Links 7/15/14

Nobel-Prize Winner Fought Apartheid With Words New York Times. Nadine Gordimer is dead.

This is what political patronage looks like from space Quartz

Comcast Demands An Explanation Before Agreeing To Cancel Your Account Consumerist

Our Bees, Ourselves New York Times

Some Hospitals Are a Big Source of Bad Medical Advice Patient Safety. A write-up of recent work by Public Citizen.

Containing the Resource Crisis Project Syndicate (David L)

Asian Nations’ Fears of War Elevated as China Flexes Muscle, Study Finds Wall Street Journal

The BRICS Don’t Need Their Own Bank Bloomberg

Bad debt cannot simply be “socialized” Michael Pettis (fresno dan, Paul Niemi)

Why has China turned on the credit tap? MacroBusiness

Thailand and Myanmar: Traditional rivals now brothers in arms Straits Times

Carmakers Are Central Voice in U.S.-Europe Trade Talks New York Times

The bourgeoisie did not respect its heavy heritage failed evolution


Israel accepts Gaza truce proposal BBC

Opinion: Provocation and violence DW

No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory Jadaliyya (Nikki)

Obama, Israel and Liberal Capitulation Counterpunch


Ukraine plane hit near Russia border BBC

Kremlin dismisses direct strikes against Ukraine, but debate still rages in Russia Christian Science Monitor


I.S.I.S. and the Western media: Groping each other in public like a Kardashian Thanksgiving Pando. OMG, this piece is awesome.

Iran-Saudi Deal Is Crucial to Resolve Iraq-Syria Civil War

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek to Control the Internet Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

On the NSA, a White House credibility problem Columbia Journalism Review

Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours ars technica (Howard Beale IV)

Surveillance in NYC Cathy O’Neil. And remember, NYC has a mayor generally depicted as liberal.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Most of the World Doesn’t Like Our Unaccountable Flying Death Robots Jon Walker, Firedoglake

America’s largest reservoir is hitting new record lows every day Grist

Stymied in D.C., Obama Hits the Road Wall Street Journal

Obama Sounds a Warning to Wall Street RJ Eskow, Campaign for America’s Future

Millennials: The Politically Unclaimed Generation Reason-Rupe (furzy mouse)

America’s largest reservoir is hitting new record lows every day Grist

Military instructors granted PE authorization EdSource (DCBlogger)

U.S. Drug Firms Seek Inversion Deals to Evade Taxes New York Times

Earnings growth urgently needed to extend bull run Financial Times

Blogs review: U.S. inflation and growth Bruegel

China Bought $22 Billion Worth Of US Homes Over A Recent 12-Month Span Business Insider

Investors beware: economists at large Mohamed El-Erian, Financial Times

Buddhist Economics

Thinking Dangerously in an Age of Political Betrayal Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. ArkansasAngie

    Picking two snippets “cross-border private capital” and “access to capital”

    Cross-border capital is actually the Fed’s liquidity looking for a home. Come on BRIC’s … consume our inflation for us.

    They don’t have access to capital. They have access to debt. There is a difference.

  2. grayslady

    Reviewing the survey on the so-called Millennials provides me with two distinct conclusions: the “Me” Generation is alive and well, and both parents and our education system have failed young people abysmally (only 16% can define “socialism”?). Text messaging is not social engagement, and there seems to be a distinct lack of either understanding or appreciation of the commonwealth. Attitudes are distinctly propaganda-fed rather than considered. Frightening.

    1. Ned Ludd

      “Accord to the survey, only 16 percent of millennials could define socialism as government ownership, or some variation thereof…” Reason cannot define socialism, either. Socialism is democratic control of production. The conflation with state control is a result of the authoritarian, right-wing Bolshevik regime. Chomsky remarks on how “Lenin was a right-wing deviation of the socialist movement”, as was Bolshevism.

      There was nothing remotely like socialism in the Soviet Union… [Lenin] didn’t believe that it was possible to have socialism in the Soviet Union… He kept the view that the Soviet revolution was a holding action, they just kind of hold things in place, until the real revolution took place in Germany… That, presumably, gave some sort of justification for eliminating the socialist institutions.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        The word ‘Socialism’ was first used by the promoters of cooperatives as alternative businesses to the for profit corporations that personally enrich individuals at the expense of society. The doctrine of the state being organized to serve individuals, one at a time, enforce their rights, one at a time became the well known philosophy of individualism. Not to be outsmarted, the opposite would be socialism, which would have the state equally or primarily see to it that society as a whole would not be sacrificed to the material progress, wealth accumulation, of a few select members of society. When the institutions of the government are used to protect those individuals who pursue or have accomplished feats of great wealth, and then are perennially used to ensure that small group, we have capitalism.

        While socialism is the foe of capitalism, it is not the state outlawing private ownership of businesses the way it is in Cuba now. Nor is it conditions when the state runs some program for the benefit of society as a whole, such maintaining a national military force. Capitalists want the state all to themselves with all of its awesome power to coerce and to perpetually relegate themselves to privilege, power, wealth and authority. This is the aristocratization of the bourgeoisie. When the rest of the people seek to use the institutions of the state for all and everyone, this becomes the bogeyman of state controlled economic activity, or socialism. Since no one but Gus Hall and a handful of other cranks, have ever advocated Communism, the elimination of the nation state and its replacement with a radically reconstituted social order, see Chomsky for vying utopian ideals, Socialism has absorbed both the mantle of a reasonable solution to the political economy of the unchecked power of capitalism and freedom killing Red Menace.

        Just as the US Government was constituted with checks and balance of power, so to does the economy need a place where the common good is recognized and worked for on a daily basis. The limited equity cooperative, the worker cooperative on the producer side and the consumer cooperative on the other side together can make a place in the world for the majority of us who don’t feel a need to conquer each other in the market or the battlefield. The limited equity cooperative puts in place the feature that breaks the back of capitalism, the commodification process. We all need to eat, a place to live and shelter against a harsh environment. Some measure of stability over generations allows for less time spent buying and selling everything that has been turned into a commodity and dumped into a market. Socialism, does not mean that the state is exclusive in any institutional arrangement for the good of the whole. The US Post Office was founded by the government in the US Constitution with Ben Franklin as the Post Master General, a presidential cabinet position.

        But so hated is the government as an enterprising institution for the common welfare by capitalists, that even the original founding Fathers have been purged for their “socialist” program! No longer a cabinet post, no longer a strong, creative enterprise that binds Americans together. And cooperatives? Also frequently attacked as some sort of socialist trojan horse of state power. There are many housing cooperatives in the country, but a small percentage of the entire housing stock. Mostly, cooperatives are used in areas that are simply too unprofitable for businesses to pursue. This is seen on a large scale in the rural and agricultural areas of America. If you wanted to start a food coop in PA, the state laws typically only allow for this structure of enterprise for rural electricity or agricultural product marketing, dairy farmers banning together and the like. Right now, Comcast is abandoning rural cable channels as it expands its national position to include only channels that fit its market, urban centers. It is telling the hicks to go to the satellite companies for distribution, we won’t carry you any more. Maybe the US Post Office ought to go into the satellite telecommunication business.

        The strength of vision for cooperatives was championed by Jerry Voorhis, a solid New Deal congressman and promoter of coops as well as medical care for all via health cooperatives. Due to his efforts, people pooled money to build their own hospitals and bring doctors to millions of neglected Americans. What was a growing health care movement, built by the people, for the people was eventually overtaken by the booming post WWII expansion as well as other factors. But the elimination of the leadership of the coop movement and its chief proponent and its demonization as a Communist fellow traveler, in opposition to putative American Individualism tells how badly the rush to power and wealth spread down from the captains of industry to a coveting, social climbing middle class. Jerry Voorhis was defeated by Richard M Nixon in the opening salvos of a soon to be widespread effective conservative method of Red Baiting and smearing in political campaigns, used to this day by the right wing. A 5 term incumbent, in 1946 was unseated by a political unknown who used his own counsel, not that of the Republican party, to run the original dirty tricks smear campaign of unfounded charges of Communist sympathy, etc etc etc to successfully gain power. And with it, coops were also smeared as un-American in their collectivity!

          1. Ned Ludd

            The first couple of mentions, by pro-slavery politicians, were in 1848. The next mention came in a report to Congress, dated September&nbsp25, 1850, about Native American society. “The great hindrance to their civilization is that communism in which they live.

            Colonel Nathaniel McLean: The great object to be attained is to stimulate them to habits of industry, give them the idea of individual property, and throw around them the protection of law, to maintain these rights. The great hindrance to their civilization is that communism in which they live. There is no motive for industry; the lazy and profligate share equally with the industrious and well-disposed. This should not be so. The time is drawing near when the Indian must disappear before the overwhelming tide of emigration of the Anglo-Saxon race, unless he abandon in some good degree the chase [hunting], and adopt the agricultural system of the white man for subsistence. The American continent, although large, will not always afford him the necessary hunting-ground. All who adopt the habit and manner of life of the white man might very properly be made citizens, so soon as their progress in civilization would justify it.

            The Dawes Act of 1887 abolished communism and forcibly constructed a system of private property. The problem with tribes holding land in common, according to Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts, was that “There is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilization.”

            Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, a distinguished Indian theorist, gave a glowing description of a visit of inspection he had recently made to the Indian Territory [in 1883]. The most partisan Indian would hardly have painted such an idealized picture of his people’s happiness and prosperity and culture, but, illogically, the Senator advocated a change in this perfect society because it held the wrong principles of property ownership. Speaking apparently of the Cherokees, he said: “The head chief told us that there was not a family in that whole nation that had not a home of its own. There was not a pauper in that nation, and the nation did not owe a dollar. It built its own capitol, in which we had this examination, and it built its schools and its hospitals. Yet the defect of the system was apparent. They have gone as far as they can go, because they own their land in common. It is Henry George’s system [George was a nineteenth-century American land reformer], and under that there is no enterprise to make your home any better than that of your neighbors. There is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilization. Till this people will consent to give up their lands, and divide them among their citizens so that each can own the land he cultivates, they will not make much more progress.”

            From the footnotes of Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, quoting Angie Debo’s And Still The Waters Run, New York: Gordian, 1966 (original 1940), pp 21-23.

            1. Jagger

              After reading Colonel Nathaniel McLean comments, I wonder if there is such thing as Karma. If so, I wonder what sort of life he may be living today.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            …………other economic self-help groups that once recruited ordinary working people into civic and political activity have also become nearly extinct. From the early 19th to the middle 20th century, a number of economic functions were performed by not-for-profit institutions. To provide their services, they enlisted people into civic and political roles through volunteer boards and organizing efforts. Many were structured along lines of mutual self-help, often by immigrant groups. For example, beginning in 1831, building and loan societies (later called savings and loans) pooled capital so that people of modest means could finance homeownership. According to David L. Mason’s authoritative history, From Buildings and Loans to Bail-Outs, building and loan leaders and members understood their enterprise “as a movement, not an industry.” Credit unions likewise were organized to serve people who could not get bank loans. Volunteer fire brigades grew into mutual fire-insurance associations. In the first wave of group health-insurance plans in the 1930s and 1940s, many were organized as co-ops.

