Links 9/4/13

Are We Ready for the Next Meltdown? Fortune

Bank Leverage Is the Defining Debate of Our Time Simon Johnson, Bloomberg

S&P Accuses U.S. of Suing to Avenge Ratings Drop WSJ. This is absurd. The US is getting “revenge” on S&P for a credit downgrade that had absolutely no effect on borrowing prices?

Syria (super-sized):

Six in 10 Oppose U.S.-Only Strike on Syria; Closer Division if Allies Involved ABC News

Public Opinion Runs Against Syrian Airstrikes Pew Research Center

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Syria Resolution for Markup Scribd. Some of this makes no sense. “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces… as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner”??? That’s a non sequitur, as Marcy points out.

The Case for War: Since When is Médecins Sans Frontières a Secret Intelligence Source? Emptywheel

On Syria: The U.S. Is No Lone Ranger and Should Put That Six Shooter Away Juan Cole, Truthdig

Teju Cole’s 9 questions about Britain you were too embarrassed to ask Washington Post

The World’s Most Pernicious Analogy Strikes Again Lawyers, Guns & Money

Rep. Grayson: Syria intervention ‘not our responsibility’ MSNBC. Disgusting display from the “liberal” network.

Obama’s Terrible National-Security Argument NY Mag. When Jon Chait questions the premise for war, you really must have screwed up.

Kerry, Hagel lay out military objectives during Senate hearing on Syria strike Washington Post. Kerry was particularly embarrassing today. I half-expected John Kerry from 1971 to walk into the hearing room and throw his medals at him.

Pictures emerge showing US Secretary John Kerry and President Assad dining in Syria together Indepedent (UK)

U.S. Backed Syrian Opposition YEARS BEFORE Uprising Started The Big Picture

Israel says it conducts joint missile test with US AP

Boehner backs Obama on Syria military strike The Hill. Cantor too. The leadership of both parties has fallen in line. Among the rank and file, however…

Decision on Syria presents glimpse of democracy in action Al Jazeera America

New York Times Deletes This Paragraph In Which White House Says AIPAC Is Key To War MJ Rosenberg

AIPAC calls for Congress to authorize Syria action Politico. As if I wouldn’t have known this if the New York Times succeeded in hiding their initial remarks. Who’d have thought Israel would support a war in the Middle East?

Putin warns West over Syria action BBC

McCain Playing Poker on His iPhone WaPo. Not as bad as the 300,000 porn queries from the British Parliament last year, but you’d think the country’s leading warmonger would pay a little attention during the hearing. Never mind, though, Andrea Mitchell informed me that the hearing lasted three whole hours, so “can you blame him?” I assume Mr. Greenspan doesn’t focus his attention for that length of time, either.

Ariel Castro: Convicted Cleveland kidnapper/rapist hangs himself 19 Action News, Cleveland

Car Bombings in Baghdad Follow a Familiar Pattern NYTimes. “In August, the United Nations said Sunday, 804 people were killed in terrorist attacks, bringing the total number of civilians killed this year to almost 5,000.”

The Case of the (Still) Missing Jobs Pacific Standard

For workers and the economy, autumn could be scary Washington Post

Detroit Billionaires Get Arena Help as Bankrupt City Suffers Bloomberg

Japan’s government pledges nearly $500 million as Tepco deals with water crisis Washington Post

U.S. Refiners Don’t Care About Keystone WSJ. Feels like this is what stakeholders say when something isn’t going to happen, to cushion the blow.

Across U.S., bridges crumble as repair funds fall short LA Times

U.S. documents detail al-Qaeda’s efforts to fight back against drones Washington Post

The Real Reason Kansas Is Running Out of Water Mother Jones

The Real Population Problem Do the Math

How Does a Skyscraper Melt a Car? BBC

“A very measured, nuanced approach” Hullabaloo. An Errol Morris film about Don Rumsfeld!

What’s Killing Poor White Women? The American Prospect. Today’s must-read.

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. Foppe

    “The US is getting “revenge” on S&P for a credit downgrade that had absolutely no effect on borrowing prices?” < More likely for 'loss of face' (don't ask how, but I can imagine how some people might consider the lowered rating an affront). Honor considerations are important.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      “Honor” considerations are important.”

      There, fixed it for you. There is no true honor in he upper echelons or our political system.

      1. Foppe

        Yeah, sorry.. ‘honorable considerations’ are so often called that/invoked purely for political reasons that I tend to forget that it can still be used to describe actual laudable behaviors as well. It seems to me that whenever an institution’s actions need to be understood through the guise of ‘honor considerations’, posturing is afoot.

    2. hunkerdown

      I think the word you’re looking for is “prestige”, not “honor”? (Reference what the Swedes were most interested in protecting by refusing to apply common practice to Julian Assange’s)

  2. bobw

    Well crap – was going to leave link to “Next Meltdown” – but there it is, first one. Too quick for me.

    1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

      The article: “Are we ready for the next meltdown?” by Allan Sloan, is very meaningful. Is it not at money.cnn? (the line in “Links” refers to Fortune …. ). Allan Sloane says the Volcker rule, in whatever form it is, is hundreds of pages long. He relates how allowing Lehman to go bankrupt caused one disruption after another in 2008. Then, he explains the living wills of SIFIs (TBTBs) as documents in the hundreds to over a thousand pages of legalese. He makes a good case that, should there be another bank crisis or bank shock, it could be just as complicated to sort out as in 2008. About credit default swaps, what bankers call “hedging” I would rather call “virtual hedging”: the hedging works Ok for all institutions involved if they all have the funds. But as with AIG, which was un-hedged, “hedging” or being hedged can be reveales in crises to be pure illusion. Thus, the supposed neccesity of the TARP in 2008.

    2. Skeptic

      Are we ready for the next meltdown?

      No and neither is Allan Sloan, senior editor-at-large, who wrote that article completely ignoring Big Economic Institutions other than FIRE. Hey, Al, have you heard about the real, live, ongoing Meltdown at FUKUSHIMA, the responsibility of TEPCO, a TBTF Japanese racketeer. That one is right under your blocked up nose. Or how about the GM bailout, another TBTF. Or what about the Pentagon, losers in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, but TBTF and looking for more wars to stay in business? On and on….

      Al, the free money flows for the 1% and the institutions they control get bigger and bigger and more TBTF every day. All big American business is TBTF, one of the reasons they must have cheap money.

      Any bailout, cheap cash over there at conglomerate CNN? Certainly, there must be a trickle or two.

  3. Swedish Lex

    On Syria.
    Where were all these sane people ten years ago, before the invastion of Iraq?
    I have no idea what the right short and long term policies are for Syria. Bombs alone will not solve anything. But taking out the Government’s capacity to conduct air strikes plus the targeting of other areas that are central to Assad’s WMD capabilities (real ones, not the imagined kind that 90%% of the U.S. public and 99% of the U.S. elite went for ten years ago)seems to make sense.

    1. Richard Kline

      So Swedish Lex, bombs in this _particular_ instance will solve a good deal, if you know anything about the strategic situation on the ground in Syria. Repeated, tactical use of chemical agents, and threat of mass retaliatory actions of same are the only things which stabilized a steadily declining strategic situation for the Baathist regime earlier this year: they are losing, but for this weapon and direct intervention by Hamas. (This latest incident was the fifth or sixth documented major use of chemical agents, I’ve lost count actually, with others suspected but not well documented as much smaller.) The regime certainly won’t lose its chemical means to any American fusilade, but the costs of further usage will have escalated radically.

      All these ‘sane people’ objecting to American intervention have learned by bitter experience that American interventions are a bad deal, which these most certainly have been—except they’re opposing ‘the last intervention.’ The specifics here are rather different. It is a very undesirable outcome for America to unilaterally intervene, to be sure. The lack of physical proof here, and the proven unstrustworthy pronouncements of lying liar American policy makers makes it difficult to marshal any support. (One would say ‘commendably difficult’ except as in the case of the boy who cried wolf the loup garou does actually prowl on occasion; as now: what then, folks?) The UN is completely paralyzed, and highly unlikely to do anything constructive in this instance either. It would be great if they did, but it’s a very un-great organization—by design. Using chemical agents in civilian areas is hardly the worst of the regime’s crimes; continuous shelling and bombing of civilian areas with conventional munitions has lead to far greater loss of life and forced hundreds of thousands to flee, as intended. Even though we know _with absolutely proveable certainty_ who has been doing that shelling and bombing, I guess that doesn’t count in these kinds of calculations . . . .

      1. Richard Kline

        ‘ . . . direct intervention by Hezbollah.’ A very poor strategic decision by Hezbollah, I’ll add, if perhaps a forced one.

          1. Richard Kline

            So Lambert, yes, Hezbollah has had an excellent track record. Strategically and tactically, their leadership is superior, their rank and file extremely well-trained and motivated, their position politically in Lebanon strong, and to this point their mission has been clear: push back Israel, and defend their sect members in that state. I’ve broadly supported their operations and mission to this point. —But their intervention in Syria is a total disaster with both long-term and short-term costs.

            1) Assad is going to lose; I say that looking at the strategic situation in Syria, and the international situation both. I won’t detail all that here [because too long], but that is my considered opinion. Hezbollah wouldn’t have been in any way popular with a Sunni-led Syria, but they will be actively hated now after having intervened.

            2) The Baathists in Syria are going to end their days as a pariah, failed regime, and the leadership within it which survies that fall are going to find themselves facing charges and trials for crimes against humanity, which have been _numerous_ to this point, and may well get worse. That is going to destroy Hezbollah’s reputation as defenders against injustice, completely. While the movement could count on a certain residual international support due to its stance against Israel, that support is going to be destroyed by their support of the Baathists.

