Links 8/4/13

Our Orgastic Future Lapham’s Quarterly (mookie)

“Alternatives” Isn’t a Dirty Economic Word HBR Blog. “The strength of TINA as a governing principle is that it’s simple.”

$100M in natural gas being burned off monthly in ND MSN News (CB)

Wonkbook: The most uncomfortable question in today’s jobs report Wonkbonk, WaPo. “Has there even been an economic recovery?” Simple answers to simple questions: No.

U.S. Cuts Take Increasing Toll on Job Growth Jackie Calmes and Catherine Rampell, Times

Ever Expanding Government Employment Econbrowser

Study: Record Number 21 Million Young Adults Living With Parents CBS (CB)

Top Fed economist slams ‘incoherent’ ECB Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

Big Brother Is Watching Watch

Crying Wolf, Wolf, Wolf Moon of Alabama. At least Bush had the common decency to resort to gaslighting in an election year, not an off year. Let’s just hope the administration doesn’t engineer too much corroborative detail intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

Six blatant lies about spying from the NSA up to Obama Boing Boing

Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles Times

Utah officials seek to exempt NSA center from tax San Francisco Chronicle

Why have so many liberals been silent about NSA spying? Ana Marie Cox, Guardian. Because they’re for it.

NSA spying fuels digital freedom movement; cryptoparties commence The Oregonian

With Snowden now free in Russia, U.S. has few options McClatchy

Manning verdict not a win for journalism CJR

Every day in Guantanamo is Groundhog Day… whether you’re a guard or a prisoner: A gripping dispatch from inside the notorious terrorist detention camp DailyMail

Texas state troopers caught on camera probing women’s privates aren’t isolated incidents: lawyers Daily News 

Paralyzed man sues Delta for making him crawl off plane UPI. Zeitgeist watch.

Pacemakers, Cars, Energy Grids: The Tech That Should Not Be Hackable, Is Minyanville

Big protest at Chevron Richmond refinery is latest example of climate activists stepping up rallies and marches San Jose Mercury News

‘Democratic wing’ of Democratic Party takes on Wall Street Robert Borosage, Reuters. CEOs going to jail?! A Post Office Bank? Oh wait, it’s Yellen v. Summers. Z-z-z-z-z….

Obama-Fueled Speculation on Fed Pick Political Circus Bloomberg.  Geithner’s Obama’s “counselor.” 

Break given to Christel House could have spared two IPS schools from state takeover Indianapolis Star

IMF forecasts alarming Spain unemployment outlook FT

IMF advises Spain to cut wages by 10 percent El Pais

The Attack in Benghazi: Worth Investigating After All The Atlantic

Jobs Gloom Cyprus Daily

The Turkish Left LRB

Fukushima clean-up turns toxic for Japan’s Tepco Reuters. Not good.

What soldiers really did in the second world war FT

The Great War: we are as blind to our times as the innocent lovelorn boy was in 1913 Guardian

Marxism vs social democracy Stumbling and Mumbling

What doux-commerce means to me Magic, Maths, and Money

Has the Rise of Online Shopping Made Traffic Worse? The Atlantic

‘Götterdämmerung’ from Wagner’s ‘Ring’ at Bayreuth FT. 15 minutes of booing. Sad, sad, sad.

Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn Scientific American. If you’ve had to mow the grass this weekend, consider alternatives.

On the Far Side of Progress The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour:


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About Lambert Strether

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


      1. LucyLulu

        Short answer…….. no.

        I was just looking up info about my daughter’s imploding student loans. She’s exceeded the limits for Stafford loans (6.8% for grad students, 1% origination, mostly unsubsidized, i.e. interest not deferred, only repayment…. ) and had to take out some Direct Plus loans starting last spring. These are still through Dept of Ed. Not only do they have a 7.9% interest rate but they have a 4% loan origination fee. Geeeez, talk about highway robbery. I’m glad the government is making such a nice profit off our grad students……. not! Shit, lots of people would like that kind of return on their money right now.

        She’s starting her final year of the 7 year pharmacy program. Tuition at UK was just increased to $36K/yr, up from under $25K three years ago, or $12,000/semester…… same rate for summer terms, which are required three of four (last) professional years. More irking is that being her last year, she has no class work, only internships. Faculty involvement is minimal, and she must provide 40-60 hrs free labor to facilities weekly (and I’d bet almost all do a rotation at UK hospital or clinics so they benefit in that respect). And for this they can justify charging $36K?????

        Students and retirees, who’d ever thunk they’d be the targets for the finance rentiers’ scams? Such moral depravity…… thanks, just needed to vent.

        1. neo-realist

          The rentiers believe that many of the students come from good families that believe in the system and are willing to accept the usury loan rates without much complaint and more importantly without protest. Is there an Occupy wing for parents and students crushed by students loans?

        2. bob

          I’ve been looking for a longer term study on “non-profits”

          Schools, hospitals, health insurance– all of them seem to be larding on debt while increasing their fees.

          Wall st goes non profit. I understand private companies borrowing given their tax incentives, but what possible incentive is there for a non-profit to borrow when it doesn’t need the money?

          The execs making the enormous salaries are only getting a small cut, a finders fee, from what I’ve found.

