2:00PM Water Cooler 10/31/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“At this late stage in the prostitution, cretinization, and putrefaction of the American political system, it’s hard to get worked up about anything” [New Yorker]. Thanks, Obots, New Yorker editors being prominent examples of same. Next, I imagine, the smart set will be calling for the fabled person on a white horse.

“Spooked Dems await their fate,” and shift money to seats they thought were safe [The Hill]. Base parties like it’s 2010 [The Hill].

Obama could make history by being the first President to put together two mid-term disasters back-to-back [Roll Call].

Nate Silver: R chances for Senate control (68.5%); D chances (31.5%) [FiveThirtyEight].

Former hedge Steyer’s environmental PAC seeks “climate voters,” but ISIS and now ebola fear-mongering threatens to overwhelm [Bloomberg].

In Illinois, Rhode Island, California, and Massachusetts candidates with ties to firms that manage state pension money now stand to gain authority over those pension systems [David Sirota, International Business Times]. And then of course there’s Christie. Anyhow, at least whoever’s going to doing the looting won’t be bored. So there’s that.

Obama visits Maine for gubernatorial race: “Mike [Michauds’s been fighting ever since for ordinary Mainers because that’s who he is” [Bangor Daily News]. Democrats are always “fighting,” presumably because the phrase focus groups well. But they’re never winning! And “ordinary Mainers.” There’s language to put fire in the belly, eh?

Kansas Senate: Private equity D mole Orman, leads silverback R Roberts, but within the margin of error [The Hill]. Kansas City Star endorses Orman, “a champion of effective leadership” [Kansas City Star], but KSU football coach Bill Snyder endorses Roberts.


Ready For Hillary PAC to meet November 21 [Politico]. Clinton has yet to master populist language, unlike Warren [Politico]. Words are wind…

First Presidential debates scheduled, as Reagan Library invites R candidates [Miami Herald]. 


“Progressive” icon DeBlasio puts the touch on grocer squillionaire John Catsimatidis to make good on Cuomo’s promise to the WFP retake the Senate; “Cats” writes a check on the spot [The Albany Project]. “I do a lot of business with the city.” Ka-ching!

Corrupt D goon Cuomo endorsed by Bill Clinton [WSJ]. At the Midtown headquarters of local 1199 of the SEIU, Healthcare Workers East.

Cuomo throws “WFP” under the bus as “fringe,” touts new catspaw, “WEP” [New York Observer]. As Zephyr Teachout has pointed out, 11 of the 17 candidates on the “Women’s Equality Party” are male [New York Observer]. Doesn’t Cuomo even care enough to fake the optics?

The Nation’s Executive Editor endorses Hawkins [The Nation]. The Nation cruise should be fun this year! But how will Katrina handle the stench?

Stats Watch

Employment cost index, Q3 2014: [J]umped 0.7 percent for the second straight quarter, the two largest increases of the recovery [sic], going back to 2008 [Bloomberg].

Personal income and outlays, September 2014: Income continues modest upward trend, but spending slips. “Analysts botched their forecast for spending for September-and for no apparent reason” (!) [Bloomberg].

Consumer sentiment, October 2014: Extends “recovery [sic] best performance, at highest level since 2007 [Bloomberg].

$77 trillion shadow banking sector increases 50% in Argentina, 30% in China. US global share down 4% [Bloomberg].

Hong Kong

Occupy Hong now appears in Google Maps satellite imagery [Nick Shearman].

Hong Kong’s business elite is almost entirely pro-Beijing, and a handy and very detailed chart of their property holdings in the Mainland shows why [Capital Profile].

Round-up of political solutions to the “current impasse,” since the protests themselves are no longer novel [Asian Review of Books].

Protesters might visit Beijing during APEC summit [Asian Correspondent].


Mike Brown family and Ferguson protesters hope to deliver report to Geneva [#fergusontogeneva] (“United States’ Compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”).

Brown family’s forensic pathologist wants to testify before Grand Jury [USA Today].

