Links 6/11/13

Dear patient readers,

We are now at a new webhost. You will hopefully notice NOTHING different immediately. We believe the daily e-mail blast will still go out at 7 AM EDT as usual (that’s under Feedburner, so we think the timing on their server will hold) but if you get it more like 10 AM, let us know and we’ll sort it out.

Being at a new host will enable us to do some things that we couldn’t readily in our former setup (we will spare you long shaggy dog stories) and those will be addressed over time.

But because this did demand some of my attention overnight, you’ll be getting all cross posts today. We should be back to normal programming tomorrow.

Watch: Scientists in Singapore demonstrate ‘invisibility cloak’ that makes cat and fish vanish Guardian

Secret Climate Cost Calculations: the Sequel Triple Crisis

Cancer Patient Diagnoses the Hospital’s Chemotherapy Error Patient Safety Blog

Tokyo’s underground bike-storage robots BoingBoing (Chuck L)

Shadow banking squeeze catches up to majors MacroBusiness

Chinese economy slowing fast MacroBusiness

The ECB’s Forked-Tongue Policy To Save The Euro Wolf Richter

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America Daniel Ellsberg, Guardian

A Real Debate on Surveillance New York Times. The editorial calls for hearings. And mirabile dictu, it scoffs at Obama’s and Feinstein’s claims to be interested in “openness”.

Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-terror Tactic Pew Research. The really depressing bit is the “modest” interest in these revelations.

Why Edward Snowden’s flight to Hong Kong might be brilliant Global Post (Clusterstock)

New Facebook NSA Privacy Options WeKnowMemes (John L)

The Solitary Leaker David Brooks, New York Times. Brooks’ inner authoritarian on full view. Ugly.

Government Secrets and the Need for Whistle-blowers Bruce Schneier

If Wanting to Reveal that All Americans’ Metadata Gets Swept Up Is Treason, Edward Snowden Is in Distinguished Custody Marcy Wheeler

General Clapper Appears To Have Misled Congress And Public About NSA Program DSWright, Firedoglake

NSA Leaker Was Shy, Computer-Bound Teenager in Maryland Bloomberg

Inside the ‘Q Group,’ the Directorate Hunting Down Edward Snowden Daily Beast

Who Are We and Why Don’t We Have Any Sense of Proportion About Terrorism? letsgetitdone Corrente

Using Metadata to find Paul Revere Kieran Healy (Chuck L). Hhm, this is a little worrisome, since NC has been singled out as similarly central in network analyses of the blogosphere. But, phew, financial bloggers aren’t persons of interest…yet….

Why Theoretical Computer Scientists Aren’t Worried About Privacy Jeremy Kun. If you are going to read only one thing about the NSA surveillance scandal today, this is the one. It shows how this statement by Obama, “But I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” which is the logic many have been told they must accept, is yet another Big Lie.

Austerity: the greatest bait-and-switch in history BoingBoing. Grr, I can’t access the video but I have on good authority that it’s well done and lively.

New Breed of Banking Malware Hijacks Text Messages American Banker. If this is mere hackers, imagine what the National Stasi Agency could do.

Transcripts from Bradley Manning’s Trial Freedom of the Press Foundation (Matt Weidner)

New layer of secrecy emerges at Guantanamo court McClatchy (Chuck L). The way things are going, we’ll have to add a periodic “Star Chamber Watch” feature.

CFPB issues study on bank and credit union overdraft practices Consumer Law & Policy

Apple’s Tax Rates–just what does Cook’s “way I look at this” mean??? Linda Beale

Apple bonds lose 9 per cent in six weeks Financial Times

Banks Seen as Aid in Fraud Against Older Consumers New York Times

The real underpinning for equities Gavyn Davies, Financial Times. I don’t agree on the sustainability of this trend, not for simple mean reversion, which strikes me as a straw man, but that growth in profit share has been based on using RISING levels of consumer wages to substitute for growth in income to workers and underinvestment.

Compound Interest: Friend Or Foe? Illargi

National Income: Paying Work, Not Capital Democracy Journal (Lambert)

Alan Blinder: Fiscal Fixes for the Jobless Recovery Wall Street Journal (Mark Thoma)

Antidote du jour:


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    1. lakewoebegoner

      Singapore, an authoritarian city-state run by an entrenched corporate-government bureaucracy completely depending on the US Navy for its defense? (while the population of Sing. would be completely sympathetic, the gov’t—not at all).

      pathetic to say but the dude’s best bet is Russia and a lifetime of being smeared as a Russkie traitor on CNN.

      1. from Mexico

        It seems to me a handful of Latin American countries — Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina — might be an attractive option.

        They are, after all, the only countries in the world whose leadership has stood up to the US neoliberal/neocon Juggernaut and said “NO!”

  1. Chris Engel

    Obama nominates unqualified former congressional staffer (and Goldman employee) Amanda Renteria to replace Gensler as chief at CFTC:

    President Barack Obama is poised to nominate Amanda Renteria, a former Senate staffer, to replace Gary Gensler atop the main U.S. derivatives regulator amid an intensifying fight between Gensler and the world’s major banks and regulators over cross-border transactions.

    Renteria has little experience in financial regulation. Congressional aides who worked on the 2010 overhaul of financial rules known as Dodd-Frank said she played a bit role in formulating the law. Most of her career has been focused on public service, except for a few years when Renteria worked at Goldman Sachs after graduating from Stanford University.

    Also, Justin Wolfer’s wife (spouse? partner?) Betsey Stevenson got picked for top economic advisory role:

    The White House late Monday announced President Barack Obama’s intent to appoint Ms. Stevenson as one of the panel’s three members, hours after Mr. Obama formally unveiled the nomination of White House economist Jason Furman to be the CEA chairman. Only the chairman’s position requires Senate confirmation. Ms. Stevenson is expected to take her post this summer, joining the other member, Harvard professor Jim Stock. The panel advises the president on economic policy.

    1. Francois T

      Obysmal is replacing Gensler because he had the bad idea to demand that banks be more accountable about swaps trading.

      Banksters henchperson went to Obysmal people to whine and problem solved…Gensler’s out!

  2. danb

    I’ve been confused these past 12 years about government’s role in protecting us from terrorism. Since “they hate us for our freedoms,” it follows that the less freedom we have the less reason “they” have to hate and therefore to terrorize us. I now see the NSA’s spying on us as part of a set of activities which have had us on the path to “them” no longer having a reason to hate us. This of course makes me feel safe beyond any calculable measurement.

    1. diptherio

      Well put. If they hate us because of our freedoms, the obvious thing to do is deep-six our freedoms. Brilliant!


      I’d also add that the safest place a person could possibly be is in a solitary confinement cell in one of our country’s many, “Super-Max” prison facilities. There’s a reason why they call those places “maximum security”…

      1. sufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi

        Of course we need to bear in mind that the “they hate us for our freedoms” line was originally Bushian code for “they hate us because we’re Wonder Bread Christians”.
        Speaking of Presidents, it was Eisenhower who once said that if all Americans want is security they can go to prison.

        1. Butch in Waukegan

          And how did Bush want us to express our “freedoms”? Go shopping and visit Disney World.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ve been reading GOT off and on over months, and while this sort of gender analysis is not my cup of tea, it serves to highlight (apparently unbeknownst to the author) the ways the HBO series deviates from the books.

      One overarching theme is the various sort of duties and roles that the players are subject to and the degree to which they accept or reject them. The “what’s expected of women” is a biggie, with the contrast of perfect highborn girile girl Sansa v. can’t stand it Arya almost a caricature. Yet Arya in the books kills people with her own hand, once premeditated, the other times when attacked. Brienne is clearly a hopeless gender misfit who grasps desperately at the role of knighthood as a way out. She’s such a true believer that she’s unable to grok that you still have conflicting duties (something Jamie lectures her on, in one of the rare moment when a book theme is made a topic of conversation). Catelyn in my reading is less inept than the series apparently makes her out to be. Ned Stark clearly HAD to take the role of the Hand. Catelyn in the book is merely telling him what he on some level knows and has to accept. And it was Ned IMHO who made the fatal error, not Catelyn. He’s the one who nosed about in the geneaology and figured out that Cersi and Jamie were engaging in incest and that Joffrey was their son and therefore not the heir. But rather than acting on that, he stupidly tells Cersei thinking she will flee. And Catelyn’s error of trying to trade Jamie for her girls is a way lesser error than Robb marrying whatever her name was and repudiating the arranged marriage into the Frey line. That was why the Red Wedding took place, remember? Lordie. Even Jamie (before the murder, when he hears of Robb’s marriage) has a moment where he almost feels sorry for Robb for winning the war on the battlefield yet losing it in the bedroom. But per this writer, the Stark fail is CATELYN’S fault? Either the post author has it in for her or the series writers.

      Similarly, in the books, Sansa is made out to be a blithering idiot who becomes painfully a bit wiser over time, but is astonishingly saved by her complete success in embodying perfect behavior for a well born girl. Enough people do what they are trained to do with someone like that, defend her, that she survives longer than you’d imagine she could.

      Oh, and Greyjoy isn’t castrated, he dies.

      Look, the series is MODELED on the War of the Roses. The best you’d expect is to see women carving out itty bitty terrains in which they wielded a smidgen of authority. Martin in his tale uses every opportunity he can to create interesting women pushing against the constraints. But the men are constrained too, witness Snow as a bastard, Ned with his duties, Robb paying with his life when he deviates from obligation when the stakes are high and the Lannisters prevailing because they have a finely honed sense of how to exercise power and aren’t constrained by any moral compunctions.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        To the contrary, Lord Tywin Lannister reveals the source of his power is not in his ability to kill anyone without any moral restraint but the opposite, his willingness to subordinate his murderous impulse to kill the abomination of a son born to him in the form of a dwarf, Tyrion because he fathered a properly born child, not a bastard into the Lannister bloodline. The family is all important, not the individual member’s desires or wants, but their duties each and everyone to the family as a whole. And not just the family now, but the family as it exists dynastically over time.

        The moral code here is not my moral code, and I suppose not yours either. But it is a moral code so strong as to override his revulsion and disgust at himself for breeding a dwarf, a mistake that he would sorely destroy as not to remind the world that it is a product of his personal blood, but The Lannister dynasty is their enterprise and apparently, it means paying your debt, to raise the son and teach him to follow his duty to the family enterprise. They always pay their debts, nice to have the money to be able to do that. Not so nice to have to pay the Lannister lineage by living up to their enterprise of power and wealth, for the past and the future. An unbroken chain of being in the form of their bloodline. You can’t kill properly born sons and have a bloodline, even when they make you sick to your stomach. Ah, kids, what’s a father to do?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, keeping Tyrion alive was just another power calculation. Another child is someone to marry off. It’s a dynastic counter. And you need to keep male heirs alive, dwarves or not, because something might happen to the elder brother (not just intrigue, mere childhood diseases and accidents). This has nothing to do with family values and everything to do with power maximization. Tyrion is another chess piece Trwyn can move around, installing him as the Hand, shoving him aside, making him marry Sansa, etc.

  3. from Mexico

    @ “Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-terror Tactic”

    It seems this is evidence in support of cyclical theories of history like those formulated by Peter Turchin, Kevin Phillips or Andrew M. Lobaczewski where societies follow a life cycle: youth, middle-age, and finally debility, infirmity and senility. Turchin and Lobaczewski were not completely deterministic and defeatist in this regard, but believe that it is possible for man to find a way to break the cycle.

    In these theories, the social disease is not just one which infects the elite, but the entire social body. As Lobaczewski put it, there is a “spiritual crisis in a society, which historiography associates with exhausting of the ideational, moral, and religious values heretofore nourishing the society.” If the entire society succumbs to this sort of creeping decadence, it renders a change in leadership not only impossible, but a change of leadership would do nothing to address the problems that exist in the rest of the body politic.

