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Links 2/17/13

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India’s rice revolution Guardian (Lambert). This is really cool.

Fewer bees in US a threat to world’s almond supply Associated Press. Lambert: “Bees are not a ‘work force’”.

Experts tell flatulent flyers: let rip Medical xPress (Robert M)

Software that tracks people on social media created by defence firm Guardian (furzy mouse)

Amazon Sells Out Predator Drone Toy After Mocking Reviews Bloomberg. Did Bloomberg pick up on this from NC? Either way, our Richard Smith spotted this nearly two weeks ago. And they were out of stock then too.

Classroom Technology Faces Skeptics At Research Universities Information Week. I’m gobsmacked that no one is talking about how online education offers no socialization. Zero. James Heckman ascertained that people who got GEDs rather than completing high school and getting a degree earned less than high school graduates. Similarly, one of the points of having kids go to school is to acculturate them to a working stiff schedule.

Guns For Bikes Exchange In Uruguay Cleartechica (furzy mouse)

Horsemeat scandal linked to secret network of firms Guardian (Richard Smith)

New medal for drone pilots outranks Bronze Star Marine Corps News. Chuck L: “A typical comment on this from one of the ex DoD types who frequently comments at Col. Pat Lang’s blog: ‘This is just embarrassing. I can’t imagine the thought processes of those twinks that came up with this.’”

Group of 20 Vows to Let Markets Set Currency Values New York Times. Joe Costello: “Money humor”.

Strictly Legal Counterpunch (Carol B). Important

Lehman seeks to question JPMorgan’s “London Whale” Reuters. Hah, now are they gonna be sorry they scapegoated him! He has not reason to be nice and play the “I don’t remember” game. JPM is running so many scams that it can’t easily find an optimal strategy through them.

The Arc of Anarchy? David Kaiser

Obama Warned On Social Security Reform By House Democrats Huffington Post (Carol B). Private grumbling is one matter. Open opposition is quite another. This is getting interesting.

The Oscar for Best Fabrication Maureen Dowd, New York Times. Why didn’t she go after the ridiculous opening scene in Lincoln? I had no trust in accuracy of the movie after that.

‘Dorner’s Last Stand’ game surfaces as protesters decry LAPD brutality Raw Story

Postal Service is more modern than you think MarketWatch (Carol B)

The discontents of post-democracy Deus Ex Macchiato

Some approaches to the Market State: I Corrente

Riddle me this, Batman Stop Me Before I Vote Again (Carol B)

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth Joseph Stiglitz, New York Times (Mark Thoma)

Exxon Cease-And-Desist Order Gets Climate Change Ad Pulled From State Of The Union Coverage Huffington Post (Carol B)

Don’t Blink, or You’ll Miss Another Bailout Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Financial Crisis Cost Tops $22 Trillion, GAO Says Huffington Post

Obama, Housing and the Next Big Heist Counterpunch. I’ve wanted to write on this. This piece hits the key points, hard.

Oliver Springs man’s loan modification rejected for comments WATE (April Charney). Pretty soon, you won’t be able to think bad things about banks either.

Wal-Mart’s Problems Run Deeper Than Those Leaked Emails Clusterstock

America faces more than a dozen deadlines, all caused by billionaires and wealth transfer Gaius Publius (Lambert). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (martha r):

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90 comments

  1. Can't Help It

    G20: No currency war? In the meanwhile I will be riding Abe’s coattails all the way to 100 and beyond. After all, the US economy is getting better, so I am sure Ben wouldn’t mind.

  2. gordon

    “Discontents of post-democracy” and “America faces more than a dozen deadlines” for some reason remind me of that section in Malcolm X’s Autobiography where he asks himself in a puzzled, helpless kind of way “Why do they [whites] hate us [blacks] so much?”

    It is hard, I think, for many ordinary people to really give credence to these kinds of stories because they can’t see the motivation. Why should the rich act in such a way? They’ve got all they could possibly want, haven’t they? Why should they do these things? It’s a real question, and like Malcolm X, they don’t know the answer. But at least Malcolm knew that he was hated.

