Links 2/28/14

Yves is still quite sick, so links are a little sketchy, and there’s one post coming later this morning. –lambert

Smell of forest pine can limit climate change – researchers BBC

Northern Lights illuminate the UK BBC. Gorgeous.

Here’s What Might Happen to Local Ecosystems If All the Rhinos Disappear Smithsonian

Everything is Awesome! The Reformed Broker

No Big Deal Paul Krugman, Times. Krugman hands in his TPP homework. Readers: Passing grade?

BofA fights attempt to raise ‘hustle’ fine FT. Film at 11!

‘Landmark’ crackdown on fake shares fraudsters BBC (press release, Richard Smith).

N.Y. Barclays Libor Traders Said to Face U.K. Charges Bloomberg

Cardiologist Misconduct Case Turned Over to German Prosecutors Medscape (Richard Smith)

Japan says any bitcoin regulation should be international Reuters

Big cut in U.S. fourth-quarter GDP growth looms Reuters

Janet Yellen wants ‘firmer handle’ on the weather effect on data FT

Death of a Statistic Conversable Economist. Let’s hold another bake sale for the International Price Program and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages!

Household wealth still down 14 percent since recession Eurekalert (Ohio State University).

Recalls from Unemployment NBER. Social capital still matters.

Rome days away from bankruptcy Telegraph

Beijing guides renminbi lower in effort to manage financial risks (“biggest weekly fall in years”) FT

China pillages Africa like old colonialists says Jane Goodall Bangkok Post (FM).

China issues report on U.S. human rights Xinhua

How business went ‘DEFCON 1’ in Ariz. Politico

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ Guardian. Or, if you’re the Daily Mail, this is your headline: Have millions of webcam users had their sex pictures harvested by the NSA? Given the potential for blackmail by the organs of state security, I’d have to go with the Mail.

GCHQ Revealed: Inside Her Majesty’s Listening Service Der Spiegel

Police Department Clears Officers Of Beating and Falsely Charging New Jersey Man . . . Reporter Then Finds Dashcam Video Proving All Of The Allegations Jonathan Turley (Chuck L). Dashcams?!? What is this, lawless post-Soviet Russia?

Apple continues to hide its rotten security from consumers Pando Daily. “Rotten security” and “Epic security flaw” aren’t the kind of headlines Apple executives like to see, I’m sure.

Tablets Get Down to Business Online WSJ

It’s not complicated, just chill Digitopoly

Global Unrest

Armed men seize two airports in Ukraine’s Crimea, Russia denies involvement Reuters

Ukraine tells Russia to back off as Crimea tensions, secession fears deepen CNN

Thai PM Yingluck challenged to live TV debate by protest leader Suthep Asian Correspondent

Bangkok’s Rabbit Hole Christpher G. Moore Blog.

How a sensible economic policy might have sparked Venezuela’s protests WaPo. Why the middle class is ticked: Currency arbitrage (?) shut down.

Traders flocking to Treasuries Futures (Furzy Mouse)

Foreign investors and crises: There is no safe haven for all seasons VoxEU

Opinion: Why oil drilling in Ecuador is ‘ticking time bomb’ for planet CNN

Visit a Crumbling, Soviet-Era Floating ‘Oil City’ Atlantic

Teach For America’s unspoken alliance with the one percent Pruning Shears

The One Percent Should Pay for Faster Growth Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Bow to Davos Man, your homeless overlord Macrobusiness. Why it’s kicking off everywhere.

Our Comrade the Electron Maciej Ceglowski, Webstock 2014

Antidote du jour:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post on by .

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. Anon y Mouse

    Krugman’s homework:

    Meanwhile, opponents portray the T.P.P. as a huge plot, suggesting that it would destroy national sovereignty and transfer all the power to corporations. This, too, is hugely overblown. Corporate interests would get somewhat more ability to seek legal recourse against government actions, but, no, the Obama administration isn’t secretly bargaining away democracy. (Emphasis added.)


