Links 10/3/13

Wells Fargo Sued by New York Over Mortgage-Service Accord Bloomberg. Leading with a Schneiderman story instead of a cute animal story.

Meet Ross Ulbricht, the Man Charged With Running the ‘ of Drugs,’ Silk Road New York (indictment) [PDF])

Silk Road collected 9.5 million bitcoin—and only 11.75 million exist Quartz

Apple Now Holds 10% of All Corporate Cash: Moody’s Online WSJ

Pentagon report rips Texas F-35 fighter jet plant McClatchy

Calm markets peer beyond political storms Reuters

Why have markets ignored Washington risk? Gavyn Davies, FT 

Blankfein Says Finance CEOs Urge Action on Debt Limit Bloomberg

Shutdown Follies

The Individual Mandate and the Government Shutdown Ian Welsh (and: “What the bill does is cut staffer subsidies, and most of those staffers are poor.  That’s not something I can support.” Yep. Hey, let’s just replace staffers with rich kids and lobbyists. That would be swell.)

Is grand bargain the only way out? Politico. Bipartisangasm!

No end in sight to government shutdown after ‘unproductive’ White House meeting CNN (Lightpond). Reid: “I thought that they were concerned about the long-term fiscal affairs of this country. And we said, ‘we are too. Let’s talk about it,'” the Nevada Democrat said. “My friend, John Boehner … cannot take yes for an answer.” Translation: Grand Bargain.

Is It Time To Abolish Congress? The National Interest. “[T]he good news is that the twin crises confronting the U.S. could be resolved by a grand budget deal.”

Obama Sets Conditions for Talks: Pass Funding and Raise Debt Ceiling Times

Shutdown standoff: GOP offers to open more of the government, Dems say all or nothing McClatchy

Grover Norquist on Ted Cruz: ‘He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away’ WaPo. Changing of the guard… 

The Republican Party Cannot Stand By And Let Obamacare Destroy This Country The Onion

America flirts with self-destruction Martin Wolf, FT 

Juan Linz’s Bad News for America Matt Yglesias, Slate. “Democracy is doomed.”

Is shortened Obama trip strike three for Asia pivot? McClatchy 

ObamaCare Launch

OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Exchanges still overwhelmed The Hill. The ObamaCare launch is a political campaign and so the maxim “Always hire a hall that’s too small” applies.

Winners And Losers Eschaton

Real people’s stories from day one of the US health insurance exchanges Guardian

‘Health Care Panic, Again’ Economists’ View

Obamacare: The Gift To Insurers That Will Keep on Giving David Sirota

Remittances to help balance capital outflows – World Bank Reuters

SOFA Unlikely Due to Karzai’s Objection to Death Squads emptywheel

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Security After the Death of Trust O’Reilly Programming

Chief DHS Privacy Officer: Government Called Privacy Office “Terrorists” Washington’s Blog

In Test Project, N.S.A. Tracked Cellphone Locations Times

Democrats split sharply on NSA call-tracking program Politico

Multifocal Breast Cancer in Young Women with Prolonged Contact between Their Breasts and Their Cellular Phones Hindawi

Henry A. Giroux | Hardened Cultures and the War on Youth Truthout

The Political Economy of Zombies Airship Daily (fresno dan). “The cathedrals of the current neoliberal era are blockbuster movies.” Mobile-optimized interface unreadable on laptop.

In praise of Richard Stallman, GNU’s open sourcerer Guardian

Ersatz individualism makes the American collective strong Interfluidity

How To Maximize Your Investment Losses In 5 Easy Lessons Automatic Earth

Ironic Serif: A Brief History of Typographic Snark and the Failed Crusade for an Irony Mark Brain Pickings

Antidote du jour (via):


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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Abolish Congress = platinum coin (someone has to coin money, not just paper currency)

      Platinum coin = business as usual; rabble quieted for now (no scene of emptied Manhattan)

      The robbing, the looting can thus continue, with fewer politicians to keep, thus less expensive to run the Ponzi scheme.

      How hard is it to keep just one guy in the pocket?

    2. Garrett Pace

      Better to emasculate the presidency and increase the congress in size. Capping the House at 435 was a much later change, intended to preserve the power of existing members. I say there should be a representative for every 30,000 Americans, which is where the constitution caps it.

      “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand.”

      1. just me

        Wish I could find it again — I think it was a comment I read here on NC where someone was talking about old England and… was it “ministry of a hundred” or something like that? Everyone mattered and was cared for in your unit of 100. It was social, political, probably even religious grouping if I’m remembering “ministry” right. And I remember Thom Hartmann talking once about experiments or theories that came down on just, functional communities being ones where everyone knew everyone else. Magic number. Often wonder if that’s what’s wrong with us now — local government, I don’t think I have one or count in it. State or federal representative? My impulse is to hoot. I don’t think I’m represented anywhere.

