Links 12/6/14

Sea Lion Trained in Kaliningrad to Gargle for Health Moscow Times (furzy mouse)

A Common Logic to Seeing Cats and Cosmos Quanta

Nobel medal for DNA discovery brings more than $4.7 million at auction Reuters (EM)

Uber launches in Portland, Oregon despite being completely illegal there Verge

We May Have Reached The ‘Apocalyptic Scenario’ With Antibiotics Business Insider (David L)

CDC’s flu warning raises questions about vaccine match CIDRAP

Toiletry chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility cost EU millions, report says Guardian (martha r)

No climate-change deniers to be found in the reinsurance business Globe and Mail

China defends Confucius Institute after new doubts in U.S Reuters. EM: “LOL, ‘established by universities voluntarily’. All it takes is for sufficiently many of the Uni’s oh-so-bribable-with-the-lure-of-money ‘deciderers’ to ‘volunteer’ a chunk of academic freedom in exchange.”

Draghi’s authority drains away as half ECB board joins mutiny Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

German state elects reform communist leader in historic shift Reuters

U.S. mulls harsher action against settlement construction Haaretz (furzy mouse)


Ukraine Finances Deteriorate Wall Street Journal

Russian bond yield rockets to five-year high Financial Times


The War Nerd: Murder on the Orientalist Express Pando

ISIS Sanctuary Map: December 5, 2014 Institute for the Study of War

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide Intercept

Surprise! UK court defends NSA and GCHQ surveillance and data-sharing Pando (furzy mouse)

Antivirus Companies Should Be More Open About Their Government Malware Discoveries MIT Technology Review (David L)

Sen. Ron Wyden tells the FBI to stop forcing backdoors into tech products Pando (furzy mouse)


The Bad Design of Health Care Exchanges Will Cost People Billions Jon Walker, Firedoglake

Feds to Employers: You Can’t Dump Sick Workers Onto Obamacare BusinessWeek

Beshear, Schmidt to help Democrats review midterms Associated Press. MS: “Google officially running the Democratic Party”

Missouri AG confirms Michael Brown grand jury misled by St. Louis DA Daily Kos

Ghetto policing spreads to US suburbs Financial Times

New guidelines to allow profiling in border stops Associated Press

California drought the worst in 1,200 years, new study says San Jose Mercury News (EM)

JPMorgan CEO Dimon says he is free of cancer Associated Press Chuck L: “Physically, maybe so. Morally? Not so much.”

Assessing the fallout from the fall in oil prices Reuters

Leniency expected from oil lenders Financial Times

U.S. small business borrowing rises to highest on record: PayNet Reuters

The Rise and Fall of Debate in Economics Joe Francis

‘Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism?’: An Exchange New York Review of Books

Class Warfare

Anger in France over city’s plan for ‘Nazi style’ badges for the homeless National Post

Workers hit the streets across US in growing minimum wage fight Aljazeera

Hypereducated and on Welfare Elle (martha r)

War by Media and the Triumph of Propaganda Counterpunch

Antidote du jour. Martha r’s Jesse, who will be coming home in three weeks:

jesse links

And a bonus! A swimming owl:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. abynormal

    Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism?…which one will annihilate us first??

    “A long time from now will be now really soon.”

    1. Massinissa

      My money is actually on Door Number 3, Resource Limits, which will trigger a capitalist breakdown.

      Might even be before the worst of climate change kicks in.

      1. Benedict@Large

        The notion that resource limits will cure capitalism is nonsense. Capitalism depends entirely on scarcity. If anything, resource limits will lead to a hyper-capitalism, that is, if they don’t lead to world war first. Then again, maybe hyper-capitalism is world war.

        1. Massinissa

          Capitalism cant exist without fossil fuels. End of story. When we run out of fossil fuels, currently existing capitalism will collapse.

          Anyway, theres no ‘cure’ for capitalism and I never said there was.

          As for Hyper-Capitalism = World War, Lenin would sort of agree. He thought Imperialism was a natural evolution of capitalism.

        2. OIFVet

          “Capitalism depends entirely on scarcity.”

          And cruelty. Or is cruelty just an added feature thrown in for the enjoyment of the capitalists? Chicken farmer who spoke out about factory farm abuses immediately audited by Perdue Dunno, one will be hard-pressed to argue that the industrial “food” system is built on a foundation of scarcity. Cruelty, OTOH, seems to be an inseparable part of it. It is aimed against all creatures, human and other animals alike.

    1. different clue

      One hopes that there is a “humane chicken” movement with enough members and enough organization to where they could all spring into action at various levels to guide this farmer into viably producing “humane chicken” at the necessarily higher costs into a knowledgeable customer base ready to pay the necessarily higher price for “humane chicken”. If this farmer could be successfully transitioned over into a Clean Break with Purdue, and Full Independence therefrom; this farmer would emerge as living proof that it can be done. Here is a case where enough co-ordinated and organized individual actions can indeed achieve a collective trans-individual result.

      Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

  2. Banger

    I was going to comment on Climate Change and Capitalism–but that went out of my mind when I read John Pilger’s brilliant piece in Counterpunch and should be labelled a “must read” not because it explores new territory but because it is a passionate mini-jeremiad against the mainstream media. Underneath what he is talking about is the mechanism of the state.

    The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

    While I believe there are many parts of the Deep State (sorry Lambert–but I give my definition here as a network not a hierarchical “state” as you want to paint it but functioning as a virtual state) the pointed end of that State is the world of propaganda modeled on the ideas of Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann. I have had exposure to that part of the State and know how it functions and shapes the ideas we live with. Pilger gets it right because he knows it and the people in it more intimately than I do and comes to the same conclusions.

    If we look at the mainstream media we see that it has the function of a Church. It shapes the myths and conceptual frameworks we live under. It was interesting to see exactly the same sort of mechanism at work in the Ukraine crisis as operated in the lead-up of the Iraq War where senior members of the media still claim that “everyone” knew that Saddam had WMDs and he was threat. Well who is “everyone”? Having spent most of my life in the world of Washington I know who “everyone” is and even been to parties where “everyone” agrees and manufactures reality. How does it work? It works as a neural net. To put it crudely–those people who are most connected are most listened to by others who seek to be connected to them–thus journos are attuned to what is currently fashionable in Washington among the well-connected. Now all this is fortified by a long-standing ideology at the heart of journalism (American Exceptionalism) that all young journos must genuflect to on all occasions–you can see the elaborate genuflecting movements on the hypocrites over at MSNBC and the myth of “objectivity” which means only that journalists abandon their sense of the truth from ideology and from the sense of what is “said” in Washington, i.e. “Washington Conventional Wisdom” (WCW).

    This process is repeated on down the line at all levels, lowbrow, middlebrow, highbrow media outlets–the decline of the New York Review of Books would be an illustration of how highbrow culture has been invaded. Now, increasingly, this debasement of intellectual rigor has, for somewhat different reasons, invaded academia as well–but that’s another story.

    Anything that comes out of the MSM is false–even when it’s true (my favorite saying). I have come to that conclusion based on half a century of reading and intense scrutiny and, as bad as it was back in the days of the Vietnam War it is worse today, in part because the use of language and dialectic has been radically debased.

    If we want to oppose the State we must always start with opposing the MSM. The War Party exists because of the MSM. While the Wall Street banksters are criminals–they are honest criminals–their function is to suck money out of the system and they are relatively open about it. We need to attack the priests who lurk in our midst and question those that present the unexamined assumptions promulgated by our corrupt Church (MSM).

    As for climate change–the MSM has dutifully reported the finding of panel after panel but then ignored the issue and, in particular, ignored methods that have been proposed to get from a carbon addicted society to something more elegant–in fact, one of the clear enemies of the MSM and the State as a whole is the idea of elegance. Think about it.

    1. lambert strether

      Oh, your own personal, metaphorical, shape-shifting, private Idaho “deep state,” as opposed to the deep state of the guy who invented the term and wrote several books about it. Wev.

      And if using Scott’s own glossary to show the contradictions, gaps, and weird outcomes of how he defines the term be “painting,” I cheerfully plead guilty.

      1. lightningclap

        While he did coin the phrase, I think PD Scott is not the best source for an accurate depiction of the “Deep State”. Much like any topic discussed here, one can form an idea of its definition through absorbing info from multiple sources to draw one’s own conclusions. I haven’t found any one source I could point to that would well-represent my own idea of it.
        I am glad there is open debate here on this topic. Banger adds excellent points that resonate with my own constantly-evolving views. When Lambert dismisses such ideas as “hairballs”, “CT”, etc. I find it a bit offensive, but I rarely chime in since I am not ready with a quick, pithy description of my own.
        The events of 11/63 and 9/11 are good starting points, but there is soooo much “noise” and disinformation, it takes years to try to wade through everything. Any one of the sources I have relied on I can’t agree with 100%.

