2:00PM Water Cooler 12/16/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Jebbie “actively exploring” Presidential run [WaPo], he announces on [Facebook]. So, a Clinton/Bush dynastic conflict in 2016. Please kill me now.

“Scorning today’s Republican Party is, by contrast, the core of Jeb’s political identity” [Buzzfeed]. Let’s be fair: Gaming the voter rolls in Florida 2000 was innovative and foundational, and Republicans everywhere owe Jebbie thanks for that.

Chris Rock: Bush operated like a cable guy (“only served the people who voted for him”) while Obama is “a network guy. He’s trying to get everybody” [New York Times].

Axelrod: Warren trying to muscle Hillary Clinton on policy [Politico]. Since Clinton hasn’t defined herself…

Weiss supporters circulate letters on his qualifications [Politico]. In response:


Police third-most trusted American instititution, after the military and small business [Gallup].

“[L]isten to the defenders of the police in these latest cases… do you really want to live in the world they are promoting?” [Talking Points Memo].

Ferguson Commission meets on the court system, which functions like a “debtor’s prison” (says one participant) in the St Louis area [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. Recommendations could come as soon as January. I could be foily, but I’d watch for something on charters.

Ferguson meeting broken up into small groups to avoid “outbursts” [KMOV]. In my experience, never a good sign.

Investigation still active for Ferguson arsonists [CBS].

Ferguson and Occupy compared and contrasted [In These Times].

The sort of headine you don’t like to see: ” Ferguson police officer settles teen’s hogtie lawsuit” [Kansas City Star]. In the teen’s own driveway, while he was collecting his mail.


Federal involvement in killing of 43 confirmed; Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam had specifically denied it [Latin Times]. Follow up to yesterday’s report from Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program. The official story begins to collapse [Telesur].

Ayotzinapa parents call for Guerrero government to be dissolved [Telesur].
German G36 assault rifles in the hands of police in Guerrero, violating stipulation by German regulatory agency [Yucata Times]. If gangs supplied the guns to the police via the black market, that “would indicate more than a ‘deep integration’ between the two: that the gang actually ran the police force.”

Austrian forensic experts need at least two months to identify the victims in the Ayotzinapa massacre of 43 students, but some of the remains will not be identifiable [Reuters].

Torture Report

Rove and Cheney throw Bush under the bus [Cenk Uigyur (YouTube)]. Just read his memoirs!

“51% of the public says they think the CIA methods were justified, compared with just 29% who say they were not justified” [Pew]. A remarkably low figure, considering the Goebbelsian pervasiveness and intensity of pro-torture propaganda post-9/11.

“The Humane Interrogation Technique That Actually Works” [The Atlantic], unlike torture. What the elite’s immediate embrace of torture shows is that “the American establishment is riddled with sadism and depravity” [Boing Boing]. But then you knew that. Torture at one end of the spectrum, austerity at the other.

The true heroes are those who said torture was wrong, refused to participate, and tried to stop it [The Nation]. And if Obama had a custodial relationship with his conscience, he’d be praising them, not ignoring them.

The torture report lets senior officials off the hook, increasing the likelihood future torture [Politico]. Elite impunity rules!

Hong Kong

Air pollution increases as traffic returns to Occupied areas [Hong Wrong].

The winners: Hong Kong and mainland governments, which waited Occupy out and made no concessions [Asian Correspondent].

Deflation Watch

Mervyn King: “If households in China, Europe and Japan feel there are reasons to save any windfalls they receive, the global demand boost will be severely restricted” [FT, “Winners and losers of oil price plunge”]. Not the United States?

Stats Watch

Housing starts, November 2014: “[A] flat trajectory,” down 7% year-on-year [Bloomberg].

Redbook, week of December 13, 2014: Hannakuh gives sales bump, but “Redbook’s month-to-month tally so far points to weakness for December, at minus 1.2 percent” [Bloomberg].

Climate Change

Cod are voting with their fins to leave the Gulf of Maine, which is warming faster than almost any ocean waters on earth [New York Times]. But bass are moving in!

Species are disappearing, but how quickly? A graphic status report of life on Earth; handy charts [Nature].’

