Links 12/14/14

Major cloud-seeding test gives mixed results Nature

Climate talks struggle into overtime FT

France drifts into deflation as ECB ‘pea-shooter’ falls short Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

I Asked Jeff Bezos About The Tough Questions — No Profits, The Book Controversies, The Phone Flop — And He Showed Why Amazon Is Such A Huge Success Business Insider. The question and answer on profits isn’t part of the transcript; it’s buried in a video following the text “Here’s what happened next”. Naughty Business Insider!

Sony shuts down filming in the wake of hacking attack that has ruined its financial software as well as leaking thousands of embarrassing emails Daily Mail

After years of doubts, Americans turn more bullish on economy Reuters

The American Consumer Calls The Top Automatic Earth

The Federal Reserve’s language lessons Reuters

Symmetric Application of Dynamic Scoring Econbrowser


Senate approves $1.1 trillion spending bill WaPo

Here’s What Democrats Got Out of the Cromnibus Mother Jones. Continuing Resolution Omnibus, not some Beltway joke about cronuts.

The president, the panic, and the cromnibus Politico

In losing Wall Street battle, Warren may gain party clout Boston Globe. “Plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.” But enough?

Warren to banks: We should have ‘broken you into pieces’ The Hill

Just how did banks get that big win in Washington? McClatchy

Bail-In and the Financial Stability Board: The Global Bankers’ Coup Ellen Brown, Truth-out. Why Jamie Dimon, lobbying by Obama’s side without an ankle bracelet, wanted to gut Dodd-Frank’s derivatives provision so very badly.

Torture Report

‘CIA paid me to use airstrip as rendition zone… and to look the other way’: Former airport director reveals secret Polish staging post for U.S. torture programme Daily Mail. The director, in what I believe is a first, confirms “several 737s.” The 737 has a seating capacity of between 85 and 215. See How Many People Did the CIA Process at Its Stare Kiejkuty “Black Site,” and Where Are They Now?

Supreme Court Justice Scalia backs torture of terror suspects saying it’s ‘facile’ and ‘absurd’ to rule out brute force in interrogations Daily Mail. Then again, Scalia thinks Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. So there’s that.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Missouri Prosecutor Releases More Ferguson Grand Jury Evidence Buzzfeed. Including Dorian Johnson transcript. McCulloch: “Clearly, I inadvertently omitted some material.” Uh huh.

Marchers in Washington, New York, Boston protest police killings Reuters. Time lapse video of New York City march.

Voices From the Protests New York Times

NYC Cops Are Blithely Firing A Potentially Deafening Sound Cannon At Peaceful Protesters Gothamist


Jeb Bush sending signals that he may be getting ready for 2016 presidential run WaPo

Harry Reid’s new mission: Blocking ‘crazy stuff’ Politico. Note that trade deals are not “crazy stuff.”

Kochs Seek to Keep Funding Secret Fearing ‘Grotesque’ Campaign Bloomberg. No doubt!

Now We Face 2016! Michael Tomasky, New York Review of Books. The conventional wisdom.

… [t]he thundering high and crashing low of [younger] voters’ experience with Obama—”I had such hope in him, I thought he could really change things”…

Well, that’s what Obama ran on. Very explicitly. A Martian, as opposed to a Beltway insider, would find Tomasky’s vicious cynicism breathtaking. And yet Tomasky wonders why it’s hard to get Democratic “core voters” to the polls!

Hillary Clinton should run on a single-payer platform: Guest opinion Oregonian. Na ga happen, though I’d love to be surprised.

Even Before Long Winter Begins, Energy Bills Send Shivers in New England New York Times. At the 7/11: They’ll keep screwing us until they get their pipelines.

Social Security continuing to pursue claims against family members for old debts WaPo

ACLU chapters in Missouri and Kansas find new energy to deal with controversies Kansas City Star

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Tor is not a “Fundamental Law of the Universe” Pando Daily

Records reveal why court shut down Bush-era spy program WaPo

Class Warfare

Americans are 40% poorer than before the recession MarketWatch. But what could possibly account for the sour mood of the electorate?

The Devaluation of American Workers Economic Populist

Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind New York Times

Why America’s middle class is lost WaPo

The Job Opportunity Cost of War [PDF] Watson Institute for International Studies


Who Will Foot the Bill in Ukraine? Foreign Policy. We’d rather sanction Russia than pay Ukraine’s bills.

Ukraine welcomes prospect of US military aid Al Jazeera


China offers to help Iraq defeat Sunni extremists FT. US intervenes; hilarity ensues.

Another Overview Of The Situation In Syria Moon of Alabama. “The U.S. has given up on the Fee Syrian Army.” I think that’s a typo…

Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ Science Daily. Agnotology?

How Greenpeace Wrecked One of the Most Sacred Places in the Americas Gizmodo. Shaking my head.

This Week in Religion: Kentucky Govt Finally Cuts Off Subsidies to Noah’s Ark Museum Alternet

Birdsong and human speech turn out to be controlled by the same genes WaPo. The Avian Phylogenomics Consortium “reordered the bird tree of life.” This work is so totally non-crapified it’s a real pleasure to see.

Antidote du jour:


Bonus video for the NC readers who are both Gilbert & Sullivan fans and biblical philologists:

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. ambrit

      “Miss Lindsey” is it? You haven’t been communing with Grahams’ Crackers, have you? (Apropos the “biggest b—s” comment from Working Class Nero from the prior post, cue the AC/DC song.)

    2. JeffC

      Regarding Warren’s break-the-banks meme, I note in passing that G.F. Handel was kind enough to provide, in his Messiah oratorio, appropriate (and seasonal :) background music over 2.5 centuries in advance!

