Links 8/13/14

Fields Medal mathematics prize won by woman for first time in its history Guardian (Richard Smith) and 2014 Fields Medal and Nevanlinna Prize Winners Announced Quanta (Nikki)

Gecko’s Sticky Secret: A Lot Of Toe Hair Forbes

Is the key to human evolution based on a ‘leaky’ membrane? Life’s earliest ancestor grew by harnessing energy from its surroundings Daily Mail. Lambert sent a link to the underlying study.

Using a Tactic Unseen in a Century, Countries Cordon Off Ebola-Racked Areas New York Times

Twitter reports 23 million users are actually ‘bots’ PBS

Here’s The World’s First Robotics Company To Pledge Not To Make ‘Killer Robots’ Business Insider (David L)

Japanese economy shrinks by 6.8% BBC

Anxiety Is Local in China’s Property Woes Wall Street Journal

Hager book: ‘You will not believe what you read’ New Zealand Herald. Richard Smith: “Super-nasty NZ blog site Whaleoil’s tight connection to the National Party was obvious even from afar, but there was never any proof. There is now, and evidently the connections go right to the top: Prime Minister Key. Doubtless a useful scale model of what goes on in bigger countries.”

Crisis stalks Europe again as deflation deepens, Germany stalls Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph


Gaza conflict: Allegations of war crimes BBC

UK to suspend military exports to Israel, if fighting in Gaza resumes Jerusalem Post

How Israel’s Assault on Gaza Is One Big Marketing Campaign for Its Weapons Manufacturers Alternet


Ukraine-News Flash: Bloodiest Days of Ukraine’s Ethnic Cleansing Expected to Come Now OpEd News

New Tax Threatens to Destroy Gas Production in Ukraine OilPrice

Russia Matters, Regardless of What US, EU Leaders Say [CHARTS] Value Walk

Russia Sends Aid Convoy to Ukraine Wall Street Journal


US sends more advisers to Iraq BBC

Maliki’s Bid to Keep Power in Iraq Seems to Collapse New York Times. No surprise here.

Boots on the ground as Iraq must be saved! MacroBusiness

Two Stories About Obama, Clinton, ISIS, and Iraq. One Is By Dana Milbank, And One Is Correct Wonkette

Pro-Isis leaflets distributed in London’s Oxford Street Financial Times

U.S. Airstrikes Against IS Won’t Be Enough OilPrice

The Roots of the Iraq and Syria Wars Go Back More than 60 Years George Washington

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Naughty NSA was so drunk on data it forgot collection rules Register

NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting Intercept (Brindle)

Feds Quietly Stop Reporting Some Hospital Errors Protect Patients Blog. Lambert: “So, we’re supposed to shop, but we can’t shop for hospitals on the basis that they’ll leave foreign objects in our bodies, or not. Alrighty then…”

Preet Bharara takes on Andrew Cuomo in battle of New York Financial Times

German Artists Say They Put White Flags on Brooklyn Bridge New York Times

Ferguson’s Militarized & Racist Response to Protests Against Police Killing of Mike Brown
Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

120 American Charter Schools and One Secretive Turkish Cleric Atlantic (furzy mouse)

Ex-MIT Professor, Son to Plead Guilty in Hedge Fund Scam Bloomberg (Li)

SEC Examines Alternative Funds Wall Street Journal

Bob Rubin Has a Fuzzy Critique of Janet Yellen’s Fed BusinessWeek. Bob Rubin wants to be able to say he issued a warning, but this warning is so light weight as to be meaningless.

Banks Push to Delay Rule on Investments Wall Street Journal. The “rule” is the Volcker Rule.

The De-industrialization of America Paul Craig Roberts (CDR)

Class Warfare

The mayors report in on Income Inequality (and miss the conclusion). Daniel Becker, Angry Bear

Even the Upper-Middle Class Struggles to Save Business Week

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Christopher Dale Rogers


    I’m flabbergasted to get a mention in the Links and certainly will not let it go to my head – many thanks and praise be given, if necessary, for all today’s links. Plenty to read and digest, and if I maybe so bold, undermines some claims that this website is not as focused on finance, banking and regulation as it once was. As if “Black Swan” threats are not important to the global economy, and these can be natural in nature, or man made. I’m also pleased to see that the UK is finally manning up and making some noise on the Gaza/Israel issue, this despite the fact that the UK’s Israeli Lobby forced a Liberal Democrat MP to retract a Tweet he made in support of those living in Gaza a few weeks ago – evidently the resignation of Lady Warsi from the Governments Cabinet has resulted in a change of opinion at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FOC), which means Osborne has been usurped. I hope now that the British FOC will revert to form on this particular issue in the ME, which was always more pro-Arabic and conciliatory than the US State Department – now lets hope common sense prevails in the Ukraine and with EU relations with Russia. Interesting times indeed!

    1. EmilianoZ

      CDR, is that you? Could as well be Charles Delano Roosevelt. You know, you dont really get a mention before they spell out your name in full. And I’m not envious or anything, I’ve been mentioned plenty.

  2. Christopher Dale Rogers

    “Japan’s economy shrinks after sales tax rise – BBC”.

    The contraction of the Japanese economy, a massive 6.8% decline, is staggering, as are the lame excuses economists and Japanese minister are coming out with to discount the decline as a one-off which will bounce back after the sales tax increase is digested by the Japanese consumer.

    What planet are these people living on, first and foremost, the sale tax increase was only 3%, this on a very low sales tax basis of 5% – a large 60% increase I admit, but hardly on par with sales taxes in Europe, which are above the 20% mark across most EU-nation states. The decline is all the more remarkable if we compare it with the UK, which increased its consumption tax from 17.5% to 20%, this after the previous UK Labour government, had cut it from 17.5% to 15% in an effort to mitigate the GFC or 2008, note, that the impact on UK GDP was no where as great as that witness now in Japan.

    Could it be that economic issues impacting China are already having an adverse impact on Japan’s economy, which has been a large investor in China since early the early 2000’s, and is reliant greatly on exports to the USA and EU, both of which are now either on the precipice of recession, or witnesses a non-jobs growth recovery combined with anaemic consumer spending.

    Further, and as if anyone has not noticed, it seems that the conditions that resulted in the GFC are repeating themselves, this despite numerous regulatory changes to mitigate against another GFC. Please note many of the clauses in Dodd Frank’s have yet to take full effect, nor those contained in the EU’s CDRIV, not too mention Basel III. Indeed, the costs of compliance alone in many Asian banks have grown exponentially, despite the fact that they are on the whole well capitalised, with the obvious exception of Japan’s banking sector, which on the whole remains a basket case.

    It seems from this bod at least that QE on the whole has been an unmitigated disaster, for when combined with ZIRP has resulted in huge asset bubbles, notably in housing in Asia’s most significant economies, many of which are either reliant on exports to the West, or regional exports to China and Japan. Interconnectedness is alive and well I’m afraid to say and the omens are not good, and that’s before we stencil in geopolitical risks and natural disasters, be they Ebola or the increased level of typhoon activity and strength in Asia, as witnessed once more in the Philippines and Japan in the past month.

    Feedback welcome, but it seems from where I’m sitting that the next crisis may be a lot closer than the 2016 timeline a few economists and hedge fund activists have mentioned in passing. All eyes on China is all I can add at this juncture.

    1. JeffC

      The headline “Japanese economy shrinks by 6.8%” was written by a mathematically incompetent editor, as the first line of the article clarifies that what is meant is that their GDP contracted last quarter by a 6.8% annualized rate. In other words, it contracted by some 1.75% over the quarter. Such conflation of a drop with an annualized rate of drop is, sad to say, extraordinarily common in financial reporting, even though it is analogous to (give or take a logarithm) confusing “the car averaged 3 mph over the past 15 min” with “the car went 3 mi in the past 15 min.”

      Pet peeve.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers


        Many thank’s for the clarification and point taken, a less than 2% drop is not so dramatic, although, QE in steroids as practiced by the BoJ has been far from an astounding success. I’d need to correspond with a few Japanese economists and academics to get a better handle on the situation presently, but nonetheless the omens for the global economy, and Asia Pac as a region are none too stella, and that’s by just quickly browsing Australian media and blogs, together with a few noted economists who’s work is not freely accessible as its proprietary – so cannot provide link I’m afraid.

        1. Paul Niemi

          Yes, economic issues impacting China’s economy are ricocheting on Japan. Look at the drop in credit creation in China recently, despite attempts to ease credit. Your observation is correct, as China is one of Japan’s biggest customers. If China is having trouble paying its bills, then Japan will feel it.

        2. JoeK

          Sorry, couldn’t resist :-).

          Perhaps the most frightening line in the article–except that we’re so accustomed to this I’m sure it rarely registers–is that 60% of the Japanese economy is made up of consumer spending. Spending, as I do, a fair amount of time, but not money, in both Japan and Hong Kong, I never cease to be amazed at the mindless consumerism that dominates both societies. Some day that merry-go-round has got to stop.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            ‘Quo vadis, my Japanese Zen monks?’ – last heard about a thousand years ago…or maybe just before the arrival of Edo’s Ukiyo world.

      2. ewmayer

        The headline “Japanese economy shrinks by 6.8%” was written by a mathematically incompetent editor, as the first line of the article clarifies that what is meant is that their GDP contracted last quarter by a 6.8% annualized rate.

        Annualized is the way GDP is nearly-universally reported, nothing incompetent about it, except on the part of readers who attempt to extrapolate-to-annual by multiplying by 4.

    2. Antifa

      Radiation levels in the soil, water and food are steadily rising in Tokyo, a city of around 20 million that will require evacuation the moment an earthquake topples Reactor Four’s spent fuel pool at Fukushima. How odd to hear discussion of the Japanese economy going up and down — it’s like analyzing the resume and job prospects of a terminal cancer patient. The city of Tokyo IS terminal, as is the entire northern half of Japan, perhaps five minutes from now or perhaps a few years hence. Fukushima cannot be fixed or cleaned up, ever. Ever. The Japanese economy has seismic faults beneath it which offer it only a future of no future.

      1. JoeK

        Yes, Japan has really screwed itself, and is taking down the N. Pacific with it. Most of the people, certainly most of the ex-pats I know who are still living there, seem to be sleep-walking in a state of denial, or sort of half-aware but choosing to look the other way. A not-uncommon reaction to any easily-ignored horror. The feudalistic and pretty totalitarian political mindset and system that has been in place there for centuries will show its fangs and claws as soon as one or more of the molten cores hits the groundwater and the resulting steam explosion (which is what blew up reactor 3, not hydrogen) re-opens the nuclear wound and then some. Then we’re really going to be living in some interesting times; the exciting thing, if you’re properly dispassionate, is it could happen, as you say, in five minutes, five months, or five years.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Japan is the world leader in miniaturization.

      They can shrink anything, including their economy better than anyone else.

      In America, bigger is better…or maybe just in Texas.

      Go GDP Growth!!! Give me a G. Give me a D. Give me a P. Go, GDP!!!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are, I think, also shrinking their population…technically speaking, miniaturizing their population size.

        1. JoeK

          I’ve often imagined Japanese tourists traveling around America and commenting amongst them selves “oh, we have the same thing in Japan, only smaller!”

          1. Jim Haygood

            As far as they are concerned, they invented the small house movement.

            A Japanese colleague once invited me to ‘come have dinner at my rabbit hutch,’ mocking a taunt in an EC working paper which became an ironic popular watchword in Japan.

    4. Jim Haygood

      … the sales tax increase was only 3%, this on a very low sales tax basis of 5% – a large 60% increase I admit …

      Mina-san wa [folks], we have been through this twice before. Japanese PM Noboru Takeshita first won enactment of a 3% consumption tax in 1989. He resigned the premiership shortly thereafter as his poll ratings fell into single digits. Within months the immense Nikkei bubble popped, bringing both stocks and land prices crashing down by 80%.

      In April 1997 under PM Ryutaro Hashimoto consumption tax was hiked to 5%. Promptly the Japanese economy fell into recession.

      Now the fools hiked it to 8%, and GDP got smacked again, as any idiot could have foreseen. One down quarter don’t make an official recession, but the chances are pretty good that it will become one.

      Japanese say that people over 50 can’t learn anything. But in the case of Japanese politicians, they are ineducable at any age.

    5. YY

      This was totally expected and orchestrated in the sense that for weeks prior to the sales tax increase there was a huge purchasing boom in consumer durables. Even non-durables to the extent practical got hoarded. It turns out that a good portion of the populace can be mobilized by the incessant media and retailer campaign to buy before the deadline. If there were no slowdown after the kicking in of the modest increase one would have to accept that consumers are totally irrational. This is not significant news.

  3. Ned Ludd

    Looking through the accounts I follow on Twitter, I realized a lot could be bots. The interactions with other Twitter accounts could easily be generated by an ELIZA-style program, and they often post a lot of retweets. After viewing someone’s alleged photo, it is easy to assume that there is a person authoring the account.

    I know that forums, such as Naked Capitalism, have a massive problem dealing with spambots. I suppose it is only a matter of time before sophisticated bots start interacting with us, promoting talking points instead of products.

