2:00PM Water Cooler 3/2/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Clinton launch in April: “[A] move that would allay uncertainties within her party and allow her to rev up fundraising [Wall Street Journal, “Hillary Clinton Seen Launching Presidential Bid in April”]. Clinton “doesn’t relish the campaign trail,” say some close associates. Hmm.

Court news from The Clinton Foundation [Politico]. And its dynastic tendencies.

O’Malley throws hat near the ring, to Hillary’s left, at Democratic “Issues Summit” [WaPo]. O’Malley: “If a bank is too big to fail without harming the common good of our nation, then it’s too big and we must break it up before it breaks us.” That’s the stuff to give the troops!

After more than two dozen Blue Dogs got put down in the 2014 mid-terms, Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), the New Democrat Network (NDN) and Third Way gather to demand that Democrats repeat their failure [The Hill].

CPAC: “Conservatives do remain guided by one firm principle: Government is too big. But there’s no consensus on how to change it” [McClatchy]. Sounds like the decadent stage.

CPAC: Paul wins straw poll, Walker second, then Cruz, Carson, and Bush [McClatchy]. Background [WaPo].


CPAC: “But if the rest of the speech shows anything, Jeb’s ‘moderation’ will begin and end with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and Common Core. He’s so far out on those two issues, that there’s no room for moderation on anything else” [Salon].

Principled Insurgents

Walker explains to Fox News Sunday: “I’m not comparing those two entities [protesters and terrorists]. What I meant was, it was about leadership” [McClatchy]. Ugh, leadership, the favorite topic in the Business section of every third-rate airport bookstore in the world. Personally, though it pains me to agree with Slate’s John Dickerson, I think at most we’ve got Walker dog-whistling, not making a direct comparison (though the dog whistle works because this is what the base believes. And if we get a series of these apparent dog whistles, followed by Walker walkbacks, I’ll ratchet up my view of Walker’s competence).

More interestingly, it used to be only Republicans who could propagate a catchy meme through several news cycles; now Democrats can do it, too. We might also remember that there’s another major political figure who equates protesters and terrorists, at least if judged by their actions: That would be President Obama, who smashed Occupy with a 17-city paramilitary crackdown orchestrated by the DHS, co-operating with mayors who were, with the single exception of “Mike” Bloomberg, Democrats.

Walker’s “vision for America is less as a functioning republic, and more as a profit center” [Will Bunch, Inquirer]. Yes, ad that’s the neo-liberal wet dream. Unfortunately, that vision sounds a lot like what backers of the TPP, like Obama, want.

Daily Beast retracts Walker story sourcing Jezebel, Jezebel having retracted [Politico]. Scroll down to read the tweets from Jezebel “reporter” Natasha Vargas-Cooper; they’re precious.

Clown Car

CPAC, John Bolton, together with his moustache: Clinton Benghazi ZOMFG!!! [The Hill].

“[T]he candidates are making their cases to exclusive gatherings of donors whose wealth, fully unleashed by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, has granted them the kind of influence and convening power once held by urban political bosses and party chairmen” [New York Times]. Of course, the old bosses actually knew politics, and the squillionaires don’t, so marks like Adelson get taken by grifters like Gingrich. But still.

A good explanation and visualization of gerrymandering [WaPo].

The Hill

TPP: “The administration, with few hopes for significant legislative victories with the GOP-controlled Congress — hopes TPP will be a centerpiece accomplishment of Obama’s second term” [Politico]. Help me.

Herd on the Street

Workers accusing Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe of wage-fixing will try on Monday to win approval of a $415 million settlement from U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who rejected an earlier deal as too low [Reuters].

Boeing continues to diversify production sites, especially South Carolina [Puget Sound Business Journal].

Google’s Crystal Palace [FT, “Google’s new HQ misses a trick with latest ‘Glass’”].

New Samsung S6 has payment system designed to work with the “magnetic-stripe machines that are found at nine out of 10 cash registers in the U.S.” [Wall Street Journal, “Samsung Unveils Galaxy S6 to Answer iPhone 6”].

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, January 2015: Posts a gain of 0.3 percent, below analysts’ forecasts. [Bloomberg]. “Inflation is low and well below the Fed’s target of 2 percent year-ago inflation, meaning the Fed likely will stick with no rate hike before June.”

Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, February 2015: “Americans’ daily self-reports of spending averaged $82 in February, similar to the $81 in January, but slightly lower than the February average from last year” [Bloomberg]. A drop after the holidaze is typical.

