Links 7/7/14

Ironing out details of the carbon cycle: Dissolved iron in North Atlantic traced to Sahara desert Science Daily

Whistleblowers key to outing future Madoffs FT

Central Bank Smackdown Big Picture

Keynesian Yellen versus Wicksellian BIS FT

Rail Traffic Is Growing Like Crazy Business Insider

How to fix a broken market in antibiotics Reuters

BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes Telegraph

Chicago Fourth of July Weekend Shootings Tracker 2014 Chicago Tribune

Can Meditation Slow Ageing? One Nobelist thinks So Informed Comment


Godzilla has risen: The insurance industry under the ACA PNHP

Forget Hobby Lobby—This Case Could Wreck Obamacare National Journal

Meet Sean Haugh, the Libertarian pizza guy who may deliver a Senate seat in N.C. WaPo

South Carolina Celebrates Independence Day By Shelling Fort Sumter Duffel Blog

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Why did Greenwald agree to government plea to hold major NSA story but the Post didn’t? Pando

Officials Defend N.S.A. After New Privacy Details Are Reported Times. Details.

Web Activity Used in Court to Portray State of Mind Schneier on Security

Security fears loom over CIA report The Hill (furzy mouse)

Class Warfare

Unemployment: Labour pains FT Hysterisis.

Class a factor when it comes to ambition: Being rich makes boys more competitive than girls, claims study Daily Mail


A Transcript of Abu Bakr’s Speech Ian Welsh (furzy mouse). ISIS leader takes the world stage.

Iran Pursues Subtle Strategy on Iraq WSJ

‘Water war’ threatens Syria lifeline Al Jazeera

Why Kuwait’s protests are important Daily Star


Ukraine: Retreat From Slaviansk Far From End Game Moon of Alabama

China Army Charms Hong Kongers Amid Unease Over Presence Bloomberg

Enemies of the Coup: Fugitives of the Thai Junta The Diplomat

Drop Your Weapons Foreign Affairs

Imperial Collapse Watch

Reining In the Drones Times. “You can have all these tactical successes, where you end up with a lot of dead bad guys, but then you just see the problem proliferating elsewhere because the roots are political.”

irony and radicalism Limited, Inc.

From Homo Economicus to the Commoner: Beyond the Neoliberal Subject Grassroots Economic Organizing (diphtherio)

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. dearieme

    Ooh, otters were loathed where I was a boy, because our river was a fine salmon stream. Happily we had an active Otter Hunt.

  2. Yonatan

    If you want to cover a story of vile financial intrigue in Ukraine that no US MSM will touch, look into the connection between a Ukrainian lawyer once associated with Yulia Tymoshenko, a German woman (possibly a surgeon) and a Ukrainian militia commander, leaks of their hacked Facebook accounts, a series of 4 articles in Der Spiegel dated 2009 giving some financial background, and who benefits from the traded products (in Ukraine? in the US? in Germany?).

  3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    Re: The ACA as Godzilla:

    The ACA is only one example of the monstrous freak show of law and policy advanced by our bi-polar/sociopathic ‘representative’ government.

    Meanwhile, the drugged and docile electorate watches and reads about it, as well as the many other, equally dangerous monstrosities of legislation, while they should be looking out the window and figuring out how to:

    a) get the F out of the way, and;

    b) destroy the monsters.

    “Oh no! There goes Tokyo . . .”

    Maybe Mothra will save us.

    1. Cynthia

      The ACA in reality provides very few benefits unless you are already sick. Most people will never reach their deductibles on a yearly basis so they will not receive any benefit from this so-called insurance. Before, when you went to the doctor, you had a copay between $10-35. On the ACA, you need to pay your deductible of between $2,500-12,000 before receiving any benefit from the plan. Since most people do not have enough residual income to pay the deductible on a yearly basis, they will forgo the doctor unless they are really sick. So in essence, the overall health of the US will suffer.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        No matter how bad it is — and it is one hellaciously bad piece of law — it’s better than what it replaced.

        I doubt the overall health of the US citizen will get worse solely because of this legislation.

        1. MtnLife

          Better for who? Maybe for the sick who couldn’t get coverage before but other than that the only people it is good for is those who profit. At least before you had the option of subjecting yourself to the health insurance/HMO whims, now it’s mandated and they have a captive market. The neoliberacons always talk about “opportunity” and “investing” for the future, so why can’t I have the same “opportunity” they had to “invest” in one’s own good health? My ROI on eating well and exercising sure beats that of any plan on the market.

          1. mellon

            The US is wedded to the for profit healthcare system because of the ever increasing number of binding, infinitely long trade agreements with their “standstills’ and ‘ratchets’ and “investor-state dispute settlement’ system” (or ISDS).

            Tthe effect of all this is to make change a one way only street that only gets better for corporations, never worse, (or they can SUE a country in a private arbitration court that stands above national courts in the legal system, for any legal or structural change that adversely effects their profits. And they always win.)

            Therefore, from a regulatory standpoint, things must always get worse for the consumer, never better, not having such protection.

            Otherwise the country can be sued for whether they broke the FTA (only) a situation within which they almost always lose, and their taxpayers have to pay corporations millions or billions of dollars for the “taking”.

            Now the US, having for years been setting up this foolproof system to prevent new public healthcare and its savings, in both other countries (because we sell drugs that was deemed desirable) and here..

