Links 12/23/12


    1. optimader

      I like the horse’s mullet.
      The Icelandic horse is genetically isolated. If they taken out of the country for any reason (horse show) neither they nor their riding gear are allowed back in Iceland due to lack of desease resistance.

      They also have a uniquely smooth gait.

      The Icelandic is a “five-gaited” breed, known for its sure-footedness and ability to cross rough terrain. As well as the typical gaits of walk, trot, and canter/gallop, the breed is noted for its ability to perform two additional gaits. Although most horse experts consider the canter and gallop to be separate gaits, on the basis of a small variation in the footfall pattern,[11] Icelandic breed registries consider the canter and gallop one gait, hence the term “five-gaited”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks for that ‘five-gaited’ information. I knew of their unique way of cantering/galloping.

        1. CB

          I’m not certain about the pictured horses, but the Icelandic horse is intriguing. Try a search. At one time they were sold into the British mining industry for the same reasons as the Shetland pony: small size, enormous strength.

  1. Goin' South

    Re: Ian Welsh

    Welsh’s piece is excellent but it doesn’t go deep enough.

    Why is there such economic stress? Why is treatment on the job so shitty? The same reason that:

    Our society apparently values gun manufacturer profits more than the lives of children.

    Our society apparently values medical insurance company profits more than the lives of the sick.

    Our society apparently values gas driller profits more than the lives of people who drink groundwater in fracking areas.

    Our society apparently values coal and oil company profits more than the lives of future generations.

    Capitalists, by definition, squeeze every ounce of profit out of their businesses. They love and help create an excess pool of labor to produce exactly the effects that Welsh describes. They treat their workers like shit because they view them as an expense to be reduced, not as human beings to be treated as they would like to be treated themselves.

    Beyond that, Capitalists will buy media, professors and politicians so that they ability to screw workers, cheat consumers and destroy the environment will be completely unfettered. They are a source of corruption and ignorance in our society.

    Capitalism is not an economic sysem. It is a sickness that exalts the depraved and tortures and kills the innocent.

    Treat the cause, not the symptoms.

    1. Goin' South

      One additional point re: Welsh’s critique:

      Why would a society ever be over-medicated? After all, medications are expensive, and our society refuses to make the medical expenses of most a socially shared cost.

      There’s profit in ADHD, and Capitalists big and small eagerly write and fill prescriptions and manufacture and market pills. No wonder that it’s over-diagnosed and over-treated.

      Look to source.

          1. Francois T

            Thank God you’re not a health care professional!

            I’ll limit my commentary to that, because I’m way too angry to stay polite right now!

    2. SayWhat?

      1. There’s more than meets the eye to some of these incidents of “lone psychopathic loser goes postal and murders [fill in the blank] defenseless innocents. Really now, losers whose lives up to the time of their infamy were defined almost exclusively by their inability to do much of anything right suddenly become world class killers for a day? Yeah, right.

      2. Our society, for all the hand wringing melodrama after the fact, celebrates the sacrificing of the innocents as well. It’s ingrained right into the Judeo-Christian myths of sacrifice and redemption that we continue to perpetuate to this day, and it’s played out on our popular media mind control devices every day to much popular fanfare and adulation. And it allows the media to spin itself into orbit spinning tales of American exceptionalism (expressed either as the paramilitary or the super hero) defending itself (the righteous) against the all pervasive forces of darkness and evil, which are typically portrayed as the lone wolf psychotic loser.

      3. All of which continues to advance the plot line of that 21st century epic blockbuster of all blockbusters production, THE WAR ON TERROR, a psychotic fantasy so deranged that it could only have been concocted by the drug-addled children who cut their teeth in a post WWII period so utterly deranged that it coined the terms Cold War, Domino Theory, and mostly aptly of all, MAD, as attempts to make sense of a world which clearly no longer made any.

      4. American crony capitalism has passed its sell by date. It’s now the basic poison of poisons that’s killing us all. Unfortunately, true to its nature, it has successfully and ruthlessly eliminated all of its competitors. And the ruthlessness has only just begun. Climate change might be our only hope now, even as it kills us all too.

    3. from Mexico

      I think that Grame McQueen is onto something here at minute 54:00 when he says that what is billed as market fundamentalism (our ruling national mythology according to John Gray) is in fact and in practice bullet fundamentalism:

      As the official state mythology departs farther and farther from reality, and becomes increasingly difficult to be believed in, it causes a great deal of moral and cognitive discomfort. More and more people may crack in this pressure cooker of cognitive and emotional dissonance, a place where rationality is preached but violence dominates.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Well said! That’s what I’m always on about.

