settled after my move in March. The Green party is either a controlled opposition party or a group of academics that have no interest in actual politics and prefer to talk amongst themselves.

          I am voting for Trump. I picked up a fee yard sign while out driving but I do not think I can put it on my yard.

            1. aab

              I’m going to disagree with this. I don’t know that much about the Greens, but my understanding is that they do not have a lot of money, and it must have cost something to dramatically expand their ballot access this year. The kind of campaigning the major parties do is expensive. Just having full-time staff to arrange and promote rallies and events for Jill to attend would cost real money.

              Once it became clear her only realistic achievement this cycle would be reaching 5%, stunts like protesting in North Dakota become smart tactics. That got her exposure far beyond the reach of Democracy Now, targeting exactly the kind of high awareness, leftist voter most likely to march to the polls for her knowing she can’t win the election. I bet if you did a cost benefit analysis of what it cost to get Jill Stein to Standing Rock correlated to press and social media hits and exposure, particularly if you factor in the demographics of who saw it and whether it gave them a more or less favorable impression of her and made them more or less likely to promote her in the lead up to the election and then vote for her, that protest gesture would measure up as extremely cost-effective campaigning.

              It’s a David strategy. Jill Stein is in a position where she has to use them. I’m sure there are all sorts of problems with the Greens’ organizational skills and capacity, but her going to Standing Rock was smart, particularly given how tightly it aligns with the Greens’ brand identity (to use marketing speak).

                1. aab

                  No, I don’t, actually, dear Lambert. It was always probable, but there was a possibility — theoretical perhaps, but not nil — that millions of Bernie voters would migrate to Stein, donate, and the Greens would be able to ramp up enough to run a real campaign. Did I expect that? No, I did not. And I think her protesting at Standing Rock would have a smart thing to do in her position regardless. But the argument above mine was, I thought, at least in part a critique that acting explicitly like a movement protester diminished her ability to sell herself as a serious Presidential contender. And even if that might have been true, it certainly became irrelevant once the summer ended, no political miracles occurred, and Jill Stein’s realistic goal became exclusively garnering enough exposure and support to get the Greens to 5% with the corporate media assisting the ruling elite to demonize her.

                  Shorter aab: it was smart, cost-effective campaign PR for Stein, whether or not you believe she ever had a chance at winning even a single state.

          1. Cry Shop


            David Maki makes that point too, pretty funny, but indicative of why I think polls don’t mean very much either way. There are a lot of reasons to not trust any poll in this environment, but particularly with the politicization of workplaces.

    3. nippersdad

      You might look up the process for tabulating undervotes in your state. IIRC, those are pretty closely watched by the state parties.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        thanks, all I could find were old articles about how NC’s straight-party ballot that excludes prez resulted in undervoting – assumed to be in error. but will keep looking. to be safe, guess I’ll vote Stein.

      2. DJG

        ChiGal in Exile: Back in Illinois, an undervote is an undervote. The judges will sometimes tell you that the counting machine has helpfully pointed out that you didn’t vote in certain races. But as mentioned, once you check in at your voting station and obtain your ballot, you are factored in as part of turnout.

        And vote for Stein: After enough droplets fall against it, even a hard rock will start to crack.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Thank you, thank you for acknowledging my sorry state: I miss the Chi like crazy.

          Course it is nice that it actually gets dark here at night – the sky is black instead of orange-purple and i can walk out my door and see the stars…

    4. JeffC

      Forget the Easter Bunny. She can’t win.

      But that’s not the point, is it? The point is to send a multi-part message: (1) You’re disgusted with the two big parties and (2) presumptive winner H had better keep looking over her left shoulder, because you are out there.

      1. nycTerrierist

        Part of me doesn’t want to dignify this illegitimate election with a vote (thanks DNC!), but that wouldn’t be as effective as supporting a third party presence.

      2. JohnnyGL

        I can’t wait until the corp media and her campaign and PAC people start blaming people like us for voting 3rd party, especially if Trump pulls off a shocker! I’m going to own it like a boss!

        Then all those loyal Dems can deal with Trump for four years and think about what all that “unity” got them!

      1. Annotherone

        Ballotpedia says, about undervoting (I suppose this applies to all states?)


        An undervote occurs when the number of choices selected by a voter in an election contest is less than the maximum number allowed for that contest. An undervote also occurs when no vote is cast for a single choice contest.[1] For example, a voter that is permitted to cast one vote for a presidential candidate and does not select a candidate has undervoted.

        Voters have the right to undervote if they choose to do so. Unlike an overvote, a ballot will not be canceled or disqualified as the result of an undervote

    5. Dr. Roberts

      Be careful, IIRC in some states not voting for an office or on a question counts as spoiling your ballot and your votes down ticket won’t count.

        1. john

          Anything is possible.

          People aren’t are well regulated as we all believe.

          Regulations are never really applied to the letter of the law.

          One ‘leader’ spreads such a rumor and everyone down the chain takes it as a marching order.

        2. dk

          I’m pretty sure there is no state regulation like that. But over-eager newbie poll workers sometimes come up with strange imaginary rules. (No hats or open-toed shoes allowed in the polling place! You have 2 minutes to fill out the ballot! You’re breathing too loud! You have to bring your own pen if you’re not white!)

          If anyone ever sees anything like that, or any kind of irregularity that makes no sense, speak up, ask to see a rule document, report it, document it (video/pic), call the county, call election watchdog groups. Pursue it if you can (not everybody has the time but it is a civic duty).

      1. Yves Smith

        The rules are state by state. I might check.

        I’d write in anyone rather than leave the top of the ticket blank as a precaution. There’s always Cthulhu.

        1. aab

          I believe there’s actual video from California of helpful government workers not just whiting out Bernie votes but bubbling in Hillary instead. The eyewitness in Chicago testified to the Board of Elections that she watched workers doing the counting changing votes. Of course, the Chicago Board of Elections didn’t care. They didn’t dispute it; they just didn’t care.

          Taking a blank line and voting on it seems much easier. If you thinking you’re protesting by leaving that line blank, think again. You just gave whoever controls that room the opportunity to nab an extra vote for their boss on an otherwise valid ballot tied to a real live person. In other words, you’re making the theft easier. No protest will be noticed. Those who count the votes…

            1. aab


              I take a ridiculous amount of pleasure in getting compliments from you, all things considered.

    6. dk

      After the election, counties and states publish a canvass of the total number of ballots cast, and how many votes each candidate got. The sum of votes for candidates minus the vote total shows disengagement for that race. Political researchers and campaign strategists examine these numbers, and they work their way into future campaign strategies. PACs, lobbyist firms, and other donor-funded groups also consider these figures along with others to determine candidate viability.

