Links 8/28/13

The I Have a Dream Speech – full text 50 years ago.

Bob Dylan, Joan Baez & More Music at 1963’s March on Washington The Daily Beast

Lew: Obama not negotiating over debt limit CNBC

Former JPMorgan Banker Arrested in Spain FT

Top Litigator Said to Leave JPMorgan WSJ

US Demands More than $6 Billion From JPMorgan FT. This is from the FHFA put-back lawsuits, led by that horrible Bush lackey Ed DeMarco, who may extract more from JPM than any other entity in the federal government.


UK and US finalise plans for military strikes against Syrian regime The Guardian

Erase the Red Line Foreign Affairs

The Chemical Weapon Taboo and America’s Next War The American Prospect

Military Interventions On Behalf of Rebels Typically Lead To More Killing of Civilians Not Less Slate. (Trying to give a sense of the broad range of opinion against strikes)

“Experts” Who Are Always Wrong About Everything Want to Bomb Syria Lawyers, Guns & Money (see above)

The Debate Over Intervention in Syria George Packer, The New Yorker (see above)

White House Syria Deliberations: ‘Do Less’ Camp is Still Winning New Republic

Syria adds to growing volatility MacroBusiness

Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End? Juan Cole

Bank Chairman Admits TARP Funds Used to Purchase Luxury Vacation Property SIGTARP. Lisa Epstein says: “And here all along I thought TARP didn’t trickle down to help a single homeowner!”

Foreclosed Renters Left Homeless In Shadow Of Disneyland Huffington Post

Maximizing shareholder value: The goal that changed corporate America The Washington Post

The Great Lesson from the Great Recession Mark Thoma

Michigan Medicaid Expansion Backed By GOP Governor Passes In Key Vote Huffington Post

Jerry Brown seeks $315M to avoid mass release of prisoners Sacramento Bee. This is embarrassing. California keeps getting told that they are violating the 8th Amendment by imparting cruel and unusual punishment on prisoners, and Jerry Brown keeps trying to bargain. The latest is taking money from a reserve that would go to education and health care and using it to lease private prison space and sell inmates to out-of-state operations. It’s disgusting when you consider the alternative of a release of non-violent offenders is eminently doable.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Chart of the Day: Which Countries Snoop on Facebook Users the Most Mother Jones

From Tom Paine to Glenn Greenwald, we need partisan journalism Jack Shafer

Internal Documents Reveal How the FBI Blew Fort Hood Mother Jones. Spied on Nidal Hassan for a year and it still did no good.

Child Hunger So Common That Three-Quarters Of Teachers Have Hungry Students Think Progress

Entergy Announces Closing of Vermont Nuclear Plant NYT

Philadelphia mayor still blaming teachers for funding crisis created by Republican governor Daily Kos Labor

‘Syrian Electronic Army’ boasts of attacks on NYT, Twitter, other big online media Boing Boing

Nissan Plans Self-Driving Cars by 2020 WSJ

Finally, A Dictator Does Something that Lanny Davis Cannot Tolerate The New Republic

All 25,000 candidates fail Liberian university entrance exam The Guardian

Widow Asks Public For Help Finding Missing Parrot That Speaks In Late Husband’s Voice CBS Los Angeles

Miley Cyrus Twerking On Things We Should Talk About Tumblr

Antidote du jour:


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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


  1. JL Furtif

    “I have a dream” that one day, the image of this speech can be seen on the Internet (preferably, without advertisemnts or Obama) – not possible today.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If life is a dream, then life itself is a dream come true. There is no ‘I hope my dream will come true.’

            To some, or perhaps many, though, it’s better to not have been born in the first place.

  2. from Mexico

    It doesn’t look like the British are on board for the newest neocon murder and torture adventure either.

    A poll released this evening from the UK shows

    The public remain overwhelmingly opposed to British troops being sent into Syria, but more importantly the poll also asked specifically about whether people would support a missile attack on Syria. 50% of people would oppose this course of action, 25% would support it. Even Tories are against missile strikes by 45-33%.

    I thought after three strikes — Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan — you were out.

    Apparently for the neocons, just like for the financial sector and its one true faith, neoliberalism, a history of proven failures counts for nothing.

    1. barrisj

      Polls, shmolls – if Western (cough-cough) “leaders” want to foment trouble in former colonial possessions in the Middle East, well, by God, they’ll do it, bugger public opinion. Since 1956, in Suez, the Brits, Froggies, and latterly the Yanks have made it explicitly their business to interfer with, meddle in, disrupt, or overthrow, etc., governments and states within the region in order to “protect vital interests” – i.e., oil, or to promote the “vital interests” of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Bombing the bejesus out of Syria is but the latest insult to world opinion, but, really, do these “leaders” really care a fig about that?

      1. redleg

        This war is about natural gas, not oil IMO. Syria is the pipeline route from the Persian Gulf to Europe. Russia currently supplies much/most of Europe with gas. Look for Russia to cut off gas supplies this winter in retaliation for US/EU/UK military action, and preservation of their gas monopoly, which will perversely justify the need for a gas pipeline through Syria.

        1. Synopticist

          It’s also a war of good, old fashioned imperialism and expansionism, but NOT western imperialism. Its ARABIAN expansionism, Saudi and Qatari expansionism.

          They want to turn Syria into a Saudi/Qatari client state, with a religious and social policy built in their image.

        2. hunkerdown

          Methinks Putin is more of a shrewd operator than that. I figure he’d be more likely to do as KSA does whenever some alternative presents as a long-term threat to their rental streams. When all the money’s been committed to the pipeline, the contracts signed, the foreign construction workforce airdropped in, etc., turn up production, crater prices and make the project totally unappealing to investors.

          They may yet do this when enough suckers have bailed in to European shale gas.

      2. J Sterling

        “Latterly”? America was already overthrowing democratically-elected governments in coups d’etat in Iran by 1953, fifty years ago this year.

        1. barrisj

          Well, actually the British SIS provided the impetus, the CIA provided the muscle. Mossadegh was deemed a “threat to British interests”, i.e., nationalising the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, but – as usual – that ol’ “special relationship” was invoked, and the rest is history.

    2. gonzomarx

      Public opinion won’t stop them. I was one of the million to march against Iraq. Made no difference to Blair.
      All the parties are already lining up as tomorrows debate in the House will show.

        1. Gareth

          A blast from the past – May 30th to be exact:

          “Seven members of Syria’s militant al-Nusra group were detained on Wednesday after police found sarin gas, which was reportedly going to be used in a bomb attack, during a search of the suspects’ homes, Turkish media have reported.

          Newspapers claimed on Thursday that two kilograms of sarin gas, which is usually used for making bombs and was banned by the UN in 1991, had been found in the homes of suspects detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersin. Twelve suspects were caught by the police on Monday. The reports claimed that the al-Nusra members had been planning a bomb attack for Thursday in Adana but that the attack was averted when the police caught the suspects. Along with the sarin gas, the police seized a number of handguns, grenades, bullets and documents during their search. Five of the suspects were released later on Thursday.”

    3. Richard Kline

      Am I happy that a coterie of late imperial powers are going to deal a blow to the air superiority-rocket artillery assets of the Baathist regime in Syria? . . . No. Happy is the wrong word. These are the wrong retaliators. It should never be up to the whim of individual state actors to intervene in a situation such as the Syrian Civil War.

      At the same time, the Baathist regime is odious. It is manifestly obvious, and intensively documented, that that regime has committed multiple crimes against humanity in the last two years: area fire against urban civilian areas, death squad activity (Aleppo certainly, Latakia probably), repeated prior use of dilute chemical arms to offset great numerical inferiority, mass torture specifically of children. . . . Of course none of the voices here inveighing agaisnt American intervention care to discuss any of THAT, do y’all? Because 100,000 dead matter far less than [whatever it is that matters to you]. But those deaths, and that odious regime _do_ matter; certainly they matter to me. Is ‘the other side clean?’ Of course not, despite which a) there isn’t an ‘other side’ but rather a set of factions with different agendas, b) the rebels are manifestly far less criminal in their actions, and c) they have very little choice, do they, because the Baathists will kill them all and all of their families if this isn’t fought to a finish. Try sprinkling those realities on your breakfast cereal folks, along with your serving of spleen.

      Gaddafi is dead and gone. Remember him? Criminal against humanity; held his country as his personal slave state; launched indiscriminate assaults on civilians to liquidate protest; inflicted worse crimes to stifle a civil war. Dead and gone. Yes, Libya is hardly a democracy (yet), and nothing like stable. That kind or result takes time and practice. Italy, Mexico: they’ve had a lot of time, and they still need practice. They aren’t occupied by foreign powers, or the personal fief of their version of Gaddafi or the Baathists. Syria won’t be a stable or happy place for a generation, if then, and will never be such as long as the Baathists have heavy weapons to deploy against anyone.

      It’s a bad day that the likes of Obama give the launch code, I’ll agree to that. The idea that peace conferences will be held in Syria without a major change in force structures and defensive postures is ridiculous. One has certain options and not others. Those who want to pull a sackcloth bag over their heads and not see piles of dead in Syria _overwhelmingly at neo-fascist Baathist hands_ must have no problem with the stink, either.

      Foreign boots on the ground are a damn bad idea, but the US seems to have learned that much. I wouldn’t support that, because it’s stupid, unconstructive, unnecessary, unsought, and unwanted. Of course US-UK diplomacy after the fact will be self-dealing and incompetent—I mean, look at who will execute it, in the first instance. Still, those who are indifferent to an odious and criminal regime clinging on by killing anyone it can reach do seem to have an obsession with ‘the crimes of some,’ which crimes are real ut not even the main ones in this instance. I’m no fan of Juan Cole; that said, his blurb is at least worth a read here. It’s a bad set of choices, and a worse set of characters, but a preference for clean hands is not necessarily a morally pure position either.

