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Links 2/5/12

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Richard III: DNA confirms twisted bones belong to king Guardian. This is really cool. Lots of related stories. You can see how bad his scoliosis was.

Racism is Poisoning Online Ad Delivery, Says Harvard Professor MIT Technology Review. Wow, this is even worse than you might think. Lots of research that suggest that third party expectations influence outcomes. Google IS evil (not that you had any doubts…).

Top dollar puts Sydney higher on expense scale Sydney Morning Herald (Glenn C). Wow, I lived in Sydney when it was cheap relative to NYC. No more! Sydney is a terrific city. Wish I were living there.

The shadow of 1914 falls over the Pacific Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

The 49 Best British Films of all time, by Barry Norman Telegraph

No recovery until 2018, warns NIESR Telegraph

‘Volcker Rule,’ EU-Style Wall Street Journal

S&P 500 Has Biggest Drop Since November on Europe Concern Bloomberg

Spanish corruption scandal and Italian election spook markets – as it happened Guardian

Naked beaten Egyptian blames police BBC (Lambert)

Israel plans defence buffer inside Syria Sunday Times (jsmith)

NYC Officials Threaten Funding of College Over Israel Event Glenn Greenwald, Common Dreams (jsmith)

Baghdad Today Counterpunch (Carol B)

US control is diminishing, but it still thinks it owns the world Noam Chomsky, Guardian

EXCLUSIVE: Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans NBC

Catfood watch. It’s baaack!

Latest Pathetic Conservative Attack on Social Security: Disability Fraud Hysteria Lynn Parramore, Alternet. Missed this from last week. It’s important. I’ve noticed Orzsag et al. harping on SS disability.

Top Democrats Demand More Revenue to Deal with Sequester Jon Walker, Firedoglake

The Dangerous Collapse of Public Enterprise Dan Kervick, New Economic Perspectives

MOAAAAAAAAAAAAR SOCIAL SECURITY Atrios (Lambert). A counteroffensive!

10 States Where People Are Living On The Edge Of Financial Ruin Clusterstock

US to Become a Second-Rate Power Counterpunch (Carol B)

Vote to Eliminate Ban on Gays in Boy Scouts Is on Agenda at Board Meeting New York Times

Super Bowl blackout could be traced to last-minute upgrades to Dome’s electrical system Nola (Lambert)

Graphic: Detroit Then and Now National Post (frosty zoom)

First City in U.S. Passes Resolution Against Drones David Swanson

Hackers Post Private Data From More Than 4,000 US Bank Executives DailyFinance (Carol B)

MEMORANDUM OF THE STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL INTERVENORS ADDRESSING THE JANUARY 16, 2013 ORDERS TO SHOW CAUSE New York State Courts. Nice find by Deontos. Schneiderman and Biden argue on behalf of the three Federal Home Loan banks’ demand for more disclosure.

Despicable Me Paul Krugman. OMG, Mish was crazy enough to cite Hans Hermann-Hoppe??? Yes I know Mish is a libertarian but even by libertarian standards, Hermann-Hoppe is an incoherent nutcase (or maybe not, he takes libertarianism to its logical conclusions, which are extreme and brutal). We published a series by Andrew Dittmer with Hermann-Hoppe as the centerpiece: see Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI and a response to reader comments. He’s just set the cause of legitimate criticism of Krugman back about 5 years.

The coming catastrophes and the Rawlsian veil of ignorance Ian Welsh

Antidote du jour (martha r):

And a bonus antidote. I assume most Americans have seen this. The Super Bowl fave:

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100 comments

  1. Goin' South

    Welsh makes a nice point about catastrophes imposing the heart-opening Rawlsian veil.

    His pessimism is justified, but there is one out. Yes, it’s true that people will hold onto what they have as long as they can, but this is only if their values remain intact.

    We’re living in a time when the values of our society have been thoroughly exposed as corrupt, perverse, anti-human and anti-Earth. It’s a time ripe for a broad and deep re-thinking of what matters, of what our responsibilities are to each other, of what constitutes the “good life.”

    If that takes place, what people now claw and scratch to keep will be revealed as worthless, and catastrophe can be avoided.

    1. Richard Kline

      Goin’ South: “. . . [I]t’s true that people will hold onto what they have as long as they can, but this is only if their values remain intact.” I only wish that was the _general_ case for members of the genus Homo, but it is not. Yes, a substantial number will cleave to their values over their possessions; about one in three I would say. Nothing like a majority. Why?

      It’s not as though even a large plurality of the population is sociopathic. Estimates vary, but I think one would be hard pressed to diagnose more than 2-3% of the population as ‘all personality disorder, all the time,’ with as much as, say, 10% of the population having some form of a personality disorder as one, if not the prime, component of disordered thinking.

      That leaves us with 60% of the population. Let’s cut that down and say 40% of the popultion don’t know whether to hold to their values or their possessions at any point in time—so they sit on the fence trying to cover their gonads and there south end simultaneously. This group is the real problem for activism, social change, or civilizational continuity. They lack what Primo Levi called ‘a strong moral armature.’ They bend with the circumstance; look to the Big Name; stay close to the Big Wallet; go the other way whenever there’s trouble. As a personal survival strategy, that works well except in extreme circumstances. In extreme circumstances, they are all Good Germans. And not because they are psychologically corrupt but because the moral aspect of their personalities are vague, malleable, tied to circumstance rather than anchored to belief.

      I only wish folks could be counted upon to reach for their values, but usually they only do that as a last resort, when the death squad is coming _for them_. And then, as the man said, there’s no on left to hear.

      1. Goin' South

        It seems to me that you are saying that many people choose material possessions over any sort of ethical norms. That itself is a reflection of our society’s values.

        I don’t believe that the sad traits we both criticize are endemic to the genus homo. There’s plenty of anthropological evidence to the contrary. Instead, we’re seeing a set of societal (anti-)values produced by and for the benefit of Capitalists. As more and more people awake to the fact that they’re manipulated by this twisted “morality,” there’s hope that they will begin to act more like human beings who are truly alive.

        1. from Mexico

          Absolutely!

          I would cite two historical examples of where Kline’s consistent pessimism has been demonstrated to be wrong.

          One is the abolition of slavery in the United States. PBS did an outstanding video on this, and as it explains, at the time of the Revolution the monetary value of slaves in the US exceeded all other property, except maybe the value of the land upon which the nation sat itself. By the 1840s the number of slaves had doubled from that. And yet, the nation managed to do away with slavery. It’s an intriguiging story that is an example of the way morality can shift over time, against huge economic interests that are hailed as being invincible, and against what are seemingly insurmountable odds. It did indeed take violence to take away the freedom of the southerners to enslave people, but it is nevertheless a demonstration of how the morals of the country shifted over time. It can be seen here:

          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/abolitionists/

          The other historical account of where Kline’s consistent pessimism was demonstrated to be unrealistic was the Civil Rights movement. PBS did a series called “God in America” in which the Civil Rights movement is covered in Part V, Chapters 3 to 6.

          http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/view/

          In the last few minutes of Chapter 6, one of the leaders of the Civil Rights movement talks about how what they did was totally irrational, going up against what was commonly believed to be the all-powerful and impregnable fortress of Jim Crow. But once again, just as with the abolitionists, it was the power of prophetic religion that was to prevail.

