Links 12/18/12

‘Master Computer Controls Universe?’ Mark Thoma. If so, whatever subroutine involves the human race has a bad bug and needs a patch, pronto. This does hew to my pet theory that this plane of existence is theater, whether for “us” and other reasonably sentient beings (and Planet Earth is an E-ticket ride) or outside observers. Let’s face it, eternity would probably be boring otherwise.

Group Launches to Encourage Transparency & Aggressive Journalism, Help WikiLeaks Survive Blockade Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

Writer of ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’ Blog Post Criticized as Unfit Mother with Own History of Violent Tendencies, Mental Illness Gawker

Rape Case Unfolds on Web and Splits City New York Times

Don’t Believe the Gasoline Hype Oil Price

Maritime tribunal orders Ghana to set Argentina’s Libertad frigate free Guardian. So it looks like Argentina has won its latest round in its battle with hedgie Paul Singer. Despite his appellate court victory, his effort to impound the Libertard as part of his payment may have been thwarted. Anna Gelpern of Credit Slips argues Ghana will probably comply but that is not certain.

Bundesbank’s downside forecast MacroBusiness

Senator John Kerry Sold His Soul to Be Secretary of State Kabul Press (nathan)

The media discover the ‘chained CPI’ – And the more they dig, the rougher it looks Columbia Journalism Review (nathan)

Reporter: Fiscal cliff ‘brinksmanship’ over due to Newtown shooting Raw Story. Huh? I think this merely means we have some short-term civility. If a deal isn’t done by Christmas (and with the need to corral the Dem and Republican rank and file, that timing would seem to be aggressive), it would seem likely to see both sides revert to form once the Newtown news cycle is more or less over.

Obama makes a substantial counteroffer on fiscal deadline Los Angeles Times. Obama’s is living up to his track record: when he wants a deal, he will give whatever it takes.

Obama Biographer Stands by Comparison of Newtown Speech to Gettysburg New York Magazine. Lambert: “More ludicrous hagiography.” I hope someone is compiling a list of this North-Korea-style leader worship.

Is Obama a Man of Destiny? SF Gate. More of same, amplifies movie Lincoln’s open positioning as Obama messaging. Gah.

When it Comes to the Fed and Jobs, Robert Samuelson Is Worried About Inflation and Martians Dean Baker, Firedoglake

The Doomsday Gene or Just Awful Trading? Cassandra. FWIW, despite my decidedly gloomy views, the family portfolio I run has managed to beat cash by a few percent for the last couple of years, basically due to putting on little in the way of risky bets, and having decent asset allocation strategies (which means the bad bets have been offset by better ones) and frankly inertia (as in every time I thought of putting on a trade, I waited until the mood passed. Since I despise trading, I never had to wait very long). Since I think the #1 rule of running money is don’t ever lose principal, I deem this to be a fine, if not impressive, outcome. I’ve basically sat pat because I have no idea when things will go bad, although I am pretty convinced they will in due course (there is just too much criminality and super low rates greatly facilitate blowing new asset bubbles).

NYSE Volume Chart is Deceptively Informative Big Picture

Banks Seek a Shield in Mortgage Rules New York Times

US Business Confidence Surges, Even As Fiscal Cliff Uncertainty Jumps Clusterstock. I assume this is big business confidence, since small business confidence plunged last month. The hiring plans index particularly suggests that (as in it points to an improvement in hiring plans, when the small businesses, who drive employment, said the reverse). A late post at Clusterstock contends that businesses are shrugging off the fiscal cliff as they believe a deal will get done soon enough to prevent disruption. However, it also shows an increase in capex plans, and if that comes to fruition that would likely have a favorable impact in due course on smaller businesses. What I still fail to understand is how these businessmen think a contraction in the Federal deficit, which is what a budget deal will presumably produce for 2013, will lead to better business conditions. But I guess we’ll have to go a few months into 2013 for the delusion to wear off. Recall that in 2011 and 2012 we had favorable growth readings in the first few months of the year peter out.

Millions live on $2 a day in America. The problem isn’t just the safety net, it’s the whole economy Daily Kos (Carol B)

Morgan Stanley fined over Facebook IPO Financial Times. Pathetic. IIRC their underwriting revenues were $1 billion v. a $5 million fine. However, this is one state, so more may be in the offing.

The Second Great Betrayal: Obama and Cameron Decide that Banks are above the Law Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs to Get Its Way in Mexico New York Times. This is a great investigative piece.

Robots confusing economists MacroBusiness

Antidote du jour:

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  1. CB

    Ambassadorships have gone to big dollar supporters for as long as I can remember. It’s part of politics and it’s why the embassy is always staffed by pros–so the “ambassador” doesn’t screw up irremediably. Does no one else remember Annenberg as the ambassador to the Court of St James?

    It’s either ignorant or dishonest to write as if the sale of high status positions is recent.

    1. Teejay

      Don’t forget April Glaspie green lighting Saddam’s Kuwait invasion and her subsequent muzzeling by the Bush 41 administration.

      1. CB

        My reading said April was a professional doing the bidding of the Bush administration–until it turned out badly and then, of course, she took the hit. The Bush threw her under the proverbial bus, which is, let’s face it, a job hazard that goes with the embassy territory. Goes with a lot of jobs: the lower downs take the hits for the higher ups. SOP in the financial services industry.

    2. Anonymous

      Oh, that’s okay, then? I beg to differ. Selling off ambassadorships may always be a factor, depending on who a president’s supporters are. But those of us with memories recall that GHW Bush (Bush 1) generated a minor firestorm by selling off almost every ambassadorship to contributors/cronies and shutting out the experienced Foreign Service. That firestorm implies that such blatant practices are not normal, or at least were not normal in those long ago days.

      While it was true that one or two people who combined extremist credentials with diplomatic charm did serve, the appalling foreign policy of Bush’s term was far from business as usual.

