2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Abe to Congress: “[TPP] is for the sake of our children and our children’s children” (applause) [Sydney Morning Herald]. BWA-HA-HA-HA!!! The White House must have fed him that line; Rahm uses it all the time.

Clinton opposed ISDS in Hard Choices [HuffPo].

Guerilla pollster doublechecks Pew Research survey on TPP support [Corrente].


Sanders lettter to supporters this morning [@ZekeJMiller]:

Sanders website this morning [@danmericaCNN]:

Interesting slogan.

Sanders: “I am running for President” [The Hill]. “Hillary Clinton got her first official challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination Wednesday night.” So much for Martin O’Malley, who probably has details to attend to in Baltimore and Maryland anyhow.

Headline: “What Bernie Sanders Would Have to Do to Win” [New York Times]. Personally, I feel that bringing even a smidgeon of sanity to our political discourse is a ginormous win, and if Sanders does this, I will cheer him on (which is not the same as the coveted Lambert endorsement).

The S.S. Clinton

“The Clinton Health Access Initiative never submitted information on any foreign donations to State Department lawyers for review during Clinton’s tenure” [Boston Globe]. An “oversight.” Oh, OK. Say, can we check the email on that?

“A handful of deep-pocketed donors are reconsidering their gifts to the $2 billion Clinton Foundation amid mounting questions about how it’s spending their money and suggestions of influence peddling” [Politico]. Shocked, shocked. What we need is a leaderboard on corruption. I mean, at least Clinton had the class to launder her money, as opposed to strutting down the Koch catwalk with a $300 million prize for Most Beautiful New Face at stake.

Review of Clinton speech on race and mass incarceration: “The filling of American prisons has become so powerful for voters that both Democrats and Republicans are trying to tackle it in Washington. That bipartisanship is the ultimate proof that the issue of mass incarceration has reached critical mass [Vox]. Also: “If this is the Hillary Clinton that hits the campaign trail for the next 18 months, she’ll be a far more formidable candidate than the halting speaker who struggled to articulate a raison d’être in 2008.” Except, as I keep saying, after the February caucus debacle, after which the press moved on.

Quotes from Koch’s $300 million beauty contest below, which it’s only fair to say a Koch spokeshole categorizes as “hearsay” [New York Post].

Republican Establishment

Koch: “We’ve had enough presidents named Bush” [New York Post]. Whaddaya mean, “we”?

Republican Principled Insurgents

Koch: “I am supporting Scott Walker” [New York Post]. (I warned you Walker was dangerous!) “I told Scott Walker that Marco Rubio would be a good vice president. Gov. Walker agreed.” I bet he did! Let’s just hope, for Walker’s sake, that he was talking to a real Koch this time.

Republican Clown Car

On NSA surveillance, Cruz stakes out position between Paul and Rubio [Politico].

The Hill

“Texas labeled as ‘hostile’ territory in Army’s Jade Helm training” [Austin-American]. White House re-assures anxious Texans [Talking Ponts Memo].

House plans to spend more money on the F-35 [The Intercept]. I hear the song of a Clang Bird!

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, March 2015: “[T]he data suggest that people remain somewhat cautious in their spending despite months of cheaper gasoline and rising confidence” [Bloomberg]. Fed blames the weather.

Health Care

Center for Medicare Services Inspector general issues warning on $5 billion spent for the Exchanges [Bloomberg]. The concerns raised are on call centers and enrollment staff. That’s interesting, because that’s where the walking around money for the politically connected would have been spent.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

I asked our Philly correspondent, Fernando Quinlan, “When will Philly blow up?” The answer:

Enough has been done that, so far, no tipping point has appeared, either for bored teens with poor impulse control, or older organized politically aware committed activists who have given up on food security and improved housing and health care and deliberately moved to civil insurrection as a strategy to power.