            See, these FTAs are bilateral- so the US could not change anything for the better for our own citizens or we could be sued under our own FTAs, especially after we open our health insurance market to multinationals as we are doing now. (Of course, its mandated by the FTAs we wrote!)

            FTAs are largely unknown to Americans. The US media has made sure of that.

            But these three videos do a good job of explaining some key aspects of the current FTA situation rapidly.

            What is the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership? (TTIP)


            What is the Trade in Services Agreement?


            Talk by Scott Sinclair talks about GATS and TISA and Public Services

      2. Lord Koos

        If you are poor with little or no income, you don’t have to pay anything under the ACA except for very modest copays on meds and visits to the doctor. So although I agree that Obamacare is far from ideal, it is giving some help to people who need it the most. Except in the red states who are not allowing it to happen.

        1. mellon

          Tellingly, 60% of the poor in 58% of the states were excluded.

          I can’t see how they could actually expand public healthcare without running into this, their argument would probably be that they had not expanded it, (as 60% were left out) or it was only temporary, as they are shifted into private for profit insurance.

      1. hunkerdown

        Especially during that period when the illusion looks like it might still not crumble after all, If Only We Listen to Tinkerbell and Believe™. (The Disneyification of the economy?)

    2. Lord Koos

      “Drugged and docile” — I was thinking that this is interesting timing for the US allowing the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. It reminds me of the old Jamaican movie The Harder They Come, where the record producer warns the cop not to mess with the pot trade too much, as it was the only escape the average Jamaican had from the daily grind of poverty. The people’s (or nature’s) prozac…

  4. trish

    Re: The ACA as Godzilla:

    “The Affordable Care Act, despite the [claim of] best of intentions, has fortified a monster. By mandating that everyone purchase insurance, the industry is [way] stronger and feels emboldened to take even more advantage of patients and health care providers. ”

    obamacare in a nutshell.

    (and thanks to Lambert, supreme obamacare clusterfuckologist, top in his field I think)

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘My newest employee quit because she felt she could not continue in a job that was so hurtful to young families. After sending out patient after patient in tears, she decided the bad karma invoked by performing her duties could not be justified, and she decided to move on to a happier job.

      When things reach a point where your employees feel like they will face eternal damnation just for doing their job, then the system is broken.’ — Emily Dalton M.D.

      Thanks to Nancy Pelosi for passing this, so we could find out what was in it. Now what?

      1. Benedict@Large

        This is not the creation of Nancy Pelosi. The House just went along for the ride on this one. It is the creation of the supremely corrupt Max Baucus and the egomaniacal Rahm Emanuel, neither of who knew a damned thing about either healthcare or healthcare insurance, along with the perennially disinterested Barack Obama.

        1. Jim Haygood

          You are correct, of course. But Max Baucus (wisely) expatriated himself to a sinecure in China, while Nancy Pelosi looks set to be re-elected in November.

        2. Ned Ludd

          Although it was Baucus’ bill, he was not the brains behind the legislation. Liz Fowler, a former VP for Wellpoint, wrote the bill.

          Baucus: And I want to single out one person. And that one person is sitting next to me, her name is Liz Fowler. Liz Fowler, my chief health counsel, Liz Fowler is, put my team together, my health care team, Liz Fowler worked for me many years ago, since left for the private sector then came back when she realized that she could be there at the creation of health care reform, because she wanted to, in certain sense that be her professional lifetime goal.

          She put together that white paper last November 2008, um, 87-page document which became the basis, the foundation, the blueprint from which almost all health care measures and all bills both sides of the aisle came from. She’s an amazing person, she’s a lawyer, she’s a PhD, she’s just so decent, she’s always smiling, she’s always working, she’s always, always available to help any Senator or any staff.

          Elections and politicians exist to preserve the illusion of a republic.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            I cannot possibly overemphasize the importance of being amazing, and ever so decent, and always smiling, and always working.

            I’m surprised Baucus didn’t mention that she doesn’t fart without excusing herself.

        3. Ned Ludd

          Marcy Wheeler posted a link to Max Baucus’ framework on health care, which is still available on the Washington Post website. Open up the pdf and check who is listed as the author.

          Baucus and Fowler spent a year putting the senator in a position to pursue reform, including holding hearings last summer and issuing a white paper in November. They deliberately avoided releasing legislation in order to send a signal of openness and avoid early attacks.

          “People know when Liz is speaking, she is speaking for Baucus,” said Dean Rosen, the health policy adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

      2. Cynthia

        Hospital administration is a large part of the problem. In an ideal situation, a hospital would be focused on serving their patients and there would be only enough administrative staff to ensure that the resources are available to do that.

        Running hospitals “like a business” essentially means that the execs, although they couldn’t slap a band-aid on you, are the most important people to your health, not the people who actually take care of you.

      3. MtnLife

        I think the answer of what to do is found in the repeated quote: “Description of covered benefits is not a guarantee of payment” They can describe what they “might” cover all they want with no guarantee we will buy their product/pay premiums. What would happen if half (or more) of Americans dropped all health coverage overnight? It might send more of a message than the entire population voting but no one pulling any lever for President.

        1. Keenan

          What would happen if half (or more) of Americans dropped all health coverage overnight

          That sort of action, even with a somewhat smaller number, perhaps 20-25%, is the most direct and effective way to destroy Godzilla.

          The compulsory private insurance game is no different from the protection rackets of organized crime.

