Links 9/2/14

How your SKIN is smarter than you think: Researchers find neurons can carry out advanced calculations to tell the brain exactly how we are being touched Daily Mail

Goldman Sachs Made Big Loan to Banco Espírito Santo Shortly Before Collapse WSJ

Eric Cantor to Join Wall Street Investment Bank WSH

Factory activity in Europe, Asia cools; demand lull a concern Reuters

Atlantic City facing unprecedented economic collapse Philadelphia Inquirer

Financial reforms will make the next crisis even messier FT

Frothy again Economist. Housing.

Summer Ends Now Economic Principals

The week’s 14 most important economic charts Quartz

Banks have been a reliable source of campaign cash for Sen. Hagan McClatchy

Gross Photos Show Sewer Workers Battling A ‘Fatberg’ The Size Of A Boeing 747 Under London Business Insider

Read Between The Lines Of HSUS Rhetoric Beef Magazine. (This looks like what ran before the editors tried to put the toothpaste back in the tube; Google cache snippet of unrevised lead.)

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Resisting Tyranny – Customer-Centric-Cloud (CCCl) Another Word for It

Public Records Suggest Ferguson and St. Louis County Police Broke the Law and Own Policies in Failing to Produce a Proper ‘Incident Report’ Bradblog

The Business of America is Dirty Tricks The Baffler. The Star Chamber of Commerce

IRS releases O-Care employer mandate guidance after long wait The Hill

Study: Citizens United elected more Republicans WaPo

Cuomo may dump Hochul, fearing a Tim Wu primary win New York Post

The Magical President doesn’t exist: What the left must really do to defeat the wingnuts Salon. Blah blah blah.

Amid foreign crises, Obama takes solace in U.S. economic turnaround Reuters [snort].


Obama notifies Congress on new round of Iraq airstrikes McClatchy

Germany To Arm Kurdish Fighters Battling ISIS In Iraq IBT

UN body to probe Islamic State crimes in Iraq Al Jazeera

The U.S. Should Not Wage War Against ISIS Like Afghanistan and Iraq Time. Duh.

Kurdish oil tanker that disappeared from radar off Texas coast REAPPEARS days later… and still full with $100million in crude Daily Mail

U.S. carries out counterterrorism strike in Somalia WaPo


Failed Diplomacy: NATO Hardliners Push for Firmer Stance against Russia Der Spiegel

Choking Russia’s Banks Would Be the Ultimate Sanction Businessweek

NATO Eastern Europe Spearhead Hinges on Troop Rotations Bloomberg

Poroshenko has not kept several promises Kyiv Post (!)

Pakistan Parliament to Meet After Second Day of Violence Bloomberg

Single Mom Fights Billionaires With Macau Casino Protests Bloomberg

The fight for ‘China’s sorrow’ FT

Class Warfare

What Unions No Longer Do HBR

This is why it feels like the recession never ended WaPo

What Kind of Worker Is a Writer? The New Yorker

Reason Foundation comes unhinged at populist revolt against tolls San Antonio Express-News

It’s harder to reach the American dream if you’re reaching all alone Robert Borosage, Reuters

The World According to Gnarr LRB. Iceland.

Bulletproof Neoliberalism Jacobin

A Different Idea of Our Declaration NYRB. Must read.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. lakewoebegoner

      It should be noted that current NATO Sec. General Rasmussen (in 2003 as Danish PM) is on-the-record in a speech to the Danish Parliament as knowing for “a fact” that Iraq had WMD.

      We the undersigned are long-time veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.

      You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicious of charges made by the U.S. State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  1. Ned Ludd

    The Ukrainian military contains openly neo-Nazi battalions. Yet the EU punishes Russia, for providing support to the people fighting the fascists. NATO is allying itself with the Ukrainian government, which arms and supports the fascist military units.

    “In conclusion, fascism has returned to the West, East, and South; and this return is naturally connected with the spread of the systemic crisis of generalized, financialized, and globalized monopoly capitalism.”

    1. Banger

      So why are Euro governments and media all supporting the Kiev fascists? Do you have a motivation for governments pursuing that particular path?

      1. Ned Ludd

        European governments and the Western media are following the lead of the U.S. Fascism is compatible with U.S. corporate interests, so there is no reason for the U.S. government to disdain fascists. The current Ukrainian government and its fascist allies will allow U.S. and European corporations to loot the country. Also, if their military operation is successful, any opposition in the East will be dispersed, dead, or terrorized into submission.

        Additionally, the Putin administration obstructs the U.S. government’s attempts to get international consensus on efforts to destabilize countries like Syria, Iran, etc. Russia’s independent foreign policy allows countries to survive without being devoted to U.S. neoliberalism. A Ukrainian government hostile to Russia removes another Russian ally while providing another avenue for destabilizing and subverting Russia.

        1. Banger

          There are a couple of things that are clear: the current Ukraine regime is not sustainable it looks to me that it may devolve into feudal fiefdoms and there is no way that the Russian-speaking parts will be destroyed or ethnically cleansed short of direct invasion by NATO which is completely impossible. Therefore all that is left is the strategy of tension, aka the new Cold War. Such a situation benefits Washington and London but not Berlin so there has to be more to it. Economically this does not benefit most of Europe despite the potential of looting Ukraine–there just isn’t enough there to be worth a new Cold War.

        2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          “. . . U.S. Fascism is compatible with U.S. corporate interests . . . there is no reason for the U.S. government to disdain fascists.”

          Self-disdain is not part of the psychopath’s psyche.

      2. Murky

        Just who are the fascists? Below is a news story from Human Rights Watch. They run the headline, “Rebel Forces Detain, Torture Civilians”. Now I respect Human Rights Watch, but perhaps this story is not well balanced. The Ukrainian army has been shelling Luhansk and Donetsk, targeting rebel forces. Problem: many civilians have been killed by this shelling. That’s what’s missing from this news blurb. On balance, though, it looks like the rebels are more brutal in their prosecution of this war. I don’t read equivalent stories of the Ukrainian army torturing civilians. So for sheer brutality, the rebels in East Ukraine better fit the definition of ‘fascist’. Here’s the link to Human Rights Watch:

        1. Jagger

          It appears the rebel forces are making a clear distinction between captured conscripts of the regular Ukrainian army forces and captured members of the volunteer nazi battalions. I very much suspect very few nazi’s are going to make it back to the Western Ukraine. And it seems at least 3 of those nazi volunteer battalions are surrounded in the Eastern region. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

          1. Murky


            The slavyangrad site you link to is a pro-rebel propaganda site. If you want even more hate-them-Ukrainians sites, try Vineyard of the Saker and Moon of Alabama. That’s precisely the problem here; there is so much hate propaganda in this war that it’s very difficult to sort out the facts. Human Rights Watch, on the other hand, has a very good reputation for factual reporting, neutrality, and non-bias. They are vastly more trustworthy than slavyangrad.

            The Human Rights Watch story makes clear the fact that Putin’s Rebels are torturing civilians. So your effort to paint the Rebels as honest guys treating civilians with dignity is a joke. And your effort to demonize the Ukrainian army as ‘nazis’ is likewise discardable nonsense.

            Your repeated use of the word ‘nazi’ is a clear indication of your extreme bias. If you want me to talk on the same degraded level as you, using the N word, here you go. Putin’s rebels are the real ‘nazis’ in this conflict. It’s Putin’s Moscow backed ‘nazis’ that have a invaded Ukraine, seized Crimea, and are now going after the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. It’s also quite clear which side has been the worst abuser of civilian populations. It’s the rebel ‘nazis’ that have been torturing civilians, not the Ukrainian army. Torture is something ‘nazis’ do, and the rebels ‘nazis’ have been doing just that in spades. Do you support Putin’s ‘nazis’ Jagger?

            I suggest we desist in using the N word to describe the various sides in this conflict. Or do you want to continue the tarring, abuse, and hate rant?

            1. Ned Ludd

              Human Rights Watch, on the other hand, has a very good reputation for factual reporting, neutrality, and non-bias.

