2:00PM Water Cooler 7/5/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, what I am assuming is an emergency has prevented me from doing a full Water Cooler today. I’ll explain later. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

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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 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 (Skookum Red):

Skookum Red writes: “Several years ago my wife stopped at a local garage sale and left with a free bushel basket of several varieties of bulbs. My wife planted them all over our yard. The daffodils arrive first, followed by the tulips.” So the tulips survived our little speculative episode…

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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. ambrit

        Not to be too snarky, but, you sound like an economist: “First, assume an emergency.”
        Luck and good fortune in your wrestle with “the angel – Art.”

        1. anon y'mouse

          not to be too English Teacher, but “any emergency” leaves the possibility open that there is not one. and Lambert himself said the emergency was assumable. “any” also leaves open the type of emergency it might be, therefore variability in severity.

          if someone doesn’t want other people to “assume emergencies” then they shouldn’t say they are doing so. or am i wrong?

          on this website, i am so often wrong. so it’s hard to know

          1. ambrit

            I commiserate.
            The older I get, the more I understand, the less I know. (This can be formatted as a tripartite “Round Mantra.”)
            Also, the archaic (?) meaning of “assume” can imply the shouldering of an extant burden of Fate.
            Agreed that “assume an emergency” implies indeterminacy.

  1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Stranger Things 3 came out yesterday.

    I had been looking forward to this show for months. Its all Neoliberal garbage plot twists – RussiaRussiaRussia, Malls, Toxic Male Newsroom…

    Netflix is one of our Robber Baron Horsemen thats threatening to shut down my local movie theatre, itself a Robber Baron – AMC. Capitalism will not stop until theyve strip mined my entire fucking childhood.

    Toys R Us, Fun Arcades, Mom n Pop anything, Sid Mars, Trampoline and Sprinkler place, Franks Baseball Cards, Jazzland, Radioshack, Fun Works, Discovery Zone…

    Lakeside Mall is still thriving in Metairie so i guess i have that. Plus our grocery store has actual people…

    1. sleepy

      I moved to New Orleans in 72 and was amazed how much retail was downtown when many cities were already hollowing out. 20 yrs later it was nothing compared to what it was. Lakeside has benefited as downtown has removed itself as a center for most locals and rebranded itself for tourists and hipsters.

      1. ambrit

        The Northshore became the Bedroom Suburb of Choice back in the late seventies, early eighties. All the middle class families moving to Mandeville and Covington helped the “All American” hollowing out of New Orleans and Metairie.
        The flip side is that New Orleans has been the most consistently European of the larger American cities. The exodus of the “American Dreamers” can only reinvigourate the polyglot ‘teeming masses’ that make a metropolis interesting.
        New Orleans has always been ‘interesting’ and will continue to be so until the rising sea level gobbles it up, or, to steal a phrase from Robert E Howard; “…the oceans drank New Orleans and the gleaming cities…”

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Worked in Nawlins back in 91 and 92, installing a phone system for Ochsner.
          Had an apartment in Metarie, not far from the mall and causeway.
          Always refer to New Orleans as the smallest big city I worked in, definitely had a European feel to it.
          Really miss it at times, the food and care free attitude are unmatched anywhere else in murica.

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Yeah the Northshore is where a couple of cousins moved to. Covington to be more exact. One had 5 kids with her Oil Worker Husband and the other is a pool mason.

          1. ambrit

            That’s the fun part about the Northshore. You can make a living building swimming pools for suburbanites.
            Go north thirty miles or so and you’re smack dab in Redneck country. Folsom, Enon, Sun, Talisheek, Bush, Franklinton, Mt. Hermon, Abita Springs, Madisonville, Goodbee, and points north blend into the Neo-Gothick South.
            We lived in Covington when it was still a pretty small County Courthouse town. We wouldn’t recognize it now.

    2. Knative

      Ya, Stranger Things was kind of annoying. The Reagon-loving anti-commie pro-America BS was a little off-putting and it didn’t make sense. How could the Russians build such a complicated base under a mall with the US authorities not noticing?
      Very bad plotline.

    3. remmer

      That’s really disappointing. I was looking forward to it, too. But the people I know who are hoping for a Biden-Harris ticket will probably like it.

    4. John Merryman.

      Efficiency is to do more with less, so the end goal is to do everything with nothing.

