2:00PM Water Cooler 8/17/2017

Dear readers,

Unfortunately I have had to override Lambert’s “talk among yourselves” due to the degeneration of the comments section. I am already chronically on the verge of burnout and riding herd on the comments section has become too much to deal with. I should be more regretful but frankly I am very angry with the readers (and it was an appallingly large number) who screwed this up for everyone else.

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Thursday is a travel day for me, as I will be taking the bus from Bangor to Burlington for our NC meetup this evening (details here). So I won’t be writing a full Water Cooler.

Instead, talk amongst yourselves. As a conversation starter — and given the events in Charlottesville and elsewhere in the past few days — here’s Louis CK on historical context:

If you’re a comedian, listen and learn, as they say in the program. And who among us is not a comedian?

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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! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plants are from my garden. I wanted to write a photo essay on “masses of color,” but I didn’t have enough time. So herewith:

Foreground: Black-eyed Susans. background: Stalks of a ginormous self-seeded sunflower patch.

The sunflower patch.

I thought I was going to get many more wildflowers, but the poppies are nice (and will self-seed next year).

More poppies!

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A note on donations: All readers who contributed to the very successful annual Water Cooler fundraiser — Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the Naked Capitalism fundraisers — have now been thanked, both PayPal donors and those who sent checks. Thank you again, and I’m sorry it took so long; I just worked away at the list until I finished.

However: Do feel free to use the dropdown and click the hat to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!

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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.