Links 11/3/14

Why Your Cat Thinks You’re a Huge, Unpredictable Ape Wired

That Devil on Your Shoulder Likes to Sleep In New York Times

Toddlers copy their peers to fit in, but apes don’t Science Daily

We Are All Confident Idiots Pacific Standard (Fresno Dan).

The Pierre Omidyar Insurgency New York Magazine. The money quote:

Temple says there is no incongruity between Omidyar’s communitarian ideals and his financing of an insurgency. “It’s not all about civility,” Temple says. “It’s about having a healthy and open society.” There’s a tangible insight buried in that amorphous sentiment: Omidyar’s interest in journalism is mechanistic. He wants to aggregate to himself the power to declassify and to bring about the “greater good,” as he defines it.

Spacecraft’s Rocket Motor Landed Intact, NTSB Chief Says Bloomberg

Greenberg May Be Called to Testify at AIG Trial WSJ

Central bankers are caught in their own trap FT

Evaluation of quantitative easing Econbrowser

A Dialogue on Secular Stagnation: The Honest Broker for the Week of October 24, 2014 Brad DeLong

European growth as elusive as quicksilver Reuters

China Factory Gauge Rises as Global Recovery Buoys Manufacturing  Bloomberg (Nov 2, 2014 8:45 PM ET).

China Services Gauge Joins Manufacturing in Showing Slowdown  Bloomberg (Nov 2, 2014 9:43 PM ET).

Hedge funds pursue alternative lending FT

The New Loan Sharks Jacobin

Son of Enron? Foreign Affairs. Alibaba’s risky corporate structure.

Sotheby’s Shares Look Like Collectibles Barron’s

Banker Charged in Hong Kong Murder Probe WSJ


Assad’s Syria Truncated, Battered — but Defiant ABC

Nusra Front sweeps aside U.S.-backed rebels Daily Star

Both PKK, ISIL are dangerous, Turks say Hurriyet Daily News

Kurds fighting to secure resource-rich Iraq city from ISIS hold Haaretz

Who’s Tripping up the Designs of the Global Corporatocracy? Wolf Street

Consumers wasted at least $300 million paying for AT&T’s ‘unlimited’ data WaPo. Not “AT&T steals….”?

This Is What Happens When You Criticize Teach for America The Nation (furzy mouse).

The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster Pro Publica

Data collection is creepy, even when its mainly data hoarding Slacktivist

MPs to escape expenses investigations after paperwork destroyed by Parliament Daily Telegraph

US midterm elections – the Guardian briefing Guardian

One Day in an Elevator With Obama, Then Out of a Job New York Times. Reverse Midas touch.

Paris riots escalate over death of young activist Irish Independent

Burkina Faso’s uprising part of an ongoing wave of African protests WaPo

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox speaks out Portland Press-Herald

Journalism, Independent and Not New York Times

Why scientists are (almost) certain that climate change is man-made  Economist

Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans? The New Yorker

Social knowledge at the micro level Understanding Society

American Machiavelli American Conservative (CL)

Soak the Rich The Baffler. Colloquy between Graeber and Piketty.

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. Ned Ludd

    The “future of journalism”:

    During last year’s Clinton Global Initiative, Omidyar summoned NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen to his suite at the Hilton to discuss surveillance, whistleblower prosecutions, and the future of journalism. Rosen later became a formal adviser to what would be called First Look Media, espousing what he calls the “personal franchise model” of building a new-media brand: buying up stars with portable readerships. […]

    Greenwald says that he and Omidyar plan to finally meet later this month, when they will appear at a very different sort of gathering: an invite-only event called Newsgeist, co-sponsored by Google and the Knight Foundation. Billed as an “unconference,” it has no agenda other than “reimagining the future of the news.” Greenwald told me “top editors, executives, moguls, and founders” are expected to attend, including Dean Baquet of the New York Times.

    Cryptome had a post, in August, about “First Look Productions-The Intercept Swank Penthouse”. When it comes to money and status, journalists are as ethical as politicians.

    1. Banger

      Making sweeping statements of the corruption of journalists and politicians is easy since, as is becoming increasingly obvious all institutions have become or are on the road to becomming corrupt and that is because we live at a time when things are generally breaking down since our institutions and our intellectual frameworks are obsolete. We survive on inertia and the ability of human beings to adapt–meanwhile here we are.

      My problem with the criticism of Omydiar is that here’s a guy who is trying to support a movement towards transparency and he has a realistic plan to do that. He is not alone of course. It takes people from all walks of life in the intellectual class, communities, citizens of all kinds and people with real power. Billionaires, whether you like it or not have real power. The “democratic” moment is, in the main, gone at least in the United States. We live in an imperial reality today–not rule-of-law, not under the Constitution. We live in a system where the powerful rule and while any public always has some power that power is at a low-ebb as the institutions that guaranteed and enforced that little bit of power have been shot out from under us.

      If you want to influence the public you have to join with the powerful and find your friends there where you can. Do you think you can make a movie, stage a play or write a clever TV series without the money people? Or without the fixers who “arrange” things by whatever means are necessary in sometimes chaotic conditions? This idea that pure-minded journos or activists can go out and hope the public will rise up because they are now armed by the truth is garbage. The public does not want the truth as can be seen from people in my state voting for a Republican yahoo simply because they are afraid that an African American will take away their guns. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing at all–but that’s how many white people where I live think or to put it anothe way–they don’t f-cking have a clue what thinking is they live on the basis of mythology and use their brains to deal with the immediate issue in front of them. High-minded reporting means nothing. It may mean “something” if it can click into the world of show-biz that is, frankly, where our culture hangs out. In short, if it can be marketed as something fashionable that has some power behind it the average person will take it seriously. No amount of exposes, by themselves will do anything at all at this point in history. Gary Webb, for example, was almost completely correct yet he had every politician and every MSM outlet going after him hammer and thongs–they destroyed his life for telling the truth. The same characters tried to destroy Oliver Stone after he made JFK–why wasn’t he destroyed? Because he had the resources and he knew how the ruling class worked and made his accommodations to them–and he is, BTW, unrepentant about JFK and is still active in exposing the fraud of the official view of that and other assassinations.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Billionaires, whether you like it or not have real power.

