2:00PM Water Cooler 1/14/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


Josh Marshall’s demographic: “[M]any readers saying 2014 was a year they lost hope” [Talking Points Memo]. Six! Years! Obama really is one of the great con men!

Hillary Clinton campaign hires strategist Joel Benenson and media advisor Jim Margolis, both of the Obama 2008 and 2012 campaigns [WaPo]. Expected to work closely with éminence grise Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook. Well, that’s interesting. I’m guessing, then, that the Clinton campaign won’t be building on the post-caucus, post-Penn 2008 primary campaign, which in fact offered a populist model. Oh well.

Hillary Clinton is in favor of TPP in her memoir, and supported TPP as part of Obama’s “pivot” to Asia [KSPR].

Aw, come on. A trial balloon for Hillary Clinton’s VP?! [The Hill]. This is like Xmas music in the stores on Halloween (Julian Castro).

There’s no “obvious logic” behind another Romney campaign [Chris Cilizza, WaPo].

Christie to set up leadership PAC [New York Times].

The Hill

Sanders to introduce amendment to Keystone bill saying that climate change is real; McConnell will permit a vote [The Hill].

28 House Democrats join Republicans to pass Keystone bill [Roll Call]. Blue Dogs being Blue Dogs.

The problem with sucking up to the Blue Dogs [News-Observer]. No loyalty whatever.

Herd on the Street

Treasury 30-year bonds yields fall to a record-low 2.39 percent [Bloomberg]. Deflation fears.

Copper falls most in six years [Bloomberg]. Demand weakness and worse-than-expected data from China.

Stats Watch

Retail sales, December 2014: “The December decrease is the largest negative since January 2014,” and November and October were revised down [Bloomberg]. Weirdly, food services and drinking places are up, “suggesting a positive mood.” Or eat, drink, and be merry? Stocks fall on growth concerns. Stock futures “whacked.” The dollar dives.

Business inventories, November 2014: Modest growth. Inventories at factories little changed, inventories at wholesalers rose sharply. Inventory imbalance is not a major risk right now, except for oil [Bloomberg].

Charlie Hebdo

Times public editor: Image of latest Charlie Hebdo cover was the story, should have been published [New York Times].

Opinion piece from Le Monde in 2013: “‘Charlie Hebdo’, not racist? If you say so…” [Posthypnotic].

Notorious French comedian Dieudonné arrested after suggesting on Facebook that he sympathised with one of the Paris gunmen [Guardian]. Wait, what?

Will there be a European PATRIOT Act? [The Verge].

“Radicalization” is a social issue, not a religious one [Guardian]. I’d quarrel with the term “radicalization,” since that shades over into declaring anybody to the left of Elizabeth Warren an “extremist,” and hence a candidate for doubleplusgood surveillance.

“After World War Two, nationalism went into remission in Europe. Until recently, nationalist parties were largely regarded as a noisy but fringe phenomenon. The notion that they would gain public respectability — let alone wield power — seemed outlandish. No longer” [Reuters]. And the EU has been working so well!

Leslie Gelb: Obama’s failure to have a US representative at the Paris march was a “horrendous gaffe” and scalps should be collected [Daily Beast]. Sure, sure, and then you read Gelb’s recommendations for the wise men Obama should consult: “Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and James Baker.” The definition of insanity, though at this point I grant there’s more than one way to go insane.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Good discussion of the physical evidence for “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and, of more interest, the symbolism [CNN].

Non-partisan coalition of 40 congregations and 20,000 people to take role in reforming Cuyohoga’s criminal justice system [Plain Dealer].

A reasonable wrap-up “the new social justice movement” that emerged in Ferguson, especially on differences between “the Civil RIghts” movement, and this movement [Politico].

NYPD “work slowdown” ending [Reuters]. Scratching my head on this. Why is it such a bad thing to arrest people only when it’s “absolutely necessary”?

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Headline: “Convicted ‘eco-terrorist’ freed amid claims FBI hid evidence” [Sacramento Bee (PT)]. Well, that and the FBI agent provocateur “who later prodded him to take violent action against government targets with promises that they would later consummate a romantic relationship” (yet another example of the rule that the first one to propose violence is always the cop).

