Links 6/23/14

Streaming Eagles Times

A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It PolicyMic

Selling the family silver Reserved Place (CL)

Finally! Big Investors Declare War on Big Banks Fiscal Times (Howard Beale). I hate to link to Pete Peterson’s house organ, but since it’s David Dayen….

The Case of the Missing White-Collar Criminal Bloomberg. “…indiscriminate resentment toward ‘bankers’ [sic] as a class…”

Central banks set to cut debt holdings FT

China Manufacturing Gauge Climbs in Sign of Pickup Bloomberg

China scandal weighs on iron ore price Sidney Morning Herald (EU).

After port fraud, China’s vast warehouse sector under scrutiny Reuters

The Death of the American Mall Guardian


ACA Profile: Dr. Ted Roberto transitioning to electronic records Daily Record

Two from Stark County glad they signed up for Obamacare Canton Repository. Above is Gannet, this is Gatehouse.

Hillary Clinton forgets the ’90s: Our latest gilded age and our latest phony populists Thomas Frank, Salon. The Clinton administration as another bait-and-switch.

Redfin: D.C.’s Petworth is hottest area in U.S. for house flipping WaPo. Froth.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Ex-NSA Chief Pitches Banks Costly Advice on Cyber-Attacks Bloomberg

Wikileaks brings much-needed scrutiny to secret trade talks The Conversation


Putin, Ukraine leader back talks to end eastern revolt AFP

Ukraine crisis: Fighting continues despite ceasefire CBC

Riot police deployed in Kiev as hundreds of masked pro-Ukraine activists march on monastery to stop pro-Russians holding their own rally Daily Mail

Bulgaria rushes to nationalise politically-connected bank FT

‘We Gave the Americans a B*** J**,’ Got Nothing, Says Polish Foreign Minister Newsweek

Transitioning to a new Scottish state LSE. The referendum is September 18.


Iraq’s Military Seen as Unlikely to Turn the Tide Times

Iran rejects U.S. action in Iraq, ISIL tightens Syria border grip Reuters

Neocons, critics fight over who’s responsible for Iraq mess Christian Science Monitor

Iraq: The U.S. Has No Role In This Moon of Alabama

Congress should make itself heard about U.S. troops in Iraq WaPo

Is the Pentagon “briefing” retired military media analysts again? Sic Semper Tyrannis

Oil price volatility hits European airlines FT

MH370 captain plotted route to southern Indian Ocean on home simulator Telegraph

Asiana Crash Debate Goes Beyond Pilots to Automation Bloomberg

Thai telcos ‘on hold’: interventionist junta’s first economic casualty Reuters

Elephant “lullaby”: What’s the song about? Bangkok Post

Hundreds of thousands vote in Hong Kong democracy ‘poll’ in defiance of Beijing Reuters

Class Warfare

How the other half fear: Super-rich worry that their wealth is killing drive and ambition in their children DailyMail. Then let’s take away a lot of “their” money. Problem solved!

Paupers and Richlings LRB. “[Piketty’s] theoretical reach fumbles where his statistical grasp is sure, and he leaves intact the questions of economic value, distributive justice and capitalist dynamics that he raises.”

Believe it or not: Karl Marx is making a comeback Salon. Ready for his close-up?

The Left-Right Political Spectrum Is Bogus The Atlantic

Where Did Yiddish Come From? Tablet

‘Neural noise’ may influence free will, study suggests Medical News Today

A catalogue of social mechanisms Understanding Society

The Disruption Machine The New Yorker. Whenever I hear the word “innovation,” I reach for my Browning.

Antidote du jour:

baby rhinoceros and mom

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. joecostello

    That left-right piece in Atlantic is worth the read, should have been better, its constrained by the very constraints it complains about, but its conclusion is absolutely essential in starting to think about politics in any kind of way that could create reform.

    Power is a geometric construct.

    1. Banger

      The familiar notion is that when you reduce the power of the state, you increase the power of capital, and vice versa. To put it mildly, this claim is non-empirical. The rise of capital, its consolidation into a few hands, and the enduring structures of monopoly or gigantism to which it gives rise are inconceivable without the state.

      The fact is that this idea is gradually becoming more popular. The government has become the problem because the government exists, at this point in history (in the U.S. at least) to guarantee the power of the current oligarchs and institute repressive measures against any threat to that order. Yes, governments could institute more pleasant policies but they will not at this point in history. This is why I advocate an alliance with the libertarian right–current government structures are counter-productive and, increasingly, authoritarian in nature. Will a devolving government cause pain? Absolutely but we will, I believe, come up with solutions that will stimulate compassion in the populace. The real divisions are not between left and right but authoritarian and non-authoritarian ideologies. I believe that people are naturally good and when left to their own devices will tend towards compassion and communitarianism. On the other hand, faced with threats and fear they will not react in a very pleasant manner. We are in a position, technologically, to live (in my view) in a very convivial way all we need to do is to attempt to eliminate coercion, distrust, fear and so on as much as possible.

      1. McMike

        “People are naturally good” may be true as far as it goes, but it is precisely that fact that some people are not good which leads us to create structures to protect the former from the latter.

        1. Banger

          The “bad” comes from pain and is almost always caused by abuse. Our task is to heal others not hurt them or adopt a reflexive defensive/offensive stance. The sickness of that notion was clearly expressed by the US reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

          1. McMike

            Regardless of where it comes from, we need to establish norms of behavior along with boundaries and consequences.