      Lyrics: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

  1. Kevin Smith

    Brilliant video of the biblical philologist, Yves.
    I forwarded that all over the place.
    Great start for our day!



    1. diptherio

      “In short, in matters lexical, semantic, and homologous, I am the very model of a biblical philologist.”

      Gonna have that stuck in my head all day now….

    2. Optimader

      Portuguese Irregular Verbs (The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom #1)
      The many fans of Precious Ramotswe will find further cause for celebration in the protagonist of Alexander McCall Smith’s irresistibly funny trilogy, the eminent (if shamefully under-read) philologist Professor Dr. Mortiz-Maria von Igelfeld of the Institute at Regensburg. Unnaturally tall, hypersensitive to slights, and oblivious to his own frequent gaucheries, von Igelfeld is engaged in a never-ending quest to win the respect he knows is due him.

      Portuguese Irregular Verbs follows the Professor from a busman’s holiday researching old Irish obscenities to a flirtation with a desirable lady dentist. In The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, von Igelfeld practices veterinary medicine without a license, transports relics for a schismatically challenged Coptic prelate and is mobbed by marriage-minded widows on board a Mediterranean cruise ship. In At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, the final novel in the trilogy, we find our hero suffering the slings of academic intrigue as a visiting fellow at Cambridge, and the slings of outrageous fortune in an eventful Columbian adventure. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      And I thought I was hot shit when I could tell a Gerund from a Gerundive in Latin class at Cardinal Dougherty HS! This ditty is a toe tapper, with a good back beat, I’d give it a solid 90!!

      1. inode_buddha

        Ran across the following on slashdot a while back…

        Kindly have the decency to identify us correctly by our Sacred Relic – Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, First Edition.

        I hope you did not mean for us to lump us in the Later Editioners – who eat off of their bellies, when there are perfectly good tables about for use of that function.

        In any case, your abbreviation of the Holy Name of our Sacred Relic may well have been alleviated by the acceptable, yet colloquial (although arcane), use of et cetera, hereby illustrated as per Rule 2, as you are but no doubt aware of so to do: Stunk and White, etc.

        (And yes, I thank you in advance for the opportunity of scoring points with my peers to compact my typography by ending a sentence with the abbreviated form of et cetera, thereby saving a full period. My deep appreciation is also given for the bonus points scored as well that the word period preceded it’s synonymously named punctuation mark in the previous sentence. It is for this alone that I defer to kindness and not rag upon the lack of calendar year reference, similarly missing.

        After all, a good Grammar Nazi is never a quibbling Sematics Nazi, nor worse, a Syntax Nazi (this last reference having been given, quite naturally, with highest reverence to the ghosts of alt.syntax).) *

        Kindly remember, and please never forget: if something can be said with few words, it’s worth saying very well; therefore, it worth saying with a great many words, in order to be at one’s best, if for no other reason. (N.B., it is well and good that initiates question the validity of verbosity over being succinct, as an object lesson that the admonishment for clarity overrides.)

        In closing, I am further compelled to compliment you upon the quite deft class-naming used for our gathering place, indicating, as it does, this modern forum while simultaneously not excluding Usenet, that is, as goes without saying, our one true Kobol, with the codex modification as it applies, naturally, to the mythology presented only in the contempory BattleStar Gallactica.

        * Note the parenthetical salvation of the egregious Usenet syntax error had the sentence been constructed to end thus: alt.syntax.

  2. blub

    Regarding the FSB and G20:
    I can recommend the comments of Stan Fischer at the Peterson Institute ( starting at 1:06).

    In general, the speeches and especially the follow up discussions at the Peterson Institute are often quite interesting because it gives interestings insights into the mindsets of regulators, central bankers and sometimes economics commentators.

  3. Banger

    Though I’m no fan of Tomasky, to describe his article as being filled with “vicious cynicism” is a bit, well, much. I think his article is pretty accurate and insightful about the current state of partisan politics–in fact he was just stating the obvious–in a nutshell, the RP is united and disciplined and the DP is a melange of people who are not Republican–thus they get more turnout in midterms where the media, as it did in very obvious fashion, largely ignore it.

    I like the way Tomasky puts the RP appeal–their constituency have some wealth and don’t want to fritter it away at spending money to “help” various minority constituencies–they’re happy to have lots of cops and “brave men and women in uniform” to protect their assets but the hell with the rest of the country as far as they’re concerned. The RP is a much more “honest” party in that they actually represent their constituency–now the fact of the matter is that the RP is still deeply corrupt but there’s a straightforwardness about their thievery that is disarming. In contrast the DP is deeply dishonest in every way–corrupt, and representing no constituency very well–to my eyes it seems to thrive on catering to various minorities and tribes–they say nice things about Latinos, they try to keep entitlements and rhetoric for African-Americans, it favors gay marriage and other cultural issues and believes in keeping the status quo as much as possible.

    In short, the DP is not worth supporting in any way, shape or form as an institution all it is is an empty vessel forced on us by law which we can use any way we see fit. Our job is to actually face that fact and cleanse it of its corrupt institutional hangers-on by mainly dissolving the organization except as skeleton. All the party does now is to pretend to take “positions” on issues which it has no intention of maintaining in the face of opposition and acts as an obfuscation machine (hand-in-hand with the “liberal” media) that keeps opposition to the patricians from developing. If you are not a Republican then you have no business having anything to do with the national DP. In its place we should use the DP legal structure to contain a number of mini-parties who form a rough alliance in local elections and come together to select the President at a Convention based on some kind of national voting scheme precede by a series of debates and fact-checking systems (we have to stop, at some point, the systematic lying and deception that are so “normal” for U.S. elections that we no longer see the lies) which I don’t want to go into now.

