2:00PM Water Cooler 5/4/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Hillary Clinton’s smartest move: Say no to TPP, and join the Warren/Krugman forces” [Salon]. When you’ve lost Salon…. To be fair, this isn’t Joan Walsh writing, and the author writes of “the Obama coalition” with a straight face. Still, a straw in the wind.

Orrin Hatch: “We’ve still got a lot of raindrops to run through here without getting splashed [FT, “Republicans push Barack Obama to rally Democrats for TPP vote”]. Those aren’t raindrops, Senator….

“As Hatch explained, at the moment there are too many Tea Party defectors on the right side of the aisle and too few Democrats willing to vote the bill forward. He seemed to suggest that it would be easier for Obama to cajole Democrats to get behind fast track than it would be to budge the Tea Party resisters” [Fiscal Times]. After you, Alphonse….

“House Republican opposition to sweeping trade legislation isn’t breaking down along traditional Tea Party-GOP establishment fault lines. …. Most defections, however, will come from rank-and-file conservatives who think it’s flat-out dangerous to give Obama any more authority” [The Hill].

Obama meets with New Democrat Coalition: “[Obama] acknowledged it’s a hard vote and he made it clear that if any of them needed and wanted him to campaign for them, he would support them on the campaign trail, the staffer said” [KETV]. Obama does have coattails, at least in the Senate.

Pelosi, after lunch with Obama and that meeting: “I don’t think enough of our issues have been resolved for us to be having a big movement of votes toward the bill” [The Hill].

Four key Senate Dems: Patty Murray (WA), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Tim Kaine (VA) [Politico]. Contact information at the links, but remember: Impact correlates to degree of difficulty; in rough order, highest first: Visiting the (district) office, with a group; visiting the district office; letters to the editor, letter to the office; fax to the office; call to the office; email to the office; online petition.


Sanders meet-up search tool [Corrente]. Meetups worked for another insurgent Vermont politician, eh?

The S.S. Clinton

A new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that 6 in 10 people, or 61 percent, said “honest” describes Clinton only slightly well or not at all [WaPo]. Compared to?

Bill: “The former president said his charity has never done anything ‘knowingly inappropriate'” [NBC]. Weasels everywhere: “He stole my words!”

Cruz, Graham, Santorum, Perry, Bush lead the charge against radical Islam in South Carolina [Bloomberg]. Which makes sense, in a way. I mean, South Carolina is on the ocean the millions of ’em would have to swim over. So it makes sense to stay vigilant.

Republican Clown Car

Fiorina to do for the country what she did for H-P [WaPo]. And her campaign forgot to register CarlyFiorina.org, on which her famous “demon ship” ad now appears. To be fair, Fiorina’s really angling to be the toast of the Hillary H8ter circuit, which is quite well funded, just as Graham is on the anti-Islam circuit (dittoez). So who am I to be critical of their career choices?

Ben Carson announces: “I don’t wander off into those extraneous areas that can be exploited. I have learned that” [WKRC]. Gospel choir sings Eminem.

Attorney who gave Christie a pass on Bridgegate had close ties to Christie [International Business Times]. Shocker! And so what if Christie ends up with plausible deniability? Who picked the staffers — the “Neener Neener” Junior High School-style antic-mongers — anyhow? That would be Christie, candidate for Preznit.

Squillionaire-funded “Change the Rule” effort petitions Commission on Presidential Debates to open debate to one third party candidate [The Hill]. The Green/Libertarian effort would open debate to any party with 270 electoral votes-worth of ballout access.

Stats Watch

Gallup Consumer Spending, April 2015: “[U]p from March but down from several monthly averages in 2014” [Bloomberg]. “[T]he trend over the past two years is mixed, without the clear upward trajectory measured in 2012 and 2013.”

Factory Orders, March 2015: Up as expected, after seven months of decline, on civilian aircraft and motor vehicles [Bloomberg]. “The pop in March ends the first quarter on a positive note but the early indications on the second quarter, despite expectations of an outsized weather boost, have all been soft.” “Orders for capital goods in general were mixed, up only 0.1 percent on the core, which excludes aircraft, and extending their downward slope” [Mosler Economics].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“‘Our demand is simple,’ Elzie said. ‘Stop killing us'” [New York Times]. It’s worth noting that ACT-UP, a very successful movement that somehow nobody remembers, also arose out (among other things) the pervasive death of loved ones.