          2. fresno dan

            “The familiar notion is that when you reduce the power of the state, you increase the power of capital, and vice versa. To put it mildly, this claim is non-empirical. The rise of capital, its consolidation into a few hands, and the enduring structures of monopoly or gigantism to which it gives rise are inconceivable without the state.”

            Just as an example to think about, where would Amazon be if it was not exempt from state sales tax? Here in Sacramento it amounts to about an 8% discount. I find it hard to believe that if local merchants were able to give a similar discount that Amazon would have thrived as much as it did.

            One wonders how many railroads would have been built if we had depended on rugged capitalists with their own resources to do it. What’s funny about capitalism is how often the capitalists didn’t supply the capital, took little or no risk, but somehow collect all the profits….
            Why doesn’t American now own Goldman Sachs, BoA, et al???

            1. McMike

              K. Phillips “Wealth and Democracy” is a pretty good chronicle of this – and comes from the right. er… “right.”

              1. Doug Terpstra

                That’s exactly the book that comes to mind. Kevin Phillips, a lifelong Republican, frames it quite clearly, unlike Sartwell, who (I suspect, because he should know better) is being deliberately simplistic in order to nullify debate. Phillips says he seriously considered the title “Wealth Versus Democracy” because that is the essence of it — economic war by political means — but thought it might be too leading at the outset. One of his quotes that summarizes the book is the fulfillment of the US Chamber of Commerce’s slogan, “Less government in business, more business in government”. It’s the capture of government by capital, the fusion of corporate government that has finally destroyed democracy. And make no mistake, the democracy (matrix) has gone bye-bye, Neo.

                Anyway, the left-right spectrum is anything but bogus, except within the simplistic, deliberately distracting capital-versus-government frame that think-tank propagandists (and apparently Sartwell) force us to use, rather than the real debate capital-versus-democracy. I think Sartwell reveals his bias when he writes, “…since socialists reject free enterprise and propose grand redistributionist schemes, they require a big, powerful state.” Well then, with socialism thus ridiculously mis-defined, and since they now have that big powerful empire they wanted, the “f’cking retarded” lefties no longer have any argument left. Furthermore, if McCain and Obama (a presumed leftist) have few differences, if there is no functional difference between two corporate parties, and if government is now a corporate-military alliance, then further debate is moot, or at best “philosophical”, meaning, academic.

                Nonsense. No real progressive misunderstands the current unholy marriage of corporate-military empire as anything but fascism — the death of social democracy. The only bogus thing about the left-right spectrum is how think-tank’s pretend to frame it, in effect saying “resistance futile, you will be assimilated”. Sartwell is right to say we should debate the merits of horizontal versus vertical power structures (democracy versus totalitarianism) but he does very little to give it any sort of materiality, meaning, or life.

      2. tongorad

        “This is why I advocate an alliance with the libertarian right–current government structures are counter-productive and, increasingly, authoritarian in nature.”

        To which I’m reminded of the first sentence of the Preamble to the IWW Constitution:
        “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.”
        Libertarians are merely boss-loving bootlickers. They epitomize conformity and authoritarianism. If you’re looking for an imaginative flowering of the human spirit, you won’t find it in the Randbots.
        Either you believe in people power or you don’t.

        1. Banger

          Libertarians have many faults but you can’t reduce them to Ayn Randbots. It’s a much more diverse crowd–I’m not one of them, btw.

          1. hunkerdown

            Libertarians, in my experience, do seem to share the belief that the system can’t help but do right once set on the tracks, if only we all submit to its judgment, which is true enough for a set of starting conditions that do not hold at present and may never again hold.

      3. different clue

        “I believe that people are naturally good”. Really? You really believe that? I was a child once. I remember what utter and absolute radioactive human waste some of my “fellow” children really were.

        1. Banger

          Yes, I do–I look inside and see gold. I also see the negative conditioning by a culture that is based on fear and selfishness as well as the physical, sexual and emotional abuse many people suffer so I’m not that simple-minded.

        2. hunkerdown

          I like Ian Welsh’s formulation, “Humans will generally try to do good when not actively prevented from doing so.”

      4. Synopticist

        “I believe that people are naturally good and when left to their own devices will tend towards compassion and communitarianism”

        I believe that that that by the time the good people get round to self-organising the rightwing psychos will have grabbed anything worth having that isn’t nailed down. There may be a handful of issues where the left can ally with the libertarian right, but ultimately we have no more in common with them than we do with blood and soil nationalists or old testament/sharia fundamentalists.

        1. Banger

          I think we need to listen better to others instead of demonizing and projecting all kinds of negative ideas on them. I believe their essential ideas are misguided by I’ve found many of them want the same things the rest of us want. Some are, of course, complete a-holes but so are many people on the left.

  2. EconCCX

    Re: Selling the family silver (Reserved Place)

    That piece is from September ’08. Any particular significance today?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I thought it was about selling sterling silver dinner sets, which would be sad, as they are

      1. durable,
      2. anti-throw away/disposable dinnerware (Earth friendly)
      3. things that are utilitarian, functional and protect against inflation.

      Governments came and government went
      only silver spoons and silver cups endured

      Every family should have some…if the superrich can stop robbing us.

  3. Luke Nolan

    Iraq crisis: John Kerry in Baghdad as Isis seizes more towns
    Analysis by Jim Muir, BBC News, in Irbil

    “John Kerry is trying to persuade politicians across the board to rise above the sectarian and ethnic divides and come together to pull their country back from the brink of fragmentation.

