Links 8/2/12

Thousands Await Testing for Hepatitis New York Times

Oregon man sentenced to jail for collecting rain water Digital Journal (John L)

Health Coverage “a New Part of the Conversation” After Tragedy Medscape (Aquifer)

Doctors Prescribe Non-GMO Diets; People and Animals Thrive FoodFreedom (furzy mouse)

Artificial butter flavoring ingredient linked to key Alzheimer’s disease process Science Daily (Chuck L)

Jailhouse phone calls reveal when domestic abusers most likely to attack Science Daily (Chuck L)

NBC shows perfect logic but a prime time farce John Gapper, Financial Times

Global PMI shows stalling growth MacroBusiness

Europe’s very ugly PMIs MacroBusiness. Notice a theme here?

Pressure on Spain to bow to bail-out Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Shame on All of Us Philip Giraldi, Antiwar (1 SK)

Former U.S. officials call for Bachmann to be replaced on Intelligence Committee Daily Kos

How the Republicans are using voter ID laws to steal the Presidency Werewolf (Flying Kiwi)

The Gray Lady’s Voter Suppression Quandry Scott Horton, Harpers (Chuck L)

Beyond Debt/Deficit Politics: The $60 Trillion Plan for Ending Federal Borrowing and Paying Off the National Debt Joe Firestone, Corrente

When Did The Economist Become Comically Stupid? James Kwak (Ed Harrison)

“They Were Suspending My Credit Line” Marcy Wheeler (Chuck L)

Green Party nominee arrested in Philly bank sit-in Boston Globe

Manufactured Postal Service Challenges Have Plenty of Answers Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

US factory activity stagnates Financial Times

Why I don’t believe housing has put in a secular bottom Ed Harrison

Why Ed DeMarco Won’t Be Fired Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

Is lending by state banks more stable over the business cycle? VoxEU. I think bank efficiency is overdone (for system designers, stability is a first order design consideration, efficiency is second order, so prioritizing efficiency is a bad idea, as our recent debacle attests). And I wonder whether the causality might run counter to the author’s tacit assumption in the “countries with a lot of state banking have lower growth rates” observation.

Flood of Errant Trades Is a Black Eye for Wall Street New York Times (furzy mouse)

The Ruling Elite and the Perversion of Scholarship Chris Hedges, Truthout

* * *

D – 35 and counting*

“If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. “ — James Madison, Federalist #10

Today, in short form, I’d like to call out the Campaign Countdown theme of “Voting.” At least since Florida 2000, when Justice Scalia’s “good for one time only” decision in Bush v. Gore halted the completion of a hand recount in a closely contested election before the final tally was known, we’ve known that there is something terribly wrong with the franchise. If there were any doubts, then OH 2004 and the D TX 2008 primary should have removed them. Democracy’s “gold standard” (sorry for the dead metaphor, with which, were it live, I would not agree) for voting is hand-marked paper ballots, publicly tabulated. Yet in many jurisdictions, voting takes place on privately owned e-voting machines, which are easy to game by whichever fraudsters control them (see other Campaign Countdown themes: Privatization; Corruption). Two e-voting swing states, CO and VA, are rated “needs improvement” in a report issued by Common Cause, Verified Voting, and Rutgers. (Note that even some e-voting infects an entire state’s voting total, rather like a CDO tranche fail; see the WA 2004 gubernatorial election). If your vote is electronic, it doesn’t meet Democracy’s gold standard. Given the givens, is it still worth voting?

Well, your vote is your own. Personally, I don’t plan to vote for evil, but you certainly may! However, I think a useful framework for such decisions is Albert Hirschman’s “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty” (PDF); a fine analysis by Rajiv Sethi. From page 4:

The argument to be presented starts with the firm producing saleable outputs for customers; but it will be found to be largely — and at times, principally — applicable to organizations (such as voluntary associations, trade unions, or political parties) that provide services to their members without direct monetary counterpart. The performance of a firm or organization is assumed to be subject to deterioration for unspecified random causes which are neither so compelling nor so durable as to prevent a return to previous performance levels [e.g., the New Deal], provided managers direct their energy and attention to that task. The deterioration in performance is reflected most typically and generally, that is, in an absolute or comparative deterioration of the quality of the product or service provided [“hope and change”]. Management then finds out about its failings [2010 elections] via two alternative routes:

(1) Some customers [voters] stop buying the firm’s products or some members [activists] leave the organization: This is the exit option. As a result, revenues drop [modulo corporate contributions], membership declines, and management is compelled to search for ways and means to correct whatever faults have led to exit [or not. See iron law of institutions].

(2) The firm’s customers [voters] or the organization’s members [activists] express their dissatisfaction directly to management or to some other authority to which management is subordinate or through general protest addressed to anyone who cares to listen: this is the voice option. As a result, management once again engages [or not] in a search for the causes and possible cures..

