Links 4/25/13

These Are the Most Magnificent Chickens You’ll Ever See Slate (Richard Smith)

Photographer Captures Dramatic Battle Between Orcas and Sperm Whales Wired (Robert M)

Flying in the face of the organic debate Sydney Morning Herald (YY)

U.S. gives big, secret push to Internet surveillance CNet (Howard Beale IV)

Should we charge land for vagrancy? MacroBusiness. It’s Anzac Day in Oz!

Japan Leader Charts Path for Military’s Rise Wall Street Journal (Scott).

Greece’s Trap Crooked Timber (mookie)

Crisis for Europe as trust hits record low Guardian (Scott)

Italy Led by Letta Brings Berlusconi Back to Governing as Winner Bloomberg

Italy needs Churchillian leader to fight ‘war damage’ of EU austerity Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Ex-Bush Official Willing to Testify Bush, Cheney Knew Gitmo Prisoners Innocent Truthout (Carol B). Via Jesse, who also quotes Zola. Hope that is not an omen. Zola may have been murdered (carbon monoxide poisoning from a stuffed chimney).

The Boston Bombing and the Militarization of Risk Triple Crisis

Was Boston Bomber Radicalized at U.S.-Sponsored Workshop? George Washington. The underlying story is from Izvetzia (the real one, not our local imitators), so consider the source, but the flip side is the Russian making noise in public about how they’d sent warnings re the older Tsarnaev forced the FBI to confess, yes it had been warned and found nothing noteworthy.

Like Fifth-Rate Marx Brothers, Without the Laughs Arthur Silber (Lambert)

Wolf Blitzer Decks Boston Man Who Hasn’t Been Healed By Red Sox Baseball Onion

Eric Schneiderman Challenges Obama Administration Over Mortgage Investigations Ryan Grim and Shahien Nasiripour, Huffington Post. This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. Schneiderman complaining now, after the statute of limitations on the really bad stuff has passed, that he was had?

Farewell Max Baucus CounterPunch (Carol B)

Four massive explosions rock shipyard in Mobile, Alabama RT (Lambert)

Multiple explosions in fuel barge fire Fox10 (Lambert)

Stephen King confirms donation to state gun control group, reiterates need for tighter restrictions Bangor Daily News

An Open Letter to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt on Drones DIY Drones.

NYPD To Inject Totally Harmless Gas Into Subway This Summer Gothamist. Remind me not to go there.

Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That’s OK Matt Yglesias, Salon. Yglesias channels Larry Summers sending garbage barges to Africa, this time using garbage jobs. This is the news hook, BTW: Death toll rises in Dhaka factory collapse Financial Times. Also relevant: Owen Jones: Our shameful hierarchy – some deaths matter more than others Independent (furzy mouse)

Central Banks Load Up on Equities as Low Rates Kill Bond Yields Bloomberg

Possible Fed Successor Has Admirers and Foes New York Times

Qualified Residential Mortgages Adam Levitin, Credit Slips. Levitin has to correct an article in the New York Times.

JPMorgan under pressure in Basel spat Financial Times. The perverse spectacle of JPM arguing against Eurobanks’ race to the bottom.

In a Desperate Bid to Lift the Stock Price and Re-capture the All-time Highs, Apple Introduces iToke (AAPL; TOKE) Climateer Investing (Marshall)

MF Again Steve Lubben, Credit Slips. Lubben is not optimistic about the suit against Corzine.

Public debt and economic growth, one more time VoxEU

As Your Attorney, I Advise You That Miranda Is Bullshit NSFW (mookie). Unlocked for the next day or so, so be sure to read now if interested.

There is no alternative aeon (Jeremy B). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (Lysa):


Bonus antidote (furzy mouse). I know armadillos are mammals, but they look like little dinosaurs that somehow got lost when the big Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event happened.


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  1. Skeptic

    Flying in the face of the organic debate Sydney Morning Herald (YY)

    Organic Food vs Industrial, Chemicalized Matter

    One problem with this issue is that presently there is no easy way to measure the actual Nutrition in food. Thus, Matter can be made to appear to be Food, when it is actually not.

    Does this sound familiar? Does this sound very much like bundling “mortgages” into “securities” and then selling them to an unwitting public. In that case, the “securities” were actually rated by agencies.

    In the case of Food, there are no ratings; thus the field is wide open to Deceit and Fraud. An orange bunch of matter may look like a carrot but, in fact, is not a nutritious carrot but a cosmetic one. Our food system resembles Wall Street more and more each day, as it mimics and implements its principles, such as “money must move as fast as possible”. (See GM Salmon that grow to maturity in half the time.)

    So, we also have a problem of language. One may call a tuber grown in sterile, chemicalized soil a potato while another tuber grown in rich, organic, naturally fertilized, microbial rich soil is also called a potato. All potatoes are not equal. Nor are all salmon.

    Imagine that gasoline was not regulated (we will ignore the question of regulatory capture and corruption). There would be lots of companies cheating on the Octane, yet it still would appear to be gasoline and still called by the same name. But it may not be ageeable to your car and may damage it. Thus with Food, there are no regulations as to Nutrition.

    So, people buying Food, should first try to understand the underlying Nutrition in what they are buying. This is easily done and can bypass the current AGRIBIZ/FDA corrupted system.

    Maybe start by looking up a local organic chapter or farmers’ market or food cooperative. Maybe attend an Organic Conference. There is a famous one in Western Mass:

    You can’t make your own gasoline but you can actually and rather easily grow some of your own Food. You will actually know what went in to it and be able to trust in it. Can’t say that for many things these days.

    You buy Industrial, Chemicalized Matter and you support the 1%. And be less healthy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Nice analogy.

      Let’s put the 0.01% on notice.

      By the way, I had lunch yesterday at an organic salad buffet and paid for it by weight.

      It’s like buy new books by weight.

      “How much is that economic book?”

      “Let me weigh it.”

  2. dearieme

    How many rounds did the various police forces discharge in Boston? I do wonder because it’s not clear that they achieved any more than badly wounding the two terrorists, or, if the older one wasn’t killed by his brother running him over with a car, killing one and wounding one.

    On the other hand, perhaps they deserve compliments for firing large numbers of rounds without killing or wounding any innocents. So, I repeat; is it known how many bullets they fired?

  3. from Mexico

    @ “Crisis for Europe as trust hits record low”

    Quotes from the article:

    José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, said on Tuesdaythis week the European “dream” was under threat from a “resurgence of populism and nationalism” across the EU. “At a time when so many Europeans are faced with unemployment, uncertainty and growing inequality, a sort of ‘European fatigue’ has set in, coupled with a lack of understanding.”


    Within the eurozone, the key response to the crisis, apart from bailouts, has been to embark on a systematic surrender of budgetary and fiscal powers from national governments and parliaments to Brussels, as well as having countries being bailed out overseen by a “troika” of technocrats and economists from the commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These are “federalising” steps in a long process of eurozone integration that might see it transformed from a currency into a political union.


    Barroso argued strongly in two speeches this week that federalism was the only answer to Europe’s crisis of finances and of confidence. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, brushing off widespread fears of a new German “hegemony” in Europe and the eurozone, also said that governments had to give up much more power to Brussels.

    “We still haven’t found the answer to the question of whether we’re actually now prepared to unite on common economic parameters inside the single currency area,” she said in a Berlin debate with the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk. “If we want to have a common currency, a common Europe, we have to be ready to give up our hard-won habits … That means we have to be prepared to accept that in the end Europe has the final word in certain things. Otherwise we can’t keep on building this Europe … To an extent, we have to jump over our own shadows. I’m ready for that.”

    Perhaps no one has ever more eloquently captured the mentality of folks like Barroso and Merkel, who like the French aristocrasy were intent upon digging their own graves, than Charles Dickens:

    It was too much the way…to talk of this terrible Revolution as if it were the one only harvest ever known under the skies that had not been sown — as if nothing had ever been done, or omitted to be done, that had led to it — as if observers of the wretched millions in France, and of the misused and perverted resources that should have made them prosperous, had not seen it inevitably coming, years before, and had not in plain words recorded what they saw.


    All the devouring and insatiate Monsters imagined since imagination could record itself, are fused in the one realisation, Guillotine. And yet there is not in France, with its rich variety of soil and climate, a blade, a leaf, a root, a sprig, a peppercorn, which will grow to maturity under conditions more certain than those that have produced this horror. Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms.