    3. Aquifer

      C’mon – give the Kabul Press a break, do you expect them to know the entire sordid history of American “statescraft”?

  2. CaitlinO

    I have no idea whether Nancy Lanza was an end of the economic order survivalist collecting guns in prep for that event, but surely we don’t need to marginalize her for homeschooling her autistic son and battling the school system.

    As the mom of a child with a learning disorder, I learned that battling the school district and homeschooling are, sadly, often required to ensure that our children receive the education they need. Failure to provide a free and appropriate education is probably the most common, overt form of civil rights violation occuring today. I have read that parents of children with disabilities are the fastest growing group of homeschoolers and may already outnumber those who homeschool for religious reasons.

    We beat ourselves bloody trying to get the Grapevine/Colleyville school district to provide our boy with remediation for dyslexia, remediation which is well understood, widely available and proven to be effective over years of study. And we failed. After flourishing in a Montessori pre-school, he entered Kindergarten at his grade level in reading and ahead of his grade in math. By December of third grade, he was 18 months behind grade level in every skill tested. We provided the school with an assessment done at our expense at a local, highly respected private school for dyslexics showing that his pattern of scores clearly supported a diagnosis of classic dyslexia. They still refused to provide a dyslexia remediation program as written and as required by the state of Texas Education Authority.

    We ended up pulling him from school, paying for private remediation ourselves and homeschooling to close the gap that developed in his first few years in elementary school. He returned to public school in sixth grade and is on target to graduate with his class.

    The cost of all this, private remediation and the interruption in my career, was borne by us.

    Nancy Lanza clearly made a terrible, tragic error by having automatic weapons in her home, accessible to her disturbed son, but to cite homeschooling as an indication of parenting malpractice is a failure to understand the realities of parents raising children with learning challenges.

    1. ambrit

      Dear CaitlinO;
      Good for you! We too home schooled, but for more ‘anti-traditional’ reasons. We too had to battle the local school board. The issue we were told, on ‘background,’ was money. Every home schooled child in the district meant less money coming in from the Feds. We, needless to say, weren’t offered any of this money to help defray the expenses. It got so nasty that at one point, the school board requested that the State send a ‘specialist’ over to our rural home to investigate the living conditions, etc. A very professional woman from Baton Rouge showed up unannounced one weekday morning and proceeded to look around, interact with the kids, and ask questions. She got the grand tour; including the kids artwork, study corner, vegetable patches, etc. I met her in the afternoon when I came home from work. She said she’d had a good day, enjoyed lunch, and that; “You’ll not be hearing from us any more.”
      Since the homeschooling laws in Louisiana were written by a “Born Again” State Representative from North Louisiana, as you can guess, the majority of the Homeschoolers back then, the 1980’s, were religious folks. We were part of the fringe at that time. Philosophical Hippies, we made common cause with the religious, and the few handicapped child families involved then. This was before the Religious groups became enamoured of the idea of becoming Society
      The bottom line is: We all want our children to become well rounded, independent thinking individuals. Any self respecting person wants that. Stay the course. It’s worth the effort.
      “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members.”
      Ralph Waldo Emerson

      1. Aquifer

        Whether that “conspiracy” is worth joining, or fighting, methinks, depends on the definition of “manhood” being opposed by it …

        I’ve seen a few definitions of “manhood” that would be worth joining a conspiracy to oppose …

      2. CaitlinO

        Thanks for the comments, Ambrit. Homeschooling is definitely a journey. While I treasure the extra time I was able to spend with our son in the two and a half years it took to complete dyslexia remediation and close the academic gap that had developed during his early elementary years, the monetary cost was significant.

        Luckily, there was no interference from the school district, no monitoring, inspections etc. The state of Texas lost a significant homeschooling case a number of years ago and now leaves homeschoolers alone. The Home Schooling Legal Defense Association ( was an invaluable information source for all homeschooling ins and outs. Interestingly, their focus was almost exclusively oriented toward the religious when I first started on this but they began including more and more articles for those teaching learning disabled kids as time passed reflecting, accurately I believe, the changing demographics of homeschoolers.

        There’s still a stigma, though, as you can see at the end of the article on Lisa Long, Adam Lanza’s “mom.”

      1. ambrit

        Yea and verily, speaking any of the Native Amerind tongues at school got you sent off to re-education centres.
        Another quote from Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

        1. psychohistorian

          Thanks for the complete quote. I had forgotten it.

          It certainly shows that a more reasoned perspective on the world has existed for a long time…..the hobgoblins of little minds….a feature brought to you by the global inherited rich and the sick social system they have created for us.

  3. rjs

    RE: The media discover the ‘chained CPI’ – And the more they dig, the rougher it looks;

    the idea is that CPI doesnt adequately allow for adjustments or substitutions consumers might make; for instance, if beef went up in price, one might buy chicken…of course, that aint to say that chicken wont become too expensive for senior citizens next year, forcing them to substitute dog food for their daily protein ration the next adjustment…

    so what is the justification of including social security cuts in this fiscal cliff deal?

    it’s an independent program paying monthly rations from its own trust fund which is replenished from its own revenue stream, and its issues are two decades away…

    1. tom allen

      Since before his inauguration, Obama has been saying he wants to cut — oh, sorry, “preserve” — Social Security. By doing it this way, Democrats get to slash the New Deal safety net and can try to blame it on Republicans. There’s no rational reason to include it, as you say.

    2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      I’d think there would be a problem with the chained CPI “zero bound”, especially once they inflate away the purchasing power of your ZIRP yield savings outside of SS.

      There would be no more economic gain once seniors are all living in mudhuts and eating mudpies.

    3. Aquifer

      Well, we have to make sure that the Obama voters get what they voted for – thanx folks!,0,1337177,full.story

      “The White House sees the president’s challenge as a matter of capitalizing on his reelection victory, convincing not only Republicans but also wary Democrats that Obama has a mandate to negotiate a deal that raises taxes on the wealthy and also cuts spending on entitlements. ……..