Clearly, one’s personal set point for “loyalty” (some might prefer the label tribalism) counts for a lot in setting the balance between the exit option, and the voice option. I tried the voice option with the Ds from 2003 through July 2008, when Obama flip-flopped on FISA and voted to give the telcos retroactive immunity for Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance, thereby normalizing and ratifying the destruction of the Fourth Amendment, hence, Constitutional government (Yes, I know the “class of” 2008 is late!) Since then, well, I’ve had no place to go, as amply confirmed by the war that Obama’s career “progressive” supporters waged against single payer advocates in 2009.

That’s exit from a party. What about exit, voice, and loyalty and the entire system of representative democracy? Especially given that one’s vote may not, quite literally, count, due to privatization of the franchise through e-voting? That’s a harder call. The strategy of voting for evil (“lesser” or not) hasn’t been working out real well. (I’m pleased to see civil resistance by the top of the Green Party ticket.) But some might argue that the problem with representative democracy the representative part, so that the only solution is exit. So, is the problem representative democracy as such? And where do my loyalties lie then? Worst form of government, except for all the others? Of all that, I’m not so sure.

* 35 days until the Democratic National Convention ends with buckets of Manwiches specially imported from K Street for everybody on the floor of the Bank of America Panther Stadium, Charlotte, NC. Damn, I thought the state with the biggest count in the electoral college after CA with 55 had 35. Except TX has 38. Well, 38 – 3 is 35, so there you are.

* * *

Antidote du jour:

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  1. foppe


    A former Dartmouth fraternity member, Andrew Lohse, who is profiled in an April article in Rolling Stone, was ostracized not only by the students but the university administration for his public exposure of hazing and abuse.
    “I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beer poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks … among other abuses,” he wrote in the magazine. He accused Dartmouth’s 17 fraternities, 11 sororities and three coed houses, to which roughly half of the student body belongs, of perpetuating a culture of “pervasive hazing, substance abuse and sexual assault,” as well as an “intoxicating nihilism” that dominates campus social life.

    Hazing weeds out those with enough self-esteem and independence to stand up to the hierarchy. It ensures conformity and obedience. These groups are, in essence, self-selected. Those who have the fortitude and courage to oppose their own public humiliation and the public humiliation perpetuated with each new cycle of recruits or pledges leave. Those who remain conform. Athletic recruiting parties, like fraternity parties, at schools across the country are plagued by gang rapes and sexual assaults. And these crimes, known by all in the fraternity or on the team, are met, in locker rooms and Greek houses, with the culture of silence, mocking the stated missions of the schools.

    It’s a fascinating world, shall we say, that these people are being taught to live in. Hedges compares this to military, but it seems to me that the reason for the hazings is different there, and that this difference is important. Whereas soldiers primarily seem to haze those who seem different, rather than specifically those who they think won’t obey, or allow themselves to be indoctrinated sufficiently enough; frat hazings seem to have a different purpose…

    1. Mel

      Yeah. It convinces the new people incontrovertibly that there is an authoritarian hierarchy and that they are at the bottom of it. They advance up the hierarchy as the hierarchy deems them worthy, and they’re grateful and loyal in return. The trouble generally is that this loyalty can become their major or only loyalty. You see people in Congress right now ripping the rem publicam to shreds to advance their respective hierarchies and their individual places in the hierarchies.

    2. Harold

      And what do we call the people who inhabit this fascinating world and enjoy its perks? The Aristocrats!

    3. Harold

      The military is all about hazing. But it’s divided into official hazing, called training, and unofficial hazing, which mimics the kind found on college campuses.

  2. René

    “But don’t expect it to happen. Today, war criminals run the State Department and the entire US Government. They are elected to the presidency, the House, and the Senate, and appointed to the federal courts as judges. American soldiers, such as Bradley Manning, who behave as the State Department expects German soldiers to have behaved, are not honored, but are thrown into dungeons and tortured while a court marshall case is concocted against them.”

  3. Peter Pinguid Society

    Re: Oregon Man Sentenced to Jail for Collecting Rain Water

    Excellent news!

    More evidence that the criminal justice system is working exactly as it should.

    Crime is defined as any action by the 99.9 percent that the 0.01 percent disapprove of, whereas no action committed by a member of the 0.01 percent can ever be regarded as a crime, not even Jon Corzine looting $1.2 billion from customer accounts.

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent!

    1. MontanaMaven

      Water laws are very touchy here in the West and around the world. Storing water in ponds may be depriving people downstream of run off water that will keep rivers and streams flowing. Read the comments as several people elaborated on this.

      1. MontanaMaven

        Here’s a link to building a pond in Montana. Most disputes here are about water. Ditch riders are employed for those disputes to look at irrigation ditches to see if ranches are taking their permitted amount of water and not a drop more. Everybody relies on each other. If your neighbor stops irrigating his land, then your land may not get as much run off. If there is too much run off, ditches start to flood. Complicated stuff that I don’t understand. But my husband is in charge of our canal association. He’s so good/fair/man of his word at this that they have never had to hire a ditch rider. The trouble usually comes from newcomers who want their dream fish pond.