News of the Wired

  • Fred Hiatt’s editorial page: Always wrong about everything [The National Interest].
  • Study: Feeling like a winner changes what you think is fair [HBR]. As opposed to being a winner.
  • New study shows ebola worst case scenario avoided, if rapid, vigorous contact tracing and quarantines are employed [New York Times]. “[F]or every 100 known cases, there are 120 actual ones, rather than 350 as in the earlier estimates.
  • “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction” [Boing Boing].
  • Six stages of a capital crisis: This winter Russia enters #4 [Medium]. #6 is IMF rescue. Er….
  • The history of the Paris commune [The New Yorker].
  • Michel Foucault, closet neo-liberal [Jacobin].
  • Amazon’s war against hyphens [Graeme Reynolds].

* * *

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 (TC):



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. afisher

    Torture Report: Read : The Black Banners – by Ali Soufan. He was an FBI agent who has the linguistic skills and knowledge on how to interview people in the Middle East with astounding success – and why he resigned from the FBI. Yes, it was because of the CIA and their process.

    The more I read that Americans are willing to accept torture, the less I am proud to be a citizen of the US.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Why do you give credence to / “fall for” such defeatist, ‘blame the victim’ MSM propaganda?

      See my earlier comment, and note that Lambert makes this point point when he writes: “A remarkably low figure, considering the Goebbelsian pervasiveness and intensity of pro-torture propaganda post-9/11.”


      Maybe we will have to starting teaching propaganda in colleges. A joint project of the media and politics departments? (why does that seem unlikely to me?)

      H O P

      1. ambrit

        We do teach propaganda in our universities.
        The first time I saw the entire “Triumph of the Will,” it was in a 16mm format in a classroom. The department showing it was the Business Department, as part of an advertising class. It was shown to demonstrate how to do advertising right. I was one of a large group of drop ins that day, there to see that film. It wasn’t pure pornography, but had pornographies allure.

        1. Jackrabbit

          There appears to be a reflex (even here at NC) to blame stoopid, selfish Americans rather than ‘call out’ propaganda. Thus, I wonder if people can recognize what propaganda is and how effective it is.

          It seems likely that this “poll” was designed to blunt the impact of outrage over the government’s decision to not hold anyone accountable. People at NC expressed outrage just a day or two before, but now flawed “poll” comes out and its everyone is so ready to blame ‘the people’?!?!?

          People don’t have low opinions of government for no reason. They don’t have an aversion to war for no reason (they remember how we were lied to). They are not completely dumb or ignorant of their self-interest. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that they are lied to and misled and to accept that we must be vigilant against more of that?

          1. ambrit

            I blame a good part of it on the Ultra Rights hijacking of the ‘Rugged Individualist” theme. I will date that hijacking to at least the reprehensible Ayn Rands use of the concept in her philosophical screeds disguised as novels. (I’ll freely admit that many ‘thought leaders’ use this method, both Left and Right.)
            An example of a non uberman rugged individualist you ask? How about the movie “Shane.”
            As for popular denial about governmental misdirection etc.; most people, I’d say, don’t want to admit that their Tin Gods are made of Clay. To do so would require them to do some hard work in reevaluating their self images. Few people want to admit that they have been fools, much less do anything about it.

        2. Sierra7

          To ambrit:
          Re:propaganda in universities…….
          Read Church Commission Report circa 1970’s about how CIA had already infiltrated so many of our major learning institutions, corporations, etc.

          1. ambrit

            Thanks for that heads up. Now that my subconscious has had some time to work on it, I do remember what feels like early fishing expeditions in my High School by Spook types. In either tenth or eleventh grade, some of us were pulled aside and asked to take some tests that now look suspiciously like psychological evaluations. These tests were on the order of, given a story putting forward an anti establishment view, what was our reaction to the idea. If my memory serves me right, my story was about a loner who learns to fly small planes and bombs the Pentagon as a “gesture.” What did I think about this fictitious person and his motives was my question. The ‘test’ was administered by an older teacher who I remember was always impeccably dressed and very conservative in his views. The other tester was an older woman who worked in the School Library. I thought there was something odd about all this even then. Several people I knew in the Wargamer community were also tested. (Yes, Nerds come in all sorts and varieties. I used to have a subscription to Strategy and Tactics magazine. A new tabletop game every other month or so. We were young and hopeful.)

        1. jrs

          I think they do a pretty poor job even of caring about them and theirs if they can’t even protect their pensions or prevent their money being used to bail our derivatives, which seems to me a potentially bottomless sinkhole that could bankrupt us all. Even if they don’t have pensions, Gen X, Gen Y, millennials of course don’t have pensions, it’s still what’s supporting their parents etc.. They can’t EVEN take care of them and theirs.