      Here’s one from NM 2012:

      Total Voters: 786522
      Sum of all Presidential votes: 783757
      Difference: 2765 (~0.35%)

      But the NM Secretary of State’s office did not publish total ballot numbers for 2014. The current trend is for counties and state to publish fewer and fewer details (and not just of elections). This is why state and county seats are important.

        1. Emma

          Just a thought – how do you think new discoveries and solutions to the worlds’ problems are made? It’s because some people believe in an infinite number of Easter Bunnies…

          Our world has always been better defined and improved upon, by the perception, the determination, and the imagination of courageous people, to work for the welfare of mankind. They are people who want better, bigger, brighter ‘bunnies’ so-to-speak.

          With Jill Stein, we have the rare opportunity to improve our standard of living in a sustainable world. That means way more Easter Bunnies for one and all methinx!

      1. Ché Pasa

        In our precinct in NM, there is no chance for poll workers to jigger the results even if you leave the top line blank because the voter feeds the ballot into the counting machine which instantaneously records what is on or not on it. A blank presidential — or any other — line is perfectly fine and does not “spoil” the ballot or result in its rejection. Undervoting is relatively commonplace and taken for granted. I do it all the time as do many voters.

        On the other hand, whether the counting machines can be or are jiggered is another question altogether…

    7. Oregoncharles

      Caveat: Oregon is not N. Carolina.

      You’re talking about the undercount, the difference between number of ballots cast and the (total) number of votes on a given line. My understanding is that parties do track it, because it’s important marketing information.

      The disadvantage is that it’s ambiguous: nobody knows WHY you didn’t vote that line. To indicate that, you have to vote FOR someone who represents your wishes. And yes, that’s a partisan pitch, but I think nonetheless true. It’s the reason Greens bother to run for offices they can’t win. It’s a fundamental principle of representative (we wish) democracy.

      There’s another consideration: if Jill can get 5%, which seems very doable this year, the party will qualify for federal election funding – about $10 million worth. That would make a huge difference, and ALL votes cast count toward it, without regard to the Electoral College. (Assuming the count is honest, etc.)

      So, a statement and a big financial contribution. Should be worth marking a line.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can see the headlines now – the higher the health care penalty and premiums, the bigger Hillary’s landslide victory.

    1. Pat

      Funnily enough, I’m pretty damn sure that the eventual response to this is going to be “pound sand”. There is lots of information out there about how to derail that penalty.

      The real fix is, of course, single payer and a highly regulated health care market. That said, I’m pretty damn sure that if I were to read the fix article I could pick it apart without much problem, and not just because it has taken the obvious solution off the table. And everyone of my ‘solutions’ would be ignored because they would come from the point of view that the first goal will be to provide HEALTH CARE and the profits of insurance companies, pharma and private medical are the least important part of the equation.

    2. temporal

      According to the IRS, shared responsibility payments will jump to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, with the family maximum not to exceed $2,085 or 2.5 percent income above the filing threshold. That’s up from $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, with a maximum of $975 per family for the 2015 tax year.

      According to the IRS, the national average premium for a bronze level healthcare plan on the Obamacare marketplace was $2,484 a year, or $207 per month for individuals, and $12,240 a year, or $1,020 per month for a family of five or more.

      The article compares last years ACA bronze cost to this year’s penalty. Not quite valid.
      The NY ACA website shows current catastrophic coverage to be $5500 a year with a $6500 per person deductible, so two grand looks like a bargain unless you have some sort of serious medical condition. And two grand is probably only a few months worth of groceries so what’s not to like?

    3. OIFVet

      It is still cheaper to pay the penalty than to pay large premiums for a plan that covers practically nothing and has a small provider network. From the NYT article, the 0bama administration argues that having worthless insurance is not paying for nothing, because even people with monster deductibles have “protections against catastrophic costs.” Did I miss the part where the 0bama administration instituted out of network maximum on out of pocket costs? There are no out of pocket maximums on out of network costs, and given the small and ever shrinking networks, the administration’s contention that crappy policies provide people with “protection” is an utter BS. Yet 0bama has the temerity to insist that we ought to be thanking him for this travesty. It is worth noting that many of my acquaintances who were strongly in favor of 0 care have now began to admit that it does not work. But they don’t blame 0bama for it, they blame the republicans. Which is part of their justification for voting for Hillary, because apparently she will “fix 0 care”. It is driving me nuts, this willful blindness and unwillingness to question democrat orthodoxy.

      1. Pat

        My personal opinion is that until ALL emergency room coverage is covered regardless of network including hospitalization until transfer (at insurance company cost) is medically feasible, these plans are largely useless. Although there could be a good business in emergency medical jewelry that tells paramedics/EMTs the hospital(s) where they can take you and those you most avoid no matter what the circumstances. Especially since those would need to change yearly, if not more often.

        1. OIFVet

          Emergency rooms are half of it. The other problem is that given the small networks, it is quite possible that these networks do not include specialists in particular specialised care that might be needed. Then there is the very high probability that one is operated by an in-network surgeon in an in-network hospital, but the anesthesiologist is out-of-network, as is the post-op nurse. It is not going to be easy for anyone to sort these things out even in case of non-emergency care. This is where the outrage about the increasing high deductibles and huge premium hikes is doing a disservice to the people, beciause I hardly ever see any article that mentions the fact that these increases are accompanied by large shrinkage of provider networks, and then goes on to mention the unlimited out of network costs and links it to the shrinking networks. It is an effing travesty, the whole lot of it.

          I am very much incensed on the issue of access to medical care and how 0 care did not improve it one bit for most people. I could easily just lean back and not give a sh!t because I got mine through the VA, so to hell with everyone else. But I can’t, my father died for lack of access to care in this “great, exceptional” country of ours. It is a hurt that will never go away, particularly as the democrat party continues to defend this monstrosity and 0bama callously pats himself on the back. Every time he intones “Thanks 0bama” I feel it as a direct affront on our collective dignity and our basic human right to receive healthcare. An effing narcissist and a sociopath is what he is

          1. craazyboy

            Hillary mentioned there were a couple or two thingies with it that needed fixing. Thanks in advance, Hillary!

            With prices compounding at 20-40% annually, Hillary better move fast.

            1. JohnnyGL

              Here comes the magic sparkle pony “public option” dressed up to hide the fact that it’ll actually be a massive bailout!

              The fines/penalties associated with the “individual mandate” are like the duct tape that holds the whole ACA marketplaces together. The duct tape is looking a bit worn.

              1. craazyboy

                Then the provider network gets narrowed down to a few local barbershops.

                A friend told me his doctor told him he was “re-focusing” his practice on “corporate accounts”, which is apparently what it sounds like, and my buddy had to look for a new doc.

        2. Jim Haygood

          There could be a good business in emergency medical jewelry … especially since those would need to change yearly, if not more often.

          Your emergency bracelet or necklace needs to be connected to the IoT (Internet of Things).

