Link 10/17/12

Food fraud tackled by forensic scientists BBC. We had a bit of this sort of thing in NYC. I believe it was the Times that did a study on whether the supposed Alaskan (as in wild) salmon was the real deal. It turns out of all the fancy stores selling the product, only one (Eli’s) had the genuine article. I’d assume in most cases the wholesalers lied to the retailers. Of course, in NYC the media cares most when it’s the chattering classes that are get ripped off…

Crazy Gross Internet Troll Caves Will Make You Feel Better About Your Dirty Keyboard Huffington Post. Per Ed Harrison: Look, they’ve finally found out where some of the worst commenters at Naked Capitalism live. It’s not pretty.

AXILLISM Twitter. Richard Smith is working hard to improve your vocabulary.

Guys and Sex Dolls – Scenes from the Guanzghou Sexpo Danwei

China’s Yuan Internationalization: Made In Africa, Not Hong Kong Forbes (Timothy F)

EU Ministers Tighten Sanctions on Iran OilPrice

Coping with financial crises: Latin American answers to European questions VoxEU

Retirement No Option for Older Workers in Europe’s Crisis Bloomberg

EuroFascist Watch. Sadly, this might become a regular feature. Nikki and Nick, both members of the OWS Alternative Banking Group, participated in a successful effort in Astoria, Queens, to keep the Greek fascist party Golden Dawn from establishing a presence there as a US beachhead. Apparently a high moment in the well attended community meeting was when someone announced he was from Anonymous, and had taken down Golden Dawn’s website and messed with their bank account. One of the messages on a related listserv:

I heard from a comrade from Athens, he is Council Member in Athens and organizer for ΚΕΕΡΦΑ (United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat). He mentioned that our activities here against GD have had quite the impact over there. GD is frankly pissed that we ruined their plans here.

Nikki says they had to meet at the Episcopalian church, and she was disturbed that the Greek Orthodox church wouldn’t host it. She speculated that Golden Dawn has ties to the Greek Orthodox church and later found that to be correct.

Mark Ames notes that Golden Dawn is using the same approach that the neoNazis and fascists (often backed by bankers) used in Russia under Yeltsin. GD is providing social services (only to Greeks who can prove they are Greeks) and much of the time has the support of the police. If someone has a problem, the police will say, “Go talk to this guy [at Golden Dawn]”. And the GD guys expect something back for their services. Oh, and the Russian Orthodox church had ties to the fascists, ‘natch.

Finally, the EU is increasing the pressure on Greece by not letting immigrants leave. This is apparently a huge deal in the northeast, where a lot of immigrants from Turkey and Central Asia come to Greece. They don’t intend to stay, they are en route to, say, Britain or Germany. But the border police are not letting them transit onward or return to their home countries. That of course strengthens the hand of Golden Dawn. For more background, see this piece from the Independent.

French president pushing homework ban as part of ed reforms Washington Post (Gaius)

Why The Nobel Peace Prize For The EU Is So Flawed Ilargi

Romney: I had ‘binders full of women’ as governor Raw Story

Will Privacy Go to the Dogs? New York Times (furzy mouse)

Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer David Stockman, Daily Beast (fresno dan)

Public Briefing: Erskine Bowles Determined to Reduce Private Sector Income, Stifle US Economy – Pt. 1 Michael Hoexter, New Economic Perspectives

The Recent Collapse In Business Confidence Is Stunning Clusterstock

Where Are Consumers Getting Income to Spend? WSJ Economics Blog

Puncturing the Housing Optimism Bubble David Dayen, Firedoglake

Presidential pointers from local high school debaters Palm Beach Post (Lambert)

10 greatest market crashes MarketWatch. I slept through the 1987 crash. I had an excuse, I was in Japan. I was told the last copy of the New York Times that had the crash as its headline on sale in One World Trade Center (where I normally worked), whose sales price was $0.25, was auctioned to the highest bidder and fetched $5.00.

Mission elapsed time: T + 39 and counting*

You taught me language, and my profit on ‘t Is I know how to curse. —William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Montreal. Police state: “Criminal charges have been suspended against three people arrested by notorious Montreal police officer [# 528] in an incident caught on video. [The] officer became famous during the spring for pepper-spraying a number of student demonstrators who appeared to pose no threat to her.”=

CA. Police state: “A court-appointed monitor overseeing Oakland police reforms said in a report released Monday that he was ‘dismayed’ by the department’s lack of progress, citing a ‘stubborn resistance to compliance.’ Robert Warshaw found that the Oakland PD actually took a step back, falling out of compliance with one of its tasks, which involves the creation of a monitoring system to track officers engaging in potentially problematic behavior.”

ME. Ladies of negotiable affection: “Police have issued a third release of the list of 21 alleged clients of Alexis Wright, this time including ages and addresses after a judge’s order. Though police issued a second release Tuesday morning, including middle initials, confusion still remained surrounding the individuals on the list.”

MT. Landfills: “Five city workers have been suspended for five days without pay for scavenging goods from the landfill last summer.” Aww! In Maine, “dump picking” is a community tradition!

NC. Coal: “Site inspections by state agency dam safety engineers at every coal fired power plants across state revealed 29 high hazard coal ash ponds whose failure could cause a loss of human life. [T]here have been structural failures and/or breaches of coal ash pond dams at the Weatherspoon, Cliffside, Roxboro and Sutton coal fired power plants in the last 10 years. [N]one of the states 37 CCW ponds have composite liners to prevent leachate from contaminating groundwater.”

NY. Fascism: “[Queens] City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio denounced the Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party native to Greece, for its plans to move into New York and distributing hate literature in Astoria. De Blasio was joined in his protest Friday at Athens Square Park, at 30th Street and 30th Avenue, by local elected officials.” … Police state: “U.S. District Court Judge Richard Sullivan found that the NYPD acted unlawfully when it carried out mass arrests of demonstrators at two protests during the convention. He also ruled that the NYPD’s decision to fingerprint arrested protesters was unlawful.” … Jill Stein: “We feel that it’s not just independent political voices that are being excluded. It’s really the American people who are being excluded” (Aquifer). … Fracking: “Many of the participants wore T-shirts emblazoned with ‘Jobs’ on the front.”

