2:00PM Water Cooler 9/10/14


Obama and Biden share a meal: “D’Anjou pear salad and Chilean sea bass” [Moon of Alabama]. What, no blood pudding? Anyhow, “I Want Candy”. “Fight ISIS together with whom?” [Moon of Alabama]. Kerry says we’ll have a “broad coalition” [CNN]. Haven’t we tried that? Kerry says we’re going to train Iraqi security forces [New York Times]. Haven’t we tried that? (We so dodged a bullet in 2004.) Reid: Equip and train Syrian rebels [Roll Call]. Haven’t we tried that? But propaganda works, Americans feel “far less safe” [McClatchy]. And it’s the only thing that does, apparently. I’ll be walking round town looking for “sleeper cells” tonight, and then checking under the bed [The Intercept]. No doubt the FBI is organizing one or several. Or perhaps they’ve privatized that function. Ka-ching [The Intercept].


“The truth is a powerful weapon. We know how we overwhelmed the Atreides. Hawat knows, too. We did it with wealth.” –Baron Harkonnen, Frank Herbert’s Dune.

ny_primary Cuomo spent 40 times as much for each vote as Teachout [WaPo]. A pro-Teachout pre-election pull put her at 26% [MSNBC]. She got 34.3% [New York Times]. Impressive.

Even more impressive is the county map: Green for Teachout/Wu, blue for Cuomo. That should give county chairs more degrees of freedom, even if Cuomo’s on the phone this morning blustering and threatening. And Cuomo doesn’t seem to have been especially ethical in his choices for putative endorsements in his marketing collateral [New Yorker].

“Damn good show,” as Teachout says [Capital New York]. Late start + no name recognition + very little money + establishment corruption + leftish policies = 34% of the vote against an extremely powerful sitting Governor [Daily News].

If only Brooklyn and Manhattan had listened [WSJ]. Oh, and Working Families Party dumping Teachout was “a gift to us all” [Ithaca Journal].

UPDATE NC interviews with Teachout and Wu (NC blushing modestly here).


Personally, I regard the outcome in Ferguson as one small victory for strategic non-violence, however achieved [Truthout]. And when I say “however,” I do mean “however” [Black Agenda Report]. The Ferguson City Council meets for the first time since the cops whacked Michael Brown and then left his body in the street in the summer sun for four hours; more eyewitnesses have come forward [St. Louis Post Dispatch]. The Council has hired a PR firm and is proposing reforms [Reuters], including a police review board [FOX]. Attendance was good [Boston Herald]. So take the reforms, ask “What have you done for me lately?” and demand more. Immediately. Meanwhile, the Senate is reviewing the militarization of the police [New York Times]. Finally, “Local police dept. receives surplus aircraft carrier from Pentagon” [Chattanooga Bystander]. And From the Department of Propositions That Prove Themselves, see the story here, then the comments [The Blaze].


The Dutch Safety Board’s preliminary report [pdf]. A good explainer [Guardian]. The nut: “High energy objects” [WSJ]. The cockpit suffered some of the worst damage [Telegraph]. Investigators did not visit the area because of fighting, but used photographs of the wreckage [BBC]. The scene was picked apart; the truth will probably remain “elusive” [Time]. Except to the intelligence agencies of all the powers, who had the airspace wired to the gills.

New of the Wired 

  • First on list of “winners” from Apple rollout: “Winners: American Express, Visa, and Mastercard and a bevy of financial partners” [ZDNet]. As I said.
  • George R.R. Martin continues to publish the wrong book [CNet]. WTF?!??!??!?!
  • Strawhenge and woodhenge [RT]. Here’s a handy map of all the new discoveries [Independent].
  • Cameron to Scots: “Don’t break my heart” [Reuters]. Assuming facts not in evidence.
  • Bank of America introduces new “underdraft fee” [The Onion].

If your Internet is even slower and flakier than usual, despite its high cost, here’s why [ABC].

