2:00PM Water Cooler 11/7/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

2014 post mortems

Pelosi: “I know where the money is. I know where to get it” [The Hill].

And Pelosi also knows how to set $400 million dollars on fire! [Roll Call]

Or a lot worse. Read this important post from our friend Gaius Publius [Down With Tyranny].

The House analysis is going to take more time, but if all current leads hold, Steve Israel turned a 35-seat deficit into a 61-seat deficit. You can talk “wave election” and “gerrymandering” all day, but when Dems don’t even compete in 21 winnable seats, your problem starts closer to home — the boss is throwing the race

21 low-PVI [Partisan Voter Index] Republican-held seats where Israel has either blocked progressives or protected Republican incumbents. Again, the boss is throwing the race. – See more at: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2014/11/bipartisan-corporate-establishment.html#sthash.gRpTEpUx.dpuf

(Emphasis mine.) As the saying goes: You don’t bat zero for the season without a plan.

Jared Bernstein: “The midterms were a big, dystopic groan from an electorate that knows something fundamental is broken and nobody’s trying to fix it” [WaPo]. It’s only a groan if nobody’s listening closely enough to make out the words. Neo-liberalism: The ideology that dares not speak its name.

Maine D: “Loss adds dimension to people” [Bangor Daily News]. One hopes. A very Maine thought, however; that’s the Marden’s business model: Turning damaged goods into profit.

2014 debacle wipes out D Triple-A pipeline to the majors [Politico]. But did “Democratic strategists” really think colorless apparatchik Mike Michaud was going to be a “star,” as the nation’s first openly gay governor? I bet they even told him “kid, we’re gonna make you a star,” the poor bastard; this is identity politics at its bankrupt, vacuous worst, akin to the PCCC guys who parachuted in and lost the gay marriage referendum when they acted like they thought Bangor was a big city, because it’s got a big dot on Route 95 when you look at a map, and so they never needed go north of the Boston suburbs in Portland.

D leaders knew a week before the election that the tide had turned against them [Roll Call].


Rs immediately go to work on Clinton [The Hill]. One reason Rs win is that they want it more.

“Four reasons Elizabeth Warren should run for president in 2016” [CBS]. Oddly, or not, none of the reasons are performance-based.

“The math” is even worse for Rs in 2016 than it was for Ds in 2014 [NBC]. It really is kayfabe, isn’t it? The good guy is gonna come off the canvas, I just know it! (For some definition of “good guy,” of course.)

49 brands placed on a political spectrum based on the percentage of their brick-and-mortar stores that are located in D or R districts [Time]. Of course, the single dimension chosen can’t account for either geography or class. If you choose a linear scale, you optimize for polarization!

Thumbsucker on bipartisan co-operation [Pew Research]. Personally, with this crowd, I’m all for gridlock. It’s always possible to make things worse.


Supreme Court to hear Burwell challenge to ObamaCare subsidies [Modern Health]. And they watch the election returns….

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

FBI agent impersonates a reporter [Talking Points Memo]. Well, last time I talk to a reporter!

In a letter to the Justice Department last week, the AP requested Holder’s word that the DOJ would never again misrepresent itself as the AP and asked for policies to ensure the DOJ does not further impersonate news organizations.

They asked for Holder’s word?

Stats Watch

Employment situation, October 2014: “[M]ixed. Payroll jobs advanced but below expectations. The unemployment rate ticked down again. But wages remained soft. The data will let the Fed remain loose” [Bloomberg]. No rate increase. Labor force participation steady year-on-year, lowerst since mid-70s [WSJ]. But why you should stop talking about the labor force participation rate [Quartz]. One reason: Conservatives will.

America the Petrostate

Pressure builds for Cuomo fracking decision [Capital New York].

“Fracking looks set to be an issue that exposes political fault lines for years to come” [Scientific American].

Big new pipeline for Marcellus Shale gas through Philly [Philadelphia Inquirer]. What could go wrong?

Imperial Collapse Watch

Obama even worse than Bush on executive war-making powers [The Atlantic]. And — this will surprise you — he flat-out lied about it.

Hong Kong

Students no longer planning to visit APEC, ask for talks with Hong Kong government [Bloomberg].

“Durable” Occupy Central still revealing splits between Hong Kong and mainland, and within Mainland factions [Asian Correspondent].

One country, less than two systems? [The Diplomat]. Mainland anchor babies (!).

Green Party

Hawkins grabs 5% of the vote, moves from sixth place on the ballot to fourth [New York Post].

