Links 5/25/14

Posted on by

100-year-old beggar celebrated as living saint in Bulgaria Agence France-Press

Mt. Gox founder helps (briefly) tank another crypto-currency Pando

Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream Of A Silicon Reich Baffler (Barry Ritholtz). OMG, some people are taking Moldbug seriously? I looked at some of his stuff years ago and concluded the pretentiousness to content ratio was seriously out of line (aside from not being too keen about where most of his arguments led….)

German Court Rules That You Can’t Keep Compromising Photos After a Break-Up Slashdot

Nascent El Nino threatens to leave some Asian economies parched Nikkei

China clamps down on US consulting groups Financial Times

Chinese fighters fly close to SDF planes above E. China Sea Nikkei

France and Europe: Shocks Ahead Economist

Fatal shooting at Jewish Museum in Brussels Financial Times

Voters do walk of shame Daily Mash


Ukrainians vote for new president BBC

Ukraine vote could highlight a generational divide Washington Post

Putin Plays Down Cold War Threat as Ukraine Tensions Rise Bloomberg

The Russia China Axis continues to form Ian Welsh

Ukraine: Major “Western” Think Tank Admits Defeat Moon of Alabama

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘Smart pills’: A revolution in medicine, or a troubling invasion of privacy? Washington Post

The NSA is capturing nearly every phone call in Afghanistan, WikiLeaks claim NSA

The year of living more dangerously: Obama’s drone speech was a sham Guardian

VA says more veterans may use private medical services Los Angeles Times

Which Working Families Party? Jacobin

Are Mortgage Credit Conditions “Tight”? Michael Shedlock

U.S. Retailers Missing Estimates by Most in 13 Years Bloomberg

Buying Insurance Against Climate Change Robert Shiller, New York Times. Lordie, this is what traders call “wrong way risk” that if the insured-against event comes to pass, there will be so much other Bad Stuff going on that the insurers will be unable to pay out. Credit default swaps written against subprime debt was a classic example.

FT v. Piketty

My view on Piketty’s critique by the FT Branko Milanovic (larry)

Is Piketty All Wrong? Paul Krugman

Stress Test: The Indictment of Timothy Geithner Dean Baker, Firedoglake

Class Warfare

Sheryl Sandberg and Harvard’s Housekeepers Jacobin

The Economics of Contempt CounterPunch

5 Alarming Facts About the Racial Wealth Gap Alternet

A Point of View: Happiness and disability BBC

Antidote du jour. This is OIFVet’s Eva:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Ben Johannson

    The impression one gets from these Moldbug, tech worshipping, reactionary sorts is that they live in rage at being denied the emotional intimacy that comes with being breastfed as infants, “I hate you mommy” sort of stuff.

    As for a tech secession movement, do these people really think the CEOs they lionize would forgo the vast subsidies they receive from Uncle Sam?

    1. ambrit

      Mr. Johannson;
      The last Secession Movement I can think of happened in Austria Hungary, just before the First World War. It was pushed by the avant guard of its’ day also.
      As for developmental rage, well, they do suckle at the public teat, don’t they? I may be wrong, but don’t the breast deprived hate both Mommy and the evil Daddy who stole her love away? I don’t know, there are so many sub cults among the psychology witch doctor pantheons.

  2. ambrit

    The China Japan aerial chicken is a bad sign. Remember when a Chinese fighter jet actually hit an American surveillance plane over the South China Sea? The jet pilot became one of the ‘honoured dead’ in China. The American plane had to land on Chinas’ Hainan Island, with the crew scrambling to destroy or dump every ‘secret’ or ‘sensitive’ document and piece of equipment. Given that this was a top secret spy plane, that must have been some busy crew.
    The Chinese love to play chicken on the high seas, so I’m informed, did the old Soviets. But, coming within 100 feet of an aircraft doing 500 knots is just plain nuts. I’m wondering of the Generals in China are hoping for a mid air collision to use as a casus belli? Wars have started over less.
    That cat! What a subtle way of saying “take me for a walk.”

    1. Banger

      I don’t think China has any interest in going to war with Japan. What such actions accomplish is send signals to the Japanese elite that they must choose between being part of Asia or being part of the U.S.-based Empire. I don’t think China demands that Japan be a conquered nation only to defer to China in world-strategic matters just as Japan has done since WWII to the U.S. China, quite logically, wants to be surrounded by friendly states who defer to the Middle Kingdom. China will not go to war but will skirmish and that’s the message–do the Japanese oligarchs want to experience humiliating skirmishes which they cannot in any way hope to win? The U.S. for all its endless bluster will not help them at this point fresh from humiliations in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and so on.

      1. abynormal

        there are ‘signals’ and then there are ‘SignalS’
        “A Vietnamese woman belonging to an outlawed Buddhist movement died Friday after setting herself on fire in protest against China’s actions in a territorial dispute with Vietnam, according to activists and local media.”

        **obviously the water ain’t warm enough till we jump in…**
        In Beijing early last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Chinese counterpart exchanged stern warnings over the escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

        Wagging his finger, Hagel told Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan that China doesn’t have the right to unilaterally establish an air defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea with no consultation. In turn, Wanquan told Hagel that China is prepared to use its military if needed to safeguard its territory.

        Both men talked about increased communication and cooperation between China and the U.S. They said they hope to establish a secure teleconference system by this fall so that the two military leaders can communicate more easily. And they said China and the U.S. are exploring the idea of conducting joint military exercises in a third country. They did not say where.

        1. Banger

          The Chinese authorities, rightly, take the lead of the U.S. and declare to smaller states: “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.” U.S. Policy makers decided that international law should be used as toilet paper so now Hegel and others have to live with the consequences. As I’ve been saying for years international law is made by those who have the military and political power to enforce it.

    2. Optimader

      …The Chinese love to play chicken on the high seas, so I’m informed, did the old Soviets. But, coming within 100 feet of an aircraft doing 500 knots is …

      Lack of depth or maturity in the chain of command. The Russians are still like that, the envelope of whats operationally acceptable is wider w/ regard to this kinda stuff. An example of that is their propensity to more regularly auger stuff in at airshows.

  3. ambrit

    Re the weak retail figures; if you read to the end, it states that retail profit grew or fell at such and such percent. There is the big underlying assumption staring you in the face. The retailers are judged by net profit, not sales volume or underlying values, like physical plant etc. Just another enabling metric for the short termism destroying “modern” business.

  4. diptherio

    One of the things that drove me out of political organizing in the early aughties was the realization that pratically no one who works in politics actually believes in democracy. NO ONE. What political operatives DO believe in is using the political system to get their preferred policies implemented.

    Leaders of the healthcare workers union 1199SEIU, one of the most powerful and historically progressive unions in New York, have been pleading the governor’s case from within. Some writers have suggested that the governor may pressure unions to leave the party — and take their resources with them — if the WFP’s State Committee is foolish enough to refuse Cuomo its ballot line and run an independent candidate instead.

    Kevin Finnegan, 1199’s political director and for many years the WFP’s lawyer, summed up labor’s reasoning to the Times: “Our goal was to push Democrats to the left. I think we have been successful in that. The governor is going to win, and why not use this opportunity to develop a better relationship with him?”

