Links 5/26/11

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Twitter chief hints he may have to divulge users’ names Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Fukushima Station Considered as Site for Nuclear Graveyard Bloomberg

How gas drilling contaminates your food Salon (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Flogging Could Answer U.S. Prison Problems (Seriously) Bloomberg (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). Next thing you know, the rack will be back. They seem to have ignored the research (mentioned here!) that psychopaths are remarkably unaffected by pain.

US to store passenger data for 15 years Guardian (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Exclusive: Battered Libya sues for peace Independent (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

The geography of hate: How anti-Semitism in interwar Germany was influenced by the medieval mass murder of Jews VoxEU

Anne Sinclair’s millions keeping accused rapist husband Dominique Strauss-Kahn out of jail Daily News (hat tip reader Bruno)

Brics must put up a fight for IMF top job Eswar Prasad, Financial Times

Voters would punish Obama over benefits changes Politico. How many polls have shown voters to be overwhelmingly against cuts to Medicare and Social Security? Even Newt Gingrich tried retreating from this position before the Republican loyalty police beat him back in line. It takes an election in upstate New York for the Dems to recognize the obvious? Trust me, Politico’s suddenly taking notice was not unrelated to Democrat Kathy Hochul winning in a solidly Republican district despite being outspent 2:1.

House GOPer Blasted for Calling Elizabeth Warren a Liar Mother Jones (hat tip Francois T)

The War on Inflation Tim Duy

Alan Simpson Still Confused About Social Security Numbers Huffington Post

Commentary: Bad decisions on the Ten Commandments McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Third Depression Watch Paul Krugman

California and Illinois Expand Foreclosure Probes Wall Street Journal. My sources doubt the California AG’s effort is serious.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. attempter

    Re the Ten Commandments:

    What’s truly disgusting is that nobody cares less about actually living up to the Ten Commandments (not to mention the teachings of Jesus) than the Taliban types who fetishize their display. It’s the same stupid hypocrisy as with flags or Obama speeches.

    That’s yet another thing conservatives and liberals have in common – both pretend to believe that empty words and displays are real actions.

  2. ninja

    It’s outrageous anyone has to spend millions of dollars to get bail. It costs nothing like 200,000 per month to put on a GPS tracking bracelet. How can those costs be justified? The purpose can only be to bleed the man (or his wife) dry, and destroy him before any trial starts.

    “Anne Sinclair’s millions keeping accused rapist husband Dominique Strauss-Kahn out of jail”

    An “accused rapist” is a rapist who has been accused. But he has not been proven to be a rapists, so the headline is misleading and inflammatory.

    Anyone aware of the cases against Elliot Spitzer or Julian Assange should have at least preliminary doubts about this case.

    1. Jack of no Trades

      Elliot Spitzer or Julian Assange should have at least preliminary doubts

      Did local rulers put DSK onto suicide list? Allow him to post bail? Called up Jack Kevorkian to pick him up at precinct?

    2. Richard Kline

      Should you elect to let facts influence your opinion, ninja: The man is a demonstrated flight risk (he fled the site of the incident, and was arrested at the airport trying to get on a plane out of the country). The probability of getting him extradited from France to face trial in the US should be considered rather low. Hence the high bail conditions. He is accused, not convicted, yes. There are many folks accused who never make bail and wait in prison until their trials. They could use some of your sympathy too, I’m sure, as since this man has made bail and needn’t share their company he doesn’t have that complaint. Having a wealthy wife _does_ allow one to buy their way out of a compromising position, as DSK has serially demonstrated for decades.

      1. Graveltongue

        I’m curious, Richard. You say he ‘fled the scene’. Did he check out early? I know he allegedly left his mobile in his room, as I have often done, (not his room of course, he never called me back after the first time, he couldn’t because I had his phone) but did he leave in a panic as you are implying? Rapidly packed suit case with clothes stuffed and flapping, his hair all akimbo and sweated brow? Was he catching a scheduled flight or was he throwing cash and his Rolex at the check –in staff screaming for ‘ze first plane outa Dodge’?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I always thought that interesting.

          He either

          1) is a amnesiac

          2) is innocent

          3) is guilty but thought he was entitled to certain privileges as a feudal lord.

