2:00PM Water Cooler 7/3/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, at least in the great state of Maine, today is one day in a four-day weekend, so this will be an extremely short post. Tomorrow, July 4, I will be off entirely. Regular programming will return on Wednesday, July 5.

However, I did wish to bring this to your attention. From The Department of The Great Sept of Baelor Hamptons is Not a Defensible Position:

OUT AND ABOUT IN THE HAMPTONS — LALLY WEYMOUTH held her annual summer party last night at her house in Southampton. There was a long gold carpet entrance from where the parking was to a big tent next to her house. She served champagne, rare filet, fried chicken, cornbread, a big chocolate cake, ice cream and cookies decorated as American flags. Brother Don Graham did a big tribute to toast Lally (whose birthday is tomorrow) and shouted out Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film about how Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham challenged the government for the right to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971 (Tom Hanks is playing Bradlee and Meryl Streep is playing Graham). Don made a big deal that Spielberg was there and jokingly conceived a Spielberg movie about Lally and described the cast (some actors and some in the room).

— SPOTTED: Jared and Ivanka chatting with Joel Klein and Alan Patricof, Kellyanne Conway on the dance floor, Boyden Gray, Chris Ruddy, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and wife Iris, Katharine Weymouth, Mary Jordan, Richard Cohen, Margaret Carlson, Gillian Tett, Steven Spielberg chatting with Steve Clemons and Robert Hormats, Carl Icahn, Tom Lee (famous for doing a leveraged buyout of Snapple and now lives in Princess Radziwill’s house), David Koch, John Paulson, Dina Powell, Richard Edelman, George Soros and his wife Tamiko Bolton, former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham (Lally’s uncle), her cousin Gwen Graham (who is running for Florida governor), Maria Bartiromo, Ray Kelly, Bill Bratton, Jeff Rosen, William Drozdiak, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).

(Lally Weymouth is Beltway aristocracy, being the daughter of WaPo’s Katherine Graham, and currently Senior Associate Editor). “It’s big club and you ain’t in it.”

Talk amongst yourselves!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allegic to PayPal, and (d) 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 (TH):

TH writes: “Water lily, South Coast Botanic Garden, Palos Verdes, CA.”

UPDATE Now that that the 2017 Water Cooler fundraiser post is launched, I can say that directions for sending a check will include a request to send me a parallel email so I can thank you. I was not able to thank all you sent me checks this year, because I was unable to connect physical mail identities to online identities. Apologies!

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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. Mark Gisleson

    Enjoy the well-deserved time off! The ranks of the Weymouths, btw, includes former Talking Heads bass player Tina Weymouth.

      1. WeakenedSquire

        Gotta love America’s meritocratic royalty. Actually, though, Tina is of the same generation as Lally, and they are related by a long-ago marriage between Lally and Tina’s brother. The marriage ended in divorce, but Lally kept the surname. Tina’s niece, and a product of that marriage, is Lally’s daughter Katherine Weymouth, who was caught trying to charge lobbyists tens of thousands of dollars to attend her parties when she was Post publisher. Her mother, apparently, has been more discreet.

        1. Mike

          Yeah, at one time you could convince the royalty to spring some bucks to support the Black Panthers, La Raza, or AIM. Those were the days. Now it’s all tied up in Bahamian funds.

        2. different clue

          Perhaps we might try using the word ‘meristocracy’ . . . ‘meristocratic’ . . . etc.
          Brings the word closer to aristocracy.

            1. different clue

              ‘Meritocracy’ implies that some kind of ‘merit’ is involved. Since the only ‘merit’ involved is the ‘merit’ in passing tests, perhaps we should call it the ‘testocracy’.

              1. ambrit

                I’d say that the majority of the frequenters of this site already use the word “meritocracy” as a pejorative.

              2. jrs

                so what if merit is involved? It’s seldom the merit that matters very most: that is being a good person. In fact it usually totally disregards if a person is a total sociopath so long as they have some kind of “merit”.

          1. WheresOurTeddy

            Is a “meristocracy” what ensues when an aristocracy metastasizes?

            Imagining Hamptons residents as cancer cells feels apt.

            1. different clue

              A ‘meristocracy’ ensues when the class of successful test-takers and exam-passers give their children and other relatives overwhelming advantages in passing tests. And when the test-taking classes arrogate to themselves the right to direct society, have a political party of their very own, etc.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > test-taking classes

                That to me is more evocative than Chris Arnade’s “front row kids.” It encapsulates the social relations more precisely.

