2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Japan: “In the joint statement issued after the Tuesday summit, the [US and Japan said], “As the two largest economies in TPP, we are working to finalize the most high-standard trade agreement ever negotiated” [Japan Times]. tl;dr: No deal (yet). There is, however, a “joint vision” statement.

Abe to Congressional joint session, today: “Let us bring the TPP to successful conclusion through our joint leadership. The TPP goes beyond just economic benefit. It is also about our security. Long-term, its strategic value is ‘awesome'” [CNBC]. tl;dr: No deal (yet).

“On Tuesday, Mr Obama and Mr Abe emerged from an Oval Office meeting empty-handed, with unsettled differences between the United States and Japan over automobiles and agriculture” [Australian Financial Review]. And it’s not just rice, but wheat, pork, beef and dairy products (and constituencies). And personally, I want Maine’s small organic farms protected from globalization in all those areas — well, except rice, unless the Gulf of Maine gets an awful lot warmer — because when the trucks stop, we need to grow our own food.

“[Japan and the US] are not expected to reach a breakthrough on the outstanding issues in the bilateral trade talks this week” [Xinhua].

China on TPP: “We don’t think T.P.P. is a challenge to China — we will watch and study. We are more or less neutral because we have our own agenda, pushing forward Asean plus six and the Silk Road” said He Weiwen, a former Commerce Ministry official who is now the co-director of the China-United States-European Union Study Center in Beijing [New York Times].

Sanders: “I intend to do everything I can to defeat both fast track and the overall TPP agreement” [Guardian].

“[O]pponents of fast-track status are intimating that, after years of delicate negotiations among governments, Congress could amend a treaty, and other countries would just go along with it” [Boston Globe]. Given that we like to think that the United States is a functional democracy, and that “delicate” seems to be euphemism for “concealed from the public,” yes.

“[I]f TPP is approved, foreign corporations won’t have to get their national governments to intervene, for they will become governments” [Jim Hightower, Colorado Springs Independent].

When you’ve lost Vox… “Having America write the rules for trade in Asia sounds great until you realize that the people representing “America” aren’t necessarily focused on the interests of the American public at large” [Vox].


O’Malley cuts short trip to Ireland becaue of Baltimore riots [WaPo]. And his campaign, too, it’s hard not to think.

“Sanders is a politician whose power base is derived almost entirely from the people of the state of Vermont, where he is personally known to a surprisingly enormous percentage of voters” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. Not, that is, a creature of the Beltway. (But I haven’t seen an actual announcement yet. Just “to announce.”

The S.S. Clinton

Clinton takes Manhattan [Bloomberg]. Ka-ching.

Republican Clown Car

“I will disclose my records. I will disclose everything. And I tell you what: People will be very, very, impressed.” [WaPo].

Republican Principled Insurgents

“[T]he book in which Rubio reveals he almost gave up politics has netted him more than $1 million, allowing him to finally pay off more than $100,000 in college debt” [Miami Herald].

Can politics be “unbundled” from political parties? [The Week]. “Unbundling” is an interesting trope; more generic and more general than “strange bedfellows.”

Stats Watch

GDP for Q1, 2015: “Heavy weather and the strong dollar took their toll on first-quarter GDP which, at only plus 0.2 percent, came in at the very low end of the Econoday consensus. This compares with an already soft fourth quarter which is unrevised” [Bloomberg]. “[C]omplete lack of punch.” Doves happy. Wall Street Journal: Growth “nearly stalls out.” WaPo: “Lower than expected.” Barron’s: “Weaker than expected.”

MBA Mortgage Applications for week of April 24, 2015: “unable to add new ground” [Bloomberg].
Pending Home Sales index, March 2015: “A pick up in the existing home market is hopefully signaling improvement for the new home market which remains weak, underscored by steep declines in the last housing starts & permits report” [Bloomberg].

FRED’s leading index of the United States (handy chart) [Mosler Economics].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Impassioned” speech from Clinton on the criminal justice system, and race [New York Times].