      1. gordon

        “The future”? Well, maybe. What strikes me is that “ordinary people” today simply fail to see the loathing with which the 0.1% regard them. At least Malcolm X could see that, though he never really worked out why.

    1. David Lentini

      I think many of the rich are motivated not by wealth per se but by gain in wealth; it isn’t being rich, but getting richer, faster that motivates them. Historically, this is common among the nouveau riche as opposed to older money, which is more conserative; and the great wealth created by serial asset bubbles has made many nouveaux. Today, I think this is made even worse by our free market dogma that holds the accumulation of wealth is itself a virtue.

    2. froggy

      After meeting basic needs, money is power. The rich want to get richer not because they want more stuff, but because they want more power. Power is security, but security is never 100%, so if you are seeking security through power, you always need more.

    3. scraping_by

      “Why should the rich act in such a way? They’ve got all they could possibly want, haven’t they? Why should they do these things?”

      Possibly, in the words of that great American poet B. Springsteen:

      “Poor man wants to be rich
      Rich man wants to be king.”

      But I don’t think it’s blind striving. It more that the corrupt are attracted to power, and money is power. The sad sick joy of telling people what to do. Blows up a lot of marriages and explains a lot of politics.

  3. JGordon

    Offers no socialization? Well if you have the schizoid personality advantage like I do, no socialization is a huge bonus! Where do I sign up?

    “…to acculturate them to a working stiff schedule.”

    This is why I look forward to the collapse of society. Screw schedules and rules.

    1. Jim Haygood

      One might suppose that children learn punctuality the same way they learn to feed and dress themselves … that is, at home.

      So without the 19th century innovation of mass industrial-style schooling, helpless online-schooled young adults will be unable to show up on time for work? The horrors of anarchy unleashed!

      Internet-addled kids can always adopt the solution that Superman observed when he visited the Bizarro World: the Bizarrians used alarm clocks to tell them when to go to bed. Soon there will be an Apple watch with an app for that.

      p.s. ‘Links 12/17/13.’ Huh, the future seems just like today. Or maybe I slept through the past ten months.

    2. AbyNormal

      “This is why I look forward to the collapse of society. Screw schedules and rules.”

      JGiddy forgot to ‘water his fucking gold fish’, Again

      1. JGordon

        Ah, I remember you. I designed a permaculture system that requires little outside maintenance for my goldfish, i.e., a pond. The only reason you can’t do similar things for yourself is because you lack imagination and knowledge.

        1. different clue

          What are some good books to read about permaculture? What are some good websites? In your opinion?

    3. scraping_by

      Using public schools for mass socialization was a 19th century American response to urbanization and mass immigration.

      Until then, school was a small set of skills to be taught to a small group of professionals. The idea of creating a civil society is an ideological one, and the 1% don’t share that ideology. They’re more into the technofeudal ideal.

      It’s one of the better American ideas.

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

      1. scraping_by

        Oh, and the specific thing about schedules. Most of the rural poor than flooded the cities, both American and foreign, were peasants who lived their days on natural cues and by days rather than portions of days. That big Regulator clock ticking away in the back of the classroom was training on seeing time as numbers rather than the position of the sun or internal feelings (hunger, thirst, tired, etc.). So instead of qualitative time (‘early’, ‘late’, ‘midday’) the schools taught quantitative time (10:00 am, 3:15 pm, etc.).

        Perhaps it’s not so important these days. Remote working, deadlines in months rather than hours, outcome based work rather than butt time, you never know…

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Interesting observation, scraping by, and one I hadn’t previously considered. So without the clock, the industrial revolution would not have happened… or would have happened in a much different way. And the clock has arguably been critical to the development of the modern corporate state, no?

      2. CB

        My reading says public educatiion was a (panicky) response to the so called child labor laws, which put a lot of previously employed young people out of work and onto the streets. Something had to be done! Altho compulsory schooling often looked more jail than education.