        Banger’s description of the “inside the beltway” thought infecting the MSM stenographers seems accurate; and crapification has weakened the ability of any real reporters actually investigating stories.

        On an unrelated note, here’s a blast from the past re: the falling price of oil:

        Familyman & Carlton Barrett. the best IMO.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Nobody said you couldn’t. It’s just when you hijack another author’s virulently mimetic term, that he himself has defined, and then redefine by adding an epicycle or three, that one objects.

          I mean, if I decided to take, say, “federalism” and redefined it, and then used it constantly and in such a way that people were led to confuse it with federalism as described in the The Federalist Papers, that would be both wrong and unserious, whether I “want to” or not.

          Or suppose I had a private definition of private equity that involved a spiritual element, and then used it in the same context as a real post on private equity. Same deal.

          1. hunkerdown

            For real, Lambert. Next, let’s take care of that term “democracy”, which seems in need of a bit stronger treatment than the likes of Inigo Montoya can provide.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          This is the exact same process used to make word like “liberal” useless in political discourse. I’m a big believer in the Confucian idea that giving things their proper names is the beginning of wisdom. You assigning things pet names is agnotology. I’m not a fan and Lambert is correct to oppose it.

          More generally, your “Deep State” has in the end amounted to “TBTB have super powers and connections” and we therefore might as well give up. I’m also opposed to the defeatism and nihilism implicit in your position. The people in government and elite positions are people. They have prejudices, make mistakes, and most important, fight amongst themselves for position and influence. They are not a unitary force and can be moved and defeated by determined opposition. What we lack is determined opposition.

          1. Jim

            It would be extremely worthwhile, from my perspective, to get into a discussion about naming since I believe that the issue of naming is tied up with different conceptions of the State.

            Starting us off:
            Hume said the following “If ideas be particular in their names and at the same time finite in their numbers, tis only by custom they can become general in their representation, and contain an infinite number of other ideas under them.”

            I interpret Hume as meaning that custom “arbitrarily” seals off infinite possibilities of association and linkage between words and things.

            What is the Confucian perspective on custom and language?

      2. different clue

        Lambert Strether,

        Rectification of the language is always a good thing. I tried struggling through your article and the comments on rectificating the term “Deep State” and I found it hard to follow and understand. I gather that “Deep State” was considered more a poetical term for conveying a feeling about what is being discussed or named thereby than a precise term for accurate political analysis. But sometimes a poetical reality-conveyance word is the best we can do. We can try and make it better and better.
        Colonel R. Fletcher Prouty wrote a book called The Secret Team which I only just barely skimmed once. It was about bunches of entrenched dug-in people who had wormed their way up and into various levels of various federal agencies and departments and could co-operate with eachother on projects outside the proper scope of lawful action . . . projects such as killing Kennedy, King and Kennedy. So perhaps we could speak of the Deep Secret-Team State.

        If one is going to require the Rectification of language in all cases, one must bear the pain of being consistent enough to require the Rectification of language in ALL-all cases, without exception. “Ammosexual” is just as poetic and imprecise as Deep State. Is it any the less useful or legitimate as a poetic pointer to the problem being pointed at? Can we make “ammosexual” any more precise than we would like to make “Deep State”?

        1. hunkerdown

          You could call that the deep state, just as the Democratic Party calls themselves “the left” (gaslighting much?), but where’s the insight to be found in that, if they’re not in fact deep, they’re not in fact a permanent state, and the phenomenon/structure can manifest equally well in hierarchical organizations that aren’t in fact states and bear little or no resemblance thereto? Why not, say, my personal fave, the “shadow elite“, which refers correctly to a well-characterized *dynamic* at play, rather than its present, semi-disposable manifestation; neatly reflects both the lack of official portfolio in their actions and their prominence in other roles; and can be translated with little modification to any human endeavor where absentee ownership is involved?

          1. Jackrabbit

            In reporting on foreign affairs don’t we see descriptions like “undemocratic elements” for much the same thing as “Deep State”?

    2. James

      Resisting the MSM and the Deep State turns out to be as easy as it is hard. You simply have to stop interacting with it altogether. Disconnect the TV, the internet, and the cell phone, and assume any stray gossip you hear from acquaintances, especially if it’s hysterical pro-US nonsense, was generated by same. MSM tropes are packaged as subliminal wallpaper now, meant mostly to generate a general climate of hysteria and fear among the sheep. Taken on their own individually, most incidents reported by the MSM would prompt incredulity and/or outrage, but combined in their typical non-stop drumbeat pattern they instil the sense of helplessness and passivity in the gen pop that we see so pervasive today. Although I still don’t think any of this absolves “we the peeps” from our part in all of this. Granted, the inverted totalitarian state we live in exerts one helluva lot of force and it does so quite ingeniously, but for the most part, unless you’re black or minority, it for the most part ain’t coming at you with brute force – yet. Not that the same ain’t in store for all of us soon enough if we don’t learn to resist it now. In that sense, Nazi State 2.0 is using the same timeless technique Nazi State 1.0 worked out before them: divide and conquer. Divide the gen pop into tidy little “special interest groups,” then pick them off easily one by one, knowing full well they’ll all defend their own little sphere of influence rather than come to the aid of one another.

      They came for the blacks and the minorities, but I wasn’t one of them so I said nothing…
      They came for the old and the poor, but I wasn’t one of them so I said nothing…

      1. Jim

        “Resisting the MSM and the Deep State…you simply have to stop interacting with it altogether.”

        I don’t think it is so simple and this is why discussion and debate about the nature of the modern State is so important.

        For example the information revolution, which has been taking place since the mid-19th century (think, telephone, telegraph, Dewey decimal etc. and etc.) has incrementally created the conditions for mass surveillance which eventually makes everyone of us, through sophisticated data management, visible to the State–despite attempts to minimize interaction.

        1. James

          You’re mistaking simple for hard. Of course it will be hard to refuse the many benefits of interacting with the MSM in the simple interest of preserving one’s sanity and autonomy. That’s why they designed it that way in the first place.

          Is the actual cutting of those ties especially complex? Depending slightly on your individual circumstances, not at all. For most of us it really just comes down to making up your mind to do it in the first place. Which for the marginal poor among us becomes easier and easier every day. Perhaps what most of us really need is just reassurance that other like-minded people are doing it too.

    3. Alejandro

      From my POV, “deep state” is a mysterious, mystic, “scary” sounding term for un-accountable. With the added effect of implying “don’t even think about bringing ‘us’ to account”. Un-accountable, on the other hand is a toggle-switch away from accountable, which by definition implies “follow the money”. Which would lead to accounting control FRAUD and your so-called “honest” criminals. “Honest” by definition means “free from fraud or deception”.

        1. Alejandro

          Really? Referring to banksters as “honest” criminals isn’t? Or referring to Occupy as “bohemians on stage” (which btw was a MSM ‘construct’)? Does your “deep state” hypothesis extricate Wall Street from Madison Avenue? From my POV its semantic camouflage for unaccountable, symbiotic parasites and does NOTHING to awaken the host.

    4. Paul Niemi

      Is the mainstream media a church preaching propaganda? I don’t think so, and I don’t think there are facts to support that. Tell Kathie Lee and Hoda, and they would laugh. But who would agree? Recently I took my old car for a drive, and I went through the local AM radio stations, trying to find anything worth listening to. I found half were gospel preacher shows and the other half had Sean Hannity spouting. Now I know he would agree with you, because complaining about the mainstream media is a sacrament in the right wing ritual, going on as long as I can remember. What I have seen in the mainstream media is actually budget cutbacks to news staff and the conundrum of how to get people to pay for news. This is an adjustment, and the result has been reporters doing little original reporting, relying on the same sources so much that the news has become an echo chamber. How do I know? I’m satisfied this is much the case, because to test I have published ideas in comments here, and it does not take long for those same ideas to be repeated and expanded elsewhere in the media. For example, a couple days back I posted that, given falling oil prices, there was an opportunity to raise the gas tax. It took just 24 hours, I think, before that exact idea and argument was to be seen on Bloomberg. Frequently points I make here appear within 48 hours, repeated by someone named Durden. But none of the ideas I have are new. They were all widely discussed in the 1970s and 1980s. It is just that they are new to this generation of echo chamber participants. The point is, if you have ideas that would be beneficial to the world, then express them. If you have concerns, then asking the questions has power. At the same time, don’t be shocked if the mainstream media repeats language that is given to them by persons with agendas. That has been going on since the press release was invented, and its easy to cultivate a relationship to do that, perhaps by buying a reporter a sandwich sometime.

