2:00PM Water Cooler 1/8/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“How to speak Warren”; a translation of Warren’s speech to the AFL-CIO [ABC].

By using 1980 as a turning point in her arguments about the disappearing middle class, Warren indicts Reagan-era “trickle-down” economics. But she makes clear that the presidencies of Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama didn’t change those trends.

As ever, Warren’s good on the cancer. But her policy prescriptions amount to hospice care.

If Warren keeps giving high-profile speeches like her AFL-CIO speech, her supporters will have more than the lack of a Sherman statement to back up the idea that she might be coaxed into a 2016 bid [National Journal].

Joe Trippi: “It looks increasingly to me like [Warren’s] thinking about actually making a run, but at the same time not taking the steps necessary to actually pull it off. She’s got to start putting a campaign effort together or an organization together” [WSJ].

Rubio, in his totally not campaign fodder new book, positions himself as a conservative populist hero, opposed to crony capitalism, just like Elizabeth Warren [National Journal]. “There is only one American Dream.”

Rubio declines to make Sherman statement at National Press Club [McClatchy].

Jebbie to release a decade of tax returns [Politico]. In contrast to Romney. Getting serious!

Scott Walker putting together campaign team [CNN].

Christie’s chances are over-rated: He’s too moderate, lacks discipline, and no longer “electable” (BridgeGate) [FiveThirtyEight].

Santorum floats image rebranding as uniter not divider [Bloomberg]. Hilarity ensues.

The Hill

McConnell claims that “the expectation of a new Republican Congress” gave the economy a boost [WaPo]. So I guess we’re going to factor political polling into dynamic scoring, then? If so, which pollster? Gallup? Rasmussen?

New rules governing the house: Dynamic bullshit scoring, moar Benghazi, fewer Committee reports, no vote for the plantation D.C. [WaPo]. And, of course, gutting Social Security. So what, Dick Durbin, is wrong, exactly, with “gratuitous and wanton” filibusters? They certainly worked for the Republicans! [Talking Points Memo].

Charlie Hebdo

“This horrific murder was not a pious protest against the defamation of a religious icon. It was an attempt to provoke European society into pogroms against French Muslims” [Juan Cole].

“Sharpening the contradictions” is the strategy of sociopaths and totalitarians, aimed at unmooring people from their ordinary insouciance and preying on them, mobilizing their energies and wealth for the perverted purposes of a self-styled great leader.

The only effective response to this manipulative strategy …. is to resist the impulse to blame an entire group for the actions of a few and to refuse to carry out identity-politics reprisals.

Besides the twelve cartoonists, the gunmen killed a police officer (Muslim) and a copy editor (Muslim) [Bloomberg]. Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen takes the high road [Reuters]. Canny. Presidential, even.

“Je suis Charlie” demonstrations, as Parisians hold up pencils and pens in solidarity with dead journalists [Globe and Mail]. Map [Le Monde].

“So we must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day” [George Packer, The New Yorker]. Well, except for the bigotry.

Ron Paul: It’s the West’s overall foreign policy which “invites retaliation.” [Buzzfeed].

Calm demeanor and co-ordinated movements of gunmen suggest professional training (French government videos) [McClatchy].

Hunt for gunmen continues [Guardian]. “A police source told Reuters news agency that one of the suspects had been identified by his identity card, which had been left in the getaway car.” Look! A clue!

Suspect appeared in 2005 jihad documentary [Vice]. More on Sharif and Said Kouashi, the two brothers for whom the French police are searching [Juan Cole].

NYPD Soft Coup

New York courts idle as cops make only “make the arrests we absolutely have to” [New York Times]. I hear the sound of rice bowls being broken….

Again, NYPD’s “broken windows” policing is a revenue-generating tool, and not about justice at all. It’s Ferguson writ large [Gawker]. A tax on poor people for being poor, while malefactors of great wealth walk the streets. Who’s running the country? The Bourbons?

NYPD “New York City police union leaders said they rejected Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership” [Reuters]. Really? Last I checked, DeBlasio was elected Mayor by the citizens of New York. So does the NYPD plan to select a new mayor, Praetorian Guard-style? Of course, if this were ancient Rome, we’d just write the NPYD a huge honkin’ collective check for “overtime.” And perhaps that’s the problem?