OH. Voting: “Without noted dissent, the Supreme Court at midday Tuesday turned aside a plea by state officials in OH to allow them to close down voting opportunities on the final three days before election day on November 6. The ruling was a significant victory for President Obama and for Ds.” … Fracking: “Many people also don’t want to see drilling in Mill Creek Park. Robert Parry added, ‘But, I don’t think that our hunger for energy should cause earthquakes, poison our water, poison our homes. This nonsense really has to stop and I think we should draw the line.'”

PA. Fracking: “The state DEP has a new review policy for water contamination cases related to Marcellus Shale gas well operations that lets department administrators in Harrisburg instead of field offices decide whether residential water users should receive letters notifying them about problems. DEP sources, unwilling to speak on the record because of concerns about job security, say some DEP district office staffers are concerned about the policy, which would allow headquarters’ officials to second guess their test-based contamination determinations.

TX. Pipelines: [At the ongoing Tar Sands Blockade tree village in east Texas,] one 70-year-old Cherokee woman was tackled by local security hired by TransCanada.” …. Water: “TDCJ’s Clements and Neal units are together the second largest water customer in Amarillo, soaking up 44% more water than the city of Amarillo itself. Prisons’ vast water use in mainly rural areas is a largely unexplored aspect of mass incarceration, but one wonders if, in the coming years, Texas’ water wars might ever contribute to de-incarceration pressures?”

VT. The tribes: “Abenaki Helping Abenaki Inc., a nonprofit organization of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe, is hoping to buy the parcel. it would be the first communal land of the Nulhegan Abenaki in 200 years.”

WA. Charters: “Right now [Initiative 1240 allowing charter schools is] polling in WA [at] 49% for, 30% against, and 21% undecided. Unfortunately our state union is focusing on the governor’s race rather than 1240.”

WI. Empathy: “‘In classrooms with a lot of low-income and non-white kids, we’ve witnessed a lot of unselfishness,’ [CUNA Mutual Foundation’s executive director Steve Goldberg] said. “Not ‘we need a new piano’ or ‘we need new furniture in the cafeteria,’ (but) ‘give it to kids who are needier than we are.'” … Corruption: “Attorneys hired by R lawmakers withheld nearly three dozen emails from groups suing the lawmakers despite multiple court orders to release the documents, a forensic investigator’s report filed late Monday found.”

Grand Bargain™-brand Catfood Watch. Poverty: “Without Social Security, 21.4 million more Americans would be poor, according to the latest available Census data (for 2011). Although most of those whom Social Security keeps out of poverty are elderly, nearly a third are under age 65, including 1.1 million children. Depending on their design, reductions in Social Security benefits could significantly increase poverty, particularly among the elderly.”

Outside baseball. Anarchy: In Praise of Anarchy I, II, III. … Extractive economy: “That word, ‘local,’ is the problem. Yes, each instance affects the environment and people in a particular place, but until we realize that they’re all of a piece we won’t be able to fight them effectively. Our aggregate fight is your pipeline fight is their plutonium fight- are the voter suppression and women’s rights fights.” Excellent piece. The tribes got it right on landfills and the East-West highway here, and much else.

Green Party. The debates: “Nassau County, N.Y. police say Jill Stein, the Green presidential nominee, and Cheri Honkala, the vice-presidential nominee, were charged with disorderly conduct as they tried to enter the debate site at Hofstra University. The Green Party says in a statement that Stein and Honkala were walking with supporters toward the Hofstra campus Tuesday afternoon when they were met by uniformed police officers. Stein and Honkala then held an impromptu press conference in which Stein called the debate a “mockery of democracy.” … The platform: “I propose a Green New Deal for the 2010s, which — unlike the doomed-to-fail proposals of Obama and Romney — is proven to work.”

The Obama vs. The Romney Round II. Or rather, Millard Fillmore vs. James Buchanan; two mediocrities wholly unequal to the challenges of their time. I can’t imagine Jeremy, the first questioner, came away feeling his job prospects would be greatly improved by the election of either candidate. I confess I only listen to the debates (and occasionally post); network TV is simply too toxic to approach in safety, even on a laptop. That said:

Ethos: “It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.” Make up your own jokes!

Pathos: To demonstrate sincerity, Romney will pause, and pitch his voice lower. Obama drops his Gs, uses the word “folks,” and pitches his voice higher, using a husky, half-strangulated tone.

Logos: An interesting exchange here: ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the [Libyan embassy] attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying? OBAMA: Please proceed governor. ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror. OBAMA: Get the transcript. CROWLEY: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror… OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.” The twitterverse is aflame with “Get the transcript,” but to me “Please proceed governor” is far more interesting. It’s almost as if Obama knew the point Romney was going to make and deked him into making it, because he had the rebuttal at the ready. So Obama wins that exchange on tactics, but also because the narrative now becomes “What did Obama say in the Rose Garden?” instead of “What did Obama do for two weeks?” Well played! Who can deny Obama a little gloating and knife-twisting with “Can you say that a little louder”? … Taegan Goddard: “Obama acted like a president in the exchange while Romney was much less. It was Romney’s Gerald Ford moment.” Ouch! That said, were Crowley and Obama right? And what did Obama do for two weeks?

Memes: “Binders full of women” shows that D propagation capabilities have achieved parity with the Rs. Hurrah! … Political class: “The debate isn’t even over and a parade of Obama surrogates is parading into the debate site ‘spin room.’ It’s a big contrast to the first debate, when Obama surrogates didn’t show up for several minutes after the debate ended — well after the Romney surrogates.” …. Polls: “Moments following the debate, 37% of voters polled said the president won, 30% awarded the victory to Romney, and 33% called it a tie.” Not exactly a vote of confidence. … Links: Excellent near-real time annotation by Izvestia; Pravda’s competitor not so rich in sourcing or analysis. Andrew Sullivan back in Full Monty man crush mode. And a near miss.