    Krugman, you can’t get a good grade on a rebuttal, when you rebut well formed arguments with an unsubstantiated claim. Where is your evidence?

    Also, your “argument” makes no sense: How is it possible for Obama to push (in secret) for corporations to “get somewhat more ability to seek legal recourse against government actions” (as you admit) without “secretly bargaining away democracy?”

    What else could it mean for corporations to “get somewhat more ability to seek legal recourse against government actions” Paul?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        In the Big Brother category above: Yahoo webcam images from millions of users intercepted by GCHQ

        Once upon a time, THAT was a conspiracy “theory” too.

    1. different clue

      Krugman is consciously lying on purpose about the goals and methods of TPP. His goal is to
      trick the impressionable among his readers into thinking that the TPP is not the danger they are hearing it is. He hopes to trick these readers into standing down in relief on this mater.

    2. susan the other

      I always used to tell my daughter when she accused me of not trusting her when she was a teenager that: No – I do trust you – it is circumstances that I do not trust. Just so, I would like to tell Krugman that he sounds OK here, but it is circumstances that I do not trust and to pass TPP, if it is really no big deal either way, would be to invite all sorts of unintended consequences that the big corporations have already baked in the deal. Plus millions of loopholes that will be superimposed on any transgressions, etc. which will all come home to roost when we finally wake up. I’d just like Krugman to deliberate the actual modern-day value of trade at all since with technology every country can produce everything it needs domestically.

  2. Hugh

    Krugman: “I am in general a free trader.”

    Free trade like free markets don’t exist. The only questions worth asking about either is who’s running them and for whose benefit. The benefits definitely go to the rich and elites, that is members of Krugman’s class. The downside goes to American workers who see their jobs shipped overseas and downward pressure exerted on their wages, and to the country more generally in lost industries and know-how. But hey, you can buy cheap shit that falls apart at Walmart and other retailers. So it’s all good, right? What we should understand from Krugman’s assertion that he is a free trader is that he is a member of his class. This is a man whose liberal conscience pushes him to take arms not to end kleptocracy but to defend it. We should never for a second assume that Krugman is on our side. He is on the side of his class, end of story.

    1. susan the other

      My instinct always tells me to agree with Hugh. The TPP IS a big deal. Possibly because of the dog that is not barking. China. It is excluded from the TPP for now but if the TPP passes and China joins in the future it can probably be guaranteed that there will be a built-in exception for all of China’s non-domestic/US corporations to screw their own country (the US) blind regardless of US patents. So screw secret free trade. It’s not secret – it’s just illegal and it’s not free trade because free trade is a fantasy. Besides which it is not even necessary.

    2. Abe, NYC

      Free trade like free markets don’t exist. The only questions worth asking about either is who’s running them and for whose benefit.

      Krugman has maintained pretty much that with regard to China. A few years back he repeatedly said that China subsidized its exporters by running an undervalued currency and repressed interest rates, pretty much what e.g. Michael Pettis was saying at the time, and it was against the grain. Not that I’m an ardent defender of Krugman or am willing to forgive his defense of the Democratic establishment, but one’s got to be fair to him.

      But yes, with a Democrat in the White House, Prof K. has lost a bit of credibility.

  3. scott

    Not a very good grade for Krugman. His trademark is pretty deep, fine-grained discussion of the issues, which is lacking here. The only attempt to engage is on intellectual property rights, where he kindasorta says that it’s probably a bad idea, and he also (as noted above) laughs away the pretty extraordinary secrey constraints on even looking at this deal as an invention of conspiracy theorists. Foe all his jibes at the end at the Serious, I wonder whether the kid-gloves treatment is because Krugman WAS one of those guys who went all in for globalization in the 90s, as he describes, and feels a bit leery of criticizing a viewpoint he used to support more strongly.

  4. Hugh

    As for the rest of Krugman’s post, he basically dodges the substance because he thinks the TPP is a dead duck. So why take a position for something that won’t happen?