            3) Syria is a nasty attritional situation. If international intervention doesn’t abruptly collapse the operational posture of the Baathists in Sunni areas—which it may, but probably not—the long middle period of this civil war will continue to extract casualties. Hezbollah does NOT have a lot of manpower: they are good, but not numerous. There have been consistent reports that Hezbollah contingents have been deployed in Syria independent of the main border action they undertook; I don’t know the quality of the information, but some are likely there. Hezbollah simply can’t afford to lose many men. Several thousand is a not unlikely number for a grinding attritional struggle, but would be a near catastrophe for them. If Hezbollah keeps much of its manpower out, it conserves strength in a losing struggle, but takes a reputational hit now too, having committed to protecting the Alawite community in Syria. There is simply no good operational outcome for Hezbollah from this.

            4) It was, and is, beyond Hezbollah’s means to protect the Alawites in Syria. International action was the only hope there, and will be needed more than ever now. As a national defence force, Hezbollah’s mission was clear. As a cross border interventionary force, their mission is effectively repudiated: they’ve compromised the mission which kept them so unified.

            5) Intervantion in Syria was, from the outset, self-crippling strategically for Hezbollah, since regardless of the position of the Alawites relative to the rest of Syria’s population, the _Baathists_ were doomed from the start of an actual civil war. From the standpoint of honor, Hezbollah’s rank and file may have felt a need to intervene, but it was a self-maiming course, and one unlikely to have had strategic success. Hezbollah and the Baathists combined _could not have subjugated insurgent Sunni Syria_. The Baathists can’t negotiate, since their departure is the sine qua non for peace; hence, Hezbollah could not have hoped to ‘stabilize the situation’ for ‘negotiations’: there won’t be any, because the Baathists are not in a position to make the main concession necesary, any more than the Gaddafi-ites were. What is the strategic end game for Hezbollah, partition? That won’t stand, so the outcome is only a more grevious loss.

            I could go on, but that’s enough. I can see why, both strategically and due to past alliances, Hezbollah’s leadership felt they had to act. That’s the price of sustaining yourself by an alliance to a brutal mafia whose time is gone. I expect Hezbollah to survive, but they’ll have a target on their back far more than before, and have lost any friend other than Iran. That car-bombing in Beirut: this is going to be Hezbollah’s future once the Baathists are gone in Syria. And reprisals to that will only stain Hezbollah’s hands. Do I know all the future? Of course not. Hezbollah couldn’t hope to win in Syria, because the Baathists couldn’t and won’t survive, but Hezbollah will share far more heavily in their loss now. It’s very regretable.

        1. Richard Kline

          Basher al-Assad is a minor problem; he may be no more than a figurehead in his own leadership coterie. There’s been reason to believe that he, personally, would have been or might still be open to a negotiated exit. Other hardliners, starting with his brother Maher, are completely unwilling to accept that. They’ll go down fighting, and that is part of why they are so dangerous: they don’t really expect to survive at this point, and see a ruined Syria as payback. So ‘Basher, whack or ship?’ isn’t even a germane question. And nobody is going to go marching in their to put him on a plane anyway, so the ‘ship’ part of that isn’t operative.

      2. from Mexico

        Richard Kline says:

        …bombs in this _particular_ instance will solve a good deal, if you know anything about the strategic situation on the ground in Syria.

        Right. Just like the stellar grip we had on “the strategic situation on the ground” before we invaded Iraq?

        Really, Richard, is there any part of the propaganda emanating from the War Party that you will not believe?

        1. Lambert Strether

          Even granting Kline’s premise, somehow managing to force an American retreat from its imperial mission — or a recognition, Suez-style, that such a mission is no longer tenable — would save a shit-ton more lives, net, than even the most optimistic outcomes that liberal interventionists project from whacking Assad. And journey of a thousand miles, etc. That is the issue here, not the microscopic detail.

          1. from Mexico

            It’s a tall order.

            As Kenneth Boulding argues in “The Learning and Reality Testing Process in the International System,” the beliefs of national leaders (including, presumably, their beliefs about the relative power of states in the international system) are slow to change. He argues that such adjustments occur rarely, if at all.

            John Stoessinger, writing in Nations in Darkness, asserts that change is possible only as the consequence of some monumental disaster. “Most national leaders,” he writes, “will not examine their prejudices and stereotypes until they are shaken and shattered into doing so.”

            I suppose for our current gentry, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were not sufficiently monumental disasters. One wonders what it will take to bring folks like Obama and Cheney down to earth.

            1. allcoppedout

              Mexico – as we know, there were sane voices about before Iraq and Afghanistan, predicting the exact outcomes. Amazing people forget or never know history – much the same could have been said on the financial collapse – I was teaching about that in the 80’s and international bankers I knew (often very young and barely out of my short course on finance for non-financial managers) told me they were issuing loans knowing they could never be repaid except by tax payers. ‘Selling money – and dependency: setting the debt trap’ by SC Gwynne’ in Hiatt’s ‘A Game As Old As Empire’ is such as story from that time (maybe mid-70s).

              The next meltdown is irrelevant blather. What we need is a full and transparent account of the models in use. We could probably throw a course together. Even Miami Vice has dark episodes in which Crocket and Tubs discover the banks are running drugs to pay down loan money lost in South America.

              Finance includes such muck as pricing 4 toilet rolls at $3000 plus and selling combine harvesters at $370 in transfer pricing tax theft. Somewhere, there are derivatives selling out the ground beneath our feet via pension theft. Staid, responsible family men and women I may have taught have signed the documentation to put local council money on deposit in Iceland, that codicil on page 38 smallprint on interest rate swaps and so on.

              The immense contradiction is that the banks were clearly making false profits from deals relying on Ponzi, looting, tax theft and worse – and now want to repeat the process over and again. If we had really contracted and restrained them they should be a third of the size and forced to play in the low-return, productive economy. We have done nothing, despite the empirical model of Japan.

              What chance have we got when people think the voices over Syria were not about before Iraq? We had them in Britain before our 1913 invasion – drug dealing was still being recorded in official government accounts then.

              My guess is the blow up feared by those who reach power in the US and West concerns the ability of our currencies to buy raw materials (oil, gas etc.) – what peaceful products cannot now be bought cheap from non-western sources? Even computing hard and software ‘standards’ have been created by market manipulation.

              The invisible cloth is obvious and the idea is to prevent anyone crying ‘naked’ by the use of force and maintenance of the best bully boys – a typical and very old ‘noble’ strategy.

              Years ago, I turned round a UK company from losses to over £1 million profit with a masterstroke of ‘working smarter genius’. I told the bank they used to stick its head where the sun don’t shine and put the considerable takings they received twice-weekly into interest bearing overnight accounts. The story is not about me – it’s about incompetence and a bank not working in its client’s interests. And it is basically repeated across finance in spotting various arbitrage niches, international sourcing, asset stripping buy-outs in which leverage becomes the debt left behind after the sales…

              We may be headed towards ‘dust-bowl’ USA by 2050, a great thought of an empire with a food and water shortage and armed forces bigger than all the rest! Our collective memory seems as bad as ever given what we can now store and retrieve electronically.

            2. Lambert Strether

              Didn’t say it wasn’t a tall order. But that’s the issue. Too bad the Progressive Caucus folded like a deck chair — such a surprise — instead of going “strange bedfellow” with the right.

        2. Richard Kline

          So from, you insist, contrary to all the evidence of my commentary here over years, that I somehow get my information from ‘the War Party,’ the government, Obama, ‘neoconservatives [whatever that means to you],’ and the like. Well I don’t. This conflict has been extensively documented _outside of government controlled channels_. Many reporters of diverse perspectives have been active inside Syria over the last two and a half years, as well as others who have been in-country there during this conflict and given accounts during and afterward. Many Syrians of background diverse have come from their and recounted their experience. Who is, and has been, doing what there has a broad informational base outside of government statements. You seem, from, constitutionally _unable_ to engage with any of this information, whether to critique it sanely, to weight it against long-term information on Syria, to look for what might be false or exaggerated given the whole and what seems true, and to size the situation up independent of your personal shibboleth, ‘American imperialism.’ That is, at least, dismissive of the situation of those actually involved there. If you cared. Which quite clearly _you don’t_: they couldn’b possibly be as important as ‘American imperialists doing dastardly deeds!’ This is just a canvas for you to paint your mania on in broad strokes insofar as I follow your agenda.

          It’s telling, from, that Iraq is everything to you as an analogy and Libya nothing. Whereas Libya is a far more accurate comparison, far more current, involved many of the same policy makers as well, involved extensive ongoing crimes against a civilian population by a loathesome dictatorship, did not result in an American protectorate, and ended up with that regime thankfully ended, it’s senior figures facing human rights trials, and the fractious survivors wrangling amongst _each other_, largely without weapons, over how to govern themselves going forward. Funny thing: The bastards lost, the bad guys who did them in (us) didn’t gain much by it, and there were no massacres or repressive theocracies imposed (not that those can’t happen, but they certainly aren’t in view). Again, you’re all about what Americans do and not at all about what those in other places do.

          Really bizarre, from, that you manage to convince yourself that ‘propaganda’ is my source. For the record, American policy makers are wholly insincere, they are likely lying about intercepts because they don’t have indisputable proof, and protecting US prerogatives is likely far more important to them, personally, than the actual effect of a short-term bombardment. American imperialism is a major problem: it’s just not the _only_ problem, and certainly NOT the most important problem in this situation.

          I actually knew Kenneth Boulding, from. He was a member of my Friends Meeting when I was in middle school. I’m sure he wouldn’t approve of some of the stance I’ve just articulated, but that’s a discussion for another day—with someone who actually cares about, y’know, PEOPLE. That would be someone other than you, I take it.

      3. Doug Terpstra

        So, Richard, you’ve converted to neo-conservatism—not on the road to Damascus but rather, Tel Aviv.

