Links 7/27/14

Robotic football: Messi v the machines The Economist

Why Golfers Buy Hole in One Insurance Priceonomics

In U.S. custody, migrant kids are flown thousands of miles at taxpayer expense WaPo. I was once told that the fastest-growing airline in America is the one that flies immigrant detainees from one facility to the next.

Drug courts, meant to aid addicts, now a battlefield of pot politics LA Times

The New York Times Calls for Marijuana Legalization NYT ed board. Feels like a watershed moment.


Depth of Gaza devastation becomes clear after cease-fire WaPo

Deaths in Gaza now more than 1,000 BBC

Hamas Rejects Israel’s Agreement to Extend Cease-Fire by 24 Hours Bloomberg

Two Palestinians reportedly assaulted by Jewish mob in Jerusalem Haaretz

Gunmen Seize, Then Free, a Leading Iraqi Politician AP

US shuts embassy in Libyan capital BBC

Taliban Making Military Gains in Afghanistan NYT

Ebola crisis: US doctor working in Liberia tests positive The Guardian

Ukraine launches offensive to retake Donetsk AP

Ukraine: Unguided Rockets Killing Civilians Human Rights Watch (h/t furzy mouse)

Wyden Ponders Release of CIA Torture Report Without White House Consent Roll Call

What is Clintonism? Counterpunch (h/t Li)

Justin Wolfers False Symmetry on Unemployment Benefits Dean Baker

Federal regulators let utilities gouge customers David Cay Johnston, Al Jazeera America

House Tells Court It Can Lawfully Ignore SEC Requests for Records WSJ

Taking Stock of Four Years of Dodd-Frank Jennifer Taub

Hedge Funds Bet Big on Overseas Tax Deals WSJ

Deutsche Bank, HSBC Accused of Silver Fix Manipulation Bloomberg

Private Equity’s Free Pass Gretchen Morgenson. Of obvious interest around these parts.

Class warfare:

Seeing a Supersize Yacht as a Job Engine, Not a Self-Indulgence NYT

The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less NYT. It’s actually worse when you DON’T include housing.

Fast Food Workers Ramp Up Fight For Rights Huffington Post

Buzzfeed fires Benny Johnson for plagiarism WaPo

Lust in space: Russians lose control of gecko sex satellite Al Jazeera America (h/t Dr. Kevin)

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


    1. Jackrabbit

      This article makes a good point: The US and Ukraine must have known that Separatist had the BUK and had used it but did not take appropriate action to protect civil aviation. But the article fails to go further. Reports seem reluctant to press US/Ukraine to release information that could shed light on what really happened. There is no reason for US/Ukraine not to do so in a timely fashion if they are confident that the Separatists shot down the plane.

      – We still haven’t heard the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tapes
      The Separatists were criticized for any/every delay (site access, turning over the black boxes, releasing bodies) and now critics howl that the site is compromised / has been “tampered with” but there is a stunning lack of inquisitiveness regarding the ATC tapes.

      – Ukraine hasn’t explained why they deployed BUK units to the area
      The Separatists have no air force, and as described in the Telegraph report, this is the likely way that Separatists obtained the BUK. Why deploy sophisticated weapons to an area where they are not needed but could be captured?

      – The US still hasn’t released satellite info
      The Russians have said that a US satellite that could detect a SAM lauch was over the area. The Obama Administration has not denied that. Robert Parry at ConsortiumNews says that his intel contacts tell him that the missile came from the Ukrainian side. Yet many question if a BUK was even used due to a lack of eyewitness reports of contrails (as for me, I don’t know enough to judge how important this may be: how quickly would a SAM contrail dissipate?).

      H O P

  1. dearieme

    Congratulations on setting these two next to each other: a point well made.

    US shuts embassy in Libyan capital BBC

    Taliban Making Military Gains in Afghanistan NYT

  2. Skeptic

    Seeing a Supersize Yacht as a Job Engine, Not a Self-Indulgence

    “…the $34 million he had donated to charity since 2000. The contributions helped the neediest around St. Louis get an education, get healthy or get a fresh start.”

    Might it also be critical to know how much tax deduction loot this reaped for Mr. Dennis Jones, .01%. Or how much influence it bought for Mr. Jones in getting friends, relatives, hangerson hired at said “charities”. Or even influencing what policies those “charities” might pursue?

    And then there might be the question of what drugs he sold and to whom did he sell them? Would Medicare have been a big purchaser? Government handouts for Mr. Jones, that is?

    Then there’s that planned cruise to the Panama Canal. Panama noted, of course, for offshore money laundering and other financial activities by the .01%.

    Sorry, NYT, the story was not Feel Good for me. Actually, another disgrace for you.


    1. hidflect

      When anyone publicizes how much they’ve given to charity, it becomes paid publicity. True charity is anonymous.

    2. MikeNY

      See? The NYT Yacht story shows how our policies are working for the little guy!

      — Janet Yellen, Concerned Granny for the Proles

      1. Jim Haygood

        To paraphrase an old Wall Street chestnut … ‘But where are the workers’ yachts?’

        1. Skeptic

          Another paraphrase on Yachts:
          “A yacht is a hole in the water into which you pour OPM (other people’s money).” Courtesy of 0% for the 1%.

    3. Bart Fargo

      Never imagined I’d see someone try to pass off buying a yacht as an act of philanthropy.

      1. sd

        Next up: oligarchs living in penthouses act of charity for homeless

        Sacrifices must be made.

    4. trish

      yeah, a supersized yacht here, some charity there…we’re supposed to thrill at these guys tossing out a bit of their lucre to those needy others, their lessers.

      tax write-offs and they get to choose who are worthy and can push a little free enterprise propaganda on the young and impressionable, as well.

      and cruises and private jet travel and a monster house…how about the cost to the environment- wonder who pays that.

      1. Kim Kaufman

        and most of those “charitable donations” go to places like their alma mater or the opera or their favorite hospital, so they can get the best seats/beds in both. Maybe a favorite religious organization – to get good with God. But certainly not the poor.

    5. Ulysses

      The whole concept of “trickle-down” is of course ridiculous. The court at Versailles was a job engine for a handful of jewelers, gardeners, cooks, etc., but the Third Estate as a whole was much worse off for its existence.

      We need to stop indulging the feel-good fantasies of the few, while the many suffer. La Tricoteuse has noted the kleptocrats’ crimes in her knitting, and they will soon have cause to regret their arrogance!

      1. nycTerrierist

        “…indulging the feel-good fantasies of the few, while the many suffer.”

        The New York Times of recent years, in a nutshell.

    6. Katniss Everdeen

      Interesting comment on this article at the NYT website by someone named Mark Morss, Columbus, OH:

      “It is remarkable how readily everyone concedes that a rich man’s buying a yacht stimulates the economy, yet how stubbornly many resist the notion that the government’s building a bridge does the same.”

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        Well, we have known for a fact that the rich man’s ice is colder, his sugar sweeter and his hour has more precious time, than his inferiors. It only stands to reason that his private spending is better for the economy than our public expenditures, which of course, have to be shared. No man is an island, alone to himself, but a yacht, that you can float away on and steer clear of anyone heading in your general direction.

        1. Crazy Horse

          Paul, you missed out on one other aspect where the super rich are markedly different. For a man like Donald Trump (or our Mr. Jones) it is an extreme hardship to have a yacht or personal residence with less than seven owner’s bathrooms. Draw your own conclusions.

        2. Ben Johannson

          Your silver fingertips have persuaded me to embrace the richers. How can I reject sweeter sugar?

      1. Ulysses

        The NYT also has a very simple message for those galley slaves who might get uppity and demand a little treacle on their hard tack: “The beatings will continue until morale improves!!”

      2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Hight tide in one place means low tide in another (tides are apparently becoming very localized). It also means that those without boats either swim or drown.

    7. Whine Country

      Saw a piece on Warren Buffet’s new plan to get other bazillionaires to pledge much of their massive fortunes to future good deeds. His pitch is that they already have enough to have a sizable yacht just to motor out to their real yacht, so why not do some good with the money they could not possibly spend in their lifetimes. What puzzled me is that the champion of the idea that the wealthy should be taxed more because of the same logic was not being pitched to his fellow bazillionaires. After all, if one wishes to donate money to “good causes”, the federal government is certainly on the list of potential candidates. Then it hit me! To do so would be making a statement that the government could actually do some good for less fortunate folks or maybe the world in general, and that whole concept is absolutely not an option. How sad that even in what must certainly be a high minded purpose on the part of these very wealthy good citizens, they have to keep to the script and never, never create even the faintest hint that the government is anything but an bunch of incompetent fools who will merely squander away their hard working fortunes and tarnish their legacies. Remember, at the heart of the bailout arguments was the essential unarguable truth, government could not possibly run any of the large failed institutions while we sorted out the mess. BTW, anyone know what Timothy Geitner is doing for a living now?

      1. jrs

        “After all, if one wishes to donate money to “good causes”, the federal government is certainly on the list of potential candidates.”

        I don’t know about you, and I’m not these rich people, but when I pay my taxes, I mostly feel like I’m paying for drones to murder children. Maybe another $5 billion will go to install fascists in the Ukraine, maybe it will go for missiles to bomb Gaza. Maybe another state however imperfect it was will be left in pure chaos. The argument might have held up imperfectly but better for city government. Though even then they might use it for another LRAD to put down a protest (that’s often sponsored by the Fed gov though).

        “Then it hit me! To do so would be making a statement that the government could actually do some good for less fortunate folks or maybe the world in general, and that whole concept is absolutely not an option. How sad that even in what must certainly be a high minded purpose on the part of these very wealthy good citizens, they have to keep to the script and never, never create even the faintest hint that the government is anything but an bunch of incompetent fools who will merely squander away their hard working fortunes and tarnish their legacies.”

        Yea their script is incompetence. But the U.S. government is plausibly competent at what seems to be it’s main real aim, expanding a right wing economic system over the globe and it does this in the interest of the 1%. While some of the rich may sincerely be libertarians or whatever, they are far better served by a government that goes out of it’s way to impose it’s right wing agenda on the world, than they can ever measure, and I’m not sure they don’t kind of have an inkling of that.

        1. prostratedragon

          “and I’m not sure they don’t kind of have an inkling of that.”