    Anon y mouse above notes the secrecy surrounding the TPP. Krugman dodges this by simply ignoring it. That’s a rather singular lack of curiosity from a supposedly savvy pundit. If those “crazy” Republicans Krugman is always going on about had indulged in such secrecy, Krugman would have been all over it. Obama does it, and Krugman’s reaction? No big deal. Intellectual property? Ditto. No critique of our insane intellectual property laws that ensure intellectual property owners rents in perpetuity. Just a few off-hand, half-assed comments. The anti-China geopolitics of the TPP. No mention. Banking? No mention. The TPP’s placing corporations above national sovereignty? Minimized.

    I mean this is real chutzpah on Krugman’s part. He says the “glory” days of free trade took place back in the 1960s. Just think about that. Before GATT, the WTO, NAFTA, and the various NAFTA clones. Makes you wonder why anyone ever bothered with them (or Krugman supported them). I guess these were all no big deals either as seems to be anything that tends to blow apart whatever Krugman’s current thesis is.

    1. different clue

      I think he hopes to trick others into thinking that he thinks TPP is a dead duck. If he can trick others into thinking that, he can trick those others into abandoning their active opposition as unecessary. Why oppose a duck that is dead? Krugman’s secret mission is to do his part to keep the duck alive by grounding out concern about it. He suppors Free Trade as much as he ever did, and he supports Corporate Globalonial Plantationism as much as he did before.

    2. just me

      In terms of dodges and misdirections — and I am SO not an economist, but — it struck me as weird that in the glory days paragraph Krugman linked “Kennedy Round” to a long, dense WTO history page on “The GATT Years” where Kennedy Round is mentioned in one sentence, when I had just first learned of the Kennedy Round last week here in Matt Stoller’s post on his research of NAFTA’s origins titled ““Free Trade” Pacts Were Always About Weakening Nation-States to Promote Rule by Multinationals.”

      George Ball at a 1967 hearing just after Kennedy Round concluded: “But to fulfill its full potential the multinational corporation must be able to operate with little regard for national boundaries – or, in other words, for restrictions imposed by individual national governments.” (one of the sections Stoller highlights)

      For the Kennedy Round, the WTO page that Krugman linked to just said:

      In the early years, the GATT trade rounds concentrated on further reducing tariffs. Then, the Kennedy Round in the mid-sixties brought about a GATT Anti-Dumping Agreement and a section on development.

      Like, pay no attention to that gorilla we just saw there, think of this fog when you see “Kennedy Round”? Interesting timing anyway. Kudos to Stoller.

  5. Jim Haygood

    A WaPo article linked under ‘Global Unrest’ describes Maduro’s economic policies in Venezuela — 56% inflation; parallel exchange rates an order of magnitude apart — as ‘sensible.’ Man, that author is one dim-witted yanqui.

    Meanwhile, a journo who was posted in Argentina in the 1980s, Roger Cohen, supplies a more realistic perspective on runaway inflation and parallel exchange rates:


    A bon mot doing the rounds in post-commodities-boom South America is that Brazil is in the process of becoming Argentina, and Argentina is in the process of becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is in the process of becoming Zimbabwe. That is a little harsh on Brazil and Venezuela.

    Argentina, however, is a perverse case of its own. It is a nation still drugged by that quixotic political concoction called Peronism; engaged in all-out war on reliable economic data; tinkering with its multilevel exchange rate; shut out from global capital markets; trampling on property rights when it wishes; obsessed with a lost little war in the Falklands (Malvinas) more than three decades ago; and persuaded that the cause of all this failure lies with speculative powers seeking to force a proud nation — in the words of its leader — “to eat soup again, but this time with a fork.”

    Argentina is the child among nations that never grew up. Responsibility was not its thing. Why should it be? There was so much to be plundered, such riches in grain and livestock, that solid institutions and the rule of law — let alone a functioning tax system — seemed a waste of time.