            In the Western states, where there were producer as well as consumer co-ops, the movement was one of the core constituencies of local Democratic Party politics and also a training ground for small-d democratic civic participation. Jerry Voorhis, the liberal California congressman whom Richard Nixon defeated in 1946, was later executive director of the Cooperative League of the USA. When the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, one of the pioneering prepaid group health plans, was organized in the late 1930s, its founders included activists in trade unions and co-ops. Because such groups were fiercely opposed by organized medicine, their leaders and members necessarily had to become active in politics.

            Government often played a supportive role by providing funding, expertise, and enabling legislation so that farmers’ co-ops, rural electric co-ops, nonprofit savings and loan associations (S&Ls), and credit unions could gain an economic foothold. Here, too, ordinary citizens served on boards and became involved in politics in order to defend and advance the interests of institutions that were often somewhat insurgent in the context of conventional capitalist enterprise.

            By the 1980s, this world, too, had mostly been destroyed or absorbed by conventional American capitalism. Nonprofit savings and loans, mutual life-insurance companies, and nonprofit health plans and hospitals had hundreds of billions of dollars in reserves that corporate executives coveted. When a mutual institution was transformed into a stock institution, executives could vote themselves options, take the company public at a low price, and then cash in as the value of the stock rose. Nonprofit S&L executives envied the high-risk/high-return speculative activities of their for-profit brethren. In the anything-goes atmosphere of the 1980s, business lobbied Washington and state legislatures for rules changes to enable these conversions. Reagan’s regulators likewise revised the law so that federally chartered S&Ls could be owned by one person, abolishing the requirement of at least 400 shareholders of which 125 had to be from the community. A side effect was the weakening of social and civic capital.


            1. Demeter

              Today, we call them :”condo boards” and HOA’s.

              I’ve been on my condo board 11 years now. I’m finally experienced and trained enough to see it as the only grassroots way to revive democracy with a small d. Individuals making a difference in a community (small enough to be noticed) will lead to bigger and better things, and a population trained to think and act for themselves while planning for posterity.

              My condo association was once a co-op (converted in 2008–as Lehman went south), and a more uncooperative co-op never existed. But in condo form, the liquidity of condo as real estate has softened people’s hearts into thinking of the greater good (since it affects property values).

              And then, there’s the massive education effort (in which Naked Capitalism has played no small part. Thanks you, Yves, for years of useful information and ideas!)

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Thanks for this, a critical definition of socialism, including its negation, totalitarianism. Hey, we’ve become the USSR! Hoodathunkit?

        1. Cynthia

          “Ideologies have failed for much the same reasons as did the ‘divine right of kings,’ and the ‘infallibility of Popes.’ Communism and capitalism have failed to deliver on the promises made by their proponents. Whatever benefits might have been possible within their ‘pure’ versions were soon enough lost to the greed, ignorance, arrogance and error of the men and women charged with implementing the vision. What was produced by our ‘leaders’ were just new names for the same old game, enriching a very few at the expense of the vast majority. When promise and practice diverge too widely, when hypocrisy becomes too obvious to ignore, people begin to seek new alternatives. Perhaps one day we’ll figure out that as long as we keep erecting steep hierarchies in our political, economic, and social structures, we’ll keep producing the same result. But while enormous wealth remains concentrated in the hands of a few, change will not come easily or painlessly.”


      3. jrs

        I would define socialism as worker control of the means of production. Now yes state socialism thinks this can be done through the state, that may be doubtful, and of course it goes without saying not through the capitalist state. Non state socialism/anarchism doesn’t think it can be done through state ownership and favors worker co-ops, syndicalism, etc. etc. If socialism is worker control over produciton – how can it not be more appealing as a working person, at least theoretically, to work for a worker co-op where you are part owner rather than a capitalism where you work for your masters? But how many people have even heard of such an idea?

        The welfare state is NOT socialism. This does not mean it has no benefits to workers and may not be desirable (especially if we can’t get socialism), but it isn’t and has never been socialism (NHS and so on might be considered socialism, but most welfare state programs aren’t even close – they somewhat ameliorate capitalism is all). I don’t even think leftists these days agree on the definition of socialism, the problem isn’t the kids.

        1. Ned Ludd

          Thanks for the nice summary. In school, teachers and professors almost always associated socialism with the Soviet Union. The “radical” professors, in contrast, would wring their hands about it being a Utopian ideal that would always fail in practice. But no one mentioned a workers co-op or democratic control of a workplace. Although I was opposed to capitalism, I left high school believing that the only alternatives for society were what the Reason poll offered – free market capitalism or government control of all production.

          1. jrs

            Yes a libertarian magazine what can on expect *smile*. Some percentage of their audience might flip anarchist if they only knew what it was. But libertarians are really often taking what was taught to most Americans in the last few decades, and just taking it far more extremely or alternatively consistently than others.

            I don’t think socialism was always quite so foreign though this country has never been any type of “left” friendly in policy. The mood of many books written in the middle of last century was very different than anything around now though. They really thought things would continue to improve for the average person. And you’ll find worker based socialism advocated in the strangest places, Erich Fromm’s “Sane Society” suggests it, as does Willhelm Reich. When I read classical psychology I may as well be reading hard left political science. :) The knowledge used to be greater …

    2. Ernesto Lyon

      Blame the victim. It is the older generations responsibility to teach the young how to be in the world. Whether you are a parent or not, it doesn’t matter.

      1. jrs

        very true, though kids rebel, it’s what they do, and that is fine . But to reach astounding levels of ignorance knowledge as such is clearly not being passed down. Even if the schools are lousy, where are parents and everything else they could learn from informally? The ability to time-bind knowledge defines human nature, right?

        1. toldjaso

          The “parents in virtual absentia” don’t qualify for the job. The pre-boomer generation is stepping up to the plate to knock some sense into the “younger generations” not quite brain dead, and they have seriously engaged a few in their young prime to carry the torch — the VITAL MEMORY — of authentic, spontaneous human dialogue into the future (more effectively than did those who memorized books in “Fahrenheit 451”). This is beginning to show the value of longevity in those who grew up reading books of great thinkers and studying the Magnum Opus of many a great mind, who grew up learning from their elders: the two generations before them who read books and engaged their children and grandchildren in the fine art of thinking and learning not only from one’s own errors, as well as generations of great thinkers/writers living and dead who lived for discovery and sharing the truths of human existence through time. The gift of human communication has been on the rack for fifty years, expected to die of torture. But more than a few White Knights have come to the rescue of the Living Word, liberating prisoners from the shackles of want, despair, and deadly ignorance (to “educate” is to “lead out” of ignorance). Acting in good faith brings hope, making TINA Doom-peddling obsolete.

          Young People, arise! We support your mission, and we have your back. “Walk forth.”

  3. David Lentini

    Groping and Groking ISIS

    Loved the Pando article on ISIS, but only to a point. It was great to finally read an analysis that cuts ISIS down to its tru(er) size—A Sunni chihuahua made to look like a raging pit bull. But the “gullible media” angle falls flat to me. The media is only “gullible” to the extent that the corporations who own the media, the politicians and military who feed the media the talking points, and the public who “consume” the media enable the “gullibility”. Here, the first two elements want to stoke the fear of the third element, for the purposes of more defense funding, greater social controls and pushing hidden hegemonic, third party, and financial agendas.

    We’ve seen this picture so many times now, it’s surprising that Pando ignores the obvious. The same propaganda playbook of “we have to stop ’em here or they’ll take the world” that we endured in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq, is being opened again. Time to stampede the public into giving their money and freedom to élites, because … terrorists! Perhaps that’s why ISIS claims to be shooting for Spain and Rome. But it’s for more than just the consumption of rich asinine Arabs; it’s at least as much for asinine Americans too.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      As amusing as the War Nerd’s piece dismissing Patrick Cockburn’s report was, I’ll go with Col. Pat Lang’s assessment on the matter of the seriousness of the ISIS threat. The languages, cultures and events in the Middle East have been his career, and I suspect he’s spent far more of his life being the pointy end of a spear than has Brecher. That’s not to say I favor the US military getting involved again in this mess, except to the extent necessary to get US nationals out of harm’s way. What the brass calls NEO (non-combatant extraction operations ).

      1. David Lentini

        Thanks for passing Lang’s link on. I agree with you and Carolinian about Brecher’s attack on Cockburn’s article. But that’s the difference between real journalists who go out and learn about their subjects first hand, and a guy who gives hand-jobs on ‘blog posts. And I really agree with Lang’s comments about the role of the U.S. military in all of this.

      2. BondsOfSteel

        Cockburn talks about the Iraqi Army weakness and it’s inability to defeat ISIS. Spot on. Brecher talks about ISIS’s weakness; that it’s mostly taken Sunni areas that are in open revolt. It’s yet to take a Shia majority area.

        It’s possible they’re both right.

        1. Cynthia

          Maybe ISIS can call up their buddies the Israelis to help them out? After all they get away with bombing whomever and wherever they damn well please with no apparent repercussions.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      It looks like a hammer in search of a nail, a vast war machine in search of a viable bogeyman with a big scary shadow. If it can’t find one, like the Mujahideen or al-Qaeda, it creates it, trains it, arms it, and funds it. War is a perpetual racket.

      I hadn’t yet read the link. I’ll do so now with your guidance.

      1. Cynthia

        It’s a pity that wars aren’t fought like in the olden days where Kings and Commanders rode at the head of their Army and clashed with their enemy in the field of battle.

        There wouldn’t be “chickenhawks” in Congress pushing for war if they had to do the fighting.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Yes indeed. It’s almost certain that any version of immigration reform will have some active provision for cannon fodder, a new nightmare act. Now that we have Honduran and Salvadoran children as refugees from our right wing coup regimes, we could lower the recruitment age and give these kids lives a noble purpose. (Not funny)

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I have to tell you, that is not fair.

      Due to the collapse in ad revenues, thanks to the Internet destroying classified ads, newspapers have had to slash news budgets and staffing radically.

      And journalists were outmatched even before that trend had matured. I met a few times with the WSJ reporter who opened their bureau in China. He went over in 1993 and came back in 1999. He was stunned at how much the practice of news had changed in his absence. News cycles had accelerated and government and business had gotten way more clever at spin and at controlling sources (as in limiting access to anyone who might give an independent view, due at least in part to more aggressive oversight of staff). As he put it, “It’s become impossible to get to the bottom of a story in a normal news cycle.”

