2:00PM Water Cooler 10/22/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Shootings in Ottawa

Shootings occurred at the National War Memorial, near the Rideau Centre, and on Parliament Hill, say police [CNN].

One soldier killed at War Memorial, corridors of Parliament filled with scent of gunpowder [New York Times].

Schools and government buildings in lockdown, all party leaders safe [CBC].

One gunman killed, bridges closed [Ottawa Citizen].

“Canada is under siege from within” [Toronto Sun]. That was fast! “Terrorists End Canada’s Innocence” [Daily Beast]. After École Polytechnique? Demented. “[H]ow an oasis of tranquility became breeding ground for terrorists” [Daily Telegraph]. Note: So far as I know, there’s no reported evidence on this (these?) shooter(s?) at all, at least as of 1:00PM EST.

Here’s the Globe and Mail’s twitter feed.

Hong Kong

Next round of talks not scheduled, occupation continues, 200 protesters march to CY Leung’s house, endgame seen “unclear” [Reuters]. Again, this is quite remarkable:

Tuesday’s cordial, televised talks … pitted five of the city’s most senior officials against five tenacious but (sic) poised student leaders wearing black T-shirts.

Hong Kong protester: “They are slowly cooking Hong Kong in a hot pot” [Asian Correspondent]. There’s a lot of that going around.

Polls: Public support for Hong Kong protests grows significantly, despite divisions [South China Morning Post]. So expect pushback to increase in intensity.

Ferguson

Agreement between Occupiers and St Louis University includes increased funding for African-American studies programs, more financial aid for black students, and setting up of a bridge program in the Shaw and Normandy neighborhoods [River Front Times].

Official autopsy said to show Mike Brown was shot in the hand at close range during a struggle in Darren Wilson’s car [Newsweek]. The Brown family was smart to get its own autopsy, then. There’s also a third autopsy, done by the Justice Department, but not released [WaPo].

Darren Wilson gives his version [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. And here’s more, er, highly colored coverage of same [Daily Mail]. I have to say, I think “incredibly strong” is over-egging the pudding.

And St Louis isn’t the only big, Democratic-controlled midwestern city where cops whack citizens with “impunity” [Truthout].

2014

We don’t have a Surgeon General because the Ds threw their own nominee under the bus to protect Blue Dogs in states where ammosexuals could swing the vote [Bloomberg]. 

Sleazy private equity “No Labels” D mole Greg Orman goes for the youth vote [Emporia Gazette], while R silverback Pat Roberts deploys pro-lifers [RH Reality Check]. Orman’s plan is to hold interest on student loans to the rate of inflation. I guess we’ll see a lot more students studying German, because you can get a free German college degree if you do, which sounds like a better deal than handing over a huge chunk of your income to rentier parasites for a big chunk of your working life, assuming you can find work [CBS]. Just saying.

Will Independents — Orman, Pressler, King, and Sanders — hold the balance of power in the Senate? [Politico]. Maybe. Or maybe not!

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, September 2014: Inflation “excluding food and energy” “soft” [Bloomberg]. “[I]nflation is soft and not leading the Fed to hurry the first increase in the fed funds rate next year. Fed funds futures suggest that first rise will be in the second half.” Party on, dudes! Annual COLA increase for Social Security and disability payments, calculated from September’s figure, will be 1.7% [WSJ].

EIA Petroleum Status Report, week of October 17: Inventory up from refinery maintenance [Bloomberg]. Build larger than expected [Oil and Gas Journal]. (Here’s a handy source on rig counts.)

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready].

Slavery

Slavery explainer, with links [Science 2.0]. 

Mauritanian woman rescued from slavery, faces stoning for having sex outside marriage [CNN].

Asia’s brutal slave trade [Reuters].

Tax Geekery

The money quote: “[M]arginal tax rates on the top 1% of the earnings distribution of close to 90% are optimal” [NEBR]. So the Birchers were right. Dwight D. Eisenhower (92%) was a communist.

Brownback’s tax cut nostrum crashes the Kansas economy [FT, “Tax ‘experiment’ rebounds on Republican in re-election campaign”].

