Links 12/13/09

Are Americans a Broken People? Why We’ve Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppression Alternet (hat tip reader Uncle Billy)

Interview with US Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chair Paul Volcker Der Spiegel. Notably better questions than in most US interviews.

Goldman Trades Shouldn’t Get U.S. Aid, Volcker Says Bloomberg

Unemployment Insurance in a War Bill After Downing Street (hat tip reader John D)

Small Business Confidence Plunges — Where Will Jobs Come From? Asia Times.

The Post Flacks for the Financial Industry #43,875 Dean Baker

This Chase Customer Service Rep Is An Impenetrable Fortress Consumerist. I stupidly opened a business account at Chase last year for a tip jar that never happened (yes Virginia, nothing ever happens on the tech front on my blog because I do not do tech and my old tech guy was not very motivated, it turns out because unbeknownst to him, he had Stage 4 cancer. He is getting chemo and I hope he makes it, but he is very sick). Point is they told me what I had to do to have it be fee free, I did that, and of course, their verbal representation the branch business officers made (which I made them give me not only at account opening but they also repeated one and three months in verbatim) are now denied by Chase, so I closed the account. Scum. I knew Chase to be scum, so this is a “shame on me” incident. The exchange in the post is classic Chase.

Laverntiy Beria in the US Independent Accountant

Scepticism’s limits Economist. Today’s must read. Debunks Eschenbach climate change data “smoking gun.”

Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman Michael Prescott (hat tip Dave Johnson). OK, it’s Sunday, so you get a second “must read.”

Antidote du jour (hat tip DoctoRx). From the LA Times (click to view full image; I’ve found if I try rescaling it, some readers complain they cannot see it at all):

Magneto, left, and Jackson bail from their surfboards after a long ride during the inaugural Surf City Surf Dog competition, a fundraiser for animal welfare organizations. Each dog had 12 minutes to catch as many waves as possible.

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  1. Patriot

    RE: the Alternet article.

    Americans are beat down because they’ve been told for at least a generation that anger is counterproductive. Maybe in the long term it will give you a heart attack. But when you’re beat down, anger is the best short term fix to get a person out of their rut and out into action.

    Americans should embrace anger.

  2. attempter

    Re Indep Accountant piece: This is actually extremely misleading. Right-wing organizations don’t mean at all the same thing as public interest orgs when they decry the police state.

    In complete contrast to real civil libertarians, rightist “libertarians” really want to exempt only Wall Street, the rich, big corporations, big property owners, from the purview of all law including the criminal. But at the same time they want a very aggressive fascist deployment against the non-rich.

    Re demoralization: This is a tremendous problem. We see the defeatism everywhere.

    Indeed it’s been institutionalized. For example when the corporatist Obama administration came in, as part of its program to crush all the hopes for action and change it had fraudulently fed during the campaign, it embarked upon a systematic demoralization campaign. Not just de jure establishment figures but hack operatives posing as “progressive activist” leaders spread the message that real change wasn’t politically possible, and enforced a top-down advocacy compliance based on that.

    Then when “reform” inevitably fails, they claim nothing could ever have been done. It was hopeless. The goal is to make you give up.

    The health care “reform” bait and switch was the foremost example. The goal was to disenfranchise real reformers (single-payer advocates), slander the true reform project, pretend that there was an alternative (the “public option” fraud), and then let that be gutted in the end as well. The end result would be the complete deomoralization and confusion of everyone who had actually wanted real change (which of course could easily have been accomplished if the leadership had really wanted reform).

    Defeatism also often becomes aggressive. In comment threads you often see the theme, “We’re completely screwed, there’s nothing we can do, it’s hopeless…” This kind of loser talk may or may not be accompanied with vicious attacks on anyone who’s still looking for ideas on what can be done.

    That attack is always at least implicit. The message is, “I’ve given up, and you should give up too. If you haven’t given up you’re some kind of troublemaker”.

    Such comments are always both pointless and malevolent. I imagine some of them come from paid operatives.

    It’s easy to see why, under revolutionary circumstances, rumor-mongering and defeatist talk are often punishable by death. That article provides a good example of how far the poison has spread.

    1. moneta

      You’re condemnation of negativity is exactly what is wrong with America.

      There IS such a thing as constructive negativity. You know, the ones that stops people from detroying themselves. Just like when I was telling people that there was a credit bubble and they should be taking on smaller mortgages. I was told to go see a shrink!

      When we speak of the multiple stages of grief, it’s not a joke. You can’t push yourself out of these stages at will on other people’s schedules.

      But in America, you’re not allowed to grieve. You’ve got to put on your happy face ASAP or else you’ll make others feel bad and you’ll get ostracized.

      What we have is empty optimism. There is no consolidation phase that permits one to be sad, to think about what went wrong and how to fix the problem. Nature has been kicked out of the equation, it’s all about taking control. As if you can control everything. And you are judged when things go wrong! There is no room for mistake.

      Short-termism in America is not only prevalent in quarterly financial results, it has permeated to ALL aspects of life. Lose 100 pounds in in 30 days, get your degree in 3 months…

      We need constructive optimism, not optimism based on blind faith that things will turn out fine. There is nothing wrong with being sad if this state in our life is setting us up for the next stage.

      History is full of stories where things did not turn out fine whether people were optimistic or not.

      1. DownSouth

        Are people helpless before the engineers of consent? Or are they capable of the “correction from below,” as Cornel West put it?

        What role did rank and file Americans play in their transformation from citizen to consumer zombie? Are the government and corporate America simply responding to the innate desires of the people? Or is consumerism something that big business conceived and then brainwashed Americans into accepting through a massive propaganda and public relations campaign?

        If indeed a majority of Americans are now consumer zombies, can that be changed? How quickly can it be changed?

        And if indeed that change is possible, what is required to bring change about?

        Rage is by no means an automatic reaction to misery and suffering as such; no one reacts with rage to an incurable disease or to an earthquake or, for that matter, to social conditions that seem to be unchangeable. Only where there is reason to suspect that conditions could be changed and are not does rage arise.
        –Hannah Arendt, Crises of the Republic

        Finally, the method of nonviolence is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. It is this deep faith in the future that causes the nonviolent resister to accept suffering without retaliation. He knows that in his struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship. This belief that God is on the side of truth and justice comes down to us from the long tradition of our Christian faith. There is something at the very center of our faith which reminds us that Good Friday may reign for a day, but ultimately it must give way to the triumphant beat of the Easter drums. Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but one day that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name.
        –Martin Luther King, “Nonviolence and racial justice”

        It is the same conformism, the assumption that men behave and do not act with respect to each other, that lies at the root of the modern science of economics, whose birth coincided with the rise of society and which, together with its chief technical tool, statistics, became the social science par excellence. Economics—until the modern age a not too important part of ethics and politics and based on the assumption that men act with respect to their economic activities as they act in every other respect—could achieve a scientific character only when men had become social beings and unanimously followed certain patterns of behavior, so that those who did not keep the rules could be considered to be asocial or abnormal.