          Insurance company execs = crime family Dons
          Government = their muscle with the guns
          Insurance company employees and stock holders = small fry racketeers

        2. fresno dan

          WTF!!!?!?!? “Description of covered benefits is not a guarantee of payment”
          Well, I should know – I posted a link to Charles Hugh Smith a while back about how people were going to start finding out that their insurance doesn’t cover what they thought it covered (all kinds of insurance – auto, home, life….on and on) thanks to Orwellian/government/corporate doublespeak
          Yeah, the term “covered benefit” doesn’t actually mean the insurance company pays for it, or pays for a portion of it, or actually pays for any of it is going to be news to a lot of policy holders.
          I can see this happening with other benefits, including government social insurance. Social security now consists of 6 pounds of cheese – monthly….

          1. Jim Haygood

            To which an appropriate reply might be,

            ‘Enumeration of demanded taxes is not a guarantee of my payment.’

            Molon labe …

    2. Mel

      Nothing about ACA considered how much health care should cost. The main design goal was not to change anything, and the status quo ante was “Health care costs whatever it costs. Free market. So deal with it.” High premiums were baked in from the beginning. Why is everyone so surprised?
      You’ve really got to seriously discuss how much health care should cost. Until you do you’re all …

      1. fresno dan

        I am actually thinking that the whole purpose is to increase costs, and increase profits. The repubs just do that whole pretend in free markets – they REALLY don’t want lower prices or competition. See my link above about medicare and medicare advantage.

        medicare advantage
        Private sector!!! Private Sector!!!!
        But the government is subsiding it!
        didn’t you hear me – PRIVATE SECTOR!!!!!!!
        And it actually costs more.

        1. hunkerdown

          I just call it the Pravy Sektor, after the oligarchs’ neo-Nazis in Ukraine. I see no reason to protect the privacy of the gentry.

    3. Ronald Pires

      Yes, the insurers are snacking their chops over ObamaCare, but that was what the law was about from the start. Using words like “emboldened” (etc.) however probably isn’t very useful however, especially coming from a doctors’ group like PNHP, a natural competitor to insurers for the limited healthcare dollars. Insurers are just like any other capitalist enterprise; they will take profit where they find it. There’s nothing sinister or conspiratorial about it. It just is.

  5. wbgonne

    “Meet Sean Haugh, the Libertarian pizza guy who may deliver a Senate seat in N.C.”

    One of the largely unrecognized harms from Obama’s bait-and-switch presidency is that he has allowed the Right to cast him and his abysmal policies as Leftist, thereby discrediting Progressivism and boosting Libertarianism as the only imaginable alternative to what we now endure.

    1. Carolinian

      Of course the Leftists themselves had some role in that. Many still support Obama as the LOTE. Perhaps the real question is why are the Republicans having a populist (or fake populist) rebellion and the Democrats aren’t?

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson


        In the US?


        Someone should tell Bernie Sanders.

        Just because someone is left of you doesn’t make them a “leftist.” Both US political parties dance on the head of a right-wing pin.

        1. Carolinian

          “Just because someone is left of you doesn’t make them a “leftist.” Both US political parties dance on the head of a right-wing pin.”

          Your comment is incoherent. Obviously I am criticizing self described leftists–many of whom probably do hold traditional liberal positions on civil rights, labor or war and peace–from the left. Or perhaps you are just saying there is no left wing at all in this country. A bit silly, no? That would also include all the other people who comment here (including yourself?)

          Not that I can claim to have done much to oppose Obama. But at least i can say that i never voted for him.

          1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            Show me a socialist (other than Sanders), or a communist, or a strong labor union (one that is making advances, not retreating in the face of corporatism). Show me someone advocating Marxism or any other “leftist” ideology.

            Show me a viable US politician who has claimed the mantle of “leftist.”

            My comment might be incoherent, but yours denies the politically obvious.

            You call me a “leftist”? Based on what? Anti-corporatism? Anti-theocracy? Anti-cronyism? Being pro-science?

            1. Carolinian

              “Leftist” doesn’t equal “Marxist.” I find people like to quibble a lot around here about terms (which admittedly can be vague) but words do mean something. From my Websters for “left” (the position held by leftists): –SYN. see Liberal.

              Unions: I belonged to one. Have you?

              Sanders: caucuses with the Democrats–nuff said.

              As for the rest of what you are saying, sounds like you agree with my original point which wasn’t that original to begin with.

          2. hunkerdown

            Inability to distinguish between ideals and reality, and living in whichever is more comfortable at the time. Isn’t it lovely just how these brand names confound any sensible discussion of the actual forces at fault? Maybe “left*” just shouldn’t be uttered without a qualifier attached.

            And speaking of that, liberals are monotheistic capitalists. We apparently have to distinguish between FDR liberals (center-right social democrats, perhaps) and John Stuart Mill liberals.

            Political language is either really hard because it’s too complex or really hard because it’s beneath Homo sapiens. (Whatever happened to the other sapiens? Are we just not that thinking anymore?)

      2. wbgonne

        I think the answer is Obama. The Democrats control the presidency and partisans feel duty-bound to support their man no matter what. And the fact that Obama is black has entirely neutered the Congressional Black Caucus, which is about the group that even squawked previously. Obama’s confounding effect has been immense. He arrested the nascent Leftist populism and, in the void, the Libertarian Right, emerged. The perfect Manchurian Candidate.