    The union has contracts with hospitals that serve large numbers of poor New Yorkers; its members’ wages are therefore paid in significant part by Medicaid dollars, allocation of which is controlled by New York State. The union’s leadership fears that Cuomo will use this channel to seek retribution if they chart their own course. [snip]

    Andrew Cuomo has delivered for 1199, and he apparently wields a credible threat to deliver less if the union does not toe the line. Cuomo, meanwhile, apparently cares enough about the WFP’s decision that regardless of the fact that 1199 will endorse him, and that it will vote for his endorsement within the WFP, he may nevertheless hold the union responsible for failing to prevent the WFP from running against him.

    So 1199’s leadership is not interested in the democratic process as such, i.e. it is not interested in giving people a choice of candidates, which is a prerequisite for any democratic system worthy of the name. No, they’d rather suck up to Cuomo (who is apparently a vindictive POS who also has no use for democracy) in order to better position themselves to manipulate policy. That I approve of the policy proposals they offer, does nothing to offset the larger problem–they don’t care about democracy.

    Like pretty much every political operative, 1199’s leaders believe that their cause is just, and therefore whatever they need to do to implement that cause is also justified. The ends justify the means; the democratic process is only there to be manipulated to serve one’s goals and has no validity in and of itself, in so far as it fails to operate according to one’s own wishes. Left, Right, Center–everyone thinks like this…and I can’t stand it.

    The people, who are supposedly sovereign, are like a flock of sheep; the political combatants like two competing shepherds–each trying to drive as many sheep as possible into his own corral. This is not democracy. Democracy is the “sheep” themselves deciding where to go and what to do–and whether or not they want to enter ANY corral at all.

    But political operatives don’t think that sheep can be trusted to think for themselves, they must not be given options. They must be led by the political shepherd into to proper corral. The political operative is there to tell the sheep where to go, not to help them figure out where they want to go. Where the sheep want to go is immaterial. Where the shepherd wants the sheep to go is what really matters.

    And if some of the shepherds suggest that maybe the sheep should have some say over where they’re going, they are accused of idealism and of being un-realistic.

    And in any actually democratic system, a leader who threatened to harm groups or individuals (financially or otherwise) who engaged in the political process in an independent way would be run out of office. Use of state power to injure political “enemies” is something kings and dictators do, but we are told to just accept that our elected representatives will act like dictators and to just play along with them. The fact that Cuomo would use state power to retaliate against a group of people for running a candidate should be grounds enough for NO ONE to every vote for him again. You really want that kind of a$$hole in office?

    I’ll end this rant here, even though I could go on for days…f#@%ing politics…

    1. Paul Tioxon

      One of the lessons of successful organizing that can lead to influence of policy and candidate selection is not to organize politically during times of obstacles to entry into elected office but to organize small, useful businesses in the community. For example, the entire CDC legislation allowed Community Development Corporations to develop housing, start food coops, gardens, solar energy installation services, small corner retain stores, business services with faxes, computers, auto tag services, pass port photos, anything that is useful, and can be begin to raise cash and employ people. Junk removal and thrift shop operations work hand in hand. Enough people organized into an area via businesses connected to a politically active CDC can promote voter registration and clout.

      The Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance

      Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations

      Going head to head against the already well organized pols who understand basic voter attitudes does lead to a lot failure, frustration and burn out. Cycling in and out at opportune times while in the background building a base with various alternative institutions, CDCs, may be the only way for small cadres of politically willing but minimum election day impact groups to move forward.

      DSOC, The Democrat Socialist Organizing Committee was the a result of the remaining Norman Thomas Socialists, lead by Michael Harrington, author of “Thje Other America”. Among the various tactics, entering into the Democratic Party as a Socialist organizing group would attempt to pull the Democrats further to the left, forcing more conservatives out and forging stronger ties to the working class Americans by appealing to their needs directly. LBJ pushed the Dems to the Left with Great Society legislation, but this impacted primarily Black citizens, and poor Black citizens, and other out of sight our of mind poor people, leaving the already tended to White New Deal recipients wondering what was in it for them? The blame for inequality based on race and the bottom rungs of impoverished society seemed to be placed more on the individual backs of taxpaying blue collar workers, lower middle class public servants and modestly affluent upper middle class.

      Their taxes were being transferred, in their minds to help a Great Society be built that had no apparent benefit to them. Crime, lousy urban schools and housing stock was not improving with giving the poor a Head Start and other government programs. While the poor were getting more welfare, the working people who tended to see themselves more and more as middle class, whether blue or white collar due increasing wages and consumer goods equalizing lifestyles with the same status objects of nicer cars, air conditioned homes, back yard pools, became resentful of taxes being wasted, wasted because there was no direct line from their tax bill to some useful benefit themselves. It would have been an opportune time for single payer national health care or universal free education from pre school to university, private or public. Something, anything that the aspirational middle class could point to that joined them with poor in moving up. For the poor to move up in status paid for by the government without a tangible benefit for them as well was unacceptable, unfair, reverse discrimination!

      1. abynormal

        Golden Paul, Thanks! i need this for a position im building towards. my kid (21) and her boyfriend are looking to expat out of here. i completely understand their young position(s)…one of which is ‘they aren’t breaking laws staying here but law(s) are breaking them’. her boyfriend has worked under missionary blankets in asia and admits he was vulnerable (mostly due to language barriers). the kids want me to join them and i turn it over in my pea brain but my gut screams ‘Stay And Fight…there are more of us than them!’

      2. diptherio

        I’ve come to the same conclusion, re useful ways to engage in politics. I’ve been fortunate to come into contact with people in the Co-op movement who have been doing this work for decades (and fortunate to find ways to make myself useful to the movement).

        What we need is empowerment, which is psychological. Cooperative enterprises and mutual-aid efforts of all varieties help create this attitude of empowerment, by showing people that they do not have to rely on unaccountable systems and institutions (whether public or private) to provide for their needs. They can create their own systems and institutions that are accountable and that they control. They put the lie to TINA, which is why they are actively combated by TPTB. Cooperation is dangerous (to the status quo).

    2. tiebie66

      Unfortunately, the sheep can only be trusted to make good decisions when they have exhausted all means of entertainment. I’m fast becoming cynical having seen how difficult it is to get the sheep to pay any attention to oncoming trains. We have at least two problems: predators of sheep and sheep unwilling to stand guard or being roused into action by the guardsman’s call.

      1. Glenn Condell

        ‘Unfortunately, the sheep can only be trusted to make good decisions when they have exhausted all means of entertainment.’

        I can’t see how ‘sheep’ would make better ‘decisions’ sans enter/tech. Presumably they’d be less distracted? Also, you seem to infer that it is possible for any/all of them to actually run out of the stuff, which is in the US (or anywhere really nowadays) simply impossible. The ‘entertainment’ never ends, ergo eternally distracted sheep. 2+2.

        But my real issue is – what evidence is there that better ‘decisions’ are actually possible, entertainment overload or not? What ‘decisions’, apart from opting to plump for GOT over Mad Men, or Pepsi over Coke, do these consumer sheep have? Vote Democrat perhaps? Nah, tried that, no good, now I’ll vote GOP, err no, what now? … what is the scope of their field of decision? Do they really have one? Isn’t the palette limited to just grey – black? Are they free enough to fashion their own political reality, individual or collective?

