Links 11/22/13

Flock of feral turkeys causing chaos in New York Daily Mail 

Pure manure: City uproots FL couple’s 17-year-old garden Florida Watchdog (JL)

Dow Closes Above 16000 Online WSJ. Wun’erful, wun’erful! 

Stock Funds Lure Most Cash in 13 Years as Market Rallies Bloomberg

WTO on verge of global trade pact FT

Drop in Traffic Takes Toll on Investors in Private Roads Online WSJ. If the owners of the private roads are foreign, could they sue the government for lost profits under TPP?

Boeing’s Massive 777X Order Book: Is It Partly a Shell Game? The Street

U.S. to Consider Cellphone Use on Planes Online WSJ. Anybody want to make book on the first assault case? I give it 30 days, tops.

Crash Families Channel Rage to Outlobby Airlines on Rules Bloomberg

The strange convergence of Bernanke, Hayek and Bitcoin Reuters

Brookfield’s Looking-Glass World Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation. There seem to be rather a lot of Brookfields, including the one that owns Zucotti Park, which Mike “Mayor for Life” Bloomberg cleared, naturally and entirely not on behalf of his paramour, who at the time sat on a Brookfield board. Couldn’t happen to et cetera.

Fed Minutes Reveal a Dangerous Power Grab by New York Fed Wall Street on Parade

Filibustergasm

Democracy Returns to the Senate Times

Reid, Democrats trigger ‘nuclear’ option; eliminate most filibusters on nominees WaPo (Larry Tribe?)

Tom Udall, Jeff Merkley clock ‘nuclear’ win Politico. Until the Republicans take over, of course.

The Obama Enabler’s Big Lie: “We Never Had the Votes” Naked Capitalism, 2012-07-12. “[T]he ‘nuclear option’ which, again, was just as available to the Democrats in 2009 as it will be in 2013.”

Obama holds off-record meeting with MSNBC hosts, liberal pundits Politico. The nomenklatura “thought leaders”: Brian Beutler, David Corn, Garance Franke-Ruta, Ezra Klein, Judd Legum, Josh Marshall, Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed Schultz, and Juan Williams.

Long-Term Unemployment Is Associated with Short Telomeres in 31-Year-Old Men: An Observational Study in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 PLOS. So disemployment shortens life expectancy. Of course, the elites already knew this from the collapse of the Soviet Union, which is why they adopted the policy, but it’s good to have academic confirmation.

SNAP Spending Has Started Falling CBPP

Behind the Scenes of Rahm Emanuel’s Poor Mayoral Strategy Alternet (OIFVet)

ObamaCare Launch

Nicole Hopkins: ObamaCare Forced Mom Into Medicaid Online WSJ. Yes, that’s how it works. One dollar below 138% of the Federal Poverty Line, and into the Medicaid bucket you go. Note, as the writer did not, that if you are over 55, Medicaid expenses will be clawed back from your estate, so in this case Medicaid is best thought of as a lien.

Florida in secret talks to accept funding for Medicaid from Affordable Care Act Guardian. Probably a kickback-driven privatized version.

California latest state to rule on Obama insurance plan USA Today

Older staffers see ObamaCare costs eat paychecks The Hill

A perspective on the relationship between national and state single-payer efforts PNHP (hipparchia)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA Spying EFF. All the documents in one handy location!

Repeated attacks hijack huge chunks of Internet traffic, researchers warn Ars Technica. Man-in-the-middle attacks.

NSA 5 Eyes Sharing Counterpunch. “‘[D]id the NSA diddle with traffic patterns”?

Meet the Spies Doing the NSA’s Dirty Work Foreign Policy. The FBI.

Survey: 1 in 6 writers have self-censored because of NSA surveillance Al Jazeera America. Mission accomplished!

The Quest to Build an NSA-Proof Cloud Atlantic

Online Anonymity in a Box, for $49 MIT Technology Review (Howard Beale IV)

The US Renounces the Monroe Doctrine? The Diplomat

Israel’s growing gang violence leads to calls for anti-terror tactics Guardian

Ukraine drops EU plans and looks to Russia Al Jazeera America

United States gives Afghanistan year-end deadline for crucial security deal Reuters

India Confronts the Politics of the Toilet Bloomberg

Japan’s Losing Battle Against ’Goldman Sachs With Guns’ Bloomberg

The Winners of the ‘Chase Twitter Fail’ Haiku Contest Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone. Since this is a family blog, I’ll quote only one of the two winners:

My mom wants to know
How you like her house, her porch,
Her climbing roses.

Readers, anyone up for a haikus? Propose and propound in comments!

Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West America’s Finest News Source (AbyNormal)

A Neuroscientist’s Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious Wired

Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts KillerMartinis (Marianne J)

Antidoted du jour (via):

cheeky monkey

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

96 comments

  1. craazyman

    A not-to-be named (due to restrictions in the contract) Too Big to Fail financial behemoth paid me $1 million to come up with a haiku response to the Rolling Stone haiku competition, in an attempt to express their point of view on the situation in the face of difficult publicity. I’ve already posted this once here in the peanut gallery but since I get royalties too, here it is again.

    Money is our rose
    Your mother’s bush lays in mud
    on a splintered porch

    I think it sums up my client’s point of view pretty well. For some reason they had a funny look on their face when they first saw it. But I still got the money cause there’s a sanctity in contracts when you’re at their level. It’s lazily constructed from a purely technical standpoint, but I’m not Japanese, OK. Since I got a $1 million fee for this, nobody can say I don’t earn my money like a bankster.

