2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Squillionaire donors in Democracy Alliance “look six years ahead” [New York Times]. Well, they can afford to. Where’s a class traitor Ross Perot-type when we need one?

Dems create “leadership position” for Warren: “Strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee” [HuffPo]. Warren, as an academic infighter, will be adept at making this position whatever she wants it to be. That said, Warren, like Obama, is all about visionary minimalism: Policies like making interest on student loans slightly less usorious, instead of, say, free public education K-16. If you want that, you’ve got go to the former West Germany.

How Sanders will run for President: To win [National Journal]. Beat sweetener for Tad Devine, the campaign manager. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Rand Paul meets with his circle on 2016 run [Bloomberg]. Clintons, Bushes, Cuomos, Pauls… Seems awfully dynastic, all of a sudden.

Republican trial balloon for Carly Fiorina [Bloomberg].

Another Republican family involved in animal abuse: The Flakes, of dogs [New York Times]. Yes, another.

2014 Post-Mortem

One-third of Democratic voters made up their minds only a week before the election [WaPo]. Sounds like brand confusion.


Masked demonstrators torch parts of Guerrero state legislature [Al Jazeera]. The state where the 43 students were abducted.

Governing party offices also torched [BBC].

Parents of students to travel across the country in three caravans [Democracy Now].

A good wrap-up with a time-line from [Cosmopolitan], of all places. (This has been a feature of Ferguson coverage too; good pieces in places like Road and Track, IIRC.)


Testimony by Brown family pathologist suggests grand jury is coming to the end of the witness list [ABC].

Ku Klux Klan leader defends threat of “lethal force” against Ferguson “terrorists” [Raw Story]. Why not just deputize them? Here’s the KKK flyer [Riverfront Times].

Brown family lawyers: Darren Wilson grand jury decision a defining moment for Missouri [USA Today]. “The grand jury will do whatever the prosecutor wants them to do” [St Louis Today].

Ferguson case tests rule on attorneys’ public comments [Missouri Lawyer].

Hong Kong

Top judge questions “odd” injunction brought by taxi and bus operators to clear protesters [South China Morning Post].

The “tyranny of the old Middle” class in Southeast Asia [The Diplomat]. Interesting comparison between Indonesia and Thailand.

Occupiers weigh exit strategy, including co-founders turning themselves in [Quartz].

Hong Kong’s Admiralty tents “run like a hotel” except minus the maids [Time]. Unlike, I think, Mong Kok [The Star].

America the Petrostate

Landrieu wants Keystone to save her career [WaPo]. Obama hints at veto, making the vote a free one [USA Today]. The left needs to make Democrats lose races, and be seen to have done so, to have any leverage. This would be a fine chance for them.

Illinois fracking rules finalized behind closed doors; fight to continue at local level [Inside Climate News].

Kansans near fracking injection wells can’t buy earthquake insurance [Wichita Eagle].

Why New York state won’t get fracked [No Fracking Way].

Imperial Collapse Watch

Kissinger: “Do we achieve world order through chaos or insight?” [Der Speigel]. Well, over the last couple of years, factions within the national security class successfully organized chaos round the Mediterranean basin and the Black Sea, which (I would argue) prevented the pivot to Asia, that having just flopped. So, the people running the show today make Kissinger look sane. Well done, all.

Stats Watch

Jobless claims, week of November 8, 2014: A slight rise. “There are no special factors in today’s report, one that hints, but only hints, at possible trouble for the November employment report” [Bloomberg]. Rise not enough to “shake confidence” [FT].


Why the Court’s decision to hear King v. Burwell is a “naked power grab” [Linda Greenhouse, New York Times]. Very well urged.


Access to David Cameron costs £50,000 per annum; Tories “not funded by trade unions,” says website [Independent]. Refreshingly direct!

FIFA report clears Qatar and Russia of wrongdoing in 2018 and 2022 bidding, but chief investigator pushes back [BBC].

Class Warfare

Selfies with homeless people [Tumblr]. Then again, more people risk jail for feeding the homeless in Ft. Lauderdale [Local 10].

News of the Wired

  • Comet lander bounced on landing, still sends pictures [BBC].
  • Safety-last Google glass has a blind spot [City Lab]. A literal blind spot, I mean.
  • Quantum effects in enzymes (?!) [Aeon].
  • The wall that plays music when it rains [Ingenium et Ars].
  • Old school calculators are beautiful machines [Wired].
  • Corporations hire hackers to strike back at hackers who hacked them [Salon]. Post-NSA career for tech dudes.
  • The contradictions between general purpose computing and DRM [Cory Doctorow, Wired]. Oddly, available only as PDF, so far as I can find.