The Bureau of Prisons never urged the CIA to make the Afghan Salt Pit detention site “less like a medieval torture chamber. Instead, the BOP inspectors gave the prison their blessind” [ACLU].


CBC (!!) story on insurance suppressed after powerful reporter with financial ties to the insurance industry intervened [Canadaland].

“The very term ‘corruption’ is so inclusive as to be almost meaningless” [New Yorker].

Class Warfare

Current version of Janet Yellen’s dashboard: Only 3 of 9 indicators back to pre-crash levels [Bloomberg].

Former USTR Zoellick and economist Matthew Slaughter (!) argue for innovation for long-term unemployed: Subsized wages, other “modest measures” like better job matching, and “the elimination of regulations that discourage retraining or flexible work arrangements” (crapification) [The Hill]. Why not a Jobs Guarantee?

News of the Wired

  • Privatization of NHS proceeding according to plan [OpenDemocracy].
  • There will be a film version of The Big Short [Bloomberg]. That ain’t right.
  • “Lizard penises evolve super-fast” [New Scientist].
  • Heterdox protesters at American Economics Association meeting: “BEFORE ECONOMICS CAN PROGRESS, IT MUST ABANDON ITS SUICIDAL FORMALISM” [WaPo]. Projected onto the side of a building. Economics killing itself isn’t the issue. Economics killing us is.
  • Erdogan adopts ‘Lord of the Rings’-like costumes for palace guards [South China Morning Post]. Looks more like Game of Thrones, to me.
  • The health hazards of sitting [WaPo]. Awesome infographic.
  • US astronauts shelter in Russian side of space station after leak alarm [Reuters].
  • How often do you really need to shower? [Buzzfeed]. Check out the awesome Palmolive ad from 1924. You’re soaking in it!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant:


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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. diptherio

    Re: Charlie Hebdo

    I found this little bit of background from Chris Hedges somewhat interesting. Gotta love that French devotion to “free speech.”

    In France a Holocaust denier, or someone who denies the Armenian genocide, can be imprisoned for a year and forced to pay a $60,000 fine. It is a criminal act in France to mock the Holocaust the way Charlie Hebdo mocked Islam.[…] French law bans the public wearing of the burqa, a body covering for women that includes a mesh over the face, as well as the niqab, a full veil that has a small slit for the eyes. Women who wear these in public can be arrested, fined the equivalent of about $200 and forced to carry out community service. France banned rallies in support of the Palestinians last summer when Israel was carrying out daily airstrikes in Gaza that resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths. The message to Muslims is clear: Your traditions, history and suffering do not matter.


    1. Hue

      That’s such silly equivocation on Chris Hedges’ part.

      To compare the offensiveness or manipulation of Holocaust denial and Armenian Genocide, in terms of exercising the freedom of speech, with the satirizing religion, politics, and ideas seems to undermine his whole argument by analogy. I agree with him on the banning of protesting, but that relates to public order and assembly. It is difficult to appease everyone in the threat of instability (regardless how peaceful it intended to be — there will be ignorant fools that want to instigate), but that is governance. French law banning niqab has nothing to do with Islam specifically. It is derived from their current political culture.

      1. diptherio

        French law banning niqab has nothing to do with Islam specifically.

        Really? Were you laughing hysterically when you typed that? Yes, yes, and the rich and the poor alike are barred from sleeping beneath bridges….

        1. Hue

          Well, not really. I don’t know how you can equivocate the failure of society to aid the poor and disenfranchised with the privileges of the rich with the current situation.

          If we were to utilize the logic of your statement, we would apply to Catholic Church’s suppressive views on women and contraception/abortion, evangelicalism against gay marriages, and etc. These cases, by themselves, are unique in terms of circumstantial facts and specific problems. However, in principle, they deal with protection of basic human rights. It seems ethnocentric. I agree, but it is a shame and disservice to state that French law banning niqab was to suppress Islamic expression.

          It is plain and simple. It is a subjugation of women. Dictated from elderly men who seek to preserve their power and perpetuate it. To state otherwise seems foolish.

        2. different clue

          I had read that the same law bans big crucifixes, big stars of david, Sikh turbans, Sikh sacred daggers, etc. Did I read wrong?