      1. Diego Schiavon

        > Italy, Mexico: they’ve had a lot of time, and they still need practice. They aren’t occupied by foreign powers,

        I need to disagree. We have got plenty of foreign bases here in Italy and cannot pick and elect our own officials. The US have been pretending to fight drugs in Mexico for a long time to the same effect.

        > or the personal fief of their version of Gaddafi or the Baathists.

        I need to disagree here as well. Latin dictators might be marginally less violent than in the Middle East, they still treat the countries as their own property.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘We have got plenty of foreign bases here in Italy.’

          … which is precisely what fuels criminal adventures like the one Obama is contemplating now in Syria.

          Please, please, reclaim Italy’s sovereignty and frog-march your odious NATO occupiers to the nearest of departure.

      2. Eureka Springs

        Civil war? If the US/Saudi/Qatar/Israeli and Turk money, weapons, spooks/terrorists/al Qaeda militia boots on ground now were not in Syria, there would most certainly be no war at all. And to speak of Democracy as if any players listed above are interested in it, even decades or a century from now is to laugh.

        1. Richard Kline

          Eureaka Springs, you are completely mistaken regarding the sources of the insurrection in Syria to end Baathist rule. This is not ‘an outside job.’ There was extensive reportage in the early stages regarding who was protesting, where, when; about why and when that turned into armed resistance. The initial core were Sunni deserters from the Army, and Iraqi Sunnis who had sheltered in Syria coming back to fight there.

          There _absolutely_ was a civil war before any outside power backed that activity, and would be a civil war regardless of any exterior intervention: indeed, Turkey and the US were extremely slow to get into the action. Neither state wanted to get it’s hands dirty. Neither state wanted to back any of the factions who were actually effective on the ground inside Syria, since those often leaned towards Islamist and even jihadi [note: NOT the same thing] backgrounds. Turkish and US arms and money has been largely _wasted_ since pushed upon inept, marginal, do-nothings with large hats, larger heads, and few adherants on the frontlines.

          Eureka Springs, you’re a fool if you believe what you type. There are no good choices in Syria. Any intervention by US-UK-FR is not about ‘democracy,’ sure; those actors hae their own agendas. The _larger picture_ extends beyond what those agendas are and might be. That is my point, that American agendas are really a pitiably small aspect of the problem that is the Syrian Civil War, and folks who see actions in that conflict only through an American lens—whether pro or anti in that regard—have decided to delude themselves and miss the fundamental ethical and political choices involved. I can see someone coming to a different conclusion than I do regarding those real choices, sure. Nothing in this is cut and dried—but most of it bleeds. We can please STOP seeing the hand and/or lusts of ‘the Great Satan’ in every world event that transpires. If you care in any way at all about a) ending the war in Syria and b) the opening of a wider political space there, then having the Baathist regime lose their principle hardware assets would be the near-term outcome at the top of your objectives. And if not, then not.

      3. Saddam Smith

        This is the dangerous flaw in your argument:

        “Still, those who are indifferent to an odious and criminal regime”

        Inaction does not mean indifference (it can hurt to be do ‘nothing’ and believe non-intervention is better), nor does this line of reasoning mean that an intervention motivated by who knows what (though humanitarian reasons are far from top of the list since the horror-evidence you cite has been known for long enough) is the ‘solution’, acting as an honest role model might be better in the long run. Your appeal to western sensibilities, even though I of course share them, is grandstanding (in an inverse kind of way). While it is of course horrible that such horrors occur it seems to me that a people must evolve beyond tolerating and perpetrating them. Can the ‘solution’ be bombed into place at all? Where’s the success story that serves as a precedent?

        Is intervention better than liberal hand-wringing? Perhaps, but maybe this is a false binary – and as a man who has never remotely experienced the horrors we are discussing it is highly distasteful even engaging in this conversation. However, the degree to which it is a false binary depends on the degree to which the anglo-saxon PTB can behave in any other way, particularly in the long lead up to such conflagrations (is this really a civil war?). In the end, all talk here is just chit chat. Until we have socio-economic and political institutions robustly in place that prevent Syrias from happening in the first place, this sort of shit is going to happen again and again.

        War is a racket. This is about money and power not about children and innocents. What a wonderful world.

        1. Richard Kline

          War IS a racket, and I find it highly distasteful to make a case for any kind of military action, humanitarian or not. Waiting for heaven’s kingdom to come means writing off another 100,000 Syrians dead, or two; most of them on the side of the repressed. Plus a generation even more poisoned than at present for 30 million there. To me, that is a high price to be paid for inaction. Too high.

          Something has to be done to damp down the killing and the cost. Any peace is going to involve the termination of the Baathist regime. Those are the only two, obvious points. To me, anything about a resolution beyond that is up to the Syrians, because they will have to live with the outcome.

          The point to actually take a meaningful moral stand was in the beginning. Unified pressure on the Baathists in the early stage of mass protest to compromise and open the political space _might_ have had an impact. That was not what external actors chose to pursue. To me, THAT is the point of culpability in what follows, because what has followed was largely baked into the shyte pot pie thereafter. At this point, I’m more interested in lives being saved than Sunday suits being kept spotless.

          1. Saddam Smith

            Though I appreciate your position, and respect it, I can’t quite commit to it. This may be some variety of cowardice on my part, but my reasoning says that the means are the ends. As the means (intentions) in this case are not humanitarian in the least, the ends won’t be either.

            For me, this is expressed too strongly, as too much of a binary:

            “Waiting for heaven’s kingdom to come means writing off another 100,000 Syrians dead, or two; most of them on the side of the repressed.”

            The other way is to do a Gandhi and be the change we want to see in the world. I have a quiet conviction that this difficult path has the best chance of producing lasting and meaningful change for the better (what ever “better” really means). That said, I have to confess that I suspect both that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that bad intentions need not have bad outcomes. In the end though, my reticence to intellectually and emotionally agree with your well-argued position is neither here nor there. TPTB are marching whether I like it or not.

      4. Doug Terpstra

        You make a better case for humanitarian war than “moral obscenity” John Kerry, for sure. As Hugh said there are no white hats here.

        Our own hat is no shade of charcoal; it’s pitch black. Strobes flash and klaxons blare when, once again, there is no time or need for international law; no time for an investigation with the UN already on site; when the proof is “undeniable” (Kerry); when “there is no doubt” (Biden/Cheney); when Assad (kettle) is a “pathological liar” (Powell,pot); when the usual Neocon suspects Elliot Abrams and AIPAC cronies send Obama a PNAC-style signed directive; when it’s obvious who Israel’s ultimate target is; or when we’re told that we’ve always been at war with/in bed with our enemy/ally al-Qaeda.

        Juan Cole makes interesting points about the rebels being too incompetent to pull off an attack of that scale. Well sure, not without help. Does the CIA have drones? Does the CIA have access to chemical weapons? Has the US ever been complicit in chemical weapons attacks in the past? Involved in coups? Could the rush be to coverup a much more wicked truth? Do they think we’re stupid?

        Yes, yes, yes, yes, almost certainly, and yes. The pell-mell rush to war is an explicit, verbatim replay of Iraq, the bombing of a state that poses no existential threat to the US or Israel. And they will kill many, many more innocents again than their puppet tyrant.

        When it comes to those conjoined evil twins, we need to learn to always, always, follow the money. In Syria’s case, it’s the gas pipeline, rather than oil fields, and the Golan Heights for Eretz Israel. The Neocons are not humanitarians. Haven’t we learned that yet? Anyone who thinks this opening salvo is just retaliation for Assad’s alleged attack and not regime change should consider Sudan, Rwanda, Congo, etc., and also immediately order my free catalog of bridges for sale. We’re running pre-war specials. Order Now! And remember, support the troops!

        1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

          I seem to remember that in the Iraq-Iran war, Saddam Hussein gassed the Iranians (at that time, afaik, Iran went by the nickname “The Great Satan” or “Axis of Evil” , etc.) Rumsfeld had a friendly visit to Saddam back in the 80’s. In my opinion, there are lines of all sorts of coulours, like the rainbow spectrum. I can’t bring myself to trust Jay Carney, and neither can I bring myself to trust Assad of Syria …

        2. susan the other

          John McCain is a hint: We should go in to Syria now, do our damage and protect the “rebels” and blablablah. TYpical McCain. But then he says ‘No, we should not send any US troops.’ If the goal is oil, and clearly it is, then somebody’s troops will have to go in. McCain also says the biggest danger is that Syria will destabilize the greater middle east oil producing states and the price of oil will skyrocket – so he’s hedging. If the oil supply/price is destabilized, then it is a different crisis and of course McCain will send in the US troops. Right? Well, I really can’t imagine going to all this bother, blasting almost every country in the middle east to smithereens, if we are just going to say, Oh the oil is secure and we can go home now, when in truth there will be turmoil for decades. Who does he think he’s kidding?

          1. Synopticist

            McCain is just a cranky, angry old ba*tard who’s still sick about losing the primary to Bush in 2000.
            McCain is still viewing foreign policy through immediate post-cold war eyes, where the regimes that must be destroyed are those who provide a kind of leftist, anti-American view like Libya, North Korea and Syria. He never really read the memos on the dangers of extremist Islamism.

            The guy made speeches about how we could tell the difference between good rebels and bad, and then went over the Syrian border with a notorious ex-smuggler and criminal who’d recently kidnapped a dozen Lebanese pilgrims. He’s a joke.

          2. Crazy Horse

            I thought that the US was now the new Saudi Arabia of oil, afloat in the stuff miraculously squeezed from shale by our superior technology? If we are soon to become an oil exporter it will be to our advantage to have turmoil in the Middle East because that will drive up prices and make our endless reserves even more valuable.

            Oh sorry, that was last week’s propaganda.

            So why is that senile old lecher McCain whining about the necessity to fight another war to protect “our” oil that somehow found itself under their sands?