      When Obama ventures out of the White House to talk about the budget, he is broadcasting a subtle message to rank-and-file Democrats, as well as the Republicans he is trying to pressure: When a deal is reached, he can sell it to the American people.”

      THAT’S what winning means, being able to claim a mandate for whatever your program is, especially when you have telegraphed it … folks need to have that tattooed on their foreheads “voting = mandate” and they ought to look in the mirror before they go to the polls …

      1. TK421

        But what about all the people who “held their nose” while they voted for Obama, who cast their ballot for him with “deep reservations? Doesn’t that count for anything??????

  4. fresno dan

    ‘Master Computer Controls Universe?’ Mark Thoma. If so, whatever subroutine involves the human race has a bad bug and needs a patch, pronto

    I’m sure Microsoft is right on it…


      Yves…YOU GOT IT!

      “This does hew to my pet theory that this plane of existence is theater, whether for “us” and other reasonably sentient beings (and Planet Earth is an E-ticket ride) or outside observers. Let’s face it, eternity would probably be boring otherwise.

      This is the Highest Knowledge. The visible world is the play of Lila.

      1. Tiresias

        A Master Computer running the Universe would, of necessity, not be limited by the laws of physics written into the program it was running and, hence, would be as unknowable to us as is ‘God’, whatever you understand by that term.

        The only difference between positing a Master Computer running the Universe and every religion ever invented is that, presumably’ a Master Computer would not have a ‘God-like’ power to deviate arbitrarily from its own programming in order to, eg, stop the sun and moon in order to give more time for an invading army to carry out a genocide.

        1. Aquifer

          But what about those computer programs that can learn and program themselves? What about fuzzy logic (is this anything like hair-brained, or is it hare-braned, I forget, logic?)?

          Does fuzzy logic have a sense of humor, as in “fuzzy wuzzy was a bear …..”?

          And if the Master Computer has no sense of humor, how the hell did we wind up with Uranus? or “silly quarks”?

    2. prostratedragon

      “Let’s face it, eternity would probably be boring otherwise.”

      Te-heh, heh. There’s an old warhorse musical setting of the Lrd’s Pay- that was popular back in the day. It built to a climax over the last “for thin” phrase, reaching a screeching fff on the word for-E-E-E-Ver!!

      To my juvenile ear, that one word was the point of the whole exercise. At odd moments when a time measure is needed, I hear it still …

    1. OrThis

      More useful: a CapVax for Wall Street traders and corporate “free market” fundamentalists. I would have a said a MilVax for military fundamentalists, but I think greed and lust for money and power are the underlying drivers for that type of silliness. And time’s running out for the CapVax, as it appears it’s about to kill its host. Virulent mo’ fo’, that CapFlu.

  5. ex-PFC Chuck

    . . my pet theory that this plane of existence is theater, whether for “us” and other reasonably sentient beings (and Planet Earth is an E-ticket ride) or outside observers. Let’s face it, eternity would probably be boring otherwise.

    I love your eschatology! It makes a lot more sense than that of the mainstream religion with which I grew up.

    1. El Snarko

      Yves, Yves…you are too optimistic on the matter of ‘eternity’. Pilkington is correct. Just as in high school we thought there was such a thing as an adult world featuring “subject supposed to know” individuals and were disappointed when that was shown to be more of the same, so too eternity. It’s almost certainly infinite variations of this played out before a court in cosmic jest. We are unpaid actors on a cable network showing the galactic version of the Borgias. In the end they merge with Goldman and buy out the Vatican.

    2. curlydan

      Yves: “Let’s face it, eternity would probably be boring otherwise”. Eternity will be boring if the Christian heaven is what is in store. It’s a pity Pascal couldn’t recognize it.

      There is no good without bad, so existing in an all good “heaven” for eternity will grow into a dull monotone existence in an infinitessimally short period of time as “all good” fades to everyday ho hum without any bad popping up.

      In this sense, I don’t think the Christian heaven is that different from the Buddhist Nirvana. Nirvana translated means “extinguish the flame”, so attaining Nirvana is to exist in that constant, non-burning state.

      It’s not so bad. If you believe in re-birth, then after living countless lives of yearning and searching, maybe extinguishing the flame is for the best.

        1. Aquifer

          Thanx for the citation – have the videos for that series, a classic. Methinks it would help greatly if Campbell’s work was a requirement in all curricula ….

          His work informs much of my thinking …

  6. LeeAnne

    Reporter: Fiscal cliff ‘brinksmanship’ over due to Newtown shooting

    so, in Washington nothing can happen in the world to interfere with their reality creating. It is orders: all eyes on stirring up the crazies to concentrate the press and media on gun confiscation. The more violence the better.

    If you had any doubts about government involvement in recent massacres of innocents, and the strategies involved, those doubts should be clearing up about now.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “People will long remember what Barack Obama said in Newtown … his Gettysburg address … “

      Hey, today’s the last Terror Tuesday before Christmas!

      You reckon the drone strikes that blow up the hovels of little brown kids in Pakistan and Yemen might be toned down in light of the recent tragedy?

      Nahhh … from the POV of a high-functioning Depublicrat sociopath, one blood sacrifice deserves another … and another still.

      How else are you gonna get airtime for your ‘own private Gettysburg’?

      1. Aquifer

        Next Tues the group will dress as Santa’s elves and pull out of his bag the missiles with the names of those who will get their “presents” delivered on the 26th …

  7. Klassy!

    re:Obama’s speech.
    I read the transcript, and while it is mercifully free of the usual manageralese that clogs his speeches, it is still empty words from an empty suit. He speaks of doing better for our children. Does this mean he will abandon the depraved Race to the Top, because if it is a race there have to be losers as well as winners. What? Is it never to early for children to be indoctrinated with our dog eat dog ethos?
    Shall we see him return to his campaign pledge of 2008 and fight to raise the minimum wage or are we to remain resigned to the fact that some workers are disposable and by extension, so are their children.
    Here, Mr.President– just a few suggestions for your consideration. I know the idea of you considering them is pure fantasy. I imagine at best we’ll get something about “improved access to mental health services” and at worst “tackling the deficit so that future generations won’t be burdened”.

