Links 6/25/14

Beard Husks On Sidewalk Indicate Start Of Hipster Molting Season Onion

Man Walks Into McDonald’s With Knife Sticking Out of His Back Gawker. Only in America.

Climate Policy as Wealth Creation, Part 3 Triple Crisis. Makes the point that there is a lot of climate-change related low-hanging fruit, meaning numerous projects with a negative cost, in that they save more than the expenditures involved.

California’s top court says Target not required to carry in-store defibrillators Reuters (EM)

Wikipedia editors hit with $10 million defamation lawsuit Daily Dot. Defamation suits are hard to win, but I suspect the plaintiff will be happy to inflict damage by making the editors spend a lot of money defending themselves.

You are not Google’s customer Cathy O’Neil

5 Bullshit Lies Cable Companies Are Feeding You Right Now Cracked (Chuck L)

Antitrust fine tally on track to beat 2013 record Financial Times. Don’t get too excited. The targets are almost without exception furriners.

IMF Frets About Giant Sucking Sound of Hot Money, Wants to Take Over Global Monetary Policy Testosterone Pit (Chuck L)

Hong Kong police to stage ‘major exercise’ in preparation for Occupy Central South China Morning Post

EU calls off cooperation agreement with Thailand as measure against coup Prachatai English (furzy mouse)

Can Putin’s Diplomacy Prevail Over Washington’s Coercion? Paul Craig Roberts (Chuck L)


Ukraine foes cast doubt on ceasefire BBC

Putin Presses Extension of Cease-Fire in Ukraine New York Times


Did Obama Know that ISIS Planned to Invade Iraq? CounterPunch

John Kerry: US troop deployment to Iraq is not intervention Guardian (furzy mouse). Someone needs to tell Kerry he has to get a lot better at lying. So why are they there if not to influence outcomes? The only dimly plausible explanation is they are there to propagandize foreign media, but the manning is way too high for that.

Michael Schwartz: It’s the Oil, Stupid! Insurgency and War on a Sea of Oil TomDispatch

After Opening Way to Rebels, Turkey Is Paying Heavy Price New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

So That’s Why They Kept the Drone Kill Memo Secret David Swanson, Firedoglake

Federal Judge Rules US Citizens Placed on No-Fly List Had Their Due Process Rights Violated Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

Obamacare Launch

Sick Drawn to New Coverage in Health-Law Plans Wall Street Journal

The Secretive Democracy Alliance’s Secret Is Out: Some of its members are elitist, racist and self-serving. Angry Bear. Helpful, but does not follow the logic to the obvious conclusion. Why is the Dem apparatus harping on the Kochs and not issues that would motivate voters, like more jobs, better access to housing and education? Because they’ve done nothing on those fronts and don’t intend to.

Veterangate: VA whistleblower says records of deceased vets were altered RT (Nikki)

A Secret Plan to Shut Down Social Security’s Offices and Outsource Its Work Alternet (RR)

ACLU sues Mass. SWAT agency for refusing to release records RT (Nikki)

US Republican Thad Cochran beats Mississippi Tea Party rival BBC

Chris Christie under investigation over second New Jersey bridge Guardian (Nikki)

Bankrupt Detroit hit with new debts involving dump trucks and nuclear research Reuters

Whole Foods paying $800,000 for overcharging in California Los Angeles Times. As much as I wind up going to Whole Foods when in parts of the country that are thin on health food stores, I find Whole Foods generally to be an exercise in bait and switch. If you go into its produce section, most of it is not organic. They seem to be relying on the fact that once they have you in the store, if you reject their organics due to price or condition, you’ll buy the regular stuff because you are there already.

​Chandler on strong sterling and Auerback on Hyman Minsky RT. Auerback starts at 15:40.

Shhh. Don’t Wake Congress. Let Them Sleep Through the Next Wall Street Crash Pam Martens

SEC Provides Details of 5-Cent Tick Test Wall Street Journal. I was never a fan of trading in penny increments. The SEC thinks wider increments might net net be better for investors for less-active stocks by virtue (*gasp*) of driving more orders to exchanges.

Rise in Home Prices Is Slowing, and That’s a Good Thing New York Times

Class Warfare

The Capitol Since the Nineteenth Century: Political Polarization and Income Inequality in the United States Liberty Street Economics

Investment Bank: The End Of US Economic Growth Wolf Richter. More confirmation of the connection between inequality and lousy growth.

No pay? You must be joking Financial Times

Antidote du jour:

Links picture of sleeping kitten

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. taunger

    This morning under a typical article, Yves writes, “Why is the Dem apparatus harping on the Kochs and not issues that would motivate voters, like more jobs, better access to housing and education? Because they’ve done nothing on those fronts and don’t intend to.”

    I’m as unhappy with congress as most. But I’m starting to wonder if our attribution of intention, which is likely right, might be counter-productive. Is is possible that our elected officials, rather than being the best, are actually generally just like most other miserable human beings, and do not intend to take on the important issues Yves cites because they are afraid to fail, to not fix the problem, to be shamed by their peers, and to lose their privilege? That they want to do the right thing, but being weak and stupid, like most of us, end up doing the easy thing?

    Perhaps that fear is a better target for our disdain than the person carrying it around. I dunno, I raged for over a decade, and I’m getting tired of it. I’d much rather peaceably and politely lose while holding what little ground I can. Maybe I’m just getting too old for the barricades.

    1. James Levy

      A well published and respected Civil War historian once told me that in that war rankers could, and did, when their courage was up, wander away from the front lines and if they were considered decent men and had fought well before, when they got back to their unit nobody called them on it. But this was not true of officers. Officers had put themselves forward to be leaders, give orders, and be responsible. Their men would not tolerate them skedaddling from a fight.

      I think the same thing is true of elected officials.

      We can, from time to time, be derelict in our duties as citizens, and that is pardonable. But if you insist on putting yourself forward as a legislator or magistrate, then you’ve got no excuses. You do your duty, damn it, or step aside for someone who will.

      PS: a US Army officer told a group of us that if US lieutenants and captains tried to abandon their men the way Iraqis officers did in 1991, their senior sergeants would have shot them down before they got 50 yards to the rear.

    2. Eeyores enigma

      By all means lets keep talking about the voting process as if it really worked.

      “Let’s talk about the study. If you had 30 seconds to sum up the main conclusion of your study for the average person, how would you do so?

      I’d say that contrary to what decades of political science research might lead you to believe, ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States. And economic elites and interest groups, especially those representing business, have a substantial degree of influence. Government policy-making over the last few decades reflects the preferences of those groups — of economic elites and of organized interests.”

      1. Banger

        I think the opinions and feeling of the populace do matter in the U.S. but not very much. It is clear, for example, that despite a full-court propaganda extravaganza about the alleged Syrian gassing incident (probably a false-flag event), the American people do not want more war–even bombing. So, of course, the State finds other ways, i.e., aiding jihadis to raise a ruckus, using mercenaries, using drones, using the CIA and other covert combat units and so on and so on. In other words, the U.S. gov’t is like the man cheating on his wife–instead of doing it openly he takes the woman to a motel and goes to restaurants an hour away from home and so on.

        1. Eeyores enigma

          Oh you think that do you? And thats relevant because…..?

          This in a nut shell is what is wrong with the world. In the face of facts we all feel like we get to thinkify and make out our own realamizations.

          We are so screwed.

          1. Banger

            Well, la-di-da to you too. What we need is dialogue and respect for each other not cranky statements like yours. How is this helpful? Maybe I missed the point or whatever–then correct me, show me the way to understanding’ think not pissing contest but dialectic. Do you really think what I say deserves to be pissed on? Or are you just in a bad mood–happens to me all the time.