        Of course they could all just rise up and become an instant plurality of neo-Tom Paines, writing pamphlets and inspiring followers, challenging the status quo like heroes of yore. But how many of them would even know who Tom Paine was? Note, that’s no criticism, they should know, but the fact they don’t is not their fault… a feature not a bug. Revolutions are pretty hard under any circumstances, but sui generis is a big ask… particularly for sheep.

        ‘I’m fast becoming cynical having seen how difficult it is to get the sheep to pay any attention to oncoming trains.’

        Oh I think most of them hear the train a-comin’. In fact I think the wolves are more likely not to hear the warning bells, cocooned in the wool they’ve shorn from the sheep. But what good is paying attention? You still get flattened by the train… you’re probably better off in blissful ignorance, you won’t know what hit you. People (or sheeple) know this instinctively and behave accordingly, and they know even better that sheep who get out in front and try to derail the train get hit first and hardest. Best to be part of the pack, preferably at the rear.

        ‘We have at least two problems: predators of sheep and sheep unwilling to stand guard or being roused into action by the guardsman’s call’

        We have always had predators, and given the chance sometimes us sheep morph into them, or at least into that penumbra of elite-enabling prosperity that provides a buffer of privilege against the proletariat… that siren culls many of the clever sheep (as guardsmen!) and as you indicate most of the rest can be subdued with a little bread and a lot of circus. The blackest sheep, if not neutered by some combination the political, economic and media apparatus of the corporate state, can always be dealt with by the ‘law-enforcement’ and ‘homeland security’ wings.

        So, what’s a sheep to do? Perhaps the average sheep is cluey enough to know that they maximise their chance of shepherding their family into the future, however imperfectly but at least alive, by blending into the herd, not hearing anything, or at last pretending not to.

      2. Lambert Strether

        Man, I hate that “people are sheep” trope. So disempowering. Maybe people don’t want to be led by other people who think they’re sheep, and say so loudly.

        1. ambrit

          I agree, but have to admit that I’ve personally paid the price for standing up for my “rights.” (I’m usually a coward, but occasionally I get filled with that good old “Righteous Indignation.” I would posit this blind faith angle as a big reason why so many of the modern periods reform movements are tied closely to religious people, like the Abolitionists, Gandhi, etc.) Unfortunately, most people are, if not sheep, then, asleep. Our job is to wake them up.

    3. Trinity River

      “One of the things that drove me out of political organizing in the early aughties was the realization that pratically no one who works in politics actually believes in democracy. NO ONE. What political operatives DO believe in is using the political system to get their preferred policies implemented. ”
      This is analogous to my realization that corporations do not want free enterprise or competition. Their goal is always monopoly or at least majority market share. So w/o governmental regulation there is no competition. Reagan was on their side, so we have very little competition now. Do we still think we have free enterprise?

    4. Paul P

      In 1998, Dennis Rivera, then President of 1199, merged 1199 with SEIU. Soon thereafter, he announced a policy of working to improve the salary and conditions of his members. He also said the strategy was to work with whomever would help achieve those goals, Republicans or Democrats. So, 1199’s position with regard to Cuomo is not so undemocratic as portrayed.

      A union’s duty is to its members. Cuomo’s power over the purse is power over 1199 jobs and that is not something to take lightly.
      The article does not mention the Labor Party, which no sooner got formally organized in NYS, then hard on its heels the WFP was formed. Some people believe the WFP was formed to undermine the Labor Party, which explicitly held itself out as an independent alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties.

      The article also mentions the WFP talking to people. Really? They keep their conversations private. I haven’t seen any of it. Tables on the street? Meet ups in my neighborhood? A WFP
      canvasser came by once. To ask for money. Not to talk about issues or get something going in the neighborhood. The WFP line gave Como about 140,000 votes, a little less than the Conservative Party line gave his opponent.

  5. OIFVet

    Re: 100-year-old beggar celebrated as living saint in Bulgaria. WTF, leave your wife and children, give money to the church, become a “saint?” This guy’s story has been circulating in the BG press for a few years, now it is reaching a western audience, and my question is, Why? Anyone with even a basic familiarity with the Bulgarian orthodox church knows it as a corrupt organization whose upper echelon apparatchiks live a life of luxury while their “flock” goes hungry and in bare thread second hand clothing . It is the biggest property owner in the country, is tax exempt, yet it operates not a single soup kitchen for the hungry (unlike neighboring Greece). Very christian people, no doubt. As far as I am concerned Dobri would have done a lot more good by giving that money to a real philanthropic organization. not a pretend one.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, there was a long story on the BBC site. BBC looks to have taken it down. I Google the title, they have the same name, and their link is a 404 too.

  6. Ulysses

    From Ted Fertik’s Jacobin piece linked above:

    “This is one of the sources of left frustration with the WFP: by appearing to be so cozy with Democrats, the party does not actually do the work of changing how voters think about the structure of the American political system or educate them on how to transform it; by not running its own candidates, it fails to build a real party identity that over time voters might embrace as their own.

    This limited voter identification with the party is both cause and consequence of a much bigger problem: the party’s failure to build a real base. Having one would mean having thousands of people who self-identify as members of the party and a large number of activists committed to growing the party. It would mean talking to voters about the party as such, not just about key issues. It would mean, in other words, investing in organizing and party building.

    The WFP has attempted this at times, but not consistently. By more often opting for the “inside”component of the inside-outside dyad, the WFP has passed up opportunities to attract those perennially alienated from two-party politics.

    The other shortcoming is ideological. The thinking behind the New Party was grounded in an analysis of the consequences of the breakdown of the Keynesian order of the post-war period. In the US, the Democratic Party had been the vehicle that functionally integrated the working class into the political system; it thus played an important role in the overall reproduction of American capitalism.

    With the material foundations having shifted so dramatically by the 1990s, it was necessary to create new political institutions that would enable democratic coalitions to engineer a new political economy of high wages and high standards, worker control over production itself, even significant changes in property rights — in other words, the kinds of changes that many socialists would support.

    The trouble is, the party doesn’t talk to the public this way.

    Why? Because it’s difficult, time-consuming, and because with no one else talking that way, most Americans are not remotely primed to hear it. Instead, the party talks in a language that people already understand: inequality and unfairness, the lack of public goods, unsustainable environmental practices, the absence of representation at work. It denounces the bankers and defends social security.

    But it has not tried to give voters a new vocabulary for understanding the world. It has not gone beyond a populist appeal to the poor, working, and middle classes in defining its constituency.

    It does not talk about building up the capacities of working class people to exercise some measure of democratic control over the economy, nor, with its almost exclusive focus on electoral politics and legislation, does it appear to consider establishing democratic control over the economy to be its responsibility.

    Perhaps that was always too much to ask from a single organization.”

    Indeed it is too much to ask. The same critique applies to another group of well-meaning folks better known outside New York State: the Progressive Democrats of America. The complete surrender of the national Democratic party– to neo-liberal corporate fascism– was impossible to ignore when the DNC refused to spend even a nickel to help the recall campaign against Gov. Walker in Wisconsin.

    The moment is now for us to admit that there is no longer any benefit in maintaining the charade that working people can achieve any real representation in our two party system.
    I firmly believe that a skunk party, Green Labor party, or whatever we wish to build as a populist challenge to the status-quo duopoly would immediately attract millions of people nationwide who now vote D or R because they see no alternative.

