Links 1/16/15

High-Speed Video Reveals The Source Of That Incredible After-Rain Smell io9

The Perfect Storm for Wall Street Banks Wall Street on Parade

In surprise move, Target exits Canada and takes $5.4 billion loss Reuters. That’s real money!

China funds bring Chaos to metals markets FT. Chinese hedge fund played key role in collapse of copper.

China unveils fresh support measures as economy shows renewed weakness Reuters

SNB Franc Move

A Franc Question: What Was the SNB Thinking? WSJ

Here’s What the Swiss Central Bank Just Did and Why It’s Such a Shocker Businessweek

Q&A: the Swiss central bank move explained FT

Swiss Bankers Are Accelerating the Euro’s Slide Bloomberg

Economic Lessons From Switzerland’s One-Day, 18 Percent Currency Rise NYT

Casualties From Swiss Shock Spread From New York to New Zealand Bloomberg

Swiss-Franc Move Cripples Currency Brokers WSJ

Eastern European Currencies Dive as Swiss Loan Costs Hurt Banks Bloomberg. Eastern European mortgages denominated in Swiss Francs…

Asia shares slide as Swiss move heightens volatility Reuters

SNB Franc Move and Central Bank Credibility

World deflationary forces have swept away Switzerland’s defences Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

End of CB Power – SNB Folds Bruce Krasting

Swiss Shock Tarnishes Central Banks WSJ

A poor advertisement for Swiss reliability FT

Trust Me, I’m a Swiss Central Banker. Polemic’s Pains. Trader: “What, the central banks didn’t have our backs? Is there no justice?”

What your bank owes you: clarity LA Times. In fact, many Americans are “financially literate” today. They know that banker CEOs will never be prosecuted for fraud or anything else, ever, they know to expect, or at least to consider, fraud whenever they encounter somebody holding a financial document, and they know “the market” is a scam run for the benefit of cronies and insiders.

Why SallieMae is a F***ing Shark: Part 1 Life in the Circus (MR)

Conservatives in Name Only NYT. “Magnanimity, winsomeness and grace aren’t antithetical to conservatism. They are an essential part of it.” This is one of the most vacuous Op-Eds I’ve ever read. Take a look at this guy’s definition of “conservatism” and then show me the Republican Presidential candidate — heck, the Republican officeholder 00 who meets it, not just “winsomeness” (for pity’s sake), but all the criteria in the entire piece. I’d replace this steaming load of bloviation with a simple operational test: The ability to use “the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan” without irony. Now that’s how you can tell a conservative (Hi Nooners! [waves]). “We are what we repeatedly do,” as Aristotle says.

‘Blame Liberals’ The Marshall Project. The prison-industrial complex is a thoroughly bipartisan affair, and liberals were key enablers.

Cuomo Replaces Top Aide Larry Schwartz With Blackstone Bankster Mulrow Albany Project


What Brill’s ‘Bitter Pill’ Gets Wrong on Obamacare Peter Orszag, Bloomberg

The Bill Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

Too many choices, high costs and bureaucracy: British expats grade American healthcare system ‘a pain in the arse’ Guardian (RM)


Why Are Gas Prices So Low? The Onion has spoken. We don’t have to write about this topic any more.

Oilfield Services Company Schlumberger Is Cutting 9,000 Jobs Business Insider


Russia Fires Ukraine as Natural Gas Transit for Europe Op-Ed News

Europe at War George Soros, Project Syndicate. Yikes.


Revealed: Saudi Arabia’s ‘Great Wall’ to keep out Isil Telegraph

Pentagon to deploy 400 troops to train Syrian rebels Reuters. Maybe we can have them wax and buff the Saudi’s wall.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Je suis unavailable: Obama and the decline of U.S. soft power Al Arabiya

Would Global Violence Decline Faster If U.S. Was Less Militaristic? Scientific American

Looking for the roots of terrorism Nature. Must read.

Class Warfare

This powerful Reddit thread reveals how the poor get by in America WaPo

UN Ebola czar says epidemic has ‘passed the tipping point’ AFP. In a good way.

3D map of DNA reveals hidden loops that allow genes to work together Science Magazine

Science says: eat with your kids The Conversation. Conviviality is under-rated as a value.

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of Guardian

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says NYT (abstract of original in Science). But still reversible!

Finance & the left Stumbling and Mumbling

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Chief Bromden

    Just to be clear moving forward. Reasonably discussing the possibilities of false flag operations by nation states with a history of them is off limits because it might make NC “look bad”? That’s definitely useful to know. One of your common source links, Washington’s Blog, has been regularly reporting on FFs over recent months. Good posts, informative, rational discussion in the comment sections, and no censorship. You might want to stop linking to their page if the goal is not to sully your reputation.

    1. James

      Looks like Europe is succumbing to the madness now too. You have to admit, if the original attack wasn’t a FF staged event, it damn sure was convenient for the PTB. Just call me skeptical about the official story at this point. 9-11 and the GWOT – the gifts that keep on giving.

    2. Ed

      There is a good alternative history forum I know of that essentially bans CT. And they reason they give is correct, allowing free rein to CT just leads to headaches. It overwhelms the blog. Big problems could happen if the CT is true. Smaller but still annoying problems happen if the CT is false. If I had a news-oriented blog, I would probably allow some CT discussion but be prepared and open about shutting it down very quickly after a certain point to keep it from dominating the blog.

      But it is becoming harder and harder to discuss why on Earth the government is doing X or big corporations are doing Y or strange event Z happened without resort to CT.

      1. James

        I agree with your points. That said, trying to explain events without looking at the real root causes is a fool’s errand. At this point, just about everything you read and hear is disinformation of one sort or another, so it’s probably all a moot point anyway.

        1. Brian

          CT, or “conspiracy theory”, (if I am correct that this is what you mean by the abbreviation) can be shortened down to “theory”. Theory is the basis for all scientific discovery and proof.
          Why would we run from the only means to find a truth?

          1. Chief Bromden

            Because nobody ever wants to admit they’ve been fooled by someone they happen to identify with in some fashion. The easier play is to label it cuckoo and move on, even if it makes you a coincidence theorist.