              On the other hand…

              The leading human rights organization’s close ties to the U.S. government call its independence into question.


              For example, HRW’s Washington advocacy director, Tom Malinowski, previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and as a speechwriter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 2013, he left HRW after being nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under John Kerry.

              In her biography, Board of Directors’ Vice Chair Susan Manilow describes herself as “a longtime friend to Bill Clinton” who is “highly involved” in his political party, and “has hosted dozens of events” for the Democratic National Committee.

              Currently, HRW Americas’ advisory committee includes Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, and Michael Shifter, one-time Latin America director for the U.S. government-financed National Endowment for Democracy. Miguel Díaz, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst in the 1990s, sat on HRW Americas’ advisory committee from 2003-11. Now at the State Department, Díaz serves as “an interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts.”

              In his capacity as an HRW advocacy director, Malinowski contended in 2009 that “under limited circumstances” there was “a legitimate place” for CIA renditions—the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet.

              1. bruno marr

                HRW is a US propaganda tool. They are about as unbiased as John Boehner. Their agenda is American capitalism. (Some call them fascist tools.) Definitely not worthy of any trust.

            2. Jagger

              Are you saying there are no nazis in the Ukraine holding senior level positions in the government? What is the Svoboda or Social National Party? What about the the Right Sector? And have they or have they not formed volunteer battalions which are composed of neo-nazi’s? Everybody calls them neo-nazi’s but I prefer Nazis. Nazi’s have a very clear historical track record. Anyone claiming they are a nazi knows what it means. Just do some googling of Ukraine and nazis and just see if you don’t come up with page after page of articles discussing these forces.

              Of course, undoubtably most in west ukraine are not Nazis but then most in Germany were not Nazis either when Hitler took over the country. The first step into turning a country fascist is to get into government and when they have enough power, they use it to turn the country into a one party dictatorship. The nazi’s in Ukraine are now in the government with some powerful positions. And western governments are using them just as they were using ISIS in Syria. We are playing with fire.

                1. Jagger

                  One last post from the comments section on the FP article. Very telling in particular the repeal of law penalizing Nazi propaganda.

                  February 23, the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) voted the following bills:

                  4201 – Bill to ban Ukrainian Communist Party activity.
                  4217 – Bill to redress antecedents of the Soviet occupation of Ukraine.
                  4176 – Bill to repeal law penalizing Nazi propaganda.
                  4184 – Bill to place V. Avakov as minister of the interior and members of “Right Sector” party on ministry staff (Avakov also belongs to the party which many consider fascist). Σ
                  4215 – Bill to establish a “Pantheon of national heroes.”
                  4203 – Bill to curb state spending.
                  4215 – Bill to pay tribute to participants in the clashes during peaceful demonstrations.
                  4197 – Bill to place “Svoboda” party member Α.Mahnitskogo as Prosecutor General.
                  4204 – Bill delineating the duties of the President of the Uraine.
                  4191 – Bill to place “UDAR” party member V.A. Nalivaychenko as overseer of Ukrainian Security Agencies
                  4211 – Bill to fire incumbent officers and personnel of security forces and replace them with new personnel (the latter are believed to be members of extreme right wing groups).
                  4199- Bill to repeal the use of their native language by minorities, which refers to Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, and Greek.

              1. Murky

                Extreme nationalist groups in Ukraine polled under 2% in the recent Presidential elections. Extreme nationalists in France recently polled at about 20%. Yes, the ‘nazis’, to use your favorite word, are thicker in Western Europe. Plenty in the USA too. White supremicists sometimes qualify as ‘nazis’. And there are legions of them ‘nazis’ in Russia. I used to sort Russian political party literature by the boxful, and groups like the National Bolshevik Party were a stand-out for their racism, hate, and anti-semitism. Edward Limonov was a lead figure of this fascist nationalism in Russia. Putin’s top ideologist currently is Aleksandr Dugin, and he’s also from the same political roots, definitely fascist. Dugin is the guy that sold Putin on the idea of Eurasianism, which alleges that Russians are racially superior humanity in battle against the corrupt and decadent West. Zhirinovsky apes some of the same racist views, but he is more of a buffoon than a fascist. I am providing Wikipedia links to both Limonov and Dugin so you can trace the current roots of fascism within Russia. My point? Nazis and fascists are everywhere. Fascists are just as thick in Russia as they are in Ukraine.


                Not that I’d expect tolerance from you, Jagger, but would you please ease off the N word just a bit? Else your own intolerance and hate will end up making you look like the ‘nazis’ you claim to despise.

                1. Doug Terpstra

                  Your claims are diversionary. Jagger and others offer solid evidence for neo-Nazi leadership in the Ukie junta, and you say but, but, but there are more facsists/nazi-like characters in France and some in Russia too? Huh? Second, your links say nothing to support your implication that they have a sinister connection to Putin. Third, you cite Moon and Saker as “hateful”, which is obvious nonsense to anyone who’s read them; biased sometimes, scornful too, but hateful, no. You discredit yourself with such pointless diversions and unsubstantiated innuendo… as well as the gratuitous, alienating insults. Jagger wrote nothing to warrant your provocative jab.

                  1. Murky

                    Doug, your words hiss like a venomous snake in a real bad mood. So I think I’ll duck out at this opportune moment. More words now would be warfare. No quality of communication. No civility. No reason to engage you.

                    “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding” – Ghandi

            3. Ned Ludd

              The Azov Battalion is an “openly neo-Nazi unit”.

              Pro-Russian forces have said they are fighting against Ukrainian nationalists and “fascists” in the conflict, and in the case of Azov and other battalions, these claims are essentially true.

        2. Banger

          If you mean you don’t read stories in the mainstream media then that means absolutely nothing since they are largely controlled by the State–or if they aren’t they do a pretty good imitation of being just that.

        3. Ned Ludd

          Human Rights Watch has a revolving door with the U.S. government.

          These trigger-happy human rights activists rotate in and out of government jobs. This month more than 100 scholars, activists, and Nobel Peace Prize winners protested against this revolving door in an open letter to Human Rights Watch, which, thanks to an astonishing $100 million gift from the financier George Soros, has become king of the human rights hill.

          Their letter says that, although Human Rights Watch claims to defend and protect human rights, its ties to the American military and security establishments “call into question its independence.” It names prominent Human Rights Watch figures who have served in the State Department and CIA; condemns the group for supporting “the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet”; and asserts that it produces biased reports exaggerating human rights abuses in countries the United States dislikes, like Venezuela, while being gentler to American allies like Honduras.

  2. kimyo

    Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse

    The book’s central point, much criticised since, is that “the earth is finite” and the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods etc would eventually lead to a crash.

    So were they right? We decided to check in with those scenarios after 40 years.

    The results show that the world is tracking pretty closely to the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario. The first stages of decline may already have started. The Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08 and ongoing economic malaise may be a harbinger of the fallout from resource constraints. The pursuit of material wealth contributed to unsustainable levels of debt, with suddenly higher prices for food and oil contributing to defaults – and the GFC.

    The issue of peak oil is critical. Many independent researchers conclude that “easy” conventional oil production has already peaked. Even the conservative International Energy Agency has warned about peak oil.

    Peak oil could be the catalyst for global collapse.

    1. fresno dan

      I’m all with you.

      My own theory is that the real increase in energy prices is starting to bite. The fact that our system of crony distribution, corruption, and fraud allows this decrease in the standard of living, while perversely preventing any mitigation measures, only shows how incapable the present set up is.

      However, the system won’t collapse. There will be plenty of excess military hardware available to maintain order. We have had 40 years of most people doing worse, and we will have another 40 years of the same…

      1. kimyo

        that monkeytrap/nate hagens link is a great read. i especially liked:

        Basically, the benefits to human societies from the mammoth bank account we found underground are almost indistinguishable from magic. Yet we have managed, over time, to conflate the Magic with the Wizard.

        re: maintaining order with excess military hardware

        if we deploy said hardware in ukraine and beyond, i’m pretty doubtful that order will be the result. plus, such adventures will burn right through the ‘cheap’ oil which remains. why not use that energy for transition instead?

