Links 12/20/12

Fighting ‘shaped human hand‘BBC

Teen smoking drops to record lows Christian Science Monitor

Future production from U.S. shale or tight oil Jim Hamilton, Econbrowser

Replacing Fossil Fuels with Renewables – Part 1 OilPrice

World Bank fears fresh credit bubble in China on hot money flows Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Greece faces ‘make or break’ year Financial Times

The other Dutch disease MacroBusiness

Syria: rebels fight Palestinian pro-Assad group (+video) Christian Science Monitor (May S)

Syrian crisis triggers massive UN aid appeal Guardian

It’s Time for the Truth about US Torture Methods Der Spiegel (May S)

Petraeus’s unusual civilian advisors raise questions Washington Post (Paul Tioxon)

Fiscal cliff talks take downward turn as Boehner presses for ‘plan B’ Guardian. Noise in the deal trajectory. The key thing to watch is how quickly Boehner and Obama get back to talking. Remember, Obama will give whatever it takes; the rest is mere posturing.

Get Ready for a Potentially Brutal Debt Ceiling Fight in a Year or Two Jon Walker, Firedoglake. Love the opening sentence.

Fiscal Cliff—The Well Orchestrated Dance Jack Rasmus (Lambert)

Obama admits he’s already conceded more than warranted Daily Kos (Carol B)

Even Some “Liberal” Journalists Are Losing Their Bearings on Obama’s Social Security Sellout Alternet. This is a feature, not a bug, but this piece does the important service of naming names.

Can We Please Stop Pretending Obama is “Capitulating” on Social Security? Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake

Federal Court Says Newspaper Has the Right to Fire Journalists — Under the First Amendment Alternet (Ms. G)

Video Games Targeted By Senate In Wake Of Sandy Hook Shooting Hufington Post

Newtown kids v Yemenis and Pakistanis: what explains the disparate reactions? Glenn Greenwald

Sandy hook shooting: Was Adam Lanza lashing out against treatment? Christian Science Monitor

Statement on Erik Loomis Crooked Timber. This is nuts. I wonder if invoking guillotines is a safer metaphor, since none are in production (yet).

Bank of America Delinquent Loans Mean Losses: Mortgages Bloomberg

Breaking the hold of corporate welfare on America’s incarceration industry Guardian

A projected 13.1 percent of workers will be unemployed at some point in 2013 Economic Policy Institute

After Recession, More Young Adults Are Living on Street New York Times

The Unequal State of America: The economics paper that rattled Washington Reuters (May S)

Full Employment as the New Progressive Paradigm New Economic Perspectives

CRA and the Housing Bubble Adam Levitin

Antidote du jour:

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  1. dearieme

    Unequal state …: as I understand it marginal rates of income tax have little effect on the very rich since they avoid tax anyway. So increasing the highest marginal rates won’t affect them either: if you want to levy more tax from them you’ll need to stop their avoidance tricks. How odd that it should it be the Republicans who understand this.

    Whether Congress, as constituted, is able or willing to stop avoidance is, I assume, unlikely.

    1. Ep3

      You can’t avoid or hide money from tax unless you are doing it illegally. The IRS has considered most every way and if they don’t tax you on one end, they get you another way. If the rich are avoiding taxes, then they are breaking the law and the IRS has te power to enforce the laws.
      And by saying that the rich can hire some accountant that is somehow smarter than the next guy and avoid paying taxes on money then means the playing field is equal. As a poor person, I could hire the same accountant and he would find all the same deductions as the rich guy. But do to the progressive nature of our tax laws, a tax benefit is proportionally larger the more income you have. We all have the mortgage interest deduction; but my interest is only $8k a year, whereas a wealthy person may have several mortgages worth tens of thousands in interest deductions.

  2. rjs

    oh crap…re: Fighting ‘shaped human hand‘

    next thing they’ll tell us is that the thumb and forefinger were so shape so as to facilitate pulling a gun’s trigger…

    1. hondje

      I’m pretty sure the whole reason Gun Control is even an issue now is that it distracts the Democratic base from noticing the cuts coming in Social Security

    2. AbyNormal

      fear is alive & well here in the south. yesterday lines snaked around rural Walmarts for bushmasters etc.

      يمكن أن تحكم الناس بالخوف والقمع ، لكن الخائفين لايمكن ان ينتصروا في حرب ، في ساحة الحرب يجب أن يكونوا أحراراً”

      1. Dave of Maryland

        Google says the Arabic reads,

        Can control people by fear and repression, but fearful can not win the war, in the war zone should be free

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Something is not quite right.

          Everywhere should be free, not just the war zone.

          It needs to be translated back to Arabic and then back to English again, you know, rinse it a few times to smooth it out a bit.

        2. AbyNormal

          im not a fan of google translator (since that embarrassing time it had me fornicating with a donkey)

          this quote must be something of its kind…my translator washed n rinsed it since i cked it this a.m.

          “That can govern people fear and repression, but fearful cannot triumph in war, in the war arena must be free.”

          …possibly its an Arabic contest ‘thing’

    3. Elliot

      I was going to say ‘Bosh!’, but crap will do. What a load of it. The hand is for so much more than fighting, as are we.

