2:00PM Water Cooler 2/9/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


From the Department of Square Circles [New York Times].

With advice from more than 200 (!) policy experts, Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to answer what has emerged as a central question of her early presidential campaign strategy: how to address the anger about income inequality without overly vilifying the wealthy.

“Overly”? And “the” anger. Whose, exactly?

“It’s clear from Hillary’s memoir that she feels sadness, even anger, about the absence of more caring, competent grandmothers from her own life” [The Atlantic]. Let the psychologizing begin!

Mandy Grunwald beat sweetener [Bloomberg]. Although I have to say I like Primary Colors (the book) where Grunwald appears as Daisy Green, and I know I live in a world where strange and wonderful things can happen when I see John Travolta play Bill Clinton in a movie.


Jebbie leads New Hampshire poll [Bloomberg]. At 16%. Rand Paul, 13%, Scott Walker, 12% [groans].

Principled Insurgents

Walker’s story on removing “search for truth” from the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement is, well, a lie [Econbrowser]. This stings — for those who already know Walker — because if Walker were describing his relationship to The Truth on Facebook, it would be “It’s complicated.” More than usual for an American politician.

Clown Car

Huckabee: “Everything [Obama] does is against what Christians stand for, and he’s against the Jews in Israel. The one group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support would be the Muslim community. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the radical Muslim community” [Business Insider]. Wowsers. Suppose Huckabee gets nominated. Imagine the Presidential debates!

CPAC plans to “vet” candidates [CNN]. “Here’s what they look like without a teleprompter.”

“Each of Obama’s six years in office rank among the 10 most polarized in the last 60 years, with George W. Bush holding the other four spots” [Gallup]. The big sort…

The Hill

Ryan and Obama co-operating on fast track [Wall Street Journal, “Obama and Ryan: Cordial Collaborators on Trade Policy”].

White House clampdown on government travel after GSA Vegas scandal means Federal workers can’t travel for training or to present scientific papers [WaPo]. It’s like they clamped down on DHS after the Secret Service Cartagena eruption. No sense to it.

Herd on the Street

Tiny Massachusetts lender, Salus Capital Partners, triggered Radio Shack bankruptcy [Bloomberg].

Why expats leave China: “Rising costs of living, a desire to reengage with the home office and the apocalyptic pollution” [Wall Street Journal, “Twice As Many Expatriates Leaving China Than Arriving, Moving Company Says”].

HSBC’s Federal structure a legacy of colonialism; so one bad baron can spoil the whole bunch [FT, “HSBC’s colonial curse”]. Could be more excitement to come!

Comcast-Time Warner deal still not done [New York Times].

Police State Watch

Ohio cop turns off dash cam, makes death threats against couple, now back on the job, no charges pressed [WKBN].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Lawsuit on Ferguson’s reliance on law enforcement to raise revenue characterizes city as “debtor’s prison” [New York Times].

Silicon Valley investor gives back to Ferguson with technical training plus laptops [Hands Up United]. Roy L. Clay, Sr. on growing up in Ferguson [Mercury News].

Astounding and appalling story on Al Sharpton characterizes him as “the leader of the civil rights movement.” MLK must be rolling in his grave [Washington Post]. Check out this exchange with his own youth leader, Mary-Pat Hector:

“The issue with my generation is we’re more about the Occupy organizing model,” [Hector] told Sharpton now. “You know, everyone can be a leader, that kind of thing.”

“I hear them saying that,” Sharpton said. “ ‘We don’t want Al Sharpton taking over our movement.’ But my question is: What movement? Y’all ain’t got nothing to take over.”

“They want everything to rise from the ground up,” Hector said.

“Fine, okay, but then tell me your strategy,” Sharpton said. “You burned the building down. Great. Now what?”

Sharpton had met in private with youth organizers in Ferguson and tried to understand their model, but he couldn’t imagine a successful civil rights movement without a leader like the ones he had been studying since childhood.