    1. Larry Barber

      Yes, may have already happened. We’ll know for sure when the Supreme Court says they have free speech rights and can’t be silenced by technical means.

    2. frosty zoom

      well, it can’t be that bad here as i had a witty pseudobot retort which was rejected.

      or perhaps it wasn’t bottish enough..

  4. abynormal

    I Love Today’s Antidote…Most Needed in these times. Thank You

    “As children get older, this incidental outdoor activity–say, while waiting to be called to eat–becomes less bumptious, physically and entails more loitering with others, sizing people up, flirting, talking, pushing, shoving and horseplay. Adolescents are always being criticized for this kind of loitering, but they can hardly grow up without it. The trouble comes when it is done not within society, but as a form of outlaw life.

    The requisite for any of these varieties of incidental play is not pretentious equipment of any sort, but rather space at an immediately convenient and interesting place. The play gets crowded out if sidewalks are too narrow relative to the total demands put on them. It is especially crowded out if the sidewalks also lack minor irregularities in building line. An immense amount of both loitering and play goes on in shallow sidewalk niches out of the line of moving pedestrian feet.”
    Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

  5. A fine mess you've gotten us into, Ollie

    Ferguson is a COG/COOP pilot program. Shooting that kid was just as much a provocation as the NYPD trick of macing cute girls, and it generates useful data about domestic repression tactics and results. That’s not to say the killer cop of Ferguson was in on the plan. He was probably just shitting his pants with fear. We think of fear-mongering propaganda as a technique aimed at the public but it works even better on cops, who are primed with us-and-them hostility and steeped in terror hysteria. The next phase of COG will involve intensifying police violence to induce civil disturbances that can justify further police militarization and imposition of measures under E.O. 12656 and classified sequentia.

    CIA has dispersed to the sticks to run the country hands-on. They told us this would happen after the nuclear war, not before. But this was the plan all along. Just like Zappa said, they’re taking down the set and now you can see the brick wall.

    1. Ulysses

      Very true! The no-fly-zone imposed on a part of Missouri airspace, and the complete cutting off of Ferguson from the outside world shows the willingness of these thugs to treat U.S. citizens just like “insurgents” in Iraq.

      We who are pigment-challenged should not think our white privilege will spare us, either. All of us who continue to resist kleptocratic rule by any means will soon be in the crosshairs as well.

      Our best hope lies in denouncing the increased police violence against Americans loudly right now, before it becomes the new normal and everyone is too afraid to continue any sort of resistance!!

    2. MtnLife

      From Occupy to the Boston bombing lockdown and the likes of Garner and Brown the goal is to make overwhelming police state reaction, civil rights suspension, and/or unpunished police state abuses seem normal. The public reaction is usually incredibly muted or lacking in almost all instances, maybe with a little lip service pooh-poohing from irrelevant mouthpiece pundits. Most Americans are okay with this because it happens to “deserving” parties (read poor, non-white, non-christian) or provides them with a false sense of security and comfort that allows them to remain in their fantasy world. In a world where we have rapidly militarizing domestic law enforcement, an us vs them mentality where the “them” are less than human (cops in the Ferguson case calling the people animals as the most recent example), and where dissent is “political violence”, I can’t understand how intelligent people can call for more gun control over the actions of a few morons and nutcases . Unless they are wealthy and white do they expect our increasingly hostile and unaccountable police force to protect them? There is a forest beyond those trees. *snarkcasm alert* Maybe we should champion gun control in Gaza too. They don’t “need” guns: there are no dangerous wild animals and they live in cities (obviously the police protect them). Don’t want anyone to shoot each other over a domestic dispute now. Protect the women and kids!

      1. fresno dan

        I repeat my comment from yesterday, just again to point out the incredible propensity of the police to shoot first and ask questions later. But the sad fact seems that Americans want to live in a police state. In the Dorner case, the police shot people of a different race and a DIFFERENT SEX….and the through investigation afterwards resulted in……nothing happening. At the least, they should have been fired for bad marksmanship (sarc).

        August 12, 2014 at 10:57 am
        This is a read between the lines kinda thing:
        Misty Holt-Singh, whose 12-year-old daughter was waiting in her car when she was taken at gunpoint at a Stockton bank on July 16, was shot after she was used as a human shield by one of four suspects, said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones.

        A preliminary ballistics report cited by Jones Monday showed that Holt-Singh “was shot about 10 times,” he said. The final report, likely detailing her injuries, he said, “will not be ready for some time.”
        Jaime Ramos, 19, the only surviving suspect in the Bank of the West takeover, was identified by police as the one who used the 41-year-old mother of two as a protective shield.

        So the police manage to hit the hostage 10 times, and the hostage taker….not once.
        So was it really necessary for the police to shoot at this time??? As there was a 51 mile chase, and they got (well, three bank robbers were killed) and the hostage taker was captured, it seems like all the gunfire by the police was unnecessary.
        “will not be ready for some time.”
        They left out the reason – the police have to make up excuses for why they managed to shoot the hostage more than the criminals. Like the Dorner* case, it appears the police gunfire is better at hitting the innocent than the criminals…..
        Maybe the NRA is right….we need guns for self protection…..against the police (sarc….maybe. We’ll see what the facts are in the Michael Brown case)

        *In two separate incidents during the manhunt, police shot at three civilians unrelated to Dorner, mistaking their pickup trucks for the vehicle being driven by Dorner. One of the civilians was hit by the police gunfire, another was wounded by shattered glass, and a third individual was injured when police rammed his vehicle and opened fire.[7][8]

      2. OIFVet

        Do you really think you can really overcome organized and heavily militarized state violence by arming more civilians? Unless a large proportion of the civilian population is willing to engage in a long and costly insurgency, and said insurgency is sponsored by another state, the idea that more guns will somehow keep the state in check is unrealistic. Now, if you were to propose resistance by refusing to participate in the political-financial system and combine it with cyber sabotage of its infrastructure, I will be happy to hear you out.

        1. James Levy

          Vet, I agree–the fantasy that the cops and the Feds are going to shrink from our AR-15s and Glocks is complete balderdash. It will just justify the killing to more people. People don’t want to admit that we are powerless in an armed confrontation with the coercive power of the State unless much or most of the State operatives come over to our side, in which case our little Winchesters and Smith and Wesson’s won’t make any difference. No internal revolution in the 20th century succeeded where the coercive organs of state were loyal and still functioning. And without outside support, most colonial revolutions flopped or were just used as an excuse for bankrupt European states to exit unprofitable colonies. But the need to feel powerful trumps the reality 9 times out of ten.

        2. hunkerdown

          What OIFVet said. Get over the romantic pop gun fetish; you may as well bring a knife to a gunfight. If you look at history, you’ll see the RKBA was intended to protect the wealthy against insurrection more than the plebes against colonization (natch) — which is why it’s apparently very important that the right wing, being on board with authoritarianism, have them and the left wing, being on board with equality and fraternity, treat them as if they had cooties: so that the correct outcome will be had whenever the drama must be played out.

          Like OIFVet, if you want to talk about *effective* ways of disabling organized power, there might be something worth talking about. But for bloody sake St. Augustine is a tale-spinner, NOT a military planner. Ditto for Hollywood. If you try to revolt against The Man, without cyber, air, SIGINT and logistics support, a plan, and a well-protected command structure, you’re not part of an organism with intent, just an undifferentiated mass of cells and therefore ridiculously likely to become toast by a force with all those things. With all those things, you’re only maybe toast.

        3. fresno dan

          As I said “sarc” (i.e., sarcasm).
          “Now, if you were to propose resistance by refusing to participate in the political-financial system and combine it with cyber sabotage of its infrastructure, I will be happy to hear you out.”
          Well, I think a good many people aren’t participating in the political financial system already – but not voluntarily.

          Here is another example of a police shooting. And this is a middle aged white man, which I guess shows the police will put down who ever is necessary to put down….

          Brian Newt Beaird, a 51-year-old white man, was shot and killed by police in downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 2013, after leading authorities on high-speed chase through South Los Angeles that ended when he crashed his silver Corvette.

          Beaird, of Oceanside, was pronounced dead at California Hospital Medical Center at about 11:13 p.m., said Los Angeles coroner’s Capt. John Kades.

          The pursuit began about 9:30 p.m. when L.A. County sheriff’s deputies apparently tried to stop Beaird, for driving recklessly.

          Beaird finally crashed his silver Corvette into another car near Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street about 10:30 p.m., following an hour-long pursuit that wound through South Gate, Huntington Park and South L.A., police said.

          Three LAPD officers fired an estimated 22 times at Brian Beaird, who was unarmed. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has put the officers on extended leave pending a final investigation, saying he was “very concerned” by the incident.

          Beaird’s father, Billy Beaird , watched live as his son, a 51-year-old disabled veteran, staggered out of the Corvette, briefly raised his hands, was fatally shot multiple times in the front and back, and fell to the ground.
          It is very frustrating to follow up on these incidents. Sometimes that is because of lawsuits, and sometimes I imagine it is because it is purposeful strategy of just having it be forgotten.

          Now I look at that video, and I would say that man was murdered.
          So……8 months later, any LA police indicted for murder?????????????????
          Usually, I would say “I hurt myself laughing” but this is too serious.
          I really no longer recognize this as the country I grew up in. Maybe it was ever thus – we just didn’t have video. But it says something when you see it with your own eyes and nothing happens.

          I can’t find any information if the police were indicted for murder or any serious crime. I suspect not. The idea that the police should be controlled by civil suits is repugnant.
          If someone can provide a link about police discipline in LA, I would appreciate it – maybe to find that at least these police were fired to restore some modicum of my faith in the system….

          1. OIFVet

            @Fresno Dan: The reply was for Mtn Life. Yes, many people are involuntarily excluded. Many more need to voluntarily join them and refuse to participate. Call it “denial of rents”, rents being the sustenance of the vampire squid.

          1. OIFVet

            Logistics, for one thing. Modern warfare against our security apparatus requires enormous logistical capacity, and this capacity is controlled by the same people that control the security apparatus. So where will you find logistical support and the sponsor willing to fund it? Where are your safe heavens for your militia fighters, in Canada ? Most of all, who are your planners and where is their plan? Hint: “The Turner Diaries” is a work of fiction. And who is the moron that plans to attack the opponent’s strength, anyway? It will create lots of heroes, all of them dead in a lost fight. The object is to win, not to die. That’s why.

            Therefore you attack the opponent’s vital area, where the weakness lies: the financial system. It is what funds the political and security apparatus. Its weakness has already been exposed, take advantage of it. The Russians and the Chinese do not invest in cyber warfare for the fun of it, you know. You knock out the financial system and the political and security apparatus will be yours for the taking, eventually.

            But if you do want to be a hero, be my guest and good luck with that.

          2. hunkerdown

            One good reason can be found in the evolution of chemical weapons away from irritants and corrosives, which are direct attacks on the bodily functions required to fight, and toward nerve agents, which are attacks on the systems of coordination and decision-making.

            It might be different if a few tens of thousands of armed people were ready to shoot their masters instead of their uppity peers, had lists, and had a means of coordination, but they don’t (AFAIK). Disorganized “free lancers” might induce localized trauma but don’t affect the alignment of the overall network very much, and that’s assuming they’ve identified targets based on an objective account of facts on the ground, and not ancient cultural prejudices stoked by the consumption of opinion masquerading as news.

            1. Ulysses

              The only feasible plan for an armed revolt against the United Stasi States of America would need to win over a considerable fraction of the U.S. military. The fact that we no longer have the draft means that the bulk of our service people are from families of modest means, and therefore wouldn’t necessarily identify with plutocrats. On the other hand, military service seems to many of them to be a stable career with opportunities for advancement, where throwing in their lot with the revolution is clearly a big risk.

              Who knows what will happen when push comes to shove? The Praetorian Guard eventually turned against the emperor. We could even see, like in the Civil War a century and a half ago, a fairly even split within the military establishment.

              The only certainty, sadly, is that push will come to shove and that Frank Zappa knew what he was talking about.

  6. trish

    re Is the key to human evolution based on a ‘leaky’ membrane? Life’s earliest ancestor grew by harnessing energy from its surroundings.

    “harnessing energy from its surroundings”…our “birth” and our demise?

    within the huge limits of my chemistry illiteracy, as described it makes such intuitive sense to me- seems a simple, beautiful explanation for what might have occurred. Down deep in a vent, bathed by warm seawater billions of years ago… lovely picture first thing in the morning…

    what humans can do. and then there’s all the rest of the links…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Our original ‘sin’ – the enclosure of commons with a membrane to form the first cell (and ‘Life’).

      Previous to that ‘sin,’ you had free ‘loving’ atoms and molecules making love with any nearby atoms and molecules, according to their chemistry of love, powered by solar energy, in the primordial soup, forming ‘communes’ and ‘co-ops’ everywhere.

      1. hunkerdown

        “Life” is the self-reproducing, gratuitous maintenance of an energy gradient, isn’t it?

  7. PeterP

    Half of the links on Ukraine have pitiful quality. See today’s first and all from Moon of Alabama. They read like the authors forgot to take their meds and scribble uninformed opinions posing as facts from their momma’s basement. Aren’t there better, more critical and objective sources opposing Kiev to be found? I read these for the comical value.