    1. Klassy!

      Thanks for the rec. Here is a particularly problematic tweet from Loomis:
      Larry Pratt and his group Gun Owners of America are terrorists and should be dealt with as such.
      Now, I presume Loomis is a thinking citizen of the US and he is aware of how the word “terrorist” is used to abridge the civil liberties of our citizens (and how the US manufactures “”plots) but here it appears he is giving approval to the way terrorists are “dealt with”.

      1. JTFaraday

        I don’t think you can assume that.

        It anything, this would seem to hark back to his never ending feud with Glenn Greenwald, in which economics uber alles was the only politically correct position and in which Greenwald was to drop his own civil liberties beat and take up “the progressive” economics position at once, even though he is not an economist.

        I think he then, like everyone else at LGM, insisted everyone vote for Obama.

        1. JTFaraday

          So now the NRA is treating Loomis like a terrorist.

          Thank goodness no one covers civil liberties! Which is pretty much the case, anyway.

          Oh, the irony.

          1. JTFaraday

            I don’t think you can assume that, in your words, “Loomis is a thinking citizen of the US and he is aware of how the word “terrorist” is used to abridge the civil liberties of our citizens (and how the US manufactures “”plots).”

            Presumably, he is not now so keen to “give approval to the way terrorists are “dealt with,” but only because he is now having the terrorist experience.

            Back in the say when he was fighting with Greenwald, joining the chorus that says civil liberties is a wealthy person’s issue, and insisting that Greenwald join the labor movement, he didn’t see how the police state was relevant to him–or, indeed, that the police state is an economic issue.

            Now that his employment is threatened, he presumably sees how the police state is an economic issue, of interest to 34 year old permanent students and working class tenure track professors like himself.

          2. JTFaraday

            To put bluntly, I think the evidence suggests that Loomis doesn’t think, that he runs one-track pre-recorded tapes in his head, and that if something is outside his limited range of personal experience, he just doesn’t get it.

            The real elitist here is him. Until now, he’d never been hit up by the popo and he couldn’t be bothered to extend his limited imagination.

            But I got news for him. If you’re going to be a permanent student and still win your tenure, you’re going to have to extend your imagination to the life you attempted to decline to live.

          3. Klassy!

            Thanks for clearing that up. I just thought it was ironic that he was railing about his free speech rights at the same time he was invoking the phrase “dealt with like a terrorist”. I’m thinking of recent history her. I’m not shedding any tears for gun nuts.

      2. Lambert Strether

        Pot, meet kettle. Since the wingers have been even more assiduous in destroying Constitutional government in the name of the war on terror than Obama supporters, I’m playing the world’s smallest violin for them on that point.

        * * *

        It’s also worth remarking that the wingers are the authors of the only currently successful domestic terrorist movement: Murdering doctors who provide abortions (and legally, too). So, again, boo hoo hoo.

  3. MIWill

    re: Even Some “Liberal” Journalists Are Losing Their Bearings..

    Kevin here. Need to do a required blog post:
    1. Matt, Paul, Ezra, Felix, Megan, Jonathan, Ed, Dave or Andrew wrote something.
    2. A selected snippet of what they wrote.
    3. This is my take: I think this is about right. Or not. I don’t know. I could be wrong. What do you think? I’ll tell you what to think. Way. No way.
    4. Actually, Kevin’s not here. This is his cat Dramamine doing the fleece procedural today. Kevin will be back Friday to take my picture

  4. Jim S

    CSM on Adam Lanza:
    “While the Fox reports are still uncorroborated…”
    Are Fox reports ever corroborated? I chuckled.

  5. JTFaraday

    re: The Unequal State of America: The economics paper that rattled Washington, Reuters

    “WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) – The work of government economists is often so dry that the public never hears of it. And then there’s the work of Thomas Hungerford.”

    I have to say, I expected much, much more after such a build-up.

    “Inequality increased due to the Bush tax cuts. Cuts in top tax rates don’t help the economy. Republicans suppressed the report.”

    What’s the matter with Reuters? Is this even news?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Don’s ask why or how and don’t look to the past; at least, now, one hopes, it is starting to rattle Washington.

      And maybe like an occasional, small earthqauke, it will soon pass :(

  6. Dee

    With this fiscal cliff talk, I’m wondering why the Senate/Obama are caving at all to Boehner. It makes absolutely zero sense politically to cave (they own 2/3 of the power) but of course, this is the Democrats who like the Republicans turn everything into a crisis or another. We have to do something or we’re going to go over this imaginary cliff that doesn’t exist because we have our own currency rationale.

    The thing I find the most hilarious about these fiscal cliff talks is how the defense system here isn’t really getting touched at all. If that doesn’t tell you that it’s a farce, nothing will. It’s okay to have drones everywhere, but social security checks/medicare got to go because you old people are sucking up all of the money.

    Let the Bush Tax Cuts run out, and leave spending the way it is at this point. It’s not really hurting anyone.

    1. Aquifer

      “Caving”? Are you still clinging to the concept that the Dems are “caving”, as opposed to being willing and eager participants in the act?

      Would one describe participating in rape as “caving”, except, of course, in a very crude sense … hmmm, well i suppose in that sense, that’s what the Dems ARE doing, “caving” old, poor, and sick folks …

      1. Bill Frank

        Indeed! What will it take for folks to wake up to the fact that Democrats are just as much a part of the problem as Republicans. BOTH are corrupted beyond repair. The whole “cliff” circus is just a big show for mass consumption. Huff, puff, a few lies and a good measure of fear thrown in to get the masses to accept the “negotiated” outcome. All perfectly scripted by the greatest propoganda machine in human history – American Corporate Media.