          3. antifa

            The empire’s plan is turmoil. Our neocon leaders want complete turmoil throughout the region. Neocons do their best work right after they kick the table over. An emergency creates opportunities.

            Cruise missiles cost little compared to boots on the ground. Just knock Assad’s tribe around a bit and mess up their command and control. Put ’em in a corner so they have to bring their allies in to help, and the opportunities begin.

            Iran joins in, so we and Israel get to bomb them. Syria attacks rebel bases in Turkey, so we get to defend our allies there, and Turkey will certainly respond.

            Hezbollah in Lebanon will strike northern Israel, and Israel will have their excuse to attack them, Syria and especially Iran, their main sponsors. Iran will respond by attacking Saudi oilfields and oil shipping terminals, since their best weapon against the West is to deny us oil at current prices, crashing our economies. Shiites in southern Iraq may help with that.

            That economic crash back here in America will be the neocon opportunity to completely gut the domestic social safety net — “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”

            It will be a free for all resulting in a decade or two of bloody fighting that will keep the neocon American empire rolling right along here at home.

            The really wild card in all this is Russia. They might supply and bolster Assad’s tribe, and their ally Iran as well, making sure these proxies stand like rocks that America’s military can beat itself to pieces upon. That is how Russia views our adventure in Afghanistan. More of that to bankrupt us sounds like a plan.

            For 20 years the neocons have been dreaming and working toward puppet states throughout the Middle East, with Israel left the dominant power in the region. Then US forces can move up into the Caspian Basin and take all that oil and natural gas from an isolated Russia. Just keep adding small client states through a process of turmoil.

            Hey, I hear Kazakhstan has more uranium than any other country anywhere.

            China may take a role in this fustercluck, maybe only supplying their ally Iran, maybe creating a distraction in the Pacific, because they know they’re on the neocon list. They’re next. Why wait until they’re the only name on the list?

            Stirring the pot now, creating endless bloody wars in the region, is supposed to advance the neocon goal of world domination.

            Or, the whole thing can blow up immediately into something no one could have seen coming.

            1. Richard Kline

              So antifa, could that be going on? Yes. Probability? < 3%. It really is not in US interests to have an activist Sunni Islamist government come to power in Syria, especially one tight with actual jihadi insurrectionaries in Iraq as would certainly be the case. From the standpoint of 'desireable outcomes,' that is both the most probable and least desired for the US. This is why the US has been so exceeingly slow and reticent to become involved in Syria at any significant lefel. Having a crippled pariah state remain, a la Yemen only more so, not THAT would be the perfect outcome for Israel, and somewhat desirable for the US. So if you're going to posit an imperialist, divide-and-extract strategy for major international actors please, use mine: it makes more sense than yours.

              But really, actual Syrians have actual interests and actual agendas. They don't need scheming white men posited to explain everything that they choose to do, or every mistake (or atrocity) in which they become embroiled. It's really quite bizarre, not to say quasi-racist, to see The White Man's Hand in every deed and outcome. Believe me: the US just isn't that good at this kind of thing. If they were, Iran would be in ruins now.

              And this "The neocons are so . . ." puh-leeeze, antifa. You give a handful of crypto-Israeli plants far too much credit. And btw, there are very few certified neo-cons at decision-making levels in the Obama Admin, so it's time to update your card-carrying file, bro. And btw too, those neo-cons just _weren't all that bright or talented to bring off interventionary conspiracies_ every two and a half years.

        3. Richard Kline

          Doug, buddie . . . the hydrocarbon extracts from Syria are of trivial concern. I know they seem to have obsessed you, but really they aren’t 1% of what this is all about. Do you know anything substantive regarding Syrian history? Now, it does matter a great deal who _runs_ a government in this region, since vitually all favor their communal compatriots. That is a huge problem which this present conflict will NOT resolve, no. As an outsider, my concern is more to support a minimization of the costs of that communal prejudice and political unwisdom until time erodes it, if possible. Factions in power there too often will use any form of force or suasion to stay in power once they have it, and that needs to change. The more dead bodies that peace has to climb over makes changing that belief system all the harder, so I want to see fewer dead now.

          “Pell-mell rush to war . . . .’ That’s just self-deluding rhetoric. It is so patently obvious Obama and his inner circle are _loathe to act in any way_ that only those blinded to another view can’t see it. The man is a do-nothing, and terrified to committ himself to any major action. Total wait-and-see guy. So in the first instance, there is no ‘rush.’ There have been uses of chemical munitions of some sort for over a year, Doug. All of them occurred in rebel territory. Most of them initially occurred in tactical military situations. There have been uses on civilians before, both in Hama and Aleppo. None of those could be ‘investigated’ far less ‘verified’ because a) they occurred in active war zones from which reporters have been exterminated by this point, and b) the stuff degrades fast enough that if you aren’t there in a few weeks there’s nothing to sample. The international community knows this, as do all actors in Syria.

          It is a certainty that Syria had an extensive chemical weapons capacity, as not only has this been reported and documented over years but defectors from the Assad regime have confirmed this _in detail_ since the stare of this uprising. I have no idea exactly who is deploying these munitions, and what their agenda is. Assad is not in control of anything on his side; his own relatives were more powerful, and there is every reason to think that actual power has devolved upon regional military commanders by now. The idea that these—ALL Of THEM?—incidences are false flag actions is a very weak, and indeed incredible hypothesis. Juan Cole state this well: such a massacre-our-own tactic would be highly objectionable to many on the Syrian rebel side, it’s scarcely conceivable that such deeds could be kept secret. Could the rebels have deliberately provoked a use of chemical weapons with UN inspectors in the country? Yes, that is a much more distinct possibility. The Baathists still had to _launch_ those munitions, and the culpability would lie with them. Could chemical munitions have been deployed by exterior powers to create a causus belli? Yes. That might be in Israel’s interest in this particular instance in Damascus. I don’t know that anyone has any way to investigate or prove either of these contentions.

          —And I know that “Who gassed those babes in Damascus” is not the real point. The innumberable, other, documented crimes of the end-stage Baathist regime in this conflict are more than enough reason for external intervention. It’s just that the likely outcome set for self-declared Great Powers from degrading Assad’s assets are, to them, so unpalatable they have refused to act. Yes, as another commentator said in recent days, this is more about being shamed to act than acting from conviction. If you can’t see that, Doug, if visions of all-purposive imperalists plotting behind every incident are so meaningful to you, I don’t know what factual content could persuade you elsewise. But there are facts aplenty to support a different interpretation: the Baathists are murdering, terrified shits backed into a corner who’ll kill anyody by any means to hold on to life and power, even taking their own Alawite community held as effective hostages down with them into the abbatoir. That hypothesis fits the last sixty years of Syrian and regional history rather well, as well as the present facts in print and on the ground in Syria.

          “Rushing off to war.” Look, I don’t want to give corrupt state actors and their current decision-makers any credit when I say there is a large difference between a bombing campaing and waging an ongoing, main force war. I despise the kind of casuistry involved in splitting hairs here. Killing anybody to active a policy end is ‘the moral equivalent of war,’ certainly to the relatives of the imminently deceased. I will say that a conclusion that “The US is going to get itself into a war in Syria” is one difficult to support. The Baathists could make a serious overture for armistice and settlement, I suppose: Doug, buddie, why don’t you and those of the ‘pell-mell rush to war’ send them a nice letter and ask them to be realistic about this? Yeah, that’ll do the trick. I can see the probable reply: “We’ll get back to you in a generation or two.” That’s too long for those dying today, is my view.

          And ‘international law’ following ‘a lawful investigation’: What binding international law is that? I’m not denigrating the body of treaty and agreement that is extant to say that it’s a liberal European legalism very new in world history not accepted in many parts of the world since seen as the agenda of a coterie of weakining post-imperialist governments to punish those whom they don’t like. And ‘investigations?’ Like those would be even credibile, such as the brutally partisan ‘investigation’ of Hezbollah’s putative involvement in the Hariri assasination. I’d believe an ‘investigation’ far less than an observer’s account on the ground, to be blunt: the latter is harder to fake well. And ‘investigations’ presuming those would be even _possible_ given the sites of these incidents are active war zones and will continue to be so. Suuuurrrrre, let’s all wait until we have a nice legal investigation after everybody is safely dead.

          If ‘law’ isn’t enforced, than one has no laws, only more or less force. If you, Doug, or anyone believes in ‘international law’ are you prepared to _ever_ see it held in force for any reason? Yes, despicable liars have lied that they were acting under international law, greatly discrediting the concept; we all know this. Yes, it is terrible that those self-same corrupt actors can now claim to ‘have got it right this time’ and intervene at their own will. I would far rather have a ‘Third Force’ to intervene: where is it? The UN is paralyzed on issues such as this, and neither can nor will act, no matter what is done or how many killed. We can’t wait for a perfect world or a perfect World Court, and we _can_ guarantee that desperate military dictators trying to crush an insurrection won’t pay any attention even so. International law may become credibile, but it has to be used to defend the assailed and punish those perpetrating atrocities. We have evidence enough in far too much plenty to determine who is whom in those regards in Syria for the world to act long before now—but _still_ you want to wait. To be sure? You need a few (hundred? thousand?) more bodies lying there before your personal red line is activated. That’s big of you, standing out for what’s a moral outcome for ‘those people,’ yeah, Doug. They need to bleed a little more before you’re sure they’re not faking it. We need to wait until whe have a ‘sanitary interventionay mechanism?” By which time, all those assailed will be safely dead, and we won’t have to bother disturbing our prayers you mean?

          Human rights, OTOH, trump international law. And we don’t need ‘a law,’ or ‘a state’ or ‘a treaty’ to know roughly what human rights are (as folks do disagree) and roughly what ones moral obligations are. And from the human rights standpoint, intervention should have come two years ago for Syria. On that basis, I don’t think we need to be calling whatever action transpires now as one ‘pell-mell.’ Sorry-assed and culpably late is much more accurate, I’d say.