          Then your EMT can just press a button to find out where you’re “covered” today.

          Thank you, 0bama!

          1. Tom

            Ha! The patient’s medical jewelry would sync with the EMT vehicle’s nav system:

            Nav Voice: “The nearest hospital in your cardiac arrest patient’s network is … 20 miles away. Based on your patient’s vital signs, the prognosis is not good. Would you like to recalculate your route? The nearest mortuary is … 2 miles away.”

      2. tgs

        Lost my full time job and insurance in August of 2015 (along with over a hundred colleagues). I determined that I would pay a penalty of around $300 if I didn’t get Obamacare. On the other hand, I would have paid over $800 for a bottom level policy that I would never use for the four final months of 2015.

        So, I will be paying the penalty in 2016 unless I manage to find a job that gives me coverage. I have a little over a year until I quality for medicare.

        1. Tom

          Now that’s having some skin in the game!

          P.S. I emphathize with your plight. I went without insurance for 2 years after my business tanked in 2009 and it is no fun to have to make that decision and live with it.

          1. JohnnyGL

            tgs and Tom,

            Don’t think you’re missing out on much. Over here, my employer has been dishing out ACA-style, high-deductible plans with hefty co-insurance since WAY back before it was cool.

            Even if you have coverage, the Insurers don’t actually pay for stuff. My family as a whole has about $10K in bills backlogged and all four of us are perfectly healthy.

            I can only imagine what actual, sick people have wracked up.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Why pay it? They can’t come after you for it, only take it out of your refund, IF you have one. Granted, it may be too late to fix that.

          1. Yves Smith

            Wrong. If they don’t get the Obamacare penalty in any one year, the liability not only remains but accumulates interest at the IRS’ interest rate, which is the Federal short-term rate plus 3%.

      3. integer

        It is driving me nuts, this willful blindness and unwillingness to question democrat orthodoxy

        It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy to break from one’s passively aquired interpretation of the world. One of the things that I expect NC readers have in common is a higher than average willingness to objectively assess these passively aquired “truths” that are infused into our thinking during the course of our lives.

    4. dk

      … some think that whether they send hundreds of dollars to the I.R.S. or thousands to an insurance company, they are essentially paying something for nothing.

      The opportunity to select my own treatments and providers, and negotiate payment? That’s not nothing. But having to pay extra for it is quite an insult.

    5. different clue

      Well, when the penalty costs as much or more than the ObamaCare crapsurance itself, then the boycotters can give in and buy the shitsurance. Perhaps the boycotters will have exterminated Obamacare with death spirals by then anyway.

      1. polecat

        perhaps the public should just quit filing their taxes …. en mass !

        THAT might send a message !!

    6. Sammy Maudlin

      From Jonathan “Stupidity of the American Voter” Gruber’s appearance on CNN:

      Look, once again, there’s no sense of oh it just has to be fixed. The law is working as designed; however, it could work better, and I think probably the most important thing experts would agree on is that we need a larger mandate penalty. We have individuals who are essentially free riding on the system. They’re essentially waiting until they get sick and then getting health insurance. The whole idea of this plan which was pioneered in Massachusetts was that the individual mandate penalty would bring those people into the system and have them participate. The penalty right now is probably too low and that’s something ideally we would fix.

      In other words, he believes the problem with the ACA lies with “deadbeats” who refuse to purchase a substandard product despite a government-imposed penalty. His solution? Make the government-imposed penalty higher. What comes next? Hmm, let’s set the wayback machine to November 27, 2013 and see if anyone has any ideas…

      Lambert Strether
      November 27, 2013 at 1:41 am

      Then again, perhaps I wasn’t cynical enough. If you don’t assume ObamaCare is about health care, a lot falls into place.

      Sammy Maudlin
      November 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

      It’s obviously not about “health care.” Where’s dollar one towards nutrition education? Subsidies for organic farming? Tax breaks towards gym membership and/or the purchase of exercise equipment? Why are health savings accounts being gutted?

      Nope, it’s about creating a captive market for the health insurance companies consisting of every American citizen. You don’t buy health insurance, there will be tax consequences courtesy of your federal government. Currently, those consequences are minimal. However, how long will it be before ACA “deadbeats” (who aren’t paying their “shared responsibility” and costing the rest of us!) are in the crosshairs of the government and a media campaign is launched to repeal the ban on criminal liability for non-compliance?

      If I were more cynical, it might look like a protection racket to me.

      I’m still not that cynical because they are not asking for criminal penalties yet. But I’m getting there.

      1. polecat

        This is exactly the kind of clueless rhetoric that has caused uprisings in the past ….

        I was speechless having read that transcript …… I mean …I read that as … “lets BLEED THEM EVEN MORE !!!”

          1. jawbone

            All of which comments above indicate that the Dems have firmly joined the “Hurry Up and Die” as set forth by the Repubs.

            ObamaCare, while it has been good for some portion of those insured by it, is essentially a Profit Protection Plan for The Bigs.

      1. abynormal

        obviously, the application process is straight forward for Medicaid…Ocare sign up is a disaster and filters through to the Doctors etc. Where Medicaid gets seriously dicey is when you are forced to step into Profit care facilities…in many rural area (and now cities) there is no choice. These facilities operate under draconian measures and patients suffering through illness or death find themselves helpless.

        Medicare is changing…Profiteers will be looking to replace losses soon…they won’t let the that medicare/medicaid money flow for long…

      2. aab

        It must depend on where you are. Remember, our glorious leaders believe in laboratories of democracy — at least when all the experiments involve public money passing through private hands before delivering service to citizens.

        Some of the Medicaid plans sound horrendous. OTOH, I have family members in Vermont on what I think is Medicaid (might be SCHIP), and it seems to work great for them.

  4. timbers

    Health Care

    From I think the same NYT article:

    The I.R.S. says that 8.1 million returns included penalty payments for people who went without insurance in 2014, the first year in which most people were required to have coverage. A preliminary report on the latest tax-filing season, tabulating data through April, said that 5.6 million returns included penalties averaging $442 a return for people uninsured in 2015.

    How can any sane person ignore that as a failure warning as are Obama and Clinton?

    The same folks who see Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Ukraine as not failures also think Obamacare a success. Higher penalties, more subsidies to rich gigantic insurance corporation is what Hillary will fight for. Oh…and more Iraqs, Libyas, Syrias, and Ukraines, too.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are penalty payments considered taxes?

      If so, they are destroying money with this law.

  5. ChrisFromGeorgia

    “real billionaires”

    Ain’t that special.

    Kind of reminds me of the way that you aren’t really a minority/gay if you don’t vote a certain way or support Killary.

    A 1984-ish “unperson” label.

    Cuban = real billionaire.

    Carl Icahn = fake one.

    I get it now!