          I found the stark difference between Martin Luther King’s prophetic religion, and the religion of Billy Graham — where religion was little more than the handmaiden of the powers that be and the status quo — to be a most incisive, and accurate, portrayal of the nature of religion.

          1. craazyman

            I’ve lately been reading a lot about the U.S. Civil war and looking at lots of photographs — Brady’s crew mostly, Gardner, Tim Sullivan, etc. Sullivan as also an accomplished western landscape photographer, after the civil war.

            I grew up in northern Virginia and didn’t much tune in to all the history there, as a kid, so it’s something of an awakening for me to contemplate the strange juxtaposition of the woods and fields and highways of my youth as a battle grounds for contending armies. Intellectually I always knew this was the case, but to let one’s imagination go with it is sort of strange. Aside from the national battlefield park at Manassas, even some of the local names of streets and turnpikes can be tied to elements of the conflict. Anyway . . .

            One thing I ran across quite recently was this bit on wikipedia, apropos of your comment’s topic — Jim Crow. Apparently, it was not entirely a natural outcome of southern culture, but was invented “after the fact” as it were, partly as a cultural response to the south’s humiliation in defeat.

            * * *:

            [C. Vann] Woodward’s most influential book was The Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955), which explained that segregation was a relatively late development and was not inevitable. After the Supreme Court’s “Brown” decision in spring 1954, Woodward gave the Richards Lectures at the University of Virginia. The lectures were published in 1955 as The Strange Career of Jim Crow.[6] With Woodward in the audience in Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed the book “the historical bible of the Civil Rights Movement.”[1] It reached a large popular audience and helped shape the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

            Jim Crow laws, Woodward argued, were not part of the immediate aftermath of Reconstruction; they came later and were not inevitable. Following the Compromise of 1877, in the 1870s and 1880s there were localized informal practices of racial separation in some areas of society along with what he termed “forgotten alternatives” in others. Finally the 1890s saw white southerners “capitulate to racism” to create “legally prescribed, rigidly enforced, state-wide Jim Crowism.”[7]

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._Vann_Woodward

  2. AbyNormal

    name that clydes ** BABAK**
    Iranian – . They have a talent for expression and enjoy communicating with others, although their secret garden remains out of bounds. Rather wary at first, they are nonetheless frank and direct; however they need to feel reassured and comfortable before taking their personal relationships to the next level. On the other hand, once you have won them over they prove to be delightfully lively and talkative. It is often a case of all or nothing with them! Their independence is very dear to them and they aren´t lacking in imagination. Cheerful & Optimistic
    heheheheee

  3. dearieme

    “Stumble into war” wasn’t, according to Prof Fischer, what happened in 1914. His interpretation was that the Kaiser’s circle was looking for a pretext to begin a war against Russia with Austro-Hungary as an ally.

    So the other participants may have stumbled: Imperial Germany didn’t.

    1. Richard Kline

      So dearieme, that is true as far as it goes, but I think misrepresents what we know about the decision-making context of August, 1914. And that context has been _very_ extensively studied.

      Yes, Germany in the 1910s had as a policy goal a successful war against Russis—if they could match-up against the Russians only. But that wasn’t the situation, and their leadership and everyone knew it. If was very highly probable that France would attack Germany if war was declared by the Germans on Russia. Not as certain as an ultimatum to that effect, but very highly probable and so something that had to be planned for. What happened then was very _uncertain_; no one knew if the UK would come in, or if Italy would follow their treaties and mobilize for the German-Austrian block. Germany simply did NOT have the option of launching a way on Russia only. There was a great deal of concern, argument, shilly-shallying, and frank funk amongst the Germans about things spinning wildly out of control once the mobilization order was given. Strategically in the thinking of the time—a kind of Mutally Assured Transgression—Germany HAD to mobilize against France simultaneously with any war against Russia, which in turn guaranteed that France would mobilize and launch hostilities, as both France and Germany had as their grand strategy an offensive posture.

      Stumble is a not inapt word. Everyone had tied themselves together with mobiliationorders and non-negotiating stances so that as soon as one state actor leaned toward wall, everyone was doomed to fall over the precipice. It doesn’t really matter if much if: a) Germany wanted to crush and territorially despoil Russia, or b) that Germany thought they could win. Even if Germany had been entirely neutral in strategy, they would have had to mobilize once someone else did. It was Austria-Hungary who mobilized first—and everyone else fell over.

      I don’t think that ‘blame’ is terribly important in assessing the Great War, a monumental act of human stupidity. Everyone created a doomsday machine because they though the other side would catch most of the Hell. They were all right. And so all equally wrong. If I was to choose the ‘craziest deed’ in all that, it would definitely be Austria-Hungary’s mobilization for a war _of choice_ chich they were patently unprepared for and illequiped to wage. But the second craziest deed was the unconditional guarantee given by _a mid-level_ decision maker in Britain to France in the event of German mobilization. It wasn’t the head of state in the UK; it wasn’t the PM; it wasn’t a vote in Parliament; it wasn’t the minister of war. It was that sonofabitch Henry Hughes Wilson, the CIGS (Chief of the Imperial Staff) without _any_ authorization from those above him who guaranteed Britain would enter the war, and got a generation killed.

      These are the kinds of deeds which one has to look for in similar war crisies. An irrational actor with ambitions too big for their breeches. A critically placed war-head with his own agenda. They are the folks that press the warm-up buttons on the doomsday button, after which no one can get them unpressed again. And for the nation-states involved, that looks more like stumbling than anything. Most wars ARE miscalculations, this point has been studied extensively. It’s just that those making critical decisions which can’t be taken back think that it’s the _OTHER_ side who is doomed. And over the precipice all go together . . . .

      1. Richard Kline

        That said, I take Rachman’s thesis as hugely overblown. The confrontations in the East China Sea are nowhere at the level. There is no general war there without US participation, and the US is very, very cautious about any specific committments—with good reason. China’s grand strategy for sixty years has been to shift the geostratetic weights rather than to fight it out, and there is every reason to think they will hold to that position. When and as China’s _leadership_ DEMONSTRATES actual offensive actions, we have a different situation; not a war crisis but a situation where the possitibility has to be planned and postured for.

        There’s much more that could be said on this, but at bottom, no US, no war. And the US doesn’t want to do this one at present. So it’s not one. Much bad-tempered posturing, yes (as much bad blood) and China left in an unrealistic and unhistorical territorial position by the weakness of a decaying foreign occupation a century ago. But nothing is near war there at this time. That is my view.