Ticking off a litany of problems with the criminal justice system and the cycle of prison and poverty in black neighborhoods that “tears at your soul,” Mrs. Clinton said there is something “profoundly wrong” when “yet again brave police officers have been attacked in the line of duty” and when 1.5 million black men are “missing” from their communities because of incarceration and premature death.

She called for an end to “an era of mass incarceration” and a review of sentencing measures.

“We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance,” she said.

“The violence has to stop,” Mrs. Clinton said in addressing the protests in Baltimore. “But more broadly, let’s remember that everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone in every community is respected by the law.”

I’ll wait for the transcript to see how concretely recent police killings were addressed; and I’ll also wait for concrete policy proposals more sweeping than body cams for police. What does “an end to the era of mass incarceration” look like? (Stifling the “end mass incarceration as we know it” joke, here.) For example, if there’s to be “sentencing review,” then what about people unjustly imprisoned?

“Night of calm” in Baltimore due to curfew, says Governor [New York Times].

How drunk sports fans helped spark Saturday night’s post-protest violence [City Paper].

Baltimore police shootings are almost twice as high as the next contender on the leaderboard, Oakland [“Officer-Involved Shootings, San Francisco Police Department (PDF, chart on page 7].

Maryland cops blocked legislation for a civilian review process and state prosecutor review of all police killings just last month [The Intercept].

“I don’t think any mayor of any city of any size can rest assured that they’ll have no trouble this summer,” said Michael Flamm, a historian at Ohio Wesleyan University who is working on a book about urban riots [Governing].

“The East can expect a relatively cool summer while the West will continue to see above-average warmth, according to a temperature forecast for May through July released by The Weather Channel on Monday” [Weather.com].

“All across America, cities and towns are struggling to maintain enough revenue to provide crucial services to residents. The collateral damage of this revenue crisis—over-criminalization, utility shut-offs, the withdrawal of public services, and slashed budgets for schools—is dire” [The Nation]. And note that this revenue crisis has been a long time coming, and is (I would argue) the result of the failure of Obama’s stimulus package in 2009. Ben Polak and Peter Schott:

But there is something historically different about this recession and its aftermath: in the past, local government employment has been almost recession-proof. This time it’s not. Going back as long as the data have been collected (1955), with the one exception of the 1981 recession, local government employment continued to grow almost every month regardless of what the economy threw at it. But since the latest recession began, local government employment has fallen by 3 percent, and is still falling. … [W]hen hit by a huge recession like that of 1981 or the latest one, the usual mix of creative accounting and shifting in capital expenditures cannot absorb the shock, and jobs have to go.

If the states and more importantly the localities had been bailed out, along with the banks, we wouldn’t be in the pickle we’re in.


November trial state set for Sheldon Silver [AP]. Note the difference between URL and the story!

Cuomo to run for third term [Bloomberg]. I guess Sheldon didn’t sing!


“I have a garden — it’s dying” [New York Times]. California drought means class warfare, too. Surprise!

Lake Mead water at record low [Los Angeles Times].

“[A]bout 34 liters of water are used in the cutting, sewing and finishing process to make a pair of Levi’s signature 501 jeans, the company said.” [Wall Street Journal, “Why the California Drought Matters to the Fashion Industry”]. “It is the repeated washing to get the premium look. This is what people pay for.”

“The bottling plant that Starbucks uses for its Ethos customers in the western United States is located in Merced, California, which is currently ranked in the ‘exceptional drought’ category [Mother Jones].

News of the Wired

  • How arm and wrist tatoos may interfere with Apple Watch’s sensors [iMore].
  • Why people bring stuff into their home and then keep it forever [Boston Globe]. Crises of accumulation…

* * *

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 “Spring is here!” week one (Tom):

St Francis 005

St Francis in a redwood. Reminds me of holy trees in Thailand — though not so colorful!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the soil, seeds, Fedco Tree sale, and planting 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. Elliott


    Can politics be “unbundled” from political parties? [The Week]. “Unbundling” is an interesting trope; more generic and more general than “strange bedfellows.”

    Actual bundle board

    1. frosty zoom

      that would just speed up the privatization. the pinkerton class does like to keep the trains running on time..

