Links 5/6/14

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I’ll be adding a few more items to Links after our 7:00 AM e-mail launch, so those readers should visit the site for the final version.

Do animals have a sense of humor? Slate. Found the e-mail from Brian C pointing to this article only now, aieee!

It Only Costs $21K To Get A One-Way Flight In A VIP Three-Room Suite With A Butler Consumerist

Will The GM ‘Switchgate’ Recall Kill The Old Ignition Key For Good? Car Connection. bob:

The key is part of an actual switch. There are a few ways to “kill” a car engine. Putting a computer in charge of that is crazy. Key off, ignition system no longer “armed”.

The other way that should be considered, if keys are on the out, is a ground fault switch. Common on 2 stroke engines. Just simply short out the ignition coil.

Pushing and holding a button to turn off a car is nuts. If you need a car off, you need it off NOW, not a few seconds from now.

You Just Don’t Understand: Speech recognition needs to get a lot better before it’s really useful Slate

Mark Coatney Says Tumblr Ad Revenue Struggling Business Insider

Chernobyl’s Toll on Nature New York Times

How Memory Speaks New York Review of Books

Abort, Retry, Fail? – Lancet Avoided Much Recent Unpleasantness in Reporting on New Gates Foundation CEO (Including Her Defense of $55,000 a Year for Bevacizumab) Health Care Renewal

Spreading Good Around The World Atrios

Is Another Aspect Of The TPP They Hid From Us, Legally Stoning Gays? DownWithTyranny (RR). Hollywood (or at least the glamorous part) has declared war on the TPP.

China investors may build bridge across Kerch Strait Taas (YY)

Nomura: China’s property bust is on MacroBusiness

Cambodia’s bloggerati fear new internet law Aljazeera

Brussels Sees Broader, Deeper EU Economic Recovery WSJ MoneyBeat

EU financial transaction tax won’t come before 2016: diplomats Reuters

France set to miss deficit target, risks EU fine HITC Business

‘No UK trade benefit’ in being in EU BBC

Benefits risk to jobseekers refusing zero-hours contracts BBC

For First Time, TransCanada Says Tar Sands Flowing to Gulf in Keystone XL South Steve Horn, Firedoglake


Ukraine: U.S. Campaign Stuck Without Russian Intervention And German Support Moon of Alabama

NATO’s Top Commander: Russia Won’t Invade Ukraine Voice of America. Having planted this notion, the officialdom is now having to talk it down.

Why Trying to ‘Win’ Ukraine Could Lead to Its Collapse New Republic (billmon). You need to read past the one-sided account of how this row began to get to the useful bits.

Ukraine Troops Killed in Slovyansk as Rebels Down Chopper Bloomberg

Statecraft or Witchcraft? Dimitry Orlov (Richard Smith). Should have called out the warlocks too.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

U-2 spy plane crashes Los Angeles air traffic control Guardian (YY)

The NSA sent a mysterious coded tweet. Here’s the decrypted message. Washington Post

“The U.S. Supreme Court Decision … Means the Nation Has Entered a Post-Constitutional Era” George Washington

Mortality Drop Seen to Follow ’06 Health Law New York Times

Benghazi and the Bombshell New York Magazine

The Three-Drug Death Penalty Cocktail is a Mess New Republic

Missouri man allowed to skip prison sentence after 13 years of good behavior Raw Story (YY)

New York Mayor de Blasio unveils sweeping plan to address housing crisis Christian Science Monitor

In Which I Once Again Do Not Understand the Thinking of the Federal Reserve’s FOMC Brad DeLong

Former Fed leader sees market-rattling infighting at central bank Reuters

How Tax Avoidance Is a Big Reason For Amazon’s Success Alternet

JPMorgan Chase to Porn Stars: You’re Not Welcome Huffington Post

A century of capital structure: The leveraging of corporate America VoxEU

The 15 best and 15 worst performing housing markets Housing Wire

Default Mode: How Ocwen Skirts California’s Mortgage Laws Dave Dayen, Capital and Main (Deontos)

There’s no evidence that privatisation works, but it marches on Guardian

Capitalism, Not Government Is the Problem Chris Hedges, Truthout. Some readers discussed this article in comments. One weakness is treating capitalism as monolithic. It comes in many flavors, and some are better for ordinary peopel than others.

Poverty is not “complex” MacroBusiness

Antidote du jour. This looks like a stuffed toy, but Lance N says this is a real baby alpaca.


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. gonzomarx

    on BBC radio 4 this morning

    The Future Is Not What It Used to Be
    Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the Financial Times, asks how the work force of the future will be changed by the advancements of technologies. How should governments respond to a jobs market which is hollowing out opportunities for traditional educated professions and how will rewards for innovation and income for labour be distributed without creating a society plagued by endemic inequality?

  2. dcb

    in response to brad delong
    you don’t understand what the fomc is doing because your indoctrination in the cult called economics prevents you from grasping what is really the problem.
    Both you and krugman suffer from some sort of mass delusion
    But don’t worry the fomc doesn’t understand what they are doing either

    1. dcb

      I find it really scary how certain people will go so out of their way to avoid having to think that their economic paradigm has something wrong with it. DeLong is one of them

      maybe after all this “stimulus” not doing what you expected it to do, for as long as it hasn’t done what it should be doing you’d start to think my version/ way of thinking is missing something. It needs to be reformed, altered, etc

      It’s as if they will do almost anything to avoid the elephant in the room because it isn’t in their models and they don’t like the obvious conclusion

      1. jgordon

        That’s probably the wrong way of looking at it. A better way might be to consider that the system itself has a lot of momentum, and the people operating the system have a perceived self-interest in perpetrating the system as long as possible.

        Not doing QE would have necessitated actual reforms and systemic restructuring, which would incidentally have caused the impoverishment/imprisonment/execution, or whatever, of a lot of powerful people who are benefiting from the current criminal paradigm. Therefore it’s reasonable to see how the factotums of those powerful people in the Fed and Government would uncover or create various pseudo intellectual justifications to avoid systemic reset. I think it would be quite a stretch to say that they really believe their models and ideological economic theories serve any actual purpose other than propaganda.

          1. rich

            everything’s going according to plan:

            Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank

            It’s a small number that’s part of a much larger picture: The Internal Revenue Service collected $5.7 billion in 2011 from penalties, meaning that Americans took out about $57 billion from retirement funds before they were supposed to.

            Hedge Fund Moguls’ Pay Has the 1% Looking Up
            HEDGE FUND MOGULS GETTING RICHER Hedge fund managers, who heavily populate the so-called 1 percent in the United States, are getting richer. The 25 highest-earning hedge fund managers in the United States hauled in a total of $21.15 billion in compensation in 2013, according to an annual ranking published on Tuesday by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, DealBook’s Alexandra Stevenson writes. The payday, earned in a year when most hedge fund managers fell short of market performance, is the highest since 2010 and 50 percent more than in 2012. No women placed among the top 50.

            Topping the list was David A. Tepper, the founder of Appaloosa Management, who maintained his spot at No. 1, earning $3.5 billion last year. Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors ranked No. 2 after bringing home $2.4 billion. John A. Paulson of Paulson & Company earned $2.3 billion, ranking No. 3. Paychecks in 2013 were large, but more remarkable were the multiples by which they increased since Institutional Investor began collecting data on pay, Ms. Stevenson writes.

            1. jrs

              Well that’s bad, borrowing against one’s home might have been risky, but it least it was penalty free, tax deductable (think about that really hard and tell me the tax system is not really messed up), and often had a decent interest rate.

              Tapping 401k funds (as opposed to borrowing against them) is just penalty city, it has no advantages.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I was watching a PBS show on the El Sidron cave and some Neanderthal bones.

                They found some bitter plants lodged in the calcified plaque parts of some teeth.

                There are two schools of interpretation on this.

                1. They were masters of their environment and had intimate knowledge of plants.

                2. They were in the process of dying out and were under tremendous stress to survive, eating whatever they could get, in this case, bitter plants.

                The latter may be what is in store when the middle class and the poor die out and taking out 401K money is just the beginning.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I take it you don’t read this blog regularly. We criticize Krugman on a regular basis. And DeLong is pointing to the internal incoherence of the FOMC’s position by its own economic logic.

    1. nobody

      This conviction stems from an arrest on March 17, 2012, the day multiple women reported being sexually assaulted by NYPD:

      “I’d like to emphasize this because when I first mention this, the usual reaction, from reporters or even some ordinary citizens, is incredulity. ‘Surely this must be a matter of a few rogue officers!’ It is difficult to conceive of an American police commander directly telling officers to grope women’s breasts—even through indirect code words… Of course we cannot how such decisions are made, or conveyed; in fact, most of us find it unpleasant even to contemplate the idea of police officials ordering or encouraging sexual assault against the very citizens they are sworn to protect. But this seems to be precisely what is happening here.”