    1. diptherio

      True, but the new ways will spring up in the compost of the old. The old ideas, of nation-states and of rule by daddy-hero-god figures, are stale and harmful; I say good-riddance. Unfortunately, I think the interim period is gonna suck pretty hard. But on the up-side, dementia signals imminent collapse. As the taoists teach us, the height of something’s power is also the beginning of its decline. Those of us who make it through to the other side of the collapse may well have a much larger option-set than we have today. (A ‘seer’ I happen to know, whose predictions have proven uncannily accurate, predicts a worldwide war in the near future, with killing and horror everywhere, followed by a time when more people will be much more inclined to cooperation and non-aggression than is currently the case)

      1. from Mexico

        That is an iteration Marxian theory, as Hannah Arendt explains in “On Violence”:

        Marx’s idea, borrowed from Hegel, that every old society harbors the seeds of its successors in the same way every living organism harbors the seeds of its offspring is indeed not only the most ingenious but also the only possible conceptual guarantee for the sempiternal continuity of progress in history; and since the motion of this progress is supposed to come about through the clashes of antagonistic forces, it is possible to interpret every “regress” as a necessary but temporary setback.

        Arendt then goes on to critique this theory of history, and to compare it to other competitors:

        To be sure, a guarantee that in the final analysis rests on little more than a metaphor is not the most solid basis to erect a doctrine upon, but this, unhappily, Marxism shares with a great many other doctrines in philosophy. Its great advantage becomes clear as soon as one compares it with other concepts of history — such as “eternal recurrences,” the rise and fall of empires, the haphazard sequence of essentially unconnected events — all of which can equally be documented and justified, but none of which will guarantee a continuum of linear time and continuous progress in history. And the only competitor in the field, the ancient notion of a Golden Age at the beginning, from which everything else is derived, implies the rather unpleasant certainty of continuous decline….

        [For Marxism] progress not only explains the past without breaking up the time continuum but it can serve as a guide for acting into the future. This is what Marx discovered when he turned Hegel upside down: he changed the direction of the historian’s glance; instead of looking toward the past, he now could confidently look into the future. Progress gives an answer to the troublesome question, And what shall we do now? The answer, on the lowest level, says: Let us develop what we have into something better, greater, et cetera. (The, at first glance, irrational faith of liberals in growth, so characteristic of all our present political and economic theories, depends on this notion.)… [W]e are assured that nothing altogether new and totally unexpected can happen, nothing but the “necessary” results of what we already know. How reassuring that, in Hegel’s words, “nothing else will come out but what was already there.”

        I do not need to add that all our experiences in this century, which has constantly confronted us with the totally unexpected, stand in flagrant contradiction to these notions and doctrines, whose very popularity seems to consist in offering a comfortable, speculative or pseudo-scientific refuge from reality.

        1. from Mexico

          A kindred spirit with Arendt, who is very much opposed to not only the genetic determinism that currently dominates evolutionary biology but also the rational choice theory that dominates the social sciences, is the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson. To wit:

          Confront a human group with a novel problem, even one that never existed in the so-called ancestral environment, and its members may well come up with a workable solution.

          — DAVID SLOAN WILSON, Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society

        2. diptherio

          Actually, I’m thinking something more along the lines of Canticle for Liebowitz (the first part, anyway) or maybe Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. I don’t believe in progress (things don’t get better, they just get bad in different ways), but I do think that after this cycle of civilization has played itself out/destroyed itself, anybody still around will have more options for social organization and a fresh memory of what the old system led to.

          That could be 100 years in the future, of course…

    2. tongorad

      No shortage of grim reckonings in this age of TINA. Maybe what’s needed is not so much a necessary accommodation to some inevitable horizon but rather an expansion of joy, imagination and dare I say it, happiness?

      The right/neoliberals are selling their own version of the prosperity gospel. The left seem to be countering with the sky is falling. Maybe it is, but I can’t see such realizations moving enough people beyond despair and apathy.

    3. ron

      While the minority is outraged the vast majority of Americans continue to support a police state at home and continued war on terror abroad. My own history going back to the Vietnam era and trying to get the American public to support its end plus the McGovern run for President taught me that its the American Public that is to blame not the political parties. While many here point at Obama or Bush they really do reflect American values when it comes to modern warfare, police state tactics. The why of this situation is way over my pay grade!

      1. Crazy Horse

        Marx’s term: False Consciousness”

        And that observation was from ancient times when public communication amounted to some charismatic figure waving his fist in front of a crowd or a child molester in robes and a funny hat spouting edicts that he claimed originated from God.

        How far we’ve come both in the development of the carrot and the stick. Television and internet reality occupy far more brain wave activity and time than human interaction. Reading is as rare an activity as listening to classical music. Religion has long ago merged seamlessly with consumerism. Status is determined by how large the SUV and how many unused family rooms in the “home”, not by contributions to the community or recognition of leadership abilities.

        And the stick? We don’t incarcerate the highest percentage of our population in the world for no reason—-. Or maintain the world’s largest imperial military.

        When you make the argument that Americans get the type of political leaders they deserve it is a bit disingenuous. American’s values are a product of their political economy. And that political economy exists solely for the benefit of their Overlords.

  4. grayslady

    Regarding new web host: This morning I received a pop-up window telling me this page was running a script that was slowing down the computer. First time I’ve ever had that happen on NC. Don’t know if the two are related.

        1. rjs

          in posting the above comment, i too got a message that a script running on this site could cause my computer to become unresponsive…

          ive seen the same message at the guardian, but never had that here before…

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Most people (and I have readers who were timing it) find the site loads faster BUT there is a weird lag, in that the loadin appears to hang and then the page elements snap in quickly. So it’s net faster for most users but the short faux hang can create the impression it’s slower.

        Will ask re the script.

  5. Jim Haygood

    What Clapper told the National Journal [above link] is bad enough. But the Guardian’s quote from his NBC interview is worse:

    The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said in an NBC interview that he had responded in the “least untruthful manner” possible when he denied in congressional hearings last year that the NSA collected data on millions of Americans.

    So now it’s established that the nat-sec mandarins not only withhold info from Congress, they also flat-out lie when it’s necessary in their judgment.

    The same Guardian article carries another quote that greets one’s nose like a slap with a day-old fish:

    Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the national intelligence committee … made clear her disapproval of Snowden. “What he did was an act of treason,” she said.

    Whereas some might consider Feinstein’s collaboration in suspending the constitution an act of treason …

    1. Screwball

      Shouldn’t surprise us. By next week this will have blown over, forgot about, and the polls will show the sheep are perfectly fine with Big Brother. Because, you know, it’s about terrorism.

      The Snowden guy will be demonized, tarred and feathered, and every other bad thing the sheepherders tell us. Big Brother will continue doing what they do, the GOP will successfully place all the blame on Obama, while their base will cheer to thunderous applause, never realizing the fact their boy Dubya started this, and BOTH parties are guilty.

      We will elect the GOP in 2014 & 2016 only to be rewarded by more Patroit Acts, NDAA’s, less liberty, privacy, and rights. But a new Dancing with the Stars will be on, as well as “Who wants to be a millionaire.”

      We will be told “all is good” by the Ministry of Truth, but we should all change our name to Winston Smith.

      Honestly, after reading the American people’s reaction to this over the last few days – I have given up ALL hope. We truly deserve what we get. We are boiling frogs and don’t even know they turned the heat on.

      Pathetic friken Americans.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Feinstein: ‘It’s treason.’
        Boehner: ‘He’s a traitor.’

        Not an inch of daylight between John Feinstein and Dianne Boehner, just as Dubya Obama’s security policy is indistinguishable from Barack Bush’s.

        One thing is for damned sure: their rotten-borough Depublicrat duopoly, which has occupied office for over 150 uninterrupted years, certainly is not going to yield power or restore the constitution through the ballot box.

        1. Chris Engel

          “least untruthful manner” — lol what the fuck.

          it’s amazing how we can stretch the language and interpretation of laws to make torture, fraud, and constitutional violations legal and defensible.

          I’m eagerly awaiting the next chapter in this Snowden story. What our government does next is going to be key to determining how the public reacts to the situation as a whole. There’s also the question of whether Snowden will go for asylum in an embassy in HK Assange-style?

        2. Screwball

          Exactly. If only we could get the sheeple to see that.

          I’m old, and I’m losing hope I will ever see the change we need before I have to exit. It makes one glad they are old.

          I worry for my kids and grandkids. They best grow some stones, it won’t be pretty.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Since “sheeple” is both arrogant — I am no sheep! (cf. Luke 18:11) — and a counsel of despair, I personally deprecate its use. If you don’t want people to act like sheep, then give them a better alternative.

          2. Screwball

            I can’t reply directly to your quote Lambert. I’ll have to use this space instead.

            Not my choice of sheep, it’s theirs. They have the right to not be one. They are everywhere, sorry.

        3. Gmarks

          Rand Paul – gets a bad rap around here because he’s a libertarian… but O isn’t a ‘reformer’.. and Boehner, well, he’s a f@cking nazi, just like all the gopers.

          So if we know Dems and Repugs are of the same cloth — why discredit the Libertarians who at least honor personal freedom.

          But its always the same ole same ole… he’d open the borders.. heroin addicts would be raping my 6 year old.

          The DEMS and Repugs are evil evil evil… two heads of the same demon. But nobody flees to the liberty loving Pauls.

          Watch the reaction to my endorsement… stupid libs will come out of the woodwork advancing the most extreme libertarian positions… forgetting the most extreme DEMOCRATIC positions… on, say, man boy love?

          Nobody ever holds Democrats to the most extreme progressive stance of their crazies… or Repugs to the most extreme positions of their crazies.. and they are truly the crazies.

          Rand Paul and his dad… together with Ralph Nader, Feingold, and maybe that Jewish congressman from Florida… I don’t see anybody else that isn’t an Obomney Clone.

          Vote O — it’s DATE RAPE!!!

          1. Screwball

            On this issue, Rand said he wants to take it to the SC. Which is better than what many of the rest have said, that’s for sure.

            But at the same time, what good will that do? So they make another law. It says they can’t do something, or must, or whatever. Then they do it anyway. Then what?

            The rule of law has been lost long ago. That should be plain to see by anyone paying attention. Rand is just grandstanding it seems, because it will accomplish nothing.

            He should know that.

          2. spooz

            I would have voted for Ron Paul if he had managed to get Republican nomination. Of course, the RNC would never have let that happen. I don’t agree with his social policies, but at a time like this you pick your battles and he is one of the few that speaks and votes against the creeping police state. If Rand gets the Republican nomination in 2016, I would probably vote for him after seeing how he stands up against the status quo on NSA overreach.


            For now the only course seems to try, in my own puny way, to engage more people in the dialog. It feels like swimming upstream, but I believe in sparkle ponies and the butterfly effect.

          3. jrs

            I voted Green. I think since the Libertarian party has very little real power (neither does the Green party), people see libertarian ideas as functioning mainly as buttresses to the Republican party, and thus being more of the poison that is already killing us (plutocracy, the corporate state, totalitarian rule for the corporations etc. – only with yet another dose of steroids). This if course is also what the Dems represent even if it they are 1 calorie lighter. But noone really wants to drink more of the poison we’re already drowning in.

            Sure a libertarian paradise with civil liberties may or may not kill us, people love to debate theoreticals that seem to have no chance of coming to pass, but that’s not the role people see libertarian ideas as playing in a system that actually is. People who self-identify as libertarians are some of the best critics of the security state though. Ron Paul would have been far preferably to Obama or Romney, I was tons sympathetic to Ron Paul supporters.

