Links 5/18/13

Mediocre Poison Eaters And The Imperfection of Evolution National Geographic

Washington gets explicit: its ‘war on terror’ is permanent Glenn Greenwald, Guardian

“Astoundingly Disturbing”: Obama Administration Claims Power to Wage Endless War Across the Globe Democracy Now

U.S. authorities seize accounts of major Bitcoin operator Reuters

Senator calls for U.S. to join oil price probe USA Today

Wells, Citi Halt Most Foreclosure Sales as OCC Ratchets Up Scrutiny American Banker (SW) “Question No. 1, for example, is ‘Is the loan’s default status accurate?'” [boggles].

Sen. Warren demands to know why criminal bankers aren’t being locked up Raw Story (SW)

DOJ to press: “If you preempt my ability to spin out a story the way I want to, I’m going to ruin your source base” – Marcy Wheeler on Scott Horton Show Wheeler on AP (with more on biometrics).

Bulls vs. Bears

“Give the Market the Benefit of the Doubt” and Invest in Stocks: Barry Ritholtz Daily Ticker. Ritholtz: “WISH @YahooFinance STAYED AWAY FROM MAD HEADLINES”

In which Downtown Josh Brown destroys the 1999 comparison The Reformed Broker

Too Much Talk About Liquidity Paul Krugman, Times

Retiring Wall Street Strategist Gives Amazing Investment Advice Just Before He Quits Henry Blodget, Business Insider

Is This Another Bubble? We Can’t Know Without Better Data Editors, Bloomberg

Hans Rosling: the man who’s making data cool Guardian

Spotting Black Swans with Data Science Online WSJ

A Simple Graph That Should Silence Austerians and Gold Bugs Forever Atlantic. As if.

Global economy lacks strong source of demand growth FT

May consumer sentiment highest in nearly six years Reuters

Maersk Warns of Subdued Demand OnlineWSJ

As Greece Struggles with Debt Crisis, Its Shipping Tycoons Still Cut a Profit Time

China exporters at risk as buyers delay paying South China Morning Post

No, It Looks Like the House Has Not Unintentionally Eliminated the Debt Ceiling After All Dan Kervick, New Economic Perspectives

What Principles? Eschaton. Because #MintTheCoin. Also too.

Covering facts versus the ‘narrative’ CJR

Michelle Rhee and the Washington Post Taking Note

Sponsored Content Pretty Fucking Awesome America’s Finest News Source

Rob Ford in ‘crack cocaine’ video scandal Toronto Star. Ford is Mayor of Toronto.

Report: Canada could see indigenous uprising  Al Jazeera

The Baby in the Well New Yorker. “The case against empathy.”

Book Talk: Of apes and atheists – is empathy evolution? Reuters

Pope blames tyranny of capitalism for making people miserable The Age

What Do You Desire? n+1 (see also). NSFW (the acronym, not the media empire).

What about Marx? Understanding Society

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse)”


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. DakotabornKansan

    Cross-Fostered Chimpanzees

    “Lucy preferred gin and tonics during the summer and switched over to whiskey sours in the winter. At dinner, a sit-down affair with the family, Lucy drank whatever the Temerlins drank, including expensive French wines. “She never gets obnoxious, even when smashed to the brink of unconsciousness,” wrote Maurice, revealing more about the chimp’s alcoholism than perhaps he intended. At one point, he tried to wean Lucy off the good stuff and onto Boone’s Farm apple wine. Assuming she would delight in the fruity swill, he purchased a case and filled her glass one night at dinner. Lucy took a sip of the apple wine, noticed her parents were drinking something else, and put her glass down. She then grabbed Maurice’s glass of Chablis and polished it off. She finished Jane’s next. Not another sip of Boone’s farm ever touched her lips.” ― Elizabeth Hess, Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human

    We’re all cousins.

    1. Expat

      Rob Ford in ‘crack cocaine’ video scandal: the juxtaposition with your comment is irresistible. For some reason, good mayors are in short supply in Ontario.

  2. diptherio

    While catching up on the recent happenings in mortgage-servicing fraud land this morning, I came across this cheery little number from the great state of Texas.

    The suit focuses on improper mortgage securitization procedures and fatal chain-of-title issues, two issues which Yves has highlighted here often.

    Court grants Class Status against Wells

    Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Wells Fargo”) is serving as a trustee of the Carrington Mortgage Loan Trust Series 2006-NC3 (“2006-NC3 Trust”). As trustee, Wells Fargo is responsible for the assets that are allegedly held in the trust.” According to McDonnell’s expert analysis, there is no evidence in the record showing the Wolfs’ Note and Security Instrument were properly negotiated, delivered, or transferred to all necessary parties in the securitization chain. This is required under the mortgage loan purchase agreement and the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (“P&S Agreement”)” in order to convey these instruments into the 2006-NC3 Trust.’ There are fatal breaks in the chain of title which indicate these instruments were never transferred into the 2006-NC3 Trust. In McDonnell’s expert opinion, Defendant Wells Fargo is not the current owner and holder of the Wolfs’ Note and Deed of Trust.

    Even if Wells Fargo physically holds the Note, it does not mean they have the right to enforce the Note, collect on the Note, or to enforce the Security Instrument. Paragraph one of the Note signed by the Wolfs states, “Lender, or anyone who takes this Note by transfer and who is entitled to receive payments under the Note, is called the ‘Noteholder. ” It is the Noteholder who would have the right to enforce the Note. If Wells Fargo is in physical possession of the Note, it may have the right to negotiate the Note — that is, sell it to someone else — but it doesn’t mean Wells Fargo has the right to enforce the Note. Wells Fargo must prove it had the right to receive mortgage payments under the Note, it paid consideration for the Note, and the Note was legally and properly transferred into the 2006-NC3 Trust.