            1. Eeyores enigma

              I suppose you are right, we should all be civil and kind and only comment in ways that increase the hosts traffic and revenue. That and be whitty, cleaver, and entertaining. Now i got it. Thanks!

      2. taunger

        Dude, I didn’t mention the voting process at all. I mentioned Congresspeople and their inevitable flaws as humans. Did I state that voting will provide the solution to dealing with fear, at an individual and social level? Please take a closer look at what I was writing.

          1. taunger

            Very high ground, in the larger historical context. Good access to high quality, local produced food, inexpensive, high quality shelter in a community at least nominally and occassionally really dedicated to high education standards, family nearby, strong social network comprised of conscientious and semi-conscientious individuals. I even have a full-time, not-totally-evil attorney gig coming up. All sorts of supports for my son, a good love interest. I just don’t have – savings, retirement savings, any assets. net worth probably negative $180K. Grasshopper, I am.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          FWIW, I found your angst and insight very illuminating. Manning the barricades seems quite pointless against systemic, fearful forces and principalities that are beyond flesh and blood.

          I suspect (hope) that the next revolution will be unlike the American, French, or Russian of prior centuries’ reigns of violent terror. It could well spring from the internal implosion of unchecked cronyism and militarism, more peaceful than the Soviet collapse, and produce a spontaneous flowering of enlightenment that banishes fear as the primary driver of geopolitics. Then again, as Evangelical Churchians expect, it could also come as a nuclear Armageddon and global tribulation under dominion of the Beast. Either way, unremitting outrage, indignation, and despair may be just spitting into the wind or worse

          1. psychohistorian

            I smiled as I read this thread of comments talking about how fear controls humanity from progressing.

            I have found fear in me to be an accumulation of trauma and hurt that I never processed, didn’t know how. I didn’t know about fascia within the body and how it stores parts of those memories, but I am learning. Being an inventor type and being highly motivated to heal, I believe I have innovated a breath exercise to heal us humans from accumulated fear. And since you can’t patent the human breath, I am organizing my efforts to prove its efficacy and hope its use brings about the social changes we all so dearly desire.

            See for my crude beginnings.

            Onward, in peace

      3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Ordinary citizens now, and will continue (until we collapse as a dominant species, from whatever calamity), to live under the tireless gaze of the global panopticon.

        Wanna’ live free? No food, clothing, or shelter, for you. Start grazing.


  2. Banger

    It’s great to read Whitney on Iraq in Counterpunch–no one else is worth reading as much as him. He understands that we live in a world of “deep politics” (a very unpopular notion for most of the left who usually accept the mainstream media narrative for reasons that we’ll just ignore for the moment). Whitney actually states the obvious which is that the Administration knew way in advance about the invasion of Iraq by ISIS (ISIL) despite the fact everyone on the propaganda organs pretends this, like 9/11, just came out of the blue. First we have to understand that Iraq and Syria are thick with intel agents from at least Turkey, Israel, U.S., Iran, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Gulf States at minimum. We also know that the jihadis fighting against Syria have bases in Turkey and have direct support from our NATO ally, which would have to be approved by NATO. But what we really need to understand is that ISIS is supported by the U.S. intel community as was Al-qaida (AQ) from the beginning. How much AQ was supported, aided and controlled by the CIA or other agencies, I don’t know but, basically these forces have been connected to Western intel since the end of WWI particularly the British and then taken up by the U.S., over the years, after WWII. Frankly, if we do not understand that we can’t understand the situation in the Middle East today or why, despite the obvious difference in cultures and stated goals, the Saudi royals and the U.S. are as tightly knit with the U.S. national security state as the Israelis–perhaps even more so.

    To me this is obvious because I actually see history as being real. Things don’t “just” happen in the sense that Churchill described it as “one damn thing after another”–no, that is complete BS from the master BS artist of his time–and he knew it. There is a pattern and a series of evolving relationships between people and forces–they can take sudden turns but, for the most part, the alliances and rivalries stay as well as the the rivalries within alliances and hidden alliances within the rivalries also are involved as John Le Carre marvelously describes in his books which explains the utterly insane tactics and strategy of the early part of the Iraq War (the alliance was at continual cross-purposes with itself as every actor vied for dominance and money in that fight–until the public got restive and the beasts feeding on the carcass of Iraq were scattered and went their separate ways for awhile.

    Whitney shows, pretty convincingly, that the grand plan on the part of the West and its ME allies is to make the region one big feudal area with emirates and principalities easily influenced through all the arts of intimidation and bribery. This has been the long-term goal, in my view, of the U.S. in the region. For the West Nasserism was the greatest evil, even more that communism. The idea that Arabs could form an united mega state was a threat to everything, obviously because of oil. I believe this was the goal of the attack on Libya in which Qaddafi, at this point a relatively friendly gov’t, simply had to be overthrown–and they found the usual bogus pretexts (that most of the left accepted at face value, naturally) and went on with the business of destroying Libyan society and killing mass numbers as per usual for freedom, right? Thus Libya of today is exactly the sort of place these guys would like the entire world to become–a bunch of petty warlords fighting it out and operating as a training and staging area for “terrorists” like Afghanistan was before 2001 and will be again probably after that “fight” winds down and the clowns who are making big-money down there take their money and go home.

    We need to wake-the-fuck up guys and not accept mainstream media narratives that we should know by know are just not credible.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Agreed, the level of willful ostriche ignorance is alarming and dangerous. The pledge of allegiance drilled into the laundered brains of American children, who revel in indispensationalism and exceptionalism, is horrifying.

    2. trish

      “It’s great to read Whitney on Iraq in Counterpunch”
      “wake-the-fuck up guys and not accept mainstream media narratives” Yeah, that would be great but
      But most aren’t reading Whitney, aren’t going to be anytime soon. Or anyone else outside the MSM, Fox, NPR, NYT, whatever…
      Here’s the NYT this morning: “Secretary of State John Kerry urged the president of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region on Tuesday not to seek his own state and instead help form a government in Baghdad.”
      More deep-state puppet mastery pretense of desire for “inclusive democracy” when, as Whitney says, Obama doesn’t give a shit about “inclusive democracy,” what matters “is regime change, that is, getting rid of a nuisance who hasn’t followed Washington’s directives.”
      and this other headline in NYT will help the puppet masters:
      “Iran Secretly Sending Drones and Supplies into Iraq, U.S. Officials Say”
      Getting the specter of threatening Islamic fundamentalists/terrorists into the picture usually helps.

      (interesting, from NPR a couple days ago:

      1. Banger

        I don’t expect the populace to be exposed to Whitney’s commentary. But I do expect the so-called left or at least the portion alienated from the Democratic Party to stop believing the mainstream narrative because they do accept most of it without criticism. The whole concept of “deep politics” is just utterly verboten to 98% of the left–they won’t touch it–yet if you want to understand what is happening how can you ignore it?

        1. trish

          “The whole concept of “deep politics” is just utterly verboten to 98% of the left–they won’t touch it–yet if you want to understand what is happening how can you ignore it?”
          Yes…depressing. So much really important stuff is ignored. perhaps not wanting to fully understand what is happening.

        2. Luke Nolan

          On the topic of “deep politics,” if you haven’t already seen it, you might be interested in this lecture from Peter Dale Scott:

          Peter Dale Scott 2010 “Continuity of Government”

          Continuity of government (COG) is the principle of establishing defined procedures that allow a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or other catastrophic event.”

          This principal, called the Continuity of Operations in the US, was broadened under the Reagan administration to include any national emergency and was activated after and has remained active since 9/11.