    3. me

      The bail isn’t for the cost. It is to dissuade him from trying to leave the courts jurisdictional reach.

  3. RW

    Please try & avoid links to WSJ. Only having access to a small portion of the article always pisses me off.

    1. Mike M

      There is a well known and very easy way to get around that and read those articles for free. Ask around, I will be polite to this site’s host and not tell you here.

      hint: Google is your friend.

  4. RBM411

    We’ve let the Government goons molest us at will without probable cause, why not allow them to spank us as well.

    As to the crowded prisons. Stop the insane war on drugs and that issue will be resolved.

    1. aletheia33

      RE: rape versus flat tire:

      i’d like to share here the comment i posted on mother jones regarding this piece:

      the diagram leaves out the actual experience of the event of rape. the experience of “calling AAA” OR “changing a flat tire” versus undergoing an experience of torture lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours or even longer, depending on the situation.
      the level of humiliation combined with physical violation of rape is indescribably horrific. the diagram is well meaning, but does not truly do justice to the comparison. nice try, but i’m afraid this diagram trivializes the issue of rape, unless some effort is made to somehow show the different orders of magnitude–i.e. there is simply NO COMPARISON.
      there’s a point at which even making a comparison between, say, surviving an episode of ethnic cleansing with having a bad day, has to be recognized as untenable in any sense. the diagram to my mind goes too far toward meeting halfway the mindset of the likes of degraaf, and of all uses of “cost-benefit” thinking in relation to human feelings and experiences of suffering.
      the quantification of any human suffering diminishes human dignity in highly significant, dangerous ways, yet keeps spreading and expanding in government and is widely accepted by most people.
      this basic principle–the quantification of suffering–behind such comparisons as the ones made by both degraaf and kroll here should be questioned, not perpetuated.

    2. Francois T

      Have a look at what the insane war on drugs has done to the family in AZ. An innocent man, ex-marine, Iraq war veteran killed with 60 bullets and left bleeding to die by incompetent, power-hungry, gonzo shitheads of an obviously very poorly trained SWAT team

      This case is so goddamned outrageous; I just hope his comrades from his old unit will “pay a visit” to the po-lice department

      1. Rex

        “This case is so goddamned outrageous”

        Outragious or a preview of things to come.

        Contrary to the way Glenn Beck liked to frame his stories, the reality of things like this looks a lot more like pre-WWII Germany than what Foxists like to associate when they call up the specter of Nazi-ism.

  5. Richard Kline

    The Libyan gambit includes little new, and the repeated duplicity of the regime during the course of the insurrection lends no confidence whatsoever to any offer its members might extend. To the extent to which it indicates anything it’s evidence of the declining strategic position of the regime. It’s rather remarkable that the situation continues to be described as a ‘stalemate.’ It’s not. Every attempt by the regime to advance in the Nasouf Mountains and at Misurata to advance has been repulsed. The morale of regime forces on the front lines is demonstrably terrible both from their performance and from reports of captives. Every vehicle and facility of the regime that is destroyed is one that cannot be replaced; the attrit is very real. Their is open rioting even in the portion of the country the regime controls from shortages which will only get worse, and their are reports of sustained guerrilla activity in the western area controlled by the regime as well. The most significant change, which I haven’t seen well-confirmed so I wouldn’t want to make to much of it yet, is that the second largest tribe in the country, located south of Misurate and between Tripoli and Sirt, have made their territory a no-go zone for regime convoys; that would be a devastating strategic blow to the Gadhafiya if true.

    The proposed terms of this deal are ridiculous, amounting to full amnesty for all regime figures and much else. None of the insurgents are going to agree to that. In essence, the proposal, most likely just a bid to buy time to re-position assets, amounts to the regime asking NATO to throw them a lifeline in a contest they are steadily losing. Not losing because they are being overwhelmed—yet—but losing because their ability to sustain their position is ebbing by the week. And no, when this revolution is over, the insurgents will NOT have to ‘continue to deal’ with figures of the inner regime of the Gadhafiya.

