Links 7/20/14

‘Earth-like’ soil spotted on Mars – and experts hail ‘real possibility’ there is STILL microbial life on the red planet Daily Mail

TRUSTEE BANKS SUED FOR $250 BILLION New Economic Perspectives

We’re in the third biggest stock bubble in U.S. history Marketwatch

The Fed’s Financial Repression At Work: How Big Blue Was Turned Into A Wall Street Slush Fund David Stockman

Corporations as Aggregates? The Conglomerate. Out-of-box thoughts on Hobby Lobby.

The rise of data and the death of politics Guardian

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Ars editor learns feds have his old IP addresses, full credit card numbers Ars Technica (Howard Beale IV)

Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans John Napier Tye, WaPo

I am coming forward because I think Americans deserve an honest answer to the simple question: What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?

What Corporate Media and Corporate Latino Politicians Won’t Tell You About Central American Child Refugees BAR

Elizabeth Warren for president? Dana Milbank, WaPo

Obama Shifts to Urge Private Investment in Roads, Bridges Businessweek

A fracking problem for Dems The Hill. Nope. A Dem problem for Dems.


What ails Ukraine? Indian Punchline

Pushing Ukraine to the Brink Counterpunch (bwilli123). Fun read from July 9. Because it would be irresponsible not to speculate:

[A]ll Putin has to do is sit-tight and he wins, mainly because the EU needs Moscow’s gas. If energy supplies are terminated or drastically reduced, prices will rise, the EU will slide back into recession, and Washington will take the blame. So Washington has a very small window to draw Putin into the fray, which is why we should expect another false flag incident on a much larger scale than the fire in Odessa. Washington is going to have to do something really big and make it look like it was Moscow’s doing. Otherwise, their pivot plan is going to hit a brick wall.

Then again, we could be looking at opportunists taking advantage of a happy accident! That said, it does make one wonder whether the Dutch being self-sufficient in gas could have formed part of the realpolitik….

After MH17, France Must Cancel Sale of Warships to Russia The Diplomat. Reminds me of how the Reşadiye and Sultân Osmân-ı Evvel became HMS Erin and HMS Agincourt in World War I.


Israel mows the lawn LRB


Islamic State overwhelms Iraqi forces at Tikrit in major defeat McClatchy. Saddam was born and buried in Tikrit. You’d expect Sunni forces to win there.

Biggest bank robbery that ‘never happened’ – $400m Isis heist FT. Source? Chalabi. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

Junta issues order to gag media’s criticisms The Nation. Bringing happiness to the people.

Troubled waters: the Mekong River crisis FT

Class Warfare

Chevron running slick campaign to control Richmond SFGate

Part time work and Obamacare: Why some Americans hate the Democrats right now The Confluence

HOW WILL CAPITALISM END? New Left Review. Not with a bang but a whimper.

Cheap at sea, pricey on the plate: The voodoo of lobster economics Globe and Mail (Fresno Dan).

The future of work Mathbabe. Emotional labor.

Carlos Slim calls for a three-day working week FT

Is Choosing to Believe in Economic Models a Rational Expected-Utility Decision Theory Thing? Brad DeLong. No. It’s an “academic choice theory” thing.

Macroeconomic textbooks ripe for composting Bill Mitchell. Manky Mankiw.

The techno-libertarians of Silicon Valley should think twice about aligning with climate deniers Pando Daily

The free market is an impossible utopia WaPo

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Dikaios Logos

    If you want to read a financial horror story, this humdinger in The Independent about a series of complex derivative deals Goldman and Nomura sold to the Portuguese government company Metro do Porto fits the bill. The hole from these gets very deep very quickly. A very complicated formula is included at the end.

    1. abynormal

      “Imagine the look on the subwaymen’s faces when the two banks said they would only cancel the supposedly identical components of the two bets, in return for €26m to reflect the difference in their valuations of these identical parts. €26m! And this on top of the losses the group was suffering from the other bets with Goldman and Nomura.” Dagger Twisting!

      wrong question: “Which begs the question: is this really how we want our financial industry to behave?”
      why not ask: We finally located WMDs…How do dispose of them without loss of life/generation(s)?

    2. abynormal

      there they are: “Carlos Manuel Félix Moedas (born August 10, 1970) is a Portuguese engineer, economist, banker and politician. He is currently the Secretary of State to the Prime Minister of Portugal. In this position Moedas oversees ESAME, the agency created to monitor and control the implementation of the structural reforms agreed in the context of the assistance programme by a troika composed of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

      In 2000 Moedas obtained an MBA from Harvard Business School.[1] He subsequently returned to Europe, where he worked in mergers and acquisitions in *Goldman Sachs.”

      1. James Levy

        Questions: 1) is this where the CIA puts all these guys on the payroll? 2) if not, then why do they drink the Koolaid, even though it is poison to the countries that gave them birth? 3) does anyone come out of Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, et al. any more who has any independent thoughts left in their head or the ability to critically analyze anything? 4) can we attribute this exclusively to self-selection bias (i.e. if you want to go there, you are already ethically lost)?

        I understand that these institutions are partially in the indoctrination business, but that doesn’t mean all these super high achieving bright people from all over the planet have to allow themselves to be indoctrinated. By the time you are old enough to attend the Harvard Business School you are old enough to discern the difference between factual information and system-serving propaganda. I understand on one level from reading The Power Elite how this works, but the seemingly uniform success of the process still bewilders me.

        1. toldjaso

          You must realize that it’s an error to go there, before you step into the trap. Some have done this.

          1. toldjaso

            That is, you must realize at the interview stage that there’s something very wrong with these people, and you choose to forgo this crooked “elite” entrapment, kissing your “brilliant career” goodbye.

    1. Massinissa

      At this point I would vote for Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco or Salazar over Killary.

      I MIGHT vote for her over Augusto Pinochet, but the fact that I would need to think about whether I would vote for her over Pinochet is equally damning…

          1. Paul Tioxon

            NO, she is so much worse, she is the Devil. SATAN behold thy supplicants, neo-liberal economists and financiers, the arch-angels of annihilation of the fallen angel light.

            1. James Levy

              Yea, and Obama is a Kenyan Moslem Marxist. Can’t it just be that Hilary would be a rotten president and leave it at that?

              1. toldjaso

                No, because we know she means to COLLECT on the contract made with her, and she’s mean as hell, and furious. Besides, you know whose baby she is, dontcha?

                Who said something like:
                “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”?
                Lady Macbeth is out for blood on her own hook, and she knows where bodies are buried. Maybe the Designer “CastroCancer” awaits her misbehavior is she is not “elected” this time round. SaddamH was a “good soldier” wasn’t he?

                1. Carla

                  I can’t stand Hillary. Never could. Nor Bill.

                  Nevertheless, your comments are incredibly sexist and offensive. And I really don’t give a damn what your gender may be.

                  The fact that people get exercised over who may or may not be the “Democratic” candidate for president just shows how utterly F**CKed we are as a nation.

              2. Paul Tioxon

                No, Obama is a Secret Moozlimm. He is an avowed Kenya style Anti-colonialist Marxist, of the Dependency Theory School of Thought, with Maoist Tendencies. And Hillary will be worse than Ghengis Khan, Attila The Hun and Tamerlane, all put together.

    2. Lexington

      Elizabeth Warren isn’t running, and even if she did she can’t win because the party establishment will back Hillary.

      If she tried to run against the wishes of the party establishment they will destroy her the way they destroyed John Edwards and Howard Dean – by taking some absolutely trivial detail about her and having their allies in the MSM inflate it into a major character flaw that raises serious questions about her suitability to hold high public office. Then the MSM will flog the story incessantly until Hillary has wrapped up the nomination.

      Of course all this is strictly speaking unnecessary, since party insiders who are automatically seated as “superdelegates” at the Democratic national convention have a de facto veto on the nomination, but exercising that option would make it plain that the nomination process is actually controlled by the party establishment and destroy the illusion that ordinary party members have any real say in who the nominee will be.

      1. Carla

        John Edwards is completely responsible for his own destruction. Howard Dean, not so much.

  2. diptherio

    RE: Meet Executive Order 12333 ~WaPo

    When I started at the State Department, I took an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States. I don’t believe that there is any valid interpretation of the Fourth Amendment that could permit the government to collect and store a large portion of U.S. citizens’ online communications, without any court or congressional oversight, and without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Such a legal regime risks abuse in the long run, regardless of whether one trusts the individuals in office at a particular moment.