      1. JGordon

        Thanks for you admission that your psychological anxiety issues can not cause my Constitutional liberties to be abridged. For the that I think I’ll gloat a bit.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Gun nuts are the most anxious and deeply paranoid people I’ve met. The very last people “a well regulated militia’ should be composed of. Adding… Your gloating I can take. The other externalities are a little bit harder to take. Hey, gun culture won. You guys own. So why can’t you own your victory, be honest, and say a few thousand dead bystanders externalities a year are a small price to pay?

  4. jjmacjohnson

    Those are real American bees being fed high fructose corn syrup!

    Luckily the bees don’t live long enough to see the results.

  5. Ms G

    Gretchen Morgenson’s “Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss Another Bailout” is a must read.

    Short: “Let’s recap: For zero compensation, the New York Fed released Bank of America from what may be sizable legal claims, knowing that A.I.G. was trying to recover on those claims.”

    This is sordid beyond belief. Note some of the details of the Fed’s attempted maneuverings before frankly asserting in court that only it, not AIG, had the right (which it waived) to recover against BoFA for fraud in re the “Maiden III” FrankenDeal.

  6. ex-PFC Chuck

    In re the Drone Pilot medal, here are more comments on Col. Lang’s blog:
    “Come now think of the danger – carpel tunnel, eye strain, hardened arteries, hemorrhoids, just like all the civilian desk jockeys who wrote up the legal rationale behind Obama’s kill list authority.”
    and
    “Col. Lang, Spot on! Brennan will ask for “lists” just like Stalin did……..and when not enough names are supplied to support continuation of the program, he will express his displeasure…….and more names will have to be found….just like Stalins apparatchiks dutifu Lily did.” (sic)
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2013/02/httpenwikipediaorgwikiauthorization_for_use_of_military_force_against_terrorists-httpenwikipediaorgwikiunmanne.html

    1. Expat

      Every time you think the US has hit bottom, the knaves and fools burrow deeper. Shame, shame, shame on the commander-in-chief.

  7. Goin' South

    Comparing the “Strictly Legal” link to the “Exxon Cease and Desist” link provides some interesting lessons in modern First Amendment practice and the laughable “rule of law” in ‘Murca.

  8. John Merryman

    The rich are riding a wave. They didn’t create it. It is the logical end result of treating money as an atomized commodity, rather than the networked social contract that it is and that goes very deep into our intellectual constructs, so that surface solutions do little more than stir the pot.

  9. Hugh

    “The discontents of post-democracy” seems to be struggling toward some awareness of kleptocracy, but it isn’t there yet. It casts the problem primarily in political terms, largely ignoring the economic component. Kleptocracy is about the rich capturing all of the levers of power, co-opting the elites, and using the whole apparatus of our public institutions and discourse to justify, run interference for, and promote looting. Reform, which the post calls for, is not an option. Worse it is a distraction.

    So while these may be discontents, they still don’t have a coherent analysis of the source of their discontent.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Kleptocracy is government as organized crime — violent neofascism on a global scale. This time really is different.

  10. DP

    Regarding the lack of socialization for people who earn online degrees, when you consider the type of sociopaths the elite universities have been producing and sending into corporate finance, consulting and the executive suites of corporate America I”m not sure that lack of socialization is a bad thing.

  11. David Lentini

    Deus ex Macchiato’s post gives great evidence that we’re sinking into the inverted totalitarianism Sheldon Wolin wrote about a few years ago in his book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism by that title. Wolin argues that corporations and goverment have merged and conspire directly and tacitly to keep the public passivated amidst the illusion of a democratic process; the truth is that we hae a sort of creeping, silent corporatist government run by faceless technocrats and business managers who may come and go but keep the machine running by doing their jobs.

    The real problem, as the posters allude to, is that laissez-faire capitalism and democracy are antithetical. The former posits that all human activity is economic, and therefore no government is needed beyond basic protections of property and person–freedom of economic interation is supreme. The latter places the equal distribution of political power as the highest good. As Karl Polya wrote in The Great Transformation, either capitalism has to be regulated to serve a moral society, or society will sink into an amoral abyss.