PMI Manufacturing Index, February 2015: “Factory growth picked up noticeably in the last two weeks of February based on Markit’s index” [Bloomberg].

ISM Manufacturing Index, February 2015: Growth is visibly slowing in ISM’s manufacturing sample; the slowest rate since last year’s polar vortex [Bloomberg]. “The manufacturing sector has been uneven the last few months in large part due to weak foreign demand”.”

Construction Spending, January 2015: Below market expectations, led by public outlays [Bloomberg]. “[S]oftening in the overall construction sector but gains in the housing component.”


“When the Room Is Small and You Stink” [Gapers Block (DG)].

Poll: Emmanuel and Garcia in “dead heat” [Chicago Sun-Times].

“[H]aving purchased the services of the best research dirty money can buy, what Emanuel’s focus group wizards discovered was that Chicago voters care about corruption” [Rick Perlstein, In These Times].

Chicago Teachers Union’s Jesse Sharkey: “The mayor has a zillion dollars, and a sitting president gives you a hug. Then you get Magic Johnson. It smacked of cheap celebrity endorsement. And it was ineffective” [Chicago Magazine].

Handy compilation, if tendentious, of [Rahm’s Accomplishments].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Chicago Metro Transit Authority police officers filming #BlackLivesMatter protesters in Grand Central Terminal use balcony level overlook at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, in the station [The Nation]. That seems odd. Or not.

“Black Lives Matter emerged as the most cohesive movement, with membership across the country and sweeping demands – if not exactly an organisational structure as familiar as establishment civil rights groups” [Guardian]. Good survey of post-Trayvon Martin organizing.

City of Cleveland response to Tamir Rice lawsuit: “The 12-year-old’s shooting death was caused ‘by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury'” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]. “The boy was shot less than two seconds after the officers pulled up.” That’s not much time to exercise due care, is it?

Justice report to criticize Ferguson “for disproportionately ticketing and arresting African-Americans and relying on the fines to balance the city’s budget” [New York Times].

LAPD fatal shooting of man (“Africa”) at homeless encampment captured on video [Los Angeles Times]. Thinking back to Occupy, when the homeless were certainly a challenge, but also where the homeless pitched in and found meaning in the work. Very sad.

“A realistic program of black expatriation today would start with appreciating the huge potential of cheap flights and Internet hyperconnectivity” [New York Times].

Health Care

Republicans have a secret plan in case the Court strikes down ObamaCare subsidies in King v. Burwell [WaPo].

Class Warfare

“Lower unionization is associated with an increase in top income shares in advanced economies during the period 1980–2010” [IMF]. That’s not a bug….

One reason Walmart raised its wages: “[T]he company is planning to ask more of its employees” [WaPo].

“Men with criminal records account for 34% of all nonworking men ages 25-54” [New York Times].

News of the Wired

  • Internet goes out in Flagstaff, AZ and environs after cable break [Los Angeles Times]. “During evening newscasts, Phoenix TV stations showed blank spaces on their weather maps where local temperatures would normally appear.”
  • Two new Missisippi deltas in Louisiana: The Atchafalaya and the Wax Lake outlets [Live Science].
  • “Greenpeace Probe Of Climate Naysayer Implicates Exxon Mobil” [Buzzfeed].
  • “Have You Tried DRAKON Comrade? (Russian Space Program Specification Language)” [Another Word For It].
  • “American Airlines To Phase Out Complimentary Cabin Pressurization” [The Onion].
  • Test for keeping or tossing: “Does it tokimeku—does it spark joy?” [Wall Street Journal, “Marie Kondo and the Cult of Tidying Up”]

* * *

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 first of Plants in Snow Week (MR):


From Tokyo.

Readers! How about sending me some plants under snow and/or ice? Seems appropriate? And if that doesn’t sound like a good idea, how about some humorous vegetables?

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

Yes, I’ve got to fix the hat! Thank you all for your generous help in the mini-fundraiser!

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. Vince in MN

    Clinton needs to take us back to the good old days when presidential candidates considered campaigning for the job to be unseemly and would go no further than their front porch. Please!

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I don’t get why people are talking about possible illegalities with Hilary’s email hygiene, she’s very rich and very connected. What actual chance is there she would be subject to the rule of law?

  2. Vince in MN

    Obama and TPP
    Another example of his taking the shotgun approach to Legacy. Something has to stick right? 20 months and counting.