      2. Synopticist

        Obama is a circa 2000 republican in economics and foreign affairs terms.
        He was ALWAYS going to cut social security and use drones.
        He was ALWAYS going to give Wall Street the pass.

        He ran on this sh*t against Hillary.

  7. Jim Haygood

    The Guardian headline ‘Breaking the hold of corporate welfare’ is a rather selective quote from the copy, which includes these two sentences:

    AFSCME is working to litigate again to try to authorize funding so these [four Illinois] prisons can stay open.

    Last year, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) came under fire when it emerged that they sent a letter to 48 states offering to take over any prisons going spare – with the small caveat that they be guaranteed 90% occupancy for the next 20 years.

    Public or private, same lobbying stance. Or maybe the Gruaniad considers programs that swell the ranks of state employee unions to be corporate welfare too, which is reasonable enough.

    Loose cannon Quentin Tarantino suggests that the system is broken in more fundamental ways than mere rent seeking:

    “This whole thing of this ‘war on drugs’ and the mass incarcerations that have happened pretty much for the last 40 years has just decimated the black male population,” the filmmaker said on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. “It’s slavery, it is just, it’s just slavery through and through, and it’s just the same fear of the black male that existed back in the 1800s.”

    In addition, he says that the flesh-for-cash business of slavery mirrors that of the prison industrial complex.

    “Especially having even directed a movie about slavery,” he said, “and you know the scenes that we have in the slave town, the slave auction town, where they’re moving back and forth — well, that looks like standing in the top tier of a prison system and watching the things go down. And between the private prisons and the public prisons, the way prisoners are traded back and forth.”

    How Obama retains African-American political support while culling the black population into servitude on a larger scale than slavers used to raid the Congo coast would make an interesting study in social pathology.

    Under our wonderful bipartisan system, the evil genius of Nixon and Agnew’s federal War on Drugs is carried on with perfect fidelity by the Oreobama administration. He da man.

    1. Cynthia

      You cannot privatize anything unless it is previously government owned or run. Privatization is the new (not-so new really) CORPORATE WELFARE. It takes your money from taxes and gives it to corporations.

      The present state of our economy and our nation can be attributed in one way or another to corporations, or corporate thinking. It is not free enterprise. The billions, or maybe trillions, lost in Iraq in the Bush administration through government contracts has put our country’s economy in the toilet.

      Anyone who has lost their job to squeezing the last nickle out of a company and sending their job overseas knows this. If corporations and their revolving-door friends in government promise jobs, it is usually at the expense of the American worker, or it is a job stolen from one place (government employment), to private industry, then to overseas workers.

      These are complex issues, and we have one more culprit to thank for this mess and that is the clueless American population.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Cynthia, but nothing beats “Disaster Cap” in the Homeland. Below is a bit from Reuters by way of “DEALBOOK” 10Dec2012:
        //K.K.R. in Deal to Collect Water Revenue On Thursday, K.K.R. “kicked off a joint venture with Suez Environment to run the water and wastewater systems of a New Jersey city it hopes will become a model for cash-strapped local authorities in the United States,” Reuters reports.
        USA!USA! — “Sold!”

    2. direction

      I agree w/Haygood. There’s a lot of weird spin going on in that Guardian piece. “California boasted the biggest decline of over 15,000 prisoners.” Boasted? That makes it sound like we have a decrease in crime. What’s actually happening is that the prisons were so overcrowded it was decided that they would have to slough off non-violent offenders to smaller local facilities.

      Like many American small towns, the jail is the largest building in my downtown area. The meth problem is a pestulence here. Some say it’s worsened because once these people get released, they have no where to go. And newer arrests for violent offenses in town get off on bail because there is no room to house them. One recent fellow who was caught not only with meth but with police issue handcuffs and a stun gun. What sort of activity does that bring to mind? He released on bail later that afternoon. Glad I’m on vacation.

          1. direction

            that’s a pretty graph, but we’re not talking about the 80s. Again, the DOJ source document says it all, please read it.

            Here’s another salient quote: “Sixty-three percent (26,340 admissions) of the decrease in state prison admissions between 2010 and 2011 was due to fewer parole violators being reincarcerated.”

            not fewer parole violations, mind you.

            So yes, we have a small decrease in crime, but “the Public Safety Realignment policy accounted for 72 percent of the total decrease” in California.


      1. direction

        The DOJ pdf source file confirms:
        “The reduction in California’s prison population under the Public Safety Realignment policy accounted for 72 percent of the total decrease in state prisoners.”

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Black population in servitue…slaves from Congo.

      It’s the same as it has always been – it takes a whole village to get it done.

      Joint effort.

      Mutli-lateral cooperation.

  8. Lambert Strether

    I wish Obama would just come out of the closet on the whole Republican thing.

    Obama can admit he’s really a Republican. There’s no shame in that. (Well, not a whole lot.) Stop living a lie!

    Sure, his fans will suffer a moment of cognitive dissonance, but they’ll adjust; I give ’em 48 hours, tops. After all, Obama’s “cool,” “nuanced,” and “thoughtful” no matter what party he’s in. Why are you such a hater, anyhow?

