Links 4/16/14

Is that you, Polly? The amazing experiment that proves parrots give their children names Daily Mail

Rancher in land dispute is a bully, not a hero Las Vegas Sun

3 reasons the economy has some spring in its step Fortune

Flash In the Pan: On ‘Flash Boys,’ Michael Lewis’s Baffling New Book Maureen Tkacik, New York Observer (furzy mouse). Look! Over there! High frequency trading! 

Wall Street’s wily front group: Inside story of a rental scheme’s secret facelift David Dayen, Salon

Matt Taibbi: ‘Hands Down’ Bush Was Tougher On Corporate America Than Obama (VIDEO) Talking Points Memo. Democratic house organ feints left for the mid-terms.

Trillion-Dollar Firms Dominating Bonds Prompting Probes Bloomberg

“We are in great danger”: Ex-banker details how mega-banks destroyed America Salon

Intuit Does Subterfuge To Combat Free-Filing Tax Returns TechDirt

NY financial services regulator deepens probe into Credit Suisse FT

Cuomo to be ‘honorary chair’ of pro-charter retreat Capital New York

Defending Kickbacks Baseline Scenario

C.E.O. Pay Goes Up, Up and Away! Times

The lost promise of progressive taxes Reuters

Are ATMs the Right Channel for Serving the Underbanked? American Banker

Cannabis Goes Corporate The American Conservative

Winter Wheat Hit Hard by Widespread Cold Snap AgWeb

Why is Involuntary Part-Time Work Elevated? FEDS Notes

Losing Benefits Isn’t Prodding Unemployed Back to Work FiveThirtyEight. Chattel slavery has its advantages.

Private ownership of public infrastructure… A doom of inequality Angry Bear. “Don’t be caught without cash.”

Study: American policy exclusively reflects desires of the rich; citizens’ groups largely irrelevant Boing Boing

ObamaCare

Insurers see brighter Obamacare skies Politico

Abortion Coverage Details Hard To Find On Marketplace Plans KHN

Morning Plum: On Obamacare, the conversation is changing WaPo. “Conversation” is a favorite word for the Democratic nomenklatura because it implies equality while concealing power relations.

Health IT: The Coming Regulation The Health Care Blog

In Medical Decisions, Dread Is Worse Than Fear The Atlantic

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Accusation of FBI spying stalls 9/11 hearing Miami Herald

New York police end Muslim surveillance program Newsday

School Officials Bully Student into Deleting Recording of Bullying, Threaten him with Felony Wiretapping Photography is Not a Crime

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States The Onion

Ukraine

Ukrainian forces move to dislodge separatists in the east FT

WH backs Ukraine crackdown The Hill

‘We Will Shoot Back’: All Eyes on Russia as Ukraine Begins Offensive in East Der Spiegel

Escalation of conflict in Ukraine puts country on brink of civil war – Putin Voice of Russia

Ukraine leader says Russia wants to set southeast ‘on fire’ Agence France-Presse

How to Save Ukraine Foreign Affairs

Radioactive Waste Is North Dakota’s New Shale Problem Online WSJ

Asian air pollution strengthens Pacific storms BBC

Manipulate Me: The Booming Business in Behavioral Finance Bloomberg

Struggling Dems waiting for Hillary in 2014 Politico

The Warren Brief The New Yorker. A biography. Unlike Obama, Warren’s written just one.

Can You Lie in Politics? Supreme Court Will Decide Roll Call

Why We’re in a New Gilded Age Paul Krugman, NYRB. Piketty.

‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’, by Thomas Piketty Martin Wolf, FT.

Comprehensive Disobedience: Occupying the Sharing Economy in Spain Shareable (diptherio)

Antidote du jour:

huskies_snow

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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.

140 comments

  1. dearieme

    Mr Bundy is guilty of the old crime of purpresture. However unpleasant or frivolous the motives of the Federal Government might be, however hysterical or murderous its reaction may prove (Waco, Ruby Ridge), Bundy is clearly in the wrong.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Whether Bundy is in the “right” or in the “wrong” remains to be seen. This article doesn’t contain one iota of information that informs the reader either way. You can, apparently, hear the dog whistles of “honest taxpayers,” “welfare” and nation of “laws” to prevent “chaos.”

      I don’t hear a thing.

      What Bundy has “clearly” learned is that laws are only for chumps who either can’t or refuse to throw their weight around. As far as I’m concerned, turtles and cows and the BLM are a lot less important than his willingness to push back–hard, harder, hardest.

      When “laws” don’t apply to everyone, they apply to no one. Which makes the concepts of “right” and “wrong” as antiquated as the concept of “purpresture.” Oh, brother.

      1. Cocomaan

        You’re of course referencing the op-ed, where the author said: “A civil society has to have some rules and laws or we would have total chaos.”

        I seem to remember Occupy camps being broken up with similar justifications: that “public land was for everyone, not just you”, therefore squatting wasn’t appropriate and eviction was necessary.

        Ah, here we are, the internet as time machine!
        http://news.yahoo.com/occupy-wall-street-stop-breaking-law-stop-police-222400014.html

        “Laura, a very articulate protester, joined us in the conversation expressing her angst at being, in her words “evicted” from her “home,” referring to Zuccotti Park. I’m sorry Laura, Zuccotti Park is not your home. It is a public park intended to be available to anyone who wants to make use of it and you are trampling on their rights.

        The first amendment has not been trampled on in New York or any other Occupy location that has been vacated. What local law enforcement is doing is enforcing the laws and ordinances of their jurisdiction regarding use of public parks.

        Sharif took great exception to my “end-around” use of local regulations to shut down the movement and called it “hypocritical.” I’m sorry, we have many more rights and freedoms in the United States than anywhere else in the world but we have responsibilities to go with those rights.”

        1. Cocomaan

          I want to further add that it’s a little sad to see Yves posting this link rather uncritically after having the “I SUPPORT OCCUPY” banner up on the corner of her screen for years after the fact.

          1. Ken Nari

            Gee, you mean everyone who supports a political event meant to draw attention to a great crime should therefore approve of a citizen’s confiscation of public land for private profit?

            Now if one of the organizers of Occupy had staked out a section of Central Park and started a logging enterprise…

            Be nice to know how Bundy would take it if someone else decided to partake of the Federal land bounty and also run cattle on “his” government land.

            Fun to remember it was just that kind of range conflict that put a New York boy, Billy the Kid, into business.

            1. Cocomaan

              Now if one of the organizers of Occupy had staked out a section of Central Park and started a logging enterprise…

              So nobody in OWS profited from their activity there? There was no commerce going on in any of the camps? Nobody pitched their book, their company, their non profit? Nobody ended up profiting from the camps at all?

              Nobody tried to start an OWS debit card brand?
              http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/nyregion/coming-soon-an-occupy-wall-street-debit-card.html

                1. Cocomaan

                  It’s really not hard to find stories about people profiteering. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/squeezing-profit-out-of-occupy-wall-street/

                  Plenty of people profiting off the OWS name, it was not all kumbaya in the camps. There’s really no collection of people in history where commerce isn’t occurring. I was there, I was protesting, I remember.

                  It’s not a one to one comparison, but what really is? The Tea Party and OWS weren’t completely analogous, and neither is this (Tea Party actually recently disowned this situation).

                  But it certainly begs questions, but neither Yves nor some readers think any question is warranted at all. See your own misrepresentation of the situation (bundy’s “confiscation”, really?), making it clear you’re not really thinking this through.

