2:00PM Water Cooler 11/6/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“The Democratic Party may invite us into the maze to get lost, but we don’t have to enter” [Kevin Gosztola, FDL].

“History shows the wreckage of democracies killed from within. And yet America has rallied in the past…” [Jeffrey Sachs, FDL].

BloombergPolitics: “The Cognitive Dissonance Election” [Bloomberg]. Not really; we addressed the seeming contradictions this morning.

All the Senate polls drastically overstated Democratic support, and how they ranked [The New York Times].

This story on Democrats, demographics, and turnout only uses the word “strategist” three times [New York Times]. Now that’s news!

How Wendy Davis lost [WaPo]. Sure, not enough votes, but also no ground game and no message, despite her leap onto the national stage with the filibuster against yet another Texas Republican pregnancy conscription bill. Lots of fundraising and consultants though, so ka-ching!


And so the Republicans fell to fighting among themselves …. [Bloomberg].

Republicans already start to blame frontrunner Clinton for midterms [Bloomberg]. This article, too, meets the “three uses of the word ‘strategist'” baseline. And I’ve got to say, this is the bestest justification for anonymous sourcing I’ve seen in some time:

Clinton should draw two main conclusions from the results, according to a Democratic strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the former secretary of state at a time when she is laying low.

Eesh. Help me.

Nobody could have predicted this, but after their midterms debacle, Democrats might kick the left [Salon].

It could be fun if the Republicans impeached Obama, but it’s a million to one they’d do it on red meat issues like ZOMG!!! Benghazi or Fast & Furious, as opposed to (say) Obama whacking U.S. citizens without due process, shredding the Fourth Amendment through mass surveillance of (digital) “papers and effects,” or dereliction of duty for not prosecuting any banksters for accounting control fraud in the Great Financial Crash. Oh well [Salon].


How “skin in the game” works in the Magnolia State [Kaiser Health News].

“It said, $6,000 deductible and 40 percent co-pay,” [waitress Wylene Gary, 54,] told me at the check-out counter, her timid drawl giving way to strident dismay. Confused, she called to speak to a representative for the insurer Magnolia Health. “’You tellin’ me if I get a hospital bill for $100,000, I gotta pay $40,000?’ And she said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’”

Never mind that the Magnolia worker was wrong — her out-of-pocket costs were legally capped at $6,350. Gary figured with a hospital bill that high, she would have to file for bankruptcy anyway. So really, she thought, what was the point?

The tips on those $6.95 lunchtime specials don’t add up to $6,350 any more than they add up to $40,000. That’s what Acela types like Kruggers don’t get, because they don’t experience it, or know anybody who does; a person can drown in six inches of water just as well as six feet.


Great headline: “Republican Takeover of New York Senate May Aid Cuomo’s Centrist Brand” [New York Times]. So if Hillary stumbles…

Great headline: “N.Y. Senate Takeover by Republicans Seen Thwarting De Blasio” [Businessweek]. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

How corrupt Democratic thug Cuomo played the Working Families Party [New York Times]. The WFP leadership should do that Yakuza thing with the little finger or, better, ritual immolation.

Stats Watch

Jobless claims, week of November 1, 2014: Layoffs are down right now, report is “certain to build confidence” [Bloomberg]. Confidence in our permanently shrunken, deskilled, and crapified workface. Because markets.

Challenger Job-Cut Report, October 2014: Rose sharply from a 14-year low. Layoff announcements were heavy across retail, computer, pharmaceutical, and telecom.  [Bloomberg]. Use with caution, since data does not distinguish between short and long-term.

Gallup payroll to population, October 2014: Workforce participation down slightly to 66.6 percent in October, from 67.2 percent in September [Bloomberg]. Everything’s going according to plan.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Atlanta police operating “Stingray” fake cellphone towers to secretly intercept calls [11Alive]. Ferguson take note!

Harvard secretly photographed thousands of students as part of attendance study [Talking Point Memo]. Well, I’m sure slaughterhouses photograph cattle going down the chute, so why can’t Deans photograph students? What’s wrong with these people?

