2:00PM Water Cooler 3/5/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Sanders: “The nature of election laws and rules all over the country makes it very difficult and hard to get on the ballot as an Independent” [Yahoo News].

O’Malley won’t be running for Senate, will be visiting Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina [The New Yorker].

“Nothing is decided. But if Hillary Clinton doesn’t start defining herself against the narrative her opponents are putting forth, she can’t expect to sleepwalk her way back to the White House” [National Journal].

“A Clinton Presidency is the most likely of any, from the major candidates, to serve up significant and enduring market-oriented reforms” [Marginal Revolution]. Well, that’s re-assuring.

“Marc Elias, a veteran campaign finance lawyer who was general counsel for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, is scheduled to be Mrs. Clinton’s lead campaign lawyer” [New York Times]. Well well. I wonder if Elias, as general counsel, was the one who advised Kerry to fold like a deck chair after all those voting shenanigans in Ohio?


Jebbie and the Everglades — better than expected? [Politico]. I’m not seeing a ton of detail, especially about outcomes, in this article. Any Floridians care to weigh in?

Jebbie’s foreign policy team: Chertoff, Hayden, Ridge…. Logrolling and backscratching. Round up the usual suspects [HuffPo].

“[W]ithin a presidential system, gridlock leads to a constitutional trainwreck with no resolution” [Matt Yglesias, Vox]. With the provocative title, “American Democracy is Doomed.”

A response to Yglesias: “[U]nderneath the surface, many reasonable-sounding partisans in both camps may be dreaming of the next election being 1980 (for Republicans) or 1964 or 2008 (for Democrats); the singular event that will shape years of future gridlock by moving the goal posts a good twenty yards in one fell swoop” [Ed Kilgore]. Oh, 2008 moved the goal posts? OK.

The Hill

Ron Wyden is the most important person in the Democratic caucus on TPP [New York Times]. I wish they’d stop saying “trade.” TPP isn’t about trade.

Herd on the Street

“Apple to delay larger iPad production till September: report” [Reuters]. I would love to be able to read a book and sketch on a screen of decent size. So hurry up, Apple. (And while you’re at it, give me a interchangeable lenses.

“[ExxonMobil] also went into the downturn with stronger cash generation than most rivals” [FT, “Buoyant ExxonMobil bucks sector’s gloom”]. So they can do some capital investment through the downturn.

“The West Coast port chaos is just the latest event triggering shippers to both diversify transportation modes and ports” [Wall Street Journal, “Ports Gridlock Reshapes the Supply Chain”].

Delta plane slides off runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport [Reuters]. Slipped on the ice and snow!

VC Mark Cuban says the tech bubble has returned [Bloomberg].

Stats Watch

Mosler on yesterday’s numbers: “Still no sign of a surge in spending here, as apps remain below even last years winter depressed numbers” [Warren Mosler].

Stats Watch

Mosler on yesterday’s numbers: “Still no sign of a surge in spending here, as apps remain below even last years winter depressed numbers” [Warren Mosler].

Jobless claims, week of February 28, 2015: “[R]ose 7,000 to a much higher-than-expected level of 320,000” [Bloomberg]. “[D]oes not point to improvement for the labor market.”

Productivity and costs, fourth quarter 2014: “Nonfarm productivity growth for the fourth quarter declined an annualized 2.2 percent” [Bloomberg]. Productivity numbers are volatile, but “the latest numbers reflect a softening in output growth.”

Gallup US Payroll to Population, February 2015: “Workforce participation among U.S. adults rose slightly from 66.7 percent in January to 67.0 percent in February” [Bloomberg].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of March 1, 2015: Rebounded on stocks [Bloomberg]. “Moods worsened for those at the bottom of the wage scale.”

Factory orders, January 2015: “[F]actory orders fell for a 6th straight month in January” [Bloomberg]. “The factory sector has not been contributing to economic growth, the result of weakness in the oil patch and weakness in foreign demand.”


Chicagoans have kindly been sending me local links on Rahm.

15 reasons to vote for Chuy: “9. He’s not afraid of a snowstorm” [Buzzfeed]. “During last years brutal snowstorm, Emanuel was on vacation in Bali. Even Daley knew better.” Ouch!

Rahm’s new TV ad: He wears a humble sweater [Capitol Fax]. Who does he think he is? Jimmy Carter?

Rahm’s new TV ad: “I can rub people the wrong way, or talk when I should listen. I own that” [In These Times]. Well, corruption “rubs me the wrong way,” yeah.

Rahm’s new TV ad: “Will it work? Who knows. But that Emanuel is trying it speaks to just how worried he is” [WaPo].

“Rahm just gave us white folks the wink” [Fred Klonsky]. And the nudge, along with the word “Detroit.” Where the blah people are.