      1. Massinissa

        I dont mean to be rude, but you may want to consider chopping up big blocks of text into smaller paragraphs like Banger did/does.

        Your comment was difficult to read.

        1. Paul Niemi

          You are right. In my defense, I don’t often write comments that long. I’m happy you read it through to the end.

      2. Banger

        I spent a good deal of time reading the Soviet press back in the day and they responded to events and reported on them–in areas that were “sensitive” the toed the party line. The issues you describe are trivial for the powerful. I (and Pilger) talking about issues of war and peace and deeper cultural and political issues.

        1. Paul Niemi

          Since we may be talking about war and peace, how about this:
          “Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.” — Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

      3. hunkerdown

        Of course. The concept of “civil religion” is largely invisible, and tied in with ethos, so of course the light entertainment brigade would disagree. But civil religion functions similarly to ecclesiastical religion and establishes similar social relations to similarly situated groups. Mutatis mutandis, the same dynamics are in play and can be analyzed with the same tools, including the influence of Church apologists by way of a sumptuous dinner (is it a gift or a bid to ingratiate?), the doctrinaire hardliners who insist that some humans are more G-dly than others and not only competent and qualified but entitled to micromanage the affairs of others differently situated, for a price (Applebaum/Sunstein), or simple, craven status-seeking by way of lip service to what people with disposable income will buy.

        The question here is, why are we indiscriminately consuming a medium architecturally constrained to offer advertisements (or, little better, pat answers of dubious utility) from people whom we’d be better off excluding from the “conversation” entirely?

        1. Paul Niemi

          Religious sensibilities held in common are indispensable to civil laws and they came first. An example is the Mayflower Compact, where the most religious knew to form a civil body politick, accepting responsibility for self-government. And it is plain from looking at the places of worship built during expansion, reflecting the communitarianism of the builders versus the myth of rugged individualism.

          Why we consume light entertainment may be because it is a refrain from working hard. It doesn’t make one pound one’s head.

    5. Carolinian

      Good comment Banger. I also think Pilger’s piece gets to the root of the problem. While we lefties spend a great deal of time talking about moral issues like greed and racism I do believe that dishonesty is the cardinal sin and our society is drenched in it. Of course the news media have always been more interested in peddling papers than the truth but post Watergate they began to present themselves as neutral arbiters of the facts and this, as we’ve seen, is the biggest lie of all. Meanwhile the public–some of it–is desperate for the truth which is why we turn to the web and sites like this one. The web may not be perfect, but at least you have choices.

    6. Jackrabbit

      “Deep State” is scaremongering.

      Corporate MSM is a tool of power because it is a profit making enterprise. While there is some awareness of that, people need frequent reminders.

      Its mostly a system design problem. We need more and better media watchdogs. Where are the retired journalists? Where are the academics? Few active journalists will call out ‘access journalism’ like Pilger.


      #BlackLivesMatter . . = = = > . . #TheTruthMatters

      As I pointed out yesterday, we have to stop allowing ourselves to be channelled into a fraught political process that divides us. A simple change like this addresses fundamental issues in an inclusive way.


      Attacking MSM for being a mechanism or tool of the “Deep State” is both counterproductive and unnecessary. What is needed is raising awareness of the unreality industry that thrives on ‘access journalism’ AND oligarchy (inequality and the anti-democratic, money-driven political system).

      H O P

      1. Jackrabbit

        Quick to add: Not that an understanding of the mechanisms and machinations of what is termed the “Deep State” is not useful. I just don’t see any way that it promotes change. In fact, putting this boogieman front and center is likely to be detrimental to change (due to confusion, if not fearfulness).

        1. Jim

          The Left (orthodox and non-orthodox) has managed to develop, over a century or so, an extremely sophisticated critique of Big Capital, why can’t it now use its considerable, collective analytical power to develop a similar critique of Big State?

          Your assumption seems to be that this is somehow inappropriate? Why?

          Marx, in my opinion, dropped the ball on this issue when he conceptualized the State in a totally instrumental way as simply an apparatus serving the ruling class–I believe it is more than that.

          Is there any Socialist theory of the State? Why isn’t there any?

          1. Ulysses

            Great comment! I also think the state is more than an apparatus serving the ruling class. The ruling class uses the state to further their own ends, but their very understanding of what it means to rule is shaped by deep historical channels of experience that different forms of government have allowed.

            People like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton self-consciously attempted to create a new political culture for their new republic. They built on the experiences of their immediate ancestors in the British Parliamentary system, but also tried to learn from the writings of Greco-Roman antiquity. The whole complex federal system of checks and balances was conditioned by millennia of reflection on the problem of preventing the corruption of monarchy into despotism, aristocracy into oligarchy, and democracy into mob rule.

            Although today we have no one of the intellectual stature of a Madison or Jefferson active in public life, nearly all of our politicians flatter themselves that they stand on the shoulders of these giants. On those few occasions I have personally witnessed politicians shamed into doing the right thing, it has always involved invidious comparisons between their actions and those of the Founding Fathers.

            IMHO the ruling class in today’s U.S. is ashamed of itself. I don’t spend much time in rarefied elitist company these days, but when I do I sense a palpable stench of guilt and regret. Not from the wolves of Wall St., who are smugly satisfied with themselves, but from those who employ them to manage their fortunes.

            1. psychohistorian

              I think that currently the state is serving only the ruling class in spite of the best intentions of the founding fathers.

              Why are we not talking about the ultimate deep state of those underwritten by ongoing trust funds and inheritance rules, or lack thereof? I think it is the same reason we don’t talk about the ongoing accumulation of private ownership of property. And, for those that admit that the US dollar is not a totally sovereign currency or monetary system, why can’t we even have an “intelligent” discussion about the social impacts of such an arrangement?

              IMO, all of our social incentives come from aspiring to be one of the “ruling class”. Why don’t we flatten our class system by eliminating the very top of the elite who have been historically greedy, controlling and antisocial?

              Change the rules of inheritance to neuter the trust fund families and the incentives of our social organizations would change for the better immediately, IMO….and the sooner the better.

          2. Jackrabbit

            My understanding is that we have theory of the State in the USA. It is Inverted Totalitarianism. The public description of this is simply: “the 1%”.

            The question is what role does the “Deep State” play and what needs to be done (if anything) to address that. Banger seems to think the “Deep State” now controls most aspects of the ‘State’ (behind the scenes) and that it is addressed by “the Left” (by which he usually means the progressive left, not the ‘vichy left’ sellouts) making nice with oligarchs who, almost by definition, know and play in “Deep State” terrain. This strategy seems to be very similar to what the Democratic Party as pursued since the early eighties: to work within the ‘system’ established by TPTB.

            Banger emphatically tells us that the MSM is a Deep State organ. But the MSM connections to TPTB are well known. Banger hasn’t yet suggested any strategic for how to address this aspect of the “Deep State”.

            I have proposed the following in response:

            1) that making an issue of the “Deep State” complicates and confuses the public;

            2) that oligarchs are as problematic as the “Deep State”, and the two are inter-related problems;

            3) that oligarchs and the “Deep State” can be countered by ‘draining the swap’ via sensible tax policies and campaign finance reform;

            4) that to be successful, people have to find common ground and avoid being pulled into the a two-party system that seeks to compromise any effort at real reform – an example of this is turning bad policing into a ‘black issue’: in fact, the criminal justice system bias against poor people of all races.

            Looking forward to comments.

            1. Jim

              I believe that In order to create a determined opposition to our modern structure of power we need a critique of both Big Capital as well as a critique of Big State.

              Our contemporary structure of power did not simply fall from the sky but was created historically over the past 250 years. I would argue that an emerging and evolving Big State has always historically nurtured an emerging and evolving Big Capital (by, for example, supporting the creation of a national market place).

              More orthodox Left thinking has been satisfied with only analyzing the unfolding of monopoly capital but it is now necessary, with the emergence of what you call “inverted totalitarianism” to take a closer look, at what has also evolved over the past 200 years into the gigantic concentration of political power centered in our contemporary Big Surveillance State.

              But what is considered “acceptable” history for most of the Left must still only focus on capitalist expansion and not on State expansion as well.

              Why is this the case?

              Is this ideological?

              What are the reasons for such inappropriate hesitation?