    2. BondsOfSteel

      There are two sides to every story. The article is highly biased. One quick internet search, and you can find that the creek he is keeping the water from flowing into is a salmon creek.

      Water and salmon are critcal shared resources in the West.

    3. don

      I inquired with a water rights expert here in southwest Oregon, having sent him this news story. He indicated that the man was “not collecting rainwater because it was on the ground. To use or store any surface water a permit is needed, not a hard question. One can collect rainwater without a permit if the rain does not touch the ground.”

      Once the water hits the ground then it enters the water table, for which water rights applies. Strict water rights provisions are a touchy issue in the West, even in rain drenched (aside from five months of virtually no rain – June through Oct) western Oregon.

    4. Matthew G. Saroff

      Actually, the story is pretty much a lie. See

      He did not collect rain water, he used three dams, two were 10 feet high, and one was 20 feet high, damn tributaries of Crowfoot Creek.

      The ponds created were large enough that he had docks and boats on these ponds, 40 acre-feet, or about 20 olympic swimming pools.

      This guy was not collecting rain water, he was diverting streams, and he had been doing so, and ignoring the law, for over a decade.

      1. Ms G

        So he was creating his own private boating playground at the expense of the livelihood of all people who depended on the shared water, basically. Sounds like a super guy. I wonder what God he purports to worship on weekends.

        1. Ms G

          Too, the massive water this guy diverted to his private use apparently supported his private little trout fishing paradise. “Me, Mine, More, Leave Me Alone” — a fine citizen.

      2. Peter Pinguid Society

        Matthew G. Saroff: “He did not collect rain water, he used three dams, two were 10 feet high, and one was 20 feet high, damn tributaries of Crowfoot Creek….”

        Not bad for a 99 percent schmuck. The kid has potential, and we’ll be keeping an eye on him….

        1. Ms G

          Good catch for Bain Capital. I’m sure they can find a lot of Other People’s Money to Monetize and Synergize and Leverage this man’s watery loot to great advantage. Maybe start charging everyone downstream who needs water (or wants to fish trout or boat around) — sound familiar? Hmm.

    5. Maude

      Collecting rain in rain barrels is (mostly) illegal in Colorado and has been for a long time; It is enshrined in the constitution of the State and stems from a long history of water rights that have been fought over, bought and sold and survive to this day. My city in the past drought revoked their sale of water to another city so they could have it all to themselves. Certain irrigation ditches are watched and measured and if you were to dare to put a boat into their cool depths, you could be charged with stealing. A person who claims to believe in property rights above all else lamented to me how his water bill is exceptionally high. I reminded him that it’s water rights that are responsible for the high price he pays as his town is on the bottom tier of ownership. Hilariously, his eyes glazed over at this as he was really just spouting ‘libertarian’ talking points without really understanding the ‘downstream’ affect of his beloved property rights.

  4. SOP

    Yes, exit v. voice is still a classic, and fortunately, we’re nowhere near exhausting the entire system of representative democracy. You can always go over the state’s head to the world. That gives you institutional support (independent international oversight) and established norms. The norms make the state’s legitimacy and sovereignty contingent on detailed conduct and performance standards (legally defined by human rights and humanitarian law, and synthesized as two equivalent comprehensive norms, development and peace.) Another way of looking at it is E.E. Schattschneider’s concept of expanding the arena of conflict.

    What does it mean in practice? Internationalism from below. Hooking into the NGO network that centers on the human rights bodies (one prerequisite is learning human rights chapter and verse.) The state’s only defense is sealing you inside with DPRK-type insularity (so far that’s working really well.) The frantic insistence on the sanctity of a rigged electoral ceremony, and the ad hominem attacks on voting skeptics, that all comes from seeing no alternative.

    1. Aquifer

      A rigged electoral system is only sanctified by the folks who rig it – the trick is to use the electoral system to choose decent folks before it gets to the point where you can’t and the longer we wait to use the system to do that, the more likely it is that the riggers will have succeeded.

      So, yeah, – if one keeps abstaining, one’s prophecy (irreparably rigged) will come true; it is, indeed, moving in that direction.

      Same argument with global warming – drag your feet long enough and it won’t matter …

      For some folks cutting off their noses to prove themselves right is a fun thing to do – humans are a weird bunch ….

    2. Dr. Sop

      Next on grand rounds, Rain Man here is prone to autistic stimming – head-banging, hand-flapping, rhythmic rocking, vote-casting, you name it – but he’s an atypical case in that he melts down if everybody else doesn’t engage in the same pointless behavior.

      Behavior mod session! I will not vote for you clowns for dogcatcher unless you meet the minimal standards of the civilized world. Don’t know what those are? Then fuck off.

  5. Kyrie Eleison

    Re: Perversion of Scholarship

    Gives whole new meaning to “Bread and Games”.

    Are you not entertained??!

  6. Klassy!

    They need to ban microwave popcorn. That stuff is horrible for workers at the manufacturing plants.

