2:00PM Water Cooler 11/28/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, as you about to see, I have taken Monday off, as well as Friday, but not on purpose! The latest post on Clinton myths took much more time than I thought, and unfortunately you pay the price. And I can’t even add UPDATEs, because there are now 75 76 commnents in the moderation queue, which I must process.

Fortunately, there are is only one stat today.

Stats Watch

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, November 28, 2016: “Production is picking up as is general activity but new orders are still shrinking, in what are mixed results for the Dallas Fed manufacturing report” [Econoday]. “Still, new orders are disappointing and follow big jumps this month in the Philadelphia and Richmond regions and also gains in Kansas City and New York. But taken together, the advance signs for November’s factory sector are favorable.”

The Bezzle: “7. Pufferfish. c. The practice of making a startup seem larger than it is through subterfuge. [Wall Street Journal, “How Well Do You Know the Language of Startups?”]. “Answer: c. Among other tricks, startups have been known to decorate empty desks and to create elaborate voice-mail systems to make it seem like more people work there.”

Photographing container ships at sea with drones is a thing:

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 70 Greed (previous close: 72, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 28 at 1:36pm. Mr. Market swaggers back from the 19th hole!

News of the Wired

Talking Heads in prophetic mode:

Enjoy… I’ll have a complete Water Cooler tomorrow1

* * *

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 (PS):


PS writes: “Silversword. Occurs only near the summit of Mt. Haleakala.”

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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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. Robert Hahl

    I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.
    – Tom Waits

    Solomon Burke – None Of Us Are Free

    Tony Joe White – Willie and Laura Mae Jones

    Doobie Brothers – Long Train Running HD (Live)

    Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Stranger To My Happiness

    Randy Crawford – Cajun Moon

    Sylvain Luc – Nomad’s Land (French guitar and Persian drums.)

    AIR – La Femme D’Argent (Live in France, 2007)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Anyone feeling the urge to hug the cute plant?

      “You’re so, so adorable. And I am a plant-hugger.”

    2. ChrisPacific

      I think I might have seen it on Sesame Street once.

      I’ve been up Haleakala once. I should have done my homework first. It’s a remarkable environment, but I didn’t really know what I was looking at where plants were concerned.

      1. Carla

        I tried to go up Haleakala in Feb. ’97, but there was a blizzard and 3/4’s of the way up, they closed the road.

        Did see the crater from a helicopter in ’93. Spectacular!

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I keep hearing Stevie Wonder, from 1975:

      People keep on learnin’
      Soldiers keep on warrin’
      World keep on turnin’
      ‘Cause it won’t be too long

      Powers keep on lyin’
      While your people keep on dyin’
      World keep on turnin’
      ‘Cause it won’t be too long


  2. Stephen V.

    I thought that *pufferfish* stuff sounded familiar. Castro was doing it in the 1950;s, back when the NYT was embedded with communists::

    His recruiting was aided immeasurably by his skills at propaganda and psychological warfare. Castro’s greatest ploy was luring a New York Times correspondent named Herbert Matthews to his mountain camp. Though the rebels had barely 20 bedraggled men, Castro marched the same group past Matthews several times and also staged the arrival of “messengers” reporting the movement of other (nonexistent) units.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/fidel-castro-en/article117186483.html#storylink=cpy

    1. hunkerdown

      Propaganda and psychological warfare? But if they call it “sales” or “politics” their Lebowski Achiever readers (and proud we are of all of them) might have a sad. Must keep a strict boundary between the activities of the “respectable” and the mass, even if that boundary is made entirely of the abuse of words.