        3. Paul Niemi

          I just assumed it was deep politics. For two days I thought ISIS was the creature of the Saudis, and that made sense at some level — the training at a camp in Jordan, visit by John McCain, Prince Bandar poking his finger in Vladimir Putin’s face about Syria last year, grievances of Sunnis in Iraq, encroachment of Iran in Iraq, weird silence from Washington DC about the whole ISIS thing indicating possibly they knew and tacitly approved of what was going on. Then I kept reading, and I learned that last night ISIS tried to break in to Jordan, headed for Amman, and the King had to call in F-16s to defend the boarder. If the Saudis really were in control, they would not have let them do that. So it seems the situation is these are renegades, and the whole region is destabilized. It doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. has no business returning to Iraq. I can say now the Middle-East has, depending on your perspective, all three types: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I hope this Pan-Arab Civil War ends quickly.

      2. jrs

        Yea I like Whitey, he’s one of the better ones writing now. But while I think I know enough to agree with much of his analysis on issues like the economy and housing bubble 2 (he nails it), Iraq not so much so, and not solely because of my own ignorance but simply because we will never be told what the real agenda is, we can take it for granted it will be obscured, so I hold a lot as tentative.

    3. JEHR

      After reading The Globe and Mail and watching the CBC I got quite a shock when I listened to the following:

      Chossudovsky presents a scenario that explains a lot of the behaviours of the US and ISIS. I am being accused of seeing conspiracies everywhere. Please listen and see for yourself.

    4. VietnamVet

      The cognitive dissidence from the Ukraine civil war and the Iraqi Sunni Uprising is short wiring the comment sections across the internet that I read.

      American Exceptionalism doesn’t mix well with the USA support for Nazis murdering civilians in Ukraine or ignoring Islamic terrorists who are laying siege to Baghdad where thousands of Americans were killed and maimed after invading there eleven years ago for nothing.

      With the economy stalled, gas and food prices rising, incomes down and Central American kids flooding Texas, Democrats are running on “Don’t notice this”. Both parties are relying on “If it is not in the media. It is not there, there.” I don’t think it will work anymore to re-elect the Oligarchs’ puppets.

      1. Synopticist

        “cognitive dissidence from the Ukraine civil war and the Iraqi Sunni Uprising is short wiring the comment sections across the internet that I read.”

        Yup. It’s just too weird for a lot of people to get their heads around. They can’t understand that the west is supporting jihadis (especially) and neo-nazis. A lot of them return to the knee-jerk “its all Bush and Blairs fault” line in the ME, which is getting pushed pretty hard in the UK. Whatever happens, no-one in the MSM is willing to point to a 3 year policy of arming and siding with allies of al qeada as the cause of the clusterf*ck. That would of course mean blaming themselves for the PR cover they’ve been giving them.

      2. Abe, NYC

        The cognitive dissidence from the Ukraine civil war and the Iraqi Sunni Uprising is short wiring the comment sections across the internet that I read.

        American Exceptionalism doesn’t mix well with the USA support for Nazis murdering civilians in Ukraine or ignoring Islamic terrorists who are laying siege to Baghdad

        Well, I used to think that so-called Progressives didn’t mix well with support for a blatant aggression against a country on a flimsy pretext and in violation of pretty much every single international treaty; or fanning a civil war in the same country; or glorifying one of the most corrupt and increasingly repressive regimes on the planet. Now I know better.

            1. OIFVet

              California is only part of the problem Abe. DC should go first, returning it to a natural swamp as opposed to a man-made one will be a vast improvement…

              1. Abe, NYC

                Sure, DC and New York too, but start with Moscow instead of looking to it for salvation.

                1. OIFVet

                  It would fit your narrative if that’s what motivated me, wouldn’t it :) Sorry to disappoint you tovarich but I don’t care for any world capital or power or authority, I am a bit of an anarchist. For the time being Moscow is an useful counterbalance to DC, the lesser evil standing in the way of the ultimate evil, a struggle that would hopefully lead to fragmentation rather than to the oppressive centralization and omnipresent surveillance of all aspects of our lives that the globalization project envisions. Localism and regionalism, this is our salvation, which is why I support Novorossia.

                2. Abe, NYC

                  For the time being Moscow is an useful counterbalance to DC, the lesser evil standing in the way of the ultimate evil

                  Sure, ze end justifies ze means. I used to think progressives (among which I still count myself) had the moral advantage, due to their intellectual honesty and consistency. It was a huge shock and disappointment to learn otherwise – it increasingly appears to be just another interest group, different only in the agenda and the breadth of constituency. And so when Occupy protests injustice and government corruption in New York they’re heroes, but when Maidan does the same in Kiev they’re scum. When US invades Iraq or Afghanistan that’s reprehensible but when Russia invades and annexes part of another country that’s kosher. When Washington meddles in Libya that’s outrageous but when Russia quite openly nurtures a rebel force in a neighboring country that’s in defense of local population.

                  And sure, the kiselevs and simonyans will come with all sorts of justifications and coverups: they’re nazis, they eat little children for breakfast, they are about to launch holocaust on Russian speakers, etc, etc, just like the o’reillys and krauthammers here in the US are never short of justifications for another invasion or stab at the remnants of the New Deal. But I never thought I’d see progressives just as willing to swallow the propaganda hook, line, and sinker, as the most hard-line neocons.

                  1. OIFVet

                    I had no idea there were sizable ethnic US-ian (ha!!!) populations in Afghanistan, Lybia, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, Central America, South America, Indonesia, Greece, Egypt, Yemen, etc. Like it or not, the Russian justification does bear some semblance of truth, whereas America’s shrill protestations reek of rank hypocrisy. Yes, too bad for those Maidanites who were sincere, but what did they accomplish really? Another oligarch and a bunch of fucking nazi war criminals in charge, and IMF serfdom that will make their lives even worse. The punishment will continue until morale improves, that’s what the plan is.

                    As to the “progressives”, why in the world would you even consider yourself a part of a pseudo movement that is unable and unwilling to stand up for their self-professed principles, a bunch of battered-wife-syndrome sufferers who are only too willing and eager to be spanked again and again by the corporate democrat “left?” What intellectual honesty and consistency do you see in a group of poseurs that bends over backwards to justify the neolibercon doings of Obama, a puppet for the elites who openly mocks and despises them? No, it is not the “progressives” who are denouncing the American involvement in Ulkraine, it is those of us of all stripes who are sick and fucking tired of our government starting fires all over the fucking world while our own country is being looted and neglected by those same fucking elites. Tune in to MSNBC and “progressive” talk radio and you will hear the “progressives” cheering Obama in true Team America fashion: clueless, ignorant, and damned proud of it.

                    1. Abe, NYC

                      Russian speakers in Ukraine are no justification at all for an invasion. By this logic, Mexico could invade the US next time there are riots in LA (or indeed vice versa), the annexation of the Sudeten was justified, and Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was perfectly kosher halal. Indeed, any Arab country can now invade any other Arab country.

                      Leaving Nazi comments aside (there are far more of them in the Russian government), Ukrainians established something that Russia has failed to achieve in 700 years – fear of the people by the rulers. This is far more important and, hopefully, durable than any temporary economic woes. By contrast, Russians are busy establishing yet another personality cult which helps mask the stagnation in the economy and which ensures the collapse of both the economy and the regime when oil prices fall or (at the latest) when the oil runs out.

                    2. OIFVet

                      Russian speakers AND security interests. I suppose you believe that the US would stand idly by if Russia placed bases and anti-ballistic missiles in Canada and Mexico and made a move on the port of San Diego, if not then yours is yet another invocation of the American exceptionalism clause. I guess you truly are a “progressive”, apparently foreign aggression by the US is OK if a democrat does it. I am willing to bet that you are even OK with domestic surveillance now but not when Bush did his illegal wiretapping. ‘Cause it’s OK if America does it when a democrat is in the White house.