          4. Screwball

            Given the demographics of the 2012 election, less than half the potential voters showed up, and less than 2 percent voted outside the left/right choice (I didn’t look this up, so I’m going off memory – reserve the right to be wrong).

            That doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy on anything changing anytime soon.

            Long Vasoline.

      2. ron

        Now you understand its not the political system that is generating the war on terror but the American public’s desire for increased security or some other psychology need. The War on Terror replaced the war on communism so it seems to be something the public needs or expects. Those of us who marched and worked hard during the Vietnam era to change the public’s attitude toward these activities finally gave up and maybe that is the underlying message in the poll.

  6. voislav

    What’s kind of lost in the whole spying scandal is that a bunch of US companies broke European laws by sharing their non-US customer information with the NSA.

    This data is fair game according to US law (screw the dirty foreigners), but I’m interested to see how Google, Facebook, etc. will justify their actions in European courts who tend to take a dim view of privacy violations, much more so than US courts.

    1. Susan the other

      BoingBoing. Mark Blyth. Austerity Bait and Switch, or BS. No problem on my computer. And thanks Yves. He was fantastic. He talked so fast I’m exhausted. But worth every minute. I’m still wondering how the Fed is getting away with making it look like Germany is the bad guy when Germany can’t do much about the danger to EU banks – that is they will collapse if the vigilantes catch a whiff of inflation. There’s something else going on. Like the battle for western civilization. Too many rich guys clutching their pearls. More please.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        The Blythe talk is beyond outstanding. Rare clarity and lack of obfuscatory jargon. Also an Adam Smith money quote (you probably already know this–I didn’t),

        “Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”
        ― Adam Smith

  7. Ned Ludd

    I listened to NPR for about 10 minutes yesterday afternoon, including a story about Edward Snowden by Jennifer Ludden. The lede referred to him as “The bespectacled man with the wispy goatee”. I then learned that:

    • His parents are divorced.
    • He is a loner. “When you would walk by him and you would say hi, he would never look you in the eyes. Hi, but he’d be looking down.”
    • He “never graduated from high school” and “while he did attend community college, he never graduated from there, either.”
    • “[T]he college dropout joined the Army in 2004.”
    • “[S]omehow his computer programming skills fueled a fast rise in the intelligence world.”

    Ludden said that Snowden thought it was abusive that the CIA “recruited a Swiss banker by getting him arrested for drunk driving.”. She did not mention that “they achieved this by purposely getting the banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car.” If anybody wants to listen to some NPR spin, the audio is here.

    1. from Mexico

      I’m still trying to get my head around the aspersions which Snowden cast upon Bradley Manning.

      It seems to me that Snowden and Manning are operating in two different philosophical traditions. Manning’s thought (what little glimpse we’ve been able to catch of it, since it’s been all but subsumed in a gigantic wave of distortions, half-truths and outright lies spun by the Obama and army propagandists) seems to be more in tune with the radical individualism of Socrates and Thoreau. Snowden, on the other hand, operates more in the civic tradition of Machiavelli, Jefferson, and Lincoln.

      Manning, for instance, according to Adrian Lamo’s testimony to the court, repeatedly spoke of the truth, the truth being that US officials were operating in flagrant violation of both US and moral law, and that he really didn’t care so much about the personal consequences to himself as he did telling the truth. This mindset is very much in the tradition of Socrates, who in choosing death over exile, said he owed to himself, as well as to the citizens he had addressed, to stay and die. “It is the payment of a debt of honor, the payment of a gentleman who has lost a wager and who pays because he cannot otherwise live with himself. There has indeed been a contract, and the notion of a contract pervades the latter half of the Crito, but…the contract which is binding is…the commitment involved in the trial.” (N.A. Greenberg, “Socrates’ Choice in the Crito)

      Socrates, like Manning, lived in a dysfunctional and pathological society well past its glory years, beset by imperialist wars and irrationality, and was convicted by the court for telling inconvenient truths that threatened to upset the social and political order.

      Manning, not only in his statement to Lamo that “he did not believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore,” but also in the manner in which he released documents, also finds philosophical precedent in Thoreau. “This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico,” implored Thoreau, “though it cost them their existence as a people.” (italics added) “Thoreau was consistent enough to recognize and admit that he was open to the charge of irresponsibility, the oldest charge against ‘the good man’. He said explicitly that he was ‘not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society,’ was ‘not the son of the engineer’.” (Hannah Arendt, “Civil Disobedience”)

      Contrast Manning’s statements and actions to those of Snowden. Snowden is obviously far more concerned with his own welfare, having chosen exile rather than to stay and die. He is also far more concerned with “the successful working of society.” Machiavelli captured the spirit when he proclaimed, “I love my native city more than my own soul.” And for Lincoln “the paramount object,” even in the struggle for the emancipation of the slaves, remained, as he wrote in 1862, “to save the Union, and…not either to save or destroy slavery.” (In contrast to Thoreau’s “This people must cease to hold slaves…though it cost them their existence as a people.” ) Likewise, Jefferson wrote “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

      Thus it seems to me that Snowden comes from a somewhat different place than Manning, being more overtly political and less radically individual. As Hannah Arendt explains,

      The fear of being alone and having to face oneself can be a very effective dissuader from wrongdoing, but this fear, by its very nature, is unpersuasive of others. No doubt even this kind of conscientious objection can become politically significant when a number of consciences happen to coincide, and the conscientious objectors decide to enter the market place and make their voices heard in public. But then we are no longer dealing with individuals, or with a phenomenon whose criteria can be derived from Socrates or Thoreau. What had been decided in foro conscientiae has now become part of public opinion, and although this particular group of civil disobedient may still claim the initial validation – their consciences – they actually rely no longer on themselves alone. In the market place, the fate of conscience is not much different from the of the philosopher’s truth: it becomes an opinion, indistinguishable from other opinions. And the strength of opinion does not depend on conscience, but on the number of those with whom it is associated – “unanimous agreement that ‘X’ is an evil…adds credence to the belief that ‘X’ is an evil.”

      –HANNAH ARENDT, “Civil Disobedience”

      1. Ned Ludd

        Compare the victims who motivated Manning:

        At one point, he went to a superior with what he believed to be a mistake. The Iraqi ­Federal Police had rounded up innocent people, he said. Get back to work, he was told.

        Versus the victims who motivated Snowden:

        I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you [Greenwald] or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the President, if I had a personal e-mail.

        A formative incident that disillusioned Snowden was when the CIA entrapped a banker. What about the much more horrible things that the CIA does to much less powerful people?

        Tarzie has written more about Snowden and Manning, to correct the toxic notion, being promoted by both Snowden and Greenwald, that Snowden is more responsible than Manning. On Twitter, Tarzie added: “Apart from the careful consideration he gave to each document set, it bears mentioning that Manning was attacking opacity itself.”

    2. Gmarks

      The former head of NSA was on Fox — discredited Snowdon as a ‘high school drop out”…. same ole same ole

      And said he should be executed.

      We have to stop this mentality in its tracks.

      SO – what are we going to do to rid ourselves of spooks like this creep on Fox?

      nobody ever does a thing… nobody listened to the mother of that boy in Boston.. she insisted the FBI was at her kitchen table…. those kids were objects of another sting…. but we never support the victims of this government.

      From McVeigh to Manning… all victims of the evil of this government.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Yes, yes, yes.

        But this government is the monarch of all it surveys, i.e. the sovereign of all it surveils.

        Its right there is none to dispute…

        We call it ‘Modern Monitor Theory.’

    3. jrs

      “He is a loner. “When you would walk by him and you would say hi, he would never look you in the eyes. Hi, but he’d be looking down.””

      So he never got high school socialization (i.e. brainwashing), thus he’s liable not to follow the crowd. And you know what Greenwald is also an outsider, why I hear he’s even gay, yea really! (that’s sarcasm, of course he’s openly so). So if you produce brilliant critics of your society and they are all outsiders is the problem them or your society? Take your time with that one …. I don’t think it’s self-evident.

      “He “never graduated from high school” and “while he did attend community college, he never graduated from there, either.””

      So? 100 reasons this could be the case, most of them personal (yea there are people with lives so white bread they’d never understand why one couldn’t follow the straight and narrow). But is the charge again failure to conform? So he should have spent his life trying hard to get good grades in tests he doesn’t remember the next day, so as to get a good job. Because another corporate clone is really what the world needs now … Will those corporate clones be remembered in 100 years though?

  8. SubjectivObject

    That David Brook’s column, wow, just freaking wow; there is not a curse/swearword eipitaph strong enough to characterize this guy.

    Maybe: Good luck with his Deity of choice.

    1. JTFaraday

      Oh, I agree. It enrages anew with each paragraph.

      In the end though, I thought that it was particularly revealing of the way that putative “social conservatives” have embedded their conception of The One Right Way to Live into the preservation of an authoritarian political hierarchy.

      In case we had any doubts.

    2. curlydan

      It’s so bad that it’s funny! His drugs must be good because he skips along in lala land all day long!

      “[Snowden] betrayed his…” wait for it “…EMPLOYER” AAA-III-EEEE! Word on the street is that he didn’t like the Boy Scouts either and couldn’t get his Citizenship Badge…hunt that loner down!

    3. jrs

      If that’s the definition of not being atomized and being part of society, I’d rather run off to Galt’s Gulch with a copy of Atlas Shrugged. I’m quite sure the impulse to whistleblow comes from a realization that you are part of society, comes from political and social maturity. You could spend your life maximizing your salary but instead you do what you must and serve the larger purpose.

  9. David Lentini

    Jeremy Kun’s post demonstrates yet again the uncharted depths of the cluelessness of our scientists and engineers. The fact that technical means to enable monitoring with privacy might exist is beside the point. The real point is that we can’t have political freedom in a society governed by people who think the have the right to spy on its citizens.

    Sooner or later, Jeremy, functorials or no, a government that demands access to our privacy will either outlaw such techniques, devise backdoors (yes, I know you say that can’t be done, but when haven’t we heard that one before), or simply assume the guilt of anyone who uses these techniques.

    So while I agree that mathematics can’t outlawed or revoked, that’s not the point. The point is that the use mathematics can be outlawed, and the people who use mathematics jailed, tortured, and murdered, if the government if we let the government get away with it.

    Thus, listening to the siren’s song of “oh, we have a fix for that” only plays into the hands of those who would enslave us. Distracting the public with tales of technological salvation only prevents the real issues from getting addressed.

    1. from Mexico

      A friend of mine made a rather uncanny observation yesterday, and that is that the communication and information technologies (beginning with the printing press) that made democracy possible, have now advanced to the stage where they are destroying democracy.

      1. David Lentini

        The problem is that engineers are concerned with means, not ends. Scientists are concerned with facts and not truths. Too often they assume their work will be used with the same nobility they ascribe to their work. Not bothering to read much history or philosophy or caring about the social sciences, it isn’t surprising they become the handmaidens of tyranny.

        That’s a broad stroke, but in many, many years of working with many different scientists and engineers, I find it a reliable generalization.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Too often they assume their work will be used with the same nobility they ascribe to their work



          If they are ‘scientific’ about the history about how that kind of work turned out, they would stop doing what they are doing now.

          One can not honestly say that, as one was looking into the secrets of an atom, for example, in the early 1900’s, at the beginning of the sub-atomic particles investigation, something powerful and dangerous would not to emerge for the mad men of the world to toy with.

          Not only that, but they KNOW discoveries have always been accidental – these guys are not just not that good. That should give them more reason to pause what they are doing, as they have even less control of what will be discovered and used against mankind and nature. Who knows, the next accidental information maybe something even more monstrous than what we have seen so far.

