Links 6/30/14

In pictures: The 2014 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest Telegraph (furzy mouse)

Pushed to the Limit Damn Interesting (Chris M). Would like to know what our pilot Richard Smith thinks of this.

Volocopter – the world’s first green helicopter e-volo Richard Smith: “Range a bit short @20miles until they get better batteries. Credible bods behind it, hope they sell a few.”

Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t. New York Times

Sierra Leone: Sheltering Ebola-infected people ‘is a crime’ BBC

The Dirty Truth About Clean Energy OilPrice

Peru now has a ‘licence to kill’ environmental protestors Guardian (Chuck L)

Five myths about disruption Washington Post (David L)

Google Glass Hacked, Can Record Everything You Stare At Wolf Richter (Chuck L). The fact that hackers can steal your ATM PIN ought to be a product-killer, but I have no doubt that more Glassholes are in our future.

As YouTube keeps screwing over musicians, labels ask the EU to lay the hammer down Pando

Man sets himself on fire in protest against Japan defence policy changes South China Morning Post

Chinese bulldozers fall silent MacroBusiness

Rice-pledging scheme’s dominoes are ready to fall Bangkok Post

Shell company barriers in place Richard Smith’s long distance harassment appears to have played a role.

Juncker’s nomination, Cameron’s defeat DW

Phone-hacking trial: now it’s over, has anything really changed? Guardian (Richard Smith)

David Cameron to allow ALL public land to be privatised – another devastating blow to democracy 4bitNEWS. Lambert: “Can this be true?”

Israel Ian Welsh


Choosing enemies, propaganda, regime change and plain dumb policy Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Militants Leverage Iraq Gains in Syria Wall Street Journal

ISIL declares new ‘Islamic caliphate’ Aljazeera (Nikki)

Will The New Caliphate Unite The Middle East Against It? Moon of Alabama

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

New N.S.A. Chief Calls Damage From Snowden Leaks Manageable New York Times. Since hardly any new info is coming out, why should the security state worry?

U.S. Relies On Law from Governments Which Don’t Even HAVE a Constitution to Justify Assassination of U.S. Citizens By Drone George Washington

Hillary Clinton’s money problem Politico

Bill Clinton defends Hillary: ‘We were $7m in debt … she’s not out of touch‘ Guardian. This sounds like doubling down. Most people can’t claw their way out of being in $70,000 of non-mortgage debt. Compared to a $12 million book advance for him and an $8 million book deal for her in 2000?

White House seeks new deportation powers Guardian

Polarized Politics Led To Cantor’s Defeat– and Cochran’s Victory. Why the “Uncommitted Center” Is So Important (Cantor part 2) Angry Bear

The race to stop Las Vegas from running dry Telegraph (furzy mouse)

Gun Safety Video With Sex Toys Goes Viral Patriot Update (Lawrence R). Only in America.

With Teacher Tenure Threatened, Trouble in Every Direction for Public Education Truthout

Workplace secrecy agreements appear to violate federal whistleblower laws Washington Post

5 Terrible Things I Learned as a Corporate Whistleblower Cracked (JMH). #3 is particularly creepy.

C-Span on current books on the financial crisis. Of course, the critics were at 7AM and Geithner was at 9 AM (Peter w)

Is a US inflation black swan taking flight? MacroBusiness

Class Warfare

Why are the Super Rich So Angry? James Surowiecki, New Yorker

Income Inequality and Youth Unemployment Project Syndicate

Adventures in Job Hunting David Cox, Firedoglake

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

Links dog and cat sleeping together

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Richard Smith

    Re Pushed to the Limit, it’s mindboggling, but a trusted story; more on Risner in WIkipedia etc.

  2. ex-PFC Chuck

    “Choosing Enemies, Propaganda . . . ” is the most clear-headed and comprehensive assessment of the clusterf**k that is US foreign policy these days that I’ve run across recently. “Confusedponderer” is a frequent commenter at SST and from his posts and comments I infer that he is retired military, like his host Pat Lang.

    1. Banger

      It is an interesting article in that it at least tries to bring a holistic understanding of U.S. foreign policy and, at a certain level it has a lot of validity. But U.S. policy is not made to simply make “mistakes.” These things, the “failure” in Iraq or Vietnam are not “mistakes” they are deliberate policy decisions where the real decision makers know pretty much what is at stake and what is in the Big Picture interest of those that determine foreign policy.

      First, Foreign Policy is highly compartamentalized, like the military. People get policy from above and then carry out that policy to the best of their ability putting the best shine on it they can. The order comes: Iraq has WMDs please go find evidence that they do. Do the operatives think, well, we should see if there actually is let’s check with Scott Ritter who was right there on the ground and is our best expert on the matter? No they don’t–they know very well that you do not ever questions orders just like the military–you just do what you were hired to do and what you were not hired to do is to think outside the box–anyone in government or any other powerful organization knows that.

      My point is this the “clear-headed” article you cite is not at all clear-headed. Read it again. None of this makes sense why would policy makers make the same mistake over and over and over and over and over again? Why? Because they are incompetent? No, they are not–most of the people working as rank-n-file Diplomats, Military Officers, CIA and other intel people are all pretty smart and not serial blunderers–I’m serious here. There are incompetents, of course, but they are the exceptions. So what is going on here? As the Church Lady would say…could it be…… Satan? Of course it is. And Satan in this case is the agenda of the Deep State. Remember that the Deep State is not “the United States of America” and does not believe that the people are in any way capable of understanding statecraft or the balance of power in the world and, in that, they are probably right.

      Lambert does not like the term “Deep State” but does anyone have a better term? Now, let me be clear here, I don’t believe this State is all-powerful–it is vulnerable and it is chageable and it is filled with factions as any Imperial court is filled with factions. But the key to understanding it is that the mainstream media is the most important and critical component of this regime and it has been infiltrated since the 1950s and before by the intelligence community starting with Operation Mockingbird and continuing until today. How do you suppose, for example, the media can turn on a dime so easily? Former enemies are suddenly friends and friends suddenly enemies–all of a sudden Putin is Hitler or Assad or Saddam all rulers who cooperated and worked with the State at one time or another. How does that happen. How does Qaddafi go from being someone who is cooperating with the U.S. on the GWOT all of a sudden become a monster about to kill who know how many thousands of people just for the heck of it unless the U.S. and its possessions in Europe act? I will tell you how. Certain people put something in the ear of the editor of the NYT and suddenly Judith Miller erupts with her straight from the CIA texts. Was her info vetted? No, it was not because the NYT knew as well as I did at the time that her information was from the State. Another, very dramatic one and well-noted at the time–all reporters of all major mainstream media outlets in just a few days were pulled from El Salvador because death squad activities were no longer “news” I was sensitive to this because I knew one of those reporters pretty well and he was beyond enraged. This was in the early eighties.

      I know most people here do not want to face this but let’s wake up a little and move away from this notion that our government is somehow different from any other gov’t that ruled an Empire. The only difference is that, to keep the American Exceptionalist ideology intact (to make sure the people are primed to be deceived) the real government has to act in “secret” I put it in quotes because, really, they are hiding in plain sight–we just don’t want to see it the evidence is everywhere. So enough of this “mistakes were made” nonsense. Yes, mistakes were made here and there but the main thrust of U.S. policy has been pretty consistent since the 50’s–seriously check it out. And if any of you have spare time this summer–read up on your classical historians.

      1. Carolinian

        No, it’s because they are incompetent. Who can watch Kerry put his foot in his mouth for the upteenth time and not think he has a screw loose.

        The article is exactly right and its premise, that people with unlimited power face little consequence for their stupid actions and statements, is the best explanation for our incoherent foreign policy.

        The appropriate analogy for the U.S. right now would be the late stage empires that launched WW1. They didn’t have a plan either….just upper class twits bumbling around. A big reason for that war seems to have been famly rivalry among the crowned heads of europe. For this millions died. Of course you can cite all the great power rivalry explanations but none of the individuals involved seemed to have a clue about what was about to happen or how to conduct the war once it started.

        People’s actions aren’t always rational, particularly when they don’t have to be. Amazing the degree to which much of what happens throughout history is purely personal.

        1. paul

          They seem to be able to create and enfoce these conditions of impunity with great competence and a consistent,self interested rationale.
          Kerry does what is required, in recent times creating an impasse to allow the neocon agenda to proceed (Crazy? Not for young biden and his owners), just as he did when he bravely spoke up to open the exit door at the fag end of a previous, disastrous war.

          1. Carolinian

            I’m not a big believer in conspiracy theories. People’s motives are often a lot less intelligent than we’d like to believe. Of course if you believe chaos is the goal then almost any outcome could be said to be planned.

            1. Ulysses

              Chaos is in the eye of the beholder. Disastrous situations for most of the planet’s population are huge profit opportunities for the owners of Halliburton, Raytheon. Stratfor, etc.

        2. Banger

          You’re not completely wrong–there is hubris and self-deception in that world but it does not dominate. Read the Pentagon Papers sometime if you have the time–it’s an eye-opening set of documents. Experts pretty much agreed that Vietnam was probably not a win. I happen have known people in the world of foreign affairs–someone very close to me was in the middle of the Vietnam policy discussions and here is the bottom line: Bill Bundy who was basically in charge of that policy at State was sending messages to his brother McGeorge every day at the WH. State was skeptical of Johnson’s policies yet Johnson persisted, why? Johnson was no fool and was skeptical himslef of his own policy yet he persisted–why? Sheer folly? I don’t think so.

          There are thousands of very smart people who work on these problems, every day are they all fools? American operatives have been overthrowing and undermining gov’t around the world for decades–are they incompetent? You think that Washington is run by random idiots? You think corporate America would allow such a thing decade after decade? Look at the Iraq War–a failure? Really? Look how much money was made and how many people benefited, the same was true about Vietnam. The chaos there offered opportunity for all kinds of larceny and, ultimately, larceny is at the heart of the Deep State and its supporters. You don’t want to see it–then fine it’s easy to think, like Churchill that history is “one damn thing after another” which Churchill knew very well wasn’t true.

          1. Carolinian

            Look at our current situation–in the world, in our economy. It’s “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone.” There’s a strong reality distortion field surrounding the ruling elites these days. Their plan is there is no plan.

            As for your historical examples, I’m not sure that’s really what we are talking about. But in any case Vietnam not exactly a shining smart people success. Meddling in Iran, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Central America…all have had blowback.

            1. Banger

              Meaning that it wasn’t madness or folly that created policy in Vietnam–it was pressure from powerful forces that wanted the war to unfold as it did, more or less, with some hoping the war would expand and others oh wanted a less drastic approach. In other words, what Johnson chose to do is to please all the political forces around him which all profited from the situation. The exact same situation occured in Iraq except there were more people feeding on that carcass. It wasn’t foolishness that motivated the decisions in Iraq but, rather, larceny. I should think my point was pretty obvious.

            2. paul

              Where is this blowback? America seems remarkably undisturbed by its ruling class’s adventures.
              I forgot to mention Kerry taking one for the team in 2004……….

        3. Jagger

          Anybody remember 2004 when we had a choice between Bush II or Kerry? Those two were the best candidates our system could produce?? Have we ever had a set of presidential candidates as inept and incompetent as those two???

        4. Jagger

          Anybody remember 2004 when we had a presidential choice of Bush II or Kerry? Those 2 were the best choices our system could produce?? Has there ever been 2 such inept and incompetent candidates in our history???

          Maybe we didn’t realize in 2004 just how incompetent Kerry was but we certainly know now.

          1. Banger

            Neither he nor Bush were or are incompetent–this incompetence talk is foolish and ends up obscuring the reality–Kerry, in my view, threw the election. There was clear and obvious electoral fraud in Ohio yet Kerry refused to pursue it–why? Incompetence? All our leaders are incompetent? Then how did the U.S. creat and maintain a global Empire? This is all misdirection and fantasy. I know Washington very well and you don’t survive there on any leadership level without being a smooth operator.