  2. Montanamaven

    Whoever of you here recommended “The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America 1788-1828” by Cornell, thank you!
    Fascinating look at the men and women who tried to argue for keeping much of local government rule. Also responsible for the “Bill of Rights”. Seems they lost the argument that put in a more Federal system, not because they had “the weaker argument but because they had the more complicated argument to make:” How to have the most individual freedom within the context of community service. I also liked their arguments for pseudonyms. The Federal Farmer and Philadephiansis were two anti Federalists. Philadelphiansis felt strongly that “anonymity countered the persistence of deference.” In other words, people can’t help taking the word of some rich person or somebody from an Ivy League school. Stupid. “Men of Humble Origin should come forth and challenge the authority of their social betters.”

    1. Swamp Yankee

      I think that might have been me who recommended Cornell’s book — it really is excellent. Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. richard

      I think snookum is referring to one of the first (if not the first) speculative bubbles in human history, in 17th century holland. The tulip bubble! Everybody really loved tulips! Then not so much.
      I am banking everything on a big cherry tomatah bubble in 2019 ;)

    2. tegnost

      It seems his wife was stricken with the dreaded “tulip mania”…and it looks like it has bloomin’ paid off

    3. rfdawn

      That’s a nice-looking mix of plants. Speculative gardening gets you more pleasant surprises.

  3. Farragut

    More ‘shadow-banning’ of Tulsi Gabbard by CNN. In an article about women running for President, the author mentions six women are running, but his focus is on the top two: Warren & Harris. Deep in the article, he mentions that Gillibrand & Klobuchar are “barely registering in [the] polls” without ever mentioning the names of Gabbard & Williamson – who are also barely registering in the polls.

    1. WJ

      The propaganda is so obvious to anybody not solely dependent on cable news–and that number is ever dwindling–that you got to wonder what it is supposed to accomplish anyway. In the airport last weekend I could not help but notice a blaring CNN Headline: “Harris Gains on Biden in Iowa.”

      “Pay no attention to a certain popular senator from Vermont!” it might as well have read.

    2. Cal2

      Home made bumper sticker

      Print on white paper with word processor,
      cut to size, mount on back of car with white glue at eye level,
      cover with clear packaging tape to waterproof:

      “They want you to ignore
      Presidential candidate
      Tulsi Gabbard

    3. whoamolly

      Yes, Gabbard is systematically banned. Despite winning the debates, and being a compelling, telegenic candidate.

      Her message of ‘end the endless war’ threatens to break some very large rice bowls.

    4. jrs

      it works like this:

      1) placement on the debate stage, and apparently if you are allowed to interrupt, and somewhat how much time you get in a debate, is based on POLLING
      2) polling is based almost entirely on media coverage (Bernie has major name recognition so he escapes some of this, but he’s unique and won’t be allowed to happen again, which is another reason we are running out of time to change things). Feel free to argue that the mayor of south bend would be way up there in polling if it wasn’t for media coverage.
      3) the media run debates additionally slant questions to their favorites, ask some people hard questions and others not etc.
      3) ability to get into further debates is based on polling which is based on the debates and media coverage, rinse and repeat

      It’s obvious, the most obvious thing in the world. And they call it democracy.

      1. Chris

        I agree. The DNC and others will keep changing the rules until they get the results they want too. The likely result that I see from all this is discouraging voter turnout among likely Dem voters and Dem leaning independents (“they don’t listen to us and our votes dont count”), while encouraging Trump supporters and Rep leaning independents (“Look at what they did to their own people! Imagine what they’ll try to do in November!”). Meanwhile, the consultant class will pretend they know what’s going to happen and won’t suffer any consequences if they’re wrong. It’s a nice racket if you’re in the Insulated and Consultant Classes.

        1. WJ

          When will late Insulation start to wear thin, do you think? Surely not later than a decade further down the path we’ve been on since 1980 or so?

          1. Chris

            I don’t know. I just really like Peggy Noonan’s formulation of the “Insulated Class” and how clearly it explains things. There’s a class of people in our society who will never suffer for their mistakes and will never lose their status or livelihood for their failures. They make rules that exclude them and their friends. This class of people needs to be reckoned with before any change in our western capitalist society can be made.