          By the way was this killing covered:

          A man carrying a 3-4 inch knife (a 3-4 inch blade is a tiny blade) was shot with up to 10 shots by cops, the sound of gunshots terrifying nearby tourists and motorists. It seems the clearest case of police overreaction there is, but it hasn’t seem to have gotten much traction, maybe because it’s not racial. It was a white guy, probably homeless, almost certainly mentally ill, but who isn’t mentally ill in Hollywood?

          1. James

            Here’s some more footage of the local Abq NM gestapo in action last spring. Pretty ballsy bunch. Multiple officers, assault rifles, vests, dogs, and god knows what else. These f***ers are just stone cold killers. Charges? Are you kidding? A DOJ Investigation and increased training measures. WILD, WILD, WEST MFers!


        2. Doug Terpstra

          I’m torn on this somewhat. To what extent are Good Germans Americans reponsible for the evil done in their names? Are they really responsible for what goes on at Treblinka Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Gitmo, when the Bush and Obama regimes and the corporate presstitutes have so studiously covered it all up and censored the documents? Some approval of torture is a result of fearful blindness, some willful blindness, and some plain moral depravity, but also some is innocent ignorance. Americans are the most propagandized population on earth, and one has to make an active effort to stay informed in spite of the MSM.

          I’m not ready to blame all Americans for being so tragically misinformed when they are being so actively and deliberately disinformed. Those doing so will wish they’d been drowned by millstone rather than face their just desserts.

          1. James

            Then again, a lot of the Good Germans said the same thing. Not sure how large their ignorant underclasses were relative to ours, but can’t imagine they were all that much different. Not sure I’m willing to forgive the propagandizing either. Most of the people I know seem a little too willing to lap the Amerika Uber Alles swill up. Not like it’s not pretty transparent if you bother to think critically at all.

            1. juliania

              I don’t know about the Germans, but the American public has officially registered their disapproval of government in the most recent election –

              “. . .The 34 percent Election Day turnout, the lowest in 72 years, registered in large part the mass dissatisfaction with the policies of the twin parties of capitalism, who spent a combined and record total of $4 billion in efforts to turn out their supporters. The stunning election returns confirmed a number of national polls indicating that Congress’ approval ratings a few months before the elections had sunk to near all-time lows, at 14 percent or less. An earlier poll put they figure at 8 percent!” [Unmasking the Hype of Capitalist Economies: Jeff Mackler]

              That’s a poll I believe in.

            2. ambrit

              Which leads us into the general question: How many people capable of critical thinking do you know? I know my wife, some professors at the University, a Jesuit trained Priest, our children and one son in law. The density of critical thinkers as a percentage of ones’ circle of friends and acquaintances would be interesting to find out for the NC crowd.

              1. James

                That’s a good question, and one I ask when I confront my midwestern cornshucker relatives. When they say something particularly stupid, which, depending on the subject, is nearly every time they open their mouth, I always probe them on how they came to make such a statement. And mind you, my relatives aren’t stupid at all for the most part. More like provincial, intellectually lazy, fearful and pissed off, and living within an echo chamber of other like minded people which reinforces both. Which, once again, doesn’t excuse any of it. But like it or not, the ‘Walmart people’ probably make up a growing majority of the US, so we probably at some point need to figure out how to influence their thinking for the better, which unfortunately, I definitely don’t see happening anytime soon.

                1. ambrit

                  When events force a major increase in even the Walmart level of prices of basic goods, then we’ll have an opportunity. Be prepared.

          2. Crazy Horse

            A few years back I was delivery skipper taking a large yacht from New England down to the Caribbean for the season. On my pick-up crew were three very successful individuals– a high powered New York lawyer, the CFO of a development company, and a commercial property sales agent who had all known each other since prep school. And happened to be Jewish. I didn’t make myself popular by pointing out that Germans had been the most educated and intellectual nation in Europe prior to participating in the Final Solution, and arguing that based upon their history, Americans were fully capable of the same actions.

            Our willingness to look the other way from barbaric torture, assassination by remote control drones, and fund perpetual warfare that serves only to enrich the Corporate Warfare State tells me that I’m being proved correct.

