2:00PM Water Cooler 2/12/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Biden fading, despite Iowa visit [AP]. There’s good news tonight!

Axelrove: “I know Elizabeth Warren well, and my strong feeling is she’s not going to run” [HuffPo]. Nor would she win. “Look at the polling. Hillary is probably as well-positioned within her own party as any open seat candidate has been in our lifetime.”

“Shocking poll” shows Warren leading Clinton in New Hampshire and Iowa [Washington Examiner], but pay no attention: “In this case, the Run Warren Run poll includes a string of ten leading questions that paint Warren in an exceedingly favorable light” [National Journal]. Warren should rein these clowns in. Fake polls aren’t what the Warren brand is about. I assume. Or puffery. The Nation (wouldn’t you just know it) tries to put lipstick on this pig.

Hillary Clinton physically appears in Manhattan, takes a meeting with London Mayor Boris Johnson [Express]. Johnson: “Secretary Clinton was very, very clear that she thinks there should be more engagement, more support from the West, from the UK, in backing the Kurds, backing the Peshmerga against Isis.” Fun to watch Hillary making sure there’s no daylight between her and Lindsey Graham on blowing faraway brown people to pink mist.

“Tensions in the Clinton team” [New York Times]. The problem here is that this narrative is so shopworn it’s hard to tell if the story is true.

Democratic National Convention to be held in Philly [Inquirer]. In The Wells Fargo Center. Well, at least that’s a change from Bank of America!


“Jeb’s rocky tech debut” [Politico]. 2/11/15 7:53 PM. NC, 2/11/15 at 2:00 pm.

Jebbie to hold “eye-popping $100,000 per-ticket Park Avenue event hosted by private equity mogul Henry Kravis and his wife” [Politico].

Bush’s purchasers donors love a dynasty, but that doesn’t mean the base does [The Hill]. Bloomberg/St. Anselm poll of Republican primary voters:

8. Asked this question: When it comes to Jeb Bush, do you think the strength of his potential candidacy is based more on his unique qualities and achievements, or his family connections to politics? — a whopping 58 percent answered that it was his family connections.

“Bush video touts visit to Shinola” [Detroit News]. Make up your own jokes! Oh, wait, the Shinola brand was bought by luxury watch makers. So make up some other jokes!

Principled Insurgents

“‘Marco Rubio makes me cry for joy,’ Bush said” [WaPo]. But now Bush and Rubio are no longer BFFs [wipes tear].

Walker goes to London, fails to impress. Asked whether he believes in evolution: “I’m going to punt on that one as well” [WaPo]. “Punt? Some sort of small boat, what?”

Clown Car

Huckabee and Paul slated to appear in “Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity” [HuffPo].

“If homosexual activists get everything they want, it will be nothing less than the criminalization of Christianity,” argues an unidentified man featured in the “Light Wins” trailer. A second trailer, also posted by Right Wing Watch, argues that the Boy Scouts of America “needlessly caved to a dark sexual agenda that violates the safety [and] innocence of our children” perpetrated by the “homosexual lobby.”


Historical survery of split ticket voting [Smart Politics].

The Hill

“Loretta Lynch is Condoleeza Rice With A Law Degree” [Black Agenda Report]. Serious, must-read massive takedown from Bruce Dixon, about much more than Lynch.

Democrats start to form a united front against Republican-led efforts to open the Fed’s internal discussions of interest rate and other policy matters to the public [Reuters]. After Elizabeth Warren gave them all cover, one might add.

Obama’s actions on war powers don’t match his stated aspirations [New York Times]. Film at 11.

Herd on the Street

Times New York real-estate serial exposé moves on from Mexican oligarchs to Russian ones [New York Times]. At the Time-Warner Center.

Goldman: Oil price crash caused by over-supply, not lack of demand, and here to stay [Bloomberg].

Cheap gas boosts restaurant stocks: Wendy’s, Papa John’s, Sonic Corp. and Bob Evans Farms [Bloomberg]. “Farms,” forsooth.

Twitter buys Niche, a startup that acts as a “talent agency” online video celebrities with advertisers [AFP]. As long as I can block them…

Google the next AOL? [New York Times]. “The future of online advertising looks increasingly like the business of television.” Heaven help us.