My overall view is that the city is very different from the rest of the nation due to the conscious attempts to change the culture of the cops for about 30 years. Philly cops have to live in Philly, about 34% are Black. The previous commissioner was a Nation of Islam turned Sunni Muslim, Sylvester Johnson. Black women who went with the Sunnis are regularly seen throughout the city in full Burqa dress with covered faces. Not that everyone is in love with one another, but there is a civil accommodation with one another. The DoJ had a massive purge of the PPD in the 1980s, convicting 60 cops and sending many into retirement. Repeated decades of reformers, several from out of town, some African American have pushed for more community policing, as seen by the bike cops in shorts. This is a sea change from the Rizzo era cops, who wore black leather jackets and carried lead truncheons, the black jacks. Even the 4 battery Mag Lite flash lights have been abandoned for small very bright LED lights. Those flashlights were used as replacements for the blackjacks, and 4 ‘D’ sized batteries in an aluminum tube fractured a lot of bones. The attempt to tone down the image as well as the behavior the cops has gone on to the point today where the brass regularly dismiss cops and then have to fight the FOP in the courts by the fired cops who fight tooth and nail to reinstate all but the convicted felons among the dismissed.

More recently, 2 women who wrote for the Daily News and won Pulitzers uncovered massive corrupt narcotics officers and other detectives. That cleaned up a lot of the department along advances of ubiquitous computer cameras inside and outside of small business everywhere has caught many a dirty cop in the act.

Quinlan’s comment is, at the minimum, a reminder to us all that cities up and down the Northeast Corridor are not identical. Context matters! Most Baltimore cops live out of town.

And here’s a reminder that the terrain of cities on the Northeast Corridor is different from, say, St Louis, tactically and strategically [@Grasswire].

“Police have handed their Freddie Gray investigative files over to prosecutors a day earlier than planned” [CNN]. Fragments of what looks like the police version being leaked, although the report itself is secret. For some reason.

WaPo reports that a sealed affidavit in a search warrant contains information from a now-jailed prisoner also in Freddie Gray’s van, separated from Gray by metal partition, that Gray was “banging against the walls” and “was intentionally trying to injure himself” [Reuters]. Hmm. Here’s a debunking [Daily Kos].

Initial reports said Gray’s van made three stops. Now a fourth has emerged, based on footage from “a privately owned camera”, says Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis [New York Times]. The Times thinks that suggests that the officers involved had not told investigators about it. Maybe.

Video of police snatch at protest [Talking Points Memo]. It happened live on CNN, right on the screen behind two talking heads, who didn’t notice a thing. #smh.

“The Rev. Al Sharpton and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake are scheduled to lead a summit on improving relations between police and the community” [AP]. Swell. Yes, that Al Sharpton.

Protests in Ferguson in solidarity with Baltimore; three apparently shot, shooters unknown [WBAL].

“When law enforcement is just about force, people are killed” [The Economist, “Wanted: cops with people skills”]. At home as abroad, not that our post- and trans-national elite sees a real difference.

Non-violence as a philosophy vs. non-violence as a strategy [HuffPo]. I’m in the latter camp.

U.K. Election

IpsosMORI poll for the Evening Standard: Cameron 35%, up two points, Labour down five points to 30% [International Business Times]. Seven days to go.

If you want to see where Labour’s five points went, scroll down to the “One word that sums up your leadership style?” question, and see if you notice a different between Labor’s Miliband and the others [Holy Rood].

Our Famously Free Press

“[A]ccess is the god that failed, with terrible consequences that no one in Washington journalism can reckon with. Instead, they party the pain away. And that is one thing [thaat the White House Correspondents’ Dinner] tonight is ‘about'” [Jay Rosen]. Good, but access journalism failed whom?

Class Warfare

There’s now an app to help the precariat keep track of the three or eight jobs they have to put together at weird hours to pay the rent and the bills [New York Times]. It’s a civilizational advance!

News of the Wired

  • Coco Chanel and the little black dress [Book of Life]. “The little black dress was conceived as the clothing equivalent of the Model-T Ford.”
  • In France, citizens own there own medical records. Not so here [Brookings].
  • Four schools of thought on why the flash crash prosecution is happening now [Wall Street on Parade].
  • Science on the Nepal quake [American Geophysical Union].
  • “The Psychology of Inevitable Earthquakes” [The Atlantic]. Nepal, but of more general import, no?

* * *

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 fourth, the third of “Spring is here!” week one (Craazyman):


Looks like a Spring cold snap :-(

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. shinola

    It appears that if someone wants to be the GOP candidate for president, they have to be a real Koch-sucker.
    (sorry – couldn’t resist)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I deprecate the use of sexual metaphors for political relations not out of a Puritanical attitude, but because the metaphors suggest a category error, exactly like comparing government to a household.

      That said, this is a family blog, so please resist in future.

      There are plenty of other jokes you can make, like “A stopped Koch is right once a day, assuming a 24-hour clock.”