  7. anonymouse

    The Hedges link and the Rolling Stone article linked from that were extremely disturbing. Perhaps more than the Cornell incident.

    I went to a top 10 school for both undergrad and grad school and I can attest that true scholarship happens only at the Masters/PhD level. Most undergrads are ignorant mediocre brats with entitlement issues due to the constant stroking of their egos by parents, equally ignorant peers and University administrators (just go to an Ivy orientation event – you will immediately be told you are the best and the brightest). The ignorance leads to conformism, but that’s not so much a problem as the arrogant self-righteous worldview that these people come to adopt due to entitlement issues. I suspect this pseudo-intellectual climate largely explains why the political elite are so out of touch these days.

    And BTW, binge drinking is not just prevalent on college campuses, go to any large consulting or finance company’s (which is where most Ivy grads go these days) recruiting or training events and you’ll find the same issues – people drinking too much, throwing up, making passes at women, etc.

    1. foppe

      I can attest that true scholarship happens only at the Masters/PhD level

      I’ll admit the SNR is somewhat better there, but I can’t really say I agree with the statement insofar as it is intended to be a rule, sorry. Lots of research happening that’s utterly useless because of how it (say) totally ignores the political dimension of a research question…

    2. MontanaMaven

      Watch the hilarious “Cedar Rapids” about an insurance sales convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Hookers, binge drinking, and stupid talent contests. Ed Helms, John C. Riley, Anne Heche and Sigourney Weaver.

    3. Walter Wit Man

      The promotion of Chris Hedges on liberal blogs is over the top.

      Screw Hedges. He’s hypocritical and his advcse is contradictory–probably intentionally so. He’s messing with people. He’s not sincere.

      Take this anti football screed . . . Hedges himself was a boxer, supposedly, when he was in school. That’s a pretty violent sport, no?

      He beat up two teenager kids because he claims he caught them raping a girl. Hedges also claims to have antagonized his jailors in Iran. Hedges calls for people to stand up to the police and get arrested.

      So Hedges is Mr. Macho tough guy one minute, and then denouncing aggression and calling for peace the next.

      He’s a mindfucker ladies and gentlemen. He’s playing with the whole war vs. peace, white vs. black, good vs. evil, meme.

      1. Harold

        This is a pretty shabby ad hominem criticism of Hedges in general and of his article in particular. I have reservations about Hedges, but on the whole the article was pretty good (although I had to laugh a bit at his inclusion of theology as part of a well-balanced breakfast).

        He was a boxer in college? So what? The article wasn’t saying college sports should be banned. His criticism was about putting what is essentially a professional farm club system into the college system and pretending that this type of athletics has anything to do with higher education. I pity you if you really can’t see what a problem this is for the concept of higher learning in America.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          I actually agree with him (mostly) on the premise about college sports and the Greek system. I don’t like his tone and how he generalizes and blames people who are victims of this system, but whatever.

          I’m more concerned with the promotion of Hedges on liberal blogs. So I’m making a point about him as a person, because he is putting himself out there and promoting himself and I think he’s dangerous. This is a valid ad hominem. In invalid ad hominem would be me saying Hedges is wrong about college sports and fraternities because he’s a douche bag. I’m not saying that. I agree with Hedges on the issue in spite of him being a douche bag.

          I’m saying the promotion of Hedges is the problem. He may make substantive points but he’s serving dangerous masters, imho.

      2. craazyman

        Mr. Hedges is definitely crazy. But he’s good crazy. I kind of like a guy who’ll say “Go fuck yourself” to just about anybody. So few can. So few. I think if I were jailed in a foreign country I’d probably be scared shitless. Maybe not. Maybe something kicks in and you just say “Fuck this” and smile at the wall. He’s way past that point.

        Not sure what Utopia he channels though. It could be an illusion, but it’s a beautiful illusion anyway. If it’s not an illusion, then he’s probably more a messenger of its existence than an inhabitant. I’m not sure who would be an inhabitant, probably nobody you’d want to know. Or if you did know them, you would’t realize they were who they are. Not sure what they’d do all day there. Maybe advanced mathematics and the strumming of harps. It might be a boring place. haha

        1. Walter Wit Man

          I definitely detect a mean streak in Hedges demeanor. He talks all peaceful like and acts like he’s a Garrison Keiller type . . . but then will occasionally flash his fangs.

          Like beating up those two kids instead of calling the police.

          Like challenging jailors in a foreign country.

          Like calling anarchists a “cancer” that must be expelled and calling on protesters to turn other protesters into the police for non-violent misdemeanor property crimes.

          Or like making the silly graduation speech where he was purposely provoking a fight and not doing it in a very thoughtful way.

          Or calling for “humanitarian” war.

          Hedges is not antiwar and for peace. He’s a violence advocate.

          1. craazyman

            I can’t help but recall the words of your namesake:

            Do I contradict myself?
            Very well, then, I contradict myself;
            (I am large—I contain multitudes.)

            -Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

            Don’t we all . . . Perhaps some more violently than others.