      1. Cry Shop

        Geoffrey Oryema – listening wind ( Talking Heads cover )

        Mojique sees his village from a nearby hill
        Mojique thinks of days before Americans came
        He serves the foreigners in growing numbers
        He sees the foreigners in fancy houses
        He dreams of days that he can still remember now

        Mojique holds a package in his quivering hands
        Mojique sends the package to the American man
        Softly he glides along the streets and alleys
        Up comes the wind that makes them run for cover
        He feels the time is surely now or never more

        The wind in my heart, the wind in my heart
        The dust in my head, the dust in my head
        The wind in my heart, the wind in my heart
        drive them away, drive them away

        And Mojique buys his equipment in the market place
        Mojique plants devices through the free trade zone
        He feels the wind is lifting up his people
        He calls the wind to guide him on his mission
        He knows his friend the wind is always standing by

        Mojique smells the wind that, that comes from far away
        Mojique waits for news in a quiet place
        He feels the presence of the wind beside him
        He feels the power of the past behind him
        He has the knowledge of the wind to guide him on

        The wind in my heart, the wind in my heart
        The dust in my head, the dust in my head
        The wind in my heart, the wind in my heart
        Come to drive them away, drive them away

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It must be an old trick, well-known to the sort of person who looks for such tricks.

      Richard Evans describes a Nazi torchlight parade in The Coming of the Third Reich. A father and is son are watching, and realize that the reason the marchers keep looking familiar is that they are, in fact, the same; marchers left the end of the parade and went right back to the beginning to start over.

  3. clarky90

    60 Minutes, Dec 20, 1998- full interview

    Steve Kroft interviews George Soros


    Partial transcript;

    KROFT: (Voiceover) To understand the complexities and contradictions in his personality, you have to go back to the very beginning: to Budapest, where George Soros was born 68 years ago to parents who were wealthy, well-educated and Jewish.

    When the Nazis occupied Budapest in 1944, George Soros’ father was a successful lawyer. He lived on an island in the Danube and liked to commute to work in a rowboat. But knowing there were problems ahead for the Jews, he decided to split his family up. He bought them forged papers and he bribed a government official to take 14-year-old George Soros in and swear that he was his Christian godson. But survival carried a heavy price tag. While hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being shipped off to the death camps, George Soros accompanied his phony godfather on his appointed rounds, confiscating property from the Jews.

    (Vintage footage of Jews walking in line; man dragging little boy in line)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) These are pictures from 1944 of what happened to George Soros’ friends and neighbors.

    (Vintage footage of women and men with bags over their shoulders walking; crowd by a train)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) You’re a Hungarian Jew…

    Mr. SOROS: (Voiceover) Mm-hmm.

    KROFT: (Voiceover) …who escaped the Holocaust…

    (Vintage footage of women walking by train)

    Mr. SOROS: (Voiceover) Mm-hmm.

    (Vintage footage of people getting on train)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) … by — by posing as a Christian.

    Mr. SOROS: (Voiceover) Right.

    (Vintage footage of women helping each other get on train; train door closing with people in boxcar)

    KROFT: (Voiceover) And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.

    Mr. SOROS: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that’s when my character was made.

    KROFT: In what way?

    Mr. SOROS: That one should think ahead. One should understand and — and anticipate events and when — when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a — a very personal experience of evil.

    KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

    Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.

    KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

    Mr. SOROS: Yes. That’s right. Yes.

    KROFT: I mean, that’s — that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

    Mr. SOROS: Not — not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t — you don’t see the connection. But it was — it created no — no problem at all.

    KROFT: No feeling of guilt?

    Mr. SOROS: No.

    KROFT: For example that, ‘I’m Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.’ None of that?

    Mr. SOROS: Well, of course I c — I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was — well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in markets — that if I weren’t there — of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would — would — would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the — whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the — I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.

    1. Cry Shop

      “It’s very exciting news,” said Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. “The door is open.”

      Groening testified at his trial that he oversaw the collection of prisoners’ belongings and ensured valuables and cash were separated to be sent to Berlin. He said he witnessed individual atrocities, but did not acknowledge participating in any crimes.

      Presiding Judge Franz Kompisch ruled last year, however, that Groening was part of the “machinery of death,” helping the camp function and also collecting money stolen from the victims to help the Nazi cause, and could thus be convicted of accessory to the murders committed there.

      Some how I don’t think Zuroff will be going after Soros.

      1. WJ

        Dude was only 14, living in unimaginable conditions. What you hear on the interview is not his 14 year-old self, but his 68(?) year-old recreation of that self. It’s ridiculous to compare an abandoned child to Groening, and it moreover distracts from legitimate criticisms of Soros’s influence peddling. Or so it seems to me.