        1. AbyNormal

          BAHAAHAHHAAAA you know that pooch is screamin inside STOP SCRATCHING THE CAT YEOOOOOOOOOOOOW

          good 1 Diptherio

          Dogs Never Bite Me…just humans.
          marilyn monroe

  1. Ned Ludd

    Ian Murphy is the reporter from The Buffalo Beast who made a prank call to Scott Walker back in 2011, pretending to be David Koch. He just got out of jail after being arrested while filming an exchange between a police officer and some protesters. “We weren’t allowed to tell the jury that they erased the camera. We also weren’t allowed to tell the jury that I was originally charged with harassment for following police officers around with a camera.” John Dolan interviewed Murphy after he was released, where Murphy recounts this horrific incident:

    He was crippled. He couldn’t walk that well with his cane. […]

    He yelled, “Dep [deputy], I need my cane to make a phone call” or whatever and then when I woke up I heard “You can walk your fat ass to the phone without the cane.”

    I looked up and looked over, the guy put his hand up like this. Then the Corrections Officer just put his hand on the guy’s throat and just started punching him in the face.

    And then, about 15 guys ran into the room, just waiting, pouncing on the guy, beating the shit out of him, kidney punches, back of the head, contorting his limbs. The whole time he’s just shouting, “Why are you doing this to me? Why are you doing this to me?” […]

    So after this huge, basically, beating… We’re just all looking on in horror, you know, fighting the urge to help physically or verbally, coz they… one of the later arrival guards said, ‘Turn the fuck around, look the fuck at the wall!’ You know, basically don’t watch us beat this guy. And the subtext was pretty clear – ‘Or else we’ll do it to you.’

    I just finished the first season of Orange is the New Black, a drama largely set within the “prison-industrial complex”. The last third of the season emphasizes how much power guards have over inmates, and it shows how the guards abuse their power. One guard smuggles in drugs to exchange for sex; he then covers up an overdose to look like suicide-by-hanging. A prison counselor throws an inmate into solitary out of apparent jealousy and then fabricates a charge as justification.

      1. ambrit

        This is the time about which future generations will ask; “Why didn’t they fight back?” I really don’t know the answer, but fatalism gets you nowhere. Sometimes I wish I were Gary Cooper in “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” or John Garfield in “We Were Strangers.” What have we got today? “Zero Dark Thirty.” By the way, one of the fellows working at the DIY Boxxstore who served in the Navy says that it should really be pronounced, “O Dark Thirty.” It certainly is getting dark.

          1. ambrit

            I think I get it, but then I get so d—-d depressed.
            I am glad to hear that you are not a fatalist, though I sussed that a while ago.
            The entire question of personality “type” has fascinated me all my life. Sometimes I feel we can go back to the Medieval “Humours” and do quite as well as with any later formulation. How to deal with injustice? Indeed, how to define it? If we follow the famous SCOTUS definition and “know it when we see it,” who is to be the judge?
            The reason I reacted so viscerally to the story is because I have been in the spectators position and been similarly made to feel helpless, and ashamed of my own cowardice.
            Enjoy life, I’m told that’s what it’s there for.

  2. diptherio

    Commenter rich linked to a shorter version of this Vanity Fair piece yesterday. The full version is definitely worth reading, as it sheds light on HFT trading, the de facto criminalization of common programming practices, and the fact that the NY DA apparently is at the beck and call of Goldman Sucks (surprise, surprise). Also, there’s a Victor Frankel-ish bit at the end; the silver-lining to an otherwise dark story.

    Did Goldman Sachs Overstep in Criminally Charging Its Ex-Programmer?

    Guess what the answer is…

    1. AbyNormal

      Viktor: Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose [created by GS].
      So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now![…storming the halls of GS w/burning pitchforks]

      1. LucyLulu

        “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose”

        That is so true!

    1. LucyLulu

      I’ve been known to criticize Washington’s coverage of Fukushima but he pretty well nailed it in this article, at least up until the end. The cleanup HAS been mishandled, in that Tepco was put in charge with essentially no oversight, just as they were put in charge of handling the initial crisis. Japan doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of the problem and that it requires more than one company can reasonably be expected to provide, and that’s assuming that company’s motivations are pure, and profit motives are being ignored*. International assistance has repeatedly been offered only to be largely turned down. Containment, storage, and decontamination of the massive amounts of radioactive water will be an ongoing problem for years to come and the solution requires a global effort.

      *Tepco reported profits recently, from their other power plants (whose rates have been raised due to use of fossil fuels), and with taxpayers footing the bill for the cleanup.

      1. CB

        In TX. Should have been more specific. Evidently, GA has a more gender neutral agenda. Altho, I’d like to see the comparative stats.

      2. AbyNormal

        another Excellent piece TK. i agree bin laden was well learned in our ways, and we’re going to f@ck it up with blowback, again.
        What is it with our inability to absorb and filter 411.

  3. John in Boulder

    I’ve often thought there has been a coverup regarding Benghazi. Plausible scenario is CIA involvement or knowledge of the attack where enough info was known by the heads of both political parties to blunt its usefulness as a political tool. Hence those in the know try and make it go away and those not in the know keep bringing it back.

    1. Frank in McLean

      Individual NATO airstrikes were recorded as killing anywhere between 50-90 people at a time. Just because the mafia decided to gain an advantage by wacking a ripe state, why do we have a used car salesman on TV doing the questioning? This is the same “Arab” who said nasty things about homeowners.

    2. Bill the Psychologist

      My favorite theory is that the right wing NSA/CIA complex wanted the gay ambassador gone and couldn’t do it any other way.

