2:00PM Water Cooler 1/26/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


I love this cartoon; in the end, it may show the most enduring and least predictable effect of the Syriza victory. It reminds me, in both execution and theme, of the famous New Yorker cartoon: “Let’s all go to the Trans-Lux and hiss Roosevelt.”

(NOTE: I’d link to the original in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, but I can’t find it.)

Herd on the Street

European stocks shrug off Greek news [Wall Street Journal]. Ditto the Euro.

Wall Street opens flat [Reuters].

Hedgies bet oil will keep dropping [Bloomberg].


Campaign advisers say the likelihood of a Clinton campaign went to 100 percent right after Christmas, when Clinton approved a preliminary budget and several key hires [Mike Allen, Politico]. April launch.

Top Democrat donor on fundraising after Clinton announces: “It’s going to be like nothing you’ve seen. The numbers will be astounding” [The Hill]. In a good way, one assumes.

The cottage industry of Clinton hate [New York Times]. Brokers between oppo and the press…

Meanwhile, Jebbie pities the poor immigrant [Yahoo News].

Republicans shut out Univision from presidential debates [HuffPo].

Walker in Iowa: “When he said he won reelection as Milwaukee County Executive in an area where President Obama won by a two-to-one margin, some in the audience gasped” [The Hill]. I told you to watch this guy. He stomps Democrats. The base likes that.

Bats at the “Freedom Summit” in Iowa [Bloomberg]. Sounds dull. Attending: Christie, Walker, Cruz, Perry.
Christie forms PAC, hires aides [New York Times].

Republican Clown Car

Palin muses on 2016 [Politico].

Donald Trump muses on 2016 [Independent]

Kos considers run for Congress, in Barbara Lee’s district, CA-13 [New York Times]. It would be sweet to see one of those tough Richmond Greens take him on.


New York Democrats proceed with fundraiser for Sheldon Silver February 9 [Capital Times]. So awesome.

Silver on the hook with state probe, besides the Feds, for never revealing his financial involvement with Goldberg & Iryami, a small firm that represents developers [New York Daily News].

“Law Firm at Center of Silver Scandal Donated Huge Sums to Dems” [New York Observer].

Rahm could be forced into run-off by weakly funded opponent [Reuters]. This goes under corruption because Rahm.

America the Petrostate

ICYMI: “3 billion gallons of wastewater were illegally injected into central California aquifers and that half of the water samples collected at the 8 water supply wells tested near the injection sites have high levels of dangerous chemicals such as arsenic and thallium” [Desmogblog]. But jawbs and groaf!

Some Colorado lawmakers say cities that ban fracking should have to pay the owners of the mineral rights who are impacted, and the cost could run in the millions of dollars [CBS Denver]. Of course, if we had decent retirement security, this wouldn’t be such a concern.

Two months after Illinois opened the door to hydraulic fracturing, only one company applied [WaPo]. “Smart people don’t invest in things that break-even.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“He fits the description” [Mediaite]. Yeah, he was a black guy!

The cascade of failure in the Tamir Rice shooting [New York Times]. From Rice’s standpoint, at least.

How subprime nuked Prince George’s County, VA, ” the wealthiest majority-black county in the United States. It was also the epicenter for mortgage failures in Maryland” [WaPo].


Health officials are scaling back the amount of consumer data shared with private companies [The Hill]. “It’s unclear the scope of data on the site still available to third parties.” Shocker, huh?

Healthcare.go sign-ups near 7.2 million [Modern Healthcare].

Why Republicans must have believed that ObamaCare subsidies were universal [The New Republic]. Not sure how this process esoterica will play on cable. Gruber is also on record disagreeing. Such a mess. Can we even know what legislative intent was?

Class Warfare

DeBlasio is trying to blend liberal politics and identity politics, but that can’t be done [New York Times]. “Politically, economic populism trumps identity-group appeals.”

News of the Wired

  • What political boundaries would look like in the U.S. organized by watershed (handy map) [Community Builders]. In other words, organized by what should be treated as Common Pool Resources.
  • “To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients” [New York Times]. Because ka-ching. Raw evil.
  • Business leaders’ study: Climate change threatens corn production in Illinois and Iowa [AgWeb]. So I wonder how climate denialism will play in 2016’s Iowa primary?
  • “How the Civil Rights Movement Shaped Latino Urbanism in East L.A.” [KCET].
  • R. Crumb on the massacre in Paris [Observer].
  • Sanity may have returned to the student loan situation while nobody was looking [New York Times] (and “sanity,” I’m told, comes well-attested). Of course, education pre-K–16 should be public and free; loans shouldn’t enter in the first place.
  • “Washington’s Obama generation might be more aptly named the Bartlet generation” (the West Wing, for old coots like me who don’t own a TV, or watch it) [Front Porch Republic]. Good long form.
  • Hedge fund managers are preparing getaways by buying airstrips and farms in remote areas [Guardian]. Remote like Mars? Seriously, I hope some of ’em come to Maine; we’ll be ready for them.