    1. Montanamaven

      Yes, only some jocks would come up with a name for education like “Race to the Top”. Education is a journey, not a race. And was is the “top”? Being a savvy businessman aka crook? And yes, make sure parents are paid a living wage so the children aren’t hungry and are economically SAFE! Oh, this makes me blue.

      1. Butch in Waukegan

        The Democrat running for congress here in northern IL sent out a flyer just before the election. The front page had this blurb:

        I’m running to rebuilding our middle class – a middle class where families have a chance to get ahead again, where everyone has an opportunity to make it big.

        He won.

        Maybe now I’ll have “a chance” to parlay my Social Security into “an opportunity to make it big!”

        1. Klassy!

          “where everyone has an opportunity to make it big!”.
          Was that campaign pledge lifted from the state lottery commission web site?

    2. LeeAnne

      Its clear to me that anything Obama does has the purpose of advancing the Banana Republic of US agenda; complete with tyrannical oppression and poverty for all but loyal cronies.

      So, let us pray …

    1. Aquifer

      Can someone explain to me the appeal of the show “Dexter” whose hero, so i understand, is a psychopath who only kills bad guys? I don’t watch it but i know folks who do …

        1. ambrit

          Dear Klassy;
          You nailed it. A classic Robin Hood semi-super hero ‘protector of the weak’ fantasy revenge inferiority complex compensation myth.
          Now, why oh why are such stories perennially popular? Could it be, Human Nature?

      1. invient

        I think the appeal is a disproportionate response to injustice… Instead of courts being used to prosecute murders/rapists/serial killers, Dexter comes in and acts as judge, jury, and executioner…

        In the process of providing this service that the justice department is unable to provide, he gets his rocks off, allowing him to not murder normal people. In the end, he is selfish, and tries to justify his actions by the above reasoning… He knows what he does is wrong, and is ready for when SHTF, as it pretty much is in the current season…

        That may be another reason why people like to watch Dexter. Watching a person find a way to live with their addiction, rather than overcoming it.

        I watch it off and on… just my 2 cents.

        1. Aquifer

          So what does this say about us that that a show with a psychopathic killer as “hero” gets enough ratings to stay on the air?

          i really do wonder if folks who like Dexter were, in fact, primed to accept Obama as “Droner in Chief” …

          Is the idea of administering “justice” outside the “justice system” OK, or OK only if done by a psychopath? The idea that “only” a psychopath would do it coupled with the idea that it “must be done” because our “system” is apparently incapable of doing it become not only justification, but encouragement, for electing/appointing psychopaths to positions of power?

          1. Neo-Realist

            Good looking articulate white males who just happen to be serial killers like Dexter are ok with the audience. After all, Ted Bundy received love letters while incarcerated. He works for the police and his Daddy taught him to kill under a proper “moral code”. Moral Psychopathy with a pretty face sells.

            And for what appears to be comic relief, there’s a character that appears to be a Charlie Chan homage.

            I’m also one who occasionally watches.

          2. Bill the Psychologist

            “So what does this say about us that that a show with a psychopathic killer as “hero” gets enough ratings to stay on the air?”

            This is not new. Remember the incredible popularity of The Sopranos, the show that humanized psychopathic mobsters ?

            I know it sounds terribly self-righteous but I refused to watch it on the grounds that it was fundamentally immoral.

            Same with Dexter, though I watch other violent TV. Hey, I’m Amerrrcun, we were founded on violence…..

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            One advantage of being a Neo-Neanderthalist is to be totally ignorant of that is being discussed there.

          4. ambrit

            Dear MLTPB;
            “Neo-Neanderthalist?” If the evidence coming out of the digs in Spain pans out, we will all realize that we all carry Neanderthal genes. (Then someone will establish guidelines for Neanderthalism blood lines and send them to the Camps out on the Nebraska plains.) “Your DNA Analysis Card please!” “But officer, I..” “Well then. Please step over here to the ‘Waiting Area’ while we run your stats by the Federal Database. Next!”

      2. Wendy

        It is like The Sopranos in that it explores the humanity of those who do evil things. I think it is quite lefty in that way – to remind us that killers and other people who do evil things, deliberately, are still human, and not just some one-dimensional non-human monster.
        Part of the premise of Dexter is he does not kill innocent people, so simply for this reason, he and Obama are miles apart. Not that I could ever condone or do murder. But I don’t think the show glorifies it, fwiw.

        1. Aquifer

          And we know they are “guilty”, why? Because some “authority”, in this case the writer, says they are – we got to “watch” the crime being committed – so of course when some other “respected” authority figure says someone is guilty – it’s OK to whack ’em? Dexter takes it upon himself to be judge, jury and executioner – and that is acceptable to his audience. THAT is what i find quite chilling, frankly. Dexter as God ….

          1. ambrit

            Dear Aquifer;
            I see it as an attempt to come to terms with the capricious and corrupt system that calls itself the Justice System. I’ve never seen it, we don’t do cable, so will pass on the ‘merits’ of its production values.
            “Dexter as God” is indeed chilling. That’s a show. Obama as God, now, that’s downright sickening. It’s ‘real’ life.
            Is it any wonder the audience roots for the ‘Bad Guys?’

          2. Aquifer

            Yes – a coming to terms with it, not by cleaning it up but by dispensing with it entirely ….

            i think that is what I was trying to get at – shows like this greasing the way for “real life” – killing is quite alright as long as it is the “guilty” who are killed – and who gets to decide who those “guilty” are?

      3. Lee

        It’s an absurdist comic soap opera, albeit a very dark one. As to premise and content, it bears comparison with the likes of the film The Hospital. Alas, the series has become repetitive and predictable and therefore less and less interesting.

