2:00PM Water Cooler 2/5/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Clinton first choice for 56% of likely Iowa caucus-goers; Warren second at 16% [USA Today].

Iowa Democratic activists anxious for Hillary Clinton to actually campaign [Des Moines Register]. Early Obama supporter: “Arrogance will cost her.”

White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri to leave for a comparable role with the Clinton campaign, no earlier than March [Wall Street Journal].

Kindly Uncle Joe Biden visits Vice office in Brooklyn [Capital New York]. Vice staffer David Roth: “I clapped, myself. I like Joe Biden, bankruptcy bill notwithstanding.” Ouch.


Jebbie’s Detroit Economic Club speech rolls out new themage [WaPo]. And he’s better off-the-cuff than with a teleprompter, some say.

“The recovery has been everywhere but in American paychecks. The American Dream has become a mirage for far too many. So the central question we face here in Detroit and across America is this: Can we restore that dream, that moral promise, that each generation can do better?”

Jebbie wants 4% economic growth. Groaf/jawbs discussion aside, conservative nostrums don’t make that happen. Look at Wisconsinstan and Kansastan as testing labs.

But at least Jebbie didn’t insult “the 47%,” like Romney did [WaPo]. Bush “will present a conservative pro-economic-freedom [snort] case without committing the fatal political misstep of showing contempt for those who currently depend on government in any form.”

Beat-sweetener on Bush’s brain this time round, Sally Bradshaw [New York Times]. The photo of Bradshaw’s husband, a Tallahassee lobbyist, in blue jeans, holding a chicken is so precious. Just folks….

Principled Insurgents

Walker leads NH Republicans with 21% [The Hill].

Walker “has a 50-state network of wealthy contributors and small donors far more expansive than might be expected” [WaPo].

My memories of the 2011 Wisconsin protests and the Capitol occupation are gradually returning. There are many gems, but here’s a key incident (triggered by this backgrounder in The New Republic, of all places). The setting: Scott Walker was p0wned by satirist Ian Murphy, who got him on the phone under the pretext that he, Murphy, was David Koch (!). The transcript of the “prank call” reads in relevant part:

Walker: Hi; this is Scott Walker.

Murphy [“Koch”]: Scott! David Koch. How are you?

Walker: Hey, David! I’m good. And yourself?

That was the set-up. Now for the detail that caught my eye:

Murphy [“Koch”]: Right, right. We’ll back you any way we can. But what we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that. The problem with — my only gut reaction to that would be, right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them. The public is not really fond of this.

Only problem.” Look, even Nixon had the presence of mind to say “But that would be wrong,” right? Anyhow, having noted that Walker has no issues with “planting” agent provocateurs, note further that (1) Walker seems a little Machiavellian for a P.K., and that (2) voters have every right to be skeptical about any poorly documented claims from Walker that he was harassed by protesters. I mean, how do we know the putative harasser wasn’t a “planted” “troublemaker,” given that Walker expresses no ethical qualms about such tactics given the opportunity to do so? Not that I’m foily. Anyhow, we’ll hope the next prankster doesn’t get Walker on the phone while his finger is next to the button.

Clown Car

The DOJ has launched a criminal investigation of Christie and members of his administration, “pursuing allegations the governor and his staff broke the law when they quashed grand jury indictments against Christie supporters” [David Sirota, International Business Times]. That’s just silly. What’s the point of having your guy in office if he can’t quash an indictment?

Syraqistan: Ground troops to stop ISIS will be a 2016 issue; six Republican candidates “won’t dismiss that option. Others, though, hedge” [McCatchy]. Another lick at the ice cream cone…

Ukraine: Arming Ukraine would get us into a war with Russia we can’t win [Pat Buchanan]. When Buchanan is the sane one…

32 zip codes were Republican donor class lives [Bill Moyers].

The Hill

Pork inspectors: New USDA rules means American’s will “eat sh*t” [Salon]. Film at 11!

Herd on the Street

Saudi prince bails; another shareholder revolt over News Corp’s goverance structure? [ABC Australia].

Anthem hacked, loses 80 million records: “names, birthdays, addresses and Social Security numbers” [Mercury News].

Sony to break even on The Interview after online distribution gambit, free publicity [Bloomberg].

Tesco probe to consider “consider the existence and extent of practices which have resulted in delay in payments to suppliers” [FT, “Tesco to be investigated over dealings with suppliers”].

