Links 1/23/14

An insiders’ guide to white-anting climate science MacroBusiness

Michael Pollan Explains What’s Wrong With the Paleo Diet Grist (Lambert)

NewsWatch: Is Facebook like a spreading disease that’s about to fade away? Princeton study creates stir MarketWatch

Google Glass moviegoer detained for hours on suspicion of piracy RT

ILO warns young hit hardest as global unemployment continues to rise Guardian

China Manufacturing Index Signals Surprise Contraction Bloomberg

Two Former Japanese Prime Ministers Try to Shake Up Japanese Politics to Kill Nuclear Energy George Washington

Eurozone ‘to face fresh debt crisis this year’ Telegraph

Europe, Facing Economic Pain, May Ease Climate Rules New York Times

Hollande’s Savage Economic Plan Dean Baker, Counterpunch (Carol B)

Ukraine opposition issues ultimatum BBC

Kiev, January 2014: black smoke in the sky, blood stains in the snow Matt Frei (Richard Smith)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Live Q&A with Edward Snowden: Thursday 23rd January, 8pm GMT, 3pm EST FreeSnowden (Deontos)

Microsoft to shield foreign users’ data Financial Times

Chrome Bugs Allow Sites to Listen to Your Private Conversations Tal Ater

Obama is right: privatizing metadata storage would be a nightmare Yasha Levine, Pando (mookie)

General Stanley McChrystal Discusses the Downsides of Drones Mother Jones

Apparently, US Officials Can’t Get Verizon on the Line Marcy Wheeler

Days later, Obama’s spy speech has people scratching their heads McClatchy. Lambert: “Mission accomplished!”

U.S. Accuses Security Background Check Firm of Fraud Wall Street Journal

Booz Allen, Snowden’s old firm, looking to help US government with ‘insider threats’ McClatchy

The Liberal Surveillance State Crooked Timber. Mookie particularly recommends the comments.

Obamacare Launch

Medicaid enrollment jump spurred by Obamacare, but how much? CNBC

New GOP Attack on Obamacare Threatens Flood Insurance, Too Bloomberg

Obamacare’s Risk Corridors Won’t Be A ‘Bailout’ Of Insurers Forbes

One of Ezra Klein’s Last Wonkblog Posts Made an Unwonky Mistake About My Obamacare Op-Ed Michael Moore

True Single-Payer Healthcare System Being Considered in New York Assembly TruthOut

Nuclear Corps, Sidelined in Terror Fight, Produced a Culture of Cheating New York Times. Lambert also points to an earlier article, Cheating Accusations Among Officers Overseeing Nuclear Arms, and notes: “The sociology is a lot more interesting than the headline. Ditto strategic implications.”

Halliburton Manager Gets Probation For Gulf Oil Spill And Destroying Evidence DSWright, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Company that contaminated WV water supply reaches bankruptcy deal, bemoans ‘perception’ problem Daily Kos (Carol B). Only in America…

De Blasio has left New York City on its a**! Al Roker leads criticism of new mayor’s ‘class war’ snow failures Daily Mail

More Oil Spilled in 2013 US Rail Incidents than Previous 37 Years Combined OilPrice

Ezra Klein and the early-mover disadvantage Columbia Journalism Review

Mortgage applications rise 4.7% Housing Wire

Hours and friction prompted El-Erian exit Financial Times

Berkshire Is Said to Face Start of U.S. Systemic-Risk Scrutiny Bloomberg (Lambert)

“Marriage promotion” is a destructive cargo cult Steve Waldman. Aiee, late to link to this.

Why Wall Street shorts economists and their DSGE models Lars P. Syll

Wall Street’s unexpected allies: How groups who “represent the poor” quietly push deregulation Dave Dayen, Salon

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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97 comments

  1. LucyLulu

    Freedom Industries has more than just a perception problem. It’s a good thing WV is so dependent on the coal industry…. and needs drinking water. In some areas, the “licorice” smell and taste are still present in tap water and residents continue to complain of rashes and feeling ill. Governor Tomblin said “it’s your decision” if residents should drink the water, but bottled water distribution has ended. Now, as of Tuesday, a second chemical was reported to have also been spilled, PPH, an agent known to cause chemical burns. Freedom has been ordered to turn over a complete list of chemicals.
    http://wvmetronews.com/2014/01/21/freedom-says-second-chemical-in-tank-that-leaked/

    “But Richard Denison, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, noted that Freedom Industries withheld the specific chemical identify of the “PPH, stripped.” The MSDS provided by the company lists the key “chemical abstract service” identification number as “proprietary.”
    “All this means yet more questions and more uncertainty for West Virginia residents,” Denison wrote on his group’s blog. “The number of lessons to be drawn from this West Virginia chemical spill appears to be growing by the day.”
    (link below)
    http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201401220031

    Freedom has been ordered to turn over a complete list of chemicals. They are denying any others. It appears little is know about either chemical, the first having been grandfathered in prior to instituting regulations mandating MSDS testing, the second being a proprietary formulation.
    The WV Gazette has another article about the fang-less legislation being passed in response to the spill. WV, including the residents I suspect, is terrified of losing the only well-paying jobs the state still has left.
    Oh, and btw, the owner of Freedom Industries also owns a coal company in PA. That’s his primary source of income/assets. (Manchin and pals kept focused their response on this not being a coal industry problem.) That’s in addition to the company he owns which is loaning the funds to keep Freedom solvent during Chapter 11 bankruptcy (according to comment on Kos article, judge has deferred decision giving lender secured priority claim status on Freedom’s assets).

