2:00PM Water Cooler 2/24/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Morgan-Stanley exec unexpectedly won’t be Clinton finance chair [Politico]. “Clinton is contemplating a very flat fundraising structure that doesn’t include the customary post of finance chair – in part because the Clintons have so many friends.” What could go wrong?

Glenn Greenwald on Hillary Clinton: “She’s the ultimate guardian of bipartisan status quo corruption” [Salon]. Hmm. Ultimate, or penultimate?

Why hasn’t that loveable goof, Joe Biden, issued a Sherman statement? And why does he keep travelling to Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire? [Wall Street Journal, “Biden’s Trips Fan 2016 Race Speculation”].

Wisconsin’s Feingold to run again for Senate, say insiders [National Journal].

Republican superdonor Muneer Satter contributes $352,000 to Rahm Emanuel [Bloomberg]. But Emmanuel is a Democrat! Oh, wait…

Principled Insurgents

Walker now fundraising on attacks from the “liberal media” [New York Times], in this case Dan Balz and Bob Costa [Cilizza, WaPo], over the “I don’t know whether Obama’s a Christian” gotcha and ensuing flap. Interestingly, Cilizza makes the press part of the story. That’s not done.

Walker said “No” on so-called right to freeload work legislation until it reached his desk, whereupon he said “I’ll sign it!” [Appleton Gazette]. Seems a little Machiavellian for a P.K., doesn’t it?

Cruz says some Republicans reined in Nixon when he “abused power”, so where are the Democrats to do the same with Obama? [Business Insider].

Rubio on Clinton: “[I]f Hillary Clinton runs for president, she will get more money out of Wall Street than any presidential campaign ever — and that’s a fact. Part of the reason is that many of these industries feel very comfortable with her there” [Boston Herald].

Clown Car

Litmus test: Candidates who question “Obama’s religion [He’s a Muslim!] and background [Birtherism!]” go in the clown car [The Hill]. Maybe the Republicans could try draining their fever swamp, starting with not making sh*t up? (The Hill quotes Norquist, on dealing with the base, saying “You may not like mosquitoes, but you will get bit if you don’t prepare.” I think the fever swamp — where the mosquitoes breed — is the buried metaphor Norquist had in mind.

Jindal, on the White House lawn: “The president has really disqualified himself to be our commander-in-chief” [Wall Street Journal].

Christie to shore up his standing in New Jersey with town halls, where 37% of voters now rate him favorably [Bloomberg].

State judge says Christie broke the law when he failed to make full payments into the state’s public employee pension system [New York Times].

This story is making the rounds among Democratic tribalists [Star-Tribune]. Here’s the headline, which encapsulates the rapidly propagating meme:

Idaho lawmaker asks if woman can swallow camera for gynecological exam before medical abortion

Cue the “party of stupid” jokes, along with “the party of sexist” jokes. (And to be fair, here, Conservapedia still has no entry for vagina; there’s a redirect to Human reproduction, so indeed there’s plenty of sexism and stupid to go around in the conservative tribe.) Nevertheless, the issue isn’t what Republicans say, but what this Republican, Rep. Vito Barbieri, said, and while the headline is not fair, the article itself is:

“I was being rhetorical, because I was trying to make the point that equalizing a colonoscopy to this particular procedure was apples and oranges,” [Barbieri] said. “So I was asking a rhetorical question that was designed to make her say that they weren’t the same thing, and she did so. It was the response I wanted.”

But the rhetorical question context didn’t make it into my Twitter feed. The headline did, plus “Guess which party?” So, the Democratic tribalists can’t pillory Barbieri for being a forced-pregnancy advocate, that’s not enough or something; no, they’ve got to distort Barbieri’s words to run the “We’re smart and they’re stupid” riff they’ve run a squillion times already. Well, I ran that kind of riff myself on a daily basis for several years, starting back in 2003, and though I say it, I was pretty good at it. But now it’s 2015, the tribalists are running the same riffs, and the Democrats have “suffered devastating losses at all levels of government” (in the word of their post mortem). Maybe it’s time to rethink tactics, starting (again) with not making sh*t up?

The Hill

“Failed Nominee Weiss Morphs Into Key Debt Official at Treasury” [Bloomberg]. Yves: “Having Antonio Weiss in Treasury in any capacity sends a powerful signal that Obama remains deeply committed to advancing the pet needs of major financial firms ”

More on the DNC “autopsy”

(See NC here and here on the “Democratic Victory Task Force.”)

The visual joke — remember this is a family blog — is priceless; do click through [WaPo]. “[W]hile the DNC’s autopsy is skin-deep (at best), it does contain advice that the party should listen to. It probably won’t. But it should.”

