2:00PM Water Cooler 4/15/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Representative Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, will oppose fast-track [The Nation]. Hillary?

House minority leader Steny Hoyer: “My sense is there is still a lot of consternation about the trade bills among the American people, and here on both sides of the aisle” [The Hill]. “[C]onsternation” is a strong word in D.C.

“Worse, Warren says, ISDS sets up a quasi-judicial system staffed entirely—this is not satire—by corporate lawyers” [Slate]. A good summary of the state of play.

“Anti-TPP forces have far less money and cohesion. But you can get a flavor of their concerns for American jobs and living standards from this post at Public Citizen and articles here and here from the essential site, Naked Capitalism” [Seattle Times]. There’s a columnist with good taste!

“Tetsuro Shimizu, general manager at Norinchukin Research Institute in Tokyo, said if the 12 Asia-Pacific countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership succeed, Japan would buy more rice from the US and reduce imports from non-TPP members Thailand and China” as an alternative to reducing protection for rice [Bangkok Post].


The S.S. Clinton

“According to two popular online measuring tools, no more than 44 per cent of [Clinton’s] Twitter fan base consists of real people who are active in using the social media platform” [Daily Mail]. Ouch. DIfferent tools get different results, but the total is higher than Obama, Michelle Obama, and that loveable scamp, Joe Biden.

Clinton doing the small crowd thing in Iowa; high school gymnasiums [Time]. Which makes sense, since (as I keep saying) that worked for her in 2008, after the February caucus debacle. (I though bring on all the Obot tech dudes meant she wouldn’t go this route, but I was wrong. We’ll see what happens in the larger states, though.)

Clinton: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if it takes a constitutional amendment” [WaPo]. An appeal to the “Move to Amend” crowd.

Create your own slogan using the “H” typeface (!) [WaPo]. And they are! They are!

Republican Establishment

Jebbie to speak at Liberty University commencement [CNN].

Republican Principled Insurgents

Rush Limbaugh is Marco Rubio’s number one fan [WaPo]. Say no more! Say no more!

Rubio, unlike Obama, not a backbencher. Elected to the Florida House in 2000, he quickly became the House majority leader. in 2003, he fought for and won the House speakership [NBC]. Dueling bios! Of course, Obama’s got the expat thing going for him, though I suppose people in the Miami emigré community have their own stories to tell.

Rubio still struggles to reconcile his expressed views on immigration with those of the Republican base [Los Angeles Times]. I’d think the bio could trump this, if he was willing the confront the base head on.

Rand Paul’s life in (unauthorized) comic book form [Bloomberg]. I’d almost forgotten the “Aqua Buddha” story.

Scott Walker would like to see “significant reforms” to entitlements social insurance programs [Talking Points Memo]. See on Christie below.

Republican Clown Car

Christie seeks to distinguish himself from the pack — and win points in the invisible primary — by putting Social Security in play [Reuters]. Just like Obama in Iowa 2008. Because you’ve got to show you can make the tough decisions, and there’s no decision tougher than squeezing $1K out of some eighty-year-old lady’s $12K pension.

Donald Trump schedules Sioux City speech [KTIV]. Can Trump possibly be serious?

Ohio governor Kasich considers running [CNN]. Seems weird. Wonder how Walker’s criminal case is going.

“Code Red” project on election integrity [Op-Ed News]. The U.S. ranks 46th in the world.

The Hill

Ron Paul: “The elites are terrified that peace may finally break out, which will be bad for their profits. That is why they are trying to scuttle the Iran deal, nix the Cuba thaw, and drum up a new “Red Scare” coming from Moscow” [CNBC]. Give credit, Libertarian Dad has got this exactly right. Too bad Libertarian Son is moving toward the “center.”

Explainer on the Iran bill [Vox]. Says Yglesias, the key player in any final agreement is Steny Hoyer. Oh good.

Stats Watch

MBA mortage applications, week of April 10, 2015: “[A]fter three straight weeks of impressive gains, the purchase index slipped back,” though year-on-year growth is solid [Bloomberg].