          2. Banger

            Why? Because human beings, contrary to what many believe, do not like the truth–as per T.S. Eliot’s observation in Burnt Norton “…human kind cannot bear very much reality.” Assume that someone believed that the assassinations of the 60s and 9/11 were orchestrated by covert operatives of a permanent “deep state” what then? Well, for one thing, you would be social ostracized for talking about it in certain circles and would lose your job in other circles (i.e., journalism, government and so on). We are not the inheritors of the 18th Century Enlightenment but have devolved into some pre-modern intellectual culture where certain ideas are forbidden. But even if that weren’t the case the idea that if these theories are true we would have to have a very stern and unpleasant world view and for a society that seems to be focused on fantasy (American Dream etc.) rather than reality this isn’t going to go over well.

            The usual critique of CT is that it lacks evidence but only because evidence is excluded as per my constant reference to the RFK murder’s Coroner’s Report that proves he was killed by someone other than Sirhan–but the answer I get when I bring it (or any other obvious evidence) up is—silence–or something like Emily Litella’s “never mind.”

            1. vidimi

              to see that this is true just consider how so many people react with anger (instead of reason) when their beliefs are challenged.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I agree.

                It’s hard not to…for any human person.

                That’s why some people prefer robots (thinking they are superior)…when confronted, they merely short-circuit themselves (I think I saw it on one Star Trek episode).

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              So disempowering. Reams of useless cruft about events 40 years ago on a finance blog when we have a criminal elite right now, that orchestrated the largest upward transfer of wealth in world history. So, a generation-old hairball, or real power-holders here and now? The choice was yours!

              That’s my consistent response to you when you blather on about assassinations, so when you say the answer you get is silence or “never mind” you’re either forgetful or lying. Is there a third alternative?

              1. Banger

                Blather? Really? Do I ever refer to things you say in such terms? Is that really necessary to answer me in that way? I’ve made it clear that I believe the assassinations reflect a political reality that has a lot to do with those issues you champion today–whether I’m right or wrong history is a flow and not, as Churchill quipped “one damn thing after another” which I don’t think he really believed.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  “But one halfpennyworth of bread to this intolerable deal of sack.”

                  Adding… I asked you a question. You didn’t answer it, but shifted to an argument about word choice. And so I deem my word well chosen.

              2. Gaianne

                Why not just ask what the implications of Deep State and Dark State models are for political theory and political action? Because it has implications. Far from being disempowering, these model have rather blunt things to say about useless actions, and suggest avenues for effective response. For those of us who have become weary of empty gestures and endless defeat these features are virtues.


              3. Doug Terpstra

                I don’t find Banger’s deep state probes useless cruft or blather at all. It’s informative and eye-opening, and I think 40-year-old (or 40-century-old) history is quite relevant to understanding the evolution of systemic deep state corruption, CIA villainy, and how the criminal elite have ended democracy and established a de facto police-surveillance-state of global tyranny today. It’s otherwise quite baffling to par-boiled toads like me.

                Granted, that may be too much for a finance blog that wants to remain relevant to “serious people” for whom certain topics are unspeakable and existentially threatening (it clearly raises hackles). I understand and respect that; it IS your business, in fact, and it’s perfectly legitimate to set your boundaries. I regret sounding insulting, lazy, or whingey—your chosen words—but the very same might describe your summary deletion of a thread, rather than a specific in-situ critique of unacceptable methods, topics, or periods of history.

                An good example of that is how Yves handled the debate over “just markets” vs. “geopolitical manipulation” in the oil-price plunge. I thought the exchange was healthy and useful, without turning it into a must-win fight or simply deleting opinions she disagreed with. (Her theory looks increasingly more plausible)

                Incidentally, recently (temporarily?) suspended its comments section. (I hadn’t visited for some time so I’m not sure what the “spam and malicious commenters” entailed (not me!). I wonder how it’s affected readership and support.

                Editors Note:

                Due to increased fraud, spam and malicious commenters Common Dreams has decided to put commenting under our articles on a temporary hold effective January 3, 2015.

                Very soon we will be launching a new & improved comment system that doesn’t rely on 3rd party data mining corporations like DISQUS or Facebook that give us little or no control over comments.

                1. skippy

                  Problem being Doug is how far back does one need to go back to extrapolate that, Cain and Abel, snazzy robes causing an uproar[????].

                  Skippy…. great we get to drive into the vision in the – rear view mirror – for eternity, its worked out great so far.

              4. different clue

                If Banger’s claim about the coroner’s report is correct, and if the report itself is accepted as correct; then Kennedy was shot dead from a non-Sirhan direction. That means that enough bunches of well hidden people planned it and carried it out well enough to get away with it that they got away with it. And if they got away with it then, they still live among us to get away with the same thing today if they feel they need to.

                So understanding their presence and methods of acting might help in understanding how to undermine them or end-run them or achieve results in the teeth of their opposition. If they exist, it is disempowering to pretend that they don’t, because it self-deprives the self-disempowering denier the possibility of working survival countermeasures into their activism.

                As to hairballs, Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition wrote a few interesting bloposts on how hairballs are manufactured and released to get suspicious people to follow the hairball and ignore the trail of smoking breadcrumbs. Here is one of those blogposts.

              5. davidgmills

                If the criminal elite got away with the assassinations of the 60’s, and the false flag of 9/11, it seems to me they would also expect to get away with the heist in the here and now. Practice makes perfect. It seems like getting away with the most outrageous assaults on democracy and the middle class is their cup of tea.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            As someone reminded elsewhere, we often get our definitions wrong.

            Is a theory or a hypothesis?

            When does a hypothesis become a theory?

            Is that Theory of Relativity or a Hypothesis of Relative? Is a Money Hypothesis or a Money Theory?

            1. different clue

              In my amateur science-buff opinion, a theory is something explaining enough known facts and their relationship to eachother well enough that it enables the theorizer to predict certain not-yet-known facts to exist. These facts can then be looked for and discovered to exist or not exist, by experiment. The better the theory, the better it helps us find new facts or information on the subject of the theory.

          4. BobW

            Thought of Popper’s “Conjectures and Refutations” – how in the world would anyone not deeply involved be able to refute a Conspiracy Theory?

        2. Ulysses

          “At this point, just about everything you read and hear is disinformation of one sort or another.”

