2:00PM Water Cooler 2/16/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


If Clinton really wants to run a populist campaign focused on wage earners, as opposed to creative class professionals and the political class, she has a model to follow: The now-forgotten post-caucus-debacle Clinton primary campaign of 2008 [Daily Beast].

MoDo: “[L’affaire Brock] is a bad harbinger for those who had hoped that Hillary would ‘kill off the wild dogs,’ as one Obama loyalist put it [New York Times]. If you ask me, letting the wild dogs loose — presumbly, on Republicans — is exactly what the Democrats should have done in 2009 and signally failed to do. But it’s good to see the Obama administration already trashing the Clintons.

Some Democratic activists miffed that they’re getting fundraising mail from Hillary when she hasn’t declared [Politico].

Hillary Clinton and Bill Frist on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Reauthorize it [New York Times]. Because of the “family glitch” in ObamaCare, CHIP may be the only coverage some children can get.

Private equity fan boi Cory Booker has no Presidential aspirations [The Hill]. BWA-HA-HA-HA!!!! Sorry I didn’t warn you to put down your coffee. Anyhow, click through to check out the lamest scripted exchange between host and guest EVAH.

NBC News/Marist poll: Seven different Republican candidates get double-digit support in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Caroline: The early voting states. Only Bush and Walker are in double digits in all three [NBC]. Of course, 37 weeks is a long time in politics.


Bush on Iraq: “I won’t talk about the past. I’ll talk about the future. If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past. It’s about trying to create a set of ideas and principles that will help us move forward” [Bloomberg]. Relitigate Iraq? Na ga happen. And the beauty part of a Bush v. Clinton race is that neither candidate would want to!

Bush aide Thomas Collamore: The Bush “family business” is “extending the political network” [New York Times]. Rather like the other dynasties in play, the Clintons and the Romneys.

Three Iowa hires from Perry [Des Moines Register].

Principled Insurgents

Ted Cruz has the Tea Party vote [WaPo].

Clown Car

Huckabee tops Iowa NBC News/Marist poll [Bloomberg].

Huckabee on Israel-US relationship: “It matters because there is an organic relationship, as well as an organizational relationship, that our countries mirror each other in our form of government, in the way we operate and in even the reason we operate” [Christian Broadcasting Network]. Speaking from Jerusalem, where he’s on a ten-day trip.

The Hill

James Fallows on the Netanyahoo fracas: “I am deadset against my country drifting into further needless unwinnable wars” [The Atlantic]. Drifting?

“Exploring the U.S. National Security Strategy Reports” [Dart Throwing Chimp]. Interactive term counts for the US National Security Strategy Reports. Type in “terror” and watch the graph jump! Interestingly, Ukraine starts moving up in 2010.

Republicans yet to come up with the symbolic H.R. 1 [Bloomberg]. Although H.R.s 3, 5, and 7 have been assigned. Odd.

Herd on the Street

Rolls-Royce has been accused of involvement in a multibillion-dollar bribery and kickback scheme at Petrobras [FT, “Rolls-Royce accused in Petrobras scandal”]. Gas turbines.

Apple mulls iCar [Reuters]. No, really. Google isn’t the only tech company with more money than they know what to do with.

Canadian National oil train derails, catches fire in Ontario [McClatchy].

University Watch

A study of nearly 19,000 faculty in the United States and Canada finds that top universities “form a kind of insular academic club, hiring most of their faculty from others in a small, elite network” [Boston Globe]. Shocker! The study: “Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks” [Science Advances].

The richest universities have aggressive investment strategies, “punting large sums on risky ventures such as private equity and hedge funds” [The Economist].

“What’s Wrong With Public Intellectuals?” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. Long-form, interesting. “If there is a task, it might be to participate in making “the public” more brilliant, more skeptical, more disobedient, more capable of self-defense, and more dangerous again—dangerous to elites, and dangerous to stability.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Alex Landau’s 2009 beating by Denver cops gets renewed attention after Ferguson [Westword].

Mississippi Federal District Judge Carlton Reeves remarks at the sentencing hearing for three perps of a lynching [Breach of Peace].

The names of black women killed by police continue to be less known [HuffPo].


If Bharara indicts Cuomo, will New York Democrats throw him under the bus as fast as Oregon Democrats threw Kitzhaber? [Albany Project].

North Carolina: Sex between lobbyists and government officials “does not constitute a gift that must be listed in disclosure reports” [News-Observer]. For some definition of sex, obviously.

Class Warfare

Robert Reich [Facebook (sorry)]:

I spoke yesterday with one of the Democratic Party’s movers and shakers who said “Democrats should be talking more about economic growth and less about inequality.” I told him he couldn’t be more wrong. Growth isn’t the issue. The economy has been growing nicely. It’s more than twice as large as it was three decades ago. The problem is almost all the growth has gone to the top. If Democrats stand for anything, it should be the wellbeing of the bottom 90 percent whose incomes have been dropping for thirty years, adjusted for inflation. Stop worshipping the GDP and start talking once again about the public good and the common welfare – phrases that have all but disappeared. Economic growth doesn’t matter when the social compact has been shredded, and the basic bargain that once knitted us together has come apart.