  2. ChiGal in Carolina

    gorgeous plantidote – 90 degrees in North Carolina and it is so cooling and refreshing to behold!

    1. ambrit

      True that. We had mid nineties with 90% humidity today. Phyl and I refer to this as “fricasseeing weather.”

  3. dontknowitall

    It’s funny how the scene sounds so unattractive that I kept thinking I wouldn’t want to be caught dead in the same room with those geriatric rentiers. At least if Peter Thiel was there we could hear about the benefits of reviving Mastodons and the life extension properties of the blood extracted from babies and inject into one’s jugular…

  4. cocomaan

    Lately on various places like reddit I’ve seen more and more postings about the Free Burma Rangers in Mosul.

    Here’s an image series just posted on imgur. Some of the images are of Iraqi military, but some are of these Free Burma Ranger guys. Here’s another example: notice that they are firing AK’s and not wearing a real uniform.

    Apparently they’re allowed to return fire in a warzone as a humanitarian group? Anyway, this is super weird. I feel like Moon of Alabama should cover it.

    1. Plenue

      Oh great, just what we need more of. Trigger happy ‘Christians’ playing at being soldiers.

  5. Sue

    Lally’s grandfather was Fed’s Chairman back in the 30s. All her kinship has excelled at hoarding wealth and power.

  6. Ranger Rick

    Happy start of the fiscal year! Samsung and Microsoft both announced massive layoffs over the weekend.

    1. ambrit

      I never suspected that Microsoft could become even more avaricious than it is now. Live and learn.

      1. Vatch

        Of course the Gates Foundation will take care of the people who lost their jobs. Right? Because Bill and Melinda Gates care about people! I’ve seen their pictures on the covers of magazines! That’s the whole point of feudalism — the peasants provide labor and loyalty, and the lords and ladies take care of the peasants!

        Sorry, I must have bumped my head on something. Ignore the hallucinations in my previous paragraph.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Worst thing is the “Better Than Cash Alliance” that Gates supports.
          Getting impoverished people in developing nations hooked on Mastercard credit.

          1. ambrit

            Will “micro loans” have micro repo men? (Oh no! Micro(soft)loans. A wholly owned subsidiary of the Microsoft Corporation. Rates available upon signing up for the service. Operatorbots are downtiming now.)
            The “Better Than Cash Alliance” looks like it was designed to segue into a “company store” type of rent extraction. First, make the cards mandatory, second, limit the persons, places and things the cards can be used with.

        2. Procopius

          I think the feudal ideal was that everybody has their duties clearly defined. The serfs and free workers owe labor duty to the seigneurs, and the seigneurs owe military protection to the dependents. They weren’t expected to protect the peasants from starvation, and didn’t. There were, of course, lots of variations, so some scholars resist using the term “feudalism” because they say there were differences. This is true, but there were enough similarities that “feudalism” is a handy way of describing even the relationships in Thailand where there was theoretically no heredity aristocracy (but the children of prominent generals and ministers were usually treated as if they had their parents’ abilities).

          1. Ulysses

            “They weren’t expected to protect the peasants from starvation, and didn’t.”

            This statement is technically accurate. However, most peasants were allowed access to enough land, for their own subsistence farming, that they mostly starved only when disasters like drought, severe winters, crop diseases, etc., went against them.

            The later conversion of peasants into factory workers required the imposition of artificial disasters like the enclosure of the commons, exorbitant taxes and rents, harsh enforcement of poaching laws, etc.

        1. ambrit

          Yep, race to below the bottom. My present “career opportunity” is piecing together furniture and such like in the back of a fairly large Salvage Store. (The chain has over 180 outlets in the American South!) The Pure D nature of the “merchandise” is literally depressing. Bad though the paperboard sides and particle board frames of the “furniture” are; people are expected to pay some fairly high prices for this “stuff.” I won’t call it junk because at least with junk, you have a residual value available through the recycling of the component materials. This “modern” consumer paradise object class has no value outside of its’ landfill utility.
          I’d wager that the new laptop is even made with cheap glue.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > landfill utility

            And I wonder what chemicals are in the particle bpard and the “paper.” All landfill liners fail, and so at some point those chemicals — or whatever they’ve morphed into inside the landfill — will hit our water supply.