    1. Paper Mac

      “See today’s first and all from Moon of Alabama.”

      No such piece in the links, as far as I can see..

    2. Ned Ludd

      Why is living with a parent, especially in this low-wage economy, used as a slur? Oh, never mind, from your comment, I can see that insults in lieu of substance are your stock-in-trade.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Have you watched any of her press briefings? They are so vacuous, they should just have a Twitter bot answering people’s questions.

        1. OIFVet

          Exactly why Peter Pan above will find them irresistibly well-informed and true. No uncomfortable cognitive dissonance to deal with, geography at the US third grade level, direct from Papa Kerry’s basement, what’s not to like?

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Please don’t forget Marie Harf, who currently serves as “deputy” under Jen Psaki.

        Certainly makes one wonder who’s keeping the minutes of the Tri-Delt weekly sorority meetings.

        Apparently the US doesn’t do “gravitas” any more.

        1. OIFVet

          “Certainly makes one wonder who’s keeping the minutes of the Tri-Delt weekly sorority meetings.”

          Harf. Psaki is the social chair, Nuland’s the president, and the Irish banshee is the representative to the inter-Greek council. You just know that every time she wails someone’s getting whacked.

        2. Whine Country

          Hopefully readers get your reference to the SNL Tri-Delts. My daughter was a Tri-Delt in real life at UCSB and I can assure you that the SNL skits were not meant to be taken seriously.

        3. ohmyheck

          Is this Harf? I wanted to make some comment about the Ex-High School, Popular Mean Girl now talking to the Press. I am gobsmacked. “It is, because I said so.” Um, no gurlfriend, that tactic won’t work anymore. And no, those glasses don’t make you look like a grown up.

          Gov’t cannot possibly find ANYONE actually qualified, to do this? Anaylsis please. Where’s Banger?

          Start at 1:04 mark.

          1. Ned Ludd

            Assad supported ISIS??

            Marie Harf: ISIS started really gaining strength in Syria when Assad a) facilitated their rise, helped facilitate their move into Iraq, and gave them a security environment in which they could operate. […]

            Marie Harf: I don’t have more specifics for you than that.

            Reporter: So, you don’t think that the Syrian regime was actually fighting ISIS?

            Marie Harf: Look, I know that they supported their rise and they helped facilitate them into Iraq. I know that.

            Apparently, there is a benefit to being a moron when you are the deputy spokesperson for the US State Department.

            1. craazyboy

              That is really, really amazing. Betcha 60 lbs ago Maria was a cheerleader too.

              Don’t know why she didn’t play up the good news more – ISIS didn’t find any WMDs in Iraq. At least things couldn’t have been worse. Or something.

    3. JerseyJeffersonian

      Oh, so Bernhard’s cut and thrust over at Moon of Alabama sticks in your craw? How very unsurprising.

      Hail to your NeoNazi heroes. Send ’em our regards, why don’t you?

        1. Peter Pan

          I just want to clarify that PeterP is NOT Peter Pan.

          This Peter Pan is a warmonger that wants Russia to invade both Ukraine and Moldova so as to bitch slap the USA back into reality.

          Perhaps then the USA will realize that Russia is an international power with intercontinental ballistic missiles with second strike capability and not just a regional power.

          1. OIFVet

            Sorry to have put this terrible stain on your good name, it wasn’t intentional. It simply came to me: PeterP – Peter Pan. I wish there was an edit function to fix it. Again, I apologize.

    4. Christopher Dale Rogers

      Is “PeterP” new to the forum, or possibly a new recruit for the “US Exceptionalism” brigade?

      That said, would be nice to see some further detail on who or what actually caused the MAL disaster, the MSM has gone all quiet on that front, there again, at least it’s reporting on the actual fighting and Kiev’s desire to impose ethnic cleansing on the disputed fracking fields, perhaps Biden’s son can update us on this issue, or Mr. Kerry if his brain can be found, which is now on walkabout again after he removed it from his cranium to stand overnight in a container on his bedside table.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Indeed, the deathly silence on the MH17 shootdown is deafening. Not yet a word about the air traffic/cockpit recordings, no data from the black boxes, the ground investigation, or satellite/radar records. Nada, zero, zip, just the ear-piercing trill of crickets. It’s surprising that data fabrication, voice-synthesis recording, and Photoshopping would take so long. I suppose that after 911, yellow cake, deep throat, WMD, chemical weapons attacks, Nuland intercepts, ISIS sponsorship, etc., they’re being more meticulous about cross-correlation of sources.

        Meanwhile, within this perfect vacuum of evidence for the Neocon causus belli, and highly dubious reports of Russian shelling, we are willing to risk nuclear Armageddon. The criminal insanity of it is literally mind-blowing, beyond reasonable comprehension.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Or the satellite photos of the (putative) Buk contrails. Odd. But heck, we’ve got tweets! So what more do we need? At least when Bush was doing the WMD thing, he had the commmon human decency to try to fake physical evidence.

        2. craazyboy

          There is hope. Someone posted a link to a press report in one of our discussions at NC in the past few days that indicated there is an “official” – but not directly “interested” government (or spooks) connected – team of Dutch based investigators working on it. They stated they had investigators on the crash site in the early days collecting evidence, they have interviewed air traffic controllers, and did get the flight recorder evidence when it passed thru Dutch hands.

          They said they hope to have a “preliminary” public report in a few more weeks. They stated they will just try and identity conclusively the murder weapon, but leave the analysis of whom wielding it and why for additional public analysis.

      2. craazyboy

        There is hope. Someone posted a link to a press report in one of our discussions at NC in the past few days that indicated there is an “official” – but not directly “interested” government (or spooks) connected – team of Dutch based investigators working on it. They stated they had investigators on the crash site in the early days collecting evidence, they have interviewed air traffic controllers, and did get the flight recorder evidence when it passed thru Dutch hands.

        They said they hope to have a “preliminary” public report in a few more weeks. They stated they will just try and identity conclusively the murder weapon, but leave the analysis of whom wielding it and why for additional public analysis.

      1. Vatch

        Actually, there are four. “Russia Sends Aid Convoy to Ukraine – Wall Street Journal” is mistakenly categorized as an Iraq article.

      2. Ned Ludd

        Actually, there are four links. You forgot to count the Moon of Alabama post, which is invisible.

          1. Ned Ludd

            I have not seen that episode (more of a fan of TOS), but wasn’t it anti-torture? Amazing – and scary – how much our society has changed.

            1. hunkerdown

              I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, and ST:TNG content is pretty unmemorable on the whole, but I’ve seen the phrase pop up a bit recently and it happened to fit.

    5. BondsfSteel

      Seconded. “Ukraine-News Flash: Bloodiest Days of Ukraine’s Ethnic Cleansing Expected to Come Now” was simply not credible.

      If you look at the author’s other articles, and took them at face value, you’d believe the Ukrainian crisis is a Nazi plot by Obama to orchestrate genocide:

      As you scroll down the list, the crazy keeps going… *sigh*

      1. hunkerdown

        Playing with Uncanny Valley, here? In fact, it’s only a neoliberal plot by Joe Biden to get his spawn’s oligarch card punched. That Novorossiya has to be made unlivable to do that is just a detail.

  8. Klassy

    Paul Craig Roberts: “This is the profile of a Third World country.”
    I read this as: “This is the profile of a Third Way country.”
    (and definitely not the Allende or Gorby kind)

    PCR looks so imperious in the photo at the head of the article and looks like a different person in the photo with his kitties.

    1. wendy

      Note the definition of “upper middle-class household”: those earning $75k – $99,999/year.

      I guess if you suppress wages enough, even modest earnings become, by definition, above-average. Sad.

      1. diptherio

        Depends on where you live. In “fly-over country,” where I live, 75-100K is upper-middle. Median income for individuals in the state is only ~$25,000/yr and 100K is about the cut off for the top quintile in income, nationally; so calling $75-100K upper-middle seems about right–covering the fourth quintile in the distribuiton.

        Of course, if you live in NYC or San Fran, it’s a much different story. The numbers, as my old advisor liked to say, never speak for themselves…and like a mankini, reveal much, expcept what you’re actually interested in (somebody else came up with that, but I can’t remeber who…)

      2. Carla

        Yes, thanks diptherio. You beat me to it: those who think an income of $75,000 to $100,000 is only moderate obviously live on the coasts. Here in fly-over country, which includes the midwest, the great plains and the south and is geographically MOST of the country, that’s definitely upper-middle.

        What I found sad was seeing a tiny little condo (900 sq. ft.) in a featureless development (one of hundreds of complexes averaging 500 units each) in the bleak suburbs north of San Diego that was going for $300,000. Where I live, that would buy you a 2,500 sq. ft. house in a great neighborhood with TREES, and NEIGHBORS. But folks on the coasts live in a different world; they like it there. I like it here.

        1. Carla

          Oops… I forgot to say: a really beautiful house with unique architectural details, original hardwood floors, gorgeous windows, and character.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      I can certainly understand that dichotomy between the stern, angry look in one photo and the relaxed, smiling visage in the other.

      As I peruse the news regarding the abuses perpetrated by the psychopathic elites, my lips thin, my eyes narrow, and my body language in general communicates my hostility to them and their actions. But then, you should contrast this with my demeanor when it’s just me enjoying the company of our two rescued dogs. Kinda the same deal as you see with PCR, I should imagine.

      P.S.: Thanks to Christopher Dale Rogers for suggesting this link. PCR is a warrior, and his work has helped me to catch a clue on various issues. Hyperbolic for some tastes, but his scathing disapprobation for the malefactors is always appropriate once one twigs to the fulsome justification for his scorn.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        It’s the same sharp contrast in NC articles and antidotes. One kind triggers nausea, jaw-clenching, an high blood pressure; the other delight and joy. Both are within us too; only one is real and true.

        1. tim s

          “only one is real and true”

          By this, I take it you mean the delight & joy.

          I assume that because most in the west would say so. That got me thinking how close this may be to the heart of our problems. This blog generally focuses on evil, primarily using financial tools, but not exclusively. The ” nausea, jaw-clenching, an high blood pressure” are natural reactions to these presented issues. Good people should react strongly to evil, yet we don’t – we tend to suppress a true reaction, even deny it, as if it were beneath our dignity or unchristian. By suppressing our passions against evil, it goes unchecked.

          Fear undoubtedly plays a great role in our inaction, but this denial must also be significant.

          1. Doug Terpstra

            Yes, fear (so often masked with anger) is an energy field that isolates, divides, paralyzes, and chokes constructive living. I think “seek and you shall find” in a certain sense means you tend to find what you look for, whether good or bad, i.e., “the fears of the wicked shall come to pass” and the “faith of the righteous will be rewarded”. Antidotes (prayer, meditation, sharing, caring, empathy) remind us that life with love is so worth living regardless of the corruption, terror, and violence that surrounds us everywhere we look. They yield a peripheral glimpse and assurance of something other-dimensional that’s more real and eternal than the agitated, whirring atomic fields of energy we accept as material and substantial.

          2. hunkerdown

            It’s interesting to consider “Judeo-Christianity”, sometimes called “American Exceptionalism”, as a civil religion built upon the worst, most injurious aspects of both its parent cultures, in the spirit of Milton’s “Evil, be thou my good”

    3. Alejandro

      An article by three guys, about the prescience of an article by one of the guys and another guy, ten years prior. The other guy in the prescient article, turns out to be a U.S. senator. Neither article clarifies the U.S. Senators position or thinking about “free trade” in today’s context, as the only guy in position to actually make a difference.

      For much clearer prescience, you can go ten years prior from the “ten years prior prescient article” to 1994 ( starting at 1:48);
      For even clearer prescience, you can go ten years prior to that, to 1984-by George Orwell

  9. Ulysses

    From the Glenn Greenwald/Andrew Fishman Intercept piece linked above:

    “None of these serious doubts, fallacies, or questions about this company and its “report” were even alluded to by Temple-Raston in her NPR story, beyond a cursory and very limited Schneier quote tacked onto the end. It’s hardly surprising that these kinds of firms, linked to and dependent on the largesse of the U.S. intelligence community, produce pro-government tripe of this sort. That’s their function. It’s the job of media outlets to scrutinize these claims, not mindlessly repeat and then glorify them as NPR did here.”

    While it definitely should be the job of media outlets to maintain a skeptical and critical attitude towards government and corporate propaganda, very few of them ever do this. It is up to us to help our friends and neighbors learn the truth that exists far outside the MSM narrative.

    While I’m encouraged by the growing skepticism of the general public towards the MSM, I also find it disconcerting that so many people find uninformed opportunists like Sarah Palin to be a credible source of insight on current events.

    Perhaps the best way to stay informed is to identify those particular groups and individuals who are resisting the status quo, and listen to what they learn in the course of their struggles. Indigenous groups on environmental threats, civil libertarians on the Orwellian overreach of the surveillance state, people like Lori Wallach, Yves Smith or David Dayen on the machinations of Wall St. kleptocrats, etc.