    1. Paul Tioxon

      The persistence of not just an obsolete coal industry, but now dangerous on a daily basis to the lives of close to half a million Americans in WV, is testimony to the political minefield of contending short, medium and long term policy decisions. Short term, meaning right now, the effort to kill off the coal industry should take priority for political policy and all supporting agitation to accomplish this. We now have a alternative fuel, natural gas that is being fracked, that can displace coal. By spinning in circles of outrage, nothing is getting done during this immense opportunity to stop one of three killer industries operating simultaneously with all of their deadly affects, short, medium and long term. The coal industry is on its last legs. Only 89,000 jobs are supported by this industry that once number in the millions. Oil, then gas pushed it aside. Many of the homes in PHilly, including the one I grew up in had a coal bin in the basement. The coal furnace was retrofitted with an oil burning gun which I took out completely, along with the 250 gallon steel oil tank and replaced during the 1970s oil crisis with a gas heater the size of a dormitory fridge. I am old enough to have witnessed the opportunistic displacement of one commodity with another. We are now living during a historic opportunity to completely do a way with coal as a component of the energy industry. Half of the coal in the US is produced by only 5,000 miners from the open pit mines of the West.

      http://www.satellitesights.com/satelliteimage/Lavender_Pit_Open_Pit_Coal_Mine_Arizona_United_States

      The above satellite view show why these mine will persist. But on the Eastern Applachian coal seam, the underground mines are dirty, deadly, and some are even on fire now as I write. These mines should be systematically shut down before the small amount of jobs left kills off 100 times as many people who still have to live in these unnecessary areas of national sacrifice. We do not need coal anymore. The people who have been claimed as needing the jobs are now being directly killed and poisoned by the jobs that are supposed to be their life line. Just pretend they are Syrian civilians being gassed and tortured by a military mad man and the US has to intervene to stop the unspeakable genocide of the
      Appalachian Americans, maybe that will overcome some objections to playing the short term politics of accepting fracked gas in exchange for shutting down coal.

      ———————————————————————————————————————–

      EXCERPT FROM BILL MOYERS TALKING W/ CHRIS HEDGES:

      “.. BILL MOYERS: You call them sacrifice zones.

      CHRIS HEDGES: Right.

      BILL MOYERS: Explain what you mean by that.

      CHRIS HEDGES: Well, they have the individuals who live within those areas have no power. The political system is bought off, the judicial system is bought off, the law enforcement system services the interests of power, they have been rendered powerless. You see that in the coal fields of Southern West Virginia.

      Now here, in terms of national resources is one of the richest areas of the United States. And yet these harbor the poorest pockets of community, the poorest communities in the United States. Because those resources are extracted. And that money is not funneled back into the communities that are sitting on top of, or next to those resources.

      Not only that, but they’re extracted in such a way that the communities themselves are destroyed quite literally because you have not only terrible problems with erosion, as they cause when they do the mountaintop removal, they’ll use these gigantic bulldozers to push off all the trees and then burn them.

      And when we flew over the Appalachians, and it’s a terrifying experience, because you realize only then do you realize how vast the devastation is. Just as when we were both in the war in Bosnia, you couldn’t grasp the destruction of ethnic cleansing until you actually flew over Bosnia, and village after village after village had been razed and destroyed.

      And the same was true in the Appalachian Mountains. And these people are poisoned. The water is poisoned, it smells, the soil is poisoned. And the people who are making tremendous profits from this don’t even live in West Virginia–

      BILL MOYERS: You said something like, “While the laws are West Virginia are written by the coal companies, 95 percent of those coal companies–”

      CHRIS HEDGES: Right.

      BILL MOYERS: “–are not in West Virginia.”

      CHRIS HEDGES: That’s right. They no longer want to dig down for the coal, and so they’re blowing the top 400 feet off of mountains poisoning the air, poisoning the soil, poisoning the water.”

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31978.htm

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Having apparently done all he can for the good people of WV, Senator Jay Rockefeller announced in early 2013 that he is retiring.

        “At 75, Rockefeller said he wanted to focus on his family and called his decision entirely personal.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/jay-rockefeller-resigns_n_2455812.html

        I’d imagine it is “personally” problematic to represent a state in which one can’t drink the water. Thank you for your service, Jay.