Heaven knows the Occupy organizing model has its issues, but Sharpton needs to do a little homework. “Y’all ain’t nothing to take over” is, first, probably a good thing, since otherwise the black misleadership class would do just that, but also misses the the idea that some things are harder to take over than institutions: Relationships, for one thing, and its evident many of those were built in Ferguson. I mean, when you see #BlackLivesMatter in demonstrations everywhere, and people doing die-ins, that comes from somewhere, right? Worse is this statement: “You burned the building down. Great.” First, that conflates the Fergusion rioters with the organizers and demonstrators. The St Louis Police Department would surely like to do that, but Sharpton shouldn’t help them in their work. Second, Sharpton’s crude metaphor suggests that the Ferguson activists did nothing constructive: Not so. I know for a fact, leaving aside demonstrations, court cases, fundraising for bail, and a trip to Geneva to protest human rights violations, of organizing for non-violence training, logistics for demonstrations, Sunday afternoon meals (one in NYC, serving IIRC 5,000), safe houses for activists, and improvised solutions to help out activists of all sorts. Sharpton is either ignorant, or dishonest; I’m not sure which. It’s hard to see why Obama and DeBlasio would pick him as their representative. Not.


500 NH Rebellion members to Concord for campaign finance reform [CNN]. In this weather; that’s dedication. Lessig, too!

Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire co-founder of Blackstone, collects more than $500 million in dividends, now the richest man in private equity [Bloomberg]. Filing this under corruption because private equity.

Cuomo tells The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin that he engineered Sheldon Silver’s downfall by shutting down the Moreland Commission [Albany Project]. That’s awesome.

“Meet the new staff . . . same as the old staff” [New York Daily News]. Carl Heastie, Sheldon Silver’s replacement, retains Silver’s staff. Odd. Or not!

Streetsblog founder also ran Sheldon Silver parody account [The New Yorker].

Christie’s privatized state lottery comes in $28 million under budget [Courier-Post]. Don’t worry. It only funds the schools.

News of the Wired

  • There are 147 million Chinese hardcore online game users [Aeon].
  • How to succeed as a startup [The Economy].

    The results, published in the journal Science, found that business success can be reliably predicted by a whether a firm is named after its founder (those that do are 70% less likely to be successful); the length of a the business name (names that are less than three words long are 50% more likely to grow); and whether the name of company—“nano” or “moog” for example—is associated with technology clusters (those that are, are 92% more likely to be successful). Meanwhile, registering a trademark and incorporating your firm increases the likelihood of success by five and six times respectively. And registering your company in Delaware and having a patent increases the likely success 200-fold.

    Funny none of these factors have anything to do with the actual product or service provided by the business. If success is that reproducible, I see why Silicon Valley has set up a start-up assembly line.

  • “I’m an Anti-Braker” [Robert Moore]. “Guys, I wanted to let you know about a personal decision I recently made.” I swear I saw this before Boing Boing!
  • Measles timeline, from the Third Century to the present day [Los Angeles Times].
  • Ammosexuals, packing, try to get arrested in Washington state capitol in open carry demonstration [AP]. They were not, naturally, shot, or kettled, or clubbed, or Maced, or tasered, or any of that.
  • Taking care of Dad the techie’s estate [Medium].
  • Leveller skeletons could be found in London archeological dig [Independent]. A spectre is haunting Cromwell….

Bonus image:

There will be blood….

* * *

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 (JJ):


A Nasturshalum!

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. McMike

    Measles facts: of the almost 700 measles cases studied by the CDC since 2008, upwards of 90% were of unvaccinated people. Of those cases, the hospitalization rate was around 20% on average. Of those studied, none died, none had encephalitis, and about 20 people had pneumonia. 10% of the hospitalizations were children under age 1. Another 20% up to age 4.

    Meanwhile, the vaccine injury fund has paid out billions of dollars on thousands of claims, including hundreds of deaths from vaccines. The injury fund is of course a neoliberal dream, a preemptive liability waiver system that operates like mandatory arbitration panel, under strict narrow definitions of causality and burden of proof on the victim.

    According to the CDC, the MMR vaccine adverse effects include seizures, deafness, allergic reactions, coma, and brain damage.

    According to the Merck insert, the adverse reactions also include encephalitis, pneumonia, arthritis, pancreatitis, retinitis, diabetes and death. Just to name a few.

    1. hunkerdown

      I forgot whether I’d left this here… that was fast (Freddie de Boer), on the breathtaking speed with which this question was turned into an identity marker.

      1. McMike

        For those of us who have learned to discern the corporate/government propaganda campaigns in the realms of banking, terrorism, security, pesticides, GMOs, or fracking – just to name a few – there’s nothing new about the vaccine campaign, it’s only more aggressive and with higher stakes, and the shaming moved front and center.

        Shaming (along with fear) is, inevitably, a central theme in all of them. If you oppose GMOs/pesticides you are starving children, and ignorant of science. If you oppose fracking, you support terrorists and cost jobs, and are ignorant of science. If you oppose surveillance, the terrorists have won. And on and on.