          1. Whistling in the Dark

            “And we don’t need ‘a law,’ or ‘a state’ or ‘a treaty’ to know roughly what human rights are (as folks do disagree) and roughly what ones moral obligations are.”

            This statement is an important one, no?–but obviously, it is a bit confused. The parenthesis doesn’t serve it well, but, of course, it is honest.

            So, your red line has been crossed (long ago). Your indignation has been raised and, you say, the need to do something has been urgent for some time. But it also doesn’t hurt that many of the things which you are indignant about have been codified into law, owing to the indignation of previous generations, no doubt. Now, of course, since the wrongs are being affected by armed and powerful agents, we need the same, but more-so, to arrest it. The time now is to seize and punish the offenders, if they are lucky enough to retain their lives in the process.

            This is called “justice,” but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t end up causing the deaths of innocents (we shall invoke the voice of Timothy McVeigh about this shortly, should we continue.) And, “obviously,” something is wrong with that as well.

            Now, the hope is that this distasteful form of “justice” may become less and less necessary as humans progress in the stability and wisdom of their institutions. Nevertheless, according to history, each generation gets to relearn how to be indignant about the violations that do occur. And we regret that, we really do. So, look, I would think you would agree that our “maturity” as a species is such that we find it expedient not to bequeath to the future a helpful reassurance “oh, you’ll know human rights and their violations when you see them,” but rather a codification of them–indeed–and a set of standards for enforcement and for punishment of violators. This is called “law.”

            Otherwise, it seems, you are simply trying to appeal to the anxieties and play on the shame of your audience: “Can’t you recognize a moral obligation to act when you see one?” It is better, I say, to say, look, we have a criminal on our hands in Assad. The rough moral calculus (and one day this may be codified as well– 100,000 deaths is the current nomination for too many) says that he must be dealt with, even at great cost to the individuals most affected (not you or I, certainly). To do this, we need the state, no? What you mourn is not only that this task is distasteful but that we are not living in a world where, indeed, your moral pronouncements should not have been obvious from the beginning, and that, most importantly, there should be some mechanism (the state) in place to deal with them immediately. But it won’t get you there any quicker, you see, by wishing for this moral vision to be already indwelling with all of us. Even if it is part of our essence, it hasn’t been sufficient to stop crimes in the past. I believe what you desire is indeed better codification, law, and enforcement–justice. (No doubt, this is what separates you from the hapless utopian hand-wringers).

            However, it is also legitimate for someone to wonder, well, what about the 10,000 more who will have to die through accident and chaos in order to forestall the actions of those who have already racked up a count one order of magnitude larger. There is room for rebellion against this kind of justice — and even to mourn the death of a dictator, as the ascendant chant the name of their next Caesar (who, we can only hope, will abide by the finer codification of human rights and liberty, which we hope to leave behind.)

            What I am asking then, is whether you aren’t — and I have tried to argue in favor of the point — just trying to voice and encourage others to raise theirs in chorus, “Hail Caesar,” however mournfully and pathetically. Pathos is understandable here. Aren’t you asking for our war chants to be mournful and somber, rather than triumphant and bloodthirsty?

      5. Synopticist

        “b) the rebels are manifestly far less criminal in their actions, and c) they have very little choice, do they, because the Baathists will kill them all and all of their families if this isn’t fought to a finish.”

        What bollocks. The rebels are sectarian Islamo-fascists who will create a far more brutal regime than Assads, and the only reason they might not yet have killed as many civilians as the army is because they haven’t had the oppotunity. And of the 100,000 deaths, around 40% have been security forces of sorts, army, policemen, militia.

        Most of Assads supporters are Sunnis. If the rebels win they’ll likely murder every Shia and Allawite they can get their hands on, and the Christians would probably get expelled or forced to convert.

        Al qaeda will win any subsequent post Assad civil war, as they have in eastern Syria already, where Raqua is now an al qaeda emirate under the group that was once Al Qaeda In Iraq. Remember them? A bad lot.

        I’m no fan of Assad, but he’s better by a million miles than the largely foreign, murdering jihadis that now make up the rebels.

        1. Richard Kline

          You are certifiably nuts and choose to selectively believe the kind of crap you like, Synopticist. There are certainly jihadis amongst the rebels, but most rebels are not such. “Most of Assad’s supporters are Sunnis.” Prove it; no observer supports this conclusion in print, on film, or in the media. “If they win they’ll slaughter—” well that’s your supposition. What we know is that Assad’s side are the ones slaughtering now, and not slow to do so. What happens when the other side is on top is something to deal with then. Like we should be dealing with now in Iraq where we put a tinpot dictator in place of a black hat one, greatly embittering Iraqi Sunnis which drives the terror campaign there and contributes not a little to extremist spill-over into Syria.

          Islamo-fascist is the stupidest of all terms of this generation, signature and symtomatic of a hard right, pro-Israel kind of asshatery; pure propaganda. Islam is FAR CLOSER TO COMMUNISM on the the scale of political orientation and practice. Seriously, Islamo-communists would be the more appropriate kind of invective, not that it would be anything other than a racist slur. The _actual_ fascists are all of the military corporate dictatorships, of whom the Baathists are the archetype. The demonstrated fact, Synopticist, that you can’t even get your propaganda right or from any other source than right wing noise machine media says everything about the credibility of your views and agendas: subterranean bunkerism.

          And yeah, it would be kind of awkward for Israel if an activist Sunni government came to power in Syria. Far better for Israel to have a crippled, murderous pariah remain warlord-of-the-ruined-hill there—why don’t you just state your real objectives, Synopticist?

          1. Whistling in the Dark


            Seriously, what is the point of this vociferous advocacy for the apparently inevitible and imminent?

            So, they have made their minds up: wider war is coming in Syria. And, so, perhaps a dictator will lose his life or be “brought to justice” in the process, whichever. And what a horrible process it is! So, yes, you are allowed to cheer the demise of a dictator…

            But what is the point of trying to get everybody else on board the war-wagon with you? No! Let me rephrase this, why are you asking us to come alongside you as “reluctant” spectators at yet “one more parade,” to quote Phil Ochs?

            Isn’t this sort of spectating fairly redundant to the events that will take place? So, what is the point? It must be to make ourselves feel better somehow. Count me out.

            And don’t ask me to cheer with you when they hang Assad either. It seems the only possible cheer is “Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada,” or in the common vernacular: “Caesar, Caesar, Caesar.” Perhaps to your ears it sounds like, “Peace, Justice, Justice,” however reluctant and impure. But to Caesar it will sound as I have described, no?

      6. Massinissa

        “b) the rebels are manifestly far less criminal in their actions, and c) they have very little choice, do they, because the Baathists will kill them all and all of their families if this isn’t fought to a finish.”


        Islamic extremists dont eat peoples hearts and have children decapitate live prisoners because they ‘have no choice’ or are trying to protect themselves or whatever babble youre spouting.

        Thats bullshit, mr. Kline, and you know it!

        Both sides are evil, so dont you go defending the islamo-fascists. This is not the time for silly lesser-evil arguments.

        The best we can do for the citizens caught in the fighting is to stay the goddamn hell out. Bombing the crap out of innocents (Theyre going to be hit the worst from any US bombing action, I assure you!) to ‘save’ them from a dictator because religious extremists ask you nicely to is a bad idea and you KNOW it.

        1. auskalo

          I’d like to read here a speech by Richard Kline about how much better the Libyan children and women are since the “west” bombed it.

          How the new government is much better than Gaddafi’s, how people now are free and happy, and so on.

          Just reading in the links here, I learn that Qataris buy weapons “by the tone” dirty cheap in Libya to fly them home, the to Turkey and then give them away to rebels in Syria.

          And the dirty cheap oil production in Libya is down, very down, from the old production days.

          Someone made a profit, sure. But not democracy or freedom.

      7. Crazy Horse

        I’ve always wondered how we Americans can sit at home at our carefully monitored computers and “know” what the comparative morality of other governments and sectarian movements halfway around the world is. The principle that all governments lie all of the time when it suits the interests of those in power is fairly reliable, but it does require boots on the ground (the commentators) to become credible.

        So where are your boots planted?

      8. Whistling in the Dark

        Yes, Assad is bad man. I don’t have to even know any of the details to know that. He deserves all kinds of heyull. Go give it to him. And don’t forget to kill all the bad men you see along the road to Damascus. Oh, and if you happen to see buddha along the road, kill him too. Or, just get some young heroes (or, whatever, single-felons) to do it for you.

        Justice! All we want is justice! Just little ol’ justice. Beyond a reasonable doubt?

        Here is something relevant, from 1989; write theologians Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, relating a conversation had between some intellectual, political, and moral enthusiasts–college students at a certain ambitious private university in Durham, NC –not unlike the present conversation and many others since, no doubt:

        “Sometime ago, when the Unites States bombed military and civilian targets in Libya, a debate raged concerning the morality of that act. One of us witnessed an informal gathering of students who argued the morality of bombing Libya. Some thought it was immoral, others that it was moral. At one point in the argument, one of the students turned and said, ‘Well, preacher, what do you think?’

        “I said that, as a Christian, I could never support bombing, particularly the bombing of civilians, as an ethical act.

        “‘That’s just what we expected you to say,’ said another. ‘That’s typical of you Christians. Always on the high moral ground, aren’t you? You get so upset when a terrorist guns down a little girl in an airport, but when President Reagan tries to set things right, you get indignant when a few Libyans get hurt.’

        “The assumption seems to be that there are only two political options: Either conservative support of the administration, or liberal condemnation of the administration followed by efforts to let the U.N. handle it.