          I always ask three simple questions of anything I read in the MSM or from other sources:
          1) Does the story have internal logical consistency?
          2) Does the story rest on premises that are demonstrably false, or highly unlikely given what is actually known and uncontroversial?
          3) Does the story go far beyond merely reporting on and analyzing actual events– to instead construct part of an ideologically charged narrative, that clearly seeks to discredit any and all competing narratives that differ from the author’s preferred orthodoxy?

          Often the best way to understand what’s really happening is to make sure that you pay attention to the difference between completely unsubstantiated assertions, and pesky facts that are being “spun.” For example, no one really bothered to deny the factual reality of most of Edward Snowden’s revelations. Quite a few people, however, tried to “spin” the significance of those revelations– through minimizing their importance, creating false equivalencies, straw-man arguments, etc.

          1. Doug Terpstra

            People did try to deny Snowden’s revelations—while they were still unsubstantiated, prior to the document dumps —including the NSA and CIA baldly lying to Congress with impunity. Once Snowden revealed the proof, the spinning began, including charges of treason, pundits’ calls for Snowden’s execution, and forcing down the president of Ecuador’s plane, all followed by assurances that no one but the whistleblowers would ever be held accountable.

            The same pattern occurred earlier with WikiLeaks and the honey trap, as well as the Ukraine coup, exposed only by an undeniable recording (the MH17 CT still under cover); the US backing of the Syrian civil war and the arming of ISIS, the gun-running out of Benghazi (oops, not yet confirmed) and going back further, to the WMD big-lie campaign for Iraq War 2.0 and the outing of Valerie Plame by VP Cheney (oh, wait, right, that was Libby), as well as the long line of coups and dirty wars throughout Latin America and the ME—all of them secret conspiracies—now proven CF (conspiracy facts). To deny CT, IMO, is to deny history and doom us to suffer its rhymes.

            Censoring inconvenient questions is disturbing. It’s a slippery slope. Ignore the questions, ridicule those asking, and fight them if that fails, but once you shut down honest, open skepticism, before long, you become Daily Kos. on the plus side, that will lead to more polite commentary and a undoubtedly better class of donors. If this is the trend, some of us need to just fade away.

            That said of course, freedom of the press pertains exclusively to the owners thereof. If you want freedom of expression, get your own blog. Right?

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              No. It’s a question of method. Nobody’s arguing there aren’t conspiracies; in fact, it’s entirely likely that are so many of them that the real question is why so few of them succeed — and how conspiracies (pace Adam Smith) are to be distinguished from the normal way of doing business. (LeCarré has many wonderful novels on this topic.) But normal standards of evidence and reasoning apply, as they should on any NC topic. It’s hard work. The thread I ripped out yesterday was marked by lack of evidence, sloppy thinking, a chorus of me-tooism that would be laughed out of the room on a finance thread, or an ObamaCare thread; the material didn’t even rise to the level of heuristic. It was profoundly lazy and a discredit to the blog. It has nothing to do with “censoring inconvenient questions.” That’s just whinging. (My argument that the obsession by some with 40-year-old hairballs is disempowering is another question. And it’s really not clear to me why this is the venue for that topic, in the same way that NC is not a suitable venue for other hobbies, but so far I’ve been nice about it.) In any case, it’s a big Internet. If you feel my New Year’s resolution is too restrictive for your test, do feel free to find a suitable venue elsewhere.

              1. Banger

                No, Lambert you do not accept evidence and you do not accept reasonable lines of arguments because you refuse to address both when you talk about this subject. I say, for example, that there is a clear relationship between what happened a half-century ago just as I urge readers to read DeToqueville that dealt with matters almost two centuries ago that provide great insights into the national character. If, for example, a consiparcy to kill a head of state works then how is a President supposed to rule when, presumably, assassination is always possible–now I’m not positing anything here just saying “what if” it woudl then follow that such events do have an effect on our current political situation.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  “I’m not positing anything here just saying “what if””

                  Exactly. Blather that if presented in the context of finance, or ObamaCare, or any serious public policy or indeed political economy question would be instantly dismissed, and rightly.

                  Such stuff. I see no reason to privilege it any more. Find another venue and post on it there.

                  1. Banger

                    You are just pulling rank which you have every right to do and this is, in part, your blog and you can limit discussion as you wish. But, man to man, you have no argument–I say these things are connected you say they aren’t–that’s the end of it. Most of my comments have nothing whatever to do with CT.

                    1. Jackrabbit

                      Your using CT to highlight the ‘Deep State’. You’ve had quite a few ‘Deep State’ comments.

                    2. Jim

                      “You are just pulling rank which you have every right to do, and this is, in part, your blog and you can limit discussion as you wish.”

                      Are we then finally saying that when push comes to shove only the strong (you are just pulling rank) determine the truth?

                      Are claims of truth also claims of political power?
                      Can politics be based on accurate representations of reality?

                      Is it finally impossible to declare once and for all the primarcy of one interpretation over others?

                  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Banger, I think Lambert is asking that you put it in the context of finance.

                    And I believe it’s there if you connect the dots.

                    1. Lambert Strether Post author

                      “Connecting the dots” is in fact a poor method, taken literally. The type of connection between the “dots” needs to be explained and evidenced. That is rarely done.

              2. Jim

                I love this statement: “Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power.”

                Power and the Deep State–apparently off the agenda!

                Where can I find the ripped out thread to judge for myself?

            2. Jackrabbit

              Gun running to, and funding of, Syrian rebels is well documented.

              Questions regarding the MH-17 downing are well founded.

              But there is little except ‘cui-bono?’ in Charlie Hebdo attack. For example, one of PCRs major contentions is: If Muslims wanted to make a point of the cartoons, why not bring a hate crime charge or lawsuit? (his reasoning: there was no benefit to Muslim’s in such an attack, therefore Mulsim extremism is unlikely to have conducted such an attack.) But there WAS a lawsuit in which the executive editor was acquitted (part of the reasoning: the cartoons are anti-extremist not anti-Muslim) and it is well known that Charlie Hebdo was on a the AQAP target list. IMO, absent new info, this attack is best described as blowback, not ff.

              H O P

              1. Banger

                I agree there is little evidence–didn’ say there was a lot on the CH matter. Just important to keep an open mind.

            3. Jackrabbit

              Whoa, guys.

              Lambert is not “shutting down honest, open skepticism.”

              Doug is not a crazy Conspiracy Theorist. He makes a valuable contribution.