    The question is no longer whether Iraq is splitting up – it is. The question is whether that process can somehow be reversed. The odds are not good.

    A future Iraq will clearly have to involve a large measure of devolution, if not actual partition. It could happen bloodily, or by agreement. ”

    The signal balloon is finally being floated. I imagine years from now all the brilliant, well-informed Liberals will still be patting themselves on the back, remarking how smart they all are and how foolish, how stupid all those neoconservatives were, in total ignorance of the fact that the neoconservatives have achieved everything that they wanted.


    Israeli air strikes target Syria after Golan death
    “Israel says it has carried out air strikes on military targets in Syria.

    The military said it had attacked nine targets in response to the killing of a 15-year-old boy in a strike in the occupied Golan Heights on the border between the two countries on Sunday.”

    “It is unclear whether Syrian rebels or government forces were behind the incident.”

    You’d think that last part was important, but evidently not.


    #BRINGBACKOURHUMVEE: ISIS mocks Michelle Obama with cruel photoshop of her famous tweet in support of girls kidnapped by Nigerian terrorists


    Michael Parenti – Conspiracy AND Class Power
    Just because I think it’s a lecture worth revisiting given all that’s going on.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Iraq crisis: John Kerry in Baghdad as Isis seizes more towns”

      It’d be nice if they could just seize John Kerry.

      1. fresno dan

        They’re not our allies!!!!
        Have you ever thought that if they seized him, they might clone him?

      2. hunkerdown

        You mess with a flexian, they’ll officially mess with you back. Officially. And with impunity. And while sniffling about regrettability and all that and barely concealilng their proud smirks.

        Also, most Western governments have suicide pacts with one another, to ensure that their social orders remain stable (which is the beige way of saying “the system is more important than any or every individual”, which is madness).

    2. Luke Nolan

      Deputy minister: Shut off electricity in West Bank, Gaza
      “In my opinion there is room for extensive actions against the civilian population,” Danon said in an interview with Radio Darom. “I am saying something harsh here, but I believe it.

      “We must change the way of life for the residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Shut off the power for a few days and you’ll see that suddenly all the world leaders will come and ask: ‘Why did you turn off the power?’ And then maybe we can tell them: ‘Sorry, didn’t you know three teenagers were kidnapped?’”


      RT office in Ramallah raided by IDF
      “The IDF raided the Palmedia company building in the West Bank city overnight on Friday. The troops broke down the doors of several offices, destroyed some of the equipment and confiscated records, RT’s correspondent Yafa Staiti reported. ”

      “’The operation was aimed against the Palestinian company, Palmedia. The reason is that it provides services to Al-Aqsa TV, which has propagandist and inflammatory content. That’s why the search was performed there,’ the representative of the Israeli military command told RIA-Novosti news agency. “

      1. James Levy

        Of course, collective punishments are expressly forbidden under the Geneva Convention, but Israelis being the “good guys”, are not actually bound by any rules. Only “bad” people are bound by the rules. You see, “bad” people are obliged under international law to do good, but “good” people can do any bad or illegal thing, because, being good, they (depending on your sophistry) by definition cannot do bad, or their evil deeds are automatically trumped by their inherent goodness. See–makes perfect sense! For clarification see: Torture Debate, US.

      2. Banger

        We have to remember than many if not most Israelis regard Arabs as sub-human thus cruelty and mass-punishments are seriously considered. If Israel was not so dependent on the U.S. they would have removed the entire Arab population from all of Palestine. Their policy now is to gradually create, through settlements and making life as difficult as possible for Arab residents there, the same result–I believe this project has been tacitly agreed on by the U.S. since Clinton refused to support the Oslo accords. All “peace” talks sponsored by the U.S. are totally bogus and not in the least bit serious–just makes a show at U.S. interest in doing something they have no interest in doing. Thankfully that charade seems to be over.

        1. MikeNY

          I have some Israeli in-laws, and met part of the extended family once after the birth of niece. I’ll never forget how they referred to Arabs and Palestinians: “animals”, “beasts”, “rodents”. I had never heard such talk in person about other human beings — I thought it was a caricature from old WWII movies. It chilled me.

          1. Banger

            My experience as well. They seeme stuck in the 1930s with the ethnic fascism/nativism that were the hallmark of many countries in Eastern Europe in particular.

    3. Cynthia

      If Michelle Obama is going to make a statement about the ghastly abduction of Nigerian girls, she should also condemn the killing of innocent civilians by her husband’s barbaric and unlawful drone attacks.

      1. James Levy

        Repeat after me: “If the President does it, it’s not illegal!” and “you can’t criminalize policy differences!” These two phrases act as a get out of jail free card for all Executive Branch illegality, until the elite consensus changes–then, like Nixon, you’re fucked.

      2. sleepy

        If I had killed young children, as Obama’s drone strike orders have done, the local Children’s Services would quickly make sure that I was removed from all contact with my young grandchildren.

        Why hasn’t DC social services done that with the Obamas? Yeah . . . . . . . .

  4. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Hillary Clinton forgets the ’90s: Our latest gilded age and our latest phony populists Thomas Frank, Salon

    “The gilded age Clinton now laments had its roots in the dark side of Bill’s economic record. So why trust her now?”


    If Bill Clinton’s reign was accurately remembered and understood, Hillary’s political career would be as dead as her book sales. Lucky for her, Bill had the foresight to consolidate the media so that the story of her “inevitability” and “populism” could be sold as hard as the “miracle” of the Clinton presidency continues to be.

