2:00PM Water Cooler 10/27/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Senate: Run-off possibilities in Louisiana and Georgia, and independent candidates in tight races in Kansas and Georgia mean mid-terms may not be decided on election day [Reuters].

“And then the 2016 primary begins! Huzzah” [Eschaton]. If the electoral process has lost Atrios…

Nate Silver on the Senate race: Rs ahead, but scrappy Ds are still hanging around [FiveThirtyEight].

Senate: Key races too close to call [McClatchy]. North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas.

Two biggest Kentucky papers endorse McConnell’s opponent, Alison Grimes [Politics USA].

Will Latinos turn out? The only state where that question matters: Colorado [McClatchy]. At least one good reason for kicking the can down the road on immigration.

Democrats might pick up some governor’s seats, affecting “wave election” framing, or not [Times].

Colorless D functionary poised to lose Maine gubernatorial race, again [Corrente].

Shootings in Ottawa

Headline: “Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau: How Canada tracks homegrown radicals.” Subhead: “Parliament Hill, Quebec attacks renew concerns about home-grown extremists” [CBC]. Less scaremongering than in U.S. headlines, but note the conflation of extremely capacious categories — “radicals,” and “extremists” — in the context of justification for surveillance, and from the heart of the Canadian establishment, the CBC. 

Harper’s assault on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms betrays the values Corporal Cirillo died for [Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow]. Never let a crisis go to waste!

Hong Kong

Protesters halt plans for electronic vote on continuing occupation [Los Angeles Times].

Specifically, Li said plans to record voters’ Hong Kong identity card numbers as a bulwark against fraud could have backfired and put those who participated in danger.

Yikes! E-voting?! Bad, bad, bad idea! If that was the plan, the protesters were quite right to call a halt and rethink. I mean, not that electronic votes can be hacked, or anything…

Police use Draconian computer law to crack down on occupiers [Quartz].

Hong Kong celebrity Chow Yun-fat  supports the protest, among other celebrities [Shanghaist (Jeff W)].

“Emotional” Secretary for Security, Lai Tung-kwok, says protests have turned to “hatred and violence” from “love and peace,” shows video to Legco [RTHK]. Two words: Tear gas.

Protest leader Benny Tai: Time to formulate an end game [South China Morning Post].

Activists share secrets at Oslo Freedom Forum [BBC]. Perhaps “tricks of the trade” might be a better word than “secrets.” Anyhow, in the era of Twitter, BBC? I remember seeing a tweet of the lock-ties Hong Protesters used to tie barriers together, with a subtweet from a Gezi protester: “Why didn’t we think of that?”


PEN America cites 52 accusations of press freedom violations in Ferguson, calls for investigation [New York Times].

Solidarity protest in Northwest Arkansas [Arkansas Matters Daily].

Solidarity protest on Newberry Street, Boston [Daily Free Press].

The leaked police autopsy report: “Just read new Mike Brown autopsy. Beware passive language in govt docs, like ‘during the struggle the officer’s weapon was unholstered,’ tweeted TV Legal Analyst @LisaBloom” [Latin Post]. +1000. Always, always look for lack of agency. Such a tell!

Yet another more commission…. [Quartz].


Gloria Steinem endorses Cuomo, based on the WEP, which is not the WFP, although on the ballot line, the names of the two parties are confusingly similar. For some reason [New York Times].

Cuomo panders on ebola quarantine, then buckles to White House pressure [Capital New York].

Stats Watch

Pending home sales index, September 2014: Small gains hint at growth [Bloomberg].


Interactive wrap-up of ObamaCare’s modest gains [Times]. Increased numbers insured, no data on health gains.

Robert Laszewski: If ObamaCare’s so good, why hide it? [USA Today]. 

Classic: “New, improved Obamacare program released on 35 floppy disks” [The Onion].

News of the Wired

New Asimov essay discovered: “On Creativity” [MIT Technology Review].

Wearing a Wikileaks T shirt to Eric Schrnidt’s book release in London [Muck (Jill)].

Private equity repositions Popular Woodworking as an e-commerce platform [Folio]. Any woodworkers with thoughts on this?

Naomi Klein’s grandfather was a Disney animator [New Statesman]. Hardly the point of this interview with Klein, but fascinating if you know anything about Uncle Walt.

Kidney trafficking between Cambodia and Thailand [Straits Times]. A solution for debt…

Mississippi imprisons more per capita than China and Russia [Clarion-Ledger].

Occupiers arrested for touching “sleeping structures.” Green MP arrested for giving occupiers food [FT, “Occupy protesters to leave London’s Parliament Square”]. Police suppression no longer considered news [Guardian, David Graeber].

Imagine a wish come true, then imagine the obstacles to it. That’s “mental contrasting,” as opposed to “positive thinking” [Times]. We New Englanders have never fallen prey to the “positive thinking” fad. Winter is coming.

Evil clowns spark wave of panic in France [Agence France Presse].

* * *

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 (Petra):


I was going to say moss is deemed to be an honorary plant, but it’s lichen that is so deemed. My “I took it back in time” bad.

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. Vatch

    The article says that it was Naomi Klein’s grandfather, not her father, who was a Disney animator. He was fired for taking part in a 1941 strike.

  2. dearieme

    “radical”, at least in its British usage, usually refers to a follower of a 19th century political agitator. “extremist” has varied meanings. Sometimes it just means ‘someone whose political views I dislike’, but it also has a meaning of “I’d call this guy a terrorist but then his pals might hack my head off”.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I thought extremists were those on the extreme ends of the flat-Earth political spectrum.