        I want to remove power from billionaires. I believe billionaires are generally smart enough about their own interests to never ally with anyone who desired to strip them of their power.

        If Greenwald, Poitras, Scahill, et al. started a media venture bankrolled by organized crime, would you take a wait & see approach? I am sure there are some violent members of criminal enterprises who are interested in defending civil liberties from an ever-expanding state apparatus.

        Why is taking money from a billionaire less corrupting than being funded by organized crime? People die, people are impoverished, and power is concentrated.

        In many regions, Omidyar Network investments have helped fund programs that create worsening conditions for the world’s underclass, widening inequalities, enhancing exploitation, pushing millions of people into crippling debt and supporting anti-poverty programs that, in some cases, resulted in mass-suicide by the rural poor.

        Killing and exploiting people legally. There is no moral distinction from a violent gangster; the only difference is the imprimatur of the state for the exploitive activities.

        1. vidimi

          my main problem with this line of thinking is that it’s not consistently applied it elsewhere.

          how come pando gets a pass when it is owned by the at-least-as-objectionable peter thiel and marc andreessen?

          where were the aspersions on mark ames et al when pando fired those two reporters for wanting to publish the name of the former CIA station chief who was outed by the white house?

          the vitriol against greenwald, scahill, poitras et al is ridiculous because it’s not the act of prostitution that seems to bother “liberals”, for clearly prostitution is fine if it’s cheap.

          1. Ned Ludd

            I can walk and chew gum at the same time:

            Ted Rall didn’t agree. He was going to publish the name, at the news site Pando.

            “There is no longer a ‘we.’ Pando fired me over the weekend, along with the investigative journalist David Sirota.”

            This is what happens to your press job when you don’t follow government orders.

            I welcome more criticism of Pando; you would seem to prefer less (or no) criticism of First Look Media.

        2. Banger

          The idea that all billionaires are exactly the same is ludicrous. As for organized crime, I happen to have some experience with that milieu and some of the people were nice guys some not so nice like any other business. It depends on who you know, who you hang with. People who play the power game have to be prepared to get very rough. To imagine anything else is silly. We live in a Machiavellian world–do you have some other conceivable course of action? There is no great social movement around and unlikely to be anytime soon–your alternative?

          1. Ned Ludd

            When there are steep differences in power between people, there will be abuse, corruption, exploitation, and death.

            The idea that all billionaires are exactly the same is ludicrous.

            There is one way, though, that they are the same.

            People who play the power game have to be prepared to get very rough.

            Power corrupts, and hierarchical systems select for immoral opportunists who are “prepared to get very rough”. How do we solve this problem? Gosh, I don’t know, the problem has only been around for millenia.

            I will let you know if I come up with a solution this afternoon. Until the solution is at hand, do you think everyone should stay silent on the corrupting influence that money has on the media?

            1. psychohistorian

              I have the solution that will not likely ever be implemented.

              Neuter inheritance so that none can ever accumulate enough to effect social policy. That change would also engender a massive resetting of cultural incentives away from the Gawd of Mammon religion the Western world currently adheres to.

              The opinion by some commenters here that some little tweaks are all that are needed to our form of social organization and it will be well is delusional.

      2. JEHR

        Remember that saying about power and corruption and absolute corruption? It comes to mind that money, too, corrupts because of the power it bestows. I have a hard time envisioning a billionaire being interested in righting the wrongs brought on by the inequality represented by money, including what he has. Once a person becomes a billionaire he enters another “class” and it is difficult for others to see him whether with transparency or not and it is just as difficult for him to see the “nether classes.” I am surprised that journalists have fallen for the claptrap of billionaires trying to right wrongs that they themselves exemplify.

        1. Ned Ludd

          Arun Gupta, who wrote for Salon and now writes for AlterNet, had a discussion with Tim Shorrock that illuminates how “journalists have fallen for the claptrap of billionaires”.

          Tim Shorrock: If you denounced someone as a war criminal, wouldn’t you be concerned about working for someone who gave money to him?

          Arun Gupta: Did Jeremy [Scahill] know that? We don’t know. Speaking for myself, even if I had known, the opportunity was/is too tempting.

          Arun Gupta: Let me put it this way: I know for fact many scores of well-known left journos tried to get a job there.

          Tim Shorrock: which is exactly why there’s been so little reporting and critical analysis about them from left journalists.

          Not only has there been a lack of critical reporting on First Look Media (outside of Pando); there is a hands-off attitude towards any story critical of Pierre Omidyar. This is what he buys by being a media mogul.

          Mark Ames: I’ve never had a harder time getting a story pushed out—into “independent”/”left” media—than my critical coverage of Omidyar. Ever.

        2. Banger

          Well, that’s all very nice but you either deal with the powerful or you become a contemplative–a perfectly rational thing in my view. But if you want to engage in politics you deal with power and create a network of alliances with those that have power and can make stuff happen. There’s no other choice at this point. Look around you!