            1. Ulysses

              The truth is that people can ruthlessly pursue an evil agenda for their own interests and still make a lot of mistakes. I think people who have become so powerful over the last several decades were bound to start getting a bit sloppy. They are not even bothering to maintain plausible deniability anymore for their most horrific criminal actions.

              The sad reality is that the police state in the United Stasi States of Amerika has advanced to a level where TPTB feel they no longer have to do a very good job “managing public opinion.”

              They have begun to expand the GWOT here at home. Kleptocrat protector AG Holder has begun to define anyone who expresses opinions critical of our kleptocracy as “militant radicals.” A couple of weeks ago he announced: “As the nature of the threat we face evolves to include the possibility of individual radicalization via the internet – it is critical that we return our focus to potential extremists here at home,”

              Does anyone doubt that all regular readers of NC, some of whom openly favor putting Holder’s criminal bankster buddies in jail, are, to our “justice system” panopticon worthy of especial scrutiny? Have you been to an anti-fracking., or anti-drone protest lately? There is nearly as many minutes of video footage of me now in the NSA vaults than all of Michael Caine’s movie appearances!

              1. Ulysses

                TPTB have good reason to fear that the frogs have begun to notice that the pot is boiling! Here’s a comment, on the FDL post in today’s links that expresses the growing outrage of more and more Americans:
                I’ve been out of work for nearly a year now. The so-called “job market” is a cruel fucking joke. Although most of us who are long-term unemployed are in this state for not much reason other than misfortune and bad timing we now have a scarlet letter emblazoned across every job application we submit. Clearly there must be something wrong with us since we worked for a company that no longer exists and no other employer saw fit to snap us up immediately after we were let go in a layoff, merger or business collapse. If, like me, you’re pushing 60 you basically have no chance. Unless you’re in the old boy network of CEOs, politicos and other elitist professions and can skate from one corporate board, lobbying firm, hack journalist or think tank position to another you’re fucked.

                I’ve given up on worrying about when the economy will “get better”. It already has “gotten better” (or never went bad) for the wealthy and well connected. If you haven’t benefited from the “recovery” then you have been selected for disposal on the scrap heap of the obsolete and worthless. Too bad but those are the breaks in the “new normal” created by the political duopoly and neo-liberal consensus of the cognoscenti.

                And no, neither Elizabeth Warren nor Bernie Sanders or anyone else you can think of is going to change this reality. Anyone attempting to do so will be co-opted or destroyed by scandal (they don’t shoot guys in open limos or hotel pantries or on motel balconies anymore) before they can do any damage to the PTB.

                F&^%$ the United Mistakes of America. It was always a corrupt, hypocritical, twisted, genocidal fraud representing itself as a paragon of moral virtue. There was some restraint introduced to limit the worst excesses for a brief period but those days are gone now that the dark nature of America has reascended thanks to the Reagan Revolution which is endorsed by all of its acolytes including both Clintons and Barack Obama.

              2. Banger

                I didn’t know about that Holder quote–thanks for the info. Not only is he a world class criminal but a fascist to boot–nice to know.

          2. david s

            2008 was just as bad, in hindsight. 2012 was also bad,

            The process is only capable of producing bums.

            1. FederalismForever

              There is NO DOUBT that the quality of our leading politicians has sharply declined in recent decades. This is because America only became a popular democracy for all adults, white or black, male or female, 18 years of age or older, in 1972, after Nixon lowered the voting age to 18. Since that time, all of the concerns our Founding Fathers had re direct democracy have been proven right, among which is the general public’s inability to recognize and select the best candidates. (And they ALL had major reservations about Democracy – even Tom Paine.)

              Just compare today’s candidates and major office holders with, say, the early Progressive Era. Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, Woodrow Wilson, Louis Brandeis, etc. etc., were ALL so much more accomplished and intellectually credentialed than ANY of our recent candidates. All of them could speak multiple languages; all of them had published serious legal or other scholarship (not just fluffy memoirs, like today’s candidates do). Brandeis, for example, graduated first in his class at Harvard Law at age 20! Taft and Hughes were near the top of their classes, etc. etc. Is it any wonder that the Theodore Roosevelt administration was so successful (at least in terms of setting goals and accomplishing them)? But those were different times, when the voting public appreciated intellectual accomplishment and wasn’t intimidated by candidates who were smart.

              Ironically, one of the Progressive Era’s big accomplishments – the direct election of Senators courtesy of the Seventeenth Amendment – is a key source of our recent troubles. We need to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment and bring back the concept of an aristocratic Senate, modeled on the ancient Roman Senates, as the Framers intended.

              1. James Levy

                How well did the Senate function circa 1870-1913 other than act as paid operatives of the moneyed interests? How great were the presidents between Jackson and Lincoln under the old rules? How about Grant, Harrison, Arthur, and Grover Cleveland? You are blaming our problems on the people at the bottom as if they are the ones who really control who gets nominated. This is a fantasy.

                1. FederalismForever

                  The era from Jackson to Lincoln can readily be distinguished on the grounds that the awful 3/5 clause of the Constitution was operative at that time, thereby allowing the Slave Power to hold power throughout that era (John Quincy Adams the only exception).

                  The era from the close of the Civil War through the 1920s is, quite simply, one of the most incredible periods in human history, with incredible scientific advancements, greatly expanded life expectancy and improved health, sharply rising standards of living (roughly 8% GDP growth throughout the 1880s and 1890s in the North), secured by rigid (if not fanatical) adherence to the gold standard and sound money, extremely high voter participation rates (again, not including the South), and extremely high rates of civic participation and civic literacy. All in all, a tremendous period of advancement and achievement (again, excepting the defeated South, which remained largely undeveloped and prone to periods of very high unemployment throughout). Truly, the Republican Party during this time must be counted as one of the most successful political parties ever, at least in terms of delivering wealth and prosperity to the great majority of its constituents, not to mention taking the lead on important issues such as slavery abolition, women’s suffrage, universal public education, and the first stirrings of the environmental movement. The Republicans you mention: Grant, Harrison, along with Garfield and McKinley, were all war heroes and very accomplished. Harrison and Garfield were extremely bright and were distinguished scholars. Grant’s memoirs were praised by Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein as a literary masterpiece. So, again, we see that the leaders of another era are far more accomplished and intelligent than our leaders today.

                  1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                    I agree with everything in your comment. However, the period you refer to still can’t hold a candle to the mid-20th century, for all of the standards you cite (even when gold backed our currency, under Bretton Woods II, it was more of a check on money creation than the full-blown fiat that followed it).

                    The period between 1939 and 1971, in the US, arguably lifted more people’s standard of living by a greater degree than at any time, or at any place, in the history of the world.

                    We’d still be doing as well if we had not allowed the debt economy to take hold over the past 40 years, or so. We still have the material goods, but they now represent debt — not wealth.

                    I remember a time when a person couldn’t buy a cheeseburger with a credit card (hell — I remember when there were only charge cards).

                    We should have left well enough alone and followed the wise laws our grandparent’s put in place for us (the goddamned liberals!).

                    1. FederalismForever

                      And I agree with everything in your comment. But here’s the problem with looking to the 1945-1971 era for guidance today: America during this time was the beneficiary of a truly historically unprecedented combination of circumstances, in that: (i) all of its major capitalist competitors were recovering from a World War; (ii) its three major non-capitalist competitors (Soviet Union, China and India) were undertaking ill-advised experiments with economic systems that were only successful in delivering mass famines and low growth, and had closed themselves off from the West; (iii) it was able to literally dictate the terms of trade and design the legal systems of its two defeated fascist competitors (Germany and Japan); and (iv) as a result of all of the above, America stood alone in the world – controlling up to half of world GDP.

                      Well, needless to say, this set of circumstances will never be seen again. Moreover, it was such an unusual period, that it’s almost worth placing a mental asterisk by all of American’s worthy accomplishments (e.g., the ones you list) during this time. People point to the relatively cooperative relationship between capital and labor in America during this time – but how much of that was due to the fact that America’s position in the world was so favorable? Today, by contrast, America is playing in a MUCH tougher league. That’s why I actually think the 1876-1928 period might be worth a closer look. During that era, America learned to compete against much tougher competition, and didn’t have to rely on a massive military-industrial complex to succeed.

                      This era is dismissed too readily as the “robber baron” era or the “gilded age”. When you look closely – particularly at the North, and mostly at the state level – there was a very high rate of civic participation and good governance.

                    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                      Lord have mercy on me for posting this, but the most informative US history lesson I have ever had came from this source:


                      This site is a national treasure.

                      I encourage you to visit it, and to do a search for ‘Hines’ — a photographer of child laborers at the turn of the century. (The site was named after an 11 year-old coal miner named Shorpy Higginbotham).


                      To get the real impact of the site, go to the home page and click the ‘next’ button.

                      You will see everything from civil war corpses, to steamboats, to the REALLY fast transition from horse to auto, to air travel, to mid-60’s Mustangs.

                      Warning — it’s addictive, and prints are cheap and archival:

                      One of my favorites:


      2. Jackrabbit

        Banger, this is just confusing. You imply that the problem – its uncertain that you even recognize that there is a problem because to you its all working as planned – lies everywhere BUT with the neocons. To do so, you put the Deep State cart before the neolibcon horse and use false equivalence (Vietnam = Iraq?).

        1. Jackrabbit

          PS The “usual suspects” make money in any war. With that in mind you could say WWII = Iraq.

          H O P

      3. VietnamVet

        Yes, this is an interesting question. Take three recent examples: Operation Barbarossa, Pearl Harbor or the appointment of John Tefft to be its new American Ambassador to Russia. He was American Ambassador in 2008 to Georgia when their Prime Minister decided to start the war with Russia. Then, he was the Ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 till last year during the lead up to the current civil war. He is not the man you to appoint to this job if you want to find a peaceful resolution to the current conflict between NATO and Russia.

        Exactly 100 years after the start of WWI is the rush to war incompetence or a conscious choice. We don’t blame WWI and WWII on the deep state but on the leaders at the time. No matter how much President Obama would like to become part of the Robber Baron Elite, if the Northern Hemisphere becomes uninhabitable, he will be blamed for it.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Foreign policy isn’t an effective tool for governing other nations.

      WTF do y’all think other nations will do in response to our policies? Roll over?

      The only “foreign policy” that counts is military force, and that can only result in a Pyrrhic victory, at best.

      Let others try to control the empires they so desperately crave.

      Our best offer, from here on out, is to allow other countries to voluntarily join our union. Anyone attacking us (and by “us”, I am referring to Americans on American soil), should understand that doing so is a cultural death-sentence for them.

      A two sentence statement of foreign policy.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Excellent point.

          Now, if only NATO members adopted our Constitution, paid US taxes, and voted in our elections.

          The added bonus would be to see how we’d handle all of the extra stars on the flag.

    3. Synopticist

      That article is a great analysis, and it echoes much of what I’ve been thinking in the last few years.
      US policy is led by people who are really not quite up to it intellectually, and who insist on simplified solutions to highly complex problems. The whole scorn shown for people in the “reality based community” didn’t go away with the neo-cons, but at least they had the excuse of not knowing how f*ckin dumb they were.

      The next administration learn’t only two lesson- one was “boo hiss Bush”, the other was “do your messaging better”. So now we have a totally compliant western media willing to pump out the propaganda 24-7, lying about nazi in the Ukraine and jihadis in Syria to a degree Bush and Blair could only have dreamt about come 2005. They might have learnt “hey, things are complex, lets try to understand before we blunder”, or “how do we do the least bad thing”.

      I understand that the lifelong civil servants within the US apparatus are clever and well informed, but the problem lies in the political decision makers, the Kerries and Powers, the Cheneys and Wolfowitzes.