    Now it’s twenty-five years since I left a country of hyperinflation (5,000 percent in 1989), capital flight, currency instability, heavy-handed state interventionism, dwindling reserves, uncompetitive industry, heavy reliance on commodity exports, reawakening Peronist fantasies and bottom-of-the-world complexes. Today inflation is high rather than hyper. Otherwise, not a whole lot has changed.

      1. Jim Haygood

        I did, but you’re missing my point. This is what the author, Taylor, describes as ‘sensible’:

        ‘Under the new system, known as Sicid 2, only state-owned companies will have access to the low official exchange rate, and for other purposes a third exchange rate will be set up where the price of dollars will be set every day using a form of supply and demand. Economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch believe this new exchange could result in an average exchange rate of 25 to 40 Bolívares to the dollar.
        On the surface, at least, this seems like a sensible idea for the wider Venezuelan economy.’

        ‘Sensible’? No serious country runs a parallel exchange rate system. If B of A is correct, the new rigged exchange rate still would be about one-third of the black market rate, such that economically useless arbitrage will remain highly profitable.

        Sicid2 is just a new, nicely-upholstered deck chair on the deck of the Venezuelan Titanic.

  6. TimR

    Teach for America:
    “The model works like this: Mandate standardized testing, use TFA recruits to teach to the test, use the test results to “prove” the effectiveness of TFA, use the TFA pipeline to close schools and fire teachers, and replace both with charters staffed by lower paid, non-union TFA employees. (And please note that charters go tits up with all the orderliness and accountability of Freedom Industries.)”

    I love knowing how the model (the evil) works…
    Of course the status quo is not that great either, but I suppose it can always get worse.

    1. MLS

      I have no strong opinion for or against TFA and I’m making no commentary on whether we should mandate standardized tests, but what is stopping the teachers already in the schools from teaching to some standardized test should it be mandated? This just doesn’t seem like all that brilliant of a “plan”.

      1. hunkerdown

        Nothing, of course. Never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by “rational actors” chasing magical sparkle ponies.

        1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

          The TFA thing is a fulcrum in the effort to drive teachers wages down and turn teachers unions into a company shop. And ultimately privatize education completely.

  7. Yellowrose

    Let’s be clear – “free trade” can only happen when both parties come to the bargaining table on equal footing with equal power and equal knowledge/information. That is the only way that one party can’t exploit the other. That rarely happens. Rather, in order for both parties to benefit we need “fair trade” and that is something quite different. My guess, Krugman (elite, privileged white male) won’t be promoting anything like fair trade anytime soon.

  8. Jackrabbit

    Krugman is toe-ing the party line. He won’t denounce TPP because fundamentally he supports it just as he supports the Obama & Co. neo-lib agenda (he’s a free-trader!). But he can’t push FOR it either because the Democratic leadership have conspired to play down the chances for success/passage.

    What we see from Krugman is yet another neo-lib snow job. This is how the neo-libs have succeeded: by sly bullshiting, stealthy maneuvering, and intimidation. Krugman is particularly guilty as he pretends to be an independent, left-leaning voice of reason but is actually more political operative than economist.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      When you know you can’t win the game, the next best thing is to downplay its significance.

      The erudite Krugman obliges.

      I’m sure there’s a limit to the amount of repudiation an egotistical narcissist like Obama is willing to suffer.

    1. JaaaaayCeeeee

      Krugman’s used the same stance as his blog post weeks ago, that TPP doesn’t advance already free trade, and nothing to see. Ugh.

      Yet, in his TPP editorial, Krugman whacked modern trade pacts as fast tracking more monopolization, against our national (vs corporations’) interest, and as wasting political capital needed for urgent economic and political realities. News media can’t keep ignoring this, quite so easily now.

      A critic whacking a shallow, sure-to-be popular, Oscar marketed movie could not have crafted an editorial better, for expected partial quotes, from a megaphone as big (and sensitive to donors, pols, and financiers) as nytimes. A more straightforward, analytically consistent stem winder wouldn’t fly.