          1. ambrit

            He did love us once.
            He did make us believe so.
            We should not have believed him.
            We were the more deceiv’d.
            Get we to a nunnr’y. He be a breeder of sinners.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      People ask, how do you come up with your ideas, what inspires you?

      One can see from that haiku the soul of the poet, construction laziness aside.

  2. XO

    Lots of hand-wringing over the ‘nuclear option’ being passed, and what it means for the future of governance in the US.

    From a constitutional/functional/pragmatic standpoint, the rule would seem to change the balance of power, irrevocably.

    That would be a tragedy if the Constitution wasn’t already a “quaint” document, and/or if the government wasn’t already corrupted beyond the point of functionality or common sense.

    1. Tom Allen

      While I agree that much of the Constitution has been shredded lately, this change in the filibuster rule isn’t part of that. The filibuster isn’t enshrined anywhere in the Constitution. It was made possible by a Senate rules change suggested by Aaron Burr and has been modified many times since, as the Constitution does give the Senate the power to create its own rules of operation.

      1. XO

        If I understand the history correctly, each time a limit on filibusters has been passed, the process of blocking them has become easier. That said, a simple majority makes ram-rodding partisan majority legislation through the system that much easier. While you are correct that this is not a constitutional issue, it will make the further disenfranchisement of the governed that much easier.

        1. drb48

          Majority rule is “disenfranchising the governed”? You seem to be turning the situation on its head. In any case the very nature of the US Senate disenfranchises the governed, giving as it does the same number of votes to Wyoming’s 600k population as it does to CA’s 38 million. Probably more than half of the country is effectively “disenfranchised” in any case. If you’re a conservative living in a blue state/district your vote is worthless. Ditto for the reverse. If you’re on the left – like me – you’re completely “disenfranchised” because there is no party of the left in the US.

          1. fresno dan

            And please don’t forget the electoral college.
            What would the world look like today if the popular vote winner had taken office in 2000???

            1. anon y'mouse

              almost the same as it does now. probably with minor, mostly immaterial differences.

              the captain is a figurehead and not in control of this ship.

              the main question is probably: would 9/11 have occurred the way it did, or at all. was there something special about a Bush in the office or no?

              ((I have no idea))

          2. jrs

            We have majority rule? Woah, when did that revolution take place? Oh you just mean whatever of the two scumbags that are beholden to whoever pays them who wins the majority vote. Never mind … Come the revolution …

      2. sleepy

        I think what folks forget about this filibuster debat should take a super-majority of senators to cut off debate of a bill through a cloture vote.

        The emphasis until the past 20 years was on the “cutting off debate” aspect of cloture.

        Nowadays, a filibuster has had nothing to do with unlimited debate. There is no group of senators in the well of the senate demanding their right to be heard on an issue.

        What has transpired is that the number needed for cloture–60–has become the number of votes needed to allow a bill to proceed.

        Its roots in unlimited debate have long disappeared.

        1. sleepy

          Gawd, Proofread and edit:

          “I think what folks forget about this filibuster debate is the historical belief that it should take a super-majority of senators to cut off debate of a bill through a cloture vote.”

          Sorry.

        2. Emma

          I think Yves put it best some time ago implying that the most “crucial error of all has been missed: failure to abolish the filibuster”.

          I also think that the present Constitution is outdated and unsuitable for the 21C.

              1. Emma

                Ambrit
                It would have been a different kind of government design had the Founding Fathers anticipated some of today’s most insidious threats.
                It doesn’t work in the 24/7 news age, the fiction of ‘states rights’, the military industrial complex, shamelessly gerrymandered congressional districts, multi-million dollar presidential campaigns etc. etc……

  3. DakotabornKansan

    Long-Term Unemployment Is Associated with Short Telomeres…

    The genetic structures called telomeres protect the ends of our chromosomes from fraying. Telomeres are a measure of biological age. As we age, our telomeres shorten. Stress (at any age) by way of stress hormones accelerate the shortening of telomeres. Being chronically, psychosocially stressed can take a decade or more off our lives.

    The best explanation of stress from Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky, “Stress, Portrait of a Killer” – Full Documentary (2008):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYG0ZuTv5rs

    The film is based partly on Sapolsky’s best-selling book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: Stress, Disease and Coping.

    Why do we humans and our primate cousins get more stress-related diseases than any other member of the animal kingdom?

    Sapolsky says that humans and primates are highly intelligent, social creatures with far too much spare time on their hands. “Essentially, we’ve evolved to be smart enough to make ourselves sick.”

    “Primates are super smart and organized just enough to devote their free time to being miserable to each other and stressing each other out.”

    “The reason baboons are such good models is, like us, they don’t have real stressors. If you live in a baboon troop in the Serengeti, you only have to work three hours a day for your calories, and predators don’t mess with you much. What that means is you’ve got nine hours of free time every day to devote to generating psychological stress toward other animals in your troop. So the baboon is a wonderful model for living well enough and long enough to pay the price for all the social-stressor nonsense that they create for each other. They’re just like us: They’re not getting done in by predators and famines, they’re getting done in by each other.”

  4. rich

    SERVICE MEMBERS VULNERABLE TO PAYDAY LOANS Congress tried in 2006 to shield military members from payday loans, which come with double-digit interest rates and can plunge customers into debt. But nearly seven years after the Military Lending Act went into effect, government authorities say the law has gaps that threaten to leave hundreds of thousands of service members across the country vulnerable to potentially predatory loans, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Peter Eavis report in DealBook. Authorities say the law has not kept pace with high-interest lenders that focus on servicemen and women, both online and near bases.