    1. lb

      The ‘real [person type]’ trope struck me as something I could pull back up out of the memory hole, like that hairball that gets caught at the top of the drain and turns out to be five feet long and horrific at the bottom. I did a few searches, remembering it was a republican in the past decade who used similar language. I thought at first it was GWB, but no…

      It was in 2008 that one Sarah Palin referred to small towns as “Real America” inhabited by “Real Americans” (to the exclusion of so many other people and places). The amount of ridiculous language filling the political-media lexicon over the past decade makes it easy (or perhaps even healthy) to forget such tidbits, for sure.

      That said, it’s kind of awesome that Clinton could find a tone-deaf way to one-up this Palinism by replacing praise for small-town Americans with praise for (her favorite subset of) the most powerful people on earth.

  6. Waldenpond

    Imperial Collapse Watch…. increasingly used on the domestic front also. I don’t believe the attack dogs used on the NoDAPL watchers were law enforcement. Democracy Now is covering the military ramp up today but it looks like that is police agencies (out of the area). Use of multiple MRAPs, sound cannon, armored truck, bulldozer.

  7. rich

    An interview about Money Laundering
    By Golem XIV on October 27, 2016 in latest

    Here is a 9 minute interview I did recently for Real Media about Money Laundering and what happened to me when I wrote about it. It’s an extract from a much longer and wide ranging interview.

    In case you’re interested I wrote in more length about the incident in “Making the Truth Illegal – revisited”


    1. fresno dan

      ‘the UK lobbied the US not to prosecute UK banks’
      Well, the US doesn’t prosecute US bank money launderers, so clean, clean money must be the most important factor in making an economy successful*

      * and by successful, I mean the 1% ever richer….

      1. Roger Smith

        The fact that the Haitians seem to be so unanimously against them (in my observations) should be a clear WARNING to voters regarding their foreign affairs and personal character… Alas, so should so much of the other evidence.

      2. john

        NPR reported the Clinton Foundation reported they distributed half of all HIV drugs globally.

        So what are the odds she’ll really fix Obama/Affordable care?

        She’s already sold us to the pharma’s.

      3. Tom

        It is a terrible chapter in a book that has way too many of them.

        It is horrifying to realize that there are monstrous, amoral people like Bill Clinton — masquerading as an oh-so-caring do-gooder — out in the world playing games with people’s lives for power and money.

    1. Vatch

      My taste buds agree that milk chocolate is better, but my internal organs disagree, because milk chocolate has more sugar, and my organs don’t want to become diabetic. My internal organs are rather puritanical.

    2. polecat

      …. because it contains all those nutritious GMO milk solids for one’s yummy health ! …. ‘:[

      Obviously ‘BIG Chocolate’ had a hand in that bit of p. r.

    3. HotFlash

      No. Just no. If you want milk, drink milk. Which is nice with dark chocolate. Separately.

      And the best use for chocolate is in chili.

      1. abynormal

        i do that and i ad hot chili’s to my hot chocolate…i can’t imagine one without the other.

      2. ewmayer

        Beer is also good with dark chocolate … beer and Trader Joe’s dark-choc ice cream, yummy. As Ahhnold says about milk in Pumping Iron, “Milk is foah babies – I drink beeahhh.”

  8. Elizabeth Burton

    “The real answer is to make Election Day a national holiday. Why the heck not?”

    Because it wouldn’t solve the problem and, indeed, would likely work against those same voters the GOP has been trying to suppress—the working poor. Because holiday or not, people are going to have to work, and many if not most aren’t aware they’re entitled to time to go vote without sacrificing pay provided they put in for it ahead of time.

    Like it or not, extending the voting period is actually the best solution to that particular problem, which is why cutting back on early voting is so popular in those same suppressive GOP-run states.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was thinking ‘paid holiday.’

      It is to be a holiday.

      And one gets paid to vote – I made a comment on this years ago.

      I think we can get close to 100% turnout in that case.

      And we can stimulate the economy (as well as increase money supply).

    2. Jim Haygood

      Moreover, the clear trend is toward mail balloting.

      Having to physically visit a polling place is as antiquated as having to physically visit a bank branch to deposit a paper payroll or Social Security check. Nobody does that anymore.

      1. ProNewerDeal

        IMHO mail ballots are useful, especially given ballots with 50+ offices to vote for, many of them nonpartisan judges.

        The status quo election day polling station method requires one to take notes on these 50+ offices. The mail ballot allows one to “skip the middle step of taking notes”, & directly mark the ballot.

      2. Roger Smith

        I think it is more convenient, but who can guarantee that all ballots make it to their final resting place untampered or at all? That seems like asking for more trouble. Going out for a walk, drive, or free shuttle during what should be a multiple weekend day period should not be a big deal for most (and for those who can’t walk, etc… there are mail in ballots).

        1. polecat

          In my town there are official ballot boxes stationed at the county courthouse …

          Washington State is ALL vote by mail …..

        2. 3.14e-9

          What polecat said.

          The ballot box for the primaries was outside the library in my district. It was made of heavy metal and secured with thick chains and padlocks. I deposited my ballot right before the polls closed on election day. There were two county sheriffs stationed there. They said they had been there all day and that they would remain to provide security while the box was opened and ballots removed.

          The ballots are taken to the county ballot processing center, where they are removed from the envelopes by hand and, after a few intermediate steps, scanned and tabulated by machine. Supposedly a photo is taken, in case there’s a challenge later. There’s little question that the facility is secure, but one can imagine several different points in the process where “things” could happen.

        3. Yves Smith

          IMHO mail in ballots are asking for trouble. You have lots of people working at the polls. It makes vote tampering a bit harder.

          With mail-in ballots, just throw them out by ZIP code. There are all sorts of marketing databases that cut consumers into 60+ categories by ZiP+4. It’s finer grained than even many voting districts.

          1. aab

            I don’t have a link handy, but supposedly that is what they did in the California primary. Most ballots are scanned (volunteers were allowed to take the scanners home with them the night before). But a large and growing number of California voter vote by mail, and the Secretary of State made sure that millions more were forced to use provisional ballots. The mail-ins should be opened and scanned just like polling place ballots. But apparently, millions were segregated by zip code and other factors first. Ones presumed to be for Hillary were counted immediately, so she could report a “win” even though a low percentage of the total ballots had been counted. Ones presumed to be for Bernie were counted last, with reports of huge numbers of them being shredded without being counted, possibly without even being opened. There were polling places on college campuses where the new registrant lists were never delivered on election day, so all those students were forced to vote provisionally, and there’s evidence that all those provisional ballots were shredded unexamined and uncounted. Millions of California ballots just vanished — the number reported voting on election day and the total reported at certification were quite different.