    Here’s the more direct version: every person involved with mass surveillance has violated their oath of office. Got it? Good….

    1. Banger

      Well, we live in an era where oaths and morality really don’t exist. Such an oath is unenforceable and therefore null and void–why? Because the Constitutions is no longer in force–it is an empty document that is often referred to but seldom followed since 9/11. Since thew we are in a new dispensation–rule by force not law. Law is a way to apply force to the less powerful–now there is some Justice left in the Justice system and good people in it–but that movement is winding down but when Justice meets power then Justice mainly loses.

      1. diptherio

        Strange (and depressing) to think that I take the Boy Scout oath more seriously than our elected representatives take their oath of office.

      2. MtnLife

        One of my favorite maxims: Power only takes a backseat to more power. This rings true whether you are speaking of economic power, military power, or political power. It sort of goes hand in hand with the thought that those in power rarely give it up without a fight unless facing an overwhelming force.

      3. Jackrabbit

        Well, we live in an era where oaths and morality really don’t exist.

        In the context of your libertarian views, sweeping generalities like this seem designed to further an agenda. Rather than demoralizing resistance and dissuading protest, why not point to the many ways that people are working together (coops, specific protests, movements like ‘move to amend’, etc.)?

        While you may be ready and willing to welcome a neofeudal future, its difficult to see such a future as anything but a step back for humanity. And its not as ‘inevitable’ as you make it out to be.

        H O P

        1. William

          I’m certainly no libertarian, but Banger’s words have a lot of truth as a description of our current times. Libertarian politics are foolish and naive, but that doesnt preclude the truth that the law nowadays serves to oppress the 99% and enhance the fortunes of the 1%. Yes, oaths and the constitution are given merely lip service by The Powers.

          1. Jackrabbit

            I wholeheartedly agree. And if Banger had said:

            “oaths and the constitution are given merely lip service by The Powers” That Be (TPTB)

            then I would not have objected. But he didn’t say that. As I noted, what he said was a broad statement that makes it seem like NO ONE believes in oaths or morality anymore. Everything is false – run for the hills! Or, to the safety of your local oligarch.

            I agree with Banger on a number of issues – including the sorry state that we are in today culturally and politically. But I find his view on society and the future to be fatalistic, defeatist, and solicitous to TPTB. Largely, I think our views differ because he doesn’t think Americans can or will effectively challenge TPTB, whereas I am in the camp that believes that they will as they become more disillusioned. The corruption and can kicking is just too much to bear. For how long can QE and propaganda keep the wheels from coming off this jalopy?

            H O P

            1. hunkerdown

              It does not follow that, because Americans will become more disillusioned, that they will *effectively* challenge TPTB by engaging with it, nor that they will make enduring gains.

              Frankly, I can’t see the benefit of agreeing to the rule of the incompetent/malicious, no matter what law they’re standing behind. You trust the system far too much.

              1. Jackrabbit

                ‘The system’ is driving us into a ditch. I TRUST that it will do so because it already has. We are living on borrowed time as nothing is ‘fixed’ and more cans have been kicked. Then what? Turn to the oligarchs that benefited from running the system into the ground?


                > I didn’t say that it ‘followed’ like some article of faith.

                > “incompetent/malicious”? is that what you think of anyone that is not ‘establishment’?

                1. hunkerdown

                  Bwah? No, the SYSTEM is incompetent/malicious (whichever side(s) of Hanlon’s Razor they actually play). Participation in that system is tantamount to ratification of the system. When you vote, you are ratifying the result, even if it’s not one you voted for, and you further ratify majoritarianism. Even if that system is engineered and staffed precisely to prevent the result you seek.

                  I apologize for misinterpreting your earlier remarks about move-to-amend etc. Due to local confounding stimuli at the time, I tawt I taw a Tinkerbell asking us to Believe in the System. Turns out it was a case of bad ID.

                  As far as I’m concerned, the only fit place for any oligarchs or their accessories is atop lamp posts.

      4. toldjaso

        See piece this afternoon at re Congressman who was “Absolutely Shocked” at what he read anent 9/ll but was FORBIDDEN to relate in speech. How can it be lawful for the Executive Branch to MUZZLE the Legislative Branch under the Constitution? Why has this never been asked for decades?

        1. hunkerdown

          The Espionage Act of 1917 was duly enacted, was it not? Of course, checks and balances are a sham when the same social caste runs everything.

    2. James Levy

      Perhaps the Republican House can retroactively impeach Reagan for promulgating an Executive Order than flaunted the Constitutional power of the Legislature to legislate? And since when does an Executive Order have the power to nullify statute law?

      Oh, it’s OK when no one is informed about what the Executive Order is and everyone is too scared to stand up to a popular president. I get it. Executive Orders are tyranny when an unpopular black guys issues them but totally fine when a popular white Republican issues them even though they are prima facia unconstitutional. This country is so screwed it’s unbelievable.

      And no, I’m not defending Obama, simply pointing out how idiotic and hypocritical the whole damned system is. At least when I was growing up (born 1965) you didn’t have the feeling that everyone in Washington was making the governance system of this nation up as they were going along. One had the semblance of boundaries.

        1. toldjaso

          jg half-truth (what can we expect, does writer want to live?)
          Director Peter Weir:
          “The Year of Living Dangerously” (1982) re coup in Jakarta
          “The Truman Show” (1998)
          “Gallipoli” (early film)

    3. toldjaso

      Then ask yourself also if free-floating “Executive Orders” can possibly be “the Law” in the United and Several States, the “Law of the Land”, ask if they can conceivably be permissible under The Constitution of the United States.

  3. Brindle

    re: “Pushing Ukraine To The Brink”

    Obama as Mad Max:

    “This is the new anarchic “Mad Max” template Washington is applying wherever it intervenes. The intention is to dissolve the nation-state in order to remove any obstacle to resource extraction, which is why failed states are popping up wherever the US sticks its big nose. It’s all by design. Chaos is the objective. Simply put: It’s easier to steal whatever one wants when there’s no center of power to resist.”

    Neocons (including Obama & both Clintons) desire a Russia of the Yeltsin era, a feckless nation-state ripe for the slicing-dicing enrichment of US based corporations.

    1. David Lentini

      These guys and gals are just in thrall with the “Great Game” the European powers played in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. For them, life is just one big game of Risk and Diplomacy. For the rest of us, as I noted the other day, we’re just collateral damage in a sacrifice zone.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      Robert Parry at Consortium News:

      Regarding the shoot-down of the Malaysian jetliner on Thursday, I’m told that some CIA analysts cite U.S. satellite reconnaissance photos suggesting that the anti-aircraft missile that brought down Flight 17 was fired by Ukrainian troops from a government battery, not by ethnic Russian rebels who have been resisting the regime in Kiev since elected President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown on Feb. 22.

      According to a source briefed on the tentative findings, the soldiers manning the battery appeared to be wearing Ukrainian uniforms and may have been drinking, since what looked like beer bottles were scattered around the site. But the source added that the information was still incomplete and the analysts did not rule out the possibility of rebel responsibility.

      A contrary emphasis has been given to the Washington Post and other mainstream U.S. outlets. On Saturday, the Post reported that “on Friday, U.S. officials said a preliminary intelligence assessment indicated the airliner was blown up by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by the separatists.” But the objectivity of the Obama administration, which has staunchly supported the coup regime, is in question as are the precise reasons for its judgments.

      Parry frequently comments and occasionally posts under the nom de plume “The Twisted Genius” at Col. Pat Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis. In a post there pointing to his Consortium News article he pleads for some influential poobahs to come forward and give these nameless analysts some cover in hopes of stopping this train.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        The Consortium News article is excellent, unemotional and balanced.

        Unfortunately, the regular cast of characters on the Sunday morning shows (including the always level-headed Mike Rogers, who will soon be bringing his contemplative analysis of all things military to the radio on a regular basis) doesn’t seem to have read it.

    3. diptherio

      Here’s the call to action bit:

      As long as US meddling persists, there’s going to be social unrest, division, and war. It’s that simple. So the goal should be to undermine Washington’s ability to conduct these destabilizing operations and force US policymakers to mind their own freaking business. That means there should be a concerted effort to abandon the dollar, ditch US Treasuries, jettison the petrodollar system, and force the US to become a responsible citizen that complies with International law.

      I’ll suggest, for the umpteenth time, that tax-resistance is a relatively easy and low-risk way for those of us in the US to “undermine Washington’s ability to conduct these destabilizing operations.” We’re obviously can’t abandon the dollar or ditch treasuries, but we still have an ethical obligation to do something (imho).