        Many of the people, at least on the left, who are skeptical about vaccines have already gotten accustomed to the verbal and official abuse, the lies and distortions, the roadblocks, and all the rest of the fun that comes with trying to opt out of what the corporate/government wants you to do.

        I can assure you of this, while the scare tactics indeed tend to panic some folks off the fence and back onto the rez, shaming absolutely isn’t working. On the contrary, it only affirms for us that the officials have become pathological and out of control.

          1. McMike

            I used to include you in that demographic, but your strident blind spot for vaccines is incredibly disappointing.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Grossly obvious mixed metaphors like “strident blindspot” are a sure sign of sloppy writing. Do you believe that sloppy writing is a sure sign of sloppy thinking?*

              Two simple questions:

              1) Do you believe that there is a such a thing as public policy with which citizens should comply?

              2) Is there a vaccination regimen, of whatever date, that you support? If so, which?

              * Adding, it’s not a demographic, either.

    2. Vatch

      It’s good that no one died from measles in the U.S. recently. Outside the U.S., the picture is less rosy, according to this WHO document:


      Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.

      The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 145 700 people died from measles in 2013 – mostly children under the age of 5.

      No doubt, some of those deaths occurred because the disease was combined with malnutrition and/or poor sanitation. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that we would start seeing deaths from measles here in the U.S. if measles vaccine avoidance were to increase.

      1. McMike

        Indeed, fortunate there have been no deaths in the US. (Of course, some vaccine proponents are so vitriolic and aggressive, I wonder if they don’t secretly hope a couple US babies will die, just to further their cause).

        However, your thought that US death rates might scale up to global death rates is only a hunch.

        The data, the science, says there have been no deaths in the US, since at least 2008, out of 700 cases. In fact, if you do a little digging, you will see the death rates are largely attributed even by officials to poor health care conditions.

      2. McMike

        I’ll put it this way: right now in the USA, it appears that the rate of people who are seriously injured and killed by the measles vaccine is higher than the rate of people killed or with lasting harm from the measles disease itself.

        i.e.: at least thousands are injured and scores/hundreds killed out of all MMR vaccine doses given, versus no deaths or lasting illnesses from the 700 US cases of measles documented (based on the data I have, which is actually hard to come by).

        This is not intended to be a singularly compelling argument, merely a bit of damping the hysteria and putting things in perspective.

          1. McMike

            Data and statistics of the national vaccine injury compensation program.

            The kangaroo court congress created to protect drug makers from liability.

              1. Vatch

                Sorry, I already posted this on the Feb. 9 links page, but it is awaiting moderation. It may await that here, too.

                I did a search, and I found an article at snopes.com. Apparently the claim that the MMR vaccine has caused 100 deaths is false. Also, there were 2 deaths from measles in 2009, according to the CDC:


                Another 2 deaths in 2010:


                As I pointed out elsewhere, the World Health Organization reports more than a hundred thousand measles deaths per year worldwide.

        1. quixote

          Forgive the bluntness, but that’s bunk, McMike. The actual statistics, per the CDC which is obliged by act of Congress to collect that data, is *fewer* than one in a million serious reactions to the vaccine. “Serious” means any reaction that requires medical attention, including things like high fever or a bad allergy to a vaccine component. These are temporary conditions, not permanent damage.

          If there were “hundreds” of deaths, it would be known outside the internet rumor mill. As ahab says, citation needed.

          1. McMike

            Google the vaccine injury comp program. Billions paid out. Thousands of claims. Hundreds of deaths.

            Horrifying that you apparently have not heard of it

            1. bob

              Still haven’t seen any actual data that shows that anyone in the US has died as a direct result of the measles vaccine.

              Where’s the google for that? One. Single. Example.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              I call bullshit.

              1) Any time a poster says “Google this” it’s handwaving. Not least because Google crapified its search results, and

              2) on some topics, advocates have in essence Google-bombed the results.

              Further, 3) “Google this” means a commenter is assigning work to others that they are unwilling to do themselves. Not cricket.

    3. Ernesto Lyon

      This isn’t about measles. It’s a coordinated pharma attack on our right to refuse a medical treatment. Bills reducing exemption rights based on the “Measles Epidemic” are in progres in California and many other states.

      There are 220 vaccines in the development pipeline, targeted at children, adolescents, and adults.