            1. ambrit

              I made a reference to Philip Wylie’s book, “The End of the Dream,” in a thread yesterday about sci-fi disaster literature. The premise is almost exactly that which you posit.
              You know my pet peeve, the toxic stuff that will be released into the oceans when global sea level rise floods the urbanized littorals around the world. I’m almost looking forward to entering the Void.

    1. Livius Drusus

      I think the situation is the same in the United States. My elderly relatives watch huge amounts of TV and much of the content is about crime, scams, child abuse and other lurid topics. When you add in Fox News and talk radio to the mix it can really impact how people see the world and their political opinions.

      My uncle used to be a political moderate but ever since he became disabled and unable to work he has become a raging right-winger who is obsessed with things like Islamist terrorists, communists and radical college professors and their students. He doesn’t seem to care about anything the Republicans do even if their policies might hurt disabled people like him.

      1. cgeye

        Almost every local ad is for a possible class action, for damages done by pills or surgery; that, or for-profit schools.

        Series content is minstrelsy, of all colors: Men and women at their worst, for so little stakes. If one turns to religious/family channels, their avoidance of the real pain and issues our people face seems just as ephemeral.

        The happy bits are provided by hours-long ads, if we can call a talk show something more real. Audiences start with standing ovations to hosts, in hopes that they’d get something of value. It’s a sad time when soap operas are the most moral series on air….

          1. ambrit

            Most “filmed before a live audience” programming works on the premise that an audience needs to be prepped. So, the shows will get the audience “worked up” for the actual program by bringing on professional cheer leader types, stand up comedians, and motivational speakers before hand. A so called comedy show will get more “spontaneous” laughs when the audience has already been softened up by hearing a new version of the old “Farmers Daughter and the Baby Godzilla” story first. “Gadzooks Gadzooky!” (Audience rolls in aisles.)
            As for specific shows where adulation of the spokesperson is de rigueur, well, that would require one to admit to watching the likes of Jerry Springer or Cookie Monster.

  7. John S

    FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson is a great, easy, blast from the past…….for those of you who enjoy SHATTERED type books, I think you will enjoy this…..

    McGovern vs. Nixon has so many similarities to the 2016 Election and pretty much no one under 70 will remember much of the ’72 election, unless they were political junkies from “their get-go” ….

    Some 1972/2016 parallels and wierdities:

    * The DNC was burgled by the GOP (Watergate) and in ’16 hacked by the Russians (??)
    * The GOP had one candidate (Nixon) while the Dems had a bunch including Muskie, Hube, Wallace and McGovern was the surprise winner
    * Muskie and Jeb Bush started their primaries as For Sure Winners with lots of money
    * Wallace and Trump played to the same crowd
    * In October 1972 only 3% of the population thought that Watergate was a “serious problem”

    * The McGovern ground game in Wisconsin was a marvel of its time (see Gene Pokorney)…..so, theoretically was Hillary’s

    * Although the USA was/is involved in WAR, once the main campaigning began, the WAR was not a major issue in either election

    * Eagleton was a big problem for McGovern and Bill was a big problem for Hillary

    * The FBI was accused of releasing Eagleton’s medical records and Comey, was accused of stuff, too

    * The winner in 72 was impeached…..and, the winner in 2016 may well be impeached….

    At any rate, this book is an easy and prescient Summer Beach Read…..and, those who like this genre, may also “Like” Tim Crouse’s THE BOYS ON THE BUS …..

    50 years ago, we the reading public has to wait 1-2 years for the “Inside Scoop” books to be published….today, thanks to Lambert and so many others, we can “get the haps” pretty much simultaneously with the candidates and their staffs….

    Happy 4th to Lambert and thanks for all you do four us….

    1. shinola

      I agree with you on “Fear & Loathing…” – HST is one of my all time favorite authors. I do have one minor quibble about the “under 70” remark.

      IIRC, ’72 was the 1st prez election in which 18, 19 & 20 year olds were allowed to vote so I would trim a few years off of that figure.

    2. charles leseau

      Muskie and Jeb Bush started their primaries as For Sure Winners with lots of money

      I knew Jeb would go nowhere once the media started ignoring him 24/7 and trotted out 12 Trump stories a day. Absolutely predicted Trump’s nomination close to a year before he was actually nominated.

    3. different clue


      I am only 60, but here is evidence that I remember a little from that time. There was a political saying . . .
      “Don’t change Dicks in the middle of a screw. Nixon/ Agnew in ’72!”