        Allow me to ask: what’s a myth, anyway? A myth is a metaphor for a way of being human in the world. And a metaphor is a vessel for going from ignorance to understanding — or the other way around.

        As vessels, myths can function as life boats, providing safe passage from here to the Yonder Shore; or as burlap sacks for drowning unwanted kittens. It all depends on the intentions of the myth-makers.

        The power of myth is to bring into being the world stage on which we’re all playing our notorious parts. Thus, if our myths are wrong, the world we live in will go wrong.

        Our national myths (eg, Manifest Destiny) provide the context for public policy. For example, if it’s true that America is exceptional, then it makes sense that we hold ourselves above international laws. If it’s not, there’s going to be hell to pay for that almighty hubris.

        I’ve experienced what you describe, from Mexico. When I was younger, I had hope for the future. Days were long and languid. I looked forward to my way of life going on ad infinitum. Now, the horizons have closed in. Not the antiquated sword of Damocles, but the much more menacing drones of Obama hang over all our heads. Then there’s anthropogenic climate disruption, groundwater contamination from nukes and fracking, the collapse of the dollar, et cetera ad nauseam. I used to have unlimited hope for the future. The question was, how am I going to fit myself into this most excellent of all societies?

        These days, the question is, what can I do to redeem my time before it’s too late?

        Maybe it’s just a symptom of excess optimism, nevertheless I still have hope. The spectacular failure of the myth of American Exceptionalism is setting the stage for new metaphors to describe our way of being human in the world, such as that of the 1% vs the 99%, that themselves set the stage for a more perfect Union. I hope.

        1. from Mexico

          We’re so immersed in our mythologies that we’re oblivious to them.

          That’s why I’m such a fan of Nietzsche’s. He realized, for instance, that scientists may have peeled away a layer of the onion, but they’re still many layers away from anything that might resemble the truth. Science is but another piece of metaphysics.

          I am certainly not in agreement with Nietzche’s notion of will to truth, but at least Nietzsche wasn’t so naive as to fail to recognize there was a problem with Modern methaphysics.

          1. knowbuddhau

            Very interesting. I must confess to not having read Nieztsche. What I know about him comes mostly from what Joseph Campbell wrote. The bit about science peeling the onion of reality reminds me of the Gould quote I posted above.

            AS I’m sure you know, science doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The Western endeavor, as you probably know, has roots in the effort to find out “how God did it.” And the God they had in mind was a cosmic tyrant-engineer, envisioned as an almighty male, the Biggest Man up the Highest Stairs, who constructed the universe out of inert, stupid, lifeless “stuff”. They think that, for the world to take its “proper” form requires an outside intelligence to force it into shape.

            God supposedly did this all by his lonesome, making the whole cosmos his private property, to dispose of as he sees fit. God brought us into the world, the thinking goes; he can certainly take us out.

            In that sense, drones and indefinite detention aren’t aberrations; they’re what our holier-than-thou elites think God himself would do: blast the infidels with bolts from Heaven, or send them to hell for ever and ever amen.

            Wannabe war gods will be the death of us all.

          2. skippy

            “Nietzsche wasn’t so naive as to fail to recognize there was a problem with ***Modern methaphysics***” – Mexico = (cough DS)

            Spot on sir[!]… if but a slip.

            Skippy… Help[!!!]… it burns[!!!]… deliciously in my Dane Bramaged Head ~~~

        2. JohnL

          @knowbuddha, thanks for leading me to Joseph Campbell. Read hero with 1000 faces and working through the videos of the power of myth. Namaste.

    1. Expat

      It’s been pointed out that were the Middle East Buddhist, it would have been as violent because Western elites claim the area’s oil. You can’t blame religion for the ruthless bloodthirstiness of the 1%.

      1. Max424

        “You can’t blame religion for the ruthless bloodthirstiness of the 1%.”

        This is true, but only if you don’t consider capitalism a type of religion.

        Capitalists do put their faith in an imaginary Entity, after all, just like the other majors, only they call Him, Mr. Market. And just like the others, human reason is Mr. Market’s mortal enemy.

        “…were the Middle East Buddhist, it would have been as violent because Western elites claim the area’s oil.”

        Total gibberish.

        Forget violent acts, if you willingly consider aggression, even though it be but for a fraction of a moment, you are not Buddhist. PERIOD.

        “Should thieves carve you limb from limb with a double-handed saw, if you make your mind hostile, you are not following my teaching.”