                  Naysayers are making it a question of ‘purity’ when it comes to profit motive, which is a pretty silly standard to hold anyone to. I wouldn’t hold OWS to it, and I won’t hold the rancher to it either.

                  1. OIFVet

                    ” Wylie Stecklow, a lawyer representing the protesters, said the Oct. 24 filing was done to prevent profiteering from a movement many say is a protest against corporate greed.”

                    This quote from the article says it all. It’s one thing for outsider opportunists to try to turn a buck off of the movement, its a whole other thing for the movement to engage in profit seeking activities where the profit is the only motivation. I was asking for evidence of the latter and this article does not provide it.

                    1. Cocomaan

                      Was there an audit done of the main branch’s accounts?

                      Heck, Yves wrote a piece on rolling jubilee’s messy accounting.

                    2. OIFVet

                      I remember the piece and it did raise real questions. In any movement you will find shady individuals and subgroups. Still, you are yet to show how OWS used Zucotti Park for a commercial, profit seeking purpose while refusing to pay rent.

          2. OIFVet

            Surely there is a difference between Constitutionally protected right to gather and protest and commercial exploitation of public property while refusing to pay rent.

              1. OIFVet

                Fine let him pay Nevada and have them transfer the money to the feds. My tax bill reminded me just how sick and tired I am of subsidizing jingoistic freedom-loving freeloaders, both human and corporate.

                1. Cocomaan

                  He lost that case. The court decided it was federal land, and that he had to pay the federal government.

                  This seems like civil disobedience to me.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Not to me. Bundy seems to fashion himself a “sovereign” citizen. In that case he has de facto invaded the sovereign territory of the United States, which is a declaration of war. “Sovereign” citizens are funny like that, they don’t want to be taxed by a “foreign” power but are more than content to freeload on its infrastructure, property, and public services.

                    1. Cocomaan

                      I don’t really know much about the sovereign citizen movement, so what I perceive about that movement or his adherence to that movement is not really impacting my judgment of the situation.

                      What he has said is that he doesn’t recognize federal authority, but does recognize Nevada authority. I’m not sure how that jives with a sovereign citizen movement.

                      So, until I really see a manifesto clearly making him out to be an enemy of free people everywhere, I’m going with Civil Disobedience. Remember, Thoreau would have rotten in prison if someone hadn’t paid his taxes for him.

                    2. OIFVet

                      “What he has said is that he doesn’t recognize federal authority, but does recognize Nevada authority.”

                      And he says that knowing full well that no court in its right mind would rule in his favor since to do so would be patently unconstitutional. In effect his strategy is to appeal to extreme elements and present himself some kind of hero when all he is is a craven freeloader, whatever justification his twisted mind has come up to mask it. Really though, do tell how paying the exceedingly tiny grazing fee would take away the “freedom” of Bundy and his Ilk?

                    3. Cocomaan

                      Really though, do tell how paying the exceedingly tiny grazing fee would take away the “freedom” of Bundy and his Ilk?

                      The BLM set aside the land for… a turtle. As much as I am a bleeding heart and an environment lover, this is the same Interior department responsible for the bungling of the Deepwater Horizon spill response. That they are suddenly upset enough to draw weapons over the little tortoises is, frankly, a little silly. The grazing did not endanger the turtle, destruction of its habitat through development endangered it. This is an unnecessary tax on agriculture.

                      I don’t really expect you to agree. I expect more invective against ‘craven freeloaders’ or what have you, and more defense of the hopelessly corrupt DoI.

                    4. OIFVet

                      OMG, this thing is because of turtles? Don’t these turtles know that we humans and Mr. Bundy in particular are entitled to sole (free) use and ownership of the planet’s resources, and to hell with all other species?

                      Got that part. I am still waiting to be enlightened about the hardships and loss of freedom poor overburdened Mr. Bundy experiences under the yoke of a miniscule use fee (for that’s what it is, not a tax). So far the only loss of “freedom” I see concerns his god given freedom to mooch and pass the costs on to me.

            1. Cocomaan

              Ahh, the argument from purity. “If they’re not as pure as me, a non profit seeking person, they don’t deserve a second look.”
              Pretty disappointing coming from you, Lambert.

      2. trish

        purpresture: wrongful intrusion on public lands. Bundy’s been grazing his cattle on public (indeed protected) lands for years, refusing to pay fines…what’s not “in the wrong” about this?
        one can argue that these shouldn’t be public lands, shouldn’t be protected, that Bundy is some legitimate protester and should be able to graze his cattle wherever he pleases, that we need supposed-hero ranchers like him to defend some american myth or another or have cheap beef or whatever, but I think he’s still in the wrong in terms of the law.

        1. Vatch

          For generations, some or many ranchers in the western United States have been subsidized by the government, which allows them to graze their cattle very cheaply on public lands (or for free). Forestry companies have greatly benefited by being allowed to harvest timber from the national forests at bargain prices. Miners also benefited from subsidies or from avoiding the payment of royalties. All of this federal assistance for ranchers, foresters, and miner made the Sagebrush Rebellion seem quite absurd. The ranchers, foresters, and miners receive, in effect, billions in welfare benefits every year from the U.S. federal government.

          1. jrs

            Of course it’s the first thing you think about when you think about Mr Bundy. That he’s not in the right, but aren’t big corporations also exploiting public lands? If an oil pipeline was running through the public lands on whose side would the Feds be on again? I guess that’s what’s meant by: A civil society has to have some rules and laws or we would have total chaos.

      3. Chris S

        What do people think of this “conspiracy theory” and its theorist.
        http://gawker.com/the-astounding-conspiracy-theories-of-wall-street-geniu-1561427624/all

        Since its peripherally a story about Wall Street, I thought I would ask here. Seems kind of plausible to me. Much more so than the “government is here to help you” – at this point, if our species is to survive, we need to basically move beyond that, them and greed-centrism.

        This person basically claims that there was a coup in 1963 and the US is now controlled by a cabal of fascists. One would dismiss it except that when you read it it really does seems quite credible.

        http://gawker.com/the-astounding-conspiracy-theories-of-wall-street-geniu-1561427624/all

        Thoughts?

        1. Jess

          Don’t even have to read the article to know it’s true. When you look at how JFK took concrete actions (and was planning more) that threatened both the MIC and Wall Street, there’s no problem connecting the dots that lead to the Deep State. Add in what’s happened since then, not a lot of other logical explanations.

        2. Rostale

          I have read commentators suggesting that when the economy crashes again, the US deep state is going to have the choice of throwing the financiers under the bus or facing mass protests. If that hypothesis is correct, then it follows that a lot of dirt is going to be unearthed, as the financial class would attempt to undermine the authority of the deep state.

      4. McMike

        For what it’s worth, it is my understanding that Mr. Bundy paid his fees until the government changed the terms of the lease in response to losing the tortoise lawsuit. It was only then that he decided the federal government was illegitimate.

        And, also for what it’s worth, this dispute was in full gear long before Chinese companies were scouting around for solar sites.

        1. Vatch

          Some rules were changed in 1993. It’s unclear to me whether the changes were only to protect the endangered desert tortoise, or if some of the changes were to prevent overgrazing. It would appear that Bundy owes a lot of money to the government. From Wikipedia:

          Some US Government land in Nevada is managed by the BLM, which allows stock grazing in some areas under certain permits and restrictions. Bundy grazed his cattle legally on an area of federal land near Bunkerville prior to 1993, but when grazing rules were changed in the Gold Butte, Nevada area in Clark County, he became locked in legal battles with the US government. Bundy has since accumulated over $1 million of debt in unpaid grazing fees and admitted that he has refused to pay them.

