The Clinton Goldman Speeches: No Smoking Guns, but a Munitions Dump Instead

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente

As readers know, WikiLeaks has released transcripts of the three speeches to Goldman Sachs that Clinton gave in 2013, and for which she was paid the eyewatering sum of $675,000. (The link is to an email dated January 23, 2016, from Cllinton staffer Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, which pulls out “noteworthy quotes” from the speeches. The speeches themselves are attachments to that email.)

Readers, I read them. All three of them. What surprises — and when I tell you I had to take a little nap about halfway through, I’m not making it up! — is the utter mediocrity of Clinton’s thought and mode of expression[1]. Perhaps that explains Clinton’s otherwise inexplicable refusal to release them. And perhaps my sang froid is preternatural, but I don’t see a “smoking gun,” unless forking over $675,000 for interminable volumes of shopworn conventional wisdom be, in itself, such a gun. What can Goldman Sachs possibly have thought they were paying for? 

WikiLeaks has, however, done voters a favor — in these speeches, and in the DNC and Podesta email releases generally — by giving us a foretaste of what a Clinton administration will be like, once in power, not merely on policy (the “first 100 days”), but on how they will make decisions. I call the speeches a “munitions dump,” because the views she expresses in these speeches are bombs that can be expected to explode as the Clinton administration progresses.

With that, let’s contextualize and comment upon some quotes from the speeches

The Democrats Are the Party of Wall Street

Of course, you knew that, but it’s nice to have the matter confirmed. This material was flagged by Carrk (as none of the following material will have been). It’s enormously prolix, but I decided to cut only a few paragraphs. From Clinton’s second Goldman speech at the AIMS Alternative Investments Symposium:

MR. O’NEILL:  Let’s come back to the US.  Since 2008, there’s been an awful lot of seismic activity around Wall Street and the big banks and regulators and politicians.

Now, without going over how we got to where we are right now, what would be your advice to the Wall Street community and the big banks as to the way forward with those two important decisions?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, I represented all of you for eight years.  I had great relations and worked so close together after 9/11 to rebuild downtown, and a lot of respect for the work you do and the people who do it, but I do — I think that when we talk about the regulators and the politicians, the economic consequences of bad decisions back in ’08, you know, were devastating, and they had repercussions throughout the world.

That was one of the reasons that I started traveling in February of ’09, so people could, you know, literally yell at me for the United States and our banking system causing this everywhere.  Now, that’s an oversimplification we know, but it was the conventional wisdom [really?!].

And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing [!] what happened with greater transparency, with greater openness on all sides, you know, what happened, how did it happen, how do we prevent it from happening?  You guys help us figure it out and let’s make sure that we do it right this time.

And I think that everybody was desperately trying to fend off the worst effects institutionally, governmentally, and there just wasn’t that opportunity to try to sort this out, and that came later.

I mean, it’s still happening, as you know.  People are looking back and trying to, you know, get compensation for bad mortgages and all the rest of it in some of the agreements that are being reached.

There’s nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad.  How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works?  And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.

And we need banking.  I mean, right now, there are so many places in our country where the banks are not doing what they need to do because they’re scared of regulations, they’re scared of the other shoe dropping, they’re just plain scared, so credit is not flowing the way it needs to to restart economic growth.

So people are, you know, a little — they’re still uncertain, and they’re uncertain both because they don’t know what might come next in terms of regulations, but they’re also uncertain because of changes in a global economy that we’re only beginning to take hold of.

So first and foremost, more transparency, more openness, you know, trying to figure out, we’re all in this together, how we keep this incredible economic engine in this country going.  And this [finance] is, you know, the nerves, the spinal column.

And with political people, again, I would say the same thing, you know, there was a lot of complaining about Dodd-Frank, but there was also a need to do something because for political reasons, if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it’s all the fault of Wall Street, you can’t sit idly by and do nothing, but what you do is really important.

And I think the jury is still out on that because it was very difficult to sort of sort through it all.

And, of course, I don’t, you know, I know that banks and others were worried about continued liability [oh, really?] and other problems down the road, so it would be better if we could have had a more open exchange about what we needed to do to fix what had broken and then try to make sure it didn’t happen again, but we will keep working on it.

MR. O’NEILL:  By the way, we really did appreciate when you were the senator from New York and your continued involvement in the issues (inaudible) to be courageous in some respects to associated with Wall Street and this environment.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, I don’t feel particularly courageous.  I mean, if we’re going to be an effective, efficient economy, we need to have all part of that engine running well, and that includes Wall Street and Main Street.

And there’s a big disconnect and a lot of confusion right now.  So I’m not interested in, you know, turning the clock back or pointing fingers, but I am interested in trying to figure out how we come together to chart a better way forward and one that will restore confidence in, you know, small and medium-size businesses and consumers and begin to chip away at the unemployment rate [five years into the recession!].

So it’s something that I, you know, if you’re a realist, you know that people have different roles to play in politics, economics, and this is an important role, but I do think that there has to be an understanding of how what happens here on Wall Street has such broad consequences not just for the domestic but the global economy, so more thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don’t kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here.

“Moving forward.” And not looking back. (It would be nice to know what “continued liability” the banks were worried about; accounting control fraud? Maybe somebody could ask Clinton.) Again, I call your attention to the weird combination of certainty and mediocrity of it; readers, I am sure, can demolish the detail. What this extended quotation does show is that Clinton and Obama are as one with respect to the role of the finance sector. Politico describes Obama’s famous meeting with the bankster CEOs:

Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves.

“These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.”.

But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”.

“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

And he did! He did! Clinton, however, by calling the finance sector the “the nerves, the spinal column” of the country, goes farther than Obama ever did.

 So, from the governance perspective, we can expect the FIRE sector to dominate a Clinton administration, and the Clinton administration to service it. The Democrats are the Party of Wall Street. The bomb that could explode there is corrupt dealings with cronies (for which the Wikileaks material provides plenty of leads).

Clinton Advocates a “Night Watchman” State

The next quotes are shorter, I swear!  Here’s a quote from Clinton’s third Goldman speech (not flagged by Carrk, no doubt because hearing drivel like this is perfectly normal in HillaryLand):

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I tell you, I see any society like a three-legged stool.  You have to have an active free market that gives people the chance to live out their dreams by their own hard work and skills.  You have to have a functioning, effective government that provides the right balance of oversight and protection of freedom and privacy and liberty and all the rest of it that goes with it. And you have to have an active civil society.  Because there’s so much about America that is volunteerism and religious faith and family and community activities.  So you take one of those legs away, it’s pretty hard to balance it.  So you’ve got to get back to getting the right balance.