                      “fear of the people by the rulers”. Yeah, they fear them so much that they gave them a glorious middle finger by replacing one set of oligarchs and political insiders with another. I suppose they expect a different result this time?

                    3. Abe, NYC

                      I suppose you believe that the US would stand idly by if Russia placed bases and anti-ballistic missiles in Canada and Mexico

                      I know the reaction to an attempt to place ballistic missiles near the US border at the height of the Cold War – there was a crisis but no invasion. I have no idea what the reaction would be to anti-ballistic missiles – which are not a direct threat, just like American ABMs cannot and wouldn’t protect the US against a Russian nuclear attack. In any case, I believe the plan to unilaterally place those in Eastern Europe is one of Dubya’s stupidest moves, which is saying something.

                      However, it has become obvious that it was even more stupid for Ukraine to bow to American pressure and ship its nuclear warheads to Russia in exchange for security guarantees, only to see itself stabbed in the back by its brotherly neighbor.

                      Be that as it may, Mr. Putin has by now ensured a much stronger NATO presence at his borders and given all sorts of hawks in Europe and US an iron-clad justification for military expansion.

                      And it’s a mistake to think that just because you will happily justify Russian aggression I must do the same for the US.

                    4. OIFVet

                      “stupid for Ukraine to bow to American pressure and ship its nuclear warheads to Russia” Right, Banderastan with nukes. ” Ukrainian parliamentary inquiry concluded that between 1992 and 1998, Ukraine lost $32 billion in military assets, in part through theft, discount arms sales and lack of oversight.” Good thing they didn’t have a few spare nukes lying around, waiting for the highest bidder. You want that to be nuclear armed? Pardon me but you are a fool to be making this argument.

                      “Mr. Putin has by now ensured a much stronger NATO presence at his borders and given all sorts of hawks in Europe and US an iron-clad justification for military expansion” Was Putin in power when Clinton decided to expand NATO contrary to promises made by James Baker to Gorby?

                      “And it’s a mistake to think that just because you will happily justify Russian aggression I must do the same for the US.” But you do, all you have done is attempt to rationalize US involvement in the Ukraine fiasco. Again, what came first, the color revolutions or Russian “aggression?” Aggression my butt, this is pure defensive reaction, and your biggest problem seems to be that the US and its clown car full of native Bozo clones are far too inept to close the deal against a lowly “regional” power.

                    5. Abe, NYC

                      Dear me, do you have any friggin’ idea of the scale of military theft in Russia? Just google and enjoy. They sold arms to Afghans and Chechens even as they fought them; they even tried to sell a submarine to Colombian narco-barons! And that, apparently, doesn’t scare you in the least. Well, it sure scares me, but what scares me even more is that Ukraine, as well as my own country, has as a neighbor a nuke-armed Stalinist empire hell-bent on re-colonization. And it’s very likely that if Ukraine didn’t give up its nukes it would now be whole and at peace. So which one of us is the fool, I leave to a third-party judgement.

                      Was Putin in power when Clinton decided to expand NATO contrary to promises made by James Baker to Gorby?

                      No he wasn’t, and I agree this was probably a big mistake. But what is certain is that those countries that did join NATO can now sleep well at night even as Ukraine, which didn’t, is being torn apart.

                      all you have done is attempt to rationalize US involvement in the Ukraine fiasco. Again, what came first, the color revolutions or Russian “aggression?”

                      Russian “aggression” was AGGRESSION while US involvement was involvement. Please make a distinction between the two.

                      P.S. I’m done with this stale thread, see you elsewhere.

  3. Luke Nolan

    Israel responds to rocket fire with Gaza airstrike
    “Air force attacks seven targets; earlier, three rocket were fired at southern Israel, two were intercepted by an Iron Dome battery.”

    “The IDF has responded to every incident of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank 12 days ago. More than 20 targets in Gaza were bombed by the Air force.”

    Amazing this hasn’t been called an invasion yet.


    US prevents UN condemnation of Israel over West Bank deaths
    “Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, told reporters he proposed the press statement after listening to a Palestinian appeal for council action, but one council member wanted stronger language and one didn’t want any reference to Israel.

    Diplomats said Jordan insisted that “deploring” wasn’t strong enough and US Ambassador Samantha Power said any language directly criticizing Israel would be “a red line” for the Americans. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the consultations were closed.”


    1. James Levy

      I think the US government rather cleverly (at first) used Israeli “ultras” (almost the entire Israeli political elite) to deflect anger from the US (and hide US intentions) onto Israel. Israel got to strut and kick around the Arab untermensch, and didn’t care if the Arabs hated them because at least since 1956 they’ve felt immune to Arab military pressure. The US got Israel to do most it her dirty work and then pretended to be an “honest broker” interested in peace. Trouble is, the Arabs stopped being fooled after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Any vestigial belief that the US would do anything but side with the Israelis against them vanished. Since then they have consciously chosen sides–for the Americans or against them. You can pretty much read the history of the Middle East since then as a playing out of that process.

      1. Luke Nolan

        I think you’re right that Israel is just a cog in the greater US imperialist machine and not the other way around, despite the questionable national loyalties of some top foreign policy planners like Richard Perle.

    2. Luke Nolan

      Keiser Report: Wall Street Jihadists (E618)

      Max and Stacy discuss Iraq, Isis, oil prices, and US gov social media sock-puppetry. The second half with Luke Rudkowski of is also really good; he talks about independent journalism, the limits of contemporary social media–including his conflict with Facebook–and recent demonstrations in Germany against the Federal Reserve.

      Previously I looked at the whole fracking enterprise through the peak oil lense–which I still think is valid–but now I wonder if–at least in part–the reason the fracking agenda has been pushed so hard by the US and Britain–despite the atrocious underlying economics, to say nothing of the environmental cost–is because it was a precautionary hedge against the inevitable hike in oil prices that would follow the destabilization of the middle east. China, Russia, India, and the rest of the world would take the hit in such an eventuality, but if the fracking play payed off–and it doesn’t really look like it has or will–then the US would potentially be insulated as the global economy melts down, allowing it to keep its status as the global hegemon. In fact, the promise of fracking fuel to Europe by the US has already been made to assuage fears of a potential cessation of energy imports from Russia due to the conflict in Ukraine.

      1. hunkerdown

        How empty of a promise, though? The infrastructure to deliver shale gas to Europe this winter in their needed quantities isn’t there, never mind the gas. Without suspending popular opinion (aka “democracy”) in the US, nakedly and for real this time, and some pipeline builder working round the clock (with National Guard protection, I’m sure), Putin has a pretty strong lock on Europe’s thermostat this coming winter, at least.

          1. Luke Nolan

            Bulgaria’s government to collapse over South Stream
            “Bulgaria’s government will be the first in the European Union to fall after the EU elections, against the background of the unfolding controversy over the Gazprom-supported South Stream gas pipeline.”

            “Oresharski announced the decision to freeze South Steam after he received in Sofia US Senators John McCain, Ron Johnson and Christopher Murphy. On 6 June, the US Ambassador to Bulgaria Marcie Ries said that Bulgarian companies participating in the construction of South Stream could be hit by sanctions. The reason is that Bulgaria has awarded the construction of the Bulgarian stretch of South Stream to a consortium with the participation of Russia’s Stroytransgaz, a company linked to Genady Timchenko, an oligarch under US sanctions “

            1. OIFVet

              In all fairness South Stream is only the latest issue in Bulgaria, the government has been teetering since the day after the early elections last year. Lots of Open Society money is being spent to bring the government down, and it looks like elections in September or October. One way or another South Stream will be built, and sooner rather than later. What really gets under my skin though is the European Commission’s double standard in selectively punishing member countries: it did absolutely nothing when Germany, France, and the UK exceeded the ridiculous 3% deficit limit, but it sure punished Ireland and Spain for the same “offence.” Norwegian, French, and British companies applied for and received exemptions to work on energy projects with Iran, Bulgaria is punished for South Stream as part of the US campaign against Russia.

