2:00PM Water Cooler 4/14/15

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/14/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I’m afraid this will be a bit light; I had creatures under the house this morning. The insulation people, returning to finish the basement now that it’s spring!


The Trade Representative’s office uses classification to invoke the national security exemption to open government law for TPP for trade documents [New York Times].

“A Japan-U.S. summit planned for late April should not be seen as a deadline for reaching a bilateral deal seen as vital to concluding [TPP,] economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari said Tuesday” [Japan Times]. Japanese for “Hell, no”?

“Selling the TPP by screaming ‘geopolitics’ comes with serious risks. Unless the US is careful, China may come to see the deal as an attempt at economic containment” [Financial Times, “China will react with displeasure if America tries to weaponise trade”]. Hence, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank? [Vancouver Sun]. “Asia-Pacific: Groundbreaking Trans-Pacific Partnership talks stall.”


The S.S. Clinton

Road trip: Clinton spotted ordering chipotle in Ohio [@ABCLiz]. Security cam. Nobody recognized her, which is cool.

Road trip: Inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt? [Yahoo News]. Interesting, if true, but the authors give no sourcing. We’ll know when Clinton breaks out the mink stole, I guess.

Video: No soldiers, no cultural conservatism, no judgmental Methodism signal a liberal Clinton campaign [Peter Beinart, The Atlantic]. No. Policy is all. Show me.

Video: “Adding insult to vacuousness was the demographic box-checking nature of the video, however beautifully filmed” [Ruth Marcus, WaPo]. Not quite. It really is an act of justice to show two gay people about to get married in a campaign launch video, and even (for a national politician) courageous. It’s not nearly enough, of course.

Zephyr Teachout: “There is a hunger for open repudiation of the financial deregulation of the first Clinton era” [Guardian]. Others on the Democratic “left”, like Deblasio, also withhold endorsements on “Where’s the beef?” grounds.

Mrs. Clinton’s most loyal supporters are being asked to join a fundraising team called “Hillstarters.” Goal: $1 billion [Wall Street Journal]. Even today, that’s a lot of money!

The good points of the new Hillary logo [Wired].

Writer outraged by off-the-record meetings before launch [Firedoglake]. Maybe I’m jaded, but I think there are other things to be more outraged about.

Preparing for the wave of misogyny [hecatedemeter]. To be clear, pushing back against misogyny is not the same as being for a candidate. There are plenty of reasons to take issue with Hillary on policy. And policy is the prize, so eyes on it.

Street art critical of Clinton appears in Brooklyn [Animal New York].

Rebublican Establishment

Contractors hired by Texas Department of Public Safety spying on Mexico with drones over the border, documents say [Houston Chronicle]. So Bob Corker isn’t the only Republican with his own foreign policy?

Jebbie steered $150 million in Florida pension money to his brother, Walker, at Goldman Sachs [David Sirota, International Business Times].That’s just what dynastic sons do for each other. It’s rather touching, actually. I bet they all wear salmon pants! “Under Jeb Bush, almost 20 percent of all Florida pension investment deals went to Pioneer [fundraiser]s’ firms” [International Business Times]. Sweet!

Republican Principled Insurgents

“Rubio has chosen to claim the mantle of reform and surrender to the right simultaneously” [TNR]. Reading Rubio’s announcement, this is exactly right.

Shorter: Marco Rubio is the greatest orator of our time [WaPo]. Wait, what?

The Hill

Al Gore joins Tea Party in fight against utilities who are trying to kill solar power [Bloomberg]. A lot of strange bedfellows opportunities like this; the “Don’t Tread on Me” crowd is very sound on food issues, in general. Civil liberties, too.

Top Republicans and Democrats say Iran compromise reached [CNN].

Stats Watch

Retail sales, March 2015: Weather effects may be fading with healthy sales numbers in March [Bloomberg].

Redbook, week of April 11: Easter distortion, but early hint of strength for the May [Bloomberg].

NFIB Small business optimism, March 2015: “Fell sharply” on expectations [Bloomberg]. “[S]izable declines including expansion plans and earnings trends.”

Business inventories, March 2015: business inventory growth did not exceed sales growth in February [Bloomberg]. “There has been one noticeable weak point and that’s a further decline in sales at wholesalers.”