European Austerity

100,000 march against austerity after month-old “free market” Belgian government proposes austerity measures [Deutchshe Welle], with sporadic violence [Reuters], the largest since WWII [NBC].

More marches planned every Monday [Straits Times].

Central bank governor Luc Coene: “The people who go on strike against these savings measures, are actually saying to their children: get lost. I find that really bad” [Reuters].

Railroads sold cheap tickets to encourage marchers to attend [Agence France Presse].

The Walloon union of enterprises, UWE argues that the government was trying to preserve a social model, not destroy it [Europe Online]. Belgian domestic politics are complex….

Hong Kong

Four-hour skirmish in Mong Kok, reportedly triggered by protester shining cellphone like into cops’ eyes [Asian Correspondent]. Is that even possible?

News of the Wired

  • Astronomers predict the discovery of 20,000 alien planets over five years from the European observational satellite Gaia [Daily Galaxy].
  • The US has pathetically slow computers for numerical weather prediction, while others load up on orders of magnitude more petaflops [Cliff Mass Weather Blog].
  • Bill Watterson designs French comiccon poster [International Business Times].
  • Larry Page says Google has outgrown its mission statement; hilarity ensues [Another Word for It].
  • Secret file of UK establishment pedophiles locked away in the Bodliean may be opened [Independent]. The “Dickens Dossier,” and not Charles.
  • How Guy Fawkes became the face of post-modern protest [Economist]. I hate those masks. Not only are they creepy, they have no coherent message. I mean, at least the black bloc types are anarchists, when they’re not cops, anyhow. Not all forms of resistance or protest are to be encouraged; Germany in the 30s springs to mind.
  • Drone-shot pr0n (NSFW) [Vice]. Not really pr0n; erotica.
  • A calligraphy master’s album [BibliOdyssey]. I do feel something can be lost with digital…

* * *

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 (tia):

Crabapple and locust

Crabapple and locust. I should be smarter about planting trees.

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. Yves Smith

        It’s almost certain the “real” number is $12,350. The out of pocket max is barely over the deductible. Seems implausible that she’d pay only $350 (which would be her share of $583 in medical bills) before 100% coverage kicks in. As this site indicates, whether the “out of pocket maximum” includes the deductible depends on how the insurer defines it. For my policy, the out of pocket max does NOT include the deductible.

  1. diptherio

    My question is, will the WFP learn it’s lesson from this totally-unforseeable turn of events? Who wants to bet that they learn their lesson from this screw-job and try endorsing the better candidate next election cycle? I’m giving 5 to 1 odds…against.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I hear that Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu can rack up 30-40% in NY without any party behind them….wonder if WFP might just give them a call?

      1. diptherio

        I would bet that they’ll use the same (flawed) logic next time: better to support a bad Dem who has a good chance of winning than an outsider with little chance of winning (I’m told that insurgent candidates can often get 30% of the vote “for free,” it’s that last 21% that’s a bugger…decreasing marginal returns and whatnot).

        That said, any WFPers out there, hold your leadership’s feet to the fire on this!

        1. kj1313

          There was a comment on one of the other thread that was wondering about the Green Party. I do think we have to be wary of ineptitude. It does not take much to be more competent compared to the other 2 parties.

        2. hunkerdown

          Who needs that last 4%? Let the useless celebrity quarterbacks draw off the useless 66% just like them and you only need 3-4% to win…

    1. Yves Smith

      Sachs has been generally sound of late. It’s as if he’s trying to repent for his earlier work. But you have to watch him, some of the bad old thinking still creeps in.

  2. wbgonne

    Nobody could have predicted this, but after their midterms debacle, Democrats might kick the left [Salon].

    Good. Because this time we’re kicking back!