      2. Skeptic

        Congresscritters are supposed to represent the interests of the citizens of the STATE from which they are elected. Why then is it legal for citizens/corporations from other STATES to contribute to the campaigns of Congresscritters in any STATE? I’m sure the Founders of the US would be horrified at this development and consider it unconstitutional.

        1. James Levy

          I hate to burst your bubble (I won’t, of course, because worship of The Founders is more sacred here than worship of The Creator) but the Founders would have fully expected that the owners of those coal mines be exactly the people who would “represent” the state in the national legislature. You see, they were just as big a bunch of plutocrats (perhaps more so) as the people who are running the show today. They thought the people who owned this country should run it–period. Egalite was an ideal of the much-maligned French, not the founders of this republic. And representation was supposed to reflect the economic interests (trade, slave labor, mining, whatever) of the states, not the well-being of their people.

  2. grayslady

    Regarding the sawhet owl photo: Every year, in mid-October, the Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, conducts Owl Fest in conjunction with its annual banding and count of sawhet owls. Naturalists and trained volunteers provide onlookers an opportunity to view, and even pet, the owls before they are released back into the wild. It’s an incredible experience and excellent opportunity to view and photograph this otherwise elusive, second-smallest owl. The nearby Maritime Museum in Manitowoc is also worth a visit while in the area, and includes a tour of an actual World War II Manitowoc submarine.

    1. optimader

      GraysLady

      This is in Baraboo, veeeery cool refuge, and a worthy charity. I dig these feathered velociraptor critters

      https://www.savingcranes.org/

      International Crane Foundation
      E-11376 Shady Lane Rd. P.O. Box 447
      Baraboo, WI 53913 USA
      Phone: 608.356.9462
      Fax: 608.356.9465
      View our location

  3. AbyNormal

    McDonald’s Q4 financial results are out, and the numbers are mixed.
    Earnings came in at $1.40 per share, which was a penny higher than expected.
    However, sales were weak.
    Global comparable store sales unexpectedly declined by 0.1%. Analysts were looking for 0.5% gain.
    “While 2013 was a challenging year, we begin 2014 with a renewed focus on the global growth priorities that are most impactful to our customers,” said CEO Don Thompson.

    Here’s a regional breakdown of comparable store sales:

    U.S. -1.4%, which was worse than the -0.2% expected.
    Europe: +1.0%, which was weaker than the +1.1% expected.
    Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Africa.: -2.4%, which was worse than the -1.3% expected.

    “As we begin 2014, global comparable sales for the month of January are expected to be relatively flat,” said Thompson. (bloomingberg)

    [A German tourist walks into a McDonald’s in New York City and orders a beer. (In Germany and many parts of Europe, McDonald’s actually does serve beer.) The local guy in the line behind him immediately gives him the jab: “They don’t serve BEER here, you MORON!” The German fellow felt pretty stupid, but suddenly turns to the New Yorker with a surprised look, and begins to chuckle.”And what’s so funny?!?” the New Yorker demands.”Oh, nothing really, I just realized that you came here for the food.”]

    1. MikeNY

      The word (?) “impactful” makes me want to tear the speaker’s tongue out.

      Biz-speak at its most hideous.

      1. AbyNormal

        “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
        James Nicoll
        ‘ )

        1. MikeNY

          I don’t mind neologisms, if they’re good ones. I don’t mind borrowing, and I readily concede that English is a mutt.

          But I loathe, detest, abominate, execrate, abhor and curse empty, overused biz-speak terms like “significant” and “impactful” that are usually nothing but space-fillers. Furthermore, the active form “to make an impact” sounds to me much better than the lazy linking verb + pseudo-adjective “impactful”. Besides, “impactful” makes me think of something that clogs or constipates, rather like some of Mickey D’s food. Throughly unpleasant and unaesthetic

          End unhinged rant.

          1. Jim S

            Amen. I will be forever grateful to Lambert for introducing me to the term “weasel words”. But before I knew what weasel words were, I knew that business speak must be weasel words.

            1. Montanamaven

              Great book by Don Watson. “Death Sentences: how cliches, weasel words and management speak are strangling public language. Thoughtful and entertaining from a comedian and political speech writer.

  4. Chuck Jines

    The paleo diet proponents all too frequently come across in a manner resembling religious fanatics. Strong on belief, weak on evidence.

    For a scientific perspective on the paleo diet please see Margaret Zuk’s book ‘Paleofantasy’

    1. Klassy

      I think they’re hilarious. The New Yorker had a Talk of the Town thing about a barefoot runner guy. He took a cab to Central Park to do his barefoot running. The New Yorker noted he was a Harvard grad (not important to the story, but important to The New Yorker. I suppose for them it is shorthand for “there’s something to this barefoot running thing”. ) He started barefoot running when imagining he was carrying his slaughter back to the cave while running on the treadmill was just not cutting it for him anymore. He was an adherent of paleo. I think that is as good an example of the paleo mind set as any.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Paleo Way, frankly, is about success…only after many failures, and hopefully no taxi ride the next time, or the next time after the next time (Harvard people may not be the most street smart nor road wise).

