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Links 12/30/12

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Japanese 115-Year-Old Becomes Oldest Man in History Bloomberg

Toxic rats, mice spur rodenticide battle SF Gate (Aquifer)

Kinder children are more popular BBC

College student gets stalking protection order against parents McClatchy

The top 10 embarrassing tech flops of 2012 Los Angeles Times

Data Brokers: Too Much Information Metadata Era

Jakarta sinking as water supplies dry up ABC (Aquifer)

India Mourns Rape Victim as Police Ready Murder Charges Bloomberg. This is even worse that I thought. Were the perps were operating a rape-mobile?

After tricking the woman and her 28-year-old male friend into boarding the unauthorized chartered bus with dark, tinted windows and heavy curtains, the crew of the vehicle and accomplices assaulted the two over a period of about 45 minutes, stripped them and then threw them out.

But it didn’t help that after the pair was dumped out of the bus, a crowd assembled but it was 40 minutes before anyone called for medical assistance.

Leaders’ Response Magnifies Outrage in India Rape Case New York Times

Banks fear ‘risk to City’ of EU exit Telegraph

City council leaders say deeper cuts will spark civil unrest Guardian (Harry Shearer)

French court says tax is unconstitutional Financial Times

Catfood watch:

US Senate locked in talks on compromise Financial Times

Deal Would Do Little To Shrink Deficit Wall Street Journal

Two Reporters Say The Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Are Going Badly Clusterstock

On the Economics and Politics of Deficits Paul Krugman

Over The Fiscal Cliff – Blindfolded Patrick Durusau and Preliminary Sequesterable Exempt Classification by OMB Account and Type of Budgetary Resource Corrente

A High-Profile Newcomer Keeps a Low One, for Now Wall Street Journal. Her silence as the knives are out for Social Security and Medicare is mystifying.

US Whistleblowers on Being Targeted by the Secret Security State Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

The Economic Consequences Of Banning Semi-Automatic Weapons Econospeak

EPA allowing oil companies to inject drilling and fracking waste into aquifers below Northern Colorado Colorodan (Aquifer)

Barge companies fear Mississippi River shutdown because of water levels CNN (Aquifer). Oh, and there is a fracking connection: Water Fight: Drought, Farming, Fracking And The Midwest’s Tense Shipping Situation St. Louis Public Radio (Lambert)

Questcor Finds Profits, at $28,000 a Vial New York Times

Why Next to No Political Reaction to the Second Gilded Age? Mark Thoma. I beg to differ with Thoma. The US is the most heavily propagandized nation in the world, so a lot of people have been sold ideas, like austerity is necessary, privatization works, and Social Security won’t be there for people under 40, that promote and extend the new Gilded Age without the non-rich backers seeing the connection. On top of that, Americans see themselves as atomized. Individual revolt is futile.

Antidote du jour:

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166 comments

  1. dearieme

    If I were a President bargaining with Congress I don’t think I’d throw them a payrise until agreement was reached. Know wot I mean?

  2. psychohistorian

    What we are witnessing in real time is the Fall of Rome/America.

    How long that fall is going to take is unknown, nor the long term consequences.

    Will our species die out entirely, mostly or will we rise to the challenge to evolve as a species from the class system that rules us?

    I hope it is the latter but am not optimistic that it will happen in what is left of my life. I challenge all to read the 3rd link to the “Kinder children….” study, take the results to heart and help the concepts and results grow.

    I weep for the collective mental illness of class that pervades our species. As a human it is not a legacy that I am proud of. Are you?

    1. SayWhat?

      Actually, the jury’s already in on anthropomorphic climate change, and it’s the game ender for the current go around. Class inequalities are just the icing on the cake, but they were also greatly enabled by the huge carbon based energy flows which have enabled the construction of the current monstrous edifice and which will eventually (actually, rather soon) spell our species’ doom due to more natural causes. Where’s a REAL domino theorist when you actually need one?

      1. tamdint

        nothing’s going to change until DC or the Upper East Side gets leveled by a cat 4/5 hurricane. So as dark as it sounds, if people want “the powers that be” to start changing, pray to the Festivus Pole that the Potomac floods DC and No. Va. soon.

          1. petridish

            Read The Hunger Games trilogy? I know it sounds crazy but the parallels are eerie.

            The new capital will be Denver.

        1. craazyman

          It’s not geographically possible.

          Northern Virginia is un-floodable, since it’s mostly hills and sits a few hundred feet in elevation above the Potomac. The Potomac is not a large enough river to flood any more than a few blocks in Alexandria and some of the DC waterfront, even in a once-in-a-100-year deluge.

          The Upper East Side is mostly non-floodable too, unless there’s a HUGE Tsunami. I read someplace that an island in the Azores might fall into the sea and cause a Tsunami. But it’s likely even that wouldn’t hit the Upper East Side since it would have to go through the Verazanno Narrows, New York Harbor, and about 6 miles of Manhattan. It would get so tired it would stop for a few drinks and end up ordering dinner. I didn’t mention Brooklyn as a barrier because everyone knows nothing could ever get through Brooklyn and it’s not worth mentioning for that reason.

          It’s hard to be a doomsday optimist unless your imagination runs wild — like asteroid strikes or some roving band of alien spaceships with advanced weaponry happening upon our planet and opening fire — with space weapon equivalents of assault rifles. If this were a real threat, you’d think it would have happened by now, since it’s been several million years that life has existed.

          Global warming is mostly a phantom phenomenon produced by Id energy running out of control and overpowering collective imagination since heat and flooding is a metaphor for being overwhelmed by the unconscious. Nobody realizes this, yet. Except for a few hypersensitive individuals who lack all credibility and have no proof of their claim that originates from the scientific method.

          1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Space Aliens do use kinetic weapons – it’s just that they are pretty sneaky about it. We haven’t realized yet that you can steer an ateroid or comet into a targeted enemy planet. (except for a few scientific , but largely ignored thinkers out there) But that’s why the space aliens put the asteroid belt where it is and then send Halley’s comet around every 80 years or so as a show of overwhelming force.

            Unfortunately, our Leaders haven’t picked up on the threat yet, so we haven’t been hearing politicians screaming about the Asteroid Belt Kinetic Missile Crisis. Nor has Obama been trying to find anyone to negotiate with. (if I was him I’d have the CIA find 7of9 – she’s one hot Borg chick – f*ck Michelle)

            Good point about Brooklyn. Tsunumi=Fuggetaboutit was my first thought. But then couldn’t a tsunami sneak into the sewer system somehow and you get the same problem yous all had wid all dat rainfall over der? Den ders dem underwater subways – from Staten Island an’ everywheres else could be a problem fer yous folks der too, I guess. I dunno. Just pointen dat out fer yous all der.

            True bout da global warming. If da sub concious wouldna tink about dat – wouldn’t be any. Dat’s oblivious to me.

            ==================================
            These comments have been approved by Hypothetical_Taxpayer.

            No reality has been harmed in the manufacture of these comments – neither the descriptive kind nor prescriptive kind – and that covers a lot of ground! These comments comply with all applicable post-scarcity regulations. Paid for not nobody, and I mean that in a non-binary logic way. Your computer screen will now be turned back over to you – and also anyone else who is watching.

          2. craazyman

            Oh man, you made me realize the asteriod belt might have come from a space weapon test shot and earth is next. It could be tomorrow, it could be 100 million years. That’s a long time to worry.

            Obama has appointed the actor Will Smith to handle this one and come up with a plan.

            I have finished Dr. Graeber’s DEBT: THE FIRST 5,000 YEARS — 391 pages in 3 days. I bet I read it as fast, or faster, than anyone else, even his relatives. I flew through it like a jet airplane and I can honestly say my arms are tired, but I read every word carefully (except the End Notes, although I did read some of them).

            I will not bore anybody in peanut gallery who reads this with a “London Review of Books” style overview — that sort of tedius and orotund pirouette of soporific solipsistic erudition is not my MO. If somebody wants to mind feed from those bowls of vomit, they are welcome too. And it’s hard to think right now because I’m too shaken up from images of world history Dr. Graeber presents to his reader , massacres, murders, betrayals, wars, slaughters, even individual crimes of hideous perfidy, committed in the name of money and credit. The insanity of humankind is on full display — balanced by images of pastoral bliss among trusting neighbors. I read it all. Also, if somebody thinks they’re clever and think they figure out something about money and credit that seems like an original thought, they’re probably just a bonehead. It’s probably nothing some Chinese guy didn’t figure out in 300 b.c. or some Persian guy and framed it better than we ever have. It’s clear Dr. Graeber understands what money is. It’s also clear they did 2300 years ago in China. What good did that do them? It depends on when it was. That’s what’s so disheartening. It’s all random fluctuations in the nature of psychopathology mapped against certain patterns of political economy that Dr. Graeber identifies and posits like constellations against the swarms of stars, but they at least allow the mind to stop and think and rest its fever. But I do think he misses (or maybe it just wasn’t his theme) a few things about the larger evolution of consciousness that do relate to money and credit. And he does give the Incas a free-pass for genocide but hammers Cortez page after page. If hammering is good for the goose, it’s good for the gander, maybe the Gander is a psycho too for reasons that aren’t irrelevant to money. This is not a criticism. It’s a good book. I can’t help it if I have my own thoughts while reading it even thought some Chinese guy probably thought the same thoughts 2300 years ago. Everybody has to figure it out for themselves for it to work. If somebody is interested in this sort of thing, it’s a book well worth reading.