    5. Carolinian

      Today St. Clair takes a series of weak shots at Gabbard here.


      He seems to think Gabbard’s willing service during the Iraq war makes her suspect whereas the association of Warren–his preferred candidate–with Madeleine Albright doesn’t faze him at all. Gabbard would have been in her early 20s when she signed up for the military. Warren is in her late 60s as she signs up for Madeleine Albright. Which one has revealed their true character?

      Elsewhere in today’s Counterpunch the less than great Paul Street takes on the great Ken Silverstein–one of the founders of the magazine incidentally–for showing dubiety toward the chances of Warren and all the current Democrats versus Trump. But Silverstein is right, at least when it comes to Warren. Gabbard may not have much of a chance either, but you’d think people would recognize political talent when they see it.

      1. Chris

        I agree. And I find it odd that he’d criticize Gabbard that way. As I recall, and as news article less from the time back up, it was not common knowledge what was happening in Iraq and other theaters in 2004. People were all much more rah-rah America back then. I note that articles in Medium and other magazines called out Tulsi’s use of the uniform and war record to smear her in favor of an opponent. And that they call out Tulsi’s right wing issues without mentioning Liz Warren’s right wing bona fides.

        1. Carey

          St. Clair seems to have been gotten-to, and for awhile now.

          CP is a shell of what is was under Cockburn.


      2. Nancy Boyd

        Regarding Warren: if it’s as if no one remembers Dukakis.

        And at the time of Dukakis, it was as if no one remembered Adlai Stevenson.

      3. richard

        Thanks for linking that. His reasoning about Gabbard is truly demented. It has a kind of a walter winchell hatchet job feel of someone else phoned it in. It makes no sense. Nice job jeffrey you putz.

  4. John Beech

    So Wolf Richter writes about the jobs release and hopes the Feds don’t see it because it shows the world isn’t falling apart (presumably meaning, then 3-4 cuts may not be on the table). But at the same time, the transports are facing apocalypse. Just the facts. Me? I hope they cut, and do it fast.

    Wolf – https://wolfstreet.com/2019/07/05/i-just-hope-the-fed-doesnt-see-this-jobs-report/
    Transports – https://finance.yahoo.com/news/truck-shippers-feel-chill-of-slowing-us-economy-merrill-lynch-144626940.html

    1. a different chris

      This is so ironic:

      Employers are very reluctant to raise their labor costs by even small percentages, because for many of them, labor costs are over half of their total costs, and raising wages has an instant and big impact on profits.

      “Many of them” actually be “service industries as opposed to manufacturing.” Manufacturing holds that cost way, way down. Scared to speak the truth, I guess.

      A service business might have an employee percentage of 50 percent or more, but a manufacturer will usually need to keep the figure under 30 percent.

      (from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/calculate-employee-labor-percentage-1)

      But industry is what we offshored. I guess it’s hard to offshore butlers and maids.

    1. curlydan

      Speaking of Bob Dylan, I watched the Rolling Thunder Revue documentary on Netflix. I really liked it. I love that mid-70s “Desire” era Dylan, and the documentary also featured interesting performances by Patti Smith, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Allen Ginsburg, and even an unexpected appearance by Sharon Stone.

      Here’s a hard rocking “Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall”

      1. Carey

        I hope to see that Rolling Thunder Revue documentary, assuming there will
        eventually be a DVD or something available.

        One 70s thing he did is one of my favorites: ‘Up to Me’, which as far as
        I know was only released on the Biograph set, though maybe that’s changed, as things do.

  5. Bill Carson

    According to Malcolm Gladwell and his “Revisionist History” podcast, the men who carried out the Boston Tea Party weren’t patriots protesting against taxation without representation as much as they were drug smugglers trying to prevent competition. Gladwell argues that Boston merchants would smuggle tea from China without paying taxes and duties, and that they dumped tea into the harbor to keep cheap British tea from cutting into their profits. It’s an interesting listen.

    1. nippersdad

      Apropos of nothing save for your reference to revisionist history, I absolutely loved Trump’s “teleprompter malfunction,” with the Continental Army overrunning the airports to keep out British Airways by the light of the rockets’ red glare at Fort McHenry.

      He is starting to rank right up there with Bush-the-lesser for memorable malapropisms. If we MUST have mentally deficient presidents, they can at least be amusing. Circuses with no bread are better than no circuses at all.

