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Links 11/19/11

By lambert strether of Corrente.

Shocker: MF Global fund probe challenges “error” theory FT. Dear Jon: “Even Madoff had the class to run a proper Ponzi scheme requiring charisma, finesse, and time” Big Picture.

Cost of doing business: Source: Merrill Lynch agrees to $315 million MBS settlement Reuters (George Washington).

The mess in Washington: Big Food sinks its feeding tube into school-children. McClatchy (YS). Right wing headline generator Eli, FDL. D’s “Satan sandwich” starts tasting pretty good The Hill (YS).

Must read: The Occupy Movement has a RESTful API Atlantic. Interestingly, Roy Fielding’s well-known 2000 thesis, which characterizes the architectural style of the Internet as REpresentational State Transfer, shows how REST meets a requirement for “anarchic scalability”. (Simon St. Laurent)

Gas wars: Speaking of network effects, first-mover advantage for frackers (DLS). Delaware River Basin Commission postpones meeting to approve fracking regulations WSJ. Schneiderman weighed in Reuters; Obama punted Wayne Independent. No doubt ’til 2013, like Keystone. Also, too, Girl Scouts.

Occupations: Area man ticketed for two or three honks in support of Occupy Denver, Denver Westword. Mayor-For-Life Bloomberg and free and open-source Internet technology Motherboard. Mayor-For-Life Bloomberg and the free press RT, and Columbia Journalism School letter [PDF]. Mayor-For-Life Bloomberg and the rule of law Glenn Greenwald. And: VIDEO: Oakland Police Strike Army Ranger With Nightsticks On His Back, Ribs, Shoulders and Hands, Lacerating His Spleen and Causing Internal Bleeding (George Washington). “This Cannot Be the Way Occupy Ends” Charlie Pierce. No worries.

Eurogeddon: Eurogeddon (or not) in chart form MacroBusiness (DLS). Spanish indignados refuse to give either party their vote Reuters. “Nobody” leads Greek polls Reuters. EU staff threaten strike on austerity EU Business (Warren Mosler).

China: “Why didn’t you call the police after being beaten?’” the child asked FT.

Burma BBC: Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party to register for future elections The Statesman (India).

Antidote du jour: Shelby the border collie, courtesy OccupyDenver.

Shelby the border collie, elected leader of Occupy Denver

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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.

82 comments

  1. Richard Kline

    What if they held an election and “Nobody” won?
    What if they held a revolution and “Everybody” came?
    What if they took a poll and “Damned Lies” led?
    What if the cameras rolled and “Common Knowledge” went live to the world?
    What if we started marching down “Better Way?”
    What if we gavea book—any book—to the first person we met asking only “Pass It On?”
    What if we took a bill from our purse, lit it up in the street, aaaand all said “Maya Is A Liar?”
    What if for one month we all just didn’t pay one cent on one loan/debt/installment of the money-lie system, but just sent them a post card snail way, saying, “You’re All Overdrawn on Our Reality Account?”

    [Tag it here and pass it there, friends]

    1. Dan Duncan

      What if they held an election and “Nobody” won?
      [It would have to mean “Everybody” lost, right? But if “Everybody” lost due to the fact the “Nobody” won, does this imply that we’d be better off if one of these morons won?]

      What if [they] held a revolution and “Everybody” came?
      [[I assume you mean ‘What if “WE” had a revolution]…But even correcting for this error–which kind of detracts from the “poetry”–it’s a stupid question: If “Everybody” is revolting, who are they revolting against…Themselves?]

      What if they took a poll and “Damned Lies” led?
      [It would mean that everything the poll says is a lie. But, of course…I could be lying!]

      What if we started marching down “Better Way?”
      [We’d end up on “Cliche’ Street”.]

      What if we gavea book—any book—to the first person we met asking only “Pass It On?”
      [Hopefully we will have “gavea” book on spelling.]

      What if we took a bill from our purse, lit it up in the street, aaaand all said “Maya Is A Liar?”
      [It would be another failed attempt at achieving the Nirvana of Profundity. “Maya” refers to illusion, Richard. Are you saying “The Illusion of Money is a lie?” You picked the wrong God to call “liar”, Richard. Again, it kind of detracts from the “poetry”.]

      What if for one month we all just didn’t pay one cent on one loan/debt/installment of the money-lie system, but just sent them a post card snail way, saying, “You’re All Overdrawn on Our Reality Account?”
      [Wow. Just Wow. Joan Baez Wow. F*cking Bob-Dylan- How-Many-Roads-Must-A-Man-Walk-Down-WOW. ]

      1. craazyman

        I got the impression Joan Baez was sort of confused at first by Occupy Wall Street. Maybe she regrouped and found her mojo, but I’m not sure she’s been the same since she fell out of her treehouse.

        The movement needs some good music, for sure. Something that rocks like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son.

        Something that all the boneheads can rally around and still feel macho. ha hahah ahahahah.

        1. psychohistorian

          “And it’s whispered that soon
          if we all call the tune,
          Then the piper will lead us to reason,

          And a new day will dawn
          for those who stand long

          And the forest will echo with laughter.”

          Stairway to Heaven
          Led Zeppelin – 1971

          1. emptyfull

            Here are the lyrics. The video is really well done too.