Police protests of the past, including 1981 in Milwaukee, similar to the current NYPD protest [Marshall Project].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Geographic distribution of prisoners by county, with handy map: “Florida, Arizona and California stand out as states with sizeable corrections populations in just about every county [WaPo]. The US has more prisons than colleges, or, to put this another way, prison is our primary educational institution.

Ferguson activist DeRay Mckesson on “hashtag activism” [The Atlantic]. IMNSHO, hash tag activism is worse than useless unless it generates events on the ground, in real time and space. But that is what the Ferguson activists have been able to do.


High deductibles lead the insured “middle class” to postpone care [USA Today].

Post mortem on Shumlin universal health care debacle by Dr. Margaret Flowers [Health Insurance Exchanges News].

Class Warfare

In Seattle, correlation between income and vorting for Socialist City Councilor Kshama Sawant strong, but by no means perfect. Handy maps [Seattle Times].


“4 Things to Know Before Your Water Is Privatized” [Next City]. Round-up with sources.

Battle in Portland, OR over privatizing public reservoirs. Cronyism, naturally, is involved [Truthout].

Byzantine complexity in East Orange, New Jersey, as Water Commission executives indicted for concealing the presence of industrial solvents in drinking water [Star-Ledger]. Can’t tell the players without a scorecard. I wonder how often this scenario plays out, nation-wide?

California frackers want to inject fracking water back into the aquifer [Bakersfield Now].

Climate Change

For the first time in recorded history, temperatures in Anchorage did not drop below zero once in an entire calendar year [McClatchy].

Nature study: “Our results suggest that, globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 per cent of current coal reserves should remain unused from 2010 to 2050 in order to meet the target of 2 °C” [Salon (study)]. Well, of course we should leave that stuff in the ground. It’s taboo!

News of the Wired

  • The slow crapification of OS X and iOS [Craig Hockenberry]. Apple would never ship hardware that was missing a few screws. They do that with system software all the time. And it didn’t used to be that way. Straighten up and fly right, Tim!
  • George Harrison on the ukulele, and singing “Ain’t She Sweet” with Paul and Ringo [Open Culture].
  • “In five years you’ll see exoskeletons on the building site” [Guardian].
  • “[S]triking morphological similarities between Martian sedimentary structures in the Gillespie Lake outcrop (which is at most 3.7 billion years old) and microbial structures on Earth” [Astrobiology].
  • RFK speech on violence at the Cleveland City Club, April 5, 1968 [Gizmodo].

* * *

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


When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang…

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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. hemeantwell

    Cole’s claim that sharpening contradictions is a strategy of sociopaths and totalitarians shows a poor understanding of political strategy. Martin Luther King, for example, was quite good at it and at least one speech said that’s what he was trying to do. With a sloppy blanket criticism, Cole misses the fact that MLK’s usage involved nonviolent provocation of violence, exposing the unjustness of laws and the viciousness of those acting in their name. ISIS et al lead with violence, jumping over the important moment of institutional exposure by enraging people to incite intercommunal warfare. They aim to incense and stupify, not expose and alienate.

    1. Ned Ludd

      You may be thinking of Letter from Birmingham Jail:

      Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

      King also applauded the Socratic method, which sharpens contradictions to scrutinize a person’s beliefs. Advancing knowledge, and society, requires “unmooring people from their ordinary insouciance.” As King writes:

      My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation.

  2. McMike

    re crapified OS.

    Dear Craig, you seem like a nice guy, but maybe a little naive, so let me take you by the hand and try to gently lead you into the light. Like this:

    Steve Jobs is dead. Apple sucks. Find a new consumer product to identify with.

    Apple’s brand loyalty and marketing success is being cannibalized, er, I mean monetized. And the people doing it don’t care how much you complain/whine/kvetch/cry about it. They are going to milk it dry and leave its shrunken puckered shell on the side of the road. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. All the knees bent running about in the world won’t stop it.

    There. Understand now? Good.

    You’re welcome.

    1. Dino Reno

      Too busy on the phone with Carl Icahn working out buyback strategies to fix something as mundane as software.

