2:00PM Water Cooler 3/6/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Sanders: “The worst thing I could do is run a poor campaign without the organizational support, without the money — and then have people say that the ideas themselves are ideas that people don’t support” [HuffPo].

“Hillary Clinton could drop 20 points in the polls and still have a massive lead” [WaPo].

Clinton Email

One of the (ostensible) reasons Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration was axed by the Clinton State Department after a “withering report” was his use of Gmail for official business [The Hill].

“A senior State Department official tells ABC News that under rules in place while Clinton was secretary of state, employees could only use private email accounts for official business if they turned those emails over to be entered into government computers” [ABC].

An example of email known to have been sent by Hillary Clinton that the State Department did not have, in response to a FOIA request [The Atlantic].

Questions that Clinton could answer now “as a show of good faith.” For the process where Clinton’s advisors reviewed her email and released 55,000 to State: “Were the advisers paid for their work? How much were they paid, and how many hours did the review take? Who paid them? Did they work for the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation or the Clinton Family Foundation?” [Sunlight Foundation]. And: “Are they familiar with the provisions of the Federal Records Act, and the responsibilities of officials covered under the act?”

* * *

“Pwning Hillary: Inside the Innerati’s Clinton Obsession” [Peter Daou]. Love “innerati,” with reservations I’ll get to. Here’s Daou’s definition:

The “innerati” are a motley group of high achievers scattered along the Acela corridor — reporters, pundits, bloggers, politicians, strategists, opinion makers, operatives and insiders who frame the national debate. By luck, effort or circumstance, they are in a position to determine what America thinks and talks about. And more than anything, they want to talk about Hillary Clinton.


For decades, the innerati have indulged in one Hillary Clinton feeding frenzy after another, methodically constructing mountains, only to see them crumble like molehills. With each episode, there’s the breathless hope that she’s finally been taken down, cut down to size, put in “her place.” A “woman’s place.”

Yes, especially during the 2008 primary. The problem here — and as a Clinton supporter in 2008, I empathize with Daou — is, I suggest, with the term “innerati,” which I’d urge is an illicit synecdoche — the part representing the whole — for “political class.” I mean, really: Which of Mark Penn, Karl Rove, and David Axelrod is “inner” and which “outer”? It’s just the wrong axis of evaluation. They are all members of different factions of the political class. Now, it’s certainly true that Hillary Clinton is hated by some factions of the political class far more than any facts could warrant, but that doesn’t make any faction inner or outer, and it’s not a reason to vote for or against her.


For the innerati, it’s all about process. Not the what but the how. Not the substance of emails, but the servers. Not the facts but the optics.

No. The Clinton email fracas is about converting public property to private use. That’s what corruption is all about, and that’s also what neo-liberalism is all about. If Daou thinks that’s “optics,” and not substance, then he should think again.

Finally, Daou’s piece foreshadows one possible future for the 2016 primary: Just as everybody who didn’t want to vote for Obama in 2008 was a racist, everybody who doesn’t want to vote for Clinton in 2016 will be a misogynist. I so hope I’m wrong.

* * *

For the record, here’s a link to Dan Froomkin’s 2008 story on Bush’s gwb43.com scandal, identical in substance to the current Clinton fracas, for which his editors slapped him around [WaPo]. But just because Bush got a free pass doesn’t make it right.

Republican schadenfreude [The Hill]. Say what you like about Republicans, they give good quotes.


Iowa Republicans complained matter-of-factly about fatigue with the Bush family — especially after the presidency of George W. Bush, whom they blamed for a misguided war and big deficits [New York Times].

Principled Insurgents

Walker’s operatives are criticizing Clinton for using a private email account as secretary of state even though a top Walker aide set up a private router in Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee county executive for email that mixed government and campaign business” [Journal-Sentinel]. Chutzpah!

“Scott Walker’s performance in 2010 and 2014 was exactly what we would have expected from a Republican candidate for governor in Wisconsin.” With handy scatterplot [The Upshot, New York Times].

