2:00PM Water Cooler 8/5/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


List of traitors in House and Senate, with phone numbers. Hat tip, reader Vatch. Be sure to visit them when they return to the district this week. If a traitor is mentioned in Water Cooler, their name is in bold.

Australia: “The last second stumble at the finish line in Hawaii over the weekend should be celebrated. Who knows, it may even steel the resolve of our politicians at the next round to resist any move to extend patents and oppose any push by multinational corporations to further undermine Australian sovereignty” [The Drum]. Smarting from the Philip Morris ISDS lawsuit in Singapore.

New Zealand: “Asked whether TPP had the luxury of waiting until after the Canadian elections, Key said: ‘No. I don’t think so'” [Scoop].

“Final negotiations over the trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are not like a checkers game with Congress, pitting two branches of government and two parties against each other. Rather, all 12 nations are asserting their particular economic and political interests in a multiple-dimension chess match, with one problem often setting off another” [New York Times]. “Economic, that is, political….” Fixed it for ya.


Readers, I need a really good campaign travel tracker. At the National Journal, nobody told the JavaScript dude to consider UX. Any suggestions?


“Six key policy issues in the Republican primary election” [Telegraph].


The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds dropping support among primary voters for the former Florida governor and the former U.S. secretary of state. And among the electorate at large, views of the two candidates are increasingly negative” [Wall Street Journal, “Troubling Trends: Where Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush Are Weakening”].


“Anti-‘oligarch’ Gingrich questions legality of Jeb super PAC [Politico]. ““I think it’s very frightening. I don’t think the Founding Fathers intended for the U.S. to be an oligarchy,” said Gingrich – himself the recipient of an estimated $20 million contribution from billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife in 2012.”

“A wealthy oligarchy of donors is dominating the 2016 election” [Editorial Board, WaPo]. As with Gingrich, there has to be a word for people who wring their hands over a situation they worked tirelessly to bring about. Probably the Germans have it, like they have schadenfreude. But I don’t know what it is.

“56 individuals and companies gave at least $1 million to 30 candidate-specific super PACs. Those donations totaled $115 million, or nearly half of the money raised by all the super PACs, and nearly a third raised by all the super PACS and actual presidential campaigns put together” [National Journal]. I could have filed this under Class Warfare, too… 

“[Bush’s] campaign earlier released his tax returns and said his net worth is about $19 million to $22 million. That’s more than 14 times what it was when he left office in early 2007. Bush hasn’t disclosed all of his consulting clients” [Bloomberg].

The former Florida governor has LLCs all over the place, including one that applied for a trademark for his campaign logo, “JEB!”

And others for money laundering book deals.

“Bush earned over $9 million from business, speaking gigs” in the last 17 months  [AP].

“Bernie Sanders Clearly In Pocket Of High-Rolling Teacher Who Donated $300 To His Campaign” [The Onion].

The Trail

“[The rally in Wausa, WI] was just one of 3,725 rallies nationwide hosted by volunteers to support Sanders. Even in central Wisconsin, this is one of many rallies, with events in Stevens Point, Plover, Wisconsin Rapids and Westboro” [Wausau Daily Herald]. That really is impressive.

New Hampshire: “WMUR poll: Clinton leads by 6 percentage points as Sanders edges closer,” within poll’s 5.9 percent margin of error [WMUR].

Trump on debates: “If I’m attacked I have to, you know, do something back, but I’d like it to be very civil” [ABC]. Not merely “civil,” mind you. For the operational definition of “do something back,” see video here, at “Trump the Kayfabe Master.” Readers, I’ve been scratching my head about whether oppo on Trump is even possible, and no doubt the pros with hair are tearing it out. Are there any professional wrestling fans out there? Does anyone know of a WWF wrestler, say, who was drummed out of the profession for some infraction once he was on the circuit? (Hulk Hogan has had a recent racism eruption, but with exceptionally bad timing, and isn’t Hogan past his sell-by date anyhow? And Latino eruptions haven’t held Trump back, either.)

“Biden has little rationale to enter the race this late except as a break-glass-in-case-of-Clinton-emergency candidate” [Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight].

“Biden pulls proportionally from all the Democratic candidates, [and] does not have an obvious camp of support right now” [FiveThirtyEight].

Clown Car

“How Donald Trump Can Win” [Washington Free Beacon]. Awesome. But I think for most hardworking American families, Trump is already a winner.


Jade Helm: “Texans, in particular, lost their minds. They worried that the drill was in fact a furtive plot to seize their guns and appeared in droves at community meetings with operational planners to none-too-gently express their disapproval” [Rolling Stones]. Crazy stuff. You’d think the government had grabbed everybody’s digital papers and effects, or that the Feds had executed U.S. citizens with drone strikes and no due process, or those same U.S. citizens were being whacked by cops on a daily basis with impunity. Oh, wait…. All that happened, and not a peep from these guys. I don’t understand right wing politics at all. Did they not notice these things? What was the trigger with Jade Helm?

Our Nation’s Capital

Obama’s speech on Iran nukes deal [WaPo]. Give credit, I think Obama’s actually managed to do the right thing here, and IMNSHO anything that reduces the corrosive and corrupting Israeli influence on the American foreign policy establishment is a good thing. We’re bad enough all on our own, mkay?

Stats Watch

“Fed not yet decided whether to hike rates in Sept – Powell” [Reuters].

“Stubbornly low yields on long-term bonds suggest investors are worried about the economic outlook” [Wall Street Journal, ”The Federal Reserve Is Ready for Rate Increases, but Bond Market Is Skeptical “].

ADP Employment Report, July 2015: “Friday’s employment report will be a flop, based on ADP’s estimate for private payrolls which it sees rising only 185,000,” although “ADP has a spotty record” [Bloomberg]. Below the low estimate. And: “Employment is a rear view indicator, and looking at this ADP data – the overall trend for the year-over-year rate of growth has been flat since mid-2010” [Econintersect].

Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index, July 2015: “maintained its record high” [Bloomberg]. “43 percent of workers saying their employer is hiring.”

International Trade, June 2015: “A rise in imports made for a slightly wider-than-expected trade gap in June of $43.8 billion. Imports rose 1.2 percent reflecting a rise in petroleum imports” [Bloomberg]. “[A]nother strong surplus for services,” continued weakness in manufacturing. And: “Econintersect is most concerned with imports as there is a clear recession link to import contraction” [Econintersect]. Bulls, rejoice?

PMI Services Index, July 2015: “Service sector growth is accelerating” [Bloomberg]. “With gains in orders come gains in hiring which the report describes as ‘robust.’ But optimism in the 12-month outlook, perhaps rattled by the outlook for the global economy, is down for a second straight month to a 3-year low.”