Pfizer to buy Hospira in $17 billion deal [Bloomberg].

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of January 31, 2015: “[I]nitial claims, though up 11,000, came in at a much lower-than-expected” [Bloomberg]. Healthy.

Challenger Job-Cut Report, January 2015: Layoffs elevated from September. The energy sector represented roughly 40 percent of the cuts, at 20,193 [Bloomberg].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February 1, 2015: Edged down, despite gas prices, on stocks [Bloomberg]. “Americans with annual incomes of $100,000 or more saw the biggest decrease in sentiment.” Still healthy.

Productivity and Costs, Fourth Quarter 2014: “Nonfarm productivity growth for the fourth quarter declined an annualized 1.8 percent, following a 3.7 percent jump in the third quarter. Expectations were for a 0.2 percent rise” [Bloomberg]. Blame the weather. The Fed will think this means the labor market is soft.

Chain Store Sales, January 2015: Mostly stronger year-on-year; no polar vortex [Bloomberg].

Police State Watch

Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan fights to keep Eric Garner Grand Jury details transcripts sealed [Gothamist]. But why?

NPYD chief Bratton supports making resisting arrest into a felony [Vox]. “40 percent of resisting-arrest cases are brought in by 5 percent of police officers.”

America the Petrostate

Obama in SOTU: “[C]limate change poses immediate risks to our national security.” Obama after SOTU: Opens Atlantic for drilling [Grist].

Health Care

ObamaCare enrollment on track for lowball 10 million goal with 11 days to go [McClatchy].

Our Famously Free Press

“NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted Wednesday he was not aboard a helicopter hit and forced down by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Williams repeated the claim Friday” [Stars and Stripes]. Isn’t that sort of thing hard to get mixed up about?

Class Warfare

Rich kids behaving very badly [Corrente]. “Dad paid $300,000 last time.”

American Psychological Association: 72% of adults say they’re stressed about money some of the time, and 22% experience extreme stress [Yahoo]. And I don’t think that’s people stressed about a million bucks; I think it’s people stressed about a hundred. Or ten.

One in four Americans is employed to guard the wealth of the rich [Boing Boing]. From 2010, with broken link to original. “Guard labor” is an interesting concept; I wonder if it applies to lawyers and accountants?

News of the Wired

  • Blizzard barely fazes 67-year-old man who lives year-round in a tent in Powal, Maine [Bangor Daily News]. “I saw the elderly when they start to go downhill. It was just too depressing. I just thought [camping] is what I really wanted to do.”
  • Alan Turing codebreaking documents being used as roof insulation in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park [MKWeb]. “There is a lot of pencil and crayon activity.”
  • Tweets to return to Google, but Google won’t crawl Twitter; Twitter will supply the results [The Next Web].
  • Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road mastermind, found guilty of “conspiracies to commit money laundering, computer hacking and drug trafficking” [Reuters].
  • Increasing home package delivery from Amazon an actual factor in road congestion [Slate].
  • A $34 smartphone “diagnosis dongle” to test for HIV and syphilis [Bloomberg].
  • Australia “coming apart at the seams” [Global Economic Analysis]. With a communication from Steve Keen, interestingly enough.
  • Kermit Elementary School officials called it a threat when a 9-year-old boy told a classmate he could make him disappear with a ring forged in Middle Earth’s Mount Doom, and suspended him [New York Daily News].
  • Indian air conditioner maker blames low sales on smartphone sales [Business Standard]. Interesting if true; one wonders how much demand destruction smartphones would cause?
  • “[T]he available data shows stability in anti-vaccination views across ideology” [Slate].
  • “[A]mygdala activity in response to out-group members is not innate, and develops later in adolescence” [The Conversation]. Interesting long-form explainer.
  • “Fear cultists” close main Atlanta artery for two hours Monday afternoon over art project [Another Word For It].

* * *

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:


Another bougainvillea — apparently they don’t even need good soil!

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

Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. hunkerdown

    “We have based almost everything we have done on the idea that we always need a part of our workforce that is marginalized–that we can call this group into action at any time, pay them nothing and they will do anything that needs to be done,” she says.

    Anyone that says slavery ever ended is speaking from ignorance or mendacity.

    1. Morak

      Reminded me of this:

      “We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”

      ― Konstantin Jireček

      Perhaps this is the ideal.