              This is not a religious issue. Its not even a free speech issue. It’s editorial discretion. Lambert has described the purpose and application of this policy. And I don’t believe that he is being unreasonable.


              NC has had posts where the comments are diverted into long discussions of the ‘Deep State’. In short, Banger believes that ‘the Left’ should work with oligarchs because oligarchs know how to navigate the deep state forces. But by ‘the Left’, he means Progressives because the Democratic Party already makes nice with Oligarchs and the Deep State.

              As good as Banger is in some areas, he pounds on this theme incessantly.

              1. Banger

                I only say “work” with oligarchs because that is an avenue of effective politics because history has shown me, at any rate, that effective progressive politics involves a push from the bottom and the top to create effective change. I don’t get why you seem to oppose that on principle. Pushing just from the bottom results, usually, in disaster and much bloodshed.

              2. Jim


                You should definitely apply for the position of assistant for proper administration and appropriate editorial discretion.

                Banger’s strategy of potential coalition building between elements from the top and bottom of the social structure seems pretty persuasive

            4. bruno marr

              For the last time… It was Evo Morales (Bolivia) not Corrente (Ecuador) whom was air-pirated-by-proxy. Ecuador did proffer Snowden asylum, however.

      2. Banger

        But has it ever occurred to anyone that you don’t need to shut discussions down based on subject matter? I don’t get the idea. What you have to do is make it evidence-based. No one wants to discuss, for example, the RFK assassination because the evidence against the official story is obvious and beyond discussion all you have to do is read the accounts, count the shots and read the Noguchi’s Coroner’s Report–if you do that you cannot believe the official explantion–it is cut and dried. And the fact local, state and federal authorities covered up the truth means there was a conspiracy–this is not speculation–it is Conspiracy Fact! In fact, in all the major CT issues it is the facts that damn the official view not speculations. This is the main reason I believe we have dramatically turned our collective backs on the 18th century Enlightenment ideas that formed our society (and prosperity) and are rapidly moving towards a mindset that has, by Western standards gone back to prior centuries or censorship, ideological tests, fundamentalism of all kinds and even when minds remain relatively open when a person has certain label like “conspiracy theorists”, “liberal”, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian and son on we authomatically assume they are right or wrong based on a label. For example, I’m continually criticized by pointing out there are merits to people who have all those labels because, obviously, any Libertarian is a vicious capitalist racist pig or whatever. I categorically reject such categories because it encourages a flight from reason. Yesterday I brought up Stefan Molyneux who was categorically attacked as I was even though I brought him up as an example of the diversity of Libertarian opinion. I don’t agree with Stefan in many if not most areas but he uses rational arguments quite well to make his points and some of them are valid. In fact, most people in all the categories I have listed have valid points that would help us understand the world and each other much better if we had more compassion and more openness to ideas that aren’t part of our tribal identity. I could go on about my own journey of interacting with not just foreign cultures outside the U.S. but foreign cultures within the U.S. but that story would be too long but I have been blessed by the insights and discussions I’ve had with others that keep me from falling into ideological certainties that I, like everyone else, are always prey to.

        1. Massinissa

          Diversity of libertarian opinion? Molyneux is an ANarcho-capitalist, not a libertarian.

          A libertarian believes in a limited state.

          An Anarcho-Capitalist believes in capitalism without any state whatsoever.

          Just by referring to him as a libertarian, youre invalidating your entire argument.

          Associating with Libertarians, fine, I could handle an alliance with Rand Paul (regardless of whether hes even a real libertarian), but An-caps are too radical to associate with, and allying them will alienate… Basically everyone else, including the washington establishment types that you claim to value so much.

          1. skippy

            They all are libertarians Massinissa, 40K-ish different Christian denominations in the planet thingy and both share a core metaphysical premiss ” Free Will “. All part of the original sin belief as you can’t have one…. with out the other.

            “While a preference for maximal personal freedom is pretty much universal throughout most of the political spectrum (though less so on the fringes), libertarianism presents several difficulties:
            [edit] Philosophical problems

            Strict libertarianism relies on the distinction between positive and negative liberties, a distinction which is not universally accepted by philosophers.[15]

            Libertarians generally split into those who hold their views on utilitarian grounds and those who base their philosophy on natural rights. Those rights usually include John Locke’s “life, liberty, and property.” This group might be just as accurately called propertarians. While these rights are in principle also affirmed by many non-libertarians, raising “property” to the same inviolable status as “life” causes some problems: a sweeping interpretation would denounce all taxation as illegitimate expropriation, making it impossible to finance even the most essential public services.

            For similar reasons, libertarianism is a circular argument. Libertarians speak of “property” and “contract,” as if these legal ideas somehow had meaning in the absence of law. Law is what matures mere possession or occupancy into “property”. It’s what allows your right to your dwelling to persist even when you leave it. These rights must be recognized by the consensus of local society to exist. That consensus may be expressed more or less formally, but it necessarily includes definitions and limits. In fact, property has always been the creation of a lawmaker, and therefore some sort of a government. Much valuable wealth in civilized countries takes the form of such things as publicly traded stock and “intellectual property.” Law called all of these things into being. The same holds true of contracts. The lawmaker gets to choose which agreements are enforceable by law and which are not.

            The aforementioned “Non-Aggression Principle” isn’t quite as clear as many libertarians make it sound. Libertarians support force to hold up a system of property, a system which required force to be created (ask any indigenous person in a European-colonised country) and requires force to be maintained. Take fraud, for example. If a man is found to have lied to his health insurance company about a pre-existing condition, the police (in libertarian parlance, “Men with Guns”) will use force against him. Libertarians call this “retaliatory force” and frame the acts by the sick man as initiating force which makes for a nice game of mental gymnastics.[16] Note that you may not use the same rationalizations to frame racism, or sexism, or union-smashing as force, (and their solutions as retaliatory force) since those are things libertarians are apparently okay with.

            [edit] Hidden and uncountable costs

            Strict interpretations of freedom to associate offer little incentive to remedy problems created by social stratification; in particular, the principle of “personal ownership” often leads to a blame-the-victim mentality (e.g. Rand’s use of the term “parasite” to describe those dependent on public services).