    -CHARLES DICKENS, A Tale of Two Cities

      1. Nathanael

        These are spectacularly dangerous unemployment numbers for any government. Perhaps Rajoy finally has the fear of the mob in him.

    1. Hugh

      Yes, Europe’s political classes are so locked into their own sense of privilege and indispensability that they truly can’t see why the serfs should be so restive and so unappreciative of their immiseration by these ruling elites.

      It is also interesting to see the Orwellian lexicon Barroso and his class are using.

      populism = democracy = bad

      federalism = no democracy = good

      Europe = fiscal union but no debt union = good

      Nationalism = resistance to the above = bad

      That is Barroso is all for the repayment of bad loans no matter what on a national, not European, basis but then decries opposition to this as nationalism.

      1. Susan the other

        It was annoying last year when Germany was demanding the repayment of “sovereign debts” when all the EU countries had given up their sovereignty when they joined the union. They could not print their way out and they could not pay because they had no sovereignty to do so. And the ECB refused to share. Now Merkel is talking about a political federation. Which will do the same thing, like our states must balance their budgets and cannot print their own currency (so far anyway) and the Fed only does a little revenue sharing. So with a federation there will be an EU deficit but the former sovereigns will still have to balance their budgets.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Today’s hagiography of Janet Yellen in the Times-Titanic is the de facto nomination of the next Fed Chair Sataness. Excerpts:

    Ms. Yellen is now widely viewed as a logical candidate to succeed the current Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, when his term ends in January 2014.

    Mr. Bernanke may have signaled his departure last week when the Fed announced that he planned to skip an annual summer conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The Fed’s chairman has attended the event in each of the previous 25 years.

    Ms. Yellen’s critics remain wary. They worry that she would not be sufficiently concerned about the possibility that inflation will accelerate as the economic recovery gains strength.

    Her nomination would be unlikely to shake financial markets because she already exercises considerable influence, so any shift in policy would most likely be modest.

    Shake financial markets? Quite the contrary! On the enticing prospect of Yellen’s QE5, markets likely will shift into turbo mode, anticipating a fresh wave of free money.

    Seriously: buy the rumor, sell the news. In 1987, U.S. stocks soared 40% in anticipation of the austerian Volcker’s departure, reaching a fevered peak two weeks after Greenspan’s Senate confirmation on 11 Aug 1987.

    As Yellen takes the helm at the dawn of its second century, the Fed’s raison d’être remains the same: to provide war finance for the U.S. empire, and speculative finance for Wall Street.

    Look on its works, ye Mighty, and despair.

    1. Jim Haygood

      This just in, right on schedule:

      Debate among Federal Reserve policy makers is shifting away from the timing of a reduction in bond buying to the need to extend record stimulus as inflation cools and 11.7 million Americans remain jobless.

      At their meeting last month, several members of the Federal Open Market Committee advocated slowing purchases and stopping them by year-end. Since then, seven have voiced support for maintaining the current pace, including … New York Fed President William C. Dudley.

      “After reviewing the efficacy and costs of this program, I have concluded that that efficacy has been as high or higher than I expected at the onset of the program and costs the same or lower,” Dudley said in a speech in New York.

      Costs? What costs? Dudley and his accomplices simply create $85 billion a month of thin-air reserves to buy securities from Wall Street. Then they publicly wring their hands over the ‘costs,’ as if they were sober and responsible managers who actually had to struggle to wring out a modest profit.

      Dudley’s inverted principles remind one of the Brazilian hoodlum whose getaway car was stolen while he was caught on video robbing a store. In a police interview, the hoodlum expressed outrage at his victimhood: ‘That car was MINE. I stole it just yesterday!

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        … “The spayed chihuahuas bark, and the money caravan moves on.”

        (Thanks for that play on the old Arab (Putin?) proverb yesterday, Jim. I’m still chuckling… mostly at myself.)

    2. Susan the other

      So isn’t it a conflict of interest for central banks to be buying stocks and equities? Since they flood their markets with QE, inflating those very equities. Maybe it’s a way to keep the market from crashing. For sure Bernanke would be happy to buy up all the private equity REITS that are buying real estate until they can sell it. How disgusting.

      1. nonclassical


        it isn’t about “raising equity values”…it’s about not allowing them to deflate to actual value..

        ear to ground says IF all were at “market value”, ON market, over lengthy period, actual value is perhaps 50-60% of…

        and IF all were at “market value” immediately, today, actual value is perhaps
        20-40% of..

    1. Richard Kline

      Regarding why, as discussed at length in this piece, the center-left in Europe and the pseudo-Left in the US flounder completely unmoored at this time, in more disarray from the financial crisis and more alienated from their putative base than is the Right, the answer is actually rather simple in my view. The Center-Left still believes that they operate within a system in which all of society has a stake. Bourgeois Liberals similarly have this view. The Right and the corporatist oligarchy share no such perspective. Thus the Center and the Soft Left feel an instinctive need to compromise; to debate; to reach a ‘national policy;’ to stabilize ‘the economy’ in which we all putatively participate. While the corporatist oligarchy and their bought tools take the dumb patsies for everything but their empty, ritual chad-punchings on election day.

      The oligarchy, and with ideological similarity the Right, do NOT believe we are all in this together. They have the view that they are in it for themselves and their cronies. The rest can starve or rot as long as they do so mutely and with no force. The Soft Left and bourgeois just can’t get their heads around such selfishness and so simply pretend the oligarchs don’t mean what they say and don’t intend the outcomes of their actions. The idea that one has to organize, and worse to resist, is so abhorrent to the Soft Left, so, so _foreign_ that they’d rather flounder ‘nobly,’ lose flatulently, dither when in ‘power,’ and whimper when not than take a single meaningful act which might impact their personal net worth acquired by ‘all being in it together.’ The Soft Left keeps groping for a workable compromise with a criminal elite who intends to take all the marbles and leave the losers to pay for the game.

      Polybius had an argument, still neither finalzied nor falsified by historical experience, that there was a natural circulation of political systems over time, democracy simply one phase, coming and going as others more oligarchical and monarchical in their turn. I’ve never been sure that I buy that, but one thing that’s clear is that no ‘system state’ is fixed long term; there’s always nascence-flourescence-marcesence-rot.

      There’s more to consider from that particular article, on how the superstructure of governance and wealth has become completely unmoored from a productive base in developed economies for instance, but I’m out of time for this day.

      1. Massinissa

        Entropy appears to effect ALL complex social systems: Democracy and Capitalism, and particularly Capitalist Democracy, due to their extreme complexity, are no less exempt from this. Like the body of an old man, the worlds capitalist democracies are rapidly decaying.

        The Soft Left just isnt able to cope with the paradigm shift. They just dont get it, dont see it happening. Theyre stuck in the 70s and 80s. The Right is coping better, partly because theyre partially responsible in leading the damn thing, or at the very least are able to make small adjustments in the course of the change in order to benefit their interests.

        The Soft Left is stuck in the old rules of the game, unable to comprehend that maybe, just maybe, the rules are changing under their feet. The old options available to them in the past are just no longer viable at this point.

        To be fair to them though, Im not really sure whats going on either. But I know the working class and whats left of the middle class need to DO something to protect itself from the predatory elite. The Soft Left, traditionally allied with the petty bourgoise middle class, is sitting on their hands while the majority of the traditional middle class disappears around them, displaced by a narrow economic majority of unheard of economic power in world history. Never before has such a narrow slice of a population monopolized such a majority of the wealth of such a rich society.

        Is it really fair for me to judge the Soft Left so harshly? Its difficult to cope with change even in the best of times. Things are changing so rapidly, it truly is hard to know whats going on. But at the end of the day, when the game is over, there are no excuses for defeat, especially when the loss is something so dear.

        But when someone steals from you, as the elite are doing now, its required to defend oneself.

        The Soft Left is too confused that the elite are breaking the pre-established social rules and social contracts that formerly governed Democratic Capitlism, and give up and let the elite take everything the working and middle classes have spent decades fighting for, that the soft left previously pretended to be the stewards and protectors of. So bewildered is the soft left, theyre beginning to help the elite with their plunder, even though the soft left will be one of the biggest losers from this state of affairs.

        Its a sad day, and I dont know if I know what to do myself. I might further retreat intellectually and emotionally into marxism and try to ignore the world around me. I really dont know…

        1. Synopticist

          The MF Global saga is the one thing that really changed my outlook on power, and who truly wields it. I’m no spring chicken, and I thought I understood how these processes worked themselves out.

