2:00PM Water Cooler 1/28/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Democrats set fundraising record in 2014: $131 million [New York Times]. That’s a lot of money to light on fire and throw in the air.

Bernie Sanders adds three stops to Iowa trip [Des Moines Register].

Bernie would run against Wall Street, not Clinton [WaPo]. “The truth is, there is profound anger at both political parties.”

Hillary Clinton agrees to testify before House Benghazi panel [CNN]. If her voice can be heard over that high-pitched warbling sound.

“My own experience in the Clinton crosshairs stands as a good example of why her ‘old’ approach to the press often backfired” [Bloomberg]. Good luck to the Hillary campaign with the reverse beat sweetening. Of course, the press is never part of the story.

Dean rolls over, widdles as wingers froth and stamp after his American Sniper comments [HuffPo]. And I don’t even hate the guy! But Democrats should really stop doing this. Say it with me, HoHo: “I’m sick and tired of going on TV and apologizing just because some wingnut operative got his knickers in a twist.” Take the party back, mkay?


Let The Mittster be The Mittster, i.e., a Mormon [Bloomberg].

“Jeb Bush’s Secret Weapon” [The Hill]. Is it time for the wife story already?

Both Jebbie and The Mittster should give Iowa a miss [Boston Globe].

Principled Insurgents

Koch donors like Rubio, dislike Paul [Politico]. I am, very reluctantly, placing Rubio in the “Principled Insurgent,” rather than the “Clown Car,” category.

Koch Brothers hope to spend $889 bmillion in 2016 [Reuters].

Perry loses second request to dismiss criminal case against him for “abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official — two felonies” [Austin Statesman].

The Hill

Republicans lose cloture vote on Keystone [Talking Points Memo]. Reid is much better on defense than offense (which isn’t saying much, I grant).

Senate Republican trial balloon on eliminating filibuster for Supreme Court nominees pops [Politico].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Obama to helicopter in for Selma march on Saturday, March 7, instead of the march commemorating “Bloody Sunday,” March 8, which the locals have been holding for years, and for which people had already made plans [Alabama Media Group].


AG nominee Loretta Lynch, asked to disclose all media interviews in Senate Judiciary questionaire, omits her interview with CBS on HSBC, defending a cost-of-doing-business fine/no criminal prosecution deal after HSBC laundered Mexican drug cartel money [International Business Times].

“Shelly is only the (apparently) most talented and prominent crook in a system of governance practically custom-built to enable graft” [The Albany Project]. Can somebody who really understands New York State politics expand on this story? We’ve got “three men in a room,” which would be Silver, Bruno (the Republican leader), and Cuomo. And the sense I get of New York State corruption is that it’s a fabric a lot like felt: Fibres beaten together so closely that they can’t be separated. So how come we’re only hearing about Silver? And while we’re at it, Preet Bharara’s a former aide to New York Senator Schumer. Is Schumer Bharara’s backer? And what about another New York Senator, esconced with her famous, Foundation-heading husband in the pleasant hamlet of Chappaqua? And then there’s Wall Street. And New York Real Estate. If the New York State government is as pervasively corrupt as the Silver case seems to show it is, then how is it all the other power brokers have clean hands and, more to the point, pockets?

“The Monopsony Of Sheldon Silver [Albany Project, part one and part two]. Good stuff, especially “big data” style money-flow chart in part two.

TED talk on corruption from Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International [TED].


“Fearful voting shifts the whole polity to the right” [George Monbiot, Guardian]. Very encouraging on UK greens.

Former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes: “If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that ‘We won the war on terror and everything’s great,’ cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half” [PrivacySOS].”You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive.”

Health Care

Adminstration to overhaul Medicare payment structure with HMOs ACOs [Bloomberg]. From the same team that launched the ObamaCare website!

“[T]he government wants to link payments to how well providers take care of patients” [Businessweek]. For some definition of “well.” Maybe Rahm Emmanuel’s brother Zeke‘s “Go die if you’re over 75?”

“Data on Health-Care Price Variation Doesn’t Itself Solve the Problem” [Wall Street Journal]. Transparency’s not helpful when there’s a power asymmetry between seller (insurance company) and buyer (you, for example).

Indiana governor Mike Pence expands Medicaid, given ObamaCare waiver [Wall Street Journal]. “[S]trict requirements on some Medicaid enrollees to pay a portion of their premiums.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Reporters go to jail, torturers walk the streets. That’s Obama [Dan Froomkin, The Intercept]. Not to mention banksters.