“[P]art of the mission here is to reorient the Democratic donor class” [WaPo]. Starting with Eric Schmidt!

NBC’s First Read [NBC]. This is one of those stupid infinite scroll sites where the URL and the title that come up in Google have nothing to do with what you want to find, which is like eighteen swipes down. Anyhow, the quote. Three points:

One, the chief shortcoming the DNC highlighted was message.… Two, this nine-page “preliminary” report PALES IN COMPARISON to the big report the RNC did after its losses in 2012. And three, the DNC omitted what is perhaps the organization’s biggest shortcoming in the Obama Era: Obama’s OFA (in many ways) has become a separate party organization

Herd on the Street

“The amount of land used for new property developments in China fell more than 25 per cent last year” [FT, “Slide in China land under new development”].

Yellen on the labor market. Some optimistic bullet points, but this: “However, the labor force participation rate is lower than most estimates of its trend, and wage growth remains sluggish, suggesting that some cyclical weakness persists” [Online WSJ, “Live Blog: Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s Report to Congress”]

“Brent crude oil rose more than $1 to around $60 a barrel on Tuesday after Libya’s largest oilfield stopped production” [Reuters].

“Electronic trading makes stock markets more efficient by enabling them to react more quickly to new information, the Bank of England working paper concluded” [Bloomberg].

Stats Watch

Redbook, week of February 21, 2015: Year-on-year growth slows to 2.8 percent to 3.2 percent due to cold [Bloomberg].

Case-Shiller, December 2014: “Sales of existing homes may be slow but price traction is appearing, at least it did in December as Case-Shiller’s adjusted 20-city index shows a sharp month-on-month gain of 0.9 percent” [Bloomberg]. Unadjusted year-on0year data tell the same story.

Consumer confidence, February 2015: Spiked in January and now coming down, with a “very steep” fall in the expectations component. Current situation also dips [Bloomberg]. “The decline in expectations is worth taking note, specifically reflecting not a rise in the number of pessimists but a decline in the number of optimists.” Other reports in this space show the same decline; it could be the cold. (“Hey, kids! Let’s go buy another tank of heating oil!”)

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, February 2015: Flat [Bloomberg].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Post-Citizen Four Oscar Reddit AMA with Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald [Reddit].

“What the country still has to work out is whether the Snowden documents were simply revealing or actually transformative” [New Yorker]. Good review of Citizen Four.

Secret 2006 – 2014 HUMINT (not SIGINT) documents leaked from numerous intelligence agencies [Al Jazeera]. “The documents come from intelligence agencies around the world, including: Israel’s Mossad, Britain’s MI6, Russia’s FSB, Australia’s ASIO and South Africa’s SSA.”

“[I]f you want your encrypted web sessions to be hijacked just head to CNET Downloads or any freeware site, because they are all bundling HTTPS-breaking adware now” [How-to Geek].

“SSL-busting code that threatened Lenovo users found in a dozen more apps” [Ars Technica].

Abbott told his audience “the system has failed us”, and warned of an “ominous” new “dark age”, while doubling down on his commitment to expand the power of law enforcement agencies to fight “terrorism” [Al Jazeera].

Class Warfare

Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at Berkeley, says the “main catalyst” for the recent surge in labor unrest is inequality [Lexington Herald-Leader].

“On Monday, [Mallory] Heiney and fourteen other people who took out loans to attend Corinthian announced that they are going on a ‘debt strike.’ and will stop repaying their loans” [New Yorker]. Good. For-profit universities are a scam. Note that includes many departments within universities that are nominally non-profit, but functionally for-profit. You can spot them by their overpaid and transient administrators, as well as their impoverished adjuncts.

How and where the debtor’s prison returned [The Marshall Project].

Sketching Davos [Hyperallergenic]. I like the one of Ken Rogoff and Jamie Dimon.

News of the Wired

  • Non-coding contributors in open-source [Model-View-Culture]. No such thing, right?
  • Morality and the idea of progress in Silicon Valley [Berkeley Journal (MR)]. Must read; the Archdruid would like this one.
  • “The Betterness Manifesto”: “It’s through small changes massively distributed … that 21st century institutions are most likely to spark and ignite a great reboot” [Harvard Business Review]. From the depths of the new normal, in 2010, but still relevant.
  • “Our diseased political system is in dire need of a hefty dose of philosophy,” so teach it in high school [HuffPo].
  • Norwegian scientists: Gerbils, not rats carried the Black Plague [Proceeedings of the National Academy of Scientists]. BBC summary.
  • “Practicing Islam in Short Shorts” [Gawker].
  • “If English grammar were codified based on speech today, gonna would probably be recognised as a standard auxiliary” [Economist]. “Wanna,” “Imma”….
  • Long-form on Kim Jong Un [Vanity Fair]. “In North Korea, Kim effectively rules in the same way a 16th- or 17th-century European monarch did, by divine right.” Sounds like whoever Kim is, it’s not Joffrey. Roose Bolton?
  • Best Blog Post at “the Duckies”: Erica Chenoweth, “Nonviolent Conflicts in 2014 That You May Have Missed Because They Were Nonviolent,”at Political Violence at a Glance.
    Blogging not dead yet again. Also see Kottke.org
  • Researchers find that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat microplastic pollution [James Cook University]. Excellent news! Now how about we don’t kill it all?

