2:00PM Water Cooler 2/20/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Let the oppo begin: “At least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during [Clinton’s] tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation” [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton’s Complex Corporate Ties”].

“The Clinton Foundation will reconsider its policy of accepting new donations from foreign governments if Hillary Clinton runs for president as expected” [Politico]. Leaving the impression that one reason for Hillary not to declare is to keep raking in the bucks until the last possible moment, for starters. The real problem: This sorta maybe “reconsider” thing looks weak. If the donations are legit, brazen it out based on the “good works” the Clinton Foundation (presumably) does. If they’re not legit, it makes more sense to clean house now. Given that, the way we live now, the entire ruling class is a ginormous hairball of influence peddling schemes anyhow, I don’t see the Clinton operation as being uniquely terrible, but the optics just aren’t going to improve with time.

“The negative headlines for Hillary Clinton have come fast and furious in recent weeks… But count the most committed Democratic party officials as unperturbed by — and in many cases unaware of – the fallout” [Politico]. “Things that are happening today are going to have no impact in November 2016.” Well, who would have guessed that bait shop owners peddling Clinton hate in Arkansas would culminate in the impeachment saga (and Bush v. Gore?). True, those “negative headlines” are the scorps stirring up trouble, but Clintonworld has always been a target-rich environment, and it’s looking richer than ever these days.

Principled Insurgents

Walker tells the Manhattan Insitute that gutting the University of Wisconsin is the same fight as Reagan busting the air traffic controllers union [WaPo]. And in fact, he’s right! (OK, I chose the word “gutting.” Perhaps a little strong for WaPo.)

Clown Car

Toast? “[Christie] does not return phone calls. He does not ask for support. He arrives late for meetings. And he acts as if he has all the time in the world” [New York Times].

Gambling squillionaire Sheldon Adelson has signed up to co-chair a Lindsay Graham fundraiser [McClatchy], though that doesn’t imply an endorsement [Bloomberg]. One can only hope Graham takes Adelson for as much as that grifter Gingrich did.

Half of Republican voters no longer opposed to gay marriage [Political Wire]. Whenever you hear “change is not possible,” you can point to this example. The more interesting question is: Why are some forms of change possible, but not others?

“I’ll Vote Green If You Do: electoral kickstarter for minority parties” [Boing Boing]. From the UK, but of general interest.

Herd on the Street

Features of the Apple car [The Onion].

“Gemalto Probes Alleged Data Breach by U.K., U.S. Spy Agencies” [Bloomberg].

Where the digital economy is moving fastest, with useful visualization [Harvard Business Review].

“Berkshire on Friday signed a deal to acquire Detlev Louis Motorradvertriebs, a Hamburg-based retailer of motorcycle apparel and accessories” [FT, “Buffett dons biker gear with German deal”]. Betting on the Germans, given the timing of the announcement?

“[A] property-investment firm backed by George Soros, is considering an initial public offering of German developer Aurelis Real Estate GmbH” [Bloomberg]. Ditto?

North American Petrostates

Completing Keystone won’t decrease the number oil trains, because Bakken oil goes East and West, and Keystone runs North and South [The New Republic, post-purge].

New York’s Southern tier would like to secede and join Pennsylvania so they can frack [Politics on the Hudson]. Their local economies are terrible, and the State’s solution was a casino (ugh) which they didn’t “win.”


“Presidential libraries are a costly scam” [Tampa Bay Times].

[I]t’s still worth asking whether Chicago investment manager Michael Sacks — who also served as one of Emanuel’s biggest campaign donors — expects to get something for his $250,000-to-$500,000 contribution to the Obama library. And, most of all, we should wonder why the president should have a separate library in the first place.

If all presidential records were located in one place — say, a Center for Presidential Research — we wouldn’t have to operate 13 of them. More Americans would be able to visit the facility. And most of all, we would all participate in telling the story of our presidency. That’s how it should work, in a government of the people by themselves.

“Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey backpedaled Thursday on their offer to resign, saying it would be unnecessary in light of their unanimous support of reform efforts at the scandal-plagued agency” [AP]. Uh-huh [nods vigorously].

Sheldon Silver indictment lists (some of?) his bank accounts [Times-Union].

The indictment listed several of Silver’s bank accounts as well as money in two Buffalo-based limited liability companies, including $368,000 in an HSBC account held in the name of JoRon Management LLC, and $100,000 in a Bank of America account held by Counsel Financial Services LLC, aka Counsel Financial Holdings.

HSBC, eh?