    Interviews with military charities in five states and more than two dozen service members – many of whom declined to be named for fear that disclosing their identity would cost them their security clearances – indicate that the problem is spreading. In one example, the law failed to help Petty Officer First Class Vernaye Kelly, who winces when roughly $350 is automatically deducted from her Navy paycheck twice a month to cover loans with annual interest rates of nearly 40 percent. The short-term loans not covered under the law’s interest rate cap of 36 percent include loans for more than $2,000, loans that last for more than 91 days and auto-title loans with terms longer than 181 days.

    “Somebody has to start caring,” said Ms. Kelly, who took out another payday loan with double-digit interest rates when her car broke down in 2005 and a couple more loans this summer to cover her existing payments. “I’m worried about the sailors who are coming up behind me.”

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/11/21/service-members-left-vulnerable-to-payday-loans/?

    keep believing…low interest loans for scum/thieves but not our troops,,,? …disgusting.

    1. Carla

      In Ohio, payday loan interest rates are in the 350 to 400% range annually. This, despite the fact that Ohio voters passed a law several years ago capping such rates at 28%.

      It doesn’t matter. The criminal financial industry can do anything it wants, and it does. Many payday loan businesses are owned by Wall Street banks.

      I’m sure you’re shocked.

    2. Carla

      Just checked that Dealbook link. I think there must be a typo in the annual interest rate quoted of 40%. That would be an incredible bargain for a payday loan.

      As I just mentioned, payday loan interest rates are in the range of 300-400% annually in Ohio.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Funny cartoon, gigging the American Heart Assoc. and American College of Cardiology for new cholesterol guidelines which could mistakenly suggest that millions more people are candidates for statin drugs.

    http://tinyurl.com/kh4oqqf

    Don’t send contributions to these faux-charity pill pushers.

  6. Lupemax

    Anyone else notice that Janet Yellen looks very much like Jamie Dimon in a white wig? Or that she could be his mother?

  7. dearieme

    Charlene Hopkins and her premium of $276 per month: perhaps she should set the money aside so that she can bequeath it to some suitable charity: the funding of a monument, maybe, to the Victims of the Obama Holocaust?

    1. Massinissa

      Which of Obama’s holocausts is the Obama Holocaust? Is it the Drone strike one, or is it one of the others? I get them confused.

    2. BondsOfSteel

      She can also go buy health insurance off the exchange. I’m in WA, and I did.

      OTOH, I’m guessing any ACA compatible plan is going to be a lot more that $272/month. I’m guessing she was really going to be relying on Medicaid before if she got seriously sick.

      $272/month = 3264/year, well under what the average of ~$8000.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/health-care-costs-to-top-8000-per-person/

      Her plan/insurance company must have had a very high deductible and/or denied a lot of coverage. (Or worse, was good at dropping people.)

    1. Hugh

      A great irony is that Woodward was ever associated with Watergate. I remember hearing him talk about it a year or two after it, and what struck me was how utterly vapid he was. Although it made his career, the Watergate story held about as much interest for him as the coverage of a zoning commission meeting. And if anything, he had less than no interest in its wider ramifications on the Presidency and Presidential power. He was, in a word, a hack.

      Later on when he got into writing gossipy hagiographies, I was mostly surprised that he had, for his part, the smarts to parlay his Watergate fame into a position to write them. On the other hand, it was easy to understand why say a Bush would grant him access for them. It had to be obvious even to someone as dim as Bush what a hack Woodward was and how useful he could be. And even though Woodward became more critical of Bush toward the end of his Presidency, he was only tentatively coming to conclusions that most of the country had drawn years before.

      The irony of Woodward is that he got this rep as a crusading reporter when all he ever wanted to be was a courtier journalist. He never ever wanted to rock any boats. He just wanted to be asked on board. Time is not kind to this breed. I mean sure the Establishment treats them officially as icons, but unofficially the perception of them is from hack to has-been to self-caricature and finally dotage. Woodward waving his cane at all these young whippersnappers places him somewhere in the last two of these stages.

      1. TimR

        Russ Baker has some interesting background on Woodward in _Family of Secrets_. He would seem to be more than just a reporter…

  8. MikeW_CA

    “Tom Udall, Jeff Merkley clock ‘nuclear’ win Politico. Until the Republicans take over, of course.”
    Of course. But at least now they actually have to do that, instead of ruling from the minority.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You live by the sword of filibuster-buster, and you shall perish by the same sword.

      One day, and it surely will come as the sun will rise tomorrow, you will need to filibuster.

      It’s no different from building up a big, powerful government so that it will be taken over, how convenient, by an ever-watchful imperialists.

  9. Bridget

    The Hill article about congressional staffers experiencing sticker shock tends to confirm my opinion that all federal employees should have been forced into Obamacare. And these people have generous subsidies, fat networks, and concierge assistance. Nothing focuses the mind like your own pocketbook and your own family’s health. How different would things have been had these foolish people (who continue to insist that the Obamacare plans are both affordable and of high quality) operated with the foreknowledge that the Obamacare plans would be their plans.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      In Canada, I am told, medical services provided by the public system cannot be provided by the private system. Therefore, the political class has to use the same facilities and services as everyone else. They have, er, “skin in the game.” Their actual skin, not just money.