    Street theatre is also an effective tool to counter the MSM spin on things. IdleNoMore, Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, The People’s Puppets of OWS, the Rude and Mechanical Orchestra are only a few of the many creative people contributing in important ways to the expansion of our mental horizons.

    I’m trying harder in my own life to do more than merely preach to the choir.
    “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
    ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Happy Wednesday everyone!!

  10. abynormal

    A world built for the rich
    ” We are right to be worried about these new realities. Gated communities and hostile architecture are brushed aside as temporary issues at best, to be fixed when “times are better”. But what we should be worried about is not solely if we are building a world to be enjoyed only by the rich in the short term, but also what that world might look like in the long term.

    To us, such city furniture may look simply as a temporary manifestation of bad character, brought on by a prolonged economic crisis. But to those that will inherit them, they may look like no more than war zones; financial battlefields, from which humanity is totally absent.”

    “All good people agree,
    And all good people say,
    All nice people, like Us, are We
    And every one else is They:
    But if you cross over the sea,
    Instead of over the way,
    You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
    As only a sort of They!”
    Kipling, Debits and Credits

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    I was going to make a derisive comment about the sudden concern of the US Gov over the “potential” Yazidi genocide in the Middle East, after having studiously ignored and financially supported the genocides of the past weeks/months in Gaza and Ukraine. I had planned to ridicule the no-price-is-too-high, lightening fast mobilization of american military might, in service of our unflinching and firmly-held commitment to the protection of “human rights,” wherever in the world they are being violated.

    What I did not realize, was that “yazidi” is Arabic for oil, and “Erbil” means black gold (or Texas tea) in the Kurdish language.

    “Never mind.”–Emily Litella

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      I concur, strange is it not that the relief being extended to the refugees in ISIS controlled territory, both essentials and no doubt a few guns and ammo, is being hyped by the MSM as a splendid example of the West assisting the poor souls being murdered by those the West actually armed. In the meantime, its being reported that the Russian aid convoy of 200 trucks entering the Ukraine’s tracking fields is not humanitarian in nature, rather it’s a phalanx for a full scale Russian incursion into the disputed tracking fields, and as such poses an existential threat to NATO, World peace and mankind itself.

      If it were not for the hilarity of the claims, I may have actually taken them seriously had I not been immunised completely to MSM BS following Tony Blair’s Parliamentary speech making the case for regime change in Iraq and the threat that the weapons of mass destruction Saddam poised to the Wests very survival as bastions of democracy and enlightened liberalism, that and his decision to embrace the Pope.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        So here Pat Buchanan asserts that the Yazidi humanitarian crisis has been averted. You’d certainly never know it from MSNBC this morning. A clip I just saw from a state department spokesman (I think state department) stated that the 135 marines being sent to Iraq are going to assess the logistics and process of the Yazidi rescue.

        Buchanan also assesses the capacity for the countries in the region to handle ISIS themselves. According to him, US military assistance is not necessary.

        This country certainly seems to be spoiling for a fight. They also seem to have abandoned the Ukrainian front for now, and have abruptly switched to the Middle East as the current preferred venue.

        I wish I knew why they NEED a war, ANY war, so badly.

        1. ex-PFC Chuckc

          As the folks in the military reform movement never tire of saying, the core mission of the defense establishment is to keep the money coming in. Any relation to the actual defense of the country is purely incidental.

    2. Whine Country

      I have always believed that the cause of our perennial war mongering is violins on television.

    3. Jim Haygood

      It’s up to the Commender in Chief now:

      WASHINGTON—The U.S. is weighing a military mission in Iraq to rescue thousands of Yazidi refugees, a move that risks putting American forces in direct confrontation with Sunni fighters for the Islamic State.

      The proposal is being developed and hasn’t been approved by President Barack Obama. U.S. officials said the rescue mission is one of many options the U.S. military is weighing after dropping food and water to dying refugees over the past six days.


      A week ago we’d never heard of Yazidis. Now they’re our new best buddies!

      Gotta love the creative notion of ‘humanitarian invasion.’ No longer do we move in because of ‘provocations,’ much less for ‘Lebensraum.’ No, now we bomb and invade to ‘save the refugees.’

      In our hearts, we are such truly good people!

      1. craazyboy

        But we and Israel armed the Syrian enemy forces first to make it a fair fight. Can’t just have US troops go in and mow everyone down. Appearances are important on the world stage.

        Too bad our installed guv in Iraq didn’t find all the US arms first – maybe they wouldn’t have retreated ’cause they ran out of bullets?

        There is oil in N. Iraq. shit. Catholics too. whoops.

        The air drop of food and water onto the mountaintop defender stronghold didn’t go so well. Fell like manna from heaven, but no parachutes, and exploded upon impact. Maybe the simple Iraqi people don’t understand. This is the latest innovation in soup.
        Dehydrated food + water + kinetic energy = SOUP.

        Things are really messed in in this country. So what choice do we have but to send in the military?

        We can’t seem to help but be nice guys all the time. Then people take advantage of ya. Oy vey.

  12. toldjaso

    Yves, the former vitality of your comment thread is in danger of being sacked by a dead linear propagandist above. The Pattern: insinuation leads to invasion and takeover (please recall how in “Babylon’s Banksters” history by Farrell, esp. re takeover of “Roman Empire”). The *tell* is the qual-ity of the canned linear speech with too much excitement under all. You have worked brilliantly, long, and hard for your site’s status. Caveat!

  13. Cynthia

    I noticed that Quanta Magazine has a very cute picture of Maryam Mirzakhani as a child dressed up as a nurse.

    Little girls today don’t dress up as a nurse like they used to. They will however dress up as a doctor. I suppose they do this because they have a strong desire to grow up to become a rich and powerful figure in an industry that’s awash in cash. But there are a growing number of hospital CEOs that got their start as a nurse. And a growing number of these CEOs are provided with an income that far exceeds that of the highest paid physician at the hospital.

    Perhaps if little girls understood this shift in pay from hospital physicians to hospital executives, they would go back to dressing up as a nurse. But they need to be informed that these nurses-turned CEOs aren’t real nurses. Very few of them ever took care of a patient at the bedside. And the ones that did were so lousy at it that they had to leave the bedside before they were stripped of their license to practice nursing. They merely obtained a nursing degree in order to increase their odds of landing an overpaid, underworked job in the corporate suite. Health care would be much more affordable and the quality of care would be much better if more healthcare dollars would leave the corporate suite and return to the bedside, where they belong and can do the most good for our healthcare system.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Sounds like the university teaching biz — lousy, indifferent teachers ‘failing upward’ to collect fat paychecks as administrators.

    2. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Its ironic actually what you have detailed in how warped society has become and how these changes have impacted our children. Its also depressing to think that these for-profit-administrators pay themselves more than the actual practitioners and experts – University teaching in the USA and UK being a case in point, particularly when we think that many of those actually doing the grunt work are receiving poverty level pay. Here in the UK we have witnessed the growth of Zero Hours Contracts and the education sector has embraced these like manna from heaven, whilst our cherished NHS has embraced outsourcing to a fine art, so fine in fact that its dangerous to attend a hospital for fear of catching an infection due to the lack of hygiene – but hey, lets not worry about Ebola, which would thrive in these privatised and outsourced environments.

      Going off on a tangent, been reading and watching George Romero’s 1978 classic, Dawn of the Dead, which was a massive social commentary masquerading as a horror movie – no wonder it was given an adult rating. But upon review, its clear as day to see the warnings that Romero contained within the movie itself, start with competition within media lower standards and forcing executives to issues misleading facts or lies, the growth of rampant consumerism epitomised by setting most of the movie in a shopping Mall besieged by mindless Zombies (consumers) who could not satiate their basic desires, the need to shop, this was further reinforced by focusing on the survivors who exhibited unhindered greed and accumulated goods that in reality were of little value in surviving the plague.

      Further, we had a religious undertone, whereby The Mall and Shopping represented the new church and new religion and as such this offered sanctuary and a guaranteed entrance to nirvana. And nearly 40 years on, we now witness riots where those rioters steal designer labels and designer jewellery, instead of burning the entire edifice down as was witnessed in the 60’s. Sad indeed I’m afraid to say.

  14. toldjaso

    Yves, related to “Chumps” being set up in every quarter:
    The Psychopathic Finance System in action: no need to disguise common cause in Iraq Ukraine.

  15. rich

    PEU La La Times

    PEU La La, PEU La La… It’s the beat of our times and that of the Los Angeles Times, now run by a former private equity underwriter with the Blackstone Group and Evercore Partners co-founder. If PECKER and The Carlyle Group can’t improve private equity’s image, then PEU La La might. If they can sell to Hollywood, big entertainment can foist PEU memes onto to the unsuspecting public.

      1. hunkerdown

        New tax threatens gas projects in Ukraine? Well that’s interesting. Wasn’t the gas the whole reason for fighting in Novorossiya? Is Yats not still Nuland’s “our man”? What about little boy Biden?

            1. hunkerdown

              Security researchers have been known to describe WordPress as a remote shell that also serves blogs. (No, this is not a declaration of intent, relax.)

              I’d pass some of the local vanilla java porter microbrew, but you’re all the way over there and I’m all the way over here, but it’s the thought that counts.

              1. abynormal

                mmmm sweet smell…love the coffee layers swimming in that mystery midnight color

                Cheers myFriend

                The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there ~ Roshi ‘))

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Fields Medal in Mathematics.

    It reminds me of the Fields medalist character in Robin Williams’ Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon had the math professor sobbing on his knees, not unlike Bertrand Russell’s reaction to Wittgenstein, or maybe it was Hardy and Ramanujan, I don’t remember.

    1. MikeNY

      Wittgenstein intimidated Bertie mightily. LW was a (much) greater genius.

      I’ve missed you, Beef.

  17. Jackrabbit

    NWO vs. Multi-lateralism

    As NC-er’s are well aware, there is much consternation at what is depicted as “support” for Putin/Russia from “the left” in the West. But this “support” is really misunderstood antipathy of neoliberalism’s pro-market, pro-oligarchic POV and neolibcon’s willingness to use people as pawns, whether immigrant labor or tacit support for extremists (Syrian rebels, Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, etc.). And there are many conservatives that are also dismayed by an activist foreign policy that creates and unites enemies against us.

    But Malooga, commenting at MoA, makes perhaps the best case for a multi-lateral world when he says:

    The problem, as Aristotle and others first realized, is that all political forms have a dark side as well as a light side. Polybius’ political doctrine of Anacyclosis, or the cyclical theory of political evolution, recognized three basic forms of “benign” government — monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy — which he believed to be inherently weak and unstable. These forms, he felt, tend to degenerate rapidly into the three basic forms of “malignant” government — tyranny, oligarchy, and ochlocracy (mob rule). According to the doctrine, the “benign” governments have the interests of all at heart, whereas “malignant” governments have the interests of a select few at heart. Thus, the problem wasn’t rule by one, the few, or the many, but rather, how to prevent that rule from degenerating away from the greater common good. The trick, therefore, in designing and instituting any more just system, is in devising ways to prevent the degeneration of the political form.

    Is a singular world order prone to degenerate into a something malignant? Many observers of what has transpired since the fall of the USSR would answer in the affirmative. It may well be that the best chance for ‘benign’ governance is a multi-lateral world.

    Some might argue that with the UN and other supra-national structures, we already have the structure for a mulit-lateral world. But this is misleading. The reality is that power centers are not aligned with these international governance structures. We’ve seen powerful interests co-opt, side-step, or sideline institutions that are nominally independent and/or democratic. Only truly independent entity(s) that allow for a true balance of global power can serve as a real counterweight that effectively encourages benign governance.

    H O P

    1. Jackrabbit

      >> The link is not working properly. I’m not sure why. Malooga’s comment is #141.

      >> ‘tacit’ is probably not the right word. ‘covert’ is probably better.

      >> Anyone arguing for unilateral NWO should explain what mechanism keeps the leadership honest.

      1. MtnLife

        I feel any singular governing body wouldn’t be any healthier than the components it is created from and I struggle to find examples of good current governance on a national level. Increased centralization only makes the stakes that much higher for competing interests (all or nothing) and allows organizations seeking influence to concentrate all their resources in one area. Smaller regional governments, on the other hand, are a good way to keep power compartmentalized and forces those outside organizations to make decisions regarding resource allocation, similar to opening up a multi-front war on them. Centralization, by removing the actual seat of power a great physical distance from most of the ruled, neutralizes a great deal of the power of the citizenry by insulating them from any direct contact with their leaders. The leaders also gain another layer of protection from any “reactionary kinetic democratic response” that may occur due to any unpopular policies.

        1. Jackrabbit

          I agree that local governance helps, but there are larger issues that must be addressed so local governance doesn’t prevent the formation of a hierarchical governance structure. That structure then makes it possible to influence and corrupt the local as national political support and non-local money is brought to bear.

          So we can have a world where this a singular hierarchical structure rules, or one in which there are multiple hierarchies, probably organized around/delineated by culture.

          This is somewhat academic, though, as its not really OUR choice, thought, right? The BRICS will succeed or not. But ‘to encourage benign governance’ is a sound reason to be pro-BRICS, while hating neolib policies invites being labeled as ‘discontented loser’, ‘Putin lover’, ‘socialist’, etc.