      David Graeber has been tweeting about the conviction:

      “the outrageous thing about this trial is that it was set up by the court to further the aims of a policy of sexual assault”

      “as such the trial is a continuation of that policy sexual assault, which was calculated tp provoke ‘violent’ reactions”

      “by forbidding Cecily’s lawyers from talking about the policy, the judge effectively became part of that policy”

      “as far as I’m concerned the judge is as guilty as the police commanders who intentionally chose a sexual assault policy”

      “if you want to know why people think US is a police state, consider not one cop has even been charged for ANY act of violence towards OWSers”

      “in a real democracy, to physically assault citizens for trying to exercise basic political rights would be an act of treason”

      “cops can & do physically assault citizens trying to exercise basic democ rights w impunity.”

      “irony is there is virtually no chance either the judge or prosecutor really thought Cecily was guilty.”

      “maybe I should organize around US police abuse. It’s affected people close to me. And there’s little more they can do now that I’m in exile.”

      “if during protest 1 cop goes nuts & starts randomly swinging, others will then arbitrarily choose 1 protestor to charge w assault”

      “cops started being systematically violent to scare such people away & it worked”

      “they often settle to avoid exposure, admitting no guilt. Make it clear if u do pursue it they will make ur life a living hell”

      1. Banger

        In political matters judges almost always side with the police and, usually, the average citizen goes along with it, in part, because of the glorification of the police in American popular culture. As for the police, they have a visceral hatred for politically motivated intellectuals who are usually upper-middle class or above and this is their chance to feel superior. Many police officers have “issues” about class, status and so on and their superiors cynically manipulate and encourage that. I will say that there was a time when PDs were changing (70s & 80s) all that and the emphasis on training was on being “professional” but the culture changed even before 2001 and after that if changed dramatically for the worse–at least that’s what I’ve seen.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Its difficult to apply generalities to a specific case.

          I’ll bet many of the officers were sympathetic to an anti-Wall Street message. I’ll bet many of the officers would be unsympathetic to an officer that abused his powers. But few officers will be willing to speak up about these things.

          By creating or tolerating a culture of silence, the top brass only needs to identify a few officers with lax morals to carry out their dirty work.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          My thoughts are that the size of police forces versus their region matter. I would be bold enough to say small and medium sized cities do have professional police forces. They are large enough to have oversight, but they aren’t large enough to intimidate politicians or have corrupt outfits. Commissioners of large cities are big enough to be noticed in DC, and they have incentive to prevent corruption investigations if they want to be an undersecretary.

          Suburban and bedroom communities environments don’t promote professional police forces because there is no community, and the police are the only people there during the day.

          Certainly, militarization is a problem, and larger forces and rural forces don’t have the checks in their communities to keep them professional. The mayors of medium sized cities are accessible, but they aren’t so big that they can rely on the Hatfield’s support to stay on top with a corrupt police force.

      2. Cocomaan

        I’d like to see some organizing around police violence.

        The black community living under the drug war is more or less under constant siege.

        1. RanDomino

          The Black Panthers was started when Huey Newton and Bobby Seale went to confront illegal police activity on the street while carrying law books (and shotguns).

          1. Larry Headlund

            And Fred Hampton will now explain how the police responded to that challenge.

            1. James Levy

              It’s very hard to put aside the things we were all taught about our society and the whole apparatus that supports it. When George Carlin in his last HBO Special told his audience if you think you have rights, Google Japanese-Americans 1942, you could sense the crowd wavering. What are we to do if the police force is not our friend, if the judge is not impartial, if the District Attorneys are more interested in chalking up “wins” than dispensing justice? Beliefs in ideals helped Americans from the 1770s to the 1970s to occasionally and haltingly build a better, more just and inclusive, society. Today, these beliefs are attached to individuals and institutions that no longer reflect those ideals. Our belief in the better aspects of what was the system now blinds and shackles us. You can see it in some of the commentary at Truthdig on Hedge’s lawsuit. He’s portrayed by loyal Dems as shrill, paranoid, deluded, because we all know that the government would never use any of those nasty powers against us Americans: We have rights! We have the Constitution! Obama is a good man thwarted at every turn by evil Republicans! It’s can’t happen here!

              I have no idea where to start the process of cleaning up the mess we are in. Climate change is my top priority these days, because whatever happens to the American State is of little import compared to what will befall humanity if global warming goes nuts. Permian extinction event, anyone?

              1. jrs

                Yea pretty much agree with that prioritization though I can go back on forth and have. Because a police state radically disminishes the ability to do anything about any political issue including climate change. It really is a system and a heck of a lot more totalistic a one than it appears.

              2. susan the other

                Yes I agree. First things first. Fukushima, Hanford, Carlsbad now; it’s gonna be like triage. Start with the most toxic pollutants and finish up with the least harmful. It will take a century. Get rid of coal. Get rid of cars. Global warming ranks high on the priorities list because the devastation will be overwhelming. It would be nice if we mobilized to achieve these changes and in so doing we automatically set ourselves straight economically as well. We’ll need an entirely new way of looking at gains and losses.

              3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Makes one shudder at the gift of ‘the government is not a household.’

      3. Benedict@Large

        After well more than a decade living on the poverty side of town, I can assure you that the first thing police do when they get called on misconduct is charge the person complaining with a fake felony. This removes credibility from the complainant, and forces them to refocus their efforts on their own exoneration.

        (A lawyer for a felony charge starts around $5,000 in the average metro area, a fee that poor people cannot raise. The alternative is using the local public defender, who in my area carries a caseload of 400, insuring that the charged individual gets close to zero representation.)

      4. Jackrabbit

        Women voters are played upon to build the security state.

        Women activists are targeted during protests.

        1. allcoppedout

          You guys have the cops all wrong. They turn up to get paid by doing as little work as possible. The best and most rewarded way to do this is to get off the beat or Response – generally the most dangerous and testing work. So this gets done by a motley crew of “failures”. Lawyers hardly discuss taking the tough cases that don’t pay or make their careers, so why should we treat poor cops differently. Professional? My first job was push-starting the beat car.

          In UK parlance, one learns to ‘nod’, ‘cuff’, ‘skew’ and ‘fit’. It is much easier to nick villains (usually sad, mentally challenged people) in retrospect than prevent or catch them committing crimes. Cuffing is just making crimes magically disappear. Nodding means taking a caught villain to an area with difficult to clear up crimes making you do work. For various promises like a conjugal visit to a ‘munter’ as a break from prison rape, a few drinks or some blow, chummy will nod at various premises he screwed. He doesn’t get any further sentence and you “detect” all those crimes and write-off the work needed to catch the actual culprit. Skewing means recording a crime, say a rape, as something else, like a domestic dispute. Wimmin lie all the time and rape investigation is expensive, so they don’t deserve it. Bit tough when a rape kit has been done, but you can always put them in the not priority bin. Fitting is using planted evidence or getting some sucker nicked for a simple crime to cough to one you can’t solve without doing real police work – and this latter is always career limiting. Sometimes one doesn’t even bother to fit a real criminal, you just pick up some mentally deficient bit of street furniture and get that to admit being the Ripper. They sign statements that were once the first few chapters of a failed novel, saying the stuff is true and that they read it all. Best to make sure the fitted can read, otherwise some slick lawyer might get them off on this technicality. Sometimes one finds evidence that supports the innocence of the guy you locked up, but you can usually find some perverted forensic scientist to convince a jury not to believe their own eyes (google Nico Bento).

          With all this going on we still fall for the positive gloss that the vast majority of cops are hard-working, decent people. Just like those bankers and politicians and lawyers and judges – indeed all the people who have dug the hole we are living in. We live in the fantasy this was achieved by hard-work?

      5. Lord Koos

        Read ’em and weep:

        Video of Fatal Shooting Contradicts Deputy’s Statement
        SFPD Cops Attack Innocent Man, Neighbors Beaten For Helping
        Cop Tasers Handcuffed Girl
        Cop Pulls Gun on 11-year-old Building Tree Fort
        NYPD Cop Breaks 10-Year-Old’s Leg for Filming Him

        On and on — obviously the gloves are off.

        Today I just found out about a new disease dreamed up by the psychiatric profession, “Oppositional Defiant Disorder”:

        Currently ODD describes children who misbehave, but this may be helpful in the future when it is necessary to commit rebellious citizens to mental institutions. It will be cases of Adult ODD.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As I said, I was told it was real. It sure looks like a stuffed toy, though.