    1. Whine Country

      Good analysis. Maybe a starting point for moving forward would be for us to change how we refer to the DP to Not RP. Has a nice ring IMO – RP and Not RP (NRP for short).

      1. Banger

        Beautiful–that would at least make things clear to everyone! We could alto call it the “Other” Party or Alt-Party.

        1. sd

          Fascist and More Fascist are however, much more accurate as neither party really believe in any form of government that involves we little people.

    2. John Merryman

      Being of a tribe that was democrat when a certain war was still a determining factor, I would like to offer up a basic physical reality as explanation; Reality is that dichotomy of energy pushing out and order and form pushing in. In situations where the social order can not effectively channel the energies of the people, it gets oppressive and the people push on the weak spots of the structure, which only inflames its control and policing functions. Too much order and you have North Korea. Too little order and you have Somalia. So it has to fluctuate between the two.
      Suffice to say, energy is dynamic and yet conserved, while form is static, but transient. So energy creates the future and form defines that which is past. All for better or worse, as the absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      The article is characterized, immediately following the link to it, as “conventional wisdom.” A sentence fragment from the article is characterized, immediately following the blockquote of it, as “vicious cynicism.” So, in the quote, Tomaskey sneers at the base, and then wonders (as do many other pundits) why there’s a turnout problem.

      I’ll certainly entertain a motion to the effect that Beltway “conventional wisdom” is filled with “vicious cynicism,” but had I meant “to describe his article as being filled with ‘vicious cynicism’,” that is what I would have written.

    4. TimR

      The Rush Limbaugh wing of the RP, that is, the conservative ideologues out in flyover country (called by Andrew Codevilla “the Country Class”) is often betrayed, and feeling betrayed, by the insider beltway RP. Limbaugh often points out on his show that the RP is led by the money of the Chamber of Commerce, for instance, which wants illegal immigration to drive down wages. So there is a delicate line they walk, to serve their money masters, and then sell it to the base.

    1. Tom Allen

      b at MoA coined that months ago, and consistently refers to the “Fee Syrian Army” in his posts.

  4. CB

    Lambert: Didn’t Greenpeace parachute in on a local campaign to stop a private hywy across Maine and hijack what was, to that point, a successful effort?

    1. diptherio

      Greenpeace is the drunken uncle of the environmental movement. They mean well and can occasionally be fun, but they often end up causing disaster inadvertently.

      And I’m wondering what, exactly, they thought they were accomplishing by scawling “the future is renewable” across the desert. Did they really think that world leaders flying in for the summit would look out the window, see their message, and suddenly have a change of heart? “You know what, those Greenpeace kids are right, the future is renewable! No more oil!” I have a feeling that they were actually more concerned with getting a cool photo for their next fund-raising campaign than with actually making any sort of positive difference.

      Some people’s kids, man….

      1. wbgonne

        I go to New Orleans every year for Jazz Fest, which is prominently and ubiquitously sponsored by Shell Oil. Greenpeace has taken to flying over the Fairgrounds with banners (rather mildly IMO) criticizing Big Oil. Does it accomplish anything? Beats me. But at least they exhibit signs of life.

        1. dearieme

          Greenpeace is about ego-tripping, isn’t it? Not really news, except when the vandalism reaches the level in this story.

          1. wbgonne

            Greenpeace is about ego-tripping, isn’t it?

            No, I don’t think so. I suspect that, in the absence of serious political avenues for environmental progress (Lima is an abject failure, as expected), Greenpeace looks to make a splash with high-profile events. Some work, some don’t. But not a poor strategy choice considering the choices. That said, it does seem Greenpeace attracks and fosters a daredevil mentality.

            1. susan the other

              I’m hoping that’s wrong (that Lima was a failure). The event spokesperson (Peruvian) was shown on international news last nite saying that altho’ there was no consensus, the group was “very very close” to some meaningful agreements and they would follow up in Paris next spring (?). And in the meantime we do have the mother of all conservation – a worldwide depression – disciplining us all.

      2. MikeNY

        I’ve supported Greenpeace for years.

        So here’s a question: IYHO, what are the best environmental activism / protection organizations? I could always change my roster of charities. It is that time of year….

        1. diptherio

          I would go with something local. All of the big national orgs seem pretty f-ed to me…but I’m something of a cynic. A local land trust would be good.

        2. different clue

          Well . . . there are “environmentalist” organizations and “conservationist” organizations. Since the “conservationist” organizations are also working to defend and/or extend discrete territorial bits of “environment”, perhaps your search could be broadened to include “conservationist” organizations?

          If so, does Ducks Unlimited deserve a look? How much actual duck-breeding and duck-feeding wetland have they paid for preserving or restoring? And how many non-duck organisms have also benefited? Rails/bitterns/grebes/loons/etc.etc.? It is true that Ducks Unlimited only cares about its selfish interest in hunting ducks. Every other good thing coming from Ducks Unlimited is just a side effect. But the same thing is true about beavers and their dams. Beavers selfishly want water to swim around in and reach edible trees with. They could give a rats ass about all the other species, water tables, etc. that benefit as a side effect.
          But all those side effect benefits are real. Maybe Ducks Unlimited is the Selfish Beaver of “conservationist” organizations.

          1. CB`

            I think Ducks Unlitd is worth looking into. There are hunting groups that have preserved/leased wetlands and seasonal ponds bc they understand their best interests. Whatever works, I say.

        3. Vatch

          I’m partial to The Center for Biological Diversity. They recognize that human overpopulation is one of the primary drivers of environmental destruction. Too many other environmental groups are afraid of violating political correctness by mentioning the reality that the Earth has too many people. And yes, the people in the CBD are also fully aware that prosperous people in the industrialized world consume and pollute too much. I like this program of the Center for Biological Diversity:

      3. Kevin Hall

        My wife is from Peru so about every other year we visit our family there, especially important for our son to enjoy time with his grandparents, uncles, and cousins. We would love to go more often but are lucky we are able to make the trip as often as we do.