          1. OIFVet

            I think the point is to destroy and then to prevent the reemergence of hierarchical structures such as the nation-state or NWO. Before the emergence of the modern nation state most Europeans did not think of themselves as French or German first, but say, Norman or Bavarian. To a certain extent this mentality is still evident in many parts of Europe. As an anarcho-socialist I don’t see how hierarchical government can result in anything other than oppression, whether there is a single hierarchy or multiple hierarchies vying for domination. Though I certainly agree that the latter is preferable to the former.

            1. MtnLife

              I agree with Jackrabbit in that there are serious problems that cannot be solved locally. Right now all larger forms of governance are captured by special interests so solving those problems isn’t going to happen anyways. Taking down the larger structures is pretty useless as they will only morph and be replaced by those who were already waiting in the wings. Correcting the system will be best done by removing corruption locally and move upwards. A new limb does nothing to combat a blood borne illness. Only after getting ones local house in order can we even begin to think about properly cooperating on a larger scale. While local governance is good due to hands on experience with the local resources, every area needs to also understand the role it plays in the eco-nomy-system, to be able to knowledgeably interact with other localities for the betterment of all. A decent cultural change in mindset away from personal glorification and general greed would also be rather necessary.

              1. OIFVet

                I agree and I certainly was not arguing local to the exclusion of the wider world out there. However, there is a rather big chasm between cooperation and hierarchy. In the latter corruption and oppression become inevitable, IMO, and to me at least, modern nation states are the epitome of corruption and oppression, in the name of some vaguely defined common interest that in reality means the interests of those atop the hierarchy.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Why not organize it like a human body – a central brain with lots of cooperating autonomous regions capable of reflexive reactions (i.e. local responses)?

                  They say the brain receives so much information unaware, until it dreams, when some of it comes back, but lots of it just sink into the unconscious. That is to say, the human body is not a total surveillance state.

                    1. abynormal

                      oops, Prime(d)
                      btw i had the strangest of all my dreams last night. i took a boat to some far off place where people ive never read of, seen or even imagined taught me how to make objects out of rocks. guess what our tools were?…rocks. it was some kind of process…the people didn’t speak a language id ever heard and it didn’t seem to matter.
                      the dream is still floating around me…i loved it, seriously.

                      anyone (but craazyman or boy’) care to interpret im all ears :o)

                  1. hunkerdown

                    We did do that. Unfortunately, the brain starts to see itself as more important than the other parts…

                  2. Doug Terpstra

                    That’s the explicit structure of Christianity, the chuch as one whole and inseparable body, all parts with different talents, abilities and functions, but each indispensable and valued. All resources are shared and harnessed in a cooperative, noncompetitive integral system, and the brain could never imagine any other part disposable or unworthy, except in the most dire straits. The early church began as this communal organism but then lost its way.

                    True Christianity is far to the left of any political system ever established. Perhaps one day a political culture and society may evolve to that self-sustaining whole, but so far a Christian nation has never existed on God’s blue earth.

                2. MtnLife

                  I was just expanding the ideas you both brought up and didn’t think you were arguing for exclusion/isolationism. Just mentioned JR because I replied to your post. :-) Your distinction regarding cooperation vs hierarchy is important. Cooperation implies both sides give and take whereas the other one side gives (the shaft) and the other side takes (it). A lot like the difference between consensual sex and rape. It’s all about the power. Speaking of which, do we have some official mental health term for power addiction? I mean besides kleptomaniac, Senator, or President?

                3. Jackrabbit

                  I don’t think you can turn a switch to move from hierarchy to cooperation. The reality is that the neolibcon NWO may be fairly persistent. Though many believe that it WILL change, the timing is unknown and unclear. 5-years? 20-years? 60-years? 200?

                  This hierarchy vs. cooperation discussion is a bit of a distraction from the issue of the benefits TODAY of a multilateral world vs the uni-lateral NWO.

                  The criticism of a multilateral world, I think, is an Orwellian perpetual war scenario that reinforces hierarchical elites of each major power. But I wonder if such a threat is overblown, if only because perpetual war assumes infinite resources.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Of course not JR, I think of this as a multi-generational project. It is not a distraction as far as I am concerned, rather the move from unipolar to multipolar world is the necessary first step of the project. Surely we can focus on the here and now and still keep an eye on the long term, can’t we?

          2. Jackrabbit

            I should quickly add that there are plenty of reasons to ‘hate’ neolibcon policies and that those who label people that do often have an agenda that sympathizes with the neolibcons.

            Neolibcons are great manipulators, consensus builders, and also great at fending off critics via labels and litmus tests. ‘Job creators’, ‘takers and makers’, etc.

            Its not enough to criticize. You’ve got to give people something to vote for / believe in.

  18. Murky

    Article by William E. Pomeranz of the Kennan Institute, Topic: The Russian economy and its linkage to global institutions. Summary quote: “[Putin’s] recent actions suggest a lack of sophistication about global markets and the extent to which Russia has been integrated into the post-World War Two global architecture.”

    Would love to get a few opinions from the many people here with economics expertise. Is this article well informed? Or written with prejudice against Putin and Russia?

    1. Abe, NYC

      This article makes sense and is largely in line with independent Russian media publications. However, an important point is that Russian economy was stagnating long before the annexation of Crimea. Even in February, it was widely believed a recession was baked in the cake despite $100 oil.

      So now Mr. P, in a centuries-old tradition of Russian rulers, can blame economic problems on foreign foes. That lessens the impact of sanctions on his political standing, at least in the short term.

      1. OIFVet

        It is really quite simple: it is a contest to see who can withstand the most pain. It is a contest the Russians are historically conditioned to dominate, especially now that they have the BRICS as an alternative. On a deeper level, Putin is going straight for the jugular of the soft, decadent West. It is straight out of the Art of War, where he aims to secure the victory before the first shot is fired by seeking to administer enough pain to break up the Euro herd from its American shepherd, and then into its component individual parts. Judging by the whining Poles who only now realized how dependent they are on Russia, and the Greeks who are simply innocent collateral damage, the strategy is working thus far. Hence the loud hysteria emanating from certain quarters.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Putin has also demonstrated a greater understanding of history. I wonder if anybody remembers the Treaty of Rapallo that was signed in 1922. Germany and Russia agreed to “co-operate in a spirit of mutual goodwill in meeting the economic needs of both countries”. Later agreements both countries signed included Ukraine and other Soviet republics.

      2. Jackrabbit

        This article makes little sense and is largely in line with neolibcon propaganda. – – – TIFIFY

        This ‘reporting’ blows up the ‘costs’ to Russia while saying little of the ‘cost’ to the West of the US/West war of choice as evidenced by: a) backing a coup (which betrayed the people’s desire for better leadership), b) tearing up an agreement for elections by the end of the year, c) refusing to accept a peaceful federated Ukraine; d) allowing/ignoring atrocities and ethnic cleansing. It also makes it seem like Western costs will be recouped via WTO actions and lawsuits. That is far from clear.

        And it ignores Russia’s patient diplomacy as well as the growing costs to the West as Russia increases trade with others (fruits and veg from China now); joins with other BRICS countries to implement an alternative monetary system and info technologies (thanks NSA!); and more. For example, India, which had been building closer ties the West has been critical of US/Ukrainian actions.

        Furthermore, it focuses on Putin as the problem. That Russia or any country may have valid interests is simply not allowed. Everyone should know their place in the NWO. That Putin resists can not be tolerated. So the media must make it a spectacle for all to see: the beat-down of the intransigent Putin.

        What the article DOES tell us, is that the US/West leadership is hell-bent on their current path. God help us.

        H O P

        1. Abe, NYC

          Wishful thinking for the most part plus a rather interesting interpretation of events: annexation and aggression are now counted as “patient diplomacy”?

          1. Jackrabbit

            They didn’t invade Ukraine proper. They took pains to have a referendum on Crimea and while that was hasty, they used the precedent created in Kosovo as legal rationale. As I am not an expert on international law, I can’t say how solid is their claim to Crimea as Russian territory, but it seems that they do have a good case.

            They engaged in talks again and again despite various provocations like anti-Russian rhetoric, being thrown out of the G-8, attacks on Russian in Ukraine, rounds of sanctions, etc.

            And they had, only months before, defused a tense situation in Syria by proposing that the Syrians give up chemical weapons.

      3. Murky

        Here is an article by Andreas Umland published in the Harvard International Review. I know this can’t compete with Moon of Alabama or the Vineyard of the Saker, big favorites here, but the Harvard stuff maybe deserves a read anyway. The argument is interesting. Umland claims that Putin’s game-plan isn’t an immediate territorial conquest of Ukraine. Rather, Putin plans to use all possible economic and political means to gradually force Ukraine to the status of a failed state. With the economic collapse of Ukraine, the West will be discredited on the global stage, and linkage to European institutions will unravel.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Whatever you think of the Ukraine situation, the fact is that it was a power grab by the US that was consistent with the eastern march of NATO. This power grab was not without risk as Russia is not a small inconsequential country that could easily be rolled over.

          So the Russians have spoiled the party by taking the Crimea and Dunbas. This might’ve been anticipated but group-thinking neocon’s hard-on for Ukraine was irresistible. Without the strategic military bases in Crimea and the hydrocarbons in Dunbas and off the Crimea coast, Ukraine looks to be an economic basket case that the US/EU/West can ill afford because of the deep economic problems that they already face (high unemployment, high debt).

          It seems like the West has ALREADY been discredited via “F*uck the EU” and support for a regime that engages in ethnic cleansing, downing of ML17, etc. A further economic or diplomatic disaster would only cement that.

          1. Jackrabbit

            Oh, besides a ‘power grab’ that was long planned for Ukraine, it was also, of course, an ‘in-your-face’ put-down of Putin who, it seems clear, was not playing along with the NWO as demonstrated by Syria but also other matters.

    2. hunkerdown

      Consider the etymology of the word “sophisticated”, and ask yourself what kind of brain-damaged fops would consider that a compliment.

  19. FederalismForever

    David Remnick’s account in the New Yorker of Michael McFaul’s recent two-year stint as U.S. Ambassador to Russia is enthralling and deeply disturbing:

    Based on this article, McFaul’s tour of duty was a complete failure, as he commits one faux pas after another during his time in Russia. He repeatedly underestimates that extent of Russian paranoia re the US. But this article also shows that the Russian public is very pro-expansionist at the moment, feeling diminished by the loss of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Baltic States. Putin’s decision to ignore international opinion and annex Crimea is wildly popular, and Russian television is full of propaganda claiming that Ukraine is merely a “virtual” state.

    This situation is a brewing catastrophe, and we need a statesman (or stateswoman) of high caliber to emerge and help bring about a peaceful solution. USGovt also needs to undertake a searching review of all the mistakes it has made that have helped bring about this dismal and dangerous situation. Why have things gone so badly with Russia, when they went so well (comparatively speaking) with Germany and Japan?

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Why have things gone so poorly with Russia, and so well with Germany and Japan? Well, possibly there is some comparative advantage accruing to the US when Germany and Japan are still militarily occupied, oh, almost 70 years after the unpleasantries of WWII? And as has been repeatedly, and even recently, demonstrated (just ask Bundeskanzlerin Merkel about her cell phone), the US has this policy of keeping the Germans (and the Japanese) down, and the Russians out, by whatever means necessary.

      And in the case of the Russians? As you might recall, despite the carefully cultivated amnesia in the West about this, the Russians were our allies in WWII. They hung on to Eastern Germany for some time, but relinquished control, and even permitted a re-unification of Germany. The Russians are still holding on to the Kuriles to the north of present day Japan, it is true, but they historically have had some rather vexed relations with the Japanese (Russo-Japanese War in 1905, dust-up along the border with Manchukuo back in 1939 , Russia’s eventual entry into WWII in 1945), little helped by Japan’s later total alignment with the US, so this should be understood within its context.

      But after WWII, an antagonistic relationship developed with the Soviets; there were many reasons for this, some sound, some less so. But in the offing, there was a clash. In many ways, we took on the mantle of the British Empire in their role as keeping the Rooskies down. Also doesn’t help that their nation was foundationally Orthodox, and in their very existence thought to be an offense to Western forms of religiosity.

      Things came to a pass with the collapse of the USSR, and its disintegration. And then the fun really began, as the Russians were pushed around, disrespected, and humiliated by the US. ‘Cause you see, if you are down, despite the thousand year history of resilience demonstrated by Russia, to our elites, this means that you are a loser, and fair game for whatever rogering they choose to dish out. So it went through the time of Yeltsin, the drunkard sell-out, as the NeoLiberals descended like the vultures that they are. The Russians remember this. And you wonder why things are not so rosy between us? The US and its EU poodle circus are still arrogant, but Russia will no longer consent to being subsumed to the NeoLiberal Capitalists Paradise that was envisaged for them. Surprise, surprise.

      1. FederalismForever

        @JerseyJeffersonian. First off, let us not forget that Stalin was the one who decided not to accept Marshall Plan aid for the Soviet Union, and it was Stalin again who would decide that the Soviet Union would not join the IMF.