“Based on Walker’s ideology and the ideology of the incumbents running in 2014, you’d expect him to have been a governor of a state that Romney won by about 13 percentage points (Montana, for example) instead of one he lost by about 7 percentage points” [FiveThirtyEight].

Clown Car

Christie to shift environment settlement money out of remediation into corporate tax cuts [International Business Times].

Democratic oppo from American Bridge [Bloomberg].

The Hill

Reid on fast track: “I’m not sure it’s going to get done that easily this time” [Wall Street Journal].

Fast track authority will hurt Maine’s small farms [Bangor Daily News]. “Here in Maine we are fortunate to have a young, vibrant group of farmers who are working to grow food, rebuild the local food infrastructure and feed the people of Maine.” It ain’t broke. Let’s not fix it.

Herd on the Street

Apple’s gold watch costs as much as 1983’s Lisa computer [FT, “$10,000 watch tests Apple’s luxury appeal”].

Apple to replace AT&T in Dow Industrials [Reuters].

Manufacturing snow on California ski slopes [Bloomberg]. Snowpack was 25 percent of the historical average this winter.

Family-owned Ashley Furniture trying for global expansion — of products and sales, not only manufacturing [Wall Street Journal].

Stats Watch

Employment situation, February 2015: Payroll increases 295,000; expectations were for 230,000. Unemployment to 5.5% from 5.7%. Labor force participation down to 62.8% from 62.9%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1 percent, compared to 0.5 percent in January [Bloomberg]. “Overall, the latest employment situation suggests the labor market is gradually gaining strength.” The contrast between the numbers and the hosannas in the business press is pretty remarkable.

Ritholtz: “Private sector job growth has expanded for almost 60 months. That is an impressive streak” [Bloomberg]. The average economic expansion in the post-war period lasts 63 months. Also Ritholtz: “5.5 percent is almost full employment.” I’m so old I remember when it was 4%!

Stocks drop on jobs as Wall Street anticipates a rate hike [Reuters].


Thanks to Chicagoans for sending me links on the mayoral race.

“By standing up to his own party’s vested interests, Chicago’s mayor is a model for national politics” [The Economist]. Heaven help us.

“Mr. Emanuel is not the only Democrat who, faced with choices in governing, has opted for the general welfare over special interests and as a result incurred their wrath. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, for example, faced similar pushback” [Editorial, WaPo]. Raimondo (private equity) and Cuomo (Moreland Commission) wouldn’t be on the top of my list of Democrats who put the general welfare first.

Rahm shouts at mental health activists: “You’re going to respect me!” (!) [In These Times].

Checklist for members of the Chicago diaspora — especially in Illinois — to get out the vote in the mayoral election [Truthout].

Rahm Emanuel would “really, really” like to have an endorsement from former challenger Willie Wilson, the Bible-quoting millionaire businessman who pulled enough votes out of Chicago’s black wards to help force him into the runoff [Chicago Reader].

SEIU contributions to Chuy Garcia despite conflict between union locals [Chicago Sun-Times].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Annotated version of the Justice Department report on Ferguson [Washington Post].

Highlights from the Justice Department report on Ferguson [WaPo].

Summarizing the Justice Department report [Ta-Nahesi Coates, The Atlantic].

The Justice Department conducted two investigations—one looking into the shooting of Michael Brown, and another into the Ferguson Police Department. The first report made clear that there was no prosecutable case against one individual officer. The second report made clear that there was a damning case to be made against the system in which that officer operated.

In St Louis, the story was the first report (which I should admit shows confirmation bias on my part). Nationally, the story was the second part.

Ferguson is uncomfortably like a feudal system, when gangster governments collect “tribute” [WaPo] or, as Ta-Nahesi Coates calls it, “plunder” [The Atlantic].

Demonstrators protesting the lack of trauma care on the South Side briefly blocked northbound traffic on Michigan Avenue [Chicago Tribune].

Police State Watch

Whittier police officers are suing the city, saying they faced retaliation when they complained and refused to meet alleged ticket and arrest quotas [Los Angeles Times]. Another gangster government?