      2. notyrfrnd

        how hegelian! you only think it’s novel because you worship at the altar arendt.. she wasn’t an idiot, but her ‘innovations’ were trivial… she didn’t overcome any of the ‘western metaphysics’… much like her master heidegger-disavowing that which one apes.. try deleuze, much more artful in his strategy of denial- at least he admitted his program was one of violation

  10. AbyNormal

    from the New Yorker: Useful Phrases for the Surveillance State

    I think the N.S.A. is awesome.

    I just reread “Nineteen Eighty-Four”—it actually has a lot of good ideas in it!

    There’s no such thing as a “bad” drone.

    Sure am glad that I never talk to any foreigners.

    I wouldn’t know the first thing about making ricin.

    The Fourth Amendment is overrated.

    If you ask me, Guantánamo is full of nothing but complainers.

    Just changed my Facebook status from “Single” to “In a Relationship with America.”

    I’m pretty sure my neighbor is cheating on his taxes.

    (my line’ll be…Drudge Report is way more informative than that rag Naked Capitalism.))

    1. Goin' South

      Here’s another plus:

      Now we know where to send our letters asking for gifts at Christmas. Address them to 1600 Pennsylvania.

      “He sees you when you’re sleeping
      He knows when you’re awake
      He knows if you’ve been bad or good
      So be good for goodness sake…

      You better watch out
      You better not cry
      You better not pout
      I’m telling you why
      Obama is coming to town.”

    2. Kurt Sperry

      I’d add “David Brooks is a genius and Jeffrey Toobin is a true credit to the profession of journalism!”

  11. Jim Haygood

    Obamacare burns Ohio:

    On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Insurance announced that, based on the rates submitted by insurers to date, the average individual-market health insurance premium in 2014 will come in around $420, “representing an increase of 88 percent” relative to 2013.

    “We have warned of these increases,” said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in a statement. “Consumers will have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014.”

    Some people have the impression that the main reason that rates are going up under Obamacare is because of the law’s requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions. But that accounts for only a fraction — around a quarter — of the rate hike.

    The rest comes from all the other things that Obamacare does, such as forcing people to buy richer insurance benefits; to buy products with all sorts of add-ons they might not need; to pay Obamacare’s premium tax; and to pay a lot more, if they’re young, to subsidize older individuals.

    Just wait till October 1st, when all 50 states are supposed to have health coverage exchanges online. Bet we’ll get some triple-digit contenders, in this race to the top of the cost charts.

    1. jrs

      But California’s proposed rates now are resonable. If it was really some market factor that was driving rates up, then how do explain that, sheer size of the state? I suspect the red states are not even making a sincere attempt to really implement Obamacar, which yes is also a failure of Obamacare of sorts I suppose.

  12. Bill

    “But, phew, financial bloggers aren’t persons of interest…yet….”

    Naive Yves ! Wonder why you have continual problems with the site ? with your phone ? Laptop ?

    Have multiple difficulties with travel ? Don’t sleep well because of noise that didn’t used to be there or bother you ?

    Do you have strange painless muscle spasms that wake you at night ? More traffic noise than your apartment used to get ?

    Multiple plumbing/electrical problems that necessitate strangers coming into you apartment ?

    The Stasi State has you in its teeth, and is shaking you.

    I know lots of people will say this is just paranoid thinking, but all these effects are well within current tech abilities.

    Money does the rest, paying off landlords, neighbors, acquaintances, airport and service personnel…..etc.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, I’m not a threat to the government, unlike Greenwald, who has good reason to be worried. And when you cross the banks, they make overt threats (I know people who’ve been on the receiving end). They’ve not said a peep to me. I am pretty sure Taibbi has not gotten a rise either. We are annoyances, like flies buzzing in a room, not a threat.

      Blogs aren’t taken seriously. Remember, Snowden was talking to WaPo as well as Greenwald. And Greenwald even at Salon was at a media outlet, not a stand-alone blog, which gave him independent validation. And as we know, the Guardian is a major publication.

      A standalone blog, by contrast, is seen as tantamount to handing out pamphlets in the park. You are a crank with limited reach.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think you’re a crank-butterfly or a butterfly crank.

        But don’t under-estimate the crank-butterfly/butterfly-crank effect.

      2. Chris Engel

        Nobody is safe from going after the banks, not even respected public officials like Eliot Spitzer.

        No matter what version the government tells the public of how Spitzer was taken down, everyone knows that he was being watched because he was a hawk and they found dirt and went after him under the guise of “we’re worried he was a victim of bribery!” (oh yea, really? over $5,000 in cash? please…)

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’m not even remotely in Spitzer’s league.

          Spitzer threatened criminal indictments. That would lead to the pretty immediate closure or at least rapid shrinkage of a major financial firm. The toughest, most litigious SOB in finance, Hank Greenberg, was forced to leave when Spitzer leveled that threat .

    2. charles sereno

      Yves is protected simply because it would become a greater pain for the PTB to harass her (with subsequent uproar from us all) than let her continue her messaging.

  13. rich

    Digital Blackwater rules

    By now, everything swirling around the US National Security Agency (NSA) points to a black box in a black hole. The black box is the NSA headquarters itself in Fort Meade, Maryland. The black hole is an area that would include the suburbs of Virginia’s Fairfax County near the CIA but mostly the intersection of the Baltimore Parkway and Maryland Route 32.

    There one finds a business park a mile away from the NSA which Michael Hayden, a former NSA director (1999-2005) told Salon’s Tim Shorrock is “the largest concentration of cyber power on the planet”. [1] Hayden coined it “Digital Blackwater”.

    Here is a decent round up of key questions still not answered about the black hole. But when it comes to how a 29-year old IT wizard with little formal education has been able to access a batch of ultra-sensitive secrets of the US intelligence-national security complex, that’s a no-brainer; it’s all about the gung-ho privatization of spying – referred to by a mountain of euphemisms of the “contractor reliance” kind. In fact the bulk of the hardware and software used by the dizzying network of 16 US intelligence agencies is privatized.

    A Washington Post investigation found out that US homeland security, counter-terror and spy agencies do business with over 1,900 companies.

    “Revolving door” does not even begin to explain the system.

    Snowden was one of 25,000 employees of Booz Allen Hamilton (“We are visionaries”) for the past three months. [3] Over 70% of these employees, according to the company, have a government security clearance; 49% are top secret (as in Snowden’s case), or higher. The former director of national intelligence Mike McConnell is now a Booz Allen vice president. The new director of national intelligence, the sinister-looking retired general James Clapper, is a former Booz Allen executive.
    Since 1996, before the British handover to China, an extradition treaty applies between the tiger and the wolf. [4] The US Department of Justice is already surveying its options. It’s important to remember that the Hong Kong judicial system is independent from China’s – according to the Deng Xiaoping-conceptualized “one country, two systems”. As much as Washington may go for extraditing Snowden, he may also apply for political asylum. In both cases he may stay in Hong Kong for months, in fact years.

    The Hong Kong government cannot extradite anyone claiming he will be persecuted in his country of origin. And crucially, article 6 of the treaty stipulates, “a fugitive offender shall not be surrendered if the offence of which that person is accused or was convicted is an offence of a political character.” Another clause stipulates that a fugitive shall not be surrendered if that implicates “the defense, foreign affairs or essential public interest or policy” of – guess who – the People’s Republic of China.

    So then we may have a case of Hong Kong and Beijing having to reach an agreement. Yet even if they decided to extradite Snowden, he could argue in court this was “an offence of a political character”. The bottom line – this could drag on for years.

    Foucault’s deconstruction of the Panopticon’s architecture is now a classic (see it here in an excerpt of his 1975 masterpiece Discipline and Punish). The Panopticon was the ultimate surveillance system, designed by utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. The Panopticon – a tower surrounded by cells, a pre-Orwellian example of “architecture of oppression” – was not originally conceived for the surveillance of a prison, but of a factory crammed with landless peasants on forced labor.

    Oh, but those were rudimentary proto-capitalist days. Welcome to the (savagely privatized) future, where the NSA black hole, “Digital Blackwater”, lords over all as the ultimate Panopticon.

  14. Skeptic

    Not going to rehash my suspicions about Snowden’s background from yesterday even though I strongly disagree with Yves’ assessment that I’m just hand-waving but the orgasmic reaction of all of the pundits and the media – especially of the traitorous aholes on the “left” – is another issue altogether.

    Snowden’s revelations really have not told us anything that any informed person hasn’t known about for years.

    From Echelon in the late 90s to Weinberger’s TIA to the tapping under Bush, Obama etc, many people have figured that the government and its minions have been scooping up data on us for years and nothing I’ve seen revealed via Snowden has even faintly surprised me.

    What is jarring – again, besides his background – is the hyperbolic reaction in the media.

    People not in the media have been saying all of this stuff for YEARS to our representatives and media lapdogs but no one gave a cold shite about any of it especially compared with today’s unmitigated media blitz concerning Snowden. For example, check on Common Dreams today. There we have Dem apologist Scheer telling us Snowden wasn’t for sale. There’s another article called “the Passion of Edward Snowden”. Elsberg out there saying that this is more significant than the Pentagon Papers.


    We’re supposed to believe that prior to Mr. Snowden NO ONE in the media establishment – especially of the left’s lionized media figures – took any of the last two decades of encroaching fascism seriously?

    No one heeded the calls of aware and concerned citizens as to the invasiveness of the corporate state.

    Only now it’s prompting some of the left’s media darlings to – quite frankly – behave like teenage fanboys?

    Hey, guys, maybe you should have done a little work concerning that little event called 9/11?

    Remember that thing that happened where you took the government’s version of events hook, line and sinker and still do to this day – Scheer, Greenwald, Chomsky, all of you biggies – and still insist on perpetrating a story that – gee, how ironic – runs contrary to the facts presented by many of the same aware and concerned citizens who’ve also been telling you that the government’s been spying on us for decades.

    If you guys love to gush over how Snowden and journalists like Greenwald have “SAVED DEMOCRACY(trademark)” then isn’t it about time you REALLY did your f*cking jobs and investigate the seminal event that led to the beginning of the end of American democracy?

    Nah, didn’t think so, phonies.

    Just keep on patting each other on the ass for a job well done.

    1. from Mexico

      Your failure to distinguish between your own speculations and opinions, as opposed to the vividness inherent in palpable and objective evidence such as that provided by Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, is the hallmark of someone who values his own opinions so much that he cannot tell the difference between them and reality.

      1. Skeptic


        From a man who incessantly spams everyone with multi-paragraph Arendt and Niebuhr posts no matter what the topic.

        No, really, thanks for the admonition.

        Now, Arendt in her classic volume would probably say…


        1. from Mexico

          The difference between the true believer and folks like Arendt and Niebuhr is that the latter attempt to temper uncontrollable flights into purely speculative thought, fueled by pathological egotism, with at least some modicum of empiricism and common sense.

    2. Jackrabbit

      People not in the media have been saying all of this stuff for YEARS . . . but no one gave a cold shite about any of it.

      You haven’t thought this through, or simply fail to appreciate that:

      a) the extent of the security state was unproven before Snowden;

      b) Snowden has not just provided documents but stood behind them with his testimony; and

      c) Snowden is articulate, telegenic, and BELIEVABLE (as Yves pointed out yesterday)

      The suspicions that you raise are implausible. By coming forward he has put clearly himself at risk. And *IF* he has some kind of agenda, how does that detract from his shedding much needed light on a security state that is taking us (potentially) to a very dark place?

      It also seems rather inconsistent to raise suspicions about Snowden while pointing out that media and political representatives would not previously listen.

      1. curlydan

        You got it, Jackrabbit. Snowden made the abstract knowledge most of suspected was going on tangible through that paragon of tangible communication, PowerPoint.

