2:00PM Water Cooler 4/3/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Under the proposed schedule, [Hatch and Wyden] would introduce the trade promotion authority bill on April 13, the day lawmakers return from their two-week recess” [National Journal]. “Hatch expressed worry as late as last week that if he and Wyden couldn’t strike a deal in April the fast-track bill might not get passed at all this year.” Be sure to visit your Congress critter’s office and share your views. If possible, put together a group across the political spectrum, which TPP’s anti-sovereignty ISDS provisions should make easy to do. And see Vatch’s handy contact list here.

“Wyden is balking at the Republican’s basic fast-track proposal, asking for enhanced reviewing authority to ensure that trade deals comply with agreed-upon TPA objectives” [National Journal]. Looks like cover. Surely the ISDS so-called courts could undo any of this?

“If 60 House Republicans defect from leadership on trade, the administration would have to win support from at least 32 House Democrats, well over twice the number now thought to support fast track” [Wall Street Journal].

Anti-TPP group Fight for the Future has been following Sen. Ron Wyden around Eastern Oregon in March with a 30-foot blimp reading “Ron Wyden: It’s Up To You. Don’t Betray Us!” [The World].

Progressive Coalition for American Jobs: This very sketchy astroturf organization run by 270 Strategies, a K street firm composed, in shocker, of forrmer Obama administration staffers, claims to prove the existence of progressives who support TPP and fast track [Common Dreams].

“[I]f you’re making less than $87,000 per year (the current 90th percentile wage), the TPP would mean a pay cut” [Eyes on Trade (classic)].

“Due to the vague language of the TPP’s copyright provisions, big content groups could attack any of the TPP countries’ interpretation of the copyright provisions, especially if they were more protective of users’ rights. A multinational movie studio could sue a country that introduces new rules, like those that Chile already has, requiring a judicial order before someone can be forced to remove content from a website” [EFF]. If you want to see a living example of fair use and how important it is, check any NC article with block quotes.

Even if you accept the theory of comparative advantage, TPP is a bad deal on pharma [CEPR].

White House Petition: Make public the entire Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact before allowing our US representative to agree to its terms [WhiteHouse.gov]. Not many signatures yet.

Letter to the editor: “You wouldn’t buy a car behind a curtain without examining it so why pass a bill that is so secret we can’t know what is in it? A pig in a poke is what you’ll get” [East Oregonian].

Phillipines will not join TPP talks, although it will participate in ASEAN free trade negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [Xinhua].


Clinton signs Brooklyn lease for campaign headquarters [Politico].

Principled Insurgents

Iowa and New Hampshire insiders (“a bipartisan group of political operatives, activists and key players”) call Rand Paul viable [Politico].

Scott Walker really did (probably, if he had a coupon) buy a sweater for a dollar at Kohl’s [Journal-Sentinel].

Walker tells conservative talk show he’d cancel any Iran deal, whether our trading partners wanted to or not [WaPo].

Walker tells another conservative talk show “that people around the country protesting Indiana’s religious freedom law are ‘looking for ways to be upset about things'” [Journal-Sentinel].

Clown Car

Carly Fiorina calls Apple’s Tim Cook a hypocrite for opposing Indiana’s “Freedom to Hate” law [Wall Street Journal].

Pew Research: 2016 campaign “has gotten off to a slow start with voters” [McClatchy]. “Fifty-eight percent said they’ve given at least some thought to potential candidates, but that’s 10 percentage points below this point in 2008.” Maybe if it wasn’t shaping up to be a dynastic contest?

Karl Rove: The Mittster didn’t lose because “the base” (my quotes) stayed home, but because “fewer self-identified moderates, 1.7 million fewer white Catholics, and 1.2 million fewer women” did [Karl Rove, Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!]. I grant the whiff of R’lyeh, but nobody ever said Rove wasn’t very, very good at what he does.

69 percent of Republicans prefer a candidate who doesn’t pledge not to raise taxes [WaPo]. Nice knowin’ ya, Grover.

“Atlantis Won’t Sink, Experts Agree” [The Archdruid Report].