    3. ohmyheck

      The article in the Benghazi link is just odd. It took maybe 2-3 months for the alternative media to start reporting that it was a fact, according to Libyans in Benghazi, that there was going to be a fire-fight, the baracades were in place and they were told to stay inside.

      The Benghazi “mission/embassy” HAD to have seen all of this.

      There was also multiple sources all saying that the “embassy” was a CIA op that was running Libyan guns to Syria, from the port.

      The article is correct in that if the Repugs hadn’t gone all CT/HOF, what really happened in Benghazi may have seen the cold light of day, before the PTB could put the screws (polygraphs) to those who were witnesses.

      The author admits to being hoodwinked. His polygraph info is quite believable, if you believe all the previous reporting. That info is new. The basic info about Benghazi isn’t new, just ingored.

      1. Oh my FoXx News

        Exactly, in the grand scheme of what is going on in Libya, it was a suitable exercise in making a lot of noise in a chosen direction, flag draping, constitional hand wringing, mountains of mole hills. Where’s that mournful 80s face of gimp Ollie North when you need it?

    4. LucyLulu

      It was published almost immediately after the attack that Benghazi was a CIA outpost and not a diplomatic embassy. For some reason, the press downplayed or outright ignored this information, as did Issa in his investigation. Why would anybody expect the truth would be released about a CIA op? There was much speculation early on that it was being used to run arms to Syria. The following was also reported but ignored. I don’t know if it vets out or not, never heard more on this, but one would assume her source, presumably Petraeus, was credible:

      Paula Broadwell, speaking at her alma mater, the University of Denver, October 26, 2012:

      Now, I don’t know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually, um, had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that’s still being vetted.

      The challenging thing for General Petraeus is that in his new position, he’s not allowed to communicate with the press. So he’s known all of this — they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in, in Libya. Within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening.

      1. bob

        It’s a local story. The people in Bengazi don’t care if the CIA is running guns to syria. Hell, a few of them might make some money off that.

        Locally, having the state department/cia supplying arms to groups aligned against the group that staged the raid would make much more sense as a motive.

        “But…Iran! Yemen!”

        1. bob

          “live by the gun, die by the gun”

          Add Bengazi (what makes names with a Z so hot to neocons?) and all of the sudden it’s a deeply confusing.

      2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        I read that too about weapons destined for Syria, and a CIA Annex. Sibel Edmonds (whistleblower) used to work as a translator in FBI counter-intelligence. She left the FBI. According to her, taliban-style fundamentalist muslims have been used by “The West” to fight covert wars by proxy, say in Central Asia. Some of the rebels in Syria are talibanists/jihadists. Turkey’s government may be helping the flow of talibanists/jihadists/weapons to Syria (maybe?).

        1. vachon

          I, uh, wouldn’t be surprised if besides guns being shipped, mercenaries were being shipped to Syria as well. And not just the willing “good guy” fighters from Libya, either. From what I had read months ago, when the Syrian rebels discovered the CIA was sending them jihadist (cough Al Queda)fighters (overflow from the CIA prison), they went crazy and sent them back. And yes, I had also read in the same report that it was the presence of yhe CIA prisoners that precipitated the attack. I’m guessing they hit the wrong location.

      3. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        With respect to jihadists or mujahideen in Syria, mtv Lebanon has an exclusive conversation with what they call “European radicals fighting for an Islamic state in Syria” with the link

    5. bob

      I still don’t see anything “new”.

      The US state Department and the CIA are one in the same. It’s very well documented.

      Now, what was the CIA doing in Bengazi, under the auspices of the state department?

      Is this an admission that there is no longer any difference between the two, from the top?

      It sounds like they were, at the very least, actively engaged in a civil war in another country. As a belligerent. A very well funded belligerent who had risen to be enough of a “threat” to a local group. The locals acted against this.

      So, the story is– it’s no longer news that the US state department is acting as a Guerrilla group inside another country.

      It doesn’t offend the right that the CIA/state dept are doing this. It offends them that they were caught doing it.

  4. Brindle

    Re: “Why have So Many Liberals Been Silent About NSA?”

    Ana Marie Cox mostly pokes around the edges here, either unable or unwilling to see that Liberals (in U.S. govt) are different from Conservatives mainly in matters of style, technique and appearances.
    She does get closer to the matter in her final graf— the reality that another terrorist attack will occur and Liberals don’t want to be seen being soft on deh terrurists.

    —“An attack could produce the desperate acceptance of a security state in an instant. But it is difficult to imagine the incidents that would spur momentum towards a broader movement for and understanding of the right to privacy. And if you can imagine America coming to that – whether it looks like 1984 or Singapore – well, by then it will be too late.—”

    Yes, it’s— because they’re for it.

    1. lakewoebegoner

      “Why have So Many Liberals Been Silent About NSA?””

      same reason why many dogmatic liberals still love Apple or the Eurozone—hypocrisy, tunnel vision, blind cheerleading and cognitive dissonance.

      Dogmatic conservatives aren’t any better.

      1. Brindle

        I think the neoliberal dems ultimately see the NSA operations as a big new “tool” for corporations to have “full spectrum dominance” over the individual– wherever they reside on the planet, whether for marketing purposes or more malevolent actions.

        1. AbyNormal

          So True. just wait till the ‘trained’ dog mauls those hands.

          “We will fight evil, but we will do it from above 15,000 feet.”
          ~Pat Roberts~

          1. Emma

            Ronin (1998 film)
            Sam: Either you’re part of the problem or you’re part of the solution or you’re just part of the landscape.