  4. Doug Terpstra

    Did Obama Know that ISIS Planned to Invade Iraq? Hmmm … Mike Whitney’s question is as rhetorical as those about Papal theology, the evacuation habits of bears, and whether the spontaneous and totally unforseeable ISIS “crisis” could possibly have anything whatsoever do with Israeli designs for Greater Israel. The adjacent article by Gilbert Mercier similarly speculates about where this Pandoran horde of horrors might lead. Enter Putin’s pledge of support to the betrayed, noncompliant al-Maliki, and “blowback” may be a wholly inadequate word for the whirlwind soon to be reaped by the US and its patron client(s).

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    You are not Google’s (or anyone’s) customer.

    ‘I am a human being, dammit!!!!’

    Go find your customers somewhere else…perhaps in Robot-land or DroneWorld. I only engage in non-monetary relationships with the rest of the world.

    I’m glad I got that idealism/fantasy off my chest….hope I didn’t have too much coffee already.

    1. McMike

      This is a fundamental misunderstanding people have, and applies double to Facebook. People seem to think they own and control the relationships they have on Facebook and Twitter, when in fact they are worse off than rats running a maze, and their cherished communal space in fact exist purely at the whim and convenience of their corporate overlords – very much like shopping mall food courts became de facto public spaces, except ultimately trumped by private property rights.

      The article was actually a very important insight, particularly as it applies to credit reporting. And while the author is correct that many people know this, I do not think many people fully appreciate the ramifications.

      It is actually a symptom of how deeply the privatization of everything has progressed. There is no civic or personal anymore, just corporate ownership of everything.

      I personally believe that there will come a moment when people realize that their lives have become completely privatized – like patenting the human genome, people will learn the hard way when they say in outrage to some act by Google: “hey, I OWN my life!” Actually, no, you do not.

      1. Banger

        Cool thoughts! Where does it lead? Can it be changed? I think it can be changed but we have to start by rejecting the conventional thinking on everything and that’s a pretty tall order since people want normalicy and the oligarchs know this–even if the normal is stressful and dysfunctional. That’s why we probably need some breakdowns before change can occur.

        1. McMike

          It’s absolutely fascinating to me. I have many business clients and friends who have entrusted their entire personal communications, financial records, and business operational records to Google. Everything entrusted into a single, arguably sociopathic, and undeniably self-interested corporation. All their eggs in one basket.

          … and they are not even the customer!…

          It is an act of complete faith; falling backwards into Google’s arms with your eyes closed like at a corporate team-building seminar.

          I fully understand that keeping your own records is complicated, sometimes annoying, time consuming, and has risks of its own. Nevertheless, the idea of handing it all over to those a-holes is completely unappealing to me. As for Facebook, watch the veins pop out of my forehead contemplating that.

          I recall back in the early days of ATM machines. I had a friend who didn’t keep receipts, didn’t reconcile his bank account. He expressed total faith in the technology and bank infallibility.

          Then he got a card stolen from his mailbox and also had some mystery charges all in the period of a couple months….

          This Google/Facebook thing is not going to end well, for the users.

      2. Skeptic

        “It is actually a symptom of how deeply the privatization of everything has progressed. There is no civic or personal anymore, just corporate ownership of everything.”

        Good to see this type of post here, looking at the Big Picture.

        In Britain, did not RBS used customer data to then screw the customer?:
        What else do you need to know, Folks? Get the Hell outa 1% Dodge! Simple. Disconnect from them wherever you can. The more disconnections, the more profits fall, the closer to Change. Build your Life outside their control.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps as a compromise, we can agree that we are ‘consumable products.’

        And that’s the way it should, as it had been for millions of years, when our ancestors did their best to ‘taste better’ to the lions, alligators, etc.

        1. Gerard Pierce

          No necessarily true. I recall a number of articles in the past that said that the human race only survived because the carnivores thought that we tasted bad and smelled worse. Sorry I can’t provide a link, but the theory made sense when I first read it.

      2. McMike

        Actually, our data and clicking is the product.

        Google would probably prefer it if we humans could be removed from the equation entirely.

      3. Ed S.


        A different twist: If you’re not paying, you’re the product.

        Didn’t think of that (but wish I did).

  6. McMike

    On net neutrality and saving capitalism from itself.

    I have long struggled with articulating my views on things like net neutrality, pro-consumer regulation, anti-trust, etc. The points that come down my list are mainly pro-consumer and from the left, about fairness, justice, balanced power, equal access, democracy, etc. blah blah liberal blah.

    But the bottom line is pro-business: allowed to do whatever they want, the companies will strangle the golden goose. It is inevitable. At bottom, net-non-neutrality is bad business, and every business that is not a giant media corporation or massive retailer should oppose it.

    The internet is already being strangled due to the American deregulatory crapification approach. Speeds are lower and costs higher than other nations, the product is starting to stagnate, rural areas are suffering. Innovation slows. We end up with a few companies making good money, and the rest of the national economy paying rents and sucking hind tit.

    This current left/right divide is indeed false, it is actually about big versus small. The regular folks on the left should indeed be aligned with the regular folks on the right, and we should all be aligned with small and mid sized businesses.

    We have enough evidence that in the long run, companies allowed to do whatever they want, and get too large, and get their own way too much, end up stagnating everything for everyone, and we end up overall worse off – from the pro-business peoples’ own measurements. This is the wisdom in anti-trust legislation, not some wooly populist instinct.

    So anyway, what I struggle with is that the liberal arguments seem to come easy, and somehow in this, the fact that I am actually arguing for businesses’ own good gets lost. We argue in the immediate lens that this or that policy harms people, although the current business advocates want it anyway. I think we should move the lens further out and point out that eventually allowing these businesses what they want will harm all of us, and they need to be taught boundaries, like children.

    I am not some namby pamby liberal; I am a parent trying to raise an impetuous child. I am a wealthy patriarch, worried about my kids squandering the family wealth in a single decadent bender: I talk about social propriety, but the concern is actually the accumulated capital – which is not theirs to lose.

    So, (and I know this is a meandering thought), how do I, how do we, break out of the left-versus-right framing of our arguments, (the role of young naive idealists), and elevate ourselves into the role as the “conservative” adults in the conversation?

    That is the thing about progressive/liberalism in its finest sense – it is in fact systems thinking based, forward looking by learning from the past. Not merely some emotional haze about fairness for its own sake, but an analytical understanding that fairness is a critical component of the best performing systems.

    When Verizon comes and says: “let us balkanize the internet, it will be AWESOME” it should be we on the left who instead of shrieking about access for Amy Goodman’s radio show, should adopt that Ronald Regan stern grandfather look and say… “now son, there you go again”… trying to ruin a good thing for everyone.

    Anyway, this comes from my personal experiences in these sorts of dialogs with friends and acquaintances. Somehow my liberal social impulses come out, and so I default to them the role as wise sage business person. When in fact, it is they who are being short sighted and historically amnesiatic. And it is I who is trying to protect them from themselves, and protect the system they purport to love.