        The laws of statistics are valid only where large numbers or long periods are involved, and acts or events can statistically appear only as deviations or fluctuations. The justification of statistics is that deeds and events are rare occurrences in everyday life and in history. Yet the meaningfulness of everyday relationships is disclosed not in everyday life but in rare deeds, just as the significance of a historical period shows itself only in the few events that illuminate it. The application of the law of large numbers and long periods to politics or history signifies nothing less than the willful obliteration of their very subject matter, and it is a hopeless enterprise to search for meaning in politics or significance in history when everything that is not everyday behavior or automatic trends has been ruled out as immaterial…

        Hobbes’s attempt to introduce the new concepts of making and reckoning into political philosophy—or, rather, his attempt to apply the newly discovered aptitudes of making to the realm of human affairs—was of the greatest importance; modern rationalism as it is currently known, with the assumed antagonism of reason and passion as its stock-in-trade, has never found a clearer and more uncompromising representative. Yet it was precisely the realm of human affairs where the new philosophy was first found wanting, because by its very nature it could not understand or even believe in reality. The idea that only what I am going to make will be real—perfectly true and legitimate in the realm of fabrication—is forever defeated by the actual course of events, where nothing happens more frequently than the totally unexpected. To act in the form of making, to reason in the form of “reckoning with consequences,” means to leave out the unexpected, the event itself, since it would be unreasonable or irrational to expect what is no more than an “infinite probability.” Since, however, the event constitutes the very texture of reality within the realm of human affairs, where the “wholly improbable happens regularly,” it is highly unrealistic not to reckon with it, that is to reckon with something with which nobody can safely reckon. The political philosophy of the modern age, whose greatest representative is still Hobbes, founders on the perplexity that modern rationalism is unreal and modern realism is irrational—which is only another way of saying that reality and human reason have parted company.
        –Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

      2. DownSouth

        Every academic discipline has its technical nomenclature, and modern psychology has a word that is used, probably, more than any other. It is the word maladjusted. This word is the ringing cry of modern child psychology. Certainly all of us want to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid the neurotic personality. But I say to you, there are certain things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted.

        If you will allow the preacher in me to come out now, let me say to you that I never did intend to adjust to the evils of segregation and discrimination. I never did intend to adjust to religious bigotry. I never did intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never did intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence. And I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted because it may well be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted…

        I believe that it is through such maladjustment that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.
        –Martin Luther King, “The American Dream”

      3. attempter

        I understand grief. I’ve done plenty of grieving myself in bygone times.

        But when grief just becomes a permanent, passive way of life, it’s only destructive, of its own subject and of everything else.

        And grieving isn’t the same thing as the kind of aggressive, nihilistic defeatism which tries to shout down those who are trying to figure out something constructive to do.

        I wasn’t attacking grief, although you may find someone further down this thread who does.

      4. attempter

        Also, it’s not I who am demanding instant gratification in saying we need to take action.

        Rather, I think it’s precisely the likelihood that we can’t free ourselves overnight, or perhaps not for years, many years, of hard, hard work, which plays a big role in fostering the defeatism and passivity we’re talking about here.

        The common attitude is, if it doesn’t look quick and easy, that’s the same as “nothing can be done at all”.

        Look at how that played out in the health reform hijacking. Nothing filled people with more abject slavish terror than the idea of having to start all over again. Ergo the moral collapse and surrender to the wretched philosophy of, “a bill, any bill, no matter how rotten, is better than killing it and starting over”.

    1. Richard Kline

      So burnside, nothing in this ‘refutation’ you link to even _engages_ with the detailed dissection of the article Yves has cross-posted, or the related remarks there regarding the methodology of GHCN compilation _or_ the series constructed in Australia. Willis is in far, far over his head; more accurately, he’s muddling about deep inside his own head, already packed with preconceived notions. The biases in Eschenbach FAR EXCEED the relevance of any single issue he might care to raise. If you can’t see this, you have no business commenting on the issue. What we see with the remarks you’ve linked to are an obsession with marginal and often trivial details in the absence of any competence to reveiw the analyses in question. This is a defining feature of crankdom, btw.

      Climate modeling is a very complex _statistical_ process. The crosspost touches on this; Eschenbach and Willis clearly ‘dont’t get it.’ I do wish that AGW critics would either get the education required to participate in a meaningful debate or get off their little tin cracked pots. . . . Tiresome.

      1. DownSouth

        Richard Kline said: “What we see with the remarks you’ve linked to are an obsession with marginal and often trivial details in the absence of any competence to reveiw the analyses in question. This is a defining feature of crankdom, btw.”

        I hate to even engage the global warming debate, because I consider it to be entirely superfluous. The rising acidity levels in the oceans in and of themselves, without even considering global warming, offer compelling evidence that carbon dioxide poisoning must be brought under control:

        But your criticism of the global warming skeptics is right on. They sift through the data, cherry picking some anomaly, and then claim they have found a “smoking gun” that completely debunks global warming.

        In the current example, the cherry picked data are the temperature measurements from the temperature measuring facility located at Darwin Airport. The raw data do not show a warming trend. However, the raw data from three nearby measurement stations, cited in the article Yves linked, all show a clear warming trend. The scientists believe it is the raw data from Darwin Airport that is plagued by “various error factors,” and not that from the nearby stations, and so they adjusted or “homoginized” the data from the Darwin Airport.

        The climate change skeptics offer this as ironclad evidence of a huge conspiracy.

        The conspiracy, however, must truly be global in scope. And almost every climate scientist and government agency in the world must be party to it.

        As John Mitchell has pointed out: “We also know that NASA have data sets that show pretty much the same trend (global warming) over the past 100 years and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) also have a data set — which, I think, is all freely available.”

      2. burnside

        On the contrary, Richard. Willis rebuts the unsigned FT piece, drawing attention to the means employed in that article to distort his own points and, in a couple of instances, shows where the writer has fabricated quotations and attributed them to him.

        At the least, it will require someone with a name and credentials to sort Darwin out – probably shouldn’t need sorting, but now assertions have been made. So far as I can see, Willis is a gadfly and the FT needlessly coy.

        It is tiresome, I agree. Our difference lies, I believe, in your finding the Financial Times article acceptable (do you?), while I am offended by the tactics it employs.

        1. burnside

          Sub “Economist” for “FT” and “Financial Times”. I should not write when drowsy.

          Yves is right to point to manipulation. And I’m not shy of seeing it active in all sides of the discussion. Meanwhile, the climate proceeds on its own, and researchers continue their work. I presume this will sort itself out with or without all this taking-of-sides, which accomplishes very little.

          The red button for me is the common presumption that there are no “sides”. Peer review is how we get this sorted out.

        2. Francois T

          “At the least, it will require someone with a name and credentials to sort Darwin out”

          You are still engaging in the kind of detailism about Darwin, while suggesting without saying it openly that “if it is like “that” (whatever is “that”) for Darwin, then there ought to be others (as in many mucho others, right?)”

          How about this: Darwin is one among many meteo stations on the planet. How the hell would anomalies at Darwin change the general observations elsewhere?

          It won’t. That is why Willis et al should drop dead on that one. Because it is pointless.

          AGW exists, the science OVERALL is very solid. Science won, get a Life!

          1. burnside

            Francois T, let me suggest you re-read the subject posts. Willis isn’t as adept at organizing his assertions or rebuttal as is the Economist writer, but in his shabby way, he shows an understanding of the particular instance – and of its broader implications – not shared by his more articulate opponent.

            I get the sense that, for the moment at least, you very much prefer to find the matter of global warming to be understood and settled, and believe it to be so. Fine with me, of course. I doubt I could influence that if I cared to. But I think you might abandon this practice of abusing dissent and, especially, of presuming those who take another view are somehow defective.