      So journalists are to a substantial degree outgunned. Even when they want to do better, the odds are really stacked against them. They don’t have the resources to buck government/private sector propaganda (as in if they are going to say, “X is a crock” they need to nail it, otherwise they’ll be savaged for opposing party line without adequate “facts”).

      Now there are way too many journalists who’ve decided to go with the flow and play the access game, but the ones who try to do better face a huge uphill battle. You really underestimate how difficult it is today.

  4. Dino Reno

    Poroshenko’s standing order from NATO is to provoke Russia into invading Ukraine. The neocons are besides themselves with anticipation of a ground war in Europe…and not just any ground war, but the BIG ONE, the one they’ve been warning about for over sixty years. So far Poroshenko has shelled Russia and killed and injured a couple of people. He also claims Russia shot down a Ukraine transport planes which Russia denies. By brutally attacking civilians in Eastern Ukraine, he hopes to force Russia to honor its commitment to defend Russian sympathizers. Putin refuses to take the bait, because he sees this an obvious trap. How far will the neocons go to pull off the “win” of a third world war?

    1. Banger

      Of course, what they wish to do is to go back to the Cuban Missile Crisis and follow the advice of most of the military involved in decisions at that time and that is to make a pre-emptive strike on Russia. I believe JFK was shot, in part, because he intended, with Khrushchev to end the Cold War and the deal the two leaders made to end that crisis (which traumatized both men) was going to lead to ending the Cold War.

      The neocons want to go back and make a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Russia before it becomes more powerful since it has been rebuilding its defensive and offensive abilities. To paraphrase Madeleine Albright if you have nuclear weapons why not use them. The thing about the neocons is that they, like Stalin and others of that era, see nothing wrong with killing tens or hundreds of millions of people to achieve certain strategic and abstract aims. They pride themselves on being devoid of feelings–they are the ideal Western Man (or Woman), sharply analytical and trained to ignore the promptings of the heart–they associate together because they have become part of that almost religious cult of contra-compassionists.

      1. Abe, NYC

        I believe Mr. Putin’s current poison of choice is polonium. But it’s possible he reserves dioxin for Ukrainian Presidents. Those who poisoned Yushenko must bear a grudge – unlike Litvinenko’s assassin they never became Duma deputies! Perhaps because Yushenko survived?

        1. hunkerdown

          It is fabled that Yushchenko survived because some civilian doctor in the West recognized chloracne secondary to dioxin exposure from TV footage.

          As for the other, sources and methods, don’t you know.

    2. Cynthia

      I dare predict that a dramatic political, economic and military failure awaits the US fascist neoliberalcons, specifically in Ukraine. The Russian reaction was woefully miscalculated by the US warmongers and the result has been a reawakening of the Big Bear. I feel that Russia will continue to stay the course, pushing back a US/NATO expansionist drive around her borders and beyond. Russia will play it smart where they will avoid a head on confrontation, but beneath the surface, work very hard strengthening its economy and military capabilities, pretty much in line with what China has been pursuing.

      1. Jagger

        —Russia will play it smart where they will avoid a head on confrontation—-

        Historically, Russia has never played it smart. When they have triumped, it has usually been ever making every mistake in the book before finally doing it right. And often, they have failed before ever getting it right. Although Putin is smart and may make a real difference. Not to say he is an angel but he is very sharp as far as I can tell.

        1. Abe, NYC

          Historically, Russia has never played it smart.

          Exactly, not since the last tsar was crowned. Russia by now is a sorry anachronism, a nationalistic multi-ethnic empire.

          Maybe it could survive if it got smarter. Apparently Putin himself realizes the danger of nationalism, he has said in private conversations this is the greatest danger facing Russia. Nevertheless, he has tolerated ultra-nationalists (unlike “liberal” opposition, which has been suppressed with increasing brutality). But by now IMHO Russia is past the point of no return. The whole Crimea story has stoked chauvinism on a scale unseen in 60 years; the rhetoric now surpasses anything under Khruschev or Brezhnev. Even moderate economic problems (which are baked in the cake) will likely direct the hysterics first against migrants, then against non-Russian Russians, and the proverbial bull in a china shop is on the loose. They have tasted blood, stabbed their closest cousins in the back, and will hardly stop.

          And the leader of the opposition, Alexei Navalny, is even more nationalistic than Putin. He has a petition out calling for introduction of visa regime with former republics of the Soviet Union, and has publicly stated that internal migrants from Caucasus are even more of a problem since it is difficult to stop them moving into “Russian” Russia.

          So Russia is likely screwed and will fall apart once again. This time though, after Crimea, no-one will stand for its territorial integrity the way it was supported during the Chechnyan conflict.

          1. Jagger

            You forgot my comments about Putin. I also don’t believe Russia originated this crisis. I see what is going on as a serious threat to Russia from and originated by the west, orimarily the US. We should not be surprised by whatever reaction we have provoked. On its borders, Russia is still a large, powerful country and we underestimate them at our own risk, just as Hitler underestimated them. Tweaking a nuclear bear in his den is an exercise in idiocy.

  5. abynormal

    Thank You for including Buddhist Economics/Small is Beautiful.
    a Vonnegut poem worth repeating:
    True story, Word of Honor:
    Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
    now dead,
    and I were at a party given by a billionaire
    on Shelter Island.

    I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
    to know that our host only yesterday
    may have made more money
    than your novel ‘Catch-22′
    has earned in its entire history?”
    And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
    And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
    And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
    Not bad! Rest in peace!”

    but how to get there…realign our base so to speak? David Foster Wallace saw something here:

    Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

    Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being ‘well-adjusted’, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

    1. paul

      Its the ones that are very hardwired,EMP proof against thinking outside of themselves that are the problem. Most people’s wiring is just fine.

      1. jrs

        Most people’s wiring is probably sufficient to deal with those they deal with concretely and know personally. The problem is I think the very nature of the modern world forces barriers and depersonalizing others. It’s not really that natural for a human being to know what is going on on the other side of the earth. Much less to find out that “children are starving” (this is actually true of course but it’s also the cliche to get you to eat your vegetables), poeple dying of aids and so on, on the other side of the earth – must less that the country and system you live in creates that.

        So in the face of all these horror stories it’s “this couldn’t happen here, couldn’t happen to me, those people are somehow different etc.”. It’s straight out protective. “It can’t happen in America, it only happens to poor people, it …” A defense mechanism.

    2. diptherio

      Here’s my take from the Hindu/Christian take on the same thing. Forgive the self-indulgence:


      According to Hindu cosmology, we are now living in the last age of the current creation cycle, known as Kali Yug, or the Age of Kali. This current age is, in Hindu thinking, characterized by the progressive loss of the foundations of morality, wisdom and dharma. I have noticed lately that one thing that has been lost in our contemporary American culture in this age of Kali is the concept of “enough.”

      In a society governed by a capitalist and consumerist mindset, the idea of “enough” is not only out of place, it is anathema. For the capitalist enterprise, constant growth is an imperative. A corporation whose balance sheet is not showing a steady increase is viewed skeptically, no matter how profitable it may be. A company that is not continually growing will eventually be consumed by one that is, whether through competitive means or by outright acquisition. In a capitalist economy, to speak the word “enough” is tantamount to pronouncing one’s own death sentence.

      Likewise, there can never be “enough” for the modern consumer. One may own a house, a car, a television, a hot tub, and a million other things, but they are never “enough.” The consumer desires (and is ceaselessly told to desire) a bigger house, a newer car, a better television. There is always the re-model, the up-grade, the next best thing, always just slightly out of reach. As the goal of capitalist enterprise is to produce ever-greater quantities of wealth, the goal of the consumer is to acquire ever-more and ever-better products. For the capitalist, to say “enough” means economic death, for the consumer it means social death: stigmatization. One must have nice things, and many of them, but they are never “enough.”

      It is unsurprising, perhaps, that this should be the case in the economic sphere, and it has, perhaps, always been thus: people and organizations seeking ever more and more, never saying, “enough.” But in this age of Kali, “enough” has been lost from religion as well, all but forsaken by spirituality of all kinds. In this age of Kali one may become a great spiritual teacher and need never say, “enough”…but it has not always been thus.

      In Practice in Christianity, Soren Kierkegaard says that everyone desires to come to Christ in his loftiness, but none desire him in his lowliness, and surely the same may be said for the Buddha, for Rumi, for the saintly tzaddiks of Jewish Hasidism. We desire to identify ourselves with them in their loftiness, seated on a lotus, resplendent, but we forget that each one said, “enough.” We prefer our monks to come in fine robes with leather sandals and gold watches, perhaps carrying a briefcase; we forget that Siddhartha Guatama’s garment was sewn from rags, that he carried a begging bowl and rejected worldly wealth, we forget that he said, “enough.” We love the pretty language, the profound insights and dizzying metaphysics, but when we come to the word “enough” we pale, the mind goes defensively blank and…we move on. “Enough” is a difficult teaching, even in the best of times and for the best of minds, for “enough” is never what you think it is, never what you’re hoping for, but always infinitely less and yet, somehow, infinitely more.

      When Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to spread the new teaching, the good news (i.e. God loves everyone and so should you), he instructed them to “…take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts…” (Mark 6:8). He sent his disciples out into the world with nothing…and it was enough. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that, “pious men eat what the gods leave over, after the offering…the unrighteous cook good food for the greed of their stomachs.” (BG ch. 3, sl. 12) You just take what is freely given…and it is enough. Like Rabbi Pinhas, who would not keep the financial offerings of his disciples, but promptly distributed them to the poor; “I only desire what I already possess,” he remarked. And another time, “Ever since I began giving true service to my Maker, I have not tried to get anything, but only taken what God gave me.” He looked upon all that he had, all that he had been given…and it was enough.

      But for us, it is never enough. We have become like the rakshasas of Hindu myth, the demons who, having obtained boons from the gods, proceed to conquer the three worlds and attempt to overthrow the very gods who gave them their power in the first place. “More…more,” is ever our mantra, never “enough.” But endless growth and ever-increasing consumption is the modus operandi of cancer, and we are humans. Thus, our highest wisdom ever recalls us to our human-ness; reminds us through demonstration that we already have enough, if we could but see rightly. But in the Age of Kali, “enough” is left out of the discourse. The begging bowl has become a prop, if it is present at all, and not a way of life, not a call to radical action.