      1. John S

        ….shinola, if one posts here, chances are pretty good that one will know a bit about the ’72 election….my current peer group of friends (68-74) had little or no memory of the ’72 election as they were not “in” to politics or voting then….I wonder how many MSM or TV talkingheads are well versed in this election?

        ….different clue, great comment….I wonder if our current President will bring the Game of Bridge back into fashion (it was still BIG in ’72) …. playing Bridge in the Chevy Chase Country Club Card Room would give people a continuous opportunity to shout out their bid of :

        “4 NO Trump!!!!”

        even when they held 13 Spades, etc…..or, held nary an Ace or Face Card…..

        Happy 4th to all….

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          My “hippie” 7th grade social studies teacher took us on a field trip from the burbs to downtown Albany to see McGovern at a campaign rally. My first political experience.

      1. Carolinian

        Actually I got my Weymouths confused. Katharine, who did the dubious stint as WaPo publisher was Katharine Graham’s granddaughter.

  8. duck1

    Why, I’d be trampling the high cotton but for the lack of a moniker like Lally. Sad!

    1. HotFlash

      Thank you, Duck 1. Hmmm. Would The Duckster work? Or The Real Duckster? With or without the ‘1’.

      Or maybe Duckie LIte — it would have a certain appeal. And not totally dethpicable.

  9. Huey Long

    RE: Blob Party

    I’m glad they stuck to the hamptons and didn’t crash moe.down this weekend up in Turin, NY. Chucky and the Kochs would have killed the vibe.

  10. kareninca

    Re Trump and the CNN “boxing” clip.

    Am I imagining this? Every time Trump wins a major point – e.g. the firing of the three CNN reporters – everyone expects him to simply gloat about it and leave it at that. But promptly afterwards – every time – he does something utterly outrageous. So, the question is whether he is simply a freak – or whether he is desensitizing us and it is part of a plan of his. Given his success in the election, I’m guessing the latter. It is really odd to watch; it happens over and over again. Or maybe I am hallucinating this pattern. I wish I’d been keeping track.

    1. tongorad

      Seems to me that Trump’s outrageousness shrinks in comparison to the hopey-changey con man of the century. Comfortable shoes and all that.

      1. kareninca

        I really meant “calculated to inspire outrage”, rather than actually outrageous.

      2. Procopius

        I’m reading Al From’s book, The NEW Democrats and the Return to Power. That “change and hope” was the message of the Democratic Leadership Council when they established it in 1985. I’m embarrassed to say I fell for it in2008, until Obama appointed torture defender John Brennan as his advisor on national security and intelligence matters.

    2. Carolinian

      Well some of us mostly ignore him. What’s the “boxing” clip? Perhaps the best response to people who have a mania for attention is to ignore them.

      Of course if he gets us in another war that won’t be easy but fortunately he seems preoccupied with his Twitter toy. Look on the bright side.

      Maureen Dowd has said Trump is a toon and therefore he would fit right into the new Brad Pitt satire War Machine which I’ve just been watching.This is an excellent movie and treats its subject with proper absurdist tone. Robert Altman would approve..

      1. kareninca

        I guess it’s punching, not boxing: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/07/02/trump_tweets_video_of_him_body_slamming_punching_cnn.html. I’m not saying it is actually outrageous; I think it is just stupid; but it was obviously calculated to create outrage. And why would he want to inspire outrage, when he had just won a major point against CNN?

        “Perhaps the best response to people who have a mania for attention is to ignore them.”
        That’s sort of what I’m saying. It is going to reach the point where nothing he says will be noticed. I am guessing that is intended; he isn’t stupid.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      What fascinates me is that the CNN video is literally kayfabe, and Trump’s done it before, in “real life”:

      I don’t know how to classify my emotions about this; something that I never expected to see. On the one hand, distinctly “unpresidential,” even leaving aside liberal regard for “norms.” I was about to say “Would Lincoln have done this?” when I discovered that Lincoln was a wrestler. But what I can’t imagine Lincoln doing is taking down the (so-called) ref, McMahon, as kayfabe.

      And then I think of what is, apparently, Presidential: “I stand between you and the pitchforks” (Obama), or “Now watch this drive” and “Mission Accomplished.” Is the “dignity of the office” upheld by those statements, either?