    1. Christopher D. Rogers


      Since the move away from calling their major OS overhauls after “big cats” I’ve not bothered updating my OS, indeed, 10.5 and 10.6 were good stable upgrades, at present I’m on OS 10.7 and OS 10.8 and can’t see me upgrading any higher as most software I use is good on these versions, plus, to put it bluntly, I hate iToy software, which essentially is what the desk top platform has become. CRAPIFICATION INDEED!!!!

  3. DanB

    “As ever, Warren’s good on the cancer. But her policy prescriptions amount to hospice care.” Actually, Warren’s a good fit in the current Democratic Party: what was Hillary fond of saying during the 2008 primary season? “All hat, no cattle.”

    1. jo6ac

      Agree, Lambert the below is a Keeper for sure

      Warren’s good on the cancer. But her policy prescriptions amount to hospice care

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Agree, well put. That describes most Democrats actually. Their diagnoses are quite accurate, but they invariably muck up the treatment, accidentally of course. Their operations are almost always successful, unfortunately patient mortality is very high. Obamacare is a stellar example.

        1. j7915

          The surgeon was great but the operating room staff sucked in their incompetence.
          How is that for another explenation of the Obamacare debacle, essentially I prefer my take: Obamacare is to Medicare what the Bill of Rights is to the Constitution.

          Unfortunately the blue hair brigade and the young, wet behind the ears, little life experience libertarians/randians, are scared that someone will get to the Nickel lying on the sidewalk before they can.

          So they never see the limousines of job creating in China, trickle downers run over them.

  4. hunkerdown

    Why do I get the sense that Monsieur Packer doesn’t agree with the exception you’ve raised? :)

    Contrast with the Saker’s very clear and precise metaphor of what the arrogant bourgeois priesthood playing house with social identity, in their ostensible social function of “preserving culture” (using the state as a cudgel?!) are *in fact* doing here, despite their ever-precious delusions and the air-conditioned comfort of their fantasy bubble:

    what would be the point of, say, taking a nap on train tracks? You don’t have to “agree” with the train which will run you over, but it still will, won’t it? What about taking a nap on train tracks specifically to make a point? To prove that the train is bad? To dare it? To make fun of it? Would that not be the height of stupidity? And yet, that is *exactly* what Charlie Hebdo did.

    The Usenet alt.childfree community of about 10-15 years ago pointed out much the same arrogance in bad parents, who mistook their charge as adjusting the world to their child instead of adjusting their child to the world.

    But maybe all this is what Thomas Jefferson meant by a priest-ridden people never being free.

    1. James Levy

      I’m unclear who you are accusing of being the “priests” in this scenario? Are you arguing the people gunned down yesterday brought it on themselves, had it coming, or were just fools who didn’t see the train coming? And if so, why don’t we all just hunker down to the dictates of the Koch Brothers, Obama, or the NYC cops? They can threaten us with nasty reprisals for stepping out of line, so why not just be “realistic” and not poke at the tiger? Perhaps because the right to metaphorically poke the tiger is the essence of being a free man in a free state?

      1. hunkerdown

        Assuming for the moment the Charlie affair was what it appears to be, let’s set the normativity and desert aside for just a sec. If you take up utility pole climbing as a business, the risk of a really bad fall is inherent in that. If you get in a car or cross the street, the risk of injury or death by another motor vehicle is inherent in that. What’s desert got to do with that? If you make a business out of insulting what people hold sacred, the risk of a physical response from people who do not share your values nor your sense of humor is inherent in that.

        But hey, if it’s considered morally acceptable to celebrate hate speech just because it’s approved by authority, I got nuthin’.

        1. Jack

          I’ve been seeing these kinds of comments all over the place the last couple days. They’re insane.

          “Don’t play with fire if you don’t want to get burned.”

          These attackers weren’t fire, they were people who had the thought process of “a magazine printed a picture I find insulting. I will kill them.” Screw the attackers, and screw anyone trying to rationalize their actions. A dozen people are dead, because they committed the ‘heinous’ crime of printing a cartoon. Maybe they were assholes, and maybe it was a disgusting publication. So what? If you don’t like something, don’t read it. Or protest against it. At no point does violence become an acceptable option. And frankly, I don’t give a good goddamn how precious or sacred someones beliefs are. Your feelings do not, ever, give you the right to kill people. And if you think they do, well guess what, you’re a damn savage.