    The closest approximation we have for “a computer that runs all the programs except the one you don’t like” is “a computer that is infected with spyware out of the box.” By spyware I mean operating-system features that monitor the computer owner’s commands and cancel them if they’re on a blacklist.

    A blacklist, that is, for software that doesn’t permit the desired forms of rental extraction.

  • Commonwealth War Dead: First World War Visualised [Information is Beautiful]. The Battle of the Somme puts (say) Fallujah in perspective. Part of the Information is Beautiful awards.

* * *

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 (LJ):


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. wbgonne

    Dems create “leadership position” for Warren

    Yes, the position is called “Progressive Hood Ornament.” This move suggests Warren will not challenge Queen Hillary and will, therefore, become irrelevant. OTOH, I could be wrong about both points. Warren might still run for president and she could use her “leadership position” to thwart Obama’s going-out-of-business sale of our social safety net and our national sovereignty. But I am dubious.

    1. James

      Yes, the position is called “Progressive Hood Ornament.”

      Love the Flying Lady visual! I’m thinking they need to liven up the debates for 2016. Something more along the lines of this to make their case:


      Nice message too, with or without a structured settlement. I’ll go on record now in support of the first candidate from either party to don Norse Legend regalia and sing opera on national telly. Hey! If they can’t do anything for us they might as well at least provide some damn entertainment!

      1. wbgonne

        Sorry, no Norse regalia for us. We aren’t worthy. All we get is bland, mewly-mouthed dimwits in business-suits endlessly playing kabuki with our lives. It’s more like hell than entertainment but there we are.

        Me? I’m off to see Roseanne Cash! Woo-hoo!

      1. craazyboy

        Since when have we set the bar that high for any of our elected presidents?

        Think about that. Kinda scary.

        1. LifelongLib

          The old smoke-filled rooms at least brought forward guys who knew how to wire pull. The current endless campaign system doesn’t even do that much.

    2. Greenbacker

      The “Obama” fascination on this board is lol worthy. Move on from him. He was what he was in 2008 and he said what he was. The point that “progressives” still whine about him is amazing. Not only does Obama get no more done if he was a “living breathing” revolutionary progressive like JFK(who did not believe Federal “Civil Rights laws” were necessary, which I agree), but he is probably defeated in 2012.

      Americans are just not into economic nationalism right now. It is painful but once understood, you move on. Nationalism is considered bad and Republicans crap on its name by pushing a globalist agenda more than even Democrats. This is what needed to happen in 2008 as a deflationary spiral, currency collapse and systematic breakdown of the rule of law. It was the main reason the “bailout” happened and why bankers got such great parting terms from the crisis. The final collapse and return to the bankers ‘gold’ will have to be seamless and non-violent for capital to approve.

      Instead, Americans are back to their normal routines, doing their same ole crap. Obama missed nothing. He gave Americans exactly what they wanted and they rewarded him with reelection despite knowing he was Clintonese. People blame him for his supposed party’s “losses” during a lame duck session of Congress. So was Ronald Reagan. The people are satisfied, sorry, but they are. They simply didn’t want to bother their day and vote. The only people that voted were old farts worried about “Ubumacare” cutting into their Medicare. How funny. 2016 will come, Republicans will be tired. Bill will have the white women waving hands, blacks a singing, latino’s dancing and enough white male vote to push a landslide. To act like Hillary can’t win is ignorant to the way the political process is controlled. Republican voting repression tactics worked in 2014 because they let them. They sure didn’t work in 2012. I wonder why?

      My time with Lew Rockwell when I was a Libertarian was quite “enlightening”. While Rockwell was just another globalist created program from David Rockefellers brain, it taught me alot of how the system works. How the dialect is focused into satisfying Americans lusts and fetishes, yet needed to be consistently reminded of the fears the system provides. With Rockwell, it was fear in weaknesses of the dollar standard, but also to fear what he would bring as a policy prescription. This duelity of “fear” keeps the power entrenched. They almost screwed up in Naugties, but got away with it.

    3. psychohistorian

      I think this is a case of the D’s keeping their internal enemies close.

      While she may have been given a leadership position, think of the dead weight she will have to move to say anything useful. IMO, she would have been much better off outside the leadership, just like leaving the Obama skirt and becoming Senator….you might think she would know better, but I digress…..look at her ongoing support of Israel.

      If she ruffles too many feathers she will be thrown under the bus like all somewhat well meaning poseurs (R to D convert) before her.