          The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity stated, “Despite having no legal right to do so, cattle from Bundy’s ranch have continued to graze throughout the Gold Butte area, competing with tortoises for food, hindering the ability of plants to recover from extensive wildfires, trampling rare plants, damaging ancient American Indian cultural sites and threatening the safety of recreationists.”

          Rob Mrowka also with the Center for Biological Diversity held the BLM “is allowing a freeloading rancher and armed thugs to seize hundreds of thousands of acres of the people’s land as their own. It’s backing down in the face of threats and posturing of armed sovereignists.”

          Environmentalists held that the BLM’s withdraw[al] (sic) sent the wrong message to law-abiding ranchers that did secure grazing permits and operated within the law.

      5. Peter Pan

        So if there are in effect two sets of laws and pushing back harder (might makes right) is the way to go, then should we stop with the peaceful protests?

        For the next OWS protests, should the participants arm themselves with pistols and rifles and act out like reactionaries, thereby scaring the crap out of the police for fear of bloodshed? Perhaps they should dress as ranchers rather than DFH’s, too (or if we analyze the USA position that armed thugs in Maidan Square are “peaceful protesters”, should they outfit themselves in camouflage, helmets, gas masks, shields, etc.)?

        Actually, I doubt that the government is done with this situation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the government using snipers to kill the offending cows (or maybe even drones). When the rancher submits for damages, the government just applies the repayment against the amount the rancher owes the government.

        1. McMike

          You gotta admit, the contrast between treatment of Occupy and this guy make a pretty compelling case for how the second amendment serves the first amendment.

          It got me wondering what the states were on SWAT/Riot police actions on unarmed versus armed persons. Seems when the target is unarmed, they swoop in on horseback with truncheons, pepper spray, tasers, beanbags, smoke bombs, acoustic weapons, water cannons, and worse.

          But when the target is armed, all of the sudden the cops are willing to back off and negotiate to avoid bloodshed.

          To a point I suppose.

        2. petal

          This reminds me of the situation a few years ago in Plainfield, NH with the Browns. Taxes had not been paid for some time, and the militia-types joined them at their compound in anticipation of a big, armed clash with the feds. The US marshal handling the case took a step back for awhile and then went at things from a different angle. I am wondering if in this case in Nevada, they will let things calm down, and eventually go back in after things fizzle out and all of those folks have gotten bored and headed home.

    2. Cocomaan

      Is he “in the wrong”, or “not acting in line with the law”?

      Those are two very different things.

      1. trish

        that’s fair.

        But I don’t see why supporting occupy means supporting what Bundy is doing…rather a bit different, at least to me. peaceful protest in public areas against gross economic injustice vs rancher grazing his herd of cattle on public protected land, refusing to pay fees, fines to the public…
        or maybe it’s just me, that I don’t see these rogue ranchers (OK, protesters) as heroes, that I don’t see subsidized livestock grazing and the whole environmental impact of subsidized meat production here so we can have vast cheap quantities of beef as a good thing.

        1. Cocomaan

          Beef production is a separate issue, to be fair. Ranching is a very old practice, and it’s not factory farming by any measure.

          I see this as civil disobedience. A tax was levied, he’s refusing to pay it, the feds escalate to guns. He won when the feds showed up with weapons.

          1. Vatch

            Not a tax: this about a rent or a fee owed to the citizens of the United States. If an apartment tenant or a mortgagee of a giant private equity firm’s real estate empire fails to pay his rent or mortgage, the sheriff’s deputies will evict him pronto. But Bundy has been playing this game for more than 20 years, to a tune of a million dollars. Maybe if MERS were handling the “paperwork” for this case, the government would be able to evict him more easily! All it would take would be a few robo-signatures.

          2. 10leggedshadow

            Dude is a free loader plain and simple. If the other ranchers are paying the grazing fees of approximately $1.35 a head and he isn’t, we the taxpayers are subsidizing his profits. He can make more profit selling his cattle for slaughter than ranchers who do pay the grazing fee. This guy is a moocher and a freeloader and no better than the often villianizied SNAP or welfare recipient. And cocomaan is a troll.

      2. hunkerdown

        What’s the difference between a principle and an outcome? And which one is more important?

    3. rjs

      not sure we have the whole story on that….
      Reports: Company Tied to Reid’s Son Wants Land in Bundy Standoff: The Nevada rancher who forced the federal Bureau of Land Management to back down last week may have been targeted because a Chinese solar company with ties to Sen. Harry Reid’s son wants the land for an energy plant, several websites report. A report on Godfatherpolitics.com, says Chinese energy giant ENN Energy Group wants to use federal land as part of its effort to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel-building plant in the southern Nevada desert. Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is representing ENN in their efforts to locate in Nevada. Part of the land ENN wants to use was purchased from Clark County at well below appraised value. Rory Reid is the former Clark County Commission chairman, and he persuaded the commission to sell 9,000 acres of county land to ENN on the promise it would provide jobs for the area, Reuters reported in 2012.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Right, right and right—on you and ohmyheck.

        Bundy: scurrilous scofflaw sucking off the taxpayer and roiling the serfs

        Reid: just doin’ the job the voters elected him to do

        And, according to Harry, Duke of Searchlight, this isn’t “over.” Let’s hope.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “…provide jobs for the area.”

        It’s profitable to use that ruse.

        ‘XXX city in decline. Need more breaks for business…to create jobs.’ Get the report out and let’s do something. These guys are so good at acting, they should be in movies.

        1. hunkerdown

          They said jobs, not pay. It’s your own fault for conflating the two.

          Or something curmudgeonly and right-wing like that.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They will only give you a job if you are passionate about the work.

            Then they will tell you that if you are really passionate about the work, you will want to do it, even without pay.

            It’s a virtuous cycle.

            1. OIFVet

              Don’t forget workaholism as both a prerequisite and a virtue. I love the look of sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated commuters in the morning and the weekend bragging sessions about feats of workaholic endurance as proof of fealty to the corner office slave-drivers.

      3. Paul Tioxon

        So, what is the problem with taking $5billion for a solar energy plant and getting rid of a tax dodging cattle rancher. We don’t need to eat meat, we need solar energy. Get this clown off the land my tax dollars pay for and get the solar energy up and running. What are you worried about, the precious rule of law? Ohhh, today it’s the corrupt politicians are really screwing the little millionaire who is in the way of the billionaire. Boo Hoo, rich people problems. We are forgetting about fracking for just one moment to blah blah blah about a crooked rancher? SOLAR ENERGY … hamburgers? Your choice.

        1. kareninca

          I do not eat meat, and have not for 19 years. But you are completely missing the point. These “Chinese solar plants” are scams; they are a corrupt way of bribing American politicians by way of their family members, in this case Reid’s son. They are not real solar programs that make real economic or environmental sense.

          Do you think it is an accident that they have come up with something so lovely and liberal and benign seeming, as a way of being corrupt? They know that if they say “solar panels” many people will happily accept anything, even a scam, because they don’t want to think that those lovely “environmentalists” are just corrupt scum in more attractive garb.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            So, in the middle of Nevada sagebrush, a clever liberal ploy, a phony, non-existent $5Bil “solar panel” plant is proposed. It will not ever get built. But somehow, Harry Reid’s son’s law firm will make a lot of money on federal land where nothing but grass grows? It’s so corrupt, it just makes me not want to ever vote and say its all so rotten and of course, I am missing the point that you have swallowed a stupid right wing attack on the Black Man in White House because you want to pretend the crooked rancher is just a hard working man who won the West by being a cattle rancher. His family just worked its away across America without anyone’s help, because he is a rugged individual and he just came across this land and just happens to use it for free with no deed or title or license or fee and now the corrupt democratic big shot in DC is pushing the rancher who won the West with hard work off his property?