Biggest Big Lie: A tough call, but my choice this evening: “[ROMNEY: ] Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs… [OBAMA:] I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.” Of course, FDR created 15 million jobs.

The Romney. Rhetoric: The Gish Gallop (hat tip jawbone).

The Obama. Endorsement: “The 7-year-old star of the hit TLC reality show, ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,’ endorsed [Obama] Monday night during an appearance on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live.'” That’s actually great news for Obama. IIRC, Ms. Boo Boo’s family management is quite media savvy; I’m sure they don’t want to endorse an electoral loser.

* Slogan of the day: Fully Criticize The Romney From a Political, Ideological, and Theoretical Perspective!

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Richard Kline

    Rombumney: “I had binders full of women . . . mostly naked, didn’t hire any of them. Because mine’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.”

    I didn’t watch a thing of the ‘debates,’ and will spare you all my opinions on them. But one thing I’ll say for sure: the _real_ future for Mittless Mutt is in stand-up comedy. He’ll still be rich without it, but onstage with his routine he’d be FAMOUS. Just bill him as ‘The Straight Man,’ and it only gets better . . . .

  2. Tim Mason

    Not sure I understand what the Hollande and homework piece is about. Homework has been officially forbidden in the French primary schools for years. Teachers in many districts, particularly where there are pushy/concerned* parents, dole it out illicitly, and if they don’t, those parents who can afford to do so hire coaches. If Hollande does crack down on the practice, the private coaching mills are going to make even more money.

    *delete whichever offends

    1. alex

      “Not sure I understand what the Hollande and homework piece is about.”

      It goes along with his push to lower the voting age to six. Imagine how much student support he’d get with a “no homework” platform.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It depends on what students do with their free time, I guess.

      More TV watching?

      Knowing how energetic young people are (even in France) and how destructive they can be with time on their hands, the French will probably need more sedative TV programs.

  3. ex-PFC Chuck

    Democracy Now reveals secret debate contract:

    . . the audience has essentially been reduced, in some ways, to props, because the moderator is still ultimately asking the questions.

    And this election cycle is the first time that the moderator herself is prohibited from asking follow-up questions, questions seeking clarification. She’s essentially reduced to keeping time and being a lady with a microphone.

    1. Ms G

      She’s essentially reduced to keeping time and being a lady with a microphone.

      Wow. So the jokes about debate moderators being Vanna Whites really are too close to reality to qualify as jokes.

      With all the talk (blather) about “transparency” you would think that at least The Obama’s team would feel obligated to prominently disclose this contractual “parameter” to the audience before the start of the debate(s). Ha ha.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am surprised she has not been replaced by a robot.

        It’s cheaper that way and more money for the top executives.

    2. citlapram

      Why anyone would even bother watching or talking about these “debates” is beyond me.

      Don’t people have anything better to do than gossip about who said what?

      Next issue!

      1. YankeeFrank

        I know everyone here apparently thinks it doesn’t matter which of these incompetents fills the prez office for the next 4 years, but for a significant majority of the American people it will actually matter, and for probably all of us very smart above it all types as well. Sure Obama is a corporate crony shitheel who loves assassinating American citizens, but he is better than Romney and will leave our nation a bit less devastated after the next four years than Romney will. On various issues such as taxes, planned parenthood, women’s rights, gay rights, the supreme court, whether we attack Iran, massive increases in debt and the defense budget, and even immigration, Romney is following the rabid right wing attack plan, and we will all suffer for it. The democratic party has gone full corporate whore over the past 30-40 years, sure. But they at least have not totally lost their grip on reality. Hasn’t anyone noticed that the republican party has become totally vicious and demented: cheering for executions and denying people medical care, gloating over the deaths of muslims, attacking women’s rights on every front, demanding that all money be siphoned upwards towards the “job creators”, the list goes on and on. As bad as Obama is in so many ways, and he is bad, and at best weak tea, and as serious as the condition of our nation is, does anyone really think things will be better under a Romney administration? Or do you really think it will be about the same? Because I don’t see it. I see Romney finally getting to govern as Romney the severely conservative mormon whackadoo, not as a guy shackled in a liberal state to act as a liberal to get anything done. He will have the full crazy of the current republican party at his back and this is republican party far to the right of anything W ever had. Wake up.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          I’m surprised you’ve fallen so hard for the lesser of two weevils. I won’t vote for either, but if forced to, I’d pick the naked Republican over the Neocon in sheep’s clothing. The Democratic Party might actually wake up and protect Social Security when the “severely conservative mormon whackadoo” proffers his own version of The Grand Bargain, without even a kibble of cat food. It’s time to call their bluff and embrace the bloody vulture capitalist.

          Apart from reproductive and gay rights, where Obama has conceded some humanity, reluctantly, there is nothing but rhetorical differences in everything you cite: warmongering, taxes, the Supine Court … “whether we attack Iran, massive increases in debt and the defense budget, and even immigration … cheering for executions (Osama, Awlaki) and denying people medical care … demanding that all money be siphoned upwards towards the ‘job creators’. Obama and Romney are two faces of the same coin (heads-they-win/tails-we-lose). Obama is just the more effective evil in inflicting the Shock Doctrine on the sheep.

          But you can relax. That’s why Obama has been anointed and ordained to win this. The outcome is already as fixed as the staged debates and the horse-race polls. The MOTU will take no chances on losing their Trojan horse. Make book on it.

          1. YankeeFrank

            I see, so Obama is worse than W was and worse than Romney will be. He’s the more effective evil. I don’t buy it. And I don’t buy that the differences are simply rhetoric. Obama is the lesser evil, and that means voting for Romney is voting for the greater evil. We’ve been embracing the vulture capitalist for 40 years. How’s that worked out for us? And if nothing else, the supreme court is at stake. Don’t tell me Kagan and Sotomayor are worse than, or even close, to Alito and Roberts. Voting at the highest office should be pragmatic, not ideological. If we want to nominate the Jill Steins of the world and have any chance of them winning, we need to take over local democratic politics, but people would rather whine about how imperfect Obama is than actually engage politically and take back the democratic party one district at a time. And with a Romney Supreme Court even if we did get a truly progressive president elected she would be stymied at every opportunity by the reactionary court. Unfortunately Obama is our only choice in this election.