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, July 2015: “ISM’s non-manufacturing sample reports a giant surge of strength, to 60.3 for the July index and the highest reading in 10 years. The result far surpasses expectations” [Bloomberg]. (“This index covers services, construction, mining, agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting.”)

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of July 31, 2015: “A drop in rates helped boost mortgage activity” [Bloomberg]. Purchase applications up 23% year-on-year. And: “While still historically very low, purchase apps are now way up over last year’s particularly depressed levels. Some are replacing all cash buyers, but the increase is also in line with increased existing home sales” [Mosler Economics]. “While new home sales were soft, turnover of existing homes has been increasing, and while not directly increasing GDP, existing home sales are generally associated with purchases of furniture, appliances, and other home improvements, and of course real estate commissions.”

“MBS investors need to ‘keep a close watch on repo’ as Fed initiates O/N RRP; will be ‘on-the-job training’ for everyone and may increase funding costs, tighten financing” [Across the Curve].

“I track the daily real time Federal Withholding Tax data [here]. The year to year growth rate in withholding taxes in real time is now running +2.9% in nominal terms. Over the past week the growth rate has dropped sharply after being remarkably consistent around +5-6% since April” [Econintersect]. Readers?


“For the second straight year, an enormous algae bloom has settled upon Lake Erie, generating nasty toxins right where the city of 400,000 draws its tap water” [Mother Jones]. “Toledo’s fertilizer-haunted water supply is hardly an isolated case. Similar situations persist throughout the Corn Belt, from Ohio in the east to Nebraska in the west.”

“A deepening drought in Puerto Rico that has affected 2.5 million people forced the government on Wednesday to extend severe water rationing measures to more communities that are already struggling with an economic crisis” [New York Times].

“Across [California], 12 million trees died over the past year due to lack of water, according to the U.S. Forest Service. While the bulk of those deaths occurred outside urban areas, conservationists and officials are now focusing on cities, where mandated water reductions are becoming visible in drying limbs and scorched leaves” [San Jose Mercury News].

“California’s drought police, slapped down in court just a few weeks ago, have been cleared to go after water districts accused of illegally diverting water” [Sacramento Bee].

“In July, a key [California] index of delta smelt abundance hit zero for the first time since the survey began in 1959. Researchers found a handful of smelt, but the number was too small to register on the population gauge” [CBS]. “The delta smelt has been at the center of vicious water fights between farmers, fishermen, cities and environmentalists ever since it was listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1993. It was listed as an endangered under state law in 2010.”

“How does a drought form? Simply put, a consistent lack of rain over a long period of time will eventually lead to drought conditions. Here in the [North Carolina] Triad, we’ve had eight months in a row where we’ve been drier than average” [WFMY].

Dear Old Blighty 

“So you want to sell off the NHS? The 67-year old behemoth has radically improved people’s quality of life for nearly a century, so it won’t be easy. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide to privatising the health service” [Guardian]. Seems familiar.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Charles Koch, left, and Michael Lomax, president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund, speak during an interview at the Freedom Partners Summit on Aug. 3, 2015” [WaPo]. “The conversation took place in Koch’s private suite at the St. Regis Monarch Beach, where he greeted Lomax as “my buddy” when the college fund president arrived at the door.”

Traffic stop. Needless police escalation. Motorist reacts out of fear, defense. Motorist shot. Lather. Rinse. Repeat  [New Orleans Advocate].

“White Americans who live in more diverse communities — where census data show at least 25 percent of the population is non-white — were more likely than other whites to say police in their communities mistreat minorities, 58 percent to 42 percent. And they’re more likely to see the police as too quick to use deadly force, 42 percent to 29 percent” [AP].


“Despite earlier denials, Sarawak Report has now accessed documents and emails, which detail how Jho Low [see this New York Times story] has provided payments for millions of dollars worth of diamonds purchased by Prime Minister [Najib]’s wife” [Sarawak Report].  How cozy. The $700 million that somehow ended up in Najib’s personal bank account in the 1MDB scandal struck me as so large that a state actor should be considered as a source, but now that we see military dictator- or Wall Street banker-levels of looting, $700 million seems more like business as usual. Just more loose cash floating around and ending up where fingers are stickiest.

“Adding further to concerns that the four-year old CFPB, created under Dodd-Frank to stop these serial bank abuses of unsophisticated customers, is more lite-touch regulation, is the fact that as the CFPB was applying the wrist-slap of the $35 million penalty to Citigroup, which had $7.3 billion in profits last year, the CFPB was opening a new investigation into Citigroup’s abuse of student loans held by struggling college students” [Wall Street on Parade]. Recidivism.

“Evidence from the prosecution of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow potentially implicates a wide array of city and state leaders, including Mayor Ed Lee, in alleged bribery schemes, pay-to-play plots, campaign fund laundering and state construction contract rigging” [San Francisco Examiner]. This keeps happening in Democratic jurisdictions… 

Class Warfare

ACLU on The South Texas Family Residential Center, an immigrant detention center: “We have a name for locking people up and forcing them to do real work without wages. It’s called slavery” [Los Angeles Times]. Of course, it’s privatized and “run by Geo Group, the country’s second-largest prison company.” Ka-ching.

“People’s choice: Eleanor Roosevelt for the $10 bill” [McClatchy]. Eighty years later, and the brand of that President and that kind of Democrat still has plenty of good will on the asset side. Does anybody think for a minute that Obama or today’s Democrats will achieve anything remotely similar?

“Can we reverse the ageing process by putting young blood into older people?” [Guardian]. No doubt the first results will only be available to the very rich, and the blood come from the very poor. But cue the intergenerational warfare metaphors. Count! 10… 9…. 8…. 

News of the Wired

“Disclosure Disrupts the Zero-Day Market” [Another Word For It].

“Hacker shows he can locate, unlock and remote start GM vehicles” [Computerworld].

“The Web of Relationships We Have To Save” [Medium]. Perspective from Tahrir Square.

Mapping 400 hundred years of history for one New York City block on Greene Street [Wired].

Japan’s WWII atom bomb project [Los Angeles Times]. “Chieko Takeuchi, widow of the atomic scientist, recalled her husband saying, ‘If we’d built the bomb first, of course we would have used it. I’m glad, in some ways, that our facilities were destroyed.'”

If you sense a lot of free-floating anger about, this close analysis of a “road rage” video is for you [Vice]. Spoiler: Bicyclist for the win.