    2. jrs

      1 in 4 employed as guard labor might be quite a bit of power when you think about it, what if they striked or if not striked, slacked.

  2. wbgonne

    Democratic activists anxious for Hillary Clinton to actually campaign [Des Moines Register]. Early Obama supporter: “Arrogance will cost her.”

    Not if she has no viable opponent, which is clearly the Clinton strategy. The only one they fear is Warren and since Hillary won’t even declare, nevermind espouse policies, Warren won’t be incensed enough to run until it is too late. So far, the Clinton Coronation strategy appears to be working just fine.

    1. ScottW

      Hillary will never win the Presidency. She couldn’t even get the nomination in ’08 when she was younger, there was more excitement about her campaign and she was following on the heels of the Bush 8 year disaster. The Republican faithful will vote for any Republican, while Dems, and especially the young, will have little enthusiasm for Hillary (assuming she is nominated).

      With the complete failure of “Hope & Change” the public is justifiably cynical a President will do anything to change the status quo. I expect a very low voter turnout in ’16 which is good for a Republican candidate.

      1. neo-realist

        If Jebby doesn’t wine and dine ES&S/Diebold, she has a shot.

        If Scott Walker were to miraculously win the republican nomination, I believe she could beat him–I get the whiff of Pawlenty off of him. He can charm Midwestern farmers and cheeseheads and beat his local dems, but can he charm nationwide?

      2. hunkerdown

        True, as far as it concerns “football for the unpopular kids”.

        Look, if you don’t let the criminals break windows, how will you sell broken window policing? If you don’t let the vacuum cleaner salesperson’s assistant spill dirt on your floor, you’re costing vacuum cleaner salespeople “their” “jawbz”.

      3. wbgonne

        I agree that Clinton could well lose in the general election, especially if she runs against Bush (Oink Clinton v. Oink Bush; what a dreary possibility). I should have been clear: the coronation I had in mind was the Democratic nomination. A modest crown, to be sure.

        1. Dr Luny

          This is basically my analysis. There’s no way Jeb Bush could be raising money if he wasn’t already the establishment pick, the name is just too big a liability for him to win in a fair fight. Fortunately for him the Republican primaries have never been a fair fight. I expect Walker to be the VP pick.

    1. hunkerdown

      How quickly you forgot W handed out free money just for working, twice. Granted, you could make a decent case that as much of that went into the tax anticipation loan industry as to citizens.

  3. Eureka Springs

    “Democratic activists” Can’t the press name sources anymore? D party is not too far from concern trolling themselves. People looking for an extended Iowa primary paycheck? Didn’t Hillary promise last November to declare or not shortly after New Years?

  4. jo6pac

    Amazing but then again that’s how bad the cycle-0-paths are running Amerika.

    “Ukraine: Arming Ukraine would get us into a war with Russia we can’t win [Pat Buchanan]. When Buchanan is the sane one”

    Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road mastermind, found guilty of “conspiracies to commit money laundering, computer hacking and drug trafficking”

    How sad but then again he isn’t a banksters, jail time for him and bonus for banksters. The New Amerika.

  5. Oregoncharles

    ” When Buchanan is the sane one…”
    Actually, not that surprising. Buchanan is a real (as opposed to neo-) conservative and seems to be genuinely, or at least consistently, populist. So he does occasionally say sane things. Then there are the other times…

    1. fresno dan

      I remember when Buchanan pitched a fit that republicans wanted to give a (another) tax break for moving stuff off shore. To pitch a fix about it seemed like common sense, but Buchanan really was almost the only one (of course, Rubin, Summers, and that whole NAFTA democratic crowd didn’t say anything either….)

  6. McMike

    Some reality re the Measles. In three of the “outbreaks” studied by the CDC since 2011, we have the following statistics:

    565 total cases. Overwhelmingly affecting the unvaccinated. 80% to 90% or more of the cases. (Includes those too young and those missing a booster).

    Spread across age bands
    – 54 cases (10%) less than 12 m/o
    – 112 (20%) 1 – 4 y/o
    – 152 (27%) 5 – 19
    – 247 (44%) 20+

    Of the affected, 107 (19% of infected) were hospitalized. 18 of those cases hospitalized had pneumonia (3% of infected).

