Links 12/21/14

What’s black and white… and used to be red all over? World’s first tomato plant that grows fruits of either colour is created Daily Mail

Swedroe: Hedge Funds Rip Off Investors

Prudential Piles on the Corporate Pensions Businessweek

The Swiss are now at a negative interest rate due to the Russian ruble collapse Quartz

Buffett and Munger on How to be a Hack A Wealth of Common Sense. “Most of us will get much more out of destroying our own wrong ideas than coming up with new ones every day.”

Wal-Mart Appoints Meat Czar as Part of Grocery Push Bloomberg

Whither Oil?

An Annotated History Of Oil Prices Since 1861 Business Insider

The reason oil could drop as low as $20 per barrel Reuters

U.S. Seeks BP Fine of Up to $18 Billion for Gulf Oil Spill Disaster Bloomberg

The Alarming Research Behind New York’s Fracking Ban The Atlantic

Hopes, Fears, Doubts Surround Cuba’s Oil Future ABC. “One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba’s northwest coast.” So now they tell us.

Castro: ‘Essential Problem’ of Embargo Must Be Resolved Bloomberg

With Cuba decision, Obama hands Hillary Clinton a gift Reuters

Protesters demand action on single payer, condemn Shumlin’s reversal VTDIGGER (MR). Vermont Democrats kick the hippies.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Mall of America protest attracts thousands on busy shopping day Star-Tribune (HB)

Live Updates on Fatal Shooting of Two N.Y.P.D. Officers New York Times. I wouldn’t go on the Internets about this; it’s ugly out there. I advocate strategic non-violence exactly to take the guys I consider good out of the equation in appalling situations like this.

Two Cops Shot “Execution-Style” in Brooklyn; NYPD Turns on Mayor Gawker. The extraordinary memo from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (“The mayors hands are literally dripping with our blood”) seems never to have been authorized. Whatever, but the memo includes a “work to rule” threat previously issued, and “blood on his hands” tropes are all over. One thing is clear: DiBlasio’s instant appointment of Bratton didn’t buy him a thing.

De Blasio Fights For The Right To Mass Arrest Peaceful Protesters Gothamist. SMH


The FBI told their story about North Korea attacking Sony. Before we retaliate, read what they didn’t tell you. Fabius Maximus. More gaslighting?

Sony Hack – NYT Editors Find New Iraq WMD Moon of Alabama

I work at Sony Pictures. This is what it was like after we got hacked. Fortune

Making fun of Kim shows lack of taste Global Times. A Chinese view.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Hollywood’s Secret War On Net Neutrality Is A Key Part Of Its Plan Stop You From Accessing Websites It Doesn’t Like TechDirt

Tor founder warns attack on network could be “really bad,” allowing traffic to be hijacked Pando Daily. Had no idea the Tor network’s addressing system was not only centralized but that its “directory authorities” were hard-coded.

Inquiry in Anthrax Mailings Had Gaps, Report Says New York Times

GAO Analysis Highlights Lab Samples Excluded in Sloppy FBI Anthrax Investigation Emptywheel

Could the US even launch a nuclear missile if it wanted to? Critics point to growing alarm at decay of Air Force’s atomic weapons command AP


Ukraine should put Russia to the test Los Angeles Times

The week the dam broke in Russia and ended Putin’s dreams Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Telegraph

CBR shows how not to intervene FT

“Egypt Killed Islam in the West” The Islamic Monthly

Greek polls show anti-bailout leftists still ahead but lead slips Reuters

Class Warfare

Wealth inequality and the marginal propensity to consume Washington Center for Equitable Growth

5 Reasons for the Slow Recovery in Long-Term Unemployment Wall Street Journal. The Heritage View. A better headline would say “possible reasons”; the author commits to none of them.

The Unfinished Civil War Jacobin

Getting Serious n+1

Future Perfect: an optimistic look at the future of networked politics Boing Boing. Missed this first time round.

ISS crew gets new ratchet — over email Business Insider. Cf. Neal Stephenson, Diamond Age.

The Surprising Ways Your Breath Connects You to the Entire Planet Wired

The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic The Awl

When to quit your journalism job PressThink

Is It Bad Enough Yet? New York Times

Q&A: Ian Klaus on the History of Fraudsters, Fakes, the Financial Press, and More The Baffler

Cause And Effect: The Revolutionary New Statistical Test That Can Tease Them Apart Medium (original paper).

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. vidimi

    “Scotland’s top prosecutor has reaffirmed Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s guilt in the killing of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing and has pledged to track down his accomplices.

    The lord advocate, Frank Mulholland, said no Crown Office investigator or prosecutor has raised a concern about the evidence in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 26 years ago.”

    if you’re asking prosecutors to question their convinctions you might as well ask cops to arrest themselves. it’s not going to happen. true experts’ concerns, such as those of the courageous gareth pierce, are typically ignored.

    lockerbie was my first exposure to politics trumping justice and an early warning that government officials all the way up to the president can only be reliably trusted to further their agendas any way possible.

    having studied this case extensively, i am convinced that megrahi/gaddafi had no direct involvement in the act.

  2. ProNewerDeal

    do any of you all recommend a free internet stream, ad-free, 24/7 US &/or International news station? Unfortunately I am not aware of any. Sometimes when doing house tasks like cooking, I like to listen to news as background to catch up on current events. Unfortunately, CNN on TV, or the ad-riddled traditional radio news, are of atrocious quality level & also ad-saturated.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. JEHR

      If you don’t mind news from a foreign country, CBC Radio 1 has no commercial ads and covers a lot of different subjects. (Unfortunately, it is under attack by our government who reduces funding every year so it may not be here long.)

      May I suggest that you get an ipod and listen to some of the news from PRI, NPR, BBC, ABC, n +1, This American Life, Arts and Ideas (BBC), Writers & Company (CBC), etc. You can get all kinds of news for free and without commercials; just search the iTunes store.

  3. dearieme

    If I ran the Nork state hacking effort, and an attack on Sony was so easily traceable to me as the FBI claim, I’d have some of my underlings shot.

    Perhaps with hacking, as with many other crimes, the default assumption should be that it’s an inside job until evidence begins to suggest otherwise.

  4. vidimi

    though russia’s economy will no doubt shrink next year, the country is in much better shape than europe, which will no doubt follow suit. let’s look at how they stack up:

    demographics: similar
    banking: both in trouble, but europe’s much more interconnected. advantage russia
    currency: ruble under attack but russia has control over its printing. advantage russia
    natural resources: russia
    debt: russia.
    energy dependence: russia

    so russia stacks up better in just about every category. i don’t see how any sustained attack on russia’s economy will not end up with an own goal for europe. another bailout will be required and it will be sold no doubt with more austerity, which means that either the eurozone will have to break up or what’s left of europe’s welfare state will be gutted. my guess is that it will be a bit of both: the periphery states of greece, spain, italy and portugal will be bent past their breaking points while the other countries will erode worker rights.

    oil will probably stay low next year due to plunging demand, ruble will stabilize in january and rebound a bit in the year, euro will tank, dollar will strengthen, which means russia’s energy exports will rebound in relative terms.

    1. James

      You’re leaving out the most important part. Europe is a de facto cowardly lap dog and puppet of the US, and is thus consigned to dancing on the strings of decidedly whimsical of American foreign policy, while Russia has seemingly burned that bridge forever, and may well be on the way to establishing its own long term viable alternative. And Russia is led by an actual flesh and blood man who actually makes decisions in a reasonably coherent manner, rather than by a clueless committee of “elected officials” who front a criminal syndicate of unnamed and faceless actors who make seemingly random and senseless decisions behind closed doors, until you consider that the unifying theme of those decisions is that they always undermine the societies they purport to represent and benefit only them. So there’s that too.

      1. vidimi

        you’re right that europe’s elite seems to actively undermine their constituency but i wouldn’t have any illusions about the russian elite having the russian population’s best interests as their main objectives, although the latter’s lot has generally improved since yeltsin times.

        1. James

          Probably right. Sign of the times that we’re reduced to comparing degrees of criminality among our world leaders.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘i don’t see how any sustained attack on russia’s economy will not end up with an own goal for europe.’

      ‘Own goal’ not only for Europe, but perhaps also for the IMF, which ‘traditionally’ has a European managing director (currently Christine Lagarde).

      Signaling to Russia that it is now too politically radioactive to borrow (despite being in compliance with its obligations) sends a powerful message to other developing countries. Meanwhile, the US exercises its exorbitant privilege of veto power, despite refusing to up its IMF quota.

      This is all likely to blow up next month over the urgent matter of bankrupt Ukraine’s overdue next tranche. Destroying international institutions — that’s how we roll!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To borrow more imperial money would just mean a deeper hole – they say, don’t take out foreign currency loans. Maybe the whole IMF is just one big employment program for economic hit men.

