2:00PM Water Cooler 1/29/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Detailed report of Democracy for America conference call with Sanders [In These Times]. If he does run, it will not be as an Independent. Very interesting.

Hillary Clinton considers delaying start of her campaign ’til July [Politico]. On the one hand, what a blessed relief. Like no more Xmas music in the stores on Halloween. On the other hand, one more move to suck all the oxygen out of the room. On the third hand, maybe she’s just… tired?

Conservative movement infested with scam artists (not just cheap grifters like Gingrich) [Media Matters]. I hope the Koch Brothers get taken but good; that $889 million is a big honey pot.

Republicans hoping for Clinton-Warren dust-up [New York Times].


Home Depot’s Ken Langone lining up funders for Christie [Wall Street Journal].

Romney in Mississippi: “The great days of America have not ended” [Bloomberg]. “They’re ahead with the right leadership.”

Principled Insurgents

On Walker: “The judgments were virtually unanimous: The big winner of the first major ‘winnowing’ event of the 2016 Republican presidential contest, the Iowa Freedom Summit, was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker” [Talking Points Memo]. Of course, the “talking points” are Democrat, but the story quotes Republican pundits. So, told ya so.

Walker forms exploratory commitee [WaPo]. “If you’re not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results.” Wotta concept. Maybe Democrats could try it.

Walker seeks $300 million in cuts at the University of Wisconsin, and $220 million for a new Bucks arena [Journal-Sentinel]. Agnotology in action!

Clown Car

Sean Hannity of FOX, to Sarah Palin: “Did the Teleprompter go down, did you have trouble with the copy, was there any moment in the speech where you had any difficulty because people had been so critical?” [WaPo]. Hannity’s show is, of course, a meta-Clown Car.

Huckabee would like to abolish Marbury v. Madison [The Federalist]. Over gay marriage, too.

Huckabee’s problem is that a lot of other Republicans stole his act [Philadelphia Inquirer]. And then there’s the dog thing.

Third and fourth tier (non-)candidates — Carly Fiorinia, John Bolton (!), George Pataki (!!) — heading for New Hampshire, along with Christie and Perry [McClatchy].

The Hill

Obama nomineee for AG, Loretta Lynch, says “waterboarding is torture… and thus illegal” [Talking Points Memo]. So, any prosecutions in the offing?

“Exclusive: Spending- why ‘red’ states shoulder the deepest cuts under Obama” [Reuters]. Too bad it hurts the locals, instead of the local oligarchies.

Herd on the Street

Honeymoon for Microsoft’s Nadella’s over as earnings come in low [Wall Street Journal]. All the easy pickings are gone…

“[I]nvestors infer that the US Federal Reserve remains on course to start raising interest rates around the middle of this year” [FT, “Stocks mixed as traders ponder Fed runes”].

“U.S. stock futures rose Thursday, boosted by upbeat labor-market data and a batch of better-than-expected corporate earnings” [Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Stocks Waver Amid Data, Earnings”].

German inflation rate negative for the first time since 2009 [Bloomberg].

Stats Watch

Jobless claims, week of January 24, 2015: “[D]own a shocking 43,000 to 265,000. This is the lowest reading since April 2000” [Bloomberg]. But volatile!


Felix Salmon to The Moustache of Understanding: “Suck. On. This.”

More on Davos [Felix Salmon, Fusion]. And more on Freidman [Felix Salmon, Fusion].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Apparently it’s not OK to “stand your ground” if you’re a black woman, even when nobody dies [News One]. Marissa Alexander released in plea deal for time served, but has to wear an ankle monitor for two years. The beauty part? She’s got to pay for the monitor. Ferguson should try this sweet revenue-raising deal.

American the Petrostate

Massive fireball from pipeline explosion near Colliers, West Virginia [WTRF]. But don’t worry; it’s only right on the headwaters of the Ohio River.