  3. Ulysses

    Excellent conclusion to the linked piece by Rumplestatskin at MacroBusiness:

    “What makes these social problems ‘tough’ is our moral baggage. When we see a family member in need we assume the best – that underneath they are good people, and that their situation is a product on a series of unfortunate circumstances. But when those in need are ‘outsiders’, we seem to assume the worst – that their poverty is a choice, and their poor choices reflect some innate ‘bad’ personality trait, and hence they are undeserving of support.

    Poverty wouldn’t be such a ‘tough’ social problem if there were only deserving poor.

    Unfortunately the most wealthy in our tribe are also politically active and socially influential, and they fear losing their ‘deserved’ wealth to these ‘underserving’ poor. The media is their weapon, and they reinforce the moral message of the undeserving poor at every opportunity.

    Removing our morality goggles makes it clear that ‘tough’ social problems are technically not so tough at all, and that much of society is pretending that is the case in order to protect their own interests, and using warped morality to justify their position.”

    1. Klassy

      Yes, I read just the link and thought “At last!”. I am so tired of reading about “intractable” problems. Yes, there are intractable problems– inequality and poverty just aren’t among them. When they talk about “complex” problems, they talk about parents and family life that come up short. Newsflash– there have always been people that should not be parents who do become parents. This happens through all strata of society. The consequences are just more dire for those at the bottom. It probably does not need to be said that an unjust and an unequal economy is not conducive to a harmonious family life.

    2. Eeyores enigma

      “Poverty wouldn’t be such a ‘tough’ social problem if there were only deserving poor.”

      You are feeding the lie.

      Society is structured under the lie that without the threat of “No Money = You Die” hanging over everyones head they would all lay around and do nothing. This lie was originally perpetuated in order to withhold food and shelter from a portion of the population in order get them to do our undesirable jobs.

      The solution to poverty is not having rich people give them a bit now and then. The solution, and its the solution to all of humanities bad behavior, is to get rid of the “No Money = You Die” paradigm.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I agree about the inadequacy, if not worse, of giving them fish.

        I believe the solution to ‘No Money = You Die’ is already in the Constitution – Congress shall coin money and in this case, Congress authorizes the amount and, with a new legislation, money is created via the Little People, with equal effort (we are talking teamwork here) spending it into power.

        With that, we re-claim our fishermen heritage.

        1. jrs

          This teach a man to fish philosophy adopted everywhere will only lead to global overfishing, ocean acidification, plankton deaths, fukishima and the eventual extinction of all fish. That’s what teaching a man to fish (ie to compete in a system where he not only has to work to survive, but sometimes has to do work that is destroying the world to survive) ACTUALLY DOES. Now tell me how could giving a man a fish be any worse?

          FWIW I will not do work that does harm, and I’d like that morality to be widely adopted, but that’s neither here nor there. In a system of fish or die *someone* WILL overfish the ocean just to avoid dying.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You have a good point.

            We limit the ‘everyman is a fisherman’ metaphor to the act of money creation.

            With GDP sharing, the first question people ask is, who would want to work then? Thus, it ensures people will only engage in what they are truly passionate about, with the possibility of a much smaller GDP.

            We know that people are happier in a more equal, even if less material abundant, world. So, a much smaller GDP, and hopefully less actual fishing of fish, is not to be feared.

          2. hunkerdown

            I love the way you carry the teach-a-man-to-fish bromide to its logical conclusion.

      2. Klassy

        What do you mean “feeding the lie? I am sure that sentence was placed there to mock the idea of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor and that making these distinctions is really about justifying your privilege.

        1. allcoppedout

          I think the idea is that they use poverty pour encourager les autres Klassy. Sure, we could get rid of it (and should), but the ‘dark unmentioned’ is that the threat of poverty is what motivates us proles to work. Having poverty is a social policy.

          Take all that business school motivation at work dross. Does it ever broach, ‘I do this lousy job and put up with my bullying boss so I don;t have to live next door to a violent, drug-dealing low-life who blares music all day and night’?

          The poverty problem is intractable because we have to address ideology to solve it. You’re going to have poverty as soon as a teacher tells you to work hard learning the rubbish she is teaching to have a better jawb than the scumbag lazy (not fed well, autistic spectrum, abused, late developing brain …). It’s all in really deep, even before we start thinking about adding 4 billion consumers to the planet burning club or how to replace finance houses with a couple of honest adding machines and create a system in which ‘globalising Lambert’s garden’ and similar good half-baked (but still good) ideas would work.

  4. Hugh

    Roberts is smarmy. Scalia is wacko. But for truly awful writing and argument, no one can compare with Kennedy. And it is Kennedy because he is the fifth radical conservative vote on the Court who gets to write the opinion in cases like Town of Greece v. Galloway on public prayer. I have to say that I have nothing for or against such public instances of prayer as long as they are brief, non-sectarian and ecumenical in tone and content and they do not require any active participation by those attending. Greece v. Galloway eliminates all these elements, and is why I oppose the ruling.

    Here are some selections from the syllabus of Kennedy’s opinion with my comments.

    “To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures sponsoring prayers and the courts deciding these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech, thus involving government in religious matters to a far greater degree than is the case under the town’s current practice of neither editing nor approving prayers in advance nor criticizing their content after the fact.”

    Of course, this rather begs the question of why government should be getting involved in religion in the first place. It is incoherent to assert that a government body should sponsor a religious activity but then set no limits on it or its content. Indeed, just a little later, such restrictions are applied, “Absent a pattern of prayers that over time denigrate, proselytize, or betray an impermissible government purpose, a challenge based solely on the content of a particular prayer will not likely establish a constitutional violation.” What exactly constitutes a pattern? Wouldn’t courts be asked to “act as supervisors and censors of religious speech” in making such determinations?

    “The relevant constraint derives from the prayer’s place at the opening of legislative sessions, where it is meant to lend gravity to the occasion and reflect values long part of the Nation’s heritage. From the Nation’s earliest days, invocations have been addressed to assemblies comprising many different creeds, striving for the idea that people of many faiths may be united in a community of tolerance and devotion, even if they disagree as to religious doctrine.”

    We are talking about monthly town board meetings of a small to medium sized city. How much gravity can there be to such an occasion and the issues they are likely to be discussing? What happened from the Nation’s earliest days is beside the point, the practice in Greece dates only back to 1999. The Court studiously ignores the potential for abuse it is opening the door to. Look at the radically unequal country the Court has been creating in cases like McCutheon. How does this square with its invocation of a “community of tolerance and devotion”? And where exactly do non-believers fit into any of this?

    “a fact-sensitive inquiry that considers both the setting in which the prayer arises and the audience to whom it is directed shows that the town is not coercing its citizens to engage in a religious observance.”

    although the audience may be called upon to stand or bow their heads.

    “The prayer opportunity is evaluated against the backdrop of a historical practice showing that prayer has become part of the Nation’s heritage and tradition.”

    Of course, slavery was also for a long time part of the Nation’s heritage and tradition. I use this example simply to point out the dodge being used. A place in the nation’s heritage and tradition implies that an activity is commonly accepted, but prayer, where and how it occurs, is quite contentious. It does not meet this test.

    “It is presumed that the reasonable observer is acquainted with this tradition and understands that its purposes are to lend gravity to public proceedings and to acknowledge the place religion holds in the lives of many private citizens.”

    Why should a public meeting dealing perforce with non-religious issues need to make such an acknowledgement and do so at the start of all of its meetings?

    “Furthermore, the principal audience for these invocations is not the public, but the lawmakers themselves.”

    And yet the meeting is public and so the audience is clearly not just the lawmakers themselves. If it were, why would the public be asked to stand or bow their heads?

    “And those lawmakers did not direct the public to participate, single out dissidents for opprobrium, or indicate that their decisions might be influenced by a person’s acquiescence in the prayer opportunity.”

    For the first part, see the comment just made. For the second, what evidence is there that lawmakers have not been influenced by those refusing to participate in their religious ceremonies? The fact is we just don’t know. We do know that it is human nature for people to view like-minded persons more favorably. So why condone a religious test to this end?

    “Respondents claim that the prayers gave them offense and made them feel excluded and disrespected, but offense does not equate to coercion.”

    Another empty statement. It is coercive both because public pressure is being applied for those in the audience to participate in the prayer by standing up or bowing their heads and because of their perception that refusal to join in could adversely affect their business with the town board.

