2:00PM Water Cooler 10/14/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Hong Kong

Mong Kok: “‘Originally, the purpose of setting up a site in Mong Kok was to help protect the students in Admiralty by stretching the police resources,’ said Chu” [South China Morning Post]. (Note: Compare Ferguson entry below.) “Like many protesters in Mong Kok, Don, Chu and Fan all said they would not retreat without achieving what they had set out for – a withdrawal of the National People’s Congress’s proposed electoral reform that would allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to run in chief executive elections.”

Admiralty: Police shrink periphery of occupied zone by clearing the Queensway with chainsaws, sledgehammers [Reuters]. Construction workers had gotten involved building bamboo barricades [New York Times]. Taxi and truck drivers, however, resent the loss of fare [Reuters]. So triads, tycoons, and the PRC aren’t the only opponents the protesters have [Atlantic].

The newsworthiness of Jimmy Lai [China Matters]. Looking at the local powerbrokers and tycoons does undercut — or rather, reframe — the “spontaneous leaderless outpouring by idealistic students” narrative that the West is pushing, but surely that’s OK? It also undercuts People’s Daily  “manipulation by the National Endowment for the Democracy” narrative [AP], but surely that’s a good thing, too?


“Black misleadership class” (hat tip, Black Agenda Report) called out by protesters at St Louis University weekend event [Guardian]. Good quotes, mushy framing.

200 students sit in at St Louis University clocktower [KSDK].

50 arrested, in the rain, at “Moral Monday” demonstration in front of St Louis PD [Rolling Stone]. Good for “Brother West” getting arrested, but that’s not the story, though the [The Root] thinks so. The story is the confluence of North Carolina’s “Moral Monday” concept with Missouri protest.

The even bigger story: The “other events elsewhere” listed by the [St Louis Post Dispatch]. Protests at Ferguson and Maplewood Walmarts, protests and arrests at a MacCaskill/Stenger fundraiser, a “Black lives matter” banner at a Rams game, and protests at a QuikTrip, Emerson Electric, a march at St Louis City Hall, chanting at Plaza Frontenac (upscale mall) and chanting with bullhorns (gotta say, ick) at Hollywood Casino. (Would some news organization please produce a handy map.) All these tactics, consciously or not, look like they’re straight from Gene Sharp. We’ll see.

Now let’s compare and contrast: Tahrir Square, Syntagma Square, Puerta del Sol, the state Capital occupations in Madison and elsewhere, and Occupy proper (especially Wall Street and Oakland) all had the central defining feature of taking control of a key public space in a dense metropolitan area; Zucotti Park; Tahrir Square; Oscar Grant Plaza. The current protests in Hong Kong have exactly the same defining feature (and we may now be seeing that occupation degenerate into holding space, as opposed to creating political alternatives; we’ll see). These St Louis protests are completely different. I’m hard-pressed to remember organic protests driven by locals yet so widely dispersed and so numerous. So, first, kudos to the organizers (who most definitely are not the Black misleadership class). Second, ask yourself: Which tactics are more appropriate to most cities in America? Tactics appropriate for dense metropolitan areas with central squares, or tactics for cities with freeways and urban sprawl? That’s the story here, IMNSHO.

America the Petrostate

“Dropping oil prices could threaten U.S. fracking boom” [McClatchy]. You’d think the Saudis could have yanked the chain round our neck before we poisoned all that groundwater (hat tip, Dick Cheney).

Stats Watch

Redbook, week of October 11: Retailers are displaying Halloween and Christmas merchandise side-by-side in an effort to kick-start holiday sales [Bloomberg]. Pumping out the Xmas muzak yet?

Rapture Index: Closes down one on inflation [Rapture Ready].


Catalan premier cancels referendum vote in favor of “consultation vote” [Expatica Spain].

Belgium forms a new government, five months after the election, and the Flemish nationalist N-VA party is the dominant force [Economist].

Symposium on the referendum in Scotland [London Review of Books].