          3. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

            Holy printing press, craazy! That’s a lot of debt-pages!

            This summer I read a couple of Ken Follet novels, “Pillars of the Earth” (11th century) and “World Without End” (but that was the 13th century). They had money too and people loaning and borrowing it. But then he fluffed it all up and I had to read 1100 pages for each century! Talk about dillution.

          4. kristiina

            Hm, if Jung was right, what we don’t want to receive into consciousness will have to come forth in physival “reality” So, if we can’t surf the rising waters of unknown and handle the inner heat, we’ll be seeing things happen. There’s an article by Jung written in 1918 where he pretty much describes the rise of Nazi regime and what came from that. There’s not much one can do besides art. Surf or sink, learn to us the heat for inner alchemy or crumble.

          5. Glenn Condell

            Craazy. I got both Debt and Econned for Xmas. I hope to get the prehistory from Graeber and the proximate causes (already limned here of course) from Yves; can anyone suggest an appropriate title to round out the trilogy?

            I haven’t started either yet, having just struggled thru Life of Pi (don’t bother) and begun Fraction of the Whole, which is tickling my funny bone.

    2. different clue

      “mental illness that pervades our species”? It is a mistake to mistake modern industrial civilization persons for “our species”. If some alpaca herders on the shores of Lake Titicaca survive a rest-of-all-humanity extinction event, then “our species” is still alive and the future of “our species” will rest in those few strong hands on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

    3. Ruben

      Regarding the kinder children study, when I say that the obvious social solution to the failures of State utopian social arrangenments denounced in this blog day after day, is not a better State utopia but just simple and natural anarchy, I often get the knee-jerk reply “what about conflicts, are they going to be solved at gunpoint” or some variety of the same inanity. The kinder children study, as well as numerous recent papers published in scientific journals and the every day life interactions of all of you people, show that cooperation and kindness, respect, mutual help and the will to punish free riders and malicious defectors, are a natural result of freely interacting individuals.

  3. CB

    Now, Yves, at the very least, you and I are not at all mystified by Elizabeth Warren’s low profile. Probably most of the NC readers are not mystified. Mystification, and radio silence, is DKos territory.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m being uncharacteristically well behaved for now. She does have an excuse for playing mum, which is she is not in her seat yet. So I can’t go out guns-a-blazing yet….

        1. Martskers

          Wait all you want, but I can almost assure you Warren is going to disappoint us, as much as Al Franken has. Name some important way Franken has flexed his supposed “progressive” muscle. Warren succumbed to the lure of a senate seat, where she will be, at best, even if she lives up to her advance billing, a voice in the wilderness.

          She allowed herself to be co-opted and to have her voice muted, if not altogether silenced, by the good ole boy senate apparatus instead of remaining an effective spokesperson for the economically disenfranchised, as she was before she became just another pol.

          1. CB

            It’s kind of an inside conversation, but I’ll just say that I’m waiting on Yves, not Elizabeth–whom I’ve already pegged.

          2. LeonovaBalletRusse

            It’s: “Get in The Club, Get in The Club, Get in The Club.”If you don’t Get in The Club (from lowest ranks) they get rid of you, or they ruin you, or they kill you. And that’s what it’s all about. Louisiana Politics Gone Global (well, “la politique de Richilieu” ya know).

          3. CB

            Yes, LBR, it’s go along to get along or go home–because we’ll cut you off from any goodies for the state or for yourself and we’ll primary you when you’re up for re-election.

            Getting into office puts the club in control. People ought to look more closely at the House and Senate operating rules. Talk about iron fisted dictatorships. And the primacy of cash. This is a very good primer:
            http://www.nextnewdeal.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/bwpaper_ferguson_040811.pdf

          4. danb

            The inevitability of following the party line was pointed out to Warren (here in Mass) in August 2011 when she was “considering” entering the senate race. She literally shrugged off this observation as ridiculous. Just last night at a at holiday party the topic of Warren’s disappointing stances (Iran, Israel, military, silence on austerity) came up. Her as yet unannounced stance on austerity is likely to reveal her -as she was warned in 2011- “as just another politician.” I was encouraged slightly because the progressives at this party were not making excuses for her.

  4. Addicted

    “But it didn’t help that after the pair was dumped out of the bus, a crowd assembled but it was 40 minutes before anyone called for medical assistance.”

    This is solely the result of a complete lack of faith in institutions. In India, the idea that I should call the authorities on being victimized by a crime (such as theft, auto accident, etc.) never crosses my mind. If I am driving a car, and see someone injured in accident, after taking that individual to the hospital, my first response was to get away before the cops could get there

    The reason was simple. Being the person who brought in the victim, I would almost certainly have been the first, and probably only, suspect the cops would have had. Even if I wasn’t a suspect, I would have been made to fill a smorgasbord of forms, detained for several hours for questioning, and possibly even have spent a few hours behind bars, until I was bailed out. The actual justice seeking process would have lasted years, and would have required regular visits to thencourts, and almost certainly significant expenses as far as lawyers are concerned.

    This is what happens when corruption is institutionalized. The US is not as bad, because the corruption is not as widespread throughout the system, but at least the top, as represented by the Congress, is thoroughly corrupt. Unless Americans do something about it, it’s only a matter of time until the corruption seeps through the entire bureaucracy (Americans have already started this process, but in a particularly American private sector way. As an example, are Sheriffs acting as debt collectors. And private prisons paying off judges to imprison everyone who comes their way, including 12 year olds for falling asleep in class).

    1. Dave of Maryland

      If all that is true, then why was there a crowd, and why did no one in the crowd take the victims home to treat them privately? India is not a spiritual place, it’s a damn coarse one.

      1. PunchNRun

        I think the obvious inference from Addicted’s remark is that thre is much to fear from “official” actions regardless of how one gets their attention, and a victim like this in ones home is certainly going to get attention.

        A place as big and varied as India is going to have something for everyone. Ugly, spiritual, rough, sublime etc. But big, crowded cities of homo sapiens have many common characteristics regardless of location and culture. It’s Kitty Genovese all over again.

        1. Fíréan

          There’s a big crowd here, a “witness” to various atrocities committed, albeit in directly, and presented for discussion, but nobody does anything.
          I guess it’s the same in a way, or similar, everyone wants to stand around and witness, have an opinion and talk about the event before them, but who’s going to be the first to step forward do something, to involve themselves ?

    2. from Mexico

      Thank you for this.

      I’ve lived in Mexico for the past 12 years, where the situation is very similar to what you descibe in India. Less than 20% of crimes are reported in Mexico, because so few people confide in the criminal justice system. And like you say for India, the dysfunction only begins with the police. It goes right on up through the prosecutors and judges, all the way to the president, who is arguably the most corrupt of all.

      Without a doubt, the US criminal justice system is rapidly going to hell in a handbasket. If people realized what’s at stake, they might fight harder to keep this from happening.

      I also agree with where the most corruption exists in the United States — at the highest levels of government. In Mexico, corruption is more democratic. Everybody can play the corruption game.

      1. from Mexico

        Also, in the United States corruption is more of the soft variety. It focuses more on the vitiation of ideas, philosophies and belief systems, on the evangelization of the gospel of greed and of money-culture ethics. It’s crime made legal.

        In Mexico the corruption tends to be the old-fashioned variety: theft, fraud, larceny, robbery, assault, bribery (the kind that entails the delivery of suitcases full of $100 bills, not the ‘legal’ kind US campaign finance entails), etc.

        1. lambert strether

          This is my fear, that the corruption at the top will seep downward. I don’t have to pay off the code enforcement offier yet (I don’t live in Manhattan — kidding!) but I can see the day coming…

          If I want to live in a second world country, maybe I should pick one with a better climate. And fewer guns.

          1. JohnL

            Why it’s so important to get involved in democracy at the ground floor- your local town meetings, school board, community water system, whatever, and to fight privatization – charter schools, etc. – which are trojan horses with the theft of democracy from the top down.

          2. PunchNRun

            JohnL is getting at it. Do what you can, when you can, with what you have. Build an independent local community.

          3. Mark P.

            Lambert Strether wrote: ‘This is my fear, that the corruption at the top will seep downward.’

            Absolutely the right thing to fear. Very much too late to worry about it seeping downward, because the corruption has been systemic and has run top to bottom in the last decade.

            For evidence, consider Robert Bales, a fairly representative modern American whose bio is exceptional only for the get-out clause he took advantage of — and that he doubtless congratulated himself on his gamesmanship for using — which has landed him where he is today, facing the death penalty for killing sixteen Afghans.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bales

            ‘After high school, Bales … majored in economics, but did not graduate.

            ‘After leaving college, Bales worked as a registered broker at five financial services firms in Columbus, Ohio.The firms … were reputedly boiler room operations that practiced pump and dump techniques in the penny stock market. He then moved to Florida, where he started a financial company named Spartina Investments … In connection with his trading activities, an arbitrator found Bales liable for financial fraud related to the handling of a retirement account and ordered him to pay $1.4 million in civil damages. Gary Liebschner, the victim, said he “never got paid a penny”…According to Leibschner’s lawyer, they had not pursued legal action against Bales to collect the judgement because they were unable to locate Bales, who had joined the Army 18 months after the long-running arbitration case was filed.