* * *

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):


Moar orchids, very nice in winter!

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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. sufferin' succotash

      Yes. There is such a place as Prince George (not George’s) County, but it’s in VA.

  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    I throw up in my mouth a little every time I read our choices for 2016: Bush, Clinton, maybe Mitt, Sarah, Ted, Chris, and now Donald. All of these soulless petty corporo-fascists need to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves: what is America, anyway? What’s it here for? Is it just a giant trough for the super-rich and connected to feed at? Or an actual country with actual people whose needs and aspirations should be represented and addressed?

    1. sleepy

      I’m thinking that “normal” American politics has played itself out. They don’t even make a serious effort at pretending anymore. I have no idea what comes afterwards,

    2. MikeNY

      Some evil part of me hopes that the Donald and Palin actually DO get in the race … just for the entertainment value. Hilarity would definitely ensue.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Hillary ran a coronation ceremony of wall to walls ads in 2007 well before anyone heard of Obama (not quite but you get the idea). She really isn’t likable, and voters hate to be told who to vote for. Since they are focused on numbers instead of policy once again, Hillary will tank even faster. Bill was reelected in 1996. No one under 36 will even care about an also ran.

  2. ambrit

    An appropriate response to “Hedge fund managers … buy airstrips and farms…” will be, “Pissed off hedge fund victims buy anti aircraft rockets to shoot down hedge fund managers’ jets.” Maybe Duffelblog will have the story, “Reformist unit commanders render hedge fund managers. Camp X-Ray complains of overcrowding.”

  3. Kyle

    “Hedge fund managers are preparing getaways by buying airstrips and farms in remote areas [Guardian]. Remote like Mars? Seriously, I hope some of ‘em come to Maine; we’ll be ready for them.”

    Let’s see. Do I have this right? The fundies are going to the boonies to make their getaway?? Welp, no wonder the country is in such a mess. These people are idiots. The boonies is where the bubbas hang out! So they’re going to the part of the country where the people most likely to be happy about them ending up at the bottom of a well exist? Ah hah, hah, hah, hah, hahh!

    1. tomk


      They’re already here and they keep the locals pacified by hiring us to build their $30,000,000 mansions and enjoy (raking and grooming and shoveling snow) their properties the 50 weeks of the year they’re not around. We also cook and clean and make art and music for them. They tend to be quite nice if a bit oblivious to the evil of the economic dislocation their capital hoarding creates.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Idiots indeed! I can’t wait to watch them try to milk a bull They’ll starve to death on that farmland before any bubbas get to them ;)

      1. Kyle

        I do give them credit for being smarter than that lyman. They’ll hire someone else to milk the bull. :)

    3. Randy

      Yeah…the claim to deal with the hedgies when they come to Maine made me wince. I hope you do! I lived there for six years went to Bowdoin, wish I was there now. Tired of fifteen years of NYC.

      1. ambrit

        Oh B—s! It being France, the poor sod has to prove the law wrong. As “they” say, one mans’ terrorist cartoon is another officials’ freedom fighters’ testament.

      2. Ned Ludd

        A 16-year-old high school student was arrested and indicted for posting something similar on Facebook.

        The teen lives at home with his parents, has no prior judicial record and, according to prosecutor Yvon Ollivier quoted by French media, he does not have a “profile suggesting an evolution toward jihadism.”

        The boy told prosecutors that he posted the cartoon because he thought it was “funny.”

        The media reports do not include the drawing – presumably that could put journalists afoul of the law.

        I wonder if French journalists have raised much of a fuss over government censorship of the drawing.

    1. optimader

      I’ve been wondering on Crumbs reaction, I’m surprised I missed this somehow thanks for posting. Crumb does a solid as expected.

      Crumb’s comment on US journalism (and satirical/political cartooning) is right on as well.

  4. afisher

    Climate Change – don’t read the comments – the responses are pure denial mixed with more than a tad of stupidity. sigh.

  5. Llewelyn Moss

    re: California Aquifers Contaminated With Billions Of Gallons of Fracking Wastewater

    So Fracking injection fluid contains Arsenic And Thallium. Gee they like to call it “Salt Water”. Apparently a lil saltier than we thought. That Frackers have an exemption to the Clean Water Act is testament to just how Fascist this country has become.

    Obama, the Fracker-In-Chief, will historically be credited with the permanent destruction of the entire US aquifer system.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I understand most Californians in Beverly Hills have triple-filtration water in their houses…perhaps even for their lawn sprinklers as well (when you’re rich, you can afford many things).

      Please stop being such an alarmist.

      EOS (end of sarcasm).