Apparently, the provision of public services is not within government’s remit! What are Social Security and Medicare? “All the rest of it”? Not only that, who said the free market was the only way to “live out their dreams”? Madison, Franklin, even Hamilton would have something to say about that! Finally, which one of those legs is out of balance? Civil society? Some would advocate less religion in politics rather than more, including many Democrats. The markets? Not at Goldman? Government? Too much militarization, way too little concrete material benefits, so far as I’m concerned, but Clinton doesn’t say, making the “stool” metaphor vacuous.

From a governance perspective, we can expect Clinton’s blind spot on government’s role in provisioning servies to continue. Watch for continued privatization efforts (perhaps aided by Silicon Valley). On any infrastructure projects, watch for “public-private partnerships.”  The bomb that could explode there is corrupt dealings with a different set of cronies (even if the FIRE sector does have a finger in every pie).

Clinton’s Views on Health Care Reflect Market Fundamentalism

From Clinton’s second Goldman Speech:

MR. O’NEILL: [O]bviously the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the supreme court.  It’s clearly having limitation problems [I don’t know what that means].  It’s unsettling, people still — the Republicans want to repeal it or defund it.  So how do you get to the middle on that clash of absolutes?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, this is not the first time that we rolled out a big program with the limitation problems [Clinton apparently does].

I was in the Senate when President Bush asked and signed legislation expanding Medicare benefits, the Medicare Part D drug benefits.  And people forget now that it was a very difficult implementation.

As a senator, my staff spent weeks working with people who were trying to sign up, because it was in some sense even harder to manage because the population over 65, not the most computer-literate group, and it was difficult.  But, you know, people stuck with it, worked through it.

Now, this is on — it’s on a different scale and it is more complex because it’s trying to create a market. In Medicare, you have a single market, you have, you know, the government is increasing funding through government programs [sic] to provide people over 65 the drugs they needed.

And there were a few variations that you could play out on it, but it was a much simpler market than what the Affordable Care Act is aiming to set up.

Now, the way I look at this, Tim, is it’s either going to work or it’s not going to work.

First, Clinton’s neoliberalism is so bone deep that she refers to Medicare as a “single market” rather than “single payer”; but then Clinton erases single payer whenever possible. Second, Clinton frames solutions exclusively in terms of markets (and not the direct provision of services by government); Obama does the same on health care in JAMA, simply erasing the possiblity of single payer. Third, rather than advocate a simple, rugged, and proven system like Canadian Medicare (single payer), Clinton prefers to run an experiment (“it’s either going to work or it’s not going to work”) on the health of millions of people (and, I would urge, without their informed consent).

From a governance perspective, assume that if the Democrats propose a “public option,” it will be miserably inadequate. The bomb that could explode here is the ObamaCare death spiral.

The Problems Are “Wicked,” but Clinton Will Be Unable to Cope With Them

Finally, this little passage from the first Clinton Goldman speech caught my eye:

MR. BLANKFEIN: The next area which I think is actually literally closer to home but where American lives have been at risk is the Middle East, I think is one topic.  What seems to be the ambivalence or the lack of a clear set of goals — maybe that ambivalence comes from not knowing what outcome we want or who is our friend or what a better world is for the United States and of Syria, and then ultimately on the Iranian side if you think of the Korean bomb as far away and just the Tehran death spot, the Iranians are more calculated in a hotter area with — where does that go?  And I tell you, I couldn’t — I couldn’t myself tell — you know how we would like things to work out, but it’s not discernable to me what the policy of the United States is towards an outcome either in Syria or where we get to in Iran.

MS. CLINTON:  Well, part of it is it’s a wicked problem, and it’s a wicked problem that is very hard to unpack in part because as you just said, Lloyd, it’s not clear what the outcome is going to be and how we could influence either that outcome or a different outcome.

(I say “cope with” rather than “solve” for reasons that will become apparent.) Yes, Syria’s bad, as vividly shown by Blankfein’s fumbling question, but I want to focus on the term “wicked problem,” which comes from the the field of strategic planning, though it’s also infiltrated information technology and management theory. The concept originated in a famous paper by Horst W. J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber entitled: “Dilemmas in a  General Theory of Planning” (PDF), Policy Sciences 4 (1973), 155-169. I couldn’t summarize the literature even if I had the time, but here is Rittel and Webber’s introduction:

There are at least ten distinguishing properties of planning-type problems, i.e. wicked ones, that planners had better be alert to and which we shall comment upon in turn. As you will see, we are calling them “wicked” not because these properties are themselves ethically deplorable. We use the term “wicked” in a meaning akin to that of “malignant” (in contrast to “benign”) or “vicious” (like a circle) or “tricky” (like a leprechaun) or “aggressive” (like a lion, in contrast to the docility of a lamb). We do not mean to personify these properties of social systems by implying malicious intent. But then, you may agree that it becomes morally objectionable for the planner to treat a wicked problem as though it were a tame one, or to tame a wicked problem prematurely, or to refuse to recognize the inherent wickedness of social problems.

And here is a list of Rittel and Webber’s ten properties of a “wicked problem” (and a critique):

  1. There is no definite formulation of a wicked problem
  2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule
  3. Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad.
  4. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
  5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial-and-error, every attempt counts significantly.
  6. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
  7. Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
  8. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another [wicked] problem.
  9. The causes of a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution.
  10. [With wicked problems,] the planner has no right to be wrong.

Of course, there’s plenty of controversy about all of this, but if you throw these properties against the Syrian clusterf*ck, I think you’ll see a good fit, and can probably come up with other examples. My particular concern, however, is with property #3:

Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad

There are conventionalized criteria for objectively deciding whether the offered solution to an equation or whether the proposed structural formula of a chemical compound is correct or false. They can be independently checked by other qualified persons who are familiar with the established criteria; and the answer will be normally unambiguous.

For wicked planning problems, there are no true or false answers. Normally, many parties are equally equipped, interested, and/or entitled to judge the solutions, although none has the power to set formal decision rules to determine correctness. Their judgments are likely to differ widely to accord with their group or personal interests, their special value-sets, and their ideological predilections. Their assessments of proposed solutions are expressed as “good” or “bad” or, more likely, as “better or worse” or “satisfying” or “good enough.”

(Today, we would call these “many parties” “stakeholders.”) My concern is that a Clinton administration, far from compromising — to be fair, Clinton does genuflect toward “compromise” elsewhere — will try to make wicked planning problems more tractable by reducing the number of parties to policy decisions. That is, exactly, what “irredeemables” implies[2], which is unfortunate, especially when the cast out amount to well over a third of the population. The same tendencies were also visible in the Clinton campaigns approach to Sanders and Sanders supporters, and the general strategy of bringing the Blame Cannons to bear on those who demonstrate insufficient fealty.

From a governance perspective, watch for many more executive orders acceptable to neither right nor left, and plenty of decisions taken in secret. The bomb that could explode here is the legitimacy of a Clinton administration, depending on the parties removed from the policy discussion, and the nature of the decision taken.