    1. Susan the other

      Nice. The wheel of justice. And today’s links: American Banker re the OCC/Fed/consent orders/foreclosure review practices/oversighy baloney: There was, as usual, no mention of MERS/slander of Title/tampering with a recorded document/the Land Title Recording System/standing to sue/securitization fraud, etc. etc. etc. And this American Banker info was really played down, like the OCC is being “strict” with Wells and Citi so they make sure they hold loans that really have “loan default status.” So listen up all you TBTF Twerps of Finance – Mommy is talking. Do Not, repeat DO NOT stick the GSES and the Fed with invalid titles. And also do not mention the word “Title.” God forbid.

      1. David Lentini

        From the same Wikipedia article:

        The term acronym is the name for a word from the first letters of each word in a series of words (such as sonar, created from SOund Navigation And Ranging).

        True, the article goes on to mention a split in modern useage to include both words and abbreviations and makes a point of using the broader useage for the article. But it’s clear that many dictionaries restrict “acronym” to words. Personally, I prefer that usage myself.

    1. Chris Engel

      I always learned that if it wasn’t “spoken” then it is an initialism, not an acronym.

      Acronyms are enunciated as words themselves, like “PATRIOT ACT” or “SONAR” or “RADAR” — but stuff like “NAACP” and “NSFW” are initialisms since you can’t “say” it as a word, you have to say the letters individually.

      Both acronyms and initialisms are forms of abbreviation of course.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “An initialism is similar to acronym but is not pronounced as a word.” Fair enough. I think perhaps “as a word” has been mentally replaced (at least for me) with “out loud.” EN-ESS-FF-DOUBLE-YOU could, after all, be “a word” just not in English ;-) Language does mutate and evolve. Next time I get a chance I’ll use “initialism,” and see if I get dinged for being précieux. If so, I can’t win!!

    1. Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

      That was funny! Here is a poem I wrote a few weeks ago which irritated a lot of Gold Bugs at ZH. I hope you enjoy it:


      Quick, Ma! Hock the trailer!
      And hock the pickup, too.
      Gold is 18 hundred,
      So, let’s buy an ounce or two.

      And when it hits 10 thousand,
      Oh, how we’ll swell with pride!
      Sell it off, pay back the loan,
      And buy a double-wide!

      Pa, it’s Fred, the pawn shop guy.
      He’s says a payment’s due.
      Should we sell an ounce of gold,
      Or maybe even two???

      Nope, it’s 16 hundred now,
      We need to buy the dip.
      Hock the shotguns, and the dog,
      We’ll wait and sell the rip.

      Pa, it’s Fred, the pawn shop guy.
      Another payment’s due.
      Should we sell an ounce of gold,
      Or maybe even two???

      Nope, it’s 15 hundred now,
      A sure sign to invest!
      Let’s go get a paycheck loan,
      I think that’s what is best.

      Pa, it’s Fred, the pawn shop guy,
      And the loan girl, Betty Lou.
      Should we sell an ounce of gold
      Or maybe even two???

      Nope, it’s 14 hundred now,
      So let’s stick out our necks.
      We’ll gamble on the rally,
      With some insufficent checks.

      Pa, it’s Fred, the pawn shop guy,
      And Betty Lou’s on hold.
      They’re mad about the hot checks.
      Pretty pleeease, let’s sell the gold???

      Nope, it’s 13 hundred now,
      It’s got to take off soon.
      Nowhere left to go but up.
      A rally to the moon!

      Pa, it’s Fred, the pawn shop guy.
      Our trailer has been sold.
      Betty Lou has garnished us,
      You’ve got to dump the gold!

      Ma, the stuff is selling
      For 8 hundred bucks an ounce.
      Cross your fingers, hope and pray
      We get a dead-cat bounce.

      Pa, it’s getting serious.
      The Sheriff’s at the door.
      He says we have to clear out.
      Oh please sell it, I implore!

      Ma, I can not sell the gold.
      The price could not be worse.
      I thought I had the Midas touch.
      I did. . . but in reverse.

      . . . .

      Pa, this cardboard box, it leaks.
      This sidewalk’s awful cold.
      I’m about to starve to death,
      Too bad we can’t eat gold.

      Ma, I know just how you feel.
      My pillow is a log.
      I miss my shotgun, and my job.
      I really miss my dog.

      I miss my trailer, and my truck.
      I can not be consoled.
      All I have to keep me warm,
      Is a stupid chunk of gold.

      Time for me to dump the gold,
      For I’ve gotten a few tips,
      About an opportunity
      Investing in . . . TU-LIPS!

      Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

      1. AbyNormal

        zh dipsticks do love their dips

        I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
        Thoreau, Life WITHOUT PRINCIPLE

  3. Ned Ludd

    From the video on Pope Francis: “Speaking at the Vatican, he condemned an economic dictatorship, and said that money should serve rather than rule.”

    Society would function better (not perfect, maybe not even well, but a whole lot better than the status quo) if capital ≠ ownership. Just as the government will not enforce a contract where someone uses capital to buy a person, society should not recognize the buying and selling of organizations.

    One person, one share, one vote. A market economy could consist of worker coöperatives, consumer coöperatives, housing coöperatives, mutual insurance companies, and credit unions. Back in the 1990’s, food coöperatives and the then-growing Green Party used to promote “coöperative economics”, which was just a new term for old-fashioned anarchism. Unfortunately, the left in the U.S. today is more focused on trying to regulate capitalism instead of replacing it.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      (DILI, Timor-Leste) – The National Cooperative Business Association’s CLUSA International program (NCBA CLUSA) hosted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she toured the Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) operation in the Asian Pacific’s newest nation of Timor-Leste on September 6, 2012.

      Part of her scheduled trip to east Asia, Secretary Clinton was greeted by women cooperative workers of the USAID- funded CCT cooperative project which supplies fair-trade certified, organic coffee beans to global markets. Begun in 1994, CCT, with support from NCBA CLUSA and Cooperative Business International, is a global trading company. In 1995, the US-based retail chain, Starbucks Coffee, began importing this product, which now serves as Timor-Leste’s second largest export, generating some $10 million per year.