Utah AG Mark Shurtleff indicted; document show “Shurtleff partying on his birthday in 2012 at an ‘underground’ nightclub in New York City [Desert News]. Quelle horreur! But wait: Aren’t all the decent nightclubs in New York underground anyhow?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Newark high school students occupy Christie-appointed principal’s office to protest privatization. Then they livestream! [Bob Braun’s Letter].

Police reform in Sonoma and Richmond, California [Occupy].

Atmospheric piece on Ferguson with portraits of some activists [WaPo]. Funny how all the energy got sucked out when Al Sharpton got involved, at Obama’s behest.

“Police found no criminal wrongdoing in two officers’ fatal shooting of Kajieme Powell last summer” [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. Shocker, huh? Fortunately Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce will review the evidence.

“Chelsea fan in Paris Métro video posed in picture with Nigel Farage” [Guardian]. No doubt!


“The administration sent incorrect tax information to 800,000 people who have enrolled in ObamaCare, the administration announced Friday” [The Hill]. “Officials did not offer a specific explanation for why that mistake occurred.” Well, no. That would imply somebody should be held accountable for it. That’s Undemocratic.

Dire predictions on ObamaCare that did not come true, by Republican candidates [Bloomberg]. When all they had to do was look at what single payer advocates were saying to see the coming problems. But of course they can’t do that, no more than Democrats. Anyhow, it’s their plan!

Many companies report the impact of ObamaCare on profits as “not material” or “not significant” [Bloomberg].

“If the state exchange experience this year [flat enrollment] is a sign of the challenge that Obamacare will face once the low-hanging fruit is gone, it doesn’t bode well for the law” [Talking Points Memo]. Then again, the mandate penalties have yet to kick in.


David Graeber: Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria? [Guardian].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

#Superfish: “So ex-surveillance agents, operating in both the private and public spheres, have ostensibly combined their powers to force ads onto people’s computers, leaving web users open to other forms of attack” [Forbes].

Class Warfare

State and federal laws intended to protect people from wage theft “often yield only pieces of paper declaring what they are owed, not actual cash” [New York Times]. So you can imagine what happens. Oddly, or not, getting the cash from employers hasn’t been turned over to brutal and thuggish collection agencies.

Vice Media’s Shane Smith spent $300,000 for a dinner at the Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio in Las Vegas during the International CES trade show in January [New York Times].

News of the Wired

  • UPS’s Orion delivery algorithm [Wall Street Journal]. Especially fascinating if you like logistics.
  • Where’s Waldo algorithm [Boing Boing].
  • The Chinese government estimates that 3.62 billion trips are made in the 40 days around the lunar new year (with visualization) [GIzmodo]. The world’s largest annual human migration.
  • If there’s a copy editor at the Economist these days, could somebody tell them that it’s not “cartalist,” but “chartalist”? [The Economist]. A review of Christine Desan’s Making Money: Coin, Currency and the Coming of Capitalism.
  • Zimbabwe issues its own coins [The Economist].
  • “The Austerity Con” [London Review of Books].
  • Statistical technique detects historical “concerted sound changes,” making it possible to reconstruct ancient proto-languages [Phys.org].
  • Deaths from the MERS virus have surged in Saudi Arabia; 16 since February 11 [New Straits Times].
  • New beehive design lets you harvest honey without disturbing the bees [Bored Panda]. This could help with Colony Collapse Disorder, because the beekeeper opening the hive is a stressor.
  • U.S. hit with most unusually cold air of any region in the world this week (handy map) [Mashable].

* * *

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 last of Cactus Week:


Next week: Fungus Week! So if you’ve got some excellent fungi, please send them in!

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. Jim Haygood

    Here is a photo of the secret weapon which Yanis V. laid on the Eurogroup conference table this afternooon:


    Diesel Boom swore under his breath in Dutch … then in English said, ‘That is seriously heinous. Here is your 4-month extension, sir. Now please leave.’

      1. ambrit

        Well, that’s a major improvement over the One Euro note. Put that up to the light and see the happy smiling visage of Mickey Mouse waving back in multichromatic splendour.

  2. Garrett Pace

    Sometimes it seems pointless to continue tracking the corruption of our political classes. “Water is still wet. Film at 11.” Like you say the Clinton operation is not uniquely terrible. It is also not terribly unique.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      But, next election, if we vote for the [Blue Team|Red Team] (choose one) the corruption will fixed.

    2. grizziz

      “Clinton’s operation is not uniquely terrible,” has about the same moral equivalence as the saying the Ferguson PD is not uniquely terrible. Clinton’s violence is more diffuse and their citizen subjects less pointedly aware of the direct cause of the pain than the gun or the cudgel of the police, but are we to give into the ennui and forget the sting of the lash?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        2014 would indicate no one has forgotten. The GOP had a lousy turnout compared to 2010, but Team Blue was hammered. Let’s be honest, most Hillary supporters have no idea what a right wing hack she is. She can only lose support short of an economic miracle, trickle down economics working.