* * *

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, the second of Fungus Week (RM):


Next week: How about sending me some plants snow and/or ice? Seems appropriate?

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

Yes, I’ve got to fix the hat! Thank you all for your generous help in the mini-fundraiser!

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. diptherio

    For anyone in NYC who wants to show their support for Worker Co-ops, there will be a Rally tomorrow at City Hall, 9:30 am.


    The rally and press conference will be to support passage of Intro 423––a bill that will require New York City to report on the amount of goods and services it purchases from worker cooperative businesses. This bill is a first step in assessing how more New York City dollars can flow through worker cooperative businesses––and thereby build more jobs for worker-members. Press conference starts at 10.

  2. diptherio

    Sketching Davos [Hyperallergenic]. I like the one of Ken Rogoff and Jamie Dimon.

    The Sycophant and the Sociopath.

    Note Rogoff’s pusillanimous demeanor and Dimon’s unsubtle disdain…with but a few strokes of the pen she has captured the essence of each man…

  3. Clive

    I know it kind-a seems unjustified based on conventional metrics, but I really can’t help but think that Joe Biden rightfully belongs in the Clown Car.

    1. Carolinian

      Next you’ll say that Lindsey belongs in the Clown Car. Oh wait…

      And Biden definitely belongs in the Clown Car. The man has hair plugs.

  4. Integer Owl

    Re: Researchers find that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat microplastic pollution

    Unfortunately, it seems that while they will eat it, they cannot digest it.

    “If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Dr Hoogenboom says.

    “We found that the corals ate plastic at rates only slightly lower than their normal rate of feeding on marine plankton,” [Nora Hall] says.

    The plastic was found deep inside the coral polyp wrapped in digestive tissue, raising concerns that it might impede the corals ability to digest its normal food.

    No free lunch.

  5. craazyboy

    Clown car

    So Obama was hatched from an egg in Ethiopia and baptized Muslim. Anal sex causes pregnancy in women.

    Then we wonder why people vote democrat.

    1. hunkerdown

      You raise a worthwhile question: what *is* the appropriate litmus test for the Demo Merito Aristocratic Party, and what is their vehicle? Festival bus? Sedan chair? Banana Derby?

      1. craazyboy

        Banana Derby is too cute for someone with Predator drones. I wouldn’t mind sticking with “limousine liberal”. It can be stretched to fit.

        1. different clue

          Or maybe since the discussion is focused specifically on the vehicle, how about . . . “liberal limousine”?

    2. Crazy Horse

      Actually Obama was found on a beach in Hawaii stoned out of his gourd. After a successful brain implant he was sent to Chicago for years of training in the art of Trojan horsemanship. As a somewhat black colored man he was the perfect guilt object to capture the votes of white liberals. It was just a question of waiting for the right time to deploy him. Just to cover their bases the Overlords manufactured a whole series of Bushes, each dimmer than the other, to play for the other team in the election carnival.

        1. craazyboy

          Just thought of another exceptional America line.

          America – where every kid has a chance to grow up and be smarter than the President of the United States.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Ask Barry about the Agency’s full tuition reimbursement program. You might not even be required to attend classes.

      1. Crazy Horse

        Well I don’t know. At least there was the pleasure of sex that preceded becoming infected with your disease of choice. With Democrooks and Repugnuts there is only the incredibly foul odor that you have to put up with as you punch your chad of choice.

  6. ScottW

    Hillary’s age is going to become much more of an issue as the campaign moves forward. If elected, she will be 69 years 86 days old when sworn in, making her the second oldest Pres. behind Reagan, who was almost 70. One has to go back to Harrison (9th Pres.), to find a President nearly as old as Reagan. Most were under 65.
    I question if Hillary has the physical stamina to endure a campaign and subsequent Presidency. She left Sec. of State abruptly after less than 4 years, presumably because of physical problems.

    Regan was built for being Pres. after 70, as he reportedly slept more than 8 hours a night and took a hands off approach. Maybe he was suffering from alzheimers for much of his Presidency. Clinton, on the other hand, seems much more obsessed with details, traveling, etc.

