Links 2/23/14

500,000 Cranes Are Headed for Nebraska in One of Earth’s Greatest Migrations Smithsonian

Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? It’s not always for health reasons Rocket News

Sleep, Forever, Among Chinese Celebrities and Cemetery Swag The Diplomat

Behind China’s Labor Unrest: Factory Workers and Taxi Drivers Businessweek

After Chattanooga Jacobin (savedbyirony).

Labour markets Economist

Monopoly’s Poster Children Michael Hudson

The Health of US Manufacturing Conversable Economist

Age of Austerity Paul Krugman, Times. As I keep saying, permanently high disemployment is an elite policy choice, and both legacy parties are fully on board.

Banks Fight Revised U.S. Plan to Monitor Checking Overdraft Fees Bloomberg

SEC Ponders Break for Private Equity Over Broker Rules Bloomberg (rich).

Apple promises fix ‘very soon’ for Macs with failed encryption Reuters. Oopsie.

Facebook’s horrible, stroke-of-genius IPO Felix Salmon, Reuters

Something for Nothing ?? Cassandra Does Tokyo

A Group Of Investors Is Buying A Stake In The Next Generation Of Geniuses Business Insider. Sell the lineage of the “genius,” instead of the genius, and we’ve got straight-up feudalism.

Winners Take All, but Can’t We Still Dream? Times

Obama: Midterm Elections Aren’t ‘Sexy’ CBS (let us help you with that).

Administration Desperate to Announce Deal at TPP Ministerial, But What Is a Real Deal? Eyes on Trade

The Campaign Casino Elections Have Become a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme, and the Press Is Missing the Story [PDF] Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy 

Global Unrest

Ukraine seems to win the “next financial crisis” award Marginal Revolution

Shock over Ukraine Club Orlov

Ukraine: “From the spirits that I called – Sir, deliver me!” Moon of Alabama

House fit for a tyrant: Protestors storm the sprawling, luxury estate of Ukraine’s fugitive president which has its own private zoo, golf course and is half the size of Monaco Daily Mail

Mass rival protests staged in Venezuela Al Jazeera

Sorting fact from fiction in Venezuela protests CNN. Photos and memes.

Thai government supporters vow to “deal with” Bangkok protesters Reuters (good background).

Girl killed, dozens hurt in attack on Thai protest Asian Correspondent

Political Hatred in Argentina Boston Review. Must read.

Exclusive Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State Mike Lofgren, Moyers & Company. Must read, together with previous.

A causal narrative? Understanding Society

Historical Echoes: Thomas Jefferson Slept Here on Maiden Lane/The Compromise of 1790 Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Ex Post Historical Simulation of a Statistical Model of Anthropogenic Climate Change Econbrowser. Priceless denialist comments.

Strategy and the Tyranny of Maxims The Diplomat

Twitter I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down Medium

How to tweet like a teenager Gillian Tett, FT

This Old Man Roger Angell, The New Yorker. “The pains and insults are bearable.” Along with Angell, I remember when The New Yorker used to be good.

The Dream of Moving Abroad in Later Life, With Good Health Care Times. Why wait?

A world of good service FT

Ghosting LRB

Antidote du jour:


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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I look forward eagerly to the news, one day, about the CEO of some GM manufacturer suing his GM cropping neighbor.

      ‘You’re contaminating and ruining my organic garden!’

    2. different clue

      I coldly hope they win their lawsuits in such a way that other counter-fracking lawsuits may also be won. Could Tillerson/Army even open Pandora’s Issue of “what is in the frackwater?”

  1. arby

    Appropriate juxtaposition of Krugman and Hudson. Krugman is a clever man. Hudson is an intelligent one. Krugman writes of abstract models and metrics. Hudson speaks about people in reality.
    “There are many forms of stupidity; cleverness is among the worst.” The magic mountain.

    1. Benedict@Large

      … permanently high disemployment is an elite policy choice, ….

      Actually, it goes further than that. The federal government literally sets the unemployment rate by its fiscal policy. IT CAN MAKE THAT RATE ZERO at any time it wishes (see Mosler), and can do so in a manner that doesn’t drive inflation upwards (see Mitchell).

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘The G-20 said monetary policy should remain accommodative for now in many advanced economies and pledged a coordinated push to boost growth by more than $2 trillion over the next five years,’ reports Bloomberg today.

        Meanwhile, across the 34 OECD economies, inflation accelerated to 1.6 percent in December from 1.5 percent in November and 1.3 percent in October.

        Mitchell’s fantasy that we can print our way to prosperity with no bad side effects is about to be tested in real life. My advice? Buy commodities, to protect yourself from the mad printers. After all, that’s what they’re probably doing.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s an interconnected village, but so what if we print butterfly money here and inflation shows up in another country far, far away?

      2. susan the other

        Spending to raise employment and create needed new infrastructure and domestic programs is not inflationary. When private banks are taken out of the equation, their excessive profits are eliminated and instead of a spiral of unsustainable re-investment, the country can enjoy a balanced higher standard of living instead of an ever lower one. The banksters are very flatulent. Oh yes, and they really don’t pay taxes. So they are almost terminally flatulent.

        1. hunkerdown

          That’s all fine and good, but the goal of those in control is clearly to *minimize* the standard of living and be seen struggling in the other direction. Much the same as when one flexes one’s muscles against each other to pretend something’s too heavy to lift while showing the requisite amount of strain.