      No hipster tatoos were harmed in the making of this coffee for Starbucks. No failed artists were dislocated from sketchy up and coming neighborhoods recently discovered by local media for suburban consumption.

  4. ambrit

    Re. the antidote…
    Considering the right hand persons eerie resemblance to an aged Charles Darwin, my subconscious threw up the following exchange:
    “Lucy, this little one bears a disturbing likeness to Wallace!”
    “Oh come on now Grandad. You didn’t think you were the only father of evolution, did you?”

  5. David Lentini

    What’s Really “Astoundingly Disturbing”

    Not one to miss a rising tide of popular emotion, it’s been an “astounding” week for me too!

    I’m astounded that my senator was astounded to learn the Pentagon’s (and Government’s) plan for eternal global war this week. Where’s this guy been for the past decade? Even after 9/11 the talk was of “the Long War™”, and the Constitional separation of powers has been under seige since the PATRIOT Act, but this guy only catches on now? Puh-leez!

    My other moment of astoundment came when the media started to recognize that they are not play-ahs in our neo-fascist government, but merely lackies that will be played as the real powers see fit. Are they now just starting to understand that when the government abandons the rule of law it also takes total control of the media for, which is just as exposed as the rest of us, its own ends?

    The only ray of hope in all of this is that it could be the beginning of an awakening to reality by two important segmnets of the elites. By starting to make public noises about the abuses we’ve been howling about for over a decade now, perhaps there’s a chance some important resistance is starting to build, or alternatively that some cracks are starting the appear in the façade of power.

    But I’m not getting to hopeful too fast.

    1. Jim Haygood

      On a longer ‘eternal war’ timescale, the U.S. never got around to demobilizing from WW II. Because no sooner than the war was over, a ‘communist menace’ suddenly meant that all the far-flung military bases and wartime intel agencies (and wartime tax withholding) had to be kept in place for the duration of the emergency …

      … which continues to this day.

      Who knew that our entire lives were gonna be one long emergency?

      1. Massinissa

        They got rid of the Communists, and IMMEDIATELY replaced them with semi-mythical ‘islamic terrorists’.

        They get rid of those by accident somehow, the new enemy will be China, space aliens, Oprah, sticks of deodorant, or whatever the hell they can get people to give up their liberty to be protected against.

        This series of ‘crises’ will go on for centuries if the elites have their way.

        1. optimader

          They get rid of those by accident somehow, the new enemy will be China, space aliens, Oprah, sticks of deodorant…

          .. people that make clicking sounds with their poorly fit bridges due to a life time of poor dental care.

      2. David Lentini

        Actually, we did a great job of disarming after WWII; we were quite flat-footed at the start of the Korean War.

        What destroyed us was the combination of Korea making us the global “policemean”, the Soviet’s development of the A- and H-bombs, McCarthy’s witchhunts, and the realization that permanent mobilization would mask the destrution of the New Deal.

    2. AbyNormal

      David, ive been pondering the change in definitions that will allow politicians to hark ‘War, what War?…we’ve done away with War(s)!!’
      Consider lily-padding…flash skirmishes supported by stealth mobility and no one will know what hit them.

      1. David Lentini

        Interestingly, a lot of the “lily pad” idea was thought out in the ’50s, when the U.S. couldn’t rely so much on foreign bases. We developed a variety of naval vessels and seaplanes for rapid deployment floating bases. And stealth, flash skirmishes, etc., are what the Green Berets were trained for. La plus ça change, …

        As for the “War, what war?” scenario, I suggest all you need is a compliant press like the one we have today. We’re fighting in about 80 different regions of the globe, and taking casualties, but only a few outside the Pentagon know about this.

        1. skippy

          Privatization and pallets of money are the expeditionary vanguard these days.

          Mic is just a job creator with the best R&D in the states.

          How much of this activity – necessitates – so much of the on going increase in leverage?

          skippy… Humanity + the Planet vs. the Market

    3. Massinissa

      Get hopeful too fast?

      Dont get hopeful at all…

      Politicians, media: Revolutions have never really come from them, although both may have helped facilitate a few.

      For the politician, either hes been stuck in a rock for 20 years or hes faking indignation for political gain. Probably the latter, of course. Its not worth believing anything he says.

      For the media, even if they realize theyre pawns and not players, what could they do? The media is firmly around their neck. And anyway, they cant do anything the 6 media moguls dont want them to do. Im not convinced this is even more than a momentary realization, and if it is, they are as much captive to the current system as you and I.

      1. Susan the other

        But obfuscated. Like the prohibitiion on the press and the finance industry itself against using words like “title” or “standing” or “securitization fraud”.

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘While the Shiller CAPE [10-yr avg P/E] now is 24, in 1999 it was almost double that at 45.’ — Josh Brown

    This is like boasting that your hometown has only half the murder rate of Caracas. Brown invokes the biggest bubble ever as a standard of comparison. As the long-term CAPE chart shows, the Shiller P/E, while half of its early 2000 level, is still in the top decile of the past 132 years:

    What’s unique about the 150% stock rally since March 2009 is today’s configuration of the Treasury yield curve — that is, the yield on the 3-month T-bill (largely controlled by the Federal Reserve) compared to the yield on the 10-year T-note (which is more market-influenced).

    Every important stock market peak of the past was preceded by an inverted yield curve, in which the short-term rate exceeded the long-term one, in a ratio greater than one.

    For instance, in Feb. 2007, as the housing and credit bubbles began to collapse, T-bills yielded 5.01% vs. 4.64% for the T-note: inverted.

    In Oct. 2000, as the internet bubble began to unravel, T-bills yielded 6.19% vs. 5.95% for the T-note: inverted.

