2:00PM Water Cooler 3/11/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Clinton Email

Harold Koh, legal adviser of the Department of State, has refused to disclose advice he gave Clinton on the legality of operating a private email system, citing attorney-client privilege [Guardian].

Nine-page explainer on letterhead from “Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” whatever that is [Google Drive].

Transcript of Clinton’s UN presser [Time].

Steven Aftergood of the Project on Government Secrecy: “There’s zero chance that [Clinton will] be charged with unauthorized retention of classified information, because she decides what’s classified” [New York Times]. How very meta.

“The most startling news at Clinton’s press conference was her disclosure that she discarded roughly 32,000 emails her lawyers decided were personal records” [Politico]. No doubt a forensic data recovery could still find that “discarded” email. If the hard disk itself were to be made available.

The algorithm used to determine what mail Clinton handed over to the Congressional Benghazi wankers investigators [Time].

Restaurant reviewer Frank Bruni [The New York Times].

She’s going to have a primary, all right, but it will be a contest against her own worst impulses, default defensiveness and prickly sense of insult when pressed for explanations. From what I saw Tuesday, victory is uncertain.

One of the things I noticed on the Twitter is how much the press hates Clinton; in the same way they hated Gore but not Bush; not McCain, and not Obama. High school clique stuff with a strong whiff of misogyny; “the drama,” as Josh Marshall calls it. Personally, I don’t hate any of them, but if I did, I can’t see any reason not to hate them all equally.

“In the US feminism is often understood as the right of women — and wealthy white women most of all — to share in the spoils of capitalism and US imperial power” [Jacobin]. Yes, that’s the problem with the “glass ceiling” metaphor; it legitimizes exploitation.

International Association of Fire Fighters holds a shindig. Clinton doesn’t show (Obama? As if) and, Bush, Cruz, plus Rubio suck up — because what, after all, have the Democrats done for unions other than not deliver on ECMA and watch while pensions are gutted? — but then there’s this [AP]:

“There are two important things you did not hear from any of today’s Republican speaker. One is a commitment to collective bargaining,” O’Malley declared, and was immediately interrupted by a standing ovation. “The second is a commitment to funding public safety.”

In Wisconsin, “Hillary Clinton garners 52% of the vote in her head-to-head matchup with Walker” [Public Policy Polling]. IIRC, a Democratic shop.

The self-made [snort] squillionaires who write the biggest political checks of all tend to be reflexively turned off by privilege and connections, according to three top Republicans who raise money for outside groups. So they like Rubio’s Horatio Alger story [Bloomberg].

Clown Car

Christie settles multibillion oil pollution case against Exxon for a fraction of what the state originally sought [New York Times].

The Hill

“Iran Offers to Mediate Talks Between Republicans and Obama” [The New Yorker]. “[T]heir continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace.”

“Two GOP aides separately described their letter as a ‘cheeky’ reminder of the Congressional branch’s prerogatives. The administration has no sense of humor when it comes to how weakly they have been handling these negotiations,’ said a top GOP Senate aide” [Daily Beast].

Presidential hopefuls Cruz, Graham, Paul, and Rubio all signed Cotton’s letter [WaPo]. Did anybody tell them the letter was meant to be… cheeky?

Freshman Senator Cotton, author of the Iran letter [Politico], defeated Blue Dog Mark Pryor to win his seat. Well done, DSCC. If only Pryor had been more of a Republican

Anybody remember when Pelosi conducted foreign policy for Democrats by meeting with Assad? No? [Dan Froomkin, The Intercept]. As ever, it’s all good when our guys do it, all bad when the other guys do.

“Democrats joined Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday in unanimously pressing the administration to send weapons to Kiev” [New York Times]. So awesome.

Herd on the Street

You can already find Apple Watch knockoffs in Shenzen [CNN].

General Mills looking to unload some food-like product lines [Reuters].

Google opens first Google-branded store, in London [Wall Street Journal]. But not on a barge?

Battery hacking [Bloomberg]. Yes, Bloomberg is still horrid and hard-to-use. The designer should be punished.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of March 7, 2015: “[R]ose 7,000 to a much higher-than-expected level of 320,000 [Bloomberg]. Continuing claims also up.

Retail sales, February 2015: Pulled down by lower gas prices. But consumers aren’t putting the money anywhere else “even as confidence has improved” [Bloomberg]. Well, er, if confidence has improved, wouldn’t they be acting confidently?

Import and export prices, February 2015: “Import prices fell 2.8 percent in January alone for year-on-year contraction of 8.0 percent. And it’s much more than just the impact of the strong dollar as export prices are also in contraction, at minus 2.0 percent for the month and minus 5.4 percent on the year” [Bloomberg]. Import fall centered on petroleum.