          2. Doug Terpstra

            Obama, imperfect? No whining here at all; he’s the great deceiver, a dark stalking horse, quisling, wolf in sheep’s clothing.

            Worse than W? Demonstrably! Where have you been living the last four years during the Libyan, Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali wars, and the escalation of Afghanistan? And during the drone war murders? When the regime bragged about the POTUS picking citizen assassination targets personally? When Patriot Act II was signed? When Gaza and Palestine were left to languish? When it was decided that Gitmo would be kept open indefinitely? When the NDAA was enacted and then rescued on appeal? When non-negotiable NAFTA/SHAFTA was enshrined in new rigged-trade pacts with Korea, Panama, and Columbia? When the TPP was negotiated? When the henhouse was staffed with all the same foxes? When the illegal coup in Honduras was embraced? When torturers and fraudsters were given permanent amnesty? When twice the Bush tax cuts were rescued from expiration? When the Cat Food Commission was launched and staffed? Do you honestly believe that McCain could ever have bragged of such “stellar” Neocon achievements?

            What have you done with the real YankeeFrank?

          3. Hugh

            YF, most of the excesses under Bush were turned into standard practice and then expanded upon by Obama. This is the essence of the ratchet effect and why it’s been said that Obama is the more effective evil. The ratchet effect is insidious. Republicans like Nixon and Reagan would no longer fit in the Republican party. They are even too far left of a lot of the current Democratic party. Similarly, Obama has governed to the right of Bush. That’s the ratchet effect. The lines distinguishing Republicans and Democrats keep shifting further right.

            The electorate tends to lag behind these changes holding on to images of the parties that no longer correspond to the reality, and haven’t for years. It is why Americans continue to identify as moderate to conservative even as they are liberal to very liberal in their positions.

            As for the lesser evil argument, I put it this way: If you are offered two shit sandwiches and told that one contains a little less shit than the other, are you going to eat it? Are you going to suggest that others do?

          4. Aquifer

            Yoo,hoo YF – Obama Is NOT our only choice. He may be yours but he ain’t mine.

            And how’s that takin’ over the Dems at the local level workin’ out for ya? Seems to me what passes for prog Dems these days is rather pitiful; “Oh, you want me to sell out my long held dedication to, e.g., single payer for the sake of Pres and party? OK …”

          5. Hugh

            Synopticist, it’s called a false dichotomy. Just because someone offers you two shit sandwiches doesn’t mean you have to accept either. Just because the legacy parties offer us two shit candidates doesn’t mean we have to vote for either. We can always vote for someone else or no one at all.

            I for one will not vote for a candidate who does not represent my views and who, in fact, works against them. If Obama had wanted my vote, he had almost 4 years to give me reasons to vote for him. He didn’t. Instead he has given me many reasons not to vote for him. So tell me again why I am supposed to consider voting for someone who so obviously does not want my vote?

        2. ex-PFC Chuck

          Sure Obama is a corporate crony shitheel who loves assassinating American citizens, but he is better than Romney and will leave our nation a bit less devastated after the next four years than Romney will.

          1. ex-PFC Chuck

            The above comment in response to YF was inadvertently posted prematurely. I’ll fix it in a minute.

          2. Synopticist

            If you HAVE to eat a shit sandwich, then yes, eat the one with less shit in it.
            And basically you do HAVE to. One of them’s going to be president.

            if there was no substantial difference between the two, why would the likes of the Koch brothers, and their mouthpieces, spend so much money and energy on getting the republican elected?

          3. Aquifer

            Yo, Syn – this DnR “rivalry” isn’t about ideology or policy, but who is in control of handing out the goodies and who they are handed out to – if you have corralled a politician you will want to advance him so he can advance you – it’s not about whether contracts, e.g., are given fairly as opposed to corruptly, it’s about to WHOM they are given corruptly … Both sides agree on what to do with the power of government, the only question is who gets to exercise that power …

          4. Aquifer

            And your proof is? Look at the way he governed, for Pete sake, when he actually governed something – Mass. His tenure could aptly be called a template for Obama, minus Guantanamo and drones. Do you really think all that corp money would go into a guy that would upset the apple cart too much? – He’s a moderate Rep, for Pete’s sake, a good “businessman”, an establishment man – just like Obama – both were vetted by the corps before the checks were written, both play the same game, just wear different team colors … If the corps had really wanted whacko Right wingers, they would have funded them. Always follow the money …

  4. craazyman

    Beauty Walks a Razor’s Edge

    The troll caves, properly photographed, could have been more than pretty. They could be beautiful.

    To see such a possibility takes an appreciation, first, for light and the correct use of flash (as opposed to the careless ghastly bursts of flash-bulb-style glare that mar the linked snapshots). Second, it takes a large-format camera with tilts and swings for control over composition and perpsective. And equally importantly, a sensitivity to the possibility of composition, color and line.

    This theme has considerable artistic potential, marrying as it does, a culturally iconic state of mind with a style of interior decoration which captures, in a nearly unconcious form of rough symmetry, its essential essence.

    Robert Polidori, no doubt, could work magic with it. Scroll to the right for examples of what is possible.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Somehow that looks like a more trashed version of the apartment in The Last Tango in Paris…

    1. ForReal?

      Which would totally miss the point of the photos in question. I thought these were beautiful, in a certain twisted kind of way. More than that, they looked just plain visceral and real. I could almost imagine the kinds of characters that inhabited those scenes. And forebodingly, I can easily imagine that their numbers are on the rise.

        1. ForReal?

          Actually, there was a time a few decades back when these almost were me. Not quite, but disturbingly almost. Maybe that’s the real allure here.