Housing market index, April 2015: “Housing data are increasingly and convincingly pointing to spring strength,” on expectations reflecting “strong optimism” among builders [Bloomberg]. “The manufacturing sector, which is struggling, is being hurt by global demand, a source less important to housing which is getting its boost from low mortgage rates and strength in the labor market.”

Industrial production, March 2015: Industrial production for March fell 0.6 percent after a February rise of 0.1 percent. The March drop was largely due to utilities although manufacturing was soft” [Bloomberg]. Worse than expectations. “The manufacturing sector remains soft and the latest numbers will likely keep the Fed in a delayed mode for policy changes.”

Mosler on the day: “Turned south again” [Mosler Economics]. And on yesterday: “Another string of lower than expected releases” [Mosler Economics]. “No bounce yet.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“These forms of neoliberal policing — in which private citizens and private monies impact the culture of policing but escape governmental checks and balances — endanger us all” [Salon].

Eric Harris shooting: How can a cop mistake his gun for his taser? [Bloomberg]. Yes, seems incredible!

Some protesters arrested in New York march against police violence [Reuters].

Lead poisoning at police firing ranges [Seattle Times].

Class Warfare

UK defines “the public interest” broadly for whistleblowers [Thompson Trade Union Law (CL)].

“Fight for $15” minimum wage rallies in New York [Gothamist]. Hillary? Marco?

A coalition of labor and social justice groups plan to kick off a DC ballot-measure campaign Wednesday for a $15 minimum wage [WaPo]. Since the Beltway is one of the richest cities in the country, this should be a no-brainer, right?

News of the Wired

  • Protester showers “startled” Mario Draghi with confetti [CNN]. “End ECB dictatorship!” Well, she’s got a point (but check the actual spelling on Femen protester Josephine Witt’s T-Shirt [Telegraph]).
  • Drum vs. Cowen on “three laws” [Mother Jones]. I wonder if Cowen’s third law is so forcefully stated as a result of the seemingly unmotivated disquiet I’ve been noticing in financial coverage, lately.
  • “You don’t have to always buy the latest and greatest gadget. [This] principle doesn’t have a name” [Wall Street Journal, “In Defense of Good-Enough Gadgets”]. Sanity?
  • Apple Watch salesperson: “This retails for $1,000. But to be honest, I think it looks cheap” [CNET]. Right, right, get the diamond-encrusted model!
  • Common core math made easy [Vox]. I don’t envy the teaching profession its task of re-literacy-izing a population on “math skills.”
  • “Google displays different results on mobile searches that are unique, personalized and relevant to the searcher. As mentioned above, it also takes into account your website’s mobile-friendliness” [SearchEngineLand].
  • Iowa State anthropologist finds female chimps more likely to use tools when hunting [Phys.org].
  • “No, totally” [The New Yorker (LaRuse)]. Way!

* * *

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 third of “I Wish It Were Spring!” week five (joe6pac):


“T’m just getting started with 4 yards of compost, 150lbs of chicken manure, and gypsums.” I’ve gotta say, Maine in mud season looks a lot uglier.

Do others have more 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!

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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. Lee

    Japan’s relying upon U.S. rice might be a bad bet, given the drought affecting California and Texas, two of our top rice growing states. In California some rice growers are already finding it more profitable to sell their water rights than to grow rice.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are many part-time, amateur (or professional) farmers living in apartments and single family houses, with their home grown herbs, vegetables and fruits.

      Why is the governor not protecting or helping these people get big-agriculture-rate water?

      1. Lee

        We are neither organized nor rich?
        My son and I just converted to vegetables some of what used to be lawn; today my heart is singing.