      1. hunkerdown

        What do they care if the violence gets bad? Who controls the attribution controls the narrative. How many British subjects have been made examples Fallujah-style because of their empire? Some whiner can always play the victim and whine to St. Augustine to get a genocide posse together, and 100 generations of breeding for submissiveness and loyalty ensures the Order will have ample cannon fodder to put down any Resistance.

        1. cwaltz

          I tend to agree with DJG. There is a tipping point and if I were the elite I would worry about how well armed the common folk are.

          1. hunkerdown

            If you were an elite, wouldn’t you have a lot of advantages over an armed populace? Two that are salient here are physical distance from the riff-raff and institutions rooted in loyalty to such as yourself. In light of the latter and of Jay Gould’s infamous quote, what fraction of the armed part of the commoners (plus the regime’s footsoldiers) is loyal to your vision of society seems an important measure. At the moment, that measure seems to be well in the elites’ favor, what with Anonymous in prison and Keith Alexander selling classified secrets to bankers.

            1. cwaltz

              Having money definitely IS an advantage. However, I get the impression some of them seem to think it will make them invincible and that simply isn’t the case. Self preservation outranks loyalty and they’d be smart to remember that when it comes to those foot soldiers.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner


              There are no more Caesars, Kahns, Ottoman Sultans, the Pope doesn’t crown kings, Tsars, the British royals are tourist attractions (a far cry from Moore’s views on Henry VIII’s potential), the last Chinese Emperor was a factory worker, Soviet general secretaries, and whatever the hell my dad’s mother liked to claim ruled Poland.

              In the end, elites need followers, and followers need to be well treated or they leave when the going gets rough.

              1. JTMcPhee

                “Billionaires Scramble For Immortality (Literally)” — the ultimate Brass Ring. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-12/billionaires-scramble-immortality-literally . Search on “Billionaires seek immortality” if you need more proof this ain’t a sick joke. One approach being explored: transplanting Larry Ellison’s or that Leprechaun Sheldon Adelson’s, head onto some decathlete’s body. Can’t do graphics, but put this picture,http://specials-images.forbesimg.com/imageserve/0h2A4xP8Ph3MT/0x600.jpg?fit=scale&background=000000, together with this one, https://www.google.com/search?q=bruce+jenner+olympics+pictures&tbm=isch&imgil=kcEAU0urYCa7HM%253A%253BEtX5ScvDh8mmlM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.usmagazine.com%25252Fcelebrity-style%25252Fnews%25252Fbruce-jenner-turns-65-see-the-olympic-stars-best-vintage-pictures-20142810&source=iu&pf=m&fir=kcEAU0urYCa7HM%253A%252CEtX5ScvDh8mmlM%252C_&usg=__gdsralUaxkrm9X4bLnDAxwoApOA%3D&biw=1280&bih=900.

                And tag that with Forbes’ Giggle Line of the Day: “Responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power–” Josiah G. Holland.

          2. cyclist

            What’s that line from the Dead Kennedys’ Fuck Off Nazi Punks? “You think you’re cool when you trash our halls…trash a bank if you’ve got real balls…”

  2. Foppe

    Hedges, “Rise of the New Black Radicals:

    Jackson and Sharpton have been heckled by crowds in Ferguson and told to leave, along with crews from CNN. Tyler described CNN and other major news outlets, which steadfastly parrot back the official narrative, as “worse than politicians, worse than police.”

    “Jesse Jackson came, actually we were in the middle of a prayer for Michael Brown’s mother, and we were at the memorial site in Canfield Apartments, where he was killed and laid down in the street for four and a half hours,” Tyler said. “Everyone has their heads bowed and he comes over and starts shouting ‘No justice, no peace’ in the middle of a prayer. So instantly the community is pissed the fuck off—like who the hell is this? I finally recognized his face. I went over to him, because the guys were ready to fight him. Like, you don’t come over here and, this mother’s grieving, we’re all upset, and break up our prayer. And he’s all like ‘No justice, no peace!’ He has his bullhorn, and his sign and everything, just for a photo op. So I went over and I said to him, you probably should leave, because they’re really angry and they’re gonna get you out of here. And he was like ‘No justice, no peace!’ and he just kept chanting. So I moved out of the way, and the dudes told him, like ‘Hey bro, if you don’t back the fuck up we’re gonna make you leave.’ And he’s like, ‘This is what’s wrong with us!’ and ‘generational divide!’ and everything like that. And you know the community wasn’t taking for it, so he got scared, and him and the people he came with, like his best-dressed suit on and everything, and everybody was out there shirtless, or tank tops, or just in their normal clothes. And he came out there with a cameraman and everything, like this is just a frenzy or a freaking parade or something to film. So people were pissed off and he instantly left, and he hasn’t really been back since.”