I don’t think volatility will decrease on November 8, should Clinton be elected and take office; if anything, it will increase. A ruling party in thrall to finance, intent on treating government functions as opportunities for looting by cronies, blinded by neoliberal ideology and hence incapable of providing truly universal health care, and whose approach to problems of conflict in values is to demonize and exclude the opposition is a recipe for continued crisis.


[1] Matt Taibbi takes the view that “Speaking to bankers and masters of the corporate universe, she came off as relaxed, self-doubting, reflective, honest, philosophical rather than political, and unafraid to admit she lacked all the answers.” I don’t buy it. It all read like the same old Clinton to me, and I’ve read a lot of Clinton (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, and here).

[2] One is irresistably reminded of Stalin’s “No man, no problem,” although some consider Stalin’s methods to be unsound.

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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. ocop

        Oh my god.

        I had never read this article before. Near perfect diagnosis and even more relevant today than it was then. For everyone’s benefit, the central thesis:

        Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders.

        Of course, the U.S. is unique. And just as we have the world’s most advanced economy, military, and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy.

        In a primitive political system, power is transmitted through violence, or the threat of violence: military coups, private militias, and so on. In a less primitive system more typical of emerging markets, power is transmitted via money: bribes, kickbacks, and offshore bank accounts. Although lobbying and campaign contributions certainly play major roles in the American political system, old-fashioned corruption—envelopes stuffed with $100 bills—is probably a sideshow today, Jack Abramoff notwithstanding.

        Instead, the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.

        A hypothesis (at least for “Main Street”) proven true between 2009 and 2016:

        Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money—or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world’s most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years—as Japan did during its lost decade—never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering.

        Lastly, the “bleak” scenario from 2009 that today looks about a decade too early, but could with minor tuning (Southern instead of Eastern Europe, for example) end up hitting in a big way:

        It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and—because eastern Europe’s banks are mostly owned by western European banks—justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration’s current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy “stress scenario” that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks’ balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

        The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump “cannot be as bad as the Great Depression.” This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression—because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s a good reminder to us at NC that not all our readers have been with us since 2009 and may not be familiar with the great financial crash and subsequent events. I remember reading the Johnson article when it came out. And now, almost eight years later…

          There’s a reason that there’s a “Banana Republic” category. Every time I read an article about the political economy of a second- or third-world country I look for how it applies to this country, and much of the time, it does, particularly on corruption.

          1. oh

            Exactly! I hear people point to corruption in the “developing” countries as though it doesn’t exist here. They’re blind to the high level corruption that has entrenched itself in the political-industrial complex over several decades.

            1. DarkMatters

              “There’s a reason that there’s a “Banana Republic” category.” The category is an inoculation against considering the possibility of corruption. The psycho-syllogism goes like: Only Banana Republics are corrupt; developed countries are not Banana Republics; therefore developed countries cannot be corrupt.

              BS, of course, but effective enough.

    1. craazyboy

      We truly must consider the possibility Goldman wrote the 3 speeches, then paid Hillary to give them.

      Next, leak them to Wiki. Everything in them is pretty close to pure fiction – but it is neolib banker fiction. Just makes it all seem more real when they do things this way.

      Yike’s, I’m turning into a crazy conspiracy theorist.

      1. ambrit

        Don’t fall for the ‘status quo’s’ language Jedi mind trick crazyboy. I like to call myself a “sane conspiracy theorist.” You can too!
        As for H Clinton’s ‘slavish’ adherence to the Bankster Ethos; in psychology, there is the “Stockholm Syndrome.” Here, H Clinton displays the markers of “Wall Street Syndrome.”

  1. Praedor

    Ugh. Mindless drivel. Talking points provided by Wall St itself would sound identical.

    Then there’s this: She did NOT represent Wall St and the Banks while a Senator. They cannot vote. They are not people. They are not citizens. She represented the PEOPLE. The PEOPLE that can VOTE. You cannot represent a nonexistent entity like a corporation as an ELECTED official. You can ONLY represent those who actually can, or do, vote. End of story.

    1. Portia

      You cannot represent a nonexistent entity like a corporation

      you are forgetting, of course, that Corporations are people, too. And a corporation’s voting is done with a corporation’s wallet.

      1. Roger Smith

        I saw a video in high school years back that mentioned a specific congressional ruling that gave Congress the equivalent to individual rights. I swear it was also in the 30s but I cannot recall and have never been able to find what it was I saw. Do you have any insight here?

        1. Portia

          could this be related?

          Historical Background and Legal Basis of the Federal Register / CFR Publications System

          Why was the Federal Register System Established ?

          New Deal legislation of the 1930’s delegated responsibility from Congress to agencies to regulate complex social and economic issues
          Citizens needed access to new regulations to know their effect in advance
          Agencies and Citizens needed a centralized filing and publication system to keep track of rules
          Courts began to rule on “secret law” as a violation of right to due process under the Constitution

  2. Roger Smith

    tl;dr — Clinton has terriblejudgement

    But don’t forget. She is the most qualified candidate… EVER. Remind me again how this species was able to bring three stranded Apollo 13 astronauts back from the abyss, the vacuum of space with some tape and tubing.

    This is like watching a cheap used car lot advertisement where the owner delivers obviously false platitudes as the store and cars collapse, break, and burst into flames behind them.

    1. john

      Stalin spent his early days in a seminary. Masters of broken promises.

      I’m more interested in Clinton’s Chinese connections. Probably tied through JP Morgan.

      The Chinese are very straightforward in their, dare I say, inscrutible way.

      The ministers are the ministers, and the palace is the palace.

      The show is disappointing, the debaters play at talking nuclear policy, but have *nothing* to say about Saudi Arabia’s new arsenal.

      When politicos talk nuclear, they only mean to allege a threat to Israel, blame Russia, or fear-monger the North Koreans.

      We’re in the loop, but only the quietest whispers of the conflict in Pakistan are available. It sounds pretty serious, but there is only interest in attacking inconvenient Arabs.

      On Trump, what an interesting study in communications. The no man you speak of. Even himself caught between his own insincerity towards higher purpose and his own ego as ‘the establishment’ turns on him.

      The proles of his support are truely a silent majority. The Republicans promised us Reagan for twenty years, and it’s finally the quasi-Democrat Trump who delivers.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This is like watching a cheap used car lot advertisement where the owner delivers obviously false platitudes as the store and cars collapse, break, and burst into flames behind them.


      With a wall of American flags waving in the background as the smoke and flames rise.

  3. optimader

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t feel particularly courageous. I mean, if we’re going to be an effective, efficient economy, we need to have all part of that engine running well, and that includes Wall Street and Main Street.

    this all reads like a cokehead’s flow of consciousness on some ethereal topic with no intellectual content on the matter to express. I would have said extemporaneous, but you know it was all scripted, so that’s even worse.

