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Links 1/7/14

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I know the weather sucks. It’s miserable even in my heated apartment. But the weather was much worse even in the 1980s here. It was normal every winter in NYC to have at least one two to three day stretch when the daily high temperature was below 5 degrees.

And as a child, when I lived in Escanaba, Michigan (in Upper Peninsula), one January, the temperature did not get above zero the entire month. The difference between five below zero and fifteen below zero is that at five below, you feel your nose hairs freeze and unfreeze with each breath. At fifteen below, you feel the cold air bite in your trachea. And they did not close school. In fact, I went to Marquette for a debate and had to trudge through deep snow in 27 degree below zero weather to get to the competition (Marquette, on Lake Superior, like Rochester, always gets lot of snow and the parking lot was a bit of a hike from the building on campus we had to reach). Of course, people up there have clothes for that sort of weather and cars you plug in at night to keep the engine blocks from freezing.

And if you are an e-mail subscriber, please check the site. One post is launching after 7:00 AM.

Stellar Trio Could Put Einstein’s Theory of Gravity to the Test Science (Chuck L)

Supervolcano triggers recreated in X-ray laboratory PhysOrg. Chuck L points out more alarmist take in the Independent.

Study Raises Questions for Employer Wellness Programs New York Times. Not sure this is dispositive. This reflects the medical-industrial complex of being disease driven(“fix a problem in isolation”) and not understanding what levers to pull in terms of improving health. In particular, I notice an absence of weight training in the tested wellness programs, and my impression is they are generally not recommended much if at all. In fact, weight training 3X a week (and I mean lifting meaningful weights, hardly any women I see at gyms are lifting enough weight to tax themselves) will lower your biological age more than any other single intervention (studies of people in their 80s who have never weight trained previously show remarkable results). Similarly, MDs who specialize in anti-aging (yes, there are such beasts, one of my former endocrinologists has migrated his practice entirely to anti-aging) have looked to see for fun what single measure (the list included stuff like blood pressure, resting pulse rate, cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, various hormonal levels) was the best predictor of biological (as opposed to calendar) age. Strength was number one. Second was muscle mass.

Did AT&T just create a pay-for-play mobile Internet? Washington Post (Carol B)

Not Your Mother’s Electrolux Counterpunch (Carol B)

Why the U.S. Oil Boom may go off the Rails OilPrice

Exclusive: Permit Shows Bakken Shale Oil in Casselton Train Explosion Contained High Levels of Volatile Chemicals DeSmogBlog (Carol B)

Crisis Management: Europe Eyes Anglo-Saxon Model with Envy Der Spiegel

French workers at Goodyear tyre plant take bosses captive Guardian

U.K. Trial Lawyers Stage First Walkout in 600 Years on Fee Cuts Bloomberg

Ancient coastline crumbles into sea in storms Telegraph

Hundreds of Turkish police ‘sacked’ BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Parents fighting back against sharing children’s data with InBloom Cathy O’Neil

Can judiciary rein in NSA? Aljazeera

Obamacare Launch

Has Obamacare really signed up 10 million people? Ezra Klein

Small Businesses Weigh Sending Sick Workers to Obamacare Exchanges Bloomberg

The Left after the Failure of Obamacare Counterpunch (Chuck L)

The Clock Is Ticking On Another Debt Ceiling Fight Business Insider

Yellen approved as Fed Chair with weak support Housing Wire

How Divided is the Fed? Tim Duy

Volcker Rule CliffsNotes Not Quite As Terse As Initially Thought DealBreaker

The Great Malaise Drags On Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate

Two Wall Street Hangouts Quietly Closed Down Over The Holiday Break Business Insider

Never Mind the Résumé. How Hot Is the C.E.O.? New York Times

Email exchange with reader over First Look and NSA reporting Glenn Greenwald. Is a journalistic enterprise with no editorial control save over issues related to legal liability like one hand clapping?

Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For Jesse Myerson, Rolling Stone. From last week, apparently produced multiple head explosions in conservative Twittersphere

The US declared war on poverty 50 years ago. You would never know it Guardian

Zappos says goodbye to bosses Washington Post

Approaches to the Reduction of Aggregate Labor Time heteconomist. Notice how this conflicts with the “OMG, we don’t have enough laborers to support all those old people!”

Time to think more about Sarajevo, less about Munich Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

Antidote du jour. Lambert says: “Brought inside due to cold.” What do you do about a not-housebroken horse?

horse_indoors

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88 comments

  1. Dana

    Every time I see a number of how many people have bought health insurance on an exchange, I wonder how many of them are like me: the exchange shows a completed transaction, but after hours of phone calls to both the government and the insurance company, I have yet to have my premium accepted or a certificate number issued…..

  2. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Has Obamacare Really Signed Up 10 Million People

    I feel I am drowning in a sea of meaningless data. Everywhere I look I am confronted with massaged and meaningless data. It’s enough to make a person’s head explode.

    Don’t like your results? Change whom you count, how you count and when you count. Then compare to the previous count.

    Still dissatisfied? Adjust. Hedonic adjustments, seasonal adjustments and any other adjustment that can be even minimally “justified.” Or don’t justify at all. Just adjust.

    More wiggle room required? Estimate. Assume. Always include the caveat that gathering the data can be “tough.” (The weather probably had something to do with it.)

    When all else fails, revise. As many times as you need/want to. Multiple revisions are particularly handy in establishing desired trends, especially around elections.

    And when you really need to make whatever point you want to make, that derivative “data” will get you anywhere you want to go. You know the drill–one of those change in the rate of change in the rate of change numbers.

    Anything so that Ezra Klein and his hordes of colleagues can do 200 words on whether 10 million is really 10 million or not.

    1. pacman

      Outstanding and remarkable declaration of where we stand and have probably stood for ages unaware.

    2. Code Name D

      I hear you. It’s starting to tick me off too. The first official number was 1.2 million, then up to 1.9 million, then to 2.1 million. Now we got 10 million? Where did that come from?

      I have also noticed something else. Those canceled contacts originally started out being 9 million, last week it went down to 6 millions. Are they moving the canceled contracts into the new registers?

      I don’t believe these numbers for a second. They are not tracking with independent sources such as from the BBC. And it’s the definitions that drive me crazy. It looks like unemployment data all over again where they talk about all the new jobs being created – neglecting to tell you how many jobs were lost in the same year.

      But you better believe I am getting these numbers thrown in my face by the apologists.

  3. A. P. Gibb

    Your comments about strength training were more interesting to me then the Times article itself. Have you posted the evidence for the efficacy of strength training, and muscle mass and strength as indicators?
    Or can you give me a steer?

