2:00PM Water Cooler Festivus 2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“TABLE OF FOREIGN INVESTOR-STATE CASES AND CLAIMS UNDER NAFTA AND OTHER U.S. ‘TRADE’ DEALS” (PDF) [Public Citizen]. “While fewer than 50 cases were filed in the first three decades of the investor-state system, corporations launched at least 50 cases each year for the last five years, with a record 70 cases launched in 2015), intensifying concerns about the system’s threats to democracy, taxpayers and the public interest.”


We’ll begin with the airing of the grievances


“Before lunchtime Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump said he would expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, upending a reduction course set by presidents of both parties over the past four decades, and called for the United States to veto a pending U.N. resolution that criticized Israel’s settlements policy” [WaPo].

“President Barack Obama will propose spending cuts for many federal programs in the 2016 budget request he’ll send to Congress on Monday, but not for nuclear weapons. Quite the contrary, Obama’s administration is proposing to go on a nuclear weapons spending spree” [Defense One]. “The administration’s costly plan proposes to rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal, including the warheads, and the missiles, planes and submarines that carry them. These plans will cost $348 billion over the next 10 years, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate released last week. The National Defense Panel, appointed by Congress, found that the price tag over 30 years could be as much as a $1 trillion.”

Democrats recoiling in horror when Trump does what they do is getting old fast:

Trump Transition

“‘Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial,’ Matthew Lasner, a professor at Hunter College, tweeted. ‘My husband chasing them down to harass them'” [Yahoo News]. From an eyewitness: “”Honestly, if I was her security I would have made the same call [to kick him off the plane]. I don’t *think* the man was capable of violence, sure. But I would worry that he would leave his seat or cause a scene in some way.” Hard to imagine a better way for liberals to show that they’re (a) hypocrites (imagine the tables were turned and it was Michelle Obama who was being “harassed”), (b) the sorest losers in the history of the world, (c) privileged and hence (d) free to act with impunity (imagine if the man hadn’t been a professor at Hunter). Oh, and (e) politically tone deaf. Who knows? Maybe he’ll get a slot on Keith Olbermann…

2016 Post Mortem

“If Demo­crats want to keep blam­ing oth­ers for their sorry per­form­ance on Elec­tion Day, they’re ob­vi­ously free to do so” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. ” In short, Demo­crats need to get over Don­ald Trump and the spe­cif­ics of what happened in 2016 and be­gin to think about how, in their rush in­to Amer­ica’s fu­ture, they left be­hind a large num­ber of voters who are still very much here, right now. To ma­lign these people as big­ots, ra­cists, and miso­gyn­ists ig­nores the fact that some ac­tu­ally voted for Pres­id­ent Obama at least once, have voted for wo­men in pre­vi­ous elec­tions, or have voted for Demo­crats in the not-so-dis­tant past.” Cook also recommends political scientist Katherine Cramer’s “nine years of in­ter­view­ing rur­al Wis­con­sin voters.” Here’s a “This is Hell” interview with Cramer.

“Progressive road rage is getting in the way of Democratic leaders pulling themselves out of the ditch. Despite six years of historic political setbacks, there is little self-reflection from a party that seemed to be on the verge of becoming a permanent majority just eight years ago” [Joe Scarborough, WaPo]. “The Democratic Party’s demise will continue until it stops blaming others for its collapse, and instead looks inward at a party that not so long ago defined hope and change.”

“We’re sort of reaching the breaking point of the decades long battle between the party that promises to kick those other people, and the party that promises not to kick them quite so hard. I think there have been some signs of Dems recognizing it, but they’re still largely locked into that way of thinking. ACA, for all its benefits, just couldn’t be implemented without making it fucking hard for people. That the subsidies aren’t generous enough makes it too expensive for people, and that’s a problem, but it’s one thing to be forced to buy a car you can’t really afford, another to buy a car that you can’t afford that you have to take in for repairs every other week” [Atrios]. When you’ve lost Atrios…

“”Why Are You Still Talking About Hillary Clinton?”” [Michael Tracey, Medium]. “Well, here’s why. For one thing, she’s still out there in the public eye, concocting excuse after excuse for why she couldn’t beat the guy from The Apprentice. Her media loyalists are also still out there in full force, spouting rationalizations of her conduct day after day, and denying culpability for their role in bringing about her failed candidacy. They are confabulating a story to explain away the loss. If left un-rebutted, this “narrative” will eventually congeal into accepted wisdom, and it will then be cited for years and decades to come as reason why they are completely blameless. Notwithstanding their 2016 humiliation, the Clintons still have a huge, well-funded, and feverishly devoted PR apparatus, including a vast array of functionaries and loyalists inhabiting all different segments of elite society. These loyalists have made clear their desire to implant into the public psyche the idea that Hillary is not responsible for her defeat — it was the fault of a whole bevy of sinister exogenous forces.” Yep.

“[The week after November 8,] orders for desserts such as cheesecake, pie, and ice cream were up 72 percent on Caviar, a meal-ordering app operating in 15 urban markets, including Boston, New York, Dallas, and Seattle” [Bloomberg]. “Of course, none of this definitively proves that Democratic voters sat in bed and cried over their tiramisu.”

” Four Washington state electors who cast their vote for someone other than Democrat Hillary Clinton will each be fined $1,000 next week, the secretary of state’s office said Thursday” [AP]. Michael Moore’s paying, right?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Was Barack Obama Bad for Democrats?” [Stanley B. Greenberg and Anna Greenberg, New York Times]. His legacy regrettably includes the more than 1,000 Democrats who lost their elections during his two terms. Republicans now have total control in half of America’s states. Why such political carnage?” Putin, obviously. What’s wrong with these people? Anyhoo…

When President Obama began focusing on those “left behind” by the recovery, he called for building “ladders of opportunity.” That communicated that the president believed the country’s main challenges were unrealized opportunity for a newly ascendant, multicultural America, rather than the continuing economic struggle experienced by a majority of Americans.

In other words, the 1% matters, the 10% matters, and aspirational 10%-ers (“ladders of opportunity”) matter to Democrats. Nobody else.

“How Barack Obama Failed Black Americans” [William A. Darity, The Atlantic]. “The key source of the black-white wealth gap is the intergenerational effects of transfers of resources. White parents have far greater resources to give to their children via gifts and inheritances, so that the typical white young adult starts their working lives with a much greater initial net worth than the typical black young adult. These intergenerational effects are blatantly non-meritocratic.”

The Obama administration never gave serious consideration to aggressive transformative universal policies like a public-sector employment guarantee for all Americans, a federally financed trust fund for all newborn infants with amounts dictated by a child’s parents’ wealth position, or the provision of gifted-quality education for all children. These are universal programs that can have a significant “disproportionate impact and benefit for African Americans,” in the process of helping all Americans—unlike the types of universal programs endorsed by the president.

“To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, the incoming administration will be a government of the super wealthy, by the super wealthy and — perhaps — for the super wealthy. Are we really expected to believe that these folks are going to change the very system that has been so good to them?” [USA Today]. “Billionaires don’t become billionaires by acting like Mother Teresa. They do it by ruthlessly watching their own bottom line and taking advantage of every rule that can be fudged, every corner that can be cut. And when the rules aren’t helpful enough, they work the system to change them. They’re the very embodiment of what Trump attacked during the campaign: the ‘global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.'” Of course, the Democrat nomenklatura can’t say this, because they have their own squillionaires they need funding from. And so they yammer and stamp their feet about “conflict of interest,” which, when you think about it, is the very nature of an oligarchy.