      The stew Congress has made of our economy is not just sticking but burning, and starting to stink of risks. Krugman continues to push for action on our urgent economic and political problems, arguing that stagnation demands Congress do fiscal policy legislating, which they have avoided like never.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China issues report on US human rights.

    What’s next?

    A visit by the reincarnated leader of the Confederacy in exile?

    1. ambrit

      Dear MLTPB;
      Walk around any town or village here Down South and you’ll see that the Confederacy never went into exile in the first place. As for reincarnated grand wizard of a paternalistic, semi feudal, “Traditionalist” socio-political system; our esteemed POTUS fills that role very well, thank you. (These are the days of “Equal Opportunity” after all!) What I’m waiting to see is a covert Chinese effort to build and direct an American Sendero Luminoso. Now that would be a blow for civil rights!

  10. Eeyores enigma

    “Smell of forest pine can limit climate change – researchers ”

    A day late and a trillion $ short.

    Global warming induced forest dieback is kicking in exponentially. Boreal forests are dieting and burning at historic levels.

    Basically the planet has thousands of mechanisms that all work together to attempt to maintain some sort of equilibrium. There will be untold numbers of examples of this occurring like the winds in the pacific stirring up the ocean currents and absorbing more heat thus moderating the heating of the planet for a bit.

    All of these mechanisms when they kick in to extremes have profound negative effects on other elements of the biosphere.

    The point is what we are doing to the planet is pushing these mechanisms to extremes and therefore we will see more and more extremes in climate around the world, aka Climate Change.

    This would be fine if we stopped poking the dragon 20, 50 years or so ago but NOOOooooooo! we ramped it up even further with no end in sight.

    Discovering a new way in which the planet has maintained some form equilibrium thru natural processes is like going to the bedside of a terminal child and talking about how good he is at sports or puzzles and how much potential he has.

    1. Antifa

      All the needles are in the red, ten different alarms shrieking, and smoke coming up through the floor — relax — she’ll fly until she doesn’t. At which point we have a problem.

      1. just me

        I was seeing pine needles that were red, and hearing ten different kinds of trees shrieking an alarm, and smelling smoke coming up from the forest floor, and then I realized…

    2. BondsOfSteel

      Yep. It’s a great info… but warming has increased the range of pine beetles. The northern pine forests are under attack. The authors just discovered yet another negative feedback loop.

      BTW, I agree with almost everything you said, but the part about the planet having thousands of mechanisms that all work together to attempt to maintain some sort of equilibrium. The planet doesn’t care… and the equilibrium is accidental; achieved through entropy of these many systems. It’s like a giant jenga set that we’re haphazardly pulling and placing sticks.

  11. Klassy

    Yellen and weather effect: of course they’re going to back off on the taper. Was there any doubt that they would do so with the slightest hiccup in the economy?
    It puts them in a bind though if you can’t blame forces such as the weather for a tanking economy.

  12. allcoppedout

    I’ve pretty much had it with growth analysis. The tough questions are about the courage and faith to organise a rational democracy. We seen to know now that revolutions that just replace leaders simply default to the same old thing – bad, self-interested leadership control frauds. We need constitutional change and it’s obvious this can’t be national and that ‘growth’ can’t be of the progress, poverty and burning the planet form. Growth analysis requires we ignore rationality whilst foisting its argument on us as objective-disinterested-rational. I’m tired of the trick.

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for posting Josh Brown’s article at The Reformed Broker. Lovely Potemkin Village the Network has built with Fed money.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks for the link, dip.

      … So how does one minimize being exploited?

      Particularly appreciated Roscoe’s focus on one’s development of critical thinking skills.

  14. Murky

    Anybody check out the Moon of Alabama website lately? They’ve put up an ongoing blitz of vitriolic content about Ukraine. They support the recently ousted Yanukovych government as legitimate. They characterize the popular uprising against Yanukovych as ‘fascist’.

    Moon’s target for today is Anne Applebaum, a historian at the London School of Economics. Applebaum has written several volumes on modern Russian and East European history. And though it’s not easy to discredit someone with solid academic credentials, Moon of Alabama is making best effort.