    And while I don’t like the shift to armed struggle in Yemen, it’s patent that the regime will go there only when it is shot out of its throne. I hope the cost is less and the struggle quicker than that in Libya, which is likely because in Libya the insurgency started literally from nothing whereas in Yemen there are substantial armed components already committed to excising the regime. A nonviolent revolution in Yemen would have been better, but that was not the choice the regime made.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      I hardly see why this is a gambit. It seems the regime has been willing to negotiate since the beginning. Maybe it is indeed an indication that the regime is in trouble–but it doesn’t mean it isn’t serious or that lives won’t be saved if there is peace.

      If any motives are suspect it is most likely Western motives. This war started out as a mission to protect civilians and now you want nothing short of a a complete regime change dictated by the West and are willing to wage complete and total war on behalf of one side in a civil war.

      If there is any gambit or trickery going on here it is coming from the U.S. and France and the U.K. They want Libya’s oil. Period. So they will bomb and kill while crying crocodile tears for civilians and justice.

      So no, I don’t buy your propaganda that this is somehow a fake entreaty to peace. That’s what bloodthirsty killers always say–they always have an excuse for total war. You simply taste victory (the violent deaths of tens of thousands of people) so you don’t want peace until you’ve killed your way to victory. You want complete victory. You want the regime put on trial and put to death and Western puppets controlling Libya’s oil and people.

      But, of course, you leave out one major consideration in your analysis of whether Libya’s entreaties should be taken seriously, which also happens to be the original justification to the war: the civilians. What about the civilians in these areas during your march to complete victory? What about the regime members who have no choice? Do their lives come into play at all in your calculus? Or do you simply count the “attrition” of people and trucks as a good thing because that means the West is closer to controlling Libya?

      No, it’s clear the West cares very little about the civilians and democracy. If they did they would not have supported the comparably violent regimes of Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia while pretending to oppose civilian deaths in Libya.

      America doesn’t want justice–to hold war criminals accountable–it wants Libya’s oil and will gladly kill as many people as it can until it gets what it wants.

  6. Jim A.

    Re: flogging. Of course in Delaware, flogging was a legal punishment as recently a 1972.

  7. Steve Roberts

    Per Krugman: We have long term structural problems that will take years to unravel yet all of his solutions are to provide a quick and immediate offset. Instead of his political solutions aimed at hiding the reality until after the next election, how does he propose an actual fix? Calling for $12 trillion to be produced and pushed into the economy isn’t an actual solution when he recognizes nobody will actually do it. That’s a political “not my fault” solution.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Nobody in power cares!’ laments Kurgman.

      Actually somebody cares a lot: Ben Bernanke. He cares so much that he bought $600 billion worth of Treasuries, with reserves that didn’t exist before.

      But Ben refuses to recognize the system’s essential Ponzi characteristics. A successful Ponzi scheme requires stable, and preferably accelerating, credit growth. Any deceleration in the growth rate produces a palpable wilting.

      This is why QE1 through QEn [n = some large number] are such a bad idea. The economy gets a brisk crack-pipe rush while Ben’s in, but it promptly goes into DTs when the secret sauce runs out.

      As I asserted in 2008 when Ben first started supersizing the Fed’s balance sheet, the added assets will NEVER be withdrawn (as the Fed initially asserted). Any attempt to withdraw them will produce an instant collapse. This is your ‘monetary sovereignty’ on crack and laughing gas.

      1. Cynthia

        Paul Krugman and other Keynesian economists are right to argue that using monetary policy to depreciate the dollar has the effect of boosting exports. But they are wrong to assume that boosting exports will always boost domestic employment. This is only true if our multinational corporations were penalized for shipping jobs overseas and if we were still producing more than we consume, as was the case throughout most of the Industrial Revolution. So until we restore our producer economy and get back to treating our workers as assets rather than as liabilities, no amount of depreciation of the dollar by the Fed will get our employment numbers back to pre-recession levels!

        1. alex

          Cynthia: “Paul Krugman and other Keynesian economists are right to argue that using monetary policy to depreciate the dollar has the effect of boosting exports. But they are wrong to assume that boosting exports will always boost domestic employment. This is only true if our multinational corporations were penalized for shipping jobs overseas …”

          I don’t agree. “American” multinational XYZCorp. shipping more product from China to Europe doesn’t count as a US export, and it’s not much affected by the USD. Increased exports from the US really does help US employment.

