2:00PM Water Cooler 11/11/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

2014 Midterms Post-mortem

Modern day poll taxes already affecting elections; cost of a voter ID card can range from $75 to $150 dollars [WaPo]. Good links. Great to see how the Democrats fought this tooth and nail. Oh, wait….


Perry visits New Hampshire, fondles hat, wonders whether to throw it in ring [AP].

Gore/Kerry strategist signs on to possible presidential bid by Sanders [The Hill]. So Sanders is doomed, then?


A good explainer gets the timeline and the players clear [Latin Times]. “[T]he gang or cartel, which the government has appointed as responsible for the disappearance (or feared execution) of the 43 students” is well worded, eh?

Here’s a second explainer, from Ireland (!), with a greater focus on protester tactics: “Protesters were chanting: ‘It was the state'” [Breaking News].

“The government, a mayor, police officers and gang members have all been implicated” in the deaths of the 43 students [Al Jazeera].

“Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam downplayed chances of ever identifying the charred remains” [Agence France Presse].

Protesters block Acapulco international airport [BBC]. Big time; the only similar case I can recall is a “yellow shirt” protest in Thailand.

Ayotzinapa students, where the students were from, promised more “direct action” [Vice]. (“Direct action” is very photogenic; our famously free press loves it [Mic].)

Meanwhile, Mexico’s President has flown off to Asia [Forbes]:

Soon after his plane took off, a new, potentially devastating scandal erupted. Aristegui Noticias, an Internet site run by journalist Carmen Aristegui (morning newscaster for Noticias MVS, the media outlet I represent in Washington), published an article documenting that Ingeniería Inmobiliaria del Centro, a company  run by a wealthy entrepreneur that has received lucrative public-works contracts, including participating in a multi billion-dollar deal with a Chinese-led consortium to build a high-speed train between Mexico City and the city of Queretaro, also owns a luxury $7 million white mansion in Mexico City’s high-end neighborhood which actually belongs to Angélica Rivera, Peña Nieto’s former soap-opera actress wife. The presidential office confirmed Peña Nieto’s relations to the house, but claimed that Rivera had signed a contract to buy the house almost a year before he took office and is making payments to the builder.

Which, when you think about it, is exactly the point.


Turkish photograph sues Ferguson police for throwing him to the pavement when he was filming cops pointing a gun at protesters [St Louis Today].

Police and protester planning for events after Darren Wilson grand jury decision [ABC], expected mid- to late November [Christian Science Monitor].

Gun sales spike [CNN].

Chicago activists present police brutality report to United Nations Committee Against Torture [Juvenile Justice Information Exchange].

Hong Kong

Leung and Lam warn protesters they face arrest. Hong Kong media report protesters could be removed starting Wednesday. Perhaps the mainland government is waiting for APEC to finish [Reuters].

Hong Kong’s high court extends injunctions requiring protesters to leave two of three sites [Asian Correspondent], including Admiralty and Mong Kok [AP], and therefore not Causeway Bay (map) [New York Times] (“the territory’s residents are demanding democracy in intersections, not central squares” [The Atlantic]).

Occupy marshalls and divisions among the occupiers [South China Morning Post]. Alex Kwok a ten-year union organizer.

Net Neutrality

“The cable industry strongly supports an open internet” [Guardian].

Explaining net neutrality to Ted Cruz, idiot and shameless panderer [The Oatmeal].


Obama: ObamaCare website being “double- and triple-checked” before opening [The Atlantic]. And this wasn’t done the first time through why?

Enrolment targets lowered, but is the administration lowballing? [BBC]. Probably [Politico].

Axelrod says Obama should “compromise” on definition of 30-hour week as full time, thus requiring coverage [The Hill].

Imperial Collapse Watch

Say, where are all the good liberas who supported our humanitarian intervention in Libya? Because now it’s a hell hole [The Intercept].

“The Big Counterterrorism Counterfactual” [Foreign Policy].

[T]he “surveil and strike” mentality that has dominated the counterterrorism effort (and which is clearly reflected in Hannigan’s plea to let Big Brother — oops, I mean the NSA and GCHQ — keep its eyes on our communications) is popular with government officials because it’s relatively easy, plays to our technological strengths, and doesn’t force us to make any significant foreign-policy changes or engage in any sort of self-criticism at all. If we can solve the terrorist problem by throwing money at it, and enriching some defense contractors and former government officials in the process, what’s not to like?

“What’s not to like?” Snark like that, the dude should be blogging….


Obama’s DOJ helps launder local “civil forfeiture” seizures by “adopting” them, making them federal and exempting them from state-level corruption controls. Then the two thieves split the take [BoingBoing].