    Her rap kinda reminds me of a banal form of the photojournalist in

    “Do you know what the man is saying? Do you? This is dialectics.
    It’s very simple dialectics. One through nine, no maybes, no
    supposes, no fractions — you can’t travel in space, you can’t go out
    into space, you know, without, like, you know, with fractions — what
    are you going to land on, one quarter, three-eighths — what are you
    going to do when you go from here to Venus or something — that’s
    dialectic physics, OK? Dialectic logic is there’s only love and hate, you
    either love somebody or you hate them.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “Da5id’s voice is deep and placid, with no trace of stress. The syllables roll off his tongue like drool. As Hiro walks down the hallway he can hear Da5id talking all the way. ‘i ge en i ge en nu ge en nu ge en us sa tu ra lu ra ze em men….'” –Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

  4. ambrit

    H Clinton’s speaking ‘style’ reeks. Partial thoughts follow half baked pronouncements, all lacking clarity or coherence, you know?

    1. grayslady

      Completely agree. When I first read excerpts from her speeches, I was appalled at the constant use of “you know” peppering most of her sentences. To me, people who constantly bifurcate sentences with “you know” are simply blathering. They usually don’t have any in-depth knowledge of the subject matter on which they are opining. Compare Hillary being asked to comment on a subject with someone such as Michael Hudson or Bill Black commenting on a subject and she simply sounds illiterate. I have this feeling that her educational record is based on an ability to memorize and parrot back answers rather than someone who can reach a conclusion by examining multiple concepts.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Here’s what I don’t understand: The lady (and her husband) have LOADS of money. Yet this is the best that she can do?


        Heck, if I had half the Clintons’ money, I’d be hiring the BEST speechwriters, acting coaches, and fashion consultants on the planet. And I’d be taking their advice and RUNNING with it.

        Sheesh. Some people have more money than sense.

        1. uncle tungsten

          Because she wont pay for quality speechwriters or coaching. Because she is a shyster, cheapskate and a fraud. They hired the most inept IT company to ‘mange’ their office server who then (in a further fit of cheapskate stupidity) hired an inept IT client manager who then (in a further fit of cheapskate stupidity) asked Reddit for a solution.

          Its in the culture: Podesta does it, Blumenthal does it

          And now they blame the Russians!!!! Imagine the lunacy within the white house if this fool is elected.

        2. fajensen

          I think she is just not that smart. Maybe intelligent but not flexible enough to do much with it.
          Smart people seek the advice of even smarter people and knowing that experts disagree, they make sure that there is dissent on the advisory team. Then they make up their mind.
          One can say a lot of justifiable bad things about Ronald Reagan, but, he had competent advisors and he used them!
          With Hillary, Even if she knows she has accessed the best advice on the planet her instinct it to not trust it because “she knows better” and she absolutely will not tolerate dissent.
          Left to her own devices, she simply copies other people’s thinking/ homework instead of building her own ideas with it.

      2. Code Name D

        I don’t think so. The “you know” has a name, it’s called a “verbal tick” and is one of the first things that is attacked when one learns how to speak publicly. Verbal ticks come in many forms, the “ums” for example, or repeating the last few words you just said, over and over again.

        The brain is complex. The various parts of the brain needed for speech; cognition, vocabulary, and vocalizations, actually have difficulty synchronizing. The vocalization part tends to be faster than the rest of the brain and can spit out words faster than the person can put them together. As a result, the “buffer” if you will runs empty, and the speech part of the brains simply fills in the gaps with random gibberish.

        You can train yourself out of this habit of course – but it’s something that takes practice.

        So I take HRC’s “you know” as evidence that these are unscripted speeches and is directly improvising.

        1. David Carl Grimes

          How come her responses during the debates are not peppered with these verbal ticks. At least, I don’t recall her saying you know so many times. Isn’t she improvising then?

          1. Code Name D

            As Lambert said, HRC doesn’t do unscripted. The email leaks even sends us evidence that her interviews were scripted and town hall events were carful staged. Even sidestepping that however, dealing with verbal ticks is not all that difficult with a bit of practice and self-awareness.

            1. David Carl Grimes

              You’re right. Obama isn’t such a great speaker without his teleprompter. He often gets lost without it.

              1. oh

                You beat me to it on that point. O doesn’t have any fluidity in his speeches when he’s forced to think on his feet. He has pauses that’s worse than ‘you know’. Con men can’t be lucid and articulate when thrown off script, including Shillary.

      3. Optimader

        “You know” is an insidious variation on “like” and “andum”, the latter two being bias neutral forms of mental vapor lock of tbe speech center pausing for higher level intellectual processes to refill the speech centers tapped out RAM.

        The “you know” variant is a end run on the listenerscognotive function logic filters.

        I detest “you knows” immediately with “no i dont know, please explain.”
        The same with “they say” i will always ask “who are they?”
        I think this is important to fo do ppl for no ofher reason thanto nake them think critically even if it is a fleeting annoyance.

        Back on HRC, i have maintai we that many people overrate her intellectual grasp. Personally I think she is a hea ily cosched parrot. “The US has achieved energy independence”…. TILT. Just because you state things smugly doesnt mean its reality.

      4. Optimader

        “You know” is an insidious variation on “like” and “andum”, the latter two being bias neutral forms of mental vapor lock of tbe speech center pausing for higher level intellectual processes to refill the speech centers tapped out RAM.

        The “you know” variant is an end run on the listener’s cognitive functions logic filters. Is essence appropriating a claim to the listener.

        I detest “you knows” immediately with “no i dont know, please explain.”
        The same with “they say” i will always ask “who are they?”
        I think this is important to fo do to ppl for no ofher reason thanto nake them think critically even if it is a fleeting annoyance.

        Back on HRC, i have maintai we that many people overrate her intellectual grasp. Personally I think she is a hea ily cosched parrot. “The US has achieved energy independence”…. TILT. Just because you state things smugly doesnt mean its reality.

        1. Skippy

          I wish we could get Robbin Williams, an 8ball of coke, Hillary Clinton, heaps of Tequila, an intimate stage setting with comfy couches and let the – improve – flow………….

          1. optimader

            Wow! That was typing on an iphone on an express train!

            I wish we could get Robbin Williams, an 8ball of coke, Hillary Clinton, heaps of Tequila, an intimate stage setting with comfy couches and let the – improve – flow

            That would be improv’s equivalent of a hungry Velociraptor with a tired Ox in a telephone booth.

            1. Skippy

              Conversely like putting mister hamster in the microwave… oh look… now you have a balloon… big OD with only gaseous PSI inside….

              Disheveled Marsupial…. would have been a tour de force’

        2. bob

          More insidious quirk which somehow worked into my vocab-

          Yeah…no….but. Trying to find the root so I can fix it. Proving very difficult to kick.