            If you’re curious to read someone more adept at laying out a case for opposition, take a look at Andrei Illarianov’s comments “A Few Notes on Climate Change”.


            The global view of the matter is said to be moving away from that advocated by individuals and organizations based here in the US. I tend to side with Illarinov’s perspective. Probably, you won’t.

            So we’ll see.

  3. Richard Kline

    Regarding Levine’s thesis that American’s are broken by oppression . . . not. The concept is sound, and as he puts it I think such a process is in fact in play: do-gooders _are_ demoralized at present because The Man not only holds all the cards but prints new ones as needed. But the analysis is faulty, and I regret to say presented in a very self-righteous manner (but let that slide).

    A majority of Americans recently polled supported a major deployment of more troops to Afghanistan and an attendant murder-drone campaign in a neighboring sovereign nation. On the basis of absolutely no evidence of need or desirability and in the face of eight years of failure and mountains of evidence over multiple decades that not a shred of the proposed strategy is viable. Yves (yesterday?) posted another survey that purported to demonstrate that only 10% (!!) of the populace want huge financial concerns broken up. Even if that number is off by a factor of three, it wouldn’t amount to a third of the population. Levine specifically calls out as elitist those who would call his ‘demoralized masses’ fookin’ morons in too many cases, but the numbers are against his formulation. Look, it’s always more desirable to blame our troubles on ‘them;’ or in his case as a leftie [brother!] ‘Them.’ But the conclusion is false, to me.

    Too many in the US think we are just, good people, have earned our wealth, and those whom we designate (rather at random) as enemies ‘just don’t understand us.’ Too many here have been sniffing We’re Number 1 airplane glue since they were old enough to stop sucking on candy suckers and wolfing down Big Lies whole. And that is the problem: our overwheening self-regard, our exceptionalism and the dismal patronization of ‘those people’ we allow ourselves. Yes, yes many want the war to end; they don’t like paying for it, think we’re getting a bad deal, don’t like the bad rap, blah, blah, blah. But that’s not enough to get them off their couches, being seen in a bad light. Because basically nobody’s bombing their little bungalows or the ones next door. And their are plenty in the US who are entirely happy to have us fighting ‘the bad guys’ (whose countries we have most often unilaterally seized and turned into colonies with free fire zones aplenty), but just wish we’d do a better job of it and wrap the sucker up.

    Until some large plurality in the US can face the monstrous injustice of our external policies, the criminality of our actions, the cost our big fat lifestyle inflicts upon large numbers of other people around the world who have no say in said policies we’re incapable of change. A majority here, and often a solid majority see us as just and in the right, and that is the problem: we are neither. As long as we believe a lie, indeed a damned and fully evident lie, we can never get a handle on our behavior; that is simple truth.

    This goes double for our insipid response to malefactors of great wealth at home. It goes triple for the crapulence and mendacity which passes for our national-level political system. Anyone who talks about how ‘Obama sold us out’ is an utter fool: Bo Prez is doing exactly the things he said he would do on campaign. One could go through this point by point; he’s delivering on promises straight and true if, if one bothered to parse the rhetoric. Those that didn’t fooled themselves, and for them to sign off on the thesis that ‘we’re oppressed by The Man’ without taking any responsibility for their self-delusion is . . . oh _you_ chose a choice adjective of invective, I tire of shooting rubber duckies in a pisspot. But look, the problem to me is that we think we’re more or less OK, as a country and as it’s citizens, just sometimes “on the wrong track” in the foul and slippery language of the famous poll question. But we aren’t; we _aren’t_ OK as a country or a citizenry. And until we face that, we’ll find ourselves skirting odious truths, or worse defending them. And _this_ is why The Man at the Top has always got us on the back foot. By buying into the self-serving falsehood of our national image we’re neutered in adressing the faults.

    So quit buying the lie, sez I. That’s the first step. After that, y’all will find that noncooperation is a powerful choice, one that works, and is itself empowering. And as the first step to ceasing to cooperate, _stop_ believing that the Great Electoral Hope will put a spit shine on all the old falsehoods so that they, briefly, ring true again. But it takes lots and lots to stop cooperating with the Big Lie. As of today, The Man has a comfortable majority to work with. So hey, enlighten up a friend today!

    1. DownSouth

      We all live by robbing Asiatic coolies, and those of us who are “enlightened” all maintain that those coolies ought to be set free; but our standard of living, and hence our “enlightenment,” demands that the robbery shall continue.
      –George Orwell, “Rudyard Kipling”

      Obama’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace prize must have been an extremely bitter pill for the victims of US neo-imperialism. “The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms,” so went Obama’s soaring rhetoric.

      “U.S. National Security is a global strategic doctrine, relative to maintaining economic, political and military supremacy in its zone of influence,” is how Mexican politilogue Adolfo Aguilar Zinser defines these same policies.

      Imperialism works until it doesn’t. And it appears American imperialism is on its deathbed. But that doesn’t keep misguided demagogues like Obama from trying to relive past imperial glories, even if that entails making extremely high-risk gambles–like escalating the conflict in Afghanistan–that are almost certainly doomed to failure.

      Besides the irony that inheres to the myth Obama is trying to keep alive, there is an additional irony, and that is that it is a black man who is now charged with perpetuating that myth:

      The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed that collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors…
      –James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

      1. craazyman

        James Baldwin was a masterful writer, whose prose I respect and admire. It’s a nice drink of water, reading his rhythms and his lyrical logopoeia (which is not to be confused with diarreah or logorreah or mythopoeia, although the last is close). Bowhahahaha.

        But that comment is a ludicrous straw man. As most race baiting is, whatever colored mouth it comes from. A black fool is as foolish as a white fool or a yellow-man fool or a red-man fool. A fool is a fool whose shit is brown and piss is yellow and pimple puss is white. Thus saith me, Moregllon V. Alaminitrix, PhD, LLC and Kiwanis Club Secretary and Model Airplane Enthusiast. On a rainy Sunday.

        1. DownSouth

          I believe you grossly overstate your case.

          There is some truth in what you say, as is acknowledged here by Ralph Ellison:

          We did not develop as a people in isolation. We developed within a context of white people. Yes, we have a special awareness because our experience has, in certain ways, been uniquely different from that of white people, but it was not absolutely different. A poor man is a poor man whether he’s black or white.
          –Ralph Ellison, “Invisible Man”, The Atlantic, December 1970

          But you seem to want to completely deny blacks and other minorities their “uniquely different” experience that gave them their “special awareness.” And Baldwin’s quote is very much in that spirit.

          What was it like being black or Latino during Baldwin’s lifetime? The “uniquely different experience” of being an outsider, of being a non-citizen in one’s own country of birth must have engendered very different ideas about American exceptionalism than those held by most white people. The fight to “get in,” as Martin Luther King put it, was a hard fought battle, and it was World War II that finally provided the impetus to end Jim Crow:

          [T]he “integration” of the Texas Mexican refers primarily to the granting of effective citizenship. This signified a dissolution of the authority principle, whose origins dated to the Mexican War. A century later, in the late 1940s, this principle was challenged aggressively by Mexican American veterans, who used the legitimacy they earned in World War II to press their claims for full citizenship.
          –David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986

          PBS did a great special on what it was like to be a Mexican American during Jim Crow:

          Ralph Ellison, Martin Luther King and James Baldwin all wrote of their experiences of what it was like being black during the era of Jim Crow.