        It’s a nice thought that world leaders could look down on the Nazca lines upon approach to Jorge Chavez and see a message about how vital it is that we take care of our home – better yet, one that would motivate enough action to reverse course. I can’t speak for those coming from destinations in the southern hemisphere but for those flying from the north there is no flight plan that affords any opportunity to see Nazca – the desert glyphs reside in the region of Ica, the southern end of the state south of Lima.

        What Greenpeace did was inconsiderate in the worst possible way. No consideration for the artists of the past. None for the Peruvians of the present or those in the future, nor humanity as a whole. No consideration given to the fragility of the desert or the sovereignty of Peruvian laws meant to protect it. It’s selfish in that it was all about Greenpeace and had nothing to contribute to their cause.

        It is the kind of thing that confirms the convictions of enemies, makes new enemies among the undecided, and kills the love and support from those that believed in the cause.

        1. different clue

          I hope the Green peacecreeps can be held in place in Peru. If convicted, I hope they are sentenced to the very limits of the severity of the law. What did Peru ever do to these grubby scum?

      4. McMike

        Great segment in Charles Bowden’s Some of the Dead are Still Breathing about his experiences on a greenpeace ship. Egos, drinking, tension, madness, seasickness, and more.

  5. diptherio

    What a softball, nothing interview with Jeff Bezos. Journalistic fellatio, if ever there was. Not a single question about working conditions in the warehouses?

    Amazon is like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: there are slaves running the whole show, but they are cleverly hidden from view by the use of gee-whiz technology, so that your dinner or your Kindle or whatever just shows up–as if by magic–without anyone having to see the poor wretches who make the whole thing go.

    1. different clue

      I read partway into the interview and became so disturbed I broke off the attempt. Maybe I will finish it later.
      The interviewer has done a very good job in letting us see the utter and absolute depths of the Digigothic Cyberbarianism that motivates the library-burning mass vandal Bezos. So books are supposed to compete with Candy Crush and I Kan Haz Cheezburgur? Well alrighty then. Bezos’s goal is clearly to exterminate ink on paper publishing and establish a Microsoftian monopoly on the readable word, imprisoned behind the screens of his dreadful little kindles.

      Does “publishing” grasp the true extent of Bezos’s ambition? Is “publishing” pre-emptively prepared to save some small part of itself by retreating to lifeboats of quality? If “publishing” decides now . . . right now . . . to abandon the market for $3.00 shitbooks to Kindle, perhaps publishing can still save itself within the smaller confines of a market for $30.00 shinola books on paper. And people who would rather buy Bezos’s
      Kindle-version of Audubon’s Birds of North America for $3.00 on a Kindle instead of $30.00 ( or $300) for an ink on paper version on real pages between real covers . . . . deserve Kindle and are no better than the Kindle they deserve. Such people deserve the worst contempt and opprobrium that Banger or anyone else could hurl their way.

      1. different clue

        Here is David Lynch discussing watching movies on an Iphone. Would he consider reading shinola books on a kindle to be analogous? I hope that he would. (Perhaps shitbooks are another matter. Perhaps I myself will someday buy $3.00 shitbooks for a kindle of my very own . . . but only when they have gone on digital remainder for a few cents apiece). Anyway, here is the link.

  6. Banger

    In regards to Clinton adopting single payer–well, it’s unlikely to happen of course–but…. If she did adopt that policy she would win the election. So why wouldn’t she do it? It would be stunningly easy to defend, i.e., this item costs $100 and gives you sort-of coverage but if you spend $150 it gives you great coverage but not complete; or, this item costs you $80 and gives you complete basic coverage–and if you want the deluxe version of complete coverage then it will cost you $100 so which do you want?

    It’s a 100% winner of an issue! There are details to be dealt with, of course, but why wouldn’t we want that? But the problem is that if we used reason and science to solve a collective problem–what next? Would we start applying that to other issues? That would spell disaster for the whole corrupt edifice in Washington and the walls would come tumbling down–now that’s scary.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Sure, If Hillary did adopt single-payer she would win the election, but then again, as Obama shows us continuously, campaigning and governing share almost nothing in common.

      1. Carla

        Did you mean governing, or ruling?

        I don’t think this great nation has been tainted by any governing lately.

    2. James

      If she did adopt that policy [single payer] she would win the election.

      Actually, that would pretty much guarantee her defeat. If you thought the lunatic right squealed socialism last time… Single payer, and health care in general for that matter, has not one little thing to do with what “makes sense.” But not to worry, she’s completely bought and paid for, so no chance of that.

      1. Banger

        Well the lunatic right certainly would go nuts–however single payer, or some equivalent, is so astonishingly easy to understand their argument, unless the MSM refused to present the case for it, would evaporate. The far-right only gets, at most, a third of the populace and besides they call a center-right President a socialist–what are they going to call someone who actually proposes socialism? They’ve used their powder too much and too often most people aren’t going to buy it–if the MSM allows the issue to come forth rationally (in 09 the MSM refused to present alternate ideas, studies or use reason–all they did was use the debate over Obamacare as a sporting event).

        It’s simple dollars–very easy to present if it is allowed to be presented. There is no counter-argument that the right can offer other than howling at the Moon.

        1. bob

          First, look at the recent polls on how US citizens feel about gov in healthcare. Positive until obamacare. Feature or bug?

          Next up, health care administration and insurance. Both are MAJOR employers, and both would be rendered useless and obsolete, overnight.