    Thanks to Thomas Frank for going off the reservation.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Hillary’s political career would be as dead as her book sales.’

      Some folks are claiming that Hillary’s $14 million advance on a book that will be lucky to gross a million is a ‘Refco cattle futures’ deja vu. They are so wrong. Probably its title, No Choices: My Mandate From Heaven, went right over the heads of the reading public.

      Likely Simon & Schuster was simply misled by the popular success of her preceding personal fitness title, known as ‘BTC’ to its fan base: Butt, Thighs and Cankles: Managing Late-Onset Steatopygia.

      More threatening to HRC is the prospect of Michelle Obama throwing her hat into the ring with a pre-emptive literary strike, tentatively titled Specter of the Hildebeest: Loathsome, On’ry and Mean.

      In other words, it’s a new golden age of literature!

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Yikes! No love lost here.

        But I think it’s safe to say that that $14 million in payola could be a problem. Especially since Simon & Schuster is a “division of CBS Corporation,” according to Wikipedia. Curious how two such savvy “media outlets” could have gotten it so wrong.

        WRT the book, from a source, who gave permission for his email to be published. “Sales were well below expectations and the media was a disaster.”


        “It’s a bomb but it will be interesting to see how they spin it.”

        It will, indeed.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            So, the information is false? You’re becoming a bit of a “source snob” lately, Lambert.

    2. James Levy

      I once tried to explain to a class that the real “hero” of the 1990s economic boom was almost certainly George H.W. Bush, who chose to dump his “read my lips” pledge and set the country on the road, via tax increases at a critical juncture, to sound economic policy. Problem for Bush, though is that 1) the Dems want to take all the credit for the economic prosperity of the 1990s [and as Frank points out, the full employment moment at the end of the decade really was good for most Americans] and 2) the last thing any Republican wants pointed out is that tax increases and freezing defense spending can be a good thing. So Bush’s role is ignored, and Clinton gets to take credit for everything that went right and blame the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war for everything that went wrong.

      1. curlydan

        yes, GHWB maybe showed he was more patrician than politician. He took one for the team on the tax issue. Of course, he still showed his imperial and oilman colors in Iraq Pt 1, but at least he kept an eye on the bank accounts.

      2. neo-realist

        It’s a mixed bag with HW–He put Thomas on the court……but he also put Souter up there, who turned out to be 180 degrees different from what he expected.

        And he also vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990 which would have helped prevent discrimination in employment—calling it a “quota bill”.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Souter was a cross between Pugsley Adams and Norman Bates.

          If GHWB was going to raise taxes, he should have never uttered the “Read my lips . . .” pledge.

          In the absence of widespread recognition of our debt and currency-creation system, anyone who thinks we can cut our way to prosperity is deluded.

          If fewer taxes and lower tax rates, by themselves, increased government revenue proportionally, and in all scenarios, then zero taxation would lead to infinite government revenue.

      3. ewmayer

        @James Levy:

        “…as Frank points out, the full employment moment at the end of the decade really was good for most Americans…”

        That ignores the extent to which the late-90s “prosperity” was a result of the DotCom bubble (as were the the mythical Clinton “budget surpluses” — I say mythical because even though we did get close to a full-budget-year 0-new-debt, Treasury’s own debt-to-the-penny data show we never quite made it), i.e. based on unsustainable foundations.

    3. nycTerrierist

      Yes, an excellent and important piece by Frank.

      And the stomach already turns that people are going to shut down
      valid critiques of Clinton with accusations of sexism —
      the way Obama worked the ‘racism’ card…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Brave (almost without shame) New World is like this:

        Fool me once, shame on me.

        Fool me twice, shame on me.

        Fool me trice, shame one me.

        Fool me four times…hmmm, ok, shame on you.

        (We have build up our shame-tolerance, it seems).

      2. different clue

        A way to pre-empt that might be to introduce the term “sexism card” into the language.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s actually going to be more hilarious than that. The 2008 Obama campaign was marked by gross sexism. So it will be funny to watch the same players flip flop and accuse the Republicans of what they themselves practiced. Players meaning both political operators and the members of our famously free press.

  5. financial matters

    Believe it or not: Karl Marx is making a comeback Salon. Ready for his close-up?


    “Lasch is arguing that, to a large extent, humans are biased toward the state of affairs that currently exists and then work backwards to justify it to themselves. That is, we’re more likely to embrace a deeply unjust economic system, simply because it’s the one we’ve always known. A recent study bears this out, finding that market competition serves to psychologically legitimize inequalities that would otherwise be considered unjust. Because many on the left, especially populists, do not understand ideology, they often write and argue as though the entire American political system is controlled by a small cabal of business or political leaders conspiring to fool the masses.

    The implications of ideology are important and numerous. The left must not fall into the trap of believing that all Americans actually do share our views, but that a conspiracy of the wealthy, or the power of GOP framing, or the influence of money are preventing us from succeeding. To some extent, these things may indeed harm the left, but widespread ideology — the automatic assumption of capitalism’s unmitigated merit, for example — is just as big a problem. We must win the war of ideas before we can win the war of democracy.”

    1. Banger

      Absolutely! This is a major problem I have been addressing for years and have been accused of “blaming the victim.” People do favor the system that is in place and do not want change. The left has tried to woo the populace through various means but have, increasingly, failed. The changes during the Depression were more accepted because society was in crisis and people understood that without government action the country could have descended into chaos. Also, during the Cold War people were convinced that we were in a life and death struggle with “communism” (most people had no clue what that meant and still don’t) so that they saw us in competition with the USSR. Thus the specter of racism (which the public accepted previously) was seen as a source of weakness and vulnerability for the country and thus, however they felt deep down, advocating for a more just society seemed like a good idea–plus the oligarchs clearly favored civil rights. So under perceived duress people are open to changes.