        1. Cry Shop

          Everybody was living in unimaginable conditions. My grandfather and his brother were split up and sent to different orphanages. We learned that his father was killed so “Christian” white men could have his land. Happened less than 60 years before Groening was raised in the Nazi Youth and sent to the Russian Front. Groening recognized and admitted what he did was wrong, though I’m not sure society has admitted what it allowed to be done to Groening in his youth was wrong.

          As for my family, we’re never going to get that land back, nor anything in reparations for what was done to our family and tribe.

        2. Targ

          Bull. Soros is a sociopath, comparing his survival to the “markets”. That’s a horrible evil analogy, and it doesn’t even make sense. Plus, you are no longer a child when you are 14, stop using that as an excuse.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > distracts from legitimate criticisms of Soros’s influence peddling.


          Now, if somebody could show that the psychological splitting (“if it hadn’t been me, it would have been somebody else”) is common to the 0.01% and a consequence of their social position, that would be interesting and useful. But as Soros-bashing, it’s not very useful.

          Do any of us really know what our 14-year-old selves would do, in the clutches of the Nazis?

          1. Cry Shop

            or 18, or 21, or… at what age and what condition does wisdom flow? Many of mankind’s heros went to their deaths of old age clutching fiercely to their truths which are today’s absolute moral degeneracy.

  4. Daryl

    Here’s a link from me, a blast from the past: Nixon’s Plan For Healthcare Reform.


    > No family would ever have annual out-of-pocket expenses for covered health services in excess of $1,500, and low-income families would face substantially smaller expenses.

    If only we had the advanced computer technology, peaceful environment and robust economy of 1974, maybe something like this would still be viable.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will it be that 40 years from now, we (those still around) will look back at 2016, and say, ‘those good old days?”

  5. JTMcPhee

    …and in other news, Afghanistan Is All Ready To Be Donald Trump’s First Foreign Policy Disaster
    The next president has tough choices to make as Taliban forces push forward.


    The killing and dying goes on, the “Coalition” presence continued to catalyze the growth and success of the “insurgents” who seem somehow to be more “legitimate” than the corrupt slicks “we” are backing in Kabul… What is the Game, again? How do you know when you have “won”? “Know when to fold ’em…”

    I do like the jejune glee with which the HuppPo headline writer seems to view the idiocy over there as little more than a chance to embarrass and distress “the only president we’ve got we’re about to have…”

    Oh, and PETRAEUS for WHAT cabinet post, again? Jeebus love us…

    1. cwaltz

      If he picks Petraeus then he might as well tell his supporters that he has no intent on going after Hillary for mishandling classified data.

      Petraeus actually was found guilty of mishandling classified data(with his mistress no less.)

        1. cwaltz

          He IS going to be up for re election in 4 years and the Democratic Party will have a field day with his hypocrisy.

          1. Cry Shop

            He’ll probably be impeached long before he has to sit for election. There are enough Democratic Senators so corrupted that they may vote with the Republicans to do it. Lets remember Obama & Hillary both preferred Republican Congress, because (a) they share neo-liberal/neo-conservative corporatism and (b) a Non-Democratic Congress gives (would have given) cover to ruling by executive order/fiat. The later is very important if your primary interest in political office is honest corruption. ala Bush, Obama or Clinton

            1. Yves Smith

              Huh? Bills of impeachment originate in the House, not the Senate, where the Republicans hold a comfortable majority.

              And an impeachment would hurt the Republican party and help the Dems. They don’t have an institutional reason to do this. If Trump gives them tax cuts, they’ll be plenty happy.

              1. Cry Shop

                My bad, I meant the trial by the Senate after the impeachment (A necessary step probably based on Trump), which requires a two thirds majority, vs. the simple majority for articles of impeachment in the house.

                My understanding is the Republicans do not have a two thirds majority at this time, but who knows what might happen after the next federal election, when another 1/3 of seats are up for re-election.