        Former war-protester-cum-warmonger John Kerry shares your logic (as does a rogue’s gallery including Elliott Abrams, Max Boot, Douglas J. Feith, Robert Kagan, Lawrence F. Kaplan, Joseph I. Lieberman, Martin Peretz, and Karl Rove and a host of familiar suspects who sent regime-change orders to the Obama regime.) We know chemical weapons were used, so therefore, Assad is guilty (certainly not the al-Queda “rebels” we fund; why would you even think that?). The presumption of guilt is just simple sleight of mind; the leaping logic of Gitmo; reasonable doubt is so old school. We don’t need no steenkeeng evidence! For a new quagmire, mere innuendo will do. Let’s roll.

        Why don’t the rest of us get it? Surely the same Neocons (Mossad, CIA, NSA, etc.) who sold us Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and who’ve been rattling sabers at Iran for years, would never lie to us or fabricate evidence again would they, to take out Iran, I mean Syria? Nah! The same regime who covers up their own atrocities; who subsidizes the slaughter of innocents in Egypt, the same government who uses white phosphorous and depleted uranium, who supplied chemical weapons to its puppets, who ignored massacres in Sudan, Congo, and Rwanda, are just deeply concerned humanitarians, right? We have to rescue the Syrian people even if, overwhelmingly, they do not want to be rescued and even if it is a clear violation of international law, and even at the risk of WWIII. Well when you put it that way…

        If your eyesight is somehow miraculously restored, check out what skeptics are saying:

        Syria – Cui bono? (Golem XIV)

        2) confusing proof of use with proof of perpetrator

        Let’s be clear. Proof that chemical weapons were used is quite different from proof of who used them. The former is a questions of chemical residues. The latter requires eyewitnesses, photographs or video showing who used them or a confession from those who used them. Nothing else is proof.
        Falling short of actual proof you can offer a case based on showing who had the means, the opportunity and the motive. But of course all that pulls back the cover of the simple ‘ask no questions and offer no analysis’ and opens up a real debate.
        Back in May the US regime (gets to be insulting doesn’t it) was already claiming Assad’s forces were using chemical weapons. So it was an almighty embarrasment when a former Swiss Atorney-General, Carla Del Ponte, now a member of a UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria that had been working in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and people working in field hospitals, said they felt there was growing evidence of gas attacks but by rebel forces. Reuters quoted her and the Obama regime was in danger of looking like what it was.
        Since then the US has just ignored the UN evidence…

        No War for Bernard Henri Lévy (CounterPunch)

        How Intelligence Was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria

        1. Richard Kline

          Lord, lord, lord . . . Doug, buddy: I’ve read all that. And read the actual mountains of reportage that contradicts that which you can’t be bothered to look for, review, or cite. Because only pieces of info which fit your view make it within your ‘cognitive horizon.’ As above to from Mexico, I don’t take my information or perspective from ‘neoconservatives,’ government figures, or any of the rest.

          I cannot state categorically that at no time whatsoever has some rebel faction ‘realeased chemical agents.’ The situation is too fluid. At the same time, the assertion that they did—killing some civilians and often insurgents on their own side—is really egregiously stupid. And backed by no facts of its own, either. The chemical usages which have been prominent—Damascus, Hama, Aleppo—all resulted in major tactical defeats for the insurgents, killed civilians on their own side, and lost territory where reprisals against supporters of the insurgency was certain. All that without even any strong probability that international intervention would result. There are strong strategic and policy reasons why the Baathists _would_ use gas. Do you know them? Have you even bothered to actually follow this issue and think it through?

          You are obsessed with the gas, Doug. Look at the rest. The Baathists have engaged in sustained conventional bombardments of civilian areas from the beginning of this conflict to the present. There is zero (0) evidence for such behavior on the insurgent side. Carbombs have been used, almost always associated with military or state facilities, or individuals in the regime hierarchy. Find me these dastardly insurgents, Doug, who are ‘burning their own faces off with acid to TRICK us!’ The contention is just loathsome, Doug, and unsupported by any evidence or the facts on the ground.

          You seem obsessed, Doug, that ‘the administration/neocons [not the same outside of your fantasies, but] have been plotting this intervention since [whenever].’ When it’s stone obvious Obama wants nothing to do with this but has to be dragged by the collar by the Clintonites to act. I mean, you could at least go for consistency in this rot and ‘blame it on Hilary,’ not that that walks either. The US admin has _looked the other way as long and as hard as possible_ to avoid acting because a) any intervention is deeply unpopular, and b) Sunni jihadis will gain some traction and a measure of safe harbor if the insurgents win. The Admin does not want to Do Syria—except in the fantasies of thrice burned progressives who see all-scheming imperialists behind every leaf that falls. Well, those imperialist might like that, but they’re not that good. Radicals OTOH back popular action: that is my compass point, politically, not conservative ‘hang the bastards’ law and orderism. I think I’m wasting my breath and time on you, though, so I’ll stop there.

          Since you like conspiracies and media plants consider: the best outcome for Israel would be a crippled Assad still in place heading a ruined pariah state. This has been the ‘keep it going’ position actually articulated by some in Israel. Bernard Levy, since you don’t know, takes dictation from that source, so it’s hardly surprising he’s for ‘no US intervention’ that might actually end the killing and lead to a Sunni-dominated government coming to power, which is the very LAST outcome that would benefit Israel.

          1. Doug Terpstra

            Please broaden my limited cognitive horizon, Richard, preferably with link(s) since I can’t be bothered to look for them. Even one would be more helpful than unsupported, patronizing cheap shots. You’re not “wasting your time on” me; I would actually read your links if you’d “bother to” provide them. Granted, it’s hard to be objective about aggressive wars, especially by the same perps, but I would try, really. Here are a few points for the record:

            You seem obsessed, Doug, that ‘the administration/neocons [not the same outside of your fantasies, but] have been plotting this intervention since [whenever].’ When it’s stone obvious Obama wants nothing to do with this but has to be dragged by the collar by the Clintonites to act.

            I have no fantasies about Neocons; reality is scary enough. I have no fantasies about Obama either, as he plays incompetent messiah, incurable appeaser, and premature capitulator. What’s “stone obvious” about Obama is that, just like his progressive posturing, his reluctant warrior/peacemaker shtick is pure theater (you know he picks drone targets personally, even jokes about it?). Clearly, he can do it over and over again and still fool most of the people most of the time. He’s already said he’ll bomb even if Congress votes no; if such a miracle occurs, we’ll see.

            And yes, they have been planning this “since [whenever]”; the Obama regime has been actively funding al-Qaeda in Syria since March of 2011, and redline-planning certainly precedes that, as it has for Iran.

            And BTW, I’m only “obsessed with the gas,” Richard, because that is the Neocons’ casus belli du jour; if they said it was about Assad’s mustache, then I’d “obsess” about that.

            Find me these dastardly insurgents, Doug, who are ‘burning their own faces off with acid to TRICK us!’ The contention is just loathsome, Doug, and unsupported by any evidence or the facts on the ground.

            Again, links would help, but Richard, suicide bombers actually do blow themselves up, usually on purpose, sometimes accidentally, and they’re not above hurting their own. Where have you been? It may be a loathsome contention, as you say, Richard, but it’s not, as you suggest, my contention. Never was.

            ”…the assertion that they did—killing some civilians and often insurgents on their own side—is really egregiously stupid. And backed by no facts of its own, either.

            Call me “egregiously stupid”; links would be more convincing. But doesn’t it seem even more absurd to posit that Assad would do the same, including to his own troops, when a)-he is handily beating our al-Qaeda terrorists already; b)-he is well aware of Obama’s redline in the sand, and c)-doing so upon arrival of UN would be quite inconvenient?

            Here’s another scenario, stupid yes, but less egregiously so — a partly accidental deployment: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

            Since you like conspiracies and media plants consider: the best outcome for Israel would be a crippled Assad still in place heading a ruined pariah state.

            I don’t like conspiracies at all. Are you saying there are none? Does your planet accept immigrants?

            But here I actually agree with you! Did you read the link I offered on Bernard Henri Lévy ? Is that not a conspiracy? I believe much of what we are doing in the ME is turmoil for its own sake, well, for Israel’s actually, the age-old divide and conquer strategy. They care less about strong stable democracies than weak and fractious failed states to ensure full-spectrum dominance. I think that, as much as resource robbery, is what the wars on Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran are mostly about. It’s synergistic. Here’s another that supports your conspiracy thesis: China Rejects The US-Saudi-Israeli Plan For The Middle East: THE YINON PLAN LIVES ON

            “In February 1982 the foreign minister Oded Yinon wrote and published ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties‘, which outlined strategies for Israel to become the major regional power in the Middle East. High up the list of his recommendations was to decapitate and dissolve surrounding Arab states into sub-nations, warring between themselves. Called the peace-in-the-feud or simply divide and rule, this was part of Yinon’s strategy for achieving the long-term Zionist goal of extending the borders of Israel, not saying where but potentially a vast region. His strategy was warmly and publicly supported by leading US policy makers with close ties to Israel, like Richard Perle, by the 1990s.”

      4. Synopticist

        “bombs in this _particular_ instance will solve a good deal, if you know anything about the strategic situation on the ground in Syria. Repeated, tactical use of chemical agents, and threat of mass retaliatory actions of same are the only things which stabilized a steadily declining strategic situation for the Baathist regime earlier this year”

        This is partly true, and partly nonsense.

        Bombing Assads forces certainly would change the strategic situation on the ground, but the biggest beneficiaries of that would be al qeada, in their JAN franchise. The other al qaeda group, ISIS, are now in charge of the fifth biggest city in Syria, al Raqua, after they drove out the “moderates” of the FSA, who ran away rather pathetically.

        It’s just not true that the tactical use of CWs reversed the battlefield mommentum in Syria earlier this year. That was down to a series of tactical offensive, most notably in Qasair, where there were no claims of CW use.