* * *

Readers, feel free to send me (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) images of plants; I now have some of yours to choose from, and I’ll start running them. Vegetables are fine! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Don’t mail Yves! And here’s a plant (a sycamore from Paris, via Kurt Sperry):


And more plants, please! Bigger images (say, 1200px or thereabouts) preferred. Thank you!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Anon

    I don’t mind the release of the new GRRM book, to be honest with you. Any more perspective on those lands and regions we won’t get to in the remaining two books works for me. Besides, there’s always re-reading the books and picking up on what you didn’t catch the first time and/or reading the Dunk and Egg graphic novels/comic books to pass the time. Just need to take the plunge and pre-order it.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I’ve resigned myself to the likelihood that the TV series will be finished before the books are, so I’ll have to watch it if I want to find out what happens. It’s a pity as while I enjoy the TV series, I definitely prefer the books (for one thing it’s much easier to find time for them).

  2. EmilianoZ

    Was the D’Anjou pear organic? Did they both have the D’Anjou pear salad and Chilean sea bass or did one have the D’Anjou pear and the other the Chilean sea bass? What kind of reporting is that?

  3. Jim Haygood

    ‘Meanwhile, the Senate is reviewing the militarization of the police.’

    Why, has it fallen behind schedule? /sarc

  4. Larry

    Apple sure is going to need that tax holiday to repatriate some of their billions after this overhyped watch falls flat.

    1. cwaltz

      Wait! I thought they were in Texas. I mean we were fighting them over there so we didn’t have to fight them over here. So how can they be in 3 places at once? ;)

    2. Eclair

      According to a friend, who works as an usher at the Denver Symphony Orchestra venue, the usher training now includes a multi-hour session at Denver’s Counterterrorism Learning Lab (The Cell). http://www.thecell.org

      They’re no longer looking for people who sneak in without a ticket, but for potential bombers, wearing winter parkas in September. I asked her if management was going to replace the ushers’ snazzy vests with kevlar bullet-proof ones.

  5. jsn

    I’ve got a passle of plant pics, but I can’t figure out how to use the interface at Corrente to get them to you. I’m old and technolgically incompetent, any suggestions?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Check your mailbox. Also, readers, if when one of your plants gets picked, you’d throw a link to NC from your twitter account, or your [dread word] Facebook account, or your blog, that would help us build traffic, especially among people who haven’t necessarily read NC (and when they do, they stick around).

    2. optimader

      A simple approach would be to set up a flckr (or equal) account, upload the pic file(s) to an album and email a link for the target flikr album.
      Stay away from Facebook, it will steal your soul.

          1. optimader

            here’s a link for jsn and others..
            might help if I thumb typed the name spelling correctly.
            One can load up ~1TB of pic albums for free. I’ll dump files temporarily when I run out of camera memory space.

        1. optimader

          And yes, I think it could be a honey trap to build clicks. Could only be helpful to improve the NC site value.

  6. optimader

    3. ‘High-energy objects’ brought the flight down
    “.. The DSB investigators have not been able to recover or study any of the objects that penetrated the plane…”

    Its all out there and the metallurgy/elemental analysis can tell a story. Don’t need much, possibly as little as ppm levels of foreign material smeared into damaged aircraft skin/structure to characterize the source..

    1. Carolinian

      Obviously rumors of veto power given to the various guilty, er interested parties turns out to be real–hence the nothingburger of a report. But hey, they ruled out pilot error.

      Not to worry though. Full Dutch report will be issued….next summer.

      1. optimader

        I think they did what they needed to do with this report.. Not really a forensic investigation, more like an inconrivertable statement of facts as are available to them. It will continue playing out.