          Obama was of course not a part of these experiences.

          The sad part is that he doesn’t even seem to be aware of them.

          1. craazyman

            Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was a fantastic novel. It was jazz put into language. I read it transfixed and amazed by the poetic power of the lines and the scenes.

            And it’s interesting that the orator protagonist has some similar traits with those of Obama — who I humorously refer to as “The Mouth that Roared” — namely the talent for oratory.

            I don’t know if anyone remembers the movie “The Mouse that Roared” with Peter Sellars. But it’s my little inside joke with myself.

            I think Obama gets it for sure, but only in relation to an arid intellectualization and a larger goal of stewardship of the USA and political feasibility. In that respect, he, as we all are, our products of our time and place and the consciousness that we live in, and our unique personalities and psychic structures.

            He’s a compromiser, mediator, conciliator. I think he believes most folks are driven by the better angels of their natures. He’s almost right. But not right enough (no pun intended at all).

            The larger psychic structures at the communal level are heavy karma indeed. I don’t take them lightly. We’re all caught in them like flies banging on a window screen. The tribal karma of centuries is staggering in its misery. It’s so easy to take for granted what we now have and It’s only Gnosis that lets us see beyond them. And that gift or curse is, to my observation, a function of some sort of mysterious force that might be called Logos or Divinity, and is parceled out to humanity without regard to circumstance, race, gender or any other physical factor. This is probably only a trite observation, admittedly. But the whole function of civilization should be to encourge it, and to some extent we see that in the official documents and philosophies, which is what makes the Wesstern Project — from the Greeks to Jesus to Roman Law to the Magna Carta etc. etc. == somewhat unique historically. Althought the people themselves have no more claim to benevolence than anyone anywhere. Like in technology, ther is hardware and there is software.

            The cartographers of the tribal mind have a legitmate place in the arts and letters. But the cartograhers of Gnosis itself are, in my view, higher and far more profound.

            I hope the afterworld is full of them, for they surely will ahve some interesting things to say. It’s interesting that Malcom X, near his end, came to the same belief and expressed it openly. Then, he was gunned down. That mind cage Thanatos prison seems to have a conciousness of its own, and doesn’t take traitors lightly. But the path to heaven is not for the faint of heart, I suppose.

    2. i on the ball patriot

      Good comments all.

      This bears repeating;

      “Until some large plurality in the US can face the monstrous injustice of our external policies, the criminality of our actions, the cost our big fat lifestyle inflicts upon large numbers of other people around the world who have no say in said policies we’re incapable of change. A majority here, and often a solid majority see us as just and in the right, and that is the problem: we are neither. As long as we believe a lie, indeed a damned and fully evident lie, we can never get a handle on our behavior; that is simple truth.”

      In the spirit of deprogramming the, “We’re Number 1 airplane glue sniffers”, amongst us that might want to repent and broaden their outlooks, here is a great blog to begin to broaden your viewpoint;


      “Boiling Point: Hijacking the Planet for Power and Privilege Written by Chris Floyd
      Wednesday, 09 December 2009 17:14

      “The mind boggles. Who ever would have thought, even in their darkest, most paranoid dreams, that the Copenhagen climate change talks would be hijacked by a handful of rich nations seeking to give themselves more power and riches while imposing new burdens and new injustices on the rest of the world? And that amongst this avaricious, duplicitous elite one would find the government of a man who now bears the Nobel laurel for his unstinting dedication to the welfare of all humanity?

      Yet as unlikely as it may seem – the rich screwing the poor? What next? – that’s exactly what has happened at the great international conference that opened this week in Denmark with the avowed intent of pulling the planet back from the brink of a potentially fatal disequilibrium. America, Britain, and, er, Denmark are among the handful of rich nations who have drawn up a secret draft agreement that they hope to impose on the conference in its closing days, when the elite’s heavy hitters like Barack Obama and Gordon Brown swan in to take a bow.”

      More here …

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    3. attempter

      Anyone who talks about how ‘Obama sold us out’ is an utter fool: Bo Prez is doing exactly the things he said he would do on campaign. One could go through this point by point; he’s delivering on promises straight and true if, if one bothered to parse the rhetoric. Those that didn’t fooled themselves, and for them to sign off on the thesis that ‘we’re oppressed by The Man’ without taking any responsibility for their self-delusion is . . .

      Well, aren’t you just a walking, talking exemplar of the intentional totalitarian rhetorician discussed in the article?

      Unless you are in fact the vile Obama hack you sound like, then what exactly do you think is the political utility of such hatred-spewing?

      Yeah, we blogosphere elites understood what Obama was. Go ahead and break your arm patting yourself on the back. So I suppose you’re technically correct to point out how stupid all the voters were.

      So what’s the point?

      Are you here because you want to fight corporatism or not? And if so, why do you think such hateful, supercilious elitism is the way to appeal to the people?

      You’re exactly the kind of totalitarian the article referred to, and exactly the kind of gutter hack I referred to.

      And of course, you’re really just showing your own complete ignorance or dishonesty if you claim to be unaware of all the specific promises this person made on civil liberties, Iraq, Gitmo, transparency, lobbyist access, as well as his general anti-Wall St rhetoric.

      And you know damn well that he knew damn well what kind of expectations he was arising in all those first time voters especially. He absolutely made them a vast, monumental promise. He was elected with a tremendous mandate.

      I recommend you look up the word “mandate” in your dictionary. You’ll find that it includes NOT being “optional”.

  4. John Bougearel

    Hi Yves,

    It’s xmas time again. And just this weekend I was thinking how else we might thank you for all of your generosity this year. What better way than to introduce a xmas tree tip jar.

    So, since you mentioned the tip jar you intended to set up last year in this post, I’d like to let you know folks like me would love to put a little something in your stocking this holiday season.

  5. Jim

    I have an issue with the emotional tone of the above comments of DownSouth, Richard Kline and i on the ball patriot. An unstated assumption behind many of your collective comments about social change and the general U.S.population appears to be that each of you has somehow managed to transcended this same culture of lies while most of the U.S. population has not– but I think each of you may be making a mistake in holding to that assumption about yourself.

    One of the most prominent emotional dimensions of our elite culture of lies is condescension. `To state that “…as long as we believe a lie, indeed a damned and fully evident lie, we can never get a handle on our behavior, that is simple truth” and that “anyone who talks about how Obama sold us out is an utter fool…” dupicates the condescending logic of the Wall Street plutocrats and foreign policy experts you so rightfully condemn.

    In this sense your blazing critiques of the system only serves to support the status quo (i.e. it harmonizes so well with the conventional emotional attitudes of the elites you appropriately despise.) Your understandable frustration with our present situation more and more bleeds into a self-rightous condemnation of your potential allies. This attitude is one of the many reasons why mobilization against a corrupt regime is so difficult.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Jim, (and attemper),

      I can not speak for Richard or DownSouth but I did characterize Richards comments as, “good comments all”, in spite of the fact that I was also not at first cozy with the way he expressed the Obama comment. But, after parsing it myself I did not feel it was worth a nit pick. Those who voted for Obama were indeed fooled. When you are fooled you are a fool, a victim of a joke or trick, a dupe. And attempter you went on to then put word’s in Richard’s mouth by re-characterizing his remark from fool to, “how stupid all the voters were.”