        “‘You know, you have a point,’ I said. ‘What would be a Christian response to this?’ Then I answered, right off the top of my head, ‘A Christian response might be that tomorrow morning The United Methodist Church announces that it is sending a thousand missionaries to Libya. We have discovered that it is fertile field for the gospel. We know how to send missionaries. Here is at least a traditional Christian response.’

        “‘You can’t do that,’ said my adversary.

        “‘Why?’ I asked.

        “‘Because it’s illegal to travel in Libya. President Reagan will not give you a visa to go there.’

        “‘No! That’s not right,’ I said. ‘I’ll admit that we can’t go to Libya, but not because of President Reagan. We can’t go there because [we don’t have the guts –Ed.].'”

        So what?

        What happens when we develop moral justifications for the acts of the government which we have either little control over or are doing little to affect, aside from the perhaps important act of advocacy through speech?

        So, here we are… trying to invent a moral calculus! We want justice–but wouldn’t it be nice, to boot, if we can convince ourselves that our efforts toward that end are not in vain? For that we need intellectuals and some idea of incremental progress. Some hope?

        And what’s the problem with piles of reeking corpses? You got it! The stench! How can anyone live–how can you maintain this hope of incremental progress in the face of something so debilitatingly stark? Didn’t the Holocaust cause a serious crisis of consciousness (conscience, some say, as they were implicated–some, right?) among those who place hopes in the progress of humanity through intellect?

        So, the choice has come down to hand-wringing on the moral high ground, or putting on our man-gloves for some dirty ass-kicking, pencil-pushing-cum-apologia-for-the-imminent?

        You forgot. There is always a second possibility (to these two)–don’t be spectator. Go and die with your fellow objects of high-crimes-against-humanity (crimes against the hopes of humanity! death to the perpetrators!) This is an option. I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but there you go–this is a morally superior position. Or whatever. Don’t be a spectator: We all know that somehow this war has to do with oil. Don’t be a spectator: Never drive your car again. … Or, let’s drives our cars to DC and abandon the fukkers throughout that ridiculous wagon wheel of a city. “The million car march.” Now. And we walk/bike/take the train/public transpo/Chinatown bus home. Nah, what’s the point: After all, we need our cars to further human progress, silly im-poster. Don’t be a spectator: Or, at least have the decency to mourn the actions which our leaders are willing to take on our behalf and which will inevitably cost yet more blood-shed (and, then, eventually, various forms of profit, but oh well). This is the job of a Caesar, after all. One doesn’t need to endorse it to make it any more or less so.

        To put it another way: One doesn’t need to dress up violence in intellectual garb in order to justify it. Rather, it justifies itself perfectly well through its ends. What needs justification, or defense, really, is the idea that some sort of growth or progress in justice away from this barbaric rule of the past is possible, and that the same will not be our legacy as well.

        And are we so sure about that?

        Look, I’m not. But I refuse to be sweet-talked. This is like foreplay for war! You know, the only way to get democracies to fight a war is to get them to believe in it, no? It’s not enough that Caesar says.. well, however you say ‘go’ in Latin. As self-made individuals, we demand also some pillow talk before lying down in our velvety, red-white-and-blue-draped grave. Because, you know, we have rights, dammit. And, so, Assad is just one among many–but one of the more urgent!–obstructions on that path to human progress. Go forth: You, who march first, clearing the way for the rest of us, doing the dirty-work– what with your leathery brush-clearing gloves and rhetorical bushwhackers–you are our vital Princes of the intellect, whose actions (excuse me, words) we can never besmirch if by the time we set on reflecting on them we are standing in the new era of a more just, and less imperfect, and more humane humanity.

        Phew, I’m sa-tired after that last passage. So, we have a Caesar and we render unto him the bad men for dispatch. What else is new? Hail Caesar.

        1. Synopticist

          Millband’s been such a geeky, nerdy guy all his life, perhaps the NSA don’t have anything on him?

  3. skippy

    @Antidote du jour:

    Hello… up for a bit of biffo… root… or just bask in the sun… occasionally squinting at each other…

    skippy… in the end… were still a mob… always will be… till the curtain close…

    PS. Ring thingo on the tail… don’t ask… groggy weekend~

  4. allcoppedout

    I’ve been toggling between our mainstream news for a couple of days and not heard a beep on the poll Mexico mentions – produced for our second worst tabloid. The idea there is any debate on Syria here is hapless, even though a combination of Labour and Liberal Democrats could vote down action tomorrow.

    Really good (and very depressing) links today.

    “Apparently for the neocons, just like for the financial sector and its one true faith, neoliberalism, a history of proven failures counts for nothing.”

    Well said that man! And all so 75% of kids in US schools go hungry!

    1. David Lentini

      Who said neoliberalism is a failure? It made those guys rich and powerful and produced a new generation of oligarchs and plutocrats. From their perspective, and theirs is the only one that counts, neoliberalism has been a unbridled success.

      1. real

        Modern liberals tear down what is good, elevate what is evil until they meet in the middle and there is no reason to fight. This is utopia in the mind of most modern liberals. Their childish psyches never grew out of the “don’t hit” playground stage. The result is that modern liberals make decisions that place wrong over right, evil over good, and outcomes that lead to failure over outcomes that lead to success every time.

        1. hunkerdown

          Neoliberalism is a specific ideology, much closer to neoconservatism than classical liberalism in outcome. Please do save your phatic communication (dog whistles) for your own.

    2. psychohistorian

      Children can not learn if they are hungry. This is class genocide writ large and will assuredly end badly for our species.

      How can a sane species do this to its future?

      Sad, sick and stupid.

      1. colinc

        Please, pray tell what evidence might you have to verify that the species to which you refer is, in fact, “sane”? Would a lack of such substantiation be antithetical to modern game theroy which seems to be the basis for most policy decisions?

          1. colinc

            Therefore, with apologies to Cmdr. Spock…

            The lies of the many outweigh the truth of the one.

            Personally, I see little evidence supporting the assertion that more than an extremely minute fraction of this planet’s population (especially those in the USA) is in any way “sane.” Belief (sans demonstrable evidence) and faith are no indication of sanity or even sentience. In other words, a lie, any lie, told frequently and loudly and agreeable to the majority is still a lie.

            1. psychohistorian

              I like the Spock quote, thanks.

              Along the same line…..Since taking the side mirror off a Chevy Avalanche in 2006 with the back of my bicycle helmeted head at highway speed I have been “moved” to ask folks I talk to: “Are you more than your body?”

              99+% of the respondents (Americans) assure me they are but when pressed about the details they get very upset and defensive……I have stopped asking folks….grin

              1. colinc

                Sorry to hear about your encounter with the Chevy. Apparently there was a “loose nut holding the wheel.” Far too common a “problem.” :( Glad that it was not a terminal event, I’ve enjoyed your commentary on this site over the past years.

                Regarding the hemming and hawing of the 99% to your query, I am confident I know exactly what you mean. I’ve had similar experience to similarly “broad” questions. Sad, really, that so many seem content in (to?) their clueless assimilation. If you may be so inclined, I’ll violate a “cardinal rule” by stating golfwalker “residing” in hot mail (sans space, w/typical “suffix”) would be delighted by your presence. :) Others, too, would be welcome (at least initially). :))

      1. mookie

        It’s not 75% of kids, it’s 73% of teachers that report having [some] students show up to school hungry. Data sourced from this glossy report, paid for by C&S Wholesale Grocers (America’s 10th biggest private company), advocating after-bell breakfast in the classroom. I think it’s safe to say that hunger in schools is a problem AND that there are commercial forces at work eagerly seeking government money in part by providing readymade clickbait like the Think Progress piece linked above.

    3. LucyLulu

      I must make a nitpicky but rather important correction to your logic:

      An assertion that “75% (or three-quarters) of teachers have hungry students” does not imply that “75% of students are hungry”.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Jello Biafra’s words from 25 years ago sound remarkably relevant today.

        Greetings. This is the Secretary of War at the State Department of the United States.
        We have a problem.
        The companies want something done about this sluggish world economic situation.
        Profits have been running more than a little thin lately and we need to stimulate some growth.


        The companies think it’s time we all sit down, have a serious get-together,
        And start another war.

          1. Ned Ludd

            That’s a great song. So many punk songs from the 1980’s could be re-released today, with only minor changes to the lyrics.

            No wonder others hate us
            And the Hitlers we handpick
            To bleed the people dry for our evil empire

            The drug we’re fed to make us like it
            Is God and country with a bang
            People we know, who should know better
            Howl “America rules, let’s go to war!”
            Business scams are what’s worth dying for […]

            Let’s bring it all down!
            Let’s bring It all down!
            Let’s bring it all
            Down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down!

          1. Ned Ludd

            Thanks for the link. “After all have you noticed, that the more they dole out freedom over there, the more they take it away over here.”

  5. Skeptic

    Bank Chairman Admits TARP Funds Used to Purchase Luxury Vacation Property

    According to the story, $381,000 was misappropriated by one Darryl Woods. So why, out of all the really serious thieves we know about, was this poor soul selected for prosecution?

    “Fred, we need a prosecution fast, whattya got?” Or was Darryl on the wrong side of a poker hand or maybe bonking some DOJ’s main squeeze?

    The most famous example of this is Canada’s Lord Black of Crossharbour (with a U please) who apparently stepped on the Wrong Toes in that Toddlin’ Town. So someone in Cheecago decided that the Lord was good for prosecution. Apparently, the Lord did not understand that what was good in Toronto and London did not go down so well in Illinois, birthplace of Da Mob. After all, those nice folks in Canada and England never had a problem with his activities.

    So, out of all the really outstanding financial criminals of our time, Lord Black was one of the very few prosecuted and he’s a furriner to boot.

    Anyway, be polite in Chicago and stay on good terms with federal .governors who work at the Who We Gonna Prosecute Division.