            On top of the longstanding marketing databases, Facebook and Google being #WithHer should also help them identify problem areas. If too many people are searching “Jill Stein” or “Write-In” or are talking about these issues in Zuck’s walled garden, presumably that information is delivered to Clinton’s Big Data operation (that Team Her is very proud of, and has solicited lots of press coverage for) and from there to the necessary parties in the states or at the voting machine companies.

          2. Skip Intro

            I believe that there are legal penalties for tampering with pieces of US mail, and they most likely exceed the penalties for tampering with ballots, so mailing has the potential to protect ballots at least until their delivery at a central location, while also making the location based discrimination and suppression much harder.

    3. jrs

      I’m in favor of more holidays for more holidays sake and it will make it easier for some people to get to the polls, but yea holiday or not people will have to work is the truth. And yes other than emergency workers like medical professionals it does tend to be poorer people that work holidays.

      1. Cry Shop

        Yes, and Yes again. I know federal government hourly employees use to get double pay to work on holiday. Don’t know if that’s the same now, but it makes it all the more likely the poor would work if they get extra pay on holidays.

        Regarding Yves mail in ballots vs. polling places, each has their bias.

        The poor must access polling places, which in some states are located in neighborhoods where the police are particularly noted for beating down minorities and the poor. I recall the police car parked outside the polling area of my cousin’s voting district, handing out tickets to cars not in perfect condition, checking id to look for anyone with an unpaid court fine, etc.

        Mailed in ballots tend to get stamped with a return address, which should be illegal as it implies the mail could be returned for being sent to the wrong address. In Georgia, one clever Republican County Clerk sent out the ballots with stamps on them, knowing many poor would remove the stamp to mail in a bill/sell the stamp.

        Lamberts point about early voting is only an issue if some news should come out in the last few days, which might profoundly shake a voters view. Anyone voting early is probably not going to change their opinion on a minor issue, and probably not on a major issue. To me the most important thing to do is insure that these votes tallies are not released internally, to avoid gaming, other than that I only see upsides.

  9. jfleni

    RE: CETA: “The great CETA swindle”

    Like all swindling, lying lawyers, they will hand you a tube of Prep. XX; the “butt-bang” will hurt even worse later.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Stately mating of dinosaurs:

    CenturyLink Inc. is in advanced talks to merge with Level 3 Communications Inc., a deal that would give the telecommunications companies greater heft in a brutally competitive industry.

    Terms of the deal couldn’t be learned. As of Thursday afternoon before the Journal’s report of the talks, Level 3, based in Broomfield, Colo., had a market value of $16.8 billion. CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., was worth $15.2 billion.


    CenturyLink is a former rural telephone exchange operator which bought former Baby Bell, Qwest (U S West) in 2011.

    CenturyLink is a miserable, crappy telco — so spectacularly bad it makes the cable company look like a paragon of customer friendliness by comparison. CTL’s share price has declined by about a third since its acquisition of Qwest, reflecting CTL’s braindead managerial incompetence.

    If this merger goes through, we’ll have a Big Three of dinosaur telcos: AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink.

    1. Arizona Slim

      CenturyLink is the landline carrier/ISP wannabe for my part of AZ. Around here, they make Cox Communications look like an excellent cable/ISP company.

      1. another AZ

        They are variable. If the local plant is in good condition and they have fiber to the DSLAM, it’ll be fine but probably slower than what the cable company can offer. If one or both of those isn’t true, it’ll be crap. Some parts of Tucson have Comcast, which is crap, but somehow good CL service.

    2. EnonZ

      My experience has been just the opposite. I have had excellent, reliable DSL service from CenturyLink and good technical support. Perhaps it’s because I live somewhere there is still some competition – a duopoly with Comcast. I do have to call them every 6 or 12 months and talk to a retention service rep to keep the charges down.

      CenturyLink does seem slow in getting fiber to the end of the block everywhere in my city. I know lots of people who have been stuck for years down at 5Mbps, which is not enough these days. The routers they provide for customers (which most people call modems even though they’re not) are crap. I tried getting a router from CenturyLink that supports 802.11n so I could use 5GHz (2.4GHz is very crowded in my neighborhood) – that’s when I found out that 5GHz support is OPTIONAL under the 802.11n standard. Of course CenturyLink went with the cheaper model. Returning the router was no problem and the refund appeared promptly and correctly on my bill.

      The return of monopolization is traced by Barry C. Lynn in his 2010 book, Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction. It goes back to the decision of the Reagan administration to reinterpret antitrust regulation to emphasize efficiency over competition. No previous 20th century administration would have allowed the A&P chain to become a behemoth like Walmart.

  11. Katharine

    Deductibles are so high, they say, that the insurance seems useless. So some think that whether they send hundreds of dollars to the I.R.S. or thousands to an insurance company, they are essentially paying something for nothing.

    It might even be rational to hope that if they pay hundreds to the IRS they might be helping to sustain Medicaid for somebody’s kids. (Is there a specific allocation for penalty revenue, or does it just go to general funds? Either way, “might” is a superbly open-ended concept.)

  12. Paid Minion

    “Just not there”

    You think the stats on Iowa are bad? Try taking out the salaries in the University towns, and the RockwellCollins payroll in Cedar Rapids, and poof! Iowa looks even worse than Kansas.

    As usual, the Trumpster and Hillbot’s plan to fix the problem is to throw more carrots at the people who created the problem. Soon they will be ass deep in carrots, while the professional stooges scratch their heads, wondering why the Master Plan isn’t working.

    Here’s some fixes:

    – Do what the Chinese do. Ban the export of tooling, especially if it was purchased or developed using any kind of tax credit, or government incentive.

    – Stop letting companies get away with tying severance pay to “training your (overseas) replacement”. It’s bad enough they are being kicked to the curb. some companies insist they be allowed to rub their former employees noses in it.

    – Companies already claim ownership of “intellectual property”. Including the property that they may have discovered that wasn’t related to their job description. Mandate that they give the guy that created it a piece of the action. Using “retail” numbers, not BS “company cost” numbers.

    (One of the guys on my crew came up with an idea that saved the company $800,000 in warranty costs, when using the shop retail labor rate. I know……I ran the numbers. His reward? A coffee cup, and an “Atta Boy” certificate)

    – Discontinue “Merger Mania”. Or at least require they publicize the savings created by “synergies” (aka mass staff layoffs), and how many of those people are going to end up becoming members of the so called “FSA”.

    Finally……..get used to the idea of Class Warfare. The Capitalists/Property Owners already declared it a long time ago. Scared, broke, intimidated people make better employees……….less likely to cause problems by forming unions, less likely to move to another job if the new one doesn’t pay any better than the old one, less likely to quit if their health care is tied to their employment.

    And don’t get me started about “over regulation”. When you actually look at it, most regulation is designed to keep the a-holes in line. Additional regulation is usually designed to close loopholes the a-holes created or discovered.