    2. optimader

      It is a criminal act in France to mock the Holocaust the way Charlie Hebdo mocked Islam.[…]

      How would one mock the holocaust “the way one would mock a religion?? One is a historical event and the other is a religion.
      Frankly one should be able to mock either in its own way and live w/ the public derision, but that’s beside the point.

      1. MartyH

        So, optimader, you would agree with the suggestion that they decriminalize the holocaust denial and derision and the wearing of muslim ethnic garb and the other “protected hate speech” and “national cultural heritage protections”? The “Hate Speech” criminalization was an attempt to dampen the zealots whipping up Anti-Semitism, among other things. The reports indicate there’s still plenty of that in France in spite of the legal protections. The Burquah law and other cultural laws are also flimsy attempts to force cultural homogenization to some romantically nationalist norm that is strangely at odds with France’s Imperial history (Algeria and all that).

        Taunting and other baiting behaviors beg retaliation. Socially, the ideal of “free speech” isn’t automatically permissive of intentionally hurtful or inciteful speech. And it it is permissive, do we then permit the implicitly desired retaliation or do we intentionally protect bullies?

        1. hunkerdown

          Socially, the ideal of “free speech” isn’t automatically permissive of intentionally hurtful or inciteful speech. And it it is permissive, do we then permit the implicitly desired retaliation or do we intentionally protect bullies?

          What exactly about the great Greco-Roman tradition isn’t about bullying, and what influences have “we” internalized to prevent the problem, rather than ignoring it?

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          What better example of mass hypocrisy could you ask for than “Je Suis Charlie”, a million people protesting in the streets because 12 innocent WHITE people died. Mass complicity by contrast when hundreds of thousands of innocent BROWN people die at our government’s hands. Fully 4% of drone deaths, by their own admission, are “al-Qaeda”, the rest, like all of the other innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the five other Muslim countries we are currently bombing, apparently lost their “innocent” status because they are BROWN.
          Instead of carrying “Je Suis Charlie” signs those people should be carrying mirrors. Two words, quoting Al Gore: *Inconvenient* and *Truth*.

          1. optimader

            “a million people protesting in the streets because 12 innocent WHITE people died. ”
            Doesn’t Ahmed Merabet count? why do you overlook a “BROWN” persons murder? How about the four people taken hostage and murdered in the grocery store?

            “Mass complicity by contrast when hundreds of thousands of innocent BROWN people die at our government’s hands. ”
            Maybe your confused, didn’t this happen in France?

            This sort of latent justification for murder disgusts me. tell me how the people murdered here had any influence w/regard to drone strikes or bombing.

            this sort of sanctimonious logic sucks.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Whoa, easy does it fella, I was not suggesting any “latent justification” for murder, quite the contrary if you read my post. I’m sure quite a few innocent WHITE people died under America’s bombs, too. My point stands: it’s just stunning how these 12 deaths have assumed such massive importance and 1000X more innocent deaths go unnoticed and unprotested. Complicity. Every Tuesday morning Obomba flips through his disgusting little book, pointing to the photos of that week’s pre-crime murder targets. His comment one week, as reported in the NYT, was “doesn’t she seem a little young?” That to me, and everyone who is NOT marching in protest, is what’s disgusting. It’s fine if you can live with yourself and your quiet inconvenient complicity…just don’t go into the streets when a tiny number of your tribe is murdered in retaliation. And yes, the Charlie attacker said he was motivated by the Iraq War and then radicalized by the photos from Abu Ghraib.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Last count of deaths by American drone of children under the age of 10 = 384 (so far).
                Now THAT’s what’s disgusting.

                1. different clue

                  Pardon me but . . . France stayed out of Iraq War One and mostly out of Iraq War Two,
                  and France isn’t droning anyone. So this comment is airily irrelevant to France and French responses.

                  Three million FRENCHfolk rallied against the recreational fun-murder of some FRENCH excercisers of Free Cartoon Speech in order to terrorize all the others into silence.