          Could be, considering the ridiculous alternative. As possibly seen here recently:

          “Exclusive: E-mails Reveal Feds and Rail Companies Pressured States to Keep Oil-by-Rail Information Secret”

          “BNSF Nears Shift To One-Member Crews, Possibly Even on Dangerous Oil Trains”

          and the ever popular “White House Meeting Logs: Big Rail Lobbying Against ‘Bomb Train’ Regulations It Publicly Touts”

          Et cetera. Things have devolved to an awful state when not even a billionaire in control of a company like BNSF can’t even find staff to follow through on his good intentions.

      2. MikeNY

        Pretty sure Geithner went to Warburg Pincus, a big PE firm. Quelle surprise. Oligarchy in action.

        Wrt Buffet, I’m reminded of Niebuhr’s ordering of goods: charity is good, but justice is better.

      3. toldjaso

        TG lies in clover at Warburg Pinkus. “Well done, thou good&faithful servant to the .01%DNA&Co.”

      4. Kim Kaufman

        My understanding is that Buffett gave a large chunk of change to Bill Gates to manage in his so-called charitable work. Gates, of course, is spending gazillions to privatize and corporatize public education.

      5. reslez

        As Hugh was wont to say, philanthropist billionaires don’t give give their money to the government (via taxes or donation) because they understand it would just be divided up and distributed to the other billionaires who run government.

  3. rjs

    seems they’re burning a lot more coal to frack ohio…
    AEP benefitting from fracking in Ohio’s Utica shale region — The fracking boom continues to drive industrial power use at American Electric Power Company Inc., especially in Ohio’s Utica shale region. The Columbus-based utility reported even bigger growth in industrial sales in shale regions for the second quarter than before. Oil and gas companies require a lot of electricity to power their fracking and related operations, which are faster-moving than typical industrial users, Dan Recker, AEP’s managing director of transmission engineering, told me earlier this year. Year-to-year sales were up 39 percent in shale-gas counties and down 1.6 percent in non-shale counties, AEP reported Friday. That’s up from a 30 percent growth in shale areas and 1.7 percent drop in non-shale areas the company reported in its first quarter. Again, growth in the Utica shale in eastern Ohio leads the way for AEP. Industrial sales are up more than 50 percent in Ohio’s shale region compared to a year ago.

    1. HotFlash

      Jeez. The transition to sustainable living, low energy consumption and renewable energy will take time, much orgnization, many bucks and our last nestegg of energy. Fracking fries the nestegg, eats the seedcorn and dumps the resulting shit down the well. Metaphorically speaking.

      1. Carla

        @Hotflash: I don’t see why you qualify your statements as metaphorical. It seems to me they stand on their own. Very well said.

  4. Sad clowns

    @dearieme, thank you for the textbook psyop: throw out some chum for US partisan politics so you can submerge the original whopper as background (extra points for planting it in a ‘disinterested’ foreign paper!) Their fundamental problem is, as the original, competent Nazis would say, Lügen haben kurze Beine.

  5. trish

    re Seeing a Supersize Yacht as a Job Engine, Not a Self-Indulgence

    oh god. this sickening fawning piece of “journalism” was too much for my system this morning.

    1. flora

      You should have seen last week’s 60 Minutes show. Charlie Rose’s interview with billionaire charity donors, including Pete Peterson, was embarrassingly obsequious. All these “love us billionaires. we give to charity” stories lately are starting to look like an orchestrated pr campaign.

      1. toldjaso

        In addition to being a tax dodge and tool for dominance, “philanthropy” is INSURANCE against the potential that the poor will be inclined to “Eat the Rich.” It is obviously “deflective PR” a la mode de Bernays.

  6. craazyman

    I guess whoever chose Links today doesn’t like it that retirees and prudent hard working people trying to earn investment income get a reasonable dividend from utility stocks. Boy, talk about a problem facing humanity — price gouging by high-voltage transmission line builders! Anybody here ever try to build a transmission line? “No”. I thought so. It’s not as easy as waxing a string between two paper cups and saying “Can you hear me?” with your mouth pressed hard against the circular orifice. A lot of that transmission is supposed to support hydro and renewable power imports anyway. Assuming the demand for power holds up, given energy efficiency programs and maybe even solar rooftops. So that’s a problem for humanity — helping middle class savers earn 4% dividends in a zero-yield market by financing transmission for renewable energy. Jesus on a Sunday already. Progressives!!! If they didn’t exist, you’d have to invent them just to crack yourself up.

      1. toldjaso

        And people forget that smiley-face Geico began as the Government Employee Insurance Co., or some appellation to that effect. Who are the re-insurers making a killing?

          1. toldjaso

            The name may finesse their initial insuring of “the troops” and families in the MIC. I guess all the Biggies get a slice of the public pie — like TIAA-CREF with its lock on “academia” soldiers.

  7. nycTerrierist

    Excellent summary by Andrew Levine on Clintonism in Counterpunch:
    “Hillary as Reaganite Malware” – I’d share it with soi-disant ‘progressives’ I know
    who were duped by Obama and are now duped by Hillary, but on second thought,
    they’ll have to learn the hard way…(because tribalism).

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Every time I hear ostensibly “progressive” voices lavishing Bill Clinton with superlative praise I just shake my head.

      I was particularly struck by Stephanie Miller, a proud lesbian, describing his reign of social and financial terror as “spec-TAC-ular.”

      The cognitive dissonance never ceases to amaze.

      1. toldjaso

        Cognitive dissonance disappears, or gets stuffed deeper, when the psychopathic phase sets in. “Born liars” and “accomplished liars” are so adamant in their lying that they they “justify” their lies to themselves while in the act of lying. By now, the “political” liars in high places must lie or die. As Goebbels and Bernays and the boyz at Tavistock, Wharton, and RAND knew, the Big Lie transformed into “truth” by repetition is the best lie. The “audience” of “willing executioners” believes or feigns belief in lies, unable to bear the discomfort, pain, disturbance, if not shock of the truth. The owners and shills of the MSM, academia, think tanks, and NGOs constitute Lying Central. We are force fed lies every hour. Even babes in arms are delivered into the maw of the Lying Beast.

        It’s a Global Machine for Gain and Pain, whose owners bet on traumatized humanity’s Love For Lies: lies that conceal the terrible truths of traumatic experience. Who can stop this Evil Machine, this Golem dishing out trauma from generation to generation, creating human sacrifices for elite gainful holocausts (living sacrifices by fire) to Moloch? (see Alexander Sokurov interview re film “MOLOCH”)

        “Suppose the lions all get up and go,
        And all the brooks and soldiers run away.”
        (from W.H. Auden’s “If I Could Tell You”)

        1. tolkjaso

          To comprehend the tie that binds the “elites” together, please see the sober report in the YT video linked below, in entirety. Place Lord “Mountbatten” within the frame of puzzlement of trauma denied and applied, connecting the BritEmpire with “democratic” Inja. Recall that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) thanked heaven for little girls, and his childporn photos for posterity prove it. This may change your perspective on “Alice In Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” and Carroll’s purpose in writing these books for the delight of children everywhere..

          Did you ever see photos of Bill Clinton as a “budding adolescent”? Do you know how many “royal bastards” have been incessed, and finessed to power&glory through politics and film? (Hint: Carroll Reed, Director of “The Third Man” was such a bastard, as was Peter Sellers, who paid homage to coverups in his last film, “BEING THERE”.)

          Consult Alice Miller’s works anent the sordid tradition of “family secrets” in Old Europe and the New World. Freud could not face the truth of this, and he became the God of The Tavistock Institute and his nephew Bernays, of the RIIA and every other knock-off-IIA, and of every institution down the line of sociopaths/psychopaths-in-power. The Brits are bucking for the “age of consent” at FOUR YEARS, and the complete legalization of incest. Any wonder that “Snakes In Suits” are in charge? Who can tell, when “It’s a secret” (John Kerry), that makes occult presidential libraries pornographic in every sense.

          The video below is just the tip of the guilderberg, as deep as Mt. Everest is high.

          “PaedoGate – Proofs of a Paedophile ring within royalty & government”)
          (Jon Doe, Published on June 20, 2014)

          “Suppose the lions all get up and go,
          And all the brooks and soldiers run away.
          Will time say nothing but I told you so?
          If I could tell you I would let you know.”
          (from W.H. Auden’s “If I Could Tell You”)

      2. Kim Kaufman

        Stephanie’s father was a well known Republican. She thinks she’s a rebel now that she’s all go-Dems.

    2. Whine Country

      Sometimes I think that the Clintons have taken James Carville seriously and really do want to come back as the bond market.

      1. Montanamaven

        Yes, Stephanie’s father ran with Goldwater . She is conservative and is one of the reasons why she loves Obama because so is he. Just cuz you’re gay, does not make you a liberal in terms of economic justice. Why isn’t this obvious?
        I despair.

  8. Banger

    The drug court story in the LATimes is, for me, an eye-opener. It is just the sort of thing one would expect in truly authoritarian regimes, i.e., that people are forced to go into and pay for activities like martial arts classes, therapy, or they won’t be able to drive or get good jobs. Imagine going to drug-treatment and all the BS you have to go through in admitting to being an addict because you occasionally smoke pot! It’s like I go to a bar down the street and I’m an alcoholic? WTF?

    This is what troubles me about the drug laws–and I’m someone who believes all drugs should legally be available preferably without prescription (I lack confidence in doctors actually knowing as much as they think they do) despite the obvious dangers. Why? Because it is a fact that drugs have been mainly legal for most of human history until 1914 or 15 and it is an assault of human dignity against all of us to force us to obey the state in what we put or don’t put in our bodies, IMHO.

    1. MtnLife

      Your second paragraph x1000. When I find the “Property of the USA” stamp on my body I’ll think about paying attention to their directives as to what I put in my body. At my last doctors appt I had a greater level of neuro-pharmacological understanding than they did. Why do I need their permission to heal myself?

      1. toldjaso

        It’s possible that your name in Capital Letters on your Social Security card says that you are indeed property of The United States Corporation (rhymes with The Corporation of the City of London and the Corporation of Canada).

    2. toldjaso

      Pause to consider the chief agent behind the “legalization of drugs” for decades.
      No “hedge” here. Ask “Why?” You know there has to be “money” in it, that he’s doing it for GAIN.