      As for this; “…as long as we believe a lie, indeed a damned and fully evident lie, we can never get a handle on our behavior, that is simple truth”

      It is true. Those that believe a damned and fully evident lie should question why they believed that lie and did not see the deception.

      I agree that calling each other stupid is a non productive way to move forward. I got on DownSouths and Taibbi’s case a few posts back for characterizing the tea-baggers as “stupid” and “idiots”. But, we are all on different parts of the trail of enlightenment. I personally believe that those of you who still write your ‘elected’ representatives, and urge others to do so, are victims of a severe brainwashing, not a kind characterization (I have expressed that many times to Yves and Ed Harrison, sometimes less delicately than others). Do I believe you are fools or idiots? No. Just totally brainwashed as in you are a product of what you have been through — your life’s experiences.

      And, to be real honest, in my darkest , deepest, most frustrated and angry moments I have made gross comments about the mental abilities of my fellow scamericans.

      The challenge here, as Richard stated, is to first help people try (hope that does not sound to condescending) to see that they are victim’s of deception. That they are a product of their life’s experiences, much of which has been having corporate horse shit shoveled into their brains via the boob tube. [Is this too emotionally heavy?] I would add that concurrent with that effort people will have to be made to realize that relative to others in the world, all scamericans are consuming an unfair share of global resources and are acting like like big fat overfed fucking pigs of which I admit I am one.

      Soooo… point well taken, now lets see you come up with some politically correct and proper non offensive language to deprogram the brainwashed big fat overfed fucking scamerican pigs. I always like a lot of remedial suggestions with my criticism.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet

      1. attempter

        I’d say my basic point is that while it’s frustrating to have a clear view of things for a long time while seeing the masses get everything exactly wrong, that once they do start to realize how they’ve been had, there’s no political utility in attacking them. That’s the time to get out in front of them and organize their emotions, however we feel about the rationality of it all.

        But on the other hand those who would rather remain in some ivory tower and hurl down anathemas because everyone was too stupid to see the truth from the start, is not only not helping but is acting as a de facto agent of the tyranny.

        I’m intimately familiar with the temptation to feel that way. I used to do it myself. Back in my enviro days I used make it a point of pride to say even the worst corporation can’t do anything the consumer doesn’t let it do. So everything’s always the people’s fault.

        Now, that’s of course true, but eventually I asked myself: Am I here to try to get something done, or just to vent my superiority? I said I want to get something done. So then it followed that no matter what the cosmic truth of things, every message should be crafted according to strategy and tactics.

        So what’s the utility of that kind of elitism? None. So I dropped it.

        And now, when we’re in the midst of this coup d’etat, is the time when populist coherence is more imperative than it’s ever been. Now we can no longer afford to have people mucking up the message with childish frustrations. That only empowers the fascists.

        1. i on the ball patriot

          Pot, kettle, black …
          Inhibiting, stifling, thought police, childish bull shit.
          Go beat up on Warren Buffet.

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          1. attempter

            I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I do know I tried to offer you a reasoned response.

            It’s simply a question of do those who perceived the deceptions from the start stand ready to welcome the ever greater numbers who are starting to recognize the deceptions, or do they stand there as smug nihilists and excoriate them. That’s precisely one of the things the article was talking about, that kind of abetting the enemy.

            I guess you’re too mired in your narcissism to care.

          2. i on the ball patriot

            Hey … I’m cool, I work out, I drink beer and chicks want me bad! And you my friend, have a promising future as a diplomat!

  6. michael

    Yves, I am a little disheartened by the choice of links, to the point where I am not expecting much of serious, somewhat unique content behind it anymore.
    Why do I need to read an essay from 2005 trying to morally crucify Ayn Rand on things she wrote in 1928? BTW does this choice imply you believe Rand to have a mayor responsibility for the mess we are in? Well I believe Keynes was a clown (just as Krugman is today), but I don’t try to dig out bits of dirty laundry from their twenties without clear, obvious connections to their later major works or influences. Such things show more about the critic than the criticized.
    Same direction for the Economist article. An anonymous writer attacks an outspoken critic of the man-made global warming theory. Are we able to decide on our own who is right? No, especially as the Scientific Method seems to have gotten suspended on that question. I remember clearly when a few years ago the IPCC panel announced that no notable critics remained that questioned man-made global warming. Then I wondered: were they able to convince the remaining experts or did they simply silence them? Shortly thereafter it became clear the latter had happened. Since then we are stuck in a fight of beliefs, not scientific models any more.
    Yves, don’t become too emotionally involved. I wish you calmness and nerves of steel.

    1. Andrew Bissell

      So when she was in her early twenties Ayn Rand wrote some journal entries — as far as she knew for her own eyes only — exploring why she was experiencing some odd notions of admiration for an obvious criminal.

      77 years later some guy obviously hostile to the ideas she developed later pulls out all these journal entries and plays up everything positive she wrote about the man (or, as she states herself, an “idealized” version or idea of him which abstracted away his “degeneracy”), and dismisses the many notes to herself that one should not, of course, truly admire a murderer. He makes sure to ponder in repeated, vivid detail the gruesome particulars of that murder, of which we are not certain the journal’s author was even aware.

      Must read!

    2. Yves Smith Post author


      It appears you did not read the Economist article closely, because it is a very detailed parsing by someone who not only has the statistical training to evaluate the data, but also pointed out multiple errors in the claimed “smoking gun” analysis AND produced data from neighboring sites that clearly point to a generalized pattern of warming.

      And we also have this:

      Amusingly, I see a climate change denier (yes, I will use that term) insisted on the addition of a disclaimer on an article that is a list of organizations and quotes from their research, so I hardly see how the facts can be in dispute here. If you read the book Agnotology, the techniques in use here are exactly the same as those of Big Tobacco in trying to muddy the debate around the role of smoking in lung cancer. And yes, Big Oil HAS been trying to buy scientists, see here:

      Michael and Andrew,

      As for Ayn Rand, I see no reason to keep “calmnness and nerves of steel” as far as the hateful and destructive libertarian ideology is concerned. What has enabled humanity to accomplish ANYTHING? Opposable thumbs, language skills, and most of all cooperation, despite the fact that we also, like most other species, also cheat and engage in various forms of deception. None of the artifacts of civilization, from roads to communications to cars to movies to education would be possible without cooperation.

      But Rand argues for people to see themselves and act solely as isolated individuals. That goes against 4000+ years of what has made civilization of any kind possible. She is encouraging them to operate as free riders on the rest of us (her John Galt is an amazing distortion, a fantasy that is a 180 degree distortion of reality, a ludicrous and laughable effort to deny that individuals stand on the shoulders of hundreds of generations of group action and combined learning, as well as whatever specific resources that reflect accumulated knowledge and effort that he has availed himself of, such as education cars, electricity, indoor plumbing, medicine, the code of law and the court system).

      Rand and her followers argues for sociopathic behavior, greed and selfishness in its purest form. She openly encourages people to act as individuals with no regard for their impact on others.

      You also did not bother reading the entire piece about Rand. Prescott shows that the language she used to praise Hicksman was virtually identical to that she used in her later, famous works. Her thinking did not change, so your attempt to paint her fascination with a depraved sociopath as some sort of youthful abberrance that she renounced later is false.