        No one can deny it or talk around it when it’s there is 28 pnt font, bullet points, and NSA logos.

        That’s progress, Skeptic. Snowden unfortunately is likley to pay for that progress for some time.

        1. JiyoungAlligator

          Agree with a), b). Don’t know about c) concerning 20 – 30 year olds (Non-obamabots, cynical, have a basic understanding of civil liberties but not concerned about it to the extent of the NC commentariat.),I know of. I usually agree with Yves,
          but I disagree the video was good PR for certain age groups.

          The comments I heard about the Snowden video yesterday.

          “I mean I appreciate and respect what he did, but he
          reminds me of a douchey tech guy working in Silicon Valley”

          “If he doesn’t want to be considered a hero, and doesn’t want attention on him, and wants people to focus on NSA’s surveillance, why did he release that video? He must’ve known the networks would broadcast it all day.”

          “It’s not that I didn’t know or haven’t thought about things becoming more like 1984. It’s nice to have those documents, but the guy reminds me of a guy at the Apple store preaching about ‘Emerging Video Technologies’.”

    3. Skeptic

      Right, it’s all just either my whataboutery, my opinion or my failure to understand just how magnificent this all is and has nothing to do with what my perceptions of 1) Snowden’s sketchy background – btw, you’re gonna just LOVE his adorable pole-dancing girlfriend interview and 2) that our esteemed journalists have for years basically presented a united front against naysayers of officialdom for over a decade on topics including the extent of government intrusion and other major events such as 9/11 but now all of a suddeen they are jumping over each other to get at the front of the Snowden/”democracy is saved” parade.

      If said journalists hadn’t presented such a united front in support of officialdom in regards to 9/11 and other topics, why, who knows what kind of whistle-blowers and leakers may have come out, right?

      Guess, we’ll never know because now we have the government on the run, right?

      Just like we had them when they admitted they could kill US citizens without trial, right?

      Greenwald flew all the way to Hong Kong to get this scoop but neither he nor any of his cohorts would so much as grant a phone interview or a single line of print to the thousands of people who have gone on record stating that 9/11 was a false flag.

      Guess, it’s b/c Edward is just so believable, right?

      Like security guard to undercover CIA security analyst in less than a year believable?

      I guess, I’m just crazy to be skeptical of a media whose most “esteemed” members have over the last decade stymied, denied, frustrated, ridiculed and lambasted well-meaning citizens of this country who have been trying to bring critical topics to their attention for years.

      Yup, all is forgiven and we can all rest easy now that democracy has been saved and our crack team of “leftish” journos is on the case.

    4. optimader

      I don’t know what your “background” suspicions were, but clearly anyone that read Bamford’s: The Puzzle Palace in the early 1980’s should have a decent grasp of the NSA, and be able to reasonably speculate about how a gov. agency staffed with well intentioned technocrats with no upperlimit budget, operating at the threshold of digital communication technology, with presumably little credible (competent) civilian oversight—will end up deep into the constitutional weeds when directed by those that have an evolving legally parsed Political agendas with seemingly no meaningful sanction.
      (File under: unconstitutional signing statements.)

      I submit, as an informed person I could certainly speculate about the capacity of said agencies hypothetical capacity spy on citizens. Speculation is not confirmation.

      Working your assumption that “Snowden’s revelations really have not told us anything”. QED there should be no sanction against him and much of the discussion should be focused on why the released information is Classified?
      You seem to invoke 9-11 as the seminal event with regard to domestic spying. The NSA, as you are aware, has been engaged long before that event. It would seem from an efficacy metric, relative to it’s stated mission, the NSA has some serious cost/benefit issues.
      Does this suggest it serves a larger unstated mission?

      Why do you consider the inevitably ideologically charged “media response jarring”? As an informed person, what exactly would you expect? You still assume the “left –right” paradigm in media is meaningful distinction? Hasn’t that distinction (mostly) degenerated to low attention span diversion, Circuses? When the rubber meets the road the ideological cleave is (mostly) all about corporatism and access.

      I will admit to not spending time reading the punditry you mention, but I am going to guess you can interchange much content with “traitorous aholes” on the “right”.

      Traitorous, one of those mercurial words best applied in reflection after the dust has settled.
      Is this a case , is the highest objective of a “secret” classification intended to hide this activity from the Citizens or “evil targets”? Consider if the NSA activity was transparent. Would those of evil intent really behave differently? I don’t think so.

      1. Skeptic

        There could be many reasons for stringing up Snowden and the media hype beyond the criticality level of the leak info.

        Engender “whistleblower” fatigue by going all out on a non-story and thus dampen any enthusiasm/interest in a later whistleblower who dumps REALLY damaging material.

        Make an example of a “patriot” and engender despair among other would be “patriots” a la Manning.

        Make it seem to the US/world citizens that a really shoddy/cumbersome/unfinished surveillance system is already fully operational and ubiquitous.

        Engender false hopes among the activists i.e., that they really do still have a fighting chance in this fascist state if they just keep believing what the leftish journos tell them.

        I don’t know.

        There could be many more reasons including the infighting of factions of the TPTB.

        I only have conjecture but when I see media blowout – the kind of blowout meant to reach an entire nation’s populace – I start to get suspicious.

        BTW, and this is complete conjecture, but wouldn’t it be interesting if instead of offering someone a payoff for work they did AFTER they did it – a la Clintons, Obama – instead, they promise a young patsy the life of Reilly for a decade or so – huge salary, exotic digs, security clearances, etc for work called upon at some point in the future?

        Instead of going to Iraq or Afghanistan, you’re mission, Agent Snowden – equally life-threatening, mind you – is a bit different.

        Hey, it’s free to conjecture and since I appear to be the only person on this board who’s not singing the same song, what does it hurt if my differences of opinion/thoughts stand out?

        Lastly, I don’t harbor an inkling of any left right divide other than the fact that decades ago TPTB decided that the “Left” was going to be their vehicle for increased Empire other than the “Right” Too bad no one told the leftish proles, huh?

        And that is one of my points.

        People – but especially “leftist” gatekeepers – are really excited about all of this as it helps to perpetuate the myth that these gatekeepers are anything but.

        Scheer, Hedges, the whole lot who’ve been keeping a unified front in regards to 9/11 and other events for over a decade now once again can start singing their songs of protest and reliving the heady times of 60s activism once again.

        Forget about all that stuff we’ve been ridiculing for years, now we’re all back on track kids!

        The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!

    5. optimader

      I am curious skeptic,

      1. What did Manning release that was damaging to US national security?

      2. Do you consider Manning a “traitor”, a “patriot” or just a guy with fidelity to his morality that shouldn’t have been filtered out of the military?

      3. Re: “..later whistleblower who dumps REALLY damaging material.” What in the wide world of sports is more damaging in the context of a whistle blower not a “traitor” (your context)than releasing confirmation that “the Government” is capturing every piece of “the citizens” electronic communication?

      4. do you feel too much government activity is “classified”? can you suggest a credible method to reveal that which should not be classified that does not require some one falling on a sword.

      5. Form what I’ve read and seen of Snowden, here was an apparently quite high functioning guy w/ a GED on the government breakfast-lunch -dinner circuit earning ~US$200k/ year living in Hawaii. I suggest anyone who would speculate that Mr. Snowden did what he did for a retroactive quid pro quo is pretty much an idiot. He traded being financially made over the course of a career to being likely a deadman walking.

      Like him or not, denigrate or respect his motivations if you care, do you have those size brass balls in your chosen course of life? I’m guessing not.

      Education side bar on Mr. Snowden: Case in point on formal education vs self actualization. If the fact that he professionally advanced with merely a GED, constitutes issue with “security conscious concerned” citizens, the spincycle has a broken gear. Who would be more likely to fall on the sword to preserve a corporate position than someone with a missing formal education on the CV? In my mind, a perfect basis for recruitment. Who hasn’t seen the effective employee locked in a organization for life due to missing “educational” status on the CV?

      1. Skeptic

        Obviously, you’re clearly all-in on Team Edward already – you’re right, I bet his balls are just AWESOME!! – so I won’t diminish any of your thoughts of Edward’s balls by comparing them to mine – hint: my balls are just not worthy, Team Jacob, doncha know?

        But I will address some of your other “points”:

        First, I use the term traitor when I refer to the leftish journos b/c they have been at the vanguard in squashing any sort of discussion about many of the aspects of the 9/11/WOT for more than decade.

        They have done this deliberately, unitedly and prominently for years on end.

        Those who are playacting the role of journos and inhabit carefully enacted roles in the government/media propaganda structure are traitors just as much as the those who commit more bloody/overt war crimes.

        Manning’s info was also stale and I believe he was a patsy – a perfect creation in that he is both a “patriot” (“left”) and a “traitor”(“right”), a distraction which keeps the media cycle – but especially that of the leftish variety – spinning all the while reminding people what happens to those who are “patriots/traitors”.

        Besides his glorious balls, you think you’re able to judge Snowden’s character/intelligence from what you’ve seen and heard of him?


        Wow – pushes button – that was easy!

        And one last thing, maybe I and many thousands of Americans don’t need to have access to brass balls because – hey, here’s a thought for you – WE WOULDN’T JOIN THE US MILITARY, CIA, NSA OR ANY OTHER F*CKING EMBODIMENT OF AMERICAN FASCISM AND WAR CRIMINALITY IN THE FIRST PLACE, MORON!!!!

        Yeah, Snowden’s sooooo smart, it just took him a decade of working for war criminals before he started thinking that something – gee, shucks – just wasn’t right, huh?

        Yup, this guy’s a f*cking Einstein.

        Yup, I guess I should just set my trust to “Automatic” when I see a 15-minute interview of a person I’ve never seen before but whose history is with agencies that deal in deceit, deception and war-crimes, right?


        Here’s a link to a person who raised some similar points.

        Not saying I believe in everything this guy says but at least he’s asking some journalistic questions.

        Y’know the kind of questions journalists ask?

        1. optimader

          1.) Re: “’re clearly all-in on Team Edward already…When “Obviously” is followed by an unsubstantiated- irrelevant rhetorical flourish, the only thing “Obvious” is the writer fails at 0100level debate. Actually I think the hero/villain conjecture is unproductive, I’m on Team Constitution, how about you?
          2.) “Re: But I will address some of your other “points”” Actually you didn’t address any of my “points”, but then again no answer is an answer.
          3.) Ah, yeah … 9/11! “Family Guy – Undecided Voters” Skeptic, you Sir, could be mayor of Qauhog.
          4.) RE:“Manning’s info was also stale and I believe he was a patsy”… I know you don’t care to substantiate claims, but.. but in what context was stale? Stale as in shouldn’t have been Classified? So, you at least narrowed it down to Manning was neither a “traitor” or a “patriot”, he was a patsy! Hmmm.. A patsy for whom?
          5.) Actually I don’t believe I made a claim about Mr. Snowden’s character. What I did claim was that one would have to be an idiot to suppose his motivation was personal enrichment because it is, well… Prima facie an idiotic claim.
          I do retract my statement about Mr. Snowden having bigger balls that you do tho, “obviously” I didn’t realize you knew how to type in caps.

          The balance of your rhetorical ramble, yes all very.. “obvious”..

          My eyes glazed over w/ that link, did it contain a kernel of challenge regarding the content provided by Mr. Snowden or was it all just ad hominem?

    6. jrs

      “What is jarring – again, besides his background – is the hyperbolic reaction in the media.”

      No, that’s NOT what is jarring to me. I mean the media is corrupt, it makes mountains out of molehills and molehills out of mountains. That’s neither new nor jarring. What is jarring to me IS THE HYBERBOLIC REACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT.

      Maybe that’s the real story, and it is scary as heck.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What we use with the information given is important.

