2:00PM Water Cooler 12/24/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers:

I am seriously under the weather, hacking up little bits of lung, and so this Water Cooler will be shorter than it should be. –lambert

Herd on the Street

Dow 18,000 triumph [Bloomberg].

S&P mulls junk rating for Russian sovereign credit outlook, as Central Bank to help leading exporteres refinance foreign debts [Reuters].

South Korea indicts Uber CEO Travis Kalanick [Fortune].


5 takeaways from Jeb Bush emails [CNN]. If the article is to be believed, there’s only one: There’s no story here.

Warren’s war against Wall Street [David Ignatius, WaPo]. The congealed conventional wisdom.

“[N]ot much about Clinton that is bold or transformative” [Times-Picayune].

What surprises about Warren is how conservative she is [Shreveport Times].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Giuliani: “A short man in search of a balcony” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer].

Fatal Cop Shooting of Teen in Berkeley, Missouri Sparks Clashes [NBC].

A grand jury has decided not to indict a Houston police officer in the January killing of an unarmed black man, according to a local ABC News affiliate [The Hill].

Ashley Yates, co-creator of Millennial Activists United: “So our level of commitment is what you would do to fight for your life” [Rolling Stone].

New York protesters reject DeBlasio’s plea for a hiatus [Reuters].

Stats Watch

Jobless claims, week of December 20, 2014: Fell 9,000, down slightly month-on-month [Bloomberg]. “[H]ealthy conditions in the labor market.”

Consumer comfort index, week of December 21, 2014: Seven year high on gas, employment gains [Bloomberg].

Rapture Index: Down 1 on global turmoil [Rapture Ready].

Class Warfare

Is wage stagnation the new normal? [Brookings]. Yeah, for a generation. Are these people from another planet?

Unemployment can be bad for your health [New York Times].

Comcast hands out “priority assistance” cards to Washington influencers who complain about service [Washingtonian].

News of the Wired

  • My mother’s generation—the Gloria Steinem generation of equal opportunity feminists—had fought and failed to create a system for working mothers, i.e., affordable day care for infants and toddlers, preschool for kids, and aftercare for school-age children [CalAlumni]. And that’s what stalled the gender revolution.
  • “Death Row Guard Has Always Had Soft Spot For The Innocent Ones” [The Onion].
  • Seattle Police hackathon on “redacting” bodycam videos [Geekwire].
  • The Idiot’s Guide to Cricket Writing [ESPN].
  • Geographical distribution of “dude,” “bro,” etc., with handy map [Quartz]. Not in New England, pal!
  • Plato, Sartre, Derrida and other philosphers explained through 8-bit video games [Open Culture].
  • Impacts of the tsunami in Indonesia, ten years on [New Statesman].

* * *

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 (MM):


Readers, naughty and/or nice, I’m still feeling more than a little angst over fuel, now that the heating season in Maine is upon me, so any help you can give will be appreciated! Thanks to you, I am still just half a tank ahead. I would like to be a full tank ahead!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat:

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. Manny Goldstein

    Wonderful article on cricket writing. Now, if someone would just explain the Sri Lankan dancers in the stands.

  2. optimader

    lambert– a couple fingers of brandy, level alarm high on fluids and go fetal under the goosedown for +12 hrs.
    hope you are better soon –Merry Christmas..

  3. Ned Ludd

    How many people know that, to use her own words, Gloria Steinem was “a Central Intelligence Agent”? From Bloomberg:

    Aiming to thwart the appeal of communism, the CIA and its forerunners co-opted labor unions, magazines and universities. They created scores of bogus committees and phony associations — groups of Soviet-bloc emigres, artists and intellectuals, students, blacks and women. […]

    Gloria Steinem, the future feminist, has acknowledged that she worked for a CIA front, the amusingly named Independent Service for Information, whose purpose was to undermine a Soviet-bloc youth festival in Vienna. Tom Dooley, the celebrated humanitarian doctor in 1950s Vietnam, had no issues with his CIA cash, Wilford reports.