Gibralter organizes conference on self-determination, the Falklands to attend [MercoPress].

Mainland crackdown on “scholars” for, among other things, “causing a disturbance” [Reuters], but also Occupy Hong Kong and Taiwanese independence support.


Looks like Cuomo’s been taking lessons from Obama on access to information, especially information about campaign contributions [Capital New York]. Cuomo, in 2011, promised to run an adminsitration that was “the most transparent and accountable in history” [Times-Union]. Sound familiar? Remember when Democrats were democrats, not autocrats?

Cuomo meets with Times editors off the record: “Before the meal concluded, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting, Cuomo became visibly angry, raised his voice and stormed out of the restaurant” [Capital New York]. Stay classy, Andy!

Cuomo declines to make a 2016 Sherman Statement, flogs his 517-page doorstop [USA Today] (Clinton’s: 656 pages. Neener neener). He’ll be signing copies of “All Things Possible” — like the NPR program, but action-oriented — at Barnes and Noble in Union Square tomorrow [New York Daily News].

“Said another [Working Families Party] insider: ‘The Women’s Equality Party is Cuomo’s F U to the WFP'” [New York Post]. Assuming, of course, that the WFP was ever an actual party to begin with, instead of some sort of Byzantine front organization with enough troops who thought it was really something else.

News of the Wired

  • 3D printed gun makes and shoots paper airplanes [Inside 3DP].
  • “Report: Only 20 Minutes Until Introverted Man Gets To Leave Party” [The Onion].
  • Bones of Alexander the Great’s father found in Northern Greece [Business Insider].
  • The Bush administration and public health administration: Not as crazypants as you might have thought [Talking Points Memo].
  • George Harrison, guitar anti-hero [Pitchfork].
  • Prosecutor: Oscar Pistorius has been paying  R6,000 (£350) monthly to Steenkamp family, who will pay it back [Independent].
  • Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly donates blood to Dallas nurse Nina Pham [NBC]. Altruism! Also, J. D. Shapely…. Pham issues statement that she’s “doing well” [ABC]. Let’s hope so.

* * *

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:


Once again, a whole system, or at least more parts of the system than a single plant.

Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. diptherio

    Oh man…I glanced at yesterday’s WSJ front page this morning and laughed out loud at the below-the-fold headline: Global Slowdown Threatens Recovery

    Wait, what? We’re in a recovery? I must have missed the memo….

    But then I read the first sentence, which just happened to be in complete contradiction to the headline above it.

    Gathering signs of a slowdown across many parts of the world are roiling financial markets and confounding policy makers, who after years of battling anemic economic growth have limited tools left to jump-start a recovery [emphasis added]

    So now I’m really confused: why would you need to jump-start a recovery if we’re already in one, as implied by the headline? I mean, a thing has to exist in the first place before it can be “threatened,” if I understand the English language properly. Are we in a recovery that’s being threatened, or are we trying to start a recovery that hasn’t happened yet? It can’t be both, right?

    Maybe the WSJ editors know something I don’t [snicker].

    1. hunkerdown

      Just as faith-based as any other deranged nutjob (or the deranged nutjobs in blue whose marketing schtick is cocksure coolness).

  2. Carolinian

    Worth a share.


    “They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
    I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
    They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
    I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
    So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
    I said, ‘gold.’
    And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
    ‘The King of Sweden.’
    ‘Why did he give this to you?’
    ‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
    At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”

    1. craazyman

      In Theory
      Does that mean they had a sense of humor in the first place? That sounds implausible. What’s so funny about working airport security in Fargo? That makes no sense. The whole story makes no sense. How can you discover the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating? They don’t even know what it’s expanding into. It may be slowing down if what it’s expanding into is speeding up even faster in the same direction. Relatively speaking. Somebody just made this up and people believe it. I don’t believe it though. It never happened. Probably not anyway. He must have stolen the medal. Somebody should alert airport security. whaohahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. sorry

        1. craazyman

          faaak you never posted any more my flower or plant pics. Is two all I get? I could give you 27 of them. Well, 17 anyway. Of those, probably 8 or 9 would be reasonably good.

          people have to think about the colors and the textures. and the focal planes. and the way the branches shoot out in different directions. It’s like looking at the stars.