          1. OIFVet

            ” you either deal with the powerful or you become a contemplative”: false choice. “There’s no other choice at this point.”: TINA!? I thought you were giving the recipe for change, not the way to further entrench the corrupt status quo. And as for your post above, I would love to hear how a few individual billionaire exceptions absolves the entire billionaire class to the point where we can work with them. Make no mistake, they rule as a class, not as individuals. The BS about “individuals” is only a propaganda for the consumption of the neo-serfs to keep them weak. Disappointing comment, to be honest.

            1. wbgonne

              I think we will get better billionaires when billionaires are despised as a class. Gluttons should be uncomfortable.

          2. Ned Ludd

            How can someone deal with the powerful and “make stuff happen,” if the stuff you want to happen is to rid society of the power that results in violence, imperialism, and the exploitation of workers?

            Let’s work with the mob to get rid of organized crime.

            Where have all the anti-capitalist billionaires gone?

          3. Andrew Watts

            People forget that the House of Morgan ruled Washington DC and was challenged by the New Dealers and their allies among the Jewish investment banks. It sounds crazy to most people but Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers were apart of the New Deal coalition. Looking for allies among the nascent elite while rising to challenge the status quo is a worthwhile venture. Though even under the best of circumstances it’s an alliance of convenience that will only last as long as it can.

            The controversy surrounding Omidyar is more complicated than anybody realizes. I’m generally okay with this situation because Omidyar appears to be affiliated with the CIA. We have zero chance of taking away the funding the NSA and it’s profiteering contractors receive for violating ordinary people’s privacy. On the other hand the CIA… well, that’s a horse of a different color.

            It’s probably a good thing the CIA is smarting from the post-9/11 intelligence reforms and being relegated to second fiddle behind the NSA. A very good thing indeed.

    2. Jess

      If I read the Intercept piece about Taibbi leaving correctly, Greenwald, Poitras, Schahill, and a couple of others claimed that they had incurred a combined total of over $1 mil in personal legal fees over the past couple of years, with more money spent on lawyers by their former employers. This makes me wonder: how much do these folks get paid? How much money is there in making documentaries like Poitras does? (Wish I could just up and de-camp to Berlin to live and edit my movie. Most of the folks I know would have a hard time putting together the necessary first and last month’s rent, security deposit, etc., needed to lease a new apartment.)

      What kind of salaries were these folks pulling down before they joined First Look? When Greenwald finally returned to the U.S., weren’t lawyers from the ACLU standing by to help if he was detained? In general, what are the financial realities of true progressive journalism?

  2. rjs

    solving this riddle:
    China Factory Gauge Rises as Global Recovery Buoys Manufacturing Bloomberg (Nov 2, 2014 8:45 PM ET).
    China Services Gauge Joins Manufacturing in Showing Slowdown Bloomberg (Nov 2, 2014 9:43 PM ET).
    the first references the Markit / HSBC PMI, a private survey; the second is the government’s own NMI (non-manufacturing index)…the government’s official manufacturing PMI, correspondng to their services gauge, was at a 5 month low…

    whatever, there are a host of good reasons to take any diffusion index with a pile of salt, anyway…

  3. diptherio

    Re: Confident Idiots

    I wonder if there have been any cross-cultural studies of this phenomenon. I seem to recall reading once about a particular ethnic group (Asian? African? can’t remember) wherein people generally refused to talk about things they had no direct knowledge of. I wonder if there isn’t something about our USian culture that encourages this sort of un-informed holding forth.

    I once got so annoyed listening to a housemate pontificating on some topic that I said, “This is {name}. If you need to know anything, just ask him. Even if he knows nothing about it, he’ll be more than happy to explain it to you.” To his credit, he chuckled at that…and went right on pontificating.

    1. susan the other

      Caught a glimpse of a scientist commenting on dualism in thought. That habit most of us have of combining what we believe with what we learn as facts, more or less. The prime example is the irrational consensus of creationism and evolution into a combination theory.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More a modern day thing.

      Rubes, Luddites and Neanderthals say what they think.

      Sophisticated people say what they think others expect them to say.

      Before the invention of camera, people just looked into the lens.

      When they became aware that the lens would capture their likeness, the next time they stared into the lens, they had to make a pose.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I always appreciated the fellow student in a class who would ask the most ‘idiotic’ questions that others were too lazy/smart to ask.

      Or on the comments section of any blog.

      Socrates was the smartest person because he always said, ‘I don’t know,’ and asked a bunch of ‘stupid question.’

      Perhaps, it’s gender related.

      I see a lot more female posters making ‘+,’ ‘+1000,’ or ‘I agree’ comments, whereas male posters (I am assuming here) tend to post statements than asking questions.

      Going back to the original article, I suspect it’s more common with hip, urban youths than say, unsophisticated Third World old coots who the media always report making shocking, medieval claims.

      And so, discrimination doesn’t go away but people have learned to say and act differently in public.

      So, perhaps that inability to be honest with oneself is more about state repression without addressing root cause.

      The problem would be easier if it can be seen out in the open. We have to design ways to get it voiced freely in the open, in order to address it.

      1. Paul Niemi

        Socrates said: I know that I don’t know, but you don’t know that you don’t know, therefore I know more than you.

  4. Carolinian

    The big Omidyar story turns out to be more wet kiss than eyepopping expose. I’m sure many around here will be disappointed (and why, exactly?). Could the internecine tussle surrounding Greenwald and Snowden and Omidyar be part of that fragmentation discussed elsewhere today in NC?