  9. David Lentini

    “Clintonism” is Just Another Word for Nothing Left for the Left to Lose

    I wanted to like Andrew Levine’s essay more, but for me it’s another example of how political science has gutted any discourse on politics. (Just like economics has gutted any discussion of life.) By defining so many “-isms” in order to create neat little boxes for every politician, group, and era, Levine offers nothing useful in looking back at the Reagan and Clinton administrations and forward to—groan—Hillary’s turn at ruining the country.

    It seems to me the issue is both simpler and more complex than Levine’s essay can handle, because by hiding the complexity in fancy terms ending with -ism, Levine avoids the real issues we face in trying to preserve our democracy. The fact is that political leaders are human beings, who are full of the all the foibles and failings (and talents) that humans have possessed throughout time. Writers and thinkers up through the late 19th Century did a wonderful job of juxtaposing these conflicting qualities to help us understand the qualities of the people who lead countries, i.e., other people like ourselves. But in the effort to turn everything about the human condition into a “science”, i.e., a set of predictive and therefore prescriptive rules for living, political science effectively replaces humanity with instances of political categories. And thus we’re stuck in the intellectual dead end of the “-ism”.

    As I look back on the period between 1980 and 2000, Clinton is the culmination of the liberal ideal that began taking hold in the 1950s; Reagan was an intermediate stage in that larger social development. The great movement at the end of WWII was towards both personal and economic freedom—the ability to do what you want, when you want to it. The post-war prosperity enabled the rise of social, especially sexual, liberalism as well as a greater demand for economic liberalism. After the great social liberal victories of the ’60s and ’70s, Reagan ushered the economic counterpart, expressed in Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. And much of this was started by Jimmy Carter and the Dixiecrats. Clinton essentiall brought the two ends together—social and economic liberalism in the form of the least regulation. We now living among the ruins.

    But whereas Reagan was arguably little more than a vapid spokesmodel for the angry élites who wanted to end the New Deal (although Reagan was a fan of FDR), the Clintons by all accounts knew or should have known what they were doing and went ahead anyway. Why? Money and power of course, they very thing of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy. For Reagan, you can’t be an evil idiot. For the Clinton’s however, they are the living embodiment of what Chris Hedges so rightly describes as the death of the liberal class. Financial disasters, wars, corruption are all on the conscious agenda with them in their insatiable appetite for power. The issue here is moral vacuity, not philosophy.

    Now that didn’t require the use of any word ending in “-ism”, and it took only four full paragraphs.

    1. JEHR

      I found Liberalism three times and Capitalism once. However, I know what you are saying. Words like these mean whatever the user wants them to mean. I would much rather take stock of what a person or organization does and then describe that behaviour in as many words as it takes. For example, I would describe present-day Capitalism as the use of money to make a profit especially by TBTF banks and big corporations and then I would use Goldman Sachs’s behaviour in the Abacus scandal as exemplary of that description. In that way, the word is used in a precise manner that everyone else can understand.

      1. David Lentini

        Yes, the ‘isms are pernicious. But give me a break too, “Capitalism” was referring to a book title. :-)

    2. Christopher Dale Rogers

      David Sir,

      An excellent critique of that paper – and I concur with you, putting “ISM” after any given word is meaningless and has been since the 1950’s at the latest. its like the lazy use of the ending word “GATE” following the Watergate scandal and demise of Nixon, god even the giving of a blow job now is a “care”, in this instance Lewiskygate, what next for the bastardisation of the English language in this Twitter-era we now find ourselves exposed too – forget 144 letters, why not just 12 or less letters, which equals the average attention span of many of our peers judging by the response to the MAL disaster.

    3. sd

      Reagan was very much evil. Don’t let the doddering old fool image kid you. He destroyed many lives as he aggressively supported and facilitated blacklisting in Hollywood. He destroyed the safety net for the mentally ill in California as governor. He threw the homeless on the streets many of them veterans. The list goes on and on.

      He enjoyed power over others hiding behind an amiable facade. The one and only thing that can truly be said about Reagan is that he was evil to the core.

      1. David Lentini

        Then my comments about Clinton would apply to him too. I wasn’t trying to defend Reagan, but use the popular contrast between him and Clinton to show that either way we shouldn’t be blinded by intellectual abstractions.

        1. sd

          I think its a safe assumption that pretty much anyone who ends up in the Presidents office is some form of sociopath. It’s the degree to which they take pleasure in the pain of others that sets them apart.

    4. Eureka Springs

      Much to agree with, David. But I take issue with your (and so many others) use of “preserving our democracy” in much the same way I agree with your contempt for blanket use of isms.

      What democracy? The one in which the constitution never mentions/uses the word… not even once? The democracy which government utilizes secrecy, secret law, courts, evidence. Mass, as in near total surveillance. The democracy where everything from lobby, press, campaign/candidate/parties, all power originate from the highest bidders…. and everything from the banksters, military, health, counterfeiters, the prisons, the torture chambers, and the determined undermining of sovereignty aka crapification of everything via trade treaties past and present are for profit.

      The democracy where rule of law and reason for endless global war are and have long been a total sham?

      We never had democracy, because we never defined it correctly…. thus the false pretense that we did have it still to this very day perpetuates illusion that it’s something we could restore rather than discuss whether we want to for the first time ever ESTABLISH democracy or not and if we do, what IS democracy, how do we get there.

      The trappings of the unitary executive, the existence of the US Senate, electoral montage, where only two parties are expected to “represent” over 300 million views… all government secrecy, massive global offense rather than able defense, leverage/derivative/counterfeiting, and ownership of both press and government by very few… cannot be addressed as long as we pretend anything we ever had was democracy.

      1. susan the other

        Good points. We conflate elections and voting with democracy without ever defining democracy. Which if we did, we would have to acknowledge that the only way voting is associated with democracy is if it is a direct, referendum vote. Which is then implemented. But we don’t do that.

      2. David Lentini

        I agree with your point about democracy not being defined, and that we need to do that. But I still consider the ills you point to as the products of abuse brought about by the forces I mentioned. The more we stay trapped in our fun house of ‘isms, the more we see our rights fade away. Breaking out of the intellectual cul-de-sac, as I think we wold agree, is key to defining the politics we want.

      3. FederalismForever

        @Eureka Springs. Au contraire! America has become TOO democratic in recent decades, thereby greatly diminishing the quality of America’s political leadership. The fact is that America only became a popular democracy, for all adults, 18 years of age or older, white or black, male or female, who are not convicted felons, in 1972 – after Nixon lowered the voting age to 18 (and after previous movements to expand the suffrage, along with prior efforts to convert the system to “direct” democracy – e.g., the 17th Amendment). It is not a coincidence that so many of the problems David Lentini eloquently describes emerged shortly after 1972. America’s Founding Fathers all had strong reservations about popular democracy. Hamilton hated it. Even Tom Paine expressed some reservations about it. The Founders worried that the populace would be easily manipulated by demagogues – like Reagan and Clinton. Looking at recent American political history, and the generally appalling quality of the leaders that have emerged in both parties during that time, it seems the Founders were correct – the general populace just isn’t very good at recognizing high-level political talent.

        We have seen a small-scale version of this before. The Founders were essentially a privileged and propertied aristocratic elite. But they were immensely talented at political leadership and diplomacy. In the generations that immediately followed, a large scale movement emerged to “democratize” all political positions (at least for white males), especially during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson. As a result, the quality of American political leadership drastically declined. As many historians have noted, it’s hard to find any high-quality political leaders in the decades immediately prior to the Civil War. Lincoln essentially came out of nowhere. If anything, we need to move back in the direction of the Founders’ vision – e.g., by repealing the 17th Amendment and restoring the “aristocratic” Senate, preferably with Senators who are highly educated and who can do things like pick out Afghanistan on a map (unlike 50% of the American population). Rather than bemoan the fact that the Founders were a quasi aristocracy, we should instead try to re-create the conditions that allowed such a talented aristocracy to emerge (but this time without being limited to white males, etc.).

        1. MtnLife

          While I agree with most of what you said (not sure about your solution, I’d need some more fleshing out on that) I think the issue of the public choosing bad politicians is actually two-fold. There will always be a segment of the population who either doesn’t care or lacks the critical thinking skills necessary to make an informed decision. That aside, how much is the public “choosing” these leaders? Given the options of Crappy Leader A and Crappy Leader B most people will “choose” whichever one they best identify with or feel will screw them over the least and not be in the least bit concerned how choice A and B got in front of them or even why there aren’t choices C, D, E, and F. I have a hard time trusting the motivations of anyone who spends thousands of dollars just to put in a job application, millions on the interview, in an attempt to get a job where the salary doesn’t cover any of that. Under this framework we are supposed to find good people?

          1. hunkerdown

            “Oh, if only we could find a man of strong and stout heart”

            I laugh derisively at you for asking a question that’s not even the wrong question. The question should be, how do we withdraw their mandate when (not if) they do go bad?

            Representative democracy is a delusional religious cult. Stop making us reenact your second childhood and get into the 21st century already.

            1. MtnLife

              That’s funny. I laugh at those who only want a response to a problem not a preventative measure. While it’s good to know how to remove the fox from your hen house it’s best if it never gets in.

        2. hunkerdown

          Your entire argument is premised on Burkean conservatism — that those who display the most self-discipline ought to be granted the most rights — which I happen to reject as a ready-to-wear pretext for authoritarianism and, as here, an excuse for shameless quislings to sell their fantasies of nonconsensual D/s as public policy.

          No, thank you. The ancien regime needs to fall.

          1. James Levy

            Hunkerdown, I’m with you. What those two above are saying is if we just took the votes away from the niggers and the women, why, things would be just dandy around here! Well, fuck them and the horses they rode in on. I’ve got a Ph.D. and am a member of MENSA–perhaps only people with my intelligence should have the vote, and Federalism should lose his; since I’m obviously smarter and better educated, why should he have a say in things! Or, we could go back to slave-owning white guys being the only people running the Republic. Ah, the good old days. Assclowns.

            1. FederalismForever

              NO, I am NOT saying that! With all due respect, your comment is the typical cheap shot whereby even the slightest suggestion that we examine whether unrestrained popular direct democracy is a good idea actually is a secret “coded” hankering for the Confederacy and white male supremacy. If you truly are MENSA-worthy, you wouldn’t resort to such low-grade ad hominem attacks.