      1. DANNYBOY

        I believe that he said that to ‘hone his positioning’. His future employers look for that specifically.

  9. taunger

    full employment is far too derivative of our 20th century capitalism to be a meaningful alternative for an economic system. in particular, it continues the neo-liberal growth myth by assuming that equality means all producing, or at least laboring. maybe if the author included a new definition of employment, which includes civic participation, family care, and continuing education as equal parts, maybe then full employment could be a worthwhile endeavor.

    but I don’t want to fight a robot for a job just to be fully employed. their bones are made of metal and they don’t feel pain. its a bad match-up for me.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Isn’t the universe a computer, or a robot?

      Maybe we are all tiny, little robots within a giant robot?

  10. Kim

    About all our homeless kids…

    Note that there are hundreds of thousands of refugees from
    Somalia, Jews from the Soviet Union, Rwanda, The Middle East etc, who are getting free housing, free medical, dedicated charity, food stamps and general welfare plus SSI for the rest of their lives.

    These are people who never paid one cent into social security nor of course did their parents, nor did they serve in the military.

    Plus there are hundreds of thousands of low rental units and housing project apartments being given to the illegals or people who were just naturalized.

    How about sunsetting all these benefits in a year or two and using that same money for homeless U.S. veterans and the children of American citizens?

    In San Francisco, elderly Asians come here, sponsored by younger family members, and after the legally alotted time, get on SSI and food stamps, despite living with their working children. They are not reporting the family income. Asians, mainly Chinese and Filipinos have great social organizations that know all about freebies and government assistance. After a while, they put their elderly in organizations such as the Salvation Army that gives them very cheap rent and food. IT’s a huge racket in SF and all major cities. SSI reform needs to happen now so this abuse stops. I am not anti-immigrant. I am anti-cheating. I also hate to see poor, elderly veterans on the streets because there is no room at the Inn, all the beds are taken by immigrants who have children who should be supporting them.

    1. hunkerdown

      When the problem is a widespread failure in following the duly enacted procedures, reforming the procedures isn’t a credible fix.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fighting & human hand – which came first?

    Did the human hand shape fighting first or fighting shape the human hand first?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fresh credit bubble in China.

    Does any one know which country was the first in the world to make a bubble?

    1. Aquifer

      I think it was Chewkoslovakia .. or was it Blowgaria, I don’t remember … There was quite a bit of hot air involved, as i recall …

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My guess is China with Persia not far behind, who tried to make a bubble, but didn’t quite make it.

        Here is what Wiki says about the Amazing Mongol, Gaykhatu:

        Gaykhatu (Mongolian: Gaikhalt; Mongolian Cyrillic: Гайхалт, died 1295) was the fifth Ilkhanate ruler in Iran. He reigned from 1291 to 1295. During his reign, Gaykhatu was a noted dissolute who was addicted to wine, women, and sodomy, according to Mirkhond.[1] His Buddhist baghshi gave him the Tibetan name Rinchindorj.

        His name means “amazing/surprising” in the Mongolian language as in “gaikhakh” (to get surprised).

        In 1294, Gaykhatu wanted to replenish his treasury emptied by royal extravagance and a great cattle plague. In response, his vizier Ahmed al-Khalidi proposed the introduction of a recent Chinese invention called Chao (paper money). Gaykhatu agreed and called for Kublai Khan’s ambassador Bolad in Tabriz. After the ambassador showed how the system worked, Gaykhatu printed banknotes which imitated the Chinese ones so closely that they even had Chinese words printed on them. The Muslim confession of faith was printed on the banknotes to placate local sentiment.

        The plan was to get his subjects to use only paper money, and allow Gaykhatu to control the treasury. The experiment was a complete failure, as the people and merchants refused to accept the banknotes. Soon, bazaar riots broke out, economic activities came to a standstill, and the Persian historian Rashid ud-din speaks even of “‘the ruin of Basra’ which ensued upon the emission of the new money”.[5] Gaykhatu had no choice but to withdraw the use of paper money.

        He was assassinated shortly after that, strangled by a bowstring so as to avoid bloodshed.[6] His cousin Baydu, another puppet placed by Ta’achar, succeeded Gaykhatu but only lasted a few months before himself being assassinated. An alternative story of Gaykhatu’s death claims Baydu made war on him because of his introduction of paper money and subsequently killed him in battle.[1]

  13. Hans Suter

    I do not feel entirely comfortable with the animal pictures NC shows. They tell me something but I don’t know really what it is. Now a new blog post by Adam Curtis helped me clear my mind. Maybe other NC readers are interested in it, too.

    the political use and abuse of animals on tv

    “Animals have been a central part of television from the very beginning. But over that time the way animals are portrayed on TV has varied enormously – not just in the way they are filmed, but in the stories they are used to tell the viewers.
    And the truth is that the animal programmes are far more about us than they are about the animals. They are really about how we see ourselves. I have always been convinced that animal programmes are one of the most powerful ideological expressions of our time – telling stories that both express and reinforce how we understand our relationship to each other socially and politically in powerfully emotional ways.
    Over the past thirty years the wildlife programme has been dominant, led by David Attenborough. The story these programmes tell is a deeply conservative one. The central, natural, unit that the films portray is the family – and they tend to follow that social unit through repeated cycles of birth, discovery, danger and tragedy – followed by the birth of the next generation who will repeat the cycle……”

    1. Aquifer

      Ya mean something like this? Cat – “Are you that wolf in sheep’s clothing i keep hearing about? Hmm, somehow i thought you’d be bigger …”

    2. direction

      Perhaps the interspecies friendship photos are subliminally suggesting that republicrats and democlicans can live in harmony…Yves is attempting a little social molding on the readership.