    The article is titled “Anne Appllebam’s Dull Conspiracy Existence”, and Applebaum is described as a, “neocon demagogue”. What the people at Moon are so upset about is Applebaum’s current article in slate magazine.

    Who is more credible? Well, at least Applebaum has written a number of books about the topic on which she voices opinions. The people at Moon of Alabama don’t state their credentials. They haven’t written books. But they’re not at all shy of pasting up aggressive opinions about alleged fascists having taken control of Ukraine. There is plenty of name calling at Moon of Alabama too, along with attempts to discredit anybody they don’t like. Not exactly balanced reporting.

    Meanwhile, almost all of the news media in Russia report the same content about the revolution in Ukraine. The new regime in Ukraine is alleged to be ‘fascist’, and the ousted Yanykovych regime is claimed to be legitimate. And since the Russian goverment controls most media outlets, the ‘opinions’ coming out of Russia are nothing less than a coordinated propaganda campaign. There still are some independent news sources within Russia, for example Echo Moskvy, but these are only minority voices.

    So, where does Moon of Alabama get its content about the new ‘fascist’ regime in Ukraine? Duh, lemme think about that.

    And I wonder why Naked Capitalism has been so willing to link to the Moon of Alabama on almost a daily basis? The content there strikes me as so plainly defamatory to Ukrainians. Personally, I think careeer historians writing and teaching at the university level are a much more reliable source for information about Ukraine. Apart from Anne Applebaum, some other experts on Ukraine include Timothy Snyder, and Taras Kuzio. Google them if you think their academic expertise is worth reading.

    There will be continuing tirades about ‘fascists’ in Ukraine. From Russian media. Filtering into Western news sources. And here at Naked Capitalism. I stand against it.

    1. bob

      Re- Applebaum

      “Thus Applebaum’s book was born. And it has the feeling of a belated, awkward funeral oration by one who didn’t know the deceased very well, but is driven by a deep sense of moral righteousness to perform the proper rites. To her credit, Applebaum knows and admits that the Russians themselves aren’t interested in commemorating the victims of the camps”

    2. Synopticist

      I’m no fan of Putin’s Russia, or MofA for that matter, but stories about fascists in Ukraine are true. It has nothing to do with the Russian media.

      1. Murky

        I’m just sharing links here. The first is a new article by Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. It’s about the current Russian military take-over of Crimea.

        Another article is fresh from The Guardian. It’s also about the Russian armed take-over of Crimea.

        Would love to get your opinion on above content. ‘Balanced’? ‘Biased’?

          1. Murky

            I don’t know you very well bob. But from your posts today you come across as a bigot. You think Ukrainians are fascists. And you make ad hominem comment about me.

            Bigotry defined: “Intolerance of those holding different opinions from oneself.”

            1. bob

              Listen, I may be an asshole, but I’m an equal opportunity asshole. If that was what you meant, I’ll accept the label. Asshole.

              But bigot? That’s like the nuclear button! Please! NO!

              I asked if you were Dick Cheney. Are you? The “murky” moniker and the passive-aggressive neo-con ideology combine to create the same effect as seeing Darth Vader himself.

              One move out of you- deference to authority. It’s an honest question- Are you the authority?

        1. Yves Smith

          I was on a thread of people talking with Mark Ames about his latest article This from a very savvy commentator:

          Mark, I like your take on the Ukraine, and as usual, think you’re spot on. In fact, I was reminded of your article as I was reading all of these reports of Obama warning Putin to lay off Ukraine. Frankly, I’ve always had little sympathy for a lot of these Ukrainian nationalists, as they (like the anti-Russian Baltic nationalists) have very unsavory neo-Nazi antecedents.

          That aside, it strikes me that it’s FAR more ambiguous than our short-sighted parochial press is indicating. The Ukraine is literally down the middle on this one. Russia has legitimate concerns especially given the way we double-crossed them on the Baltics and other parts of the Warsaw Pact when the Berlin Wall came down.

          Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine, and also far more at stake than we have. Try the following thought experiment: would the United States feel concerned if, say, Canada lurched into chaos, its government fell to a mob, and there was real potential for a breakup of the nation whereby one segment of the country might opt for assistance from outside powers like China in a hostile alliance against the US?

          Oh wait, there is a precedent: didn’t the US have a bit of a mini-meltdown on Cuba in 1962?

          1. Murky

            Discussion of ‘fascism’ in Ukraine requires some historical context. In the late 20s and early 30s Stalin coralled all the independent farmers in Ukraine onto large communal farms in the manner of slave labor. Farmers, also known as ‘kulaks’, resisted. Stalin then set up a police cordon around Ukraine and deliberately starved roughly 4 million Ukrainians to death. So when the Nazis invaded during WW2, many Ukrainians greeted them as liberators. Some Ukranians actively collaborated with the Nazis. Ukrainians had only 2 bad choices, between Hitler and Stalin.

            World War 2 was was 70 years ago. And it wasn’t just Ukraine that collaborated with the Nazis. Other European nations that collaborated with the Nazis include Albania, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Croatia and others that I can’t think of at the moment. To condemn any nation or ethnic group for siding with the Nazis 70 years ago strikes me as vindictive overkill. The Japanese and Germans did vastly more horrific things than Ukrainians have ever done, yet it’s only Ukrainians that are now being condemned as irredeemably fascist.

            What is a fascist in today’s world? Beyond the swastica emblem and the words ‘national socialism’, just what is fascist ideology? Totalitarian state? Right wing politics? Militarism? In fact, the word ‘fascist’ today is used primarily in pejorative descriptions of political opponents. It’s a way to tar people you don’t like. At it’s worst, tagging someone as fascist is to make an invidious comparison to the murderous behavior of the Nazi regime in WW2 Germany. And so far, I haven’t seen too many murderous Ukrainian nationalists. But if it’s brutality and murder that makes for classic fascism, then it’s the Yanukovych regime that deserves that appelation.

            All the rant about ‘fascism’ in Ukraine obscures more important issues. Does the newly indepenndent Ukraine have any real shot at setting up democratic institutions? I’d like to be optimistic, but the new cabinet has a lot of people with checkered histories in the old regime. Oligarchs still dominate the economy of Ukraine; they won’t be dissapearing from the scene. Ukraine is nearly bankrupt; things will probably get a lot worse before they get better. If Ukraine take a huge loan from the IMF, a hellish kind of austerity will be imposed. And if US foreign policy succeeds in completely prying loose Ukraine, the maniacs in Washington DC will want NATO in asap, and we can have a WW3 scenario. Anybody see reasons for optimism?

            A professor at Berkeley has proposed an economic program for Ukraine. It’s a little out of my depth, but there are people here who can make fair assessment.


    3. Jeff65

      Who are you and what are your credentials?

      I’ve been reading MoA for over 5 years. The analysis stands on its own – no need for appeals to authority, just like here at NC.

  15. Klar

    Murky, I’ve cut squeak-farts more convincing than that. First of all, you don’t want to send people to B, the most capable open-source intelligence analyst on the internets – you want to distract people from his meticulously-substantiated work.

    Second, the trick of conflating the populace and their regime and yelling defamation of ukrainians, that’s profoundly lame. Not even americans fall for that anymore.

    Russian media sucks less. Putin and his cadre know more about the humanitarian law governing this situation than all anglophone university historians put together. A US/UK academic’s job is making shit up so we can have more wars and death. The honorable exceptions are retired or rusticated in cow colleges.

    1. bob

      Why has telling the truth with well documented facts been relabled muckraking? What label should we use for people we used to call journalist who dictate PR from their paymasters?
      It’s a great story.

    2. JTFaraday

      “Whether Wheeler, Scahill and their colleagues go on to share their concerns publicly will speak volumes about First Look’s much-trumpeted independence, both from Omidyar’s other business interests and from Omidyar’s co-investors in Ukraine: the US government.”