      It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen, mainly because everyone is sick and tired of all the troublemaking.

      Let’s hope….

      1. abynormal

        imho, we’ve turned too many corners for tax-resistance to make a dent. stealth tax is everywhere now…we can’t avoid it or stop breathing/drinking water (basic necessities).

        nothing will work until we slice n dice the Financial Industries from Politics. look at how many countries political theaters are steamrolled with GS alumni. i use to say “Let’s Hope” until i realized most of the folks i talk to still think politics trumps financials. simply put, we got the cart before the horses…

        our corrupt broken financial system will dictate co-ops…no law or legislature will afford to protect the concept

        …still my humble opinion

        1. abynormal

          and when someone tells me we need these financial conglomerates to handle the global trade economy, i puke! greece clearly presents the outcome for our place in the global economy…bring something into a store or designated booth and walk out with something. heck, bring in an apple pie and walk out with a pair of shoes! the vampire squids or koch empire may outlaw it but it only proves the necessity we’re living and the failure they’re streaming.

          1. toldjaso

            Are pawnbrokers manning those booths?
            Director Sidney Lumet:
            “The Pawnbroker” (1965)
            “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975)
            “NETWORK” (1976)
            “The Verdict” (1982)
            “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (MMVIII).

    1. abynormal

      AutoNation’s Jackson warns of excessive inventory levels in 2014
      “He said retail inventory is about 3.5 million units, or about $100 billion worth of goods, which is more like a 90- to 120-day supply instead of the industry-accepted 60-day supply. Jackson criticized the 60-day inventory figure, saying it includes fleet sales.”

      to break even, they’ll have to steal if from the common man… Again

  4. Jim Haygood

    Lede from an NYT article about the subprime bubble in used cars:

    Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan.

    “I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.


    LOL. Kinda like ending up married and observing, ‘I am not sure how I got this spouse.’

    1. Carolinian

      Oh c’mon….it’s not like that at all. A lot of poor people are financially unsophisticated and often do things out of desperate need. Sounds like you are blaming the victim.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Wasn’t intending to blame the victim; his remark just struck me as funny.

        But when it comes to the couple living in a Bronx homeless shelter, spending more on a $19,000 car loan than on food, I might be inclined to say that’s just willful foolishness.

        ‘Car clowns,’ as blogger Mr Money Mustache calls ’em.

        1. cwaltz

          It’s hard to tell. They may have hoped mobility would help them widen the region to improve their situation. I could see where if you had a crappy job that didn’t pay the bills that you might try to find something farther out. I would agree that $19,000 is a ridiculous sum though.

          I’m still trying to understand how these banks are being allowed to give out loans that greatly exceed the market value of the product or how they’re allowing a 2004 car loan to be termed out(is it a 2 year loan because I find it hard to believe that a 10 year old car would be allowed the 6 year term a new one would?) If the Blue book or NADA of a used car is a certain amount than the banks should not be allowed to give a loan to a dealer with 100% markup on that value. I’m also trying to figure out why we(I suspect I know why BANKS aren’t. And it does nothing to endear them to me.) aren’t suggesting a ceiling on amount a person should spend on transportation percentage wise. Half the country makes under $50,000 a year. One quarter of the country makes under $25,000. If you are making a little over $2,000 a month than a car payment is pretty cost prohibitive particularly when you consider you ALSO have to insure the vehicle. I told my older two kids they’d have to hoof it until they had money in the bank to buy the car outright plus money to deal with the associated costs(It took them a year and a half to save enough and find the “right car”. Right now, I’m encouraging the oldest to start socking away for a replacement since his income is reliant on him having transportation.) I can’t imagine how anyone with any financial sense, let alone the “expert status” a bank professional should rise to, tells someone who is a teacher’s aide it’s okay to take out an almost $30,000 loan for transportation costs? It’s fiscally irresponsible. And I’m pretty sure the banks know that someone making under $25,000 has no business paying $400+ a month for a car. Hell, the under $25,000 set probably shouldn’t be paying ANYTHING for a car because even without a payment you’re looking at $200 a month to maintain a vehicle when you consider insurance, gas, maintanance($500 a year) and tax costs WITHOUT a payment. That does leave the country in a dilemna though. What do you do when 25% of the country can’t afford to buy cars on credit any longer? I guess you do the same thing you do when 1 in 6 people can’t afford to pay food costs without support(and YES, I’d agree that food stamps were meant to be an adjunct, not the full amount spent on food.) Ignore the problem and hope it goes away./s

    2. Carla

      I thought that’s what all men said after winding up married. Surely, it is what almost all women say.

    3. hunkerdown

      And a society built out of more tricks and traps and tests every day is of what value to its members exactly, outside of social Darwinism (whose benefit is dubious)?

  5. Ulysses

    Important cautionary words from the WaPo article at the end of today”s links:
    “The great danger Polanyi alerts us to, however, is that mobilizing politics to protect against markets run wild is just as likely to be reactionary and conservative, as it is to be progressive and democratic. Whereas the American New Deal was Polanyi’s example of a democratic counter movement, fascism was the classic instance of a reactionary counter-movement; it provided protection to some while utterly destroying democratic institutions.”

    The transnational kleptocrats have no problem with fascist regimes that don’t challenge their economic power. Restoration of democracy, however, is fraught with unacceptable risks for the kleptocrats.

    The monied interests on both sides of the Atlantic weren’t too concerned with the rise of Mussolini and Hitler at first– after all they weren’t Bolsheviks! I fear that the instability of the coming years may lead us into some very dark places, while at the same time I recognize that continuation of the status quo is unacceptable, and that only dramatic changes can save humanity.

    1. David Lentini

      One slightly comforting thought is that many of the worst aspects of the Nazi were based on perversions of unique aspects of German culture and resentments that included not only the First World War and Weimar but the cultural dislocations created by capitalism. Fritz Stern’s The Politics of Cultural Despair is an excellent book on the latter. That leaves me more hopeful that the forces will be essentially democratic.

      1. Binky Bear

        I regret to inform you that on the contrary to the popular notion that Nazism was a peculiar failure of German character, the unfortunate fact is that the ideas that formed the basis of that state were derived directly from the United States through the same channels of industrial capitalism, international banking and the elevation of the individual capitalist to heroic proportions. Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh accepted medals from Hitler for their achievements; one flew to Paris and the other sponsored anti-Semitic propaganda and paternalist socialism for his workers. The melding of state and corporate power came from the United States because it could originate in no other state, where corporations were chartered by regents (e.g. Hudson’s Bay Company, Muscovy Company). It can’t happen here, though. (wink)

    2. toldjaso

      Almost right. Schiff and Warburg hedged CityCapital bets backing Bronstein/”Trotsky” et “Bolsheviks”.
      Juri Lina: “In the Shadow of Hermes” is today’s primer (primer, as in “See Spot Run”).

      1. susan the other

        Trotsky was taking art classes in the Bronx just before his call to duty. They shipped him out c. 1917 via Canada to Russia and the rest is history… sort of.

  6. YY

    Junta issues order to gag media’s criticisms -The Nation
    The article has zero indication of which junta which country, sort of interesting as if it applied to any country. Although my guess is Thailand, it would help if either The Nation or the Junta would advise to which citizens the rules apply. Oh I’m posting here as a facebook refusenik, gags me from posting on The Nation site. If anybody at The Nation is reading this, be advised there are at least 50% of the world population who have chosen or defaulted to not participate at all to facebook.

    1. diptherio

      Every time some app wants to use my facebook id to sign in, they also want to be able to read my feed, know everything about me, and post to my timeline…uh, no. There are lots of places I won’t comment for just this reason, I’m not willing to turn the keys to my social media accounts over to whoever is running the comment section.

      NC’s of course, is the best, and about as close to ideal as I’ve yet to find. Nested comments, quality commentary, and only the occasional dropped comment. Nothing is perfect, but this is the next best thing.

      1. Jim Haygood

        To make a comment on a Marketwatch article, I filled out their registration form.

        Then a reply email told me I had to send a photocopy of my drivers license to Dow Jones to prove my identity.

        … uh, f*ck no.

      2. cwaltz

        Why in the world would you post much to discern on Facebook to begin with? Seriously. I don’t have a single human being associated with my account. Heck, I don’t even have a hometown listed. I wish our corporate overlords lots of luck figuring me out with my feed. I did notice that AOHell won’t let me post comments without me “verifying” Facebook by giving them a phone number. Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen.