  4. William

    That’s interesting Yves that you grew up in Escanaba. I grew up in Sault Ste Marie, and can attest to the fact that schools only closed due to heavy snowfalls, not cold. And I too walked to school every day (25 min at a fast pace). People simply knew how to dress for it and there was no media hysteria either, or anywhere as far as I can recall. I also remember a trip to a Marquette debate when we started out on a Saturday at 4 a.m. and drove through blizzard like conditions across the UP. That was in 1974 I think.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I spent only 3 years in Escanaba, but it made a strong impression on me! In particular, the people there were well read and intellectually curious for a supposedly blue-collar town.

      1. RanDomino

        Yeoman farmers were the middle class before the middle class; education was valued. Possibly a holdover from the days before modern schools, when education was in-house and “literate” meant not just knowing what sounds the letters make but how to extract meaning from a text, reflected in those famously articulate Civil War letters home that get parodied so often. Also, not a hell of a lot else to do when you’re on a farm five miles from the nearest outpost of civilization (outposts of civilization were a lot more widespread back then, but of course distances were effectively longer) and TV hasn’t been invented yet but the printing press has.

        1. Binky Bear

          Actually the UP was a mining enclave primarily with forestry second; the growing seasons are short and the weather challenging. What drove the UP’s intellectual growth was the constant influx of European laborers with democratic socialist Christian leanings, including Italians, Welsh, Finns (who are still there in Houghton), and others (especially from the Baltics).
          Hotbed of labor unrest back in the day, most notably the Italian Hall fire/massacre Woody Guthrie immortalized in song.

      2. Samuel Gompers

        What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.

        As true today as 100 years ago.

        1. JTFaraday

          If labor, and by “labor” I don’t just mean “blue collar” labor, really wanted those things, they would say they wanted those things.

          Take “learning.” Most of the time, what people will tell you they want out of “their education,” or that of their kids, is “a job,” not necessarily learning.

          Now, maybe that is because “getting a job” is what they feel they “need to do.” But it is perfectly reasonable to maintain a distinction between what you “want to do” and what you “need to do.”

          Given that it is perfectly reasonable to maintain this distinction and at least say what you want, we very seldom hear about the desire for any of those things.

          So, color me skeptical.

  5. John

    I can understand the issues that confronts Goodyear in Amiens, France. The work ethic, to put it mildly, is not ready for the 21st century. To make matters worse international companies in France are at a competitive disadvantage due to the lack of spoken English. And the Amiens factory workers can thank the horrible trade deals the EU has signed up for. We now buy everything from abroad because Chinese factories can produce tires cheaper. Cheaper is better. Right? Cheaper leads to more people unemployed and on unemployment insurance not to mention higher pollution levels.

      1. F. Beard

        Reminds me of what Churchill quipped: “And if you were my wife, I’d drink it!”

        Suicide by work?

        1. OIFVet

          Technically perhaps. In a perverse way we have not only accepted being worked the hardest but we have also been brainwashed into being proud of it. As if having leisure time to recharge, explore one’s hobbies, organize with one’s coworkers, etc. ever hurt anyone other than the corporations whose fat margins depend on us working more for less. So here we are being more productive then ever and pulling the same incomes we did 40 years ago, and looking down on the Frenchies for actually wanting to have a life outside the workplace.

          I also happen to believe that leisure contributes to one’s physical and psychological well-being (and thus to our lifespans) and that is big no-no to those who want to collect our payroll taxes but not pay them back to us when we retire. So the solution is to work us harder and longer, and experiment that has already been carried out elsewhere with great results. In Bulgaria, a male will now collect pension for about 18 months before he kicks the bucket. Quite the pension reform, no? Hence the push for SS “reform” here. Like I said, “21st century work ethic” = work till you drop.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not about better or cheaper (or cheap); a community finds its creative self (and the meaning of its existence – why we are a community) through its people making, producing, manufacturing and working with its environs, as a person does similarly…or a household or government.

      Long before Galileo described the inanimate physical universe with numbers, other geniuses discovered how to describe the universe of human worth with monetary numbers – and that there, was the original fault. And that’s what we have today – cheaper or better serfs and products…all with the help of numbers.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    Trying not to take offense here, Yves, but what, exactly, is your point?

    Since the people in Escanaba were “well read and intellectually curious” it couldn’t have been an ACTUAL blue-collar town, but must have been a “supposed” one? Because we all know, of course, that blue-collar people are neither of those things.

    Having grown up a blue-collar town/family in the 50′s and 60′s I can state unequivocally that reading and “intellectual curiosity” are neither the exclusive property of white-collar people nor incompatible with participation in a weekly bowling league.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I spent most of my childhood in blue collar towns. My father ran paper mills. Mill workers typically had only high school educations. That does not mean that they did not have very important craft knowledge and they were very intelligent and diligent, but most were not inclined towards intellectual pursuits. I lived in 6 different towns growing up (and in some other places too). In all of them, the mill was the biggest employer. I think I have a reasonable sample.

      Unlike Europe, we do not have much of a working class intellectual tradition. And factory life works against that, generally.

      It takes a lot of energy to maintain concentration doing repetitive work that is not terribly social most of the day. Most white collar work is far less demanding (in terms of being forced to stay on task ex a deadline, at least prior to the trend over the last 15 years to expect one person to do what in the past were 1.5 to 2 jobs). On top of that, paper mills are continuous process operations. That means they run 24/7 save for scheduled maintenance periods. THAT means the mill workers rotate shifts. The physical stress of changing shifts over the course of the year also takes a toll.

      It also probably did not occur to you that factory towns are semi-rural (Escanaba has a population of only 15,000 and then only by virtue of having a second factory in town) and they don’t have the tax bases to provide for anything other than the standard educational fare (as in few foreign language courses, no advanced tracks for English, math, or the sciences, etc).

      Escanaba was an exception in that many of the workers seemed to have families that both saw reading as an important leisure activity and read broadly (as in serious as well as pleasure reading).

      I don’t see why you are so hostile about this observation. I don’t see intellectualism as all that desirable an attribute, but being a bookish introverted sort, I do get on better with people who are more cerebral than not. But having said that, there are tons of highly educated people who are boors, snobs, functional idiots, and use their intellectual chops to dominate people.

      1. Tyler

        Yves, not sure if you’ve seen “Out of the Furnace” yet. It’s a film about a small town where many work at the mill. Casey Affleck does an honorable job in showing how we have failed our veterans.

