2:00PM Water Cooler 11/25/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Once again, patient readers, this Water Cooler will be a bit light; I’m really under the weather from some bug.


Witnesses saw Michael Brown attacking–and others saw him giving up [The Atlantic]. Well, goddammit, that’s why we have a trial, with an actual, functioning prosector and a sequestered jury, to sort contradictions like that.

The  next punch would have been fatal (photographs) [The Atlantic].

Headline: “What happened in Ferguson” [WaPo]. Visual of the shooting; despite the headline, it’s Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch‘s scenario.

Explainer of the release grand jury evidence [Times].

“Burn this shit down” [The Intercept].

About a dozen buildings burnt in a riot [Times]. (I’m not understanding the evening announcement, or the role of the National Guard.) Map:


Again, notice the small scale. This is not Watts, or Newark, or Detroit. Though we can keep trying! Interestingly, the damage seems, to a degree, selective; the wine bar wasn’t hit!

DOJ may impose reforms on the Ferguson police [Los Angeles]. When the Ferguson budget is funded in large part by fines from law enforcement?

Grand juries are extremely unlikely to indict police officers [FiveThirtyEight].

“[T]he police can kill for almost any reason with little fear of criminal charges” [Slate].

Ferguson Library stays open, sees “staggering” increase in online donations [Talking Points Memo].

Hong Kong

Occupy Mong Kok clearance begins, but seems to be taking rather a long time [Hong Wrong].

Atmospheric stroll through the Occupy camps by history professor [Los Angeles Review of Books].


Boehner to appoint committee to produce “definitive” Benghazi report [Yahoo]. The crazies are back out of the box. That was fast.

Nobody wants to believe Clinton is as strong a candidate as the polls say she is [Bloomberg].

The Clinton “shadow campaign” giving her a four-year head start [Buzzfeed]. Organizations to watch: Ready for Hillary, Correct the Record, Priorities USA.

Schumer: ObamaCare “wasn’t the change we were hired to make” in 2008 [Bloomberg]. Democrats should have addressed issues aiding the middle class to build confidence among voters.


Emirates CEO Tim Clark: “This aircraft in my opinion was under control, probably until the very end. … [T]here is plenty of information out there, which we need to be far more forthright, transparent and candid about. All the entities involved….” [Sidney Morning Herald (full transcript)]. Interview also includes material on MH17.

MH370 debris should start washing up in Indonesia [Mirror].

Recordings of the first four hours of the flight have not been released. “Neither Malaysia nor Australia seems to wish to make this information public and could be accused of covering up vital information”  [Aviation Business].

Five teams of experts searching for debris cannot agree where to search [WSJ, “Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Hampered by Disagreements”].

Stats Watch

Q3 GDP expansion numbers revised upward to 3.9% from 3.5% [Bloomberg]. I won’t see any of it, so who cares?

Consumer confidence unexpectedly declines [Bloomberg]. Both expectations and present conditions drop.

News of the Wired

  • We might hear from Philae again! [CNN].
  • Donald Stookey, glass chemist [The Economist, “The Joy of Glass”].
  • Why so many Japanese wear face masks [Japan Times]. They’re becoming normalized!

* * *

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 (ginnie nyc):


Poughkeepsie NY, Fall 2013

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. NOTaREALmerican

      Not really “gaming” the system. Some people have higher expectations for themselves and have the confidence to simply ask for more. Who’s going to stop them?

      Surely “they” deserve more than an athlete (they probably think to themselves). And who’s going to convince them otherwise?

  1. James

    Jeez, those photos of precious little Darren Wilson’s terrible injuries really seal the deal! He had EVERY RIGHT to murder that big bad black boy! Wish I’d have seen them earlier! Hope they sent him home with some ointment at least! Or was that just sunburn? Couldn’t really tell for sure.

      1. Propertius

        In my fairly extensive experience, bruises from punches are typically red initially and don’t darken for a day or two. He was hit pretty hard. And, like it or not, relative size does matter. If you had been pounded a couple of times by someone twice your size who decided to return to give you a second helping, I think you (as a reasonable person) would be in fear of death or serious injury. In most jurisdictions, that’s the legal standard for use of lethal force in self-defense. Lest we forget, there’s also supposed to be a presumption of innocence at work here (even for police officers).

        None of this means there aren’t serious problems with racism and corruption in the Ferguson P.D. Its reliance on fines for funding, coupled with how widely its ethnic makeup differs from that of the community, certainly suggest that all is not well there. That has pretty much nothing to do with whether this particular shooting was justified or not.

        1. optimader

          ” I think you (as a reasonable person) would be in fear of death or serious injury. In most jurisdictions, that’s the legal standard for use of lethal force in self-defense”

          So why not let him run away, have lunch and collect him at the hospital when his hand wound in being treated?
          Considering a LEO has mace, a truncheon (and impunity) there is a considerable handicapping system in play.
          Emptying a clip just seems like one hell of an escalation considering the bullets that miss continue downrange. , Personally I always cringe when I hear about these spectacularly overwhelming (and inaccurate) shooting events. I am STILL amazed police shot over 200 rounds 5- 10 minutes in Watertown MA w/o out any collateral damage (other than bullet holes) That would have made Sam Peckinpah blush.