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, November 2016: “New home sales jumped 5.2 percent in November to a 592,000 annualized rate that is the second strongest of the recovery. But this report is very volatile month-to-month which points to the need to look at the 3-month average that, at 575,000, has shown little change since the summer” [Econoday]. And: “above expectations” [Calculated Risk].

Consumer Sentiment, December 2016: “Consumer sentiment ends December at 98.2, up 2 tenths from mid-month for a new cycle high” [Econoday]. “This index began to take off in November following Trump’s victory as a record percentage of respondents, at 18 percent, ‘spontaneously mentioned’ the expected favorable impact of new economic policies.” Extraordinary.

GDP: “The Q3 blip up remains a soybean export, inventory building and healthcare premium story likely to be reversed in q4, as it all continues it’s general deceleration since oil capex peaked a couple of years ago” [Mosler Economics].

Retail: “Without Anchor Stores, Will Malls be Left Adrift?” [Sourcing Journal]. “Fewer malls overall may be inevitable though, according to Andrew Couch, managing director of real estate at Gordon Brothers. As he sees it, we’re over malled. The fate of the top tier malls, which will thrive thanks to “financially sound and technically savvy owners,” is clear. Similarly, the bottom tier, which face eroding foot traffic and rampant vacancies, has a fixed destiny.” So, having destroyed Bangor’s downtown, the Mall itself implodes, leaving… And: “‘If we are talking about 100 Macy stores, I will bet we are talking about 100 individual solutions, and in some cases, no solution but a big, dark space,” [Jan Kniffen of J Rogers Kniffen WWE] said. ‘Some malls do survive with one less anchor, or even two less. But, the character of a lot malls, if they survive at all, is going to change as Macy’s goes dark in 100 locations, and as Sears goes dark in a lot more than that. I’m convinced that today’s 1,100 enclosed malls are destined to be 550 to 700.'”

Commodities: “Now, two separate business groups focused on electronics supply chains have launched initiatives to try to stop children from mining cobalt in the DRC, where an estimated 60% of the metal used in lithium-ion batteries is found” [Mining.com].

Commodities: “The potential for mining in Greenland is enormous, but since 2013, when the Nalunaq gold mine closed, the sprawling Arctic island with ties to Denmark has not approved any new mines. That could change though, thanks to a mining permit issued this week by the Greenland Government to Ironbark Zinc Limited (ASX:IBG), which is advancing one of the world’s largest undeveloped lead-zinc deposits” [Mining.com]. “According to a project page, the Citronen Zinc-Lead Project represents one of the world’s largest undeveloped zinc-lead resources with a resource in excess of 13 billion pounds of contained zinc and lead.”

Commodities: “The tumbling of US coal exports has been cited as one reason for the dire state of the dry bulk market at present.According to shipping association BIMCO, tonne-miles from US coal exports fell to 358bn last year from 715bn in 2012, mainly as a result of lower trade to Asia and lower demand” [Llloyd’s List].

Commodities: “Gold Miners Are Running Out of Metal: Five Charts Explaining Why” [Bloomberg].

The Bezzle: “Global investigators believe that billions of dollars were misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., an economic-development fund set up by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009. The money allegedly moved through Singapore, Switzerland and other wealth centers before being used to buy real estate, art, and other assets in New York, Beverly Hills and elsewhere” [Wall Street Journal, “How a Malaysian Scandal Spread Across the World”]. I think the agency-free “moved through” is terrific!

The Bezzle: “Consumer Reports claims it is financially independent from the products and services it evaluates. Its relationship with the car industry has become very close, however. The nonprofit has set up a system whereby its subscribers can get discounts on vehicles, but only from ‘participating dealers’ that are part of the Truecar Inc. dealer network. Truecar makes money on these transactions. So does Consumer Reports, which only offers the service to subscribers. The organization says the money from the transactions goes to supporting its testing programs” [247 Wall Street]. What could go wrong?

The Bezzle: “An Uber employee has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of misleading employees about their equity compensation. Uber ‘devised a fraudulent scheme to recruit highly sought software engineers,’ according to the case.” [TechCrunch]. “The lawsuit claims that Uber promised a more tax favorable type of options at the time employees were hired and then later changed the plan. The case alleges that at least 100 others on the Uber staff may have been impacted and that these stock options can potentially be worth ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ to employees and also save Uber ‘millions of dollars of tax deductions.'”

The Bezzle: “Uber has about 400,000 drivers on its platform in India, and wants to add one million in the next two years. While mobilizing an army of drivers is crucial, it is particularly tough in a country where less than 5% of households own cars and few potential drivers understand English or how to use an app” [Wall Street Journal, “Uber’s Drive Into India Relies on Raw Recruits”]. “Most of the drivers have dealt only in cash, so they have to learn about online banking in order to quickly check if their pay has arrived. And since credit cards aren’t widespread, Uber last year began letting riders pay in cash, a global first.” So Modi’s demonetization scheme blind-sided Uber. How sad.

The Bezzle: “Consumer Reports, one of the most thorough publications performing testing on laptops, says Apple’s new MacBook Pros have problems with inconsistent battery life.” [Business Insider]. “As a result, Apple’s latest laptops are the first from the company not to receive a “recommended” rating, Consumer Reports shared in a blog post on Thursday.” Oopsie.

Honey for the Bears: Stock prices may have soared since the November election, but the U.S. economy is ending 2016 on an anemic note. Measures of economic vitality including income growth, consumer spending and inflation weakened last month following a short-lived spurt” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Economy Approaches Year’s End on Lackluster Note”]. “For now, that leaves the U.S. economy in the middling trajectory that has marked the seven-year expansion.” And the crappy recovery is getting awfully long in the tooth…

“Yellen tells college grads: Best job market in nearly a decade” [Market Watch].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 71, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 84 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 23 at 11:29am. Let’s see how the stocking stuffers turn out…


“A decade of monitoring aerial insect migration reveals that trillions of individuals travel above us each year. Insect migration surpasses all other aerial migratory phenomena in terms of sheer abundance” [EurekAlert].

“Livestock Antibiotics Surging Up, Up, Up” [Natural Resources Defense Fund]. “Earlier today, the latest FDA figures on antibiotics sold for use in meat and poultry production came out. The news is not good. Sales just keep rising. Against the backdrop of a crisis in now untreatable or nearly untreatable infections, this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action to address the ongoing overuse of the drugs in livestock.”

Class Warfare

“[I]t’s a mistake to either believe that trade and technology are clearly separable forces, or to think that it matters to workers which force is displacing them. Too often, policy makers seem to assert that, because ‘it’s not trade, it’s technology!’—typically offered without much evidence—displaced workers should somehow be assuaged. Hey, all they need to do is go from running a drill press to designing, building and programming drill-press-running robots!” [Jared Bernstein].

News of the Wired

“Finding North America’s lost medieval city” [Ars Technica]. Cahokia.

“his Deep Sea Fisherman Posts His Discoveries on Twitter and OH MY GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE” [Gizmodo (Re Silc)]. Looks like Alien

“A guide to giving your cats their annual performance review” [Medium]. Sample: “Help your cat understand the consequences if performance does not improve.” Let me know how that works out…

* * *

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 (ChiGal):


Backtracking to autumn, because I missed this one!

Readers, I’ve gotten many more plant images, but I can always use just a few more; having enough Plantidotes is a great angst deflator. Plants with snow are fine!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. TK421

    His legacy regrettably includes the more than 1,000 Democrats who lost their elections during his two terms.