      And had you bothered reading, she was clearly aware of Hicksman’s history. Her journal states, “There is a lot that is purposely, senselessly horrible about him. But that does not interest me…”

      The mere fact that he abducted and murdered a girl isn’t sufficient for you? Hicksman was national news in 1928. The fact that he was a vile, vicious character IS relevant precisely because Rand was fascinated with him and idealized him. Whether she knew the lurid details or not (and her journal remark says it is likely she did) the top line, the fact that he was a MULTIPLE murderer should suffice to make him unacceptable as ANY sort of model of human conduct. Prescott is pointing out, correctly, that by the standards of criminals, her ideal man was extraordinarily depraved. That is relevant given how influential her sick philosophy has become.

      I am tired of giving libertarianism the free pass it does not deserve. I have no interest in supporting, even tacitly, a destructive philosophy.

      1. Uncle Billy Cunctator

        Rand, was no dummy. I’ve never been convinced that she believed any of the gook she wrote for the public. There is a big theme behind much of our current predicament — “Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves.”

        Free Markets, Open Societies… all lead to populations that enthrall themselves to someone/something else. The most powerful weapon of the fascist is “freedom.”

      2. Andrew Bissell

        Rand and her followers argues for sociopathic behavior, greed and selfishness in its purest form. She openly encourages people to act as individuals with no regard for their impact on others.

        This doesn’t even remotely fit into Ayn Rand’s idea of “rational selfishness.” It’s pretty clear you do not understand Objectivism and its ideas of social cooperation (to say nothing of actual Objectivists) in any detail, aside from various cartoon criticisms you have heard and read. If nothing else Atlas Shrugged is a dramatic expression of the _breakdown_ in cooperation that occurs when human relations are subjected to the chaos of arbitrary government force and central planning. And your point about individuals “standing on the shoulders” of those who have come before them is one that has been posed to Objectivists, and easily answered, many times over. If inheriting a lot of knowledge and wealth and resources were all that were required to be a John Galt, then everyone would be a creative genius.

        Rand wrote in some detail about the problems with her earlier “Nietzschean flirtation” and even has a major character in the Fountainhead who is an expression of the problems with that worldview.

        You also did not bother reading the entire piece about Rand. Prescott shows that the language she used to praise Hicksman was virtually identical to that she used in her later, famous works.

        I did read the whole thing, but didn’t think it was really necessary to address the “similar language” line of argument given its self-evident absurdity. Prescott’s article even comes pre-Godwin’d, for pete’s sake. The methods at work here are those of propaganda, not serious scholarship and criticism. How do you attack a philosophy which abhors the initiation of physical force? Why, you tie some of its author’s journal musings in her youth (which she even noted to herself were probably misguided) to “similar language” (similar language! my stars!) which was used in her later works.

        I mean, what is the point here, exactly? That Rand developed a philosophy that ostensibly opposes murder, theft, and fraud but was actually secretly a system for murderer worship?

        It would have been pretty easy for ARI to just airbrush the whole Hickman thing out of the published journals. If nothing else it puts the lie to the idea Objectivism is a “cult,” even if it will undoubtedly be seized upon by detractors as evidence that Rand’s followers are, I don’t know, “A-OK with killing children” or whatever.

        1. Elephant swimming

          Rand’s followers are, I don’t know, “A-OK with killing children” or whatever.

          See middle east wars of the last 20 years.

        2. Yves Smith Post author


          Your point about John Galt is spurious. All human artifacts, language, mathematics, tools, infrastructure, all have been built over thousands of generations. To say that any one individual’s accomplishment entitles him to repudiate his obligations for the tools he has received by virtue of membership is society is bunk. True geniuses like Einstein recognize how their accomplishments fit into a much larger historical grid.

          The very fact that there is a enough social surplus to allow your John Galt fantasy character to come to operate at the level he does is the result of social organization. Without society, which inevitably includes restrictions on behavior and conduct, he’d be in hunter-gatherer mode. You cannot posit the existence of creative geniuses without giving credit to the environment that created them, and it is one that marshals and restricts human conduct.

          As for her use of language, I’m sorry, but your rejection here does not hold water. Language does reveal thought, and Rand’s novels were presumably a more deliberate exercise than her journals. The use of highly parallel language says that her thinking had not changed over time, she was extolling the same kind of behavior she found attractive in Hickman.

          1. i on the ball patriot

            “All human artifacts, language, mathematics, tools, infrastructure, all have been built over thousands of generations. To say that any one individual’s accomplishment entitles him to repudiate his obligations for the tools he has received by virtue of membership is society is bunk. True geniuses like Einstein recognize how their accomplishments fit into a much larger historical grid.”

            Artifacts are all ‘externalizations’ of human cerebral and motor skills. All are tools of dominance. It is the human species aggregate ability to better externalize tools of dominance that allows it its present dominant status on planet earth. But, each individual organism, and group of organisms, is free, depending on the organisms sphere of influence, to accept or reject any and or all of these past and present tools of dominance. Each individual, and each group of individuals, depending on their perception of value to them in getting their needs met, must make their own assessment as to what tools to accept or reject. They will accept or reject based on their perception of what will facilitate them getting their needs met.

            The sweet irony here is that the externalizing of these tools of dominance, in the aggregate, represent the morphing of humanity in its present form into its newer form which I like to refer to as the onotron. That morphing transition (rate of the externalization) is now being carried out at warp speed relative to all of prior human evolution. It is more than just being shed like the skin of a snake. It is more like the egg, to larva, to pupa, to butterfly transition. We are rapidly leaving the pupa stage (end of human form of evolution) and transition into the onotron stage of evolution.

            Sometimes reality is a bitch and it is difficult to make apparent sense of the futility of it all. Sooo … you make your own reality as best you can. At this point in time, caring for, and sharing with each other, and reducing the spread of the extremes of cannibalization, while maintaining as even as possible the pecking order crumb supply is a worthy goal.

            Do unto others …

            Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        3. DownSouth

          Rand’s religion of greed and selfishness was embraced and implemented by powerful men like Greenspan, Geithner, Summers, Bernanke and Rubin. The careers of these men were of course facilitated by a finance sector whose interests were served by Rand’s pernicious ideology.

          The way in which Rand’s ruinous and demented dogmas resonated with a broader American public always reminds me of this quote by Eric Hoffer, talking about Adolph Hitler:

          It colors my thinking and shapes my attitude toward events. I can never forget that one of the most gifted, best educated nations in the world, of its own free will, surrendered its fate into the hands of a maniac.
          –Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

      3. Bob Goodwin

        “I am tired of giving libertarianism the free pass it does not deserve. I have no interest in supporting, even tacitly, a destructive philosophy.”

        Wow Yves,

        that is a truly anti-intellectual thought. You use virtually every lazy intellectual trick I have ever heard of:

        1. because one of libertarianism writers idealized scum, then libertarianism is scum.
        2. because libertarianism valued individual action, it is sociopathic. Somehow the 100s of generations of accumulated wisdom belong to socialism, and libertarianism gets to start with stone age tools?
        3. because wall street is bad, and it built off of libertarian values, therefore libertarianism accepts sociopathy. Did communism accept stalin? Did fascism accept Moussolini? Did catholicism accept the spanish inquisition? Sociopathy is not proof of a corrupt value system, it is proof of a corrupted value system.

        When I see the cock sure representations about global warming, one-world governance, and political correctness, I am glad that liberalism is limited to the ivory towers of the coasts.

        1. Yves Smith Post author


          I see you did not bother reading my argument, and instead made up your own and attributed it to me. Then you accuse me of intellectual laziness after just exhibiting the same.