“A bipartisan coalition of former executive branch officials and congressmen filed a brief asking the Fourth Circuit to reverse the judgment [on corruption charges] against [former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell]. The group includes three former U.S. attorneys (John Ashcroft, Mark Filip and Michael Mukasey), five former lawyers to the president (Gregory Craig, Lanny Davis, Fred Fielding, C. Boyden Gray and John Quinn) and former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson” [National Law Journal]. Lanny Davis? Say no more! Say no more!

“[T]he BBC is forcing out or demoting the journalists who exposed Jimmy Savile as a voracious abuser of girls” [Guardian]. Meanwhile, and oddly, or not, the BBC shows great concern for rape stories in one of its former colonial possessions. Couldn’t they cover both?


Corruption: Chicago Teacher pension money invested with Rahm Emanuel’s friends and donors, with the usual private equity fee structures NC readers are quite familiar with *** cough *** looting *** cough *** [International Business Times]. This is huge! I mean, Tiny Dancer has friends?

Corruption: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Department of Streets and Sanitation is still spending millions of dollars to provide free garbage collection to ineligible multi-unit residential buildings and to nonprofits whose garbage freebie was never authorized, the city’s inspector general concluded Wednesday” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “The list of not-for-profit organizations provided free garbage pick-ups includes 22 offices of past and present Chicago aldermen.” The article doesn’t mention which multi-unit residential buildings, but that sounds like real estate developers, to me.

Sleaze: “Emanuel’s latest spot takes liberties with Garcia’s positions on the issues and the numbers it uses, while including out-of-context video clips to build the attack” [Chicago Sun-Times]. Sheesh. What kind of sleazebag is doing Rahm’s advertising, anyhow? Axelrod?

Garcia on Honan Square: “My immediate reaction was, why is a British newspaper reporting on this? And if true, why isn’t the local media reporting on it? I did some checking through staff about the assertions made in that article. We spoke with some experts in the field and we continue to investigate. We have not ascertained whether the assertions are true. They’re troubling, and we continue to investigate” [Windy City Media Group]. The Guardian headline spins this very badly, then.

Round-up on reasons Rahm could lose [Real Clear Politics]. Garcia is behind, but Rahm is stuck at 45%. “The final pre-election poll from the Chicago Tribune last month showed the mayor at 45 percent with 20 percent still undecided. Emanuel’s final tally on Feb. 24? 45.4 percent.” So the undecideds will decide the race, and last time they didn’t go Rahm’s way.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Police gun down an unarmed, black, naked man in Atlanta, Georgia [Reuters]. His name: Anthony Hill.

Police gun down unarmed, biracial man in Madison, Wisconsin [Vox]. His name: Tony Robinson.

Ferguson boots city manager after Justice report [WaPo]. Who was, of course, just one of IIRC 48 municipalities in greater St Louis, most with the same problems, and who was thoroughy mainstream in his view that “[l]aw enforcement, like any other service, is essentially a business activity” (in the words of Robert Poole).

Police State

25 St. Louis police officers are under investigation for allegedly working on the side to provide protection for drug dealers [CBS]. Gang members just with badges….

Police tell Florida ACLU that 84 hours of body cam footage will cost $18,000 [Marshall Project]. Oh, the records are open; you just can’t afford to look at them.


MH370: “Everything was fine, and then suddenly it wasn’t” [Economist]. True for a lot of things!

James Fallows on MH370 [The Atlantic]. Came up in Google, seemed current, and then I checked the date: 2014. So no, we don’t know much more, do we?

Towelette with Malaysia Airlines logo found on a beach north of Perth ‘unlikely from MH370’ as item is common [Telegraph]. Another oddity, since the Australian beachwatchers expect debris.

News of the Wired

  • Shitphone: A Love Story [Medium].
  • Some New York school districts to boycott standardized tests [The Albany Project].
  • Manure lagoons in North Carolina to export pork to China [Reveal]. Sued by the neighbors for the shit mist nuisance, Smithfield Farms asks “the judge to banish references to the Chinese owners and their efforts to expand pig farms and exports to China.”
  • Bunga bunga acquital for Berlusconi, so he can re-enter politics [Guardian]. And Berlusconi is said to have inked a preliminary deal with a Thai tycoon to sell 30% of AC Milan for €250 million. So, one wonders, what will he do with all that cash? Return to politics? If so, what are his views on the Euro and the Eurozone?
  • “[Wombs in Labor] frames the flourishing commercial surrogacy industry in India as a complex labor market involving the negotiations of bodies, women’s reproductive labor, motherhood, money, family relationships, morals and ethics, race and class, and global inequality [Asian Review of Books]. As indeed any labor market issue will do….
  • The number of hate groups fell 17% between 2013 and 2014, says the Southern Poverty Law Center [Time].
  • Australia’s only Walkley Award winning marsupial based cartoonist [First Dog on the Moon]. Fun stuff. For starters.
  • We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies [NPR]. So what happens if the clocks get out of synch?
  • Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address — May 21, 2005 [David Foster Wallace (PDF)]. Very funny, and interesting on “default settings.”