Police State

United Arab Emirates funding NYPD intel operations [FIrst Look]. Bloomberg personally, the Israelis… How does Bratton keep track?!!


“Even with California deep in drought, the federal agency hasn’t assessed the impacts of the bottled water business on springs and streams in two watersheds that sustain sensitive habitats in the national forest” [Desert Sun].

“The Iron Throne in California: Water” [Medium].

Groundwater problems and prospects, part 5: Groundwater management practices for local sustainability [Maven’s Notebook]. This is a terrific blog on California water.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Given the odds against prosecution, officer Michael T. Slager probably counts himself the unluckiest white man in South Carolina” [Black Agenda Report]. Obama declares Venezuela a national security threat based on 14 deaths in 2014, while cops racked up a body count of 111, the majority of them unarmed Black and brown men, in March alone.

Municipalities in the entire St Louis area use law enforcement to generate revenue, and “Municipal judges are often evaluated by city leaders according to how much revenue they bring in” [HuffPo]. A $50 fine for “saggy pants” escalates to $125 and a warrant. No profiling there, no sirree.

“A Bakersfield police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave after he allegedly tickled the feet of a man shot dead by police and said, ‘tickle, tickle'” [Los Angeles Times].

Not only did Robert Bates, accused of shooting Eric Harris (unarmed, black), donate equipment to the Tulsa Sheriff’s office, he was the Sheriff’s insurance agent (!) [Tulsa World].


Feds indict Sheldon Silver’s son-in-law in $7 million Ponzi scheme [The Albany Project]. Sing, Sheldon! Sing!

Class Warfare

“Researchers from the University of Chicago and Stanford’s business schools have found that up to one-fifth of the labor force’s productivity growth between 1960 and 2008 came from simply making it easier for women and minorities to get better jobs” [Vox]. Not, of course, that the productivity benefits were actually shared.

News of the Wired

  • How and why to disprupt authority [Bangor Daily News].
  • How to make a working Apple II watch [Boing Boing].
  • “In 2014, comedy was stolen from the professional jokesters by their traditional targets and became, unexpectedly, the new language of power, policy, and politics” [The Baffler].

* * *

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 “I Wish It Were Spring!” week five (Kurt Sperry):


Spring growth on larch.

Does anybody have any gardening photos yet? Too early?

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

Talk amongst yourselves!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Mel

    ““Don’t Tread on Me” crowd is very sound on food issues, in general. Civil liberties, too.”

    Yeah. If you can unhook the Tea Party from the Kochs …

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      In Maine, that’s how it is. Not sure why. Probably because Maine is so marginal, economically and geographically, that the Kochs have little interest.

      1. Ulysses

        Some parts of upstate NY are also like that. I met a young couple from the Southern Tier–during the height of Occupy– who were virulent in their denunciation of both Rethugs and D.’s, but were clearly embracing Occupy from a position far to the right of most of the city kids who were hanging out in Zuccotti. They were the rare sort of “don’t tread on me” NRA dues -payers: who hated J.P. Morgan, Monsanto, and the Kochs as much as the Beltway politicos.

  2. Anon

    Re: The Baffler

    An incredibly amazing piece, Lambert. A bit of a long read, but totally worth it.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I think it’s a defense mechanism, if we make everything snarky and cynical we can pretend to ourselves that it’s OK, it’s the wholesale decline in our very way of life and the future of our kids but look! I’m all laughy and superior about it, yeah, I’m owning it, I’m in control still
      I’m sure there was a similar response in the gulags or in pre-1789 France

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think success breeds imitators, and Carson left behind a slew of late night hosts. Of course, he followed Parr and Allen and a host of radio shows. More importantly, mocking the news and repeating the same self referential joke seems easy. Not all satire is equal after all. In many ways, Stewart’s best stuff isn’t his comedy but his take down of CNN and his interviews which are way better than anything from the MSM in the U.S. I would say Colbert was a better show, but the interviews were far more satirical than The Daily Show. Colbert didn’t have public Colbert Show alums keeping the Colbert Show on other programs.

