2:00PM Water Cooler 12/4/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Ferguson

Hundreds East High School in Denver walk out of class and march on capitol [CBS Denver]; pictures.

Ethical Society of Police of St. Louis: “Hands up” gesture by Rams players “commendable” [CNN].

“Perhaps real justice requires overhauling the whole American system” [Talking Points Memo]. But check the last paragraph:

It remains to be seen whether we—especially American progressives—will use [Ferguson] as a spark for moving the United States closer to the country we believe ourselves to be.

Well, whenever I hear the word “we,” I always check to see who’s being talked about. And then along comes the word “use,” as in “being used,” “user”… I dunno. Anyhow, I think one answer to “Why now?” — Yves mentioned a “tipping point” — that the article does not mention, and should, is Fergusonian leadership on the ground, from wherever (don’t know) and from whoever (don’t know). The persistent and steady deployment of thoughful non-violent tactics like die-ins at opposite ends of the Acela, and other major transportation nexuses, is impressive and no accident. We’re not looking at what Glen Ford calls the black misleadership class in action. Al Sharpton (“King Rat”) didn’t build this.

Rookie cop who shot Tamir Rice “distracted,” “weepy,” “could not follow simple directions” in gun training [Plain Dealer].

Obama: “I am absolutely committed as president of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law” [Politico]. He forgot “Let me be clear”.

Mexico

43 demonstrations nationwide over 43 missing student [FOX News]. Coincident with Garner protests but not co-ordinated. Demonstrations protest U.S. militarization funding in “War on Drugs” [International Business Times].

Democracy Now interview with Robert Lovato, organizer of the protests, and father of disappeared student [Democracy Now].

Mexico racks up impressive, Dirty War-level numbers on disappeareds: 26,000, which is why the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students resonates [BBC].

Mexican Federal government is complicit with the provincial government in Guerrero, and the United States is complicit with the Mexican Federal government [The Week]. Besides funding the fusion centers, drones, weapons, training, and so forth.

Incredibly, the contractor who built a mansion for the President’s wife has other contracts [WSJ, “Mexico Digs Into Ties Between Leader, Builder”]. One big happy!

Explainer on insurgents, players, and local notables in the Ayotzinapa oligarchy in Guerrero [Guardian].

Troops sent into towns plagued by drug lords and police corruption [Reuters].

Mexican President introduces bill to replace municipal police with state police, on grounds of corruption [Minneapolis Tribune]. We could help: Turn off the money spigot to Mexican cops and shut down the Drug War.

2016

Hillary Clinton has met with campaign manager prospects [Politico]. So which Clinton will we get? Pre-caucus February / pre-Mark Penn, or post?

“The ride and handling were stable. The acceleration and braking were adequate. But this car was not new” [WaPo]. Obama did Clinton no favors by introducing, in a superb display of passive aggression, the “new car smell” meme. I wonder who crafted it?

Warren keynotes at AFL-CIO [Politico]. Say, how’s card check coming?

Jebbie contacts potential staff in New Hampshire [RealClearPolitics].

Republicans: No more Mr. Nice Guy [Bloomberg].

Chart shows collapse of trust in government. Up with Clinton, down with Bush, down with Bush II Obama, at just the same slope [WaPo]. Mission accomplished.

ObamaCare

Hospitals now less likely to be death traps: 50,000 lives, $12 billion saved from 2011 to 2013 [McClatchy]. If the HHS numbers are to be believed.

Explainer on King v Burwell [Los Angeles Times].

Harkin: Democrats at the votes to pass single payer or “at least” the public option in 2009. “We blew it” [PNHP]. So much for all the excuses and blame-shifting to those mean Republicans, then.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of November 29, 2014: Fall 17,000 to expected 297,000. Prior week’s spike a fluke [Bloomberg]. Confirms “confidence in the health of the labor market.”

Consumer Comfort Index, week of November 30, 2014: Close to an almost seven-year high on falling gasoline prices [Bloomberg].

Rapture Index, December 1, 2014: Up one on oil supply/price [Rapture Index].

Class Warfare

Walmart targets Our Walmart Black Friday activists with fake protesters. Photo [The Ethical Adman].

Congress could soon allow pension plans to cut defined benefits for current retirees [WaPo]. Hey, remember when a contract was a contract? What a laugh.