      Do you want to live in a world where you have to take any vaccine that the government tells you to, or to keep your job? With no legal recourse if the vaccine manufacturer is negligent? Think about that. Cause that’s the end goal of the “Measles Epidemic” media hype.

      If the vaccine is good and safe the vaccine company shouldn’t have to get the government to force people to take it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Did you read the Anti-braker post? I thought it was great:

        Guys, I wanted to let you know about a personal decision I recently made. I don’t really feel like discussing it, but I want to put my position out there. Please be respectful. This is a really long post, but please read the whole thing.

        I’m taking the brakes off my car. This isn’t a rash decision, so please listen up.

        I’ll ask you the same two questions I asked Mike here.

        1. Vatch

          The Flintstones didn’t have brakes on their cars. They would have to stop their cars with their feet, and it didn’t seem to cause any problems for them. I suppose some people might think that their status as fictional cartoon characters might have some relevance, …

      2. bob

        “This isn’t about measles. ”

        Yes, yes it is.

        “With no legal recourse if the vaccine manufacturer is negligent? Think about that. Cause that’s the end goal of the “Measles Epidemic” media hype. ”

        How do I get on the elders of zion mailing list?

      1. vidimi

        agreed about o’hehir being salon’s finest. although ,does sirota still write there?

        the problem with this discussion is that both sides are making valid points but neither is addressing the others’ arguments. one side is also committing more fallacies than the other.

        i suppose when two sides both make valid points but prioritise them differently they’re never going to agree unless one can convince the other why their points should have a higher priority.

  2. craazyboy

    “How to succeed as a startup”

    Me first….
    We need an app for it!

    Actually 2 apps – 1 iPhone and a port to Android.

    Title: “The Venture Capitalist Startup Calculator”

    Shall we crowd source fund it? Cheaper than finding a VC. Then we outsource the product to India or China. That’s always the second step towards success.

    BTW: Are Stanford and Harvard MBAs really this useless?

    1. craazyman

      that was an amazing video of all those cows chasing that little truck.

      That dude behind the wheel must be either insane or an immaculately confident expert driver — to be only about 7 inches tall and risking his life like that.

      Very few people would put themselves in that position, just for comedy’s sake.

      1. craazyboy

        Don’t worry about the driver craazy – it’s all done with radio waves.

        But yeah, I still laugh just thinking about it. When you play chase with a dog, it’s only one dog. Here you get an entire coordinated herd movement.

  3. Clive

    I think I’ll have to consign myself to the Clown Car because I’ve read and re-read Huckabee’s pronouncements about a dozen times and I still can’t figure out whether he’s pro- or anti-Islam, pro- or anti-Jewish or even pro- or anti-Christian. If anyone threw Scientology into the mix, I think my head would explode. After Huckabee’s.

  4. Kim Kaufman

    “It’s hard to see why Obama and DeBlasio would pick him as their representative. Not.”

    Really? Who are they gonna choose: Tavis Smiley? Cornel West? Glen Ford???? Definitely: Not.

    I’m still thinking about the Bob Dylan speech in links yesterday and that he trashed Merle Haggard. “[Tonight] The Bottle Let Me Down” is a perfect country song sung by a great country singer. Merle has all the street cred that Dylan had to make up for himself.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Dylan was quoted as saying, ‘I can’t imagine Waylon Jennings singing The Bottle Let Me Down.

      Maybe Dylan just meant that Waylon wasn’t a drinker (speed and cocaine were his demons), so ‘The Bottle’ isn’t a song that would’ve resonated with ol’ Hoss.

      Dylan went on to say, ‘Buck Owens and Merle Haggard? If you have to have somebody’s blessing — you figure it out.’ Sounds like respect for both musical outlaws, don’t it?

      One has to give Dylan some credit for name-checking three country greats, at least two of whom probably exerted some influence over Dylan’s Nashville Skyline. (Waylon didn’t really break out till 1973, when he finally wrested creative control away from the record company.)

      1. Kim Kaufman

        Full quote: “Merle Haggard didn’t even think much of my songs. I know he didn’t. He didn’t say that to me, but I know [inaudible]. Buck Owens did, and he recorded some of my early songs. Merle Haggard — “Mama Tried,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.” I can’t imagine Waylon Jennings singing “The Bottle Let Me Down.”

        “Together Again”? That’s Buck Owens, and that trumps anything coming out of Bakersfield. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard? If you have to have somebody’s blessing — you figure it out.”