Ferguson: “[A] City Council that’s been grappling with declining revenues voted unanimously in a closed meeting to hire one of the nation’s most distinguished and highest-paid trial lawyers to navigate what could be a prolonged and expensive reform process [St Louis Today]. $1335 an hour. Priorities!

Headline: “White House puts kibosh on critique that Obama is ‘reactionary’ on race” [Politico]. Yeah. I mean, Al Sharpton is a White House emissary!

Fairfax County cops whack Natasha McKenna with her hands cuffed and legs shackled [WaPo]. With a taser. But it did the job!


“For now, the thrust of Texas’ strategy is to build major water supply projects. In 2013, voters backed the creation of a $2 billion revolving loan fund to front the money for local entities to pay for the new water projects such as reservoirs and pipeline projects” [Tyler Morning Telegraph].

NRDC: “Water generated from big new storage projects costs substantially more than water from water use efficiency, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup, and water recycling projects” [Union Tribune].

“Across the state, water agencies including Riverside Public Utilities are offering rebates to homeowners and businesses to take out their lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant plants as part of the campaign to reduce water use” [Press-Enterprise]. So long as they don’t also give rebates to Astroturf, which can only increase runoff.
Store the water in the ground!

“Power capacity at Hoover Dam, on the Arizona-Nevada border, has dropped nearly 25 percent since 2000. In California, home to 287 hydroelectric plants and where almost half the state today is classified as being in “exceptional drought,” hydropower has fallen 60 percent in the past four years” [Albuquerque Journal].

“Experts say the East Coast’s plentiful water could cost cents per gallon to Californians and provide a stable, potable water supply for small communities” [CNBC]. Solution is to deliver by rail, says BNSF (brilliant pure play on drought by Buffet). Better than train bombs, I guess!


New York Senate Leader Dean Skelos arrested on corruption charges [New York Times].

And if Carl Heastie, post-Sheldon Silver era Assembly Speaker, hasn’t been indicted, he should be [City and State]. Sheesh, what’s a guy like Al Sharpton doing with these jamokes from the Bronx machine, anyhow?

Rahm wants to fund Chicago schools with a casino [Chicago Now]. This scam was tried at the state level in 1989. Since money’s fungible, the gambling money went to the schools, alright, but other sources were cut, so the schools were still net losers. Mission accomplished!

Imperial Collapse Watch

“As of mid-April 2015, the UN’s World Food Program estimated that twelve million Yemenis do not have consistent access to adequate food [Council on Foreign Relations]. Our friends, the Saudis.

“‘Fire at every person you see’: Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians” [Independent]. Our friends, the Israelis.

Class Warfare

“[M]any public pension funds committed to private equity have been adopting a more customized approach to PE” [Working Capital Review]. Idea: Instead of outsourcing our retirement to looters and thieves, fund enough to retire in dignity through social insurance.

Buffet re-affirms investment in food-like substances, citing lack of smiles at Whole Foods [Bloomberg].

Chris Hedges: “Make the rich panic” [Truth-Out]. They aren’t already?

News of the Wired

  • Andreeson Horpwitz and the changing Silicon Valley investment scene [New York Times]. They act more like a talent agency.
  • Connecting journalism to civic technology [Medium]. Actually interesting.
  • “The passive-aggressive war between Krugman and Brooks” [New York Magazine].
  • “Area Media Company Makes Money” [The Atlantic]. The Onion’s business model; they seem to be doing fine without print.
  • AJ+ reported on Baltimore using only mobile phones [Poynter Institute].
  • Man’s synaesthesia allows him to taste words [Vice]. Say, that happens to me when I listen to Obama!
  • Eerie sounds from space, 22 miles above the earth’s surface [Live Science].

* * *

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 (Alex):

too many photos to keep 718

Happy birthday, Alex.

I’d like more pictures of people’s gardens. As this image very clearly shows, they don’t have to be pretty!

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. New Deal democrat

    Re:Gallup consumer spending. Since it is not seasonally adjustted, month over month readings are pointless. You have to measure YoY. March 2015 was actually $1 less than March 2014. April is $3 over April 2014. That’s the best showing so far this year. So consumers have started to spend elsewhere some of that money they haven’t had to spend at the gas pump.

  2. roadrider

    Re: Clinton/TPP

    Isquith is a Dem/Obama apologist so I read him with an enormous degree of skepticism.