      1. James Levy

        And these political appointees are much deeper into the system than they are in most advanced nations (with the possible exception of the Spooks and the Federal Reserve). We have nothing remotely close to the Permanent Secretaries who did so much to manage the British Empire (by our standards on a shoestring, and generally capably). Informed people can make mistakes just like all human beings, but it pays to have knowledge and an institutional memory when dealing with serious issues.

  3. Carolinian

    Raimondo on the Ex-Im bank…says it is joined at the hip to the MIC.

    a snip:

    The Ex-Im Bank’s alleged mission is to promote foreign trade: it does so primarily by loaning money directly to foreign governments (or foreign-owned companies) to enable them to buy American products, and by insuring – guaranteeing – loans. Established by Franklin Roosevelt’s executive order in 1934 specifically to subsidize trade with the Soviet Union, and later Cuba, in both cases the administration sought to use financial leverage to advance its foreign policy goals: lending support to the Soviet Union and the Cuban dictatorship of Juan Batista.

    Over the years the agency expanded – like all government programs – and eventually became what amounts to a massive slush fund for the politically connected corporate elite. Among its biggest “customers” are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Halliburton – all, not coincidentally, charter members of what Dwight Eisenhower deemed the “military-industrial complex.”

    I point out this confluence because until recently the Ex-Im Bank was a major fulcrum for arms deals involving US allies unable to afford the expensive arms purchases involved in fulfilling their duties as instruments of US foreign policy. And in the face of a libertarian offensive in Congress against Ex-Im’s reauthorization, the War Party is coming out in favor of not only keeping but expanding it to revive its former role as a clearinghouse for arms deals and loans to foreign despots.

    1. LucyLulu

      The Ex-Im Bank was created to support American exports, which at the time of FDR were sluggish. All major economies have an equivalent entity. Without the Ex-Im Bank, American exports wouldn’t be competitive. If Ex-Im hadn’t guaranteed Air India’s purchase of a fleet of Boeings, Air India would have struck a deal with Airbus instead. Much of this financing is not available otherwise and the default rate is 0.2%. They have consistently operated in the black. The business generated supports over 200,000 jobs, many of which would be lost to foreign competitors without Ex-Im financing.

      Yes, there are big corporations that lobby for favored status. It’s not immune to special interest influence. There are also quite a bit of small enterprise loans made. They’ve funded a hydroelectric dam in Sri Lanka and low cost eco-sustainable housing in Honduras. Interestingly, one of the proposed amendments by conservatives is to eliminate small business quotas. Another is to change the accounting method which would forecast losses into the future. Presumably these mythical losses would then have to be “paid for”. Reauthorization has to be run through the House Finance Committee. It would be the height of irony to see Hensarling shut down the Ex-Im Bank when he kisses ass for TBTF banks..

    1. Clive

      Unsurprising, but nevertheless depressing, given the comedy act levels of coverage that Japan “enjoys” this fell between the cracks of coverage of Iraq, the NSA and Kim Kardashian .

      Yes, Abe is an incompetent cretin, like so many other JP politicians. What usually happens is that committee decision making does, eventually, take notice of what is genuine popular sentiment (the continued reluctance to restart nuclear power plants en masse after Fukushima being a good example) and row back on the really dumb stuff. It all works out, eventually. Usually.

      And a lot of political populist rhetoric is just that – noise. It goes nowhere and gets bogged down in procedural quagmires. I’d be surprised if the constitutional revisions ever see the light of day.

      Also worth studying the differences in cultural attitudes that non-Christian societies have towards suicide and self sacrifice. Far too big a topic to discuss in a blog comment and to attempt to do so would not enlighten anyone — and would almost certainly disrespect the actions of the tragic person who took their own life in Tokyo for what was certainly arguably a noble cause. Let’s just say here for the sake of brevity that suicide has some different connotations and reactions, both in the minds of those who feel they have to take that step and those who are aware of it in the aftermath.

  4. Carolinian

    Re Las Vegas and its water problems: I have friends who live in Phoenix (half its water from Lake Mead) and they have watched in despair as ever greater expanses of desert are turned into housing developments. Wall Street investors probably drive much of this.

    There’s a great book on the problem called Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner. He talks about the history of the West’s water issues and some of the wackier proposed solutions (such as building a pipeline to bring water down from soggy Canada). People have know this crisis was coming for years and yet they continue to build houses and farm water intensive crops such as cotton. The attitude seems to be that in the end Uncle Sam will somehow save them.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Uncle Sam

      Technically, he can print as much money as he wants.

      Technically, he can borrow as much dollar-money as he wants.

      Technically, he can make as many laws as he wants.

      Technically, he can spy as much as he wants.

      But we say, technicality is not the issue here.

      Legality, Constitutionality, Consent of the People, etc – they are the issues.

      Thus, we say, yes, it’s possible the government can spy as much as it wants, but the people do not consent to unlimited spying.

      So, here with the water issue, maybe Uncle Sam will save these people…if that’s is what we decide we can afford, have the means, and want to do.

  5. tongorad

    From the It Only Gets Worse dept:
    Obama alums join anti teachers union case
    The Incite Agency, founded by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, will lead a national public relations drive to support a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging tenure, seniority and other job protections that teachers unions have defended ferociously. LaBolt and another former Obama aide, Jon Jones — the first digital strategist of the 2008 campaign — will take the lead in the public relations initiative.

    Yes, Obama is the more effective evil – by a long shot.

  6. James Levy

    The “Moaning Moguls” article in the New Yorker is so brilliantly succinct I can only express admiration. To remain painfully concrete he avoids the cultural issue of how “free to be you and me” turned into “greed is good”, but such analysis is hard to prove. What he says has the benefit of being irrefutable. A must read and something I will spread around (a thing I avoid doing but this is short enough and trenchant enough to deserve wide distribution).

  7. rusti

    Regarding Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.

    Something that surprised me when doing my Master’s in Engineering in Scandinavia after doing my undergraduate degree in the U.S. was the emphasis on pedagogy in the course literature, the lectures and the labs. It seemed like most everything was custom designed in a much more accessible way than the huge, bulky textbooks and Powerpoint lectures I’d experienced as an undergraduate student.

    There were no large, picturesque administration buildings or athletic facilities, nor did we have as many expensive engineering software suites or expensive lab equipment, but the money that was allocated was spent wisely, in my opinion. Students can learn perfectly well with older but fully-functional lab equipment and mostly using computers that run on Linux. Most technical learning is an iterative process of listening and reading and then reasoning things out with a pencil and paper anyway. It’s much more important to have reliable tools for learning than flashy, expensive new ones that are regularly rendered inaccessible by administration and IT issues.

    The examination system was radically different as well, allowing for multiple test re-takes and only a few levels of distinction without the emphasis of using grades to rank class members. There was absolutely no multiple-choice and the local professors always found such a system to be bizarre. Many of the students, particularly my super disciplined Chinese / Iranian colleagues, thought that passing the exams was laughably easy but I felt like I had a better fundamental grasp of the material in a way that was practical for real-world practice than I’d gotten in the U.S.

    Ultimately people are people regardless of which system they go through and I’ve met fantastic and terrible engineers of all nationalities, but the pitfalls of the “student-as-a-customer” model were extremely apparent after experiencing an alternative.

    1. Banger

      Great comment, thanks. One other thing, that is interesting about American education is that the emphasis is not on education or learning. As I’ve said here before, there has actually been a lot of research (much of it in the U.S.) on how we learn and how we retain information including the neuro-science and even physiological aspects (effects of stress etc.) on how we learn and function best. Yet, this information is pretty much ignored by educators in the U.S. Someone commented last time I said that and said that educators were, in fact, aware of most of this research but weren’t allowed to deviate from what the officials with power wanted “learning” to be.

      It has been clearly shown, for example, that American Universities actually teach people very little because, as you say, they are interested in attracting customers–they are businesses nor real universities. Some great work still goes on but I think we are in a period of decline. I generally advise young people to not go to college if they want an education–of course most young people really just want a start in life and get their ticket stamped and why and how that works is an interesting discussion for another time.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In Chado, I have learned that there is no diploma (no ticket to be stamped to get a start in life), showing how much I have learned.

        I am given, instead, at various stages, permission to study further.

        The way we have now in education, we have no idea the student learning/researching nuclear physics or financial derivatives is about to bring salvation or destruction to the world.

        Similarly, societal resources (wealth, money, power, etc) accrue not necessarily to those with wisdom, but, as we see in the world today, to mean, greedy and ruthless people.

      2. neo-realist

        Re: Young People going or not going to college—Much nowadays is about credentialism. Regardless of how practical your knowledge or skillset is, many employers demand that you have a bachelors in this or that to be considered for a position, and if you don’t have that degree, you will not be permitted entry to the kingdom, so to speak, not be permitted to that jump start in a career life, or for the older and more experienced, a career change.

      3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Our universities (and a host of for-profit “Institutes” and the like), will sell any degree (or certification), to anyone who can pay for it (and they certainly don’t give a damn where the money comes from).

        Apparently, one’s willingness to take on student debt is an indicator of how far job candidates will go to make a not-quite-decent living.

        In a time of few and low-paying jobs, starting out in a deep debt hole isn’t very smart (unless you’re starting a business, but then, good luck getting financing, because you can go bankrupt on that debt — oh, the credit-slavery fuckery of it all).

    2. bmeisen

      thanks for your helpful comment. i have a ba from an american uni and an ma from a german, and i teach at a german uni, mostly german ba students, i.e. abitur grads. Compared to american kids who graduate from more or less functional, reasonably funded high schools, abitur grads are somewhat older and 3 – 7 years farther depending on the discipline. foreign language training provides the most glaring contrast but german kids in public gymnasia that have MINT orientation (not really comparable to the “tech” category) are quickly beyond trig and geometry. in the wake of the EU bologna reforms thses kids are now completing highly focused bachelors degree programs in 3 years. the notion that a bachelors student should spend a year or two sampling different disciplines to then settle down to complete comparatively generour major requirements in the last two years is in germany antithetical to the university ideal. it also amounts to behavior that is punished by the state educational funding regime. there are problems with german higher ed but they are minor compared to the charade that amer higher ed has become.

      1. Fattigmann

        The abitur is not comparable with a B.A. A bachelor’s degree is acquired in a residential student community away from home by 22-year-olds under tutelage of publishing academics on terminal degree tracks. Abitur exams are administered by public servants (teachers) of academically tracked 19-year-olds of admittedly high academic standards. I have studied in Germany and the gymnasium education my host family received is what I should have gotten in high school. However the spirit of broad inquiry I acquired in a private American liberal arts college has sparked my mind enough to last a lifetime and more than made up for any shortcomings of my k-12 education. Now I am a teacher myself; I have a colleague who is fond of saying, “Everything you could possibly need in an education is available in our system is students are willing to take advantage of it.”

  8. Banger

    Re: 5 Terrible Things I Learned as a Corporate Whistleblower

    This is the link of the day and should be required reading because it gives us a window into how power works in this society or any society. One of the great tragedies of American life is the stunning naivite of the vast majority of people who want to believe in the “land of the free”/American Dream/American Exceptionlist haze that, increasingly, appears to have be more cargo cult than anything else. Actually, this mythological framework helps keep the society together and provides some basis for social morality and some conviviality–if all of a sudden people realized the Emperor had no clothers–what then? The idea is frightening even to me–people need meaning and need conceptual frameworks.

    All powerful cliques whether in governments or corporations seek power and control and those that succeed are those who claw and fight. Linda Almonte just tried to do her job and not participate in what she saw as criminal activity–for her pains she can never work again. That is the reality of many whistleblowers–they meet the fate of prison snitches. I knew no matter what I saw I could not ever, ever, blow the whistle on illegality and I saw plenty of it in government, usually minor stuff to be sure but sometimes pretty big—I touched on one of those and I had no clue–I made inquiries but was gently asked to mind my own business–which I did. Yes, I took money for projects I knew would be thrown away several times.

