Friday Talking Points [418] -- President-Shaming Might Just Work

[ Posted Friday, December 9th, 2016 – 19:01 UTC ]

OK, that's a rather unusual title, but you'll have to wait until the talking points part of the program for us to address it. Call it "the lesson to be learned from the Carrier jobs and Donald Trump," or the silver lining that just might be an effective tool for Democrats in the near future. First, though, we've got to get through the news of the week and handing out our weekly awards.

President-Elect Donald Trump continues to assemble his Cabinet of Deplorables (to coin a phrase), nominating people who are either actively hostile to each department's basic purpose in life, or laughably unqualified for any such important position.

The worst examples from that first category were Trump's pick to head the E.P.A. (a man who is currently suing the E.P.A.) and his choice of a fast-food executive to head the Labor Department (who not only will fight against minimum wage increases, but also says he likes to see "beautiful women in bikinis eating burgers"). We have to say, when Barack Obama stuffed his cabinet with Wall Street types, at least progressives were bright enough to realize they had just been sold out in a major way, but so far it seems that the blue-class Trump base hasn't figured out how much Trump is laughing at them and their concerns. Drain the swamp? Hardly -- Trump is concentrating on making that swamp deeper and stinkier than ever.

In the "laughably unqualified" category, we have Ben Carson -- a man whose spokesperson had clearly stated was not qualified to run a federal department mere weeks ago -- being named to run Housing and Urban Development. Because Carson is the only person Trump knows who has ever interacted with poor people, apparently. Then we have Linda McMahon, chief of a professional wrestling organization, who was just named to lead the Small Business Administration, for some inexplicable reason. McMahon has been desperately trying to enter politics for a while now (ask someone from Connecticut, they'll tell you), and we can't help but wonder how incensed two other Republican corporate political wannabes are right now. Both Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman must be mad enough to chew nails, but at least they're smart enough not to spew bile on Twitter or anything. Heh.

Although Trump named some highly questionable people to his cabinet this week, as we were writing this we heard the nation heave a collective and noticeable sigh of relief. Since this was an odd thing to hear while typing, we quickly checked our news feed and saw that Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running for secretary of State. Whew! We breathed our own audible sigh of relief after reading this, that's for sure. Now all we have to worry about is John Bolton getting the nod (shudder).

It was also announced this week that Donald Trump will continue to be executive producer of the reality television show The Apprentice, because why not? He's already setting up his cabinet to be an extended version of the show, so this might just make perfect sense.

Republicans in Congress have shown precisely zero enthusiasm for holding Donald Trump not just to the same standard as Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, but to any sort of standard at all. Not only are they yawning over the massive potential for Trump to have conflicts of interest while in office, they're also quite willing to defend any insane rant Trump tweets, no matter how indefensible. So it looks like Trump's hostile takeover of the Republican Party is now fully complete.

Trump picked a fight this week with a Union leader, because the guy correctly said that Trump lied about how many Carrier jobs he had saved. After being attacked personally by Trump on Twitter, Chuck Jones shot back in the Washington Post, writing:

Now our office is getting phone calls and emails from people who are mad that I called Trump on his dishonesty. One man left five messages (though when I called him back and told him who I was, he hung up the phone). Some people have suggested that Trump didn't mean to lie, he just got the numbers wrong. But I know that's not true. On the campaign trail, Trump made perfectly clear how excellent a negotiator he is. I have negotiated hundreds of contracts. I know that if I'm going to have a fighting chance, I better damn well know the numbers.

More on this later in the program, down in the talking points. For now: when is Trump going to learn that taking on individuals on Twitter isn't going to help him? Perhaps never. [If you want to push back on Twitter yourself, don't forget the #ImWithChuck hashtag.]

Over on the other side of the aisle, we're starting to see some signs of life from Senate Democrats. A bipartisan bill has been introduced by Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Lindsey Graham to protect the DACA (or DREAMer) kids from the incoming administration's wrath, but this is just an opening move in this chess game (the real fight will happen in the next Senate).

A group of Democrats is staging a short government shutdown protest in the hopes of goading Donald Trump to take his own party on. The first sticking point happened because the House Republicans breathtakingly removed a "Buy American" provision in the bill written to (finally!) send some federal aid to help Flint, Michigan fix its water system. The Senate passed a version of the bill with the "Buy American" (steel, to be specific) idea in it, but the House removed it. Since Trump swore he'd do precisely this (buy American steel to rebuild the country), Democrats are hopeful he'll weigh in on their side.

The second sticking point is even more targeted towards large groups of blue-collar workers Trump promised to help: coal miners. Tens of thousands of coal miners are about to lose their health care. If nothing is done, they will lose it at the start of January. Democrats want at least one more year funded. Republicans counteroffered with a measly few months. So coal-state Democrats (yes, they do exist) in the Senate are forcing the issue, in the hopes that Trump will notice and crack down on his fellow Republicans.

We'll see how this all plays out this weekend (it may be nothing more than a very short term publicity stunt), but it at least has the chance of grabbing Trump's attention. At least, if the evening news covers it (which is not assured by any means).

The most hopeful signs of life from Senate Democrats, though, came from an interview with incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. The question since the election has been whether Democrats should try to obstruct everything Trump does (because this actually worked wonders for Republicans during President Obama's time in office, at least in terms of winning congressional seats), or should just roll over and go along to get along, calling themselves "centrists" in the hopes of winning over voters (note: this tactic never actually works, but Democrats have tried it in the past many times). Instead of taking this route, Chuck Schumer is strongly saying Democrats will indeed stand up for what all Democrats are supposed to believe in:

[Incoming Minority Leader] Schumer, though close to Wall Street for much of his career, is wholeheartedly embracing the party's [Bernie] Sanders-Elizabeth Warren populism. This means Schumer, and the Democrats, are ready to fight.

Conventional wisdom says Schumer will be pulled in a moderate and conciliatory posture by the 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2018 in states that Trump won (two of them, West Virginia's Joe Manchin III and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, have been wooed by Trump as possible Cabinet secretaries). He'll be pulled the other way by Warren and Sanders, who represent the party's energy.

But Schumer correctly views this as a false choice. The best way to protect endangered incumbents is to let the Warren wing lead.

. . .

If Democrats are to have any hope in 2018, they'll need to reclaim the populism Trump stole in 2016. Schumer embraces this. "If you want to appeal to the manufacturing worker in Scranton, the college student in Los Angeles and the single mom making minimum wage in Harlem, one economic message will work," he said. "We just didn't have it" in 2016.

Schumer pledges to keep his focus almost entirely on the economy. When Republicans hold votes on energy and social issues that divide Democrats, he figures he'll have enough votes to filibuster even if endangered incumbents split off. "We're going to have five, six sharp-edged [policies] that can be described in five words," Schumer said. "That economic message" -- college affordability, infrastructure spending, taxing the rich -- "unites our caucus."

This bodes extremely well for the future, if Schumer delivers. Imagine if Hillary Clinton's entire campaign advertising budget had been spent on ads showcasing small business owners who had been stiffed by Donald Trump, just for instance.