      1. wbgonne

        I think you’re right. This smells like Warren getting coopted. If she is that stupid or craven then she wouldn’t help anyway. But who knows how it will play out?

  2. David Lentini

    “Kissinger: ‘Do we achieve world order through chaos or insight?’ ”

    From the man who made an art of creating chaos and destruction, and who served as a model for current nut bags? Guess he’s old enough now to start airbrushing his legacy. Maybe he’s getting worried there may really be a final judgment?

    1. Banger

      No, Kissinger wasn’t interested in chaos at all but order–just because you don’t like the sort of order he favored doesn’t mean he did what you accused him of. He and many other older men in the FP establishment were not happy with the way the neocons deliberately created chaos in the ME. Kissinger is a true conservative–and he has been consistent in that way. I’ve known a couple of people who know him fairly well and they agree on that.

    2. Dino Reno

      Kissinger is like one of those old guys in the new book “The Nazi Next Door.” He has major blood on his hands, but he now seems affable and quite harmless in his current form. The best you can say for him is he’s not an abstract thinker. He knows firsthand what happens when you tug on Superman’s cape, whether that Superman is China, Russia or the U.S.

  3. DanB

    Re: Warren: “Strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee”. Just received her email to constituents. It contains four uses of “fight:”
    1. “…helping decide how we can fight most effectively for the people who are counting on us.”
    2. “It’s a seat at the table to fight for kids who are being crushed by student loan debt.”
    3. “..all of us … just want a level playing field and a fighting chance to succeed.”
    4. “…we’re going to keep fighting for what we believe in.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      They always “fight.” They never win.

      Adding, I don’t buy the “level playing field” and “fighting chance” crapola; that’s meritocratic double-speak for a rigged game. I care about outcomes.

  4. David Lentini

    Quantum Biological Chemistry is Not New

    Hate to break it to NC and Aeon, but the effects of quantum processes, like tunneling, in macromolecules like enzymes and nucleic acids, has been long known. Also, strictly speaking, quantum wave functions refer to what can be known (observed) about a particle or system. Probabilities as to what may or may not be observed using instruments (detectors) are determined using the mathematics of quantum mechanics. See here.

    All of this I learned from Graham Fleming, when he taught my upper-division physical chemistry course at the University of Chicago in 1983.

      1. trish

        new to me, too, and really, really cool. Especially cool to me the ideas of quantum tunnelling re olfaction and birds’ quantum-entangled compasses in their eyes!!!

        Though as often true with anything brief like this about quantum mechanics, I want to understand more, ie how exactly does that work, yet know very well my limitations, lack of necessary skills/language.
        Anyway, this was a nice glimpse into something that sounds so utterly fascinating (and kudos to the writers who can effectively illustrate the idea for the lay person).

        Thanks for posting. These kinds of pieces are truly antidotes.

  5. ambrit

    Hooray! Fungi!
    Now, if they were growing around the base of a hardwood, in the pot with them! (Chuckles fiendishly while searching for the Cardamom.)

    1. curlydan

      I was wondering if it was from a cow pasture in the southern United States and thinking about making tea with it, but only if you’re with someone who really knows what he’s doing! Otherwise, you could either die or get way too acquainted with our health care system.

      1. ambrit

        Dear curlydan;
        If it was growing from a cow flop itself, you’re probably going to get excellent mileage. We used to mix it up as tea with Kool Aid. (A lesser Kool Aid Acid Test.)
        If it had a red cap, watch out. You have to cook them very carefully to skim off the toxics. The Amantia Muscaria mushroom has a long and universal history as a shamans potion. You do indeed “commune with the spirits” with its’ assistance.
        Cow flop Psilocybin Mushrooms are rarely if ever deadly, even when over indulged in. You do tend to laugh a lot and have fugue state ‘revelations’ of a cosmic order. Whenever indulging, the people and surroundings are important. If you know a real shaman, he or she can help guide you in a voyage of self discovery.
        Try “The Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley for a general introduction to the experience.

  6. grizziz

    Imperial Collapse watch:
    There has been ample suggestion that frustrated Neocon minions in Foggy Bottom sought to undermine Putin by ramping up Maiden Square demonstrations in Kiev after Obama and Putin collaborated to remove Assad’s Syrian chemical weapons. Is there any strong evidence in the public space that I have not seen?

  7. John

    Regarding the Republican Flakes:
    Animal cruelty…Republican corporate and political leaders….sociopathy…. Connect the dots.

