2:00PM Water Cooler 9/22/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


310,000 in “People’s Climate March,” Manhattan. Impressive, but I remain deeply prejudiced against giant puppets [Newsweek]. Oddly, or not, the shouting heads on Sunday morning didn’t mention it, and the nightly newscasts almost entirely ignored it [HuffPo].

“These upstarts like 350.org (“rowdy greens,” with small “g”) are brushing aside the staid Washington lobbying strategies of groups that failed to pass a climate bill in 2010″ [Politico]. But Democratic strategist Chris LeHane says Democrats are making climate a wedge issue [NPR].

Holding large rallies doesn’t always result in political change [Juan Cole].

UN Climate conference, the occasion for the march, has an impressive guest list, which does not include the President of China or the Prime Minister of India [WaPo]. And the impact will be tough to measure [National Journal].

Could fighting global warming be cheap and free? [Krugman, Times]. For whom?


As once said about Prussia, ISIS may be less a state with an army than an army with a state [War on the Rocks]. Anyhow, they’re Sunnis, so let’s buy them (again) [New America  Foundation]. Anyhow, are they really coming here? [CNN (!)]. This trove is all old-ish (pre-Labor Day), and it’s interesting to contrast these articles to the febrile hysteria prevailing today. 

More recently, the thread of “home-grown terrorism” is overblown [Weekly Wonk]. Then again, “Fear, doubt, uncertainty. That’s how we rule!” [Moon of Alabama].

Stats Watch

Existing home sales fall as investors pull back [Christian Science Monitor]. The bright side: Stupid money moves in.

Dudley speaks: “While the New York Fed president said that he would like to leave the zero bound as soon as appropriate, he also said that there are many reasons to be patient before the first rate hike” [Bloomberg]. Dudley: “We need the economy to run a little hot for at least some period of time to push inflation back up to our objective” [Economic Times of India]. ” it would be nice to see some sufficient progress in terms of the economy , the labor market and inflation to be able to raise interest rates in 2015″ [WSJ]. So that’s alright, then.

2014 and 2016

Vermont alt-weekly unearths the album of folk covers Sanders cut the record in 1987 while serving as mayor of Burlington [Seven Days]. Let the oppo begin!

Deeply principled libertarians give Ron Rand Paul a pass; he’s the lesser evil [Politico].

Hillary Clinton, having visited Iowa visits New Hampshire [NH Journal]. The Journal points out the “Ready for Hillary” has been active in New Hampshire for a year.

The Senate’s natural division is very close to 50/50, says political scientist [National Journal]. Sounds like a duopoly, no?

U.S. Census

A new release of Census data, and a lot of explainers:

The gap between the top and bottom income percentiles did not change significantly from 2012 to 2013 [MSNBC]. Hispanics are the only major racial or ethnic group to see a statistically significant decline in its poverty rate [Pew]. Handy chart.

Toledo’s poverty rate has increased [Toledo Blade]. More children in Buffalo live in poverty [Buffalo News]. South Carolina’s poverty rate has increased for families and children [Anderson Independent]. Manhattan the biggest income gap of any county in the country [New York Times].

Seattle has the greatest rent hikes [Seattle Times].

Census data scandal on falsification of employment before the 2012 election “not as bad as we initially thought,” says a Republican (!) [FCW].

And here’s a handy tip sheet of upcoming Census publications [Insurance News].

News of the Wired

  • There are 15 cell-phone interception devices operating secretly in DC [CNN]. That few?
  • The true cost of an Apple iPhone after subsidy [ZDNet].
  • Swatch inventor on Apple watch: “I would definitely wear it” [SwissInfo
  • DC power brokers now compete to get their 10,000 steps a day, aided by their devices [Columbian]. 
  • The iPhone 6 Plus really takes two hands to use, and more swipes for any given task [Slate]. Note to self: “Swipe” (both senses) for current political economy of supposedly frictionless commerce (all senses).
  • FIFA Executive Committee members claims World Cup 2002 “will not take place in Qatar” [Independent]. The heat on the football pitch. Not slavery.
  • “Readers continually cite examples, on both the news and opinion pages, in which The Times gives voice to information and opinion without disclosing the financial or political ties behind them” [Margaret Sullivan, Times]. Sullivan’s actually functioning as a Public Editor, so I have to wonder how long she’ll last. I remember how WaPo gutted their ombudsman. It was horrible to watch.
  • * * *

    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:


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    About Lambert Strether

    Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Banger

      “Holding large rallies doesn’t always result in political change”

      Ya think?