        Try guessing who said that. I’ll even give you a couple clues, it wasn’t Gandhi or King.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Interesting he said, ‘…if you make your mind hostile…’

          That makes sense becuase even Gautama might have accidently stepped on ants as he wandered all over the subcontinent searching for enlightenment. But that was accidental, not with a hostile mind.

          That’s what I thought of when I read of, last spring, Egypt’s ‘angry’ peaceful protesters. I thought of ‘hostile’ minds. I thought of, instead of physical violence, emotional violence.

        2. Massinissa

          Oh for gods sake, that “REAL buddhists dont do violence” crap is bullshit. The same could be said of ALL religions.

          It can be said Islam is a religion of peace. But that doesnt mean individual Muslims are always men of peace. But at the same time it doesnt make it impossible to say that Islam is a religion of peace. Now, I could say that the violent extremist terrorists are ‘Not True Muslims’, but that mostly obfuscates the point. They believe themselves to be muslims, even if islam is only the thinnist of veils for atrocities.

          You cant really claim that the Buddhist Monks in Myanmar that preach that all the Rohingya ethnic group should be killed or expelled from Myanmar are not Buddhist. I mean, obviously Buddhist monks are Buddhist, even if they COMPLETELY miss the point of their entire faith…

          1. Max424

            “REAL buddhists dont do violence” crap is bullshit. The same could be said of ALL religions.

            Again, total gibberish. If you commit acts of violence, your are not Buddhist. PERIOD. Your are something else. Why does this not register? Is it the simplicity?

            Also, to even attempt to be an worthless follower of the way, you must use your reason, every cogent moment of every waking day. Does that sound like any faith based religion you’ve ever heard of?

            To call Buddhism a religion, is to insult religions.

            Note: I’m not Buddhist, personally. I’ve strived, and will continue to strive, but the Lordy knows, better than anyone else, I don’t have the necessary balls to be one.

          2. Procopius

            @JohnL – We are living in a degenerate age. When you reach the end of the path, you wanlt be here any more, ever.

            @MAX424 – I live in Thailand, where 92% of the people call themselves Buddhist. Hard numbers are hard to come by, but I’ve read that in 2000 we had 20,000 gun homicides while the U.S. had about 10,000, and we have one fifth the population. On the other hand as far as I can find out wee have never had a mass killing by one person with a gun (we’ve had some mass killings, but those were anti-communist efforts by the Army). I think Buddhism works much the same way as Christianity does in the U.S. Everybody wants to be one when they think about it, but they don’t think about it very often.

      2. knowbuddhau

        I seriously doubt that. I ‘d like to think that Buddhists would respond differently. Sadly, regimes populated by people who consider themselves Buddhist have not always distinguished themselves when it comes to remaining non-violent. Burma/Myanmar, I’m looking at you!

        Is this what you’re referring to?

        The Church of Our Man of Global Domination

        So think of this as Bush’s crusading scorecard for the years 2001-2007 — this record of barbarism with its guarantee of a “whirlwind of blowback,” as Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times puts it, and the unmistakable look of a war against Islam.

        In truth, the most obvious factor linking all of the above together, however, the real thing they have in common, is not, in the normal sense, religious at all. If there is a religious war going on, waged by men (and a few women) of faith, then that faith is neither Christianity, nor Judaism, nor is the war against Islam per se. It comes instead from the fundamentalist Church of Our Man of Global Domination and at its heart is the monotheistic religion of Force. If the arc of instability were inhabited by recalcitrant, angry, sometimes armed, and sometimes destructive Buddhists, sitting on vast energy reserves, this war would look like a war against the Buddha himself.

        The essential doctrine of faith that ties all the disparate foreign-policy acts of this administration together is the belief that to every global problem, to every difficult situation, there is but a single striking and uniform response — not the application of democracy, but the application of force.

        In its pursuit of force as a faith, the Bush administration has managed to lower the bar on all applications of force by any state (just as it has raised the value of a nuclear arsenal and so, despite its threats of war, lowered the bar on the proliferation of those weapons). This is but a small part of the price a regime of force must pay when force is such an inadequate instrument in our world. The single most striking aspect of Bush foreign policy is that, over and over, it is revealed to be a quiver with but a single arrow in it. If things are going well, you reach back, take that arrow of force, or the threat of it, and notch it into your bow. If things are going badly, you do the same. For an administration so focused on the domination of planetary resources, its officials have, in fact, proven themselves remarkably resourceless. [From Crusading in the Arc of Instability: George Bush’s Crusading Scorecard (2001-2007), The Look of a War against Islam.]