            Is this an eminent domain case? I am missing what point exactly, that you are a vegetarian, and therefore an expert on land use and federal fees? What is your point? And what point should I just swallow? I thought the corruption involved was the post I responded to about a solar energy plant. So, is there or isn’t there a plant? If there is a plant, good. I want it to be built. If loving solar energy is wrong, I don’t want to be right. For that matter, I don’t want to ever be to the “right”. Get my point?

            1. hunkerdown

              Here’s the usual storyline: Some ostensible businessperson from abroad comes in, engages Reid’s son as “consultant” to help with “government relations”, all parties are being seen doing industrious-looking things from a distance, deal falls through as originally intended (using whatever throwaway explanation is at hand), Reid’s son bills and gets paid. The few hundred grand or so and all the cover activity will be easily repaid with some future tat that just happens to benefit the businessperson. And in the unlikely event it does get built, PV farms have very weak EROEI so the whole enterprise will have on net cost us dearly in treasure and labor, the vast majority of which went to benefit someone else and left the rest of us with much less than we started with. What’s so incredible or inconceivable about business as a cover for “bizniz”? Where’s your imagination?

              1. Paul Tioxon

                Dear Mr Hunker,
                I am from Philadelphia. I was born, and raised and educated there and do not need an imagination, I have the everyday life of politics played out before me everyday. What you are referring to is called Pinstripe Patronage. People get high paying legal or financial consulting work for muni bonds for a convention center or they get the contract to re-decorate the air port terminal being expanded or maybe they get some other huge contract, such as the recently constructed Family Court building which had so many fingers in the pie, that when exposed in the newspapers, and almost $100 million was knocked off the price to build, along with the original builder, it was built anyway, just fine and of course no one was indicted, jailed or resigned. But, when you are the State Supreme Court Justice getting caught pulling all the strings and awarding the pinstripe patronage, and you lost your leg in Viet Nam, no one touches you. So, I don’t need an imagination from the anon sort of indignation that rises up here on NC everytime I don’t join in and saw, yeah, that so and so liberal is a lousy cock sucking lying corrupt pol from the democratic party and look at the poor government being show up as nazi storm troopers! We are still doing fascist police state acrimony here, I can’t always tell, sometimes Stalinist Gulag Cheka terror is invoked. Anyway, Pinstripe Patronage is well known. Mr Reid’s law firm may be on retainer. He gets paid to deal with matters and fix things and arrange things and offers access to influence to the halls of power where favors are granted.

                This is garden variety politics but to you, well, maybe your mind has been blown. I don’t know, but you and I don’t really have to resort to our imaginations, things are quite out in the open these days. Now, regarding the asshole rancher who practices thievery from federal lands. It’s not his land. He can’t be driven off of it or lose it when it is not in his possession at all. And if he owes fees, then they need to be collected. And if he being told to buzz off because the Chinese are building a plant, and the Chinese are paying for the right to do this and they also paying a law firm to arrange all of this, how is exactly that our treasury is being plundered and you naively asked me to dream and divert my attention from the rancher who is in fact taking our treasury and public resources. You and all of the crypto-conservatives and/or pseudo intellectual radicals from what ever position use feeble misdirection instead of asking question to clarify the issue and come to a reasoned conclusion. So far, nepotism from the Reid family does not steal from the public that anyone has presented other than in an ethical analysis. Until there is something material stolen such as the rancher has done, imagination just does not make for anything in reality.

    4. ohmyheck

      Maybe, maybe not. “Senator Harry Reid Behind BLM Land Grab at Bundy Ranch”.

      Harry has a big investment project in solar panel power stations that he wants placed there.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFiosLqjoQQ Starts at 2:58

      (Apologies to skippy in advanced for the outrageous Libtard source :-p)

      1. OIFVet

        Reid is a scumbag. That doesn’t make Bundy a saint. The dude profits off of the public property and refuses to pay rent for his commercial activity on the land that you and I and all of us own.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          So the only profiteering you see here is Bundy’s cows eating YOUR grass?

          I’m guessing you’re also OK with Diane Feinstein’s husband selling off YOUR Post Office properties at below-market value to his developer friends?

          Get a grip. Bundy’s not the enemy. And when you turn on your neighbors, they’ve got you exactly where they want you.

          1. OIFVet

            What a ludicrous question. I am opposed to privatisation, we Chicagoans are paying thru our teeth for parking and roads. Bundy is refusing to pay $3.50 per head for the grazing rights, and I am yet to see a justification from you or anyone else for this freeloading cheapskate’s refusal to pay the damned rent. I would love one I could try on my landlord as a way to refuse to pay rent on the commercial property I rent.

            And no, Bundy is not THE enemy, he is just one of a long list of enemies. Again, the malodorous Reed does not confer rose scent on Bundy.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              I never said that Reid’s corruption exonerates Bundy–that’s classic straw-manning. Just the opposite. Way back at the beginning of this thread I said his rightness or wrongness “remains to be seen.”

              What I have challenged is all the jumping on Bundy as a freeloader. As I understand it, his refusal to pay BLM fees stems from his family’s long-standing agreement with the state of Nevada (to which he did pay fees and which was struck long before the BLM existed,) and his feeling that the takeover of this land by the feds was orchestrated by Rory Reid for far less than the land was worth and to the detriment of the people of Clark County. How his agreement was transferred from state to federal, I have no idea, but that is supposedly the basis for his refusal to pay.

              I say “supposedly,” because I have no way of actually KNOWING, now do I? The Reid clan could clear this up in a hot minute by revealing all the details of what really happened, but they are silent. They prefer to send dogs, thugs with guns and tasers, helicopters and cowboy contractors to confiscate his property and force Bundy into compliance. Why is this necessary if Bundy is so totally in the wrong?

              There is also the small matter that this eradication of local cattlemen has been going on like this over the last two decades, and Bundy is reportedly the last man standing.

              Now I will be the first to take my lumps or eat crow or whatever is required if this turns out to be completely above board. If he’s broken the law, send in the SWAT team, smash down his door and arrest him. Hell, they try to collect student loans like that.

              But, as the Feinstein situation illustrates, and the selling of Chicago too, the peddling of public property by the politically powerful for private profit is not a figment of anyone’s imagination or a “conspiracy theory.” It is right in your face with greater and greater regularity. Try to get in the way, and you’ll get a rubber bullet to the head and plastic handcuffs.

              I’m not telling you that you need to support Bundy or go stand with him. He’s not asking for that either. What I am saying is you, all of us, need to reserve judgement and demand the facts. TPTB are driving a pretty attractive bandwagon past you and begging you to jump on. The devil that you know is so much better than the devil that you don’t know.

              When OWS and Occupy Oakland and all the others tried to take a stand, the country looked away. The dogs, thugs and tasers worked.

              I don’t know what kind of a “vet” you are, but if it is military I’d like to ask you a question. Who would you want covering your back in the struggle that is most certainly coming, Cliven Bundy or Harry Reid? Because, at some point, that is a choice we are all going to have to make.

              1. OIFVet

                I am the kind of vet who will not trust either Bundy or Reid. Trust Bundy and his merry band of brave “freedom” fighters whose bravery consists of hiding behind their women? No thanks. And as for Reid, I don’t trust spineless phonies either.