    In short, we desperately need more folks with the courage of Eugene Debs to take the risk of challenging the establishment– and to restore at least some real political debate to our system. Right now we are completely demoralized by all the kayfabe posturing between the two wings of the Republicrat corporate fascists that currently passes for “politics” in the U.S.

    1. RanDomino

      Debs was one of the founding delegates of the IWW, but when you cite him as a way to shake up the system you refer instead to his quixotic Presidential campaigns? The mind boggles.

      1. Ulysses

        Of course I agree that Debs work in helping the Wobblies (and labor more generally) was far more important than his Presidential campaigns. Yet his campaigns, like the campaign of Al Smith, were more than merely quixotic. They exposed many millions of Americans (far more than the nearly one million who voted for him in his campaign against Wilson) to important ideas they might not have otherwise heard.

    2. Glenn Condell

      ‘The moment is now for us to admit that there is no longer any benefit in maintaining the charade that working people can achieve any real representation in our two party system.’


      ‘I firmly believe that a skunk party, Green Labor party, or whatever we wish to build as a populist challenge to the status-quo duopoly would immediately attract millions of people nationwide who now vote D or R because they see no alternative’


      Just as we need to move away from left/right and other artificial divisors of citizens, we also need to rid ourselves of Parties and Leaders. We must fashion some other method for our polity, which bypasses the need for particular people or groups of people (both vulnerable to power’s come hither) to embody some set of principles or other. Quite apart from corruption or co-option, opinions and values are fluid among such groups/leaders, which/who can in any case only ever approximate the desires of their members/followers, necessarily becoming a lowest common denominator on a range of controversial issues. Cui bono from that?

      We need to think of ourselves as a community of citizens with democratic agency which we ought these days to be able to exercise in real time rather than be held hostage to the antiquated and increasingly elite-owned and operated political machinery which nowadays prevents rather than ensures genuine democracy. If what we currently have is to work into the future, we should be able to elect people on personal platforms, not tied to any party. Real time preferences of constituents should guide (though not direct) the decisions and actions of these reps. If after 4 years a plurality of voters felt the rep had not been responsive enough to their concerns and one of the new candidates seems closer to the mark, out he or she goes.

      The absence of party hierarchies would make the task of lobbyists significantly harder. After decades of dealing with party sheep, it would be like trying to herd cats. Which it should be.

  7. Skeptic


    NC shills for a well known sweat shop running shoe and other overpriced “athletic” crap Global Conglomerate. This really demonstrates the universality of the Global Consumption Society. Poor cat!

    People who wear such stuff have subordinated themselves to a brand and become walking advertisements. And they paid money to do it. What a business model.

    1. OIFVet

      Dude, the story is quite simple really. I bought these flip flops from the base PX during my Iraq deployment to use in the shower. A shower trailer being used by 250+ guys is an invitation to catch foot fungus and who knows what else, so I bought the only flip flops available for sale at the tiny PX so that I wouldn’t stand barefoot in the green/blue moldy substance covering the floor. Nowadays I put them on to throw the trash out. My cat loves shoes and is often found perched in whatever pair has been left in the mudroom. The day I took the photo she happened to be “wearing” the flip flops. I question her taste in foot wear in this case, but there is nothing quite so insidious behind the photo as you imagine. Poor cat? Hardly, she has trained her staff to cater to her every whim.

      1. abynormal

        H/T dude’) …i ‘use’ to be able to avoid labels but not so much in this DEPRESSION
        btw your cat screamed at me…Just Do It Aby bahahahaaaaa

        1. OIFVet

          I put my foot down and she no longer does it, going outdoors that is. She brought in a robin one time, scared stiff and bleeding, as a “present”. After making sure the robin will be OK I revoked her outdoor privileges for good.

          1. abynormal

            ahhh yes the ‘presents’
            my master, Wilzen, brought me a baby snake the other day. it was coiled under his chin…still alive (of course). really freaked me out cause he was headed for MY bedroom.

            1. OIFVet

              LOL, it’s like he was on a mission to instill fear-based compliance. “The world is full of danger and I am brave enough to face them. You are not so you better feed me them bonito flakes or else…”

    2. Manywejlps

      I’m fairly sure those are just cheap knockoff sandals the dude bought and not actual Nike ones. I’d know cause I had a pair myself to walk around the cold house with. They are like dollar store stuff, not likely to be made by nike.

    3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      My cat demonstrates his commitment to consumerism by jumping into any shopping bag, empty product or shipping box, or piece of designer luggage I place on the floor (he does seem to enjoy paper bags more than plastic, and seems to have a thing for high-end, classic shopping bags. Neiman-Marcus is his favorite — they do seem to fit him better).

      1. OIFVet

        Costco boxes seem to be my girls’ favorites, though they don’t mind the reusable Trader Joe’s bags either.

          1. OIFVet

            Very spunky and outgoing, too. When I went to the Anti Cruelty to look for a cat she announced her presence right away: “Hey, I’m here and you need look no further.” My other girl is a dilute tortie, very dog-like as she follows me everywhere and demands that doors are kept open (to the great annoyance of my SO), but very shy around cameras and strangers. She will definitely not contribute to your fine fundraising idea.

            1. Klassy

              Tortitude. I have a dilute tortie also. I had a full on tortoise and she was a sweetie.

        1. Klassy

          NC should get into the pageant business– you could have a fundraiser in which you enter your kitty pics for a fee.

    4. diptherio

      Maybe he got his Swooshy flip-flops off the free-bench in his apartment building like I did. Maybe he fished ’em out of the dumpster.

      If we assume he dumpster-dove the flip-flops, thereby keeping them out of the waste stream, does that redeem the picture?

    5. alex morfesis

      and which brand of foot wear do you find that has paid or is paying a living wage, no matter what the country…

      I am sure the liberty loving, fair and caring folks who use up some of their 168 hours per week absorbing the mental delicacies of our favorite muse would be more than happy to buy foot wear that did not cost 300 per pair and which made sense to acquire…

      please share oh fearless leader…

    6. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      “As a Veteran, Congress needs to adequately fund The VA. We don’t want the sh*tty civilian health care nightmare.”

      “. . . shitty civilian health care nightmare”, huh?

      Well, fuck you, then.

      The US military is the Mother of all Socialist make-work schemes.

      “Congress” doesn’t fund jack shit.

      The citizen does.

      Military service should not entitle anyone to lifelong, socialist benefits, unless that person sustained a permanent disability during their time of service (god forbid you or anyone else should be disabled by the experience).

      Being in the military does not automatically make one a super-citizen (reserved for corporations), neither does it make them superior patriots, nor unimpeachably honorable — and it certainly shouldn’t entitle you to pick the pocket of “shitty civilians,” like me, for the rest of your life.

      1. OIFVet

        No, being in the service or being a veteran does not make one an unimpeachably honorable super citizen and a patriot (hate that word as usually used), just one who for whatever reason may have swallowed the cool aide or had no other viable alternative. Neither does service entitle one to lifetime socialist benefits. Being a human does, hence why I believe in socialist benefits for ALL humans. I do have to say though that, aside from VA care, we vets are very often treated as subhuman pieces of meat, to be ground up until no longer useful and then discarded by our civilian congress critter overlords.