        The phrase “monotheistic religion of force” links to the following:

        So, as the world spins on a dime, where exactly are we?

        As a man who is no fan of fundamentalists of any sort, let me offer a proposition that might make some modest sense of our reeling planet. Consider the possibility that the most fundamental belief, perhaps in all of history, but specifically in these last catastrophic years, seems to be in the efficacy of force — and the more of it the merrier. That deep belief in force above all else is perhaps the monotheism of monotheisms, a faith remarkably accepting of adherents of any other imaginable faith — or of no other faith at all. Like many fundamentalist faiths, it is also resistant to drawing any reasonable lessons from actual experience on this planet.

        The Bush administration came to power as a fundamentalist regime; and here I’m not referring to the Christian fundamentalist faith of our President. After all, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, and our Vice President seem not to be Christian fundamentalists any more than were Paul Wolfowitz or Douglas Feith. Bush’s top officials may not have agreed among themselves on whether End Time would arrive, or even on the domestic social issues of most concern to the Christian religious right in this country, but they were all linked by a singular belief in the efficacy of force.

        In fact, they believed themselves uniquely in possession of an ability to project force in ways no other power on the planet or in history ever could. While hardly elevating the actual military leadership of the country (whom they were eager to sideline), they raised the all-volunteer American military itself onto a pedestal and worshipped it as the highest tech, most shock-and-awesome institution around. They were dazzled by the fact that it was armed with the smartest, most planet-spanning, most destructive set of weapons imaginable, and backed by an unparalleled military-industrial complex as well as a “defense” budget that would knock anyone’s socks off (and their communications systems down). It was enough to dazzle the administration’s top officials with dreams of global domination; to fill them with a vision of a planet-wide Pax Americana; to send them off to the moon (which, by the way, was certainly militarizable).

        Force, then, was their idol and they bowed down before it. When it came to the loosing of that force (and the forces at their command), they were nothing short of fervent utopians and blind believers. They were convinced that with such force (and forces), they could reshape the world in just about any way they wanted to fit their visionary desires. [From The Force Is Not with Them: The Middle East Aflame and the Bush Administration Adrift .]

        And this, too, is something I’m always on about. We in the West, ever since the ancient Greeks, have been inhabiting a denatured world, a world reduced to a mechanism. We are organisms who think of ourselves as mechanisms. Ain’t that something?

        This reductive way of being in the world is certainly powerful. It’s far, far easier to dominate people if you don’t think of them as people, but, for example, as mere voting-machines on two legs, ever so easily jacked. Or as factors of production, nothing but costs, the best thing to do with which is reduce them to zero.

        The US leadership thinks it can force any nation, any one, to submit if it can just apply the right amount of kinetic energy. We’re even using psychology as a weapon, to crack and hack human psyches.

        In all of this, they neglect the force of the human spirit. Which reminds me of what the late, great Stephen Jay Gould had to say about reductivism with regard to biology:

        But the deepest ramifications will be scientific or philosophical in the largest sense. From its late 17th century inception in modern form, science has strongly privileged the reductionist mode of thought that breaks overt complexity into constituent parts and then tries to explain the totality by the properties of these parts and simple interactions fully predictable from the parts. (”Analysis” literally means to dissolve into basic parts). The reductionist method works triumphantly for simple systems — predicting eclipses or the motion of planets (but not the histories of their complex surfaces), for example. But once again — and when will we ever learn? — we fell victim to hubris, as we imagined that, in discovering how to unlock some systems, we had found the key for the conquest of all natural phenomena. Will Parsifal ever learn that only humility (and a plurality of strategies for explanation) can locate the Holy Grail?

        The collapse of the doctrine of one gene for one protein, and one direction of causal flow from basic codes to elaborate totality, marks the failure of reductionism for the complex system that we call biology — and for two major reasons.

        First, the key to complexity is not more genes, but more combinations and interactions generated by fewer units of code — and many of these interactions (as emergent properties, to use the technical jargon) must be explained at the level of their appearance, for they cannot be predicted from the separate underlying parts alone. So organisms must be explained as organisms, and not as a summation of genes.

        Second, the unique contingencies of history, not the laws of physics, set many properties of complex biological systems. Our 30,000 genes make up only 1 percent or so of our total genome. The rest — including bacterial immigrants and other pieces that can replicate and move — originate more as accidents of history than as predictable necessities of physical laws. Moreover, these noncoding regions, disrespectfully called ”junk DNA,” also build a pool of potential for future use that, more than any other factor, may establish any lineage’s capacity for further evolutionary increase in complexity.