    2. PKMKII

      Wasn’t the reason the British East India Company tea was cheaper was because the crown gave it a special discount on said taxes and duties in order to give it artificial market dominance? Effectively, making the tea party a protest against corporatism for the TBTF of the day, and leveling the playing field a bit, rather than about taxation generally.

    3. Montanamaven

      I am a Malcolm Gladwell skeptic. But there is always some truth in his musings.
      There were many protests against the Tea Tax which was kind of a small tax.
      Many Tea Protests
      I’m reading “Paul Revere’s Ride” by David Hackett Fischer. His take is that the Colonists were already getting pretty steamed about “taxation without representation”. And even though the tax was small, they were getting tired of Parliament telling them what to do. And this was an attempt to bail out the floundering almost bankrupt East Indian Company. Sounds like the colonists did not like the idea of corporate bailouts. It could also be true that the American merchants had found a way to get their tea from Holland and China and didn’t like the idea of East Indian Co. dumping cheap tea in the US and paying a tax on it to boot. So probably both self interested American merchants and independent minded colonists who were getting sick of Parliament led to all these “tea events”.

      1. dearieme

        The smugglers couldn’t continue to make a dishonest living once the tax on legit imports was reduced.

        It really doesn’t take much explaining.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I can’t remember if Fischer hits on it (I mostly remember the book for the lessons about organizing; Paul Revere deserves a poem, even if its grossly inaccurate), but the real problem is the events of 1774 and 1775 were largely repeats of 1767 events which were still about bailing out the East Indian Company. Without having to look too hard, this is a pattern in successful revolutionary environments. They usually represent the second round of a crisis. Fischer addresses it if I recall it, but this situation isn’t a main point of his book.

        The other item to remember is the age of the colonists. The estimate is half the population was under 18 in 1776. How soon before London begins to treat the colonies as another Ireland? English immigration to the colonies largely stopped around 1700.

    4. Synoia

      The English view is that after the expensive French and Indian wars, the New World settlers wanted to expand over the Appalachians, westward.

      And they wanted the Crown (Parliament) to pay for their Military protection (they were looking for a free ride).

      Parliament imposed the taxes, unfairly as the Large MultiNational of the day, The East India Company, lobbied parliament because they were not trying to expand westward and should not have to “pay the tax.”

      That any such tax was paid by the settlers escaped Parliament attention (It is hard to persuade a man on one course of action when he is paid to ignore it).

      The was nothing honest about UK Parliament in the late 1700s (Rotten Boroughs comes to mind).

      Consequently this unequal taxation on transportation was stoked to inflame passions, and the rest is History.

  6. Eduardo


    KLM have launched a new advertising campaign, which actually encourages passengers to fly less. The campaign, branded as ‘Fly Responsibly’, was launched on the 29th June with an open letter from the CEO published in all major international papers. Now, it’s been underpinned with a video advert, urging passengers to consider how they fly.

    KLM Urges Passengers To Fly Less In New Advert

    Possibly good marketing and may slow the roll on any potential regulation. As if.

  7. Carey

    ‘Born on the 5th of July’, by Rob Urie:

    “..Without rule by the rich, the people of this country, and the world, can make a go of it. I’m involved in village and city government and go out of my way to know the municipal and government workers, the people who work for a living and those who hold down chairs and porch steps during the day because they’ve been economically excluded. They are mostly decent. And when called upon to make decisions, they generally rise to the occasion. The problem is that they are never called on to do so because Western political economy is controlled by the rich.

    Frankly, I would rather tend my garden than help stir up a socialist revolution. But the trajectory of capitalism leaves little choice. Environmental crises will force a profound transformation of economic relations. Paradoxically, liberal technocrats are the least capable of conceiving the path forward. It isn’t just that if you chased the idiots out of Harvard and Yale, the service staff would be the only people left. The theory of knowledge that guides them renders the world largely invisible..”



  8. DonCoyote

    More repackaging of the “coalition of the ascendant”:

    Texas May Cost Trump 2020:

    My takeaway:

    Beto couldn’t win in 2018, even against probably the most hated member in the Senate that he outspent by 50%. Trump’s 2016 Texas margin was 9% Any neoliberal Democratic candidate is Texas toast in 2020.

