Links 12/4/14

The smart mouse with the half-human brain New Scientist (David L). I don’t like the sound of this…and I wonder what the inner life of those mice is like.

Comcast Forgets To Delete Revealing Note From Blog Post Slashdot

‘Superbugs’ Kill India’s Babies and Pose an Overseas Threat New York Times (David L)

Thailand Unravels Wall Street Journal

German private sector grows at slowest pace in 17 months in November: PMI Reuters

Why Did US, Canada And Ukraine Vote Against Condemning Nazism At The UN? InSerbia News (Jeffrey S)

What Comes After Putin Could Be Worse Bloomberg


Islamic State setting up Libya training camps, US says BBC (furzy mouse)

US and Iran Both Attack ISIS, but Try Not to Look Like Allies New York Times

Why 17 states are suing Obama administration over immigration action Christian Science Monitor. The argument made in the suit doesn’t seem very strong, but I have trouble understanding why the plaintiffs would have a standing problem in a writ of mandamus.

Americans Losing Faith in Democracy Consortiumnews (Chuck L)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Freedom Rider: Ferguson’s Reckoning for Obama Black Agenda Report (jo6pac)

Thousands of Protestors Descend on Midtown Manhattan Gawker. Might start getting the authorities’ attention if protests starts affecting tourism in major cities.

‘Criming While White’: Twitter reacts to Garner decision with tales of white privilege Raw Story

How One Woman Could Hit The Reset Button In The Case Against Darren Wilson ThinkProgress (furzy mouse). If this happens, it would only be to improve the prosecutor’s whitewash.

U.S. Plans Probe of New York Police Chokehold Death Bloomberg

The American Justice System Is Not Broken Albert Burneko

Cameras Aren’t a Miracle Cure for Police Brutality Intercept

Reading List – Post Crash Economics Society. ECONNED gets a good review: “Probably the best book on ‘what happened’ in the financial crisis, and also links in the role of economic theories.”

US refineries run flat out to process cheap crude Financial Times

Sub-$50 Oil Surfaces in North Dakota Amid Regional Discounts Bloomberg

The Fed and ECB differ sharply on the oil shock Financial Times

What Qualifies an Investment Banker to be a Regulator? Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Whither Markets?

Flow of Opec petrodollars set to dry up Financial Times

America’s economy: Why so glum? Economist (Scott)

Ahead of the November Employment Report Tim Duy

Fed Survey Finds ‘Optimistic’ View of the Economy Fiscal Times

An Assortment of Data Shows a Resurgent U.S. Economy, but Wages Continue to Lag Reuters

Yield Curve Casts Doubt on “Robust Recovery” Theory Michael Shedlock

Corporate Bond Bubble Comes Unglued at the Bottom, Investors Begin to Bleed Wolf Richter

JPMorgan Rushed to Hire Trader Who Suggested on His Resume That He Knew How to Game Electric Markets Pam Martens. Great reporting.

Class Warfare

Debt Collectors Paying To Use Prosecutors’ Letterheads To Get People To Pay Consumerist

How Walmart and Home Depot Are Buying Huge Political Influence American Prospect

Antidote du jour (@Elverojaguar, via Lambert):

sleeping tabbies links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. scott

    So Costco doesn’t spend much on political influence. Keep an eye out for some legislation (maybe state by state) that hurts Costco but not Sam’s. I don’t know how they’ll do it, but it’s coming.

  2. cnchal

    From the American Prospect article, a few choice quotes.

    The influence of wealthy corporate donors has concrete results. Research suggests that campaign contributions like those examined here can significantly affect policy. For example, a recent article in the National Tax Journal finds that increases in business campaign contributions lead to lower state corporate taxes.16 This outcome exacerbates inequities because companies like Walmart rely on a business model that depends on tax payers to support their low-wage workforce, while simultaneously aiming their political spending to reduce their own tax burdens.
    Taxes were the most frequently lobbied issue by big-box retailers in 2014 by a large margin. This legislative area has proven lucrative for business in the past—experts in corporate strategy research show that a 1 percent increase in businesses lobbying expenditures yields a lower effective tax rate of between 0.5 and 1.6 percent for the firm.24 One study on the subject finds that the market value of an additional dollar spent on lobbying could be as high as $200.25
    The political spending at retail’s largest companies exemplifies the relationship between economic and democratic inequity. Walmart, in particular, stands out as one of the top political donors in the entire country and the largest retail corporate political spender. Federal political spending by Walmart and the company’s wealthy family heirs embeds the economic disparity at the heart of their low-wage business model into the democratic system.

  3. Juneau

    re: mouse human hybrid. They have access to fetal tissue and this is the best they can do? I hope it is useful.
    I have worked in rodent labs, those guys were kept in little plastic drawers by the dozen and could jump out when the researchers were choosing their next subject. I respect the enormous difficulty of this research and the decades of combined education of a genetics research team. Still, smarter mice and rats with better memories in the wild? Perhaps they don’t want to give these things to monkeys because they have seen Planet of the Apes.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      They’ll do it with apes eventually. Where do you think we all came from in the first place? :^)

    2. Paper Mac

      “They have access to fetal tissue and this is the best they can do?”