    Of all the cases: no deaths. No encephalitis

    In other words, under modern care, measles results in serious medium-term illness for perhaps 5% or less of the infected, and no deaths. In truth, the mortality rate from measles had plummeted long before the vaccine was introduced in the 1960s, thanks largely to public health and medical advances.

    Which means: currently the vaccine sickens, maims, and kills far more children and adults than are harmed by the disease. Nor is the vaccine as safe as the propaganda would have you believe (more on this later).

    Now, before your knee jerks about the lower incidence rate under vaccine regime, my point is; the disease is not as deadly as the hysteria would have you believe, nor is the vaccine responsible for that outcome, as the myths would have you believe.

    Note: Based on a quick review of CDC data, these hospitalization age distribution patterns are about consistent with the flu. CDC estimates that between 35 and 70 million people get the flu each year; about 100k to 200k are hospitalized; and some 30,000 to 40,000 die. Under official measures, the flu is far more deadly than measles. The CDC also notes that the vast majority of adults and more than half the children hospitalized have an “underlying condition.”

  7. Clive

    Re: Indian air conditioner maker blames low sales on smartphone sales …

    Erratic utility power supply (and cost of electricity relative to average income) has a lot more to do with it. Plus many residences don’t have a supply capable of running much more than a single window unit. Smartphones, conversely, can be charged cheaply, quickly and easily even with flaky utility services.

  8. Integer Owl

    The ‘Australia coming apart at the seams’ article was posted by Yves in the 2/4/15 links. I am reposting my reply as by the time I had posted in that thread, regarding this article, the 2/4/15 links were already off the ‘Recent Items’ list.

    I have been a reading Naked Capitalism for a significant time now, and have always refrained from commenting, as I have always felt there were those who understood the issues being presented better than me. Along with the articles, I have found some of the commentary enligtening. This is the first time I have felt compelled to comment.

    I am dismayed by the ‘Australia Coming Apart at the Seams’ article by Michael Shedlock. I have been closely following Australian politics since the Labour Government came into power in 2007 and my take on it was that there was some shady dealing that removed Kevin Rudd from the position of Prime Minister in 2010.

    Kevin Rudd had an independently wealthy wife (inherited I believe, may be wrong), and did not seem to play the ‘political’ game of money for favours, along with understanding Chinese culture and speaking fluent Mandarin. He was clearly working to cultivate a trusting relationship with the Chinese political sector.

    I have a feeling these facts upset some people, however his removal from the role of Prime Minister was presented by the media as being due to ‘keeping staff working until late at night’ and ‘having an unmanagable ego’. I always perceived him as very intelligent, btw, although perhaps a bit ‘nerdy’ (not necessarily a bad thing, imo).

    I believe hais removal was due to, for lack of a better explanation, a mild coup, with Julia Gilliard being used as the blinded-by-ambition proxy to reverse the trends detailed above. Personally, it had a feeling of familiarity with the Gough Whitlam removal, and I can’t help but note the CIA’s alleged involvement in this. This is reported on in ‘The British-American coup that ended Australian independence’ by John Pilger (available online).

    Back to the present, politically, I believe the Australian public has more sense than most ‘observers’ give us credit for, although we do seem to take everything at face value that is said by our politicians. This may be a weakness, however if reality contradicts what was said, we notice and take action at the polling booths at the soonest available time. Essentially this embodies the Australian principles of ‘giving everyone a fair go’ and ‘keeping the bastards honest’, applied by the public to our politicians.

    Essentially, in my view, the Labour Party led by Kevin Rudd, serving in the Australian public’s best interests, was corrupted by corporate interests and neoliberal ideology, and since then Australian politics has been so opaque in process and transparent in objective, i.e. to impose a neoliberal agenda, that the Australian public are just slowly canvassing the options. Tony Abbott is only a result of the dissatisfaction with the percieved party instability of Labour and the barrage of lies he made while campaigning, which did not take long to become obvious. I always perceived Tony Abbott as extremely intellectually incapable, an empty servant to higher power, and a bully. I also note that before he entered politics, he was trying to work his way up the religious flagpole.