    2. MRW

      We produce worse in China with rare earth production needed for wind turbines. We have destroyed Chinese rural people’s farms and lakes. Radioactive waste.

        1. ambrit

          Ah, yes. You just reminded me of the scene from the movie, “Lonely Are The Brave” where Kirk Douglas shoots down the Bell Helicopter with his 30/30 lever action. (Bill Bixbys’ first role; getting shot down by Kirk Douglas!)
          If anyone wants to see what the clash between Individual and State can look like, this would be a good place to start. Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo; he of Blacklist fame and “Spartacus.”

  6. jo6pac

    “Kos considers run for Congress, in Barbara Lee’s district, CA-13 [New York Times]. It would be sweet to see one of those tough Richmond Greens take him on”

    This won’t happen in less kos get queen nancy p. blessing. BL use to be a real progressive but over the past 6yrs not so much. nancy p. might want a team player like kos. Yes a Green from Richmond would be great if only to watch nancy head explode.

    1. hunkerdown

      So Mr. Moulitsas ought to fit right in, then, as a compliant and productive careerist who understands extremely well what his present stop on the ladder entails?

      And are you quite sure Ms. Pelosi’s the more powerful of the two? Going by their respective constituencies and the strength and objects of their devotion, I’d think it much easier for the corporate media journo-hack to take down the corporate incumbent aristocrat than vice versa.

      1. cwaltz

        Kinda what I was thinking…. I wonder when he was making his site if he was thinking eventually if he was loyal enough he could take a ride on the train. It would explain a lot.

        1. Vatch

          For what it’s worth, here are a couple of articles from the Kos website about the House Democrats who voted in favor of HR 37:



          As a reminder, here’s an NC article about HR 37:


          1. hunkerdown

            It’s worth something, to watch the whole two-year field goal cycle unspooling again. A brief quote from their Sportnight segment: “When Democrats behave badly, we must lay the groundwork to hold them accountable” along with vague symptoms of unease among staffers.

            Oh yes, I too will dearly enjoy watching that carpetbagger wearing Richmond Greens egg on his face.

  7. MRW

    Yves, use the snow downtime to watch Adam Curtis’ latest: Bitter Lake. You need a VPN to penetrate the Great Britain-only restriction. Search for BBC iPlayer for the link to his film. It’s about 2 1/2 hours, actually less, just.

    1. Clive

      I knew it was a masterpiece when there was a clip from Carry On Up the Khyber. But then when we had Blue Peter with Valerie Singleton taking the Afghan Hounds to a parade on The Mall, well, I just thought I’d died and gone to Heaven.

  8. Carolinian

    Re The West Wing–it’s not surprising that our current generation of silly politicians should have been inspired by a silly tv show. It says all you need to know about Aaron Sorkin that in The Social Network he depicts Larry Summers as kind of a cool guy. Insiders like Sorkin don’t bash other powerful insiders as long as they are on team D. Sorkin is a big believer in the meritocracy and so he helped inspire enthusiasm for a real perfesser President who, as the writer of the above piece admits, quickly proved The West Wing was all bs. But the article is only a little rueful about this…far too mild.

    Personally I prefer House of Cards–nothing but villains off to the horizon. Turns out the political set loves that show too which may seem contradictory but not really. As far as they are concerned the main thing is it’s a show all about them.

  9. Howard Beale IV

    After The “Syriza Shock”: Now Comes The Hard Choice Of Escape Or Merely Re-setting The Terms of Greece’s EU Servitude: David Stockman’s Contra Corner

    What is it what these Liberterain cranks? They know they’re 100% right, if only the TPTB would listen to them. They, more than anyone else, should know that someone will ALWAYS rig the system to their advantage, and there isn’t shiite they can do about it. Praxeology, y’know……

  10. Bart Fargo

    Re: Grexit? Cartoon

    I found the original from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press website. Although the cartoon could certainly apply to the Syriza victory, sadly it has nothing to do with yesterday’s elections in Greece, but rather was published with the title “Obama Wins” on Nov 7 2012. The smiling servants really ought to know better after Obama’s first term…


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, that’s too bad. But I’m happy to hijack the cartoon to a better purpose! (Would have been a lot more true in 2008, not 2012, and the faces of the servants had grown pretty long by the time 2010 rolled around…)

    1. ambrit

      Now that I looked at the link you provided, I realized anew why I have nothing to do with Facebook. Look in the top right hand corner of the initial page; Who To Follow. The short list reads, in order: Ellen DeGeneres, Barak Obama, and Jimmy Fallon. Three so called entertainers. Three minions of Corporate America. Three people who make their living deceiving the public.

  11. ambrit

    Re. Yanis is Finance Minister:
    Hooray! (We understand he must deal with the dictates of his PM and Party, but his University Staff experiences might give him an exposure to rough and tumble politics to draw on for inspiration.)

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