            We Are The Many
            Lyrics and Music by Makana
            Makana Music LLC © 2011

            We Are The Many

            Ye come here, gather ’round the stage
            The time has come for us to voice our rage
            Against the ones who’ve trapped us in a cage
            To steal from us the value of our wage

            From underneath the vestiture of law
            The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw
            At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw
            And until they are purged, we won’t withdraw

            We’ll occupy the streets
            We’ll occupy the courts
            We’ll occupy the offices of you
            Till you do
            The bidding of the many, not the few

            Our nation was built upon the right
            Of every person to improve their plight
            But laws of this Republic they rewrite
            And now a few own everything in sight

            They own it free of liability
            They own, but they are not like you and me
            Their influence dictates legality
            And until they are stopped we are not free

            We’ll occupy the streets
            We’ll occupy the courts
            We’ll occupy the offices of you
            Till you do
            The bidding of the many, not the few

            You enforce your monopolies with guns
            While sacrificing our daughters and sons
            But certain things belong to everyone
            Your thievery has left the people none

            So take heed of our notice to redress
            We have little to lose, we must confess
            Your empty words do leave us unimpressed
            A growing number join us in protest

            We occupy the streets
            We occupy the courts
            We occupy the offices of you
            Till you do
            The bidding of the many, not the few

            You can’t divide us into sides
            And from our gaze, you cannot hide
            Denial serves to amplify
            And our allegiance you can’t buy

            Our government is not for sale
            The banks do not deserve a bail
            We will not reward those who fail
            We will not move till we prevail

            We’ll occupy the streets
            We’ll occupy the courts
            We’ll occupy the offices of you
            Till you do
            The bidding of the many, not the few

            We’ll occupy the streets
            We’ll occupy the courts
            We’ll occupy the offices of you
            Till you do
            The bidding of the many, not the few

            We are the many
            You are the few

          2. psychohistorian

            Thanks for sharing….very powerful.

            Back in our day we had this band, you may have heard of them, called the Beatles. They put out some powerful lyrics too and it makes me wonder what the thoughts are of Sir Paul these days.

            I hope we laugh harder this time…..

        2. Maximilien

          Muses’s “Uprising”:

          Rise up and take the power back,
          It’s time the fat cats had a heart attack,
          You know that their time’s coming to an end,
          We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

          They will not force us,
          They will stop degrading us,
          They will not control us,
          We will be victorious

          Powerful, powerful song. It’s recent (2009?) and it was a hit with the kids. Occupy’s anthem shouldn’t be some old fart song—that was for the ’60s. Just the opinion of this old fart.

        3. Richard Kline

          So craazyman, I don’t think the Occupation Anthem has been written yet. It will come from within when so.

          If there is an extant stong which captures this movement best, though, to me it’s by far Leon Rosselson’s _The World Turned Upside Down_ (which is distinct from an older ballad by the same title). Billy Bragg did a version which gained wide currency. I recommend the performance by Dick Gaughan as much the best, from the time of the anti-Thatcherit miners’ strikes in Britain; quite up-tempo, brilliant guitar, full-frontal Glasweigan brogue, the kind of song you could get your change-the-world on to.

          This song is about the radical anti-property, communitarisn English Diggers briefly active int he chaos after the First English Civil War. The present Occupation movement is the direct cultural and political descendant of the Diggers action; there has been a continuous socio-cultural perspective from that time to the present of this type. While many on the ground at the Occupations see what they are doing as ‘wholly new,’ being up close for a pores-and-all view, this perspective is clearly _quite old_. I will add that in my perspective analyzing historical trends, this perspective has been building and what we see is not simply a recurrence but something of a culmination. It’ll take a couple of years at least to confirm that observation, but I think it’s sound.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Russia builds direct pipeline to Germany for natural gas. There seems to be an effort for oil independence, not based on wind or solar but natural gas. From the drumbeat for the Marcellus Shale Salvation Traveling Job Revival commercials and happy happy happy rust belt Lazarus comes back from the dead in Youngstown OH stories, to the Moscow/Berlin/Paris triumvirate, gas seems to be the Western way to extricate itself from the ongoing nightmare of the MiddleEast/Islam world. Nightmare for the Western biz interests that is, as they watch their former colonies walk their own way and charge us through the nose for oil.

      From I. Wallerstein Twice a month comments:

      “Here is a list of the most important coming non-events that we have been loudly debating and analyzing: Israel is not going to bomb Iran. The euro is not going to disappear. Outside powers are not going to engage in military action inside Syria. The upsurge of worldwide popular unrest is not going to fade away.

      Meanwhile, to minimal serious coverage in the media and on the internet, the Nord Stream was inaugurated in Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Coast on Nov. 8 in the presence of Pres. Medvedev of Russia and the prime ministers of Germany, France, and the Netherlands, plus the director of Gazprom, Russia’s gas exporter, and the European Union’s Energy Commissioner. This is a geopolitical game-changer, unlike all the widely discussed non-events that are not going to happen.

      What is Nord Stream? Very simply, it is a gas pipeline that has been laid in the Baltic Sea, going from Vyborg near St. Petersburg in Russia to Lubmin near the Polish border in Germany without passing through any other country. From Germany, it can proceed to France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain, and other eager buyers of Russia’s gas.”

      http://www.iwallerstein.com/parisberlinmoscow-axis/

      1. Susan the other

        Just thinking about oil. There is a long list of chemicals/products which the world produces and uses, all made from oil. Not so natural gas. Maybe rather than an energy source, oil is being saved for these purposes. Does the chemical industry pollute the atmosphere with CO2 as much as cars and machines using oil for fuel? I think it was Jim Hansen (of global warming fame) who talked about how future generations wouldn’t be able to understand how we simply burned such a valuable resource.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Thanks, Marley. Devastating truth about Dubai. I saw the name, “Raouf”, attached to a hotshot in Dubai. Isn’t the name, “Raouf” connected with the mosque-Islamic cultural center near the Twin Towers location in NYC?

        What is Mayor Bloomberg’s connection with *his class*, the 1%, in Dubai? Who profited from the sale of that property?