          The basis of my attack is the misguided belief that individuals can claim their contributions exist in some sort of splendid isolation, when all human progress has depended on adding, brick by brick, to an edifice of knowledge, and in some cases, infrastructure.

          As far as intellectual laziness is concerned, one prevalent rhetorical trick you used and is common among libertarians is to accuse anyone who opposes them to be supporting socialism or central planning. Saying societies and markets need rules and rules need effective enforcement is hardly a call for socialism. The New York Stock Exchange, which until the late 1990s was seen as the model for a well functioning market, was heavily regulated.

          And the libertarian ideal IS isolated individuals. That isn’t simply my view, but that of George Stilger.

          And again, re lazy reading and argumentation, I never made any mention of Wall Street in this thread. That was Down South.

          1. Bob Goodwin

            I did read your argument, and I read much of your work, and am an early pre-buyer of your book and faithful reader of your blog. So you cannot fairly accuse me of not paying attention. Perhaps I do not always hear.

            I did not argue a case for or against libertarianism or contrast it to socialism in my comments. I made a case against your case. You did not cite Wall Street on this thread, but you have talked at length about Wall Street, and I brought it up because we both agree on the key facts: Unregulated (or regulatory capture) freed the sociopaths to wreak havoc. I hope I did not get that part wrong.

            You do the common trick of citing a single thinker (warts and all) to declare what something is. There are many Libertarian thinkers and talking heads, and it should not be a surprise to you that there is divergence in ideals. You clearly tied libertarianism to tolerance of sociopathy.

            Whether I am a libertarian, or you are a liberal, I am interested in regulating the sociopaths without stopping the entrepeneurs. I own a medical startup right now. The FDA has many resctrictions on what I can do. But as long as I provide scientific evidence of effectiveness and safety, they will supply rapid approval. If I sell poison, I go to jail. Sounds pretty fair to me.

        2. Skippy

          Sorry all, just wanted to say that some times economies of scale comes to mind with regards to this pernicious topic.

          While all fear or loath central command (parental decision making lol) down to the atomic level one must admit the world is getting smaller and we effect each other much, much more than when this debate started. The pioneering attitudes (like to see most try on the fit) just don’t work in America any more, we are many and are feeling the squeeze are we not?

          So individuals that claim no harm by their actions, consumption, indeed thoughts have to take into consideration the scale of *us all* in repetition (btw is the most damaging component to our dilemma, scale and repetition), its one thing to get it wrong on a small scale and then talk about the population numbers we have achieved and march forward too…eh! Derr China.

          The consequences of our individual actions are becoming untenable regardless of their merit intellectually, history shows us this fallacy time and time again…does it not? We must find ways to survive and then debate the human condition as a second thought or all will suffer laments far greater than economic downfall.

          This all reminds me of a Capt I knew arguing time tables whilst his troops we coping friendly fire, cuz he wanted some ass/CYA/deflect criticism with the battalion commander on the horn. When he should have been getting his people the FK out of there and then argue who the fk was the problem.

          Humbly summited DIA boy.

  7. gordon

    Our hostess seems to have fallen into the self-hatred typical of the abuse syndrome described in the Alternet article:

    Yves Smith: “I knew Chase to be scum, so this is a “shame on me” incident”.

    For the record, I don’t think of Yves Smith as being at all shamed by being abused by a bank. Not at all.

    Condemning the abused for allowing themselves to be abused isn’t helpful. You don’t help people realise their victimhood by abusing them more. I have in mind these sorts of comments:

    Richard Kline: “Those that [didn’t parse the rhetoric] fooled themselves, and for them to sign off on the thesis that ‘we’re oppressed by The Man’ without taking any responsibility for their self-delusion is . . . oh _you_ chose a choice adjective of invective”.

    I on the ball patriot: “Those who voted for Obama were indeed fooled. When you are fooled you are a fool, a victim of a joke or trick, a dupe”.

    I liked the quotes from M.L.King. For many people, though, just finding out that there are other ways of looking at the world comes before adopting an attitude of resistance. There is a lot of groundwork to be done before you can expect people currently without any alternative worldview to stand up.

    When I was young we used to read books like Friere’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and Marcuse’s “One-Dimensional Man”. Just getting to the idea of an alternative is a long road for many people. More recently J.R.Saul’s “Voltaire’s Bastards” has a lot of insights about the evolution of the current situation from a non-Marxist viewpoint, though that book is often infuriatingly repetitive and discursive.

    Good link.

  8. i on the ball patriot

    “I on the ball patriot: “Those who voted for Obama were indeed fooled. When you are fooled you are a fool, a victim of a joke or trick, a dupe”.”

    That is not a condemnation. It is a statement of fact.

    “For many people, though, just finding out that there are other ways of looking at the world comes before adopting an attitude of resistance. There is a lot of groundwork to be done before you can expect people currently without any alternative worldview to stand up.”

    Enlighten me please. What is the correct procedure to shape that alternative worldview and adopt an attitude of resistance?

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  9. Uncle Billy Cunctator

    Go long pitchforks. Over the top… first the LA Board of Supervisors approves $1M office renovation for new supervisor, and now $14M to bail out the LA Opera?

    This is getting bad. They will have people at the ramparts within months, not years with this sort of thing.

    If the season ticket holders of the LA Opera can’t operate their own amusements at their own expense (and they should… it is really a crap opera company and people are starving and dying without healthcare)… it should not exist.

  10. Jeremy

    The ‘hidden edge’ that keeps people from rising up is something called organized stalking. It was used by the Stasi in East Germany (called “zersetzung”) and it’s being used in the NATO nations including the United States now.

    Do you really think all the data mining operations being funded to fight ‘terrorism’ are used to catch terrorists? No, they’re used to identify people who might resist the dictatorship being set up, and eliminate them. They are eliminated covertly, through networks of informants (just like East Germany) including police informants and neighborhood watches. It is exactly the same tactics, only with more advanced technology.

  11. eric anderson

    Is there a smoking gun on climate change science?

    One of the commenters here says that climate modelling is “very complex” and only qualified people are allowed to discuss it. OK, how about a lead author on the 2007 IPCC report: “he fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

    The models don’t work. Period. It’s not that complex. Moedels predict warming. Earth does not warm. It’s a travesty. Back to the drawing board. Oh, and this time, let’s not chuck the raw data, and let’s have all the algorithms out in the open where they can be reality-checked by “real” scientists.

    1. snarkman

      Serious climate science IS peer reviewed, but the people who like picking isolated factoids they consider significant always omit that problem. Kinda runs against the line they are promoting.

      And climate models predicted a period of moderation in temperature increases, even some falling temps, for the next five years or so (my dim recollection is this was when the IPCC reports came out) and then a clear trend of temperature increases.

      1. eric anderson

        “And climate models predicted a period of moderation in temperature increases, even some falling temps, for the next five years or so (my dim recollection is this was when the IPCC reports came out) and then a clear trend of temperature increases.”

        If this is true, I would appreciate it if you point us all to it. Also, if this is true, why did the lead author of IPCC say that we can’t account for the lack of warming. Methinks you are manufacturing this claim.

        Because you are a climategate denier! Right? :-)

  12. Uncle Billy Cunctator

    Good stuff Jeremy. As all this talk of social justice and injustice flitters through the blogosphere, Noam Chomsky comes up a lot. He was the “Ferrari P. Ward” Chair of language, bla, bla, bla back in the 60’s and 70’s.