    2. from Mexico

      Ana Marie Cox seems to be far more interested in exculpating our lords of capital and their paid liars and bumsuckers than holding them accountable.

      The rhetorical strategy she described actually has a name. It’s called “manipulating content with misleading vividness”: “Describing an occurence in vivid detail, even if it is a rare occurence, to convince someone that it is a problem.”

      The lords of capital and their paid liars and bumsuckers — politicans, academics and the MSM — are extremely proficient at using this rhetorical strategy. But instead of pointing out the grotesque extremes which they go to in order to intentionally, deliberately and maliciously mislead the public with this rhetorical strategy, she instead says they must defend themselves from it, as if nothing had ever been done, or ommited to be done, that had led to it.

    3. Jess

      There’s a line early in Cox’s story in which she says “This isn’t about Obama or party loyalty.” The fourth person to comment quoted this line and then wrote, “Bullshit.”

      Exactly right. Nail, meet hammer.

      PS. Is it necessary to point out that Cox is sucking Dem sycophant? Nah, I didn’t think so.

    4. Jim

      Going to MSM sites for coverage of this embassy “scare” is sort of strange…almost every comment is about how this is kabuki distracting Americans from the ongoing NSA debacle, and how it’s a lame attempt at justifying their existence. Now, of course, the comments quickly go awry and turn into name-calling contests, but it’s as though there is this bizarre recognition of reality, by huge swaths of trolls, in these normally useless comment sections.

      What Cox either doesn’t realize, or is very carefully hinting at, is that many people will see the next mysterious overseas terrorist attack as what it will be, a staged event by the US government, in order to justify the new fascist worldwide state. Of course, a majority in the US won’t believe this, but more than a fringe minority will come to the correct conclusion this time.

      The beltway establishment has no clue of the ship that has already set sail…that the vast of majority of the world’s population, and a decent percentage of the American people will never trust the US government about anything ever again. This cuts across all political boundaries, belief systems, and age groups. Cox may still be coming to the correct conclusion of the acceptance of a police state, but possibly not…a very dangerous game has been set in motion by Messrs. Snowdon & Greenwald.

      1. hunkerdown

        The beltway establishment has no clue of the ship that has already set sail…that the vast of majority of the world’s population, and a decent percentage of the American people will never trust the US government about anything ever again.

        Is it ignorance or indifference? Why would they need trust to rule when power is on their side?

      1. ambrit

        Hey bob;
        Don’t let it faze you chum. Greenwald hails from America, while the Guardian, to the best of my knowledge, started out as, and continues to be, a real liberal newspaper.
        As for the police state aspects of the plot, check out “A Very British Coup,” and other offerings on Brit TV.
        These exercises in fiction, often decried as ‘conspiracy theroes,’ and thus the realm of ‘nutters,’ have taken on the aura of Delphic Oracular predictions.

        1. bob

          Waiting with baited breath, and click$, for G3 to let the cum fly at their readers. They’ve got a taint’s eye view.

    5. LucyLulu

      To add to what Yves has been posting about Congress taking action on the NSA….. as well as Democrats (or liberals) not opposing NSA……

      C-Span ran an interview today with Patrick Leahy (VT), Chairman of Senate Judiciary. He says he has looked over all the classified documents and he thinks the NSA has gone too far. He plans to take up legislation to rein their power after returning from summer vacation.

      He also stated quite unambiguously that there has been a coup in Egypt.

  5. Groaning

    ‘member when the other party voted against Bushies unwarrated spying? Now you got the Chris van Hollen, the Pelosi and so forth doing unto we the people, more intensley than the previous so-called other party. The train is hurtling down the right liberal left side of the track while at the same time the smoke is being blown in the opposite bipartisan direction, when we need to have the train following a linear central direction! Go$%am it’s so obvious!

  6. MacCruiskeen

    Re: truck traffic in the streets: this was noticed years ago during the big UPS strike. And that was before everything was online. Fewer UPS trucks in the street meant far smoother traffic flow. But of course this mainly affects cities during business hours. And it doesn’t explain why traffic on highways is so much worse.

    1. anon y'mouse

      because everyone living at Point B works at Point A, and vice versa.

      because needing to be somewhere important quickly defines you as at least a cut above the welfare/walmart proles riding public transit.

      because suburbia.

      because the rushing air (smog) through the window smells like Freedom.

  7. Liberals

    Code for “national security” means mass unemployment, foreclosures, decaying infrastructure, destruction of social safety nets, what other conclusion can be drawn? The terror attacks have been right here, and they’ve already happened.
    Look at Linh Dinh’s pictures, that’s real time devastation cause by the war of terror.
    The foreclosure crisis (for example) is a domestic terror operation that every FIRE sector stooge (that’s most, if not all of ’em in congress) spent time, ignoring, ridiculing, and suppressing. The Drug War is another ongoing, never ending domestic terror operation. When Peter King tells you to be afraid, get ready, they are telling you they are going to pull more shit eventually and are committed to staying the course of fear.

  8. diptherio

    Re: “Alternatives” Isn’t a Dirty Economic Word ~HBR

    Justin Fox is headed in the right direction, basically, but I don’t think he goes nearly far enough. And while he ostensibly refutes the TINA hypothesis, he still perpetuates much of the capitalist mythos. This bit, for instance, irks me:

    There is no attractive alternative economic system out there that we could jump to if we got tired of this capitalism stuff. And we shouldn’t want to — the capitalist era has coincided with a staggering increase in living standards.