      I jest. The young kid in this photo is obviously about to buck up on its back legs and playfully respond to the cat by booting it in the chest. It’s just what baby goats do. or head butting.

      But you have to admit, they ARE ridiculously cute.

      (and if you ever meet one, get down on all fours, and it will jump on your back like a circus animal. it’s just what baby goats do)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Harmony…social molding.

        We will see, one hopes, one day, antidotes of robots kissing and hugging each other.

        1. Aquifer

          Hmmmm, MLTPB, you seem to have a thing for robots …

          Personally I am an elementalist, I’ll admit – I am very prejudiced in favor of carbon based life forms, and resent those silicon based ones enormously – they are taking our jobs and they don’t pay any taxes and they suck up a lot of energy. Personally i think we should pack ’em up and send ’em back to whatever planet they came from …

    3. craazyman

      I know it was a long time ago, but where does “Mr. Ed” fit into this theory?

      The cruelest thing must have been forcing him to talk like a human. I’m not a veterinarian, so I don’t know what that would have done to a horse’s vocal chords. But it sure wasn’t natural.

  14. your knife shoes won't get you out of this

    Talk about the Power Elite. The NCS dick-slitters really rolled out the big guns this time: Appalachian State/NC Central/varsity stump-jumper Morris Davis declaims ex cathedra from the empyrean perspective of America’s disgraceful bullshit show trials, “It falsely depicts members of the CIA engaging in gratuitous acts of violence.” Tell it to the ICC Prosecutor. Sure, Frances, you can fool the Gomer Pyle of JAG, but unless you make your case in a real court, you’re gonna have to take all your exotic retirement holidays at Branson and Dollywood, tappin your toes to Andy Williams with Morris.

    We got your fuckin number, Frances. You can run but you cannot hide. We have obtained the complete Reuters investigative dossier on Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, supplemented with 67 terabytes of choice Mossad HUMINT that Israel sold to Russian intelligence and posted it for all to see here,

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    GM recalls 145K pickups because hood might fly open.

    We are lucky it is not in the jeans business – GM recalls jeans that might fly open…that’s too scary to think about.

    1. AbyNormal

      earlier i was going to apologize for giggling before i even read your post(s)…i withdraw the consideration.
      (shoulders back, giggling hard)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I guess you don’t want to hear about the military-industrial boys muscling in on the jeans business either.

        Their jeans explode.

        Hey, don’t kill the messenger. I am just relaying the information.

    2. ambrit

      Dear MLTPB;
      Whoa there pardner! I once had the hood of my beat up Mazda pick up fly up onto the windshield traveling south on 41 in Tammany Parish. Luckily I was ‘only’ going 50mph, and successfully used ‘The Force’ to steer myself off the road safely. You try that Jedi Powers trick sometime and tell me how it comes out. (And if you too have to go home and change your pants afterward.)

  16. Pat

    Webster Tarpley has given a good explanation of what happened to Petraeus. Petraeus was a neocon or quasi-neocon allied with Romney & Netanyahu who wanted to take an aggressive stance abroad (go full out in Afghanistan, bomb Iran with Israel) and who wanted a full merger of Pentagon – industry – politics under the leadership of the neocons. Plus he was very ambitious and cut-throat despite his modest public demeanor. So the Obama administration, staffed by the “soft-power” Brzezinski types, got rid of him and a bunch of other generals in the equivalent of a “night of the long knives” purge.
    The WashPo and NYT articles about his neocon pals in Afghanistan are part of the Obama admin’s “cleaning up” of the problem. First they used the sex scandal, then they question his methods.

    I suppose we should be a little glad they got rid of Petraeus, since now we probably won’t get a bombing and full war with the Persian Gulf shutting down. Instead we are getting the slow methodical attack on Iran by way of Syria, since Syria is the next piece in Brzezinski’s “grand chessboard”. Probably the next stage after Syria is surrounding Iran, imposing full trade sanctions and then no-fly restrictions, i.e. low-scale war, or invasion-light.

    1. 11-dimensional rusty trombone

      Yeah, right, it was Obama who purged those guys. And when Edgar Bergen took his act from NBC to CBS, it was Mortimer Snerd who agented the backroom deal on Coca-Cola sponsorship.

      Obama has zero point zero degrees of freedom in these routine palace coups, which are far above his pay grade. He’s a shit-eating puppet ruler for the bankers and a skin on the wall for their spooks. And who are these soft-power Brezinski types? You mean the ones who made Carter sell the arms for human-rights genocide in East Timor?

      1. Glenn Condell

        ‘Obama has zero point zero degrees of freedom in these routine palace coups, which are far above his pay grade. He’s a shit-eating puppet ruler for the bankers and a skin on the wall for their spooks. And who are these soft-power Brezinski types?’