A new unit established to investigate St. Louis police shootings will submit its report on the Oct. 9 killing of VonDerrit D. Myers Jr. to prosecutors next week [St Louis Today].

America The Petrostate

Billionaire cracker fourth largest donor to New York Attorney General’s campaign [The Albany Project]. So I guess we know which way the hydrocarbons are blowing for New York Ds, eh?

Richard Berman’s PR pitch at secret Western Energy Alliance meeting so offensive that an oil executive leaks it [New York Times].


Ukraine, Russia, and EU (!) sign trilateral gas deal [Council on Foreign Relations]. “Funds from the EU and the International Monetary Fund will help Ukraine repay its debts.”

After elections, People’s Front and the Poroshenko Bloc must divide power. “Whereas the parties’ broad pro-European aims are aligned, their business interests and personal ambitions are not” [Economist].

Merkel tells Putin EU will not recognize parallel elections in Donetsk and Luhansk [Reuters].

Since Ukraine’s coal mines are in the midst of fighting, Ukraine imports coal from South Africa [AP].

Imperial Collapse Watch

Army Officer: “I’ve been in the Army twenty-six years, and I can tell you it’s a con” [Salon]. Will  Smedley Butler please pick up the white courtesy phone?

News of the Wired

  • Global squillionaire families open offices in US [Bloomberg].
  • Scots deciding they’d rather vote for SNP, not Labour fake Tories [Guardian].
  • Neo-liberal infestation draining billions from frontline care from UK’s NHS [New Statesman]. Because markets.
  • Our justice system is a system of plea-bargaining behind closed doors [New York Review of Books]. So much for jury trials.
  • Money doesn’t always buy happiness [Economist]. But it can sure take the sting out of being unhappy.
  • “Sex, drugs, and broomsticks” [Atlas Obscura]. Not entirely safe for work!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Mrs. Mop):


Again, I’m running just a bit short. Fall foliage would be nice! Or the haul from your gardens!

Talk amongst yourselves!

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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. dcblogger

    Obama could make history by being the first President to put together two mid-term disasters back-to-back

    Not so. Reagan suffered huge losses in 1982, and more in 1986 when Democrats retook the Senate.

    1. PhilK

      OK, how about this?

      Obama could make history by being the first President to put together two intentional mid-term disasters back-to-back.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Not quite. The 82 and 86 elections were swings back toward equilibrium and we’re more reflective of the public at large. Reagan had small coattails in 84, and Carter in 1980 really harmed the Team Blue cause. The 2010 electorate and the current one despise Republicans. The GOP is shrinking and has no business being competitive, but here we are. The 2006 midterms are nothing compared to the upset in 2010.

      This election much like 94 is about the gross ineptitude and betrayals of Democratic elite.

      Today Politico had an article about the Obama Administration befuddled by how the voters worry about the economy and don’t recognize Obama’s “wonderful” economic record.

  2. optimader

    RE:Sex, drugs, and broomsticks” [Atlas Obscura]. Not entirely safe for work!
    “..Combine pagans, brooms, phallic fertility symbols, and jumping into the air, and you have all the ingredients you need for the myth of the flying witch…”

    dancing, forgot dancing..


  3. 10leggedshadow

    Re: plea bargains It’s not about justice it’s about putting wins in the column. If a defendant has the temerity to request a jury trial, that defendant will be told in no uncertain terms, that if found guilty, they will “throw the book at them”. Another issue is monetizing the police force. On every call, no matter what the reason, the cops have to write a citation. For example, my son, driving in a snowstorm, ran off the road. A cop came and called a tow truck and my son got a ticket.

  4. EmilianoZ

    Americans oscillating between the Reps and the Dems make me think of a man banging his head on a wall, then going to bang his head on the opposite wall, then returning to the first wall, and so on.

  5. dearieme

    “it’s hard to get worked up about anything”: if I were an American I think I might get worked up about Mr Barack Ebola, on the grounds of his being rather clueless.