Stats Watch

Bill Mitchell takes a deep dive into the JOLTS data [Bill Mitchell].

Jobless claims, week of February 7, 2015: “Initial claims rose 25,000 in the February 7 week to a higher-than-expected 304,000 but the 4-week average actually fell” [Bloomberg]. Continuing claims also fell.

Retail sales for January, 2015: Down, below consensus. “[C]onsumers are not yet putting higher discretionary income into spending on non-gasoline categories of retail sales even as confidence has improved” [Bloomberg]. “The latest retail sales numbers are not consistent with increased discretionary income and higher confidence.”

Business inventories, December 2014: “Business inventories growth was modest in November” [Bloomberg].

Police State

Miami cops flood Waze with bogus speed trap data [Techdirt].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Office of the Controller of the currency order closes last bank in Somalia handling money transfers; remittances from the Somali diaspora supply about half the country’s GNP. This shuts off Hawala as well [Guardian].

Our Famously Free Press

Intense debate at NBC over firing Brian Williams for Iraq disinformation (they didn’t) [WaPo]. So finally somebody pays a professional price for lying about Iraq! And to think cynics and naysayers said this would never happen.


Time-Warner holds “educational forum” on municipal broadband in Maine, which has some of the lowest broadband speeds in the country [Daily Dot].

The nation’s second-largest cable and Internet provider paid for the hotels and lavish meals of the politicians who attended the conference, which was held in Cape Elizabeth. These lawmakers “were served steak dinners,” according to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting (MCPIR), “and some were put up for the night in rooms that retail for $205 to $355 per night.”

Rep. Mark Dion, a Democrat who attended the conference and ate two meals on TWC’s dime, told MCPIR, “I think this idea of meals and conversations is how Augusta [the state capitol] functions on some level.”

Some level?

UK Home Secretary Theresa May picks New Zealand judge to investigate “claims that senior figures in British public life participated in a violent pedophile ring, and that they were protected by an establishment cover-up spanning more than three decades” [Vice].

Tory government gives Tory Council to sell public housing estate worth £2 million for £0 (!) [Adam Langleben].

Oregon Governor Kitzhaber decided to quit but changed his mind [AP].

Money politics and Keystone XL [Informed Comment]. Nothing we didn’t know, but with numbers.

Class Warfare

Posh actors said damaging to society [Hollywood Reporter].

Labor short Singapore replaces waiters with tableside tablets and drones [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

  • Amazing that riding a bus has a “shame factor” and driving a car doesn’t [New York Times]. Oil is a nasty and disgusting substance that should be left in the ground, and only extracted after ritual purification. Using it should be taboo, and people should be ashamed of breaking the taboo.
  • What is DevOps (yet again)? [O’Reilly Radar]. “Empathy is the essence of DevOps.” If so, it’s hard to think of a name less suggestive of empathy than “DevOps.”
  • 1962 recording of Sylvia Plath reading 15 poems from Ariel [Open Culture].
  • “Gilbert Gottfried Reads 50 Shades of Grey” [YouTube (NSFW)].
  • Chinese web censors now have their own song [YouTube]. “网络强国 一个我在世界代表着国家/ Internet Power! One self represents the nation to the world” [Wall Street Journal].
  • “Grow vegetables extensively in greenhouses!” [Guardian]. One of 300 new North Korean slogans, and one with which I agree.
  • New York State Assembly passes bill to help farmers fight GMO seed lawsuits [WCAX]. Super. Any New Yorkers out there please send me links on the progress of the bill.
  • Crows understand analogies [Scientific American].
  • Great Backyard Bird Hunt begins today (Friday) [Online Athens]. This is an awesome global citizen science project. If any of you participate, please describe in comments, and if any of you have photos (of birds, that is) please send them to me, and perhaps we can use them in Antidotes!

* * *

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 (via):


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

Talk amongst yourselves!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Jim Haygood

    Greece’s ‘program or Grexit’ choice now leans toward the former, says Bloomberg:

    Germany won’t insist that all elements of Greece’s current aid program continue, said two officials in Berlin. As long as the program is prolonged, they said, Germany would be open to talking about the size of Greece’s budget surplus requirement and conditions to sell off government assets.