    Going way back to August 1929, just before the great Twenties stock bubble crested on Sep. 3rd, T-bills yielded 4.70% vs. 3.81% for the T-note: inverted.

    By contrast, today T-bills yield 0.04% vs. 1.95% for the T-note — leaving the ratio not merely uninverted, but flat on the floor at near-zero. (Kurgman knows this, which is why he denies it’s happening in the link above.)

    Never before has the Fed kept aggressively feeding a bubble this late in the game. If Josh Brown’s read of indifferent sentiment is correct, then the potential exists to reach a 1999 level of mania again. S&P 1999, if you will.

    Make hay while the sun shines, comrades. Because the iron law is that the bigger a bubble gets, the harder it crashes. And since Benny’s a short-timer, the fallout ain’t his problem.

    1. Cynthia

      The issue is not bubbles in the stock market. It’s about fraud, corruption, deception, lies, money laundering, tax evasion and the protection that politicians are now providing to these scumbags.

      Wall Street is the White House, and the White House is Wall Street.

      LIBOR manipulation was admitted and nothing happened. HSBC admitted drug cartel money laundering, and no one went to jail.

      This is what the Occupy Wall Street movement could not articulate. It’s too BIG. The elites are no longer governed by the law that controls the rest of us.

      The elites fund the politicians, and the politicians protect the elites.

      It will end in a system reset of course because greed is unstoppable and power feeds on itself.

    2. Cynthia

      By definition, the only way to identify a bubble is after it has burst. When prices collapse suddenly and do not magically rebound, well, then you’ve had a bubble.

      By definition then, we are not in a bubble, as per the FED.

      This definition is a sophism. It is a manipulation of what is, in order to make it appear what it is not.

      Of course we are in a bubble(s) now. Nothing has yet burst from the perspective of price.

      But the bursting cometh.

      Most interesting times, yet again.

        1. Cynthia

          Aren’t central banks trying to push individual investors into risky assets without the underlying jobs, income, or economy to support it just a different form of drug pushing?

          They’ve got it all backwards; reduce risk to individual investors and increase it for institutional investors, not the other way around.

          If capital doesn’t come from the supply side or the consumer/worker, it is an inescapable bubble blowing tactic of “screw individual investors, reward institutional speculators.”

          Distill what the FED and other central banks are doing down to its essence and that is all it is.

      1. optimader

        By definition, the only way to identify a bubble is after it has burst.

        mmm.. plenty identified the R.E. Bubble. We’re now in a stockmarket bubble, book it.

        1. Cynthia

          Being in this market is like dealing drugs. You keep saying you are going to stop, but the cash is too good and way too easy. You never stop until it’s too late.

  7. ambrit

    After soul satisfyingly touring all the ‘awesome’ sponsored content at The Onions article, “Sponsored Content…” I clicked over to the short piece titled, “Joint Chiefs Chairman Pretty Sure He Could Pull Off Junta If He Really Tried.” The Onion has strayed very, very close to psychic phenomena here. Either they’ve got a ‘Remote Viewer’ on their staff, or they support themselves through the stock market profits from their ‘Staff Precog.’ Either way, the mention in the piece of a 300 million person Police State rings too true to be funny anymore.
    The King Has No Clothes!

  8. AbyNormal

    where does Michelle (satans eyelashes) Rhee put her hard earned/donated money?

    Harpeth Hall, an exclusive girls’ school. A spokeswoman for Rhee declined to comment about the specific allegation, but apologized for “misleading” the Los Angeles Times.

    So what is Harpeth, where the annual tuition exceeds $22,000 per child, all about and why should we care?

    Perhaps it is best to begin by discussing what Harpeth is not about. It’s nothing like the vision of public schooling that Rhee advocates for everyone else. Children at Harpeth Hall – where the median class size is a mere 13 students – are not ranked by state-approved standardized tests. There is no school board that decides to fire teachers or even close the school if Harpeth students don’t do well on tests.

    None of these outcomes can happen because Harpeth girls are not taking the multitude of statewide performance evaluation exams recommended by reformers like Rhee and her former husband and children’s father, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman.

    Rhee and her ex are not exactly alone in their “do as I say, not as I do” approach to their children’s education. Other politicians who regularly opine on the need for greater public school accountability via high-stakes testing have made similar choices.

    What we have here, however, is something more than a parent making a choice about the best needs of her own sons and daughters. This is a case of elites who are ensuring their progeny will not be subjected to the policies they themselves are promoting for other people’s children.”

    1. David Lentini

      Anyone following Rhee or her efforts (along with the Obama adminstration and the rest of the 1%) to destroy public educaiton should read Diane Ravitch’s ‘blog. Ravitch is an historian of public education, whose book Left Back is probably the best history of the century-plus effort to reform U.S. public education. (You can read about Ravitch here.)

      And in news for the Guardian, there’s no “paradox”. The reform effort today is but a reprise of the original reform effort that started in the 1890s, when the financial elites bought the then-new schools of education (like Columbia’s Teachers College) to push the ideas of Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford on public education in the name of “efficiency”.

      The real point, however, was to ensure that the elites of that day would not be troubled by upstart immigrants–especially Jews and Catholics–that could challenge their WASP triumphalism. Public schools were to be made into institutions to give the laboring classes just enough to make the useful to the Carnegies, Mellons, Fords, Fricks, etc. but no more. The elite private schools would ensure the ruling classes would control the country.

      Today’s unceasing nonsense about failing schools, incomptent teachers, wasteful spending, international weakness, and technological obsolesence, is jsut the current version of what was pushed on the public a century ago.