      2. david j wing

        Found it interesting that you spent time in Escanaba while growing up.
        I have a friend, Karla Gray, who grew up in Escanaba. She went to Western Michigan University and then to Hastings Law School in San Francisco. Following Law School, she clerked for a U.S. District Court Judge here in Butte, Montana and then stayed to practice law. Butte can get very cold with winter temperatures down to -40 degrees below zero not uncommon but she said that the cold didn’t bother her, having grown up in Escanaba. She felt at home in Butte since it is also a working class town (copper mining). She was later elected to the Montana Supreme Court and became Chief Judge. She is now retired.

      3. F. Beard

        … and use their intellectual chops to dominate people. Yves Smith

        You’re one of the few people who give me pause and it’s because of your humility and honesty, not to mention your ability to work.

      4. okie farmer

        Yves, I lived in Silver City, NM for several years, a true blue collar town whose economy was dominated by two giant copper mines nearby. The mineworkers Union was the driver, I think, of the workers’ intellectual curiosity; but whatever the source of it, it was evident in every worker I knew, particularly about politics and their economy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the business of America is business, we ought to be a systemic or system-wide cooperative, that is, a GDP sharing coop.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      As part of the ACA, health insurance coops have been formed in 23 states, including NY and Maine, hint hint Yves and Lambert.
      http://nashco.org/

      “What is a health insurance CO-OP? “CO-OP” stands for Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan. The federal government included a provision in the Section 1322 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 to provide loans for private parties to establish non-profit and consumer-based health insurance companies, with the goal of having a health insurance CO-OP in every state. These CO-OPs will provide health insurance to individuals and small employers who now have a difficult time obtaining coverage. In some states, larger groups can also sign up. CO-OPs are public-private partnerships, and will be completely private and member-owned once the loans are repaid.

      What does it mean for a CO-OP to be member-governed? CO-OPs are required by law to be governed primarily by individuals and businesses that buy insurance coverage through a CO-OP. This ensures that CO-OPs will meet the needs of the people it insures, and not those of a Board that may have profit or other primary interests.

      Is there a CO-OP in my state? There are currently 23 health insurance CO-OPs in 23 states. To find out whether there is a CO-OP in your state,please click here. Originally, Congress allocated loan funds designed to enable a CO-OP in all 50 states. Early in 2013 year, however, loan funding for additional CO-OPs was cut as a part of a budget agreement. In July of 2013, Senator Mark Begich from Alaska introduced legislation that would restore funding to the CO-OP program, allowing for the creation of additional health insurance CO-OPs. You can read about that legislation here.

      What happens to profits, loan funds? The loans are for the startup and solvency of the CO-OPs. The startup loans will be repaid over 5 years from the time that the CO-OP starts providing insurance. The solvency loans, which are not designed to be spent and are used to meet state requirements for insurance company reserves, must be paid back over 15 years. Any profits CO-OPs earn must be used to either lower premiums or improve benefits.”

      NEWS UPDATE:
      “Elsewhere, two additional CO-OPs announced expansion into new states in 2015. Minuteman Health in Massachusetts and Kentucky Health Cooperative will move into New Hampshire and West Virginia, respectively. They join the Montana Health CO-OP, which recently announced its plans to compete in the Idaho marketplace. We congratulate all three CO-OPs on their exciting news.”

        1. diptherio

          Well, it’s not as great as one might hope. The CO-OPs are what we got instead of a public option, and they’ve been hamstrung right from the start.

          While the debut of the Affordable Care Act this month has been marred by widespread computer problems, the difficulties the co-ops face have been less obvious to consumers. One co-op, however, has closed, another is struggling, and at least nine more have been projected to have financial problems, according to internal government reviews and a federal audit.

          Their failure would leave taxpayers potentially on the hook for nearly $1 billion in defaulted loans and rob the marketplace of the kind of competition they were supposed to create. And if they become insolvent, policyholders in at least half the states where the co-ops operate could be stuck with medical bills.

          Although the co-op plan originated in the Senate, resistance to the initial proposal quickly materialized on Capitol Hill, in part because of pressure from insurance industry lobbyists.

          So Congress saddled its new creations with onerous restrictions that, experts say, doomed many co-ops to failure. Federal grants for the co-ops were converted to loans with tight repayment schedules; they were barred from using federal money for crucial marketing; and they were severely limited from selling insurance to large employers, which represent the most lucrative market.

          And even as the Obama administration was setting up the program, White House officials, who had no pride of authorship and feared it would be risky, repeatedly suggested that funding for the co-ops be reduced, according to more than half a dozen people familiar with budget negotiations and the legislative debate. The funding was cut to a small fraction of what experts told Congress would be needed for the ventures to be viable.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/health-co-ops-created-to-foster-competition-and-lower-insurance-costs-are-facing-danger/2013/10/22/e1c961fe-3809-11e3-ae46-e4248e75c8ea_story.html

  7. XO

    When I was a kid, up until I joined the workforce, the Potomac river froze for the majority of the winter (remember the Air Florida crash into the 14th street bridge).

    For the past 20 years, or so, the river has remained ice free. No news there, though.

    I, too, remember many days of single digit temps each winter. Now, a deep freeze is a national news story (the 24 hour news cycle must be fed, and it must be fed with immediate danger — apparently, even when there is none).

    Forget generations — our cultural memory lasts less than a decade, nowadays.

    1. jrs

      If people stayed in the same place for decades, and paid ANY attention at all to the natural world around them, they’d see climate change, it would be undeniable. The fruit trees blossoming earlier each year, the heat waves the drought.

      But see America is nowhere, and the moving every few years is just as artificial as the temperature controlled environment in every office building, you tend to lose track of all reality living that average American life.

      By the way even the “polar vortex” may be caused by climate change. So much for the denailist.

  8. XO

    As for skilled labor and literacy/intellectual fitness — traditionally, in the early 1900s (and, I assume, before then), cigar rolling floors at the big manufacturers in Tampa, hired readers to sit above the workers on a catwalk and read classical literature to the skilled workers, below.

    What ever happened to employers who cared about their workforces?

    Greed isn’t much of a virtue.

  9. DakotabornKansan

    MDs who specialize in anti-aging…

    The practices of the anti-aging practitioners and gerontologists have opposing definitions of the aging process. Anti-aging medicine presents aging as an unnatural and unnecessary process. Gerontology views aging as a natural and holistic process.

    I dislike the word “anti-aging.”

    Examine the term “anti-aging.”

    Anti means: unwilling, defiant, opposed, hostile, antagonistic, resistant, averse.

    Aging means that we are getting older from the day we were born.

    “Anti-aging” is all part of society’s stereotype of aging and getting old. Do people really believe they can delay the process?