Maps and Mapping

Crowdpac has an interesting and useful new tool on candidates’ issues, money sources, and donor networks [CrowdPac]. Just in time for the mid-terms! Can you see the problem with it?

crowdpac

That’s right. You can see a “donor network,”  but you can’t get a synoptic, total view of all donors simultaneously; you have to hover over each node to get its label (here, “U.S. Chamber of Commerce”). Can you tell from that one hover whether whether the CoC is an outlier for this candidate, or not? No. How do users create a synoptic view for a candidate and then share it to others? Apparently by hovering over each node and writing the label down, or something. I’m consideirng the idea that there’s a pervasive mentality that 1:1 relations are always digging into, but 1:M, not so much, as least where money is concerned. Yes, I know displaying labels like “”U.S. Chamber of Commerce” on a network graph is a hard problem, but that’s why we pay programmers the big bucks to create tools that users can use.

News of the Weird

  • The ethical problems with the Guardian’s Whisper scoop are entirely on Whisper’s side [Columbia Journalism Review]. Henry Blodgett is not so sure [Business Insider].
  • White House Chief Of Staff Denis McDonough personanlly negotating “redaction” Of CIA torture report [HuffPo]. Most transparent administration in history!
  • Blackwater guards found guilty for shooting Iraqi civilians [FOX]. Justice at last.
  • WTO rules against country-of-origin meat label [Eyes on Trade].
  • Seattle’s Kshama Sawant denounces fellow city council members for retreat with corporate executives at luxury resort [Raw Story].
  • Indians sensibly shop for vegetables at food stalls and kiranas (small shops), avoiding supermarkets [Economist].

* * *

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 (Steve R):

sunflower_bud

I love how optimistic plants seem. They keep budding and pushing toward the light, even when winter is coming.

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.

63 comments

  1. TimR

    Comment about Prof. Hamamoto’s new book Servitors of Empire (from a couple days back):

    Timothy Y. Fong October 22, 2014 at 1:46 am

    I skimmed his new work on Google Books. It’s really too bad he’s gone full Alex Jones, with respect to “China being America’s banker,” and a lack of a coherent narrative with respect to the functioning of finance and the monetary system. Rather than spending his time listening to gold cranks, he would have been better off reading NC every day.

    He does have some interesting insights into the eagerness of a certain section of the Asian American community who are enthusiastic collaborators with neoliberalism, serving as managers and technologists. There are unfortunately many Asian Americans who believe that by doing so, they are “model minorities,” and that this separates them from blacks and Latinos and makes them honorary white people. This is not true, as Asian Americans in tech jobs are still paid less than whites in equivalent positions. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/10/09/high-tech-pay-gap-hispanics-asians-african-americans/16606121/

    Aside from the fact that supporting white supremacy is morally indefensible, it is also a bad move politically. I would hope that the wannabe model minority folks recognize that if things ever go seriously sideways in the economy, their actions make them easy scapegoats.

    Thanks for that input, I haven’t read his book, just listened to an interview on GnosticMedia.

    From what I have seen in the alt media, *lots* of people could stand to be better acquainted with MMT ideas, or other similar analyses. (I still do not have a full comfort level with the different schools myself; I remember a while back on this site “From Mexico” seemed to be coming to a skeptical view of the underlying subtext of MMT. Also there were some competing camps (which I have archived but not investigated) that appeared to take a comprehensive view that viewed MMT as being limited as well.) Agree or disagree, they seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle without MMT and such analyses.

    But Hamamoto’s insights into “servitor” classes in general, not just Asian-Americans (he discusses the use of the LGBT community as well in this role), seems very critical to understand. And it is cautionary too, as he alleges those groups are being set up to have the rug pulled out from under them, to be used as scapegoats in successive stages of society’s collapse by design (or at least as a contingency plan.)

    1. reslez

      The main objections I see to MMT on this site are different from the objections you encounter on other sites. Here on NC, the objections fall into a couple camps.

      1) Objection: MMT ignores the environment / climate change / real resource constraints / overpopulation / giving people money makes them buy more fossil fuels

      I personally have found that most MMT writers (such as Bill Mitchell) pay quite a lot of attention to real resource constraints and AGW. They rightly point out MMT can be used as a tool for environmental remediation in contrast to other economic systems, which pretend we cannot afford to not kill ourselves. There are plenty of activities you could pay people to do that would vastly improve quality of life with minimal fossil fuel impact.