      1. craazyman

        Actually, yacking for comic effect aside, in all honesty I do agree with you to a large degree. They’re sort of crosses between Polidori and William Eggleston’s Memphis pics. Some of these are indeed quite beautiful. The harsh light has its own rough aesthetic which complements the theme, but in some cases a softer illumination would better reveal the complex colors (which are overwhelmed and washed out in a harsh flash).

        1. craazyman

          one more on the same theme, loosely, is Jeff Wall’s “Invisible Man”. Made with a large format film camera and careful meticulous staging. To my mind, this is absolutely brilliant (no pun intended given all the light bulbs). The book itself is brilliant, it blew me away, and when I ran across Wall’s interpretation a few years ago I only thought “Wow. That IS it.” The bulbs especially. They’re like a riotous garden of flowers or an out of control infestation of bees. And is that Rodin’s Thinker in the chair? I think so.

          1. aletheia33

            cool. i wonder what a high school class would do with this as an assignment apropos reading the novel. start with the light bulbs and go from there.

      2. Jim Haygood

        It’s a rare privilege to be granted this candid tour of Kurgman’s basement, where he crafts his explosive 3 a.m. hit pieces against the wicked right wing.

        He should stop using his Nobel Prize plaque as a drinks coaster, though.

  5. Ned Ludd

    This comment, by Matt Stoller, sums up my feelings on last night’s debate:

    The candidate of the left, Jill Stein, is in jail while two men chest-beat about who will drill more oil and dig more coal.

    Imagine the headlines in the U.S. media if this happened in Russia or Venezuela: Opposition leader arrested trying to attend political debate”, “Shadowy group blocks opposition from political forum”, “Dissident leader condemns arrest on ‘bogus’ charges”, “Stein vows ‘push-back against the stranglehold of the economic elite’”.

    1. Aquifer

      Ned – excellent observation, should be the frame within which we think about this …

      Folks should be really pissed off by the fact that a candidate that 85% of the folks in this country can vote for gets ARRESTED when she seeks to enter a debate with other candidates ….. Not just kept out of the hall, but arrested and handcuffed to a chair for 8 hours!

      What the media does, or doesn’t, do about this should also be a subject of discussion –

      1. Aquifer

        Glad Stoller has formally noted Stein – now all he needs to do is start pointing out she has programs he critiques the Dems for lacking ….

      2. Ned Ludd

        If you’re a nuisance to the police state, this is what happens to you now. Police, the times I was arrested for civil disobedience, would promptly fill out the paperwork and release you once you got to the station or processing center (of course, sometimes it takes awhile to get there). Now, apparently, it’s okay just to hold people and chain them to metal chairs… because they can.

        This should be news, but it’s not. “A woman leading an opposition party was handcuffed to a chair for crashing the rich people’s debate but BIIIIIIINDERS!” The police state has become normalized.

      3. Ned Ludd

        Someone in ohtarzie’s time-line explained why holding Stein for eight hours, without access to counsel and handcuffed to a chair, is so outrageous. Non-violent people who are incarcerated are not supposed to be held under restraint and incommunicado (except while being transported). An arrest is supposed to follow a protocol.

        arrest” should imply a definite protocol of custody, administrative enrollment, coordination w/ court, access to counsel…

        not just “cops pick you up and hold you wherever for however long.” giving PD that level of autonomy is classic gestapo/stasi turf

        Holding someone in restraint, without access to counsel, and incommunicado for arbitrary periods of time is a grave abuse of police power. Unfortunately, though, over time this too will become normalized.

        1. Aquifer

          Ned- she described the “incident” this AM on DN, and i believe she said she was allowed to answer a call, from an attorney, but wasn’t allowed to make one (details unclear ..) I suspect she was held as long as they thought they could get away with it without filing formal charges, but under instruction from higher ups, I’m sure, at least until the debate was over …

          Stein gets arrested, Obama won’t even show up om a picket line and who do “progs” vote for? I keep hearing cracks about the Greens – granted their organizational skills leave a bit to be desired :) – but who is really to blame for our failure to thrive – this party or the folks who fail to support it?

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Ned, Jill told Amy that she was permitted to TAKE one call from her attorney, who called her while she was in custody. Otherwise, nada.

      4. aletheia33

        this fact is more important than anything either candidate said during the “debate”.
        watch what they do, not what they say.
        watch for the message, too, of what they do.

        the oligarchy of the late, crack-ridden empire grows in strength apace, we are ruled by criminals and their dressed-up surrogates and join them in willing pretending they’re not, while we cling to concepts of party, democracy, right and left, bill of rights, and so on that to the extent they ever carried power no longer do.

        well what else can one cling to? we can’t see what awaits us at the bottom of the abyss until we’ve landed there. meanwhile, only around 4% of people with b.a.’s are unemployed so why should they worry?

      1. Aquifer

        Explains why we are where we are – folks just don’t give a hoot. i am getting more cynical all the time about the prospects for this country – maybe when the majority can’t afford an iPhone98 they’ll get feisty ….

    2. TK421

      But OBAMA is the candidate of the left!!! After all, a few months ago he changed his mind and sort of voiced support for gay marriage–not that he plans to do anything about it. What more could we ask for???

    1. M.InTheCity

      Wow. Holy fucking shit. It rings very true, since even in the US citizen’s line they ask stupid shit. Like, “why do you live overseas? What is your job?” Or the best one “Why did you go to Prague?” Uh, for a holiday?

    2. ScottW

      Disgusting (illegal) behavior by border agents. Hundreds of comments on YouTube support the U.S. agents bully behavior by advising us to just bend over and take it. Of course, had the supporters of U.S. bully nation been treated the same by Canadian border police they would have been outraged. But these folks never leave their city limits, much less the U.S.