Democrats win when they actually stand up and loudly proclaim what they're fighting for. Democrats win when they back policies that actually help Main Street. Schumer's actions next year are going to be closely watched by Democrats -- since he'll be the highest-ranking and most-influential Democrat in Washington next year -- so it is indeed good to hear him starting from this basic position. Which also gives us a rather optimistic note to end this week's roundup on.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We have a few Honorable Mentions to hand out this week, before we get to the big award.

First, we know this is more of a non-partisan issue, but we have to recognize the Standing Rock Sioux for their success in their months-long protest against an oil pipeline which would have threatened the tribe's source of water. Protest movements rarely work, and heading into last weekend it looked like a serious showdown was going to happen Monday, as law enforcement was gearing up to evict the protest. They had already used water cannons against protesters -- in sub-freezing weather, mind you -- so it was pretty easy to tell the good guys from the bad in this faceoff. But the Army Corps of Engineers acted before the showdown, handing the Standing Rock Sioux a solid victory in their fight. So while not actually a partisan group of Democrats, we feel the Standing Rock Sioux deserve at least an Honorable Mention for their protest's success.

Secondly, as just mentioned, Chuck Schumer is sending some very positive signals that Senate Democrats are not simply going to roll over and let Trump and the GOP have everything they want. For taking such an early stand, Schumer is worthy of at least an Honorable Mention this week.

And our final Honorable Mention awards are for outgoing (retiring) Senate Democrats Barbara Boxer (of California), Barbara Mikulski (of Maryland), and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (of Nevada). They all gave their swansong speeches on the Senate floor this week, and we have to say we're going to miss all of them. Mikulski has previous won the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week three times, Boxer a total of seven times, and Reid a very impressive 19 times. Reid is currently tied with Nancy Pelosi on the all-time winners list, behind only Hillary Clinton (22 wins) and Barack Obama (56 wins). That's a pretty impressive record to leave behind.

But this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week is another Democrat stepping down from both the Senate (where he currently presides) and from the vice-presidency. Joe Biden has been on a farewell tour this week, not only being lionized on the Senate floor by Democrats and Republicans alike, but also appearing on Stephen Colbert's late-night show, where he displayed the basic humanity that has earned him such bipartisan respect. Earlier in the week, he joked to a reporter that he might just run for president in 2020, because "what the Hell, man." Seth Myers, another late-night television host, hilariously responded that "we already elected What The Hell Man," while showing a picture of Donald Trump.

Biden deserves the MIDOTW award not only for the sadness millions will feel seeing him leave office, but also for a very important legislative victory on his way out. Congress just passed a bill which funds Biden's "cancer moonshot" initiative to the tune of $1.8 billion -- almost twice what Biden said he was hoping for. Not only did they pass the bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell renamed the bill for Biden's son Beau, whose death was the inspiration for the whole effort.

There are plenty of politicians in Washington who engender hatred from enormous portions of the American public. Some even inspire hatred among their own party's base. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is an old-school senator who reminds us all that the Senate used to be a lot better behaved than the hotheads in the House. They used to, in fact, take an institutional pride in being above rancid partisan bickering. Not so much anymore, but even now it is heartening to see people from both sides of the aisle offer up praise for Joe Biden's basic humanity.

We're going to miss you when you're gone, Joe. Although we thought you'd make a great consensus candidate to head the Democratic National Committee next year, if rumors are true, this isn't going to happen. Even so, you'll be in the public eye with the cancer moonshot, so at least we'll be hearing from you on occasion. But we will miss your down-home style (gaffes and all) and your constant reminders that the Democrats used to be the party of working-class blue-collar households.

Which is why this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week is outgoing Vice President Joe Biden.

[Congratulate Vice President Joe Biden on his official contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

While California Democrats bid a fond farewell to staunchly-progressive outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer, we will still have to put up with our DINO (Democrat In Name Only) Senator Dianne Feinstein. Think that's too strong? Check out today's editorial from the San Jose Mercury News, which explains how Feinstein is helping Republicans gut environmental protections (the issue is a complicated battle over water from the Northern California delta, endangered species, and Central Valley farmers who want to pump the water no matter the consequences):

[Senator Barbara] Boxer worked two years on a comprehensive, bipartisan water infrastructure bill authorizing a wide range of projects, including $120 million to fix the disastrous water system in Flint, Michigan, and $500 million for crucial California desalination, recycling and water storage projects.

It was expected to sail through Congress until [Senator Dianne] Feinstein joined forces with the Central Valley's powerful Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, to attach a rider that Boxer aptly describes as a poison pill.

The last-minute, 80-page document negotiated behind closed doors allows maximum pumping of water from the Delta to the Central Valley and eliminates important congressional oversight over building dams in California. It would dramatically roll back Endangered Species Act protections, perhaps paving the way for its repeal or wholesale gutting.

Feinstein argues her rider will stave off worse legislation from a Trump administration. Maybe. But as one of the Senate's most powerful Democrats, she would be well-positioned to filibuster those attempts -- if she wanted to.

Got that? We're going to weaken the E.P.A. so that Trump won't even have to. That's pathetic.

Feinstein, fresh off co-chairing the losing effort to kill marijuana legalization in California, decided to negotiate in secret to give Republicans a free pass to attack the E.P.A. and the Endangered Species Act. Still think "DINO" is hyperbole?

Dianne Feinstein is widely expected not to run for another term when her current stint ends in 2018. We join millions of California Democrats in saying this cannot come soon enough. Perhaps we'll get her retirement announcement in the next few months, in fact.

For now, though, we are awarding this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week to DiFi -- her 14th such award, placing her in sole possession of third place on our all-time list of shame.

[Contact Senator Dianne Feinstein on her Senate contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 418 (12/9/16)

This week we're going to begin what will doubtlessly be a recurring feature. There's a lesson to be learned from the whole Carrier/jobs story, and that lesson is that Trump is susceptible to manipulation due to what the news media is saying about his broken promises. This effort needs to be pushed by Democrats, who can bring up such stories and demand the media cover them. The mainstream media just loves confrontation, and they also love it when their stories "actually make a difference." So it shouldn't be too hard to get them to follow up in this effort, to do I would label "president-shaming."

If Trump wants to be seen as a "winner" (which he most definitely does), then feed into that by pointing out where he's falling short of his stated promises. This could spur him to ignore everything else on his desk and dig into the problem immediately, in the hopes of getting some media praise (which he so obviously lives to hear).

Boiled down, this means presenting issues through a "put up or shut up" filter. If Trump's serious, then let's see him do something! If he isn't, then he should just shut up about it. Use the Carrier deal to prod him -- "if he could save Carrier jobs, then why can't he..." is a good opening for any of these efforts.

President-shaming might be the most effective way to lobby Trump to get anything done. Strange but true -- but then we're already deep across the border to Strange But True Land with Trump's election, right? So here are my initial efforts in president-shaming, a process that we fully expect to become a regular portion of our talking points for the next four years.