DEA proposed tracking license plate numbers at gun shows to Justice [Wall Street Journal]. Nutty, especially when there’s Occupy and peaceful Ferguson protesters to infiltrate, besides all that quality agent provocateur work. And so many banksters to ignore.


Mexican AG: “[T]he evidence allows us to determine that the [43 missing Ayotzinapa] students were kidnapped, killed, burned and thrown into the river” [New York Times]. 100 people arrested, 39 confessions “obtained.”

“The 43 Mexican students who disappeared four months ago were murdered on the orders of a drug cartel who mistook them for members of a rival gang” [Reuters], based on the testimony of a hit man [Fusion]. Yeah, oopsie [nods head vigorously]. From way outside, it doesn’t even look like the elite can construct a coherent narrative on this, evidence of serious dysfunction.

At a news conference Tuesday, the parents of the students refused to believe authorities, even suggesting the Mexican military (!) might’ve been behind the disappearances [CNN].

“Earlier this month, a student from the group who escaped the massacre implicated the army in the disappearance” [Independent]. Of course, I’m bringing my biases to this. I’d welcome commentary from people who know Mexico much better than I do.

Class Warfare

“[S]o far all of the gains of the recovery have gone to the top 1 percent” [New York Times]. Quality work from Obama on this. He even did better than Bush!

The 1%, state by state [HuffPo]. $274K in Maine, $678K in Connecticut. $555K in DC.

Thoma quotes huge slab from one Daniel Little on French “Marxist” theorist Althusser, complete with diagram [Economist’s View]. Refreshing, but that diagram should have reminded somebody of E.P. Thompson’s “Orrery of Errors.”

News of the Wired

  • A cautionary tale on Google’s AOL-level customer service, as designed by Franz Kafka [Calfrog].
  • Comcast ghost-wrote politicians’ letters in support of Time Warner Cable merger [Boing Boing].
  • Index to Surveillance Self-Defense [EFF].
  • “I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back” [The Onion].
  • Genetically modified mosquitos to be released in Florida Keys to eliminate dengue fever and chikungunya [The Atlantic].
  • “SEE: Chanel Spring/Summer 2015 Haute Couture” [The Fashion Law]. I want candy.
  • “They’re Made Out Of Meat” [Terry Bisson]. 800-word SF story. But the accidentally shorter version does it for me.
  • Wow, there really is a Buzz Rickson’s [Guardian]. Riveting interview with William Gibson (but then I like Gibson a lot).

* * *

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):


Yet moar orchids, very nice in winter!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the heating season!

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. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    That’s a lot of money to light on fire and throw in the air.

    A lot of Beltway consultants filled their pockets. A lot of right-wing Dems lost to Wall Street’s other candidates.

    Wall Street will happily send them more to get the same results next time.

  2. James Levy

    The New York State Constitution is a labyrinthine relic in which bills must be presented jointly in the Senate and Assembly for consideration. This means that the heads of those bodies get to coordinate what gets put forward and what gets canned. Given that the Senate and Assembly have been gerrymandered into pretzels in order for the Republicans to permanently hold the Senate and the Democrats the Assembly (in a state where registered Dems outnumber Repubs 2-1) this means that the whole process is hostage to those “three men in a room” (the Governor, who has to draw up the budget and the heads of the two houses of the state legislature). The entrenched party machines make sure that only compliant non-entities are nominated for each chamber, which is easy as almost all seats are safe seats so whomever the party nominates gets elected. And since a seat in the legislature is effectively a political road to nowhere (few ever seems to leave or rise to a higher office) they have every incentive to “make hay while the sun shines”. Add the fact that the state is actually three distinct regions (NYC, LI and Westchester, Upstate) whose relations are defined by antipathy or indifference, and that the media in NYC pay no attention to the sausage-making in Albany (they like to portray NY governors as “players” on the national scene but could give a rat’s ass about the legislative process) and you’ve got the recipe for the corrupt dysfunction that is NYS politics.

    1. Paul Harvey Oswald

      Yeah, I thought that was a little high. On second thought, let’s see how this plays out before we make the call.

    2. optimader

      That’s still a lot of super slurp carbonated beverages for Sarah P.

      So it would be idly interesting to know how much of the “Koch-network” money is actually directly from the Koch Bros, and how much is from “affiliates”, and how much of the est. $899MM gets laundered though Koch owned/controlled entities to their financial advantage?

      I’m guessing they don’t let go of money to easily.

  3. Vatch

    “[S]o far all of the gains of the recovery have gone to the top 1 percent” [New York Times].