        2. pretzelattack

          lot of “ifs” here. did they in fact darken extensively? are they any pictures? how do we know he was hit pretty hard? how do we know he didn’t initiate the confrontation by driving up to brown and seizing his hand? and if brown did hit him pretty hard, how do we know he did in fact return to give wilson a second helping? several witnesses said that didn’t happen. something pissed wilson off; you could make up several stories about how that happened–that’s why a trial was needed. all the grand jurors needed to find was that there was enough evidence to reasonably believe he might have committed a crime, as i understand it–how does presumption of innocence apply here?

          remember the false information that was leaked–the fractured orbital eye socket for example, using among others the local crime reporter, can’t remember her name at the moment. look at the record of the da, with his strong police bias, the unusual way the grand jury proceeding was conducted, and, more generally, the extremely low percentage of police that are even indicted, let alone convicted, when they shoot an unarmed citizen. there is a general problem yes, but there are also a number of specific problems with this case.

          1. beene

            The only way we are ever to have justice when dealing with the present system is that all encounters must be recorded or any charges by the officers is dismissed, and the office will be charged with assault.

            For at the present time officers murder with almost immunity to charges. The public is then pacified by suit.

  2. Pepsi

    Speaking of Ferguson fines, John Dolan wrote (badly paraphrasing) that cars are a trap to make people in precarious positions poor. You need gas money, you need insurance, you need to keep everything in repair, and if you don’t, cops sense it and you have less money than before, you might even lose your license. Get rid of it as soon as possible.

    1. cwaltz

      Can’t say walking is much better in area where poverty is prevalent. I don’t drive and the harassment from law enforcement here got so bad that I actually took a trip to town mayor and spoke to police chief and finally started saying no when they started asking for my id(as if it needs to be run weekly or something). It’s hardly a large metropolis here but my daily walks were turning into game of 21 questions and delays while the police went on a fishing expedition.

      I do agree with Dolan though on the cost of owning a vehicle. I had my kids wait until they had $7,000 in savings before I told them it would be alright to get a car(budget of half savings). Buying outright used = repairs. Neither one of my two kids got away with less than a grand in repairs their first year and insurance for them is over a grand. That may not seem like much unless you consider that they each made under $20,000. I’d say the initial cost was around 20% of income for son and a little less for daughter(whose already frustrated with her used vehicle and may need to replace it if she gets a job as an apprentice for electricians and needs a more reliable vehicle for travel.)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I can’t imagine why anyone would want to own a car if they can avoid it; the expense is colossal.

        May I ask where you live? I’ve heard of such things happening in LA, where “everybody drives.”

        1. jrs

          If they can avoid it is kind of key. If it severely limits one’s employment prospects (even the ability to job seek itself) not to have a car at what point does it become desirable to have one? Of course there are non job reasons people want cars as well.

        2. cwaltz

          I live in a trailer park in Montgomery County Virginia. I’m right at the border of Blacksburg(home of Virginia Tech) and near Christiansburg(where I actually do most of my walking.) The region is in the Appalachians so we’ve still got a lot of pockets of poverty even though the region is probably more of a success story than most of Appalachia.

          The region really has no reliable public transport. It’s an hour between service stops unless you manage to make an appointment on the Go Anywhere that runs between 7 AM and 5 PM. My kids walked to work which did limit opportunities. Now that my son has a car he was able to pick up one of the better paying entry jobs in the region(service center for Dish). my daughter is hoping to pick up an apprenticeship that will pay her $12 and give her a skill but if she gets it she will need something better than what she has(she’s actually been nice enough to offer to keep the car so her younger brother has it when he joins the work force next year and not have to walk for a year and a half(seems to be the standard amount of time needed for my kids to save the $7000 on minimum wage.)

  3. Carolinian

    Interesting..the case for not voting.

    Repressive regimes, however, cannot steamroll through mid-level and lower-level operatives who fail to execute their orders. If those people fail to obey—or if the people who pump their gas or fix their heating systems stop complying—their rule ends, and quickly.

    So, in real life, a repressive regime isn’t restrained by politics; it’s restrained by disobedience.

    In the end, rulers can go only as far as the obedience of their subjects. If they go too far… if their subjects stop obeying… they’re done.


    Embedded in the practice of politics is a superstition, which is this:

    If we complain enough, and in the right ways, we’ll get what we want without having to take any risks at all.

    In other words, we want to believe that politics provides us an easy way out… that our complaints invoke magic.

    But if we want things to be different, we must act to make them different. Politics shuts that down by making people think that talking is magic and passivity is a virtue.

    So, we have millions of decent and capable people who are more than able to solve their own problems but who never consider acting on their own, because they’re intimidated and because they think that they can get what they want without risk, by talking correctly.


    I have to admit that I didn’t bother to vote in the recent election and therefore four more years of Nikki Haley is all my fault (not really–she crushed her opponent). Still, one does begin to wonder whether all the millions trudging to the polls aren’t merely offering the system some kind of validation.

    1. cwaltz

      I’m not choosing apathy. It’s exactly what the powers that be want. The problem with your scenario is that we already have low voting participation rates(36.3). At what point do you think the tipping point is and exactly how few people need to participate before you think someone will call it “failing to obey?” 20%?