      3. F. Beard

        The federal government literally sets the unemployment rate by its fiscal policy. IT CAN MAKE THAT RATE ZERO at any time it wishes (see Mosler), Benedict@Large

        Sure, with make-work. Why not just GIVE away the fiat instead and thus not pay people to waste their time? Cause god-less Calvinism?

        and can do so in a manner that doesn’t drive inflation upwards (see Mitchell). Benedict@Large

        No, because make-work is often NEGATIVE work in addition to being a waste of resources. Example: TSA harrasement at airports and train stations. Example: school administrators.

    1. Benedict@Large

      The Washington Times is an ex-Moonie rag. If you find any serious reporting there, it was accidental.

  2. Brindle

    Re: “A Group Of Investors…”
    The wonderment of the meritocracy (not).

    —-“Arguably, such hotshots are already leaving their struggling peers in the dust. Their glide path to prosperity is all but assured. Showering them with mentorship and easy capital may be good business, but it’s questionable whether such an approach will narrow the opportunity gaps that are built into the system, or end up widening them.”—-

  3. David Smith

    The surgical mask might take off here in North America as people get creeped-out as surveillance cameras with facial recognition software result in them being welcomed by name to the subway car or store. Shades, hoodies and affected limps to complete the look.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Beard and moustache growing will be fashionable again.

      To make an anonymous cash milk purchase at a monitored neighborhood store, you would have to put on a wig under the .baseball cap, and sunglasses on your hairy face…maybe even platform-shoes to avoid height-detection.

    2. McMike

      Apparently the camera are pretty danged sophisticated, and can derive matches from just a few data points.

      But that might be hype.

      1. Yves Smith

        It’s hype. I’ve seen some people with the tech. You need dead-on photos in good light. And many of the key markers would be obscured by a beard and sunglasses. Plus how about fake noses or fake eyebrows? And of course (haha) what about fake bearded women?

        1. McMike

          A nation of Groucho Marxes. Or Frank Zappa. We could do worse.

          I remember back in 2001, they were experimenting with cameras at a major sporting event. I had a fantasy about passing out groucho glasses to everyone as a sort of protest. The 9/11 happened. True story.

        2. Punchnrun

          I’ve seen it alleged (can’t recall where, Danger Room?) that gait is as unique as face and more amenable to characterization for machine recognition. Time to revisit the Ministry for Funny Walks.

          1. Punchnrun

            Thus, I introduce my new public persona, Peg-Leg Peg the Bearded Lady (with apologies and kudos to the late John Entwistle).

    3. bob

      Apparently, most systems make heavy use of the distance between pupils, and the area between them.

      Big sunglasses.

  4. allcoppedout

    I was particularly interested in ‘a causal narrative’. Content analysis of NC throws up regular themes or ‘mechanisms’ concerning deep politics, chronic money manipulation, surveillance (of the wrong kind), main media bias and over 100 more before we get to massive inequality growing in a routinsed manner. Interestingly, there is plenty of exposure and little on how we might change the system.

    I begin to think those of us who do want something fairer and reasonable equality are in the position of an oppressed minority (though we may well be a majority). The desire for an equal (ish) life is somehow an “abomination” like homosexuality or a woman wanting the same opportunities as a man in the not very distant past. What crazy ideology kept such rot in place and were the ‘mechanisms’ involved similar to those the rich and main media use to prevent sensible discussion of economics today? We might address what it is that is stopping us coming out from the underground.

    1. susan the other

      I sensed a hidden agenda in Lofgren on the Deep State. He freely describes it as the private-public partnership behind the curtain running the affairs of state. Not answerable to democracy. Well, yes. But then he goes on to suggest that today’s choice between a dictatorship of the prols and the free market is old politics. That the new politics is a choice between bloody military adventures and robust export trade. Huh? So he just replaced the left side of the equation – a ruthless military for Marxism. What a clever trick. It’s always so kind of these authors to make their erudite suggestions. Lofgren came pretty close to advocating the TPP, without so many words. I didn’t like it at all. I would prefer to listen to Chomsky’s perennial analysis that we should all be anarchists in the sense that we take over authority for ourselves; like co-ops and not participating in the warmongering of the internationals, etc. Why Lofgren would consider free trade the answer when throughout history it has only made matters worse is a tell.

      1. CB

        Maybe my reading skills are eroding but I didn’t sense that. Explicate, please. I’m ready to stand corrected on fact.

  5. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT article about health care when retiring abroad:

    ‘Allianz offers policies that provide coverage that is worldwide or worldwide minus the United States. Allianz singles out this country, sometimes even doubling its policy premiums, because health care costs more here than elsewhere.’

    World’s most costly health care: that’s the basic fact which Obamacare, with its narrow networks and high deductibles and massive subsidies, can’t paper over.

    As long as all the predatory cartels — ranging from Big Pharma to the physicians’ guild to malpractice lawyers to managed-care middlemen to capacity-controlled hospitals — are protected, no amount of political shell-gaming can ever make their uncompetitive, cost-plus services affordable.

    Obamacare is a corpgov-sponsored collective denial of reality. Do not resuscitate!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have said it before, but it is worth repeating.

        They beat it into you that genius-hood is desirable..

        The brainwashing, if done right, will make the human subject obsess with ‘I am the intellectual monarch of all I survey’ wherever he/she goes.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        By the way, here is a contraband idea – one doesn’t even have to be smart, much less a genius, to be wise.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          But beware the brainwashing that genius-hood is desirable.