        Still, for some poor, small countries, lacking, say, critical medical supply, they have to borrow global reserve money. Not every nation is an imperial power.

    3. Jackrabbit

      Net oil importing countries almost certainly benefit – before accounting for trade with Russia – as TO THEM this ‘shock’ is a positive one, not a negative one. The benefit, however, is reduced somewhat depending on how transient it is expected to be.

      I wouldn’t minimize the effect of the sanctions + oil collapse. Especially as it gives much ammunition to Putin’s political opponents.

      The big questions, I think are: how much support will Russia get from other BRICS? Will the BRICS accelerate their plans for an alternative financial system? . . . for SCO to add collective security (ala NATO) to its economic mission?


      Some have questioned whether the collapse in oil price is directed at Russia (plus Iran and maybe others). To me, the combination of Russia’s crucial importance to the BRICS and the undue swiftness of the price fall indicates the answer. Dropping the price in stages with a threat to continue to force the price down would probably have been enough for Saudia Arabia to assert its oil price leadership and IMO prices would’ve stabilized at a much higher price than it is today. This will become MORE clear if the price remains low for a long period.

      H O P

      1. vidimi

        you’re right about low oil prices benefiting energy importers, but i don’t see the demand being there in 2015 for that to make a big difference.

        one of the main reasons the global economy made a “recovery” following the 2008 crash was the high rate of growth of developing countries, particularly the BRICS. this time around, even they are stagnating or worse, so i see oil prices stay low for most of the year, until hot money starts to flee other asset classes and starts to pour back into energy.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Demand doesn’t have to increase for there to be a benefit. The size of the benefit directly related to percentage drop in the price. Uncertainty will affect how the benefit is used.

  5. Banger

    I don’t have the time or the energy to look into the hack of Sony. But I always refer to my slogan about the mainstream media–everything they say or print is a lie even when its true. In other words you have to assume now that any major story is false until proven otherwise–these are propaganda organs not “objective” news sources. Yes, there are good reporters who do the best they can to get us information about a variety of issues but there are so many areas that are disallowed they must walk very carefully–usually good reporters tip-toe around those areas and, at most, allude to their existence.

    Having said that, I’m not sure this is anything like the State wanting yet a new conflict–the “plan” is to just convince the American people that there are “threats” everywhere and only the State Security Apparatus can protect them from Evil and so on. I just glanced at cable yesterday and saw a lot of the usual a-holes talking about how serious this threat is and vulnerable and so on since it is in their professional interest to talk up the problem. The U.S. has become a kind of Factory of Fear. Fear Muslims (you’d be surprised how people actually believe all Muslims are terrorists), fear criminals, fear Putin and Russia, fear China, fear immigrants, fear your wife (I plead guilty) and so on and so on. At some point we need to start living–we pay a huge price for our fears not just in terms of money but in terms of stress.

    1. James

      The U.S. has become a kind of Factory of Fear.

      A House of Mirrors, where distorted views of one’s own appearance are used to confuse and terrify the observer. Seems to be working pretty well so far too. It sounds trite, but FDR’s, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” phrase really rings true these days, doesn’t it? Trouble is, the only thing we’re being urged to muster up the courage to do these days is to go shopping. Sheep, meet your executioner.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,”

        That phrase has rung true since September 11, 2001.

      2. jrs

        Go shopping in W’s terms or go to the movies in Obama’s terms. So long as your either buying stuff or filling your brain with Hollywood propaganda your good.

    2. Ulysses

      “The “plan” is to just convince the American people that there are “threats” everywhere and only the State Security Apparatus can protect them from Evil and so on. I just glanced at cable yesterday and saw a lot of the usual a-holes talking about how serious this threat is and vulnerable and so on since it is in their professional interest to talk up the problem. The U.S. has become a kind of Factory of Fear.”

      Yes, authoritarians need subjects of their regime to be afraid. They wager that people will submit to their bullying– if they believe that the bullies are the only thing standing between them and even worse, unimaginable terrors lurking beyond the pale. The best way to counteract this is through bold, concerted, peaceful action that empowers people to solve problems without the “help” of the bullies. The anvil can sometimes break the hammer, as the recent success of NYS “fracktivists” has shown!

    3. Alejandro

      Some therapists use the acronym FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). They have suggested that we are born with the fear of falling and the fear of noises and that all other fears are learned (or taught). If this is true, then there’s hope that what’s learned can be unlearned. Perhaps, instead of succumbing to fear by default, we might consider teaching the skill of discerning between fact and opinion, then contextualize the facts between the relevant and irrelevant.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The fear of silence, whereby, even if you are jogging on the beach in Santa Monica, in order to get close to nature, you have to have your earphones and music-player, is not innate, I believe.

        It’s acquired, like you say.

        “Gotta have the radio on when you drive.”

      2. hunkerdown

        I’ve always been a fan of this quote: “The fear of death is the beginning of slavery.” -Tom Robbins

    4. Jackrabbit


      It is not necessary to camouflage the insanity of the world of today within a science fiction setting.
      The world today has become the world that writers predicted long ago.
      The controlling authorities are constantly, and successfully, utilizing the fear tactic to control the masses, thorough misinformation and distraction.
      Fear is bondage. Fear is slavery. Fear is Hell. Fear is control.


      BLADE RUNNER – Clip from final scene

      Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

      H O P

    5. TimR

      Good point that it may just be part of the general scare-mongering campaign, rather than aimed at any specific, immediate action towards North Korea.

      There is a new twist in this case though — the average American can’t just relegate it to the realm of “boring” geopolitics to be ignored, because now Kim Jong Un is (supposedly) going after their pop-culture! He’s hitting them where they live!

      And we’ve been getting all these co-celebs (Steve Carrell, Kevin Smith, etc.) coming out and (intentionally or not) shilling for the state/ media fear propaganda. N Korea is suppressing our Freedom of Speech… Dude, what are we gonna do about it?

      And in this case “Freedom of Speech” = a big Hollywood production, most of which are loaded with subtle manipulation and covert warfare on the public anyway.

      So the general public is getting some tangible sense of “attack” in this particular media psychodrama… Whether that’s all part of some sinister plan or not, I don’t know, just what struck me about it.

  6. savedbyirony

    I’m so cynical. I accept i will probably be raked over the coals for saying this. This is not meant at all to disimiss the murder of the two NY police officers. But i do not put it past tptb (which specific one(s) in this case, i don’t know) to do anything to stay in power. It’s not as if there haven’t in the past been convenient killings staged to gain support for policing forces, etc. run amok and afoul of the law/justice. i do not believe the story they are reporting of the killings (and let’s not forget about the woman’s death)/suicide.

    1. EB Deming

      You don’t need to go that far out on a limb. The only reason this murder of two cops would be beneficial to anyone is if people process the events incorrectly. Mayor DiBlasio could do a large part in keeping irrational thinking to a minimum if he throws the police unions outbursts back in their face and point out that this isn’t a time to play politics, especially when its this kind of heinous murder we are talking about. If he said loudly that this is a time to come together with the black community and point out that a murder will not buy anyone friends (or infamy since this guy allegedly killed himself), and he did this with Bill Bratton on his side (since he directly appointed the guy, he ought to have him on his side. If he can’t muster that, he (DiBlasio) is an idiot). He could also point out the mischaracterization in the police unions and right wingers statements; DiBlasio barely said much of anything, he just mildly split the difference as far as i can tell (i haven’t followed this closely).

      Again, for your paranoia, the easiest way to dispel it is by pointing out that the powers that be don’t need to venture so far out into delinquency that they actually coordinate a murder. All they have to do is wait for the inevitable to happen. Then they swoop in. Don’t you think they were planning this kind of move, salivating and coordinating for when the inevitable black/white media confrontation occurred. And when it did, they jump all over it. Lying by commision or omission, mischaracterizing statements, delaying paperwork, logical fallacies, eagery awaiting actual crimes with excitement, these are how 95% of people step outside of moral decency. It takes a special kind of human, and for that reason there are few of them, although many of them might inevitable be powerful due to their inclinations, to rise to the Hollywood level of villainy.

      That and there are circumstances when regular people can be awful, but these are very particular circumstances. The trail of Adolf Eichmann showed us that Nazi Germany was definitely one of those times, when evil was a banal thing that touched everyone. But this certainly isn’t anywhere near one of those special circumstances.

      1. savedbyirony

        Living in the U.S.A. is living in a land awash with the banality of evil, the rationalizing of it (choose the lesser evil syndrome) and the blatant glorification of it.

      2. andyb

        The militarization of local police forces has led to a reasonable fear that when the SHTF, they will be ordered to use deadly force by TPTB on those exercising the First Amendment, or otherwise resisting a draconian martial law scenario. The recent animus, both racial and general, directed against police forces will ensure that the police may consider the general population as an enemy. If so, they will be be playing right into the hands of the elite.