        Bill’s “great economy” led to widespread wage declines and W. There is no “Clinton Manifesto” out there which can be held up proof they were trying for something other than free trade, deregulation, devolution, capital gains cuts, cutting welfare, and making noises about SS reform.

        I think many Team Blue elites made promises to liberal donors* who were upset about the direction of the party in 2013/14 that all they had to do was to get to Hillary who would set the party on the path back to sanity and to keep donating. If they dump Hillary, the donors might dump everyone who promised Hillary as a savior because Team Blue flushed money down the toilet in 2014 for all intents and purposes. If Hillary looks like a lower, donors are going to take a closer look at Democratic strategists.

        *They aren’t all crooks.

        1. grizziz

          It would only be just to vet each donor, yet who has the time. As a class, the donor’s effect is to bring more money into politics and the presumption is that the donor has benefited from the status quo on economic terms because he has the marginal dollars to give. Do most of the donors really want a change that will distribute money from themselves to someone else? Maybe a little, but not a lot.
          I personally give money to my Democratic congressman not because I like his policies or that I give enough to effect legislation. I give him money as insurance, on the outside chance that I might run afoul of the Federal Government and as a consequence, he might pay attention to my problem. Of course, I do live in Chicago and all that implies.

      2. Garrett Pace

        Never give in. I am not speaking out of ennui, just the realization that, though the outrages mount, we aren’t actually learning anything new about these people or the system.

  3. Jason Ipswitch

    “Why are some forms of change possible, but not others?”

    Because some forms of change ( such as gay marriage) affect the corporate bottom line positively or not at all, while others affect it negatively. Only the former sort are allowed. It’s ultimately the money that pulls the strings in the US – social conservatives are just “useful idiots”.

    1. MikeNY

      I do think you’re on to something with your observation that gay rights basically haven’t COST anyone any money. But I think you must also recognize the personal element, the effect that millions of people have had on their friends and families simply by coming out. It’s much easier to despise an amorphous, anonymous group than it is to despise your son, your daughter, your sibling or your best friend.

  4. NOTaREALmerican

    Re: Why are some forms of change possible, but not others?

    All forms of “change” are possible. You just got to give those resistant to change something else to obsess about.

    Look, over there, on of them Turbine a-wear-in Muslums sneakin’-a-crosser-boarder!
    Look, over there, it’s the Koch Brothers gonna git ya.

    1. ambrit

      The problem with your choice of examples is that the Koch brothers really are ‘goin t getchya!’ Just ask the public employees in Wisconsin. (As for those rag-heads; seen any ‘terrist’ bombs going off in D-Troit lately?)

    2. hunkerdown

      Hmm. Hmmmmmm. So what sort of shiny beads could we whip out that are both bipartisan and “mostly” harmless?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        For the most part the low hanging fruit is gone.

        Immigration doesn’t have room.
        -the racists don’t want any changes
        -Obama’s decision to round up and warehouse immigrants has broken the ability to handle the situation which forced him to act.
        -the people who care the most about immigrants were f’d over by Obama and the Democrats when this ignored the DREAM Act
        -no one wants more h1b1 visas except corporate America; no one wants to pass this alone. It needs to be hidden in a larger bill
        -Most voters don’t care compared to other issues.

        Gay marriage and marijuana legalization are being done by outside forces.

        Even DADT required a Federal Judge embarrassing the President before their was a move to repeal DADT.

        On every other issue, the parties’ voters are too far apart for Team Blue to risk exposure. Both sides want the other side to pass anything.

  5. albrt

    “Why are some forms of change possible, but not others?”

    Changes that make it easier for the 1% to co-opt the most talented/dangerous members of excluded groups are possible.

    1. Kim Kaufman

      yeah, change is possible as long as it’s not about money going downward to the 99% instead of upward to the 1%. For the most part, that’s the way these social issues are being used – as emotional wedge issues while they’re stealing the $$.

  6. Oregoncharles

    “I’ll Vote Green If You Do:” –
    Huge thanks for this one, Lambert. Went straight to the Oregon and US parties.

    And remember: one of our biggest challenges is coverage. The MSM try to pretend we don’t exist. Just reporting on Green Party activities – eg, monitoring Green Party Watch – is a big contribution.

      1. jo6pac

        Yep, dn one of many like cd. I guess they got tired of getting called out so they removed comments.
        Voting Green myself. Todays news from Jill S.