      2. hunkerdown

        Didn’t Jay Gould think hard enough about what the one half left would do to him when they were done?

  3. steviefinn

    On the Neoliberalism article : It’s easy to be bulletproof if you are invisible – from my experience in the UK hardly anybody has heard the word or recognises it, I think I have seen it in MSM print once only & no matter how you spell it, it is not even recognised as a word for spell checking.
    The majority it seems to me are still stuck in a left / right version of the world & any criticism of crony capitalism is simply seen from the viewpoint of most ordinary people as being simply leftist. The thief that works in the dark, with no name, for all the main flavours of government, needs firstly to be identified & recognised as to his true nature to all, not just to a bunch of academic lefties.

    1. Brindle

      I’ve found most people don’t really have words to describe how neoliberlism relates to their day to day lives. At the emotional level there is a collective unease at the sense of having to take on the attributes of the cyborg—but most people kind of just throw up their arms and say, “well, that’s just how life is these days”.

      The bottom line is that neoliberalism is an anti-human ideology, from the Jacobin article:

      —-Neoliberalism, by contrast, sees people as little more than variable bundles of human capital, with no permanent interests or even attributes that cannot be remade through the market.—

      1. Ulysses

        Here’s another gem from the linked Jacobin piece:
        “But Mirowski shows us that the world of the rich under neoliberalism in no way corresponds to the laissez-faire of classical liberalism. The state does not so much leave the rich alone as actively work to reshape the world in their interests, helping to create markets for the derivatives and securities that made (and then destroyed) so many of the fortunes of the recent past. The neoliberal state is an eminently interventionist one, and those mistaking it for the austere nightwatchman of libertarian utopianism have little hope of combating it.”

        The Jacobin piece also does well in pointing out the major shortcoming in Mirowski’s work:

        “To understand how a body of thought became an era of capitalism requires more than intellectual history. It demands an account of how capitalism actually works in the period in question, and how the ideas of a small group of intellectuals came to be the policy preferences of the rich. Mirowski has given us an excellent foundation for understanding the doctrine, but it will remain for others to explain its actual development.”

        I’m actually quite optimistic that people have begun to shake free of their mental enslavement to the neoliberal narrative. What we need to do now is organize workers into unions, disengage from the most ruthless current forms of exploitation, and fight hard to promote a world of liberal, humanist renaissance, not only for the rich, but for all of us. This will involve fierce struggle, since the Davos elite, and kleptocrats more generally, won’t surrender easily their ill-gotten gains.

      2. Ed

        “Anti-humanism” may be a good, fairly neutral term for the “neos” ideologies, neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

        As far as I can make, the ideology seems to be that its OK or even desirable for secretive groups among the elites to operate, exercise power, and interfere with people’s lives in support of secretive and vague goals. Since these groups operate partially within and partially outside the government, the ideology can be pro-government or anti-government depending on the situation. Its very much for concentrations of wealth and power, and opposed to accountability. It differs from the fascism of the earlier twentieth century in terms of not being particularly nationalist or even militaristic (use of propeganda, bribery, and temporarily assembled collections of mercenaries are prefered, national armies are viewed with suspicion), and is definitely not organized around a charismatic leader.

        Because secrecy and misdirection about the ultimate goals seem to be important features, its difficult to discern what the tenets of the ideology are, let alone name it. “Neo-Gnosticism” would be a more formally correct term, but “Anti-Humanism” seems OK and has a stronger chance of winning acceptance.

        1. Brindle

          A basic part of the neoliberal practice appears to be to keep large amounts of the populace, 70-90%, in a state of an uneasy equilibrium— where they know their job could end shortly or that the prospects for gains in wage are very minor. Basically to scale down expectations to more of a survival mode rather than a sense of safety and expansiveness in their lives. This is part of the psychological dimension of wealth extraction from the masses.

        2. Banger

          Excellent comment though I don’t like the term neo-Gnosticism. Gnostics are people who attain knowledge through direct experience, i.e. mystical insight. Anti-humanist is much better since it strikes at the heart of the modernist project and goes together with the failed totalitarian movements of the 30s. The current totalitarian movement has been very successful in creating a, basically, Orwellian situation for the State combined with a neo-feudal situation for the aristocracy.

          1. participant-observer-observed

            Agreed, Banger, that anti-gnosticism is unsuitable and also indecipherable to all but a few.

            Anti-humanism is on the right track, but still narrow, technically speaking: it excludes animals and the environment (except indirectly).

            Another characteristic feature missing is systemic short sightedness in temporal terms. No Chinese-style 5 year plans or 7-generations Native American thinking for this crop of plutocrats and oligarchs except for what they can buy from the supreme court etc via ALEC!

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      One of the reasons NC and similar blogs are “allowed”, to continue is because ultimately the ideas and information they make available is absorbed by the population at large very very slowly; propaganda works. In today’s globally corrupt politics, such sites will cease to exist in functional terms when they are perceived as a sufficient threat. Net neutrality is first about money of course, but the .1% never let a good opportunity go to waste and I think the movement to control information flow is an indication that NC and other such web sites have drawn sufficient official attention to be on the radar.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        They are allowed because they are not a threat — even if they expose blatant criminality and name names. Any pretense of innocence has long been abandoned.

        TPTB: So, we’re wreaking all manner of havoc and murder, all over the planet, for profit. So what?

        1. Ned Ludd

          I recall an article about censorship in China. They often allow criticism to be posted, but they quash any attempts to use the Internet to organize people into action against the government.

      2. Gabriel

        Maybe the “agencies” follow this site.

        If they do and if at some point they take it seriously, one might expect some mis-information and trolling thrown into comments here and there – especially in matters of foreign affairs.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          We already are “beneficiaries” of that sort of attention. I could name names, but I’ll leave it to you to see if you can figure it out for yourself. A tell: one minute, friendly agreement, and then the next minute, while your defenses are down, in slips the half-truth, often distinguishable by the absence of evidence being adduced to support the claim (often a whopper, an entire Weltanshauung). Passive aggressive in its mode of attack, with the clear implication that you are a dupe should you believe otherwise than what is asserted. Sly.

        2. Banger

          Somehow I don’t think the intel community would be much interested in this sight other than to monitor it. Most of the people involved in duplicitous actions have little interest in monitoring intellectual sites. Why should they? I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them agree with much of what we are saying here–but they know they have power and we don’t and that, to them, is just compensation of living on the dark side.

          Here at NC we influence maybe thousands at best–what possible significance can that have for the power-elite? There’s not even the remotest chance anyone here will lead any significant movement to undercut their power at least not in the next few years. Remember they own the public square and have loudspeakers set up there–we have a little cafe on some side-alley.

      3. curlydan

        Yes, true in all countries. “The Putin government has made a clever calculation: a few newspapers, with tiny élite audiences, can publish highly critical investigations and editorials as long as that reporting and criticism stays absolutely disconnected from television… The fact that Novaya Gazeta continued to exist says more about the paper’s minimal impact than about its openness.”

    3. proximity1

      I agree with your main points–though I have heard and read the term neoliberalism everywhere in Europe that I’ve been–mainly in France, where it’s a regular fixture of political and economic vocabulary as well as in Britain. But you’re very right in your view that not that many people in the general public are acquainted with the details of the facts which this article sets out from Philip Mirowski’s book. (I just had a look at the nearest public library’s catalog and, it figures, the book was not in the current collection.) So all the more reason why the book and the article referenced above are important.

      I question this part of the article:

      “Finally, Mirowski argues that the Left has too often been sucked in by neoliberalism’s loyal opposition. Figures like Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman, while critical of austerity and supportive of the welfare state, accept the fundamental neoclassical economic precepts at the heart of neoliberal policy. Mirowski argues that we must ditch this tradition in its entirety. Even attempts to render its assumptions more realistic — as in the case of behavioral economics, for example, which takes account of the ways real people diverge from the hyperrationality of homo economicus — provide little succor for those seeking to overturn the neoliberals.”