        You’ve drunk the Muslim Brotherhood kool aid on Syria. This isn’t 2011 any more. The rebels are a bunch of hardcore jihadis now, and al qeada are the best organised and most effective force within it. The Baathists are the only people capable of preventing Syria falling into their hands.

    2. DanB

      A post be David D. yesterday on Arm Twisting over Syria contained a quote from a report that cited drought as an underlying cause of this conflict. It also noted how the American government ignored aiding the drought stricken farmers in Syria. Well, one rule of politics is to ignore issues you cannot solve or even pretend to solve, so no attention paid to this drought and how it has ruined the livelihood of many Syrian farmers and is impacting the economy. The power of degrowth is upon us. This means we’ve reached the ecological limits to growth. In this case of Syria it is represented by the drought (but oil and gas pipelines are also involved in the struggle to control Syria), which is likely linked to global warming. So the gorilla in the room is a resource war with ecological roots. This renders superfluous and even pernicious pedantic armchair calculations about how to calibrate punishment for Assad.

      1. Eeyores enigma

        It is amazing to me that even in the alternative media there is no longer any discussion about whether it is right for America to have gone in and whip this whole situation up in the first place killing tens of thousands of innocents.

        Now it’s just debate over whether or not we are going to go in and do some REAL damage.

        As long as us Americans continue to live like we do (and that means you) then HELL YES we should bomb them all back into the stone age. Debate over.

  4. Joe

    It sure is weird how our government can act all warm, fuzzy and bipartisan when there are either people to kill or rich people to throw money at.

    When it comes to anything else, both political parties are sworn enemies. Sworn enemies, I tell ‘ya!

    How do we rid ourselves of these tools?

    A pox on both their houses.

    1. from Mexico

      Joe said:

      It sure is weird how our government can act all warm, fuzzy and bipartisan when there are either people to kill or rich people to throw money at.

      Yep. It’s quite amazing to witness this normally clandestine love affair between the Democrats and Republicans blossom into public view. This bursting into bloom only happens, though, when public opinion reveals the lovers’ hand, like what happened with TARP or the current advance on Syria. Both flowered into blitzkriegs on the American people, perpetrated by our newfound Romeo and Juliet.

      Shakespeare’s inamoratos, in comparison to our stealth lovers, were harmless. The pairing of Democrats and Republicans looks a lot more like the will to power achieved in the marriage of Stukas and Panzers, Luftwaffe and storm troopers in Germany’s Wehrmacht than the tragic resolve of Shakespeare’s hapless duo.

        1. psychohistorian


          Anything to pull the curtains back on the propaganda fronts that the plutocrats have created to continue the brainwashing and control.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Right, the fauxgressive plea, “can’t we all just capitulate?” Why be so militant about stopping illegal war?

    2. craazyboy

      ‘Tis touching.

      Betcha the debt limit ceiling gets raised too without a peep now ’cause Syrian Freedom. Maybe even throw in some corporate tax breaks ’cause Economy & Employment. Ben may be so taken the romantic scene that he weeps,”QE5″.

      The lover’s quarrel over “entitlements” can resume next year when the current honeymoon is over.

  5. Joe

    Today is the first day you can opt out these marketing creep’s database. I urge everyone to take a look at the information they collect about you and sell without your permission:
    Form To View Your Data

    Then you can opt out, if you wish:
    Opt Out Here

    Most of the info they have on me is thankfully wrong (they have my political affiliation listed as Republican, WTF?) but it is eye opening and creepy to see what they think they know about you.

    Here is their bullshit blurb, if you are wondering who they are:

    “Acxiom is an enterprise data, analytics and software as a service company that uniquely fuses trust, experience and scale to fuel data-driven results. Known worldwide for our marketing database and consumer data technologies, we power marketing insight for 47 of the Fortune 100 brands. Today we enable more than a trillion data transactions each week and are focused on innovating technologies that enable clients to extend this insight to their media investment and marketing partner ecosystem: advanced analytics, digital media platforms, and multichannel marketing integration. ”

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      So you’re going to give them all your data, including last 4 of SSN, in order to “opt out” ?

      Your trust level is waaaay above mine……

      1. Bill the Psychologist

        Oh, and never mind that in order to keep track of who’s opted in or out, they have to keep all the data you just gave them….very cute.

      2. Joe

        I trust no corporation but what alternative do you suggest. Have you looked at the data they have on you?

        They show what I payed for my house, what the mortgage and equity are. They have detailed information on my political affiliation, email, home address and telephone numbers. What my hobbies and interests are. The list goes on.

        Feel free to stay uniformed and allow these people to sell all your personal data.

        Christ, why do I bother to try to help? I’m obviously an idiot.

        1. curlydan

          Interesting move by Acxiom, but I was surprised about how little they know about me and how much they got wrong. I thought I would be close to an open book.

          1. Joe

            I was also surprised curlyfan. They also had a lot wrong about me but I found what they had correct to be kind of scary. My financial data, email addresses and phone numbers were all correct.

            You kind of expect that stuff on a credit report but a marketing company selling that data without my permission gives me the creeps.

          2. Yves Smith

            Just about the only thing they had right about me is that can’t be derived from my name (that I’m female) or my age is that I’m a registered Democrat (which you have to be in NYC not to be disenfranchised, since many key races are decided in the primaries). No phone #. They think I’m married, own a car, own my home, am of German descent (dead wrong), am interested in gardening, fashion, Christian literature, etc. Too funny.

          3. skippy

            Lmao… I have zilch data… nada~

            skippy… defective marsupials have advantages thingy… blessed be the pouch…

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Joe, some people don’t like my talking about Zen, but if you look at zazen, if you look at how to empty your mind of thoughts, there are 2 ways.

          1. The traditional way they teach at monasteries and in books – you calm yourself and reduce the number of thoughts gradually to maybe one and hopefully zero.

          2. The way I discovered – you have so many thoughts that you actually short-cicuit your mind/brain and you end up with zero thoughts.

          It’s the same with a lot of things.

          If you over-eat, one day you get tired and stopped bingeing.

          If you over party, one day you grow up and stay home.

          Thus you go west to reach the East.

          And you go to communist countries to find the most ruthless capitalist.

          As for freedom of speech, you can curtail it, again, 2 ways:

          1. make sure no one speaks
          2. make everyone rant. It becomes so noisy we don’t hear each other…maybe we hear something about sports or the latest celebrity news.

          So, what is the lesson here?

          Well, you give them the impression you like EVERYTHING, it’s the same as telling them nothing.

      3. Joe

        What you assume is certainly up to you. Do you think that they might already have your social security number and that is how they match up the last 4 digits? Do you think I may have tried to put in an incorrect SSN to test that supposition?

        In case it’s not clear, this is me giving you the finger.

    2. Propertius

      A look at the Terms of Use was sufficient to dissuade me from searching further. First, there’s the typical:

      Acxiom Corporation (“Acxiom”) reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to change these Terms of Use at any time, and by continuing to use the Site after we post a change, you will be deemed to have accepted the new Terms of Use.

      Followed by the ever-popular:
      By using our Site, you agree that we may use and share your personally identifiable information in accordance with the terms of this Site’s Privacy Policy.

      The Privacy Policy ( should probably be read in its entirety, if only for its comedic value.

      No thanks – for one thing I don’t wish to link any of my throwaway email addresses to my actual name and address (lest the New York Times discover that I’m not a 74 year-old woman living in South Carolina or other folks discover that I’m not a 23 year-old Californian).

    3. Garrett Pace

      Opting out doesn’t do anything, really. This is a silly exercise:

      “The Acxiom opt-out tool is cookie-based. In order for the tool to work on your computer, your browser must be set to accept third party cookies. If you buy a new computer, change Web browsers or delete this cookie, you may need to perform the opt-out task again.”

  6. XO

    “The Real Population Problem”

    Is poverty and the “free” entertainment that is sex.

    “I can’t give you anything but love, baby . . .”

    I am reminded of my ex-father-in-law: One of 16 kids who shared a two-room house with their parents in the hinterlands of Ireland. No electricity. No gasoline. Left home without shoes, he did. The oldest was, biologically, old enough to be the youngest’s grandfather. Had six kids, himself.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Institutions that in their ideologies promote unfettered population growth (most of which are religions) are among the greatest evil-doers on Earth!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Total resource demand = resource demand per capital x population.

        The problem seems to be two-fold.

        1. You have more and more people.
        2. And many are brainwashed into wanting to be wasteful like the 0.01%

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          For 1, we look at the traditional Republican base…the religious ideologies.

          For 2, we can’t ignore the traditional Democratic base of Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some babies require less and some more.

            That’s 2. The brainwashing to want more is where Hollywood and Madison Avenue come in.

            1. J Sterling

              There are deals you don’t get to make, and “if I have twice as many children, I promise on their behalf that they and their descendants will accept poverty forever in return” is one of them.

              Wealth per person is a *good* thing, and I can’t tell you how creepy I find “it’s okay, they’ll stay poor” as a justification for having extra children.

  7. Skeptic

    McCain Playing Poker on His iPhone

    Now there is one Washed Up and Rinsed Out Has Been who just don’t know when to FOLD’EM. Who’s he playing with, Myth Romney?

    Actually, if we gave all the War Racketeers free tech gadgets and paid them to play World Of Warcraft and such like, the Earth would be a better place and the Treasury might be solvent.

    1. Butch in Waukegan

      McCain and Obama already went over the script for this one act — second rate actors and a predictable plot. Borrrring!

      Poker? Isn’t there a Call of Duty Black Ops app for the iPhone?