        The deflation of hubris is blessedly positive, not cynically disabling. The failure of reductionism doesn’t mark the failure of science, but only the replacement of an ultimately unworkable set of assumptions by more appropriate styles of explanation that study complexity at its own level and respect the influences of unique histories. [Humbled by the Genome’s Mysteries

        I hear lots of implications for the Occupy movement in that. Truly we live in deeply revolutionary times.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And those ‘monks’ from various temples who fought on the streets of Kyoto and the fighting warrior-monks of Mt. Hiei that Nobunanga massacred one reads about in Japanese history books.

        1. JohnL

          I think you nailed it. I’m a chemist, data scientist, and analytical problem solver. And I revel in the mystery of that which I can’t explain.

    2. from Mexico

      This is a polemic that falls under the same rubric as the anti-religious bigotry of folks like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. It is based on two claims that have little basis in experience or observation. Empirically speaking, that is, they are false.

      First, there’s the claim that the secular ideologies of Modernity are less violent than those of traiditonal religious ideologies. To wit, the author tells us:

      Violence dropped precipitously with the agricultural revolution, and then again with the Enlightenment and more recently, with the emergence of universal human rights.

      The genocides conducted in the name of secular ideologies, however, seem to have been purged from the historical account. Do the names Hitler and Stalin ring a bell? And I suppose to mention the many millions killed by the United States in the name of free markets and liberalism would be complete heresy.

      Second, there’s the claim that Abrahamic religions are more violent than other traditional religions. This fiction can be dispensed with quickly with even the slightest cross-cultural or historical analysis.

  2. Can't Help It

    Regarding “On the Killing Spree” article, I think I had pointed out the same thing regarding the Chinese school attacks. However after doing some more research, it turns out there were several deaths in a number of these attacks. Regardless of that though, there is going to be a ceiling in the number of deaths when it’s a man wielding a knife. People are not going to be convinced of this until there’s a person wielding an automatic weapon killing people in the triple digits and I believe this is simply a question of when especially when it comes to America.

    1. Ms G

      Perfectly sums up Progressive Obama Stenographer Fanclub Class holding the lines against those heretics, in increasing numbers, who are starting to see the Obama Con. Short version: “STFU” [whatever the insight, er, criticism]!

      The “STFU” form also has the virtue of stripping away the veneer of 11th Dimensional Chess by which Obama denialists contort themselves into triple-pretzels to save their delusions about President Cat Food Droner.

      1. Klassy!

        The ol’ chestnut from Kevin Drum is priceless in that it so mirrors the line fed to those critical of the selling of the Iraq war.
        The reasoning works in any situation! Try it at home or in the workplace:
        I’d literally (btw– glad it’s not just figuratively, Kevin) trust (the boss’s) judgment over my own. I think he’s smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted.
        Really, think how much easier life is when you adopt such an attitude. Think how many wingnuts! posts you have time to pump out now. Or you could finally tackle that second viewing of Mad Men, season three you put on the back burner.

        1. Ms G

          The Boss (or Mom, Dad, The Party, The Market, The Pres) is Always Right does make it so much easier to glide through life!

      2. Kokuanani

        I drop by Huffington Post occasionally and have been surprised to see an increase in “Obama’s no good; I never should have voted for him” comments.

        Used to be that when I’d make a comment critical of Obama, I’d get slammed six ways to Sunday.

        At least some folks are beginning to wake up.

      3. different clue

        Those nonrich people who oppose the Catfood Plan should work out ways to recognize eachother in analog meatspace. Also, they should learn how to recognize the nonrich Catfood Plan supporters in analog meatspace.

        If the Catfood Planners succeed in passing and signing the Catfood Plan, there will be ways for pre-old anti-Catfood people to plan for better (as against worse) approaches to Survivalism, modest health, etc.; in their old age. Kurt Saxon, Ran Prieur, Dmitri Orlov, etc. etc. etc. have been releasing information about this for shorter or longer spans of time.

        The nonrich people who suPPORT the Catfood Plan . . . do not deserve to benefit from any of this knowledge. It would be regrettable in the extreme if they were to learn how to survive when what they deserve . . . is to die. Can those of us who learn the survival knowledge at least withhold that knowledge from any pro-Catfood persons who appear to not have that knowledge?

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Hugo Salinas Price recently summed up the Reich point of view with something on the order of “Drop dead if you ain’t rich, suckers.”