    Corporations, surprise, surprise, have security people who are, basically, covert private armies. If they want to take you out they can and will. Usually they won’t kill you but they will do to you what happened to Almante. That’s why people crave power. The more power they and their cronies (this is a collective effort almost always) can accrue the more money they can steal, the more money they can steal the more power they can accrue and be honored for it by both political parties and the propaganda organs. This is what neo-feudalism looks like and this is the reality of American society not the pile of crap you get if you watch CNN or listen to NPR.

    1. Jagger

      You don’t get to the top unless you thrive on conflict. The alpha male that claws his way to the top doesn’t feel alive unless he is kicking over ant beds or stomping on someone. For them, they are not living life to the fullest unless they are assholes, entitled assholes. For some reason humanity looks at the money, the possessions, and holds the super rich asshole up as a shining example of capitalistic success– all the while ignoring what they are and how they obtained their possessions.

      1. ambrit

        It is easy to dismiss calumnies against the a–hole rich if one has never had any contact with them. I will quibble a bit and say that humanity is only shown the money, the possessions, and told that these are the visible manifestations of inner grace. When one actually has contact with these exemplars of idle wealth, as I have to a limited degree, the true evil is manifest.

  9. Eureka Springs

    The recent renewed focus on the Clintons money misses the total money mark by focusing on their reported personal income. This 2007 WAPO article alone says the Clintons raised millions for the Clinton library… the foreign sources (such as Saudi Royal family) are as disturbing to me as the amount of money.

    Seems like a few intrepid journalists could find much more out there… foundations, trusts, ‘nonprofits’, campaign financing, dawg knows what else.

    Betcha the total raked in across the board is much closer to a billion then the 100 million discussed these days.

    1. Jim Haygood

      If you count $165 million for the Clinton Library, $215 million for the Clinton Foundation (goal: $250 million), plus an estimated $200 million in personal income since 2001, the Clintons are closing in on $600 million in tribute.

      Rounding to the nearest nine figures, they are billionaires.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That just means they have to bring forward their next target (perhaps $2 billion) earlier.

        (When you’re so passionate about your work, you just don’t know when to stop.)

  10. Luke Nolan

    What an utterly disgraceful article from Ian Welsh; proof once again that leftists are the last people you want on your side. Anyone arguing for a one state solution is arguing for ethnic cleansing, whether they mean to or not. I suppose I’ll give Welsh some credit for not pretending that a one state solution would be anything other than a genocidal settler state taking full control of the region.

    Since this is the first link posted pertaining to current events in Palestine, do I presume correctly that this site endorses these views for Greater Israel?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Ethnic cleansing was feared in South Africa, where non-whites made up 80% of the population when apartheid ended. But it didn’t happen. In a single state in Israel/Palestine, the ratio would be closer to 50/50.

      No one is arguing for ethnic cleansing. But plenty still blindly support Israel’s version of Jim Crow, with exorbitant legal privilege for the ruling group, and second class citizenship for religious minorities.

      Americans wouldn’t much care, except that Israeli apartheid is being financed with $3 billion-plus per year of our money. That makes it our business to stop subsidizing Israel’s utter mockery of our nondiscriminatory values.

        1. Jim Haygood

          South Africa had extremely high levels of violent crime under the apartheid regime, and it still does today. It didn’t just start in 1994.

    2. Carolinian

      You are slagging Welsh–and NC?–for no good reason. He is saying Israel can do what South Africa did. You may think that’s a pipe dream but then many said the same about South Africa.

      The one state solution is increasingly advocated by people such as who are not exactly uninformed about the region. Since you are so indignant what, exactly, would be your solution?

      1. Luke Nolan

        Palestine still exists; calling for a South African style state while it does is insultingly premature.

        It’s a foregone conclusion, but you white libs could have at least clung to some shred of respectability and not fully embraced a colonial state before it finished eradicating it’s neighbor from history.

        1. Massinissa

          Hahaha ‘exists’. Right.

          Why does there need to be a ‘jewish state’? The Basques dont have a state. Lots of people dont have states. And theyre not ethnically cleansed.

          1. Luke Nolan

            It’s not about ethnicities being owed a state,it’s about Israel not being allowed to deprive those that exist today of their land and livelihood. Does this compute? You do have some sense for justice, yes?

          2. Lord Koos

            The Basques weren’t slaughtered by the millions, for one thing. I see nothing wrong with a Jewish state but unfortunately Israel is partnered with the policy of US hegemony.

        2. Jim Haygood

          ‘white libs’

          Nice stereotyping. From a purely tribal p.o.v., all the other tribes look like mad throat-slitters.

            1. ambrit

              Mr. Nolan;
              Enough with the outrage. Everyone can be “proven” to be a serial betrayer if you look hard enough. Who killed Malcom X? Probably black men. Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.? Probably white men. Who killed John Kennedy? Probably white men. Who enslaved the ____ (fill in the blank)? Everybody. Who shall cast the first stone?

              1. Luke Nolan

                Thanks for the pleading. Now explain to me why you lot think it’s acceptable for the Israelis to be allowed to finish stealing land that doesn’t belong to them.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    That does complicate things.

                    Some would see it for what it was.

                    Some would use it as an excuse. Thus

                    The Chinese are taking over Tibet.
                    The Japanese moved into Hokkaido.
                    Russia moved into Siberia

                    Almost as if one has to give up one’s citizenship to criticize others.

              2. Luke Nolan

                And it’s funny you bring up Malcom X because he certainly had you people figured out.

                1. ambrit

                  Mr. Nolan;
                  Yes, he did, but, and it’s a significant but, he also had Elijah Mohammed figured out, and died for it. What I’m saying is: Everyone has blood on their hands. No one is innocent. When we stop looking for scapegoats, and face facts, we can get down to work. An example: Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia attack Israel? Probably because Israel has nuclear weapons and could destroy the Arabian Oilfields in minutes. Those oilfields are the House of Saud’s source of power. As Frank Herbert said somewhere in the labyrinth that is Dune, “The ability to destroy something is the ability to control it.” Hence, Saudi Wahhabis make accommodations with Israeli Zionists.
                  “When Adam delved,
                  And Eve span,
                  Who was then,
                  The gentleman?”

          1. flora

            It’s the US political primary election season. I expect over-the-top, disconnected, name-calling comments to increase on influential blogs as we get closer to the Nov. general elections. See the facebook story.

    3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Are you speaking of the US or a foreign nation?

      Why is a solution to the ME our problem? Russia gonna’ take their oil? You think Russia can control another country? Didn’t work, last time, won’t work next time.

      The market will set oil prices, no matter who sits on top of it.

    4. Massinissa

      Wait, ethnic cleansing for who, the Israelis or the Palestinians?

      Because im pretty sure theres more palestinians than jews, so if youre worried about the palestinians they should be fine.

      Palestine will always be subserviant to Israel until Palestinians take over Israel.

      1. Banger

        If you count Israeli Arabs in the mix I think there are slightly more Arabs but not by much.

        1. Luke Nolan

          Ah, well that’s good. I guess life under a racist regime should be a fairly pleasant experience for them, then.

      2. ambrit

        It would be more practical to ask; “Who has the most fanatics?” Those are the ones who will be doing the fighting. Everyone else will be doing the dying.

    5. Massinissa

      The current Palestinian ‘state’ is an unviable occupied territory.

      If Israel were forced to give palestinians and israeli arabs full citizenship, they would outnumber the Israelis and actually have political power.

      They have NO power over anything, much less independence, as a Bantustan that Israel continually bites chunks off of.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Israel’s demographic engineering is the same thing South Africa tried to accomplish with bantustans, except that Israel wants to keep an 80% ruling majority.

        Had Israel allowed a viable Palestinian state, with access to water, and air and sea trade, a two-state solution might have been reached.

        By fragmenting the Palestinian territories into an ungovernable hodgepodge, Israel has boxed itself into an eventual one-state solution, with an Arab majority.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Well said, Jim. That’s what I meant by Israel becoming a victim of its own success, a lesson in being careful what you wish for. It’s now all but locked into a single-state solution that puts its pure Jewish state at risk—the very existential threat it has been wailing about since it began stealing Palestinian land sixty-some years ago. It now finds itself hoist on its own petard, not only WRT Palestinians, but now ISIS, Iraq, Iran, and Syria — crises mostly of their own making, in collusion with the US and SA.

        2. Synopticist

          Yeah, Israel had a viable chance for peace in the late nineties, and chose more houses in the west bank instead.

    6. Doug Terpstra

      Welsh has it right, Luke, and if you’d had a bit more time here you’d know, NC certainly does NOT endorse Eretz Israel. Welsh simply accepts what is, more clearly distilled than I’ve seen in a while. Israel has ceated stubborn facts in the ground and become a victum of its own success in the process. It can no longer create its pure racist state short of genocide (the Samson Option), which leaves only unsustainable Apartheid and/or Haifa and Telaviv melted into a sea of glass, per biblical prophesy.

      1. Luke Nolan

        Ah, so “there is no alternative.” Tell me, what other issues have no alternatives? Perhaps the banks should be allowed to keep their ill-gotten plunder? Perhaps we should all just dutifully accept the new feudal age–after all, they already won, no?

        1. ambrit

          There are lots of alternatives. None of them appear particularly probable or easy to enact. One such idea is to declare the King of Jordan to be the Caliph of Amman. Then absorb most of the West Bank into Jordan, (it was once part of Jordan after all,) and start working out a modus vivendi between the Kings clique and the Palestinians. We all tend to forget that one hundred years ago, the entire Middle East was ruled from the Porte in Constantinople. No Israel, no Iraq, no Saudi Arabia, etc. at that time. In one hundred years time you want to solve problems over a thousand years old?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Apparently, the Kurds are the 4th largest group in that area…I guess behind the Iranians, Turks and I am not sure which is the 3rd one.

            In any case, they don’t have a country (or not yet, or just began to have one).

        2. Working Class Nero

          Why don’t you ask yourself why “we” are debating what should happen in Palestine. The answer is because the Palestinians have been a pathetic joke of a people who have failed miserably and at every step is resisting first Jewish colonialism and then Israeli imperialism. Instead of fighting the Zionists at every step they surrendered and to an evil hard-ass like me they deserve to be forever Israel’s bitches for their foolishness and conniving weakness.

          But luckily I don’t get to decide things. If the Palestinians had fought like the Algerians did, like the Viet Minh did, like the IRA did, like the Viet Cong did, like the ANC did (to some extent), like Hezbollah did, we would not be having this debate. But the fact is Palestinians are a joke. So what options did Ian Welch have? They are after all human beings and deserve the respect all humans, even the most pathetic, deserve. But was he really going to continue to believe one day the Palestinians would wake up and find their inner Hezbollah and instead of building Israeli settler’s homes they would finally start blowing them up?

          No, the only settlement will be imposed on Israel from the outside as a result of sanctions. And so there are two choices. First, using the South Africa analogy, is Israel’s preferred method of the apartheid-era Bantustan strategy of dividing the Palis into little pathetic statelets where Palestinians are allowed to vote but which Israel totally control. This leaves a largely majority Jewish state unthreatened by any eventual demographic battles of the cradle. The second choice is the supposedly “multi-ethnic” post-Apartheid model. Now Israel would be sure to notice that white have declined from 20% of the population to now having fewer than 5% of the children. So no tribalist, particularist, nationalist, chosen-people-loving Israeli in his right mind is going to like this option.

          Which is just the point. Only if Israel truly fears the world is going to unite to impose a one-state solution on them will they finally begin to negotiate a reasonable two-state solution. All this is a long way off as for the time being America will block any attempts to start sanctions and apply pressure on Israel. But you never know, things change, and that day may come someday.