    1. psychohistorian

      This is interesting from the perspective that the Saudi’s represent the more visible members of the global inherited rich.

      It should be clear to them and the rest of the puppet masters that their class based social system is beginning to collapse. It can’t come soon enough for my taste.

      Laugh the global inherited rich out of control of our society and into rooms at the Hague where they can be prosecuted for our social degradation.

    2. Hugh

      The Saudi regime is a despicable dictatorship. It is just such a wonderful illustration of how in the bag Versailles (the Washington Establishment) and its courtier press are that any mention of this salient fact is considered taboo and punishable.

      No one should be surprised by this special treatment. If Gadhafi had had the KSA’s oil reserves, he would have received the same reverence, Lockerbie notwithstanding. One of the great PR coups in history was that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis. The Saudis turned on the oil spigots for 6 months cutting the price of oil in half ($25 > $12) and all was forgiven. And that Saudi society is and remains the single greatest funder of terrorism against the US was quietly forgotten.

      With that kind of backstory, it can not be any surprise that William McCarren, the Press Club’s executive director (and founder of US Newswire, a company whose principal client is the US government) would run slobbering all over himself to stifle Sam Husseini and his inconvenient questions.

      I mean you really need to understand what an out of touch, elitist cubbyhole the National Press Club is. They didn’t admit women reporters until 1970, for chrissakes. And if you go now to their homepage, you will see no mention of the incident with Husseini (and they call themselves a Press Club). There is one link to an article on Turki al-Faisal’s appearance, but again no mention of the Husseini incident in it. Organizations like the Press Club are all about access. Speakers like Turki al-Faisal wouldn’t come to them if they faced real questions. They come to them precisely because they know such questions won’t be asked.

      1. G3

        “If Gadhafi had had the KSA’s oil reserves, he would have received the same reverence, Lockerbie notwithstanding.”

        He should be also a “friendly” dictator in addition , not a “rogue” dictator, to receive the same reverence.

        1. Hugh

          “Rogue” is all relative. Again 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis. That wasn’t a fluke. You have to look at how the Saudi regime is structured, how it tolerates extremism as long as it isn’t pointed on at the regime. Gadhafi’s efforts at terrorism were minor compared to what the Saudis have funded and promoted. But the Saudis have a lot of oil so despite their treachery, they remain our good buddies. Remember all those shots of Bush holding this or that Saudi royal’s hand even after 9/11? You can be as rogue as you want as long as you have enough oil.

          1. G3

            I think we are on the same page mostly. By “rogue” and “friendly” – I meant from the US perspective, not in an absolute moral sense or how they treat their people. Saudi, Bahrain, Jordan monarchs are friendly in that sense. And Saudi is the worst offender of human rights. Saddam went from being a friendly to rogue dictator status. Ghaddafi – rogue to friendly to rogue. Though Iraqis and Libyans enjoyed good healthcare and education systems through their oil wealth.

            Iran and Iraq were #2 , #3 in terms of oil (or the reverse?) but they became rogues at some point. But Saudis control the world oil tap through OPEC. And it is a big deterrent against USA. Greg Palast mentioned that Saudis can drive down the price of oil and still survive for at least a year before taking hit economically while other countries get screwed.That way they are very powerful. I don’t know if Saudis will ever go rogue – start standing up for Palestine and clashing with the US for example. It will be very interesting.

            By the way, Arab league passed a resolution calling for a “no fly zone” over Israel at about the same time as Libya. But it just turned out to be symbolic.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      G3, thanks for the link above, whose presentation of the “Satan Sandwich” is a *fatal distraction*.

      We cannot get to the heart of the ISSUE of the *1%fix* in global Monopoly Capitalism until we master Thorstein Veblen’s acute comprehension of our “Leisure Class” utopian *American Dream* society, as set forth in his “The Theory of the Leisure Class”. His champion today is –the complex genius, Prof. Guido Giacomo Preparata, who “is engaged in redifining and reshaping the meaning of research in the social sciences. His desire is to see the study of social phenomena free from the rationalistic fanaticism (be it Liberal or postmodern) that holds sway over the halls of western academia.” (http://guidopreparata.net/)Despite this lofty goal, Preparata serves *the People* perfectly right now, due to his *Master Chops* as research analyst and writer over a number of fields: “Economics, Crimonology, Political Economy,” etc. (see website). It is fair to say that *his time has come*, and that *We the People* are the beneficiaries of this good fortune, if we dare to be.

      The *Satan Sandwich* depicted in the link above is a *fatal distraction*, because it is a misleading interpretation of the original metaphor, leading us farther from the ISSUE of the predicament of the 99% today: the *end times* of *Late Stage Capitalism*. The original reference was to the UNNUTRITIOUS, SWEET, UNDERCLASS CONFECTION bought by the poor to stave off hunger–what a nutritionist might call a *facsimile of real food*–which very few if any of the 1% have had cause to encounter (yet it is not limited to those of African descent, as chiterlings *chitlins* tend to be).

      The image of this *Satan Sandwich* as original metaphor is that of the *creamed People* SMASHED between two uniform large round cakes, made of the same batter and *cookie-cuttered*. The *Satan Sandwich* is as far from the caviar and filet mignon of the 1% as anything that can be imagined. This is, according to the Black M.C., the incredibly_insulting_fare offered by the *first Black President*–who promised to deliver “Change We Can Believe In” through “The Audacity of Hope”–to the woefully abused *middle* and *working* classes of the People of the U.S.A.