      1. AbyNormal

        i went further under the hood pertaining to Merrow’s piece. i have a real problem with with an earlier comment of his:

        “according to conspiracy theorists, are the Walton Foundation and other right-leaning organizations; ALEC; the Koch brothers, Eli Broad and other wealthy individuals; and influential power-brokers like Joel Klein. Without them, this explanation has it, she would be nothing.”

        then greasy as i was i jumped down a worm hole and found this:
        “Do you notice the corporate entity missing from Merrow’s list? The Gates Foundation, which spent $2 million to promote “Waiting for Superman,” which portrayed Rhee as a savior of public education. And the Gates Foundation also funds John Merrow’s operation, which likewise provided extensive coverage of Rhee.”

        1. Susan the other

          Of course MSNBC is Microsoft NBC which clearly explains how Gates avoids negative publicity. Or is it Monsanto NBC, I forget which.

      2. Andrea

        Rhee and her doings are actually far worse than the ‘practise what you preach’ saying. The history of education (or of medecine for that matter) is filled with examples of theoreticians who contributed a lot, or at least were considered and had impact. Doctors smoke and don’t wash their hands at home, as a trivial ex. J.J. Rousseau (b.1712) who was attacked for abandoning his children springs to mind, to quote a historical example. Yet, he promoted breast feeding and thus saved thousands of lives.

        Rhee clearly conceives of society as composed of upper elites, to which she belongs in her mind, and the lower classes, who are there to be exploited, controlled, oppressed. To her, one surmises, there is no contradiction between her ‘work’ for schools and what is best for children. She knows perfectly well what is best, simply the ugly low lifes – stupid, rude, primitive, poor, from broken families, etc. etc. – don’t deserve any of the ‘best’. They just don’t! Victoriana, here I come! Of course all this is tied up with the plan to completely privatize all education in the USA, thus ensuring domination, Obama is on board, was right from the start.

  9. petridish

    RE: CJR “Covering Facts Versus the ‘Narrative’

    What has always bothered me about this whole Benghazi business is the way the story told by Susan Rice on the Sunday shows to explain what had happened morphed after the fact into “talking points” as opposed to, say, explanation or factual information. Framing what she said as “talking points” is now universally accepted, even by the CJR, but “talking points” are neither fact nor (true) narrative.

    Here is the definition of “talking point” from Wikipedia:

    Talking points represent a debating tactic, but facts, by definition, are not debatable. Rice presented her story unopposed. No indication of ongoing debate was presented.

    CJR should advise reporters to immediately clarify, in the future, whether information presented is “talking points” or what the speaker knows REALLY happened. Characterization of information as “talking points” should translate as propaganda.

    1. optimader

      which exploded CIA endeavor do people really think they will ever get a straight debriefing? Haven’t seen it referred to as a “consulate” too much lately. The political head hunting is predictable.

    2. ohmyheck

      Ack. I didn’t read the linked article, but after reading the stories about unending war, I am kinda in a Bad Mood. So, this whole thing with Susan Rice using some stupid video as a cover-up for the MO behind Benghazi, is so ludicrous as to make one wonder how much more frikkin’ stupid humans can get. Next we have the latest on the Boston Bombing, and how Jdokar wrote a “manifesto” on the inside of the boat he was hiding in. Thankfully, I found this wonderful piece, which gives me hope that there are a few functioning braincells left within our species. I feel MUCH better now.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, I always carry a Sharpie with me when I’m on the run from the cops. After all, you never know when you might end up injured and bleeding inside of a boat, and writing a manifesto can help you organize your thoughts.

      2. petridish

        Can’t you just picture all the serious FBI suits sitting around the conference table cooking up these “manifesto talking points?”

        The magic pen has to be a sharpie. A ball-point or #2 Ticonderoga wouldn’t be readable when used to write on fiberglass. Type of writing implement–check.

        Let’s get a religious reference in there. 21 virgins might be too much given what happened in Steubenvillle recently, but “heavenly reward” sets the collective American hair on fire. There’s a bonus in it for anyone who can work the word mosque in. Muslim bash–check.

        While we’re at it, let’s take care of this Miranda situation. If he already confessed, we didn’t need a warning. Manifesto is a good word. Didn’t that Dorner guy leave a manifesto? The Unabomber? Sinister reference–check.

        If anybody asks why we didn’t tell them about this sooner, just say “national security”– at least three times. We didn’t know if there were any more terrorists who hate us for our freedom to run marathons out there and it is our solemn duty to keep the running public safe. Half the population takes Paxil anyway–they won’t even remember they hadn’t heard this before. National security obligation–double check.

        Anyone not buying? Hit ’em hard and often with the tin foil hat, conspiracy nut charge. Truther. Birther. Works every time. Bullshit rebuttal–check.

        Good work, Ladies and Gentlemen. Now let’s go SELL these talking points. And be careful out there.

  10. Brian

    Simple charts work very well for simple folks. The very young man attributed to be the author of the piece loves money printing and is a senior reporter something. Can’t hope ever be exchanged for rational thought? Can the minimum of education be substituted for historical record?
    “Life is what you ignore” Our new mantra for moving forward.

  11. from Mexico

    Glenn Greenwald said:

    I wrote that the “war on terror” cannot and will not end on its own for two reasons: ….(2) the nation’s most powerful political and economic factions reap a bonanza of benefits from its continuation. Whatever else is true, it is now beyond doubt that ending this war is the last thing on the mind of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and those who work at the highest levels of his administration.

    There’s a short but very informative video of the history of how the mililitary got to be a Keynesian mechanism that transfers public wealth to private industry, featuring Philip Agee, Noam Chomsky, Nancy Snow and John Stockwell, which begins here:

    1. from Mexico

      ANDREW BACEVICH (from interview with Bill Moyers, March 23, 2012) noting that we have now moved to Plan C after Plan A and Plan B to achieve Full Spectrum Dominance have failed:

      Again, one would refer to Afghan history here, that this is simply not a place that accommodates foreign invaders who think they know how to run the place better than the local population. But what I would want to emphasize, I think, is that by last year, I think Obama himself had given up on the notion that counterinsurgency provided a basis for U.S. strategy and had, indeed, begun to implement Plan C. And Plan C is targeted assassination.