    Of course, corporate interests were always fully behind Tony Abbott, in as much as they knew with him at the helm they could shape the law and regulations to their own interests. We are now witnessing a massive panic by the neoliberals and a large scale disinformation campaign by the corporate press, essentially aimed at chastising the Australian voting public for being greedy and short-sighted. Of course, the media is extremely consolidated in Australia, with Rupert Murdoch controlling a large portion, and I note that Abbott took measures to weaken our publicly funded ABC and SBS networks (generally presenting truthful information), and formerly worked for Murdoch, so there is (was?) a strong relationship there. Murdoch may have jumped ships already.

    For those interested, please see the Guardian article titled ‘The rightwing reaction to Queensland shows they want to rule, not govern’ by Jason Wilson, as well as the comments. While there is definitely a significant amount of schadenfreude at Abbott’s demise, I think these comments are representative of the average Australian’s political values, and feelings on the matter of the new Liberal government.

    I apologise for not linking to suggested articles, however in my NC comments reading I have noticed links sometimes cause trouble with moderation, so I have refrained.

    Lastly, big thanks to Yves and Lambert for all the good work. Cheers!

  9. afisher

    Walker’s “small donors” = Americans for Prosperity, I assume everyone knows the location from whenc theose $$$$ originated. Ah yes, the legal money laundering machine is up and running.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      One benefit to Walker of the recall was that the normal state election finance laws did not apply, so he was able to dramatically expand his fundraising efforts. As you note, the WaPo should really have said “wealthy contributors and possibly one or two small donors.”

  10. Carla

    Bush “will present a conservative pro-economic-freedom [snort] case without committing the fatal political misstep of showing contempt for those who currently depend on government in any form.”

    Whew! I’m so relieved that Jeb is not going to commit the fatal political misstep of showing contempt for banks, transnational corporations, arms manufacturers, the medical industrial complex, or any of the one-percent. I have been so worried that Jebbie might call them out for being the welfare queens they most certainly are. Thank God he’s got that under control.

  11. timbers

    “Pork inspectors: New USDA rules means American’s will “eat sh*t” [Salon]. Film at 11!”

    Eating shit is what we have to do in return for net neutrality. Or something.

      1. Optimader

        As i was informed by a college pal that is a prof of food science at cal poly, the nasty pathogens are on the surface of a piece of meat, the core of a unmolested cut of meat is sterile. So wash it before cooking and your in good shape.
        What people need to be aware of are “processed meats” (not just pork), an example being “tenderized meat” which essentially is a tough pice of meat that is injected with ensymes to digest connective tissues. The least bad part is the ensyme, what will get you arethe anerobic bugs dragged into the meat by the matrix of hypodermic needles used in the process. You can assume the worst with cheap gtound meat as well if its been sitting around. If you eat ground meat buy it as fresh as possible.
        As for Spam and bacon, i imagine when the processors are done with it their isnt much left even to support anerobic bacteria

      2. Optimader

        As i was informed by a college pal that is a prof of food science at cal poly, the nasty pathogens are on the surface of a piece of meat, the core of a unmolested cut of meat is sterile. So wash it before cooking and your in good shape.
        What people need to be aware of are “processed meats” (not just pork), an example being “tenderized meat” which essentially is a tough pice of meat that is injected with ensymes to digest connective tissues. The least bad part is the ensyme, what will get you arethe anerobic bugs dragged into the meat by the matrix of hypodermic needles used in the process. You can assume the worst with cheap gtound meat as well if its been sitting around.
        If you eat ground meat buy it as fresh as possible.
        As for Spam and bacon, i imagine when the processors are done with it their isnt much left even to support anerobic bacteria

  12. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: 9-year-old Tolkien fan suspended

    From the video, “Principal Roxanne Greer called it a TERRORISTIC THREAT.” Luckily for her, she has some sort of “confidentiality” to hide her obviously rotten judgement behind.

    Loved the dad’s response: “I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend’s existence,” the boy’s father later wrote in an email. “If he did, I’m sure he’d bring him right back.” I’m absolutely certain I would not have been so charitable.

    The keyword here is TEXAS. I think they heard that Mississippi was 50th in educational level, and they’ve decided to compete. Because bigger is always better, right?

    1. curlydan

      The kid’s name is Aiden. And the principal probably realizes that you can’t spell “Damien” without Aiden…just saying. That’s logic, folks, West Texas style.

    2. fresno dan

      I’m thinking the kid should turn the principal into a toad….or an ass…..(can’t turn the principal into an as*hat because they already are one….)