        Obama is almost as marginal as you or I, granted. But the ID of the powers that move him is surely not quite as simple as ‘bankers’, though the addition of ‘their spooks’ is heading in the right direction.

        Top level power, the sort that directs and controls the interests of the 1% in ordering the political process, resides in and emanates from four main sources – finance, media, judicial/bureaucracy/government and military/intel. The commingling of these centres is the hallmark of the f word.

        In the US there is a foreign agent which acts as a solvent to barriers between these powers, being massively over-represented in each and it is this force that the Kagans and their numberless ilk represent first and foremost – the Israel Lobby as described by Walt and Mearsheimer.

        While they gorge publicly on apple pie and studiously drape themselves in the red, white and blue when not in khaki – the Institute of War Studies for pity’s sake – just as their predecessors the Perles and Feiths and Wolfowitzes and Kristols did, there is no strategy or action they will support which will impact negatively on Israel. Of course much of what they’re after may well redound to the good of the US, but it is a stretch to imagine that this matters much in their end game.

        Of those power centres, the military, home to the hardest core American ideologues, has been the hardest nut to crack for the Lobby. And after Iraq things looked discouraging for a while, but now we see that not only are the chickenhawk keyboard warriors not dead, Jesus they are lording it over the top brass, even on campaign!

        Perhaps ‘these soft-power Brezinski types’ are simply the resistance to Lobby control of the last bastion. Do they represent a growing resurgence of America-firstism in the heart of the nation’s ultimate power or is it more a death throe, a frustrated lashing out of the hopelessly outgunned?

    2. Paul Tioxon

      2010 May-June Waging Peace: Is Obama Afraid, Cowardly? Asks Seymour Hersh

      Waging Peace

      Seymour Hersh speaking at Iowa State

      SEYMOUR Hersh, perhaps the most accomplished and renowned investigative journalist working in the United States today, spoke to an overflow crowd at Iowa State University (ISU) on March 9.

      Hersh began his presentation on “The Crisis in American Foreign Policy” by ladling out criticism of presidents past and present.

      “Oh God, just when we desperately need an angry Black man,” quipped the reporter who stunned America and the world with the story of the My Lai Massacre in November 1969, during the Vietnam War.

      “Obviously talking about our president,” said Hersh over the laughter of members of his audience.

      “But that isn’t fair to him. It’s a little quick. Maybe he has a plan—I’m talking about his foreign policy. I know he’s immersed. The dweebs that preceded him left him with terrible problems, economic problems, jobs problems obviously, the collapse of the economy. I’m not sure he did the right thing about it,” Hersh opined, “but that’s not what I’m interested in.

      “Of course the foreign policy, about which he’s been negligent, and I don’t know, afraid, cowardly? Afraid to take ’em on, take on the Pentagon and take on the establishment? But he’s riding it out. He may have a master plan, I’m told by a lot of people,” he said.

      Nevertheless, Hersh’s critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy was blunt and harsh. “It’s a year and two months in,” he noted. “Let’s see: We’re still torturing, no question…basically there’s an understanding on the battlefield in Afghanistan, the order is, essentially the rule is that, if you capture a suspect, somebody that you think is a Taliban…you have 72 hours tactically—the point being any real intelligence you’re gonna get is what you get tactically immediately: Where are they? When are they going to hit you? Where are they hiding? And the abuses that take place in those 72 hours transcend—this is from inside—anything we have seen before. And the kids suffer.

      “Maybe I’ll talk about that later,” Hersh said, “because the victims also—you can’t do it and not become a victim, too. So, we still torture. It goes on.”

      Hersh was especially critical of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

      “We still rendition, we still grab people, you know, without any due process, we go into a country where we have a diplomatic relationship, we have an ambassador, we have a CIA chief of station, we still have teams, high-value target teams, many of them working for something called the Joint Special Operations Command, which I have been screaming for years is basically Murder Incorporated—though I don’t fault the guys who do the killing. These are SEALS, Delta Force, some of the best, most honorable people in our military and the most well-trained,” he explained, “who are under orders to go and take out high-value targets. It’s just a question of, Are they targets? Are they suspects? The evidence is flimsy, so a lot of wrong people get hit, which is inevitable,” Hersh said.

      “Our Joint Special Operations Command—we have a man running the war in Afghanistan, General [Stanley] McChrystal, who ran the Joint Special Operations Command for Cheney and Bush. He went from colonel to two-star general faster than anybody in history,” observed Hersh. “This guy may be a fine guy, but he’s an apparatchik, in my mind. He was put into the Joint Chiefs with the understanding at the time—I remember being told this by people in the Army—that the understanding was he would not get a fourth star. Well, he’s got his fourth star and he’s now running the war in Afghanistan. He’s talking an awful lot publicly about how we don’t want to kill civilians, and meanwhile we’re killing civilians.”

      ….Here is a second link, from several months before the Iowa speech. He was speaking at Duke.×6811309

      …. This has been almost entirely ignored. Obama going to Europe to root for his kind of town, Chicago, in the Olympic sweepstakes was the derisive headline. Buried in the back pages was his meeting Gen McChrystal.

      From Fox News on the Copenhagen trip to win the Olympics:
      “But critics immediately decried Obama’s visit to Copenhagen, the first time a U.S. president made such an in-person appeal.