      2. Garrett Pace

        You well describe the international situation that made conflict not just possible but logical and seemingly inescapable. But while mobilization may imply a logical conclusion it isn’t that conclusion. Someone had to cross a border for the war to begin, and (in the West) it was Germany – also violating Belgium neutrality on the very first day and turning international opinion against them.

        They got to play the bad guys from the very start, before even the Lusitania and Cavell.

        (You might also argue that their ambition to be the continent’s top sea power as well as land power made war with Great Britain necessary. It was in their power to avoid that all together.)

        1. Richard Kline

          So Garrett, I don’t think you’re reckoning the process of mobilization as it was materially designed by all European powers c. 1914. Mobilization was the equivalent of not opening the silos now but turning the launch keys. There wasn’t the military staff _capability_ to halt the process once begun short of throwing the switches on the train tracks and derailing the engines. Functionally, the ‘go/no go’ order was the moral choice, in your terms, but a power which did NOT mobilize was going to take a severe beating in the opening months of the war, and quite possibly lose. The military staffs in question had seen that through the previous century, and had to reckon with that reality.

          And the ‘violating Belgian neutrality’ is hugely overblown, and victors trope. I’m not saying that to excuse it. Howver, Gemany did _NOT_ lose international support in a substantil way from that act. Turkey came into the war on Germany’s side, for example, which was a significant gain. American public opinon was solidly anti-British and _pro-German_ until the Lusitania incident, and a concerted propaganda campaign by the US elite to bamboozle public opinion. Yes; you can look that up. “Those horrible Huns killing Belgian babies” was an overt piece of British propaganda which has been written into the history books by the victors but which was of much less consequence at the time.

          Third parties and late-comers always want to sound more moral in retrospect than they were at the time, and the ‘Belgian excuse’ is a leading instance of that. For the record, Britain systematically violated third party neutrality in most of its wars over the five generations preceding 1914; perfidious Albion and all that, but there was a very real basis to that sentiment. It was _the UK_ who attacked third parties, sank their navies, seized their shipping and goods, and generally dictated who was to be permitted to do what. The US systematically has violated third party neutrality in half its wars (at least) over the last four generations. And yes, that behavior has cost the US quite a great deal of international support, for instance presently. Citing past propaganda slanted against the losers isn’t a great way to gauge the strategic interests and program of past actors, or to make analogies to the present; I’m just sayin’.

          1. Garrett Pace

            Well enough; though my point was that Germany crossed the border first. Doing it through Belgium was the cherry on top for Allied propagandists.

            However inclined Germany was to fight a war of international public opinion, that was the wrong way to start it, and events from that point on added to the trend.

            I agree with you about timetables etc. But as you pointed out, while the levers pulled by the general staff could not be so easily unpulled, they certainly could have done something to mitigate it, both at the last moment and certainly in the planning stages. Their desire to fight a precision, mechanized, fast, “first strike” war in France outweighed their desire for flexibility and last-minute decision making. The plan became its own justification.

        2. Synopticist

          Yes, Germanys’s determination to match Britain at sea was idiotic, frankly, and driven primarilly by the Kaiser, why was mentally unbalanced. It alienated the Uk and strengthened ties to France. The character of the German Kaiser is somewhat underated by historians I believe. He had a huge amount of power, and he made a lot of irrational decisions.

          As for the German attack on France, that was a long laid plan as soon as the Russians mobilised. Crush the French in 6 weeks and get back east in time to fight the Russian hordes. The Schlieffen plan had been part of German doctrine since the1890s. A massive right hook through Belguim and round west of Paris. It damn near worked too.

      3. Jessica

        Could/would the British have stood aside and let the Germans defeat France? (Given that Germany vs. France+UK was pretty much a tie for 4 year, I assume that Germany vs. France would have been an easy win for Germany.)

      4. subgenius

        An immersing facet of hidden history is that the first action of the first world war is that the first deployment of British troops was the Dorset regiment deployment to Basra – the intent was to secure middle East oil… Saudi fields weren’t discovered for another couple of decades… and prevent the Germans from extending the Berlin to Baghdad railroad to Basra….

      5. Sufferin' Succotash

        About German and Russian war planning…
        First, the German decision to throw seven out of eight armies against France was made some nine years before the 1914 crisis with the adoption of the Schlieffen Plan. Schlieffen assumed that France could be knocked out in the first six weeks of the war while the clunky Russian Army took time to mobilize. After 1910 that assumption was being rendered moot by events: a new Russian program to expand railroad networks in western Russia and to station more divisions closer to the German & Austro-Hungarian frontiers. By 1912 Germany was facing a strategic crisis whereby the German advantage of holding interior lines would be nullified by a more rapid Russian mobilization. From the German standpoint time was running out and the sooner a general war started the better.
        For their part, Russia’s generals after 1910 were getting increasingly confident regarding a more offensive strategy precisely because of their railroad improvements and the army’s recovery from the war with Japan. Time, it seemed, was clearly on Russia’s side.

  4. dearieme

    Strictly, I suppose, the USA didn’t stumble – Wilson made a positive decision to go to war over …um, I’m not really sure. Pretext again?

    Did Britain’s treaty concerning Belgium really require her to go to war once Belgium had been invaded? Or was she really just determined to help defend France from Kaiser Bill – for obvious defensive motives of her own? Or is it rubbish to talk about Britain’s motives when what mattered were the motives of Asquith’s cabinet?

    Anyway, 2013 – what will presumably matter are Obama’s motives.

    1. Richard Kline

      Asquith’s cabinet and party seniors were completely paralyzed by personal infighting, and incapable of settling upon a major decision, like going to war. That is one reason action defaulted down the chain of comman: typical British muddling. But the real reason for Hughes’ action, as I read it, is that the British _military_ was committed to fighting Germany before the British strategic position became even more inferior than it was. And the military sold this position to the political actors, in 1914 and all the way through the war, because it was, on face, a rational one.

      Let’s be clear: the German leadership were NOT nice people, and their aims for territorial expansion were both illegitimate and led them into madness in the next war. But for Britain, it WAS a war of choice even more than most actors, so the responsibility for the costs is heavy. Britain could have done more to halt the tumble but: a) had a discredited position as an arbitrator because grossly anti-German, and b) wanted to get in and win while others would do most of the fighting, as always. The only state actors who come out looking almost responsible are the Italians! Yes, they deserted their nominal allies by a faux mobilization than a switch, but they had stupidly gotten themselves on the wrong side which the Italian public wouldn’t support, so they realized the mistake and changed. . . . The Italians were too unimportant for anyone to care, though, or for it to make much difference.

      When China’s leadership starts looking like Germany in 1912, or Japan starts looking like Britain in 1914, I’ll be worried. The US does NOT look like France anywhere in there, so the situations aren’t really analogous, to me.