        1. Banger

          Again, the Obama deception was carefully engineered very much like an intel operation. They knew he would neuter African Americans who weren’t all fooled–but they wanted a “black” male POTUS to counter the natural alienation young men in particular were and are feeling towards the larger society that continues to target young black boys and men as fodder for the prison-industrial complex.

          As for the rest of the left–well it’s mainly a fake movement and thus moribund even most so-called radicals

          1. Jim Haygood

            ‘They knew [Obama] would neuter African Americans who weren’t all fooled.’

            True. But more importantly, they knew at least half of caucasian voters would feel obliged to vote for Obama — whatever their reservations about his inexperience and sketchy background — simply as public proof that they were enlightened people who harbored no prejudice.

            Pure, evil brilliance, from a Bernaysian p.o.v.

            1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

              Keeping in mind that the alternatives were McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan.

              This white boy voted against them.

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘If anything, [Yellen adopts] the “secular stagnation” argument, suggesting that real interest rates have been and remain too high, because the zero lower bound prevents them from falling as far as would be required to reach the equilibrium real rate.’ — Gavyn Davies, FT

    OMG, what bizarro planet am I on? At every maturity up to 6 years, Treasury real yields are negative. You have to go out to the 7-year maturity to get a yield (2.2%) that exceeds CPI inflation of 2.1%.

    That policy is being held at this ultra-stimulative setting in the sixth year of an expansion, with stock valuations approaching 1999 internet bubble levels, defies belief. BOHICA, baby: I’m moving to a new solar system.

    1. MikeNY

      Jim, the Fed uses a Model, and The Model Is Right.

      You will never be a Fedbot if you can’t accept this.

  7. Banger

    Moon Over Alabama makes a good point on Ukraine. Putin, because he has consolidated power in his hands and has a pretty smart Foreign Minister in Mr. Lavrov, can afford to bide his time. Like Mikhail Kutuzov, Putin seems to be waiting for winter to take its toll on Kiev. At any rate the situation is murky. The Ukrainian military has found forces willing to fight but it is a slippery situation for them. If they kill too many civilians the Europeans may break with the U.S. official Narrative and start reporting the atrocities and once the Euro media breaks with the U.S. Narrative on this matter what is to stop it from breaking on other topics? Putin, I think is counting on a sea-change in Europe if and when the Euro media are allowed to put two and two together and accurately assess what happened in the Maidan–then we will see a major foreign policy defeat of the U.S. that could be of historical significance–Putin can’t afford to blow it by prematurely intervening. Anti-Russian sentiment is still high in Europe and it will take time to tame it.

    Putin, I’m sure, is also aware of deep divisions within Washington and a weak President.

    1. ambrit

      I’m beginning to wonder if we aren’t being set up for an “accidental” incursion by Black Ops actors dressed up as Russians into Ukraine. After all, Ukraine has been a traditional source of arms for the old Soviet Army. Plenty of materiel is lying around for false flag actions. Thus, Putin is in a double bind regarding the Russian Ukrainian border. Keep troops right on the border to maintain control, and he risks looking like an outright warmonger. Pull troops way back from the border and he allows potentially destabilizing actors access to same. Here is one place where drones would fulfill a legitimate function.

    2. Jackrabbit

      “the situation is murky”
      Well that’s intentional, isn’t it? You’ve previously called out the lack of news coverage. Better to do so, than play along.

      The Ukrainian military has found forces willing to fight . . . if they kill too many civilians . . .”
      Ethnic cleansing doesn’t have to mean killing. Much more people have left than have been killed. And shelling from afar doesn’t attest much to their willingness to fight.

      “if and when the Euro media are allowed to put two and two together . . . then we will see a major foreign policy defeat”
      The Saker posted a letter from a German that is relevant. She wrote that the German government is solidly on the US side (as an “accomplice”), even though the German people (and maybe also German industrialists) are not. This makes some sense. European elites are likely to side strongly with US.

      “Putin, I’m sure, is also aware of deep divisions within Washington and a weak President.”
      ‘Deep divisions’ is misleading (for the umpteenth time). Those who have the power seem very united. You have not been able to point to any evidence otherwise over the last 3 months. And Obama is solidly behind them/one of them. He has supported neocon adventures in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and the NSA – he would not even fire Clapper, who blatantly lied to Congress.

      Frankly, Banger, your incessantly attacking the Deep State and media and trumpeting the truism that ‘Washington is divided’ (which masks power relations) seems designed to point the finger away from neolibcons like Obama, Rice, Strong, Biden, Kerry, Nuland, and many more who are in the drivers seat.

      H O P

      1. Banger

        I see zig-zagging from this administration–it seems FP consensus has broken down to me and I’ve been observing this for most of my life. Of course I could be wrong but last year’s balking at bombing Syria showed major internal differences. Everything was set up, the controlled press, the think tanks were all howling for war–didn’t happen. The Ukraine operation had been years in the making–the U.S. Was just mopping up the color revolution project which was just a new wrinkle of the policy to surround Russia but I don’t see such a firm hand there.

        As for the the German government, to me Merkel is an enigma, so I don’t know where she is going in all this but observing her actions will tell us how all this will end up. Is she controlled by U.S. Intel through all the me as they have at their disposal? Hard to tell.

        1. Jackrabbit

          zig-sagging . . . FP consensus has broken down”

          “balking at bombing Syria”
          Once again: Russia was strongly opposed. That raised the stakes. When the British Parliament failed to ratify neocon intentions, Obama was left with no easy justification for an attack. I don’t see that any kind of ‘breakdown of FP consensus’ had anything to do with backing away.