              The prominent Revolutionary Era historian Gordon Wood wrote a book called Revolutionary Characters, about eight of the Founding Fathers, in which he praises all of their great accomplishments, warts and all. But, then he ends his book as follows: “In the end nothing illustrates better the transforming power of the American Revolution than the way its intellectual and political leaders [i.e., the Founders], that remarkable group of men, contributed to their own demise.” See, Wood thinks it’s GREAT that America has become more and more democratic since the Founding, even though it means that it is all but impossible (as Wood acknowledges) for a political class of similar talent and skill to emerge today. All I’m asking is, why is this so great? I’m not hankering for a return of the Confederacy, I just long for a time when America’s ruling elite were smart and competent. And I don’t trust America’s ADD, twittering masses to recognize what we really need in our leaders today. Look at who they’ve been voting into office these past few decades! We’ve got serious issues! We need a political class of the same skill and level of talent as our Founders – and I really don’t care whether they are white, male, or whatever. I just want talented leaders!

            2. MtnLife

              Wow. Ad hominen and strawman in the same comment. Most of what FF said was fact. Suffrage has expanded. The Founding Fathers were worried about total democracy which is why we have the electoral college. Lincoln was a rare bright spot. I do agree with all those statements. I did not place them in a good or bad category. What I was saying, if you actually read my comment (which given your history of replies you read lines 1 and 2 only), is that we have a horrible system for finding anyone capable who is there for the right reasons.

        3. lambert strether

          “Highly educated….” You mean like with economics degrees and prizes from the Sveriges Riksbank?

          1. FederalismForever

            Definitely not! These days a “highly educated” politician means being able to do better than: (i) scoring higher than 894 out of 899 in your graduating class (McCain), (ii) managing to publishing at least one work of original legal scholarship (Obama); (iii) getting admitted to a better school than Boston College (Kerry), University of Delaware (Joe Biden – 506 out of 688 in his class), University of Miami (Rubio), Miami University in Oxford (Paul Ryan) or University of Idaho (Sarah Palin).

            Perhaps a glance at some of the giants from the Progressive Era can help – e.g., entering Harvard Law at 18 and graduating with the highest GPA in the history of the school (Louis Brandeis; (ii) writing 17 books before age 40, including a leading treatise on Naval Warfare (Teddy Roosevelt); (iii) authoring a leading treatise in political science at age 28 Woodrow Wilson), etc.

    5. Jim Haygood

      In this post-ism era, -ism can be appended as an ironic mockery.

      Isms used to be taken very damned seriously: communism, for instance, and anticommunism. Those two were good for decades of sparring, and trillions spent on the Cold War.

      Clintonism, in contrast, doesn’t have any actual followers. Just clients, concerned about the ROI of their political investments. (Edema of the cankles is a significant mortality risk, especially whilst jetting about.) As the principal tract of Hillaryism asserts, It takes a Potemkin village.

      1. hunkerdown

        Maybe Kissinger has been due for an update for a while: “There are no permanent interests, just permanent clients.”

    6. Carolinian

      Sounds like you want to blame the Boomers–dare I say Boomerism?–and I can’t necessarily disagree. My generation grew up on a constant media and educational diet of “freedom.” Of course this has always been around, but during the Cold War it acted as good counter propaganda to the Russians. The result was idealistic support for things like Civil Rights and sexual freedom but one shouldn’t underestimate the degree to which the Vietnam anti-war movement was about the draft. The MIC then learned their lesson and in the future you would be able to “do your own thing” by joining the military voluntarily–or not.

      At any rate it turned out with the financial mess that some rules are necessary. Also the Boomers are fading except those like the Clintons who don’t know when to leave. Here’s hoping a new generation will do better. But here’s also hoping that freedom thing sticks around. For awhile the Sixties, early Seventies were the Boomers finest hour.

        1. toldjaso

          His tight terror handler was the criminal Zbig. With the RIIA’s connivance, he could say, like Christine Lagarde, “I do as I’m told” (beginning of her “numerology” speech to the National Press Club on 15 January 2014). Hear John Coleman on how and why a peanut farmer from Georgia got the top job.

      1. David Lentini

        I’m not trying to focus on the Boomers in any way; they’re (an important) part of the whole cultural picture, but just a part. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about Mad Men is the portrayal of the pre-boomers as being just as bad, if more discreet, than their children and younger siblings.

        And point taken about the Dixiecrats. I wasn’t trying lump Carter with them, but wanted to point out that many of the economic policies we associate with Reagan started in the Carter administration and were supported by the Southern Democrats.

        1. Carolinian

          Fair enough. I’ll just say then that the boomer idea is my own take on this. While I also enjoy Mad Men, I do think the show’s tour of the Sixties is more than a tad superficial (producer Weiner is obviously a lot more interested in the Cheeveresque Fifties). The rise of the boomers in the Sixties was a sea change and there was a definite generational difference with their parents. Revolution was in the air even if it was often just middle class kids playing at revolution. To understand the Clintons you have to know that they saw themselves as very much a part of this generation right up to the Fleetwood Mac theme song. The problem of course is that they shared some of the less savory aspects of my generation including the ism that Levine–in truth a lame Counterpunch article–left out: narcissism. The Clintons are always looking out for number one and their compromises with unsavory characters–rationalized as necessary to have the power to do good–look in the rearview mirror more like complete lack of principle.

          Anyway, it may all be moot. Hillary is a pallid politician who is just as likely as not to fail at becoming President.

        2. toldjaso

          Mad Men was about the privileged PR.AD wizards of Gotham, the Yankee brainwashing elite. Best not to generalize.

      2. lambert strether

        Show me the Boomer (or Millennial, or Gen X) lobbying office on K Street and I’ll take it generational analysis seriously. Until then, it’s an empty signifiet….

        1. Carolinian

          K Street?? Wha?? I thought we were talking about the Clintons, their worldview and personality.

          And while generational analysis may mean little now–I’m still shocked at the twenty somethings I’d meet who would say what a cool guy Reagan was–that certainly wasn’t true then. So, to expand my point, the Clintons came along during a period when the old rules were being discarded. They carried on this revolutionary impulse once in power but instead applied it to the rules which shouldn’t be discarded. Power does corrupt. Now we are back in a more conservative period when young people grouse about the “establishment” but don’t seem to do much about it. For whatever reason this is very different from then….a “generational” difference I’d say. Or, to put it another way, people from different time periods do grow up in different social/political environments.

    7. toldjaso

      But they’ve got to give it to her because she knows too much and has “earned” it. The only alternative is that funny tea dispensed off-sides in London. As PuppetPrez she can bring MORE GAIN to her Masters, she’s a proven commodity. Like Christine Lagarde, she’ll deliver: “I do what I’m told.” Rough country manners.

    8. FederalismForever

      @David Lentini. I like your analysis. I hope you post here more often. There is much to be mined from your point about the post WWII movement to personal and economic freedom. This was the group that would embrace the “Me Generation” and “greed is good” and the “gospel of prosperity”, etc. – exactly the kind of people who would elect leaders like Reagan and Clinton, or launch a costly war without paying for it.

      1. toldjaso

        And how they were seduced and screwed by Wall Street Week and “retail brokers”. PT Barnum said it best.

      2. lambert strether

        Yes, if only good people were the only ones who had the franchise! I’m not surprised to see the noxious weed of anti-democracy growing in the soil of sloppiness like generational analysis. “The group,” forsooth.

  10. Chief Bromden

    The WaPo Gaza controlled narrative needs an edit: “The death toll in Gaza soared to more than 1,000 “””PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS””” as bodies were pulled from the rubble during the 12-hour truce that top diplomats urged Israel and Hamas to extend.” – Just in case anyone might be confused…

    The rocket fire graphic in this piece is of particular interest. According to the graphic 1,632 Hamas rockets have passed through the Iron Dome defense since July 7….”most landed in open space; some in populated areas”. That’s one hell of a lot of rockets to hit with no Israeli casualties. By God, I’d call that a damn miracle. What are they using, roman candles?

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers

      I think you’ll find they are using firecrackers, or as we call them in the UK, bangers, they are usually about three inches in length and can cause some physical damage to a human, such as a severe burn, blinding or blowing off fingers, but that’s about all. No doubt the Palestinian scum have the most powerful catapults in the world, many of them manufactured in Roman times. I wonder what our Zionist chums will have to say about this, however, the worst fact is the small detail that the three murdered Israeli students weren’t actually killed by anyone associated with Hamas – but hey, why let facts get in the way of genocide!

      1. Chief Bromden

        I reckon the Zionist wing nuts wanted to step on the ethnic cleansing accelerator.

        “Repeated inconsistencies in Israeli descriptions of the situation have sparked debate over whether Israel wanted to provoke Hamas into a confrontation. Israeli intelligence is also said to have known that the boys were dead shortly after they disappeared, but to have maintained public optimism about their safe return to beef up support from the Jewish diaspora.

        As Donnison said, we can only hope that the three-teens pretext is broadly examined, not just in Israeli and Palestinian public life, but in the American media. It is hardly the first time that a false story about endangered security has been used to justify Israeli violence, from the Lavon affair in Egypt in the 50s to Moshe Dayan’s confession about provoking Syrian attacks that were used to precipitate the Six Day war. The only good news is that many in the west are now seeing through the tactic and beginning to question the veracity of Israeli government sources.”

        1. toldjaso

          What does the evidence proclaim? “They.are.monsters.delighting in genocide, killing for sport. with relish.”

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Depth of Gaza devastation becomes clear after cease-fire WaPo

    It is impossible to quantify or contain the outrage I feel at what israel is being permitted to do, and the psychopathic justifications it is being permitted put forth using the American MSM megaphone.

    Netanyahu is again making the rounds of the Sunday morning shows, spewing his demented pathology for the bootlicking “journalists” and “experts.” There is, of course, no Palestinian counter argument. “Balance” is unnecessary, apparently, where israel is concerned.

    His twisted screed this morning involves an end to the “conflict” by a complete “demilitarization” of the Palestinians. Otherwise, how can israel ALLOW the CONCRETE necessary to repair the damage that HAMAS has caused into Gaza. It will only be used to rebuild the “tunnels” used in HAMAS’ campaign to wipe israel off the map.