        1. Tiresias

          I don’t have a Facebook account and don’t even know what Facebook does as I’ve never been there in my digital life.

          But hey, the sun still rises on me.

          1. Propertius

            Likewise. I don’t Twit and I don’t FaceBorg. And I don’t miss either of them.

            1. Binky Bear

              Of course these facts are noted in your files and have escalated scrutiny due to failure to participate. Notable by their absence……

      1. hunkerdown

        I was going to ask what’s up with them flogging BuzzFeed in the right column. Must have been a code mixup.

        *clicks “LOL”*

  7. Banger

    Milbank’s take on Warren is interesting–in fact anything Milbank writes about is interesting since anything Milbank writes about reflects Washington insider opinion. He states that nothing Warren is doing appears to be about running for President–she’s taken no steps to do so, doesn’t act in any way as a candidate and, instead, keeps her head down and does her job.

    I agree with Dana that this reflects and accurate picture of Warren. She’s dutiful and focused but she understands something about power. First, that she has no power until she earns it. Milbank compares her to Obama. At this time in their relative careers Obama was in full campaign mode–he did not wait to acquire power–power acquired him–now Milbank didn’t say that, he can’t say such things and expect to earn the big-money but I will say that. Obama has very little power today because he had no power other than that granted to him by the oligarchs. If Warren is a student of power then she knows this and it is best to keep her head down even if she does have ambitions to be President.

    Here is my read on Warren: the ruling elite today are worried about our society–they don’t know what to do about it or the members of their cliques who don’t give a flying f-ck about anything like society (surprising numbers of them believe, with our Maggie Thatcher, that there is no such thing as society). But many and maybe even most members of the oligarchy believe that society is something worth preserving. I present to you the neoconservative movement as an example. In the ninteties many of them were not merely ambitious operatives who wanted power and to get laid a lot (Wolfowitz) but were concerned about the nihilistic, tribal, and hedonistic and amoral nature of popular culture (sex, drugs and rock n’ roll). The believed that human beings do need a purpose and the purpose they were willing to supply through their new Pearl Harbor was to be united in an Imperial cause. Differences of race, religion, class would be transcended, they reasoned through a common cause and purpose. Well that didn’t work out so well. In the end, it just made a lot of people rich and a lot of people poor and spilled a hell of a lot of blood–which is still spilling. No unity, no common cause, in fact there is a national revulsion towards the Imperial project, rightly.

    A permanently deadlocked Washington may not be in the interest of the oligarchy and no amount of NSA spying and massive prison camps can guarantee order, not in a country as well-armed as the U.S. Warren offers an opportunity to empower a reformer–if the oligarchy want, for pragmatic reasons, to reform the U.S. system–and it is increasingly obvious that we are turning into a kleptocracy and that causes societal degenerations–such that, at some point, new social and political institutions need to be built or the current ones radically re-organized. Not all oligarchs want feudalism and those that don’t only have one potential candidate to support and only one among all the bright lights (lol) in the Senate or the Governorships only Warren stands out as the real deal. Yes, I know many here don’t like her because she supports the degenerate foreign policy of the U.S. but she can’t attack everything–she has to leave FP to the Senate leadership while she puts her head down and goes to work. If and when the country decides it wants change it will not flock to Hilary Clinton–it will cry for Elizabeth Warren and Milbank’s column is a step in building the legend.

    1. toldjaso

      She’s still kicking isn’t she? (“First they try to corrupt you. If they can’t do that, they ruin you. If that doesn’t work, they kill you.” — this is a “political” truism, so long has it been true.)

      1. abynormal

        i’ll fill in for opti here: Dr. Jill Stein…her work is never done so she’d probably forfeit a library in her name (only)
        Dr. Jill Stein was born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park, Illinois. She is Jewish and her family attended Chicago’s North Shore Congregation Israel, a Reform synagogue.[12]

        In the 1970s, Stein studied psychology, sociology, and anthropology at Harvard University, earning her undergraduate degree. She attended Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1979.
        Since 1998, she has served on the boards of Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and help found the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities. Politically active, Dr. Stein also serves on the board of MassVoters for Fair Elections.[13] Dr. Stein founded and served as co-chair of a local recycling committee in Lexington that was approved by the Board of Selectmen. She also developed a “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” teaching program.[14]

        Dr. Stein has also co-authored two published reports on health and the environment, In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development (published in 2000) and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging (published in 2009).[15][16]
        Dr. Stein has testified before numerous legislative panels as well as local and state governmental bodies. She was active in the effort to get the Massachusetts fish advisories updated to better protect women and children from mercury contamination. She helped lead the successful campaign to clean up the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts, an effort that resulted in getting coal plant regulations signed into law. Her testimony on the effects of mercury and dioxin contamination from the burning of waste helped preserve the Massachusetts moratorium on new trash incinerator construction in the state.[14]

        In addition, Dr. Stein is an advocate for campaign finance reform. She worked to help pass the Clean Election Law (which later repealed by the Massachusetts Legislature on an unrecorded voice vote).

        Her environmental work has won her many awards, including Clean Water Action’s Not in Anyone’s Backyard Award, Children’s Health Hero Award, and the Toxic Action Center’s Citizen Award.

        1. toldjaso

          Yeah, but didn’t she “crap out” last cycle, making her look like a System Shill? Didn’t look good.

              1. toldjaso

                I promoted her decisively to important people, and I voted for her, but later saw her as a shill rather than as a “useful idiot”( because she’s so smart). As I studied her promo-sites and the videos at the end, I began to think I’d been snookered (making me the “useful idiot”), and gathered she was in it to keep the Big O in office.”Only the Shadow knows” why she did it. If you study the ticket, and the momentum from start to finish, you know it was kayfabe. She looked ashamed at the end, rather than defeated. I think she compromised her principles and integrity for some reason.
                Never again would I vote for her.

      2. Carla

        I’m with you on Stein, as in so many other things, STO. But the problems are systemic, and will not be addressed by any individual.

        I must disagree with Banger that the ruling elite are “worried about our society.” If that were the case, they sure the hell wouldn’t be turning off the water in Detroit. And water privatization is coming to a city or town near you.

        The irony, the tragedy of a major demonstration (NYT and WaPo said 300 people; I was there–there were easily over 1,000 and maybe more than 1,500) taking place at the very edge of 1/5 of the fresh water in the world, due to the city shutting off poor people’s water…you know, it was wonderful to be part of the most age, race, and income-diverse action I have ever joined. But I have to admit, it was also absolutely bizarre.

        But as the crowd chanted “What do we want? WATER! When do we want it? NOW!” what they should have been screaming is “What do we want? DEMOCRACY! When do we want it? NOW!”

        Here’s a link to the most accurate reporting I have found about Friday’s action in Detroit:

        1. cwaltz

          I’m sure the ruling class is no more homogenuous than the rest of us. There are probably those within the class that are worried about shitting where they sleep and others that figure they’ll find a new and better area to bed down if they do.

          I don’t think ALL of the rich are irresponsible assholes, I’m sure SOME of them are well meaning if a little bit clueless about what it takes to survive in this country if you start from nothing(and I’d add that some of survival and thriving is about luck, timing and the ability to adapt moreso than education,skill, or even hard work.) I do think most of them are arrogant. That’s why they spend a good time figuring out how to “fix” poor people instead of “fixing” society. The difference between a Noelle Bush, Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh and a good deal of people occupying our prison system is a financial and social safety net, not some sort of superior set of personal habits. Yet, over and over again we’ll hear how the poor are poor because they lack discipline or have bad personal habits. It never occurs to anyone to ask if that is true than why aren’t people like Cheney, who appears to have some drinking problems, or Limbaugh, who had some drug issues, broke assholes?

          1. toldjaso

            This used to be true, but no longer. American “elites” have been converted to DeepHardcore brutes through fear and corruption, making them opt into cruelest, most ruthless paradigm for “trauma bonding UP for survival” that ever existed. The “rich” – especially the “newly rich” (from the time of Wall Street Week and gated-communities-for-“The Coming Anarchy”), in terror trying to close ranks with their enured *betters*. The “necessity” to have a castle in Spain or some other “elite” hideaway in a perfectly fascist colony of 1%ers, and gold+currencies stashed in the “Treasure Islands” or Switzerland never was greater in America. Try asking a desk clerk at a Hotel For Swells or a busboy at a 5* restaurant, or a corporate charwoman, about the compassionate “rich”. Jamie Dimon is the model for Sterling performance nowadays. Inner panic is quashed deeply.