Hawkins: “We want to organize county organizations in every county” [New York Observer].

Hawkins would like to be the campaign manager next race, not the candidate [Albany TWC News]. Hmm. Ursula Rozum?


Green Party Watch and Green candidates.

Note that the iron law of institutions applies to Greens, too. There are times when this observer looks at the Greens and sees a dysfunctional non-profit. Then again, dysfunctional non-profits don’t get 5% of the votes in New York State with no budget and Cuomo for an opponent.


City of Ferguson agrees to Federal Court consent judgment not to ban sidewalk protesters [St Louis Today].

Ferguson poll workers request photo ID, although that’s not mandated in Missouri [Think Progress].

ACLU follows up on FAA’s “press only” no-fly zone over Ferguson [ACLU]. Nice precedent! Just like Occupy, Ferguson is a lab for experiments in extra-constitutional authority.

Digital archive of Ferguson material from Washington University-based consortium [Documenting Ferguson].

Astronomy Domine

A cosmic confrontation between a huge gas cloud and the black hole at the centre of our galaxy [BBC]. No, this is not about the mid-terms.

Perhaps half the stars in our local universe are outside galaxies [RealClearScience]. INTJ stars!

News of the Wired

  • Cory Doctorow: “You’ve just made us all sharecroppers in Google’s fields for the rest of eternity” [Salon]. Very important.
  • How the Internet affects national sovereignty (and vice versa) [Bruce Schneier].
  • Networks without networks [Medium]. Beautifully-written long-form meditation on friendship, death, and operating system emulators.
  • Remember those mysterious Google barges? They were to be vast floating retail stores, but were scuppered by the Coast Guard over fire concerns, including lack of egress for the handicapped [TechCrunch]. Never trust a libertarian to design a vessel for more than one person, I guess.
  • Four of Atlantic City’s eight casinos have closed this year, throwing 8,000 out of work [Philadelphia Inquirer].
  • Great diversity in genitalia ensued as vertebrates adapted to a terrestrial lifestyle [LiveScience].

* * *

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):

Asparagus and honeysuckle

Asparagus and honeysuckle

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. k

    I have been registered Green in NYC for over a decade (as long as I’ve lived here) and I do think there is some dysfunction, in part because they have no transportation platform that meshes with any kind of environmental reality, but also because for the last 6 or so years they have left voicemail messages asking me to run for various offices! Me, who, I am sorry to say, has never done more for the Greens (aside from being registered as one) than to write a letter to the editor in favor of making it easy for all 3rd parties to get on the ballot.

    But I was pleased to vote for Hawkins (in part because Teachout wasn’t on the ballot and seemed to give Hawkins an indirect endorsement) and this year, instead of being asked to run for office myself, I got a robocall from Hawkins the day before Election Day asking me to vote for him. That’s the first Greens robocall I recall receiving and while it’s hardly a sign the organization turning itself around, it worked. And I prefer to take it as a good sign.

    1. dearieme

      When we moved to a new city in Britain, my wife was soon asked to stand for the City Council as a Conservative. She said “But I’m a Social Democrat”. They replied “That’s perfectly all right, dear, we are very broad minded.”

  2. New Deal democrat

    “Not in Labor Force, Want a job now” went up by almost 200,000 this month, and is close to 1 million higher than it was last November. This is not good news and is directly attributable to Congress cutting off extended unemployment benefits at the end of last year.

  3. voxhumana

    Quote for the day:

    “God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” – Voltaire

  4. Mark P.

    ‘Rs immediately go to work on Clinton [The Hill]. One reason Rs win is that they want it more.’

    The Rs will go to work for Clinton and the Clinton machine will go to work on them. That machine isn’t to be underrated. The way it nobbled General D. Petraeus as a potential Republican presidential candidate was almost a thing of beauty.

    Doesn’t mean Hillary will get elected, of course. But it’s looking more possible that 2016 could be a dynastic, Clinton vs. Bush context , with the U.S. looking ever more like Rome as it enters its civic decline. In that context maybe more of us plebs will hold our noses and vote for Clinton than Jeb Bush.

    1. James

      Personally, I’m hoping for a revival of the steel cage death match. Aging pols in tights! Now that there’s some kayfabe!

      Come on Jebster, you gotta WANT IT boy!

      1. Kokuanani

        At least with a “steel cage death match,” you could be assured that one of them would be permanently eliminated.