Nacil Buper, Grand Priestess of the Temple of Night, took time out of her busy schedule to meet with me. I asked her what she thought about the rumors of imminent catastrophe. … “That’s the most outrageous kind of nonsense,” the Grand Priestess replied. “Atlanteans have been worshipping the Lord of Evil for more than a century and a half. It’s one of the foundations of our society and our way of life, and we should be increasing the number of offerings to Mu-Elortep as rapidly as we can, not listening to crazies from the fringe who insist that there’s something wrong with slaughtering people for the greater glory of the Lord of Evil.”

Read the whole thing; the part about Tarc Omed, Hierophant of the Priests of the Sun, is totally true-to-life fun, too.

The Hill

“How Schumer Rose To The Top” [The Hill].

Schumer built the foundation of his clout by chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006 and 2008. He exceeded expectations in both cycles, first by picking up six GOP seats to capture the Senate majority and then netting another eight to put his party on the cusp of a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority.

A position Obana promptly pissed away in 2010, and again in 2014.

Stats Watch

Employment situation, March 2015: Payroll jobs increased a mere 126,000. Expectations: 247,000. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent. The labor force participation rate edged down marginally to 62.7 percent from 62.8 percent [Bloomberg]. “The latest employment report clearly is soft and will add to arguments by Fed doves to delay rate hikes.” “… will add to arguments by Fed doves to apply more leeches to the patient.” Bright side: Obama will stop swanning around saying how great the economy is. Not.


“Further hiring would help alleviate slack in the labor market” [Bloomberg]. Kidding, right?

White House talking points [Whitehouse.gov].

“The weak March report is a reminder that although the economy is improving, it’s still struggling to climb back from the Great Recession” [McClatchy]. No. This is the new normal.

“It now appears that soft numbers so far in 2015 on consumer spending, durable goods orders and industrial activity were telling us something meaningful, and while the job market still looks quite solid over all, it probably isn’t going quite as gangbusters as it had seemed” [New York Times]. And by “seem,” we mean “made to seem,” right?


“Standing in front of the offices of the $26 billion investment firm Citadel, the challenger accused the firm’s billionaire owner, Kenneth C. Griffin, of benefiting from a relationship with the mayor” [New York Times]. Good.


Nestlé selling bottled California water during drought [Reuters].

Class Warfare

Philadelphia airport workers strike for better wages [Philadelphia Inquirer].

The rise of DIY dentistry in the UK [Guardian]. Now that’s what I call skin in the game! What next? Brain surgery?

Police State

Lieutenant Ralph Mata’s life dealing coke in the Miami PD [Miami News].

“A man initially charged in a 2012 double homicide is suing 13 detectives in the Chicago Police Department, alleging they falsified police reports, coerced a witness and withheld information that would have proven his innocence before he spent nearly two years in custody” [WLS]. Wait, the CPD?!

Two LAPD officers who fatally shot Steven Eugene Washington, an autistic, unarmed man in 2010 were awarded a total of nearly $4 million last week in a discrimination lawsuit that accused the department of treating them unfairly because they are Latino [HuffPo]. Says their lawyer: Doing “what they were trained to do.” Well, er.

News of the Wired

  • Democratic mayor throws jar of vaseline at Governor LePage after budget cuts town hall [Bangor Daily News]. (“[I]n 2013, LePage told a camera crew that a Democratic state senator ‘claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.'”) Hope it wasn’t a glass jar, but nice to see a Democrat with some stones.
  • The Iran deal is a good deal, and how to sell it [Reuters]. Well, Bibi and our friends the Saudis hate it, for starters….
  • FRED now has SNAP data [St Louis Fed].
  • Seymour Hersh reflects on My Lai and the state of journalism [CJR].
  • “As everything is getting weirder, it’s also getting faster” [Steve Coast].
  • “Celebrating National Poetry Month with #RedactedPoetry” [Archives.org].
  • “How to get a flat stomach without going to the gym – just by using a piece of STRING” [Daily Mail].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the fourth of “I Wish It Were Spring!” week three (craazyman):

DSC_4918 (2v)

It’s always a very hopeful moment to look up at the trees and see branches — with buds — against the sky.

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!