      David Hume and others have pointed out that wealth creates poverty, that those resources that go to satisfy the whims of the rich could easily provide bread for the many. The masses are deprived of life so that the few may placate their boredom. This is the way of things in a culture, in a world, that has forgotten how to say, “enough.” Who in this, the richest of all countries, or anywhere else, will look at themselves, at their own life and ask about “enough?” That way lies social and economic suicide, says the wisdom of the crowd, best to leave it be. Yes, “enough” is a hard teaching, even in the best of times, even for the best of minds.

      1. abynormal

        your flushed diptherio!…always aiding to clearing my path.

        “Have you ever considered what Adam and Eve were doing when they got into so much trouble? As I read the story, they were shopping. The forbidden fruit was not scattered throughout the garden, not in many places, not in multiple locations, but one place, one site, one location and one location only. Perhaps they just came upon it, “Oh, look, the forbidden fruit…” or, perhaps, they were looking for something, searching, shopping. Somewhere in their dissatisfaction they thought, “If only we had something more…”
        David W. Jones, Enough

        1. diptherio

          Apple Reconsidered

          Why, when from God’s garden fleeing
          did those two toss aside the fateful fruit?
          Did the harshness of the reprimand blind them from seeing
          that knowledge half-realized is knowledge made moot?

          And when they tossed it aside and cursed its name
          and stomped the apple into the new-hardened earth,
          did their creator then hang down his head in shame,
          to have brought forth something of so little worth?

          For with that first bite, death and foul pollution
          into their consciousness surely did rush;
          but another taste may have given solution
          to the problems of a world by ignorance crushed.

          Having tasted but little, in fear they tossed ‘way the core,
          but was their sin that they ate, or that they ate not more?

          1. toldjsa

            “A little learning is a dangerous thing:
            Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
            There shallow drafts intoxicate the brain,
            And drinking largely sobers us again.”
            — from “An Essay on Criticism” – the rhymed essay by Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

            We must “drink deep” or “drink not” — and since “half measures avail us nothing” (“Dr. Bill” to the world’s drunks), “educators” now are well-paid to do their duty for their liege lords in “academic” sanctimony, pushing the PartyOn! Lline to dunces made not born. The result is the anti-democratic “governance” of the People of StunningAbystmal Ignorance, by Avaricious Killer Proxies, for Merchants of Death and their SovereignDNA Rulers of Infinite Hubris and Infinite Appetite. Since “fiat” money be the food of death, frack on!

          2. abynormal

            what if they ate enough?…chucked the seeded core to grow for the rest of us. reprimand all day n night for all i care’)

            “If you have a candle, the light won’t glow any dimmer if I light yours off of mine.” Steven Tyler

        2. Banger

          I don’t agree. I think the Adam and Eve story was showing us the fact that we have a choice–knowledge and fully accepting our human nature or staying in an unconscious and beastly level. Eve chose the path of wisdom and the full knowledge it entails and, for most of us, knowledge and understanding is painful and burdensome–but if we want to share in God’s nature that is the path we must pursue. It is interesting that in traditional theology there is the idea of felix culpa coming from St. Augustine: “For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.” I also means that it was this Original Sin that brought the “need” to the incarnation of spirit into matter symbolized by Christ thereby “redeeming” all of creation. As I see it all this means that to step into this life and be fully conscious is to experience pain and good and evil, however, to understand that there is a deeper spirit within the material world actually brings us to resurrection or what is called in the East “enlightenment” which allows us to transcend and encompass good and evil and all the problems inherent in life by seeing it as a grand design. Adam and Eve lived in a very narrow way in Paradise–they had no clue what life and the world was all about they were connected but understood nothing. The Fall allowed mankind to expand his/her consciousness and then come “home” to a much deeper connection.

          1. diptherio

            I take the “Age of Kali” as a metaphor. The basic insight, to my mind, of the Hindu cyclical cosmos–progressing endlessly from perfection to putrification to nothingness and then back to perfection–is that civilizations change over time and that they tend to start out with more cooperative values that allow for their expansion, but lose those values over time until the center can no longer hold and things spin apart or crumble. Then there’s a dark age…and then it all starts over again.

        3. ex-PFC Chuck

          Regarding the Fall myth, I find the hypothesis put forth by Ryan and Jetha in Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality intriguing. They contend that Adam and Eve were not kicked out of garden, but rather were kicked into one. Namely the garden of agriculture, the invention of which began mankind’s alienation from nature. It began the enclosure of the commons, and that led to the need to protect specific tracts of turf which led to the need to know paternity which led to the subordination of women, and so on. So here we are, ten thousand years later, dealing with the fallout.

      2. Banger

        Great comment–I said much the same thing below.

        I tend to discount, however the Kali Yuga idea (it is actually controversial among scholars) but at any rate we can agree that we are in a relatively dark age in terms of the human character development of the average person. I suggest to you that this devolution has a good end. I believe this degeneration of the human spirit through radical materialism and capitalism is a necessary stage towards a world-transformation on a stunningly hard scale.

        What is that about? Look at what modernism/post-modernism has done. It has dissolved much of traditional culture–while many still cling to tradition they do so as a sign of weakness not of strength. The fundamentalist mentality takes the traditional ideas and removes them from a living font of wisdom and creates a weirdly perverted caricature of what that religion or tradition actually was. For example, the obvious example of both fundamentalist Islam and Christianity–they are utterly divorced from their own wisdom traditions and exhibit hateful and radically anti-spiritual messages. While spirituality is actually flourishing in New Age and modern adapatations of Yoga and Buddhism (and other practices) that are moving beyond their origins and shaping into new syncretic movements that are creating numerous and highly diverse spiritual communities that are focused on sensitizing us to exploring unofficial reality beyond the narrow confines of traditional Western thought that has become for good and bad reasons, radically narrow and materialistic. I see the modernist experiment (basically 1648 until, more or less, the present as largely beneficial and necessary (even considering the horrible suffering) but its basic outlines are now toxic and we must move on.

        The problem we face is that the leadership of this world order don’t want to move on and are in denial and are more interested in repressing than expanding the human spirit, mainly out of fear of the unknown.

      3. optimader

        “the unrighteous cook good food for the greed of their stomachs.” Puts me squarely in the unrighteous column and I’m good w/ that.

        “take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts…” (Mark 6:8). He sent his disciples out into the world with nothing…and it was enough.”
        “You just take what is freely given…and it is enough.”

        My BS alarm is going off on this one Diptherio. I was raised to pursue what gives me satisfaction and share it.
        “take nothing for their journey blahblahblah”.= parasitism. I am good with the fact that there will always be a percentage of the population that choose to pursue this minimum common denominator existence, but it certainly is no path to enlightenment or righteousness IMO

        1. MikeNY

          It’s not BS. It may be an unattainable ideal for you and for me, but that doesn’t make it BS. A good number of mankind’s most enlightened figures (e.g. Gandhi, Buddha, Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, Simone Weil) lived this way.

          Most of us find it too hard, so we make a compromise between this ideal, and the worldly ideal of selfishness and consumption. And so we are unremarkable.

          Dorothy Day remarked, the moment you think you’ve “done enough” for the poor and oppressed, you’re lost.

          1. optimader

            “It may be an unattainable ideal for you and for me”
            What exactly is the “ideal” youre referring to?

            How does ” just take(ing) what is freely given” help the poor and oppressed? Sounds more like resource competition w/ those that truly have no alternative.
            “take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts…”
            “…Krishna says that, “pious men eat what the gods leave over, after the offering”. Pious or lazy?

            reads more like a theological claptrap to cultivate ignorance and poverty as a method to control the adherents.
            Give them a Fish rather than a Net and you’ll have perpetual adherents rather than independent free thinkers, right?

            1. skippy

              Voluntary self diminishment in an act of spiritual cleansing which is imposable to obtain, but, one should never stop trying….

              skippy… now who would benefit from such an arrangement and be happy to fund it….. ummmmm????

            2. MikeNY

              I was remiss: I should have mentioned Socrates.

              In Plato’s Apology, Socrates proposes an alternative sentence to death for his alleged crimes: “Nothing could be more appropriate … than free maintenance at the state’s expense.”

              LOL! Socrates knew his place and his worth.

    3. trish

      thanks. I loved my immediate experience with the Vonnegut poem. As always, with Vonnegut.

      1. abynormal

        Tish, you want an experience…enter the Leonard Cohen world

        Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
        You can hear the boats go by
        You can spend the night beside her
        And you know that she’s half crazy
        But that’s why you want to be there
        And she feeds you tea and oranges
        That come all the way from China
        And just when you mean to tell her
        That you have no love to give her
        Then she gets you on her wavelength
        And she lets the river answer
        That you’ve always been her lover
        And you want to travel with her
        And you want to travel blind
        And you know that she will trust you
        For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.
        And Jesus was a sailor
        When he walked upon the water
        And he spent a long time watching
        From his lonely wooden tower
        And when he knew for certain
        Only drowning men could see him
        He said “All men will be sailors then
        Until the sea shall free them”
        But he himself was broken
        Long before the sky would open
        Forsaken, almost human
        He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
        And you want to travel with him
        And you want to travel blind
        And you think maybe you’ll trust him
        For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.

        Now Suzanne takes your hand
        And she leads you to the river
        She is wearing rags and feathers
        From Salvation Army counters
        And the sun pours down like honey
        On our lady of the harbour
        And she shows you where to look
        Among the garbage and the flowers
        There are heroes in the seaweed
        There are children in the morning
        They are leaning out for love
        And they will lean that way forever
        While Suzanne holds the mirror
        And you want to travel with her
        And you want to travel blind
        And you know that you can trust her
        For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

        1. abynormal

          my apologies Trish not Tish (fingers need a rest)
          thanks everyone for the shares…my cup runneth over

    4. toldjsa

      That quotation from Wallace explains his suicide: He met the void, and it was himself. He tried to make his inner vacuum go away with “medication” then without “medication”. Doing the real inner work is a “long, hard slog” which he was not willing to undertake. But he, he was “rewarded” on his “merits” while it lasted. PhyrricVic.

      1. abynormal

        pretty obvious suicide contemplation is woven into the grapple with his self vs masses.
        identifying the ego while balancing it is most definitely ‘the’ slog of slogs…but i know plenty of folks medicated by big pharma just so they won’t feel their feelings. my own sister will bring you bodily harm if you go near her 3x a day xanax…she keeps a stash to ‘checkout’ just for that day the obama squeeze nears. she has manipulated the system to never have to grapple with her inner vacuum…she’s not alone out there. how many will be in any condition to contribute…i give folks like Wallace a wider birth.

        1. toldjaso

          Your sister is afraid of a phantom. She makes herself a Willing Victim To the Man. Love her, pray for the salvation of her “soul” by any name. Risk it. The Way to Life is One Only: courage in the face of fear (entymology: “cor” (Latin for “heart”), “coeur” (Fr.), “cuore” (It.).