    From the article:

    Here’s the question nobody on the left wants to ask: are progressive Democrats poised to go the way of Republican Tea Partiers? That is, exiled to the margins and ignored as the party’s centrists seek to regain power? …. Democrats, especally those lined up behind Hillary, will be desperate to find a path back into power. We can hope that they won’t jettison progressives along the way, like the mainstream Republican Party did with its Tea Party wing. But progressives shouldn’t be surprised if that is what unfolds in the near future.

    I hope they do it. I welcome their hate. Bring it on, mofos!

    1. grizziz

      What’s Rosenfeld thinking? Blue dogs lose, therefore blue dogs too blue, thus blue dogs must become red (purplish?) dogs. I dig the logic, but would not the strategic move to go to the right of the right and battle the republicans from behind?
      Hillary could call for an end to all taxes and prove that we can pay for our government through plunder of foreign lands. First up, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. So easy, we could conquer them before noon and have the budget balanced before tea.

      1. hunkerdown

        That might play to the plebes, but that won’t play so well to Saudi Arabia. Rumor has it that one false move on their turf and downhole dirty bombs make the spoils *extremely* unattractive at the touch of a button.

    2. grizziz

      What’s Rosenfeld thinking? Blue dogs lose election, therefore blue dogs too blue, thus blue dogs need to be red (purplish) dogs. I dig the logic, but why not choose a strategy of going to the right of the right and attack the Republicans from behind.
      Hillary could campaign on repealing all taxes and claim that we can fund out government through foreign plunder. It would be so easy to take Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We could conquer them by noon and balance our budget by tea.

    1. ambrit

      If you know the right people, just park one of those mobile MRI “offices” next to target tower and turn it on with a window opened in the direction of tower. The radiation spike might fry it. Also, try to get some of your Traffic Division cop buddies to have some fun aiming their radar guns at target tower. If those methods don’t work, “borrow” a RPG from a National Guard friend and try that. Extensive field testing has proven out the last method. Happy hunting!

        1. ambrit

          Mofos indeed. I suspect that anyone accessing this site goes on the Political Suspects List. Anyone actually commenting here, well, I assume it’s like hand grenades and pregnancy; close is good enough.
          (Thanks for the tip off, but I already live in the Empire.)

    2. hunkerdown

      Spoofing would be interesting, but I think more interesting yet would be to alert on their presence. The rub lies in getting hardware with which to test countermeasures — somehow I don’t think I’d be able to just walk into a Harris sales office, ask for one, and walk out a free man.

  3. Carolinian

    Early Republican attacks on Hillary are a good thing because it’s likely the only way she is going to be elected is if the Republicans–and the money boyz,–let her win.While she might have have seemed a “least bad” version of a Dem presidential offering in 2008 (I confess to being one of the deluded), that fantasy has been dispelled by her stint as Secretary of State. We should be giving Rand Paul talking points.

    1. neo-realist

      Unless Jeb gets in the running, its a pretty weak republican field that Hillary would have to deal with-a lot of fire and brimstone righty types that may not play well on the national level. How could an anti civil rights legislator like Rand Paul do any better outside of the red states?

      1. Carolinian

        Yes that’s the usual view but I suspect the Repubs could do better if they set their minds to it. As I say above the question is how much do they want to contest Hillary. There’s the conventional wisdom about her “inevitability” but she’s an incredibly weak politician with tons of baggage. After all in 2008 she was also supposed to be inevitable.

        And I only mention Rand Paul because he was the one making today’s attack.

        1. afisher

          Rafael is hiding for a few days – as he running away for actually trying to lead the GOP – which would be a show of leadership – or lack thereof – and so yep, in hiding.

      2. Yves Smith

        Hillary looks terrible physically and is not well liked as a person. The Dems are relying heavily on the female voters supporting her and that bombed in these elections. She’s also a classic neoliberal, and voters made clear that they are no longer buying what neoliberal Dems are selling. So I fail to see why you are optimistic about her chances. She’s tainted on a number of fronts, including by being part of the Obama administration.