In satisfying mini-moral panic, House passes bill to deny Social Security to former Nazis [New York Times]. Universal applause, including Stephen Colbert. If the price of stripping benefits from a few “few dozen” nonagenarians is stripping benefits from other “undeserving” recipients, now that the precedent has been set, the price is too high. And the Nazis got the benefits because of deals the U.S. government’s “Office of Special Investigations,” so now we see that a deal with the U.S. government can always be retraded. So who’s next?

Immigration

Headline: “Will Silicon Valley Abandon Its Fight to Help Poor Immigrants?” [National Journal]. My guess: In a heartbeat. They can get all the servants and Uber drivers they need from failed Founders.

Read this story, and when you hear “illegal,” think of it [Wired]. The follow-up to “How 4 Mexican Immigrant Kids and Their Cheap Robot Beat MIT.” I bet the MIT losers all have better jobs today, though.

News of the Wired

  • Kalashnikov rebrands AK-47 with new slogan: “weapons of peace” [Quartz].
  • Philae, the singing comet (with MPEG) [European Space Agency].
  • You’re using the web even when you don’t think you are [O’Reilly Radar]. Despite the hype for apps and the Internet of Things.
  • Google’s replacement for captchas, said to rely on tiny mouse movements [Wired]. And also cookies and IP addresses….
  • Study: “Teenagers shut down their brains when being criticised” [Independent].
  • Typography in Alien [Typeset in the Future]. A close reading of the movie, using typography as a lens. Fascinating.
  • “So why do cat people come off as so darned sensitive?” [Quartz]. Despite the obvious incitement to flamage, interesting.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) 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 (PQS):

Winter scene

Seattle’s peninsula. Icier than Maine!

Talk amongst yourselves!

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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.

98 comments

  1. dearieme

    I can’t abide Hellary, but I draw the line at this: “The ride and handling were stable.” Is he tin-eared, stupid, or a very naughty boy?

    1. hunkerdown

      Cue Ralph Nader, “Unsafe at Any Speed”. And listen to those poor overcompensated balls of self-esteem whinge.

    2. Jim Haygood

      “The ride and handling were stable.” — Dearie, that is a function of the ‘low-slung chassis.’

        1. BondsOfSteel

          Wow.

          The woman is 67 years old, ex-Secretary of State, ex-Senator, highly accomplished lawyer, and leading Democratic candidate for President… and yet people still can’t stop judging her by her suitability as a sexual object.

            1. jrs

              gays too can absorb cultural biases.

              Of course I hate Hillary as much as the next person (vicious scumbags like Hillary will soon happily take over the kill list etc. – that’s the kind of human beings they are). It’s just the appearance comments are broader than just Hillary.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              There’s plenty of good reasons for the NC commentariat to beat up on Hillary. Juvenile sexism isn’t one of them. I had quite enough of that from the Obots in 2008, thanks very much.

            3. BondsOfSteel

              Thank you.

              Not so much offended as exhausted. Sexism / Misogyny is the ocean in which I swim. You just caught me on a day where I got catcalled. If a woman with as many successes and failures as Hillary is judged solely by her appearance, what chance do I or any other woman have?

              BTW, I’m personally not a fan of Hillary. I still think her support for the Iraq war shows a failure of judgment and/or a lack of leadership and courage.

    3. Oregoncharles

      It’s riffing on Obama’s “new car smell” trope. Not very nice, I admit, but then, she’s a politician. If she can’t stand the heat, she should get out of the kitchen (and she may). No feminist calls for kid-gloves treatment just because she’s a woman.

      Obama is making exactly the same point that beat her in ’08: she represents the past, and people want change. Not that he amounted to much, except for the worse.

      A recent poll showed ROMNEY beating her in ’16. It’s a long time to then, but that’s not a good sign.

  2. dearieme

    Kalashnikov rebrands AK-47 with new slogan: “weapons of peace”: maybe they got the idea from old westerns, featuring Colt and Winchester “peacemakers”.

    1. fresno dan

      and they need to add,
      “bullets of love”

      and why stop there? how about “velocity of serenity” or “impact of compassion”

  3. Jess

    Re: “Congress could soon allow pension plans to cut defined benefits for current retirees [WaPo]. Hey, remember when a contract was a contract? What a laugh.”

    I wonder if this ties in with the G20 ruling, which targets both deposits and pension funds investments. Seems like this is a way to set up (and justify) a raid on pension funds because the “only other solution” would be to give depositors a haircut (or complete conversion to worthless bank equity). You know, “We had to seize some pension fund assets for the greater good, and now the pension plan must pay out less, but the good news is, we saved the financial system and the world economy”.