  8. Aquifer

    My question for those who argue for giving up on the electoral system – what is your alternative?

      1. Flying Kiwi

        F also WIW the New Zealand system also empowered the indigenous minority (Maori) to the point that its grievances frequently take center-stage politically. Currently Maori claims over water in the rivers is threatening to derail an unpopular Government proposal to sell off a 49% stake in state hydro-generation schemes.

    1. Fifi

      What about sortition for the legislative branch ? A house renewed by deciles and a single 10 years mandate.

      It must be backed, of course, by a duty to perform.

  9. craazyman

    So does anyone want to apologize for dissing shark attacks on humans in that link a few days ago?

    Just 15 miles north of Nauset beach, just a few days ago, just a GREAT WHITE SHARK RIPPING AT A BODY SURFER’S LEGS!!!! That’s all. Nothing to worry about. If you’re a New York web surfer, that is. :) But if you’re a real surfer, it makes you think.

    Yeah. Maybe this is the summer’s black swan and Europe’s off the hook. Most would say these events aren’t related, but it might be a Black Swan competition. Don’t put too much in UVXY or it could go way down before it goes up.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Let me repeat: how many times have people have gone out pretty far in ocean water this summer on all the US coasts? Can we agree it’s in the millions, probably tens of millions?

      And you tell me about ONE shark incident?

      And you think you are at risk?

      As I keep saying: you are at vastly greater risk of being hit by a drunk driver, but no one worries about that when they get into a car.

      1. Kyrie Eleison

        Sharks are terrorists and must be stopped at all costs. Did I use the word terrorist yet? (ooga booga booga)

        It seems to me that the leading cause of death is life, so life must be stopped at all costs.

        1. ambrit

          Plus, from beneath, a surfer looks very much like a seal, down to stubby appendages churning away for locomotion. The shark sees something shaped like its favourite food! Voila! Feeding behaviour! Down here on the Gulf Coast we worry much more about the smaller sharks that will come right up to the shoreline! I have personally seen that real fear inspiring ‘dark shadow’ pass right by me whilst I was just forty of fifty feet out from shore at Panama City Beach. The sharks will cruise along just offshore in small groups searching for inshore fishies for lunch at certain times of the day. You can, if you have access to a condo rooftop or high balcony, spot them easily.

        2. craazyman

          that’s true. seals came to the Atlantic Cape beaches only recently and the sharks follow them for food.

          I’m sure that shark thought the surfer was a seal but it must have been like biting into a tree branch, for the shark. Which is no doubt why the man made it to shore, even though he was bleeding. The shark probably was revolted.

          Humans aren’t natural prey for sharks. If there’s an attack, it’s a case of mistaken identity.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Olympics – is it a gathering of closet libertarians going gold-mad?

    He wants gold.

    She wants gold.

    Everyone wants gold.

    But there is little gold in them gold medals – a case of medal debasement. They are mostly silver.

  11. Cap'n Magic

    Knight Capital on the ropes:

    $10 million a minute.

    That’s about how much the trading problem that set off turmoil on the stock market on Wednesday morning is already costing the trading firm.

    The Knight Capital Group announced on Thursday that it lost $440 million when it sold all the stocks it accidentally bought Wednesday morning because a computer glitch.

    The losses are threatening the stability of the firm, which is based in Jersey City. In its statement, Knight Capital said its capital base, the money it uses to conduct its business, had been “severely impacted” by the event and that it was “actively pursuing its strategic and financing alternatives.”

    The losses are greater than the company’s revenue in the second quarter of this year, when it brought in $289 million.

    1. Ms G

      Funny how Knight was the loudest critic of NASDAQ when its super-duper software cause the big cock-up for the Facebook IPO!

  12. Middle Seaman

    Philip Giraldi correctly observes the extra attention given to Israel by the presidential candidates. He doesn’t seem to spend time on the main reason for that. Romney is trying to attract Jews from the traditional Jewish Democratic vote. The numbers are small but may make a huge difference. Democrats get about 60% of their campaign money from Jews. A good reason for Obama to seem nice.

    Philip Giraldi continues the war of the faux left on the Jews under the disguise of Israel. That’s disgusting.

    The likelihood of Israel attacking Iran is low. The IDF is strongly and vocally opposes to military action against Iran. Add the actual US objection to war on Iran (it’s stupid, crazy and will result in terrible human damage) and the percentages are very small. Philip Giraldi didn’t do his homework.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Where do you get the 60 percent figure? And do you really want to dismiss overwhelming consistent bipartisan congressional and senate votes which harm and further threaten Iran at every point? Both major presidential candidates are fighting to look most barbaric on the entire region of the Risk board. Look no further than what we and our BFF’s the Saudi’s are doing to Syria today. It would be nuts to think this is not leading (with current sanctions already in place) to more harm in Iran.

    2. Neo-Realist

      Even in Israel’s cabinet, there isn’t much support for war beyond Bibi and Barak.