          The problem is that while a lower USD is desirable for a variety of reason, having the Fed print endless streams of monopoly money is not a good way to get it. There are better and more direct approaches to lowering the exchange rate of the USD.

          1. Cynthia

            One of the main reasons why the Fed has been making moves to depreciate the dollar is to stimulate exports, with the goal in mind to stimulate domestic employment. But as I have said before, this won’t work because we no longer have a viable manufacturing base in place to produce the necessary export products to stimulate domestic employment.

          2. alex

            “One of the main reasons why the Fed has been making moves to depreciate the dollar is to stimulate exports, with the goal in mind to stimulate domestic employment.”

            The Fed cares about unemployment? Who knew?

            But even if the Fed has been running the presses to depreciate the dollar, it doesn’t change the fact that it is a very undesirable way to achieve a desirable end.

            Maybe Benny should give Timmy a call, since exchange rates and so forth are the purview of Treasury. Of course the Fed has found all kinds of amazing new rules for itself lately.

            “this won’t work because we no longer have a viable manufacturing base in place to produce the necessary export products to stimulate domestic employment”

            While our manufacturing base has been gutted, there are still enough remnants left to employ a few folks (e.g. Caterpillar has moved some manufacturing back to the US). Besides, we’ll never rebuild our manufacturing until the dollar becomes competitive.

        2. Philip Pilkington

          “But they are wrong to assume that boosting exports will always boost domestic employment.”

          That, as they say, don’t make a lick of sense. If US exports are boosted they have to be produced in the US — hence: more jobs. If they are created in China, they’re not US exports; they’re Chinese exports.

          A devalued dollar would encourage investment in the US — which would boost US exports. As stated above, if US exports go up, jobs must also increase.

          To argue against this is like arguing against gravity.

          1. Cynthia

            My key word is ALWAYS, Philip. You are right about depreciating the dollar in order to boost exports will OFTENTIMES boost domestic employment. But since our manufacturing base has been hollowed out to the point where it can hardly produce anything to export to the world, other than war and weapons, then no amount of depreciating of the dollar will help boost exports, thus doing nothing to boost domestic employment.

          2. alex

            “ALWAYS … OFTENTIMES”

            What does always vs. often mean? That it might work at other times but not now? Right now I’m concerned about right now.

            Besides, elsewhere you’ve flat out said it won’t work.

      2. Cynthia

        When Dope Pusher Ben stops injecting high-grade monetary heroin into the veins of Wall Street, hedge funders and other high-stake gamblers will be lying on the floor in the white room with black curtains, seeing silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes and other sorts of strange things:

        But hey, as any dope addict on the street knows, detox, though excruciatingly painful and sometimes deadly, is the first step towards functioning without heroin and other sorts of highly addictive drugs from the Fed.

      3. psychohistorian

        Nice comment, thanks.

        The longer we go before a correction the bigger the adjustment.

    2. Philip Pilkington

      “Calling for $12 trillion to be produced and pushed into the economy isn’t an actual solution when he recognizes nobody will actually do it.”

      That’s one of the most bizarre comments I’ve ever seen on here.

      So, you want Krugman to stick to definitive Realpolitik AND you want him to put forward a solution. I’ve had my gripes with Krugman in the past, but really, you are asking a lot of the man. You might also ask him to perfect Cold Fusion, solve global-warming (without stepping on any toes) and, while he’s at it, he might take a quick look at my car — I’m getting a smell of petrol every time I start the engine.

        1. Philip Pilkington

          Brilliant… now please fix the global economy WHILE keeping within the bounds of Realpolitik…

          1. Toby

            The problem, Philip, is that your demand, which is essentially and by definition a mainstream demand, is impossible to fulfill. Growth cannot go on forever, usury requires growth, hence the current system/paradigm does not contain the solution. It is ideological to insist solutions must conform to an evidently broken paradigm, not pragmatic.