    All in all this is a bone the Court is throwing to movement conservatives. It effectively gives them control of religious demonstrations at the beginning of public meetings in many parts of the country.

    1. James Levy

      What’s scares me most is not that these men are liars, but that they are such second-rate liars and obvious political hacks. When Tawney wrote Dred Scott I think he was cruel and blinkered, but he had an argument and I think he believed it. Our Supremes today are cruel and blinkered, but they are also fatuous and cynical in a way Tawney was not. If you read the Constitution, the basic facts that no State religion was established, that one can affirm oaths, that God is never mentioned, and that no religious test of office was permissible unequivocally indicates that the Founders, whom these guys ostensibly worship, had no intention that government and religion be intertwined. On some level Kennedy et al. have to know this. But they don’t give a shit. They are party hacks and ideologue simpletons. That the “serious” press and academics pretend that they are bright, “principled” people is the biggest joke of all. These decisions are not “mistakes”; they are a party political campaign to remake the laws to the benefit of the rich and Christian bigots, irrespective of what the Constitution says.

      1. FederalismForever

        You’re over-reacting. Kennedy’s opinion (whatever its literary merits) embraces a view that draws on a deep tradition in American history. When the War of 1812 began, President James Madison announced a national day of prayer and fasting, and I think he knew a thing or two about what the Establishment Clause allows. It is only during the last 75 years or so that have we seen a fanatical attempt by some to completely eliminate every last reference to God or any higher power from all areas of public life and public discourse.

        Slavery is NOT analogous. Although slavery also was a part of American history, the two provisions in the original Constitution that implicitly allowed it – the 3/5 clause and the Fugitive Slave clause – are no longer operative thanks to the 14th Amendment.

        Also, Roger Taney (not “Tawney”) was a far greater scoundrel than any of today’s SCOTUS Justices. He and President Buchanan were in cahoots about how the Dred Scott opinion should be written – a degree of involvement by the President that clearly violates rules of judicial ethics.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          So, what are you saying? Does the Constitution require separation of church and state or not? Are there “degrees” of this separation as determined by “tradition,” local “preference” or judicial ideology?

          And please answer Hugh’s question–Where do non-believers fit into all of this?

          1. dearieme

            “Does the Constitution require separation of church and state or not?” Not: it says no such thing.

        2. James Levy

          Please pardon me for spelling Taney’s name phonetically–I know how it was pronounced but had forgotten how it was written.

          The Executive Branch has been screwing with the Constitution since Marbury. In fact, Madison was in on that. I was not directly comparing the current situation to slavery, just the fact that I believe Taney was an honest and consistent bigot, while Bush v. Gore proved that Scalia and Thomas are unprincipled shits. You failed to address the points I raised about concrete language in the Constitution related to religion, falling back on “tradition”, which is nice but too tied to the dominance of Protestant Christianity for my taste. I would ask a simple question: what place does Christian prayer have at a government meeting? If not to legitimate and privilege a specific religious tradition, why is it there?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Speaking of the Executive Branch, it will be easier for it to be even more powerful if Congress no longer sets budgets under ‘government is not a household.’

            Certainly, the Supreme Court has little say in how much or how little the government spends.

            The Executive Branch is the one doing 99.99% of the actual spending, and Congress now has no ‘no money’ excuse to deny any request, under the ‘not a household’ doctrine.

            So, when we say the government is not a household, we are practically just saying the Executive Branch is not a household.

          2. FederalismForever

            It seems Madison was a far stronger proponent of rigid church-state separation than I thought, and even came to regret his two proclamations calling for days of fasting and prayer:
            So, I concede that point. Even so, there is something off-putting about the tone of some who fanatically try to scrub all references to anything remotely religious – whether in content or origin – from all aspects of our public life. For these people, the display of a creche on public property during Christmas season (oops! I should have said ‘holiday season’) sends them into a near frenzy – a reaction that “bristles with hostility to all things religious” (as Rehnquist put it).

            1. James Levy

              I don’t happen to be one of those people. But there are appropriate places for such activities. There is at least one church in every town in America. There are public parks and town squares. There are private shops, malls, and restaurants. There are specific holidays to be commemorated at appropriate places and times. These are not places or instances where government business is done and public policy formulated. There is a time and a place for everything. Government forums are, in my opinion, not a good place to bring in religious observances.

      2. Banger

        I wouldn’t call them all simpletons–certainly Scalia and Thomas are not merely hacks but fanatics. Thomas, I believe, brought up the relevant fact that the Constitution forbids Congress to create a state religion but the Constitution, as some scholars believe, says nothing about allowing the states to create a state religion.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Such as football. Thus the state financing of its temples … errr, stadia.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Am I mistaken to believe the state religion is the cult of Mammon?

        2. Earendel

          My understanding is that some states had established religions at the time of the Constitution’s ratification. If so, it does seem strange to say the establishment clause governs state behavior. And since local governments are basically state-established entities, the logic would hold the same rules apply there.

      3. allcoppedout

        This problem of MSM positive gloss is endemic James. I don’t want to take a miserable stance towards others, but the lack of real argument in the cacophony of well-dressed, pretty-people speak sickens me. The lie is they have anything to say.

    2. dearieme

      “I have nothing for or against such public instances of prayer as long as they are brief, non-sectarian and ecumenical in tone and content and they do not require any active participation by those attending.” It’s your country, not mine, but if I were an American I’d be dead against such activities. You open the door to God-knows-what when you allow this; your constitution can perfectly well be read to prohibit it, and that’s the wisest reading to make.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Prayer is so often flippant. People will pray for anything. Unless one knows in advance precisely what the public words of a prayer will be they are opening themselves up to prayer for anything. Just wait and watch for the first “praise be to allah”…or like in Ukraine for the fascists to lead some sort of prayer for the annihilation of the rest in the room/country. If that happens does a citizen get to stand up and amend the original prayer?

        I don’t think the supremes want to hear the prayer I could say for them right now.

        Always remember Kennedy was the Democrats answer to Bork.

      2. Eureka Springs

        “I have nothing for or against such public instances of prayer as long as they are brief, non-sectarian and ecumenical in tone and content and they do not require any active participation by those attending.”

        How does Praise be to Allah sound to you? I’m sure its quite ecumenical to over a billion folks out there.

        Can you imagine what the US/Ukrainian fascists are praying for in public meetings these days?

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if praying to Mammom for more money betrays an impermissible government purpose?

  5. diptherio

    Re: DeBlasio’s plan for NYC affordable housing.

    One criticism I heard at the Alt. Banking working group meeting a few weeks ago, coming from both shelter and public housing residents, is that DeBlasio has yet to get input from any of the people who will be living in these units; i.e. the poor don’t get a say in their own housing.

    But why would they, right? They’re poor! Obviously, it’s only people who have “made it” in the world who are allowed to have ideas about affordable housing. Us po’ folks are just here as objects for the technocrats to move around and manipulate. You wouldn’t ask a poor person about affordable housing anymore than you’d ask a cow about barn construction…or at least that seems to be the unspoken assumption in our society.

    1. allcoppedout

      I even know how to send experts to ask poor people what they want and write reports ignoring it all.

  6. Brindle

    re: Ukraine

    Pretty obvious that the Russian FM Lavrov simply a more competent and principled diplomat than the buffoonish and lying Kerry.


    “I’m quoting to you an announcement made by NATO’s ministers of defense this past February, in which they demanded that the army not be allowed to interfere in the political process, and [further] demanded that the army remain neutral. That was when the fully valid president was Viktor Yanukovich,” he said.

    But now the leadership of the EU has changed their tune, saying that Kiev “has every right to use the army to carry out the so-called anti-terrorist operation, and that all this is justified because the state has a monopoly on the use of force.”

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Whilst you may back away from calling a spade a spade, I will not, to put it bluntly, the EU, NATO, the USA and the UK are duplicitous lying bastards as far as the Ukraine is concerned – actually, they are duplicitous lying bastards full stop – so how any one can believe a word that emanates from these corrupted institutions is beyond me – thankfully, unlike 10 years ago, we are no longer reliant on the MSM that does its masters bidding on a daily basis.

      So, lets call a spade a spade and I trust I do just this?

      1. Banger

        Of course they are all that because political culture has become, in the West, strictly Machiavellian. However the lying bastards are not united and the neocon cabal that started this whole series of events (or at least mined it) is now, once again, on the outs, and the media is backing off of reporting on the crisis. The ball is in the neocon court and they are isolated–I’m not sure they can do much at this time to stir up general war (their goal is always chaos and fragmentation).