            ‘In 2001, shortly after the fraud, Spartina Investments went out of business. Bales enlisted in the Army that November. Once in the military, laws shielded Bales from some financial obligations.’

          4. Propertius

            If the legal system becomes sufficiently corrupt, it might be better to live in a place with more guns (or at least more in your persona possession).

  5. David Lentini

    About Thoma, I agree that being the most propagandized and self-congratulatory nation on the plaent does a lot to dampen unrest.

    But I think also that the “historian” DeLong forgets a lot of key facts in the history of Progressivism, like, for example, the rise of the Populists and the development of progressives as a Republican (by Karl Rove’s idol Mark Hanna, no less) response to dampen the Populists’ drive for real banking reform. DeLong and Thoma also forget just how long it took before the Populist rage really took hold and bore political fruit.

    I strongly recommend Lawrence Goodwyn’s excellent history, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America (Oxford University Press 1978). Goodwyn describes how Congress, at the behest of the bankers who financed the Union in the Civil War, adopted deflationary monetary policies that, with the extensive land swindles perpetrated by the railroads and banks on the farmers in Texas and the Midwest, left large numbers of Americans virtual serfs. The rise of the Farmers Alliance and its platform for banking reform took nearly 20 years to develop into a national political movement. As Goodwyn notes, the Republicans and bankers, led by Hanna, derailed the movement by offering “progressives” and confusing the economics with the Free Silver movement, and waging an effective fear-based propganda campaign in the cities.

    So, if it took 20 years to launch the Populist movement that led to the Progressives a decade after that, then we shouldn’t be too surprised that barely five years into our current Depression-Recession-Repression.

    What should be shocking is how little economists and historians have offered on the Populist-Progressivist period and our own time. Why are these so-called experts so ignorant or silent about this period and the similarities and differences with our own? Goodwyn argues that many historians have been too swayed by Richard Hofstader’s short shrift of the Populists, whom Hofstader depicts as little more than a mob of rubes who were outclassed by the Progressives. Goodwyn, on the other hand, argues that the Populists correctly diagnosed the rigging of the economy by the banks and the steps needed to end that corruption and create a sustainable financial system. It was the Progressives who kept the corrupt system in place by simply blunting its sharper edges.

    One thing that strikes me about our current situation is how our educational system has left so many intellectually hamstrung in dealing with economics and finance. All of our academic economists, including such critics as DeLong, Thoma, and Krugman, have contributed to a gutting of intellectual inquiry that the Populists exhibited in their movement for true reform of the financial industry. I expect the pain will have to get a lot worse before our business and economics majors start chucking their diplomas and start thinking again.

    1. Brindle

      Thoma does not mention the crucial dimension of the 24/7 propaganda saturation (television) and the numbing down effect that has on the majority who subject themselves.

      There was no such household propaganda churning device during the 1920′s-30′s.

        1. Susan the other

          I think they are bringing us banking reform as fast as they can. But on the QT because they want to maintain their privilege and power. So what is coming? If Japan nationalizes their “private” BoJ system it will be because their exports imploded. This means that the Yen will be devalued, not because they wanted to stimulate exports, but because they had no exports. Balance of trade issues are the fly in the ointment. The more I try to understand banking the more I think it has to be reworked from an entirely different perspective. Who should control the benefits of banking and why?

          1. Susan the other

            Plus I didn’t buy Krugman yesterday when he seemed to be saying that productivity is a wonderful thing and it is set to take off and create a new vibrant economy. He said also that the rich corporations would benefit enormously, but in order for the rest of us to benefit, there would have to be some kind of trickle down … He was so foggy on this I was a little annoyed. I think the whole concept of productivity also has to be reworked because it goes hand-in-glove with banking. And we know where that takes us.

          2. Mark P.

            ‘the whole concept of productivity also has to be reworked because it goes hand-in-glove with banking.’

            Only in the propaganda. The productivity gains from technology that have accrued in recent decades are genuine. The numbers on that are fairly obvious and straightforward to get hold of. Unfortunately, just as obviously most of the benefits of that productivity have been captured by the kleptocracy.

      1. David Lentini

        But I think a real advantage the Populists, and America generally, had was being ignorant of “economics”. Before the post-WWII generations, people knew when they were getting shafted and swindled. Today with our economics and business schools in full flower, Americans “know” that getting screwed is how “economics” works to everyone’s benefit; so they just knuckle under instead of trusting that their sense of outrage is real and valid.

        1. Brindle

          Via television a propaganda shift was taking place in the late 70′ thru the 80′s— the insertion of shows celebrating wealth and privilege—”Dallas”,”Falcon Crest” “Dynasty” etc.
          In the 1960′s the wealthy were often objects of derision on such shows as “Gilligan’s Island” and “Beverly Hillbillies” among others.
          A decision was made a some point increase the veneration and worship of wealth by the plebes.

        2. PQS

          This.

          Everybody in America is so convinced they are “the smart guy” that they don’t even want to hear it when the swindle is pointed out. Nor do they want to believe that everything around them is a sand castle.

          The cognitive dissonance is stunning.

        3. Wendy

          The complaints I (over)hear tell me people are very sure they are getting screwed and swindled, they just think it’s Romney’s 47% doing it to them. And they are pissed off and starting to raise their voices about it.

          1. emptyfull

            Here’s the lyrics to the last song on Van Morrison’s latest album (where the Irish economic collapse hovers in the background of many songs). No video for it to link to unfortunately.

            “Educating Archie”

            You’re a slave to the capitalist system
            Which is ruled by the global elite
            What happened to, the individual
            What happened to, the working class white

            They filled his head with so much propaganda
            Entertainment on TV and all kinds of shite
            What happened to the individual
            When he gave up all of his rights

            Tell you up is down and wrong is right
            Nothing to hang your hat on, can’t even get uptight

            You’re controlled by the media
            Everything you say and do
            What happened to, the individual
            Tell me what happened to you
            Tell you up is down, not able to fight
            Keep you docile and complacent, can’t even get uptight
            Controlled by the media and you don’t know what you can do
            They took away your constitution you don’t even know what happened to you

            Waffle is the language that they taught you, taught you to talk
            But you can’t even get any angle because you forgot how. Keep on walking the walk

            You’re a slave to the capitalist system and it’s controlled by the global elite
            Double dealing with the banks, behind your back, just can’t fight

      2. Dave of Maryland

        When the British wanted to neutralize the Chinese, the addicted them to opium.

        When America wanted to neutralize its own people, they addicted them to TV, and now the internet and Facebook.

        Go ahead. Waste your lives in a stupor, writing blog entries.

        1. Johannes

          “Go ahead. Waste your lives in a stupor, writing blog entries.”

          Which is different from wasting your life in a stupor posting blog comments ….. in what way, exactly?

          1. optimader

            I am growing wooozy as I type. Perhaps I shall assume a semi-reclined position…as ..I…..typpppee moooreeee .ohhhhh this is a good post….ahhhh must have more words…

        2. Aquifer

          Shucks, i always try to come out of my stupor before writing, but as some here attest to, i don’t always (ever?) succeed …

          Yawn, snork, sno ….

      3. from Mexico

        Brindle says:

        There was no such household propaganda churning device during the 1920′s-30′s.

        Factually, that statement is incorrect. The documentary Psywars goes to great lengths to set the record straight and correct that misconception:

        http://vimeo.com/14772678

        That said, however, maybe even Psywars gets it wrong. Even though it says propaganda has been around forever, the first full court press by the scientific ‘engineers of consent’ it speaks of is Wilson’s campaign to sell WWI to the American people. Goodwyn, on the other hand, spends some time in detailing Mark Hannah’s massive propaganda campaign to destroy William Jennings Bryan in the presidential election of 1896, after the bankers had used him to coopt the Progressives.

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        Huh???

        Google Creel Committee. We had a huge and very successful propaganda exercise to get the public psyched to get into WWI. Some tooth-gnashing about it in the 1920s as word leaked out what had been done to the dumb chump public.

        And the Creel Committee used techniques that had already been road tested prior to that date. See my post for a nugget from the work of Alex Carey on this front:

        http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/06/why-dont-americans-take-more-vacations-blame-it-on-independence-day.html

      5. Concerned Citizen

        … or the full flowering of America’s Second Capital of Hollywood: where ‘entertainment’, for both the masses and the rest of the world, made the foreign policy of DC much more palatable.

    2. Klassy!

      Populists deployed some fiery language. Today, to use such language is to risk being labeled uncouth, ignorant, or naive at best; at worst a terrorist in the making.
      Our public discourse has become dominated by the language of business. Cripes, they had some op ed in the NYT the other day making the case for religion and the term social capital was used!

    3. from Mexico

      Another great comment! Thanks.

      In regards to what you said about “the rise of the Populists and the development of progressives as a Republican…response to dampen the Populists’ drive for real banking reform” and how “the Republicans and bankers, led by Hanna, derailed the movement by offering ‘progressives’ and confusing the economics with the Free Silver movement,” I’d like to add that the historian Sharon Smith describes the Democratic Party as the “graveyard of social movements”. It’s something to keep in mind.

      Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of the whole episode you describe is to be found in the person of William Jennings Bryan. Bryan was such an anti-intllectual and so hostile to conceptual thought that he undoubtedly went to his grave not knowing he had been played like a fool by the bankers. I’m sure he never realized that, conceptually, the “cross of gold” he defied being crucified upon was no different than the cross of silver he willingly agreed to be crucified upon.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Some think W.J. Bryan was quite aware he “was being played.” If he had not permitted this, he would have been murdered, and he knew it.

    4. annie

      yes. recall please that delong lauded greenspan’s housing bubble policies right up to the end. who profited. who suffered?

        1. psychohistorian

          When economist start publishing models of American Empire and its effects on humanity I might start listening. Until then they are shills for what is.

          1. Mark P.

            http://michael-hudson.com/books/super-imperialism-the-economic-strategy-of-american-empire/

            Published in 1972.

            Of course, the book did have the unfortunate side-effect of having most of its initial buyers be folks at the State Department and the Pentagon who used it as a how-to book.

            “Never before has a bankrupt nation dared insist that its bankruptcy become the foundation of world economic policy …

            “Effectively speaking, the United States has compelled the older nations of the West to pay for the overseas costs of the US war in Asia. Whatever they may desire, the central banks of Europe had no choice but to continue to except the paper dollar equivalents annually created as the domestic and overseas deficit of the United States increase. Otherwise, the whole of shaky structure of the world monetary system will collapse into rubble. America has succeeded in forcing other nations to pay for its wars on a systematic basis, something never before accomplished by any nation in history .”

          2. psychohistorian

            I sit corrected and apologize for the over generalization.

            Any other exceptions I should know about?

    5. Glen

      Chris Hedges has published a book on his views, “Death of the Liberal Class” which gives Prof. Thoma and Prof. Delong comments an ironic slant since thier very comments would be a good fit for Mr. Hedges arguement, but also provide hope that maybe change is coming.

      As an engineer, I have to admit that I did not pay detailed attention to the economy until it became rather clear in late 2003 that our economy was not “on track”. I believe I called one of my neighbors a f^&king idiot (he was rather offended) for thinking that the housing bubble could never pop (when even I could see that was an accident waiting to happen), and I wasn’t in favor of tax cuts and wars that wiped out our budget surplus after our country had finally been given a chance to reduce the deficit.

      I began to seek out blogs like this in 2008 (once the $hit was obviously hitting the fan) which could explain in detail what was happening. I was appalled with what I found. As it was, I was one of those people in the American public that wrote ALL of my Representitives and Senators telling them not to pass TARP and not to bailout the bad actors, but I, like 99% of the American public, was ignored.

      Now, one has to be a blind fool not to see that our government no longer represents the people, that the Chicago School of Economics is more of a cult than a science, that the Tea Party was co-opted by the ultra rich to deflect public anger from the real problems, and that serious reform is required or we will cease to be America as we know it. I think that things will have to get worse before they can get better, and that Yves comment after the link is as succinct and explanation as one can find.

  6. Can't Help It

    Jakarta sinking? About time, in fact someone should just make it sink already since 10 cm a year is just emboldening everyone to stay the course without doing anything. This is one thing where China should contribute and work cooperatively with Indonesia to build a brand new capital from scratch. It will be a win win for everyone involved.

  7. 123412341

    “A High-Profile Newcomer Keeps a Low One, for Now Wall Street Journal. Her silence as the knives are out for Social Security and Medicare is mystifying.”

    Being one of the lowest ranking senators in an institution that revolves around seniority gives you near zero influence on big matters of policy. And senators don’t really have a bully pulpit to work with ie look at Bernie Sanders, few non-VT non-politicos will know who he is.

    So either EW is a closet pro-austerity when it comes to Medicare/SS or EW is laying low and saving her political capital for later.

    While I like EW, she’s definitely not the liberal savior some people make her out to be—as she’s pretty much signaled that on the campaign trail.

    1. Aquifer

      Couldn’t read the article – not a “subscriber” – but i suspect, being the “solid, sensible Mid Westerner” she was, it sounds like, brought up as, i suspect she is pro-austerity, but she is needed by the party to up its street cred with “progs”, so i suspect she will keep her trap shut – “not sworn in yet” and all that, just as Obama kept his trap shut in ’08 as Israel was beating the crap out of Gaza. The only way she would show her cards now, as Obama did in ’08 re TARP (twisting arms in Cong. Black Caucus to vote yes) was if Party needed her to do that for whacking the safety net, and they don’t …

      1. lambert strether

        This discussion, “Is Elizabeth Warren really a liberal?” in 2012 is eerily reminiscent of the “Is Obama really a liberal?” discussion in 2008-2009. (Of course, since “he took his shirt off!” — an option likely not available to Warren — it doesn’t really matter whether Obama’s a liberal or not.)

        The question could be one of those questions that answers itself, if it even needs to be asked.

        1. Aquifer

          Methinks its a question worth pondering aloud just a bit, in any case, because there are an awful lot of folks out there who still make assumptions based on the label on the package – without bothering to examine the contents ….

  8. leftover

    RE: Why Next To No Political Reaction…

    “This guy [Obama] wants to tell me we’re living in a community? Don’t make me laugh. I’m living in America, and in America you’re on your own. America’s not a country. It’s just a business.”
    Jackie Cogan

  9. Aquifer

    High profile person story – “available to subscribers only” – guess she’s too high profile for me – does she get a free subscription to WSJ? Inquiring minds want to know …..

    1. tamdint

      http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:98Yu3Sh7SaoJ:online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323300404578203570320387106.html+%22High-Profile+Newcomer+Keeps+a+Low+One%22&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

      nothing earth-shattering in the article.

      ….Ms. Warren has sat down for only one interview since her Nov. 6 win, with the Boston Globe. Political analysts see that as a sign Ms. Warren is taking a cue from the known quantities who had gone before her in the Senate.

      “So far, I think she’s looking to those who’ve gone into that body respectfully,” said Maurice Cunningham, a political-science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “But you think about her clashes with Tim Geithner” as head of the bailout panel, “and you just wonder how long that can last,” he said…..

      1. citalopram

        I’m sure they have Elizabeth Warren strapped down in a chair for re-education purposes. No doubt they’re showing her a loop of the Zapruder film until she signs those papers.

    2. altoid

      Just modify the URL that is shown, taking off all the garbage at the end and leaving the “real” url. Then hit enter. Wall goes away, so I’m told.

  10. scraping_by

    No Progressive response? Losing Christianity is part of that.

    The agrarian Populists used Evangelical imagery and Revival rhetoric to energize the rural population. And Dorthea Day and the Social Settlement movement was specifically Catholic in its goals and membership.

    Today, Christianity in America is pallid infotainment, giving the supernatural short shrift, accepting Freud as a measure of community, allied to TPTB in the name of relevance, and full of traps for time and money. It’s as much an Established Church as ever the COE was.

    Not going to get much juice out of that quarter.

    1. Aquifer

      Methinks that there is a “Christian left” but it is getting battered by all sides – the hierarchy of organized religion sees “liberation theology”, an energetic force in LA movements, e.g., as a threat and here “lefties” routinely revile, at worst, or mock, at best, anyone who dares to admit (s)he “goes to Church”. The powerful energies that can be, and have been, enlisted by following the “commands” of the Gospels, as exemplified by the actions of the Berrigans, e.g., are rejected by a left that refuses to see anything other than the atrocities committed by the dicta of the hierarchy which are often diametrically opposed to the dicta of “the Word”. So that Left wants all that energy devoted to the “class war” dogma, instead – a war that has no place for “religion”.

      But in rejecting those energies, this Left fragments and cripples itself, IMO ….

      But hey, what the heck do i know, i have to get ready for Church ….

      1. psychohistorian

        I am all for bringing the MYTH of religion forward into the new world but want to leave behind ANY FAITH BASED social prescriptions.

        Give me a wholly secular social organization, possibly similar in ideals to the one that started with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM

        1. Aquifer

          Methinks all “social prescriptions” are “faith based”, faith in some system or other – for that matter so is “science”, wherein “truth” is self referential – defined as that which can be verified by the scientific method. But there are many kinds of very useful, fundamental “truths” which can’t be squeezed into a test tube, that are, sadly, jettisoned once “faith” is removed from the picture ….

          I am a Jamesian pragmatist – truth is that which works, works to make “sense” of things, works to give meaning, etc. If you haven’t done so, check out his “Varieties of Religious Experience” – if you don’t want to wade through the whole thing, which, IMO is rather interesting, at least read the last chapter …

          1. psychohistorian

            I did NOT say anywhere that the antithesis of faith is science, you did. Please don’t ascribe meaning to my words that are not evident.

            I believe that REASON works among humans where faith and science come up far short. That said, of the two, I will take science over religion any day.

            I keep saying to the religious folks that when they can come up with a theology within their faith that describes intelligently the hexagonal cloud formation on the south pole of Saturn I might start listening again……grin Until then, take your man made gibberish and crawl back under that un-Enlightenment rock from which you came.

            I was educated by the Catholic church for 12 years, 4 with the Jesuits. Religions have some great moral “myths” that are currently not being honored by those ascribing to faith like “Thou shalt not kill”, etc. BUT, IMO they are worthless and misguided as rules for a secular social order in our current class based world of ongoing inheritance and accumulating private ownership of everything to a few.

          2. Aquifer

            PH –

            ph – “I did NOT say anywhere that the antithesis of faith is science, you did. Please don’t ascribe meaning to my words that are not evident.”