    7. LifelongLib

      Reading through the article on reinsurance. Maybe we should follow the insurance/reinsurance industry as a guide to what big money really thinks, as opposed to what it would like us to think it thinks…

  3. Jamie Dimon

    CEO Dimon says he is free of cancer- I’ll let you in on the secret, puppy hearts. At least 20 per day, keep them and a chef close to keep them fresh. Human babies will work in a pinch, but working through the regulatory arbitrage is too difficult. Why does it need a passport if I’m just going to eat it on the jet before I get there? Free trade my ass. More red tape.

  4. dearieme

    “We May Have Reached The ‘Apocalyptic Scenario’ With Antibiotics”: if not now, then soon. They have out-evolved us. (How do creationists explain that?) Anyway, one medical writer that I follow has long made the point that antibiotics are quasi-miraculous: there is no obvious biological explanation for their existence, he says, and their discovery was a wonderful fluke. If he’s right, it’ll not be easy to repeat the feat.

    Still, it’ll rescue all the bankrupt pension plans, eh?

    1. cwaltz

      It’s somewhat interesting that viruses like the AIDS viruses have mutated to become less virulent and bacteria have gone in the other direction despite the fact that both sets of organisms need a host.

      Antibiotics are pretty cool however I don’t think it was a fluke they exist. Humans have been trying to cure illnesses for quite a while. Oddly enough the biggest medical advance isn’t all the pills we have but something as simple as handwashing. Who is to say that the next advance couldn’t be that simple as well.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The next advance, after hand washing, might be 8-hours of sleep (or whatever hours you need) and to eat organic and drink a lot of potable water.

        Then, one will be ready to get off the money (‘sovereign money) grid a little, in addition to getting off the power grid.

        One gets off the sovereign money grid, little by little, by growing and/or preparing one’s own food, brewing one’s own beer and making things oneself, mending clothes, gathering one’s own news, creating one’s own entertainment (songs, dances, poems…), etc. whenever possible.

      2. dearieme

        I think (I can’t lay my hands on his book) that his “miraculous” view is that while, of course, organisms would evolve their own anti-bacterial chemicals, it’s stunning that some third party organism should evolve one that selectively kills bacteria that threaten humans, while leaving the humans, and many benign bacteria, untroubled. He draws some sort of spiritual message from his observation: I don’t. But I would like to hear an explanation, if one exists.

        1. Bart Fargo

          But antibiotics also kill bacteria both benign and beneficial to humans, as can be seen most dramatically with Clostridium difficile colitis caused by antibiotic-induced upheaval of the beneficial microbial communities within the gut. It has been well-appreciated for many years that antibiotics are double edged swords when it comes to killing off commensal microbes, more of which inhabit your body than the number of human cells that make up your body. Your anonymous medical writer doesn’t have the slightest clue what he is talking about when it comes to antibiotics.

        2. hunkerdown

          That observation is completely unremarkable unless someone is looking for a miracle to sell (or is sooooooooo high, man). I wonder if a state medpot card can get me some of what he’s smoking, or whether I need to use something harder.

          The simple explanation is that your writer is engaging in the fallacy of composition. Organisms evolve to suit their current context, if only because those who don’t suit their current context tend not to reproduce. Why *shouldn’t* organisms in such divergent environments (in scale, medium and means of reproduction, for instance) treat a particular input differently, by the simple consequence of being made of different stuff and structured a different way? Had the wolf brought muriatic acid instead of hot air, the smug little mason pig wouldn’t be telling us his story.

        3. cwaltz

          Most antibiotics work by blocking bacterial enzymes. Bacteria really aren’t that much more different than we are they are comprised of chemicals and require chemical reactions to exist(just like us)

          Penicillin and cephalosporins works by interuptting the chemical process where bacteria is remodeling weakening the cell structure. The chemical structure binds to parts of the bacteria replacing it’s own enzymes which weakens the bacteria.

          Quinolones and flouroquinolones work on the enzymes that are needed for replication. Over time the body is better able to fight the bacteria off if they are not replicating in large numbers.

          Macrolides have a similar MOA to penicillin although it works at a different point in the chemical process. The chemicals in macrolides displace enzymes that are needed during protein biosynthesis. That’s one of the reasons they are often utilized instead of Pen V K in patients with allergies.

          I thought these sites were pretty good at explaining things.

    2. afisher

      Two sides of this argument, well maybe 3 or 4
      1. India papers give better description of this, because it is in their backyard. Infrastructure failure. (didn’t we see this same process in the piglet farms in the US this year).

      2. Over use of antibiotics – multiple reasons – including demanding consumers and compliant physicians.

      3. Pharma has changed their operating philosophy / model over the decades. Today most of their “new drugs” are treat the symptom not solution. Medicine via Capitalism – Follow the money.

      4. This should not come as a surprise to the supposed smart people…and yet those who claim to be the smart people claim that they are surprised. SIGH

    3. Bart Fargo

      There most certainly is a biological explanation for the existence of antibiotics. Naturally occurring antibiotics are produced by microbes not for the benefit of humans, but for the purpose of fending off rival species of microbes in the competition for resources. Other miracles of biotechnology have parallel origins, such as restriction enzymes and CRISPR, which bacteria use to defend themselves against bacteriophages. Like antibiotics, humans have isolated and tweaked these systems for our own uses, but their very existence is owed to natural competition between the species.

      That said, the “How to Fix It” article linked within the one posted above hits the nail on the head in pointing out that this is basically a failure of the free market, not science itself. It has been known for decades that bacteria will always develop resistance to antibiotics, however the farming and medical industries continue to use antibiotics recklessly and the pace of antibiotic development has slowed nearly to a halt in recent years because there are few market incentives to develop them – newer, more powerful classes of antibiotics will be put on the shelves for years until their use becomes necessary, usually after the patent has run out. However, the neoliberal free market tweaks proposed to deal with this fundamental market shortcoming are doomed to failure…except for the last. Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust, seems to be the only one to realize that the US gov’t spends many billions of dollars per year on weapons systems it hopes never to have to use, and most likely will not need to use in the near future. I see no reason (besides political ones) why enhanced government funding could not be put towards antibiotic research initiatives, which have the added bonus of saving lives as opposed to ending them like more advanced weaponry. Western drug companies are never going to make a profit on these drugs through market selling until the problem is too advanced, precisely because we are seeing the worst antibiotic resistance in developing countries like India which are just wealthy enough to give their people cheap, generic antibiotics but do not seem especially interested in addressing the fact that many millions of their poor are forced to live in a swamp of their own filth.

      1. jgordon

        Oh this was meant for the parent post.

        It blows my mind that someone, especially a noted medical writer (I am not sure who that is) would describe antibiotics as being quasi miraculous. Antibiotics have a well-known and easily defined ecological function, the understanding of which has led biologists to search for, and find, antibiotic compounds in such places as the mucous on frog’s skin and in various fungi (where penicillin was originally observed at work and isolated).

        As far as social species such as humans go, bacteria (not to mention many other microscopic organisms, although those others are not affected by antibiotics) have traditionally performed the ecological function of curbing the population–the larger and more social a particular species happens to be, the greater the probability of deadly communicable diseases being shared among members of the species. There is a precise mathematical relationship describing this concept. Humans have temporarily put this process in suspension with their discovery and (mis)use of antibiotic compounds in use by other species, although most humans being relatively ignorant and extremely short-sighted (especially the most “educated” oddly enough), the natural order will not be frustrated for long–as we are now seeing.

        There are some reading this now who have no economic interest in the process and who think that they are smart and are willing to go to great lengths to prevent the “apocalypse” scenario of us returning to how things have always been until only the most recent past. Of course they are in the minority.

        1. cwaltz

          Mother Nature has a way of weeding things out. I think it is interesting that humans tend to forget that adaptation essentially is what ensures the survival of ANY species. We’re either going to have to adapt our behaviors or the species may find themselves dying off just like other species who didn’t adapt fast enough. Sadly, I think that humans seem to forget they are part of the animal kingdom(more of that exceptionalism at work I guess.)

      2. dearieme

        Yes, Bart Fargo, but as I say in a new comment above “while, of course, organisms would evolve their own anti-bacterial chemicals, it’s stunning that some third party organism should evolve one that selectively kills bacteria that threaten humans, while leaving the humans, and many benign bacteria, untroubled.” That’s the “miraculous” bit. Since I don’t believe in miracles, I’d call it the hard-to-explain bit.

        1. jgordon

          It would really only be inexplicable to someone who does not have even the most basic understanding of biology, such as the unknown author of the work you cite. To those of us who have passed biology 101 there is nothing especially difficult to understand.