    Does anyone feel me here? Or am I talking out my butt…

    1. Banger

      I feel you, man–and I like what you are saying. I hate the vagueness and lack of rigor in most left-wing analysis of the political-economy–I’m always asking–“on what basis are you saying this, that or another.” I think emotional things like compassion are essential but should be grounded in some kind of intellectual framework and I don’t see it. The reason I don’t see it is because, like most of our culture, we are afraid of the truth. I am continually bringing up “deep politics” here and feel I must continue to do so at every opportunity. For example, my commentary on Whitney’s story implying that the U.S. knew ahead of time about the ISIS invasion is a case and point–Whitney excels at intelligently connecting dots–the dots are about as obvious as the a cloud passing overhead yet, we pretend it isin’t there. Suppose Whitney is right–what then? We have to make the leap–it implies that people know about stuff and aren’t reporting it. I will go further and say that mainstream reporters who are continually talking to intel types (they are always chatting up reporters) knew ahead of time like they knew that Saddam had no nerve gas but choose to pretend he did. Wherever there is power and a lot of money at stake you have conspiracies of one kind or another—that is the rule not the exception. So, my point is that we have to start with some grounding in reality and an understanding of history and realpolitik which is all that deep politics is.

      In the case of net neutrality obviously various forces are allying here and there and vast armies of lawyers, lobbyists, fixers and muscle are all in play–that’s Washington–not the bullshit crap you get from the media–that’s complete fiction. So we have to start by waking up and understanding that we live in an empire, and that includes Europeans, not whatever we think we live in and begin to open our eyes. Maybe read about Roman politics for starters particularly the last stages of the Roman Republic–there’s an eye opener!

    2. flora

      Great set of questions.
      per your comment: “how do we, break out of the left-versus-right framing of our arguments, ”
      There’s the non-left/non-right utilitarian argument, as you say. And it’s a good one. Like “how are you going to have a fair sports contest without umpires or refs.” Level playing field, etc.
      There’s also, I may be on the wrong tangent here – and apologies in advance if this sounds schoolmarmish – a reference to to Western ethics, instead of the smaller left/right framing. Hard to explain clearly what I mean. One aspect of Western ethics is the value of the individual as versus the will of the state or any large & powerful group or business. Majority rule/minority rights is an example. The “one” vs “the many”. The Bill of Rights. In Western ethics it’s assumed both left/right agree with that. But outside Western ethics you get a far left Mao and on the far right you get … well, you know. Both those believed the state was all and the individual was only either useful to the state or entirely useless and disposable. Both were well outside Western ethical thought and tradition. So I’m fumbling here to say something about a larger core of shared values by both left and right that pretty much no one talks about because it’s assumed. In fact, the Cracked article “5 Bullshit Lies…” (it’s funny ’cause it’s true) points out how the internet companies are trying to appeal to Western ethics (the value of the individual, the Bill of Rights, etc) in a bullshit way to sell this stuff.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the article, The IMF…Sucking Sound…Hot Money:

    In an interview, Siddharth Tiwari, Director of the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department at the IMF, pointed out that the issues related to the unwinding of “unconventional monetary policy” – a formal euphemism for QE, ZIRP, and financial repression – would be “high on the IMF’s work agenda.”

    For developed economies that have these policies in place, “the question is when and how” to undo them “smoothly,” given that there would be “repercussions for the rest of the world” – the “spillovers” – and for the countries unwinding them, currently the US – the “spillbacks.”

    The IMF is full of euphemisms. “Spillovers” from the Fed’s policy changes, or perceived policy changes, are the gigantic sucking sound left behind when the hot money leaves the emerging markets. They got a taste of it last summer after the taper cacophony caused the hot money to suddenly evaporate. How developing countries respond “if capital flows and currencies become more volatile in this process,” he said, that’s the to-be-or-not-to-be question for those countries.

    It’s interesting that our QE money becomes hot money in the emerging markets – and this happens way too often than is healthy – but we rarely, if ever, see, much less worry about, printed hot money from, say, Venezuela, or it rushing back out to Caracas, regardless of how much they print.

    Our printing money is different from their printing money.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      You’re on a caffeine tear this am. I think Wall St’s Criminal Reserve and the IMF are prepping the next grand disaster extortion play, setting the stage for a single gobal currency and one-world government. What’s the alternative coincidence theory?

  8. Organic Gal

    I’m gonna defend Whole Foods against the charge that it practices “bait and switch” tactics. Yes, I work for the company, so feel free to disregard if you wish. We always buy organic produce if it is available and not insanely expensive (and sure, this is a vague standard, but I’m guessing Larry Ellis can have organic fruit express shipped across the world and finds the cost “reasonable”). Local is always preferred to produce shipped from across the country or the world (not true with other retailers). And when neither is available, because of seasonality or quality or supply, we buy based on quality and price, same as any supermarket. We are all about options: some will/can pay more for organic, others just value high quality.

    In general, I think Whole Foods has redefined the mix that all supermarkets feel compelled to offer customers–and, frankly, significantly raised the bar–in all three of these segments. That’s a major contribution to public health, not bait and switch. Without Whole Foods it’s likely that Monsanto and co. would have done to fruits and veggies what they did to corn and soybeans–mono crops raised on big agrofarms with proprietary pesticides and zero consumer choice. Whole Foods and it’s customers created a space in which small farms and alternative products could exist long enough to catch on with the mass market.

    Does this mean that everyone should shop there forever? No. We have to earn customer loyalty ever day. A ruling like this one in California doesn’t help. Those stores deserve the slap. You have to factor the tare weight in every single time you weigh a container of food. Otherwise you are ripping off the consumer. But I would ascribe it to poor training, lazy workers and terrible oversight rather than company policy. I’m sure when I get to work today there will be lots of emails and lectures about making sure we don’t do this in our store. If not, I’ll make sure to raise the issue myself. Being the market leader in organic produce means you are held to a higher standard. This episode is a black eye, but it doesn’t negate all the things we do right every day. Peace.

    1. Banger

      Thanks–this is what we need. Rather than demonize this or that person, company or sector, let’s broaden ou understanding by listening to each other rather than just shooting from the hip–reality is comples and even more interesting than we think.

    2. McMike

      I prefer a little more nuanced view.

      WF has certainly raised the bar, moved the goalposts, changed the conversations etc. They are definitely supporters of local ag and ag processors here.

      On the other hand, WF has had to been caught “cheating”, and dragged kicking and screaming on more than a few issues. Chinese organics, GMO, and others come to mind from memory.

      WF did not get behind the GMO campaign without a lot of pressure.

      I think also in general they tend to exploit the organic halo to push a lot of “natural” products that are in fact potentially full of GMOs, highly processed, etc. Especially in the snacks, frozen, and health & beauty aisles.

      I am glad they are in the market, but they need to be kept honest. And is it an improvement at having low-choice/low-inventory hippie food coops as the only option.

    3. OIFVet

      Huge organic mono crop agrofarms are a fact in Cali, and the fact is the vast majority of what you guys stock is shipped over vast distances despite your protestations that you look for local first. The problem is that behind the feel-good labels that make yuppies feel good about themselves, WF is a big corporation that practices economies of scale, and those are decidedly stacked against the small local guys and in favor of the big industrial agrofarms, organic or not. Those huge ‘organic’ farms are just as bad for the environment, particularly after one factors in the amount of energy that goes into shipping their products to market. That makes the ‘organic’ label just another form of greenwashing as far as I am concerned, a label now devoid of meaning much like the ‘left vs right’ false dichotomy that people keep pointing out here at NC. It has been hijacked by corporations like WF and Walmart and crappified, just like all other good ideas that threaten the status quo. Therefore I refuse to spend money at your corporation’s facilities. I prefer to support my local small market instead, as they are based in my neighborhood and their produce is ALWAYS local.