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the second of, er, Miscellaneous Week* (JG):


Coming soon!

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

* My concept was “Humorous Vegetables Week” (a Terry Pratchett reference) but the only submission was, well, not suitable for a family blog. So maybe that was not such a good idea. I wonder what would have been better?

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. Michael Hudson

    C’mon, Lambert. This is CHICAGO. if a pollster asks you who you’re going to vote for and you give the wrong answer, he takes you in the back room and disappears you.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      C’mon, Lambert Too.
      Why no third party news items in the 2016 section?

      BTW, no I’m not misogynist because I hate Hellery. I’m anti-neoliberal. Slight difference. ;-) And I’d love to see a women president but maybe her first name is Jill or sumthin’.

      1. JPalmer

        Yes please Jill Stein for president. What a breath of fresh air that would be for All Americans. Hell, for the world.

        1. Emma

          Thanks to Mr Moss for bringing Jill to our attention.
          ‘Moss: Making good education better!’

          I was so close to writing code for the ‘Picking Fluff from a Belly Button’ app but this changes that! Just checked her out (http://www.jill2016.com/ ) and now think: Jill for POTUS NOW!

          She should be renamed ‘Jewel’ as she encouragingly reminds Americans #ItsInOurHands.
          So go grab a paintbrush and let’s create history with The Green House!

          Not only would this be a first (ie. female leader as POTUS) and catch-up finally by the US, but it’d also be a leap ahead of other nations with a Green Party leader running an entire nation (if we’ve never heard of Latvia….) plus Jill would also be the first proper Doctor in the House (Harrison wore a ‘Whig’ (tee-hee!)).

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Because most of them aren’t very good at getting themselves into the news (and I don’t care that it’s hard; if they can’t figure out how to do it they don’t deserve to win). Howie Hawkins figured it out; so did Ursula Rozum; and so did Teachout/Wu, who, if not third party, are at least insurgents. And I don’t link to party sites, no matter the party.

        That said, do feel free to send me news links to third parties. The contact information is above.

  2. NOTaREALmerican

    If only we could explain to the teaming-masses who (exactly) the neo-liberals were (exactly), all these problems could be solved.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      First, you have to explain to them what the heck a neo-liberal is. Or let them borrow Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.

    2. Hope Larkin-Begley

      Upvote! Imagine some third party candidate taking a free comedy/Ted Talk show on the road coast to coast! Sprinkle in some Big Name celebrities and musicians to draw the tired masses to the Free Civics/Economic History Fest.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Both parties, for starters. Anybody who wants to turn government functions over to profit maximizers is a good rule of thumb.

      And please stop repeating yourself. I heard and answered you the first time.

  3. vidimi

    first dog on the moon is great, kudos for posting. even though s/he lampoons ozzie issues, they resonate everywhere.

    1. RUKidding

      YAY. I love First Dog on the Moon! Long ago I used to live far far away in a land downundah. My mates periodically send me First Dog on the Moon so I can get a quick overview of whot’s whot down there.


      The love letter to Aussie Medicare goes well with yesterday’s post about USA Medicare. Aussies are fighting to keep their formerly excellent benefits, which, alas. have been eroded by the usual suspects over the years.

      1. petal

        I love First Dog on the Moon!
        While I studied in Australia, I required some pretty serious emergency surgery. Received the most amazing care, so it has been painful to see the healthcare system being chipped away at over the years. Makes me angry and sad.

  4. tyaresun

    Not allowed to export beef but surrogate mothers? Please go forward by all means!

    Holy cow!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The baby will probably have some the surrogate mother’s genes, if we get DNA from something casual, like the food we eat.

  5. Cujo359

    One of the things I noticed on the Twitter is how much the press hates Clinton;

    The Clintons have always had one singular talent – making the right enemies. The people who hate them generally make them look good by contrast.

  6. Clive

    The BBC unfortunately is now in the last gasp of its doomed fight to halt the slide into a hopeless case of neoliberal infestation. It might rise again to recapture lost greatness, but the odds aren’t that high in the near term.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Clive, sadly I have come to a similar conclusion, although the infestation is not just NeoLiberalism, but also NeoConservatism (although perhaps these are functionally merely differing expressions of the same malign intent). I was only yesterday flipping through the cable channels, and happened to alight on the BBC/America channel just as their version of “Newz” was starting, and I was totally revulsed by the assault upon reason and decency that was embodied in the selection of, and indeed the very tenor of the stories. I kept right on flipping…

      It was not always so. In the days of my youth, I was a fairly serious hobbyist shortwave radio listener, and the BBC was a welcome friend, diverse in its subject matter, and fair-minded in my estimation in its treatment of world events (having already traveled a bit in the 3rd World, you weren’t going to be able to pull the wool over my eyes without some effort being expended). Urbane was how I might now characterize it. No longer. Now they present as a NeoLiberal/NeoConservative propaganda organ, fully as reprehensible as my similarly-minded local newspaper, that condign nest of NeoLibCons, the Philadelphia Inquirer.

