2:00PM Water Cooler 11/17/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, this Water Cooler is a little bit light; I was up late last night dealing with Dr. Karl Jonathan Gruber.


Congressional job approval at 9% [The Atlantic].

Republicans mull government shutdown over possible Obama executive action on immigration [Reuters].

Activists toss the immigration hot potato to Hillary Clinton; Bill Clinton tosses it back to Obama [Politico].

2014 Fallout

Republicans set up “hidden on plain sight” dead drops on Twitter to share polling data with supposedly independent PACs. If this constitutes “coordination” between party and PAC, it’s not legal [CNN]. Twitter’s been used for such purposes before; the innovation is the dead drop account.

Of course, if the Republicans really wanted to move legislation and “show they can govern,” they’d abolish the filibuster [Bloomberg]. They don’t, so they won’t, just like Democrats.


Party that rules Guerrero state, where 43 students disappeared, on verge of dissolution [Telesur].

Protest march on 43 students in Mexico City, where earlier police fired shots at National University [Telesur]. Protests nationalized [WaPo].

General strike called for November 20 [Al Jazeera], including blocking the Mexico City airport [Truthout], by the Mexican Inter-university Students Assembly, with students from 79 schools [Telesur].

Mexico’s “rule of law” problem [WSJ]. It can’t happen here!


What the Darren Wilson tapes show and don’t show [New York].

Preparations for the Darren Wilson grand jury verdict by protesters [New York Times].

10 illegal police actions to watch for [HuffPo]. Seen them all with Occupy.

Unified police command; no “self deployment” [St Louis American].

Law enforcement consultant perspective, but interesting. Ferguson is a “scheduled crisis,” depending on the grand jury verdict. Watch for the “Schelling moment” [St Louis Magazine].

Lessons for Ferguson from Cincinatti in 2001 [KSDK].

Parallels between lynchings and police killings in America [Daily Kos].

Hong Kong

“Second hand-over” coming in Hong Kong? [Straits Times].

America the Petrostate

JP Morgan settles with Eagle Ford mineral rights owners, terms undisclosed [Bloomberg]. Self-dealing, excessive fees, looting, etc.

Chesapeake faces subpoena from several states [Propublica]. Inflated operation expenses, excessive fees, price fixing, looting, etc.


100,000 applications, according to Sylvia Burwell [Bloomberg].

Even the Times understands: Like I said, ObamaCare is set up to “nudge” people to renew, but renewal traps you into higher prices (but see below) [New York Times]. With handy map.

People who don’t re-enter their information will receive the same subsidy as last year, regardless of what happens to their income and the benchmark. That means that it’s easy to end up underpaying and getting hit with a big bill at tax time — or paying too much and not realizing it.

And either way, ObamaCare’s hosed backend can bill you twice, bill you not at all, or bill you for the wrong amount. (NOTE: Whoopsie! Above, I left out the fork of the dilemma where if you renew, yet your income goes up, you might get hit with a tax bill, because your subsidy should have been reduced, because I didn’t take the scenario that my income might increase into account. Of course, that makes sense, with real hourly wages decreasing for most people.)

Great headline: “Health Law Turns Obama and Insurers Into Allies” [New York Times]. Mission accomplished!

Imperial Collapse Watch

The drone program in Pakistan [The New Yorker]. I wonder if there’d be less blowback from a formally declared, open war?

Eric Frein’s “Dear Mom and Dad” letter: “[T]he time seems right for a spark to ignite the fire in the hearts of men” [Poconos Record]. Attention must be paid….

Class Warfare

Steven Rattner: US low on the Gini co-efficient leaderboard, until taxes and transfers are factored in, after which we’re #1! [New York Times].

News of the Wired

  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, et al.: A “non-naive” version of the Precautionary Principle shows “that GMOs represent a public risk of global harm [arXiv.org]. Yikes!
  • AT&T threatens capital strike over net neutrality [TechDirt].
  • WeWork is like LinkedIn, but useful [Wired]. Co-working offices from bricks and mortar. How Twentieth Century.
  • Google glass developers and early adopters head for the exits [Reuters]. Like those stupid barges, a project from a company that’s accumulated more capital than it knows how to invest, and can’t improve its core business.
  • Low tech security through boredom [Tim Bray].
  • A new DNA-based recorder allows bioengineers to create cell cultures that detect information in their environment and store it for later use [Nature].

