Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Water Cooler

Most voters are ready for a political revolution to redistribute wealth (americablog.com). Even Tea Party supporters agree, which is amazing.


 “It’s the corruption, stupid”: Hillary’s too compromised to see what Donald Trump understands (salon.com). Not quite right, actually. It's the anger. Even Salon can't seem to comprehend the not-exactly-rocket-science realities of this election cycle. People are pissed, and Donald Trumpf knows how to tap into that pissed-offness better than anyone (better, even, than Sanders). Hillary, for all her years in politics, can't seem to connect with the Angry As Hell theme, nor (frankly) would she be credible in that role since life has been pretty good to her personally. (What's she got to be pissed about? Not enough white privilege?) She's in a difficult spot. The more she touts her knowledge of Washington (her ability to "get things done"), the more she paints herself as a member of the very establishment people are pissed off at. And yet, if she doesn't find a way to bring angry Sandernistas into the fold, she may not be able to stop Trump in November (assuming she gets the nomination). Thus far, she exudes the passion of a wet sandwich. She needs to step up her outrage game (in a credible way), and fast, or else forget about the White House.

Hillary Clinton Wins Nevada But Loses Her Narrative (vanityfair.com). The headline is a bit silly, actually. It's true that Hillary probably misjudged her support among Hispanics in Nevada, but her poor showing with that group is hardly surprising, given the young average age of Hispanic voters and Hillary's famously awful support among millennials. Her narrative (if that's what you can call it) is still intact where the Black vote is concerned, and Sanders is bound to feel the heat in South Carolina and Georgia, where the older Black female voter tends to turn out in strength. Hillary will slam-dunk South Carolina, the way Sanders did NH. The big question is whether she can connect, finally, with Hispanics, on Tuesday, in Texas (worth 252 delegates).

Hillary Clinton Is Backed by Major Republican Donors (washingtonsblog.com). Mitt Romney's 2012 backers have given more money to Clinton than to 11 GOP candidates. And so it's not surprising that:

Hillary Clinton's Latest Attack on Bernie Sanders Sounds a Lot Like Mitt Romney (mic.com). She has actually begun using Mitt Romney's talking points in her speeches.

The US Economy Has Not Recovered And Will Not Recover (paulcraigroberts.org). The author of this piece, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He tells it like it is. Spot on. The news is pretty grim, so brace yourself.

President Obama Sides with U.S. Corporate Tax Cheats (neweconomicperspectives.org). "Watching the Obama administration join Murdoch in shilling for U.S. corporate tax evaders and demanding that the EU not attempt to stop the race to the bottom on corporate taxation (rather than supporting that EU effort) is painful, but no longer surprising.  Hillary Clinton says that we must not point these facts out because doing so is “disloyal” to Obama.  Obama [however] is being disloyal to the American people and the stated principles of his Party when he shills for wealthy corporate tax evaders. We do any official our greatest service as citizens when we hold them accountable, not when we self-censor." This is such a great piece, I'm tempted to quote the whole thing. It's short. It's well done. It's very much worth the 45 seconds it will take you to read it.

Negative interest rates are a calamitous misadventure (telegraph.co.uk). This is a hugely important topic, and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is an enormously gifted reporter who (as usual) gets straight to the point: "Roughly $7 trillion of debt is trading at negative rates. Western states can borrow for next to nothing until the 2030s, yet they refuse to repair their crumbling infrastructure and invest in their future dynamism from fear of fiscal deficits." And he notes: "Worse yet, negative rates are a creeping threat to civil liberties since the only way to enforce such a regime over time is to abolish cash, for otherwise people will move their savings beyond reach. Mao Zedong briefly flirted with the idea during the Cultural Revolution in his bid to destroy every vestige of China's ancient culture, but even he recoiled." It all seems rather academic, at this point, to most Americans, but it won't be so funny when zero-interest jumbo mortgages are available to the highest earners (i.e., those with proper credit) while the rest of us struggle to qualify for a 9.8% car loan while paying marginal rates of 20% or more on credit cards; and meanwhile, ATMs disappear.

Gasoline Trades as If U.S. Nearing Recession, Goldman Says (bloomberg.com). A variety of technical indicators show that gasoline futures are, in fact, mispriced unless we're entering a recession.


Modern Milgram experiment sheds light on power of authority (nature.com). It turns out simply being given a command makes people feel less burden of responsibility for their actions. On a subconscious level, we enjoy being told "Obey!" It relieves us of responsibility. Fortunately, some of us also operate on a conscious level . . .

The Psychology of the Breathtakingly Stupid Mistake (scientificamerican.com). Latest research suggests there are three distinct types of action that bring palm to face.

18 Signs Economists Are Full of Shit Haven’t the Foggiest (unlearningeconomics.wordpress.com). This piece passes my Ultimate Litmus Test of Good Writing: I wish I'd written it.

The Decline Of The Coal Industry Is “Long-Term” And “Irreversible” (oilprice.com). Many say this (what's happening in coal) is actually a template for what's happening, or about to happen, in oil. In other words, oil is in permanent, structural decline; the market may never come back.

Flint residents paid America's highest water rates (freep.com). Third-World-Americanism in action.

Reporting of clinical trial results by top academic centers remains poor (medicalxpress.com). Researchers found that only 29% of completed clinical trials led by investigators at major US academic centers were published within two years of completion, and only 13% reported results on the largest clinical trial registry, ClinicalTrials.gov.

Sound wave therapy is first alternative to Viagra in 15 years (newscientist.com). How long until someone crowdfunds a portable home unit that bypasses the medical-device industry altogether? It seems low-tech enough. And harmless. Why does this need to be a high-cost "procedure"?

Sanders Economic Plan Questioned By Critics With Ties To Wall Street (ibtimes.com). The mutual back-scratching (Clinton, Wall Street) begins. We see now how firms like Morgan Stanley go to bat for Clinton. Read the disgusting details. Decide for yourself who's in bed with whom. Of course the owner class will object to any Sanders economic plan, and of course they'll use Wall Street's own favorite wonks to do the objecting. (For a sober, well-reasoned alternative take on the controversy, see Can Sanders Do It?)

Capitalism, Slavery, Racism and Imprisonment of People of Color Cannot Be Separated (truth-out.org). In this interview with Dennis Childs (Slaves of the State), we learn about the "exception clause" of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which permits slavery as punishment.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the United States.  (13th Amendment)
Constitutional originalists, please discuss.

Thanks for visiting. Be sure to check out prior weeks' Water Coolers (see links at right).


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