    1. Lambert Strether

      Goes along with Life expectancy drops in hundreds of US counties; we’re experiencing a slow-motion equivalent of the drop in Russian life expectancy when the oligarchs took over there; now everyone has the chance to experience what Blacks and native Americans already do. Unfortunately, the best explanation I’ve been able to come up with is that the oligarchs hate us and want us to die — because the facts on the ground and the statistics are all so very visible; in other words, on the the eternal question — Are they stupid and/or evil? — I’m going with evil. Of course, these outcomesa are cloaked in the language of high policy and “business decisions” but I believe that is the process that is underway. Noblesse oblige is not in the cards with these guys.

      1. direction

        and don’t forget to throw in the “divine right of kings.”

        They are not stupid, perhaps not even evil, but ignorant. They believe the general population to be stupid and lesser and expendable. Thus the general population need not be taken into consideration. “Why do you care?” Isn’t it part of the Straussian doctrine that neo-cons believe those in power are there because of their own hard work (cough) and blessed superiority?

          1. Tim Mason

            “A man who is born into a world already possessed, if he cannot get subsistence from his parents on whom he has a just demand, and if the society do not want his labour, has no claim of right to the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he is. At nature’s mighty feast there is no vacant cover for him. She tells him to be gone, and will quickly execute her own orders, if he does not work upon the compassion of some of her guests. If these guests get up and make room for him, other intruders immediately appear demanding the same favour. The report of a provision for all that come, fills the hall with numerous claimants. The order and harmony of the feast is disturbed, the plenty that before reigned is changed into scarcity; and the happiness of the guests is destroyed by the spectacle of misery and dependence in every part of the hall, and by the clamorous importunity of those, who are justly enraged at not finding the provision which they had been taught to expect. The guests learn too late their error, in counter-acting those strict orders to all intruders, issued by the great mistress of the feast, who, wishing that all guests should have plenty, and knowing she could not provide for unlimited numbers, humanely refused to admit fresh comers when her table was already full.”

            Thomas Malthus

            1. from Mexico

              What were the origins of Nazi ideology, if not the theories of characteropaths like Malthus and Ricardo?

              And it is their misanthropic world of early 19th-century Britain that the neoliberals would take us back to.

              1. Lambert Strether

                To answer your rhetorical question, we might consider turning to an actual historian, Richard Evans, whose three-volume history of the Third Reich I comment to readers’s attention. From the London Review of Books:

                [Evans’] discussion of pre-1914 Germany is a good example [of his approach to social history]. Dangerous precedents were established when Bismarck divided nationalism from liberalism and set a powerful example of authoritarian rule, militarism, anti-Catholicism, anti-socialism and discrimination against Prussia’s Polish minority. Parallels for each of these policies can be found in other European countries: ‘Yet in no nation in Europe other than Germany were all these conditions present at the same time and to the same extent.’ Similarly, Evans locates the roots of Nazi ideology in the anti-semitic and racial hygiene movements that existed before 1914, but with the qualification that ‘the great majority of Germans still most probably believed’ in ‘freedom of thought, representative government, tolerance for the opinions of others and the fundamental rights of the individual’. War, defeat and revolution then tipped the scales alarmingly towards an authoritarian nationalism by polarising the electorate and rendering the right politically homeless in the Weimar Republic, which they saw as the creation of Germany’s enemies.

                Now, it’s possible that theories of racial hygiene in Germany have roots in England (and were perhaps cross-fertilized by anti-Semitic theories). If so, I would like that to be shown. (I don’t have my copy of Evans to hand; I’ll try to shovel it out.)

                1. from Mexico

                  …turning to an actual historian, Richard Evans…

                  You’re joking, right?

                  If one buys into Anglophone post-war propaganda and historical revisionism, then I suppose it’s possible to assume that the “theories of racial hygiene in Germany” were, in addition to being the alpha and the omega of Nazi ideology, also something uniquely Nazi. That’s great if you’re a post-war victor and are rewriting history to set yourself apart from and gain some moral high-ground on the vanquished. But that does not keep this sort of exceptionalist propaganda from being more fiction than fact.

                  There are, however, a handful of historians out there who are interested in pursuing the truth, as Arundhati Roy explains here:

                  Nationalism and Development—those unimpeachable twin towers of modern, Free Market Democracy – have had a long, common history. When European countries were ‘progressing’, being ‘enlightened’, industrializing and developing limited but new forms of democracy and citizens’ rights at home, they were simultaneously exterminating people in their millions in their colonies. In the early years of colonialism, openly slaughtering natives in the name of civilizing them was quite acceptable. But as the discourse on civil rights and democracy grew stronger and more sophisticated, a new form of dual morality took shape. It gave rise to a new phenomenon. Genocide Denial.

                  Now, when genocide politics meets the Free Market, official recognition—or denial, or more recently, the manufacture of imaginary holocausts and genocides is a multinational business enterprise. It rarely has anything to do to with historical fact or forensic evidence. Morality certainly does not enter the picture. It is an aggressive process of high-end bargaining that belongs more to the World Trade Organization than to the United Nations. The currency is geopolitics, the fluctuating market for natural resources, that curious thing called futures trading, and plain old economic and military might.

                  In other words, genocides are often denied for the same set of reasons genocides are prosecuted. Economic determinism marinated in racial/ethnic/religious/national discrimination….

                  For example, the death of two million in the Congo goes virtually unreported. Why? And was the death of a million Iraqis under the sanctions regime, prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003, genocide (which is what UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday called it) or was it “worth it,” as Madeleine Albright, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, claimed? It depends on who makes the rules. The US President? Or an Iraqi mother who has lost her child?

                  The history of genocide tells us that it’s not an aberration, an anomaly, a glitch in the human system. It’s a habit as old, as persistent, as much part of the human condition as love and art and agriculture. Most of the genocidal killing from the fifteenth century onwards has been an integral part of Europe’s search for what the German geographer and zoologist Friedrich Ratzel famously called lebensraum, living space. Lebensraum was a word he coined to describe what he thought of as dominant human species’ natural impulse to expand their territory in their search for not just space, but sustenance….

                  Sven Lindqvist, author of Exterminate All the Brutes, argues that it was Hitler’s quest for lebensraum — in a world that had already been carved up by other European countries — that led the Nazis to push through Eastern Europe and on toward Russia. The Jews of Eastern Europe and western Russia stood in the way of Hitler’s colonial ambitions. Therefore, like the native peoples of Africa and America and Asia, they had to be enslaved or liquidated. So, Lindqvist says, the Nazis’ racist dehumanization of Jews cannot be dismissed as a paroxysm of insane evil. Once again, it is a product of the familiar mix: economic determinism well marinated in age-old racism—very much in keeping with European tradition of the time.


                  Also, for those who labor under the misconception that “theories of racial hygiene in Germany” do not have their roots in the Anglosphere, I suggest reading this:

                  Although notions of race have a long history, it was ironically the Scientific Revolution followed by the Enlightenment and then the Age of Reason, emphasizing science and rationality, that were the wellsprings for biologically based racism. The earlier division of humans into races had produced opposing views that were hotly debated. The nonhierarchical, biologically homogeneous model held no race as superior. The hierarchical model placed whites, most notably Northern Europeans, at the top and Blacks at the bottom (7). The hierarchical construct eventually won out and Blacks were relegated to inferiority. This concept of intrinsic value or defect (popularized in the 1860s as Social Darwinism) was clearly articulated by Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911) in “The science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race (8).” He coined the word “eugenic” (relating to or producing improved offspring) and proposed that “races” were in a struggle for survival of the fittest.


                  1. Lambert Strether

                    Oh, please. When asked to cite evidence linking Hitler to British theories of eugenics, do so; what was the chain of transmission (or infection, if one chooses to call it that.) That’s exactly the link that your prolix Roy quote does not provide, estimable though Roy is. If you want to show Hitler was influenced by Galton, show it. That’s all I was asking. Prove the claim you make. Should be easy, if it’s true. Since I don’t assume I know everything, I’m asking you, since I have to assume you aren’t simply pulling your assertion out of thin air, but can back it up.

                    On Evans: Can we stop with the word salad and “any stick to beat a dog” tactics whenever a source is quoted of which you do not personally approve? Thank you so much. A noun, a verb, and Hannah Arendt is preferable to this. I don’t know about you, but I regard the history of fascism as relevant enough to try to get the facts straight.

                    * * *

                    Non-tendentious readers will find a lot of suggestive parallels — and many differences — between our siutation today and Germany in the 1930s. Evans gives a textured, fine-grained reading of the period with many primary sources. Amazon for the reviews, Powells for the purchase…

                    1. from Mexico

                      Lambert Strether says:

                      Oh, please. When asked to cite evidence linking Hitler to British theories of eugenics, do so; what was the chain of transmission (or infection, if one chooses to call it that.) That’s exactly the link that your prolix Roy quote does not provide, estimable though Roy is. If you want to show Hitler was influenced by Galton, show it. That’s all I was asking. Prove the claim you make. Should be easy, if it’s true.

                      Well that’s kinda why my second link was to the article from the FASEB Journal:


                      The Nazi’s cornerstone precept of “racial hygiene” gave birth to their policy of “racial cleansing” that led to the murders of millions. It was developed by German physicians and scientists in the late 19th century and is rooted in the period’s Social Darwinism that placed blacks at the bottom of the racial ladder. This program was first manifested in the near-extermination of the African Herero people during the German colonial period. After WWI, the fear among the German populace that occupying African troops and their Afro-German children would lead to “bastardization” of the German people formed a unifying racial principle that the Nazis exploited. They extended this mind-set to a variety of “unworthy” groups, leading to the physician-administered racial Nuremberg laws, the Sterilization laws, the secret sterilization of Afro-Germans, and the German euthanasia program. This culminated in the extermination camps.—Haas, F. German Science and Black Racism—Roots of the Nazi Holocaust.


                  2. skippy

                    Well put Mr Mexico… the stink goes – way back – under many guises and is retread with any new thunkit of the day.