        3. Jack

          Who decides what is ‘hurtful’? There are 7 billion people on the planet, everyone is going to be hurt or offended by something. Part of being an adult should be learning to ignore things you don’t like. Suck it up. You can request someone to be more sensitive and not use certain words or the like out of deference to you or others, but they have no obligation to comply with your request, nor should they. In the world of the internet at least the constant whining from places like Tumblr about ‘triggers’ and the attitude that hurt feelings should give someone special status and privileges is rightly treated with derision.

          “Taunting and other baiting behaviors beg retaliation.”

          So retaliate in kind. Shout them down in the public square, or seek to socially ostracize them for being dicks.

          1. John Jones

            I am some what undecided on this issue

            What happens when a majority population ridicules a minority one? What is a minority supposed to do?

                1. different clue

                  Everyone who suggests the cartoonists sort of had-it-coming by “provoking” someone with their cartoons is trying to get away with saying a shooting spree is proper and justified. They are just trying to say it in a Nixononianly non-deniably deniable way.

                  1. John Jones

                    Okay. But that is not what I was talking about. I should of made myself clearer. But I am specifically talking about this with my first reply. I’m not talking about murder or what they shouldn’t do.


                    Socially, the ideal of “free speech” isn’t automatically permissive of intentionally hurtful or inciteful speech. And it it is permissive, do we then permit the implicitly desired retaliation or do we intentionally protect bullies?”


                    Who decides what is ‘hurtful’? There are 7 billion people on the planet, everyone is going to be hurt or offended by something. Part of being an adult should be learning to ignore things you don’t like. Suck it up. You can request someone to be more sensitive and not use certain words or the like out of deference to you or others, but they have no obligation to comply with your request, nor should they. In the world of the internet at least the constant whining from places like Tumblr about ‘triggers’ and the attitude that hurt feelings should give someone special status and privileges is rightly treated with derision.”

                    My point is what is a minority supposed to do?

        4. optimader

          “So, optimader, you would agree with the suggestion that they decriminalize the holocaust denial and derision and the wearing of muslim ethnic garb and the other “protected hate speech” and “national cultural heritage protections”? ”
          Yes, regarding burka or other ethnic/eccentric garb, if your not harming anyone/causing a public hazard, like trying to drive a car or go into a bank in the case of a burka or a Columbia parka w/ the hood zipped up, why should I care?
          I’m not an advocate of the forbidden fruit thing in general. More specifically, yes criminalization of “anything denial” is a self defeating policy. Best people be able to express themselves in a speakers corner kinda way.

          1. Jack

            “More specifically, yes criminalization of “anything denial” is a self defeating policy.”

            Not just the banning of historical revisionism, but in the case of Germany I’m never understand the ‘logic’ behind banning displays of the swastika. Are they afraid that displaying it will risk bringing Nazis back into the sphere of public acceptability? First of all, modern Germany already has Neo-Nazis, so clearly the censorship isn’t stopping them. And secondly the rise of the Nazis was due to a combination of different factors. They (or something like them) indeed could rise again if similar circumstances were repeated. Banning certain iconography or the public voicing of certain views isn’t going to stop them from rising, nor is the mere act of allowing such things going to meaningfully empower such movements. If anything banning them just gives them a persecution complex and makes them more convinced of their beliefs.

            If banning Holocaust denial in France was really just an attempt to stamp down on a specific display of a widespread anti-Semitic undercurrent, than it’s really treating the symptoms and not the disease itself.

    3. Jack

      I’m not really sure what the point of this line of argument is supposed to be. From my perspective it just means that the French Government are in practice utter hypocrites. What a shock! I at least actually do value the principle of free speech, which means neither the cartoonists nor the holocaust deniers should be censored. You should have the freedom to publicly be a contrarian ass. I see no reason to doubt the sincerity of the majority of the nearly 4 million people who showed up to demonstrate. I’m sure if you pressed any of them personally they would admit it doesn’t make much sense to ban certain comedians or genocide deniers while claiming you care about free speech. At worst most of these people are simply naive and don’t think about these things too deeply, that doesn’t mean they don’t genuinely care about the principle. If French media is anything like it is in the United States a lot of them may not even be aware of the gross transgressions their government has committed in terms of censorship.

      1. diptherio

        Where were they all when the French gov’t banned pro-Palestine protests? That’s what I want to know. It seems like the free speech rights of white people who mock and vilify a minority are more worthy than the free speech rights of brown people who condemn injustice and atrocity. The hypocrisy is really quite striking to me.