          1. hunkerdown

            More like, Russia made an offer that the global-police R2P quisling “left” couldn’t be seen refusing without destroying their credibility and wedging off those who actually believe the blue team has any plan to turn their public platform into effective policy.

            The USA’s mistake was letting such an offer be seen, a mistake which they appear to be taking some pains not to repeat.

            1. Jackrabbit

              Whether Russia outmaneuvered or threatened or both, it was NOT halted due to dissension by ‘realists’* or others in Washington.

              * IMO, neolibs see themselves as ‘realists’ essentially because they want a financial benefit from neocon adventures. If its budget neutral or delivers a financial payoff to key stakeholders then its ‘realistic’. They are not ‘realists’ in any traditional FP sense.

  8. OIFVet

    I think that waiting for seachange in Europe is like Vladimir waiting for Godot. He ain’t coming, the Euro elites’ interests are far too intertwined with those of the American elites, and the media in both places are subservient organs for disseminating elite propaganda. Also, with the exception of Poland and some other easterners, popular sentiment at this point is far more anti-US than anti-Russia. The US is not the only place where the elites are divorced from the mood of their populations you know.

  9. diptherio

    Re: Rail Traffic

    Really grasping for straws, aren’t they?

    Year-over-year monthly carload growth averaged 4.9 percent from March 2014 through June 2014, the highest average for any four-month period since December 2010 through March 2011. Total carloads averaged 294,414 in June, the highest weekly average for June since 2008.

    So remind me, what was the result of increased rail traffic in the four-month period from December 2010 to March 2011? Oh right, nothing. And as for having the most carloads since June 2008, I suppose one might draw the conclusion that lots of rail traffic isn’t any assurance of a healthy economy since four months after the 2008 high, we were in the midst of a “Great Financial Crisis.”

    But I suppose any irrelevant variable will do when you’re trying to paint a rosy (or at least less bleak) picture of the economy.

    1. fresno dan

      number of rail cars – reminds me of that child’s riddle: which weighs more – a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?
      which shows more productive capacity – shipping cars or shipping oil?

      1. fresno dan

        I saw this guy (BC) comment and links over on econobrowser and thought they were so good they should be shared


        July 2, 2014 at 5:57 pm

        Wages to the price of gasoline (trending at the level of the onset of Peak Oil, which is dead, of course):

        Auto sales per capita (peaking for the cycle and about to turn negative yoy):

        Subprime auto loan bubble being encouraged by 7-year loans (pulling sales from the future as occurred during the MEW bubble as a result of the 2000s housing bubble):

        How long before we see 30-year auto loans for Teslas? $20,000 down, no interest for 30 years, and a low monthly payment of just $225/month. Mr. Musk has enough money now that he can lend to us for 30 years to buy his cars, which is probably what he’ll have to do as the rate of growth of sales of Teslas and EVs peak.

        Nope, no bubbles anywhere. No credit risk. No risk of recession. All risk is contained. The Chair has it covered. It’s all good. If not, we could not have foreseen any risks. How could we have known that “exogenous” shocks would occur?

    1. wbgonne

      From the article:

      “The Obamas believe that Warren sees things from the same ideological point of view as they do. She is a committed progressive who, like Obama, wants to transform America into a European-style democratic-socialist state.”

      As I said above: One of the largely unrecognized harms from Obama’s bait-and-switch presidency is that he has allowed the Right to cast him and his abysmal policies as Leftist, thereby discrediting Progressivism and boosting Libertarianism as the only imaginable alternative to what we now endure. Barack Obama is many things, but “a committed progressive who [] wants to transform America into a European-style democratic-socialist state” isn’t one of them.

      The article smells like disinformation. The GOP appears to fear Hillary and probably thinks that Warren is hopelessly Left. Don’t get me wrong: I hope Warren runs and I think she will beat Clinton handily. But the Right thinks – incorrectly in my opinion — that Clinton is more formidable in the general election (you know, being a sensible centrist and all). Most likely, the Cons are just shooting more spitballs at Clinton.

      1. Carolinian

        I think Hillary won’t run and therefore Warren is a real possibility if she chooses to make the attempt.

        The Post story does have a certain plausibility since Obama seems to take everything personally. Who knows how much of the Ukraine mess is due to the fact that he and Putin don’t seem to like each other very much.

        1. wbgonne

          “Obama seems to take everything personally”

          That’s for sure. Ideologues mask their insecurity behind dogmatic world views. Obama’s neoliberalism answers everything for him and, if you don’t get it, you must be an idiot. Or Part of the Professional Left.

          “I think Hillary won’t run”

          I will be shocked. But I hope you’re right!

        2. neo-realist

          The signals of running from Hillary are too strong to believe otherwise: Book touring, and talking about aggressively courting republicans (to stave off a Jeb run I suspect).

          If Obama is pushing Warren to run, he is doing so, I believe, in order to bring disaffected lefties to the polls to vent their spleen on the anointed protest candidate which in turn will encourage them to vote for the establishment candidate in the general election; Warren loses the nomination to Hillary then makes a speech at the convention telling all dems to circle the wagons around Hillary. Somewhat similar to Jackson running in 84 to encourage disaffected blacks to vote (and I suspect a way of fighting off a more progressive candidate in Hart)—Jackson loses the nomination and tells the herd to vote for that piece of cardboard Mondale.