    Also, wonder if raids on public pension funds could be found illegal due to conflict with the impairment clause of the U.S. Constitution?

    1. sleepy

      And according to the article, some unions are supporting this . . . . . . not hard to believe anymore, I guess. But in a better world it would be a line in the sand.

      Since few people have defined benefit pensions nowadays, it will be pitched to the public as a bunch of overpaid, greedy retirees: “hey, I don’t get that stuff, why should they? “

        1. Ulysses

          Not the Teamsters!! We (well not those of us in the T.D.U. but that’s another story) might have let the mob build casinos in Vegas with our money, but we sure as hell ain’t gonna take no cut in our benefits!

          1. Bill Frank

            Being a long time TDUer myself, it’s good to see another here. Also being a former IBT VP, with Carey, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hoffa jump on board in exchange for a few discreet look the other way views by the IRB.

        2. sleepy

          So the article says here

          “In a proposal made more than a year ago, a coalition of plan trustees and unions said the only way to salvage the most distressed pension plans without a government bailout is to allow them to cut retirement benefits before they run out of money.”

          and here

          “The idea of allowing cuts to benefits now being paid to retirees is supported by some unions, even as it is adamantly opposed by others.”

          No unions supporting this are named however.

        1. bob

          That’s exactly what killed unions. It’s also what should save them.

          Everyone in the same boat. Everyone.

          In most cases it was union leadership that “proposed” the lower tiers, in order to be fair.

          If you start negotiating at “fair” you end up at fucked. Nowhere to go but down, in the name of consensus.

  4. Larry

    Harkin speaks truth. Obama, as the leader of the Democratic national party, wasted a tremendous amount of political capital when elected president. Of course, he was nothing more than a branded product to make people switch brands for a few years while carrying on as if everything was just fine. He could have seriously cleaned up our banks and lead us to a saner healthcare policy. He would go down as a great president. Of course, he would not end up fantastically wealthy and on the six-figure lecture circuit for the rest of his life. So we know what is more important to Obama in the end.

    1. Massinissa

      Oh hes going to be a ‘great president’, sort of like Reagan. The democrats will whitewash his reputation in a few years and do their best to make him look like Jesus to the uninformed

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Team Blue will try to remove Obama from history. They barely discuss Bill except in relation to Dunya and in vague terms as it is, and Bill was popular when he left office.

        1. AMBRIT

          Bill is still remembered with nostalgia by distressed dems. He might be Hillarys secret weapon during the campaign. For example, Bill could say, “Remember how good you all had it when I was President? Hillary is to my left, if you can believe that. She’ll be twice as good as I was. Etc., etc., etc.”

    1. sleepy

      Clawbacks of last year’s wages through seizure of refunds via obamacare non-compliance. Or clawbacks of present and future wages via the inability to properly predict wages vis a vis the subsidy amount.

    2. jrs

      discouraging Cadillac plans is a wage clawback (when it’s not offset by higher wages and who thinks it will be)

      1. different clue

        “Cadillac” plans is Obamaspeak for “adequate” plans. The slur was first mainstreamed by McCain I believe, from whom Obama gladly borrowed it.

  5. Ulysses

    Even the Italian American editor of Freemarket.net, J.D. Tuccille, certainly no bleeding heart liberal, finds the failure to indict Officer Pantaleo deeply troubling:

    “When you unleash armies of thugs on the population to enforce every petty law, they’re soon going to acquire an attitude. Eventually, telling a cop, “Please just leave me alone,” as Garner told the cops rousting him, becomes an unacceptable act of defiance. It’s interpreted as an invitation to swarm a man suspected of selling handfuls of untaxed cigarettes and wrestle him to the ground…
    Those enforcers aren’t an equal problem for everybody. They spare the people who pay them to look the other way. They give a pass to friends and relations. But they often take a dislike to individuals or whole groups that rub them the wrong way or cause them extra grief. Poor minorities, in particular, are always on the short end of the stick when it comes to dealing with cops. When they break petty laws, they don’t often turn enough profit to grease police palms enough to be left alone, they don’t have the political power to push back, and at least some of the enforcers have a hard-on for them anyway.

    Government, at its core, is force. The more it does to shape the world around it, the more it needs enforcers to make sure officials’ wills are done. “The law is the law,” says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, but it’s creatures like him who make so much damned law. And then they send the likes of Officer Daniel Pantaleo to make sure we comply. Or else they might kill us.”

