2:00PM Water Cooler 11/23/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I should have started inventorying Sanders’ town halls earlier, but frankly, I’m still in vacation mode. So talk amongst yourselves. –lambert

Here, however, is a useful Twitter thread on the most disgusting backpacker episode I’ve ever heard of. In the Andaman islands:

Read on… (It’s appropriate post-Thanksgiving fare, at least for those who make colonialism their central narrative.) The North Sentinel islanders look positioned to survive the Jackpot just fine, at least if we don’t kill them off with diseases they have no immunity to.

* * *

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 allergic 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 place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (WB):

WB: “NOT a Constable painting.” Lovely, though!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser, now completed. So do feel free 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 below! (The hat is temporarily defunct, so I slapped in some old code.)

Or Subscribe to make a monthly payment!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Jean

        We can’t take care of our own sick children or those of our veterans.
        Why should we host the children of foreigners who choose to bypass Mexico which has an excellent healthcare system for basic care?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Well, we certainly should not let them in so that we can take them straight to that Walmart parking lot.

          1. George Phillies

            I have every reason to believe that Mexico has medical facilities. Respectably good ones. What is the issue?

          2. The Rev Kev

            No good that. Walmart is kicking those fire refugees out of the parking lot and most have already left. Maybe just stop them at the border and I have the perfect solution to that. Outsource it to Israel and have them bring in their sniper teams and all the rest of it. If they kill a few hundred South Americans it will not be a problem as how many governments have really gone against Israel doing the same against the civilians of Gaza and boycotting them? (crickets)

      2. Lee

        Let them into the homes of those that want to let them into the country as long as they also provide financial support. I actually did that and more when I had the means to do so. But now my means are reduced and I have witnessed the downward pressure on wages and worker benefits, and the lack of a decent social safety net affecting my son, his friends, and so many others. I did my bit. I’m done with all that now.

  1. Kurt Sperry

    That plantidote, with its seemingly impossible, cantilevered defiance of Newtonian physics, is a beautiful visual illustration and homage to the half of the tree that remains hidden, buried out of view. Like all of our roots, sunk into the miraculous dirt.

    1. Geo

      It’s nice to see this in a relatively conservative publication (its in their title!) but where were they 17 years ago in the lead up to our current unending wars? There’s been rumblings about this on the left for a long time (I remember the first time my republican grandparents ever got truly mad at me was when my youthful idealism mentioned the preposterous amount we spent on military – sacrilege to the WW2 generation). But, the anti-war movement I was a minor part of during the lead up to Afghanistan then Iraq wars was slammed shamelessly by this publication and conservative media (to be fair, by all media really).

      It’s great that they’ve finally caught on to what us radical lefties have been telling them for decades. Be nice if they thanked us for our wisdom and maybe considered we have valid points they could learn from on important subjects like war, economics, and the environment.

          1. Jessica

            I would guess that they are descended from the old isolationist conservatives. “We came to America to get away from the Old World’s stupid wars.” That kind of thing.
            Also, they seem to not be on the payroll of the military industrial complex, which allows some clear thought.

      1. Procopius

        Wikipedia says it was founded in 2002.

        While other conservative magazines like National Review and The Weekly Standard marched more or less in lockstep with the Bush Administration, The American Conservative argued for a different course—sometimes with greater ferocity than the major political magazines on the left.


        Before the 2006 midterm elections, The American Conservative urged its readers to vote for Democrats, saying, “It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen—in America and the world at large—as a decisive “No” vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome.”

        Very strange, because one of its founders is Pat Buchanan.

      2. Paul O

        I am definitely not a reactionary minded type. However, the American Conservative regularly serves up interesting and challenging articles. I am glad it exists.

    1. Lee

      Even though I have guaranteed retirement income higher than the Canadian median household income and considerably higher than median individual incomes, Canada won’t accept me without an investment of $2 million in their economy. I come up short in that regard. I’m guessing they don’t want to take on the healthcare costs for a person of my age and I don’t blame them. Such a concern is certainly understandable and reasonable. It’s too bad Medicare won’t pay for Canadian healthcare. They’d certainly save money.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Hong Kong probably likes to know the social credit scores of those crossing the new bridge (see Links, today).

        It’s nothing to do with r*cism there, as everyone involved is Chinese.

        1. Lee

          Race, a biological fiction, is a malleable social construction. Perhaps they’ll have to invent new races, as has been done throughout history. Perhaps, some will be deemed more or less Chinese based on credit scores. However insidious, it is at least based on behavior rather than some meaningless superficial physical trait. Sounds suspiciously like the neoliberal meritocracy…..with Chinese characteristics, of course.

    1. Lee

      From the article:

      The quadrennial report, the combined work of 13 federal agencies, was released by the Trump administration on the day after Thanksgiving.

      Sorry, tomorrow the end of the world as we know it will be old news.

      1. Jeff W

        Global cooling due to solar dimming happens naturally, of course:

        Today, it is widely accepted in the climate and volcanological research communities that the major climate forcing effect following explosive volcanic eruptions is through their emission of sulphur species into the stratosphere. These are mainly in the form of SO2 and sometimes also H2S. They are oxidised to sulphate aerosols within weeks. Volcanic sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere can reduce solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface for years, thereby reducing surface temperatures and affecting global circulation patterns and generally the global climate system.

        [Endnote numbers omitted.]