    1. Banger

      It is nonsense. People here don’t like Omydiar because he represents something (billionaires) and don’t like Greenwald because he isn’t leftist true blue etc. One of the reasons the left in the U.S. is moribund politially is because it doesn’t understand, on the whole, the nature of politics. Politics involves power and the ability to help your friends (then they’ll stick with you), punish your enemies and make alliances. If you want to engage in the game of power you get into the arena and you don’t get into the arena, particularly in this era, without help from very powerful and rich people–end of story folks. Leftists who are too pure to hang with the money people are out in the cold and will continue to have no power. And by that I don’t mean to follow the example of the Democratic Party which has no interest in leftist politics other than manipulate leftist marks like Lucy and her football. No, I mean having a willingness to engage in political fights by making alliances with powerful people without losing your objectives–and yes, making compromises, playing a eyes-wide-open strategy to get “somewhere” and not flounder in the leftist ghettos which are ever so comfortable.

      1. Massinissa

        But how do we tell the difference between millionaires we can ally with and ones that will betray us?

        1. Banger

          By not thinking categorically. What are the motivations here? Look deeper. One thing that is a result of the fragmentation I write about elsewhere is that we are intellectually very weak–all of us, myself not excepted. We need to dig deeper into everything not just politics but life. When we do that our ability to evaluate the quality of a human being increases–we start not thinking just in categories (billionaires, millionaires, and all the racial, ethnic and social stereotypes) and start seeing individuals who, yes, are a part of whatever tribe they are from (or like me none) and evaluate the way the write, the way they talk, the way they look, they way they move, and if you’re close to them, their smell. Once people made judgments on the basis of “gut feeling” I believe that sort of intuitive take on someone is very important. Not that we can’t be fooled–but that we hone that skill and learn to trust it.

          Of course, from a distance that is hard to do. But, I knew immediately that Obama was a fraud when I saw his first interview. He was blowing smoke–and I’ve gradually learned to trust that feeling as time has passed in part because ignoring my intuition has caused me great harm.

          1. OIFVet

            Evaluating people as individuals is fine and well, the problem is that I don’t think that billionaires can be trusted as a class (or a group, for those who object to ‘class’ as divisive or controversial). Much as we have been conditioned to think of ourselves as individuals, we remain very much tribal beings, and the group dynamics of the ‘Masters’ of the Universe class are not giving me any reason to think that we can come out better off by compromising with them. We have compromised time and again, and here we are. Sorry Banger but I am not buying it.

            1. Banger

              So then you are content to ignore the problems of the day–because unless you deal directly with power there is no hope for any change. No one is listening to left-wing ideas–they are irrelevant in today’s society largely because leftist refuse to understand the nature of political power and where power originates from. It could originate from communities as it did with the Labor and Civil Rights movements but communities are, largely, fragmented or gone. What then? Form communities when most people lack the ability or desire to live communally? When the whole focus of the culture is narcissism? What is your alternative?

              1. OIFVet

                We already tried the hope and change guy who would work with everyone, didn’t we? How did that turn out? Leftist ideas are ignored because there are billions spent every year by these same billionaires you propose to work within on MSM and think tank propaganda to brainwash people into rejecting these ideas. Yet even so, the majority of the population still wants their socialist SS and prefers some sort of single payer system. For all the talk of fragmentation, what I see is the concentration of poverty and serfs into what Hedges called ‘sacrifice zones’. Far from display of power, I view the elites attempts to fragment us and to brainwash us as a sign of weakness. They took too much too fast, and the smarter amongst them know it. So what do I propose to do? Not much except refusal to participate in their system, thereby stripping it of its illusory “legitimacy”. To a large extent the elites are already enabling that anyway by making it unaffordable for many to participate anyway. Perverse as it may sound, the more they accelerate the process, the better.

                1. Carolinian

                  Bernie Sanders was on Moyers last friday and his answer to what’s wrong with America seemed to boil down to “billionaires.” I agree with Banger. Stereotypes are pernicious. Why don’t we all judge First Look by what comes out of it rather than condemning beforehand. After all it took a “class traitor” to give us the New Deal. If you want to seek for purity then perhaps we in the middle class left should consider our own failings. Omidyar supported Obama, but then so did a lot of people.

                  1. OIFVet

                    How was FDR a “class traitor”? All he did is convince his class to make some concessions in return for saving their skins. And these concessions are decidedly being taken back by that class. Where exactly do you see room for accommodations with these people?

                    1. Carolinian

                      “Class traitor” is what his fellow rich people called him, not me. And yes–their skins being saved–those rich have been trying to roll back the clock ever since. But the New Deal has certainly not been repealed, at least not for those of us getting up there.

                      Of course I’m not suggesting Omidyar is FDR, just that his having a lot of money–which he came by as a lucky internet pioneer–doesn’t necessarily make him evil. The heavy breathing on this topic from Ames and others is over the top.

                    2. OIFVet

                      Well, today the children and grandchildren of those who called FDR a “class traitor” are calling Obama a “socialist”. It was ridiculous then and it is ridiculous now. And yes, you still have SS but notice how the alleged “socialist” elected with billionaire cash came within a whisker of giving it all away in his Grand Bargain. Only the inability of the Tea Party to say yes saved it for you. To me, that illustrates that today there is even less, nay, nothing to gain by cooperating with the billionaire vampire squid class. Absolutely nothing. I am incredulous that people who condemn Obama’s hopey-changey cool aide nonetheless advocate working with his masters. How will that be different this time around? Sorry but I’ve had it with fake bipartisanship that serves the same masters as always. Power concedes nothing without a demand, to quote Douglass.

                  2. Ned Ludd

                    Billionaire is a “stereotype”? Who will think of the poor, victimized billionaires?

                    Being a billionaire is the same, morally, as leading an organized crime syndicate. You profit by death and exploitation. The only difference is that you place friends in the government to make sure it is all legal!