    1. bob

      This bit keeps driving me nuts when I read it-
      “selling handfuls of untaxed cigarettes”

      Where was he able to buy untaxed cigarettes? My guess is that they were taxed, very heavily, in NYC, at the convenience store/bodega where he bought them.

      So, sales tax? 7-8% on an item that is taxed by the state, well before the point of sale, at over 100%, then at the point of sale for another 7-8%. They really want ANOTHER bite? One reason why people like the killed guy are able to “stay in business”- No one can afford a whole pack of cigarettes anymore. Over $12 in NYC.

      This is just more of the same stupid little detail that gets added into these stories that doesn’t add up. State police are usually in charge of enforcing sales tax issues, not NYPD beat cops. It’s just such a glaringly lame excuse for killing a man.

      1. ambrit

        The N.Y. powers have always had a problem with bootleg cigs. I’m not sure if that’s the kind on non tax they mean or not.

    2. bob

      What’s Mr.Tuccille’s view on “stand your ground”? He shows up with “NRA” an awful lot.

      I do like it when they try to pretend to be cool kids. They get all super nice and fluffy. Teasplaining. Pinkies up for the rotary club anarchists.

      It’s like Rand Paul trying to back away from his “drone the liquor store robber”, a few days after his very seriously principled stand against droning–in other countries.

      Rand also has a BIG problem with the civil rights act. Is that showing up in his anti-police PR barnburing tour?

      1. jrs

        No actually libertarians are way more consistent against nanny state laws than anyone (taxes on cigarettes etc.), so it’s not a change of position at all.

        Now of course the problem Is they think the same non-interference against what truly is individual behavior (no cigarette taxes, no big gulp taxes or what have you) is every bit as beneficial when applied to corporations and the capitalist economic system. But the problem with libertarians is not hypocrisy or waffling on nanny state laws.

        The immediate problem with cop brutality is that when cigarettes have taxes police kill minorities over it, and the larger problems are police brutality and police unaccountability and racism and poverty etc.. But as long as all that EXISTS maybe we should stop pretending the nanny state laws are so innocent. Legalize marijuana so less minorities are locked up were are told, likely true, but then tax it, and in that system they will presumably kill black men for selling otherwise perfectly legal marijuana without taxes! Remember cigs ARE legal, and a man is dead for selling them.

        1. skippy

          Libertarians from Menger on was just a concocted ideology to thwart the rise of popular socialism – democratic sociopolitical rumblings, its incoherent from is foundations and as such can only contradict its self with wild abandon.

        2. bob

          “The immediate problem with cop brutality is that when cigarettes have taxes police kill minorities over it”

          Guns don’t kill people, taxes kill people. You can’t get into one single conversation without mentioning “tax”. Sort of the point I was trying to make, but you summed it up very well in the above quote. The taxes caused the murder.

          Not some idiot cops– The Tax. The money decided that it was being held hostage, and shot the hostage? Agency abound!

          1. jrs

            No laws that can be applied to anyone will be unequally enforced against those not socially favored (in plain terms: minorities, the homeless, the poor, etc.). if one accepts that as true, one might want to look at whether the laws are actually worth that potential consequence.

            In terms of laws that govern individual behavior, it’s very doubtful it is worth it. Now if cigs were just taxed like anything else that ordinary sales tax (not talking VAT, talking the rates common in the U.S. even NY) was applied to there might be a black market for them but probably not much. It’s the very high “sin taxes” that create it. And then that “breaking the law” is unequally enforced.

    3. dearieme

      The video makes very sad viewing. It reinforces a point I’ve made elsewhere: why pick weak cases for martyrdom (Ferguson, Trayvon Martin) when you could pick stronger cases, such as this poor fellow?

      I suppose a cynic will take note that an officer with an Italian name was viewed favourably by a Staten Island jury. Of course, one could ask a large swathe of the commentariat “do you favour ethnic solidarity or not?” After all, it’s only another aspect of multiculturalism.

      1. Yves Smith

        I can’t believe you wrote this.

        Did you miss that Garner posed no physical threat to the cops whatsoever, hence the use of force was not justified AND that the chokehold used on him was illegal?

        You need to take the Harvard Implicit test. Looks like any person of color v. the cops would be a weak case in your eyes.