          Start with a contradiction….that’ll be sure to confuse them from the start. Insult may be added with emphasis on the NO.

          “Yeah. No, what I wanted to ask was…”

          Even worse seeing it than hearing it.

      5. Rhondda

        I think what I call the lacunae words are really revealing in people’s speech. When she says “you know” she is emphasizing that she and the listener both know what she is “talking around.” Shared context as a form of almost — encryption, you could say. “This” rather than ‘“finance” Here rather than at Goldman.I don’t know what you’d call it exactly— free floating referent? A habit, methinks, of avoiding being quoted or pinned down. It reminds me of the leaked emails…everyone is very careful to talk around things and they can because they all know what they are talking about. Hillary is consistently referred to, in an eerie H. Rider Haggard way, as “her” — like some She Who Must Not Be Named.

    2. clarky90

      What surprises me is that Goldmans paid her for these speeches, you know? Hillary C typically pays “the audience” to listen to, and come to her speeches.

      You know? You know!

  5. sharonsj

    This election cycle just proves how bad things have become. The two top presidential candidates are an egotistical ignoramus and the quintessential establishment politician and they are neck and neck because the voting public is Planet Stupid. Things will just continue to fall apart in slow motion until some spark (like another financial implosion) sets off the next revolution.

    1. oh

      Planet stupid is very afraid of taking a chance on a third party, afraid of terrorists, think only short term, always asking what’s in it for me, and are all about instant gratification. Unfortunately, the minority of clear headed people like us suffer as a result.

  6. flora

    “Now, without going over how we got to where we are right now, what would be your advice to the Wall Street community and the big banks as to the way forward with those two important decisions?

    “SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I represented all of you [Wall St] for eight years.”

    I heard Hillary speak in summer ’92, when Bill was running for Prez. She. was. amazing. No joke. Great speech, great ideas, great points. I thought then she should be the candidate. But there was in her speech just a tiny undercurrent of “the ends justify the means.” i.e. ‘we need to get lots of money so we can do good things.’ Fast forward 20+ years. Seems to me that for the Clintons the “means” (getting lots of money) has become the end in itself. Reassuring Wall St. is one method for getting money – large, large amounts of money.

    1. ekstase

      I heard similar impressions of her at the time, from women who had dealt with her: Book smart. Street smart. Likeable. But what might have been the best compromise you could get in one decade, may have needed re-thinking as you moved along in time. The cast of players changes. Those who once ruled are now gone. Oh, but the money! And so old ideas can calcify. I’m not suggesting that Trump is even in the ballpark in terms of making compromises, speeches, life changes or anything else to have ever been proud of. Still, the capacity to grow and change is important in a leader. So where are we going now?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      A fine illustration of the maxim that “crime makes you stupid.”

      I’ve said this once, but I’ll say it again: After the 2008 caucus debacle, Clinton fired the staff and rejiggered the campaign. They went to lots of small venues, like high school gyms — in other words, “deplorables” territory — and Clinton did her detail, “I have a plan” thing, which worked really well in that context because people who need government to deliver concrete material benefits like that, and rightly. They also organized via cheap phones, because that was how to reach their voters, who weren’t hanging out at Starbucks. And, history being written by the winners, we forget that using that strategy, Clinton won all the big states and (if all the votes are counted) a majority of the popular vote. So, good decision on her part. And so from that we’ve moved to the open corruption of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton campaign apparatus that takes 11 people to polish and approve a single tweet.

      So I guess the moral of the story is (a) more deterioration, this time from 2008 to 2016, and (b) Clinton can actually make a good decision, but only when forced to by a catastrophe that will impact her personally. Whether she’ll be able to rise to the occasion if elected is an open question, but this post argues not.

    3. dejavuagain

      Well, not that I wish to defend HRC, but at the time she was the US Senator from New York which I think includes New York City and its financial companies. So, not so improper to consider the interests of a major part of the businesses in her state, which do provide employment, income and taxes (paid by employees, not the big shots many of who should be in jail.)

      Anyway, the upside of this is I do not think we will see a lot of ex-Goldman Sachs in high positions in her administration.

  7. allan

    “Apparently, the provision of public services is not within government’s remit! What are Social Security and Medicare? ”

    What is the US Post Office?
    Rumor has it that the PO is mentioned in the US Constitution,
    a fact that is conveniently forgotten by Strict Constructionists.

    1. Randall Stephens

      Article 1, § 8:

      “The Congress shall have Power To … To establish Post Offices and Post Roads.”

  8. Anne

    With respect to regulation, I think it should be less a case of quantity, and more one of quality, but Clinton seems to want to make it about finding the sweet spot of exactly how many regulations will be the right amount.

    In general, when companies are willing to spot you $225,000 to speak for some relatively short period of time, willing to meet your demands regarding transportation, hotel accommodations, etc., why would you take the chance of killing the goose that’s laying those golden eggs by saying anything likely to tick them off?

    I’d like to think she’s kind of embarrassed to have people see how humdrum/boring her speeches were for how much she was paid to give them, but I think there’s got to be more “there” somewhere that she didn’t want people to be made aware of – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be Americans, it could be something to do with foreign governments, foreign policy, trade, etc.

    After learning how many people it takes to send out a tweet with her name on it, I have no idea how she managed this speech thing, unless one of her requirements was that she had to be presented with all questions in advance, so she could be prepared.

    I am more depressed by the day, as it’s really beginning to sink in that she’s going to be president, and it all just makes me want to stick needles in my eyes.

    Will there even be a debate on Wednesday?

  9. Roger Smith

    Also the “Wicked Problems” definitions are very, very interesting. Thank you for bringing those in! I would add that these wicked problems lead to more wicked problems. It is basically dishonesty, and to protect the lie you double down with more, and more, and more…. Most of Clinton’s decisions and career seem to be knots of wicked problems.

    The wicked problem is quickly becoming our entire system of governance. Clinton has been described as the malignant tumor here before, but even she is a place holder for the rot. One head of the Hydra that I feel Establishment players would generally be okay with sacrificing if it came to it (and maybe I am wrong there–but it seems as if a lot of the push fro her comes from her inner circle and others play along).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Hail Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off one limb and two more shall take its place! We serve the Supreme Hydra, as the world shall soon serve us!

      1. Barry

        Of course Hydra and Cap’n America disagree about what is good.

        One thing about wicked problems is that they can be used by the powerful to keep responsibility off of their books.

        Externalities are wicked problems; the premise is that you can’t bill me for something if you can’t establish how much I owe. So for example the cost of environmental damage is passed on to everybody.

        Wicked problems give politicians great room for maneuverability, because no matter the outcome they can declare it their own success or someone else’s failure, or just shake their heads regretfully and say, “we had to do something and we had the best of intentions. ” They can also achieve a desired result while pretending they desired something else.