          1. Banger

            In a battle between Clinton and Warren it’s hard to see how Warren would lose. She’s better on TV than Clinton and comes off as sincere and passionate in very sharp contrast to Obama. In the general she would win barring major scandal or something nefarious because the GOP has, in my view, given up on the Presidential race because the demographic just don’t work for them anymore and they are hopelessly divided and their national ambitions depend on rigid discipline.

            But will she run? On the surface the future of the country hinges on that question and that question hinges on her willingness to deal with the men with guns.

            1. wbgonne

              Warren is my Senator and I have noted with chagrin that she has been fundraising and campaigning for execrable DINO Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Alison Grimes. Unless she is accumulating chits for a presidential run in 2016, Warren should not be doing this, IMO, because one thing Obama’s dreadful reign has proven is that the Democratic Party is being consumed from within by Corporatists.

              But I don’t know what Warren is up to. Maybe she’s just being a good partisan. Uggh. Warren would hardly be perfect (been there, done that with Obama) but she’s light years ahead of the Clinton Machine. And, as you say, Warren would wallop Clinton. I’m quite sure the Clintonistas realize this.

              1. Carolinian

                Hillary has considerable negatives and some of the Republican attacks so far (about her health for example) are not necessarily off the wall. Also she’s a lame politician. If she couldn’t pull it off in 2008–when she was also the anointed one–then unlikely to be true eight years later unless the Dems just shoo away all potential opponents. And if she does get the nomination then she is very likely to lose. Whatever you think of her she’s not a stupid woman and will, I suspect, take a pass on the whole thing.

            2. neo-realist

              I have doubts that she’ll run—She stated she wasn’t interested (yes I know they lie), but if she does, she’ll have to start courting a big dem voting bloc–the black vote. Hillary has got it in her pocket by and large. Also go after the youth vote hard with the position on Economic Populism. Hillary usually fumbles and prevaricates on the issue. And maybe, just maybe if the Corporate Media doesn’t destroy Warren, or simply not pay attention to her as a serious candidate, e.g., John Edwards, maybe she’ll have a shot.

      2. hunkerdown

        Let’s not forget the Post is a Murdoch tabloid, with all that entails regardless of paper size.

    2. Massinissa

      This makes me even MORE afraid and sceptical of Warren than I was before.

      But she would still probably be better than Clinton. A bonobo would be better than Clinton.

      1. Banger

        I wouldn’t be too afraid. Warren, unlike the Clintons and Obama has a consistent POV and progressives background.having said that he will have to make serious accommodations with the powers that be including the national security state because, frankly, they have the guns.

        I don’t, however believe any President can do anything without some major reforms–these reforms appear unlikely at the moment and will probably have to in conjunction with major breakdowns and a bit more chaos.

      2. Paul Niemi

        I looked up quotes by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Elizabeth Warren on Google as a test. The quotes that come up for Hillary mainly have to do with human rights from a feminist perspective. For example, “I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st Century.” OK, in contrast, the quotes that come up from Elizabeth Warren are post-feminist. She has moved beyond women’s issues and aims at a message of economic justice for ordinary people in the here and now. For example, “People have hearts. They have kids. They get jobs. They get sick. They cry. They dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations. We run it for people.” Senator Warren is out in the countryside raising money and campaigning for candidates, and she is pounding this rhetoric like a steam hammer. I think it’s refreshing to hear someone willing to speak so candidly. Her style harks back to the 1960s or maybe all the way back to FDR in some minds. Anyway, I know Elizabeth Warren is not running for President, but I think she should. She will not be running for re-election to the Senate in 2016, is a proven fundraiser, generates considerable excitement where she goes, and has a message people want to hear.

        1. Banger

          The Presidency is hers to lose. She is the only potential candidate that looks and sounds sincere and, at the same time, has the swag to lead. Whether she runs or not depends on whether there are enough factions in the oligarchy to see the writing on the wall, that is, that the Ship of State cannot remain the Ship of Fools for very much longer–the country is headed for collapse or palpable tyranny.

          1. Paul Niemi

            Just to be fair, I wanted to give a quote from a GOP candidate, to juxtapose with the quotes from Hillary and Elizabeth. Here is what Google brings right up for Texas Governor Rick Perry: “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that — and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” As a former Republican, it would be a big step for me to support Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts; but if she runs, I think I would get the white slacks, the seersucker jacket and the straw boater, and I would serve angel food cake and pink lemonade for her supporters on my block. Change is a constant in life, and it’s good to go with the flow.

    3. Ex–PFC Chuck

      The real game-changer could be Jim Webb, former Senator from VA. His candidacy could trigger a realignment. He has expressed some interest.

    4. mellon

      Maybe they are trying to get Warren to say something she might later regret. ……

      Warren would be wise to steer clear of both of them. Being associated with either is more of a liability than an asset. The neoliberals emphatically don’t play by any rules.

  10. jfleni

    RE: Whistleblowers key to outing future Madoffs


    Dozens of “Whistleblowers” of various kinds , and thousands of legitimate complaints warned repeatedly about Bernie Madoff and were studiously ignored! Only a blatantly obvious and sorrowful full confession got any attention.

    1. Skeptic

      jfleni BULLSEYE!

      Just back from an ARTHUR OUTAGE so would have skewered this ONIONESQUE Headline myself. I don’t have an FT subscription so did not read the article but can only imagine its worthlessness. But, as you say and squadrons of whistleblowers can’t be wrong, HOGWASH!

