2:00PM Water Cooler 1/9/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Where the country sits today on the question of stay the course vs. change is similar to where it was around this time in 2007” [Cook Political Report]. And we all know what happened then….

Gallup: Record number of voters identify as “independent” without, in fact, being genuinely persuadable by candidates [WaPo].

Why Warren won’t run: Failure to make a Sherman statement or not, she’s 65, so it’s now or never, she’s not building a campaign team, and she’s doubling down on her causes rather than broadening her policy portfolio [Politico].

Axelrod to Hillary: “Be that person,” that is, the post-caucus 2008 Hillary Clinton [Politico].

Jebbie’s “government in waiting” of “thousands” of political operatives “rich in the critical experience needed to run the federal government day to day” [Washington Examiner]. Oh, man. I actually remember the Bush administration. Was this Drucker dude at the Examiner in high school then?

Jebbie has last name problems [NBC]. Or, the fancy way to say it, “dynastic” problems.

“If Jeb Bush and his team are starting up their opposition research unit, Walker is the first one they should target” [WaPo]. Walker, unlike Jebbie, is popular with the base. And credit due, he’s been out there stomping Democrats effectively.

The Hill

Obama “America’s College Promise” proposal to offer free tuition to 9 million at two-year community colleges [Politico]. Of course, this is Obama, so it’s crap all the way down. First, why not tuition free K-16, like the Germans? Second, why propose this now, when it can’t pass? Third, it’s originally a Republican plan, so we’re running the RomneyCare -> ObamaCare play again. Finally, why limit this to community colleges? Real universities too good for working people? Oh, and it’s also only for “responsible students” [WaPo]. So that translates to a million hoops to jump through, plus some walking around money for more administrators to monitor the hoops.

States expected to pick up 25% of costs for community college plan [Talking Points Memo]. Ooh, a poison pill!

I haven’t seen the phrase “the dominant liberal faction” in quite some time (topic: the House on Dodd-Frank) [Politico]. House aide:

“A lot of moderates don’t feel like they can speak up in Caucus without getting shouted down by the far left.”

Cheese with that?

Charlie Hebdo

Dual hostage crisis ends; Charlie Hebdo suspects, the Kouachis brothers, killed [France24].

Bios of the chief suspects [Independent]. “Chérif was first radicalised, said Ollivier, by the US-led invasion of Iraq. He was especially outraged by the images of mistreatment at Abu Graib prison.” Mission accomplished….

“That the Kouachis had been able to build up a store of weapons in their apartment half an hour’s drive from the centre of Paris is startling, given that Chérif Kouachi is believed to have been on a security watch list” [Globe and Mail]. Lots of good detail here, including talks with the neighbors.

Hezbollah leader: Islamic extremists (“takfiris“) have insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad more than cartoonists [AP].

“The fact of the matter is that racist and Islamophobic attitudes are a huge problem in the everyday lives of Europe’s Muslim population” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. And about to become a bigger one, free speech or no.

“[I]t is self-evident that if a writer who specialized in overtly anti-black or anti-Semitic screeds had been murdered for their ideas, there would be no widespread calls to republish their trash in ‘solidarity’ with their free speech rights” [Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept].

AP pulls their copy of “Piss Christ” [Washington Examiner]. It’s worth asking if all the free speech bloviation going on in the Beltway would be going on for blasphemy against the Christian faith. I’m guessing no.

Big PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) march in Dresden on Monday [Time].

Cologne Cathedral to turn off its lights to protest a PEGIDA march [Guardian].

NYPD Soft Coup

Cop: “Why We’re So Mad at de Blasio” [New York Times]. It’s all about respect. So it’s about the money.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Ugly, ugly detail on the Tamir Rice shooting [New York Times].

Classic FOX [Talking Points Memo].

“That’s my question about these guys because if we know they were speaking unaccented French and they had, you know, ski masks on, do we even know what color they were,” [Fox News anchor Shannon Bream] said. “What the tone of their skin was. I mean what if they didn’t look like typical bad guys?”

Shaking my head…

How Selma gets LBJ’s role wrong [New York Review of Books].


Dartmouth College accuses 64 students of cheating in a sports ethics class last semester [Bloomberg].

Class Warfare

“The majority of the country’s most financially secure citizens (54 percent at the very top, and 57 percent just below) believe the ‘poor have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return'” [WaPo].