        Maybe this will get people to focus (again, I suppose, as this is not new, or should not be new) on their relationships with their phone companies, search engines and social-political-self-surveillance-self-confessional media.

  15. optimader

    I don’t know if anyone has fleshed an unintended consequence speculation about the potential backlash this is for domestic US software/service providers that allege secure products that are demonstrably not?

    It seems to me this is an opportunity for user-friendly security products for any upload/download traffic from connected devices.

  16. Elliot

    @ “Skeptic” (concern troll), above:

    Nobody here is falling for your whatabouttery, or your dismissal of breaching of the First and Fourth ammendments with “it’s not new”. Now it is out in the open, and that IS new. Seeing Dem Senators and the President scurry to claim it’s nothing to worry our pretty little heads about shows that in fact *they* are worried.

    I’d argue with you on the merits, such as they are, of the rest of what you post, but you post in bad faith.

    1. Skeptic

      Oh, I’m sure they’re just soooooo worried, huh?

      Just like how they were really, really worried and concerned about protecting us from the scary, scary terrorists more than ten years ago and passed all the legislation that got us to this point.


      Seriously, you personally believe that you can look at an elected official in the US of A and – by judging their actions and words – think to determine what they REALLY feel/think about a situation?


      I’m not a troll but I am really concerned for you.

      1. optimader

        “by judging their actions and words – think to determine what they REALLY feel/think about a situation?”

        strike “and words”–as irrelevant, and the answer is absolutely.

      2. jrs

        “Just like how they were really, really worried and concerned about protecting us from the scary, scary terrorists more than ten years ago and passed all the legislation that got us to this point.”

        Well you don’t know the orginal posters position on this, but really do you EVEN KNOW the OP was of voting age then? I don’t. Maybe they are 60 years old, maybe they are 27 years old. But yes everyone was of full political maturity a full decade ago. Unbelievable …

  17. mpinca

    @ “Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-terror Tactic”

    The status quo-backing media has been eager to tout this poll (NPR had it as the lead headline yesterday), but I believe the conclusions being drawn from it — that Americans would willingly choose the promise of security over privacy — are at least premature.

    First, the Pew report on the poll does not give the actual questions asked of the respondents. Polls are notorious (at least to me) for asking questions in skewed ways, limiting choices, leaving out critical or nuanced information that would color the response. I have personally refused to answer two separate polls for this reason – no nuanced choice that would reflect my actual stance. One of the substantive points Snowden made in the interview was that Americans not only need to be aware of this vast data collection, but moreover must understand its implications, some of which he spells out in chillingly vivid detail, in order to decide if they endorse this system.

    Q: Why should people care about surveillance?
    A: Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded , and the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude, to where it’s getting to the point you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody – even by a wrong (phone) call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrong doer.

    Would the poll participants have answered differently if Snowden’s full rationale had been read to them? He suggested that he hoped to engender a real debate among the public, so that we could make an informed choice about allowing this surveillance state to be built out. That debate has barely begun, but I think 41% opposing is a good starting point. It’s certainly higher than the 29% who were opposed to invading Iraq or the <30% who presently oppose bombing Iran.

    1. petridish

      You are making a tremendously important point. The plethora of polls cited in the news lately seem, “remarkably,” to demonstrate popular approval of whatever policy (or president) is being rated no matter how outrageous or offensive.

      We are never told what questions were asked, let alone the size and characterization of the sample. The fact that specific methodologies and assumptions impact mightily the validity of these polls is never even discussed, and is probably completely unknown to the targets of their influence.

      Names like Pew or Gallup or Politico are just assumed to confer legitimacy and their polls to be an accurate reflection of the mood of the country. These polls automatically cast dissenters out of the mainstream and squarely onto the nervous, confused fringe.

      I no longer regard this “polling” as anything more than overt, craven propaganda.

      1. optimader

        “Names like Pew or Gallup or Politico are just assumed to confer legitimacy and their polls to be an accurate reflection of the mood of the country. These polls automatically cast dissenters out of the mainstream and squarely onto the nervous, confused fringe.”

        I think you have that right petri. Underlying it is Human nature to be on or associated w/ the “winning team”. I feel herding people into a manufactured consensus is often the unstated objective of Polls.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sometimes herd mentality is good…like when they poll a president with a 20% approval rating.

        2. petridish

          Absolutely right, Opti. It’s herding pure and simple.

          I don’t have a link, but after the 2012 presidential election, the methodology of the Gallup organization was questioned since it had reached such inaccurate conclusions regarding the outcome.

          In the true spirit of tempest in a teapot, Gallup did not miss a beat and is back at it. Plain, unadulterated, propagandist garbage.

          In my estimation, desperation is setting in.

        3. skippy

          PEw report… 1400 sample, the voice of American indeed…

          Skippy… kinda like the French horror movie “The Martyrs”.

          PS. People can be conditioned – just by asking – questions… eh.

      2. jrs

        If everything else is corrupt, why not the polls too (well not the voting ones, those those are probably also corrupt as well …)

    2. JTFaraday

      We need leaks that are not just about the fact of the existence of these “security” programs, but the fact of abuses of these programs.

      And we know there are. It’s probably as bad as Wall Street, and this is why Wall Street thinks it can do what it does.

      I also think that we need to step back and systematically question the ostensible rationalization of these programs as being in the service of “national security.”

      Not just the question of their effectiveness, but their purpose itself.

  18. Eureka Springs

    “Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America Daniel Ellsberg, Guardian”

    Kiss my a**, Daniel. Unless, of course you want to use an opportunity/headline at the likes of the Guardian apologizing to all Americans for endorsing Obama’s Stasi in chief reelection ten months ago.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I apologize for not always knowing who is endorsing whom, but if he did it both times, it’s shame on us for being fooled twice.

  19. RanDomino

    Add to the “Star Chamber Watch” Gerry Koch, a New York City anarchist who was sent to jail for up to a year and a half last week for refusing to testify before a grand jury about a rumor he might have overheard secondhand at a bar about someone who may have been involved in the 2008 window-damaging glorified-firecracker at a NYC army recruitment center. That’s not exaggeration.

  20. Jim Haygood

    ‘Action’ on the legislative front:

    Eight senators will introduce a bill on Tuesday that would force the government to reveal how it interprets the laws underpinning the massive surveillance programs.

    The bill by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) would force the government to disclose the opinions of a secretive surveillance court that determines the scope of the eavesdropping on Americans’ phone records and internet communications.

    The bill has the support of senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).

    Specifically, the bill would compel the first public airing of the so-called Fisa court’s understandings of section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the government has cited as the basis for collecting the phone records of millions of Americans; and section 702 of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, which the government has cited as the basis for the NSA internet monitoring program known as Prism.

    Assuming that this bill passes, and assuming that the court doesn’t simply stonewall the Congress (as Holder regularly does), what would it achieve?

    Two things: (1) Tell us what we already know — that the FISC rationalized blanket surveillance using the Patriot and FISA Acts as a fig leaf; and (2) Buy precious time for the Stasi to keep right on doing what they’re doing.

    At this late date, only heads rolling via resignation, firing or impeachment has any meaning. All else is just the feckless barking of spayed chihuahuas, as the security caravan rolls on.

    1. jrs

      Yea, that’s my feeling now too. Spread the word: impeachment. Say it out loud IMPEACH OBAMA! Be Un-PC, I think he’s supposed to be unimpeachable because it’s too racially threatening. Yes and I DON’T CARE, my problem with Obama is not his race. In fact it’s probably why the shadow state is using him, but who knows. We impeached Nixon for less. Impeach Obama.

      But impeachment empowers even crazier crazies in the GOP? Yea probably and whatever, that’s not good, but I don’t care right now. Because we have NO FUTURE under the status quo anyway. We have no future with GOP crazies? Of course we don’t, but there will be no future to even fight that battle pretty soon. Impeach Obama.

  21. Jackrabbit

    It would seem valuable to provide a clear explanation of why historical metadata and content repositories are unconstitutional.

    I’m sure that others can do a better job of this, but I thought I’d give it a try.

    A full explanation would answer such questions as:

    – Does the Constitution allow for such pervasive collection of data by the Government?

    – What does Human Rights law and treaties say/imply about such pervasive data collection?

    – What are the spiritual/religious issues?

    – What are the potential benefits vs. potential costs?

    – What information should be off-limits?

    – Can information access realistically be controlled? Google, for example, never deletes anything. Should they be forced to? How can that be policed?

    And many more questions…


    The Fourth Amendment reads:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    …persons, houses, papers, and effects…
    This seems to be as broad a language as could be imagined in the late 1700’s.

    …unreasonable searches and seizures…
    Isn’t spending tens of billions of dollars to collect and store every possible piece of data about a person UNREASONABLE?

    Question: What rights, if any, to any information that is stored or transmitted electronically should be retained? how should those rights be safe-guarded?

    …right…to be secure . . . particularly describing the place to be searched…
    Seems (to me) to imply that it is a ‘place’ that is not controlled by the government:
    – it is something that a person has ‘secured’ [not the government]; and
    – a warrant must “particularly describe the place to be searched” as though it is a place that is unfamiliar to them

    Question: what should we make of the government’s stance that any attempt to exercise one’s “…right to be secure…” by encrypting communications or using anonymous networks like TOR automatically makes you a suspect?


    The religious/spiritual aspects of pervasive behavioral data and the potential for pervasive behavioral conditioning are very intriguing.

    American Indians believed that a mere photograph captured their soul. Will religious organizations understand and protest the potential use of such data to change us from ‘Children of God’ to ‘Products of the State’?

    1. Jackrabbit

      I realized I tried to do too much with this comment.

      There are many dimensions to why such pervasive surveillance is bad/wrong/dangerous.

      Maybe the NC staff could make an e-book/pamphlet that explains these reasons in some detail?


  22. F. Beard

    re Compound Interest: Friend Or Foe? Illargi:

    I challenge anyone to show me where the use of common stock as private money has any NECESSARY debt at all, much less usury.

    Even some debt-free fiat can accumulate in an economy IF (ignoring central banks since they are neither necessary nor good and should be abolished) the monetary sovereign NEVER borrows, NEVER runs a budget surplus and SOMETIMES runs a budget deficit. In that case, non-extinguishable fiat accumulates in the economy to the sum of those budget deficits. And if the fiat can’t be extinguished then how can it be debt? Instead, is it not a form of national nominal equity?

    1. Calgacus

      Fiat money is debt, just like bank debt. There is no, never was, never will be, never can be any such thing as debt-free fiat.

      Whether or not the total debt that the government owes the private sector ever diminishes is completely besides the point, and has nothing to do with it being debt or not. It is just like a credit card. Whether the amount owed goes up or down does not change either a credit card bill or a National Debt’s status as a debt. What counts is making the payments. If you do, if you have a good job as an oligarch, your credit card limit and amount outstanding might go up forever. Just like the conditions you incorrectly contend proves a National Debt is not a debt.

      Governments are spectacularly good at making their payments, redeeming their debt, which happens when they levy taxes, impose fees or sell things to the public, which are all essentially the same thing. So good that people like to be creditors of the government = save government fiat money. The difference between fiat money and fiat interest bearing bonds is trivial and should be ignored at first, when one is trying to get a vague idea of WTF is going on.

      Again, try asking those questions about a credit card bill:

      And if the fiat can’t be extinguished then how can it be debt? It is not true that fiat can’t be or isn’t extinguished. It constantly is being extinguished. So often, so reliably that the people (who are like the bank to whom a credit card holder is indebted) like having the SUM of the fiat they hold not being “extinguished”, just as the bank likes having the oligarch owe it increasing amounts.

      Instead, is it not a form of national nominal equity? No, fiat money, fiat bonds being/becoming “national nominal equity” is what the Bad Guys WANT.