                    So then you are content to ignore the problems of the day…

                    Billionaires are the problems of the day.

                    1. Antifa

                      Exactly right. The only tiger it is safe to keep in my house is the one that has had its teeth and claws removed. Similarly, the only billionaire safe to keep around is the one whose billion has been removed by a wealth tax that redistributues it to those whom it was extracted from.

                2. Banger

                  Obama is not and was not a leftist and that would have been clear had people been more closely analyzing what he said on the campaign trail–even the obvious lies. There was no and is no democratic wing of the DP and hasn’t been for decades with a few individual exceptions. The DP is an utterly corrupt corporations that lives on brokering deals between powerful interests and has no interest in anything else as far as I can tell. There was a time when this was not always so.

                  1. OIFVet

                    I agree with this assessment Banger. What I still can’t understand is how will the left work with the same corrupting billionaire class and not go down the same road as the Democrat Party. What will be different this time?

                  2. James Levy

                    But what makes you think that Omydar is a Leftist? Why should I believe in him? What has he done, materially and concretely, in his life, to convince me that he is not a self-serving billionaire out to coopt and exploit and not to help anyone but himself?

                    1. Banger

                      Actually I don’t know and don’t much care about his label. He is a force fighting against the authoritarian National Security State which is far more noxious that most billionaires. That’s why I support Libertarians–or at least real ones who are anti-authoritarian even if I don’t agree with them on other issues. We need allies not more enemies–I prefer to hang with libertarians than cops and feds–I’ve seen them in action.

                    2. OIFVet

                      Fighting the national security state, while corporations under his control cooperate with it. I guess the end goal is a stateless corporate security world, or at least a corporate security state. I take your point about cooperating with libertarians on this issue, but all the so-called “libertarians” in Silicon Valley have a funny way of engaging in intrusive surveillance of their customers and cooperating with the national security state in one way or another. Dollars over principles…

                    3. Ned Ludd

                      In many regions, Omidyar Network investments have helped fund programs that create worsening conditions for the world’s underclass, widening inequalities, enhancing exploitation, pushing millions of people into crippling debt and supporting anti-poverty programs that, in some cases, resulted in mass-suicide by the rural poor. […]

                      In 2012, it emerged that while the SKS IPO was making millions for its wealthy investors [such as the Omidyar Network], hundreds of heavily indebted residents of India’s Andhra Pradesh state were driven to despair and suicide by the company’s cruel and aggressive debt-collection practices.

                      The Extraordinary Pierre Omidyar

              2. OIFVet

                And FWIW, it was the elites idea to buy out the Dems and the Dems’ decision to “cooperate” with the elites that discredited the “left”. Having a wholly owned subsidiary of the billionaires masquerading as a ” leftist” party convinced the ignorant that the “leftist” ideas don’t work and alienated those who know what is going on by revealing just how corrupting this system really is. What makes you think that it will be different next time we bend over for the billionaires?

                1. Ned Ludd

                  Elites would never think to buy out leftist media and pay off liberal journalists. A billionaire would never set up a wholly-owned media venture masquerading as adversarial journalism in order to frame and manipulate opinion on the left so the fundamental problems of capitalism and imperialism are never addressed.

                2. Jim

                  In the absence, thus far, of our collective failure to initiate significant political mobilization, those of us interested in structural change, are simply one small segment of a vastly increasing body of powerless Big Capital, Big Bank and Big State dependent citizens.

                  Big capital has robbed us of productive property but it has supplied us with plenty of stuff and plenty of ideological apologists on the Right

                  Big State has robbed us democratic participation and privacy but it has supplied us with lots of fiat currency and plenty of ideological apologists on the Left.

                  Without a different set of cultural/ political/economic/ ideas that are, in turn, capable of mobilizing our highly individualistic populace we will never have the political leverage necessary to negotiate successfully with any potentially sympathetic billionaires.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        What if your aim is to have a society where no one is able to amass so much power for themselves? Looking to the powerful in the hope of finding the powerful person who has been waiting to give it all up if only someone came along and asked nicely doesn’t seem to be the way to go.

        Cincinnatus hasn’t been around for 2500 years. If powerful people were prone to following his example, we wouldn’t remember Cincinnatus at all – we only do because he was unique.

      3. Yves Smith

        This is a straw man and I find your line utterly offensive. I’ve had billionaires as clients and I have nothing against billionaires per se. Do you actually know any personally?

        I am offended by the actions of many billionaires as individuals, just as I am offended by the actions of many other people in power, like Eric Holder. And I am offended by Omidyar. I don’t care much about personality, which is something Americans obsess over. I care about actions and results.

        Greenwald was cranking out 1-3 stories on the Snowden trove when he was at the Guardian. The releases were getting policy impact.

        Greenwald goes over to Omidyar and the articles that come out of the Snowden archive drop to nada. Even now that the Intercept is publishing sort of regularly, virtually none of the stories come out of the Snowden archive. So it sure looks like Omidyar has succeeded in stymieing their release. And that’s not just our view. Cryptome has also been demanding the release of the documents.

        Another issue with the set-up at the Intercept is no one on the editorial team is a tech expert. There may be stuff in the NSA documents that is extremely significant from a tech perspective that Greenwald and Poitras may not recognize their importance.

    2. KMSM

      The Omidyar piece in NYMag doesn’t strike me as a wet kiss but more of a peck on the cheek. It seems to paint Omidyar as a “he means well but he’s kooky” Howard-Hughes-type billionaire. The article references Omidyar’s tattooed black man avatar named Kitto Mandala that he created for himself in an online community. This tidbit seems kooky-weird-hilarious in a cute, juvenile way:

      Even after Omidyar became a Linden Lab investor, Rosedale primarily interacted with his animated avatar. Mandala rode a Segway and wore a T-shirt that said KISS ME I’M LAWFUL EVIL.