Even if what “the country’s most financially secure citizens” believe were true — they should try it, sometime — not “doing anything in return” isn’t affirmatively harmful to the country; the money is just a dead loss. By contrast, the bailouts, “government benefits” that were the largest upward transfer of wealth in world history, and which directly benefited precisely “the country’s most financially secure citizens,” were and are affirmatively harmful, if for no other reason than that they retroactively legitimized system-wide criminal behavior in the form of accounting control fraud.

“While 63 percent of the most financially secure Americans were likely voters in the 2014 election, just 20 percent of the least financially secure were” [WaPo].

University of Chicago Obama Presidential Library pitch proposes to seize 20 acres of public parkland, but that’s not displacing South Side residents, no siree [DNA Info].

Stats Watch

Percentage of workers in government lowest since 1960 [Business Insider].

Gallup US Payroll to Population, December 2014: virtually unchanged from November, as opposed to dropping steeply, as it did in 2013 and 2014 [Bloomberg]. Workforce participation rate dips. Underemployment unchanged, but lower than in past years.

Jobless claims, week of January 3, 2015: Initial jobless claims fell 4,000 [Bloomberg]. “The average is trending about 10,000 lower than the month-ago comparison.”

Employment situation, December 2014:  he unemployment rate decreased to 5.6 percent from 5.8 percent in November, beating expectations. Average hourly earnings slipped 0.2 percent [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

  • Mashup shows how many country hits are really the same song [Saving Country Music].
  • Changing our body language (“power poses”) can change our mood [New York Times]. Another viral TED talk.
  • Too bad about those potential Mars microbes, says Curiosity team [Space].
  • Easter Island might have been collapsing before the Europeans got there [Live Science].
  • What Herman Miller wrought: The horrors of the cube [Economist]. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

* * *

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 (RS):

Something tropical…

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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. diptherio

    “I mean what if they didn’t look like typical bad guys?”

    I assume by that she means white middle-aged males in $5,000 suits…you know, the typical terrorist look…

    1. Sam Kanu

      “I mean what if they didn’t look like typical bad guys?”

      I assume by that she means white middle-aged males in $5,000 suits…you know, the typical terrorist look…

      Ahh…financial terrorists….still waiting on the FBI and SEC to start profiling in this arena. Plus if you keep them off airplanes to St Barts for a while, they might actually sit down get their act together…

      1. petal

        So did Jeff Immelt. His name is on the new life science building. A sickening reminder every time you walk in.

        The class was geared for varsity athletes-pretty much a fluff class handed to them because sport performance is more important than anything else. All they had to do was show up. I’ll stop there, though I could go on.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’d like to see — granted, as a form of confirmation bias — a Venn diagram that showed the overlap between attendees at that class, fraternity members, and those who have chosen a career in banking or trading.

      2. Sam Kanu

        Hank Paulson came from Dartmouth.
        The ethical vacuum has existed for quite some time.

        At some point the business school at Dartmouth actually had a dedicated part time lecturer in ethics. That was the good news. What was the bad news? He was a retired Goldman Sachs partner!

        You really can’t make this stuff up…

  2. Carolinian

    So very important and apologies if this has already been linked: Terry Gross talks to Steven Brill who eviscerates Obamacare on Fresh Air. He also talks about his own heart surgery and the bills which resulted.


    The above is just a partial transcript but should link to an available download/stream site.

    Brill says insurance companies are getting too much of the blame and the real problem is the unbelievable cost of American medicine which motivates insurers to evade payment. He also punctures some of the excuses used by hospitals and drug companies to justify their charges.

    1. Benedict@Large

      A small caveat to that “evade payment”.

      Yes, you could look at it that way, but what’s really happening is that health insurers make their money on cash flow, which means they have to sell a lot of policies. To do that (in competition with others trying the same), they end up lowering their prices below real costs. That’s why they have to end up with back end “evade payment” strategies. If they had properly priced up front, they wouldn’t have to do that, but if they had properly priced up front and others didn’t, they wouldn’t be in business.

    2. different clue

      I too wonder why Brill thinks that. After all, the doctors, pharma-sellers, etc. are at least producing and/or doing something . . . . however much they may be charging for it. Just exactly what are insurance companies doing besides getting in between our health care and our health care money in order to keep some of our money before letting the rest of our health care money reach our health care? Is it because Brill is a lawyer and therefor thinks like a lawyer and is biased in favor of other lawyers and non-providers of any actual things or services, such as insurance companies . . . and is biased against actual thinkmakers and thingdoers . . . like doctors and pharma-companies?