          1. vegasmike

            Unlike America soldiers in Viet Nam or the French in Algeria, the Jews in Israel have no home to go back to. Also, many Israeli Jews have their origins in Arab country. Before World War Two, Baghdad population was a third Jewish. If you look at most Arab countries, minorities are frequently persecuted. Israel is in some sense a settler state. But the size of the state is extremely small. Scale matters. Israel can’t be compared to the classic settler states, U.S., Canada, Australia. Also, history matters. Muslims have been hostile to Jews, since the age of Mohammed.

            1. Working Class Nero

              If we consider rump Israel as a fait accompli then the Israelis occupying the West Bank and (formerly) Gaza certainly do have somewhere to go back to and that is Israel proper (which is where the Gaza settlers went back to). In 1982 the Israelis attempted to expand northward into what became occupied Lebanon but their assess were booted back to Israel by Hezbollah – there is no reason the Palestinians could not have been just as successful in reversing Israel’s 1967 gains.

              Israel, like the US, Canada, and Australia are classic examples of colonial states; the only twist in the Israeli case is that they did not come from a proper state themselves. I’m not sure about you’re your statement of Muslim’s being hostile to Jays (moderation avoidance), your examples of substantial Jayish minorities in Muslim countries seem to contradict it. Although certainly there were cases of abuse, normally Muslims didn’t mind to rule Jayish or Christian dhimmis because they tended to be able to extract more taxes from them via the jizya. The proof of this foolish tolerance is that Sionist colonialists were allowed to settle in Palestine without being thrown back into the Mediterranean Sea. The Palestinians obviously learned nothing from the Native American example of what happens when you are nice to foreign settlers.

              You will have to flesh out why size matters in a colonial situation. Larger territories mean larger border fences and patrols (the Israelis are building a spectacular border fence to keep out illegal infiltrators) and more access points for invaders. I suppose on the other hand size does provide strategic depth like in Russia but by their very nature colonies always have to start out fairly small.

              1. vegasmike

                One of the appeals of a settler state to settlers was the availability of plenty of cheap land. In a small territory there obviously isn’t much land to settle on. Anyway Israel is a post agricultural society, so that issue probably isn’t that important. The occupied territories were governed by Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. Maybe if these countries had their act together they could more pressure on Israel. These are societies with very long histories and a very sophisticated culture. Just a couple of more points. I don’t think the IRA was successful. The South African army failed to win their war in Angola. Without Cuban help, Angola might have lost their war with South Africa.

        3. Working Class Nero

          Why don’t you ask yourself why “we” are debating what should happen in Palestine. The answer is because the Palestinians have been a pathetic joke of a people who have failed miserably and at every step is resisting first Jayish colonialism and then Israeli imperialism. Instead of fighting the Sionists at every step they surrendered and to an evil hard-ass like me they deserve to be forever Israel’s bitches for their foolishness and conniving weakness.

          But luckily I don’t get to decide things. If the Palestinians had fought like the Algerians did, like the Viet Minh did, like the IRA did, like the Viet Cong did, like the ANC did (to some extent), like Hezbollah did, we would not be having this debate. But the fact is Palestinians are a joke. So what options did Ian Welch have? They are after all human beings and deserve the respect all humans, even the most pathetic, deserve. But was he really going to continue to believe one day the Palestinians would wake up and find their inner Hezbollah and instead of building Israeli settler’s homes they would finally start blowing them up?

          No, the only settlement will be imposed on Israel from the outside as a result of sanctions. And so there are two choices. First, using the South Africa analogy, is Israel’s preferred method of the apartheid-era Bantustan strategy of dividing the Palis into little pathetic statelets where Palestinians are allowed to vote but which Israel totally control. This leaves a largely majority Jayish state unthreatened by any eventual demographic battles of the cradle. The second choice is the supposedly “multi-ethnic” post-Apartheid model. Now Israel would be sure to notice that white have declined from 20% of the population to now having fewer than 5% of the children. So no tribalist, particularist, nationalist, chosen-people-loving Israeli in his right mind is going to like this option.

          Which is just the point. Only if Israel truly fears the world is going to unite to impose a one-state solution on them will they finally begin to negotiate a reasonable two-state solution. All this is a long way off as for the time being America will block any attempts to start sanctions and apply pressure on Israel. But you never know, things change, and that day may come someday.

          1. Banger

            Well, the Palestinians have had money thrown at them mainly gulf states who, in the case of Saudi Arabia is a direct ally of Israel. They are paid to keep the tension going not to achieve any goal. The Israelis are happy because they can play the “poor tiny Israel gamble so that rich American Jews can both personally throw vast sums of dollars at Israel and intimidate the American political class to do the same–more tension, more cash for both sides.

            1. Working Class Nero

              I agree, for example the Saudis put Arafat in his position and his job was to get nothing done and be a joke. But all it would have taken was one bullet to dispatch Arafat and to place a real leader in power. Other’s have accomplished far more under much more pressure. But at the end of the day it is the Palestinians who most suffer because of their own failures. Instead of being self-sufficient they have banked on the rest of the world coming in and bailing them out. Even with the Hezbollah example staring them right in the face they continue to appease and surrender. And so for a lasting peace to really happen it would be best for the Palestinians to rise to the occasion and start to kick some Israeli ass. But after so many years of failure it is hardly likely to happen.

  11. Bill

    From the Whistleblower article:
    “I was in the garage doing laundry, then I walked into the kitchen and the guy from the empty house across the street was there. He looked around for a bit, then bent over and picked up my toy poodle and claimed he found her outside under his car. On the scale of lame improvised excuses for getting caught breaking into somebody’s house, that’s somewhere between yelling “Surprise! It’s your birthday!” and “I’m you from the future.”

    She doesn’t seem to recognize that this is a threat to “accidentally” run over her dog. Part of the terrorizing in being stalked is for the victim to know how vulnerable they are, but that those they love are also vulnerable.

    I know this because I’ve been stalked and terrorized for 4 years now after being a very minor whistleblower in the Army as a civilian employee. Not only have they broken into my house many times, but have also threatened and even injured my two dogs. The police are complicit, as this terrorization is being carried out by the local Neighborhood Crime Watch, which is an arm of our now heavily militarized police.
    Read more:

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Now here’s a woman who DESERVES a multi-million dollar book deal. That would be a book I’d actually buy and read.

      That is what those “deals” are about, isn’t it?

      1. Eureka Springs

        The neighborhood crime watch implication is both horrifying and terribly easy to believe. Reminds me of Cynthia’s comment yesterday.
        “By design and by self-infliction, the average American is stuck in a state of stupor that cannot be easily reversed. I am willing to bet that most people in the US would sit idly by and do nothing if half the people in their neighborhood were rounded up and disappeared into the night. I would put money on it. A combination of an empty-calorie diet, mind-numbing and vacuous TV programming, declining school system, way too many prescription drugs, and dishonest ‘news’ channels have successfully made the US a nation of zombies. Borrowing a line from a Pink Floyd song, there’s a look in their eyes like black holes in the sky.”

        1. Banger

          Made me think a little. In our neighborhood it would be noticed, above all, by my wife who they would literally have to shoot to shut her up. I think it depends on the neighborhood–but I think in many places you would be right. In the neighborhood I lived in the longest everyone on the street knew each other so yes, we would have noticed, in another neighborhood I lived in not far away, no, no one would have noticed.

          1. HotFlash

            Here in my little neighbourhood I am making a point of checking on my neighbours, learning their names and phone numbers, introducing them to one another, finding out what happened to someone who got taken away in an ambulance. So that if people start disappearing, we will notice and mobilize. Seemed paranoid when I started a few yrs back, now it seems too little, too late.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The scary part is that sometimes, in some countries it happened that whole neighborhoods disappeared.

              After Chernobyl, the ordered came, and a whole city nearby was evacuated.

        2. Bill

          If you watch the Freedom Summer on PBS, they talk about “Citizens’ Council” in MS back in the 60s, who were actually the neighborhood KKK, who controlled who went where, most particularly, where black people could and couldn’t go.

          That’s partly what the Crime Watches do. Remember the young African American shot after being followed and accosted by the Crime Watch crazy with a gun in FL ?

          In my “neighborhood”, one of the leaders of the Crime Watch once told me he was disgusted to see, on one of his 4am walks through the neighborhood, one of the white women having sex in their car (in their driveway) with her African American boyfriend. I later heard she was in jail, not sure for what, but maybe they smoked a little weed together on their own property and were reported ?

          I live here in SE Virginia, very conservative, Southern white population.

      2. nycTerrierist

        Agreed. Even better, if her story were optioned for a film by a good documentarian,
        someone like Errol Morris. Or even someone like Oliver Stone!

  12. Jim Haygood

    Argentina’s widow Kirchner rails from the balcony of the Casa Rosada at an uncomprehending world:

    Argentina took out paid ads in major US newspapers for the second weekend running on Sunday, slamming an “absurd” American court decision as a ploy “to bring us down to our knees.”

    Under the title “Argentina Pays,” the full-page ad, signed “Presidency of the nation Argentine Republic,” appeared in The Washington Post and The New York Times on Sunday.

    The lengthy statement accused Griesa of “bias in favor of the vulture funds.” “His true intentions are crystal clear: to push Argentina into default so as to destroy the 2005-2010 debt restructuring agreement that it reached with 92.4% of its creditors following lengthy negotiations,” it said.

    The ad went on: “But he will not achieve his goal for quite a simple reason: the Argentine Republic will meet its obligations, pay off its debt and honor its commitments, as it has been doing, it order to put an end to the ploy of presenting an absurd court decision with systemic effects at International level as ‘technical default.’

    “Which is merely a sophisticated way of trying to bring us down to our knees before global usurers.”


    Many would agree with Ignacio Portes, whose post a couple of days ago characterized Griesa’s reading of pari passu as unduly harsh. But with the US Supreme Court having backed up Griesa, this contention is now moot. The choices on offer are negotiation or default.

    Trash talking the district judge and plaintiffs through the press is pure flakery, leading nowhere. So note it in your calendar: Argentina defaults, 30 July.

    1. Luciano Moffatt

      Jim, you have been posting about Argentina consistently. I am just curious, what do you think is the best way for Argentina to proceed?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Usually, the objective of holdouts is to make a return on the bonds they purchased at a discount. As a guess, Singer might settle for 50 cents on the dollar, versus the 30 cents on the dollar of the two earlier exchange offers.

        Negotiations might or might not be successful. But Argentina needs to make that phone call and sit down with its opponents.

    2. Leo Galtieri

      Argentina under moi was the world leader in ‘disappearing’ people, but under a democracy we can’t disappear this Griesa parasite it seems, despite the fact no-one would miss him unless it would be to cheer.

  13. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Hillary’s money problem

    “Traeger-Muney said Clinton needs to figure out a way to “own” her own wealth and success and not sound defensive about it while continuing her current strategy of pointing to all the work she’s done for the middle class and poor over her long career in public service”.

    Exactly what “work” HAS she done for the “poor” and “middle class” over her “long career in public service?” I’m gonna need a list.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        In all honesty, the fact that Hillary appears to be somewhat ashamed of her riches and how she got them is about the only good thing I have to say about her right now.

        1. nycTerrierist

          I think, more likely, the Clintons are abashed at the ‘optics’ –
          or they’d stop collecting those piggish speaking fees
          (or at least donate them, for example, to the poor, who Hillary
          claims to be doing so much for…)

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          People are known to act differently pre and post election.

          She is exceptional, I believe.

        3. cwaltz

          eh. I suspect she isn’t a horrible person. However, in 2008 she pretty much proved that she isn’t too wiling to fight for much of anything. She pretty much rolled over when the Democratic corporatocracy told her to. That doesn’t speak too highly of her willingness to fight for Joe Average.

      2. sleepy

        She and Bubba are both intelligent enough to know they didn’t “earn” their millions in any honest sense of the word. I would go even further and say they don’t even feel entitled to it, just marveling at the quid pro quo which showered them with riches.

        What they did is just shamelessly take the money and run.

        1. Jim Haygood

          The Clintons didn’t provide any product or service. Their activities in public office were merely what is expected of the job.