  3. 10K Iskander equiv.

    Re Welsh’s universal cri de coeur, “Life in America is extraordinarily unpleasant”
    There seems to be more and more consensus that this state has no reason to exist. It’s an infection of our culture, seeping pus. Sure, the regime holds onto some atavistic legitimacy of a ritual nature, with party dupes hectoring you to vote, or senile patriots praying to the flag, or public worship of our plebeian cannon fodder. But everybody hates this state. People have been trained to focus their resentment on detachable parts of the state, a party or a vestigial institution like congress, or on rotating subjects of war propaganda, but that trick isn’t working any more. The state’s failure is too pervasive, and intensifying fast. So, how do you eradicate this state? How do you knock it over? Seriously, when a country like ours goes off the rails, how, in practice, does the world salvage the wreck?

    Like so.

    It’s very dense, unnecessarily, academically dense, but there’s a lot of good shit in there, empirical grounds for optimism. Primitive cultures backslide and the civilized world bucks them up. The process takes time, but it can destroy this criminal state and replace it.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      How can living in a land of free and patriotic people ever be unpleasant? Are you saying we are living in a totalitarian dictatorship?

    2. 10K MIRVed Iskanders

      Yeah a lot of our propaganda tries to conflate the people or the culture or the land mass with the state. It’s all part of America! It’s like how HIV hides in the cytoplasm.

      1. direction

        Attributing intent to a virus is misguided.

        Here’s the lovely video propaganda piece they show while you’re standing in line at customs. I love the part where the narrative seems to be: “Look at the fancy couple eating dinner up in a skyscraper. Oops, that’s not you; you are the waiter.”

        1. optimader

          that is absolutely excellent direction: Oops, that’s not you; you are the waiter.”

          I’ll confess I didnt make it all the way through this, but other than the waiter, it appears that only white people work in this country?

          I’ll leave you with: Oops, thats not you (the bears); you are the Salmon.

    3. dale pues

      It appears to me that the end of the empire is coinciding perfectly with the calamity occuring in our physical world because of climate change. I’ve suspected for a good many years too that the ‘controllers’ or ‘deciders’ are actually acutely aware of the impending doom, in spite of what they say or don’t say publically.

      1. charles sereno

        @ dale pues
        That all empires are doomed to end is not a certainty. 1) There haven’t been that many of them in the last 5,000 years. 2) None have been global until today. 3) Empires have failed because they didn’t adapt.
        The American Empire is global and arguably adaptive. It might last.

        1. dale pues

          It might last, but probably not. At least that’s what I got from Morris Berman’s Why America Failed ( I had gone in search for causes(and effects) of the Civil War that reached beyond the slavery issue and I discovered Berman’s WAF, specifically the fourth chapter. Adaptability doesn’t seem to be a feature of our empire, unless it refers to new weaponry. But that’s only half the story. Climate change is much bigger than the South or Mexico or Afghanistan. The empire has no weapons in its arsenal to combat it.

          1. different clue

            Also Russia, which is a contiguous settler-state empire; conquering and settling its Wild East the same way we conquered and settled our Wild West, has lasted for centuries so far.

            Also China, which appears to unite, disunite, and unite again and again . . . persists as a successful empire against its contiguous nonHan conquests and victim peoples.
            So empires need not die by definition.

  4. Dave of Maryland

    On gun violence and bosses as assholes.

    At many work sites there is a notice on the bulletin board, “X days since a serious accident.”

    At various places around a country there is a count-up meter with “The National Debt is $X trillion.”

    We could combine the two: “X days since a gun massacre.”

    See if we get further than 90 days before the next one. And the next. And the next. When will it be your kids, your family? Or mine?

  5. AbyNormal

    thought id kick at the woodpile of the otc kingpins (thank you open secrets)

    ICE Total Lobbying Expenditures:
    2012 $1,539,522
    2011 $1,296,364
    2010 $830,000
    IntercontinentalExchange Inc Lobbying by Industry
    2009 $690,000
    2008 $620,000
    2007 $580,000
    2006 $330,000
    2005 $280,000
    2004 $20,000
    2003 $60,000
    2002 $160,000

    No Bills Lobbied 02 – 07

    Bills Lobbied 2008 forward…Frost weaved it best: the slow smokeless burning of decay

    Bill direct link, plug in year of choice

  6. Ron

    Obama is a confirmed gun nut along with many in the Senate and House so while outrage continues over the latest mass shooting don’t expect any meaningful gun control from the political class.
    Instead expect this issue to become another Democrat VS Republican wedge issue used by both sides to charge there base but everyone needs to be clear that meaningful gun control will not happen under either the Democrats or Republicans.