      1. James

        I’m optimistic, especially if she’s stupid enough to label anything as transparently obvious as a “Listening Tour.” I think Americans have finally regained their proper amount of cynicism after only – what? – 14 years now of “compassionate conservatism” mixed with “hopey change.” “Fool me once…” and all that. Lotta water still to flow under the bridge between now and 2016, but the one thing I’m absolutely sure of is that the hatred for the HillaBeast and all things Clinton (and D for that matter) is greater across the great swath of middle America where the conservatives still rule than the middling support for her and her kind is along the coastal slivers. And don’t forget, the Obama comedy show still has two more years to yield negative dividends. What could possibly go wrong? I’m much more inclined to expect an historic meltdown for the Ds in the next two years, and you know what? It couldn’t happen to better bunch of losers.

  5. RWood

    Prolly this seat has been taken, but:
    “The midterms were a big, dystopic groan from an electorate that knows something fundamental is broken and nobody’s trying to fix it”
    It ain’t broke, it’s been bought, broken purposefully, and is being renovated to taste.
    and I can’t source the following any more than what’s here:
    Hannah Arendt summarized the human cost of endless disruption:
    The world becomes inhuman, inhospitable to human needs—which are the needs of mortals—when it is violently wrenched into a movement in which there is no longer any sort of permanence.
    so…there’s a storm a’comin’

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    One country, two systems.

    That’s us right? You were thinking China?

    One system for the 0.01% and another system for the 99.99%.

    There, I have just traced the etymology of that phrase.

    1. ambrit

      “My deah! Get me to the fainting couch! Ah’m having an attack of the Vapours!”
      (We’ve had that socio-economic system in place for ever here Down South. Big Daddy says hi sugar.)

    1. jrs

      One time the boss made reference to how there was very detailed, and they made it seem rather incriminating, evidence not just on internet use but specific sites people were going to. I shrugged, must not be me. Any site I’d go to at work is boring, half of them just news and politics, politics of any flavor is pretty boring for that kind of insinuation. Unless …

      they mean NAKED capitalism, which is afterall often listed as a porn site. Yea, looking at nudies at work (do plant nudies count?)

      1. James

        I had a fellow worker key in on that one time too. She’s so gullible I had to laugh as I broke it to her. Unfortunately, she’s also pretty uptight, so she liked it even less when I told her what we discuss. Didn’t like the idea that anyone would be critiquing capitalism, especially at work, one little bit! Does have a little irony, doesn’t it?

        I was encouraged by reading in the article so many other people are disillusioned at work too. It’s not like I’m not productive. I’m one of the most productive people I know, but I’m seriously underemployed, so much so that the egg-heads I work with actually think I’m stupid. Little do they know, that actually benefits me nicely!

        1. jrs

          Yea underemployed especially mentally in comparison to past jobs (and it’s not like they were deeply challenging or anything ha – just there are degrees of boredom).

          Articles like that do give me hope for humanity :)

          love it “Foot-dragging, shirking, loafing, and slacking are ways of avoiding work within the frames of wage labor. ”

          within the prison of wage labor accurately, within having to give them a minimum of 40 hours of your life or at least appear to. Who wouldn’t rather work very hard at work and work 2 or 3 hours less a day and go home? But that’s mostly outside the frame of current wage labor. The frame is a prison, man in a box.

          “Involuntary slacking may first be conceived of as real bliss: “Hey, I don’t have to work!” one of my interviewees recalls. But as the years pass by, most of us will crave some type of meaningful activity.”

          Sad. Reason enough to be anti-capitalist even if capitalism provided material goods for all which it increasingly doesn’t.

          “Our economy produces inequalities in income and job security, but also, we should acknowledge, in stimulation and substance.”


  7. mike

    When Quartz leaves out the well distributed graph of the growth (or not) of the labor force by age groups, you know the purpose of the article.

  8. dearieme

    “Four reasons Elizabeth Warren should run for president in 2016″

    (i) She’s a fake Cherokee.
    (ii) Fake Cherokees are a despised minority and need special privileges in compensation.
    (iii) She’s had to cope with discrimination all her life, especially in wangling that job at Harvard.
    (iv) Even a fake Cherokee is preferable to Hellary.

  9. wbgonne

    Fake Cherokees are a despised minority and need special privileges in compensation.

    Same for idiots.

  10. lee

    Remember the Stasi? BBC America is as I type and without irony reminding us of the evils of that ultimate, for its time, surveillance state that was East Germany. The tons of paper files on East German citizens are horrifyingly impressive. I’m sure our own digital files will take up much less space and spare ever so many trees.