    2. TimR

      As Banger says above, it’s completely rational to be very agnostic about any big news stories. Think about the different angles maybe, cui bono, and try to find some alternative perspectives before jumping to conclusions.

    3. Bill Frank

      After all that has happened, how does one discount the possibility that incidents like this have been, as you say, “staged?” Sadly, “staged” events are quite likely more frequent than even the most cynical could imagine. Think MH17.

    4. James

      I was and am thinking the same thing. I always assume false flag first now, as all TPTB’s actions since 9-11 (at least) have proven that to be the most rational choice.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, you know what they say about “assume”….

        I always assume that opportunities will always be twisted to suit elite agendas — just wait and see if charters aren’t promoted as the answer to Ferguson’s problems — but that doesn’t imply that the elite creates those opportunities.

        1. Ulysses

          “I always assume that opportunities will always be twisted to suit elite agendas — just wait and see if charters aren’t promoted as the answer to Ferguson’s problems — but that doesn’t imply that the elite creates those opportunities.”

          This is correct as far as it goes, but I think we need to consider not just proximate causes, but responsibility for background conditions as well. For example, when a particular employer commits a particular act of wage theft against an employee, chances are very slim that the United States Chamber of Commerce is directly involved. Yet should we let them off the hook for working so tirelessly over the decades to erode any worker rights in this country? They have actively worked to foster a climate in which employers know that they are very unlikely to face any adverse consequences for wage theft, or other abuses of their workers.

          In today’s desperate climate we can’t afford to pat ourselves on the back simply because we aren’t psychopathic monsters. If we have learned that psychopathic monsters are indeed destroying many of our brothers and sisters, then we have a clear moral duty to call out these injustices– and to do all that is in our power to remedy them.

          If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
          — Desmond Tutu

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          The meaning I took away from my cynicism can’t keep up with the facts was that often in our current environment when the facts emerge, one finds their cynicism simply wasn’t deep/stark enough to keep up with just how criminal/corrupt/depraved the reality turned out to be.

          It’s not really a recipe for a lynch mob or a session on the couch, simply a statement that when you think things are bad (but don’t have all the facts), they are often proven worse (once you do). Unusual times.

          Of course not remembering who said it, or the context, or even the exact wording, I perhaps should make some effort to point that out, so voila.

          1. Gaianne

            Brooklyn Bridge–

            I recall Lilly Tomlin as having said something very like this.

            Banger’s point stands: The truth is only told by the Media when it sets the mark up for the next lie. This is the “confidence” part of “confidence game.”

            The whole process, as well as its components, are called disinformation.

            We live in the Disinformation Age.


    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      Absent evidence, that’s not cynicism but… Well, let’s not say paranoia but an overly low baseline for dot connecting.

      If it had not been this incident, it would have been some other one. In general, I’m a LIHOP guy. I imagine the elites with portfolios of options, awaiting opportunities. In general, the opportunities are not created, but allowed to happen. One obvious reason for that is that the elite gets to keep their hands clean, and aren’t subject to blackmail by MIHOP operatives.

      1. vidimi

        indeed. even my example of lockerbie above was not an event manufactured by the elites but one exploited to their ends. the only event we can say conclusively that was manufactured was the iraq war.

  7. John Merryman

    I tried to point out on the Munger/Buffet homespun wisdom piece that both sides of the argument are effectively being made, that we should live by others wisdom and not try reinventing the wheel, but that most people seem on autopilot and don’t want to learn. The reason most people are on autopilot is because they have learned to just follow the crowd and if you question their beliefs, they ignore you.
    The difference is between a groove and a rut. We like that smooth track and not having to whack our way through the jungle, but than we get onto autopilot and lose sight of the point where we can no longer get off the path.
    My comment ended up in the void though.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For imperfect humans, it takes many wrong ideas to come up with a few good ideas.

      “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

      Moreover, there is value in exercising the mind, in the act, itself, of coming up with ideas.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      There are times when comments really do just disappear. Not very often, but it does happen. It’s an intermittent bug of some kind that we have never been able to track down.

      Naturally, you saved your comment somewhere before pressing submit? The internet is a hostile computing environment.

  8. jgordon

    One good side benefit of having a functional and relatively fair legal system is that the government operating such tends to have some legitimacy. Legitimacy in the criminal justice sense means that crazed vigilantes will not feel the need to indiscriminately dispense justice on their own initiative. Incidentally, I heard that New York has some pretty strict gun control laws. It’s a sad thing that the crazed vigilante in question didn’t stop by the (illegitimate–probably to him) police department and turn in his weapons before going on his rampage. If only violently insane crazed vigilantes were more sensible about following the law.

    1. James

      That’s assuming he is a vigilante and wasn’t a nut with a gun who was encouraged to carry out the act to provoke a backlash against all the recent police backlash. I don’t know if that’s what happened or not, but I certainly don’t discount the possibility. Cui bono?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Oh, please. Pure CT garbage. Stop it.

        There’s no evidence he wasn’t provoked into the act by Martian Overlords sending messages through his tooth fillings, either.

        The cui bono in that case being that the Martians want to provoke humanity into destroying itself, and then moving in.

        1. James

          You’re obviously more optimistic than I. Not saying that it did happen, just that it wouldn’t surprise me if it did. We’ll never know either way.

          But I will admit that no CT is necessary to explain any of this. The recent police shootings environment pretty much guaranteed that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. The fact that police unions would then seek to capitalize on it was foreseeable as well.

      2. jgordon

        He stated online that he wanted to kill pigs due to their (unpunished) crimes. He felt that he was a better instrument of justice than the state, and then he acted on that feeling. At least for some populations, as of now a certain political entity has a perilous lack of legitimacy.

  9. jjmacjohnson

    The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic.

    In the article the author says and attributes a statement that alludes to the fact that actual pictures or analog photos are some how worse. I disagree. They age with time which is what picture really is. A document of a specific time. Thus age makes it stronger. Also the tangibility of the “Analog” seems to be lost on the author.

    One has to ask will people actually look back at digital home photos the same way we do when we find actually photos randomly in our possession. Perhaps the younger generation but I think in the end the digital will be discarded and forgotten like lost links on a an old website.

    1. jgordon

      A digital light sensor is merely an alternative form of recording information to analog photographic chemicals. Digitally recorded images that have appropriate characteristics (which photographers are trained to understand) can be printed onto just about any kind of medium–from one that will turn yellow and start falling apart within a year, giving you the aged look you apparently desire almost right off the bat, to one that could last centuries in pristine condition. Also, competently done prints from digital sources will always yield superior results to prints done from analog sources due the vast array of post production techniques available for digital image files. You can’t do much with an analog image unless you convert it into a digital file first, which is actually an extremely high-demand and profitable business to be in (restoration and reprinting of old photographs).

      Also, the author of the article made a severe misstatement that should be corrected: with our current file systems in use today, every time a digital file is manipulated there is a chance for uncorrected corruptions to be introduced into its data. Corruptions accumulate over time and at some point render the file unreadable. Hopefully the author of the article is keeping multiple backups of his image files and/or he is using Linux with one of the new file systems that aren’t so prone to data corruption.

  10. OIFVet

    Regardless whether the statement attributed to the PBA is official or not, what is clear is that the NYPD feels that it must be above any legal scrutiny and accountability. This is rather scary.

    1. ambrit

      Yes scary. The NYPD is asserting their superiority to the NYC executive branch. If a general in the real military were caught speaking like that in public, he or she would find themselves in an office deep in the bowels of the Pentagon trying to justify their actions the next day. This has the earmarks of a shadow coup attempt. That union spokesman should be fired as of yesterday.

      1. OIFVet

        As a former military I do respect the absolute need for a chain of command with elected civilian at the top. As a former military I also know that many in the military respect the superiority of the civilian on top only if the civilian happens to be a conservative. The NYPD is the same way. In a way I feel that there always is a Damocles sword ready to strike out at the civilians on top if they are deemed to be “unworthy” of leading the “honorable” military or police. It is an attitude of assumed moral superiority of character and purpose that scares the living daylights out of me. This attitude is not subject to any evidence to the contrary and no self-reflection and examination is allowed to seed any doubts about the moral purity of the force. It’s almost like an unholy merge of a cult and organized crime. I feel that this is coming to a head and it will only get uglier.

        1. Carolinian

          Hey I saw that movie…Seven Days in May. It’s an oldie. But there was a time when Hollywood and media types were willing to be a lot more skeptical about the military and its authoritarian tendencies (which, as you say, may be necessary to run a war but translate poorly to other aspects of govt). Perhaps as a vet you’d be willing to comment on the ceaseless glorification of the military in today’s media culture. The vets I knew back in the day were rather cynical about the whole thing (think Altman’s MASH). But then back in the day we had the draft.