  7. Banger

    I’ll just repeat my tired mantra on ISIS in particular and “terrorism” in general. It’s mainly theater by the usual intel creeps who operate in that region. ISIS would not exist if the USG had not created the situation and encouraged wackos and mercenaries to join this band of opportunists and criminals. Libya was the original source of much of the better weapons and then corrupt Iraqi officers ordered their soldiers to abandon advanced weapons to basically give these weapons to ISIS. The current crisis exists to get the US involved in regime change in Syria and spread chaos and fragmentation in the region.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What makes this different is the political class going all in for war, as opposed to letting it simmer away as a nice little sideline for whoever owns that portfolio. This is Iraq II-like in its intensity.

      1. grizziz

        Its stimulative. Export driven growth. High paying technical jobs. We don’t need no stinkin’ bridges!

    2. Synopticist

      If you don’t mind, I’ll repeat MY tired mantra.

      These intel-spook/neocon interventionists are actually f*ckin stupid, and though they could control the situation within certain parameters by using local proxies. However, jihadis make awful proxies, and the Gulf oil kingdoms are no longer the loyal patsies they once were. In fact, those arab princlings are now using OUR foreign policy elite as proxies, having corrupted them over several decades.

      1. cwaltz

        Nailed it! And that pretty much sums up half our foreign policy with the other half involving great big bags of money.

      2. Banger

        Stupid? Yes, they make mistakes and this bunch of jihadis may get out of control–but look at the result of intel operations over the decades! It’s been remarkably successful on balance if you understand that these guys do not pursue our interests or even a particular administration’s interests but their own corrupt interests.

    3. barrisj

      As is often said on NC, US policy follies are a feature, not a bug. Neocons pushed for “creative chaos” in the ME for years, and – by Jesus – they are getting it by the boatload…and, more to come, sez da O-man.

  8. TulsaTime

    MH17 – It really is criminal that the ‘truth’ has to be buried to protect the high level games that everyone is playing. All the agencies have tapes of all the frequencies, so there is no mystery about any of it at that level. Hell, they could tell us the names of everyone on the radio within a 300 mile radius of aircraft, and the names of everyone in the chain of command that authorized the trigger pull.

  9. JGordon

    Actually I’m studying commercial photography and I have a number of useful subtropical plants that I can take photos of. I’ll see what I can do. The problem with plant photos outside though is people have a tendency to blow out the pixels where ever they touch the sky like in the tree photo above… which is cringe-worthy as far as professional photography goes. Have to watch out for that.

      1. JGordon

        I tried to upload something but didn’t see how to attach it to the message. Sorry. I emailed it to you instead–plant/bee photo. I took it two days ago while crawling around in the grass looking for bugs. I do stuff like that.

  10. Skippy

    Neck and Neck it seems… 10% undecided thingy…

    “The campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, which has suffered days of blows, received a boost last night

    with an opinion poll reporting that it still leads by six points.

    The latest eagerly awaited figures came after prime minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg had travelled to Scotland to make individual pleas for a No vote. In Edinburgh, an emotional Mr Cameron said he would do all he could to help an independent Scotland thrive, even though it “would break my heart” to see it quit.

    Last night, the Glasgow-based Daily Record newspaper published a Survation poll, which showed the Yes side at 42 percentage points and No side at 48 points. Compared with an August 28th Survation poll, Yes is one point up and No is unchanged. The undecideds are at 10 percentage points, down one point after a frenetic fortnight’s campaigning.

    Excluding undecideds, Yes is placed by Survation on 47 percentage points, while No is 53 percentage points for a referendum that will be decided next Thursday.

    The latest numbers came on a day when Edinburgh-based insurer Standard Life announced that it could move operations south of the border if “there is a need to do so” after a Yes vote.

    Meanwhile, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said Scottish banks and deposits will continue to be protected by the Bank of England after next week’s vote.

    However, an independent Scotland will need tens of billions worth of reserves if it decides to use sterling without a currency deal with the rest of the UK.” – snip


    1. optimader

      “However, an independent Scotland will need tens of billions worth of reserves if it decides to use sterling ”
      Meh, time to move to The Scotch Standard

  11. Skippy

    Nice oratory of a common issue these days methinks…

    “The man who reformed Queensland’s political sphere says power in the state has been transferred to “a small, cynical, political class”.