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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. JTMcPhee

    Even tho petitioning is pretty pitiable and pitiful, I was going to sign the whitehouse.gov pet linked above, but lo and behold the link is broken. Not smart enough to figure out how to find it elsewhere. Maybe that is why so few signatures? or is it just another example of coalition frittering of resources and clout across a way too scattered, and disorganized, bunch of cats that resist any kind of sensible herding, even if it is away from the cliff?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Fixed, thanks. I’d be surprised if this affected the White House, but it’s good to stand up to be counted, and then see how many others there are.

      1. roadrider

        I just signed it.

        The labor force participation chart illustrates a big part of what Obama’s real legacy should be – failure to address the unemployment crisis resulting from the financial crash. Of course, his administration’s failure to address the massive white-collar crime wave that caused the crash as well as the resulting housing crisis are the underlying reasons why this is true. And those of us in the age 50+, long-term unemployed but too young for SS/Medicare cohort have basically been told to eat “cake” in the form of McJobs or our own personal austerity program. Thanks Barry!

        1. Lambert Strether

          I don’t think it’s “failure to address the unemployment crisis.” I think it’s the deliberate creation of a permanently smaller labor force pour encourager les autres. Just millions of people thrown under the bus for no good reason except putting a choker round working peoples’ neck.

          1. Cujo359

            Regardless of the reasons or excuses, not addressing unemployment was a failure. It made the American people less skilled and less healthy, neither of which bodes well for our economic future, or our futures generally.

            Signed the petition. Maybe we can push the count past 200 today…

        1. MRW

          “White House Petition: Make public the entire Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact before allowing our US representative to agree to its terms [WhiteHouse.gov]. Not many signatures yet.”

          Elevate it to a headline post as many times as needed before the shutoff date.

    2. jrs

      So few signatures could be the issue needs more publicity. But it also could just be that the White House has completely broken their promise that a certain threshold (100k) of signatures would guarantee they would at least look into the issue, which I think is what the whole purpose of the White House petitions was supposed to be. So if the original purpose of the petitions is entirely ignored it kind of easily makes them meaningless, unless one tries to project their own purposes on to them (ie to raise awareness etc.).

      It’s probably not a wise cat strategy at all only better than absolutely nothing, maybe.

    3. Vatch

      I “signed” the petition. The White House petitions site has changed since I last “signed” something. It used to be that the signers’ initials would appear on the list in reverse order. If a person signed within the last minute or so, he or she would be in the first block of initials on the list. Now one has to scroll through the whole list to see whether one’s initials have been added to the petition. Probably just a programming blunder, but maybe it’s intended to frustrate the people who sign petitions.

  2. Rosario

    Related to the California drought, also note that fracking is exempted despite their massive consumption levels per capita. Also, despite Governor Brown’s claim, the industry is not justified because of California’s oil and gas consumption needs. Water is a fundamental, often externalized, “commodity”, though I hate calling it that (I’ll play the economists game for a moment). Put simply, oil and gas don’t really matter when you don’t have drinking water.


    Dunno what to say really, just stupid.

    1. RWood

      Well, let’s go on to vicious, malefic, malevolent, malign, harmful, injurious, or even…evil!

    2. jrs

      It would seem by itself that would mess up compliance. Do you want a law backed by pure force or also by the support of at least a decent number of the people? They really want to go the pure force route I guess.

      Some Californians seeing how bad things are will even voluntarily conserve water (it’s not the environmental awareness of the pacific northwest but many are a well meaning sort when they see drought warnings everywhere including freeways). And meanwhile this …. it’s enough to make one smuggle water around like it was drugs and steal water like it was cable t.v..

  3. dSquib

    The Iran sort of deal is encouraging less because it makes an already microscopic probability event (Iran developing full nuclear weapon capability and *using* it, like, day one) a little less likely (oversight, potential punishments tied to actual universal, sort of, standards) but that there has been dealt a possibly serious blow to the “narrative” (which was logically and factually weak but politically strong) around potential elevated belligerence against Iran, in the US. Yes politics is weird but I guess we’ll have to take it.

    1. tgs

      I can’t see this ‘deal’ lasting. Aside from the fact that the Republicans and many Democrats hate it, the Obama administration has done nothing to fight back against the basic premises – that Iran is an aggressor, that they want to rule the mideast, that they actually wanted a bomb, that they are religious fanatics who would destroy themselves so long as they can take Israel with them.