                    1. skippy

                      @Lambert… I feel ya… although finding a member or side of the family were cannibals, brings us to the age old question… Do we hide the facts, preserving the good family name or do we out them in public for the good of the community… at the cost of the good family name.

                      skippy… I though the hole eugenics period, in question, was fleshed out fairly well on this blog w/substantive evidence back in the day, Lindbergh, across the Atlantic and their mentors. Just saying…

      2. markf

        By Jerry White

        12 February 2011
        “With the Obama administration set to release its budget next Monday, details of the savage cuts being prepared are coming to the surface. In the largest cut thus far, the administration plans to slash funding in half for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps the poor, elderly and handicapped pay their heating and cooling costs.”

        ( It was hard to do, but Obama just had no choice on this.

    2. direction

      4 miscarriages and the hubby dies of cancer shortly after her? Four words could have been highlighted more in this article, and those are “nearby chicken processing plant.” The chicken industry in this country is a toxic nightmare. Not just for workers but for local groundwater. I agree that the poor white death rate is probably increasing (compared to blacks) because of drug use, but local activists in Arkansas have been fighting the corrupt chicken industry over mysterous sickness and death for decades.

      My friend fled from Arkansas; lost his land and everything for being a clean water activist. Told stories about the factories sending trucks out with huge nozzles that sprayed a jet of nasty goop all over farmland (and the farmers probably paid for it). The goop was the factory cleaning waste. Killed everything, but then in the Spring it’d come back super green from all the nitrogen and phosphates so it looked like great fertilizer but it’s full of poisons. Just another hazard for the invisible rural poor.

      1. JTFaraday

        “4 miscarriages and the hubby dies of cancer shortly after her? Four words could have been highlighted more in this article, and those are “nearby chicken processing plant.””

        I should have just read your comment rather than slogging through all that mindless meandering bullsh*t about the meaninglessness of this woman’s life due to her apparent evasion, however it came about, of the 12 hour shift at the “industrial bakery” that’s killing her peers.

        The wages of sin and sloth are death!

        No one ever dropped dead prematurely or miscarried in, say, Tom’s River, NJ:

        “For more than forty years, its residents ingested trichloroethylene, styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) trimer, epichlorohydrin, benzidine, and naphthalene. These are poisons known or suspected to cause cancer. Some are the by-products of dye-making; trichloroethylene is an industrial solvent; SAN trimer forms during the production of plastics. Regardless of these chemicals’ origins, their presence in the air and the aquifer used by the Toms River Water Company led to Toms River being designated a residential cancer cluster…

        Caught between the pincers of Ciba-Geigy and Reich Farm (a toxic waste dump), residents of Toms River continued to drink water full of mutagenic chemicals, which can damage DNA and potentially lead to cancer. The tainted water (and air) was especially dangerous to pregnant women, since fetuses, with their rapidly dividing cells, are highly susceptible to cancer-causing invaders.”

        Well, we are talking about the American Prospect, which gave us Matty and Ezra. These are some of the most sheltered people writing on internets today.

        And that’s saying quite a bit. Thanks Robert Reich and Bob Kuttner, progressives extraordinaire!

        If the industrial bakery doesn’t kill you, the chicken shit will.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      It is a revealing glimpse, not just in the social catastrophe but in the sadness of life where happiness can’t be pursued due to having the deck stacked so high against any chance, that feeling good, being happy, following some routine cycle of birthdays, holidays and seasons is just impossible due to miserable conditions. My daughters lost a friend that they knew since being teenagers. She died before she even made it to 30. She could be the poster girl for this story, with no education, 2 kids with a manchild of a husband, came from a rural W. Virginia background to Philadelphia and drifted in and out of alcohol and pills until she lost her kids to her ex husband before she died. The beating that poor whites take from rural, small town America, especially the Southern US should come as no surprise from the land of slavery and rural backwardness. The impoverishment of the Southern citizenry and hurt of military defeat seemed like a joke to me for most of my adult life, until I realized how deep the human emotions of defeat and ridicule could cut a people for generations. A small hint of the wound is sung by THE BAND in the song: “THE NIGHT THE DROVE OLD DIXIE DOWN”.

      The slaughter of the Confederate soldiers was the death knell fo the Southern economy, which outside of the plantation system was agrarian, mostly small farmers. And the engine of the Southern farm in this instance was the male farmer, who upon leaving for war, left wife and family to starvation. Recent history of Southern women during the conflict reveals the scarcity of foodstuffs, due to the interruption of farming drove women, sometimes in armed gangs to steal food from merchants and supply houses to feed hungry children and the elderly. Faced with a brutal transition to farming and housework and child rearing as widows, the life of Southern white women was bleak and back breaking work. It still makes me cringe when I hear the term “THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION”. Especially from the mouths of educated sub-urban Southerner, but you have to go to school to have these kind of cultural revisionist nonsense transmitted to you and yours.

      The profound sense of defeat and subsequent oppressive environment of reactionary Southern politicians in creating a politics preoccupied with race , the rather recent urbanization and move to industry via relocation of factories from the North to escape unions, taxes etc has not served the development of the people in many Southern states. Last place in too many categories of progress from health care, to housing, to educational attainment almost always finds the Southern states at the head of the class. And the humiliation of it all is such a deep wound. A similar situation could be seen parallel in Algeria, as chronicled by Albert Camus, the French-Algerian writer. Here is an excerpt from a review of a new translation for the first time into English of some his best articles about the Algerian crisis that was perhaps the largest political and cultural battleground for France after WWII.


      “….. the book is composed of a series of articles Camus wrote in 1939 on Kabylia, a mountainous region in the north of Algeria inhabited for centuries by the Kabyle people, a subset of the Berbers. They had fought French colonization long and hard in the late 19th century. By the 1930s they were a defeated population living in ignorance, unemployment, and near starvation. “In a country where sky and land are invitations to happiness,” Camus wrote, “millions of people are suffering from hunger[.] On every road one sees haggard people in rags.” Not only were they in rags, they lived on a diet of bread and thistles: children died regularly of eating poisonous roots they mistook for edible ones. Those few who went to school, arrived “naked and covered with lice” having walked miles from their villages, eating a fig, an onion, a rare barley cake.

      Early on in the series, Camus writes:

      I would like to dispose of certain arguments often heard in Algeria, arguments that use the supposed Kabyle ‘mentality’ to excuse the current situation. These arguments are beneath contempt. It is despicable, for example, to say that these people can adapt to anything. . . . When it comes to clinging to life, there is something in a man capable of overcoming the most abject miseries. It is despicable to say that these people don’t have the same needs we do.

      A discovery that really shocked him was the inequality of the government’s distribution of grain, vital in a country such as Algeria, between the natives and the Europeans. In approximation, the grain distributed to a family of five natives for two weeks would have fed a French family of three for two days.

      A handout of 12 liters of grain every two or three months to families [of natives] with four or five children is the equivalent of spitting in the ocean. Millions are spent every year, and those millions do no good. . . . in some cases the results of charity are useless.”

      Further in the review, the comments I find most telling of how the life is crushed out of a people:………….

      “..Humiliation, said Chekhov, is the worst thing that one human can inflict on another. It ruins the souls of those who act and those who are acted upon. The native peoples of Algeria had lived for a hundred years under the rule of the French, who despised, tormented, and, above all, humiliated them. Generations of natives were born into an inherited fear and hatred of those who had thus undone not only them but their parents and grandparents as well.”

      The humiliation of the Southern people, both Black and White is widely documented. The beloved “BEVERLY HILLBILLIES”, one the most watched TV programs in history of broadcast TV, (seriously, 3 of its regular shows are on lists with Super Bowls, World Series, and super duper special events like the last episode of Dallas, “Who Shot JR?”) is a long running joke on every cliche about rednecks ever assembled. The still ever present Confederate Flag as a cultural icon on license plates, t-shirts etc is almost incomprehensible to White people from the North and almost every Black person you would talk to about it. But there it is. A symbol of unbowed, unrepentant rebellion and historic pride of ancestors. And never more so than among the poor, the working class, blue collar, proud as hell to a red neck Southerner. If only they could live so long in less misery to see what else the could be proud about, other than a lost cause that was never their cause.

      1. neo-realist

        “The beating that poor whites take from rural, small town America, especially the Southern US should come as no surprise from the land of slavery and rural backwardness.”

        Some African Americans may say “Misery loves company yo”.

      2. craazyman

        Paul that was a long, long time ago. All true, but time passes and there’s been a lot that’s passed.

        Those sentiments are perhaps like something out of a Faulkner novel — Jason Compson himself — when it was just 50 years since Gettysburg and a southern man might feel some atavistic pain from the failure of Picket’s Charge.

        But it’s been too long now. Too long. The excuses last so much longer than the reasons. It’s mankind’s curse, to fail to escape, as another great Modernist, James Joyce — apostle of a nation trapped in a centuries-old karma which won’t seem to end — famously said, “from the nightmare of history”. How do people wake up? I don’t know, personally.

          1. sufferinsuccotash, stupor mundi

            The quickest way to wake up is to study history. Then it’s neither dream nor nightmare. But expecting most Americans to study history is like expecting liberals to get through to the people in Cave City AK. Don’t hold your breath.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You can dream that you are waking up.

              Alternatively, you can dream that people would study history.

              Then you can say, ‘I have a dream.’

              And we can all have the same dream.

              And maybe the world would change and people would wake up.

              If people want to say, ‘we have a dream,’ I say, good for you.

        1. Endymion

          I wake up when the nightmare becomes too frightening.

          Unfortunately it can often get pretty scary without getting too frightening.

          Which is perhaps where we are now.

        2. Paul Tioxon

          It was a long time ago, but not forgotten. Newt Gingrich makes a healthy stream of income with his alternative history novels of the Civil War where the South wins. These are extremely popular best sellers, among history students of the Civil War, and ardent Dixiecrats. And that is in the last decade. The cultural transmission of an ideology of the lost cause, as if the South waged a noble battle that meant something, and Lincoln was a soulless stooge of Northern business interests with no more moral calculus than what will he have for lunch today, is alive and well.