          “Leap Before You Look” (by W.H. Auden December, 1940)

          The sense of danger must not disappear:
          The way is certainly both short and steep,
          However gradual it looks from here;
          Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

          Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
          And break the by-laws any fool can keep;
          It is not the convention but the fear
          That has a tendency to disappear.

          The worried efforts of the busy heap,
          The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
          Produce a few smart wisecracks every year;
          Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

          The clothes that are considered right to wear
          Will not be either sensible of cheap,
          So long as we consent to live like sheep
          And never mention those who disappear.

          Much can be said for social savoir-faire,
          But to rejoice when no one else is there
          Is even harder than it is to weep;
          No one is watching, but you have to leap.

          A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
          Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
          Although I love you, you will have to leap:
          Our dream of safety has to disappear.

          (“W.H. AUDEN: Collected Poems” Edited by Edward Mendelson (1976, Random House, NY)

          1. abynormal

            love it Toldya. Thank You for the Share and i’ll continue to pass it along…very timely.

    5. Carla

      How Beautiful — Buddhist Economics.

      Zen saying: “Enough Is A Feast.”

      I wish for all of my family and friends, all of my community, all of humanity, just to have enough. And even more essentially, to know when enough is enough. “Enough Is A Feast” is a profound blessing, and a profound challenge for each of us to meet individually, and in our communities.

      And of course there’s that other thing: when it’s time to say to TPTB “Enough Is Enough” and do something about it.

      I am so grateful to Yves, Lambert and NC for the mental stimulation, new ideas, pleasure, and rage, they bring into my little life on a daily basis.

  6. abynormal

    Bill GATES Foundation Announces Implantable Remote-Controlled Contraceptive Microchip That Can Last Up To 16 Years
    “The idea sprouted after a visit Bill made to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) two years prior, where he asked professor Robert Langer if there was any way to turn birth control on and off via remote control.”

    “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” inscribed over the GATES of hel!

    1. toldjsa

      Did you notice that it’s a contraceptive for women, not for men? How about banning Viagra for a start?

      1. abynormal

        amazing! i just received an email to a reply for the same quote i used above…yaker told me to ‘put down you bible and get a grip’

        my reply is hung up in moderation:
        “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

    2. hunkerdown

      This emphasis on reversibility in contraceptive research unsettles me greatly. People need to get over the conceit that there is any value in their individual genetics and not give their parents an excuse to coerce them into making wallet-size photos to show off at the olds’ home.

      Of course, maybe BillG knows where his 3% growth forevar comes from.

  7. Carolinian


    Nor, in this instance, does theory become an end in itself, an ossified discourse that defines itself to the degree to which it is removed from the world and vanishes in a black hole of irrelevancy and opaqueness.

    You’ll have to pardon if my “commonsense” (does he even know what that means?….it isn’t “conventional wisdom”) says that Giroux’s “ossified discourse” is many many words saying very very little. True he does concede that those English majors may be a little too ivory towerish. Still it’s telling that at the top of his list of “critical thinkers” is Freud, once described by Nabokov–getting dangerously commonsensical– as “that Viennese quack.” Literary types of the past century were sure that Freud offered the deepthink key to human personality and books and movies of the era were full of Freudian themes.

    Now not so much. Funny how intellectual fads change or perhaps the analysands have just moved on to pharmaceuticals.

    Giroux goes on to lambast the usual liberal boogeymen such as Fox News and Republican governors–funny how “critical thought” is so cliched–and praise moralistically inclined left writers such as Chris Hedges. That said, i can’t argue with his shoutout to the undoubtedly great Bill Moyers.

    At any rate I have to humbly suggest that it may in fact be the “critical thinkers” with all their intellectual vanity who are the source of our current situation. After all the neoliberals and neocons have their “theories” as well–many of which were hatched in the groves of academe, not the Fox news greenroom or some rural backwater. Gosh knows our current ruling class has no shortage of highly educated people. Perhaps what we really need is a little less “critical thinking,” a little more commonsense.

    1. James Levy

      I would say that the neoliberals and neoconservatives are the farthest thing from critical thinkers. They are vendors. They entered into the “marketplace of ideas” with a simple set of nostrums tailored to the needs of wealthy and powerful constituencies. As the upper class stopped thinking for themselves (because with computers and satellites they could make money 24/7/365) and outsourced thinking to what Chomsky called The New Mandarins, these people moved in and picked up the slack that men like Root, Roosevelt, Wilson, Stimson, Harriman, Kennan, Acheson, et al. used to provide to the upper class. We forget that we used to have upper class intellectuals who set the agenda for the upper class. Now we have academic and think tank wannabes and poseurs who do that job for the upper class. And a mighty shitty job they do, for their function is to flatter and assuage, not to actually critically evaluate. An Elihu Root or a Dean Acheson could bring some unwanted truth to their elite fellows, but if you are the in-house “intellectual” you are a courtier and dependent on the payroll, so you tell those above you what they want to hear. A recipe for disaster.

      1. toldjsa

        Well said. To paraphrase a meme: “It’s hard to speak truth with a “BigSwingingDick” down your throat.

    2. Massinissa

      I agree with you on everything you say, though I dont see whats wrong with Hedges.

      Hedges is at least better than Girouxs substance-less liberal claptrap.


      1. jrs

        I like where Hedges is going recently, on how culture (that one may or may not be familiar with) reinforces “the system”, like his recent article on manadatory excessive patriotism and militarism at baseball games. I don’t think many people are aware of some of the aspects of the culture he covers. Ok as American as baseball right, but I was not at all aware of how bad the jingoism and militarism had gotten there. The culture most people encounter may be far worse than I assumed.

        So maybe Hedges solutions are weak, and maybe he plagerizes, and maybe he’s C.I.A. – how would I know that last one anyway. But he is a real pleasure to read.

        1. Carolinian

          Perhaps it was a cheap shot to bring in Hedges who does a respectable job covering his moral indignation beat. Of course we all have moral indignation–if we have a conscience–and I guess that’s just it. To me Hedges often seems to be stating the obvious and at length–not unlike Giroux. But yes, he is sincere. The Giroux article on the other hand struck me as typical and poorly argued wagon circling on behalf of the left intelligentsia.

          Hey, it’s just my opinion….what we’re here for.

        2. Carla

          Reading Hedges usually makes me want to kill myself, which could be in his favor, depending on your point of view. Giroux, on the other hand, has nothing to say that is worth my time, which is now short, because…Hedges.

    3. Jake Mudrosti

      “After all the neoliberals and neocons have their “theories” as well–many of which were hatched in the groves of academe”

      Yes, it’d be useful if Giroux pressed more there — for example, to discuss the ooze out of Stanford’s Hoover Institution ( ) & related circles, instead of whacking the Fox News piñata.

      Here’s Stanford Magazine, presenting the intellectual “cover” that a future warmonger might need, while pretending to acknowledge war’s costs:
      “On the Spoils of War — Historian Ian Morris makes a case for ‘productive’ conflicts.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Work with any Microsoft product, and you will quickly realize that it was coded by off-planet intellects who do not share human assumptions about logic, convenience or beauty.

      Send ’em back to Betelgeuse; it’s no great loss.

      1. hunkerdown

        How much beauty can one cram into anything when breaking other people’s stuff is a frequent mandatory objective? I blame the Greys.

    2. ewmayer

      Leaked Build of Windows 9 Shows Start Menu Return – Slashdot

      MSFT: “We haven’t a clue what our dwindling user base really wants because we historically have told our users what they want, so our OS product cycle now consists of removing stuff users were used to, adding stuff they hate and which is often unstable, then restoring the removed stuff and claiming it’s ‘innovative’.”


  8. Jim Haygood

    David Stockman pounds the ZIRPers with a Louisville slugger:

    Central banks are massively and insouciantly pursuing financial instability. That’s the inherent result of the 68 straight months of zero money market rates that have been forced into the global financial system by the Fed and its confederates at the BOJ, ECB and BOE.

    ZIRP fuels endless carry trades and the harvesting of every manner of profit spread between negligible “funding” costs and positive yields and returns on a wide spectrum of risk assets. Keynesian central bankers are bubble-blind. Whereas they monitor immense amounts of “incoming” high-frequency macro-economic data that is trivial and “noisy” in the extreme, they ignore entirely “incoming” financial market data that points to monumental troubles just ahead.

    At the end of the day, the Fed and its fellow traveling central banks have systematically dismantled the natural stability mechanisms of financial markets.


    Not that the Yellenites will pay the slightest attention to Stockman’s brickbats. As ‘boys in the bubble,’ they see what they want to see.

    But it’s important to inveigh against their lunacy on the record. Next time the FOMC band strikes up the familiar chorus that ‘no one could have foreseen this exogenous shock’ and ‘we’ll put Humpty Dumpty back together again,’ some of us will point to proof that it was foreseen, and that the sticky puddles of yolk and albumen on the sidewalk can’t be reassembled into a talking egghead.

    1. James Levy

      Calling the ECB “Keynesian” is absurd. Bernanke wasn’t one, either. That’s just silly hyperbole, It is trying to turn a completely legitimate term into a bogeyman, like “Marxist” or some such nonsense. It’s foolish to make such statements. Just tell us why the policy is dumb without the guilt by association garbage.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Hard to tell whether Stockman is using ‘Keynesian’ as a generic term of abuse, or quasi-seriously in the sense that:

        QE –> more reserves –> more lending –> more spending –> Keynesian demand mgmt

        So absurd is the formulation that even Maynard K. might have balked at it.

        ‘Bernankean’ or ‘Greenspandian’ are the mots justes to connote both ridicule and intellectual fallacy.

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        I think Stockman has a caricatured understanding of Keyensism (not that I have much more of a grasp of his work), and as Jim H suggests as Option A in his comment above Stockman does use the word as a generic term of abuse.

      3. ewmayer

        Not to put words in his mouth, but I suspect Stockman is referring to Keynes’ 2-part countercyclical recipe as realized in the real world, i.e. by politicians and policymakers who hear only the parts they want to hear, giving us our present global affliction of “one-way Keynesianism”, a.k.a. “when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

    2. Jim Haygood

      And another heaping helping this very morning from J-Yelzebub:

      The Committee recognizes that low interest rates may provide incentives for some investors to “reach for yield,” and those actions could increase vulnerabilities in the financial system to adverse events. While prices of real estate, equities, and corporate bonds have risen appreciably and valuation metrics have increased, they remain generally in line with historical norms.

      In some sectors, such as lower-rated corporate debt, valuations appear stretched and issuance has been brisk. Accordingly, we are closely monitoring developments in the leveraged loan market and are working to enhance the effectiveness of our supervisory guidance.


      Translation: ‘We are standing idly by, clutching our purses and tut-tutting in disapproval at speculators, as we inflate our 70-to-1 leveraged balance sheet at a 25% annual rate.’