  8. not_me

    That said, Warren, like Obama, is all about visionary minimalism: Policies like making interest on student loans slightly less usorious, instead of, say, free public education K-16. Lambert

    Apparently Warren, like many here even, cannot comprehend usury-free money such as common stock.

    But I’ll note that a generous BIG (better, just asset redistribution including land), would allow life-long education while a JG would waste time and human energy that could be better spent – better spent by definition.

      1. not_me

        That you might think I think so is what’s odd. Oh I see, I think. You think I used “just” in the sense of “only” when I meant it in the sense of “justice.” BTAIMB, a generous BIG is clearly inferior to the just redistribution of assets YET either is superior to a JG wrt to allowing education – unforced education that is.

    1. Kim Kaufman

      Warren can’t connect the dots between legalizing drugs (she’s against) with drug money laundering being large part of banksters’ business – as well as growth for prison industrial complex.

      As for “free education” – I’m thinking that much of the enthusiasm for pre-K is going to wind up being pre-K charter schools, outside of public ed.

    1. wbgonne

      No doubt President Frackenstein will demand an immediate invesigation and a cessation of all activity until it is completed. Ahem.

      BTW: Is it my imagination or is Halliburton the devil’s corporate spawn? Hell-iburton. Coincidence? I think not.

    1. Eclair

      So, human step-dads/boyfriends killing their female partner’s offspring by another male, is ok then. Cool.

  9. LifelongLib

    Re free public education, pre-K through graduate school would be the ideal, but I’m not holding my breath for that. Would at least free daycare/pre-K (which can be hundreds a month) through trade school/junior college/first two years of 4-year college be politically doable?

      1. not_me

        “Left” versus “Right” is rather boring after all these centuries. And pointless too, just an endless oscillation in who gets to be the oppressor. Instead, how about just versus unjust? How about dragging the Overton Window UPWARD?

        Except Progressives have NO MORAL guide other than THERE IS NO MORAL GUIDE? So where is up?

        1. optimader

          Instead we had to make due with Eisenhower and the interstate highway system :o(

          The Kolyma Highway is also known as the Road of Bones, as the skeletons of the forced laborers who died during its construction were used in much of its foundations.[1][2]
          The Kolyma Highway was constructed during the Stalinist era of the USSR by the Dalstroy construction directorate. The first stretch was built by the inmates of the Sevvostlag labor camp in 1932, and construction continued with the use of gulag labour until 1953.

  10. Kim Kaufman

    “Landrieu wants Keystone to save her career [WaPo]. Obama hints at veto, making the vote a free one [USA Today]. The left needs to make Democrats lose races, and be seen to have done so, to have any leverage. This would be a fine chance for them.”

    It might be that Landrieu knows she’s going to lose (that’s what everyone says) and is auditioning for a high $$ job in private industry, like Koch Industries? I don’t think we can make her lose the race – she’s done that herself.

    1. hunkerdown

      Good point — the dynamic must be different among first-termers who didn’t wind up on a lucrative committee vs. those who did vs. insiders who already have their next gig paid up, all modified by self-funding, class identity and whatever roles the kayfabe du jour calls for. Trouble is that “unsatisfied former customer” and “unreliable partner” are both fair interpretations of that same set of facts, i.e. the left made ‘our’ bastards lose. The latter seems to have a fair amount of play among the Lippmannite set of late.

    2. Jagger

      There is a new Landrieu campaign ad out on her opponent, Bill Cassidy. It has shots of Bill Cassidy attempting to give a public speech. Makes George Bush look articulate. When I saw it, it made me cringe. Dirty ad but might have an impact on the runoff.

      1. wbgonne

        Landrieu is smart and tough. But I think she’s finished politically because the Obama-hate is too strong in LA to overcome. Good riddance to her and her ilk, who are destroying the Democratic Party from within. Don’t worry about Mary: She’ll make millions “consulting” for Big Oil. Her state, however, is headed for AGW Armageddon. Thanks, Mary. Maybe they’ll float a memorial buoy for her over the place New Orleans used to be.

        1. ambrit

          Knowing the Nawlins crowds’ track record, expect them to name a street after her at the original site, and then at the “Nuevo New Orleans” site.

  11. Banger

    The left needs to make Democrats lose races, and be seen to have done so, to have any leverage. This would be a fine chance for them.

    That is what is missing from the left–and that is realpolitik!

  12. DJG

    Carly Fiorina and presidential bids. Ha ha ha ha ha. Lambert, you are a cutup. Carly Fiorina is the epitome of the American failure upward and an example of what happens when feminism is all about careerism. Wow. Carly Fiorina versus Hillary Clinton–it would be like two cranky old white-boy fail-ups, except in pants suits.