            1. James

              Good points, especially the equating of torture and drone strikes. Both are carried out “out of sight, out of mind,” and only revealed to its citizenry sponsors afterward in the most general, unobjectionable terms. So here’s a semi-facetious proposal: how about we give the green light to both PROVIDED that the government entity performing it record it in the most graphic and nearly live terms possible and post it on the internet for all to see?

              In the end, our “willingness to look the other way” stems in a large part from our ability to simply never have to look at all.

              1. ambrit

                In the Long Ago, crowds of people would congregate to watch public executions. Conrad said it best; The fascination of the abomination.
                The Heart of Darkness is one of those works which should be re-read every few years. There is so much in it appropriate to today.

      2. hunkerdown

        Colleges? You elitist. Why not teach critical thinking to eight-year-olds, and round up every Texan on any board of education anywhere, for some “reeducation” of their own?

        1. jrs

          I don’t know if 8 year olds brains are that developed yet. High school students OTOH, good idea, what are the chances it will ever happen?

          1. hunkerdown

            Well, how old were *you* when you first were presented with the question, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” I mean, you probably don’t want to tell eight-year-olds that most adults are fearful, lying sacks of pigeon dung, and probably even less so to a sixteen-year-old who just got car keys, but most likely they figured it out years before in either case and are just playing to conventional wisdom because it keeps them warm and fed.

      3. danb

        I begin my Social Problems course with an in-depth presentation on propaganda; and in my Principles of Soc. course I cover it under socialization.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Maybe I should’ve added the /snark tag to my ‘teach about propaganda’ remark. Um . . . I KNOW that there propaganda is taught in some classes at college, everyone. I’m just dismayed that so many smart people seem to fall for it (still).

          As I wrote above: people are not completely stoopid or insensitive. They distrust government for a reason. Its a simple matter of cause and effect. Many seem more outraged by the behavior of a heavily propagandized population than the propaganda (and other devices) that keeps them subdued.

          1. hunkerdown

            That’s a most astute observation. It is terribly frustrating to try to impart understanding to people whose salary and class identity depend on not understanding, a term which fairly describes most sellers in the labor market — victim-blaming is an all-too-easy resort when there’s nowhere else to push yet the situation calls for an urgent need to push *something*. It’s not as if the MSM, the elites or any other perps or accomplices are going to come clean when their most likely next step up the ladder would be as “unseasonable lamp-post ornaments” as one commenter recently put it. In fact, they don’t have to, and would be much better off not to, acknowledge dissent when the view outside the mainstream citizen’s window can be explained away within the strivey-wivey master narrative.

          2. Carla

            Look, there is just too much information coming at us now–good information, bad information, evil information, misinformation, imagination, satire…from the Blogosphere, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TV, radio, email, texts, not to even mention local gossip. It’s more than a full-time job to sort it all out, no matter how damned smart you are. I suggest to my fellow NC commenters that a touch of humility might serve us well. Haven’t you ever believed something that later turned out to be a lie (or in other words, just stinking propaganda)? I have.

            1. James

              So Americans are given a pass for approving the GWOT because media? Sorry. Not buying it. ‘Muricans need to grow the f*** up!

          3. James

            Well, but that’s the point. Propaganda, if it’s worthy of the name, is first and foremost insidious. People, including me, often equate propaganda with marketing, which it increasingly is. But that’s only because marketing is itself morphing into propaganda. Truly effective propaganda pretty much equates to a cultural paradigm, and often on the most basest of levels. It becomes the lens through which you view the world, it becomes the very air you breath. The Amerika Uber Alles, “9-11 justifies anything” viewpoint. Everything we see happening now in Amerika – EVERYTHING! – follows from that one single justification and its subsequent embellishment into the American propaganda firmament:

            (Christian) America, through absolutely no fault of its own, was violated by alien (Muslim) terrorists on that fateful September morn, and the world will NEVER be the same. And further, any and every means necessary, no matter how objectionable, to combat that existential evil is heretofore completely justified. The people who did this to us and any who might support them in any way whatsoever are simply subhuman enemies who have no rights whatsoever.

            I think people (academics!) who discount the primal potency of this message entirely miss the propaganda value of the 9-11 event itself, and thus, if you’re inclined to believe at all that there were those within the US power elite who recognized this fact and had the means to act on it (as I am), also miss the tremendous motivation that those same people had to bring it about in the first place.