   Buy American (part 1)

This is the easiest shot to take, this week.

"When Donald Trump was campaigning, he said the following: 'We will have two simple rules when it comes to this massive rebuilding effort: Buy American and hire American. Whether it is producing steel, building cars or curing disease, we want the next generation of innovation and production to happen right here in America and right here in Ohio, right?' That's pretty clear, isn't it? However, even though the Senate passed a water bill to fix the problems in Flint, Michigan with a strong requirement that they do so using American steel, the House Republicans bizarrely stripped this out of the draft they voted on. So, Mr. Trump, are you going to live up to your promises? Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans had a strong 'Buy American' requirement in the bill, but your own Republicans in the House decided that wasn't necessary. We're waiting to see whether Donald Trump puts up or shuts up on his promise to the American steel industry."


   Buy American (part 2)

An easy follow-up also suggests itself.

"Since we're on the subject, when are all those products with the Trump name on them going to start being made in America? How can any blue-collar worker believe Trump is going to save American manufacturing jobs when he refuses to manufacture his own products here -- even though there are plenty of factories who would be more than willing to do so? When will his own voters demand he put up or shut up on his own product lines being made in America? After all, if Donald Trump won't make his goods here in the U.S.A., why should any other industry do so?"


   Coal miners need some help, too

Once again, a rather obvious one to goad Trump with.

"Donald Trump campaigned as being the best friend coal miners have ever had. He won a lot of their votes by promising them he'd care for them when in office. OK, fine -- but now that Republicans want to play politics with their health care, where is Mr. Trump? Democrats are fighting hard to get another year of health care for coal miners who were promised such health care but are now on the brink of losing it. Republicans want to string them along with only a few months' guaranteed health care, but Democrats are fighting hard for another full year's benefits. Which party is standing with coal miners, and which party doesn't care about them at all? It's pretty easy to see. The big question is whether Donald Trump will reject the partisan games being played in Congress and stand with Democrats on the side of coal miners. After promising to stand strong with them, Trump faces a big test of whether he meant it or whether he was lying to them all along."


   Tell the truth!

Will Trump go down in history as being the Twitter President? Time will tell....

"Mr. Trump, you need to realize that when you lie people are now going to care about it a lot more than they did when you were campaigning. When you announced you had saved Carrier jobs from moving to Mexico, you blatantly misstated the numbers of jobs that had been saved. You claimed credit for over 300 jobs that were never in jeopardy of outsourcing. You also made it sound like all the Indiana jobs had been saved. Neither was true, but when a Union leader pointed this out, you personally attacked him on Twitter. He was only telling the truth, though -- that only (at best) about 800 jobs would be spared from outsourcing, while 550 people would still be permanently laid off because their jobs were still going to Mexico. While every job saved will mean a very thankful end of the year for that family, you need to tell the truth about the number of jobs saved and the number that weren't saved. And you need to stop attacking a guy who has been fighting to save those jobs for years, as well."


   Somebody take his Twitter account away, please

For the love of sanity, won't someone pry Trump's tiny hands away from his Twitter account?

"The New York Times has helpfully put together a list of the 289 people Trump has sent nasty tweets to (or about). Chuck Jones, the Union leader in Indiana, is merely the most recent to be added to this enormous (and growing!) list. However, once Trump is sworn into office, such thinned-skin and vindictive tweets could cause an international incident, or perhaps tank the stock market. One would like to hope that as president, Donald Trump would forego the pleasures of getting in twitter wars with each citizen who has the temerity to not publicly praise Trump. For the sake of our country's future, can't someone in the White House staff bar Trump from personally sending out a tweetstorm every time he feels put-upon? For his own good, someone needs to take away Donald Trump's Twitter access, or that list of Trump Twitter targets is soon going to number in the thousands."


   Put up or shut up on the DREAMers

Every time Trump backtracks (for the better), Democrats need to hold his feet to the fire, immediately.

"I heard Trump now thinks that maybe all those DREAMer kids shouldn't be summarily deported (as he indeed had promised to do during his campaign). There is bipartisan legislation now being proposed in the Senate that would protect these people for another few years, cosponsored by Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Lindsey Graham. But we have yet to hear whether Trump will support this effort. So, Mr. Trump, how about sending out a tweet in support of the Bridge Act? It's easy to tell some reporter you're rethinking your policy stance, but when legislation appears, you've got to show your support as well. Put up or shut up on helping the DREAMers out, Donald!"


   What if they gave a concert but nobody sang?

This one is just too, too funny.

"I hear that the Trump inauguration folks are getting rather desperate to hire someone -- anyone -- to perform at his swearing-in. It seems that just Ted Nugent and Kid Rock aren't going to be sufficiently impressive, so they've been making the rounds offering to, quote, 'pay anything' -- even millions of dollars -- to chart-topping musicians. So far, they haven't found a single performer willing to take them up on their generous offer. So I guess we'd all better start looking forward to a nice long version of 'Wango Tango' during Trump's inauguration, eh?"

-- Chris Weigant


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Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


88 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [418] -- President-Shaming Might Just Work”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Joe Biden has been on a farewell tour this week, not only being lionized on the Senate floor by Democrats and Republicans alike, but also appearing on Stephen Colbert's late-night show, where he displayed the basic humanity that has earned him such bipartisan respect. Earlier in the week, he joked to a reporter that he might just run for president in 2020, because "what the Hell, man."

    I'm gonna file this one under 'Quoting Out of Context', something that Senator Biden is certainly familiar with having been done to him with great frequency.

    Like me, you must have read the "What the Hell, man" quip from a report that failed to understand the meaning of what Biden actually said. Because, what he actually said has a completely different meaning from what the misplacement of this quote might suggest.

    Here's what really happened and you can see how it completely changes the meaning of the quote:

    Biden said that he might run in 2020 and the poor reporter asked, "for what?". Yeah, for what? For dogcatcher, you idiot reporter, what do you think he's thinking of running for!!!???

    So, immediately after the reporter asked what Biden thought he would run for in 2020, Biden replied - without missing a beat and with a decidedly certain sense of chagrin... for president, what the Hell, man In other words, what the hell did you think I would run for in 2020, dogcatcher? ... you poopy head, you!!!

    A rather different meaning than 'I'm gonna run for president, what the Hell, man ...

    You would think that I would be over this sort of thing by now but, considering all that this kind of treatment of Biden by the press for more than 40 years has cost the vice president, I'll probably never get over it.


  2. [2] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Lucky Paul Ryan. He can move to destroy Medicare and SSI while our useless media obsesses about Exxon and the orange Russian clown puppet now that it's too late and we're stuck with someone so corrupt. In Trump's defense, he was upfront about being corrupt.

  3. [3] 
    neilm wrote:

    I'll join the choir Don ;)

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Biden deserves the MIDOTW award not only for the sadness millions will feel seeing him leave office, but also for a very important legislative victory on his way out. Congress just passed a bill which funds Biden's "cancer moonshot" initiative to the tune of $1.8 billion -- almost twice what Biden said he was hoping for. Not only did they pass the bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell renamed the bill for Biden's son Beau, whose death was the inspiration for the whole effort.