    Carol Orsborn, founder of Fierce With Age, writes, “We use language and render judgments that boil down to one simple premise. Old: bad. Young: good. Not only is the adoption of anti-aging messages destructive to our psyches, it bears dangerous ramifications for us socially and politically.

    Her call to action: “cast off the infiltration of thinking about anti-aging that permeates not only our sick society, but that oppresses our own bruised spirits. “

    She asks boomer women and men “to shake off the shame, the guilt and the fear about growing old. In its place, we need to take a stand against the prejudices and stereotypes of aging, for ourselves, and for generations to come. The time has come for us to reclaim the pride we should be taking in ourselves as we age. We need to stop being afraid of age to instead become fierce with age.”

    http://fiercewithage.com/offerings/consciousness-raising/

    There are two obstacles to seeing increased longevity as a great advance: stereotyping and ageism.

    “One central precondition for unfolding the potential of demographic aging is: changing attitudes and overcoming prevalent negative stereotypes about aging and old age.” – Leopoldina Academy, Germany’s National Academy of Sciences, “More Years, More Life: Recommendations of the Joint Academy Initiative on Aging”

    “Prejudice against age is a prejudice against everyone. We all chance to become its ultimate victims as longevity increases.” – Robert Butler, The Longevity Revolution

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, but that happens to be what they call themselves. It’s a standard term.

      And why shouldn’t you fight the vissicitudes of age? I’d rather figure out a way to revitalize my knees (anti aging) than take a path of resignation (down that path lies knee replacements). Mind you, I think some of the stuff they do is dangerous and misguided (growth hormone injections!) but some of their ideas are useful.

      1. F. Beard

        I’ve seen too many ailments come for discernable reason and leave for no discernable reason to worry about my health much. In some ways, I’ve never been better. But then again, I believe in God. I can’t imagine the worry non-believers should suffer if they weren’t deluding themselves somehow.

  10. sleepy

    I was born and raised in the South, but have lived in northern Iowa for the past 15 years.

    When I was a kid in the early 60s, it hit minus 13 degrees around Christmas,1963 in Memphis, and snowed about 12 inches. A few years later, in March, 1968, it snowed 18 inches.

    Despite the fact that it snows several times a week in Iowa, in 15 yrs. the largest snowfalls I’ve experienced in my life have been those two in Memphis, 700 miles south of here. Now, Memphis gets 2 inches a year at most, and alligators lounging on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown.

    The past couple of days, it got down to minus 22 here with a windchill of minus 50, and schools were closed. But when I first moved to Iowa, that would happen 2 or 3 times a winter and schools would never close.

    I think it’s a combination of climate change and the hype of social media.

  11. Eureka Springs

    I think all weathermen (persons) should live in tents. And I don’t mean North Face incorporated good in hurricanes or to zero kelvin BS…. but their own home made tipi or some such.

    Stay inside, omg…omg…OMG! Stay inside or you will DIE.

  12. ohmyheck

    Great link by Shamus Cooke – “The Left and the Failure of Obamacare”. He goes into layman-style detail on why ACA sucks and explains succinctly why and how it should/will go down. I can use this link for some of my friends, who needs things spelled out short and sweet.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fifty years of war on poverty.

    It seems the soldiers we sent have been taken by the other side (poverty) themselves.

    On the other hand, the generals (and their backers) are in fact better protected from poverty than ever before. Moreover, they can afford more soldiers to be taken prisoners of war than ever before. That’s got to be a victory of some sort.

  14. Ulysses

    Here’s Prof. Stiglitz:
    “Wehave a global market economy that is not working. We have unmet needs and underutilized resources. The system is not delivering benefits for large segments of our societies. And the prospect of significant improvement in 2014 – or in the foreseeable future – seems unrealistic. At both the national and global levels, political systems seem incapable of introducing the reforms that might create prospects for a brighter future.”
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/joseph-e–stiglitz-predicts-continued-slow-growth-and-misguided-economic-policy-in-2014#h6GhDUyIiy3EZQjh.99

    It is time for radical change! First stop TPP/TAFTA, then begin the hard work of undoing the neoliberal corporate fascist slow motion coup of the last 30 years.

    1. rich

      As Citigroup Spun Toward Insolvency in ’07- ’08, Its Regulator Was Dining and Schmoozing With Citi Execs

      By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 7, 2014

      When Geithner says, “for better or worse,” I think most Americans would agree that Geithner’s failure to know that he was a regulator at an institution he headed for half a decade that employed hundreds of bank examiners was probably worse for the country, not better, given that he oversaw the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression and the most expensive taxpayer bailout in the history of finance.

      In written testimony before the same hearing, Geithner added that “We can’t allow institutions to cherry pick among competing regulators, and shift risk to where it faces the lowest standards and constraints.” And yet, Geithner’s appointment calendar suggests that this is exactly what Citigroup did as Geithner accommodated it as willingly as a concierge at one of those exclusive Manhattan hotels.

      According to Geithner’s appointment calendar for 2007 and 2008 (available online courtesy of an article the New York Times published in 2009), Geithner excelled in hobnobbing, despite the appearance of outrageous conflicts of interest. He was the Relationship Manager In Chief as he managed his own relationship with Citigroup into a job offer to be its CEO.

      During 2007 and 2008, Citigroup entered an intractable death spiral owing to a decade of obscene executive pay, off balance sheet debt, toxic assets and mismanagement of its unwieldy disparate business lines. Instead of functioning as the tough cop on the beat in regulating Citigroup, Geithner hobnobbed, holding 29 breakfasts, lunches, dinners and other meetings with Citigroup executives.

      When Sandy Weill stepped down from Citigroup in 2006, SEC filings show he still owned over 16.5 million shares of the company’s stock, in addition to the $264 million he had sold back to the company in 2003. As the company teetered toward insolvency in the 2007-2008 period, Weill had a vested interest not to see his stock position wiped out by a government receivership of Citigroup. The very last thing Geithner, as Citigroup’s regulator, should have been doing was meeting privately with Weill.

      If Geithner did not believe he was a regulator, why was he meeting with these individuals on a private basis. Two troubling answers come readily to mind.

      http://wallstreetonparade.com/2014/01/as-citigroup-spun-toward-insolvency-in-%E2%80%9907-%E2%80%9908-its-regulator-was-dining-and-schmoozing-with-citi-execs/

      We know what the problem is……………..all we keep getting is non answers.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Wining and dining.

        Isn’t there a better sales tool, often expensed under research and shown in a new movie that was reviewed here yesterday, I believe, that’s far more powerful than mere wining and dining?