            Jared Diamond asserts civilizational collapse happens for many reasons, one of which is very pertinent to the current situation; namely, the refusal to accept that the strengths which carried a culture far, become, at some point, weaknesses. That’s where we are at. ‘The West’ has enormous amounts of cultural energy and wealth invested in the current set up. Nevertheless the current set up is past its sell by date, our strengths (linear growth, aggression, exploitation, competition) have become weaknesses.

            Adaptation is called for, not inflexible and repetitive attempts to whip the dead horse back to life. Such is worse than a waste of precious energy, it is actually destroying humanity’s chances of recovering from the ecological destruction we continue to wreak by ignoring alternatives, and refusing to face reality in an unprejudiced and impartial manner.

  8. doom

    Priceless comments on that Guardian article. The American police state is a laughingstock.

  9. Johnson

    I wonder if the areas that had medieval mass murder of Jews also went after witches too? Interesting to see if there is a correlation. The burnings and trials occurred about a century or so later.

  10. Equivocation

    Roman law did not contemplate prolonged imprisionment. You either could be brought back into society after relatively short confinement (and mild physcial punishment) or you were human detritus and were put to death.

    Jail is not about punishment. It is about rehabilitating an individual. If he cannot be rehabilitated there is no point in keeping him. It is not economically sensible or humane to keep an individual in jail for 50 years. Much less to keep him in jail for 20 years so that when released he cannot find a job.

    Plain simple fact. The USA has 1% of its population in jail with a cost of $40k per year. That is not sustainable.

    Too many people are going to jail for minor crimes just to “appear” tough on crime. At the same time the death penalty should be strongly ramped up violent individuals.

    1. jura

      The death penalty is very good in theory for some very violent crimes if the court system had 100% accuracy. It is not a proportionate punishment for many crimes. And, in the real world the court system cannot be proven to be more than 50% accurate, which means that most people killed by the state will either be innocent or be guilty of lesser crimes. This has been shown of people currently on death row for which DNA evidence exists and makes a difference.

      In addition, the Romans had different sets of laws and punishments for slaves, citizens, etc. Modern Americans apply the law differently to different groups. In this case, it would likely work to exterminate the black race and adherents of Islam, then all other races and creeds. After racial and religious purity was achieved, the dominant white Christian sect would likely exterminate the members of other sects if history provides a guide.

  11. Jim Haygood

    The article titled ‘Alan Simpson still confused’ essentially dismisses any demographic issue, claiming that the ratio of three workers per beneficiary has been stable since 1975.

    To read some serious economic analysis (as opposed to partisan windbaggery), consult the BIS paper on the future of public debt:

    Its authors conclude:

    ‘The fact that structural deficits have a
    tendency to linger in industrial countries, together with large long-term age-related liabilities,
    makes the current policy in a number of countries unsustainable going forward.’

    1. Philip Pilkington

      That paper is an hysterical farce and I’m surprised the BIS allowed it to run under their name.

    2. Philip Pilkington

      This part was quite good — but it quickly went downhill:

      “Several advanced economies have experienced higher levels of public debt than we see today. In the aftermath of World War II, for example, government debts in excess of 100% of GDP were common. [2] And none of these led to default. [3] In more recent times, Japan has been living with a public debt ratio of over 150% without any adverse effect on its cost. So it is possible that investors will continue to put strong faith in industrial countries’ ability to repay, and that worries about excessive public debts are exaggerated. [4] Indeed, with only a few exceptions, during the crisis, nominal government bond yields have fallen and remained low. So far, at least, investors have continued to view government bonds as relatively safe.”

      So, basically all the historical/empirical evidence contradicts the authors’ central claim. How do they circumvent this? Easy — they just ignore it. They claim that they have a ‘less benign’ view of the world.

      Okay, that’s nice. So why do they have a ‘less benign’ view?
      Well, because they think bondholders are ‘notoriously short-sighted’. Here’s the problem with that argument. The evidence they JUST STATED contradicts it. So they’re basically just giving their opinion — coloured as it is by their ‘less benign’ view of the world. All historical and empirical evidence seems to show that bondholders are not ‘notoriously short-sighted’, but they claim that they in fact are.