    That this sorry excuse for a human being is being given a platform on American television should be a source of profound shame for every American. Maybe they’ll get around to at least CONSIDERING being ashamed when the get home from “church” where they have spent an hour imploring “god” to “deliver us from evil.”

    1. optimader

      Because War is unthinkable, Netanyahu is leaving no stone (or brick) unturned in Gaza to preserve Peace.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Think of the shame for US ambassador Keith Harper, who represents the U.S. at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This week he cast the sole opposing vote against a UN inquiry into human rights abuses in Gaza.

      Harper is a member of the Cherokee nation of Oklahoma. His people got marched there from the east coast in the Trail of Tears. Now this proud native American has prostituted his conscience to Israel, refusing aid to another oppressed people. It is one sad spectacle.

      1. fresno dan

        the irony
        maybe I’ve seen greater irony, but I really can’t remember when.

        1. toldjaso

          More than one “American Indian” heavy has joined the enemy in “Brotherly Love” yes, that’s Freemasonry the tie that binds and “It’s a secret.” Might explain the “irony” here.

      2. optimader

        “Think of the shame for US ambassador Keith Harper, who represents the U.S. at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This week he cast the sole opposing vote against a UN inquiry into human rights abuses in Gaza.”

        Why ever would a Z-nst Mandarin EVER oppose such an investigation? Would this UN Council not be the ideal forum to generate sympathy and encouragement for his patrons noble efforts in Gaza??

        I guess Mr. Harper has a bit of a crisis of confidence in the righteousness of his patron’s convictions, OR he feels the UN’s Human Rights Council is not a legitimate forum to investigate claims of human rights violations, in which case, by extension he does not believe in the UN

        For either reason he should resign. I think I am going to send his office an email. At best he surely isn’t representing the interests of the Country who he swore to uphold, (at least the one he swore to uphold in public).

      3. FederalismForever

        @Jim Haygood. Outstanding comment! A truly devastating observation!

        One of the things I most despise about America’s alliance with Israel is that it has made a mockery of all of the best ideals that led to the creation of supra-national organizations like the UN. It was people like William Howard Taft and his International Arbitration League and Woodrow Wilson and his League of Nations who played a role in the precursor organizations to the UN. It is easy to mock Wilson for his excessive idealism, but for me at least there is something admirable about the idea of establishing a way for countries to resolve disputes without going to war. This is American idealism at its best. Israel’s repeated and flagrant violations of UN resolutions (notwithstanding that Israel owes its very existence to the UN!) makes a mockery of the whole system. When America repeatedly aligns itself with Israel, this rubs off on America too. (And don’t get me started about how America’s wink-wink cover of Israel’s nuclear weapons program causes America to look like a hypocrite when it seeks to restrain other countries’ nuclear ambitions. With friends like Israel, who needs enemies?)

        1. toldjaso

          Kidding? He took his marching orders from Col. House. And later he did feel shame for how he’d sold his nation down the river, if his written words mean anything.

          1. FederalismForever

            I hope you’re not basing that on House’s diaries, which are preposterously self-serving and unreliable.

  12. Jeff N

    during one of my brief forays into golf, I popped a guy in the head (50 yards away) with my ball… he was OK; didn’t get knocked unconscious or seem concussed. an ambulance came out to check him out. still, it was really scary and I cried during my drive home.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Other than the crying and remorse, that’s exactly what Dick Cheney said about shooting his “friend” in the face while hunting tame quail.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers

        Those quail can be damned dangerous little critters, particularly if their name begins with “Dan”.

    2. scraping_by

      Well, you’ve given him a good story to tell at the nineteenth hole. You won’t show up too well in it, though.

  13. Abe, NYC

    What are separatists in East Ukraine dying for?

    I’ve been trying to find an answer for the past several days. I understand what Ukrainians fight for, but not the insurgents. So today I ran this question by someone in my family who was born and raised in Donetsk and moved to the USA in his late twenties. He stays in touch with his friends there, and is very pro-Russian, which until recently didn’t prevent him from being pro-Ukrainian too.

    He says what his friends tell him is pretty much in line with the Russian TV. They hate the government in Kiev and believe they are struggling with the fascists. They say most of the fighters are locals, there aren’t that many Russian arrivals (but none of his friends are active insurgents, so I doubt they have seen a lot of the fighting troops). But what are their objectives, what are they killing and dying for? He admitted there was no clear answer. They say they fight for autonomy, which I reminded was promised to them by Ukraine, but apparently that’s not enough.

    It’s clear that when these events started many of the people felt their way of life was under threat, and many (but apparently not the majority) were hoping to join Russia, which has a much higher standard of living. There was never strong loyalty to Kiev among ethnic Russians living there. [It is important though to remember how small the armed insurgency was when it started. In early May, Strelkov/Girkin recorded a video appeal for volunteers, where he complained that in a region of 4.5 million people he failed to recruit even a thousand fighters. Either his appeal was successful, or most of his fighters came from Russia. Meanwhile, almost all of the insurgents’ political and military leadership are Russian citizens.]

    By now, it should be obvious that the initial hopes have been squashed. It is very unlikely that Donetsk or Lugansk are going to join Russia or that Russian Army will come to the rescue of the insurgents. When the fighting stops, at most they will have some kind of special status like Transnistria but even that is unlikely. I cannot see any goals that could justify the war because I cannot see any benefits at all that continued fighting can bring to the residents.

    The worst is that by now even for Putin it is very difficult to stop the fighting. The real power is in the hands of the warlords, who have successfully blackmailed Putin into sending reinforcements by issuing appeals to the Russian public – which, whipped into chauvinist frenzy, would not tolerate any alternative.

    In my view, responsibility for the thousands of deaths in Eastern Ukraine is overwhelmingly Putin’s. The worst he did was encouraging the idea of secession and armed insurgency, which was unthinkable even a year ago. That was the original sin, which of course he compounded by arming and supporting the insurgents. His pretext for supporting the insurgency – protecting ethnic Russians – looks cynical in the extreme given that now Russians are well protected everywhere in Ukraine except Donetsk and Lugansk.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Its a small and funny old world, my daughters one friend has just been collected by her father, who just so happens to be a Ukrainian – regrettably he’s not the most intelligent of folk to chat about this issue with and he and his Russian drinking colleague have fallen out a little over the Ukrainian crisis. That said, the closest comparison one can think of is that of Ireland, which in many ways mirrors the Ukraine presently, i.e., a significant non-indiginous population with loyalties elsewhere and a majority with loyalty to Kiev, but not necessarily the present post-coup leadership – so it really is a toxic chemical mixture with a whole trainload of historical luggage.

      That said, and it all powers involved wish to retain the current Ukrainian boarders, the most obvious solution is a “federation”, a federation that could also remove the thorn of the Crimea, which if Putin desired and the Russian Duma, could also become part of a sovereign Federal Ukrainian state. Regrettably, instead of level heads, we have fascists and geopolitical games running the show, with the USA/EU/NATO taking a leading role. As it stands, Russia is not taking the Kiev/USA baiting, which essentially is the end game of the neocons, namely get the Russians to intervene in the disputed territories so that NATO forces can ride to the rescue with UN sanctioning – just a shame that Russia and China refuse to play ball on this occasion, which means this is a “great power” game and its the little people who suffer, in this instance most of the Ukrainian population, regardless of their ethnic origin – AND FOR WHAT END I ASK?

      1. Abe, NYC

        Apt Ireland analogy, which I somehow haven’t thought of before. There are so many parallels indeed. However, my understanding is that British (English?) chauvinism has been in decline since at least the Boer War. Not so with Russian chauvinism, which was briefly suppressed between 1918-1930 until it was revived by Stalin and thanks to recent events is now stronger than ever in living memory.

        I disagree on Crimea. The only way Russia can voluntarily return Crimea in the foreseeable future, is for Ukraine to join Russia in a new Soviet Union. This is unlikely to happen. A more feasible option is for Ukraine to use the same trick as Russia did: wait patiently until Russia collapses once again (very likely in my view, due to the surge of mindless chauvinism in a multi-ethnic empire) and get it back without much fighting. This may take decades but they need to take a long view.

        As for federalization, Ukrainians see it, with reason, as Russia’s attempt to subjugate its Eastern regions. That may still be the war’s outcome but is this what the blood is being shed for?

        There is no going back to status quo ante bellum. At Maidan, speaker after speaker declared they were not opposed to Russia, only to Putin and his policies. But by now Ukrainians have seen how Russians at large have treated their country, and the political and economic relationships have been ruined for the foreseeable future.

        1. OIFVet

          How long have you lived in the US? It seems to me you have swallowed too much pop psychology and now believe that if you wish something hard enough it will come true. Keep dreaming about Russia’s imminent collapse from within, it ain’t gonna happen as long as Russia’s “liberuls” are marginalized. And Russians, unlike Americans, have long memory for history, so it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. That’s really why all the Putin hate exists really, those Russkie liberuls came oh-so-close to destroying Russia on our behalf, until Putin took charge. But no, the Maidanites do not hate Russia, just Putin for saving it. Nothing better than half-truths to conceal the larger truth, eh?

          1. Abe, NYC

            I was talking about something which may be decades away, you consider that “imminent”? George Kennan foretold a collapse of the USSR in 1945. It took 46 years, this time I think it’s going to be faster but with oil at $100+ there is no imminent danger. Putin saved Russia in the way that Stalin saved USSR: short-term victory leading to long-term decline.

            FYI, I hardly watch American media anyway. And with your attacks on “liberuls” and such, do you realize you are channeling the Russian version of neoconservatism? It’s practically a carbon copy of Dick Cheney’s.

            1. OIFVet

              STOP selling the fiction that Russian liberals are in the mold of “liberalism” as Americans understand it. What the fuck, do you think you are talking to the Fox News demographic or something? And Russian “neoconservatism”?! Un-fucking-believable…

              1. OIFVet

                PS ” I hardly watch American media anyway.” Coulda fooled me, what with repeating the same talking points almost verbatim…

                1. Abe, NYC

                  Then there is some overlap between Fox News and objective reality. But you are repeating the Pravda – the original thing – almost verbatim, what am I supposed to make of it?