      The current champion of Veblen, Prof. Preparata, conveys Veblen’s comprehension tersely but fully in an article posted on his website: “Industrious Rebels and Deterring Captains: Defiance Interpreted through a Veblenian Reformulation of Strain Theory”–which I encourage all to study closely, for it conveys *our dilemma* in a nutshell.

      One paragraph alone suggests the way to_clarity_ when contemplating the *Satan Sandwich* uniform cakes, whether *Democrat* or *Republican*, smashing *the creamed People* in between. Preparata quotes Veblen (op. cit.):

      “The strain of self-assertion against odds takes up the whole energy of the individual; he bends his efforts to compass his own ends alone, and becomes continually more narrowly self-seeking […]. In order to reach the upper levels the aspirant must have [pecuniary attitudes] in such an eminent degree as to overcome very material difficulties that stand in the way of his ascent.” [p. 4]

      Then Preparata makes the point:

      “Crime and strife are means to the deprecated end of pecuniary affirmation, and, as such they are the economic expression of conservative[italicized] individuals issuing from middle- and low-classes, who are attempting to rise through the ranks.” [p. 4]

      “Conservative” is the word italicized; and this defines the true personality of the 1% by any name. Unfortunately, it defines ALL who have bought into the *American Dream* of rising to the level of *The Leisure Class*–for this is what the *American Dream* is all about. Hence, it is the_root cause_or the predicament of the 99% today, because we are globally fixed within the sphere of *Late Stage Capitalism*, which is an *Ultraconservative* Monopoly Capitalist System of the global 1%. This System is the same as that which reigned during Hitler’s “Third Reich” (actually Germany’s Holy Roman Reich III), which is characterized by ruthless *Neoconservative Financial Lebensraum* carried out by the global 1% since the Reagan *putsch* according to the diktat of Leo Strauss&Co. of the University of Chicago and Neoconservative *Academia*.

      Preparata’s article, “Suburbia’s ‘Crime Experts’: The Neo-conservativism of Control Theory and the Ethos of Crime should be of vital interest to the *Black Caucus* due to the incarceration rates of men of African descent in U.S.A. A *crucial* point Preparata makes is:

      “‘State monopoly’ at the top and[italicized] ‘competition’ at the bottom: here we find, again, two (non-necessarily contradictory) stapes of Neo-conservative thought, whose composition is also revelatory of a certain kind of Straussian elitism[italicized]–the kind that easily possess one to pontficate on the merits of ‘self-mastery’….” [pp. 5-6].

      Later, he writes [of the effective *collusion* that makes the *System* work in *American Dreamland*]:

      “…The upper-and upper-middle class (the elite) shares to some extent with the lower ‘business’ classes an involvement in financial fraud and tax evasion, het the former usually goes scot free whereas the middling strata, when caught, are customarily made to pay an infinitesimal toll of the annual stream of embezzled and undeclared funds. That this is so is dictated by the institutionalized preeminence of banking and finanvce as (predatory) tools of managerial and political organization: noblesse oblige. At the specular end of the social scale, low class-delinquents are entrusted the management of services that are critical to the upper echelons, but decorum-wise more or less inadmissible: after all, have not the urban rackets functioned as ‘one of the queer laders of social mobility in American life’? Depending on the evolving geometries of backroom politics, the bosses (the mobsters of ‘organized crime’) may either go on undisturbed or pushed aside in some fachion, whereas ‘the hands’ (of ‘ghetto-crime’) exist as the expendables committing out of habit the very delicts that will send many of them to prison.” [pp. 8-9]

      Again, the Black Caucus must be alert to the BigCon, in which *ghetto-crime*, *gangsta rap*, and *private for-profit prisons* lubricate the *Elite Machine* of the 1%. Now the 99% should_devour_ the substance of the articles posted at http://guidopreparata.net. *We the People*, the 99% must extricate ourselves from the global elite rackets.

      We see that the *American Dream* is the *Big Con*, for it enlists the *middle-class* to perpetuate the myth that “anyone can rise to the top in America*, in order to suck the *working-class* and *poor* into the Machine, forestalling revolt, if not revolution, by the 99%. But with the collapse of the *American middle-class* the truth is out: in a world of diminishing resources where *global population* is *lumped* together during the phase known as *Late Stage Capitalism*, the *Global 1%* will take all necessary steps to keep the *rabble* (now including the former *middle-class*) at bay.

      The case for solidarity and Lebensraum by the *Christian* Neocon 1%, in an effective *Mein Kampf* for the *Elite* Class: the notorious book published in 1993 by the *TFP* in York, PA, entitled: “NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII. The Foreword by Morton C. Blackwell, makes it plain that the *Global Elite* of the Holy Roman Empire included ALL Neoconservative *Elites* in the U.S.A.: *Republicans*, the *military elites* and the *Deep South Confederacy elites* now in common cause with the *elite* DNA of the Victorian and Holy Roman Reichs of Europe–which constitutes the global *Fourth Reich* in actuality (the Holy Roman Reich IV), an *Elite Machine* well-oiled by Americans UNTIL NOW.

      With the utmost respect for Prof. Preparata, I pray that the appetite of *We the People* for his written works will have been whetted by what I have quoted here. His most prominent books are: “CONJURING HITLER…” and “THE IDEOLOGY OF TYRANNY.” Numerous articles, including the ones quoted here, are available at: http://guidopreparata.net.

      [Diclaimer: I have never contacted Prof. Preparata, and am not affiliated with any of his spheres. Since I write under pseudonums, he does not know who I am.]

      Deepest gratitude to Yves Smith and NC for this opportunity to assert my *freedom of speech* as one of the 99%.