Booker (NJ), Markey (MA), Menendez (NJ), and Ben Cardin (MD) come out against Obama’s plan to open up the Atlantic to oil drilling [Grist].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Snowden and Schneier: the West has far more to gain from well-wrought online security, and strong encryption, than it has to lose [TechDirt].

Barrrett Brown jailed, in part, because he shared a link to a stolen document that he did not steal, and despite the fact that this is not a crime [Boing Boing].

After Albuquerque prosecutor considers investigating cops for whacking a homeless man, Albuquerque cops start investigating her [Think Progess]. Here’s the long form reporting [The New Yorker].


Assembly Democrats: Silver won’t be speaker as of Monday [Ithaca Journal]. The worms twitch.

Class Warfare

New NBER working paper posits that economic factors—such as the cost of food and the type of jobs in your state—explain 37 percent of the increase in Body Mass Index in the U.S. from 1990 to 2010, as well as 59 percent of the rise in severe obesity, controlled for demographics [Bloomberg]. Yikes!

News of the Wired

  • “Comcast Renames Man ‘*sshole Brown’ After He Tries to Cancel Cable” [Wired]. Stay classy, Comcast!
  • Comcast [Github]. From the README:

    Comcast is a tool designed to simulate common network problems like latency, bandwidth restrictions, and dropped/reordered/corrupted packets.

  • The Onion has a Github repository [https://github.com/theonion]. For example, comcastifyjs. “Sometimes images just load too damned fast.”
  • Andrew Sullivan quits blogging [WaPo].
  • Author of Reagan’s Challenger speech: Nooners [WaPo]. And today we have Jon Favreau.
  • Litvinenko polonium poisoning case heating up again [Reuters]. Hmm.
  • Less and less “old ice” in the Artic (video) [climate.gov].
  • “Measles Epidemic 2015: A Timeline Of The Outbreak” [The Onion].

* * *

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):


MM sent me a whole batch of orchid pictures, so we could have an “Orchid Week”! Would an other readers care to do the same? I mean, with other plants, although more orchids would be great, too! (I feel like that great fictional Manhattanite, Nero Wolf!)

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. hunkerdown

    Comcast…. well played, Lambert (and Tyler and The Onion)! Comcastic has already become an accepted variation of craptastic… more genericization!

    Bernie… very interesting response in the comments from someone signed “Kevin Zeese”, suggesting ITT is freely mixing news with fantasy in order to satisfy the identifying narrative and seeking to remind faithful Democrats that hissing “spoiler” sells better than hissing “who told you to stop jumping?”…

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      From the link:

      She got referred to one of the company’s dreaded “retention specialists,” who apparently didn’t like being told “no,” . . .

      Comcast – taking the notion of “Anal Retention” to a whole new level.

    2. Kokuanani

      I continue to characterize Comcast as having gone into the Witness Protection Program and come out as “X-Finity.” [Needed to shed that Comcast identify because or horrifically bad service.]

  2. Ulysses

    Thanks for posting the awesome Boing Boing link! You have to admire Barrett Brown’s admirable courage and unbroken spirit after his sentence was handed down:

    “The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system.”

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    As to Hillary’s delayed campaign, scrutiny is her enemy, but judging from the articles about her nascent campaign, her outfit operates under the assumption her defeat was caused by the media waiting for a popular surge. Is there any genuine “ready for Hillary” presence out there? The answer is its old or shallow at this point.

    Well, the Moonie Times has a piece on Hillary and Libya today which more or less will insure a GOP congress with Hillary on the ballot. I doubt Hillary really wants to deal with Teabaggers everyday.

    1. sleepy

      I think Hillary would work as well as Obama with a teaparty congress. I don’t see that much difference between the two.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its not from Hillary’s side. The Teabaggers hate her more than Obama. The Teabagger element won’t sit still for Hillary, and they are at least 40% of the GOP caucus, and despite the victory lap of the GOP elite and Washington over the baggers, it should be remembered the Teabaggers beat anyone who voted for the bailouts in 2008.