          1. OIFVet

            Hollywood has become a part of the MIC is how I see it. Is there a more naked recruiting tool than ‘Top Gun’? Then there are sports, with athletes having now become “weapons”, or specific body parts being one (“cannon arm”), with the sporting contest itself being of course a “field of battle”. This always triggers my gag reflex, which is a big reason why I have almost entirely given up on watching sports, at least the US ones. Just as bad, if not worse, is the transformation of soldiers into “heroes” and “warriors”, thus glorifying what remains a very dirty and inhuman thing: war. Then there are the homecoming videos that seem to flood the news these days, with soldiers being enthusiastically welcomed home by their pets or surprising their children. No one ask the question, “Why were the soldiers sent to war in the first place?” And there was the cursed “Army of One” slogan, now mercifully gone, that stood in the face of the very real emphasis on teamwork that remains the cornerstone of the military, or the commercials emphasizing learning skills valued by today’s civilian employers. No one stops to wonder why the government would pay for acquiring these skills in the military setting but won’t pay for acquiring them in a civilian setting.

            All in all, mass media is pure propaganda glorifying war and violence. I hate it. The vets I know hate it too, but then again they are mostly Veterans for Peace types. It is the vets that go to work for the police and other “law and order” agencies that I am concerned with: they are conservative and authoritarian types who truly view themselves as guarantors of our “rights and freedoms”, while most of us here would be dismissed as “liberuls” and bleeding hearts. They are the very definition of inverted totalitarians, helping to destroy our rights in order to save them, and leeching off the public teat through their unions even as they view that public as lazy moochers of dark complexion. Take any police blog at random (like second city cop) and you will find plenty of racism and rationalizations for police riots and murder. I believe that the many military veterans who enter police work only exacerbate such police tendencies, given the overwhelming need among the grunts to dehumanize the foe: hajjis, g–ks, etc., and given the total control over local populations that veterans have become accustomed to in subduing foreign populations. Perhaps that’s what it is: the mindset of the police and the military makes us regular citizens ‘foreigners’. At least, that makes sense to me.

            1. Banger

              Excellent points–it’s a privilege to read your comments.

              Power is very seductive and there is a clear opportunity for the military types to play a key role in subduing the population to make the world safe for the oligarchs. Because Hollywood is moving toward being part of the MIC–I still think it is possible to make movies that are skeptical of the military and police. I saw an excellent and very “dark” view of the military from Britain a movie called The Veteran–on one level it is too true to the violent movie genre–lots of killing but the message is that there is no difference between the gangsters, the military and the intel world which I believe is increasingly true.

              1. sleepy

                Much of the glorification of the military and the lack of cynicism towards it is also due to the lack of a draft.

                it was more difficult to glorify service when it was forced and easier to be cynical when the draftee’s attitude was that it was an experience akin to standing in line at the DMV. You weren’t required to revel in patriotic glory; you were just required to show up.

            2. Carolinian

              Thanks for the comprehensive reply and the nuanced view. I watch a lot of movies and the cartoonish use of soldier characters (or more typically ex-soldiers) to service their action plots strikes me as one of the movie industry’s lazier stereotypes. It’s hard to feel very sorry for the likes of Sony.

          1. OIFVet

            It is a big challenge for both NYC Democrats and for the left. Say what you will about Obama, but at least he sacked Stan McCrystal immediately after the RS article came out, as he should have. I am very curious to see what de Blasio will do.

            1. optimader

              Severely mentally ill people inclined to violent behavior exhibit what rational people rightly consider illogical and incoherent thought processes that nonetheless make perfect sense to them as they act out as avenging agents of the messages they hear, re:Son of Sam acting on the behest of his neighbor’s dog.
              So combine a random demonstrably violent person with some untreated mental illness, with a gun and the urge to act out in an inappropriate manner having been triggered by a provocative and unremedied event, in this case I presume the NYPD officer strangling an innocent person (innocent being redundant in a legal sense). In the due course of time it should be no surprise a double murder like this can result.
              The PBA spokesman’s irresponsible, inappropriate and incredibly myopic public assignment of “blame” to his superiors in the chain of command rather than speculating more candidly (if at all) about the more obvious root causes should be sufficient basis for his dismissal for insubordination, full stop.
              The fact that the PBA spokesman’s analysis (which presumably reflects the NYPD rank & file?) does not recognize that closing ranks around a “peace officer” who choked a citizen to death might be the trigger event indicates to me that the entire NYPD is rotten to the core.
              I fear it is indeed has come to pass that the “finest” are being professionally polluted by the worst of “the best and brightest” that have found a socially acceptable niche to act out on their antisocial tendencies with impunity..
              This is fulfilling the ~12yo predictions of an older couple I know reflecting on the mentality of the police state enforcement ranks populated from the ranks of dispensed ex-military thugs where they came from. Their expectation was our “foreign legionnaires” with violent tendencies and skillsets to match will likely find employment in the P.D.s of our Homeland Security fetishized society.
              A notable distinction is where they came from the police were so poorly compensated that no one had the illusion that the civilians were anything but objects of prey. Here the “peace officers” are generally well compensated for what they do w/ benefits and retirement plans afforded to vanishingly few peers in the private sector. Accordingly, our police violence seems to be more a behavior performed for the love of it?

          1. OIFVet

            Not necessarily, though I suspect that a large portion is. The military personnel is strongly southern/rural and white, and only 5.9% of enlisted personnel have a bachelor’s degree or higher. All of these are strongly correlated to the profile of the typical American conservative.

            1. optimader

              The military has a sophisticated psyops recruitment strategy that preys on young people in small towns, some of which will even allow recruiters to enter H.Schools and herd them to recruitment offices in the local mall. They target kids that might be directionless or impressionable with the opportunity to be part of an organization that they perceive will confer instant respect, and do all manner of adventurous shit.. Any contemporary National Guard recruitment media sells that theme very hard. . “Gee, I didn’t know I would be able to come home to my community in a Blackhawk Helo and help out (be respected) during (some fantasized) disaster event”
              Powerful stuff in an 18yo still developing brain, particularly when it perceives there’s not too much going on alternatively other than making McRat burgers and taking classes at the local JC.

      2. Banger

        We need to see this as a step in our inexorable march towards feudalism. The guys with guns eventually hold the power and the NYPD and other PDs know it and they are ready to take over when the official government loses public approval. I have, for a long time, seen this as inevitable if trends continue as they have for the past three decades or so. We see that the military and police are the most respected institutions in our society we see a holy reverence for these institutions by the media particularly the entertainment media. It looks like we are going to have some kind of military or paramilitary takeover as civilian institutions lose their credibility.

        We still have time to move beyond this eventuality. The most likely outcome will be the evolution of more paramilitary institutions on a local level. Already, corporations have their own little security operations that can easily evolve into armies. Democracy could make a comeback–I think there are still people who favor it–but much depends on the propaganda organs and, right now, the entertainment industry (the most powerful propaganda organ) seems to favor rule by gunsels.

        1. savedbyirony

          I remember reading some stats on local “militias” posted i think on Moyers & Co. site a few years back. Their numbers took a big spike up right after Sept. 11 and then again another even bigger increase soon after Obama first took office as Pres.

        2. Working Class Nero

          Actually I see it as quite the opposite. But that’s because I use a rigid class framework through which to analyze things. Just look at third world countries – the police are not going to “take over”. Quite the opposite actually; they will withhold their services from the bottom half of society, just as financial regulators are doing currently for the top half by letting the Rentiers run wild.

          And the failure comes from what passes for a left in the US continual refusal to use class-based analysis and instead falling back to Identity politics. The fact is the police, especially in poor areas, are the only thing helping the working poor to hold on to what little they have. The black community in particular is under a massive attack by a small but totally feral Lumpenproletariat. Of the 7000 blacks killed each year, 94% are killed by other blacks. This is an astounding number given that blacks only make up 13% of the population, and therefore the murderers killing blacks should only be 13% black. For whites at roughly 70% of the population the rate of white-on-white killing is 86%, slightly over what would be expected.

          Only 100 or so blacks a year are killed by police. But somehow this is the big story and not the “so-called” black-on-black murder wave.

          Why should the wealthy allow tax money to go towards helping poor blacks against criminals when the rich could be diverting these funds into their own coffers?

          So there is literally a civil war going on in the black community and police are attempting to intervene on the side of law-abiding working class blacks. But the difference between working class and Lumpen-proletariat blacks is not always so easy to tell. Do the police get scared and go overboard? Of course they do. But the police going into a civil war zone and risking their lives do expect that politicians and the general public have their backs when things go wrong – up to a limit. In Ferguson I would say they were nowhere near the limit (where I come from if you punch a cop you die, maybe in posher areas that’s not true). With Eric Garner it was much closer.