        But my comparison of Russia with Germany and Japan was actually meant to highlight the sheer awfulness of the neoliberal project in post-Soviet Russia as compared to the (relative) success of US policy circa 1948 or so towards post-WWII Japan and Germany. If you read the article, it seems that Russia went through something like an economic depression during the Yeltsin era, under neoliberal tutelage. The same cannot be said of Germany in the decade following the start of the Marshall Plan in 1948. To me, it’s worth pondering how a group of libertarian neoliberals could have arisen in the US and direct its policy re post-Soviet Russia, rather than try to emulate the success of Marshall Plan aid towards Germany.

        1. Vatch

          That’s a very good point. The Marshall Plan really helped Europe. Would it have been so difficult for the leaders of the U.S. and Western Europe to have implemented something similar after the breakup of the Soviet empire?

          I suspect that the Marshall Plan might not have occurred if the challenges posed by the Soviet Union had not existed in 1948. Generosity probably wasn’t the only motivation behind the Marshall Plan. It is very likely that the leaders of U.S. foreign policy wanted to score a propaganda coup against the Soviets. I think they succeeded.

          But 40 years later, with the dissolution of the Soviet empire, there was no longer a need for propaganda victories against the Soviets, so greed trumped generosity.

          1. OIFVet

            Greed AND hate. Do not think for a minute that religious/racialist prejudices do not figure into the equation. To some Slavs are untermenschen, an unholy mixture of white and mongol blood, so how dare they assert a right to be somebody on the Anglo-Saxon playground the rest of us call Planet Earth. They saw an opportunity to destroy these uppity Slavs so they took it and almost succeeded. Now it is blowback time.

            1. Vatch

              I think greed is almost always more important than hate for the ultra-rich and the giant corporations. For the have-nots, it may be different. Sadly, for people who don’t have much, it can be psychologically important to believe that someone else either has less or deserves less.

              I happen to be aware of some very great Slavs: Dmitri Mendeleyev, Marie Curie, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, etc. Definitely not untermenschen. Quite the reverse, in fact.

                1. abynormal

                  “On every front there are clear answers out there that can make this country stronger, but we’re going to break through the fear and the frustration people are feeling. Our job is to make sure that even as we make progress, that we are also giving people a sense of hope and vision for the future.” Obama~shame on you!…larva afterbirth displays more value.

                  1. bob

                    “Our job is to make sure that even as we make progress, that we are also giving people a sense of hope and vision for the future.”

                    Lotsa truth in that. He’s doing his job, he just doesn’t say who he’s working for, and what their interests are.

                    Even as our oligarchs make progress in seizing every aspect of america, we have to give people a false sense of hope and vision for the future. That’s our job. I feel very confident that we are exceeding expectations.

                    Either the oligarchs are going to win, or they are going to win big.

                    1. abynormal

                      “Everything passes. Joy. Pain. The moment of triumph; the sigh of despair. Nothing lasts forever – not even this.” Paul Stewart, Midnight Over Sanctaphrax

              1. OIFVet

                Hate and greed are complimentary, as right wing talk radio and Fox News demonstrate daily. On geopolitical level, hate complements greed as a lubricant to keep the money flowing into the MIC coffers.

          2. gordon

            The Marshall Plan was more than a propaganda coup. The US had just forced the new Govts. of France and Italy to exclude Communist ministers (1947), and in 1948 the threat of withdrawal of Marshall Plan aid was one of the tools the US used to influence the Italian election. You have to remember that after the German invasion of Russia in summer 1941, European communists took leading parts in resistance movements in France, Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece. That meant that when the war ended, communists were well placed to form political parties and participate in government. The Marshall Plan helped the US and European rightists to erode the European communists’ support and counter the admiration for Russia widespread in Europe after the Russian defeat of the Germans.

          3. Abe, NYC


            It’s also interesting to compare US and Russian policies. Far from instituting its own Marshall plan, the USSR extracted reparations from its new vassals in Eastern Europe: money transfers all the way into 1960s as well as machinery and prisoners of war. These policies, along with brutal oppression and military occupation, helped cement the deep love of Russia one observes in Eastern and Central Europe to this day.

            1. Lambert Strether

              You bet. I guess I prefer to base foreign policy decisions on the real interests of my country, instead of sputtering at great length about evil others. YMMV and, apparently, does.

            2. OIFVet

              Surely you mean from Germany. Name another Easter European country that had to transfer money and machinery as reparation. Bulgaria certainly did not, and we were allied with Nazi Germany, courtesy of our Habsburg tzar. In fact, the opposite was true: Soviet capital and subsidies flowed into Bulgaria. Nice try though

              1. Vatch

                I found this article from the Berkeley Journal of International Law (2013) on the web:

                From Paris to London: The Legal History of
                European Reparation Claims: 1946-1953

                The Treaties of Peace that the four Occupation Powers forced Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy, and Romania to sign and ratify in 1947 also called for, and in the end actually resulted in, some cash and in-kind payments by these states to their respective victim-beneficiary states, as was prescribed in the Paris Agreement. Those reparations, however, were also far below the level that Allied states had reason to expect, or at least to hope for, when they left the table in Paris with the January 1946 Agreement. They were to be credited against allocations that the Agreement had set forth but were not a complete substitute for those allocations. Indeed, their principal beneficiary was the Soviet Union, which was understandable in the case of the Peace Treaties with the Eastern Axis states and Finland. The other beneficiaries were Czechoslovakia, Greece, and Yugoslavia; but the amounts, as stated, were minor.

                So it appears that Germany’s allies in WWII, including Bulgaria, paid reparations to the Soviet Union. Of course, Germany paid more than any of the other countries.

                1. OIFVet

                  You have to try and find out if Bulgaria did pay any reparations. As far as I know it did not, having been released from the obligation by the Soviets after the BG communists came to power in 1947. In general, Bulgaria found itself in an unlikely position in the aftermath of WW2: it both lost and won the war, by virtue of being allied with Germany and then actually turning on Germany and helping the Red Army drive the Wehrmacht out of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and parts of Austria. My maternal grandfather was wounded in the Battle on the Drava in 1945, his brother killed in combat there. Bulgaria also was able to to get back territory given to Romania after WW1, unusual for a losing side. So you can see why I consider its treatment to have been quite fair. But to reiterate, what I remember from BG textbooks was that we did not pay the Soviets any reparations, and we certainly received extensive capital investments and subsidies by the Soviets.

                2. OIFVet

                  It’s in Bulgarian unfortunately, but here it goes: Bulgaria was to pay $45 million to Greece and $25 million to Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia forgave the reparations and none were thus paid to it. No reparations to the Soviets either, rather German-owned assets on the territory of Bulgaria were to be forfeited to the Soviets. In addition Bulgaria had to forego seeking some $100 million in payments from Germany for goods sold to it since 1939, those payments were to go to the Soviets instead.

                  Pretty fair if you ask me.

                  1. Vatch

                    An interesting contrast to the way that the Soviets treated most of their other satellite nations. This seems to confirm what I said a few days ago, about the way that the people who had been dominated by the Turks had a different attitude towards the Russians (Soviets). Perhaps the Bulgarians did not resist Soviet occupation the way that other countries did, so the Soviets treated them better.

                    At any rate, the Soviet behavior in Poland and Czechoslovakia was cruel and violent. Neither country had been allied with Germany. In fact, those were the first two countries conquered by the Nazis (aside from Austria, which was a special case).

                    1. OIFVet

                      Vatch, the difference between the Soviets and the US was largely the former’s willingness to do their own dirty work within their satellites when necessary. The US, almost without exception, outsourced to local henchmen. You think the Shah’s secret police was any less brutal than the Soviets were in Prague? Think again. If anything the period of brutality was longer and more sustained than what the Soviets ever did.

                      As for different treatment for different countries, you must realize the role of history and religion. The Poles are Catholic and until Peter the Great they were in many ways dominating Russia. Historical memories run long in Europe and neither one ever forgot the past. Bulgaria on the other hand exported orthodoxy, alphabet, and language to Russia beginning in the 10th century, so the connection is old and almost one between a parent and a child. After Tsarevgrad Turnov, which Bulgarians viewed as the keeper of the faith, finally fell to the Ottomans, many of of its monks and boyars fled to Rus and seeded the idea of Rus being the new keeper of the faith, which is the Russian version of exceptionalism Abe refers to sometimes. So the child became the protector and did in fact protect.

                      So yes, Bulgaria-Russia ties are deep and ancient, and mostly cooperative rather than adversarial. BG elites are busy rewriting history, much like the communists attempted to do, but the collective folk memory is not easily erased. So we have a disconnect between government action and popular opinion, which is largely pro-Russia, particularly among those who didn’t have the misfortune to be “educated” under the new and “improved” education system.

                    2. Vatch

                      Sure, various client states of the U.S. were brutally oppressive, but nothing that the U.S. or its clients did during the Soviet period compares to the multi-million mass murders of the Stalin era. And the oppression didn’t end when Stalin died — it just became less severe. And the people who were oppressed by the Soviets remember that.

                    3. OIFVet

                      Vatch, may I suggest that you reread the ‘Shock Doctrine’ before you generalize about who’s death count is more appalling? Stalin long ago stopped killing, neoliberalism’s murder spree is still going strong. The main difference between Stalin and the Washington Consensus is that Stalin was a crude murderer whereas the Consensus murderers are getting ever more sophisticated and perverse.

                    4. Vatch

                      So what are the numbers? How many people were killed by the U.S. and its client states during the period 1917 to 1991? I strongly suspect it was a smaller number than the number of people killed by the communist states. Even if we exclude the tens of millions killed by China and the millions killed by Cambodia, it’s still likely that the communists killed more people than the U.S. bloc. But I’m open to being corrected. Point me to the numbers if I’m wrong.

                    5. OIFVet

                      Read the book and add up the counts, dig deep into the googles and get the imperial wars counts, and do not forget that that neoliberalism, besides killing outright by violence, kills by the same version of Golodomor you are so fond of whipping out to support your argument. Neoliberal-induced hunger alone has killed more than the Golodomor did, and the count keeps rising. Add the thirst-induced deaths in South America’s privatized water systems while you are at it, too. Account for the fracking-related water contamination caused cwncers and diseases, whose count will only go up. Need I go on?

                    6. Vatch

                      Fracking? You’re referring to events after 1991.

                      As for famine, the biggest famine of the 20th century occurred in China’s Great Leap Forward, from 1958 to 1962.

                      You made the claim about the number of people killed directly or indirectly by the U.S. If you stand by your claim, you should add up the numbers for us.

                    7. OIFVet

                      1. The point is that one ceased to kill in 1991, the other is still going strong and in fact is accelerating its murder spree.
                      2. You went down the road of murder counts first, so the onus is on you. All I did is to point out that the US killed and kills in the same way, and some that are unique to it.
                      3. The fact that we are even having this discussion is damning enough indictment of our exceptional country. It rightfully gives it a well-earned place in the fraternity of murderous regime.
                      4. And the fact that you object to post-1991 murder counts is proof enough that the US stepped up its murder spree to compensate for the vacuum left by the Soviets. But sure, let us demonize Putin as a murderer with a dream of empire, lest we let the light shine on our crime spree.

                    8. Vatch

                      Reading your reply tells me that you acknowledge that the communist governments were deadlier then their western counterparts, but for whatever reason, you don’t want to say so explicitly.

                      I used the cutoff of 1991 for the simple reason that the USSR ceased to exist then.

                      I’ve never denied that the U.S. is imperialistic, or that our government and business leaders are responsible for widespread death.

                      I think we’ve spent enough time on this.

        2. Jackrabbit

          The contrast between Marshall Plan for Europe post-WWII and the neolib treatment of Russia at the end of the Cold War is possibly another example of the need for a multilateral world.

          We could even go back to WWI where the victorious allies imposed crippling reparations.

          Without a clear and present reason for enlightened action – in the form of a competing nation-state, ideology, or culture – it seems that so-called ‘leaders’ will only act as tools of repressive, extractive elites.

          We can wish that it were not so. We can earnestly HOPE that leaders and our privileged elites reflect our better nature and the values of our culture. But that just doesn’t seem to happen. Instead, they use that hope against us.

          My teenage daughter is coming to grips with this now, as she learns more about ‘how things really work'(TM). Her cognitive dissonance takes me back to when we brought her home after her birth. She was so perfect and wonderful that the streets looked dirty(-er) to me. To someone that is centered and whole and good-hearted, inequality and all forms of oppression make no sense. There is a natural desire to raise everyone up, just as there is a natural revulsion against unfairness.

          1. Ulysses

            I know how you feel! My own daughter turns 18 next week. Her brave, generous heart inspires me to keep struggling to prevent this world from becoming much worse in her lifetime.

        3. Abe, NYC


          Post-WW2, the memories of the effects of Versailles on Germany were still fresh. This likely had a strong influence on recovery policies.