        1. Jackrabbit

          . . . the neocon cabal that started this whole series of events (or at least mined it) is now, once again, on the outs, and the media is backing off of reporting on the crisis. The ball is in the neocon court . . .
          If the neocons are “on the outs” why is the ball in their court?

          . . . their goal is always chaos and fragmentation.”
          This is misleading or a misunderstanding of neocons. When they foment “chaos and fragmentation”, the goal is to further larger interests.

          1. Banger

            They can always get back in, you know if they take more drastic measures–but for the moment they are in retreat and have to regroup.

      2. Brindle

        “we are no longer reliant on the MSM ”

        Getting reports from those on the ground in Odessa and E. Ukraine, mostly through twitter, has given me a window that the Western MSM does not allow.

      3. allcoppedout

        You say this from a country in which most of our fellows have no memory of the Suez Crisis and who were in ‘bomb Rio’ mode as soon as Thatcher flashed an aircraft carrier at us. It’s all true (that it’s all lies), but this doesn’t seem to matter.

    2. Synopticist

      Kerry…He also commended Ukrainians for having shown “remarkable restraint.”
      “They have been committed to move their country forward through nonviolence,” he said.

      Oh jeez this guy, what an idiot. They’re fighting already.

      The war in eastern Ukraine has basically started, and it’s going to be very hard to stop.

  7. diptherio

    Thanks for the link to the Poverty is not “complex” article. Rumplestatskin hits the nail on the head. People are poor because they lack money/access to resources. Provide adequate money/resources to those without and you end poverty, pure and simple. The problem is our inability to treat the rest of our human family like…family.

    1. Eeyores enigma

      Right on Dipster – In truth they are not being “given” anything. Every human living thing on the planet deserves the right to food, shelter, education, and healthcare and that is what government exists for. Our government exists to make sure that all of those things are withheld until everyone jumps through hoops for the wealthy chosen few.

    2. jrs

      Yea but the family stuff is weird. There’s really noone I’d trust less to be financial responsible or to take any responsibility at any level for their own lives than my birth family. Toward strangers I know nothing about, I can assume the best. But toward family I SIMPLY KNOW TOO MUCH, and I know they don’t try.

  8. Banger

    Ha, ha, ha–it looks like what I’ve been sensing this week may turn out to be true. The Ministry of Truth has been backing off of the Putin-is-Hitler road to war scenario because the realists in the intelligence agencies and even State have given their assessments to the media and the President and I suspect the meeting with Merkel did not go well–I suspect she told the President that Ukraine was a tar baby situation and the West should back off. Nuland and her cabal of creeps are on the outs and the realists have probably won.

    The New Republic piece “Why Trying to ‘Win’ Ukraine Could Lead to Its Collapse” kind of makes it official since it is usually the rag that reflects the opinion of Democratic Party neocon fellow travelers. Somebody in the world of intel came in and probably did what is rare in Washington, gave a briefing on the history of Ukraine and noted that it is an artificial state created by the German General Staff in WWI and, in time, became a Soviet Republic with little independent power so the likelihood of Ukraine holding together is slight in the face of this crisis and some kind of federation will have to be established.

    This is a solid defeat of the three witches that (Nuland, Clinton, Power) and their three ghouls Brennan, Biden, McCain (sorry Kerry doesn’t count–he just goes along to get along). While these people are great at power-tripping they are ignorant of history and realpolitik because they are fanatics. Lavrov and his staff have been running circles around this band of ideologues for some time and there’s no reason why this won’t continue and the grey eminences behind the Washington power structure look like they’ve made their decisision, in part, because all this hassle is ultimately bad for business. They’ll manage to salvage the notion that Russia is a “threat” and up the military budget so the gaggle of hungry contractors can be fed their usual diet and that’ll be the end of it and we can focus on celebrity dramas, summer movies, and the election.

    One caveat–false flag events are still possible–I’m sure they are going on in Ukraine at the moment in a small way as fanatical elements of the black/covert operation community may be playing their own games (always a problem when you have secretive organizations).

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘This is a solid defeat of the three witches (Nuland, Clinton, Power) and their three ghouls Brennan, Biden, McCain.They’ll manage to salvage the notion that Russia is a “threat” and up the military budget …

      Quite right. And so the ‘Putin is Hitler’ Clintons still make money off of this shambles, win, lose or quagmire.

      Hundred-millionaires for peace and strength!

    2. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Great stuff as usual, was only writing a few hours ago about the last serious and ethical Labour political we had, one Robin Cook, now sadly dead, but one of only a few individuals to stand up to both the neoliberals and neoconservatives within Labour’s ranks.

      I’m reminded that Harold Wilson in 1994-1970 did everything he could to keep the UK out of Vietnam, whilst remaining buddies with the USA, is it not a shame that that devil Tony Blair could not follow this more principled and nuanced stance, rather than jump into bed with the neocons – a truly despicable man and one I’m ashamed to say I helped elect as the Labour Party leader – so even I have blood on my hands – no more though and never again is my motto, once bitten, twice shy as we say in the UK.

      1. susan the other

        Wilson was 1964-1970, right? And McMillan was voted out in a deluge. I always suspected, because is read various books implying it, that there was a conspiracy to get the US into SE Asia to protect UK/French interests and some of the later analysis said this was purely practical – so that our allies could pay back their war debt. So venality ruled. It’s hard to leave behind a way of life, a way of doing things, especially if it gives you an obscene advantage. Like Imperialism. And like Corporate Capitalism. And blahblablah. As Frank Zappa said, We’re all assholes.

        1. allcoppedout

          The war debt was paid off under Blair – he probably did a loan deal with JP Morgan. McMillan led to an old toff Tory – Hume. Wislon’s landslide came after this. By then he was a working-class pipe smoker in public, but smoked cigars in private. Odd chap. Came back again in 1974, just in time to go cap in hand to the IMF because Civil Servants got the maths wrong. We were doing rather well, but someone put the decimal point in the wrong place.

          I like your thesis, but the US would surely have benefited more by staying out of the Suez thing, in which les Franglaises tried to steal Middle Eastern oil.

    3. Jackrabbit

      I think you are reading way too much into the New Republic article.

      The New Republic’s call for negotiations is more ploy than realist victory. This evident by their failure to mention that the US rejected Russia’s proposal of a federalized Ukraine with a neutral foreign policy. Neocons would rather have a NATO western Ukraine than a Ukraine that is neutral and heavily influenced by Russian trade ties. The only thing ‘at play’ now is east and south Ukraine.

      Neocons and their sympathizers know that stalling the separatist movement until elections can be held on May 25 that legitimize the current Ukrainian regime is the TOP PRIORITY. Calls for ‘negotiation’, for Russia to back away, etc. are all designed with this end in mind.

      Furthermore, as long as neocons/neolibs ideologues have a lock on power, the ‘realists’ will not have “won” anything. Realists make the case that 1) other countries have legitimate interests and 2) we should recognize the limits of our power. This view is fundamentally at odds with the neocons who will push overtly and covertly for supremacy.
      Once again we are at odds over the state of play between neocons and realists. Given that you have twice acknowledged that your view stems from an understanding of the struggle between these two from 10-20 years ago, I don’t understand why you persist in this fantasy. The neocons/neolibs are ideologues. Policy-makers and decision-makers at the top are virtually all sympathetic or go-along with their policies. They “won” power in 2000 but laid low in the last years of Bush and the early years of Obama.

      Again, I have to ask: where is the debate? See this discussion with two academics that remark on the fact that there is no real debate as there was in the lead-up to Iraq (especially at 9:30 and 18:30).

      A recent NYT article all but stated that the US now has a policy of regime change in Russia. We want to end Putinism. How does your “the realists have won” view comport with that?

      1. Banger

        Not quite. I become older every day. I was privy to the thinking of senior staff of the Iraq Study Group and they were in business in 2006. That was the last time I was allowed to see things from the inside. But here’s the thing, I have spent most of my life observing U.S. Foreign policy and have observed the signals and language of the internal struggles. I could be way off–but the bottom line is that the neocons are not making enough friends particularly the U.S. and European publics that have made it very clear that they don’t want more war–they can only finesse that through some kind of false-flag operation and I don’t see that happening. After the Congressional elections maybe things will change–it is also possible that the Russians might do something foolish.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Its one thing to say that the necons have ‘backed off’ and quite another to say that the realists ‘have probably won’ (as you did originally).

          The neocon anti-Russia stance almost certainly prevails and remains policy, even if they have to ‘back off’ Ukrain-centered aggressiveness.

          1. Jackrabbit

            And again, it is unlikely that the neocons/neolibs have actually ‘backed off’ anything.