          No other U.S. office holders in history have converted public office into $200 million of personal income. This style and scope of looting is inspired by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

          1. FederalismForever

            Doesn’t it make you miss Harry Truman? He really was low on money when he left office, but he resolutely refused ANY fees for speaking engagements or appearances. He said: “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” Different times, different standards.

            The Clintons truly are the most corrupt married couple in American history.

    1. Vatch

      A quote from Jamie Traeger-Muney in the Politico article:

      “It feels like there is a lot of shame in there, and that is very common for wealth holders, especially in today’s climate.”

      This brings us to the difference between the concepts of shame and guilt. I think there’s overlap between them, but my impression is that guilt is inner directed, and shame is other directed. That is, a person may feel guilt whether or not others know about one’s action, but shame only occurs when other people do know about what one did.

      From the Wikipedia entry on Shame:

      The location of the dividing line between the concepts of shame, guilt, and embarrassment is not fully standardized. According to cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict, shame is a violation of cultural or social values while guilt feelings arise from violations of one’s internal values. Thus shame arises when one’s ‘defects’ are exposed to others, and results from the negative evaluation (whether real or imagined) of others; guilt, on the other hand, comes from one’s own negative evaluation of oneself, for instance, when one acts contrary to one’s values or idea of one’s self. (Thus, it might be possible to feel ashamed of thought or behavior that no one actually knows about [since one fears their discovery] and conversely, to feel guilty about actions that gain the approval of others.)

      So if Hillary Clinton feels shame, it may only be a consequence of others’ awareness of her wealth. But if she feels guilt, then it’s because she knows that she is in the wrong somehow.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        I’m trying to teach my teen son the difference between guilt and shame, right now. My take:

        Guilt is a finding of whether a person has done something wrong, or not. Guilty people often repeat the behavior they have been found guilty of.

        Shame, OTOH, is the bad feeling one gets (providing one isn’t a psycho- or socio-path), when they acknowledge their own guilt, or the guilt of another. Shame modifies behavior as a matter of avoiding diminishing one’s self-worth.

        I can be ashamed of an/or for someone else, but I cannot be guilty for them.

  14. Vatch

    Thanks for the link to the article “The Dirty Truth About Clean Energy”. The efforts to provide energy for our world’s growing population are akin to traversing a minefield; there are always hazards. It would be much easier if the world’s population were stable, or even better, gradually falling.

    In case anyone is unclear on the concept, stabilizing and reducing the world’s population must be accomplished by reducing the birth rate, and not by other means.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You make a very important point – only by reducing the birth rate.

      I would add that there are 2 factors to our total energy consumption

      1. Total population
      2. energy consumption per person

      With that, I urge, also, less consumption with this reminder ‘Less Waste, Great Feeling – you can have both.’

      1. Vatch

        Agreed. Although the Earth only “cares” about the total amounts of consumption and pollution, these totals are heavily affected by those individuals whose per capita consumption is at a high level. Reducing population won’t have the desired effect if many people continue a wasteful lifestyle, just as the elimination of wasteful lifestyles won’t have much effect if the world’s population keeps rising.

        1. rusti

          Another important point to make is that much of the world’s population is coming on to the grid, so to speak, and increasing their carbon footprint at a rate much faster than new developments in renewables can compensate for.

          All renewable technologies on the horizon right now, both for generation and storage, have severe issues with scalability and efficiency compared to the maturity and relative simplicity of burning fossil fuels. They also introduce a whole lot of complexity (see: 787 Dreamliner battery) which increases systemic risk in its own way so it is even more foolish to plow forward on the gamble that they’ll subsidize our lifestyles of egregious overconsumption.

      1. Vatch

        Every increase in average lifespan must be met by corresponding decreases in the birth rate.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Agreed. We’re waaaaay beyond the earth’s carrying capacity for our species.

      1. FederalismForever

        Justice Ginsburg’s first sentence can only be a willful misreading of Justice Alito’s majority opinion. The majority most certainly does NOT hold that ALL commercial enterprises can simply disregard laws they judge to be incompatible with their religious beliefs. Watch how many left-leaning mainstream media outlets will quote this first sentence of Justice Ginsburg’s opinion, as though it accurately summarizes the majority opinion. Watch how many will fail to grasp that Justice Alito’s majority opinion: (i) only applies to closely-held corporations, rather than corporations generally (closely-held corporations are treated as “disregarded” or “pass-through” entities in other contexts – the distinction matters); (ii) interprets the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement in light of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (this case does NOT address the general question of whether government can require employers to provide contraceptive coverage – the RFRA must be taken into account as well); and (iii) asks why, since the RFRA indisputably protects non-profit corporations, it can’t also protect closely-held for profit corporations? But, I guess that given today’s dumbed-down political discourse, it’s too much to expect our media to actually read Supreme Court opinions before writing or editorializing about them.

        One possible consequence of Justice Alito’s majority opinion: In holding (perhaps in dicta) that the government can fill any gaps in coverage that result from closely-held corporations declining to provide contraceptive coverage, doesn’t Justice Alito’s majority opinion take a small, but significant, step toward government-run single payor? One reason this case arose in the first place is because of the general requirement for employers to provide health care coverage.

        1. Banger

          Interesting comment. As someone who generally opposes ACA in the first place I’m kind of agnostic on this issue. I’m interested to see a counter to your analysis.

        2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Sure — I’ll take the bait.

          So, the SCOTUS — the same group of men who have tortured our Constitution into considering corporations as super-citizens, and who have equated Federal Reserve notes as units of “speech,” now wants to go back to the days when “negroes” were considered 3/5 human. Only, today, their special class is the “closely-held” corporation, which, it turns out, by their reckoning, is 6/5 human.

          Beyond trading time and skill for money and benefits, as mandated by law, corporations should have no say, whatsoever, in their employee’s lives.

          I guess a closely-held Christian corporation can now pay their employees in something other than legal tender — as worship of Mammon is against their beliefs.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            That said, and to expand, that the Fed is a false god that the Federal government cannot impose on God-fearing Christians would certainly be an interesting case, going forward. It would, if nothing else, expose the true “faith” of the majority of the SCOTUS.

            1. FederalismForever

              Oh, it’s so easy to paint the conservative Justices as monsters who want to revert to the days when the Slave Power ruled America, rather than make the effort to try and understand their decisions and judicial philosophies! Let me guess: have you even read either of Justice Alito’s opinions that were handed down today?

              It seems you are still upset about the Citizens United decision, although it’s hard to tell. First of all, the Supremes in Citizens United did not “torture” the Constitution in order to hold the corporations are “persons”. Corporations have been legal persons for hundreds of years, and for many purposes under the law. Moreover, many on the Left conveniently ignore the fact that the holding in Citizens United applied to BOTH corporations AND unions. Finally, the key premise in the Citizens United decision is that money equals speech – a controversial premise, to be sure, but one endorsed by numerous other First Amendment cases. Given that (controversial) premise, the holding in Citizens United is not that exceptional. This might be why the ACLU gave Citizens United a (highly qualified) endorsement. See:


              1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                True, that, regarding corporations being regarded as “people” as opposed to being a “body.”

                And we’re worse off for it, as usual. The “many purposes, under the law,” does not square with equal protection nor with any other descriptions of the rights of “people” under our Constitution or other founding documents. A I said: closely-held corporations are now above the law. Above you and me. And we’ve only just begun.

                There is no benefit to society via the personification of business interests that could not otherwise be achieved by contract.

                It is my contention that the “corporate shield” has become a shield from criminal prosecution, and nothing more.

                As someone once said: I’ll believe that corporations are people as soon as Texas executes one.

                As for money being speech, or not, my real beef is with anonymous and private money buying access to the public political megaphone. We barely have a two-party system, as it is.

              2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                BTW: Do you think that ” . . . government by, of, and for the People,” actually includes corporations? If so, we’re down the rabbit hole.

              3. Banger

                The corporations as people idea is a person comes from an 1888 ruling. The idea is an abomination to say the least.

                1. Vatch

                  I think you’re referring to this 1886 ruling, in which corporate personhood was discussed in the head note to the case, but not in the Court ruling itself:


                  The decisions reached by the Supreme Court are promulgated to the legal community by way of books called United States Reports. Preceding every case entry is a headnote, a short summary in which a court reporter summarizes the opinion as well as outlining the main facts and arguments. Headnotes are defined as “not the work of the Court, but are simply the work of the Reporter, giving his understanding of the decision, prepared for the convenience of the profession.”

                  So the Court did not rule on corporate personhood. Rather, an underling overstepped his authority, and the courts have been following his lead ever since.

                  1. FederalismForever

                    The first shot fired for corporate personhood in American law was Dartmouth v. Woodward – an 1819 opinion by the great Chief Justice John Marshall.

                    Viewing corporations as legal persons can be good or bad, depending on the context. If you favor a tax on corporations, it can be good. If the state needs to bring a lawsuit against a business that is organized as a corporation, and the ultimate owners are located in some far away jurisdiction, corporation personhood is good because it allows the state to sue the corporation, under the legal fiction that the corporation is a person, and thereby (maybe) help bring the ultimate owners to justice. I think the big issue with Citizens United and its progeny is a feeling that the rich are using the corporate form as an opaque shield to hide how much they are trying to influence the political process. We can deal with this problem without gutting the idea of corporate personhood altogether.

                    1. FederalismForever

                      It’s highly likely James Madison would have been greatly troubled by the power and influence large corporations currently have over the political process. His remarks against large “ecclesiastical bodies” (which were similar to modern corporations in some respects) monopolies and corporations strongly suggest this.

                    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                      Lawsuits are a civil matter. How do we practice equality under the law in criminal cases? A paltry fine? (Notice that the “settlements” the government has reached in criminal proceedings against corporations have been only a fraction of the gains realized from their criminal enterprises, in the first place).

                      Corporations are super-citizens, already.

                      Incorporation is a cover for criminality — a literal “Get Out of Jail, and Collect $1Billion” card.

          2. cwaltz

            Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. The guy who once opined that women and AAs aren’t entitled to protection from discrimination because the founders weren’t considering them when they wrote the Bill of Rights totally believes that those rights were extended to corporate entities. May introduce the pretzel formerly known as Suprme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Then there’s weasel Kennedy who openly opposes abortion who made sure everyone was aware that this didn’t apply to religious convictions against things like immunizations. After all we wouldn’t want any menfolk to die. It’s just the wimmens that are second class citizens.

        3. Katniss Everdeen

          Such BS.

          Since when is there a “general ‘requirement’ for employers to provide health care coverage?” Why hasn’t someone told Walmart? You can bet that if the “closely held” Hobby Lobby was having to actually compete for employees because there were better jobs available, this case never would have been brought.

          And why does it always come down to, “You don’t have to work at Hobby Lobby if you don’t like the rules,” and NEVER, “You don’t have to make millions being an American employer if you don’t like the rules?” They could always sell the company. Surely god would appreciate such principled commitment.

          1. FederalismForever

            My point was that America’s healthcare system is somewhat unique in that much of the burden of providing healthcare is born by private employers rather than a government run single-payor system found in some other “first-world” countries. In his opinion today, Justice Alito signaled that government can step in to fill the gap created by his ruling that some closely-held corporations can avoid some of ACA’s requirements. Thus, one potential upshot of Alito’s opinion might be a very small step towards a government-run healthcare system.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              Yer gittin’ a workout today, FF.

              And thanks for the bone, Sam. I mean mr. justice alito.

              But riddle me this, FF. As I understand it, Hobby Lobby didn’t object to the provision of ALL contraceptives, just 4 specific ones that they considered “abortifacients”–defined as “causing abortions.” They supposedly considered the provision of insurance covering these specific drugs tantamount to providing abortions. (Pretty biologically sophisticated for a family that sells stickers and plastic flowers. Wonder if they had professional help.)

              But, the taxpayers can pick up the slack. Or so Sam says.