        There will be pressure to go after Hillary.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      A link to the article that you reference is found near the head of this post at Moon of Alabama:


      Yes, consider the source; but also consider the substance alleged. The Secretary of State, in collusion with Susan Rice, and Samantha Power, on the basis of some pretty skimpy evidence (and shaded by her apparently unfiltered briefing by a Libyan opposition leader) bulled ahead on the project of initiating hostilities, initially under the false pretenses of “humanitarian intervention”, only then to seamlessly expand to a crusade to kill Ghadafi and his family. And all this while brushing aside strong trepidations expressed by top military leaders and members of the intelligence community about the likelihood of destabilization not only of Libya, but also of the region (like Mali, for instance, or of Nigeria through the injection of stockpiles of weapons and munitions from Libya) resulting from this precipitate course of action.

      And not only did this unleash the blood-dimmed tide in Libya and surrounding countries, but supplied the jihadis in Syria (and likely Iraq) via a Turkish/Saudi connection.

      So, any doubts about her support of her protege, Victoria Nuland, in her little stunt in the Ukraine should be resolved. First, play the sad, sad violin of human rights violations, and then quickly turn to active, armed regime change, brought about through your terrorist, Nazi pals in this instance instead of jihadis. Now you’ll have plenty of human rights violations. Score.

      And in both instances, you get to play your idiot EuroPoodles, making them contend with refugee flows and failed states just across the Mediterranean Sea, or at the edge of the EU. They get to pay for your mess, while you have simultaneously thwarted their economic possibilities going forward. Fucking brilliant.

      Well played, Madame Secretary. Murder, mayhem, horror, societal disintegration all around. The Empire of Chaos in its finest hour.

  4. C

    Walker seeks $300 million in cuts at the University of Wisconsin, and $220 million for a new Bucks arena [Journal-Sentinel]. Agnotology in action!

    The catch with this is that it puts the lie to two claims made by R’s in general and Walker in particular. The first is that they dislike welfare for the undeserving, and the second is that they are guided by what works in government spending. With this act he is proposing to cut education which has been shown to create economic growth in favor of government debt (they would not budget for the Arena but issue bonds to be paid back by … someone else) for sports spending which generally fails.

    UW Madison has been a big draw to the area luring Google and Microsoft among others to Wisconcin. Google didn’t come for the beer. Why you would replace spending to turn out educated locals who can lure and hold higher paying jobs in favor of a stadium that only generates jobs in scalping and hot dogs is unclear.

    Somewhat laughably he calls this “no risk.”

    1. Propertius

      Google didn’t come for the beer.

      I dunno: in the old days, Cray in Chippewa Falls was pretty much fueled by Leinenkugel’s.

  5. Hue

    Love the Onion piece on the measles.

    February 28, 1998: British physician Andrew Wakefield publishes the first in a long line of 0 scientific studies that link vaccines to autism


  6. diptherio

    Re: Albuquerque Police

    Samson Costales, a retired officer, said, “They tell us that we have to cover for each other, because we are a brotherhood, and brothers in blue don’t like rats,” a mentality that he said he learned from his training officers. “You don’t challenge another officer; you don’t testify against him—you lie if you have to. The code existed long before I was a police officer, and I can’t see it ever going away.”

    Just to draw the obvious parallel for those who are coming in late: there’s another group of armed men who don’t like ‘rats’ and who are prone to lie to protect eachother–the mafia (and organized criminal gangs in general). They have a name for their code: omerta. I wonder what the thugs in blue call theirs…

    I had a retired officer at an Occupy meeting tell me about policing a protest in Chicago in the 70s. Some crazy hippie came up to him and another officer and started cussing them out and making threatening gestures. He said he just had to laugh since he recognized the guy from work.

    1. LifelongLib

      I suppose the feeling is that the guy you complain about this week (or his best friend) may be the closest one when you call for backup next week. What if they drive slow? They don’t have to retaliate directly, just not be there when you need them.