            I never said you did say that, nor did i, for that matter ….

            ph – “I believe that REASON works among humans where faith and science come up far short.”

            Ah, but “the heart has reasons that Reason knows not of” …

            ph – “when they can come up with a theology within their faith that describes intelligently the hexagonal cloud formation on the south pole of Saturn …”

            They were never designed nor intended to perform that service ……

            ph – “Until then, take your man made gibberish and crawl back under that un-Enlightenment rock from which you came.”

            Hmmm – it’s tough to admit that one has to have “faith” in Reason, isn’t it?

            ph – “IMO they are worthless and misguided as rules for a secular social order in our current class based world of ongoing inheritance and accumulating private ownership of everything to a few.”

            Well maybe that’s another reason to eschew a “class based world” ….

            I, too, was “educated” by the Catholic Church for quite some time – threw out the whole shebang for awhile, then re-examined it and found there was a baby in all that bathwater …. read some Campbell, some James, and perhaps even some (Karen) Armstrong – one’s world can expand – there is more than one way to be “enlightened” ….

          3. psychohistorian

            Aquifer,

            Too much BS and lies to respond to…like you never said science was opposite faith in your text….grin

            Have a nice life of faith that lets you not take personal responsibility for your actions….not for me.

          4. Aquifer

            PH -

            My, my – a bit touchy, aren’t we?

            As for “BS and lies”, hmmm – please do point out where i said science was “opposite” faith – even your RC teaching never said that, did it? Mine didn’t ….

            There’s your problem – you weren’t paying attention all those years, were you, when they stressed the importance of personal responsibility, “free will” and all that ….I did pay attention to that …

            Is your riposte a good example of “Enlightenment” Reasoning?

        2. Glenn Condell

          ‘Give me a wholly secular social organization, possibly similar in ideals to the one that started with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM’

          Me too. How we run our collective governance ought to be free of all religions, just as it ought to be free of other preferences like say heterosexuality over homosexuality (or asexuality if you want), baseball over gridiron, or indeed the Mets over the Yankees. Live and let live, to each their own in their own little spheres (or large ones for that matter) but keep that sand out of our gears thanks.

          I am not a believer but know and love plenty who are. The faiths I tend to respect more are those who speak only when spoken to, and quietly then. So I have a problem with evangelicals and Islam of the proselytising kind.

          Get offa my cloud!

      2. knowbuddhau

        Ain’t that the truth. I wandered into a very nice discussion of that yesterday on Twitter, in the context of discussing New Atheism. I always love it when atheists practice their faith with religious devotion.

        I don’t think most who so zealously call for the abolition of religion know WTF it is or how it functions in human nature. Yes, the Big 3 have given it a very bad name. But to equate them with all forms is a huge mistake. (Richard Dawkins, I’m looking at you!)

        It would help if we could agree on a definition of religion. I use Joseph Campbell’s:

        3. The third function of a mythological order is to validate and maintain a certain sociological system: a shared set of rights and wrongs, proprieties or improprieties, on which your particular social unit depends for its existence. [Joseph Campbell’s “Four Functions of Myth”, from Pathways to Bliss (Novato, CA: New World Library), pp 6-10.]

        It’s a way of organizing, maintaining, and promoting a particular social order. Good luck excising that from society!

        One of my biggest reasons for hanging out here is the frequent discussion of the religious nature of economics as currently practiced. Then there’s fundamentalist scientism: the unscientific belief that Science is the one and only avenue to Truth (whatever that might be); that if you don’t utterly disregard every shred of humanity in your ananlysis, it’s crap. And I’m told that, in the South, football is a religion.

        1. Jim S

          Agree with your comments on social order. In the end the replacements for religious morality are just too intellectual in the face of materialism, but for that matter religion hasn’t fared all that well against it either (and such things as the “prosperity gospel” just make me ill).

          In one sense the old defenders of morality were right: America has been destroyed. Only, it’s been successively replaced by less cohesive, more pliable versions of itself. We may not have turned out Commie like they feared, but I suppose there’s more than one road to totalitarianism, and more than one flavor of it.

          1. knowbuddhau

            It may be too late to reach you, but here goes anyway.

            One thing that really strikes me about many on the Left, is the presumption that the power of myth: to bring into being the world stage on which we’re all playing our ever more notorious parts; does not apply to us. We think we’re so damn scientific that we’ve escaped that primordial force for organizing human psyches and societies.

            What better way to jack us around, then, than by that same power? People barely take PSYOPs, the surreptitious theft of our free will, seriously. They can’t even imagine MYTHOPs.

          2. Aquifer

            Good observation – the Myths, especially the archetypes on which they are based, function whether we “agree” to them or not – we reject them at our peril, ISTM ….

        2. Aquifer

          Good reference to Campbell – am a big fan …

          I would say, however, that the 4th function is the most significant for me …. And i would agree with him that the 1st and 4th functions have not been adequately attended to by “secular” institutions …

        3. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Campbell was a very good soldier. He began with the USIA, didn’t he? He received his reward on Earth. And think of all those female student idolators.

        4. psychohistorian

          I don’t believe that is required that all myth stem from religions, which seems to be what you are saying.

          I believe in the myth of awesome ignorance. Knowing that there is a hexagonal cloud formation on the south pole of Saturn that we are clueless about the formation of makes me humble. And from that humility I don’t go out and preach that our fragile planet is ours to rape and pillage like the major religions…..and to kill all those who would disagree.

          Will we get a dose of humility before we exterminate ourselves? It doesn’t seem likely given the hold religions have on our world….even as those believing in such contradict their own myths with their killings and lack of compassion.

          1. knowbuddhau

            Thanks for the reply. Hope I’m not too late.

            So sorry, but I don’t think you understand the meaning of a myth. You’ve got it bassackwards. Did you miss the part where it says, “3. The third function of a mythological order…”? Religion is a subfunction, and not even the most important one at that, of a mythological order.

            What is your definition of a myth?

          2. psychohistorian

            According to the 1966 Websters my sister gave me for HS graduation:

            myth (mith). n,[LL mythos; Gr. mythos, a word, speech, story, legend], 1. a traditional story of unknown authorship, ostensibly with a historical basis, but serving usually to explain some phenomenon of nature, the orig of man, or the customs, institutions religious rite, etc. of a people: myths usually involve the exploits of gods and heroes: cf legend. 2. such stories collectively; mythology. 3. any ficticious story. 4. any imaginary person or thing spoken of as though existing.

            I especially like 4 and consider religions to fall into that category. But as I said elsewhere, I believe that some of the myth of religion has value but just not for proscriptions about social organizations. I would further contend ( pet peeves ) that if those of faith truly believed and embodied their myth, we would not have all the killings of others, nor our class system of inheritance and ongoing accumulation of property to a few.

            So I say, lets take the parts that stand to reason and move forward to build a truly secular social organization that has a motto of E PLURIBUS UNUM instead of IN GOD WE TRUST.

          3. knowbuddhau

            Whew, glad I’m not too late.

            I still don’t think we’re using “myth” in the same way. I’m not sure how I’ll get there, but I want to end up telling you about that phrase, “E Pluribus Unum.”

            Believe it or not, your first reply speaks of the first function of a mythological order: to awaken in the individual a sense of wonder at the tremendous mystery that is the cosmos from which we arise. You go on to express the power of myth, as I understand it.

            I don’t believe that is required that all myth stem from religions, which seems to be what you are saying.

            I believe in the myth of awesome ignorance. Knowing that there is a hexagonal cloud formation on the south pole of Saturn that we are clueless about the formation of makes me humble. And from that humility I don’t go out and preach that our fragile planet is ours to rape and pillage like the major religions…..and to kill all those who would disagree.

            Will we get a dose of humility before we exterminate ourselves? It doesn’t seem likely given the hold religions have on our world….even as those believing in such contradict their own myths with their killings and lack of compassion.

            The awakening of a sense of humility gives context to your actions in society, right? That is, it informs the world stage on which you act. Your actions take shape from this first principle, of an admirable humility in the face of a tremendous mystery.

            The fact that political leaders have for eons hidden their pursuits of power and dominance behind the archetypal forms of mythological orders speaks to the power of those symbols and narratives: to bring into being the world stage on which we act. The problem being that they’re selfish intentions bring into being a world of pain for the rest of us.

            The Big 3 are, of course, very patriarchal. Even Buddhism suffers from the same distorting influence wrought by the social order in which it arose. The Buddha, for example, right from the start, relegated nuns to a lower status than monks. This is a failing of the person, acting within a particular social context. We must be careful not to chuck the baby with the bathwater, right?

            Moving on to your definition of myth.

            According to the 1966 Websters my sister gave me for HS graduation:

            myth (mith). n,[LL mythos; Gr. mythos, a word, speech, story, legend], 1. a traditional story of unknown authorship, ostensibly with a historical basis, but serving usually to explain some phenomenon of nature, the orig of man, or the customs, institutions religious rite, etc. of a people: myths usually involve the exploits of gods and heroes: cf legend. 2. such stories collectively; mythology. 3. any ficticious story. 4. any imaginary person or thing spoken of as though existing.

            I especially like 4 and consider religions to fall into that category. But as I said elsewhere, I believe that some of the myth of religion has value but just not for proscriptions about social organizations. I would further contend ( pet peeves ) that if those of faith truly believed and embodied their myth, we would not have all the killings of others, nor our class system of inheritance and ongoing accumulation of property to a few.