  3. diptherio

    Re: Hong Kong

    So it would appear that we have (at least) three (main) groups involved in the protests: the US gov’t, trying to stir up trouble for China; the Chinese gov’t, trying to maintain and extend control over the island; and Democracy activists who want the right to an electoral system that doesn’t resemble that of the US quite so closely (i.e. voting allowed, but only on elite-approved candidates). Then you’ve got the cabbies, shopkeepers, etc. who just want to keep food on their tables, and the Triads who are just looking for any angle to turn a fast buck. There are probably more that I wouldn’t even know to think about.

    Does anybody have any predictions on how this is all going to shake out? What are the odds on the prop bet that the protesters get their way? that China cracks down hard? Any thoughts?

    It’s a case-study in the complexity of social movements, that’s for sure.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If this were a Shaw Bros. Kung Fu epic, I would imagine a crack down, with students/Kung Fu masters escaping to Yunnan/Sichuan border areas. They then ran into some long-lost teachings. hidden in some caves, to further strengthen their cause. After many years of struggle, coupled with humiliating setbacks for the emperor internationally, maybe even to the formerly insignificant Japan or Vietnam, the students/Kung Fu masters finally triumphed.

    2. Jeff W

      Does anybody have any predictions on how this is all going to shake out? What are the odds on the prop bet that the protesters get their way? that China cracks down hard? Any thoughts?

      My own thoughts (as just someone who watches from the US) are that China (as opposed to the local Hong Kong government) will absolutely not crack down hard (the scary “Tiananmen Redux” scenario that Peter Lee is skeptical of). It doesn’t have to—the Hong Kong government can always resort, and has been resorting, to “fear, futility, factionalism, and fatigue. Of those, I’d surmise that “futility”—the idea that China “will never give in”—is the strongest card. (That’s not necessarily true, of course—the Hong Kong government backpedaled on both anti-sedition law in 2003 and the “moral and national education” in 2010 that Beijing wanted.)

      And Beijing knows that, if it were to crack down hard, that would be the end of the “one country two systems” modus vivendi, completely exacerbate anti-Mainland sentiment (and, perhaps, give rise to a proto-if-illegal-secessionist movement) in Hong Kong, and, for good measure, throw a wrench into the Mainland’s relations with Taiwan (for whom, in fact, “one country two systems” was first articulated)—in short, the cost is way too high for very little gain, especially when other methods work more effectively with not as many drawbacks.

      As for how it will play out? Obviously no one knows but I would say the odds are better than the “almost zero” that Chief CY Leung alluded to on Sunday that something will change.

      For one thing, the The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress [NPCSC] proposal, which gave rise to these demonstrations, has to be approved by a two-thirds majority in Legco and it is clear that that majority does not (yet) exist—27 of the 70 seats are held by the “pan-democrats” and they vowed, shortly before the protests broke out, not to support the proposal. The protests would appear to have upped the ante a bit.

      The NPCSC proposal sets out some guidelines for the “broadly representative” nominating committee that will pick the candidates for Chief Executive. There are probably all sorts of ways that can be jiggered with that allows for some more representation without anyone losing face. (Since the Basic Law says “the method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation,” conceivably some of the parties involved in coming up with a method could point to the “actual situation” involved.)

      And the pro-reform side has been pretty creative in coming up with ways to challenge the legitimacy of the current status quo—I’d bet they know Gene Sharp backwards and forwards. As just an example, Benny Tai, one of the founders of Occupy Central with Love and Peace, suggested “shadow elections” a few weeks back. The point is there is more to this situation than the students barricading the streets and more to a resolution than a clear win/lose. Peter Lee calls it “a prolonged, sophisticated multi-stage political battle” and I think that’s right.