  12. SalmonRising

    Where did today’s Antidote du Jour originate and what is that chain doing around the female dog providing the interspecies nursing???

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Even to this vegetable-rights activist (the only one I am aware of), that’s a sinister looking chain there.

  13. Susan Truxes

    Re the Bloomberg article Fukushima Station Considered as Sight for Nuclear Graveyard: Are they considering spent fuel storage there as well? What is their mitigation plan for the offshore deep pacific faultlines and the predictable 30-foot sunamis? Maybe just use these forces to efficiently and periodically sweep out the facility?

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Voters against cuts in Medicare and Social Security….

    It’s interesting voters can say yes or no, but are never asked to write essays.

    So, they are against this or that.

    But what do they actually ‘say’ they want? We need more essays.

    When we treat voters with disrespect, by giving simplifed yes-no or multiple choice exams, instead of essay questions, we get no respect back.

    It’s also not a healthy relationship when only the man poses questions and the woman only answers yes or no. She should at least speak 50% of the time.

    1. asphodel

      I hereby appoint MyLessThanPrimeBeef to read all 300 million 5 pages essays. That is only 1.5 billion pages MLTPB! Surely you can read it in a week.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I know I am always critical of science but perhaps intelligent computers can lend a hand.

  15. MikeJ

    Personally, if I was convicted of a non-capital offense, I’d prefer to be flogged than spend any time in prison.

    You shouldn’t discount how “cruel” extended confinement is. It’s simply more socially acceptable than corporal punishment. If the crime we’re trying to punish doesn’t involve behavior that would make the offender be considered a menace to society, why not flog them and be done with it? At the very least, it’s much cheaper than imprisoning them.

    1. flogger

      Come to Singapore. They will be happy to flog you and cane you for all floggable and canable offenses.

      1. MikeJ

        If I commit a crime in Singapore, then I should certainly expect to be caned. What’s the problem?

        1. flogger

          …or forget to flush after using a public restroom…
          …or you reach into your pocket and a tiny bit of litter falls out without your knowing about it….

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Good or bad, that’s something you don’t have to be stressed out about in a Neanderthal society.

          2. Larry Headlund

            I don’t believe that littering or poor bathroom etiquette are flogging offences. Neither is the importation of chewing gum.

            I happened to be on a short working stint in Singapore right around the time that the American teenager got caned for vandalism. The locals told me a few things then:

            One, caning for vandalism was usually only applied for political acts such as painting slogans on walls. The American case was exceptional.

            Two, some of the locals were of the opinion that this exceptional canning was meant as a message to Singapore parents: you were being to lax with disciplining your children; shape up or we will do more canings.

          3. flogger

            Larry, that is all true, and I was partially kidding.
            Singapore is much fairer and less draconian than the U.S. except when it comes to drug crime (capital offense, can occur when drugs are planted in your home by malicious 3rd parties), and criticizing the government (merciless torture sometimes ending in death)

    2. PQS

      It would seem to me that the cheapest option is that we ought to stop trying to punish crimes that aren’t a menace to society….

      OTOH, if we’re going to openly and admittedly torture people in the GWOT, perhaps flogging is just the next step along that path.

      1. MikeJ

        If some punk kid steals my car, takes it on a joyride, and wrecks it into a wall, insurance can make me whole again. But something has to account for my having to put up with the BS in the first place. That’s where the retributive aspects of the criminal justice system come in.

        Presumably, hypothetical punk kid isn’t going to steal any more cars if he gets caught, but he still needs to be punished. The only option now is to lock him up for awhile. As the crime victim (and a taxpayer), I’d be satisfied if he was flogged and sent on his way.

        1. flogger

          You are the exception MikeJ expressing supreme mercy. Most Americans would demand he be disembowled after being drawn and quartered in the public square.

  16. alex

    re: US to store passenger data for 15 years

    More wet dreams of KGB wannabees coming true. This has _nothing_ to do with the sort of old-fashioned police work needed for real security. Here’s a clue: the last time some unfriendlies flew airliners into buildings, even the federal government found out in less than 15 years.

    1. flogger

      But don´t you think it´s very important for the government to know all about your health records and sexual history and preferences before you fly?