And speaking of free-floating anger: “Two arrested after parts of meth lab found in Taco Bell” [KWWL]. In Cedar Rapids. That’s Iowa nice?

A search engine that operates under Swiss privacy law [Hulbee]. Claims to be innovative and semantic; it gave me a good hit on how to kill cucumber beetles (which I don’t really need to all that much, thank you!) I’d welcome a Google replacement; ever since Google decided they wanted to be Facebook, their results have gotten worse and worse. I don’t want you to optimize for me, because I want to be able to find what I don’t already know! Sheesh.

* * *

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:


I’m proud of my first sunflower — because the deer didn’t eat it, unlike years past — so here it is. And the bumblebees this year are so enormous, I can see them pollinating it all the way from desk on the other side of the garden. (The odd angle is partly to avoid flare, partly to use that perennial for background.)

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up! And take a trip….


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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. LarryB

    I seem to recall a ‘rassler getting fired after he attacked a fan at ringside a few years ago. Really attacked, not kayfabe.

    1. vidimi

      yeah, the driver is an angry, working class cocker but the cyclist didn’t exactly cover himself in glory either. after the initial dangerous pass, he followed the dumb driver down several blogs just to escalate the situation. when it came down to a confrontation, he turned yellow and bolted. i would have been pissed off at the guy for a few seconds but then i’d let it go.

  2. Gabriel

    Apropos Jeb’s tax return and the use of “book advances” as a way of laundering bribes, I remember from Ames’ and Taibbi’s book that this, as so much else in 21st century American politics, was pioneered in shock-neoliberalized Russia during the 90s (link is to contemporary NYT report).

    1. Vatch

      Huh! I’ve often wondered how politicians and ex-politicians could get such lucrative advances for their books. Even though I’m interested in politics, I rarely have any desire to read a book by one of the Clintons, one of the Bushes, or Bob Dole, or Richard Nixon, etc. Are there really millions of people who want to read this stuff? Yet ex-Presidents, ex-Vice Presidents, ex-Presidential candidates, ex-cabinet officers often get advances totaling millions of dollars. How do the publishers make a profit after flushing so much money into the advance payments to the authors?

      Perhaps the publishers make arrangements with some “investors” who put up some or all of the money for the advances to the authors. Of course the “investors” don’t need to get a return on their “investments”, since the ex-office holders already provided them with favors worth far more than the amount of the advances.

      More evidence of just how naive I am: I never thought of this until now. Thank you, Lambert and Gabriel!

      1. alex morfesis

        most neutertainment is sold in various pieces like a horse and gets syndicated, often with different rights being sold off in different markets…most hollywood films today do not get made until after the actors have been signed up and used to sell off rights to various global markets, and that cash leads to the movie getting made…

        in that same vein, a book will get sold globally with different publishers buying various rights…so it is quite easy to make it look like a clean deal…someone buys the rights to the book in upper snoristan and oh well…no one bought the books…print a first edition of 5 thousand copies and then stack em up at the back of the dollar store…you win some you lose some…just normal course of busy ness…nothing to see here folks…keep moving please…

        hollywood does the same with the 14 day tax free rental rule…ever notice how sometimes it seems you have seen that house in another movie…20 grand per day times 14 days is a nice chunk of tax free money per year…done also with golfing…hospitality suites on major courses…corporation rents out home or condo on a golf course for “meetings”…at some crazy number…and the funds are tax free…

        a non taxable event…

  3. diptherio

    The mathbabe has an interesting suggestion for Uber drivers to game the system:

    Uber drivers’ collective action problem

    Uber drivers prefer surges, since they get paid more, and sometimes much more.

    That means Uber drivers have a great incentive to game the system and create artificial surges. One way they can do this is by waiting outside an area that might become surge, wait for it to become surge, and then go into that area and swoop up a rider.

    But it would make a lot more sense for drivers to work together to do this. Imagine what would happen if all the drivers agreed to sit together in some central location, wait for surge pricing somewhere, and then assign people in order to go get those riders. Pretty much all the rides would become surge. Again, that wouldn’t make the riders happy, but it would benefit the drivers.

    All they’d need to coordinate this is something like a walkie talkie system. Or an app. And oh, wait, such a thing already exists…

  4. Pepsi

    Jade Helm trigger for right wingers is ATF + military + Democrat president. “aAaAAIAAIaiee– AAAaiaiiiaaiaEE” — various racist gold bug nincompoops collective reaction.

      1. vidimi

        indeed. the military is probably closest to being america’s state religion, or at least one of the unholy trinity, along with capitalism. readers help me out, what’s the third?

          1. vidimi

            it’s probably this one. i was thinking of along the lines of criticising what will kill a public figure’s career? if a politician or tv personality criticises the military, capitalism or denies american exceptionalism, their career is as good as goosed for apostasy is not tolerated.

      2. Vatch

        I can’t explain it. But millions of people are trained from early childhood to have absolute faith in miracles — that’s gotta lead to plenty of irrational thinking in adulthood. This happens all over the world, not just in Texas.

        1. Brindle

          Cause and effect can be minimized because divine intervention is always a possibility. PT Barnum had a phrase, I think.

        2. hunkerdown

          As a bonus (for the Man), it primes people to accept more mundane forms of intervention uncritically. The alleged STEM shortage couldn’t possibly be the product of raising an entire generation on occasionalism…

        1. Jay M

          delusions of black helicopters (oh, wait) and APC’s painted with the UN logo–wun wurld guvurnmint!

          1. ambrit

            I don’t know who they flew for, but we did occasionally see black helicopters in St Tammany Parish back in the ’80s. The Guard, Coastguard, DEA, Air Guard, and Stennis military cohort would all overfly Hancock County Mississippi and St Tammany Parish Louisiana. A-10s from Belle Chasse Naval Air Station would use our neigbhourhood up by Bogalusa Louisiana as a turn point in their training flights. Sometimes they would do fake firing passes on “targets” near where we lived. When they get near to the ground, one sees how big those airplanes really are.
            An older manufacturing warehouse workshop in Slidell Louisiana had a contract to refurbish light armour from the Iraq adventure. Mainly consisting of light armoured cars, mostly M1117s if I remember correctly. I have heard from an employee from there that the first thing the crew would do is pressure wash the inside of the vehicle. Many of them had been shot up, and there was still blood and ‘pieces’ inside some.
            Several times we would hear rumours of the paint crews doing one up in Soviet of Fourth Reich paint schemes, but I never saw one. The Power of Myth still moves through our cultures.

            1. Pepsi

              It’s one of those conspiracy ironies. There were black helicopters in drug war roles and in testing of the bin laden assassination stealth models.