    “In Queensland politico-speak,” Tony Fitzgerald said, “that’s ‘just the way the world works’.”

    Mr Fitzgerald said “mostly professional professionals” directed by the major parties had come to dominate the political arena – to the detriment of voters.

    The corruption fighter spoke at a public lecture, which was sponsored by Griffith University and the Queensland State Library, for only the third time since 2009 on Wednesday night.

    His damning remarks were also detailed in notes distributed to lecture attendees.

    “As matters stand, neither major party wants political standards to be a significant electoral issue and neither will willingly reform the flawed political process which they control and from which they each benefit,” he wrote.

    “Government would first have to reform itself, which is impossible in institutions and organisations in which powerful vested interests oppose change.”

    Mr Fitzgerald said political reform was a task for the community.

    “If Queenslanders want a free, fair, tolerant society, good governance and honest public administration, a sufficient number of voters must make it clear that they will decline to vote for any party which does not first satisfy them that it will exercise power only for the public benefit,” he wrote.

    “It’s difficult to perceive what legitimate reason a party seeking election in a democracy could have for declining to make commitments such as the following: the public to be fully and accurately informed promptly and not to be misled; all government decisions and actions to be taken for the common benefit without regard to personal, political or other considerations; all people to be treated equally with no person given special treatment or superior access or influence; and all public appointments to be made on merit.

    “Effective democracy needs principled politicians, an independent, impartial judiciary…”

    Mr Fitzgerald, who previously criticised the Beattie-Bligh administration over its accountability record, has been scathing of the Newman government’s first term in office and what he sees as its lack of accountability and ignorance of what led to Queensland’s corrupt past.

    In his remarks overnight, Mr Fitzgerald did not shy away from that criticism, accusing the government of holding a “populist” stance, while simultaneously working to un-do decades of anti-corruption reform.

    “Standard populist refrains build on envy and resentment to encourage ignorance and bigotry: educated people are ‘elites’ who live in ‘ivory towers’ and lack knowledge of the ‘real world’; evidence-based knowledge is inferior to intuitive ‘common sense’ gained in a ‘school of hard knocks’; experts know less than a ‘table of wisdom’ at the local pub; and judges, despite their oaths of office and obligations of impartiality and independence, should just do ‘what the people want’,” he said.

    “Behind that populist facade, the government sacked, stacked and otherwise reduced the effectiveness of parliamentary committees, subverted and weakened the state’s anti-corruption commission, made unprecedented attacks on the courts and the judiciary, appointed a totally unsuitable chief justice and reverted to selecting male judges almost exclusively, appointing 18 new male judges and magistrates…

    “Retired judges and lawyers, who were shocked into criticising the government, were disparaged for their effrontery.”

    Members of the judiciary, including President of the Court of Appeal Margaret McMurdo and Supreme Court Justice Philip McMurdo, joined Labor MPs and members of the community at the lecture, which also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the handing down of the Fitzgerald report.’ – snip

    Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/populist-newman-government-hiding-behind-facade-tony-fitzgerald-20140910-10f6r5.html#ixzz3CxpWVWcW

  12. barrisj

    Peter Lee, hard on the O-man’s heels after today’s GWB moment, writes in the Asia Times Online on the “opportunity” presented to the US/UK and the Nato lackeys to – AT LONG LAST! – bomb the buggery out of Assad and his govt. soldiers…ISIL just provides the AUMF cover to go ALL-EFFING -IN!

    US pivots at the gates of hell

    US pivots at the gates of hell
    By Peter Lee

    I believe that President Obama tipped his hand as to the basic US strategy for dealing with Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria when he stated that the US goal was to reduce IS to “a manageable problem”.