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ego-Judo and the Art of Manipulating People.

    Ego-Judo is a type of mental martial-arts that uses your opponent’s ego-energy/ego-force to defeat, capture or enslave him/her.

    It’s used often in advertising and brainwashing.

    It’s used in world domination thusly – it appeals to your desire to know about the world. For a little guy like you, you are happy to understand how atoms work, for example. As for the powerful, they don’t stop at understanding how things work. Before they fund a project, they have to know how it could make them more powerful, if it will bring them more powerful tools or weapons.

    So, you naively say to yourself, I am just an academic, a researcher. I have no idea whether my discovery will be good or bad for the world. And it’s not up to me what it will be used.

    And other ‘educated’ or ‘intellectual’ people pride themselves (good for the ego) on knowing and understanding your research.

    This brings us to today’s link – the Theory of Gravity. And this is where the powerful step in with their Ego-Judo.

    Maybe it’s Ego-Aikido?

  16. Jim Haygood

    ‘Yellen steps into the role [of chair] at a time of economic and political uncertainty. Much of the opposition comes from her dogged support of Fed stimulus policies that have swelled the Fed’s balance sheet to about $4 trillion by buying bonds with money printed from thin air.’ — Housing Wire article

    Let’s see — we’re in the FIFTH year of an economic expansion … and the Fed is STILL desperately pumping $75 billion a month to prop up the securities markets?

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    Yellen is being set up. She is a fool to take this no-win job at this time. What’s she gonna do in the next bear market — up the ante to $500 billion a month?

    Yellen may be the last Fed chair. Good riddance to the Creature from Jekyll Island, and its PhD morons who otherwise would be serving lattes instead of steam-frothing the freaking bond market.

    1. diptherio

      Yes, it is a very succinct and cogent presentation of what a lot of us out here on the fringes have been calling for for quite awhile now. Glad to see some sanity is finally leaking into the mainstream dialogue…first Rolling Stone, tomorrow the world…

      Didn’t Gandhi say, “first they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”? Well, it looks like the laughter may be over (even the admin. was considering MMT solutions, we now find out) and we should probably gird ourselves for the inevitable fight…

      1. Charles LeSeau

        Yes, but did you read the comments? Thousands upon thousands of “Commie! Loser! Move to N. Korea! We tried communism and it didn’t work!” etc…

        Suggestions like those in Rolling Stone are never – ever – going to fly in the USA.

        1. F. Beard

          Banker fascism doesn’t work either.

          How about we try ethical money creation for a change or is doing the right thing considered too radical?

          1. Charles LeSeau

            Hi Beard. I don’t know. I’m just a piano player and medical editor. I will never pretend to understand money or economics, so it’s not my place really to discuss it.

            My point of view is pretty simple: We have this planet, and some few people claim to own all of it. I consider this not only ugly on its face, particularly because of all the genocide underlying this ownership, but also very limiting to the disenfranchised, particularly when those few owners often do absolutely no work and merely leech off the labor of others through rent of various sorts.

            I favor limitations to what anyone should be allowed to acquire, through any system and no matter how great these people think they are. If I’m going to be sold, for example, on how indispensable Steve Jobs is that he should be a billionaire, I’m also going to note that after his death Apple seems to be doing just fine without him.

            I don’t know. It’s all just baloney anyway, in a world full of seemingly endless scammers. I don’t think anything will change in my lifetime, so even talking about it seems pretty futile.

            1. F. Beard

              Limits on land ownership are Biblical since most everyone had a family farm in ancient Israel which could not be permanently sold.

              But who could believe it? A money system based on usury for stolen purchasing power has caused many family farms and businesses in the US to be permanently lost.

              Chalk that up to Progressives?

              1. skippy

                Are you suggesting the definition of “capitalism” is dominion?
                skippy – just to clarify your prospective.

              2. skippy

                Something like this?

                Question: “What does the Bible say about capitalism?”

                Answer: The dictionary defines capitalism as “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.” While the Bible doesn’t mention capitalism by name, it does speak a great deal about economic issues. For example, whole sections of the book of Proverbs and many of the parables of Jesus deal with economic matters. As such, we learn what our attitude should be toward wealth and how a Christian should handle his finances. The Bible also provides us with a description of our human nature which helps us to evaluate the possible success of and failure of an economic system in society.

                Because economics is an area where much of our everyday life takes place, we should evaluate it from a biblical perspective. When we use the Bible as our framework, we can begin to construct the model for a government and an economy that liberates human potential and limits human sinfulness. In Genesis 1:28, God says we are to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. One aspect of this is that humans can own property in which they can exercise their dominion. Since we have both volition and private property rights, we can assume that we should have the freedom to exchange these private property rights in a free market where goods and services can be exchanged.

                However, due to the ravages of sin, many parts of the world have become places of decay and scarcity. And, though God has given us dominion over His creation, we must be good stewards of the resources at our disposal. Historically, the free enterprise system has provided the greatest amount of freedom and the most effective economic gains of any economic system ever devised. Even so, Christians often wonder if they can support capitalism. In essence, self-interest is rewarded in a free capitalist system. But even the gospel appeals to our self-interest, because it is in our self-interest to accept Jesus Christ as our savior so that our eternal destiny will be assured.

                From a Christian perspective, the basis of private property rests in our being created in God’s image. We can make choices over property that we can exchange in a market system. But sometimes the desire for private property grows out of our sinfulness. Correspondingly, our sinful nature also produces laziness, neglect, and slothfulness. The fact is that economic justice can best be achieved if each person is accountable for his own productivity.

                Historically, capitalism has had a number of advantages. It has liberated economic potential. It has also provided the foundation for a great deal of political and economic freedom. When government is not controlling markets, then there is economic freedom to be involved in an array of entrepreneurial activities. Capitalism has also led to a great deal of political freedom, because once we limit the role of government in economics, we limit the scope of government in other areas. It is no accident that most of the countries with the greatest political freedom usually have a great deal of economic freedom.

                However, Christians cannot and should not endorse every aspect of capitalism. For example, many proponents of capitalism hold a view known as utilitarianism, which is opposed to the notion of biblical absolutes. Certainly, we must reject this philosophy. Also, there are certain economic and moral issues that must be addressed. Though there are some valid economic criticisms of capitalism such as monopolies and the byproduct of pollution, these can be controlled by limited governmental control. And when capitalism is wisely controlled, it generates significant economic prosperity and economic freedom for its people.