          I reiterate, this wasn’t fire. This wasn’t a naturally occurring phenomenon that the staff of Charlie Hebdo failed to wear the proper safety gear when handling. These were human beings who decided gunning down an office was an okay response to something they didn’t like. This is as inexcusable as any drone strike on a wedding.

        2. Propertius

          So then you’d be perfectly okay with some gun-totin’ evangelical blowing away Richard Dawkins , Andres Serrano, or Trey Parker for “blasphemy”?

        3. LifelongLib

          “morally acceptable to celebrate hate speech”

          No, we’re morally (and legally) obligated to TOLERATE speech whether we “celebrate” it or not, agree with it or not, whether it’s “approved by authority” or not.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            In American terms, Charlie Hebdo reads to me like another “entertainer,” Rush Limbaugh. But even if Limbaugh is a massive walking, talking Rule #1 violation, that’s no excuse for hitting him.

    2. Vatch

      Were the victims of the Inquisition or witch hunts napping on metaphorical train tracks? Are religious fanatics forces of nature which we must fearfully placate?

    3. DJG

      The exception, the posting at Hooded Utilitarian, tends to adopt the distinctly American rhetorical stance of “I’m So Offended” (very common among white people, for some reason). If we don’t consider that a viable rhetorical stance when taken by Lindsay Graham and Pamela Geller and Rick Santorum, why try to exonerate three attackers of Charlie Hebdo, one of whom has already given himself up?

      Because Charlie Hebdo could be sophomoric and tell poop jokes? For that matter, Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian, offends plenty of our local evangi-fundis. Should Betty be machine-gunned? What about the prophet of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, blessed be his noodly goodness?

      Many of the famous free-speech crusades in the US involve some fairly marginal publicatons and people. Larry Flynt, anyone?

      Being offended and insisting that someone else is a bigot doesn’t allow you to shoot editors, writers, and police officers.

      1. hunkerdown

        “White” and “bourgeois” are mostly interchangeable. That said, moral indignation is part of the bourgeois class identity and has been for quite a while.

        It’s not a question of desert — it’s a question of whether it’s going to happen and whether you’re willing to accept the probable reactions and consequences. I’m not advocating this sort of operation, yet I’m not going to pretend like it doesn’t happen. If you really want to deal with desert… Do the white supremacists drawing jigaboo cartoons “deserve” to have Blacks perforate them? Does the parent who sexually abused their child for 18 years “deserve” to get hot lead for Christmas from their victim?

        What the West has been doing to the Middle East for the past 200-odd years is similar enough in nature that the same processes ought to apply to the question: Do empires *deserve* to get their teeth kicked in by those from whom they’ve stolen?

        1. Jack

          Being part of civilization means you abide by civilizations rules. This means things like laws. Whether a child abuser ‘deserves’ to die or not is immaterial. It isn’t up to the abused to decide that, it’s up to the legal system.

          If we’re talking simple common sense, yeah, the staff of the magazine were morons. They kept printing things they knew pissed people off and also knew that similar things had elicited violent reactions in the past. But that is still ultimately an indictment of Muslims who think violence is an acceptable reaction. The onus is on them to not murder, simple. No one should have to curb their freedom of speech and expression out of fear that the ‘offended’ will physically assault them.

          Be offended if you want, that’s your right. But you don’t have the right to gun down the people who insulted you. And if you think it is your right, then you need to leave France. You aren’t welcome there.

          If you want to immigrate somewhere you need to understand that compromises will have to be made. If you want to keep wearing your native dress, speaking you native language, open a native food restaurant, these are all fine (France was wrong to ban facial coverings). But you have to understand you are a citizen of the country you have moved to, and subject to its laws and mores. If you expect the people of a country to curb their long-held rights out of deference to your personal beliefs then you need to find another country to live in.

          These attackers were savages, pure and simple. Their beliefs are those of a savage, and if you try to justify what they did you are also a savage.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          “White” and “bourgeois” are mostly interchangeable.

          Well, except in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and many social strata in Europe and the Americas. Other than that, spot on.

        3. Propertius

          “White” and “bourgeois” are mostly interchangeable.

          I find this statement both racist and offensive. In your universe, I suppose that means I can shoot you with impunity.

