Link 10/25/13

Dear e-mail and RSS subscribers, I’ll be adding more links but I needed to launch for 7:00 AM! Please check back.

How to Build a Happier Brain Atlantic

Deaths of almost 600 pets tied to jerky treats Salon (Carol B) :-(

Greek devastation and unstoppable debt spirals loom Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Drone Issue Hovers, Even as U.S. Strikes Ebb New York Times

Norway Declines Request to Destroy Syrian Chemical Weapons Wall Street Journal

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Germany and France demand talks with Obama over NSA spying revelations Guardian

Britain and the US ‘spied on Italy’ Telegraph

Frenemies: Spying on Allies Fits Obama’s Standoffish Profile Der Spiegel

UK spy chiefs to give evidence Guardian

Facebook Could Face Investigation In Ireland Over PRISM Data Techweek Europe

U.S. alerting partner nations on Snowden files Washington Post. Oh, it must be REALLY bad.

Don’t Let the NSA Kill the Internet Bloomberg

Obamacare Launch

Tests began too late, builders of site say Washington Post. As Lambert said! pricing feature can be off the mark CBS News (furzy mouse)

‘ is in de facto shutdown’ Ezra Klein (Lambert)

Your health plan changing? Employers, insurers largely to blame Daily Kos. Carol B: “The next phase of blame somebody else.”

Just What Is an 834 Transaction? Why Is It Holding Up Obamacare? How Long Will This Take to Fix? Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review (Lambert)

Late Night: Who Needs a Bathtub? cocktailhag, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Bond Traders Are Passing Around This Report That Says The Fed Has Hit ‘Ctrl-Alt-Delete’ On Tapering Business Insider

Fed Proposes a Rule to Help Big Banks Stay Liquid in Times of Crisis New York Times

Drop in teen driving tracks with teen unemployment, HLDI study finds IIHS

The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street Nation (Richard Smith)

The cost of the financial crisis hits Americans harder than banks Guardian. A feature, not a bug.

Russell Brand on revolution: “We no longer have the luxury of tradition” New Statesman

NEWSNIGHT – Paxman vs Brand. Full Interview BBC. 2.3 million view after one day.

A New Ideology and How to Create a Viable Ideology Ian Welsh. I flagged these in a post too, but you need to read them!

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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  1. Jim Haygood

    From the Daily Caller:

    Hundreds of thousands of Americans who purchase their own health insurance have received cancellation notices since August because the plans do not meet Obamacare’s requirements.

    The number of cancellation notices greatly exceed the number of Obamacare enrollees.

    Insurance carrier Florida Blue sent out 300,000 cancellation notices, or 80 percent of the entire state’s individual coverage policies, Kaiser Health News reports. California’s Kaiser Permanente canceled 160,000 plans — half of its insurance plans in the state — while Blue Shield of California sent 119,000 notices in mid-September alone.

    More Americans have lost their individual health coverage in Florida and California than have gotten past the login screen on, according to the WaPo which reports that 476,000 applications have “been started,” but not completed.

    In fact, using partial numbers of cancellations reported from five states, one finds 1.5 million cancellations:

    NJ ……… 800,000
    FL …….. 300,000
    CA …….. 279,000
    DC ……… 76,000 [includes parts of VA and MD]
    PA ………. 24,000

    TOTAL 1,479,000

    As ol’ Jim Morrison used to say, ‘Pretty good, huh?’ Three times as many booted (in just five states) than even started a ’99 clicks and you’re covered (SM)’ application.

    Pelosinomics, comrades: we had to destroy the individual health insurance market in order to save it!

        1. AbyNormal

          i’m sure i’ll catch hel! about the ‘free’ bit…but the reality of the PRESENT economic situation is this: How does an ill society turn this mess around? the answer is obvious…we don’t and its not and that’s their ‘plan’.

          they’re gonna pile us to the sky, without a blink

          “The dew of compassion is a tear.”
          Lord Byron

    1. Ned Ludd

      I received a notice from my insurance company indicating that they would not cancel my plan because I purchased it before 2010. However, they are raising my premiums by 20%, and instead of waiting until the end of my policy period, Obamacare apparently lets them raise my rates starting January 1st.

    2. JohnL

      1. 35,000 enrolled in WA so far
      2. Remember that your insurance company lobbied for this instead of the single payer we should have had. The Coercive Power of Capitalism at work.

    3. Jerome Armstrong

      “The number of cancellation notices greatly exceed the number of Obamacare enrollees.”

      No shit. Imagine my surprise at getting called last night after i got out of Yoga class (I do the Bikram 90 minute kill your ego set) and some kid is calling me on my cell phone (how did he get that number) about “since ACA has cancelled your insurance I’m here to help you…” whatever… I asked, are you going to help impreach Obama? No? OK, have a nice day, nameste.

      What pathetic nonsensical chaos the Democrats have inflicted on people. Hucksters preying on people’s insurance needs with tele spam. There’s a firestorm brewing and it will be pointed right at the Democrats and Obama.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I’m very glad the Republicans are collapsing (if indeed the polls are right) because if they do, who needs Democrats? Of course, the last time this happened, in 2008 with Bush, Obama gave them a hand up, dusted them off, and let them right back in the game…. but I think that play will be harder to run this time.