      1. Bridget

        That would explain something I recently learned. Brits and Europeans have private insurance available to them, often provided by their employers. Canada does not, except for vision and dental. At least, I was unable to google up any indication that a private health insurance market exists in Canada.

  10. diptherio

    Re: Japan’s Losing Battle Against “Goldman Sachs with Guns”

    Funniest thing I’ve read in awhile:

    the U.S. is concerned that Japan is too lax on cross-border organized crime and the huge, opaque sums of money the yakuza send zooming around the globe.

    HAHAHAHAHA!…faaaaak, my sides hurt…

    Remind me again, how many HSBC personnel were arrested? Riiiight….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s from the same playbook as yesterday’s attempt at diversion by looking at domestic workers in Hong Kong, as if there are no (I am shocked, I am shocked) slaves elsewhere.

  11. from Mexico

    @ “The US Renounces the Monroe Doctrine?”

    This article misleads on a number of fronts.

    Perhaps the most egregious is in the use of the word “our.” For instance, Keck writes that

    Kerry began the speech by noting that since President James Monroe’s famous State of the Union Address, the U.S. has “asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.”

    Then Keck goes on to quote this passage from Monroe’s speech, delivered in December 1823:

    We should consider any attempt on their [Europe’s] part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.

    But as David Malone pointed out in a recent post, “The New World Order – Part 1. The Betrayal of the Nation,” the word “our” has slowly undergone a redefinition over the past 200 years or so. ( http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/11/the-new-world-order-part-1-the-destruction-of-the-nation/ )

    I’m pretty sure when Monroe spoke the word “our” he was referring to the nation. There was booty to be had from the United States’ imperial conquests – justified under the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny – for a broad swath of the national population.

    But when Kerry speaks the word “our,” he is referring to what Willimam I. Robinson calls “the transnational capitalist class (TCC).” Carlos Slim is every bit as much a member of the free market Gestapo as Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein are. “Our” has become detached from the nation.

    So when Kerry makes the following statement, what he is doing is acknowledging the ultimate triumph of the TCC:

    Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over…. The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering… to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.

    When Kerry says “the values and the interest that we share,” what he is referring to are the values and the interests of the TCC’s messianic political program.

    There was an intermediate stage when “our” still referred to a national grouping, but a very select one. As Reinhold Niebuhr explained in 1932:

    At present the economic overlords of a nation have have special interests in the profits of international trade, in the exploitation of weaker peoples and in the acquisition of raw materials and markets, all of which are only remotely relevant to the welfare of the whole people. They are relevant at all only because, under the present organization of society, the economic life of a whole nation is bound up with the private enterprises of individuals. Furthermore the unequal distribution of wealth under the present economic system concentrates wealth which cannot be invested, and produces goods which cannot be absorbed, in the nation itself. The whole nation is therefore called upon to protect the investments and the markets which the economic overlords are forced to seek in other nations.

    –REINHOLD NIEBUHR, Moral Man and Immoral Society

    One must wonder, however, as the old places of memory come under assault, how much longer the TCC will be able to keep the people of the United States – that is the nation – on board for the neoliberal project. As Niebuhr goes on to explain:

    The modern worker sacrifices his patriotism in almost exact proportion to the measure of social injustice which he suffers. He disavows the nation only if it has thrust him out of its system of cultural inheritances and economic benfits in the most obvious terms. It may be taken for granted that all workers will be more sophisticated in a future war than in the past one. Social intelligence may prompt disillusionment without the immediate lesson of complete disinheritance. But the degree of anti-nationalism among wokers will always depend somewhat upon the measure of social injustice from which they suffer.

    1. FederalismForever

      The Monroe Doctrine as originally formulated was defensible to the extent that it prevented other European powers from acquiring territory in what became the Western part of the U.S.A. Many European powers (including the powers that made up the Holy Alliance) lusted after these territories. In addition, many of these powers also wanted to crush the U.S. experiment in democracy (lest their lower classes (e.g., the serfs) get any ideas). To the extent the Monroe Doctrine prevented any wars against these hostile powers from occurring on what became American soil, the Doctrine is somewhat defensible. President Monroe observed how the European continent was regularly wracked with war, and he wanted to prevent a similar outcome in the Americas – an eminently defensible stance for an American President to take. To say that the Monroe Doctrine was all about imperial conquest is to ignore this point.

      Regardless, Kerry’s speech seems to conflate the original Monroe Doctrine (which said nothing about actively interfering with the internal politics of other American countries) with the later “Roosevelt Corollary” of that doctrine, which actively espoused political inter-meddling, consistent with Teddy Roosevelt’s larger imperial ambitions.

      1. from Mexico

        The Monroe Doctrine “was defensible to the extent that it prevented other European powers from acquiring territory in what became the Western part of the U.S.A.”?

        You mean the territory which the U.S. took from Mexico in 1848?

        The problem with your brand of special-interest history is that your corrugated-iron constructions imprison the mind in petrified dogma.

        But with a moniker like “FederalismForever,” what does one expect?

        1. from Mexico

          PBS just did a 6-part series on Mexican Americans. The first episode covers the 1565 to 1880 period of what is now the Western United States:

          http://video.pbs.org/video/2365075996/

          Even though it would still undoubtedly be deemed to have a marked pro-US bias from the point of view of most Mexicans, it nevertheless isn’t the typical over-the-top boosterism one normally gets from US media outlets.