      I personally think calling people at least attempting to cultivate alternatives “magical thinkers” is projection. It positively baffles that doing NOTHING and expecting change is somehow not magical thinking. Letting others make the decisions for you is pretty much status quo(as evidenced by low voter participation) which is exactly what not voting is. It’s not doing something different or rebelling, it’s apathy and laziness. Do I understand it? Sure. Our system is frustrating and hard. Sometimes you want easy and to not be exhausted by how little things seem to change. Do I agree with it? No. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. It’s work and sacrifice. It’s understanding that you have to keep repeating the same thing over and over and over to people for it to sink in and recognizing in the interim you might lose. However, since people died to give me a say and allow my family to choose I feel I owe them to do that work and give my kids that same shot at impacting where they live.

        1. Vatch

          If there are third party candidates, vote for them. If there are only Dems and Reps, or even worse, only Dems or only Reps, well, then I guess there is a case for not voting.

          Many months prior to the election people should find out how they can sign nominating petitions to get third party candidates on the ballot. For reference, here are a couple of web sites:

          Green Party

          Libertarian Party

          1. James

            And round and round we go! The only real option in an illegitimate system that co-opts and delegitimizes parties/candidates as soon as they become viable is to refuse to participate. If this whole Ferguson thing taught me anything, it reinforced that. The next step, unfortunately, will of course involve armed insurrection and a whole lot of bloodshed*, which will happen of its own accord in due time.

            *Note to our NSA guests, I’m not calling for it, merely observing that that’s the course we’re inevitably on, which I expect many of you also know.

      1. Carolinian

        It’s not necessarily my scenario (I rarely skip an election), but still worth discussing. I’d say the trap is the two party trap more than the voting trap. However if one can’t break out of the current system then it does raise the question.

      2. Banger

        I think the point is not to do nothing but resist authority. Voting, in his argument seems to be about voting for the system as well as whatever candidate you favor. So not voting is a form of voting “no.”

        1. neo-realist

          I believe that to TPTB, non-voting comes off for the most part as apathy, helplessness, and ultimately non-existence, while others will vote for the elite spokesmodels that they’ve manufactured consent for. I believe it is better and more resistant to authority to support 3rd party choices. Let them know that people are aware of and favor alternatives in terms of candidates and definitive policy choices to help shift the political/cultural pendulum.

          1. cwaltz

            That’s my point of view as well. It’s frustrating because people will say third parties can’t win and the fact that they throw up their hands and say that the reason they won’t vote for them because they can’t win becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Of course, they can’t win if you aren’t willing to vote for them.

            Personally I’d vote for Mickey Mouse as a write in before not voting. I’m pretty sure that 20% would also be pooh poohed as a vote of no confidence but still mean that the two controlling parties continue with their little oligarchy they’ve got going on.

          2. James

            I doubt very much there’s that much thought put into it.

            Winning elections is all about getting to enact an agenda, pure and simple.

            Losing elections is all about what did we do wrong and how do we get to enact our agenda next time. Analysis is always the purview of the loser. In spite of all the marketing hype, elections are little more than playing to voters fears, which in American society almost always comes down to two things: how can I make more money if I don’t have enough already, or how can I keep what I have if I do?

            The first question appeals to the aspiring one percenters, and the second to the rest of us. Throw in blatant appeals to national or even intra-national security (them damn uppity ghetto blacks and browns!), and why would anyone expect that Americans would differ significantly on policy?

      3. jrs

        It argues that voting isn’t magic. It DOES NOT argue that refusing to vote is magic. What if there is no magic. Then there is no tipping point, unless other actions are taken. Refusing to obey is not refusing to vote, it’s refusing to obey (the very examples given are not voting, civil disobedience would be an example).

        It’s kind of strange that an anti-voting post is still put right back in the frame of voting!!!! Speaks what a mental prison the whole voting thing really is.

      4. jrs

        Btw I interpret risk here as getting the @#$# kicked out of you by the police state. Or risk is what Anonymous engages in when they unmask the Klan or any of their other projects. But really I’m sure it takes all kinds of kinds (ie I don’t expect everyone to do that).

    2. Banger

      I like the idea of voting–it is ritual of sorts for me but I see nothing wrong with not voting either at this point in history. I like the quotes and will check out the article.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think a spoiled ballot is better than not voting. Not voting gets framed immediately in the “apathy” narrative. But spoiled ballots go into the vote count, and so get reported.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Or a nasty, pointed write-in.
        Personally, I think Pigasus (look it up) defeated Hubert Humphrey in 1968 – the first year I could vote. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone did a tally.

        Humphrey is now promoted as a liberal paragon. As such, he’s a perfect example of why liberalism faded away – and what was wrong with it.

  4. Garrett Pace

    I find something supremely unsettling about the media and public’s desire to size up Messers Brown and Wilson, their height, strength, physique etc. as some shortcut to determining whether any physical imbalance warranted eleven bullets as a corrective measure.

    It was the same with the Zimmerman/Martin confrontation.

    While George’s is a case of self-deputization, it makes it seem like law enforcement’s biggest problem is they are too short and don’t hit the weights like they should. If an officer doesn’t find himself the unquestioned master of a scenario, out comes the gun to make up for it. This is not conducive to de-escalation.

    Also, the new American dream: anyone is potentially only one encounter with law enforcement away from having their own wikipedia page.