                I know what you are driving at, and I want no part of an alliance with characters such as these. When the dust settles and in the unlikely event they emerge victorious they will be the ones with the guns. As far as I can tell your only weapon is a keyboard. Granted you are very good with it and I have heard the saying about ideas being more powerful than bullets but that won’t stop the 7.62mm from penetrating the flesh of anyone who is armed only with ideas. And their ideas are quite different from your ideas from what I can see, so you tell me, why should I think of these cowardly loons as my allies? Sorry Katniss but I am not about to jump on the bandwagon hurtling toward a lose-lose scenario.

                1. hunkerdown

                  The most popular world religion is Democracy, the worship of unseen authority and earthly structures with the faith that they will deliver good outcomes if only we sacrifice our agency, our treasure, our livelihoods to them. People who take this religion seriously aren’t usually inclined to, or necessarily even capable of, talking any politics that doesn’t involve Democracy and its institutions of strong, hierarchical, unidirectional authority, loud public prayer, or shiny, captivating beauty pageants.

                  The pen is mighty because of swords, not despite them. A mere corpse with a corpus is no mightier than the worms that consume them. In fact, with no swords to direct, the pen fails pretty reliably. The religion does not make wide note of this because one does not discuss philosophy around the servants.

          2. Vatch

            Poor farmers in India have to pay Monsanto for their seeds, and when they fall into debt, many of them commit suicide. I strongly suspect that the rate that the Bureau of Land Management charges for grazing is a lot lower than what Monsanto charges for their terminator seeds. I have little sympathy for Mr. Bundy. He just wants a free ride.

            I also doubt that ANYONE commenting on this case is happy about the fire sale of U.S. Post Office properties. That’s another example of people getting something for nothing. Kind of like western ranchers.

              1. Vatch

                Yeah, there’s a point. Bundy is acting like a crybaby. The government hasn’t abused him at all. He’s not a victim, but there are other people in the world who are horribly victimized, and there aren’t any gun toting patriots to stand up for them.

          3. hunkerdown

            Why do people think principles must necessarily prevail in battle over even the strongest dedication to an outcome?

            Stories.

            In particular, too much Alger, not enough Steinbeck. Too much Austen, not enough Thoreau. Whitey likes novels of manners because they’re like Spanx for totalitarianism, fitting, flattering and squishing whitey’s grim, overreaching reality into a sleek, infallible just-so belief system that only fails the insufficiently devoted.

            Just say no to prayer in schools!

      2. bob

        This is pure Tea party astroturf. Reid! Turtles! Media!

        Why doesn’t he examine the ownership of the land? It seems that by citing BLM websites, he’s admitting that BLM owns the land. That point seems central to any ‘debate’. It’s not “his” land.

        Corruption? No kidding.

              1. skippy

                Thanks for the guffaw you two… I needed it.

                skippy… My 16 year old girl nailed it in my book… “its embarrassing”.

    5. Eclair

      I’m looking at this debacle as a clear case of “what goes around, comes around.” Or, revenge of the karma, if you tend towards a mystical bent.

      I see this all the time in Colorado, where ranchers (good people, most of them) go on about their love for the land, which they and their families have inhabited and worked on for, oh, the last 100 years. And, if only the federal government would stay out of their way and let them flourish. In a semi-arid land, miles from no-where, where “someone” protects their scarce water rights and builds the roads to get their cattle/wheat to market. And, whose ancestors probably received the land as a “gift” from the federal government; a few dollars and the commitment to live on and work the land for a couple of years.

      And, I am reminded of the adage that behind every property right, lies a case of theft. The ranchers’ ancestors gladly accepted the help of the armed military forces of the federal government to run off and massacre the original inhabitants of Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, and other western states. Which inhabitants, by the way, had lived on this land since “time immemorial.” Not just a paltry 100 years.

      Property “rights?” They belong to the person, or unit with the heaviest fire-power. Or with the money to buy the biggest weapons and the grunts to wield them.

      I sometimes daydream on about an alternate reality, in which all the Occupiers came equipped with heavy weaponry. And, when the police arrived to clear the parks, the call went out (as it did in the case of the Bundys; I saw the FB posts), for armed citizens to respond and get the Occupiers’ backs. Would the police have backed off? Or would they have chanced a massacre of “taxpaying” citizens? Would the stand-off have changed the trajectory of Empire?

    6. Elliot

      Bundy is one of the freeloader class the west is full of; proclaiming loudly how wronged they are by the US government, while clinging mightily to their subsidies, and bawling like babies when freebies stop. I’ll bet he’s one of those license plate guys, who make cardboard license plates that say soverign citizen so they can try to weasel out on highway taxes. At gun shows and freemen type gatherings, there are little seminars in how to file liens against state and county officials (all bunk and with no legal weight) to harass legal officials, this is part and parcel of that scofflaw behavior.

      He was told to get his cattle off the land years and years ago, he didn’t, (and the rent they pay to graze cattle on federal land is extremely cheap by market standards, btw)—– he owes US that money he refused to pay for grazing fees. He is doing the same kind of thing to the US citizen & taxpayer we rightly condemn congressmen and corporations for doing (running out on their obligations and cheating the country)– and it’s embarrassing to see him given a pass because Nevada, because cows. He’s not a yeoman farmer on ‘Gunsmoke’, he’s a con artist.

      he’s definitely no hero, he’s a cheat, and a bully, and I am surprised to see anyone defending him.

    7. johnsoncash

      Right next to blog posts that get pages and pages of comments decrying the depraved sickness of the global food oligopoly (ADM, Monsanto etc) I would expect support for a small entrepreneurial rancher being bullied by the BLM. Factory farms don’t pay grazing fees, heavily subsidized animal cruelty is more profitable.
      This is a corrupt bureaucracy in Washington dictating and taxing land use in Nevada. There is no way whatsoever that this is not a massive abuse of power. Drafting and passing a “law” does not make what they do just. And anyone who reads these pages should also have a good idea about what the Feds think of the “Law”.

      1. bob

        Wow, where do all the concern trolls come from?

        “a small entrepreneurial”…nope. Can’t use the favored “E” word and the legacy defense in the same breath. One or the other. His family has been there forever, OR he’s an “entrepreneur”.

        By the way, with the legacy defense — do all his relatives get free land use?

        “dictating and taxing land use in Nevada.”

        Does the owner of the land have a right to dictate it’s use? Yes or no?

  2. milesc

    FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States The Onion

    ^ Had a chuckle at that one.

    1. ambrit

      The last line of the Onion piece had me wanting to laugh out loud and cry at the same time: “…a spokesman for al-Qaeda…praised the American people as martyrs of the highest order.”
      The Jester tells the truth.

  3. scott

    Perhaps if our 0.1% ers were building things like railroads and chemical and steel plants instead of skimming off 30% of our economy through legalized theft and fraud, people wouldn’t be as upset.

  4. diptherio

    Workers at the Hotel BAUEN in Buenos Aires, Argentina are once again facing eviction orders. The Hotel was abandoned and stripped by it’s former owners during the crisis of 2001. Workers occupied and recuperated the property. Now the court’s want to take away all they’ve worked for…ain’t gonna happen.

    “With dignity we will fight!”: Worker Self-managed Hotel BAUEN Once Again Under Threat ~GEO News

    And here’s some background from the first time the Argentine PTB tried to do this:
    http://www.geo.coop/node/140

  5. Eeyores enigma

    The behavorial finance piece almost goes there but then, as always, stops short and simply lays out all of the symptoms and ignores the cause.