    4. jrs

      There’s less and less organic produce every day at Whole Foods. Pretty soon it will have the organic selection of the supermarket with it’s organic section? And at that point why even bother to go to Whole Paycheck? I really don’t care if most of the packaged foods are organic, because it doesn’t make up most of my shopping. I’m sick of WF switching over to conventional produce no matter what the $ price.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Another gem from the IMF…Sucking Sound…Hot Money article:

    “There are other options, such as letting the market do its job. Bondholders, who’ve benefited from the income stream, would lose their shirts in return for buying these crappy high-risk bonds in the first place. Countries would bear the consequences of their governments’ reckless spending and borrowing policies. Governments would either resort to prudent budgets or print and devalue the currency until the infuriated people throw the scoundrels out…”

    I believe this worry about the scoundrels (who printed too much to facilitate reckless government spending) being thrown out, does not apply to the only exceptional country in the world.


    Because ours is one of the rare currencies that are backed by commodities – in this case, oil.

    The Dollar switched from being backed by gold to being backed by oil a few decades back. Unlike the fixed conversion rate to gold, the new scheme allows for flexible conversion between oil and the Dollar, depending on how it’s traded on the futures market.

    As long as oil-producing sovereigns agree to the arrangement that oil is to be traded in dollars, our currency is the global reserve currency – the only one backed by the commodity oil.

    So, instead of France asking for gold with their dollar reserves, we can look forward to the Chinese asking for oil with their dollar reserves.

    1. direction

      Maybe this is obvious to NC readers, but out in the mainstream, it seems many people have never heard of it: that the reason we started the Iraq war in the first place was because Sadaam broke rank in 1999 and started trading oil on the Euro, and profited. Kind of makes it all click in to place and make sense, right?

      Here’s an article that references others if you want talking points:

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When you sell oil in another currency other than the Dollar, that’s like stealing gold from Fort Knox.

        All of the world’s oil (or at least those controlled by OPEC) is to be sold in dollars. That makes the oil our oil (as we can print as much money as we want).

        As there is more oil than gold, this is a bigger Fort Knox. And you can get away with a little more money print (it’s like having more gold to back up, in this case, Black Gold)…unless you get up into where Relativistic Money effect takes over, when you have to deal with very large money-dimensions and money-velocity. As we are way under the Luminal Money limit, some people then assume we can print as much as we want.

        In any case, all of the world’s oil is our oil – that’s meaning of selling oil in dollars.

        And when you sell oil in another currency, you are stealing our Black Gold from our global Fort Knox.

        1. MyLessTHanPrimeBeef

          That makes printing money printing blood, as we need to protect our global Fort Knox…less about energy dependency, but more about defending our global reserve currency (a much bigger game)…which means even after we go all electric cars, we’d still be there, meddling, sorry, intervening, sorry, sending advisors, as long as other countries are still oil-dependent.

          Instead of Blood Diamond, we have Blood Money.

          1. MyLessTHanPrimeBeef

            Going by the number in Wiki, under List of Countries, Proven Oil Reserves, OPEC has about 1,200,000 MMb or 1.2 trillion barrels.

            That’s about $120 trillion dollars…not all available right at this instance to convert all the dollar holdings though.

            That’s the theoretical Luminal Money supply limit, I reckon, though something funny will happen.

            As you print more dollar-money, the price of oil will go up – so you can print more.

            As far as you are concerned, you are OK. But someone (or many others) will feel miserable though.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            One more thing about our global reserve currency.

            It’s true that as the reserve currency, we must run account deficits (Triffin Dilemma)

            But that doesn’t mean we must run trade deficits.

            Here is one example:

            We give foreign aid to the Grand Duchy.

            We specific they can only use that money to buy drones manufactured by us.

            So, we transfer cash to the Grand Duchy – that creates a current account deficit (a net negative cash transfer).

            They then buy our drones, over a period of time.

            Until they have exhausted that money, we will continue to have a trade surplus (from selling drones) and current account deficit.

            After WWII, a lot of dollars were put into global circulation that way.


            Defense contractors and their workers.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Maybe that’s why China is more eager to get off their oil dependency than us.

            If they are not, they should be.

            Though, unless oil is completely worthless, our Black-Gold backed money should still be good.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Let me explain this (When you sell oil in another currency other than the Dollar, that’s like stealing gold from Fort Knox) a little bit.

          You are supposed to slave away making smart phones for export to us, so you can collect your meager dollars, that we print out of thin air.

          You are then to go buy oil with that dollar-money.

          When you can buy oil without any dollar-money, it means you are not shipping smartphones over here to collect your out-of-thin-air money.

          The guy who sells you that oil is guilty of stealing those smartphones (that we have gotten) from us.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Saddam stole Black Gold from our global Fort Knox…political sovereign or not, dictator or otherwise, you can’t do that.

        1. afisher

          I just have a question based on the notion that oil for gold is the new normal…so what does the observer make of the China / Russia action to move their trades from dollars to rubles?

          I’m not trying to be facetious, but if one believes that US is pulling the strings in middle-east as described via Counterpunch – and Russia backing Malicki – then something isn’t adding up to 100 here.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            They can back their currencies with Yellow Gold if they want.

            There is more Black Gold than Yellow Gold.

            We back ours with Black Gold.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            One easy way to remember this is via this equation:

            E(nergy) = M(oney) x C(arbon)Consumption

            More E you have, More M you have.

            For a fixed E, with too much M, fewer people can consume the more expensive E.

            E= MC^2

          3. Luke Nolan

            I can’t speak to the significance of China and Russia trading in rubles, outside of it being an obvious show of defiance to the US, but I will throw out there that I doubt Russia could supplant the middle east in terms of satisfying China’s energy needs should they lose access to the region as a result of the current chaos. Russia also won’t be able to satisfy China’s agricultural or mineral needs should the Chinese ever be locked out of Africa.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    “…our elected officials, rather than being the best, are actually generally just like most other miserable human beings…

    I’d say you’re right. They know that the government’s unemployment numbers are BS, and they don’t want to get fired, look for a new job and have to buy their own “healthcare” insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

    Plus they’d have to give up their right to insider trade legally.

    It can be pretty tough out here in the “districts.” (Hunger Games reference alert.) And I hear those Post Office jobs are getting pretty hard to get.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Very perceptive. Fear and greed are powerful motivators.

      I’ve noticed replies get disconnected if I switch windows … may be other causes.

      1. Bunk McNulty

        Speaking of Fear and Greed, and the Commodification/Crapification of Everything:
        The United States of Cruelty

        “We cheer for cruelty and say that we are asking for personal responsibility among those people who are not us, because the people who are not us do not deserve the same benefits of the political commonwealth that we have. In our politics, we have become masters of camouflage. We practice fiscal cruelty and call it an economy. We practice legal cruelty and call it justice. We practice environmental cruelty and call it opportunity. We practice vicarious cruelty and call it entertainment. We practice rhetorical cruelty and call it debate.”

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          We “practice” all that cruelty, and then express surprise at the fact that some of us have become so adept at “bullying” others.

          The citizen apple doesn’t fall far from the homeland tree.

          Because “security.”

    2. jrs

      If they are merely lousy because they fear losing thier jobs, time to pass a @#$# guaranteed income bill already. Then no more worry.

  11. Jim Haygood

    GDP, comrades: some of us are not meeting our production quotas. Today’s third revision for 1Q 2014 showed a -2.9% annual rate of decline.

    This shocker will get a lot of press, but quarterly values are volatile. On a 12-month lookback, nominal GDP grew 2.9% while real GDP (after inflation adjustment) grew 1.5%.

    These are ‘treading water’ numbers, consistent with a dull economy. What will J-Yel and the central pranksters do? Probably stay the course and wait for more data. Hey, it’s not their fault!