      Are you sure you actually know what “this” is? They injected human glial progenitors into immunodeficient (guaranteed not to have a cross-species immune reaction), myelin-deficient (its glia don’t create the required myelin sheath insulator around the neural axon) mice. The human glial progenitors, without opposition from the mouse’s immune system and without effective competition from the mouse’s own glial cells, establish themselves in the mouse brain. The point is not that they made a mouse with human cells in it’s brain (although these may be interesting in their own right- Yves’ suggestion on the inner life of these animals is unlikely to be testable, but social assays might profitably be conducted to determine how the mice behave with each other and with “normal” mice). The point is that they now have a platform for testing the general effects of human glial injections prior to medical trials. Those injections could be performed autologously (from the patient’s own tissue) or heterologously (from a donor), depending on whether the patient is immunosuppressed and other issues. Because glia (eg Muller glia of the retina) can also produce neurons under particular conditions, these injections are one way to repair damaged tissues (eg cure people blinded by exposure to light/toxins/etc).

      These injections are going to be available (probably mostly for the very rich and those of us with functioning one-payer systems that don’t mind waiting a while) within the next few years- they may get here before the wheels come off capitalism for good, too. We’re in for strange times in the next few decades.

  4. David Lentini

    Mouse-Human Hybrid Brains

    Pinky and the Brain unavailable for comment.

    More seriously, without any real understanding of what human consciousness and intellect are, how are we supposed to make all of these correlations and inferences? Without a real standard to make an inference, we’re just creating lots of little Frankenstein’s monsters simply to marvel at our cleverness. I find this quite grotesque.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They will call you a Luddite and that’ll be the end of any decent conversation.

      “Resisting (technological) progress…another caveman.”


    2. Roger Bigod

      If you look at the fine print, the neurons and their arrangement are mouse. The human part is the glial cells, which provide mechanical and chemical support. They allow the mouse neurons to function better, at least under the conditions of one test of cognitive function. But the same might be true for any primate source.

      It’s a neat exploitation of essentialism. Because the source is human — and *brain* — some element of human essence is being infused, and worse, hybridized with mouse essence.

      There are serious ethical problems with hybrid creatures, and I recall a novel on the subject from the mid-20th
      Century. But it’s hype to call these altered mice “half-human”.

  5. timotheus

    Eric Garner demos were remarkable for the broad support expressed by drivers who got stuck in them. Did not see a single angry confrontation on 8th Avenue or the West Side Highway, which is highly unusual. White kids comprised at least 60% of the marchers, which is not a demographic you want to alienate permanently.

    1. fresno dan

      “Unfortunately for Garner, this will not help his family get justice as a Staten Island Grand Jury has decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo. This decision is really and truly baffling to me, and infuriating besides. I understand the vast majority of cops are good at their jobs and conscientious about protecting the civil rights of citizens. But there are without a doubt bad cops who make bad decisions and when they do so from a position of authority the damage they can do is exponentially worse.

      And the problem we have is that no one is practicing effective oversight in many cases with respect to who belongs in which camp. Just last year, Newsday ran a damning report about the police in New York in particular and the endemic misconduct over which virtually no oversight is conducted. If you read only one thing today, read this.”

      A portion of the far right has always had an antipathy toward police power. Red State is a more mainstream right site, and its expression of outrage about the verdict I think reflects a deep and broad “silent majority” in this country that is deeply disturbed by the lack of accountability of the police.
      Of course, a significant majority did care for the bank bailouts…
      The police – there to protect us….or there to suppress us?

      btw, here is the report mentioned – I guess I am just an innocent, but it truly is shocking.

      1. fresno dan

        I meant to type “A significant majority did NOT care for the bank bailouts!!!
        I have got to start proof reading better!!!

      2. dearieme

        Speaking as a foreigner, I’ve read enough to believe that “a deep and broad “silent majority” in this country that is deeply disturbed by the lack of accountability of the police” is probably right. But then why does the leftish media stir up trouble about such weak cases as Feguson and Trayvon Martin? Why not pick a strong case?

        I’ve seen speculation that the choice of the weak cases is deliberate. Because there’s a high probability that the policeman won’t be charged, there’s a better opportunity to cry out and foment rioting: more headlines for the media, more sales, more viewers, more clicks, and the political agenda is advanced. It seems far-fetched, but at least it’s compatible with the incentive structure in the media.