      In a round-Earth political world, as in a circle or a sphere, there is no end, and you have to go east or into the Democratic party to reach west (i.e. find conservatives).

  3. dearieme

    ‘during the struggle the officer’s weapon was unholstered’ is a somewhat disconcerting statement to find in an autopsy, but the lack of moral agency isn’t. How the devil could an autopsy reveal how a gun came to be out of a holster?

    1. Benedict@Large

      More importantly, why would an autopsy even mention how a gun can to be in play? What about examining a corpse would indicate that?

      You see, this is critical. One of the (two) major holes in Wilson’s story is exactly that: How and when did the gun become involved? The fact that it’s mentioned here seems an attempt to insert into Wilson’s story what he missed inserting at all, and inserting it at a much later date after the hole became obvious.

      In fact, Wilson’s story is that Brown went for the gun, yet the story changes here to imply this was after the melee started. Which begs the question; if the melee didn’t start when Brown went for the gun, when did it start, and over what? Wilson’s story simply doesn’t stick together over how the whole thing started, and there even now seem to be two different versions of this. Why can’t Wilson say how it started?

      Here’s the thing that Wilson is hiding. He pulled the gun BEFORE the melee started, and with no good (i.e., acceptable) reason. In fact, it was probably his pulling the gun, an act that made Brown fear for his life, that started the conflict. And Wilson knows that if he admits this, he does time.

  4. EmilianoZ

    Counterpunch is having a fundraiser and in 15 days they have collected $53,050 from 645 donors, which is considerably less than what NC accrued in about the same time:


    Wow. And I thought Counterpunch was the more established, more widely read site. And they have some rich dude matching the contributions.

          1. Anon

            He’s hanging in there, but desperately needs help. He made a blog entry today – maybe we can all pitch in to lift him up.

  5. DJG

    Poor Gloria Steinem. Like a lot of people these days, she’s not going to end well. You’d think that people would retire the countryside–or something less mediated. I’ll never forget the Talk of the Town in the New Yorker in which she expressed pity for rich white women who lack agency, in spite of all that money, don’t you know. I had to read the squib twice to make sure that she wasn’t completely crazy.

        1. craazyboy

          OMG, you must have a photographic memory if you’re able to dredge up Kato. Means he should pass background vetting.

          President Camacho – hahahhahaha

        2. skippy

          Jamie Dimon all ready has the cuff links, Blythe Masters for VP.

          skippy… Camelot all over again…. dreamy sigh…

  6. ChrisPacific

    The ACA review article isn’t horrible and it does ask some useful questions (have health care outcomes improved and have costs declined?) albeit in very watered-down form. It does however conflate “slowdown in healthcare spending” with “slowdown in the growth of healthcare spending” in several places, which is a pretty egregious error.

    I would be interested to know how many employers are taking advantage of ACA to opt out of providing health insurance to employees without a commensurate increase in compensation to offset it (and whether the popular metrics on year-over-year wage growth take this kind of thing into account). Of course it’s possible that trend was already underway independent of ACA. I guess I’ll have to wait for another article to examine that question.

  7. Jeff W

    “Protesters halt plans for electronic vote on continuing occupation”

    Actually, Benny Tai kept saying (and the questions given in the LA Times indicate) that the poll was not about continuing the occupation, which raises the question of just what it was about.

    The answer to the first question, concerning the withdrawal of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee August 31 decision, was pretty much a given, since it was that decision that precipitated the protests; the answer to the second, about abolishing the functional constituencies and allowing for direct nomination of the Chief Executive, are longstanding demands of the democracy movement. Either answer—yes or no—would lead to difficult-to-interpret results on what the protesters should do next. You don’t want to go around asking poll questions where the answers raises more questions.

    Maybe more interestingly, the protesters weren’t the only ones to backtrack. Xinhua yanked its editorial critical of Hong Kong’s plutocrats, “HK tycoons reluctant to take side [sic] amid Occupy turmoil” (in yesterday’s Links but still found at different sites such as here), after it had been online for almost 12 hours. (It was replaced by another article that said that business leaders and tycoons were opposed to Occupy.) The pro-Beijing Hong Kong Standard tried to figure the whole thing out, saying that “The official explanation was that it was a mistake, the work of a ‘nut’ reporter” and wrapped up with “Whatever the reasons, the message was clear: the game rules have changed – even for tycoons” but it’s not clear just how.


    I beg to quibble with the F ‘ ville PD quoted in the NW AR Solidarity piece. Unarmed guy in a bank drive thru attempting robbery shot multiple times. Another young disabled man walking along a highway. Cops have some image of a fugitive on the brain ( reasonable cause? ) murder the kid because…he was unable to respond to being yelled at with a rifle pointed at him in the way the shooter expected. Goes without saying no discipline meted out in either case, if memory serves. Both a few years back. BTW, the insanely punitive court fines infrastructure is doing just fine locally thanks very much.

  9. MikeNY

    I would consider it an early Christmas present if Kentucky made turtle soup out of the Minority Leader…

  10. TulsaTime

    I am keeping my hopes on the back burner for the Senate until the bitter end. The depth of depravity on display by candidates and incumbents on the thuglican side has been nothing short of legendary. It must have penetrated into the ranks of former moderates, but it will only show in the aftermath.

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