Nepotism in US immigration courts, said 2012 Inspector Genera’s report [WaPo].

Stats Watch

Redbook, week of November 8, 2014: Continued soft sales. Retailers getting displays out earlier, cutting prices, extending hours [Bloomberg]. 1% drop could have been the mid-terms [NASDAQ].

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on Tribulation Temple [Rapture Ready].

Class Warfare

401(k) retiree “assumed the company was looking out for my best interests” [Times]. Foolish, because markets.

“Carl Icahn has jacked the interest rate up on the Trump loans from 6.2 percent to 12 percent, ripped $350 million out of this company in four years, and now he says workers can’t have health care, pensions, paid breaks” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. Er, do markets scale?

Employment in 29 of 50 states is below recession-era peaks [Bloomberg]. This is a complicated and confusing map; see the note on New Jersey. What I would like to see is a “job loss” map that shows absolute numbers of jobs lost (or, heck, gained) per state, given the lower labor force participation rates successfully achieved by the Obama administration.

In the 30s, squillionaires competed for conspicious consumption honors by commissioning fancy watches with lots of “complications” [BBC]. Today, such elaborate and cumbrous bric-a-brac takes the form of space flight [Daily Mail]. To be fair, a Patek Philippe Supercomplication can’t serve as an extra-planetary lifeboat for the 0.01% lords of misrule. So there’s that.

News of the Wired

  • Encrypted messaging programs, ranked [Pacific Standard].
  • WiFi reaches Mount Everest [Malaya Mail].
  • Digital exiles in Berlin [Guardian]. Great world city. And for whatever reason, you don’t have  nutball squillionaires buying up entire neighborhoods and building underground bunkers there, unlike London.
  • Chinese programmer spends two years’ annual salary on iPhone 6s, arranges them in a heart and asks girlfriend to marry him [Telegraph]. Sensibly, she says no.
  • Geologists who didn’t predict earthquake not murderers, Italian court rules [Vice].
  • Five kinds of listening for newsrooms and communities [Medium].
  • “[F]amilies aren’t a national resource, but an individual cost” [New York Times]. OK, but if this is wrong, aren’t a lot of other, similar societal judgements wrong?
  • Brown fat burns up glucose to keep the body warm [Journal of Cell Biology]. All Gaul is divided into three fats…
  • “The press and public turn skeptical on war outlook” [Stars and Stripes].
  • Flanders fields wasn’t all poppies, ya know:

    Q 61643

* * *

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:


These fallen Black Eyed Susans, which I never dead-headed, remind me of soldiers, too.

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. Paul Tioxon

      Use of force— All out war against Obama!! Will they have to get in line?

      Paul de Sa, Ph.D., telecom analyst at Bernstein Research, of New York, expects big Internet providers like AT&T and Comcast, and their Republican sympathizers in Congress and industry, “will launch all-out war” against President Obama’s new attempt to prod the Federal Communications Commission into regulating Internet services as if they were phone companies – under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

      De Sa notes that Obama isn’t asking the FCC to limit the prices you pay for Internet service. The president is urging “net neutrality,” a ban on charging extra to some programmers in exchange for super-speedy service.

      Comcast said in a blog post Tuesday afternoon that it actually agrees with the president’s goals – but not with his proposal to regulate broadband Internet, which the company says will discourage the industry from investing in better products and services. Comcast wants to be trusted, not forced.

      Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20141112_Analyst__Schorsch_must_exit_troubled_American_Realty_Capital.html#OZVpvSVu6LQtODu4.99

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        Well, if Comcast is not credible in claiming that this kind of regulation will ‘discourage investing’. That would only happen if they decide to act like a pack of brats and convince themselves they didn’t get enough goodies to be competitive. Total codswaddle, to put it politely.

        Many innovations came out of Ma Bell ‘back in the day’ when it was regulated as a utility.

        It is true that putting Internet (broadband, etc) under Title II would require that it be legally designated, and regulated, as a ‘common carrier’. That is essential if the Internet is to continue as a widely shared public resource available to all.

        More detailed background, if you are interested:

  1. grizziz

    Re:Bernie Sanders
    Pericles (a 0.1%er, for sure) insisted that a democratic leader needed 3 attributes. Have a good policy, love your city/state and be able to give a good speech. Bernie cannot do the speech. Neither can Elizabeth Warren.
    Giving a good speech (’04 Dem. Convention) got Obomba a long way in convincing me that I did not need to look at his policies too closely and of course, there was John McCain. I would love to think that some bottom up activism would help progressives, but I believe that a strong voice is necessary to rally the troops.

    1. Erick Borling

      Very good points about public speaking. Warren is awesome but her speech is a horrible mix of high-pitch, condescension and something that sounds like desperation.