          The elites like nothing more than for us to obsess over that.

    1. We

      Yes, with one caveat: “malpractice lawyers” aren’t part of the problem, as you suggest, but MALPRACTICE and how it’s dealt with is. Those doctors that receive malpractice claims receive LOTS of them, while the vast majority of doctors never get any. Yet, malpractice insurance never goes up with multiple claims (like it does, say, with car insurance) and a DR never loses his/her license for malpractice claims. Thus, all other DR’s bear the costs of what are truly only a few bad apples.
      And, actual malpractice claims reveal that it’s not the patient or the lawyer that’s the problem, it’s the DR. Malpractice claims will very often break your heart, and make you very glad that there is at least a legal and monetary remedy, insufficient though it is. And, the fact that the DR to blame has quite often committed malpractice before, makes malpractice claims and malpractice lawyers truly needed, to at least partially right the wrongs of the few bad apple DR’s.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Behind China’s Labor Unrest: Factory Workers and Taxi Drivers.

    When the last Qing emperor finally abdicated, semi/quasi-religious secret societies like the Tiandihui (Hongmen) – Dr. Sun was a member, joined in San Francisco – and the Green Gang – Jiang was a member and a disciple of a notorious Shanghai Green Gang drug lord (early leader in ‘globalization’) whose network supplied drugs to France via the French concession in Shanghai, Hanoi and Marseilles- played an important part.

    Today, if a foreign power is interested, it should look to these kinds of organized groups in China.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Lineage of geniuses.

    ‘I am the intellectual monarch of all I survey’ – that’s what a genius says to him/herself.

    And they brand you for life with your tested IQ…putting you where you belong, locking you in your ‘proper’ place.

    You can say, we are all artists, singers, writers, painters…but you can’t say we’re all geniuses, once we have been tested.

    But you don’t even have to be smart, much less a genius, to be wise.

    The brainwashing, if successful, is to make the subject obsess with ‘I am the intellectual monarch of all I survey.’

  8. huxley

    Still Broken Five Years Later

    “They don’t want to pay taxes, they don’t want to hold capital against their collateral, and they want to continue to run their businesses in the shadows so nosy shareholders and regulators can’t see what the heck they’re up to. So, what else is new? The banks are running a crooked, black box operation, and they aim to keep it that way come hell or high water.”

    Worse, the victim class is required to guarantee their profits by taking on their losses when the worst inevitably happens, and happens over and over again. Worse still, the people who are responsible for stopping it are in on the scam. Worst of all, the victim class can only keep electing these criminals to run the country because the crooks have a lock on the system, and have geared up to surveille and crack down on the victim class if it gets too resentful about getting plundered.

    This will all end in tears. For millions of people it has already ended in tears.

    1. James Levy

      There is simply no institution left that is trustworthy when it comes to investing capital. Government won’t do it, or they do it through idiotic incentive programs, or they hand the money off to the private sector to do it. Banks and the whole rotten edifice of Finance Capital could give a shit about investing in research and development, new infrastructure, plant, equipment, and inventories. Mountains of paper wealth exist but we can’t balance our budgets or keep medical and educational costs from skyrocketing and our infrastructure from decaying. Meanwhile, the only real stock of capital that counts, the air, water, soil, and natural resources of the planet (the older I get the more I think the reviled Physiocrats were on to something) is being used, abused, and run through at an alarming rate. The long-term implications are dire. Yet I see no knew institutions arising to replace the untrustworthy, discredited ones. All I can think of was what Historians used to call the period of “Bastard Feudalism” in the 1400s, when the old structures remained but the animating spirit and solidarity that used to make the system function had disappeared. Do we find ourselves today in the period of “Bastard Capitalism”, “Bastard Democracy”, or both?

        1. James Levy

          McMike, sounds great around the seminar table but what happens when the lights go out, the supply chains are interrupted, the medical system goes down? What happens when the rains don’t come and a can of Spam and a bottle of water is the difference between life and death?

          Postmodernist philosophy could only exist in an extremely stable, wealthy, and unaware epoch wherein the ugly shit of material reality could be masked by affluence. That epoch is rapidly heading for its close. It never existed for at least a billion people, and that number rises daily. Or, more directly, cancer is a metaphor–until you’re the schmuck with the malignant tumor.

          1. McMike

            Well, the fours stages of simulacra aptly describe what I see in reality all over the place.

            We are in the stage of government where the center of gravity is mainly about kabuki and rationalizations to justify/cover-up what is really going on (level three, i.e. crony corruption). We are nearing the stage of government where the government no longer even pretends to govern (level four, i.e. dictatorship and kleptocracy).

            Not sure how the breakdown of institutions negates that. In fact, that’s generally a necessary step to return to a cycle of renewal of meaning and purpose.

            Hell, you can see this happen in retail power tools, in commercial food, and in insurance. All of which once represented a fairly straightforward purpose, and are all now in varying degrees of becoming their opposite of their stated function. Power tools don;t even serve as decent hammers. Commercial food is not only lacking nutrition, but it makes you sick. And insurance is now not-insurance, but rather an extortion racket that calls itself insurance.

      1. huxley

        Big corps don’t need to invest. Why should they, when they can get the government to simply hand their profits to them?

        I’ve seen a couple of articles about how big business doesn’t need the real economy any more because they have the financial economy to make money on. You’ve probably seen them too. Of course, the problem with that approach is that it’s phony.