    1. Massinissa

      “A (Neo)liberal dictatorship is superior to an illiberal democracy”

      - Von Hayek, Austrian Economist, in regards to the rise of the dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

    2. JTFaraday

      All that is true enough, but there’s a problem that goes deeper than that. The problem is that the citizenry in the historically capitalist countries has itself accepted the utilitarian definition of humanity that formed the impetus for the industrial revolution and the human grist for its “satanic mills.”

      Polanyi writes about this himself, most notably where he talks about the transformation of human beings into labor and labor into a commodity, to be traded like any other commodity.

      While Polanyi’s global prescription seems superficially right in terms of suggesting that something–”the state”– should regulate the treatment of these commoditized human beings rather than subjecting them to the full-on ravages of the market, this prescription does not really (re)humanize people. Nor does it necessarily aim to turn them into citizens who participate in a process of defining themselves and their society.

      This depoliticization of commoditized human beings is the effective political legacy of New Deal protectionism as much as it is of capitalism “itself.” Today we’re left with the spectacle of liberals with a continuing faith in a bureaucratic, historically capitalist enabling state under which human beings were, and are still, commoditized and traded and which Wolin calls “totalitarian.”

      It’s getting hard for me to square this circular logic. The contemporary capitalist state just enables a capitalism, financial capitalism, that has less use for commoditized human beings than its industrial capitalist predecessor. So now more people are economically dispossessed and it comes as a shock.

      It is a point of Hannah Arendt’s in The Human Condition that people still labor under a modern redefinition of the human as “homo animal-laborans,” which she suggests may present a problem as this is the historical definition of slaves, not citizens with some power, a political power, of collective self determination.

      Polanyi also talked about how those who were sweated in the early industrial revolution were forced to participate in their own dehumanization, not because they worked but because they were reduced to nothing but laboring utility and, not surprisingly, had a hard time rising above this condition.

      The lives of enough Americans has been just good enough while busy making themselves “useful” to some more powerful person or institution that they don’t even see why anyone might need to rise above this condition. As a consequence, “the state” will manage “labor” into the next corral because that is what’s good for the bureaucrats.

      If that corral is a favela, or better yet a prison, because it employs more inordinately large morally upright “job seekers”– who are today’s equivalents of yesterday’s beneficiaries of the white boy premium at the steel mills– and gets them off the streets, then that’s what it will be. For a while.

      1. David Lentini

        I don’t buy the moral equivalence of the New Deal and laissez faire capitalism you seem to make. The New Deal was motivated by the understanding that the markets needed to be regulated because human life was worth more than just labor value; otherwise, why not just follow Andrew Mellon’s advice to Hoover and let everyone rot?

        It may be case that morally the New Deal was ultimately a band aid on a sucking chest wound, too little to really fix the real problems of capitalism and its failure in 1929; and had FDF lived a bit longer, or the Second World War not happend to revitalize production, American capitalism have been much more socialist. Don’t forget how the industrialists in FDR’s cabinet shafted Henry Wallace to put a more sympathetic Truman in power in 1944, and how Truman and the Democrats later abandoned universal health care. Had the very popular Wallace taken over the presidency in 1945 our social history could have been very different.

        1. JTFaraday

          It was a managed capitalism that constituted human beings and citizens in terms of their economic utility within an industrial economy and valued them as such within that system.

          It always did function as a market based game of musical chairs, where the “jobs” so beloved of self denigrating (or perhaps other-denigrating) Americans everywhere were the chairs that enabled one to access the market-based benefits of a bargain basement citizenship.

          That’s all the “New Deal” ever was. Now they seem to have decided they have even less use for people because they can make money without them.

          Social Security itself, Holy of Holies and the only social safety net acceptable the Real Americans, was itself set up to work exactly this way, which at the time, also meant it was masculinist, heternormative, and de facto racist.

          No seat when the music stops, no social security safety net. No spouse, no social security safety net. This is why we have race wars and culture wars and gender wars, scrambling for the chairs.

          I’m sure there were “worse” alternatives. It did come in the wake of a horror show in Europe, which I suppose is why Wolin calls its late stage devolution “inverted totalitarianism,” by which he seems to mean something to the effect that we agree to do it to ourselves because we’ve been marketed to.