    Jesus. It’s a minor miracle there’s still a Democratic party. Of coure, that makes it a sitting duck for being taken over by leftists.

      1. Cry Shop

        All those parasites voted out of office didn’t quit the party, they were simply forced out of public office and into the other end of the private industry- government nexus. There is no way they are going to sit sill and allow their rice-bowls to be smashed by democratizing the Democratic Party.

    1. makedoanmend

      “Of course, that makes it a sitting duck for being taken over by leftists.”

      And why? (as in, what basis does this thesis rest upon or what historical precedents are being presented? How many parties have the “leftists” taken over in the US history?)

      And why, pray tell, would self respecting “leftists” want the so-called Democratic party?

      1. Steve C

        Ballot access. Huge, likely insurmountable legal and procedural obstacles to third parties and non-self funded independents.

        1. Lambert Strether

          And their database.

          And what remains of goodwill on the balance sheet from FDR that Obama and the Clintons didn’t piss away.

      2. TK421

        Taking over the Democratic party accomplishes two goals: it gives us a party, and eliminates a malign force.

        1. Massinissa

          I’m really divided about this, honestly.

          On the one hand, Leftists have been claiming they would take over the Dems from the centrists since at least the 80s.

          On the other hand, the Democrats DID just become weaker than they have been in almost a hundred years. And Jeremy Corbyn has been giving us a great role model in his grassroots takeover of the Labour Party machinery.

          But I’m still skeptical that such a thing will work over here, honestly. Theres a reason the Democratic party has been called the Graveyard of Social Movements.

            1. Massinissa

              Ohhhhhh William Jennings Bryan and the Populists! I cant believe I forgot that, hes one of my heroes! Thanks so much, I feel like I forgot the Egyptians built the Pyramids.

          1. aab

            This is where I have been. I’ve been advocating since Bernie’s run made it clear a leftist can win nationally without any corporate money at all to try to reform the Democratic Party because creating a viable national third party has so many intractable obstacles to overcome — many of them apparently buried obscurely in state level regulations and the like.

            But in my heart, I gave up yesterday. Watching what Ellison is having to do/feels he should do to get the DNC Chair position, combined with everything the establishment Dems are doing to dig in has left me feeling that no matter how hard it will be, we’d best get cracking on an alternative, because they’re not getting out of the way, and they can achieve their masters’ goal of keeping the left out of power as a distracting, deceitful regional rump for years to come. And I’ve been dealing with this my entire life. My entry into politics was doorknocking for Eugene McCarthy as a very little kid. I have literally spent my entire political life waiting for the left to take over the Democratic Party. We’re always correct on policy, and we are always undermined and left in the cold vacuum of outer political space. I want to be pragmatic, but is it pragmatic at this point to put any effort at all into the Democratic party?

            1. Lambert Strether

              I think “lose until you win” applies here as well.

              Ellison is one battle. And poking Saban in the eye with a very sharp stick is a good thing. Even if nothing else, that’s a plus. They’re a trashing, wounded, dying animal.

            2. Direction

              After her husband died she started a cigar company, and ran it out of their 26 room antibellum mansion in Vermont. (They had columns in the ballroom). This is what the DNC looked like in the 90s, like derby day. It’s always been a social club for the wealthy elite.

              A proven organizer from Bernie Sanders campaign needs to organise a grassroots take over. Circulate a petition whereby millions of us pledge to spend 27 dollars again if they get to take over the DNC, and challenge the current establishment to beat that number of pledged supportive voters.

              The DNC machine cannot be reformed from within because it is a private social club, always has been. A set of wealthy people who know what’s best for Americans, just like the RNC.

          2. JTMcPhee

            Seems like US leftists/socialists have gotten weaker faster than the so-called centrists. Maybe something structural in the political economy? Exhaustion or exclusion principles at work? Too busy debating minutiae of Marx versus Keynes and sounding like that serf in “The Holy Grail?” Have the “centrists” who are all about ME-ism and MORE-for-me-ism inhaled all the oxygen that might fuel some popular muscle?

            “There’s class warfare going on, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s waging war, and we are winning.” And like labor leaders, military officers, of course all minions in the corposphere, all politicians, a sniff of the heady vapors of personal wealth and propinquity to the power center seems pretty quickly to evaporate any of that awkward “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” energy…

            And of course there’s that nagging sense that we humans have already lit the unquenchable fuse on a global bomb, and the best we can manage for our selfish selves is to “make hay while the sun shines,” “grab for all the gusto we can get,” “whistle a happy tune” and hope that we die comfortably and not eaten by untreatable disease or swept away by nuclear explosions or overrun by other starving, terrified millions all trying just to stay alive one more day, however horrible the Soylent product of the day might be… “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…”

            1. makedoanmend

              In repsonding to yourself, I’m responding to all the other comments…

              IMHO – good comments all

              I agree 100% with everything you’ve written JTMc – especially the Monty Python bit about the lefty quarrels. However, I must say that many leftists have gone independent or solo, if you like, in Euroland due to this irredeemmable trait. Also, it seems many are reassessing the foundations of their beliefs. It cannot be ignored that many facits of socialism, as practiced, didn’t turn out as expected – to put it too mildly. As for communism – good riddance.

              I consider myself a conservative democratic socialist (with small c and s and big d). How’s dat for iredeemable traiting? But, basically just want more democracy in the polity and in the workplace – leave my home/private life alone and allow the other creatures of the world a place to live and evolve. Socialism should strive towards providing individuals with the security and freedom to develop their talents whilst recoginising the limitations set by the complexities of our societies and local/regional environments. No easy feat.

              Bernie – an old fashioned centerist in my book. I could support many of his programs and the man himself, and many who would follow his vision. I can understand why he took the Demo Party route. His time is short and the future, via the vista of the incoming adminstration, doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre.

              Populism as leftism. Hmmm…I never really considered this as a lefty platform but if others do so that is their business. Good luck. Some populist leaders have propelled things towards a centre for working people but on the whole doesn’t seem to have lasted any appreciable time span.

              I still can’t think of a US dominant political party that was taken over by the left.

              Imo the left’s biggest influence has been for the Unionisation moverment of the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Outside influence on all US parties – directly or indirectly.

              As for Corbyn, I wish him luck. I really do. He’ll need more. The Blairites (essentially Thatcherites in sheep’s clothing) will relentlessly dog him. His PC stances outside of core policies aren’t winning any new strata of the electorate. The Scottish Labour party was willing to commit seppuku rather than change their Blairite career oriented stances instead of responding to the electorate’s desires.

              As for the US Demo party – maybe Bernie can save it – but it’s a pretty putrid party apparatus at the moment. If he could transform it into a leftist party – well – history would be written.

              best to all in NC land – the times they are thrilling

      3. different clue

        For the suite of weapons systems and all the ammo dumps. For all the fortified positions. For the name recognition.

        Of course the Beautiful Loser Leftists are too pure and above-it-all to want anything so crassly and vulgarly valuable as all that.

        1. hunkerdown

          Facts not in evidence: that the battle royale will win us anything that the battle royale isn’t disposed to dispense, that any products of the battle royale are useful in its absence, that regular order is worth preserving.

          I’m sorry, is systemic critique too Russian to be spoken now?

          1. different clue

            As I’ve noted before, there is a theory for every taste in theories. And people following different theories can break up into different theory-based action groups. Systemic critique may be too Russian to be spoken by me . . . but just right-Russian enough to be spoken by you. And that’s okay.

