Sunday, September 4, 2016

2:00PM Water Cooler 9/1/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Our Famously Free Press

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

Swing States

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

The Voters

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

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

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

UPDATE “[W]hen we control for partisanship, what we see is that distrust for Clinton is hardly driven by whiteness. The two most remarkable trends are, first, her outsized trust among black Democrats, and second, her plurality distrust among Hispanic Democrats.

More white Democrats trust her than distrust her; that latter number, meanwhile, is comparable or less than her distrust among Hispanic and “other” Democrats, and only varies from her substantial distrust among black Democrats by around 9%” [Carl Beijer].

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

War Drums

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

So much for keeping the military out of politics:



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

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

Clinton Email Hairball

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

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

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


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

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

Our Famously Free Press

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

UPDATE So much for YouTube:


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