  4. frosty zoom

    ooh, they’re gonna chop you up!

    better get your barcode tattoos!

    In the article “Sword taken from duplex”, News Corp’s Courier-Mail directly linked the object with the threat of beheadings:

    “More than 1m long, the sword was carried from the home in a federal police evidence bag (right). Police believe its owner was one of at least 15 men plotting to kidnap an Australian from the streets and decapitate them.”


      1. abynormal

        hey hottie! here’s an intraday oil chart (delayed about 15min)

        the easiest quick look for markets is still market watch
        look top right…you got indicies for the majors, fx/currencies & futures.oil etc
        you only have to hover over them or you can click an go to larger graphs/info
        aftermks & openings for asia are telling…i bounce between them and their currencies and try to read the conversations…lately they yell a lot but you’ll start to spot the divergences…thats where the black pools bubble boil toil n trouble.

        1. HotFlash

          lately they yell a lot but you’ll start to spot the divergences…thats where the black pools bubble boil toil n trouble.

          Oh, wow, ma’am. Much to learn here. I am indebted!

          1. abynormal

            if you tap on asian mkts they open 9:30pm…tap currencies to clear some noise an watch reactions. if this interest you (i eye mostly during crazy times) just ask and i’ll help direct you directly to live feeds.

            couple months back we experienced over 20 flash crashes within hrs…they were getting the trash out of the way and probably tweekin bots. way i see it…FED can smile all they want but when butterflies start flap’n wings at the same time its anyone’s game. and there will be losers & pain : (

      2. James Levy

        But why? What has changed in the last couple of weeks to make oil prices collapse? Is this just Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd standing in a pit yelling “Oil for 82!!!” and everyone throwing pieces of paper at them? Is this a repeat of the naked shorting of gold futures that artificially drove down gold prices? We still aren’t sure who took the massive hits on that one (as physical gold never went as low as “paper” gold)–who is fronting the losses here? And how can the Saudis effect, say, Brent prices when they no longer have the surge capacity to flood the market? What makes the Brent and East Texas go down just because the Saudis say they will sell at 82?

        Anyone like to try and answer those questions?

        1. hunkerdown

          Saudis dumping, mainly. Apparently they’ve got some “spare capacity” to show off, to show the world how fast they can pump (out of their own storage, most likely, but hey), and they believe a few markets (“countries” is too quaint) need “discipline” for daring to counteract their desires.

        2. abynormal

          its not so much what has changed but what will…takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months for mkt moves to hit the street…i think it takes less. this is about positioning and altho this is Not a stk mkt sight Yves has great threads on this exact subject…here’s one today.

          i have been lucky enough to help some family members gain a bit of control over their pensions annuities etc. they can’t afford to pull out but they can side step some of this confusion…the kind big bonuses are created from. case in point…an axa broker told my mother she couldn’t do something i strongly suggested…after a sitdown dressed to kick@ss and accompanied by zippy my netbk…he backed down and things went accordingly.

          globalization has sped up everything…put it this way when you open your wallet or sign a dotted line you just became a trader. sux but thats the way its going for now.

          1. abynormal

            don’t know why my bs went to link format…ive been having problems posting for days. i usually let it slide but im getting frustrated cause ive been trying to thank Lambert for a few of his post today.

            im ridn a Dark Horse’)

    1. abynormal

      crazy Corn beginning its run up +3.18% +11.00 357.50

      S&P/TSX (canada) took a swan dive today http://web.tmxmoney.com/quote.php?qm_page=8075&qm_symbol=^JX&locale=EN

      and CBOE futures just broke…i mean broke broke

      With a thousand million questions
      About hate and death and war.
      It’s where we stop and look around us
      There is nothing that we need.
      In a world of persecution
      That is burning in it’s greed.
      moody blues

        1. abynormal

          its the 2nd thingy i posted under crazy corn…canada has major issues behind their woodshed. pubic pensions & real est. have never been their fav topic…surprised GnM published this. once i pointed out one(1) issue w/their pensions and canadians came out of the woodwork on me…i choose 411 a bit more carefully these dayz.