            So I say, lets take the parts that stand to reason and move forward to build a truly secular social organization that has a motto of E PLURIBUS UNUM instead of IN GOD WE TRUST.

            1966? Wow, that’s almost as old as I am (b. 1964). It bears as much resemblance to my understanding of the term as a dessicated organism, preserved in a collector’s case, does to the real thing. But I think I can work with it nonetheless.

            You like (4), and consider religions to be as it says: about an imaginary person or thing spoken of as existing. Even when I substitute, I still don’t understand what you mean by “the myth of religion.” In that phrase, are you using myth to mean “fictitious story,” or more charitably, “narrative”?

            I take my definition of myth from Campbell: a myth is a metaphor for a way of being human in the world. A metaphor, in turn, is literally a vessel for going from ignorance to understanding. Therein lies it’s power.

            In the hands of political leaders, the power of myth amplifies their intentions. As the barely civilized apes that we are, those intentions usually tend toward dominance.

            You concede that their may be some value to “the myth of religion,” but you don’t want it to be used as a source for proscriptions about social organization (even though, as we’ve seen, that’s what you yourself do: your admirable humility sets the stage for your actions). You blame the failings of people of faith, saying that but for those failings, we wouldn’t have “all the killings of others, nor our class system of inheritance and ongoing accumulation of property to a few.” You prefer “Out of Many, One” to “In God We Trust.” In that, at least, we are in wholehearted agreement.

            You seriously blame organized religion for class? You seriously think class has arisen in the short time that we’ve had organized religions?

            I think it’s far more plausible that our class systems come from our evolutionary biology. Every troop of apes has hierarchies of dominance. The progeny of the dominant males and females, I remember one study saying, end up better off than their subordinates. No surprise there. They certainly don’t need “the myth of religion” to accomplish that. They just need to be the biggest apes in the neighborhood.

            To bring this to a conclusion, let’s discuss the meaning of “E Pluribus Unum.” I am so glad you brought it up.

            “From the many, into the One.” Campbell thought that that phrase embodies the very most fundamental lesson of being human. All the best myths, about people who give themselves up to be sacrificed for the greater good, pivot around it.

            It’s exemplified in breaking bread. Many things, indeed, the entire universe, goes into each unique loaf; but for us to benefit from it, it must be again be broken into many pieces. That is the fundamental order of the universe: out of chaos, into order, and back again, repeat ad infinitum.

            It’s a vastly more powerful organizing principle than the sectarian “In God We Trust.” Notice how political it is. It makes one wonder, what god? who are “we”? how do we express our trust?

            It amounts to what I like to call a mythop: the perversion of the power of myth for political ends. It seeks to define a polity based on a shared belief in the primacy of a cosmic patriarch. Gee whiz, wonder how that came about?

            Crap, I’ve spent so much time on this that, if I wasn’t too late when I began, I probably am by now. Oh well, that’s what happens when you follow your bliss.

          4. psychohistorian

            knowbuddhua,

            I do blame religions, not for the class system directly, but for ongoing support of inheritance and accumulating private ownership of everything to the few….from which stems our class system, IMO

            I read history as having this devil embrace between the Xtians and the inheritance/accumulating private ownership gang occurring around the Enlightenment period. If it hadn’t happened I believe that religions would be much further along the becoming myth like paganism path.

            Maybe we should coin a new acronym as an extension of YMMV (your mileage may vary) and say YMDMV (your myth definition may vary)…..grin

            Thanks for engaging in our textual white noise sharing.

            AND as a closing snark to the Catholics out there. So when the pope tweets now, is he infallible?

        5. Aquifer

          PH –

          ph – “I believe in the myth of awesome ignorance”
          You think our “awesome ignorance” is a “myth”? In what sense? Which function of myth does “awesome ignorance” fill?
          ph – “And from that humility I don’t go out and preach that our fragile planet is ours to rape and pillage like the major religions”

          So before you knew about that hexagonal cloud, you had no humility? Good heavens, what DID you get out of that 12 years of RC education? Hell, if there’s one thing RC teaching pounds into one it is humility ….. Did you get that “rape and pillage” thing from the Jebbies?

          ph – “Will we get a dose of humility before we exterminate ourselves?”

          Not from the “class war” paradigm you won’t …..

          1. psychohistorian

            Your BS and misdirection is expected from those of faith. Lets try my questions again.

            Must all myth necessary for a working social order come from religions?

            I argue that the myth of awesome ignorance of our existence in the cosmos and the humility it engenders is far better than the man made ones of religion. Please tell me why I am wrong.

          2. Aquifer

            PH –

            Hmmm – I only saw one “question” in your previous post, other parts were statements of your “beliefs”, or more correctly your disbeliefs, as in “I don’t believe that is required that all myth stem from religions.” As to the question – who knows, but methinks humility is not nourished by belittling others …

            What DO you believe? Or have you no beliefs, as to believe something means having faith that it is so, and we can’t have that, now can we?

            As to the question in your current post – No, of course not – my “beef” is with those who argue that it cannot ….

            As to your argument that your “myth of awesome ignorance”, whatever that means, is better, ISTM that “argument”, at this point, consists of your statement that this is so and in that spirit i am perfectly willing to accept that this may well be true for you – far be it from me to trash your beliefs ….

            At this point, i do not expect that you will answer my questions – however that is not something i would have expected from a voice of Reason …

          3. psychohistorian

            If I understood your non answers to my questions

            1. Don’t know

            2. I think you said that man made myth of religion is better that myth based on my awesome ignorance and subsequent humility of our place in the cosmos. Does that mean you are really F. Beard “reborn”….grin and will be quoting scripture to us next to prove your faith?

            I had a good nap. How was church?

          4. psychohistorian

            I guess I want to add that I am not into reverting to paganism but believe a secular social order can be built that admits what we don’t know and is based on that humility. Rule of law could be such a tool if anchored in reason and understanding of the weakness and tendencies of our species and applied justly.

            I want mankind to evolve and leave the trappings of our ignorance behind us. I see the inherited rich and the big religions in a devils embrace of self justification that is taking us into extinction….maybe a good thing for the cosmos but not for our children…..I didn’t make any but still feel some personal responsibility for our species.

          5. Aquifer

            PH -

            Why is “I don’t know” as an answer to your query about whether we will develop enough humility to keep from self destruction a “non-answer”?

            It does seem to me that, based on your answers to knowbuddhau, you equate the concept of “myth” with that of a fairy story and dismiss its significance, at best, or revile it, at worst – unfortunate ….

            I still do not know what your “myth based on awesome ignorance” actually is …

            You seem to be the one quoting mottos here, not I … as to F. Beard, I speak not for him/her nor (s)he for me …

            You have no idea why i go to church – yet you mock me for it – perhaps you see your function as inducing humility in others …

            You wish to leave the trappings of ignorance behind – I would think it would be better to leave the ignorance itself behind, but that is just me …. In any case, a true humility, ISTM, would admit that we are, indeed, and always will be, fundamentally ignorant of “First Causes” and “Final Ends” …. but we will nonetheless continue searching for them, for some reason, using different methods – the physicist, the mystic, the shaman speak of the same ineffability in different languages ….

            Your concept of the “big religions” seems to me a rather superficial one in the sense that you don’t seem to ken their profound understanding of the human condition as expressed by the archetypes that lie within them – but methinks, for that matter, perhaps neither do their “priests” :)

            “Science” can be used for evil as well – is that a reason to reject it?

            At least perhaps, in all humility, you might admit there ARE stranger things under heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy ….

        6. Glenn Condell

          ‘ I always love it when atheists practice their faith with religious devotion.’

          I should have added proselytising athiests to my list above, Dawkins and the late Hitchens being exhibits A and B. Higgs of boson fame (an athiest) said the other day that Dawkins embarrassed him. Not sure ‘embarrassment’ is the word I’d use when I see Dawkins houndng some poor believer.

  11. j.s.nightingale

    On Britain’s recurrent threat to leave the EU:

    So if all those foreign banks jump ship and migrate to Frankfurt, then Britain would be compelled to re-direct its economic efforts to delivering real physical value with a greater participation of actual Brits, as opposed to the current financialized ‘value’ that seems to enshrine the UK as as much a 1%-99% polarized nation as is the US.

    Scotland’s resolve to depart may be stiffened also. The problem will be what to call the remining rump of Wales and England. I suggest Wanglia. Or simply the Untied Kingdom.

    1. Chris Rogers

      As a Welshman,

      Let me put it bluntly that many of us actually residing in the ‘Principality’ do not wish for any association whatsoever with an England dominated/ruled by the City of London.

      Indeed, it would be a blessing if the entire stinking corrupt City of London were to be deluged by a huge volume of water caused by global warming ASAP and its ruling elite with it.

      As it stands, I’d rather be a poor humble and honest Welshman than one of our Nation’s monied hero’s who’s wealth is largely stolen from ourselves and poor persons the world over.

      Another idea would be to build a rather dangerous nuclear power station and petrochemical plant in the City – at least this would add a little value to UK PLC.

        1. Chris Rogers

          As a Celt,
          The answer must be a resounding ‘NO’.