      1. Hugh

        There is a whole sub-genre of English war and invasion literature that dates back to George Chesney’s 1871 “Battle of Dorking” where German hordes invade an unprepared England. It is hardly alone, but what is interesting is that the Germans are often not the bad guys. There is William Le Queux’s “The Great War in England in 1897″ which came out in 1894. In that one, England is attacked by France and Russia and it is Germany that comes to England’s aid. In the early 1900′s, George Griffith mixing in large doses of Jules Verne continued the theme in a series of novels beginning with “The Angel of the Revolution” where England and Germany are fighting off Russia and France.

        I stumbled across this literature a few years ago and what impressed me about it was that the theme of a continent wide war did not hit the world and its leaders out of the blue in 1914. It had been in the air and in the popular literature for decades, but even to just before the War, it was far from clear on whose side England would be fighting.

        1. Mark P.

          [1] Some of this large quality of fiction is even substantial, like Erskine Childers’s THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS (1903). There are also works like H.G. Wells’s “The Land Ironclads” (1903), which play off it .

          [2] Jean de Bloch, aka Jan Gotlib Bloch, also should be mentioned. Because Bloch had warned everybody two decades earlier how things were going to be in a book called IS WAR NOW IMPOSSIBLE? (in its English translation of 1898).

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

          Bloch, a Polish-Jewish banker, started thinking about what future wars between industrial European states would entail after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. He took note of emerging technologies like the Maxim gun and, having assembled much detailed analysis, concluded that maneuver warfare over open ground with bayonet and cavalry charges was dead, as entrenched forces would have a fourfold advantage over infantry advancing across open ground. Hence, a war between European industrial states would inevitably bog down into a war of entrenchment, with opposing sides committing armies numbering in the millions, as opposed to the tens of thousands of preceding wars, as an enormous battlefront developed.

          Such a war would be prolonged, becoming a matter of total economic attrition. The side that suffered the least terrible losses might be the effective victor, Bloch argued, but it would be a Pyrrhic victor. Severe economic and social dislocations would result in the imminent risk of famine, disease, the “break-up of the whole social organization” and revolutions from below.

          Bloch pretty much nailed everything about WWI except tanks and submarines. He spent much of his time and money — and he was a wealthy, well-placed man — trying to warn people.

          They didn’t listen, of course.

          As to why that was — aside from Richard Kline’s excellent analysis above — a classic study, THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE MACHINE GUN, by the British leftist historian, John Ellis, casts the most overall light, IMO.

          http://www.amazon.com/Social-History-Machine-Gun/dp/0801833582

  5. David Lentini

    Given the track record of the clowns predicting “1914 in the Pacific”, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep.

    On the other hand, I would take a hard look at 1934 and the US policy towards Japan. The US developed a decades-long strategy to isolate Japan from expanding into China the Pacific precisely in order to dominate the China trade. Starting with the Spanish-American War, the US built bases and began to develope “War Plan Orange”, an integrated military campaign to isolate Japan economically through a campaign across the Pacific culminating in an economic blockade of the Japanese islands. Although the plan was justified as a response to Japanese “aggression” and protecting our west coast, the real issue was access to China and the westward expansion of US economic hegemony as preached by the likes of Henry Luce.

    The idea that we have another 1914 with China playing the part of the “crazy Kaiser” in very suspect, especially since it’s coming from the very fonts of wisdom that told us not to worry about China as it became another star in the capitalist heaven. In fact, much the same was written about Japan in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries: We forced Japan to admit our trade, then trumpeted that country’s success and aping Western culture and technology, and then demonized it as aggressive when we realized they were expanding on our “turf”.

    In contrast to the Pacific then and today, in 1914 Europe was tied in knots by the intricate alliances among economic and military equals. In fact, that was the key to the start of the war–Germany knew it had to strike fast in order to avoid fighting serious wars on multiple fronts.

    Today, the US is the sole power arrayed against China. The US has obligations to defend various states, but those states individually are small potatoes militarily. So, there is no web of alliances that will force one actor to jump to war in fear of multiple simultaneous conflicts. Instead, we are in the position we enjoyed in the 1930s: One of two relatively equal military powers, with the US anxiously eying a rising star (pun intended) in a region it wants to claim for its own.

    1. Richard Kline

      So David, I think your closing remarks are demonstrably untrue, even if your overall thesis is sound. The US has clear treaty obligations to Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea to come to their defense if they are materially attacked. ‘Come to their defense’ has a lot of wiggle room, but one the missles begin to interchange that wiggle room gets itself bunkered up. The point taken is that none of those states, or the Philippines, or practically anyone else is in a position to fight a war with China by themselves, and so barring total irrationality their decision makers will stop short of irretrievable provocation. And even _with_ such provocation, China and the US are certain to talk things over with each other before any barraging of substance. So yes, it comes down really to the bilateral relationship of China and the US, and manifestly neither is eager to fight the other.

      Japan may or may not make a lot of noise on its own, but cannot and will not fight a war without the major backing of the US—and even then a war would be utter, blind madness. No gain to Japan could be worth the short term costs, let alone the long term ones. Japan would like a different set of cards, but has to play the ones in hand, which don’t have ‘war option’ amongst them. They’ll only shoot if fired upon, so again it comes down to China’s willingness to turn to a hot war. And I just don’t see that at this time; completely the reverse, actually.

      1. David Lentini

        But that’s exactly my point–The US has a level of control that the Great Powers lacked in 1914, precisely because only the US and China are major military powers. China is demonstrably not in the position Germany was in 1914. That’s why the better analogy is to the US vs. Japan in the ’30s.

      2. Richard Kline

        So David, as I said I concur with your main thesis, which you re-express.

        I don’t see US-Japan in the 1930s as a good geostrategic analogy, though. Japan had already _invaded_ HUGE areas of another power, and continued to prosecute a highly lethal territorial conquest during that time. Japan during that time had what amounted to a succession of military coups—soft, hard, each gaining more traction than the last—which put a war + territorial faction completely in control. That simply is not a good analogy for China’s position at present. Furthermore, Japan had a very outsized military for their economy in the 1930s, and an economy which was by any assessment hugely inferior to the US. China at present has a very _undersized_ military relative to their population, power political position, economy, and the other actors involved—and knows this very well, together with just how egregiously expensive a modern military is. And China in many respects has a very competitive economy relative to the US. The Chinese economy is smaller, but they get to build things newer, and have done an excellent job of securing geopolitical economic allies as resource and market catchements, unlike the US which has done a terrible job in both respects over the last generation. Japan in the 1930s had seized a wide swath of overseas possessions which they had to defend, while China is essentially confined tot he mainland, but has the advantage of a strategic defense from a centralized population-resource base: the US has to take a war to them, which would only be very costly.