            First and foremost, the 9-11 event, no matter who you believe carried it out, turns on means, opportunity, and motivation. And on that basis alone, my first suspect – by such a large margin that there really is no second place – would only focus on names, interests, and corporations, within the US/Israeli cabal that’s continues to benefit from it.

            And I’m sorry for that rather ham-handed segue into a tangential topic, but I thought it naturally followed.

    2. jrs

      Equally disturbing if one was to take the poll seriously would be that most Americans don’t even think they should know the information. So they release an extremely redacted torture report that finally gets released even though Obama tries to block it, even though the CIA is spying on the Senate trying to prevent it’s release, which is the CIAs attempt at open coup no less, and people are like “we shouldn’t even know this little bit! AHHH, omg that we know anything that our government is doing! It should do everything without us ever knowing anything! AHHH, we can’t handle the truth!” And what about that open attempted CIA coup via undermining the Senate? Maybe they ought to poll about that.

      If the polls are to be believed. Although I suspect most people are more disgusted by people in their more immediate circles.

  2. Anon

    Re: NYTimes Chris Rock comment

    I wonder why Obama didn’t realize that the Republicans were never going to work with him much, much sooner. It’s more prudent to not work with people who are determined to see you fail from the outset. Had he only taken the bully pulpit or had simply been “black FDR”, things might be a tiny bit better. Lesson learned, right?

    1. different clue

      Chris Rock’s mistaken impression of Obama as trying to “work with everybody” is well-described in that Black Agenda Report article called something like Black People, Obama, and the Delusion Zone. But I can’t find it. The closest I could find is this: http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/living-black-fantasy-obama-delirium-effect

      The NYTimes columnist is either stupid or lying. Obama has conspired with the Republicans and the Upper Class from the start of his Presidency. His Administration has been enTIREly successful in terms of achieving those things for which Obama expects to be handsomely rewarded after leaving office. The bailout for Big Insura, making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent, permanentizing and routinifying BushAdmin innovations such as widespread torture, etc.

      1. Carolinian

        No offense to Chris Rock fans but really who cares what he thinks about anything other than his comedy. I noticed that Frank Rich was asking him serious political questions as well.

        1. Grizziz

          Rock’s on a movie promo tour, hence his thinking filters through media questioning. I understand that it is a discursive film about the lack of seriousness Rock’s comedy is afforded. Rock is serious even if you are laughing or not caring.

        2. hunkerdown

          Would you have said the same thing about George Carlin, out of curiosity? Bill Hicks? Joe Rogan? Beppe Grillo?

        3. different clue

          Chris Rock is a professional comedian. I am a professional pharmacy technician. Those are our professions . . . how we make our livings.
          I would assume that Chris Rock is an amateur observer of the political / economic scene. I am also an amateur observer of such. We are equally citizens and layfolk in that sense. His opinion on political/economic matters could be as, less, or better informed than my own. I am in no real position to tell.

          I was merely noting the sad fact that Rock has been as suckered by Obama as has the rest of Black America . . . the most suckered-by-Obama demographic in America today. Voices like Black Agenda Report, Adolphus Reed, etc. are few and lonely.

      2. jrs

        Isn’t it funny how we’re always made to stare at the donut hole (what doesn’t get passed – like a job bill or anything to improve the economy for the 99s – most of which isn’t even proposed) instead of the donut that’s right there in front of us, that is what does get passed. But such a counterintuitive way of thinking can’t just come naturally. Can it?

  3. Garrett Pace

    I knew a guy who was an interrogator in the first Iraq War. He said they’d go in to talk to these guys, and once they were plied with cigarettes they’d give detailed answers to anything.

    The CIA method of today is much more in line with Roman times, where any testimony from a slave in a legal case HAD to be extracted by torture in order to be admissible. It was a pro forma, de rigeuer process that mandated cruel treatment “just in case”.

    My acquaintance also recalled that in training, they were told something like, “It is up to YOU to uphold the Constitution. ‘I was just following orders’ will not keep you out of jail.”

    How times have changed.

    1. sleepy

      In Iraq War no. 1, the prisoners interrogated were most likely Iraq Army soldiers, and were recognized as such by the US, and thus as POWs entitled to certain treaty protections.

      When in later wars prisoners’ status was reduced to enemy combatants it was obvious to many what would be in the works for them–the most inhumane treatment possible. Of course, torture is illegal regardless of a prisoner’s status–pow or enemy combatant but the seeds were consciously sown by the assigned label.