    2. Ulysses

      So what should we do here in the US.? I think the time for trying to elect better politicians within this corrupt system has passed. We need to recognize that our interests simply aren’t represented in this kleptocratic regime. Our attitude should be akin to those of colonized populations biding their time until they can reclaim their own land. Collaborate with the regime as little as possible, and support our own independent attempts to build communities and institutions that promote sane, healthy living. Continue to resist oppression, but begin to construct a new, more humane society on the scorched earth of the ravaged world left to us by the greedheads.

  9. diptherio

    Attn New Yorkers:

    Tomorrow your city council is going to be considering the role of worker cooperatives in NYC. Show up and show your support and/or speak out for the solidarity economy. The council will be hearing a presentation from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (@FPWA) on creating jobs and addressing inequality in the city through developing a thriving worker co-op sector. You can find their recent report here:

    Worker Co-operatives for New York City: A Vision for Addressing Income Inequality

    You can also get a condensed version by reading John Lawrence’s report from the FPWA’s recent symposium here:

    A Call to Develop a Worker Co-op Sector in New York

    Today, many low-income workers in New York City face poor quality jobs with few benefits. It is critical that the City Council support the creation of jobs that combat poverty and empower workers to build small businesses rooted in the local communities, like worker cooperatives. We are asking for your help in getting the word out about this hearing on worker cooperatives in an effort to maximize attendance, as well as testify at the hearing. To motivate New York City Council Members to act in the greater public interest, it is critical to have a big display of citizen concern to support their action!
    ~Noah Franklin, FPWA senior policy analyst

    Click here for more info.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Dream Of Moving Abroad Later In Life.

    Why not while you’re still young and can work?

    The Department of Emigration, anyone?

    If you can’t get me a job here in the good old U.S. of A, at least help me get one in Qatar!’

  11. herman sampson

    re: skunk party and Michael Hudson’s interview today – why not start a skunk caucus in already formed parties (green, socialist, reform) in which the primary focus is the dissolution, or at least the emasculation, of for-profit corporations? Removing corporations would allow Main Street capitalism to flourish (if it’s possible – I think socialism of some sort is the cure for the cancer of the 1%).

  12. James Levy

    Anyone have an insight (based on info) into how an agreement to end the fighting in Kiev and have early elections turned, in less than 24 hours, into the wholesale takeover of the Ukrainian state by the Ukrainian nationalists? Where did the army and the security forces go? Who got the Parliament to do an immediate 180 and turn everything over to the protestors? What are the Russian-speaking Ukrainians who gave the old government it shaky majority doing? And how is Moscow allowing its friends in Ukraine to be left to the tender mercies of the Ukrainian nationalists? It’s as if we see everything happening there and know nothing about it simultaneously.

    1. Working Class Nero

      In order to understand what just happened in Ukraine one has to see things through the eyes of the nationalists and particularly through two historic events, the Khmelnytsky Uprising and the Holodomor.

      Starring in the 16th century, the Polish nobility basically colonized the Cossack peasants on feudal estates in what is now the Ukraine and created the so-called Arenda System where Jews were sent as more or less tax farmers to be the enforcers of Cossack semi-slavery. The Jews served the absentee land-owning elite back in Poland in oppressing the Ukrainian peasants.

      So when Bohdan Khmelnytsky led a rebellion against this oppression, the Jewish underlings of the Polish nobility were on the front lines of a massacre, recent estimates place the number of dead Jews at around 40,000. Plenty of the Polish nobility were slaughtered as well, and there are accounts of Jews not involved in the oppression of the Cossacks being spared. In the end the rebellion pushed the Cossacks into the hands of the Russians, who named them Ukrainians. Nowadays, this rebellion is sold as simply a pogrom against the Jews while the part about fighting slavery, feudalism and oppression is for some reason left unmentioned.

      The other historical event casting its shadow over the main square of Kiev is the Holodomor; the massacre by the Soviet communists of more than 6 million Ukrainian “kulaks” by starvation in 1932-3. Lazar Kaganovich (note the first five letters of his surname), a Ukrainian Jew and Stalin’s faithful servant in oppressing the Ukraine is often put forward as the day-to-day manager of this massacre while Stalin serves in the more distant role of formerly played by the absentee Polish nobility. History sometimes echoes but does not repeat itself so the exaggerated blame placed on Jews by some Ukrainian nationalists for the Holodomor is not justified although personally Kaganovich went to his grave with much Ukrainian peasant blood on his hands.

      So fast forward to a few weeks ago when ironically (or not) Victoria Nuland, a member of the Kagan (there’s those five letters again) clan of neo-conservatives was caught conspiring to put her man “Yats” Arseniy Yatsenyuk in power while pushing to the side the Nationalist Oleh Tyahnybok. Then last Friday, the Polish foreign minister used the threat of a Russian invasion to get the Ukrainian opposition to accept an EU-brokered peace deal. Wall Street jackals used a similar doomsday type of threat to get spineless US politicians to bail out the banks back in 2008

      On the ground in Freedom Square, the hard men of Right Sector, who seem a little closer to Golden Dawn than the Front National, could not accept such a facile outcome pushed by a Polish minister and a Kagan. Their men were the ones fighting and dying and although ultimately they know they will be betrayed by conniving politicians and international alliances, they were not ready to stand down just yet. So they charged the police lines, taking many casualties, but ultimately pushed the Ukrainian police back. A normal police force is not a good match against an organized and violent insurrection and apparently the Ukrainian military were not ready to step in. So the Ukrainain police forces retreated into safer East Ukraine and the President hit to road as well.