        As for the CIA and other outfits, MBA types have heard of this “social media” thing and know they need to be a part of it. Then they hire “social media consultants” who are just people who needed a talent or skill for their resume. Occasionally, they have to appease a boss who wants to see “likes” on fb. If anything, these are easy budget cuts.

        1. vidimi

          i always thought that his interviews were always the weakest part of stewart’s show. he comes across as too deferential, sycophantic even, in them. like when he had condoleeza rice on. most of his interviews with politicians are cringeworthy.

  3. Massinissa

    “Marco Rubio is the greatest orator of our time”

    Pretty sure they said that about Obama a few years ago. Look where that went.

    1. hunkerdown

      Maybe we overestimate the utility of oratory — or maybe it simply isn’t of use to us on the business end of it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Oratory was confused with spectacle. I never thought much of Obama, and I actually watched the convention that night in ’04 because my favorite aunt (don’t tell her twin) was near the front with the Taxachussetts delegation. If you were an Obama skeptic, it’s likely you listened to him, but if you believed in the great Orator Obama, what speech made you think or spoke to you? I’ve found Obama supporters have a difficult time with this question because Obama’s real talent is the pleasant tone of his voice and his ability to make one feel good. The orators who survived time challenged people. Now that people want results, there is no substance to Obama’s speeches because it’s fluff and nothing more.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner


        This is an example of why rhetoric from the powerful is meaningless. This letter is polite, but it’s just a resignation letter with little if any embellishment. Obama hoping to end pray the guy away camps which are universally reviled by his electorate and society at large including Leopold Stoch is not the same as this bland letter.

  4. jgordon

    Glad to know that I wasn’t the only one put off by the lack of anything resembling information about the candidate. Also, the lies about wanting to help the “middle class” (whatever that means) towards the end were way too annoying for my taste. I feel that I wasted a couple minutes of my life watching that. The Asian girl in the Clinton video was super hot (all 2 seconds of her), but unfortunately that was the lone bright spot in an otherwise cringe-worthy production, and I’d vote for Clinton only if she filled all her adds with cute Asian women. A 2 second token appearance isn’t going to cut it for my vote.

    1. craazyboy

      It’s just the kickoff vid. Next, “Hillary Helps Asian Women Find American Middle Class Husbands.”‘

      1. hunkerdown

        Maybe Natalie Jaresko can pack some home in her suitcase when she comes back for her next briefing.

      2. Clive

        I might have imagined it but I’m sure I’ve just seen in one of the Google Ad Choices placeholders something for “How I became President of the United States of America using this weird old tip”.

    2. jrs

      I liked the video. Can I borrow some hope? And then you remember it’s advertising. It can be pleasing aesthetically or otherwise, but it’s meant to place a product by means of things that have nothing to do with the product. It’s meant to sell Coca Cola, I mean a Ford, I mean a Bud, I mean Maybelline, I mean Hillary Clinton.

      And that’s why people have argued advertising should be outlawed for what it does to people’s ability to make sense of the world including politically.

      1. jrs

        and this pretty much describes that commercial:

        “They sell us the president the same way
        They sell us our clothes and our cars
        They sell us every thing from youth to religion
        The same time they sell us our wars”

      2. ambrit

        My favourite remark about advertising comes from H. G. Wells:
        “Advertising is legalized lying.”

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    The Gore and the Teabagger story reminds me of I think Chomsky’s description of the two parties. Republicans will support small businesses especially under the guise of deregulation. The large energy companies control state regulation processes and regulate alternative energy out of the market. Republicans will jump at the chance to support my right to buy solar. It’s their natural instinct.

  6. neo-realist

    Re the Baffer and the increased number of comedians and people who purport to be comics, e.g., Rogan and Franco, there appears to be nobody on the scene that I can see that takes on the empire’s sacred cows the way Bill Hicks did—religion (maybe Maher), and the political assassinations.

    1. hunkerdown

      Anti-Islamism is one of the empire’s sacred cows, and Maher’s all in on that one, so maybe not.

      Trouble is, “the scene”, by which I mean the mainstream, is owned by, financed by, and operated for the benefit of Zir Majesty Wall Street. Why would the throne allow the pied pipers to foment a revolution against the throne’s interests? The disembodied-head fantasists in the cweative cwass need to answer that one before they — well, before they are allowed to preach their nonsense again. (Allowed by social authority, not law.)