      [putting my head in my hands]

      1. ambrit

        Giving Trump some credit, whether deserved or not, I will admit that he, (Trump) has an absurdist streak. This is probably derived from his experiences in “high finance” where the appearance is often confused for reality, of a sort. In this, he, as you suggest, is following in the footsteps of his predecessors. Ronald Reagan, as has been suggested often, was “hired” to play Chief Executive of a Nation. What could be more “over the top” than the “tear down this wall,” at a time when the collapse of the USSR was “baked in” to history. Reagan and his backers took the credit for a historical process; pure socio-political rent extraction. Only a snake oil salesman could have pulled that one off. Now we are dealing with the natural result of a “race to the bottom” in the American political scene. Everything else in America has been debased and degraded, why not politics as well?
        I’d much rather see Trump “wrestle” with McMahon than with Putin. Vlad Vladimirovitch is a Black Belt in Judo, Donald is an Orange Pelt in Kaydo.
        See, sort of cheesy, but fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lxMglj8LuM

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’d much rather see Trump “wrestle” with McMahon than with Putin.

          At some point, however, the kayfabe bleeds over into real life, and suddenly there’s real blood in the seats, not fake blood. It’s important that the various world leaders not grossly miscalculate, or we have another Sarajevo on our hands. And who can calculate Trump? Or, worse, they’ve all got him pegged as hopelessly out of his depth…

          Then again, I look at Clinton (Libya, Iraq, Honduras), Obama (drones, Afghanistan) and Bush (Iraq, Afghanistan) and if they weren’t out of their depth…

          And then again, we are not actually at war yet, or at least not involved in more wars. So there’s that.

          [puts head in hands]

          1. Alex Morfesis

            Click your heels together 3 times…or is it don’t take off the green goggles…

          2. ambrit

            There’s kayfabe, and there’s Kayfabe. My Dad, being a lower class Londoner, liked that version of “Professional Wrestling,” the old grunt and groan. I’m told that wrestling there was much more like proper Greco Roman wrestling, and the fans knew the difference. The fans evidently were not shy in letting their disapproval be known. So, the level of “awareness” of the general public plays a large part in what can be “gotten away with.”
            We here cavail about the deplorable condition of the MSM, but, how much credibility does said MSM have left? I might be foily, (a wonderful word, by the way, thanks,) but aren’t the power elites having to expend much more in resources to get less manufactured consent now?
            Sorry to rain on the parade but, we aren’t actually officially at war yet. Here’s hoping that the revocation of the 9/11 authorization of anti terror activities happens soon.
            I’m glad that your head is in your hands and not some more fundamental place. (There’s too much of the latter going on today as it is.)

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > the revocation of the 9/11 authorization

              That was actually very good, sane news; thanks for reminding me of it.

              At least everybody in the Beltway hasn’t completely lost their minds, at least on this one issue.

            2. Ulysses

              “Aren’t the power elites having to expend much more in resources to get less manufactured consent now?”

              Excellent question! The answer is yes, but the answer can be interpreted in an optimistic or pessimistic way.

              If optimistically inclined– it is possible to await an enlightened populace rejecting MSM propaganda, and finding a way to demand better solutions to their problems from a better government.

              If less optimistic– it is easy to foresee the power elites abandoning failed attempts at “soft” persuasive propaganda, in favor of simple violent repression of all (real or perceived) “malcontents.” The bombing of U.S. civilians, by Philadelphia police in 1985, make this latter interpretation seem all too likely:

  11. Stephen Tynan

    War Machine is based on the book The Operators by the late journalist Michael Hastings. Hastings was the gritty, hard-nosed type of reporter that’s an endangered species in our slop-saturated media environment, who rose to professional prominence in large part for his Newsweek reporting on the Iraq war. After his then-fiancee, also a journalist, was killed by insurgents in Iraq, Hastings wrote the touching and deeply searching memoir I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story. But he made his biggest splash with his Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal, then-commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The piece, which detailed McChrystal and his staff’s contempt for civilian government officials (and most importantly, President Obama), eventually led to McChrystal getting sacked and a Polk Award for Hastings. It also led to Hasting’s book The Operators, and, eventually, the film War Machine, both of which elaborate on the Rolling Stone profile and explore McChrystal’s time in command.


    1. ambrit

      It is not weird to find a Koch associated with two soros, or, if you will, one sorites. It might be considered paradoxical though.

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