          One should also add I feel sorry for many of the English, particularly those North of the Wash, who are forced to endure all and any shit emanating out of London and our ‘Corrupted’ Westminster political charade – is it any wonder now that many consider Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators as heros rather than villians.

  12. dearieme

    And yet on a blog comment somewhere I described the US Constitution as a very fine business plan and people seemed unhappy.

  13. Marianne J.

    Regarding the India gang rape story, the one super important piece of information is missing from nearly all stories about the alleged crime; the wildly skewed gender ratio imbalance.

    Too many men make for a dangerous environment for women, and pervert the men in the society. What hope of being a good husband? What hope of having a meaningful relationship with a woman? What hope of being a father? What hope of having a healthy sex life?

    So much pride in continuing the male family line, only to see that a great number of family lines will die out in a male-dominated society within a generation.

    1. psychohistorian

      I suggest you go here: http://www.geohive.com/earth/pop_gender.aspx

      Review the data and come back with more wisdom about widely skewed gender ratios and the potential implications…..look at UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Heck, China is worse than India….but maybe they suppress all the reporting of their rapes, I don’t know.

      1. lakewoebegoner

        saudi arabia;s the biggie. No booze, really high youth unemployment, gender imbalance, legalized polygamy (IIRC), absolutist monarchy, and radicalized Islam.

        gee what could go wrong?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      After all, “blood thinners” are rat poison “in moderation.”
      PetroChemAgriPharmaWar INVESTMENT: “the human body as its marketplace.”

      1. different clue

        Midway through the article it said that the rats and mice die slowly enough that all kinds of predators have a chance to catch them, eat them, and then die.

        With so many rodent-eating predators dead, the surviving rodents are free to be fruitful and multiply, therefor inspiring more people to buy more rat poison to kill more predators with slow-poisoned rodents. Thereby setting even more rodents free to breed some more and inspire yet more people to buy yet more rat poison etc. etc.

        The rat poison makers and their supportive government agencies probably know exactly all about this and are probably secretly encouraging predator killoffs deliberately on purpose in order to breed more rats to sell more poison.

    2. Aquifer

      You have to get the vampire squids to eat the toxic rodents – so can we get Blankfein to eat Corzine? ….

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the world’s oldest man link:

    Kimura was a disciplined, serious man when he was younger, Miyake said. Even when he drank with his brothers, he would sit straight and keep quiet, Miyake said.

    He sounds like a Zen man.

    I don’t see green tea mentioned, but I’d like to say that a lot of the ladies in our Chado school are over 90s.

    That reminds me, time for matcha!

  15. rjs

    re: allowing oil companies to inject drilling and fracking waste into aquifers below Northern Colorado

    injecting frack waste under ground has been definitively linked to earthquakes in oklahoma, arkansas, texas, ohio, and elsewhere

    1. Aquifer

      What struck me about that piece was the rather cavalier manner in which they admitted they were polluting what they knew were potable aquifers – trading drinking water for waste water – i really am beginning to believe we are too absurd a species to survive …

  16. kevinearick

    Crowd Sourcing in Time vs. Your Moment in Frequency

    Producing the odd Newton is one thing; breeding Newtons on average is another. The equal operator is the relative pivot of force, within which all other operators dwell, with gravity as the relative time-dependent counterweight. Peer pressure is the distillant, which depends upon your perspective of self. Funny what happens when responsibility walks into a room of ignorance, which may be perceived as bliss to the individual, right up until it becomes the majority.

    If you employ trust and faith as the negative feedback locally, to balance peer pressure globally, the pyramid inverts, automatically dispensing all the middlemen to your pension, good health. The breeder has reached threshold ignition, the key to catalytic conversion has been turned, and whether you choose to take a seat or become part of the fuel mix is up to you.

    Go ahead; regulate free speech. Plainly, the empire, the majority, has rewarded failure and penalized success to the point where only failure is accepted within the empire, monetized by the Fed, its crystallized scapegoat. For the kids that want to see the future, failure by majority rule is not an option.

    Only the hypocrites line the lines now, waiting in line, to get in another line, while the rules of the line change, so its operators may comfortably cut in front of the line, opinion leaders leading their followers to the demise of all. Voltage is relative. Induction is not currency dependent, despite the empire’s best attempt to prove it so with increasing rule complexity, for which the only possible outcome is arbitrary, capricious and malicious tyranny, make work.

    The difference between accounting firms and labor is the difference between controlling monkeys fighting over a typewriter and experience delivering economies. Decision makers are like diapers. As real war approaches, and it always does, the conductors of false wars are swapped out. That much the US Navy knows, from decades of experience. How labor gets from point A to point B it can never know. Swapping out Navy education is just the beginning.

    Capital could care less about the absolute price of the S&P. All it cares about is whether it is free to issue stock, to print money, to serve the bond. The price is whatever maximizes its ability to do so, and it’s not doing too well. If the S&P were not a rigged casino, a feudal system competing for control as the means to its end, the fluctuations would be fluid and buy and hold would not be the false assumption.

    If you had loved your children more than yourself, you would not be dependent upon the worthless empire pension promise now. To error is human. To make the same mistake repeatedly is mechanical, empirical. Now stand in front of the machine of your own making and expect it not to run you over, because you were loyal to it for so many years, taxing your children out of the future to maintain the fantasy world of yesterday for yourself. When you have successfully eliminated free speech, complain as you go over the cliff.

    Gold didn’t serve Moses; Moses served gold. And as you can plainly see, nothing has changed much within the empire. Gravity is gravity is gravity, no matter how you dress it up.

  17. Hugh

    Economists like DeLong and Krugman are Establishment liberals. They talk about problems but never the system nor their own role in promoting that system. What insights they have are constantly betrayed by their allegiance to the current system and the Establishment which runs it. They never complete their analysis. They take their criticisms and go so far but no further. And then they revert to wagging their finger at those crazy Republicans. Is it any wonder that nothing comes of their musings?

    But it by no means stops with them. Bill Black talks about criminality in the system, but he will not talk about the criminality of the system. The same with the MMTers, they can not see that MMT principles work as well to loot as to build or that their prescriptions are not people centered and carry too much corporatist, neoliberal baggage.

    Then there is the media. In the mainstream media, journalism is dead. It’s been dead for years. Now we have infotainment and propaganda. If you want this from a Democratic noise machine, you can watch MSNBC. If you like it from a Republican one, there is FOXNews.

    Your tastes go a little further afield? Our powers that be have astroturfed groups to fit every taste from the Tea Party on the right to the elite progressive blogs on the left. You’re more traditional? How about one of our lapdog unions?

    I cite all these to show that we have plenty of bully pulpits out there. It’s only that everyone from DeLong on down is using theirs to repackage and sell the same old schlock to the rest of us.

    Even when we get clear of the shadow of the two parties to movements like Occupy or to Jill Stein the amount of fuzzy, ineffectual thinking astounds me. It is like watching people struggling to reinvent the wheel. We have a 150 year history of organizing and mass movements to draw upon from the abolitionists to the suffragettes to the unionists to the Prohibitionists to civil rights. The keys have always been to organize, educate, and act. To have a clear program and to vote for no one who does not embrace that program and fight for it.

    In the present case, we need to build a mass movement. It must have a clear message, both what it opposes and what it is for. It must constantly build on itself. It must bring one group particular onboard, working and middle class white males, not by pandering to them, but by addressing their concerns. It must create a spirit to the movement that everyone can get in on and get strength from. Movements are inherently spiritual activities. And it must convert its movement power into political and electoral power. It must be willing to challenge the system even as it is taking it over and remaking it. None of this is rocket science. None of it is new. The first step in creating a new world is breaking with the old. It starts with us. Not DeLong, the MMTers, the Tea Party, the elite left, or the unions. Almost none of these has broken with the past. None is using what bully pulpit they have to build the future. So if it is to begin, it must begin with us.

    1. Aquifer

      Hugh – all your “prescriptions” seem rather “fuzzy” to me – you say what we “must” do, but when some, like Stein, attempt it, you say “No!” without expounding on why “No”. I have asked you before about this and you have not answered – explicitly and precisely.

      My critique of Occupy was that it refused to become politically involved – Stein was taking it to the polls and they refused to go there …

      So now you say there must be political and electoral power – no s**t, Sherlock! And when some attempt to put flesh on that spirit, you stand back …

      I learned a long time ago that you can’t just say NO!. There must be something you say YES to and then make them explain why they say NO – you must explain why you say NO … Just saying NO is just too easy ….

      Tearing down is always easier than building up – methinks you are one who has the ability to build – so i challenge you to engage – I have little doubt that you are above my meager abilities, but sometimes the fools must rush in to get the angels to step out ….

      1. Hugh

        Nothing fuzzy about it. Movement first, party second. A party that comes out of a mass movement can achieve a significant even majority share of power in its first outing. A party without such a movement gets the microscopic slice Stein got.

        OWS failed to build on itself, to reach out to new groups, and to define a clear message. With those failures in hand, it never achieved the critical mass to convert its social power into political power, which it never seemed to want to do anyway. Stein, on the other hand, jumped to the political side before the social one was in place. OWS and Stein’s efforts did not work because they fundamentally misunderstood basic lessons about the creation of social power and its conversion into political power.

        1. Aquifer

          Ah, so the “fuzzy intellectual thinking” you speak of with respect to Stein consists of “jumping” into political mode too soon?