          That’s a feature in my mind, but to many, including those employed by health insurance companies and hospital admins, it means severance. It also means that the HI companies can spend every single one of ‘your’ health insurance premium dollars lobbying against it. Wait, they get direct subsidies from DC now too, right? Every single one of “our” dollars.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          The lunatic right by definition goes nuts–it’s baked right in. Not doing something because it would make the right go nuts is like not doing something because the sun will rise.

      2. LifelongLib

        The Big Money that funds politics isn’t worried about the cost of national health care, but about the example it would set. A federal program that has such obvious benefit for average Americans would remind them of the power of government and spark a new interest in politics. Down the road that same government (with popular support) might start looking at the wealthy and exactly what it is they do to deserve so much money (hint: nothing). Hence the desire to prevent any government program that benefits average Americans from succeeding.

  7. abynormal

    Citigroup to Move Headquarters to U.S. Capitol Building
    (Borowitz Report)—The banking giant Citigroup announced on Friday that it would move its headquarters from New York to the U.S. Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C., in early 2015.

    Tracy Klugian, a spokesperson for Citi, said that the company had leased thirty thousand square feet of prime real estate on the floor of the House of Representatives and would be interviewing “world-class architects” to redesign the space to suit its needs.

    Great Idea!…and bring their comrades from the north & south into the HVT

  8. wbgonne

    A Martian, as opposed to a Beltway insider, would find Tomasky’s vicious cynicism breathtaking. And yet Tomasky wonders why it’s hard to get Democratic “core voters” to the polls!

    Tomasky can’t even see the trees nevermind the forest, probably because he’s had his head up Obama’s ass for six years and is now looking — like his Obot media contemporaries — to relocate his head to Hillary’s rear. His piece, though, is a cautionary tale teaching that footnotes do not prelude foolishness. Case in point, those “trade deals” Tomasky blithely endorses are precisely the reason the Democratic Party is collapsing but Tomasky doesn’t even consider it. Looks like all those babbling frauds hoping their Obama-fawning would launch careers for them are realizing they hitched to the wrong wagon. If Hillary’s dance card is full (I see Lanny Davis has endorsed her!), maybe Obama will let them work at his library. For minimum wage, I hope.

  9. dearieme

    “Social Security says it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. With Grice’s mother long since dead, the government came after Mary to pay the debt.” Some stories beggar belief. (i) Do you really have a system of inheritable debt in the US? In the UK, if you die in debt, then once your “estate” has paid what’s available, any still outstanding debts die. Nobody inherits them. (ii) No British court would accept some twaddle about “it’s not sure who”: at least I bloody well hope not.

    1. Light a Candle

      Thanks for flagging that link.

      It was completely surreal to read that the U.S. Social Security is clawing back “over payments” from adult children, over payments which were made to their parents decades ago. I can’t see how in any way that can be legal, making relatives pay back debt. And to add insult to injury, no proof either that there was actually any over payment. No records, no paper trail. And threatening the adult children including reporting them to credit bureaus if they fail to pony up.

      Just a big out-of-control bureaucracy doing whatever the hell it wants which includes shaking down average Americans. Average Americans who will have to go through years of fighting the injustice. Just like the big banks with their mortgage fraud and robo signing. And no politician stepping up to right the injustice.

      It is interesting to see how what happens in one of the Five Eyes countries (NZ, Australia, UK, US, Canada) often gets quickly replicated in all Five Eyes and Europe. In Canada, the tax agency is also going after ordinary Canadian and charities critical of the federal government while ignoring wealthy tax cheats parking money offshore.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It has been said many times here – the Too-Big Imperial Government and one of its avatars, Too Big, Too Rich Brother.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Is it too cynical to wonder whether some player in the Social Security Administration is deliberately working to crappify Social Security? The actions described in the article seem vaguely reminiscent of the actions used to dismantle the US Post Office.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Today’s not Halloween, but it’s a still scary question – will they confiscate the graves of these dead Social Security over-receiving recipients, who while long dead, are still bourgeois-at-heart by owning vast tracts of cemetary real estate?

      Kill them out!!!

  10. danB

    In her remarks Warren uses the rhetorical device (of the useful tautology) “Enough is enough.” She needs to apply this device to her own party, and to other issues: health care, war, national security, debt, etc. If she remains a democrat, she’s this election cycle’s version of Hope and Change. The democrats are desperate and divided, but not divided over how to help the common person; the division is over how to keep the White House and serve neoliberalism. Obama is now a lame duck, fair game for uprisings, and subtle ridicule and insults since he’s no longer a vote-getter; and he probably dose not care about what comes after him. So if Warren remains a Dem, this is theatre and veal pen politics; if she leaves the party, then she really believes “enough is enough.”

    1. wbgonne

      Obama is now a lame duck, fair game for uprisings, and subtle ridicule and insults since he’s no longer a vote-getter; and he probably dose not care about what comes after him

      Exactly. It’s easy to jump on Obama now because he will be the (deserved) fall guy for the failure of this latest round of bipartisan neoliberalism, just like what happened with W Bush. The policies endure, the water-carriers get replaced. The real test for the Democratic Party today is Clinton not Obama. When (if) we see attacks against Hillary then there might be something real happening but kicking Obama now is par for the course and part of the shtick. Corporatims cannot fail, it can only be failed.

      1. abynormal

        imo, Obama gained lame duck status when he appointed Timothy Geithner

        The government can help, but we need to make this transition
        now to a recovery led by private investment,
        private. TG

      2. different clue

        Its part of what he will get paid for, big-time, after he leaves office. Maybe if the insults get bad enough, he will cry all the way to the bank.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: China offers to help Iraq defeat Sunni extremists

    Meanwhile the Iraqi-Shia offensive in Anbar failed to penetrate Hit and it ended like it usually does with the Iraqi forces discarding their weapons in the process of retreating. The Islamic State then rolled into Al-Dobab virtually unopposed and managed to cut one of the last lines of communication and supply to Ramadi. (Source: Radio Free Europe)

    The battle for Anbar province isn’t going well and the future of Iraq does not look bright.