      There is also more than a chance that Russia clearly sees the internal contradictions of the US/EU supporting nationalists and stepped back in order to allow chaos to ensue. While the Russian=supported Yanukovych was there, the Ukrainian opposition was united — by pulling back, the differing opposition groups are most certainly going to be at each other’s necks. And nationalists all around Europe are rejoicing in the victory of their brothers in Ukraine and EU bureaucrats cannot be happy about that.

      The more important lesson for the West is that when change comes quickly, it will come from the Right, from those willing to both use and suffer violence, and the results will most often not be pretty but the hope is that the outcome will be better than the status quo ante.

      1. hunkerdown

        In the eyes of power, it’s okay to have a taste for violence and it’s okay to have a taste for justice, but NEVER, EVER at the same time.

      2. John Jones

        Working Class Nero
        Is the appeal of the E.U because of the history with Russia and the corruption of Yanukovych and is seen lesser of two evils. Or is it seen a genuine way to bring prosperity to the country by Ukrainians?

        My fear is the parties that come to power will just bring in neo-liberal policies that will damage the country further. Whether implemented to try get into the E.U or to have some sort of trade agreement with them. Or because of the current ideologies that will take power.

    2. Murky

      Simple answer to your question: 1) Yanukovych’s security forces used live ammunition on demonstrators. That act repelled many from supporting the Yanukovych regime. 2) The very next day, members of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions started resigning en masse, and some fled abroad. 3) Yanukovych’s Party of Regions then lost its majority in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament). 4) The remaining members of the Ukrainian parliament then simply outnumbered Yanukovych’s party, and 5) They passed legislation which removed Yanukovych from office, and stopped Interior Ministry forces from their assault on demonstrators. 6) Without the arm of a police state, the Yanukovych regime simply crumbled.

      The language used in framing your question is revealing. You ask about, “the wholesale takeover of the Ukrainian state by the Ukrainian nationalists?” You assume that describing the new ruling coalition as ‘nationalist’ is a good fit. But I think that’s a mis-labelling. I think it’s much more accurate to describe the new government as simply anti-Yanukovych. Sure, nationalism plays an important role in Ukrainian politics. But it wasn’t the main factor in the swift collapse of Yanukovych regime. The Yanukovych regime was just too corrupt and oppressive to be tolerated any longer. When various factions chose to openly fight the regime, the show of resistance captured public sympathy, and the uprising soon became a popular revolt. The Yanukovych regime was hated. And not just by nationalists, but also by millions of ordinary Ukrainians from all walks of life.

      I also like most of what Working Class Nero has written. Understand the history, and you will understand the current politics.

  13. coboarts

    Ukraine: leaving the issues aside – that ain’t tantrums being thrown in the street, that’s insurrection done right, and now “everybody knows.” Coming to a theater near you…

    1. James Levy

      Gwynne Dyer, the Canadian military historian living in London, wrote several months ago that the overthrow of the Morsi government was a sure sign that the kind of events we once saw in Manila and Prague were going to be captured by quite different movements so that well-positioned minorities with the right kind of foreign backing (in Egypt’s case, that of Saudi Arabia) could and would overthrow democratic elections (and this is a bad thing). Insurrection done right, perhaps, but for whom, backed by whom, and for what ultimate purpose? You see, I still think that the only way to live in a civilized society is, if you lose an election, to eat shit and prepare for the next election. Britain in the era of Queen Anne finally got this process right, where losing an election didn’t lead to one group anathematizing the losers. The alternative is government by whomever can put enough violent demonstrators into the streets of the capital city and get the media to sell their propaganda, and that’s no basis for a system of government. If this is winning by having outsiders buy off and subvert the elected representatives of the people, I’d rather lose. If Chinese money, Chinese propaganda, and Chinese spies put Noam Chomsky in the White House, I’d be the first one to volunteer to shot him down like a dog.

      As Zimbabwe and South Africa demonstrate, who wins, and how you win, matters enormously.

      1. Abe, NYC

        Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

        What Yanukovych tried to do was not light or transient, this was an abrupt 180 degree change of policy away from Europe. That was what sparked the initial protest. This change could not be easily undone by next elected government – which is exactly what Yanukovych was trying to achieve, without any pretense of public debate.

        And so he painted himself into a corner. He could not back down on his new course in the face of protests (a normal occurrence BTW, especially in parliamentary democracies) and his popularity was low even in the East Ukraine due to his well-known corruption and ties to the oligarchs – too low to take stronger measures against the protesters.

        Russians accuse him of being weak and indecisive, but I think he simply could not trust the police and army enough to initiate a bloody suppression. When he eventually did (probably as a last resort), he was toppled within a couple of days. It’s anybody’s guess what would have happened if he tried the trick a couple of months ago. Probably even more blood and chaos with the same result.

      2. Ulysses

        So here in the United Stasi States of America we just have to wait patiently for Jamie Dimon and his ilk to voluntarily surrender power? Are they going to pay for Noam Chomsky’s presidential campaign? When Jill Stein merely showed up to a MSM covered presidential debate she was arrested! You must be smoking something pretty strong to believe we live in some sort of “civilized,” or even barely functional, representative democracy.