  13. DJG

    I like Naomi Klein’s first thoughts on these topics. I also like her stress on civic movements. Periodically, liberalish blogs have debates in their comments sections about whether or not people should demonstrate. Considering how fearful the powerful are of demonstrations, the answer should be obvious: Yes. But only liberals can come up with ways of not walking down a street with a sign.
    I’m reminded of Vaclav Havel and his ideas about the power of the powerless. And those demonstrations in Prague with the citizenry shaking their keys to indicate that it was time for the sclerotic pseudo-revolutionaries to vacate the institutions of power. But then, liberals wouldn’t want to do something as daring as shaking their keys in public.

    1. hunkerdown

      Liberals wouldn’t want to do anything that shakes up the institutions of power when most of them merely aspire to a high and secure rank within it. Their goal is to capture institutions just as they are and, not to change them in any meaningful way and impair their own rise to some degree of self-importance, but merely to use them against threats to their own position in the order (per the Iron Law of institutions).

      1. psychohistorian

        Liberals couldn’t spell Structural Change if asked……but TINA, TINA, TINA is in their vocabulary.

  14. OIFVet

    I think that technology is making people dumber and less skilled. First, there is the suspicion that all the cockpit technology is making pilots less skilled when they have to do old-fashioned manual control flying in emergencies (think Sully). Then this morning some jackass backed his monster Range Rover into my little Civic in my driveway, cracked the rear bumper, and tried to take off. Unfortunately for him, a school bus was blocking the street and I confronted him. Indignant dude stated that it wasn’t his fault because his beeper thingamajig supposedly didn’t warn him that he was too close. Since we all know that these safety technologies are supposed to replace good old-fashioned eyesight and driver skill. This attitude almost destroyed years of hard work at anger control. A bumper is fixable, human life isn’t. And if his expressed attitude that technology is supposed to displace what used to be called ‘driver skill’ and that its failure absolves him of his personal responsibility is in any way representative of wider attitudes and expectations of drivers, then we are all in trouble. Or it could be the attitude of Range Rover drivers. IMO they are assholes for driving such huge monstrosities in urban environments in the first place.

    1. DJG

      “attitude of Range Rover drivers”: Try doing your daily errands on foot. You’ll soon learn to avoid Range Rovers and, especially, Cadillacs, the cars of self-absorbed idiots. (Imagine, somehow Cadillacs are stylish again.) And as a long-time owner of a Honda Civic, car of the people, I sympathize.

    2. kyria

      Reminds me of this article from Wired:

      In Denmark, the town of Christianfield stripped the traffic signs and signals from its major intersection and cut the number of serious or fatal accidents a year from three to zero. In England, towns in Suffolk and Wiltshire have removed lane lines from secondary roads in an effort to slow traffic – experts call it “psychological traffic calming.” A dozen other towns in the UK are looking to do the same. A study of center-line removal in Wiltshire, conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory, a UK transportation consultancy, found that drivers with no center line to guide them drove more safely and had a 35 percent decrease in the number of accidents.

  15. Ulysses

    I love seeing these rich suburban pricks– driving huge 4-7 m.p.g tanks, suitable for extreme rough terrain battlefields, on beautifully smooth streets in Great Neck or Amagansett.

  16. Oregoncharles

    And ABOUT the Bernie Sanders campaign article: Devine is “An experienced Democratic media strategist, Devine had worked on the campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Michael Dukakis.” Who “has worked on both Al Gore’s and John Kerry’s bids for the White House. ”
    But Bernie’s gonna WIN. Uh-huh.

    1. wbgonne

      Bernie is the sacrificial lamb so that Progressives know they were “heard” before Hillary’s coronation. Warren is the only viable challenger to Clinton and it looks like she just got promoted into oblivion.

  17. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re Lambert’s observation: … “So, the people running the show today make Kissinger look sane. Well done, all.”

    Michael Shedlock has also listed some of the blowback from the baffling organized chaos around the Mediterranean basin and Black Sea, and sanctions on Russia. Russia has implemented a “Pivot to Asia” in response:


    Meanwhile, it appears the preferred “solution” in DeeCee is likely to be more war:


    http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2014/11/prepare-for-war-obama-asks-congress-for.html (From Nov 11th NC Links)

    … What was Einstein’s definition of insanity, again?

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Heh, thanks for that, opti. In doing some volunteer work recently, I feel a little like the beanstalk in your animation. :)

      Beyond that, it caused me to wonder about the intelligence of plants.

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