          It is driven by more than an attic full of dusty family heirlooms packed away in great great grandfather’s trunk. It is renewed and spread with a robust missionary fervor. The attitude is one of simply not surrendering as Robert E. Lee did so, but of resistance through remembrance. These people are wide awake and deliberately cultivating the peculiar institution of a righteous people, a righteous cause, and unwillingness to assimilate into the general American common belief that our greater social identity is that of American citizens of the USA, but rather, some kind of Virginian or Georgian or whatever, as a the primary political unit of membership.

          I don’t think of them as quint or Quixotic and from what I can see, they are deliberate and fully intending of everything they say and believe in this regard. The periodic spread of citizens militias, from North to South as well as militant gun nut groups, other than the NRA, who see themselves as some sort of defenders, knights with AR-15s and body armor of the 2nd Amendment and the last line of defense against a federal police state. You need go no further than the Southern Poverty Law Center, who track all sorts of hate groups, to see just how alive this mentality is. The fact that they can be debunked is one thing, but that they are humiliated and derided and dismissed is part of the extensive branch of dehumanization of people who are not well educated, not regularly employed and not well assimilated into our current domestic economy that has be globalized, leaving many of them marginalized.
          My point is bring into the analysis, some points of reference that make the drastic decrease in life expectancy of poor white women, something plausible in terms of everyday experiences, such as popular TV programs, popular novels of an alternative American history of our Civil War. History is a continuum, and the past is stored in many cultural forms of expression that transmit ideas and emotions from one generation to the next. It is a nightmare, a traumatic experience never forgotten by the body and relived over and over again until the means of transmitting the past is eroded and is finally forgotten. But now, it seems all too fresh. How many Confederate flags symbols do you see in the next month? Count them.

      3. Lambert Strether

        Paul Tioxin: I’ve considered framing the KKK and the Jim Crow era as the world’s first authentically fascist regime (much as the entrenching tactics and war of attrition of the Civil War predated World War I by 50 years). Do you feel that’s a fruitful approach?

      4. Alexa

        Enjoyed your comment very much.

        But I suppose I see the causative factors as ones mostly of failed US economic and social insurance policies.

        During the Clinton Administration, NAFTA was fully implemented (1994) at approximately the same time that AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children–a program created by the Social Security Act)–was decimated.

        And of course, the Medicaid program has been under attack for decades, eliminating many “adults” from coverage.

        I’m pushed for time, but I believe that the American Prospect piece mentions that “Crystal was uninsured, and likely suffered from undiagnosed and/or untreated diabetes for years.”

        From my understanding, diabetes is a very serious disease left untreated. So, Crystal’s untimely death is not particularly puzzling, IHMO.

        And I consider the combination of toxic US trade policies, and the unraveling of the US social safety net (beginning in earnest, during the nineties) to be major contributing factors or causes of today’s trend of untimely deaths amongst the poorest and least educated Americans.

        And while I very much appreciate Julie Johnson’s willingness to mentor Crystal’s daughter, Megan, I was a bit surprised and puzzled by a couple of her comments, which demonstrated a bit of a “blame the victim” attitude, IMO.

        Sorry, guess I forgot that this sad story occurred in Arkansas–a literal “hotbed of conservatism.” ;-)

  8. Goin' South

    Re: Kansas Running Out of Water–

    The author does a nice job identifying the symptoms and a way out:

    “As the water stock dwindles, of course, pumping what’s left gets more and more expensive—and farming becomes less profitable and ultimately uneconomical. But all isn’t necessarily lost. The authors calculate that if the region’s farmers can act collectively and cut their water use 20 percent now, their farms would produce less and generate lower profits in the short term, but could sustain corn and beef farming in the area into the next century.”

    But what about the cause? Can anyone explain to me how Capitalism provides any real incentive to cut water use and profit now with the goal of maintaining the aquifer at some time in the relatively distant future, i.e. 40 or 50 years from now? Show me a curve from neoclassical economics that demonstrates how the effects on the next couple of generations become a factor in Capitalist decision-making.

    1. DanB

      This from Wikipedia: “Hotelling’s rule primarily addresses one basic question of the owner or agent involved in the exploitation of the non-renewable resource: How much of the asset should I consume now and how much should I store for the future? In other words, the agent has to choose between the current value of the asset if extracted and sold and the future increased value of the asset if left unexploited.” As you see, it’s about money as the great equalizer expression of value, not one iota of concern for future generations or the “external” consequences of resource extraction -let alone about philosophical trifles like whether individuals should have the right to control and profit from finite resources.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      There was a discussion about this issue the other day, Saturday’s posting as I recall. The aquifer is a common. The neo-liberal solution to every problem is the ‘market’. If there’s no cost associated with using up the aquifer then Hotelling’s rule applies. The neo-liberal solution is to define a cost to assess the users of the aquifer to ‘fix’ the market for water from the aquifer so that the users don’t use it all up. What cost can we give to using up all the water in the aquifer? (I believe that the aquifer is replentished — unlike oil — but at a slowing rate that’s less than the rate of use as clear from the projected depletion of the aquifer).

      In my opinion, coming up with a cost function and assessing costs to prevent using up all the water in the aquifer is not so simple. I don’t believe that the market can properly address this problem. However, it may be possible for the users to cooperate to find a way to ration their use.

      The earlier discussion considered the ‘tragedy of the commons’ paper by Harden and the later work of Lin Ostrum, particularly in one case documenting how the users of the Colorado river reaching California successfully managed the needs of the cities in balance with the needs of the Central Valley farmers also using the water. To me, Harden made a case that the market cannot successfully manage the externalities characteristic of a common and Ostrum’s work suggested that in certain cases cooperation between users could.

      I admit that my understanding of all the issues here is not as deep as I would like. I expect others might step in to better elaborate this thread. I believe that the question of designing a supplemental cost function for controling aquifer water use is related to the problems associated with the CO2 credits market. I never had that much faith in markets as the solution to all problems even before the latest financial crisis.

    3. optimader

      Can anyone explain to me how Capitalism provides any real incentive to cut water use and profit now with the goal of maintaining the aquifer at some time in the relatively distant future, i.e. 40 or 50 years from now?

      Sure, here’s a simple and dramatic example:

      Dust Bowl Era

      In response to the disastrous effects of the Dust Bowl,
      government programs were redesigned to encourage
      diversified agricultural crop production using tested
      practices and improved tools. That is, agriculture was
      empowered with new noninverting tillage implements
      capable of penetrating the hard dry soils like the Graham-
      Hoeme plow for controlling weeds while retaining crop
      residue at the soil surface.[8] Innovative wheat-sorghum
      cropping sequences optimized soil water storage opportunities
      and increased the probability of capturing rain for
      crop use. A growing number of managers now farming the
      Great Plains minimize soil disturbance and protect their
      crop residues as vital resources to optimize the storage of
      precipitation as soil water.[17] The efficiency of precipitation
      storage in the soil has improved from about 20%
      during the Dust Bowl to more than 40% by using
      innovative crop sequences with fallow periods and no or
      reduced tillage.[18] Farmers now utilize preplanned
      alternative rotation sequences to optimize crop water use
      during periods of beneficial rain and include other
      production inputs like fertilizers in response to specific

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The dustbowl article you referenced describes government policy to turn farmers toward crops better suited to their local climate after the dustbowl had started up — but that isn’t exactly the ‘Market’ or ‘Capitalism’ acting to fix the problem. As I understand the way a market works, if the profits from irrigated crops are higher than the profits from the crops better suited to the local climate, folks will go on planting the irrigated crops and pulling on the aquifer.

    1. direction

      I am enjoying his recommendations:

      “The way to fix it is to change the campaign finance laws, so you have public financing, and congressmen aren’t spending 75% of their time raising money for their next election. As soon as they get elected, they’re immediately raising money for their re-election campaign! So first and foremost, we have to reform the lobbying laws. It’s one thing for a bank to say, “We have a concern about this regulation and here’s what our issues are.” It’s something completely different to say, “We’re writing this regulation, we’re giving it to you to submit, and by the way here’s a $100,000 cheque for your re-election campaign.” The Romans would call that graft. The Romans had a great punishment for that. Anyone caught corrupting a public official would have their nose cut off, be tied in a burlap sack – naked with a wildcat – and thrown into the Tiber. And let me tell you, you go to one or two of those, and there’s not much corruption going forward.”

    1. Malmo

      If the UN Security Council does not back Obama and he then acts alone, he would be in violation of the very international law he decries the Syrians of breaching. So much for his so called moral authority.

      As for Putin, it looks as if he’s leaving the door open for approval of the Security Council’s resolution. It really does come down to the accuracy of the intelligence gathered. I know I’m skeptical, and unless it’s 100% accurate that Assad was behind the attacks then I’m afraid Russia–and myself and many others–are on solid ground in our opposition to it being an arguably legitimate basis for military action. Obama can’t have it both ways. One can’t pick and choose the international law they want to follow. It’s either all or nothing if one wants to come off as credible.

      1. Bill the Psychologist

        I’m coming to the conclusion that Obama is a rank amateur as a politician, and is being led around by the nose by the NSA/CIA/Pentagon etc.

        I voted for him the first time, not the 2nd, and have been a self-identified Democrat all my adult life, I’m now 69.

        My “come to Jesus” moment, when I realized there is only one political party, united against the people, was the TARP vote.

        1. neo-realist

          For me, it was a combination of his selection of the economic team and a call for Social Security cuts—To me, Obama definitely showed that he was working for interests other than the common American (but, hell, I should have realized that was the case with Presidents since Dealey Plaza:/).