          Liberals need to face up to this. I’m not just making this up because I’m some kind of right winger.

  12. sleepy

    Regarding the congresional dems’ opposition to cutting social security:

    “A majority of the House Democrats — 107 members — sent Obama a letter on Friday stating that any changes to entitlements will be opposed by members of his own party.”

    No doubt the same progressive caucus that pledged to vote against healthcare reform in the absence of a public option.

    1. different clue

      They may be responding to constituents telling them that those constituents will never vote or call or donate or anything for another Democratic officeholder/seeker ever again if even so much as one single change is permitted to happen to SS or Mcare or Mcaide. In which case, this would be a good time for more constituents to make, or repeat, that warning.

      Keep the government’s Wall Street hands off my Social Security. And off my Medicare and Medicaide too.

  13. Garrett Pace

    I’ve also noticed with interest the increase in shame marketing aimed towards men in recent years.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvPl7jMOYuI

    If men can be taught to treat their own bodies with anxiety and loathing, cosmetics companies can make billions of dollars off of them, just like women.

    Marketers toe a slender line getting the message across, though. See how absurd the exaggerations are in the commercial above – seems utterly fantastical, but the point is still clear, and it appears to be working.

    1. Bill

      That’s really amazing, and disgusting, thanks for the link.

      Antiperspirants have always caused me to itch, I stopped using them decades ago. And maybe all that aluminum stuff can contribute to Alzheimers.

      All these chemicals can’t be good for our bodies.

  14. Jennifer

    Agree the Counterpunch article is important–when are the American people going to demand the dismantling of the patent system? It has created government-protected huge profits to create powerful corporations who under the guise of promoting “health” (only if they get paid for it) and “innovation” (actually, about 90% comes from NIH) are not only bankrupting this country but are actually harming people. There is this today.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17sunday-review/the-hip-replacement-case-shows-why-doctors-often-remain-silent.html?smid=tw-share

    Note the slant of this article, its the doctors fault. Of course, there are many cases where it IS the doctors fault, and the dangerous linkage of MDs and industry connections is appropriately highlighted. But is this particular case, several MDs warned J and J, and they just didn’t care. The only reason the case is not making the banner headlines it deserves is that people were disabled, not killed.

    1. zephyrum

      Dismantling the patent system? Jennifer, I’m an individual inventor and you better believe that without patents large companies would steal everything I do. In fact they steal even with patents, but fortunately there are lawyers good enough and the law is tough enough that I can occasionally get on equal footing with a larger company.

      If you “dismantle the patent system” it will be might-makes-right with large companies holding all the cards. I don’t think anyone would like the result. Yes there’s sometimes an issue with bogus patents and trolls, but killing the system to head off the abusers is a cure much worse than the disease.

      The anti-patent PR you see all the time is paid for by large corporations who are trying to weaken patents and make it easier to steal other people’s inventions. Don’t buy the hype–it’s not working in your favor.

      1. jrs

        aren’t most patents held by corporations? Yea, I think there are plenty of corporations on the pro-patent side. I support patents to the extent they serve the common good, nothing else. A limited patent to encourage innovation? Ok. But at a certain point patents serve and opposite purpose and destroy innovation. Of course we could consider eliminating the ability of corporations to patent anything and only allow individuals to. You’d be for that right?

        1. Jennifer

          Many inventors do not benefit from their patents, the image of the brave individual inventor who patents his/her invention and actually makes money off of it is a myth. More frequently when that individual inventor goes to patent his/her invention that person is sued by a corporation who will claim to have already invented it. It really doesn’t matter what the truth of the matter is, if you have a good, expensive team of lawyers you win. It’s well established that the big tech companies own millions of patents–one of the reasons Google bought Motorola was for its patents. Corporations LOVE patents, it’s a government-enforced monopoly. Even if you believe that patents are good nobody manipulates them like the pharma companies, and we all at for it.

          1. zephyrum

            “the image of the brave individual inventor who patents his/her invention and actually makes money off of it is a myth.”

            I am most certainly not a myth, yet I patent inventions and make money from them.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Guns for bikes – good idea.

    Also good – computer games for books.