      The article seems to say, hey, just give Omidyar a pass since he’s a likable-unlikable kooky eccentric paranoid reclusive rich powerful guy who means well. He’s Richie Rich, the poor little rich kid, and Howard Hughes all rolled into one. Not a wet kiss but not a hit piece either.

    3. EmilianoZ

      That was a most disappointing article. It could have been written by Omidyar’s PR department with only minor changes by the journalist. I guess the head honchos at NYmag knew they had nothing to gain from angering a multi-billionaire.

      Meanwhile the pied piper can continue to lure journalists to his neverland of a media empire. Snowden’s documents seem to have been pretty much sterilized there. I can’t remember anything of note being published after Greenwald went there.

  5. abynormal

    the profiteering of education reform IS the financial blackhole in the GA Cheating Teacher’s Scandal. we’ve flourished from Rhee: “If someone told you as a business, that if you removed the bottom 6 percent of your performers, that you would move from 25th in the market to top-5, you would do it in a heartbeat. You would not even think twice about it. But we have an incredibly hard time in this country. We like teachers. It is an incredibly noble position in this country. But we have to look at the reality.”
    …and continue with Duncan: “High-performing, effective teachers—especially those who put their talent, skill and experience to work in schools and districts most in need of improvement—should be appropriately recognized and rewarded.”

    i look forward to the payoff: Beverly Hall’s BONUS for 2009 was ONLY $87,000 but for some strange reason GA children trade books for guns

    Every hour, federal taxpayers in United States pay
    $7.81 million toward Education in 2014.

    “And just because you have colleges and universities doesn’t mean you have education.”

  6. Brucie Bruce

    Why your cat thinks you’re a big unpredictable ape?

    Because cats have insight. Turns out that’s exactly what we are!

    1. abynormal

      betchya dont know my middle name… abyKoKonormal… mo kittens please ‘)

      You’re captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live. … You are captives—and you have made a captive of the world itself. That’s what’s at stake, isn’t it?—your captivity and the captivity of the world. —There is a difference between the inmates of your criminal prisons and the inmates of your cultural prison: The former understand that the distribution of wealth and power inside the prison had nothing to do with justice. Ishmael

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are you a big, unpredictable ape?

      This is proof how hard it is for a cat to get reliable human servants.

      (Please don’t kill this messenger. I am just relaying what my cat said).

      1. optimader

        Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions is a 2008 book by Dan Ariely, in which he challenges readers’ assumptions about making decisions based on rational thought. Ariely explains, “My goal, by the end of this book, is to help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick. I hope to lead you there by presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are in many cases quite amusing. Once you see how systematic certain mistakes are–how we repeat them again and again–…..

    3. Garrett Pace

      When we pet cats with our hands we mimic the sensation of their grooming behavior. So we are big unpredictable apes with two giant tongues attached to our arms.

      1. optimader

        Cats allow the attendants to mark themselves w/ their scent … until they become unbearably annoying. At which point it is then appropriate to take a swinging scratch at the attendant, then the go take a drink out of the attendants glass followed by a nice claw tendon stretch on the furniture.

  7. Banger

    Tomorrow we have some elections and, it seems, even the circus called the MSM seems to have little interest. Whatever the results progressive ideas and leftist politics continues to be in decline and “conservative” politics on the rise–maybe because both major parties are conservative. The Democrats seek to conserve society as it is–19th century education, 18th century government, neoliberal ideology fixed in amber, contradictory policies in foreign affairs and so on–no change, no real reform only trying to preserve a few things, abortion rights, social security/medicare, some semblance of a non-military federal presence in the halls of power. The Republicans mainly want to preserve great wealth and go through the motions of appeasing social reactionaries and evangelical Christians and gun fetishists. Both policies more or less “work” and build brilliant careers and I get no sense that anything means much to these politicians who always speak in platitudes and never say what they mean. They’ve fooled people for decades and “the people” never tire of the bullshit.

    In the mess these people are making and will make we have the task of making a life for ourselves and our families. The only way out of this Sloughs of Desponds is to make connections, don’t support the system and make it 100% clear in your mind that it is, morally and legally illegitimate and let that lead you to whatever inspires you.

  8. DJG

    The article in the American Conservative by Daniel McCarthy, American Machiavelli, contains many insights. As leftist, I find his thinking refreshing, given the swamp that passes for thinking among Democrats, Republicans, so-called independents, and much of our oh-so-daring intelligentsia:
    >>What has happened in America since the end of the Cold War, however, is that competition for popular favor has been reduced to a propaganda exercise—employing myths, symbols, and other “derivatives”—disconnected from policies of material interest to the ruling class. Thus monetary policy, foreign policy, and positions on trade and immigration vary little between Republican and Democratic presidents. This is a terrible situation—if you’re not part of the elite. If you are, all the gridlock and venom of our politics is simply irrelevant to the bottom line. For the non-elite, however, insecurity of all kinds continues to rise, as does a sense that the country is being sold out from under you.

    America’s ruling class has bought itself time—for continuing capitalism in an age of worldwide managerial revolution—at the expense of America’s middle and working classes. Reform, alas, will not come from “throw the bums out” populism of either the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street varieties. It can only come from two directions: the best of the people must grow conscious of how oligarchy operates and why populist leadership is a paradox, and new factions among the elite must be willing to open competition on more serious fronts—campaigning not only on myths and formulas but on the very substance of the managerial revolution.>>

    Which fits in with Masaccio’s essay just posted about how various social myths obscure the economic machinations.