    7. Kurt Sperry

      “People who wear such stuff have subordinated themselves to a brand and become walking advertisements. And they paid money to do it. What a business model.”

      Jesus, dude. You must be fun at parties. Hectoring people for wearing/owning shoes with visible branding. You must hate pretty much everyone then. Do you have a car? A refrigerator? A stereo? A computer (I’m guessing yes here at least)? I could obviously go on and on. Have you pried or unfastened all the branding off them? Are you ashamed if anyone comes over to your house and sees the logos you might have missed? If they come over and are wearing branded shoes do you berate them to their face or do hold the seething rage and haughty contempt silently within? Does anyone pass your purity tests? Do you yourself? I’m somehow doubting it.

  8. Jim Haygood

    A technocratic yet still breathtaking revelation about the Supreme Court from the NYT:

    The court’s secretive editing process has led judges and law professors astray, causing them to rely on passages that were later scrubbed from the official record. Unannounced changes have not reversed decisions outright, but they have withdrawn conclusions on significant points of law.

    The court almost never notes when a change has been made, much less specifies what it was. And many changes do not seem merely typographical or formal.

    Four legal publishers are granted access to “change pages” that show all revisions. Those documents are not made public, and the court refused to provide copies to The New York Times.

    The final and authoritative versions of decisions, some published five years after they were announced, do not, moreover, always fully supplant the original ones. Otherwise reliable Internet resources and even the court’s own website at times still post older versions.


    UFB. Documenting revisions is basic to any serious endeavor, from revising one’s novel to keeping track of software updates. When Boeing or General Motors is cooperating in an accident investigation, their engineering drawings had damned well better have a thoroughly documented trail of revisions.

    Yet the nation’s highest court, in a reflection of the swollen egos which reside there, sneaks in revisions in the dark of night. Every time government operations are placed under the microscope — whether it’s accounting standards, avoidance of conflicts of interest, or the impunity with which its officers ignore the constitution — one is astonished at the second-rate standards that are tolerated there.

    1. Expat

      This is an amazing story, and very, very scary. The supreme court as the classic “unreliable narrator”! Dressed up as a tale about the top court’s correction of mistakes, we have to conclude that we have NO IDEA what laws have been rewritten or revised in the name of ideology and kleptocracy. The existance of several versions of the same opinion is disturbing, to say the least. And the implication of more secret law heaped up somewhere between the court and the White House is a very real possibility. Booby-trapping the future….

        1. hunkerdown

          Well, reimplementing the Roman Empire afresh sounded like a great idea at the time. (See also: second-system syndrome)

  9. Banger

    I think your description of how politics actually works is accurate and is the way democracy actually works here and in most places. The idea that we are a nation of separate individuals each making our own decisions is an fascinating idea but it is fantasy–not such thing exists or can exist. People form groups and, as far as social and neuro-science can go, we are deeply social animals. Now, the acts of the union you cite or any other grouping is interested in looking our for their group not the state or country as a whole–that’s not their job–the job of 1199 is to look after their narrow concerns because that is how our culture works.

    The idea that we ought to live for a larger purpose other than our own and our small groups is a spiritual idea that cannot be generally adopted without the spread of real spirituality in the public. Please understand that I’m not talking about “religion” as it is currently thought of but my definition is spirituality can also be practiced by atheists.

    1. Banger

      This was in reply to Diptherio’s comment above–I’m not sure how this happened–I made a comment on his comment–this is the second time this has happened this week–is my mind “going” soft (ok that may be true) or is there something elese?

      1. Mel

        It was happening to me when I would open a new browser tab to compose my comment. (Intending to copy text to quote from the other tab.) After I went back to simply clicking the Reply link the problem went away. Could that be happening to you, too?

    2. diptherio

      When talking to atheists, I tend to use the term “depth psychology” in place of “spirituality”…seems to go over better.

      1. OIFVet

        As an atheist I can’t understand some other atheists’ aversion to the term. I consider myself spiritual in the exact same way Banger defines it, and I see no problem with using this term.

        1. Jeff W

          I think the aversion to “spiritual” seems due to its use to explain some incompletely understood process—in which case it is related to “woo-woo” (or just “woo”).

          Of course “spiritual” might be used as referring to “the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character.” That raises its own issues for at least some atheists who tend to be monists, i.e., they hold that there is no nonphysical part.

          I think atheists find value in “living for a larger purpose” to the same extent as everyone else but some would use some word other than “spiritual” to describe that and that larger purpose would exclude some purpose related to the supernatural.

          1. OIFVet

            Well said. Personally I don’t consider spirituality as connected to the supernatural but as connected to deeds and actions performed to satisfy one’s craving to find a meaning to one’s humanity and purpose of being. Perhaps Thom Hartmann is correct when he says that atheism is a form of religion; in that case I happen to worship the natural world. I find deep satisfaction from my garden and the birds and other wildlife it attracts, and it always feels good to help others in even small ways. But this is a very real, physical deity and not some abstract god whose existence can neither be proven nor disproven, and certainly not a deity whose vengeance we are taught to fear by its self-appointed priests.

            1. Jeff W

              Thank you. Well, the deep satisfaction you feel from nature, helping others, and finding meaning is very real and I understand that you might call that “spirituality.” Psychologists are studying emotions like those—elevation, awe, admiration, gratitude—that people feel in different contexts and so a lot of the unexplained, “mystical” or “supernatural” aspects might be falling away. Of course, as we gain more understanding, the deep satisfaction we feel from all those things will remain, real as ever, and our feelings might even deepen because we understand how they are very much a part of us.

              As for atheism “being a religion,” I think it’s really simple: atheism is not believing in a god or gods. Period. It is not system of belief as religions are, including non-theistic religions. (Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color, the saying goes.)

              I would suspect that if, as you say, you’re an atheist, then when you say you “worship” nature as a “deity” you mean you experience many of the same feelings—of awe and elevation—that a religious person might when worshiping his or her deity. I take that as more of an analogy—maybe even a very close one—than a statement of belief but, of course, that’s just my interpretation. I found your comment a very evocative statement of how someone can be moved emotionally in deep ways that people often assume can be found only in religion but are just part of being human.

          2. Calgacus

            Jeff W: The servers were hardly letting me post when you asked me a question a while back, so I hope you don’t mind me responding here, the relevance being money on the “(social) purpose”, “spiritual”, if you want, side rather than the “material”.

            Jeff : I don’t understand your objection [to Hugh’s “resource perspective”], Calgacus. Yes, my objections are hard to understand without reading prior conversations with Hugh. My point was that his “resource perspective” veers toward the commodity theory of money & neoclassical/neoliberal economics & thinking of things as “a static zero sum process”. Hugh’s “social purpose” perspective is much better, but as Lambert has explained is a foundation of MMT already. In my division of things in my objection to Hugh, the point is “(social) purpose” hangs with “money/finance/debt” and again, none of those are a priori “tethered to” “real stuff/commodities/resources”. Fine points about social vs public belong after one gets basics like category mistakes, like exorcism of the commodity theory’s worship of graven images.

            From an earlier conversation: Hugh: I mean if Wray would drop his obsession with MMT for a moment and just look at this from a resources perspective, he would immediately see that his spending program, however tentative and obsequious it is to the rich, would still reallocate resources away from them, and for this reason would be opposed by them.