    Another one – movie DVDs for books.

    1. AbyNormal

      cell phone plans for a Stack of Books
      (cell for 911 is enough of a plan)

      good morning Prime, i’ve decided the weathers warming up enough to dust off my motorcycle, organize my tools, and take a measurement of my growth since my last zoom thru zamm. wish me luck, i’ll need it.

      “Everything is an analogy.” chapter 30

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Dorner’s last stand.

    Should he have been offered
    ‘pardon/grievace addressing’ while on the run?

    In economics, following a bubble, not preventing ‘liquidation, liquidation, liquidation’ means more jobless.

    So, we don’t liquidate, liquidate, liquidate.

    In Dorner’s case, not offering pardon while he was armed and loose might cost more innocent lives. And in fact, we had several more shooting victims.

    So, should we have?

    The two are similar, but it’s hard to say we should have in Dorner’s case.

  17. thanatocene

    You can look at the deadlines as more positive feedback intensifying global warming. 4C means a 95% decline in human population, so there’s a lot riding on you staying firmly in the top 5% and on commandeering the resources needed to consign the other 9 1/2 deciles to their death. That means armed repression and multifarious commercial predation are all of a piece for Daddy Warbucks, utility-maximizing responses to 4C. Successful impementation depends on keeping the victims in the dark, or shutting them up, and this is exactly what we see in domestic propaganda and censorship and in international exclusion. You have to lull the masses until their local catastrophe hits. When they’re standing in line for powdered milk at the maximum-security refugee camp, then they’re no threat to you.

    1. wunsacon

      thanatocene,

      >> 4C means a 95% decline in human population

      My 40 seconds spent in google didn’t reveal any promising hits. Do you have a link?

  18. Ron

    India’s rice revolution: small plot intensive farming gets recognition as a sustainable Ag method creating both a local food source for the farmer and also generating surplus supply for cash. It is important to understand that this village has always used animal manure and yard waste to improve the soil and does not compact the soil with machine’s creating a high potential for larger crop yields. The new method of transplanting and spacing crops turns out to be a key to improving crop yields but it will do little on land that is compacted and lacks good soil practices.
    Intensive small plot farming is well known in organic farming circles here in the U.S.

  19. Mel

    Wal-Mart’s Problems Run Deeper Than Those Leaked Emails

    Wal-Mart does find themselves on the cutting edge — almost getting it from time to time. Early on in the public health-care debate they were pro-care when they saw what it could do to their employment costs. But they always fall back. Kind of like the Republicans’ two hours of smartness before they fined Derek Khanna.

    But this article: is this English, “investing in price”? I’m not a finance person, but does this mean that down the road when they’re less sure of the gains they’ll get from their price, they’ll be able to sell it to other investors, maybe get their price traded on an exchange? Set up a futures market?

    Could it mean devoting money to funding loss-leaders? Then writing up this series of cash losses as an asset on their balance sheet? I’m agog to see how that’s done. Q4 earnings nothing; that balance sheet is going to be the most amazing thing since the golden age of scholastic theology.

    1. dd

      Investing in price is the nice words for illegal predatory pricing. That’s what they called it back in the old days when there were laws

    2. Jagger

      Same here. Never heard of “investing in price” and could not figure it out from the article. I guess he is not writing for a general audience.

  20. Furzy Mouse

    I was deeply disappointed with “Lincoln”…one comment I have not seen yet, but struck me immediately, is the cheesy slop that the filmmakers were throwing to their supposed liberal class of viewers….blacks in every scene, in positions of rather dubious authority (NOT) and Mary Todd and other ladies in the balcony above Congress, cheering on the passage of the 13th amendment…absolutely NOT! Ladies lib was still way down the road, and Mary Todd had to beg and threaten Congress to award her a pension.

  21. David Lentini

    Arch of Anarchy?

    Many good points and interesting thoughts, but some questionable statements too:

    1. ” Since the turn of the century the Republican Party has embarked upon an all-out assault on modern government, both at the state and federal level. President Obama is now laboring to stop that assault in its tracks.”