        1. neo-realist

          I’m not saying she’s great, but the strident right wing views of Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio would not sell on a national level and I could see them flubbing big time in a broader national campaign—fire and brimstone conservatism doesn’t sell on the national level (Goldwater 64) as it does in the state and local campaigns. Nuanced velvet glove conservatism wins national elections (Reagan and W). Jeb Bush as I said (Polished, well organized, well supported and financed by the elites and a velvet glove conservative) could beat Hillary.

          I’m not optimistic about her against Jeb, but against the other republican dwarves, she looks much better by comparison as long as the way she looks isn’t indicative of serious health problems that would knock her out of the race.

          1. wbgonne

            Nuanced velvet glove conservatism wins national elections

            Spoken like a whipped dog. You are indeed Ready For Hillary!

            1. neo-realist

              By the way, no Hillary banners in my living space. This was a green voter in 2012 and very likely one in 2016.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Agree! Gorgeous! The photo is stunning and this fall has been generous to everyone with it’s colors.

  4. McMike

    The fake cell phone towers don’t so much intercept calls as they do track the phone’s location. Although they do apparently capture the called number (I think). The cops allegedly cannot listen in (this could be a lie though).

    But what is striking is the claim by DAs that a public-private business contract secrecy trumps criminal legal discovery. Private Equity fund pension fund vendors take note!

    I love the extra whine by the DA that the private provider company might threaten to take their toys back and go home. My God how far we’ve fallen that he could say this with a straight face. It’s just wrong on so many levels.

  5. vidimi

    fast & furious isn’t just a “red meat” issue: it’s a major issue that contributed to the astronomical murder rate in mexico directly, and probably a host of other catastrophies indirectly

    1. McMike

      That’s a bit of hyperbole there. It was a few hundred guns and couple hundred murders, tragic, awful, not impeachable.

      Point remains, a dumb plan by the cops and subsequent cover up when it went (badly) south is not on par with the range of impeachable and treasonous offenses available to review, should the GOP be sincerely interested in Executive crime, rather than scoring political points and riling up their base, while submerging a bunch of ordinary people in a scandal far above what they deserve (hello Ken Starr).

      And going after dumb gun distribution ideas is the height of hypocrisy for the GOP.

  6. Marianne Jones

    Back to NC’s Wikipedia entry…last I finished cleaning up the citations for the entire page using reflist, with one exception. Somebody included a citation for a free ebook that Yves wrote.

    The Scribd ebook Now appears deleted. Is that document available still? If yes, where?

    Overall the article is now structurally cleaned up and ready for inclusion of substantive additions.

      1. Marianne Jones

        I’ve already amped up the intro, added a basic reporting section, and structurally improved the article. For the last couple of years I only followed the Links / 2:00 PM Water Cooler posts, so for my points #3&4, other people are in a better position to add good content.

        1) I’d like to flesh out the intro a bit more, still thinking on it.

        2) The personal section is rough and I intend on fleshing out with details from the Aurora Inv bio.

        3) The reporting section should be greatly expanded. A paragraph for each major subject areas that the blog covers and the positions that NC takes on those subject areas.

        4) Other activities should be added, example the Calpiers FIOA lawsuits and the reporting of such. Are there any other real world initiatives happening along the lines of the FOIA lawsuit?

        5) Reference to the eBook ought be fixed. If there is a good link available, either reply to this post, or direct email me with link. If no longer on the web, it still can be used as a footnote, but I need the book details. Need name of the author(s), title of the book, publisher, publication year, chapter & page for reference included on Wikipedia, ISBN if available.

  7. steelhead

    Little off topic but when Michelle O uttered the “fried chicken” quote it was inevitable that the R’s would run the table…

  8. Brindle

    Another nice sentence from Kevin Gosztola (FDL):

    “I had no tribal or partisan reaction to the Republican victories. And it was liberating.”

    Hopefully, more and more will be seeing the light.

    1. grizziz

      Thanks for the link. I wonder which part of the story Pierre Omidyar did not think was funny enough for First Look Media.