      2) Objection: MMT fails to solve the problem of human greed / corruption / evil in general / any system will be subverted by the greedy / can you imagine what Wall Street would do with MMT

      Well the sad truth is we already operate under MMT which means Wall Street already enjoys the largesse of trillions keystroked into existence at its whim. It is indeed sad that some degree of human greed will always be with us, though as an economic theory MMT must remain silent on topics outside its domain such as reengineering societal norms.

      3) Objection: MMT can never be implemented because politics is broken / democracy is broken / people are dumb

      As mentioned previously we already exist under a fiat system with constraints of our own imagining: MMT is already in operation. Our challenge is to inform people of this when there are so many forces that profit from its remaining obscure. The key is taking control of government so the benefits of MMT extend to the people rather than the scum elite. And as an economic theory MMT must necessarily remain silent on topics outside its domain, such as building a network capable of this. Politics is not immutable. Our society is capable of immense change over short periods of time. It only takes people willing to sacrifice.

      4) Objection: Once MMT is fully understood the people will use it to implement socialist policies I dislike such as social insurance or universal health care / MMT should make no “policy recommendations” / MMT should only be used to prop up Wall Street

      An objection I classify as the Rocheist position. Not many NC commenters fall in with this, for which I am thankful.

      1. James

        Without starting another MMT firestorm of a thread, I think you’ve summed up my concerns at least in points 2 and 3:

        Well the sad truth is we already operate under MMT which means Wall Street already enjoys the largesse of trillions keystroked into existence at its whim. … As mentioned previously we already exist under a fiat system with constraints of our own imagining: MMT is already in operation. Our challenge is to inform people of this when there are so many forces that profit from its remaining obscure. The key is taking control of government so the benefits of MMT extend to the people rather than the scum elite.

        The rub of course being in that last bold faced section. And really, that’s the rub in the whole shooting match right now; wresting control of the government back to “we the people” in the first place. Failing that, MMT, or anything else for that matter, will just be another tool to serve their interests. But I should add, I don’t share your optimism regarding educating society about MMT’s benefits. I’ve brought MMT up many times on other blogs I frequent to indifferent to openly hostile response. I come from a long line of red staters, and believe me, you’d be shown the door post haste for suggesting that social programs, even their own, could ever be expanded as needed without meticulous concern for tax revenues and balanced budgets. Does any of that make sense? Probably not. But it is, as they say these days, what it is.

        And yes, I think I understand and mostly agree with all of the core concepts of MMT. But I also think all of our core problems at this moment – natural resource depletion, environmental degradation, AGW, and wealth inequality – are not predominantly monetary in nature.

        As to your final point:

        Once MMT is fully understood the people will use it to implement socialist policies

        We could only dream! Never understood why “the people” implementing socialist policies could ever be construed as a bad thing, but that’s just me. I think Americans have foolishly bought into the idea that they too can one day magically be millionaires, probably because so many of them are suffering under the yoke of the capitalist nightmare everyday and foolishly imagine that that’s their own escape – a veritable “circle jerk” of delusion if you will. But once again, their wealthy masters have long since poisoned the word socialist, even before they did the same with liberal (granted, with a little help from liberals as well!), and now that ship has sailed.

        All of which just reinforces the primary points above. MMT, whatever it’s strong points, will never be sold to the American electorate or be a solution for anything until our rather more basic political issues are worked out. As you said, we already have MMT, and look what it’s being used for: blatant militarization of the US “homeland” in the wake of an equally blatant false flag event in 9-11, an out of control Global War OF Terror that has declared anyone, anywhere, anytime fair game based on a whim or no whim at all, and a global austerity program intended to starve anyone else who falls between the cracks.

        And that’s my optimistic take on things!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Linear thinking, when thinking in parallel is required. You can’t “work out basic political issues” without an appeal to values and interests. MMT gives shows the way concrete material benefits — interests — can be satisfied. Nobody’s going to work out anything for purely academic purposes.