              The same sort of truth laid in the original ufo sightings. Secret aircraft testing produced “ufo sightings” and pilots sometimes wore masks while buzzing civilian aircraft, for a laugh. The government promoted the alien theory so that details of aircraft testing wouldn’t become public.

      3. JTMcPhee

        Cognitive dissonance, to the nth? “The military” is not equal to “the government…” The militiary does not COLLECT taxes (yet), it just SPENDS taxes… and all those guns ‘n cool uniforms that keep getting changed out for new camo patterns and pocket locations every coupla years, ka-CHING!

        http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/08/06/army-unveils-design-changes-for-new-camo-uniform.html (Note that the existing camo pattern and uniform were “embattled…” Texans, and others love that Schitt…)


        The Very Official Carefully Crafted FAQs from *ARMY*: http://www.army.mil/asu/faq.html

        I read that it costs a couple of billion just to manage and update the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, JP 1-02. And that dictionary does not contain a definition, in terms, of “war,” or “victory,” or “success,” or even “progress,” and the definitions of “insurgent” and “terrorist” and so many other terms have to be kept up to date with the Narrative…http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf Want some fun reading, have a nice sense of the sardonic, and a few hours to waste like us disabled vets do? Dip into the military mindset, see what your Real Wealth is going towards, and how much of it in any way contributes to “security,” or even “hegemony”…

      4. Oregoncharles

        It’s kayfabe. The right wing hissy fit serves to cover up the real problem, which is that they’re practicing counter-insurrection, population suppression techniques IN and FOR the US.

        I think NC actually linked a piece on this. Darn, doesn’t look like I bookmarked it.

        1. jrs

          Of course that’s one of the potential uses (as is another imperial war like they claim), to not think domestic uses could be one of the potential uses is to be as trusting as a baby. But again it’s kind of too obvious to point out – unlike ridiculous Obama just hates red states theories.

      5. knowbuddhau

        You’re missing the mythology. Many on the right, especially white supremacists, are convinced the UN’s Agenda 21 is a *demonic program to take over the world. Throw that into your keyword mix. For example, Phase Two of Jade Helm 15 Is Emerging

        Jade Helm 15 will not likely stop with two phases and I know for a fact that this list of Jade Helm 15 applications will grow. Not surprisingly, the United Nations will be involved every step of the way.

        We on the left (such as it is) don’t get these people because, by and large, we think we’ve “busted” all myths. We think that, with our Western science, we have the one true revelation, and we dismiss out of hand any consideration of the power of myth to *move people. We think much too scientifically when it comes to understanding the right in general, and especially white supremacists.

        Want to understand the right, especially the extremists? Develop an appreciation for the power of myth to move people with no rational thought required.

        The following statement, by the British poet and critic A. E. Housman, supplies the most satisfactory definition I know of a certain triggering principle that is effective in the poetic impact:

        Poetry seems to me more physical than intellectual. A year or two ago, in common with others, I received from America


        a request that I would define poetry. I replied that I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat, but that I thought we both recognized the object by the symptoms which it provokes in us. One of these symptoms was described in connection with another object by Eliphaz the Temanite: “A spirit passed before my face: the hair of my flesh stood up.” Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morn­ing, to keep watch over my thoughts, because if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act. This particular symptom is accompanied by a shiver down the spine; there is another which consists in a constriction of the throat and a precipitation of water to the eyes; and there is a third which I can only describe by borrow­ing a phrase from one of Keats’s last letters, where he says, speaking of Fanny Brawne, “everything that reminds me of her goes through me like a spear.” The seat of this sensation is the pit of the stomach.

        The reader hardly need be reminded that the images not only of poetry and love but also of religion and patriotism, when effec­tive, are apprehended with actual physical responses: tears, sighs, interior aches, spontaneous groans, cries, bursts of laughter, wrath, and impulsive deeds. Human experience and human art, that is to say, have succeeded in creating for the human species an en­vironment of sign stimuli that release physical responses and direct them to ends no less effectively than do the signs of nature the instincts of the beasts. The biology, psychology, sociology, and history of these sign stimuli may be said to constitute the field of our subject, the science of Comparative Mythology. And although no one has yet devised an effective method for distinguishing be­tween the innate and the acquired, the natural and the culturally conditioned, the “elementary” and the “ethnic” aspects of such human-cultural catalysts and their evoked responses, the radical distinction here made by the poet Housman between images that act upon our nervous structure as energy releasers and those that serve, rather, for the transmission of thought, supplies an excellent criterion for the testing of our themes.

        “I cannot satisfy myself,” he writes, “that there are any such things as poetical ideas. No truth, it seems to me, is too precious, no observation too profound, and no sentiment too exalted to be


        expressed in prose. The utmost that I could admit is that some ideas do, while others do not, lend themselves kindly to poetical expression; and that these receive from poetry an enhancement which glorifies and almost transfigures them, and which is not perceived to be a separate thing except by analysis.”

        When Housman writes that “poetry is not the thing said but a way of saying it,” and when he states again “that the intellect is not the fount of poetry, that it may actually hinder its production, and that it cannot even be trusted to recognize poetry when it is produced,” he is no more than reaffirming and lucidly formu­lating the first axiom of all creative art–whether it be in poetry, music, dance, architecture, painting, or sculpture–which is, namely, that art is not, like science, a logic of references but a re­lease from reference and rendition of immediate experience: a presentation of forms, images, or ideas in such a way that they will communicate, not primarily a thought or even a feeling, but an impact. [Joseph Campbell. (1968). Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, pp.40-42. New York: Penguin. Emphasis added.]

        This, btw, is also the power of the “dog whistle.” What others don’t hear at all will raise the hackles, and the guns, of others. Looking for a “rational” explanation thereof will fail every time.

        1. Mike Sparrow

          UN 21 is a myth created by the global elite themselves.

          UN 21 is capitalist/market survival planning in a world of diminishing resources and rising population.

          If anything, the left should be freaking out of UN 21 because it is way to keep market economy surviving.

          Lets note, this came out at the dawn of the elite using conspiracy theory to manipulate the masses. The communist scam was dead, they needed something new. There is a chunk of white america that is overfed and indulgent. A nice deflationary depression would end that quick and send these “conspiracy” theories to the wasteland of past lies.

        2. vidimi

          We think much too scientifically when it comes to understanding the right in general, and especially white supremacists.

          in all honesty this, too, is a myth. at least for the most part.