        I of course would also vigorously oppose any foreign subversion of our political system– which is why I so vehemently oppose the politicians, paid off by the money of foreign and domestic plutocrats, who are now pushing so hard for the TPP/TAFTA!!

    2. Murky

      “That’s insurrection done right.” Yep, good clarity is finally emerging about events in Ukraine. Anybody who clicks on today’s link about Yanukovych’s private estate will see images of extravagant luxury and wealth. Perhaps Yanukovych pillaged public funds to build this Disneyland dream-scape? Hmmmm… Have to think about that. Anyway, the Ukrainian public is now taking tours 24/7. There is a golf course, a zoo, a yacht, a helicopter, fleets of automobiles, private lakes, a private forest, and a huge mansion with only the most luxurious furnishings. His private jet would be there too, but it wouldn’t fit. Words don’t do justice to the images. Yanukovych has other digs too, a vacation home in the Crimea (fabulous!) and a lodge in the Carpathian mountains. This is how Ukraine was governed, in the style of a mafia king. The resources of an entire nation-state were drained wholesale for personal gain. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Yanukovych’s sons and business partners are also fabulously wealthy. Meanwhile, the nation of Ukraine is itself close to financial collapse! This is all so much piquant detail for the several people here at Naked Capitalism, who have been arguing that ‘nationalists’ and ‘extremists’ are the real problem in Ukraine. Well, just maybe the real problem was the Yanukovych regime.

      1. Jess

        Bravo. Dead on correct. And for those pushing the idea that removing an elected president is always wrong, you gotta wait for the next election, etc., I submit the words: Impeachment. Richard Nixon.

        And impeach is exactly what the Ukrainian legislature just did, to both Yanukovych and his Interior Minister responsible for the government massacre of protesters.

        1. hunkerdown

          And for those pushing the idea that removing an elected president is always wrong, you gotta wait for the next election, etc.,

          Because the rulers have more right to rule than people have to consent to their government, apparently. If that’s the sort of degenerate thinking it takes to make representative democracy work, it’s always been a pure fraud and better to stop believing in disproven religions.

          1. Ulysses

            People do try to cling to delusions, don’t they? Here’s Chris Hedges:
            “Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because those who rule continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt civil society. And this is what has happened to us.

            No one who lives under constant surveillance, who is subject to detention anywhere at any time, whose conversations, messages, meetings, proclivities and habits are recorded, stored and analyzed, can be described as free.

            The relationship between the U.S. government and the U.S. citizen is now one of master and slave. Yet the prerogative state assures us that our rights are sacred, that it abides by the will of the people and the consent of the governed.”

      2. James Levy

        Yes, and Saddam lived in a palace and was a bad guy so the invasion and destruction of Iraq were completely justified. How about you vote the guy out, and if he refuses to leave, then you launch the revolution? Because if the Russian-speakers get screwed in all this, I’m not imagining that you’ll be back here talking about how they should march into Kiev and tear the place apart until the government steps down and so they can put their own guys into power without an election–or didn’t you notice this was the overthrow of a duly elected government by a mob?

      3. Synopticist

        I’d prefer to suspend my judgement until things become a bit clearer, (there are lots of people tweeting about how Russia is about to invade, for example).

        However, I have doubts about an “anti-corruption revolution ” who’s first move is to free a hugely corrupt oligarch and former prime minister. Now doubt Yulia Tomoshenko may have been “unfairly” prosecuted in ex-Soviet kleptocrat terms- there are at least a dozen people who stole even more than she did, and got clean away, and she’s only been linked with ONE contract killing afaik. But nice person she isn’t.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I agree strongly, particularly on the “anti-corruption” front. I remember in Brazil how the original, Occupy-like transit protests were transformed/co-opted into “middle class” anti-corruption protests aimed at the party in power, and heralded as “revolt of the middle classes” (where the next obvious move is lower taxes for them so the working class get no relief (assuming taxes fund government, which they don’t)). I’d argue that “anti-corruption” is often anti the wrong sort of corruption, i.e., middle class people paying “tea money” so their kids get into the right schools is totally jake with the angels.

        2. Murky

          Mostly agree about Tymoshenko. Glad only that’s she’s sprung from prison. Not glad that she has a good shot at the Ukrainian Presidency. She’d be a replay of old school Ukrainian politics.

  14. Jackrabbit

    Re: Krugman: Age of Austerity

    “As I keep saying, permanently high disemployment is an elite policy choice, and both legacy parties are fully on board.” – Lambert

    Krugman is not bemoaning austerity because its bad policy as much as he is providing an excuse that Democrats can use in the 2014 elections to counter progressive and Republican criticism.

    How do we know this?
    1) Krugman doesn’t mention the Obama Administration’s culpability in “the Age of Austerity”. If he really feels strongly about the austerity issue, why not tweak the Administration for its pro-austerity moves?

    a) Obama made most of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent in exchange for ‘the Sequester’ (Austerity) for everyone else.

    b) Obama’s stimulus was widely perceived as too small (even by Krugman, I believe)

    c) Obama has NOT pushed strongly for job programs and other anti-Austerity measures (because unemployment helps Obama push for pro-corporate Obamatrade). (note: Krugman supports Obamatrade).

    d) Obamacare (which Krugman supports) takes money out of the economy as the 99% covers healthcare costs for the uninsured. Obama/Krugman/Democrats could’ve pushed for cutting tax loopholes like ‘carried interest’ to cover such additional cost – they did not (Note: this is yet another broken 2008 Obama campaign pledge).