    For its part, Greece is prepared to commit to a primary budget surplus, as long as it’s lower than the current 4 percent of gross domestic product, according to Greek government officials. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s coalition also might be willing to compromise on privatizations, one of the officials said. All the officials asked not to be named because the deliberations are private and ongoing.


    It was never going to happen that Europe would waive program conditionality. A compromise which Europe can accept, and Tsipras can present as a victory back home, is certainly imaginable.

    Evicting the Troika monitors likely will be the largest bone of contention in negotiating a Program 2.1 deal. Who’s going to monitor compliance?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Any program that doesn’t immediately solve the Greek youth unemployment rate is doomed to fail. The rest is just useless commentary.

      It’s the same reason Team Blue was hammered in the last election and a few promises such as free community college won’t work. People need incomes before a tax credit matters.

      1. Jim Haygood

        I don’t disagree with you. But employment is a notoriously lagging variable. It’s taken six years of expansion in the U.S. to recover most of the employment losses of 2008. There are no immediate fixes.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          How do you tell people that? You can’t. This Greece situation has gone on too long. The U.S. unemployment problem has probably gone on so long that anything resembling the current Team D party can only count on 2014 being the new normal.

        2. Calgacus

          There are no immediate fixes: It is very easy to not fix something which you are trying to not fix. The US government has been trying to not fix unemployment since 2008.

          Of course there is a quick, simple and easy fix to unemployment. Jobs. It has worked very well where and whenever it was tried. Just like there is a quick and effective fix to thirst: Water, to hunger : Food.
          But weird economics & wacky accounting is inculcated so deeply that people find baroque, circuitous and ineffective ideas more natural than obvious, straightforward and effective ones. Indoctrination from birth has convinced everyone that the obvious solution has mystical, catastrophic defects – which have never been observed anywhere, though.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Not with a Jobs Guarantee. And a measure of how left Syriza really is (not very) that’s not on offer. Just some rehires of those sacked by the “structural reform.”

  2. Clive

    Don’t worry about Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen before to impressionable types and nine times out of ten, it’s just a passing phase they’re going through. They’ll most likely grow out of it in a few years.

    1. MikeNY

      Huckabee and Paul in the company of Phyllis Schlafly and James Dobson. Now, that’s some august company!

      Clown Car? Loony Bin.

  3. hunkerdown

    GILBERT GOTTFRIED. A more audacious delight I have rarely seen before or since, though I suggest it might have been a Valentine better delivered tomorrow…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Having only seen the commercials for the “phenomenon**”, I can’t imagine the erotica parts can hold a torch to the dialogue. “I think your heart is bigger than you let on” “my tastes are very specific” “let me enlighten you” “never learn not to love”****

      **20 years ago they put Fabio on the cover of these “books”. Jack Nicholson’s character in “As good as it gets” wrote this stuff.

      ****That was Charlie Manson

  4. Ulysses

    Of course, the “posh” actor problem isn’t only a British issue. Christopher Reeve went to Princeton Country Day and Cornell. I think a lot of the difficulty for working and middle-class actors stems directly from the sky-high rents in London, New York, and L.A. It’s simply not possible to wait tables, or whatever, and go to a lot of auditions, and still pay the rent.

    I know some working class thespians in London and NYC. All of them, without exception, have had to rely on the extreme generosity of friends and relations to survive. To their credit, many established (and therefore relatively affluent) actors quietly do a lot for their less famous brothers and sisters.

    The same dynamic applies for musicians and visual artists, of course, but for them it’s a bit less essential to actually live in the expensive cultural centers.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Any field of endeavor limited to an upper class talent pool will inevitably suffer from mediocrity and likely cultural irrelevance as well.

  5. timbers

    Long term underfunding of Boston’s public transportation – the MBTA i- s getting lots of media attention here, with it failing during the snow storms. Yet few Dems notice at the same time Obama is calling for more wars and bombings, and they could be telling their Congress people to vote NO to these and instead spend it on the Boston MBTA and public transportation across the U.S.

  6. gonzomarx

    re: Posh actors said damaging to society
    this has been rumbling a long for a while in the UK.