    “Modern government”, i.e., a government that seeks to provide certain minimal guarantees of social welfare and political rights, is really a creation of the Depression and early Cold War. The GOP’s campaign really started in the ’30s as the party aligned itself with the angry rich and anti-federalists against the New Deal and the intellectual Left. As David Halbersam wrote in his last book, The Coldest Winter, by the end of the Second Wrld War the GOP was desperate to regain political power after its repeated trouncings by FDR and the public’s acceptance of the New Deal. The McCarthy hearings were only the most visible of the GOP’s plans to discredit the New Deal and the federal government. This effort led to the gutting of the State Department and the incessant questioning of the loyalty of anyone who disagreed with the GOP’s vision. Sadly, the Democrats and the intellectual succumbed to this, which in no small part led LBJ to proceed with the Viet Nam war.

    As for Obama, Kaiser is still drinking the Kool Aid. Obama is here to administer the coup de grace to the New Deal and finish what the GOP started nearly 80 years ago. If Obama really cared, he would have mobilized the public and pushed the Democrats to define true battelines. I beleive that Obama could have gotten much of a revitalized New Deal agenda had he used the bullly pulpit of his office and no hired the same Wall Streeters to advise him.

    2. Viet Nam was a symptom of the disintegrating democratic tradtion of the U.S. Johnson’s decision to pursue the Great Society along with the war showed the interest in expanding the enlighted social welfare state. But his, and the Democrats, decision to get into the war–and his decision not to run in ’68–also showed the extent of the fear created by the GOP’s “loyalty” strategy. The fact that Nixon won on a “peace with honor” campaign shows the pulic wasn’t all that concerned about “losing ” Asia after all. But the GOP’s far right was able to fan the flames of resentment after Watergate to create a betrayl myth much like the German generals and Nazi’s did after the First World War to radicalize the public sentiment against the “weak, bleeding heart” Democrats, never mind that Nixon dind’t do any better than LBJ at running the war and arguable worse.

    3. “The evidence is mounting that the influence of the Enlightenment definitely peaked sometime in the middle decades of the twentieth century. The question now is whether its disintegration will go as far as it did at the end of the ancient world. ”

    I don’t quite understand Kaiser’s conclusion. The Enlightenment certainly did not exist during the ancient world. The Western Roman empire long outlasted its best philosophers. Give that the rot of our Western Enlightenment culture is coming from within, I often wonder if we’ll be more like the states that survived Alexmander’s death or the fall of Athens, in which the great power fades away and a small number of rivals fight over the spoils. The evidence that our economic system is fundamentally broken only grows; the focus of government increasingly is on the maintenace of that system even to the point of despotism. These are the actions of states collapsing on themselves; the question is whether the end will be a supernova and a black hole or a neutron star.

    1. CB

      You picked up a few points I missed, but my reaction was along the same lines and certainly I didn’t miss the nonsense about Obama. Geez louise!

  22. JEHR

    Why do the rich never feel satisfied with their massive riches? Money is power and power is more important than anything else in a competitive world. Once a certain amount of wealth has been accumulated then the next step is competing with other wealthy people for power. The end game is power.

    A co-operative world view would have a different meaning for wealth.

  23. financial matters

    Obama, Housing and the Next Big Heist Counterpunch. I’ve wanted to write on this. This piece hits the key points, hard.

    Definitely a misallocation of resources but only at the margin and of little significance. Far from the opaquely packaged NINJA loans that drove the housing market to dizzying heights.

    2008 was a point from which the Minotaur will not return. We are currently being governed by a bankruptocracy (rule by bankrupted banks) (Yanis Yaroufakis)

    ‘Whether my chosen term, bankruptocracy, will catch on is neither here nor there. What matters is that 2008 marked a significant discontinuity: that life after it will not resemble life before it.’ (The Global Minotaur)

    ‘Thus the Crisis is constantly metamorphosing, taking its toll differently in different places. This is no longer a financial crisis. It is not even an economic crisis. It has become a political crisis.’ (ibid)

    The endpoint is not clear but the game of musical chairs is still unfolding with new surprises… toxic eurobonds trying to hold the euro together, MF Global, the London Whale, gobs of poorly understood derivatives, massive unemployment..