      6. steelhead23

        Let me try to unpack this. The reactionary right is simply convinced of several “truths”. The U.S. Government is: (pick one or several – corrupt, anti-American, secretly working for the oligarchs to depopulate the planet, poisoning us (chemtrails), and communist). Yes, the reactionary right loves the U.S. military – it shows the rest of the world who’s boss and gives American youth the opportunity to strut its stuff. Hoo-rah. But as regards Jade Helm, Obama wants to take our guns and is sending his goons to set the stage. Yep, they’re gonna steal our guns, put us in FEMA camps, subject us to public education (communist indoctrination), and provide us only doctors with real degrees – another commie plot. The basic theory is that conspiracies abound, that government is the primary conspirator, and they wish us no good. I may share a bit of their paranoia. Clearly the U.S. Government serves the oligarchs, not the serfs. In effect they are conspiring to ensure the well-being of the oligarchs, come what may to the serfs. Maybe we’re not that different from the reactionary right – we simply have more logic and evidence on our side.

        1. Mike Sparrow

          So instead of public schools it will be private schools as plutocratic indoctrination.

          Lets see, who gets slammed all the time righties………oh that is right….public schools. Buffoons.

      7. Kfish

        Texan right wingers love Texan military. The federal military is a foreign beast, representative of a government that few of them feel an allegiance for.

        1. Bert Schlitz

          Nah, Texan types love the Federal Military especially since so many Texans are in it.

          Lets note, Leftists were whining about “war games” in the Chicago area during 2007-8 timeperiod. This is nothing new.

          Look at the “Agenda 21” scam. Agenda 21 was written how to make capitalism viable with dwindling resources and bulging population. Bam, the rick globalist takes it and uses propaganda to build a dialect.

          There are racist left wingers as well who want to dissolve capitalism and return America to national socialism of the post-war era. Would not be hard to construct a dialect for that and how the foreign capitalists are coming for us all!!!!!!!!

      8. OIFVet

        Training to implement the rounding up of patriotic, god-fearing Muricans and sending them to FEMA concentration camps?

        1. Bert Schlitz

          True, but this is dialectical however. Anybody can say that and change the wording a little.

          Dialectical fantasies are a American tradition. The New Left used to have them all the time in the post-war era.

        2. ambrit

          It’s a deadly serious subject of argument around here OIFVet. Many southerners, black and white, view the Yankees as a semi foreign people. It’s mainly tribal at root is my best guess.

          1. OIFVet

            Here’s what doesn’t make much sense to me though: from what I understand, FEMA was quite beloved in the South during Clinton’s years when it was run by James Lee Witt. Then Bush Junior had to hire Heckuvajob Brownie and ruin the Katrina non-response. Unless my timeline is incorrect, that was about the time the FEMA concentration camps thing came into being, what with the toxic Chinese formaldehyde plywood trailers. And Bush is a Texan, even if by way of Andover and Yale’s Skulls and Bones. So what gives???

            1. ambrit

              Bush might be beloved in Texas, which fact I wouldn’t rely on too much, but he is now seen quite clearly in retrospect by Southrons. Conservative Southrons have a soft spot in their hearts for him. (Distinct from the soft spot in their heads.) However, the Conservative movement has developed into a Reactionary movement. Commenters here will occasionally remark how Dick Nixon would be considered a Pinko Liberal today for his domestic policies.
              We lived in one of those Formaldehyde Trailers for a year after Katrina. No one in the MSM mentioned the formaldehyde problem that we can remember. There is a forty or fifty acre field adjacent to I-10 near Holden Louisiana full of those trailers; abandoned to rot, too toxic to even give away. (The Feds did try to give them to the Native Americans in Oklahoma at one point, but I haven’t heard anything about that in years.) That field is a symbol of the utter dysfunction of FEMA during those days. The trailers were built in a rush to fill a gigantic need for housing along the Gulf Coast after the hurricane. Little oversight was employed throughout the process. The Brown FEMA was a poster child for venal crony capitalism.
              Lest I give the impression that Brown was a one off phenomenon, the later Federal responses to the aftermath of the Katrina hurricane are as bad. The history of the Katrina Cottages, one of which we also lived in for two years, and tried to buy serve as a cautionary tale. the Cottages were well built and very livable. Something of a hybrid between a prefabbed house and a trailer, they were very well built and well designed. Super Shotgun Shacks people called them in our neck of the woods. It’s a long sad tale, but we were denied the chance to buy our cottage. The Coast in Mississippi was put under very strict new building codes. Some of the requirements were unnecessarily harsh, unless the purpose, which many present day and former Coast dwellers believe, was to gentrify the Coast. Another, more forgiving interpretation is that the new building codes for the Gulf Coast are an attempt to prepare for sea level rise.
              The lesson in all this I deduce is that FEMA was, and is, an arm of the Federal Government. That says it all.

          2. Mike Sparrow

            That can go 2 ways. Northern tribalism says the south are colonist in cahoots with evil rich foreigners.

            1. James Levy

              I was born and raised in New York and live in New England. I am 50 years old. I have never once, in my life, heard any Northerner say any such thing or write any such thing.

              1. Mike Sparrow

                and I have been down in the south and have not heard much with this “Katrina” invented FEMA theories.

                Lets be clear, I have heard northerners say time and time again the “South” never wanted the US and THEY were the real revolutionaries.

                1. ambrit

                  If Lee had listened to Longstreet and bypassed the Union forces at Gettysburg and driven towards Baltimore, the War Between the States would have been a successful revolution. But Lee was wedded to Jominis theories, which were taught at west Point then, and staged the last proper Napoleonic mass attack, and lost. Longstreet was like Sherman in that he understood the new changes industrialization was making on human warfare. He wanted to utilize the threat of the Army of Virginia to keep the Union commanders off balance and thus win through indirection. The commanders of the American War who did this were generally successful. Their campaigns are still taught in War Colleges the world over.
                  No, ‘Katrina’ did not ‘invent’ FEMA. ‘Katrina’ did destroy FEMA’s reputation. When the Tin Gods fall, Tin Devils arise to take their places in the psyche of the public. The thinking would go; FEMA can’t even deal with a hurricane. Why? What are they really focusing on? Step 2: Have you heard about those camps FEMA set up in Oklahoma? This game almost plays itself.
                  As for the North versus South meme; look up the history of the Reconstruction after the Civil War, the Copperheads, and the power struggles between Lincoln and the Copperheads over how to treat the Southern States after the war was won. That’s where the “Lost Cause” myth really started.

                2. Yves Smith

                  I have no idea where you’ve found these “northerners”. I’m a Yankee, and quite honestly, Yankees don’t think about the South anywhere near as much as Southerns seem to think they do. The South lost that war, and it needs to stop trying to relitigate it.