    4. Binky bear

      factoid regurgitation and apples/bananas comparisons do not an argument make. At least this was too large for Palin to write on her hand this time.
      -How many people were going to be dumped by their insurance companies anyway?
      -How many of the states mentioned have their own exchanges not connected to the federal program?
      -Why not mention that the Federal program is cleanup for incompetent or antagonistic states run by ideologically driven sociopaths desirous of maintaining a status quo harmful to their own citizens? Sean Parnell, looking at you.
      -Why not even make note of the fact that this is in the first three weeks of a revolutionary program, based on conservative policy choices and designed by GOP think tanks and as such will taint Conservative preferences as unworkable, rather than liberals?
      Why not note that despite the weaknesses and failures of the program as composed by Romney, Heritage et al., that Americans still wish to procure health insurance and appreciate that this program has lowered their costs of access?
      Until Russell Brand takes over, we get what we get.

      1. taunger

        You final sentence reveals your orientation toward the problem, which won’t help in the near of far term. We don’t need apologists for either party’s arrogance and incompetence. We need to point out the problems and find others willing to work on solutions.

    5. Marianne Jones

      This is me. I live in the state of Oregon, and just got a cancellation notice last week. I am hopping onto PSU’s student plan at the end of the year. Need only 5 credits, and the premium was only slightly more expensive than my total crap bargain basement plan that just got cancelled. And no need of the shiat broken .gov website.

      1. anon y'mouse

        hello, fellow PSU student.

        tell me how that works out for you. I find the terms unclear and those that are not, unworkable, but I also have no extra finances with which to see doctors anyway.

        for me, it’s over $500 per term that I would rather not have to repay on my loans.

        to each their own.

    6. afisher

      I find that pretty amusing. Some are whining because Private Health Insurance Companies are sending out letters saying: Gee, sorry to inform you that the crap policy that we sold you will no longer be available – because it is crap.

      Any yet, if one pays attention, folks will actually learn that shopping for NON-crap policies can actually be found that are both better and less expensive and in the Private market for the I won’t even look at that dastardly ACA site.

      I know that sucks, but hey, it is reality.

    1. anon y'mouse

      my cat does this when he notices that you have yOGurt.

      “all your yogurts are belong to us.”

  2. grayslady

    The article on the 834 transaction was particularly enlightening. It’s a shame no one in Congress understood what they were voting on with ACA. If any real questions had been asked, Congress would have learned that the only shared cost program for medical care in the public arena is Extra Help for Medicare Part D. That program works quite successfully because nothing is computerized until information contained in paper documents–mailed through the postal service by Social Security, and returned via the postal service by the recipient–are completed and reviewed by human beings, not computers. A follow-up letter from the chosen insurance company to the Social Security recipient is then sent, also via the postal service, to the insured, confirming the subsidy rate for the forthcoming year.

    Notably, this is a multi-step process: first, you enroll in Medicare, deciding at the time whether or not you want (to pay for) Part B. Once you’re set up for Medicare A and B, THEN you are asked if you want a Medicare Part D plan. Finally, you are asked if you want to apply for Extra Help. More steps and more paperwork than Obamacare? Absolutely. Error rate? Zero. Common sense suggests that taking one step at a time, rather than trying to process all information at once, leads to more satisfactory processing outcomes when complex programs are involved. Again, it’s clear that no one thought this through before signing off on the legislation. Sebelius and crew handed the task off to the Medicare/Medicaid team, but then didn’t let them use existing protocols, apparently, that were known to work.

  3. Butch In Waukegan

    The US message to the world: Suck it up and deal with it!

    From the Guardian’s NSA article:

    The revelations are threatening to create a major rift between the US and its European allies. The former Belgian prime minister and leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that such activities had to be curtailled. “There is no reason to spy on Angela Merkel. It’s a real scandal,” he said. “A new agreement is needed between the EU and the US; this cannot continue.

    The next paragraph:

    Others, however, were less shocked by recent reports. “I can’t believe anyone is terribly surprised,” Kurt Volker, a former US ambassador to Nato, told the same programme. Volker said every government tried to collect the best possible information, adding: “As a government official for many years I assumed that my cellphone and email account were susceptible to spying.”

    Why can’t the rest of the world be more like the sophisticated realists that run the World’s Only Superpower†?

    †For now anyway. Though rarely reported in this country, the NSA scandal is doing real damage to the US abroad. From a McClatchy article yesterday:

    European politicians have been getting louder in recent weeks about how without full disclosure and ways to ensure that surveillance activities have ceased, a proposed trade agreement between the United States and the European Union is, at best, on hold.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a big No No to not observe the Medieval chivalry code of a Christian king not killing another Christian king. Thus you kept King Richard the Lionheart in prison for ransom; whereas else in the ‘uncivilized’ worlds, a king’s head is not so much different from a serf’s – witness ruler 18 Rabbit of Copan, who built magnificent buildings that we normally associate with ‘civilizition’ in Copan, was captured by the neighboring Quirigua and promptly sacrificed.

      So, I expect as soon as the European 0.01% sort things out (restoring chivalry) with our 0.01%, this will all blow over.