    RE: Another Overview Of The Situation In Syria

    Hah, I love the first comment on the post.

    “The stalemate in Kobane seems to be a failure of the Islamic State but it could also be being used as a training grounds for the thousands of new recruits that need urban warfare hardening to prepare for the coming battles. “

    Both sides seem to have given up trying to capture the city as a whole but that hasn’t stopped them from rotating forces in and out of Kobane. The lessons that IS recruits acquire will be invaluable for the battle for Baghdad and elsewhere. While the Kurdish PKK/YPG will be able to use it against both the Turks and Kurdish PUK in the future.

  12. TedWa

    Re: GMO’s and labeling. I want to know why the GMO labeling people seem to want to lose their initiatives? The way the pro-GMO side wins every time is to say it’s going to cost consumers more. WTF? GMO’s are new untested products that are not conventionally grown food. As with any product that wants market share, it needs to compete against the standard ! Knock-offs have to compete, new drugs have to compete, new technology has to compete – why is Monstanto and ilk allowed to sneak their drugs into the food supply without any competition? GMO’s need to compete if they want market share, that’s the way capitalism works!! And competition always lowers prices ! The pro-labeling crowd want my contributions but won’t get any until they call a spade a spade and saying that labeling NEEDS to be done and it WILL produce competition which will lower prices.

    Someone has to PLEASE smarten these people up that are taking hard earned contributions and throwing the fight !!

    1. McMike

      I have sent OCA a couple emails along those lines and never even got back an acknowledgement.

      During one of the campaigns this year I dissected an industry talking point about cost. Can’t remember exactly how I approached it, but the industry meme fell apart pretty quickly in the face of analysis.

      I honestly don’t know why people vote against labeling. They are smart enough to know the world won’t end and store shelves empty if labels are changed. It’s a chance to stick it to a major corporation that spends a lot of money disrupting local elections. And it changes no one’s lives except Monsanto. Yet vote against it they do.

      Basic “no” default perhaps. Not entirely unwise approach.

      Makes me wonder about computer voting though.

      1. TedWa

        As soon as they hear it’s going to cost more they vote against labeling and that’s why these initiatives are so close and then lost time and again. I’ve donated hundreds and then when I see the commercials I want to puke. It’s like they’re trying to lose. They absolutely know they’re losing not because of the logic of it or that people don’t care. They losing because people are scared of higher costs. Simple. Address that and they’ll win every time. But they don’t and I just don’t understand why.

        Is this whole thing a charade financed by Monsanto and ilk? Almost seems that way to make it appear that GMO’s are inevitable. You know they got the bucks to do it. Hell, they even hire trolls for websites to defend GMO’s. It’s starting to be the only thing that makes sense.

      2. TedWa

        Makes one wonder if Monsanto and ilk are financing both sides of the initiative since the pro-labeling groups seem to want to lose. The answer and how to win is obvious, but they refuse to see it.

  13. EasyARB


    Did you kindly tell the 7/11 patron to read the NYTimes article? For all I despise most NYTimes reporting on energy issues, this article was quite accurate about why New Englanders pay such high natural gas and power prices. There is not enough gas to meet high winter demand in New England at reasonable prices. The lady who increased her house’s insulation and efficiency is on the right track, but everybody in New England will have to get on board.

    1. bob

      When was the last time they ran out of gas? That’s a shortage.
      Given recent history, ‘shortage’ equals regulatory arbitrage opportunity and profits for wall st. Crimes? They used to be called that, lobbyists of the aristocracy have changed that. It’s now called tipping.

      1. EasyARB


        Your article didn’t sway me much. First, the comments of “meets” and “craazyman” at the bottom offered far better explanations than your take. I won’t take a definitive position b/c I don’t follow the NEISO auctions (nor MISO for that matter). But coal plants were getting shuttered left and right since 2012 as natural gas fell, so “meets” reasoning doesn’t seem too far off to me. You dismissed “meets” out of hand, and I don’t know why. You could have offered up data to support your claim, but did not. I get that you are quite busy and wouldn’t be able to refute every claim in comments. But without a empirical justification, such an accusation seems unfounded.

        Second, the NYTimes article clearly states that power plants and industrial consumers are cut to favor residential customers. There isn’t enough gas to go around on cold winter days, and the consumers will pay for that. Adding more solar and wind only makes the system more reliant on flexible natural gas generators when renewables come in below expectation. Unless a massive residential and commercial insulation and efficiency drive is undertaken, I don’t see how New England doesn’t build more pipeline capacity.

        Finally, all the above combined with a winter colder than any in my professional experience means the utilities didn’t buy enough gas or power for realized winter demand. Going out on the day or month ahead once in the winter season was prohibitively expensive. The customers are catching up to that reality now I guess.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Al Jazeera:

    Ukraine welcomed the bill that would allow the US to provide lethal military assistance to the country.

    The bill, passed late on Thursday approved in Congress on Friday will now be sent to US President Barack Obama. It opens the way for up to $350m of US military hardware to be sent to Ukraine.

    Here we go again. US interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have been such stunning successes that we need to keep our winning streak going.

    Meanwhile, with its next tranche of hard money from the IMF due in the next few days, Ukraine has admitted that: (1) $17 billion isn’t nearly enough; and (2) its economy has shrunk more than expected, meaning that Ukraine isn’t meeting its IMF targets to qualify for the next tranche.

    At the same time, Congress failed to approve an IMF quota increase. So the US push for the IMF to carry on throwing good money after bad to our new best friends in Kiev faces hard slogging.