      1. Carolinian

        Since you clearly haven’t heard the whole interview I’ll just add that one of his major points is a call for tort reform so doctors and hospitals won’t have the excuse for endless unnecessary tests. That’s not exactly pro-lawyer bias. And he says that doctors are the least of the cost problem which he pins primarily on the drug and device makers and “non-profit” hospitals that are anything but. He does criticize the insurance companies for their bureaucratic inefficiency but says the emphasis on them above other actors is missing the story.

        And most of all he says that the ACA is really nothing more than a scheme to guarantee a revenue stream to providers and has less “reform” than even Massachusetts Romneycare. Of course we knew all this but this is plain talk and bold, even, for the likes of NPR. Worth a listen.

        1. Yves Smith

          The tort reform issue is a red herring. US doctors are deeply acculturated to overtest AND overtreat. I don’t have time to run it down, but a lot of evidence to support that. Start with the recommendation to get an annual physical, or the recommendation to get a colonoscopy at 50, the old recommendation to get pap smears and mammograms annually (I knew they were de trop instinctively before the guidelines changed). My insurance company nags me for NOT having gotten them.

          1. John Day MD

            I’ve been in medicine long enough to see a good part of the transition, and several variations. I graduated med school in 1986, and of course had a lot of clinical exposure in the 2 “clinical years” before that. The older docs used to do a lot of surgical procedures that their patients needed, used to do pretty much everything, and make hospital rounds, and people mostly paid for it themselves (in the USA). There were charitable and public institutions for no-frills appendectomies, car wrecks, heart attacks and so on.
            The money drip from third party payers was already well underway, and by the late 1980s, they started calling the shots, “practicing medicine”, saying what they would and would not “approve”.
            It is really hard for people to be “educated consumers” about things that threaten their lives, and the massively bloated third-party payment system has come to require multiple layers of middle management and tech people to “comply”. It’s all about complying and getting paid now, a whole lot of churn.
            I’m complicit, even though I work in public health, in a community clinic, serving poor folks. If I were not complicit, I could not participate. It used to be different. I’m considered unusually versatile to be able to work in adult medicine, pediatrics and women’s health. It used to be assumed.
            The increase in complexity in medicine is not driven from knowing more about good patient care…

          2. petal

            I had an appointment as a new patient at a GP last year. The GP actually bullied me about getting a pap smear done right that minute-she wouldn’t stop harping on it, like it was some kind of obsession of hers. I had worked the last 5 years in GYN Onc clinical research(including attending tumor board every single week), and also was up on knowing they are not needed often per research/new guidelines. I steadfastly refused and walked out and haven’t been back because it was so upsetting. I asked a coworker about her experience with this doctors office (she not knowing what I had just been through), and she mentioned the same thing-a crazy obsession with pap smears by the GPs. I reckon most women would have acceded. Was also worried about women who have a history of being a sexual assault victim being put through that. Unacceptable. If I hadn’t been so upset I would have asked her why she was so stuck on it. It is a new experiment in primary health care, though, so maybe that’s why: “With our practice, you’ll have more direct communication with your care team, including phone, email, video chat, and text messages, and access to groups focused on your overall wellness needs.”. They are trying to do a lot of primary care/testing up front to avoid issues later.

        2. different clue

          You are in-a-sense correct. I “listened” to the entire interview but partway stopped hearing it when I got mad at his pretense that Insurance Companies were not part of the problem, but were rather co-victims of it just like we were. He predicted I would get angry and he was right. Now that you mention all these other things, I get a feeling I kind-of remember them. But I had my doubts about the centrality of some of them and have my doubts now. In my view he was majorly trying to provide cover for the Parasite Insurance Companies and I have to wonder why.
          Once again, the Insurance Companies are the one entire subsector of the healthcare-industrial complex which produces absolutely precisely nothing at all whatsoever. The Insurance companies are the “lamprey” attached to the side of the health care “lake trout”.
          If that lamprey were detached and exterminated, the lake trout would have less problems. And whatever problems it did still have could then be addressed.

          But it still seems to me that separating the Insurance lamprey from the Health Care lake trout is very important, Brill’s sweetly honeyed words of sympathy for the insurance lamprey to the contrary notwithstanding.

    1. gordon

      I hear that the alleged Hebdo gunmen have now been gunned down by French police. No survivors. Well, you wouldn’t want to give racism and discrimination a platform in a courtroom, would you?

      1. Propertius

        I hear that the alleged Hebdo gunmen have now been gunned down by French police.

        Good riddance.

      2. Sam Kanu

        Well, you wouldn’t want to give racism and discrimination a platform in a courtroom, would you?

        On the evidence in our societies, our courtooms are themselves a platform for racism and discrimination in our on society. Looking at France, I have no reason to believe that to be any less true over there.