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        So you’re simply saying it’s the kind of grammatical error up with which you will not put?

          1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

            The Koch double entendre is also massively obvious and run into the ground.

      2. Vatch

        Considering the way that they pronounce their name, perhaps one could make jokes about kochaine.

  2. timbers

    The economy didn’t grow last quarter. Six years into his Presidency following the worst recession in 70 years, and still no recovery and people still support Obama and FB is littered with the awesomeness of the Obama Recovery.

    We have a serious problem.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Probably the people littering Facebook are in the top 20% — the Democrats’ “middle class” — the remaining managers and professionals and creative class types and IT people and political class apparatchiks who are doing OK.

      1. RUKidding

        I think that’s probably an accurate assessment. I am not on FB; no interest. But my general knowledge of it is that it is used mainly by what remains of the middle class of all age groups. Used primarily for either bs’ing/gossip/photo sharing, plus some smattering of small businesses and public institutions (charities, public libraries) use for PR/marketing/outreach and communication.

        As indicated, these are the citizens who are still doing ok in this economy, although I DO see some folks in my public library accessing Facebook on the public computers; they do not appear to be well off & might be homeless. I can only assume that some of those people have FB accounts. The homeless I know are pretty darn cynical about Obama, but that’s anecdotal.

  3. diptherio

    Re: Bernie’s letter

    The middle class is at a tipping point but no mention of the working poor (i.e. most of the people I know). Am I too cynical for being not at all surprised by this oversight?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, he is running as a Democrat.

      Hopefully people in the Sanders campaign check NC for useful anecdotal material every so often. (There’s also polling somewhere that notes the number of people self-identifying as working class rather than middle class increased during the recession; IIRC this was two or even three years ago; if those numbers are steady, that would be an excellent indicator that “the economy” is still in the crapper.

      1. jrs

        The middle class really is working class. Do they work for others as an employee for most of their income? Then case closed. It doesn’t really matter if the income is somewhat higher and they want to pretend they aren’t wage slaves, they’re really just slightly better paid and maybe better treated wage slaves. House slaves rather than field slaves.

        But what to identify as mostly depends on who one is talking to and the context.

  4. diptherio

    I posted this update on the Nepal situation from a friend-of-a-friend on the ground in Bhaktapur, about 15 km east of Kathmandu, on the links page right before Water-cooler went up. Check it out. Planning on heading over at the end of July for a few months (most of my friends are ok, thank Goddess, though sleeping in tents) and connecting w/ the organization mentioned, as Bhaktapur is my home-away-from-home.

    1. RUKidding

      Good luck to you and your friends. I spent some time in Nepal in the late ’70s. Beautiful land but bldgs. certainly not built to withstand a quake of that magnitude.

  5. Brindle

    The HuffPo piece on Hillary and TPP is mostly wishful thinking by the writer—seems like part of the current effort to paint her as a “progressive”.

      1. steviefinn

        Thanks for that – is he talking about the same O’ Malley that might be running as a Democratic contender fot president ? if so he appears to have sown bad seeds that have caught up with him.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s very funny, because Pierce was an Obot of Obots in 2008. And it’s too bad, because he’s a good writer who often gets outraged about the right thing when he doesn’t have his D jammies on.

          1. OIFVet

            He is an Obot to this day. Not the most annoying one to be sure, personally I bestow that dubious honor on Bob Ceska. He is both aggressive and aggressively ignorant, to the point where I would give a nut for the opportunity to b..ch slap him for an hour or two.

    1. so

      David Simon is a national treasure. The jury box ,if you can get there,is the last place of power for the little person.
      If you’ve got the guts.

      1. bob

        He’s right on that. Jury nullification should be a major plank to any “end the war on drugs” solutions. One or two cases could change policy inside cities, especially.

        “But jury nullification is wrong!” Nope, it’s the reason people are used for juries, and not robots, whatever your “law and order” prosecutor and judge has to say. You can “vote” anyway *you* want to.

  6. Anon

    Re: Bernie Sanders

    Seeing his slogan feels like as if it’s tapping into the “x is coming” meme made popular via Game of Thrones, but maybe that’s just me?

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    Wal-Mart laid off 2,200 workers, then told them to avoid chocolate and alcohol Business Insider

    The handout also encourages workers to seek help from a professional counselor and assures that “difficulty sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks, and feelings of being ‘hyper-alert’ are common and will diminish in time.”