              So what about the Hyde Amendment which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions–HHS funds. HHS just happens to be ACA’s overseer. No money for abortions from HHS and these drugs provide abortions according to Hobby Lobby and the “supreme” court.

              See where I’m goin’ with this?

              1. OIFVet

                You beat me to pointing out the Hyde amendment. FF thinks he is pretty slick in trying to sell the line about how Alito is actually opening the door for a single payer, an utter bullcrap of an argument.

                  1. OIFVet

                    I wasn’t commenting on Alito’s intent or lack thereof, I was commenting on your argument that his opinion opens a door toward single care. Your argument flies in the face of the Hyde amendment and single payer politics in this country. It is not gonna happen. And Tribe’s “if-if” argument is a perfect illustration of just how much arbitrary power these unelected and unaccountable justices yield on behalf of vary narrow interests, in this case on behalf of a bunch of Christian Taliban women haters.

                    1. FederalismForever

                      I don’t think the Hyde Amendment will be a huge issue as far as whether or not we enact a single payer system. Rather, the issue of whether the single payer system should fund abortions or not, and if so, whether at private clinics too, etc., will just be a constant source of controversy, as it has been in Canada. To date, it is still a matter of debate whether abortions are fully covered under Canada’s health system. No Canadian court ruling has ever clearly stated this. Same for many European countries. Many in America don’t realize that most European countries severely restrict abortions after 20 weeks or so.

                      This is all rather depressing for American pro-choicers. Here we are, 41 years after Roe v. Wade, and abortion is just as contentious as ever. There has been no convergence on this issue at all. In fact, as Latinos continue to make up a greater percentage of the population, it’s possible that the anti-abortion position could emerge stronger than ever. (Most polls show that Latinos tend to be more anti-abortion.)

                    2. OIFVet

                      “Rather, the issue of whether the single payer system should fund abortions or not”

                      It will not be an issue at all since Hyde says NYET! to government paying for abortions. Unless you think that some entity other than the federal government is the single payer in question…

              2. FederalismForever

                @Katniss Everdeen. Hyde Amendment applies to abortions (except in cases of rape, incest, etc.), not to contraceptives. And it only applies to federal funding. As a result of today’s decision, we’re likely to see an expansion of government funding for contraceptives – i.e., the taxpayers will provide the funding for the contraceptives which the Hobby Lobby owners objected to. See link below, from an anti-abortion author who very much views today’s decision as a case of ‘win-the-battle-lose-the-war’:


                1. Katniss Everdeen

                  When is a contraceptive not a contraceptive? When it’s an abortfacient or an abortion.

                  Hyde says no payments for abortion.

                  The government, at this moment, cannot pay for abortions.

                  It, therefore, cannot pay for an abortifacient.

                  It’s against the LAW.

                  The government cannot, therefore, pick up the slack.

                  1. cwaltz

                    Plan B isn’t an abortifactent. The reality is that the whole entire suit was based on the erroneous position that Hobby Lobby understood how these drugs worked. They didn’t. Plan B works by tricking the body into believing you are already pregnant therefore preventing fertilization. An abortion is not preventing fertilization from occurring. That’s be like arguing that every time I didn’t have sex, thus preventing my eggs from being fertilized, I was having an abortion.

                  2. cwaltz

                    Oh and for the record, Hobby Lobby was soooooo religiously opposed to these drugs that by their own admission they carried them prior to this court case.

                    Roberts and his cabal are just a bunch of He-man wimmen haters. That’s why it didn’t matter to them that the arguments being made had no basis in fact or that the “sincerity” of Hobby Lobby be questioned.

                    1. FederalismForever

                      Your accusations are absurd, and reveal a very shallow understanding of the case. Alito’s opinion clearly states that it relied on the HHS’s own Brief which stated that the four contraceptive methods in question “may have the effect of preventing a fertilized egg from developing any further.”

                    2. cwaltz

                      Uh no. Go read up on how Plan B works.
                      It works by preventing fertilization. I’d like to congratulate the court and yourself they just demonstrated why DOCTORS and patients should determine medical coverage not people who not only won’t be affected by the decision but who have no clue how the drugs in question actually work. I daresay Alito bothered to actually read up to make sure the arguments presented were factual though in much the same way he didn’t question the sincerity of the claim despite the fact that Hobby Lobby by its own admission actually covered these medications in the health care plan prior to their sincerely held belief that they be mandated to carry them.

                      It’s you that are woefully unaware thankyouverymuch. I have a uterus so I followed the case quite closely.

                2. OIFVet

                  Part of Hobby Lobby’s argument concerned their belief that certain contraceptives are a form of abortion. The Supreme Political Mafia agreed, yet here you are claiming that the government will now fund these contraceptives that were de facto declared to be a form of abortion, and that despite the Hyde amendment. Very silly.

                  1. FederalismForever

                    You’re ignoring Medicaid:


                    You’re also ignoring the role that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act played in today’s decision. This Act can quite reasonably be interpreted to require a greater degree of judicial scrutiny on a law that is alleged to infringe on religious beliefs. Justice Alito does not hide the ball – he points out in a footnote that this 1993 Act imposes a greater degree of scrutiny than is required by the Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence. In fact, I’m somewhat surprised this decision was a close as it was, given this 1993 Act. You make these outrageous assertions about a “Supreme Mafia”, etc., without reflecting on the fact that abortion on demand, throughout all three trimesters, is a MINORITY view in America, and that there are still many devoutly religious people who do not want to have such a direct connection with contraceptive methods which they view as akin to murder. It is the 1993 Act that has armed these religious people with an additional argument to make at the Supreme Court – and today a majority of Supremes endorsed it! To fully correct for this decision (assuming you disagree with it), we need to explore whether the 1993 Act is un-Constitutional and needs to be repealed.

                    1. OIFVet

                      From your link: “Medicaid covers abortion in 15 states in the U.S.” And the states where Medicaid covers abortion do so with STATE funds, not federal. As for popularity, again, the Christian Taliban religious beliefs must end where a woman’s body begins, otherwise women are nothing more than slaves to men.

                    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                      We live in a Republic specifically so that the majority cannot abuse the minority. As an American, I am free to think and behave as I damn well please, as long as it doesn’t pick your pocket or break your leg. I may legally hurt your feelings and/or offend you.

                      The gist of Roe v. Wade, as well as the regulation of the availabilityt, or lack thereof, of contraceptives, is that these are private matter between a woman and her physician.

                      Contraceptives are legal drugs and abortion (within the limitations of the law), is a legal procedure. The Hobby Lobby contingent should not be able to extend their moral beliefs beyond legally manufactured and prescribed drugs/medicines and/or procedures.

                      As for the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, one could as easily argue that Hobby Lobby employees who have different, or even no religious beliefs are having their freedoms restricted by this decision. Legitimate State interest is to uphold the law. No more, no less.

                      This might not be a Mafioso court, but it is willing to openly practice intellectual dishonesty in the furtherance of it’s apparent and manifest religious agenda.

                  2. LucyLulu

                    Hobby Lobby believes these contraceptives, due to their religion, are a form of abortion. That doesn’t make the contraceptives legally equivalent to abortions and subject to the Hyde Amendment. (Alternatively…… Hobby Lobby has a Constitutional right to be wrong.)

                    Kennedy, in his concurring decision, suggested a workaround similar to that of non-profits and insurer provided contraceptives, or perhaps government provided contraception. Hilary (approvingly) commented SCOTUS was advocating “single-payer contraception”. Even Ezra Klein was saying avoiding these types of issues was the reason single payer healthcare was the preferred option. I was so stunned I wet my pants. Will this be the opening for a transition?

                    1. OIFVet

                      “That doesn’t make the contraceptives legally equivalent to abortions and subject to the Hyde Amendment. Alternatively…… Hobby Lobby has a Constitutional right to be wrong.” Except today’s ruling de facto stated that belief trumped facts, so anyone who pays taxes can invoke the Hyde amendment to challenge the chimerical “workaround” on the ground that it violates their beliefs. Sorry but the argument about single payer contraception and more is either a cynical NS (I’m looking at you Hillary and Ezra) or else the vision of people who have spent so much time being thirsty in our health care desert that they mistake the sand for water. I am not buying this argument for a second.

                    2. LucyLulu

                      The belief only applies to the individual corporation and their obligation to provide these contraceptives.

                      It doesn’t prohibit the federal government from providing the four contraceptives, nor does the Hyde Amendment. See footnote 7 of Alito’s decision, on page 9. Link provided upthread.

                    3. cwaltz

                      And the science is that Plan B is NOT the equivalent of an abortion. It’s like arguing that by not having sex I’m having an abortion (since Plan B, like abstinence PREVENTS fertilization.) As a matter of fact, it’s been proven that Plan B is ineffective as an abortifactant.


                      THIS is why people who aren’t doctors have no business on weighing in on medical decisions for women.

                    4. cwaltz

                      The ruling stated that the Federal government couldn’t mandate that someone who religiously objected to contraception be required to pay for it.

                      The way I see this is if there were to be a single payer system the religious right could argue that they don’t want their tax dollars going to fund birth control on religious objection grounds and this ruling would uphold they don’t have to pay for it.

                      I see no difference between the Federal government mandating standards for health care that insists the health care include birth control and the Federal government acting as a single payer who collects money from businesses( who’ll then claim their taxes not be used for contraception on religious grounds) and people.

                      Single payer is not going to resolve this.

                    5. cwaltz


                      Ruth Bader Ginsberg seems to get it when she points out that the government’s safety net for affordable birth control is already strained and underfunded largely due to “lawmakers who oppose publically funded birth control(and thanks to the SC as long as they use religious grounds as basis for opposition it’s hunky dory.)”

                      There’s reason the dissent was strenuous and if you ask me to choose between believing Alito and Ginsberg for jurisprudence I’ll go with Ginsberg who at least didn’t pretend that this decision didn’t ignore science and point out that this was a medical decision, not a judicial one.

    1. Klassy

      Are you familiar with Jonah Edelman, son of Marianne Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman?
      Jonah Martin Edelman is an American advocate for public education reform. He is the co-founder and CEO of Stand for Children, a national American neoliberal education reform organization

      1. HotFlash

        Hadn’t known of him, but from the wikipedia article,

        Edelman was a key organizer of Stand for Children Day, a June 1, 1996 rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. attended by 300,000 people.[4] Among the speakers at this rally, the largest for children in U.S. history, were Geoffrey Canada, who later became Stand for Children’s first Board of Directors chair, the editor of Parade Magazine, Walter Anderson, who came up with the name “Stand for Children Day,” and Marian Wright

        So, his mum too? What gives!!!???11!1!.

  15. fresno dan

    Always bears repeating:
    “Those who think it a science have continued to point out huge variations in care that don’t lead to better outcomes. The Dartmouth Atlas is full of such studies that show that all over the country, physicians practice in radically different ways.

    This would be fine if care were cheap, or if it didn’t sometimes cause harm to patients. Unfortunately, both of those things are untrue. Research shows us that in areas where people receive more invasive and intensive therapies, they often fare no better, while paying much more.”

    And probably understates the tremendous documented harm of over treatment. It reminds me in so many ways of the housing boom – not only bankers, mortgagers, realtors, bond rating agencies, but home buyers themselves thought they were making out. Likewise, every patient believes there doctor is the best, and all that treatment ONLY makes them better…

  16. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    I get the distinct feeling that we’ve only just begun the long, crushing disenfranchisement of the middle class, private citizen.

    I could imagine this SCOTUS deciding that slavery is once again constitutional — providing that it isn’t race-based, and that a due process conviction for a “crime” is enough to reduce a person to corporate chattel.

    Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    1. HotFlash

      I get the distinct feeling that we’ve only just begun the long, crushing disenfranchisement of the middle class, private citizen.

