2:00PM Water Cooler 12/23/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

New York Soft Coup

“Hating police brutality and respecting the police are not contradictory impulses” [New York Times].

“To follow Lynch’s argument to its logical conclusion, communities that have felt the brunt of abusive police tactics must not object, lest their demonstrations incite criminals or the deranged to attack police” [Los Angeles]. Yes, and?

“De Blasio was correct to stand up for the overwhelming majority of protesters who exercised their constitutionally protected right to free speech [WaPo].

“De Blasio’s softer criminalization of the movement – his patronizing ‘why don’t you all just stay home’ – puts demonstrators at further risk” [Counterpunch].

DeBlasio: “Let’s see them through the funerals; then debate can begin again” [Politico]. The problem is that this sends a message that police lives matter in a way that black lives do not, which is precisely the point at issue to begin with.

Bratton: “Can you point out to me one mayor that has not been battling with the police unions in the last 50 years?” [Bloomberg]. The problem is that that police union leader Lynch wants to control his own deployments. DeBlasi can’t compromise on that, or else he might as well address Lynch as “Sir.”

On Monday, DeBlasio and Bratton emphasized the hundreds of millions of dollars the mayor had directed toward the department in recent months [New York Times]. No guns, no cars, walk the beat. That would be cheapest of all. It might even work!

Long explainer that trails off at the end: “Lasting change, it seems, will have to come from municipalities and states that are willing to examine what the protection of their citizens really entails” [New York Review of Books]. I expect better of the Upper West Side.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Atmospheric piece on Ferguson with good detail on the organizers and activists [New York Review of Books].

Cop fired for trying to stop another cop from choking a suspect [RTV6].

No charges for ex-Milwaukee police officer in shooting death of Dontre Hamilton [WaPo].

Police misconduct claims — including lawsuits against police for using the kind of excessive force that killed Garner – up 214 percent since 2000; payouts up 75 percent [Reuters].

Baltimore Fox affiliate edits footage from “we won’t stop, we can’t stop, ’til killer cops are in cell blocks” to “we won’t stop, we can’t stop, so kill a cop” [Talking Points Memo]. Classy! Also shows the importance of streamers.

Graphic: “Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014” [Gawker].

Herd on the Street

Goldman Sachs sees $1 trillion of “zombie Investments” stranded in oil fields, looking at 400 of the world’s largest new oil and gas fields, and excluding US shale [Bloomberg]. Hope none of that’s collateralized….

Prisoner’s dilemma in the oil fields: Who’ll stop pumping first? [Wall Street Journal].

Stats Watch

GDP, Q3 2014: Revised sharply higher to plus 5.0 percent (!) [Bloomberg].

Personal Income and Outlays, November 2014: Up 0.4 percent, spending in durables [Bloomberg]. “Anemic, particularly when the distribution of income gains is factored in” [Mosler].

Redbook, week of December 20, 2014: Surge in holiday spending [Bloomberg].

Durable goods orders, November 2014: Dipped 0.7 percent. Expectations 3.1 percent up [Bloomberg].

New home sales, November 2014: Below expectations [Bloomberg].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

How Brennan’s CIA spied on Congress and got away with it [The Atlantic]. Obama’s choice, a Republican holdover, continually promoted.


Rand Paul throws his turtleneck into the ring [Twitter].

No Jebbie sightings in New Hampshire [McClatchy].


Explainer on Ayotzinapa, the 43 disappeared students and “the narrative” in Mexico [Latin Correspondent].

Local police in the city of San Fernando in northern Mexico were involved in the 2011 massacres of 193 mainly Central American migrants whose burnt bodies were found in mass graves [ABC]. Similar modus operandi.

Piecing together the details of the disappearance of the 43 [NPR]. Atypically good for NPR.

“Mexico’s ruling caste is seriously and systematically compromised by shady dealings” [Bloomberg]. Irony alert!