        So let’s let go on the pontification. If people in our societies now believe that shooting suspects in the streets is better than putting them in court, then good luck to us. At that rate, we’ll sink as low as the taliban and the rest of them before long…

      1. Carolinian

        Still more…Greenwald on the limits of the West’s enthusiasm for free speech (apologies for quoting at length).

        With all due respect to the great cartoonist Ann Telnaes, it is simply not the case that Charlie Hebdo “were equal opportunity offenders.” Like Bill Maher, Sam Harris and other anti-Islam obsessives, mocking Judaism, Jews and/or Israel is something they will rarely (if ever) do. If forced, they can point to rare and isolated cases where they uttered some criticism of Judaism or Jews, but the vast bulk of their attacks are reserved for Islam and Muslims, not Judaism and Jews. Parody, free speech and secular atheism are the pretexts; anti-Muslim messaging is the primary goal and the outcome. And this messaging – this special affection for offensive anti-Islam speech – just so happens to coincide with, to feed, the militaristic foreign policy agenda of their governments and culture.

        To see how true that is, consider the fact that Charlie Hebdo – the “equal opportunity” offenders and defenders of all types of offensive speech – fired one of their writers in 2009 for a writing a sentence some said was anti-Semitic (the writer was then charged with a hate crime offense, and won a judgment against the magazine for unfair termination). Does that sound like “equal opportunity” offending?

        Nor is it the case that threatening violence in response to offensive ideas is the exclusive province of extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam. Terrence McNally’s 1998 play “Corpus Christi,” depicting Jesus as gay, was repeatedly cancelled by theaters due to bomb threats. Larry Flynt was paralyzed by an evangelical white supremacist who objected to Hustler‘s pornographic depiction of inter-racial couples. The Dixie Chicks were deluged with death threats and needed massive security after they publicly criticized George Bush for the Iraq War, which finally forced them to apologize out of fear. Violence spurred by Jewish and Christian fanaticism is legion, from abortion doctors being murdered to gay bars being bombed to a 45-year-old brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza due in part to the religious belief (common in both the U.S. and Israel) that God decreed they shall own all the land. And that’s all independent of the systematic state violence in the west sustained, at least in part, by religious sectarianism.

        The New York Times‘ David Brooks today claims that anti-Christian bias is so widespread in America – which has never elected a non-Christian president – that “the University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality.” He forgot to mention that the very same university just terminated its tenure contract with Professor Steven Salaita over tweets he posted during the Israeli attack on Gaza that the university judged to be excessively vituperative of Jewish leaders, and that the journalist Chris Hedges was just disinvited to speak at the University of Pennsylvania for the Thought Crime of drawing similarities between Israel and ISIS.

        That is a real taboo – a repressed idea – as powerful and absolute as any in the United States, so much so that Brooks won’t even acknowledge its existence. It’s certainly more of a taboo in the U.S. than criticizing Muslims and Islams, which is so frequently heard in mainstream circles – including the U.S. Congress – that one barely notices it any more.


        1. Tim Mason

          As the American “left” and the anglosphere in general pick up the tails of their coats, it would perhaps be of some interest to those who would go beyond knee jerks to look at what Charlie Hebdo was. They were obsessed by Islam? A strange idea of obsession, given that of over a thousand covers, only three were devoted to the subject. And a strange antipathy that had Charb defending the right of Muslim women to wear the veil. An odd islamophobia that had “Charlie Hebdo” regularly supporting migrants and undocumented workers, most from North Africa, most of Islamic faith.

          Concerning Siné, they were faced with the possibility of a court case, and decided they couldn’t afford it. Cowardly perhaps, but given the state of their finances not beyond the bounds of reason, and not proof of their having double standards. You would do better to look at Charb’s illustrations of the Torah.

          CH was often nasty and always vulgar. I can understand your reluctance to stand with them – the more so in that the massacre was only one incident in this bloody war, in which the role played by Euro-American imperialism is central. If “Je Suis Charlie”, why am I not Palestine, Baga or the Lebanon … But the magazine was not what you paint it to be.

    1. Light a Candle

      Thanks for the link to an interesting read. Sad how LBJ’s defenders are trying to “whitejack” the Selma movie.

      Plus likely some ruthless Oscar politics at play as the big studios seek to shut out an indy black film.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        You ought to get that knee seen to. The handy thing about that sort of reaction is that you don’t actually have to do any reading, so it’s very efficient. I read the FAIR article, and the Elizabeth Drew article to which I linked isn’t listed as an offender, so I presume it’s accurate. You will also find a link to Drew’s critique of a play about LBJ, which she indicts for giving LBJ too much credit.