          Briefly, it’s to do with who the very rich get to f*ck. They can obviously f*ck the poor, that’s normal, and can frequently do it to the middle, but not too often, and not too blatantly. In an emergency, they can shaft the upper-middle, but thats pretty dangerous. And rare. However, I always strongly believed, they couldn’t, or for the purposes of self-preservation, wouldn’t, f*ck the fairly rich.

          Who ever you are, I thought, you can’t get away with shafting the upper, upper-middle class, the investor class, the lower-upper class, the wealthy land holders, the not-quite elite. The Grand Bourgeoise. These are the people the state was set up to protect, in whos’ interests the laws have been written. They’re the backbone, inventors and chief beneficiary of “Rule of law Capitalism”, and thats how it;s been since the very dawn of modern capitalism, since prosperous Dutch burghers and English country gentlemen first started investing in joint stock companies and established brokers accounts for their trading enterprises. They may be farmers, or have farming interests, but they’re not the high Aristocracy, they can’t just rely on their landholdings and inherited property. They’re not Oligarchs, they’re not rich enough to live off the interest on their interest, so they need to trade, to invest and do business. They are the capitalist class, par excellence, and they’re been pretty well the ruling class in the western world for centuries, in American in particular.

          These are the sort of people who have traditionally used brokerage accounts, to shift money around between more risky assets, to sell forward their unharvested crops, and as a totally safe place to keep their cash. Because they’re super safe, as brokers have hardly ever gone bankrupt, and when they have (like maybe a few a century) the brokerage accounts have always been untouched. They have absolute priority. Safer than a bond, safer than a bank deposit.

          So when MF Globals’ creditors, mostly banks, led by JPM, managed to get Chapter 7 bankruptcy, rather than Chapter 11, I knew the world had irrevocably changed. Brokerage accounts would no longer have priority. Rich farmers had their crops looted. Hedge fund dealers took a haircut. Commodity dealers got scalped. WEALTHY people got fu*ked over.

          Suddenly, the Wall Street oligarchs were powerful enough to steal from sort of people who had brokerage accounts. And crucially, the law let them.

          The super-rich looting the rich with impunity. That’s pretty f*cking rare in human history, and it seems to be happening all over the west now, not just at MF Global. The 0.1 percent are enriching themselves at the top 3 percents expense. Previously, they’d have been happy to cut them a share.

          This smacks of a pre-revolutionary situation to me. But like Massinissa, I’m really not sure what to do about it.

          1. Nathanael

            Synopticist: exactly. Your analysis matches mine roughly speaking.

            The thing is, the top elite is now screwing with people with *power and means*. Traditionally, there’s only one way to get away with that: manage to get the mob on your side. But the elite are alienating the mob too.

            The current elite are therefore doomed. The questions are, how will they go down, and what will replace them. Since they won’t go down without a fight, this is definitively a pre-revolutionary situation. It could be as tidy as a palace coup, though.

          2. Richard Kline

            So Massinissa, you talk about ‘change more rapid than at any time in history.’ That simply isn’t so. Change in the 1870-1900 or 1918-1940 periods was appreciably more rapid and of larger scale. I’d argue in fact that there is _no_ particularly ‘rapid’ vector of social change operative in developed economies. Tech penetration, maybe, but it’s just not that impactful. Electrification radically changed economies and life styles whereas present tech is just tweets and hustles. Internet billions can’t begin to compare to the vast fortunes achieved by modern inorganic chemistry synthesis, for instance.

            And Synopticist, we hear again about ‘how exceptionally rare the rich looting the rich is in human history’ and how the present rich elite are putatively so much richer than the mass of the population. Neither proposition holds up at all. Feudal magnates were vastly richer than the bulk of the population even if absolute wealth wasn’t what we see today. Almost any feudal society—China, Eastern Europe, Imperial Turkey, medieval Italy—had wealth disparities which dwarf the modern. And in those times, and many others the elite rich had no compunction whatsoever regarding looting the mearly wealthy. The Spanish Hapsburgs were quite willing to loot and impoverish the magnates of Flanders who not only contribued enormous wealth to that Empire but also provided large bodies of troops as well. The Manchu strata had no problem with looting very wealthy Chinese functionaries or even lesser grandees of their own. Napoleon didn’t call a halt at any time in looting the extremely wealthy in anyplace he went, even if he’d cut a deal with many of them before and after, the ultimate pragmatist. And so on. Nothing ‘rare’ about any of this.

            What is exceptional, though, is that under modern liberal democracies which have practiced ‘the rule of law’ intrinsic to their social and political orders, this _has_ rarely happened, and was considered highly abberant. And that circles back to my larger point. The social compact of modern liberal democracies has been completely junked by the elite in their own practice, and that behavior is aped by the political parties closest to them, or puppeteered by them. We have no rule of law; yes, I would agree. My first point is that the Soft Left still believes we do, and this fantasy paralyzes them. The Soft Left has _no place_ in politics without the rule of law, for instance, and they haven’t the stomach to face the fight implied. There’s little in the way of working class solidarity left, however. The middle class hopes that their credentials, and in most case their whiteness, will save them from the putatively ‘deserved’ fate of the lower classes, and so won’t budge, huddling in their cubicles and bungalows, waiting for the Pink Slip Cheka or leather coated Credit Investigator Gestapo come for them one by one and take them away.

            —And much more in the same vein. The actual institutional power of the Oligarchy here is far weaker than many acknowledge. Very few individuals are actually beholden to them. The Oigarchy thrives on having twisted the regulatory, party, and media apparatuses to propagandize the public and payoff their apparatchik political drones. Very little of the public is on any direct payroll of the elite, or has benefits directly linked to their favor. From that perspective, I’m with Nathanel in his remark: a palace coup so to speak is a very real possibility, of the wealthy against the criminal oligarchy. That isn’t necessarily a good thing for the citizenry as a whole; or a bad thing. The agenda of the wealthy might be ‘to restore normalcy.’ Or it might be to sit themselves down in the place of a displaced elite. And it really doesn’t matter whether the Oligarchy decided ‘to fight,’ they have little political power, don’t control the police, have very little sway with the military, don’t dominate the courts, and don’t have direct political parties of their own in the US (though they do in the EU). Yes, we do have a two-tier economy, certainly since TARP. yes, we manifestly have a two-tier justice system; at the present. If one considers the Oligarchy in Russia, those conditions also hold, but then the intitutional base is so weak there a starchy Tsar like Putin can also operate against _them_ with impunity. Berlousconi the Mafioso may be above the legal system in Italy, but that isn’t the situation in the US. What the the US Oligarchy has is control of the big chunk of assets and cronism galore within the executive system. That wouldn’t save them against any energetic effort to remove them. But such an effort won’t come from the Soft Left, that’s for sure.

          3. Procopius

            Oops! I think you got that turned around. The law and CFTC regulations (and I believe SEC regulations and past practice) clearyl require that MF Global be reorganized under Chpater 7, which would give the customers more protection. Instead, the SEC, for reasons unknown, after a secret meeting, ordered that they be put under Chapter 11, which gives JP Morgan Chase an advantage in looting what’s left. Meanwhile, as we know, Holder has announced the Justice Department will not prosecute because the case is too complicated for a jury to understand. I just saw a blog which described the civil suit filed in Delaware as strange because it seems to be written in such a way that the courts are likely to find in favor of Corzine. Ho hum, just another day in a lawless country. At least we don’t have as many armed militias as Somalia.

      2. from Mexico

        Richard Kline said:

        The oligarchy, and with ideological similarity the Right, do NOT believe we are all in this together. They have the view that they are in it for themselves and their cronies. The rest can starve or rot as long as they do so mutely and with no force. The Soft Left and bourgeois just can’t get their heads around such selfishness and so simply pretend the oligarchs don’t mean what they say and don’t intend the outcomes of their actions.

        I think this is a tad bit too dualistic, and thus allows the projection of all blame, some of which we should shoulder ourselves, onto others. I much prefer Reinhold Niebuhr’s take:

        But there is a more fundamental error in the social philosophy of democratic civilization than the individualism of bourgeois democracy and the collectivism of Marxism. It is the confidence of both bourgeois and proletarian idealists in the possibility of achieving an easy resolution of the tension and conflict between self-interest and the general interest.


        [W]e may well designate the moral cynics, who know no law beyond their will and interest, with a scriptural desigation of “children of this world” or “children of darkness.” Those who believe that self-interest should be brought under the discipline of a higher law could then be termed “the children of light.”