    Too few working-class parts on mainstream TV, says arts academy head

    David Morrissey says acting is closed off to young people from working-class backgrounds

    Maxine Peake: Britain needs more working-class actresses

    Julie Walters: lack of working-class actors is sad

    Arts world must address lack of diversity, says Labour’s Chris Bryant

    Where have all the working-class actors gone?

    1. steviefinn

      This doesn’t surprise me, as I imagine most of the output in UK films tends to feature posh people, relative to their percentage of the population & they are in a much better position to support themselves. A lot of output is geared to selling well in the US, as in Downton Abbey, Four Weddings & unfortunately only one funeral, which are much more likely to sell well than working class realist, austerity films.
      British films have always relied on a mainly posh ensemble of actors who seem to appear in almost everything & in earlier times there was such a thing as the RADA accent, which was usually not much better than Dick Van Dyke’s in Mary Poppins. Peter ‘O’ Toole had to get rid of his working class Yorkshire accent in order to succeed – something that is heard often in ‘ Game of Thrones ‘ as a welcome change. I know from my own family that the fantasy of Downton Abbey is very popular – they spare little thought to the reality of the lives of my servant ancestors.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Anecdotally, it’s interesting to me how many entertainment figures today are the children of the previous generation of entertainers. I don’t think this problem is exclusive to the UK.

      One also thinks of Cary Grant, born Archibald Leach to working class (?) parents in the UK and moving, via vaudeville, to Hollywood. One wonders whether such mobility is even possible today.

      1. steviefinn

        Yes, Cary Grant had a very strange accent, which is probably the result of his original West country accent & his self taught elocution. You could add two other famous examples, as in Stan Laurel, who kept his accent & Chaplin who muted his cockney one.

        Chaplin’s story is as you probably know is amazing. He & his brother spent most of their early life in a workhouse as he had no father & his mother was thrown into an asylum, probably for depression. He later rescued her, something he would not been able to do but for his success. Today’s closest equivalent would perhaps be Russell Brand, whose film career I think I am right in saying is mainly US based. I don’t think anyone will ever match Chaplin’s monologue from ‘ The Great Dictator ‘ – always gives me goose bumps, as you would say.


      2. Inverness

        During the 40’s, the great Montgomery Clift hinted at having more modest roots, since so many theater directors and writers had socialist, revolutionary backgrounds (before McCarthyism hit). So he avoided the Brooks Brothers suits for awhile. Certainly Marlon Brando and James Dean actually did come from lower-middle class families, and didn’t have to spend tens of thousands on NYU to get stage training. Rather, the Actor’s Studio and Stella Adler provided for them.

        These days, you can still get cheap acting classes (for now, anyway) at New York City’s HB Studio. That’s no accident: the founders wanted all who wanted to become actors to have that opportunity. Al Pacino, son of poor Sicilian immigrants, learned much of his trade there.

        1. steviefinn

          That’s good to know but there is a lot more scope in the US for Pacino blue collar types roles – as the late great Shakespearean & sometime film actor John Geilgud once remarked, when he arrived back in England from a trip to Hollywood – something to effect of : I am afraid I lack the necessary talents that one needs, in order to play a truck driver.

  7. gonzomarx

    Guardian has this…

    European Central Bank throws Greece a lifeline before crunch eurozone talks
    Extension of emergency lending facility to Greek finance sector lifts euro and gives PM Alexis Tsipras stronger hand before leaders’ summit in Brussels

  8. Jeff W

    One of 300 new North Korean slogans, and one with which I agree.

    Hardly surprising, lambert. Who among us hasn’t suspected you of such, uh, sympathies? What’s next—“Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms!”? (That one, I have to tell you, seems to have met with some success already.)

  9. MarcoPolo

    As an avid avian aficionado myself I’ve always been circumspect of the scientific value of this Backyard Birdcount and it’s reliance on those species found in urban / suburban / manufactured habitat; many of which are exotics and have displaced native species that might be more useful to study. I’m sure there is a benefit to providing this avenue to participate as “citizen scientists”. And I wish that didn’t sound so patronizing. Most of our data on bird populations has been collected precisely by non-professional citizen scientists. And I wouldn’t want to discourage anybody who enjoyed making those records, but there are, IMO, better opportunities for study. Audubon’s Christmas Birdcount is one of those. Contact your local Audubon chapter. Further, anyone who had an interest in changing populations has lots of data to look at that has never been analyzed. Fish and Wildlife, or whatever the modern counter-part to that is, has tonnes.