        I guess if you’re into pom pom waving, the history doesn’t matter. I prefer strategists/activists to know the actual history, if only so they’re not condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past, but perhaps that’s just me.

    1. Banger

      I always wonder why they don’t try to catch people that do this sort of thing and then question them. Like the alleged Bin Laden kill (I don’t believe any of it) why didn’t they try to keep him alive?–there were all kinds of ways to assure his life considering the surprise, the guys age and the lack of resistance would have made a capture easy.

      Not saying this event was false-flag, I doubt it in fact. But I do know there has been a close link between “terrorists” and intel services starting with the Saudis, the ISI, the CIA, Turkish intel and, to some extent, Mossad and the French intel people (traditionally a nasty lot). Again, it is in the interest of the military and intel types to keep tensions high and I know for sure that these agencies don’t operate in any of our interests–they are just gangsters, security people, terrorists (yes, I believe there are genuine ideologues who give their lives to their cause) and real gangsters.

      1. James

        The beauty of it is that “terrorism” for the most part no longer needs to be false-flagged into existence; the insane GWOT incites it all by itself. What’s the phrase, self-licking ice cream cone? It’s one damn good racket these bright boys have dreamed up! All the world’s an insurgency now.

      2. Bridget

        ” Like the alleged Bin Laden kill (I don’t believe any of it) why didn’t they try to keep him alive?”

        Option 1: Alive he was valuable for intelligence.
        Option 2: Dead he was valuable for PR.

        The positions the Obama administration had taken on enhanced interrogation techniques and Gitmo pretty much guaranteed that Option 1 was a no go. Ergo, Option 2.

        Good for our national self-image. Bad for Bid Laden.

        1. Demeter

          Even more heinous: why didn’t they keep the body? No confirmation of 1) death 2) actually binLadin.

      3. different clue

        If bin Laden had not been killed after we were told he had been killed, he could have severely discredited and de-legitimized the organs of US government information-release by proclaiming himself to be still alive . . . and showing he really was “him”.

        He is either dead or in very deep seclusion and retirement. Maybe he was already dead and what we killed was a decoy body-double. But that wouldn’t make bin Laden any less dead.

      4. Sam Kanu

        Like the alleged Bin Laden kill (I don’t believe any of it) why didn’t they try to keep him alive?–there were all kinds of ways to assure his life considering the surprise, the guys age and the lack of resistance would have made a capture easy.

        Of course they shot him. Some of the things he would say would rock the country to its foundations. Like for example that Al Quaida was funded in its initial stages by the US taxpayer. In other worlds 9-11 can actually be blamed on the US govt and all the incompetent “intelligence” agencies we are funding. Can you imagine the lawsuits?

        Meanwhile our media still sits by idly while our nutcase congress and “intelligence services” talk right now about the “moderates” that they are funding and arming in the middle east. Jesus….

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Percentage of workers in government lowest since 1960.

    Does anyone know if that has anything to do with a smaller, more professional army or outsourcing military to private contractors?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m too lazy to find the link, but IIRC Ezra Klein (of all people) had a chart showing that unlike all previous recessions/depressions, without exception) state and local government actually shrank, contributing a point or two to disemployment. So, it’s a two-fer: 1) Shrinking government and 2) less delivery of services to those harmed, which normally acts as an automatic stabilizer, and which Obama, good neoliberal that he is, disabled.

      1. Cynthia

        There are still way too many people who aren’t necessarily working for government, but they are definitely being paid by government to do useless things for us. And not all of them are confined to the Pentagon or a part of the surveillance state.

  4. Mel

    Mashup shows how many country hits are really the same song

    This is music as an industrial product. Reliability in an industrial product is a good thing. If you’re staking serious money, you want to be sure you’re backing a winner. Back to John Kenneth Galbraith’s The New Industrial State and the planning economy.

      1. Mel

        :] It’s not hard to see Galbraith’s Planning Economy morphing into today’s FIRE sector as regular businesses of that time got rid of all the activities that were difficult to plan. Even GM largely turned itself into GMAC.

