2:00PM Water Cooler 11/24/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Once again, patient readers, these Monday links will be a bit light; I stayed up too late writing about Ferguson.


1:50PM: Grand jury reaches decision, but we don’t know what it is. Press conference planned [WaPo]. Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch “said” to plan to hold presser at 4 or 7PM [Bloomberg].

Alternative scenarios for Darren Wilson’s fate [CNN].

Londrelle Hall and Ray Mills run 350 miles to reach Ferguson [NBC].

Youth delegation on Chicago Police violence to report back from United Nations Convention Against Torture in Geneva [Chicagoist]. (Fergusonians went too.)

Police reporter Christine Byers, on maternity leave from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, still manages to spread disinformation via the twitter [Storify].

So this accounts for Wilson’s silence: He got married [NBC]. Doesn’t explain why he never showed up in court for testimony in his own felony cases, though.


Uruguayan President retracts claim that Mexico is a “failed state” [Telesur].

Don’t expect an Aztec Spring [Al Jazeera]. Yes, I imagine the DEA would do everything possible to prevent that. No more self-licking ice cream cone.

Hong Kong

Occupy Central’s umbrella land: Lennon Wall, urban farm, study corner, workshop to build students desks (!) [HK Magazine]. I love this stuff because I think its prefigurative.

Occupy Central live cam and updates [Hong Wrong].


Does Hillary Clinton [pause to claw out eyeballs] have that “new car smell”? [WaPo]. Obama, despite his fulsome praise, did Clinton no favors by propagating that meme.
Ready for Hilary, but why? [WaPo].

Warren leads Democracy for America poll; Sanders is second [CNN]. Would be nice to see a little preening on Landrieu, pour encourager les autres, but no.

The “deep” Republican field [New York Times]. Make up your own jokes.

Hagel resigns “under pressure” [New York Times]. And with a bandaid on his cheek [Twitter]. Senior official: “He wasn’t up to the job”  [NBC]. Which is ISIS, apparently. So that’s alright. I thought it was that he couldn’t launch a working website on time, or sumpin. Hagel’s side: Fed up with “micromanagement” [CBS]. But perhaps the campaign apparatus doesn’t want a Republican at DOD in a presidential year, and now is the time to clean house.

How much a public leader’s personal and sexual conduct should matter [The Atlantic].

Teachout: “[T]he job [of a politician] right now is to be a very, very, very good sycophant” [HuffPo]. Another fine interview.


Cuomo’s turnout worst of any governor, and worse than New York Congressional candidates [Capital New York]. Cuomo blames “inevitability” and national “sour mood.” So, Hillary?

Personnel move could signal start of fracking [No Fracking Way].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Former Mossad chief: For the first time, I fear for the future of Zionism” [Haaretz]. Looks like a trial ballooon, to me.

Symposium: Who is at fault in the Ukraine? [Foreign Affairs].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

DOJ found “widespread use” of informal requests for phone records by the FBI, e.g. face-to-face and on post-it notes in “exigent letter” probe [New York Times]. Look, let’s be realistic. If we want these guys to be able to look at nude pictures, we need to cut out the red tape!

Stats Watch

Dallas Manufacturing Survey, November 2014: Output grows, but at a slower pace. Capacity and new orders down; work week and net hiring up [Bloomberg].

PMI Services flash, November 2014: Growth in incoming orders down, but backlog strong, and confidence and employment growth high [Bloomberg].

Rapture Index: Up 1 on Israel [Rapture Index]. (For those unfamiliar, the higher the Index, the more likely the End Times.

Class Warfare

Central banks distort global economy. Film at 11 [Bloomberg].

Higher executive compensation correllates with higher executive compensation. And pay consultants [Economist].

News of the Wired

  • The science of charisma and how you can apply it [The Week].
  • The science of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and turbulence [Open Culture]. OK, a TED talk, but not too smarmy.
  • Exploding, excrement-filled cesspit topples Chinese building [Guardian]. It can’t happen here.
  • “Despite Negative Stereotype,” [read: relentless neo-liberal propaganda] “Americans Love U.S. Postal Services” [WonkWire]. Good. Now let me do my banking there!
  • The “National Equity Dividend” [WaPo].
  • Understanding the Russian obsession with mayonnaise [Guardian].
  • Michigan Court: State must provide an education, period. Quality does not enter in [Michigan Citizen].
  • Prosecutor does time for convicting an innocent [HuffPo].
  • Rolling Stone UVa followup: Other women come forward [Rolling Stone].
  • Sumarti Ningsih murder: From Indonesia to Hong Kong [BBC].