      2. LucyLulu

        At one/30,000, there’d be 10,000 representatives. How does one manage a group of THAT size? IDK, in my experience, the larger the group, the less real work that gets done. In any group, there’s always a few people who take charge and others just follow along. Look at our representatives now. How often are votes strictly along party lines?

        The House of Representatives is 435 people, the governing body with the most people. And you want that cuckoo’s nest (where members say the shutdown is because they don’t get no respect, and they ain’t giving up until they get something, though not sure what it might be …. seriously, Luntzman from IN) to have MORE people?

        Can we amend the Constitution to no more than 1 member for every 30,000 people over 400,000,000 instead?

    3. LucyLulu

      There’s a town in Wisconsin that elects its mayor each year by lottery. It’s a small town. It was in the news because a 5 year old had won the lottery and was mayor. (Presumably somebody had power of attorney.) The town is mentioned because there’s no reason all elections couldn’t be held the same way, like jury duty, but once a year, and only one person, with hardship waivers. The results surely couldn’t be worse, and probably would be a vast improvement. For one, people have a tendency to rise to the occasion. More importantly, it would eliminate plutocratic rule, and members would be representative of constituents, instead of a Congress that looks nothing like the people in their districts and are clueless about conditions on the ground. Any of my neighbors would make better lawmakers than my current pandering fool whose been in Congress since Methuselah was a tot.

  1. dearieme

    Hah! And then I find Juan Linz agrees.

    The basic problem was that modelling the Constitution on the King (President), the House of Lords (Senate) and the House of Commons (House of Representatives), without understanding the much-reduced role the King had by the late 18th century, was folly. It’s as if the Founding Fathers (peace be upon them) had believed their own preposterous propaganda that their beef was with George III. Ironic, eh?

    1. from Mexico

      There’s one major flaw to Yglesias’s theory, however, and that is that the parliamentary democracies across the pond are in every bit as great of crisis as is the US’s “Presidential Democracy,” if not more so.

      I think it’s pretty much an across-the-board fail for what Scott Noble calls “democratic elitism”:

      People like Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays are great exemplars of what Peter Bachrach called “The theory of democratic elitism”, but they didn’t create this philosophy. They merely updated it to correspond with new developments in technology and communication. You can go back Mosca or Schumpeter or a whole slew of other anti-democratic philosophers from Machiavelli to Plato, but crucially, for our discussion, the Founding Fathers of the United States itself.

      There is very little difference between Lippmann’s suggestion that “the people” are a “bewildered herd” which “must be put in place”, and John Jay’s remark that the “people who own the country ought to govern it”, or Alexander Hamilton’s quip that the people are a “great beast” needing to be tamed, or Madison’s insistence that a primary function of government is to “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”.

      The overriding theme is that real democracy might produce “leveling tendencies”, in other words, an egalitarian society in which “regular people” might actually be able to participate in the running of their government (or lack thereof, depending how anarchistic your tendencies).

      What has emerged as the primary form of governance around the globe is what social scientists describe as polyarchy. There’s a fancy definition for it, but the basic gist is that we get to vote every few years to elect some rich guy, write letters to our “representatives”, and if we’re really uppity – attend a demonstration – but by no means should we be permitted to actually make decisions collectively on matters of any import. Important decisions are the purview of the enlightened ones – people like Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Alan Greenspan. Or, if you like, the Founding Fathers and their “responsible set of men” – the wealthy.

      I have received some criticism that the section on the Constitution and the American power structure is a “departure” from the other content. In my own view, it is impossible to understand modern propaganda without understanding the theory of democratic elitism. Indeed, the idea that modern governments (whether labeled Republic or parliamentary democracy) are or were in any way “democratic” is perhaps the greatest psyop of them all.

      These structures are based on the premise that the “powers” can be “balanced by each other”, a concept which should, at this point, be recognized as a monumental failure. The majority recognized it as a con at the time of the constitutional convention, and indeed the anti-Federalists predicted quite accurately what would occur as a result.

      There is a good deal of myth-making associated with colonial America. We are invited to imagine the halcyon days in which some sort of “free market” existed alongside “limited government”. Granted, it is acknowledged, there were minor problems in the form of slavery, the oppression of women and the genocide of Native Americans, but by and large you had something approaching a legitimate meritocracy: an honest to goodness bootstrap society.

      The reality was quite different. As Norman Livergood explains, “In Colonial America, the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting much poorer. In 1687 in Boston, the top 1% owned about 25% of the wealth. By 1770, the top 1% owned 44%. In those same years, the poor–those who owned no property–represented 14% in 1687 and 29% in 1770.”

      So you had a system of rapidly increasing inequality and class conflict, culminating in the Shay’s Rebellion and other debtor riots, which necessitated a strong Federal Government to crush the nascent spirit of democracy flowering amongst the American people.

      In some ways, it should not be surprising that many Americans regard the word “democracy” with contempt.