    Want to save a bunch of money on “regulation”? Have the FAA turn Chapters 4 and 5 of aircraft maintenance manuals from “mandates” into “suggestions” or “recommendations”. Tons of money will be saved. At the cost of some more “smoking holes”. Which is also easy to fix. Restrict the award of “punitive damages” in lawsuits.

    Any savings created by “reduced regulation” will go to the same place that the money they saved by moving jobs overseas went………into their wallets or toys. Any “investment” will be spent on buying existing businesses, and screwing the help out of their pay, benefits and pensions. Or undercut the pricing power of existing businesses thru automation.

  13. ProNewerDeal

    fw http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/25/13396118/obamacare-mandate

    Marie Antoinette-level out of touch Matthew Yglesias, claims the ACA could be solved by making the Individual Mandate needs to be “much bigger” & “generous special exemptions” should be removed.

    Matthew Yglesias, making an attempt at being the Douchiest Bag.

    Adult median income is ~29K. 75% of workers live “paycheck to paycheck”, their pay barely meets purchase of essentials like housing rent & food. Student loan debt topped $1 Trillion & is the biggest consumer debt, yet many student loan debtors are Type 1 &/or Type 2 Underemployed, adding another extra cost.

    People are already getting insulted by paying the Individual Mandate, or the Tax on Time waiting on hold for IRS Customer No-Service to possibly get a form indicating a “generous exemption”. But to Yglesias, if the Mandate was “much bigger”, that would compel them to purchase ACA.

    Yglesias doesn’t mention what “much bigger” Mandate Penalty means. Is it double? Is it half of what a Bronze plan premimums is, & what would that be, ~5X the current Mandate Penalty?

    Yglesias makes no mention that many ACA policy holders cannot afford to actually use the insurance, due to the high ~$6K deductibles.

    Yyglesias makes no mention of having the Nostradamus Jan 2018 & predict calendar 2017 income, despite many jobs becoming increasingly unstable, gig economy’d or otherwise crapified & unpredictable.

    Yglesias makes no mention of the heinous Medicad Estate recovery.

    Yglesias does at least suggest that his “bigger Penalty” should be accompanied by a “public option” health insurance.

    BTW I recall Yglesias fellow dbag, 0bot Lawrence O’Donnell condescendingly smugly claim on msDNC that the “Indivdual Mandate Penalty” is optional. AFAIK, O’Donnell has never apologized or corrected his incorrect claim.

    1. timbers

      Higher ACA penalties … almost makes you wanna vote Republican down ticket and pray for gridlock.

      PS love the msDNC abriv.

    2. craazyboy

      I think they may give us the “public option”. But they were talking about using medicare data as the cost base. They say 30% of all health spending is for end of life stuff. So your rates will be for a end of lifer. Gold plan will probably still be cheaper.

  14. RMO

    My favorite part from the Medium article was the BS spewed by “Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at the New York Institute of Technology and IEEE member Babak Beheshti” It’s all about it being inevitable, and likens not using IOT crap as rejecting the banking system and keeping money under the mattress… Of course he gives absolutely NO reasons whatsoever as to why the future where everyone and everything is connected via the internet is desirable or what possible advantages it could have. It’s just inevitable and only a fool would have second thoughts about it. Oh, and apparently all the security and privacy concerns (aren’t they silly?) can simply be solved by the great unwashed simply being told to alter the default passwords. Yeah, that will do the trick!

  15. Marco

    Interesting charts via Barry Ritholz regarding the staggering amounts of negative yielding sovereign debt. Boggles the mind. Tried to explain this to my 75 year old mother (a dutiful deficit fearful moderate republican) and she can’t wrap her mind around the fact that governments are charging interest for the privilege of holding their debt.


    1. BecauseTradition

      The MOST sovereign debt should yield is 0% (being risk-free) to avoid welfare proportional to wealth and obviously the shorter maturity debt should cost more – so negative yeilding sovereign debt should be no mystery.

      But it is a mystery to many since long tradition has made welfare proportional to wealth seem normal.

  16. b.

    “Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats’ Madame Defarge, and Bernie Sanders, winner of 22 millennial-fueled primaries, are going to guarantee the revolution’s purity in any Clinton presidency”

    Here’s a good example of somebody missing the point:

    The four “reports” below are the trial balloons so far for the post-election counter-purity campaign to inoculate Clinton against her “supports”. Beneath the BS, there is the same derogatory message, belittling and denying any Warren/Sanders agency under the new regime – at a point when it is not at all clear whether they actually have any, anyway.

    The hit pieces:

    Bonus item – is Sanders going to run as D in 2018?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Sanders went back to being an Independent. And, as far as his running for re-election to the Senate, my prediction is NO.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I wonder if Hillary will out herself as a Republican after the election…

        “No more hiding my private positions in a closet for me.”

        1. aab

          He’s the most popular politician in the country. America loves him. Just not the people who pay for the counting of votes.

  17. Synoia

    Belgium will ask the European Court of Justice to clarify the proposed investment court system,

    Hmm, I wonder if the Court will preserve it prerogative of being the Court of last resort?

    I also wonder about a constitutional challenge to ISDS in the US, based on Marbury V Madison.

    1. DJG

      Synoia: I have a feeling that the Walloons know that it will, which is why they are kicking the matter upstairs. The E C of J has overruled whole piles of national law, sending legislators scurrying.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Seems the E C of J is right in line with ISDS, which is also all about overruling all kinds of national laws…

          1. JTMcPhee

            On EC of J rulings, wiki gives a fine assortment, one tiny extract:

            Principles of Union Law

            Costa v ENEL 6/64 [1964] ECR 585

            Community law takes precedence over the Member States own domestic law.

            Simmenthal II 106/77 [1978] ECR 629

            Duty to set aside provisions of national law which are incompatible with Community law.

            Marleasing C-106/89 ECR I-7321

            National law must be interpreted and applied, insofar as possible, so as to avoid a conflict with a Community rule.

            Factortame I C-213/89 [1990] ECR I-2433

            Duty on national courts to secure the full effectiveness of Community law, even where it is necessary to create a national remedy where none had previously existed.

            Direct effect
            Treaties, Regulations and Decisions

            Van Gend en Loos 26/62 [1963] ECR 1

            “The [European Economic] Community constitutes a new legal order of international law for the benefit of which the [Member] States have limited their sovereign rights”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_Court_of_Justice_rulings

            “Legitimization” of the TPP/TTiP/TiSA/CETA regime will subject all sovereignty to the “profit expectations” of the corporatists.

            And of course as observed here, ISDS proceedings “just award damages” but that will have no effect on little local rules and legislation, whether chilling or killing, now will it?

  18. Vatch

    “Inside ‘Bill Clinton Inc.’: Hacked memo reveals intersection of charity and personal income” [WaPo].