        1. voxhumana

          I realize you comment here a lot and probably deserve some mojo just for that, but personally I think you are usually wrong about almost everything you opine about. And the above comment is just ridiculous. Are the Brown and Martin cases ‘weak” because you say so, or because the prejudices of the conservative establishment whose flag you incessantly fly need to be defended when they are revealed in such a ghastly manner as the deaths of young black men at the hands of an out-of-control, racist and violent police state regardless of whether indictments result? Please explain to me what’s “weak” about them? Are they weak because the D.A. in Ferguson deliberately presented an out of date law to the jurors and then further obfuscated that fact at the last moment after Wilson, with the help of the killer cop friendly McCollough, had been allowed to exculpate himself with more prevarication in the form of uncontested testimony or because Trayvon Martin lives in a state that allows lethal aggression under the rubric of self defense? And you blame the “leftist media” without detailing which media you are referring to? Foment rioting? Give me a fucking break.

        2. hunkerdown

          Dear gods, where is it you hail from that US media looks “leftish”?

          And yes, that’s exactly what the Democratic Party (which, no mistake, is no more leftish than the German CDU) does: branding, in any sense you like.

          1. vidimi

            my guess is that the only western country where the population is to the right of the americans is the UK. england, to be precise.

        3. Working Class Nero

          I’ve been thinking the same thing. From a big picture political structure, ruling elites must have blacks and working/middle class whites in a state of constant tension against each other. This helps reinforce the current Identity lineups of the major parties: One group of ethnic and urban liberal whites splitting the bottom half by taking blacks, Mexicans, and a few oddball whites pitted against a party of Southern and Midwestern conservative whites in alliance with working class whites. Elections are decided at the wavering middle class white level.

          So we have two parties controlled by two segments of the elite who certainly agree amongst themselves on economic issues (make themselves ever richer and the expense of the rest) while there are real cultural differences. But they do everything they can to keep the plebs below them bickering among themselves pawns in the wealthy elite’s cultural battles. The last thing the elite want is blacks, Mexicans, and working class whites uniting against them and forming some sort of party that would be economically leftist but with right leaning values.

          So it is critical to find the most borderline ambiguous cases to fuel the fire of hate. The key is that whites must find the police action more or less justified while blacks find it a sign of racist police brutality. This exasperates tensions. Blacks have to run to their rich urban white supporters, who in return mockingly march in favor of the blacks they have ethnically cleansed from their gentrifying urban utopia. At the same time the police and working class whites are driven into the Faustian bargain with the Republicans of undying cultural support at the cost of accepting suicidal economical policies.

          Also with Ferguson there was a very on-the-ball activist who got things rolling quickly just after the shooting. He certainly thought had the best interests of his community in mind when he perhaps exaggerated things a bit. It’s very easy for me to insist on a decadent bourgeois adherence to the truth in my safe community.

          Recently there were two open and shut cases of police brutality that were intentionally ignored by the media because they did not further fit into a tension-exacerbating Narrative. One was a case in SC where a white cop pulled over a black motorist and demanded to see his driver’s license just as the man stepped out of his pick-up. The man immediately reached into his back pocket and when he realized nothing was in it he reached back into the truck, obviously to get his wallet. The idiot policeman opened fire on him but luckily the pick-up truck driver was not hurt. All this was on video. Last I heard the policeman was arrested and in my opinion he should be serving several years for that. Blacks and working class whites could all agree this cop was out of line and deserved jail since whites also often suffer from overzealous cops. But elite-controlled media doesn’t want those two groups agreeing.

          The other case was a black man in Florida who had been arrested 200 and something times over the past year. Initially the national media jumped all over this story. But then it came out that it was a black-run town, something like 90% black with the entire power structure black. There might have been a YT or two on the police force but not many. This case obviously did not fit any divisive Narrative (quite the contrary) and so it was quickly dropped.

          The problem is that blacks suffer much more from crime than white; depending on the category it can be at rates of 5-8 times higher in black communities.

          If we use a classic social structure of Rentier, Bourgeois, Proletariat, and Lumpen-Proletariat with the Bourgeois and Proletariat being productive value producers and Rentier and Lumpens being parasitic agents of value transfer (a polite way of say thieves), then within the black community we see a violent struggle between the black proletariat against the parasitic Lumpen thugs who are trying to steal from them. Proletarian blacks are more dependant on the police than any other group since they suffer so much crime. The problem is that the line between these two categories is not so clear. Was Michael Brown a Lumpen thug? He punched a cop and strong armed a liquor store. But on the other hand he graduated high school and maybe he was just having a really bad day or even had some undiagnosed mental issues. This ambiguity makes him the perfect vehicle for the Narrative because Blacks will see it one way and non-elite whites another. If Michael Brown had clearly been a stone-cold gang member then many blacks would not have shed a tear as they would have seen him as their enemy.