    2) Krugman doesn’t mention the improvement in the headline unemployment number, or, more importantly (in the anti-austerity context) bash this number as unrepresentative of US unemployment. Why? He wants to allow Democrats to take credit for bringing down unemployment.

    3) Krugman doesn’t use this opportunity to bash Republicans or even to make the case, as he has so many times before, for deficit spending. This is unusual as he loves to attack the crazy Republicans almost as much as he loves pointing out how he has been right about an issue (any issue). But a ‘clean’ comment like this can be used by Democrats in the 2014 race.

    = = = = = = = =
    While I love the Krugman pinata has much as anyone, it comes at the price of allowing Krugman to remain respectable. Pulling punches where Krugman and others who are perceived as ‘liberal icons’ (up to and including Obama) are concerned is part of the reason that the left is so discredited. As long as the left compromises its principles like that, they shoot themselves in the foot and become complicit in the sham that ‘power politics’ has become.

    Look, most of us will not hold office. We will not benefit much, if at all, from this ‘game’ of partisan ‘power politics’. The best that we can do is hold our elected officials accountable to important principles. When Krugman and other shills misuse their public position to consistently degrade such accountability (directly or indirectly, and whether spoken or unspoken) and promote us vs. them ‘power politics’ then shouldn’t they be denounced?

    1. neo-realist

      Re the extension of Bush tax cuts, weren’t they merely extended temporarily to extend unemployment insurance benefits when the unemployment rate was at its heights a few years ago, but allowed to lapse when a budgetary agreement wasn’t reached?

      And re jobs programs, didn’t Obama push for some multi-million dollar infrastructure rebuilding program, but got shot down by the republicans in the house?

      I’m not saying Obama is some sort of closet progressive champion, but there appears to have been more powerful political forces at hand preventing even small positive policy moves.

      1. Jackrabbit

        The Bush tax cuts were first extended (temporarily) and the middle class was given a tax credit. The economy was too fragile, we were told.

        Then, before they were to expire – at the oh so scary “fiscal cliff” – they were (mostly) made permanent in a deal that setup the ‘Sequester’ – across the board government cuts. The Republicans thumbed their nose (surprise! – NOT) and the “Sequester” was implemented. Since then, I understand that some cuts to the military have been reversed (in full or in part).

        Also, in the 2008 campaign Obama promised to close the ‘carried interest’ tax loop-hole – a giveaway to Wall Street millionaires. Never happened.

        After Obama was elected the Democrats had a majority in both houses of Congress. Obama insisted on restraining his actions claiming that he believed in bi-partisanship. Most independent observers saw this as silly. After the Democrats lost the House, the Republicans have blocked Obama initiatives. But when has Obama actually taken an issue to the people?

        The excuse for not delivering on 2008 promises, as delivered by Michele at the 2012 Democratic Convention, was: Change takes time.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Lambert, I’m not singling you out. You and Yves understand things as much as anyone. But I wonder if (maybe) you sometimes you forget that not every NC reader has the same understanding. Even some longtime NC readers – who reject Obama’s shananigans(!) – think Krugman is a source of truth and wisdom (you may have noticed my reply to such nonsense a few weeks ago).

        Krugman (and Obama) represent a challenge to the left that has not been met (or, at least not well). I feel that Krugman has to be deconstructed (again and again) until people start to ‘get it.’ Many, I think, see Krugman as nonpolitical because he is a professor and a NYT columnist, not a politician. Naturally, this is exactly what Krugman hopes for or he would add an appropriate disclaimer to his blog.

        I feel that progressive-minded people are often victims of their own good nature. MikeNY has summed this up when he said that he follows Krugman because he believes that all points of view should be heard (I am paraphrasing). But Krugman isn’t being honest. He is pretending to be neutral when he is not. His writings are often designed to mislead, not illuminate (as the current example demonstrates). And those who are inclined toward progressive/left-ish views can easily be taken in by the crafty, self-professed “conscience of a liberal.”

  15. squasha


    today’s links are chaliced Fancy Feast to the usual top-shelf kibble we come a-runnin for, the screed on Assange is a fine piece of work, or rather the man himself sounds like a fine piece of work. Foster Kane or Ellsberg? Brilliant.

  16. Jackrabbit

    Deep Statement

    Lofgren’s analysis is at once disturbing and reassuring. The term ‘Deep State’ is much more neutral than ‘Crony Capitalism’ and the ‘Deep State’ menace is much more amorphous than ‘class war’. And, despite the pathology of the ‘Deep State’, Lofgren supposes that the body politic still has the power to effect change and will do so as conditions worsen.

    Like light, the ‘Deep State’ is both particle (individuals) and wave (ideology) but Lofgren’s description is classical in scope. Thus, troubling aspects of Obama’s Presidency seem hazy under Lofgren’s lens. For example, despite his Administration’s mendacity, secretiveness, and manipulation Obama has faced surprisingly little push-back or blow-back. ‘Deep State’ fails to explain such ‘spooky action at a distance’ that allows for shaping reality. And, while government and corporate interests may collude as the ‘Deep State’, the ‘prize’ is won and controlled by individuals. Obama was supported by power brokers like Daley and Pritzker and Wall Street tycoons like Rubin and a plethora of their cronys are solid supporters. Crony Relativity: ‘Deep State’ actors are not all alike.