      It smells of another “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your nukes down” brinksmanship that will amount to nothing.

  13. jest

    Re: Electoral Reform

    The only Presidential candidate talking about this issue is currently in jail right now.

    Fitting, isn’t it? The paraphrased quote “If voting did anything good, it would be illegal” comes to mind.

  14. Hugh

    Sports, mainly football and basketball, and the Greek system have been the running antithesis of higher education for decades, and Hedges is only clueing in to them now?

    The purpose of universities is not to create lonely dreamers or cadres for the corporations. It is to create an informed citizenry both for the good of society and the personal enrichment of the individual.

    Hedges pretty much misses the point. Universities have become corporatized, but football and frats have very little to do with it. The corporatization has taken place at the level of the university administration, its mission, and the faculty. The university likes to think of itself now as a full partner of the corporate world. It is actually just an employee. The Greek system is a more organized form of socialization for the corporate world but the university experience is simply a more general one. And for many student debt will become the eventual and ultimate form of social control.

    Hedges should have pointed the finger at the faculty and the administration. Universities pride themselves on their research and scholarship, not at student level, but at that of the professor. “Publish or perish” is still operative. Professors don’t get tenure for their teaching or “service”. They get it for their ability to publish. Research has become nothing more, in the vast majority of cases, than an exercise in credentialing. The open secret is that 95% of academic research is b*llsh*t.

    Universities have ceased to be places where ideas are questioned and debated because they are engines of the status quo. That is how they are organized. That is how they are run. It’s how people are hired and promoted. And as the status quo is kleptocracy and universities are staffed by the elites, this is why universities serve the interests of the kleptocracy.

    1. Ms G

      “The corporatization has taken place at the level of the university administration, its mission, and the faculty. The university likes to think of itself now as a full partner of the corporate world. It is actually just an employee.”

      Exactly. No better example than the UVA story that Lambert so vividly brought on our radars here (and at Corrente). I was puzzled and dismayed, actually, that Hedges focused on the frats-sports angle to talk about the decay of our learning institutions, while missing the main event. At the macro level — per Hugh’s “administration as partner/puppet of corporate America — and at a specific (illustrative) level — QED the UVA Story.

  15. aet

    One that free-speech advocates may wish to say something about:

    Quote from linked article:

    “With all the solemnity on which it can draw, Italy’s highest appeals court has ruled it is a crime to utter the words: “You don’t have the balls.” And for reasons that are potentially as controversial as the judgment itself.

    The court decided the phrase should be outlawed, not so much because it cast doubt on the offended party’s virility, but because it implied a “lack of determination, competence and consistency – virtues which, rightly or wrongly, continue to be regarded as suggestive of the male sex’.”

  16. RanDomino

    Today’s Exit Option for the entire system is Anarchism.

    Of course, the system has important differences from a business- namely, that if you try to go with a different one you may find yourself arrested, tortured, and/or shot.

    If you think that an inability to choose the parameters of the system is itself an unacceptable indignity, congratulations! You’re already an Anarchist!

  17. F. Beard

    I think bank efficiency is overdone (for system designers, stability is a first order design consideration, efficiency is second order, so prioritizing efficiency is a bad idea, as our recent debacle attests). Yves Smith

    If stability is a major concern (and it is) then social stability must be considered. The population will not long endure stagnant growth for the sake of banking “stability.” Nor is credit creation socially stable either since it is, by definition, discriminatory and divisive.

    Traditional banking CANNOT be made to work properly. If it could then God is mocked and He isn’t. And heck, we’ve been trying for over 300 years with tens if not hundreds of millions dead as a result.

  18. Chris Rogers

    Re; Jill Stein Arrest.

    Is it not positive to see someone with some actual sound political beliefs standing up for those beliefs and helping the average Joe Blogs.

    Wonder what Obama or Romney would say of this – no doubt, as a self professed enemy of the fascist state a drone will be shortly dispatched to deal with the issue.

    Whilst I wished my flippancy was funny, regrettably this is not the case – given the option, Obomney would most certainly press the button!!!!

  19. Max424

    My main peak oil man, Gregor MacDonald, is now an MMT advocate! Will wonders never cease.

    To salvage our economic submarine, stuck as it is on the sea-bottom, non-debt based government issued script, debt jubilees, massive infrastructure projects, and a new WPA, are not only Gregor’s prescription, but his prediction.

    I’m with the prescription. But the prediction? Um…no. Don’t see it happening.

    Unless there is a transformative miracle to our political structure coming our way soon, I see neo-liberals, and neo-liberals only, holding all the major –and minor– positions of Beltway power, from now until the end.

    Besides, only a sky-God could bring us the miracle we need. And tho I believe most fervently in a sky-God, my personal sky-God does not give a rat’s ass about American politics, or for that matter, the collapse of human civilization (aka Europe).

    Truth be told, my sky-God just got a new iPhone, and he spends a majority of His time texting sky-God 4 in parallel universe 28, asking Her the question we’d all like an answer to, What’s it all about?