          1. FederalismForever

            The “territory” I was referring to was (1) the territory the U.S. “took” from Mexico as a result of the U.S.-Mexican war; (2) the territory now known as the State of Texas, which became part of the U.S. pursuant to a vote; and (3) the territory in the Pacific Northwest which Britain turned over to the U.S. as a result of President Polk’s treaty negotiations. Your failure to include (2) and (3), which the U.S. “took” peacefully, and instead only focus on (1), may reflect an anti-U.S. bias on your part.

            In any case, I do agree that the war with Mexico was an unjust war, for the reasons given at the time by freshman Congressman Abraham Lincoln. Not only was it not a “just” war, it was also intended to expand the Slave Power, by potentially creating up to 21 new slave states within the U.S. So, no credit at all to President James Polk for declaring this war.

            That much said, let’s assume instead that President Polk was a dedicated abolitionist, and had no intention of expanding the Slave Power. I still think there is a defensible application of the Monroe Doctrine for expanding the U.S. reach all the way to the Pacific Coast. Although this would be objectionable vis-a-vis Mexico, the fact is Mexico at that time was utterly unable to defend all the territory it claimed as a result of the 1819 Treaty (i.e., California, Utah, Colorado, etc.) It couldn’t even prevent Apache and Comanche tribes from regularly attacking Mexican citizens, and its domestic political situation back in Mexico City was completely chaotic. At the same time, Britain, France and the Holy Alliance were salivating over these territories.

            This is not idle speculation. Russia had previously extended its claims all the way down the Oregon Coast, and had previously set up a naval blockade. Britain had made overtures to Texas (during the brief period it was an independent republic) and France would IN FACT end up occupying Mexico for about a dozen years after Napoleon III took over while the U.S. was distracted by its Civil War. In sum, if President Polk hadn’t invaded Mexico and conquered its territories, one of these other powers likely would have instead. If that had happened, the U.S. would then have had to contend with a potentially hostile power right on its own continent – a scenario similar to the one that existed in the European continent, which resulted in constant war. On these grounds, President Polk would have a “somewhat” defensible reason to apply the Monroe Doctrine and extend U.S. sovereignty all the way to the Pacific, especially since Santa Anna was such an unreliable negotiating partner and Mexico had been such a bad neighbor (frequently defaulting on its debt, etc.).

            Regardless of these counter-factual hypotheticals, we can be glad the U.S. acquired those territories from Mexico, if for no other reason than it probably prevented millions more from being enslaved or killed during the administrations of subsequent Mexican governments, particularly Diaz:

            http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP11.HTM

            Finally, you say: “The problem with your brand of special-interest history is that your corrugated-iron constructions imprison the mind in petrified dogma.” What does this mean? Also, why does my moniker imply anything about the Monroe Doctrine?

            1. from Mexico

              That’s a very flattering story for fans of American exceptionalism. But there’s a rub, and that is that it’s mostly historical fiction.

              The PBS special I linked above corrects many of the distortions, half-truths and outright lies which you are attempting to peddle here. I highly recommend it.

        2. optimader

          Lets rewind the tape a bit further on who took what from who. Refresh my memory, why is Spanish the language of Mexico?

          1. from Mexico

            Duh!

            Aren’t you leaving something out? It was Spain that conquered Mexico in the 16th century. The Mexican Revolution to win its independence from Spain began in 1810, and Mexico consolidated its independence from Spain in September, 1821. After a brief flirtation under the Mexican emperor Agustin de Iturbide, Mexico adopted a republican form of government in March, 1823. Even though Monroe recognized the independence of Mexico in December, 1822, the U.S. would not appoint an ambassador to Mexico until 1825.

            During the Mexican war of independence Mexico sent a representative to the United States, Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara, who was able to gain an interview with Secretary of State Monroe, “only to become disillusioned at perceiving the US’s ambitions on Mexico” (Josefina Zoraida Vazques, The North American Intervention).

            The U.S. aggression against Mexico began in earnest in 1822 with the arrival in Mexico of the US agent, Joel R. Poinsett. As Josefina Zoraida Vazquez notes in The North American Intervention: “The most serious problem was that most of Mexico’s inhabitants were concentrated in the center and south of the country, while the threatened northern territories were practically uninhabited, which was interpreted by the expansionistic and dynamic neighbors to the north as an invitation to occupy them.”

            Poinsett, who had previous experience as a US agent in South America, immediatley began a propaganda campaign against the Mexican government, which he assured “would not be long in falling.” He also pushed for approval to allow a group of colonists, led by Moses Austin, to settle in Texas.

            In 1825 Poinsett was officially named ambasador to Mexico. He immediately began a dispute over the border between Texas and Lousiana, the United States having acquired Louisana in with the Louisana Purchase in 1803. The Adams-Onis treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain drew the border between Louisana and Texas at the Sabine River. Poinsett was not successful in moving the border of Texas westward, nor was he successful in his attempt to buy Texas from Mexico. However, “in his house Poinsett met with political radicals,” Zoraida Vazquez writes, “and provoked serious political problems.” In 1929 Mexican president Vicente Guerrero solicited the witdrawl of Poinsett.

            To replace him the United States selected Anthony Butler, “a man with neither experience nor scruples,” says Zoraida Vazquez, “a speculator in Texas land who managed to last five years by assuring his superiors back home that he was on the verge of securing the sale of Texas.”