        1. dearieme

          Yves, have you got the flu? What don’t you understand about “very sad viewing” and “stronger cases, such as this poor fellow?” You seem to be reading the comment you wished someone had written rather than the one I wrote.

          1. cwaltz

            I believe the other day she mentioned being under the weather. I’m sure she just misread your statement. Your observation about multiculturalism and ethnic pride is pretty spot on. It’s great that we’re a melting pot that embraces diversity and welcomes each groups offerings to our culture however, we’ve got a long way to go to dispel fear for other cultures and the hive mentality some people have for those who appear similar.

            The one “benefit” of poverty is that it’s a group that tends to lend itself to exposure early to ethnic diversity because poor afflicts the full spectrum. It’s just a darn shame that so many then allow the media to manipulate them to forget that and pit each group against the other. We ALL should be appalled that the police abused their authority, not just the AA community.

          2. voxhumana

            You might as well say “some of my best friends are negroes” and your decision that Brown and Martin were “weak” cases is based on nothing but your seeming need to find an excuse for police brutality. “Very sad viewing” is self-serving tripe just so you can once again make entirely subjective assertions forged in nothing but hot air.

            You are ridiculous. And cwaltz’s defense of your relentless absurdity, by invoking Yves’ illness, is repulsive.

            1. hunkerdown

              No, you’re just smug, bourgeois and shameless about it.

              I mean, if we’re going to get into the name-calling and all, may as well bring it back to something that really, actually matters in the grand scheme of things once we stop pretending that choosing one’s master is power and come to terms with that it’s just another form of shopping.

              @Ulysses, you were looking for comprador behavior?

            2. cwaltz

              Uh in my case 2 of my NEPHEWS are AA thankyouverymuch. I am so sick to death with people tossing around accusations of racism to try and beat down people they don’t agree with. It’s one thing to disagree with dearieme’s viewpoint that in Brown and Martin’s cases were “weak” it’s another to pretend that viewpoint couldn’t possibly be valid. Even Stewart pointed out that in the Ferguson case you had conflicting testimony(also found in the Martin case) while in the case of this fellow it was all caught on tape. So how exactly is dearieme wrong in suggesting that cases like THIS one should make us question when ALL the evidence was there why did this officer get off scot free(and wondering whether it was perhaps the make up of the people asked to weigh the decision that led to the decision.)

              Personally I feel that a part of this may be because police departments and prosecutors often have close relationships. Mind you I wasn’t on the grand jury but I have to wonder in Staten Island if like Ferguson the attempt to indict was half hearted.

        2. Yves Smith

          Yes, I did read this in haste. However, I do NOT regard Brown as a weak case, nor was Trayvon Martin. My God, Zimmerman basically stalked Martin! You seem to be underestimating how much the defenders of the perps (in Zimmerman’s case, the “Stand Your Ground” gun fanz) succeeded in presenting certain “facts” that were treated as true and were difficult to dislodge even when later proven to be untrue or very much in doubt. And THAT’S a big cognitive bias: once initial impressions are formed, they are very resistant to new information. So he who controls the spin generally controls the outcome.

          So your “weak cases” aren’t “weak cases”. Any case with a motivated opposition to the dead black person will make a case seem weak by muddying information and playing on prejudices against blacks. Look at the utterly indefensible shooting of the 12 year old with a BB gun. What does the media start nattering about? Dirt about his parents. That has NO bearing on the illegitimacy of the police action, but it’s a strategy to discredit the victim.

          You’ve got Brown all wrong, and I suspect you haven’t followed the case. The cops succeeded in tarring him and pretty much all the accusations have been debunked, but none of the debunkings have gotten traction. For instance: the convenience store owner says the black man on the security camera was NOT Brown. And the store did not call in a robbery, so Wilson could not have been (legitimately) treating Brown as a robbery suspect. But the “robbery suspect” charge was thrown into the narrative by the police supporters and also stuck.

          Brown was shot somewhere between 135 and 145 feet from the police SUV, meaning he was trying to run away and was no threat to Wilson, and since he was unarmed, no threat to people at large (the other possible basis for shooting him).

          But what got Lambert, and I suspect the community, was they left Brown’s body sit on the pavement for hours. It was the extra insult on top of the killing. And it wasn’t because it was being kept tidy as a crime scene; it wasn’t taped off or secured in any way.

  6. ChrisPacific

    “I am absolutely committed as president of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law”

    This is the second time in as many days that I’ve heard this kind of phrasing from a Democrat. The other was Schumer’s comment from yesterday:

    “…first step is to convince voters that we are on their side, and not in the grips of special interests.”