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:


Well, plant matter… I could use more fall and wintry plants!

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. jgordon

    “No more self-licking ice cream cone.”

    On the other hand in a failing empire at some point the periphery starts spinning out of the empire’s control. The empire’s recent failed initiatives in the Ukraine and in Syria (though admittedly Syria is still being pursued) may be seen as harbingers that bode well for the Aztecs.

    1. Nathanael

      Yep. The periphery of the American Empire is already spinning out of control. The US has no control over South America whatsoever. The US has no control over anything in Africa or Asia, despite a lot of blundering.

      It’s going to take a while for the trend to work its way all the way back to Mexico, though. The US seems to still have the ability to run coups in Central America. It’s quite possible the center of the Empire, the US, will undergo revolution first — that happens sometimes.

  2. dearieme

    “The nation of Israel is galloping blindly in a time tunnel to the age of Bar Kochba and his war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was several centuries of national existence in the Land of Israel followed by 2,000 years of exile.” Eh? What is that second sentence saying? How does several centuries plus 2000 years add up to 1900 years since Bar Kochba? Has something been mistranslated?

    1. ambrit

      The Second Temple was destroyed by Titus’ legions in 70 AD. The second millennial anniversary of that is well within a single lifetime span from now. Can the End Times people be expecting a Second Millenium Return? More to the point, are they building up to ‘facilitating’ such an apocalyptic event?
      The author of that summation has his or her history wrong. Bar Kochba revolted against the Romans in 132 AD, over 50 years after the destruction of the Temple. His revolt only lasted for three or four years, and then was brutally crushed by Hadrians’ legions. The several centuries of existence for Judea and earlier Israel all occurred before the revolt of 132. If this piece is representative of current Eretz Yisrael apologists, much less the Judaea and Samaria crowd, then the delusional thinking is much worse than anyone has heretofore thought. Indeed, it is perfectly attuned to the thinking of religious zealots.

      1. psychohistorian

        I consider the last 4 words of your comment “…thinking of religions zealots.” to be an oxymoron.

        Maybe there was thinking involved by the first zealot to create the myth but all other zealots have been following and not thinking ever since…..lemming zealots.

        1. ambrit

          Yes psychohistorian, I’m pondering what you’re pondering.
          However, where Israel is concerned, we have to take into account the “Samson Option.” Essentially, religious zealots have nuclear weapons. That can bring on the Second Coming, or if you’re a Jewish millennialist, known as Zealots no less, the First Coming of the Messiah.
          See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samson_Option
          There are too many examples of non thinking triumphing over rational thinking in history to enumerate here.

    2. rfdawn

      The result of that conflict was [that the previous] several centuries of national existence in the Land of Israel [were then] followed by 2,000 years of exile.

    1. sleepy

      meant as a reply to dearieme.

      Lately my replies seem to get posted to other places than the poster I am replying to.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        Warren has been consistent in her slavish devotion to Israelo-fascism. I imagine her belief in the divine mission of the Chosen People to build a thousand year empire in Palestine is more heartfelt than her dedication to the American citizenry.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          Humor me, what is Israelo-fascism? Nothing fancy or highly theoretical, just what is it you are talking about?

  3. sleepy

    Re: Russians love their mayonnaise

    Being a southerner I love me my mayonnaise too. Down south we slather it on hotdogs, corned beef sandwiches, you name it. Went to the famous Katz’s deli in NYC one time and ordered it on my pastrami.

    Though sometimes southerners get accused of being stricken with chronic mayonnaise poisoning, I greatly prefer it to the “salad dressing” dreck favored up north here in Iowa.

  4. Brindle

    re: Zephyr Teachout @Huffpo

    I’d say not so “quasi”, good to hear Teachout using the F-word ( feudal).