      That is simply perverse. First, is it really a fact that, as claimed, “Figures like Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman, while critical of austerity and supportive of the welfare state, accept the fundamental neoclassical economic precepts at the heart of neoliberal policy” ? I certainly never heard or read this anywhere else. I hope it’s not true. As for this–

      …” Even attempts to render its assumptions more realistic — as in the case of behavioral economics, for example, which takes account of the ways real people diverge from the hyperrationality of homo economicus — provide little succor for those seeking to overturn the neoliberals.” —

      how’s that again?! Behavioral economics certainly doesn’t “render its (neoliberalism’s) assumptions more realistic”…. (emphasis added). It squarely undercuts them. So maybe part of the problem is that too many popularizers of the issues in this matter are giving the public some really poor information. Once more, I’ll recommend a book which I so wish I could read and appreciate in its full, economic-formulae-filled extent: La théorie économique néoclassique : Microéconomie, marcoéconomie et théorie des jeux from Bernard Guerrien & Emmanuelle Benicourt.
      ( )
      They present neoliberal economics as it is argued popularly and then, using standard economic formulae (which are beyond my understanding), demonstrate how the popular account’s terms and arguments fall apart when these assumptions are related through accepted formulaic expressions of the same concepts–that is, mathematically, the popular account cannot be made to add up. So, how are the likes of P. Krugman and Jos. Stiglitz supposedly taken in by it?

      1. steviefinn

        I suppose at the end of the day it should be the progressive political parties & media that should be explaining Neoliberalism. I wonder what the countries that have already been looted call it – Perhaps the unfortunate truth is that the beast is only fully understood & named once it has gorged itself & people through eventual recognition of an old devil in new clothes, start to fight back.

      2. Banger

        To answer your question, I believe that Stieglitz, Krugman and behavioral economics are net positives their “error” is that they assume that the economic system is reformable to counter neoliberalism’so militant anti-humanist and neo-feudal tendencies. Why? Because there is no such thing as “Economics” as a discrete disciplinethere is only politics. The current set-up is not vulnerable to change or even intelligent discussion because when we talk economics we are talking nonsense. Poverty, for example is not a question of people making “bad decisions” but part of the political system–sure poor people, like everyone else, make bad decisions but their bad decisions have infinitely more serious consequences than the decisions of more privileged people. In my case, had i been black or trailer trash as a youth I would have been in and out of prison or gone to Vietnam to fight that particular rich-man’s war.

        Barring social movements that are able to disrupt the daily bidness of the powerful or open and violent revolt there is no way the current system can be threatened or reformed. Krugman can bray all he wants but his nostrums, unless they are favored by a substantial segment of the oligarchy, will be largely ignored though tolerated.

  4. proximity1

    I found the NYRB’s article by Gordon S. Wood, in which he reviews “A Different Idea of Our Declaration,” by Danielle Allen, mainly interesting for what it reveals about some academic intellectuals–well, alriight, this particular academic intellectual— but, if she were actually unique in this respect, I’d be extremely surprised. [Note: anyone who bothered to read the link (I posted yesterday in a comment) to William Deresiewicz’s essay, “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education,” will not be very surprised at Danielle Allen’s self-confessed surprise at the ability of her night-class (read common-nonelite) -students’ capacities to grasp the quite evident sense and meaning of the Declaration of Independence ( (*) NYRB article excerpt appended below) ]

    as William Deresiewicz writes, in his essay,

    “Visit any elite campus in our great nation and you can thrill to the heartwarming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. At the same time, because these schools tend to cultivate liberal attitudes, they leave their students in the paradoxical position of wanting to advocate on behalf of the working class while being unable to hold a simple conversation with anyone in it. Witness the last two Democratic presidential nominees, Al Gore and John Kerry: one each from Harvard and Yale, both earnest, decent, intelligent men, both utterly incapable of communicating with the larger electorate.

    “But it isn’t just a matter of class. My education taught me to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League or equivalent school weren’t worth talking to, regardless of their class. I was given the unmistakable message that such people were beneath me. We were “the best and the brightest,” as these places love to say, and everyone else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic “Oh,” when people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I’d gone to Harvard, I would have learned to say “in Boston” when I was asked where I went to school—the Cambridge version of noblesse oblige.) I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of class. I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to college at all.

    “I also never learned that there are smart people who aren’t “smart.” The existence of multiple forms of intelligence has become a commonplace, but however much elite universities like to sprinkle their incoming classes with a few actors or violinists, they select for and develop one form of intelligence: the analytic. While this is broadly true of all universities, elite schools, precisely because their students (and faculty, and administrators) possess this one form of intelligence to such a high degree, are more apt to ignore the value of others.” …

    First, among the interesting things about Professor Allen, not least are the facts that she’s a woman and, a Black woman at that. There are, a reader might reason, two very good reasons for her to have come to Princeton’s IAS having already lived in personal proximity with what are often called American working-class people, and, indeed, Black American working-class people. Of course it’s laudable to teach night-classes to day-laboring wage-earners or unemployed people. But why should she have been so taken by surprise about her night-class’s sophisticated appreciation of the Declaration of Independence? With the Deresiewicz essay fresh in mind, I went looking for clues. And what I found helped a great deal. I found the first bunch in her own academic credentials:

    University of Cambridge, Ph.D., Classics, 1996; Harvard University, Ph.D., Government, 2001; The University of Chicago, Assistant Professor 1997–2000, Associate Professor 2000–03, Professor 2003–07, Dean of the Division of Humanities 2004–07; Institute for Advanced Study, UPS Foundation Professor 2007–; MacArthur Fellowship 2002; American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member; Trustee of Amherst College, Mellon Foundation; Pulitzer Prize Board, Chair; PROSE Award in Education 2013

    Next, and with those facts known, much less surprising, she comes from a family of successful high-achieving parents. “Dad” is William Barclay Allen ( ), Ph.D. (1972, Claremont Graduate University (**) ), one time Dean and professor at James Madison College of the University of Michigan, a member of the (U.S.) National Council on the Humanities, member and one-time chairman of the (United States Commission on Civil Rights and is still a professor of political philosophy at the University of Michigan while “Mom,” for her part, is or was a research librarian.

    Now, with that as background, let’s return to the circumstances of the British Colonies of North America and their Declaration of Independence and the ease with which Allen’s night-class was able to appreciate so much of the finer aspects of its import. It was, after all, directly addressed to the colonies’ (literate minority, yes) inhabitants, where they’d have found it either circulated clandestinely or posted openly (for a time) as a broadside sheet in public view. It was indeed an argument–it stated with marvelous clarity, concision and eloquence the case for the colonies’ independence from mother-Britian. Many of those who couldn’t read it for thelmselves could reasonably expect to have its details presented to them for discussion and debate. So there is no reason why it’s appeal should have been limited to the literate public alone. Nor should it have demanded more than an ordinary (contemporary) adult’s understanding of the world, of politics and of civil rights and liberties–though the Declaration’s authors had a classical scholar’s appreciation of these in both recent and ancient history’s texts which were part of their home’s and their colleges’ libraries.

    So, indeed, the Declaration of Independence really speaks, and speaks powerfully, to the everyday laborering men and women who filled the night-class’s seats. And, who’s surprised, after all, about that?

    (* Excerpt from the NYRB article by Gordon S. Wood)

    “Allen, who is a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, came to this extraordinary conclusion when she was teaching for a decade at the University of Chicago. But it was not the young bright-eyed undergraduates whom she taught by day who inspired her. Instead, it was the much older, life-tested adults whom she taught by night who created “the single most transformative experience” of her teaching career.

    “As she slowly worked her way through the 1,337 words of the Declaration of Independence with her night students, many of whom had no job or were working two jobs or were stuck in dead-end part-time jobs, Allen discovered that the document had meaning for them and that it was accessible to any reader or hearer of its words. By teaching the document to these adult students in the way that she did, she experienced “a personal metamorphosis.” For the first time in her life she came to realize that the Declaration makes a coherent philosophical argument about equality, an argument that could be made comprehensible to ordinary people who had no special training.”