      Plan C is relying on drones, unmanned aerial vehicles with missiles, and also commandos, special operation forces, in order to conduct military operations, in essence on a global basis, identifying those who could pose a threat to us. And without regard to congressional authority, without regard to considerations of national sovereignty, to go kill the people we think need to be killed. Plan C is already being implemented.

      Here’s how Bacevich Full Spectrum Dominance in an earlier interview:

      The end of the Cold War coincided almost precisely with the first Persian Gulf War of 1990, 1991, Operation Desert Storm. Operation Desert Storm was perceived to be this great, historic, never before seen victory…

      [T]he war itself was advertised as this great success, demonstrating that a new American way of war had been developed, and that this new American way of war held the promise of enabling the United States to exercise military dominion on a global basis in ways that the world had never seen.

      The people in the Pentagon had developed a phrase to describe this. They called it, ‘full spectrum dominance.’ Meaning, that the United States was going to exercise dominance, not just capability, dominance across the full spectrum of warfare. And this became the center of the way that the military advertised its capabilities in the 1990s.

      One has to wonder what it is we are going to reap with Plan C. From the results of the recent elections in Pakistan:

      …pro Taliban JUIF got 10 seats at national level and got 22 percent of votes in Baluchistan and 18 percent in Khaiber Pukhtoon Khawa province, the two provinces bordering Afghanistan.!/farooq.tari/posts/10151580321537856

      It’s often been argued that the drone attacks are radicalizing the victim populations. Could this be evidence of that?

        1. Susan the other

          So here’s a thought. Since they have an entire company dedicated to reading the blogs, this being one, they know what we think about their propaganda. It must be discouraging. This might explain why, when it comes to something that is possibly very admirable – like cleaning up the environment and using only clean energy – they never mention it. They know they have exactly zero credibility.

  12. Ottawan

    Insurgency in Canada
    Unfortunate that NC linked to that report, given that it’s a pièce de crap from a bent “foundation”. Thankfully the news item acknowledges the report’s provenance and gets comment from those who rightly see the report as yet another attempt to undermine the legitimacy of opposition through association to violent radicalism.

    It should be clear that most indian bands/coalitions cannot presently sustain an effective paramilitary action. Quite simply, many bands have too many serious internal problems to mobilize. Which isn’t to deny the obvious ability of many bands to mobilize for shorter-term actions like blockades, or individuals for actions like industrial sabotage. Its only to say that these are a long ways away from a insurgency.

    On that note, I can’t help but wonder if maybe one of the goals of this report is stretch the definition of “insurgency” so as to include blockades and sabotage (who knows).

    1. AbyNormal


      “The fact that Canada’s natural wealth flows unfairly from Aboriginal lands and peoples to non-Aboriginal Canadians is a long-standing and justifiable grievance,” the report said.

      A large number of poorly educated, unemployed young men – a “warrior cohort”, as Bland put it – provide fertile recruits for militant groups, the report says.”

      you win the ‘typical & boring’ award today

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Living on top of the wealth flows? So are we all. That’s what the supply chain is all about. The wealth flow chain from the Marcellus shale has links in the sand mines of Wisconsin, for example.

        1. AbyNormal

          even if they’re unarmed, anyone can run a test to see what effect heated, rapidly expanding gases have on a pipeline thru the BC wilderness…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Many viewpoints subsequently seen to be important early warning signals emanate from “bent” foundations; I would instance Heritage, AEI, Pete Peterson’s various front organizations, etc. So (truly) thanks for the contextualization.

  13. Massinissa

    I dont mean to be rude, but was linking that ‘What do you desire’ article really necessary?

    I read the whole damn thing (skipping some of the parts that made me most uncomfortable) but if there was a point in there somewhere, I must have missed it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, there’s an Atlantic commentary on it in the meta-link following, so the topic is in the zeitgeist. It also could be seen to relate (IMNSHO) to the immediately following link, as a challenging use case.

    2. Anonii

      What the hell are “we” doing to raise kids who can’t even recall having experienced “puppy love” in elementary school? Never experienced being in love? WTH!? Are “we” raising generations of sociopaths, or in the case of these “porn experiences,” simply psychopaths? I guess since all our vetted PTB “heroes” are psychopaths, you emulate what you worship.

      BTW: That Mel Gibson over-the-top “epic” film about Jesus’ torture comes to mind reading the two pieces, with a little ZeroDarkThirty propaganda thrown in (though didn’t see either. Just read the reviews.)

        1. Anonii

          On second thought, after reading this piece by Parry ( on the complicity of the Reagan Admin (School of the Americas) in the “torture/death squads” in Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Columbia, Bolivia, etc, of center/left dissidents, the genre seems more akin to promote the “ZeroDarkThirty propaganda” meme. The the CIA fund this endeavor too?

    3. charles leseau

      I don’t know if it was necessary or not, but my god, the overwrought writing style and hyperbole of that bit was so painful to read I had to quit halfway through. Eeek!

  14. diane

    Slightly off topic, but Lambert, if you can get a hold of one, you would probably love Parks Success with Seeds, by Geo. W. Park Seed Co., Inc., Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 78-61056

    The one I have is copyright 1978 and it has wonderful advice on growing from seed. Even better, there are 246 pages with photos of seedlings, so you can identify them when they sprout.

      1. diane

        You’re very welcome. Another thing (just in case you haven’t tried it yet), for when you get back to seed planting, cut clear plastic juice, etcetera, containers (might as well put that hideous plastic to work, since it’s increasingly hard to find anything in ancient and wonderful, perpetuallly reusable when taken tender care of, glass) in half, and use them as mini, self condensing, snail and slug barrier, seedling terrariums.

        Of course, you can use wide mouthed glass jars to the same effect.