      1. anon y'mouse

        really, false outrage is for their own people and their own gov’ts image maintenance.

        after a few committees and gutless laws, the population will go back to sleep and the political monkeys will be able to drop the ball and go do something else.

    2. Glenn Condell

      ‘the NSA scandal is doing real damage to the US abroad.’

      I was watching Al-Jazeera last night and it struck me how big the allied spying story was, not just as the lead but peripheral to other stories too. I wonder if CNN played it the same way.

      This damage is to the US’s soft power, which is also being eroded by the drip-drip growth of outrage over the drone program. But hard power is being trimmed by the NSA too, in that the big US tech firms (hard and software) have seen precipitous drops in foreign sales.

      At what point do Main Street and Wall Street team up to prevent a corporate clusterfuck that affects American 1%er interests?

    1. Butch In Waukegan

      Yea. With Call of Duty and Combat Mission why would they ever need to leave the house?

      If gas was more expensive and computer war games existed when I came of age, I might have ended up supporting our imperial adventures.

      1. neo-realist

        “If gas was more expensive and computer war games existed when I came of age, I might have ended up supporting our imperial adventures.”

        That is long as you weren’t coerced into fighting in an imperial adventure like many other computer game controller warriors.

  4. 12312399

    Pesky government trade protectionism creates a boom in US jobs.

    “And while it might not be surprising that the City of Brotherly Love is home to a thriving shipbuilding economy, the reason for the boom might be: domestic oil production.
    Thanks to the century-old Jones Act, which requires all goods moved between U.S. ports to be carried by U.S.-flagged and U.S.-built vessels, shipbuilders across the country are working overtime to keep up with demand for tankers that can transport the bounty of newly drilled shale oil and gas now being produced in the United States.”

    1. down2long

      In keeping with diptherio’s comment that nothing is all bad, I guess the fact that Goldman Sachs is scooping us these tankers to float more oil offshore and manipulate prices with QE money also has an upside: Jobs in Philly!

      Have enjoyed the recent trouncing of oil markets. Of course, everyone knows oil markets are not being manipulated, and a pretty hefty drop like we’ve seen recently directly correlates – within pennies- with supply and demand.

      Incidentally, did anyone see Wetjen – the turncoat on the CFTC is busy talking his book and trying to get the CFTC to pull out of its lawsuit on derivatives? With Obama’s trashing of Gensler, fifth columnist Quisling Wetjen is making his move. Link to come.

  5. Too Clever?

    Bloomberg piece:

    I don’t agree with the conclusions this piece reaches but it tangentially speaks to my sometimes queasy feelings about the Snowden/NSA story.

    First, I thought none of the Snowden leaks were supposed to compromise US policy vis a vis foreign intelligence interests. However, these latest revelations shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone – especially world leaders – who is familiar with the Echelon system and the intel sharing agreements set up between various Western allies in the 90s. These latest leaks – Brazil, France, Germany, etc – really have nothing to do with domestic surveillance. There’s been a noted shift as of late in the nature of the leaks. Barring the fact that I’m sure foreign intelligence agencies are adept enough to have considered the possibility of phone-tapping by America at some point, what are the potential reasons for said leaks?

    Certainly even with “privacy agreements” – as witnessed with the Echelon system – the international elite will continue to share info no matter how “shocked” they playact in front of their home audiences. However, with legislation being introduced in various countries to “wall off” the Internet on a nation by nation basis are people in fact cheering on the end of the Internet?

    The NSA will be the big “loser” right? Except now the international elite no longer have to worry about the free flow of information around the planet as they will control the reins of their own info fiefdom.

    They don’t have to worry as much about information getting out or in because they have taken the “necessary precautions” to protect freedom lovers from the evil NSA, right?

    One of the last weapons the common world citizen has – i.e., free access to a world of information – will be no longer and all of us will have been cheering this development on.

    No need to have a catastrophic “terrorist” attack, no need for an Internet “kill switch” or any other catalyst which privacy advocates et al have warned us about in the past.
    Instead, those who most support the freedom of information will be the ones cheering on and implementing the end of the Internet all to protect us against the supposed spying of our intelligence agencies as revealed to us by a sole (former?) employee of said intelligence agencies.

    It’s so clever I could cry.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks diptherio.

      Sharing is the way to go – look at our organs.

      The kidney doesn’t say to the bladder, if we all act selfishly, it will benefit the all body. So, let me have all the nutrients from the stomach.

      Stomach: I want all the goodies.

      Lung: Well, I am keeping all the oxygen.

      Brain: I am the sovereign here. I do whatever I want. I am not sharing.

      Well, the body doesn’t work like that.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Happier brain.

    Sometimes an unhappy brain short term might just lead to a happy brain long term.

    I know, some people say, why resist? I am getting out of this country.

    Or someone people say, have a joint, be happy man! Do it as often as you can afford it and not get caught.

    Maybe…just maybe change will come one day, by unhappy people resisting and trying to bring about change…while we stay happy. Then we can all be happy.

    Or perhaps happy people do resist and bring about change…I don’t know.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How bankers profit from distress (British Edition).

    Who else profits from distress?