    Note the sophistry in both cases. Obama isn’t arguing for everyone to be equal under the law, any more that Schumer is arguing for a break with special interests. Instead they both want to convince voters that it’s happened. Naive readers might think they are the same thing, but any observer of US politics knows better.

    Why do they do this? Obama could have left out the part about belief. Schumer could have focused on the party itself rather than voter perceptions. The only thing I can think of is that it would amount to an admission that the Democratic party had actually done something wrong, and Democrats seem constitutionally unable to admit that. In their world, even the election results don’t mean that there is anything wrong with Democrat policies or that there is any need for reform or a reevaluation of their position. It just means they have not done a good enough job selling it to the American public.

    I think both are being unconsciously revealing about their political thinking. If you are a member of a major party, moving public opinion on an issue is seen as easier than changing your position on the issue itself in a way that might upset your campaign donors or harm your fundraising. So we have politicians who screw voters while telling them it’s for their own good, watch their party get slammed in the polls, then apologize – not for screwing the voters – but for not doing a good enough job of brainwashing them. If I was a potential Democrat voter, I would find this insulting to say the least.

    1. Uahsenaa

      I get the feeling (<–weasal word) that this is pathological or coordinated–or pathologically coordinated. I made a similar comment with regard to Lambert's analysis of Obama's Ferguson speech and the phrasing "the law feels as if it's being applied in a discriminatory fashion," and how utterly condescending that is on the president's part. There as here, why can't he just !@#$ing say "there is discrimination" [FULL STOP] or "I will make sure we are all equal under the law" [FULL STOP]?

      The obvious answer? Because his DOJ has had a clear hand in making sure we are not all equal before the law. So, the best his administration has to offer is try to make us believe it.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Or alternatively, because he is not prepared to ask the hard questions about possible structural or institutionalized corruption in our courts and legal system (heaven forbid – people might start asking about the Federal courts, the DoJ, or even the Supreme Court!) he is committed to defending the validity of the court decision.

        We’ve seen in the wake of the GFC that Obama is a status quo guy, even to the extent of ignoring obvious fraud or injustices. That’s now put him in the position of having to defend racist actions against blacks, which is an uncomfortable spot for a black President to be in. So he’s resorting to Bill Clinton-style generic empathy to disguise his real position and avoid negative voter perceptions.

        This also explains why he offered to meet with protest leaders only after everything was done and dusted and it was too late to make a meaningful difference.

        1. jrs

          The odd thing is that “our first black president” Bill Clinton would have done the empathy better as pure acting performance AND might have even pushed some legislation (no not tear the system up by it roots, the whole legal system is corrupt, legislation – everyone knows Clinton was is no where near that end of any political spectrum). More like throw a few bones, do a little something legislation.

          I think frankly Bill understood racial issues better than Obama.

  7. steelhead

    Re; Hospitals now less likely to be death traps: 50,000 lives, $12 billion saved from 2011 to 2013 [McClatchy]. If the HHS numbers are to be believed.

    That statement provides little comfort to me as my late Mother died on 9/8/2011 with hospital contracted C-Diff as the major contributing cause of her death.

    1. Bill Frank

      My wife is a 35 year ICU RN soon to retire. She works in a Sutter affliate in the Bay Area. The unrelenting drive over the last 15 years in the Sutter system has been to lower the standards of care for patients, keep staffing at bare bones levels and insulate as much as is possible from liability. Practices that are common throughout the hospital industry. Although considered “not for profit” hospitals with this designation function like for profit businesses in every respect including multi-million dollar perks for the top officers. Considering the full blown manipulation of many government stats, there is little credibility left to believe this one.

  8. DJG

    Now that Lambert Strether has demolished the deep state as a fantasy out of The Crying of Lot 49, the next pseudo-meme that I’d like him to assay is “identity politics.” I see it hurled lately at the Democrats and given as the reason that the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress. (Incompetence, fecklessness, lack of principles, and lack of a political platform other than appeasement seem not to be noticed.) I find it ironic that the Southern Strategy Party (the party of aggrieved white people, which means those white people who are the true people of the USA who have been victimized by Northern Aggression and general motley, whose evangelical Christianity is ever at stake) somehow is not dominated by “identity politics.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I made it through Gravity’s Rainbow, which I thought was a lot better then than I do now, but never made it through The Crying of Lot 49. Why is it a propos?