            By the way, I see what you did there. “Facts not in evidence” actually applies to your assumption that the battle royale won’t win us anything that the battle royale isn’t disposed to dispense, that any products of the battle royale are useless in its absence, that regular order is not worth preserving. Or that a victorious left would use its newly conquered DemParty to preserve regular order. Nice little projection trick on your part there. It would have been even nicer if it had worked on me. It may work on others. They can join your theory-action group.

            I would note that the current possessors of the DemParty feel the battle royale is worth fighting from their end because the assets they possess are worth possessing.
            From a purely brute-force power-political standpoint, can you say they are wrong?

            1. hunkerdown

              Or that a victorious left would use its newly conquered DemParty to preserve regular order.

              I concede to making that erroneous assumption. And I also concede that the assets they possess have much use value to them, but I rebut they may be far less valuable in use than in denial. Blame cannons don’t work well against those writing the news but I’m all for spiking them.

      4. lyman alpha blob

        So they can grab the Dems by the lapels and say “I got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about ’em!”

        Sorry, had to get that in somewhere…

    2. timbers

      And all the Dems and many non Dems agreed for 8 years or so that the Republicans were record all time aweful. Yet despite having the best (as in worst) opponents, Dems got slaughtered. There’s a lesson to be learned from that. Not that Dems show any indication of caring to learn it.

      1. Waldenpond

        The elite control the D party (which is nothing but a criminal organization at this point). They will allow outsiders to have dog-catcher, but get uppity and run for a state position and that person will be out in an instant. The Ds are factually/legally a private club and they can select their membership and candidates in any way they choose or get a court to back them on every petty legal change they make to block outsiders. They change rules (legal contract) retroactively, they violate their own rules repeatedly and someone thinks they are going to get any farther than a few school board positions or city council is going to fail.

        Taking over the D party is similar to proposing infiltrating gangs (fully backed by the legal system) with 13 year olds to ‘save the neighborhood’.

        1. different clue

          Well . . . that certainly is a theory. And people who share your view will certainly want to join whatever theory-action group that your theory leads you to join.

        2. Big Fish

          No, it’s not. It’s an empty shell, roll it up from the bottom, your local precincts, your local county organization, win enough counties and you own the State organization. Let the Big Money boys go to the GOP, stand for something, fight for something Think like Bernie, find out what your neighbors think…it’s the long view, time consuming hard work, who said it would be easy? Only showing up on election day isn’t politics,
          it’s being cannon fodder. If, the American people decide to sit on the sofa and let Wall Street loot their communities, well so be it. But if a small handful do the hard work of organizing, leading, showing up, the tools are there, the D party is simply waiting for someone to use its machinery.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > It’s an empty shell, roll it up from the bottom

            I agree.

            I think all it will take is a take-over of one state organization” to start cracking things open.* That’s the thing, it seems that we’re reifying “the Democratic Party” — and I do this, too, when I speak of the Democrats having a balance sheet — and in fact the Democrats are a fractal network of factional power centers like everything else, from the local to the state to the national level.

            To me, the key point of the Sanders campaign institutionally is that it’s a proof-by-example that the material basis of the dominant Democrat factions in 1% money is ideological. The dominant Dems don’t suck up to squillionaires out of regretful necessity; they do it because they enjoy it, and because they think that’s how politics ought to be done. Seize one state organization, use the Sanders $27 model, and start cleaning house, applying fire as needed.

            * Which would explain the viciousness of the fighting in FL and MI, as documented recently in Water Cooler.

            1. dbk

              Agree 100% +. I’ve started writing to friends back home, urging them to become actively involved in local (municipal, county) politics and run for office – and to start recruiting their children and their children’s friends to do the same. (One has already responded – he feels he’s too tired, but agreed that his son “might be persuaded”).

              It has to come from the bottom up, the grass roots in the most literal sense (I grew up in a “grassy” place). And it needs to be massive, and, I think, coordinated and focused at each level, from local to state to national in that order.

              I sent this as a suggested link yesterday, but will include it here because it’s directly relevant to the comments:

              Question for Lambert (and others): which state, and for which reasons, do you propose as a test case for this strategy?

            2. Code Name D

              Interesting idea, one worth looking into. But there are still hurtles. For most states, the Democratic Party is little more than a token presence, consisting of mostly elected officials usually running from their own fund raising.

              While I can only speak of my experience here in Kansas. I suspect for most of the so called “red states” including Kansas, there is no party to speak of to be taken over. There are no offices, no staff, no resources of any kind. And what passes for infrastructure gets parachuted in about once every 4 years or so, and retreats back to Washington just about as quickly. And even then, only if it serves the whims of whom ever is the candidate at the time.

              There isn’t really much here one can take over and you would end up starting from scratch anyway.

              I also suspect that taking over at the state level is not particularly hard to do. Which is why you will not get anywhere doing it. As it was already said, the establishment has no problem letting you run for Dog Catcher. It’s the national offices that are autocratically selected that holds the real power and that you will never get into – even if you should have a state org behind you. So even if you were to take over a state level party, you still haven’t done anything to challenge the real power.

              It all comes down to just what a political party really is, and what functions it is supposed to execute.

      2. Lambert Strether

        It’s useful to remember that many Sanders supporters were and are, in fact, Democrats. Blanket statements about “Democrats” are, therefore, not very useful. I try to qualify with “Establishment Democrats” or “Clintonites.”

        There seems to be a great desire to start afresh, to begin again from a place of purity. There is no such place*; we live in a totalizing system.

        * Absent intentional communities, going to live in the woods, etc.

    3. Oregoncharles

      No, it doesn’t. As Bernie established (47%, even with millions of imports, who’ve now exported along with some more progressive Dems), it makes the party even more conservative, because the remainers support very conservative (meaning big-business) policies.

      There’s another problem that only gets worse: the sharp cleavage between the rank-and-file and the national and even state-level parties. It looks like th eparty structure is fundamentally anti-democratic. I don’t know what the firewall is aside from money) – I keep hoping some other reader will know – but the results show it up very clearly.

      In brief: it’s been tried, for al ong time, and the results are before us.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > In brief: it’s been tried, for al ong time, and the results are before us

        It’s not clear to me why Greens constantly deploy this argument, given that it applies to all third party efforts as well. Perennial candidate Stein didn’t make her stated 5% goal. Time to clean house in the GP as well?

        > the sharp cleavage between the rank-and-file and the national and even state-level parties

        Yes. That’s an enormous opportunity that it would be foolish for Sanders supporters to throw away

        > th eparty structure is fundamentally anti-democratic

        Of course it is. The Democrat party is in large part a party of office-holders who don’t use their assets on behalf of constituents. It’s like an electoral version of accounting control fraud, with strategic fear and hate management playing the role of bad mortgages.

    4. cwaltz


      They’d have to put down their guns and leave the circular firing squad they got going on though.

      There are probably better chances of snowballs in Hades.

  2. fresno dan

    “A guide to giving your cats their annual performance review” [Medium]. Sample: “Help your cat understand the consequences if performance does not improve.” Let me know how that works out…

    This person doesn’t understand how the world works. All cats are in charge. Cats judge you – you don’t judge cats.

    1. Reify99

      I like the reductionist metaphor here similar to “She cannot fail. She can only be failed.”
      However, it still doesn’t move us forward.

      For my entry in this genre I submit, ” Hillary Clinton had a choice of losing to Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. She chose Trump.”