        Our democratic civilization has been built, not by children of darkness but by foolish children of light. It has been under attack by the children of darkness, by the moral cynics, who declare that a strong nation need acknowlege no law beyond its strength. It has come close to complete disaster under this attack, not because it accepted the same creed as the cynics; but because it underestimated the power of self-interest, both individual and collective, in modern socity.


        It must be understood that the children of light are foolish not merely because they underestimate the power of self-interest among the children of darkness. They underestimate this power amongst themselves… Moral cynicsm had a provisional advantage over moral sentimentality. Its advantage lay not merely in its own lack of moral scruple but also in its shrewd assessment of the power of self-interest, individual and national, among the children of light, despite their moral protestations.

        — REINHOLD NIEBHUR, “The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness”

        1. looselyhuman

          Its advantage lay not merely in its own lack of moral scruple but also in its shrewd assessment of the power of self-interest, individual and national, among the children of light, despite their moral protestations.

          So how should we idealists proceed? What is the proper and effective middle ground – how do we assess this power without capitulating to the inevitability of the dominance of unmitigated self-interest?

          1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

            I think we need to learn more about psychopaths and psychopathic personalities.

          2. Richard Kline

            It is in everyone’s self-interest (except the ultra-wealthy) to keep a functioning civil society going, with an educational system, a rule of law, and an autonomous judiciary. That takes money. That takes taking down political interests which attack that institutional base directly. Most of us will have far worse lives, with much more stability and much less choice without that civil society. Individuals in developed societies tend to lose sight of that. Those poorer or dependent upon communal solidarities are much more aware of the value of civil society. Those comfortably middle class tend to see themselves as exceptionally deserving, though, and not to see the societal base which makes their lives comfortable and way of life possible. In the comfortable classes, ‘they did it themselves’ and don’t need to participate, and can ‘let Tech do it,’ and so on. The comfortably middle class don’t see the truly wealthy as a foe, and that is the largest part of their blindness: they’d love to _be_ filthy rich, how can they loathe them? So the formerly comfortable classes are disarmed.

        2. Klassy!

          Yes, I think that dualism sets you up for failure. It also sets you up for expectations that can’t be met.

        3. Andrew Watts

          It would be a mistake to ascribe all the injustice that has been inflicted to a simple-minded explanation of evilness. While it provides the necessary morale to combat injustice, this attitude paves the road for the creation of more injustice further down the line. When an individual or a group is blind to their own capacity for injustice they can rationalize any evils that they commit in the course of their righteous cause. To commit evil one must believe himself to be good.

          Niebuhr believed social conflict was inevitable. He also believed there was ground for diverse social interests to unite based upon common interest. This was a theory that was later tested during the Great Depression. The New Deal was conceived upon the principle that economic opportunity had dried up. While further economic growth was improbable. In the wake of the failure of the National Recovery Act, the New Dealers regrouped. The New Dealers then presented the privileged classes with a proposition; lose some of what you have or risk losing it all. The appeal to the common good this proposal evoked led to it’s general acceptance.

          It was no coincidence that the New Deal coalition started to disintegrate once the prospect for economic growth resumed. As it eliminated the need for common economic interests once everybody received their fair share of the growth. This complacent attitude aided the rise of neoliberalism with it’s inherent laissez-faire tendencies. It still lingers in the false promise for economic growth in the present.

          1. Andrew Watts

            Somebody will probably point out that the National Industrial Recovery Act was ruled unconstitutional and repealed by the Supreme Court. What this view ignores is that the NRA did little to improve the lot of labor. Unlike the Wagner Act, the NRA was all about favoring the interests of business and capital. While providing the illusion of power to labor in it’s appeals to a business-friendly and paternalistic chairman.

            It should also be noted that economic recovery didn’t set in until after it’s repeal. As later policies attempted to address the lack of purchasing power among the masses. Which the NRA blatantly ignored in favor of limiting production.

        4. Richard Kline

          [Hey, isn’t Mexico down south?] There’s more to my argument, and to my thought than dualism. But I think you miss the larger point behind the rhetorical division in my leading comment. One can’t fight unless one sees that there _is_ another side. And we are in a fight, and there is an ‘other side.’ That does not, in any way, mitigate, excuse, or cast into darkness the peccadilloes of the small, even if those are, in any absolute sense, of slight consequence in comparison to the trespasses of the Large.

          Believing in a false commonality which another faction neither believes nor observes is in most cases self-defeating. That is the condition of social democrats and the rest of the Soft Left at this point, they are clinging to their worldview while being assailed to those who don’t follow the compact involved. Now, there is moral weight and value in continuing to advocate a commonality as opposed to a demoniztion of the Oligarchy, certainly on an individual basis. Any broad solution must be based upon a common goal. But such a ‘common solution’ will only be achievable if the crop on policy power by an ultra-selfish elite is broken. And to break it, their transgressive opposition has to be viewed for what it is and accepted as a social evil.

          If you had an alternative, say it. Quoting words of those dead and past is like blowing smoke at prison walls, to me. I love the poetry, but even as a gesture it’s thin stuff, I’m sorry to opine.

          1. Richard Kline

            [Freakin’ auto-correct . . . another tech monstrosity. Not even my flaws are my own!]

          2. Andrew Watts

            “[Hey, isn’t Mexico down south?]”

            I’ve always assumed so. But you know what they say about assuming. Ahh, the days when most people posted under the collective pseudonym Anonymous. They didn’t have to be embarrassed by their typing or spacing mistakes.


      3. Glenn Condell

        ‘The Center-Left still believes… the Center and the Soft Left feel an instinctive need to compromise…’

        The Centre Left like all factions is made up of individuals – some of those individuals might still ‘believe’ or ‘feel the need’ (always assuming they were originally animated by such noble urges) but IMO many do not and there are less and less of them every year; not just of those who are capable of that civic fellow-feeling but those who do a reasonable job of pretending to be.

        With Congress set up the way it is, an inbuilt Gresham’s dynamic from the get-go, ie elite collusion necessary for the means to run and win, then the perfectly legit insider trading opportunties once in, endless lobbyist schmooze the order of most days, the eyes ultimately on the pot of corporate gold and entry to the gated sunlit uplands after your term…. it is surprising there is any idealism left at all. There are pockets of it, but I can’t go so far as to ascribe good intentions to an entire political bloc like that, not now. Mostly that concern is kabuki.

        ‘The Soft Left, traditionally allied with the petty bourgoise middle class, is sitting on their hands while the majority of the traditional middle class disappears around them’

        I think some of those hands are not as idle as they seem. Or rather, many of them are idle on cue, rather than frozen stiff by indecision or fear or weakness or whatever. They know where they’re headed and how best to get there, so the movement of their hands is a tad more choreographed than it might seem.

        ‘It must be understood that the children of light are foolish not merely because they underestimate the power of self-interest among the children of darkness. They underestimate this power amongst themselves…’

        Some of the more bovine examples may not even be aware of that power in themselves, some as you say may underestimate it’s extent and effect, but I feel there must be a not insignificant percentage of them who are acutely aware of it, indeed guided by it, and that percentage grows apace.

      4. nonclassical


        nicely stated-Kevin Phillips, “American Dynasty” +”American Theocracy” shows
        historically how economies traversing between manufacturing & “financial services” based, fail in short order-I sense this is the real failure inherent…and it will fail…as history defines-Britain, Netherlands, Spain, etc…

        But we are all aware U.S. is now nothing but “Wall $treet finance” and military technology dependent…still failure is inherent-then a great “leveling”…likely not to be conducive to survival of democracy, as conjectured in postulation posted..

      5. Roland

        The partial success of the post-WWII welfare states hurt the political parties of the Left.

        During the post WWII boom, large numbers of people, esp. in the Anglo countries, fell into the bad habit of thinking they were middle-class rather than working-class.

        Even more people fell into the even worse habit of thinking that class was no longer a major factor in politics.

        The Left parties stopped talking about who controlled the means of production. They stopped talking about class definitions and class relations. They got sidetracked by welfarism and political correctness.

        Eventually the welfare states ran into their own contradictions, and the right wing readily exploited the opportunity to start to dismantling the welfare states, while pursuing their own neoliberal version of global unification.

        The Left parties in the West were no longer able to fight that fight. They couldn’t even figure out they faced an old-fashioned class war. They wouldn’t fight, so they got the crap beaten out of them.

        Then the Blair types with their “third way” neoliberal nonsense took away the working class political option just as it was becoming more necessary than ever. Instead, the “left” parties started chanting, “Two Legs Better!”