      1. ambrit

        You really are a Carpetbagger Lambert!
        I have heard the phrases, “young buck”, “buck n—-r”, and plain old “n—-r”, used often here Down South by people of all races, creeds, and political persuasions. The word “n—-r” is used in roughly the same way by blacks and whites here; meaning the black equivalent of “white trash.”
        Now, a white person running down the street in any black part of town yelling, “N—-r, n—-r, n—-r” is going to encounter some severe negative consequences for indulging in such folly. But, as an older black man I know put it, “It may be hypocritical for us to use the word amongst ourselves while castigating you whites for using the same word in the same way, but, that’s human nature for you. Live with it. We have for a long time.”
        The more things change…

    1. James

      I find something supremely unsettling about the media and public’s desire to size up Messers Brown and Wilson, their height, strength, physique etc. as some shortcut to determining whether any physical imbalance warranted eleven bullets as a corrective measure.

      Not sure where you’re going with that, but the short answer is that The Coward Darren Wilson made it germane during his grand jury testimony.

      Also, the new American dream: anyone is potentially only one encounter with law enforcement away from having their own wikipedia page.

      Likewise. I assume you’re just being contemplative. Never thought of it that way myself, although I guess it’s as good an ironic metaphor for our fleeting existence as any other.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I didn’t find the Wilson testimony especially credible in some parts, but even taking it at face value there were clearly some worrying elements. They got off on the wrong foot almost immediately, with Brown clearly assuming that he was being harassed and Wilson doing nothing to dispel that impression (and behaving quite unprofessionally in a few respects even by his own account). I would like to think that it’s coincidental that Wilson concluded that Brown was a probable burglary suspect right at the moment when Brown started mouthing off to him, but it sounds a lot like after the fact rationalization to me. Wilson would also have us believe that he wasn’t angry (and that Brown was) but some of the conversation fragments he quoted make that pretty questionable as well.

      At a minimum I would say it sounds like Wilson didn’t do his job very well. Young males are always at risk of being drawn into a macho pissing contest, and any decent cop ought to be aware of that and of how to handle them without pressing any buttons and escalating the situation. I know a few cops who I would consider good at their job, and they are among the most courteous, polite, unflappable people I’ve ever met. They practically radiate calm. I used to wonder about this, until I thought about the kinds of situations they probably find themselves in on a daily basis, and how much of an asset that kind of a demeanor would be.

  5. Vatch

    I don’t think there were any Green Party candidates in the South Carolina elections, though there were some Libertarians. So you still could have demonstrated your dislike of the two generic parties by voting for third party candidates, even if you didn’t like them. But if all of the candidates were sufficiently repellent to you, I guess I can understand how you feel.

    However, in many other states, there were third party candidates from both the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. Where such diverse options are available, voting does not validate a bad system. It’s a way for people to show their dislike of the bad system.

      1. Carolinian

        I voted Green, rather than for Obama, in the last two Presidential elections. In the recent election all the major offices were practically uncontested in my state. Even Republicans were complaining about this (bad optics).

        1. Oregoncharles

          It would help to know what state that is.
          You can find contact information for all the state Green Parties on the national website, gp.org. No candidates at all indicates they’re comatose. They need help.

    1. cwaltz

      I voted for the libertarian this go round. He’s the same guy who ran for Governor here(and I voted for him then too). I don’t entirely agree with him on everything but he was ideologically consistent and seemed to understand that some regulation was necessary to protect things such as waterways. I had to do my research on him because by nature I have found that libertarians are all about dismantling government rather than making it functional.

  6. abynormal

    GMO labeling update: On the eve of Election Day, Measure 92—Oregon’s ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods—was trailing. But thanks to the support and hard work of all of you, that gap has narrowed to less than 900 votes, triggering an automatic recount, and making it likely the closest statewide election in Oregon history!

    Though opponents were vocal in calling the vote in their favor just a day after the election, supporters on the measure remained positive and vigilant, and worked tirelessly in Oregon—and around the country—to make sure every vote was counted.

    The incredibly narrow race comes despite a $20 million, deceptive campaign from the opposition led by big food and chemical companies. Monsanto donated nearly $5 million, DuPont Pioneer $4.5 million, Dow AgroSciences over a $1.1 million, with Pepsi and Coke, who use sugar and corn genetically engineered to be resistant to herbicides in their products, combining for over $3.5 million. The previous record for spending on an Oregon ballot initiative was $12 million for both sides combined.

    Center for Food Safety, a lead author of Measure 92, supported the Oregon campaign extensively, at the legal, advocacy, and grassroots level and as a member of the Steering Committee. CFS’s political arm, Center for Food Safety Action Fund, raised over $1 million to support Measure 92 and helped mobilize thousands of volunteers in Oregon and across the country.

    Oregon is on the brink of becoming the fourth U.S. state to require GE labeling. Connecticut and Maine each passed GE labeling laws this past spring, but both bills include a trigger clause requiring several other states to also pass labeling bills before the new laws can be implemented. Vermont was the first state to pass a no-strings-attached labeling law, set to go into effect in 2016.

  7. TheraP

    The Punch: How did someone sitting in the driver’s seat manage to get punched on the right side of his face?

    I wonder if he punched himself.

    If high school teachers can manage a room full of teenagers, without the use of force, surely the police can learn to deal with one or two.

    1. Jim S

      How is it that Brown was in a position to get at him? Every cop car on the road these days has a screen between the front and back seats to prevent contact between the officer(s) and the apprehendee.