      As far as identity politics, I’m not exactly keeping my powder dry, but it’s a complicated topic. My basic idea is that both parties have identity portfolios and the system as a whole is converging on something like 50% plus one for either side, with some mush in the middle for gaming the system in the way each party does. So we get this endless oscillation with a slow drift right of the entire system. Unfortunately, and here I’m reaching wildly, if you look at Tahrir Square, you need 80% for regime change (modulo force majeure from an outside military power). You need more like 100% – 0.01% – 10% (the compradors) – 10% (wannabe compradors = 80%. So, camn either party’s bundle of identities get to 80%, leaving aside the case of Red or Blue secession? I don’t think so. So one must contruct one’s portfolio on other grounds: Say, economic. Probably at this point the real pros are laughing hysterically at me, but today that’s how I’m thinking of it. And note that the 0.01% + 10% are making the 80% as alike as possible if you leave identity politics out of the equation. Not saying, of course, that the Fergusonians or the Walmart strikers are “wrong” in any way; what they are doing is great. Just saying what a guy with an armchair 30,000 feet in the air thinks needs to, and will happen, in the next 10 or 20 years.

      1. Ulysses

        What precisely do you mean by “compradors” in the U.S. context? I thought the term referred to locals in a (neo)colonized area who collaborate with the (neo)colonialists? I don’t think sell-out Native Americans comprise anywhere near 20% of U.S. population at this point! Perhaps we need a good word to refer to U.S. nationals who collaborate (in hope of personal benefit) with the transnational (both U.S. and foreign) plutocrats?

        1. hunkerdown

          Empires tend to turn inward upon themselves when the external frontiers aren’t playing out, operating with similar dynamics. If you consider the USA as a sphere of influence and apply the “wealth pump” paradigm without too much adherence to geography, a “core” and “periphery” can be identified in the economic flows.

        2. Ulysses

          I don’t mean to engage in useless nitpickery here, the meaning is pretty clear, it’s just that we could use a good word to describe Americans who sell out their neighbors on Main Street to benefit their masters on Wall St.

          I think that the transnational Over Class will have an increasingly difficult time finding people from the 99.9% willing to continue fetching their water. As was pointed out recently by Golem XIV:

          “The Over Class is already scared and is forcing ever more draconian measure upon and ever more angry populace. It takes an ever more militarised and violent State to do it They require ever more hysterical scar-mongering, ever more foreign enemies and ever less regard for the ideals they claim to champion. The Over Class have no answers to any of the global systemic challenges. We know it, they know it, even their supporters who continue to support them more out of fear than hope, know it. ”

          http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2014/09/next-crisis-part-three-rulers-spaceship-earth/

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          I guess, being from Maine, that’s run mostly by extractive industries, neo-colonialism seems appropriate. I admit to carelessness in language, perhaps there’s a better word. I think a domestic/international split might be appropriate, but we’d have to model the circulation between the two (e.g., fusion centers here and in Mexico).

          1. Ulysses

            In any case– I agree very much that about 10% of the population are actually beneficiaries of the status quo, with another 10% at least close enough to feel that supporting the status quo may eventually pay off. The main job of our political classes is to distract the 80% from the myriad, and obvious, ways in which they are getting screwed by the present system. Above all they must prevent the 80% from recognizing that their common interests– in overthrowing kleptocratic rule– far outweigh whatever real cultural differences exist in their midst.

      2. DJG

        Gravity’s Rainbow: Understood. You had to be there, and now, well, it has had no lasting effect. Here’s something that I cribbed from Wikipedia. Think of Trystero as “deep state”: <<Oedipa Maas, a California housewife who becomes entangled in a convoluted historical mystery when her ex-lover dies and designates her the co-executor of his estate. The catalyst of Oedipa's adventure is a set of stamps that may have been used by a secret underground postal delivery service, the Trystero (or Tristero).

        <>

  9. steviefinn

    Thanks for the Alien link – I had my first experience of the film world last year while spending 7 weeks as a sculptor, working on one of the many sets situated in & around the old paint shop in the Titanic quarter in Belfast, for ‘ Game of Thrones ‘. A fascinating experience & the devil is definitely in the detail.

    1. skippy

      The very foundations of the Milton brand was via land specufookulators… the gift that keeps giving… eh…

      1. OIFVet

        Indeed. When UChicago decided to build a monument to Old Milt, the Becker Friedman Institute, it (fittingly) privatized a one block section of the public 58th street.