          The energy sector led TSX decliners Tuesday, down almost four per cent as oil prices remained under pressure. The November contract in New York was down $3.90 to US$81.84 a barrel, its lowest level since mid-June 2012 after the International Energy Agency slashed its oil-demand growth forecast for this year by more than a fifth because of the faltering global economy.

          There was further glum data from Europe’s biggest economy as the German government slashed its growth forecast for this year and next, deepening worries that Germany could slip into recession. The German Economy Ministry has cut this year’s growth figure to 1.2 per cent from 1.8 per cent earlier this year and next year’s to 1.3 per cent from two per cent. (ya thunk…refurbished news)

          the aussies are in trouble since china put a tariff on coal this wknd…lots going on.

        2. abynormal

          btw im NO stk mavin either…just so dang curious ive taught myself as much as my pea brain can handle. not a lot!

        3. HotFlash

          Ma’am, dont personally know a market from a molehill, but am learning that that is where the Distant Early Warning is. Pls, I would be grateful for any direction you would care to give.

          “couple months back we experienced over 20 flash crashes within hrs…they were getting the trash out of the way and probably tweekin bots”

          mmmmh, yeah, looks v reasonable, and well worth keeping an eye on. I don’t know much about markets, but a bit abt computers. Find me at hotflash@thelorekeeper.ca until 19:30 EDT.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I liked the “Introverted Man” piece because the joke was that it was all true (and I’m a subject matter expect here, as in fact [blush] are most INTJs, at least in something. The Onion specialized in that kind of humor…. And I expect your link is a second example.

  5. McMike

    re Bush admin and public health.

    Not unlike the homeland security spending. Gobs and gobs of it went to cronies and contract fraud and boondoggles. Nevertheless some of it spilled over to the locals as Congressional district pork, and some of that actually led to actual beneficial local spending.

    Just the usual GOP military trickle down Keynesianism. On post-9/11 steroids.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is a saying, Those who know how to spend wisely, don’t have money; and those who have money, don’t know how to spend wisely.

      Thus, we never create and give money to the people, but only to a group of people connected to power.

  6. ewmayer

    15 Words You Didn’t Realize Were Named After People

    I confess most of these were shockingly new to me, but it seems I’m a dumbass follower of the late Mr. Scotus who figures into #8.

    Now that the initial shock has subsided somewhat, my comments and qeustions:

    1. saxophone – So shouldn’t it be the Adolphone? {And is Adolphe’s brother Goldman the on who founded the eponymous investment bank?)

    2. nicotine – Makes sense that this is named after a Frenchman, that is what is predicted by the branch of mathematics known as Galoises theory.

    3. bloomers – And knickers are named after the famous NYC basketball franchise, yes?

    4. mausoleum – I thought it was after the folks who made those “Corn – we call it maize” cooking-oil and margarine TV commercials, a kind of “bury my heart-clogging fats at Wounded Knee” ad theme. Shows you how much I know.

    5. chauvinism – Another predictable “Of course ahm Fransh – why do you theenk I have thees outrrrrrrrrrageous acc-ent?” import. Note that the UK equivalent, jingoism, is confusingly named after a German, John Jacob Jingoheimerschmidt. I think it’s a Hanoverian-dynastic thing.

    6. Cyrillic – Ah, wrong again. (I had always thought “Cyrillic” was the Russian for “It’s Greek to me, comrade”).

    7. lynching – I just hope this doesn’t mean I’m gonna have to stop drinking Jack Daniel’s out of moral principle. Please tell me the -burg is named after a different Lynch…

    8. dunce cap – Speaking of lazy pupils, my ophthalmologist (derived from the name of Ophthalmus, a famous Greek seer who lived around 2500 BC) told me I have a case of those recently, but he prescribed eye exercises and some medicinal drops, pointy-cap-wearing didn’t figure into it. Is he ripping me off by prescribing substandard care? If hat-wearing is an important part of the cure, I want to know.