      I will go further–“marching” is a complete waste of time–it’s been gamed long ago. If it gets intense the cops destroy the march and if it runs uneventfully the media largely ignores it unless it fits into their particular agenda. Stop doing it! Maybe it’s me but I’ve gotten sick of it. It was something edgy to do in the 60s, that’s for sure.

      Occupy in Manhattan had an edge but it got lost because the movement was unable (due to its lack of structure) to evolve into a powerful movement that would cause the powerful pain.

      The climate change issue needs to be addressed politically not through “puppets.” You need to get celebrities to refuse to work for companies that don’t support change. You need to create highly targeted boycotts meant to bring down just one tottering company–then you will bring the others in line. You need to organize tight and committed cadre–never mind numbers give me a solid core of people who will go all out for this issue (it really connects with all the issues we face) and put their lives on the line for the health of the planet–and for the middle-class people who are sympathetic; take a f*cking pay cut people! Get out of serving those evil a-holes! Don’t lecture energy companies and politicians make them pay! And, btw, love your enemies so you can understand them better so you can destroy their power.

      1. jrs

        I wonder if marching EVER did that much good, we were probably lied to about that (as with everything else). The Counterpunch article recently had Malcolm X’s criticism of the March on Washington, so that’s hard criticism of a 60s movement. Marching with all the permits lined up isn’t actually civil disobedience, that’s not even a criticism of it, that’s just trying to clarify terms so they have some meaning, civil disobedience requires disobedience of the law (the flood wall street sit ins for instance may or may not be effective (as effectiveness is a seperate issue) but would meet that criteria for civil disobedience).

        I think marching is a way to demonstrate one’s concern to one’s fellow citizens if anything, plus educate them about possible alternatives. And THEN what? Is there some assumption that power rests with the citizenry? Yes I suppose so, but some have argued that even in a dictatorship consent rests to some extent with the citizenry, so it doesn’t necessarily make any strong assumptions of exactly how much of a functioning democracy we have!

        I don’t believe people should work for immoral companies IF they can help it – ie if it’s not down to that or starve (oil companies would be one example for this issue), but that still doesn’t solve the systematic problem. And if it’s just being one small cog in capitalism in an industry that ISN’T by itself directly related to the problem or anything (most middle class jobs), I don’t know. One is part of capitalism in a society that’s almost 100% capitalist.

        1. grizziz

          While marching and assembling might not be perfect analogues, they seem similar enough activities that the elites would take notice. The writers of the United States Constitution were concerned enough to explicitly provide for ‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble.’ The correlation between assemblies and change is not nearly perfect, think Tahir square in Egypt and Tienanmen square in China.
          Assembly should still be seen as a type of pressure that requires many other steps to effectively move the status quo. Finding a suitable leader and/or group to coordinate all these steps is as likely to be as dangerous as it is to be curative. A new faction elected to reduce a single element (carbon) in the atmosphere might push its new power to gainsay policies which might harm the comonwealth.

        2. Jim

          I would like to discuss what I consider to be a key issue in political mobilization.

          Is the hope of mobilizing a type of class consciousness–or the homogenization of millions of spontaneous individual wills into a type of unified single will, over a significant period of time,–an illusion?

          Has the Left tended to cover up a clear discussion of this issue by arguing that the absence of class consciousness is simply connected to the problem of inadequate organization?

        3. Demeter

          Marching in the 60’s scared the shit out of the 1% and the government…why else shoot up Kent State students? Among other groups, of course.

          But now, they just abuse, torture and arrest us. they’ve decided to save shooting for one-on-one encounters in backwards Southern style towns.

        4. Demeter

          The most successful mass action in DECADES happened this year in Massachusetts, when both employees and customers joined in a boycott to prevent the hostile takeover, gutting and destruction of their favorite grocery chain (Market Basket) by the evil cousin of the CEO, in a closely held family company.