      It would also be nice if Ames scrubbed out his Koch-tarded brain and stopped calling Omidyar “anti-government.”

      1. bob

        You must mean the hypocrisy of pierre calling himself-

        “And part of that interest really led me to government transparency and accountability: how do we explain to a broad audience what government is doing? ”

        And then acting like a closed, despotic state himself, behind the support of his wealth and licksplittle PR lackeys?

        1. bob

          From the same interview-

          ” That’s what really drove me to thinking about people like Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. They are people who are willing to put themselves out there and be transparent about it, not just spouting opinions without any kind of basis. They say, “Look, I know about this stuff. This is how I know about it; here’s what I’ve learned and I’m going to tell you what I think about this.” ”

          So…what do they think about this? SET THEM FREE!!

          1. bob

            This is getting better by the minute.

            Pierre presumably has access to some of the central figures in the ukraine story.

            Why no story?

  16. savedbyirony

    A few days ago, NC posted a link and recommended Adolph Reed’s article, “The Surrender of Americas Liberals” in this months Harpers. Bill Moyers has posted an interview with Reed over on his website and is carrying this discussion to a broader demographic of “liberals” than perhaps regularly reads here. It is quite interesting and in the spirit of trying to build broad coalitions of people to get things done, perhaps helpful info.“the-surrender-of-americas-liberals”/

  17. MikeNY

    Re: All the Free Trade Bashing.

    Serious question: what do people propose as the alternative? That we be *entirely* self-sufficient, and engage in NO international trade? If we had economic justice in the US, (i.e., a living wage, and much more progressive taxation) would people still object to free trade? Is globalization a bad thing even if the economic result is shared equitably?

    This is not about the TPP, which I concur smells more about corporatocracy than free trade. I really want to understand what people think the better way forward is.

    TIA for all serious answers.

    1. different clue

      I wrote about this in a prior thread. Forced Equity of Trade. There is a little webarticle about it at the National Organization for Raw Materials for those who wish to googlesearch and read it.
      There is also the alternative of Straight Protectionism.

  18. psychohistorian

    I believe that any serious effort to change our way forward must be global.

    Capital has for centuries been global and needs to be reined in given that perspective. The global plutocrats that own Capital need to be neutered globally or they will just move their power and control around “to the highest bidder”. Some may say that since they are currently using the US as their agent of empire control that ending American empire is all that is needed. I would counter that by mentioning previous empires…….maybe mankind should end empire for good…..One planet, indivisible.

    To me the Gordian knot is inheritance and accumulation of private ownership of “property”. I believer that effective limits need to be placed on inheritance to neuter that underlying agent of power and control which has been with us for centuries. Those in current control of our society have done nothing, IMO, to deserve the power they wield over the rest of us.

    1. MikeNY

      Thanks for your response. So does that mean you would essentially close trade borders, and eliminate the free movement of capital, to “box in” the capitalists in the US? Since you can’t control the ROW, would you make the US a commercial isolationist?

      Again, not judging. Seeking to understand.

      1. psychohistorian

        I am one of those dreamer types that believes that the 99% globally is not as dumb as we might be led to believe. If we got enough to read David McNally’s book about Zombies and created an army of awakened ones, the world would change.

        To answer your question, no, I am not into isolationism and don’t even believe it is possible.

    2. different clue

      I believe several big internal-market countries could force the change all by themselves if their governments were conquered and occupied by a protectionist public. They could then abrogate or outlaw all the Free Trade Pacts they are currently stuck in, and they could ban the import of anything from countries with lower wages, worse conditions, etc. than themselves. Since the transnational Overclass owns all the the global institutions, one way to weaken that Overclass would be several Protectionist Revolutions In One Country. Of course any Revolutionary Protectionist country would be militarily and economically attacked the way the infant Soviet Union was attacked from 1918-1921 or so.

Comments are closed.