    2. different clue

      I don’t know what they call it, but the rest of us could call it “bluemerta”, if that sounds catchy.

  7. c1ue

    I can’t decide if Friedman is the penultimate example of the Peter principle in action, or if he’s the male equivalent of the Stepford wife (see: Kerry for another example)

  8. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    “Obama nomineee [sic] for AG, Loretta Lynch, says “waterboarding is torture… and thus illegal” [Talking Points Memo]. So, any prosecutions in the offing?”

    I am confident that any waterboarding she discovers will be duly and vigorously prosecuted.

    1. Propertius

      Of course, she also declined to say whether there were any limits to the Executive Branch’s prosecutorial discretion, thus providing a convenient out should this hypothetical scenario become more concrete.

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s hilarious that two pararaphs of some rich asshole telling me how I’m supposed to feel is what passes for journalism in this pathetic, puling nation.

  9. optimader

    “Hillary Clinton considers delaying start of her campaign ’til July” =
    1.) Huma is putting H.C. on a grapefruit and salad diet while she kicks her ass Rocky-style;
    or 2.) maybe she had an MRI that scared her;
    or 3.) She’s calling in an airstrike on Jeff Epstein’s pedo-island while Bill is there and she wants a respectful time to pass before the games begin?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think Hill believes the media is out to get her and cost her the election. Let’s be honest, Obama was bland as could be in 2008. If Obama was white, he would the nominal Democratic supporter of Republican policies in Springfield, Illinois.

      Hillary lost for three reasons: campaign incompetence, the Iraq War, and her DLC views.

      Her supporters were by and large elites and generic Democrats, willing to vote for any nominal D.

      People who run for President are pretty much sociopaths. They aren’t like the rest of us. Hillary can’t mentally reconcile that she may not be fit to be President TV with her record. My guess is she and Bill have been expecting a ground swell and apology among the population for not recognizing their greatness. She campaigned hard this cycle despite her physical health, but her campaigning and book tours were duds. They popped up a month ago to test the environment and disappeared because it’s Christmas. The April stories did nothing to encourage positive person to person messaging. An in person endorsement (ex. From me to you, the person bringing up Hillary in conversation, quirky pics of Hillary cutting off Gaddafi’s head) matter more than ad campaign. Her Sopranos video did more than any other ad or endorsement did. They know Hillary won’t be well received right now. It might be met with a whimper, and she does not want a GOP congress. They will make Newt like a saint. Hillary needs excitement to recruit blank slate candidates willing to do what they are told in exchange for a title. If she limps to the time when people need to decide, the dlc profile candidate won’t run because running for office is difficult.

      They will test the waters in June hoping us little people will have come around, and they don’t want their supporters to become demoralized. Being honest again, does the average Hillary supporter know her record or do they just assume she is pro-good things and tricked by those dastardly villains in the GOP? The answer is the latter.

      1. optimader

        I was being a little lounge in cheek here.
        For HC ( or any candidate who’s name and reputation has been fully assimilated by the public) minimizing face time in the beauty contest is probably good idea so she doesn’t go past her freshness date by taking inopportune policy positions that can be picked apart like carrion.
        I’m guessin HC is in a position where she is not going to garner any more potential votes w/ exposure than she has already, and is at a real risk of loosing some of those faithful brainstem voters that she has in her pocket already

        1. optimader

          Then again TG never underguesstimate the (R)s to run a Sarah Palin agin her to have a real o fashioned cat fight

      2. Lambert Strether

        In the spirit of even paranoids have real enemies, Hillary has very good reason to think the press is “out to get her”; not all the sexist incidents of 2008 were press, but many of them were; Shakespeare’s Sister kept a list (and speaking of Jon Favreau…)

        It wasn’t only the three factors you mention that lost the 2008 primary for Clinton (a primary where, if all votes are counted, Clinton won a slight margin of the popular vote if Michigan is counted, and the popular vote in most of the big states, including NY, CA, PA, TX, and FL). Also to be included is taking away delegates from Clinton and giving them to Obama, something the Rules and Bylaws committee violated its own bylaws to do).