    1. political false messiahs
    2. economic false prophets proffering snake oil medicine that violates the Constitution and/or further empowers Big Brother because…er, we are in distress! Just this one time! These are people we can trust! They are virtuous! They will save us! Everything but empowering ourselves!

  8. WI Quarterback

    Yves, Lambert,

    I don’t know where/how to submit link recommendations, but this seems to be of interest to the NC readership…

    An influential computer security blog, KrebsOnSecurity broke a story Sunday about Experian selling consumer data to an identity theft website:

    An identity theft service that sold Social Security and drivers license numbers — as well as bank account and credit card data on millions of Americans — purchased much of its data from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, according to a lengthy investigation by KrebsOnSecurity.


    This investigation now has the attention of WV Senator Jay Rockefeller. A follow-up story can be found here:

  9. EmilianoZ

    Saez and Piketty want to tax the rich at 80%:

    doubling the average US individual income tax rate on the top 1% income earners from the current 22.5% level to 45% would increase tax revenue by 2.7% of GDP per year.

    Until the 1970s, policy-makers and public opinion probably considered – rightly or wrongly – that at the very top of the income ladder, pay increases reflected mostly greed rather than productive work effort. This is why governments were able to set marginal tax rates as high as 80% in the US and the UK. The Reagan/Thatcher revolution has succeeded in making such top tax rate levels “unthinkable” since then.

    The job of economists should be to make a top rate tax level of 80% at least “thinkable” again.

    1. Hugh

      My suggestions for taxation, which I have stated before and repost here, are the following:

      1. A 50% tax rate for incomes above $300,000 going to 75% at $1 million.

      2. A marginal 90% tax rate for income above $1 million. All earnings here and abroad from whatever source to be declared and taxed as income. Any wealth and/or income undeclared to be confiscated and subject to additional financial and criminal penalties.

      3. A yearly 10% asset tax on household wealth above $20 million.

      4. Current charitable foundations set up by families (think Gates, Buffet, etc.) to also be taxed at this same rate. Ban family foundations in the future.

      5. A 50% tax on gross corporate profits. All profits and assets here and abroad to be declared or subject to confiscation with additional financial and criminal penalties for both the corporations and their chief officers.

      6. 100% estate tax on all estates over $3.5 million per individual, $7 million for couples. Eliminate most trusts.

      I am flexible on the amounts and rates, but we really need to come to an understanding that our wealth and resources are not infinite and at some point we have to say enough is enough. Any more and you are stealing from the rest of us. Seriously, how many millions does a person need anyway? If we lived in a society with universal healthcare, free education, a right to a job that paid a living wage, and secure retirments, how much more does anyone need? How much more can anyone justify?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There ought to be a special category for those making over $100 million a year.

        Maybe also one for $50 million.

        These people are, while not special, exceptional.

      2. Glenn Condell

        If you tax it, it will leave…

        on the next flight to the Channel Isles or Switzerland.

        We need a way to seal off that option.

        1. Hugh

          As I said, confiscation and jail time. I would also prohibit the rich from dropping their US citizenship to avoid taxes and in fact would nullify those cases in recent years where this was done.

  10. Hugh

    As one of my relatives said recently, if Obama had wanted the site to work, he should have hired Snowden. Not only has Snowden shown he can identify the weaknesses in large systems but last I heard he was available.

    1. barrisj

      Andy Borowitz also thinks that Mr Snowden would do wonders for the benighted website:

      Snowden Offers to Fix
      MOSCOW (The Borowitz Report)—The N.S.A. leaker Edward Snowden today reached out to the United States government, offering to fix its troubled Web site in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

      Speaking from an undisclosed location in Russia, Mr. Snowden said he hacked the Web site over the weekend and thinks he is “pretty sure what the problem is.”

      “Look, this thing was built terribly,” he said. “It’s a government Web site, O.K.?”

      Mr. Snowden said that if an immunity deal can be worked out, “I can get to work on this thing right away—I don’t need a password.”

      In addition to full immunity, Mr. Snowden said he is requesting that he be allowed to work from home.

      “Work from home”…fab!

    1. anon y'mouse

      the woman in the article could get creative, and hire a ‘research assistant’ in form of a student at the local uni who has search access to most of these journals.

      then perhaps she wouldn’t feel so bad about using their infrastructure to obtain the information she needs.

      only thing barring this would be any rules that the student must adhere to, and I’ve never come across any that say that personal research is banned or limited in any way.

  11. Hugh

    Allies spy on allies, but there is generally an understanding that there are limits to this and the private communications of leaders are out of bounds. These limits are not based on morality but on the blowback they engender if such spying ever becomes public. Alexander’s “collect everything” has effectively blown up the foundations of our relations with our allies. It brings home the reality of the surveillance state, that the surveillance state isn’t just for the rubes and proles, it turns its gaze on the elites as well. Hence the anger, consternation, and discomfort in high places.

    1. Glenn Condell

      ‘it turns its gaze on the elites as well’

      Yes but the gaze lingers on some elites and passes over others with indecent haste.

      Has the entire history of Wall St in the last decade turned up no truffles for the spooks other than Eliot Spitzer’s extra-marital proclivities? Were the coke fuelled fraud honchos and their owners so collectively disciplined that they managed to avoid tell-tale e-bragging, apart from the few lowlies thrown to the lions, like that poor fellow who said a cow could have designed some CDO or other.