    1. cwaltz

      You have stronger chances of getting hit by a car then you do of contracting Ebola at this point. Why in the world would anyone spend too much time getting worked up over it? While I am no fan of this administration, how it’s handled/ or not handled the ebola crisis IMO has not been detrimental to anyone. Even the people who contracted as a result of initial unrestricted travel are now well. Do I think there are valid complaints about things like the CDC cuts or the fact that we didn’t have a lead in place from the get go to address what could have been and still could be something that can hurt our population? Absolutely. However, the blame doesn’t entirely belong to this administration since Congress(or the GOP controlled deadlock known as Congress) was ultimately the one to assign CDC budget and IS the one stymieing efforts to put responsible people in place in positions of power such as Surgeon General. So yeah, out of all things to blame this President for, Ebola isn’t even top 10.

      1. different clue

        Structural budget cuts were co-conspired in by Obama. Obama and his Democrats engineered the process by which the Bush Tax Cuts were made permanent. Obama and his Democrats engineered the
        Sequester. So lets give the Obamacrats their due share of the credit for these budget cutogenic tax cut permanentizations.

  6. Chauncey Gardiner

    That total shadow banking assets were 120 percent of global GDP at the end of 2013, with 33 percent of that total in the U.S., is a staggering amount. Does this amount include estimated amounts in secret offshore “tax havens”? When you layer financial derivatives exposures on top of this, well… and all unregulated, too.

    Guess I need to give some further thought to the produce from that Victory garden to accompany that Orwell’s Victory gin.

  7. DJG

    The reason that the Democrats are always “fighting” is that they aren’t. It’s like Republicans and their constant evocation of constitutional values.

  8. Mick StJohn

    The Salon article should be all you need to know about the “brass” and above. Although it is quite revolutionary to let family meet up with their boys and ride home( the US) with them.
    My guess is that he is a non-commissioned officer but his opinion should be considered all the more.
    “He doesn’t think much of military bosses or politicians or Americans in general who send the lowliest 1% to fight wars that make the other 1%, on the high end, “monu-fuckin’-mentally rich.”
    Just remember it was an economic draft.

    1. optimader

      Took 26 years to formulate that assessment and he was in intelligence services, is that right?
      meh, he’s part of “the con”.

    2. whine country

      When I was in Viet Nam I was tasked with a group of other guys to go to the dumps at our base camp. There we tossed our garbage onto the locals who were down below us in a pit scrounging for anything that was of value to them. I know already! What an animal I am and I fully expect to hear from the NC writer whose namesake is the heroine of the Hunger Games (ironic ya think?) I took my shirt off because it was very hot and was immediately warned by one of my fellow soldiers that I could be charged with destruction of government property. That’s right, I was nothing more than “government property”. From personal experience I can say that fellow soldiers feel the pain of their fellow soldiers’ wounds very deeply. My heart goes on to those in the Salon story and if there is anything I could do to to change things I would do it immediately. The only thing I can offer here is to re-post an article that I have posted before which summarizes one of my beliefs about why we are now able to constantly be at war:


      To my mind, David Sirota puts his finger on the reason that the military is able to pull of the con. TPTB have trashed the economy so badly that way too many of our young men and women are forced to “volunteer” to serve in order to simply make a decent living. Forced servitude, involuntary conscription.. call it what you want, but it is no less a draft that bypasses our legislative process and let’s the shithead politicians off the hook for any responsibility for what they have wrought. Authority without responsibility is what it is. I am absolutely shocked – shocked that anybody could be shocked by what is the very predictable result of that authority without responsibility.

  9. abynormal

    “As the U.S. powers the global economic expansion in its fifth year, the world’s rich are counting on American companies to help increase their fortunes.”
    …more like they’re counting on American Protection & Security, guaranteed by our tax structure and withering social networks!

    “Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
    By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
    “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
    Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore –
    Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
    Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.””