          So yes, perhaps overemotionally, the police in NY see Warren Wilhelm oops, Bill de Blasio as a sort of treasonous Jane Fonda. But in response they are not going to “take over”. Far from it. They — and increasingly police in other big cities — are going to back off and let the Black Lumpens run wild. Rich people can afford private security – just look to Brazil to see where America is headed. They will be more than happy to cut off police services to poor areas. And no, the current powers that be have absolutely no threats on the horizon to their political legitimacy–these police related events will throw the people into the willing arms of the vile Republicans — who will deunionize and privatize the police in return.

          RIP Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. You were fighting the good fight supporting the working poor against parasitical criminals.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Hmm. I think rigid frameworks, in general, will always be destroyed by more flexible systems in which they are embedded. I think you mean rigorous, in which case I’d like evidence for that thesis of a black “civil war,” starting with an explanation of how the war is “civil,” given that state actors are not involved. And then I’d like a serious class analysis of “lumpen.” How is that different from making a living with System D.

            Adding, I agree that absent serious analysis of social relations, the claim of neo-feudalism is vacuous.

            1. OIFVet

              I have a comment that tripped a filter of some sort, but I basically wondered about the same thing: what makes WCN call the violence “civil war” rather than what it really is: prison violence amongst inmates.

            2. Working Class Nero

              Those are incisive questions. On rigid vs. rigorous, I agree rigorous certainly has better connotations; what I was trying to emphasize a steadfast refusal to bow to current race-based hysteria. That should not be taken to mean that racial or gender frameworks are always invalid; only that they should be used with care and always in association with social class analysis because on their own they become nothing more than tools to arrive at the answer desired/demanded by the current Zeitgeist.

              On the black-on-black civil war, the phrase “literally a civil war” should be replaced by “literally civil war levels of violence”. A civil war is typically defined as having caused a 1000 battle deaths. But as you allude to, there are other criteria involving threats to state power that are most certainly not met in the case of black-on-black violence. What I meant to say is the level of intra-racial violence in the black community is comparable to those of found in civil wars. For example in Columbia, which at 40 million people has a comparable population to that of black America at 43 million, there has been a long lasting civil war where 220,000 people have been killed since 1958. That’s a little less than 4000 a year. The current black-on-black murder rate is around 7000 a year and twenty years ago the number was well over 10,000. Even once we subtract out the “normal” levels of American murder (5 per 100,000 or so) the levels of black-on-black murder are still comparable-to-above those found in low-grade civil wars. And just to be clear, by using the comparison to a civil war, the police would play the part of intervening UN blue helmets. The level of police-on-black-on-police violence does not rise to the level of a civil war.

              So the use of the civil war comparison helps creates a “good’ and a “bad’ side; at least from my perspective. To me productive people (working class or otherwise) are good and parasites are bad. In determining whether police intervention is positive or not, I try to look at which side the police are intervening on–which is typically the working class victim side. But given the difficulty in determining who is victim of crime and who is a perp, clearly innocent people end up getting harassed by the police. But does this outweigh the positive aspects of police intervention in the communities suffering civil war levels of intra-racial violence?

              One criticism of this approach could be that some percentage of intra-black violence is Lumpen-on-Lumpen crime. This is true but the working or productive classes are still oppressed in any case by living within such a culture of violence.

              In any case this type of analysis is strictly forbidden in mainstream circles and the Big Media Narrative instead prefers to concentrate on isolated cases of police-on-black violence. Why?

              As for a comparison between Lumpens and Système-D, the key difference would be, at least in my definition, Lumpens act as parasites while Système-D players can often act in a productive manner outside mainstream economic systems. It’s quite the same as the difference between Rentiers and the Bourgeoisie. It is the difference between value creation (people who contribute to society) vs. value transfer (people who take existing value and transfer it illegitimately into their own pockets). For example Person A who collects empty cans or bottles is productive albeit working within Système-D. The thug who comes and robs Person A as soon as they have received their cash from the recycling center is a parasitical Lumpen. But the borders between value creation and transfer can become grey and there is ambiguity in a similar way there is in defining Rentiers. I will work on developing this further and include it in future comments (when the opportunity arises).

              Taleeb Starke has written about these issues (although with very different terminology) in his book, “The Un-Civil War: BLACKS vs N-WORDS: Confronting the Subculture Within the African-American Community”

          2. James Levy

            OK, so you are arguing, about the United States, that race has nothing to do with anything, it’s just vacuous “identity politics”? What happened in Ferguson and on Staten Island had nothing to do with the way black people have been treated in this country for several centuries? Jim Crow had nothing to do with race? Class is everything, race and gender are just modern inconveniences that get in the way of understanding that class is the key to everything? Tom Paine was barking up the wrong tree when he talked about the end of slavery and the emancipation of women? The Irish thugs who murdered over 100 innocent blacks in the NY draft riots (famously burning down an orphanage) were heroes because they were trying to protect their working-class jobs from the evils of free black men and women?

            I fear you would have made an excellent apparachik during forced collectivization–we must destroy those parasitic kulaks, now, mustn’t we?

            1. Working Class Nero

              Racism is a system that encourages one to ignore the content of character (or actions) and to concentrate on skin color. For in Ferguson, if the policeman had been black and the thug a big white kid, would the media have spent two seconds on this story? If white community activists had tried to claim the black cop had committed a racist hate crime, after whiteboy had repeatedly punched the black police officer in the face, which side would you have come down on? The concept of racism allows you to judge the exact same set of facts differently due to skin color.

              If we analysis from a producer vs. parasite framework, kulaks were clearly producers and the parasites in this case were the communist party apparatchiks. Back in that day, Working Class Nerovski would have held fast to his class-based analysis despite the prevailing winds of the day that were wailing away trying to make the Kulaks the bad guys. In a sense, what I am doing today is defending our current out-group — the police — who the mob are rushing to make into modern day kulaks. One huge difference is that back then I would have been hauled off to a gulag whereas today I just have to respond to some very reasonable responses!

              And proof that the kulaks were producers lies in the fact that as they were liquidated as a class, the horrors of the Holodomor famine only intensified. The parasitic Soviets made the classic mistake of destroying their host. If the police were pulled out of black communities, the productive classes there would face a different kind of Holodomor — that of even more rampant violence.

        3. vidimi

          that’s sad that the military and the police are the institutions that enjoy the most public support. those are by far the two i have the most contempt for.

          1. different clue

            Why do you have contempt for the military? Do you remember that long video from the Police’s Occupy Crackdown of that uNITED STATES maRINE shouting at the police: “there is no honor in this!” I remember it.

            And you have equal contempt for that Marine as for the police he was addressing? Its statements like that which make me so very glad that I am not on the filth shit garbage Left.

            1. OIFVet

              Lighten up, Francis. Remember My Lai? Or Haditha? You seem to confuse the individual with the institution. Trust me, they are distinct, even as institutions are made of individuals. After all, the individuals then become subject to institutional culture and group dynamics that can trip up even the most honorable individuals. I wouldn’t have used the word contempt to describe my feelings, I believe distrust is much better descriptor. That, however, does not justify your nonsense attack on “the Left”, whatever the hell you think that it. Ya think all of them militias are “the Left” too? I though not. In any case, your blind faith in the military is quite misplaced. Remember Abu Ghraib? It was the small fry that the military punished, while promoting or otherwise not doing a thing to punish the brass and the civilian bosses who issued the illegal orders to begin with. Where is the effing honor in that?

              1. vidimi

                this. mostly.

                many veteran soldiers are more reasonable than most of the public about the military. same for the police. a lot of the people who enter these institutions are good, but the institutions themselves are evil. the military in particular is an industry of death and cover up. not just in america, but elsewhere too (e.g. l’affaire dreyfuss) in that sense, contempt is absolutely the right word. those who retain their humanity, such as the ex-marines in different clue’s example, are probably those who left before it was too late, because evil institutions inevitably corrupt even the best people.
                the military has become a religion which doesn’t tolerate apostasy or any form of heresy. even people who are generally against the current wars are somehow convinced that the brave “men and women in uniform” (TM) are somehow fighting for their freedom rather than unwittingly eroding it.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      The statement, which circulated among officers, added: “Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest.

      It would appear that taking “enforcement action” that is NOT “absolutely necessary” has been standard operating procedure for NYPD for awhile now. Did they really expect that murdering unarmed citizens or cracking the heads of peaceful protesters would make them one of the “chosen,” protected class?

      The problem with agreeing to be a member of someone’s goon squad is that you are completely dispensable. Replacement goons are a dime a dozen.

      1. dearieme

        Mr DiBlasio is the chap who erected an illegally high fence around the garden of the mayoral mansion. Why don’t the NYPD just arrest him for that?