          1. dearieme

            Oh I think his scientific education finished far beyond Bio 101. Unlike many people who took Bio 101, he has an enquiring mind.

          2. cwaltz

            Bio 101 is a bit of a stretch. I suspect Organic Chemistry (with an understanding of enzymes and chemical reactions not just bacteria replication) probably is more apt. It should be noted though that when it comes to medication even the scientists who create them don’t understand exactly what ALL the mechanisms of action are. I suspect if we really completely understood everything about bacterial replication and mutations and our own chemical reactions we’d probably have been better prepared for drug resistance, adverse reactions etc,etc. so in a small way I get where the author is coming from.

    4. different clue

      No biological reason for their existence? They are derived from soil-based mold/fungus organisms. These organisims secrete chemicals to keep competing bacteria away from themselves by killing or at least statting any bacteria who get into the fungo-secreted antibacterial-chemical-extrusion zone. We have merely learned how to
      grow industrial quantities of these molds in bio-tanks and extract massive amounts of fungus-made antibacterial chemicals from those fungus culture soup batches. Nothing quasi-miraculous about that.

  5. Eureka Springs

    The Bad Design of Health Care Exchanges Will Cost People Billions Jon Walker, Firedoglake


    If you must read anything beyond the title, which is more than enough to cause at least three head explosions (bad = intentional, Care = blatant lie, Billions certainly should = trillions and countless lives lost and suffering)… click on down to comment 18 in that thread.

        1. Carolinian

          The ‘public r dumb’ viewpoint of Gruber and company is of a piece with the traditional answer to poverty back in the Clinton administration…i.e. “education.” The Clenis’ implication: you wouldn’t be poor if you weren’t so stupid and uneducated.

          It’s like a computer programmer who says his program doesn’t work because people aren’t using it right. That’s not really their job. The evolution of upper class defenses seems to have morphed from inheritance and divine right to credentialed right. Both have a strong element of booga booga.

          1. hunkerdown

            It’s like a computer programmer who says his program doesn’t work because people aren’t using it right. That’s not really their job.

            Bad example. The DMCA made “using it right” our job, as far as any access control mechanism is concerned, whether in software or hardware, and the CFAA extended the principle to cover just about any sort of “lying to a computer”.

            The Devil makes work for idle hands, so they say… the more elites stripped of their context and set to work ten hours a day in the fields, the safer will the rest of us be.

        2. diptherio

          Reading the intro now:

          In 2008 the most frequent choice by enrollees was a 300 CHF deductible health insurance policy…[emphasis added]

          I see that the Swiss Franc (CHF) is about at parity with the USD…so where’s my $300 deductible, Obamacare?!?

          A lot of other differences between the Swiss and the US as well (which all would seem to make shopping for insurance in Switzerland easier than on our exchanges), but this one really jumped out at me.

      1. OIFVet

        Brilliant comment by SaraB. Gruber and his echo Walker just can’t seem to stay away from beating up the victim. It’s so easy to blame the “dumb people” for being too dim to comprehend the steaming pile of brilliance that is Obamacare. WTH kind of argument is it that blames a nation of shoppers for not knowing how to shop? I doubt that anyone is “bright” enough to peel through all the layers of complexity, obfuscation, and withheld information baked into the law for the express purpose of extracting maximum rent on behalf of insurance.

    1. cwaltz

      How the heck is one to “shop around” when the whole entire system is rife with subterfuge. It’s not like there are listings of the actual costs of procedures, tests, etc within a network to price out and that leaves out the fact that you can go to a within a network provider and end up with out of network costs since there is no requirement that the hospitals contract out professionals within your network. You then end up with bills in the thousands even though you may have done your due diligence and went to an in network hospital(and of course the insurance blames it on the hospital ” they should be in network only, I’d complain.”and the hospital blames it on the insurance “The providers don’t agree to the payout amounts that the insurance company wants to pay them so they don’t become in network.”)

      It has nothing to do with consumers being stupid and everything to do with an overly complex system based on profitability with doctors and insurers competing to see who can make the bigger buck off of illness.

        1. hunkerdown

          A friend had ranted to me about her SO’s parents, who are hardcore Democratic .01%ers. They live lives of leisure yet the wife complains that she doesn’t have enough time to shop.

          I don’t see themselves making themselves useful and doing mine for me, a shame since they can’t get enough of it and all.

      1. BondsOfSteel

        Yea… shopping now. No direct comparisons and networks are fuzzy. Make the wrong choice and you can go bankrupt or die. The market fanboys should know that markets only work when they are open and transparent.

        It seems to me, the solution would require all plans to pay their average network reimbursement to all out of network providers and include these in the deductible. They should also publish these average network reimbursements so you can avoid the overly cheap plans which would stick you with higher out of network fees.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Does anybody ever work from the premise — I’m serious here, don’t know the literature — that every market is always rigged in some way? I mean, who goes to the trouble to set up a “free market”? The concept is to make a profit, right?

    2. Kurt Sperry

      What I posted at FDL in the comment string-

      I have no problem with the author, only with the myopia evident in this piece. The elephant in the room is of course that ACA (along with most of the Democratic Party’s action agenda–but that’s a discussion for another time) is essentially the product of a right wing viewpoint* and expectedly thus does nothing to address the fundamental issues of our broken system–namely the parasitic tapeworm that is the private health insurance industry. It fact in feeds the very parasite that needs to be killed and is thus in a real sense counterproductive. Any discussion of the ACA that ignores or leaves these fundamental realities out is thus inevitably incoherent and operates as a dangerous distraction from that greater reality.

      Problems with the ACA aren’t about implementation or policy details or management or website functionalities, the problem is that the idea itself is unacceptably and unfixably flawed.

      *interesting link to an archived page equating ACA and Romneycare since scrubbed from from

      1. different clue

        It isn’t flawed in terms of its real secret agenda, which is to enslave hundreds of millions of force-drafted customers into forced revenue-stream relationships with Obama’s owner-patron companies in the Big Insura community. Big Insura bailout-enrichment was the point all along. The mass murder of millions of people before they live long enough to reach Social Security collection age is just gravy.

        1. Carla

          And an extra added totally free bonus: Obamacare has totally crapified Medicare supplemental insurance.

  6. Massinissa

    “Can climate change cure capitalism?”

    DESTROY capitalism, maybe, if it comes alongside hard resource limits, which it will. Not enough fossil fuels or, for that matter, food, to keep the system going for the whole century. Climate change is icing on the cake.

    But cure? I dont think it can. Ive always thought it cant be cured and needed a replacement. And even if something can cure it, this wont be it, any more than bloodletting cures… whatever it was bloodletting was supposed to cure.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps it will cure something else.

      A lot of ‘cures’ were discovered accidentally, like Viagra and the cure for baldness.

      We humans are not really smart enough know at this time.

      But when we find out, we will slap ourselves and say, ‘But of course, it’s so obvious. ‘

    2. ambrit

      But, but, isn’t Capitalism based on bloodletting? (Why else do we refer to bankers and financials as “leeches”?)

    3. hunkerdown

      But cure? I dont think it can. Ive always thought it cant be cured and needed a replacement.

      We need a replacement disease?! I respectfully disagree.

  7. Tom Hickey

    That link about the “danger” of Confucius Institutes is laughable when US and UK clandestine agencies have not only intelligence arms but also operational arms. One tool of both arms is NGOs. These are the folks involved in regime change, which it is a bit far-fetched to see Confucius Institutes as fronts for in the US. This is just more fear-mongering anti-Chinese propaganda on the part of the complicit press, probably planted by the clandestine services, and maybe even bought and paid for.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The head of the Confucius clan or maybe the most senior member of the oldest lineage (they may be the same) still hold a honored position by many Chinese, because DNA.

      On the other hand, I think there is an annual Confucian Award, their version of the Noble Prize in the West.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Nobel medal for $4.7 million.

    A home used to be a place you live, raise a family, etc.

    Now, it’s an…investment.

    So too, are Nobel medals.

    Of course, according to the pricing model of free market and capitalism, that means, adding up all the individual demands and supplies, a billionaire is worth roughly 200 Nobel medals.

    So now you know, being rich can be popular…you are more in demand (exceeding supply).

    And only being worth $7 an hour at the present moment, you must know your place and work hard.

    EOS (End of Sarcasm) and hopefully one day, EOPM (End of Pricing Model)….just remember, you are divine and you’re infinity itself…or have infinity within you.

    1. TedWa

      To me it just means the very rich have no soul and have to buy artifacts to convince themselves they do.