          This may be the action to take henceforth. They can rewrite labor laws to exclude all the effective worker actions of days past….but how can they argue with the customers? The boycott cannot be legislated out of existence, like strikes, slowdowns, sitdowns, picket lines, federal injunctions, etc. How would one write a Taft-Hartley Act to force consumers/customers to “behave”?

          Can you see a mass protest from doctors, insurance company workers and the victims of non-universal single payer health insurance scamming? It may be the only way to get to something that actually helps the 99% and saves the nation real money.

      2. Jackrabbit

        Marching these days seems less likely to be impactful because corporate owned MSM’s primary interest is the bottom line.

        Climate change is a political problem. It can’t be solved by individual action. Quit your job at an energy company? someone will just take your place. And concerned individuals who conserve/cut back on energy use can never do enough to ‘save the planet’. Governmental action is necessary to force the changes that are required.

        The major problem is money in politics, but:

        1) companies and individuals with a commercial interest will outspend nonprofits on media FUD and political campaigns

        2) other industries and wealthy individuals will generally ‘play the game’ and stay silent

        I like your ideas about celebrities and boycotts but I would be concerned about:

        – politicians defuse the urgency by saying that they are working on the problem

        – Energy company FUD and corporate MSM ignore the effort and/or denounce it


        Maybe the protestors are not marching for publicity but for solidarity? Maybe at this point its more about coalition building (getting to what you call a committed core) than change. Maybe they are marching not because they expect to be heard but because they are encouraged by the company of others that are concerned and frustrated.

        Maybe this is just the beginning of marching that will grow in size and scope. Mabye when there are millions marching in multiple cities it will be impossible for MSM and politicians to ignore or deride their efforts.

        H O P

        1. Jackrabbit

          Dana’s comment (below) supports the solidarity view.

          I don’t think these marchers are deluded. Most people are well aware of how things work (or don’t work). Shouldn’t we praise their commitment and urge others to follow their example?

        2. different clue


          I was going to say some of what you said but see you said it better. Solidarity . . . a common TEST of strength among concerned but demoralized people. Perhaps enough of eachother seeing enough of eachother see eachother might inspire them to learn something or do something or do both on the long dull days and weeks and months beTWEEN marches.
          The SCLC’s marches through the South did a lot. They attracted police hosings and doggings and beatings on live TV before a watching world . . . . which helped generate the political pressure the SCLC planners expected it would. It is true that the Overlord Governators have studied that and have crafted extensive containment and denyment mechanisms to muffle and ground out the energy of marches today. But marches can still serve that solidarity and organizable-people-finding-eachother function which marches have always also served.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            But it wasn’t the SCLC marches alone, but a generation’s long struggle by Black people –and yes, the Black bourgeoisie — to build the social institutions to back up and support those marches, even long before those marches as a tactic were thought of. It was a noble effort (and we shouldn’t let the defalcations and betrayals of today’s Black misleadership class — as BAR’s Glen Ford calls them) detract from it in any way.

            So far as I can tell, today’s marches don’t have that social context. People march, go home, and go on with their lives. That does need to change.

            1. different clue

              That is true. 3 centuries of the Black Church among other things. Today’s marchers don’t have any of that.

              They will have to develop whatever of that they can from whatever solidarity emerges from the marching itself. The beated-down OWS protesters have a start on that. ” Were you there? . . . Do you remember? . . .

            2. jrs

              Some people probably do go home and go on with their lives – I think that fits the middle class who would still identify as mainstream but do care about the issue (it’s a profoundly alienating worldview but they lack exposure to any other). Some think social media awareness is the answer (fat chance!). Some no doubt have been working for changes (like local environmental measures – but it is hard to fight climate change on a local level) for years and years (yes those people will show up at a march). A few new connections are made.

              But what should be done?
              – Maybe the most effective measures might be in between the strictly local (your city which people DO put effort into changing) and the national (fracking as an issue isn’t entirely national for instance – states and localities weigh in), but I don’t know how many groups are working that level. A county, a watershed. In some cases a state maybe but it’s harder.
              – So what should be done on a national level? A carbon tax with rebate etc., yes maybe and it has advocates, a Green New Deal – maybe, but all if that is rather pie in the sky as the real question is: how does one even get there? One waits for collapse and then people will just have to? Hmm well that’s a bit close to the edge. OR money out of politics if it can be had. Yes if that could be had it would be great, certainly people involved in the climate change march could try to build that movement. Maybe it could attract 300,000. Primary-ing on climate change/ environmental issues?