  5. quixote

    “Who’s running the country? The Bourbons?”

    One of the 20th century’s best anthropologists, Ruth Benedict, pointed out long ago that the damage done by the criminal classes in societies is small. It’s the most respected members who do the real damage.

    The Bourbons are part of a long tradition, one modern societies are doing everything they can to uphold.

    History can be read as a long saga of people trying to figure out how to control those in power. We’re not there yet….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How to control those in power?

      Giving the government the (potential) ability to print and spend unlimited amount of money, with the belief it will only use that to help the needy and the poor of course (or it will do so more often than not, cumulatively resulting in a net plus, after subtracting the minus), does not help the people in controlling those in power.

  6. Andrew Watts

    RE: Charlie Hebdo

    I don’t believe Al Qaeda was behind the Paris killings. They’ve had Charlie on their shit list for almost a decade since they started printing cartoons featuring the Prophet. This fact leads me to think it was an IS cell that carried out the hit. There is no love lost between AQ and IS as they’re both struggling for leadership of the international jihadist movement. The militant was probably being snarky when he said to tell the media it was AQ. I also don’t believe we’re the intended audience for this action.

    Hearts and minds.

    1. Yves Smith

      Agreed completely. The argument appears to be “they were good shooters and had military discipline. Ergo, Al Qaeda.”

      Puhleeze. They came from Yemen. Yemen is a failed state where every young male learns how to handle a Kalishnikov at the age of 14. If you are in a society where defending yourself against attacks and engaging in them is part of your daily routine you get good at it or you are dead. The most brutal sort of natural selection.

      1. Andrew Watts

        I’m not ruling out a previous link to Al Qaeda but according to media reports all these connections only extend back to 2011. Too much has changed since then for that to be completely true. Among those drastic changes is the evolution of Al Qaeda in Iraq to the Islamic State, the re-alignment in jihadist loyalties that occurred both before and after the declaration of the Caliphate, and finally the stunning success that IS has achieved relative to Al Qaeda.

        In particular the AQ-Arabian Peninsula franchise.

        Islamic State has made al Qaeda largely irrelevant

        “The group has not been able to send highly trained facilitators to mobilize and equip local cells as we saw in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. Indeed, it has not even been able to deploy professional teams of skilled operators like it did for the 9/11 attacks. Instead, the al Qaeda core has been reduced to little more than a propaganda organization operating on the ideological level while franchise groups and grassroots jihadists have taken the lead in the physical struggle.”

        These observations are from a former member of the US State Department who conducted terrorism investigations and who currently works as an analyst for STRATFOR.

        “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for its part, has sought to conduct regional attacks like the assassination attempt against Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and transnational attacks such as the Christmas Day 2009 underwear bomb attack. The group, however, has been forced to conduct such attacks by dispatching bombers from its own base of operations in Yemen rather than by sending operatives to Saudi Arabia and the West to plan and execute attacks from within the targeted countries.”

        Yet another reason why this is probably not Al Qaeda’s work. We’ll probably never know for sure because of the nature of how terrorist cells work. Any outside communications to/from IS/AQ central would compromise the security of the leadership and members of the local cell. The NSA/GCHQ are good at what they do but they’re not omnipotent… especially when the opposition is taking it’s comsec deadly serious. The Islamic State is the product of a brutal evolutionary process in more than one way.

      2. optimader

        “they were good shooters and had military discipline. Ergo, Al Qaeda.”
        “…Kouachi and his older brother — the main suspects in the massacre at the Paris satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo — moved with chilling calm and precision. Or as the Long War Journal described them: “Hardened and well-trained fighters who may have received instructions at a training facility overseas, or locally in France.”…”

        I’ll just point out, anyone in a room w/ an ak-47 can’t help but be a good shot. It was fish in a barrel unfortunately.
        Is it unfair to also point out that they were so precise in action, disciplined and well trained that they walked in the wrong door., and had to go find the correct one – then had to get back out of the getaway car so one could collect a shoe!

        The organs of State-Media needs callous a-hole murders like this to have the mantle of professional rigor in order to justify the narrative of advancing Police State counter measures.