    Furthermore, Lofgren’s belief that the American people retain some measure of control seems like wishful thinking. He cites Syria and NSA reforms as ‘proof’ of this belief. But Obama punted on Syria because the formula for making war broke: the British rejected war (as did every other ally except the French). And NSA reforms – just like Dodd-Frank financial services reform – is little more than an exercise in public relations damage control. Spinning failure into a ‘victory’ for a faux democracy and allaying the public with faux concern and faux action are examples of the propaganda-induced black holes that have become crony litmus tests. Anyone that doesn’t back the Party Line is suspect.

    While light may be the best disinfectant, those who object to what is going on should not be comforted by Lofgren’s analysis or the press it receives. In fact, Lofgren’s analysis is somewhat reminiscent of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, headed by Director Anthony Leiserwitz which proposes the wacky notion that government has not tackled Climate Change because politicians don’t know how to talk to us about climate change. Individuals that are acting to screw the public should not be given an ‘out’ by blaming amorphous entities that can not be held accountable.

    I feel that ‘Deep State’ doesn’t go far enough. Maybe that’s a good thing because more ‘radical’ analysis would be dismissed. I wonder if what we have today isn’t more akin to a cabal of cronys USING the connections of the ‘Deep State’ to extend their power and reward those who help them to do so (a notion that may be too conspiratorial and scary for most).

    1. Jackrabbit

      Note: When I say that France supported attacking Syria, I am really stretching the truth. While Hollande supported attacking Syria, most French people didn’t. This is clear in this USA Today news item from September 2, 1013. Excerpts:

      On Monday, the prime minister met top members of Parliament to discuss military intervention ahead of a debate in Parliament on Wednesday. The international community is watching what France will do following the defeat in the British Parliament last week of a motion on military intervention.

      “I think France is committed in a way that is worrying . . . We are the only important Western country taking the U.S. side and that will lead to a certain misunderstanding in Arab opinion, a certain isolation within the European Union, and create tensions at the domestic level,” said Denis Bauchard, analyst at the Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI), a think tank in Paris.

      In France, legislative approval is not required for military action, and Hollande is only obligated to alert lawmakers three days before any intervention expected to last less than four months.

      Even so, Hollande is under pressure from his own party to hold a vote on military action in Parliament. Like Obama, Hollande faces legislative opposition to engagement in Syria.

      Both former prime minister François Fillon and current head of the conservative opposition party UMP, Jean-François Cope, have warned Hollande against “tagging along with the U.S.,” while the head of the Parti de gauche, leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has accused him of becoming a “back-up soldier” of the U.S.

      “France should not get involved — past military experiences in Iraq and Libya were counter-productive, very expensive and they have put Islamists in power,” he said.

      Hollande faces an uphill battle with the public also.

      Almost two-thirds of the French public do not support French military action against the Syrian regime, according to a poll published by newspaper Le Parisien.

      “I do not understand this decision — it’s completely irresponsible,” said teacher Abdel Khelif in Paris. “We’re going to engage in a war, God knows for how long, and for what? The region is a powder keg, and this will destabilize it even more with consequences we can’t even imagine.”

    2. Ulysses

      “Lofgren’s belief that the American people retain some measure of control seems like wishful thinking.” I agree, although it may be useful if enough people start to examine how it is that their wishes are always blocked– and begin to insist far more vigorously on acquiring meaningful control of government. A government, after all, that still purports to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve always been suspicious of “deep” state for the same reason I’m suspicious of “middle class” — both are dead metaphors based on a geometry that isn’t defined and could be deceptive in practice.

      I think “ruling class” would do just fine as a substitute for “deep state,” which I grant sounds profound and new.

      1. neo-realist

        Deep State has always struck me as a metaphor for the machinations of the intelligence apparatus to serve the interests of the 1%

  17. Ming the merciful

    Levy, Chomsky in the White House? And you’ll volunteer to shoot him down like a dog? That would be silly. Until the White House turns into a repurposed morgue like the Ceaucescu palace, Chomsky in the White House would be a helpless puppet ruler just like 8 of our last 9 presidents.

    If the Chinese wanted a material change in US policy, they would promote state failure, and not some exiguous occurance in the rigged US electoral sham that influences nothing. Fortunately for the crafty CPC mandarins, they hardly need to promote state failure at all – they can sit tight and golf-clap as they watch it happen. In the failed American state, reconstruction will then proceed in accordance with the standard UN template. The imposition of world-standard rights and rule of law would satisfy the USG’s most hated adversaries while alleviating the misery of the subject population of North America.

  18. savedbyirony

    Somewhat related to the FT article “How to tweet like a teenager”, the recent Frontline piece, “Generation Like” (primarily about the highly intagrated online advertising schemes geared toward kids/young adults) might be of interest to people here. I don’t know how new much of the info will be to NC readers, but what is fascinating is hearing what the kids themselves say about all this. (The young people’s take on the term “sellout” is certainly different from my youthful times back in the 80’s and early 90’s.)

  19. Hugh

    The Economist’s article on labor markets is an example of alternate universe economics. No mention is made of wealth inequality or the offshoring of jobs. It’s all capital, labor, productivity, and wages. That there were and are real people shaping the outcomes we are seeing (and which they benefit almost exclusively from) is completely missing. If it weren’t for the throwaway line about a basic income guarantee, this article would probably have no redeeming qualities at all. But if our economy was meeting the needs and aspirations of its members, and doing so at reduced labor levels, then why would there be any need or justification for large, let alone the extreme degree, of wealth inequality we see today?

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