                  1. OIFVet

                    Your reality is anything but objective. You have offered ample proof of that. And I am not about to run away from the truth just because Pravda happens to go with it for a change.

        2. toldjaso

          Will you be joining one of NGO-funded mobs to overthrow Putin, or are you already on the payroll?

        1. Doug Terpstra

          The Wikipedia link does not support your argument. Did you read it or cherry-pick it?

          “My first presidential trip will be to Donbas”, where armed pro-Russian rebels had declared the separatist republics Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic and control a large part of the region. poroshenko also vowed to continue the military operations by the Ukrainian government forces to end the armed insurgency claiming “The anti-terrorist operation cannot and should not last two or three months. It should and will last hours.” He compared the armed pro-Russian rebels to Somali pirates.”

          Furthermore, he declated Ukrainian to be tje sole official language and his token gesture toward decentralization never made it out of Parliament. Try again, Abe.

          1. Abe, NYC

            Poroshenko offered a peace plan, declared a unilateral cease-fire, gave assurances of the status of Russian language, moved towards decentralization. Obviously if you decided that the conflict is about evil NATO terrorists trying to exterminate Russian freedom fighters, you will dismiss this as empty gestures. That’s fine. But I still don’t understand why then things are just fine in Kharkov.

            1. OIFVet

              Once upon a time a certain US Secretary of State gave verbal assurances too. Leaving aside the fact that the “assurances” did not offer federalization, Poroshenko also would not negotiate. The simple fact is that this so-called “cease fire” was in substance no different that the tactical pause in ops during Operation Iraqi Freedom. We had overextended our supply lines and needed to consolidate them and resupply before we resumed the advance. Same with Poro’s “cease fire”, the Ukies used it to consolidate and ressuply, and to also reposition/reinforce their lines, which gave them a huge advantage once they resumed combat ops. It was only their ingrained incompetence that allowed the NDF to withstand the assault. So go sell the fiction of Poro’s “cease fire” to the gullible and to the uninformed. Some of us have relevant experience and we know better than to buy what you are trying to sell.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Abe, I think your POV represents both a framing problem and a normalcy bias. This leads you to asking the wrong questions and consequently you arrive at the wrong conclusions.

      Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers:

      – are reviled by a Ukrainian regime that hates anything Russian,

      – and face harsh IMF austerity and much higher energy costs if they remain in Ukraine.

      Thus, a better question might be why haven’t MORE people and regions joined with the Separatists? IMO, the answer is NOT that they have any love for Ukraine but that years of abuse by Oligarchs have made them passive. I’d guess that that is changing, and that we will see more resistance in the winter as austerity and the cold kick in . Furthermore, if Putin is pulling the strings as much as you suppose, then why hasn’t he stirred up trouble in those other areas?

      Lastly, Devolution is not Federalism. Devolution is a weak form of ‘autonomy’ such that the people would still be subject to discrimination and austerity. And Russia has proposed not only Federalism but Ukrainian neutrality. The US/Ukraine have rejected that because they clearly wish for Ukraine to join NATO.

      H O P

      1. Abe, NYC


        Ethnic Russians and Russian speakers: – are reviled by a Ukrainian regime that hates anything Russian,

        In short, that is not true. There was certainly a lot of resentment of Russia on the part of Western Ukrainians, but even the capital Kiev is a Russian-speaking city, and Russian remained widely spoken in many if not most parts of Ukraine. But as I wrote, it’s likely that by now the hatred of Russia has enveloped Ukraine thanks to recent events.

        Federalism or not, the status of Russian language is certainly going to be preserved, and I assure you that austerity measures is not why people are shedding their blood in Donetsk while their Russian brethren in Kharkov go about their lives.

        At this point, Ukraine would be crazy not to wish to join NATO, after its closest neighbor stabbed it in the back in violation of its own guarantees of territorial integrity. But I doubt this is going to happen, more likely it will be used as a negotiating chip.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Abe, you are full of contradictions. You recognize that Western Ukrainians resent Russians but you play down their distain; you recognize that the Separatists are mostly locals but you assert that they have no cause to talk up arms, laying the blame for their doing so at Putin’s feet. And why should we believe your view that the Russian language is not threatened; that the coming/continuing Ukrainian depression is not a factor; and that Russians are ‘protected’ everywhere except Dunbas (what about Odessa)? You provide no evidence/links.

          YOU asked what is motivating the Separatist but as I wrote above, you are bound to draw a blank if you have ‘bought into’ the skewed US-govt frame of reference, and you can’t judge the residents of the area using Western standards of normalcy. Perhaps the Separatists were slow to get started but that doesn’t mean that the people don’t have real grievances. It seems that you just don’t want to acknowledge that because it is counter to your desire to demonize Putin.

          1. OIFVet

            It is hard to convey just how much some natives of former Soviet republics hate Russia and whoever happens to be in charge of it, and just how much this hatred warps their thinking. The closest comparison is probably the Clinton Derangement Syndrome or its Obama variant. And so it is with our not-so-honest Abe. His is pure, unadulterated hate of Russia, its cultural identity, its pride, its strength, its potential, and those who maintain them and refuse to sell them out so that the West can destroy her once and for all. Make no mistake, the destruction of Russia is what him and his ilk want; when he says that Russia will fall apart he describes his fondest wish, which is no different than that Zbig described in “The Grand Chessboard”. He is not interested in a realist approach since it acknowledges anathema such as spheres of influence and seeks a mutually acceptable accommodation. His is a neocon stance where the only acceptable outcome is Russia’s destruction and partition into its component parts. Sure, he does make some vague gestures of disapproval of neocons, but it is nothing more than an attempt to dress his extremism in the respectable facade of moderation. And he is actually pretty good at this charade. Still, when his lengthier posts are stripped down to their bare essence, extreme hatred and desire to destroy are all that remains.

            1. Doug Terpstra

              This sounds right — Putin derangement syndrome. A lot of Soviet baggage gets dragged into this. Abe wants to pull Poland, Chechnya, even Siberia and China in to somehow demonstrate Putin’s perfidy in Ukraine, even though with the exception of the peaceful annexation of Crimea, Putin has been surprisingly hands off, even while the West is furiously meddling.

              1. Abe, NYC

                I’m just as disgusted with Russian imperialist adventures as I was with the Iraqi invasion or Israel’s incursions in Lebanon or Gaza. But apparently my mistake is that I should only be outraged when it’s the US or Israel that embark on another killing spree – when Russians are doing the killing that’s perfectly kosher.

          2. Abe, NYC

            The US is full of contradictions and resentment but I’m not seeing Texans arming themselves with weapons supplied by Putin or Castro and going to war with California. When I see a repression of Russians or Russian language in Kharkov, next door from Donetsk and with a very similar population, or when Kiev stops speaking Russian, I will agree this is a real problem in Ukraine. As for standards of normalcy, I do find it abnormal that deaths of thousands of people in a civil war fueled by a neighboring country, can be justified.

            My frame of reference is based on my knowledge of the region, having grown up in the USSR and been to both Russia and Ukraine many times before and after its collapse. The real problem is finding reliable news sources, for which I mostly use the remaining independent Russian media with no loyalty to Kiev. Official Russian news are even far more disgusting than US-sanctioned propaganda.

            1. Lambert Strether

              Yeah, what a mess. Guess we shouldn’t have sponsored the coup, then. Oopsie. Still, Joe Biden’s son got a job out of it, so the whole episode isn’t a dead loss.

            2. Jackrabbit

              Your spin is getting a bit desperate,

              Americans are already armed and American contradictions and regional differences have not reached any kind of breaking point. So this point is rather irrelevant.

              The Separatists are not aggressors intent on killing people so as to prevail in a civil war and take control of the government. They are defending their territory. Your attempt to blame them for “thousands dead” is sensational nonsense.

              You say that you are disgusted with imperialist adventures but you can’t see the blatant US imperial/neocon involvement in Ukraine? Instead, you seek to paint any local response as illegitimate and any response from Russia as imperialist. Sounds rather like exceptionalism nonsense.

              1. Abe, NYC

                This point is quite relevant. Regional differences are no justification for a civil war either in the US or Ukraine, much less a war encouraged and funded by a former metropoly which did all it could that the country did reach a breaking point.

                I wrote about the US involvement in Ukraine below.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Along with most of your declaration, including the ahistorical understanding of the artificial construct known as Ukraine, much of which was part of Russia until the 50’s (incl Crimea), the most comical is the concept of original sin.

      One pictures Ukraine as an immaculate creation, a garden of Eden, endowed by Nuland, Pyatt, NED, CIA, and IMF with abundance, goodness, truth and eternal life. Then into this paradise, which had lasted since the beginning of creation (or at least two weeks), slithered Putin without reason or warning, with his imperial ambitions and his self-righteous sense of indispensable exceptionalism, “invaded and siezed” Crimea, with wanton violence and genocide (okay, just a little embellishment), … and thus came the fall of humanity into depravity and perdition…. unless, unless the one true savior, the US can redeem it from the clutches of evil.

      It’s such an epic chilling narrative, and that’s before Russian artillery downed a civilian airliner in order to burnish its evil reputation.

      1. Abe, NYC

        Whatever. Ukraine is as artificial as Poland or, arguably, Russia itself. The Chinese have their own understanding of historical justice, under which a large part of Siberia should be theirs. Putin made it much likelier that this particular version of historical justice shall eventually prevail.

        1. toldjaso

          They need a subtler propagandist than you for the NC commentariat “market”. Too heavy-handed.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Fine, we can circle the globe with similar diversions from Ukraine, going back centuries versus decades. Polish separatists may press their own claims; Palestinians too, but we’re talking about Ukraine and why you can’t fathom that ethnic Russians might prefer reunification with Russia rather than submit to the tender mercies of neo-Nazi fascists and the neoliberal IMF. Saying other countries borders have changed too has marginal relevance to the plight of Ukrainian separatists or to your question. Maybe they don’t want to share the fate of Palestinians. That can’t be so hard to grasp, unless you’ve quaffed too much US Kool-aid.

          1. Abe, NYC

            Oh, I can understand just fine why ethnic Russians want to join Russia (in fact I wrote about that in my post) even though I believe the real fascists are in Kremlin not Kiev. But that’s not the point. As I recall, when ethnic Chechens wanted independence, Russia drowned them in their own blood, fighters and civilians alike – that’s how Russia treats attempts to change its own borders when it’s not aggrandizement. Now they are so very appalled by Ukrainians’ attempts to keep what’s left of their country intact.