        1. bob

          If you believe the evidence, at the very least his hand was in the car when it got shot. Under what circumstances? Never explained.

          But, that doesn’t really ‘prove’ anything. It doesn’t match up with what the cop said happened.

          From my reading so far there were two shots fired, followed, a few minutes later by several more.

          2 shots in the car/truck,wait….wait….wait… then the fatal barrage.

          The body being a ways away from the patrol car would seem to indicate that brown was running away in the time between the shots. Did he turn back around? Is that reason to apply the death penalty, on the spot?

          The idea that once a cop shoots someone once, it’s then open season, is trouble. But, it’s a lot easier for the cop. No other witnesses.

          Shoot a guy in the leg, get a mountain of paperwork and some time off. Shoot a guy dead, get the entire DA’s office proving you’re “innocent”.

          Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Except when that gun is attached to a cop, then it’s the fault of who? The spirit of justice takes over and commands the gun to fire.

          I thought no one was nuts anymore? yet, this is exactly the case they put on for the killer. He was effectively insane, and his behavior isn’t his own.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I mean “in the car” in the sense of being seated in the back, with the screen between him and Wilson.

            IIRC, there’s a pool of blood twenty or thirty more feet away from where Brown’s body was spotted. So he ran away, turned around, and came back. As you say, that’s no reason to execute him.

            1. bob

              “sense of being seated in the back”

              There was never any evidence, that I can find, that the officer ever put him in the back of the car. And if he did put him in the back of the car, he would have been handcuffed.

              The blood from the hand shot was found on the steering wheel/drivers seat.

      1. bob

        Complete conjecture- the cop got stopped trying to get out of the car. He was made to look a fool trying to climb down out of his SUV. Brown stopped the car door from opening, and caught wilson between the car and the car door.

        And windows open? That’s gotta be the biggest joke I’ve heard. It was the height of summer. AC blasting. It’s hot outside. Cops NEVER have their windows open anymore, except at the drive through.

        The bit that happened while the officer was still in the car has not been explained, in any reasonable fashion.

        And, even as I presented it, preventing a cop from getting out of his car is not punishable by death. He felt threatened? Stay in the fucking car then, with your gun and radio and cell phone.

        This is street thug shit, both sides. Brown made wilson look like a fool. He ‘dissed him. Making a cop look like a fool, again, is not subject to the immediate imposition of the death penalty.

    2. proximity1

      The (SUV) police car’s driver’s-side window is down–we presume this because, as all the key witnesses attest, Wilson speaks to Brown and Johnson and they answer (variously reported words). So, when the car stops, mere seconds later, unless Wilson had closed it, the window was already open. In that case, Brown, at the driver’s side, could, with Wilson looking straight at him (Brown) to his (Wilson’s) left (out the window) could easily have struck Wison on the right side of his (Wilson’s) face with his (Brown’s) left hand. Nothing particularly unlikely there.

  8. optimader

    “DOJ may impose reforms on the Ferguson police [Los Angeles]. When the Ferguson budget is funded in large part by fines from law enforcement?”

    If there is no indictable offense here, what’s to reform? ..move along.
    Prima facie logical disconnect. If, as brought to light by this event, there is a basis to require DOJ reforms, then presumably aren’t these deficiencies a sufficient basis for an indictment?

    To the good, a Grand Jury is not a trial so no double jeopardy invoked, there is still a basis for indictment if new evidence is presented. It will take a court order to make public the evidence that was presented to the Grand Jury and you can count on it not having not been complete.

    I think the next two moves are
    1.) a suit to make public the evidence presented to the Grand Jury;
    2.) a suit to have the DA removed from office.

    Anyone shot and killed deserves a day in court when the shooter is identified. Let facts see the light of day.

        1. optimader


          I was thinking in terms of the case file against a DA in Texas that was in the news. Not the same details of course, but it was basically a citizen filing suit for removal of a DA for misconduct.
          I would say an argument based on incompetence as a minimum would be a reasonable argument..
          Visiting Judge David Peeples made several rulings Tuesday in a lawsuit to remove Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg from office, including allowing another removal petition filed recently by a former district attorney candidate to proceed.

          Rick Reed, who ran against Lehmberg in 2008, filed a petition two weeks ago that claims 16 counts of official misconduct ranging from coercion of a public servant to retaliation.

          That and a separate petition to remove her from office on grounds of intoxication were filed under a state law that allows the removal of a district attorney on grounds of incompetency, official misconduct and intoxication on or off duty

        2. optimader

          In the case of the Grand Jury info, I heard on FRANCE 24 news that something like 5,00 pages of documentation have been released.
          No doubt there are a few rocks that need to be flipped over.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What I’m saying, perhaps too tersely, is that the City of Ferguson has a financial incentive for its police to treat its (black) citizens like a captive population subject to random extortion: Taxes and court fees form a large part of Ferguson’s budget. So making the police better or more polite doesn’t change that dynamic in any way, and that’s a big part of the problem.

      1. optimader

        Agreed on that point, Ferguson has apparently monetized preying on the weakest in the community. What I find cynical is the DOJ giving lipservice to “imposing reforms” while the POTUS is simultaneously puking his rhetorical noise about the legal system working, nothing for you folks to see here as if he is lecturing his daughters.