      Nah, it’s been going on for a while. And I think we are closer to the completion than to the beginning. The poor (original and newly-made from the old Middle Class) will next be cleansed. We are close to Mission Accomplished. After that, the elites will fight amongst themselves.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        I don’t know, bro — it still looks like a long way down, from here. Not to worry — it’s not the altitude that kills you, it’s the ground.

  17. Paul Tioxon

    Oil industry newsletter decries defective PV panels and toxic material used in the manufacturing process. The simpletons are at it again. First, project a pure as the new driven snow version of ecotopia powered by soft sunshine filtered by the purest particulate free atmosphere of just the right proportion of gases to promote optimum human health and lovlier, smoother, younger wrinkle free skin preserved by daily yoga practice. Then violently wake the tree hugging stooge out his and her stupor with the ugly facts of the real world that’s run by money and power. Standard issue bummer expose that’s been used since the 1970s. Well, the tree huggers have been around for long time and their grandkids are learning the power plays and obstacles and how to overcome them from a historical perspective.

    Active Solar power for generating electricity is the death warrant for burning fossil fuels. The almost never recounted story is that of kerosene and matches used in every room of every home from the multi story tenements of NYC and Chicago to the farms of rural America and how almost over night, Rockefeller lost his most lucrative consumer business, the selling of kerosene for lighting to the rapidly electrifying city and Edison’s light bulb. Tesla and Edison have been promoting electricity which is the business war against coal and oil and gas. And every attempt to move more people onto electricity for energy and now, to self generate that electricity on site in homes and offices and all other buildings across America and the world is in the final stage of that war. And of course, every detail short of perfection is somehow proof that there is something wrong with alternative energy. Now, it’s the mistrust of the people against something being shoved down their throats, as if wind turbines and solar panels are the equivalent of being made to work in a coal mine and have the slag heaps piled high throughout your county to poison the ground and the water. Solar energy like climate change will not be denied. The climate has already changed and panels and turbines are already present all over the country. And people can see the difference between a coal mine or an oil refinery or a nuke plant and the wind and sun being captured by technology.

    1. Eureka Springs

      How many bombs and soldiers does it take to establish/maintain a solar powered empire/world?

      How does someone maintain most toxic manufacturing methods resulting in a crapified end product which is still better than the oily coal nuke alternatives? Answer in two words: Free Trade.

      I recently read Germany has now surpassed 50% of its electricity from solar. Why isn’t that a top story on every network, every day?

      1. kareninca

        German is now producing more than half of its ELECTRICITY power demand, from solar. Not overall power demand:

        This would seem to be the bigger story (Dirty U.S. Coal Finds a Home in Europe; Low Cost Outweighs High Sulfur Content as Exports to Continent Soar):

        Please read the coal article. It is very important. It may not be cheering, but it is very important. We are shipping more and hugely ever more, dirty coal to Europe:

        “The 28-nation EU imported 47.2 million tons of U.S. coal last year, up from 13.6 million tons in 2003. Exports to the U.K. alone are up tenfold in the same period.” THAT IS A HUGE INCREASE!!!!!

        “Germany’s decision to phase out of nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has also made it a significant buyer of U.S. coal, mostly because the commodity is so inexpensive.

        “Before the financial crisis, Europe was happy to favor the environment, but when the economy started not doing well, they weren’t quite ready to accept the high power price,” so energy consumers returned to coal, says Daniel Rohr, an analyst for Morningstar Inc.”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That German story should be told extensively.

        Another German story: Germans use less energy per capita than us (per Wiki, list of countries by energy consumption per captia).

        I favor less consumption, first of all.

        I also welcome solar and other greener forms of energy.

  18. HotFlash

    Bill Clinton defends Hillary: ‘We were $7m in debt … she’s not out of touch‘ Guardian.

    Umm, Bill, yes she is. And you are, too.

    1. Lambert Strether

      The danger of the “moral panic” about how out of touch the Clintons are will become apparent only when the putatively not out of touch Democratic candidate is vouchsafed to us. Honestly, can’t people spot the kayfabe, here? Or is it just too delicious to bash the Clintons?

  19. susan the other

    I agree with you Banger, that it started in the 50s. I think 1954 was the turning point. France had just been masacred at Dien Bien Phu and France was close to causing a breakup of NATO. France was cashing in all its dollars for gold and/or silver. That was bad enough, but the underlying fact was that we, the USA, were totally bankrupt. In Catherine Graham’s autobiography she talks about 1954 and the “Bankruptcy Ball” which was an actual gala celebration put on by the banksters to tell France and everyone else that we would do whatever it took to keep going forward with our vision of a new world order. And so we did. But it has been messy and we haven’t been very adaptable. And we are as broke now as we ever were. But so is everybody else.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Under our current economic/monetary regime, we won’t be broke until we run out of zeros.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Actually, we could only become “broke” if we ran out of real resources. Look at the out[put ]gap. We’re so far from doing any such thing it’s ludicrous.

  20. p78

    Why are the Super Rich So Angry? James Surowiecki, New Yorker
    “Moguls complain about their feelings because that’s all anyone can really threaten.” This reminds me:
    One of the toughest exam questions in Political Economy (undergraduate mandatory syllabus, in all universities, all majors, up until 25 years ago) was: “Karl Marx predicted that the ripe conditons for the socialist revolution will be reached first in the industrialized, developed West. Why are the people there not revolting?” So I wondered from infancy why are the americans not revolting. No answer yet.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Why no revolt?

      Keeping up appearances. Only losers revolt. I don’t revolt, therefore, I am not a loser.

      We are all well above average, economically.

    2. Banger

      Why are Americans not revolting? Because most Americans believe they are doing well and they like the sports, the cable channels, the toys and goodies and so on. The corporate state delivers the goods–why should there be a revolt? Yes, people are more stressed today than in the past but I see no clear reason to revolt–there isn’t enough pain, yet. We are still, as a culture, operating under narcissistic guidelines–if some people aren’t doing well–who cares as long as I’m doing well. Also, as we’ve all said many times–the mainstream media including the somewhat more hidden propaganda and mind-control of popular entertainments keep us confused and/or living in fantasies. The vast majority of the people have not a clue about what is actually happening–though they are beginning to suspect something isn’t right.

      1. Vatch

        As predicted by Aldous Huxley, Americans are distracted by Soma and The Feelies. And if those begin to falter, Orwell’s Ministry of Love (Homeland Security, among others), can take up the slack.

  21. ambrit

    Re. the UK Infrastructure bill, mentioned on 4bitnews; the site mybusinesscouncil has a brief run down on the bill. The bill strives, ominously, to “introduce lean organizational efficiency methods for Government and its departments.” Particularly, it proposes to establish a planning oversight committee for infrastructure projects consisting of only two people. Talk about Austere Government! It also appears to establish Public/Private entities called “Strategic Highways Companies” to oversee transportation projects. The bill further sets up a mechanism for the transfer of existing projects and oversight authority from the Secretary of States Office to these ‘Entities.’
    Additionally, the bill seems to transfer all responsibility for local land registry and tax information to Her Majesties Land Registry. In other words, a massive power grab, with the added bonus of seeming to establish a MERS like regime for the UK.
    All in all, Pandoras Box without the Hope part.

  22. Roland

    Vatch, relax.

    You don’t have to worry about world population, at least not per se. Fertility rates are dropping in almost every country in the world. In fact, “plummeting” is the best word to describe global fertility rates.

    Rich countries, poor countries, big countries and small countries, free and unfree, stable and unstable, educated and uneducated, those with strong rights for women and those with few rights for women, it just doesn’t seem to matter very much: fertility rates are everywhere trending towards sub-replacement, and the trend is more rapid, and more general, than anybody ever dared to predict.

    It looks like world population is going to peak much earlier, and at a much lower level, than was forecast in the past. We might not even reach 9 billion. To put that in perspective, the Brundtland Commission back in the late 1980’s was projecting a peak of 12-14 billion.

    Demographers are all dumbfounded. No theory satisfactorily accounts for recent data. Back in the 1980’s, if any demographers had presented today’s data as their projection, their peers would have laughed them out of the room. The only well-documented historical precedent for what we’re seeing in many places today was mid-20th century Quebec, which went from hyperfertile to sub-replacement in a single generational cohort. Few scholars would be inclined to treat such a peculiar example as a paradigm.

    But unless you’re concerned with the profession of demography, the current vacuum of population theory is not your problem. If you’re just somebody worried about overpopulation, then as I said you can simply relax and enjoy the view. From an anti-natalist standpoint, the news is nothing but good.

    1. Vatch

      Sure, fertility rates are dropping, but they’re still well above the replacement level in many countries, so the world’s populatoin continues to grow rapidly. We aren’t adequately feeding the people of the world at the current population of 7.2 billion, and we certainly won’t be able to do so at a higher population. As energy becomes more expensive, things will only get worse. I suggest you look at the Population Reference Bureau’s World Population Data Sheet. Here’s the link for the 2 Megabyte PDF file:

      Much of what you say is contradicted by the clear evidence presented in that document.

      Why isn’t the world’s population growing at the rate of a few decades ago? Because some people have realized what an absolute disaster large families are. Life in the slums of the world’s mega-cities is grim, to say the least. And it will get grimmer with every passing year.

  23. Roland

    @ p78,

    Capitalism is still rather immature as a world system.

    To help conceptualize this immaturity, just think of all the stuff in the world that hasn’t yet been turned into privately owned, tradeable, capital. Think of all the space, all the energy, all the biomass, that are currently not owned, traded, collateralized. For example, two-thirds of the world’s surface area hasn’t yet been turned into private property.

    Where are the futures markets for monsoon winds, ocean currents, or geosynchronous orbits? Look at all the pesky commons which still exist and are not being optimally maximally rationalized for Utmost Utility! Look at all the sorts of contracts which are still obstructed by silly antiquated state systems!

    There is so much for the bourgeoisie to do, so many ancient outrages to be stamped out, so many limits in need of the bourgeoisie’s playful transgressions.

    Also think of how many interpersonal relations, even in the most modern and most capitalistic countries, which are still governed by pre-capitalist customs. For example, families are things not yet really flexible or marketable enough to adequately conform to the demands of a capitalist world system.

    Another perennial problem is the strangely persistent concept of a selfhood independent of the ownership of capital. Non-proprietary consciousness is inappropriate and unacceptable. The requisite cultural transformation away from inappropriate selfhood is happening, but it’s just so slow. An intelligent bourgeois can only feel a sense of exasperation, at how the slow course of history frustrates capital, and thus routinely cheats Utility of its potential.

    So then, p78, my answer to your question, “why aren’t people in advanced capitalist countries revolting against capitalism?” is that you have mistaken relative advancement for absolute advancement. Contemporary capitalism is not very advanced.

  24. p78

    Frankly, “the bourgeoisie” you recall is not what I was talking about, because the wealth polarization is thinning the middle class. But the polarization ought to radicalize… somebody.
    I was refering to the preemptive indoctrination of the american lumpen proletariat against its own interests, aka there is no class self-awarenesss of the woking poor. (As Dee, Johann Sebastian and Banger mentioned above.)

  25. different clue

    Someone has broken the program here at work so that these computers no longer allow my replies to other peoples’ comments to nest.

    Way upthread someone said that Israel had a chance to choose peace in the late 90s and chose more houses in the Occupied West Bank instead. Actually a voting majority of Israelis did choose peace by supporting Rabin-Oslo and the Likudists assassinated Rabin to frustrate that choice and drive Israel back to the Likud choice of more houses. Jeff Wells posted an article about that at his Rigorous Intuition blog.
    Likud’s Rabin assassination and subsequent events have re-engineered Israeli society the way Likud wanted,
    and we see the Israel we have now.

  26. different clue

    Jim Haygood,

    The Clintons provided NAFTA, WTO membership for America, and MFN status for China. Also repeal of Glass Steagall and the telecommunications deform act of 1996. They made a small number of rich overclass people richer and overclasser. They have been richly rewarded for their services.

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