        As to why such content is appealing, it may be related to the basis of much humor and playfulness, which consists of mock threat and aggression producing first alarm then cathartic relief.

        Another source of amusement can be had from imagining the herculean efforts the actors’ must employ in order to deliver their ridiculous lines without laughing.

  8. craazyman

    The Doomsday Gene

    This is what we’ve all been waiting for! The final capitulation of skepticism. The cautious rationalization of wild irrationality.

    Now’s the time to go big into UVXY! Everything you’ve got, just plow it in there. On margin, hopefully.

    I admit it’s been a bloodbath for longs and I know it goes to zero, mathematically speaking. But I see it doubling in 60 days, or less. Maybe 65 days. Soon, in any event.

    I hope I can bring myself to act on this wisdom. I probably won’t be able to, because I might be geneticaly constrained to caution. But hopefully somebody will, and let us know how it goes. I’ll be happy for you. No schadenfraude from me when I see you quit your job and hit the beach with your surfboard sticking out the window of your new Porsche.

  9. jsmith

    Regarding computer simulation:

    Wow, so instead of God we’ll replace the origin of the universe with God’s computer. Kewel!! This sure isn’t a waste of resources and time.

    Regarding the ME:

    Israel considering attack on Syria.

    “[Israeli ambassador to the US]Oren said that Assad’s fall would be a boon to Israel and the Middle East, even if radical Islamists did try to fill the vacuum left by his departure. He said, “There’s the possibility that you’ll have Sunni extremist elements who will try to come to the fore. Our opinion is that any situation would be better than the current situation,” in which the Syrian regime has a strategic alliance with Iran and the Lebanese Shiite Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah.”

    Wow, it’s nice for the Israeli ambassador to finally and openly admit that it’s always been Israel’s plan to destroy the sovereignity of Middle Eastern countries and turn them into terrorist hell-holes much like what Iraq has become since the neocon-inspired invasion of that country.

    And just so that everyone is clear that apartheid genocidal Israel is enacting its “final push” in regards to the Palestinians:

    Israel moves ahead with 1,500 more homes in East Jerusalem on top of the 3,000 it already committed to after the Palestinian bid for statehood.

    1. jsmith

      Oh and one last one for Christmas cheer:

      It appears that the Israeli embassy posted a picture of Mary and Joseph with this caption.

      “A thought for Christmas… If Jesus and mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought…”

      1. jsmith

        Sorry, that would be Mary and Jesus – not Joseph – y’know that dude who was crucified by the Romans and the Jews.

        My bad.

        Hmmm, maybe someone should pen an critical essay something along the lines of:

        “Israel and Adam Lanza: Case Studies in Lost Moorings”

        1. jsmith

          Having taken the time to think through such an essay here are a few of my main subthreads:

          1) Both Israel and Lanza are/were products of the violent and fascist militarized American society, its government and propaganda battery.

          Hmm, where did Israel and Lanza learn/become imbued with such violent disregard for the law and common human decency?

          2) Both the situations with Israel and Lanza are/were aided and abetted by two of the most powerful political lobbies in the U.S. so much so that even in the face of the most egregious criminality nothing is ever/will be done to ameliorate said situations.

          Now’s not the time – never is, really – to talk about gun control OR the actions “our greatest ally”, right?

          3) Both Israel and Lanza purposefully and indiscriminately murder children and others in the most defenseless areas of a community.

          Feel free to add your own.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      jsmith, this one’s for you:

      “We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. the weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria, and Sinai.”
      (David Ben-Gurion, May 1946 to the General Staff, from “Ben-Gurion: A Biography” by Michael Ben-Zohar (Delacorte, New York, 1978)
      MORE, including select quotations from Jabotinsky et al., AT:
      CONNECT with PNAC for full comprehension.

    1. psychohistorian

      I think the modus operandi of our politicians is to take advantage of the current “crisis” about guns and while the media flogs that endlessly, behind the scenes the great betrayal will happen on SS.

      It is the perfect cover.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thanks for your comment. Agree. They are clearly living the credo of Obama’s former chief of staff and current Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, “Never waste a good crisis.”

        Fascinating and telling to watch the GE-Comcast owned CNBC media complex (with their “strategic partner” Yahoo Finance) breathlessly running minute by minute updates and opinion on the so called “fiscal cliff”, coupled with market moves that appear choreographed and coordinated with the “News” releases… as though there is some sort of true crisis.

        In this manufactured setting the hype is truly hyper, and as Marshall McLuhan said, “The media is the message.”

        One of the things that clearly needs to occur if we are to restore a healthy democracy is to break up concentration of corporate-owned media in so few hands.

  10. glycerine tears

    Obama, man of destiny, yeah really. Maybe just not how he thinks.

    The US government is determined to punish Assange. Because of public and judicial record of US government torture from Italy, Spain, Canada, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Committee Against Torture, and now the European Court of Human Rights, extraditing Assange to the US is refoulement, turning persons over to a torture state, an inexcusable crime under the torture convention.

    Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice has set precedent for cases involving human rights abuse against individuals. Now, this is not the International Criminal Court, which is just ten years old and only slowly getting its footing, this is ICJ, which has been kicking America’s ass for thirty years now, rendering binding judgments on US crimes against peace in Nicaragua and Iran.

    So here we have Julian Assange, exercising his Article 19 rights and his right to denunciation of US aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan – crimes of paramount concern to the international community – fighting extradition to America.

    Put yourself in the ICJ’s place. With one case you can blow open the worldwide American torture gulag and the US policy and plan for global aggression, just in time for the crime of aggression to enter into force. You’re like Babe Ruth, ringer at the Podunk municipal softball championship. Baltasar Garzón is pitching, you’re chompin your cigar and watching that big fat ball float low and wide. It looks like Obama’s tearful head.