      1. dannyc

        Pericles never saw the coercive and destructive capabilities of today’s media. Abraham Lincoln couldn’t get elected today.

        1. dannyc

          Also, the disappearance and disposal of these students looks to be shaping up as a real neo-liberal public/private partnership.

          1. George Hier

            However, as a deceased resident of Illinois, he can probably still cast a vote. I doubt the Chicago political machines will discriminate against the differently-alive.

      1. James

        I think the Palin phenomenon was attributable to something like the Mosquito link that Banger brought up on the Daily Links board.


        The R crowd was definitely hearing something completely different when they listened to her. Where the Ds heard a babbling incoherent idiot, the Rs heard folksy homespun wisdom. It really was quite remarkable. Red staters I know still talk fondly of her. Never doubt the power of self-assurance. Which also speaks to the other study mentioned in these parts recently, which documented that the least informed were very often the most self-assured.

  2. steelhead

    Re: Class Warfare

    401(k) retiree “assumed the company was looking out for my best interests” [Times]. Foolish, because markets.

    JOHN F. WASIK must be doing some excellent drugs if he believes that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of employees. LOL

  3. dearieme

    “And for whatever reason, you don’t have nutball squillionaires …”: I think the reason is partly that Russian tanks could reach Berlin pretty quickly. If you are The Wrong Sort of Russian that’s a big deal.

    1. James Levy

      Russia lacks the logistical “tail”, the spare parts, and the trained maintenance personnel to get to Berlin any time soon. And then there are these little things called the Polish and German armies and the US Air Force. It took them 10 months in 1944-45 and it would take them just as long today–or they might not reach it at all.

  4. dearieme

    “our humanitarian intervention in Libya”: I had thought it near impossible to have a foreign policy more foolish than W’s. But the bloody fool who used Libya to show that compromise with the US will get you shot is the same bloody fool who interfered in the Ukraine until Russia decided to view itself as an ally of China.

    Thus are the foreign policy triumphs of Nixon (the opening to China) and Reagan (ending the Cold War) undone.

    I blame the Republicans for running that dolt McCain against this bozo.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Got some newz for ya, Dearie.

      They both play for the NeoCon/NeoLib team. Somewhat different techniques will be employed, and different optics sought, but outcomes will be remarkably similar. Both parties have become sociopathic and short-sighted under this tutelage; so although the specifics of the malicious actions for which they individually may opt may be somewhat different, the output is always and everywhere chaos, impoverishment, disease, and death. It is my fondest hope that someday the Mandate of Heaven will be withdrawn from the bipartisan machinations of the Death Star. The imperatives of hegemony sort out very ill with the best interests of this republic. However, for the interests of the State, war works out very well, indeed.

      Randolph Bourne, under the impetus of the Great War, had something to say about this in his tract, War Is The Health of the State.


      On this day in particular, Armistice Day, a remembrance of the horror and loss of the Great War, it is only fitting that we remember how it was seen in some quarters even then as it was happening.

      And since Armistice Day has now been denatured into a general commemoration of the soldiers of all of our countless – and often enough, pointless – wars, perhaps the later work from the pen of Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler should be invoked as well.


      The work in question is his War Is A Racket, and who better to know this than him?


    2. optimader

      In spite of the fact that the SU was a deadman walking, if one wants to assert that any individual ended the Cold War it would be Gorbachev.
      The Soviet Union was a failed experiment, Reagan was the POTUS at the time. You may argue the Reagan Admin policy expedited the collapse that was on rails, but then you would also have to concede that the chaotic consequence surely wasn’t to any long term US strategic advantage. The SU could have wisely frozen its military budget, relocated those funds to a more consumer based economy and made a go if it but they didn’t.

      Russia and China are more a mutual convenience than “allies” in any conventional sense of the word. China is taking commercial advantage of now surplus energy resources and Russia sells China stinkpot jet engines, Soyuz capsules bits and pieces and various other tchotchke they can copy.

      Regarding the dodgy future health benefits of US foreign policy affiliates/Pawns, plenty of history there. Hmong and Kurds come to mind as people that thought they had a deal and didn’t.. I certainlydon’t loose any sleep over Gaddafi getting capped, the thing is though, the US true to form destabilized the Country (as usual) without a plan and walked away. The unintended blowback for BHO was Ambassador Stevens playing secret agent trying to Hoover up loose Libyan weapons and getting himself killed in the process.

  5. Trent

    Actually, if the government by the corporation for the corporations is trying to implement it, it probably is like obamacare

    1. psychohistorian

      I give the Jesuits credit for exposing me to both poems 40+ years ago but chastise them for making me memorize the John McCrae one.