    As I understand it, this was part of a larger bill called the 21st Century Cures Act, an uncommon act of political compromise that passed the Senate in a 94-5 vote, I believe.

    Of course, the usual suspects were among those who voted against this bill ... namely, Senators Warren and Sanders because, you know, they didn't get EVERYTHING THEY WANTED!

    They are part of the 'I want what I want when I want it' gang. Didn't the poster boy of this group just get elected to the Senate, again? What's his name ... Russ Feingold?

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Now, THIS, I gotta see!


  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Keep a careful eye on the threesome - Sanders, Warren and Feingold. I'm sure by the end of next year, they will have won the bulk of the MDDOTW awards and be well on their way toward planning for a presidential run. Whatever.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    We have to say, when Barack Obama stuffed his cabinet with Wall Street types, at least progressives were bright enough to realize they had just been sold out in a major way ...

    Just for the record, Treasury Secretary Geithner wasn't one of them, contrary to popular and progressive belief.

    One of these days, Obama will get the credit he deserves for nominating this guy and Geithner will get the credit he deserves for practically single-handedly pulling the US economy back from the deep, dark abyss and for saving Main Street.

    Of course, I won't be holding my breath ...

  8. [8] 
    neilm wrote:


    I'm there with you. I was working on Wall St, and the City of London at the time and the smart guys knew they had a tough but solid Treasury Secretary. TARP was bitched about up and down, of course, and especially with the AIG bonus scandal - but that was not really Geithner's fault - he inherited a mess and did the best he could to correct it.

  9. [9] 
    neilm wrote:


    Now, THIS, I gotta see!

    Your problem won't be seeing it, your problem will be hearing it. Every so often one of my favorite sing-along songs will come on and I'll forget the total ban my family have on me singing with anybody in earshot.

    They have all convinced me that I've not hit a correct note in at least two decades. They treat me admirably all the rest of the time, so I take their word on this.

    However, for an occasion like this, I think my talent will parallel the gravity of the occasion.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I was beginning to think I was the only one around here who thinks Obama's second best decision, behind his pick for VP, was Geithner.

    I watched a lot of his testimony before congressional committees and learned so much from him when I was trying to understand all the elements of the financial crisis.

    Can you imagine what more he might have accomplished and how much faster and robust the recovery might have been but for the unprecedented obstruction from the congressional Republicans? It gives me a headache whenever I think of it ...

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Your problem won't be seeing it, your problem will be hearing it.

    Oh, I was planning on wearing construction-grade ear plugs.


  12. [12] 
    neilm wrote:

    In early 2009 if you had told anybody that by 2012 the stock market would be rocketing up, interest rates would be rock bottom, there would be no inflation, and the auto industry would lead a rapidly rebounding labor recovery, almost nobody would have believed you.

    By the time everybody realized what had been achieved complacency had returned and so the architects were seen in hindsight as doing the obvious things that led to the comfortable outcome.

    As humans we are really bad at forgetting then anxiety we felt about the future when we get back to our comfort zone.

    When we look at events in, say 1943, we know that the allies are going to win the war, so we don't understand the real fear that people had at the time who didn't know the outcome.

    This is why I recommend you set up as large lines of credit as you can in preparation for the next financial crisis (and there is always a new one, every 5-10 years), so you're already liquid when everybody is selling into cash to generate liquidity - the words "cash is king" should be music to your ears - that is the time to get out of cash and into depressed assets.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I'd love to get your thoughts on this ...

    During Geithner's testimony before Elizabeth Warren's TARP oversight committee, there was quite a lot of discussion back and forth between her and Geithner with Warren insisting on the idea that AIG should have gone through a special bankruptcy proceeding despite the clear and concise explanation by Geithner that this was not at all possible, given all of the extenuating circumstances.

    It was actually quite a hoot to watch - the expressions on Geithner's contorted face were absolutely priceless as he tried to school Warren on why bankruptcy of any kind was simply not in the cards for AIG.

  14. [14] 
    neilm wrote:

    Oh, I was planning on wearing construction-grade ear plugs.


    Wise lady.

  15. [15] 
    neilm wrote:

    I'd love to get your thoughts on this ...

    I'm afraid this is an area where I'm frightfully ignorant of the details. I remember the controversy, but my limited understanding comes from the McDonald paper:

    The best I can understand is that the rest of AIG's business was sound, and that it was better to put a band-aid on than let the patient die.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, at least we know enough to be grateful that the right guy was in the right place at the right time.

    Good night!

  17. [17] 
    neilm wrote:

    My favorite book about the 2008 crisis is "Bailout Nation" by Barry Ritholz.

    Apart from CW, Ritholz is the only blogger I read religously every day. I strongly recommend his site:

    Ritholz is a huge critic of any prognostication of just about any sort. A wise man that I could learn from, it would certainly give Michale a lot less ammunition to use against me if I did :)

  18. [18] 
    neilm wrote:

    Night Elizabeth.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Another great writer on the crisis was David Fiderer over at the Huffington Post.

  20. [20] 
    neilm wrote:

    The second is telerobotics. There are a couple of well-known ones. One is the surgeon operating at a 100-kilometer distance from the patient. But you can imagine that hotel rooms in London could be cleaned by people driving robots sitting in Kenya or Buenos Aires or wherever, for a tenth of the cost here. That’s coming, and it will be very disruptive.

    This is a new angle on robotics/drone technology I hadn't though of.

    Fascinating article:

  21. [21] 
    neilm wrote:


    We have to look for inspiration from northern European countries who have comprehensive retraining, help with housing, help with relocation. Typically they have the unions, governments, and companies working together to try and keep the social cohesion. It doesn’t always work, but at least they try and most people feel that the government is helping them.

    The article above explains far better than my words, why we need to look after the people and not the jobs when it comes to automation and globalization.


  22. [22] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM [1] -

    You've got to lighten up a bit -- Biden himself loves a good joke, right?

    I wasn't casting any sort of aspersions on Biden, I thought he handled the whole thing (initial interview, followup with Colbert) perfectly -- like Trump, Biden knows when tossing in a "what the Hell, man" is worthwhile. I respect that in him, and think all the better of him for it. I just thought Seth Myers' line was a hilarioius riff on it, that's all... (hence the pointed capitalization in the Myers quote...).

    I realize you're extra-sensitive to Biden slights, but sometimes the late-nite comics are laughing with him, not at him. This seemed to be the case, to me, this time.

    Biden can be a funny guy. That's a rare gift in a politician, one that I have always respected and supported in him (unlike the late-nite comics). But sometimes, you've just got to laugh, that's all.

    C'mon, I gave him the MIDOTW, didn't I?


    Don Harris [3] -

    Hey, I'd hold out for at least a couple hundred thousand... seems like they've got money to burn, after all...


    LizM [7] -

    Didn't Feingold actually lose his election? I'd check on that...