Rahm’s “black and brown site” was huge on the Intertubes, but oddly, or not, not on local Chicago media [Columbia Journalism Review].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

DOJ report on Ferguson: “There’s a jaw-dropping anecdote or statistic on practically every one of its 102 pages” [Vox]. This is a must-read.

“Editorial: The hammer of Justice falls on Ferguson” [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. If that’s the only city it falls on, we need a bigger hammer.

DOJ finds Ferguson targeted African-Americans, used courts mainly to increase revenue [St Louis Project]. There’s always a reason for racism.

“[T]he actions and attitudes exposed in this one Missouri town — over-militarized robo-cops treating citizens as a colonial Other, greedy pols milking the municipal code as a cash cow, and law enforcement spitting in the face of accountability — permeate policing in America from the Florida Keys to the Bering Strait” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer]. Excellent.

“[T]here are more than 700,000 outstanding warrants for municipal offenses in St. Louis. And when tickets become warrants for the poor, the problems pile up” [Riverfront Times].

“Why do we refuse to accept that this is a part of what it means to be us?” [Boston Globe]. Ferguson is in no way “exceptional.”

“Ferguson resonated with so many people because Ferguson really is everywhere. The economic assault via government schemes, police brutality and culpable leadership are dynamics that play out across the globe” [HuffPo].

“Ferguson officials erased tickets for friends and family, DOJ discovers” [St Louis]. Because we’re good. Not like the others.

A sympathetic. report on Ferguson activism — and what funding might mean when it arrives [Politico].

Class Warfare

“The Libertarian Delusion” [Bill Moyers].

It has been a long time since government effectively did its job of tempering the market in the interest of ordinary people. A further problem of this blurring between the public and the private is that it adds great complexity. That makes regulations and government programs harder to administer, and diffuses blame when citizens find themselves frustrated with the result. Ultimately, the government tends to take the fall more than the market.

“[T]hese “shadow unemployed,” according to the Fed, exert just as much downward pressure on wages as the regular unemployed. Put it all together, and wages haven’t recovered because the economy hasn’t fully recovered” [WaPo]. The Old Mole, of course, called the “shadow unemployed” “the reserve Army of labor.”

News of the Wired

  • Five horrible user interface innovations, starting with crapifying the URL bar [The Stack]. Yves and I depend on copying URLs from the URL bar. So when browsers (looking at you, Apple) start leaving off the “http” protocol prefix, it causes us problems and leads to errors. Not to mention the URL is a commons.
  • New fossils shows that humankind “may have evolved half a million years earlier than we thought” [WaPo].
  • “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case brought by beekeepers challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of a toxic pesticide known to be toxic to bees” [Beyond Pesticides].

* * *

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 fourth of Plants in Snow Week (MR):


This seems a propos!

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. Jim Haygood

    “A Clinton Presidency is the most likely of any, from the major candidates, to serve up significant and enduring juicy scandals.” [fixed]

    Maybe even bimbo eruptions. And I’m not talkin’ about Bill …

    1. ambrit

      Boy howdy! It might make sense for Hillary to tap Lindsey Graham with the ol magic wand to be Veep. That would be a truly stereotype busting ticket. (Real, real bi-partisan, natch.)

    1. Rosario

      Voted for her last time but she is just too damn rational to be a national leader. ;)

        1. cwaltz

          While I don’t agree with Johnson on everything at least he was consistent in terms of believing the government should be hands off on social issues as well unlike some of the Faux libertarians that think markets should be free but every aspect of personal life choice from conception to the right to end your life if you are terminally ill should be regulated.

          Would have voted for him over the legacy candidates had Stein not been on my ballot.

  2. Pat

    “[U]nderneath the surface, many reasonable-sounding partisans in both camps may be dreaming of the next election being 1980 (for Republicans) or 1964 or 2008 (for Democrats); the singular event that will shape years of future gridlock by moving the goal posts a good twenty yards in one fell swoop”

    I believe that should have been rewritten to say “or 1964; the singular even that will move the goal posts a good twenty years in one fell swoop. There was every reason for 2008 to be that for Democrats as well, the chance to push back a decade or two of bad policy in one Congressional session, unfortunately the Democratic Party had been captured by same people controlling Republicans in the years since 1964. So the country continued to go to hell in hand basket despite the so-called ‘grid lock’.”

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      The hoped for audacity of the Barrack Obama campaign of 2008 turned out to be the breathtaking scope of the bait and switch scam he pulled off on the American public. Even more tragic than the lost opportunity for reform is the fact that it has destroyed the hope of the millennial generation that positive change can be effected through democratic politics. It will be the “gift” that keeps on giving for election cycles to come.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      IMO, ‘Grid Lock’ is all that has saved the country from total disintegration. Both Dems and Repubs are now Neoliberal with the same goal — further rigging of the system for the 1%. However, they both hate each other and don’t want the other guy to succeed. But when they vote bipartisan, look out. As George Carlin said, “The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

      1. Pat

        Oh, the irony of the last few years when I have been down right thankful for the Tea Party crazies, whose hatred of Obama has saved this country from the Grand Bargain on at least three occasions that I can think of, not to mention the fact that it will probably mean that TPP and TiPP do not begin to get fast tracked.