              FWIW I’m not just thinking purely about abstractions, I know people involved in the issues and I’ve seen them work various sides (pushing a national proposal in the current political system, making changes to local laws, etc.), and I’m not sure where the answer lies. We do need a movement, a long term movement.

      3. washunate

        I think it depends on what we mean by large.

        And I agree the game has changed – the civil rights protesters of the mid-20th century drew the attention of northern media watching southern law enforcement beat people up. Calm, nonviolent civil disobedience was key. But with everything nationalized today, with the media no longer bystanders but active participants in the oppression, it takes a different approach. Ferguson got national attention with a rather small protest, largely due to two reasons: 1) overreaction by law enforcement eager to escalate a matter in a suburban setting not used to the tactics involved in such escalation, and 2) the ‘looters’. Like it or not, the fact that there was property damage and angry people out after dark got – and kept – the news cycle going those first couple nights.

        I have no doubt similar news coverage could be obtained for large marches. Just not the kinds of marches where a few hundred thousand people calmly do what the police tell them to do.

        Now, have 10 million people vandalize the Mariner Eccless building, or blockade the Pentagon, or shut down Manhattan, and I guarantee that makes the news…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I don’t think that’s quite true on the media and “looters.” The story could certainly have gone that way, but in the end I think it did not. As it turned out, there was a lot of nuanced and thoughtful and informative (as opposed to mis- or disinformative) long form journalism written on Ferguson, and in unexpected corners of the mass media: Places like Road and Track, and ESPN, both of which we linked to here.

          Adding, I think the Ferguson protesters showed a lot of discipline and care which was and will be essential to keeping this story going, because it is most definitely not over.

      4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

        Occupy in Manhattan had an edge but it got lost because the movement was unable (due to its lack of structure) to evolve into a powerful movement that would cause the powerful pain.

        I don’t agree.

        Occupy got lost because “our” Hope and Change asshole beat the shit out of it with the National Security state apparatus.

        And then the people who supposedly support Occupy’s goals all rallied around President Drone Strike, because the lesser evil. (Because they’re chickenshit cowards, that is.)

        1. wbgonne

          Yup. I also think one of the reasons OWS had no plan or target was because its real target was sitting in the White House protected by his skin color and the name on his jersey.

        2. jrs

          It’s possible if it had strong leaders they would have been shot. That’s making a pretty extreme claim, but we of course have actual evidence of a plot to shoot Occupy “leaders” (insert joke about “anarchist organization” here) if need be in at least one area of the country.

        3. Propertius

          He wasn’t my “Hope and Change asshole”. Some of us spotted him for a con artist before 2008, you know.

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          Partly it was Obama’s goons and the 17-city crackdown, for sure. But we also have to ask ourselves how Occupy got itself into a position where that would work. Suppose there were 170 cities? 1700?

          For whatever reason, Occupy didn’t scale sufficiently. I have to wonder if it had something to do with seizing central space in a city (like Tahrir Square or the indignados). But a lot of America is suburban, and a lot of the poor are there (partly due to gentrification), and in the suburbs there’s no center to seize. In that connection, freeway blockage in Ferguson is interesting (not making a recommendation, just connecting a potential dot). It may also be that the GA didn’t scale. (Personally, I’d go for Robert’s Rules, which have been demonstrated to scale; that’s why they propagated, because self-organizing cities in towns in America’s westward expansion didn’t know how to run a meeting.)

          1. different clue

            America has several hundred major cities. Each of those cities has several-to-many Tahrir Squares per city. And an early-stage movement is going to take durable physical possession of a thousand or more Tahrir Squares all at once? I think not.
            So the OWS survivors and participants can think about other methods and interim goals while nurturing their eventual dream of a Massive MultiSquare Takeover someday.