    2. Carolinian

      One thing I didn’t realize is that Warren is 65. So she is almost as old as Hillary. This is not an ageist comment….just saying she may already view a run as too much to take on. At any rate if she’s gonna then now’s the time.

      1. Cynthia

        Warren appears to be in much better health than Hillary. It seems to me that Hillary’s health has grown noticeably worse over the last couple of years.

    3. fresno dan

      your analysis reminds me very much of the Charles Hughes Smith essay:

      I however, have reached the level of cynicism that I believe Marx was right – capitalism will sell the communists the rope with which to hang themselves – and by that I mean the financiers control the Western “capitalistic” governments, and they do not see the nation state advantaging themselves, so they are unconcerned if the clout of the West dissipates. I imagine some of them will be surprised that the Chinese method of market regulation occasionally consists of a bullet to the head.

    4. James Levy

      I think your analysis is quite shrewd. They need a reformer who is not a bomb-thrower in the wings, just in case. Hell, with the revulsion against Bush and the Republicans, they needed an Obama and they found him. I think Warren is a much more decent and principled person than our current president, but she is a Franklin Roosevelt, not an Evo Morales.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        She’s not even that. The country doesn’t need a (neo-liberal) Consumer Protection Bureau, at least not in the way it needs a Citizen Protection Bureau.

    5. Jackrabbit

      I disagree vehemently with your depiction of necons and oligarchs.

      If necons ‘care’ about society it is only to harness it for their own ends. Oligarchs aren’t much better. As described in Oligarchy, the nature of oligarchs is to protect and advance their position in society. They are parasites.

      Please stop romanticizing / excusing these evil people.

      H O P

      1. hunkerdown

        Really? To attempt to build a theory of mind of evil is to romanticize it? No wonder you reformists are useless.

        1. Jackrabbit

          The romanticizing/excusing is to pretend that neocons/oligarchs act the way they do for some noble purpose.

          What’s ‘useless’ is the bogus red and blue sides that never deliver any reform. That, and turning to Oligarchs as saviors.

          PS I had a good laugh at your ‘theory of mind’ strawman.

          1. hunkerdown

            I’m sure you have seen no disagreement from me on the uselessness of what’s in the jersey (and if you have, it was most likely an editing failure on my part).

            Without a theory of mind, how do you get inside their OODA loop as they have gotten inside most people’s? Professed beliefs are not very predictive or explanatory, it is true, but “revealed preferences” may not be complete horse-pucky in political economy.

            1. Jackrabbit

              hunkerdown, I believe that you are a sensible guy (I assume a guy).

              I agree with you about knowing your enemy. But when Banger describes neocon concern for society in his comment he is not relating their mental state as much as he is regurgitating their propaganda.

              [Many neocons] . . .were not merely ambitious operatives who wanted power . . . but were concerned about the nihilistic, tribal, and hedonistic and amoral nature of popular culture (sex, drugs and rock n’ roll). The believed that human beings do need a purpose and the purpose they were willing to supply through their new Pearl Harbor was to be united in an Imperial cause. Differences of race, religion, class would be transcended, they reasoned through a common cause and purpose. Well that didn’t work out so well. In the end, it just made a lot of people rich and a lot of people poor and spilled a hell of a lot of blood

              The neocons had noble intentions that were dashed by greedy MIC contractors? Baloney. Returning to the present, Banger tells us that if neolibcon/oligarchic ‘concerns’ about society aren’t address by a CHOSEN ONE (“Not all oligarchs want feudalism and those that don’t only have one potential candidate to support”) that can be manipulated (she has no real power base, and no foreign policy experience) and keep the people fooled at bay then they will chose/force neofeudalism. Haven’t we seen this movie before?

              Banger has previously implored us to “love” oligarchs that take up causes that we might agree with – even if they are being self-serving in doing so. “I’m a realist” he insists, but it is EXACTLY that kind of ‘realism’ that has chipped away at our democracy for 30+ years. After ‘shared sacrifice’ and ‘trickle down’, Banger proposes that we ‘lay down’.

  8. mellon

    Interesting article on TTIP and free trade agreements, ISDS, etc. that’s from a US author, Lori Wallach. (Although, its in the European press)

    The corporation invasion: A new treaty being negotiated in secret between the US and the EU has been specifically engineered to give companies what they want — the dismantling of all social, consumer and environmental protection, and compensation for any infringement of their assumed rights.

    (There needs to be articles about the failure of the US press to cover the FTAs, especially TTIP and TiSA )

    1. toldjaso

      She left out the “corporate RIGHT” to profit. Suits already have been filed with this “right” in mind.
      Still think “corporations” are “people”? The Corporation is the Mask of “The Terminator” as we see.

  9. Jim Haygood

    ‘The fact is that the mainstream courses tell students that bank reserves increase the sector’s capacity to make loans. The reality is that loans are not so constrained.

    ‘I hope that our textbook provides something that is truly different, ground in reality and has evidential support. We will see – it will be out later this year.’ — Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell’s MMT For Dummies is certain to be a hit in Darwin, Australia, with a secondary sales hotspot in the Wild West of economics, Kansas City. But for the U.S., his discussion of reserves is as anachronistic as the fixed exchange rates of Bretton Woods.

    Martin Zweig, a maverick market analyst who died last year, coined the saying ‘Don’t fight the Fed.’ Looking at data back to the 1920s in his 1986 book Winning on Wall Street, he found that both reserve ratio changes and discount rate changes affected stocks, but the reserve ratio is the more potent of the two.

    After decades of cutting the required reserve ratio from stodgily conservative to paper-thin, the Federal Reserve de facto eliminated it in 1994 with a little-publicized ukase that permits banks to treat demand deposits (with minimal reserve requirements) as savings accounts (with no reserve requirements) overnight. The result was exactly what Zweig’s 1980s research predicted: a monster stock bubble into early 2000, which remains the all-time champ of overvaluation.

    Beginning in late 2008, the Fed began a QE program which has nearly quintupled its balance sheet, creating an awe-inspiring $2.5 trillion in excess reserves. Meanwhile, stocks have tripled from their 2009 low.

    One view is that the two just-cited facts are coincidence. After all, if reserves have been de facto unconstraining since 1994, then QE is just a sad example of groaf-addicted rats fecklessly pressing a lever (which they themselves disconnected) till their furry little paws bleed, long after the bottle has run dry.

    Another view is that Marty Zweig is having the last laugh, as QE reserve expansion gins up a Cat. 5 super Bubble that makes the Internet bubble look like a one-season game show. Bill Mitchell’s quibbling over whether reserves beget deposits, or vice versa, cannot help us resolve this dilemma. Who you gonna call?

    1. toldjaso

      Out of the park! catapult the meme into enemy territory, and see if the troops start trembling.

    2. susan the other

      Something completely outside the analysis of reserves and fiat is at play here. We need look no farther than the MBS debacle. Broken chains of debt and mortgage selling without documentation or securitization seem a little off the monetary charts, don’t they? Randall Wray today above. If anyone rages about too many trillions of dollars screwing up the good old system, they need to look at lax regulations in funny money and derivatives – not fiat. QE is just a feeble attempt to keep this entire fraudulent debacle from bringing down “capitalism” entirely. Keep in mind that these tricks started in the early 90s. It doesn’t surprise me that we haven’t declared Bitcoin illegal. Why bother?

    3. skippy

      Bailing out systematically important private sector agents in a hyper connected payments system. due to excessive deregulation, which was religiously advanced by free market fundamentalists and property dominionism sorts, but, yeah its all about the quantity of money… eh.

  10. fresno dan

    “Even though we didn’t take the food stamps, we lived in the warm embrace of the federal government with subsidized housing and utilities, courtesy of Uncle Sam [Lyngar, at the time, was in the Army]. Yet I blamed all of my considerable problems on the government, the only institution that was actively working to alleviate my suffering. I railed against government spending (i.e., raising my own salary). At the same time, the earned income tax credit was the only way I could balance my budget at the end of the year.

    To make up for my own failures, I voted to give rich people tax cuts, because somewhere deep inside, I knew they were better than me. They earned it. My support for conservative politics was atonement for the original sin of being white trash….

    They crash companies, loot pensions and destroy banks, and when they hit a snag, they scream to be rescued by government largess. By contrast, I continued to pay my oversize mortgage for years, even as my home lost more than half its value. I viewed my bad investment as yet another moral failure. When it comes to voting and investing, rich people make calculated decisions, while regular people make “emotional” and “moral” ones. Despite growing self-awareness, I pushed away reality for another election cycle….”