    1. ambrit

      All good musicians have banged their heads against this wall. I seem to remember; Pink Floyds “Welcome to the Machine,” and Traffics “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” and Dire Straits “Money For Nothing,” and the Whos’ album “The Who Sell Out,” and even earlier, all the talented composers who decomposed while working for Hollywood. My favourite example is Willie Nelson playing a Nashville musician hired by the producers of a fake war to do the theme song for the war. Which later ended up being real life with his involvement in the Post 911 hysteria Patriotic Country Music ‘product.’
      Do not in the least underestimate the power of music to influence us. Arthur C Clarke wrote a short story, included in the collection, “Tales From the White Hart” called ‘The Ultimate Melody.’ I won’t spoil it for you. All the stories in that collection are variations on the theme of “There are things…”

      1. ambrit

        I was just driving home from the Sunflower food store, Phyllis needing more tomatoes for the crab gumbo, and heard a piece about exactly this Mashup with an interview with the man responsible on NPR. Lambert is a Trend Setter, no question about it.

  5. Banger

    People misunderstand how people become President today. What it is not is about somebody saying things many people think are good or that they distinguish themselves in public service and make convincing arguments about a variety of issues. You become President either by carefully laying groundwork like the Clintons, or by virtue of being part of an already powerful clique (the Bush family), or by being selected by a powerful clique or alliance of cliques which would be Obama’s road.

    Warren has not had time to lay the groundwork and has not endeared herself to any clique or alliance of cliques. You have to understand that all politicians must champion the causes of their powerful supporters. One of the things the left mistaked in 2008 is that their support of Obama would translate in Obama supporting their causes–it wasn’t because Obama was a traitorous sort of person but that the left has not understood the nature of power for a couple of generations–they still think politics is a battle of values and sermons–it isn’t and will never be that–it is about power which means the power to help friends and punish enemies–always both.

    Warren is, I believe, one of those rare characters in politics and honest politician. She may be obnoxious or may not be acceptable to the left but I believe she is basically honest and interested in the welfare of the population not just the corporate elite and for that she seems willing to fight. I think she sees, as I do, the the power of the President is not as great as the media pretends it to be. The government, particularly its security services is to big to control and manage and each of the agencies, say the DEA, FBI, Secret Service, CIA, NSA and so on have their own agendas and their own alliances with contractors, corporations and organized crime. We live in an oligarchy and networks of oligarchs, often shifting, rule the country not the President and not Congress those institution broker power–their job is to mediate between competing interests.

    Warren may be working to build power-relationship and alliances within the oligarchy to maximize her power and may want to be more in the background because she realized that being President is no guarantee she’ll have any power and the process to get there is very daunting if you think about it.

    1. Ed

      2016 is going to be another big election year for the Republicans. The popular vote margin of its presidential candidate always drops for a party the third presidential election after taking control of the White House. The only election this rule didn’t hold was 1904 and 1892 (the latter was a really strange situation). It has proven to be correct in 1868, 1920, 1928, 1940, 1960, 1968, 1976, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2008.

      Hillary’s Clinton will be a sort of valedictory, lifetime achievement Oscar candidacy like that of Dole and McCain (if she opts not to run for health reasons, Biden will probably fulfill this role). The only reason to run against her in the primaries would be to get publicity that will be helpful for a 2020 run. For Warren it may not be worth it.

      1. James

        Have to agree. I think HillBillary’s being flattered (and compensated well for the effort, of course) right now. Little else. It’s Jeb’s job to lose. Murica’s infatuation with minority/women candidates is about to come to a screeching halt. Dems, thanks for the cameo. Just as 2008 turned on the economy, 2016 will turn on war, faux security, and “adults in charge,” just as in 2000.

    2. James

      There ya’ go getting all epic-y on us again Banger!

      No, just kidding. Nice comment. Fair to say, you’re still mostly a true believer in the mainstream political reality view we’re presented, while I, fair to say, definitely am not. Which always surprised me, as you’ve also expressed CT leanings here in the past. I guess I’m just a whole lot more cynical based on my life experiences than you are.

      But I do admire the fact that someone like yourself can present a more nuanced and optimistic take on events, even if at times I think it might be a tad bit naive and apologetic. No backhanded slam intended.

      As to your points:

      Warren is, I believe, one of those rare characters in politics and honest politician. She may be obnoxious or may not be acceptable to the left but I believe she is basically honest and interested in the welfare of the population not just the corporate elite and for that she seems willing to fight. I think she sees, as I do, the the power of the President is not as great as the media pretends it to be.

      I think you may be right about that, and if that’s the case, The Prez most definitely ain’t the job for her. Warren is primarily a technocrat from what I’ve heard so far; a mile deep and an inch wide on the subject of accounting and financial fraud. Why dilute her talents and her passion by putting her in a largely ceremonial/diplomatic position? And I’m guessing Warren has figured that out already watching the machinations of the HillBillary two-headed hydra these past many years. In fact, the very process of seeking the Big Chair, as you’ve alluded to here, is all about divestiture of personal political power so that you can more effectively wield the power thus conferred by the large political alliances you will represent, but even more importantly, so that they can trust that you’ll reliably wield it on their behalf alone!