    I suspect this is a slight exaggeration. The opinion piece says that the bottom 99%’s average income dropped from $44,000 to $43,900. It is extremely unlikely that the incomes of the bottom 99% dropped by a uniform percentage. I recall that the Tcherneva chart showed that the top 10% experienced about 120% of the post collapse recovery. In other words, the top 1% has probably had to share the recovery with at least a portion of the remaining people in the top 10%. Admittedly, it’s possible that only the top 2% or 3% have experienced improvements since the collapse, so the claim about the top 1% probably is close to being correct.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That seems likely. See here. They’d want to share a few crumbs with their lawyers, accountants, lobbyists (and in fact, from their perspective, that would be trickle-down, one degree of separation’s worth). Just not with the servants outside the gated community.

  4. roadrider

    Re; Pence/Medicaid

    By itself this illustrates one of the largest flaws of the ACA (and there are many) – unequal treatment depending on where you live (equal protection anyone?). But the situation is actually much worse. I can see this approach spreading to states like mine – Maryland – with new Republican governors out to slash budget deficits and Dem legislators anxious to appear “bipartisan”. So we’ll all get treated equally – equally poorly. And not to mention that Obummer is cutting Medicaid reimbursements so we’ll be paying premiums despite having less than poverty-level income for an ever-shrinking pool of doctors, especially primary care physicians, who are willing to accept our coverage

    1. Carolinian

      I do. The Dems could start their own Arkansas Project except their future candidate was the target of the first Arkansas Project.

      Bush/Clinton….mebbe the Constitution needs a new anti-nepotism amendment. No hereditary fiefs.

    2. optimader

      Yeah that was a good trip reminiscing down the media memory hole.

      I wonder what Mitts’ wife smuggles in her horse’s body cavities when it returns from dressage “business trips”?

      ” His wife “feels horrible”, he said.” (ed: about being caught)

      Her husband wants to draw a line under the affair. “She has apologized,” (ed: for being caught) …”he said earlier this week. “She feels horrible about it” ( it= being caught),…. and I love my wife more than I love life.”(ed: I wonder if he can propose a practical demonstration of his sincerity for us?)

      But at least the take away is:
      “All these years, I found that being a good wife for Jeb is my most important role, no doubt,” (no doubt)
      I wonder if she drinks cologne to self-medicate on her bad days when she can’t shop? Maybe that s harsh.. ahhh what the heck everything is going into moderation anyway!

  5. vidimi

    re: mexico
    i remember reading somewhere that the students were incinerated 100m from the local army base. it beggars belief that the army played no part as does the suggestion that any powerful institution would have remained uncorrupted.

    when even the highest levels of government are criminal, the idea that the army remained virtuous is farcical.

  6. Carolinian

    Looking forward to this; oh to be in Park City.

    Two weeks later, everyone reconvened in Chicago for what soon became known as the “fortress convention” due to the enormous police presence occasioned by the hordes of protestors in the city. Great footage shows Vidal being joined by Paul Newman and Arthur Miller to check things out first-hand, Haskell Wexler was in town shooting Medium Cool and there are even rather speciously used clips from what is misleadingly stated as the Vidal-written Ben-Hur to illustrate his comparison of the American empire to that of ancient Rome.


    Vidal is greatly missed….Buckley not so much.

  7. OIFVet

    “Bulgarian Village in Ukraine Kicks out Military Recruiters”. 500,000 ethnic Bulgarians live in Odessa, Zaporozhie, and Nikolaev oblasts. Lots of potential resisters added to the predominantly Russian-speaking population of these areas. It is probably easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to get Bulgarians to fight Russians. Draft dodging is apparently quite widespread with this round of mobilizations, even in Western Ukraine. So the question is, can Ukraine afford to hire a hundred thousand PMCs once it runs out of Ukrainians willing to fight in Kiev’s fratricidal war? I think that peaceful refusal to participate is the best way to end the war.

    1. James Levy

      No matter who is to blame, the fact on the ground is that if the Ukrainian people were as united in their love of Ukraine and determination to maintain its territorial integrity as we’ve been told they are, they should have been able to field a force large enough to snuff out the Russian-supported easterners months ago. The Ukrainian army and security forces were firmly in Kiev’s hands, and they had plenty of weapons to arm a sizable force in 1950s style (automatic rifles, mortars, tube artillery, main battle tanks). Yet they completely botched the situation and have had trouble raising and training a respectable army despite a clear advantage in population and territory. For all the Maiden talk, they seem decidedly deficient in Ukrainians actually willing to die for Ukraine.