Imperial Collapse Watch

Only 15 percent of active-duty service members approve of Mr. Obama’s job as commander-in-chief. Partly from poor pay, partly from losing two wars [Yahoo News].

A new mall hasn’t been built in America since 2006 [Vice].

Torture Report

Psychological effects of torture persist for “years and years” [AP].

Senate report makes no reference to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners who were “rendered” [Slate].

NSA torture lawyer Robert Deitz teaches ethics class at George Washington University [The Intercept].

Lawrence Wilkerson: U.S. tortured prisoners to produce false intel that built the case for war [Democracy Now]. Wait, what? That’s what torture is good for?

Class Warfare

Peter Thiel plans to live to be 120 [Bloomberg]. I always knew that when Rahm’s brother Zeke came out in favor of dying at 75, it was all about bending the cost curve and only applied to little people.

News of the Wired

  • “Cards Against Humanity” doles out pieces of Maine island [Bangor Daily News].
  • Photos: Kowloon walled city [CNN].
  • The hottest political words by month [WaPo].
  • Obama hires tar sands lobbyist as Senate liaison [Wall Street Journal]. Ethics waiver required.
  • Ceiling collapses under the weight of 2,000 pairs of women’s lingerie one Guangxi man stole and hid [Shanghaist].
  • Porn lowers the marriage rate [WaPo]. I’d say demand destruction lowers it more.
  • Natural ice sculptures in Slovenia [CNN].
  • Spray-on liquid glass has a hundred household uses [Phys.org].
  • Ridding all of New Zealand of its mammalian predators [New Yorker]. Well, except for one.

* * *

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 (craazyman):


Readers, naughty and/or nice, I’m still feeling more than a little angst over fuel, now that the heating season in Maine is upon me, so any help you can give will be appreciated! Thanks to you, I am now half a tank ahead. I would like to be a full tank ahead!

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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. Llewelyn Moss

      New Haven Police Officer David Hartman, NHPD Media Liaison, said
      “And we wonder now: how many of those who protest the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown are also going to protest the death of these innocent, caring, dedicated officers?”

      YES! YES! I’m ALL FOR Denying Mentally Ill from purchasing guns. And a lot of other idiotic gun sales practices too. I can’t wait to hear the NHPD’s statement AGAINST gun sales. Or perhaps is NHPD not quite THAT concerned with the officers deaths.

      source: http://wnpr.org/post/changing-safety-protocols-new-haven-police-after-fatal-new-york-shootings

      1. different clue

        Well . . . let’s see how much money SONY or its cutouts give to Obama in the years after he is out of office.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        A brilliant marketing gambit for a lame comedy: get the POTUS to make an international incident out of the hacking of a Hollywood studio and the release of slightly embarrassing celeb emails, all with the same evidence as the MH17 shootdown … zip. A big national security issue, maybe even just cause for military action, according to a senile Arizona senator. Paging Inspector Clouseau! What a juicy Christmas box office for Sony (and maybe residuals for Obama).

        1. psychohistorian

          What torture report?

          Mission Accomplished! Remember, if you control the narrative you control the faith breathers that don’t/can’t be responsible for their own lives so march in lockstep to the “higher order”.

          What is the next new shiny thing going to be?

  1. Larry

    I don’t buy the “No new malls since 2006” story. It’s just that what a mall is has changed. Take for instance what the owner of the New England Patriots has constructed around his team:


    It’s very much like the Malls I’m familiar with of yore. Sure, the retail players have changed, but it’s a grouping of stores within walking distance of each other. Food and entertainment are sprinkled in.

    Or how about what has become of one of Polaroid’s old buildings?


    It’s not the old indoor mall, but in Massachusetts at least, new shopping centers are being built at a fairly brisk pace.

    1. yenwoda

      I agree. Sticking with the MA theme, Market St. in Lynnfield comes to mind as well – a dense, mostly connected shopping center, just not under one roof.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Legacy place in dedham, ma is new too, i believe. Was massachusetts lacking in retail space or something?