          1. Fool

            Gotcha. I thought you were referring to Connecticut; as in, “you’ve also expressed CT leanings here in the past…like that time we told Goldberg that if he wants to play racquetball at the club he has to stop Jewing us about their $5 Pepsis.”

    3. Jackrabbit

      Banger, your spin generates more heat than illumination.


      it wasn’t because Obama was a traitorous sort of person . . .

      Yet Obama’s traitorous action/inaction is legion. It spawned Occupy Wall Street, opened many eyes to what the political system and the Democratic Party have become, and led to the disastrous 2014 mid-terms. I think people understand more than you give them credit for; they have just been slow in coming to grips with it.

      . . . but that the left has not understood the nature of power

      The new and improved sellout Democrats (Bluedog / Third Way) understand power exactly the same way that you do. So what is your point? That ALL lefties should line up behind them?

      Your it-has-always-been-thus analysis ignores record low trust in government and rampant moral hazard. In doing so, you are carrying water for that system.


      the power of the President is not as great as the media pretends it to be

      WRONG. It is very powerful and that’s why the oligarch’s NEED to control it. You are arguing backwards. Because an oligarchy-friendly President accepts limits on his/her power doesn’t mean that the Presidency is not powerful. And a media that plays up the power and prestige of the office is only amplifying that power.


      Warren has not had time to lay the groundwork

      How much time did Obama have? I think Warren understands that she is not a traditional candidate for either party and that makes any run risky. She got to where she is because she is smart like that. Her independence and integrity makes her a target.

      H O P

      1. different clue

        Obama had much pre-Presidential groundwork done for him on his behalf by rich and powerful and interested backers. He was clearly somebody’s curling stone with professional sweepers smoothing the ice in front of him every time he was launched at another rung-up-the-ladder polltical office.
        Warren doesn’t have the benefit of any such thing. She really would be trying to organize a presidential campaign effort from a tree fort in the woods.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Obama/the Obama ‘team’ made an ovature to Warren.

          Voila! Instant ‘groundwork’ – if she’s willing to pay the ‘price’ (unclear but easy to imagine).

          1. Jackrabbit

            And since you bring it up: I find it interesting that Banger (self-proclaimed Washington insider and Obama apologist) doesn’t mention the Obama team’s reaching out to Warren.

  6. Nobody (the outcast)

    RE: The Pew survey…

    Check out the framing:
    “Government should do more for the needy, even if it means more debt” vs. “Government can’t afford to do more for the needy”


    From the Pew Research site linked in the WaPo article:

    “Financial security is strongly correlated with nearly every measure of political engagement.”

    So the less secure don’t participate enough and even if they did, over a third to a half of them think the government is broke. This is why I am so cynical about anything coming from the government to make the “less secure” more secure. I guess everything is going to plan?

    1. James

      Although I’m not sure I agree with all the tenants of MMT in practice, I do agree that the subject of government debt in principle should be addressed in a truly public forum. Try as it might, NakCap is not up to that task alone. Nor unfortunately, I’m afraid, is the American public in general.

  7. Howard Beale IV

    Prosecutors said to seek felony charges against Petraeus: NY Times

    He’s digging in his heels, tho. And also from the article states that this incident is depriving him in spending time with KKR.

    Well, well, well….

  8. Howard Beale IV

    Yikes, by way of GG, here’s a snip from BillMoyers site:
    “The AP reports that CIA Director David Petraeus applauded Kiriakou’s conviction. In an email to agency staff, he wrote:

    “It marks an important victory for our agency, for our intelligence community, and for our country. Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”

    Sauce for the goose….

      1. Demeter

        Well, he makes me angry, and has from Day 1 and the first word. I’m surely not unique in that. I doubt that he has many brothers-in-arms, either.

  9. quixote

    Charlie Hebdo is not racist trash. (Excuse me while I get up and shout.) CHARLIE HEBDO IS NOT RACIST TRASH. Greenwald is very good against government surveillance. He’s useless on bigotry. If it’s anti-gay or racist or anti-semitic, he’s all over it. If it’s about torturing or murdering women, then it’s all about free speech. So, no, this does not impress me:

    “[I]t is self-evident that if a writer who specialized in overtly anti-black or anti-Semitic screeds had been murdered for their ideas, there would be no widespread calls to republish their trash in ‘solidarity’ with their free speech rights” [Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept].