        Perhaps the most well-known instance ot this “climate forcing effect” is that of the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in what was then the Dutch East Indies, the sulfate and tephra ejections of which led to a temporary drop in the Earth’s average land temperature of about 1 °C. (1816 became known as “the year without a summer”), food shortages in the Northern Hemisphere due to crop failures, the spectacular sunsets celebrated in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner, and—the result of her being forced to stay indoors with her companions at Villa Diodati overlooking Lake Geneva for much of their Swiss holiday due to the “incessant rainfall” of “a wet, uncongenial summer”—the writing by Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (soon after Mary Shelley) of her novel Frankenstein.

  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I think yesterday there was a remark (and I have heard many times before, as well), that Democrats are crypto-Republicans.

    Looking from the other way, does it mean Republicans are upfront, er, more honest (regarding how to present themselves, how to advertise themselves) Democrats?

    Or, another way of looking at it, are Republicans (come) out-of-crypt Democrats?

    *Apparently ‘crypt’ and ‘crypto’ are related and so, it is not surprising Ds and Rs act alike often.

  3. The Rev Kev

    The Andaman islands has always been a place that is mostly off-limits to visitors and I seem to recall reports of cannibalism from the 19th century. The place was responsible for five British being awarded Victoria Crosses (Britain’s highest military medal) in an 1867 expedition to those islands. I only know of this from reading about the British Regiment involved – the 24th Foot – but here is a link to that long forgotten episode-


    1. Conrad

      The Andaman islands feature in the second Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of the Four which was where I first leaned if them. Looking at the publication dates it’s likely Conan Doyle used Portman as a source. Well the less anatomical bits anyway.

    2. Eclair

      “John loved people, and he loved Jesus. He was willing to give his life to share Jesus with the people on North Sentinel island, ….”

      Among Native Americans of my acquaintance, the response to this sad tale is one of muted satisfaction. The intrusion of Christian missionaries is seen by many of them to have been just one more way the European settlers committed cultural and physical genocide. Apparently it never occurred to John that the people of North Sentinel Island were perfectly happy with their own brand of spirituality and really really did not want to have a white man’s Jesus foisted upon them.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        One wonders if the pre-Christian Free Tribes of Europe were any happier at the time to have had a brown man’s Jesus foisted upon them either.

        1. Eclair

          You raise an interesting question, dw. At what point did the ‘brown man’s Jesus’ turn into the ‘white man’s Jesus?’ Think of ‘Jesus’ as an all-purpose weapon to conquer and subdue alien peoples, be they blonde, blue-eyed Germanic types, or the brown Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Those patriarchal religions with their domineering father-god are a reflection of societies that celebrate the aggressive masculine force of human nature, rather than the feminine, nurturing force. Back to ‘paganism and the Earth Mother!

  4. dcblogger

    Corbyn’s policies include straight up re-nationalization of the railways, regulation of housing prices and the government outright building vast numbers of flats, among many other similar policies.

    In other words, Corbyn’s policies interfere with liberal market rules. They are, actually, forbidden by the EU, but on occasion exceptions are made.

    Now, retaining privileged access to the EU market was going to require some rule taking, but May has chosen to take more rules that are “no socialism” and less rules that are “treat your people decently.”

    What May has done is negotiate a deal which ties Corbyn’s hands: he can’t do his policies if he becomes Prime Minister, and he can’t leave the deal. (Well, in theory, and perhaps in practice.)


    for the first time I understand why Corbyn did not speak out against Brexit. What a mess.

    1. Yves Smith


      First, the exceptions made by the EU are more than occasional. They happen regularly given that the UK is super neoliberal and the EU pretty neoliberal. Multiple readers have given details on Brexit threads as to the many cases of “nationalization” in the EU.

      Second, WTO rules have the same restrictions, so getting out of the EU does not result in a lower level of (not often enforced) restrictions.

      The EU has lots of problems, but the disinformation about the EU is annoying and not helpful to readers. We already debunked that particular post. Please don’t link to Welsh on Brexit. This is not one of his beats and it shows.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The original Intercept article: With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons.

      It seemed to me that the China!China!China! rhetoric was much more organic (to the elites) than RussiaRussiaRussia! was (and if you believe in realpolitik, there’s a lot more reason for it). My feeling is that the knobs started being turned up with all the articles about the Uighurs. (No dead babies yet, but I imagine that will come.) Do others have that sense?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Only my own take, but I have had the feeling for years that all the Russia!Russia!Russia! phobia was much more a personal thing with the elites, hence the vitriolic. Certainly it seems to have been so with the late John McCain.
        Maybe to do with the old guard and personal grudges. Maybe some of them lost big fortunes when Russia defaulted back in the late 90s. Maybe because Russia escaped their control and the country was not broken up and places like Siberia taken over by big biz like was hoped. Who knows?
        Just got the feeling that the China!China!China! rhetoric is more a case of realpolitik as the elites have woken up to the fact that China is surpassing America in the size of its economy. Lots of Trump’s demands are basically a surrender treaty in intent. Since backing Tibet never worked out, it looks like the Uighurs are the next kids on the block. Transporting thousands of them over to Syria for training and combat experience was part of a long term plan. So yes, I agree that Uighurs are going to be the next big cause célèbre. Again, only my own take.

        1. wilroncanada

          The Rev Kev
          In S E Asia the Hmong, then the Tibetans, the KLA in the Balkans, and now the Uigars….wedges in doorways into interference in other countries. Meanwhile, at home, too many First Nations Peoples to list, are nothing (except trouble if they get in the way of drilling, fracking, or pipelines).

Comments are closed.