    1. Expat

      As the late Chief Justice Rehnquist observed albeit in another context, even if Conrad Black was not guilty of that of which he was convicted, he was undoubtedly guilty of some infraction deserving imprisonment. Also, as I recall, the Bush government pursued Martha Stewart until it got her behind bars. Although the spectacle of millionaires in jail or prison always invites schadenfreude, it’s also a distraction from the failure to prosecute the true crimes of the rich.

    2. JEHR

      Lord Black is NOT an example of prosecutions-gone-wrong; rather, his case is an example of prosecuting for the right reasons (he was ordered by the judge not to remove documents from his office and he removed them anyway!). On the other hand, there are bank executives in the US who have caused far more harm to a larger number of people and they are apparently untouchable. Rule of Law no longer exists!

    3. Synopticist

      Conrad Black thought that being an oligarch was enough in itself to escape the legal consequences of his criminal actions. He never paid his dues to the Kochs and the Washington money mills, the pro-oligarch thinktanks and the like. He was happy to play that game in the UK and Canada, but when it came to the US he was too mean and greedy. He never put his own hand in his pocket, but rode on the other oligarchs coat tails, which they obviously resented.

      It’s like Bear Sterns, who didn’t contribute to the LTCM bailout back in the day. So their arses weren’t rescued when the sh*t hit the fan.

  6. David Lentini

    Guys, must you really link to tripe like Mark Thoma’s butt-kissing of Milton Friedman and the Fed? How is turing the banks and banksters into history’s greatest welfare queens such a great deal? And why have our politicians forsaken the fiscal side of the equation? Because that TARP money pays for lobbysts and PR campaigns to keep the stimulus to the barest minimum possible.

    And notice how Thoma completely ignores the key lesson of regulatory oversight—the lesson that the Fed had learned and then deliberately unlearned care of his buddies Summers and Geithner.

    Why do you insist on ruining my breakfast?

    1. Tyler Healey

      I agree with Thoma’s statement in 2010 that we “need to reexamine unemployment compensation, food stamps, and other existing automatic stabilizers and improve them as best we can.”

      Unemployment compensation should be paid for by the federal government and the minimum weekly compensation should be $1000. In addition, there should be a trigger for it to expire only when the national unemployment rate reaches one percent, which was Keynes’ definition of full employment.

    2. Walter Map

      Given present trends, the state of your breakfast may soon become the least of your worries.

      The fact that Finance has gone in for welfare on an industrial scale is not nearly so alarming as what they’re using the money for – buying out the U.S. economy in a fire sale after having blown it up themselves:

      The Leveraged Buyout of America

      In a few short years humankind won’t just be lurching from one horrific scandal to the next, it will be lurching from one devastating catastrophe to the next.

      Corporatism has gone far beyond the distortions of the Chicago school. At this point even Milton Friedman would be traumatised.

      The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny.

      Free to Choose

      Amerika, bleiche Mutter!
      Wie haben deine Söhne dich zugerichtet
      Daß du unter den Völkern sitzest
      Ein Gespött oder eine Furcht!

  7. Walter Map

    What Michael Winston knows about corporate crimes will horrify you. That’s why financial giants want to destroy him

    NC readers would no doubt be horrified by what Winston knows as well, and yet completely unsurprised.

    Corporatism has become an openly malevolent pestilence on a global scale and is completely out of control. Civilization is getting frog-marched by psychopathic overlords (and overladies) into a very dark place from which it never may return.

    1. psychohistorian

      Corporatism is a thing created by people and directed by them.

      It is these people that own and direct the corporations that have become an openly malevolent pestilence on a global scale and are totally out of control.

      It is my belief that inheritance over the centuries have given these people ongoing and accumulating power and control. While inheritance may be good in some ways, the sociopathic entitlement attitude it breeds combined with the faith based belief in the Rapture and abuse of the physical world are sending our species into extinction.

      As we all sit here and spout textual white noise to drown out the screaming…………….

      1. shutter

        psycho… I agree, inheritance gives the evil accumulators of wealth a leg-up with each generation. In fact, aside from their evil natures, the only thing different about the Owners is their understanding of the power of inheritance. Its like compound interest over generations. The drones refuse to see its unequal leverage.

        You’ll never see the Owners driving an RV with a bumper sticker on the back that says “I’m spending my kid’s inheritance”.

      2. real

        best comment psycho…
        the old rule of wealth doesn’t last over 3 generations is broken..
        american and western elites have wealth running into 5-7th generations…

  8. rich

    Syria: Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?

    by Robert Fisk – 28 August 2013
    If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.

    Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.

    The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.

    This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House – nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida – though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates. But it does raise some interesting possibilities.

    1. Crazy Horse

      “Does Obama (know) care that he is fighting on Al-Qaeda’s side?” Of course not.

      Read your history a little bit closer. Was not Osama bin Laden and the fledgling Al-Qaeda a CIA asset during the anti-Soviet campaign that eventually ousted the Soviets from the poppy fields of Afghanistan? A clandestine war financed largely by the US CIA and profits from heroin production? Didn’t George Bush the First have a well known business association with the wealthy Bin Laden family? Was that only about the Bin Laden construction business in Saudi Arabia or was it cover for other activities? After all Bush the First had been the head of the CIA—.

      Fast forward a decade. Anyone who acknowledges the laws of physics and studies the evidence surrounding the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and Building 7 can only arrive at the conclusion than that they were brought down by planned demolition charges placed in advance. Who supplied the 19 zealots that provided the diversion of airplanes flying into two of the three buildings? Usefull “assets” indeed.

      The end result—the legitimization of the National Security State, the suspension of the rule of law regarding financial crimes, and a populace too filled with fear to think clearly or question official propaganda.

  9. Tyler Healey

    Lew: “Obama not negotiating over debt limit”

    Yeah, right. As an FYI, the GOP is slated to keep the House and possibly gain the Senate in 2014, which means this stuff is going to continue.

    I’m beginning to agree with Chris Hedges that we need to devise a strategy for change that does not involve winning elections.

    1. PQS

      Yes, I keep hearing from the “left” that “Well, the GOP has gerrymandered everything in their favor, so there won’t be any changes in the House for a long time. The crazies are all in safe districts., blah blah blah.”

      Sounds like a whiny white flag to me. No self respecting RightWinger would let a simple thing like gerrymandered districting get in the way of power accumulation.

      Just another way the Left is Lame……

      1. Alexa

        You nailed it, PQS!

        Frankly, it appears that many on the so-called left are simply mouthing platitudes about wanting to “protect” Social Security, etc.

        All one has to do is observe.

        We are literally approaching another faux “fiscal crisis,” which I am convinced with lead to at least the passage and implementation of the “Chained CPI” and deep cuts to Medicare–and indirectly, Medigap insurance.

        Yet in regard to proposed “entitlement cuts,” most progressive blogs are so quiet on this topic (at this time), that “You can hear a pin drop.”

        Go figure . . .

  10. Yearning to Learn

    “Lew: Obama not negotiating over debt limit CNBC”

    The money quote:
    The president is “prepared to do tough things on entitlement programs,” Lew said. “But those tough actions … require balance in terms of revenue, both for fairness and because for economic results.”

    Obama is just itching to slash medicare and SS. It’ll be his crowning achievement, and get him those $500,000/speech fees.

    of COURSE he won’t negotiate over the debt limit. he won’t have to. He’ll just give in like he always does, since that’s what he wants to do in the first place. He only has to pretend to fight against the Repbulicans.

    I’ve saved this quote from earlier in the year, and read it again and again if I ever dare forget who Obama is:

    The proposals that I put forward during the fiscal cliff negotiations in discussions with Speaker Boehner and others are still very much on the table. I just want to repeat: The deals that I put forward, the balanced approach of spending cuts and entitlement reform and tax reform that I put forward are still on the table.

    I’ve offered sensible reforms to Medicare and other entitlements, and my health care proposals achieve the same amount of savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms that have been proposed by the [my hand-picked] bipartisan Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “Ahem! Boehner? Calling Boehner! Are you there? You’re obviously not getting it, and I don’t have much time left, so let me repeat, more clearly. I am ready and eager to gut Social Security, destroy Medicare, and shred the remainder of the social safety net. Of course we’ll have to do the usual pro mud-wrestling: you’ll have to call me a Kenyan Muslim Socialist-Marxist, and I’ll just look earnest, smile, and pretend it’s true, but we need to get this done. We’ve got the debt ceiling and another war coming, and there’s no better time to inflict austerity than when you call for supporting the troops.”

      1. hunkerdown

        “Uh, John, I said, I’m soooo drunk and I promise I’ll drop the charges after the vote” seems to capture more of the desperation.

  11. psychohistorian

    I can’t stand to read Thoma anymore. He teaches in Oregon where I live and it is sickening to think about the myth of economics this man expounds to the young near me.

    How does he delude himself into thinking he is doing a service for mankind? He is a myth maker to cover for the plutocrats who historically make all major capital decisions like the car culture, Fukushima, and wars against anything and everything to maintain control……the invisible hand.

  12. Skeptic

    Jerry Brown seeks $315M to avoid mass release of prisoners

    Good Heavens, our public officials overlook the most obvious of solutions. Apply the Wall Street Principle: don’t ever prosecute anyone for anything. Result: no prisoners to release.

    Where do I get my consulting fee?

  13. Walter Map

    I can feel my soul getting numb.

    I’ll try to rejoin these discussions after the paralysis has subsided a bit.

    Noch weiz ich an im mêre
    Daz mir ist bekant,
    Einen lintrachen
    Sluoc des heldes hant,
    Er badet sich in dem bluote:
    Sîn hût wart hurnîn,
    Des snîdet in kein wâfen:
    Daz ist dicke worden schîn.

  14. myshkin

    The Guardian reports Iran is considering suing the US over its participation in the 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh. Perhaps a class action suit should be considered, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Congo, Chile, Cuba, and others could join in.