          One other potential factor is that cops are one of the last unionised blue collar jobs where, without a college degree, pay and benefits are quite good. Our ruling elite, be they urban and ethnic liberal whites or Southern or Midwestern conservative whites really don’t like this model. The problem is that cops are somewhat immune from Globalization, you cannot offshore them and it is kinda tricky to H1-B them or replace them with low-paid illegal immigrants. So they will eventually get “chartered schooled” and replaced with privatized glorified security guards at one third the total cost. This process has already begun in Detroit. Just like schools got put into private hands because racist teachers were blamed for the “Achievement Gap”, private corporations will be presented as the solution to the current Racist Cop Gone Wild hysteria. Each one of these media driven scandals slowly undermines public sympathy for police.

          And of course violent, over-the-top, abusive police behaviour caught on video is not helping their case either. But as we always say about black criminals, these bad cops are a minority. It will be a shame if because of these bad apples the entire police force gets privatized and pauperised.

          1. TimR

            Right on..! Great points, I largely agree with this.

            This is key especially:
            So it is critical to find the most borderline ambiguous cases to fuel the fire of hate. The key is that whites must find the police action more or less justified while blacks find it a sign of racist police brutality. This exasperates tensions.

            This explains why both Trayvon Martin and Brown were selected to be made major news stories. Most big media stories are selective theatre and psy-ops on the public. Not just the selection; also the way they played out, feels like it was intentionally manipulated to inflame tensions. Initially the story appears one way, the black community gets emotionally invested, now you flip the story; they can’t accept the new info, due to emotional commitment to the first narrative. Fan the flames…

            Divide & Conquer, I suppose. John Rappoport has written pieces about Ferguson, from this perspective, on his blog.

            Interesting point about the unique position of the police, and elite plans for them.

          2. Oregoncharles

            The trouble is that white lefties (like me) don’t see either case (let alone Garner) as “boirderline.” Both are very clear cases of police abuse – except that Zimmerman was a wannabe, making it even worse. I see a direct personal threat: an encroaching police state practicing on the least powerful – in this case, blacks (who are most but NOT ALL of the victims). They can, and will transfer their usurped powers to inconvenient politicals, of any race.

            The rest of your analysis makes an ugly sort of sense. Just incorporate the advancing police state (headed, for the moment, by The First Black President), and we’ll be on the same page.

    2. lulu

      “You may protest in words as much as you like. There is but one condition attached to the freedom we would very much like to encourage: Your protests may be as loud as possible as long as they remain ineffective. … Any attempt by you to remove your oppressors by force is a threat to civilized society and the democratic process. … As you resort to force, we will, if need be, wipe you from the face of the earth by the measured response that rains down flame from the skies.”
      – Barrington Moore 1968

      from Chomsky: Elites Have Forced America into a National Psychosis to Keep Us Embroiled in Imperial Wars at Alternet

      1. abynormal

        ive read that quote years ago and it reminded me of this one…

        “That wasn’t any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.”

        Stephen King, The Stand

  6. BobW

    Great comment by concussedx11 (Dec 4th, 07:36) in “Why So Glum” Economist link. Partial quote:

    “America when seen as the Corporation it has become:
    Board of Director’s: Wall Street (Particularly global financials such as GS, JPM, BAC, etc.)
    CEO: The Fed
    CFO: The Fed Board of Governors in cooperation with the Treasury Dept.
    COO: The Federal Government & it’s corporately captured regulatory agencies
    Corporate Security: NSA, CIA, HSA, FBI, etc.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Go to Marketwatch and read all about China surpassing the US as number one in GDP.

      For the imperial adventurists, it’s GDP.

      For the average Joe, it’s GDP per capita.

      That’s why Chinese are migrating to tiny countries like Switzerland (or try to).

      But if you are the local Alpha Male, the total GDP is what will get you invited to the top summits of the world….nice food, silverware, all the pump and circumstance.

      GDP – just another lie your economic professor told you.

      1. hunkerdown

        According to Graeber, the measure of a man’s honor in heroic societies is how many people he can subjugate.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe it’s unknown to Graeber, but it still works the same in our un-heroic society today

          A billionaire’s worth and honor depend on it.

  7. ProNewerDeal

    Yves & Commenters,

    Has there been any clarification on the ACA individual mandate? Say that a Person X is subject to the Individual Mandate Fee for calendar 2014, & did not withhold enough taxes such that when X files taxes in say Feb 2015, they need to write a check to pay taxes, as opposed to getting a refund check, from which the Individual Mandate Fee would be garnished.

    I have read both scenarios, do you know which scenario is correct?

    A. the situation is closed, & X does not have to worry about paying the 2014 Individual Mandate Fee in future years


    B. IF person X received a tax return refund in a future tax year in 2015 or later, THEN that refund will be garnished for the 2014 Individual Mandate Fee, compounded with interest (at the CPI inflation rate?) &/or late payment penalty fees.

    It seems with the ACA the Obama Exec branch/HHS quietly randomly changes some of the rules, so I suppose there is also the problem of whatever the “correct answer is, A or B” now in Dec 2014, it may not be the same answer in tax-filing time in Feb 2015 or Feb 2016 (etc.)