            1. Malmo

              Alan Grayson questioned Chuck Hagel today about those intercepts they claim they have of the Assad regime congradulating each other after the chemical attack. Grayson asked Hagel if he heard reports of other interceps which had Assad’s military wondering what happened, thereby contradicting Kerry’s claim regarding said intercepts. Hagel said he heard nothing of them, but Grayson seemed sure they exist. Givn that along with my link above, I now conclude that we are be fed lies and fabrications based on dubious intelligence. We’re being had, folks, once again.

              1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

                Yes, I watched on C-SPAN via the web about 2.5 hours of the approximately 3h48 min session. Rep. Tom Marino was very skeptical of an AUMF, Tom Marino: I saw tougher questioning than from the Senate Committee on Tuesday, I think.

        2. Synopticist

          “I’m coming to the conclusion that Obama is a rank amateur as a politician…”

          Yes, I’ve been saying that for a while. He’s no good. Back in 2011 when the debt ceiling ( or what ever it was) battles where taking place with the republicans, I walked into a pub and the BBC news was on above the bar. The guy standing nest to me, who I vaguely knew, turned round to me and said, in effect, “why can’t he understand the republicans aren’t ever going to compromise with him, they’re never going to be charmed by him, they’ll always hate his guts ?”

          That bloke, who had the very briefest interest in US politics, understood the deep political reality of Washington better than Obama did.

          1. Propertius

            An alternative interpretation is that he delivered exactly what he was paid for – which was decidedly not what the saps who voted for him thought they were getting.

  9. tyler

    RE: “Ariel Castro: Convicted Cleveland kidnapper/rapist hangs himself”

    I doubt he stopped existing when he stopped breathing. Research suggests he likely went through a painful life review in which he had to feel all the pain he caused the three girls. If you’re interested, check out

  10. AbyNormal

    re, Whats Killing Poor White Women…your correct its a must read David and thanks for sharing the find.

    “The desperation of the times. I don’t know anything about anything, but that’s what kills them.”
    …sit with that!

    Women do two thirds of the world’s work. Yet they earn only one tenth of the world’s income and own less than one percent of the world’s property. They are among the poorest of the world’s poor. Barber B. Conable, Jr

    1. AbyNormal

      Charles Morse: You know, I once read an interesting book which said that, uh, most people lost in the wilds, they, they die of shame.

      Stephen: What?

      Charles Morse: Yeah, see, they die of shame. “What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?” And so they sit there and they… die. Because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives.

      Robert Green: And what is that, Charles?

      Charles Morse: Thinking.

      (movie: The Edge)

  11. John Moore

    Congratulations! No watching the watchers section. The administration has managed to distract everyone by meaningless threats against a small country that can in no way harm us. Meanwhile, the NSA gains more power and control and we are one step closer to being a fascist tyranny. Good bye United States of America. Good bye US Constitution. America awoke briefly, rolled over, and went back to sleep after swatting at a gnat.

    1. David Dayen Post author

      there are actually watching the watchers stories in there, I just didn’t accumulate them into a section.

  12. Watt4Bob

    The squandering of ancient water stores in the American plains is driven by the same thing that drives the third-world population bomb; it’s the Corn/Cattle infestation nurtured by the Big Grain multinationals.

    Famine sets the price of grain, and so it’s integral to the function of the world grain market.

    If their weren’t starving people in Africa, the Big Grain merchants wouldn’t have a reliable way to set the price of their product.

    H/T to Dan Morgan, his book; Merchants of Grain, The Power and Profits of the Five Giant Companies at the Center of the World’s Food Supply

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        14,000 BC – you had small bands of freedom loving hunter-gatherers all over the world.

        Then came temple-before-city Gobekli Tepe and agriculture.

        Around 10,000 BC, the goat and sheep were tamed. Did some people escape from the agricultural ‘Eden’ and became shepherds?

        By 3,000 BC – you had slavery everywhere.

        Then the horse was tamed.

        Did enslaved farmers escape the second time from agriculture ‘Eden’ to become nomads? Or were these nomads former shepherds?

        In any case, it seems that some escaped from Eden, not expelled, and most of them had since be seduced to return to Eden – it was a garden, not a pastoral field, that right there is your hint. Nobody gets expelled from slavery. They escape from slavery.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          As Christopher Ryan & Calcida Jetha write in Sex At Dawn

          “Turns out, the Garden of Eden wasn’t really a garden at all. It was anything but a garden: jungle, forest, wild seashore, open savanna, windblown tundra. Adam and Eve weren’t kicked out of a garden. They were kicked into one. . . Think about it. What’s a garden? Land under cultivation. Tended. Arranged. Organized. Intentional. Weeds are pulled or poisoned without mercy; seeds are selected and sown. There’s nothing free or spontaneous about such a place. Accidents are unwelcome. But the story says that before their fall from grace, Adam and Eve lived carefree, naked, and innocent – lacking nothing. Their world provided what they needed: food, shelter, and companionship. . . But after the fall the good times were over. Food, previously the gift of a generous world, now had to be earned through hard work. Women suffered in giving birth. And sexual pleasure – formerly guilt free – became a source of humiliation and shame. Although the biblical story has it that the first humans were expelled from the garden, the narrative clearly got reversed somewhere along the line. The curse suffered by Adam and Eve centers around the exchange of the arguably lo-stress, hi-pleasure life of foragers (or bonobos) for the dawn-to-dusk toil of a farmer in his garden. Original sin represents the attempt to explain why on Earth our ancestors ever accepted such a raw deal. . . The story of the Fall gives narrative structure to the traumatic transition from the take-it-where-you-find-it hunter-gatherer existence to the arduous struggle of agriculturalists.”

          Italics in the original

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That garden was actually a garden, not a wild place.

            They escaped from that garden.

            I believe they did not get expelled from a wild (and free) place, but escaped slavery imposed by agriculturists.

            1. anon y'mouse

              nature is God’s garden (should you believe in such).

              I always took that metaphor to mean that we were living off of the land like animals (hunter/gathering) and then “woke up” to the ag. biz in a big way from the fruit of knowledge that we could impact/change our environment and put natural things somewhat at our command.

              so, the fall from grace was a fall from natural abundance into the world of scarcity sown by agriculture.

              but heck, the thing is as vague as can be, so we can all see what we want. like Rorschach tests.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Nature is God’s cave – this from a caveman.

                Nature is God’s pasture – this from a nomad/shepherd.

                Nature is God’s forest – this from a forest-dwelling Mbuti.

                Nature is God’s garden – this from a farmer/fruit grower.

                The metaphor reflects what you do.

                Thus, I believe the garden was a garden, not nature, for those who have escaped from enslaving agriculturists. To these nomads/shepherds, nature was God’s pasture. To them, God had nothing to do with wicked things like gardens or orchards.

  13. Bill the Psychologist


    I guess they gave him enough rope………?

  14. Jagger

    John Kerry is doing a Colin Powell. Even worse is watching all his flip flops and qualifications. He will never have credibility again. He is done.

    1. curlydan

      But boy does he have GRAVITAS…if only he had Kissinger’s gravelly voice to go along with it! And Kerry had his canned BS “we live in a great country” speech when Medea Benjamin got up and started shouting.

      2004 must have been some dark times when I was working for that tool. In my mind’s partial defense, I’ve got to admit that the 2004 Republican National Convention was scary.

  15. barrisj

    Surely others have noticed as well that the “Crisis in Syria” media orgasm has completely catapulted “Snowden/NSA” out of public consciousness and media attention, just when serious discussions of all facets of the Surveillance State was seriously impeding NSA business-as-usual uncontrolled and indiscriminate spying.
    And, be prepared to hear via selected leaks that NSA surveillance has uncovered several “plots” by “pro-Assad” groups based in the US to “take revenge” if/when Dr Drone does his thang and sends in the Tomahawks. Remember, you read it here first.

    1. jrs

      Yes, perhaps it’s all distraction, the fact that war with Syria might, just might, fail in Congress makes me think it might be possible. But in the meantime since they pretend like they want another major war in the Middle East, we have to fight them as if they mean it. Fight them as if we’re fighting off World War III, it’s possible we could be.

      By the way I definitely don’t believe we were on the verge of reforming or eliminating the NSA. Because I don’t believe you get rid of the deep state that easily. It’s entrenched via money and every contractor company and it’s profits, it’s entrenched via physical data centers, maybe it’s entrenched via it’s own spookery and all the people it had dirt on, and it’s been around for awhile. The story sold the masses is that it could just be defunded and that would be it (never mind it’s black budget). But seems a bit keyfabe to me, mind you I support such attempts.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bridges falling apart…

    While bigger and fancier sports facilities are being erected…

    And still have enough money left for new mansions in Beverly Hills.

  17. rich

    Wall Street’s Secret “Economic Endgame”: Making the World Safe for Banksters, Syria in the Cross-hairs

    In an August 2013 article titled “Larry Summers and the Secret ‘End-game’ Memo,” Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement of the World Trade Organization.

    The “end-game” would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned; and “usury” – charging rent for the “use” of money – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime.That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly-owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don’t need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations.

    Bank deregulation proceeded according to plan, and the government-sanctioned and -nurtured derivatives business mushroomed into a $700-plus trillion pyramid scheme. Highly leveraged, completely unregulated, and dangerously unsustainable, it collapsed in 2008 when investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, taking a large segment of the global economy with it. The countries that managed to escape were those sustained by public banking models outside the international banking net.

    1. craazyboy

      Wasn’t this supposed to be Wolf Blitzer flying to the refuge camps and interviewing Syrians so we coulda saw the news on CNN?

      Also, ZH just posted on the Qatar NG pipeline plan, going thru Syria and Turkey to Europe and breaking the Russian monopoly as the main geopolitical reason for regime change in Syria. Assad was blocking it. Qatar is tiny, but best buds with Saudi if we need a proper strongman running a free Syria!

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