After a riot late last month at Texas’s privatized Willacy County Correctional Center that left the prison officially “uninhabitable,” nothing has changed, especially the relationship between the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Management and Training Corporation (MTC), which runs it [The Marshall Project].

Class Warfare

Wisconsin legislature sends “right to work” bill to Walker’s desk [Reuters].

Tier 1 vs. Tier 2 wage workers, where (for example) existing UAW members get $28 an hour and new hires get $14 with worse benefits [New York Times]. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We do the same more gradually with Social Security benefits, which should be birth date-neutral.

“Turnover in the retail sector has been steadily rising and now stands 5 percent a month” [Bloomberg]. Added up, Walmart’s raise equals the cost of retraining.

Younger Americans die earlier and have worse health than their counterparts in other developed countries [New York Times]. “Something at the core is causing the U.S. to slip behind these other high-income countries. And it’s getting worse.”

Walgreens and CVS challenging tax assessments nationwide [Bloomberg].


“Chile’s top prosecutor has filed tax fraud, money laundering and bribery charges against senior former officials and financiers of a rightwing political party created to perpetuate the economic legacy of dictator Augusto Pinochet” [Guardian].

News of the Wired

  • Canadian border officials in Halifax have charged a man after he refused to hand over the passcode for his smartphone [CTV].
  • Cornell’s 1981 entrance exam [Ithaca Voice].
  • “Ronson’s humane view is this: really weird people are not that different from you and me. We’re all weird deep down.” [Guardian].
  • New research indicates homosexuality prevalent in early Christian Rome [phys.org]. “You don’t make decrees against an activity unless it’s something that actually happens in society.”
  • “Beats can indeed be businesses,” but it’s “grindingly hard work” [Medium].
  • Pew: “Nearly nine-in-ten residents follow local news closely — and about half do so very closely” [Medium].
  • Survey of political pschology: Moral foundations theory and system justification theory [Salon]. More interesting than Salon’s pom pom-waving headline.
  • How the New York anti-fracking movement won [In These Times].

* * *

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 Plants in Snow Week (MR):


Next week: How about some humorous vegetables?* Or plant oddities generally.

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

* Terry Pratchett reference.

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

    ‘Hillary Clinton could drop 20 points in the polls and still have a massive lead.’

    This is the vintage WWF-style fist pumping, chest beating and trash talking that defines the Clintons and their innerati (please don’t taze me for the illicit synecdoche, bro).

    Only once in 60 years has either party held the presidency for three terms. Democrats would face long odds in 2016, even if the party’s nominees were Angelina Jolie and the Dalai Lama, endorsed by Pope Francis.

    Hillary is so over. But it may take two years of 24/7 bloviating and pixel spewing before it’s evident to her. As Oliver Sacks said a couple of weeks ago, upon learning he has a terminal illness:

    ‘I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.’

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I knew that thing was virulent. It’s already propagating. I think “faction” is the better word, since it has a historical context. In the Federalist Papers….

  2. bob

    “Tier 1 vs. Tier 2 wage workers, where (for example) existing UAW members get $28 an hour and new hires get $14 with worse benefits”

    Called a Broken Union. Everyone in the same boat? Nah, we gotta protect ourselves.

  3. Chris in Paris

    I really don’t think the Apple 10k watch will replace the obligatory Rolex in my consulting world. I’ll report back if it does. Mind you, I can’t afford either being a simple lawyer.

  4. Erik the Red

    Cornell’s *1891 Entrance Exam. I was wondering why the year of my birth was seeming excessively archaic for a moment.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Another one bites the dust …

    Washington (CNN)The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts.

    The government’s case centers on Menendez’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who the senator has called a friend and political supporter. Melgen and his family have been generous donors to the senator and various committees the senator is associated with.