        In fact, since it is notorious that there are so many laws that effectively all of us break laws all the time, why don’t they arrest him for a few dozen crimes? Preferably one day after another.

    3. DJG

      Good comments from OIFVet, ambrit, and Katniss Everdeen. In particular, the point about the paramilitary forces not recognizing liberal / left leaders. I find that the Spanish Civil War keeps offering me lessons about the problems we currently face in the USA. The run-up to the civil war included increased appeals to an authoritarian mentality, the recognition of the decline of empire (and resentment), great income inequality, a capital strike involving non-investment, uneven development across regions, a reactionary and out-of-touch Church, attempts by the military / rightwing to delegitimate the left and unions, and random assassinations. Sound familiar? The result was not pretty. The NYPD’s responses are inappropriate to an assassination that seems to have started as a domestic disturbance, but the authoritarian mindset likes pretexts for repression. Yet like the Spanish paramilitary police (Guardia Civil) and the army, the NYPD also knows that the fearful populace will back the authoritarians rather than elected officials.

    4. fresno dan

      I certainly agree.
      Unfortunately, it seems the decorum and prudence that were once the hallmark of public officials has gone by the wayside (way before this example, which is just another brick building the wall of oppression higher and stronger) and the most strident, hyperbolic, and vitriolic statements are made as a matter of course.
      ““At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the option of the patrol supervisor happens to be. IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest. These are precautions that were taken in the 1970’s when Police Officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis. The mayors hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”
      I could look it up and compare and contrast the number of police killed in the first months of the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, and I imagine that in fact less police have died under the current mayor.
      But to such people, facts don’t matter.

      What we have here is a public union de facto running government policy – which is pretty much that not only will police not be investigated no matter how egregious the conduct, but that they WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED.

      What worked with regard to national politics is now nakedly used domestically….

      1. fresno dan

        Oh, I forgot:
        “The mayors hands are literally dripping with our blood”

        As some point “liberals” or “progressives” are going to have to come to grips that public police unions and associated “public safety” unions represent a repellent view, and seriously undermine representative government.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        So now we have the NPYD deciding which civilian authority they will obey. And it’s a thousand to one DeBlasio will go all kumbaya. I hate to say it, but I think the only thug with the stones to deal with this is Cuomo.

    5. prostratedragon

      There is a history of this attitude among some in the NYPD. An earlier outcropping showed itself during the Mayor David Dinkins administration (Surprise!) in 1992. In addition to the riots following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles, that year also saw major disturbances in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC following the killing by a policeman of Jose (Kiko) Garcia. Part of Dinkins’s response to these events was to propose the removal of the citizens’ review board from the NYPD to an independent authority.

      The response of the rank-and-file to this proposal was delivered on Sept. 16, 1992, in the form of a demonstration at City Hall by over 10,000 police that spiralled into a riot in which many officers participated. (Unfortunately, the best reporting on the event from that time was done by Newsday and not the New York TImes, and is therefore not easy to find online.) Cars were overturned. Traffic on the nearby Brooklyn Bridge was blocked. Anyone at work inside CIty Hall (the Mayor was not in that afternoon) would have felt for a time seriously inconvenienced in trying to leave the building. The most prominent speaker at that rally-turned-riot, shouting that the review board proposal was “Bullshit?” Rudolph Giuliani, whose role as an inciter of the mob is supported by an interesting source.

      This is important to remember because it shows both the determination of some to use the police for political ends while tolerating disorderly and arguably threatening behavior on the part of officers, and to conflate citizens who are nonviolently advocating their rights with self-appointed assassins.

  11. Jim Haygood

    A finance professor hails us on a loudspeaker from his stately tour d’ivoire (ivory tower):

    Modern macroeconomic theories all assume that recessions are temporary — that they don’t permanently damage the economy’s productive potential. If that assumption is wrong, then most modern macroeconomic theories are barking up the wrong tree.

    If recessions do cause permanent damage, then the whole ball game of macroeconomic policy changes. It might mean that government needs to engineer a boom to undo the effect of a slump.


    As Yves Smith has documented, there’s plenty of evidence (such as 50-somethings who left the workforce for good) that the 2008 recession did permanent damage. But the author’s conclusion that ‘the government needs to engineer a boom’ makes me laugh.

    After all, the government engineered the last two booms — the mighty Internet bubble (1995-2000) and the magnificent housing bubble (2002-2006) — with too-easy monetary policy and lax regulation. Now we are well into Bubble III, with Shiller’s CAPE at 27. And J-Yel is surprised that housing hasn’t recovered more.

    From what little the author (someone named Noah) can discern through the clouds from his tour d’ivoire, he reckons that the government needs to spew more gasoline onto the blazing fire, so the S&P can print new highs next week. It’s all fun and games, till some pension fund loses an eye.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Perhaps the finance professor is referring to a fiscal, demand-side boom, rather than the spectacularly-failed monetary supply-side pump-and-dump that the “Fed” has been pushing ad nauseam in a classic loop of Einsteinian insanity. I don’t have time to read the link, but I’m guessing his solution is closer to Stiglitz’ thesis, which hasn’t been attempted on any reasonable scale since FDR. Maybe it’s time to try it again, for the first time in seventy years.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I look at the velocity of money and wonder, noting that unlike light, it has no fixed velocity. (That’s expected, as money is no eternal truth.)

        So, its speed depends on the medium it travels through. If we are talking about the velocity of money through the economy, we can discern different speeds. It appears that it travels through the 0.01% much slower than it does through the rest of us.

        Additionally, speed is frequency times wavelength. The wavelength is the distance from the source to the last, lowest member of the economy (when we are talking about the speed of money through an economy). That completes a half cycle.

        Now, with increasing inequality, we know that distance is getting bigger and bigger.

        So, even if the Fed increases how frequently it prints money, as long as the inequality is increasing at a faster rate (and rest assured it is), then the speed of money through the economy as a whole (not just through the 0.01% neighborhood) slows.

        And that’s what we have.

        1. fresno dan

          I agree.
          You set up a system where your theory is that if we just get more money out there, everything will be OK. But the fact is, you let the rich (the so called Primary dealers) get the skim.
          And of course, the difference between the interest rates the rich are charged versus everybody else are actually higher now than before.
          Maybe the Fed isn’t stupid….maybe that is the plan.

          From 1991 onward, that spread has been nearly constant at 3%. In the earlier period, the Prime Rate spread was what one would expect it to be, a variable, market-determined quantity reflecting the availability of capital and perceptions of risk even among “creditworthy” borrowers. Now it is a fixed quantity, more than double its average prior to 1989. At around the same time, sophisticated borrowers switched to an entirely different benchmark, leaving consumers and small businesses to pay the higher spread.

          just another small, nearly invisible way of doing things that benefit the rich, and screw everybody else. It works so well because it is incremental, small amounts, complicated…

    2. Ed

      This is bizarre, because the standard view of the 1930s Great Depression was that it was NOT a standard bust-and-boom business cycle and substantial government intervention was needed to get the capitalist economy back on track. Or at least this used to the standard view of the Great Depression. Maybe economics history has changed.

      That said, the (US) government has been serially inflating investment bubbles since the US hit peak (liquid) oil production in the early 1970s.

      Maybe the argument is for some sort of different form of inflation. Incidentally, the main reason this time its different is that the green revolution induced worldwide population boom left the world with a human population that turned out to outstrip what the world’s resources could support, at least according to developed industrial living standards. So the median person will continue to get poorer. That’s actually one of the less bad scenarios.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You’re right. There are at least two different forms of inflation:

        1. Government published 0.01% inflation.
        2. People’s inflation.

        By the way, there is a counter-revolution going on. In response to all the chemicals that come with the green revolution, people are going organic.

      2. jgordon

        We have agricultural techniques available to us now that rebuild soil and increase fertility the longer and more intensively they are used. They are not being used simply because widely adopting them would mean that those benefiting from the current destructive arrangement and their political lackeys would no longer be needed under the new system.

        If you watch the “greening the desert part 2” video that was previously linked on NC, you will see an example of this process at work. We could increase the population and yet have greater ecological resources available per capita, on a sustainable basis, if we really wanted to. Of course, we don’t. Or most have been deluded into not wanting that.

      3. Yves Smith

        The official position has been that the Fed/Treasury heroics in 2008 and since saved the economy. The prof is saying in a coded way that they didn’t.

  12. Doug Terpstra

    The US is making Russia’s economy scream, while few recognize this latest Cold-War Great Game power play. Many think Saudi Arabia, in a typical “free” market play, is squeezing US frackers, while the US stands helpless, and Russia is a merely incidental victim.