          2. frosty zoom

            it’s not that it didn’t scale; it’s that they ran out of people interested enough in their own destiny.

            pass the cheetos, the game’s about to start!

      5. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        We don’t march for the same reason people will go into debt to get the new iPhone: Appearances.

        To march in the street is tantamount to admission that one has failed politically and/or economically and/or at life, generally.

        Of course, anyone with normal, middle-class debt, if forced to settle up, would be bankrupt. Admitting to it in public is another thing, entirely (one must keep up appearances).

        We confuse debt with wealth, and protest with failure.

        Behold the power of marketing.

      6. wbgonne

        I’m sure you are correct that it will take a lot more than a march. But getting into the streets is a start and, in the Time of the Hope-slayer, a start is all we’re going to get. President HerTurn (or the GOP alternative) won’t enjoy the same sorcery as Obama. There are oceans of pent-up anger and frustration just waiting to erupt from Obama’s betrayal and Hillary’s hamhandedness will roil the waters even before her coronation. Unlike Obama, the American People know exactly what we’re getting with HerTurn and even many of those will who vote for her don’t like her. I expect the crowd to turn ugly in 2016. (Of course, I have been wrong before.)

      7. Vatch

        “Don’t lecture energy companies and politicians make them pay!”

        We can make politicians pay by voting for the opposition – in the U.S., the real third party opposition, not the Democrat or the Republican. Reminder:


        I’m not sure how to make the energy companies pay, though. Some of those companies have very deep pockets, and are quite resistant to boycotts. Look at BP; despite the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago, they’re still doing just fine. For starters, people can make sincere efforts to use energy more efficiently, since if we buy less energy, it will affect the energy companies’ profits. People save money when they use less energy, so it’s a win win!

        It’s tougher to convince people to avoid working for those corporations which are clearly immoral, because there are so many of them. When the economy’s bad, as it is now, people with a family to support will usually work for whichever company will pay them. For the religious minded, Right Livelihood is part of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path, but how many people will be convinced by that?

        1. different clue


          Some years ago now, Bruce Sterling the science fiction author tried thinking up a way to “do something” about the global warmers. Many ways, in fact, shared over many posts along with many facts and discussions of the problem. He launched the Viridian Design Movement, whose fossilized remains (including all the notes) remain stored on the Internet to this very day.
          The One Hundredth Viridian Design Post was a “what is to be done?” post. He offered some very specific ideas in furtherance of the directive “don’t pay them”. He called it a form of Living In Truth.
          It is worth at least reading and considering. Here is the link.

          1. Vatch

            Thanks. I notice that one of his action items is:

            “Cut your carbon consumption, and fill your own wallet at the carbon industry’s expense.”

            He goes into a little more detail, but this is essentially what I recommended above. He also advises buying clean energy, which is great advice, although the ability to do this may vary with one’s geographic location and electricity distributor.

      8. Lambert Strether Post author

        The marches are not a waste of time, as such, if they build social capital; I’m of the view that almost any form of social engagement is to be encouraged, at this point. The marches will only be a waste of time if matters stop there, and of course there are many political factions or circles that are working for exactly that.

        Possibly necessary; certainly insufficient.

        1. trish

          garden envy. poppy envy. what an incredibly beautiful flower. and such funny thick hairy stems, those poppies. like the fuzzy stems of fiddle heads here.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            They are! I’m getting a lot of artistic mileage (and gratification) out of a tiny plot. “The augmentation of the complexity and intensity of the field of intelligent life.”

    2. afisher

      My standard disclosure: I’m no economist. Anyone care to take a whack at this: http://www.impactlab.net/2014/09/18/100b-invested-in-wind-or-solar-will-produce-more-energy-than-oil/

      Rockefeller Divesture of big oil.

      Over 340 global investors who represent more than $24 trillion are now on record that aggressive climate action is the friend rather than the enemy of the global economy. (think progress)

      Isn’t the investment class always telling folks: Follow the money, so that is all I do….anyone care to comment?

    3. lightningclap

      Re: Protests, the anti-apartheid movement succeeded after pop-culture icons gave it cred; true that celebs can make an issue “cool”.

      Thanks for pointing out the pun / double meaning in the term “swipe”. Much of tech terminology is a bastardization of the correct meaning of a word, i.e. Apple “Geniuses”.