                I can think of many reasons why traditional oligarchy Republicans might want Mike Pence taking over, particularly if Trump falls on his face. The future is of course always an unknown.

              2. cwaltz

                I’m trying to figure out if Petraeus would even be eligible for a security clearance after actually pleading guilty to mishandling classified information while committing adultery and lying to the FBI about it. I would kind of hope not. I mean geez, if that is the case then what would disqualify a person from a clearance?

                If this had been an enlisted person they would have thrown the book at him with a court martial and then tossed him out. It’s insane that we’re suggesting criminal behavior deserves some kind of reward whether it be Clinton or Petraeus.

                I don’t know who is advising Trump on this appointment but it strikes me as having train wreck written all over it.

                1. Cry Shop

                  Trump can assign/order any security clearance he wants through an executive order, as well as pardon Petraeus. Congress could subpoena information regarding clearance investigations as part of oversight, but can not (directly) challenge the clearance. POTUS could reject a subpoena based on executive privilege. Then I guess it would go SOCUS.

                  Hillary pretty much did what she wanted with regard to security inside her personal office, as it was clear to the wonks that Obama would not rein Hellary in. Obama himself sent classified information via unsecured email to Hellary, the FBI admitted as much in their chat with Huma Abedin. IE: If POTUS backs you, like Stratfor over the last 4 administrations, you can sell highly classified secrets to approved corporate clients for profit.

                  ed: The Security Clearance Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4022) died in Congress, partly because no one in the Oligarchy wants to end the party.

                  1. cwaltz

                    He may be able to.

                    The question is, should he?

                    The reality is that if he does he looks like the world’s largest hypocrite.

                    Contrary to popular belief he didn’t win a mandate. He won narrowly in a bunch of states and hypocrisy is not going to play well in middle class America. He’ll look like a typical politician….which is NOT what he ran and won on.

                    It’s a pretty crappy way to begin things IMO.

            1. cwaltz

              Trump was a blank slate a la Obama for the right who seem to think for some strange reason the guy is genuine(this appointment should disabuse at least a few of them of that). That coupled with the indies and the marginalized left who finally got the balls to give the DNC the finger gave Trump the presidency.

              In 2020 he’s not going to be a blank slate for the right and his hypocrisy will give the DNC some great sound bites. How big was his margin in those 3 states he won by again?

              The people advising him appear to be idiots.

              1. Cry Shop

                America was built by murderous tellers of tall tales and bold lies. Unabashed racism and slander is served over many a breakfast table. Read any Mark Twain? Most Baptist preachers have forgotten half empty beers parked next to used condoms behind their couch, and their parishioners know it.

                Donald’s secret is he has no shame about his lies, and that makes so many of the people feel good about theirs; his lies are their sort of lies. If and when he gets caught telling the wrong sort of lies, then he’ll get into trouble with his electorate.

              2. aab

                If the DNC runs Corey Booker or some other elite, corporatist neoliberal, you’ll just get more people staying home, which should mean the Republican still wins, because Republicans are more likely to turn out, the Republican party has control of most of the country and has a robust GOTV system in all these devastated areas that matter in the Electoral College.

                The Democratic Party is barely a national party now, in the real world. It was razor close in many states, so I suppose it’s possible a candidate with equally terrible policies but a less terrible history and some charm could flip states using another expensive air campaign. But on the other hand, they portrayed Trump as actual Hitler. In four years, if there’s an election, he’s not Hitler. Even if he governs very poorly, he probably won’t seem as bad as Hillary and the media portrayed this time around.

                Once marks have bought into the con, they get invested in not seeing that they have been conned. Witness all the people begging Obama now to “be his true self” and protect Standing Rock, cancel the TPP, etc. He’s been showing them for years who his true self is, having set aside the fig leaf excuse of Republican opposition. But to see him as he truly is would cause them psychological pain they’d rather avoid. So they…don’t see it. There’s no reason to believe Trump won’t likewise benefit from that phenomenon to some degree.

                When you add all these forces together, I just don’t see a “field day” for a New Dem led DNC in 2020.

                1. cwaltz

                  It’s really not the Republican or the Democratic base that decides election. It’s an evergrowing pile of people sick of both parties who are independent.