    3. Massinissa

      Keynesianism hasnt been used in the USA for decades.

      Military Keynsianism not withstanding of course, not being true keynsianism. Which should be obvious considering the biggest critics of keynsianism often still support military keynsianism and bloated military budgets.

      1. skippy

        Yep… AET sorts confuse their second cousins neoclassicals as Keynesian because they back fill poorly underwritten credit to hide the crime, family comes first you know, the neighbors might start talking… eh…. loss of reputation etc… and that might lead to change… can’t have that now… can we…

  9. wbgonne

    Hi All: Is there a way to avoid having comments going into Moderation (which seems to be a black hole)? Is there a list of “bad words” somewhere that I should know to avoid? my last comment — on the Japan piece — had nothing remarkable in it that I could see but it went into the ether and I hadn’t saved it so it is gone for good. A grave loss to the world.

    1. Banger

      I suspect it is both random and may have something to do with length. I don’t believe Lambert or Yves is censoring anyone unless, I assume, they are being abusive. They may be on the lookout for some people who may tend to stray more than others but really this blog is about as free and open as you can get.

      1. Carla

        What Banger said. I’ve been sent into Moderation here occasionally (just yesterday, actually) and I say, “Oh well. Certainly the world can live w/o my opinion on whatever it is for however long, or forever.” NC has the greatest free exchange of ideas I’ve come across so far, so quitcherbitchin. Let it go. You’ll feel much better.

      1. Banger

        Really? How about f-ck or something like that. I wonder why that word is singled out–seems rather juvenile. The poor Anglo Saxons are still suffering from the ravages of 1066–when the intercoursing Normans imposed their superior airs on their subject populations.

      2. Carla


        Let’s try this. My political philosophy is:

        The Republicans tell you they’re going to fuck you over, and then they fuck you over.

        The Democrats tell you they’re going to help you, and then they fuck you over.

        Which do you prefer? Full disclosure: I am now registered as a member of the Green Party. Not that they’re so great, but they’re weak enough that their fuck margin seems to be pretty low.

        1. Carla

          Okay, that was a test. Guess the f-word is not the gate to moderation hell. Not that I didn’t mean everything I said.

    2. toldjsa

      Dissing a most-favored brand, or impugning the justice of phallic dominion, may be forbidden.

    3. Lambert Strether

      First, the Internet is a hostile computing environment; if you don’t save your comments you can expect to lose them, so get in the habit.

      Second, because Akismet.

      Third, it took maybe an hour to pull your comment out of the queue between the time Yves went to bed and I checked in. If you want instantly responsive 24/7 live coverage, the PayPal button is to your right, and don’t stint on the zeroes.

      Fourth, don’t whinge.

    4. Skeptic

      I have been sent to Moderation Detention a few times. Seems there are no rules or explanations as to when one is released. I now compose my comment elsewhere, post it here and, if it goes to Moderation, I check back and if comment not there, then just post again. Maybe Moderation Detention is a Badge Of Honor, somewhat like Nixon’s famous Enemies List.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Moderation is the cost of having a comments section that works. Check the rest of the web. The rules may seem arbitrary and produce false positives, but we have a workable compromise, particularly given the site’s limited resources. The foolproof method would be to moderate ALL comments, which would frustrate readers enormously.

        1. Carla

          Yves, you are doing an incredible job. Don’t change a thing — unless it’s in the direction of taking care of yourself. I really don’t know how you do it.

  10. Hinckley, Bobbitt & Pound, Counselors at Law

    Good article in Jadaliyya, with a couple caveats.

    1. They say occupation law and self-defense are “distinguished from the peacetime legal regime regulated by human rights law.”

    USG lawyers take that reductive notion and run with it to assert that the US when on the rampage is subject only to International Humanitarian Law. But IHL defines the crime of persecution as intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights. In the established framework of international law it’s a war crime to abolish, suspend or declare inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party. International tribunals are required to interpret international humanitarian law consistent with human rights, and judges of tribunals are chosen for their knowledge of human rights.
    Human rights don’t go away when violence starts. That’s US/Israeli impunity propaganda. In peacetime, human rights derogations for foreign nationals are wrongful acts; in wartime they are crimes.

    2. “They [UNSC resolutions 1368 and 1373] affirm that those terrorist acts amount to threats to international peace and security and therefore trigger Article 51 of the UN Charter permitting the use of force in self-defense.”

    Not true. The resolutions cite the right of self-defense in the preamble but they do not authorize use of force in self-defense. The UNSC remains seized, meaning nobody makes a move without their say so. Directing implementation of terrorist conventions actually entails dispute resolution, not war. See for yourself.

    Great conclusion about the Red Queen shit the US and its satellites try to pull. They’re not crazy, they’re trying to make hash of the law.

    1. Banger

      I don’t believe there is any such thing as international law–what we have is a series of multi-lateral agreements which depend on all sides having some equivalence in political and military power. In reality the only law in place is the law of force. The U.S. can inflict and has inflicted collective punishment, for example, in all the wars it has fought while claiming not to, of course. Iraq, for example, showed direct terrorist acts on civilians who were deliberately targeted by American bombs as part of the strategy and tactics of that war. But the same could be said of any U.S. military involvement in any war starting with Sherman’s march to the sea of course.

      1. toldjsa

        “law of force” – just so: Salic law is Phallic law, and rape is victory for the *winners*.

    2. hunkerdown

      Human rights don’t go away when violence starts. That’s US/Israeli impunity propaganda. In peacetime, human rights derogations for foreign nationals are wrongful acts; in wartime they are crimes.

      I don’t think it’s cynical propaganda; I think it’s a sincerely held first-order consequence of authoritiarianism, the belief that The System can do no wrong, therefore whatever is against The System is wrong. All supported by reams of sycophantic sophistry serving not as a retort to paternalism but as its sword and shield.

      Say what you will about the tenets of nihilism, at least it’s a logos.

  11. optimader

    RE:Comcast Demands An Explanation Before Agreeing To Cancel Your Account
    The conversation is unintentionally pretty funny. A HAL9000. It would have been easier to tell him the conversations is being recorded to confirm accuracy, ask him to state the account information, then just tell him to cancel the account. But the way he did it made for better theater.

    Comcast’s Psyops script team reframes ownership of the service from Comcast to the subscriber Shouldn’t it read OUR service?
    “My job is to have a conversation with you about keeping YOUR service, about finding out why it is you’re looking to cancel YOUR service. If you don’t want to talk to me, you can definitely go into the Comcast store and cancel YOUR service there”.
    Glad to see another subscriber unplug from cable. Screw them until they setup up to bandwidth speeds and price offered in other countries apparently quite successfully.

    1. Paul Niemi

      Like a man talking to his own tapeworm. That’s what I thought of the customer’s conversation with Comcast. I have complained about these guys before, cable providers in general being probably the #1 instigators of dings on people’s credit reports. I don’t know if anyone knows just how much people spend on cable, but I would guess on average 10 percent of their income, and there is no way to tell if that is money well spent. I have had cable for years, and I have never been able to figure out what channels I’m supposed to be getting or what channels I actually get. It’s like the channels are assigned randomly and change often. Then a child plays with the remote control and suddenly there is an extra $200 added to the bill. So, the guy on the phone says we are saving $100 a month? Versus what? Why did the rep want to keep the customer on the phone so long? Was it long enough to start a wire tap, strangle his credit, or start a mortgage foreclosure?

      1. optimader

        “I would guess on average 10 percent of their income,and there is no way to tell if that is money well spent.”
        It profoundly is not unless they are using it to generate some multiple of their income.

        Do your DD on digital antenna TV (free) and what your local library can offer directly and through the regional network, ours is called SWAN (free).I have a decent internet service over the phone for ~$35.00/month at home.

    2. toldjsa

      As with HAL9000, time to “Just pull it!” like Building 7, like pulling HAL’s memory banks in Kubrick’s “2001” (was Stanley coaching us?), time to “pull out all the stops” of the Mass Organ of the People’s Voice Roaring “NO MORE!” Shall we get a life and leave the canned catfood commission without a prayer?

    3. bob

      “you can definitely go into the Comcast store and cancel YOUR service there”.”

      If you can avoid a comcast ‘store’, do so. They are not stores. They make the DMV look customer service oriented. They are usually in the worst part of town jammed into a very small space. You enter into what appears to be a ghetto liquor store, complete with bullet proof glass in front of the customer abuse agent. Normally, no chairs or any place to wait while you are waiting to be “served”. The wait is usually very long.

      I had comcast for a little over 2 years. I was sent to that office to exchange their broken equipment at least half a dozen times. It’s their answer for anything- “come down to the customer processing center for some abuse”.

      1. Paul Niemi

        The “customer abuse agent.” That is so perfect, I can’t stop laughing. All I would add, besides the bullet proof glass, no chairs, and the ghetto liquor store ambiance, is the piece of tape on the floor to stand behind. Wait, who is that behind the customer servicing counter? No, it can’t be. It is! It’s Frank Oz!

  12. fresno dan

    Comcast Demands An Explanation Before Agreeing To Cancel Your Account Consumerist

    First, I tell firms they are not my mother and I don’t owe them any explanation. Than I course, because I can’t help myself, I give the poor drudge the whole list of my grievances with their overpriced crappy company.
    But my real point is that this (like tomatoes, everer small airline seats et al) is just another example of crapdonics, the opposite of hedonics, where things are getting worse and worse, but are never evaluated by the FED or anyone in government, who all have a Candide outlook.

    1. hunkerdown

      Hedonic substitution: when product becomes too expensive, consumers switch to sales pitches.

  13. Eureka Springs

    Sounds like Comcast is worried. Or maybe it’s just my hope that they are… Anyway I have long wondered from both within and without the walls of corporations acting just like Comcast how anyone unless as hungry as an US Occupied Honduran can compel themselves to act like that Comcast employee?

    Reminds me of a conversation a friend of mine had with Verizon recently where at one point he said “I’ve been a good customer for many years” and I just laughed out loud. Why American consumers think there is any loyalty considered by the big corps or government for that matter after decades over overwhelming experience to the contrary continues to amaze me.

    Some people may sell their souls to the devil, but most like that employee and far too many consumers just give it away.

    1. Inverness

      Of course, let’s also take into consideration the customer service representative, who is almost certainly pushed to be as obnoxious as possible to maintain sales quotas. He’s certainly fighting for that lousy job. You can hear the desperation in his voice.

      Naturally, Comcast has already sent out a neat little press release claiming the representative was violating Comcast’s etiquette. Yeah, right. Comcast gets to blame it on the peon, and hope that will appease customers.