        How could anyone be surprised that many in the working class hate the Left parties even more than they hate the Right parties?

        If the Left parties had stuck to the main theme of class politics through the 1980’s and 90’s, they would have lost elections during the bubble years, but they would have been fully vindicated and by now we would be kicking banker butt all the world over.

        1. Richard Kline

          So Roland: “The partial success of the post-WWII welfare states hurt the political parties of the Left . . . During the post WWII boom, large numbers of people, esp. in the Anglo countries, fell into the bad habit of thinking they were middle-class rather than working-class . . . Even more people fell into the even worse habit of thinking that class was no longer a major factor in politics.”

          Fundamentally I agree with those remarks, and yes I see them as significant in the decline of the left. I would put a partially positive spin on them in saying that, though. Part of the decline of the Left is their very success in the social welfare states they endorsed and of which they made use. Their children got an education; gained a wider social perspective; moved out of the tenements; gained employment outside the service, laboring, and manufacturing sectors whcih for nearly all of them had previously been their only recourse. People ‘forgot’ where they came from exactly because they weren’t bound to that horizon anymore. I don’t mean to say that everyone came to live a richer life, but they certainly came to have more personal choices.

          It’s easy to flog those who moved into the Soft Left or Liberal perspective, particularly where their parents or grandparents had been Hard Left, but also a bit unfair. Their circumstances changed, and their perspective was bound to change also. The ethnic bigotries which have been and often still are pervasive in the working class tended to be something left behind also, consider that. There is much reason on historical evidence to consider that a rise in education and personal class tends to mitigate radicalism, if not necessarily inculcate conservatism, not least because one comes to have property and station to defend. I do agree, though, that the ability of the ‘rising Left’ to forget that the egregiously wealthy are the permanent foes of civil society is pernicious, and much to blame for where we find ourselves today.

          There is another factor of great weight in the changed behavior of the wealthy oligarchy in Western developed economies we see at present. The end of the Soviet Union really was a game changer for them. I don’t mean this in a direct sense, in that the USSR was not itself an immediate threat to the ultra wealthy of the West as of 1989. Still, international proletarian insurrection and revolution had been a major concern of the ultra wealthy from 1917 to 1989. China, Cuba, Nicaragua, yes Russia, even India, some other places as well: wherever the Left gained power, whatever else happened the wealthy oligarchy certainly went up against the wall and the wealthy in prison or over the border with their stuffed suitcases. This possibility enforced a certain ‘social discipline’ upon the ultra wealthy, a need to ‘have our side stand behind us,’ i.e. the working and middle classes of the West willing to fight ‘the Reds’ if not for the ultra wealthy than ensuring the survival of the .1% even so. A certain baseline of payout and social respect had to be cast about, not because the ultra wealthy thought any differently than they always have or still to but from a pragmatic sense of self-preservation.

          —But now the risk of Losing Big is gone. Or at least greatly in abeyance. Hence, with no need social discipline necessary to stay the greed of the oligarchy, they _immediately_ set in to loot as they never had since 1920 or so. This is not ‘the fault of the Left’ in my view, and is a factor underestimated in the changes in economy and governance we’ve seen since 1990. The rich _needed_ the rest of society before than to protect them form an uprising. Now, they don’t. And their behavior shows exactly that, and moreover _exactly what they really think of all the rest of us all along_. The oligarchy have showed the Dorian Gray’s under their veneer of silver. And the rest of society can’t understand what changed. I mean “Weren’t we all in this together?” Don’t we get a “peace dividend now that ‘we’ have won?” No—because we were never all in it ‘together.’ The rich hid behind the rankers, and no now longer feel the need of the rest of us. And that isn’t because of our mistakes but due to a change in socio-political context _outside_ of Western society, an intrinsic reason why those whose only perspective is from inside and of inside that society cannot grasp what’s gone wrong for them now.

          1. Procopius

            I think your analysis is correct. I might quibble: the root cause of the moderation of the ultra-rich was the widespread fear (even among the petit bourgeoisie) of a re-run of 1789. It certainly goes back to the “Revolutions” of 1848 and then was magnified by the activities of the Anarchists in the 1890s and 1900s. The October Revolution concentrated their vision and led to he Red Scare. I think they realized at that point that the resentment was too widespread to suppress completely. Propaganda, developed during World War I, was effective but needed more time to do its job. The Great Depression increased the misery to the point they had to make some economic concessions, but by 1980 they felt the propaganda had succeeded to the point they could start dismantling the concessions they had made. The collapse of the Soviet Union was icing on the cake, and now they seem to have complete confidence that nothing can prevent moving to a straightforward oligarchy with two classes, the aristocracy and the serfs. Paul Volcker purposely created a recession to reduce the unions and terrorize workers, “free” trade agreements were designed to put American workers in direct competition with low-paid workers around the workd while protecting doctors, lawyers, and bankers. I think things are going to get much worse for quite a long time before enough serfs get desperate enough for the masters to be scared again.

  5. Jefemt

    any ardent birders or taxonomists what to help me with the chickadee-like bird and squirrel-like animal? is that ‘shopped’, or what?

      1. AbyNormal

        really? id hoped not…of course from 2′ id have thought it a fly so shopped it probably is :(

      2. craazyman

        It may be a giant squirrel. I’ve seen reputable eye witness reports of 12 to 15 foot long squirrels that weight up to 1400 pounds.

        Ohio and West Virginia have the most reports, usually along a creek or river bank at twilight or late afternoon.

        Sometimes they’re seen looking in the window of a house out in the sticks, with heads 5 feet high. That would freak me out completely. Thankfully squirrels are vegetarian.

    1. Cocomaan

      I get both of these in my feeder on a regular basis, there’s no way that photo isn’t shopped. The bird would be at least as big as his head.

    2. evodevo

      If that’s an eastern gray squirrel, and not a capybara, and that’s a black-capped chickadee, then it’s DEFINITELY photo-shopped. The sizes are WAY off.

  6. Brindle

    Re: “Ex-Bush Official Willing To Testify Bush, Cheney Knew…”

    Cheney is simply a depraved and sadistic criminal who is being protected by Obama and the most of the other Dems.

    —“About 183 detainees, many of whom have already been cleared for release, remain at Guantanamo. A majority of them have never been charged with a crime.”—

    1. TK421

      President Obama could release those detainees who have been cleared, but chooses not to. That sounds sadistic and criminal to me.

      1. neo-realist

        Or it could be the sound of “the company”/MIC telling the President that they must stay put.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Fracking to create more jobs!

        GM food manufacturing, the next growth industry!


        Stimulating economic growth and creating jobs are not as simple, innocent and pure as the Red Riding Hood.

        Maybe we don’t always want them nor want all of them.

        1. Ms G

          So HARP was yet another Obama initiative to help the Point-Oh-One-Percenties. Don’t you know!

          1. Klassy!

            Oh yeah. I mean, could they be any more transparent with the covered by your parents up until the age of 26 provision? Divide and conquer.

      1. Strangely Enough

        “Matthew Yglesias—a Norelco marketing experiment to see if a hand-drawn Sharpie beard on a peeled potato could sell men’s earrings…”

        Nothing but net.

      2. Ms G

        This Klein guy looks like the separated-at-birth alias of Adam Davidson and writes and thinks like him too — first rate lackey-access propaganda praising the pathologies and pathological actors of our Kleptocracy.

        Does anyone have information as to whether Klein and Davidson were grown and programmed in the same Monstanto Lackey Journalist Farm?

  7. Skeptic

    Schneiderman Maneuver

    Where is the Law Professor or Legal Eagle who will explain to us how the Injustice System is manipulated and misused by those in power? ( Matt Taibbi can’t do everything.) There are innumerable ways in which the Injustice System can be gamed by the Elite Crooks and the Judges, Lawyers, Clerks, etc.

    One of those ways, for example, is for a Prosecutor to take a dive in a case after being forced to pursue it; the reward comes later. Another is the Schneiderman Maneuver: scream loudest when nothing can be done.

    The test of a good lawyer is one who tells the client up front: “The system is corrupt.”

    1. from Mexico

      Skeptic says:

      “the Injustice System”

      I like that.