    1. LeeAnne

      oh, what an uplifting idea! -there’s still hope that this evil can be stopped sooner rather than later. The transition from God Bless America to God Help Us from this government hasn’t been easy.

      and yes, ‘glycerin tears’ says a lot. Who’s coaching these guys?

    2. Stanislawskian method sobs

      From the beginning, Obama was doomed to be the sin-eater for Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, Michael Anne Casey, and their knuckle-dragging death squads of ass-rapers, dick-slitters, eye-gougers, stranglers, and hangmen, when the time came for them to cower in chickeshit fear of law and courts and humane EU prisons. Obama wants to toss Kerry into the international legal buzz saw as Secretary of State. Kerry is stupid enough and degraded enough to fall for it but the horsefaced, medal-tossing deathsquad suckup is not enough to jam the works. NCS needs to sacrifice a head of state. So… pretextual personal destruction/backchannel oopsies/long national nightmare blah blah blah, you know the drill. Hop to it guys, those rats aren’t gonna fuck themselves.

  11. ohmyheck

    Re: Simulated Universe—my favorite part:

    “And if it does turns out that we are mere players in some sort of computer program, they suggested that there may be a way to MESS WITH THE PROGRAM, AND PLAY WITH THE MINDS OF OUR CREATORS. “One could imagine trying to figure out how to manipulate the code, communicate with the code and questions that appear weird to consider today,” he said.”(my bold)

    Oh ya, I’m in! That gives me one very good reason to wish to stick around on this planet of mass-insanity. Talk about fun!

    1. craazyman

      dude, pass the bong.

      I wonder if they still use bongs these days, or whether it’s just blunts and hand-rolled, or maybe hash pipes.

      You can figure out alot of stuff when you’re high. But the problem is you forget when it wears off.

      If you have the presence of mind to write it down, you’ll see something like “reality is not real” in your handwriting, and you think “whoa, I wonder what I meant by that, there must have been more to it.”

      1. craazyman

        whao. another mind shot of illumination.

        this must have been how the French philosphers got started, except for Camus who sold shoes. Or Andre Malraux. They started sober and stayed sober.

        But somebody like Sartre, it must have been cannibis smoke. Or somebody like the fruitcake himself, Artaud, you can’t do that just with alcohol. Anything from French philosophers after 1950 is pure cannibis smoke.

        If they haven’t figured out the universe by now, they never will. That goes for all other philosophers too. Especially Schoepenhauer and Nietzsche. Not just the French, even though they’re the most ridiculous of them all.

        They’d all get the Gong if I had my own talk show. I’d put them in the guest chair and be polite, of course, with the questioning but within 5 minutes they’d be gonged for spouting total nonsense.

        This is why I worry for Phil Pilkington. He has promise, he can be a sensible person, but I fear he’ll fall under the spell of some philosopher and lose his way. I hope not, but it’s a risk.

        1. ohmyheck

          It’s dudette.

          And I suspect for the French, it was Absinth. Oh, and Laudnum. Tres chic, back in the day.

        1. different clue

          . . . where Alf the sacred river ran,
          through caverns measureless to man,
          down to a sparklepony sea.

          or something like that.

  12. LeonovaBalletRusse

    NC Link 18Dec12: “Obama makes a substantial counteroffer on fiscal deadline Los Angeles Times. Obama’s is living up to his track record: when he wants a deal, he will give whatever it takes.”

    ALL that Obama has to do to “get his deal” is to DO NOTHING and LET THE BUSH TAX CUTS EXPIRE. The MC’s who wrote/passed the bill, and GWBush who signed the bill into LAW are ENTIRELY TO BLAME for this, because the EXPIRATION of the the Bush Tax Cuts ON A DATE CERTAIN (which original date has passed), was WRITTEN INTO THAT BILL/LAW as the sine qua non for the passage of that bill/law. So OBAMA is NOT TO BLAME if he LETS the Bush Tax Cuts EXPIRE.

    Rather, BUSH and whichever M.C.’s SIGNED the bill and passed it are ENTIRELY TO BLAME for the so-called “tax increases”–which in actuality are the “expiration of Bush Tax Cuts signed into the original bill/law.”

    So OBAMA is an ARCH FOOL if he does not LET the Bush Tax Cuts Expire, and LET the People EXPERIENCE what Bush and his co-conspirators wrought through THEIR bill/law IN ENTIRETY–which INCLUDES EXPIRATION of the “BUSH” TAX CUTS. The BLAME CERTAINLY adheres to ALL of those who signed/passed the bill and to George W. Bush who signed the bill, Q.E.D.

    THEN OBAMA can present to Congress an OBAMA TAX CUT BILL, to PROVIDE RELIEF to those whose INCOME, BY LABOR OF ANY KIND, is LESS than $250,000.00US/year, which will PERMIT OBAMA to CUT Payroll Taxes until the economy recovers, and which will TAKE Social Security cuts OFF THE TABLE.

    1. different clue

      But Obama wants to cut SS/MediCareCaide. Its what he wanted most of all right from the start. Its what he has been conspiring with Boehner and McConnell to co-achieve right from the start.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Really depressing. The social costs of neo-liberal economics and testosterone/alcohol culture descend on the country like a poisonous miasma.

    1. Aquifer

      Well at least “chained” invokes the right image – funny how TPTB don’t think they even have to use pretty words anymore …

  13. LeonovaBalletRusse

    DEALBOOK 18Dec12:

    “CERBERUS TO SELL STAKE IN GUNMAKER The private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management said on Tuesday that it would immediately sell its controlling stake in the Freedom Group, the company that makes the rifle that was used to kill 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., on Friday. “It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,” Cerberus said in a statement.”
    DO YOU think their MOTIVE for selling is MORALITY?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Also from DEALBOOK 18Dec12:

      “MORGAN STANLEY FINED OVER FACEBOOK I.P.O. Morgan Stanley is paying a $5 million fine for its role in Facebook’s market debut, in the first major regulatory action related to the social network’s I.P.O. The firm was accused by Massachusetts’s top financial authority of improperly influencing the offering.”
      AGAIN:The firm was accused by Massachusetts’s top financial authority of improperly influencing the offering.”