    Al contrario, Mike Whitney reveals a far more plausible scenario: economic war on Russia by the US and its minion Saudi Arabia. In this case, Washington gets at least a three-fer, with the death-spiral of Venezuela and the opening of Cuba to the tender mercies of Wall Street. US motherland-frackers, on the other hand, are to be bailed out by the emergency derivatives reform and other means. Another fine example of the elegance of free markets!

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Maybe that was someone’s plan but as The Ilargi piece illustrates, it’s equally likely the back last will put American elites in the same ditch with Putin. Kind of like the merry Brzezinski scheme to break first the USSR and then Russia itself into little statelets more easily managed by neoliberal satraps by way of pumping up pan-Islamic extremism.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Mike Whitney’s analysis rests on the view that Russia is isolated. Standing against the US/West alone. Putin is in a pickle if that is true.

      If other BRICS support Russia, it’s an entirely different story. And, if Putin determines that their support is not forthcoming, this could be over quickly as it becomes in Putin’s interest to give in to US/Western pressure. So IMO BRICS (especially China) will determine the outcome. And we will know within months what that is.

      1. Ed

        Its occurred to me that this could be a play by the West to break up the emerging BRIC block early by taking out the member with the greatest vulnerabilities.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Free markets are terrifying enough.

      Scarier still is imperial adventures, backed by unlimited imperial money (imperial in the sense that it’s about doing what it wants unrestrained, no more nettlesome compromises with Congress, the people or other nations “I can just print – who’s going to stop me?”), disguised as free markets.

      Let Russia and the rest of the BRIC nations worry about how to ‘earn’ our global reserve currency.

  13. David Lentini

    Failure to Launch?

    I recall reading a book about the Pentagon’s many problems back in the ’70s that mentioned a secret Air Force test of its ICBMs that found the missles could not be launched on command (certain missles apparently were chosen at random, their payloads removed and targets assigned to the Pacific, and then “fired”). As I recall, the report concluded that the missles became unreliable while sitting idle in their silos, with various technical problems arising over time. In general it often took weeks of repair to enable launch of the missles.

    The rerport wasn’t surprising, given how complex these things are and how many components were not designed to sit forever. Moreover, the pont of the missle race had nothing to do with actual use. The missles were always about show and fear. Like many other military subjects, we’re learning once again that our defense is largely based on appearance, not reality.

      1. ambrit

        The Missile Force deliberately screens for unimaginative personality types. The kind of people who can sit on the porch whittling a wooden duck decoy all day and not think once about anything else. A fierceness of concentration a Zen Master would envy coupled with the stolidity of a Medieval Burgher gets you this job. Not dumb or stupid in any way, but just a different way of looking at the world.

  14. diptherio

    Re: How Your Breathe Connects You to the Entire Planet

    Reminds me of some old Ani Difranco lyrics:

    We can’t sit back and let people come to harm,
    we owe them our lives.
    Each breath is recycled from someone else’s lungs,
    our enemies are the very air in disguise.

  15. Luke The Debtor

    Why is there a link to an article implying that Cuba has one of the most prolific oil and gas basins despite not having any big discoveries?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know the details, but it wouldn’t surprise me…when you find a cockroach, there will be others and the whole Caribbean basin and the Gulf of Mexico may be crawling with them…some may be much deeper or harder to get to.

  16. McMike

    Re NY fracking.

    I am cautiously optimistic about this major development. Signalling, perhaps, a turning of the tide in the previously one-sided disinformation campaign about fracking, whereby drillers and their pet congresscritters would insist with a straight face in adult company that fracking is safe, without major downside, and there are no studies to the contrary. Very much like cigarettes once did. And DDT before that.

    The full-stop phase of unchallenged unilateral impunity is clearly over.

    That said, it remains bizarre to me that even in friendly coverage of the issue, no one seems to hone in on the fact that the very premise – the idea of injecting trillions of gallons of contaminated water deep underground and leaving it there (or bringing it back up and then reinjecting it back down) – is fully irredeemably batshit insane on its face.

    1. fresno dan

      McMike…your implying cigarettes are Unhealthy!??!
      Look, heres a commercial*, with guys in white coats who may (or may not) be real doctors…saying cigarettes are healthy. Everybody knows everything on TV is true…

      *super duper irony alert: the commercial I posted as sarc is preceded by….an another commercial

  17. Mrs. Bob

    I am reading this on my iPhone in Safari and it keeps going to a place called I don’t understand why. Is your site being hacked? Or is their a reason for this? Thanks.

    1. Anon y Mousw

      That is, unfortunately, a very aggressive ad. I often don’t read this site on an iPhone because the ads make the site basically unusable.

        1. Carla

          Mrs. Bob, are you using a device with Ios 8.1.2? I just sent the following message to NC tech. support:

          “Access issue: Navigation to on brand new Iphone version 6-plus fails consistently. Operating system Ios 8.1.2.

          The NC page initially loads, and a banner ad appears at the bottom of the screen. A couple of seconds later, the phone displays the App Store app showing a game for download titled “Dragon City Mobile.” When I navigate back to Safari, a blank web page with the url:

          In comments on Links today, Mrs. Bob mentioned the same problem with an Iphone so perhaps she has Ios 8.1.2 as well.

          We tried accessing NC on an Iphone version 5c operating with Ios 8.1.1 and did not experience the problem.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      We need screen dumps to know what’s going on. You can contact me through the link at the bottom of Water Cooler (not putting my email address out in clear, for obvious reasons).

      1. Mrs. Bob

        My apologies for not getting back with you sooner. I have an iPhon 5 and it is running iOS 8.1.1. When it goes to the website the page shows up blank. Today 12-22-2014. I have not had this problem.

  18. grayslady

    It will probably take me days to read through all the links in the Fabius Maximus article on the Sony hack, but the Photoshopped picture of a sheep watching Dubya on a flat screen tv is one of the best political cartoons I’ve seen–even if it was done as a photo and not a drawing.
    Meanwhile, in the Forbes article, we see that Sony is a company full of idiots–not just the idiots at the top. Employees who use their employer’s computers for personal activity are beyond stupid. Back in the 1980s, when I was site admin for my company’s computer system, I could override all passwords to see every employee’s computer account. Didn’t the Sony employees read the Edward Snowden information? There is no privacy on a company computer, period.

    1. McMike

      I am trying to figure out why the Sony hack is a big deal for anyone except TMZ.

      Lessee… an entertainment company has lax security and lax employees, and they spend a lot of time on their emails wallowing in drama, complaining, worrying, and hating each other. So some hackers with grade school skills bust in and wreak some email havoc. And in all this, someone pressures Sony into backing away from a dumb movie, the episode itself playing out like a dumb movie about Ebola hysteria.

      Knock me over with a feather.

      Admittedly, the North Korea angle is weird, and bears the unmistakable whiff of US homeland psy-ops seizing the moment. Akin to those passports they found at ground zero.

      1. jrs

        I don’t think it’s so easily dismissed, all hacks can expose interesting things:

        – It’s exposed State department influence on Sony in this very film, even getting advise that the assassination in the film was desirable as propaganda to encourage the North Koreans to attempt it. So it shows the HAND of government and the military in even dumb comedic films. This is akin to how the Snowden docs showed Silicon Valley’s cooperation with the NSA.

        – It’s exposed the inequality in Hollywood, how almost all the top paid people are white males …. and they happen to be racist to boot.

        These are issues for politics and understanding society. But this is not all brand new, uh little is, it’s probably more so than the torture report, would you say that should also be dismissed as same ol, same ol?

        Now what I WISH the hacks would expose is Sony’s almost certain complicity in secret trade deals like the TPP and more exposure of what is going on there, but they probably don’t have that dirt.

  19. Brooklin Bridge

    The Polls Algorithm (forgive errors – I’m rusty and only got a quick glance at this top secret program)

    HelloSuckers.exe “Scottish referendum” “Scotish Independence”
    HelloSuckers.exe Greek “anti-bailout leftists”

    PROGRAM ——(TS)——-

    #ifndef HELLO_SUCKERS
    #define HELLO_SUCKERS
    #include stdio.h
    // Someone at MIT finally nails the Polls algo
    int Main (int argc, char **argv)
    const int SUCKER_SUCCESS = 0;
    if(argc > 1)
    printf(“%s polls show %s still ahead but lead slips”, argv[0], argv[1]);
    return SUCKER_SUCCESS;

    END PROGRAM———————

    Greek polls show anti-bailout leftists still ahead but lead slips

  20. Carolinian

    Mish links this NYT story on the history and future of Youtube and I’d say it is worth a look.

    As a long time cord cutter I look forward to the demise of cable tv with its annoying news channels and ridiculous rates. We will all share a champagne toast as CNN sinks beneath the waves like the Titanic.