    4. Lexington

      Once again Hedges nails it. His point about French hypocrisy is well taken but the article is broader in scope and provides some excellent insight into the sources of Muslim rage. The Joe Sacco cartoon from the Guardian that Hedges links to is also be I’ll also brilliant and pretty much reflects my feelings on the subject.

      Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Jim Haygood

    ‘I’m guessing, then, that the Clinton campaign won’t be building on the … populist model.’

    A lobster in every pot, and a Jaguar in every garage!

  3. Martin Finnucane

    I think that we can’t get into talking about Dieudonné without asking what the Saker thinks:

    French comedian Dieudonne was arrested for “apology for terrorism”. He had tweeted “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” (combining Charlie and the last name of one of the terrorists involved in the attacks. Millions will not take to the streets to protect his freedom of speech. They are Charlie, but they are not Dieudonne.”[link]

    Maybe the guy really is a limp-wristed Nazi, or whatever that earlier post might have implied. I suspect, though, that there is something really rotten going on here. The Saker’s take is that the Zionism lobby and the Holocaust industry have a strangle hold on French public discourse. At the very least, one is given pause when there’s a giant march for free speech during the day (attended by Dieudonne, btw) and an arrest of a public personality for exercising free speech that evening.

      1. hunkerdown

        Bingo! It’s always fun to discuss SJWs’ causes using religious nomenclature. The only way to shake people loose from their Exceptionalism is to disregard it.

    1. Sam Kanu

      Dieudonne is a provocateur and satirist. His “Charlie Coulibaly” comment was finely crafted bait designed to entice the French govt into exposing themselves as hypocrites. And unfortunately they bit.

      Moreover, he is son of a French mother and an Camerounian immigrant father. In short, a black man with African origins. In France where that by default puts him on the lowest rungs of the society – the outcast, the downtrodden, the “other”. The perpetual attempts to gloss over this and paint him as an heir to 1930s-1940s white European facist movements is really bonkers. Basically to use that lens is like, well one couldn’t try LESS to understand him.

      In fact he he consistently pushes buttons to provide and expose contradictions and the unsaid. To spectacular effect here. The entire free speech narrative is blown out of the water with his arrest.

      So that leaves us clearly understanding that there really is no principle of free speech in France.

      And that the problems we are witnessing in France are not as simple as many would make them out to be. Some of this is really about their own domestic issues of alienation (which the media promptly recasts as “radicalisation” in a blame the victim perspective).

      That puts the marches and all in a new light as well. Its like almost no one understands this problem and those who do are really the source of the problem.

  4. LaRuse

    I think it is very telling that whoever thought up the Work Slowdown for the NYPD actually thought it would garner sympathy for the NYPD’s cause. Or maybe they didn’t think it would generate sympathy, but that it would fiscally strong arm the Mayor to their demands? Either way, all it has done is reinforce the idea that the NYPD aren’t there to Serve and Protect, but rather Detain and Collect Rents.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      The weird thing is, I read that the mayor was actually FOR the Broken Windows policing (stop and frisk everyone). Yet he said he feared that his son would get hurt in a police encounter.

      Anyway, I haven’t read that NYC has become a combat zone during the slowdown which is really suspension of Broken Windows. Sure looking like BW is using Police as a profit center.

      1. different clue

        ” The cop isn’t there to creATE disorder. He is there to preSERVE disorder.”
        — who said that?

        1. optimader

          “The confrontation was not created by the police; the confrontation was created by the people who charged the police. Gentlemen, let’s get the thing straight, once and for all. The policeman isn’t there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
          Richard J Daley during the 1968 Democratic National Convention..

          A personal favorite: “They have vilified me, they have crucified me; yes, they have even criticized me. ”

          His A-hole son inherited both his name and extemporaneous speaking skills. No so much his dad’s brains (as they were).

  5. Llewelyn Moss

    Re: Charlie Hebdo
    Did you hear CNN reporting they talked to a neighbor of Cherif and Said Kouachi (the killers). A month ago, she said they heard the brothers praying loudly at all hours. They got suspicious. Her husband and another broke into thier apartment and found all the military weapons. But the brothers returned and caught them and threatened them with the guns. They were too terrified to report it.