        The 2008 Clinton campaign divides into two parts: The caucus part, which they butchered, and the post-caucus part, where they ran a very interesting campaign, which wasn’t covered, since (a) the press had already anointed Obama, and (b) the technologies used were not of interest to the “creative class” types who ran Obama’s campaign. The post-Caucus Clinton campaign didn’t use the web for organizing, but throw-away dumb phones, because that was the way to reach their target voters, who were probably at work at one or more of their shitty jobs, and were certainly not hanging out in the Internet cafes. So, picture the Clintons storming the flyover states in small venues like high school auditoriums and talking policy bullet points, just like in Primary Colors! I kid you not! (As I say, coverage died in the press, but these are my recollections, and I’ve confirmed with others.)

        For good or ill, as I read the tealeaves there’s no possibly of a 2016 Clinton campaign — assuming there is one — of going all 2008 again. It looks like the 2008 and 2012 data-driven campaigns are now the dominant paradigm, and that’s what they bought into this time around, based on their hires. A shame.

        As far as DLC, most everything between Clinton and Obama was a wash, except for a) health care (Clinton supported a mandate, Obama did not, an act so grossly hackish that Krugman called him out on it), and maybe b) a Grand Bargain. I do recall clearly Obama made a Grand Bargain the differentiator between the two of them in Iowa; what I don’t recall is whether Clinton compromised on it.

        As for Iraq, well, Obama turned out to be a militarist, too, but as it also turns out, Hillary really does believe the hawkish stuff. Ugh.

        1. different clue

          There is a very good blog on all this called The Confluence by Riverdaughter. She and her Co-Captain Katiebird went into painful and granular detail about the assignment of the DP nomination to Obama in the teeth of a very-likely-higher elected-delegate count for Clinton.
          I wish I had heard about this blog in time for it to have mattered, but I didn’t. I was lost in a fog of Digby at the time, and only heard about The Confluence some years later.

  10. Propertius

    Apparently it’s not OK to “stand your ground” if you’re a black woman

    Except that Zimmerman’s defense never relied on the “Stand Your Ground” law. They didn’t even cite it. They pled straight-up self-defense. Perhaps Ms. Alexander would have had better luck if she had done the same, although it’s hard to know how her leaving the scene and returning with a firearm which she then discharged at her estranged husband and her two young children would have played with a jury.

    Or perhaps it would have been possible to obtain a conviction against Zimmerman if the prosecution had not been pushed to bring the case to trial prematurely.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Notorious war criminal confronted in the Senate:

    A Senate hearing opened this morning with Code Pink protesters trying to arrest former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for “war crimes.”

    The protesters, bearing signs reading “Kissinger War Criminal” and “Cambodia,” rushed up behind the 91-year-old diplomat at the witness table of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was holding a hearing on global challenges and the U.S. national security strategy.

    Also testifying were 94-year-old former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and 77-year-old former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.


    Too bad we can’t pack all three of the doddering old mass murderers off to The Hague.

    1. Propertius

      On the other hand, Kissinger’s State Department did dissuade the Soviets from launching a preemptive nuclear strike against Chinese nuclear facilities during the Sino-Soviet border conflict (see: http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB49/sino.sov.10.pdf for the discussions that led up to this). IIRC, papers from the Soviet archives suggest that this strike would have been in the 500 MT range. We now know that such a strike would have significantly disrupted climate in the Northern Hemisphere and probably would have resulted in a catastrophic hemisphere-wide crop failure lasting many years.

      Even doddering old mass murderers can have their good days.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      The surfeit of senility among geriatric warmongers was captured nicely in John McCain’s juvenile dismissal of Code Pink protesters: “Get out of here you low-life scum!”

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