      The absurdist PR spectacles known as “elections”, in which issues like gay marriage can actually sway the balance of power, deserve nothing but disdain. But we would do well to remember that the Soviet Union also called itself a democracy.

      1. Hugh

        A very perceptive quote. The Framers are mythologized precisely to distract our attention away from the fact that they vested power in the propertied classes and to preempt any effort we might make to end this class’ monopoly on power.

        “Democratic elite” is also a useful oxymoron. It is a recapitulation of the idea that we are all equal although some of us are more equal than others. More than oligarchy, it conveys that this is a class phenomenon. Oligarchy as well as plutocracy, on the other hand, carry the sense that it is the rich calling the shots. However, like most such terms, they do not express the criminality involved. This is why I prefer kleptocracy.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I always favor an ‘in your face’ approach to the kleptocrats.

          We are going to tax you for the money we need.

          You are not going to make us forget to do that with more distractions like the platinum coin idea.

  2. dearieme

    P.S. I suppose it’s understandable that an ass like Tom Jefferson might have missed the point, but it’s odd that an able chap like Ben Franklin should. WKPD tells me “In 1787, Franklin served as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. He held an honorary position and seldom engaged in debate.” Perhaps that explains it.

    1. from Mexico

      If you think Thomas Jefferson was “an ass,” I wonder what you have to say about Tom Paine.

        1. Vatch

          Which of these hits by Thomas Paine is the “one hit” that makes him a “one hit wonder”?

          Common Sense
          The Rights of Man
          The Age of Reason
          Agrarian Justice
          His early essays against slavery and in favor of women’s rights.

          Writings of Thomas Paine

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Tom Paine was good.

            I think he confused him with Tom Petty*.

            *disclaimer: I don’t listen to pop – that’s for people who are silence-phobic. I don’t even know why I know that name.

            1. anon y'mouse

              that’s interesting, because I saw an interview once with Tom Petty in which he stated that HE did not listen to pop music at all because he didn’t want what he heard to influence his own music in any way.

            2. Whistling in the Dark

              Yeah, Tom Petty was a poor choice because he has a slew of hits. It seems like half of what he put out is at least at little recognizable. An exaggeration, but feels right.

    2. katenka

      A couple of pedantic points, if you’ll forgive me! Jefferson had zilch to do with the Constitution and was pretty far from a fan. Also, the bulk of our animus at the time was directed at Parliament rather than GIII (although we grew considerably more pissed off at him after he proved unwilling to save us from the hated Parliament — so yes, definitely a lack of understanding of the King’s role there, or, rather, an arch-Tory one that the Whigs of the day found a bit perplexing).

        1. katenka

          There is indeed! Washington at least changed his tune about slavery over time (although he certainly didn’t risk any political capital over it). Jefferson managed to get WORSE, which after “Notes” is saying something.

  3. JustSomeGuy

    “Silk Road collected 9.5 million bitcoin—and only 11.75 million exist”

    That is the most retarded thing I’ve read in a while: they fail to see the difference between transactions and currency. The real question is, if 9.5 million bitcoins changed hands on the Silk Road, how many bitcoins changed hands off the Silk Road in that time? Wanna bet its a lot more than 11.75 million?

  4. kimyo

    The health of the world’s oceans is deteriorating even faster than had previously been thought, a report says.

    Alex Rogers, professor of biology at Oxford University, said: “The health of the ocean is spiralling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought.

    both articles report on today’s press release from:

    if you search the ‘state of the ocean’ site for ‘fukushima’ or ‘nuclear’ you get 0 hits. search for ‘radiation’ and the only results (3) concern ‘uv radiation’

    try it yourself:

    one is forced to question the sincerity of an organization that chooses to ignore the continuing, unprecedented radioactive contamination of the pacific ocean by fukushima.

    1. JEHR

      Yes, kimyo. I have been thinking that while we spend so much time worrying about the banksters who are pilfering the money, the real dangers are taking place in the oceans where commercial fish are being depleted or overrun with jellyfish; where the corel reefs are being despoiled; where plastic garbage is piling up; and where the Pacific is being radiated by Fukushima.

      The environment may not wait for us to solve our financial problems before it demands that we pay the piper!

    2. afisher

      Always amused when an organization forms for a specific purpose and it doesn’t include what a non-funder wants it to study.
      No one is saying that the Japanese disaster isn’t serious and should be studied, investigated, etc, but complaining is pretty mean spirited for no apparent reason.

  5. efschumacher

    On healthcare exchanges being overwhelmed:

    Has anybody checked whether there are DOS attacks being directed at the Exchanbes, and what their sources might be?


    1. PQS

      Or just garden-variety political ideologues?

      The Right can get old people out onto the streets to protest abortion. (I’ve seen them in action – big bloody signs and all.)

      Should be child’s play to just tell their constituents to stay home and keep logging in. For freedom.