                  Since I come from riffraff Yankees (very old but utterly undistinguished) I don’t fully subscribe to this point of view, but I’d say it’s still pretty representative:


    1. Bert Schlitz

      Jade Helm barely got anything at all. You have to understand, most of what these people “follow” who tried to intellectually create a “conspiracy” are indeed the conspiracy. Look who they follow and look at the money behind them. Please, this is nothing new. Pure scam.

      Jade Helm was Seals,Special Forces, Green Berets and other ‘elite’ fighting units in middle eastern war games for their ‘Mus’em” fighting. Without these people the state of texas would not even exist.

  5. JTMcPhee

    Do I have it right that Trump has incorporated himself as a campaign? Or is it just a bit of inadvertent honesty that the clickbaiting ads for “Make America Great Again” are put up by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.?

    And that German word you were looking for, re the hypocrisy of woe-sayers (who profit from it, encourage and direct it)over the commercialization of corruption — would that be Büllenschitten, by chance?

    Will Gingrich and Rove and those other Schitts do a McNamara as they get near the Dead Zone, and sort of recant and seek grace without repentance or penance for the Schittt they have dumped on the rest of us?

  6. Ian

    In response to the gaurdian article on anti-aging. this site shows some very good merit http://www.molecularhydrogeninstitute.com/ It would be interesting to see if it survives the readership here. I can attest to at least some benefit though and this strikes me as the most legit explanation I can find.

  7. New Deal democrat

    In re tax withholding, Lee Adler is correct that last week through Thursday we saw the worst YoY comparison this year. But every now and then, tax withholding throws a spanner, especially around the end or beginning of a month.

    On the last day of July and the first day of August this year a total of $39.3 million was collected vs. $23.6 million last year. Since withholding runs at about $160 million a month this time of year, that is a 10% improvement. In other words, most likely last week was just an aberration.

    BTW, if you want to see historical comparisons for tax withholding payments, here is a great site although the data is delayed 3 months: http://www.dailyjobsupdate.com

    Also, you have to hire somebody and get them on the payroll first before you start paying their withheld taxes. So tax withholding lags employment.

    That being said, typically hiring leads firing both at the bottom and the top. The monthly jobs number is the net of hiring minus firing, and in the last few months, on a population adjusted basis, we have had just about the lowest amount of firing in 50 years. That means that the monthly employment numbers should have been coming in higher than least year, not a little lower as they have been. In other words, the hiring part of the equation, comparatively speaking, has gotten a little soft.

    Also temporary staffing, a good leading employment indicator, has also gone not just soft, but negative since the beginning of May:

    And same store sales both as measured by Goldman Sachs and Johnson Redbook have both turned softer in the last month or so.

    So there are some definite signs of weakness, but so long as people are buying more houses and cars — both of which they are doing at the best pace in about 8 years — I don’t think there’s any reason to be overly concerned. Now if we could just get some actual wage growth ….

    1. Mike Sparrow

      Be careful. Same stores accelerated the 2nd half of July which usually gives government bean counters accelerated numbers. The opposite happened in June.

      Temp indicators are heavily domestic oil related. Most job creation is in the service sector.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No, they do not. Some people are laboring away on that, in obscure comments. Meanwhile, I like his takes on a lot of stuff, the intersection between the political and the technical.

      1. hunkerdown

        Er, you might want to fix your link… That said, it’s lovely to watch repugnant clandestine markets get taken down by transparency of all things.

  8. Kim Kaufman

    Mon Aug 03, 2015 at 11:26 AM PDT.

    Legendary guitarist forced to stay on tour to pay his medical expenses

    Jen Hayden

    Dick Dale…still rockin’ after all these years.

    Dick Dale, the “King of the Surf Guitar”, is still on the road, playing nearly every night. Is he doing it for the love of music? Not exactly. The 78-year-old guitar legend has twice suffered rectal cancer, had parts of his stomach and intestines removed, lives with renal failure, diabetes, a damaged vertebrae and to top it all off, his wife is suffering from multiple sclerosis. And that’s why he’s still on the road. From the Pittsburgh City Paper:

    “I have to raise $3,000 every month to pay for the medical supplies I need to stay alive, and that’s on top of the insurance that I pay for,” Dale explains. “The hospital says change your patch once a week. No! If you don’t change that patch two times a day, the fecal matter eats through your flesh and causes the nerves to rot and they turn black, and the pain is so excruciating that you can’t let anything touch it. That has happened to me because I was following the orders of the hospital.”

    “Sure, I’d love to stay home and build ships in a bottle and spend time with my wife in Hawaii, but I have to perform to save my life,” he says. “I’ve been living like this for the past 15 years, but I’m still here and opening my eyes each morning.”

    He may need help to get through a show, but he’s determined to keep rocking and encourage others:

    “When I’m on stage, the pain can be excruciating. Someone has to help me up on stage because I can’t do it alone. There’s a part of my show where I play drums, and my drummer pulls my arm and my roadie pushes my butt to get up there. But I get up there.”

    “You tell the people, ‘Don’t be scared of dying,’” he says. “When your mind leaves this body, it is a beautiful thing and it is not to be feared. Don’t let that fear of dying affect the way you live.

    Good for Dick Dale for carrying on, but what a shame he has to push himself so hard just to pay for medical treatment.

      1. Ian

        On minds.com they claim to be able to wipe your fb account completely
        They are social network with some relation to anonymous.

  9. DJG

    “As with Gingrich, there has to be a word for people who wring their hands over a situation they worked tirelessly to bring about. Probably the Germans have it, like they have schadenfreude. But I don’t know what it is.”

    Now, if we would just put on the thinking caps that Dan Savage gave us, the answer is a gingrich.

    It has that nice ring of ersatz wealth, too. The condition would be ginrichery. The adjective, ginrichlicious.

    If you don’t want to go the noble route of Dan Savage, I bet that there is a Dickens character to press into service. But I don’t know Dickens well.

    1. Crazy Horse

      The Germans do have a word for a system in which government and financial wealth are amalgamated into a seamless unity by bribery and corruption. It’s called Fascism.

      1. ambrit

        Like lots of other things, the Germans stole the word ‘fascism’ from the Italians.
        Our system here in America exhibits many of the attributes of Fascism. Many of the old National Socialists would recognize the signs and begin preparing.

    2. McKillop

      Uriah Heep is quite the character. Claiming humility but being arrogant, professing honesty but conniving, lecherous and greedy.
      Gingrich is current, however, and would need no readers to be known. Hell, quisling worked and still does. The problem, I think, is that, like everything else in the U.S.A., once the idea caught on it would be overused and abused to the point of uselessness. Was the technique not tried with politicians during g. bush’s terms?