    9. fuchsia – Ah, I thought this was some kind of bizarre anti-honor for Klaus Fuchs, the (in)famous Manhattan Project leaker. So this means I can actually wear this color wihout being accused of being a crypto-commie? That would be cool.

    10. Uzi – Yowzers. I though it was Hebrew for “Kalashniknov”.

    11. gardenia – Not your garden-variety eponym here. Oh, wait…

    12. braille – On the hearing-challenged side of the ledger, ASL is not an initialism for “American Sign Language” as commonly assumed, but rather is in honor of the late Turkish Dr. Aslan Canuhearmenowoglu, a famous 19th-century worker-with-deaf-children.

    13. diesel – Not after Vin? C’mon, you’re pulling mein Bein!

    14. macadam – Wrong, wrong, wrong, it’s because the stones in the mix look like the eponymous – and very expensive – nuts. Next they’ll be telling us “tarmac” is short for “tar macadam”. Pull the other one, guys!

    15. bougainvillea – Not after the S. Pacific island? Dagnabbit, I really thought I had that one right, too.

    1. ambrit

      Yowzers indeed! You are doubly punishing today. (Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the assault rifle named after him.)

    1. HotFlash

      My dear aby, pls stay safe. That’s a wish, but I have no idea how we-all can manage that. In the old days, in MI, we’d huddle the basement. No idea what the update is?

  7. Kurt Sperry

    Re: Ferguson:
    The mass occupying of a significant public space in an urban power center has a lot to recommend it–and a lot of potential–almost inevitable–risk and downside as well of course. It really is impossible to ignore firstly, huge upside, and its audacity adds a compelling element to the event as a story. Powerful, wealthy people are inconvenienced, authority is directly confronted and challenged. “il nous faut de l’audace, et encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace” (although the guillotine awaited M. Danton) Protests that lack audacity can more easily simply be ignored and I’m sure often are. It also makes a set piece for the media and better, in a media center where it can be covered by reporters who will get to sleep in their own beds and eat at their usual places while on assignment. This is all probably very good.

    But of course on both strategic and tactical levels it’s a set-up for a sad denouement–one easily sold and digested as a defeat. I wonder if the decentralized protests around Saint Louis are a conscious strategic choice, it seems a lot more sustainable in practical and logistical terms than a big mediagenic set piece.

    Protests in the end have effect essentially only to the extent they reflect an existing common sentiment so messaging would appear critical. If people broadly relate to the message the danger/opportunity exists of them becoming cultural nucleation points where existing discontent coalesces. I know people think everything is political, which is true enough, but everything is also cultural–including politics and only more so in any system that sells itself as putatively ‘democratic’. The tension between the will of the electorate and the policies of government places limits on policies even in a rigged democracy. Any system that calls itself democratic is at some point constrained by doing so. Culture drives politics more than the reverse. Don’t necessarily or only confront the political process directly, that’s attacking where your opponents are strong, go over politics’ head and incite cultural change.

    How any of this can be applied at street level? Surely smarter and wiser people than us have given the matter some thought already.

    1. James

      Not doubting Ferguson’s larger relevance, but it’s primarily a local/regional event. The entire St Louis area has been a hotbed of racial discontent throughout it’s history, no doubt inflamed considerably by recent white upper class economic gains. The regional breeding ground for Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain and all his homespun legends; what’s not to love?

      Will this relatively minor skirmish over the regrettably soon to be forgotten murder of an apparently innocent black boy/man by an obviously racist white cop serving an obviously racist larger community matter? In itself (and I’ve beat my head against the wall to the contrary on other boards to no end!), obviously not. Will it even make any difference in the long run with regard to rich, white America’s hold on the justice system? Remains to be seen, but I, for one, sincerely doubt it.

      What’s the solution? In the short term, there simply isn’t one. Life is what it is. Rich whites and their sponsored acolytes preying on everyone they deem to be their lesser, just as they do the worldover. Deal with it. The “good” news? Some of those same whites will fall prey to that same corrupt justice system. Too fucking bad.