    1. abynormal

      i was wondering the same quagmire last night…dam nightmare

      Reporting Coverage or Exemptions or Making Payments

      25. Will I have to do something on my federal income tax return to show that I had coverage or an exemption?

      The individual shared responsibility provision went into effect for 2014. You will not have to account for coverage or exemptions or to make any payments until you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015. Information will be made available later about how the income tax return will take account of coverage and exemptions. Insurers will be required to provide everyone that they cover each year with information that will help them demonstrate they had coverage beginning with the 2015 tax year.

      26. What happens if I do not have minimum essential coverage or an exemption, and I cannot afford to make the shared responsibility payment when filing my tax return?

      The IRS routinely works with taxpayers who owe amounts they cannot afford to pay. The law prohibits the IRS from using liens or levies to collect any individual shared responsibility payment. However, if you owe a shared responsibility payment, the IRS may offset that liability against any tax refund that may be due to you.

      “We’ll try to cooperate fully with the IRS, because, as citizens, we feel a strong patriotic duty not to go to jail.”…even if we can’t MAKE IT UP AS WE GO

      1. ProNewerDeal

        abynormal, love your classic quote there at the end! If you find out anything, let us know.

        Big Biz cries about Uncertainty, & the pols parrot the Crying/Talking Points. Notice 0bama delayed the Employer Mandate, while 0bama is brutal in enforcing the Individual Mandate.

        Big Biz & Big Whore-ly Owned Poli-trick-ians keep drowning we 99%ers in Uncertainty.

        1. abynormal

          experience tells me it’ll go the way they can extract the most compounded interest

          just kill me now

    2. Oregoncharles

      I still think the Mandate is a perfect opportunity for mass civil resistance (don’t pay, and don’t pay the penalty, either). The limitations on the IRS complicate it, though.

      And I’m not in a position to push the idea, because I’m already on Medic are.

      I suspect it will happen spontaneously. Alot of people just won’t comply.

      1. Lambert Strether

        No, the mandate simplifies it. IIRC (and I’m a layperson on tax) the IRS can’t put a lien on your income for the mandate if you refuse to pay it. It seems designed to enable tax resistance, which I thought at least the right of the right was all about, yet nada. Perplexing or kayfabe, your choice…

        1. John Zelnicker

          Right, Lambert, they cannot place a lien on your income.

          The right doesn’t care about this because it won’t affect them. They mostly have either employer coverage or some other qualifying policy or they have an exemption. It’s mostly only going to hit those who can’t afford it.

          And, it’s not a tax (according to SCOTUS and John Gruber), so no “tax resistance” is possible. :-(

    3. curlydan

      The should answer your question:

      In particular:
      What happens if I don’t pay the fee?
      The IRS will hold back the amount of the fee from any future tax refunds. There are no liens, levies, or criminal penalties for failing to pay the fee.
      If you or someone you know is in this situation, please try to get an exemption. The list of exemptions is LONG and a lot of people will find a spot for themselves among the exemptions (e.g. one of the exemptions is that your utilities got cut off). Also, if you earned less than the minimum income required to file, you don’t file and you don’t pay the fee (in effect, it’s an exemption, too).

    4. John Zelnicker

      I’m an Enrolled Agent with my own tax practice as well as working for TurboTax as a Tax Expert. (All opinions here are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions or position of my employer.)

      The penalty for not having qualifying coverage or an exemption will be added to a taxpayer’s tax liability. If they have a balance due on the “bottom line” of their tax return, most people will write a check to include the penalty. If they would otherwise be due a refund it will be reduced by the penalty. If they write a check for only the tax portion they owe, the unpaid penalty can be deducted from any future refund that might be due them. This amount will increase by an interest rate that is already determined quarterly for any tax amounts due the IRS (lately it has been 3% per annum). However, no other charges or penalties can be added. In addition, the IRS cannot proceed with any other collection activities to collect the unpaid ACA penalty and interest. They also cannot place a levy against any kind of property to collect this money. Future overpayment of taxes is the only way they can collect it.

  8. David Lentini

    Losing Faith in Democracy? Can You Lose What You Haven’t Had For Generations?

    Pillar’s article is a good response to what appears to be a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning. But I also smell some thinly sliced salami of a rebuttal based on rather fine distinctions.

    I agree that our lack of interest and growing dissatisfaction with the democratic process is not the result of the structural changes in the Executive Branch made by Truman (most noably NSC 68). Confusing the structures of government that are being abused through a lack of voter participation that allows the abusers access to power, with the cause of the voter apathy, is a mistake. But it’s also not that simple, either.

    Americans have never had much interest in the rest of the world; that’s why we’re always so gullible when it comes to propaganda that portrays the world as full of villains, victims, and crusades. Since we know so little about the realities of other cultures and history, we are prone to falling for simplistic morality tales by those who want to encourage or hide some foreign adventure. Given our cultural heritage then, it’s not surprising that when it comes to foreign policy Americans have little incentive to vote.