    1. Carey

      Corporate media really pushing hard the theme that Trump! can’t “win” next
      year, so they can claim shock! and surprise! when he does..

      this is what a dying culture looks like

      1. richard

        They’ve never for a moment reflected on what brought trump there. For short term causes you’ve got obama’s betrayals, of homeowners, of anti-interventionists, of everybody except the bankers and mic really. Can’t go there. Not allowed. There’s also the free msm publicity for trump, which is not to be overpondered. Oh, and clinton not campaigning in the industrial midwest, picking kaine, screwing the left in general, being condescending and remote. Definitely remote. We really can’t look too much at that.
        And the long term causes: 2 parties but no labor or working people’s party, all the contradictions staring us in the face, the barely hidden gaslighting. Umm, let’s not get into that either…
        Our only hope for the irrelevance of these useless figures.

    2. neo-realist

      Texas is a hard red state nut to crack, and I would say that even for a quality democratic candidate it would be extremely tough to win in. Voting R is hard wired in the bone marrow of the masses.

      Ann Richards was an anomaly who got lucky with 3 percent of the vote going to the Libertarian candidate in the gubernatorial race 30 years ago.

      1. anonymous

        Senator Ralph Yarborough was a titan of real progressive politics in Texas. He clobbered George H w Bush in the early 60”s Senate race so bad that from then on Bush had to rely on appointed positions to advance his career. Yarborough”s policy positions and legislative achievements should be a model for today. And, he was wildly popular; he even out-shined LBJ

        1. Carey

          Thanks for that bit of history, which is so helpful here in the U.S. of
          Amnesia. I’ll go read up on Sen. Yarborough.

        2. neo-realist

          Having read a bit about Yarborough, my concern is that given today’s DNC leadership, he would be opposed much in the way similar progressives have been and big donor friendly blue dogs in the mold of Bentsen, the candidate who defeated him, would be promoted by the DNC instead.

          I believe the leadership would have to change in order for a good progressive in the Yarborough mold to have a a shot in the party.

          1. anonymous

            Youre right — and it’s worrisome. But there’s more to it than Bentsen tacking to the right. Yarborough had real Salt of the Earth political skill and he was using it to address the fundamental political/ economic power structure of Texas. (Compare him to George HW Bush, who had no political chops and no constituency whatsoever, but eventually got appointed Chairman of the National Republican party by Nixon — who himself called Bush “a lightweight.” ) By the time Yarborough was primaried and lost, there were the assassinations, the Vietnam war, urban riots, student unrest, and (President )Johnson returned to Texas in disgrace. . .Yarborough had been undermined by forces that were anathema to his politics. But the denouement for progressive politics in Texas, I think, was Roger Staubach and the Dallas Cowboys! Over night they became America’s team; nothing else mattered. I don’t know how old you are but this was powerful electronic spectical. Everything shrank in comparison. All the commercials for the cars and trucks (no body even noticed that Walter Ruether had died either.) Monday Night Football served as Reconstruction after the Vietnam War. Ralph Yarborough’s constituency — America’s constituency — were forgotten.

    1. RMO

      Nice to see – I love that era of design. They could film a live action Venture Brothers movie in that place!

    2. Oregoncharles

      Wonderful. I was in the TWA terminal back when it was operating – made a layover almost pleasant. Saarinen’s work was good cut above most modernism.

  9. Oregoncharles

    Sadly, I cannot grow tulips without a good deer fence. The little deers consider them candy. Dinner plate hibiscus, too. Roses, but I have fences around those. Not beautiful, but at least I have some roses.

    Hope the emergency turns out not to be.

  10. Wukchumni

    We were sitting by the campfire in Mineral King when our chairs began reacting to the newest shaker movement, and we were out like greased frightening, in one of those sub 5 temblors that’s more like a 20 second thrill ride. It sounded as if the same thing was felt in both LA & Las Vegas according to the news, with little damage reported.

    It’s all about proximity, and 7.1 in Trona-adjacent is a long way from most everywhere save Ridgecrest, and I hope JCC has weathered the ground storm~

  11. Alfred

    (meaning to reply to the comment by Oregoncharles) Perhaps Eero Saarinen’s work was a “good cut above most modernism” because it wasn’t modernism. It just looked like modernism.

Comments are closed.