    1. Banger

      The great part of the essay (and I recommend reading AC regularly) is that McCarthy encourages people to understand politics AS IT IS. The great tragedy of the American Left is that it still believes politics is about competing sermons–that might be a nice fantasy but that isn’t how politics actually works! Any political view or attempt to engage in struggle that doesn’t understand Machiavelli and the reality of the fact that powerful people use Machiavellian techniques and a multitude of more sophisticated techniques that would make Machiavelli faint is doomed to failure and we have the proof right in front of us–there is no f-cking left left in America that has any political influence unless it is funded by a billionaire or two.

      1. hunkerdown

        Perhaps this was why Thomas Jefferson said what he did about priest-ridden peoples and freedom.

    2. Paul Niemi

      Daniel McCarthy is wrong. Reform does come from throwing the bums out. And it has nothing to do with Occupy Wall Street or the Tea Party. It comes from, “I don’t care what you do as long as you do something.” Doing something has power, and I’m not going to join the sob sisters chorus lamenting powerlessness and the lack of sympathy shown by the elites or whining the billionaires are not on my side. Throwing the bums out always results in reform, if not in raising new ideas then at least in discrediting finally the old ones. Now, with my ballot in hand, I tilt at the mailbox, bravely delivering the crushing blow of my vote.

        1. Paul Niemi

          I’ve stated that I’ll take rotation of one bum for another, in that it preserves my right to elect the bums by my exercising that right. Rotation, in itself, is a social good.

  9. Garrett Pace

    Paul Carr’s energy for injecting himself into the Taibbi-Omidyar story is unabated:

    If they ever held an a**hole olympics, this is what it would look like.

    Carr’s position is a peculiar one, boldly saying that he’ll out you if you lie to him off the record, then halfway outing Taibbi by calling him a liar, but only revealing Carr’s side of this conversation and NOT THE LIES THEMSELVES.

    1. Yves Smith

      Yes, Carr is really shooting himself in the foot. He has a point, but his vitriol and his obsessive hammering make him completely unsympathetic.

  10. susan the other

    The Baffler. Interesting back and forth between Picketty and Graeber. Graeber says he fully expects debt to be forgiven because the system can simply no longer function; Picketty says it would be a shame because the 1% don’t own any of the debt, they just own all the “real” wealth in the world, so the best solution is to tax them, and besides if debt were suddenly forgiven it would cause extreme chaos. So I read it that Graeber wants fundamental change and Picketty wants to believe in dysfunctional traditions – somewhat like the favorite French fantasy which is that someone discovers they are the illegitimate son or daughter of an old, very rich noble family and they are then legally adopted.

    1. EmilianoZ

      Piketty never explains who holds the debt if not the rich. He says:

      Eliminating debt implies treating the last creditor, the ultimate holder of debt, as the responsible party. But the system of financial transactions as it actually operates allows the most important players to dispose of letters of credit well before debt is forgiven. The ultimate creditor, thanks to the system of intermediaries, may not be especially rich.

      What does he mean? That the rich will sell the debt to others? To the gov’mint? To the Fed?

      1. Vatch

        He might be anticipating a mess such as the sale of supposedly AAA collateralized debt obligations to widows and orphans.

        1. susan the other

          IBGYBG. Indeed. But if the government took over the mess we might be able to hope it will be the last mess.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If he meant pension funds, that ‘others’ would be you and me.

        We will be buying the debt the rich will be unloading before debt is forgiven.

        That’s my guess, seeing the rich can go short as well as long. Here, they can go credit, debt, cash, commodities, real estate, tangible resources, etc.

    2. James Levy

      Here’s my take: they’ll never forgive the debts. Never. One of three things will happen: those in power will use that power effectively to maintain the current distribution of power and debt; they will collapse with the system and the debts will be lost along with much of our modern civilization; a brutal civil war will take place and the debtors will win and forgive all the debts among the ruins of our society. Of course, a fourth “pigs will fly” possibility is that an enlightened elite will renegotiate all debts and reduce them in order to jumpstart the economy and restore the middle class. It could happen. But my money is on one of the first three outcomes mentioned being true.

      1. not_me

        You neglect that an equal, universal distribution of new fiat would allow much debt to be paid down and without disadvantaging non-debtors IF new credit creation was banned during the distribution period to prevent the banks from inflating away much of the fiat’s value as the economy improved.

      2. Ben Johannson

        That’s correct in that your statement complies with the iron law of institutions; the holders of power would rather see the system fail than lose power within the system.

    3. Jim

      The Baffler including its non- profit Baffler Foundation and its recent sponsor over the past three years, MIT Press— have recently parted ways.

      The initial contract between the two entities “…called for the press in invest in the costs of publishing the journal and its distribution and marketing until the break-even point, after which profits would be shared. But circulation had failed to meet even its modest, undisclosed benchmarks.”

      It was estimated that the contested shortfall which the Baffler group supposedly owed MIT press was “in six figures.”

      See The Chronicle of Higher Education Nov. 7 2014 “MIT Press and Cheeky Political Journal Agree to Part Ways,” pg. A13.

  11. trinit river

    I’m a little confused.

    Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans?

    This article implies that every field of academic study must be balanced with people on the right/left continuum. Really. That wasn’t true when I went to B-school. Quite the opposite. A friend of mine complained that a prof. asked the class to raise their hands as to which party they leaned toward. As a Democrat he was a 6%er.

    I may be totally off-base, but I seem to think it relates to how empathetic a person is or is not.