        3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          I could be wrong, but only if the Chinese claimed to be Mongols would they be able to press a claim to Siberia. In the 13th Century, the Mongols “stole” all of Asia and Eastern Europe. They conquered the Rus who inhabited what included Siberia, at the time. The following occupation spawned the cultural divisions between Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus. Moscow (a tribute-collector for the Mongols, positioned at a major hub of the Mongol Empire road system), subsequently stole it all back from the Mongols.

    4. Banger

      The insurgents are fighting because the balance of power and basic modus vivendi was upset by a Western sponsored coup that has been in the works for some time. What you are missing is the U.S. part of this situation and its pattern of spreading chaos everywhere whether it is the Middle East, Central Asia or Eastern Europe. The rebels claim they are afraid of Nazis in Kiev–reading Poroshenko’s pronouncements I would say he is, indeed, a re-incarnation of Bandera otherwise he would not use the sort of rhetoric he uses would he? I’m sure he would unleash a pogrom if he could but my guess is that the U.S. moderate it–still how are the Easterners to know that? The U.S. has had nothing but a destructive foreign policy since 2001 in particular.

      1. Abe, NYC

        I’m not at all sure of the US role in this situation. I don’t believe for a second the CIA can start a revolution – if it were so, Morales for example wouldn’t be in power in Bolivia. Maidan was the reaction of an outraged public at a corrupt and incompetent government which attempted to sell the country out to its former colonial master. It is quite possible however that the US did play a role in the coup that brought down Yanukovych just after the opposition got what it wanted, i.e. an early election which practically ensured its return to power. Craig Murray put it best, I’ve already quoted this a couple of times here.

        The problem is that both the left and right have again, equal but opposite motives for believing Nuland’s bombast about the extent of America’s influence on events. I have been in this game. You can’t start a revolution in another country. You can affect it at the margins.

        A military coup you certainly can start. One thing we don’t really know nearly enough about is what happened at the end, when Yankovich had to flee. The Maidan protestors would never have caused a government to fall which retained full control of its army. The army can fail the rulers in two ways. First is a revolutionary movement among normal soldiers – the French revolution model. Second is where the troops remain disciplined but follow their officers in a military coup. The latter is of course a CIA speciality. More evidence is needed, but if this is the second model, it is unusual for it not to result in military control of government. Egypt is the obvious current example of a CIA backed coup.

        As regards Nazis or ultra-nationalists in Ukraine: they certainly exist, they polled at a whopping 1.5% of the popular vote in the most recent election. They influence is somewhat greater than this number would indicate but I highly doubt it is anywhere near the extent of Russian ultra-nationalism. In recent years, not a month passes without another report of a Russian mob beating up (sometimes killing) a bunch of retailers from Caucasus or Central Asia and destroying their shops or stalls. But I can’t recall even one such report from Ukraine.

        1. Abe, NYC

          And to pre-empt your reply: what happened in Odessa was that two violent mobs collided, which resulted in a tragedy that shocked the city and Ukraine at large. Who sponsored the Ukrainian mob, and who sponsored the pro-Russian one, is more or less clear.

          1. Banger

            Which the U.S. media largely ignored. No, I wasn’t going to mention Odessa. Particular incidents aren’t the issue–it is the constituencies the current gov’t is addressing and serving that is the problem. Even if the rebellion is put down there will be constant instability in Ukraine–this is perhaps why Putin is attempting to keep things a little bit cool. Yes, we can both agree that Russia is helping the rebels maintain their ability to fight etc. But Russian troops are not likely to move into the area unless real ethnic cleansing begins which the Kiev regime has threatened or it could be read as threatening, i.e., confiscating property of rebels etc.–depends who you consider “rebels” as to what property gets confiscated.

        2. Banger

          Abe, you have interesting arguments and I won’t answer everything but the pattern, in recent years, has not been to overthrow all governments that the CIA doesn’t like. That would be pointless–there are two requirements in their thinking: 1) the government must be vulnerable because of existing religious or ethnic divisions; and 2) the country must have some deeper strategic value. Morales is not important. Chavez was important and certainly coups attempts were made there but Venezeula was not particularly important–it produced oil but was happy to take part in the marketplace and caused no big waves in the world despite Chavez’s intentions.

          Ukraine is important because the U.S. has, since WWII, considered Russia a rival and a dangerous rival for obvious reasons. The U.S. general strategic policy is to eliminate all rivals or potential rivals to establish full-spectrum dominance througout the world this has two big virtues; 1) it gives a purpose to policy-makers and fulfills the dominant and official ideology of American Exceptionalism; and 2) it enriches the National Security State monetarily as well as keeps it on top of the pyramid of power within the USG.

          I’m sure U.S. policy-makers no more care about the fate of Urkainians East or West than they do about the fate of Libyans, Iraqis, Syrians, Afghanis or anywhere else they lay their paws on. This should be glaringly obvious. What was the goal in Libya? Chaos. What was the goal in Iraq? Obviously, chaos if you really follow the different stages of the War and Occupation. What is the Goal in Syria? Chaos, like Iraq. What is the regional goal? Tribal warfare to keep the local U.S. dependencies in power as dominant states, Saudia Arabia and Israel. One is a radically religious state, the other is a moderately religious state–Israel has been a largely secular state until recent years where it seems to be drifting into a religion-dominated state.

          1. Abe, NYC

            There’s too much uncertainty and too many theories over these events. If the goal in Libya, Iraq, and Syria was really creating chaos, then the US policy has been a smashing success. But somehow it doesn’t feel this way. Putin is obviously trying to create chaos in Ukraine, but I can understand why: for the same reason Russia fueled the conflicts in Karabakh, Abkhazia, Ossetia, and Transnistria, which is to keep the countries involved on a short leash. Can’t resist quoting Yes Prime Minister (from memory), the Foreign Office Permanent Secretary speaking:

            We should have partitioned St. George’s Island, like we did in India and Cyprus and Ireland and Palestine. Of course it can be argued that partitioning invariably leads to civil war. It certainly did in India and Cyprus and Ireland and Palestine. That was no bad thing for Britain. Instead of fighting us, they fought each other.

            Likewise, I can understand why the US fostered instability in places like Salvador or Nicaragua, or Venezuela which you mentioned. But I cannot discern how the US benefits from the current chaos in Iraq (or another client state), it looks more like a massive failure. I think the US has rather been trying to keep these countries stable but weak and dependent on and aligned with the US and its allies. A military dictatorship like Mubarak’s or Sisi’s is a perfect fit, never mind democracy and human rights.

            As for Russia, I personally would like to see it strong, democratic, and clean. Then it would be a most useful counterweight and counterexample to the US; in addition it would enable it to resolve its numerous internal ethnic conflicts. As it is, Russia is not very strong and is extremely corrupt, increasingly dictatorial, and has embarked on a colonial expansion under the banner of chauvinism. Hardly a shining light for the rest of the world.

    5. zzpig

      Abe, you simply do NOT know what you are talking about. You really don’t. You just make things up to fit your narrative. You are either a moron, or intellectually dishonest, most likely you’re a both.

  14. mundanomaniac

    I remember Yves’ “Disturbance in the Force?” Therefore this astrological contemplation over the MH 17 crash might fit as an aspect into the discussion at NC.

    1. financial matters

      I thought this this description of the subtle encroachment of ‘friendly fascism’ really hit the mark. Maybe people are starting to recognize it for what it is and that it’s really not that friendly.

      What is Clintonism? Counterpunch (h/t Li)

  15. mundanomaniac

    Again I have a murky feeling with a contibution of Abe, NYC. Is it possible, that he doesn’t know about the “Grand Chessboard” and other concepts?
    And “given that now Russians are well protected everywhere in Ukraine”. I doubt that.
    Protected like in Odessa and Mariupol? In a state with century – old hatred on russians?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Murky” indeed.

      Is it possible that his last name is Brzezinski? How about Albright, Nuland or Kagan?

      Why doesn’t “Abe” tell us his last name?

    2. OIFVet

      “Protected like in Odessa and Mariupol?” It’s the Ben Tre approach to protection: the Russians there had to be destroyed in order to save them.

    3. toldjaso

      They probably sent “AbeNYC” over here to practice, practice, practice. Gotta begin that climb up the ladder at some point. And here we are teaching him how to think for free. Clever! Pythagorean Wannabe shipped to NC Comment section for “testing, testing.” Maybe it’s a neolibbot “learning” to pass the Turing Test? I’ll quit playing the game with “Abe” now.

    4. Abe, NYC

      Apologies for intruding into a cozy echo chamber. Most people – regardless of their position on the political spectrum as I have now realized – would like to know who goodies are and who the baddies are, and build their worldview around that knowledge. The notion that reality is always a tad more complex brings unsettling feelings of discomfort that people usually try to avoid. So, apologies again.

  16. jfleni

    RE: Lust in space: Russians lose control of gecko sex satellite.

    Obviously it’s not only NASA whose mad scientists do nutty “research”. Here Congress would be raving; but there, what will the Duma say?

  17. scraping_by

    RE: Migrant Children

    As publicity stunts go, this one is hitting all the right buttons. The ‘children in peril’ theme is always a good one for tugging at sympathy and silencing critical thinking. You can see that with Jon Stewart, whose only reply to objections to breaking the law is ‘What’s wrong with you?’

    The claim that unaccompanied minors decided to travel the length of Mexico alone beggars belief. It would be more practical to look for recruitment, travel planning and payment, and arrangements at the border that simply repeat a story about a spontaneous crowd of children crossing the Rio Grande. Yet, that would be a buzzkill for the story, a problem for the image.

    When children are really harmed, such as Israel’s targeting civilians in Gaza, information becomes suspect and controversial. The obviously bogus division of Muslims into ‘extremists’ and ‘human shields’ is accepted and promoted without question. Framing much?

    Strange the MSM can’t recognize a publicity stunt when they see it.

    1. sd

      I’m confused. Do you doubt that children are traveling alone from Central America? Do you live in any of the border states or are you farther north?