        2. Furzy Mouse

          I have been trying, with precious little success, to persuade various Euro friends, still working in the UK, etc, that MMT is a worthy framework with which to deal with their problems. And alas, these dear friends do go nearly ballistic over MMT’s premises. But they remain very incoherent with their rebuttals….all I get from them is you are Wrong Wrong Wrong, none of the MMT ideas can be considered…..the austerians rule, down to the bone…the first step is denial…

          1. Kim Kaufman

            One good thing about increased Latino population in the U.S. is they are not afraid of the “socialism” word – which has been messaged as bad ever since McCarthy where the powers that be conflated “communism” with “socialism” = red scary menace.

    1. Working Class Nero

      Lots of people are speculating the the attacks are related. What I find interesting is the fact that they are local converts to Islam (there is a chance the shooter in Ottawa was a convert as well). One attack in the US was also a local convert. The problem with using Muslim immigrants to carry out attacks is that the reaction will be to pretty quickly shutdown the pipeline of Muslim immigrants. By using local converts, the ISIS gets to still launch an attack and keep Muslim immigration to Western countries going at the same time. Also local intelligence services undoubtedly send fake converts into radical Islamic groups trying to infiltrate these organizations. This is a great way to guard against that.

        1. Roland

          Canada’s “Anti-Terrorism Act” is pretty similar to the USA PATRIOT Act.
          All the Western Bloc countries have pretty much moved in lockstep post-2001, separated only by small degrees.

          With these latest incidents, we’ll spin the roulette wheel to see which civil liberties we lose this time.

          Looking on the bright side, at least the terrorists won’t be able to hate us for our freedoms. Our governments have that problem licked.

  2. DJG

    A question to ponder. After the Great Squandering, that is, the 2010 Midterm “Shellacking,” should we even have minimal pity for the Democrats, whose woes are self-inflicted and who then inflict their problems on the populace? Are the Democrats the cane toads of world politics? [And before the moaning starts about the Difference between the Two Parties, I consider the Republicans to be the party of crypto-fascism–you know, Sarah Palin at birthday parties.] But the Democrats and this glimpse of what they did to the surgeon general nomination–I suppose we get the government that we deserve (because Americans sure aren’t trying hard to gain anything better).

    1. grizziz

      Cane toads? It might carry some metaphorical weight, but how? The Democrats are now an invasive species and poisonous to predators? The Republicans seem to eating them for lunch.

      1. afisher

        Here’s hoping that GOP die a quick and painful death via their toad eating – otherwise they will create a lot more pain and death of actual human beings via their twisted ideology and their dominionism / theocratic worldview – along with a few more wars for oil to kill off the upcoming generations.

  3. Jess

    Here is the abstract of the NEBR piece on marginal tax rates:

    “In this paper we argue that very high marginal labor income tax rates are an effective tool for social
    insurance even when households have preferences with high labor supply elasticity, make dynamic
    savings decisions, and policies have general equilibrium effects. To make this point we construct a
    large scale Overlapping Generations Model with uninsurable labor productivity risk, show that it has
    a wealth distribution that matches the data well, and then use it to characterize fiscal policies that achieve
    a desired degree of redistribution in society. We find that marginal tax rates on the top 1% of the earnings
    distribution of close to 90% are optimal. We document that this result is robust to plausible variation
    in the labor supply elasticity and holds regardless of whether social welfare is measured at the steady
    state only or includes transitional generations.”

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I for one am sure glad that Yves and Lambert and Prof. Smith don’t write like this. Maybe they should hire Hugh (where has he been recently) to translate this into something understandable by the public.

  4. grizziz

    Henry Blodgett on ethics? On privacy ethics? I guess ya gotta go with experience when reason lets ya down,

  5. afisher

    Rollcall – crowd – the info is bad…more often than not a feature, not a bug. Take a look at their “ranking” system – it detaches from reality if one is looking at current election funding – because it certainly ignore that as an option, when one clicks on legislators via the “issue” link. In other words – GIGO.