      1. ambrit

        Steve Allen used to go out on the street outside the studio where they taped his later Los Angeles show and interact with people passing by. Later “comics” adopted the idea. I always keep an ear cocked to pick up the jokes told by people on the street and at work. There’s where your ‘real’ society is going. What strikes me as ominous, but perhaps it has always been so, is how mean spirited ‘street humour’ has become. Displacement and compensation are big time processes today.

  7. Amos

    The street art in Brooklyn is NOT critical of Clinton, it’s critical of the language used to describe her — the issue of coded sexism.

  8. optimader

    The good points of the new Hillary logo [Wired].
    Hillary is DOA unless she can attract voters that aren’t already captured.
    A not too subliminal keep right? Logo as a blunt instrument.

    1. neo-realist

      Hillary needs to talk to so-called Middle Americans-small towns, rural areas-A little John Edwards populism (I know it may be a stretch for her) much more not to mention young folks–it’s debatable as to whether they are captures right now; She needs to find a way to tap into their Zeitgeist, e.g., Obama. She can forget about the election if she postures herself as the candidate of NOW and the blue beltway.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Talk about what? The policies Hillary has championed in the past destroyed those towns and communities. Young people aren’t captured. They won’t vote, and fantasies about Obama’s lofty rhetoric means rhetoric and vague promises won’t work. They didn’t vote in 2010 or 2014 despite voting in 2006, and the numbers in 2012 were soft.

        Edwards’ point about Two Americas wasn’t directed at Dunya but bipartisan support for rampant destruction. Hillary has staffed up on a who’s who of villains list.

          1. optimader

            After decades on the BLD (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner) Circuit, it’s a reasonable wager to short her physiological stamina to survive a POTUS campaign.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I wouldn’t be surprised if she bows out. I thought the whole point of the 2008 coronation was to avoid the rigors of a campaign. At this point, she doesn’t have an opponent, but if she wants to win Congress (I’m of the opinion the House is winnable. California makes up over 1/3 of the seats we would need to win) she needs to sign up people willing to register voters and canvass areas most Democrats with signs in their yards won’t go.

              Elections are hard and monotonous. Candidates age horribly. I don’t think it was a problem in 08 because of the crowds for Obama and Hillary’s coronation, but she’s 67. She’s isn’t a kid anymore. Yeah, Reagan was that old, but he was also a terrible President and more or less a prop. I thought people asked relatively tough questions in New Hampshire events. Already Hillary supporters are asking where are her ideas because it was a major criticism last time and it’s been a criticism all along of a person with an active machine. “Ready for Hillary.” She could have dropped position papers and done a weekly blitz. Hillary would have to avoid foreign policy because she is lunatic. To the average voter, mildly progressive but concrete stuff sounds great. Example: the 25 year staying on their parents insurance. As to why they lack jobs that can buy insurance, let’s ignore that.

              Warren’s star only exists because she talks about policy and reasonably good ideas for 1988. Bernie Sanders looks like a crazy old man I expect to see complaining about the parking at Denny’s. Ideas are what he has.

              Hillary could crush all doubt if she had come out swinging, and Obama wouldn’t have had any room if she had rolled out her policies in 2007 because everyone knew she was running for President since the national news was making jokes about Hillary celebrating Kerry’s loss.

              She still doesn’t know what she wants to accomplish, and as Obozo has demonstrated, a directionless ship is a sinking ship.

              Of course, anything I’m suggesting she should say does go against her husband’s administration and her own record which will open her up to attack from the GOP, but they will do that anyway.

              1. Optimader

                I think accurate analysis. HRC is cipher, i think if she ever had potential for creative solutions, that capacity was probably extinguished in law school. She is a case study for believing her own press releases.

  9. jrs

    What direction is Hillary’s arrow pointing in anyway? Seems right to me. (although I tend to confuse right and left, in the geographical sense). I don’t think it’s “much ado about nothing” the direction in which the arrow points, the direction of the country under Hillary.