        2. VietnamVet

          We try to avoid admitting it and the media avoids discussing it but there was a corporatist coup in 2000. Ever since the USA has been ruled by a neo-liberal/neo-conservative government. So far they’ve imposed Austerity and expanded the Never Ending War across two Continents from Mali to Pakistan. This year they kicked off a Civil War in Europe. This is the first step in destabilizing a nuclear armed Russia, once again. Nobody has backed away from anything. The people don’t matter except to be exploited or used like the Jihadists in Syria or the Neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

          It will take a counter coup before the USA backs down, drops support for the Kiev Putsch, and agrees to peace in Europe with a federated neutral Ukraine.

        3. Synopticist

          There’s no support at all for an aggressive, assertive policy in Ukraine as far as I can tell, (outside the MSM of course). Try reading some of the BLT threads in the guardian or the telegraph, they’re almost total one way traffic.

          As for a false flag, don’t write off the possibilty. That massacre in Odessa the other day is extremely murky.

      2. Andrew Watts

        The corporate media will always remain a mouthpiece for the Establishment. Calling for negotiations will be seen as capitulation in neocon circles.

        You’re reading too much into what the American power elite wants compared to what they’re realistically capable of accomplishing. Washington has always maintained a desire for regime change in Russia. After the Soviet Union fell the goal was to dismember Russia into different parts.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Calling for negotiations without mentioning prior proposals or recognizing why negotiations have failed to this point seems like a ploy.

          1. Andrew Watts

            A new round of negotiations are meant to prevent an all-out civil war in Ukraine. The current situation in the country is quickly spiraling out of control. Previous diplomatic acts of political theater were not beyond the tipping point.

            “The establishment today is neocon/neolib. So if msm is reflecting their views, then . . . ?”

            The views of the Establishment are shifting. Ask yourself this important question, what if the fascists were to overthrow the current junta in Kiev? Who could possibly stop them? What does Ukraine look like in the aftermath that this occurs?

            I’m only guessing these questions are being raised in the US intelligence community. Though the deployment of FBI agents was a serious tip-off somebody in Washington was thinking this situation through.

            The neoconservatives aren’t opposed to the chaotic outcome no matter what happens. They’re Zionists and a civil war in Ukraine will spark a massive wave of Jewish immigration to Israel.

        2. Jackrabbit

          The establishment today is neocon/neolib. So if msm is reflecting their views, then . . . ?

          Have a look at Brindle’s comment above where he says:

          . . . to put it bluntly, the EU, NATO, the USA and the UK are duplicitous lying bastards as far as the Ukraine is concerned – actually, they are duplicitous lying bastards full stop – so how any one can believe a word that emanates from these corrupted institutions is beyond me – thankfully, unlike 10 years ago, we are no longer reliant on the MSM that does its masters bidding on a daily basis.

          And Banger agrees, saying:

          Of course they are all that because political culture has become, in the West, strictly Machiavellian.

    4. Andrew Watts

      Germany is probably using the whole no spying pact as a way to verbally abuse the USGov in public while denying it submissive cooperation in private. Obama jumped in pretty quickly when Merkel was asked about it during the joint-press conference.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Unbelievable that we did not hear one peep about this during the four years since O-care passed — namely, that the Romneycare pilot program was broken too:

    RomneyCare’s pioneering health insurance exchange is headed for the scrap heap. Bay State officials are taking steps this week to junk central parts of their dysfunctional health insurance exchange — the model for President Barack Obama’s health care law — and merge with the federal enrollment site

    Massachusetts has already spent $57 million on a system that never was able to enroll people with subsidies start to finish, and its failure has forced the state to enroll more than 160,000 residents in temporary Medicaid coverage — at an estimated $10 million-a-month cost.

    Massachusetts initially contracted with CGI, a massive contractor that gained notoriety for the failed rollout of As the Obama administration did, Massachusetts dropped the company earlier this year when it became clear the Connector was still substantially broken.


    It now becomes a more pointed question as to how could have sole-source contracted with CGI, while CGI’s Mass. Connector had yet to succeed in handling subsidized enrollments despite a multi-year head start.

    Something stinks in Foggy Bottom! And the clues point straight to the White House.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Then evidently I’m one of these Trolls and I post under my real name on the Guardian boards, as I do here – I don’t curtail my language either being from a working class background, as stated, we call a spade a spade, no middle-class niceness I’m afraid.

      However, the Guardian is very much part of the MSM, just look at its senior management, senior Journalists and the way they censor their boards on CIF – also, do look at the words CP Scott utters and then see how the Guardian really operates, they presently only have two decent journalists writing for them, one being George Monbiot. Check my posts out today, but you will read that the words hypocrisy and Guardian are synonymous with each other, particularly based on the fact that 99.9% of its senior staff and writers are Oxbridge types, no working class input at all I’m afraid and the paper is a shadow of its former self when I first began reading it on a daily basis in the early 80’s – best read Private Eye to see what’s happening in the UK.

    2. Jackrabbit

      There have been many times in Guardian comments that the Guardian is called out for slanting the news or not providing an opportunity to comment on certain stories.

      Nevertheless, the Guardian seems to have a very active comments section. And I wonder if that’s due to their having published the Snowden material.

    3. Andrew Watts

      The Kremlin doesn’t need to deploy trolls as it’s simply not needed. Most decent people are going to be riled up when the US/UK is currently supporting a fascist junta in Kiev who believe that the wrong side won World War II and the Final Solution was tragically unable to finish it’s good works. They now have the blood of innocent people on their hands who were unarmed and fleeing from confrontation. After they were almost burned alive the survivors were either beaten to death or imprisoned.

      How is calling an anti-pogrom viewpoint a “pro-Kremlin stance” not considered trolling?

    4. vidimi

      but the guardian can be accused of being a neo-con bastion. a lot of upset people in the comments.

    5. Synopticist

      There are Russian trolls who continually post comments which support the Kremlin line, true.
      But the majority of the posts are genuine, and the great majority of the country wants nothing to do with a tough policy on Ukraine.

      The MSM, annd MI6 which tends to direct it’s foreign reporting, is deeply pissed off that their losing traction. It happened over \Syria, and it’s happening now over Ukraine, and they f*ckin hate it.

  10. RanDomino

    “The U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),”
    I’m not going to say “I told you so” but only because I never actually told Chris Hedges so. I suppose I did tell the rest of you so, though, so I told YOU so, although I hope none of you were ever under any illusion that the lawsuit would go anywhere. Anyway
    More important is this infantile notion that pwogwessives seem to have that 1) we can simply “take back” the government and 2) the government was ever “ours” in the first place. The capitalism/State system is not “broken”; it’s working exactly as it always has and exactly as intended.
    Hedges’ solution? The same rotting corpse of a “mass movement” like it’s 19fucking67. Would someone PLEASE give this jackass a copy of “The Anti-Mass: Methods of Organizing for Collectives”? Here, I’ll make it easy:
    Or just expose his CIA credentials already? Seriously, is there anyone who’s done more than him to make the entire population of well-meaning privileged middle-class white liberal intellectuals feel completely powerless and hopeless? Okay, maybe calling him CIA is unfair, but he’s either malevolent or incompetent- I won’t deny the possibility that his true motivation is a Christian desire to be “right” rather than effective, or even to be right AND ineffective, since the more you suffer the better your chances of getting into Heaven.

    1. Banger

      You are being unfair. He is a product of a particular lineage and if you have read his books as I have you’d see his extraordinary insights into American society and the power structure. I don’t agree with him in several areas but he seems to be a good guy. I think you’re right about the weakness of the left as well as the lack of militancy and organization.

      1. Brian

        Chris Hedges harkens back to the type of person our justices of the supreme court were like in times past. Willing to listen to reason, willing to engage, but also one that understands the constitution itself is not mutable to undo, when designed to be added to in order to work for the citizens.

    2. susan the other

      I have those same reactions to Chris Hedges. But he is right on one simple point. Capitalism was the problem as it was practiced by and for big corporations. It is still the problem as it is practiced as a direct link for socialism for the rich; crumbs for everyone else. And as a system that must grow even though it will be destroyed by growth. So it is too late for Hedges to pontificate that capitalism is the problem and must be stopped because all the evidence is that it is has already self-destructed. So what is Hedges even saying here? The little quote from George Orwell to the effect that capitalism and democracy always lead to fascism and you can’t get rid of fascism if you don’t get rid of capitalism is telling because socialism has many of the same problems. Our only alternative is environmentalism. Like Steve Keen basing an economic theory on energy and entropy as the basic reality – Environmentalism would have a basis in what is actually possible as opposed to what is flat-out deception. Then, ideally, we wouldn’t need any more messiahs.