    Needless to say, He has no time for my prayers.

    Not that He ever did.

    1. God

      Dear Christians:

      God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in World history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.

      You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire Universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time? Did I make those few Jews or did those few Jews make me?

      Further, do you really think I would sit back and do nothing while Nazis killed 6 million of my “chosen people,” but find it important enough to intervene and turn water into wine to stop some hosts being embarrassed at a wedding in Cana? Why did I seem to be so active in the Middle East for a brief period about 2,000 years ago, but totally absent everywhere else on the planet and for the rest of recorded history? Did I make the Jews or did the Jews make me?

      So, you really think my periodic miracles prove my existence hey? Then why not something inarguable and unambiguous, like a huge crucifix in the sky, or my face on the moon? Why is it always that believers have to construct my miracles out of perfectly explicable natural events?

      This happens every time there is a tragedy or near tragedy of any kind, anywhere in the world and in all cultures. Captain “Sully” Sullenberger pilots a distressed plane to land safely on the Hudson River in New York City with no deaths, and it’s a miracle from God; a young girl is found in India, totally terrorized, but alive after being abducted and ra.ped for a week, and it’s a miracle from my competitor Rama (or Vishnu or Shiva) that she is returned to her parents; or a family in Northern Pakistan survives an errant American missile attack, and it’s a miracle from Allah.

      What all these self-serving proclamations of miraculous intervention always ignore is the downside of the incidents. The fact that the passengers and crew of Flight 1549 were terrorized and the plane destroyed, that 11 innocent people are dead in Aurora, that the girl was held for seven days, raped and sodomized and will be traumatized for the rest of her life, or that a number of innocent civilians were killed by the missile.

      Of course, none of these incidents really are “miracles.” When the totality of facts are taken into account, “miracles” turn out to be nothing more than believers who are desperate for some sign of my existence ignoring the downside of a set of facts, focusing solely on the upside and calling the quarantined “good” a miracle from me or one of the other sky-fairies. A CEO might as well ignore the liability side of his balance sheet and declare it a “miracle” that his company just doubled in value.

      Another annoying habit my “miracles” seem to have is that they always seem to tag along, just behind medical science, like an annoying kid brother who won’t go away. Until the mid nineties, those with AIDS who prayed for a miracle were never granted one. Medical science finds a way to permanently suppress the disease, and all of a sudden I start to perform miracles with AIDS patients. No polio patient ever received a miracle until the Salk vaccine and I routinely ignored cancer patients until chemotherapy and radiation treatments were developed. Suddenly, prayers to me from cancer patients are regularly “answered.”

      Why is it that I still seem deaf to the pleadings of amputees who would like their fingers, arms or legs back, to those who have physically lost eyes or ears, to the horribly burned and to all others who ail from patently visible and currently incurable maladies? Why is it that, at the very same time, I am very receptive to the prayers of those whose condition is uncertain, internal and vulnerable to miraculous claims?

      Take five minutes to make two lists; one of those ailments I will miraculously cure and the other of those I will not. You will quickly find it coincides perfectly with those conditions medical science (or the human body itself) can defeat and those we cannot. Why do you think that is? It is almost as my miracles are created out of medical ambiguity isn’t it?

      No, my human friends. I am afraid I do not exist. I do not read your minds (or “hear your prayers” as you like to call it) and you are not going to achieve immortality (or “eternal life” as you like to call it) no matter how many commandments from Iron Age Palestine you choose to “keep”. Move on and enjoy the few years you have. You were all dead for the last 13,700,000,000 years and it wasn’t that least bit uncomfortable now, was it?

      1. F. Beard

        It would take me too long to refute you throughly but as for this

        Further, do you really think I would sit back and do nothing while Nazis killed 6 million of my “chosen people,” :

        The Book of Deuteronomy explained what would happen to the Jews if they broke the Covenant. They broke it. Repeatedly. After many warnings. Oops!

        As for medical miracles don’t forget that modern science, modern technology and modern medicine came out of the Jewish-Christian tradition.

        And for all of life’s suffering, our existence here is only temporary. The next life will be pain and tear-free for some and last forever:

        And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”Revelation 21:3-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB) [emphasis added]

        1. skippy

          Can any thing exist out side of time?

          The very thought that a book of cannons written by a bunch of navel gazers, over such long stretches of time could render the universe’s secrets let alone humanity’s, has to be the biggest unsubstantiated exercise our species has committed it self too. It is the .001% hand book see: tea party wonks cough lambs to slaughter, worshiping the ultimate .0001% even when it kills them.

          Skippy… anywho it can be reasonably argued that there is only one electron present in the universe… and it is everywhere at the same moment in time. All hail the big *E* cuz is probably the closet thing to any sort of unifying element – this – universe has.

          1. skippy

            “It would take me too long to refute you throughly but as for this”… beardo

            Skip… Cough I have no evidence save what I believe… so… you’ll have to believe this bit of NSAB translation – of one utterance – from a collection of fables.