      Is there nothing there, or a whole lot of somethings that constitute ‘assets’ to the secrecy politburo, in the same way that a skeleton in Merkel or Rousseff’s closet?

  12. rich

    Detroit Council Protests Proposed Barclays Loan to Unwind Swaps

    A proposed $350 million loan from Barclays Plc (BARC) to Detroit will head to a state board for consideration under protest from the City Council.

    The council approved a resolution today urging U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to turn down the tax-backed loan, negotiated by Kevyn Orr, the city’s state-appointed emergency manager. Orr said the financing, which the judge also must approve, will save the city $60 million and free revenue to help the former auto-manufacturing center.

    The council Oct. 21 unanimously rejected the Barclays loan, which under state law gave it seven days to propose an alternative to Orr’s deal, which would be used to unwind the swaps tied to pension-related debt to save $60 million and free money for blight removal, public safety and infrastructure improvements. The council didn’t devise another plan, and instead passed the protest statement.

    The seven-day requirement didn’t give the council time to come up with an alternative, although “we worked hard to see if we could get a better deal,” president Saunteel Jenkins said today.

    “There really is no choice; there really is no democracy,” Jenkins said.

    The city would pledge revenue from payroll and gaming taxes to back the loan, as well as the proceeds of asset sales or leases that bring in more than $10 million, according to Orr. He said Barclays agreed to charge interest at the London Interbank Offered Rate plus 2.5 percent for as long as 30 months.

    The swaps, tied to $1.4 billion in pension bonds issued in 2005 and 2006, were a bet on the direction of interest rates, to hedge against a possible rise. Because rates fell, the city owes the banks. Under the terms of the contracts, cuts to the city’s credit ratings let the banks demand their termination.

  13. mcgee

    Lobbyists wrote the PPACA. Is it any surprise how this is turning out? More looting by the rentiers keeping the campaign contributions flowing and the politicos in their cushy positions, with a job waiting from whoever they did the most favors, if they do get replaced by someone on the other side of the duopoly. Some system, huh?

  14. b2020

    Welsh: “If someone’s going to offer me more than I can otherwise earn to betray the rest of my people, a lot of folks are going to take that deal unless they have the irrational belief that it’s wrong, and a rational belief that if they do it, those who have an irrational belief in the system will hurt them, or even kill them.”

    Welsh needs to read up on evolutionary stable strategies, and remember the scientific method. If there is an objective reality, one that we do not yet fully understand as relevant to our survival, and if we do not have evolutionary or even generational timescales left to trial-and-error ourselves into an unreasoning way of life that is compatible, “irrationality” is not going to help. If we are confronted with a reality that is not observed by us except on multi-generational or evolutionary timescales, *only* reason will allow us to detect, understand, and anticipate sucyh issues.

    And finally, “a rational belief that if they do it, those who have an irrational belief in the system will hurt them, or even kill them”, is an apt recipe for survival among the Khmer Rouge. If Welsh truly believes that building such a society is the leap forward, I hope I will not be around to witness such “success”.

    It is amazing how many luminaries of the blabbosphere – Greer comes to mind – are advancing ideas that are as unacceptable as they are shown dysfunctional by history.

    As far as violence is concerned, it is certainly true that the reasoning of Jesus, Gandhi, King has its limits, but as reasoning goes, it was far advanced – and far more aware of its own limitations and fallacies – than this.

    1. charles sereno

      Amazing. I had thought to make a comment about pacifism and then thought better of it because it’s considered “unrealistic.” The notables I intended to mention were — JC, Gandhi, and MLK. I’m glad you got them in.

    2. hunkerdown

      You’re quite clearly showing your own Rationalist religious biases here: anything that mutters the shibboleth of “scientific method” gets a pass; anything that smells ever so faintly of “irrationality” is by definition untrue, regardless of how well it may comport with observation or how little Rationalism cares to deal with the topic.

      If we are confronted with a reality that is not observed by us except on multi-generational or evolutionary timescales, *only* reason will allow us to detect, understand, and anticipate sucyh issues.

      I’m sure Welsh would agree with you here. By my understanding, the question he’s asking is not how to flatter the sensibilities of effete wankers who laughably and irrationally flatter themselves as “rational” from the comfort of their status symbols and competitive lifestyles and who believe that their enlightened yammering will fix the world’s problems like the magic that only exists in TV adverts (oops). That’s the mainstream’s raison d’être and they neither need nor merit the least bit of help.

      Welsh’s question, as I understand it by analogy to physics, is how to induce an energy gradient into a system that allows its members to exert more equal force on it and change that system’s momentum to suit their needs rather than dissipating it as heat (rationality suppresses, rather than induces, energy gradients). His observation is that ideologies are more *effective* in inducing, increasing and sustaining participation and exercise of power than effete wankery, which has reliably enough proven unhelpful and even hostile to the principle until the effete wankers themselves are in the crosshairs. His hypothesis is that it might be possible to engineer an ideology, an irrational construct, that motivates and sustains rational endeavors toward rational, broadly shared ends with broadly more equal outcomes. The study one might infer from his recent kick is to analyze ideologies as systems, to identify basic principles that might engender the sort of irrational attachments to rational ends that *motivate* grassroots action, especially in those too cool to think they’re susceptible to it (motivation is, after all, irrational; rationale moves nothing).