  7. Ep3

    Yves, that counterpunch article never answered why, at least I thought.
    Here’s why I think cutting entitlements is so important to the bad guys. How are SS checks paid? The taxes come in to the general fund and then, just like paying for a battleship, SS checks are written and mailed to receipents. So even tho the funds can cover the current checks, since it gets muddled into the general fund, the argument is made that the govt has to borrow to pay checks.
    So now current debt has gone up and future debt. So let’s hypothetically cut entitlements. What happens? Current checks going out go down, but also current and future borrowings go down. And future payouts go down too. But I haven’t heard anyone talk about this in all the articles out there about SS? Why not? Am I wrong to think of it this way? I don’t think so. Because it is being talked about like it’s just another bill to pay. But it’s not, because all other bills don’t take in their own revenue stream and loan that to the general fund. So entitlements loan large sums to the govt and they expect to be paid back. But by cutting entitlements, you are telling that debtee that they won’t get paid back. Because there’s no talk about cutting payroll taxes (tho that’s the logical next step. Permenantly instate the employee FICA cut and then the next step will be to reduce the employers side of that.). My point is that the plans to cut entitlements is really about avoiding repaying all those bonds SS has. Since that trust fund is owed to poor ppl, it’s basically another form of stealing from the poor. So cuts to entitlements are really all about not repaying the trust fund.

    1. different clue

      No talk about cutting Payroll Taxes? But that’s just what Obama and the Shitobamacrats did with their so-called “Payroll Tax Holiday”. They did it to destabilize and shrink SS funding streams. They did it in hopes of making it permanent, just like Obama and the Shitobamacrats want to make the BushCoBama Tax Cuts permanent. But I agree . . . they haven’t been TALKing about that aspect of the Catfood Conspiracy.

  8. Kokuanani

    Yves, I haven’t seen anything here — perhaps I missed it — about David Dayen [“DDay”]’s retiring from FireDogLake.

    As anyone who’s read the links you’ve provided knows, David is a phenomenal writer, researcher, analyst. He did particularly good work on the foreclosure crisis and fraud.

    His “farewell column” [without any GBCW] is at

    I for one will miss him greatly, and look forward to his return on some forum.

    1. rjs

      does anyone know who will cover his beat?

      his site (FDL news) has been part of my daily routine too…like the grey “n” of NC, i have the blue FDL icon on my toolbar…

    2. Goin' South

      Your link eventually leads to a Seder interview of Dayen that’s worth listening to.

      It’s telling about our media situation that a guy like Dayen is apparently jobless. You’d think that his skills would have earned him an offer or two in his pocket. But then again, he’s not a sellout.

  9. john bougearel

    huff post article on fiscal cliff sounds like the entire govt is suffering from a huge case of optimism bias….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Step 1:

      Scientists discover how our brains categorize and map everything we see

      Step 2:

      The 0.01% make scientists rich by rewarding them for manipulating how the 99.99% (that’s you and me) categorize and map everything we see, in order to further consolidate/expand their wealth and power.

      If that doesn’t make you want to be just the second person in the world to join S.O.U.L. (Society Of United Luddites), I don’t know what will.

  10. KFritz

    Re: Killing Sprees

    No arguments against the posited reasons for the US predilection for killing sprees compared to other nations with comparable gun ownership.

    In addition, Professor Adam Lankford of the University of Alabama, has done ground-breaking research that shows a remarkable similarity in the psychological profiles of terrorist martyrs and mass killers. He encapsulated in the 17 Dec NYT.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    One nation under God? Thus, inquires the NY Times.

    What is without question is this: Under God, many nations…even godless ones.

    And only godless nations in the Middle East does/did God exact revenge. Godless empires in Asia and the Americas…well, God sent other gods to punish them.

  12. Elliot

    re: Ian Welsh
    Way too gun-apologist, too anti-science, too anti-medicine to pay attention to. For a sharply detailed takedown on the “it’s not the guns” arguments, go here:
    –relevant quote:
    “If one wanted to invoke mental illness as an explanation for the shootings, one would still need to explain why the person decided to get guns and shoot others as opposed to, say, run naked in the streets, a behavior that would also get the person defined as mentally ill. And one would still have to explain why mentally ill people do not pick killing with guns as the behavior expression of their mental illness in other countries.”