    1. financial matters

      Luckily, Vanis suggests a way out of this dilemma. It has to do with GSRM (Global Surplus Recycling Mechanisms). The US although it ran huge unstable deficits at least provided a market for German, Japanese and Chinese goods. Now that it has lost this ability we need new GSRMs

      This is a chance to correct old mistakes. Germany can recycle some of its surplus to build industry in peripheral Europe. China can use its surplus to build industry in Latin American and Africa.

      The US can correct a mistake it made at Bretton Woods and be part of an International Currency Union (as originally suggested by Keynes) rather than trying to be in total control.

      And he ends the book on an optimistic note:

      ‘Perhaps centuries later, our own Minotaur’s death will inspire the poets and the myth makers to mark its demise as the beginning of a new authentic humanism.’

  24. wunsacon

    >> New medal for drone pilots outranks Bronze Star

    Can recipients voluntarily wear the new medal in a manner that reflects their own assessment of where it should rank (e.g., below the Bronze Star)?

    (I guess not.)

    Anyway, the rank of the new medal reflects the messaging: While vilifying our enemies as cowards, we have to claim that our own methods of “killing people with zero risk of loss to ourselves”* is somehow “heroic”.

    (* Truly “asymmetrical warfare”, if there ever was some.)

  25. wunsacon

    >> Riddle me this, Batman

    I’ve thought of this, too. Practically speaking, knocking down labor’s share of income is Fed policy.

    As we see, the Fed doesn’t oppose inflation in anything except salaries. Houses, stocks, oil, groceries, etc. In fact, they support inflation in most of those things, because the inflation tax funds government with far less noise from voters — especially because some voters see “rising asset prices” as a positive sign (“the economy is humming”).

  26. diptherio

    Re: Gaius Publius on the Billionaire Problem

    When I was an econ undergraduate, I took every opportunity to harp on the point the GP starts out with: corporations are legal fictions, empty frameworks, composed of actually existing persons, therefore it is misleading to talk about corporations as if they were autonomous entities. I would just about blow up every time the phrase “good for business” was used (or “bad for business”). Good for who? I would always insist. Good for the owners, good for the managers, good for the workers…good for who? “Businesses” don’t exist, only people exist.

    And then everyone would look at me like I was crazy. GP makes the point better than I did…

  27. Jim

    “The constitutional order of the United States is now in transition…”

    After history supposedly came to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the supposed globalization of Western liberal democracies, these modern democratic entities seemed to interpret their contemporary structures of power as a constitutional arrangement which had overcome domination.

    In our liberal democracies, power was more and more articulated, as simply the care of the population or protection of the population.

    But now the protection of the population has started to fail–and we again no longer seem at the end of history.

    In such a historical situation does power once again becoming more visible and more dominant and more open to attack?

    Or is the invisibility of power only accelerating–with power continuing to consolidate by its seeming absence?

  28. @Chain_Lube

    India’s rice revolution: The “job creators” say “labour intensive” like it’s a bad thing.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I would love to hear from some real “System of Crop Intensification” geeks — are you out there, SCI geeks?

      * * *

      It all sounds very permaculture-y — yield, local focus, listen to the plants, use what comes to hand….

      1. different clue

        Except it is the replanting of annuals year after year after year. If it is sustainable, that shows that small scale handmade agriculture has a future too.

  29. Lidia

    Don’t mean to burden people with my ignorance, but what does that BI article even mean when it talks about Wal*Mart’s “price investment” and “pumping $2 billion into prices”?

    Does that mean selling shit at a loss?

      1. different clue

        Norman Uphoff (who is the Cornell Professor featured in parts of the linked-to SRI article) is one of the four co-authors. One can find all kinds of interesting material from super-mainstream sources.

        Professor Donald Huber, who has been warning us lately of the impact of glyphosate on soil systems, teaches at Purdue University which is a super-mainstream university. And he is a super-mainstream professor. For example.

        One can choose to judge a book by its contents as well as its cover. Or not, as one wishes.

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