        Obama is an empty vessel. What I do find disappointing is seemingly how few leaders in the black community are connecting the dots back to Obama and Holder –calling them on the insincerely sincere platitudes.

        1. lambert strether

          I believr (too lazy to find the link) that Wilson went to the hospital only after talking to his lawyer.

          1. Greg

            I recall Wilson was incommunicado for quite some time after the event. I imagine the forces were being rallied.

  9. lyman alpha blob

    The authorities and the media spent a lot of money looking forward to a riot and they made damn sure they got one!

    Even watching events unfold live it’s difficult to tell what was really happening on the ground without actually being there but a lot of things seemed very fishy. Everything was pretty calm at first and then came the footage of a few guys throwing rocks and trying to upend a police car. There were hundreds of law enforcement in the area and yet somehow a police cruiser was left unattended with no cops close enough to respond. From what I could tell this cruiser was pretty close to the police station. And of course the first to get violent were the usual suspects, the ‘anarchist’ types wearing bandanas to hide their faces who always manage to start the violence at protests and never seem to get caught. Funny how we never find out who these guys are and awfully convenient for anyone who might be looking for a riot to take the attention off a gross miscarriage of justice. And the vehicle that gets whacked is a crappy white sedan, not one of the real expensive military grade ones. Cops probably had it in the budget for a new cruiser already.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Next incident of property damage was the cruiser being set on fire. Media reported that the foire station was just a few blocks, maybe half a mile from the police station and yet with all that police presence there not one fire truck could come out to put out the damn fire?!?! Why, that might cause people to turn the channel so let it burn! Maybe I missed it, but I find it hard to believe that with all the surveillance going on nobody knows who started the fires.

      Once the violence got started I’m sure there were locals who joined in to some extent but it’s far from clear to me that they were the ones who started it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, “Burn this shit down” comes from Mike Brown’s step-father, and not exactly what the Brown family had called for. So, from this armchair, oopsie.

      But it looks to me like if that hadn’t been the spark, there would have been some other spark:

      The time-line is awfully sketchy:

      1) The night-time announcement, for no reason I have even seen explained;

      2) The prime time night-time announcement, almost guaranteeing the split-screen images that actually did happen during Obama’s speech;

      3) The National Guard wasn’t used to protect Ferguson property, as one would expect;

      4) If you listened to the anchors (as I unfortunately had to, in the run-up to McCullough’s announcement) they were salivating for violence. They were so ready for it. Just like the whole bizarre episodes in Ukraine and Syraqistan over the summer; they were determined to have their war.

      5) Check out the map. Overwhelming military force, and they can’t protect a Walgreens? WTF? Not only that, the burning is concentrated, it’s not spread along either corridor.

      The whole thing feels like stacking up the tinder, to me. Very, very ugly.

      UPDATE Here’s one more.

      6) Al Sharpton was Obama’s Johnny-on-the-spot in Ferguson:

      “I’ve known Al since he was 12 years old, and he’s arrived at the level he always wanted to arrive at, which is gratifying,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a colleague and sometimes rival, told me. “He’s the man who’s the liaison to the White House, he’s the one who’s talking to the Justice Department.”

      So it was good to see Sharpton out there calming the crowd last night. Oh, wait… (And you can be sure that if Obama had wanted him to be there, he would have been.)

      1. bob

        Great excuse to torch your own building and collect the fire insurance. Got a mortgage? Got a riot? Problem solved.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          No evidence for that, Bob. Moreover, a lot of the buildings were chains. Somehow, I don’t see the night manager of Little Caesar’s setting the place on fire to the home office could cash in.[1]

          [1] I can totally see Walmart engineering that, but this is Little Caesar’s.

          1. bob

            Think it through a little more. First, little ceasars probably didn’t “own” the building.

            What do you think is happening to property values in that area? Going down, hard. Lots of underwater mortgages, all of a sudden.

            “No evidence for that, Bob” that’s the point. In the middle of a melee, there isn’t any ‘evidence’ of anything. The police and fire aren’t investigating, they are on triage duty.

            Assuming someone is throwing molotov cocktails, how do you know who they are or what they are trying to accomplish with the fire? Protestors? Hoodulms? Insurance fraud? Agent provocateur? They don’t wear name tags, and don’t get caught.

            Never let a good crisis go to waste!

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              You’re saying somebody from the Little Caeser’s head office torched the place? That’s reaching. If you want to go through the images of burning buildings and find clues that sort of arson, have at it.

              1. bob

                “You’re saying somebody from the Little Caeser’s head office torched the place?”

                No, you said that.

                What about a riot don’t you get?

                Me finding evidence? There isn’t any, as I’ve said. That’s the point. It’s a great environment to do whatever the hell you want and not get caught, blaming it all on “protestors”.

                Most of the time it’s a local outfit that owns the property, as a reit or similar set up. Little ceasears rents, or leases, based on car count and BUSINESS revenue.

                How much has BUSINESS fallen off? Those boards aren’t good for business, and a physical building is valued on the amount of business it can generate, and has generated in the recent past.

                I can’t prove it, no. But you also can’t prove it’s not happening. I can guarantee that this thought occurred to a lot of people in that area with ownership of property. They can’t sell it now, but they can get an insurance settlement for what it used to be worth.

                Going forward, how much do you think retail space in ferguson is going to be worth?