            No matter how many whine about it, governmental regulation often corrects problems that an unregulated free market could not. One example is health care regulations, such as enforcing credentialing for physicians so they are not some nut in a lab coat pretending, making sure pharmaceuticals have the ingredients they say they do, and work, and are relatively safe, and ERs being required to treat people regardless of their ability to pay. Another is related to public health: how would consumers be able to determine which food vendors would be safe (and therefore, want to exchange capital with) in a festival experiencing bacterial contamination?[17] And why should businesses take on the risk of preventing epidemics?[18] Many libertarians don’t have a coherent answer for what to do to correct these problems in a free market.

            To many libertarians, environmental damage is just a cost of doing business.[19][20] Regulations to stop or correct for negative externalities caused by private companies are seen as “anti-business.” Apparently, not even disastrous economic catastrophes that affect the lives of millions are reason enough to hold the corporations that caused them accountable. For example, Rand Paul (a professed ardent libertarian) criticized government regulation and enforcement to clean up the millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico as an un-American boot heel on the throat of British Petroleum.[21]

            Like many other political positions, libertarianism is also subject to fundamentalist thinking. In libertarianism this can lead to both figurative and literal arms races, as well as an attraction to fringe groups such as the tax protester movement, and calling for a resumption of the gold standard.”


            “Basically everyone agrees with libertarians on something, but they tend to get freaked out just as quickly by the ideology’s other stances. —Seth Masket[9]”

            Skippy… layers and layers of reductive reasoning built on shifting sands and sliding goal posts…. until the weight is not only too crushing for humanity but, an entire planet… good grief… sigh… more walls of bangers et al text… Barf~~~

            PS. Crafting the narrative on psychotropics and speed all ways ends badly…

          2. skippy

            This is especially for you Banger, since you like to unpack things.

            Skippy… a more reasonable seeming aberration of a name that can’t be mentioned around here anymore, imo, yet the it all smells so familiar.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Oh, for pity’s sake. This is a question of method, not subject matter. If people want to bloviate on about “connecting the dots” with no evidence, or purely digital evidence, then there are plenty of venues for that. NC is not one of them. Feel free to go through the denial stage on your way to acceptance, but be brisk, please.

          1. Pepsi

            For what it’s worth, I support this moderation policy. Why resort to conspiracies when the truth is so brutal?

        3. Jackrabbit

          But can you see how rambling discussions on the ‘Deep State’ can be futile and self-defeating? (And I am fairly sceptical and cynical.)

          It’s great to have some understanding. Especially when so much today is done behind the scenes but it ‘Deep State’ discussions are often nothing more than fear-mongering that is not conducive to positive change.

          CT can be different IF there is strong evidential/logical reasons to back it up. Lambert is right to set a high bar for that.

          H O P

          1. Banger

            But, by definition I cannot introduce evidence or follow logical arguments based on them. That’s my point.

              1. Banger

                They are not evidence free. Just saying it to show that I don’t agree–nothing more. Also, you need to define evidence because there are many definitions according to context.

              2. winstonsmith

                Who would want to make the blog look bad? Bankers!

                Who benifits? Bankers!

                What do you get if you change the ‘g’ in ‘Banger’ to a ‘k’? Banker!

                I might buy the coincidence, but fortunately I remember my college linguistics. It happens that ‘g’ and ‘k’ are both velar stops and the only difference between them is that ‘g’ is voiced and ‘k’ is not. (I am not making this up.) Therefore, a “voiced” ‘Banker’ is what, sheeple? ‘Banger’!

                Sorry, Banger. I’ve enjoyed your comments over the years, but I’ve noticed you are a bit too insightful. The jig is up.

                1. skippy

                  Maybe it was the ev’bal jew’bs, all from the start… eh…. usury… enslavement.

                  Skippy… maybe some are more impressionable than they think and joined a cult without knowing it, which would make them exactly what they – think – they bemoan.

          2. optimader

            How does one get in on the “deep state” gravy train? Must have good retirement bennies/ dental plan.
            I do happen to have a few friend/acquaintances that are fairly well drilled into both the government service and the corporate flipside of the realm. Down to a frmr nuke sub commander, NONE of them offer any suspicion of a “deep state shadow government” running like a fine gear set stealthfully spinning simultaneous secret evil dishs on sticks. But maybe they wouldn’t tell me, right?
            So generationally, how does this “Deep State” preserve and pass on the “secret project codex” and such seamlessly successful expertise, let’s call it the “Deep State DNA”, to pull of what would be absurdly complex government sponsored capers to execute AND keep secret –say like the oft trotted out 9/11 scheme or the JFK assasination examples?
            Personally, I think there are people that need to perceive a long running pattern to unrelated events foisted by an inexplicably successful malevolent government organization on a scale that could not possibly exist overtime WHILE remaining utterly secret.
            The reality is that we are instead exposed to random evil acts (not to say any particular fkdup event does not have context to the evildoer) performed in most cases by moderately incompetent evil doers, that are nonetheless apparently sufficiently on task to outwit government agencies awash in resources charged w/ the hopeless mission of ensuring a ” risk free” society that can behave in an outwardly autistic manner.

            1. davidgmills

              You say… “to pull of what would be absurdly complex government sponsored capers…” What kind of drivel is such a statement?

              Long before you ask who, why, or how, you determine what happened, no matter how unlikely it may seem.

              When you learn about the (once in a billion) path of the magic bullet, or learn that the dust of Ground Zero was tested by some of the best qualitative and quantitative chemical methods known to exist and the testing performed by some of the most knowledgeable scientific experts in the field of chemical and quantitative analysis, and who proved the dust of Ground Zero to be loaded with nano-thermite, you then can ask how it could have been done and by whom and why.

              But you don’t decide before hand that it was impossible to do something because it seemed too difficult to pull off.

              The simple fact that Americans are so scientifically challenged, makes it incredibly easy for any official story, no matter how scientifically bizarre, to become the official one. And then those in science, who should be letting us know what is going on, often work for the government or big corporations, and seem for whatever reason, unwilling to investigate or challenge official dogma. Fortunately there are a few, and then the get the CT branding.

              1. Chief Bromden

                Anonymous “sources” from the “authorities” in all “terrorist events” are taken as sacrosanct source information without corroboration from a 2nd source quite regularly. No investigation necessary. It’s “official”. Back off, keep thine mouths shut… wet it, wipe it, good night. Put it to print.

                To believe the official 911 tale is to be the biggest “conspiracy theorist” in the history of the world.