    Clinton joining with Stiglitz and Warren in opposing the TPP will be just as phony as her bankster bashing. Isquith is right that the plutocrats and kleptocrats will read it as her being “full of shit” for reasons of political expediency. What he fails to realize or is too sleazy to admit is that the rest of us should view it that way too.

    1. kj1313

      Yes but I wonder if this is a bit of signaling from the Clinton team. Clinton is craven enough to flip flop to whatever position that is politically expedient.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Hard for me to engage in any of the soi disant “drama” of a Hilary “run” for president, Bernie, Elizabeth, her supposed position on TPP, what Salon did or didn’t say, etc.
        After her coronation we will all just get what we deserve: Bush Term 5, Permanent War, free pass for Wall St crime, expanded domestic spying, more destruction of the middle class, giant health care giveaways to big insurers, blah blah blah.
        Just to note: back in my day we got mad and went to the streets to stop a war, throw out a crook president, and completely change the society. Today? We are all just going gently into that not-so-good night.
        Mad about it? Get a mirror and start yelling.

        1. edmondo

          After her coronation we will all just get what we deserve: Bush Term 5, Permanent War, free pass for Wall St crime, expanded domestic spying, more destruction of the middle class, giant health care giveaways to big insurers….

          You say this like it’s a bad thing.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            You’re right, it’s a good thing. Sieg heil!
            (I think I’m just gonna stop posting)

  3. Mel

    “Power capacity at Hoover Dam, on the Arizona-Nevada border, has dropped nearly 25 percent since 2000…
    “Experts say the East Coast’s plentiful water could cost cents per gallon to Californians and provide a stable, potable water supply for small communities” [CNBC]. Solution is to deliver by rail…

    So trains could haul water up to Lake Meade, dump it in, and the generated Hydro could power the trains, d’ya think? Is this an Investment Opportunity™? Fracking was such a disappointment.

    1. hunkerdown

      For what it’s worth, the local utility districts feeding off of Detroit’s water department charge only a penny per gallon. Yet, “centS” is apparently a small price to pay for providing the indispensable social service of externalizing the costs of societal dead-weight onto those who aren’t.

    2. different clue

      No pipeline or train attempting to take Great Lakes water to anywhere outside the basin would survive the attempt.

      1. Mel

        That’s when you’d find out for sure what the U.S. dollar was really worth. If Chicago is as shaky as some suspect, and went broke, they could be offered a pittance and might decide it looked better than nothing. I’m concerned about the energy costs. The industry principals in the article thought that shipping over the mountains would be cheap. Hmmm.
        Another concern is that flow out of the St.Lawrence River is roughtly the same as out of the Mississippi. The Great Lakes form a huge body of water, but they don’t get refreshed very quickly, and while they’re faster than most aquifers, water taken out is still gone for quite a while.

    1. hunkerdown

      Probably the same squillionaires that saw FDR’s long game and understand their larger social purpose (such as it is). The signatories seem to be clustered just along the inner and outer surfaces of the sphere of acceptable discourse. It looks to me like an effort to save the Establishment from itself. Just a little one, since only a little more time is needed for The Market to have entrapped all life forms within its perverse logic.

  4. Anon

    Re: Hedges

    This paragraph struck out at me, especially as it runs counter to the Bernie hype that’s been swelling here over the past few days, from Nader no less:

    “The only way you can get the parties’ attention is if you take votes away from them,” Ralph Nader told me by phone. “So,” he said of Sanders, “How serious is he? He makes Clinton a better phony candidate. She is going to have to agree with him on a number of things. She is going to have to be more anti-Wall Street to fend him off and neutralize him. We know it is [expletive]. She will betray us once she becomes president. He is making her more likely to win. And by April he is done. Then he fades away.”

    1. Jess

      Nader could be correct. OTOH, what if Bernie proves to be a Eugene McCarthy type? What if he pulls such high numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire that he becomes seen as the front runner even if he’s technically not? Or what if he actually leads, wins the Iowa caucuses and/or the NH vote? Last time I looked, NH was right next door to Vermont, so almost home field. And if Bernie were to succeed in such a fashion, I’m betting that it would re-energize a whole lot of people who have been sitting on the sidelines to get back in the game with contributions, volunteering, etc.

      Not for a minute believing Bernie is a magical solution, but if he hangs in long enough and well enough, he could tap into that simmering populist rage percolating among the great mass of voters.

      1. Carolinian

        McCarthy knocked out Johnson but then faded as Bobby Kennedy became the front runner before being shot. There’s no Kennedy waiting in the wings now. I think we can all agree that there’s not a snowball’s chance of Sanders actually becoming the Dem nominee.