    About Claremont Graduate University– it’s …”a member of the Claremont Colleges which includes five undergraduate (Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Scripps College, Pitzer College) ” (from Wikipedia’s page) and Pomoma, it happens, is one of the places, among others also associated with CGU, which WIlliam Deresiewicz cites favorably in his essay as examples of a gifted student’s alternatives to the sort of education on offer at the elite Ivy League institutions.

    1. nycTerrierist

      re: Allen’s better late than never epiphany about effective writing (the Declaration of Independence) and
      the capacity of ‘ordinary people’ to respond to it.
      Q.e.d. one can amass an alphabet soup of credentials and still remain rather shallow, obtuse and needless to say, snobbish.

      How nice that she finally got a clue.

      (Ivy League grad here)

    2. dandelion

      I’ve long believed that one reason “the left” has no power in this country is because the “academic left” in the mid-70s turned toward post-modernism, post-structuralism, with its fragmented, jargon-filled abandonment of any kind of over-arching truth that could be spoken plainly in favor of examinations of splinters of the world through tinier and tinier lenses. It made for great niches of expertise and the impenetrable jargon alone made its practitioners appear, to outsiders, overweeningly intellectual. But it communicated nothing, led nothing, inspired nothing in the world beyond academia. I’m of an age that I was present at that exact moment, studying in an honor program in modern thought, when every one of my professors put aside their Marx and their Gramsci and even their Frankfurt School to read Derrida et al, and I remember thinking at that time — well, there goes the left. Because, in terms of political advocacy and power, I read this turn as creating a giant power vacuum. The right, bearing all sorts of banners, rushed in to that place of “truth” the left now refused to occupy on the grounds that any proclamation of truth was totalizing. Well, yes. On the other hand, in political power terms, people do need to know what the left actually stands for, and it seemed now, it stood only for particles of truth that could never cohere.

      1. Ulysses

        Fantastic comment! Yet there are still some on the left who refuse to crawl into small, academic compartments and do nothing to resist the status quo.

        For example, Chris Hedges still has some fire in his belly. Here he is the other day, challenging us to wake up, put down the Foucault and Derrida, and get out in the streets to engage in non-violent protest:
        “Our democracy is an elaborate public relations charade. And the longer we accept this charade the longer we will be irrelevant. Only when we understand power can we fight it. This fight must be waged on two fronts. We must disrupt the machinery of corporate capitalism and at the same time build parallel, autonomous structures for self-governance that address basic needs such as food and green energy….
        I prefer incremental and piecemeal reform. I prefer a system in which we can elect politicians to represent the governed and thwart corporate abuse. I prefer a United Nations that serves the interests of people around the globe rather than corporate profit. I prefer a vigorous and free debate in the public arena. I prefer a judiciary that is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state. I prefer the freedom to express dissent without government monitoring of my communications and control of my movements. I prefer to have my basic civil liberties protected. But we do not live in such a system.
        The corporate state’s response to climate change has been to pass a series of draconian laws and set up a vast security and surveillance apparatus that obliterates our privacy, allows us to be snatched off the streets by the military and held without due process in indefinite detention, and criminalizes dissent….
        Resistance will come from those willing to breach police barricades. Resistance will mean jail time and direct confrontation. Resistance will mean physically disrupting the corporate machinery. Resistance will mean severing ourselves from the dominant culture to build small, self-sustaining communities. This resistance will be effective only when we refuse to do what we are told, when we turn from a liberal agenda of reform to embrace a radical agenda of revolt.”

      2. trinity river

        I remember this too. +100 Despite the need for a change of direction in the study of literature in U.S. universities, Derrida and Paul de Man led us further astray.

        1. James Levy

          I’ve been making that point in a much angrier and less eloquent way for years. Kudos for putting it better, smarter, and less histrionic than I have.

        2. participant-observer-observed

          the effect is much more salient than that, but no point to blame the intelligent for lack of evolution of the public, other than short-sighted careerism.

          I.e., Derrida’s constructivism (and Western incarnation of ancient Eastern interdependence ontology) was in fact digested wholesale by Wall Street, where the constructivist ontology of financial instrument value (MBS, derivatives, etc.) is the basis for every naked emperor pimp job, with all the profits used to buy off regulators and public servants (yes, once upon a time, senators and supreme courts at least pretended to serve the public), kill Glass-Steagall, etc.

          It is not merely a diversion of intellectual class spelling negligence in the left-right popular propaganda game! Rather, negligence of nihilism, to neglect to discourse on empirical reality as we find it.

          Another factor is influential: rise of STEM fields dictate reductionist if not crassly short-sighted monad academic foci. Only long-game interests fund general knowledge fields like philosophy. It looks like Dirac and Derrida had little in common, but all of our gadgets and telecoms were born out of the intellectual social culture as a whole. It is like trying to view the 60s and 70s without considering the influences of recreational psychedelics.

      3. Banger

        Yes, the post-modernist discourse that emerged out of the complex critique of western culture was and is a dead-end but it did provide some excellent insights that were lost on those in American academic circles who did not have the intellectual background to understand WTF they were talking about. It’s like they suddenly entered a conversation that had been going on for a long time, caught a few minutes of it and attempted to pass that on to students who were even more unprepared to understand WTF they were talking about so they created this weird cargo-cult–and I’m generalizing here, there are always exceptions.

        At any rate, even in the Euro context, it was not a strong movement.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        You were right. IMSHO, the destruction of the humanities* turned out to be the first phase of a process that will, unless stopped, turn all universities into trade schools taught by a precariat of adjuncts, with a few highly paid faculty stars and fancy buildings (with naming rights), and a parasitical overclass of highly paid administrators. If people want an education (and they do) they’ll have to go elsewhere.

        NOTE * No more critical thinking skills! No more narratives! No more writing! No more reading!

        1. hunkerdown

          I still think narratives are the problem, and that novels are tantamount to foot-binding. On the other hand, to expand on what Hedges said, a nation full of alpha-worshipping, chicken-pecking narrative lovers (which is, essentially, the high-falutin’ way to say drama queens) doesn’t really have much use for facts, and if it takes My Pet Goat to reach them, I don’t know that anyone ever said that hauling fantasists out of their reverie was anything but grim work.

    3. Garrett Pace

      I am reminded of this quote from Achilles in Vietnam, where a therapist who specialized in combat trauma of Vietnam veterans described his patients.

      I have made no concessions to the stereotype of the veteran as uneducated Joe Six-pack. The men who have taught me have great intelligence, although some have had negligible formal schooling. I have learned that many veteran who dropped out of high school are now voracious readers who will be offended by talking down to them in any way. Some, who are among the most eloquent and terrifyingly intelligent, will not read this book, because they cannot read.

  5. Brooklin Bridge

    Re Ukraine, it does not look like the “realist” faction of the deep state is winning the day. NATO expansion is in the air, and the stunningly reckless rhetoric of military escalation risks becoming irreversible action. Personally, I think Obama has as much responsibility for the insanity as the deep state, if not more. He is quite happy to be pressured toward NATO expansion. He is clever, ruthless, but also vein and I suspect imagines the world stage to be just like our judicial system for elites, consequence free, or at least under the classified/MSM compliant rug. He can continually raise the ante to keep Ukraine in a state of economic collapse and human genocide and Europe suffering all manner of economic and social upheaval (AFNAB – a feature not a bug) without worrying in the least about pushing Russia over the edge.

    Whatever the combination of power players in DC is, they are engineering a real storm in Europe that will be for keeps when it happens.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Meanwhile, our ‘old reliable’ MSM is doing its part for the war effort, as exemplified by the ‘kill ’em all and let God sort it out’ Time article linked above:

      ‘But war isn’t always about creating something better. Sometimes it’s simply about ridding the world of terrorists whose zealotry compels them to kill innocents.’

      Rich, ain’t it: an ink-stained scribbler on behalf of global policing by the ‘world’s indispensable nation,’ writing with no sense of irony about ‘zealotry.’ Another DC yankee, with his head buried deeply up his rectum.

      Fortunately, this form of collective narcissism is self-limiting, as it leads (slowly but surely) to economic collapse.