  2. Jackrabbit

    The problem is that this sends a message that police lives matter in a way that black lives do not”

    Yes, but I think its best to frame the issue in a more inclusive way. From my earlier comment:

    The Mayor and NYPD are insulting the memory of these two police officers by using their deaths to stifle peaceful protests that have been very effective[, peaceful] and inclusive. The manner in which the Mayor made his “call” is more of a challenge to the protestors then a reaching out to them. He says we should all unite but offers that unity only via uplifting police when the main point of protestors has been that the police are held in too high esteem – so high that they are above the law.


    Adding (again): IMO, the protestors can not simply cease protesting. They must reply to the Mayor’s slanderous posturing. If they do that well, they can reinforce and expand on their message by highlighting the connection between bad policing and craven politics.

    H O P

  3. Jackrabbit

    Senate report makes no reference to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners who were “rendered”
    – Slate
    This article didn’t mention whether the practice continues or was discontinued. AFAIK, Obama said he ended CIA torture – but did not make the same claim about rendering.

    H O P

    1. DJG

      Why do you think Obama wanted to stifle the report? Drones and rendering and our friends the Saudis… Also, extraordinary rendition started under Bill Clinton, so there are Bill and Hill to protect.

  4. Anon

    Re: No new malls

    The link you have redirects to the TPM article with the video edit. To that end, except for once or twice this year, I haven’t really had a need to step into a mall.

  5. Kim Kaufman

    “Piecing together the details of the disappearance of the 43 [NPR]. Atypically good for NPR.”

    No corporate sponsors to offend.

  6. NOTaREALmerican

    The cop/black thing is a no-win perpetual battle that’s part of the no-win perpetual battle of the Red and Blue Team. It’s been going on for how many generations now?

    It’s pretty amazing to see both sides fight about the wrong words when your own political OCD no long means anything.

    Oh well, just how our brains work.

  7. Paul Tioxon

    All of those good Catholic NYC Cops should know that protesters hate the sin, not the sinners and that all cops have not committed the sin they are protesting.

    1. Carla

      Thanks for this. Since the linked article is from Feb. 2010, I wondered if there was anything more recent. Looked around and so far, haven’t been able to find anything newer.

      1. jo6pac

        Sad, I wonder if their might be more to this but it seems to be secret. This would be a Great Product but do the over lords want that.?

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Mr. Clean will take care of this, quietly as is his way. Too many big people stand to loose way too much for this technology to go anywhere near the public.

  8. DJG

    Peter Thiel, isn’t he just an anagram for Carly Fiorina? Like so many postmodern robber barons, though, he has mainly changed the distribution system enough to milk it for money. It isn’t as if PayPal is a revolution (except in his and Carly’s mind).

  9. DJG

    Given that Smithsonian Magazine’s editorial stance tends to be somewhere between vanilla pudding and red-jello mold, I was surprised at the moral force of this article:
    The Radical Paradox of Martin Luther King’s Devotion to Nonviolence

    Biographer Taylor Branch makes a timely argument about civil right leader’s true legacy

    By Ron Rosenbaum
    Smithsonian Magazine

    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-weve-forgotten-about-martin-luther-king-devotion-nonviolence-180953639/#OrbLDuSFUw2Etvyy.99

    Note nonviolence as a tactic and end in itself. Note the requirement that we must place race in the foreground (which is why there is so much white backlash right now). Note the end, the ennoblement of Michael Schwerner.

  10. dearieme

    “Only 15 percent of active-duty service members approve of Mr. Obama’s job as commander-in-chief. Partly from poor pay, partly from losing two wars.” My opinion of O is pretty low, but it was W who lost those two wars. All O did was extend them a bit, and then recognise the loss. Mind you, extending them when they were already lost was a wicked thing to do.