      1. Buttinsky

        She cannot fail. She can only be failed.”

        Well… that’s one way of reviewing a cat’s performance, I suppose.

    2. Waldenpond

      My cat is very trainable. If you don’t yell at her, she won’t pee in the briefcase. If you don’t take her off the kitchen counter, she won’t pee in the briefcase. If her dish is full with food she likes, she won’t pee in the briefcase. It’s just a matter of positive reinforcement.

  3. Barmitt O'Bamney

    Matthew Lasner, a professor at Hunter College, tweeted. ‘My husband chasing them down to harass them’”

    Stay classy, liberals. Wait wasn’t there a Portlandia episode about this?
    Oh yes, that’s right.

    1. armchair

      Is it worse than hippie-spit? G.I. Joe Comics is one of the origins of the hippie-spit canard, We hear now that hippie-spit demoralized an entire generation of veterans. It’s like hippie-spit had super-powers. I think liberal professors have super-powers too. Given the choice between hippie-spit, a shaming lecture from a liberal professor and being sealed in a coffin with tarantulas, one should choose the spider-pine-box every time. Believe me.

      1. JTMcPhee

        When I got my discharge papers from the Army in 1969, about 9 months after I got back from 369 days in Vietnam, I went over to the local American Legion post to see about joining. Walking in there was like a scene from a lousy Western, where the stranger swings the saloon doors and steps into the gloom, and the regulars go silent, turn to stare, then turn back to their hooch, muttering low.

        These were WW II and some Korea veterans, fathers of kids I went to school with. I had been, for years, an active member of the Boy Scout troop the Post sponsored, and went on to be a Scout leader. I delivered newspapers to many of them, every morning for 8 years. Many of them went to the same church as my family. “Your kind is not wanted here” was the message. Of course that is just another anecdote among the experiences of millions of GIs and anti-war and Flag-waving types, and hey, maybe it was just something about me personally. Never know…

        Hippie spit? Have some fun with Snopes comments: http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=2360

        1. craazyboy

          That was the Age Of The Draft. If you wanted to go, that was one thing. But Uncle Sam was making anyone go, which was the problem.

          Plus some people had moral problems with killing people, even if they were enemies of Standard Oil. [hippie perspective – I had a girlfriend back then….]

        2. FluffytheObeseCat

          One of the elders at my church taught us about this erased real history when he gave the sermon around Memorial Day, perhaps 6-7 years ago now. It was the “upstanding” GI generation who dished him contempt when he came back, looking for support & community from those who’d been through a similar experience.
          The actual back turners c.1970 were flag-waving conservatives of the previous generation. They’ve been artfully written out of history……. starting in the Reagan era. Made to disappear by many of the same liars whose ruled the airwaves for 2 decades afterwards.

          Now ~40 years on, many older white middle Americans will swear a blue streak that they knew lefties were the ones doing all this. The thing is, I remember the early 70s. And it wasn’t so.

      2. craazyboy

        Well, mythological hippie spit, liberal perfesors, nailed inside a box with tarantulas, is all kinda the same. Hard to make up your mind.

  4. Altandmain

    Obama basically betrayed all of his 2008 promises for change. The emperor no longer has any clothes to hide. Obama may have had decent oratory skills, but he cannot hide the institutional rot that he helped worsen. That is why people have rejected him.

    – No bankers have gone to jail
    – There has been no bank anti-trust nor corporate anti-trust
    – Glass Steagall has not been reinstated nor has any real financial regulation
    – The US is still at war abroad and Obama expanded the drone wars
    – Instead of universal healthcare, we have seen Obamacare, written by insurance executives

    I would make a longer list, if I had the time, but seriously, is anyone surprised at this outcome?

    Obama had sold out from the very beginning. He never planned to keep any promises. Worse, he was paid not to and didn’t even try because of said bribery.

    We reject the corporate Democrats for all they stand for because like the GOP, they accept money from the very institutions that have damaged the economic prospects for the poor and middle classes. They then use identity politics to try to distract people in a manner similar to how the GOP uses religion.

    Is anyone surprised at the outcome of what happened in 2016? Increasing numbers of people are rejecting what the Establishment is peddling. They want business as usual so they can keep looting society.

    The tone deafness is insane. They don’t see how they caused the problems or more accurately, are too greedy to see why.

    1. Code Name D

      Alas, Democrat no live on this place I call planet Earth.

      – No bankers have gone to jail

      A: Why should they? The “great recession” was the fault of the Republicans.

      – There has been no bank anti-trust nor corporate anti-trust

      A: Yes, there has. There is Frank Dodd and its working.

      – Glass Steagall has not been reinstated nor has any real financial regulation

      A: Frank Dodd

      – The US is still at war abroad and Obama expanded the drone wars

      A: No it isn’t. Obama got us out of Iraq. Obama is now trying to fight a completely new war against a new threat.

      – Instead of universal healthcare, we have seen Obamacare, written by insurance executives

      A: Obamacare is working and is hugely popular. More Americans now have health insurance than ever before.

      That’s the frustrating thing. No matter how long you make that list, or how many things you put on it. They have an excuse for everything. Democrats are just about as delusional as any Republican I have met. But because Democrats tend to have degrees (My Uncle works worked for NASA at one point and is a major Clinton apologist.), it means that they are right and I am just some deluded conspiracy theorist getting my information from the Drudge Report or other “fake news” web sites.

      Fake news, fake news, FAKE NEWS! It’s become the ultimate veto. And Clinton is rapidly becoming the new cult leader who is holding the entire Democratic Party in an iron-clad death grip.

      I hate to say it. But as long as HRC is alive, there can be no hope of saving the Democratic Party. And when she is finally gone, the party will implode in on itself because of the power vacuum she leaves behind. The party’s only function now is in preserving her ego. Which is why they are continuing to invest so much into the Puton Hack angel. It’s the only thing they have, the only thing they ever will have.

      1. jgordon

        Strange how Democrats insist on taking money from the corporations, the professional class, and the ultra rich while ramming through economic policies that favor those groups–then complaining that working people are “low information neanderthals” or “racist/sexist/deplorable” for not supporting Democrats.

        There is a certain class of people out there who refuse to take responsibility for anything and who have extreme feelings of entitlement. They also are extremely materialistic, short-term thinkers and base their reality around the idea that feelings, relationships, and perceptions are more important than facts and justice. Ultimately I believe that the modern incarnation of the Democratic Party is a textbook example of what happens when this very sad and incapable group of emotionally unstable people manipulates and shames everyone into letting them be in charge.

        1. Code Name D

          I think it’s not nearly as complicated as that. The older generation tends to rely on traditional media and to be skeptical of anything coming from the internet. And should you live in their social circle, you probably do not get many outside dissenting opinions.

          When I show my dad some of the statistics and research I have regarding Obamacare, much of which I get through NC, its stuff that he has never ever seen before or been introduced to from the MSM. Control what they are exposed to… and you control what they think.

          For example, Henry Kissinger getting the Nobel Peace Prize? This was NOT an accident. It was a way to burnish his image. “A war criminal? Come on, if that were true, then why was he awarded the prize?” see how that works? So suddenly the accusation that Clinton hands around with a war criminal no longer has any purchase.

          Most of your Clinton Democrats are not hypocrites, or even that stupid (they do have degrees). But they live in a carefully managed bubble. In that bubble, Obama is a great president. And if you have never been exposed to any negatives (save when your family comes to town) – why wouldn’t you think he was a great president?