            MMT & Keynes etc understand this perfectly well, but realize it is a minor, peripheral concern, not at all the motivation for the rich to oppose MMT spending programs. See Keynes’s “semi-inflation” in the recent MMT 101: A Response to Critics Part 6 or full version. The more “advanced” the society, the deeper in austerity, the less “allocation away”, “semi-inflation” will happen or is a real concern. Thinking that it MUST happen is extreme commodity-theory neoclassicism.

            As “realistic” views usually are, this is actually Pollyannaish. For this is just not why elites so fanatically oppose sane reform, “obsequious”, “tentative” MMT spending programs, the JG. Elites as a class, a caste, don’t care about the “reallocation of resources away from them”, partly because they know that won’t really happen. What they do care about is taking the resources created by the spending program from the non-elite. The pain of the lesser people is the great joy and amusement of their betters. If the elite class were an individual, one would characterize him as a sadistic psychopath.

            Elite disemployment behavior is like that of a (Rich) person at a restaurant who sees somebody else (a Lesser person) ordering or enjoying a dish. Hugh or neo or New Keynesians hypothesize that Mr. Rich doesn’t like that, doesn’t allow Mr. Lesser to complete his order and meal because he might have to wait longer or get worse service. No, elite behavior is like Mr. Rich taking out a gun and blowing Mr. Lesser’s f-ing head off, and stealing his meal. Elites don’t like other people paying for a meal because it deprives them of this pleasure.

            All that MMT, Keynes, the JG, full employment says is: This is not cricket – let the lesser people pay for their meal. This is not a minor tweak, but a revolutionary change. Unfortunately only MMT academics, the poor and the elitists see things clearly. Others see minor or dubious tweaks like a wealth tax, redistribution, a fake BIG charity as “revolutionary” – and think of the truly revolutionary change, the JG, as a mere tweak. Relevant history on Mr. Rich’s behavior & beliefs is in my favorite paper of the weekend, Victor Quirk’s The Job Guarantee of 1848.

            Last, I replied to your comment on taxation on another dead thread – in the likely case y’all didn’t see it – See Randy Wray: Forget Taxes for Redistribution – What to do About Inequality

            1. paul

              JG has always struck me as the most important aspect of MMT. It’s actually existential dynamite, the whole MO of neoliberalism is the creation of a corrosive insecurity.
              A society that can say stuff your crappy job and your junk consolations would be a happier, healthier one. It removes the leverage from the job rationers and the burden from the income less.
              This is harder to internalise than it should be, a world where the ‘market’ is not the mother, the father.
              However its a much more acheivable goal than many things proposed here.

            2. Jeff W

              Ha, lambert does his best Dr Frankenstein imitation!

              Thank you, Calgacus, for your belated response. (In fact, I had wanted to respond to a few comments and felt the thread had died so I let them go. My apologies to those commenters, including lambert who was one of them, for not responding.)

              With regard to the Tax Revenue Act of 1935: I wasn’t making a statement about the substantive effects (“what works”) of the Act. lambert, in response to a comment that “The idea that redistribution… makes little difference to the masses is nonsense,” said that it was the material benefits of the New Deal as opposed to a “change in the tax rate” that “sold” the public and I observed that the popular name for the tax act was called “Soak the Rich”—in other words, we could not exclude the idea that redistribution aspect played at least some part in the appeal of the New Deal as well.

              With regard to the “resources” question: My point was that his “resource perspective” veers toward the commodity theory of money & neoclassical/neoliberal economics & thinking of things as “a static zero sum process”. I get that, in your view, Hugh’s perspective does that and I do appreciate the explanation. I guess I’d really like to hear what Hugh would say about his “resource perspective” and the “resource allocation” issue.

            3. Calgacus

              Lambert: Thanks. That paper on 1848 is important. The quotes from Nassau Senior & De Tocqueville speak volumes about Mr. Rich. Why & how he prefers the fakery of a BIG to the horrifying JG. How he prefers stagnation – Tocquevilles’s exact word – to prosperity for all, which would be socialism.

              Jeff W: I agree & understood your point. I was about to mention it myself until I saw that was a good place to hang it. But it is a clear refutation of the magical thinking that progressive taxation is the, or even a, solution, rather than an amplifier of other good or bad policies. It was Hoover who really soaked the rich, not FDR.

              paul: You get it. SO many internet MMTers don’t, or half-do and then don’t.

  10. Jose

    This excerpt from Dean Baker’s take on Geithner’s defense of the bailout of Mexico would also nicely apply to the case of the troika “rescue” of periphery Europe as compared to the solution that Iceland was courageous enough to promote:

    “Mexico had the worst per capita growth of any major country in Latin America in the two decades following the Clinton administration’s bailout. By contrast, Argentina, which did default in 2001, quickly recovered the ground lost in the ensuing crisis and grew rapidly until the world economic crisis in 2008. Of course the financial industry was much happier with the Mexican route, in which their loans were repaid in full, than the Argentine route where they were forced to take substantial losses.”

  11. Banger

    Moon over Alabama’s post on Ukraine re-enforces my contention that the neocons have lost the internal power struggle within the administration. Ukraine has not become a possible source of a new Cold War which was the goal and is the goal of the neocon faction. One hopes that this faction will wither and disappear.

    That said, on this Memorial Day weekend we need to remember that the U.S. wars since Korea (and that was an ambiguous) have been murderous wars of U.S. aggression largely for the profit of large corporations who were the only people who benefited from those wars. Our dead and our wounded in body and mind and spirit fought and died for nothing other than that. And, sadly, all we hear about is sentimental crap on Memorial and Veteran’s day as if any of the wars that we fought, even Korea, had anything to do with actually defending the country. It is common to thank soldiers and veterans for their “service” because they are “defending” our “freedoms” and these are precisely the ideas that will lead us into the next war. We need to face the truth about what we have done for the past many decades from overthrowing elected governments and replacing them with dictatorships–but America is the land of denial–we deny everything not only about ourselves as a country but ourselves as individuals. I wonder whether we will ever think about the victims of U.S. war-making and look beyond the comic book version of history even a few millimeters beyond the surface.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Hasn’t the “new Cold War” has already started? A Russia-China (+Iran?) alliance is a strategic adversary is now a target of the neocons.

      See my remarks below. You are too optimistic.

  12. Jackrabbit

    Ukraine: Major “Western” Think Tank Admits Defeat

    – Moon of Alabama

    The writing of the Brookings analysts shows US/Western bias and muddled thinking (see below). It is unreliable. No one should seize upon this analysis as some kind of ‘admission of defeat’ or change in policy. ‘Moon of Alabama’ highlights ‘admission’ mostly to pat its own back – and then hedges, saying:

    In sight of defeat the neocons love to “surge” and to escalate the situation. But as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan such “surges” are unlikely to change the inevitable outcomes.

    The fact is, the neocons/neolibs have already moved past the issues raised by the Brookings analysts (“Finlandization” and economic costs). As far anyone can determine, they intend to take as much of Ukraine into the western orbit as they possibly can.

    The Brookings analysts work highlight the lack of independent analysis in the West. Top academics and researchers mostly support the neocons/neolibs.