            “As for medical miracles don’t forget that modern science, modern technology and modern medicine came out of the Jewish-Christian tradition.”… beardo

            Skip.. Wrong on both counts. The Chinese and Muslims were light years ahead of Christianity. They don’t call it the dark ages for nothing.

            Skippy… whats up with taking one book and reverse engineering every new discovery to fit – into it – and for thousands of years. Bad code?

          2. F. Beard

            The Chinese and Muslims were light years ahead of Christianity. skippy

            Maybe at one time. But both the Muslims and the Chinese were left behind by the 17th century at the latest. The Protestant Reformation (back to the Bible) started a hundred years earlier.

          3. F. Beard

            Bad code? skippy

            This part for example?

            “He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. Job 26:7 [emphasis added]

            But where are the turtles?

          4. skippy

            Beardo if you read a bit of history you will find they stole – claimed possession of the early advances as their own. Next you will find the expansion of said mob into these regions and the resulting out comes.

            Your usage of biblical text in a reverse engineering application is rubbish. Had you been there on the day and spoke to the author, well the results would be quite different.

            Skippy… remember your favorite faux science blog states the bible is true in totality and you folks just fill in the blanks as new discovery presents it’s self…. barf.

      2. Heretic

        If I may summarize your writing with a query; do, you believe that God would have to intervene in every instance of major human tragedy to provide proof of His existance? You believe that He should answer all our prayers, especially those concerning virtue and justice, to prove that He exists and wants us to live a life of virtue?

        1. Heretic

          Hey god, perhaps you should also consider this poem

          A Christian Confederate Soldier’s Prayer
          (Anon – alleged  to have been found on a CSA casualty at the Devil’s Den, Gettysburg)

          I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
          I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
          I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
          I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
          I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
          I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
          I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
          I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
          I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
          I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
          I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for.
          Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
          I am, among all people, most richly blessed.

          Also read about Job, in particular when the younger man (Elihu, or Eliaphz??) answers Job, and when God answers Job. I would ignore the finale, when God restores everything back to Job… Often this doesn’t happen. Too many times, we demand that our view of a situation should also be God’s view, and this leads to our disillusionment. But Neither does God forget us. Jesus that God does not forget the sparrows that fall in the field, neither does He forget us.

  20. John Lenihan

    Flood of Errant Trades Is a Black Eye for Wall Street

    Late last year, according to multiple news stories,the London Stock Exchange used the weekend before previously scheduled software changes to run a series of tests; the latest and best Windows stuff was installed and run. It crashed in a few hours.

    So they threw it all out, and installed reliable Linux software, probably from Red Hat; it ran perfectly until open of business Monday, and has continued to work without problems ever since.

    The twenty-thousand (at least) Microswift shills in print and online were apparently too busy counting their emoluments to notice this story and get it killed, but it is quite doubtful that they were sleeping during the NASDAQ/Facebook debacle of a few weeks ago, or the Knight problem of recent days. Of course nobody really knows for sure the source of the “glitches”, but considering the huge bank accounts of Ukrainian, Russian, and Chinese hackers (who use Microswift exclusively), and their American and European victims, take three guesses.

  21. Heretic

    Mr. Wit man, I am responding to your writing:
    ”Take this anti football screed . . . Hedges himself was a boxer, supposedly, when he was in school. That’s a pretty violent sport, no?

    He beat up two teenager kids because he claims he caught them raping a girl. Hedges also claims to have antagonized his jailors in Iran. Hedges calls for people to stand up to the police and get arrested.

    So Hedges is Mr. Macho tough guy one minute, and then denouncing aggression and calling for peace the next.’

    I believe the context of the situation is very important to distinguish here. Using violence for personal gain and glory is not justifiable. But fighting to protect the weak and/or the innocent or to protect legitimate rights of others is (in some cases) justifiable. If Chris beat up up two potential rapists, and calls the 99% to stand up for their dignity and rights… Then may there be more power to him.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Hedges has no right to mete out justice on his own. It’s dangerous to have neighborhood vigilantes beating up children and then not reporting rape of children to the authorities.

      I saw Hedges tell the story on the CSPAN interview from a few years ago. We were discussing it a week or two ago (yet another poster left a Hedges link). I think he may have written about this story in more detail in a book (maybe War gives us meaning).

      Anyway, he describes an ongoing drama with the boys. He tried to get them arrested for dealing heroin, but couldn’t. He tried to turn them in to the truant officers. He claims he finally disabled the fuse box to prevent the boys from squatting in a vacant home and ran them out of the neighborhood.

      Plus, I don’t believe Hedges.

      I’ve got a gut feeling about this punk. Why no police report for the rape of a child? You expect me to believe that Hedges went to the police for heroin dealing and truancy but not rape? Is it because Hedges meted out his own punishment and didn’t want to admit to his own crimes if he turned the boys in? So Hedges screwed up a rape case against two boys because he committed battery against them? Also, from listening to Hedges story I got the impression he attacked the two boys in vengeance and not to protect the girls.

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