  6. $

    “Blankfein Says Finance CEOs Urge Action on Debt Limit”

    Isn’t Blankein one of the biggest welfare queens in the country?

  7. petridish

    RE: David Sirota/Obamacare The Gift To Insurers That Will Keep On Giving

    FINALLY, the situation succinctly and absolutely correctly summarized.

    If Americans were given Sirota’s explanation of the Obamacare situation, I doubt that there would be a debate at all. The red-blue back-and-forth is a necessary replacement for substantive, informed debate. As always.

    Not to mention it feeds the trolls on the late night “comedy” shows who generate Yuks by interviewing the stupid Americans who don’t know the “difference” between Obamacare and The Affordable Care Act. Everybody wins!

    Yesterday on CNBC, the CEO of Tenet Healthcare talked about the recent acquisition of another company. The “strategy” was to expand into previously unprofitable areas where only a small number of citizens were insured. They’re rushing to establish themselves in these areas since Obamacare will solve the “emergency room” problem of the uninsured seeking care. They can “pay” now.

    Hooray! M&A! Deals! Alpha! Profits! Business is Back! The economy is “growing” again!


  8. Jay Goldfarb

    Regarding “Multifocal Breast Cancer … Cellular Phones”. There is no known physical mechanism for cell phones to cause cancer. In order for electromagnetic radiation to cause cancer it must be ionizing, and nothing below ultraviolet frequencies can do this.

    1. fresno dan

      that’s all well and good.
      But it doesn’t address

      “All patients regularly carried their smartphones directly against their breasts in their brassieres for up to 10 hours a day, for several years, and developed tumors in areas of their breasts immediately underlying the phones”

      who the hell carries their cell phone in their bra??????

      1. anon y'mouse

        that might be crazy, but when i’m out and about and see a cell-phone zombie, they are holding the phone at approximately the same height and in the same position as stated.

        just, not inside their bras, thank the gods.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Blasé on the bayou:

    Louisiana’s top health-insurance provider said that not a single person enrolled in a new health-care plan offered through the Affordable Care Act on its first day.

    An executive with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana told the Times-Picayune that the agency was unable to sell the plan because customers were unable to access the website due to its website’s sluggishness.

    According to the newspaper, the company spent $60 million in preparation of the October 1 rollout, but the website continued to stall on the day of its rollout. One interested applicant spent five hours trying to get onto the site, but eventually resorted to calling a customer-service representative and was told she would receive plan options via e-mail.

    The other day, HHS secretary Kathleen Syphilis was comparing her health coverage site to Apple’s:

    “Hopefully they’ll give us the same slack they give Apple … If there’s not quite the operational excellence right away, we’ll continue to press for that.”

    “Apple, you know, has a few more resources than we have to roll out technology, and a few more people who’ve been working on the system for a while, and no one is calling on Apple to not sell devices for a year or to, you know, get out of the business because the whole thing is a failure.”

    Can you imagine Apple saying, ‘We didn’t sell any iPhones on the first day of the launch, but our site bogged down from the enormous interest’?

    And then adding, ‘Of course, government has more resources than we do to roll out new technology, since they can tax and print money.’

    One word, Kathleen: L-O-S-E-R.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sometimes, perhaps often, excessive taxation can make a person sick, especially when it is used to fight, for example, milk price inflation.

      “I used to be able to buy a quart with this, but now, only half a quart. But that was before my patriotic duty to fight inflation. Net of that, I am able to bring home a quarter quart,’ he said as he crawled home slowly, sick from warring on inflation.

    1. Synopticist

      And eastern Allepo is under siege, and so are various Shia villages in the north. It’s an ugly civil war. What do you expect?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Russian embassy in Libya attacked.

        Was that a message to the potential slavic Nobel Peace nominee to back off on Syria?

        1. Synopticist

          Quite possibly, and the Chines embassy in Damascus got mortared the other day too.
          OTOH, Libya is a mad max style tribal anarchy at the moment, with the few remaining genuine state security officials getting whacked at a precipitate rate, so it could just be an act of semi-random craziness.

  10. Ron

    “rugged individualism”. another made for TV American media fabrication, similar to old Western street quick draw gunfights.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You have to back to the days of the Neanderthals for any sort of rugged individualism.

      Even then, you travelled in a small group…and rarely did anyone abandoned his/her family.

      1. Whistling in the Dark

        “Even then, you travelled in a small group…and rarely did anyone abandoned his/her family.”

        Hearsay much? Well, I’m kidding a bit: perhaps you have some evidence and sources to back that up. But, you know, its easy to put words in the mouths (and deeds at the feet) of some dudes dead for x millennia (too lazy to use wikipedia, you will observe.) That’s all I’m sayin.