    2. Brian

      Mr. Watson had to sell his medal for food. He was demonised by the church of the mainstream media who chose to ignore his contribution to science and focus on something they could use to sell advertisements. The media is a tired old gigolo that can no longer perform its chosen function and instead holds its daily rites in the religion of nosey useless gossip they insist will inform, entertain and enlighten you. Welcome the inquisition, it demands your fealty.

        1. optimader

          Beyond being a bigot, professionally he stole someone else’s intellectual content and subsequently treated her shabbily. Entitled to his opinions of course, but pretty much a douchebag none the less..

    3. optimader

      Presumably the ill conceived purchase whatever the motivation, extracts $4.7MM from some arcane, dead, equity investment and puts it into the hands of someone (albeit with a regrettable personality) to put back into circulation. So not all bad at a higher level, hopefully he hires a plumber for some deferred maintenance and takes his family out to dinner and tips generously..

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am thinking, why doesn’t the US government also mint a gold (barbarous metal) medal as well for the same discovery and maybe sell it for $4 million (to undercut competition)?

        Then the government can mint another for Newton’s discovery and that one will probably go for $1 billion (since he didn’t get a Nobel, so this one would be even rarer).

        The most valuable one, my guess, would be the one when we honor the discoverer of fire.

        1. ambrit

          Oh, oh! Great backdoor way to get the Proof Platinum coin in play! Make an Economics Medal every year that is worth the previous years deficit! Then collect all and display in the lobby of the Department of the Treasury!
          The Newton Medal should be of Antimony, since the Good Doctor was an Alchemist.
          Who would we name the Plutonium Medal after?

            1. ambrit

              Oh yeah. There are way too many humour futures available there. The Mouse Kingdom as an exact metaphor for toxicity and financialization!

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Antibiotics apocalypse.

    Here is a case for the long overdue need of Less Consumption.

    Instead, for way too many years, we have not chosen wisely in opting for More Technology (i.e. antibiotics).

  10. jgordon

    Regarding “Hyper Educated and on Welfare”,

    It sucks, but there are consequences to living in a society undergoing decline. Corruption and inequality certainly play a role, but there is some synergistic process at work in collapsing societies where new scarcity of resources both causes and exacerbates corruption and inequality in a positive feedback loop–such that in situations where resources would become more constrained per capita due to environmental/ecological reasons anyway, elites will grab more and more for themselves to stave off any hint of hunger, like rats trapped in a barrel gnawing on a carcass that become ever more frenzied as the last meat is stripped from the bones. The strong rats eat at the expense of the weak.

    A smart rat, no matter how weak or strong, will attempt to escape the barrel and the carcass early and seek another means of supporting its life. The rest will be left to consume the rest of the carcass, and then each other, until only one, then none, are left. That is our current situation. Apparently even being “hyper educated” provides no guarantee that someone will have the cognitive skills of a smart rat.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s always a puzzle to me why we Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens didn’t’ evolve a bigger heart, instead of our clumsy obese brain with insufficient computing power per cubic inch of brain to fully understand reality, but sufficient enough to delude ourselves and seduce us to meddle with Nature and destroy the world.

      1. different clue

        It is well not to confuse Western Industrial Man with Man in general. Certainly the Indian Nations people here displayed hearts big enough to carry out a multi-millenium terraforming project which made parts of the Americas better and better and better for plants, animals, and other people to live in.

      2. LifelongLib

        If Nature had been enough, the Indian Nations wouldn’t have bothered with terraforming. Arguably terraforming is a more long-term sustainable activity than industrialization, but they spring from the same source — for conscious beings like us, Nature will never be enough.

    2. trish

      So the answer is to behave like rats albeit “smart” ones. or as in the article, “Get over yourself,” “find a “real job.”

      Because “helping her students learn to write cogently” isn’t.

      Wouldn’t want our young citizenry writing cogently, thinking cogently, analyzing our corrupt system cogently. cogently deciding to work to change the system.
      (or god forbid developing, encouraging a love of literature anthropology, etc). Nothing of that f-cking human stuff…we’re being relegated to rat status by the masters (one’s with real jobs) – goddam it, accept it!

      1. jgordon

        Unfortunately human history is rife with evil people and ultimately self destructive societies winning. Few are going to congratulate you for standing up, fighting the good fight, then getting mowed down by the system.

        And ultimately, why should you want to participate in such an evil system anyway? Do you know how we have so much material “wealth” (trash) in America in the first place? We accomplish that feat by looting the finite mineral and biological resources of the rest of the planet and by corrupting and exploiting indigenous peoples. Attempting to preserve the current system so academics can remain safe and snug in their cubbyholes navel-gazing about Art History and Womens Studies is tantamount to attempting to preserve an evil system that is destroying the people and ecology of the planet earth.

        In fact, I am completely against having more equality or fairness in the current system, even for the sanctified academics who want nothing more than to comfortably teach critical thinking skills and logic, far removed from the periphery where the system that supports them is inflicting unmitigated horror and pain. Oh cry me a river for the poor academics who aren’t getting to live the comfortable life of security firmly ensconced within the heart of the empire that they thought they’d signed for when they decided to go into school, and hopeless debt, for six or ten years. I’m just going to go weep for all the suffering they’re having to endure right now. Right after I weep for the ethnic minority children in China who put their beloved ipads together. I am seriously sickened by this.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think I am agreeing with JGordon although I am not entirely sure how to interpret his comment.

      The article from “Elle” magazine and the comments it elicited are disheartening in so many ways.

      The article takes a serious issue, actually numerous serious issues, and turns them into a human interest story. I have been told by someone who worked in a newsroom for 30 years and still freelances articles, “If you want to sell a piece you need to start with an anecdote and write in a narrative style.” I think the issues — one at a time please — deserve something with more meat than can be provided using a human interest style.

      The article tweaks at: the very low pay given intelligence and extensive education — in the liberal arts; the low pay and respect given college teachers; the incredible difference between the amount students must pay to go to college — even our state colleges and junior colleges — and the amount that reaches the pocket of their teachers; the tremendous difficulties and expense of being a parent, particularly a single parent, particularly the single parent of a severely disabled child; the lack of affordable child care; the demoralizing crush of being poor; the cost of cigarette smoking when poor — hidden near the bottom of the piece ; the contrast between what is promised and what is delivered in return for becoming educated, from the clash between tastes learned through education and ability to pay for those things, from the clash between humanistic values and the values imbued by our society’s highest religion; the inadequacy of food stamps and the unreasonably low income limits for fully qualifying; the lack of employment for new graduates in many areas besides the liberal arts; the contrast between the dream of a free society which values intelligence and education in an age of plenty and the society of dog-eat-dog competition for left over scraps.

      Any one of these issues deserves at least one article of its own. I cannot join the comment thread applauding “Elle” magazine for publishing this piece — it briefly raises many issues, gives them little or no examination and successfully muddies the waters of many debates weakly raised and contested in the comments.

      Some of the comments are more disheartening than the article. The underlying bias in much of the discussion relating education and employment opportunities: When did education become training for employment? What then do we mean by an education? The notions about what qualifies a person for a job go unquestioned, as do the notions of what a job should be. Anyone who has worked should know what jobs are like. Why should they be like that?

      Several of the comments made judgments about some of the choices the heroine of the piece made. A couple struck me as self-congratulant. “I had to make some hard choices but I am doing better because I bit down on the bullet and do what I had to do to make ends meet.” Some comments suggested other options for how the heroine might make a better living. Is no one troubled we have to make choices like these in a society as wealthy as ours? Is no one troubled our society has forced even less palatable choices on much of the rest of the world? Is no one troubled by the gulf between what could have been and what is, and what is becoming? To my mind, not being troubled by these questions means we have accepted without question too many beliefs and ideas fed to us by those who benefit from them — and those who benefit are not us.

      1. jgordon

        How to interpret my comment? Like this: reality is different from our expectations of reality. Human beings conceive and believe certain things for no rational reason (for example, “if I work hard and follow the rules I’ll get the good life, or at least security”) and then feel as if something has gone wrong with the universe when their expectations are not met. That’s bizarre.

        The universe does not operate in accordance with the beliefs/theories/ideals of humans. It operates in accordance with natural law–which natural scientists have only a passing–and incomplete–familiarity with, and all others, including religious zealots and ideologues (such as “economists”) and academics in the humanities, are entirely unfamiliar with. There is no natural force or principle in the entire universe that will feel sad that some particular human’s expectations were not met. There is no force or principle guaranteeing that humans will not go entirely extinct soon, as is happening to so many other species today. The universe operates independently of human values and judgements, and believing otherwise is simply ridiculous mental-masturbation of a species prone to delusional beliefs.