  6. diptherio

    Re: Slavery

    I’m reading Zinn’s People’s History and Eric Williams’ Slavery and Capitalism and they both really drive home the point that slavery was a result of economics, not racism. Racism didn’t lead to slavery–slavery was required for the production of sugar and cotton (mainly). Racism was purposefully inculcated among the poor-white population as a means of keeping them from banding together with black slaves to overthrow their common oppressor. And we should remember that the European elites first tried to use the locals as slaves, but they tended to die/commit suicide. Then they tried using convicts and beggars from Europe, but there weren’t enough of them–and so it became Africans.

    I think it’s important for us to remember that the horrors of slavery were not the result of racism, but of the economic desires of the wealthy elite. In that way, it is much the same situation today, in our sweatshops and maquiladoras.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Try, if you haven’t already, Greg Grandin’s Empire of Necessity. It’s a little discursive, but never sloppy, and the descriptions of the texture and effects of slavery are brilliant. And I’m 100% in agreement with you on causuality. Intertextuality is all very well, but some of the threads in the fabric are stronger than others, and the fabric is not stressed evenly, but “on the bias,” as it were, and the bias is at all times economic.

      1. diptherio

        Thanks for the suggestion. If I can bear any more after I finish Williams, I’ll look for it.

        Every time I hear I crack of a whip
        my blood runs cold.
        I remember on the slave ship,
        how they brutalized our very souls.
        Today they say the we are free,
        only to be chained in poverty.
        Good God, I think it’s illiteracy,
        it’s a machine that only makes money.
        ~Bob

        1. lambert strether

          I think the picaresque nature of Empire of Necessity will help; one isn’t being beaten round the head and ears all the time with a thesis.

          At the same time, it also shows, through brilliant sourcing, the place of slavery in the world system. I really can’t recommend it enough.

    2. abynormal

      i just finished ‘Someone knows my name’/Lawrence Hill
      “…tribal African village to a plantation in the southern United States, from the teeming Halifax docks to the manor houses of London, The Book of Negroes introduces one of the strongest female characters in recent Canadian fiction, one who cuts a swath through a world hostile to her colour and her sex.”

      i was unaware of too much information, considering the abolitionist, mining corporations, Nova Scotia and slaves returned to the gold coast. i see i spent too many years reading what was ‘required’…altho being from the deep south, i consider my enduring love affair with books my greatest grace. Lawrence Hill comes from a line of writers and research on slavery…you’d appreciate it Dip (for a fiction’)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The Economist article doesn’t demonstrate that slavery in the US was at a “dead end.” Even buying the soil exhaustion thesis, what do you think “Free Soil” and “Bloody Kansas” were all about?

        1. Optimader

          What I wrote was “Slavery was demonstrably an economic deadend in the US.” not “was at a “dead end””. I think we can agree that unsustainable economic paradigms persist as they are fail, no?

          Regarding the original premise, subsequent to the Civil War (War of N. Aggression if you prefer) former plantation crops continue to be produced, QED slavery is not (was not) a requirement for their cultivation.

          Regarding. Free soil/ Bleeding Kansas that history is well documented. That some harbored concern that slave owners would have some competitive advantage is immaterial to the inexorable long term economic failing of the southern plantation slave based labor model. The southern plantation based economy lacked innovation and diversification, both being positive indicators for extinction.

          ” By 1860, the proportion of whites holding slaves had fallen from about one-third to one-fourth. As slave and land ownership grew more concentrated, a growing number of whites were forced by economic pressure to leave the land and move to urban centers “….”20 percent of all southern white adults could not read or write, while the illiteracy rate in New England was less than half of 1 percent.”

          Seeking more fertile soil (due to southern plantation soil depletion) was a motivating factor that lead plantation owners to Kansas.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      “…horrors of slavery were not the result of racism…”

      The Greeks and Romans rarely mention race but they did love their slaves. Those temples, mausoleums, and triumphal arches weren’t going to build themselves.

    4. James

      Meh! Might not have been the “direct result of” race, but race sure made it damn convenient. I’m making my way through the same book, but I think I’d moderate it with at least a small helping of Fred Reed to make sure I had my bearings straight. Alas, contrary to some opinions, liberal academics do not know everything!