    “…don’t address deeper structural problems…” such as if you are not making money you are dying so you must do absolutely anything it takes to make more. This is the only logical explanation for the worst of behavior that we are seeing and why we can not address it. To do ANYTHING positive reduces the potential to make money. We will never “do the right thing” when profit is the one and only motivating factor and as I said if you are not growing your wealth you are dying.

    I got an idea, lets cut through all the BS analysis of all the symptoms and get to the “deeper structural problems”.

    1. ambrit

      Probably because, for good or ill, he was involved in “business” in one form or another before he fronted for the Coup of ’00. Unlike our present place holder, he recognized the limits of predation. (Kill off too many of the prey beasts and you starve.) Obama just doesn’t give a d–n because he’s never had to humble himself to Daddy to get bailed out of a poor business decision. (Who’s POTUS’ Daddy?)

  6. Eeyores enigma

    A god example of what I talk about wrt No Money= You Die.

    “Why Rich People Feel Poor”
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-15/why-rich-people-feel-poor.html

    There is no such thing as enough and yes greed is good within the structure of the super system that we have put ourselves under.

    The number one truth about money is that without it life gets ugly and you and your loved ones will die in the worst of circumstances.
    The second truth is that money always goes away at an ever increasing rate and for a multitude of reasons.

    Money dominates the majority of human actions around the world and most of those actions, certainly at the top of the heap, is negative and destructive to humanity and the environment.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      So, I’m asking myself why anybody writes this BS. And why is it always a married couple with two children making $450,000 per year and living in New York City who represents “rich” people? And when Obama says he wants to raise taxes on “rich” people, why does he define “rich” as those making $250,000 per year?

      Skirts. The reason is skirts.

      Bloomberg, who owns this sorry publication, is a multi-BILLIONAIRE. Who can relate? But $450,000? That just might be doable. And so Bloomberg, who would be laughed off the planet if he claimed he couldn’t afford to pay more taxes, hides behind the skirts of the hypothetical $450,000 per year New York City family that can’t AFFORD to pay more and doesn’t get much for its tax dollars anyway.

      It’s pitiful, shameless and insidious exploitation.

      This is the same principle used by Walmart when it hides behind the skirts of “small business,” (the real drivers of economic growth and job creation, dontcha’ know) to defeat increases in the minimum wage. A higher minimum wage would blow “Mom and Pop” out of the water, so what’s a behemoth like Walmart to do?

      Just soldier on, seeking that elusive tide that will lift ALL boats, I guess. And taking cover when the real solution gets a little to close to home.

      1. Jess

        I agree. The enemy isn’t the $450K a year couple you describe, it’s the Jamie Dimon’s who have a bad year and only earn $13 MIL for that year.

  7. Banger

    RE: School Officials Bully Student into Deleting Recording of Bullying, Threaten him with Felony Wiretapping

    The police state and fascism starts in middle and high schools in the U.S. As time has gone on, schools have become more authoritarian and draconian in their treatment of students. In the case of this rural PA school system it has reached true farce status. Here a school system is encouraging bullying and further victimizing the victim who they probably have labelled as a “loser” kid. They are expressing the dominant ideology in the U.S. of “winners” and “losers” and losers and the weak should be punished for being weak as U.S. society encourages predators at all levels to prosper and the poor to suffer increasing pain and humiliation each day. This incident mirrors perfectly the basic state of U.S. society–particularly the perversion of “justice” by the police and the courts. We all know what these people was wrong and they knew it was wrong–but they did it anyway. The reason why they did it anyway is an interesting subject.

    1. Charles LeSeau

      I was thinking much the same when I read that piece and looked for answers that made any sense. Sometimes I wonder if the string-pullers are intentionally fomenting mass interpersonal hatred in whatever ways they can.

      The internet seems to me to be rapidly declining into more and more of a war zone too, with all manner of rudeness over the most pathetic and petty things, punctuated by personalities that seem little more than robots spouting out the latest e-cliches. It seems normal for people to call each other idiots over the tiniest points of fact or opinion, and often about things that are completely trivial. For example, yesterday I read some very heated, angry, and mean-spirited arguments over the question of “who is the most badass character in Game of Thrones.” Sad, sad, sad.

      Competition über alles, divide and conquer, atomization, etc… Let’s all be incredibly cruel to each other now. Hooray.

      1. Banger

        I believe it is precisely these negative and selfish attitudes that feed the “dark side of the Force” that is mainly responsible for the wars of the past couple of decades. We complain about the government, the police state and so on but we have to understand that this negativity and urge to kill opponents ultimately comes from us. It is probably more important that we see each other as brothers and sisters than almost anything else we can do in our lives.

        1. Eclair

          Lovely comment, Banger. “Be Kind,” is probably the most underrated admonition in the history of humanity. Although, I find it difficult, some days and towards some people.

    2. Eureka Springs

      Is there a single citizen among us who either did not experience or witness this type of training (constantly) in American schools… whether they attended ten, twenty or fifty years ago?

    3. hunkerdown

      Yes, and we also indoctrinate powerlessness. Do they even teach the labor movement in US history anymore, and if they do, is it any more than a paean to authority?

  8. mk

    “We are in great danger”: Ex-banker details how mega-banks destroyed America Salon
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    where is the app that connects all of a bank’s customers so they can organize themselves to force the too big to fail banks to change? Start with something small, give us better interest rate on savings or we all move our money.

    What good is being well-informed if no action to improve our lot follows?

    1. Skeptic

      “What good is being well-informed if no action to improve our lot follows?”

      The well-informed know when to get outa Dodge. They do something different and arrange their lives in a way to avoid most of the bullets. One principle I have learned: minimize your transactions with the 1% and the governments they control. Start today!

  9. Foppe

    And here’s a good write-up detailing the various ways in which police depts (in this case the Tallahassee PD) and universities (in this case, FSU) work together to lower rape stats, to frustrate and ensure the failure of police investigations, and to let favored employee/students get away with rape. It also includes the appropriate paragraphs on how to persuade victims to “not pursue” perpetrators, etc.

  10. Banger

    Mike Whitney has a masterful understanding of the real strategic situation in the world–why? Because he pays attention and reads. His article can be accessed at Counterpunch

    I quote:

    The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe. That’s what the fracas is really all about. The United States wants to control the flow of energy from East to West, it wants to establish a de facto tollbooth between the continents, it wants to ensure that those deals are transacted in US dollars and recycled into US Treasuries, and it wants to situate itself between the two most prosperous markets of the next century. Anyone who has even the sketchiest knowledge of US foreign policy– particularly as it relates to Washington’s “pivot to Asia”– knows this is so. The US is determined to play a dominant role in Eurasia in the years ahead. Wreaking havoc in Ukraine is a central part of that plan.

    He goes on to say that he believes Putin is not fully aware of this plan which was clearly enunciated by Wolfowitz and is unchanged U.S. policy. For those that don’t understand how security policy works–it remains the same across administrations–there are only slight deviations over time. For example, the neocons of Bush II believed in using massive military force with dramatic “shock and awe” effects in order to scare the world , and they clearly said so in public statements. They wanted the world to believe that the U.S. was irrational and unpredictable and very violent in order to scare the rest of the world into submission.

    I disagree with Whitney about Putin no knowing this policy–I think he does but he has very limited options at this point but to resist, perhaps, in the manner of Kutusov who had to deal with Napoleon’s invincible armies. Putin know the U.S. based Empire has take over Europe and now it wishes to move on to Asia–first Russia then China. I think China also knows this and what they are taking a wait-and-see approach neither supporting Russia nor supporting the Empire.