        1. Paul Niemi

          The UofC might consider just giving him the existing Law School and constructing a new law school somewhere else. The existing structure doesn’t fit in (to borrow an expression from Prince Charles), as like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of an old and much-loved friend.

          1. OIFVet

            That wouldn’t give Obama’s FIRE buddies the opportunity to develop virgin territories. You are right about the building though: It is an ugly monster. Whoever thought it was a good idea to build it on the same campus that includes Harper Library and Bond Chapel, my personal favorites. Many good hours in the Harper reading room, and many good performances heard in the intimate atmosphere of Bond Chapel and its terrific acoustics…

  10. OIFVet

    Pepe Escobar: Exit South Stream, enter Turk Stream. “And then there’s a Rumsfeldian “known unknown”; how the weak Balkans will feel subordinated to the whims of Ankara. As much as Brussels keeps Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia in a strait jacket, in energy terms they will start depending on Turkey’s goodwill. For the moment, let’s appreciate the magnitude of the geopolitical shockwaves. There will be more, when we least expect them.”

    Escobar has that one nailed: the Balkan historical memories run very long, and Ottoman rule is still a very fresh memory. So did Putin just pull a judo move and sow the seeds of chaos in NATO and the EU’s periphery? Only time will tell. Personally I like the Turks as people, but in BG with its large Turkish ethnic minority not everyone feels that way. Neither do they in Greece and Serbia. My hope is that it is a different type of seeds that were sown, ones that will see the Balkans realize that they have common regional interests that are not necessarily the same as those of the EU as a whole, and carve out a more independent course that is based on regional cooperation. Which, of course, MUST include Turkey.

  11. Jay M

    its not like the chinese or the turkish might not want to make money producing steel for a pipeline . . .

      1. OIFVet

        Oligarch Pinchuk’s Interpipe was one of the biggest losers after the coup. ” Russian Customs reports this week that imports of steel pipes from Ukraine have dropped by 50% or more, compared to 2013.
        Steel industry sources in Moscow are predicting the Russian market may have closed to Ukrainian steelmakers, as Gazprom and Rosneft, the largest buyers of pipes, are directed by the Kremlin to buy instead from domestic pipe mills…During 2013 Pinchuk was an advocate of the partnership agreement with the EU, and an outspoken critic of the alternatives proposed by the Kremlin, and by ousted President Victor Yanukovich.” Disquiet on the Eastern Front.

          1. OIFVet

            I’m sure they are, but they are unlikely to find them. From the same article: “While Interpipe waits for a recovery on its eastern front, the latest export results for the European Union (EU) reveal that Interpipe’s attempts to increase European sales of its pipes are running into tough competition from French and other trade rivals. Interpipe exports to the EU are unlikely, trade sources claim, to compensate for its losses in the Russian market, as well as in Kazakhstan and Belarus, which belong with Russia to the Eurasian Customs Union.” The moral of the story: oligarchs are simply not as bright as everyone thinks. Besides the partnership agreement with the EU, Pinchuk has spent millions lobbying against Russia in Washington and is closely connected with the Clintons. I guess the guy forgot the golden rule: one should not crap where he eats.

            1. hunkerdown

              Interpipe waits for a recovery on *its* eastern front? Telling! It’s bald speculation on my part, but any guesses on who has a boatload of letters of intent from Shell, Burisma and the others who were looking to frack the Donbass into sinkholes and oblivion? In which case it’s not exactly stupid; it’s just that the “full faith and credit of the United States Government” isn’t very faithful or credible in this case.

  12. prostratedragon

    Another thanks for the Alien typography link, from a movie fan and typography hack. There are 2 other posts available at the link, which I’m sure I’ll be getting to.

    ==
    “We produce books for the discriminating collector. The compulsive inmates set the type, the listless ones do the binding and prepare the ink.” –Dr. Royer-Collard, [i]Quills[/i] (2000)
    (At this point one other person in the movie audience also cracked up audibly.)

  13. art guerrilla

    blah blah blah, world coming to an end, blah blah blah…
    sure, but what about the important story of how cat owners are weird ? ? ?

    just one question for them: HOW MANY cats have been shot by kops during their home invasions ? ? ?
    yeah, *that’s* how much puss’n’boots ‘loves’ you: he’s flipping the deadbolt for the donut eaters to come in and blow away spot…
    see spot bleed, bleed, spot, bleed…

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