      3. Working Class Nero

        Just to premise my comment, I’m not comfortable with the fact that the police supposedly found one of the shooter’s identity cards in the getaway car. That is more than enough to set BS detectors wailing. I also find it hard to believe there was not a second attack planned out. It seems to me after hitting a soft target like cartoonists, the Jihadis would want to go out in a hail of fire against a hard military target. So I have my doubts about whether these two guys are really holed up in a forest in Picardy but I suppose we will soon find out if all this is true.

        Be that as it may, and things are still very murky, I do not think it is correct to say “They came from Yemen”. So far what has been reported is that Chérif et Saïd Kouachi’s parents were of Algerian origin and the brothers were born and raised in France. It is not true that Chérif fought in Iraq or Syria as has been reported. What is being said is that Saïd was trained in Yemen in 2011 and that both brothers were both on “no-fly” lists for flights heading to America. If true, then this points more towards Al Qaida than ISIS, since presumably back in 2011, ISIS only existed in the minds of US and Saudi intelligence officers . Also Al Qaida listed the cartoonist Charb on a “Most Wanted” list as recently as 2013:


        That said, in labelling it as Al Qaida one needs to understand that this attack wasn’t necessarily directly order by Al Qaida headquarters. If it turns out to be true that Saïd Kouachi was trained by Al Qaida in Yemen, he could have just been given on open mission to hit Charlie Hebdo (or any other target) when the opportunity arose.

        I’m not sure French authorities have a propaganda interest to favor Al Qaida over ISIS. In fact the current French government’s interest would be to blame all this on the Front National – the target, Charlie Hebdo, had after all close links to the French communist party and had been campainging to get the FN banned, inspired no doubt by the fact the Front de Gauche was bleeding supporters to the FN. Shorter Charlie Habdo to the FN was: Freedom of expression to slander Islam for me — total ban on making economic appeals to the working classes for thee.

        Over the past few weeks there have been a series of smaller attacks across France (Nantes, Joué-lès-Tours, Dijon) where the perps screamed “allahu akbar “ and the authorities downplayed these attacks and called them the work of isolated lone nuts (déséquilibrés in French). It became a running joke among the more cynical denizens of the internet whenever the word “déséquilibrés” was used by a government official. So we are not in a situation where a struggling Socialist government is keen to highlight Islamic terrorism of any stripe. Since Hollande has lost almost all the “francais de souche” voters, his only support is from immigrant communities and their hard-core native French supporters. The current government would much rather highlight some drunk who spray paints graffiti on a mosque that to admit they have failed to stop either an Al Qaida or ISIS-inspired attack.

        In the end I am not sure what difference it makes in choosing between Al Qaida and ISIS?

      4. Andrew Watts


        This operation had a high level of strategic planning and it was carried out professionally as the old man who had his car hijacked demonstrated. The tactical blunder of getting the wrong door only means that whoever planned the attack was not present during it. I don’t believe the perpetrators will be caught due to these facts and the lead time they have bought themselves in executing their escape plan. The woefully inadequate and unprofessional response of the French police is another factor to consider.

        Additionally, the individual (Mourad Hamyd) who had their ID left behind in the getaway car was a false lead. When they were named in the media they turned themselves into the police accompanied by their parents. On the French speaking internet friends of Hamyd are claiming that they were with him at the time of the attack. You can see various comments that are mostly in French on Twitter and elsewhere via the hashtag #MouradHamydInnocent.

        As per their usual performance I give you American intelligence in action. (via MSNBC)

        Earlier Wednesday, two senior US counterterrorism officials told NBC News that one of the suspects in the Paris attack had been killed and the remaining two were in custody. However, the officials now say the information that was the basis of that account cannot be confirmed.


        1. Andrew Watts

          Correction: The media is reporting it was Said Kouachi’s ID that was left behind. Mourad Hamyd was named by French police as the getaway driver. My bad.

  7. Bridget

    Judging by the dateline and the failure to name names, Juan Cole’s article appears to have been written even before anything was known about the identity of the perpetrators. Which sort of calls into question his rather breathtaking conclusions. Unless maybe he has some kind of a mind meld thing going on.

      1. Bridget

        Naming of names would indicate that the attackers had been identified prior to the formulation of Cole’s thesis, and thus something might be known about their backgrounds and possible motivations. But pesky facts are maybe not useful in the shaping of the desired narrative.

Comments are closed.