    3. RT

      Isn’t it already a, quote “Gulag” in the U.S.? Eugene Jarecki used that term on The Daily Show while talking about the U.S. incarceration industry. And you do have those “black sites”, Supermax’s, don’t you. You know what they look like from a German perspective? Sure, they aren’t, but anyways, gruesome. And I am allowed talking about that as an outsider because, you know, there’s just a shocking story unfolding in Germany relating police, the Ku Klux Clan, the NSU ( a nazi terror cell) and German intelligence service to one another (SPIEGEL: “German Police Kept Jobs Despite KKK Involvement”). Quote “Welcome to the [global] reservation” (R. Means).

      1. Caleb

        Hard for an American to sympathize with your alarm.
        In this country you can be a klansman, a communist, a libertarian whatever, and you still have the same rights as the other guy. Love it when Euro”peons” lecture us on “rights.”

        Would you advocate the guy being fired if he were a Socialist? A Rosacrucian? You’re imposing your personal values on other people in the guise of tolerance.

  6. ZygmuntFraud

    After seeing the Internet troll caves, my lair looks quite well-kept . Are they paid trolls? Gotta read the article at Huffington Post.

  7. Brindle

    I just looked at the transcript for the Town Hall questions:

    No question on Iran.
    No question on Drones.
    No question on the growing income inequality.
    No question on civil liberties and surveillance.
    No question on Global Warming.
    No question on fracking.
    No question on Marriage Equality.

    There were several questions where college education/costs figured–but most Americans are probably too poor to consider college. A very upper-middle class profile was that of the questioners.

  8. Aquifer

    Ape – “What do you mean I can’t retire now? I just bought this damn hammock! When he said ‘4 more years’ I didn’t know he meant I had to bust my butt that much longer!”

  9. aletheia33

    internet caves

    most of this is just the way men live when they are left alone.

    or maybe the new young ones are different?

    apologies if this blatant sexism offends anyone here

    1. JGordon

      Naw, I rather admired a few of the caves for their creative use of resources. Anyway since society is collapsing most people will have to be living like that soon. Even women. So might as well get used to it now.

      1. Aquifer

        Well, not actually – methinks women at least would empty the ash trays in the trash once in a while …

      2. aletheia33

        i was thinking along similar lines. the more fastidious, the more uncomfortable one will be in the new poverty of the new feudalism.

        on the other, it’s known that those who held together best in the concentration camps in ww2 were those who kept themselves to the highest standard of “civilized manners” that they could maintain–a disciplined daily routine, personal hygiene as rigorous as possible under the circumstances, and the like: a refusal to be dehumanized/brutalized.

        at the same time, etty hillesum wrote of pampered women of privilege accustomed to having servants taking care of their every need who simply fell apart and could not cope when they found themselves in the camp (westerbork i believe, where hillesum worked.)

        of course, camps deprive one of any personal space other than perhaps one’s cot, so it’s quite different from having a cave that one can call one’s own. (not to mention the other differences.)

      3. ambrit

        Yeah, I noticed the overwhelming prevalence of *ahem* sub standard living spaces. I’ve been semi-homeless once or twice and can see where some of those folks are either squatting in a basement somewhere, or using mom and dads basement or attic. The prevalence of self abusive habits is unmistakeable too; smoking, alcohol, sodas, junk food of all types, even anime. Anyone notice that one got the impression that all of there people were men? A comparison of these with female troll caves would be interesting.
        Do click through to the 2010 post about hoarding behaviour. I qualify, no question at all.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Either you sold houses before or that is a potential second career to fall back on.

        I do that all the time myself. One never knows.

  10. Aquifer

    Am sitting here watching DN’s alternate debate format – pretty neat …

    Including Virgil Goode is a riot – now there’s a REAL candidate for the right wingers! The contrast presented here is REAL, not fabricated …

    Jill looks pretty good for having been handcuffed to a chair … – hey, maybe that should be a prerequisite for ALL candidates – that’ll separate the men from the women! Let’s hand cuff ’em ALL to chairs until they answer the questions – what that means is the DnRs would be still handcuffed …

    Those high school debaters, i guarantee, have been held to stricter stds than these dudes … (heh, heh, noticed the debater who got dunned for “coming on too strong” was a female …)

    1. Lambert Strether

      Well, the object is to win, given the conditions on the field. And any woman who can master high school debate is very well prepared for later life, regardless of having to trim her sails for this or that judge.. It’s also a matter of framing and managing aggressiveness, I’m sure, not aggressiveness as such. You don’t win at debate without being as aggressive as can possibly be. It’s kinda like Rugby with two-person teams, played with rhetoric.

  11. Aquifer

    Mitt – “I believe in God – I believe we are all children of the same God” ….. Unfortunately that God plays favorites :(

    Obama – re Gov’t creates jobs – “That’s not what i believe”

    OK, so who will? Private sector hasn’t been too terribly interested …

  12. Aquifer

    Troll caves – so much better to have the nice, clean, uncluttered stations the drone pilots use, doncha think? Is it the cave that’s the problem, or what’s done in it?

    1. aletheia33

      more robert polidori:
      unit 4 control room, chernobyl.
      shows brilliantly what the techno-pristine control banks look like after the discipline and the loyal drones who carry it out have been wiped out, and how much of these setups’ design is also about staging:

      and speaking of the creative class, let’s not forget that the atomic bomb was conceived as a fiction first that then inspired scientists and war makers.

      one of the earliest science fictions, the novella “La Mort de la Terre” (the death of the earth), by the French writer J-H Rosny aine, imagined the end of humanity as a result of the gradual disappearance of water from the planet. it is a surprisingly moving and memorable novel, published around 1909, and worth revisiting.

      “L’homme capta jusqu’à la force mystérieuse qui a assemblée les atomes. Cette frénésie annonçait la Mort de la Terre.” (Mankind harnessed everything right down to the mysterious force that bound together the atom. This frenzy heralded the Death of the Earth.)

      1. Aquifer

        Hmm, rather like those attempts to create “mini black holes” …

        The horror, the horror – all wrapped up in that cleanest, most pristine of sciences …

    2. YesMaybe

      Definitely. That’s why this one is perfect: . It has the simplicity and minimalism (and the floor and walls look pretty clean), but without the hellfire missiles. It did seem like the odd one out in that gallery, though.