      “It demeans the office,” said GOP consultant Brad Blakeman, a former Bush administration official. “For the president to be reduced to the effect of the Billy Mays pitchman for the United States to get the Olympics for his home city of Chicago is just not something that presidents do.”

      Blakeman said Obama spent more time wooing International Olympic Committee officials than he did in his meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, before returning to Washington.”

      …..Generals come to the president, not the other way around, unless there is a real problem. I have a hard time believing it was a trip for Chicago and not a trip to establish who was the Commander-In-Chief.

      Obama had been in office for about 10 months when it became clear that he and his White House staff were at war with Pentagon over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. Just as the Clinton administration delayed the implementation of the New American Century by not going to war, Obama has been mopping up after the ground war. Bush bulldozed everyone in he Pentagon who did not want to go war out of the way, including Valerie Plame. The forcible dismissal during the Obama administration, of so many high profile, quick rising colonels, who rose to general command in the aftermath of the republican purges, is just another house cleaning.

      Do not mistake the analysis for picking a right or wrong side of history. Capitalists are no more a monolith or a well organized unitary team than any other large group. There is competition in the marketplace for customers, a war for talent over employees and blood feuds over wealth, power and glory, with no more love lost among the people at the commanding heights of capitalism for each other, than the love lost on the people they gaze down upon who ask for more money, better benefits and a fair share for their labors. But there are, without a doubt, real political fault lines over major policy directions, chief of which is the use of the military to reshape the world, wholesale, such as in Iraq. We are out of Iraq and the New American Century has less and less chance of happening, the longer a competing set of policy are put into place. Watch the shit storm over Chuck Hagel if you doubt there is a war party and one that does not use the military as the primary instrument of foreign policy.

      1. 11-dimensional peekaboo

        Strictly speaking, there’s a party that favors Rome Statute Article 5.1.b crimes, and a party that favors Rome Statute Article 5.1.d crimes. It’s like the difference between Al Pacino as Michael Corleone and Al Pacino as Scarface. Al Pacino can act either part. It just depends on who’s directing.

        As for Clinton, he knew better than to balk a war. His administration featured continual aerial bombardment and genocidal sanctions in Iraq, all outside the scope of UN authorization and therefore illegal. Illegal war in Yugoslavia, too – that one actually pioneered the USG’s current approach of twisting UN Charter Chapter VIII to subvert Chapter VII. Also that pharmaceutical plant. The proprietor was like, What the fuck? gaping at the inexplicable batshit lunacy of it. Also Somalia, but he lost that one so quick that we should maybe let that slide.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Pat, Brzenski is a traitor, he serves a foreign power, along with his clique holding “dual passports.”

  17. sandra

    I think the Washington Post report on the Kagans’running of the war in Afghanistan for their right wing think tank
    is the most important revelation of how the right has stayed
    in control of the government.
    I believe that this model is being replicated in other areas of government. I’d bet on it.

  18. Kim Kaufman

    I was listening to a radio program last night that compiled bits from Thom Hartmann show probably from the last week so I’m not sure what day this was actually broadcast. Thom said he was talking to a Democratic strategist friend and said he thought the messaging about the chained CPI was coming from the Republicans. The Democratic strategist said, no, it was coming directly from the WH. He had been on a call with the WH and they were trying to figure out how to message it.

    Jack Rasmus nails it. It’s a done deal.

    1. psychohistorian

      If I were a betting man I would wager that within 2-3 years of implementation of the chained CPI there will be inflation over 10%

      The printing presses have been running since 2008 so it is just the matter of adjusting a few levers here and there for the US dollar bubble to become visible.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Members of Congress can write and pass the bill to eliminate Chained CPI in January 2012. Maybe the Republicans will want to be such “heroes” for seniors?

        1. different clue

          Rs passing a bill to repeal Chained CPI? They would need enough Ds to override Obama’s veto of that bill. If they could get that done . . . repeal Chained CPI . . . as well as repeal any other changes President Catfood and his Catfood Democrats get away with forcing on Social Security, I would re-register Republican and vote for Republicans in simple gratitude.

  19. Jill

    Glenn’s article: Just wanted to fix a few flaws in this speech by dear leader: “And as I said on Sunday night, there’s no law or set or laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. {However there are laws against torture and other war crimes. With that in mind I have directed the DOJ to investigate any person who may have ordered or engaged in acts of torture or other war crimes},… We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all-too-often glorifies guns and violence. {With this in mind I have called for an immediate end to military recruitment in our schools. Children should no longer have data collected about them so that recruiters can use this information to pitch a career which carries a great risk of exposure to gun violence. There will no longer be overflights of military aircraft and parades of weapons at school or sporting events. The DOD and OGA’s are immediately enjoined from the using films or video games or any media to propagandize our population in favor of gun violence.}… And any actions we must take, must begin inside the home and inside our hearts. {Given this fact, I have put an end to Terror Tuesdays. I will no longer authorize the use of drone strikes, cluster bombs or any other ordinance against civilians, wherever they are located on this planet.}

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Jill, re “War Crimes” – How about the War Crimes of the Third Reich extended through the Global Fourth Reich: The “Conspiracy” to “Rule the World” by engaging in “Pre-Emptive Wars” now military AND by Finance Shock Doctrine? Shall the Nuremberg Tribunals Part II commence, but with actual consequences to the Conspirators this time round?