  2. Scotland

    Hi LS, Iowans take great pride in their towns and counties. Conversing with those having any kind of roots there will as a matter of course include such mention and any particular trivia of note with full hearted belief that the listener will be impressed. I spent a sporadic but good measure of my early life in Monticello IA. My mom’s family migrated there from French Canada via Messina NY before 1856 ( IA statehood) and busted prairie, established communities, and added to the population to no small degree. Ask and you’ll hear that’s Jones Co. home of the “Great Jones County Fair the largest and I’d say most notable ongoing affair of pride among Iowans. It’s as dammed Apple or any pie you like as American as you might imagine. Back in the day it just wasn’t possible to not know something about everyone in the town if you lived there. I’d say even today, Hillary no doubt got a boost that won’t be swept from the streets till August and the fair opens. Who doesn’t love harness racing, the midway, and looking up at night from the grandstand wondering if that’s a Russian or American satellite passing overhead. Maybe it’s Hillary’s Comet… :) Peace Love your stuff. Scotland

      1. Scotland

        Well, Your boost of rep, won’t be swept from the Northern Boston Mtns. of AR anytime soon. Monti is the preferred contraction in IA speak. My Grandfather was one of the town MDs. beginning in 1933 and practicing for over 50 years. I haven’t been back since ’94 when the Dr. and Gran sold out and chose AZ for the horizon limit.

  3. Ulysses

    Kevin Gosztola is rightly dismayed– by the rush to the coronation by people professing “democratic” ideals:

    “The weekend announcement from Clinton means people like Conason or Goldberg will increasingly patronize, scold and/or casually dismiss those who examine Clinton’s record of support for military interventions, Wall Street, fracking, anti-welfare legislation, bailouts, escalation in Afghanistan, free trade agreements, attacks on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, etc. They will immediately worry that such criticism will not help Clinton win against a Republican and urge progressives to soften their opposition when questioning her.

    Left-leaning personalities like to use the language of a hostage negotiation against progressives considering support for an alternative to the Republican or Democratic Party nominees. Vote for the Democrat or else there will be another war of aggression. There will be more right wing dismantling of the social safety net in America.

    Unable to come up with positive characteristics that can stand up to scrutiny, they push fear to whip people into supporting corporate, hawkish Democratic presidential candidates and accepting that the election should be foreclosed to any other candidates on television and in the media, on ballots and in the debates.”


    I regret to report that I’ve already seen supposedly intelligent people making the “argument” that “we” have to support Pinochillary, or else “hand over the country to Chris Christie.” How can a supposed democracy– with literally millions of people eligible to run for President– self-limit itself to choosing between two horrible alternatives?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      How about the Supreme Court argument? Would you really want Hillary Clinton making those decisions?

    2. Dandelion

      Against that , I use the “consent” argument: that voting equals consent, and I don’t consent to the candidate’s policy positions — then ask if I should feel forced to consent, because there’s a word for that.

  4. ProNewerDeal

    tACApocalypse Season is over. Would love to read more editorials or links on this topic here on NC, now that presumably some hard data will be reported.

    How many ppl paid the Individual Mandate Penalty, despite 0bama & 0bot Lawrence O’Donnell claim that “the individual mandate is optional”? IIRC there was an link here in recent days claiming an estimate 4-6 Million Muricans would be paying the Individual Mandate Tax, that does not sound “Optional”!

    How many people on ACA coupon private oligopolistic health insurance, could not Nostradamus in Dec 2013 their calendar 2014 income, were fortunate to outearn what the predicted, and now owe an IRS multiple $Ks in back taxes to the IRS, and be under the IRS’ thumb with penalties, wage garnishments, etc.

    How many people had an exception to the Individual Mandate, such as the health insurance cost exceeds 8% income, or “religous exception”, or being under 138% FPL (Federal Poverty Level) whilst being in a non ACA Adult Medicaid state, etc; yet got hosed into paying the Individual Mandate Tax, because of the requirement of getting the required Waiver/Form from the IRS, & the IRS Call Center being recently understaffed & mass-layoff’d by Congress despite this new source of ACA-related demand, & the IRS claiming they will do “Courtesy Hangups” on these screwed-over taxpayers? What a textbook example of neoliberal right-wingers ReThugz + DLC Dems, intentionally making a Govt service an atrociously crappy experience, then crying “See, BigGov sux!” Dumbing down the level of IRS Customer Service to say a mobile phone company Customer No-Service?!

    I would not be surprised if there ends up being a cohort of say 3% who were suffered such ACA tax abuse/headaches, & this cohort could swing a close 2016 Pres election from Hellary the DINO Republican to Jeb!/Walker The Re-pub-Lie-Con Classic TM. You read it hear first!

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