    Mike Oldfield plays:
    Grand Piano, Glockenspiel, Farfisa Organ, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Speed Guitar, Taped motor drive amplifier organ chord, Mandolin-like Guitar, Fuzz Guitars, Assorted Percussion, Acoustic Guitar, Flageolet, Honky Tonk, Lowrey Organ, Tubular Bells

  10. abynormal

    my comment got tricked into moderation but no fear…i always got mo treats

    just texted kiddo:
    Why aren’t ghosts arrested? It’s hard to PIN anything on them!…B GHOSTLY 2NITE : ))

  11. Jeff W

    “Round-up of political solutions to the ‘current impasse’”

    Well, it’s more of a collection of what various people have said about the protests and their significance so far, with a few hints of what the pro-democracy side might do, if nothing pans out.

    No one notes that the actual election for Chief Executive is roughly 2½–3 years away and a lot, expected and unexpected, can and will happen in that time. (A lot has happened between the time Occupy Central founder Benny Tai declared that Occupy Central had “failed” on September 2 and now.)

    The HKFS reps are supposed to have another round of talks with government officials. Legco has to draft the appropriate legislation on electoral reform, with another round of public consultation, and then vote on the legislation in March/April, 2015; before the protests but after the August 31 NPCSC decision, the pan-dems were steadfast in saying they would not vote for legislation along the lines of what the NPCSC had laid out, denying Legco the two-thirds vote it needs to pass it—if the pan-dems have “agreed in principle for its members in the Legislative Council to resign en masse to trigger a de facto referendum on political reform” (as was reported last week), they don’t seem to have come around to compromising in the subsequent weeks. And the pro-Beijing side—the government and others—has shown an unerring ability to re-energize the protests at various moments.

    So I’d view the “current impasse” as just the part of the ongoing story, a lot of which has yet to unfold.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I didn’t mean to imply a bad outcome from “impasse” (or even to imply that there weren’t forces invisible from far away straining against each other). What amazes me about both Ferguson and Hong Kong is the discipline and creativity shown by the protesters; it’s very, very impressive. Both seem like they are in it for the long haul. That’s a good thing.

      1. Jeff W

        Well, “impasse” wasn’t your term—it’s a quote from the Asian Review of Books—so I really didn’t think you were implying anything. I guess people can talk about “solutions” at any time but a lot can still happen so I think those proposed solutions might best be viewed as provisional, at best.

        Actually, today’s South China Morning Post does, in fact, point to an impasse:

        With no sign of a second round of government-student talks, the city remains mired in a stalemate with protests now in their second month. The Federation of Students has indicated little interest in further dialogue, and the feeling is mutual on the government side.

        The pan-democrats, who have sort of been sidelined during the protests, are trying to figure out what to do next, including considering the possibility of “members resigning from Legco to trigger by-elections they would see as a de facto referendum on electoral reform”—which can actually happen in two different ways (either five pan-democrats could resign or one of the five “super seat” lawmakers could).

        The SCMP article, says, “Over the past weeks, leaders of the two student groups [the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism] have held frequent meetings with pan-democrat lawmakers, Occupy Central founders and civil groups”—which one of the pan-dems holding a “super seat” calls “the Quartet platform.” Although, like you, I’m impressed with the discipline and creativity of the Hong Kong protesters (I haven’t followed Ferguson as much), the coordination/strategy between the various pro-dem forces (which, aside from the “Quartet platform,” probably include the pro-democracy Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, higher-ups at the universities, maybe media tycoon Jimmy Lai, and others) is what causes me to think it’s still early days yet.

  12. Yonatan

    “Funds from the EU and the International Monetary Fund will help Ukraine repay its debts.”

    ‘IMF’ and ‘help’ go together just like ‘vulture’ and ‘corpse’. The oligarchs take the meat and the IMF comes in to pick the bones clean.

    1. cwaltz

      I wonder what share of our contribution to the IMFs Ukraine bailout the US taxpayers are on the hook for? Meanwhile our wonderous leadership is already trotting out the old “we can’t afford to pay for the olds” argument again. Uh then maybe you should stop committing funds to other countries and blowing all our money on your Cold War with Russia.

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