        Not easy come, but hopefully, not easy go.

        It’s different from ‘easy come, easy go.’

      2. TimR

        Klassy- Yeah they’re hilarious. So are people who unconsciously imbibe mainstream views on nutrition (eg the USDA food pyramid, fat phobia) and then believe they’re just taking an obvious, common-sense, “everything in moderation” approach to eating. Or they say they “just try to eat healthy” where by healthy they mean “all the standard dogma floated around by the popular media, based on politicized, ag-industry funded science.”

        1. Klassy

          Actually Tim, what I reject is the whole idea of the primacy of diet in overall health. To me, it’s just a hop,skip, and a jump to “it’s all your fault” if you have poor health.

      3. Pete

        Easy now. “Paleo” is a bit of a misnomer. How about ” nutrient-dense, toxin-free, whole-foods based diet”? It isn’t so much an attempt to mimic hunger gatherer or “caveman” diets (that would be almost impossible to hone in on with all the regional variables such as seasons, tribal behaviors and food sources available), as it is to eat a pre-industrial food diet. That just means seeking real/whole foods while avoiding modern mutated and refined cereal grains, heavily processed foods, and sugars- which have turned the USA into a giant diabetes clinic. Anyone who has thoroughly investigated would understand Pollan’s piece as more of an endorsement than a critique.

        It really isn’t a “diet” so much as an general approach to food (sure, there may be some fanatics just like with anything). This piece has a nice reader “hook” to it though. I’m sure it juked up the hit stats. In less than a year I personally cleaned up several cumulative health problems which stemmed from eating an SAD “lowfat” BS diet for most of my life. This isn’t a fad diet, it’s rethinking what food should be.

        From most excellent nutrition guru, Chris Kresser…. “What we do know about paleo
        We still know, for example, that modern diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, autoimmunity and heart disease were rare (or even nonexistent) in paleo people and are still rare in the few HG groups around the world that have been lucky enough to preserve their traditional diet and lifestyle.

        We also know that when modern foods like wheat flour, industrial seed oils and sugar are introduced in these populations, the incidence of modern diseases goes up commensurately. And, even more telling, when these groups return to their traditional ways, the modern diseases disappear again. This suggests that it wasn’t some genetic vulnerability that caused them to develop modern diseases with the introduction of modern foods.

        So yes, paleo may not actually be paleo. We will probably never know exactly what our paleo relatives ate.

        My response to that? I couldn’t care less.

        Why? Because we know enough about ancestral diets in a general sense to suggest that they are superior to modern diets for human health. And we know enough – thanks to current clinical research – about modern foods like flour, seed oils and sugar to know that we shouldn’t be eating them.

        That’s enough for me.

        I really wish there was a word (other than paleo) I could use to describe a nutrient-dense, toxin-free, whole-foods based diet. Because that’s kind of a mouthful, and it leaves a lot open to interpretation. A raw-food vegan could hear me say that and think I’m talking about their diet. I’m not.

        So I go on using the term “paleo” to loosely refer to a diet that emphasizes animal protein and fats, starchy & non-starchy vegetables, fermented foods, raw dairy (when tolerated) and fruit, nuts & seeds (in moderation).

        I wish there was another term I could use that didn’t evoke a quasi-religious debate. But I don’t know of one, so for now, I guess I’ll just have to deal with all of the baggage that comes with “paleo”.”

        1. LizinOregon

          Pete – great explanation of the reality of the real paleo diet. It has much in common with Pollan’s promotion of eating real food, but his current obsession with bread is a disappointment. No way humans can live on bread alone. The evidence is compelling that we would never have evolved our current brains without the dense nutrition of animal proteins and fats.

      4. Skeptic

        Here in the boondocks far from the Eve Evil Big Apple, I started barefoot running after reading
        Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – by Christopher McDougall.

        I used cheap beach slippers to protect my feet and now run barefoot when weather permits. Been doing that for five years. The book makes very logical arguments for barefoot running and also slams the running shoe empires of Adidas, Nike, etc. who sell overpriced/logoed commodities for exorbitant amounts. Much of that produced by exploited labor in Asia. It’s the usual overconsumers and advertising slaves who buy all those ripoff running shoes.

        Liberate your running feet and wallet by reading the book.

        1. Klassy

          I wasn’t making a comment about barefoot running per se; it was about the fact that this guy was driving somewhere to go for his barefoot run. I don’t run a lot, and when I do I try to combine it with errands, so barefoot is out for me, but don’t I get points for not taking the car?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Every living being evolves its/his/her body in accord with its/his/her diet.