    The CNN reporter suggested that the poor relations between Muslims and the police is another possible factor that they failed to report it.

    This is not going to help calm the anti-muslim idiots.

  6. Paul Tioxon

    Leslie Gelb wants heads to roll over the diplomatic gaffe, the optics, of not participating in a French march, in Paris over a criminal act committed against the French. As if our absence is a signal, in nuanced diplomatique that the Obama administration has some sort of problem with the French Government, and at its most dire moment of need, a parade of big wigs was slighted by not having Joe Biden or John Kerry lock arms with Hollande. Sacre Bleu! this is even worse than the killings of the French people by Daesh Gangsters!

    The almost beyond belief self absorption of the American Media and Political Class with itself in the midst of someone else’s crisis, to use the crisis as a measure of what value or not the White House places on the victims of these killings, is simply to confirm the American Exceptionalism as THE first among equals in all global events. The last word can not be spoken about the tragedy and grief of the families and people of Paris, scared out of their minds about what attack may happen next, without pointing out something, anything that is happening in America that is the equal to the newsworthiness of what happened else where. In other words, when 130 or more Pakistani school children were massacred, was Obama soft by pulling out of Afghanistan? When Parisians are murdered, what the world needs to know is how the American Government will respond! Never mind that the French news France24 did not mention a peep about the lack of Americans of any rank, they were reporting who was there. What Paris felt, What France felt, not how American media flaks would interpret events. This American Centric mindset is so glaring in contrast to the news coming from someone other than an American source, that you wonder how we can meet other people on their own terms, see them as they see themselves, and not have this monomaniacal vision from the land of the free and the home of the brave, perched high over the rest of humanity in smug self satisfaction.

    1. Banger

      You have to understand that Gelb, like most mainstream “journalists” is a political operative who represents the interest of a particular clique and made those statements as a part of the overall struggle for power going on in Washington.

  7. Banger

    Certainly the CH events turn out to be very convenient for those who want to turn around the “turn around” of Hollande of two weeks ago as well as the movement to move away from Israel in Europe. The events are being mined to increase the European taste for War. I don’t think it will work though.

    As for the for the Josh Marshall piece I can say 2014 was very sobering for me and many people I know on a personal level and, indeed, most have little hope for change or improvement in the political economy.

  8. N.M. DuPlanti

    Re: December Retail Sales

    Food and drink are up. I’m thinking more like last supper, rather than eat, drink & be merry. Ties in nicely with losing hope in 2014, too.

      1. N.M. DuPlanti

        I was thinking more along the lines of “food and beverage now, because who knows if I’ll be able to afford even this small indulgence going forward”. I assume that as times get harder, people will be inclined to spend their limited incomes on satisfying their own needs (eating and drinking) rather than purchasing holiday stocking stuffers. Dining out is just a somewhat more opulent way of obtaining food and drink. At least, that’s my rationale for allocating a few dollars of my extremely constrained budget to the occasional nice steak salad and microbrew or two. My assumption dovetails nicely with people losing hope in 2014, and also with the delayed gratification study Cathy O’Neil regularly references on NC – kids from impoverished/insecure households grab the treats sooner because they live in a world where the treats might not be there later.

      2. optimader

        Olive Garden — groan, shoot me in the head before that ignoble degeneration of “ethnic” cuisine

  9. barrisj

    Right on schedule, today we read of a “foiled plot” on the Capitol involving a 20 year-old chap carrying the banner for ISIL, and his informant cohort, Again, one needs to drill down deeply to ascertain the exact role of the FBI informant, who in fact was closely involved in organising and executing the “plot”.

    ISIL sympathizer arrested in plot to attack U.S. Capitol

    Cornell posted a variety of statements and videos supporting ISIL on Twitter under the pseudonym Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, the complaint contends. Cornell was arrested following an FBI operation involving an informant who had exchanged instant messages in which the defendant discussed conducting an attack on U.S. soil.
    During a meeting with the informant in November, “Cornell indicated that he considered the members of Congress as enemies and that he intended to conduct and attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.,” FBI agent T.A. Staderman wrote. “Cornell specifically planned that he and the [informant] would build, plant and detonate pipe bombs at and near the U.S. Capitol, then use firearms to shoot and kill employees and officials in the U.S. Capitol.