    Menendez, of Cuban ancestry, is one of Israel’s most outspoken supporters in Congress. Israel has 534 more behind Menendez, of course. But it’s nice to see one of the more over-the-top Israel Firsters taken out.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Next year in Havana, no longer an optimistic catch phrase for those who long for a return to a rightfully restored Cuba, but now, with Senior Senator of NJ out of the way, a diplomatic slam dunk for the Obama State Dept. Oh well, business is business, time to move on.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Your point is well taken. Now Ileana Ros-Lehtinen assumes Menendez’s mantle, to fight for Israel and the Cuban embargo.

      2. sleepy

        Oh, at first I was thinking “next year in Havana” might refer to Menendez possibly going on the lam.

      3. ambrit

        As someone who grew up in and around Miami of Florida, the “Next year in Havana” brings out a real laugh. I remember Alpha 66 and the other Cuban Resistance Groups fighting between themselves more than they fought Castro. They always focused on Castro. Silly rabbits! Castro was only the figurehead and organizer for a social movement that had had enough of the Caudillos and Latifundios. Despite, indeed perhaps partly because of, fifty years of ‘destabilization’ efforts against Cuba by the Ultras in Washington, Castro is still there, and still calling the shots. What the American Cuban Freedom Fighters, (Patriots all I’m sure,) really want is to have great uncle Jaimies sugar plantation back. They were the Doctors, Lawyers, and Indian Chiefs of the old Cuba. They will never forgive the Mestizos for throwing the old class based social system onto the junk pile of Cuban history. They lost the Cuban Civil War. Get over it.

      4. ProNewerDeal

        speaking of Cuba, is medical tourism officially allowed by the US for we USians who may consider Cuba, when needing a significant healthcare procedure/service done?

        Even if the Oligopolist Rigged Market Enforcer 0bama or other such ReThuglicans prohibit medical tourism as an excuse for a Cuban visitor visa, would it be enforcable? Would it be possible to claim one of the approved categories like playing a music concert, but actually do medical tourism while there?

        I haven’t seen this topic covered in the “Cuba policy change” news, despite it probably being the most relevant factor to most USians with respect to US-Cuban relations. Word to the Sicko documentary movie, the sick Sep-11 responders getting some needed medical treatments in Cuba.

        1. ProNewerDeal

          and even if the competitive-market hating 0bama Admin prohibits Medical Tourism as a reason for a visa to travel to Cuba, what is the actual penalty for travelling to Cuba by first stopping in a 3rd nation like Mexico or Bahamas? Have any USian ever gotten a felony charge or fine for travelling to Cuba in this manner, with the Havana visit “off the books”, unstamped on their USian passport?

          What an example of the lengths we USians sometimes have to endure to seek freedom & even the “right to life” in this Exceptional Nation Of Freedom TM

  6. M

    RE: The homosexuality in Christian Rome (busted?) link: “You don’t make decrees against an activity unless it’s something that actually happens in society.”

    Does that mean that sharia law in the US is real?

  7. DJG

    Combine this quote with the NYTimes article on decline of U.S. health (and, presumably, nutrition): “Mr. Emanuel is not the only Democrat who, faced with choices in governing, has opted for the general welfare over special interests and as a result incurred their wrath. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, for example, faced similar pushback.” Figures indicating declines in health and life expetancy are pretty much definitive: Class warfare by the two legacy parties is paying off for them. Yet it is all dressed up in false derring-do–as Emanuel tries to avoid the unjustified wrath of the starvelings.

    And poor Peter Daou. Or is he Bob Cesca? I can never tell them apart. All of that business about hating Hillary because she’s a woman. Because the conserva-dems are there to present a unified front against that unjustified wrath of the starvelings.

    Frum’s Law: The Republicans fear their base. The Democrats hate their base.

    1. different clue

      The Ds deSPISE their base. And mockingly PAtronize it. If the base would be feared, the base must become fearsome.