      Except in extreme habitat conditions, any living being should do well in its/his/her growing/adult stages.

      That’s what one expects from millions of years of evolution and adaption.

      I would think that there is no reason to suggest paleo diet (if that was what people ate) didn’t work for the Paleo Man in his youth and early adulthood, when he was at his healthiest.

    3. TimR

      Pollan did not much address the *premise* of the paleo diet, he criticized adherents for their sloppy *execution* of it.

      I think Paleo brings some good ideas to the table, of course it’s not the final word. And of course some True Believers will take it too far or make it seem ridiculous. It has raised some important questions about the industrial food supply though. And some brilliant thinkers such as Paul Jaminet have used it as a starting point which they’ve refined and developed into something more nuanced and well thought out.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I was going to slap on the label of Neo-Paleo Diet for taking what worked and updating it for account for what dietary knowledge we have today and adjusting for today’s world.

          Basically, be open minded and flexible.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if the miracle was the conditions that led to those not improbable initial conditions.

    2. David Smith

      Or maybe it’s just that the miracle is that the basic laws of physics are such that life is an inevitable result? That the “not improbable set of starting conditions” were what they were rather than some other of the “not improbable set”?

      Do we tend to see (or interpret what we see) what we want to find?

    3. Garrett Pace

      “Whether or not England’s ideas turn out to be exactly right, she said, “thinking more broadly is where many scientific breakthroughs are made.”

      It is possible that the miracle of life is not a “miracle” (whatever baggage people display when they use that word), just undemonstrated.

      As far as I can tell from the article it’s a fun, thought provoking idea from a young thinker.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        If there’s anything to the hypothesis, it would likely inevitably make life commonplace in the universe. It could also perhaps solve the riddle of how to create life in the proverbial test tube ex nihilo as it were. The importance of those two possibilities alone would make this one of the most significant scientific achievements in human history.

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    “Earnings came in at $1.40 per share, which was a penny higher than expected.”

    I am convinced that the only reason pennies still exist is so that corporate earnings can “beat” by “one” of them per share.

    Have you noticed how incredibly often this happens, and the wild enthusiasm for the “robust” US “economy” that is generated by such news involving this otherwise virtually worthless coin?

    Have no fear, the mighty US economy is still getting mightier. One penny at a time.

    1. AbyNormal

      your on the mark Katniss!

      “To be precise, it cost 2.4 cents to make one penny in 2011 and about 11.2 cents for each nickel.
      Given the number of coins that the mint produces — 4.3 billion pennies and 914 million nickels last year alone, those costs add up pretty quickly: a little more than $100 million for each coin.”
      http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/15/news/economy/pennies_nickels/index.htm

      “…you’re the mockingjay, Katniss,” says Plutarch. “While you live, the revolution lives.”

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Hmmm. So, in the world of big data and algorithms in which we live, how long before the “beat by a penny” becomes a “beat” by 2.4 CENTS (a 140% “beat” increase) because it takes 2.4 cents to mint a penny…..

        Oh, forget it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Kids will have to learn from their history classes and field trips to museums the meaning of ‘a penny saved is a penny earned.’

          My personal preference is to have nothing but pennies.

          That way, it takes wheelbarrows of pennies to buy a gallon of milk, forcing stores to lower their prices, due to customer complaints.

          ‘No, I am not going to lug that sack of pennies for a bag of potato chips and a beer so you can watch football!!!!’

          ‘See that earthmover over there? The driver is trying to buy weed.’

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            In response, the stores come out with ‘Today’s Special: Only Half of Sack of Pennies For a Bag of Potato Chips.’

  6. Walter Map

    Re: “Is Facebook like a spreading disease … ?”

    Facebook. Ack. Social media. Ack. Don’t people have something constructive to do with their limited lifespans? Doesn’t teevee provide more than enough opportunity for navel-gazing?

    Social media is hopelessly narcissistic, quite aside from being a waste of time, not to mention dangerous. It’s yet another symptom of how TPTB actively promote and cultivate immaturity and distraction in the general population – so much the better to atomize, disempower, disenfranchise, and subjugate the ‘useless eaters’.

    Re: “ILO warns young hit hardest as global unemployment continues to rise”

    For the present generation of twenty-somethings it would appear that there will be no ‘middle class’ in the near future, or at best only a remnant. Once the ‘Baby-Boom’ generation has moved on, society can be returned to its historical model of feudalism, widespread impoverishment, and ignorance.

    Taken to their logical conclusions, present trends suggest that in time even the historical memory of the one-time existence of a middle class will be suppressed, so as to prevent the general population from getting any fancy ideas about resenting their destitution and improving their lot. Not that there will be so many left to remember, after the herds have been culled.

    1. MikeNY

      Twitter is the one that really mystifies me. How can Paris Hilton’s brain farts be worth billions?