                  It just so happens that this time they basically told the Democratic Party to pound sand.

                  I’m not at all convinced that this will be a Republican sure thing based on what I am seeing. As a matter of fact it looks like the GOP is planning on throwing the drowning democratic party a lifeline. Personally I hope not since no deserves to die a faster more irrelevant death than the DNC at this point. We can’t pick a replacement for them fast enough.

    2. nippersdad

      I am seeing an awful lot of headlines like that, everywhere! Like Afghanistan wasn’t already a policy disaster? On so many issues, it looks like someone may have just woken up. Where have they been all of these years?

      1. NYPaul

        Hmmm, let’s see. Annual U.S. Military Budget:…………. $600,000,000,000 (600 Billion)

        Afghanistan total Annual Gross Domestic Product……….$19,000,000,000 (19 Billion)

        Sooo (licking my pencil) Afghanistan’s total G.D.P. equals 3% of U.S. military budget.

        Okay, 15 years, $9,000,000,000,000 (that’s 9 Trillion Buckaroos)

        But, at least we won, right?……right?

        No wonder they want an increase, do they expect us to win a war on the cheap?

      1. nippersdad

        I was under the impression that Carter/Brzezinski actually introduced the Wahabist jihadis to Afghanistan. Best example of a self licking ice cream cone since Eisenhower’s Mossadegh regime change.

        Can’t let the Republicans have all of the fun.

        1. Plenue

          Most of the fighting was done by Afghani mujahideen. They were also the recipients of the bulk of CIA aid. Foreign jihadi fighters like Bin Laden showed up and claimed the defeat of the Russians as a great victory, even though the native Afghanis did most of the actual work.

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

          At least the Obamamometer’s consistent in going to the mat on sparring with himself. Look how effective that approach has been with the Merrick Garland nomination. Oh wait…..

    1. Jim Haygood

      The Taiwanese do a pretty good job trying to off themselves at the annual Yanshui Beehive fireworks festival:

      This is undeniably one of the world’s most dangerous celebrations.

      The “beehives” are in fact launching towers densely stacked with small stick-like rocket fireworks. Some contain as many as 600,000.

      They’re called beehives because once the tower is lit, thousands of rockets shoot out at the same time like a swarm of bees being stirred from a nest. It’s considered lucky to be struck by a rocket at the festival.

      Tourists flock to the second night, when the fireworks grow to a crescendo.

      Three huge beehives — the first two crammed with 400,000 rockets and the final one with 600,000 — are unleashed into a crowd wearing protective attire.

      Dignitaries look on from a stand behind a mesh screen around 20 meters high and 50 meters wide.


      It’s all in honor of the local god Guan Gong who saved the city, so it’s not gonna stop.

  6. rjs

    meant to mention this this morning: re an old NC thread, from Art Berman at OilPrice:
    an important post about the inaccuracies of the weekly EIA data, but it turns out that it isn’t the oil inventory figures that are in error, it’s the oil production figures that have been understated…i compared the weekly production estimates to the confirmed monthly figures, which shows that the EIA’s weekly output figures were 233,000 barrels per day short of what was actually being produced in August, the last month we have confirmed data for…

    inventories might still be off too, but by nowhere near what Berman alleges…

    1. rjs

      while i’m here, here’s a link for N Dakota road conditions:

      click the “camera images” tab for pictures

      it’s winter storm Blanche, same system that’s giving the Mississippi and Ohio valleys rain & high winds… warnings continue thru Wednesday….i’m sure the Sioux can take it…the hollywood types and journalists, maybe not so much…

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      Great to see the real Taibbi’s back (and not the David Remnick version who’s been appropriating the Taibbi by-line).

  7. Jay M

    Really the fiasco year, I think. I caucused for Sanders, but didn’t expect him to be nominated. When Trump emerged on the R side I could see the long march to the office happening after living through Reagan and Arnie emerging in Cali. I guess my normal instinct would be to “right on” the Jill Stein disruptive recounts. But I have to say I am exhausted, let the new prince hold sway, I guess.

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