  11. abynormal

    A man stands on the corner holding a sign
    People yell at him as they drive by
    I wonder what they read, made them so upset
    I looked at the sign and all it said:

    One word: Peace
    In the Neighborhood, Peace
    One Word: Peace
    In my own backyard, Peace

    A man in a foreign land kneels to pray
    And wonders where the bombs will fall today
    Our leaders tell me to fear him you see
    Love conquers all is what I believe

    One word: Peace
    In the neighborhood, Peace
    One word: Peace
    In My Own backyard, Peace

    Everybody’s talking about it
    Everybody’s got to have their say
    But to achieve it, there is only one way
    And it starts with me and the word and the word is:

    In the neighborhood, Peace
    One word: Peace
    In My Own backyard, Peace

    Farewell Joe Cocker

  12. OIFVet

    Chicago police union chief blasts protesters, politicians, preachers for incendiary rhetoric: “We are held to a higher standard when we put on our uniforms and enter those patrol cars.” Actually, you are not held to a higher standard. You get the benefit of the doubt when you murder unarmed civilians, you had the infamous torturer detective Burge as a member, and most of you are corn fed fat a$$es who couldn’t run from here to there without filing a phony disability claim. Enough already, this stopped being cute about five minutes after the St. Louis police union tried to get those Rams players punished for exercising their constitutional right to protest your criminal organized crime family’s killings of unarmed people. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, but that requires you to have a conscience…

    1. Howard Beale IV

      Agreed. This is also where I disagree that non-violence will win the day-our very founding rested on violence against the Crown. And now that technology allows for deployment of all sorts of asymmetric warfare to be heaped against line officers, it doesn’t take much to start down the same road that is is currently happening in the Middle East and import the same tactics here in the US-after all, what do our already totally disenfranchised citizens have to lose?

    2. jrs

      Even the incendiary rhetoric claim is garbage of course. I mean ok there probably was incendiary rhetoric on the part of some of the protestors (oh why do I not believe that 100% until I’ve confirmed it with my own ears) but “blood on de Blasio’s hands”, that has to be quite as incendiary.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Yup, the badge and uniform are a much lower standard, a license to kill, whether policeman or soldier.

  13. Howard Beale IV

    Your Dietz link…doesn’t go to where you think it goes to.
    Instead of going to the Intercept’s article, it goes to….uh….
    “Ceiling caves in under the weight of 2,000 pairs of women’s lingerie one Guangxi man stole and hid away.”

    1. psychohistorian

      People that believe that you can be anonymous on the internet probably also believe that owning a gun will protect you from our current government if they want to off you.

  14. Brooklin Bridge

    Hating police brutality and respecting the police are not contradictory impulses

    True, but it’s hard to respect the Police when police militarization reaches such broad levels.
    It’s hard to respect the police when the biggest Police force in the world sends a chilling message through their Union laying blame for the death of two policemen on anyone who would defend the right to protest police brutality.
    It’s hard to respect the Police when one of their members comes up with tee shirts making fun of a man put to death by police brutality and who gets no reprimand, is asked for no apology.
    It’s hard to respect the Police when respect is clearly NOT what they want at all, when what they want is more along the lines of unbridled raw belligerent physical power over a population. They are not after respect; they are not asking for anything; they are demanding a form of grovelling obeisance to institutionally protected violence.

    1. psychohistorian

      The police are the pointed end of the stick.

      Follow that stick back to the who is pressing it. It is the same people that cause(d) our country to torture.

      If us little people are not able to cut off the head of this beast then where will we be? The new global slavery looks like a form of population control to many in other countries but will only be the pointed end of the stick in the US for a while longer………As long as global consumption is strong enough to keep the game going not much will change with a continuing march toward militaristic control, but the consumption engine of the US is on fumes and we have a long way to go to ratchet our consumption down to rest of the world levels.

      In the coming Depression, how will the internet as we know it be subverted? Without places like NC, community may become scarce for thinking sorts of folk……can we go back to Bulletin Boards?