      1. LucyLulu

        Why exactly was the pepper spray necessary? And what they were doing that was illegal. Is sitting in the middle of a sidewalk illegal? Was it because the police felt their path was obstructed? If so, could they not go around them? Or was it just a pissing match (“I told you to move, dammit, you’re going to move”)?

        Not to mention how the officer was able to walk up to a group of students sitting quietly and shoot them with pepper spray in such a deliberate and non-plussed fashion. Many people, myself included, show more hesitance when they are forced to spray bugs.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          True, but that’s not the story. Watch all the way to the end. The story is the Occupiers talking the cops down with the People’s Mic, even though some of them had their weapons raised. Courageous!

          Another way to say this is when the narrative is in a reactive mode, focusing on what the police do, the Occupiers lose. But they are the active force, the police are reactive (and in any case functionaries). Focus on the active, not the reactive. Using the people’s mic in that situation… That’s creative, daring, courageous… That’s what needs to go viral here (IMNSHO).

          1. LucyLulu

            I watched a couple more times to double check but I had a little bit different take. The police were backing up and leaving, having cleared the path. Something happened to cause them to stop and raise their weapons. Something happened that made them nervous. From the video, you can’t tell what. I would speculate, emphasis on speculate, it was an action on the part of one or more protesters that was perceived as threatening. The mic check and following chants WERE brilliant, but as a quick move to defuse tensions, adding some structure to refocus protesters on their passive stance, AND reassuring police that “we wish you peace”. Once it was clear the situation had defused and police were leaving, the chant was changed to “you can go” (making it feel more like a win for protesters, but to me seemed more like closing the gate after the horses have left….. no need to tell them that though).

            That was just my take, based on guesses/assumptions about what had happened outside of camera view. I could be dead wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. I’m known to have an active imagination.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Lucy, replying to your comment above, you could be right. I want to go through it frame by frame tonight. Nothing really speaks for itself, does it? No matter the exact sequence, though, it’s a much, much richer event than the pepper spray. I’d welcome any further thoughts — including provenace, clues to the editing proces, and so forth.

          3. montanamaven

            Breathtaking the courage of these students. Around 5min25sec, “our university” starts. Around 6 min 15 secs the cop raises his rifle and human mic starts. “Give you a moment of peace”. “You can go around 6 min 50 sec.

            Stunning courage. While the old militia farts around here count their ammo and wait for the gubmit to come and get ’em.

          4. patricia

            I agree with lucylulu. It was a deliberate “military maneuver” front to back and they didn’t lose control at all. Police were backing off already at 3:11. There’s a cop on the right somewhere around 6:00 who got upset but he was told “Back off” at 6:05 and “Let it go” at 6:11. “Mic check” began at that point.

            At 6:30, a cute little dramatic performance occurs, performed by the red-mustachioed cop who did the spraying. “Nyahnyah, we got you!” he mimed.

            There is a MSM videographer there. He is nodded at twice: at 2:53 by the cop-in-charge, and then at 6:50 by the red-mustachioed creep. Check it out. Both policemen knew this guy and were approving his actions. Can anyone read his label at 2:51-2:53?

            I’m very glad the students responded so heroically. It ended up trashing the intention of the crappy little maneuver. It was hard work setting it up and it was completely blown up by true heart. Hah!

        2. barrisj

          “…shoot them with pepper spray in such a deliberate and non-plussed fashion.

          Not to be a grammar Nazi, but non-plussed is one of the most misused words in the English language, as it is properly defined as “perplexed, puzzled, bewildered”, etc. In fact, its catachretic use is its own antonym, strangely enough. A better choice of words within the context of the sentence would be “casual, untroubled”, etc.

          1. mookie

            Meaning shift happens. Or: words have no meaning except in how they are used.
            That said, I’m fascinated by words that come to mean their opposites, so thanks for this. Other examples off the top of my head: pithy is now used to mean lacking insight and empathy and sympathy have swapped meanings in poopular usage. Can anyone think of others?

      2. Foppe

        James Fallows, Atlantic:

        I can’t see any legitimate basis for police action like what is shown here. Watch that first minute and think how we’d react if we saw it coming from some riot-control unit in China, or in Syria. The calm of the officer who walks up and in a leisurely way pepper-sprays unarmed and passive people right in the face? We’d think: this is what happens when authority is unaccountable and has lost any sense of human connection to a subject population. That’s what I think here.
        Less than two months ago, it seemed shocking when one NYPD officer cavalierly walked up to a group of female protestors and pepper-sprayed them in the eyes. The UC Davis pepper-sprayer doesn’t slink away, as his NYPD counterpart did, but in every other way this is more coldly brutal. And by the way, when did we accept the idea that local police forces would always dress up in riot gear that used to be associated with storm troopers and dystopian sci-fi movies?

        If you watch the whole clip, you see other police officers beginning to act “human” in various ways — taking off their riot helmets, being restrained rather than unbridled in use of force, a few of them even looking abashed or frightened as they walk off.

        This Occupy moment is not going to end any time soon. That is not just because of the underlying 99%-1% tensions but also because of police response of this sort — and because there have been so many similar videos coming from cities across the country.

        1. EmilianoZ

          “And by the way, when did we accept the idea that local police forces would always dress up in riot gear that used to be associated with storm troopers and dystopian sci-fi movies?”

          That’s our brave new police, straight from “Brazil” (Terry Gilliam). The Obama police, brought to you by Goldman Sachs.

          Some months ago, Chris Hedges called the protestors “the best among us”. After watching this video I know why.

          http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_best_among_us_20110929/

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          When the cops get in touch with their *inner abused child* they may come around, realizing how they were set up for abusing others as they were abused themselves.