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  Shorter Bob: Some random people threw molotov cocktails for unknown reasons.

                  Pointless to continue.

                  Adding: Little Caesar’s is a chain. I don’t know who collects on the insurance. The manager? The franchise owner? The franchisee, that is, the “head office”? But, nobody knows anything so anything could have happened. Waste of bits.

                  1. ambrit

                    Not really a wasted idea sir. Usually, the ‘franchisee’ holds all the financial risk. One would have to see that particular outlets’ financial statement to see if it was declining in profitability enough to ‘justify’ a little Lightning. On the other hand, Ferguson looks like the perfect place for a cut rate fast food outlet. Even poor people will take out food if they feel they can afford it. Roughly, if you can’t afford Little Caesars, you are living on food stamps.
                    The bulk of the fire damage is most likely concentrated in areas where the Forces bottled up the main masses of protestors. Someone made a decision to ‘sacrifice’ a part of Ferguson for the greater ‘good’ of the community. Kettling on a grand tactical scale.

                  2. bob

                    Waste of bits…blow me.
                    Who has more to gain if a building goes up in flames? the building owner, who has insurance, or some wacko with a grudge walking the streets.

                    Were all of the fires “vandalism”? No. Were all of the fires “arson for profit”? No.

                    But I bet there were a few people who owned buildings that were insured for more than they were worth and the owners took advantage of the chaos.

                    That’s all I’m saying, and all I said.

                    Little ceasers being a chain has nothing to do with anything. You do realize that MOST retail store fronts are NOT owned by the business running out of them, don’t you?

          2. optimader

            I don’t see any motivation for a franchisee to burn down their landlords building and jeopardize their ability to make a living and recover their franchise investment? makes no sense.

            On the other hand there might be more than a few tired cars w/ predatory 60month payment plans that were retired?

            1. bob

              What about the motivation of the LANDLORD? The actual owner of the building. Cash in now for fire insurance value, or let it ride, hoping ferguson becomes the new Manhattan?

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Agreed – very sketchy indeed. I was watching MSNBC and there anchors seemed to be licking their chops for things to get ugly. They started talking about things getting out of hand at one point, I believe before any fires had started, yet on the other side of the screen it was just a bunch of people milling around. Again without being there it’s hard to know exactly what was happening but they sure seemed to want something to start. When the ‘anarchist’ types started in on the cruiser even then there weren’t that many – there were way more camera operators filming the damage than those performing it.

        Cops didn’t even try to stop any of it from what I could tell. Supposedly all the gunshots going off made it too dangerous to respond to fires but I find that explanation EXTREMELY dubious. I

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yeah, I saw the twitter from the St Louis PD on automatic fire, and shortly thereafter Lambert Field was closed to incoming flights. Then the whole story went away.

          Violence is photogenic! So we get a self-reinforcing cycle.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    The media and various authorities spent a lot of money in anticipation of a good old fashioned riot and they were not going to be denied by a bunch of people trying to be peaceful!

    More to say but my comments keep getting eaten.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes thank you. The last three of four comments I tried to post over a couple weeks never appeared at all and based on other things I’d read about comments, I thought I might have got myself categorized as a spammer so I tried an experiment with the 2nd comment. Not sure if it worked but my comments are showing up again.

  11. steviefinn

    Beautiful antidote – Here in Northern Ireland we don’t get a ‘ Fall ‘ -we get what might be best described as a ‘Splatt ‘ & autumn is definitely a word too beautiful to describe what is usually on offer.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Roger Lowenstein of Fortune gives private equity a nasty thumping:

    The whole idea of “alternative” investments, touted by consultants who need a way to dress up their product, is a myth. Every investment is either a bet on a capital asset to appreciate, or on a public or private entity to earn income. What’s “alternative” is the packaging — the way some investment vehicles are structured.

    Since no public market for private equity stakes exists, annual performance is simply an estimate. Not surprisingly, estimates are not as volatile as stock market prices. But the underlying assets are equivalent. A cable system or a supermarket chain does not become more volatile by virtue of its form of ownership.

    The fact that reported private equity results are less volatile pleases fund managers. But the juice in private equity comes from its enormous leverage. Pension managers would be more honest if they simply borrowed money and bet on the S&P—and they would avoid the fees.


    1. MikeNY

      Largely true about the leverage. There is an immediate increase in the total enterprise value of the LBO’d firm due to the tax-deductability of interest. Aka, “the PV of the tax-shield”. It can sometimes be up to 20 pct of the TEV of the LBO’d firm. You may be able to replicate that effect by leveraging SPOOs, not sure, but it’s probably a LOT more dangerous with nasty mark-to-market risk…

  13. Lambert Strether Post author

    White people rioting over stupid shit. Plenty of flames, too. (That said, I take issue with the headline. Let’s practice our intersectionality: It’s really “White male people…” rioting, “Young white male people….” and in most case “Young white male college students…” (just to introduce class into the equation, though with a weak proxy. So while I like the snarky putdown of the moral panic we’re undergoing, it’s better to be clear….)).

    1. bob

      “just to introduce class into the equation”

      This is horseshit. ” intersectionality” is, at its heart, a framework for trying to get rid of, or mitigate any honest discussion of class. It worked in your example. “lets bring class in now….”