    Wait, the man had posted “pro-ISIL” comments and videos on Twitter under a pseudonym, some other dude then IMs him, then they get together and concoct a “plot”. What’s wrong with this picture?

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Oh geez. FBI entraping a dead-ender to commit a ‘terraist’ act. Right on cue as Obama requests more DHS funding. American Stasi is a well oiled machine.

    2. ambrit

      Every time I read about an informant being involved in a failed plot I think of the Reichstag Fire of 1933, out of which came the infamous Enabling Act of 1933. That made Hitler virtual dictator of Germany. The rest, as they say, is history.
      Also, why don’t we see a better class of ‘Terrorist?’ At least, someone who thinks big. The Anthrax plot, now, that was terrorism for you. Pipe bombs? Kid stuff.

      1. ambrit

        I just read some of what passes for news about the alleged Capitol Bomber. The headline screams, “He had 600 rounds of ammunition!” H—, I know people with ten times that amount. If you count 22 ammo, a few thousand rounds of that alone isn’t out of the ordinary, especially with it being so hard to find. Hoarding as a result of the post School Massacre panic is almost normal now. Gun nuts are seriously worried about upcoming restrictions on ammo. (Which never seem to arrive, but sure have managed to goose ammo prices in general.)
        By the way, 22 ammo used to be easily bought by the ‘brick.’ A brick of 22s is usually 500 rounds, at about twenty to thirty dollars. Military surplus ammo, (Milsurp) can be had in ‘Spam Cans’ of 640 or 1000 rounds, depending on the caliber. Spam Can prices will range from $129.00 and on up.

        1. prostratedragon

          Would love to be able to ask my father about these bricks and cans and stuff. (Well, would love to anyway.) I remember the day in around 2005 or so when he suddenly unclenched from what sitting in an ammo dump in Yokohama at the end of the war, taking inventory, had done to him.

          1. ambrit

            Just sitting around in Yokohama at the end of WWII must have been one H— of a strain. Bitter enders were much worried about. Who knows what there was in that ammo dump. Yokohama is next to Tokyo and a big city and major port in its’ own right. Allied prisoners of war were processed for repatriation there as well. He had to have seen some awful things. How old was he at the time? If he was taking inventory, he knew some interesting stuff, like how many of the Geneva Conventions we were ready to break at the time. (The incident of the chemical munitions ship disaster in the Port of Bari comes to mind. The Allies had a Liberty Ship full of Mustard gas ready in the harbour “just in case.” 1943, and the Germans do an air raid that hits the ship, “John Harvey.” Its’ secret cargo of Mustard gas is partially released and creates havoc. High command covers it up until 1959, but no one really notices until 1967.) These are the kinds of things your Dad might have been dealing with. I’m with Lambert. Please tell more.

            1. optimader

              “..ike how many of the Geneva Conventions we were ready to break at the time”

              I think the Geneva convention largely became a mutual curiosity.

              My dad was a young man serving on the hospital ship USS Tranquility http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Tranquillity_(AH-14) at the end of the war that treated/transporting the gravely wounded from the Island Campaign. As it had the state of the art surgery theater and critical care at the time (controlled atmosphere and a gimbaled operating room) they treated some of the most critically wounded guys.. Notably amongst them, the survivors of the USS Indianapolis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Indianapolis_(CA-35). Burn victims w/ skin that would come off like a bodysuits, young guy w/ no limbs, no genitalia Nerve pain even morphine would not touch.
              He still will only talk in fleeting generalities about it, but the take away is our Government/Military was indeed prepared to do absolutely anything in its power, that said so was the Imperial Japanese Gov/Military.

              One ship with mustard gas? I’ll bet 10 ships w/ mustard gas just to ensure it survived the journey.

              With the he Dogs of War unleashed, contemporary notions it was (should be) any other way is whimsical. All out war=everything in play.

              “Lt. Gen George S. Patton snaps a photo during a demonstration of an E4-5 auxiliary flamethrower on October 25, 1944. Patton was not especially enthusiastic about the American flamethrower, said it was not hot enough.”

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