  4. dcblogger

    LuxLeaks accused Antoine Deltour: ‘I did my duty’

    Mr Deltour faces up to five years in prison and a fine of €1.25 million ($1.89 million). He called himself “Mr Everyman” in the interview.

    “I am a citizen,” he said. “I did my duty.”

    The accountant was 22 when he joined PwC Luxembourg’s auditing arm in 2008. He said he became appalled at the tax deals he saw and resigned in 2010. “I did not want to contribute to that,” he said.

    “From the beginning, I acted out of conviction, for my ideas, not to appear in the media. I’m just part of a broader movement,” he told the French newspaper Libération.

    The day before Deltour left PwC, as he was packing up, “I copied training materials, but exploring the PwC ­computer system I also came across the famous tax rulings,” he said.

    “I had no particular intention or specific project, I copied them because I was shocked by their content,” he said.

  5. different clue

    About that poor sad author’s experience with Amazon second-guessing the punctuation of his book . . .

    Lie down with cyberdogs, get up with digifleas.

    He collaborated with the Amazon Conspiracy Against Publishing. Let him take the consequences.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The winners of Hong Kong Occupy: Mainland and HK governments by waiting out.

    During a major battle between the Jin dynasty in the south and northern barbarians, the old-ish Jin prime minster Xie An calmly played Go with his colleagues, before the news came that they had prevailed.

    Looks like the old(er) wizened guys in Beijing won this round while leisurely playing Mahjong in Zhongnanhai. Such was the way of Dao and infinite patience.


  7. JTFaraday

    re: Michel Foucault, closet neo-liberal [Jacobin].

    I started reading this when it started last week and couldn’t figure out why Zamora even thought it was necessary to argue with someone who has been dead for 30 years and who never even did any major work on the welfare state qua welfare state.

    I take it then, that Zamora is probably engaged in a proxy war on a certain kind of intellectual, say those who might be tempted to interrogate historically– not to say “discursively”!!– constituted categories of identity like “the working class” in the first place. What is the significance of the production and reproduction of such an identity? And who does the re/producing? Cui bono?

    In which case, it is probably true that Peter Frase is more of a foucauldian than Zamora. I also think the idea that “the welfare state is a working class institution” would be news to most Americans, who have tended more towards using “the welfare state” as a foil against which to define their “working class” or “middle class” identities, for better or for worse.

    Anyway, in a time when proper leftists so-called, are so eager to tell women and black people to shed their identity politics, efforts like this one to prop up this most historically contingent of modern identities, especially in its frequently counterproductive (not to say culturally and politically toxic) American formulation, can indeed be a little rich.

    No need to think about it or anything like that.

    1. lambert strether

      Whereas the Democrats (and in their own way, the Republicans) are anxious to intensify identity politics. Could there be a reason for that, I wonder?

      1. Greenbacker

        Politics are politics. Like where we switched from Keynesian that we used in 2009-10 to Friedmanism in 2011-2014. Instead of fiscal policy being the accelerator and monetary policy the break, we got Milton’s classic reversal of that. Notice the surge in commodity prices occurred with the Bernanke QE’s. Then we have Americans complaining for 3 years about “inflation” with no obvious benefits.

        Republicans got exactly what they wanted.

      2. JTFaraday

        “intensify identity politics. Could there be a reason for that, I wonder?”

        Keep everyone in their place?

            1. ambrit

              Well, the Oligarchs have returned to the power positions their great grandfathers occupied. Would you agree that they are our New Robber Barons? If yes, why not make the rest of us the New Lumpenproletariat? (Hint: Very few ex middle class families are ending up in the super wealthy cohort.)

      3. hunkerdown

        Didn’t Orwell call for one big union for *everyone* who “fears the sack”? Now there’s an identity politics I could almost get behind.

      4. James

        Identity politics, aka special interest politics. Divide and conquer. The Ds specialize in it, while the Rs at least realize you have to minimize it if you want to win. Rs naturally congeal about their one main goal: to keep what they have! Ds naturally fragment about their assorted and sundry means to achieve their one main goal: to have enough to become an R! In the end, the two party system really does suit we ‘Muricans the best. We’re all essentially Rs or wanna be Rs, whether we know it yet or not. Our beloved capitalism really has defined us in the most basic terms possible: the haves and the have nots. Which one are YOU?