  8. Cugel

    I don’t have much expectations from Hillary, but to imagine she won’t win underestimates the degree of polarization. History is no longer any guide because we’re living in a tribal world where everything comes down to which tribe you belong to. It’s more polarized than any time since the Civil War and getting more so all the time. It doesn’t even matter what the “issues” are, it’s all optics. I argue with friends of mine who are voting Republican and I can convince them of everything, but they’ll still vote Republican because the Democrat belongs to the “other team.” If Jeb Bush wins, we can kiss democracy goodbye because he will appoint two new judges to the S.Ct. who will cement Citizens United for the next 30 years. We already live in a Kleptocracy, which Clinton will do nothing to amend, but that decision at least is totally indefensible from any logical Constitutional Law perspective, which means a couple of sane new Justices would overturn it. They wouldn’t have to be liberals, which they wouldn’t be, just not hard Reich-wing partisans. Without Citizens United, democracy at least becomes possible, as it was for most of our nation’s history. With it as we’re seeing the only question is “how much money do you have?”

    1. neo-realist

      Yes we know that Hillary won’t be much for hope and change, but Jeb could not only appoint a judge or 2 who could cement Citizens United, but also take down Roe v. Wade. He could also move quickly to eliminate SS and replace it with private investment accounts (instead of having them exist side by side with SS) and privatize many public services and lands—presumably for more fracking and real estate development.

      1. Pat

        Assumes facts not in evidence. Oh, the judges, maybe. But I think you greatly underestimate Mrs. Clinton’s indebtedness to the likes of Peterson, Real Estate interests and our misbegotten Corporate masters. Witness her use of State to pursue “trade” to a degree rarely if ever seen before. Nope, the only hope for Social Security is a continued highly partisan and divided Congress. Everything else is probably a goner regardless of which of the two Fascist candidate’s get to continue the dynastic march through history.

        1. neo-realist

          With Hillary and Obama, and corporate dems in general, SS suffers the death of a thousand cuts–more time to coalesce to stop it, whereas with Jeb, SS gets the guillotine, all the more easier if you’ve got both houses. With Hillary, the elites get some public lands and services that go private, with Jeb, open season on everything. I believe it’s more a matter of degree as far as the parties and candidates go.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      If the Democrats win, they will have made Citizens United work for them, by lining up their own squillionaires. And the Democrats hate their base, from which they would have to fundraise if Citizens United were overturned. So why would they overturn it? At best, they’d sand a few of the rougher edges off.

      I’ve been hearing “ZOMG!!!!!! The Supreme Court!!!” for years. It’s always the trump card. Hasn’t made a whole lot of difference at ground level, so far as I can see. I think it’s a wannabe Inside Baseball talking point.

      1. ambrit

        I’m a bit confused about your denigration of the ‘Supreme Court Card.’ If one were to posit the Republicrats as one Party, as Gore Vidal famously quipped, “with two Right wings,” then a Genuine Third Way Party appointing Justices will make a difference. We can all agree that Citizens United did give away the store. The long term problem with that is that after a time, the average “citizen” will finally admit that the ‘store’ is beyond reforming, and go along with the destruction of said store, simply because he or she has nothing left to lose. A viable alternative to the Democritans is now the only hope for the nation. America can get along for a while as a de facto “Failed State,” just look at Mexico for pointers, but sooner or later things will fall apart. Our best case scenario might well be to be prepared to manage the break up and rearrange the pieces into a new polity.
        Thanks for letting me rant.

  9. Kim Kaufman

    “…they want to talk about Hillary Clinton.”
    well, yes, they wouldn’t want to talk to Bernie Sanders about issues, would they? .

    Re Hillary’s emails: Possible benefit – she did it so she wouldn’t have to switch emails to fundraise?

  10. Ulysses

    The entrance exam discussed in the Ithaca Voice was given in 1891, not 1981. Here’s one question: “Where is the Penobscot River, and what city is situated on it?”

    One of my friends who worked for years in the Cornell Library system showed me some encyclopedic class notes taken by a late 19th c. student for an ancient history class. Truly amazing. I’m certain that very few college students these days possess the sheer capacity for retaining detailed information that their counterparts did more than a century ago. After all, they have Google, etc.!

    Cornell, BTW, began admitting women as full-time students in 1870, something Yale and Princeton didn’t get around to until 1969!

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