        The ideas and expectations of people are all trash and they should be regarded as such. If we want to adopt a provisional ideal that’s worth something, we could decide that it’s worthwhile to live in harmony with nature in a sustainable fashion so that our species and many other species could continue to exist indefinitely into the future. But even that has limits since the earth will be engulfed by the sun in a relatively short period of time, and a little bit later entropy will ensure that nothing complex at all can exist (presuming of course that our natural scientists today are approximately correct about how the universe works–which is admittedly uncertain).

        There is not right and no wrong. There is simply natural law and how we deal with it, and how we deal with fellow members of our species and those of other species. I personally am of the opinion that it’s better to abandon failing and short-sighted human institutions rather than spending scarce resources in vain efforts to preserve them. But then I understand that many others will prefer going down with them, just as many preferred going down with the Titanic. Academics will apparently be or are chief among that group.

        1. Jeremy Grimm


          Your response makes me regret not posting my comment as a new thread. I do not understand your position after carefully reading what you have posted, not can I relate much of what you posted to the article in “Elle.” I regret suggesting I might be in agreement with your position since I cannot figure out what it is exactly and would prefer to use my time for other purposes than deciphering the intent and content of your prose.

          I intend no insult. The difficulty may be entirely my own and I willingly admit to my short-comings, even as I do my best to remedy them.

          1. jgordon

            Huh. Sorry about that.

            To be clear the only things that matter in life are the things that we decide are important. There is no fundamental principle promising that the things we deem important will actually come to pass, or remain in existence for that matter. However we can still choose to value things, like cooperation and existence, though we should keep in mind that the things we value are transient and ultimately worthless. They have value because we value them, and that’s all.

            What most people get hung up on, and I may be wrong but I think this could be what you are hung up on, is confusing personal beliefs and values with reality. For example a Christian might say “I believe in Jesus” and really believe it, but if said Christian were to make a statement that accurately concorded with reality she would instead say “I believe in Jesus but I could be wrong about that and Jesus may not exist afterall.” However human belief does not tend to include the additional caveat “I could be wrong about that” and therefore human beliefs tend to be fundamentally wrong-headed.

            The true way to live is to recognize that all beliefs and desires are merely provisional and that the things we value and attach importance to are arbitrary and could cease to exist at any moment–and that they ultimately have no meaning to the larger universe. It is therefore absurd to feel upset if certain things do not turn out the way you were expecting. Once this knowledge is integrated into your psych, most human institutions and behaviors will start to look pretty outlandish, such as our monetary system and the way our society is organized.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              If I properly understand your response here, might I summarize it as a reference to Ecclesiastes 1?

              I am more than ready to believe the only things in life that matter are the things I decide are important. I believe in no principle guaranteeing the things I deem important. Neither permanence nor transience can attribute value to my beliefs. I wholeheartedly reject your true way to live and I have always regarded our human institutions and behaviors as outlandish.

              I believe as you do that the only things in life that matter are the things I decide are important. The organization of human society is important to me. I do not care whether what I value matters to the larger universe. The universe is silent as are our spiritual gods. The opportunities of life I experience, and by projection the opportunities all other people on this planet experience are important to me. I do and will feel upset that things do not turn out as I expect, and more importantly do not turn out as they SHOULD have. It is important to me. I may be full of my own importance and full of the importance of what I believe and hope for — so be it. From what you have written, I believe we are in agreement. I regret if that is not the case – but I believe strongly in what I do believe in.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: War by Media and the Triumph of Propaganda

    The mainstream media peddling propaganda for the ruling class isn’t a problem. The media being held in such unquestionably high esteem is the real threat to democratic society. Oswald Spengler spewed nothing but contempt for the modern media in the Decline of the West. The masses who were the passive consumers of this filth were equally deserving of spite in his mind.

    “They are the market-place loungers of Alexandria and Rome, the newspaper-readers of our own corresponding time; the “educated” man who then and now makes a cult of intellectual mediocrity and a church of advertisement.”

    In practice mass media is far from what the democratic ideal of what the freedom of the press should be. Spengler thought that a free press and by extension representative democracy was merely the real world manifestation of the power of money.

    “It is the tragic comedy of the world- improvers’ and freedom-teachers’ desperate fight against money that they are ipso facto assisting money to be effective. The principles of equality for all, natural rights, and universal suffrage — is just as much a class-ideal of the unclassed as freedom of public opinion (and more particularly freedom of the press) is so. These are ideals, but in actuality the freedom of public opinion involves the preparation of public opinion, which costs money; and the freedom of the press brings with it the question of possession of the press, which again is a matter of money; and with the franchise comes electioneering, in which he who pays the piper calls the tune.

    In eighteenth-century England, first the Parliamentary elections and then the decisions of the elected Commons were systematically managed by money; England, too, discovered the ideal of a Free Press, and discovered along with it that the press serves him who owns it. It does not spread “free” opinion — it generates it.”

    This nihilistic viewpoint inspired reactionary politics that later manifested itself in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Spengler was neither a reactionary or a fascist he was merely refuting the naïve idealism that was a product of the European Enlightenment and the historical theory of progress. Even though the internet is far from perfect it fufills the function of what constitutes a free press as it enables individuals to exercise the freedom of personal opinion. It falls just as short as other various forms of media do in a similar aspect.

    “Today we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. The liberal bourgeois mind is proud of the abolition of censorship, the last restraint, while the dictator of the press — Northcliffe! — keeps the slave-gang of his readers under the whip of his leading articles, telegrams, and pictures. Democracy has by its newspaper completely expelled the book from the mental life of the people. The book-world, with its profusion of standpoints that compelled thought to select and criticize, is now a real possession only for a few.

    What is truth? For the multitude, that which it continually reads and hears. What the Press wills, is true.”

    We can now contend with Pilger’s conclusion that we need a better journalism and press to serve our interests. Any modern democrat would demand freedom from the press and strive to throw off the yoke of their intellectual slavery. Pilger would have us demand a new master. Cui bono?

  12. optimader

    “We can now contend with Pilger’s conclusion that we need a better journalism and press to serve our interests. ”
    Yes we do need better journalism.,
    It is illuminating that Mr. Pilger opinion piece apparently contends only organs of western media are venues of journalistic propaganda!…. oh wait.

    1. OIFVet

      Opti, could you please provide the quote where Pilger contends that “only organs of western media are venues of journalistic propaganda.” I tried to find it but I couldn’t find it. Could it be that, as a Westerner, Pilger is concerned with Western media since it is that media that affects his life and that of other Westerners, and thus constitutes an immediate problem for us compared to other media in other parts of the world?

      1. optimader

        I don’t need to quote him, It is apparent in so far the limited scope of his analysis..

        “Could it be that, as a Westerner, Pilger is concerned with Western media since it is that media that affects his life and that of other Westerners..”
        Yes, I think his scope is very provincial as well.

        “it is that media that affects his life and that of other Westerners, and thus constitutes an immediate problem for us compared to other media in other parts of the world?”
        I think that is also a provincial perspective.

        It would be fair to say it is human nature for (most) people to seek out media that reinforces their POV.

        1. Carolinian

          A bit of a broad brush generalization, no? It is true that when an individual’s personal circumstances are good they will prefer a kind of news that reassures them that all is well. But when things turn bad they will want to know the truth and turn elsewhere. This is in fact the weakness of the propaganda model: lies get found out.

          A common complaint among old line journos is that the web has killed their incomes because it is free and steals their content. I’d say the decline has more to do with the decline of journalism itself. As Cronkite said, the only thing you have to sell in the news business is your credibility.

        2. OIFVet

          Your argument is the equivalent of the DC fetish for “centrism” meant to obfuscate the issues. Do you think Joe Sixpack down the street is an avid or even a casual/accidental consumer of Russian media? I didn’t think so. It is so fulfilling to view the world from 30,000 feet and comment from these lofty heights, but real change can only begin at the ground level. Then again, preventing change is the whole point of the commentary from 30,000 feet.

          Person 1: “Our MSM media is a propaganda tool”
          Person 2: “Hey, don’t forget Russian media. Plus, Putin!”

          Congratulations for successfully diverting the conversation off the tracks, Person 2.

    2. Massinissa

      Maybe hes just following the practice of pointing out the plank in ones own eye before pointing out the planks in others?

      1. optimader

        Yes that may be the case, and plenty to criticize about it.
        But isn’t media opinion forming global in its nature these days? Granted, Pilger’s schtick is focusing on US and British media, but the scope of the topic he chose is larger than his piece implies IMO.