            1. FederalismForever

              The story is more complicated, and is not one simply marked by U.S. imperialist aggression. There are lots of points that can be legitimately disputed, such as: (1) why, for a time, Mexico insisted that the 1819 Adams-Onis treaty applied (negotiated between US and Spain), even though it otherwise viewed itself as independent from Spain; (2) controversies over maps – not an exact science in those days – and often filled with errors; (3) the effect of the 1828 Treaty of Limits; (4) why Mexico refused to grant independence to Texas, even though the occupants were overwhelmingly in favor of secession, etc.

              In the end, however, I agree that Polk’s decision to launch a war with Mexico was unjustified. Even so, one of the authors you quote backs up my earlier point that much of the territory Mexico claimed for itself was very sparsely occupied. The author, however, spins this as a nakedly imperialist move by the U.S. The actual facts were less clear cut. Consider: if you were President Polk, you knew that (1) Mexico’s government was in chaos, and it simply could not adequately defend all of that territory; (2) many other world powers were sending strong signals that they planned to move on that territory; (3) some of these powers (e.g., the Holy Alliance) also wanted to destroy democratic governments, such as the U.S. Given these facts, you can either invade this territory (while it is sparsely occupied) and occupy it yourself, or sit back and let one of these other powers invade and occupy it, in which case you and/or your posterity will have to deal with a hostile power right next door (in addition to dealing with Mexico’s chaos below). Given this imperfect situation (as most political choices are) applying the Monroe Doctrine was not wholly indefensible.

              What really should have happened: President Polk should have upped his offer financially (Mexico had already refused an earlier generous offer), and conceded on some of the disputed border areas, and then Santa Anna should have swallowed his pride and taken this offer, since there was no way Mexico could adequately defend all of the territory it claimed for itself.

              1. from Mexico

                Besides your playing fast and loose with the truth, there’s also some pretty shoddy logic at work.

                For instance, you claim

                There are lots of points that can be legitimately disputed, such as…why Mexico refused to grant independence to Texas, even though the occupants were overwhelmingly in favor of secession, etc.

                Well if that’s the case, then Lincoln should also have granted Independence to Texas. The reasons Texans succeeded from the US, after all, were the same ones they succeeded from Mexico: because Mexico had outlawed slavery, and because the Texans were rebelling against a strong central government.

                Again, I very much recommend viewing the PBS special, because it corrects many, though not all, of the distortions, half-truths and outright lies you are peddling.

            2. optimader

              Mexico will disappear amid “the sands of time” and a great resurgent Mayan Empire will flourish again.

              from Mexico (the poster not the country) it can be argued has a rather provincial perspective when considering the “sovereignty” of a piece of land (Texas) in the full course of time.
              The argument over the legitimacy of US sovereignty over to Texas can be applied to the United Mexican States legitimacy before that as well.

              1. FederalismForever

                Exactly! Mexico declared independence from Spain, and then promptly refused independence to Texas.

                I watched the pbs episode “from Mexico” advocates. It’s entitled “Foreigners in Their Own Land”. Really? Even present-day Utah, Nevada and Colorado? It seems to me Mexico’s claim on those lands is quite weak.

                I didn’t learn anything in the pbs episode that would cause me to question anything I wrote above.

                1. from Mexico

                  FederalismForeversays:

                  I didn’t learn anything in the pbs episode that would cause me to question anything I wrote above.

                  Why does that not surprise me?

                2. craazyboy

                  If the Southwest becomes part of Mexico again, we would be eligible for Mexican national health care at $270 a year.

                  Something to think about.

              2. from Mexico

                optimader says:

                Mexico will disappear amid “the sands of time” and a great resurgent Mayan Empire will flourish again.

                Is that the best the ministry of American exceptioanlism can do, staw manning and other forms of dishonest argumentation? Of course it is, because there’s not an honest debate to be made on behalf of your position.

                Let’s go back to FederalismForever’s original claim, which was that the US’s western expansion, including its aggression against Mexico, was not motivated by imperial ambitions, but by self defense.

                “The Monroe Doctrine,” he tells us, was

                defensible to the extent that it prevented other European powers from acquiring territory in what became the Western part of the U.S.A. Many European powers (including the powers that made up the Holy Alliance) lusted after these territories. In addition, many of these powers also wanted to crush the U.S. experiment in democracy (lest their lower classes (e.g., the serfs) get any ideas).

                So what’s novel here? The answer, of course, is nothing. The US is always under threat. The US is always confronted with some grave danger in urgent need of decisive state action, with rulers prepared to take such intervention.

                Just look at our history over the past 70 years. We’ve had

                1) Vietnam and the dreaded domino effect (Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP9QDRDLw6c )

                2) Drugs (Nixon http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bsrxpVUKUK0#t=31 )

                3) The “Evil Empire” (Reagan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0NXs_uWPgg )

                4) The “Axis of Evil” (Bush II http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3Z3RpRYL8o ) and

                5) Terror (Bush II and Obama http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6qwP7reus0 )

                all which were trotted out as grave existential threats to the life of the nation.

                But notice how when our rulers do take decisive state action, it’s never against somebody or something they believe can fight back. It’s always against some little country like Grenada, Afghanistan or Iraq. In the War on Drugs it was mostly against poor blacks and Hispanics. In the War on Terror — the surveilance state — it’s against innocent and defenseless rank and file Americans. And in the 19th century, it was against Mexico and the Indians.

                So political mythologies are created, and they have just enough hint of truth to them to be verisimilar, to be plausible. These are the ideological garments by which naked interest is covered.

                Why you want to engage in this pernicious practice is beyond me. It really is despicable.