    Say it with me, everybody, “correlation is not causation.” Under the feudal system, crop yields increased dramatically, due to adoption of the three-field system of crop rotation (where 1/3 of the land is left fallow each year, as opposed to the earlier system in which 1/2 of the land is left fallow). But feudalism did not cause the increase in yields, it simply co-occurred with it. The advancement in agricultural techniques may just as well have occurred under some other political-economic system.

    And there’s another thing Fox leaves out, which is something that economists generally fail to consider. He says that living standards have been increased, but that is demonstrably false for at least some people. Living standards in Western countries may have improved, but what of the living standards in the non-Western countries whose material and human resources have provided the raw material for the West’s high standard of living. When one weighs in the balance all of the human misery that the capitalist system has created, as well as all of the gains it has allowed, it is not nearly so clear that capitalism has been a net gain.

    My friends in Nepal, now in their early 30’s, can still remember a time in that country when a person could simply walk from village to village, whether on pilgrimage or taking goods to market, with the assurance that wherever one stopped for the night, one would be provided with food and shelter, gratis. Now that the Western world and ethic has throughly penetrated that country, that kind of care-free travel no longer exists. They still have a saying, “the guest is god,” but now the reality is closer to, “the guest is gold.”

    The introduction of the capitalist tourist market, and capitalism generally, worsened the state of much of the ‘peasant’ population by monetizing formerly non-monetary parts of the social and economic system while failing to provide adequate means of access to money. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the quality of life in the village was actually better before the country opened itself to the capitalist world.

    1. anon y'mouse

      “…monetizing formerly non-monetary parts of the social and economic system while failing to provide adequate means of access to money.”

      this is what has happened to most of us, even here in the part of the world that has supposedly reaped the benefit of economic rape (sorry, Lambert) of the rest of the world.

      your sentence summarizes what comes to mind everytime I ponder the fact that it is now necessary for most to have dual income families to just make ends meet, much less support any dependent children. thus, the non-monetary care that used to be provided to both the kids and the elderly parents is not there, necessitating expensive (although not personally well remunerated) childcare experts and (similarly poorly remunerated) home health aides and so on.

      I am constantly confused by an economic system that seems intent on forcing every interaction to become a financial transaction, and simultaneously refuses to pay working people enough to afford to live in such a system. if all of us took a serious tally of all of the services we’d received from birth, we would never crawl out of the debt hole created by our first 18 years of life.

  9. F. Beard

    TINA? I don’t think so. Anyone who understands banking knows that loans create deposits but the purchasing power for those new deposits come from ALL of us. A moral case can therefore be made that at least to the extent purchasing power is lacking in the economy to drive full employment (or some other indicator of general economic well-being) that the general population has been defrauded of that purchasing power and therefor deserves restitution. I’d bet that Margret Thatcher herself, if she had had a modern understanding of banking, would have come to the same inescapable conclusion.

    So yes there is an alternative, most definitely. It’s age old and is called “restitution and reform.” Nor need the restitution necessarily be zero sum in real terms because to the extent that demand deposits are not fully backed by reserves*, new fiat can be distributed to the population until demand deposits are fully backed (100% reserve) without significant price inflation risk if reserve requirements for new loans are raised to 100% at the same time.

    Reform should include abolishing all implicit and explicit government privileges for debt-money creation (credit) and allowing other private money forms, especially non-usury based forms such as common stock, to compete equally on a level playing field wrt to the government’s fiat but only for the payment of private, never government debts.

    * Additional fiat could be distributed until price inflation indicated slack in the economy had been taken up.

    PS: a hint to Christian Churches who might be AWOL wrt basic social justice?

    “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
    I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
    “But let justice roll down like waters
    And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
    Amos 5:23-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

  10. optimader

    Dug this out of favorites for any intrepid sunday readers
    The Power of Stupidity –English translation

    …In that book there is a little essay called The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, which may be the best ever written on the subject.

    Here are the Five Laws of Stupidity according to Carlo Cipolla:

    First Law

    We always underestimate the number of stupid people.

    This is not as obvious as it sounds, says Cipolla, because:
    a.people we had thought to be rational and intelligent suddenly turn out to be unquestionably stupid;

    and after day we are hampered in whatever we do by stupid people who invariably turn up in the least appropriate places.

    He also observes that it is impossible to set a percentage, because any number we choose will be too small.

    Second Law

    The probability of a person being stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

    If you study the frequency of stupidity in the people who come to clean up classrooms after hours, you find that it is much higher than you expected. You assume that this is related to their lower level of education, or to the fact that non-stupid people have better chances of obtaining good jobs. But when you analyze students or University professors (or, I would add, computer programmers) the distribution is exactly the same.

    Militant feminists may be incensed, says Cipolla, but the stupidity factor is the same in both genders (or as many genders, or sexes, as you may choose to consider). No difference in the sigma factor, as Cipolla calls it, can be found by race, color, ethnic heritage, education, etcetera.

    Third (and Golden) Law

    A stupid person is someone who causes damage to another person, or a group of people, without any advantage accruing to himself (or herself) — or even with some resultant self-damage.

    (We shall come back to this, because it is the pivotal concept of the Cipolla Theory.)

    Fourth Law

    Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid people. They constantly forget that at any moment, and in any circumstance, associating with stupid people invariably constitutes an expensive mistake.