      How much more Sciencey could you want if you’re too scared of doing the actual experiment in case it might work and prove your smug enlightenment utterly expendable.

      In fact, rationality is merely the irrational choice of which circular question(s) to beg as axioms. Greer deconstructs this quite ably from a paleoconservative viewpoint, and others have analyzed the phenomenon likewise from other viewpoints. In that light your decision to ignore “action” as a significant step tells where your priorities lie: you seek to stop the discussion of philosophy among the servants in order to protect your entitlement to responsibility-free jawboning, wistful sighing and indifferent exploitation of those you deem beneath you, same as any other bourgeoisie in history.

      And finally, “a rational belief that if they do it, those who have an irrational belief in the system will hurt them, or even kill them”, is an apt recipe for survival among the Khmer Rouge.

      In fact, regardless of how many steps of graduated response there might be “up to and including”, the bottom line ground truth of human or many other animal societies is indeed that “if you don’t play the game by the designated rules you will be removed by the means we collectively deem necessary” — how can anyone see the daily dead gunman on the news and not get this message loud and clear, other than by identifying with the Khmer Rouge and projecting like Tyler Durden?

      If Welsh truly believes that building such a society is the leap forward, I hope I will not be around to witness such “success”.

      Whether he believes that statement is irrelevant to the fact that you and I are living IN that society, today, and that you personally benefit from, or identify with those who benefit from, the current distribution of power. Of course, if I’m misinterpreting your class membership, please do correct me. The only other person I know who drinks this particular Kool-Aid is a table game designer, Technologist, SF&F superfan and liberal authoritarian.

      Finally, of course you don’t like Greer. Any adherent of the civil religion of Progress which pervades the English-speaking world and the English language so thoroughly would have a problem with he who dares to attack the faith.

      Shorter: Machiavellianism is the prevailing moral code among the powerful in this world, so cut the disingenous sophistry about alternate universes already.

    1. Whistling in the Dark

      You know, it’s funny: The human accomplishment of building an earthly utopia would falsify the (cynical) claims of Christianity, as near as I can understand them. But, then, what if a material apocalypse intervenes, and we are deprived of ever knowing whether such a feat is possible? Cosmic irony! So, godspeed, ye earnest but tarrying triumphalists!

      But, for another sort of longview: What if the planet and with it our chatty species succumbs to that inevitable degeneration of usable energy which seems to leap into our consciousness as a sort of poetic corollary to that second law, and, sadly, before we master the ability to leave the planet for other platforms! I mean, what if we are around with only the cockroaches, feasting upon one another, surrounded by inordinate piles of gray, formless soup? Shall we then consult Linnaeus as to our proper place in the universe? Whence our code of ethics, our criteria for action? Naw, fukk it; at that point, we ought to jettison all other objects from our minds eye, save one: scorn. I scorn you, roaches. I scorn you, fellow man. I spurn the thought of anyone else. (Much gnashing of teeth, but much less fire.)… But, only by accident (despite his best efforts and concentration), the second-to-last thought of the last man is a novel one — I envy you, piles of soup! The last thought, however, was a repeat: “lucky me! lucky mud!!”

      In any case, I shall continue to eat potato chips and roll all my windows up on the way to work, blasting the heat/AC (whichever applies). At the first hint of general revolt, I will curse the inconvenience, and the traffic. And, then, I will feel a little hurt for not being invited to the riot. (I am a human being, if you dare to look at me.) And, so, the revolution shall be incongruous!

  15. Benedict@Large

    Re: DKos “Your health plan changing? Employers, insurers largely to blame”

    I despise ObamaCare as much as anyone (though from the left), but as an ex-health insurance type, I’ve looked at all this plan changing, and yes, it’s mostly companies USING ObamaCare as cover to make unpleasant changes, and not ObamaCare itself that is causing these changes. Now, one can make the argument that the authors of ObamaCare should have known employers would do this, and I would agree with that, but it’s important to understand who is screwing which parts of the pooch if we’re going to fix this thing, and if you’re losing an employer plan you like right now, don’t let him off the hook when he claims, “It’s the government’s fault.” Chances are, he’s lying.

    1. Jerome Armstrong

      Not true at all in many cases. The Gov’t is forcing the companies to drop plans that don’t meet the prerequisites, forcing customers into ACA.

      1. chris

        Bingo! The circular logic used to absolve Obamacare of the mess it has created, and Obomber himself of his pycho-babble rhetoric is hilarous and depressing at once.

        And as one comment points out, a month after the speech used by the dkos cheerleaders struggling against cognitive dissonance

        “On July 16, 2009 President Obama addressed the American Medical Association in Chicago to discuss how to rein in the soaring costs of health care:

        “And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.””

      2. afisher

        Pay attention: an insurance policy that no longer meets the criteria is being cancelled – so congrats, you have the first part correct.

        That DOES NOT require anyone to go to PPACA to buy healthcare, there are lots of private health insurance plans for sale to the individual.