      Citizenship, the right to vote, popular, democratic sovereignty is “national nominal equity” – something of far more value than a piddling National Debt owed to some kleptocrats whose ultimate greedy dream is to convert their debt into sovereignty.

      1. F. Beard

        It is not true that fiat can’t be or isn’t extinguished. It constantly is being extinguished. calgacus

        I said “Even some debt-free fiat can accumulate in an economy…” Not all, SOME.

        Moreover, fiat can have value without even the possibility of it being extinguished as Saddam Hussein’s dinars did for quite a while after he was deposed.

        Citizenship, the right to vote, popular, democratic sovereignty is “national nominal equity” – calgacus

        Note the similarity to common stock? Owning common stock is literally the right to vote in a common stock company. And there is literally no need at all for debt in a common stock company since the owners are listed under Equity and the assets can be owned free and clear (no Liabilities). So instead of money-as-debt, we could use money-as-equity instead.

        But common stock is only democratic per share. OTOH, there is a moral case to be made for the equal redistribution of the common stock of large corporations – given that large holdings were most likely unjustly acquired by, for example, use of the government-backed counterfeiting cartel, the banking system.

      2. F. Beard

        something of far more value than a piddling National Debt owed to some kleptocrats whose ultimate greedy dream is to convert their debt into sovereignty. Calgacus

        It’s not piddling. Rather, contrary to Hamilton, it’s an unethical national curse since, among other evils, it gives a privileged class economic incentive to promote deflation since deflation increases the real yield of sovereign debt without increasing the default risk since there can be none.

        1. Calgacus

          Note the similarity to common stock?

          That was my point. Having sovereign fiat money be “money as equity” is a horrible, dystopian prospect. It is the ultimate aim of a predator bankster oligarchy. It is something to fight to the death against. A nightmare, not a pleasant daydream.

          No debt-free fiat can accumulate, because no debt-free fiat has ever existed. The National Debt, correctly computed, includes all the fiat money outstanding. The difference between a dollar bill and a treasury bond paying interest is microscopic, nearly meaningless. Thinking there is one is insane raving, which is why practically everybody nowadays thinks there is one. But FDR, being a rich but not really a mean bastard, knew different, and said so. Any argument making out, say 2% bonds to be a monstrous curse works equally well against dollar bills. Which makes sense, because they are one and the same thing. Evil bonds and good “debt-free fiat” are one and the same thing.

          Yes, natural and sensible conservatism and convenience has led defunct currencies to maintain their position for some time, faute de mieux, but they always eventually vanish. That is because they are being temporarily used as money-things to represent the real money, which is the credit/debt relation between economic agents. The fiat money merely continues to be used as a debt, a note held against the community as a whole. (Paraphrasing Simmel, I think.)

          Stock is a liability. Everyone would like to default on their liabilities, and thinking of money as stock sounds like a good way. But stock has both a down and an up potential. Whereas a well run “fiat” money (all money is “fiat” money) should have more or less neither. You should be able to use it to get a basic, decent standard of living, and you should be able to obtain such amounts by a full employment, JG economy. Every economy has had a JG more or less. To the extent it truly has, it has had full employment and undergirded a growing, successful society.

          The thing is, debt, money becomes more equity-like in two opposed situations: (hyper)inflations and debt-deflation. Parallel to stocks dropping and gaining in price.

          MyLessThanPrimeBeef puts it very succinctly:

          Who has common stock?
          Who has no common stock?

          Common stock has never been used anywhere as a form of money, because by its nature it cannot be so used. The only place it is used sort-of as money is in transactions between predator bankster oligarch dumbshits doing corporate buyouts and the like. Sure, maybe in the year 3000 when everything is just a game among masters of robot armies, it could be money. That’s the time to do heavy duty theorizing about it. Not now.

          But now money is what you need to pay the rent, to buy food etc. To live. And its moneyness is in direct opposition to its common-stockness. People want money to not lose its value overnight. Thinking people want it to not skyrocket in value overnight either, because that either means we have a technological revolution dwarfing any that has ever occurred or is ever likely to occur, or we are in a deep, deep depression. A government defaulting on its debt is a bad thing. Inflation is a bad thing, because it can amount to a tax, a default, just as the Austrians say.

          But Americans are so confused that they cannot even remember the biggest, and highly instructive, such default in living memory. It wasn’t the 70s inflation. And it was a default against the small saver, the kind that Austrians pretend to defend, but not really, because they have completely forgotten it too, as accurate memory would conflict with their ideology.

          My apologies if this is even more incoherent than usual. Maybe not miles, but a few furlongs to go before I need sleep.

    2. spooz

      Common stock would be highly unstable. On everyday transactions, for example, how would a merchant know whether the corporation involved had adequate accounting controls or what tomorrow’s earnings announcement might bring?

      Stephen Zarlenga of the American Monetary Institute has a very ambitious American Monetary Act, most of which was included in Kucinich’s failed NEED Act from 2011. The plan incorporates the federal reserve into the treasury and ends fractional reserve lending. It also caps interest rates, ends compound interest, and pays a citizens dividend. I believe there was even a provision for universal health care, my own favorite sparkle pony. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

      Here is Zelenga’s address to OWS from 2011, explaining the plan:

    1. optimader

      Yes, I think this is a correct perspective.

      Both events demonstrate that even the most sophisticated computer systems yet devised, with all their data aggregating and logical parsing capability still need “human stewards” and humans just are not reliable(predictable).
      So even with all the best virtual security conceivable, who is watching the stewards that keep the networks up? Who watches the watchers?

      It will be interesting how the unintended consequences play out.

      Incidentally regarding Mr. Snowden’s “internet footprint”, I do know of individuals who’s professional careers have been areas deemed Classified. This can prove to be a very difficult professional position to get out of and go private sector, if you literally cannot divulge what your work has pertained to. The point is, someone looking for “internet” footprints on people in government service should not necessarily be surprised when they come up crickets.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        As they used to say, from Parthia to Hadrian’s Wall: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Actually, I’m bothered by the degree of speculation and attribution of motive.

      He starts from the premise that Snowden can’t be what he says he is, when there is reporting elsewhere that says Snowden was immediately the #1 candidate when the leaks were first made, due to the timing of his going AWOL and that that alone had put the NSA in worried mode. So the whole premise of his piece is to doubt what Snowden is saying.

      He ALSO accepts as a given that the NSA is compartmentalized and Snowden must have done internal hacking (what is tantamount to that) to get his docs, and he must have been a super duper techie to get hired. Amusingly, other tech commentors have cast aspersions on his skills.

      Yet anyone who knows IT security knows that violations of IT protocols happen ALL THE TIME, for instance, people sharing passwords, leaving them on stickies on their computers, etc. Further, you’ve got evidence in the public domain of past NSA transgressions of official rules (the listening in on calls home of apparently all soldiers stationed in Iraq).

      I read the most damaging part of Snowden’s interview as where he says that analysts have various level of authorities, and someone like him could go after anyone in the US, including the President, if he had a personal e-mail. That part was not unpacked. Did that mean he’d come across an e-mail in looking for foreign connections? But he seemed to be driving at that tons of people like him had plenty of opportunity to investigate individuals, AND the data was already in the NSA’s hands, ready to access. It was that he basically said the checks we’ve been told are there are effectively non-existant. The author refuses to accept that and instead goes off on the unwarranted surmise that Snowden must be some super hacker who cracked the NSA’s internal firewalls. Huh?

      So the big fail is that he accepts that what we’ve been told by the officialdom about what it is doing is truthful, and therefore he has to make Snowden fit into that construct. But come on! The Bushies gave us the WMD Big Lie followed by something on the order of 20 reasons (successive stories, with a new one offered when the old one started to be debunked) why we went into Iraq. The track record is the Administration LIES THROUGH ITS TEETH on security matters. And this is long-standing. If you read Ellsberg’s book Secrets, he has an incident where he briefs McNamara personally on how badly things are going, McNamara thanks him and tells him that’s what he suspected, and then McNamara goes straight into a press conference and lies big time. Similarly, Elllsberg recounts several times when he was given access to material that he should not have been.

      Now there is all this hand-waving about how did Snowden get his job. The military is REALLY good at testing people and if they find people who are very intelligent, moving them into spots where their special skills will be used. I know of a guy who (this was back in the 1980s!) joined the Navy to learn Japanese. They tested him and said his math skills were too good for that, they had him learn a bunch of advanced math and had him do codebreaking. He wound up running a station and broke some important Soviet code. I don’t think he has a college degree (or maybe he got one eventually through his service) but he’s brilliant.

      So the idea that the intelligence agencies follow the rules strictly is BS, yet that’s the premise of that article.

      1. EmilianoZ

        Yet anyone who knows IT security knows that violations of IT protocols happen ALL THE TIME, for instance, people sharing passwords…

        Similarly, Elllsberg recounts several times when he was given access to material that he should not have been.

        If there were not some degree of trust at the workplace, if everything had to be done by the book, everyday work would grind to a snail’s pace.

        I think the NSA is awesome.
        The 4th amendment is overrated.

        1. diane

          The vast majority of collaborative tasks done under guidance of a document (by the book ), a document written:

          carefully and painstakingly.

          with transparency and much thought and collaboration with potentially affected and concerned parties.

          to ensure an action or product actually serves a beneficial purpose for humanity.

          to ensure enough time is alloted to the process[es] required to produce something long lasting, of benefit to all parties involved and of high quality. If that requires a snail’s pace, so be it.

          are the only tasks well done.

          If the document appears to need revision, the same process should be undertaken. There’s an enormous difference between trust in the workplace and not going by well considered guidelines. The trust breaks when the Wild Wild West ensues.

          F u c k, we don’t play by No Stinking rules, And we’re proud of it.

        2. optimader

          And anyone with a screen name anagram of Maize Lion should be a person of awesome interest to the NSA.

          But don’t be concerned, screening you is merely a formality.

      2. optimader

        I’ll have to reread the article, I took the perspective to be that Mr. Snowden indeed did not have to be more than competent to “hack into” (I perceive hack to just mean going into network locations surreptitiously). And if that is a correct assessment , it must be making for some real Tums moments in the Organs of State Security. Consider Kevin Mitnick, I don’t think he was ever accused of being a Rhoades scholar, but he was immersed in IT and as it turns out, apparently quite persistent

        I am not an IT person, but I have no reason to doubt that if BHO is/was for example using a Blackberry, ultimately a gov. contractor network security person w/ access to the correct permission levels could tap directly into his email. In fact at the beginning of the BHO 1st term, there was angst expressed that he might have to give up his Crackberry due to porous security. I thought one of the interesting reveals about the Bush administration was how ridiculously primitive the White house electronic communication was revealed to be.

        “Yet anyone who knows IT security knows that violations of IT protocols happen ALL THE TIME, for instance, people sharing passwords, leaving them on stickies on their computers, etc….”

        Absolutely , again Human Factors are what are unpredictable and ultimately conspire, premeditatedly or not, to blow up systems. That is basically my take away

        Having 000000 as a password (recent French news), copying classified nuke trigger design info onto tradeshow Tchotchke flashdrives –potentially with Trojan horse bugs… Heck, the security compromised PLC shutting down the electric fence at Jurassic Park! A bit of humor, but not a bad object lesson for how geometric growing a large enterprise complex system is exposed to increasing risk, in this case pooping out embarrassing info.

        RE: Passwords, did I find this link here on NC? Interesting article
        “Anatomy of a hack: How crackers ransack passwords like “qeadzcwrsfxv1331” “
        “Microsoft security guru: Jot down your passwords”—(Who doesn’t?)