    They may not get much compensation but it might be instructive and enlghtening for the US public if the weight of a massive legal case in the ICC, brought by a sizable portion of world’s countries, broke through the substantial protective shell of sports and infotainment that keeps them largely ignorant of recent US history.

  15. Expat

    …”California keeps getting told that they are violating the 8th Amendment by imparting cruel and unusual punishment on prisoners…”

    Is anyone else as upset as I am that the self-styled constitutionalist Scalia claims that a violation of the 8th amendment occurs only when the punishment is cruel AND unusual? Surely a person who has risen to such great heights in the legal profession has heard of the commonly used rhetorical device “hendiadys,” which means, literally, “one by means of two,” and tends to be used for emphasis (“try and do it,” or “this soup is nice and hot”).

    Scalia is demonstrably a knave and a liar (a knavish liar?) since his act of misinterpreting the American language (not to mention the obvious intent of the Constitution) not only increases the suffering of the vulnerable but serves to shrink the level of nuance and expression among English speakers, as George Orwell might have observed.

  16. Expat

    Re: the Wash Post’s history of maximizing shareholder value
    Two things:

    1) “Maximizing shareholder value” was a government policy, if you consider judges to be part of the government. Famously, Henry Ford’s $5-a-day scheme was outlawed by some judge who ruled that to do anything but maximize the return to investors violated the law. Like most judges, he was ignorant of the most basic operations of society and the economy and either wittingly or unwittingly put American capitalism on the path to its neofeudal height that we suffer from today.

    It’s interesting that this accumulation principle took so long to penetrate the corporate boardroom. Perhaps this delayed reaction can be attributed to the sudden lowering of tax rates on the super-rich under Reagan-Bush.

    2) I suspect that in the scheme of things this article truly signifies the end of “maximizing shareholder value” as government policy. As the fracking frenzy — so aptly compared to a gold rush and about as socially valuable — indicates, government policy now favours bubbles. Perhaps because George Soros attributes his vast wealth to the observation that in contrast to economic dogma a market economy is wracked by bubbles and this instability produces billionaires?

    The only costs have been the impoverishment of the 99.9%, the destruction of Earth’s ability to support human life, and the disempowerment of all the institutions that could save the human race from doom.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the government has a 20%, 30%, or whatever the tax rate is, claim on corporate income, that’s a claim of equity, in reality.

      In other words, the government, i.e. the people, are also shareholders.

      In many cases, owning 20% of the equity makes you the majority shareholder.

  17. ex-PFC Chuck

    Re the WaPo piece on maximizing shareholder value

    Anthropologist Karen Ho, in her fascinating book Liquidated: An Ethnography Of Wall Street, addresses the pernicious impact of the focus on shareholder value in considerable detail. She argues that the apotheosizing of shareholder value, and the resultant deeply deleterious effects on societies, grew out of a mixture of the assumptions of neoclassical economics and the inherent no-plan business plans of investment banks:

    “Historically, in the financial market system of U.S. capitalism, the founders/owners could ‘cash out’ of their business while keeping the enterprise intact by assigning a stock value to it, translating their state into cash by selling the stock and leaving the enterprise and control in the hands of managers and other employees. In a sense, shareholders have exchange cash for shares of stock, not control, but according to neoclassical values, this transaction legitimizes the shareholder as the new owner and controller of the corporation, and thus the only recipient of all corporate largess . . . With this symbolic as well as monetary transfer, the shareholder now symbolized and ‘stood in’ for the whole of the corporation and became the sole locus of concern and analysis. The neoclassical theory of the modern corporation, then, combined the notions of private property, ownership, self-interest, and profit maximization in the body of the shareholder. The reimagining of the shareholder as embodiment of the corporation enabled neoclassical advocates to rationalize that the corporate interest was identical with the self-interest of the shareholder. As such in the transition from owner/entrepreneur/family firms to large corporations, neoclassicism understands the shareholder to be the only ‘natural’ successor to the original owner-entrepreneur of the firm, the only legitimate recipient of property transfer because of the assumption that property should be kept ‘private’ and passed on from owner to owner. . .

    “The modern corporation could have revolutionized the dominant economic and business ideologies of the time. [David] Schrader [writing in The Corporation as Anomaly, 1993] describes it as ‘a genuine collective entity that features a very conscious “visible hand” type of coordination of economic activity,’ and argues that ‘a recognition of the collective and consciously coordinating character of modern business must sooner or later force a modification in economic theory.’ What occurred instead was itself revolutionary, for economic theorists and advocates of shareholder value were able to adapt the modern corporation into an ideology that had been ‘designed to talk about individual agents’. In the neoclassical imagination, the goal of all economic enterprises is to be able to narrowly pinpoint and quantify ‘ownership’ of private property, yet the very structures of modern corporations – given their negotiations of multiple constituencies from workers to managers to community – resisted this framework. Faced with this stark conflict of values and organizational form, a choice had to be made – whether to reject neoclassical values as incapable of explaining this new socioeconomic phenomenon, or rather to force these values onto the corporation in an attempt to change the very structure into one governed by the terms of neoclassicism. Instead of abandoning the ‘laws discovered by previous generations of economics theorists,’ which ‘failed to be operative in a world in which a significant number of economic agents were corporate in nature,’ advocates of neoclassical proprietorship used the very theory which predicted the demise of managerial corporations to explain the success of (their version of) the corporation [Schrader[. They extended Adam Smith’s legacy by forging his stamp of approval on a form of organization he believed was destined to fail. This silent revolution for shareholder value came at a great price, sowing the seeds for the dismantling of the corporation in the name of the shareholder. Although this translation, finally accomplished in the late twentieth century, was nominally in favor of the individualized masses of shareholders, ultimately it benefited Wall Street dealmakers and advisors, and, to some extent large-scale investors in the stock market. This discursive and practical reorganization laid the foundations for a form of social violence tantmount to the institutional erasure of interest of all groups concerned beside shareholders – or rather, their proxies.” p 174-176

  18. real

    Child Hunger So Common That Three-Quarters Of Teachers Have Hungry Students
    raising children is parents job..not of govt…seems like anachromnism to some but that how it has worked in past history of humanity and that is how it will be in future
    the news may be true but always look at the source..progressives,from last 100 yrs used this strategy…expose a flaw in society;start a huge propaganda against some dominant group-blame them for it;expose them as evil,greedy murderers;bring a complicated law;create huge bureaucratic apparatus;give top jobs to women from top liberal families,;lough back billions in family vault…
    this news is just small step in propaganda

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s the hard part – the problem is real, but the solution is not apparent.

      False saviors are always waiting to that opportunity for them to promise your salvation…through them.

    2. Hugh

      Nice bob and weave. Admit the evil but then condemn any who might criticize those who perpetrated it. Hungry children in the world’s richest and most powerful country is a crime, and no matter how you try it can not be spun away.

        1. F. Beard

          Got anyone in mind?

          I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? John 5:41-44 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            1. F. Beard

              And then there’s fearful, obstructionist gold-bugs like yourself. A gold-bug Buddhist, no less. Doesn’t say much for your belief system.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I don’t want to say you are wrong.

                A better way of saying would be, you are off the mark.

                Even better would be permitting people to volunteer their person information, instead of interrogating or assuming.

                I would like to keep my spirituality out of this, if Lambert and Yves have no problem with it. No one likes risking getting stoned, or being intimated like that or threatened with a stick to the head. I don’t even feel safe talking about the Venus of Laussel, Quatzalcoatl or Chaac (or chac).

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Your belief system is not what you say or are able to quote at length.

                    It’s what you do.

                    1. F. Beard

                      And your authority for that statement is?

                      But what do you do? You make snide attacks on the MMT guys without offering constructive criticism. Instead, you promote tax increases, a sure fire method to prolong this depression.

                    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      That’s a good question.

                      Your belief is system is what you – the authority of that statement is based on the degree people willing to buy into that.

                      Some people agree and here is its authority.

                      Some people don’t and the statement has no authority on them.

                      As for MMTers, I thought you said you knew more than them.

                  2. AbyNormal

                    Robert E. Kennedy, S.J., is an American Catholic priest and a Zen master. Ordained a priest in Japan in 1965, he was installed as a Zen teacher in 1991 and was given the title Roshi or master in 1997. Kennedy teaches theology and Japanese at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey and is a practicing psychotherapist in New York City. His books include “Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit” and “Zen Gifts to Christians.” Kennedy sits with his Zen students daily at the Morning Star Zendo in Jersey City, NJ.

                    I became involved in Zen through my work in Japan during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. At that time, there were many Jesuits who were engaged in interfaith work with Zen Buddhists. It was through these Jesuits that I came upon the Buddhist ideal of the enlightened life.

                    What is an enlightened life?

                    “Enlightened life” is a Buddhist term for a life that is based upon wisdom and compassion. Specifically, it is a Jesuit ideal to bring gifts of greater worth to the church. This experience of wisdom and compassion is a great Buddhist gift that I thought could enrich the church in an interfaith manner.

                    What does it mean to “study Zen?” How does one go about it?

                    Zen must be understood as a verb. In other words, it is the act of doing. What you are doing when you study Zen is nothing other than practicing a compassionate life.

                    More specifically, the practice of Zen is the practice of paying attention in a way that is both sustained and communal. As we know from the work of Simone Weil, prayer is nothing other than paying attention.

                    1. AbyNormal

                      i find people like Merton inspiring. they’re fearless with an inner quest that drives thru dogmas…they can’t help themselves really. i look forward to reading The Seven Story Mtn…im reading Soul Mtn at the moment.