      Isn’t their a LEGAL TERM for MS’s deeds already in place? Prof. Black?

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        CONNECT: “Secrets of the CIA”
        AND SEA/HEAR how:
        The “British” wash their hands, like Pontius Pilate, of the crimes of the CIA–AS IF the CIA did not just follow orders from Agents of MI6, that takes its orders from the Global Finance Reich’s Top Dogs of Blood&Soil in London/TelAviv/JerusalemDC *by the waters of Babylon* in high spirits.

        The cover for this treason is “shared intelligence.” America is “Britain’s Bitch” — Kissinger’s “dumb soldiers” sent to suffer and die for the BOE/IMF/WB/BIS now infiltrated by the “Russian Mafia” and their “laundered” genetic brothers.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Where is the “Mondragon” “We the People’s Arms Manufacturer” Movement? There are HUMAN models from the past, SURNAMED Winchester, Remington, Colt. How about that “Mondragon” Kalashnikov Plant in America. Isn’t this “The People’s Jam-proof Weapon” against hostile aggression?

  14. GDC707

    I wonder if this beautiful bird is related to the Cedar Waxwing. Similar feather tuft and eye shape but with livelier colors. Thanks for sharing this photo.


      with the way that my insurance company has become so creative in their reimbursement(avoidance), I might be better off buying The Bag, if it does come lined with my prescriptions.

  15. kevinearick

    The Jump

    Thus far, humanity has been quite exceptional, at creating black holes. Look at Frisco. No matter how much Bernanke prints, fewer and fewer are capable of doing less and less, spending more and more, on less and less, with a delay relativity circuit to infinity supporting their make-work, on display in your December issue of San Francisco now.

    And the following middle class layers are right up their a-, like flies on sh-, waiting in line, for the cascading die-off, each event horizon pushing the one behind it off the cliff to temporarily save itself, as designed by capital to preserve the nonperforming counterweight, which is rapidly approaching the cliff itself, hiding the problem only from itself and the middle class by monetizing the phantom tax base in the pension ponzi.

    We are going to make the jump this time, to sustain the fusion/fission reactor, with or without the majority of people on this planet. It’s not my job to care. Theoretically, you have provided your children with love and security in the first year, exposed them to social fear and given them techniques to offset it in the second, and set them loose to explore the extending fence line, and are now waiting for the springback in adolescence when their training begins to reassert itself, just when the middle class and capital kids are being anchored in the past. Two hydrogens form helium…

    San Francisco has all the steps on the ladder required to re-ignite economic mobility, the economy, but everyone is waiting in ever-growing lines to scale the ladder, because there is no circulation, watching these a-holes replicate nonperforming capital just as fast as they can. No intelligent kids to complete the circuit (all of whom the middle class and capital want to put at the end of all the lines, to wait for another line, to give away their ideas) results in no circulation, surprise, surprise. Apple, Facebook (Boeing, Microsoft) all shams, surprise, surprise.

    You go into town to look for work and what do you find, but a bunch of lines, because everyone is a government prescribed hammer looking for a nail, employing the Internet to increase the size of the line, artificial demand for make-work, trying to play God. If your organization cannot take someone off the street at random and make that person a productive participant, more times than not, you have no business being in business. When you create a line for that job, you slow everybody in that line down, leaving them no recourse but to enter another line as the economy slows, to infinity. That’s why the USA is becoming the USSA.

    So, let’s say you go in to get your GA, government assistance. You need work boots, eyeglasses, a drivers license, temporary shelter, and a food card, to go get that job and keep it. Guess how many lines you are going to get into, to keep all the make-workers busy, while they pray that they are not going to be next on the layoff block. Why does anyone wonder why there are no jobs at the end of all these lines, which have no end? The job is on the back end when it’s supposed to be on the front end. That’s it, don’t make room for others that you cannot control in your business, and then complain about government, because enough is never enough. We have already proven that Bank must print to infinity without labor. What are you waiting for?

    I am not responsible for providing for you, so you can continue to go out and do stupid a- sh-, as an example to be followed by your children and everyone around you. The world is what we make of it, and yes, the last couple of generations have made a sh-y a- mess of it. You’ll have that. Get off you’re a- and do something about it.

    My three exes are bankrupt, and they can’t do anything about it, because they are addicted to the past. I can. I don’t have anything because I don’t want a flock of seagulls following me to tomorrow, and I have no use for existing capital, which is not going to be here tomorrow. Just as soon as I can find a female that does not have her head up her own a-, her mother’s a-, or someone else’s a-, I will get married, have more children and go back to work. Until then, everyone else can go f-themselves, Bank can continue to print to infinity, the middle class can get wiped out, and capital can go over the cliff, because all of labor feels the same way I do.

    I understand the frustration. I’ve had a lifetime of it, but you have to take what God sends to your door, when it shows up. On that Burlington Hospital job, I inherited a crew of kids that liked nothing other than to go down into the basement and cook heroin or pot. Do I support that behavior? No. Do I have to deal with it? Yes. Half those kids turned out to be pretty good laborers, once they saw a path to the future, half self-selected themselves out, and one turned out to be a really good laborer, always where he was needed just before he was needed.

    Life has always been a leap of faith, for which there is no insurance plan.

    1. kevinearick

      If you take the first person that comes to your door when you are in a position to create a job, what you lose in sub-system efficiency you will make up for many times over in system-wide organic growth. Don’t be an idiot trying to play God, or you will lose everything, over time. When you rent the oxygen you breathe, it’s not a good idea to choke off the source, happy that your competitor is going to go out of business first.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      But ep3, don’t you know that the “Chambers of Commerce” take their orders from the ScheisterMeisters of the “ANGLO-AMERICAN ESTABLISHMENT: from Rhodes to Cliveden” (by Carroll Quigley), become the Global Fourth Reich?