                1. FederalismForever

                  I actually agree with you, for the most part. The original Monroe Doctrine has been expanded (e.g., by the “Roosevelt Corollary”) to justify all sorts of U.S. actions that simply cannot be justified. You list a number of them (although I am somewhat sympathetic to the Grenada invasion). It seems our fundamental point of disagreement is that I think the original Monroe Doctrine is “somewhat” justifiable only to the extent that it prevented other foreign powers from also establishing a foothold in the North American continent, for reasons I have tried to state above. I do NOT agree with subsequent expansions of the Monroe Doctrine to justify all sorts of other U.S. imperialist activities.

                2. FederalismForever

                  One other thing: I think the U.S. really was under threat from Britain, France, Russia, etc., when it came to the territory that became the western U.S. There is little doubt that Russia had designs on the Pacific coast, had engaged in its own ethnic cleansing of the native tribes in Alaska, had set up naval blockades, etc. Similarly, given Napoleon III’s later occupation of Mexico, we cannot deny that France wanted these territories too. In sum, the original Monroe Doctrine (as I conceive it) really was a response to a legitimate threat, whereas, e.g., invading Vietnam or Iraq was not.

  12. Ron

    Pure manure: City uproots FL couple’s 17-year-old garden:

    I also veggie garden in my front yard as I have no use for lawn but do mix in various flowers, no tree’s… Odd that any government agency would curtail someone’s right to grow lettuce in there front yard, glad to see they are taking the issue to court.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Peru, Turkey and Hindi…and feral turkeys in New York.

    You wonder why bull-worshipping Hindus have not gone nuclear, sorry, ballistic on bull-killing Spain and other similar countries?

    Here is a few more natioal insults.

    In Turkey, a turkey is a called a Hindi.

    In Brazil, a turkey is called, in portuegese, Peru.

    In India, it’s called also a Peru.

    We of course, call it a turkey.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Growing out of corruption.

    There is a science fiction about a world where people have totally no idea of what non-corruption is like. It’s like from the movie What the Blip is All About, when native Americans first saw the ship from Europe, they couldn’t see because they had no idea that was what it looked like, and so it is in that sci fi world, that people there could not see what a society free of corruption is, and they believe their world is the ‘normal’ world.

    If no one has written such a fiction, there ought to be one.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A Haiku about the word Haiku or Ha.i.ku

    It’s three syllables
    in Japanese; In Egnlish,
    it is only two.

  16. Chauncey Gardiner

    Lambert, Thank you for the article from Wired about how networks become conscious and linkages with individual cognition. I am happy there are some guys like Paul Allen around who have both the values and the capital that enable them to fund this amazing research.

    I contrast it with the subject of other links at the top of the page to articles about the highest stock market prices ever, the control that the largest banks (and indirectly the FED) now have over the CEOs at major public corporations through concentration of stock ownership following the overturning of the Glass-Steagall Act, their control of stock options, the related misallocations of resources of an entire society, etc.

    For the rest of us it sometimes it seems to me there is the functional equivalent of an alternative universe in our everyday lives that is a matter of personal choice, but one cannot long remain there.

  17. Marianne J

    KillerMartinis has a Gofundme page up.

    http://www.gofundme.com/59yrak

    and a follow up thank you…

    http://killermartinis.kinja.com/i-have-recently-come-into-a-little-money-which-is-to-s-1466692680

    I’ve asked her to write something more concrete about how the Patriot Act has directly affected her ability to bank. This seems an under appreciated impact from PA, and I’m guessing more woman than men have issues with this. My mother, due to sudden driver license changes in MT, found herself without matching DL, SSN, Voter Reg, and Passport legal names. She’s had to go back, have her birth certificate updated I think with some legal bandaid, and now has to troll through all property, forms of identification, and financial accounts to ensure her new legal name is correctly applied. The root of the problem all boils down to a BC typo in 1950 that nobody caught, and the fact that women’s names change in marriage. So I’m curious how has PA has affected her…

  18. Hugh

    Taking up drb48’s point of the unrepresentative nature of the Senate, according to Census estimates for 2012, the population for the US was 313,281,717.

    Half this number plus one (156,640,859) would constitute a majority of the country.

    So the question is the population of how many states would it take to come up to or exceed this number. If the number were 25, then this would indicate that the Senate was roughly representative of the country. The population of the top 25 states would roughly equal the population of the bottom 25 states. The fewer states needed to come with this number, the more unrepresentative (and anti-democratic) the Senate is.

    How many states do you think it takes to form a majority plus one? Twenty? Fifteen?

    The answer is nine. The nine largest states have a population of 159,974,783 or 3.3 million more than needed for a majority. They are in order California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, and Michigan. These states have more people in them than the other 41. This indicates that the Senate is deeply and profoundly unrepresentative of the country, and provides a prima facie case for its abolition.

    1. Hugh

      I should add this is not a Red State/Blue State issue. It is one of fairness and democracy. Is it just that half the nation should be represented by 18 Senators and the other half by 82?

      1. anon y'mouse

        the problem with this, though is that then you get into the difficulty of “California, New York, Texas, Florida…” get to dictate the policies for the rest of the country.

        and, we have the problem that, whether it is true or not, there are perceived to be cultural/lifestyle differences in these places vs. other states. which may, in fact, be an example of some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy since people move around and may move to a place simply due to its ‘laid back’ atmosphere or whatever.

        this is not a small issue. there is a perception that place bears on attitude, lifestyle, culture, beliefs, etcetcetc. and if we were to give the largest states more reps, they would then dictate what policies we get. this would probably result in a whole heckuvalot of ticked off members in other states. we already DO have this problem with the electoral system for the president, and look how bad that situation has become (on its face. in truth, what it means is that both runners-up are vetted by the vested interests, and the policy differs very little).