      As to Americans decrying “injustice” within their own little national realm and yet sponsoring it everywhere else based on their own narrowly defined economic interests? Americans are merely betraying their own inherently selfish interests. In that sense, it’s not surprising at all that Ferguson MO and the murder of Michael Brown has long since fallen off the front pages along with everything else over a week or two in the past, or that the racist racist white cops and police departments of Ferguson and St Louis MO would be able to “keep a lid on all of this”, aka cover up their culpability in a blatant, racist, execution of the most obvious kind. See a lot of outrage of in any of the comments above?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think STL is primarily local/regional now but two questions: 1) Are STL’s grievances general? Clearly yes. 2) Will STL’s tactics scale? I think so. So…. I don’t think it matters very much if it’s on the front pages or not, if the locals are increasing their civic engagement, as they certainly seem to be.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      “I wonder if the decentralized protests around Saint Louis are a conscious strategic choice.” From what I read on the twitter, I would guess yes. But it’s only a guess!

      One thing that the “square” approach does to is lead directly to self-organizing by people in the square, present physically, and so geography leads directly to governance, as it were: The General Assembly. On the other hand, I’m not sure that the GA really “worked” as governance. I mean, if it were, it would still be governing, right? (And I don’t think “massive repression” is an answer to that….)

      So I think the distributed STL approach is really interesting, but it would seem that new forms of governance — or even just restoring governance to a semblance of sanity — are not something it can prefigure. Not sure!

  8. Jim Haygood

    Venezuela on the brink:

    Venezuela’s bonds declined to a three-year low after oil fell and Harvard University economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff said the South American country will probably default on its foreign debt.

    Venezuelan debt is the riskiest in the world, yielding 16.07 percentage points more than Treasuries, according to data compiled by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The cost to insure the country’s bonds against default with credit-default swaps is also the highest for any government globally.

    There is little risk of an immediate default in Venezuela, Sebastian Briozzo, director of sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor’s, said today in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. Last month, the ratings company lowered Venezuela’s credit rating to CCC+, which implies at least a 50 percent chance of default over the next two years.



    As Reinhart and Rogoff wrote yesterday:

    ‘Over the past 45 years, as Venezuela’s real per capita GDP fell, US per capita GDP roughly doubled and Chile’s per capita GDP nearly tripled.’

    How do you impoverish a country that sits on top of world-class oil reserves? Study what Venezuela did, do the opposite, and your country will prosper.

    1. James

      The smartest guy in my MBA cohort was always proud to say that his dying wish was to be penniless and up to his eyeballs in debt. You can’t take it with you!

      As to oil reserves, any country that “possesses” such and manages to “squander” it in the eyes of the oil economy has my UNDYING RESPECT!

      Jim, once again, you’re a VERY smart man, and SO invested in the current state of affairs. I respect you for that, I really do.

      How do you impoverish a country that sits on top of world-class oil reserves? Isn’t that obvious by now? By doing what the US/EU/IMF TELL YOU what to do!

    2. skippy

      Politics proceed market out comes wrt to your assertion.

      skippy…. When the CIA did that little gun boat strafing opt on coastal infrastructure, its not a price war anymore nor monetary policy issue.

          1. abynormal

            he is known for his ‘ideological discomforts’

            If you have a tail of straw, then keep away from the fire.
            Argentine Proverb

  9. Jay M

    The chaos seemed bracing when it seemed to lack a plan, but I guess that the paranoia kicked in realizing there was a plan

  10. Kim Kaufman

    ““Said another [Working Families Party] insider: ‘The Women’s Equality Party is Cuomo’s F U to the WFP’”
    The WFP supported Cuomo instead of Teachout. They get what they deserve.

  11. Kurt Sperry

    Any time you hear “working families” in a political context it inevitably seems embedded in a rhetorical matrix of phony concern and generalized BS.

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