  10. JTMcPhee

    “This keeps happening in Democratic jurisdictions… ” You mean, like Chicago, where I grew up? where “Democrat”-cy was just a historical accident? But maybe it’s just a category error — applying a “brand” to an oligarchy that in the real world is no respecter of persons?

    At what point is it unarguably wasted electrons to follow what happens to the figureheads that distract us mopes and keep us attached to “brands” and the Forever Kayfabe? But it is fun,in a perverse way, to follow the handicapping and flights of rhetoric from all the players and their coat-and bag-holders

    1. OIFVet

      The city that sprung to my mind within a nanosecond was Chicago, fer sure. Between the Teflon Daleys, The Machine, the aldercreatures, and the local judges, corruption is just the cost of living in the city. Particularly the construction racket and the City hiring. The Shakman Decree managed to curb the worst excesses of the latter, but fake Machine-connected “employees” collecting paychecks is still happening. Then there’s the construction and contracting racket: Golden Shovel, Hired Truck, the Millenium Park 100% cost overruns, the Park Grill contract, the fake minority contractors, the parking meter deal, etc. And never a Daley or an aldercreature within spitting distance of a jail cell.

  11. Mark Gisleson

    Iowa has always been notorious for manufacturing and distribution of amphetamines. The first really big coke bust of the ’80s in AZ was run by classmates from a Des Moines high school. In fact perhaps one of the most brutal movies made about methamphetamines is named, “Iowa.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372346/

  12. Aj

    Texas trigger was Bundy ranch. Lots of good ol boys woke up when blm showed up with guns. Generally, people are waking up across the social spectrum. The sheriff now has more respect than the military in many places. This can’t bode well for .gov and they’re waking up to that as well.

    1. Bert Schlitz

      Except Bundy broke the law and they the law came calling after Bundy whined about Harry Reid financed alternative energy plant. Bundy is also a globalist tied to global Mormonism. There was no wake up call. They are scum and globalist themselves.

      You can’t get it, can you?

    2. Mike Sparrow

      Can’t buy that aj.

      1.Bundy is a millionare that had for 15 years not paid his fees. How could anybody be scared of any government that lets that kind of “lawlessness”?
      2.Bundy was mad at Harry Reid for giving public land to a solar company. Bundy then pestered Harry Reid
      3.Reid tells the BLM to take Bundy’s cattle off the land until he pays his fee
      4.Reid stupidly tells the Sheriff of the plan to collect on Clivensteins fees
      5.Sheriff and Cliven thinks it would be good PR to have a “fake” standoff with mormon backed miltias and the BLM.
      6.The media once again, thinks this is a big deal.

      At some point, people are going to get it. It all runs together nicely. Bundy is in deep with the global elite. The other ranchers he shares the land with, can’t stand the guy.

  13. alex morfesis

    guardian story on old vampires…taking the blood of the young…sports has some issues with athletes just getting blood to energize themselves…but if you are truly rich and old, you can have foreign sexretaries…or wet nurses take care of you as john d Rockefeller did in his later years…mothers milk…and graham crackers…hmmmm…what did peter sellers tell warren beatty’s sister…about watching…


    is this where the folks on milwaukee avenue in chicago got the idea for the name of the publication…IN t/t

  14. sheepy

    “I voted in support of TPA to rein in the President on trade discussions.” Yes, Congressman Darrell Issa actually has that in an email I just received today in response to one I sent to him prior to the TPA votes. Read the entire email. His staff writer must have had a heart attack trying to make it appear Issa’s vote was in opposition to Obama,

    “Thank you for contacting me regarding transparency in trade negotiations and agreements. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

    Trade agreements are crucial to our economy and American jobs. According to Business Roundtable, U.S. trade activities support 1 in 5 American jobs – that’s over 38 million jobs across the country. Nearly 100,000 people within California’s 49 th Congressional District and over 4.7 million people throughout California have jobs related to trade.

    The Constitution grants the president the ability to negotiate treaties, but requires Congress to approve, dividing powers between the two branches. The ability of the president to achieve the most advantageous trade agreement for our country is enhanced through Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), often called “fast-track” authority. Under TPA, Congress places specific requirements on the president’s negotiations for a guarantee in return that Congress will consider an agreement in a timely fashion.

    Because of the 2007 expiration of TPA, President Barack Obama has been able to act unilaterally in trade discussions and keep America in the dark regarding the specifics surrounding agreements, such as with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    I voted in support of TPA to rein in the President on trade discussions. TPA strengthens Congress’ role in trade discussions by requiring transparency of text, directing objectives, and mandating published updates throughout negotiations. This Administration has gained our distrust, which is why empowering Congress in negotiations is imperative to uphold the balance of power.

    I will remain a strong advocate of free trade while demanding transparency from the Administration. To stay updated, please visit my website at http://www.issa.house.gov .


    Darrell Issa
    Member of Congress”

  15. OIFVet

    Re: White Americans who live in more diverse communities. Makes sense, it’s hard for any halfway decent human being to ignore what happens right in front of him or her. In my neighborhood, we got two police forces: the CPD and UChicago police. The latter has full police powers and patrols other neighborhoods also. I see them pulling over and searching black drivers on average once a week. I am yet to see them pull over and search a white driver. Then there’s the harassment of black students on campus, and sending undercover officers to infiltrate student and community protests against the University’s refusal to open a much needed Trauma Care center on the South Side. I had linked to coverage of these scandals some time ago, and if anything the community is getting even more adamant about curbing the private police powers, to the point where our state representative has been forced to awaken from her long nap and take notice.

  16. Eureka Springs

    I find it all rather amusing… lefty’s chastising righty’s for belief in myth.

    Yves posts on optimists immediately come to mind in re left. And I spent years moderating over at FDL with endless threads of lefty’s wringing their hands over much the same concerns – just what uncle damned might be up too. We have enough facts to know it’s (whether left or right controlled) an endless stream of atrocities now.

    Not only is it irresponsible not to speculate from time to time, it is foolish not to think horrific actions are and will take place in a society with so much government secrecy allowed.

    That said, I am also amazed at what the horrific story of one murdered lion can stir while countless dead people ( #BLM, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Ukraine, etc.) don’t even garner a yawn.

    1. Mike Sparrow

      You gotta be kidding me. Those dead people were talked and talked and talked over and over again.

      That story simply has run out. There is not much to talk about and Cecil was a popular cat that shows the pigness that is poaching. It went along to long, but there just isn’t much new going on. I mean, it is summer dead season.

      Right/Left nonsense is hilarious. I am generally conservative, but in a non-christian sense. I find myself, much like people on here showing freaking David “I wanna be Alex Jones, a spy for Israel” Hodges threads as funny as hell.