    According to this article, as of 2012, the pension for ex U.S. Presidents is $199,700 per year, which explains why Bill Clinton needs so much money from other sources. He held that job for a full 8 years, and he gets less than $200,000 per year from the U.S. government! Some folks might think that a six figure pension like that should only be given to a person who has worked a full career of 30 to 40 years.

    Oops, another article says that the current pension is $205,700 — my bad. According to page 5, George W. Bush ($214,000) and Bill Clinton ($218,000) received more the statutory pension. There’s no explanation as to why. Former Presidents also get office allowances.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Don’t they also get free home burglar alarm service as well?

      As for health care, that I don’t know. Is it free for them as well?

      Maybe no ex-alpha politician has to run his house as a household.

  19. Martin Finnucane

    the Individual Mandate needs to be “much bigger”

    How, pray tell? The 10%/1% vision: every “citizen” has an indenture for life, which he or she toils to be free of, only rarely to find success, and then only in old age.

  20. ewmayer

    Ha, ha — CA Lt. Governor Gavin “I’m too sexy for my shirt” Newsom is in town (Cupertino) today to support a local candidate for the congressional seat long held by Mike Honda … he was waffling in the vicinity of the register t the local coffee shop I frequent, apparently waiting for some pretty young blonde aide, and I cut in front of him before fully realizing it was him. :)

    (Once I realized who it was, any iota of guilt I might have been inclined to feel vanished. Not that he’s a bad guy, but let’s just say that the sense of entitlement is strong in this one, as it is in many of his ilk.)

  21. Inert_Bert

    The belgian governments declaration on CETA seems pretty decent to me (I’m going by this initial leak of the text, here).

    Most important elements:

    – Provisional implementation only and no commitment whatsoever to ratifying the permanent implementation of the agreement, (this seems similar to what the Bundesverfassungsgericht decided).
    – In fact, the procedure of how permanent implementation can be made “permanently impossible” is laid out so prominently in the first section that I’m inclined to interpret that as a schedule rather than a provision :).
    – No provisional implementation of statutes pertaining to ICS (this is huge and also confirms for all the world that this was the real issue, not the regional politicking or protectionist instincts that a lot of outlets pointed to).
    – Requesting the CJEU to evaluate ICS: potentially even more huge, I’m not up on the latest jurisprudence from Luxemburg on trade but IIRC they’ve been pretty territorial in the past when their supremacy on EU-law was questioned, would impact TTIP and TiSA as well if it goes well.

    It is not at all clear to me what exactly this document even is and how it can be presented as a “solution to the deadlock” beyond allowing Tusk and Verstaghe to save face by holding the signing ceremony tonight, while handing Magnette a remote detonator.

    I’m not at home in the FTA-world, does anyone know more about the nitty gritty details of the confirmation of provisional implementations? Has Canada signed off on these provisions?

    Anyway, I might of course be missing something but this seems like a decent outcome to me: there are now at least three places for CETA to fall on its face:
    – Wallonia (still)
    – the CJEU: it is due to decide on a case about the Singapore FTA that deals with classifying FTAs (as either exclusive or mixed competences under TFEU) and that might give a hint to the courts thinking as well (though there’s a small chance that case could go horribly wrong too so be on the lookout for that one either way).
    – the German constitutional court: while it has green-lighted provisional implementation, the court has indicated concern over the ICS mechanism and has kept its options fully open.

    I think the EP has yet to vote on permanent implementation but while they’ve been a lot better than most EU- and national institutions on a whole range of issues I’d fully expect CETA to squeeze through (especially with the Brits still there).

    1. Yves Smith


      You and the Walloons have been snookered. The ECJ review is meaningless. These treaties have language that the signers agree to accept the rulings of the arbitration courts as binding. No appeal, no other legal system counts.

      Here is what the FT said:

      A provision allowing the European Court of Justice to provide an “opinion” on the legality of the these courts was seized on as a victory by anti-Ceta campaigners, but officials briefed on the declaration said any such opinion would not be binding as there was nothing in the declaration to reopen the Ceta pact.

      “The treaty itself has not been touched, not a comma has been touched,” Mr Michel told parliament.


  22. allan


    Note difference betw the ARMED Bundy standoffs in Oregon & Nevada vs. the unarmed standoff in North Dakota. Full media coverage vs Silence.

    And sure enough, currently no story on the front pages of the NYT or WaPo about either the encampment in ND
    or the occupation of the HRC campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.

    1. pretzelattack

      another possible difference–the bundys just got off on the federal charges. just seen on yahoo. i’m not sure if this applies to their followers.

    2. Waldenpond

      Also, the 7 white people were all just acquitted of all charges related to their seizure of the wildlife refuge….. seizing a federal building, threatening federal officers, destruction etc.

      1. pretzelattack

        jury nullification i guess. wonder what if anything that portends about general voter dissatisfaction with the status quo.

        1. allan

          Pretty shocking. I would not want to be a federal land management worker in this environment.
          And you can imagine how much worse it will get.

          1. Cry Shop

            They also desecrated Native American graves, stealing items and defecating on sacred markers, and made threats against the natives, but none of this was considered either newsworthy to the media nor of any particular interest to the Federals, who’d like the native’s claims to those lands to go a way (kind of convenient even).

            Bundy’s followers are true believers in manifest destiny, the inferiority of of brown and black races.

  23. sgt_doom

    TPP: “Health, labor and consumer groups are warning President Barack Obama to refrain from including a 12-year monopoly period for biological drugs in legislation to implement the TPP as a means for addressing congressional concerns over the pact. . .

    These aren’t health, labor and consumer groups — these are simply anti-American and anti-worker swine!

    No parsing about the TPP, it is a solid crapfest of which no portion should be passed, and any group which claims otherwise should be deported!

  24. John k

    Obama McCain 2008… McCain possibly more belligerent, but Obama did smash Libya, now Yemen.
    Obama Romney 2012… Didn’t matter who won. Identical policies.
    Clinton trump 2016… Clinton more of same, trump?

    People wanting change are waiting for an ideal changer. Not gonna happen. Bernie one such, but wouldn’t get into the mud with opponent. Imagine she wins and runs again in 2020… Which of the 16 reps on the stage would be an improvement? Or imagine she retires for health, or is impeached… Look who she selected for veep… Might even be worse. And don’t bleet the supremes… We know she’s considering a rep Texan.

    Like it or not, only change candidate, now and for the foreseeable future, is trump. On the plus side, we avoid emptying out the Ibm silos. And maybe, just maybe, he really gets bills passed for infrastructure spending. Best of all, dems might actually move left.

  25. rich

    More Evidence Emerges Proving What a Shameless, Crony Fraud Evan Bayh Is

    Just one day after I published the above, The Huffington Post came out with a piece that adds additional pieces to the very slimy post-Senate history of Evan Bayh.