        I believe that the system was set up so that population would have influence in the house, and so we could come to some kind of more just determination of the people’s will there, and then the senate would rubber stamp or veto these. it’s not a perfect system, but then neither is a straight majority one in a country like ours, or perhaps any country with a lot of disparities, and a lot of things to have disparities about.

        once read an article about Quebec’s quest for independence, and how even if 51% voted one way and therefore won, the other 49% would suffer disgruntledly with that result because they were against it. which means you have the problem of Solomon every time you bring a bill up for vote. we would possibly be in more dire straights than we are.

        then again, we get the virtual effect of this same thing since our entire country is split DvR, even by locality and since policies are typically expressed as aligning with one or the other (when in truth, they already know what result they’re aiming for and so frame the debate with those two options and push towards the middle where the pre-determined response will be). the popular perception in our country as it stands with this papertissue division is that half the population is totally disgruntled all of the time about something. easy to play one side off against the other.

        we already have people blaming stuff on California and so on (mostly because the view is that ‘anything goes’ in screwed-up Cali and that is why it is so ‘screwed up’). something like that would make it worse, no?

        1. Hugh

          The majority should have a greater say in how the country is run. At the moment, the country is run by the 1% and their servant elites, and that is working out quite poorly for the rest of us.

          Eliminating the Senate would move us to a more parliamentary form of government where the party in power has the ability to enact its agenda and if that agenda is bad or carried out ineptly, then that party has no excuses and should be voted out.

          I would note that the large states represent the country’s regions so they could well have different priorities. It would not be just the big states calling the shots. The Senate and gerrymandering in the House are examples of what, I believe, in English history would have been called rotten and pocket boroughs.

          As I have often said, we should begin by asking what kind of a society we wish to have for ourselves and each other. Whether one lives in Texas, California, New York, or Alaska, people want good education, housing, jobs, healthcare, and retirements. They want the wherewithal to lead a decent and meaningful life. That is an agenda which transcends regionalisms and can unite us. If we can not look beyond regionalism, then we should not be a single country. I do not believe this.

          1. anon y'mouse

            well, you definitely have a point there. and yet, how do you sell that to people that truly believe in differences between states, and state rights>federal rights and so on? who really believe that everything we do will be determined by the big nine, and aren’t too happy about that?

            our gov’t was set up when state identities trumped national ones, correct? for all we know, we may be heading BACK in that direction, given the developments that have been going on with healthcare, social issues, public banking and so on.

    2. Bridget

      If what you fear is rule by a few populous states, I think it’s the House at which you should be directing you ire. In the Senate, Rhode Island is equally as important as California.

    1. anon y'mouse

      thank you for this, rich.

      Giroux confirms a lot of what I’ve learned through college & my life’s journey.

  19. anon y'mouse

    so, under the neuroscientists view, we can assume that the internet is the master brain of all brains (well, all the human brains and computers connected to it). our brains have joined up to make another brain.

    scary.

    perhaps we’d best try to use this giant brain for good (social, informational) rather than evil (consumerism & hiring hit men).

  20. from Mexico

    optimader says:

    Mexico will disappear amid “the sands of time” and a great resurgent Mayan Empire will flourish again.

    Is that the best the ministry of American exceptioanlism can do, staw manning and other forms of dishonest argumentation? Of course it is, because there’s not an honest debate to be made on behalf of your position.

    Let’s go back to FederalismForever’s original claim, which was that the US’s western expansion, including its aggression against Mexico, was not motivated by imperial ambitions, but by self defense.

    “The Monroe Doctrine,” he tells us, was

    defensible to the extent that it prevented other European powers from acquiring territory in what became the Western part of the U.S.A. Many European powers (including the powers that made up the Holy Alliance) lusted after these territories. In addition, many of these powers also wanted to crush the U.S. experiment in democracy (lest their lower classes (e.g., the serfs) get any ideas).

    So what’s novel here? The answer, of course, is nothing. The US is always under threat. The US is always confronted with some grave danger in urgent need of decisive state action, with rulers prepared to take such intervention.

    Just look at our history over the past 70 years. We’ve had

    1) Vietnam and the dreaded domino effect (Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP9QDRDLw6c )

    2) Drugs (Nixon http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bsrxpVUKUK0#t=31 )

    3) The “Evil Empire” (Reagan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0NXs_uWPgg )

    4) The “Axis of Evil” (Bush II http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3Z3RpRYL8o ) and

    5) Terror (Bush II and Obama http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6qwP7reus0 )

    all which were trotted out as grave existential threats to the life of the nation.

    But notice how when our rulers do take decisive state action, it’s never against somebody or something they believe can fight back. It’s always against some little country like Grenada, Afghanistan or Iraq. In the War on Drugs it was mostly against poor blacks and Hispanics. In the War on Terror — the surveilance state — it’s against innocent and defenseless rank and file Americans. And in the 19th century, it was against Mexico and the Indians.

    So political mythologies are created, and they have just enough hint of truth to them to be verisimilar, to be plausible. These are the ideological garments by which naked interest is covered.

    Why you want to engage in this pernicious practice is beyond me. It really is despicable.

Comments are closed.