        And yes the military can be adept at evaluating people. A fellow I know that is Korean war vintage was a beatnik musician who was plugged into a Russian language program to ultimately become a shortwave radio translator. He said at the time anyway the program was populated with musicians. He went on to become a successful sculptor.

        1. bob

          ” there was angst expressed that he might have to give up his Crackberry due to porous security. ”

          I read that at the time as nationalistic marketing. BB is “canadian”.

          It was also evidence of how deep “silicon valley” is into the media matrix. Everyone knows appl is secure…

          By definition. This story-

          Shows that any appl “security holes” are very quickly rebranded and settled out of court into “security features”. They are watching your kids, in their bedrooms, for security.

      3. skippy


        As a 11th grade drop out (family stuff) and sat the militarily entrance exam with the intention of going Rangers (SF needed a high ranking Congress critter or preferably Senator patronage in the day – not with in my grasp w/out family help – see stuff). I was heavily prodded to change my original MOS request to serve in a missile MOS, although only after I declined the A4 bye bye offer in the sound proof room thingy.

        Actually I needed a waver from the commander of the regional BAT recruitment center to lock in my preferred MOS, the brain drain in the 70s was a shocker though… no fun being better read and higher IQ than most of your officers… snicker.

        skippy… people watch to many movies… although Andy McNabs books offer a novelesque caricature of the landscape, its better popular vantage point to the MSM offerings.

        He now lives in New York[13]

        He is also a director of military service recruitment, mentoring and Foundation organisation, ForceSelect.[14] McNab is an also board member of a private security company.

        He worked with DICE on perfecting various situations involving techniques on gun fighting, stance and other war-related issues for Battlefield 3.

        He is working on a new “Medal Of Honor” game which is due for release in 2013[13]

        Lmmao…. I still have my ugly shirts and my personal fav… the dummy out the helo in front of the royals – was worth – all the previous pain inflicted (if true). Personally don’t agree with the company you keep these days, but, some tend their wounds differently.

  23. Hugh

    David Brooks is a propagandist, a talking points machine. He is an Upton Sinclair man with a vengeance:

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it

    Of course, Brooks has no interest in understanding anything. The powers that be feed him his talking points, fork over his salary, and Brooks enthusiastically regurgitates them, usually in a pseudo-everyman style.

    What has interested me is the media dismiss Snowden as a high school dropout. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, indeed Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of college. Although they have only a couple more years of schooling than Snowden, he gets tarred with his lack of formal education whereas theirs is conveniently swept under the carpet. Make billions looting your own workers, manipulating the marketplace and restricting competition wherever you can, you are made into a hero of capitalism and nobody cares about your education. Indeed like Gates you can pontificate on the subject. On the other hand, do the hard but moral thing and you are depicted as a low life high school dropout loser, this despite the fact that you were so good that the NSA, the CIA, and Booz Allen were stumbling all over themselves to hire you.

    1. optimader

      David Brookes is mouthpiece with a passive aggressive presentation.

      Absolutely, the speculation regarding lacking “formal education” is vacuous. I contend it actually tends to make for a more reliable (and exploitable) employee. Some people lack formal education due to circumstance having noting to do with aptitude or intelligence.

      Purely technical positions are not conducive to fakery. Ultimately either you can do the work or it is soon revealed you cannot do the work.

      Admire Henry Ford or not, he was illiterate. Thomas Edison had little or no formal education. American History is filled with successful self actualized individuals. I know an individual who is a preeminent prosthetic expert that went directly into the profession from HS before it was “professional”. His “lack” of formal education is not particularly relevant to either his peers or clientele.
      So a network contactor employee w/ a GED who is actually competent? that’s a problem? pffft.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Some people succeed thanks largely to their ‘lack of formal education.’

        And some people don’t succeed thanks largely to their formal education.

        1. optimader

          indeed that is the case.
          And not to be understood, in general from my perspective education is the road to enlightenment.

      2. charles leseau

        “So a network contactor employee w/ a GED who is actually competent? that’s a problem? pffft.”

        Indeed. Superior affinity will out in many fields.

        One of my best friends from high school had no secondary education but is a computer geek of outrageous aptitude.

        He was hired by Valve software in Seattle after moving there on a whim…to try his luck at being hired by Valve software. (It’s a video game company of high repute that runs a popular application called Steam, a very big deal for those into that kind of thing.)

  24. skippy

    Like OMG…

    Sales of George Orwell’s novel “1984,” featuring a futuristic totalitarian state, jumped on Inc. (AMZN)’s website following reports of a classified program that lets the U.S. government collect personal data.

    One edition of the book, which was originally published in 1949, moved to the No. 5 spot on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers list, which tracks dramatic increases in sales volume over a 24-hour period. That makes it the 125th-best-selling book on the site, an increase from its previous rank of 7,397.

    The sales gains come after the revelation of a top-secret electronic-surveillance program that allows the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to access data from audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs from the biggest U.S. Internet companies. The Washington Post and the U.K.-based Guardian reported the program’s existence last week.

    Orwell’s novel portrays a dystopian society where individuals are monitored through ubiquitous television screens and overseen by a leader called Big Brother.

    skippy… Amazoo[n to profit on Orwell’s opines… absurdity abounds!

    1. AbyNormal

      will The Giver be next ?

      We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.

    2. Optimader

      Yes Amazon is a parity digit whore but as a point of interest the sole inheritor of Eric Blairs (aka george orwell) royalties is his son richard Bliar who is 69 this year.
      As a kid he had the misfortune of being orpaned twice ( loosing four parents) by the age of six. Talk about small recompense for a tough karma childhood.
      A tragic aspect of this is that orwell could not afford proper medical attrntion for his wife due to his publisher dragging his feet on issuing the first print of Animal Farm as he was a soviet sympthizer that took offense to Orwell’s metaphorical treatment of “Uncle Joe” Stalin. Tragically AFrm secured Orwells financial position, but it was a full six months after his wifes death.
      File under: Health care cost

  25. Jessica

    Part of the left is basically anti-democratic and thinks the problem is not that people are being manipulated/pushed into thinking a certain way, but that the wrong people (i.e. not them) are doing it.
    Leaving them aside, part of the problem can be seen as the Bullshit Sandwich structure of truth: illusion on top, actual truth at the bottom, and utter bullshit in between. The trick is that to get from the illusion, which is a substitute truth, a shadow of the truth, to the real truth we have to pass through the bullshit but not get stuck there. Right now, for many of us, if we let go of our comfortable illusions – on the left these would be things like “if it weren’t for the Republicans in Congress”, “if only Obama (understood/had more backbone)”, “if only Bernie Sanders ….” – this does not take us all the way to the truth, but only to the bullshit layer, the There Is No Alternative layer. It is also the sheeple layer because if TINA were true, being a sheeple would be a much smarter approach than that metaphor suggests. (There is a bit of “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you” about it.)
    Many of us resist letting go of our illusions, often all the while being half aware that they are false, because because we accuately sense the falsehood of TINA layer of bullshit below. A major task right now is to find ways to get people from their illusions to the truth despite the layer of bullshit in between.

    I have had similar experiences and hope you can find some way of understanding them that does not point so strongly to despair. Perhaps our understanding of things up till now has not quite been up to the task.
    There is a quite complex dance between the ways the elite and their servants manipulate ordinary people and that within ordinary people that leaves them vulnerable to such manipulation. The fact that our current decaying elite is able to bring out the worst in so many people does not mean that people are not capable of better. Keep up the good fight.

      1. Jessica

        The most common illusion on the left now would be a notion such as “if only Obama had more spine or weren’t hamstrung by those nasty obstructionist Republicans”. This is an illusion but it contains with in it glimpses of the truth that we should have friends even in high places and also of the moral truth that many of the things that people vainly hope for Obama to do are things that a moral leader would do. They are also projections onto a leader of what we ordinary people can and should make happen.
        The next layer down, the truth is that we have no friends in high places, but the bullshit stew here is TINA seasoned with a somewhat smug cynicism. “Oh, surely you aren’t one of those who ever falls for this stuff are you.” Sometimes, having an extra fact or two in your quiver can make you more shielded from the truth.
        Beyond the TINA layer is the real truth, which is that we are capable of actually doing all the things that we look to, for example, Obama for. Everything decent that some of us see or have seen in him is a projection of some quality that we truly have the potential for.
        Another example is how people see the U.S. Constitution. Many believe in some golden age when the U.S. was not a republic of, by, and for money or they attribute some semi-sacred character to the U.S. Constitution. The truthy layer of bullshit takes a more historically factual view of US history. The people who wrote the constitution explicitly understood it as an anti-democratic maneuver. Remember they originally wrote it with none of the Bill of Rights, those are amendments that were forced on the Founding Fathers. But the profound bullshit of this layer is the assumption that just because things weren’t as good in the past as we might like to believe they were, therefore they never can be. Bullshit truthiness also ignores that a lot of people have fought well over the years to make the reality of the constitution closer to what we want it to be.
        The deeper truth is that a lot of what people mythologize onto the constitution are glimpses of goals worth striving for and a valid yardstick with which to measure (benchmark) the extreme shortcomings of our current elite. They are projections into a past golden age of something that we can achieve in the future.
        A more provincial example would be the meme “if only Hillary not Obama in 2008”. Much of that is probably not historically true, but it contains and is driven by glimpses of a number of truths 1) That right from the start there were some warning signs of what would go wrong with Obama. The truthy bullshit layer is using this as an ego contest or shaming contest. “What’s the matter with you, I saw it before you did”. The deeper truth is that especially in retrospect there were warning signs, we can learn from these and we can do better in the future. 2) That respect for the working class is valid. 3) That sometimes what seems like a more progressive tone is just playing to class status markers that distinguish the (higher status) knowledge worker class from the traditional working class.
        It is also important to recognize that for many of us, the bullshit layer can be a stage we need to go through on the way from illusion to whatever truth the illusion is pointing towards. At the same time that the TINA bullshit level is a major part of the cultural contamination of our time.

  26. Jessica

    About Snowden being a HS drop out

    To me, that proved that he must be very, very bright. If he had a computer science degree from some elite university, he might be bright but he also might be a moron from a good background, but to get that job without credentials, he had to be good.

    If I were the NSA, and hopefully their class bias will keep them from understanding this, I would only hire people with the pretty pieces of paper. Not because they are brighter but because they have already proven a certain level of social docility and have been subject to so much more indoctrination.
    It does not surprise me in the least that the two people with the human decency to do what is right were a high school graduate and a gay man in an anti-gay military who seems to possibly be transsexual. The one missed out on a lot of the indoctrination and the other was shielded from it by the way he was not accepted.

    1. bob

      It’s also a very good way to “lock in” young talent.

      Without any formal credentials he can’t go anywhere else.

      “Where did you work formerly?”

      “If I told you, you would be killed”

      “Well, ok, what did you do there?”

      “If I told you, you would be killed”

  27. YY

    I wonder if Snowden had enough moments of criminal/mercenary lapses to ensure he got some insurance/blackmail information to negotiate his own protection.

    I suspect not, for reasons inherent in having access to everything under (and not under) the sun but nothing in particular. Just as the intelligence community is more adept at drumming up business than keeping anyone safe.

  28. Chauncey Gardiner

    Interesting choice of language by the Guardian in their title to Mr Ellsberg’s article. “Stasi” = Stasis… just as in East Germany. And the intensive effort to attack the messenger belies their fear: Risk = Truth

    Sadly, there seems to me to be an established pattern, a set of procedures to diminish and marginalize… or worse.

  29. ScottS

    Re: The Solitary Leaker David Brooks

    So many fnords. I couldn’t read it past the “He betrayed mom and baseball and and apple pie…” part.

    Snowden has more courage in his pinky than David Brooks has in his empty suit.

  30. Micheal

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