        A better analogy, to risk one overused, is US-Russia in the 1950s. Russia’s defensive ‘stall’ then worked militarily, but suffocated their economy. Now, China is breaking containment through a successful economic policy: I’d say China is winning, in that the they are successfully shifting the weights and markers in their favor. If one thinks that is ‘a bad outcome,’ than the US needs a radical re-think . . . but that’s not happening.

        1. Abe, NYC

          A key parallel between the run-up to WW1 and the Cold War is that supposedly defensive actions – a preventive mobilization in one case, building a missile shield in the other – would be seen as offensive by the opponent, who would be tempted to strike first.

          In one case Russian general mobilization played a huge part in the crisis of July 1914 while in the other the ABM Treaty more or less stabilized the situation.

          Right now it doesn’t seem like there’s a large risk of outright war. But if the situation deteriorates with an economic crisis or resource shortage, things could escalate pretty quickly. The Falklands war came out of the blue.

  6. Tim

    Re Richard III: Wow, they hated him so badly they buried him underneath a parking lot. This guy was the Jimmy Hoffa of England, I guess.

    1. tom allen

      Perhaps they just misheard his last words as, “A Porsche! A Porsche! My kingdom for a Porsche!”

    2. Mark H.

      More like the Johnny Rotten of his day! (Mr. Rotten famously said that he based his stage persona on Olivier’s Richard III.)

  7. AbyNormal

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-humble-sea-urchin-may-hold-key-to-tackling-climate-change-2013-2

    “scientists have discovered that sea urchins use nickel ions to harness carbon dioxide from the sea to grow their exoskeleton – or shell. It could be a way to capture tonnes of CO2

    When we analyzed the surface of the urchin larvae we found a high concentration of nickel on their exoskeleton. Taking nickel nanoparticles which have a large surface area, we added them to our carbonic acid test and the result was the complete removal of CO2.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am curious about how many sea urchins we would need.

        Will we be required to fill every swimming pool with these cute little creatures?

        And luckily, for those fond of sea urchins, Jevon sends this communication from the other world that, with this miracle cure, more sea urchins will be needed.

        We might end up filling every bath tub with sea urchins.

        Why don’t we just consume less? That’s a K.I.S. from me.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            AbyNormal, I am going to share with you a dish that will impress your dinner guests.

            It’s called Uni-corn.

            It’s sea urchin (uni in Japanese) and corn. SImply to make and delicious too!

            (I was hoping to save the idea to open my own sushi bar, in order to pay for my ever-increasing health insurance premium – that’s the meaning of life: to make enough $ to pay for one’s health insurance plan).

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          I was assuming we’d let the sea urchins alone and make nickel nano particles which would convert CO2 to a solid “waste”, then we utilize the solid waste for something useful. Like a shell house or house shell.

          This was purely a flight of fantasy and many engineering details need to be worked out, like cost and yield. Nickel is sort of expensive, so we may only be able to make nickel coins. Course then we can say the coins are worth anything we want, so things may work out after all.

          1. AbyNormal

            !ka-ching at the Hypo brain register !

            at this rate we can be silent partners in Prime’s Sushi Bar

            y u m

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If that’s not a money maker, my other idea, thanks to the Urine Drinker guest blogger for reminding me, is a Urine Juice health bar.

  8. Jim Haygood

    ‘I, of course, was there to deliver the truth bomb – we need to increase Social Security benefits.’ — Eschaton

    Quite so: SS benefits are pitifully low. A basic reason is low earnings from its obsolete, 1935-model investment scheme.

    In 1990, three American economists received Nobel Economics prizes, recognizing a revolution in finance that Harry Markowitz (one recipient) kicked off in 1952 with his paper on modeling the risk of portfolios. Bill Sharpe (another recipient) developed the Sharpe ratio to compare return and risk of mixed portfolios in his Capital Asset Pricing Model.

    Meanwhile, in 1964, James Lorie and Lawrence Fisher collected data on all NYSE stocks back to 1926 to calculate their return. Common stocks delivered a 9.0% return during 1926-1960, they found. Intermediate-term Treasuries, representative of Social Security’s holdings, delivered 3.0%. That’s a six-percent gap, folks.

    Thanks to the financial revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, all pension funds hold a mix of equities and bonds to achieve higher return, while taking advantage of the relative uncorrelation of stocks and bonds to reduce risk. This strategy flows directly from the analytical science of Markowitz and Sharpe. Pension fund sponsors can’t afford not to hold equities.

    But political inertia and financial Luddism keep Social Security frozen in amber, still clipping coupons as if it were 1935. This dismal setup produces exactly the results one would expect: invest for meager returns and recipients stay poor.

    1. Hugh

      Social Security isn’t an investment scheme. Most of the money that flows into it flows back out immediately in benefit payments to current recipients. Surpluses are turned over to the general treasury in exchange for special interest paying IOUs and spent in the regular budget like any other revenue stream. The interest on the IOUs and the IOUs themselves should be more properly viewed as a tax than an investment since other workers or the children of the workers who paid into the system creating those surpluses are the ones who will have to pay back with interest those surpluses. It’s not a great deal for the politicians. They get to spend the money in the surpluses that workers created and then they get workers to pay off the resulting loans and interest.

      The story is of course a little more complicated than this. The rich have gathered up so much wealth of the country that even at the low rates of tax that they pay and even with all the tax shelters and tax avoidance schemes they use, they still end up paying most of the taxes. This is in part why Obama and both parties are so interested in cutting benefits to Social Security recipients. The rich whom they work for don’t want to pay off those IOUs and they especially don’t want to do it with their money.

      Seniors should get a solid, stable income from Social Security, but as in so many areas this should come from a redistribution of our society’s resources through eliminating the great wealth inequality that currently exists.

  9. DP

    Yves (I presume these are Yves’ links) was crazy enough not only to read “Mish” but surprised that he’d be incoherent?

    1. Synopticist

      Mish is an Austrian, so even if he occasionally says something sensible, in the final analysis he’s an idiot.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think he’s a mathematician as he’s always talking about simple math (I believe it’s mostly arithmatic).

  10. Expat

    CIA rendition: more than a quarter of countries ‘offered covert support’ Report finds at least 54* countries co-operated with global kidnap, detention and torture operation

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/05/cia-rendition-countries-covert-support

    “The [Open Society Justice Initiative] is calling on the US government to repudiate the rendition programme, close all its remaining secret prisons, mount a criminal investigation into human rights abuses – including those apparently endorsed by government lawyers – and create an independent and non-partisan commission to investigate and publicly report on the role that officials played in such abuses.”

    Only a catastrophe can force the Benighted States to do the right thing.

    * Not Norway — they learned from the Quisling experience?

  11. Tom

    Nice comment from the Telegraph

    “The NIESR once again called for “a significant increase” in public spending on infrastructure projects to support the recovery as well as a “radical reform of the financial sector to support lending to the real economy”.