    You see you can state things in plain English and people will not hear. You can say stuff like “most transparent administration ever” and it will go right past people, what you just said in plain English (that you are “transparent”, that is to say obviously dishonest). Your arrow can point right and the progressives won’t see that your clearly noting you will move the country to the right.

    1. nippersdad

      I didn’t catch which way the arrow was pointing; too preoccupied with its’ Republican red color-moving-forward subliminal message. Yours and optimader’s point is an interesting insight. I started noticing the colors during the late Bush Admin., when obvious Republicans were using blue signs to distance themselves from the, er, messy bed they had made for themselves at the time. They no longer appear to know what color they want to be.

      Looks like a twofer.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Red signs and lettering are hard to read. The official red/blue dynamic started with the Florida recount hoopla which lasted a month instead of one day. The media use to alternate the colors. The red signs were just a passing fad as more people realized they can’t be distinguished from the gutter guy’s sign.

        1. nippersdad

          Maybe elsewhere, but red has been the R color of choice here in the South seemingly forever. Many, if not most, people here would vote for the gutter guy based upon the color of his sign alone given the chance.

          Hell, they can’t read anyway (that’s why they have FOX), maybe illegibility is a plus. :)

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            2000. It seems like a long time, but search for 90’s era campaigns. Dole/Kemp is bluer than Clinton/Gore. Ollie North had no red in his sign in ’94. Blue and green are easier to read, and outside of presidential elections, the signs are useful reminders of the election date. Challengers don’t want red signs because they are hard to read, so Teabaggers have adopted blue and green signs despite red blooded/meat/state connections.

            Reagan/Bush ’84 is on a field of Blue. The Dixiecrats had white signs. :) Kennedy’s name was on the red on the red, white, and blue signs from 1960.

    2. Ivy

      Volvo’s logo is a lot like Hill’s, so they should ask for some royalties, or maybe a campaign vehicle deal. That would resonate with the Blue State safe drivers ;)

  10. petal

    Re: Eleanor Roosevelt road trip-is Hillary doing the actual car driving? I know it’s been a while for her…ugh.

  11. gonzomarx

    Green election manifesto 2015 – the key points

    Conservatives election manifesto 2015 – the key points

    Your favourite secret corners of the British countryside

  12. Kyle

    “China will react with displeasure if America tries to weaponise trade”

    Can you imagine?! We have a communist country to thank for protecting us from our own government.

  13. Jackie

    I’m so sick of Bill de Blasio being thought of as liberal. Under his watch the NYPD has grown more powerful (and Bratton really is an awful dictatorial person), while he has given plum positions to former Goldman people to run affordable housing programs, and let deteriorate public housing, and the list goes on. Just like Obama, he not only is not a liberal, he’s worse because he’s led people to believe that liberalism is a failure and government intervention is “bad”. Not to mention he actively campaigned for Cuomo and has let even the good parts of Bloomberg’s reign (commitment to livable streets and public transit) go to hell, with his car-driving, outer borough ways. Very sad times here in NYC where the rich are richer than ever.

  14. Oregoncharles

    ” cops racked up a body count of 111, the majority of them unarmed Black and brown men,”

    I think the heavy emphasis on race, while understandable, is a strategic error. Race is certainly a big factor, especially in determining WHO is killed or assaulted – not only because of personal racism, but also because they’re seen as powerless and consequently easy prey.

    But we have an even bigger problem: police impunity, the “license to kill”. That’s a threat to the basic fabric of our system. The truth is they can and do kill whites, too, especially if they’re seen as powerless – or unpopular. To address this, we need to convince ordinary Americans – still predominantly white – that they, too, are threatened. If we constantly emphasize race, then most people will feel “it’s those other people, over there.” To its credit, the Black Lives Matter movement has included a lot of palefaces, indicating an encouraging level of solidarity.

    Nonetheless, I really want to know how many of those monthly victims were white. One solution is to list them out: X blacks, X browns, X whites (probably in that order) – plus unknowns, I guess. Let’s not let whites feel they’re perfectly safe here. They aren’t.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      There is also the element of law enforcement as a profit center. That’s huge. I too would like a breakdown of the numbers. It would be interesting to throw tasers into the mix as well. I know I linked to a site devoted to tracking police killings (too lazy to find it right now), but I forget whether race is listed….

Comments are closed.