  11. real

    Pentagon report rips Texas F-35 fighter jet plant

    reading this news reminded me of russian space shuttle Buran buran..Its twin is rotting in some airport in russia and you can see photos on
    The amount of military hardware rotting/discarded in russia is surprising.Planes,tanks,trucks,missile silos,submarines,few nukes,electronic parts-rotting in sight everywhere…
    May be americans will end up defeating russians in producing maximum amount of overpriced junk

    1. Synopticist

      The F35 is one massive dog of a plane. One of the greatest cons in the long history of the MIC.

      It’s managed to screw up Europe’s air forces as well.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think if the government needs money, it should sell those F35 planes to the Saudis.

      It’s better than the platinum coin idea.

      This way, we actually get rid off some junk we don’t need – like a household (gaps!) would do in a garage sale.

      Two birds, one stone.

  12. djrichard

    So the grand bargain is plan B for the GOP hardliners, if they don’t get plan A (derailing Obamacare in some way)? Or maybe not so much a plan B as it is a grasping for something with which to declare success, “hey there’s this grand bargain thing collecting dust on the shelf, why not let’s run with that?”

    Come on GOP hardliners, counting on you to throw a monkey wrench in any deals! Yes you’ll be feeling bloodied after the shutdown and the debt ceiling adventure, but don’t go all wobbly on us, we’re counting on you!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No, the Grand Bargain is Plan A for Obama. He’s got to get the Republicans to play along. The contradiction in the Republican position is that ideologically they want to gut the programs, but demographically their voters skew old and use those programs heavily. (That is the truth behind the jokes that TPers think that “Medicare is not a government program”; classic doublethink.)

      So, for the Dems, it’s a two-fer: Grand Bargain is good, and screwing Republican voters is good. Something like the Chained CPI — which, I might add, the iconic Janet Yellen supports — is a good “compromise” because it doens’t screw a lot of people visibly right away. So FWIW, I bet they’ll end up with that.

  13. docg

    It seems to me that both the government shutdown and the refusal to raise the debt limit have to be unconstitutional, because they make it impossible to carry out any of the mandates provided in the constitution itself.

    Of the two I think the clearest case is the law requiring annual renewal of the debt ceiling because it directly contradicts the 14th amendment, which states, in essence, that the credit of the US can never be put into question. Obama should declare that law unconstitutional and take it to the Supreme Court as soon as possible, to make sure there will be no pointless misunderstandings regarding this action. While the Supreme Court is dominated by conservatives I can’t believe they’d be willing to toe the demented Tea Party line on such a vital (and clear cut) issue.

    As for the govt. shutdown that too imo should be challenged, though on broader grounds. Clearly the Constitution cannot be enforced if there is no government to enforce it. Shutting down the government has to be in itself unconstitutional regardless of whether or not it is specifically forbidden. Maintenance of the government is basic to our entire democratic system and I see no reason why the Supreme Court would want to challenge that.

    WHY is our President such a wimp????

    1. Synopticist

      “WHY is our President such a wimp????”

      Because he never really had to deal with any adversity. He’s always been able to charm his opponents, and surprise them with his intelligence and willingness to conciliate towards their positions. That doesn’t work on the republicans, and Obama doesn’t really posses the strategic political skills to deal with problems in any other way if co-operation and superficial charm won’t fit the bill.

      That’s my theory any way.

    2. Walter Map

      You can see the strings if you look very carefully.

      Democrats have to deliver for their corporate sponsors and avoid offending what’s left of their liberal voter base at the same time. It’s tricky.

      Republicans don’t have this problem. Their problem is to get elected even though they offend all the laws of logic, humanity, and decency by making sure their base stays brainwashed. With white-trash Amerikans a light rinse is usually sufficient.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Obama is not a wimp! One more time. Obama is not what he appears to be. Everyone paying attention? (breathe in) Year five; this is your brain on Obama: Obama is not stupid; Obama is not incompetent; Obama is not impotent; he is not a coward; he is not a poor negotiator; he is not a premature capitulator. He is a consummate Machiavellian conniver, 21st-century flim-flam man, wolf in sheepskin, Pied Piper, Trojan Horse, Jonestown charlatan and Great Deceiver. Any questions?

          1. docg

            So, no thoughts on whether the House is in violation of the Constitution? No thoughts on whether it would be possible to declare both the govt. shutdown and the law requiring a vote to increase the debt limit unconstitutional? Seems to me this might be our only way out.

      1. Synopticist

        Nah. You over-estimate him Doug.

        You could clearly see his tactical and political nous just weren’t up to scratch over Snowden and Syria, for example, when he was facing a real player like Putin. His ineptness shone through.

        There is no eleventy dimensional chess, no super-fiendish plan, no brilliantly concieved betrayal. Just an over-promoted guy who hit the right demographic buttons and makes a good speech.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Points taken. It was certainly gratifying to see humble pie on the great O’s face when stymied by Putin (and the Russian fleet). That war rollout was badly botched.