  12. Howard Beale IV

    Interactive Display Wall at a UK Children’s hospital: http://www.jasonbruges.com/projects/uk-projects/nature-trail

    “The brief was to design and install a distraction artwork helping to create a calming yet engaging route that culminates in the patient’s arrival at the anaesthetic room. Inspiration came from the idea of viewing the patient journey as a ‘Nature Trail’, where the hospital walls become the natural canvas, with digital look out points that reveal the various ‘forest creatures’, including horses, deer, hedgehogs, birds and frogs, to the passerby.”

  13. ohmyheck

    The Isaeli “buffer zone” of the Syrian border is a land-grab, pure and simple. Israel used the Syrian war it ginned up, with help from the U.S. and Turkey, as a pretext for this “security” action.

    I wonder how much in the way of water resources just happen to be found in that “buffer zone”?

    Oh, and Turkey really jumped the shark with this: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33824.htm

    “Turkey Slams Assad for Not Responding to Israeli Strike”

    Hey, we provoked you, so how come you’re not playing along?

    1. different clue

      I have been following the Syrian events as best as I can over at Colonel (Retired) Patrick Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blog. I haven’t seen any mention there of Israel being somehow involved in the original outbreak or ginning up of the war. Is there something that Colonel Lang and his commenters have been missing? Something linkable-to?

      1. watcher

        Why confuse anybody with the facts if we can hypothesize about Israel’s ‘grand plans’?!
        Assad killing more of his people than all casualties in throughout the Arab-Israeli conflict? Turkey ‘managing’ the Kurds based on methods developed with the Armenians? The Turkish government blaming Israel for stopping chemical weapons from going into the hands of non-sovereign entities, while they have already established a safety zone inside Syria? Jordan deploying international forces by the Syrian border? Russia and Iran providing Assad with weapons? The Russian navy vetoing any international intervention in Syria? Hezbollah deploying forces in Syria to clash with Salafi forces sponsored by the Saudis?
        Need more?
        Na, let’s focus on Israel’s ‘plans’…

  14. jsmith

    Not that I had any doubts as to the war criminals in our government:

    Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans

    “A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.”

    snip

    “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.

    “Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”

    http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/04/16843014-exclusive-justice-department-memo-reveals-legal-case-for-drone-strikes-on-americans?lite

    That’s just dandy.

    If anyone had any doubt about this:

    The people who are leading the government of the United States of America are treasonous war criminals.

    Full stop.

    Anyone want to form a punk band called “Associated Force”?

  15. bmeisen

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/01/fired-applebees-waitress-needs-tips

    Parallels to subprime and student loans? The food service industry, particularly those chains with table-service in their business model, e.g. Applebees, have removed substantial labor costs from the balance sheet. This must have a positive bottom line effect. The costs have been transfered to semi-freelancers whose income is largely dependent on a fragile social convention.

  16. David Lentini

    “So David, as I said I concur with your main thesis, which you re-express. ”

    Well, then I’m not sure what you found “demonstrably false” with my final point. If we agree that the US allies in the region are not significant military threats to China, then the US and China largely control the agenda, unlike Germany in 1914.

    As for your comments about China and Japan, my point was that the US has begun to view China with the same sort of suspicion and threat todaythat we did with Japan in the ’30s. I don’t think the differences you cite in terms of economics and military posture really challenge that point. My concern is more about the parallels in perception: Balanced economy or not; militarily extended or not; we viewed a rising Japan as taking a role that threatened to usurp our vision in the western Pacific as we view China today.

    As to the USSR in the ’50s I considered that point too, but I don’t buy it. The USSR had a completely different set of economic and military conditions. Simply put, then the competition between the US and USSR was ideological. We had nothing like the trade in goods and services with the USSR that we have with China today. The issue today is more about China’s ability to turn its economic strength into geopolitical strength and the corresponding threat to our Pacific vision and global financial dominance.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hacker…private data…bank executives…

    I just want their college/graduate school admission essays.

    I would like to want how many did not put down they wanted to acquire knowledge in order to help others, to save the world.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    First US City…resolution against drones…

    Let’s turn drones into flying robot-doves.

  19. briansays

    for those who don’t routinely/daily stop @ jesses

    Michael Lewis has written an excellent pocket analysis of the financial crisis in The New Republic, in his review of Greg Smith’s book about why he left Goldman Sachs. I have to admit some prejudice, because he says all of the things which I have been saying, and says them very well.

    Crony capitalism has always been with us, but it took wing in the 1990′s, and has brought us to this place where we would not wish to be.

    Michael Lewis does an excellent job of distilling the problem and its solution to the basics, without necessarily touching on the need to reform the political campaign process, and the revolving door that enriches the politicians and regulators through betraying the spirit, if not the technical word, of their oaths of office.

    Is a policy error still an ‘error’ if it is done purposefully?

    I had hoped that Obama might have risen above that as an ‘outsider’ with a mandate for change, but that notion was quickly dispelled in his first 100 days in office. He has pursued a policy of subsidy and appeasement and failed leadership that is killing the legacy and effectiveness of his administration, but enriching many participants in the process. And it works, because the US has become a culture of personal greed.

    One can speculate on motives endlessly, but we’ll leave that one to history. The end result remains the same. And the pity is that the ‘opposition party’ is even worse, even more servile to special interests.

    And the oddest thing is that this is almost a general phenomenon throughout the developed world, and not some anomaly of the US. And the culture of greed and economic repression was spread by highly placed political appointments affiliated in many cases with the same handful of US-UK banks.

    In the aftermath of the first Great Depression there was a general spread of militant fascism, and a great world war. So why not a rise of oligarchies employing financial repression this time, with a global currency war? There appears to be some precedent of corruptible, power mad people rising to the occasion.

    The Western governments have come to resemble competing crime families, more than an open democratic process of policy formulation for the good of the entire nation through constructive give and take. It’s mostly take, with the common people being taken, while the media and the pundits weave an alternative reality for them with words and emotion.

    So, here we are.

    What do you want to do tonight, Marty?

    “Stop and think once more about what has just happened on Wall Street: its most admired firm conspired to flood the financial system with worthless securities, then set itself up to profit from betting against those very same securities, and in the bargain helped to precipitate a world historic financial crisis that cost millions of people their jobs and convulsed our political system.

    In other places, or at other times, the firm would be put out of business, and its leaders shamed and jailed and strung from lampposts. (I am not advocating the latter.) Instead Goldman Sachs, like the other too-big-to-fail firms, has been handed tens of billions in government subsidies, on the theory that we cannot live without them. They were then permitted to pay politicians to prevent laws being passed to change their business, and bribe public officials (with the implicit promise of future employment) to neuter the laws that were passed—so that they might continue to behave in more or less the same way that brought ruin on us all.

    And after all this has been done, a Goldman Sachs employee steps forward to say that the people at the top of his former firm need to see the error of their ways, and become more decent, socially responsible human beings. Right. How exactly is that going to happen?