    1. Ed

      Can someone explain the recent tendency of apparently both major parties in Australia to chuck out their leaders as soon as there is a downturn in the opinion polls? This didn’t happen in Australia before the early 00s and is not happening in any other parliamentary system.

      1. Integer Owl

        Here’s my thoughts:

        As to the current Liberal Party (NLP), my take is that the neoliberal interests are trying to salvage their proposed ‘reforms’ at any cost. Tony Abbott is strongly disliked by the Australian public (‘Toxic Tony’), and even with the corporate press throwing all their weight behind him (the tide has rapidly changed recently with regard to this, almost overnight), it is obvious that he will not be able to sell/con the Australian public into accepting his ‘reforms’, which are obviously not in any working-class person’s best interests.

        Tony Abbott also firmly promised not to push for any of the reforms to undermine the social infrastructures of Australia (education, health care, publicly-funded media) during his election campaign, and swiftly sought to implement these exact policies after he was elected, so the frustration of the public is palpable. Short version: the impending change in leadership for the NLP is due neoliberal panic and trying to save their sinking ship. Watch this space for the slicker attempt to impose their greed onto the Australian public, coming soon to the vastly consolidated corporate media of Australia.

        As for the Labour (ALP) debarcle, with Kevin Rudd being replaced by Julia Gilliard, this was a little less clear, however here are some facts to consider:

        Kevin Rudd and imposed a mining tax, giving Australia a fair share of the profit from resources being dug out of the ground at a frantic pace. Big money was not happy about this decision.

        Kevin Rudd was organising having the infrastructure put in place for a world class broadband network, Australia wide. If this was constructed, it would have been a large threat to Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel cable TV service i.e. big money was not happy with this decision.

        Kevin Rudd was forging a trusting relationship with China. He spoke fluent Mandarin and seemed to be making significant progress. Perhaps a geopolitical tie that made some other Western Governments uncomfortable?

        I think the plan was to destabilise the ALP, in order to have the pendulum swing back to the right, and get a chance to ‘reform’ Australia. It was done via the corporate press and backroom dealings, and probably other sophisticated strategies that I can only imagine. That Julia Gilliard was an old aquaintance with Tony Abbott and many NLP’ ers never sat comfortably with me, however I don’t think she really understood the dynamics of what was happening at the time, I think she got played.

        The corporate press is now screaming about how the Australian public is ungovernable, short-sighted, and greedy, however this is just another pressure point being exploited by the neoliberal faction to scare the Australian public into going against their own interests. The two removals were very different in nature, in my opinion, but the common thread is a massive amount of financial power trying to impose their own agenda so they can make more money.

        As for the Australian economy, the mining boom was mismanaged, so the public lost out bigtime, however I believe our government debt is only approximately 35% (this is just off the top of my head, so +- 5%) of GDP, which is the 3rd lowest in the OECD. Housing is very expensive, however the people who are screaming about this being a problem are the ones who made it this way with various incentives for the wealthy to buy investment properties, courting overseas money to buy Australian real estate, etc, all pushing the prices up. We have a much higher personal debt as a percentage of GDP, and most of this is in mortgages of working class people.

        This is how I see it, and I hope this provides some insight. I am really hoping the Australian public will remain resolved to not let all this bs being peddled fly. I have made another post on the same topic in these comments, so apologies if I’m repeating myself, although I think there is at least some different information in each.


      2. norm de plume

        ‘as there is a downturn in the opinion polls’

        That’s a symptom rather than a cause. It’s the fact that they promise they won’t do certain terrible things, and then go right ahead and do them anyway. Like Obama I guess.

        In Queensland a few years ago the sitting Labour Party was routed root and branch, left with 7 seats to the conservative LNP’s 79; perhaps the worst defeat in Oz history. This sort of margin historically has meant safety for at least two terms so Premier Newman (similar to Abbott in some ways) whaled into his backers’ neoliberal wish list with gusto:

        ‘The Newman LNP government was one of the most neoliberal in Australia’s history. Pre-election promises to maintain public services were cynically broken. A trumped-up debt crisis was used to justify a classic neoliberal program of sweeping public service job cuts in an attempt to restore Queensland’s AAA credit rating. In a word, this was austerity. The LNP slashed health and education spending and removed environmental regulations, making it easier for businesses to pollute and to develop. Its signature policy in this campaign was privatisation – selling off state assets with the fig leaf of a 99-year lease… As tonight’s result makes clear, voters don’t like cuts to health and education, the sacking of public servants or the sale of public assets. These policies are loathed, in state politics and federally.’