    Perhaps Senatrix Lindsay Graham can moonlight as a colonel in the Fee Ukrainian Army, as America begins the long struggle for victory on the eastern front.

    1. susan the other

      If China is coming in on behalf of Iran to push back the Sunnis it is going to get interesting. The line of conflagration will run from Poland where there will be a stand-off of tanks who aren’t altogether sure what they are even there for, thru Ukraine where each side is lobbing missiles at the other – then a little break from the eastern fringe of Ukraine to somewhere around Dagestan because the Russians aren’t going to let us take half their earthly oil – and then pick up another battle line from the southern end of the Caspian to the Persian Gulf. And what is China most likely to contribute to the cause? Probably not missiles. Probably foot soldiers. Simply because we Westerners want to avoid foot-soldiering at all costs. We’ll send brigades of drones, but foot soldiers not so much. And that is why we will lose our ass. And that’s just fine with me.

    2. Peter Pan

      Ukraine will sell the US supplied military equipment on the black market to Russia to obtain funds to be distributed to Ukrainian oligarchs. Russia will distribute this US military equipment to separatists in Ukraine and Moldova.

    3. gordon

      I don’t understand why Ukraine is such a difficult issue for the US. All the US Govt. has to do is authorise visa-free travel and work permits for Ukrainians who go to the US. Ninety per cent of the Ukrainian population would then arrive in New York, tensions with Russia would disappear, nobody would worry about the unpaid gas bills any more and – problem solved!

  15. Luke The Debtor

    I don’t understand New England. First they want to curb their emissions of CO2, now they say it costs too much to do so, but they think natural gas costs too much and want something else. What?

  16. Benedict@Large

    Why America’s middle class is lost – WaPo

    The love affair of economists with the “technology has failed us” meme is just the second round of the love affair of economists with behavioral economics. The problem is neither of these, both being merely excuses for the fact that monetarist-based economics has no answers. Every now and then, monetarists get very uncomfortable with this, and rather than admit the failure of their economics, they latch onto whatever is the latest fad excuse for why the economy can’t seem to wipe its own ass. This excuse used to be behavioral; now it’s moved on to the lack of new technology.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To me, the problem is we have been too successful in curtailing global wage inflation.

      What global wage inflation, you ask?


      And the root of that problem is meta-economic, as in after economics. There, we find inflation defined completely differently.

  17. PQS

    Re: Women not Working Article
    Makes perfect sense. When my daughter was an infant my spouse stayed home with her. Costs for a year old child in diapers for FT daycare? Over $900 a month. More for infants that aren’t mobile, because the state requires a lower ratio of kids to provider at the infant age. That’s a lot of money for anybody, and doesn’t include diapers or food. You have to provide that yourself. Even preschool was a couple hundred dollars a month for two mornings a week.

    Congress is filled with old men who have zero idea about how the real world works. And this is what we get in regards to “family policy”. That, and ever-more-onerous abortion restrictions. Of course, I’m beginning to think it’s a conspiracy – it costs a zillion dollars to run a campaign for Congress, nobody with small kids at home could do it, and so the old men stay in charge all around, making rules for the rest of us that we have to live with.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wasn’t there an article earlier this week (last week, as Sunday is the first day of the new week), that men are disappearing from the work force as well?

      Who is left, if men and women are leaving – kids? Cheap child labor? Almost free prison labor? Senior labor?

  18. tongorad

    Texas Weighs Allowing Open Carry of Handguns
    “ong depicted as the rootin’-tootin’ capital of American gun culture, Texas is one of the few states with an outright ban on the open carry of handguns.

    That could change in 2015, with the Republican-dominated Legislature and Gov.-elect Greg Abbott expected to push for expanded gun rights.”

    I get the feeling this Abbot fellow is going to make Perry look like a piker.

    “If open carry is good enough for Massachusetts, it’s good enough for the state of Texas,” Abbott said the day after his election last month.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The comment went to yesterday’s links by mistake. It should be here.

    Prenatal Exposure…Low IQ.

    Domestic Horror-sim.

    We need to teach kids self-defense, as in nutrition and proper toxic chemical handling.

    Instead, we teach them how to fit into the machine as replaceable parts.

    Neanderthal caves were a lot safer than the modern kitchen/the modern home.

    PS: Again, the obsession with IQ, being smart and intellect, thus the search, in vain, for Artificial Intelligence, instead of, say, Artificial Love. I wonder if the exposure makes kids more vicious or more psychopathic.

    When walking into a chat room, does the Modern, Educated Mensch try to impress with intellect, wit, energy or compassion? What does he/she want to be known for?

  20. Jim Haygood

    Folks in the southern hemisphere view the world upside down. John Mellor, writing in the NYT about the demise of Australia’s auto industry:

    ‘Australians were paying too much for cars, and special interests began to exert their influence to reduce trade barriers.’

    HA HA HA HA! Those evil ‘special interests,’ trying to save Aussies from ‘paying too much.’

    What will the villains do next, subject us to the horror of sales, rebates and discounts? Make it stop!

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Senate approves $1.1 trillion spending bill.

    Much is given, and much is expected.

    Spend wisely…and many will be helped.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Birdsong and human speech…controlled, same genes.

    It would be weird if the same genes control birdsong and, say, human digestion or bipedalism.

  23. susan the other

    Ellen Brown. Truthout. The new Financial Stability Board of the G-20. Overriding sovereignty and imposing neoliberal austerity for decades to come? Yet no one has held a forum on what exactly “stability” is. I don’t think the neoliberals can achieve anything resembling stability that I recognize.