He seemed not to have the foggiest idea what I was saying. Maybe that’s because he’s a major fundraiser whose personal wealth puts him in the top one-hundredth of 1 percent. That’s a huge problem for the Democrats (and, of course, the Republicans). The money they need to be elected comes from people who don’t understand or care what’s happening to most Americans, and think it’s all about economic growth.

“[L]eading citizens … have struggled to maintain their grip on reality” [FT, “The dream worlds of the rich and famous”]. Maintain? Oh, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Brian Williams. I thought the problem was broader than that. To be fair: “All the rest of us can do is bear these cases in mind when we watch the rich and the powerful pontificate on television or from behind the podiums at gatherings of the great and the good.” All?

News of the Wired

  • 630 people set a new Guinness World Record by building 1,585 snowmen in one hour in Iiyama, Nagano Prefecture [Japan Times]. Take that, Boston!
  • 1983’s wonderful “Introduction to Machine Code for Beginners” [Usborne Publishing (PDF)]. Right down to the metal….
  • “Sleuthing Search Engine: Even Better Than Google?” [Wall Street Journal]. Not quite “nodal points” territory, but still….
  • Will Bunch on David Carr [Philadelphia Inquirer].
  • “10 lessons learnt from 50 Shades Of Grey” [GQ]. Sadistic squillionaries are having a cultural moment. I can’t think why.
  • The timeliness of Simenon’s Maigret series, now entering the public domain [Los Angeles Review of Books].
  • Cricket: India v. Pakistan [Guardian]. Fun to read sports reporting when you know nothing of the sport!
  • “Nearby, a partly burnt human corpse caught on some underwater obstruction twists in the current, jet-skiers amuse themselves by roaring in circles, and dogs gnaw at the ribcage of a dead cow” [FT, “The Ganges: holy, deadly river”]. Not that the Chicago River, say, or the Rhine, weren’t afflicted with the same ills.
  • “Perhaps the single keenest insight [William] Catton had is that humans have become detritovores, organisms that live off the dead remains of other organisms” [Resilience]. Exactly what oil is, right?
  • The Discovery of Global Warming [Spencer R. Weart]. “A hypertext history of how scientists came to (partly) understand what people are doing to cause climate change.” Important!

* * *

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 (TF):

cactus flower

Cactus in Chile. Thanks, readers, for the cacti. I could use a few more!

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. craazyboy

    Ya mean Hillary run as The Populist Hillary Care Dove???? Maybe call it the “Yes We Can” campaign?

    Why does the Democratic Party think that would even work???

    That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is too depressing to contemplate.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The 2008 Clinton campaign won all the big states and 50% plus a smidge of the popular vote (if all the votes are counted) with no favorable media coverage. That looks like a strong campaign to me; they lost the media, if they ever had them, and lost control of the party apparatus; I’d argue those are the two factors that made the difference. I think the main failings came at the beginning, when the Obama campaign, rather like the Germans slicing through the Ardennes, outflanked the Clinton campaign with their caucus-focused strategy, and at the end, when the Clintons and Obama cut whatever the heck deal they cut (failure not from the standpoint of the Hillary Clinton campaign, but in terms of taking the Democrats out of neo-liberal stasis). We forget that Obama, despite all the hoopla, couldn’t put the McCain/Palin ticket away; they kept hanging on until Lehman.

  2. Vatch

    Nice article about William Catton, the author of Overshoot. We had some chances to do the right things for our species and the biosphere a few decades ago, but at this point, we’re guaranteed to have some hard times ahead of us.

  3. PQS

    The richest universities have aggressive investment strategies, “punting large sums on risky ventures such as private equity and hedge funds”

    Of course, not a single thought of maybe raising adjunct salaries and providing better benefits, or lowering tuition costs across the board, or anything else that might benefit anyone outside the “insular circles” of the 1%, and Wall Street…why are things like that never part of any “investment strategy”? What about investing in the future, not just the future of money?

  4. upstater

    There was another crude oil train derailment today:


    CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An eastbound CSX Transportation loaded crude oil train traveling has derailed Monday afternoon near Montgomery, about 25 miles southeast of West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston. Preliminary reports dispatched to local emergency management personnel indicated a large explosion was associated with the derailment. A 1.5-mile precautionary evacuation has been established in the vicinity of Montgomery, according to local emergency management officials.

    Local media reports indicate that some structures in the vicinity of the derailment are on fire and that some of the derailed tank cars are in the Kanawha River.

  5. ProNewerDeal

    is there any chance an New Deal economic progressive has any chance at the Dem primary? It E Warren not running as she says? Is this really a Hellary Coronation? Could there be a scandal that could derail Hellary Reagan VI before the Primary ends?

    US Fed Gov politics looking so depressing ever since many of us (myself included) were naively conned by the Pope of Hope 0bama Reagan V in 2008, with his ConMan-ish false hopes of economic progressive change, like “the Public Option” he campaigned on. Now with Hillary getting coronated… even Gee Dubbz Reagan IV was wise enough to know “fool me twice.. I can’t get fooled again!”