    What the rise of the security state, the so-called “Trumanite network”, really did was add another layer of “expertise” on top of US policy that further distanced voters from their government by robbing the voters of confidence in their votes. But the alienation of voters from the government was also happening with the use of so-called experts over domestic policies and the post-war consumer culture that emphasized compartmentalization of social functions and the atomization of citizens. Simply put, Americans have been pushed aside as too ignorant to be competent voters, and are nothing but fodder for PR campaigns to endorse candidates pushing policies and legislation that are produced in think thanks and universities.

    Christopher Lasch’s writings on US cultural history are very enlightening on these points. He points to the rise of a culture of expertise in the latter 19th Century that slowly began to erode the general self-confidence of Americans to manage their own affairs. By the end of the Progressive movement, Americans were under constant assault from self-proclaimed experts pushing bromides of advice and warnings of doom. In government this became rooted domestically in the New Deal and in foreign policy with the rise of the military-industrial complex. Serious public debate became impossible when each side produced more and more cargo-cult science to support their claims as somehow infallible.

    So, the “Trumanites” were thus more a symptom than a cause. But once these hidden power structures are in place, they are there for the looting.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      Arguably Americans’ votes counted for less back in the days when party block wardens and ward heelers coerced votes or bought them with hogsheads of rum. But I think people thought they were at least getting something in exchange. Nowadays we don’t even get Election Day off.

    2. andyb

      I lost faith when I was able, after combat service, to connect the dots of the Kennedy assassination. When it was finally revealed about JFK’s brain blowout to the left rear, I knew that Oswald’s supposed trajectory shot from behind the presidential limo, was bogus. The kill shot had to be fired from IN FRONT OF Kennedy (grassy knoll?)

      1. vidimi

        an australian reporter was able to demonstrate pretty convincingly in a recent UK documentary that the fatal shot was fired by a secret service agent from the car behind the presidential limo. the documentary even showed copious evidence of the coverup that ensued, including secret service intimidation of the surgeons performing the autopsy and other witnesses.
        but then, at the end, they inexplicably conclude that it was an accident.

        perhaps that is all they could get away with without incurring too much wrath from the powers that be and created a cop-out conclusion so that viewers, in light of all the presented evidence, can draw their own conclusions.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Largest upward transfer of wealth in world history orchestrated by looters who are not just walking the streets but in executive desks, and we natter on about long-ago hairballs that will never be resolved, that being the nature of hairballs. We all need hobbies, I guess…

          1. Gaianne

            So, Lambert, we should believe fake history then?

            At this point, I know full well I will never learn what happened. But, knowing the laws of physics, I do know full well what did not happen.

            Why does the American “left” insist on believing delusions? After 40 years of utter failure and total defeat you would think we would learn, that we would reassess our models of reality and our strategy and tactics, with a view toward greater success. But we don’t.

            When will we be ready to confront the obvious?


    3. cripes

      David lentini: thats about right, though edward bernays and walter lippman were well along this path by 1925. And what remained of american tradition of public debate in policy went up in smoke in the aftermath of WWII and trumans legacy.
      What’s hysterical is the persistance of the claim that voters are to blame for all of this.

    4. Jim

      Glennon, who is a professor of International Law at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, has argued, quite persuasively, that the public believes that the constitutionally-established institutions control national security policy.

      He maintains that this view is mistaken and argues that judicial review is negligible, congressional oversight is dysfunctional and presidential control nominal. He identifies,for example, numerous high and mid-level national security officials who, he believes, account, for the continuity in foreign policy between the Bush and Obama administrations.(see footnote 28 in his paper “National Security and Double Government,” where he specifies about 20 of theses individuals).

      Pillar ( who is a former CIA official) would certainly seem to have a bias towards the importance of discrediting any argument which indicates that a tight-knit national security culture (which includes the CIA) largely runs national security policy largely independent of Congress, the Courts and the Presidency.

      Again, the issue of the nature of our modern state(which we have begun to discuss) needs to be continually examined and debated–especially in order to begin to formulate potential alternative State structures.

      David, the issue of experts and the modern State is, indeed, another area that demands close analysis and discussion in order to judge whether traditional Big State alternatives(with all of their so-called experts) only magnify the problem of voter alienation and apathy.

      1. davidgmillsd

        Ya think he might have a bias? Nah. I am sure his analysis was on the up and up because he had the neocons to blame. Who could blame him for blaming neocons?

  9. Jim Haygood

    Will stock touter Jim Cramer get fired from his own company, the way Steve Jobs did?

    J. Carlo Cannell, whose hedge fund is the second-largest shareholder in TheStreet, thinks he knows why [TheStreet has declined in value]: Cramer is spending too much time at his other job on CNBC, the business news network where he hosts “Mad Money.”

    “You are simultaneously an employee of CNBC and a director, major shareholder and employee of TST,” Cannell wrote in a letter to Cramer yesterday, referring to TheStreet by its stock ticker. “To which entity do you ascribe your greater allegiance?”