      1. jrs

        Well capitalism WOULD HAVE self destructed in 2008 minus massive bailouts. But I suppose an absolute safety net for capital is part of “capitalism” too (not of course of all markets but ..).

      2. allcoppedout

        Capitalism is a nonsense because of money. Money is only real if we let it be. We can’t say no to the environment in the same way, though it is also socially constructed with very little wilderness left. I agree with Susan without hesitation and want debate on what environmentalism really means and entails. I’ll hazard here it entails the end of money as we have known it and the emergence of modular forms, including the end of private property in money (this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy privacy).

        The first questions involve what we have got and how to share it and control structured freedom. Economics doesn’t start here and rules itself out as a science (instead it’s religious noise in conventions and holy text – usually stripped of what Beard offers). My guess is the situation is so bad that, if we don’t make a radical shift now, we face the kind of genocides our history is littered with. Current politics and economics strike me as (darkly) based in staying ahead to be able to be on the right side of the killing.

        1. RanDomino

          Money is real because armed thugs will come kick you out of your house if you don’t give them several thousand periodically.

          1. allcoppedout

            Nietzsche said similar Ran. And what did any of us do to be born with less than others?

    3. jrs

      He could be CIA. But Hedges has made the point repeatedly that his philosophy is you fight even if the fight is hopeless. So maybe he never expected to win at all. However there is A win in what he has done – a PR one. Ok lots of people already dislike plenty of supreme court decisions (like giving the whole country away to the highest bider through Citizens United etc.) But there is a kind of absolute clarity in the statement sent by their rejecting the Hedges case that is hard to beat. A very basic 5th (and 1st) ammendment case that they won’t take (even though they willing keep taking cases to dump more and more money into bought out democracy). The most basic protections in the bill of rights, that they are supposed to be the last line of defense against and they won’t take it. Ok you and I are already this cynical (but I wasn’t THIS cynical even 2 years ago) but the justices are now laid barely for anyone willing to think and be aware. The system is openly and near completely corrupt.

      As for fighting for what is right even if the odds are overwhelmingly against you, yes that’s fine, but isn’t it about time the forces for anything decent in the world (the environment, sane economics which is based on the environment, anti-empire, peace etc.) actually had some VICTORIES? Not just martyr fights?

      Actually I don’t think Hedges is the worst for making well-meaning privileged middle-class white liberal intellectuals feel completely powerless and hopeless. I think MOST progressive news/blog sites are actually much much worse. I like Hedges as he has quite a lot of passion and fire in him at least, and most progressive sites really are just another list of how aweful things are, at least Hedges acts the part of rightous rage whereas most progressive sites are just despair. So there’s a lot of people a lot more guilty than Hedges for making people feel powerless and hopeless. But Hedges at the same time may not be the answer either. His call for a mass movement seems like grasping at straws but pretty much NO progressive sites have better ideas. I’ll read your link sometimes though. If it’s just preaching local actions that make no difference I’m about as fed up with that philosophy as I can bare as well. I mean I’m really in many ways disgusted with the localists, even though I agree some changes can be made there, but as it’s actually practiced by the white middle class people that preach it it’s mostly an excuse for something else entirely.

      1. RanDomino

        You might be interested in hearing about the Seattle Solidarity Organization. They apply strategies and tactics learned in environmental and political protests to extremely local-scale fights, primarily against landlords and franchise businesses, in order to try to string up a series of victories to build credibility and capacity gradually. The wins are usually only a few hundred or thousand dollars, but the win rate is around seventy or eighty percent. They’ve been at it for almost a decade and the model is starting to be picked up in other cities.
        This is how to “build a movement”. I never hesitate to remind people that it took eighty years of work to build up to the point of the Spanish Revolution in 1936. There are no shortcuts; neglecting the local scale in order to make changes on a national scale is like trying to read a book by skipping right to the last page.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Note: Lambert had a post (a week or so ago) about activist successes in Maine.

          People have been successful organizing on specific, often local, issues. Scaling that up is difficult but not inconceivable.

  11. Brian

    Dogs, laughing. Yes. I have seen dogs act like Lucy toward Charlie Brown. They will give you back the ball, but if you dally, they will take it back from you just as you try to kick it. Yes, they will keep bringing it back too.

  12. Jackrabbit

    I think the Title IX investigation of sexual assault on colleges is a good example of what Lambert talked of regarding activists making change.

    People CAN change things when they organize.

    Also, it seems to me that the “rape culture” that these women complain of is evident in public policy.

  13. Cal

    Ocwen and the financial big players are not at all threatened by Sirrah Alamak.

    “There have been good reports about the monitor resolving problems on individual cases,” says Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition. “But we would love to see the Attorney General more involved.”

    Forget it, except for photogenic cases that allow her to grandstand in specific select “communities”, the MochaDiva isn’t interested. She’s still waiting for that call from the White House for a cabinet position.

    1. rich

      why should they be??????

      Crisis of Confidence in U.S. Justice Department Grows

      Last Wednesday, Covington & Burling announced it was hiring Mythili Raman, the woman who became head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division when Breuer stepped down. Raman will be getting something of a “welcome home” greeting at Covington.

      In addition to Breuer, according to the American Bar Association Journal, Raman will be joining former Justice Department colleagues Steven Fagell, former deputy chief of staff at the criminal division; Jim Garland, former deputy chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Holder; and Dan Suleiman, former deputy chief of staff to Breuer.

      Raman is said to have intimate knowledge of the Justice Department’s criminal investigations of Wall Street banks for Libor wrongdoing as well as its more recent investigations over the rigging of foreign currency exchange rates. That knowledge is a valuable commodity at a law firm representing Wall Street.

  14. I spooge on your stars and stripes

    Washington’s right. The constitution’s gone. It’s not coming back. Rather than bitching about it, forward-thinking advocates are going over the head of this failed state to the civilized world. Even the timid ACLU is taking detainees’ petitions not to bullshit CIA-run US courts but to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

    There’s a reason why no state has used the US constition as a model for a hundred years. It was obsolete long before it got revoked. Who would settle for hind-tit constitutional crap when you can and do have this,

    There’s a simple path to knocking over this regime and replacing it. It integrates RanDominos bottom-up stuff and beefs it up with internationalism from below (and from above and from all levels, in fact.) The wheels are turning now. When a state goes off the rails, the world knows what to do. They do it all the time. The US government’s destructive capacity won’t save it. When we dismantled South Africa it had nukes. When we dismantled the USSR it had nukes. When we dismantle the USA, it’s got nukes, So?

    In the future we will not be living in the USA. It will be gone.

  15. Jackrabbit

    IMF Report on Ukraine

    Last week some critics of US/West-backed Ukrainian coup misinterpreted an IMF Report on Ukraine that was released when the IMF’s $17billion Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) for Ukraine was announced. Interpretations of this passage:

    A long-lasting disruption of relations with Russia that depresses exports, investment, and growth, or a loss of economic control over the East that reduces budget revenue would require a significant recalibration of the program and additional financing, including from Ukraine’s bilateral partners.

    varied widely:

    Which, roughly translated, appears to mean go to war with pro-Russian forces (and thus Russia itself if Putin sees his apparent countrymen in trouble) or you don’t get your money!

    Translation: “Dear oligarchs, screw up the relations with Russia and lose the east and you will get more free money.”
    Ukraine: IMF – Lose the East, Get more money

    Such sensationalism and distortions are simply not helpful. And they are not necessary because a plain reading of the IMF passage (paragraph 66 under the heading “Staff Appraisal”) is enough to confirm what a mess the neocons have got us into. Whether via separatist referendum or civil war, the cost of supporting the Ukrainian coup is set to skyrocket. And EU countries are not well positioned to bear this burden (they are already experiencing high deficits/debt loads and high unemployment). Ukraine seems likely to join Greece as an economic basket case and embarrassment. And what nation(s) among our vaunted ‘democracies’ voted to bear these costs?

    The US could’ve backed away from this mess as late as a few weeks ago when the Russians proposed a federalized and neutral Ukraine. They didn’t. The neocons would rather see western Ukraine in NATO – even at an exorbitantly high cost – than a Ukraine that is not fully in the Western orbit. In addition to the economic costs, this stance has further pushed Russia and China closer and hurt US/Western credibility at a time when the world was already angered by NSA spying.

    But ideologues don’t care about the costs to others as long as they advance their interests. Russia is standing in the way of neocons that want to end the Iranian nuclear energy program – and a key part of that is toppling Assad in Syria. And increased tensions with Russia and China probably help Obama’s neolibs to ‘sell’ Obamatrade.