  18. Jim Haygood

    From La Nación’s daily ‘pelea con los holdouts’ feature:

    The government is still betting that by Wednesday, at the last moment, the “vultures” accept reinstituting the “stay,” or that Judge Griesa unblocks payments to bondholders and default is avoided. Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich yesterday confirmed that strategy. “Argentina needs time and that time is called a stay.” He added that “Argentines should keep cool, life goes on.”

    Other parties involved in Argentina’s motion to the court are the payment processors Bank of New York Mellon (BONY), Euroclear and Clearstream, Citibank and JP Morgan, requesting direction about the disposition of Argentina’s funds. Beyond these alternatives, the Casa Rosada has no others.

    Meanwhile, in Balcarce 50 [the president’s office] new measures are being studied to encourage consumption and lend more dynamism to programs such as Procrear (home loans), Procreauto (cars) and Progresar (for ‘ni-ni’ youth, neither working nor studying). Also being analyzed is enhancing implementation of the Productive Recovery (Repro) plan to avoid layoffs: the Ministry of Labour will subsidize wages to encourage companies not to lay off workers.

    Official sources confirmed to La Nación that current plans look boost development credit (10.4 billion pesos) for entrepreneurs and micro-entrepreneurs and add other measures to encourage consumption. If [international] funding dries up, assistance to the Treasury itself will be intensified with more transfers from ANSeS [Argentina’s Social Security system] and the central bank, and more monetization of a larger fiscal deficit.

    The government stated that from Wednesday it has 60 days to negotiate with exchange bondholders. During that time, the bondholders could request acceleration. That is, 25% of bondholders could act collectively to advance the maturities of the 2033 or 2038 issues to come due in 24 hours.

    The president’s concern focuses on the possibility of further drops in GDP, investment, credit, consumption and layoffs. So she exhorted Argentines buy motorcycles, irons and washing machines.


    This is a recipe for cranking Argentina’s 40 percent inflation up to Venezuela’s 60 percent. Muy feo (bloody ugly).

    1. toldjaso

      Clearstream? relate to Bush, BCCI, and EU connivers; imagine the hornet’s nest if they don’t get paid right.

  19. Carla

    Re: Private Equity’s Free Pass. I am so sick of reading about “fines” and “financial settlements” when corporate entities (OR partnerships) skirt the law, twist regulations, and engage in criminal activity.

    To reiterate: a couple of weeks ago, a South Euclid, Ohio woman ironically named Angelique Bankston was sentenced to FOURTEEN YEARS in prison for bank and mail fraud totaling $73,000. She also has to pay full restitution. Another NE Ohio low-life, Frank Gruttadoria, acting as a “financial advisor,” stole $50 million of his clients’ money. He got 7 years but does not have to pay restitution. Surprise, surprise: Bankston is a black woman; Gruttadoria is a white man.

    But these crimes pale next to those committed by the “Masters of the Universe” in PE firms, TBTF banks, lobbying firms, Congress and “regulatory” agencies every day. Every. Single. Day.

    The fines and settlements, far from serving as a deterrent, seem to only encourage more graft and corruption. Sort of like an invasive weed that when pulled from the earth, comes back and proliferates even more virulently than before.

    20-, 30-, 40-year sentences are the only thing that will get these criminals’ attention and tamp down the behavior of their cohorts. They have destroyed hundreds of communities and tens of millions of lives.

    Somehow the fact that Angelique Bankston will be in prison for the next 14 years just doesn’t make me feel safer.

    1. fresno dan

      “Another NE Ohio low-life, Frank Gruttadoria, acting as a “financial advisor,” stole $50 million of his clients’ money. He got 7 years but does not have to pay restitution”

      Well, if Gruttadoria had stole 500$ million he would have got a year’s probation and 60 days community service
      If it had been 5$ billion, he would have gotten access to interest free loans for life from the FED
      and for 50$ billion, the US attorney general will provide oral love….which I’m told is a real hum dinger……

      If you steal 1000$, you have a problem. If you steal 100,000,000,000$, you have the government of the US.

    2. different clue

      The different treatment isn’t due to “black woman” as against “white man”. It is due to “$75,000” versus “$50,000,000”. The local representatives of the Overclass clearly feel that Mr. Gruttadoria is a potential player who shows real promise at High Finance. They may well begin grooming him for eventual entry into the Big Leagues.

    3. toldjaso

      The arch-criminals insist upon their “g-d given right” to “pay off” their crimes, because they have magickally “transformed” criminal law into contract law (the penalty for breach of contract in the U.S. is specific performance or payment “equivalent” to the same, without damages). This is the mindset embodied in *The Law Merchant* — “Admiralty Law of the BISNATO global regime, violating the Law of the Land specified in the Constitution of the U.S.

      Aren’t they accustomed to “buying their way out” of every difficulty since they began to create The Way of the World? So long as bribes and threats work, no problemme for the MasterRace as they corrupt the Law of the Land with impunity.

  20. fresno dan

    Wyden Ponders Release of CIA Torture Report Without White House Consent Roll Call

    “The CIA and ODNI have submitted the report to the White House with their initial recommended redactions so that it can continue to be so coordinated with other agencies who have equities. The President has been clear that he wants this process completed as expeditiously as possible and he’s also been clear that it must be done consistent with our national security. An important goal that the Administration and the Committee share is the safety and security of our people overseas. So, prior to the release of any information related to the former RDI program, the Administration will also need to look at any potential security implications and take a series of steps to prepare our personnel and facilities overseas. We will do that in a timely* fashion.”
    Obama’s Policy Positions and Voting Record as State Senator, U.S. Senator, and Presidential Candidate:
    Obama also voted in favor of preserving habeas corpus — the notion that the government may not detain a prisoner without filing specific charges that can expeditiously be brought before a court — for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. U.S. officials consider these prisoners — captured mostly on the battlefields of the Middle East — to be of the highest value for intelligence purposes, or to constitute, in their own persons, a great threat to the United States. Said Obama:

    “Why don’t we close Guantanamo and restore the right of habeas corpus, because that’s how we lead, not with the might of our military, but the power of our ideals and the power of our values. It’s time to show the world we’re not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries.”
    On the matter of using enhanced interrogation techniques (such as waterboarding) on high-level terrorist suspects, Obama emphatically pledged to end that practice: “This means ending the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of law…. That will be my position as president. That includes renditions.”

    Obama also condemned the “flawed military-commission system that has failed to convict anyone of a terrorist act since the 9/11 attacks and that has been embroiled in legal challenges.” He preferred to try terror suspects and unlawfal combatants in civilian courts rather than in military tribunals.

    Moreover, Obama criticized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretaps of terror suspects: “This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.”
    (((comment – LOL))))
    Most transparent administration in history……end torture……..And many, many more words…so on and so forth…..refer to the 1st part of the second part of the 3rd paragraph, etc, etc., etcetera’s…….

    Reminds me of my days in the bureaucracy……to avoid making a decision, or doing the opposite of what you said in a previous memo, the good old 100 page memo is indispensable.
    You didn’t read page 76?!!? That’s the whole crux of the argument!!!

    * = never

      1. fresno dan

        Gubermint do love its redactions. Because security….or privacy! Or a zillion other reasons….
        At the FDA “trade secrets” can be redacted… which is pretty much any and everything. Included are lab tests like the Gram stain….which has been around since 1895* (i.e., not much of a secret)
        But it makes it easier to just wipe out page after page, volume after volume.
        Of course, the one that may be the most ironic is “privacy” that is used to hide all the spying and violations of citizens privacy – “We can’t tell you how we’re violating citizens privacy because that would be a violation of citizens privacy…” You gotta admire the Chutzpa

        *Whoops!!! 1884

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Both the corporate “shield and government secrecy are nothing more than covers for criminality.

    2. toldjaso

      How is the “balance of powers” kept, so long as the Executive branch can “redact” whatever the Administrative Branch has requested or subpoenaed? The claim/pretence to Executive Supremacy is such a contemptuous mockery of the Second Branch, that only milquetoasts in suits or snakes in suits would permit this to go on.

  21. fresno dan

    “Yet the belief persists that the difference between a bad outcome and a good outcome is a willingness by the U.S. government to exercise leadership or show toughness or otherwise get involved. In practice, our interventions often exact a terribly high price for a dismal result. If there are two ways to get a dismal result, maybe we should choose the one that doesn’t cost us thousands of lives or billions of dollars.

    We like to think we can easily shape the world to suit our preferences. But as the 19th-century historian Henry Adams pointed out, chaos is the law of nature, and order is the dream of man.”

    1. Carolinian

      Real Clear Politcs:

      “Nothing short of a NATO military response — which even the hawks didn’t propose — would have stopped Putin from seizing Crimea.”

      Actually Obama and his State Department minding their own business would have stopped it. Russia only took Crimea after the US arranged a revolution/coup to our liking. And arguably ISIS is the result of our decision to cause regime change in Syria.

      The “Obama overwhelmed by events” argument is very convenient for him. He also uses it domestically.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        As for being overwhelmed, there’s no doubt, Obama is governing in the midst of several unprecedented shitstorms.

        Problem is, he could have cracked the whip when he was first elected — but hindsight clearly shows that he had no intention of changing a damned thing.

        As for the economy, during the 2008 debates — when the damage that housing busts and mortgage bubbles were causing was first manifesting — not a word was spoken about it until the final debate, and the, only in passing. The politicians obviously had no clue what WallSt had wrought. (They still don’t).

        Our military adventurism, OTOH, is fully ingrained in our governmental system. We have long been capable of destroying anyone we want, without sending a single citizen into harm’s way. The reason for our continued murderous meddling and shit-stirring is clearly an expectation of ROI on our “investment” in the M/I complex. That we are now converting to unmanned weapons is a mixed bag of tricks (kinda’ like fishing for really large sharks, on really stout gear, from a row boat in the middle of the ocean. The question being that once hooked-up, who is actually at the advantage).

        Seems that, for the foreseeable future, our choices, as ostensibly self-governed People, will remain confined to electing craven and cunningly self-interested liars or knuckle-dragging imbeciles — both of which support the fascist* status quo.

        * I can remember when using this word to describe the US political system would have resulted in puzzled looks, and maybe derision. Not so much, anymore.

    2. toldjaso

      Ah, but “chaos” and conquest through “creative destruction” is the dream of Dickheads!

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