        For some, wicked problems are a comfort and not an affliction.

  10. JohnnyGL

    Re: your conclusion,

    I’ve heard/read in some places Hillary Clinton described as a “safe pair of hands”. I don’t understand where this characterization comes from. She’s dangerous.

    If she wins with as strong of an electoral map as Obama in ’08, she’ll take it as a strong mandate and she’ll have an ambitious agenda and likely attempt to overreach. I’ve been meaning to call my congressional reps early and say “No military action on Syria, period!”

    She might use a “public option” as an ACA stealth bailout scheme, but I don’t think the public has much appetite to see additional resources being thrown at a “failed experiment”. I worry that Bernie’s being brought on board for this kind of thing. He should avoid it.

    Is she crazy enough to go for a grand bargain right away? That seems nutty and has been a “Waterloo” for many presidents.

    Remember how important Obama’s first year was. Bailouts and ACA were all done that first year. How soon can we put President Clinton II in lame duck status?

  11. philmc

    Not really surprised by the intellectual and rhetorical poverty demonstrated by these speeches. Given the current trajectory of our politics, the bar hasn’t really been set very high. In fact it looks like we’re going to reach full Idiocracy long before originally predicted.

    1. Rory

      It seems to me that the message of these speeches is straightforward: “I’m bought and willing to stay bought for the right price.”

  12. Jim Thomson

    You ask, ” What can Goldman Sachs possibly have thought they were paying for? ”
    But I think you know. Corruption has become so institutionalized that it is impossible to point to any specific Quid Pro Quo. The Quo is the entire system in which GS operates and the care and feeding of which the politicians are paid to administer.
    We focus on HRC’s speeches and payments here but I wonder how many other paid talks are given to GS each year by others up and down the influence spectrum. As Bill Black says, a dollar given to a politician provides the largest possible Return on Investment of any expenditure. It is Wall Street’s long-term health insurance plan.

    Thank you for slogging through all of this.

    1. Rory

      It seems to me that the message of these speeches is straightforward: “I’m bought and willing to stay bought for the right price.”

  13. DolleyMadison

    Yeah we know which part of the “stool” we’ll be getting.If the finance sector is “the nerves, the spinal column” of the country, I suggest the country find a shallow pool in which to shove it – head first.

    1. Rhondda

      I think maybe the spinal column and nerves are the core of an invisible body that sits atop the stool.


    2. Katharine

      The silly woman can’t even get ninth-grade biology right! The spinal column is the vertebrae. The nerves form the spinal cord.

  14. Foppe

    I skimmed the /. comments on a story about this yesterday; basically everyone missed the obvious and went with vox-type responses (“she’s a creature of the system / in-fighter / Serious Person”).

  15. Gee

    Care to know what they are buying? This :

    “So I’m not interested in, you know, turning the clock back or pointing fingers, but I am interested in trying to figure out how we come together to chart a better way forward and one that will restore confidence in, you know, small and medium-size businesses and consumers and begin to chip away at the unemployment rate [five years into the recession!].”

    Basically, even better than a get out of jail free card, in that it is rather a promise that we won’t go back and ever hold you responsible, and we have done the best we could so far to avoid having you own up to anything or be held accountable in any way beyond some niggling fines, which of course, you are happy to pay, because in the end, that is simply a handout to the legal industry, who are your best drinking buddies.

    The latter part of that quote is just mumbo jumbo non-sequitir blathering. Clinton appears to know next to nothing about finance, only that it generates enormous amounts of cash for the oh so deserving work that God told them to do.

    1. uncle tungsten

      +1 exactly: There will be no retrospective prosecutions and none in the future either, trust me! Not the she is any better than Eric Holder but she is certain she should be paid more than him.

  16. PapaBear

    “What can Goldman Sachs possibly have thought they were paying for?”

    Influence, plain and simple

    1. shinola

      Bingo! Think about it:

      She was speaking to a group of people whose time is “valued” at 100’s if not 1,000’s of dollars per hour.
      She took up their “valuable” time but provided nothing except politics-as-usual blather tailored to that particular audience. Yet she was paid $225k for a single speech…

      I’ve only skimmed through the speech transcripts; did I miss something of substance?

  17. phred

    Hillary is a remarkably inarticulate person, which calls into question her intellectual fitness for the job (amidst many other questions, of course). I entirely agree with your depiction of her speeches as mindless drivel.

    However, you may be overthinking the “wicked problem” language. While it is certainly possible that she is familiar with the literature that you cite, nothing else in her speeches suggests that she commands that level of intellectual detail. This makes me think that somewhere along the line she befriended someone from the greater Boston area who uses “wicked” the way Valley Girls use “like”. When I first heard the expression decades ago, I found it charming and incorporated it into my own common usage. And I don’t use it anything like you describe. To me it is simply used for emphasis. Nothing more or less than that, but I am amused to see an entire literature devoted to the concept of a “wicked problem”.

    I remain depressed by this election. No matter how it turns out, it’s going to wicked suck ; )

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      I think the inarticulateness/cliche infestation is a ploy and a deflection; this is a very intelligent woman who can effectively marshall language when she feels the need. That need was more likely felt in private meetings with the inner cabal at Goldman.

      Not to otherwise compare them, but Bush I’s inarticulateness made him seem a buffoon, and that was not the case, either.

      Finally, as a thought experiment, I’d like to suggest that, granting that Clintonismo will privilege those interests which best fortify their arguments with cash, it’s also true that Bill and Hillary are all about Bill and Hillary. In other words, it could be that she has the same hustler’s disregard toward the lumpen Assistant Vice Presidents filling that room at GS as she does for the average voter. Thus, the empty, past-their-expiration-date calories.

      Sure, she’ll take their money and do their bidding, but why even bother to make any more effort than necessary? On a very primal level with these two, it’s all about the hustle and the action, and everyone’s a potential rube.

      1. Big River Bandido

        As in, when Bill put his presidency on the line, the base were expected to circle the wagons.

        As in, “I’m With Her”. Not “She’s With Us”, natch.

        It’s *always* about the Clintons.

  18. pretzelattack

    “Speaking to bankers and masters of the corporate universe, she came off as relaxed, self-doubting, reflective, honest, philosophical rather than political, and unafraid to admit she lacked all the answers.”

    seriously, matt taibbi? next, i would like to hear about the positive, feelgood, warmfuzzy qualities of vampire squids (hugs cthulhu doll).

    1. jgordon

      Matt Tiabbi, Elizabeth Warren, Benie Sanders, Noam Chompsky–all those used to seem like bastions of integrity have, thanks to Hillary, been revealed as slimy little Weasels who should henceforth be completely disregarded. I’d have to thank Hillary for pulling back the nlindets on that; if not for this election I might have been still foolishly listening to these people.