    This is the economic and political price we pay for an undemocratic, ‘vote with your money’ political system that allows special interests to gain undue influence.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Re the concluding sentence of “Trying to ‘Win’ Ukraine Could Lead to Its Collapse” in today’s NC Links: … “At this stage of the crisis, only by shifting the narrative to a conversation about what can be done to ensure Ukraine emerges as a viable country is there any real chance to avoid catastrophe.”

      I hope it is not so, but there is a view based upon a lengthy and substantive body of historical evidence that this is in fact a primary objective. The Why’s are spelled out in the conclusion to this article:

      Sadly, this w/b consistent with your own conclusion above.

  16. Jim Haygood

    A new trophy for the Teleprompter-in-Chief to display next to his Drone Laureate award:

    Obama visits Los Angeles on Wednesday to receive a humanitarian award from Steven Spielberg.

    Obama will be honored at the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation, a Holocaust museum founded by the Hollywood director after he made Schindler’s List.

    Obama will receive the institute’s highest honor, the Ambassador for Humanity Award, for his “global efforts to protect human rights, his commitment to education and expanding educational technology, and his work advancing opportunities for all people.”

    ‘Human rights.’ LOL, WUT?

    1. jrs

      Yes but the “a larger campaign by anonymous street artists who are filling cities with political messages that oppose the administration” just SCREAMS Republican ASTROTURF. Since when do street artist have that kind of money, isn’t the lack of such why they usually do street are (so now the RNC is radical street art I guess?). I think the 99s SHOULD fund their own political protests and movements, but that’s far from thinking these things just suddenly appear with no explaination or accounting trail whatsoever.

      It kind of explains why the criques are so lame, teleprompters instead of drones in the background, who the heck really cares about teleprompters anyway? (all presidents are heavily packed products) The humanitarian obscenity that Obama is has nothing to do with teleprompters (but much to do with drones, torture etc.). Drone ads would not only be a powerful critique but would be educational (to the completely politically unaware, the O bots are mostly beyond being able to learn), teleprompter ads not so much so.

      “Images with the president golfing and the headline “subpar” appeared in various cities throughout the PGA tour”
      Nor do I care about this because I don’t think Obama actually is sub par, I think he’s par for the course if you will, for a leader of the murdering U.S. empire security state at this point in time.

    2. ran

      “his work advancing opportunities for all people”.

      comedy gold that.

      no doubt he’s advancing opportunities for thousands of civilians to be blown to a red mist with his flying murder drones in despicable and criminal “signature” and “double-tap” strikes.

  17. Jim

    The on-going tragedy in the thinking of the remnants of what passes for the modern left in the West is contained in the claim of Chris Hedges that “…corporate capitalists now unchecked by state power and dismissive of the popular will do not see the fires they are igniting. Hedges goes on to add that “…it is our job to wrest government back.”

    But today the strategic goal must be the dismantlement of both Big Capital and Big Surveillance State.

    To believe that Big State can somehow still be an autonomous instrument of liberation is an act of outmoded ideological blindness(partially caused by the absence of any theory of the State) which ignores/downplays the reality of intimate public sector/private sector networks of cooperation in our contemporary structure of power.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Capitalism is not monolithic.

      Neither is government. So, a blank check to spend as much as the government wants is not to recognize its different flavors.

  18. john c. halasz

    The Vox EU piece on corporate leverage is awful. It doesn’t occur to the authors that public sector debt is private sector savings and thus perhaps far from “crowding out” corporate debt, it might actually allow them not to need debt, (because of higher private sector earnings, which support profits). Duh?

    1. susan the other

      I thought so too. It went against all of the insights about money that we have read in the last 5 years as if none of it had any significance. It was bizarre.

    2. allcoppedout

      Burglars rarely steal things so they can sit about looking at it. They fence the stuff for cash to make large with or pay off their drug-dealer. I sense economics misses just how libidinous money is and the extent first users have cut out the need to go burgling. They still just want the cash to go large with and don’t care where it is borrowed from (or the thin air it is created in) as long as they get the excess cash free of burgled origin. Most of the debt is unnecessary, other than to hide the burgling. This used to be hidden in restrictive practices like needing a licence to buy wheat at the docks by the bushel. This bushel was much bigger than the bushels sold to public mug punters, who paid less per bushel than the dock price, yet with the original licensed buyer making massive profit.

      Strange that money, which is always entries here and entries there, so soon leaves no trail. We could do this very differently and I believe the barrier to this is basically fear of theft – odd as we have given the money system up to thieves. You see, we could deploy money world-wide to resource sensible projects – big green, little green, homes – on the basis of sensible need. Instead, we entrust it to libidinal thieves who need large cuts to make large with. Money is its use. Our lack of imagination of this beggars belief and most people.

      It would be good to see something virtual on what money could be.

  19. Trinity River

    How Memory Speaks
    Some days I cannot handle what you post, Yves. I skimmed the beginning, got bored and almost . . .didn’t finish this piece. Now I wonder if I’ve heard enough for a lifetime. If no one else posts, perhaps you should post it another day.

    1. financial matters

      The Pope seems to be the real deal and might resonate well with David Graeber. :)

      “The role of today’s labor priest presents a different dynamic than those of the 1930s and ’40s, said Fr. Clete Kiley, the initiative’s founder. No longer are the priests the leaders, but the workers and organizers themselves.

      “It’s the folks who lead this, and we’re servants. We’re there to help in any way we can be in solidarity. … That’s the right role for priests in this,” he told NCR.

      “He’s supposed to get two CAT scans a year, and those two CAT scans would total my entire income for the year out of pocket, and we can’t afford that,” she said.”

      1. Vatch

        I agree that the current pope is an improvement over his recent predecessors. However, I won’t really be impressed until he removes the Catholic prohibition against contraception. Anyone who is really serious about fighting poverty must support people’s right to effective birth control. It’s a lot easier for a low income family to pay their expenses when they only have one or two children than it is when they have four or five.

        1. savedbyirony

          He can’t actually remove it himself, one has to get it past the CDF and other Bishops/Cardinals (I mean, practically speaking, one needs allies) -not an easy proposition. However, Francis did have the Vatican send out a survey on “the family” intended for all catholics to take on which questions about contraception and the laity’s practices were included. (A survey which many, many Bishops then proceeded to attempt to bury and/or selectively distribute.) While i’ve followed the catholic church for far too long to expect institutionalised change on this (we came very close back in the 70’s), the hierarchy knows the vast majority of catholics use contraception and they think the official church teachings are philosophically wrong, overly intrusive and irresponsible. So, we have a synod of Bishops and others coming up this Fall to look at this survey’s results and the church’s teachings on “the family” and how the greater catholic church actually thinks and behaves. Maybe, maybe the Ol’ Boys club will shift a little on contraception. But no matter what they do, i don’t see the laity becoming any less inclined to go right on using them and advocationg for their availabilty in societies. And i don’t see Francis leading the way in trying to get the clerical troops to push the prohibitions. However, i agree that still isn’t enough because enterprising Bishops/catholics are too often all ready to use the prohibitions in political manuevering which greatly hurts the poor and sick throughout the world.

          1. Vatch

            Hi savedbyirony. You said:

            the hierarchy knows the vast majority of catholics use contraception and they think the official church teachings are philosophically wrong,

            That’s true in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and portions of Latin America. It’s not true in many parts of Latin America or in the Philippines or in Africa (yes, there are Catholics in Africa).

            Can’t the pope invoke papal infallibility? Does’t he have the authority to override the hierarchy? I don’t think the conservatism of the hierarchy is a valid excuse for inaction on this important issue.

            1. savedbyirony

              While it’s true that western country catholics use contraceptions more, i think a lot of that has to do with availability, not choice. For example, the Philippines just recently had a vote on making contraception more available thru public health care and it passed with the Bishops there (for a catholic bishops) being quite contained over the issue. However, what you are saying is true in the general perception of things and that is why that survey was both so threatening to the status quo and potentially helpful for change.

              And, frankly, no, invoking infallibility (a much mis-understood concept in the c. church and the issue of the use of contraception wouldn’t fall under what “infallibility” could speak to) would not work. IF anyone wants to change doctrine, even a Pope, he better have the CDF and plenty of scholarly and institutional allies. And the CDF (arguably the most powerful Office in the C. church) is def. not in Francis’ camp. It’s run by a complete Benedict man and already regularly issuing pronouncements that attempt to counter-act the direction Francis appears to be trying to move the church in.

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