    That (I would say) suggests that non-stupid people are a bit stupid — but I shall get back to this point at the end.

    Fifth Law

    A stupid person is the most dangerous person in existence.

    This is probably the most widely understood of the Laws, if only because it is common knowledge that intelligent people, hostile as they might be, are predictable, while stupid people are not. Moreover, its basic corollary:

    A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit

    leads us to the heart of the Cipolla Theory. There are four types of people, he says, depending on their behavior in a transaction:

    Hapless Someone whose actions tend to generate self-damage, but also to create advantage for someone else.Intelligent Someone whose actions tend to generate self-advantage, as well as advantage for others.Bandit Someone whose actions tend to generate self-advantage while causing damage to others.Stupid We already have this definition in the Third Law.
    Professor Cipolla uses a matrix that looks like this:

    1. diptherio

      To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.

      ~Gustave Flaubert

    2. F. Beard

      Seems consistent with Proverbs. Example:

      Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly. Proverbs 17:12

      1. F. Beard

        Oops! Neglected this one:

        Like an archer who wounds everyone,
        so is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by.
        Proverbs 26:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    3. Fortissimo

      That’s a funny book, it’s also remarkable in carrying on a tradition one would assume bombastically faded at the end of WWII. Do we have, today, the equivalent of scientific racism? Perhaps. It’s just far more subtle. Libertarians are on a mission.

      1. optimader’s also remarkable in carrying on a tradition one would assume bombastically faded at the end of WWII..
        …scientific racism…

        I think you should read it first?

  11. Mcmike

    Re: “liberals”.

    No mystery. Simply a premise problem in the question. The answer is that the democratic party is not liberal.

    Rest assured, if/when the gop retakes the white house, roles will reverse somewhat, nearly overnight.

    1. from Mexico

      It seems to me, though, that this is one of those rare events, like the bipartisan effort necessary to pass TARP, which destroy the fiction that the two parties are engaged in some kind of Chiliastic battle which severs the wicked from the just along party lines. If we look at the unholy alliance between Obama, Feinstein and Schumer on the Democratic side with King, Roberts and Chambliss on the Republican side, it becomes pretty obvious that it is not party membership which, to put it in biblical terms, “divideth the sheep from the goats.”

    1. optimader

      …Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

      This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

      And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

      Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans…


      1. gonzomarx

        +1 and say yes to Bonobo ancestors!

        and one of my favourite Hitch-hikers quotes

        “The history of every major galactic civilization has passed through three distinct and recognisable phases: those of survival, inquiry, and sophistication. Otherwise known as the ‘How’, ‘Why’, and ‘Where’ phases. For instance, the first phase is characterised by the question: “How can we eat?” The second by the question: “Why do we eat?” And the third by the question: “Where should we have lunch?”
        The history of warfare is similarly subdivided though here the phases are retribution, anticipation, and diplomacy. Thus, retribution: “I’m going to kill you because you killed my brother.” Anticipation: “I’m going to kill you because I killed your brother.” And diplomacy: “I’m going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.”

        1. optimader

          excellent. I sorely miss D.Adams writing/thoughts.

          I’m listening to HG on my commute, I do this periodically.

  12. Seal

    Forget Obushma’s denial a military coups took place in Egypt – a military coups has taken place in the USA! [Texas trooper cavity searches & Guardian reports of Congress denied info on NSA]

    1. CB

      Agree. You can connect the militarization of American policing with the anything goes attitude of roadside cavity searches: war zone operations. And it’s going to get worse.

  13. F. Beard

    Thumping the religious Right with the Bible, their supposed ultimate authority, at least for Protestants and Baptists:

    5 Biblical Concepts Fundamentalists Just Don’t Understand.

    I haven’t read the entire article yet but it sure looks promising. Liberals and Progressives should learn the Bible which is far more Progressive than they might imagine, especially the Old Testament, and also discover that they dislike the Lord less than they might imagine too, also especially in the Old Testament. Yes, He can be wrathful but for reasons that Libs and Progressives should agree with such as oppression of widows, orphans, aliens and the poor.

    1. bob

      Beard, you’re onto something.

      Start a movement. Team up with feministing and start the lobby for 5 days of mandatory monthly menstruation immuration.

      1. F. Beard

        Immured? No, that’s something sick humanity thought up on its own.

        But I imagine the women enjoyed the 5 day vacation outside the camp doing as they wished away from the men and I bet the men missed* them too and appreciated them more for the absence and likewise for the women.

        Meanwhile, how’s that usury thing working out for you Bible critics? Having fun yet?

        *Not for the sex since that is forbidden anyway during that period.

  14. barrisj

    Oi, Rick Perry, howz that “secession movement” working out for ya??

    Obama overrules FEMA, OKs disaster relief for West, Texas

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry had appealed FEMA’s June denial of additional funding for West, Texas, and requested more than $35 million in assistance.

    WASHINGTON — President Obama overruled the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and signed a declaration that there’s a “major disaster” in West, Texas, because of the fertilizer-plant explosion in April that killed 15 people and destroyed much of the town.

    The decision Friday came a day after Obama signed an executive order implementing a wide range of programs to improve coordination among federal agencies for safety and security at chemical facilities.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry had appealed FEMA’s June denial of additional funding and requested more than $35 million in assistance. A bipartisan majority of the Texas congressional delegation also pushed for the “major-disaster” designation.