      1. hreik

        agree w you except about Bernie. he always said he’d support the nominee. the suddenness of his capitulation has led many of us to believe he was threatened. somewhere I read something about “someone” planting kiddieporn on his son’s computer if he didn’t do…… I dunno. I reserve judgement on Sanders until I learn more,…. if i ever do

        1. oh

          Sorry, while I respect your viewpoint, somehow to me you come across as a loyal Bernie supporter who doesn’t want to believe that he’d willingly let you down. If they had to threaten him, there were much earlier opportunities to do so where he would’ve faded gracefully. I supported Bernie too but never fully believed he would go all the way.

  19. Edward

    Clinton’s remarks were typically vague, as one might expect from a politician; she doesn’t want to be pinned down. This may be part of the banality of her remarks.

    What scares me most about Clinton is her belligerence towards Russia and clamoring for a no-fly zone in Syria. The no-fly zone will mean war with Russia. If only Clinton were saying this, we might be safe, but the entire Washington deep state seems to be of one mind in favor of a war. During the cold war this would have been inconceivable; everyone understood a nuclear war must not be allowed. This is no longer true and it is terrifying. Every war game the pentagon used to simulate a war with the U.S.S.R. escalated into an all out nuclear war. What is the “plan B” Obama is pursuing in Syria?

    In the Russian press every day for a long time now they have been discussing the prospect of a conflict. Russia has been conducting civil defense drills in its cities and advised its citizens to recall any children living abroad. This is never reported in our press, which only presents us with caricatures of Putin. Russians are not taken seriously.

    1. Ché Pasa

      During the cold war this would have been inconceivable; everyone understood a nuclear war must not be allowed.

      No it wasn’t. Far from it. By some miracle, the globe escaped instant incineration but only barely. The Soviets, to their credit, were not about to risk nuclear annihilation to get one up on the US of Perfidy. Our own Dauntless Warriors were more than willing, and I believe it’s only through dumb luck that a first strike wasn’t launched deliberately or by deliberate “accident.”

      Review the Cold War concept of Brinkmanship.

      The current fear/fever over nuclear war with Russia requires madness in the Kremlin — of which there is no evidence. Our Rulers are depending on Putin and his cohorts being the sane ones as rhetoric from the US and the West ratchets ever upwards.

      But then, the Kremlin is looking for any hint of sanity on US and NATO side and is finding little…

      1. Edward

        Curtis LeMay tried to provoke a nuclear war with the Soviets in the 1950’s. By and large, however, the American state understood a nuclear war was unwinnable and avoided such a possibility. A no-fly zone in Syria would start a war with Russia. William Polk, who participated in the Cuban missle crisis and U.S. nuclear war games, argues in this article

        that a war with Russia would escalate.

  20. Starveling

    If high finance is our nervous system, does the American body politic have a terminal case of Parkinsons?

  21. Oregoncharles

    ” “the nerves, the spinal column” of the country, goes farther than Obama ever did.”

    But this description is technically true. That is finance’s proper function, co-ordinating the flow of capital and resources, especially from where they’re in excess to where they’re needed. It’s a key decision-making system – for the economy, preferably not for society as a whole. That would be the political system.

    So on this basic level, the problem is that finance, more and more, has put its own institutional and personal interests ahead of its proper function. It’s grown far too huge, and stopped performing its intended function – redistributing resources – in favor of just accumulating them, in the rather illusory form of financial instruments, some of them pure vapor ware.

    So yes, this line reflects a very bad attitude on Hillary’s part, but by misappropriating a truth – pretty typical propaganda.

    1. Yves Smith

      No, finance does NOT “channel resources”. Wash your mouth out. This is more neoliberal cant.

      Financiers do not make investments in the real economy. The overwhelming majority of securities trading is in secondary markets, which means it’s speculation. And when a public company decides whether or not to invest in a new project, it does not present a prospectus on that new project to investors. It runs the numbers internally. For those projects, the most common source of funding is retained earnings.

      1. Sluggeaux

        Clinton shows that she is either a Yale Law grad who does not have the slightest idea that Wall Street does very little in the economy but fleece would-be investors, or that she is an obsequious flatterer of those from whom she openly takes bribes.

        Or both.

  22. timotheus

    Having heard Hillary, Chelsea (yes, she’s being groomed) and many, many other politicians over the years, including a stint covering Capitol Hill, Mme C’s verbal style does not surprise to me at all but rather strikes me as perfectly serviceable. It is a mellifluous drone designed to lull the listener into thinking that she is on their side, and the weakness of the actual statements only becomes clear when reading them on the page later (which rarely happens). The drowsy listener will catch, among the words strung together like Christmas lights, just the key terms and concepts that demonstrate knowledge of the brief and a soothing layer of vague sympathy. Those who can award her $600K can assume with some confidence that, rhetoric aside, she will be in the tank when needed. The rest of us have to blow away the chaff and peer into the yawning gaps lurking behind the lawyerly parsing. In all fairness, this applies to 90% of seekers of public office.

  23. xformbykr

    has the commentariat seen these from paul craig roberts?

    it doesn’t say anything but contains links to these:

    both of which present a clinical assessment that Hillary suffers from Parkinson’s. Seems like an elephant in the room.

  24. Sluggeaux

    The absolute vacuousness of Clinton’s remarks, coupled with her ease at neoliberal conventional wisdom, make it clear that Goldman’s payments were nothing more (or less) than a $675,000 anticipatory “so no quid pro quo here” bribe.

    Who on earth gives up their vote to a politician who is so shameless an corrupt that she openly accepts bribes from groups who equally shamelessly and corruptly are looting the commons? Apparently many, but not me.

  25. LT

    “Public-private partnerships”
    That’s higher taxes for pleebs to subsidize corporations.
    Mussolini would be proud.

  26. Ché Pasa

    Nothing like making lemons out of lemonade, is there?

    There really is a question why she didn’t do this doc dump herself when Bernie asked. Yeah, sure, she would have been criticized (“damned if you do, damned if you don’t”) but because of who she is she’ll be criticized no matter what. There is nothing she can do to avoid it.

    Not only is there no smoking gun, it’s almost as if she’s trying to inject a modicum of social conscience into a culture that has none. And no, she isn’t speaking artfully; nor is she an orator.

    Oh. Not that we didn’t know already.

    The most galling aspect is her devotion to the neoLibCon status quo. Steady as she goes. Apparently a lot of people find the status quo satisfactory. Feh.


    1. Anon

      If this document dump came out during the primary campaign, then HRC may have lost. Even Black, Southern ladies can smell the corrupting odor clinging to these “speeches”.

      1. Ché Pasa

        Given the way DNC protected her during the primaries, and what looked like a pretty light touch by Bernie and (who? O’Malley was it?) toward her, I doubt these speeches would have been her undoing.