* * *

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:


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. jo6pac

    Great headline: “Health Law Turns Obama and Insurers Into Allies” [New York Times]. Mission accomplished

    LOL and did anyone think it might help us on Main Street.

  2. trish

    re Parallels between lynchings and police killings in America

    “2. The excuses given to justify lynchings and police killings are tragically bad.”

    What, oh what would constitute a good excuse for a lynching? There exists no excuse, tragically bad or otherwise.

    I think there are excuses for police killings not “tragically bad” occasionally , less so more and more it seems, though I wonder if we’re just paying more attention now or more aware due to gadgetry (a good thing about gadgets)…rarely if ever a good excuse. I think of this:


    The nation f*cking grieved!

    Also, I would add to the list of parallels: lynchings and police killings are often (always in the case of lynchings) perpetrated by small men with small mean minds in order to feel big. The same mentality of those who bully and beat their children, their wives and girlfriends. or pets.

    1. trish

      and another if I may: There was not (ever), is not today, a societal outcry proportionate to the heinousness of the crimes. Our nation should be grieving these police killings and myriad other gross injustices occurring in this the land of Liberty And Justice For All…
      But, alas, no surprises here.

      1. dannyc

        Thanks trish for the Iceland link! That police shooting happened one year after the grammar school shooting in Newtown, Ct.. The grieving parents of the Sandy Hook school children have something in common with the grieving parents of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and they all have something in common with the grieving parents of the students in Mexico, which is, that the state is going to do nothing about it. Nothing is going to change.

        Iceland is the only state that is not a dystopia.

      2. James

        And y’know, that was my first take as well. Ferguson was never about getting the scumbag Darren Wilson for the dirty deed that he and his criminal accomplices no doubt know that he did, horrible as all of that was. It was ALWAYS about the idea that it could happen to ANY OF US for any reason or no reason at all on a mere whim, but even more than that, that it could happen to THIS SPECIFIC PERSON for no other reason than some scared racist white cop freaked out and had it programmed within him to shoot first(!) and ask questions later.

        It’s stupid and it’s a tragedy and it should NEVER have happened in the first place. And furthermore, the white cop who committed this crime and his white criminal accomplices should at least come clean about it and express some honest to god contrition. Absent that, this is just one more brick in the wall.

  3. Phil Perspective

    Mexico’s “rule of law” problem [WSJ]. It can’t happen here!

    Wow!! The author of that piece is just a frothing RWNJ, isn’t she? Is she an op-ed writer or a reporter? Either way, she’s awful.

  4. susan the other

    The overage on the Mexican massacre of 43 protesting students is good. It doesn’t get to the crux of the incident – naturally, but it does show that there is a concerted effort to prevent any information from coming out. As in most cases of this murderous nature, the government does not want to be tarnished with it’s own oxygen.

      1. psychohistorian

        Mexico is just trying to show its brainwashed northern neighbors what it is to stand up for basic human rights.

  5. Howard Beale IV

    To Avoid Government Surveillance, South Koreans Abandon Local Software And Flock To German Chat App: Techdirt

    The NHK digs deeper. Horror of horrors:

    But it’s hard to win back trust once it’s been lost. Many users have switched to a German chat app called Telegram. It had 50,000 users in early September. Now 2 million people have signed up.

    Lesson that our parallel government hasn’t quite learned: trust, once lost, isn’t very easily reclaimed.

  6. 00 00 00

    Re Mexican popular insurrection, tit for tat works good. It’s proportional and not destabilizing. You put missiles in Turkey, we put missiles in Cuba. You knock over our crooked Southern satraps, we knock over your crooked Southern satraps. Mass demonstrations, that’s the least of it. The fun part, as always, is exposing widespread systematic US government crime.

  7. auskalo

    NATO: Danger to World Peace

    “The forces in the United States and in western Europe who are seeking to avoid military folly risk being overtaken by what can only be called a war party. NATO and what it symbolizes today represents a severe danger because it represents the claim of western countries to interfere everywhere in the name of western interpretations of geopolitical realities. This can only lead to further, highly dangerous, conflict. Renouncing NATO as a structure would be a first step towards sanity and the world’s survival.”

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