  13. Oregoncharles

    “Missouri AG confirms Michael Brown grand jury misled by St. Louis DA ”
    Read this one all the way through. A lot of it is actually about the Garner case. Toward the end, it makes a strong case not only that Pantaleo and the other cops were grossly incompetent, but also that they MEANT to kill him, making it in fact murder, not just manslaughter.

    1. cwaltz

      I think a large part of the problem is that the DA or prosecutor’s office often works closely with the police. So essentially you have a person tasked with prosecuting someone they know personally and may have an interest in not prosecuting for personal reasons. Quite frankly, the system needs a special prosecutor in these instances, someone who doesn’t have to worry about repercussions or alienating the very office whose cooperation they need to put criminals away.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        New York State used to have blue ribbon juries for murders (sadly not grand juries) for precisely that reason. They had doctors, ex cops, and other experts (and back in the day, the ex cops were pretty attuned to the potential deficiencies of police evidence, particularly how often it was cooked up in the case of high profile murders when the police were under great pressure to find and prosecute someone pronto). They were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court by virtue of not being a jury of the peers of the defendant (which was perverse, since they were more likely to be pro-defendant than a typical jury).

  14. Lovely

    As a Portland resident without a car, I really wish Uber and Portland city officials would get their sh!t together and make the service happen. Public transportation doesn’t run 24 hours a day, and calling the traditional cabs is troublesome often enough to be a personal danger. There aren’t many cabs to flag down either. Cab companies often don’t pick up the phone in a timely fashion or require a precise street address for pick up. At night you may have no idea of your exact address due to lack of visible house / building street numbers and they will not send a cab to “5th and Jefferson for passenger Lovely holding the red umbrella”. I’ve had a great deal of satisfaction with Car2Go micro-rental service, but this isn’t an option when you’ve had a few drinks, your date has gone mental, and you want to extricate yourself to saner locations.

    1. hunkerdown

      The tell is that you’re not advocating fixing the cab service, but shilling for its Randian replacement.

      1. wbgonne

        Destroy taxi-driving as a way to earn a decent living and replace it with desperate parttimers scratching for crumbs. Freedom is a harsh mistress, evidently.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Your comment hews so closely to Uber talking points (“physical danger”) that I’d hazard the writer is in the employ, directly or indirectly, of Uber.

      And let’s clue readers in: if it’s hard to get cabs at oddball times in Portland, what is Uber’s solution? Dynamic pricing. That means you can wind up paying a huge premium to what a ride from those cab services you like to diss cost, as a man who was charged $539 for an 18 mile Uber ride found out:

      On the lack of safety with Uber:

      1. Lovely

        I’m technically an unemployed student studying Chinese. 我正在在PSU學習中文。No affiliation with Uber. Drop me an email and we can talk in more detail if you like. Some salient points:

        1) I don’t own a car
        2) I don’t want to own a car
        3) A DUI conviction is way more expensive than a jacked up Uber fair. And since it would be a DUI in a Car2Go, I’d permanently lose the use of that service.
        4) Local cab companies haven’t fixed their service on their own, perhaps some competition will encourage them
        5) Try dating after a long break from such activity. Yeah, safety is a concern. My first date after 18 years told me within 30 min he like feet and beastiality. And he wanted to be a cop. On such a date I hit the eject button hard
        6) Uber / Lift / other car sharing services are just another layer for me to get around town. The more options I have the longer I can avoid buying a car.
        7) Owning a car is bullshit and expensive. It’s a hassle not to have one. But I think about the hassle of having to deal with smarmy sexist dealers and mechanics, I praise the heavens I’ve made it work so far.

  15. McMike

    re antibiotics.

    Consider the possibility that the very idea of “defeating” disease is like squeezing a water balloon, or trying to catch a greased pig. You think you have a grip on it for a moment, then it slips out of your hands and squirts off in another direction.

    In our desperate attempts to outwit nature, we are not only counter-productively aiding the “enemy” by making it stronger, we are increasingly making war on ourselves – waging war on the human systems that evolved over millions of years to deal with disease as best it can. When not trying to chemically shortcut or turbo-boost those human systems, we are even (In the case of antibiotics) quite literally destroying them, putatively in order to save the host.

    The cumulative effects of this approach, and the inevitable over use of this approach, appears to be coming home to roost. Coupled with the decline in healthfulness due to our simulacra of nutrition in “food”, and barrage of environmental toxic assault on our bodies, we may be entering the perfect storm.

  16. Jess

    Re: antidote Jesse:

    Cute little pooch, but where has he/she been and where is he/she coming home to?

    Also, judging by the left thumbnail, it appears that whomever’s lap she’s on, they missed the nail at least once.

  17. craazyman

    Fact Check Alert: Antidote Video

    the owl is not in fact doing the breaststroke, as the video caption inaccurately claims,

    The owl is demonstrating the butterfly stroke, as shown in the video below. Owls are well known in animal swimming competitions for their prowess in butterfly events and take great pride in their technique. Due to excellent coaching as well as wing-to-body size, owls regularly defeat much larger competitors such as pigs, bears and giraffes. Giraffes are naturally at an extreme disadvantage as a result of thin legs and lack of arms when competing in butterfly competitions and have to rely on their length and leg power to propel themselves down the length of the pool. It may seem astonishing to contemplate an owl defeating a giraffe in the 100 meter butterfly but not only is this possible, it’s a commonplace occurrence.

  18. wbgonne

    Thanks to all for the great comments today. I really enjoyed them and I learned a lot too. Good stuff.

  19. steviefinn

    Something very special in poetry from Ireland, in regard to the anti-water charges march in Dublin on the 10th of December.

    “Walk on air against your better judgement.”
    ― SeamuS Heaney

  20. Jay M

    Uber enforcement in Portland:

    Driver gets pulled over as suspected Uber. Cop approaches driver who rolls down window.
    The cop throws a chokehold on the guy, tasers him, pulls him through the window and because he is still twitching unloads his glock multiple headshots, because thin blue line.

    I’m probably exaggerating,

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Why did your police officer hesitate with shots into the head of the perp? Did this event take place in Canada? The officer you described wasted time and a taser charge on the suspected Uber! Did you get a badge number or something we could use to make sure this inefficient officer is removed from the force? Maybe Portland police need more training! Worst case, they could fire all the current officers and replace them with returning combat vets who saw combat and enjoyed it. Policing should fun!

  21. TedWa

    I’ve been contributing to GMO labeling laws and here in Washington they won because they told everyone labeling would be more expensive. And THAT’s how they win in almost every state. Why don’t the GMO labeling people just come out and say that GMO’s should have to compete with real food and that would lower prices??!! I mean, knockoffs and new products come around all the time and they have to compete with associated products for market share. Shouldn’t that be the same for Monsanto and ilk? Why are they allowed to slip their products into the market place without having to compete for market share??? Anybody have any idea why the GMO labeling people seem to want to lose?

  22. Ulysses

    Henry Giroux does an excellent job of connecting the dots in this piece posted yesterday:

    “In totalitarian regimes, the mass psychology of authoritarianism runs amok as such indiscriminate acts of state violence are followed by the language of demonization, racism, cruelty and mad utterances of hate. Black men are called dangerous criminals, thugs or drug addicts. This is a discourse of abusive certainty, unmoved by its ignorance and determined to legitimate massive extremes of inequality, material deprivation and human misery as it produces widening zones of violence and abandonment.

    Under such circumstances, the language of reform has become the discourse of apologists. (12) None of these alleged reformers situate the violence done to Garner within a wider context of state violence. For instance, Garner’s death is not analyzed in the context of the charge that the New York City police force is a corrupt and lawless institution, which raises questions about a society that produces such lawless institutions. No connection is made between how police are trained and regulated, and the evidence that the killing of a 12-year-old black child was committed by a cop deemed incompetent by his previous department. Only recently has the militarization of local police forces become national news, but the latter is largely unassociated with the rise of a permanent warfare state and the militarization of the entire society. Little is learned from the ongoing evidence that blacks are mostly terrified of the police who act like an occupying force in their neighborhoods, which are treated like war zones. What ties all of these events together is that all of these acts of violence, corruption and incompetence are not isolated practices but add up to the new face of domestic terrorism in a post 9/11 United States.”

    We aren’t out on the streets, in ever-growing numbers, only because we are dismayed by an heinous act that has gone unpunished. We are dismayed that these heinous acts are becoming the new normal, and that all of us have become the objects of surveillance, suspicion, and brutality whenever we dare to question “authority.”

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