    From the Brookings analysts:

    “The West sees itself as defending Ukraine against Russia . . .”
    Conflates US/West propaganda with neocon/neolib goal of countering Russia (neocon: “your with us or against us” mentality)

    “From Russia’s standpoint . . .”
    Plays up US/West strength. Plays down Russian concern by depicting Ukraine as just another ‘front’ in Russia-West confrontation.

    “It is clear to most observers that the West would not be able to defend Ukraine economically from a hostile Russia . . . mischief”
    Biased assumption: When Russia pursues its interests, it is ‘hostile’

    Estimate of cost via analogy to German unification ($276 billion over 20 years)
    Vastly underestimates the cost:
    1) Only accounts for Eastern Ukraine – Western Ukraine is also is terrible shape
    2) The Eastern Ukraine has a larger population than Eastern Germany
    3) Doesn’ t consider the corruption; oligarchs, etc.

    “Ukraine as Poland is not only infeasible [it backfires]. . . “
    Strawman. Wrongly assumes the US/West public stance that Ukraine remain whole. In fact, Ukraine seems likely to be split in two because neocons rejected the Federalization/Findlandization option. It seems that they want NATO in whatever remains of Ukraine.

    “For those who want to punish Russia and nothing else, that’s the answer: hand over Ukraine to the Russians and let them turn it into Malaya Rossiya. It would suck Russia dry. For anyone who really cares about Ukraine, there is, like it or not, only one option: the one in the middle. [Finlandization of Ukraine]”
    First, by all accounts, neocon and neolib/oligarch decision-makers (remember when they used to be called “leaders”?) don’t really care about Ukraine. The ‘decision’ has already been made.

    Notice how the analysts avoid Putin’s term “Novorossiya” – now adopted by the Federalists/Separtists in favor of their own “Malaya Rossiya”. Another hint of the US/West bias of these “Russian Analysts”.

    1. barrisj

      Re: moon of alabama references…the article cited in the “Western think tanks” piece, Roberto Orsi’s analysis appearing in the LSE online journal, is absolutely required reading for both a historical and contemporary appraisal of what “the Ukraine” is actually all about, and how countervailing pressures from Russia and “the West” continues to bedevil any sense of a coherent state, despite occasional episodes of “democratic voting”.

      The Irreversible Crisis of the Ukrainian Experiment

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Good deconstruction—demolition—of think tank propaganda from USA’s preeminent consent factory. Presuming the known-to-be-false premise that the den of Neocon conspirators actually want a stable unified Ukraine is blatant deceit. This was reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit murder by the Obama regime, to capitalize on conflict. And the BI makes Russia out as hostile perpetrator and mischeiver. What gall!

    3. Banger

      Kind of makes sense. But look, Brookings and those types neither have an interest nor a motivation to be accurate–their job is to provide plausible “positions” for various “stances.” No one seriously tries to find a reasonable answer the the issues of Ukraine. Brookings finding are generated by the twists and turns of Washington’s Byzantine politics.

      But your main point, I think, is that the neocon goal was to achieve a broken state as they did in Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria–chaos in those areas serves their cause by creating instability, factionalism, religious conflict so they can be more easily manipulated by intel agencies, criminal gangs and various pirates that operate in the world. But Ukraine is different–it is part of the Russian sphere of influence and a direct slap in the face of not just Putin but the Russian state and people and that, I believe, was just going too far for the “realists” (still nasty imperialists) because the end result would not be chaos on Russia’s borders–Russia would not and will not allow that but, rather, the result is exactly what we are seeing–closer ties between Russia and China and, interestingly increased belligerence on the part of China towards U.S. security concerns in Asia. I don’t know if this situation will last but I suspect it will since the U.S., because of domestic concerns cannot carry the Big Stick it did during Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. Even if we assume some kind of false-flag event to get us into some conflict I’m not sure it will galvanize the public which is more divided than it ever has been. The very thing the neocons feared in the late nineties that they thought a “new Pearl Harbor” would solve have come to pass, i.e., we are a deeply divided yet hedonistic country with no sense of common purpose.

      1. Jackrabbit

        My main point is that the foreign analyst community favors neocons. They have been nurtured to do so because neocon thinking has been rewarded and promoted over many years. This ‘group think’ results in policy failure as other views are not given a fair hearing.

        Concerns of ordinary people and ‘push-back’ from allies has resulted in lame analysis like this that puts forth false choices, refrains from asking tough questions, and suspiciously ignores the consequences of the failure of Ukraine policy that it posits. And it conveniently appears just before the election/selection of what we are told is ‘moderate’ President in Ukraine who will reach out to Putin/Russia. One wonders just how sincere and genuine that overture will be.

        I see PR games on both sides masking hardening positions. Neither side seems to have changed their position much.

  13. OIFVet

    Re: VA says more veterans may use private medical services. This proposal is the first step toward the privatization and crapification of veteran care in the name of private profit. It is quite disheartening that in places like Sic Semper Tyrannis some veterans are calling for a voucher system. Nothing quite demonstrates the mindset of the chickenhawk congress-critters like this letter by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, calling for veterans to sacrifice in the name of the balanced budget (PDF Link) Sample: “With that being said…no constituency better understands the challenge America faces, and no constituency is better suited to, again, lead by example by putting country first.” Shameless document signed by such renowned Republicrat creatures as the alleged progressive Patty Murray and the republican chickenhawk Richard Burr. As a veteran this I find this document extremely insulting and patronizing. On this Memorial Day weekend, as we remember the many who fell defending the overseas interests of the corporate fascist oligarchy, they serve us veterans with yet another slap in the face. I know I am on thin ice, but fuck these bastards is what I feel like saying.

    1. ambrit

      Remember the big vets motorcycle rally run to DC that no one in the MSM covered? They’re afraid of you when they do that. Keep the faith baby.

    2. John Jones

      I have been meaning to ask. Is there many soldiers that share many of the views you have expressed on NC in terms of foreign policy?

      1. OIFVet

        I doubt it, at least for those who are still in active duty. Sure there are many who were disillusioned by the wars and multiple deployments, but there is still the daily military life and rituals which are meant to instill unquestioning obedience to orders. Amongst veteran groups such as Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War opinions like mine would probably be more widespread based on some limited interactions I’ve had. I think that going back to civilian life, away from military indoctrination, does wonders for those who have questions and are seeking answers.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Yup, criminal negligence by the foxes appointed to harvest the VA henhouse prove that gubmint can’t manage healthcare (even tho it’d been managed well for decades). It’s disaster capitalism inaction, a setup for tearful political grandstanding and new calls for privatization. Anyone already notice the rise in private charity fundraising for abandoned vets?

      Let’s see who goes to prison for manslaughter, because that’s exactly what this was … for fat bonuses. If Place-Holder snoozes thru this one, we’ll know the fix was in. Expect a big Medicare disaster before long.

  14. Lexington

    RE: “Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream Of A Silicon Reich”

    His devotees, many of whom are also bloggers, describe themselves as the “neoreactionary” vanguard of a “Dark Enlightenment.” They oppose popular suffrage, egalitarianism and pluralism. Some are atheists, while others affect obscure orthodox beliefs, but most are youngish white males embittered by “political correctness.” As best I can tell, their ideal society best resembles Blade Runner, but without all those Asian people cluttering up the streets.