    4. afisher

      I’m always slow and I take time to sight-see. I read lots of threads that start here and then when I am delivered elsewhere, I act like a tourist and see if there is anything interesting on the new destination.

      Several days there was a link to Wolf Richter and on that page there was another article: CEOs Darken Outlook, Slash Hiring and Cap-Ex Plans – Hope Now Focused on Share Buybacks (which just Plunged). I read it…now fast forward Bloomberg has a similar article, but highly couched in shiny object syndrome – aka please ignore reality. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-22/insider-buying-dries-up-defying-275-billion-of-buybacks.html

      I’m just a retired LOL (little old lady) – but the contrast between the different realities is stark and amusing.

      Opps, the tour guide is calling.

    5. Dana

      What do protests accomplish? They revive the spirit and energy of the participants, remind us we’re not alone, send us back home to continue the work. Human beings are social animals, after all, and by that I don’t mean Facebook. Movements can’t be all three hour meetings and frustrating visits to politicians. There has to be yelling, and dancing, and anger, and joy.

      1. jrs

        Yea even those who like to accuse protestors at the level of individual behavior, omg they probably drive Hummers and they go to climate protests! (exagerating for effect there of course :)). How do they really think behaviors change? Possibly by participating in things and becoming aware of little things that weigh on one, how one might be able to do more. That human behavior could be dynamic and influenced by participation (cognitive dissonance in reverse) is just way too complex (it is complex). One climate protest is indeed by itself very unlikely to change the world even if there were 400,000 people.

      2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        The world (yours truly, included), turned out to protest the Iraq war. Thousands (yours truly, included) turned out, at a good number of places around the country, to protest the bank bail-outs and related fuckery.

        What happened? Nothing. In fact, the recipients of grants from the public purse were drinking wine on balconies on Wall St., while flipping off protesters (an act that, historically, could have ended up as did the Bastille).

        I believe a general strike would call the hand of the oligarchy (and, yes — it will hurt us, too). I doubt we have the courage or social cohesion to get it done.

    6. jsn

      What I found interesting about that Times article on foreign bribery at “tink, thanks” was Israel’s exclusion from the bidders list.

      Is it that their bribes are mostly laundered through US individuals, or that Israel pays directly for policy makers cutting out the “tink, thanks” middle man?

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        I find it interesting that the march was centered in NYC, not DC. It seems the People awakening to where the true seat of power lies in this country. It’s sad that power structures seldom bend to peaceful protest. Everything the American citizenry has given (or allowed to be taken), away, will not be returned by asking politely. The tools we use for fulfilling the will of the People — precise laws that are strictly enforced — have been crafted and wielded by lackeys of the power structure. We need to take our tool kit back, and find the backbone to use it.

        1. trish

          well, yes, but the seat of power WE should have is in DC. The seat of what is supposed to be our government where our “public servants” regulate etc for the public good. We need to take back our seat of power (at the very least to the extent we’ve had in the past), and, no, not by asking politely.
          Still, not to denigrate this march.

      2. Jake Mudrosti

        It’s interesting to track climate-related civil disobedience, to see how it gets handled in the media coverage.

        In a not-unrelated story, here’s an example of the relentlessly self-promoting media personalities Tyson and Bill Nye with the President:
        Grin, grin, grin! Don’t ruin the fun by talking climate…!

        Readers with weak stomachs are cautioned against reading the linked article, since it contains quotes such as this: :”Or, as Nye might say, ‘change the world!’ …. It all added up to an event almost as glitzy as the Oscars.”

    7. trish

      Could fighting global warming be cheap and free? Krugman

      “So saving the planet would be cheap and maybe even come free.”

      God, this is so American. Cheap and free! Now we can finally do something! Too hard to address this huge and growing problem if it involves reducing consumption and our government actually putting the interests of the public ahead of corporate profits.

      “burning coal causes many respiratory ailments.” We’ve known this for how long? since the 60’s? The industry permeates, runs our government- revolving door, campaign money, lobbying… they write the bills, the regulations.
      We fight wars for these guys profits, blood wars, not just against the environment and our health.