  3. LifelongLib

    “the old bosses actually knew politics…”

    “Boss” Tweed had to worry about what the voters thought:

    “Let’s stop them damned pictures [Nast cartoons]. I don’t care so much what the papers write about me–my constituents can’t read–but damn it, they can see pictures.”

  4. roadrider

    O’Malley’s “break up the banks” rhetoric is like Bush the Elder calling Reagan’s tax cut plan “voodoo economics”. It strictly for campaign consumption and will be discarded when its expedient. In the end he’s selling Clintonism without the Clintons and running for VP. He did some good things in MD (I have lived there for the past 5 years) but in the end we have a stagnant economy overly concentrated on government contracts (largely in the national security/surveillance state sector), high taxes and a high cost of living while services are either stagnating or being cut. The MD Health Connection roll out was seriously bungled and while the Lt. Gov was primarily in charge the buck still stops at the governor’s desk.

    O’Malley’s popularity ratings were down in the 40s before he left office and his hand-picked successor generated so little enthusiasm that he lost to Republican real estate hack Larry Hogan in one of the bluest or blue states mostly because of low voter turnout in Dem stronghold areas.

    I also read that when he was mayor of Baltimore he refused to watch the Wire because he felt that it was bad for the city’s image and tried to block filming of the second season. That alone is enough reason for me to say “Phooey!” on O’Malley.

    1. LifelongLib

      I don’t know anything about actual Baltimore/Maryland politics, but IIRC on “The Wire” the mayor of Baltimore was portrayed as using his position as a stepping-stone to being governor, at times to the detriment of Baltimore.

      1. winstonsmith

        The mayor of Baltimore poisoned Lena Headey’s son/nephew and threw his wife out the Moon Door.

      2. roadrider

        Yes, the character was partly based on O’Malley – another reason he hated the show.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Nasdaq 5000, comrades. It’s 4,999 as I type.

    Doesn’t anybody wanna get rich quick??

    1. ProNewerDeal

      The Walmart VP of PR hackery quoted that the Walmart “must” staff its stores with 50% PT workers “due to seasonality”. IIRC, Yves mentioned Walmart in particular as an example of the scam of Big Employers that actually have quite predictable staffing needs, in over-using PT workers as if the business actually had high variability of worker-shifts needed, as if it were an actually variable worker-shift business like snow plow removal business.

    2. ambrit

      I have noticed that the ‘regular’ staff is now tasked with the stocking during the day. Goodbye to all those “overpaid” night crew stockers! This ‘regionalization of ‘production bonuses’ will sow dissention among the ranks. Then, to assuage the tender feelings of the less fortunate ‘associates’ whose zones don’t have high profit margins, (and who all want to transfer into the high margin departments,) Management will do away with bonuses altogether. (If you feel I’m being too cynical, I have a Mississippi River Control Structure for sale. You can charge by the cubic foot per minute! Immense profits! Present owner is selling due to health issues. Hurry! This one won’t last long! Please contact via Economics Department, c/o, Department of Metaphysics, University of Magonia. Mark, Attention Dr. Tremens.)

        1. ambrit

          I base my mysnomanagemental musings on my Lowes experience. I believe I may have posted this once before, but the repetition of cynical ideations never hurt, much. When I first arrived there, the company had sales bonuses on the high ticket items. All the best salespeople fought to get into the departments that sold such. You could double your salary. (One man I met working there did exactly that every cheque.) First order results; higher big ticket item sales volume, fierce competition for said sales spots. Then someone in corporate got greedy. Look at all that money going to worker bees! Something must be done about this. Results, no more sales commissions. Most of the superior sales staff leaves in next three months. Sales volume takes a small hit. Corporate profit jumps. (It turns out the sales bonuses were mainly paid for by the manufacturers. Instant money for the ‘job creators!’)
          I would wager that the original WalMart bonus plan was the creation of one of the ‘original’ WalMart leaders, way back when worker happiness was, if not honoured, at least considered good business practice. These new managers strike me as being ‘All Greed All the Time.’ I can indeed imagine some ‘movers and shakers’ sitting back in their easy chair at the Mansion, thinking through this newest looting “opportunity.” (“I’ll have enough stashed away to retire to the islands before the company goes t—s up. Why not? If I don’t, somebody will.”)
          Barnum is supposed to have remarked; “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public.” I’ll add; “No one ever got rich underestimating the greed of Management.”
          Thanks for letting me rant.