    I still see Hillary as unelectable and wonder how old the Clintons are going to look to voters ages 18-25. When I was that young, everyone over 45 looked old and those over 65 looked really, really old. And without the young vote, Hillary is toast.

    1. skippy

      Is the Hill in the process of becoming a Dementia Ward….

      Skippy… a sign of sanity is to leave…. if not flee

    2. optimader

      I agree on every point. Assuming she runs, I will fully expect her to meltdown. Chelsea has a better shot.

      1. hunkerdown

        You know, Harrison would be a fine role model for her. I’ll even hold her coat during the coronation.

    3. neo-realist

      A lack of a youth vote plus electoral fraud w/ the help of ES&S/Diebold if the race is close would doom Hillary…..against Jeb presumably.

  7. ambrit

    I am in awe of that pun embedded in the Conservapedia link. What are they thinking, that the human race is engendered through parthenogenesis?

  8. Synoia

    Researchers find that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat microplastic pollution [James Cook University]. Excellent news! Now how about we don’t kill it all?

    Documentary on algae eating parrot fish indicated warmer water fosters algae growth, and the extra algae kills the coral.

    Parrot fish, probably among others, eat the algae, and scrape it off the coral, and the coral flourishes.

    It seem we need more and better bottom feeders – is this a new career path for ex politicians?

    1. different clue

      I thought that parrot fish bit off chunks of the coral itself and chewed it up and swallowed it to get the coral animals. I thought that is where a lot of the coral sand around coral reef areas comes from. As long as the coral can outgrow the parrotfish, the coral is fine.

      1. Optimader

        Parrot fish are herbivores, they eat coral and algae. You can hear them crunching it, in my experince reef diving in the gulf of honduras, they are quite prevalent can be very loud, kindalike popcorn popping An adult will poop something like 1ton of crushed coral/year. Relentless buggers

  9. optimader

    foe anyone into this sort of thing..



    from Sandro Bocci PRO 2 weeks ago / Creative Commons License: by nc nd All Audiences

    Info/still frames: juliasetcollection.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/meanwhile/
    Our first feature film out in 2013: vimeo.com/60639577

    Meanwhile in a world far, far away …
    This is a short film created during the “Porgrave” shooting, the latest film by Sandro Bocci, that will be released in late 2015. …Meanwhile… shows the world of marine animals like corals and starfish at high magnification and during long time span through the timelapse. The music almost alien and disturbing has been joined to the images that stimulate mental associations to create a contrast, stimulate synesthesia and feelings do not necessarily harmonics and assonant.
    This is an infinitesimal part of the wonderful world in which we live and of which we should take better care. A trip through a different perspective that would encourage reflection on the consequences of our actions on each scale of space and time.
    Enjoy the vision…

    Images and editing: Sandro Bocci
    Original Music: Maurizio Morganti
    Featured: Protoreaster linckii, Scolymia , Fungia, Trachyphyllia, Symphyllia, Euphyllia divisa wilde, Zoas mix, Alien eye zoas, Tridacna maxima.
    A special thank’s to:
    Nicola Musacchio, Mario Fagioli, Julia Set Collection.

  10. OIFVet

    $30 million from his rich buddies, Obama flying in from DC to stump for him, and all it bought Rahmbo is the first-ever mayoral runoff in Chicago.

      1. OIFVet

        All Chicago outlets just called it: ’tis a runoff. The Garcia campaign supporters: let’s yell it out loud so Obama can hear us in DC. That’s world-class tr0lling of the Great Orator!

        Also too, all the money that Emanuel threw against his handful of aldermanic dissenters backfired badly: all of them are winning by large margins,

    1. sleepy

      Rahmbo forced into a runoff made my evening.

      I have been going to Chicago semi-regularly since I was a kid in the 50s, but last summer was my first visit in about 14 years. Old Chicago has disappeared, replaced by vast expanses of yuppies, and I mean vast like almost the entire northside. Kept looking for something real, but it was few and far between. Rahm’s kind of town no doubt.

      Much of the southside had been hollowed out with the prime real estate there for the picking–probably facilitated by community organizers, lol.

  11. Morak


    Oops, double posted somehow.

    There has long been a recognition in, at least some, open source projects that there is a place, even a need, for people in addition to programmers. Most programmers don’t care much for doing documentation, maintaining websites, public relations, design, helping users, etc. So there are definitely roles to be performed. It may be (often?) that the “coders” don’t express this need well, and there is most likely sexism among some groups. This link expresses some of the challenges and opportunities for “non-coders” in the open source world:

    “‘Non-coders’ in Open Source projects or: On aliens – Confessions of a ‘non-coder'”

Comments are closed.