      Oh, yes and why promote FT rubbish here. To see what the adversary is thinking?


    2. Skeptic

      jfleni BULLSEYE!

      Just back from an ARTHUR OUTAGE so would have skewered this ONIONESQUE Headline myself. I don’t have an FT subscription so did not read the article but can only imagine its worthlessness. But, as you say and squadrons of whistleblowers can’t be wrong, HOGWASH!

      Oh, yes and why promote FT rubbish here. To see what the adversary is thinking?


  11. jgordon

    It’s good that you decided to highlight the futility of draconian gun control legislation by linking to the Chicago shootings story. With luck the rest of the people too now will be able to let go of their unhelpful emotionalism regarding gun control and examine the issue rationally. More articles like this could make it happen.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      If gun ownership is suppressed in Chicago, where are all of the guns coming from, and who is reaping all of the profits from selling this contraband?

      There’s a fireworks factory in PA, at which, when one makes a purchase, one is made to sign a form that these explosives will not be set-off in that state, as doing so is against the law. As far as I know, all of the states surrounding PA have laws against the very type of fireworks PA is selling, carelessly, for EXPORT to other jurisdictions.

      Same deal with all of the guns and shootings in Chicago.

      1. MtnLife

        A good portion of the shootings in Chicago are gang related. Most of those weapons are illegally obtained on the street. Some come from other countries, some have been stolen, some were used in a crime previously, and some “fell off the back of the truck” (or “disappeared” before being serial numbered – look, no loss!). Either way, if someone has already chosen to break the law to the level of shooting at someone with the intent to kill, adding on a couple years for the lesser gun charge is of negligible concern to them. Gun laws work as well as drug laws, it’s nearly impossible to stop people from getting something if they really want it, law abiding people will abide, and others will always be happy to supply due to the profit margin increase that comes with illegality.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          “Some come from other countries . . .”

          And some come from other counties.

          1. MtnLife

            What I meant by other countries was foreign arms dealers, often with organized crime ties. Yes, we have plenty of in-house manufacturers who usually ride high off the MIC hog that need to supplement their income, on or off the books, and the aforementioned stolen/previously used weapons can all come from more local sources. Point still is: illegal guns are just about as easy to find as illegal drugs and anyone with the desire can and will obtain them. Making them harder to obtain for your average person won’t make a significant difference, any change in supply from theft of homes will be taken up by the arms dealers.

  12. jfleni

    RE: How to fix a broken market in antibiotics

    Viral cures are the most logical answer, since fast buck fever (animal growth, agricultural profits, and more) will eventually just cause the same problem again.

  13. mellon

    Could people please bug the PNHP about the trade agreements eliminating the option of single payer, ever?

    I’m tired of doing it. Even though their own former staffer, Nicholas Skala basically discovered the issue, they seem to be in denial on the trade agreements basically cutting off the option of single payer, forever in the future, irreversibly. Due to their so called “standstill” and “ratchet” and ISDS, three separate mechanisms each designed to individually kill the risk of single payer from all future governments.

    Please bring up the fact that now, we know that strategy works, due to the Achmea vs. Slovak Republic case.

    Since Nick Skala died unexpectedly, suddenly at age 27, on August 8, 2009 (a few weeks after this video was made) I am beginning to think he was killed to send a message to them. What else am I supposed to think? After all, this is America and the blocking of single payer represents half to a third of a million dollars, PER PERSON, to the health insurance companies.

  14. Jill

    Glenn Greenwald: This is a complicated picture in both the Pando Post and the WaPo article itself.

    I do not trust Glenn. This does not mean I don’t agree with him on many points, nor does it mean I reject his reporting w/o cause. Everything must be judged on its own merits. I am grateful for the many illegalities his reporting has revealed. That said, working for Omidyar is a guarantee of silence about things the public has every right to know. One of those things is the names of people who USGinc. is targeting for political opposition to the powerful. That is powerful information which belongs to the people being wronged and to citizens as a whole, who, not personally targeted at this time, certainly could be in the future. Glenn has said he would release the information, he needs to release it.

    As to the WaPo article itself. The authors say the govt. did not intentionally set out to gather the information on 9 out of 10 people, yet they did gather it. That’s one very large mistake to keep repeating! Further, what is absolutely clear is the information is being stored. Why? Look at the nature of the stored information. This is information that could easily be turned to blackmail. That is exactly what the Stasi did. They used information to turn people into informants on their friends and neighbors. It appears this goes beyond voyeurism, which is bad enough, to being a way to control people.

    I want Glenn to release his information forthwith.

    1. James Levy

      Yes, the accident argument is spurious. If it was an accident, you delete it and go on your merry way, same as if you picked up the wrong suspect in a crime. What they are demanding is the equivalent of knowing you’ve picked up the wrong person in a manhunt but being able to hold them indefinitely just because you want to, just in case. Greenwald is not dumb and can’t possibly take such an argument seriously. He’s playing some kind of a game–perhaps an honest one, perhaps a self-serving one. We should know within a few months at the most.

      1. tawal

        I hope this story doesn’t go the way of the wikileaks email cache from Bank of America: Nowhere.

    2. Banger

      Just a note about the WaPost take. Reporters are not allowed to ever, ever, ever write that the national security state has any nefarious motives even when they admit to it. It’s always “unintentional” or “mistakes were made.”