          A couple more points. The prevailing economic ideology in 1990s was, obviously, totally different than in 1940s. It’s not like the US sent legions of economic advisors to Moscow with the purpose of running the country to the ground. There were certainly some advisors, like dear young Andrei Shleifer; but the policy was largely driven by the Russian version of Chicago boys: Yegor Gaidar & Co. I doubt they expected the depth and duration of the slump that resulted from their policies. They thought they were doing shock therapy, but didn’t expect the shock was going to last 7 years.

          Also, even in 1990s it wasn’t a diagonal line down. When I was in Moscow in the summer of 1997, the mood was quite enthusiastic and it was obvious a fairly prosperous middle class was already forming or, rather, reviving (but outside Moscow, things were – and remain – much worse). Then came the oil/financial shock and default of 1998; by coincidence, I was there again in October 1998 and it was quite depressive.

          Finally, Putin was very lucky on the economic front since he caught the enormous tailwind of the collapse of ruble exchange rate in 1998 and subsequently, a huge rise in oil prices. The massive growth of the economy caused by these factors raised the standard of living even despite his trickle-down policies like 13% flat income tax and other privileges he rained on his lap oligarchs. For the first 8 years of his rule, Russians saw nothing but improving economy and rising income, which obviously helped keep his rating north of 60% and foster his personality cult.

    2. steviefinn

      Personally I wouldn’t call it paranoia, I would call it in economic terms,( due to the nineties financial Neoliberal invasion & looting of that country ) wisdom. An experience of a dogma that the citizens of Greece, other European countries & the US are only part way through. I imagine in the heady days of Glasnost most ordinary Russians dreamt of achieving an affluent Western lifestyle, but unfortunately for them it turned out to be a delusion, which resulted in further impoverishment. I also imagine that perhaps unlike the majority of Westerners, the Russians know the meaning of the word Neoliberal, a word that is rarely mentioned or printed in the MSM even though it is the basis of the economics followed by both parties in the US, all of Europe & all 3 main parties in the UK. Like the Russians Westerners will probably only recognise the word once it is too late.

      Jackrabbit mentioned that if you are against the Neo-Libs you are given certain labels which do not for the most part apply. It would perhaps help if the majority of people were informed what the term actually meant, but this is not likely, due to the media compliance with TPTB – Knowing ones enemy helps.

      As for paranoia in military terms, all I would say is that if Russia was doing the same in Mexico as the West is doing in the Ukraine, there would be a lot more going on in the minds of US citizens than paranoia & Russia has Stalingrad, Kursk & 20 or so million deaths rather than the Alamo to look back on.

      There is plenty out there that documents those years in the nineties, but i think this one written while the paint was still wet in 1998 by David Kotz, which eerily gives a description of what has turned out as a prophecy of what has actually happened on a large scale in the West since that date. We appear to be retracing those steps, especially the International Misery fund with it’s one size fits all policies, which from what i can see have never worked anywhere ( for the majority ) – This probably explains why they never get an economic forecast right.

      1. FederalismForever

        @steviefinn. You wrote: “if Russia was doing the same in Mexico as the West is doing in the Ukraine, there would be a lot more going on in the minds of US citizens than paranoia.” Indeed, in the run up to WWI Germany was “doing the same in Mexico” (or something comparable – See Zimmermann Telegram) which was a key factor in Wilson’s decision to go to war against Germany.

        This is all really troubling.

        1. hunkerdown

          So was the growing public acceptance of socialism. Seems that World Wars happen whenever that’s on the menu.

        2. steviefinn

          @ FedalismForever – I didn’t know that, thanks. It is indeed all very troubling, there are so many potential tipping points.

          I chanced on some photos on FB earlier which at first glance I thought were from Gaza or Ukraine, but they were actually from a city that I had never heard of in what was arguably the greatest country that has ever existed – Tragic,

    3. bob

      Since he has “retired” McFuck hangs around the hallways of NPR and talks his way on the air as a Russia expert.

        1. FederalismForever

          @bob. Ugh! This article is so disturbing! Could one even imagine George Kennan committing even half as many gaffes as McFaul? (Admittedly, Kennan’s stint as Ambassador did not last very long before he fell out of Stalin’s good graces.) So, the parade of horrors: (i) a ‘reset’ button that actually has the Russian word for ‘overcharge’, (ii) Hillary refers to Putin as a Nazi, apparently unaware that Putin’s relatives died fighting the Nazis, (iii) Nuland’s “fuck the EU” comment, (iv) McFaul’s inept actions described in this article, etc. etc. With leadership [sic] like this, the US needs to withdraw from the world’s stage ASAP.

    4. Carolinian

      “USGovt also needs to undertake a searching review of all the mistakes it has made”

      Mistakes? That may well be but I seriously doubt team O would agree. Putin has made many conciliatory gestures and been consistently rebuffed. Clearly some sort of new cold war is on the front burner for the administration.

      As for The New Yorker and Remnick, a typical passage

      One of his favorite writers for Zavtra, Igor Strelkov, is a former Russian intelligence agent who is leading the separatists in Donetsk, and is widely believed to be among those who bear responsibility for the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

      Abe should like this. Remnick seems just as certain about what happened to that plane and with the same amount of evidence (none). For an establishmentarian like Remnick “widely believed” (by the right people) works every time.

    5. VietnamVet

      I also think the McFaul’s article shines a bright light on the actual history of the relationship between Russia and the USA. Together with Seymour Hersh’s article “The Red Line and the Rat Line” it highlights why the USA went to war with Russia. Their “nyet” to bombing of Syria was the final straw. The Presidential go ahead was given to seize Ukraine and remove Vladimir Putin.

      This portrait of cluelessness combined with military power that destroys everything in its wake was described a half century ago in Vietnam by Graham Green’s “The Quiet American”. There will be no Ukraine peace settlement, no federated Ukraine, and no restraints on killing ethnic Russians and forcing the survivors across the border into Russia. The only possible outcome is either the West or Russia collapses from sanctions and is looted by the conquering plutocrats; or WWIII is ignited and we cease to exist and the Northern Hemisphere becomes uninhabitable from nuclear fall out.

      1. FederalismForever

        @VietnamVet. But then the question is why did the “nyet” to be bombing of Syria matter so much? If we focus solely on America’s interests, there is no obvious reason. However, if we instead view current USGovt and its neocon minions as carrying out the plan for the Middle East set forth by Richard Perle in his 1996 presentation to Netanyahu entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” then the strategy for ridding the ME of Saddam and then Assad, etc., becomes somewhat understandable (from the perspective of the Likud Party).

        Victoria Nuland has worked for Dick Cheney and for Hillary Clinton. What common interest connects those two?

      2. Doug Terpstra

        In “My Money’s on Putin”, Mike Whitney also untangles much of the intrigue related to the US debacle in Syria.

        “The United States failed operation in Syria, has led to an intensification of Washington’s proxy war in Ukraine. What the Obama administration hoped to achieve in Syria through its support of so called “moderate” Islamic militants was to topple the regime of Bashar al Assad, replace him with a US-backed puppet, and prevent the construction of the critical Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. That plan hasn’t succeeded nor will it in the near future…”

        The empire of debt, which prints the money to buy what others produce, is increasingly desperate to maintain its Ponzi hegemony. But Obama plays checkers while Putin plays chess:

        “Washington thinks “modern warfare” involves covert support for proxy armies comprised of Neo Nazis and Islamic extremists. Moscow thinks modern warfare means undermining the enemy’s ability to wage war through sustained attacks on it’s currency, its institutions, its bond market, and its ability to convince its allies that it is a responsible steward of the global economic system.”

    6. Abe, NYC

      Firstly, thanks FederalismForever for an excellent, in-depth analysis of 15 years of Putin’s rule.

      1. Notice how Putin started off as a pro-European politician and gradually made a 180-degree turn. This is consistent with reports of Russian journalists, according to which at the beginning of his first term Putin approached NATO with a possibility of Russian membership and was rebuffed; same story with various other initiatives.

      2. Putin’s delusions of grandeur and personality cult are alluded to but not in detail.

      3. I don’t know how the Libya resolution fiasco was percieved by the Russian masses (most people likely didn’t care) but it certainly added to Putin’s prestige among the elites at the expense of Medvedev. The decision to go all the way in Libya was probably one of the worst foreign policy mistakes of Obama’s first term.

      4. “Putin had publicly accused Hillary Clinton of giving ‘the signal’ that sparked the Bolotnaya demonstrations.” Of course. Any demonstrations of opposition, whether in Bolotnaya or Maidan, are always the DeptOfState/CIA/NSA/whoever’s doing, never a legitimate popular protest. He’s a KGB officer, he is not programmed to even think otherwise. He mastered the skill of programming his own subjects as well as admirers abroad, in the same fold.

      “[Putin] even believes we sparked the Arab Spring as a C.I.A. operation.” – another typical delusion, as if it wasn’t obvious the US was totally caught by surprise and in the first few months of the Arab Spring, totally hapless.

      5. “Like any effective propagandist, Leontiev had artfully woven the true, the half true, and the preposterous into a fabric of lurid colors.” – perfectly characterizes (pro-)Russian media especially in connection with Ukraine.

      6. The amounts of oil money at the disposal of Putin – not bound by any accountability or oversight – defeats imagination and, as the article depicts, was enough to buy off the great majority of analysts and opposition leaders.

      All in all, a superb analysis of the revival of Russian imperialism, expansionism, and chauvinism under Putin.

      1. FederalismForever

        @Abe, NYC. Has Putin bought off people like Paul Craig Roberts too? I guess time will tell. At a minimum, if Putin launches an invasion of Ukraine with the troops he has amassed on the border, people like Roberts will be revealed as fools and knaves. (For the record, I’m a big fan of Roberts, and read him religiously. But he has really been doubling down on his anti-US analysis lately, which runs the risk that he will be caught with his pants down if responsibility for the downed airliner can be definitively traced to Putin and/or if Putin launches an invasion without any further US provocation.)

      2. Jackrabbit

        So Putin is an autocratic punk. Remind me to vote against him in the next elections. Oh wait, I’m not Russian so I can’t vote – and I have no reason to give a sh!t. How ’bout we fix things HERE before we go to war for:

        – sly, mendacious Obama

        – greedy US/EU/Ukrainian Oligarchs

        – oil/share gas that is destroying our environment

        – neocon dreams of world domination

        – lies and empty promises made to the Ukrainian people

      3. Lambert Strether

        In other words, we’re talking about an imperial, continental, multinational, multilingual, oligarchical state with a paranoid ruling class, a highly flawed democracy that nonetheless believes itself to be exceptional, indeed, the bearer of a world-historical mission.

        I mean Russia, of course. Not the United States.

        P.S. I recommended before that you guys get a room; I see you have. I’m happy for you!

        1. FederalismForever

          I, for one, am happy to live in the United States, where two guys are allowed to “get a room,” and, increasingly, can even get married (if they wish).

      4. OIFVet

        So, Putin starts as pro-Euro politico, but delusions of grandeur cause 180 degree turn and this demonstrates “the revival of Russian imperialism, expansionism, and chauvinism under Putin”? Good lord, what passes for analysis this day… Abe Leontiev, that you? Putin beginning as pro-Euro politico basically debunks the rest of your so-called analysis. At this point, an objective analysis would delve into how 180 degree turns of direction happen, seeing how exceedingly rare and unlikely they are at that high level. Of course, going down that path will not get you to the desired destination point of crediting Putler with “the revival of Russian imperialism, expansionism, and chauvinism” so you don’t take it, opting instead to parrot the official DC narrative as represented by the non-entity called McFaul.

        Propaganda forbid one exposes the transformation of Russia from 1991 to the present as a blowback to the Western attempt to destroy it in the 1990’s as part of the Polack Brzezinski’s grand strategy to dominate the fucking word. Putin comes to power, is pro-Western, but unlike the drunken Yeltsin and his Fifth Column, wants Russia to be an equal partner with the US. Is rebuffed of course, an aspiring hegemon does not want partners; it wants servants and everyone else is to be brought to their knees. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the American intentions are, and Putin played the long game to give Russia time to rebuild, rearm, do what in the Army called “preparing the battlefield” by seeking alliances, forging trade relationships, and everything else needed to prepare Russia to effectively resist the US when the conflict did come. No doubt he extends his deep gratitude to the US neocons for getting the US stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq, thus buying him and Russia time while the US bled resources and credibility. And Putin did very well, as we see from the increasingly shrill and deranged US reaction to finding this nut much harder to crack than they expected. This is why we are supposed to hate Putin, for being smarter than the US counterparts and most of all for refusing to sell out Russia. And here is also the shrill tone of the ex-Soviet subject, having blown Uncle Sam for “protection”, realizing he may have swallowed for naught.

        Specially for Abe: Make sure to salute properly comrade, the Bear demands respect and if you will not give him the respect he will take it anyway.

        1. Christopher Dale Rogers

          I’m a little late to this discussion, being 12 hours ahead of you chaps in the US, so will congratulate you on taking on our subscribers to US benevolence and exceptionalism with a succinct rebuff to some lame dialogue infused with a desire to believe my country can do no wrong mentality.

          If I may be as bold just to discuss the immediate post 1945 years prior to Churchill’s “iron curtain” speech at Fullerton, in all the dialogue I’ve seen on this thread it seems the accepted norm that after 1945 international relations was conducted in terms of a “bi-polar” world and that the UK is somehow discounted in all of this, which is a zero sum analysis that is way off the mark and far too simplistic.