      Another play on words that accurately describes our current system, which a poet friend of mine uses, is

      “the Just Us System”

    2. Susan the other

      Schneiderman is no more interested in forcing DoJ to prosecute securitization FRAUD than Congress is. Including Liz Warren. The hystrionics are calculated not to draw attention to his craven behavior as compared to Lawsky, but to do some pre-emptive damage control for Obama and the Banks. Because we just learned that Jeffrey Sachs was mediating a gathering of irate EU banksters – at the UN – who want their money back for all the bogus MBS we sold them. So that will out soon and make Obama look bad, but there will be big discussions about how he tried to get Schneiderman going, etc. Back and forth. Schneiderman refers to the mortgages as “dodgy” – how polite. There were “irregularities.”

  8. Sam L S

    Per ‘There is no alternative’ – it is interesting to note that in Israel (often criticized for other policies), the voters have brought about change:
    1. The rich and corporations are the first to be taxed as part of recent economic reforms
    2. A deal that was supposed to give Potash control over a large Israeli company that extracts minerals from dead sea was taken off the table
    3. Two of Israel’s richest people have been forced to liquidate their leveraged businesses, with immense public outcry about an attempt by a leading bank to erase some of the related debt
    4. Dairy monopoly has been forced to keep prices at levels it claims will undermine its growth
    5. Half of parliament members have demanded voted to stop a deal that would export vast gas reserves that were recently found
    6. A deal with Turkey and Jordan allows exports to go through Israeli ports to Iraq, thus helping (marginally yet importantly) establish peace building measures de facto
    7. The media is focused on public sentiment and is openly criticizing elites, banks, the defense budget, settlements budget, etc. on multiple fronts, giving rise to ongoing relentless pressure in social networks online
    (Having said that, one should also note that this is a center-right government that is executing on such policies and the jury is still out there).

  9. AbyNormal

    re Mobile, Al blast…RT 192 comments so far and getting a mite heated
    ex: “We all see how jou are frustrated and full of hatred that you must live in such country where ppl shoot ppl without reason just like that because they are helpless against puppet government and corporations which are real masters of this puppets.
    Yes and who want travel to Usa and what for?
    To be molested on borders by komando of blue gloves pedofiles and molesters?
    Or to be shot by some sico kids?
    Or to travel admairing beauty of spilled tar in nature!
    No pal !
    Your country is not long ago no: 1 is more like coutry of blind sheeps which have no idea where they go and to who they serve!”

    back to the blast, we need a way more information. this is serious…natural gas tankers are jamming unprepared ports and import facilities.
    we’ve marked ourselves for ‘Natural-Gas Super Power’… corporate ‘cart before horse’ mentality will surely speed an explosive ‘future’

  10. from Mexico

    @ “There is no alternative”

    “An invented past can never be used,” James Baldwin warned, “it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.”

    The author of this post, Henry Farrell, is either historically illiterate or has merely tailored history to fit his dislike of democracy.

    Farrell, for instance, speaks of “post democracy” and the “post-democratic dilemma.” “At some point shortly after the end of the Second World War,” he tells us, “democracy reached its apex in countries such as Britain and the US.”

    Then, with this invented history in hand, Farrell condemns, with equal measure, both the status quo political establishment and those who would challenge it. “The Five Star Movement has impaled itself on the other tine, as have the Indignados in Spain, Occupy in the US and UK, and the tent movement in Israel,” he cautions. “All have gained mass support because of the problems of post-democracy.” “In order to save democracy, the Five Star Movement would like to leave politics behind,” he adds. “It won’t work.”

    The historical and current realities, however, are quite different from what Farrell would have us believe. For the popular democracy so desired by folks like Thomas Paine was never to be in the United States, nor was it established in the U.S. Constitution or other institutions of the new republic. What did exist in the early days of the republic was a spirit of revolution, of popular democracy, but it was not realized. The ruling oligarchs made sure of that. As Lance Banning wrote in “Madison, the Statute, and Republican Convictions”:

    Much of the American elite shared Madison’s alarm with the “abuses of republican liberty practiced by the states.” Many, maybe most, defined the problem as a classic crisis of relationships between the many and the few, creditors and debtors, rich and poor: a crisis generated by what Elbridge Gerry called “an excess of democracy.”

    So what came about in the new republic is what the Canadian filmmaker Scott Noble calls “democratic elitism.” As Noble explains:

    People like Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays are great exemplars of what Peter Bachrach called “The theory of democratic elitism”, but they didn’t create this philosophy. They merely updated it to correspond with new developments in technology and communication. You can go back Mosca or Schumpeter or a whole slew of other anti-democratic philosophers from Machiavelli to Plato, but crucially, for our discussion, the Founding Fathers of the United States itself.

    There is very little difference between Lippmann’s suggestion that “the people” are a “bewildered herd” which “must be put in place”, and John Jay’s remark that the “people who own the country ought to govern it”, or Alexander Hamilton’s quip that the people are a “great beast” needing to be tamed, or Madison’s insistence that a primary function of government is to “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”.

    The overriding theme is that real democracy might produce “leveling tendencies”, in other words, an egalitarian society in which “regular people” might actually be able to participate in the running of their government (or lack thereof, depending how anarchistic your tendencies).

    It is all too obvious that Farrell falls in the elitist Plato-Madison-Bernays camp, and that he fears the “excess of democracy” that is entailed in the direct, as opposed to representational, democracy advocated by the Five Star Movement. Beside the Five Star folks there are many people who would like to see democracy moved to the next level, but Farrell certainly is not amongst these.

  11. Verloc

    Was Boston Bomber Radicalized at U.S.-Sponsored Workshop?


    More likely, Tamerlane was doing portentous busy-work for some NCS cutout – nicking copies of sign-in sheets, glad-handing arbitrary targets of no interest, maybe even something Bondish and exciting like swabbing stuff for DNA.

    The Russian warnings were Russian intelligence needling CIA, “Look out for that extremist!” – knowing full well that the big lug is a tame CIA extremist on a very short lease.

    Once Timur is back in the US, NCS would dangle the FBI at him like a scary boogeyman while shielding him from any real law-enforcement scrutiny. Lawmen function strictly as needed for control (Mom’s shoplifting troubles are pertinent here.) Cryptic instructions from handlers make Timur look like a nut, put him in the wrong place at the wrong time, and then Ka-pop!

    At this, Russia is perturbed. They haven’t forgotten how hapless Secret Agent Oswald’s fake Russian ties were used to threaten world war. (If the truth comes out, there’ll be nuclear war!!! That’s how they got an honest man like Earl Warren to submit to the indignity of signing his eponymous report.)

    So Russia pulls John Brennan’s pants down.

    1. Susan the other

      Ditto plus this. Those 3 friends of Tamerlan – one a boxing buddy – were murdered in a very bizarre fashion for 3 big, athletic young men. They had to have taken roofies, given to them by someone they trusted enough to drink beer with. Then they were insanely stabbed in the jugular till they bled to death. That would have been enough to keep Tamerlan and his little brother in line.

    2. Winnie

      MSNBC is back to policing permitted discourse. That means things are being said that touch a nerve.

      Last time public discourse broached a touchy subject, John Stewart mansplained to us how the mere mention of Bush administration war crimes will stop the conversation, not start it. (Although it seems that pre-eminent legal experts can and do go on and on about how the issue is really crimes against humanity in torture gulags, and aggression, illegal threat and use of force in Iraq and Afghanistan, with war crimes as essentially derivative atrocities: routine massacres, collective punishment for IEDs, and the siege of Fallujah – though all are of course high crimes and felonies under the War Crimes Act of 1996. And the bill of indictment currently in preparation against the Bush administration has prompted many spirited conversations,)

      …but anyway. Now Dem Big Sister Rachel Maddow has been dispatched to associate the dreaded conspiracy label with the opposing faction, the [gasp] Right, and specifically with Alex Jones, official designated nut.

      No mention of Peter Dale Scott and his history of US government involvement in armed attacks on the US civilian population as a pretext to intensify repression. No mention of the blindingly obvious points made by former US officials Paul Craig Roberts and Francis Boyle about intelligence assets and illegal weapons under the control of the US government that all at once ceased to work, or went catastrophically astray. No mention of Sibel Edmonds and her meticulously-sourced account of US-directed armed attacks on civilian populations in multiple countries, all crimes in universal jurisdiction (Well, sure the US government does it over there, but not here! Bite your tongue!) No mention of Russ Baker’s forensic-quality work on US deep-state criminal networks.

      Just patronizing derision for those dumb rube conservatives. How shaming. How déclassé! Goodness How Sad that they are not as sophisticated and worldly as we Dems are.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      It appears truthers are already asking troubling questions about the Boston bombing:

      “How The Boston Bombing Is Already Being Exploited To Introduce Tyranny”

      – Why the great hunt for suspects already known to the FBI (“long time FBI contacts”)?