      1. Jill

        Precisely James Levy and Banger,

        How believable is the WaPo? Not! A mistake doesn’t keep repeating 9 out of 10 times, nor are mistaken records kept on file. I read that story yesterday and I just couldn’t keep from thinking how they just can’t tell the truth, no matter what, nor how obvious the truth is.

  15. diptherio

    Here’s part two of the conversation with David Bollier and Ezra Rosser on Defining and Protecting the Commons (part one being today’s bottom link). Bollier especially, I think, has a very nuanced and pragmatic take on the issues.

    A couple of interesting points get made in the course of the discussion. One is that corporations are actually a type of monetized commons (interesting conception but not sure I buy it), and another is that markets themselves are a subset or particular variety of the larger Commons genus. Think trust, fair play and equitable enforcement as common pool resources. That I find an interesting and useful conception.

    And thanks, Lambert, for linking to part one.

  16. Elliot

    I know people love to bash Greenwald and adore Pando/Ames, but the story in the WaPo is NOT the same story Greenwald is working on. A stroll through Twitter yesterday would have shown people that. Too, except for a few stories, the WaPo and Greenwald stories have generally been on different items or aspects of the NSA’s intel gathering & legal aspects.

    Plus, bonus fun: people complained Greenwald wasn’t releasing enough info, now they complain Snowden allowed too much info out (the emails that are the foundation of the WaPo story). Nobody complaining about the rate of release of info seems to notice that a lot of the info from Snowden is background/supporting information so the news orgs can understand the story, and is not, drop for drop, necessary to all be published in the articles, and that it is ethical & sensible not to divulge innocents’ ID info, or identifying information that would cause harm to agents in the field or compromise real information gathering in the pursuit of threats.

    Greenwald and Gellman don’t spend all day casting aspersions on each other, they work stories and get on with it; sad to see Pando have such a burr under its blanket still.

  17. hpschd

    I recommend on The Real News Network:
    “Is This the Dawn of a Renewable Energy Revolution? ”

    A good interview with Peter Sinclair, who created:
    Climate Denial Crock of the Week

    If you go the the ‘Crock’ website you might find:
    “If You Love this Planet, “Coal Rollers” Hate You.”

    New and greater depths of abject stupidity. Be Warned!

    Den in Toronto

  18. Jess

    This is a reply to JSS at 1.1 above. Somehow I can no longer get my old computer and ancient browser to nest a reply. Anyhoo….

    Better for whom? My neighbor with the wife and three school-age kids whose employer dropped its health plan and sent all its employees to the ACA? Now his premiums are 40% higher, his co-pays doubled, his deductible more than doubled, fewer things are covered and, oh yes, his wife’s gyno and his kids’ lifelong pediatrician are both not in the network level that he can afford. Strange definition of better off, wouldn’t you say?

    1. mellon

      Both the government and the employers are saving money, plus getting an excuse to lay off as many people as they want, plus the ACA keeps wages down.

      Its confining the costs to the sick, cutting them off from society. And giving people a sense of false security.

      Plus its employing thousands of sock puppets on blogs (each manages 90 personas or more) to sing its benefits.

      Plus, its locking in the private for profit system, forever, by means of the FTAs. The people have spoken and they rejected public health care by electing neoliberal Obama.

      Sick people don’t vote, evidently, often having too many problems to live anywhere.

  19. Jake Mudrosti

    Regarding Pando’s “Why did Greenwald agree to government plea to hold major NSA story but the Post didn’t?”

    Notice this claim in the July 6 Pando article:
    Yesterday morning, the Washington Post and Edward Snowden apparently got tired of waiting for Greenwald to get the green light from Uncle Sam.”

    …and contrast it with this direct quote from the July 5 Gellman/Tate/Soltani Washington Post article:
    “… according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

    And if that’s not enough, here’s yet another direct quote from the Washington Post article:
    “Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations…

    So, yeah, Pando seems to have cultivated an atmosphere of sloppiness and/or delusion — among the folks they haven’t chosen to summarily fire.

  20. Keith Ackermann

    I didn’t realize Pierre Omidyar (Greenwald’s boss) has close ties to the White House. I found this passage in the Pando article extremely troubling:

    Yesterday afternoon, Mark Ames pointed me towards tweets which show Pierre Omidyar’s most senior aide, Matthew Bannick was back at the White House on June 25th (picture below). The occasion was a “Day of Impact” in which he announced that Omidyar Network would be co-investing an additional $100m with the US government, this time on domestic policy programs.

    The investment was accompanied by an Omidyar-backed report which “suggested” the government might consider dropping some of the “unnecessary regulatory barriers” preventing private philanthropists like Omidyar from investing their money overseas. (See here and here for Mark Ames’ reporting on how Omidyar invested in regime change in Ukraine, and helped to elect India’s new Prime Minister.)

    Greenwald maybe should’ve stuck with the Guardian.

  21. Kurt Sperry
    Interesting cable from WkiLeaks summarizing a meeting between Hillary &co. and Poroshenko %co. in December 2009, you can just feel the predatory payday loansharking dynamic going on here. There’s not enough money to pay the landlord (Russia) I know, but just sign these papers and we’ll see that that sticky February bill gets paid. We are, after all, here to help you. We just need you to make some–ahem–“critical reforms” and you’re good. We’ll even get you into the European Energy Community, which happened scant months later. Cue the IMF and the vampire squids that never let go until the host is dead.

    I wonder if they got all the “highly enriched” U out?

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