  14. D. Mathews

    This is what political patronage looks like from space — “In regions where electricity is scarce, towns that were the the birthplace of the country’s political leader will shine the brightest at night.” However if you zero in our (relatively) small island of Puerto Rico, you will notice that it outshines its political importance by a significant magnitude.

    1. Eureka Springs

      What’s happening way up in north Alaska? Are they burning through off-gas like North Dakota?

  15. fresno dan
    The original article is at the Atlantic, but what is interesting is that the Atlantic did not have a picture of the mother. The BI article shows the most salient fact, that is left out by FRIEDERSDORF, that the mom is black…but I’m sure South Carolina will say that is irrelevant….and maybe it is. Maybe South Carolina will state that it just hates poor people regardless or race, creed, or nationality.
    You get the impression from these people that loving parents are rich parents, who can afford nannies.

    1. Jagger

      On weekends and summer breaks, when I was a kid that age in the early 60s, we would disappear in the morning and show up for lunch and then disappear again and show up for dinner. The law would have had to throw every parent in our neighborhood in jail using today’s standards. It is just insane.

      1. fresno dan

        I was left at home when I was 6 for hours at a time.
        I can remember cooking for myself – spaghettios. Ahh – the tender pasta, the tangy yet sweet orange sauce – I have often thought if I were stranded on an island, and I could eat only one food, it would be spaghettios. Of course, that is silly – I would need doritos, cheetos, and fritos to get a full compement of orangy goodness.
        Anyway, Get the can opener, plop the spaghettios into a pot, put it on the stove, and turn the knob and the fire would start. Back than, being immature in my culinary appreciation, I am sure I overcooked the spaghettios. Now, or course, nothing but al dente spaghettios for me…
        And sometimes, when my stepfather got some overtime at his minimum wage job, there was spaghettios with meatballs!

      2. just_kate

        my parents did the same thing starting when i was about 8 and my brother was 10. we lived overseas for a few years next to an italian farmer who shot at us (well over our heads im sure) with a pellet gun for taking short cuts through his property to the candy store all while cursing up a storm. we camped all over europe and the east coast and were always told to go scope things out by ourselves for a few hours while they set up camp. oh – and the backward facing jump seat in the old station wagons was for fighting over. good times that were great for ones imagination.

  16. jfleni

    RE: Comcast Demands An Explanation Before Agreeing To Cancel Your Account

    Time to reach for the f-words and all other possible foul language you can use. Arguments with these clowns usually goes nowhere. But trading obscenities will often do the trick.

    Don’t forget threats/promises to complain in writing specifacllly to the right places too, although that is much less effective than foul language.

    1. jrs

      Yes that’s what a lot of less polite people would do. The person trying to cancel is using acutally using good communication and assertion techniques though (broken record etc.) – but on an employee trained not to pass a Turing test.

  17. psychohistorian

    Do any besides me see the significance of the BRICS setting up an alternative to the IMF and World Bank?

    If this is not a gauntlet throw down to the existing world financial system (and social organization) I don’t know what is. The Bloomberg article made it sound like a silly idea which to me is a tell that it is rocking America’s Gawd of Mammon boat.

    It is no longer a question of if the US Reserve Currency status is in danger but when it will be officially removed from that position. And maybe along the way Israel will be forced to stop their genocide of revenge. One can only hope. America, which has fallen away from the road of honor no longer deserves to hold any reigns of power.

    1. abynormal

      Indeed, but…(interesting timeline at link)

      “In retrospect, the period of large-scale IMF lending that followed Mexico’s crisis may be viewed as facilitating the transition of many emerging economies from a point where they held too few reserves to navigate periods of financial volatility to a point where most emerging economies held more reserves than they needed.

      During the turbulent period between 1995 and 2003, the size of IMF lending was striking. By 2005, though, the size of even the largest IMF loans seemed fairly small relative to the reserves of the typical emerging economies.

      For all the criticisms leveled at the IMF, most emerging markets concluded that they needed to hold far more reserves than the IMF was ever willing to make available.”

    2. fresno dan

      and long overdue. And better for our country, even though it is “bad” for our banks (by the banks reckoning)
      What is good for Goldman Sachs is not good for America.

  18. Carolinian

    Bees/honey. For those who want to know more about this problem there’s an excellent recent documentary called More Than Honey. It may be available in local library (it is in mine).

    1. toldjsa

      But, but the bees MUST die, to justify sole-source provision of those privately-owned robotic bees on which a .01%DNA grandchild has a monopoly!

    2. optimader

      I agree, excellent documentary. I also took it out at my library (free). The takeaway is that in addition to the chemical poisoning that occurs due to the necessity of fumigating intense monoculture fruit orchards, the (European) honeybees have been bred to point of genetic fragility that requires human stewards to maintain their existence. Not a good long term strategy?
      Enter stage right, more genetically robust wild honey bees. Ultimately how effectively they can be bred/ organized to work w/the huge orchard model that fruit growing has matured to seems to be an unresolved issue (at least as presented at the end of the documentary).

      April 1, 2014 at 10:24 pm
      More Than Honey (2012)
      95 min – Documentary – 8 November 2012 (Germany)

  19. Banger

    Buddhist economics are just pragmatic economics. Few people can sensible say that the ideal of life is to consume mass-quantities of goods just because that is the highest possible goal of mankind–though that is precisely what the corporate propagandists make out life to be. But they do so strictly for political control. Their view is that the highest aspiration of human beings is power over others and the environment–the sense that if I will it it to rain it will rain, if I want a hundred naked virgins in my bedroom they will be there and so on.

    The issue of the ends (goals) of the political economy is one all parts of the social spectrum, other than those that actually practice spirituality beyond the prisons of most organized religions, ignore. It is simply assumed that mass quantities of goods in itself will produce a convivial society and that is objectively utterly false as can be seen from the actual conditions in a country like the United States which prides itself on its radical materialism. This is why I have so much problem with progressives and liberals–they have no unitary vision at all because they will not look at what the primary goals of life should or could be. Schumacher addressed those issues clearly.

    While the materialist is mainly interested in goods, the Buddhist is mainly interested in liberation. But Buddhism is “The Middle Way” and therefore in no way antagonistic to physical well-being. It is not wealth that stands in the way of liberation but the attachment to wealth; not the enjoyment of pleasurable things but the craving for them. The keynote of Buddhist economics, therefore, is simplicity and non-violence. From an economist’s point of view, the marvel of the Buddhist way of life is the utter rationality of its pattern — amazingly small means leading to extraordinarily satisfactory results.

    What has actually happened in the West is the development of a ruling elite that has chose to try to make life as miserable as possible for most people so that they can reach for the pharmaceutical, the escapist entertainment the fake life of being a sports fan or be immersed in porn and other manufactured fantasies or illusion of status that comes from buying a car that appears to win status points and thus sexual partners and so on. The ruling elite use and try to encourage the lowest parts of our nature–the closer to reptilian the better in order to create a world population of some combination of Lotus Eaters, denizens of Pleasure Island (donkey ears and all) and to violate every principle of the old wisdom tales called “fairy tales.” We are taught that greed is good or at least better than compassion (which is for rubes and suckers) and these values are displayed even in very well meaning and naturally compassionate people who feel duty bound and almost embarrassed that they feel compassionate. Indeed these kinds of people are patted on the back sometimes and then kicked to the side in favor of the MBA live-by-spreadsheet empty suit or the shark lawyer, or the show-biz MSM editor or writer who uses language to disguise and distort reality to bring us a false and carefully manipulated picture of the world–their reward is large salaries and high status which provides nice doses of serotonin to mask the emptiness of their hearts.

    We must, as I have said many times, articulate what our goal is. Do we want endless “growth” (groaf) or do we want to create a world that rewards and celebrates are more creative and powerful capabilities that human brains through a developed neo-cortex are capable of–or are we going to continue what should be, by now, the obvious descent into devolution and enthronement of machine intelligence?

    1. toldjsa

      Escape to Nirvana as the end-goal don’t cut it. Please test your bearings on the putsch for “Buddhist” utopias in the book/film: “The Jew In the Lotus” and comprehend the politics of “resources” of Hollywood in Tibet. It remains that living “the Good Life” extolled by Jesus, SaulBecomePaul, Ghandi, Whitman, and virtually all who reached the level of “Cosmic Consciousness” (Richard Maurice Bucke, M.D.) that brought them back to the ground of Earth and her People with love in their hearts, is the antithesis of the FakeFreeTrade Merchant Religion of Capital Accumulation and Luxury Consumerism of the ambitious “Leisure Class” (Veblen). Why did Imelda Marcos NEED hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of designer shoes, but to Feed the Void?

      1. Banger

        Nirvana is no an “escape” but is an affirmation of life and our connection to the world and other people. That state shows us that our concept of ourselves as separate entities is an illusion and that boundaries are not real but, and here is what Westerners who have not studied Buddhism through a living tradition miss, that non-attachment to boundaries does not mean boundaries don’t exist or are not useful or that you cannot live in the world. It is very rare that people who have achieved inner peace stop interacting with others or being very creative.

    2. wbgonne

      We have a sick, empty culture that we mask with consumption and medication. We are devolving into brutes who will soon be living lives that are nasty and short. Until we begin to examine ourselves we will not progress. I just read about a study showing that people would rather receive electric shocks than sit quietly with their own thoughts. Think about that for a long moment. Because that just about sums up why we have such a dysfunctional society.

  20. fresno dan

    Obama administration says the world’s servers are ours ars technica (Howard Beale IV)
    Great article. Pretty apparent that for some time the US government simply gives no credence to, “the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” i.e., that it is an advertising slogan, not meant to be taken seriously.
    However, this is ‘unintentionally’ hilarious:
    “The Justice Department said global jurisdiction is necessary in an age when “electronic communications are used extensively by criminals of all types in the United States and abroad, from fraudsters to hackers to drug dealers, in furtherance of violations of US law.”
    Leaving out bankers is telling. Oh, you say “fraudsters” covers all the fraudulent activity committed by the finance industry???? So…..where are all the investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of bankers???

    With apologies to Sinclair Lewis – it is hard to get an investigator to investigate when the investigators career advancement depends on supervisors who are overseen by politicians who are bribed by the people who should be investigated….

    1. hunkerdown

      Upton Sinclair. Sinclair Lewis was the “It Can’t Happen Here” guy that sank Father Coughlin and Huey Long but didn’t hurt Rush Limbaugh and his patrons all that much.

      1. fresno dan

        Thanks!!!! This is what happens when you get old and your brains turn to Swiss cheese…..