      – Why the large federal military/DHS presence already on scene (reportedly 9,000 troops plus police and SWAT)?

      – Why warrantless house-to-house searches and “pat-downs” were conducted under martial law conditions, while the media was pushed out?

      – How legitimate is the written confession of a suspect conveniently shot in the throat and unable to speak?

      Boston represents a clear escalation of the use of NDAA and martial law measures in the aftermath of a security event. After the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2012, his Miranda Rights under the Constitution were denied due to “extraneous circumstances of national security”. Numerous lawmakers called for the suspect to be treated as an “enemy combatant” so that he could be interrogated under the laws of war without due process:

      (“extraneous circumstances of national security” is a strange choice of words. “Extraneous” conditions warrant violating the constitution?)

      1. Cynthia

        The only thing that will come out of Boston will be cries for more security and more wars.

        Go outside of anti-war, anti-security state blogosphere for a while and people are practically begging to have their entire country turned into a gigantic prison in the name of safety, and now that those Damned Dirty Chechen Muslims are involved, we’ll have another front in our perpetual global “war on terrrrrrrror.”

        No good will come from any of this.

        1. Nathanael

          The US will be the last country to have a democratic revolution. (I guess Tunisia was the first — or was it Iceland?) The center of the empire is always the last to go.

        2. Ms G

          It’s almost as though the Newton massacre — and the ensuing hysterical clamor for *more* security (oppression) — was practice for Boston.

  12. financial matters

    Central Banks Load Up on Equities as Low Rates Kill Bond Yields Bloomberg

    “”“Equities are the last asset class standing,” Beesley said in a phone interview on April 18. “When you have dividend yields in excess of bond yields, it’s a very logical move.” “”

    This is probably a key statement. It’s an amazing lack of creativity when central banks can’t find better ways to spend their money other than inflating asset classes. There are so many opportunities for productive employment, infrastructure building, better utility systems, education etc, etc. Instead they prefer casino capitalism and high frequency trading.. ie

    “”The entire stock-market value of many high-flying companies now changes hands in a single day”” Michael Hudson’s ‘Beyond the Bubble’

    This is speculation, not how countries should be investing. What happens when they discover that there is no there there and these companies are highly indebted and not producing profits..

    1. Cynthia

      Bernanke should be eating crow. He has scolded the Japanese for years, telling them if they had only dropped interest rates to zero and started printing money sooner, everything would have been great. He followed exactly that script in the U.S. and the economy is still in the crapper 5 years and counting.

      The lesson should have been not to get into the bubble in the first place by fostering capital misallocation through an artificially low cost of money.

      Sadly, all of us are paying the price for Ben’s reckless money printing schemes.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Today, Holland makes good money from tourists coming to see her tulips.

      Hopefully, we can one day do the same with visiting Martians admiring how beautiful our stock certificates look.

      ‘Wow, look at all the different colored stock certificates! Mom, can you take a picture of me next to them?’

    3. Jim Haygood

      Glad you posted that astonishing news. Here’s the link:

      In 1929, Joe Kennedy realized that the market was overvalued when he got stock tips from a shoeshine boy.

      Given today’s higher educational attainments, we can now discern that stocks are overvalued when they are bought by the frayed-collar PhD pencil pushers who toil in central bank boiler rooms.

      The last suckers are ‘all in’ … or soon will be.

      Bubble III, comrades … we’re on a roll, and Yellen’s coming.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Only a couple of years ago, people were derided and ridiculed for insinuating that the Criminal Reserve Cartel was buying stocks directly, putting their thumb on the hallowed “free”-market scale. That was the province of foil-hatters. Now, they’ve simply abandoned all pretense — with smug impunity. What are we going to do, protest, while they hold our meager 401Ks captive? Ha!

      2. Cynthia

        Wall Street and the banks got between $14 and $17 Trillion dollars in government largesse from several different sources within the federal government; Main Street got the finger. Very little was done to reduce the pain for the working class Americans who elected the first Black American president, but plenty of money was made available for the moneyed class that paid for his election and re-election campaign. All this indicates to me is that we are witnessing another Wall Street Bubble that will have to be financed by the taxpayer when it finally bursts. There is absolutely no basis for such optimism, unless it is the widespread knowledge that no matter what happens the taxpayer is on the hook!

  13. Valissa

    On the lighter side of news…

    Drunk volunteers help police train in Suffolk County

    Officials: Legal marijuana law jeopardizes all pot prosecutions

    Oversexed Education: First-Graders Shown Explicit Sex-Ed Book

    Years-old phallic imagery from Mars rover sparks a fresh wave of titters

    1. Valissa

      Some sex education cartoons for your viewing pleasure …

      An academic appeal, part 1

      An academic appeal, part 2

      Kids say the darnedest things, part 1

      Kids say the darnedest things, part 2

      Kids say the darnedest things, part 3

      1. Valissa

        Soooo many good cartoons on this subject, so here’s another set… (more antidotes to the crappy news cycle)

        Birds & bees?

        Teenage sex is like ______

        McCracken’s quirky humor always cracks me up…
        Part 1
        Part 2
        Part 3

    1. from Mexico

      I watched the Jeremy Scahill interview on Democracy Now that Greenwald linked to.

      Scahill said that without the documents that Bradley Manning is alleged to have released to Wikileaks, there would be very little understanding of just how vast (what I believe to be) US state-sponsored terrorism under the Obama administration is, or the details of how it works.

      Also, it was Bradley Manning who tipped Scahill off to the fact that the head of Blackhawk was leaving the US.

      I suppose that’s why the Obama administation was so intent upon torturing and humiliating Manning, making an example of him, keeping him naked in solitary confinement for so many months.

      Bradley Manning is a true American hero, one who paid, and continues to pay, an extremely high price for speaking truth to the power of what is undoubtedly the most evil administraton to have ever set foot in the White House.

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        I think you mean Blackwater: Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, at some time left the US for Abu Dhabi.

  14. barrisj

    “The George W Bush Presidential Library”…the stomach churns. I assume that one of the principal accessions to the “library’s” collection is “My Pet Goat”, which surely provides the strongest association of Bush to books. Here is an illiterate cretin who prided himself on his “gut instinct” and anti-intellectualism strutting about displaying his “papers”, secure and serene in the knowledge that “history” will eventually judge him favourably. I wonder if the infamous “Mission Accomplished” flightsuit and codpiece will also be amongst the attractions.

  15. F. Beard

    re Central Banks Load Up on Equities as Low Rates Kill Bond Yields Bloomberg:

    It’s becoming rather obvious now that central banks exist only for the sake of the rich?

    1. Cynthia

      Thanks to the uninterrupted flow of free money from the Federal Reserve, the upward momentum in equities will continue. Meanwhile, prudent savers who recapitalized the too big to fail banks will just continue to be punished for being risk adverse. The top 20 percent own 85 percent of the equities in this country. Guess who the politicians and Bernanke are looking out for?

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    iToke, whatever that is, I am waiting for iDeal.

    They say iDeal is a much better deal.

  17. ScottS

    5 Presidents Set To Help Dedicate George W. Bush’s Library:

    – Is Dick Cheney one of the 5 presidents?
    – Is Al Gore one of the 5 presidents?
    – Is there a coloring book section?
    – Has the history section been re-written yet?
    – Bush-43 donated personal collection of unread Robert Ludlum novels and dog-eared Highlights collection
    – “Libary” in the headline is misspelled. You would think NPR would know better!
    – Memorabilia section contains actual Magic 8-Ball used by Bush-43
    – Cheney’s “man-sized safe” used as private reading room
    – Library was supposed to be built in Crawford, Texas, but was built in Dallas by mistake
    – Self-guided tour brochure contains list of Bush-isms. NOTE: THIS IS NOT A WORD SCRAMBLE! Do not attempt to turn “terr,” “misunderestimated” or “bariffs” into actual words!

    1. Doug Terpstra

      NPR’s “libary” is a common misspelling of “lie-bury”, which, accordingly, is unlikely to prominently feature Saddam’s nukular program, enhanced interrogation videos, or profound economic theory.

      Such a historic occasion is sure to generate a prolific outpouring, so participants in the defecation ceremony are advised to dress appropriately.

  18. Max424

    re: Matt Yglesias

    I agree with Matt about the Banglasdeshi’s. If they think working a job that can kill or maim means they have a right to humbly beg for minimum safety standards and a little danger pay, they’re out of their newly prosperous minds.