    1. hunkerdown

      If by Democratic primary you mean the national convention, what evidence do you have that the Democratic Party (the sales organization, whom we should very carefully distinguish from its subscribers, if only because the corporation’s sales pitch depends upon blurring it) even bends that way?

      Besides, why would you want to confirm the precedent of picking up capitalism, dusting it off, and putting a tourniquet on your own severed limbs before the next pitch? That is, after all, what the New Deal was: the barest bit of temporary socialism to allow capital to regroup and win next time. I thought Progressivism was about learning from one’s mistakes…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      As I said, “37 weeks is a long time in politics.” I don’t think we can know or predict. One thing we can to is chip away and chip away at the choices presented to us, which (you’ll notice) I’m doing with both parties and all candidates… There Is No Alternative. Until there is!

    3. different clue

      At this point people for New Deal Restoration might consider calling themselves New Deal Reactionaries.

      I am a New Deal Reactionary. The New Deal was a good deal for most of us. I want my New Deal back.

  6. YY

    Japan single-handedly keeps the Guinness records people in business. Note that the snowmen are easier to make in Japan, for the record, as they consist of body and head (two lumps of snow) only, not legs, body and head (three lumps of snow) that one finds in Euroamerica. They are called yuki daruma, or dharma as it were.
    This is a huge East-West cultural difference and should be subject to greater awareness. I have no idea what snowmen look like in Korea or China, assuming they have them.

      1. different clue

        Here is a wiki on the Daruma San doll and the Daruma San figure whom it honors.

        I first read about the Daruma figure in Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution . . . where he said he hoped/hopes to be like the scowling bottom-weighted inflatable Daruma punching-doll which stands right back up every time it is punched down.

  7. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    My intellectual gag reflex is on a hair trigger these days, there’s an ever-growing list of names, proper nouns, and phrases that immediately cause the reaction. Once the word or name comes into view I immediately quarantine it from any further cognition, I think it must be a survival instinct designed to conserve neuron-firing energy. The list lengthens daily: Obama. Hilary. Jeb. Donald. Sarah. Republican. Democrat. ObamaCare. Wall Street. Washington. Reform. Legislation. Iraq. Iran. Israel. Facebook. SnapChat. Madonna. Miley. Social network. Yes We Can. Right To Life. European Central Bank. Justice Department. Patriot Act. Free Trade Agreement. Seamlessly. Tweet. Having deleted these concepts from my cogno-sphere leaves me room to ponder the things that are real, the things with substance, and the things that can bring about change.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, I’ve managed, as you see, to successfully suppress my gag reflex. One thing to consider is that not everyone gathered round a real-life water cooler (or in a coffee shop or in a church social or the bar) will have the same energy conservation strategy that you do; they will, for example, accept the highly unlikely (though admittedly possible) idea that one or another of the Presidential candidates is operating in good faith. If you wish to converse with them, therefore, you will need talking points, and it is one of the editorial goals of this platform to provide them. Think of the Water Cooler as providing you with a Waldo remote manipulator, as required to handle highly toxic material in safety…

      1. ambrit

        What a way to pour a drink! Do you know what Midtown watering hole has this quality of service? I just have to stop in there for a snort if I ever get up to The Big City.

    2. different clue

      These things don’t disappear just because one delete’s them from one’s own cognitive awareness.

      To paraphrase Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in TPP, but TPP is very interested in you.

  8. bruno marr

    Early Computing

    The computer coding (PDF) booklet was a time traveller. Didn’t do any machine coding myself, but was an avid user of BASIC on my campus DEC timeshare mainframe in 1977. Didn’t get my first PC until 1981. An IBM screamer with 16K RAM. My current laptop has 10 times the computing power (if not more) than the campus DEC mainframe. Moore’s Law is truly breathtaking.

  9. norm de plume

    ‘Fun to read sports reporting when you know nothing of the sport!’

    Not so much fun to see when it’s no contest, though Kohli’s batting is pretty to watch. More excitement watching some of the fans, er.. supporting their team:


    Cricket ain’t the genteel game many assume any more. It never was, really. Most young guys from the subcontinent who went to games when I was a lad weren’t as meaty as those in the video, but now we have gyms and supplements. That’s progress I guess.

  10. Howard Beale IV

    “1983’s wonderful “Introduction to Machine Code for Beginners” [Usborne Publishing (PDF)]. Right down to the metal….”

    That’s Osborne Publishing, not Usborne Pubishing.

    At least the Z80 and 6502 were simple microprocessors. IBM just released the zEC13 mainframe, and its Principles of Operations Manual has still yet to be published-the last POP manual for the zEC12 was 1600 pages.

    This box (about the size of a refrigerator) ain’t your father’s mainframe. And yes, I program bare metal on these boxes-no way can Java and .NET can keep up.

    Hell, many shops (including some top banks) use IBM mainframes running z/VM to run thousands of Linux instances simply because these things are that bulletproof.

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