    “The approval of the state’s appeal for a major-disaster declaration is great and welcome news for the people of West,” Perry said in a statement

    Oh, but wait, let’s get some of that free gu’mint money first, and THEN we all kin secede. No more OSHA inspections, and all of that fed meddlin’.

    1. F. Beard

      To be fair, socialism on the cheap is neither a just nor an effective remedy for the victims of our fascist money system, which is most of us. Liberals and Progressives are going to have to do better than that to avoid being despised and hated by the people they should be helping.

  15. Skeptic

    Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn

    I have lived in the Lawnmowing Mecca (can you still use that word?), the Burbs. I now live in a rural area. I thought the lawnmowing would be a little less out here but not so. There are houses here with an acre or two of lawn. You never see anyone playing games. or exercising or doing anything on these lawns other than mowing them.

    And mow them they do. They sit on Ridem mowers. That is, mowers with 10-25 hp motors that you ride and mow the lawn. Most of these folks are overweight and could do with a bit of exercise but they do not get it mowing the lawns. Some of these folks actually seek out new territories to mow. I have two neighbors who mow the sides of the road around the area just to keep their skills sharp. One was even stopped by a cop and told this was illegal but he does it anyway.

    I came to the conclusion a long time ago that many Humans love machines and they love RIDING machines. The commute is not an ordeal as so many suggest but a right, a badge, an enjoyment. So, combine grass that must be mowed and rideable machines to mow them and you have a winning combination. Winning that is for the manufacturers and Oil Perps.

    One hundred years ago all that grass would go to feed livestock but not today. All this, of course, does not reflect well on Humanity or its purported intelligence and superiority to other species, none of which I have ever seen mowing on a RIDEM.

    1. Charles LeSeau

      America’s lawn obsession is one of my major anti-normalite pet peeves. It’s amazing to me that people can spend so much time and money on this stuff, running those extraordinarily loud and polluting machines endlessly.

      I grew up in suburbs, and I remember in the 1980s some fellow in our village decided to let his lawn go. It became overrun pretty quickly and was pretty neat, but it ignited a local news story and legal battle when all the NIMBYs freaked out about it lowering property values and inviting rats, etc. He lost that battle. He was forced to maintain the thing.

      I now live in farm country. I rather naively came out here for some quiet after 3 years of yo-bro-dude-guy frat boy neighbors in the city and their group stupidity. But I happened to move across the road here in rural NY from an elderly gentleman who mows his gigantic lawn on a riding mower up to 3 times a week – apparently for fun, because it can’t be growing much more than 1 or 2 mm between mowings, if that. It takes him 2 hours a pop and it’s one of the most annoying things in my daily life.

      I wonder sometimes if there’s a place in America save something like deep forests in Montana where I can get a little bit of rest from all the noise people make between cars, booming crap music, and automated lawn tools. Leaving this hell hole seems like a better and better plan every day.

      1. Skeptic

        Hello Charles.

        The real thing about grass is that it is money. It is energy from the sun. It costs money to mow it and tend it. A hundred years ago in NY it was then put into livestock and then turned into money. Today, it is mowed as an amusement or activity to fill the Human Void. This is true desecration.

        This is a real dislocation of the economy and we will all pay the price eventually. You might be interested in how they treat real grass and other agricultural topics at:

        They will send you a free sample. My wife has subscribed to this publication for years. Though I am not involved in agriculture it is very interesting. It was started decades ago by Charles Walters, a true American iconoclast and city hall fighter. Not many of those true Americans left.

        I used to also attend the NOFA conference in Western MA. Lots of folks from NY there and lots of wonderful workshops on how to live alternatively.

      1. AbyNormal

        pic 1 would look AWESOME on a wall an ceiling
        but something about #12…that tree owns me
        im sketchin it to paint

        wouldn’t it be a hoot to put Sam & Pat in the same room for a bit
        (a good quote also concerns timing…ole’)

        “For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

        Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

        A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

        A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

        When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

        A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

        So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
        ― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

  16. Antifa

    Fukushima cannot ever BE “cleaned up” in any possible understanding of that phrase. No creature or machine can approach a molten reactor core and survive the heat and radiation long enough to do a damn thing. It is a sub-critical atomic bomb.

    It has NO practical comparison to Chernobyl because Chernobyl did not meltdown — a couple of hydrogen and steam explosions shattered its reactor chamber and building and sent radioactive steam, fuel rod cladding and burning graphite all over the place. As the reactor blew apart it dispersed its fuel rods just enough to avoid their melting down and travelling through the concrete beneath the shattered chamber into the ground. They simply caught fire and started spewing radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

    Even Chernobyl’s remains were utterly unapproachable. Picking up highly radioactive debris and then dumping a mountain of concrete on the exposed fuel rods and shattered reactor building was as much as was humanly possible. It will have to be done over again from time to time as the heat and radiation degrades the dome over the hot fuel entombed inside.

    Fukushima is a thousand times worse, because it has had at least one and possibly two or more cores melt completely from complete lack of any cooling water. They melted and sank right into the ground. They have a life of their own now, which we are powerless to interfere with.

    What is being done there is merrily pouring many thousands of gallons of water on these melted cores, which runs on through and becomes groundwater. They are also pumping fresh water into the leaky fuel rod tanks perched four stories above the ground in Olympic-sized swimming pools.

    Yes, they are trying to capture this highly radioactive groundwater by building underground barriers and containment tanks, but these methods will only serve for the next year or two. They are steel, which will rapidly degrade and leak wholesale before long, and the hot broth they hold will all run into the sea and into the groundwater further inland.