      1. OIFVet

        “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” I wonder whether Kerry meant it when he asked that, or if he was simply charting his climb up the ladder. The Ukrainians appear to be answering that question with their feet and voices. Yet this fratricide will go on for a while anyway, in part because the US will pull the strings on their Kiev puppets for as long as it can.

    1. hunkerdown

      Why give attention to those whose motives are well-known and generally accepted by all? Anyone, including their own, already knows that the GOP seeks to reproduce the 1790s, and they rarely claim otherwise.

      More to the point, why are you in here running interference for wolves in blue-sheep’s clothing on a daily basis?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Nice deflection from what the brother of Obama’s former chief of staff actually said. Kudos to afisher. With that out of the way–

        That’s exactly it, hunkerdown. There’s no reason to go around screaming “Water is wet!” We have Kos to do that. We expect Republicans to behave like Republicans. Even today, I find it shocking to have a prominent Democrat — “the Mommy Party,” right? The party that’s all about empathy? — sending elders the message that they should consider their lives over at 75. But then, as we see with the unequal implementation of ObamaCare, the Democrats are entirely willing to throw millions of people under the bus; they are just a little less obvious and a lot more devious about it.

  8. D. Mathews

    L.S. of C.: I’d welcome commentary from people who know Mexico much better than I do….
    I don’t recall ever visiting the state of Guerrero (not even Acapulco, but then I’m not the touristing type); however colleagues point me to this (which I translated):
    Two days earlier, in a press conference, the families had already demanded the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) investigate the involvement of federal armed forces and the Federal Police in the attack and subsequent disappearance of the students, as well as in the obstruction of the search.

    These claims are based on new leads published by Proceso 1989 to the effect that on September 26th, through the Guerrero Control , Command, Communications and Computation Center to which have access both state and federal forces, or C4, both military of that battalion and federal police were aware of the route the students of the Ecole Normale Rural Ayotzinapa intended to take, and the persecution they were subject to in Iguala, where they were ambushed and 43 were missing, … for on Saturday, 6 were identified by DNA analysis and the remains student Alexander Mora Venancio were confirmed.

    There is more in the article (Anybody read Spanish?), but I just don;t have time to translate.

  9. MikeNY

    *sigh* My heart belongs to Bernie Sanders.

    I agree that Rubio does not belong in the clown car. He’s smart and he’s telegenic.

  10. Howard Beale IV

    Snowden And Schneier Point Out Another Reason Not To Undermine Internet Security: Information Asymmetry: TechDirt.. Notable quote from Snowden:

    We have compromised their networks, according to the NSA documentation, since 2010. We have been hacking North Korea successfully, and yet it didn’t provide us a lot of detail, it didn’t provide us a lot of information. We missed missile launches, we missed nuclear tests, we missed leadership changes, we missed health issues, we missed military drills. And we even missed the Sony attacks that they launched, even though we were eating their lunch over and over, over the course of years. But then they hack us once, just one time, with Sony, and everyone in the nation is rending their garments and going: ‘this is terrible, they’re attacking our basic values,’ because it was so much more valuable to them to win once, than it it was for us to win thousands of times


  11. Howard Beale IV

    Flo and Eddie v. Sirius XM Radio: Have Two Hippies from the 60’s Just Changed the Course of Broadcast Music? Nova Southeastern University

    The implications get bigger when you consider YouTube. Here are The Turtles performing “Happy Together” on YouTube. The lead vocals are live, but everything else is mimed to the original sound recording. If YouTube is not currently paying Flo & Eddie for this performance, then they’re going to have to start. The bigger question is, does the DMCA “safe harbor” provisions apply to pre-1972 sound recordings? The New York state appeals court has ruled that it does not. A New York Federal Court says that it does. That ruling is currently under a special appeal to the Second Circuit to resolve the question. If the answer to the question is “no” then YouTube has committed copyright infringement every time the video containing a pre-1972 sound recording has been streamed.

    Big Media just got a serious castration here.

    1. hunkerdown

      I suspect they’ll grow back quickly. Remember when some rando staffer pulled a fast one in reconciling the Satellite Home Viewing Improvement Act to extend work-for-hire rights past the agreed-upon 35 years and got hired as a lobbyist by the RIAA?

  12. Howard Beale IV

    European counter-terror plan involves blanket collection of passengers’ data
    Exclusive: European commission plans to request 42 items of personal information about air passengers: The Guardian

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