2:00PM Water Cooler 12/27/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, thank you for all the excellent suggestions for books to read yesterday (and consider collectively taking yourselves up on your suggestions, too). For the duration of the Naked Capitalism holiday season, I’m going to run Water Cooler as an open thread.

Here, however, is a conversation starter: We received a wonderful Christmas gift from the Department of Schadenfreude in the form of this story from the Washington Post: “Rachel Maddow rooted for the Steele dossier to be true. Then it fell apart“:

She was there for the bunkings, absent for the debunkings — a pattern of misleading and dishonest asymmetry.

I know this WaPo story was in Links, but since comments are off there during our comments holiday, perhaps it did not meet with the seasonally appropriate merriment and revelry it might otherwise have induced.

So talk amongst yourselves! Do remember, however, that this is a holiday for the moderators as well, so don’t make them work hard. Be excellent to each other.

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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 and coral 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 (Stephen V):

Stephen V writes: “Our Buckeye is looking good but nothing else has budged color-wise in our part of flyover country.” Nice tree!

Again, if any of you go out on your Christmas walks with camera (or, I suppose, phone), I’m running out of plants. Wintry plants would be especially appreciated!

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! 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 donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

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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. The Rev Kev

    That being the case, I wish to add some music that I heard from the gaming world to go with that Rachel Maddow story-


    It took a Rhodes Scholar to buy into a bogus story that most commenters here could have shot down by pointing out the facts. Maddow is entitled to her opinions but she is certainly not entitled to her own facts.

  2. John Beech

    Rachael Maddow is the principal reason I no longer watch MSNBC.

    Here’s what most rabid Democrats don’t understand. I voted for Donald Trump whilst holding my nose. And will again if they don’t offer me a viable candidate. HRC wasn’t it. Uncle Joe isn’t either. Neither are any other than Bernie. Thing is, Bernie scares the bejesus out of the establishment (and I don’t fool myself into believing Democrats and Republicans are anything but two sides of the same coin).

    And while I wandered away briefly, I do have a point, which is I’d be in 100% favor of impeaching Trump IF he did something worthy of being impeached. He hasn’t. In fact, the guy – with the exception of doing zero about health care – has pretty much done what I hoped he would. And if the Dems block Bernie again, since nobody on their ‘team’ will do anything about health care either, I’ll vote for DJT once again.

    However, the calculus changes if Sanders is the nominee.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And given that the Clintobama Establishment figures all without one single exception are antiRussianitic racist antiRussianites who support reckless brinksmanship with a thermonuclear armed Russia, voting Trump would also be a means of raising the chances of national bio-physical survival by lowering the chances of Thermonuclear War.

  3. Jonathan Holland Becnel


    Thx, Capitalism, for forcing me to either pay money to espn or walk 4 blocks to Traceys bar to watch the LSU game. Game should be free to watch!

  4. ewmayer

    WaPo (deservedly) throwing Maddow under the bus strikes me as very much a case of “pot, meet kettle”, given how hard WaPo was trying to justify the FBI’s using the dossier to get a FISA surveillance warrant as not unreasonable. From that 2018 WaPo explainer:

    “Sometime in this summer period, the FBI obtained a secret court order to monitor Page’s communications, after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, Russia. According to CNN, Steele’s reports were part of the justification used to win approval of the court order, though the FBI apparently corroborated the information as part of its investigation.”

    Now in the Maddow-under-the-bus piece WaPo admits that the FBI corroborated nothing of interest in the dossier:

    “The Horowitz team didn’t attempt an independent fact-check of the dossier, opting instead to report what the FBI had concluded about the document. Unflattering revelations pop up at every turn in the 400-page-plus report. It reveals that the CIA considered it a hodgepodge of “internet rumor”; that the FBI considered one of its central allegations — that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had traveled to Prague for a collusive meeting with Russians — “not true”; that Steele’s sources weren’t quite a crack international spy team. After the 2016 election, for instance, Steele directed his primary source to seek corroboration of the claims. “According to [an FBI official], during an interview in May 2017, the Primary Sub-source said the corroboration was ‘zero,’” reads the report.”

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