        Today, Jill Stein begins a week-long visit to Texas in Denton, which last year became the first city in the Lone Star State to ban hydrofracking.
        The story of Denton’s grassroots win over dirty energy is inspiring, but the powerful fossil fuel industry is already mobilizing to kill the fracking ban – and prevent others like it.
        It’s clear that local initiatives to protect our communities from this dangerous drilling method won’t be safe until we have a national ban on fracking – and replace fossil fuels with a commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030.
        Stand with Jill Stein – sign onto Jill’s call for a nationwide fracking ban and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.
        Since the start of the fracking boom a few years ago, all evidence shows that fracking can’t be safely regulated. Frequent well failures and accidents contaminate air and water with toxic chemicals that cause cancers, genetic mutations, nervous system disorders, lung diseases, and other illnesses.
        Yet the Democratic and Republican parties have overwhelmingly embraced fracking. President Obama has promoted fracking as part of his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. And Hillary Clinton called fracked natural gas “an important bridge” in a recent speech to the League of Conservation Voters.
        The truth is that fracking is a bridge to nowhere. It emits the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, distracts from the urgent need to transition to renewables, and turns whole communities into sacrifice zones for extreme energy.
        We say no more fracking sacrifice zones – add your name to Jill’s call for a fracking ban now!
        Communities like Denton show what we can do when people stand up to the fossil fuel corporations. And in New York, a sustained grassroots movement, together with strong anti-fracking Green campaigns, made the governor sign a fracking ban only two years after he announced plans to begin drilling in the state.
        We’re making progress, but the fact remains that fracking still threatens countless communities around the country. Our water, our health, our climate, and our future won’t be safe until we win a nationwide ban on fracking and a clear commitment to 100% clean renewable energy.
        We are building the movement to make it happen.
        Join us – sign and share Jill’s call for a fracking ban and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030!

      2. Oregoncharles

        Not sure about last year, but Democracy Now DID cover Jill Stein’s campaign, and thereby forced sites like CD to cover it (by picking up DN articles). I don’t much care who she endorsed; I care most about the coverage.
        Among other sites, Alternet, where I was very active at the time, not only didn’t cover the Greens, it suppressed anything that made Obama look bad. I made a big fuss in the comments, haven’t been back there since.
        And no, I’m not accusing anyone here. I’m genuinely grateful for the mentions, often of very useful material.

  7. Oregoncharles

    From the Occupy article on Sonoma Cty and Richmond:

    “When Green Party Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and the Richmond City Council hired him, Magnus undertook a radical re-structuring – See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/pursuit-justice-two-northern-california-communities-experiment-police-reform#sthash.fprWOkjw.dpuf.”

    Oh, clever: the site stuck that URL on when I copied the quote.

    So this, too, is more Green Party coverage. Gayle McLaughlin is our shining example.

    Oh, and Lambert: you’d have seen my previous big thank you a lot sooner if I wasn’t in moderation.

  8. JerseyJeffersonian

    Jeb Bush is poised to reveal his Foreign Policy Advisors!


    Link within to a Washington Post breakout in the form of a Venn diagram.

    The host at Cryptogon sez it all in his brief prefatory comments:

    “Wolfowitz. Wow.

    Hayden. Chertoff.

    Why not roll Cheney out for one last slaughter with the Legion of Doom?”

  9. Synoia

    Presidential libraries are a costly scam

    Are but the Obama lie-brary is unique:

    Hope to Enter on the Left, Change and Exit from the Right.

  10. Hierophant

    I found this while down in the YouTube rabbit hole. Please tell me it’s not real. Wetiko at its finest.

  11. guest

    The article on the coin mint in Zimbabwe contains this gem:

    One Zimbabwean economist says he envies the Greeks, whose “monetary union with Germany at least comes with a minimum of co-ordination and empathy”.

  12. MikeW_CA

    “Why are some forms of change possible, but not others?”
    Because some forms of change cost powerful people money, while others don’t.

  13. Not a Republican

    The piece on gay acceptance in the Republican party reminds me of when I once worked at a republican think tank as an intern (to build up the resume, I was the hidden progressive). One thing I noticed was that every Republican male who wasn’t just a basic old turd was the most obvious, flaming, closeted gay man. I always wondered what that meant.

  14. optimader

    Lambert, have you ever been to Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Grand Banks Newfoundland?

  15. rjs

    on that bvehive gadget…
    i haven’t harvested honey in a dozen years, preferring to keep my bees as strong as possible without feeding, but i can’t buy the idea that taking the top super off a hive for a honey harvest could be so stressful as to require this setup…& tying CCD to what has been normal beekeeper behavior for centuries is just nonsense, or at best a sales gimmick..

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