        When the seedlings are large enough, take the containers off at dusk, when it’s cooler and gentler for them.

        1. AbyNormal

          Beer. i recycle small 1/2″ pan…fill’m with beer and instant slug keg party. they never touch my toms, peppers an vines :0)

          1. diane

            I could never bring myself to drowning their snail cousins in their own favorite brew after the first time I let one slide along my hand with it’s cute little antennnaes … it seemed to irritate my mom and yet make her smile at me at the same time ….

            siiiigh, your sap, diane!


        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          @Diane I used the milk jug method with good success for several years, so last year went “all in” and then that bizarre spring (maybe) gave me weeds instead of seedlings. A really embarassing failure, and thank heavens I’m a dabbler and not a real peasant!

  15. diane

    re Bonobos:

    Thursday, September 01, 2011 – We Are The Monsters We’ve Been Waiting For

    But it’s not true. In fact, the chimp isn’t our only closest relative. There’s one other, precisely as close to us, and that example may be more instructive to those still seeking a better myth to live by.

    Since it has been found that chimpanzees sometimes raid their neighbors and brutally take their enemies’ lives, these apes have edged closer to the warrior image that we have of ourselves. Like us, chimps wage violent battles over territory. Genetically speaking, however, our species is exactly close to another ape, the bonobo, which does nothing of the kind. Bonobos can be unfriendly to their neighbors, but soon after a confrontation has begun, females often rush to the other side to have sex with both males and other females. Since it is hard to have sex and wage war at the same time, the scene rapidly turns into a sort of picnic. It ends with adults from different groups grooming each other while the chldren play. Thus far, lethal aggression among bonobos is unheard of.

    further on in the piece:

    We’re taught nature is dumb, and supernature is dumber, and that neither want to nor can tell us anything like wisdom. We’re instructed to envy the greedy, disdain the gentle and make it on our own – or not – even though caring for one another has always meant survival for the underclasses.

  16. Hugh

    “Is This Another Bubble? We Can’t Know Without Better Data” This is a little like a supposed expert mountaineer standing next to Everest and opining that we can’t know if there are any mountains there “without better data”.

    It’s all fine and good that Warren has finally gotten around to demanding that criminal bankers go to prison, but some of us who are more cynical would ask why she couldn’t have done this 4 years ago.

    Benghazi and the IRS are both scandals but mostly misdirection. The real scandal about Libya is that Obama waged a war not just in violation of the Constitution which delegates the war making power to the Congress, but in flagrant, in your face, violation of the watered down War Powers Act.

    The IRS scandal directs attention away from the massive inequalities in the tax burden which favor the rich and which translate into the purchase of the political system.

    1. diane

      The IRS scandal directs attention away from the massive inequalities in the tax burden

      Yes, the legalized inequalities only favoring Oligarchical, Multinational Corporations [and certain other entities such as majority shareholders of Sub S Corps and Partners of certain Partnerships, etcetera], largly instituted by the upper echelon at the Big Four “Audit”[Obscene Wealth Protecting Scrooge benefactors] Firms who inexplicabaly are allowed (ultimately) to write “Tax Law” in those hallowed mahoghanied halls of the malarial swamp in DC with no input from the populace whatsoever.

      1. Susan the other

        Speaking of taxes. If we did do VAT it might not be so regressive since the end of the regression would be the profits of big corporations, who otherwise avoid taxes altogether because their profits go to management bonuses or shareholders who then avoid taxes altogether. Their avoidance tricks are unlimited.

        1. diane

          As I understand it, a VAT tax will not work though, as it totally disregards the fact that some have to use all of their revenues for basics consumption (100% non-diposable income) and have none left to save. Whereas, those who make enough money to not have to spend all of it (disposable income), will be paying a far lesser tax rate on their income. Perhaps I’m missing something there that I haven’t thought of though?

    2. Jackrabbit

      Good summary Hugh. It’s important to not lose sight of the larger picture.

      FWIW, my 2cents:

      It’s not just a bubble, it’s a bubble that is purposely blown by the Fed.

      IMO the real purpose is to prop up the housing market (not stocks) but they under-estimated what it would take to do that. We are now living through a great experiment as the Fed hopes for a positive response before negative effects overwhelm them.

      I’m less hard on her. There are many long-term members of Congress and other public servants that have failed to call attention to these matters. I think she is doing what she can when she can. I think her letter is a result of her being stonewalled by the Regulators on more mundane matters so she has moved up the food chain.

      Has Krugman, for example, called for jailing banksters?

      Benghazi, IRS
      I would aim higher: the scandals highlight the nature of the Obama administration (secretive, controlling, craven, etc.).

      I don’t see the scandals as misdirection because the resulting deepening distrust of government is unwelcome at a time when they are pushing Austerity + contemplating war.

      Given the attention span of the average American, they hardly have to misdirect. But TPTB *DO* push/reinforce myths and spin events (that often play off myths). Currently, we have a bumper crop of BS (from both sides) that is just astounding.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Um… to complete the thought:

        What’s extraordinary, is that the Fed was criticized for fueling the housing/credit bubble leading up to the 2008 crash, and yet here they are doing much the same thing once more!

        And no one complains. On Wall Street its: let the good times roll! and on Main Street its: we need all the help we an get.

        The scary part is that the Fed may be locked in/boxed in. One can well wonder if their ‘exit strategy’ doesn’t REQUIRE blowing a bubble (of arbitrary size).

        Presumably, THIS time, when the bubble bursts, Wall Street will not be caught naked when the tide goes out >>Naked Capitalism plug<<. Is the Fed effectively transferring 2008 Bank loses to Main Street via a ponzi-like bubble?