        1. Kim Kaufman

          or religion. Reasons can always be found by the rich and mighty to fear-monger and prey on weaker people.

          Am very happy to see this discussion. I have long thought that it is not about racism but about economics.

        2. cwaltz

          And it’s still convenient. It’s a great way to keep the poors divided. Make sure each side makes assumptions and resents the crap out of the other based on said assumptions. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    5. Roger Bigod

      Mostly economics, some “values”. In North America it was associated with cultivation of tobacco (VA and MD before 1790 or so), cotton (Lower South), rice and indigo (SC). These are all labor-intensive crops where the labor input is spread out over the whole year. It was slow to take off in VA. In 1675 the governor reported that the population of the colony was 40,000, with 4,000 indentured servants and 2,000 slaves. By 1700 recruitment of indentured servants declined, and the dependency on slavery increased. After 1750 or so, tobacco went into a decline, due to market conditions and exhaustion of the soil. Several owners freed their slaves, and the law professor at W&M wrote a review of the legal status of slavery and made a proposal for ending it. The invention of the cotton gin changed the economics.

      It’s difficult to follow the change of attitudes. We know that at the time of the Founding, slavery was legal in all the states. A few decades later, the North had abolished it. One contributing factor was perhaps pride in the success of the US and the founding documents. It’s easy to say that this is an inevitable part of Human Progress. But not so many years ago, treatment of prisoners and criminal suspects would have been seen as part of the same process, and the casual acceptance of torture is disturbing.

    6. Ulysses

      This is a good point, but it’s important to also note how generations of enslavement in North America resulted in the devaluation of African lives here. The lingering effects are still obvious today, and contribute to contemporary racism against people of color.

      Even President Abraham Lincoln, and many other abolitionists, wasn’t very keen on the prospects of fully integrating former African slaves into white society– and argued for years that people of color would do best to self-deport “back to Africa.” Indeed the American Colonization Society helped to found the nation of Liberia in 1847, to give former African slaves a place to go where they wouldn’t be hanging around making white people in America uncomfortable.

  7. Horatio Parker

    I suppose economic necessity why American slave children were not born free, or why whites could not be enslaved.

    1. lambert strether

      First, “economic necessity” and economic advantage tend to blur at the top of the greasy pole. Second, whites[1] were “enslaved,” historically; what do you think the word “Slav” means? And then there’s indentured servitude….

      NOTE [1] Accepting, for the sake of the argument, racial categories as anything other than heuristic.

  8. Benedict@Large

    What Happened in Ferguson

    I was running through the leaked descriptions of what happened that afternoon in Ferguson, and after a bit, it became pretty obvious that Wilson is leaving out some important chunks of what went down. Most obvious is how the melee moves from inside the car, where Wilson first shot Brown, to outside the car, where Wilson fires the kill shot at twenty feet.

    The more important omission however is how the entire incident starts; that stretch of time between Wilson deciding to stop Brown and the gun first being fired. We’re told that Brown went for the gun, but that doesn’t make sense. For Brown to go for the gun, he would first have to see the gun, and this is blocked either by Wilson’s body (if he is right handed) or the car window sill (if he is left handed). How can Brown go for a gun he cannot see? This is the key piece of information that Wilson is hiding, and with good reason. You see, the only way Brown sees the gun is if Wilson HAD ALREADY DRAWN IT when contact was first made.

    What probably happens is that when Brown is called to the car by Wilson, he is confronted by Wilson (recklessly) brandishing his gun. Brown sees this, and immediately thinks he is about to be shot. This explains why Brown “goes for his gun”; he’s trying to deflect the aim in an act of self-defense. By this time, the situation has careened out of control, and Wilson shoots Brown. It’s important to note here that under this scenario, which is the only explanation so far as to how the gun came out of its holster, Wilson has NO JUST CAUSE for drawing his firearm. He is probably just a scared cop looking at two “scary” black men.

    Now shot (twice?), Brown retreats, back turned, while Wilson continues to fire. Wilson is on auto-pilot at this point, when Brown turns around and raises his hands. A thoroughly-confused Wilson interprets this as a second attack (except there wasn’t even a first), and he fires the kill shot.