      It could only come out of an upper-class based debate. “Let’s just set aside class, for the moment, I want to prove my victim hood!”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I see intersectionality as a data structure, as literally the intersection between sets (as constructed by set membership functions*). I don’t care about its polemic origins. As you say, anything that works against an honest discussion of class is horseshit.

        OTOH, my father put horseshit on the roses, and that worked very well.

        NOTE * Studenthood is a weak function, hence a poor proxy.

        1. ambrit

          I hope he composted the horse s— first! I tried that with cow s— one year and browned off my wifes’ favourite rose bush. Boy was she mad!

      2. jrs

        Or intersectionality is even if one is poor as dirt, there’s a good chance that will one will be treated worse as a minority than otherwise. Maybe intersectionality describes treatment WITHIN a class.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Still working on it. I think intersectionality (in my meaning) goes all the way to the individual, and their simultaneous membership in multiple classes.* I don’t know if that’s how the original article (which is really interesting) meant it. If anyone knows better, please educate me. (For me, it’s all about the set membership functions, working for wages being one extremely not fuzzy, easy-to-determine category that oddly, or not, is rarely discussed.)

          NOTE * By which I mean sets. Heck, maybe the new math was good for something after all. That might be a fun riff.

    2. craazyman

      some of those pics are beautiful essays in color, gesture light and shadow

      sadlly, these could be staged hoaxes produced by artists. There is evidence that rasises suspicion.

      The careful analyst will note i the Lexington Kentucky pic there is a black dude. He seems to be the ringleader or at the very least a main instigator, or if not, he’s got his hands on a car that seems to be in the process of being overturned. Certainly he’s a violet man. I mean a violent man. he might be the guy who played Jordi in Star trek next generation. I do’t think he was blind in real life.

      some of those you could frame on a gallery wall and people would be like “Whoa, these are awesome!’ That’s the way things work. First thiings happen and then they become entertainment or art. It”s sometimes hard to tell which is which..

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I always thought the Boston Tea Party was the closest to nonviolent actions the Sons of Liberty, an incredibly white outfit*, ever tried, but we do need to bring back tarring and feathering for bad government actors.

      *The one time physical violence wasn’t being used was when they were dressed as Indians.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Lawrence O’Donnell demolishes testimony from Witness #10 – the ONLY witness that fully corroberated Officer Wilson’s account *AND* the ONLY witness cited by the Prosecutor Robert McCulloch when he announced the vertict. saying:

      – Wtiness 10 would NOT have withstood cross examination
      – Witness 10 changed his/her testimony


      I don’t watch MSNBC much because it has been sooooo in the tank for the D-rats but there weren’t many channels covering the protests. I was pleasantly surprised that:

      a) Rachael Maddow denounced Obama’s foreign policy (after a segment speculating on Hagel’s successor) as one that doesn’t take into account the opinions of Americans; AND

      b) Lawrence O’Donnell attacked witness #10 and the faux “process” – which to me means egg on the face of Obama.

      Obama had (just today!) denounced Ferguson protestors for the destruction of a few buildings and cars (a result which almost seems to have been setup to occur by releasing the info last at night – and which PALE in comparison to the injustice felt by people across the nation).

      As I noted (above) an earlier MSNBC guest had said that the Ferguson jury had indicted American democracy – and in THAT context, Lawrence O’Donnell’s remarks seemed to be a denunciation of what is evidently Obama’s DEEPLY FELT CONSTERNATION at the anger/violence that erupted in Ferguson. Lets not forget that Obama had said just the day before that we have to “ACCEPT” that this was a decision for the grand jury (first 40 sec.) DESPITE THE FLAWED PROCESS which is highlighted by O’Donnell’s description of the prosecutor’s focus on the questionable testimony of witness #10.

      H O P

  14. cripes

    Or, as my afro-american bank vice-president brother in law so eloquently put it, in reference to NYPD stop-n-frisking of 700,000 young black-latino men every year: ‘that’s not because of racism, it’s because they’re lower socio-economic background.”

    There, problem solved. We’re all in this upper class solidarity together! Thanks, goldman sachs fluffer.

    1. cwaltz

      No offense but your brother in law has a point. I live in a predominantly white region and I had to go down to the mayor’s office and give a brief lesson on civil rights and Terry laws after having problems with the local law enforcement. Then there’s the joy of having your trailer park used as a training ground for swat(complete with flash bangs being lobbed in trailers.)

      Don’t get me wrong I believe in racism. Unfortunately I do believe that race is used as a wedge between poor AA and poor white folks though. I think we’re better served to look at the problem in a color blind manner.

  15. cripes

    I’m sure he’s worked out that the whole Ferguson thing is the fault of those low-class types, too. You know, their being so violent and all. And how Obama is somehow the hero .
    Maybe Bill Cosby can chime in with some home-spun wisdom on “responsibility.”

  16. andyb

    Regarding MH370 (also MH17), the US has the most sophisticated satellite surveillance on a global scale; there’s no way the US Govt does not have knowledge about the location of MH370 and the circumstances surrounding the MH17 disaster. It’s interesting to note that eyewitness accounts of 2 fishermen who saw, on the day of disappearance, a jumbo jet where it wasn’t supposed to be, on a course to Diego Garcia (a major US military base), have been suppressed in the MSM. It’s also interesting that the ATC recordings for both flights have not been made public.

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