  6. OIFVet

    John Kerry, stand-up comedian: Putin ‘misinterprets’ U.S. efforts in Ukraine. “I think President Putin misinterprets a great deal of what the United States has been doing and is trying to do. We are not involved in ‘multiple color revolutions’ as he asserts, nor are we involved in a particularly personal way here.” Nothing personal, mmm’Kay?

    1. tgs

      Kerry is a complete buffoon and liar.

      And speaking of buffoons, I saw a bit of a France24 panel on the Nemtsov assassination on which a US think-tank type asserted that even if Putin did not order the hit, he is morally responsible since Putin is responsible for the paranoid atmosphere in Russia. Investigation and fact finding are pointless. Needless to say not a single person on the show disagreed with this rather novel theory of criminal liability as far as I could tell.

      1. different clue

        I don’t know how or whether Putin contributed to the current atmosphere in Russia. I will just suggest that in theory he “could” be morally responsible If if IF he did in fact create the atmosphere in which killing a minor dissident is done. “Creating an atmosphere” has worked at other times in other places.

        For example, even if Netanyahu was not directly involved in planning the Rabin assassination, he was very certainly morally co-responsible for it at the very least by waging the campaign he waged in order to create the atmosphere he co-created. And that’s no mere theory.

    2. Gareth

      There is absolutely nothing personal about Joe Biden conducting lead US diplomacy in Ukraine, while coincidentally, his son Hunter was appointed to the board of a Ukrainian gas company which intends to frack Eastern Ukraine — you know, the rebellious part. That Hunter Biden works with Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz, at a private equity firm, is another on of those amazing coincidences that exist in the cozy world of oligarchy.

      Why shouldn’t Hunter Biden join the board of a gas company in Ukraine? | Business | The Guardian

  7. Garrett Pace

    The suppression of the Atchafalaya River is a prima facie sign of humanity’s self-conflicting madness – on the one hand to remake the whole world into a money-generating enterprise, and the other to counteract nature’s effects and maintain static conditions to preserve property values.

    Nature will squash these facile dreams flat.

      1. Ed

        This story is so strange that I find it hard to believe whenever it is recounted. Essentially, the Mississippi often shifts course, as is the norm for large rivers on floodplains. Because there is a huge sunk cost in the port, cities, and industries between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the federal government has invested considerable money in preventing that over the past sixty or so years, probably more money than it would have taken to just construct a new port along the new channel.

        Its not that you have cities left literally high and dry as their outlets to the sea changed channels or silted up before in history.

        New Orleans would probably have to be preserved as sort of a museum city or abandoned, but I don’t see what is so special about the place that it has to avoid the fate of Ravenna, Bruges, and Venice.

        1. different clue

          Maybe we should make our best guess as to where exactly the Mississippi will come out once it finds the Atchafalaya River and takes it over. If we feel our best guess is good enough, perhaps we could build a “ghost port skeleton” at the best possible place to be pre-prepared for it.

        1. different clue

          I remember reading in an encyclopedia once about King Canute. It appears the King Canute story is widely misreported and misunderstood. What I read was . . . that Canute grew irritated with the overly-worshipful fawning of his lackeys and so he commanded the ocean to retreat in full view of all his lackeys so that they would learn he did not have the powers they were ascribing to him.

          (I think I remember reading also that Canute was one of the Danish Kings of the Danelaw in Brittain).

      2. ambrit

        It’s much more complicated. Even Congressional Politics is simple by comparison.
        See here:
        I worked with a man who’s father was “up there” in the Corps of Engineers. Anthony saw the Low Sill structure during the ’73 flood. The Corps was dumping rip rap into the undercut continuously. His dad, who I met and heard part of the story from, said the Corps estimated the structure was less than a day away from collapse at one point. That would have meant a permanent change of the main flow from the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya.
        Man proposes, God disposes:

          1. ambrit

            Oh, be still my heart! There are so many ‘charter’ jokes lurking in there, my poor head reels.

    1. Cugel

      CPAC: “Conservatives do remain guided by one firm principle: Government is too big. But there’s no consensus on how to change it” [McClatchy]. Sounds like the decadent stage.

      I keep expecting that at some point the Tea-baggers are going to lose interest in participating in politics because their leaders are continually promising things they have no intention and no interest in making any move to fulfill: e.g. “downsizing government.” Aside from a few government programs that still benefit the middle class like Medicare, most “big government” benefits banks, insurance companies and Wall Street. They don’t want to downsize it. Of course, the Tea-baggers get their info from Fox News so they remain clueless.