    If Goldman Sachs is going to change, it will be only if change is imposed upon it from the outside—either by the market’s decision that it is no longer viable in its current form or by the government’s decision that we can no longer afford it. There is a bizarre but lingering aroma in the air that the government is now seeking to prevent the free market from working its magic in the financial sector-another reason that the Dodd-Frank legislation is still being watered down, and argued over, and failing to meet its self-imposed deadlines for implementation.

    But the financial sector is already so gummed up by government subsidies that market forces no longer operate within it. Could Goldman Sachs fail, even if it tried? If someone invented a cheaper way to finance productive enterprise, would they stand a chance against the big guys?

    Along with the other too-big-to-fail firms, Goldman needs to be busted up into smaller pieces. The ultimate goal should be to create institutions so dull and easy to understand that, when a young man who works for one of them walks into a publisher’s office and offers to write up his experiences, the publisher looks at him blankly and asks, ‘Why would anyone want to read that?’”

    Michael Lewis, The Trouble With Wall Street

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    S&P 500 biggest drop since…

    It’s amazing Dow has, 24 hours later, roared back and is up triple digits.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whta is even more amazing is that, I understand, though not first here at NC, no money down mortgages are back.

      Maybe here is the chance for me to get into that $5 million+ housing sector that is apparently really hot, according to La Angelless Times.

    2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      Yup, Europe got better in less than 24 hours this time (a new record for fixing Europe), and there was no news or data in the US – which is hugely bullish, of course.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I wish I got over my cold/flu like that.

        It’s been 3 weeks and I am finally almost over it.

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          You need to see a trader – not a doctor. You may even find out you never had a cold!

  21. rich

    Yale Suing Former Students Shows Crisis in Loans to Poor

    Needy U.S. borrowers are defaulting on almost $1 billion in federal student loans earmarked for the poor, leaving schools such as Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania with little choice except to sue their graduates.

    The record defaults on federal Perkins loans may jeopardize the prospects of current students since they are part of a revolving fund that colleges give to students who show extraordinary financial hardship.

    Yale, Penn and George Washington University have all sued former students over nonpayment, court records show. While no one tracks the number of lawsuits, students defaulted on $964 million in Perkins loans in the year ended June 2011, 20 percent more than five years earlier, government data show. Unlike most student loans — distributed and collected by the federal government — Perkins loans are administered by colleges, which use repayment money to lend to other poor students.

    “If you borrow to go to school, it may not be just the government that ends up coming after you if you can’t pay,” said Deanne Loonin, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group in Boston. “We offer credit very easily.” If the student doesn’t benefit financially from the education, “the government or the school comes after them very aggressively.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-05/yale-suing-former-students-shows-crisis-in-loans-to-poor.html

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This bit is interesting, to say the least – If the student doesn’t benefit financially from the education, “the government or the school comes after them very aggressively.”

      You must benefit.

      You must benefit!

      YOU MUST BENEFIT!!!!

      OR WE WILL COME AFTER YOU!!!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s mighty tempting but after this ‘offer of benefit,’ I’d be afraid to go to college. I won’t even bother with being a hypocrite with my admission essay.

    1. Synopticist

      “We are the world, we are the children., we’re setting fire to Yankie cities, we’re f*cking crazy…”

  22. cwaltz

    I’ll see Atrios one “raise the amount we give Social Security recipients” with and raise him one “raise the minimum wage.”

    We need to do like the GOP and go into negotiations with a laundry list of “nice things.” Then we’d at least have a chance of accomplishing one or two of them in negotiations.

    The problem a lot of times is that the progressives tend to think small in an effort to appear reasonable. The result has been that we’re now farther right then ever. The time to be reasonable is not at the beginning of a negotiation. That’s the time to think big.

  23. optimader

    RE:Detroit
    Wow, File under: Holy Crap!
    Time to do a Cntrl-Alt-Del on Detroit and replant blueberry fields?

      1. different clue

        Hantz hopes to become an “urban plantation” snarfing up enough land to prevent anyone else from being able to roll out any other alternative approaches . . . because they won’t have any land to roll them out on . . . because Hantz will have all the land. That is the Hantz vision.

        If Detroiters can delay and deny Hantz’s vision, they can try other approaches like . . .
        Growing Power http://www.growingpower.org/about_us.htm

        and Spin Farming http://spinfarming.com/

        and different forms and versions of what Garden Girl has been doing . . http://www.gardengirltv.com/

        Perhaps it is time for Focus Hope to do for dense-pack urban agriculture what they did for industrial vocational training after the “Civil Disturbance Riots” of 1967. They could gather experts in the emerging practices of super high density agrihorticulture methods being developed and create a Focus Hope Green school to teach these methods to Detroiters who want to practice a high-knowledge super high-density high-production horticulture in Detroit.

  24. optimader

    “And a bonus antidote. I assume most Americans have seen this. The Super Bowl fave:”

    It would be interesting to see a show of hands who in this crowd watched the Superbowel.
    As for the antidote:
    1.) impressive horse;
    2.) gagging soundtrack;
    3.) offensive product by any metric.
    You can think of this broadly as a metaphor for the Superbowel as well.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I gasped out loud when I saw the Clydesdale gallop. I’ve never seen one gallop before. Somehow with them being so large, it seems like that ought to be impossible.

      1. different clue

        I read somewhere that there is a breed of donkey which is the “largest donkey in the world”. What if “world’s largest donkey” stallions were bred to Clydesdale/Percheron/Shire/etc. mares? The offspring would be quite the megamules.

  25. bobw

    Detroit. I grew up there, 50s, 60s and 70s. “Blockbusting.” Sell one home to a black family and soon enough all the houses in the neighborhood are for sale. May not have been right, but some people sure made money in real estate that way. I looked on Google Earth for my old address…vacant lot now.