    [8] -

    I was more thinking of Larry Summers when I wrote that, just to clear things up...

    neilm [10] -

    There's this thing called "auto-tune". I'd look into it...


    [13] -

    Words to the wise, it sounds like...

    LizM [20] -

    Forgive me for the juvenile nature of this, but when I read that (and whenever I hear of the tennis star with the similar name), I flash back to Roseanne Rosannadanna reading a letter from "a mister Richard Feder from Fort Lee, New Jersey..."

    Hey, I warned you it was going to be juvenile...


    On that note, I think I'll sign off and go watch some Father Ted re-runs (to put me in the proper Christmas mood, of course...).


  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    Forgot to add: ", Biden went to Canada, so you've GOT to love that, right?"

    Heh. Sorry...



  24. [24] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Pledge Drive Note:

    It pains me to point this out, but after a fantastically record-breaking first weekend for our pledge drive, this week has been pretty flat -- only a few small donations all week long.

    So anyone who hasn't already experienced our 2016 pledge drive announcement, which is just chock-full of cute kitten pictures, I heartily encourage you to click on over to it in the hopes that you'll be so mesmerized by the (to coin a phrase) "basket of adorables" that you'll open your wallets and purses wide in order to keep running ad-free for all of next year.

    We have topped the halfway point in our pledge drive, but we've still got a significant ways to go before we reach this year's goal.

    So if you can see your way to digging deep and sending us a few odd bucks for the holidays, we would certainly apprecaite it!

    Let's regain the exciting momentum of the first weekend! Woo hoo! We can do it!


    We now return you to your regularly scheduled comments....


  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I see that first comment up there was about as clear as mud.


  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Feingold lost!?

    There is hope for the Republic, yet. :)

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Don't worry. I forgot to send mine in last year so I'll double up this time around.

    But, damn, can that Looney get any lower!? Geesh.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There is something very, very creepy about Larry Summers, by the way ...

  29. [29] 
    Mopshell wrote:

    It's kind of pathetic watching Democrats talking about 2018 as if they really believe they have a chance. My prediction for the US Senate is that 18 of the 23 Democratic seats will flip republican. That will give the republicans a super majority of 70 seats to 28 Democratic.

    I'm expecting republicans to win a super majority in the House as well. That will then give them the numbers they need to hold a constitutional convention to repeal all those pesky amendments they don't like and add a heap of nice new shiny ones.

  30. [30] 
    neilm wrote:

    It's kind of pathetic watching Democrats talking about 2018 as if they really believe they have a chance.

    One thing I (re)learned the hard way from November 8th is to not make predictions :)

    Maybe there are a few things that might give you some more hope for the Democrats:

    1. Most of the intelligence services are jumping up and down saying that the selective hacking of the DNC and Podesta have Russian fingerprints all over them. If Obama's investigation is seen as a genuine warning rather than a partisan effort (i.e. he is doing this after the election) some real public anger is likely to grow.

    2. The Republicans are in a state of happy disbelief at the moment:

    2.a This is likely to manifest itself via over reach (e.g. Ryan even just talking about trying to fix Medicare or SS) that will be deeply unpopular

    2.b They are acting in a coherent, "all in it together" fashion at the moment, but the seeds of division are there. As Michale repeatedly points out, Trump isn't a Republican's Republican, he might not even be a Republican's Independent. Lindsay Graham is already working with a bipartisan group to protect "dreamers". By 2018 the Republican Party could be at war with itself - the Commerce wing fighting the Trump wing and everybody fed up with the Tea Party wing still blocking everything.

    2.c Everybody reads Trump the way they want him to be. He says so many contradictory things that people hear what they want to hear. And he is not immune (I'm being Michale sensitive here) to "exaggerations". Last night at one of his "Victory" rallies he said in response to the "Lock Her Up" chant: “That plays great before the election. Now, we don’t care, right?” Wrong Donald, your supporters really care about appointing a special prosecutor to go after Hillary. Once Trump has to start making decisions he can't be "a man for everybody" and the unity will fragment.

    3. Repealing Obamacare without a competent, hashed out solution in place is going to be a train wreck. The insurance companies are going to look at a market with no mandate to include young healthy people, but all the things that are expensive (pre-existing conditions, coverage up to age 26, no lifetime limits, etc.). Without the guarantee that the market will expand to cover the young and healthy, plus the government subsidies of premiums for most of the participants, they will either drop out or dramatically raise their premiums. This is the ultimate "last company in loses everything" scenario - e.g. everybody with a pre-existing condition that would cost e.g. $50,000/year will be motivated to pay $12,000/year in premiums, but if you are healthy, you ain't paying $1,000/month no matter how great Paul Ryan tells you your HSA is going to be.

    4. This was an anti-establishment election. In two years time, since they have the house, the senate, the SCOTUS and the white house the Republicans will be the establishment - protestations to the contrary will be ridiculous. Also, the Democrats, unless they are completely out to lunch, and I don't rule that out, will be giving Warren, Bernie, etc. lots of play time to act as rabble rousers. Trump will be left trying to explain complex reasons for his actions, which I suspect will not play to his strengths against Elizabeth Warren shouting "You said you were going to Drain that Swamp, so Drain that Swamp Donald" back at him.

    The major factors in the Republican's favor are:

    1. Trump might turn out to be more competent that I give him credit for. However his decision to keep his day job doesn't bode well.

    2. In off year elections, the young and other democratic demographic groups don't vote in the numbers they do in Presidential years. However there is a LOT of anger on the left - Trump is a lightning rod that will coalesce the angry mob out to "make America for all Americans" or whatever slogan the left find.

  31. [31] 
    neilm wrote:

    Missed a close italics after "really" - sorry.

  32. [32] 
    neilm wrote:

    Alright, I know I'm probably the only TPP supporter here, and the next link is sensational, but in the spirit of "protect the people, not the jobs"* here is some food for thought:

    * I don't believe in trying to protect jobs that automation (the major reason) or globalization make uneconomic, I believe in helping the people transition to a new economic reality and think we have a lot to learn from the Nordic countries about how to do this for the people that lose out through no fault for their own.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Alright, I know I'm probably the only TPP supporter here ...

    Of course, you know that would be wrong. :)

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I will definitely check out that link, later today.

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Yes, you have mentioned all of that before.

    We'll see ...

  36. [36] 
    neilm wrote:

    I urge anybody that thinks that the TPP is just another job destroying global capitalist conspiracy to at least take 10 minutes and read the analysis from the retail industry. The Food Safety section alone should warrant a second look:

  37. [37] 
    neilm wrote:

    "Lock Her Up" isn't the only thing Trump is likely to walk back. The whole China chest thumping is likely to be tempered by reality, just as it has been time and again when incoming Presidents have vilified China on the campaign trail only to discover that bumper stickers and sound policy ofter are diametrical opposites:

  38. [38] 
    neilm wrote:

    My thoughts on why Paul Ryan's suggestion to means test Social Security is a bad idea.