    1. Banger

      Jim, I think steady-state is the goal–no big ups and no big downs in terms of GDP figures. Lots of speculative activity, for sure, to keep the money flowing from the public to the oligarchs but not too much so that it is stunningly obvious. I honestly believe that is the consensus agreement made after 2008. The growth (groaf) model has been abandoned by the elites–they pretend to favor it for propaganda purposes (everything these guys say is false or misleading).

      Personally, I think we can work with it–but first we have to accept it as the actual goal of our society and move on from that premise or we will continue to be wandering in the dark in the woods running into trees.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One more negative quarter and we will be in a recession within a depression, I guess.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Then there will be no more “negative” quarters. Even if there are. Bet on it.

        The US no longer does recessions. Even if they do.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      Heh, as Scott Bleier of Create Capital said sarcastically on twitter this morning: “The reason for Dow 17k?… Why, the -2.9% plunge in GDP, of course! Let’s hope for a real plunge this quarter so we can get to 18k!”

      Gotta keep those QE-ZIRP cards and letters coming, no?

  12. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Did Obama Know that ISIS Planned to Invade Iraq? CounterPunch

    ” … because young Shia males are flocking to the recruiting offices to join the army and the militias…”

    Sounds like it might be time for some of that “fog of war” friendly fire that can prove so helpful in controlling outcomes.

    “Could it be that US Intel agents have already made contact with these yahoos and gotten a commitment that they won’t attack Baghdad…”

    Darn. I was so looking forward to our having to DESTROY the billion dollar American embassy in Baghdad in order to SAVE it.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Obama only knows what our “intelligence” industry tells him — either everything is cool, when it’s not, or we face an existential threat from our own smoke and mirrors.

      Money will fix it, either way.

      Same folks who didn’t know the USSR had fallen until a full year after it happened.

  13. direction

    Bait and switch seems to be a bit of a theme here today. I submit an opinion piece from a local physician in our rural town for an “on the ground view” of how, even here in the most liberal corner of california, nobody is buying that Obamacare is anything more than a giveaway to the big insurance companies and everyone else is going to get screwed.

    and a quote from the original article:

    “Anthem’s network did not include St. Joseph Hospital or Humboldt Medical Specialists — the North Coast’s largest group of specialized physicians — but few seemed to know that, including the two organization’s billing staffs, according to the agents…while local doctors were left with the frustration of telling longstanding patients they could no longer see them under their new insurance policies and agents were left worrying they’d sold clients health care’s version of the bridge to nowhere, Anthem seemed to be doing just fine. After all, the insurance giant was pulling in premiums — averaging some $300 a month — from thousands of Humboldt County residents while dolling out physician reimbursement rates lower than Medi-Cal and Medicare, the government subsidized insurance programs for the poor and elderly. One can imagine it being a pretty profitable business model.”

    (Anthem has now extended to cover the hospital here)

    1. Banger

      Thanks–it’s important to see the doctor side of things. On the one hand, I don’t like doctors and their steadfast opposition to saner health care policies, on the other I have sympathy for their current dilemma. Those of us who have steadfastly opposed the ACA and seen if for what it was always meant to be–making the insurance industry a part of the State, are being proven right. The really, really sad part of all this is the left’s support of this abomination masquerading as reform. Yes, they threw some crumbs at those of us who are the sickest but the left completely missed the boat on this issue.

          1. OIFVet

            It is far too subtle for many people though, even to the majority of those who consider themselves “lefties.” Combine intellectual laziness aimed at avoiding any and all cognitive dissonance (“Obama means well but is hamstrung by Congress”) and media propaganda that has made the term ‘left’ devoid of all meaning and you have what we have: both democrats and republicans are convinced that the democrat party is the “left.”

            1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              I agree with that, too.

              You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. If you can motivate enough fools to vote their emotions — no matter how obviously wrong they are — you can f*ck a country up, long term, but good.

              My apologies to Abe Lincoln.

      1. juliania

        Happy to see some are as concerned as I am about that Social Security garbage. So concerned am I that I would even suppose all of the Iraq-Syria-ISIS-Ukraine malarky is sparkling confetti meant to dazzle us whilst they steal the last big social program behind our backs. (Oh, and maybe the Snowden affair as well )

        Security, anybody, security?

  14. dcblogger

    40% of Detroit’s population is about to have their water shut off

    The Detroit Water and Sewage Department is conducting mass water shut offs in Detroit Michigan which will effect over 120,000 account holders over a 3 month period (June-September 2014) at a rate of 3,000 per week. This accounts for over 40% of customers who are using the Detroit Water system and has been dubbed a violation of Human Rights by various organizations. 70,000 of those accounts are residential accounts which could amount to anywhere from 200,000-300,000 people directly effected.

    This is a public health catastrophe.

    1. hunkerdown

      70000 people moving downtown can favorably compete with any Wall Streeter’s security detail, even Jamie Dimon’s.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        At our rate of population growth, life expectancy probably won’t matter much, in the big picture, until it drops below 45, or so.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe Detroit can secede and start printing its own currency, even before UN membership?

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            Motor City Money (MCM — US Steel, coins only).
            They could name the coins after their dead legacy vehicles:

            Nickel: The Packard
            Dime: The Studebaker (from Indy, though)
            Quarter: The Stutz Bearcat (I know, Jim, it was an Indianapolis brand, too, but those were different times — all the poets studies rules of verse, and those ladies, they rolled their eyes. H/T Lou Reed).
            1: AMC (a.k.a The Rambler)
            2: DeSoto
            5: AMC Pacer
            10: Hudson
            20: Hupp
            50: Oldsmobile
            100: Plymouth

            With a few left over for naming of larger denominations.

  15. Bunk McNulty

    There was much cynicism a while back regarding Lawrence Lessig and his MayDay Super PAC, including someone finding a connection to “No Labels.” I came across this endorsement that appeared in Forbes Capitalist Tool around the same time. Yes, we all know about lying down with dogs and waking up with fleas, but ever since David Brat and his “those guys should have gone to jail” moment, I have been thinking (always a dangerous activity) about whether there might be a way to unite the Tea Party/Libertarians and…(what do we call ourselves now? “Progressives?” Isn’t that out of favor now?)…how about Sane People Who Know Free Markets Are A Theoretical Construct and that Poverty Is Not A Lifestyle Choice and etc. It seems to me that whatever Lessig’s motives might be, his reasoning seems sensible. Or am I just letting myself in for a flea bath?

  16. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    Our problem, in a nutshell, is that we have no political Left, left.

    There is NO political balance in either US or global politics.

    We’ll get much worse before we get a little better.

  17. here hold this bag

    Yeah, Swanson’s right, it looks bad, but you ain’t seen nothin yet.

    In the Awlaki murder memo you see the government’s legal hacks tiptoeing around universal-jurisdiction law. They hint at 18 U.S. Code § 956, which is municipal law pertaining to Foreign Relations and Intercourse, and they refer to the Highly Unlikely Theoretical Jeopardy of universal jurisdiction legal exposure in the satellite state of Yemen, but they don’t dare mention the complement inherent in international criminal law: the corresponding customary international law authoritatively codified as Rome Statute Article 7(1a) and (i).

    That means there’s more in the SCIF: another document that lays out the government’s legal stance in case of proprio motu ICC investigation or UNSC referral. The US government will treat this as a political problem, since the Rome Statute provides it with various escape clauses courtesy of plump squirming maggot Harold Koh. But the decision to piss away international standing takes careful consideration, and must be balanced against the expedient of sacrificing a scapegoat or two. I guarantee you that Obama has not seen that memo – it’s way above his pay grade as expendable figurehead and spokesmodel. Under defined conditions the state will crap Obama out to decoy its pursuers like a sea cucumber blows its guts out its cloaca. That’s the memo you want, the autotomy plan.

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