    To resolve this conflict, Cannell is urging Cramer to do one of two things, either pursue a sale of TheStreet or quit CNBC. The missive was disclosed in an SEC filing yesterday by Cannell Capital LLC.

    The letter is as provocative as Cramer can be on TV.

    “Resign from CNBC and align your considerable energy and talents to helping your fellow shareholders crawl back from Hades,” Cannell wrote.


    Cannell went on to write:

    ‘You are a large shareholder. You have already extracted more than 14 million dollars from TST. When you lie upon your deathbed, how will you reflect upon your legacy? Once a $70 stock, TST is now $2.20. You have done well, but how has the common shareholder done?’


    Expecting shame from a sociopath is like lecturing a dog not to mark its territory with urine. It produces no change in behavior, and only confuses the dog.

    1. hunkerdown

      Geez, Cannell, did you forget this is America, and the only thing to do in America is to hustle, sell, and lie your way upward? How’s a man supposed to do that without a soundboard and a TV show? Geez.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Black Wednesday:

    It took $1.99 and about four hours for the gas war to break out in Oklahoma City.

    A month-old station in the Oklahoma capital yesterday became the first in the U.S. to sell regular gasoline for less than $2 a gallon since the recent crude oil nosedive began, according to data collected by GasBuddy Organization Inc. Cars lined up three-deep at the OnCue on Shields Boulevard — and by 4 p.m., the 44 Food Mart down the street had countered with $1.98.

    Other nearby competitors started chiseling pennies away too. After sunset, seven miles away in the suburb of Moore, the Broadway Food Mart had them all beat at $1.95.

    Let’s roll!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It costs something like $2/barrel to extract oil in Saudi Arabia.

      Perhaps we will see gas at $0.40/gallon in no time at all.

      “I might have sold my hummer too soon…”


  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Freedom rider: Ferguson’s reckoning…..

    Trickle down economics doesn’t work.

    Trickle down equality doesn’t work. Oh, bummer…

    Trickle down money creation doesn’t work.

    Money is power.

    When we institute Constitutional Money Power to the People, money, power and equality will spring from the ground up.

    That’s how everything is connected.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Here is the interesting part, courtesy of Wiki:

        It expresses the principle of federalism, which undergirds the entire plan of the original Constitution, by stating that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the states or the people.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And Congress to coin money, though the Constitution does not say the money is for the government to spend, thus reserving it for the People (or the states).

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Data…resurgent economy. Wages continue to lag.

    No mystery there. Economics was developed to be useful from the perspective of Big Aristocrats then, Big Corporations now. The conventional unemployment numbers are not about worker misery, but how many willing serfs are still left in the pool for them to hire, so they would know when wage pressure will come.

    Another lie your economic professor* told you.

    * Today’s ‘picking on your economic professor day.

  13. Local to Oakland

    Thanks for the Consumerist article. The Fair Debt Collection Practices act is an extremely effective legal tool against bad acts by debt collectors. It also provides for attorneys fees as part of damages.

  14. fresno dan

    “I have to take some issue with Ezra Klein in his criticisms of Chris Rock. Ezra is upset with Rock’s suggestion that Obama would have been best off letting the financial industry and the auto companies collapse, and then picking up the pieces. Rock argued that Obama would have gotten more credit from this path than he is getting now for having bailed out firms and effectively muddled along.
    Let’s assume that President Obama let the market work its magic and sink Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and the other Wall Street behemoths that were tottering at the time. It is undoubtedly true that the initial downturn would have been worse. A paper by Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder estimated that a financial collapse, with no offsetting fiscal or monetary response, would have raised the unemployment rate to 15 percent.

    But then what? The Zandi and Blinder paper has a prolonged period of double-digit unemployment because there is no fiscal or monetary response. But why in the world would there be no fiscal or monetary response? Would Ben Bernanke be sitting around at the Fed celebrating the fact that inflation is under control?
    In short, the Second Great Depression story rests on an absurd counter-factual where for some reason the people in positions of authority would just sit on their hands as tens of millions of people were out work. We have never seen anything like this in the post-war period. (The first stimulus was signed by President George W. Bush when the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent.)”

    I was looking at a scenario of “what if” – what if the Presidential inauguration still occurred in March? The situation (great recession) would have been so much worse, and so much more obviously the fault (yes, its obviously to NC readers, but to the average voter) of the Bush administration.
    Of course, that presumes that the dems would have stuck it to the banks if they had had the chance – when in fact they probably would have spent even more trillions trying to save them….