    Wilson’s crime? Aggravated manslaughter. And don’t buy this crap that there isn’t enough evidence. The fact that Brown couldn’t have seen the gun unless it was drawn pre-maturely is sufficient. It marks Wilson as the initial aggressor, and marks that aggression as without cause.

    From https://www.facebook.com/benedict.at.large/posts/10204202302031965
    10/22/2014, 1:04 AM

    1. lambert strether

      Thanks, Benedict; I wish I had time to look at the detail like this, and I encourage other readers to employ their critical thinking skills.

      What struck me in the Daily Mail story (besides the fact that they might as well have called Brown a “young buck”) was the whole THC in Brown’s blood thing. Things may have changed since I was young, but when, I mean, I have heard that when people go to a store for munchies they’re pretty relaxed and looking to stay that way. So the concept that Brown is going to smoke some weed and then try to wrestle a gun away from a cop…. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

      1. James

        So the concept that Brown is going to smoke some weed and then try to wrestle a gun away from a cop…. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

        Even if he did, six shots with a close range execution style kill shot to top it off? In common parlance, Brown was simply MURDERED, presumably for the crime of being black, period. All the rest is just so much hot air.

    2. James

      Good sleuthing there Benedict in revealing what most of us would have known had we been subjected to that kind of stuff even occasionally in our past. Additionally, if Wilson were left handed (and I don’t think he was), how awkward would have that been for him to draw and threaten Brown through the driver’s side window? Likewise, how awkward would it have been for Brown to reach in and grab a holstered left hand gun up against the driver’s side door? None of it makes any sense unless the gun was already out, all of which police investigators are more than amply trained to know, and fortunately for them, the rest of us aren’t.

      Aggravated manslaughter? There you’re simply being too kind. Unless a purely physical threat expressed decidedly indirectly/at a distance compels a close range execution with a firearm, this is just plain and simply a murder by cop. PERIOD!!!

  9. ewmayer

    o U.S. national security prosecutors shift focus from spies to cyber | Reuters

    DOJ: “Going after sophisticated cybercrime rings is doable, but prosecuting trillion-dollar bank fraud rings … well, that’s clearly a Buck Rogers fantasy.”

    o Golden Gate Bridge officials considering toll for pedestrians, bicyclists | abc7news.com

    They should also add view-blocking barricades and charge sightseers $1 for a brief face-sized opening to appear in the barrier through which they can peek and take photos. /sarc

  10. ewmayer

    Forgot one:

    o Famed Texas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt dead at 88 | Reuters

    I shed no tears at the passing of this particular financial fraudster who fell victim to his own greedy overreach, but note the many “timeless” elements of the saga – big-fish margin-callee rescues via bank bailouts, wrist-slap fines for massive frauds, Greenspanian deregulation-as-religion. Especially LOL-worthy snip: “Biographers said Hunt’s silver strategy was fueled by the fear of an imminent economic apocalypse brought on by communists and U.S. liberal establishment.” But hey, the silver-hoarding prepperish spirit embodied by Hunt lives on in the internet age at places like ZeroHedge, where all the world’s a bankster-run plot to keep silver prices down.

      1. ambrit

        No, because his mommy and daddy forgot to put the quotation marks around his middle name. And “Bunker C Hunt” would get Loyld Bridges all pissed off, wouldn’t it.
        I hear that the Chinese used to call him “Silver Tongued Foreign Devil” though.

    1. cwaltz

      I actually feel kind of sad for people like him that essentially live their lives in fear. How horrible that everyday what you look forward to is verifying you’ve prepped enough for a zombie apocalypse? It’s one thing to be prepared for life throwing you curves, it’s entirely another to spend your life planning almost to the point of wishful dysfunction(so you can tell everyone I told you so) planning for the collapse of civilization as it exists.

      I also find it interesting that most of them don’t seem to get that an every man for themselves mentality is only going to get you so far if things collapse. The reality is that you have a better chance of survival if you a) can adapt and b) have a broad network of people with skills that can help you(or if you will the means to rebuild the civilization.)