        I think he’s trashing Hag. I like both Bakersfield guys, but really, “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail”?? I think Dylan is being petty and he didn’t need to. Hag is a great songwriter. . .

  5. craazyman

    200 policy advisors. Holy smokes. It would get confusing to have that much advice. That’s like having 200 maps when you’re lost in the woods. You spread 200 maps on a forest floor and they swim in your head in a tangled swirl of lines and colors, spinning like yarn into an irreducible ball of chaos. They point you round and round in circles and then the trees spin in arcs over your head and the songbirds become evil on the branches, mocking your perplexity. Even the sun seems like a weapon aimed at you. You’d run but you don’t know where. 200 advisors. Hopefully they’re packing food and water cause you won’t be going anywhere for a while. It’s like the old snicker’s bar commercials. haha

    1. Michael

      It’s not as bad as it sounds. Her 200 policy advisers are really just trained monkeys. One monkey writes something, the other 199 stencil it in crayon on the unused backs of welfare checks that were reformed away.

      1. vidimi


        this one was a pure, harmonious marriage of poetry and prose. relative hacks like bukowski would be jealous.

  6. Bene

    Sharpton is either ignorant, or dishonest; I’m not sure which.

    Does it matter? Sharpton got himself a nice little gig where he was supposed to be the focus of any black movements that might spring up, and maybe it could have worked out that way if he had played things better, but he didn’t, and now he’s just acting like he’s entitled to that result. Meanwhile, out on the streets, folks stop, take a look, and then walk on by. But don’t feel too bad, Al. Occupy did the same thing to Obama.

    1. neo-realist

      If one understands that Sharpton in all likelihood is an “Asset” of the system, then his trashing of the Occupy and Ferguson movements are wholly understandable. It’s not good organizing unless they’re rolling with him or rolling according to how he thinks they should roll…….right back into the veal pen of healing and peace and quiet w/o change.

      I think if it wasn’t for the Ferguson and Garner protests, Cynthia Whitlatch would still be walking a beat today.

  7. ChrisPacific

    With advice from more than 200 (!) policy experts, Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to answer what has emerged as a central question of her early presidential campaign strategy: how to address the anger about income inequality…

    OK, does this mean she actually wants to do something about income inequality, or just the anger?

    …without overly vilifying the wealthy.

    …and there’s the answer.

    I’m not sure that even 200 policy experts are enough to put lipstick on that pig.

      1. Ulysses

        To express her goals in a more proactive fashion: HRC would like to discover a more powerful soma– to calm the 80% of people being blatantly screwed right now, and end any sympathy for their plight among the 20% still above water. She wants to do this without hurting the tender feelings of the 0.001%, who will, naturally, dictate to her the policies she must pursue in government.

  8. Pat

    Regarding that take down of Cuomo’s interview with the New Yorker. Yes, there is much to say about shutting down the Moreland Commission, but if it only leads to indictments of Sheldon Silver and possibly Dean Skelos then you really do have to wonder how much of a puppet Preet Bharara is. The Moreland Commission wasn’t shut down because of the aggressive investigation into the houses in Albany. It was clearly shut down when it started looking into the Governor himself. I’m pretty damn sure that getting rid of the thorns in the governor’s side in the legislature was the entire reason for its existence, not to actually end government corruption. Now this interview may be self-serving, but frankly I’m also sure it is not entirely inaccurate. The evidence the Moreland Commission collected BEFORE it took its mission seriously and went after the “third man in the room” is being used for the indictments, what isn’t is that if it was directed to Bharara’s office for exactly that purpose I’ll eat my hat. For many of us Little Andy watchers, it isn’t the spin that we distrust, that is just SOP for him. As is his use of the system to strong arm and/or eliminate obstacles. Nope, it is the fact that he is going to take out people, who no matter how corrupt, have more interest in actually serving the public and advancing the public good in their little fingers then he does in his entire body with nothing more then ridicule of his shutting down that committee. And that is barely a scratch, nothing to touch his drive to go national with the take.

    He may not quite be a contender for most lucrative post political career pay off with Obama and the Clintons yet, but don’t count him out – he’s gunning for them.

      1. Pat

        Modern version.

        But between the people I know who have worked with him, and watching him operate for awhile I have no problem saying that if there is a corrupt and crooked, and/or petty explanation for his actions that is going to be the real story.

        There is a good reason that our financial tricksters went after Spitzer, but Cuomo is still on track to run for President post Hillary.

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