      My sense of the situation is that the left has failed to articulate a vision of a more convivial society that can compete with the capitalist paradise of a society filled with toys, entertainments and goodies of all kinds. The oligarchs have sold the American public on the notion that the highest morality is to indulge oneself with fantasies and remain, perpetually children. The public wasn’t forced to adopt that POV and it isn’t like the public lacked for alternatives–we not only have the traditional religions (except in the evangelical world, personal salvation is the only thing that matters, moral action is much less important) but we have the massive growth in New Age ideas including mysticisms of Buddhism, Yoga, Daoism, Sufi-ism and so on that all offer roads to living on a more subtle and higher moral level–but despite Eastern and Western mysticism or moral constructs Americans choose, overwhelmingly, hedonism as meaning.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        On one side, you have toys, entertainments, big screen TVs, health-impairing (for many people) remote controls, jet-hopping tourism, etc. – gifts from Big Science and Big Technology.

        On the other side, we offer Less Waste, Great Feeling (you can both! Let’s all get along. Peace!)…with a little bit of physical hard work, like growing your own tomatoes, and leisurely local travels and inner journeys.

        The choice is clear to any unwashed brain.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Lasch is arguing that, to a large extent, humans are biased toward the state of affairs that currently exists and then work backwards to justify it to themselves,,,”

      Maybe Lasch is wrong.

      Maybe humans have been brainwashed (look at the wonderful life! Money can bring you happiness and lots of women!) – for the obvious skepticism/inquiry, what are commercials for? – into accepting the status quo and we are not naturally biased toward the present affairs.

      1. hunkerdown

        It’s that “diagonal” transmission of values that fell through the cracks in that other analysis: values transmitted by instruction by and interaction with civil authorities, from outside the family but with a purposefully chosen term and intensity.

        “Blaming the victim” does well with a bit of unpacking, I think. Blaming the victim for being exploited isn’t particularly reasonable, fair or effective. Blaming the victim for defending their faith? Maybe, but still, what good will it do if they won’t accept it?

        Not much I see to be done about that but to keep throwing shoes in the works that makes their reality happen (iff they’re sufficiently deferent to authority) and, like the Folger’s hidden camera team, see if they notice.

  6. OIFVet

    re: ‘We Gave the Americans a B*** J**,’ Got Nothing, Says Polish Foreign Minister. Not even a pearl necklace, Radek?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That minister is insulting Polish as an incompetent sex-worker.

      Always cash upfront…say all the professionals.

      1. OIFVet

        My take is different: Poland thought it was a bridesmaid, while the US only keeps cheap mistresses. Fundamental misreading of the relationship dynamic on Sikorski’s part. He thought that all those flattering profiles in the western press meant that he and Poland had arrived at the altar of big power games, while all along the big boys and girls were only doing a pick up job for a one night stand. He should have learned from Shalikashvili, the pattern there was much the same.

        1. Yulek

          There are many factors at play in Poland. Our older generation, through few movies that made it through censorship during soviet era, and good word of their relatives who made it to USA, had a very positive view of USA. They thought of USA as of some sort of promised land. Another factor is our hatred and fear of Russia (and with good reasons). Also people in older generations were not able to grasp what being a sovereign nation means, and so they wanted to live under new outside leadership, even today, many think, that Poland will fail without outside influence, such as EU or USA. Those, in my opinion are the main factors, that made our politicians seek alliance with the western world. It is a matter, that would prove to be a treasure trove for a political sociologist, if one would want to write a book on this, and I think there would be enough material for several books. Anyway, Sikorski had nothing to do with establishing Poland – USA relationship, he could either try to make some changes to it or keep it going as is. The problem is, that making changes to relationship with a country with such political and financial pull as USA is not an easy task, and with many parties at play it may well be impossible to make any real changes. Personally I agree with his opinion, this relationship is not beneficial to Poland, although without any bj references. All is business and nothing is personal at such level of politics.

          1. OIFVet

            I think you sell Sikorski’s responsibility far short of what it is. Yes, the pro-western orientation did begin long before he took office. However, it is him (and Tusk) who chose to involve Poland so much into Ukraine, doing their part in destabilizing it on the behalf of the US. Poland’s involvement is well-established by know, and Sikorski suddenly seems to have realized what a foolish move it was, as your fear of Russia can become a self-fulfilling prophecy in a jiffy. And besides, this particular article linked to here does not even give the full quote of Sikorski’s: “Complete bullshit,” the tape purportedly records Sikorski as saying. “We will get a conflict with both Russians and Germans, and we’re going to think that everything is great, because we gave the Americans a blowjob. Suckers. Total suckers.” Indeed, he has managed to get in the way of German business, and Germany is that other power your people have historical reasons to fear. Talking about getting Poland between the rock and the hard place, with no discernible upside to justify such a position. Yes, Radek will be a great successor to Ashton as the EU foreign policy commisar, the position does require a certain degree of ingrained incompetence that is impossible to teach.