      1. different clue

        If the material resources and energy exist to allow people to run computers, those computers will be standalone computers, with the ability to copy stuff onto memory storage devices. Those devices can be used to carry information around by hand, either in the mails or by trusted courier from computer user to computer user. Could thumb drives be made small and light enough for carrier pigeons to carry them from sender to receiver? People would have to form human-to-human networks for passing memory modules around . . . . an “internet of people”, perhaps called the Personet or the Humanet. People will learn to catapult the samizdata.

  15. optimader

    “In 2002, having spent more than three years in one residence for the first time in my life, I got called for jury duty. I show up on time, ready to serve. When we get to the voir dire, the lawyer says to me, “I see you’re an astrophysicist. What’s that?” I answer, “Astrophysics is the laws of physics, applied to the universe—the Big Bang, black holes, that sort of thing.” Then he asks, “What do you teach at Princeton?” and I say, “I teach a class on the evaluation of evidence and the relative unreliability of eyewitness testimony.” Five minutes later, I’m on the street.

    A few years later, jury duty again. The judge states that the defendant is charged with possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine. It was found on his body, he was arrested, and he is now on trial. This time, after the Q&A is over, the judge asks us whether there are any questions we’d like to ask the court, and I say, “Yes, Your Honor. Why did you say he was in possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine? That equals 1.7 grams. The ‘thousand’ cancels with the ‘milli-’ and you get 1.7 grams, which is less than the weight of a dime.” Again I’m out on the street.”

    Note to self, you can be too smart to serve on a jury.

    1. OIFVet

      Note to self, you can be too smart to serve on a jury.

      Nah, it’s about discriminating against those who are familiar with the metric system. That’s un-American and therefore highly suspect.

  16. Pigs pigs pigs

    Re (black) injustice tipping point, civil society’s the hammer, the outside world is the anvil. As protest intensifies, the US government has been running the gauntlet through the international community, getting whacked by treaty bodies and special procedures – most loudly by the Human Rights Committee, the Committee Against Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and Human Rights, and the Special Rapporteur on Torture. All this delegitimating disgrace gets funneled to the Human Rights Council and parceled out to influential nations for public shaming. The Council meeting this March is the culmination of this review cycle, and US Human Rights Network is lobbying ambassadors in their areas of interest to arm them with damning indictments.

    One way of keeping up the momentum is communications by special procedures. I counted six special rapporteurs or groups that could weigh in on US police death squads, and five more if the scope is broadened to include police torture in domestic repression. Any number of NGOs (like these or them or those) are rarin to go.

    Urgent appeals are certainly appropriate when police declare war in defiance of civil authorities, and elected officials move to prohibit peaceful assembly with mass detentions. This is banana republic stuff. US government dereliction of state duty is exactly the kind of situation that invokes the Responsibility to Protect. To the civilized world, R2P doesn’t mean what it means to Washington assholes, scramble jets and blow shit up. The outside world has a more sophisticated understanding of the range of pressures that can be brought to bear. But they recognize the US government’s human-security catastrophe as every nation’s problem. We should call them on the cops.

  17. OIFVet

    Today I received my Veteran’s Choice card. The privatization of the VA thus proceeds on schedule. Why spend a couple of billion to fix what ails the VA — inadequate funding — when you can spend several times that much to privatize veteran care? For the record, the VA hospital I go to has always provided me with timely appointments.

  18. downunderer

    Thanks for the New Yorker article on New Zealand, which I would never have seen otherwise!

    I got three of those Goodnature possum traps for my country place, and they work astonishingly well. They are also 100x easier and cleaner to deal with than the old Timm’s traps (which are like a giant mousetrap in a plastic box with a stick-your-head-in-here-possum hole). Their only big failing is that the bait trail leading to the Goodnature device on the tree usually gets licked up by rats before the possums find it, and I’ve had less success in limiting rat numbers, despite the feral cats that accompany the feral pigs that roam the more remote parts of the place. But the trees really look good when they are no longer being stripped by possums.

    Maybe humans were invented by other mammals as a way to get carried over vast stretches of ocean. Life will find a way.

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