    1. fresno dan

      Thanks for the links
      It does bring up a good point – which is value for money. I have reached my NYT limit, but on the other hand I am constantly offered 3 months of the NYT for 99 cents. If I could get it for 4$ a year, I could see myself getting it.
      But one of the problems with publications is that I already have way more stuff to read than I have time. I don’t want to be one of those people who buy a gym membership and not use it. And the bigger problem is, is that even the NYT has a tremendous amount of crap, superfluous, earelephant (or for the purists, irrelevant) and wrong information. Unfortunately, they pass off everything as equal quality.
      Quality – – whether in written material or entertainment, the price is coming down, because, I would submit, quality is — NOT coming down, BUT being more accurately reflected. And the price is coming down because most of the material is not worth what they are trying to charge. The problem wasn’t that Rolling Stone can’t make a mistake, its that they charge me an Acura price for Yugo quality.
      I “give” “donate” “subscribe” “tip” – what do you call it?? to NC, without compulsion, other than my own conscience, because I find value not only in the article (linked as well as original) but in the analysis of the commenters. I have learned quite a bit and had my perspective broadened and my viewpoint stretched.

      Too much “news” is stenography – I can go to the website of the White House, Senate, House of Representatives, State department, etcetra myself.

    1. sleepy

      The Pennywhistlers!

      Hadn’t heard or thought about them in decades. I’ve got one of their old 33s on the Nonesuch label

  21. Marianne Jones

    Another person on NC mentioned they were having the same aggressive app store highjacking problem, and I have a couple possible solutions:

    1) Try the mobile browser Dolphin instead of Safari. This browser seems 100% able to block the auto-launch. I don’t normally come to NC from Dolphin, but when I do, it’s not had the auto-launch issue.

    2) Try some of the technical solutions outlined here. I’ve tried the first option, and that did not seem to work in all cases. I have yet to try the additional more technical solutions.

  22. fresno dan

    The Surprising Ways Your Breath Connects You to the Entire Planet Wired

    Does every breath we take contain an atom from a breath that Julius Caesar took?

    this site says probably not
    this site is equivocal
    The American Chemical Society posted our question to their internal message board, and it drew this reply from the chemist Bryan Balazs: “I remember doing an exercise in undergraduate P-Chem in the early 1980s in which we were asked to calculate the chances that a breath that we took would contain a molecule (oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, it didn’t matter) of “Caesar’s last breath”. The answer turned out to be about 50%, so for every few breaths you take, you have a reasonable chance of breathing in a part of “Caesar’s last breath”. We were asked to ignore effects of material transport, atmospheric convection, chemical reactions, etc., which would be a big part of the answer to the original question posed.”
    This site says yeah
    “marked” breath of 2 × 1022 atoms(N) after 10 years is well mixed with the atmosphere’s 2 × 1044 atoms(N). So the odds of any randomly sampled atom(N) being “marked” is 10-22. So a sampling breath, again of 2 × 1022 atoms(N), can be expected to have on average 2 or 3 “marked” atoms.
    (One can also bypass the atom mass calculation – the atmospheric 3.88 × 1018 kg(N) divided by the breath 0.49 × 10-3 kg(N) gives 7.9 × 1021. Remember that the breath volume might vary by ×2, so great precision isn’t useful here.)
    And of course, Reddit, so you get a great deal of jabbering about it
    I was going to approach the problem using garlic odor as a surrogate, which would involve the detection limit of garlic fragrance, what percentage of the garlic bulb has a typical garlic fragrance, and so on, but than I realized I didn’t know if Caesar actually liked garlic. Also, my abode is hopelessly contaminated with garlic, which I use predominately for flavoring, but also for vampire repellence (precautionary principal).

    And than I read the link about what I would do with ten bucks:
    Wealth inequality and the marginal propensity to consume Washington Center for Equitable Growth
    So I decided to spend ten bucks on beer instead…

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      This sharing of atoms comes about not only from exhaling breath, I would imagine, nor confined to humans though the human breath seems to be more susceptible to poetic treatment than some other means of output…

  23. different clue

    Since I am at the public library computer which will time out soon, I don’t have the time to read properly all the comments before deciding to comment or not comment myself. If I wait till tomorrow, this thread may be dead and buried under 4 or 5 fresh new topics/ threads tomorrow.

    About Police Union Leader Lynch’s statements, is Lynch and others deliberately working to create the hate-field matrix within/around NYC in which an assassination of Mayor di Blasio and assassinations of protest leaders may be carried out by police personell under “lone gunman” or “disgruntled former cop” cover? Has Lynch just announced that di Blasio and others will be provided zero protection to be rendered an “unprotected open target” for any genuine lone gunman or lone bomber or lone poisoner who cares to step up and give it a try? The Lynch statement reminds me of the leadup to the Police Department Assassination of Milk and Moscone, using Dan White as the plausibly cut-loose-able “lone gunman”.
    Should Mayor di Blasio ask Governor Cuomo to call out the National Guard to secure New York City so that the Mayor can order all police personnel to stay in their buildings or homes while major security purges are conducted? Should Mayor Cuomo ask President Obama for Secret Service Protection? Should Mayor Cuomo and major protest leaders hire personal bodyguard armies if there are any trustworthy such to be hired? Are citizen movements ready to donate the vast sums of money needed to hire such Bodyguard and Security forces to protect City Government against its Fascist Police and their Fascist Union? Is Bratton a police-terrorism sympathizer? Will Bratton also lie about peaceful protesters inciting murder of policemen as part of an effort to prepare for mass-murder of peaceful protesters? And mass torture of arrestees?

  24. different clue

    And it just occurs to me . . . given that I heard on the radio that certain police depravists were selling TeeShirts that say: “Breathe Easy . . . Obey the Law” . . . . should protesters consider possibly adding the slogan ” Put down the twinkie” to the slogan “I can’t breathe” ?

    1. barrisj

      Well, whatever slogan the coppers put on T-shirts, it will be hard to top perp Brinsley’s remark: “I’m gonna put wings on pigs”. Now, there’s a comment that will have legs, in today’s climate.

      1. different clue

        Well, this mental-case outsider from Baltimore had precisely zero to do with the non-violent protesters and demonstrators, Lynch’s dirty filthy lies to the contrary notwithstanding.

        “Put down the twinkie” is a referrence to the Twinkie Defense invoked on behalf of San Francisco Police Department tool Dan White after his role in the political assassinations of Milk and Moscone.
        That little “slogan” from Mr. Whatever never came from any protesters. If I were a protester and someone suggested that line to me, I would assume the suggester to be a secret undercover police agent. And the protesters should not be surprised when police in protester-disguise infiltrate the protests and chant “put wings on pigs” for the benefit of the news cameras. What do the protesters plan to do when that happens?

  25. lyman alpha blob

    Thank you for catching that anthrax story – I hadn’t realized a new report was coming out and would have missed it. Over the years I’ve found Maine doctor Meryl Nass’ website to be a good source of info on this story: She also appears in the comments of the emptywheel article and if this story manages to get any legs her site would be a good place to look for updates for anyone interested.

    Rush Holt deserves a lot of credit for keeping the pressure on over the years for a real answer but I wish he’d gone a bit further with in his recent statements –

    “The United States needs a comprehensive, independent review of the Amerithrax investigation to ensure we have learned the lessons from this bio attack.”

    A more comprehensive review is certainly needed but not just to ensure that the proper lessons have been learned as it seems quite possible that the perpetrators of these attacks are still at large.

  26. skippy

    Police Force ‘Health and Comfort’ auxiliary… cough… “Union” – making rumbling noises???

    Good Grief… better get the UAW tactical squad over quick smart to bust some heads, kettle them and jail a bunch….

    Skippy… this disorder could spread!!!!

    1. vidimi

      i posted this exact CT shortly after the plane disappeared here in the links. it remains far fetched, but probably the most likely of any put forward. but this passage caught my attention:

      “More evidence suggests the plane’s Captain, Zaharie Shah may have taken the plane off the grid himself before diverting its course away from Beijing, including a flight sim confiscated at his house, which showed he had practiced landing on a small island in the region. ”

      this hints not at a 9/11 style hijacking but a delivery.

  27. VietnamVet

    War Profiteers have always pushed war and the military needs war for promotions in the ranks; but the Iraq Invasion was the first blatant American false flag operation. It was very successful; corruption is unbound and the war continues today and forever.

    This was possible due to nuclear weapons and mutiny in the draft army in Vietnam. The Elite no longer require a people’s army to keep hold of their possessions. The Masses exists solely for exploitation and they are controlled by propaganda and the militarized police.

    The disappearance and the shoot down of the Malaysian 777s are perfect reflections of the new world order. Rational explanations to the families of the 537 souls on board of both flights are of no concern to anybody in power; possibly, because they were false flag operations in the first place.

  28. JTFaraday

    re: “The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic,” The Awl

    “Then this meme went through hell.”

    You can say that again!

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