          Let’s hear more from Gabor Mate, M.D. I wonder if he could make a direct appeal to the cops who are *owned* by 1% who are compulsively abusive in crude and subtle ways. If they begin to understand how they have been “played” by abusers from childhood through adulthood, so that their *neuronal circuitry* has set them up for the Global Police job, they might dare to break out of their prison and join the protesters at Occupy All.

    1. EmilianoZ

      Very powerful video! The determination of those youngsters gives me hope that the movement will last. Those cops should use their conscience from time to time.

      Those students are incredible! WOW!

    2. LucyLulu

      Hot off the press, a voice of sanity in the wilderness:

      SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California, Davis has launched an investigation in the wake of video showing an officer using pepper spray on a group of protesters who appear to be sitting passively on the ground with their arms interlocked.

      Calling the video “chilling,” UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said on Saturday she is forming a task force made up of faculty, students and staff to review the events surrounding the protests a day earlier. Katehi made the announcement in a message to the campus.

      In the video, the officer displays a bottle before spraying its contents on the seated protesters in a sweeping motion.

      Police have said protesters were warned repeatedly beforehand that force would be used if they didn’t move.

      http://news.yahoo.com/uc-davis-launches-probe-pepper-spray-video-203442713.html

      1. Rex

        “Police have said protesters were warned repeatedly beforehand that force would be used if they didn’t move.”

        Therein lies the problem with this. The protestors were sitting peacefully. Had the cops felt it necessary to remove them, I’m sure they could have just tie-wrapped them and hauled them off, one at a time. Instead that one guy starts immediately with pepper spray on the whole group. I guess we are expected to be thankful that they didn’t start by clubbing them or shooting them.

        Until the other day I didn’t realize they stocked pepper spray in the giant fire extinguisher sizes. That’s the same tool they used in Seattle after they boxed in a group where the 90-year-old lady was one of those sprayed. The cops opened up immediately with at least three of those giant canisters.

        When I was a soldier in Vietnam, many times, I could have killed or maimed people, but I had enough morality to not do that. These guys are thugs.

  2. Pete

    Finally! Seattle’s finest use their cunning and guile to track down occupy terrorist cell leader, 84 year old Dorli Rainey and strategically take her vision out with “non-lethal” pepper spray. Everyone is safe!! The park is clean of filthy, bike riding, socialist senior citizens! Hey, did you guys hear about the Kardashian break-up? What’s everyone getting for Christmas?

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/314567

    And many thanks for fighting our wars for us. How about a ruptured spleen for your troubles, eh?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/18/occupy-oakland-police-beating-veteran?newsfeed=true

  3. sudeep

    I am appalled by the gratuitous violence directed by the police towards non violent students and protesters. I wonder why is it, that police feel emboldened to lash out at OWS protesters and why we see a supine acceptance of the militias and so on.

    I think the reason is the militias own Guns and the demonstrators dont. I dont know why liberals and people on the left let go of this huge right of carrying weapons.. I can gurantee you, if the police knew that the demonstrators owned tons of rifles, their behavior would have been different.

    1. PQS

      I, too, have been quite shocked at the displays of force. What is the purpose of this? Do they really think they can intimidate everyone in America with this stuff? It looks terrible on television, and I’d bet that many Americans are horrified by this stuff. Yes, there are plenty that hate “the hippies” and cheer the cops, but most Americans I know don’t like the idea of the police state writ so large on their TVs.

      I feel quite convinced this is the Homeland Security apparatus at work….as has been pointed out here and elsewhere, cities across America are hurting for money, yet they’ve somehow found the money to pay for these armies of cops on OT to roust people from sleeping bags in the middle of the night? Really?

      And, as I was talking with a friend last night – the cops and municipalities are dragging out this much force NOW? Before we’ve even had a disruption in the food supply or other major disaster that I’m certain is coming?

      What will they do THEN?

      1. Foppe

        What is the purpose of this?

        “Yes We Can”?
        I duno, it all strikes me as pretty gratuitous, as well as exceedingly weird. How does a (“Democratic”) mayor convince him/herself in just a few short weeks that this is the appropriate response? Why aren’t they more hesitant, or why don’t they need slightly more time to convince themselves to take these actions rather than less violent ones? I simply do not understand the mindset behind it, assuming that most mayors probably do not have any experience managing such protests, and I don’t really believe that it’s simply police commissioners making these decisions, or telling their mayors that this is the way to respond, either.
        But who am I..

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Foppe: Why does any of this strike you as weird? After all, these are Democrats we’re talking about, here. I’m sure the [no doubt DHS-facilitated] conference calls made everything quite clear, including the consequences for mayors who didn’t play ball.

          1. Foppe

            Lambert: You are quite likely right, but it still strikes me as perplexing that they’re so successful at getting them into line (either thanks to a strictly enforced monoculture or in some other way). Because even though I imagine the mayors are still dependent upon federal funds or whatever, I’d still expect them to be at least somewhat more independent, and I’d expect there to be at least a few more principled mayors. If only because their constituencies are generally rather smaller, and that their actions are much easier to keep track of by their constituencies. I mean, this willingness to play along isn’t universal (Philly’s mayor seems all right), but in the cities that do listen, there seems to be little to no hesitation to (allow the) use excessive force.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Replying to Foppe: Remember, during the end game for ObamaCare, when Obama took Kucinich for a ride on Air Force one? Before: Kucinich pro-single payer, unalterably opposed to ObamaCare on principle. After, one day after, Kucinich prancing round the House floor, actually whipping for the bill. I think Obama must have left a pony’s head in his bed.

            I think, incidentally, that the authorities are handling the Occupations in a way that shows weakness, not strength. See the link on the Occupation API for the horiztonal scaling issues that, I’m guessing, have the smart ones worried.