  26. Jessica

    “The coming catastrophes and the Rawlsian veil of ignorance Ian Welsh”

    I would like to suggest that the state that the Rawlesian veil puts us into is one that could eventually become a normal state for most people. We would be aware of ourselves as individuals with our own unique desires and aversions and at the same time we would be aware of ourselves as part of a species that has its general needs.
    I have seen glimpses of this among practitioners of meditation and inner growth work, but it is not developing further because those circles are mostly averse to politics and even more so to any challenge to the roots of the existing power structure. In this blindness, these circles accurately reflect the current state of the knowledge worker (“creative”) class that these circles mostly belong to or aspire to.
    The knowlege worker class is, as a class, with many individual exceptions, unwilling to even look at the social structure. Some segments may dislike some of the outcomes, but the system itself can not be examined. For many, this is a deep-seated taboo. I believe that this taboo arises because the position of the knowledge worker class within the current system is a contradictory mix of the thirst for knowledge and truth on the one hand and their assigned role as executors and mind-spinners for the elite on the other hand.
    There is a word that I need here but I don’t think it exists yet. It is something like propaganda, but much broader and more subtle and it penetrates deeper into people. “Soul colonization” would be close to accurate, but is just too provocative and sci-fi-ish to do the job. “Legitimation” is also close, but far too dry.
    Whatever this thing is it includes propaganda in the classic sense, advertising, public relations, its more developed forms, for example astroturfing and veal penning, and all the maintenance of boundaries for correct thought in the media, academia, think tanks, and among “experts”. The effect of this mechanism as a whole is to legitimize the rule by our current elite and to at least delegitimize any alternative. From the perspective of this mechanism, making alternatives impossible to conceive of is double-plus good. But unlike Orwell’s image, this mechanism is more about confusion than constriction, more about narcissistic flooding than about limitation.
    This current system, in which we would still need some catastrophe to create a Rawlesian veil that would bring out our broader sense of We-ness, is a set of mutually reinforcing loops that include our bansai-ed knowledge economy, the resulting dearth of good jobs, intensified competition within knowledge class, lack of species awareness (which would help the knowledge class) and pliability at the hands of the elite, willingness to encourage mental and psychological states that reinforce the elite’s rule.
    The alternative set of mutually reinforcing loops would include educating everyone to the maximum they want to take on, jobs organized around what people are interested in enough to go through the rigors of mastering, sharing that knowledge freely and openly, an explosion of productivity and prosperity, recognition of our shared achievement in creating that prosperity, support of inner development and sense of living in a society with inner vision and society in harmony.
    What I do not know is how we get from the current system to the better one we are capable of. Waiting for some catastrophe to open up our eyes and hearts does not seem like a good plan. I am not even convinced that we respond that way to catastrophes. Scapegoating and mutual betrayal (do it to Julia) are just as likely.
    There are probably different points within the current system that different people can apply leverage to try to shift things. I am trying to work on helping people see that we do have the capacity to mature into the better, more broad-hearted people, who we need to be in order to create the better societies we all need.

    1. AbyNormal

      also from Ian today:

      A reminder

      Posted: 05 Feb 2013 10:48 AM PST

      “If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”
      ― John Steinbeck
      , The Grapes of Wrath

      Only when we understand, deep in our bones, that life and the world are profoundly, vastly unfair, do we approach compassion.

    2. Sufferin' Succotash

      I think the word you need is “hegemony”.
      For more on this, see Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks.

      1. Jessica

        Sufferin’ Succotash,
        Thank you. Yes, I have read Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks.
        His basic question, why do so many people put up with this sh_t, is precisely the one that gets to me.
        I think that the system/mechanism for generating acceptance of hegemony by the rest of us is more elaborate and developed than in Gramsci’s time, which is nearly a century ago now.
        In particular, confusion and distraction play a much larger and more elaborate role now than they did under Mussolini. So do cynicism and despair.

    3. different clue

      Grabby words for what the “knowledge classers” do would indeed be useful. Hopefully many people here will suggest such words.

      I will offer two such phrases to inspire other people here to do better:
      mass brainmolding and social mindwashing.

      1. Jessica

        I think those terms would work among the readers of this blog, most of whom are to at least some degree aware of and opposed to this process (under whatever name).
        On the other hand, something more neutral in tone might more easily reach those who have not yet quite allowed themselves to see how much the “legitimate” opinion and opinion-makers are corrupted. It would also match better with the rather banal quality of much of the legitimizing/delegitimizing mechanism. For every John Yoo, there are hundreds of thought molders whose contribution is to over and over again stop just a little bit of the truth or simply to sincerely express the opinions that come to them naturally (and for which they were selected over someone not so instinctively complicit). And on top of that, much of the effort of legitimizing/delegitimizing mechanism is intimately intertwined with efforts that are beneficial.

  27. Fallguy

    All this legal memo business is liable to be beside the point.

    Pakistan has accused the US of aggression. The crime of aggression is now defined, in compliance with the intentions of the international community dating all the way back to 1946 (Resolution 95 (I)). It doesn’t matter that the definition’s not in force yet. Under international law, a criminal is not off the hook just because he committed his crime before judicial procedures are set up in a particular forum. All crimes under ICC jurisdiction are crimes in universal jurisdiction too.

    By definition, if the facts show that your use of armed force was inconsistent with the UN Charter and manifestly in violation, nobody cares what your party hack mouthpiece pulled out of his ass as a legal theory. Nobody cares how your DoJ shyster interpreted the UN Charter, or what they told you manifest means. Nothing matters but your knowledge of the facts.

    Does anybody doubt that John Brennan was in a position to exercise direction or control over the US drone bombardment campaign? So people around the world will be listening very closely for testimony that bears on the question: Was John Brennan apprised of the facts of the Pakistan drone bombardment?

    Hey Senator Phogbound: you want to torpedo Brennan, just pop that question. You’ll see Brennan do a frantic Sargeant Shultz act. Cofer Black might bluster about facing prosecution when he’s hiding in the bunker with his flunkies, but Brennan hasn’t got the balls.

  28. Ms G

    Foreclosure Vulture Buyers offering Scholarships to indebted students!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-petegorsky/housing-bubble_b_2593292.html?view=print&comm_ref=false

    Excerpt:

    “… the foreclosure industry is now prepping the next generation of vulture capitalists by dangling scholarships as bait to entice needy college students into their ranks. Given that student loan debt has now climbed to $1 trillion with a third of that belonging to sub-prime borrowers, scholarship money can indeed be a strong enticement.

    In this vulture bait category was an item my wife spotted the other day while researching college scholarship opportunities. It turns out that Foreclosure.com(!) is running an essay contest for college students. The top prize: $5,000. And what, you might ask, is the essay topic?

    You’ve been tasked with analyzing two foreclosure properties to determine which one is a better investment. Many factors come into play, including cost, location, renovations (if necessary/desired) and local market conditions, among others. The goal is to maximize profit, whether it is a buy, hold or flip strategy over the short — and/or long-term.
    So here we are, just a few short years past one economic Doomsday, and we’re back to encouraging youth to make a career buying and flipping homes for profit. Not just any homes, but the still smoldering wreckage of the housing bubble. Is there any better illustration that financial crime syndicates have learned nothing, and are right back to the behavior that brought the economy to its knees?”

    Compare this with today’s news about Yale, Penn and other Ivies suing their ex students for nonpayment of Perkins loans (mostly in the 5 figures …)

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-05/yale-suing-former-students-shows-crisis-in-loans-to-poor.html

  29. JTFaraday

    re: And a bonus antidote. I assume most Americans have seen this. The Super Bowl fave

    Yeah, I don’t know. I want to like it, but for some reason it kind of reminds me of this scene from the movie, “Almost Famous,” where the Penny Lane character gets thrown under the bus:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7SqlVjFp30

Comments are closed.