      Lets face it. The world is politically shattered. Nobody can gain traction on politics anymore. There is no great movement.

      1. Yves Smith

        Cecil was also an exceptionally handsome lion, and the idea that the dentist had spent $54,000 to kill him, and presumably in that ballpark on his other (numerous) trophy kills, probably also stuck in people’s throats.

        We are wiping out entire species. The human induced-species mass dieoff is well underway and will have consequences tat makes the atrocities you listed look trivial. If it takes the deaths of pretty animals to get people off their duffs about the role of overpopulation and animal habitat loss, it’s way better than no action.

    1. OIFVet

      The power of art indeed. Also got him thrown out by The Great Orange Satan, they didn’t like his depictions of Barry Obama.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Rall also writes; he’s one of our most radical commentators. Might be the real reason LATimes got rid of him.

      He was calling for outright revolution about 2012, but If you SEE him, he looks like a mild-mannered accountant. Considerable cognitive dissidence.

  17. Tom

    Three years ago I spent a week on the farm of distant relatives (I am German) in Texas. Now granted those people had views on social policy that your average liberal will certainly not agree with. But they also weren´t stupid. Not at all. They all had had good educations at boarding schools before they became farmers. They had a fierce and independent mindset and resented the intrusion of the government. And Monsanto, big Agrobis and fracking. The neighbours recognized their higher education and asked them to head the fight against the fracking companies. They were still dithering when I left and I don´t know what came of the whole thing. One thing I know though for certain: they and their neighbours are well aware of ever increasing government intrusion and they deeply resent the militarised approach to policing that is now common in the States. Waco isn´t far and everybody knows what happened there. Maybe all you liberals should check your prejudices first before laughing about these rednecks. In my mind they have very good reason to be suspicous if the military starts exercising in their area.

    1. Lambert Strether

      You’re right, and I should have drawn a parallel to Maine, where we fight landfills and not fracking, including plenty of people who are as conservative as they come.

      That said, are we talking about the same populations, here? I tend o think of very right wing politics as a fun house mirror… Right on global elites, but wrong target on Agenda 21 and so on…

      1. OIFVet

        Frankly, I object to the broadbrushing the audience here as “liberals”. I am becoming more convinced daily that the old labels don’t apply anymore, if they ever did in the first place. Since when is conservation a “liberal” domain, when the very root of the word is one that is shared with “conservative”, and it was “conservative” Teddy Roosevelt who created the national park system? I find myself holding a mixture of “conservative”, “liberal”, “anarchist”, and “socialist” beliefs, so how should I label myself? Perhaps “left wing” most broadly, but what does that even mean today?

        FWIW, in answer to your question I would say that “conservatives” and “right wingers” are separate but occasionally overlapping groups.

      2. Tom

        Let me portrait them: they are very hard working people that take the bible literally. They view Wall Street and both coasts with disgust. They are extremely socially conservative and don´t like Green politics. But that is mainly because of the whole animus towards them from the East coast elites. If you get down to the details they have a very hard fight on their hands. Being squeezed by the seed companies they very well see that the Agrobiz way of doing agriculture is ruining the land by forcing them to forego crop rotation. They love the land and want to preserve it. They can´t go organic because it doesn´t pay but that is not the choice they have. Their choice is between a sensible way of using chemical inputs and the madness of Monsanto et al
        They hate all modern American culture with its licentiousness. They hate TV, fast food and white bread. (Their grandmother, the matriarch of the clan is a tough lady from Poland who survived WWII and she imbued those values to their father). They are very much alone with their worldview. Most farmers in their area have little education and only care about booze and sports.
        But the situation is getting desperate with drought, fracking and weeds getting out of control. Not to speak of the ever increasing amounts of pesticides with effects that even the dumbest can´t ignore anymore. People are getting afraid and look for answers. My relatives are the only ones who can provide them. That is why farmers in the area look for guidance to them. But my relatives know the risk of getting engaged. The seed companies have a million ways to strangle them and the local administration is counting the money from the fracking companies. And once they get up will the people still stand behind them?
        Finally let us not forget Waco (200 miles away). That is an impossibly big thing down there. People certainly were no fans of the Branch Davidians but the massacre there was and is seen as big government gone mad. A huge crime for which nobody ever was held accountable. A crime committed by those very – oh so socially liberal – East coast elites that castigate those backward Texans on TV. I happen to agree.

        1. OIFVet

          So they object to being judged while freely passing their own bible-thumping judgments about the “licentiousness” of modern America. As a German, did you let them know how much more “licentious” place Berlin is? Or Reeperbahn in Hamburg’s Sankt Pauli? By what you wrote, all indications are that their way of life is most directly threatened by corporate agri-business, but it’s the social warriors part of them that has taken front and center while remaining mum about the most immediate danger to their well-being. Makes it hard to sympathize with them, to be brutally honest.

          1. Tom

            Oh no. Not this culture war thing again. It is from both sides and I don´t know who is more to blame. I just know that the left will never get meaningful change if they don´t manage to look beyond these differences. Identity politics is the only thing that differentiates the Democrats and the “left” parties in Europe from the right. To paraphrase Chomsky: there is one ruling party with two right wings one of which is politically correct. I just know that my distant cousins will stand up at some point if things continue like they do now. (And they do in their own little ways already – they are hated by the local Monsanto representative) Their fight is a lot more existential and dangerous than you can imagine from afar. Their very lifelihood is at stake. Finally they know their enemies very well and know that it is
            big Agro and Big Gov. They just don´t expect any help from people like you. Or better they can´t imagine it. They would take it though if they got it. In their point of view the Dems are just as bad as the Reps. The only difference being that the Dems condemn them for their social policies on top.
            I happen to agree.

            1. OIFVet

              See, you pass judgements too. “Their fight is a lot more existential and dangerous than you can imagine from afar.” Uh, no. Monsanto and agribusiness in general happen to be a frequent target to a large number of the commenters here, myself included. We get it. Hard as it may be to imagine, we take time of licentious and hedonistic lifestyles and learn things. I also was born in raised in what some urban sophisticates in my native Bulgaria disdainfully call “peasant family.” I own a good amount of land there too, and try to do my best to agitate against the TTIP, as it will give the twin monsters of Monsanto and GMOs the kind of power in Europe that they have here in the US. So me, and many here, can in fact be your relatives’ allies. If only they stop thumping that Bible long enough to think. Live and let live, you know. I don’t need a christian taliban trying to force me to live by their sharia, not any more than they need Monsanto forcing its monopoly upon them.

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