      1. Carolinian

        In the great Luce tradition. Plus there’s something about these reporters on the DOD beat that turns them into tools. Tubes Gordo comes to mind along with David Martin, Pete Williams. Thompson suggests that if we just kill the people we don’t like–Saddam, the Taliban–problem solved. It’s totally shallow. The guy did win a Pulitzer Prize–30 years ago and not when working for Time.

        1. hunkerdown

          He is right, you know. Killing people does prevent them from doing the actions which one finds objectionable. It may be shallow, but it’s how the deep state works, according to Allen Dulles. They’re breaking our ability to act and their ability is improving. They’re winning and we aren’t. Why? Because victory doesn’t come from proper pinky posture whilst drinking tea or any other bourgeois posturing. It comes from achieving planned outcomes.

          Short of killing, how do we *credibly and reliably prevent them from acting against our interests once in office*? I know this is going to be grim work, but I don’t know that I have the stomach for *that* level of grim!

          1. Carolinian

            But my point is that the notion that other, different opponents won’t just appear after that killing is shallow. The reason for “nation building” was not simply to be nice out of the goodness of our hearts but to control the outcome of the original killing.

            And there’s the other crazy option of not killing anyone. Saddam was no threat to us and the Taliban (reportedly) offered to turn over Bin Laden if we didn’t attack them.

            Since 9/11 the US has been everywhere killing supposed opponents with drones or other means. All evidence suggest this just makes more enemies.

            1. abynormal

              i humbly disagree with “control the outcome of the original killing.”
              more like control the resources period. spawned enemies are control for when those profits get shallow.

              follow that money and the heartless appear

    2. Banger

      Rhetoric means nothing. The goal of both the neocons and neoliberal realists is to create fake enemies to enable the oligarchy to remain perpetually in power. The difference between the two is that the neocons are militant anti-modernists who want to remake the world into a neo-feudal society based, not on consumerism but based on tribalism and conservative religions with a highly privileged and libertine elite which, like the Marquis de Sade, are free to victimize the lower orders as they deem right. In contrast, the realist neoliberals want, to a degree, a meritocracy, and some measure of freedom, mainly cultural and religious for the lower orders. There is no evidence I can see that either side is “winning.” Go look at headlines–Ukraine barely registers–or registers in a highly uneven manner considering its crucial importance compared to, say, Jennifer Lawrence’s nude pics. Contrast that with the Syrian gas crisis of last year when the entire power-structure was united in calling for WAR against Assad based on no evidence. The whole thing fell flat because some elements in the national security state threatened to “bust” the neocons and their gang of neo-criminals.

      So far the new Cold War has not been very impressive nor has the Russian gov’t faced much in the way of sanctions. This has all the appearance of pro-wrestling. We have to remember that pursuing a shooting war would be bad for business and Wall Street can and will not allow it.

  6. lakewoebegoner

    People should remember that the current hawkish head of Nato, Anders Rasmussen, was also ultra-hawkish on Iraq when he was the Danish leader in 2003.

    Rasmussen is on the record giving a speech in front of the Danish Parliament that Iraqi WMDs were a fact in the run-up to the Iraq war.

    1. Jim Haygood

      William Binney, Ray McGovern and others advise Andrea Merkel in an open letter:

      ‘Hopefully, your advisers have reminded you of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s checkered record for credibility. It appears to us that Rasmussen’s speeches continue to be drafted by Washington. This was abundantly clear on the day before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq when, as Danish Prime Minister, he told his Parliament: “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This is not something we just believe. We know.”


      ‘Fogh of War’: he’s a lying bitch, but he’s our bitch.

        1. Carolinian

          I suspect the conjoining of “intelligence professionals” and “sanity” is what Malooga really objects to. McGovern is a good guy.

          1. Peter Pan

            Speaking of “intelligence officials”, is Stratfor’s George Friedman related to the NYT’s Thomas Friedman? Both seem to be “unintelligent officials”.

            Stratfor: Black Sea Basin Strategy –

            Let’s see; the USA is acting out in a pivot to East Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina (bond default), Brazil (NSA spying), Ukraine, etc. But, oh hey, a Black Sea Basin Strategy would resolve the USA being spread so very thin all over the world. Easy peasy.

  7. Eeyores enigma

    First you talk as if a brilliant, Machiavellian Obama is actually steering the bus. As if switching him out would have one iota of difference wrt policy.
    Then you come close to the truth when you say, “Whatever the combination of power players in DC is…”.

    I believe in order to keep things straight and real we should ban any reference to an individual president as if the position is actually one of ultimate decision making or any decision making for that matter. Otherwise we support the fallacy that voting in someone new will bring about any sort of positive change or sanity.

    A prediction of future campaign slogan, “Hate ME Next” or “Vote For Me I’m Easy To Hate”.

    1. proximity1

      So, for you, Obama was firstm last and always, a complete and utter fraud, never for a moment sincerely interested in more than a cynic’s desire to hold office and execute TPTB’s wishes ? That’s the conspiracy theorist’s full-plate order. And it’s a tall order. You have to assume that in all the nation’s history, every single man and woman who has come into a intimate insider’s knowledge of power-wielding is similarly a creep, a phony and a coward. Man! And I thought my opinion of Americans and their “republic” was low!

      After all the lofty rhetoric Obama lavished on his campaign audiences, if, on getting into office, he either learned or confirmed what he might have already suspected, that, as you put it, he isn’t really “steering the bus” as democracy’s believers suppose is the case, then why the hell now, in his final term of office, can he not simply announce this vital truth to the already-very-jaded public? What, at this point, does he have to lose that a serious patriot would not risk and lose for the betterment of the nation he’s supposed to love?

      Since things are now so clearly rotten and corrupt and the beliefs you relate so widespread, why, now, does it remain so hard for a Snowden-like insider to reveal openly what so many people suspect already? I think the truth is simpler and harder and less flattering. Lot’s of the workings are hidden, but much of them aren’t. TPTB are groups of competing interests whose dominance is waxes and wanes with the changing vicisitudes of life’s events. Of course, money and position are the keys to the kingdom, but, I think there is a bus-driver and for the present, it is Obama and he is in fact a thoroughly disgusting fellow, morally, a zero, without any clear and directing principle except crude and often stupid expediency.

      1. abynormal

        ‘bus drivers gain keys to the kingdom’? crossed metaphors are my favorite tell…thanks for another belly laugh.

        The seething rage that accompanies the truly despondent, effaces the delusional that mock from the safety of their shared illusion.
        Justin K. McFarlane Beau

        1. proximity1

          Crossed metaphors are your favorite “tell”? Well, goody for you! “So happy” to oblige.
          As the great Noam Chomsky said, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.”

        2. Paul Niemi

          I voted for the President twice. I’m not ashamed of it. And the vitriol with which people on the right and on the left attack him makes me uncomfortable. A President has six sides: what he says and what he does in public, what he says and what he does in private, and what he says and what he does in secret. The book on all this will not be written for years. I’m not ready to sit in judgement until I hear more of the story, and for his last two years I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I have no other choice. Do I know someone who knows him? Have I heard good things spoken privately? He can not run for re-election, so judgements now are meat for the views of history anyway.

          1. abynormal

            there’s been plenty books written on our broken system(s). realistically, i don’t see playing fields leveling until we hit a bottom. ‘they’ aren’t going to relinquish money and power out of the goodness of their heart(s).
            we’ll live the past until we’ve learned it…unless nature beats us to it.
            a lot going on.

          2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

            The People had his back, for change, and “change” was not undefined: A return to the square deal, justice for bankers, war mongers, and torturers, a break for the middle class.

            He had the Bully Pulpit like no one before him.

            Either he was lying, or the American people had his back for nothing, and were betrayed due to cowardice or for 30 pieces of silver.

            It’s kayfabe 24/7/365, from here on out.

            Either way, it has made scant difference to us.