    1. ambrit

      Back in the ‘Long Ago,’ almost all ‘natural philosophy,’ was carried out by aficionados and gifted amateurs. Real, subsidized ‘scientists’ were few and far between. Going back to ‘Classical’ times, ‘scientists’ had a hard time of it. They were generally viewed as a superior artificer.
      The true need for extensive data collection today is because the natural world is entering a period of rapid change and species extinction. Some of these birds we see today won’t be around in fifty or a hundred years. The data can always be processed, but not always collected.
      The second, more subtle and useful function of this ‘crowdsourcing’ of natural observation will be in the legions of people who are awakened to the disaster facing us. Some of those ‘newly awakened’ will be influential, others will band together to gain influence. Either way, the more people involved, the better our chances of effecting change. Any positive change, no matter how small, is a victory for the environment, and naturally, for ourselves and our posterity.

  10. jrs

    Democrat’s don’t want auditing of the Fed eh? I guess so much for public banking in that case. How much have those Democrats taken from banksters? Yea the Republicans are probably mostly playing a game, but if you have Dems openly announcing on whose side they are really on, might as well pay attention.

    “Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the committee, is against the bill, his spokeswoman said. While Brown has supported certain Fed transparency bills before, “he does not see how this legislation will benefit working Americans” Brown Spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak said in an email.”

    With all due respect (as if) Sherrod Brown I would settle for if it led to guillotining the bankers and other assorted 1%ers, even if there was no economic benefit to working Americans. You can call the benefits purely hedonic! So benefits to working Americans – we want their heads on posts! How about that?

  11. Ben Johannson

    Bill Mitchell mak8ng clear the supply-side nonsense regarding labor “markets” and unemployment. A must-read for anyone interested in how depraved the thinking of economists can be.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Yes, very clear and insightful.
      It’s really shocking what is conventionally taught as labor economics. It is every bit a religion, notable only because the holy books have lots of graphs.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The 1980 GOP nomination race and 76 too was a contest between proto-Teabaggers and country club Republicans. Much of the GOP base never liked 41, but they loved 43. 43 was an obvious drunk, and deep down, they saw him as being one of them. Jeb is not a drunk. He belongs to the 41/Mittens crowd.

      In 2012, GOP voters looked everywhere for a candidate not connected with the GOP blue bloods. The Christians, libertarians, and anyone recruited by Reagan or Newt doesn’t want Jeb or anyone from a blue blood GOP dynasty. Tribalism trumps hypocrisy, they want someone from their tribe. Amazingly enough, the kind of Republican who knows the name “Henry Kissinger” doesn’t want those lesser groups grabbing the top spot in case they can’t control them. Jeb is GOP blue blood through and through.

  12. Code Name D

    They goose the Warren Poll? Okay, that raised an eyebrow. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s kind of become a cult of personality. Some have latched onto Warren as the anti-Clinton.

    I hate to say it. But my gut says that the fix is already in and it has Hillary’s name on it. So the reformers within the party have got to be getting rather desperate to create some kind of alternative.

    I don’t think Warren has a chance in hell in securing the nomination. Too many bankers don’t like her.

    But on the other hand, I don’t think Hillary has a chance in winning the general election. She has so little vision and imagination; the girl could likely lose against the Sun of Sam.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Whether she wins also depends on who her opponent is. Jebbie? Walker? Crubio? Hard to see Clinton losing to one of those guys. Not that I’m saying vote for any of them, mind you.

    2. andyb

      Hillary was a Marxist when Marxism was “cool”; now, having smelled money, she’s morphed into just another neocon psychotic fascist, willing to sell out America for some shekels from the Rothschild Zionist cabal.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You don’t think I mean the “principled insurgents” are really principled, do you?

      The clown car people aren’t dangerous. They’ll never make to the White House, IMNSHO. Walker, however, is dangerous.

      1. andyb

        And Hillary or Jeb wouldn’t be dangerous? Both members of families who extol the totalitarian New World Order and are responsible for the deaths of millions of innocents, not to mention some notable pols.

Comments are closed.