  12. susan the other

    Just a thanks for the turtle antidote today. They are such an ancient species, and in my opinion, they are the most beautiful faces on the planet. So many of them are going extinct. That is why you should notice the sunburst halo above.

  13. fresno dan
    “Such is the dilemma facing central bankers (and supposedly fiscal authorities) in 2014 and beyond: How to create inflation. They’ve made a damn fine attempt at it – have they not? Four trillion dollars in the U.S., two trillion U.S. dollar equivalents in Japan, and a trillion U.S. dollars coming from the ECB’s Draghi in the eurozone. Not working like it used to, the trillions seem to seep through the sandy loam of investment and innovation straight into the cement mixer of the marketplace. Prices go up, but not the right prices. Alibaba’s stock goes from $68 on opening day to $92 in the first minute, but wages simply sit there for years on end. One economy (the financial one) thrives while the other economy (the real one) withers.

    Perhaps sooner rather than later, investors must recognize that modern day inflation, while a necessary condition for survival, is not a sufficient condition for increasing wealth at a rate necessary to satisfy future liabilities associated with education, health care, and a satisfactory retirement. The real economy needs money printing, yes, but money spending more so, and that must come from the fiscal side – from the dreaded government side – where deficits are anathema and balanced budgets are increasingly in vogue. Until then, Grant’s deflation remains a growing possibility – not the kind that creates prosperity but the kind that’s the trouble for prosperity.”

    “One economy (the financial one) thrives while the other economy (the real one) withers.”
    Its all trickle down all the time. If we’re not getting any golden eggs, we’re just not stuffing enough grain down the goose’s gullet….

    1. ChrisPacific

      Not working like it used to, the trillions seem to seep through the sandy loam of investment and innovation straight into the cement mixer of the marketplace.

      Maybe there’s a problem with the plumbing.

    2. TedWa

      When wages are going down as compared to inflation, deflation would be very welcome and preferred to many of the lower 50%.

      Anybody feel like this might be the Roaring 20’s all over again?

    1. Vatch

      Oops, spelling mistake. That should be “Harry Markopolos”, not “Harry Makropoulos”. Perhaps I should be quarantined before my typo fever infects anyone else!

  14. Lisa FOS

    Reading about the Red Cross just strikes me an another example of western decline and our senile elites. We cannot even now make a decent Command and Control system (C&C), or even just maintain an existing one.

    We saw this here in Victoria (Australia for the geographically challenged) when our 2009 bushfires overcame the brand spanking new C&C system. It was a centralised ‘one speed’ system, which as events happened faster than what it was designed for (and there was no ‘option B’ or ‘second gear’ in it) then it fell further and further behind reality. Until orders were being given out to cover events that had happened and finished hours before, not that many could even get the orders….as communication systems failed and/or became overloaded (or the centre receive anything even close to real time data).

    When you think the British were capable of designing and creating a system, without computers, which by 1940 had been perfected to enable real time tactical and strategic control of the Battle of Britain you just have to shake your head. And it was robust and reliable and could still function well even with degradation.

    But we cannot do such a thing anymore, we’ve lost all the skills, you’d struggle to find anyone in the west with even the basic knowledge to design such a C&C system anymore, or even have the theoretical skills just to conceive of one, or any of our elites having any desire to do so. Hence all our current C&C systems are ramshackle, single speed, fragile, ancient and so on, this includes our ‘modern’ internet too.

    Just another example of our decline, as we get more disasters (natural or man made) we will get just get worse and worse at dealing with them.

  15. dearieme

    “One Day in an Elevator With Obama, Then Out of a Job”. Dear God, that’s harsh. Why blame the Poor Bloody Infantry? Shameful.

    1. psychohistorian

      This story is a stark display of how dysfunctional and destructive our world has become. To think that they had to fire the son also, how sick is that?

      I despair for our species. People like Banger write that we need to align our actions with “right minded” billionaires but seems to not understand that it is our built-in sick feed-back loops that are creating these new monied elite.

  16. TedWa

    re : Syraqistan. Where’s Ghaddafi and Hussein to bring order and peace to the ME when you need them? Oh yeah, right.

  17. Roland

    The ABC link is the first North American MSM story which acknowledges that the Syrian gov’t enjoys some popular support, i.e. that there is a bona fide loyalist side in the civil war, and that most of the loyalists are not Alawite but Sunni. This is one of the only articles I have ever seen in Western MSM to state that fact plainly.

    While I welcome the newfound balance in reportage, nevertheless I continue to be alarmed by how blatantly the coverage varies with the changes in attitude of Western Bloc governments. Shortly after Western gov’ts realize that the incumbent Syrian government might still be of use to them, the type of reportage in their media organs undergoes a distinct change.

    I’m not surprised by this, but I still get disgusted by it, even when the change itself is one of which I approve.

    How can anyone in the West stand being a journalist? Why would anyone enter the field?

  18. EmilianoZ

    There was one interesting bit in the Omidyar piece. At some point, he, Page, Brin and some other squillionaires are invited at some NASA camp to “play astronaut for a week”. They all leave, head full of stars, inspired to do great things. NASA is a federal institute, it works on taxpayers money for all Americans. What business does NASA have singling out a few Americans for special treatment? It suspiciously looks like a charm offensive from the gov’ment establishment to coopt some newly rich people. We often talk about the capture of the gov’ment by rich folks. It could go both ways. Pierre and his friends must have felt mightily flattered having dinner with Buzz Aldrin. One could also imagine the same people being offered a special secret visit to the CIA to make them feel the special role they could play in the great American project for the world.

    1. psychohistorian

      It kinda makes you wonder what is in Omidyar’s past that is possibly being used to encourage him to be such a useful tool for American fascism.

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