      1. MikeNY

        Krugman gets a boner for anything even vaguely redolent of ‘the paradox of thrift’. MOAR is always the answer!

      2. Propertius

        “burning coal causes many respiratory ailments.” We’ve known this for how long? since the 60′s?

        Since 1306, when Edward I (aka “Longshanks” aka “The Hammer of the Scots”) banned burning it because coal smoke made his mother ill.

    8. chris

      I’m not sure if the Water Cooler comments are to be restricted to the highlighted posts so sorry if this is inappropriate. But..

      We all know how US politicians love on israel… maybe they;ll take heed… maybe Obama will frow a pair and take action on immigration:


      “In a landmark ruling, the High Court of Justice knocked down the Knesset’s “infiltrator law” on Monday, declared that the practice of holding African migrants in facilities in southern Israel for up to a year was illegal, and ordered the state to shutter the contested Holot center within 90 days.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        A water cooler is a place where people gather to talk about random stuff. The links and topic areas are meant as conversation starters, not conversation fences. (Within the moderation policies of course, especially Rule #1.)

    9. Kurt Sperry

      I say good for the people that made the effort to march, whatever their reasons. A lot of times one can devine an opponent’s precise fears by simply observing how they act. Occupy for me demonstrated unambiguously that the ruling class were afraid of street protest near power totems–even or especially peaceful protest. They took risks and were often plainly over the top in their directed responses. Put under even light pressure, the ruling class showed itself visibly slipping into fear and becoming less rational and ordered. Even though the state violence applied appeared to have succeeded, it did cost finite political–and I’d argue cultural–capital to do.

      Everything is political, sure, but politics is to a large degree an outgrowth of culture. And modern culture is plastic, novelty seeking and conformist. It is also, as much as it tries to be steered by captive media, a consensus, as likely to be bottom up as top down. If extreme wealth were ever to become “uncool” or broadly viewed as morally repugnant–as well it should be–that then would I believe deleverage wealth’s ability to influence culture and thus politics, and ultimately policy. The whole mighty Wurlitzer’s effect depends on its shiny magnificence to keep the conjured suspension of disbelief from dissipating. The disempowerment of the many to serve the obscene appetites of the few requires the active cooperation of the many, an inherently unstable architecture, and any cultural changes that lessen that cooperation threaten the carefully constructed status quo.

      Subvert and delegitimize the jury rigged cultural construct the whole stinking pile is built upon any chance you see.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Other than the ballot box (and one will not have very good luck, there, as is clearly apparent), there are the courts (stacked), and, as you point out, ostracism. The tactic is outlined here:

        “In 1880, as part of its campaign for the Three Fs (fair rent, fixity of tenure and free sale), the Irish Land League under Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt withdrew the local labour required to harvest the crops on Lord Erne’s estate and began a campaign of isolation against Boycott in the local community. This campaign included the refusal of shops in nearby Ballinrobe to serve him, and the withdrawal of laundry services. According to Boycott, the boy who carried his mail was threatened with violence if he continued.

        The campaign against Boycott became a cause célèbre in the British press after he wrote a letter to The Times; newspapers sent correspondents to the West of Ireland to highlight what they viewed as the victimisation of a servant of a peer of the realm by Irish nationalists. Fifty Orangemen from County Cavan and County Monaghan travelled to Lord Erne’s estate to harvest the crops, while a regiment of troops and more than 1,000 men of the Royal Irish Constabulary were deployed to protect the harvesters. The episode was estimated to have cost the British government and others at least £10,000 to harvest about £500 worth of crops.”



        ” Charles Stewart Parnell, in a speech in Ennis prior to the events in Lough Mask, proposed that when dealing with tenants who take farms where another tenant was evicted, rather than resorting to violence, everyone in the locality should shun them. While Parnell’s speech did not refer to land agents or landlords, the tactic was first applied to Boycott when the alarm was raised about the evictions. Despite the short-term economic hardship to those undertaking this action, Boycott soon found himself isolated — his workers stopped work in the fields and stables, as well as in his house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver mail.”


        It seems the fellow wasn’t even welcome in church.