    Here’s some of what we learn:

    Evan Bayh, the former Democratic senator from Indiana and current Senate candidate, has at least $1 million in holdings with a Bermuda-based insurance company, Athene, that has a business model that a class action lawsuit is challenging as a bait-and-switch scam.

    Athene’s business plan, the suit claims, is to buy up the annuities of retirees that had previously been invested in bonds and blue chip stocks, and instead pump their money into the risky bets of a private equity firm. That firm turns out to be Apollo Global Management ― where Bayh is a highly paid senior adviser ― which actually owns Athene, so if the gamble pays off, Athene’s parent company gets rich.

    If it flops, the retirees take the hit.

    Private equity’s push into the once-boring annuity industry was the subject of a 2013 Bloomberg story, which found Apollo leading the way. “It’s a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose game,” said Lawrence Rybka, CEO of wealth-advisory firm ValMark Securities.

    Bayh’s rapacious grab for cash since his retirement has been extraordinary even by Clintonian standards, but it is made all the more poignant by the poetic bromides he offered on his way out.

    “I want to be engaged in an honorable line of work,” Bayh told Ezra Klein in October 2010.


    When they go low, their net worth goes High?

  26. abynormal

    it’d be Embarrassing if it wasn’t so ridiculously DANGEROUS…
    US Air Force resurrects 55-year-old B-52 from the ‘boneyard’ – After about 45,000 man-hours spent restoring a 55-year-old airframe, the US Air Force welcomes its newest B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber, named “Ghost Rider,” to the 5th Bomb Wing of the Air Force Global Strike Command, IHS Jane’s reports. The bomber underwent a significant 19-month restoration transitioning it from the so-called boneyard, where old US military planes are stored in retirement, to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota as a fully operational nuclear-capable bomber. “Ghost Rider” will help compensate for losses to the B-52 fleet in recent years, like the B-52 that exploded on the runway in Guam in May. The US has increasingly turned to salvaging scrapped planes from the boneyard, as tight budgets and overworked air crews struggle to make do. The US still operates 76 B-52 bombers, a type of aircraft first introduced in the mid-1950s. The B-52s serve as a very visible element of the US’s nuclear-deterrence strategy. http://www.businessinsider.com/air-force-resurrected-b-52-from-boneyard-2016-10

    1. craazyboy

      The new Russian ICBMs can get here 5 minutes after launch. Hillary will still be digging around in her purse for the Red Button when they strike. The B-52s will never know what hit them.

      1. abynormal

        A thousand souls to burn. Look into my eyes, your souls are stained by the blood of the innocent. Feel their pain.~Ghost Rider 2007

  27. 3.14e-9

    Did anyone else get an email from O today? He and Michelle are “concerned” that Republicans are threatening to “undo all the progress we’ve made,” and he asks if he can count on me to send $3 to Zephyr Teachout’s campaign. Setting aside the question of who he means by “we,” this is an eyebrow raiser.

    Teachout was one of Bernie’s early endorsements. Since then, she has been endorsed by Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Although she has announced her support for Hillary Clinton, there’s been no reciprocity (same for Pramila Jayapal, another early Bernie endorsement). **

    Obama apparently has plans to make endorsements in 150 down-ballot races, but it still doesn’t look good that he’s endorsing progressive women candidates who have been shunned by Herself.


    ** In an NC post back in February, Gaius Publius noted that women in the Senate were pressuring Elizabeth Warren to back HRC, when Clinton backed Cuomo for governor rather than supporting Teachout, who would have been NY state’s first woman governor.

  28. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are two big fakes. The way Sanders turned into a whipped cur kissing Clinton’s ring and singing her praises and the way Warren genuflected early on during the primaries shows all we need to know about how tough they’re going to be in the upcoming Clinton II regime.
    We’ll read a lot of hot air rhetoric about ‘now that she’s elected we need to hold her feet to the fire!’ I remember the same milquetoast center left voices saying the same thing after Obama was elected and what have we got? Drones, ACA trainwreck, drones, bank bailouts, war, drones, QE XVIII, Total Surveillance of a kind that would blow the mind of a time traveler from the Eisenhower era.

    1. Yves Smith

      With all due respect, you really are not paying attention. Sanders AGREED to campaign for the winner if he lost. That is the deal if you run under a party’s banner and Sanders made that commitment long ago. He’s continued to make statements at rallies that are not consistent with Clinton’s policy platforms even as he is nominally campaigning for her. That’s hardly the behavior of a loyal follower. He’s telling her and his fans that he and they demand better policies from her or they will make trouble for her agenda.

      And since when does Congress control the Fed? And since when can Congress stop Presidential adventurism in the Middle East, given that Congrsess handed Bush greater power to wage undeclared wars after 9/11, and the US had already been doing a lot on that front? And please tell me how Sanders or Warren could stop drone or have any influence on war policy. Go look at the committees they sit on. Neither is on a single defense or intel committee.

      These are Sanders’ commitees:

      Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Budget
      Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
      Member, Subcommittee on Energy
      Member, Subcommittee on National Parks
      Member, Subcommittee on Water and Power
      Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
      Member, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
      Member, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
      Member, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
      Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
      Member, Subcommittee on Children and Families
      Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

      These are Warren’s committees:

      Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
      Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Economic Policy
      Member, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection
      Member, Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment
      Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
      Member, Subcommittee on Energy
      Member, Subcommittee on National Parks
      Member, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining
      Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
      Member, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
      Senate Special Committee on Aging

    2. Cry Shop

      To hold someone’s feet to a fire, you have to be powerful enough to wrestle them to the ground and hold them there. All of this personification of structures in one person is extremely naive, Clinton didn’t beat Sanders, the machine that supported Clinton beat down the people behind Sanders. Sanders didn’t fail, we did. Sanders is still in there trying to make a difference, instead of throwing up his hands and maybe sprouting off on social media.

      If you want to win, you’re going to get kicked down again and again, and you got to get back up each time, and if the people who are doing a lot more than you are are not your friends, then good luck getting anything achieved. Have you run for local office? or is your personality like your post so wrapped up in your world view that no one outside it is going to give you the time of day?

  29. Cry Shop

    Seems the Roosevelt Institute is returning to FDRs centerest roots.

    FDR never wanted SS in the first place, he was trying to shut down state driven social pension schemes. he finally agreed to a watered down version, and had to accept a more rigorous program eventually.

    What the Republican’s don’t want to admit is that FDR was busy forestalling a revolution that probably would have shipped the oligarchy behind both parties off to a extermination camp. It was a desperate grass roots pressing with violence for a better situation, and then later a need to convince Americans that they had a government worth dying for in WWII that drove a lot of the New Deal. In some ways, most perversely, the rise of the fascists and Stalinism gave rise to the New Deal. The end of the Soviet Union gave rise to Bill Clinton-sim sell the grass roots back into wage-slavery.

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