    Charlie Hebdo is satirical about everything. They’ve been sued multiple times by Catholics and Jews in France. They’re anti-authoritarian. Very. They’re French, in that highly rational Enlightenment tradition that also (irrationally) can usually be seen with a Gauloise in the hand. If you don’t read French, if you’re unfamiliar with the culture, if you don’t know the context of their topics, their humor may not translate. Racists they are not. What they’re skewering is stupid, rigid beliefs that make people suffer.

    This bullshit of moaning “ZOMG! Islamophobia!” because of 100% deserved criticism against a bunch of death-glorifying extremists is just that: bullshit. It’s an attempt to blame the victim, for all the usual bad reasons. No, Charlie Hebdo’s skirts were not too short.

    An atrocity has been committed against people and against freedom. That’s the issue. Pretzel-logic to smear racism onto the victims to feel better about the crime is pathetic.

    1. James

      I agree with you, as far as it goes. No, they were perhaps definitely not “racist trash.” What they inarguably were however, is incredibly offensive to a target audience who didn’t feel disposed to listen to their shit. And who were also inclined to physically do something about it.

      We can argue about the rest in the aftermath, but the plain fact is that some people talk, some people act, and the rest of us talk about the consequences afterward as if we know.

      1. Fool

        “We can argue about the rest in the aftermath, but the plain fact is that some people talk, some people act, and the rest of us talk about the consequences afterward as if we know.”

        Are you serious? This is what I would tell my kid if he was talking trash playing pickup basketball on 94th street and Madison — mean momma jokes were exchanged — but then he walked 5 blocks uptown, did the same thing, and got his ass kicked. I mean, try telling anyone who has lived in Iraq that the West is “all talk”.

        My view is that — like most civilian mass killings — this was social anomie + pathological disturbance, which, channeled through an ideological plight (Islam, namely the oppression thereof of its practitioners by the Western world) manifested in violence. To suggest this is an extension of “Islamofascism” is akin to calling Elliot Rodger an extremist male chauvinist pig.

      2. Cynthia

        Before the Paris attack, Charlie Hebdo was an easy target of attack by right wing extremists because it skewered any religion including theirs, not just Islam. After the attack, right wing extremists pile on to denounce the attack as terrorism only because Islamists did it.

        If Christian white supremacists did it, their supporters would ignore them as mentally ill oddballs of an accidental bad-luck, one-off event, which should have been anticipated and prevented.

      3. Jack

        “What they inarguably were however, is incredibly offensive to a target audience who didn’t feel disposed to listen to their shit.”

        Pardon my French, but fuck them. Sticks and stones; if you don’t like something, don’t read it. Being ‘offended’ isn’t even a statement, it’s a whine. So be offended. Go sit in a corner and sulk about how sad and insulted you are. A violent response is the attitude of a child, and in deciding to murder those people the attackers not only demonstrated how pathetic they truly were but utterly vindicated the attacks the magazine had launched on extremist Islam.

    2. Carolinian

      On Democracy Now this morning there were some French Muslims who feel very much discriminated against. Then there’s that whole Sorrow and the Pity thing. I’m not sure the French are quite so enlightened and tolerant as you think (and yes I have been there…my French could use a lot of work).

      I’ll have to take your word about Charlie Lebdo being equal opportunity offenders (Raimondo also says this). However Greenwald’s larger point is about the hypocrisy of people such as Maher who pretend to be big daring iconoclasts unless it could hurt their careers. There’s no such thing as a selective truth teller. You either tell it or you don’t. IMO Maher is a phony with a capital p and he has lots of company. He’s only “politcally incorrect” when it advantages him to be so.

      1. EmilianoZ

        The group that sued Charlie Hebdo the most is the far right (12). Islamic organizations only come 4th (6):


        Charlie Hebdo avait été ainsi condamné en 1995 pour « injure » après avoir qualifié la candidate frontiste à la députation Marie-Caroline Le Pen de « chienne de Buchenwald ». Bruno et Catherine Mégret avaient notamment assigné le journal à comparaître à plusieurs reprises pour un article les qualifiant respectivement de « petit rat » et de « gourde », sans jamais obtenir gain de cause. Toujours du côté de l’extrême droite, l’ancien député frontiste Jean-Marie Le Chevallier, maire de Toulon de 1995 à 2001, et Serge de Beketch, son adjoint, avaient intenté plusieurs procès en diffamation à la publication, notamment pour avoir qualifié le premier de déserteur et le second de « pourriture particulée ».

      2. gordon

        Here’s another larger point: would the US hegemony in Latin America been possible if instead of being Catholics the population had been Moslem?

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