      2. James Levy

        Obama is not powerless but he may fear the day he gives a clear order and it is simply ignored or disobeyed. He is a conformist and he has groomed himself for this job since he was a very young man. He learned to go along and get along early. And no president has left office and told the truth about the real contours of power, not even Jimmy Carter, who has been and still is clearly reviled and held in contempt by all the living presidents since his leaving office. Carter certainly has nothing to lose, yet you won’t hear him tell who was giving the marching and halt orders during his time in the White House, or what he knows about the “October Surprise.” Obama simply craves the position and lifestyle the Bushes and Clinton enjoy in retirement. He will do nothing to jeopardize that at this late date.

      3. Whine Country

        “he is in fact a thoroughly disgusting fellow, morally, a zero, without any clear and directing principle except crude and often stupid expediency.”
        Living through the period I have and seeing the impact of media on the election of a President, I have often wondered if what we are seeing the inevitable results. The changes in financing for those running and the type of information that we obtain through the process seems to be why we got Obama and why it is likely that subsequent presidents will be equally or more shallow individuals. From my point of view, the current system provides “information” to voters which focuses strictly on picking an electable “product”. Little or nothing is focused on previous accomplishments. (Has there been a President who really accomplished less that Obama before being elected.) The most interesting feature of all who have been elected is that they have not made one of many “serious” mistakes in their past. So the less we know about the true person, the better. And what makes it easy for the people who get people elected is a person who has really done nothing of any consequence. Run down the list of Presidents from Jimmy Carter on. What information did we learn during the media campaigns (I was going to put circus here with a line out but I don’t know how to do that) that made us believe they would do anything well for us? I don’t know about you but it is much easier for me to recall those that were forced to drop out because of their purported misdeeds – ones that are really common among successful people – but judged by certain groups to be too serious to ignore. What about Presidents who were elected with the help of Ross Perot and Ralph Nader’s media circus splitting tickets. (Neither Perot or Nader would have run without the accompanying media circus IMHO). Then there is another factor that comes to my mind. We now have our first African American President and some believe we will next have our first woman President, but we already filled the one slot allotted to a Catholic President (about 60 years ago) and he didn’t even get a full first term! I’ve given up ever seeing an Italian American President in my lifetime (and don’t tell me that there has never been one who is worthy of the job!). So, to my mind, unless we reform the election process so as to eliminate the media circus that is designed to sell TV time, with very little consideration given to providing real information which focuses on a candidates ability to do the job, we will get Obama or worse. (Sorry to speak this way about another example of American Exceptionalism and the wonders of the market) For full disclosure, I’m neither a Republican or Democrat, I’m just angry, and, if I vote, I plan on voting for Jeb Bush. Why? Because I think he has no skeletons in the closet and he can point to his record, which is: I’m better than my dad and better than my brother; you elected them; now elect me! Like I said, Obama or worse.

        1. proximity1

          You asked,
          “Has there been a President who really accomplished less that Obama before being elected?”

          Yes, indeed there has been. For a reminder, his name was and is George W. Bush–just as disgusting as Obama, and certainly no less cynical or morally vacant. Bush’s practical “accomplishments” prior to his first taking office were even fewer than those of Obama.

      4. Banger

        Your comment is a good one and I don’t really disagree. However to apply “simple” to the internal politics of the Imperial court is very far off base. Again, as I’ve said many times, Obama has no independent power base–if you have truly followed his career you cannot fail to see he was recruited to fill the position of POTUS. He is smart and he is not a mere stooge–he is a manager of the country who has the skill to play off and broker power between competing power centers–his power comes from his ability to manage relationships. When we talk about power-relations in the USG we are talking about an extremely murky and Byzantine set of constantly changing relationships and, frankly, multiple conspiracies as you would expect in any Imperial court.

        If you believe the mainstream narrative bears any resemblance to the truth I suggest you look deeper into the world of propaganda and PR since WWI.

      5. Eeyores enigma

        Once a person has been chosen to be groomed for president by the people who do that kind of thing, and yes that is how it is done, he is coached, advised, directed, and overwhelmed by a constant barrage of people.

        After a while a person looses sight of what is them and what is everyone else. Once in office it ramps up even more until all the aids, advisors, and cabinet members are tasked with doing most things and POTUS is simply paraded through life given a script for most things and coached when it is time to ad-lib.

        Does anyone think even for a minute that G.W. Bush ran anything, made any real decisions that matter?

        I was married to a three generation political family.

        1. James Levy

          I think Bush, like most presidents since Truman, has made choices based on a series of alternative presented to him by his staff and his backers. No man or woman can know enough about enough things at this late date to generate personal, individual lines of policy and strategy for all the things a president is now expected to talk about and get himself involved in. Bush, as we all know, was incurious and didn’t know a hell of a lot. He was there to sell a message or choose a course among those considered acceptable by the money and policy elite. None of these guys, with the possible exception of Nixon on occasion, do their thinking for themselves. They have people for that. So, yes, they do make choices, but based on their gut reaction to the short list of options their handlers and backers find acceptable.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      That Obama sold us a Bill of Goods, and that he has basically governed as Bush did, is obvious to any half honest observer.

      From our Self-Government Toolkit:

      Never again vote for a candidate nominated by either major political party, as they are one, and the same.

      Will it work? Who knows? What’s working now is working against the vast majority of People.

    3. Jackrabbit

      We got Obama because our democracy has been silently stolen. Ordinary people have disenfranchised via these lies:

      >> Money is speech (no it is an amplifier, which can be regulated)

      >> Corporations are people (no, they are legal fictions used as a veil by wealthy shareholders)

      >> The USA is exceptional (no, mostly lucky; ‘greatness’ lip service to justify whatever)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        At least for now, the imperial currency is ‘exceptional.’

        There is only one like it in the whole wide world.

    1. rjs

      translation from the arabic:
      To watch a video of the execution of an American journalist by Daash Note that:
      1. video was produced professionally and there are more than the angle of the camera, and it indicates the presence of more than one camera in addition to the fixed cameras and without any vibration level and this has never been done by “Daash.”
      2 high-quality sound and did not change with angle photography and this indicates the existence of a separate microphone to record sound as … is in the production of films and this level has never been done by “Daash.”
      3 killer and the victim’s clothes, new and very clean and like I came out of the factory shortly before, and also “Daash” does not dressups Dhaaha red clothes completely similar to the clothes penalty.
      4. victim speak with confidence and without fear and tension, or even with little or no signs of torture, and the killer speaks fluent British accent.
      5. there are two people in the video clip and only two killer and the victim, and the victim usually be around a group of individuals “Daash” and are doing and zoom in chaos after the execution.
      There are other observations can observe them easily … not in defense of the “Daash” This is a fact, but this passage is doubtful.

    2. Jackrabbit

      What makes the ‘false flag’ view even more compelling is the questionable behavior of the Foley family during media appearances. And only days ago it was discovered that the person appearing as Foley’s sister had given an interview for CNN under a different name!!!! See my comment from yesterday which has all the links.

      Frankly, I’m surprised this isn’t getting more attention.
      H O P

      1. abynormal

        the first time i saw the family they seemed distraught…thanks for the linked update!
        returning to iraq at 7.5M a day…i gota consider who has the mo$t motive for the beheading(s). (we’re so very $pecial)

        1. Jackrabbit

          If, as it now appears, the ‘Foley beheading’ was a false flag to stir up war fever, it should be fully investigated as it is outrageous and unacceptable.

          – Who made the video? and what was the intent?

          – Why did the FBI clear it? What other agencies cleared it?

          – When will the media and the President (who spoke about the video as though it were real)
          reveal the video was false?

          – How can we prevent such media manipulation in the future?

          – Why was the law against military propaganda changed last year? Was the military involved in producing this video?

          – Who are the Foleys? Who do they work for? Where are they now?

          IMO, this video was made to ‘manufacture consent’ for bombing Syria. In the days after it was made public and before it was questioned as ‘staged’, the Administration was contemplating bombing BOTH ISIS and Syria. But ISIS just appeared on the scene 2 months ago, while US-Israel-KSA have been trying to overthrow Assad for years.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Wow. I guess I was fooled. But not because I was previously into conspiracy theories like ‘crisis actors’ but because of:

          >> The staged beheading. Most people that have seen the video agree that it was staged. But there is some disagreement on whether the body at the end is James Foley’s or a CPR dummy with a bust of Foley’s head placed on it.