    Currently Social Security is a safety net that 95% of people either rely on as a primary support mechanism for their retirement, or for the wealthier, as an essential component of their planning. Even for richer Americans, the 20,000-70,000/year that they are entitled to is important, particularly as it is guaranteed and indexed linked. There is a lot of uncertainty in 401(k) based income streams, so another advantage is the certainty of an income floor.

    If we means test Social Security and eliminate the top 10-20% richest Americans, they are going to see it as:

    1. Something for other people (who will be identified as "the takers") ...
    2. that they have to pay for and get nothing in return.

    The richest 10-20% of Americans are disproportionately politically powerful, from their engagement with their politicians, to the donations they give individuals and parties, and being in the right golf clubs, at the right events, etc.

    If the most powerful see Social Security as a drain rather than a benefit, they will agitate to lower the cost, eliminate COLA increases, etc.

    It is better for everybody that all Americans (with the exception of the Trumps, or Paris Hilton, to whom the amounts are a trifle) see some personal benefit from Social Security.

    Everything above also applies to Medicare.

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Earlier in the week, he joked to a reporter that he might just run for president in 2020, because "what the Hell, man."

    That's not at all how it went down.

    And, my sense of humour is in pretty good shape, despite everything. :)

  40. [40] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Just wanted you to know, Neil, that I just spent the afternoon following links stemming from the one you posted in [18]. Thanks for a good afternoon.

  41. [41] 
    neilm wrote:

    :) Glad you liked it B.

  42. [42] 
    Mopshell wrote:


    neilm -

    Your points 1 and 4 contradict each other. If it's 4 then 1 is just CT. If it's 1, then 4 isn't true. You obviously believe 4 in which case you believe the election was fair so 1 really means nothing at all.

    Points 2-3 are wishful thinking. In reality, republicans need only blame everything on Obama and hey presto, they're heroes.

  43. [43] 
    neilm wrote:



  44. [44] 
    neilm wrote:

    Points 2-3 are wishful thinking. In reality, republicans need only blame everything on Obama and hey presto, they're heroes.

    I'm not sure that blaming Obama will work. I know that the Democrats spent way too long blaming Bush 2 for everything, however Bush 2 left two unpopular wars, a crashed economy and his popularity level was in the toilet.

    Obama is leaving with high popularity numbers, a booming economy and no military involvement to pass off. There will be protestations that Obama should have been more robust about Syria and ISIS containment, but that is a more difficult thing to point to.

    So, with the exception of the Obamacare unwind, which I think Obama should use his last words to warn about, so Senate Democrats and say "we told you so" in June of next year, I'm struggling to see how blaming Obama for the points in #2 or #3 will work.

  45. [45] 
    neilm wrote:

    The American Dream is Dying - Kids are not earning more than their parents and Inequality if the major cause (I know I sound like a broken record, but we need to pay more attention to the Gini coefficient):

    Chetty and his colleagues estimate that inequality is more than twice as important as slowing growth, accounting for more than 70 percent of the decline in mobility.

    Their research comes out the same week as a separate study by French economist Thomas Piketty and others that found that the bottom half of American adults by income today earn no more in pre-tax income than the bottom half of American adults did in the 1970s.

  46. [46] 
    neilm wrote:

    The American Dream is Dying - Kids are not earning more than their parents and Inequality if the major cause (I know I sound like a broken record, but we need to pay more attention to the Gini coefficient):

    Chetty and his colleagues estimate that inequality is more than twice as important as slowing growth, accounting for more than 70 percent of the decline in mobility.

    Their research comes out the same week as a separate study by French economist Thomas Piketty and others that found that the bottom half of American adults by income today earn no more in pre-tax income than the bottom half of American adults did in the 1970s.

  47. [47] 
    neilm wrote:
  48. [48] 
    neilm wrote:

    Sorry for the bare link above - my comment on it kept getting caught in the nanny filter.

    Anyway, I think we need to focus on the Gini coefficient and raise awareness about the level of inequality in our society.

  49. [49] 
    neilm wrote:

    Trump has just picked a fight with the entire intelligence community by dismissing the "Russia interfered" claims (note: the FBI are on Trump's side on this one). One of my friends used to work at the NSA as a mathematician and he told me of the inter-agency rivalry and how the only things that they hate more than each other are:

    1. The FBI who they regard as "plodding coppers" (my friend watches way too much British TV, even though he is a yank, and likes to "talk Brit" with me - CW, I bet you do the same to your lovely other half, except "talk Paddy" might be more politically correct, or maybe not? "Talk Bog-Jumper"? "Talk Mucker"? Am I in a hole and still digging here?)

    2. To be reminded of their 2003 "Weapons of mass destruction" failure

    Frankly, on point #2 I think Trump is right to remind them that they aren't as smart as they think they are, but if you are reading this NSA/CIA/etc. I was only joking :)

    Since he also dismisses most of their intelligence briefings, he is probably really getting up their noses.

    This might not be a good idea - they do have a lot of ability to look under rocks he might not want them to.

  50. [50] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Boring, biased, failing SNL was right on the money last night. They had Walter White as the Orange One's pick to lead the DEA. Sad!

  51. [51] 
    altohone wrote:


    An honest presentation of why Sanders and Warren opposed the bill would make you look better...

    ... of course defending the provisions they opposed would not.


  52. [52] 
    altohone wrote:


    It's not belief, it's fact.

    I'm not sure if it's attempted revisionism or self-delusion.
    The crooks walked.
    Timmy helped them do it.


  53. [53] 
    altohone wrote:


    I'll try to get to the article.
    Does it mention robots to fix the robots that break?

    Have you ever changed the sheets on a bed?


  54. [54] 
    altohone wrote:


    Until your wisdom on taking care of the people is adopted, the equation is unbalanced.

    The math can't count what should be, but isn't.


  55. [55] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:



    Timmy? Really?

  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  57. [57] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Let me know when you get into the Christmas spirit ...

  58. [58] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Neil 37-

    That link was disappointing at best...I was hoping for something a little more thoughtful, unfortunately, like most other documents out there, written by corporate intrest groups, supporting the TPP it does little to address the very glaring issues of the ISDS as it stands in the TPP.

    While I am not against "trade" I am however against trade deals that allow for corporations to enter into a dispute process that allows them to bring whatever they want to the table while preventing the government from bringing what is needed for proper defense to the table.

    I am also against a corporation being allowed to bring dispute over laws designed to protect the health of it's citizens or prevent harm. Thus allowing the corporation to dictate the laws and power of the state. Something that the ISDS in the TPP permits.

    While corporations and other parties should be afforded some protections from expropriative laws and discrimination by the state that would infringe upon covered trade it most certainly should be a two way street that protect the states ability to look out for it's citizens and prevents third parties from funding the litigation to make a profit.

    If there were to be a equitable ISDS in TPP, I would perhaps think about having a favorable view of the agreement as there are many good things and like all trade agreements some bad.... however the ISDS is a bridge to far for me.

  59. [59] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Could you explain in a little more detail how the ISDS in this trade deal is supposed to work?