                One of the major moral arguments against capitalism is greed, which is why many Christians feel unsure about the free enterprise system. Critics of capitalism contend that this system makes people greedy. But then we must ask whether capitalism makes people greedy or do we already have greedy people who use the economic freedom of the capitalistic system to achieve their ends? In light of the biblical description of human nature (Jeremiah 17:9), the latter seems more likely. Because people are sinful and selfish, some are going to use the capitalist system to satisfy their greed. But that is not so much a criticism of capitalism as it is a realization of the human condition. The goal of capitalism is not to change bad people but to protect us from them. Capitalism is a system in which bad people can do the least harm and good people have the freedom to do good works. Capitalism works well with completely moral individuals. But it also functions adequately with selfish and greedy people.

                It’s important to realize that there is a difference between self-interest and selfishness. All people have self-interests which can operate in ways that are not selfish. For example, it is in our self-interest to get a job and earn an income so that we can support our family. We can do that in ways that are not selfish. By contrast, other economic systems such as socialism ignore the biblical definitions of human nature. As a result, they allow economic power to be centralized and concentrate power in the hands of a few greedy people. Those who complain of the influence major corporations have on our lives should consider the socialist alternative where a few governmental bureaucrats control every aspect of our lives.

                Though greed is sometimes evident in the capitalist system, we have to understand it’s not because of the system—it’s because greed is part of man’s sinful nature. The solution lies not in changing the economic system but in changing the heart of man through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

                Skippy… is this your plan for humanity?

          2. uncle joe

            Jan 7, 1868 –
            SPEECH OF CONGRESSMAN SAMUEL FENTON (INDEPENDENT REPUBLICAN) OF OHIO ON FLOOR OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
            “” “Our Constitution gives to Congress the exclusive power to coin money and regulate the value thereof… These are attributes of sovereignty and belong exclusively to the representatives of the whole people…The value of money has no relation to or dependence upon the material of which it is made. If it has the properties or powers of representing, measuring, and exchanging value, it is money; and these properties or powers are not inherent in any substance, but are conferred upon any chosen material by the sovereign power….The Greenback, as it has been denominated, was an invaluable expedient, backing our boys in blue and covering their backs at the same time. It served our purpose well and will serve us still if permitted. It helped us through one danger and will bear us triumphantly through another unless the cupidity of bankers, bondholders and shoddy contractors shall triumph over the industrial and tax-paying classes of our people…The first step in the right direction will be to pass a law to call in and cancel the entire bank circulation and simultaneously issue an equal quantity of Treasury certificates or legal tenders.””"
            END
            Yes, independent Republican

            1. AbyNormal

              a new years gift for the files:

              Monetary History Calendar
              http://monetaryhistorycalendar.blogspot.com/p/static.html

              “Be you in what line of life you may, it will be amongst your misfortunes if you have not time properly to attend to pecuniary (monetary) matters. Want of attention to these matters has impeded the progress of science and of genius itself.”
              William Cobbett

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          It was tweeted heavily by conservatives. This looks like a non-organic invasion. I see that occasionally on posts here, people who clearly aren’t NC readers ride in to try to reeducate me and the community. They usually get their heads handed to them. RS doesn’t have as frequent invasions so the readers may not have been as aggressive in dealing with the trolls.

          And the trolls often have one person using multiple handles, so I can pretty much guarantee the actual # of people making those comments was fewer than it appears.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Antidote.

    The inferred Big Question we must ponder is this: do you buy the horse to fit the furniture or do you buy the furniture to fit the horse?

  18. afisher

    Yellen:
    Okay, I’m not economist – but I do know a badly written article when I read one. I read a repeat of this utter nonsense on Bloomberg: oh noes – lowest approval, blah blah blah. I can do basic math. Ben was approved 70:30 – so 70% approval. Yellen 56: 26 is 68% approval.

    One is “golden” and the other is “OH NOES”

    My expectations of so-called economist (or hired to write econ) dropped again today.

    1. Jim Haygood

      And I’m no linguist, but I know that this sentence in the article requires number in place of amount:

      ‘the lowest amount of active supporting votes for Fed Chair was Yellen’s predecessor Ben Bernanke, who only garnered 70 votes in his favor.’

      Last week I couldn’t even spell ‘journo.’ But now I are one!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s what they want.

        The minute you say, I am not a thinker, they have you where they want it.

        When you say, I am not an economist, they win again.

        When you say, I am not a writer, bingo! They win.

        When you say, I am not an artist, yes, you got it, another win for them.

        When you say, I am not a political scientist, well, you get the picture.

  19. fresno dan

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/01/06/1733632/the-path-towards-definancialisation-or-not/?
    “Yes, for now, this sort of non-meritocratic wealth allocation appears to be economically beneficial. We can, it seems, afford to generate virtual money millionaires who contribute very little in terms of real output, but much in confidence trickery.

    “Eventually, however, as everyone tries to jump onto the free-money boat — as they inevitably will — we will either be able to cater to everyone’s legitimate needs, or be very painfully struck by the reality that too much was squandered by the undeserving for their to be anything left for the legitimately deserving.”

    Its a funny thing – GDP is up. There is no inflation. And yet, walking to the pharmacy this morning, I was struck by the number of people sleeping in the park that I pass by (fortunately, Sacramento only got down to 38 degrees – not like sleeping outdoors in New York). Funny how there are free trillions for bankers, but out of all this money there is not enough for free sleeping bags (housing – what are you, ridiculous???).
    And my deductible for my prescription is much higher than it used to be – I’m glad that’s not inflationary.
    And the smart people say that keeping the banks from failing, and keeping things as they were, is the best course of action…

  20. craazyman

    I read yesterday — while surfing NFL football stories about the Green Bay game — that it was colder in a certain place in Minnesota than on the surface of Mars. That really made me stop and think. Not that I was doing anything, actually, at the time, but I thought, anyway. It was weird to think it was warmer on Mars, at that time, than someplace in Minnesota. I used to look at Mars through a backyard telescope and I could see the white frost poles, really. The rest of it was red. It looked warm to me. That should tell you something. I’m not sure what, but it tells me colonizing Mars is very definitely doable. All you need is to land in a warm spot where there’s lots of sun and go from there. Isn’t that just the way things work all over the universe? Of course.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You don’t really need a warm spot on Mars for a Green Bay Packers game.

      It’s actually a home field advantage playing sub-zero for a Martian football team…The Martian Green Packers, here we come…or are they the Green Martian Packers?

  21. Antifa

    On the “planned obsolescence” of Electrolux vacuums, and of many other modern products, yes this is how it works (or doesn’t) since the mid-Seventies. Oddly enough, the presence of electronic boards in any appliance is usually a sign that it’s not going to be worth repairing because the board is impossible to find or so rare that the price is absurd. Perhaps manufacturers only order enough circuit boards to produce X number of units and repair only 15% of those. Can’t have too many repairs going on.