      Leaving the conventional wisdom in place, means that those who oppose it can hammer on those points and CNN, op-ed pages etc., will allow plenty of space for them to do so.

      1. dSquib

        I think your points lean more to suggesting that this deal will become irrelevant, rather than ending, but I’m not unsympathetic.

        Can the wheels of the bomb Iran bus be deflated a little? Perhaps. One can always point to Iranian compliance with such and such, and maybe most importantly if Iran develops a peaceful nuclear power program, their claims that nuclear capability was always for that purpose alone will carry more weight (not much reason they shouldn’t already, but there you go).

  4. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    “Scott Walker really did (probably, if he had a coupon) buy a sweater for a dollar at Kohl’s.” Amateur. Mrs. Hobbit often gets paid to haul things away – though, admittedly, coupons are often involved.

    1. ambrit

      Is this some sort of modern “potlatch” ceremony adopted from the Indigenes? (“This Spring Equinox, Gnarths Will Not Be Under Given Away!”) PS, yours truly has been ‘cautioned’ by the police that dumpster diving is a crime in most localities. “We can’t have the public being exposed to any Free Prosperity bacilli. It would upset the “Natural Order” of things.” I learned from my toils in the Big Boxx Store that many outlets crush unsold merchandise in the trash compactor module rather than donate the items to non profits. Then, many outlets sell their returns and defectives to small time Super Thrift for profit outfits. That’s why the Super Thrifts always have the sign by the electronics shelves saying, “Test All Items Before Purchase.” That sign is their Get Out of Jail Free card. [You were warned!]

  5. LaRuse

    I signed the White House petition.
    Maybe Yves can put it in the links tomorrow a.m. or on Monday (holiday weekends are bad for news cycles) to help get more signatures?

  6. hunkerdown

    270 Strategies? Like two wrong-wings don’t make a right-wing, but three right-wings make a left-wing?

  7. Eureka Springs

    White House Petition: Make public the entire Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact before allowing our US representative to agree to its terms

    Uh, don’t we already know more than enough than to go along with this… an astroturf like petition which suggests in more ways than one TPP might be worthy of “agreeing to its terms”, needs a few minor fixes, just needs to be out in the open. Why not petition neoliberals to be more progressive since progressives are suggesting we cut defense spending by an astounding 1 percent.

    How about… Never consider TPP! Not for a nanosecond.

    1. dSquib

      Uh, don’t we already know more than enough than to go along with this…

      If by “we” you mean the NC comments section, yeah.

      An exaggeration, but there are plenty of people who know nothing of TPP who would be quite outraged by much of it, but without knowing much or anything about it will either think nothing of it or accept it on “branding” or partisan grounds, or just because such things seem so arcane and remote. Granted disclosure doesn’t mean media coverage, but it’s likely the story of any or all of the TPP being made public would bring with it some coverage of what’s inside.

      1. ambrit

        Yes. I would consider trying to get someone like that Stewart fellow or “Sixty Minutes” to do a hit piece on TPP etc. Then maybe the antis would gain traction. However, considering the insidious and constant nature of elite propaganda and agitation, we will need a permanent organization to combat this. “Rust never sleeps” is a very good catchphrase to describe this phenomenon.

    2. Lambert Strether

      I disagree. I think we can walk (call for stopping TPP) and chew gum (demand the text be made public) at the same time. After all, the second is tantamount to the first, since otherwise they wouldn’t keep it secret in the first place!

  8. fresno dan

    Two LAPD officers who fatally shot Steven Eugene Washington, an autistic, unarmed man in 2010 were awarded a total of nearly $4 million last week in a discrimination lawsuit that accused the department of treating them unfairly because they are Latino [HuffPo]. Says their lawyer: Doing “what they were trained to do.” Well, er.

    “He also told the LA Times that a white LAPD officer fatally shot an unarmed Latino man was allowed to return to the field after only a six-week probation.”

    So equality in our police state means that minority police officers get to shoot people with equal lack of accountability….progress I guess… (sarc)

    1. Foy

      So those policemen get $4 million compensation and yet Glenn Ford, the man who spent 30 years on death row in Louisiana and was recently found not to have committed the murder he was convicted of and has now been released, has had his compensation claim rejected. And the maximum compensation he would be entitled to under Louisiana law would be $250K in any case.