  20. kevinearick

    As the Worm Turns, Inward to Bubble World

    In an irony of ironies, the majority is betting on the Fed, because their something-for-nothing entitlements depend on it to prop up the market, and the Fed is taking that bet, betting against itself with monetary insurance, liquidating the entitlement system, and leveraging the losses as GDP increases. Greed works alright, f-s itself every time, reporting its progress as economic activity, increasing artificial demand for artificial supply, in a positive feedback loop, a line waiting in line, chasing its own tail to no end. The cattle don’t realize that Black Friday is about conditioning them to create both the artificial demand and supply that liquidates their position. Classic Marvin the Martian.

    Take government spending. Eliminate the part borrowed. Trace the remaining tax base to previous years borrowed, leveraged with declining interest rates. When Statey comes to your door, give him whatever he wants, until he stops coming to your door. It’s the Bugs Bunny / Yosemite Sam dynamite exchange thing. Crack me the f- up, a conspiracy of collective stupidity. That executive order curve will be vertical in no time.

    An economy is like a solar system. If you take one of those planets away, it implodes, and the rocket scientists have gutted empire labor. F-ng brilliant. It’s the elevator problem again. I go in to mod an elevator, and the lazy a-, middle class union tradesmen line up for a ride, bitching and moaning like their union card entitles them. When I get the temporary up, everyone else gets a ride.

    I’ve carried my share of motors up the stairs to the top of the building, and moved 50k lbs. of freight by hand every day for years. I am old, I am cranky, and I do not give a f- about some nigger in a dark alley with a knife. Watching a nigger make the mistake of knifing my dad without killing him cured me of that little problem early on in life.

    The kids have everything they need to avoid these lines all together. If the majority wants to get beyond the lines, it might want to get the f-out of the way, so they can modernize the economy, or expect the black hole to reach out and drag the entire middle class into a living hell. One way or the other makes no difference to me. Its representatives already took my children, to support its something-for-nothing economy. Your privacy, your economy, is not a function of capital. Capital is about appearance. It does no work. It’s History.

    There is nothing magic about the Fed, or the US Government, spinning artificial demand for the supply of an artificial world, as Kissinger’s unwinding attests. Let’s see, who is behind that nigger errand boy anyway? Oh, that’s right, the majority, in a peer pressure parade, robots following robots, in a zoo, built for the purpose.

    Speaking of executive orders, Kissinger, Nixon, foreign investment, technology Pavlov swaps, and feedback signals, what was Kennedy’s sin, what nigger got MLK shot, where was LBJ from, and how are those wars on poverty, drugs, etc., etc., etc., working out for your children, and your pension? Bernie Sanders + Grover Norquist / 2 = Barack Obama. The President is not a choice; it’s a parade of losers competing to be leader. Who is responsible for the Patriot Act and what did they get in return? Why don’t we all just join the MAssholes in Vermont?

    That’s it, keep fing with labor

  21. rich

    Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Mr. President, I am Disappointed’
    Remember when President Obama promised not to cut Social Security benefits? Remember when president-hopeful Barack Obama promised not to cut Social Security benefits?
    – Andrea Germanos, staff writer

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gave a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday slamming President Obama for going back on repeated assurances that Social Security would not be part of deficit reduction talks.

    Sanders’ comments were echoed in the House on Thursday when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) took to the floor and argued that Social Security benefits have no place in the budget deficit talks. He blasts the proposed “chained CPI” that would force seniors into “a poverty of choices, a lower standard of living.”

    “No to throwing seniors off the fiscal cliff. No to a Cat Food Christmas,” stated Kucinich.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      KS, this “feature” of globalized organized crime is covered in “GOMORRAH: A Personal Journey Into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System” by Roberto Saviano (2006), tr. Virginia Jewiss, 2007. This is just what the TTP–the TransPacificPartnership promises for the United States.

  22. jfleni

    This is one Yank who fondly remembers his short working trips to Greece some years ago. I like them and wish them well, but if it doesn’t work out, bail out, dump the Euro, and do your level best to give the Germans, French, Brits and others who made you miserable and destitute a red ass!

  23. Glenn Condell

    Minister supports regulation of HFT in Australia

    ‘Following intense media coverage, including calls from the likes of Alan Kohler to “cut the pipes” — the fibre-optic cables linking traders to the stock exchange — last month the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, announced new “market integrity rules” to apply to high frequency trading (HFT).

    The new rules include a requirement for “kill switches” — to stop computer trading if required — and obligations, on stock exchange operators and participants, to monitor large price movements and enforce new measures if they occur.’

    The rest of this opinion piece (by an investment advisor) tries to make the case that regulating might not be such a good idea for retail investors.

  24. Jesse

    If FDL believes they originated ‘the now ubiquitous catfood meme’ they are delusional.

    That has been around since the 1970’s at least. It was a ‘meme’ that got a lot of play when they went to reform Social Security way back as I recall as well.

    It came from a study that showed unusual levels of cat food sales in areas where there were no pets allowed, housing seniors.

    1. different clue

      Perhaps they resurrected it. Perhaps they were the first present-day people to apply it to Obama and his commission specifically. I’m not going to worry too much about who first invented what use of the term.

      Though yes, I do remember hearing about old people eating catfood ever since many years ago.

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