  13. leftover

    Re: Dump picking in Montana…
    This wasn’t the usual “dump picking” as the Billings Gazette article points out. “[T]hough it was common knowledge that some scavenging has always taken place,” this was “truckloads of stuff” that included “high-end sporting goods, electronics and guns”… recovered from one train derailment after being “found to be damaged or whose ownership could not be determined.”

    The city put out 300-gallon trash containers — like the big ones the city places in alleys — at the landfill, asking workers accused of scavenging to return the merchandise to the containers, Mumford said. Eight or nine containers have been filled already, he said.
    [emphasis added]

    Not knowing exactly what was taken, it’s impossible to determine wether those city employees, who make $18-20 dollars an hour…not your average “dump picker”…in Montana anyway…are actually returning what was taken. But they won’t be charged with any crime because the stuff had been determined to be worthless.

    Re: Charter school polls in Washington state…
    The link to the quote is broken. I assume it’s to Diane Ravitch’s Blog and her latest post on the subject.
    Possibly related…same sex marriage, Referendum 74, is polling 55-40 in favor, and legal, as in recreational legal, marijuana, (Initiative 502) is polling 57-33 in favor. Maybe them old bourgeois hippies in Washington state need to back off the bong for a few minutes and figure out WTF is really going on with I-1240.

    Re: Round Two…
    Headlines about the exposed Debate Commission contract include “Lame Rules” and “Sniveling Cowards.” I think the best headline about the debate itself was “Rope-A-Dope Revives the Hope.” Although the author really isn’t that clear about who “The Dope” actually is, she attributes the “knockout blow” to Obama. But I don’t think she correctly quotes the referee, so her “knockout blow” may have been just a standing eight-count.

    1. Brindle

      Re Billings,MT. I remember when passing through Billings some years ago there was a Mexican restaraunt called “Dos Machos”, which basically translates as the “Two Studs”.

  14. Walter Wit Man

    Can someone show me why Golden Dawn is “fascist” or “neo-Nazi?” Golden Dawn denies being “neo-Nazi.” Even if Golden Dawn can be characterized as national socialist, which I’m not sure about, they would still not be “fascist” necessarily.

    Golden Dawn is being smeared by the press.

    It’s a gross misrepresentation to make it seem like Golden Dawn is the only Greece group worried about immigration. The ruling socialist democratic party instituted the new immigration programs (which the main conservative group supports as well), yet the West is making it seem like this is all about Golden Dawn.

    Plus, Greece has reason to be concerned about immigration. Plus, even these ‘harsher’ methods aren’t are actually better than the way the U.S. treats immigrants, for instance. So Golden Dawn is no worse than American conservatives or even Obama who has deported 1.4 million.

    Oh, and Anonymous is a perp organization so that was most likely an intelligence agent that tried to get the group to attack Golden Dawn. Just like the calls to violence one sees on the internet to attack Golden Dawn people/property in the U.S. That should make one realize they are on the wrong side in this dispute.

    [btw, I made comments in another thread here, where I linked to media stories in the West about the new detention center for immigrants awaiting deportation in Greece and they are gone now. I also had links that showed the other mainstream parties in Greece had the same positions on immigration as Golden Dawn.]

      1. Ned Ludd

        I’ve run into this in the past. Any idea how many links are acceptable, before triggering the spam filter? Is it a variable number, or is there some safe number we should stay under?

        1. Valissa

          I used to think the limit was 3 links, but then I realized I could do 5. Haven’t tried to do more than that, though. Also, some URLs automatically cause your comment to be moderated or even dumped entirely. Perhaps a little overkill there, but that’s better than under-moderating.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Are you nuts? Go read the Guardian article, they are beating gays and going after “immigrants” who are people of Greek descent but moved to Greece after their childhood.

      You’ve just lost all credibility with this one. People from Greece and the Greek community in Astoria (think they don’t have relatives back in Greece giving them reports) describe them as fascist. It was international news WITH A VIDEO that a GD member punched out a woman in Parliament. And you are gonna support this out of a perverse sense of contrarianism?

      1. Elliot

        I had to scroll back up to read, w the w is on my personal ignore list, don’t know if he’s nuts but he is pro-fascist, possibly pro Neo nazi, from previous comments (hence the ignore list position).

        re: food counterfeiting: the USDA now has an online database of food frauds, searchable by adulterated/fraudulent item or adulterant, interesting/sickening reading.

  15. Walter Wit Man

    Another one of my links that got erased shows that it was WordPress that shut down Golden Dawn’s website:

    The Jewish group in New York (described in the story above) is also trying to censor Golden Dawn.

    So now that Golden Dawn has a new website Anonymous is taking the blame.

    Ha. Pretty obvious screw job going on. Wonder what why Golden Dawn is so dangerous to TPTB . . . I’m betting it has to do with stiffing foreign creditors . . .

    1. Caleb

      Censorship is censorship. Everyone should have a voice, from the bankers to the Nazis to the Commies. We can sort out who is right and who is wrong.

      Saw Yves and Matt Taibi on Moyers, man she is a smart cookie.
      That guy is so young for being so good.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Recent Stunning Collapse in Buseness Confidence.

    Yet, yesterday we were told consumers were more confident.

    And today, they say new housing starts are up 15% in September.

    Why are consumers confident?

    Is it because they

    1. discovered a nearby planet similar in size as ours? A possible future vacation destination? That does make one more optimistic.

    2. are better treated when they enter Canada illegally? Better treated, as in, they are not interrogated by border agents? If they enter illegally, they can skip all those probing questions?

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Presidential debates.

    A presidential contest should be like a decathlon.

    Contestants should compete in the following events:

    1. money raising – how many lbs of $100 bills can you lift?