      More confirmation the world is upside down…

  9. Howard Beale IV

    Now that’s what I call skin in the game! What next? Brain surgery?

    Actually, decades ago National Lampoon had an article on DIY brain surgery. It was about fixing a thing called PICA compression of a cranial nerve using mirrors, disinfectant, gel foam and of course a drill.

  10. Oregoncharles

    “Hope it wasn’t a glass jar, but nice to see a Democrat with some stones. ”
    It was a woman.

      1. ambrit

        A quibble, if I may.
        Stones = ovaries??? Where is this usage common? Not Down South that I have ever heard of.
        Another reproductive euphemism that I heard from a gentleman from the Massachusetts region would seem more apropos; “Nads,” as in Gonads. Then, the female subject of the term would not automatically suffer from much gender confusion insult. (I have always stood in awe of whomever was the evil genius who managed to engineer the equation of Feminism with Lesbianism. That equation manages to do a disservice to both groups, (quite unfairly I might add.))

  11. pdx

    Wyden represents Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Keen, and Columbia Sportswear.

    Oh, sorry. My bad. He represents Oregon.

    1. ambrit

      *sarc on*
      You some kind of elitist university type, bud? Real Americans know that Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Keen, and Columbia Sportswear are Oregon! Get with the program! Bring those jobs back from China and Oligopistan. There are just so many heavy cardboard boxes the timber and paper industry can make for Real Americans to live in, then what?
      *sarc off*

  12. Marianne Jones

    My letter to….

    “Dear Senator Wyden,

    I am a supporter of yours. I like your positions on technology and personal privacy / rights. This said, if you support TPP fast tracking or TPP in any form whatsoever, I will never vote for you again.

    I will support anybody who challenges you in a primary with my vote, my vocal support, and if I’m able my money.

    I will support anybody who challenges you in an election with my vote, my vocal support, and if I’m able my money.”

    1. ambrit

      You mentioned Money! Good for you! I’m willing to bet that most politicians have algorithms on place that sort messages with the word money in them into a special “read first” que.

  13. different clue

    I again submit the suggestion that we refer to TPP/TTIP as Obamatrade and try getting that name for it ever more widely known throughout establishment Republican districts and states. Perhaps the hatred levels against Obamatrade can be raised in the R-voting public to the point of pressuring the pro-Obamatrade Republicans out of supporting Obamatrade Fast Track. “Why do you support Fast Track for what Obama wants? Why do you support Fast Track for Obamatrade?”

    The more Republicans who oppose Fast Track, the more Democrats will be converted into supporting it. How many Republicans can turn against it before the Democrats can no longer reach the magic number of “mind changes” needed to pass Fast Track with Pelosi-style traitor Democrat votes?

  14. Foppe

    Not sure if this was posted before, since I can’t search very well while I’m on my phone, but this vanity Fair article is fantastically insipid.

  15. ambrit

    Off topic, I’ll admit, but, I just checked the local weather on TWC Online and noticed one of those Faux News Pieces with the blurb, (I’m not making this up,) “Not for the feint of heart.” What??? Feint of heart? Is this the dreaded spell check at work, or has TWC outsourced their copy writing to a high school in Ulan Bator? Millions of dollars change hands and they can’t even manage correct usage. I’ll bet if they spelt ‘Dizny’ wrong they would hear about it right quick.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    @everything weirder: I took a look at the reference this link in the post pointed to: “Nick Bostrom nails it in his book:”. For fun I looked at the reviews on Amazon. The very first review was longer than a typical post here and elicited 51 comments — mostly speculations on the dangers of the “Singularity.” I haven’t formed an opinion on the post or this book review. I mention it because such outpouring strikes me as strangely remarkable.

  17. Mattski

    California is in so many ways an ecological nightmare–example of how not to build a civilization, starting with ag and moving to cars and the whole suburban nightmare. But that hasn’t stopped a bazillion numbnutz liberals from worshipping at the alter of silly for. . . forever. Who knows, if their model fails maybe it will force the rest of us to start growing our own food.

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