            1. Yulek

              It is hard to tell how much they wanted to involve Poland into Ukraine, it is hard to guess how compromised state security is, and if they are as compromised as it seems, then even if some accusations made by Russia are true, it might have been out of politicians control, just as Klewki most likely were. They made an error in calculating Ukrainian far right, which proves they have not taken into account actual Ukrainian mood, also funny thing about Ukrainian far right is that, they see Poland as historic enemy, that they need to crush us and seem to have territorial dispute with us, that they haven’t yet articulated officially. That entire Ukrainian debacle will come back to us with quite a bite I think.

              I do not fear Russia, Russia has business in EU, and won’t make serious moves on Poland for quite few years, not before EU collapses at least, and that is well into future. There is little reason to fear Russia, we need two thousands tanks, few hundred AA mobile SAM sites and at least 100 thousand infantry more, that can be easily done in a few years time, if we can get that, Russia will have either to abandon any kind of hope of military moves on Poland, or will have to consider nukes, and that is not really an option, as we are a bit too close to their own borders. So I see no reason to fear Russia, I can only fear for our politicians to repeat the mistake of 1939 and not prepare in time, as I think the west will make a repetition of strange war, as we call the war between French, British and Germans in 1939. As for Sikorski, well, I think he is politically done for. Although politics is a murky game, making predictions with so little knowledge of actual back room politics is like playing lottery. Bigger scandals were swept under the rug.

              1. OIFVet

                Yulek, would you venture a guess about what proportion of the Polish people might share your views on Ukraine? Also, if we assume that it was a foreign power that made the recordings and leaked them then we can safely say that the Ukraine blowback has begun. And the methods point out to the future of warfare: information and economic means will be the main effort, with the aim of internal destabilization; infantry, tanks, and airpower will play supporting roles if necessary. In that sense Poland appears to have much more immediate issues to worry about than a land and air war, it is already being destabilized and the internal security apparatus appears to be completely clueless about the who and the why.

                1. Yulek

                  Well, I can’t really guess how many of us share my exact views, but many people are not happy with how our government was involved, most actually gave up on politicians long ago (way more than 50%), and no longer care, as this is completely out of general populations hand. However this has affected general population’s level of cynicisms, even 18 y.o. guys and gals are starting to see politics for what it is.

                  You can’t assume, that a foreign player was involved in making and / or releasing those recordings. By “who benefits” it is more likely that the recordings were made by one or many of the oligarchs, or by people connected to Law and Justice party, or both. Some oligarchs care for profit and only profit, and people from Law and Justice are usually deranged and stupid. Some even are clearly insane. They don’t understand world politics, and they already used similar methods in the past, with similar kind of external consequences. As for foreign, there is obvious player called Russia, but I would not say with any certainty, that it was involved. We have a long history of making choices that came back and bit us.

                  I am not certain how destabilizing this mess is. Tusk has a strategy of wait and see, and in this case it is the best strategy. I doubt that the Civic Platform will win the next election if they won’t capitalize on some of those recordings, but will this actually do more than get several people fired? Even if Tusk falls it does little to destabilize the country. As for state security, it would seem, that they warned politicians about discussing such things in unprotected areas, and it seems that only Tusk was smart enough to listen.

  7. Jim Haygood

    ‘Argentina Wants to Pay, But They Won’t Let It’:

    The full-page ad — which appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal — lashes out at the “voracity” of the so-called “vulture funds”.

    “Paying the vulture funds is a path leading to default,” says the ad from the government of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner.

    “The will of Argentina is clear: we expect a judicial decision that promotes fair and balanced negotiating conditions to resolve this protracted and difficult dispute.”


    Reportedly U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, who will preside over any further negotiations, is already fed up with the antics of Argentina. Pounding him in the press is only going to further berserk the man.

    You’d think the widow Kirchner, a lawyer herself, would know not to piss off a district judge after losing at the Supreme Court. But she’d rather go down spewing insults, rather than negotiate the best deal she can get after a failed strategy blew up in her face.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Argentina is merely informing Griesa in advance of his next decision that they intend to tell him to go pound sand.

      1. McMike

        Indeed, Americans often seem surprised and a little put off when other nations spokespersons play to their home audiences. As if it hadn’t occurred to them that not everyone’s world revolves around the US as portrayed through US media.

        Like the Polish blo*j*b comment as well, the analysis of it is done solely from our own perspective.

        [lol: “polish blo*j*b”… there must be a joke in there somewhere]

    2. ambrit

      Dear Jim;
      The widow Kirchner is not only a lawyer, but also the head of a Sovereign Nation. The message being sent here could be that Sovereign Nations do not have to grovel at the feet of a foreign Nations flunkey. So, the optimal path in the long run would be to give the U.S. the finger. (Here is also a subtle observation by Argentina regarding the power relationships at work in America.) Finally, who entered into the disputed deals in the first place? If it was Kirchners government, then it serves her right. If not, there should be some serious Argentine DoJ investigations going forward.

      1. Synopticist

        To my mind this was a shockingly irresponsible decision by the US judiciary. Yet more elite dumb sh8t which will blow up in their faces.

    3. Banger

      This is actually a skirmish that is part of the developing war between finance capital and the nation state. The U.S. power structure has been captured by the finance oligarchs and all “our” institutions are instruments of that group. I hope Argentina, and the rest of the world all give the finger to the vulture-capitalists who, in a just world, would be sent to an island somewhere. We need to radically deal with not just sovereign debt but all debt and have a debt jubilee globally and restructuring of our system of exchange–this one doesn’t work and creates more pain than benefit. Of course that is a pipe-dream but one that still should be encouraged–culture and cultural values do create possibilities.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Really. The CIA better get to work finding a Putin connection or ISIS in Argentina, because I don’t think that “boots on the ground” as debt collectors for the 1% is gonna fly.