    I’m just going to come out and say it: the decline of classical liberal arts education has left America at the mercy of the ethically incompetent, whether in Silicone Valley, Wall Street or Washington.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      . . the decline of classical liberal arts education has left America at the mercy of the ethically incompetent . .

      Ding! — Said as the holder of a BA from a liberal arts college with a double major in Physics and Philosophy.
      During the 40 plus years of a career interacting mainly with EEs, I’ve been frequently both shocked an saddened by offhand comments that revealed the narrowness of their foci and perspectives. A social friend of mine, who also has a double E sheepskin as well as an MBA from one of the top five institutions offering such, once casually remarked that he hadn’t read a novel since high school. All too often it shows.

      1. Banger

        That is one reason why the ruling elites in the U.S. are unfit as world-rulers. And it isn’t just MBA types–illiteracy is everywhere particularly in the media. This is one of the major differences between the generation writing today and that writing, say, 50 years ago. I remember doing some research a few years ago about some stuff from the 60s and reading a Time Magazine story about it (from that era) and was amazed by the vocabulary, style and the nuanced view of the subject–and I used to think, at the time, that Time was boringly middle-brow at best.

        1. James Levy

          I read several years ago that the average incoming Freshman in the mid-1960s had a working vocabulary of about 25,000 words. By the late 1990s, that number had fallen to 10,000. How can any English reader function at the university level with a vocabulary of 10,000 words? I once said at a faculty meeting that much of what our students read passes by them like white noise. One colleague, initially a bit dismissive of what I said, later to her credit decided to teach an introductory course based on reading only one book that she would go over in order to teach the students how to read a university-level text.

          1. ambrit

            White noise is a fitting metaphor. I used to sit in the break room at Lowes and watch the younger cohort text away like mad. When I would ask them about the content of these texts, most would say it was some sort of social interaction. When I would say that talking clear over the phone would increase the rate of information exchange, I would use this exact term, most would look at me as if I had uttered a heresy. Besides being a method of extracting money from people, the text function seems to be an ideal way of slowing down and restricting peoples thinking.
            It is a shame, but true, that remedial English, is needed in universities today. No Child Left Behind has turned into Everyone Dumb Down.

  15. Veri

    Oh, The VA is going to allow vets to go to private health care facilities.

    1. Congress created the funding situation in which Administrators, in order to get their bonuses, falsified wait times. No money, no care.

    2. Rick Scott, of Medicare fraud infamy, and current governor of Florida, performed a PR stunt by sending State regulators to a Federal facility; in which they have no jurisdiction whatsoever without an agreement. Rick Scott also owns a chain of boutique health care clinics across Florida.

    3. Congress, who is really to blame for the VA fiasco, is putting pressure on Shinsecki to step down and Shinseki is somehow saying that Federal (i.e. taxpayer) dollars will now flow to expensive, private health care facilities.

    4. This is the beginning of the privatization of The VA. Or, a partial privatization of The VA.

    It was funny, if coincidental, that Rick Scott and Rep. Jeff Miller are both from Florida. That Jeff is pleased and Scotty may see some inflow of veteran’s to his boutiques.

    As a Veteran, Congress needs to adequately fund The VA. We don’t want the sh*tty civilian health care nightmare. It is even worse than ours. As for corporate-gift giving ACA, my “affordable” health care for my injuries would amount to over $600 a month, not including the donut-hole and co-pays.

    As for Obama and Democrats? They can go jump off a bridge along with Republicans. Obama’s only concern is Obama and his corporate owners. He was not too concerned about the problems over at VA until those problems became a Public Relations problem.

  16. bwilli123

    Explaining China’s behaviour in the East and South China Seas
    “….By using direct armed pressure in these disputes, China makes its neighbours more eager for US military support, and at the same time makes America less willing to give it, because of the clear risk of a direct US-China clash. In other words, by confronting America’s friends with force, China confronts America with the choice between deserting its friends and fighting China. Beijing is betting that, faced with this choice, America will back off and leave its allies and friends unsupported. This will weaken America’s alliances and partnerships, undermine US power in Asia, and enhance China’s power…”

    1. Banger

      And the Chinese are right. America is in no position to confront China so China can begin to enforce what should be its sphere of influence. The countries surrounding China will have to make their individual arrangements with the Chinese authorities. America has violated every principle of international law, done everything to tear down the system that the U.S. was mainly responsible for setting up and now will reap the rewards.

  17. Lexington

    After the real estate crash people said we needed a new Pecora Commission to clean up banking, but I keep wondering: where are you going to find a Ferdinand Pecora today? Or a Francis Perkins, or a James Landis, or an Adolf Berle? The concept of public service has become so debased that Timothy Geitner claims, in all apparent sincererity, to be one!

    It’s great so say we need regulators who aren’t working for the people they’re supposed to regulate, supreme court justices who aren’t partisan hacks or politicians who won’t sell themselves to the lobbyists with the deepest pockets but where are you going to find those people today? The corruption of the polity is only the inevitable consequence of a society that has reduced “education” to narrow vocational training and discaded as superfluous quaint notions of developing reason, character and integrity.

    1. Banger

      Public service? What’s that? We are society that has no common sense of purpose. I think people in the U.S. would be amenable to public service if there was some sense of cohesion in the culture. The neocons hoped that the GWOT would do it–but it failed. I believe climate change should do it–but I won’t hold my breath.

    1. scraping_by

      The FT story contra Piketty isn’t the point. The headline’s a slogan, and that’s all most of the talking head/chattering class/political class is going to use.

      While any work is vulnerable to malevolent nitpicking, nothing the FT has published indicates wholesale cherrypicking or obvious slanting. Instead, the high and mighty are doing some Breitbart editing and puffing the results.

      Not assuming good will is so un-PC. Feels liberating.

  18. scraping_by

    RE: Moldbug

    Corey Pein asks and answers the important question about neoreactionaries. Not have they shot past bat shit crazy into a malicious cloudworld, but how seriously should we take this?

    His example was the Koch brothers using modern media and billions of dollars to mainstream a worldview that, previously, had been widely understood to be seriously unhinged. It was spread through society with various con jobs, using both the highest intellectual jargon and the lowest racist whispering.

    Another vulnerability is the outsized influence of Serious People. Jonathan Chait in The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics told the story of how young Dick Cheney in the 1970’s was the first to take Arthur Laffer’s whacked Curve and turn it into a successful salesman’s patter. The rest of the baleful history of Supply Side is just an elaboration of that first handful of cocktail napkin notes.

    Yesterday’s bat shit crazy is today’s conventional wisdom in the halls of power. Watch out for a neoreactionary champion who wishes to move the chatter class center over the border.

  19. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    my comment at 4:25 pm, was in answer to Veri’s comment at 3:34 pm. Sorry for any confusion this caused.

  20. Roland

    Moldbug is perhaps an example of the notion of “culture as superstructure.” In any particular type of economy, those who control mean of production tend to develop the sort of ethos which they find most flattering. It doesn’t matter whether it makes any sense.

    If we levelled control of the means of production, Moldbug would be no more than a garden-variety crank. If we don’t do some levelling, and start doing it soon, then you can expect some species of Moldbug to infest the collective mind of the global bourgeoisie.

Comments are closed.