  17. Susan the other

    Well we now know Beppe Grillo isn’t a good Catholic, after his latest racist rant. That actually shocked me. The fact that he was so racist. And Pope Francis on the evils of capitalism? They’ve been dancing around this position like pious clodhoppers for almost 50 years. Patience is a virtue. Sometimes it takes an institution 500 years to become humanized. I wonder if Odyssey Dawn will last that long? Seeking the lost enlightenment.

    1. Massinissa

      On the one hand, some of the things Grillo was saying was lunacy.

      Jews trying to get Mel Gibson? Wut?

      On the other hand, I really agree with this quote: “Israel is frightening. Its behavior is irresponsible. There, I said it! And im not even drunk!”

      I agree with this wholeheartedly.

      But Jews controlling information, really? Its the capitalist class controlling information, which includes, but is not exclusive to, and formed only secondarily (or tertiarily…) of Jews. Its a rather inaccurate claim.

      This is a Right-Wing obfuscation of the legitimate problem of media control.

      To be fair though, im having a hard time finding first hand accounts of what he said. Could you direct me to any? Google has mostly shown me second hand accounts that only relate snippets and second hand accounts of what he said.

    2. Andrea

      I live in Swizerland not Italy. And have no clue about what speech of Grillo is being discussed. (Nothing in the links? Search > nothing except these few comment?)

      I’m guessing American oh scandal! hype about ‘racist remarks’.

      I’m not a supporter or whatever and not up in Italian politics. But one should at least look at what is going on there…

      In Sicily, for ex. there are 14 elected from the 5*movement (first party there votes etc., and nationally in votes/polls from 20 to 30%.)

      They all voluntarily reduced their pay by 70% (move refused by the central Gov) so put the surplus into a kitty to finance with micro credit at low-no interest very small biz.

      The mayor of Parma, 5*, I mention because ppl recognize because of the ham an’ huh not pork was elected after a campaign that cost 6K euros.

      The 5* movement refused public campaign funding of 42 million euros. Stuff it – they said. Understand, this public funding of pol parties, in Italy, France, etc. is supposed to scotch private funding by Corps and the rich, and is managed in function of official adherence / votes, etc. 5* did not accept it, their pov is that politics should be free of money, to make it short.

      Now that was the positive…surely there are negs there, Italians, chip in?, yet at least it bears watching and serious discussion and not just horrified comments about racism and so on.

      – info from Swiss Press and radio.

  18. Susan the other

    Thanks for the link to Nat Geo “Imperfection of Evolution” by Carl Zimmer. The microbiome is really getting prime time these days. Interesting tricks like horizontal gene transfer (aka cannibalism) and slow enzymes (stonewalling). Calling Dr. Lamarck.

  19. Ms G

    Mayor Bloomberg says if you’re not a “rocket scientist” you should not bother going to college (and spending $40-$50K per year — he doesn’t know about state schools, apparently) and instead you should go become a plumber.

    Not that there’s anything at all the matter with becoming a skilled tradesperson or cratsperson, but it is yet another condescending message from the fountain of unsolicited advice that is Mayor Bloomberg.

    The best part of the article is the NY Daily News’ cartoon illustration. It may not be up for long!

    1. AbyNormal

      the comments are worth a read
      ex: “Bloomberg shut down most of the vocational schools as part of his push to make every student ‘college ready’. Then he dumbed down the tests to give these kids the false impression that they WERE college ready.”

      love the pic…thanks Ms G

    2. Massinissa

      Lack of knowledge of state school pricing, and hypocrisy considering he closed a bunch of trade schools aside, its actually not bad advice for plenty of people.

      But really its not as if Bloomberg is helping any, if anything he is part of the problem.

  20. ohmyheck

    Re: Amazing Investment Advice— Hello? Smart People out there? (taps on screen)… I would appreciate some thoughts on this:

    “And now for the good news…instead of trying to pick a fund that will beat the market, and pick times to be in the market, you just buy and hold a low-cost index fund, you will be guaranteed to beat 90% of funds over the long haul.”

    What say ye? Where’s craazyman and his buddies? Discuss.

    1. Massinissa

      You might want to post a comment like that earlier, like in the morning, or before noon. It wont get very many comments at this time of day.

      You may want to just post this comment tomorrow morning if you want more input.

  21. Andrew Watts

    RE: Senator calls for U.S. to join oil price probe

    The energy markets as a whole were deregulated along with the rest of the finance. They were just making the markets more efficient. Who could’ve known that those honorable entrepreneurs were dishonest?

    A lesser person might use this revelation to make fun of the peak oil crowd. Instead I’d just like to point out that a few bad apples (Enron) can ruin the whole barrel full of apples. Which definitely appears to be the case.

  22. skippy

    Fracking Fan Ernest Moniz Confirmed As U.S. Energy Secretary

    With a unanimous vote, the United States Senate confirmed MIT professor Ernest Moniz as the new secretary of the Department of Energy. Unlike Obama’s pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Moniz received support from both sides of the aisle, with the only delay coming from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who was protesting Obama’s plan to cut funding from a project in his state.

    Moniz, who was an energy undersecretary in the Clinton administration, replaces Steven Chu, who served as energy secretary in Obama’s first term. Although his acceptance into the office was fairly conflict free, the new DOE secretary will face many challenges over the next few years, and his decisions will likely shape America’s energy future long beyond his tenure in office.

    Perhaps it was his work in nuclear energy and praise for coal and fracking that allowed him to escape the Conservative gauntlet that has been thrown down for Gina McCarthy, Obama’s pick for the EPA. Unfortunately, these characteristics don’t bode well for human and environmental health, nor the renewable energy industry. Environmental groups lost no time in reminding him of the volatile energy issues currently facing the U.S. and urging decisions that move us away from fossil fuels for good. – snip

    skippy… cough~

  23. skippy

    Great thing is… whilst everyone is chasing IRS, AP, Benghazi, butterfly’s et al… the deck is being stacked.

    skippy.. the white noise is epic in scale.

Comments are closed.