        1. McMike

          The collection method is not usually involve boots on the ground.

          Squeezing the nation and its elite through transaction and travel controls, plus the usual economic hit man dirty tricks like honey traps and the occasional assassination does the trick.

        2. Invy

          The US population has a negative opinion on Venezuela. With all the media out there painting the picture of the masses of chauvistas filling the streets with capitalist and free people’s blood, I doubt it would be hard.

          Just tie the southern American governments to the socialist Venezuelan government, and a almost religious reverence to the Boliviarian revolution… One common people for one common goal against the interests of the US. Then manufacture an catastrophe you can pin on them, and your good to drum up that old beat for war.

    4. Eureka Springs

      If I understand the gist of the facts you’ve so kindly provided over the years… Argentina, along with virtually every other debt holder sans this holdout case have all negotiated in good faith to a manageable sum.

      If a rather unusual series of judgements break the mold for everyone else and at a the same time threaten to bring down your country… and yet “antics” are not in order… when would they be, Jim?

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Superrich worry their children lack drive and ambition.

    The QUESTION is, why hasn’t all the wealth killed drive and ambition of the superrich themselves?

    One (possible) answer: they do it not for wealth, but for the thrill of it…sorry, passion, not cheap thrills.

    Then, we say, if that’s the case, you don’t need your wealth, then.

    Here is a simple test:

    If $100 million doesn’t satiate and let you retire, you are not doing it for money. More money will not make you happier. Let someone else do your fracking. Get out and sail into the sunset.

    1. McMike

      Oh I am nearly certain that deep emotional neediness drive it. Insatiable desires to fill bottomless voids.

      It is, I think, the dawning awareness of their mortality that causes some to focus and realize that corrosive effect wealth can have. They look at some of their peers’ spawn and realize what absolute monsters they are. They look at their own offspring and see hints of entitlement and sloth.

      I live near a place where billionaires build monuments to their vices and vanity. It is sort of a parlor game to wonder what the kids will do with it (to it) when the old man finally kicks.

      Truth be told, it is a bit of a game I play myself. I go buy a lottery ticket, then imagine how I’ll spend it. Imagining the houses I’ll build and businesses and nonprofits I’ll start is easy. But I always get stuck on what to do for the kids. I really do not like the notion of plopping $20 or $50 or $100 million in their laps when they turn 21.

    2. F. Beard

      ain’t cha never read nothing?

      He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. Ecclesiastes 5:10

    3. craazyman

      If yer rich and can’t pull yourself away from the desk to go sailing, give me $1 million and I’ll do it for you! I’ll even post reports on Facebook every few days with pics. I’ll even take your wife with me, if she’s hot. You can have the hookers. Here’s where to send the check: D. Tremens, President, Vicarious Adventures Offshore Sailing Associates, Magonia Harbor Marina, Magonia, PO Box 8, (it’s in the room right above the Tiki Bar).

        1. ambrit

          Remember “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?” That wasn’t just taking your vacation for you; it was eating your lunch for you as well! (The rest of us had to settle for a “Hot Lunch!” Yuck!)

  9. Poor Brooklinite

    Poor rich people, They are worreid that their kids will lose morals. Well you can’t have it all. It ascertains to my thought that poor kids grow up to have better ethical and moral values combined with self sufficiency and resiliency. I really would like to know what is it that rich people want? Money, Ethics, Morals, Perfect familiy with great education, Open mindedness, Maturity, wisdom…. I am sure they want it all. Life is really about little money and more growing up.

    1. McMike

      “The rich can buy everything but health, virtue, friendship, wit, good looks, love, pride, intelligence, grace, and, if you need it, happiness.” — Edward Abbey

    2. hunkerdown

      What do they want? The Holy Beigeois Aesthetic made law over all the land.
      When do they want it? Why are you asking such questions instead of making it happen for them?

  10. ambrit

    Re. the remark, “Whenever I hear the word innovation, I reach for my Browning.” I’m not sure if you mean the Browning Hi-Power pistol or the Sonnets From The Portuguese. Both, in their individual way, were innovations in their fields. The dilemma is that each is the polar opposite of the other. One glorifies hate, the other love.

    1. Peter Pan

      “Whenever I hear the word innovation, I reach for my Browning.”

      Browning automatic rifle? Browning trail camera? Some odd reference to anal sex?

      Browning to make gravy? Yum, gravy. (not to be confused with American gravy as the result of a Polish BJ).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I got it a bit wrong:

        The actual quote is “Wenn ich Kultur höre … entsichere ich meinen Browning!” This translates as: “Whenever I hear [the word] ‘culture’… I remove the safety from my Browning!”

  11. OIFVet

    Obesity crisis in UK army: British soldiers failing basic fitness tests: Blames diet. Our military has much the same problem too, though I haven’t seen much discussion of it in the media. BTW, I was surprised by how low the fitness standards are in the Brit army, particularly for the run component.

  12. optimader

    “MH370 captain plotted route to southern Indian Ocean on home simulator”
    Isnt that the kinda stuff one does w/a flight simulator for grins.? I imagine he had hundreds of flight plan simulations.

    Back when I had time to screw around w/ mine, I used to be amused landing a 737 at Meigs Field, (even though it no longer exists.)

  13. Ron

    A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It: What could it be? Well the collective noise created by auto/trucks/airplanes/motorbikes,.engines etc world wide humming a tune of sorts or the fact that Earth is spinning through space and might be making some noise in the process.