              2. Optimader

                “Long before you ask who, why, or how, you determine what happened, no matter how unlikely it may seem.”

                And your struggle to shine light on “Truth” accounts for the use of the mischaracterization Magic Bullet, got it David.

                The mischaracterization has been thoroughly debunked and I wont waste my time with it as the point has been kicked to death elsewhere, as well as the discrediting of the “micro thermite” claptrap
                One of many links documenting the bullets consistence with physics

              3. optimader

                As you guy apparently believe 9-11, JFK assassination etc were the handiwork of some malevolent “deep state” rather than a result of middle astern blowback and LHOswald, why don’t you guys ever propose some likely membership roster for the ranks of the Deep State shadow government? Obviously it must be a well funded and large enterprise to be so operationally effective.
                You may perceive my questions as sarcasm but I am perfectly serious in questioning how all these moving parts fit together operationally, how they recruit, how they retire.

                You guys always toss out these proposals of an incredibly effective organization but you never put any flesh on it. Why is that?

                So lets here a likely candidate membership roster.

        4. Massinissa

          Look, Banger, im more likely to endorse an alliance with moderate libertarians than basically anyone on this site, but when you mention An-Caps, who arnt even libertarians, youre just going too damn far.

          1. Banger

            Look this reminds me of the silly ideological arguments that damaged my generation of leftists that came out of the anti-war movement. The libertarian right includes guys like Stefan “in my opinion” you just don’t agree with it. Just like I believe there are left and right libertarians. Also what are anarchists? Ever hand with them? I have–try figuring that out. I see it as a simple way to classify those who don’t like government–was Lao Tse an anarchists, a libertarian–do these lables matter? If so then I’d like to see a diagram I suspect it would be very large.

              1. EmilianoZ

                So a wise leader may say:
                “I practice inaction, and the people look after themselves.”
                But from the Sage it is so hard at any price to get a single word
                That when his task is accomplished, his work done,
                Throughout the country every one says: “It happened of its own accord”.

                Tao Te Ching

              2. Joe Robinson

                Umberto Eco has some good discussion of conspiracy theorists in Foucault´s Pendulum. One common feature is that – Everything is connected to everything else ! So Lao Tse and anarchism ? No problem.

                1. Banger

                  I read the book and certainly Eco makes some fine points–but his theories rested on mythology–mine rest on hard evidence and that is what people are denying. I don’t, for example, have an elaborate theory of the Templars or the Illuminati because there is no evidence just some coincidence and “coolness” factor. I go where the evidence leads and I challenge you to show me where I’m wrong–but I can’t because such evidence is inadmissible because the MSM doesn’t report it or Chomsky doesn’t approve.

              3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                It’s an interesting point Lambert is making.

                In his days, there was no Christianity and to some, that shows that Jesus was not a Christian.

                1. ambrit

                  Looked at philosophically, the historical Jesus, if indeed such a person did walk the world, was not what today we would identify as a Christian. We must separate the concrete persons from the edifices built up around them by later persons.
                  Religious leaders break new ground by being radical. Later acolytes build upon the original insight, and in the process invariably rob that insight of its power and majesty. It happens to be an almost ‘natural’ process. Entropy for the Masses.
                  Being a radical is not a ‘safe’ occupation. Being a member of a hierarchy generally is.

        5. Ed S.

          the RFK assassination because the evidence against the official story is obvious and beyond discussion all you have to do is read the accounts, count the shots and read the Noguchi’s Coroner’s Report

          So let’s stipulate you’re correct. It’s a huge conspiracy that’s been covered up.

          So? I mean, really, so what. Who cares. I know that early Boomers still project their lost hopes and dreams on RFK (if only, if only………..) but it’s all alternate history at this point. He’s been dead for nearly 50 years. Nearly 2 generations. To Lambert’s point (not that he needs my help) — let’s deal with the here and now.

          Banger, respectfully: it’s time to let it go.

          1. Chief Bromden

            I do. I also care when people who are wrongfully imprisoned are exonerated. What’s the statute of limitations with regards to the importance of the truth? If deception has altered history, it’s relevant.

          2. Banger

            As I tried to explain, to no avail since no one takes up my points just categorizes them as “blather” and “pollution” let me try with you to make a point that I’ve made many times. That point is that Americans do not like history and are thus doomed to repeat it and not take the lessons it gives seriously. I find this true particularly of the left.

            So, assuming my ideas are true for the sake of argument–that means that there is some association of people who have and therefore could in the future determine who is President and was able to keep the story going despite the obvious facts–that implies and institution. Now, if I’m wrong, then all that is nonsense. But if I’m right then it does have a direct effect on the way power is allocated and used in this country. This, to some is blather and not worth even addressing–which leads me to my second “hobby horse” the end of the Enlightenment Project that involves logic, science, evidence and son on–it is enough to simply say I don’t present evidence and it is so–despite the fact I do when asked.

            Having said that, of course I will drop it unless someone directly opens up the issue–I don’t want to irritate Lambert and others who have closed their minds–their minds still remain open in a relative sense and I’m grateful for that. I’m under no illusions, as I’ve said many times, that reasoning with the vast majority of people has much effect–we stick to our tribal principles and live our lives within those confines as humans have always done.

            1. Jack

              “That point is that Americans do not like history and are thus doomed to repeat it and not take the lessons it gives seriously. I find this true particularly of the left.”

              “What experience and history teach is this – that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

              Again I ask what you’re defining as ‘the left’ here. Because it seems to me that the only ones who have ever had meaningful critiques of society on the most fundamental level were from the left.

          3. Jackrabbit

            I care. But Banger uses this to unjustifiably bludgeon ‘the Left’. He feels that ‘the Left’ should accept and work with oligarchs. But he is not being honest. The democratic Party is already cozy with oligarchs so what Banger really means is the progressives should accept the oligarch political model.

            And Banger’s complaint ignores that ‘the Left’ has historically pushed for political reforms like Freedom of Information Act. We wouldn’t know half of what we know if not for the left.

            Lastly, ‘Deep State’ turn into a popular cause that is any different than anti-corruption (which we have plenty of examples of)?

      3. Chief Bromden

        The exhausted trope “conspiracy theory” is mostly meaningless and is reserved for any ideas that contradict the official story– which in case anyone has watched corporate news lately, is almost always some kind of lie (why the “official narrative” still has credibility is another question that needs answering). This is a very important point as the phrase was made popular by the CIA in the 1960’s to shut people up about the Warren Commission. “Conspiracy theories” are not about conspiracies, they are about forbidden thought.