  60. [60] 
    altohone wrote:


    Here's a little something about Hanukah from an article that followed a story Neil linked to above...

    "The Hebrew word for charity, tzedakah, illuminates this perspective on giving. It means righteousness, fairness or justice. Giving is simply the right thing to do, and the recipient of a charitable gift does a favor to the giver by providing the opportunity to fulfill the duty to tithe. In the words of the famous ancient Rabbi Maimonides, “Nobody is ever impoverished through the giving of charity.”"

    In the spirit of the holidays and tzedakah... righteousness, fairness and justice... perhaps you should consider sparing a thought for the millions of victims who were denied justice by Timmy and Obama at the behest of their Wall Street buddies.

    A little tzedakah is what this world needs, and I pity you if you think it is wrong to believe otherwise... or if you think those preventing it deserve praise and admiration.

    Such a spirit is alien to me, and I will never "get into it".


  61. [61] 
    altohone wrote:

    goode trickle

    I fully agree about the ISDS.
    Very well said.

    The unenforceable labor and environmental provisions that encourage the race to the bottom... also part of the TPP like all the past trade deals... are at least a close second as far as flaws that justify opposition go.

    Free traders tout the way our trade has lifted so many out of poverty overseas, but sure aren't writing the deals to help them more or harm our workers less... which enforceable and actually enforced provisions would.


  62. [62] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I wish you a Mele Kalikimaka, Hou'oli Makahiki Ho'u!

    And, now, we are officially done here.

  63. [63] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Where's Michale?

  64. [64] 
    neilm wrote:

    57, 60

    The ISDS system is a balance between protecting long term investments an organization makes in an economy against potentially catastrophic local laws, such as nationalization, populist protectionism, etc.

    It can be abused (e.g. Philip Morris vs. Australia being held in Hong Kong), but these abuses are not always successful (e.g. Philip Morris vs. Australia).

    This is a calculated risk by countries that sign up to these free trade agreements, and I agree that it is suspicious that the U.S. has never lost one of these cases itself, and that it is heavily weighted in favor of Western companies over developing companies.

    However the goal is to deliver a neutral decision based on international law, and it does a company no good to start a ISDS case for the most part (I know there are rapacious lawyers, but we know how to solve that e.g. the medical PI restrictions in CA have decimated the PI legal ranks).

    The political risks in entering an emerging economy are well known. A smart investor might put 10-20% of his or her long term portfolio in emerging markets, but most professionals would caution too high an investment. One of the reasons is the dodgy state of the government in these countries. Without ISDS many long term investments by private capital would either cost a lot more to cover the higher risk or not happen at all.

    Short term populism can whip up irrational but feel-good laws that can significantly harm organizations, look at Trump's threats to impose targeted tariffs on individual companies who move jobs to Mexico. There is a poster child argument in favor of ISDS in and of itself.

    Again, the solution is to look to improve the mechanisms that support free trade agreements, not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  65. [65] 
    neilm wrote:

    Have you ever changed the sheets on a bed?

    I get it, and the potential to replace humans for such tasks might be more difficult. But the point is that a lot of the low level service jobs we have thought of as location bound may not be as safe as we (I at any rate) previously thought.

    A human controlled robot (or drone) that can vacuum, pick up towels, wash floors and toilets, etc. might not be able to perform 100% of the room cleaning tasks, but could remove 30-70% of the work that required an on-site housekeeper leaving the fiddly tasks such as bed making to a human. Robots should also be able to deliver room service, and transport luggage to people's rooms (I'm sure they could even be programmed to loiter around and point out where the bed is, how to open the closet doors and which is the bedroom and which is the bathroom until paid to go away).

  66. [66] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Are there any examples where an ISDS provision in a FTA has ever been successfully used against the US or against any America company?

  67. [67] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Again, the solution is to look to improve the mechanisms that support free trade agreements, not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Certainly some sort of mechanism to protect trade is required to prevent abuse by the state of private capitol investment...BUT, the current proposed TPP ISDS does nothing to curb hedge funds that are purposely purchasing bad debit and then holding out for the maximum payout or, propping up a bankrupt company for the sole purpose of seeking a payout and then letting the company die while they get a huge profit and putting the taxpayer on the hook for the dead company.

    This version of the ISDS opens up brave new litigatory frontiers that go beyond the basic discriminatory and exproriative law defense (as it is limited to in NAFTA) and allows for companies to bring claim without risk if they loose, so no matter what it costs the people.

    I find it more than a bit dodgy that there is no curb on the types of claims that can be brought and also a bit in favor of corporations that there is no test for harm to the claimant that is required before a claim can be brought.

    I also find that it works in favor of corporations to prevent the government from being allowed to use Amicus Curiae to assist in defending the state against claims that run counter to public interest. (Philip Morris v. Austrailia)

    Given the sterling character of our government officials and the overwhelming benevolence of hedge funds and corporations you will have to bear with me if I am a bit of a skeptic about fixing after the fact.

    Should we not be supporting a trade deal that has those problems fixed/addressed before we enact?

  68. [68] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    It seems you may not be open to answering questions, especially stupid questions from me but, here goes again ...

    Do you know if the majority of the Australian people support the TPP?

  69. [69] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Should we not be supporting a trade deal that has those problems fixed/addressed before we enact?

    I think if those problems could have been addressed to your liking, they would have been.

    Why not enact the thing and see how it goes? I mean, it's not like changes can't be made later and the US can always pull out of it, right?

    You have not convinced me that the potential problems of the TPP outweigh the benefits to the US and to the other partners.

  70. [70] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In fact, GT, you don't even acknowledge the benefits of the TPP - to the US and to its partners in this trade deal.

  71. [71] 
    altohone wrote:


    Nice non-answer.
    Bold and brave.


  72. [72] 
    neilm wrote:

    Are there any examples where an ISDS provision in a FTA has ever been successfully used against the US or against any America company?

    I'm pretty certain the U.S. government has never lost an ISDS case, but I don't know about American companies.

  73. [73] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Neil, do you know of any cases where American workers have been hurt by an ISDS ruling?

    The point I'm trying to make is that too much emphasis is being put on the POTENTIAL for harm because of the ISDS by those who would probably not support the TPP, under any scenario. At least, that's what it sounds like to me.

  74. [74] 
    altohone wrote:


    Your assumption is that the corrupt crony capitalists who wrote the TPP had an interest in writing a good deal.

    History tells us otherwise.

    Present evidence that they tried and failed or your argument falls flat.

    We also know the benefits go to the few, and the hardships aren't being mitigated.

    There is also the little fact that the bad provisions in previous deals have not been amended or improved, so the "let's do it and see what happens, we can fix it later" approach amounts to empty promises.
    Such an approach requires trust and integrity, and the Free traders have lost our trust and demonstrated a lack of integrity.

    So, the answer to your question is "No".


  75. [75] 
    altohone wrote:


    It's not a balance.

    ISDS is a new system outside of the existing legal system that can't be appealed, and can be easily abused.

    Existing uses of it up to this point do not preclude it from becoming a damaging, and expensive tool for the corrupt crony capitalists to use to maintain their power at our expense.