        Repeating memes, just make you look uninformed. :-(

  16. curlydan

    After reading the Fed Tapering: CTL-ALT-DEL article, this snippet from the bond traders’ paper really irked me:
    “But right now the potential costs of withdrawing even the slightest bit of support from the economy appear much greater than they were.”

    The sad thing is that the “economy” for these fools is a collection of numbers that could be affected. There is no discussion or care about people. Oh no, rates might rise, stocks might fall, but the middle class pushed to and over the edge while $85B falls in the banks’ laps every moth, who cares about those PEOPLE? They’re not a number we track.

  17. chicagogal

    Typical cat! Always with the “gimmee, gimmee, gimmee” and nevermind that cats are lactose intolerant.

  18. rich

    Why JPMorgan May be Getting off Easy

    While many headlines in the financial press accuse the government of conducting a witch hunt, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson offers Bill a different perspective: “If the Justice Department were being tough on Wall Street they would be talking about bringing criminal cases against individuals who helped to perpetrate this immense crisis.” she said. Morgenson adds that the investigations into JPMorgan Chase show that it and many other financial institutions are still ‘too big to fail,’ which means taxpayers could once again be forced to bail them out.

    1. charles sereno

      This quote from Heidi Moore’s Guardian article from today’s Links about the GFC bears repeating, especially if some missed it:
      “The Department of Justice is looking for scalps – finally, after five years of drowsy hibernation – but some banks are whining about merely getting haircuts.”

  19. jrs

    Another kabuki move for corporatist health care for all. Republicans trying to turn Medicare into exchanges.

    Both Dems and Rs want the same thing. How many times have you been told that. The Ds WANT to put everyone under 65 on to Obamacare. Whereas, the R’s want to put everyone over 65 on to Obamacare. Yes I know the ideological differences get hard to keep straight but this dimes worth of difference is a fight for principle no doubt about it. But you might say this is just some crazy Republican stuff, it’s not going anywhere. Yea that’s probably what they said about HeritageCare … Our corporatist two party future.

  20. charles sereno

    The White House has just announced that QSSI will be in charge of overseeing repairs to the Obamacare website. That seems odd in view of their prior performance. Time to completely privatize the Executive? Lambert, your take perhaps tomorrow?

  21. anon y'mouse

    happier brain man is right on some things and, according to my biases, wrong about others.

    hunter-gatherers had no pain mitigation? zero? refrigeration wasn’t NEEDED (they had plenty, and methods to store food for overwintering plus moved about following the foodsources. food was generally NOT an issue). flush toilets are the height of civilization, until you meet a sewage treatment plant and realize the logistics of the infrastructure involved. doubtful to me that hunter-gatherers suffered from lack of a loo.

    his main points are probably correct, though. I share his skepticism about the ‘fake it til you make it’ types. “look on the BRIGHT SIDE!” um, yes. sure. they usually tell you that when they’re screwing your or about to be screwing you. and not screwing you in a mutually pleasurable way, either.

  22. craazyman

    If you have slightly blurred vision the headline looks like it reads “The Scholars who Shit for Wall Street”

    that’s pretty funny. you can see it oozing out of their heads the way decorative cake icing comes out of a tube as they testify in front of a microphone to some congressional committee — brown icing in this case, lest anyone fail to conjure up an accurately colored mental picture.

    Then you can imagine it rising in a mound, folding over upon itself as it piles higher, on the table in front of them. Eventually, after an hour or so, the deposit (no pun intended) could total a foot high and 3 feet wide. It may obscure the CSPAN camera’s view of their face.

    Then people gather round to eat it with spoons. If it’s really cake icing, that wouldn’t be too bad, especially if you’re a sugar freak, but you’d have to wonder what it really is.

  23. Bill Frank

    Interesting that there’s not a single comment regarding the Brand article. Does it go to that scary place people want to avoid? Who are you going to vote for and why?

    1. anon y'mouse

      you missed the post about the Coercion of Capitalism. it is all about Brand.

      we just don’t want to mention his name. he’s like Voldemort that way, except a positive spirit. say it too loud and it might dissipate.

      also, he’s my brotha from anotha motha!

    2. Glenn Condell

      I was thinking that too… how come no-one else was as affected by that as I was?

      Just sent this to a few people after watching it:

      When I first saw him years ago Russell Brand struck me as a loud, braying pain in the arse. I now think he is one of the most important media voices in the Western political sphere, not perhaps as well-known as Jon Stewart, but more penetrating and more promising. Certainly both are way out in front of any actual politician you could name. I have read a few op-eds Brand has written in the Guardian and they are brilliant, both the acuity of his observations and the quality (and humour) of his prose. His Thatcher obit was the best in a crowded field.

      He grew up poor and was a smack addict for several years; he knows the underclass because he came out of it. Here he is on Hard Talk, facing legendary Hard-On Jeremy Paxman, a thick and self-regarding keeper of the status quo, famous for making interviewees squirm. He does the lion’s share of squirming here, as Brand gets more and more righteously volcanic in response to Paxman’s establishment scorn for his latest venture, editing a political magazine. The last thrust, re Paxman’s appearance on Who Do You Think You Are, is breathtaking – it obviously took the wind out of Paxman’s sails.