          That said, re Snowden, I still see very little pushback on lying about blatantly illegal NSA spying (growing worse with every revelation), forcing down another sovereign’s plane, abducting a journalist’s partner, etc.. But also (also too?) how can a war criminal who’s violated literally hundreds of pledges and the constitution*, still have such widespread support from the “liberal” media and an approval rating above 50% without Faustian support? He even makes his union-buster idol Reagan look amateur.

          *See rigged-trade, Wall Street bailouts, amnesty for fraud and torture, protection of usury, FISA, Gitmo, NDAA, Patriot Act II, suspension of habeas corpus, Palestine, Gaza, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Honduras, drone assassinations, land mines, Keystone, Wisconsin, Cap and Fade, arctic drilling, BP, attacks on Occupy, sucking (up to) Jamie, ditching COBRA, COLA freezes, the Bowles-Simpson Petersen Cat Food Commission, TARP, foreclosure fraud, Manning trial, Assange, Rubin, Summers, Emanuel, Geithner, Daley, Sperling Fowler, Lew, Bernanke, etc…, to name a few, but who’s keeping track?

      2. Walter Map

        Republicans appear to have shut down the U.S. federal government over Obamacare – even though Obamacare clearly serves the interests of the Republican corporatist sponsors, not only by enriching the wealthy but by further debasing the general population.

        So why would they do that? What’s behind the curtain?

            1. craazyboy

              Maybe. The stuff seems to cause hallucinations – like believing you can fit 10 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Though I must say that personally I have no trouble with organic tea…only having to wake at 3 in the morning for no good reason.

                1. craazyboy

                  That’s nothing that 2 servings of Flowmax and 2 servings of any quality (non-generic) sleeping pill can’t fix.

          1. Walter Map

            I don’t believe Republicans are crazy, and I don’t believe they are stupid. But I do believe they are malicious. And I believe Digby has the explanation as to why they would appear to shut down the U.S. government over Obamacare:

            GOP: Crazy Like Foxes

            With the exception of some chump change from millionaires in the last round, the Democrats have been losing on policy every step of the way since these budget battles began, even as they seem to be winning the politics. What could be more telling than the fact that the numbers in Paul Ryan’s budget are now considered the starting point in any new negotiations to end the shutdown.

            Republicans can’t get Obamacare repealed or delayed, but they can still push the U.S. into an austerity policy with a series of manufactured crises. Austerity would be debilitating to the U.S. economy and would serve their primary goal to make Obama look bad. As we have seen, TPTB have little problem crashing the U.S. economy so long as they can arrange to still come out ahead.

            In the meantime the general population suffers and any talk of financial reregulation, or any other reform, is pushed down the road. The U.S. government is still not fully corrupt and still serves the interests of the general population to some extent, and TPTB are pleased to exploit any opportunity to weaken and discredit what’s left of it.

            Wheels within wheels, as usual.

              1. craazyboy

                Also, from what I recall of the Ryan budget, he subscribes to the “defense spending is off the table” notion of budget negotiations. He also advocated lots more corporate tax cuts or breaks. Almost makes you think the word “austerity” don’t fit the picture very well.

            1. Doug Terpstra

              Those Wiley Repubs have Obama right where he wants them.

              US shutdown a smokescreen for assault on Social Security, Medicare (World Socialist Web Site)

              The Shutdown Game (Black Agenda Report)

              The government shutdown battle is more like a Civil War reenactment than the real thing. A face-saving bargain will soon be struck, returning 825,000 furloughed federal employees to their jobs at wages that have been frozen for the past two years – not by the Republicans, but on President Obama’s orders. The clock has been stuck with both hands on “austerity” since Obama came fully out of the closet as a GOP fellow-traveler following the 2010 midterm elections. From that moment on, Republican-imposed gridlock has been the only barrier to Obama’s long-sought Grand Bargain to eviscerate entitlement programs. When the current theatrics are over, Obamacare will remain intact and the president will be back on his ever-rightward stride. The GOP will take Obama up on his offer, earlier this year, to cut Social Security and will probably be offered other bits and pieces of the social safety net in the interest of “shared sacrifice” and domestic peace.

              1. craazyboy

                Everyone should see what the budget really looks like. This place subtracts out direct revenue from SS and Medicare payroll tax and makes a bar chart for the rest of spending, which is income tax and deficit supported. Medicare and Medicaid still are 20% of the total.

                But this makes it clear that our leaders are in a tremendous epic battle to cut something that is not even in the 2014 budget, nor have any impact on the debt ceiling until 2032.

                But look see what’s left!

                1. Doug Terpstra

                  There’s a graphic obscenity: 26.5% of the budget, more than a fourth of all taxes, go to military (and “intelligence”), with 3.5%, 1/30th, wasted on education. Brilliant! Why not just do away with the Department of Education altogether, Governor Perry? Just effing brilliant!