        2. craazyman

          “Bring on the new messiah
          Wherever they may roam shiver
          And say the words of every lie you’ve heard
          First i’m gonna make it then i’m gonna break it
          ’till it falls apart hating all the faking
          And shaking while you’re breaking my brittle heart”

          -Echo and the Bunnymen, Bring on the Dancing Horses

          These guys were just so good I couldn’t believe it. I actually bought one of their albums twice. I had forgotten I bought it the first time and was so psyched up I bought it and brough it home and saw the same CD there in my CD rack. faaaaaaak. I kept both of them.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Good decision and you will never regret it, as they will only appreciate in value, along with hand crank record players.

          2. kate

            nice, c-man. and how do you like the mekons—empire of the senseless, dreams black and blue I am crazy—(the mekons rock and roll, doncha know)

            1. craazyman

              faaaak I’ll check ’em out if their on youtube. I’ll check em out tonight.

              Mostly my music familiarity stopped with Led Zepplin and bong hits.

              Then I discovered Adele when I heard her song “Someone Like You” playing on a radio when I was buying soup at a delicatessen. Then I looked it up on Youtube and thought “Holy Faaaakin shit this is good!” Then I realized she did “Rolling in the Deep” too. And then it was just like, Holy Shit. Then there’s Muddy Waters doing “Mojo Risin”. The dude is dead and his Mojo Rises like a sun every time I go to youtube.

              It’s amazing, the sun. The sun in your mind. That’s the Messiah. Faaaakk. how can the Lord have a house anywere on the earth. It doesn’t make any sense. He lives on Youtube and you can hear him whenever you want.

              1. skippy

                They should have gone with the sandpaper jacket, as originally planned, wreaks other album covers next to it…. Hahaa~

    3. Andrea


      On: “Child Hunger So Common That Three-Quarters Of Teachers Have Hungry Students.”

      These are of course bad, skewed nos, not meaningful in any way.

      However, that many children in the US are hungry or eating so badly as to be judged by pediatricians or other experts as having their development compromised, and be suffering, is true. .. In the ‘richest’ country in the world!

      With 46 million or so ppl (mostly parents) on food stamps – which are insufficient to pay for good food – it is unsurprising. Or the stats of the children living under the poverty line, 1 in 5 to 1 in 7… Yet, those don’t explain the lack of nutritious food for children, poverty is relative.

      In many far poorer countries children eat fine. In Lithuania, Colombia, Morocco, Spain, Mongolia, .etc.

      The minimal palliative US social aid systems is designed to cost as little as possible, (and to be reduced soon), to prevent hunger riots, while forcing the poor to give up some of their meagre resources to Big Corps. E.g. to JP Morgan, who controls the SNAP system and takes a huge rake off; to big Corps who sell junk processed foods, to the detriment of local fresh foods, Big Agri killing local stuff off pronto.

      When the profit motive destroys the social tissue, or common good, of local food cum trade, it is partly because children are considered a demographic that can be squeezed to dire straits…The added benefit is that parents will keep on struggling and bowing their heads down, accepting any jobs or indignity to feed their children, be it only with canned beans and processed potatoes, with a treat being industrial ice cream. Slaves on the old plantations were certainly better off. Nutritionally.

  19. armchair

    The link below proves that at least one bar association is taking at least one action against at least one lawyer involved in the mortgage arena. The link is to the Washington State Bar Association’s Statement of Concern regarding a lawyer operating a, “business purporting to offer consumers legal services in connection with mortgage loan modification assistance, which businesses receive money from consumers but fail to provide services or to refund money for the unperformed services.” There is not a lot more to it at the link but there is surely a lot of human misery behind the short Statement of Concern.

  20. charles sereno

    Re Syria: The Americanization of Edwina Miliband. Ed, just being a “reluctant” water boy won’t cut it. I know it’s a mountain to climb after Tony (Bubba) Blair. Especially since you’re not first in line. Gotta be original, though, gotta be daring!

  21. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

    There is a so-called Media Stake-Out outside the Security Council Chamber at the UN in New York City. Ten to fifteen minutes ago, the Syrian ambassador to the UN fielded reporter queries in English, French and i suppose Arabic. Media-Stake-Out is on-going live via UN Web Tv :

  22. charles sereno

    Note to NC moderaters: Of course this should moderated to save me from my folly. Thank you for your hard work. You are appreciated.

    Re: AT&T U-verse ad
    As I browse “liberal” websites (including NC), I’m haunted by the one from AT&T wherein Barry and Michelle (from a prior existence) are shown happily boxing merchandise. The ad seemed to have been discontinued temporarily after Obama’s visit to Amazon’s middle class job creation facility. But now, after an attention span pause, it’s back again. Help!!!

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Self-driving cars – that’s easy.

    Really easy.

    The hard one is for them to manufacture self-thinking humans.

    I bet they will never be able to do that in a thousand years.

    1. hunkerdown

      But of course. Ever heard of Conway’s Law? “An organization that produces systems is constrained to producing copies of the organization’s own internal communication structure.” You simply can’t expect a communications structure that enforces specialization (rationalized ignorance) and command authority to produce individuals with an inquisitive yet rational mind. Humans create structures and vice versa.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s possible to produce self-thinking humans.

        One can’t never completely eradicate the human spirit.

        That was how we had herders and shepherds.

        1. F. Beard

          And if they come to conclusions that disagree with yours then they are not “self-thinking” humans?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I am afraid I am going to have to ask you to offer some basis for that conclusion of yours – that I have ever said a person is not self-thinking if he/she doesn’t agree with me.

            In fact, the last time I wrote ‘we should have faith in ourselves,’ you trashed that attempt to encourage self-thinking.

            1. F. Beard

              Faith in ourselves? Is that who soldiers in foxholes pray to when they’re being shelled? Themselves? Is that who you’ll pray to when you’re dying? Yourself?

                1. F. Beard

                  I’m not interested in being “self-thinking” because I’ve been there and done that. Errors are truly endless and I rather not lose myself in a quagmire again. Plus there are sins I am undoubtedly guilty of so I need forgiveness too. Plus I need healing. Plus I need hope for the future. Basically, I need a Savior and if Jesus Christ isn’t Him then there is no one else who even comes close.

                  1. AbyNormal

                    from pg 2 of Father Robert Kennedy’s interview:

                    What do you emphasize in your interfaith teaching of Zen, particularly with those who accompany you on the weekend and weeklong Zen retreats that you conduct frequently throughout the year?

                    I ask students to trust in themselves and to develop their own self-reliance through the practice of Zen. Through self-reliance the student comes to see and to appreciate the many gifts that have been given to each. Is it not God’s will that each of us comes to maturity and confidence in what we have been given? That we come to act like Christ through our daily work and relationships with others? We do so, I believe, when we learn to speak in our own voice.

                    Now having emphasized self-reliance and the expression of God’s will through our own voice, I balance this emphasis by stressing, finally, the unknowability of God. Through Zen we are able to come to grips with the apophatic tradition, or the recognition of the utter mystery of God.

                  2. AbyNormal

                    pg 2 of Father Robert Kennedy’s interview

                    What do you emphasize in your interfaith teaching of Zen, particularly with those who accompany you on the weekend and weeklong Zen retreats that you conduct frequently throughout the year?

                    I ask students to trust in themselves and to develop their own self-reliance through the practice of Zen. Through self-reliance the student comes to see and to appreciate the many gifts that have been given to each. Is it not God’s will that each of us comes to maturity and confidence in what we have been given? That we come to act like Christ through our daily work and relationships with others? We do so, I believe, when we learn to speak in our own voice.

                    Now having emphasized self-reliance and the expression of God’s will through our own voice, I balance this emphasis by stressing, finally, the unknowability of God. Through Zen we are able to come to grips with the apophatic tradition, or the recognition of the utter mystery of God.

                    1. F. Beard

                      Now having emphasized self-reliance and the expression of God’s will through our own voice, I balance this emphasis by stressing, finally, the unknowability of God. Through Zen we are able to come to grips with the apophatic tradition, or the recognition of the utter mystery of God. Father Robert Kennedy

                      All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Luke 10:22 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

                      Gee wiz! Who am I to believe? Jesus Christ or some RCC guy I never heard of?

                    2. AbyNormal

                      What is this mind?
                      Who is hearing these sounds?
                      Do not mistake any state for
                      Self-realization, but continue
                      To ask yourself even more intensely,
                      What is it that hears?

                      ‘good night & good luck’ beard

    1. peace

      Selected quotes from MLK’s Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

      It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. …

      A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. …

      These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. …

      It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. …

      Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. …

      When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. … I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. …

  24. ohmyheck

    We Are All Terrorists Now

    “At one time, the term “terrorist” was used very narrowly. The government applied that label to people like Osama bin Laden and other Islamic jihadists. But now the Obama administration is removing all references to Islam from terror training materials, and instead the term “terrorist” is being applied to large groups of American citizens.”

    Here is the list of 72 types that the Gov’t is trying to label “terrorists”. I doubt anyone I know personally will not have at least one applicable label.

  25. Waking Up

    Putting President Obama and Billionaire Oprah Winfrey front and center while honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. – what can I say but…total hypocrisy. Obama is making plans for another war while he further strips the civil rights of all Americans with the NSA. Do the people at that march even have a clue?

    1. Waking Up

      Would also like to add, maybe for future marches:

      For a march to “save the public schools”, be sure to invite Michelle Rhee and Billionaire Bill Gates as keynote speakers.

      For a march on “economic justice”, invite Eric Holder and Billionaire Warren Buffet as a keynote speaker.

      Makes about as much sense.

      P.S. If someone wants to say Obama and Winfrey were selected as “prominent blacks”, then I truly misunderstood the message of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

      1. Emma

        ……”then I truly misunderstood the message of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.”

        Join the club…..Obama & Winfrey did too!

        1. Emma

          The spotlight should be on remarkable prominent people like Dr Patricia Bath, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Toni Morrison, Tom Joyner, John Henry Thompson, Dr James West, Dr Shirley Jackson, etc. etc.

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