  21. fresno dan

    American reporting based on the study in the G&M did not start until 18 days later, when an article in U.S. News & World Report picked it up (Canadians are right: no one in the U.S. is paying attention to them). Moreover, no one picked up on the much better data in the Credit Suisse report until later in the day, when Dylan Matthews at Wonkblog wrote a great story on it (there are many high-quality comments, too). It turns out that lots of OECD countries, including economic basket cases Italy, Spain, and Ireland, have higher median wealth than we do. See the chart below:

  22. David Petraitis

    Re: All your Server are Ours

    The laws of the United States go beyond the borders of the United States whenever we want them to – if you have something “we” want. E.g. money, information, etc.

    On the other hand the laws of the United States DO NOT go beyond the borders of the United States whenever “we” have something you want – e.g. civil rights, trail by a jury of your peers, habeus corpus. In that case “we” can assassinate by drone, render without charges, torture with impunity.

    This is just rule of the strong on a global scale. RIP democracy and Bill of Rights.

  23. Insanity Defense

    Good article in Jadaliyya, with a couple caveats.

    1. They say occupation law and self-defense are “distinguished from the peacetime legal regime regulated by human rights law.”

    USG lawyers take that reductive notion and run with it to assert that the US when on the rampage is subject only to International Humanitarian Law. But IHL defines the crime of persecution as intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights. In the established framework of international law it’s a war crime to abolish, suspend or declare inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party. International tribunals are required to interpret international humanitarian law consistent with human rights, and judges of tribunals are chosen for their knowledge of human rights.
    Human rights don’t go away when violence starts. That’s US/Israeli impunity propaganda. In peacetime, human rights derogations for foreign nationals are wrongful acts; in wartime they are crimes.

    2. “They [UNSC resolutions 1368 and 1373] affirm that those terrorist acts amount to threats to international peace and security and therefore trigger Article 51 of the UN Charter permitting the use of force in self-defense.”

    Not true. The resolutions cite the right of self-defense in the preamble but they do not authorize use of force in self-defense. The UNSC remains seized, meaning nobody makes a move without their say so. Directing implementation of terrorist conventions actually entails dispute resolution, not war. See for yourself.

    Great conclusion about the Red Queen shit the US and its satellites try to pull. They’re not crazy, they’re trying to make hash of the law.

  24. Hinckley, Bobbitt & Pound

    Banger 12:06, shh, don’t tell the Israelis there’s so such thing as law, they’re scared shitless of it. It’s their “most dangerous issue,” international criminal law.

    Don’t tell the USG either, they’re also terrified of it. They backed down from war in Libya in 1992 to avoid a trial in the World Court, and they paid off their arch-enemy to settle and avoid judgment in the Case Concerning Oil Platforms. The US government begged little teeny countries to vote against a legal definition for the crime of aggression. The USG went apeshit at the mere mention of the legal term impunity and submitted 700 amendments to squeeze it out of a UN report.

    Think Putin scared Obama away from Syria with his rusty old warships? It couldn’t be his invocation of aggression and the UN Charter, backed by world opinion… Could it? That stuff’s not for real!

    “Realism” is US Juche. Outside the Beltway it died with Morgenthau, who despaired of it himself at the end.

  25. MtnLife

    Will this be the solution to a renewable energy grid?

    USC Scientists Create New Battery That’s Cheap, Clean, Rechargeable… and Organic

    Money quote: “These are the types of molecules that nature uses for energy transfer,” Narayan said.

    How did we not look here first? Human arrogance? Nature tends to be brutally efficient.
    The only downside: Currently, the quinones needed for the batteries are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons. In the future, the potential exists to derive them from carbon dioxide

      1. MtnLife

        Very cool. I know someone who was looking for something like this too. I’d love to see side by side energy/performance profiles of the two types. This new one seems like it might be a bit more adaptable but I like the ‘right now’ availability of the other.

  26. Jim Haygood

    Journalist arrested at internal Border Patrol checkpoint:

    McALLEN, Tex. — Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented Filipino immigrant who is arguably the most high-profile leader of the immigrants’ rights movement, was detained Tuesday morning at a Border Patrol checkpoint in the airport here before he could board a flight to Houston.

    Mr. Vargas, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, came last week to McAllen, a city just a few miles north of the border with Mexico, for a news conference. He did not realize until he was here that he would have to cross through a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint to leave the Rio Grande Valley. Mr. Vargas travels on a valid Philippine passport, but it has no current United States visa in it.

    Because of McAllen’s proximity to the border, all airports and roadways in this region have Border Patrol checkpoints.


    Vargas’s arrest highlights that from any city within a hundred miles of the border, you may have to cross a Customs checkpoint to be admitted to the interior of the U.S., even though you didn’t leave the country.

    Any resemblance to apartheid South Africa’s pass laws is purely coincidental. It’s a free country, you know …

    1. toldjaso

      Because Homeland Security has taken possession of that 100-mile “border territory” of the continental U.S. You wonder how they did that? This is a DeepState story for sure. Just who/what IS “Homeland Security”? Do you get the feeling this is more for keeping the People in, rather than out? Now, why would that be? What does History show?

      1. jrs

        Yes I often get that feeling. That’s why I warn those who are worried about government overreach that making a wall (the Berlin) of the border is not a good idea … but I think we’re already there. It’s not reported on all that much though. And the “immigration reform” bill actually further militarizes the border (while allowing in much more skilled workers). It’s really a neoliberal totalitarian’s wish list (and of course those two go together now, the whole world …).

    2. optimader

      Curious Jim
      In your opinion should the US have any border/customs/immigration control or should foreign nationals be allowed free ingress/egress?

  27. bob

    As someone who comes across these checkpoints up north often, 100 miles is a lot of jurisdiction. Awhile ago someone did the math and found that something like over 80% is the population of the US lives within “100 miles of the border”, which includes maritime borders.

    Another note is the border patrol loves hiring ex MP’s. Something about their attitude rings right with them. The few I’ve been able to start a conversation with agree. MP to BP. Most take the tone of “answer only the questions I ask and keep your eyes forward, no talking or movement of any sort. Pretend the massive German Sheppard barking and growling at your car is not there.”

  28. Hinckley, Bobbitt & Pound

    No wait, it wasn’t Oil Platforms, it was Aerial Incident of 3 July 1988

  29. ChrisPacific

    I can’t follow the Pando links due to a security policy setting on my network. Looking at Wikipedia, this is probably because that domain was recently the home page for a file-sharing app that was subsequently hijacked as a malware delivery platform.

    The new site seems to have little or nothing to do with the old one, but why they chose to set up under a domain that has likely been blacklisted by many ISPs based on the previous owner is a mystery to me. It’s a pity as there seems to be some good content there judging from the headlines.

  30. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Opinion: Provocation and violence DW

    The first paragraph from the article: (emphasis mine)

    “The world is looking on in disbelief at developments in Israel, where a new round of violence is unfolding that has cost nearly 200 people their lives and maimed more than 1,000. European and American politicians broadly agree that Hamas is at fault for the escalation. The group provoked Israelis for so long with its rocket attacks that there was nothing left to do but strike back. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is among those who take this view and has condemned attacks on Israeli towns.”

    Nowhere in this article does it say that ALL the dead and “maimed,” every single one, were Palestinian. I read it several times, to be sure. Nowhere did it say that ALL the destruction was in Palestine. Nowhere did it say that some israelis were so unconcerned, that they brought their lawn chairs to a hillside to cheer the death and destruction of the “subhuman” Palestinians.

    And so I wondered what “DW” was. Deutsche Welle. No clue. So I followed a few links. From the DW “mission statement”:

    “We communicate the values of a liberal democracy and support respect for human rights.

    We report independently, comprehensively, truthfully and on a pluralistic basis.”

    “Mission” accomplished, DW.

    1. abynormal

      “The worst of such stories is that the triumphant romancers can always be put to confusion and crushed by the very details in which real life is so rich and which these unhappy and involuntary story-tellers neglect as insignificant trifles. Oh, they have no thought to spare for such details, their minds are concentrated on their grand invention as a whole, and fancy any one daring to pull them up for a trifle! But that’s how they are caught.”…by the Katniss arrow/HT
      Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

    2. psychohsitorian

      Thank you for speaking truth to power.

      You continually do a good job of that here and I appreciate your insights.

  31. Paul Niemi

    It’s fun to read David Stockman. He writes with such a droll sarcasm. I remember him as OMB chief, saying the budget didn’t add up, and the Old Man taking him to the woodshed. In his new blog, he has been writing so much good stuff that I worry he will run out of material. Today he turns back to China and calls their foreign exchange regime “roach motel economics,” which is responsible for the controversial capital flight. I would point to one trillion plus yuan new credit created every month now as evidence that China is sinking under the wave of bad debt and the VIPs are smuggling assets out of the country any way they can.

    1. psychohsitorian

      Actually I believe it is China’s best interest to devoid itself of any and all US dollars in exchange for property and other tangible assets.

      Based on the BRICS creation of an alternative world banking system that is not based on the dollar, what do you expect their stated or unstated strategy to be?

      1. Paul Niemi

        If the BRICs can create an exchange where they can swap currencies and generate letters of credit for trading with each other, then bully for them. Now, why should or shouldn’t China get rid of its dollars? It is said to have $4 trillion in foreign reserves, of which $2 trillion is in U.S. dollars. They have used this money as the reserves for creating trillions in their own money. I’m going to conjecture that the lockbox said to contain the $2 trillion U.S. has been pilfered, and if the renminbi was allowed to float demand for the dollars would quickly reveal that. The money held in secret accounts offshore, as documented by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, had to come from somewhere, and it is in Western currency. Since a currency is essentially worth the value of the debts backing it, the renminbi could be expected to collapse in value against other currencies as the true financial situation is revealed. Also, if the reserves are not in place, the central bank is a zombie

        1. psychohistorian

          If I was a country and saw what the US was doing to the Reserve Currency dilution with the printing presses running since 2008 I would do everything I could to move to an alternative monetary base and offload the inflated US dollar into property and other tangible assets before the inevitable crash.

          I think the dust up over international finance will educate many about who the vampires and the zombies are around sovereign and private money…..if we live through vampires being called vampires and brought to “justice”.

  32. JM Hatch

    China’s money isn’t just buying up escape housing USA, but Canada, much of South England, France,

    I suspect that a lot of middle & upper middle managers in China have spotted a sinking ship, the degree to which water & land has been polluted will result in damage to China’s medical system that will make PPACA look good. The posturing in Asia is all part of preparing some cause to ignite nationalism when the crash come,so the anger can be directed externally. This bodes ill for nearly every sector but domestic manufacturing for domestic consumption.

  33. JM Hatch

    “Obama Sounds a Warning to Wall Street”

    So Obama wants to shake the bankers down for more -bribes- money again. He means it about as much as he meant to do anything on income inequality (other than his own income disparity when compared to the 0.01%). John Oliver’s got Obama’s style nearly nailed, just missing the corruption part.

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