      5. Working Class Nero

        Identity politics is useful to elites because it crowds out dangerous concepts like social class politics.

        You could see this in the Cesar Chavez vs. La Raza struggles in the late 60’s. Chavez was a threat to elite power by attempting to unionize the lowest rung of society. Elite institutions like the Ford Foundation helped defeat him by funding the Identity Politics of La Raza-type organizations. While Chavez wanted to lift all Americans by for example organizing farmworkers and limiting immigration, all these La Raza people cared about were numbers, the poorer the better for capitalizing on the resulting resentment on all sides as living standards dropped and tribal formations were reinforced.

        According to Leroy Chatfield talking about his boss Chavez:

        That’s one of the reasons he is so upset about la raza. The same Mexicans that ten years ago were talking about themselves as Spaniards are coming on real strong these days as Mexicans. Everyone should be proud of what they are, of course, but race is only skin-deep. It’s phony and it comes out of frustration; the la raza people are not secure. They look upon Cesar as their ‘dumb Mexican’ leader; he’s become their saint. But he doesn’t want any part of it. He said to me just the other day, ‘Can’t they understand that that’s just the way Hitler started?’ A few months ago the Ford Foundation funded a la raza group and Cesar really told them off. The foundation liked the outfit’s sense of pride or something, and Cesar tried to explain to them what the origin of the word was, that it’s related to Hitler’s concept.

        The Ford Foundation liked the fact La Raza was divisive and race-based and not linked to social class.

        Some on the right call this “Cultural Marxism” and say it emanates from the Frankfurt School. A closer look at reality would correctly call this “Cultural Capitalism” and see it coming from the Chicago School. For example Milton Friedman was quite open about killing the welfare state with open borders.

          1. Working Class Nero

            I quite agree and if I had implied that Foucault had anything to do with Identity Politics then a firm rebuff would have been in order. But I did no such thing. Instead, if you look closely at the threading, you will see I was simply responding to Lambert’s question about Identity Politics.

            And just for the record I find Foucault quite useful, earlier yesterday, before this post went up, in a kind of coincidence, I ordered “Naissance de la biopolitique : Cours au collège de France (1978-1979)”

    2. Jim

      “Zamora is probably engaged in a proxy war on a certain kind of intellectual…”

      Couldn’t agree more with that sentiment JT.

      I find Foucault quite fascinating and in addition quite courageous

      He spent the last 10 years of his life attempting to return to the individual subject, outside of the mechanisms of power, which he had basically written out of history in “Discipline and Punish” and “The History of Sexuality Volume I.”

      His late ideas on the nature of subjectivity are particularly relevant today when we struggle with the issue of propaganda and its influence on human consciousness as well as whether it is still possible to launch some kind cultural/ethical change based on the possibility of the better governing of ourselves.

      As far as Zamora’s understanding of Foucault’s critique of neo-liberalism, I would argue that a foundation of Foucault’s critique was the idea that neoliberalism did not depend on a fascist State but rather on a State surpervised by the market rather than a market controlled by the State.

      1. direction

        Yes, where’s dinner? chanterelles are still on for Northern California (I should post you the giant one I found in time for Thanksgiving), porcini over, coccoras way over. Where’d this photo come from and when?

  8. DJG

    With regard to torture, Obama is in more than one dilemma of his own making. Anyone who makes it a centerpiece of foreign policy that he and his “team” assassinated an enemy via remote control and then publicize the deed is going to have credibility problems later on, to put it politely. Add the drone strikes, another high-tech assassination program, and you have a president who is running amuck. Like the Chinese authorities, he’ll wait this one out, because those with authoritarian tendencies can always wait out the citizenry.

  9. Primrose Psychopath

    Hmmm….IIRC, under the terms of his contract with Satan, Obama does maintain a custodial relationship with his conscience. But he only gets visitation rights every other weekend. He usually eschews that contact though, in lieu of golf.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    “Investigation still active for Ferguson arsonists”

    Funny how they just never seem to be able to catch those who start getting violent at protests. Perhaps if they started at police headquarters…

  11. Benedict@Large

    Re Ferguson Commission: “I could be folly, but I’d watch for something on charters.”

    The commission has two members from Teach For America, including one of the co-chairs. Where I come from, that called stacking the deck. Ferguson’s problem is apparently that they don’t have charter schools. Bet on it.

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