          Well that clears that up, don’t it …. But ISTM that with respect to the political mode, time’s a wastin’ – I have seen over and over and over the claim “we need a 3rd Party!”, but when that 3rd party shows up – where the hell are those who claim they long for it?

          Sorry, Hugh, but i can’t buy that “too soon” – the basis for the social movement is already there and has been for some time – as to what determines whether it is “in place” is only something that can be defined in retrospect – when (if) it finally happens, folks will say “See, I told you!” but they will not be the ones who predicted that time or place …. Public polls have been consistently showing majority support for the main planks in Stein’s platform for some time – she gave them a chance to actually vote for that stuff – they declined – and that is somehow HER fault?

          Until folks stop treating politics as a dirty word – they will fail to use it for what it could be used for – but the sad thing is if/when they ever do, they will have rejected good folk so often that good folk may have decided by then not to even bother – why put yourself through all this misery and calumny when no one bothers to show up? i have seen this so often already –

          “just when (we) stopped opening doors, finally knowing the one that (we) wanted was yours – making (our) entrance again with (our) usual flair, sure of (our) lines, no one was there ….”

          Stein was by far the best of the bunch, IMO – i just hope that when folks finally get off their duffs and decide to move, someone like her will be around ….

          As to “reaching out” – ha, that’s a good one – the “left” has more examples of shooting itself in its crown jewels than just about any “movement” i have ever seen … Some of the dialogue in this thread is a pretty good example, ISTM …. The dogmatism i see here would make the Pope blush …

          So, what ARE those “basic lessons about the creation of social power” that have thus far been “misunderstood” ? Methinks that it is not folks like Stein who “misunderstand”, but please elaborate, and maybe we might finally get somewhere ….

    2. psychohistorian

      Thanks for the comment. I am trying to walk your talk.

      Good luck with Aquifer/F Beard……..grin We just don’t have enough faith or go to “Man’s” church like we should……damn right and proud of it.

      1. Aquifer

        I suspect Beard would chuckle as much as I at your equating us – but you still haven’t answered my question as to what YOU believe in – or is the Church of Reason the one you attend? And from whence came this ability to reason, which seems to ebb and flow through our discourse, depending on whether or not we choose to exercise it? Out of the chaos of “awesome ignorance”? Hey, to each his/her own myth, i say …

        Did you ever see the movie “Altered States”?

        1. psychohistorian

          The way that can be named is not the real way….Lao Tze

          I am all about taking personal responsibility for ALL my actions and if you are of faith you automatically abdicate some/all/most of that responsibility…….I think that the mindful ignorance that this engenders is horrible for society.

        2. Glenn Condell

          ‘but you still haven’t answered my question as to what YOU believe in’

          Who says we have to ‘believe’ in anything? And why should we listen? Isn’t belief a large part of what has taken us to the edge?

          Here’s my belief – we are hurtling thru a cold and infinite universe on a smallish-rock for a limited time (‘all things must pass’ – someone’s God got that part right) and anything that emanates from the organic matter inside the skulls of any of its inhabitants is not likely to be of much use when considering the whys and wherefores of our situation.

          We should just make the best of it by being sensible in our collective decisions – and they must be collective. I believe that this is the ‘right’ approach but more importantly in the long (or at least medium) run, it is the only approach that will work – that is, to keep the majority of us happy. At the end of the day, that is the only goal worth the candle, while we wait for the sun to toast us en masse.

          I don’t rule out a Watchmaker, but I think it is at least as likely that he/she/it is a super-evolved nerd like Brin or Zuckerberg, perhaps transhuman and as eternal as the universe will allow, as it is a be-robed father figure or squat avuncular saint. The closer you get to the physics of reality (or is it vice versa) – the endless vastness on the larger scales and the comparably stupendous distances between the bosons and quarks within each and every cell on the smaller – well, the closer you get to admitting that the idea all this simply evolved is just as preposterous as the notion that some higher intelligence created it.

    3. tiebie66

      Hugh, perhaps I am projecting my own feelings and that’s why I hear so much frustration with the status quo and so much urgency to devise an alternative to it in this statement: “The first step in creating a new world is breaking with the old.”
      Having thought it over many times, more recently in conjunction with reading about social changes in pre- and post plague medieval Europe, I think that the “breaking with the old” part may actually take a generation or two (especially perhaps in the absence of a catastrophe to galvanize a shift in attitudes and a change in behavior). Then “creating a new world” can commence if there are suitable kernels or grains around which an annealing process can take place. Thus I think that focusing on local organization, local communities, and local initiatives are needed at this point to provide the seeds for future larger-scale growth. It may be too early to know what social structure(s) would be required at that time, thus creating it now may not be an efficient approach. We’ve now entered the social winter.

      These are just my views. I do not mean to discourage you by pointing to a long time frame. I frequent NC precisely because I value Yves’ outstanding blog with its local community of kindred spirits trying to make sense of it all and trying to find better solutions. And, yes, it starts with us. If I’m misinterpreting your comment, please accept my apologies.

    4. Glenn Condell

      ‘The keys have always been to organize, educate, and act.’

      Anything we can do they can do better and while we dimly apprehend their modus operandi they can (and have, and do) see us coming a mile off. And act accordingly.

      ‘To have a clear program and to vote for no one who does not embrace that program and fight for it.’

      Then you will be voting for ‘no-one’ (like say Obama)

      ‘In the present case, we need to build a mass movement.’

      No we do not. Well, actually we do, but not for any particular political goal, let alone a whole raft of them. What we need is a mass movement toward not outcomes but a mechanism that can deliver them, over and over again. Your faith in people and movements is touching but as Aquifer infers, suffers from the sort of fuzziness you decry, by thinking within the box rather than imagining a perspective that sees our political arrangements as obsolete, which they are.

      Trusting people and movements (or heaven help us, parties) may have worked in the olden days when the elite did not yet possess full spectrum dominance (money, politics, law, economics, social ideology, communications, environment, you name it) but it won’t work now.

      They have their hands on the levers and the only way to get to where you (or rather a plurality of us all) want to go is to wrest them back via a form of constitutionally guaranteed web enabled publicly owned and run direct democracy, where every citizen has a vote in real time, every day if they like, on the issues that beset us.

      The sock puppets should have our hands up their jumpers, not those of a tiny minority who can rig the current system with ridiculous ease, only being brought to a semblance of book (if that) once every 4 years. Rather than deal with each problem as it happens in national conversation, we get every one of those patches queered by the simple fact of their all having to go into the blender (with added 1%-er patch-queering juice) one day every four Januaries.

      I take tiebie66′s point about relocalisation and agree that we must start to walk down that road, but if we lose the capacity to speak and act as one versus the borg, the borg will swat each node like amoeba (as it already does). Our strength, indeed our defence, is in our numbers.

      A simple transparent open-source google-rank style preference register, a machine for negotiating our future, which we guard with our lives, that’s what I would mount hte barricades for – not the hustings!

      Forget about the destination, we need to build the road first.

    1. DANNYBOY

      And here’s Robert Khuzami’s reply: “The criticisms and innuendos are unfounded and unfair, and ignore significant actions taken by the SEC to address the credit crisis, including creating a specialized structured products unit in the Enforcement Division”

      Holy shit! They created another unit to look into things! Now it’ll happen.

      Wait a second, isn’t that the idea O picked up on to bullshit us with? Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force

      This bullshit gets old AFTER ALL THESE F’n YEARS.

      1. DANNYBOY

        nothing to do about this…

        …i know, let’s start a task force

        kinda make it look like there’s lots going on.

  18. abprosper

    Large scale immigration in recent years has had an enormous effect on peoples ability to organize, especially in urban areas.

    As personal example, my neighbors here in California are nice enough people, basically the same social strata I am and probably share some similar concerns. They do not speak English well enough nor I there language to actually hold a conversation on the complex topics involved in it, assuming they even wanted to.

    This is pretty much the case in almost all populace coastal states. Less populace Midland and Western states still being mostly English speaking can communicate easily enough but those folks simply have different views on the role of the State .

    Also cultural issues gun control, abortion, language, immigration, religion, sexual conduct, transfer payments and such are so different that unless some kind of political movement could negotiate between those radically different views and find common ground or heck could even form without being destroyed by the government. We can talk all we like, rant rave all that, we just can’t cause change.

    Also both sides have a communications style gap perfect example, the intro to this article, its better than average but coming into a conversation assuming someone disproves of Keynesian policy has been “propagandized” or borderline brainwashed will fail . It basically renders trust impossible since I can (assuming I was an economic liberal which I am not) assume you assume that i am mentally ill after a fashion and no one like that is treated as if they count. Its basically renders trust impossible.

  19. prostratedragon

    A crime with m.o. features similar to the gang rape in India took place in Chicago recently, where such details as the use of a truck, preying on the alley side of a residential neighborhood, and so on mark it as from somewhat to extremely atypical for that area. Something I’m just now seeing is the victim’s report that the men seemed to be speaking a foreign language.

    Link to Sun-Times

    The girl was taking out the trash Friday night in [Dullsville, African-American style] when a black truck with six men inside pulled up and someone told the girl to get in, police said.

    The girl tried to get away, but someone hit her over the head with a gun and carried the unconscious girl into the truck, which drove to a residence, where the men took turns sexually assaulting her, police said. The girl was able to escape and told police that the men, thought to be in their 20s, spoke a foreign language, police said.

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