      The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

      The world weeps at our ongoing blindness to the machinations of our species.

  6. EA

    Could someone explain this article to me?

    Brown fat burns up glucose to keep the body warm [Journal of Cell Biology]. All Gaul is divided Brown fat burns up glucose to keep the body warm [Journal of Cell Biology]. All Gaul is divided into three fats…

    I understand that glucose is not as dangerous as fructose, and that it does not have to be processed through the liver.

  7. dannyc

    Can’t help but think how the US media would’ve – routinely – reacted over the last 7 weeks if the disappearance of 43 students had occurred in another part of the world? Say, Pakistan? Iraq? The Ukraine?

    1. psychohistorian

      Just remind yourself that the US has now spent trillions and killed untold hundreds of thousands in response to less deaths than occur on a normal holiday weekend from auto traffic accidents.

      The relative value of human lives are determined by those that write history, the winners. The rest of us are appalled at their ongoing hypocrisy.

  8. Erick Borling

    Need some minor tech support if you please; I still have great difficulty accessing subscription-only content, even with web searches based on the title of the piece using Google. I rarely get the FT stuff or the WSJ stuff. Any tips? If this content can’t be had, do you plural really think it’s ethical to include it?

  9. grayslady

    Twice in the past year U.S. citizens have felt it necessary to petition the UN for justice: first, in Detroit, with thousands of citizens receiving no potable water, and now, in Chicago, with activists (rightly) decrying police brutality. If there was any doubt that we are now officially a banana republic, these actions seem to confirm our degraded status.

    1. DJG

      Even more, grayslady. I’m sure that the US government will ignore the findings, but human-rights work involves slowly wearing down the indifference of the powerful. Obama’s handling of the torture that he inherited from W. Bush (as well as from Bill Clinton) is a disgrace. It’s going to be hard on the “legacy.” But maybe we should just award Bill Clinton (and Obama) a legacy just to get them out of the way. I suspect that Bill is working for Hillary to present her as part of his legacy. The Pope is smarter: He just sends contemptible cardinals to the Knights of Malta, where they will be figureheads on a figurehead.

  10. RWood

    Re: “better reflecting and responding to our communities has to start with better listening.”
    like a phrase on the wall in some sub-contractor’s monitoring den, and the whole idea of “kinds of listening” I thought might mean as to whistleblowers or suspected ones, to politicians, to those in the direct “prevailing order” hierarchy, to journalists, to girlfriends…que no?

  11. nic

    Hi Lambert, you asked for a job loss map by state. I can tell you that it would not be difficult to create something like this. The County Business Patterns (http://www.census.gov/econ/cbp/) offers this type of data on an annual basis for employment and the Quarterly Workforce Indicator (http://lehd.ces.census.gov) does so for a range of employment and job indicators on a quarterly basis. Both are available at sub 2-digit NAICS level. Which means you can get sector data (financial services, manufacturing, retail, mining, etc).

    One issue is that job gains/losses represent flows of labor into/out of companies; it would make more sense to display that kind of information as a times series, while presenting change in employment (a stock) between two periods.

    Anyway, if this is something you are interested in, you can visit my blog and see what sort of analysis you can do with the data. I also enjoy doing stuff like that for my edification

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It would not be easy for me to do. What I would love is a time-series that also displayed on a map. Ushahidi has one, but for whatever reason Drupal never has, and nobody else has. It’s bizarre.

      1. nic

        Hi Lambert, if you and any other readers are still interested in the job loss distribution, I put together some crude maps showing employment change at two-year intervals by US state from 2007 to 2013. I think these are more manageable than quarterly or annual time-series.

  12. Kurt Sperry

    “Gore/Kerry strategist signs on to possible presidential bid by Sanders [The Hill]. So Sanders is doomed, then?”

    Even a fine chef can’t bake a soufflé from textured vegetable protein and ketchup.

  13. RWood

    Simian dancing, full moon/sun:
    Brand urges us to liberate ourselves from the marketised dreams of future happiness ‘out there’ – the fame, the indulgence, the wealth – to focus on a bliss that is available here, now, inside ourselves. What is he talking about? Is this just ‘mumbo-jumbo’, as critics claim? Far from it, this is a truth that is subtle, elusive, but real:

    You never know when you will encounter magic. Some solitary moment in a park can suddenly burst open with a spray of pre-school children in high-vis vests, hand in hand; maybe the teacher will ask you for directions and the children will look at you curious and open, and you’ll see that they are perfect. (p.105)

    1. wendy davis

      Ha; I’m working on a post ‘Boots (as in Riley), Brand, and Banksy’. Hope it gels, the three are so complimentary.

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