      But, the disillusionment on the right is growing as it grew decades ago on the left from the constant sell outs and broken promises. Right now I’d say that the angry old white men are only driven to the polls because they fear that black and brown people will otherwise get something at their expense.

      But, it’s going to be hard for Republicans to swallow the utter incapability and refusal of this Congress to do anything about their imbecilic priorities with a huge governing majority. They keep making unforced own goals like the Homeland Security Funding Bill fiasco. That will only continue for another 2 years.

      1. Gaylord

        Military contractors are among the biggest beneficiaries of big government. Not much chance of downsizing the military budget, especially when there are so many threats to “national security.”

  8. Louis L.

    Although the Republicans claim to have a plan if the United States Supreme Court strikes down the subsidies, I have my doubts. The problem for the Republicans is that there is no way to guarantee everyone insurance coverage or access to healthcare without some degree of government intervention.

    The Affordable Care Act, or the plan Romney signed off on as Governor of Massachusetts, is probably about as close to a “free-market” solution as you are going to get.

    1. Jack Brown

      Reading the NYT’s catastrophic projection of what will happen if the Supremes strike down the ACA, I was struck by a feeling that this might be the BEST outcome for the country in the long term. According to Mike Shear, if the states without their own marketplaces lose the federal subsidies, all but the sickest low income people will drop their insurance. Then:

      “With healthy people no longer choosing to be covered, experts said, most insurance companies would pull out of the markets in those states rather than cover only the sickest — and most expensive — customers.

      The result would be a “death spiral,” according to the Supreme Court brief filed by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the nation’s health insurance trade group. “It would leave consumers in those states with a more unstable market and far higher costs,” the group argued in the brief.”

      I wonder if the resulting public rage and social disorder might renew the movement for a real shift to socialized medicine, instead of the bizarre and expensive system Obama gave us.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It might, but I’m not a “worse is better” advocate because ObamaCare will help some and I don’t think it’s right to bring suffering on them. This sounds like the old “sharpen the contradictions” strategy…

      2. different clue

        The Supreme Court will NOT strike down subsidies in the states without their own state exchanges.
        The SC will upHOLD those subsidies. They will make very clear that “state” in this case MEANS the Fed. Gov. Roberts will see to it. He isn’t going to let those revenue streams to Big Insura be shrunken down after all the hard work he did to get them upheld to begin with.

  9. It would be interesting to know

    It would be interesting to know the Arizona outage effect on medical facilities. I recollect a Bay Area California optic cable[s] cut that cause quite a few problems for one or more Hospitals.

  10. NOTaREALmerican

    Re: CPAC: “Conservatives do remain guided by one firm principle: Government is too big. But there’s no consensus on how to change it”

    You left off the ending.

    But there’s no consensus on how to change it without hurting the “conservatives” who make their money leaching off the big-government they don’t like”.

  11. Oneaboveall

    Another example of why this country will never change, the Air Force claims they need $10 Billion more “to support its global responsibilities.” Here are actual comments from the article on Opposing Viewpoints:

    “Cut some money from the social programs, food stamps, medicaid or housing. It’s just a waste of taxpayer money. Use the money to provide a military that is capable of protecting the taxpayer not rewarding the worthless!”

    “hello yes obama is selling us out to the muslims he is the worse of the worse he is on the side of isis and he must be impeached for treason he is the monster of the worse traitor lying face to face with the american public he has to go…”

    “All part of Obama’s plans. He would rather give kids free community college than fully fund our Air Force that helps guard us 24/7.”

    The article is Here.

  12. Lisa

    ““American Airlines To Phase Out Complimentary Cabin Pressurization” Don’t give them any ideas.

    Bad enough when they, even when not legally required to do so, banned smoking, Now it was nothing to do with sucking up to non smokers, it was they could cut the amount of air circulation in the cabin, which reduced drag and hence fuel burn, Bit of a give away if you see a smoker..and their smoke doesn’t move.
    Famous case of a Lufthansa flight, where the pilot cut it back so much people were passing out…..

    1. ambrit

      Business opportunity alert!!!!
      Sell or, better yet, rent portable oxygen rigs to airline passengers!

  13. Demeter

    It’s 7F outside, but my peach tree is showing fuzzy little flower buds. It’s supposed to get up to “normal” March temperatures after Friday for at least a week, meaning 20 to 40F.

    I just hope we don’t freeze those little buds off, like last year. Not one peach set.

Comments are closed.