    I belong to an odd tribe of people who hunt down and repair old tractors, whether for farm work or for lawn and garden. The Rule of Thumb is “made in America before 1970.” Some of us fix ‘em up to be show pieces, beautifully painted collector’s items that accrue value with every passing year, and some of us make working machines of them and sell them. Their lasting value is that they run forever, and can always be fixed when they break.

    It’s really hard finding parts, which is sort of the fun of it as well. Sometimes machining a new part yourself is the only option, but still worth doing to get the tractor working. Here’s the thing — your average tinker or mechanic can mill a new part, but will have a lot more trouble recreating an engineered circuit board. That’s a whole ‘nuther skill set and set of tools.

    Some futurists say an era is coming when we will be digging up all the landfills on our planet to “mine” reusable machinery and recyclable stuff out of them.

    1. Bridget

      Dang, I wish I knew you before I (reluctantly) discarded my old Electrolux in favor of a string of subsequent plastic vacuum cleaners of indeterminate parentage. Couldn’t find anyone to service it anymore. Ditto my equally ancient Maytag washer and dryer. Dishwasher too. Whirlpool bought Maytag and that was all she wrote as far as decent Maytag service was concerned.

      Circuit boards are the devil. When the circuit board on my most recent dishwasher (replete with every sort of fancy, never used, cycle that you can imagine) failed a scant couple of years after I bought it, I went hunting for an old fashioned mechanical machine with no circuit boards and no fancy cycles. I figured surely the bottom of the market might still sport a few old knobs in lieu of LED displays. Alas, I searched in vain.

  22. Hugh

    The Left After the Failure of Obamacare is an excellent takedown, although the title leaves me wondering which “left” is being referred to. Maybe this just shows that left/right designations are increasingly meaningless. That the real lines are populist vs elitist, 1% vs 99%, corporatist vs anti-corporatist. Cooke does skewer Michael Moore. Moore represents for me the reformist fallacy, the idea that you can reform a thoroughly corrupt system and worse, look to those who corrupted it to uncorrupt it. As Cooke notes, reformists push changes that are not only too little too late but are DOA, never going to happen. At some point under such conditions, we have to ask if the reformers are crooked or incompetent, are they in on the con or too stupid not to recognize it. Either way, they should not be listened to.

    1. Lambert Strether

      On “The Left After the Failure of Obamacare” — Boy howdy, did single payer advocates on the actual left call their shot on this one, 2009 – 2010. Nobody could have predicted that making failure to buy junk insurance subject to fines and IRS enforcement wouldn’t be a surefire political winner. Oh, wait…

  23. PeonInChief

    I inherited my Mom’s Electrolux. We’ve had to replace some of the parts, but it’s been going for more than 35 years, and I intend that it will be my last vacuum cleaner. It’s far better than anything we’ve seen anywhere. Now if we could just get Rubbermaid to re-introduce the flexible dish drainer mats they quit making some years ago, I could replace the one I have now. it’s 15 years old.

  24. Chris Maukonen

    Yves…when I grew up in North East Ohio a few days with below zero temps in Jan. were normal. One year we had snow on Thanksgiving and id did not stop until after Christmas.

    School was closed ONLY if the busses could not get around, not because of cold. We usueally did not get high temps above 30 until early Feb.

    This was winter just east of Cleveland in the 1950s and early 1960s.

  25. Hugh

    I am as tired of Stiglitz as I am of Krugman. He says yes, we avoided another Great Depression but only to emerge into a Great Malaise. What BS. The bottom 80% of Americans went into Depression back in 2008 and never have come out of it. The top 20% have done well since the depths of 2008 and the top 1% have made out like bandits.

    The cognitive dissonance is deafening. Stiglitz says that Europe’s double dip recession ended but there has been no recovery. He then goes on to say that youth unemployment in Spain and Greece remain at 50%. Those rates don’t say post-recession no recovery. They do not say still in recession. They scream depression. This is what is so discordant about liberal Establishment economists like Stiglitz and Krugman. Most of the time they buy into and accept the standard measures and definitions, that for example GDP is the primary measure of economic performance and whether a country is in or out of recession. They will then throw in few measures like income, inequality, and unemployment that completely blow this view out of the water. But this does not lead them back to question and rethink their initial position. They merely note these things and move on.

    Never is there a mention of criminality and class war that lie at the heart of the world’s economic problems, that is for their 99%s. Inequality is just there like the sun, the wind, and the stars. The political elites are not in on the looting. They are just unable, for reasons unknown, to deal with problems that don’t affect them and whose solutions would harm them. It’s such a puzzlement, isn’t it?

    Stiglitz can’t even see the huge asset bubble the Fed has blown. All he can do is mutter something about interconnectivity and the dangers of tapering too soon or quickly. In other words, Stiglitz is for propping up the bubble as long as possible. When has that ever done anything other than create a bigger and even more destructive bubble burst?

    Stiglitz also has the mandatory Establishment liberal swipe at the “crazy Republicans” with never a word about the equally malevolent and destructive Democrats.

    It is frustrating that people continue to look on Stiglitz and Krugman as opinion leaders –just because they throw out a few phrases we recognize, even as they continue to defend the system that pillages us.

    1. craazyman

      There’s always Youtube. :)

      It may seem, upon first reflection, as the abnegation of an instinctive call to erudition and a concession to mental laziness and irrationality, but the mental laziness and irrationality is what you leave behind.

      Economics is a mental disorder.