          3. Foppe

            Sure, Lambert; but again, my surprise comes from the fact that in the case of these mayors, we’re not talking about washington directly; secondly, whereas it is largely inconsequential how any given House rep votes, this is far less true of mayoral decisions. Which is why I would’ve expected the national party structure to have somewhat less influence.

            As for their choice to rely so heavily on violence being a sign of weakness: no argument from me there. :) (Which is not to say that it is necessarily ineffectual; it served/serves Yeltsin, Pinochet, etc., quite well for quite a while.)

        2. montanamaven

          It has to be coordinated or dictated by Homeland Security which was never about terrorists and always about keeping US citizens under control. TPTB created another place to funnel tax payers money into their cronies pockets. There was a story a few years back when I still had a radio show about a city in Rhode Island I think that was broke but had all kinds of hazard gear for a chemical or biological attack. More recently it was pointed out that Michael Chertoff has stock in the body scanner company.

          Perhaps since 2000 they also weeded out any cops with any kind of empathy genes. Even so, the amount of violence is breath taking, literally. Very primitive.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            montanamaven, last I heard, Chertoff_owned_the body-scanning company, and is not just a stockholder in the company. Of course, *stockholder* could be short-hand for *majority stockholder of voting-class stock*.

            Either way, is this not a patently corrupt situation?

        3. Hugh

          Defining moments tell us who is who and what is what. Just as the healthcare debate showed us that when push came to shove there wasn’t a single “progressive” in Congress who wouldn’t dump their progressive principles and vote the corporatist line, so the OWS movement is showing us how deep the rot extends into the ranks of mayors and local government. Mayors should have been attending OWS gatherings and showing solidarity with them. Instead they have been plotting and authorizing excessive force against them. Indeed how is it exactly and what kind of priorities does it show that such cash strapped governments can find so much money to combat a non-violent movement?

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Hugh, “the piper plays the tune,” or “they know which side their bread is buttered on.”

      2. montanamaven

        The Atlantic piece is indeed a “must read” and good as a primer for people unfamiliar with OWS and a bit behind technically. Thanks for pointing it out. Also the link in it to Occupyhistory.com is cool too.

      3. barrisj

        When Sgt. Anthony Bologna pepper-sprayed the three women during early days of OWS, that set the tone for police conduct and state violence everywhere an “Occupy” demo would break out. The coppers know that a huge, disproportionate show of force, with attendant beatings, gassing, grenades, etc., would put to flight all but the most dedicated (or foolhardy) who choose to exercise their 1st Amendment rights. As long as demos consist of dozens or even hundreds of people, mass mobilisation of police from across several jurisdictions will be enough to terrorise demonstrators into abandoning their protests, as no amount of videos, live-streaming, YouTube highlights, whatever, is going to deter maximum state-sponsored violence against demonstrations. “Police felt threatened…”, or “This is an illegal assembly…” are now-familiar justification for arrant and unprovoked brutality, and few judges will call coppers to account for their actions. However, when the people turn out in hundreds of thousands, that is where police violence simply is overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and eventually “the authorities” will just let demonstrators get on with it, as it is no longer “cost-effective” to attempt to crush huge multitudes with finite resources. Mass movements, when taken to the streets in a non-violent manner, are the best deterrent against runaway police actions. Remember, they were efficacious enough to cause a sitting President to refuse to run for a second term in 1968, and were conducted with minimal police hindrance due to their sheer weight of numbers and heterogeneity in makeup.

          1. PQS

            “I think, incidentally, that the authorities are handling the Occupations in a way that shows weakness, not strength.”

            Absolutely. I keep returning to the Civil Rights marches. When did the tide start to turn? When the non-violent protesters and lunch counter sitters got arrested and booked into jail? When MLK delivered his eloquent speeches? No. It was after Bull Connor and the fire hoses and dogs were turned on innocent people and kids.

            The National Conference of Mayors needs to stop listening to Homeland Security and start having some history lessons if they don’t want to be remembered as a bunch of goons.

      4. Anon

        The point of the police actions is to nip protest in the bud, to deprive, harrass, insult, belittle, render futile.

        To depress.

        In the hope that OWS/OE pack up, and go away.

        Pour encourager les autres, as a wise Frenchman once said, commenting on a state-sanctioned murder.

        These tactics used in NYC and the rest of the western world are mild compared to how these protests are being treated elsewhere. Tahrir Square is reoccupied, and the murders begin.

        Think of how Aristide was hounded out of Haiti after winning a legitimate election, by Clinton. Think of the collapse of the Mexican state under NAFTA. Think of Oscar Romero, shot dead on the steps of his cathedral.

        These are the distant cousins of the US-sponsored death squads that murdered and tortured their way through Central America in the Reagan 80s. When those populations wanted social justice – healthcare, education, housing, jobs – just like the 99% in the US do now.

        These are the distant cousins of the US Army torturers at Abu Ghraib, at Bagram, sad right-wing fucks so co-opted and hollowed out, that they are used against their own class.

        Repression always has an ugly face, but there are degrees.

        Hold on for the ride, it gets a lot bumpier from here.

  4. M

    Roberto Saviano, Italian anti-mafia journalist, spoke at Zucotti Park this morning. It was a good and interesting speech and I thought NC readers would like it (in Italian and English):

    http://www.robertosaviano.it/articoli/roberto-saviano-a-zuccotti-park-roberto-saviano-in-zuccotti-park/

    (I currently have an Italian house guest who was amazed that this man was speaking at all and was not going to miss it for anything! I found out about it because I’ve been following Nouriel Roubini on twitter :) and he mentioned it yesterday.)