      1. alex

        Of course, but those things can change so quickly that I hate to think of my Uncle Sam relying on 15 year old data.

  17. flogger

    This is why they need total information awareness, to spy on you 24/7, and know all personal details including every word, action and thought that you have. I like to call it the panopticon.

  18. PQS

    Re: Flogging:

    Given the high proportion of minorities in our prison population, I don’t want any part of the horror that will involve (probably white male) members of the penal system whipping the backs of minority convicts in exchange for jailtime. (Brubaker? Cool Hand Luke, anyone?)

    The book review says the author is a former cop who is disgusted by the penal system. Apparently so much so that he’s lost his humanity and the ability to think about the consequences of giving yet more power to the system he claims is so bad.

    1. MikeJ

      Slaves were also confined to the master’s plantation, against their will. Does this mean we should stop imprisoning people?

      1. PQS

        Yes, flogger, all these things are done in the penal system. But not legally, and I challenge you to provide proof that they are done “with the blessing of the court system.”

        MikeJ, you and flogger appear to argue that the system is already so bad we should just go for the flogging. Is that it?

        I refuse to surrender my humanity, at least not before we’ve tried decriminalizing drug possession as one example.

        1. flogger

          Unfortunately there is a long series of Supreme Court decisions stretching back decades requiring courts to look the other way when human rights abuses occur, and basically gutting the notion of cruel and unusual punishment. It is easily googled. Cruel punishment has become so commonplace that it is now quite usual.

    2. flogger

      In the U.S. penal system, white prison guards routinely beat, maim, cripple and torture black (and other) inmates with the blessing of the court system. In addition, they look the other way when prisoners do this to each other. Every year this winds up in various human rights reports.

      1. flogger

        I forgot to add that the guard rape the inmates as well, sometimes with splintering pieces of wood and the like.

      2. flogger

        I forgot to add that the guards rape the inmates as well, sometimes with splintering pieces of wood and the like.

    3. Rex


      I know it has nothing to do with the actual Pro-Flogging discussion, but it reminded me of words from the late Hunter S. Thompson in the story “The Pro-Flogging View”. Few writings have caused me to laugh out loud, but this line, especially in the original context, which I can’t find a link to, did.

      “Have you ever put a brick through a big plate-glass window, Ralph? It makes a wonderful goddamn noise, and the people inside run around like rats in a firestorm. It’s fun, Ralph, and a bargain at any price.”

  19. Hugh

    The only limitations on the government holding data is the media in which it is held. If they could hold it forever, they would. There have been several intelligence programs that have been repeatedly killed and the data supposedly destroyed only for it later to be found that the program didn’t actually die, or that if it did, its data was transferred to a successor program. The best we can hope for is that the storage media, and the machines and software to access it degrade over time and are not updated. 15 years actually sounds about right for that.

    Libya is a great case of native kleptocrats versus neo-colonial kleptocrats.

    If you look, there is nothing new from Krugman. His “Third Depression” looks a lot like Japanification, something that has been discussed for an age.

    Re pogroms and not to pre-empt DownSouth but Hannah Arendt does a much better job of explaining the history of anti-semitism in Europe in the first part of her Origins of Totalitarianism, –even if I think she does tend to draw her classes and categories a little too rigidly.

    Alan Simpson isn’t confused. He’s just a hardcore ideologue and kleptocrat whose mission is to gut entitlements.

    1. Crixus

      That is because Simpson wants old, poor people to die. Just like the “Austrian business cycle theory” theorists want American laborers to die younger or even outright die young as they feel it will ease overpopulation, purify the ‘weak’ and help spur innovation to overcome the resource problem.

      Though, to me, it sounds like the recipe for the next Hitler. Especially when it bleeds into the once mighty white american middle class.

  20. Flogster

    Let convicts request flogging instead of jail. If by choice, then it is less cruel than prison, more likely to change behavior, and relieves overcrowding.

    1. F. Beard

      Let convicts request flogging instead of jail. Flogster

      Agreed. So far, in my reading of the Old Testament the only punishments I see are an “eye for an eye”, etc., execution and 40 lashes. I see no imprisonment.

      Our penal system is a hypocritical abomination.

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