    Once the appalling implications of this apparent endorsement of a permanent presence for the transnational, decapitation-happy caliphate sank in, his Vice President Joe Biden was sent out for damage control with the hyperbolic message that the US would pursue IS “to the gates of hell”.
    For one thing, the US and UK have already stated that they will not work with Assad in planning their anti-IS air strikes in Syria because “we don’t like him” is sufficient justification for brushing aside Syrian sovereignty.

    As Ian Black approvingly tells us in that reliable chronicle of neoliberal folly, the Guardian:

    The pragmatic western case for working with the Syrian president is that the war is at a stalemate and his cooperation is vital in the face of the Isis menace. …
    Obama and Cameron are not buying this. Additional arguments deployed against engagement with Assad are that he cannot be trusted and that helping bolster his position would alienate Sunnis in Iraq and Syria whose support is needed to fight Isis. In the words of Nadim Shehadi, the Chatham House analyst, the Syrian leader has all the credibility of a convicted arsonist offering his services as a firefighter. [1]

    The West has apparently decided to put its chips on a reworking of the heretofore terminally inept and corrupt “moderate” anti-Assad alliance instead of working out a modus vivendi with the Syrian government.

    Cynically and, I’m afraid, accurately, the US position might be characterized as: Assad was beating the West and Gulf Cooperation Council in Syria, but the unnerving rise of IS has upset the chessboard. Now the US has an opportunity to go in, help set up the chessboard, rearrange the pieces in a more favorable configuration … and add a few pieces of its own.

    And I expect the prospect of sticking it to Assad was the deciding factor in White House deliberations as to the political advisability of dipping America’s toe into the Middle East inferno once again. Peace and stability in the Middle East might be beyond our reach in other words, but nailing Assad after four years of invective, sanctions, anti-diplomacy, and subversion: that’s a Win! for a beleaguered foreign policy team that has not much to show for its recent tenure.


    How many foreign policy cockups can occur consecutively before people finally understand that THAT’S THE IDEA!

    1. MikeNY

      How could it NOT be?

      Another “Coalition” founded on American Exceptionalism cannot but succeed! We have to destroy the Middle East in order to save it.

      Support the troops!

        1. pretzelattack

          i still have to vote for the codpiece speech by bush on the aircraft carrier, but this was a close 2d.

      1. Yonatan

        A long while ago we had the ‘Coalition of the Willing’. Then we had the ‘Coalition of the Unwilling’. Now we have the ‘Coalition of the Very Unwilling’. How long before we have the ‘Coalition of Don’t Look At Us, Buddy. You Created This Mess, You Sort It Out’?

    2. optimader

      At least he didn’t call them the ISIL folks (did he)? Wouldn’t American folk just be a lot safer if they weren’t there in the first place? Let the various flavors of Islamists sort their own sht.

  13. optimader

    •Cameron to Scots: “Don’t break my heart” [Reuters]. Assuming facts not in evidence.
    Fast forward to next Friday morning in the we hours, Camron graps Scotlands head w/ both hands and plants a big kiss. “Soctland, you broke my heart, youre dead to me”

  14. ChrisPacific

    From what I remember of the Bush era, “broad coalition” is code for “we couldn’t get UN agreement on this, but we’re doing it anyway.”

  15. Yonatan

    MH17 “Investigators did not visit the area because of fighting, but used photographs of the wreckage”

    On 29 August, the Dutch government released formal written answers to questions about MH17. They stated there was an urgent need to go back to the site …. crickets … The Malaysians are not very happy with the investigation and sent 70 investigators to the site on 2 September. They have no problem, but the Dutch … perhaps they don’t want to find evidence that contradicts the official pre-determined position that the separatists did it. The Dutch government declined to answer questions regarding the presence of data from AWACS and satellite data, other than acknowledging that the would not consider the Russian satellite data.

    On 5 September, formal written answers to a similar set of questions asked of the German government were released. These answers mention the existence of data from NATO AWACS aircraft claiming to identify the launch of an SA-3 SAM, not a Buk. There were 2 AWACS aircraft in the air at the time of the shoot-down, one over Poland and one over Romania.

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