        Plus fracking.


        For Campbell read Abbott, on the bigger stage. Still, I don’t think Newman would have been so comically purblind as to knight the Queen’s husband. Talk about an own goal. It’s almost endearing it’s so cack-handed.
        Watching him try to justify it was great fun. And it had the added benefit of the papers recycling some of Philip’s jokes and gaffes over the years… to a blind lady with a seeing eye dog at some function… ‘you know, I believe they have eating dogs for the dyslexic nowadays’.. to a black gentleman at a reception in England ‘so what exotic part of the world are you from?’… ‘Birmingham’ And the immortal ‘Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed’

        So we now look to Millionaire Mal Turnbull (I know all the US Congresscritters and Senators are loaded but its still the exception here) or maybe Deputy PM Julie Bishop, who seems a bit too… avid?… for me. The alternative PM in the Labour ranks is.. oh, what’s his name, he of the small target strategy.. Shorten, that’s him. His studied silence on virtually everything doesn’t inspire confidence that we vote swingers will let him settle in either.

        That’s the neoliberal way, the new boss becomes a facsimile of the old once elected. Which is why Syriza and hopefully Podemos are so electrifying.

  13. Dino Reno

    Brian Williams is a twit. How many times has he told that story at dinner parties? “There I was, behind enemy lines…” Can this guy get anymore full of himself? He’s one sick puppy. Bet you haven’t read expression in twenty years.

  14. JohnB

    Any coverage of what is going on in Australia?

    I know Steve Keen has been predicting for years (even losing a bet on it) the bursting of the Australian housing bubble, and now there looks to be trouble in the Australian economy, that may be precipitating this – if this is real, would be interesting to see commentary/articles on it.

  15. fresno dan


    As interesting as bashing your friends with crock pots over politics (for some reason, that seems ironic…..”crock”), what is really ironic is the advertising.

    So, as everybody’s is tracked on the innertubes, the ad you get will be different than mine. But I did get a link for “slow cooker” (i.e., crock pot) Italian chicken.

    And I did order some stuff from China… but I can’t figure out if they think I am a woman, or if I am interested in women, from all the ads I am getting for women’s panties…(fyi – I ordered a bicycle light and bicycle leg warmers….)

  16. LucyLulu

    The link is an old article but sums up the history of problems Hospira has had. If you run a search on Hospira at FDA.gov, their problems haven’t ended. Will We Need to Heat Our Medications in a Spoon Before Injection?
    They don’t mention in the above article that one incident in N. Carolina involved finding a human hair in one of their pre-filled injectable syringe products. Does that mean it’s a biologic and can command a premium price?

    Seriously, this is bad. The generic manufacturers have consolidated into a handful of companies. Now bigPharma is buying them up. We already have shortages of generics because so many manufacturers have dropped out that most generics are now down to three, two, occasionally even one or no manufacturers. If there is a recall or a bottleneck/shutdown at one manufacturer, shortages result. Prices on some generics have seen 1000% price increases over the last year, year and a half. Overall the prices have increased by 448% according to Bernie Sanders and Elijah Cummings , who held Congressional hearings in November on the price increases.

    ….an antibiotic called doxycycline hyclate, rose in price from an average of $20 to $1,849 per bottle between October 2013 and April 2014 — a more-than 90-fold increase — according to data from the association.”

    This is an ancient antibiotic, normally dirt cheap. That’s $20 for a bottle of 500.
    Industry executives were invited to attend the hearings but declined.

    Add to that the offshoring of 80% of drug manufacturing, problems with quality control and counterfeiting at foreign plants along with inadequate oversight at foreign plants. India and China are by far the leading importers. India devotes few resources to regulating their pharmaceutical industry, just 2% what the FDA devotes. The FDA has stepped up their oversight since enacting new fees in 2012 (actually much of this has been outsourced), leading to recalls and shutdowns. One Ranbaxy plant was shut down due to a fly infestation. China won’t allow the FDA to monitor their practices but its suspected there are problems there as well.

    So…….. it’s illegal to import potentially counterfeit generics for $20 but legal for bigPharma to import them for $2000. Gotcha.

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