    We can now only wait and see. The NYT (now a virtual cabinet department) is signaling the start up of revving up the Mighty Wurlitzer including all mainstream media outlets, left, right (all the right-wing organs are now attacking Rand Paul for being anti-war) and center. Much depends on the state of the Ukrainian army–does it really want to be a pawn in the the game that will further impoverish Ukraine so oligarchs in the West can get rich of Ukrainian debt?

    But make no mistake, the U.S. will continue to pursue world domination this is permanent U.S. policy as it emerged out of the 80s. This will not end until the U.S. collapses–it must continue to pursue this policy–without it the whole thing falls apart. We also have to understand that these people (the Deep State) will stop at nothing to pursue their goals. Few people who have not been near it understand the stunning intoxication that power brings–it is profoundly transformative–the Emperor in Star Wars does the best job of understanding the pleasures of the dark side of the Force–Lucas was not kidding–this is serious business.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “I think China also knows this and what they are taking a wait-and-see approach neither supporting Russia nor supporting the Empire.”

      There are probably different factions in China, with some favoring allying with the US and some inclining towards befriending Russia, and that perhaps accounts for the wait and see attitude,

    2. susan the other

      The EZ is slipping away. Russia just OKed Germany to resell some of the natural gas it buys from Russia back to the Ukraine. At the same time Jack Lew forked over 2bn so Ukraine could pay Russia it back gas bill. John McCain said Russia wasn’t a country, it was a gas station. And John Kerry acted concerned and compassionate toward Russia because they are in a weakened position economically – i.e. their energy revenues are down. Belgium is now buying up US treasuries since China stopped; China is buying German bunds and loaning yuan to Russia to develop gas lines to China. We turned our back on the Saudis and refused to go to war against Syria, yet we say we want to sell energy to the EU. We have talked nonsense about Ukraine but we will not provide them with lethal weapons. TAFTA and the TPP are not developing as planned. I don’t think there is a plan. The whole world is fracking and putting more CO2 into the atmosphere even before we can burn the gas, while the big oil producers are going broke from too little demand. And then there is a no-growth world bringing down every currency to worthlessness. By design. Because everyone knows capitalism is an economic model based on growth.

      1. Banger

        You are right. Most of the fighting is going on in the imperial court as I’ve mentioned many times. The alliance that surround the neoconservatives, however, has the media in the US and the Euro vassal states rallying around them. This group is trying to create facts on the ground that will force more moderate and realist factions to move away from their positions. Should be interesting. You can see the back and forth in the media. Today or yesterday the NYT the main commissars of the media took a strong stance in favor of the neocons whereas CNN has been trying to avoid the issue.

    3. Murky

      Russia’s views about Ukraine are well represented in an interview with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. The link may be slow; be patient.
      http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/0/FD8AF549D728FB9844257CBB002BEDD4

      American views about Ukraine are well represented in an article about Russian propaganda in the New York Times.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/world/europe/russia-is-quick-to-bend-truth-about-ukraine.html?hpw&rref=world&_r=0

      Ukrainian views about Ukraine are well represented in a debate among Ukrainian scholars, which took place at the London School of Economics.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eHyDfjabTM

      Me? I’m trying to figure out how not to take sides in this conflict.

      1. Banger

        It’s not an issue of taking sides. It’s a question of understanding what the impetus of the conflict is about. What is the interest of the US in Ukraine, a country pretty far away? What is the history and intention of U.S. foreign policy in the region and elsewhere? The same question can be asked about Russia except Ukraine is on the border and the country, formerly a constitutional democracy that has recently experienced a Western supported overthrow of that government through violent rather than constitutional means that were fully available but not even attempted.

          1. OIFVet

            Would you trust armed neo-nazis to hold a fair trial? I would expect his faith to have closely resembled that of the Ceausescus: “tried” by gun toting men in front of a “jury” of gun-toting men and then summarily executed.

            1. Vatch

              I’m sure the Berkut special police would have protected him. There were plenty of armed men at President Yanukovych’s disposal.

              1. OIFVet

                There were plenty of armed men available to protect Nikolae and Elena yet they still ended up against the wall. Eastern European do things differently Vatch. It’s not to say that it is better or worst, just different.

                1. Vatch

                  Okay. But Banger’s statement that there was no attempt at using constitutional means is still incorrect. There was an attempt at impeachment, but events moved quickly, and the attempt was either dropped, or wasn’t considered relevant any more.

                  1. OIFVet

                    I will take your word on it Vatch. I don’t have the time to check it in detail right now, but my understanding was that the “impeachment” was carried out after he fled in fear of his life and was not constitutional as the Rada did not attain quorum. I might be wrong, I will check on the timeline when I have a bit more time to do a thorough job of it..

                    1. Vatch

                      An attempt at an impeachment isn’t necessarily the same as impeachment. They never actually impeached him. There were certainly procedural irregularities.

                  2. Banger

                    It was the fascists and their Western backers that short circuited the impeachment. Nuland was running the show, not the Ukrainians.

  11. Keith Howard

    Here in Colorado we have just had the announcement of a PPP for US36 between Denver and Boulder. The tolls, which will raise the revenue, immediately raised some considerable outrage, but nobody asked the question I’ve been mulling over: What is the actual price Colorado people will pay — whether in tolls, fees, taxes lost to the Treasury, etc. — over the life of the 50-year concessionaire agreement? I think this would be called Long Range Cost Accounting (LRCA,) and I suspect that the amount of $ exported from Colorado (by the private partner) will turn out to be enough to build the project several times over. I know that LRCA is complex and difficult, but shouldn’t the question be asked? Is this a dumb question?

    1. McMike

      I don’t have it in front of me, but I recall hearing that the contract – which they tried to sneak through without public review – includes the usual guaranteed profit clauses, such as if the road is shut down for any reason, the public has to pay the contractor compensation for lost revenue.

      Privatize the upside, socialize the downside.

      I can’t help but notice that the taxpayers have spent a bazillion recently to upgrade and expand the road. How nice of us to hand it over in perfect shape.

  12. diptherio

    Re: Taibbi on Bush and Obama’s white-collar crime records–

    But, but…

    Bernie Marcus, who helped found [Home Depot], said in 2011 that many CEOs opted against criticizing Obama out of fear of retribution.

    “They are frightened to death — frightened that they will have the IRS or SEC on them,” Marcus said. “In my 50 years in business, I have never seen executives of major companies who were more intimidated by an administration.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/billionaire-dissidents-obamas-america

    Gee…I wonder who’s telling the truth?

    1. Banger

      Both could be telling the truth. Obama has “his” corporations, i.e., financial institutions which he gives a free pass to do whatever they want and others he may be hard on. This is exactly how urban PDs treat criminals–they have their favorite drug dealers that they take favors from and those that are not part of the club who they crack down on with. lots of publicity to fool the public.

  13. Carolinian

    Good link from Las Vegas Sun. See Edward Abbey on how ranchers have brought environmental havoc to parts of the West. Arizona, for example, was once covered with large tracts of grassland.

    But the “do as I say not as I do” attitude toward government spending is not confined to the West. For many years I lived in Newt Gingrich’s Cobb County suburb of Atlanta. This was certainly the most rightwing county in Atlanta, perhaps in Georgia. It was also–not coincidentally?–the U.S. county that received the most Federal spending per capita for taxes paid. A large airbase and Lockheed factory accounted for this.

    But if one were to pick the region that receives the greatest Federal subsidy it would undoubtedly be the West. As with Cobb they are also the ones doing the most complaining. Reasonable people should scoff.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe not the lesser 3 branches.