          This is why the “fake news” and new McCarthyism is so damaging. Thanks to the election, the Clinton camp can learn new lessens on how to better manage that bubble. And those uppity young people and their internets – they have got to go. Because they make the dear leader look bad and raise questions they don’t want asked.

          The true power of propaganda is not in the lies they feed you, but from the truth you are starved of.

          1. jgordon

            I would simplify it a lot more then: I believe that these is a very large percentage of the population who should not be allowed to vote or hold political office–say around 51-52%, and these people should be identified and kept out of decision making authority early on if we want to have an enduring civilization.

              1. jgordon

                This very large segment of non-critical voters saw all the propaganda being put out by the corrupt establishment and then cheerfully walked into an R2P/Revenge war against the evil Sadam Hussein. They should have been stripped of their ability to vote so the powers that be would have no reason to propagandize them in the first place. And the more discerning and critical citizenry would have been able to put a stop to it.

            1. different clue

              And how would we decide who does not get to vote or hold office? I have an idea.

              Speaking as a birdwatcher . . . if you are not able to tell the difference in the field between a juvenile northern skua and a juvenile southern skua, you are not qualified to vote and should not be permitted to vote.

              1. jgordon

                Oh, I have an excellent idea about how we’d decide that. In fact, if my idea had been in practice all along, we’d have never had to deal with the disaster of prohibition. Now we are still stuck with a very large and powerful organized crime culture spread throughout America thanks to prohibition. And I have no problem laying all the horrors that have stemmed from prohibition directly at the feet of t hat newly empowered segment of the population that rabidly supported it because of their feewings.

            2. aab

              I started a reply that I never finished because, you know, holiday, family, etc.; kept getting distracted. Since it’s in agreement with Lambert but has a slightly different point, I’m pasting it in after all:

              That is the exact same position that the ruling class — both factions — holds. Both elite Republicans and elite Democrats want only the “right sort” to decide; they only disagree on who exactly the right sort would be, although both definitions, funnily enough, tend to restrict decision-making to people with significant economic resources.

              And it seems to me the lower orders aren’t the obstacle to leftward progress. They voted for Obama, because he was promising change. They would have voted for Bernie. They refused to eat the second helping of Clintonian dog food.

              I spent half my childhood in a rural area that was hostile to city folk, newcomers and intellectuals, and I was all those things. It was not fun. That is an extreme understatement. I am fully cognizant that huge numbers of people in this country disagree with me and don’t like my beliefs or values. But I think recent political events back up what I have always believed, and what fundamentally makes me a leftist and not a liberal: it is neither moral nor effective to restrict voting along class, wealth, gender, education or any other dividing line other than age (because every citizen has the possibility of becoming an adult).

              I actually think this year’s results were a superb repudiation of that notion. Elite systems of control are the core problem, not citizen decision-making. If James Comey had been a patriot and not a crony, and had recommended indictment before the Democratic Convention, President-elect Sanders would be picking his cabinet. And he would have been elected by a coalition that the current elites tell us is impossible: rural and urban, young and old, conservative and socialist, white, black, brown, native, immigrant…

              As Lambert says, this isn’t a tyranny of the majority problem. It’s a tyranny of the elite problem. Or, more simply put: tyranny.

              1. Steve H.

                : I spent half my childhood in a rural area that was…

                Mine was Pulaski, WI, and only half a year. I learned that resilient, productive communities can have a strong exclusionary principle. Glad I had the experience, glad it wasn’t long.

              2. jgordon

                I have a very simple and straight forward method for deciding this. Conditions aren’t right for me to talk about it now, but when society and civilization deteriorates far enough it’ll suddenly become non-verboten to talk about it once again.

    2. DJG

      Alltandmain: As far as I am concerned, Obama’s “legacy” (word of the moment) puts him somewhere around Martin Van Buren, who was less truculent.

      All you have to know:
      –Guantanamo is still open, which is the “human face” of the torture factories that were allowed to go on.
      –The full report on torture written by the Senate seems likely to go into “sensitive” presidential papers that will be sealed for some time. (Convenient in that killings by torture are still capital crimes.)
      –During every day of Obama’s administration, the U.S. has been in a shooting war somewhere, whether declared or not. He is unique among presidents.
      –A smaller peccadillo, the 38 billion dollars to Israel over the next decade as a down payment on more wars.

      I voted for peace. First Bernie Sanders, then Jill Stein. Obama’s non-existent ethics are part of the scandal of his so-called scandal-free administration.

    3. sid_finster

      To be fair to Obama, he made very little in the way of concrete promises.

      Mostly, he spoke of hope and vague platitudes, and let the voters project on him what they wanted to.

  5. Carolinian

    Putin also called Dems sore losers in his press conference. When asked if he will come to Washington if invited by Trump he said “of course I will.” Perhaps in a burst of cold war nostalgia Disneyland will be added to the itinerary (then withdrawn).

  6. Paid Minion

    Malls……. all the malls around here that cater to the upper tier suburbs are doing fine.

    The ones that are built in areas where the Middle Class is turning into the working poor are going down the tubes.

    And lest we forget the 16-21 age group…… fewer kids, less disposable income = Dead Malls

    1. JTMcPhee

      One former large-box standalone here in St. Petersburg, located in a steadily more ‘disatvantaged’ neighborhood but with great access, has been several things since then, including an indoor go-kart track. Now it has turned with more or less success to something that looks a bit like the Seattle Public Market. Shop fronts and stalls you can rent to present all kinds of wares and services. I have not driven by recently, but there was good ‘traffic’ the last time I went past. Not as run down as the flea markets. The Seattle market has an interesting history, a reaction against looting by monopoly interests as I recall. Also it was a farmers market from the git-go, speaking of “food insecurity” and corporatized “nutrition.”

  7. Portia

    re cat perf reviews–this commenter has it right. My cat Sarah has a checklist she goes through every day.

    David Simmons

    You got it all wrong. It’s the other way around, cats give us performance reviews.

    I hope everyone has a lovely holiday time. Here is my fav opera singer, Kathleen Battle with some other great musicians.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      She was 68, but she has a cast of loyal followers who needed her to run to maintain their position. Except for Republican and White House officialdom, does Hillary ever interact with people who aren’t dependent on Clinton largesse?

      Obviously, she was running back in 1998, but she definitely had people who pushed her when she might not have at 68 now 69.

    2. dcrane

      There’s a lot of having it both ways for Biden in that interview. He sensed the danger of losing….but didn’t choose to run when Hillary was looking weak. He says the Democratic party should be “proud of where the hell we are” (in reference to progressive credentials) but also admits “you can’t eat equality”. Oh, and a few rather convenient strawmen pop up, like the line “I don’t think 500 billionaires caused all our problems” in reference to Sanders’ movement against Wall Street.

      At least it’s good to see Biden acknowledging that the middle class has grievances beyond “racism and sexism” motivating their behavior.

  8. Phil

    “Livestock Antibiotics Surging Up, Up, Up” [Natural Resources Defense Fund]. “Earlier today, the latest FDA figures on antibiotics sold for use in meat and poultry production came out. The news is not good. Sales just keep rising. Against the backdrop of a crisis in now untreatable or nearly untreatable infections, this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action to address the ongoing overuse of the drugs in livestock.”

    But my patient, who might have pneumonia, needs hundreds of dollars of testing to confirm that diagnosis, with the potential for false negatives, before he gets an antibiotic–because that Z-pack might aggravate antibiotic resistance. Right-o.