        Yuppers, the opposition actually acting as the opposition coupled with the few relatively principled Democrats left have meant a whole lot of bi-partisan screwing of the 99% just didn’t happen.

  3. Nippersdad

    Re Emmanuel in Chicago: seems like this would be a good opportunity for Bernie to get a little free publicity/credibility were he to be openly supportive of Garcia in the Chicago Mayoral race. I wonder how he would feel about something like that.

  4. Llewelyn Moss

    US Fascist Police State – 2015 bodies are piling up.

    Pre-dawn SWAT team raid shot and killed an unarmed resident of the home Tuesday — over a few bags of weed.

    “They (deputies) were met with resistance and a shooting occurred,” Sheriff Johnson said without offering further detail. He said he could not elaborate because his office had not yet interviewed Deputy Raible.

    “The deputy, he’s all right, actually he is very shaken,” Johnson offered.


  5. New Deal democrat

    Lambert, two comments about that Fed study on unemployment and wages (btw, good catch):

    1. The Fed study is not about the alleged “shadow unemployed,” who supposedly aren’t counted in the stats (yes they are: see series NILFWJN), but is about the “long-term unemployed,” defined as those collecting unemployment insurance for 27 weeks or more. The study finds that this has an independent effect on wage growth.

    2. The time period most analogous to the last 5 years was the immediate aftermath of the 1981-82 recession. Unemployment didn’t get below 6% until late 1987. So of course the study begins in 1985, excluding the most important years! Ugh!

  6. kj1313

    No plane should be landing in LaGuardia in a driving snowstorm. The runways are shorter than most airports and if you overshoot it you end up in the water or on a highway.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Crikey! Jeb is a GOP blue blood. The only ones who can’t be prosecuted are dead.

  7. Eureka Springs

    Whew… A most damning set of Ferguson links today. I would be ashamed if we lived in a Democracy. That said… 700k muni warrants deserve one word – Amnesty!

  8. ex-PFC Chuck


    I wish they’d stop saying “trade.”

    How about “Sovereignty Surrender Partnership?”

    1. ambrit

      “Now is the winter of our discontent,”
      “Made glorious summer by the sons of Mother Courage,”
      “And all the debts that low’r’d upon our state,”
      “In the deep bosom of the wine dark sea buried.”

    2. Crazy Horse

      Nice Christmas photo of the foundation of a new trophy house for Jamie being built in Sedona Arizona. The gazebo was flown in for a summer party and will be demolished as construction commences.

  9. TulsaTime

    Libertarian Delusion – that there was ever any such magic thing as the market, it’s as bad as attribution of historical trends to the figment of a supreme being… in spite of constant evidence that people make markets and move then constantly… the best function of gubbmint has always been to diffuse the rapacity of the corporate over-class!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Truth is light; light is truth.

      Light is both a wave and a particle – and perhaps enlightenment is both libertarian and big government at the same paradoxical time?

      The best way to beat back corporations is to empower the people and leave the government to make and enforce rules and regulations. But the people have to be strong…meaning possessing enough fire power, which means money, that is, the people own newly created money.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, I have a set from Schneider for my iPad. I had in mind lens with a built-in bayonet mount, as in real cameras, not glue- or clip-on arrangements. But thanks for the link; it looks like the optics are good, too.

  10. charles 2

    “So when browsers (looking at you, Apple) start leaving off the “http” protocol prefix, it causes us problems and leads to errors. Not to mention the URL is a commons.”

    Not in Safari for OS X. When a site is http, it is true that there is an omission of the http prefix , but when it is “https” it appears and can be copied in the URL bar.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Still, they shouldn’t mess with it. You can just feel Apple trying to turn the URL into a little button or something; to hide it, so you have to work through their interface.

  11. Foy

    The police state just keeps raising the bar and outdoing itself…the new normal…

    This senior citizen and his wife driving their vintage car gets pulled over for a supposedly false registration (car registration was ok, it was just a very old vintage plate issued before the computer system come into being and required a different lookup technique by the cops, which of course they failed to do) and then at gun point on the side of the freeway multiple cops yell at him to strip off his clothes and lay on the ground before handcuffing him, jailing him and getting his car towed away. And his poor wife was on crutches…Also interesting was the fact he said he couldn’t understand their directions as they were all yelling directions at him at the same time, confusing him…and at the end the cops even started to believe what the couple was saying was true but went ahead withe the jailing anyway…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CksSslF5j8Y “Senior Citizen Held At Gunpoint, Forced to Remove Clothes in Public, Jailed, For Driving Classic Car”

    I would normally have said ‘unbelievable’, but not anymore…

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