  26. Ulysses

    Although I’m generally in accord with Hugh’s comment upthread, it may be a little unfair to lump Stiglitz in with Krugman in every respect. At least with regard to the TPP he seems to have more integrity:
    “The TPP proposes to freeze into a binding trade agreement many of the worst features of the worst laws in the TPP countries, making needed reforms extremely difficult if not impossible.
    The investor state dispute resolution mechanisms should not be shrouded in mystery to the general public, while the same provisions are routinely discussed with advisors to big corporations.”
    http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/an-open-letter-to-trans-pacific-pact-negotiators-joseph-stiglitz

  27. AbyNormal

    JANUARY 13

    1808 – BIRTH OF SALMON P. CHASE, US SENATOR (OHIO), GOVERNOR OF OHIO, US TREASURY SECRETARY UNDER ABRAHAM LINCOLN, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE US SUPREME COURT
    “My agency in procuring the passage of the National Bank Act, was the greatest financial mistake of my life. It has built up a monopoly that affects every interest in the country. It should be repealed. But before this can be accomplished, the people will be arrayed on one side and the banks on the other in a contest such as we have never seen in this country.” The National Bank Act established a system of nationally chartered banks. Before the Act, most banks were chartered by states. The Act permitted these new nationally chartered banks to turn government bonds into the US Treasury in exchange for the right to print an equal amount of debt-based Bank Money. This undermined U.S. Greenbacks, which was debt-free public money.
    http://monetaryhistorycalendar.blogspot.com/p/static.html

  28. Hugh

    I wrote more about this in the links yesterday. Greenwald gives a reasonable sounding defense of his actions, but a second reading leaves most of the questions that have been asked unanswered. He doesn’t address Omidyar’s politics, nor the effects of his wealth on the direction of this new news enterprise. He says there won’t be any, that it will just be independent journalists doing independent journalism. This seems extraordinarily naïve. Omidyar chose Greenwald because he and his do a particular kind of journalism that has particular targets, virtually none of which threaten Omidyar’s wealth or the economic and political system which made that wealth possible and defends it. I am reminded of John Jay Chapman’s observation, “The work we do transforms us into social factors. We are a part of the changes we bring in. Before we know it, we ourselves are the problem.

    Also as I noted yesterday, Snowden and Greenwald’s strategy of dribbling out stories to keep the NSA story before the public has run its course. Now it just looks like gatekeeping and keeping the materials from the very people, the public, they say they want to get this information to. As I pointed out, Greenwald boasts about the number of publications he and Poitras have shared this information with and how much, tens of thousands of pages each, they have shared with them, papers like Der Spiegel, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, all of which are major supporters and defenders of the status quo. Greenwald also said that several reporters have had access to the whole Snowden database for extended periods. Somehow Greenwald doesn’t see the contradiction between this wide dissemination of the Snowden files with his contention that these files, with a few minor redactions of personal data, can not be made public, and the public left to analyze and make up their own mind about them. Apparently, Snowden and Greenwald have no more trust in the people than the current powers that be. Indeed they seem to be aping them. They do not think we can handle any truth that they have not handled and manipulated first.

  29. Hugh

    BTW excellent link here: http://truth-out.org/news/item/21085-americas-black-ops-blackout-unraveling-the-secrets-of-the-militarys-secret-military

    It conveys well the adversarial, even hostile, nature of the military arm of America’s deep state, its Special Operations Command. We have not had a quote from Hannah Arendt recently so this is what she had to say on the subject in her Origins of Totalitarianism,

    “Logically, it is indisputable that a plan for world conquest involves the abolition of differences between the conquering mother country and the conquered territories, as well as the difference between foreign and domestic politics, upon which all existing nontotalitarian institutions and all international intercourse are based. If the totalitarian conqueror conducts himself everywhere as though he were at home, by the same token he must treat his own population as though he were a foreign conqueror. And it is perfectly true that the totalitarian movement seizes power in much the same sense as a foreign conqueror may occupy a country which he governs not for its own sake but for the benefit of something or somebody else. The Nazis behaved like foreign conquerors in Germany when, against all national interests, they tried and half succeeded in converting their defeat into a final catastrophe for the whole German people; similarly in case of victory, they intended to extend their extermination politics into the ranks of “racially unfit” Germans.”

    When, as in the War on Terror, the whole world is the battlefield, the distinction is lost between foreign and domestic. Everyone is either the enemy or a potential enemy and so for unaccountable totalitarian organizations like JSOC, it’s not just al Qaeda or al Shabaab, or even reporters asking inconvenient questions, but all of us who are to be viewed, and treated, as hostile. JSOC is not out to defend us but to maintain American empire. They may like to act as if the two are the same. We should not.

  30. Jill

    On Glenn: I read through his piece several times. I will now paraphrase one part in particular which blew me away.

    So Jeremy, Laura and I were thinking of starting our own independent news source. In the meantime, it happened that Pierre, this billionaire whose one company, Paypal, already works closely with the NSA, had already decided to set up his own independent newspaper. Well, what could go wrong? A guy with ties to the NSA already setting up a newspaper and our desire to set up investigative journalism, it all seemed like a perfect fit. So we signed up!

    As Jacob Appelbaum pointed out, letting the NSA purchase and set up the equipment saves money and time. There’s no need to interdict equipment during the shipping process. They can just do it on order. That way everybody’s phone, fax and computer is fixed. I don’t see a problem with that!

    I was not keen on Glenn’s careful parsing of–well it wasn’t in the Snowden documents. Glenn said he was certain that Paypal cooperates with the NSA. I want to see him write that story.

    1. JTFaraday

      “So Jeremy, Laura and I were thinking of starting our own independent news source. In the meantime, it happened that Pierre, this billionaire whose one company, Paypal, already works closely with the NSA, had already decided to set up his own independent newspaper.”

      Just goes to show that all that knee jerk talk about how Omidyar’s venture is “anti-government” because he’s supposedly some sort of “libertarian” and that he won’t allow his journalists to criticize corporations because he’s some sort of pro-business “libertarian” was completely pointless.

      It’s even worse than that. Omidyar is not even opposed to the NSA, one of the more toxic instantiations of Big Government that we’ve seen. Although this doesn’t really surprise me, because Omidyar is not anything one might have called a civil rights and civil liberties defending “libertarian.”

      Omidyar is a Big Government neoliberal who deliberately sets out to exploit the connections between business and government, the (totalitarian) fusion of which in turn becomes his primary business. Like Robert Rubin.

      The more interesting thing is the light it throws on Greenwald, who just threw in with someone who is going to be diametrically opposed to what Greenwald has always maintained is his work, just because his prospective sponsor waggled a sufficiently impressive managerial position and enough dollar bills in his face.

      Under the circumstances, I don’t see how Greenwald can possibly kid himself that he now has the editorial freedom he didn’t think he could get at Salon and the Guardian.

      1. JTFaraday

        In other words, I don’t think Greenwald could have picked a more hostile sponsor to his own work as he defined it, never mind all those people who are all pissy about him because he doesn’t toe their particular line of reasoning.

        1. Jill

          I think you make a good point about this organization being a hostile sponsor. I also think you are correct to describe Pierre as a “flexian”.

          Doesn’t Glenn wonder why a man intimately connected with the NSA was going to start his own newspaper? My friend sent me this quote by Lenin: “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” NSA has a giant propaganda arm. Wouldn’t a newspaper be a nice addition for that wing?

          I am very grateful to Glenn, Jeremy and Laura for the work they have done. I still question this venture.

Comments are closed.