      David Remnick of The New Yoker reports that Obama believes his legacy rests on whether he can stop, and reverse, the erosion of the America middle class. Remnick also said B.O. was very subdued, almost dispirited, about the ability of any one president to change of the course of history.

      Perhaps the most heroic and meaningful thing BO could do at this point would be to televise a speech to the nation explaining how our political system is broken, how it has been entirely corrupted by money, and how we are losing the republic.

      Pipe-dream, I’m sure.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        No one president can change the course…

        That realization is not new…it was around, if not earlier, when people started saying history should not be about kings and queens, but more about serfs. This way, more historical events could be better explained.

      2. Walter Map

        Obama is only the president and doesn’t have much real power. Mostly he’s a gopher for those who do, and he mostly does what he’s told. Or else.

        If you look closely you can see the strings.

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          … “Just a puppet on a lonely string
          Oh, who would ever wanna be king?” —Viva La Vida, by Coldplay

          Thanks, Walter. Btw, miss your old closing remark. Opened my eyes.

          … “Or else.” … Wondered how that uninvited couple made it to the WH dinner… twice? Was it to deliver a message?

      3. curlydan

        The Prez probably is right on his power. He thinks he’s got spend the first 4 years doing bland crap while focusing 90% of his efforts on getting re-elected. Then he spends the next 4 years trying to build his legacy while everyone treats him like a lame duck.

        When the goal from Day 1 in the Oval Office is to get re-elected, the Prez has already placed himself in a straightjacket.

      4. different clue

        Pardon me but, isn’t a lot of what I’ve read here in the past few years about decisions and actions Obama has made by choice to degrade and attrit the middle class on purpose to move its personal and collective social wealth to the upper class?
        Isn’t any talk from him about a “middle class enhancement legacy” just designed to direct our sight away from his pro upper class policies?

  7. squasha

    one upshot of your doomsday scenario would be the end of the glorification of the middle class, which has always necessated a prole underclass along with an upper which has been restrained to historically shifting degrees. Flame-retardant polyster fiberfill fulfills essentially the same function and is far more worthy of hagiography.

  8. eeyores enigma

    Perhaps Chris mentions it later in the interview but this is nothing that hasn’t been done in countless regions around the world and usually with the help of our Government.

  9. Foppe

    I laughed out loud when I read this morning’s story about how a corporate entity that was being paid on a piece-meal basis is now accused of, over a 5 year period, faking on average 40% of the background checks they claim to have performed:

    The accusations highlight not just how reliant the government is on contractors to perform national security functions, but also how screening those contractors requires even more contractors. U.S. Investigations Service, now known as USIS, is the largest outside investigator for government security clearances. It is one of many companies that has found lucrative government work during the expansion of national security in the last decade.

    From 2008 to 2012, about 40 percent of the company’s investigations were fraudulently submitted, the Justice Department said.

    Of course, USIS is right on top of things, saying

    “These allegations relate to a small group of individuals over a specific time period and are inconsistent with the strong service record we have earned since our inception in 1996. Since first learning of these allegations nearly two years ago, we have acted decisively to reinforce our processes and management to ensure the quality of our work and adherence to OPM requirements. We appointed a new leadership team, enhanced oversight procedures, and improved control protocols. From the outset, we have fully cooperated with the government’s investigation and remain focused on delivering the highest quality service under our OPM contracts.”

    Gotta love the “specific individuals” who handle 40% of all “investigations”.. Very productive people, and it must have seemed in no way suspicious that they were always more productive towards the end of every month… Anyone want to place bets on the kind of out-of-court settlement will come out of this?

    1. Synopticist

      Why so cynical?

      They say they’ve taken “acted decisively” to solve this temporary problem, and I’m convinced their impactful and actionable decisions will be highly significant.

  10. Klassy

    CJR/Ezra Klein. Great to hear there will be another news organization (not Klein’s) that will rely on conferences for revenue. We surely do not have enough conferences (and “thought leaders”). At least they’re upfront about it ,I guess.

  11. jfleni

    RE: “Is Facebook like a spreading disease that’s about to fade away”?

    There seems to be no doubt that “Butt-book” and “Twitchy” like all silly fads, will eventually go the way of the “Yo-Yo” and “Hula-Hoop”.

  12. Garrett Pace

    MARRIAGE PROMOTION

    Shorter version:
    Marriage is okay so long as you’re middle class.
    Marriage doesn’t need to be promoted anyway, it will somehow remain normative even when nobody marries anymore, so long as the incentives are aligned.
    Same thing with airports – they spontaneously form without planning or “promotion”, just line up the incentives and you’re good to go.
    Only the issues of women are relevant to the promotion of the institution.
    (My addition: Putting economists in charge of social institutions would be a ruinous thing.)

    (I don’t actually know the author’s training, but he sounds like an economist. Or maybe the behavioral sciences are all just applied economics nowadays.)