  11. Grizziz

    Hong Kong:
    Check this insight from the Burdens of a Bachelor Blog
    http://10bennettave.blogspot.com
    “So for the Gray Lady to continue to favorably spotlight the young protesters of the Umbrella Movement who are trying to implement a form of democracy that the owners and editors of the paper clearly do not support, which is to say a broadly egalitarian system, one has to note the glaring display of bad faith. This then lends weight to the notion that U.S. mainstream advocacy of the Umbrella Revolution — something that would never be tolerated in the homeland; look at Ferguson: protesters were not allowed to stand still let alone sit down — is part of a Color Revolution scheme “Pivot to Asia.” “

    1. lambert strether

      Could be. However, that doesn’t mean that the Hong Kong protesters aren’t, themselves, fully human moral agents. Just because some drones in an office in the Beltway cook up a scheme and secure funding doesn’t mean that other people are automatically puppets; quite the reverse, in fact.

      Adding: Wouldn’t it be splendid if there were color revolution blowback in this country?

      1. Grizziz

        I agree with you on the agency of the HK protesters. I find their claims to be acceptable under common democratic norms. I do not know if their constitution allows for such a change. I assume all legitimate changes must go through Beijing and there is the rub. I doubt that constitutional changes will be forthcoming because Xi has yet to consolidate his power and has no time or desire for benevolence towards Hong Kong. The protestors may supplicate and only see the back of the hand.
        I might speculate that while the intellectual class is preoccupied with HK, beltway drones included, that a politburo out group purge is underway.

        BTW what would a color revolution blowback look like, Kristallnacht at Foggy Bottom?

  12. Oregoncharles

    “And St Louis isn’t the only big, Democratic-controlled midwestern city where cops whack citizens with “impunity” ”

    Nor is this restricted to the Midwest; it’s almost universal in big cities. Portland, OR is very bad, with regular unjustified killings; even smaller Eugene has the same problem.

    There are two roots to it: One is the steadily expanding police state that comes from the very top. The other is a total lack of effective institutions to hold cops accountable. Prosecutors are in league with them; even “civilian review boards” are generally neutered or co-opted. The only thing that might work is a separate investigative/prosecutorial agency with a guaranteed budget. As if we’ll see that any time soon.

    It’s actually a serious oversight in the Constitution – but they didn’t plan on such an enlarged constabulary.

    If you read the comments on the Truthout article, one actually calls for citizens to fight back, killing police and taking casualties. He argues they’re bullies and will stop if it’s actually dangerous. It might come to that, too; it’s already well establish that the only way for blacks to get any justice is to riot – if necessary, more than once, which I predict for Ferguson and St. Louis. I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been more retaliation, but of course it’s terribly dangerous.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed before the riots of the 60s. So, when you say “the only way” that’s flat out false. It’s also insulting to blacks, since it implies they can’t devise other, more powerful methods.

      1. ambrit

        So, we need another Lyndon Johnston do we? Remember also, the Black Civil Rights movement started in the churches. Religion is a powerful tool for social engineering, both liberal and conservative.

    2. Calgacus

      It’s actually a serious oversight in the Constitution – but they didn’t plan on such an enlarged constabulary.

      Radley Balko, in Rise of the Warrior Cop – The Militarization of America’s Police Forces p.29 and throughout the book, considers the (symbolic) 3rd Amendment to be the constitutional bulwark against the book’s topic:

      “But the historical context behind the Third Amendment shows that the Framers were worried about something more profound than fat soldier hands stripping the country’s larders. The amendment was a placeholder for the broader aversion to an internal standing army.
      At the time the Third Amendment was ratified, the images and memories of British troops in Boston and other cities were still fresh, and the clashes with colonists that drew the country into war still evoked strong emotions. What we might call the “Symbolic Third Amendment” wasn’t just a prohibition on peacetime quartering, but a more robust expression of the threat that standing armies pose to free societies. It represented a long-standing, deeply ingrained resistance to armies patrolling American streets and policing American communities.
      And in that sense, the spirit of the Third Amendment is anything but anachronistic.”

    3. neo-realist

      It’s also the kind of people that join the police forces—–Goobers from the small towns (ex-military in many cases) who don’t think too highly of people of color and are raised and trained to use guns at the slightest provocation.

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