          – The pool of blood in front of the neck seems rather small
          – The arms seem to be too white for someone that has been in the middle east for a long period
          – The arms seem to lack hair

          >> The media appearances where the family does not appear to be grieving.

          – a picture falls behind the brother and sister during an interview as though they are on a set
          – Foley’s sister smiles, laughs, and seems rather upbeat during the interview
          – Foley’s parents also seem strangely detached, with little evidence of saddness
          – Foley’s Mother’s statement talks seems to focus on patriotic themes rather than the loss of her son

          >> Then there is MH-17 and last year’s rush to bomb Syria on false evidence

          1. Banger

            We have to remember that there are deliberate disinformation campaigns and fake opposition personalities’ web sites and “movements that are created by professional PR people in government service–this is one of the main features of the internet world I got to see fairly close up.

          2. abynormal

            that’s what we’re here for Jack…to decipher and learn. i find your post thought provoking and am better versed for them. keep going.

          3. Ned Ludd

            I read before that some “conspiracy theories” are designed to be easily falsifiable. It is one way to destroy the credibility of people who are skeptical of a certain story and unwittingly repeat related, but intentionally false, speculation.

  8. ambrit

    Re. “Germany to arm Peshmerga”;
    The Germans have wanted a client state in the Transcaucasus since the nineteenth century. Given the history of enmity between the Kurds and the Turks; what did Germany promise Turkey to facilitate this arms transfer? Big time shifts in geopolitical alliances ahead.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whatever Germany wants, whatever NATO wants, it’s better they don’t go near Volgagrad.

      I would draw a line at the mighty Don river.

  9. abynormal

    re Populist against Tolls: “But perhaps the worst aspects of P3s are the fact they use eminent domain for private gain and surrender control – in essence, state sovereignty – over our public infrastructure to private corporations. In 2012, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal cited this as his reason to pull the plug on P3 concessions calling them ‘ill-conceived sell-outs.’”

    Actually Deal went about it another way…there are ‘Lexus Lanes’ in GA and public transportation has been cut yoy 10% buses/14% rails beginning 2010. Deal and his daughter’s money laundering scam lamed him. P3s will be in GA in short order…a tell is in the desperate measures the state is going after revenue to drown out the big sucking sound.
    ex: my sister got lost and turned into the exit of a ghost strip mall, not one business operating, receiving a ticket for $174.00. HellFukingO

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Eventually, even the most thick-headed US citizen will understand that we are being collectively robbed.

    2. Carolinian

      Of course those Lexus Lanes (you are electronically tolled by distance) used to be HOV lanes. Atlanta in its wisdom has switched from evironmental consciousness to class warfare and revenue gathering. I would be interested to know the thinking behind this switch (which I only became aware of on a recent visit).

      1. abynormal

        behind the switch…Marginal Returns?
        ex: back in 2002 i daringly chaperoned a dozen blue hairs to a pecan farm. (btw, the journey was filled with saxby chambliss cardboard propaganda, to which each lady prayed for his seat to be filled.) we arrive at a private farm, in middle nowhere georgia, for a good ole so. feast. i looked around for the snag but couldn’t locate it Until a mike was tapped for the good ole boy owner. from there we go into belt bible prayer (fine i was raised here), followed with some serious Ethanol propaganda. by the 3rd sentence, we learn the owners farm was 3/4th corn…see where im going? even then it was obvious the numbers would never come out of the red, And this was all the treehuggers fault.
        i considered raising my hand to question burning food in vehicles but born southern and with a country spread in front of me…i grabbed my ice tea instead. i knew it wouldn’t be long. i never imagined the depth of this ongoing depression…but it has sure bred strange bedfellows for the loss of fluff in those mattresses.

        1. Carolinian

          You inspired me to do a little research.

          Sounds like the Georgia project is run by a state agency, not private parties. The toll from the suburbs to downtown can be as much as $8 during peak rush hour. The advocates claim the toll is not about making money since it doesn’t even cover the cost of running the system. Rather the thinking seems to be that it will cut down on congestion by making the freeway so congested nobody will want to use it. Or something. Future lanes will be newly built with public money (not old HOV lanes) but still charge a toll. Call it congestion pricing.

          Of course Atlanta’s traffic is notoriously horrible. For those not in the know, this stretch of highway is, or once was, the highest traffic count piece of freeway in the entire US. Still this does seem like a particularly libertarian (in the bad sense) idea. No wonder that Reason guy in links is seeing red–the public not on board with his beautiful dream.

  10. Ulysses

    Pithy moment of clarity from the Angry Bear: : “sufficient Effective Demand depends upon labor receiving a larger share of national production than they currently receive. No one is going to just give it to them. Labor will have to fight for it.” – See more at:

  11. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    RE: “Neocon” and “Neoliberal”

    I had never heard of a ‘neocon” until Bushco was in power.

    Similarly, I had never heard of a ‘neoliberal’ until Obama was in power.

    I am not a politically unaware person, and I never have been.

    From what I’m able to ascertain, by placing these words in the context of what I’m observing, is that they can only be correctly defined as ‘political philosophies which promote criminality and self-enrichment, under the color of law.’

    So how do these weasel-words come to be thrown around so easily, and so fluently — as if we had been using them all of our lives?

  12. ambrit

    Reading my local paper this morning I stumbled upon a pithy quote referring to the north Mississippi House race. The two term incumbent, Republican Representative Nunnelee, is recovering from having a tumor removed from his brain, and a stroke during the surgery. Sorry for him, but, the best the Democrats have come up with is a questionable candidate named Dickey. Dickey has been portrayed as a flakey fringe candidate. The man and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2010. The Libertarian candidate isn’t even mentioned in the article. So far, business as usual for Mississippi politics.
    Then comes what for me is the money quote. Rickey Cole, Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party has urged Dickey to remove himself from the race. “You can either be a full-time candidate, or you can have a full time job, but you can’t really do both.” There you have it. Why America doesn’t work.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s a very old idea of mine: Professional citizens to protect ourselves against professional politicians.

        Getting paid for exercising civic-duty.

        1. amateur citizens are no match against professional politicians
        2. a good way to get money to the people and stimulate the economy*
        3. It encourages citizens to take civic-duty seriously.
        4. It makes civic-ship valuable, attested by a specific monetary value given so no one is confused.
        5. It recognized the reality of the 21st century – a time-demanding complex world we live in

        *Instead of government spending trickling down, the people receive money from the central bank for, as an example, showing up to vote. This encourages turn-out and pumps money into the economy. It’s not ‘do-nothing, you don’t deserve it’ money. And it’s not ‘cutting more trees to grow the GDP’ money either. This is green (zero direct-carbon-footprint) money and is ‘good for the nation’ money. And it’s money on equal basis…the same amount of money for each person.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Smart skin.

    What is really smart about your skin is that it does all that calculation without your knowing anything about (until now, that is).

    And that brings up another question: What else is your skin doing that you are completely clueless about?

    What about your nails? Are they doing something they are not telling you?

    This brings us to the urgent task at hand (hopefully, you have at least your hands under your control): Get a hold of yourself. Implement ‘Total Awareness’ of your own body. That means 24/7 non-stop surveillance. Why? You are accountable for all your body parts, that’s why.

      1. abynormal

        o m g psychoH, im mortified…at least some of the comments are funnee: “I thought Father Time was f***ing WITH my face; only to discover that mites are f***ing ON my face. Not sure which is worse.”

  14. vidimi×868
    Simply brilliant article by George monbiot on Scottish independence. A must read for any scot thinking of voting.
    Apologies if it’s been posted already – only have a few hours of connected time on my phone each day now

  15. participant-observer-observed

    Let’s see how long it takes Wall Street to decide the scrutinized attention drawn to itself by Eric Cantor + cronies is worth the his market capitalization.

    And Cantor’s expertise in finance is….???? You get what you pay for!

    Note to self: keep an eye on the VA public employees pension funds!

Comments are closed.