      1. psychohistorian

        Yeah, if this doesn’t wake up a few more of the blind Omidyar followers I don’t know what will. It seems clear that Matt wanted this story out there and was getting push back…..and just what does this say about the current relative value of Omidyar’s stable of “journalists”?

        I hope Snowden is finding others to release and promote his whistle blowing efforts since his current group is seriously compromised.

    1. sleepy

      We have had a wonderfully warm autumn here in Iowa. A week ago I was comfortable in a t-shirt, and only in the past few days have there been hard freezes, down to the low 20s.

      I still have some petunias, and a delphinium rebloomed last week in the warmth.

  9. cwaltz

    I disagree with the “deskilled” comment. Every different job type requires skill sets and I’d argue that dealing with people is not as easy of a skill set to acquire as it is made out to be. The problem isn’t with the skill set issue as it is with the fact that people seem to not recognize that service sector jobs also require skills. The skills in question may not require a formal education, however, once upon a time BUSINESS didn’t require a Masters either. The lack of requirement of formal college education should not mean it should be consider unskilled. The fact that so many places have such crappy customer service is in my opinion a complete culmination in the lack of respect that is shown for the skill set necessary to deal with humans and all the problems that come with dealing with them.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      OK, fair enough. (I remember a hospital orderly making the same comment during the ebola panic. There is a lot of human interaction to being a hospital orderly, beyond the mechanical aspects of the job, and it takes about a year to learn IIRC.) So I mean no disrespect to the workers. But, to take a small example, cashiers don’t have to figure change any more. That may be a good thing, but it is deskilling, no?

    2. hunkerdown

      Amen… especially in a gratuitously “diverse” society whose members spend most of their days talking to their machines. “Psychological labor” is a thing and it ain’t getting any easier.

    3. ambrit

      In the Big Boxx Store I worked in for several years, the emphasis on “the floor” was shifting from ‘meet and greet and sell’ to ‘meet, sell, escape to next sales opportunity.’ Although small in appearance, the psychological shift was immense. Customers were being objectified as a matter of policy. Treating everyone you meet as a “mark” to be taken advantage of requires a depersonalization both exterior and interior. Retail is self selecting for sociopaths. Going Postal is just the beginning. (I’m beginning to suspect that Nixon and his henchmen knew exactly what they were doing in their ‘breaking up’ of the U.S.Postal Service.)

  10. prostratedragon

    This week saw both the election of George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, as Texas Land Commissioner and a voted-in ban on hydraulic fracking in the city of Denton, TX. Right away, it looks as if those two facts are headed for an encounter in the courts of Texas, via a lawsuit just filed against the Denton ban by the outgoing Land Commissioner. Details from Steve Horn, no doubt soon to be featured here, there, and everywhere, as well they should be. (Then we can read them twice:o); some of our “friends” are there, enough that it might take a couple of readings to overcome the sense of vertigo.)

  11. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re Big Bro’: … “What’s wrong with these people?”

    Insightful question, Lambert.

  12. Kim Kaufman

    re what happened to Wendy Davis – some people here (CA) looked at her but she was not against fracking – and other issues – and nobody paid any further attention to her. Candidates who are hoping to get elected by not offending anyone do not seem to be getting elected.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      You are right. She was a one trick pony which is okay for transportation and education because those are every day issues people discuss. A young mother doesn’t care about abortion-related issues as much as she cares about schools. One issue is nice, but the other one makes her demand the other car pool moms vote. My younger sister and I were shocked to find out as adults our mother had a miscarriage. Apparently, it was a big deal, but we only heard about it because a cousin had a miscarriage. My parents kept the miscarriage a secret from my older sister. Abortion and a host of issues don’t come up in everyday conversation and doesn’t present an opportunity for message reinforcement. Everyone deals with the same pot hole. Fixing a pot hole. That will win elections.

  13. Jeremy Grimm

    The link you gave to the calligraphy master’s album is fantastic. There may be something lost in the digital realm but the many rare images the web makes available compensates for their lack in tactile qualities. That blog site links to all kinds of images, and other similarly rich sites.

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