    The author doesn’t get to the point he was leading to, which seems to be that for single women, having children is the poverty-inducing cargo cult, which in some circumstances marriage doesn’t ameliorate. Spends his time on marriage instead.

    And author seems to draw from his sources very narrowly; the abstracts on the articles he links contradict his argument in myriad ways.

    Confused and paternalistic.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a repeat of a often successful strategy – avoiding the real problem.

      The rich stole all your money? Let’s print more money. Let’s have a job guarantee program. Let’s have the government hire people to build more roads. Let’s have a debt jubilee so you can borrow again…but only if you behave…because it’s never a good idea to kill your golden egg laying goose/serfs.

      How about making the thieves return the money?

  13. Walter Map

    Re: “General Stanley McChrystal Discusses the Downsides of Drones”

    The downside is that the workers manufacturing them make too much money and drive up the cost of genocide unnecessarily.

    Do you know why Afghanistan has no Walmarts? It’s because they’re all Targets.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Time for ‘No Targets Here in Our Community’ movement in America as well.

      I don’t want to be a target.

  14. Walter Map

    Re: “The Liberal Surveillance State”

    Um, those aren’t liberals. They’re neoconservative fascists posing as liberals so as to confuse weak-minded people who don’t own a dictionary.

    We’ve been over this.

    1. Montanamaven

      Mookie is right. The comments are great and glen Greenwald himself joins in. Much good discussion on ending the left/right fruitless identifiers . Recommended.

      1. Jess

        Maven — So good to see you here. Used to post at FDL as Beach Populist (until banned) and once offered to come up to Montana and play bodyguard while you challenged the local Dem party officials high-handed manner of handling meetings.

    2. James Levy

      It’s interesting how certain stances automatically disqualify one from being a conservative, whereas ostensibly “liberal” people can hold ideas and positions antithetical to any understanding of what that word (once) meant. I mean, George McGovern was a liberal and Eugene V. Debs was a socialist. Is that so hard to grasp? Is it too much to ask reporters, pundits, and even academics to align the meaning of the term they are invoking with the positions people hold? And why do we so no corresponding inability to peg conservatives as conservatives? It’s bizarre.

      1. Synopticist

        From a european perspective it makes more sense. Liberals are supposed to represent the centre, not the left. In the States though, there is no left. So the 2 get confused much more than they do elsewhere.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      http://freesnowden.is/

      Please, feel free to ask him yrself. Above link is access to his online chat, today, Thurs 1/23/14 3PM EST

      3 pm EST/ 2 pm Central/ 1 pm Mountain/ 12 noon pm / 8 pm GMT
      there will be a live chat opportunity with Edward from his fundraising website:
      http://freesnowden.is/
      They are trying to raise money for his legal defense fund. According to the website: Questions can be submitted on twitter on the day of the event using the
      #AskSnowden hashtag
      Let’s hope that at least one of you will get through to ask him about the NSA remote neural monitoring program or psychotronic technologies.

      At this link is a widget where you can see questions people around the world are already submitting: http://iroots.org/2014/01/22/submit-questions-for-edward-snowden-live-chat-thurs-123/

      1. AbyNormal

        hey thanks Paul for the foot work…the pre-? link is going to be a hoot
        ex:
        reporterbrasil ‏@reporterbrasil 4m

        #AskSnowden In terms of NSA’s spying in Brazil, what is the main motivation: political, economic or the struggle against terrorism?
        (this reporter must not be familiar with option D) All The Above)

        1. Paul Tioxom

          https://thedaywefightback.org/

          Contact: Blair FitzGibbon, 202-503-6141
          On Anniversary of Aaron Swartz’s Tragic Passing, Leading Internet Groups and Online Platforms Announce Day of Activism Against NSA Surveillance

          Mobilization, dubbed “The Day We Fight Back” to Honor Swartz & Celebrate Anniversary of SOPA Blackout

          Washington, DC – A broad coalition of activist groups, companies, and online platforms will hold a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA’s mass spying regime on February 11th. Dubbed “The Day We Fight Back”, the day of activism was announced on the eve of the anniversary of the tragic passing of activist and technologist Aaron Swartz. The protest is both in his honor and in celebration of the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act two years ago this month, which he helped spur.

          Participants including Access, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press, BoingBoing, Reddit, Mozilla, ThoughtWorks, and more to come, will join potentially millions of Internet users to pressure lawmakers to end mass surveillance — of both Americans and the citizens of the whole world.

          On January 11, 2013, Aaron Swartz took his own life. Aaron had a brilliant, inquisitive mind that he employed towards the ends of technology, writing, research, art, and so much more. Near the end of his life, his focus was political activism, in support of civil liberties, democracy, and economic justice.

          Aaron sparked and helped guide the movement that would eventually defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act in January 2012. That bill would have destroyed the Internet as we know it, by blocking access to sites that allowed for user-generated content — the very thing that makes the Internet so dynamic.