        I am a big fan of the 4th branch of government – the people.

        1. McMike

          I thought the media was the fourth branch.

          The people are the roots and the constitution is the trunk.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I was thinking of the government as a Banyan tree with aerial roots (that look like branches).

            So, the people are both roots and the 4th (collectively) branch.

  14. rich

    The US is an oligarchy, study concludes

    Report by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern universities suggests that US political system serves special interest organisations, instead of voters

    The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded.

    The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system.

    The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

    Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favour special interests and lobbying oragnisations: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose…”

      And when the elites lose, they always get a second chance.

      The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was rejected the first time. So, naturally, they voted a second time.

      In Ireland, voting again after having rejected it the previous year, they approved the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, for another example.

      You can say the elites get a third chance on many other occasions, because the apparent vote or election was usually timed to favor the desired outcome. That selection of the most auspicious time was the first vote.

      On the other hand, whatever the people want, when in conflict with the elites, the people either do not get a vote or get to vote one time, when lucky.

    2. McMike

      “The US is an oligarchy, study concludes ”

      I’m sorry, I just love that headline: “this just in, after intensive research, scientists have determined that water is wet.”

      1. James Levy

        Not exactly. The unspeakable has been spoken. The court eunuchs at Princeton have sifted through the numerical entrails and for once spoken the truth. They have succumbed to their methodology and proclaimed a spade a spade. This is actually real news.

        1. Ruben

          If you examine the main author’s work you wouldn’t refer to him as an court eunuch, or as if he could not help but tell the truth.
          http://scholar.princeton.edu/mgilens/
          But your are right in another sense, this is real news. When science takes sides then propaganda loses ground significantly.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Occupying the sharing economy in Spain.

    In Morocco, they have communal bakeries where people can take their loaves made at home to public ovens to be baked.

    ‘We can start sharing in many places.’

    Today communal bakeries, tomorrow, GDP sharing and more.

  16. rich

    Heinz Offers Buyout To All Local Employees, Prompting Concerns About Future Here

    PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Nothing says Pittsburgh like HJ Heinz, but the company’s new Brazilian owners – 3G Capital — have replaced the company’s management team with primarily Brazilians.

    Now KDKA-TV has learned that a voluntary resignation package has been offered to every Pittsburgh-based employee.

    In a memo to 775 employees, Heinz noted, “We understand our new culture may not be for everyone.”

    “We want to make sure that every employee feels truly invested in the culture and our business plan.”

    Sources say the severance — which must be accepted by April 21 — offers a minimum of six-months pay to quit.

    Point Park University business professor Dr. Elaine Luther sees a power shift at Heinz.

    “When you do something like this, you’re really saying we’re shifting the power from the employees to management, and it almost sounds like a veiled threat,” says Luther.

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/04/14/heinz-offers-buyout-to-all-local-employees-prompting-concerns-about-future-here/

    ah…the business plan???….the sly one gets a foreign partner to front his dirty deeds….smile.

    Buffett’s 9% Heinz Dividend Means 3G Cutting Jobs, Mini-Fridges
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-18/buffett-s-9-heinz-dividend-means-3g-cutting-jobs-mini-fridges.html

  17. susan the other

    Krugman on Picketty. Why doesn’t anybody write about the 800# gorilla? Why are we all pretending it is economics as usual? Global warming will usher in a new economics. If we can look at growth as acceleration, it will be just the opposite. The wealth that is salvaged will have to be evenly distributed because there will be so few jobs. Where’s that analysis?

    1. James Levy

      I think you are right but given the awful track record of economists predicting things I think it is best if they just report on past events and leave future trends to others less compromised to discuss. If they will just honestly report that which has happened, I would be grateful.

  18. susan the other

    And on parrots’ language in the wild. They are given names and they converse with each other. What amazes me is that altho’ there is enough research on animal language now to say that all animals use language, we still conclude it is an anomaly among only a few animals. I’m looking forward to the first researcher who breaks thru the academic repression and says, Yes, language is ubiquitous across all life forms, including plants.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if each human infant has his/her unique ‘service call?’

      Do all baby cries sound the same?

      Is his/her unique ‘service call’ genetically wired or socially acquired?

      1. hunkerdown

        A baby is the product of nine months of furious cell division in a chaotic environment. Variations in such as anatomy and muscle tone between people tend to produce subtle though consistent and recognizable variations in the timbre of infant cries as they do the speaking voices that follow.

        Also, I downloaded a software synthesizer to make my own notification tone for my phone so I could be pretty sure no one else produces that sound.

        So it’s the adult who hears the rich subtleties in “that sound” and associates it with “my baby”.

    2. OIFVet

      You will be waiting for quite a while yet Susan. If scientific consensus is reached that other species use languages and even have dialects within their languages then human claims to uniqueness will be destroyed. And with it the justification for our claim to exclusive use (“stewardship” in Orwell-speak) of the planet’s resources and the associated genocide of other species. TPTB won’t allow that.

  19. nobody

    The “rancher…is a bully, not a hero” article is ten days old. A lot can change in ten days, and a lot has.

  20. OIFVet

    NYTimes headline: ” Ukraine’s Push East Falters as Militants Seize Army Vehicles”
    Rest of the world reports: ” Ukrainian soldiers are switching sides, flying Russian flag”

    As if it is so easy to hijack armed APCs with armed crews. NYTimes must take all of us for fools. The Ukrainian army units sent by the Kiev clown show to fight the “terrorists” are deserting en masse rather than fight a neocon-instigated civil war. Good on them, hopefully this madness will end soon since only the Russian and Western elites would win from it while the masses will be the ones to suffer and die. The Times obviously can’t accept the possibility that our man Yats can declare a civil war and no one will show up to fight it. Good on you soldiers and protestors!

    1. James Levy

      It’s stunning. The police and security forces won’t move and the army troops seem to have deserted or turned away from a confrontation. But we are to believe that the Ukrainians are all behind their “revolution” and a four-square against those evil Russians. We’ve past to point of straining credulity to outright invention.

  21. Hugh

    Re the Fed Notes post on part time employment. Part timers account for 17.7% of the labor force. Full time work is defined as 34+ hours per week, not the 40 hour work week many of us think. Part time is 1-34 hours per week. The distinction between part time for economic (involuntary) and non-economic (voluntary) reasons is to be it mildly, blurred. I don’t think it is especially voluntary if you can’t work full time because you can’t afford daycare or if you are trying to make ends meet on a low Social Security payout.

    For me the Bundy case is that of another kleptocrat raiding the commons. His is a multi-million dollar operation. He is not some small family farmer. Indeed the small family farmer is largely a myth. If memory serves a majority of agricultural land is controlled by large agri-businesses. And then there are individuals running large family operations. I would be surprised if the number of farmers with operations under $1 million were more than a few hundred thousand. If anyone has more information on this, I would like to see it.

    The problem with Piketty is that he doesn’t address the issues of kleptocracy and class war. This allows apologists of capitalism like Krugman to argue ridculously that wealth inequality is primarily driven by wages and not rents. Go tell that to the Walton heirs. In fact, both are just slightly different forms of looting, and the incomes of CEOs stripping their companies are turned into rent-extracting capital. So who, besides Krugman, really cares about the distinction he is making?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      34 hours versus 40 hours…

      Like everything else, such as unemployment or inflation, by (just) changing definitions, we can make this a better world already.

      And if it’s not already a better world, Horatio, the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves, for not changing more definitions fast enough.

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