    Yes. This is why disemployment is bad for your health, and (in some cases) lethal. They don’t call it class warfare for nothing.

    1. JTMcPhee

      A silly little line from one of the nastier characters in Frank Herbert’s novel, “Dune”:

      “A certain amount of killing has always been a part of business.”

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Can’t help but be reminded that the net worth of the top 3 Waltons exceeds that of all of their 1.2 million employees *combined*.
        Enough to make kings, pharoahs and Roman emperors green with envy

        1. RUKidding

          Oh but the Walton spawn really really REALLY work SO MUCH HARDER than ALL of their serfs combined, doncha know??? And you’re “just jealous.” C’mon, get with the program.

    2. skippy

      “difficulty sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks, and feelings of being ‘hyper-alert’ are common and will diminish in time.”

      Wellie it seems Walmart is partnering with the military… PTSD debrief as the door his you in the ass ETS.

      Skippy… For those that want treatment you can always re up…

  8. Sandwichman

    “They wonder why they are working longer hours for lower wages…”
    Stop wondering:

    Whether you work by the piece
    Or work by the day
    Decreasing the hours
    Increases the pay.

    Mary Steward’s doggerel summary of her husband, Ira Steward’s economic philosophy. Who would have guessed? Turns out Steward was right and the orthodox economists were wrong.

  9. New Deal democrat

    Re personal income and spending, the data appears to go directly against Bloomberg’s take. Income was flat, but spending rose .4%, because people dug into their savings. The personal saving rate fell from 5.7% to 5.3%. I.e., consumers started to spend some of their gas savings in March. Gallup’s daily numbers suggest that has continued this month.

  10. Toni Gilpin

    You are right that local context matters enormously: Chicago has required its police officers to live in the city for over 90 years. But because of the city’s longstanding entrenched segregation, that rule does not do much to integrate police into the community — many cops simply live in remote (i.e. close to O’Hare) historically white neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, those neighborhoods are notable for their low-crime rates and and their insular hostility to “outsiders” (that used to be Bridgeport, but things have changed there.) The residency requirement is a mixed bag, at any rate, in terms of what it means both for improved community relations and minority representation on the force. Of course, police and firefighters’ unions have long been opposed to them. (Chicago teachers are also required to reside in the city — we’re one of the only big cities that is true of — and that has been controversial within the teachers’ union too.) Rahm Emanuel has stood behind the residency requirements, surprisingly. Anyhow, clearly much more than where cops live needs to change in order to truly embed them (in the right way) in our communities.

    1. grizziz

      I would suggest that the community should select their own officers, at least in Chicago. This would require a feedback from those who are being protected rather than feedback to the officer’s supervisors. Understandably, this may be difficult in practice, since the community would need to be actually involved on a routine basis which is a high expectation. It would also impair the Mayor’s ability to demand loyalty from his legions when out-of-town grandees require escorts to move them quickly through the boulevards to avoid contact with the riff-raff on their way to the auctions of the commonwealth.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Make all new cops have to teach for a year in the neighborhoods they’ll be patrolling and get used to interacting with the people they’ll see on their beat without the crutch of having a sidearm.

  11. grizziz

    Would you please re-link Guerilla pollster doublechecks Pew Research survey on TPP support.
    The current link goes to a DCblooger post about vegetarianism. Thank you

    1. Oregoncharles

      The good thing about him running as a Democrat – making his bid purely symbolic – is that he won’t be undercutting the Green Party in November.

  12. Jeff W

    From this NY Times article “Bernie Sanders Announces He Is Running for President” today:

    In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington on March 9, Mr. Sanders said he fantasized about getting 3 million supporters to each donate $100 to his campaign.

    This 2008 USA Today story says

    Donors giving $200 or less need not be disclosed, but the difference between the number of donors provided by the Obama campaign and the number reported in federal election records shows there were about 3.4 million of them.

    So candidate Obama gets 3.4 million donors giving $200 or less in 2008 but Bernie Sanders is “fantasizing” about getting 3 million supporters each to donate $100 in 2016? I’m curious why Sen. Sanders is relegating that to “fantasy.”

    1. cwaltz

      I personally think that the narrative is about managing expectations. Sanders doesn’t think he’s going to have the same type of ground game as OFA( who likely will be helping manage a Clinton operation.) I think the thought process may be that if he gets that backing he’d be exceeding expectations in terms of support.