        The label “conspiracy theory” is a stop sign on the avenues of rational thought and inquiry. It says, “Stop here. Entrance forbidden.” It’s a conversation ender by way of categorizing the other person as too crazy to even engage with. It’s lazy.

    3. Banger

      To be sure, Lambert certainly does not like CT in any form but he and Yves allow us to talk about it as long as we don’t belabor the point too much. I suspect a substantial number of people who post here do understand that the lone-gunman theory of the assassinations in the 60s is untenable and that the conventional accounts of 9/11 are suspicious and so on. But the point I want to make is NC is surprisingly tolerant of CT on the site. Lambert merely makes it clear he things its a waste of time and condemns it but so far I haven’t been banned from the site or told to STFU.

      Having said that, I echo what others have said here that if you don’t understand the real power-relations in the “Empire of Chaos” you miss a lot in what is going on today. The funny thing is that the evidence for some (not all) CT ideas is very good and almost blatantly obvious yet the vast majority of American intellectuals will not address the issue–instead they ban those that post the obvious evidence (on some sites) and refuse to even discuss the issue.

      The fact is that people need boundaries–we can’t all be trippin’ out all the time. We exclude anomalies that interfere with our frameworks–it’s just too painful to dramatically change our intellectual/mythological frameworks every time a new piece of evidence would force us to alter our views. If we believe that the U.S. government is dominated by a “deep state” that dominates our elected officials then what is the point of voting or being engaged in political issues? To believe the result of my own studies in the CT field is, as Lambert has obliquely pointed out, disempowering. I disagree with that view and believe that it is directly the opposite–an understanding of what really has gone on in history and the real political dynamics at work is empowering.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The question begged is, of course, “an understanding of what really has gone on in history.” Unfortunately, there are some questions that are just not resolvable; generations-old hairballs constantly referred to among them. In fact, their very irresolvability is what makes them so useful; it’s like running a model railroad train round a circular track over and over again. If that’s not one’s hobby, it’s a waste of time. With effort, it’s sometimes possible to cut through the bullshit as its being constructed, but it’s a lot of work. For the hairballs, the only sensible thing to do is wait for a memoir or a look at the archives.

        1. Banger

          Honestly, I don’t get it. I just don’t see the subject in that light and don’t see any substance to your round and round analogy other than the fact that you are unwilling to deal with the subject and prefer to hurl insults in lieu of argument.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t know why people find it such a PITA to uphold normal NC standards of evidence and reasoning for some topics, and not on others. You will note that our links to Washington’s blog are quite selective.

      1. Banger

        Would you accept evidence if I gave it? You ignore any evidence I give and engaging with me on the assumption I have no evidence is false and misleading to readers. Just outright ban the subject and show your true colors and I’ll be glad to stop commenting on such matters.

          1. Banger

            I know you read most of them–why say that? You are good at what you do and I certainly respect that part of your job, i.e., moderation etc.

      2. Chief Bromden

        Is every comment expected to be case evidence in a court of law? Nobody claimed unequivocally that the CIA had pulled of another false flag in France, merely that it had the stink of extraordinary convenience for the policy makers and war mongers. Unless someone were an inside whistle blower, “evidence” would be damn near impossible. I fail to see how discussing logical questions regarding the usual inconsistencies with the official narrative is so counterproductive. Your hostility makes it seem personal.

        1. Banger

          You and me both, brother. But this is the reality of the situation. As I mentioned in a couple of comments above Americans hate history and hate connecting the dots because it might force them to alter rather tenuous mythological/intellectual frameworks. I remember bringing up some facts and contradictions about the official story to two people who liked and respected me–one with a graduate degree from Harvard and another with one from Chicago and Berkeley and both said “even if it’s true I can’t believe it.” It is too horrible to contemplate that some criminal enterprise has us by the balls and I don’t really blame people from not wanting to think about it. So they castigate those of us that present clear and convincing evidence as having “no” evidence and being mentally deranged and “blathering” and “polluting” polite company. And so it goes and so it has gone throughout history. To me this show that the 18th century project is over and, also, that it was deeply flawed from the beginning–but that is another interesting discussion no one will want to engage in.

          1. Doug Terpstra

            Careful, people have been crucified for such things. Let’s not look backward, let’s not rehash old fights; let’s look forward, lean forward, and rise above. I feel like I’m flying!

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Our mental world is not flat but non-Euclidean, so that parallel lines intercept and when you go in one direction, you end up the other way. That is, you can make people silent or you let them all talk at the same time, so that no one can hear anyone else or believe in anything, as there are too many things out there.

            That’s your basic Winning Through Chaos 101 and he who is less confused than his opponents wins.

            And the best hiding place is in plain sight.

            The biggest lie is right there in front of you.

            “I can’t believe it!!!”

  2. wbgonne

    Re: American liberals and mass incarceration, the article is generally correct and Amtrak Joe Biden was truly one of tbe original drug warriors. Mandatory minimum sentencing and the abominable federal sentencing guidelines are indeed what have flooded our prisons and the Democrats were fully on board, trying desperately to shake their soft-on-crime caricature. One note:

    Kennedy promulgated this idea of sentencing guidelines. It was his baby.

    Actually, the sentencing guidelines were devised by current Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who had been a Keenedy aide and was a First Circuit judge when the guidelines were enacted. Kennedy pushed them in Congress. Breyer even dissented when SCOTUS found tbe guidelines unconstitutional in part (largely on Scalia’s reasoning), and Breyer authored the companion decision that saved the guidelines by ruling the offending portions severable. Breyer was also the “brains” behind airline deregulation and attacks on regulations generally. So remember all that when someone tells you that you must vote for Hillary because of the Supreme Court.

    1. McMike

      Re blame liberals. My broken premise complaint.

      When they say “blame liberals.” They really mean: blame Democrats when they start trying to act like Republicans. It’s like saying blame liberals for Clinton’s Telecommunications act and NFTA. Or blamie liberals for Obamacrae (which of course is exactly what the right is doing).

      If you want to actually blame liberals, rather than simply blaming the politicians that their opponents describe as liberal, you need to describe the liberal thought process thought brought the specific policy.