    2. singing/dancing – we don’t want presidents who sing badly

    3. handshaking contest – here voters can see who is more sincere by the the grip frimness

    4. Swimming – not to be confused with swimsuit competition

    5. wrestling – a physically fit presidnet is important

    6. gardening – the tradition is who grows the biggest lemon

    7. livestock management – here, it’s who raises the biggest turkey

    8 debate – who can recite better lines pre-selected?

    9. impromptu poetry/haiku contest – subject to be given at the last minute…it could be, how to serve one’s four year term living like a 99%er(meaning cooking one’s own meals and doing one’s own dishes), or should the White House be converted to condos and renamed the White Condos? Compose a haiku or a poem in iambic pentamenter to impress us.

    10. BBQ contest. A chance to show the world that we don’t eat raw meat, that we’re civilized. This one might be replaced by a salad tossing contest in the future though.

  18. George Phillies

    Presidential Debate Moderators…
    The candidates seem to have forgotten that the debate was run by the Commission, not the Campaigns, and that the moderator was obeying the commission’s rules, not whatever deals the campaigns cut. Thus, there were for all practical purpoes followup questions.

    1. Ms G

      Well, except for that clause in the contract nixing follow up questions. Unless the Commission decided to violate the contract, of course. Adding: not sure what “for all intents and purposes” there were follow up questions means at this point. EIther there were or there weren’t.

    2. Aquifer

      Hmmm, i thought the Commission was a vehicle (Hummer?) of the DnRs, which in turn run the duopoly’s campaigns …

      Commission, campaigns, what’s the difference? A fig leaf set up to make sure 3rd parties are excluded and the duopoly ain’t embarrassed by a potential for too much (any?) truth …

      That pesky League of Women Voters wanted REAL debates … huh, just like a woman, hard to satisfy – and the boys just weren’t up to it ….

      1. different clue

        I thought I remembered that it was a joint conspiracy by the two brand name parties and the big three networks which agreed to exclude the League of Women Voters from any presence in televised PrezNominee debates. I thought I remember reading that the DNC coconspirator was named (forget first name) Kirk.

  19. alex

    “Crazy Gross Internet Troll Caves … Look, they’ve finally found out where some of the worst commenters at Naked Capitalism live.”

    Such hypocrisy! The inhabitants are clearly reducing waste by recycling and re-purposing a variety of objects, and not wasting our precious resources on things like paint (a product of the energy intensive and highly energy and petroleum hungry chemical industry).

    Also, why is there no picture of my basement?

    1. Aquifer

      Hmm, i thought i recognized mine …

      Oops, just spilled the beans – wait, I think those are in there, too!

  20. Herman Sniffles

    When WalMart starts selling those cute Chinese inflatable dolls, I wonder if the Chinese companies will model the export units on female WalMart customers? You could put seats in them and use them as rubber rafts.

    1. ambrit

      Mr. Sniffles;
      Re. “model the export units on female Wal Mart customers.” Who says they don’t already? Take a close look at the Wal Mart customers and see the demographics of this, our own great Immigrant Nation. Much more interesting to read were the observations about life within the Peoples Republic, the basic social conservatism and its effects. Even the Emperor Mao learned how hard it is to shift a culture thousands of years old. My point? Don’t expect the Chinese to act like anything else but Chinese.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Yet, a lot of what the Chinese think of as Chinese is actually foreign.

        Buddhism, for example.

        I think the Chinese thought they perfected brass making back way in the Shang/Zhou dynasties and taught the technique to southeast Asians. It turned out that people in what is Thailand today were more advanced, though I am not sure if the brass pieces were not done by the Thais who actually came from Central China originally.

        1. Ms G

          The Great Wall of China is offended by the Western Corporate Phrase “Chinese Wall” to denote flimsy, fictitious and inoperative by design, separations between parts of businesses that should not be exchanging information.

  21. scraping_by

    RE: Stockman on Bain.

    Stockman bases his whole argument on the Biblical principle, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

    The idea that the Fed leaving money lying around immediately translates to looting leaves out a few steps. Providing the means for control fraud doesn’t insure control fraud. It doesn’t even insure that weasels like Bain are going to have the means to commit control fraud.

    If the people giving out loans demanded integrity, then the money would have been used with integrity. Destroying companies for profit would have been repellant to anyone outside the Pen. The fact they apparently had no trouble leveraging doesn’t speak well for the guardians of the purse.

    Oh, and driving down interest (rent on money) leads to balance sheet larceny is a little far fetched, too. Trying to create return by stealing everything not tied down is still stealing.

    Complaining that Greenspan let them have more money than they could morally handle is a little rich, too. He was by his own admission, an employee of the speculators. He was grateful to them for support in the years he was out of public office. He was an apostle of the batshit crazy idea of business self-regulation. He wasn’t alone, nor even strange for his group.

    In all, the claim that there was too much money to not weasel just doesn’t work. It’s the old con’s defense, “If you didn’t want me to do it, you should have stopped me.”

  22. Keith

    I really wonder at anyone why anyone is surprised at the support by the Greek Orthodox Church for Golden Dawn. Religious organizations have long supported fascist and right-wing movements. Look at the relationship between the Catholic Church and Franco for example and Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. Similar alliances all of them.

  23. Caleb

    About OWS and Golden Dawn:

    Immigrant labor is the fulcrum that the powers that be use to destroy the ability of labor to demand a livable wage. It
    It seems strange that OWS, an organization that I
    support, would become a bunch of handwringers for the
    human worker ants from anywhere that are helping to
    destroy the Middle Class in North America.

    These folks belong in Central America where they should overthrow their own corrupt governments. Leave America to Americans who can overthrow our own government without being stymied by an endless supply of scabs.

    I don’t give a crap about Golden Dawn. It looks like OWS is now being used to help the international job destroyers and purveyors of the economic and the cultural race to the
    bottom. No one apparently according to them is supposed to have a coherent culture or economy.

  24. RobM

    “The Obama vs. The Romney Round II. Or rather, Millard Fillmore vs. James Buchanan; two mediocrities wholly unequal to the challenges of their time.”
    Priceless comparsion

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