        Nader’s cynicism seems all too justified.

        1. Propertius

          McCarthy knocked out Johnson but then faded as Bobby Kennedy became the front runner before being shot.

          And as a result, we got Richard Nixon.

          1. alex morfesis

            ralef nadyr (mr beirut)…I mean ralph nader, should shut up…
            tired old loser that he is……ok…that felt good…better now…

            sanders can win by changing the way campaigns are run. The US of A has (thankfully) no parliamentary system (technically) which leads to a big daddy big momma electioneering situation…

            third party candidates falter since people have a reasonable question…

            how will you govern…

            in a parliamentary system, the opposition will have a “shadow” government and the voting public has a clue what they might expect…
            If Col. Sanders is gonna make a real run for it…he has to put on the table who he will govern with…pick your cabinet now…and let them be a shadow cabinet, getting people used to what to expect…even if they are not the actual cabinet in the end, they will (hopefully) be able to speak about specific areas of policy and defuse any attacks that may come his way…and will also show his capacity to govern…it is a risk, but the only way to throw off the Karl Roves and Donna Braziles of the world is to throw them something they have never seen before…

            then again, it could just be the ithakan in me who likes to confuse the opposition at every turn…

    2. RanDomino

      Hedges has written the same article for YEARS and not organized one damn thing. He’s nothing but a demagogue.
      Nice to see he’s finally changed his mind re: rioting, though (first paragraph second page).

  5. BobW

    “The Green/Libertarian effort would open debate to any party with 270 electoral votes-worth of ballout access.”
    What clause in the Constitution mentions balls-out?

    1. jo6pac

      The lovely lady not only took down the mighty h-p but didn’t do lucent any favors during the dot-com bust.

      Fiorina had been an executive at AT&T and its equipment and technology spinoff, Lucent, before being chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005 when she was forced to resign.

  6. Or let the Tupemaros handle it

    Natasha McKenna should set the precedent for punishing breaches of Convention Against Torture Article 16, since the Committee Against Torture specifically cited electrical shock of restrained persons as an example. Under US precedent, no official torturer gets prosecuted for anything unless the victim is tortured to death, as McKenna was. So here’s the USG’s chance to have something to say for itself in the UPR next week: prosecute criminal scumbag Stacey Kincaid for his torture chamber.

  7. Carolinian

    Your Bloomberg Cruz et.al. story actually links to a CFR “backgrounder.” At any rate the confab apparently not important enough to make my local newspaper website.

    The thing to remember about SC is that while it is quite rightwing, it’s a Chamber of Commerce flavor of rightwing. There’s not a lot of raving about Sharia law etc. It’s more the kind of conservatism that BMW or Michelin executives would be comfortable with. Sanford, the fiscal conservative swinger, could be the archetype.

    In other words….it’s all about the moolah.

  8. ex-PFC Chuck

    “[Obama] acknowledged it’s a hard vote and he made it clear that if any of them needed and wanted him to campaign for them, he would support them on the campaign trail, the staffer said” [KETV].

    Treason ought to be a hard vote.

    1. edmondo

      The man who took a 60 vote Democratic senate and singlehandedly brought them down to 44 seats is offering to help the few remaining democrats in the senate with election help? How? by campaigning for their opponents?

      1. jo6pac

        There is always room for improvement for 0, do I hear 22 seats? I think all 0 group will hear from demodogs running is the sound of silence.

      2. Pat

        Typical political wisdom, based on the idea that because he garnered more votes then the Democratic senate candidate in the years where he was running for President means he can convince people to come out to vote for them in a year when he is not on the ballot. This despite all evidence that when there is not a Presidential election people aren’t interested. See, those coattails no longer exist because he won’t be wearing a coat, but hey why let facts like the depressed midterm turnouts where he wasn’t on the ballot get in the way indicate the value of his merely being a campaign ornament for someone. I mean that doesn’t help the President pass a flaming turd that destroys our ability to govern ourselves if it gets in the way of some corporations’ imaginary profits, but will garner him a highly lucrative “retirement”.
        God forbid the rest of America have a lucrative retirement, a living wage, a job with benefits, those things are for ‘winners’ in a completely rigged game.

  9. cwaltz

    Kaine’s aide says he opposes TPP. That doesn’t mean he won’t cave per se but as of now he’s in the NO camp.

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