                  Notice SS appears no where on that graph, because … HELLO, Barack? That’s because SS has nothing to do with the budget! But you murdering warmongers have been stealing FICA surpluses for decades for your death profiteering and now you want seniors to eat cat food because don’t want to reimburse the trust you embezzled from? And people call you a wimp? HA! How do you do that without those “[effing] retarded” “loser liberals” even noticing. That takes some major brass cojones, my man, and a heart of pure, unadulterated sh*t.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      He’s not a wimp. He is doing exactly what he believes in (even if the Republicans helpfully throw him in the briar patch every so often). Do not accept narratives of Democratic weakness; that’s one why they distract and deflect.

  14. cenobite

    Lambert, never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. I’d add “or lack of resources.”

    Anyway the performance and efficiency problems of the exchange websites are pretty typical from where I sit as a developer/architect of such services.

    Developers write code for correctness. “It needs to do x and y but not z, and I have more things to do after that so get it done now.” If the project is well run and well staffed then they also write (automated) unit tests.

    Writing code for correctness *and* efficiency is harder (you need more experienced people to do it) and takes longer. And you have a schedule and all, so you only do it where you think there will be problems.

    When the application gets turned up, you will find that there are parts of the application that got overlooked when you were doing efficiency work and whoops things are going slow in places, *dog* slow. This is especially a problem when you are turning up an application that lots of people want to use NOW NOW NOW.

    Hopefully then the team goes nuts fixing stuff and most everything is working okay in a few days.

    As I’ve said lots of times, “This is the problem I *want* to have. The problem I don’t want to have is nobody shows up.”

    1. Eureka Springs

      What’s the code for no enrollment, no ‘exchange’, no government by and for the profiteer needed… Code for health care is a human right automatically expanded medicare for all assumes it in a manner which no convoluted code is needed at all.

      Oh wait! It probably looks like England NHS page. You know, code beginning with actual health care rather than indentured consumerism.

    2. Walter Map

      Never ascribe to stupidity what must be ascribed to malice when dealing with people who have consistently proven themselves to be shrewd and malicious. Honest simpletons do not acquire great wealth and power themselves.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Indeed, Walter, especially when dealing with known, if so far unindicted criminals at the top of the food chain. They don’t get unlimited passes for incompetence. At a certain point, my dear Watson (and Occam) all you have left is malice.

    3. craazyboy

      I think there is a simple explanation. They used the same firm that stress tests banks to stress test the O Care site.

    4. Yves Smith

      No, you are missing the key point: system complexity here is a function of far too much program complexity. And as we know from financial services, complicated products allow for much more looting.

      And I don’t buy your argument re complex IT programs. The reason most big IT programs fail is that they are dealing with legacy systems and existing sites/code. I’ve worked with IT shops that ran monster databases on biggest private sector, meaning non-DoD/NSA network in the world, with mission critical applications. They worked. No crashes, crazy blowups. They had to or they’d be dead. They could do rapid debugging and implementation of new products and trading strategies.

      You can make this stuff work when you are starting from a clean slate from a tech perspective. But as Lambert also detailed, the tech requirements kept changing too, far too close to launch date.

      1. cenobite

        Of course you can make them work.

        When you have tons of resources, you can in fact roll out complicated high volume applications that work perfectly well the first time out of the box.

        But now let’s talk about the real (non-financial) world.

        In the real world, guys like me are up at 3 AM hotfixing the servers because we didn’t have a staff of 15, we had a staff of 2, and there was no time to do heavy duty load testing. Maybe it’s just somebody forgot a database index in the production database, but maybe it’s a legacy authentication system that has never been run at this load level before.

        The problems people are reporting about the exchange websites sound like typical scalability/performance issues that I have seen many times. And nobody was trying to make them break, they were just new and had problems that didn’t show up until enough people used them.

        1. skippy

          For yonks now debugging is mostly done in real time, not benched, as it is cheaper in – some – minds, and you don’t have to pay top dollar for all those skillz peoples. So I have observed.

          Name an industry that doesn’t run that way now

          Recently a lad that worked for me in the not so distant past, was in a board meeting, that ended with his head between his knees in hysterics. Topic was some work on a facility owned by a mob that has over 50% global market share, in their sector.

          Now his question was when a critical redundancy component could get some long over due refab, to bring it into compliance spec.

          Skippy… Answer is[!!!]… when the EPA inspector falls into a vat – machine or when they can be organized to be off site long enough.

  15. Jess

    Wells Fargo Sued by New York Over Mortgage-Service Accord Bloomberg. Leading with a Schneiderman story instead of a cute animal story.

    But you did lead with a cute animal story. Schneiderman is Obama’s poodle.

  16. petridish

    My previous comment got, I guess, moderated away. It was a good comment with a good link, too.

    Could it be because I have a new e-mail address?

    Well, OK, I’ll go back to my old e-mail and try posting again without spending too much time on it and see what happens.