    10. abynormal

      “We need the economy to run a little hot for at least some period of time to push inflation back up to our objective”…didn’t DudleyDoLittleRight say the low price of ipads would make up for food inflation?
      last night i rec’d an email from a RP fan with this ‘praising’ quote: “There are 200 million people bordering the countries where ISIS is currently operating. They are the ones facing the threat of ISIS activity and expansion. Let them fight their own war, rather than turning the US military into the mercenary army of wealthy Gulf states. Remember, they come over here because we are over there. So let’s not be over there any longer. Ron Paul”
      …?’fight their own war’?…camels finally got around to drinking oil (freaks)

      nice poppy Lambert, you renaissance man you

      “The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards.”

    11. jgordon

      As our current society and infrastructure is architected, “fighting climate change” means that the average American, not to mention the average American elite, will have to cut his energy use by more than 90%.

      I wonder how of those people in the march would be there now if they understood that. Now I’m not saying that ideal is wrong. And I would personally love to have my energy expenditures cut by 90%. But I wonder if most of the environmental-minded individuals would go along with that if they understood what it meant. And that is in all likelihood why this stuff doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of going anywhere. As the Archdruid has mentioned, intelligent forethought has never had much luck in altering behavior; catabolic collapse will be the process that drives that.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Do we have a source for that “90 percent” claim? I’d like to examine it in detail, it smells like *ss.

        1. Massinissa

          If the real number turns out to be 70%, will that actually make you feel better?

          We would need to cut back so much the target may as well be 90% considering we wont realistically make it past 5% or so

          1. Kurt Sperry

            “If the real number turns out to be 70%, will that actually make you feel better?”

            Absolutely yes it would. That’s three times as much power as you’d see from a 90% reduction. And if that number pulled out as 60%, even better. And given that we are currently doing everything as near exquisitely wrong as possible as far as greenhouse gasses both on the generation and efficiency side there is a ton of room for large improvements. The low hanging fruit are hanging ripe, if we possessed the political will to simply do the obvious and rational things and transition to renewables as quickly as practical. In fact the enormity of the project necessary could as a more immediate side benefit create a very large number of new job spaces and renew the US economy. Kind of what Germany is doing now but much more aggressively.

            There is little practical difference between those who deny GCC and those who express doing anything as being mostly a hopeless cause now aside from their internal monologues.

      2. Keith Howard

        I agree that collapse is the only likely result of mankind’s inherent shortsightedness. Collapse is also the only possible rescuer of biosphere habitability. But I disagree about the type of collapse. To my mind the only hope lies in the inventiveness and impartiality of the world’s micro-organisms. The necessary collapse is in human population, a reduction of 2/3 or 3/4, or to whatever approximates the Earth’s carrying capacity. I don’t see any other plausible future that reduces demand and hence slashes GHG emissions quickly enough. This will occur, one way or another. The only question is, will human population collapse before, or after, the point of no return? Human beings are not special, nor are they entitled to special treatment by the forces of nature.
        From this standpoint, I can somewhat sympathize with the 0.001%. If their only trust is in money, let them amass it. For the rest, do now what you love to do: plant trees, play music, climb mountains, teach children, grow a garden if you can. Life is short.

        1. jrs

          I find it very hard to live without hope for the future (and I don’t mean the issue of mortality as such). And the past was mostly pretty bad of course.

      3. optimader

        Kevin Bullis
        August 26, 2013
        To Meet Emissions Targets, We’ve All Got to Be like

        Even with a terrible recession and a natural-gas bonanza, the U.S. isn’t cutting emissions fast enough.

        Some experts still think it is possible to reduce emissions 50 percent globally by 2050, a somewhat arbitrary goal thought to minimize the risk of climate-change disasters. But they say hitting that goal is possible only if we try really hard.

        How hard?
        Only one country, France, has ever reduced greenhouse emissions at the pace we’d have to keep up between now and 2050.
        Over a remarkable period of 30 years, France went from getting less than 1 percent of its power from nuclear power plants (which emit no carbon dioxide directly) to getting about 80 percent from them. During the period of the fastest nuclear build-out, France managed to reduce emissions at a rate of 2 percent per year, says David Victor, co-director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego.
        Victor says to hit emissions targets the whole world needs to do the same thing, and keep it up over a longer period….

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