    The vast majority of the poor believe in being self reliant, paying their debts, and telling the truth, they constrain themselves due to morality…to the financiers, make as much money as possible no matter how dubious, and foist off every liability – whatever you can get away with is justified.

    1. toldjaso

      “What the market will bear” is their mantra, as they press their “sword of destiny” to the hilt.

      1. abynormal

        im working out my own “sword of destiny”…a stall. i’ll have few or no friends but when a broker, taxman or nasty brothers appear i’ll be overlooked…cause everything poops’)

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Corporations as Aggregates? The Conglomerate. Out-of-box thoughts on Hobby Lobby.

    Lots here, but I found this bit interesting:

    The second argument raised and debunked by the Court is that “RFRA does not protect for-profit corporations because the purpose of such corporations is simply to make money.” The Court states that “[t]his argument flies in the face of modern corporate law.”


    …and modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and that many do not do so.

    So, there really is no “law” that states that, first and foremost, all corporations have a “fiduciary responsibility” to their shareholders? Sounds like the fiduciary responsibility argument was made and rejected.

  12. Mark Harris

    I enjoy the links page, and find a great number of useful pieces there. However, I would suggest that when linking to a paywalled site, the links compiler take the trouble to determine if the same piece is freely wandering about the internet

    1. Yves Smith

      You can get to paywalled articles by Googling the headline and going from there, particularly from a Firefox private browsing window. Most readers know that trick.

  13. ogee

    As far as all this “freedom of religious conviction” is concerned in decisions like hobby lobby….
    I just wish someone would make the obvious next step, and being these “morally constrained” business owners don’t want to pay for contraception, they ought to have their health insurance premiums raised. After all, if you have no contraception coverage, there is the likelihood of more pregnancy. On a strictly dollar for dollar comparison, it is much cheaper for a company to pay for contraception than to pay for the costs of maternity care.
    Let those with, “a conscience”, pay for what they believe.Sure you can stop having contraception coverage, but your rates will go up by the 2%-5% that will be needed to cover the cost of pre-natal coverage and everything else associated with higher birth rates.
    Then we will see what they really believe in.

  14. JCC

    I like Elizabeth Warren, up to a point.

    As Banger says, “If Warren is a student of power then she knows this and it is best to keep her head down even if she does have ambitions to be President.”

    Like any successful national politician, I’m sure she is a “student of power” to some degree, after all, she’s come a long way in the public political sphere in the last 5 years or so and as a “student of power” I’m sure her Senate votes are well-planned.

    No matter what, like any politician, she knows how and where to compromise when it suits her… and depending on the issue she has no problem with centralized Govt/Corporate control over transparency when it comes to some key issues.

  15. AlbertR

    Many excellent comments here. I think the deep state analysis is most on point, however. Context, history, and even psychology matter. We can not discount the reports that personal antipathy and religion induced psychosis were factors in the decision of Bush Jr to invade Iraq (vendetta because Hussein allegedly targeted his daddy for termination and an evangelical belief that he was being called to attack Iraq). Similarly, Mister Change shill’s well known antipathy with Mister Shirtless should not be overlooked. Don’t these egomaniacal psychopaths have axes to grind? Well, let’s look at that. Putin has said that Obomber plays a scatalogical game of chess (he’s not toilet trained), and has rubbed the Globalist puppet’s nose in the excrement of Syria and Ukraine. Of course, it is PERSONAL for Obomber, just as it was for Bush Jr. Finally, let us keep in mind that Putin is doing everything possible to destroy the basis of the petrodollar racket. The US neocons will never let that happen without taking the entire world down in a nuclear holocaust. Everything is coming off the wheels very rapidly now. Homeland Security and FEMA have been preparing for every eventuality. Black swans to the moon.

    1. toldjaso

      Like City-funded “Bolsheviks” and Bro. Kerensky “opening the prison doors” in doomed “Russia”. Or what is Wackenhut and such as Dyncorp for? Think “It Can’t Happen Here”? The planned “Race War” cometh, “Jakarta is on the way” [see post today at re Anglo-American meaning of “Jakarta is on the way” in piece comparing Chile to Indonesia] — this is what the “international” forces have in the pipeline for the People of “USA!USA!”.

      There is no Government in America, just “Governance” by Killer Frenemies filled with lust, terror, avarice, contempt. We are prey unto death, not seen in time because “It’s a secret” (John Kerry).

        1. hunkerdown

          Originally published November 2013, in Counterpunch IIRC; I knew that name Vltchek sounded familiar.

  16. Chief Bromden

    Thanks for the superb Rabbani piece on Gaza.

    As for the Egyptian “Ceasefire!” – yeah, you stop all retaliation while the IDF continues to inflict incremental genocide and crank up the ole lawn mower for a fresh hair cut. Nothing like a little diplomatic cover for your atrocities….This fraudulent ‘ceasefire’ is what Kerry is now hanging his complicitous hat on. The world is watching.

    “What would this proposed ceasefire mean in practice? It would mean the existing air attacks by Israel would stop. But in the few weeks before it started, Israel was still shooting Palestinian children, Gaza fishermen etc. Israel has just arrested 6,000 Palestinians and re-arrested all those who had been freed during previous ceasefires. This is what Israel, the Egyptian government, and Tony Blair expects the people of Gaza to revert to. It would not be a ceasefire under the commonly understood meaning of it. It would be “a slight reduction in how many children Israel kills”. Why would Hamas accept it? Any negotiation, even negotiations while children are being killed, has to be serious. Not just “we’ll agree to anything if you’ll just stop killing us!”

    It would not provide Hamas any diplomatic room in which to improve a status quo of siege, embargo, and immiseration. The brutal truth is Israel will only stop killing Palestinians with impunity when it is forced to. We are talking here about a state that is already in massive violation of the UN Charter, chemical weapons conventions and the Geneva Conventions.

    Just a few days ago, Netanyahu announced that Israel has no interest in a ceasefire. That was about 12 hours before Egypt offered it and Israel accepted it…..”

    1. Fíréan

      Jewish persons were notable in their presence, and verbal, at demonstrations of solidarity for Palestinians in both the city of London and New York these past days. At the London demo they were openly critical of the Zionist state government. In expressing an anti zionist opinion one can still be sympathetic and supportive of the real Jewish people and the Palestinians. The actions of the Isreal governement are not supported by all Jews.
      ( ps. they are not actors from the Pinewood studios )

        1. toldjaso

          Ditto. May Cosmic help be with them as they face the cruel horns of this dilemma. Howl!

  17. JohnB

    That Wolfgang Streeck article (only halfway though at the moment) is one of the best and most insightful articles I’ve read on the politics and status of economics today (as well as on how the EU is removing democratic control over politics); that should probably be flagged as a main article on NC, it’s astoundingly good.

    I’d be very interested in seeing more articles, that give a ‘big-picture’ overview, of the politics of NeoLiberalism like that – it puts things into perspective very well, and it’s a topic that’s very hard to gain a good perspective on, by reading about it piecemeal.

    1. JohnB

      Finally finished reading this article – this is absolutely required reading. Hands down the best overview of the state of economics/politics and democracy/oligarchy that I’ve read – it’s almost like a summary of everything I’ve read and learned from Naked Capitalism over the last 3-4 years, but all linked together and perfectly framed in one (very long) article, that puts it all in perspective and draws new (and essential) insight from it all.

      Granted, I may be a little hyperbolic and at risk of overstating ;) but really, that is one of the best articles I’ve ever seen linked on this site – more please.

      1. toldjaso

        The author is as cold as dry ice, and the piece is sterile, though chockablock with “facts” and neat conclusions. Odd he never once mentions fraud, felony, looting, and prosecution for such crimes. This man is one cold fish, who probably thinks very highly of himself. How deliciously removed he is from the People’s problems.