    They are also continuing to prop up the shattered reactor buildings with steel girders, buildings whose main features are gigantic swimming pools filled with used reactor cores, all perched four stories up in the air, all in varying states of damage, disorder and leaking. Only a constant supply of fresh water keeps them from igniting where they are and melting into a much bigger melted core than any of the reactor cores.

    When these pools full of used fuel rods all fall down during the next big earthquake, their contents will meltdown and begin spewing radioactive isotopes into the air, sea and groundwater for thousands of years.

    All of the melted material from the various reactor cores and fallen pools will eventually meld together into one enormous melted puddle as any intervening soil, rock, steel barriers or any substance known to exist on this planet is inserted between them to stop this melding. There’s no stopping this process.

    Fukushima’s fuel will inevitably become one giant melted mass of subcritical nuclear material resting just below the ground surface, a glowing, open hole of utterly unapproachable heat and radiation sitting untouched for many long centuries, spewing radioactivity in all directions. Any substance dumped on it — in any quantity — will rapidly melt and become part of it.

    We cannot ever touch it, or go near it, now or ever. We will see Tokyo completely abandoned after the next big earthquake, and never visited again.

    TEPCO’s lies and crimes are irrelevant to the crime of building reactors of this design anywhere on the planet.

    1. optimader
      …Among the thousands of structures destroyed that fateful day was Fukushima’s Hello Kitty factory. Just 2.5 miles from the crippled nuclear reactor, the factory was bombarded by massive amounts of radiation before flood waters washed hundreds of thousands of Hello Kitty dolls out to sea.

      According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the dolls have been drifting across the Pacific ever since, and are now washing up on shorelines up and down the west coast.

      But there’s something horribly amiss about these Hello Kitties: gross deformities, the apparent result of extreme radiation exposure that has altered the dolls’ molecular structure.

      Abnormalities include glowing two-headed Hello Kitties with Cyclops eyes, multiple appendages, excessive whiskers, and nipples for noses. Some Hello Kitties have even grown mouths, a body part they were not originally designed with…

    2. optimader

      …..If I tell someone that I am heading to a “dead zone”… the best case response is; “Are you nuts?”

      My dad used to say that people are afraid of a deadly thing which they can not see, can not feel and can not smell. Maybe that is because those words are a good description of death itself.

      Dad is nuclear physicist, and he has educated me about many things. He is much more worried about the speed my bike travels than about the direction I point it.

      My trips to Chernobyl are not like a walk in the park, but the risk can be managed. I always go for rides alone, sometimes with pillion passenger, but never in company with any other vehicle, because I do not want anyone to raise dust in front of me.

      I was a schoolgirl back in 1986 and within a few hours of the accident , dad put all of us on the train to grandma’s house. Granny lives 800 kms from here and dad wasn’t sure if it was far enough away to keep us out of reach of the big bad wolf of a nuclear meltdown.

      The Communist government that was in power then kept silent about this accident. In Kiev, they forced people to take part in their preciously stupid labor day parade and it was then that ordinary people began hearing the news of the accident from foreign radio stations and relatives of those who died. The real panic began 7-10 days after accident. Those who were exposed to the exceedingly high levels of nuclear radiation in the first 10 days when it was still a state secret, incuding unsuspecting visitors to the area, either died or have serious health problems…

  17. optimader

    some fun updates from a friend whose back in town.

    we’ll be grilling “fastfood” tonight: a bronto-salmon basted in olive-oil-lime-honey-cilantro and finished w/ a drizzle of Balsamic V.-sherry-cognac-vanilla-cherry reduction (of course). Yogurt w/garden onion/cucumber/tomato/garlic/currants & mango chutney on the side…

    Be frugal if and where necessary, but don’t mess around w/ your food. If you eat better than the oligarchs, you win in this fleeting mortal coil….

  18. Hugh

    I suppose it says something that a professional weasel and lifelong idiot like Ezra Klein has finally stumbled across the participation rate, that the official definition of unemployment is restrictive and confined only to active job seekers and not people who would work if jobs were available, and that consequently the real unemployment rate is higher than the official number (and indeed higher than the 9.7% rate he uses). We have, of course, been emphasizing these points for some time. Klein then toys with the idea that there has been no recovery but weasel that he is he quickly backtracks to the position that there has been no recovery for “some” people. Saez’s work has been out for some time and many of us never subscribed to the notion that the recession ever ended. As Saez showed, all of the gains of this phantom “recovery” have gone to the 1% and an immediate conclusion to be drawn from this is that the rest of us never left the recession. So that some people of Klein is essentially the 99% and certainly the bottom 80%.

  19. Hugh

    It says something I suppose that a professional weasel and lifelong idiot like Ezra Klein has finally stumbled across the participation rate, that the official definition of unemployment is restrictive and confined only to active job seekers and not people who would work if jobs were available, and that consequently the real unemployment rate is higher than the official number (and indeed higher than the 9.7% rate he uses). We have, of course, been emphasizing these points for some time. Klein then toys with the idea that there has been no recovery but weasel that he is he quickly backtracks to the position that there has been no recovery for “some” people. Saez’s work has been out for some time and many of us never subscribed to the notion that the recession ever ended. As Saez showed, all of the gains of this phantom “recovery” have gone to the 1% and an immediate conclusion to be drawn from this is that the rest of us never left the recession. So that some people of Klein is essentially the 99% and certainly the bottom 80%.

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