    1. wbgonne

      We are post-parody, I guess. Also this:

      In a 75-minute call with the members of her caucus, the minority leader acknowledged the Democrats’ “terrible year” but argued that low voter participation — not the party’s message — was the root of the problem.

      As if the two things aren’t related. This person is in leadership?

        1. wbgonne

          Man, I’m seeing a lot of this “analysis” from the Democrats apre Shellacking 2. Differential equations, demographic square roots, whatever it takes, they will get to the bottom of this unfathomable mystery. OTOH: I believe Upton Sinclair has something to contribute here (as he often does):

          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

          1. lee

            I just saw the truth revealed on PBS Newshour. And to paraphrase Jane Austen, the message was perfect in that it was too brief.

            David Brooks: This should be a golden left-wing era, given the financial crisis and rising inequality. But, as Mark Shields noted in same exchange: the Dems ran a campaign with no economic message.

            1. James

              David Brooks: This should be a golden left-wing era, given the financial crisis and rising inequality. But, as Mark Shields noted in same exchange: the Dems ran a campaign with no economic message

              Criminy, how could they? Their actual base, the 1%, knew damn well how good the economy was for them and didn’t need to be reminded. After all, they paid for the privilege in the first place. Their alleged base, the 99%, knew damn well how bad it was for them, and wouldn’t have believed them for a second anyway.

        2. Paul Niemi

          Apparently the DCCC believes “message” is a verb: to message. “We lost an opportunity to message immigration there.” I think it is futile to attempt to communicate anything to them, anything perhaps beyond the writing on a pink slip. These are blockheads.

      1. trish

        post-parody, perhaps.
        I don’t know…me, I feel I’m being pushed to the edge of what I can take…
        when I read the quote there at the bottom of the piece, like a punch line, this giddy sort of giggle came out – and I’m not generally a giggler. I feel like I’ve been too long in this fun house of a country with these hideous people, all their distortions,their lying self-serving manipulations and phony public-servant speak, while they shill for their corporate cronies and enrich themselves…

        I still don’t fully understand why so many voted R, voted either of these corrupt parties…why not leave the ballot blank as a protest, if no good alternative (ie Green). I mean: “2-to-1 margin said they expect life will get worse for the next generation…two-thirds said that the economy favors the wealthy.”

        like the Rs are gonna help here?

        actually, I do understand…all so depressing…

    2. skippy

      Ida Lowry… I mean Nancey Pelosi… with knee pads on is a bit rough for an early Sat morning, Lambert.

      Skippy… more important things like the G20 lock down coming around here, I mean how much grog do I need to stock up to get through it all, should go naked w/ multi colored paint circles and holding a placard stating my unbound devotion for the neoliberal deity – as his high speed motorcade passes not two blocks from my house, or fang it up to the beach and ban all electronic media devices…???

      1. psychohistorian

        Hey skippy!

        I think if you are that close to the G20 you should advertise for increased NC readership with a sign or something. Its not like the “press” won’t need some local color…..

        I think this G20 might show a bit of strain, what do you think?

        1. skippy

          @trish… I think Ida Lowry could be the poster child for this epoch.

          @psychohistorian… mate this is going to be the most non confrontational G20 eva, hell even our free market state PM Newman had to order shop keepers within the hermetically sealed enclosed compound section of the city to stay open. We have become a Potemkin village for this event as most just want to get away and that includes all kinds of sundry eateries and bric a brac shops.


          Skippy…. Seinfeld in Parliament


          PS. is it possible to hold up a parody to a mirror and project that image into infinity? I only ask as we seem to be trying real hard too/

    1. cwaltz

      We can never spend enough money killing people.

      Nevermind that more elderly people have died in THIS country from not having the money to afford medication AND other bills then Americans ISIS has killed there.

      The clear solution is to starve the elderly and spend the money killing a group that to date has killed a single American.

  11. Jeff W

    “One country, less than two systems?” That Diplomat piece looks mysteriously like a Bloomberg article.

    The protesters in Hong Kong may not leave till this coming June, the LA Times reports, which is when Legco is supposed to vote on whatever the new method for electing Hong Kong’s Chief Executive is. (In an previous comment, I had said March or April—oops.) The Times reiterates the point that the pan-dem legislators will not vote for any proposal that does not meet international standards.

    Meanwhile, more tone change from Beijing:

    Beijing will pay more respect to the “two systems” element of the post-handover formula for Hong Kong while also stressing its “one country” aspect in the wake of the Occupy protests, a source familiar with the central government’s thinking says.

    Beijing would make “appropriate adjustments” in its policy towards the city, said the mainland official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    “The central government is now attaching more importance to the Hong Kong question and will make appropriate adjustments in its policy towards the city,” the official said.