        1. JohnB

          Uhm, he did mention fraud? He actually did a particularly good paragraph, summarizing the kind of fraud I’ve been reading about on NC over the years:

          Pace Weber, fraud and corruption have forever been companions of capitalism. But there are good reasons to believe that with the rise of the financial sector to economic dominance, they have become so pervasive that Weber’s ethical vindication of capitalism now seems to apply to an altogether different world. Finance is an ‘industry’ where innovation is hard to distinguish from rule-bending or rule-breaking; where the payoffs from semi-legal and illegal activities are particularly high; where the gradient in expertise and pay between firms and regulatory authorities is extreme; where revolving doors between the two offer unending possibilities for subtle and not-so-subtle corruption; [40] where the largest firms are not just too big to fail, but also too big to jail, given their importance for national economic policy and tax revenue; and where the borderline between private companies and the state is more blurred than anywhere else, as indicated by the 2008 bailout or by the huge number of former and future employees of financial firms in the American government. After Enron and WorldCom, it was observed that fraud and corruption had reached all-time highs in the us economy. But what came to light after 2008 beat everything: rating agencies being paid by the producers of toxic securities to award them top grades; offshore shadow banking, money laundering and assistance in large-scale tax evasion as the normal business of the biggest banks with the best addresses; the sale to unsuspecting customers of securities constructed so that other customers could bet against them; the leading banks worldwide fraudulently fixing interest rates and the gold price, and so on. In recent years, several large banks have had to pay billions of dollars in fines for activities of this sort, and more developments of this kind seem to be in the offing. What at first glance may look like quite significant sanctions, however, appear minuscule when compared to the banks’ balance sheets—not to mention the fact that all of these were out-of-court settlements of cases that governments didn’t want or dare to prosecute.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      This was a very good article. There is so much to unpack, but I want to emphasize a point he felt defensive about given the 500 year old history of capitalism. Whatever major problems are going on right now for capitalism in the wake of the financial crash, capitalism is not an American phenomenon, and could be moving to a another location. What we see may be more American loss of power in the world, relative to all of the other nations who have built themselves up since WWII. At the same time, the newer countries that are getting use to operating this kind of system, by the very fact of being more powerful, strike out on their own, under their views, interests and internal political constraints, or internal demands. This acting out, to control immediate borders, to have more of a sphere of influence not in coordination with American foreign policy is what is creating the geopolitical instability. When Obama is blamed for losing Iraq, or Syria or the Ukraine, neo-cons and the republican attack dogs all implicitly view the world as an extension of Washington DC Imperial Rule. Loss of control of a government is loss of country and has to be brought back into the fold of American foreign policy by force of arms, the perpetual war approach or by force of economic containment strategies of sanctions, travel and capital bans etc.

      Capitalism reinvents itself somewhere in the world where a huge territory and amount of people have not be fully integrated in the global capital flows and trading system. Most of Africa and maybe half of China and India have not been integrated, even though their governments may be, all of the people have not. Close to 2 Billion people have not been developed enough to participate in a market economy with wages for work and taxes for public social insurance programs. While the title of the paper is the end of capitalism, it may me more likely that what we are witnessing is the end of America, with capitalism surviving, just as it moved on from the British Empire before. I would not underestimate the regenerative power of capitalism. The USA can’t just pick itself up and go somewhere else, capitalism can. And that somewhere else can just as easily be South Asia and the East African coast. Not that it will happen in my lifetime. But then, American was building itself up just in time for Europe to self destruct and take over a ruined, highly developed capitalist area and a completely impoverished, backwards rural rest of the world. Of course, the rural world has since urbanized, pooling populations into cities that dwarf NYC and China, once poorer than Africa as a whole, is richer than anyone but the US.

      Streeck argues for a conjuncture of stagnation, oligarchic redistribution, the plundering of the public domain, corruption and global anarchy all simultaneously occurring as one big process of discontinuity collapsing capitalism. He is dealing with an endogenous variety of social events, without even going into the exogenous climate, resource depletion of fossil fuels, water, top soil, etc. Not that man made environmental degradation does not come from the existing capitalist social order, but he focuses on the features of the social order that are undermining itself, its self destructive contradictions. And these are bad enough all by themselves, even if the weather was as perfect as San Diego all over the world and nuclear power was too cheap to meter. Now, America will fall one day, as all civilizations pass, as the British, the Spanish Empires did. But, the people of those countries did not all die along with the features of their contemporary empire. Life goes on, more miserable for a lot of the people, but the loss of prominent features of a social order, changing it so much that it is noticeably different, does not mean everyone is killed of in a genocidal finality. So, capitalism may be strong enough to survive an America diminished as a world power, without 10 air craft carriers and the battle groups surrounding them, but still be a dynamic wealth accumulation process flourishing from the Indian Ocean and over and up around the Pacific Rim, long after we stop paying baseball all stars $100mil contracts.

      While the core states of global capitalism are dealing with multiple geo-political wars, and social unrest, other countries can be quietly building up their domestic strength and be strong enough, adaptive enough to take over the reins of hegemony when America and Europe have exhausted themselves, without laying in ruins from a world war. I would like to be optimistic for a democratic renewal, here and abroad, but capitalism has shown itself to more adaptive than I really want to believe in my heart. Objectively speaking, it seems to be much stronger over time and this time may not be different at all for capitalism, it may only be different for America and its tightly coupled allies.

      1. abynormal

        good catch Paul…but it seems you might be missing your own point for “erogenous climate”. How can other countries “be quietly building up their domestic strengths and adapt” fast enough to beat mother nature’s outcome to the punch? they cannot and we won’t…greed does that. greed has morphed into the pivot point controlling 1st & 3rd worlds…capitalism already ate the 2nd world. sadly we’ve transferred enough to ride out the other countries.

        all my doom aside, i do have hope in the moment, where We not only recognize one another but we reach out with care, compassion and help. its the least and the most we can do.

  18. guest

    Whats next, 9/11 was an inside job by Bush? The Jews perpetrated the Holocaust to secure Israel? Because it would be irresponsible to not speculate! Here is another ‘speculation’ Putin’s Russia’s GDP print is now flat lined and tax increases, increases in age of retirement and the introduction of paid medical service were all floated by his deputy ministers at the St. Petersburg Economic forum. Ramping up nationalistic ferver to fever pitch will allow him to pass reforms so unpopular that at no point has he tried them before. But no, of course its a false flag. Another inside job.

    1. Chief Bromden

      Is there any context to your comment or are you just shooting arrows into the dark?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Er, no? I admit to be counter-suggestible with respect to prevailing narratives. That’s because so many of them have proved to be false. The writer made a call that, in retrospect, was impressively accurate. I like to reward that.

    3. Henry

      You’re right. The Ukraine commentary here is really awful, and the conspiratorial mindset is getting worse in other respects too. Kind of sad, having followed NC from around 2008 or so.

      1. OIFVet

        Indeed. NC should feature guest stories by John Kerry, Karl Bildt, Petro Poroshenko, and Jen Psaki. Because it would be irresponsible not to come to a predetermined conclusion before the facts are in.

      2. Murky

        Yep, there’s a mind-set here that’s pervasive in any discussion of Ukraine. Them Ukrainians are all ‘nazis’. Russians, on the other hand, are a good and trustworthy people! Good guys and bad guys. Keep it simple. No grey areas. And forget history! Forget that Russia under the Soviets deliberately starved to death over 2 million Ukrainians in 1932-33. Forget that many millions more died in the Gulag concentration camps from 1928 up until 1954. Forget the Soviet invasion of Hungry in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968. So, if history isn’t relavent, just what is? Ideology, of course!! Soviet style Marxism, swallow it whole! You can truly believe that Western capitalists and ‘neoliberals’ are the singular source of world evil! Believe that Russia represents the working masses and that RT television (Russia Today) is the voice of truth and justice! [Gag…] The reality is that evil is spread fairly evenly across the globe. All nation states and nationalities have done and are capable of doing horrible things to other human beings. Like shooting down passager aircraft. Lambert argues that we can guess who is responsible for downing this passenger jet, because it’s the Western neoliberal empire that stands to gain! Gotta love the backwards logic of such conspiracy theory. Because it ignores the best and most reliable information about the downing of this passenger jet. That the rebels in east Ukraine have been busy in recent weeks shooting down Ukrainian military aircraft. With good success! Could it be that the rebels made a mistake and accidentally shot down a passenger plane? No! Say it isn’t so! [Stages of denial go here.] Uhm. Oops. And just maybe Putin and his regime were arming the rebels way too aggressively, with weapons the rebels could not operate responsibly. And it’s no wonder the rebels are broadly losing any support they might have had. World opinion has surged to a crush against them now. And Russia suffers too, because of this stupid blunder. You can blame Putin. Because he follows old style Soviet politics to the letter. Trained in the Soviet era as a KGB officer, he quite willing uses brutal force against any adversary. But that era of Stalinist style control over whole nations was already overplayed in Hungry 1956, in Prague Spring of 1968, and was completely ineffective during the Polish Solidarity movement. Now Putin’s tactics are failing in East Ukraine, and this only gives further legitimacy the the new Ukrainian regime. Examine how Putin’s tactics backfire. He sees no problem at all using black propaganda to demonize any opposition. He sees no problem sending military thugs and arms into neighboring nations. And now Ukrainians for the first time in their history are broadly anti-Russian. Their new swear word for Russians, ‘Moskaly’ has a nasty tinge. That neighborly feeling is gone, animosity is very strong, and Russia has lost Ukraine, perhaps forever. Didn’t need to happen. Russia and Ukraine have a depth of history, economic, and cultural ties that would have remained intact if not for Putin. All Putin had to do was make simple concessions. Accept the toppling of the Yanukovych regime. Admit that Yanukovych was a crook. Then, despite some embarrassment, normal trade and cultural relations would have stayed in their proper channels. Russia would have still had huge influence over Ukraine, if only because of the heavy trade relationship and supply of natural gas. But instead of preserving a post-Soviet shared space that includes Ukraine, Putin has severed the relationship with Ukraine in the most stupid and blundering fashion.