        Dull and relatively benign, and policy-wise almost identical to Obama’s approach to the bankers’ role in the economic unpleasantness. “Consensus” stuff with some hint of a social conscience. 

        Not effective and not enough to do more than the least possible (“I told them they ought to behave better. Really!”) on behalf of the Rabble.

        But not a campaign killer. Even so, by not releasing transcripts during the primary, she faced — and still faces — mountains of criticism over it. No escape. Not for her.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Steady as she goes

      I’m not sure that’s an appropriate strategy for dealing with multiple interlocking wicked problems, but I’m not sure why. Suppose we invoke the Precautionary Principle — is incremental change really the way to avoid harm?

      1. Ché Pasa

        The Consensus (of Opinions That Matter) says it is. On the other hand, blowing up the System leads to Uncertainty, and as we know, we can’t have that. Mr. Market wouldn’t like it…

    3. aab

      The leaked emails confirm — even though she herself never writes them, which is really odd, when you consider that Podesta is her Campaign Chair and close ally going back decades — that she is compulsively secretive, controlling, and resistant to admitting she’s wrong. The chain of people talking about how to get her to admit she was wrong about Nancy Reagan and AIDS was particularly fascinating that way; she was flat out factually inaccurate, and it had the potential to do tremendous harm to her campaign with a key donor group, and it was apparently still a major task to persuade her to say “I made a mistake.”

      So while I think you are wrong that the speeches wouldn’t have hurt her in the primary, I also think Huma would have had to knock her out and tie her up (not in a fun way) to get those speeches released.

      I can’t imagine a worse temperament to govern, particularly under the conditions she’ll be facing. But she’ll be fully incompetent before too long, so I don’t suppose it matters that much. I’m morbidly curious to see how long they can keep her mostly hidden and propped up for limited appearances, before having to let Kaine officially take over. Will we be able to figure out who’s actually in power based on the line-up on some balcony?

      1. Ché Pasa

        Fair points, though the “temperament” issue may be one that follows from the nature of the job — even “No Drama Obama” is said to have a fierce anger streak, and secrecy, controlling behavior, and refusing to admit error is pretty typical of presidents, VPs, and other high officials. The King/Queen can do no wrong, dontchaknow. (cf: Bush, GW, and his whole administration for recent examples. History is filled with them, though.)

        As for Hillary’s obvious errors in judgment, I think they speak for themselves and they don’t speak well of her.

  27. Alex morfesis

    TINA vs WATA (we are the alternative)…the next two years are gonna be interesting…evil is often a cover for total incompetence and exposure…our little tsarina will insist brigades that dont exist move against enemies that are hardly there…when she & her useless minions were last in/on the seat of power(j edger version of sop) the netizens of the world were young and dumb…now not so much…

  28. Don Midwest USA

    I got into wicked problems 35 years ago in the outstanding book by Ian Mitroff and R. O. Mason, “Challenging Strategic Planning Assumptions.”

    First page of Chapter One has subsection title COMPLEXITY, followed by “A Little Experiment”

    Lets try the experiment with current problems.

    One could come up with a list of major problems, but here is the one used by C. West Churchman mentioned along with Horst Riddle. Churchman back in the 80’s said that the problems of the world were M*P**3, or M, P cubed, or M * P * P *P with the letters standing for Militarism, Population, Poverty and Pollution.

    Here is how they ran the exercise

    1. Suppose there were a solution to any of these 4 problems, would that solution be related to the other problems. Clearly.

    2. Thus ‘whenever a policy maker attempts to solve a complex policy problem, it is related to all the others

    Repeated attempts in other contexts give the same result: basically, every real world policy problem is related to every other real world policy problem

    This is from page 4, the second page of the book.

    I ran this exercise for several years in ATT Bell Labs and ATT.

    1. List major problems

    2. How long have they been around? (most for ever except marketing was new after breakup in ’84

    3. If one was solved, would that solution be related in any way to the other ones?

    4. Do you know of any program that is making headway? (occasionally Quality was brought up)

    This could be done in a few minutes, often less than 5 minutes

    5. Conclusion: long term interdependent problems that are not being addressed

    Thus the only grade that matters in this course on Corporate Transformation that now begins is that you have new insights on these problems.

    This was my quest as an internal consultant in ATT to transform the company. I failed.

  29. Moby

    Most noticeable thing is her subservience to them like a fresh college grad afraid of his boss at his first job

  30. Phil

    I was a Sanders supporter. Many here will disagree, but if Clinton wins I don’t think she’s going to actas she might have acted in 2008, if she had won.

    Clinton is a politician,and *all* politicians dissemble in private, unless they’re the mayor of a small town of about 50 people – and even then! Politicians – in doing their work – *must* compromise to some degree,with the best politicians compromising in ways that bring their constituents more benefit, than not.

    That said, Clinton is also a human being who is capable of change. This election cycle has been an eye opener for both parties. If Clinton wins (and, I think she will), the memory of how close it was with Sanders and the desperate anger and alienation she has experienced from Trump supporters (and even Sanders’ supporters) *must* have already gotten her thinking about what she is going to have to get done to insure a 2020 win for Democrats,whether or not she is running in 2020.

    In sum, I think Clinton is open to change, and I don’t believe that she is some deep state evil incarnate; sge’s *far* from perfect, and she’s not “pure” in her positioning – thank god!, because in politics, purists rarely accomplish anything.

    If Clinton reverts to prior form (assuming she makes (POTUS), 2020 will make 2016 look like a cakewalk, for both parties – including the appearance of serious 3rd party candidates with moxy, smarts, and a phalanx of backers (unlike the current crop of two – Johnson and Stein).

    1. aab

      There is not one speck of evidence for what you are asserting here, and a great deal of evidence to the contrary. She did absolutely NOTHING to actually address the needs and desires of Sanders voters after the convention. Instead, she flung herself into the arms of suburban Republicans. There is also no evidence she cares about Democrats winning. She basically stole from all the state parties to fund her own candidacy, and her general election campaign has assisted the Republicans in holding the Congress.

      She has said to her true base — her donors — that all those desperate, angry people are deplorable and irredeemable. She is not their president.

      I also see no evidence of her ability to change her thinking. She changes her tactics — openly racist in 2008, pretend social progressive in 2016. But she was in favor of overcomplicated, neoliberal, public-private, corporate friendly policies in the 90s, and she still is. She pretended to care about underprivileged children in the 90s, only to starve them and jail their parents, and now she’ll happily have them all killed, as well. That’s not a meaningful change in thinking; it’s just a matter of degree.

      And she surrounds herself with incredibly mean-spirited, selfish people. Go read Neera Tanden’s Twitter feed sometime, or her emails to Podesta. So even if both she and Bill are too cognitively compromised to rule, their surrogates are unlikely to be an improvement.

      I mean, anything’s possible. But you’re not making a case here, just tossing virtual coins in a wishing well.

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