      In the last few decades our culture has prized ‘smart’ over ‘good’, in fact good has taken a pasting and it is hard to detect it all sometimes, with so much smart in the way. Smart, often in the form of greed, tries and mostly succeeds in pretending that smart is actually good, wealth is success, etc. And so we see lots of smart people in charge, but not many good ones. Brand is both smart and good.. tough too. We could use a few more like him.

      1. William

        It is said that when Columbus’s ships at first could not be seen by the natives who had no prior reference to associate with the vision.

        Americans are much more pacified, confused, terrorized, and brainwashed by the media and corporate messaging than Brits, and so would have a harder time conceptualizing revolutionary thinking. Also, here in NC, just like many such sites, I’ve observed over the years there is always a devoted core who always remain stubbornly focused on the bad behavior of whatever enemies the particular web site is focused on. They have little interest in hearing of all-encompassing larger solutions.

        Plus, Brand is already well known and very popular in Britain.

      2. Chauncey Gardiner

        Russell Brand was a miscalculation by TPTB. A living reincarnation of the film “The Producers”.

        … “OMG!! He’s getting traction!!!”

        1. anon y'mouse

          this is the dangerous part for him.

          he either sticks with his convictions and grows with them, becoming a sort of spokesperson, or he retreats into Carlin ‘social critic from afar’ mode.

          the biggest danger is to be co-opted into merely a clown for the overclass (Jon Stewart, I love you. you are an intelligent and seemingly humane man, and yet that is what you are). the role of this kind is to make us laugh lest we cry at the doings of our overlords and those “crazy TP types” and yet not reach out of our own complacency to do anything about it.

          so, he has a many-forked road ahead. or, he’ll become a role and a product of “REvolUtion!” in the same way that the entire era of the 1960’s has been. he appears to be aware of this, and the contradictions (hence his self-deprecation) but it’s still dangerous. the power of celebrity, as subject as it is to fads and media attention, is dangerous.

  24. jrs

    “Your health plan changing? Employers, insurers largely to blame”

    So a so called health care reform plan that doesn’t control costs isn’t to blame for not controlling costs?

  25. different clue

    The “Obama selling insurance” post still self-erases for me, leaving a blank white screen. I couldn’t figure out what Curlydan told me to do. If others still have this problem, is it a problem with the link itself? Or a problem with some peoples’ downstream computers?

    1. anon y'mouse

      which browser are you using?

      in explorer, as soon as the page loads hit the X (same location as the “refresh” circular-arrow button. it should stop loading whatever is making the page wonky.

      if another browser, look for the feature that allows you to hit the breaks on the page loading while it is doing so.

  26. davidgmills

    It seems that the ACA gives states the option to move significantly toward single payer if they want. I read that in Minnesota a family can qualify for medicaid if the family’s income was less than $40,000 per year. Contrast that with Alabama where the same family can’t qualify if it makes over $4,000 a year.

    The law gives states the opportunity to push the door of single payer open significantly, but most states are not taking advantage.

    1. ambrit

      Mr. mills;
      Truck on over to Lamberts series on Obamacare on the Corrente website. In it he mentions the unpleasant fact that Medicare can, and does, go after a persons estate after their death for recovery of all funds expended for their Midicaid whilst they were alive. In other words, a massive wealth transfer from the poorest to the richest. (As in, the heirs of the poor tend to be poor themselves. Anything at all lost is significant. The rich? Eh, what’s a mere ten grand? Chump change! Meanwhile, the poor heir ends up with nowhere to live and no momentos of the deceased.)

      1. anon y'mouse

        this is why i’m not onboard a full consfiscatory inheritance tax.

        if you received a primary residence from your family, you should be able to keep it. also, family heirlooms.

        perhaps the lower classes need to learn more about trusts.

      2. Lambert Strether

        Not Medicare, Medicaid. “Medicaid Estate Recovery Program.” The existence of that program makes ObamaCare especially noxious for over-55s, to whom MERP applies, since they are thrown into Medicaid without any choice. So, we have in essence confiscatory inheritance taxes, except for the poor. Well done, all.

  27. anon y'mouse

    Rape as a symptom of Entitlement:

    yes, indeed it is. many people talk about power relations, how rape is simply the tool of dominance in the hands of the strong and so on. this component, and her subsequent highlighting of the social circumstances/attitudes that make it a continuing problem are vital here.

    the flipside of this is eliminating the culture of shame. they go hand in hand. the rapist feels entitled to violate the bodily sanctity of others, and is not deterred because instead the VICTIM feels shame about what was done to her (she speaks of this, then veers into the “we need to foment empathy and respect” lane). we need to eliminate this shame.

    if you have been the victim of a rapist, you should NEVER feel ashamed to speak out about what was done to you. perhaps at the local children’s playground is not the time and place, but a person who ‘comes out’ about this is wallowing in shame. does someone who is held up in a robbery feel shame? no….shame keeps this crime in the shadows and is another way of victimizing the victims.

    I always feel so badly for women who go public and cry about this, because my natural inclination is that not only is reliving the actual episode damaging, but the shame they feel and worry about being cast on them is re-victimizing. you see this even in children who have been victims. where do they learn this?

    the perpetrator should feel shame—-not you!

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