        There is a core group of people here who have an axe to grind against Ukraine and Ukrainians. Ukrainians are demonized constantly on this web site as ‘Nazis’. Yves has broadly tagged Ukrainians as ‘nazis’. So has OIFvet. And Banger. And James Levy. And Katnis. Yet I find such extreme prejudice against Ukrainians to be tolerable. Tolerable because my views are also tolerated. My post will stand in balance against this hatred towards Ukrainians.

        – Murky

        1. OIFVet

          Were you trying to argue a point or paint a caricature? Sorry that the people you singled out have expressed nuance you are apparently incapable or unwilling to process. Must be why you find Snyder so appealing, he is incapable of nuance and his articles in NYRB prove it. He is a living, breathing caricature of himself.

          1. Murky


            I do not read any of your posts, including the one above, because in a previous post you suggested a bullet be put through my head. Threats of violence may be your style of forum participation, but I won’t stand for it. So please never engage me and expect dialog. You’ve lost that privilege.

      3. Yves Smith

        This site is a project in trying to train readers to think critically. This is exactly the same approach we applied to MSM reporting in the runup to and during the crisis. Apparently you aren’t willing to do that vis-a-vis the official coverage on Ukraine.

        1. Henry

          Sorry, Yves, you fail to convince me on this. I’m not completely sure what you mean by “official coverage on Ukraine” but I assume you refer to mainstream U.S. coverage. I don’t want to overstate my in-depth knowledge on the topic but I consider my regular sources pretty diverse and of good quality. A resident of a (non-Nato) country bordering Russia, I read and watch coverage on Ukraine in several European languages and media, and yes, also American MSM as well as a bunch of quality Anglophone reporters in Ukraine (e.g. Maxim Eristavi, Simon Ostrovsky, Roland Oliphant, Noah Sneider, Max Seddon).

          Against that background, a lot of the NC coverage seems pretty dogmatic and black-and-white, actually, and hugely US-centric, as well, as you sometimes almost seem unable to perceive the crisis as anything else than something bordering a neoimperialist, neocon and neoliberal takeover of Ukraine by USA, Nato and their faithful local henchmen. In fact, it seems it’s this same US-critical prejudice (no doubt warranted to some extent) that leads you to adopt the “critical” perspectives familiar from, above all, the Russian media sphere, right down to the colorful but deeply biased vocabulary (coup, fascist junta, etc.). This is not something I would call “critical thinking”.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Thanks for sharing your concern. Not to adopt any media vocabulary wholesale, but if you would prefer not to use “coup” for overthrowing an elected government, what form of words would you prefer to substitute? “Regime change”?

            1. Henry

              Thanks for the reply, Lambert. Of the expressions mentioned, coup is certainly the more defensible one, and that’s probably why you chose to defend that one. I’m not disputing the fact that a rival elite faction encouraged, incited and took advantage of the Maidan popular uprising to consolidate their power in the government formed after the escape of Yanukovich. That certainly ticks a lot of boxes in the definition of a coup d’état.

              My beef is more with the way the word is often used in this context, i.e., to frame the whole series of events as a wholly manipulated event (even more ridiculously, wholly manipulated by “the West”) void of an actual popular uprising with a hugely diverse set of motives and ideas from extreme right ideologies to pro-EU sentiments, and above all, opposition to the pervasive corruption all around and for that moment personified especially in Yanukovich. I’m sure a lot of the Maidan people are frustrated with the way the revolution turned out, with the other, more pro-West oligarch faction in power again, but so far, they are probably far more frustrated and afraid of the way Russia and probably some oligarchs have cynically taken advantage of and manipulated the inevitably chaotic circumstances and cultural-ethnic divisions in Ukraine to the obvious detriment of the whole nation.

      4. Banger

        Of course, we know that conspiracies only occur in countries not aligned with the USA. Since we Americans live in a country where important people would never think of cutting corners or engage in the usual skullduggery that barbarians, like the Russians, use in the pursuit of power politics we know all the ills of the world are caused by “bad guys” who live in places we don’t approve of. American leaders either make honest mistakes or are just blundering fools right?

    4. OIFVet

      Yes, the economy in the US is not doing too well, there has been a bipartisan effort to increase the retirement age while decreasing benefits, a highly unpopular giveaway to the medical insurance industry was enacted. Nothing like a little foreign adventure to distract Americans’ consumers’ attention away from the problems at home.

  19. kareninca

    Perhaps the “Native American” issue is holding Warren back. Her claim, and the question of whether she benefitted from it professionally, has not gone away as an issue:

    There are things about her that I don’t like, that is certain (she is in favor of Obamacare; a gigantic minus)(, but at least she does not seem to be a sociopath, and having her ancestry claim be a constant factor may not be appetizing to her. Joe Biden, in contrast, was quite happy to plagiarize his ancestry and had no sense of embarrassment about it since he is a sociopath:

    It’s hard to get someone who is not a sociopath to run for office. “Normal people” find it painful to be relentlessly publicly shamed for forgivable mistakes; sociopaths don’t care one bit.

  20. Dopebots

    @guest, no, silly, 9/11 was not an inside job by Bush, it was an inside job by Saudi cutouts run by CIA for Myers, Rumsfeld, and Cheney, And the Jews didn’t perpetrate the Holocaust, they just re-enacted it on Palestinians, making Gaza the world’s biggest genocidal concentration camp. And the rest of what you said was all non sequiturs. Hope DoD persona ver. 2.4 comes out real soon. This one can’t even pass the Turing test.

  21. OIFVet

    Air Force seeks bids for $550M next generation stealth bomber. Because A) an empire can never have too many bombers, B) The F-35 turned out so well, and C) the MIC needs their fair share of profits. I am not too sure about C) though, the B-2 each cost a cool $2 billion so where is the profit in a piddling $550 million per copy? Unless of course they are taking the F-35 program approach of claiming the bomber can be had for a bargain price, make the program immune to the budget ax by spreading the work around all congressional districts, and then inflate the hell out of it once we have put the money into the development program.

    1. abynormal

      Ha! s/he’s got some serious wit to match their broad scope feature …i find it slap head refreshing. you don’t feel your held to a comment limit, do ya? hope not’)

      1. ewmayer

        I was thinking more along “save some for the next article” lines. It’s like the dinner guest who is undeniably very funny but can’t control himself and ends up dominating the conversation with one loud nyuk-nyuk after another.

  22. Yonatan

    Regarding MH17, the Russians have released data from their civilian radar systems. It shows two Ukrainian fighters trailed MH17, and shortly before it disappeared from radar, an unidentified third aircraft climbed rapidly from low altitude to a similar level to MH 17, then turned a short while later and descended rapidly. They have shown satellite images of Ukrainian Buk systems as part of large Ukrainian military units in the vicinity to the shoot down. They know the US will have satellite imagery and radar data and have challenged them to show it. The Ukrainians originally stated none of their aircraft trailed MH17.

    A note from an article by Mike Whitney on 9 July, regarding US wars for energy control in Afghanistan and US corporate control of Ukrainian pipelines. The key paragraph is:

    “So all Putin has to do is sit tight and he wins, mainly because the EU needs Moscow’s gas. If energy supplies are terminated or drastically reduced, prices will rise, the EU will slide back into recession, and Washington will take the blame. So Washington has a very small window to draw Putin into the fray, which is why we should expect another false flag incident on a much larger scale than the fire in Odessa. Washington is going to have to do something really big and make it look like it was Moscow’s doing. Otherwise, their pivot plan is going to hit a brick wall.”

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