          First and foremost, although battered and technically bankrupt, the UK as of May 1945 was still a global power with a large army, airforce and navy at its disposal. The UK and all other Western European nations were also rebuffed about cooperation with atomic weapons capabilities, despite the fact that from early 1940 that it was the UK that countered Germany’s atomic bomb research programme with one of its own, which drew heavily on the work of numerous European scientists lucky enough to escape the advancing German horde, all this was handed over to the USA and formed the basis of the Manhatten project – just a shame that after this the USA decided unilaterally that no power, bar itself, was to have atomic weapons or access to research that other Western nations had contributed too – hence both the British and French decision to establish costly programmes of their own to develop these capabilities in an effort to remain independent of a domineering USA.

          As for anti-communist rhetoric and accommodations with Stalin and the Soviet Union, this the UK was opposed too and is epitomised by the work undertaken by the then UK’s Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, who was a vehemently anti-communist and anti-Stalinist.

          Whilst I realise the site can be a little US-centric, it is after all a US-based site and many posters are US citizens, I do feel that on many occasions the US-centricity of many of the discussions, particularly on the foreign relations-side of the equation is heavily biased to US interpretations that discount other actors. For instance, when did we enter a bi-polar world and when did the bi-polar world end, many would place the date as August 1945 through to 1991, when in fact, the bipolar world many of us grew up in was only cemented in 1956 with the epic fail of the Suez Crisis, which illustrates clearly that the USA had taken the dominant position, namely that it was virtually impossible for the two leading democracies of Western Europe to undertake foreign adventures without the authorisation and sanctioning of the USA.

          I’ll leave it there, but as a Brit feel it necessary to point out that just because in the first decade after 1945 the USA seemed in the driving seat, the actual historical record and historical official documents emanating from both the USA and Britain and France in Europe paint a somewhat different picture, one epitomised by the rise of De Gaulle in France.

  20. Lambert Strether

    This is nasty. Class Claims Philadelphia Abuses Forfeiture:

    The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office unconstitutionally seizes property without a hearing and sells it without due process, to raise millions of dollars to pay its employee’s salaries, a class action claims in Federal Court.

    This isn’t Center City, “Sixth Borough of New York” stuff, but rather, as it were, “deep Philly.”

    1. JerseyJeffersonian


      I submitted a link this morning for consideration for inclusion in “Links” to this story in the Philadelphia Inquirer that adds some texture. I take the liberty of dropping it into this thread, as you have already raised the topic:

      More goodness springing from the War on Drugs. Oh, the corruption possibilities are endless. And people were worried about the abuse of eminent domain?

  21. frosty zoom



    “Who needs nukes when you’ve got Ladas” — Russian Spokesman

    U.S. authorities accuse Moscow of using “ISIS invisible white vehicle tactic”.

    More to follow after the 6pm apocalypse.

    1. craazyboy

      trucks seen flying white flag – false flag!!! say some…nay say others…white house spokesmen (whom asked to remain anonymous) advises they have satellite x-rays and dental evidence identifying the insurgents. the spokesman went on to say they will likely intend to continue bombing ISIS until ISIS stops doing that.

      1. lambert strether

        Maybe they got the white flags off the Brooklyn Bridge? If you think so, I’ve got a flag I’d like to sell ya…

        1. craazyboy

          I’m getting worried.

          ISIS may have djinn technology. This would explain a lot, I think. The shape shifting is tough to keep track of too. Even for our x-ray satellites. Puffs of smoke won’t show up. Djinns have no dental records.

          In Muslim legend, a spirit often capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over people.

  22. barrisj

    On Ferguson, MO, and why that’s only business as usual:

    America Is Not For Black People

    he United States of America is not for black people. We know this, and then we put it out of our minds, and then something happens to remind us. Saturday, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., something like that happened: An unarmed 18-year-old black man was executed by police in broad daylight.

    By now, what’s happening in Ferguson is about so many second-order issues—systemic racism, the militarization of police work, and how citizens can redress grievances, among other things—that it’s worth remembering what actually happened here.

    Michael Brown was walking down the middle of the street in Ferguson’s Canfield Green apartment complex around noon on Saturday with his friend Dorin Johnson when the two were approached by a police officer in a police truck. The officer exchanged words with the boys. The officer attempted to get out of his car. At this point, two narratives split.

    According to the still-unnamed officer, one of the two boys shoved him back into the vehicle and then wrestled for his sidearm, discharging one shot into the cabin. The two ran, and the police officer once again stepped from his vehicle and shot at the fleeing teenagers multiple times, killing Brown.

    According to Johnson and other eye witnesses, however, the cop ordered the friends to “get the fuck on the sidewalk,” but the teenagers said they had almost reached their destination. That’s when the officer slammed his door open so hard that it bounced off of Brown and closed again. The cop then reached out and grabbed Brown by the neck, then by the shirt.

    “I’m gonna shoot you,” the cop said.
    Michael Brown is not special. In all its specificity, the 18-year old’s death remains just the most recent example of police officers killing unarmed black men.

    Part of the reason we’re seeing so many black men killed is that police officers are now best understood less as members of communities, dedicated to keeping peace within them, than as domestic soldiers. The drug war has long functioned as a full-employment act for arms dealers looking to sell every town and village in the country on the need for military-grade hardware, and 9/11 made things vastly worse, with local police departments throughout America grabbing for cash to better defend against any and all terrorist threats. War had reached our shores, we were told, and police officers needed weaponry to fight it.

    Officers have tanks now. They have drones. They have automatic rifles, and planes, and helicopters, and they go through military-style boot camp training. It’s a constant complaint from what remains of this country’s civil liberties caucus. Just this last June, the ACLU issued a report on how police departments now possess arsenals in need of a use. Few paid attention, as usually happens.

    No matter how egregious or chronic, police misconduct toward racial minorities has been a fact of life since Reconstruction, as local and state governments have indulged such behaviour and tactics in the interest of “protecting” the white majority against “potential troublemakers”; that is, until flagrant acts of brutality gain the attention of the Feds, then we see court-mandated “reforms” of “rogue” police departments, more minority citizen “input” on police “oversight” boards, etc, etc. But then, quietly, after the mass media has again lost interest, the same policies, the same cops, the same mindset, and the same targeted population resume their dance of death, until the next video of wanton killing by cops of an African-American person hits the airwaves.

    “I’m gonna shoot you,” the cop said.
    Racism, racism, I don’t see no stinkin’ racism, just the police doing their job.

      1. OIFVet

        I wish Blacks would read BAR and stop voting for Democrats. Seems to me that the people in Ferguson are rather miffed at Barry O’s tepid response, so that’s hopefully a start.

        1. hunkerdown

          +9001. I’m not about to tune in, but the Democratic Party appears to have finally decided Rachel Maddow needs to talk about this.

  23. juliania

    Thank you for the link to Nicky Hager’s expos of hidden dealings within the NZ Prime Ministry – a not inconsequential story about politics in a little country that only happens to be a ‘key’ member of the Five Eyes club.

    Here’s perhaps a more straightforward site rendition of the book’s subject matter:

    Nicky Hager is a well respected investigative journalist in New Zealand. This will be a bombshell there.

    1. Andrew Watts

      I already have all of Niebuhr’s books that are being re-published, including some first editions, (“Yay for being a book snob”) so it’s good to see his work propagated among the masses again. Too bad Faith and History was left out. I suppose it wouldn’t be too popular and it’d make all the secular types uncomfortable.

  24. hunkerdown

    Lambert: “So, we’re supposed to shop, but we can’t shop for hospitals on the basis that they’ll leave foreign objects in our bodies, or not. Alrighty then…”

    Neoliberals define shopping as “staring dejectedly at cruel, marginally relevant numbers then sacrificing your money to support the brand”, don’t they?

  25. Roland

    The point of an armed populace is not necessarily that you’re going to defeat the organized forces of the sovereign.

    Back in the golden age of the guerrilla, from the mid-18th to the early-20th century, an armed public could conceivably challenge a regular army, and sometimes achieve a measure of success.

    However, since the early 20th century every major innovation in warfare (e.g. wireless communication, mechanization, remote sensing, effective body armour) has gone in favour of the sovereign and against the people.

    Nevertheless it is worth noting that the Iraqi guerrillas, woefully underequipped and with no significant foreign sponsorship, were still able to force the invading powers to waste about five years and spend about a trillion dollars in order to prevail. The invaders have also suffered from lasting political discredit which, it could be argued, has hampered them elsewhere.

    So I think it is worthwhile to add a few additional considerations to the “armed populace” debate.

    1. You don’t wage guerrilla warfare out of some sort of profit/loss calculus. Rebels and guerrillas are usually defeated at all times and places in history. The most common guerrilla reckoning is that the guerrilla would sooner be damned than let the enemy get their way. It’s not about winning and losing so much as it is about the fighting.

    2. Every expenditure the enemy must make to defeat the guerrilla means they have less to spend oppressing somebody else. For example, the Iraqi guerrillas, although overwhelmed by a vastly superior imperial opponent, may very well have saved Iran from being attacked. The Iraqi guerrillas also tore the mask off their invaders and revealed to the world exactly what sort of people rule that empire. It is not the fault of the guerrillas if the peoples of the world allow Iraqis’ sacrifices to have been made in vain. The point is this: the guerrilla must often performs for the sake of duty rather than for the sake of advantage.

    3. Very few people are keen to embrace that sort of duty, or to impose such suffering on their fellows. Sacrifices in war are hard to make even when the war has the open sanction of all social institutions. It is much harder when individuals and small groups must find it within themselves to decide to go to war against those who control such institutions. If an armed populace do not rise when one would find most convenient, that is not testimony against the value of arms in the people’s hands, but is rather testimony to the people’s forbearance and social virtue.

    As a class, the proletariat have probably borne their expropriation and disenfranchisement more peaceably than any other subjected class in history. Proles, as a class, are not very warlike. Just look at this discussion, in which we see proles arguing, apparently with sincerity, that their masters ought to disarm them!

    The bourgeoisie had a much harder time trying to liquidate the old peasantry. If today’s proles acted like yesterday’s peasants, there would be jacquerie all over the place by now, and no bourgeois would be able to leave their local greenzone without a swarm of escort drones.

    1. OIFVet

      It’s rather optimistic to compare the ability to wage guerrilla resistance against an invader versus our own government. The latter proposition is infinitely harder and thus unlikely in view of the surveillance state we have allowed to emerge, coupled with the militarization of police forces and the docility-producing propaganda environment in which we live. The best bet is and will continue to be cyber warfare against finance, government, military, corporate, and MSM comm networks, energy grids, and as means to disseminate the resistance’s own propaganda. Sure, there is space for the occasional armed encounter as a diversionary tactic or supporting effort, but the main effort must be in cyberspace.

      1. lambert strether

        I still think strategic non-violence is the best bet. Whether we, as a culture, have or can develop the discipline for it is another question. I think it’s fun for armchair theorists — among whom I most definitely number myself — to think about warfare, but it’s another thing to do it. We might consider that (a) it’s always possible to make things worse and (b) when the 60s radicals went that route, with no class basis — a Greenwich Village townhouse, for pity’s sake? — it went very very badly and (c) nobody serious would talk about such things online anyhow.

        1. OIFVet

          Agreed, with the caveat that I do not consider cyber sabotage to be a form of violence. Frankly, even that is rather distasteful to me on some level. Voting too; I do vote Greens but I don’t think it will make a difference in my lifetime as it is an act of participation in the system. Withdrawal from it seems to be the best bet, from refusing to participate in the political, financial, and energy systems to refusal to consume disposable products and corporate food-like substances. That last one and off-the-power-grid living seem to me to be particularly hard to achieve in the US, though still possible elsewhere. Which is why my inner coward is telling me to eventually go back East and settle in one of the small mountain villages that get cut-off from “civilization” for five months every year.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, the government effectively shut down a major American city, simply by telling people to stay in their homes while their militarized police force was deployed without apparent objection, much less resistance. Keep in mind that the entire deployment was based on a complete lack of knowledge regarding the perpetrators of the crime, and that many other, equally atrocious acts take place without shutting an entire city down.

      Now all they need is a false flag attack.

      That said, gun freaks are small, lost people, who fantasize about enemies, great and small, behind every bush and around every corner. They hope for redemption from the failure of anonymity by demonstrating their pseudo baboon asses openly and without reservation or acknowledgement of social stigma. They live for the opportunity to become either heroes or martyrs — failing to recognize that martyrdom is the only realistic outcome of a martial confrontation against TPTB.

      The only real hope for the governed is at the ballot box. Too bad that’s not where heroes and martyrs are made.

  26. optimader

    “However, since the early 20th century every major innovation in warfare (e.g. wireless communication, mechanization, remote sensing, effective body armour) has gone in favour of the sovereign and against the people.”

    I think that is directly opposite of the reality of the evolution of warfare in the 20th century.

      1. vidimi

        to be honest, i think their main objectives were met in every conflict, though especially the first two.

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