    Neither did Eugene Groves, the president of the National Student Association — until he finally decided the organization could no longer live a lie. The outing of that program by Ramparts magazine and its crusading editor, Warren Hinkle, exposed a spectrum of suspected front organizations, embarrassed the U.S. government and blemished the CIA for a generation.

    This video appears to be an interview with Gloria Steinem, where she discusses receiving funds “for international programs from the C.I.A.”

    Gloria Steinem: When the story broke that I had once been, that I had for four years been a Central Intelligence Agent, I was demonstrating outside the Pentagon, underneath Mr. McNamara’s office against bombing in Vietnam. And this didn’t precisely fit with the image of a C.I.A. agent, but, then, neither does the C.I.A.

    Does anyone recognize who is interviewing her? Also, The Village Voice reported, in 1979, that Steinem was able to censor an article about her C.I.A. connections, having it successfully removed from an anthology that Random House published of the Redstockings’ journal, Feminist Revolution.

    1. bruno marr

      The televison staging and Steinem’s wardrobe makes me think the interviewer is Chet Huntley? (He was a well-known news presenter “Huntley-Brinkley Report”.) But it’s just a guess. Though the voice sounds like a reporter who was on TV then, but is now (or recently) the leader of prestigious School of Journalism (Howard something?).

      1. bruno marr

        …okay, I’ve replayed the video again. The opening shot is not of Chet Huntley. The interviewer was a well-known major network TV journalist: I believe it’s Marvin Kalb.

        1. Ned Ludd

          I’m not familiar with Marvin Kalb. A post on the website of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, where he was the founding director, makes it clear that he shares Steinem’s anti-communist sentiment.

          Regarding Korea, Truman, who years before said that “if he ever had to send American troops anywhere in the world, it would only be with the approval of the U.S. Congress,” bypassed Congress and instead sought approval from the U.N. for war with Korea. The threat of communism advancing into the free world was such a direct threat, Kalb pointed out, that action was needed immediately.

          From his background, I would guess that he might be a bit friendly, himself, with Three Letter Agencies. From a New York Times article about Kalb’s appointment as the founding director of the Shorenstein Center.

          Mr. Kalb, who has a master’s degree in Russian and Chinese studies from Harvard, was poised to begin work on a dissertation to complete a doctorate there when he was abruptly invited to go to Moscow with the State Department in 1956.

          I don’t know if the interviewer is Kalb, but if Steinem was looking for a friendly interlocutor for a discussion about her C.I.A. funding, he would have been a good choice.

          1. dimmsdale

            Yep, Marvin Kalb, a longtime CBS News correspondent in the 60s and 70s. Not sure when this was shot, or whether he was functioning as a CBS News reporter at the time. He had been one of the last of the “Murrow’s Boys” generation at CBS News. Wikipedia also says he hosted Meet the Press (can you imagine, a real reporter, as opposed to a self-infatuated pundit, hosting Meet the Press? Sounds like an interesting program! Where can I watch?)

  4. Bill Frank

    As police, their unions and politicians take the offensive against “anti-police” rhetoric, a line is clearly being drawn in the sand. The “us vs them” fever is rising rapidly. So much for a meaningful debate about the issue. Like virtually every other substantive issue, the ministry of propaganda, aka msm, only tolerates just a little before it goes about it’s real work.Sanitize, hypnotize and tranquilize.

    Get well Lambert and holiday cheer to all the NC family.

  5. diptherio

    Doubting the “dude” “bro” map. Somehow “buddy” beats out “dude” in my area…whatever, dude. I don’t know anybody who says “buddy” on a regular basis, while “dude”s are everywhere. “Bra” would probably be a close second, if I had to guess. Also popular (though not represented on the map): homie, holmes, dawg, home-skillet….

  6. tommy strange

    this site is now the best USA site in the country. I don’t know how you have the time to do it. Just amazing.
    counterpunch is the best site for long in-depth articles. but NC, has such great links everyday. I gave scraps of my workers salary,and will give more. Thank you/

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