    The official said the protests had achieved the students’ goal of getting their voices heard by Beijing and they should now end their action as soon as possible.

    Although the official said Beijing would not retreat from the strict framework it laid out for the 2017 chief executive election…the remarks were hailed as refreshing.

    My completely uninformed guess is that, at their pow-wows at the luxurious Bauhinia Villa in Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Beijing officials are trying to figure out a way out of this mess that they’ve created for themselves—and they can look at the legislative timetable, count votes, and gauge the protesters’ determination to stay put as well as anyone.

    Given that government steps to quell the protests have served only to energize them and earn sympathy for the protesters—and that any bloodshed would have even more severe repercussions than anything caused by the protests so far—maybe the safest course from the Chief Executive’s point of view would be to pedestrianize Chater Road, declare it an arts district, and call it a day—at least until June. (Or the government could take a stab at making some meaningful concessions, aided by some refreshing “appropriate adjustments” from Beijing.)

  12. bob

    “Remember those mysterious Google barges?”

    Better lesson from that story- If you want something done right, call the coast guard.

  13. Constipational Fracas Authority

    Re the Atlantic’s feckless moaning about crap US law: It would be interesting to trace the drafting of the War Powers Resolution and the AUMF because they have these odd quirks in the language relative to the UN Charter. The bills do not dovetail with the UN Charter, though they ultimately have to, since the UN Charter is supreme law of the land.

    Used to think that was due to legislators’ ignorance, but it does seem to come in handy. For example, the War Powers Resolution uses the word hostilities instead of force. As we see, this permits Obama’s CIA handlers to play word games that avoid the authoritative guidance of international case law. The AUMF does use the word force, which has international case law to govern its meaning and legal consequences, but it tacks on the weasel words “necessary and appropriate.” Necessity is one of the legal criteria governing use of force under peremptory norms of international law. However, the other criterion is proportionality – not whatever “appropriate” means. So here again, the war machine can try to talk past the international community.

    These inconsistencies of language work like the heartbleed “bug” that Stephen Henson and Robin Seggelmann insinuated into SSL. They poke big holes in protections, legal or technical. It all smells like spooks.

    Interestingly, the Rome Statute amendments defining the crime of aggression clamp down on those shyster tricks by making aggression a matter of fact. The legal theories you pulled out your ass don’t get you off the hook. And though the USG is running from the International Criminal Court, that’s just one forum. The ICC applies the same universal-jurisdiction law as the ICJ, and the US has a much harder time escaping the ICJ.

  14. OIFVet

    Change we can believe in: Rauner appoints Bill Daley to transition team. Sure didn’t take long for the supposed outsider to hook up with the known insiders. Now there are two former Obama chiefs of staff that Bruce Rauner can have bipartisan screw-the-little-people orgy with. Add in the good black misleader reverend Meeks to the transition team, and one gets the hankering to invest in charter schools (Meeks and Emanuel are both big charter supporters). Illinois, Land of Corruption.

  15. Greenguy

    Not to out myself too much, but I’m on the EC of the GPNYS and there are certainly elements of dysfunction but most of that has to do with the struggles of any small but growing political organization. The point, I think, is that we are trying, and we’re open and inclusive.

    1. psychohistorian

      And I thank you for being out there trying. It is assuredly quite frustrating, I suspect, to be cast as the party pooper in close races but still provide alternatives for when and if the populace gets a clue to vote for other than R and D direction.

      Please keep trying.

    2. wbgonne

      Yes, thank you for your efforts. One point I’ve seen mentioned by several people is the feeling that the Greens are not forging thr necessary bond with labor. This seems especially pertinent since the analysis shows the Democrats are hemorrhaging support from the white working class. I think the Green New Deal does address this but that apparently is not getting acorss. In any event, this seems like fertile ground if the GP can shake off its environment-only reputation.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    I was disturbed by the piece on Cory Doctorow’s new book and some of the implications he drew from the digital mechanisms for protecting copyrights. The current direction of patent law coupled with the widespread use of “agreements” between employers and labor — like engineers and scientists — have similar implications for invention and what is broadly referred to as “innovation.”

    “Design News” magazine is offering a series of 30 – 40 minute webinars next week that review techniques for protecting the intellectual property in hardware / firmware designs. More and more new art is and will be hidden. Without intervention by the state to repair patent law, trade secrets will obscure as much new art as possible. Patents already fail at their intended purpose. What’s next? — a return to guilds?

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