          ———————————————————————————————–

          READ MORE ABOUT THE DAY WE FIGHT BACK:

          https://thedaywefightback.org/

  15. Jim Haygood

    Trouble in the Peronist paradise, comrades:

    Argentina’s peso plunged 12.7 percent over the last two days to 7.8825 per dollar. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who said May 6 that the government wouldn’t devalue the peso, is struggling to hold onto dollar reserves which have fallen 31 percent to $29.4 billion amid annual inflation of more than 28 percent.

    Since changing her economy minister, cabinet chief and the head of the central bank on Nov. 18 [after returning from head surgery on Oct. 8th], the peso has fallen 25 percent, the most in the world, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-23/argentina-s-peso-plunges-17-as-central-bank-scales-back-support.html

    ————

    Sounds like the Widow K. should have her head examined. Oh, wait, she already did!

    Before indulging in too much schadenfraude, we should reflect that zero is the asymptotic value to which all fiat currencies — including the yanqui dollar — ultimately must converge.

    Meanwhile, we get to watch a real-life currency train wreck, with complete idiots at the controls. Stand back, y’all, this could get messy!

  16. Murky

    The link to violent protests in Kiev isn’t of much value. Most other press coverage of ongoing events in Ukraine is also superficial. The Guardian newspaper is an exception:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/ukraine

    And the Atlantic has absolutely spectacular photos of the protests:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2014/01/the-battle-in-kiev-two-killed-in-ukraine-protest/100667/

    West and East Ukraine have been historically separate. There is a language divide: Ukrainian spoken in the west, Russian in the east. The most vehement protesters are from Western Ukraine. How I see this conflict: Forget about Ukraine ever being plucked into the European orbit. The politics of the Russian state will never allow that to happen. However, Putin’s support of the Yanukovich regime may now be put to scrutiny. Because brutalizing and killing protesters makes for real bad press, and public opinion is starting to run strongly against Yanukovich. As for the mass protests, I’d love to see raw people power gain reals concessions like new elections and a new government. But that may be overly optimistic. The politics are now quite volatile and the outcome unpredictable. Wikipedia has an outstanding article on Ukraine, for anybody wanting to get a handle on this conflict.

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

    1. Synopticist

      I was pretty doubtful when this kicked off the last time Yanukovich was overthrown, in, what 2004? We had the orange revolution and it was all set to be fantastic.

      Only it wasn’t, and one of the 2 leaders that time is now in jail for corruption, which was probably BOTH a politically motivated prosecution AND entirely deserved.

      There’s no way the Ukraine will be let into the EU for decades, it’s too poor and agricultural, and the last thing Europe needs now is millions of poorer eastern Europeans desperate to take any sub-minimum wage job going, anywhere. At the moment lots of Ukrainians go to Poland as cheap labour, which is pretty ironic from a British point of view.
      They also have some old-school smoke stack industries, which would be destroyed in a matter of weeks if forced to compete with the Germans.

      It’s a complicated country, half Russian and half eastern European, and unless it splits in two, which is obviously highly dangerous and risky, I can’t see anything other than the murky status-quo being re-established in some form.

      1. east

        EU would like Ukraine as a colony to grab their natural resources, like in Romania and Poland, and also as a consumer market for their products. They don’t give an eff that the colony’s industries will be dismantled and the workers will emigrate to the west – more reason to force wages down in the EU core and breakup the old unions and social security. Poor deluded Ukrainians, they think EU wants the best for them! (That said, there’s no better perspective with leaning towards Russia either.)

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Mmmm… This Cubicles and Computers culture is even worse for one’s health than I thought.

  17. AbyNormal

    we’re #1…GO ATLANTA GO
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/business/in-climbing-income-ladder-location-matters.html?pagewanted=all&_r=4&

    “We are
    Born like this
    Into this
    Into these carefully mad wars
    Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
    Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
    Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
    Born into this
    Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
    Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
    Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
    Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes”
    Bukowski

  18. That Guy

    I do not think you guys realize that probably “regolatory capture” is a distraction. You guys are dealing with the mob, so there’s no “capture” to speak of. They are _part of_, not hostages.

  19. JTFaraday

    re: “The Liberal Surveillance State Crooked Timber. “Mookie particularly recommends the comments.”

    I did like this discussion initially, but then it degenerated into 200 back and forth comments between a few people on Glenn Greenwald’s ideological impurity and “should single issue economics-uber-alles (but politically inert) Big Government liberals join (politically active) Small Government libertarians against the security-industrial complex”? (But—but– Rand Paul could become president someday!)

    Somebody buy the sans-culottes a burger already.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0MX4qDsaoY

    That said, I’m not sure that Greenwald didn’t do one of the worst things he could have done for his own work, as he himself articulates it, by signing on with Omidyar.

    I’m also waiting for Ezra “Always Shill for the Democrat” Klein to show up in the same camp, (there’s an honest broker).

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