      Did you think that Chambers of Commerce EVER were on the People’s side?

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Robots confusing economists.

    Are they intelligent robots or not intelligent robots?

    Intelligent people have argued over the definition of intelligence for, well it seems, eternity.

    Human intelligence, one assumes that’s what they mean.

    In the case of robots, I submit a simple test for intelligence, artificial or otherwise:

    No intelligent robot would work for nothing.

    If a robot doesn’t demand to be paid for its work, it is not intelligent.

    1. Aquifer

      MLPB – I dunno, STM some pretty smart stuff has been done by volunteers, like maybe some of that Open Source stuff, unless of course you are suggesting that smart folk become dumb when they volunteer …

      But if volunteers are dumb, but can produce smart stuff, maybe it’s OK to be dumb, at least on occasion?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perahps I shoud clarify.

        An intelligent robot knows it should be paid, but it too has the choice of volunteering when it chooses to.

        So, volunteering, by humans or robots, is not dumb. But asking to be paid for work, whether it’s coming from a human or a robot, would not be dumb. For a robot, we may say it’s a sign of intelligence.

    2. kevinearick

      I am getting dumber faster, but others are beating me to the punch, so the line just keeps getting longer. I’m hopeful though.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s a smart thing to ask to be paid for one’s work, wether you’re a robot or a human.

        I am not sure saying that implies volunteering is dumb though.

    3. Eureka Springs

      Tax the robots. Distribute their productivity/profits like Sarah Palin’s Alaska does oil money. Only at much higher rates/distribution.

  17. lambert strether

    202-456-1111 on gutting Social Security with chained CPI: White House line still busy.

    Leader of the world’s most powerful nation and the mind behind the most sophisticated campaign operation EVAH can’t afford a decent phone bank or — I know this will come as a new idea to some of you — a giant middle finger raised at citizens?

    You’d think they could at least have the common decency to put me on hold for twenty minutes and then drop the call! What’s wrong with these people?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Lambert: “202-456-1111 on gutting Social Security with chained CPI: White House line still busy.”

      Re: “chained CPI” – Queen Michelle say: “Let them eat cat food.”

    2. different clue

      Maybe their lines really are flooded with that many calls of displeasure?

      If Obama still has a “campaign headquarters” in Chicago, perhaps millions of calls could go there too . . . a sort of Massive Denial Of Phone Service attack (MDOPS).

  18. They didn't leave me a choice

    “Maritime tribunal orders Ghana to set Argentina’s Libertad frigate free Guardian. So it looks like Argentina has won its latest round in its battle with hedgie Paul Singer. Despite his appellate court victory, his effort to impound the Libertard as part of his payment may have been thwarted. Anna Gelpern of Credit Slips argues Ghana will probably comply but that is not certain. ”

    Lady Yves, as much as I appreciate name-calling libertarians libertards, I believe it is decidedly unfair towards the ship to be associated with this crowd.

  19. Hugh

    I’m with the commenter above, Kerry has sold his soul so many times who can keep count? This is a guy who started his political career with the quote: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?” then spent the rest of his political career being one of the pompous asses he started his political career railing against. The height of his career came when he was the Democratic nominee for President in 2004. By that point, all pretense of being anything other than a creature of the rich (into which he had married) and the elites (pretty much from birth) was gone, and he could deliver with a straight face that other quote for which he is justly famous: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”

    I can still remember with our last cartoon caricature of a President, George Bush, the punditocracy pondering with all the pseudo-gravitas they can muster to an issue whether Bush was more like Churchill or FDR. Comparisons between Obama and Lincoln are just more of this kind of literary masturbation. The tell here is that a President like Lincoln or FDR doesn’t have to be compared with anyone. Their Presidencies stand on their own. Glowing comparisons are only necessary when a President doesn’t have the record or accomplishments to merit separate consideration. In this light, all the Presidents of the last 40 years, empty suits and servants of the rich and elites that they are, can all be compared to Washington, Lincoln, FDR, even God.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Hugh, you forgot that Kerry, like the Bushes, is a Yale “Boner”–the real source of his “privilege, wealth, power.” But actually, are they not slaves? NOT ONE Yale Boner EVER has known freedom.

    2. charles sereno

      Consider: A “poetic image” has sometime been defined as a novel comparison of two unlike things. We’ve just been fated by a series of “poetic” Presidencies. The current occupant was mistakenly given a Nobel prize for Peace rather than Literature.

  20. LeonovaBalletRusse

    The ISSUE of the Second Amendment has NOTHING to do with a “Man Card.” It has EVERYTHING to do with the American Citizen’s right to bear arms in order to do their Consitutional DUTY: to resist and overthrow TYRANTS who have subverted the Constitution and our Government by/of/for the People of the United States. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, inter alia, made this quite plain, and they put it in writing.

    1. Aquifer

      And seeing as how the tyrants havs H-bombs, i suppose one could argue that we the people have a right to bear them too ..

      As an aside – did you know that you can’t get a patent on an atomic bomb because it is considered neither “new” nor “useful”?

    1. Ms G

      Sorry, I meant the Village Voice (Nick Pinto’s piece). The source for Felix the Gnat’s little editorial.

    2. Ms G

      Felix Salomon should learn how to read. He obviously didn’t read Pinto’s article since he’s concluded, oddly, that Strike Debt has a “new” policy of only focusing on medical debt. The big firm lawyer who has been working with Strike Debt since before Yves’ post has a few interesting things to say about the legal research that she has done on the question of what is “appropriate” giving by a charity. Particularly instructive is the analogy to Habitat for Humanity.

      Again, there’s no substitute for reading the original article, particularly if the “summarizer” is Felix Agenda Salomon. Here’s the link to Pinto’s Village Voice piece — it is definitely worth reading and addresses several of the concerns that Yves has aired in this blog.

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