    —“Part of the reason that I’m such a trustbuster is that [Justice Louis] Brandeis said that you can have concentrated wealth or you can have a democracy, but you can’t have both. As a structural matter, we have given permission for this radically concentrated wealth that’s then used in a whole variety of ways. Some of which might be truly benevolent. A lot of which is questionable, like the advocacy groups that you’re talking about. So you’d have to give me a particular instance, but if we’re going to look at the system that allows it, you see this growing rise of quasi-feudal powers within what should be a capitalist democratic system.—“

  5. ES&S

    When the anonymous sources talk about Hagel’s failure or his unsuitability, it’s important to understand what he got hired to do. Remember that Hagel got into the Senate by stealing his own election with his own AIS® voting machines. Then, after a probationary period as a Senate figurehead, he got moved up to the big time, stealing other countries’ elections. That is harder. Hagel tried and tried to install US puppet Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai but he couldn’t steal the election fair and square. Now they don’t need a ballot stuffer anymore, they need a death-squad commandante again, so now Hagel is shit through a goose.

  6. Vatch

    There’s the Rapture Index, and that weird quote about Bar Kochba by the Mossad guy. I’m ready for a little variety in the world’s millennialism; has anyone seen any appearances of Maitreya recently?

  7. Bridget

    I believe I heard the prosecutor say that Michael Brown left a 25′ trail of blood. Since he was not shot in the back, per 3 autopsies, he must have travelled that distance while facing Wilson. So the meme that he stopped, turned around, and put up his hands in surrender is not accurate.

    The grand jury proceedings have been secret, so most of the evidence has not been made available. That is as it should be, particularly in the highly charged environment of this case. Nevertheless, the media has done a great disservice to the residents of Ferguson and to this country by ignoring the entirety of the evidence that was available to them in favor of sensationalizing this tragedy.

    I am torn about the decision to release the grand jury evidence. On the one hand, it’s a good thing for the public to better understand the physical evidence and the testimony given by witnesses under oath and out of the media spotlight. On the other hand, I fear for the witnesses and the jurors, should their identities be revealed.

    1. Vatch

      Why on Earth did Darren Wilson have to shoot Michael Brown so many times? Even if Mr. Brown kept approaching Officer Wilson (and I’m very skeptical about that) after being shot once, he would have been far less dangerous. Officer Wilson would have had numerous non-lethal methods of defense after Mr. Brown had been weakened by the first shot.

      Assuming the first shot was justified (and it’s very easy to doubt that it was), why were there subsequent gun shots? It’s like the Nagasaki bombing; the Hiroshima bombing may have been justified, but did Nagasaki really have to be bombed only three days later?

  8. pretzelattack

    from emmett till (and countless others before him) to michael brown to the 12 year gunned down on ohio, an unbroken line.

      1. Nathanael

        This is only the beginning. I was talking to someone who knew his civil rights history a few years ago, and he said Occupy was analagous to CORE in the 1950s, not to anything in the 1960s.

        The struggle against brutal autocratic bigoted police is just starting. It’s going to take a decade or more. But it’s becoming a movement, and it’s going to be unstoppable.

  9. neo-realist

    Leave it to Obama to be the mealy mouth centrist. We’re a nation of laws—but he doesn’t use them to prosecute criminal bankers. If he’s serious about Americans addressing problems between communities and police departments and working to fix a broken system, he should jump start the process and call for a DOJ investigation of the Ferguson Police Department’s conduct, possibly leading to a Federal Monitor.

  10. abynormal

    in the words of the late le Carre:

    “i’m going to hold the Nuremberg Trials Part Two. i’m going to get all the arms dealers and the sh!t scientists, and all the smooth salesmen who push the crazies one step further than they thought of going, because it’s good for business, and the the lying politicians and the lawyers and the accountants and bankers, and i’m going to put them in the dock to answer for their lives. and you know what they’ll say? ‘if we hadn’t done it someone else would have.’ and you know what i’ll say? i’ll say, ‘Oh, I see. And if you hadn’t raped the girl some other fellow would have raped her. And that’s your justification for rape. Noted’ THEN I’D NAPALM THE LOT OF THEM. FIZZ”

      1. abynormal

        Vatch, i thought he died earlier this year…ive got him confused w/someone. appreciate the correction cause it means…more to come!

        have you read this article? http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/14/spies-influence-john-le-carre

        And the trouble is, sometimes, they’re right. So the safest thing for your uninitiated politician is to say three bags full, and congratulate himself that he’s been admitted to the magic circle, which these days is a very wide one indeed, covering corporations, newspaper moguls, foreign editors, lawyers, doctors and the whole range of candlestick-makers. In the District of Columbia alone, I read somewhere, almost a million non-governmental souls are cleared for top-secret material. One day we’ll all either be cleared citizens or unpersons, but until then: be afraid, and go on being afraid till they tell you to stop

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