    1. Jack

      Jackson and (former FBI mole) Sharpton are exactly what Malcolm X called ‘house negroes’.

      Only he didn’t originally say negro.

  3. buffalo cyclist

    The Boston Globe article further illustrates how useless the MSM is. It acknowledges that TPP is a treaty without noting that the Constitution specifically requires treaties to be approved by a 2/3 majority in the Senate, not a mere majority vote, which is what fast track allows.

    1. hunkerdown

      How are MIT grads going to get the enterprises, monopolies and sinecures to which their satisfactory conformance to the standards of their caste has entitled them, if there are no international investors to finance them? The people don’t just exploit and sacrifice themselves in the way most favorable to whoever’s in charge — they need *guidance*.

  4. buffalo cyclist

    Bernie’s Guardian article shows both why he should be the next president and why the corporate media has been actively trying to discredit him the past few months.

  5. mad as hell.

    How drunk sports fans helped spark Saturday night’s post-protest violence

    Now I understand why the Orioles are playing in an empty stadium. Imagine empty football stadiums?

    “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”

    President Merkin Muffley

    This is getting ugly!

  6. Pat

    I have no proof of it, but my personal belief is that Cuomo took Silver out and that everything the prosecutor has in this was handed over by one of Cuomo’s minions. Silver had been a thorn in Cuomo’s side and nothing will make me believe that Cuomo wasn’t targeting Silver (and Skelos) when he formed the Moreland Commission. You know the group that took themselves seriously and had the audacity to start probing the Governor so it had to be trashed.
    When the rumors started that Bharara had other top elected officials in the sights, I was the one going don’t hold your breath waiting for the Cuomo indictments. I wish I thought that Silver had something to trade concerning little Andy, but knowing something and having proof or even the ability to get you to proof of it are two different things. Nope, this is only go to take out the people standing the most in the way of Cuomo’s neoliberal plans.

      1. Pat

        Some, he supports some of Cuomo’s plans.

        Same with Silver. And both of them have been instrumental in making sure that Cuomo did not get everything he wanted in a situation that I’m sure Cuomo thought ought to have worked like Walker and Wisconsin’s legislature. You know in passing the entire wish list that was going to get Cuomo to the Presidency and untold riches with the full support of his monied backers who understand he is the guy who delivers . These were the guys Cuomo wasn’t supposed to have to outmaneuver. Like I said, there was a reason the Moreland Commission was formed, and it wasn’t done because Cuomo has such high ethical standards – he is a corrupt asshole.

  7. hunkerdown

    Being little more than a one-way stream of tainment and mercials (for some irrational, infinitesimal value of “info”), I think cable TV is an excellent analogy to the state of retail politics today. I’d prefer cord-cutting to unbundling, myself.

  8. Kim Kaufman

    “Impassioned” speech from Clinton on the criminal justice system, and race”

    Did she say, “Let’s use all that money going to the prison industrial system and put it into public education.”? If she’s not going to offer a solution…

      1. frosty zoom

        “hope and change”?

        that’s so passé. ms. clinton is running on “change and hope”!

  9. Blurtman

    “Impassioned” speech from Clinton on the criminal justice system, and why Wall Street needs to experience it.

  10. Garrett Pace

    De-cluttering is actually an argument for consumerism:

    “All your “someday” objects have an extra cost you may not be considering: When it comes to your home’s cleanliness and livability, it’s best to devote your resources to the current moment rather than to some future event that might never happen.”

    Translates to “throw away what you don’t need right now and buy another one as soon as you do.”

    And live in the moment, yay progress.

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