  13. nowhere

    Fury rises at Disney over use of foreign workers

    “Some of these folks were literally flown in the day before to take over the exact same job I was doing,” said one of the IT workers who lost his job. He trained his replacement and is angry over the fact he had to train someone from India “on site, in our country.”

    Not sure I’d have the kindness to train my FOTB replacement.

    1. nowhere

      Another link regarding H1-B.

      The TITLE of the briefing says it all: FACTS YOU CAN USE To Prove That High-Skilled Immigration Is Good for the Economy. Prove to whom? Since the “you” is the congressional staff, it’s clear that the briefing is intended to help politicians convince their skeptical constituents that H-1B is good for them. I assume there is nothing illegal in that, but it is incredibly sleazy.

      If only we could out/in source our elected representatives…

    2. jrs

      “It explains that as employers use foreign workers to fill “more technical and low-level jobs, firms are able to expand” and allow U.S. workers “to assume managerial and leadership positions.””

      Oh yes we’re all dumb as bricks. Yesterday’s vaunted STEM career is today’s “low level” job equivalent (technical and low-level jobs). Maybe should have told us that before pushing all those degrees. But anyway how many managers are there compared to “low level” that is non-management workers? I mean despite whatever lean philosophies may have been instituted there is sometimes administrative bloat, but are we really to believe that outsourcing non-management roles and keeping management poses no threat to jobs? Because there’s just as many management as non-management positions right? And what about people just out of school they are just going to jump straight to management? No of course they will never get jobs at all, and in the future management will be outsourced.

    3. jrs

      Though I originally checked out the links because I thought Disney’s IT proper was already entirely outsourced and had been for awhile, although there were a few IT based jobs in other departments but I don’t they’d generally be classified as IT even if they involve those skills.

  14. Rob Urie

    The Philadelphia police have run one of the most aggressive and corrupt civil forfeiture programs in the country for some years now. Regular reports in the local independent press have the police identifying property they want and then pulling charges out of their rears to take it. Dozens of families have lost their homes and appeals almost never bring resolution.

    1. lambert strether

      Awesome. I asked around on whether Baltimore had a law enforcement for profit system like Ferguson, but could get no detail. Post links?

  15. rich

    April 29 – Republicans Block Efforts to Shield Military Families From Payday Lenders

    We begin with a shocking and shameful example of the priorities of the House Republicans who have slipped legislation into the National Defense Authorization Act
    at the behest of the banking lobby that would block protection for American servicemen and their families from predatory payday lenders.
    Robert Weissman, the President of Public Citizen joins us to discuss how efforts to shield military families from short-term high-interest loans where a yearlong $2,600 loan costs $3,967 to pay back and a six month $485 loan costs $1,428 to pay off, have been stalled before the House Armed Service Committee.
    low of the low

    1. LucyLulu

      Should citizens curse their legislators for their inability to pass legislation more meaningful than naming post offices? Or should people take comfort that their elected representatives can’t do further damage? It’s a tough call.

  16. Oregoncharles

    UK election: “In the same IpsosMORI poll, the Liberal Democrats were on 8%, Ukip 10% and the Green Party 8%.”
    Apparently the Greens picked up some of what Labor lost, and is neck and neck with the Lib Dems.

  17. Oregoncharles

    “Texas labeled as ‘hostile’ territory in Army’s Jade Helm training”
    Well, I certainly think it is. And the locals’ concerns mostly sound nutty.
    However, this “exercise” makes me very nervous, too. What are they training FOR? It’s spread over 7 states and mostly on private land, not training sets on bases. It’s pretty clear what they’re training FOR: occupation – and rather specifically, occupation of areas in the US. It would apply to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, too, but I think this is aimed primarily at domestic, um, disorder. Or insurrection.
    And just why would they think it necessary to train for that?

    1. cwaltz

      I daresay in any population you are going to have people who don’t like other people. So what. Besides, despite what you say Bernie Sanders was re elected 71% to 25% hardly what I’d call an indictment on his popularity. (and YES I’m aware that the Democrats essentially helped him by not running anyone against him.)


      Additionally, his net worth is NOT what you are saying according to Open Secrets or for that matter anything that I’ve seen. So you might want to cite where you are getting YOUR data on his net worth.


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