      Again, this was not always so; back in the not-too-distant past, the Inky was a McClatchy paper, and one could expect better things. Now, it is largely comprised of wire service feeds from the NY Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post, AP & Reuters, with only an occasional national/international story from any other sourcing. The editorial page is a right-wing horror, whose most prominent recurring editorialist is the execrable Krauthammer, that smirking fascist.

      I think that T.S. Eliot had the sense of what it is like for us now, struggling against overmastering odds:

      “There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
      And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
      That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
      For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

    2. different clue

      I also notice that they have spent the last few years being hip, cool, and groovy — to attract a “younger demographic” I suppose. Its mostly just a same-every-hour newsloop now, much more dumbdowned simple than what it used to be years ago. The laughter and jokes on-air annoy me. Some of the interviewers are very good at being rude, hostile, interruptive and staying on message though.

      And yet . . . it is still pleasant-enough ear candy for when I get home tired from work. Something like NPR.

  7. optimader

    “The most startling news at Clinton’s press conference was her disclosure that she discarded roughly 32,000 emails her lawyers decided were personal records” [Politico]. No doubt a forensic data recovery could still find that “discarded” email. If the hard disk itself were to be made available.

    Exactly why there should have been a quick court order for the FBI to confiscate the computer and impound it pending legal sorting out.

    This issue is not being treated as a serious Constitutional/Legal matter. One of those, who could have anticipated/everyone does it/ no one is to blame deals.

    No independent verification of anything. All very whimsical

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Unless I miss my guess, those email server hard-drives are already puddles of molten metal at a local smeltery. But c’mon now, what could a Clinton possibly have to hide. Why just yesterday, I said to myself, I says “Llewelyn, I think it’s time to go clean out yer old emails. Just cause them emails are old. 32,000 should do the trick.”

    2. hunkerdown

      The FBI exists to protect inequality and for no other reason. How’s not tamping the lid down on this ASAP fit that mission?

      1. optimader

        The FBI exists to protect inequality and for no other reason.
        A little too philosophically nuanced I suspect. The organizing mission of the FBI is to perpetuate the FBI, which to be fair is probably true for most any government agency.

        Although they have a reputation for being about the most indolent LEO’s that exist, it all depends on for whom the dog is hunting.

    3. afisher

      My simple math: During an election cycle, I receive between 150-200 emails / day. And I am but a mere mortal.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Something close…there is no pious like the new convert.

      Often times, when neoliberalism is copied and practiced in a new country, it’s the better (harsher) version.

      Or when a new bubble is re-created (copied), it is usually bigger (and presumably better).

      But if you are talking about cloned sheep or GM foods, maybe the original ones are the best.

    2. ian

      Your post made me remember something and laugh – my brother-in-laws collection of cheap knockoff watches from the lower east side of NYC. He is a discerning collector though, and only gets the ones with something wrong – he has a “rollex” and a “philip patek”. Who knows what kind of Apple knockoff he’ll own someday…

  8. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    “Congressional branch prerogatives”? (Iran letter). Where were they when the Executive was launching brand new wars across the globe? When he was refusing to enforce the rule of law for banksters? When he was trampling the Constitution with illegal warrantless spying? Secretly negotiating toxic corporo-fascist trade deals? I wish they would take just one prerogative they do indeed have: to represent their constituents.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Ah, but they do represent their constituents.

      Their constituents are just not the mooks who happen to live in their congressional district or state.

      Simplicity itself.

  9. New Deal democrat

    Re: Stats watch. You know Thursday’s numbers on Wednesday???

    There are some gentlemen here from the SEC who would like to speak with you. Also some guys from Wall Street with suitcases full of cash. Your pick.

  10. James Levy

    Ah, the delusion that weapons win wars. Well, weapons are important, but people willing and able to use them and properly trained and led are vastly more important than any assortment of weapons. The rebels are not particularly numerous or that smartly armed, but they are pretty obviously well led and motivated to fight hard. Americans are obsessed with the qualities and specs of weapons. They’d do better to find “allies” who actually wanted to fight.

  11. Synoia

    We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies [NPR]. So what happens if the clocks get out of synch?

    Look to the pituitary gland send out some form of “Its Dawn” trigger and “Its Nighttime” trigger (a synchronization signal).

    Why the pituitary gland? It is attached to the optic nerve.

  12. jgordon

    Hey I just got my 105mm f2.8 macro lens. I’ll send some more tiny plant pictures soonish. After I finish a set of wedding photos I’m procrastinating on finishing.

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