    This is a funny and inoffensive link where Matt Taibbi comments on the unfair fight between Money Honey, Other Guy and Alex Pareene:

  17. Jagger

    Government shutdown. Does this mean our congressmen, president and judicial system are on furlough and aren’t being paid?

  18. anon y'mouse

    and here I was thinking that the current overproduction of zombie media was the elite’s way of brainwashing at least some of the lower classes into viewing their fellows as enemies, so that when those fellows finally wake up to their enslavement and demand justice they will enlist themselves into preserving the status quo.

    notice how the non-zombie heroes are always cast as moral paragons of homely virtues, blasting away at their former neighbors who have descended into virus-induced depravity.

    I guess an ideal myth to propagate is one in which, like the referenced medieval vision of hellfire coming to all alike, can be imagined by each opposing segment of society to be the representation of their own personal vision. a kaleidoscope or refraction of our desires for an inevitable future.

  19. Yonatan

    Silk Road collected 9.5 million bitcoin—and only 11.75 million exist?

    Let me guess – some bright spark has created a BitCoin ETF system. I mean, if it works for gold, it should work for BitCoins too?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With gold, it’s always better to have it with you.

      That’s why the government should distribute to everyone in the country the gold at Fort Knox.

      Those who think it’s useless can throw it into the ocean or leave on the sidewalk for others to haul away.

  20. Jim

    “How to lose money”

    “Federal regulators accused a Santa Monica hedge fund manager of defrauding investors by saddling them with losing securities trades while claiming winners for himself … … **Eichler** also failed to warn clients about mounting financial problems at Aletheia until two days before the firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection”

    The son of the Eichler that California built homes that were to be the first sold to Blacks in previously all White neighborhoods and who donated to the NAACP..that Eichler?

  21. FriedBrains

    In 2011, the WHO/IARC classified electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic and the .

    You can rest assured that strapping it to your ear or breast may only possibly give you cancer.

    Have fun!! Stay connected!!!

    No really, whatever you do: stay connected.

  22. Hugh

    The F-35 is another in a long line of gold-plated, under-performing boondoggles brought to you by the Pentagon and Military-Industrial Complex. It is supposed to be a fighter and a bomber and for close in ground support. It is supposed to be for us and our allies, for tactical and strategic use, for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. It is, in other words, supposed to be everything for everybody. As it is, it comes out, at best, an overpriced mediocrity and for many uses, inferior to aircraft that have been in the inventory for 30 years. No one seems to know or ask what precisely its mission is to be, that can not be accomplished with existing planes we already possess.

    The other aspect is, of course, cost. Like all these programs, its original price was already ungodly high, but intentionally lowballed, just as future orders were equally intentionally made unrealistically high. The result is the program will cost 2 to 3 times the original projection. However, because of the super high cost, orders will be cut back, which will increase the unit costs of the plane even further. We will end up paying immensely more for fewer numbers of planes capable of doing much less than advertised.

    But these programs are impossible to kill. Companies like Lockheed, despite all the failures on their part, would sue the government for costs even if another plane was never made. At the same time, the MIC learned a long time ago to subcontract these fiascos into as many congressional districts as possible to render them politically invulnerable. Makes you wish they expended half as much time and energy to make them actually function on a battlefield, and cheap enough to use in a conflict. I mean seriously who would risk a plane costing several hundred million dollars to take out a mortar?

    The F-35 is a monument to empire and imperial thinking. It not only doesn’t make us safer. It takes away resources that could be better used either to actually defend ourselves or address the myriad problems in our society. Neither of these, unfortunately, is a priority of empire.

  23. b'emet

    greatest help would come from a redesign of the links. Who can guess what might be on the other end? enough insider’s sneer, first tell what the links purport to impart, as if someone at NC has actually read them!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We read them. I think have the fun is clicking through and finding out what’s on the other end! Links are brilliantly minimalist. And if you want abstracts along with the links… That’s going to take a ton of time, so a big fat check would be welcome….

  24. Optimader

    Who wants to speculate on why a young woman in a Hyundai w/ a 1 yo in the back seat was speeding, probably on a cell phone, then irrationally reacted to a progressive horizon of flashing lights?

    Im guessing
    Maybe a suspended licence,no insurance, late from daycare late for her shiity job, illegal alien–suspended visa blah blah blah any combintion that sould result in an arrest and dcfs child custody. Clearly any combination of the above requires summary execution rather than just disabling the vehicle

    The SS and police spokeswoman, a well tanned cow Had a soviet generals quota of quasi military service ribbon bars on her shirt.

    Made me throw up in my throat. Our Empire’s Capital is a very dangerous place indeed.
    Chicago would be a warzone if ithey shot every idiot driver that blows red lights. Is it just me or do other question why the Pretorian guard cant diable a Hyundai with the military firepower they carry now? I certainly could.

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