    1. different clue

      I believe Chris Rock also said let GM sink as well. (And Chrysler too I suppose). Would that have led to immediate bankruptcy for thousands of suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers and so on? The near instant jobicide of 3 million jobs? The shuttering of the EuroJapanese transplants in America as the supplier network they too depend on went down with GM/Chrysler? The needless bankruptcy of Ford for the same reason? I don’t know.
      But I remember reading that the executives of the EuroJapanese transplants and Ford said in Congressional hearings that it would. Perhaps Chris Rock hasn’t thought about that difference between actual thingmaking companies in an intro-depression as against the financialist companies who engineered the depression. The gain from exterminating Goldman Sachs and all the others would have made the pain worth it. I can’t imagine any equal gain from the pain of exterminating the MidWestern/MidSouthern industrial thingmaking ecosystem.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Breaking them up would have been a very good thing, though, espeically GM. They could have been kept operating in the meantime – not that people were buying many cars right then.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Midwest would regain a mastery over their future without the tyranny of Wall Street. The locals would find a use for the factories without the aid of mbas and other vaunted job creators.

  15. Kevin Hall

    Today I heard Representative Peter King make these comments about Eric Garner:

    “The police had no reason to know he was in serious condition,” King said. “You had a 350-pound person who was resisting arrest. The police were trying to bring him down as quickly as possible. If he had not had asthma and a heart condition and was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died.”


    “People were saying that he said seven times, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But if you can’t breathe, you can’t talk,” King said. “So police hear that all the time.”


    The most obvious problem with that last argument is that the man was not sitting in a jail cell afterwards but was resting in peace at the coroner’s office. To come out with a defense of the police actions like this more than four months after Mr. Garner’s death…… well, it doesn’t speak well of Rep. King’s competency to hold public office.

  16. William C

    Thank you for the reading list. There’s my holiday reading for me!

    They are right about ECONNED – a great book.

    I think I might put Adam Smith in as heterodox reading. Having finally read the Wealth of Nations, it struck me as far less ‘orthodox’ than it is made out to be by later writers.

  17. mundanomaniac

    To *Washington from my astrological window for the current 7 months

    This Place inherits for these 7 years as ASC the burden of the “aggressor” Mars, blindly as no other god (in Mars appears the ruler of birth (house 1). As you know, many animals are still physical blind while appearing in the house of birth.)
    Therefore the last seven months having been ruled by Saturn the ruler of restriction in the cusp of the sixth house, meaning blindness in the opportunity of opportunities giving birth to what it doesn’t know and to something that needs an blind opener for the placenta of fate.

    On it’s way to satisfaction or relaxation (DC in Libra) it now, for the current 14 months, has to stick to the symbolism of Sagittarius meaning to the symbolism of the funnels wide edge, in the zodiak the edge of intuition comprising the whole circle of the world — and the ruler of this edge, Jupiter is in house 12, meaning: back into a complete resolution and newbirth in the bath of the creator

  18. susan the other

    Depressing. Is it seasonal affective disorder or is it real? The Economist on Why So Glum? almost buried the lead. It should have added, Because things are grim. And Wolf Richter on junk bonds. I haven’t seen an upbeat piece of news in a long time. It is noteworthy that our economy has been unable to provide either democracy or equality let alone justice. When we have gutted all the laws, regulations and procedures that made us a nation how do we create a new system that works? We can’t prosecute anyone for fraud because fraud is the only system we’ve got left. I need drugs.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Who said SAD wasn’t real? Even in terms of “animal spirits,” “confidence,” and so forth. My animal spirit wants to hibernate, and I bet I’m not the only one.

      1. different clue

        Mankind did used to be a tropical savannah primate, where the sun was often strong and the days didn’t change length radically around the year.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Bad! I like winter. I can go outside in the middle of the day. I don’t feel compelled to wear sunglasses all day, and there is no weeding.

          1. Vatch

            Interesting. I think I might wear sunglasses more in the wintertime that in summer. The white snow reflects a lot of very bright light, and since the sun is lower in the sky, I’m more likely to be focusing my eyes in its direction.

  19. ChrisPacific

    From the JPMorgan article, quote by Senator Carl Levin:

    “There’s two things that I find incredible about this. First, that anyone would advertise in a resume that they know about a flaw in the system — signaling that they’re ready and willing to exploit that flaw. And, second, that somebody would hire the person sending that signal.”

    He is either being naive or disingenuous. Has he not read Liar’s Poker or pretty much any of the other descriptions of Wall Street culture out there? This kind of thing is their business model.

    1. Ulysses

      Apologies if this Onion gem was already posted:,37586/

      “President Obama made an impassioned appeal this week, calling for the installation of turret-mounted video cameras on all police tanks. “This initiative will ensure that police officers across the country will be held accountable for their actions as they pour out of an 18-ton combat vehicle in response to a routine call,” said Obama, who announced a detailed plan to allocate funding to equip every single armored personnel carrier, landmine-resistant SWAT van, and battle-ready half-track with an onboard camcorder to monitor police conduct….”

  20. Howard Beale IV

    Someone used my home address to sign up for my state version of Obama-care and the extended version. They qualified for the base coverage but failed for the extended version.

    The fact they qualified based on my home address has me seriously spooked as the name used doesn’t match with the property tax records.

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