    1. optimader

      “…So what’s behind the Hum? After nearly four decades, Hum investigators may finally have some idea. The general consensus among sufferers is that the Hum is comprised of very low frequency (or ‘VLF’, in the range of 3 kHz to 30 kHz and wavelengths from 10 to 100 kilometers) or extremely low frequency (or ‘ELF’, in the range of 3 to 30 Hz, and corresponding wavelengths from 100,000 to 10,000 kilometers) radio waves, which can penetrate buildings and travel over tremendous distances….”

      Project Sanguine

      …..How ELF communication works[edit]

      Submarines are shielded by seawater from all ordinary radio signals, and therefore are cut off from communication with military command authorities while submerged.[11] The lower the frequency, the deeper radio waves are able to penetrate ocean water.[9] Waves in the very low frequency (VLF) range of 3 kHz to 30 kHz are able to penetrate to a depth of about 10 to 30 meters,[10] and since WWII navies have used VLF transmitters to communicate with submarines. To receive VLF signals subs must rise to just under the surface or trail a shallow antenna buoy, making them vulnerable to detection by the enemy.[5][10]

      Radio waves in the extremely low frequency (ELF) band of 30 to 300 Hz can penetrate to a depth of hundreds of meters, allowing them to communicate with submarines at their normal operating depth.[5] The lower the frequency, the longer the wavelength of the radio waves, and transmitters require longer antenna structures to generate them. ELF transmitters use huge antennas called ground dipoles consisting of tens to hundreds of kilometers of overhead cables resembling ordinary power transmission lines. The transmission lines are grounded at the ends, and looping currents deep in the Earth form part of the antenna. Because even these huge antennas are much smaller than the ELF wavelengths, they are extremely inefficient; only a tiny fraction of the input power is radiated as ELF waves, with the rest dissipated as heat in antenna resistance. At their full input power of 2.6 MW, both US ELF transmitters working together only generated about 8 watts of ELF radiation. This weak signal was able to reach submarines over half the globe only because of the extremely low attenuation of ELF waves of 1-2 dB per 1000 km. ELF transmitters are most efficient when sited over certain low resistivity underground rock formations, which allow the currents to spread deeper forming a larger “antenna”.[2] The US system was located in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan over the Laurentian Shield formation, for that reason.[2]

      Such ELF transmitters cannot be installed on submarines, because of the size of the antenna and high power requirements. So ELF communication is one-way, with a receiver in the submarine receiving orders from a shore station, but unable to reply. The low attenuation of ELF waves with distance allows a single ELF station to send messages to submarines all over the world.

      Another drawback of ELF is that the ELF band has very small bandwidth, and therefore can only transmit very simple messages, very slowly.[5][10] ELF signals cannot carry audio (voice) like other types of radio, and can only carry short text messages consisting of a few letters. The US Navy system (above) reportedly uses three-letter code groups and requires 15 minutes to transmit one group.[10][11] So current systems are not used to transmit detailed orders, but serve a “bell ringer” function, to order a specific vessel to surface and receive further orders by ordinary radio or satellite communication.[10]

  14. Oregoncharles

    One problem with the Hum article: the dots on the map coincide, almost perfectly, with population. That suggests that the source is universal, but only certain people can hear it, or it is focused in certain areas.

    I half wonder if they’re hearing the voice of the Earth itself, groaning in distress.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Death of the American Mall.

    I thought I read something like that years ago.

    In any case, I have an proposal to salvage those vacant malls – we rent to the Chinese for storing their empty apartment buildings.

    Two birds, one stone.

    Besides, this is far better than storing our empty malls in their vacant apartment buildings.

    1. Eat The Rich

      It’s old news…I read this weeks or months ago.

      This is certainly not the case where I live. The new mall out here can’t get big enough.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Elephant lullaby.

    For us or for elephants? Here is the song (part of it) translated, from the linked article:

    Poor, deprived! (Is it) karma or fate
    (that) makes the heart tormented?
    I’m too distressed to moan about inequality.

    (Our) status is so far apart. It pains the heart!!

    Malulee’s shade is the last….
    destination of ours!
    Malulee feels sorry for us
    When tonight ends, we end!

    Poor, deprived! (Is it) karma or fate
    (that) makes the heart tormented?
    I’m too distressed to moan about inequality.

    (Our) status is so far apart. It pains the heart!!

    Oh…(our) love is like a one-night dream!
    When waking up, (it) disappears!
    Don’t cry!
    ‘Cause the heart will be in pain!
    Malulee’s shade is the last

  17. Dune Navigator

    Poland Foreign Minister Sikorski is not just any Pole, but Anne Applebutt’s hubby. Will this crude and rude revelation cause her to lose cred in the Georgetown cocktail circuit?

  18. Jeff W

    “Hundreds of thousands vote in Hong Kong democracy ‘poll’ in defiance of Beijing” Reuters

    TIME reported:

    The Chinese edition of Global Times [“a strident state media organization,” according to TIME] ran a piece headlined, roughly, “No matter how many people voted in the illegal Hong Kong election, it is not as many [as] 1.3 billion people.” One quick-witted social-media retort: “Global Times is going to give 1.3 billion people right to vote? That’s awesome news.”

    That comment, and many others, were speedily censored.

    Although Occupy Central organizer Benny Tai had expected 300,000 to vote by the end of next week, over 700,000—roughly one-tenth of the population—had voted as of Monday.

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