    Who the heck was Ferrari P. Ward?

    The Ward family seemed to be worth $8M+ in the 60’s based on old newsclippings, and were considered “society” in Hartford, Conn.

    But who the heck was Ferrari P. Ward?

    1. Elephant swims

      A collector of many things of which stamps was one. Your going down the genealogical rabbit hole to the sons of the revolution fracas, New York or Cincinnati?

      Poor old Benedict did get lambasted for acting as a gentleman should…seek terms and conditions when classically they should have lost…alas others had different agenda’s hay.

  13. psh

    Was just sitting here remembering this big stinkin epiphany we had: the moment when we saw that catastrophic collapse of the Bush kleptocracy was a sure thing, a one-way bet. It was like one of Dostoevsky’s epileptic fits only with Mammon speaking instead of God, because it was suddenly clear that mere low cunning was sufficient to align your economic interests with Bush’s inevitable failure. By contrast, top-ticking the dotcom boom was a big fraught terrifying flier. What got me thinking about bygone days was seeing Obama on the tube, thinking that he could fool rational investors by chiding unnamed bankers, as if nobody would would check for signs of meaningful reform of banking sector structure and conduct. How fcking stupid does he think we are? It was like when Bush set up that Potemkin construction site in New Orleans and even his worshipers caught on that he was full of shit.

    So now we can bet on Obama’s impending debacle and make a ton. If Obama was doing shit for the constitution or the rule of law this would be sort of bittersweet – if no less lucrative – but since the constitution’s evidently gone for good under this spineless weakling, who gives a crap? Might as well cash in. It will be good clean fun watching him hide behind the skirts of the beltway bandits and bankers as popular desperation rises and squashes him flat. If nobody in this administration understands the importance of gelding the bankers, Obama is dead meat. His failure is nothing more than a juicy arbitrage opportunity.

  14. Sean


    Your comments regarding the importance of cooperation in
    human betterment are well taken, but I think that you overlook
    the important distinction between voluntary cooperation and
    compulsory cooperation. Centrally-planned economies rely on
    compulsory cooperation, and free markets are based on
    voluntary cooperation. Libertarians, of course, favor the latter.

    Bruce Levine’s article is also concerned directly with this question,
    albeit via the jargon of psychology rather than political economy.
    Consider this excerpt:

    ‘When human beings feel too terrified and broken to actively protest, they may stage a “passive-aggressive revolution” by simply getting depressed, staying drunk, and not doing anything — this is one reason why the Soviet empire crumbled.’

    Ayn Rand would have been pleased to know that the Soviet system that
    she hated so much was ultimately destroyed, at least in part, because its
    citizens chose to ‘Go Galt’.

  15. Jim

    i on the ball patriot asked “what is the correct procedure to shape alternative worldviews and adopt an attitude of resistance?”

    Here are a few of my thoughts on this important question.
    The beliefs, emotions and customs we hold and exhibit are usually pasionnately held becuase they have been experientialy confirmed in our daily life. We tend to live out our lives under such rules because we do not know how to achieve a significant alteration of the structure of power (cultural, poliical, economic, physical and spiritiual) in which we are caught.

    Intellectuals, such as most of the commentators on this blog, tend to assume that thought itself is the energizing component of political activity. The acceptance of this assumption explains why so many commentators in the blogosphere perceive no particular need to uncover the evidential bridge from ideas to action. The act of writing down an analysis on a blog becomes, without further activity, the supposed cause of any subsequent political movement.

    The acceptance of such an assumption, in the atmosphere of crisis over the past two years, can lead to feelings of frustration and disappointment with one’s fellow citizens when no such political mobilization immediately occurs.

    It may be that the transforming ingrediants shaping politcal and social consciousness consist of not only intelligence but intelligence impregnated with social experience and this social expiernce is acquired through the act of doing.

    Mere exhortation may pass over a number of the components crucial to the creation of organizaed politcal activity.
    Here is where the history of past successful political/social movements becomes important.

    I have personally been fascinante with the creation of the Polish labor movement Solidarity in the later 1970s and early 1980s and how it was able to successfully organize resistance in a communist state. One fact that immediately jumps out is that such a political movement did not happen overnight. There were at least 30 years of the social experience of failed attempts at political mobilization by politcal activists in Poland (i.e marching on Communist party headquarters and being murdered in the streets) before they were successful. But these years of failure created a depository of real life experiences in protest which were ultimately invaluable in succesfully taking on the Polish State.

    A political task with an intellectual bent which might be useful at some future point would be a detailed description of the dynamics of such social movements. In the process of doing such an empirical analysis we will probably discover that most of the categories of analysis developed thus far are too vague or too rigid.

    It may just be the case that most “apathetic” or “fearful” people can only be persuaded to challenge sanctioned authority when they can see that, as a result of an organizing effort, inherited power relations are changing or are likely to change. It may be the psychological impact of the organizaing activity itself on inherited patterns of cultural intimidation that pushes people through the barrier of fear and into public life.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      Jim, with all due respect, I have more of the “experiential confirmation of the depository of real life experiences in protest” than I sometimes like to admit. I have been physically banned, forbidden, and restrained from use of the public commons many, many, times, and, I have had my protest materials banned, confiscated, and impounded by thug Gestapo sell out cops, also many, many, times (even taken from private property and trashed into a dumpster), and I have also spent a lot of wasted time as a plaintiff in the scam ‘rule of law’, energy dissipating federal court system.

      In all of that time I learned that the scamerican public has been; conned, duped, hoodwinked, made fools of and are chumps as a result. Again I say they are not “stupid” or “idiots” but instead are victims of a very slick, now, womb to tomb, corporate propaganda machine that has made them fearful chumps with a warped sense of entitlement.

      Sooo … I suggest you get your own “emotional tone” tuned up by taking your own flowery advice and get your ass out in the streets and protest the big illusion of scamerican freedom … make a big poster that says …

      Crooked City!
      Crooked Cops!
      Don’t buy in
      Greedy Shops!

      … and walk up and down in front of the businesses on main street with it on a stick that will elevate it above the crowds. Because, Jim, every city in scamerica is a product of scamerican corruption and their cops are all the same. Maybe then we can talk about your “alternative world views and attitude of resistance”.

      And if you do not want to do that then leave me the fuck alone. Go beat up on Warren Buffet.

      No Balls! No Perception! No Freedom!

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  16. Bob Goodwin

    Re scepticism’s limit.

    Somehow science got turned on its head. Where does the responsibility for proof lie? Must we prove that god does not exist?

    Global warming has its biggest problem in the fact that that the adherents and skeptics can easily be determined by their politics, not their facts.

    And it is these two facts that make me a skeptic.

    1. Skippy


      Anecdotal as it maybe…in my travels I have seen the degradation of this small world and it is a massive problem that dwarfs all others. Warming is a frame to which forces wish to define a larger battle and I for one think is garbage input to the larger debate.

          1. eric anderson

            Skippy, even though I am a AGW skeptic, you are making one of the most important points that can be made here. Hansen of NASA says that cap and trade is awful, and favors a carbon tax which is rebated back to citizens. That last point is very important. It is not a scheme for profit. It is simply a way to discourage fossil fuel use. I don’t agree with it, but at least it would be less harmful, and it wouldn’t benefit Gore and Blood and Goldman Sachs, thus disarming the cynical objections to it.

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