    1. Anon

      Saviano’s book, Gomorrah, was turned into a film:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0929425/

      The guy lives under 24/7 police protection. Not a negligable thing for him to go down to Zucotti – in fact, a great act of solidarity that could get him killed.

      But he faces that every day. Guy has balls of steel.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Anon, you are quite right. Saviano is the epitome of a Mensch; and in his domain, Preparata is not far behind. Every non-criminal of Italian descent should do likewise, in order to separate themselves unequivocally from Organized Crime, and help to lead the 99% in victory over the Global Criminal 1%. Why should Italians remain the scapegoat for the Global Reich Masters of organized crime? They should begin to defy the 1% who “pigeonhole” Italians thus, while they perpetrate the most monumental fraud *in the history of the world* through 1% *identity economics*.

  5. emptyfull

    Re: man ticketed for honking horn.

    I wonder whether this horn-honking criminal reads Supreme Court decisions? Money = speech. Therefore more money = more “free” speech. This guy is a student so he doesn’t have enough money to speak in ways that other people might hear him. He’s still allowed to speak against economic inequality, of course, as long as he whispers, in his perfectly clean, refuse-free appartment, preferably while muffling his face with a pillow.

    Now, if he just decided to use his speech to support the ideas of really rich people like the Koch brothers, he could honk and shout as loud as he wanted. Cause they’re loaded.

  6. abprosper

    This kind of aggression is not new. It was just like this in the 30’s, 50’s and 60’s, more so in many ways.

    However the basic reasons the cops behave so aggressively are

    #1 They have near legal impunity. The powers support this kind of conduct and even good cops are susceptible to “Standford Prison Experiment” follow the leader-ism

    #2 The police have the same mentality as gang members. “You ain’t my set, you ain’t my friend. Its actuality worse in many ways as gang members actually face more likelihood retaliation if they anger too many people than cops do.

    #3 The training the have demands this, its a kind of “blitzkrieg, shock and awe, scardy cat must never back down less you lose and are doomed” training and mindset. This is a methodology designed back in the 90’s during the violent crime wave and while its much less suitable now, its reasonably successful by whatever measure their administrators and rulers use, it won’t go away.

    #4 This is actually most important IMO, they are very very scared. Not of these kids but of being fired and the collapse they are expecting. This stuff effects them as well. Les money, less training, less social acceptance, more threats and a real chance of becoming poor is a lot of loss. In cop logic “support the system” and you can stop the collapse, false but police are mostly average blokes, not deep thinkers.

    I suspect as things get worse they will get more and more brutal in an attempt to keep order.

    This will have shall we say bad consequences in the medium term .

    If things really break down, the good cops will be private security for communities and the bad ones marauders or gang goons pretty much as happens in other hollow states.

  7. Foppe

    Al-Jazeera: “Clashes erupt in Cairo ahead of elections”

    Thousands of police have clashed with demonstrators for control of downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square, leaving at least one protester dead and 676 others injured, health officials said.
    The violence on Saturday comes just nine days before Egypt’s first elections since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the former president, in February.

    In scenes reminiscent of the 18-day uprising, protesters and police forces hurled rocks at each other, and crowds swarmed an armored police truck, rocking it and setting it ablaze.

    Witnesses said the violence began when riot police dismantled a small tent camp set up to commemorate protesters killed in the earlier revolt and attacked around 200 peaceful demonstrators who had camped out in the square overnight.

    Tens of thousands of people had gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday to denounce Egypt’s ruling military council, which has been criticized for its oversight of Egypt’s transition period. Protesters are angry with alleged attempts by the military to grant themselves special powers over the next elected government.

  8. Karen

    Re Merrill Lynch agrees to $315 million MBS settlement:

    Maybe a little off-topic, but I thought Alison Frankel’s previous column “Want inside look at SEC dealmaking? Read IG’s Khuzami report” was actually more interesting than the one about the Merrill settlement.

    Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but forgoing criminal charges in pursuit of civil money settlements strikes me as a morally bankrupt practice.

    If the prosecutor really believes someone guilty of criminal behavior (especially felonious criminal behavior), then bargaining that away in pursuit of mere money compromises the seriousness of our criminal laws.

    If on the other hand the prosecutor DOESN’T believe someone is guilty of criminal behavior – but threatens criminal prosecution to intimidate that person in hopes of getting a bigger money settlement – it seems to me that is just as wrong, if not worse.

    Some may believe me naive, but I think moral integrity is the one and only source of ANY society’s strength and legitimacy. It worries me greatly to see people in authority apparently failing to even understand what’s wrong with the expedient approach they are so used to that they don’t even think about it.

  9. Christine Prokop

    The NYPD instituted a news blackout during the OWS Day of Action on November 17, yet the news still got out. This article – How Storifying Occupy Wall Street Saved the News – describes one way it was done:

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_storifying_occupy_wall_street_saved_the_news_o.php

    Truly amazing how tweets and videos from people on the ground are compiled and organized into a news account of what is happening. And this is done with hardly any time lag. Towards the end of the above article there is a ominous section -Adapting to the New Reality – which describes the responses already taken to curb the new media.

    This is the site the above article describes: http://storify.com/

  10. Union Member

    “Merrill Lynch Agrees to 315 Million MBS Settlement”

    Why is it that the victims of Merrill Lynch aren’t mentioned until the last paragraph of this story? The Public Employee’s Retirement System of Mississippi should be in the lead of this article; you shouldn’t have wait till the last paragraph to learn who got hurt by this scam.

    The names of those at Merrill who perpetrated this on the Public Employee’s Retirement System of Mississippi should also be prominently listed in a story like this!

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