    We would still be able to use doxycycline for pneumonia if not for factory farming of animals. There are towns where they still do–but they are pretty isolated.

    Factory farming competes for the top of the class in ethical horrors, along with genocide, murder, species extinction by overexploitation–you name it. Of course “reasonable morality” is a category that excludes the Christianity that those agribusinessmen say they practice. Remember “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” the Purdue tagline? I’d say rather that it takes a greedy brutal heartless torturing psychopath to make a factory-farmed chicken or egg.

    If the author of the Bible had not been a malicious priest with penchant for animal sacrifice, and if he had owned a microscope, the Bible would evidently have been written for a readership of the microbes, which actually do sit at the top of the food chain. What a wonderful world it could be.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Factory farms are evil.
      I wish everyone would consider a lifelong boycott on all factory-farmed ‘products’.
      Plant-based diets are healthier for man and beast.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Monsanto and the Big Seed Companies will happily supply you with ‘healthy and nutritious foodstuffs’ made to their careful specifications…

        “We’re headin’ fer the last Round-Up…”

    2. polecat

      Nothing like fresh eggs from our hens … which have just stated laying again**, after ‘resting’ post fall molting … Yuummm !

      **lighting coop, for extra ‘daylight hrs’ and heat, since thankgiving ….

  9. dk

    In other words, the 1% matters, the 10% matters, and aspirational 10%-ers (“ladders of opportunity”) matter to Democrats. Nobody else.

    And in the media/politics pageant, the aspirationals matter them most, because they are the largest number, and able to vote. Hence identity politics, a clever way to divide while conquering. Of course, the 1% have to be satisfied, but they know they can’t afford to hog the spotlight.

    1. hunkerdown

      Aspirationals are also zealous, which is important when proselytizing a religion as the Democrat Party does.

      Group narcissism makes people less concerned about their material conditions and more concerned with what the group (separate from its members) values. The 1% don’t need to hog the limelight (i.e. our attention); when they sponsor the pageant in the first place, they control the limelight and who gets in or out of it. The pageant analogy to fake competition is indeed apt.

      “Thank god I’m only watching the game. Controlling it.” -Murray Head, “One Night in Bangkok”

    2. Oregoncharles

      Which only adds up to 21%. Hard to win elections with that. (Granted, that’s how many people will admit to being Republicans, and they seem to be doing well.)

    1. integer

      the WaPo just can’t stop themselves
      from spinning facts into lies
      like the lying liars that they are.
      Same goes for the New York Times.
      this poem only slightly rhymes.

  10. HBE

    The Cramer interview is a must listen.

    While it does get a little “idpol” focused at certain points, her on the ground work is on point.

    Of everyone she spoke to the one consistent answer, with zero hesitation, was that no party actually represents their interests.

    The tribalists are a dying (albeit vocal) breed, at no time in the recent past has the time been more favorable to the rise of a new party.

    The benefits of taking over the dem party have largely dissappeared. Automatic tribalist support based on name recognition will soon be very limited and the on the ground organization has largely been dismantled by Obama and Clinton.

    Why try to rebuild a corrupted and dying organization on it’s deathbed, and hope it can be reformed, when the opportunity for a new party to rise is so clear.

    Our revolution could be working to build the foundations of a third party not propping up the dems with positive progressive candidates who will be smothered within the party.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast. Cramer was terrific.

      However, I’m noticing a contradiction. To paraphrase, the Democrats are (a) dying and (b) capable of neutralizing any resistance. The Democrats are simultaneously so powerful they can overcome any internal insurgency, and yet so weak they cannot overcome an external assault. Really?

      The assets to be seized are (a) existing statutes built on both existing parties, including (b) ballot access, as well as (c) the database and (d) any remaining goodwill. I agree that the field organization has collapsed. That spells opportunity, since the Sanders people know how to do that.

      And the opportunity of a third party is not clear at all. If it were, the GP would have made it’s 5% threshold. And in a year when the choice was between Clinton and Trump, they couldn’t. To me, one result of the 2016 election is that the Greens can be crossed off because all they do is muddy the waters (reinforced by the recount debacle).

      1. HBE

        The internally strong, externally weak perspective comes from my view that the top 10% ownership of the Democratic party has much greater power within the structure it controls than without.

        At present I think of the Democratic party as a vampire starved of blood (trust and voters) it is internally weak as long as it continues to starve, but if it receives an infusion of trust and independents, from the inclusion of positive progressive candidates, it will rise again allowing the embedded rot which has spread throughout it’s structure to rise as well, and quickly smother those positive progressive candidates after it gorges on their voters and the trust they brought back to the party (like first time independent Bernie voters who ended up voting Clinton).

        On the other hand if positive progressives work outside the party (and not within the poorly functioning green structure) it continues to starve, it continues to lose trust, and voters. It grows weaker because it cannot feed off the positive progressives the way it could if they become part of the party.

        Personally I view it as too great a risk to allow another generation to buy into democratic party, through internal reform efforts only to become so invested in it, that when the rot (inevitably in my view) quickly dimantles those reforms. Another generation is unable to disentangle itself from the party and the cycle repeats.

        It is certainly likely based on the entrenched party structures, that the only way for the left to gain a foothold is through the democratic structure, then there is no other option but an attempt at reform. If however their is a path (which general public sentiment especially among the young, and poor seems to indicate) to a viable external party the dems can keep their rotting structure, I’ll not help revive it.

      2. sid_finster

        Team D may be ready for a third party challenge, but that challenge will not come from the present incarnation of the Green Party.

        These guys and girls wouldn’t take power if it were handed to them on a silver platter.

  11. DJG

    Is it possible that Saint Hillary, now in occultation like the twelfth imam, has in fact led the country to a kind of Methodist Sebastianism?


    Let me know if anyone sees any street shrines with teddy bears and amulets. And if I may point out faithlesslessly, even on this Festivus, this is what happens when people inject religion into politics, whether “hope” (theological virtue), biblical marriage (you mean like Jacob’s several?), and the required “modesty” of the veil.

    1. Rhondda

      Hillary — the sleeping queen, who will return to help Amerika in its darkest hour.

      Thanks for the Sebastianist detour. Very interesting.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > any street shrines with teddy bears and amulets. And

      That would be a great internet meme. If anybody spots one in the wild — or, indeed, if any reader who wants a break from XMas decided to create one — I’d love to see a picture.

  12. rjs

    re: “The Q3 blip up remains a soybean export, inventory building and healthcare premium story likely to be reversed in q4, as it all continues it’s general deceleration since oil capex peaked a couple of years ago”

    that 3rd quarter GDP was largely soybean exports started with a story in the Wall Street Journal quoting Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, who said they’d add 1% to the third quarter growth figure…that was picked up & expanded by other news services, leading to other wild estimates of its impact, some even as high as 2.8%…

    but think about it for a minute; our GDP is the output of goods and services produced by the US economy. does anyone think our soybean output increased so much that it would increase the size of the US economy at a 1% rate? that’s nonsense, we could not plant so much. while we did have a record crop, our jump in soybean exports in July and August came out of inventories to meet unseasonal Chinese demand…since we normally don’t export many soybeans when the crop is still growing, those summer exports were spiked by the seasonal adjustment to trade figures…at the same time, soybean inventories were reduced, taking part of that gain back out of GDP…

    in the 4th quarter, the reverse will happen…newly harvested soybeans will be added to inventories, adding to GDP, while diminished exports will be reduced even further by the seasonal adjustment, hitting the export component of the GDP figures…

  13. ewmayer

    “A guide to giving your cats their annual performance review” [Medium]. Sample: “Help your cat understand the consequences if performance does not improve.” Let me know how that works out… — Indeed, the reality is better-illustrated by this Mutts comic from a few years ago. As the saying goes, dogs have owners and cats have staff.