    Plus also, in Ian’s screed, incidence of medication in other countries is not referenced, rates of shooters’ actually taking medications, rates of shooters’ diagnoses, etc. We need to get Orac over at Respectful Insolence to explain anecdata to him.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Anyone who is for a global ban on nuclear weapons should be, in principle, for a global ban on all guns, regardless of whether the owner is a biological or non-biological organism (a corporation, a NGO or military unit).

      Taking one human life (and animal life, for a not-so-small number of people) is as bad as taking a million.

      Spritually speaking, 1 = ∞.

  13. Hugh

    In the US, we have an explosive mixture of a culture of violence and a prevalence of guns, and unsurprisingly it explodes from time to time.

    Gun violence is actually conducive to kleptocracy. It makes the 99% afraid, and the fearful are more easily manipulated. It keeps them distrustful of each other and so unable and unwilling to come together and oppose the depredations of the elites and the rich. As long as it’s 20 kids and not 20 bankers, the powers that be have nothing to worry about.

    And even when the structures of the rich and powerful are targeted as on 9/11 or McVeigh’s attack in Oklahoma City, it is mostly just ordinary people, and not the rich and powerful who die. The difference is that the rich and elites perceived 9/11 as an attack upon them and unleashed the War on Terror and multiple conventional and unconventional wars in all their endless, multi-trillion dollar glory. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, brought no similar war on the anti-state, survivalist, white supremacist crowd. Why? McVeigh meant his attack to be against the state, but the rich and powerful weren’t threatened by it. If McVeigh had parked his truck next to the Capitol and set it off when members were there, then they would have been.

    This is the thing we need to understand: guns and a violent society are indispensable to the looting of the rich and the elites. Looting is violence, in many ways the supreme violence, but it can so quickly be lost and covered up in a sea of other violence, some of it real, much of it fictive. Violence can be exalted and romanticized by the gun culture. It can be used to justify government repression, the stripping away of our rights, and the construction of a surveillance state. In other words, violence, or more precisely the fear of violence, can be used to create even greater violence. The gun culture is, in particular, good for this since, although it bills itself as a response to violence, it breeds both violence and the fear of violence, in a never ending loop.

    Again to paraphrase Emma Goldman: If guns changed anything, they (the powers that be, the rich and their elites) would make them illegal. But they don’t, because guns serve their purposes perfectly. They keep us afraid, divided, easier to control, while posing no danger to themselves.

    1. from Mexico


      There actually is an alternative to meeting violence with greater violence, or toughness with a greater toughness as Martin Luther King put it. The alternative is nonviolent resistance, or noncooperation with violent methods. Unfortunately, the method of nonviolence is of recent vintage and is all but unknown in more traditional forms of thought, such as conservatism, liberalism or Marxism.

      That the evangelists of violence want to completely obliterate nonviolence from the list of options available for reordering society, despite the fact that nonviolence has had some remarkable successes over the past century, is a dead giveaway as to their true agenda: full specutrum dominance by the plutocracy.

  14. LeonovaBalletRusse

    YVES, Danny Schechter mentions NC:
    (23 Dec2012)

  15. JohnB

    Interesting quote on the Ian Welsh article, which is an interesting but not-oft-discussed aspect of modern society: (particularly the bolded part)

    More people are mentally ill because of your society, but not as many as are medicated. People have to be medicated to function in American society because it requires unpleasant and unnatural behaviour, virtually all the time. School and work both require people to act in ways that normal, healthy, unmedicated individuals find hard to sustain. Add to that the fact that social ties have, over the last 60 years, absolutely collapsed, leaving most people with almost no friend or close family, and people need to drug themselves to get through their day. They are sicks, scared and lonely. And at the very edges of this, the occasional person cracks, goes ballistic and kills a lot of people.

    What do people make of this? I myself relate strongly to the entire quote (minus the drugs and killing people part, mind ;)), as I developed increasing social discomfort through school, and am pretty isolated now as a result, and find it rather hard to reintegrate into society now (I work, self employed at home, but don’t have any real social contact).

    Maybe my view is just skewed (or conversely, perhaps my position gives me a more unique aspect), but there is much about society today which does feel particularly closed off and impersonal, including socially, and leaves me not just without a good idea of how to manageably reintegrate socially, but also without any idea of what kind of social contact I want either (who or what kind of people I want to know, what options for socializing I have (outside of a pub, being from Ireland), and whatnot).

    Anyway, I come from a rather unusual position here, but the quote still seems to touch on a rather significant but not often discussed aspect of society, that it’d be interesting to hear other opinions on.

Comments are closed.