    Look at the exclusion of cigarette manufacturers from the ISDS provision and you have to ask if there aren't numerous other industries that could one day in the not too distant future also be worthy of exclusion.
    There are, and we should be wary of ending up footing the bill for their losses caused by a comparable emerging enlightenment of the people.
    It could be beef, fossil fuels, chemicals... or something that people currently view as innocuous but that we may learn is harmful.

    Don't you think it's a little fishy that only cigarettes get singled out?


  76. [76] 
    altohone wrote:


    Nice anticipation of where my follow-up questions were headed.

    I believe the future you envisage is possible and probable, but may be more distant than some imagine.

    When the first tele-presence robot that can ONLY clean toilets as well as a human, cost effectively, without damaging the floors and carpets and personal belongings that may be scattered about and without requiring an on site engineer for maintenance and repairs is actually in use, we should revisit the discussion.

    Not sure if you're familiar with Jane's Addiction, but they have a great song about yearning for machines that can eliminate our need to work.
    Don't take my doubts as opposition to the concept... I'm just expressing doubts about our current ability to advance the technology as quickly as some currently predict.

    It's the same but for different reasons with self-driving cars... until the lawsuits from the first fatalities they cause are settled in court, we won't actually know the true costs of the tech, and if they actually offset the costs of human drivers.

    There's a company in the US that makes a machine that makes and prepares hamburgers to order for fast food restaurants... supposedly eliminating three jobs at a cost of $60,000.
    But the labor costs of loading it, cleaning it and maintaining it aren't mentioned in the sales pitch, nor the costs and odds of down time... and it doesn't make fries or shakes or clean the floors... and if somebody gets food poisoning there are other potential costs.

    I just want all the details and possibilities discussed realistically.


  77. [77] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Do you know if the majority of the Australian people support the TPP?

    Not many have heard of the TPP...

    For those that have it is a mixed bag that much like here there are people who dislike the TPP on the face of it just because it is a trade deal. There are others more in liking with me that do not support the deal due to the ISDS that goes beyond the ability of the mechanism to resolve disputes for discriminatory and or expropriative damages (which means damage has happened, and is a solution that should be there) and ventures into the relm of future/precieved damages.

  78. [78] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Absent a bad ISDS, do you think the TPP is a good idea? What are some of the benefits?

    And, I ask that question in the sense of how it will benefit America's partners and not from an American or even a North American perspective ...

  79. [79] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    In fact, GT, you don't even acknowledge the benefits of the TPP - to the US and to its partners in this trade deal.

    As I said previously, I am not anti-trade and as with all trade deals there is plenty to like and some to dislike in the actual trade portion of the TPP.

    Unfortunately there are alot of special interest clauses in the ISDS that make the deal on the whole for me unsupportable.

    One such example would be a carve out for pharma that would allow them to sue countries ( mostly developing or least developed ones) that currently use compulsory government-use licences to gain access to patents to enable the manufacture of generic versions of a drug for distribution to the populace.

    On the one hand pharma argues that the high drug prices in the US are required to offset these use licenses and the cost of developing the drug and on the other they are now empowered to sue these countries for perceived future loses from the use of a patent for genric drugs (which they do receive compensation for). Which is it?

    At what point does the greater good trump profit? Where should society as a whole draw the line in support of corporate profits over the health and well being of developing and least developed countries where the use of these licenses has improved quality of life and averted the potential for epidemics and pandemics?

    So again I ask, should we not be changing our approach to these agreements of passing and fixing after the fact (which really has not happened). Instead should we not be taking our time and getting it right the first time?

  80. [80] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, this agreement has taken a lot of time and effort. And, you are never going to get an agreement that perfect or anywhere near perfect.

    It is good enough that the TPP is a good step in the right direction.

    I think the problem here in discussing the TPP is one of perspective.

    The TPP is not merely a trade deal. It is so much more than that in terms of, to coin a term, geopolitical economics. It is about improving the economic standing of America's allies in the Asia-Pacific region as a prerequisite to an effective geopolitical strategy toward a more sustainable, prosperous and peaceful world.

    My fear of US failure to ratify this agreement is one of geopolitical strategy and seeing the US give up leadership and its strategic position to China.

  81. [81] 
    neilm wrote:

    My fear of US failure to ratify this agreement is one of geopolitical strategy and seeing the US give up leadership and its strategic position to China.

    Hear hear. If we are really concerned about Chinese hegemony, which I'm not, the TPP is our best tool for the next couple of decades.

    Not ratifying the TPP was China's big win from the 2016 election.

  82. [82] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If you're not concerned about Chinese hegemony - and, I'm not, either - the TPP can be a very good tool for promoting and facilitating progressive change in our world ... and beyond!

  83. [83] 
    altohone wrote:


    "It is good enough that the TPP is a good step in the right direction."

    Not even close.
    Funny that you ask questions, but don't even acknowledge the answers.

    And you weren't coining a phrase.

    "an effective geopolitical strategy toward a more sustainable, prosperous and peaceful world"
    "a very good tool for promoting and facilitating progressive change in our world"

    There's nothing like trying to sell crony capitalism with catch phrases.
    The reality is that progressives in the US do not believe that dreck and do not support the TPP.


  84. [84] 
    altohone wrote:

    neil and Liz

    Trotting out the Chinese (non)boogeyman to try to help sell a dead trade deal when China was publicly leaning towards joining the TPP seems very odd to me.

    Why even mention China if you're not concerned?
    Why ignore their statements that break that reasoning asunder?


  85. [85] 
    neilm wrote:

    A 83 - I was not aware they were interested in being part of the TPP. There you go.

  86. [86] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    China may be interested in joining the TPP but, for now, it cannot meet the standards for membership.

    And, that is precisely the point of why the TPP is so important, geopolitically speaking.

    I should think that anyone who believes in free and fair trade and opening up global markets would want the rules of the road to be set by the US and like-minded countries, not by China.

    The TPP forces China to continue with its own political and economic reforms to meet the high standard of the TPP and join the party only when and if it does so.

  87. [87] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In fact, China is currently leading the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) process, a trade agreement that includes ASEAN plus six other regional states: China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India.

    The standards here are different but, in time and with US leadership, this agreement could be complimentary to the TPP and together could form a simplified but wide-ranging free trade zone across the entire Indo-Asia Pacific region.

  88. [88] 
    altohone wrote:


    "Standards for membership"?

    "would want the rules of the road to be set by the US and like-minded countries, not by China."

    China has fully adopted the US version of crony capitalism in all respects except one... China occasionally prosecutes their criminals to keep them in check.

    In any case, once again you are presenting China as a boogeyman despite the reality that our criminal class of Free traders has been willingly collaborating with them for decades.

    The whole notion that Americans should be swayed to support the TPP because "the Chinese are coming!!!" (when the real problems are much closer to home) is simply a fear based tactic of manipulation. A tactic beneath the educated and informed. A tactic devoid of ethics and integrity and divorced from reality.


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