        1. ambrit

          Is that ladder anything like Swift’s greased pole of political preferment?
          (Too many fellatial and or scatological puns and quips to ‘go into’ here.)

  14. Oregoncharles

    “Despite six years of historic political setbacks, there is little self-reflection from a party that seemed to be on the verge of becoming a permanent majority just eight years ago” [Joe Scarborough, WaPo].”

    This an others like it are missing something fundamental: there can’t be a “permanent majority.” The two “major” parties prop each other up; if one goes, they both go. And the collusion runs deep. So the Democrats very visibly went about rescuing the Republicans when the latter appeared to be on their last legs in 2009; Now it’s the Republicans’ turn. Watch for the Dems to make big gains in 2018, despite their structural problems, and with a lot of help from you-know-who, who is now cast as Bush III.

    Yes, they yell at each other a lot; remember kayfabe? They might even be serious, sometimes, but they still depend on each other. Their REAL problem is that the voters are fading away, despite the evidence this year (in fact, turnout was lower; that’s what did in Hillary). I don’t think either one knows what to do about that, but it’s something we should be planning for.

    1. Chris

      That’s an interesting theory. I’ll guess we’ll see it play out over the next year.

      Around me I see people who want Team Red to go for the jugular and knock the Dems into a permanent minority status in 2018. I don’t see how the Dems manage to get through the coming senatorial elections maintaining what they have. And people aligned with Trump are unlikely to let up the pressure too.

      I think if regaining parity means letting go of the ideas that funded the Clinton gravy train, the Dems are doomed. If the media organizations and Clinton apologists win the battle to frame Hillary’s repeat loss as solely due to external forces, then maybe they can come back in between, and if Trump does something stupid, they stand a chance of winning national elections again. But even then, who is running at the local level? Which state houses stand even a chance of going blue again? They don’t have a bench of talent waiting to step up. They don’t even have a farm team left. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I wouldn’t bet money on the Dems right now.

      1. jawbone

        Let’s see what the Repubs just can’t resist doing in terms of openly screwing the lower economic quintiles. They usually have a long time to reframe a screw job as something “good” and necessary for the less well off in the nation. But, once given power to do things, they seem to have remarkably little self control, so…wait and see.

        Can the Dems hang together in the Senate? Oh, it’s so hard to imagine them doing anything so likely to personally hurt some of them….

        Hard times acomin’, folks. Hard times. Among the soaring personal wealth increases of the Big Money crowd. I’m not sure all than many Dem Elites will be included in reaping rewards from insider trade deals…. Will they figure out that they’ve screwed themselves? So far, no.

  15. Jim Haygood

    An amazing Christmas gift from Obama:

    UNITED NATIONS — Defying extraordinary pressure from President-elect Donald J. Trump and furious lobbying by Israel, the Obama administration on Friday allowed the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction.

    The administration’s decision not to veto the measure reflected its growing frustration over Israeli settlements, and broke a longstanding American policy of serving as Israel’s sturdiest diplomatic shield at the United Nations.

    While the measure is not expected to have any practical impact on the ground, it is regarded as a major rebuff to Israel, one that could increase its isolation over the paralyzed peace process with Israel’s Palestinian neighbors.

    Applause broke out in the 15-member Security Council’s chambers after the vote on the measure, which passed 14-0, with the United States abstaining.


    Not only was condemning settlements the right thing to do, but also it puts Israel on notice that insulting America’s leaders — as Netanyahu boorishly did by lecturing Obama from the dais of the House of Representatives without an invitation — is utterly unacceptable behavior.

    Thank you, President Obama. You’re making America great again.

      1. Cry Shop

        All while doubling weapons sales and weapons purchase aid to Israel. Yea! Another fantastic empty gesture when it’s really too late, by the truely lame president.

        Duck in Chinese is slang for a gigolo/male-male prostitute, and as the favored prostitute for Wall Street, we can call Obie-the-wan a true lame duck president.

    1. Cry Shop

      All while doubling weapons sales and weapons purchase aid to Israel. Yea! Another fantastic empty gesture when it’s really too late, by the truly lame president.

      Duck in Chinese is slang for a gigolo/male-male prostitute, and as the favored prostitute for Wall Street, we can call Obie-the-wan a true lame duck president.

  16. tommy strange

    There is a really three times lie meme that Solnit and others are spreading, from Stop Trump + DefendDemocracy. It’s absoulty amazing. Not only does it turn against Obama for not taking more aggressive actions against Russia, (bombing? I mean what are they are calling for?) ..It completely blames Russia for Syria bombing. Not just Assad of course, but leaves out Al Nustra and etc. Claiming Russia is going to commit genocide. Well he ‘could’…any violent state ‘could’ but de facto it supports ISIS and al nusra. Amazing. Then it turns around in one phrase that Obama stopped deals with Putin. no, a new fracking ok just went through.
    my god. With allies like these…………

  17. Darthbobber

    My memory was jogged today by a mailer from my wife’s AFSCME local, reminding me that while the “repeal and something-or-other” over the ACA begins with the turn of the year, the so-called “Cadillac Plan tax” is also scheduled to come online in the new year, as the temporary delay to get past the elections expires.

    Whatever “everybody” agreed on last spring, I’m thinking that the GOP will now be fine with letting it come into force, since its guaranteed to be unpopular with everybody still covered by the better low-deductible employer-funded plans. So that provision, with its heavy pressure to convert the remaining good plans into ones with much higher deductibles, is likely to last as long as the ACA survives.

    Or at least that seems the way to bet.

    1. Pat

      I’d say/bet you are reading the situation correctly. Even if they weren’t determined to get rid of it, there is no reason for the majority to do anything to make it work it better for the plebes.

      Oh, and here is a fix that the Dems had to know needed to be done if you wanted to keep the few fans of the program you have. And funnily enough, it didn’t happen. Yet another reason to laugh outright at the bull from the Hillary campaign about ‘incremental fixes’.

      1. Jay M

        they had to pass the law to know what was in it, and promptly lost their majority
        so good luck for incremental fixes during the 0bama reign
        screwing union contracts–hope and change, baby

        1. craazyboy

          The “incremental fixes” have been huge price increases. Illiteracy may work for our lawmakers, but for us, not so much.

  18. Kim Kaufman

    “How Barack Obama Failed Black Americans” [William A. Darity, The Atlantic].

    And also Obama cut I don’t know how many government jobs, which I believe impacted African-Americans to a large extent.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That Darity article is very good. He says nice things about Coates, and Coates is a good writer (if perhaps a little self-indulgent) but Darity is by far the superior analyst.

  19. meeps

    Fascinating bit of work, that Cahokia dig. One wonders whether today’s tribalism might eventually become a functional heterarchy. A New Year’s toast…

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Deep Sea Fisherman Posts His Discoveries on Twitter” — I’ll know it’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in the news if Yves ever posts one of those creatures as the antidote.

    1. ambrit

      Actually, such a posting by the Content Provider of the day could be a wonderful “in crowd” signal to: “Hunker down. Martial Law is here.”
      Very much like playing “Twilight of the Gods” over Radio Berlin in April of 1945.

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