    I didn’t get no stinking danger pay. For fifteen years in my misspent youth I worked a job that could easily kill and maim. Well, in truth, by some miracle there were no actual on-the-job fatalities during my tenure there (thanks to a couple of life? death? coin flips going our way), but I tell ya, there sure was a tremendous amount of maiming.

    In fact, everybody I worked with got maimed, including me, several times. For instance, my left hand got crushed when a hoist snapped. A 3,000 pound paper roll dropped from a story up and bounced off the f-cker. I also had a piece of steel the size of a nickel shoot out of a printing press and into my bicep. Fourteen hours and 42 stitches later,* I was back on the job.

    Leading by example.

    I had lots of other injuries and near maimings. And I hurt my back every goddamn day. But I consider myself one of the fortunate few. Of the 12 guys I started with, six lost digits (two middles, two rings, a pinky and a forefinger), and a good friend of mine lost six/fifths of his good hand –and would of lost his too life if a duct tape tourniquet hadn’t saved it

    One morning I saw one of us flapping like a fish on a cold concrete floor after his head took a glancing blow from a fork truck boom. Only a mild concussion the hospital staff said, but he didn’t come back the same and soon quit his job and then he disappeared completely off the rolls of polite society.

    Yup, I was a lucky boy. I got out maimed but alive. And my hand works. Most of the time. It wants to contract and become a claw but I won’t let it. Just keep the thing warm and stretch it diligently, constantly, obsessively. And the 20 year old piece of steel in my bicep? That will either work its way out or not, depending on how many years I have left.

    The shrapnel don’t matter one way or t’other. It only hurts when I listen to Bach. And if I had it to do over, I’d do it all the same. Matt’s right. I’m an American. I had choice, and I chose danger, and I’d freely choose it again.

    Yes, I would of liked to get paid a little of that risk money Matt keeps mentioning, but that’s another matter. I loved the job, and would have stayed on but my small company got absorbed by a giant Wall Street bank, and then conditions became too dangerously intolerable even for this man of daring do.

    So I quit. And my suggestion for the Bangladeshi’s is to do the same, should it ever come to that.

    Or not.

    *Still remember. 42 stitches. 10 exterior and 32 interior. We got paid 50 dollars for every stitch (maybe that’s the American danger money Matt is talking about?), but I only got 500, for the outer 10. Apparently, only the exterior –evidence of maiming– stitches counted.

  19. AbyNormal
    Three years ago when we launched the Transparency Report, we said we hoped it would shine some light on the scale and scope of government requests for censorship and data around the globe. Today, for the seventh time, we’re releasing new numbers showing requests from governments to remove content from our services. From July to December 2012, we received 2,285 government requests to remove 24,179 pieces of content—an increase from the 1,811 requests to remove 18,070 pieces of content that we received during the first half of 2012.
    The information we share on the Transparency Report is just a sliver of what happens on the Internet. But as we disclose more data and continue to expand it over time, we hope it helps draw attention to the laws around the world that govern the free flow of information online.

    Posted by Susan Infantino, Legal Director

  20. ruben

    Regarding There is no alternative aeon (Jeremy B). Today’s must read.

    “There is no alternative. Governments now answer to business, not voters. Mainstream parties grow ever harder to distinguish. Is democracy dead?”

    Of course democracy is dead. Democracy it’s a zombie.

    Like so many other coercive State systems, it has run out of its time. Those who willingly participate in the system, having hope in the next charlatan promising hope, nourish a zombie idea in their heads, eating out other healthier parts of your brains.

    Today’s must read: Max Stirner’s The Unique and Its Own. You may warm up with Ben Tucker, if you have to read an American first.

  21. Nathanael

    Farrell underestimates groups like the Five Star Movement, just as the French Revolutionaries were underestimated.

    Even if the Five Star Movement itself collapses, its successors will rise again, and again, and again, until the zombies running the existing system are thrown out.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Of course there are alternatives.

      How about good old rule of law? Particularly in the areas of of banksters and war criminals!
      How about some direct democracy? (citizens / voters ability to amend the constitution directly)
      How about changing the money system?
      Establishing standards on so many levels – which in this point I am especially thinking of abolishing what we call free trade.
      Eliminating bribe based political and electoral systems.
      Establishing a long list of human and environmental rights.

      and on and on and on….

  22. Lambert Strether

    Have any other 1040 just-in-time filers noticed that the IRS is taking an awful long time to cash the checks? I know taxes don’t fund spending, so it’s not worrisome exactly, but it sure seems a little weird. I’ve got one other sighting, so I’m wondering if there are more.

    1. F. Beard

      Haha! The monetary sovereign does not need tax revenues but the banks sure enjoy the interest-free “loans”, I’d bet.

    2. AbyNormal

      shhhhhh i know someone in receipt&control…theres 25 to 40 checks per deposit. one night this someone noted 28 ‘buckets’ full of deposit slips…all with mistakes waiting correction(s).

      1. AbyNormal

        interesting Ms G. (again u don’t see me) but one night i was meeting a friend for dinner (in a particularly secluded dept i had clearance for) and i never seen so many bankers in one sighting. what was taking place was a peacock meeting of treasury heads & bank…treasury had clintons ok to bypass banks with tax payments. as one can imagine that wasn’t going over without a fight…ended up treasury gave banks a 3 day grace ‘period’ to play with. (true story)
        i could tell you plenty more but like ive always said, ‘they’ won’t knock and i don’t feel like havin my door replaced at this time.

  23. gordon

    From the linked CNET piece about internet “surveillance”:

    “…the 2511 letters provided legal immunity to the providers by agreeing not to prosecute for criminal violations of the Wiretap Act”.

    Am I the only person who immediately makes a connection with the dispensing power used by James II, and which was, I think, outlawed by the Bill of Rights (1689)?

      1. gordon

        Had to go and look it up –

        “…the lords spiritual and temporal and commons…declare that the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of parliament is illegal; that the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal…”.

        (text from C.Stephenson & F.G.Marcham “Sources of English Constitutional History” Harrap, 1938)

        1. psychohistorian

          The problem that is occurring now is that so much of this corruption is being exposed that today’s outrage is overwhelmed by tomorrows exposures.

          Can the flight to effective global militant public suppression beat out the escalating exposure of the iron fist in the velvet glove of the one tenth of one percent?

          Think of this as redefining the term civilization………

      2. gordon

        More expansion:-

        If the Executive can issue certificates exempting persons from the requirements of law then, first, separation of powers is violated. Second, rule of law is imperilled. Third, liberty of the subject is at risk. Fourth, the implications of the second and third together mean tyranny is imminent.

        Separation of powers is obviously violated when the Executive can exempt any person from operation of a law; for the work of the Legislature is wasted if its laws are of no effect. Rule of law is also obviously imperilled when the decision of the Executive to exempt overrides the intent of the Legislature to prohibit. Liberty of the subject is at risk as soon as Habeas Corpus and other rights which are set up by law are at risk of being overset by exemption. And imminent tyranny is just the consequence, almost by definition, of losing liberty of the subject and rule of law.

  24. Glenn Condell

    Expensive in Oz, even for the rich:

    ‘The biggest household costs are housing, groceries and transport. Where were the big increases between the past two ABS Household Expenditure Surveys? In six years, the costs of food and drink, miscellaneous goods and services (driven by a doubling of school fees) and housing costs rose two to three times as fast as the consumer price index.’

  25. Glenn Condell

    Clive Palmer forms new party and will run for PM of Australia. You have to give him this: he is not a silent 1%er, hiding away on an island being evil while his henchmen in the law and politics and finance do his dirty work. No, he loves the limelight, If he wins the records Chavez and Castro set for speechifying at length will be under threat. His first act: make Gina Rinehart President.

    In Australia, extreme wealth tends to extrude ‘characters’ like this.

  26. tiebie66

    Link this “There is no alternative: Governments now answer to business, not voters.”
    with this
    “Outflows from one sector of the economy show up as inflows elsewhere, and government deficits are an important source of corporate profits.”
    From: stephanie-kelton-making-the-case-against-austerity

    I wonder why expansionary deficit policies are so popular?

  27. psychohistorian

    Just a note in passing that CenturyLink (based in Mississippi) and in favor of the new CISPA purchased Qwest/USWest that refused to allow our govt. to “bend the rules”.

    So Qwest was bought and the access problem went away…..amazing how that money thing works.

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