  24. susan the other

    Also the birdsong research linking human language genetics with song bird genetics. They have also found a language gene shared with other species. I wish science would hold some truths to be self evident – like the one about all species having logic, the creator of language. Whales, dolphins, bees, ants, prairie dogs, cats, dogs, horses, sheep, wolves, etc. It might be more efficient to look for a species that is so clueless as to have no way of filtering information and responding to it. Since there aren’t any. (Oh wait, maybe humans…) Then studying interspecies’ philology would get a lot more interesting and real.

    1. FaustCarton

      Michael Wood made a very reverent and detailed history of India ( as seen from an anglo-celt appreciation) entitled “The Story of India”. In the first few chapters, as best I can recall, he travels to a sacred festival where the main participants are celebrating in a ritual that goes beyond even the ancient Hindu texts ( which is some 5,000 yrears). They are using unwritten vocal incantations that have been suggested by Indian scholars to be related directly to a birdsong language. This rare occasion is the last one of its type in the Sub-Continent and seems to fit well with this research. Check it out if you can find the footage. Enjoy your comments sto.

  25. Jackrabbit

    Financial Stability Board of the G-20

    Why no mention of the US Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) established by Dodd-Frank which operates in much the same way? FSOC can force ‘bail-in’s via price-gouging:

    The FSOC has the authority to set aside certain financial regulations published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if those rules would threaten financial stability.

    I’ve been mentioning FSOC from time to time for a couple of years but nobody seems to care much(?!?). Essentially, FSOC ‘bailin’s (plus Fed mechanisms) reduce the risk that politicians have to be embarrassed by the need for a bailout. It is a form of back-door bailout that is essentially a ‘tax’ because the effect would be so widespread.

    H O P

    1. Yves Smith

      Ellen Brown is wrong on this and I wish Lambert had not posted the link.

      1. G20 measures are non-binding

      2. US regulators are firmly opposed to bail-ins. They think they increase the risk of bank runs. Bail-ins are not happening here.

      1. Jackrabbit


        Well, a ‘bail-in’ usually means confiscating depositor money to rescue the bank. The FSOC ‘bail-in’ is different: it is a mechanism to allow banks to overcharge customers.

        1. Yves Smith

          That’s pervasive now. See interchange charges as an ongoing example. Americans pay a ridiculous amount of money for terrible payment infrastructure. Chip cards were normal in Europe and even South Africa in 1997. We are nearly 20 years behind.

          And what do you think ZIRP is about? It’s a transfer from savers to banks. And now the Fed is stuck and can’t extricate itself.

  26. McMike

    re what Dems get out of spending bill.

    I was wondering exactly that. We’ve all seen the lobbyist wish list. We’ve all seen the major travesties (dodd frank, pensions). What did the Dems get in return? The list provided was weak tea.

    I really like the excuse that it was better than whatever the GOP would do next year. Not clear to me why they should not have waited exactly for that. Let the GOP own this criminal mess. Act like the party of opposition. Instead they provide a bipartisan smoke screen.

    One thing you can count on about the dems, no matter whether they have a power monopoly, a minority, or something in between, they fall all over themselves to give the GOP what it wants.

    Calling the Dems Vichy is too generous. There’s something far more sinister afoot.

    PS. when I saw the name: Cromnibus, I thought it was a joke. I thought is was a snide nickname as in Criminal Omnibus.

  27. Jackrabbit

    Sometimes comments go to moderation (which may last a few minutes to an hour or two) and sometimes they just disappear (where they are often lost forever). I am re-posting the comment below because it got lost – there was never any message about moderation, it just didn’t appear.

    = = = = = = =
    Why no mention of the US Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) established by Dodd-Frank which operates in much the same way? FSOC can force ‘bail-in’s via price-gouging:

    The FSOC has the authority to set aside certain financial regulations published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if those rules would threaten financial stability.

    I’ve been mentioning FSOC from time to time for a couple of years but nobody seems to care much(?!?). Essentially, FSOC ‘bailin’s (plus Fed mechanisms) reduce the risk that politicians have to be embarrassed by the need for a bailout. It is a form of back-door bailout that is essentially a ‘tax’ because the effect would be so widespread.

    H O P

  28. Jess

    Re: The G20 bail-in piece by Ellen Brown on Truthout: She notes at the end that the actual bail-in legislation has not yet happened, but I seem to remember that something like this was approved about two years ago. Anybody recall any info?

    Also, Yves has stated that U.S. regulators are opposed to bail-ins, which might be good news. But then again, when have regulators shown any spine when confronted with a financial crisis?

    Also, what happens to SIPA protections up to $500K for securities investors? And even though credit unions don’t engage in the banking practices which will threaten the TBTF banks, if the FDIC reserver are extinguished paying off bank’s derivatives exposure, won’t that effectively mean that credit union deposits are uninsured?
    Finally, if such a bail-in of insured deposits did happen, wouldn’t everyone simply stop using financial institutions? Wouldn’t there be a big run on Tupperware containers to store under the back porch?

    1. Yves Smith

      As I said, Brown is wrong on this. G20 resolutions are non-binding. This is a nothingburger.

      The Europeans like bail-ins and the Americans are firmly opposed. US regulators correctly see bail-ins as creating greater odds of bank runs. We have a fiat currency and their national banking regulators don’t, which also means we have more degrees of freedom in what we do to handle banking crises.

  29. Propertius

    Continuing Resolution Omnibus, not some Beltway joke about cronuts.

    I prefer to think of it as “CRiminal Omnibus”.

  30. Sam Kanu

    In a nation of 300 MILLION people, how many of the names around presidential candidates and have been named Bush or Clinton in the past few decades?

    Oligarchy anyone?

    1. tawal

      More properly, crime families. I hope the secret service ignores their new responsibilities to protect these effers for life.

Comments are closed.