      There is only a hint of that in the piece: the idea that a liberal philosophy led the left to strengthen the federal role in order to counteract shortcomings at the state level. Okay, that’s also the liberal idea behind the EPA.

      But this piece abandons that notion, and instead devolves into political horse race analysis. Ascribing the motivations to Democratic triangulation calculations in trying to outflank the right on being tough on crime.

      There’s nothing liberal about that, that’s not an ideological philosophy. That’s just political calculus, and reactive at that.

      We can’t blame the Vichy for the Nazis. Or the Pope for that matter. But we can condemn them for their cowardice and abdication.

      1. wbgonne

        Yes, I agree. The conventional wisdom is “Democrat” and “liberal” are synonyms and that’s not only FOX-News either. Of course, they aren’t. Ted Kennedy is the archetype late-stage Democratic “liberal” and Kennedy got on board the neoliberal train just like the other Democrats. I cringe when I hear the Hillary-bots disingenuously arguing that Warren is too important to be president because she could be the next Ted Kennedy in the Senate. Whatever his merits, Kennedy’s time in the Senate saw the country fall into rabid conservatism, buttressed by Vichy Democrats and the ascendant neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          The irrational conflation of the the left and the Democratic Party are useful to both legacy parties, so obviously that is the mainstream narrative. For the Democrats that conflation is useful cover for right wing policies people will pay a lot of money to them to see brought to fruition, and for the Republicans, it just pushes the Overton Window ever rightward. Everyone’s a winner–within the circle of power. Everyone else–not so much.

      2. Ed

        Vichy is actually a good analogy, because Vichy’s rep is much better than it deserves to be. No really.

        The rep is that France was defeated in 1940, and so some of the French leadership tried to make the best deal with the Germans they could. And they were wrong. Because Germany was going to lose the war! But that was hard to see in 1940. So Vichy is associated mainly with being defeatist.

        In some cases that was correct, but most of the people in power in Vichy France were straight out fascist. If it was a matter of just making the best deal they could, they would have kept as many of the existing republican institutions in place as possible, and still had a role for the Socialists as a kind of limited opposition. Instead they set up a full fledged fascist state, breaking the continuity with the Third Republic. And they were very enthusiastic about rounding up and deporting Jews to Germany.

        They didn’t have to do this. The senior German officials involved in the occupation, even in the SS, in fact tended to be the not-so-bad Nazis, they were the biggest backers of the attempted coup against Hitler, and anyway they were under instructions to go easy on the French to try to get more French support for the war against Britain. Other countries collaborated with the Nazis and avoided deporting their Jews and even kept many of their pre-war institutions intact. Italy, which was Hitler’s biggest ally, avoided deporting Italian Jews until 1943 and were generally much less enthusiastic about it than Vichy French.

        The situation with Pius XII is more complicated, but its hard to avoid the conclusion that he was on board with the fascist project in many important ways, certainly much more so than his predecessor or successor.

        To go with the analogy to the Democrats, no I don’t think Democratic politicians implement a right-wing agenda because they are scared of the Republicans. They like the Republicans to take the blame for alot of this stuff, but in most cases they believe in it, in fact in some cases like the War on Drugs more than the Republicans do.

        1. McMike

          Oh I agree, the Dem politicians are very happy riding the neoliberal gravy train along with their GOP pals.

          What frosts my henie is the media and GOP calling them liberals.

        2. Brian

          Aren’t you mistaking the SS for the Wehrmacht? I believe history shows us it was the SS that was responsible for the arrest, incarceration and murder of the various peoples of Europe. They ran the camps. Please don’t tell a French historian this tale within arms reach, for your own sake.

            1. Jay M

              This is my memory of reading about the French during the occupation: the authorities were fairly enthusiastic about rounding up the non-citizen jews (or letting the Germans) and exporting them to the Endlosung, not so much citizen jews. A lot of Poles and German jews had settled in France, which became a trap after the French defeat. Germany had a lot of busy hollerith machines sifting the European population, and German and Polish ex-pats would generally have left traces leaving or crossing Germany.

      3. George Hier

        If you want to actually blame liberals, rather than simply blaming the politicians that their opponents describe as liberal, you need to describe the liberal thought process thought brought the specific policy.


        Liberal thought process: Vote Democratic regardless of the quality of the politician or the party platform. Because the other guys are worse, doncha know?

        There, that wasn’t too hard. Any other soft pitches you want me to knock out of the park?

        1. cwaltz

          Liberal thought process: Vote Democratic regardless of the quality of the politician or the party platform. Because the other guys are worse, doncha know?

          Most of the folks I know that are Democratic faithful are more pragmatic than they are liberal. For them it’s about winning more than its about ideology.

          1. McMike


            For them it’s about winning more than its about ideology

            pretty sure the Dems don’t have a monopoly on that. In fact, the Dems have repeatedly shown they are willing to stop short of really going off the deep end, unlike the GOP, who invented the madman theory and play it to a fault. *cough* Iran Contra. *cough* torture prosecutions off the table.

            In any case, you are preaching to the choir. I’ve been a third party voter since 2000.

            1. cwaltz

              I tend to think of Democrats and Republicans as 2 sides of the same wooden nickel. I would agree that the GOP is as disingenuously “conservative” as the Democrats are disingenuously “liberal.” There is nothing conservative about spending fists full of money on your patrons like the defense industry, agribusiness, or the oil barons. Self serving, yes. Conservative, no.

              1. McMike

                Except while the GOP embraces the term conservative even as they render it meaningless in contradictions while unarguably steering as as hard right as they can, the Dems avoid the term liberal like the plague, and apologize for it every step of the way as they run as far from the left as they can get.

      4. vidimi

        i just want to point out the irony in you defending the distinction between democrat and liberal here, but applauding a takedown of an oped for doing something similar with conservatives/republicans below.

        not to say that you’re wrong, but that, superficially, it looks a bit funny.

        1. jrs

          That article is an apology for the Republicans, by making them seem like they’re really about a bunch of abstract philosophical virtues that have nothing to do with their governing.

          I think people here are just searching for some way to describe things that are better described as “social democrat” (which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) on the “liberal” end or frank leftism if one is further on the left and that’s what it’s meant.

          So, I don’t see looking for the right word as the same as apologetics.

          Words keep getting corrupted though, people want to use words like “progressive” but when every obot describes themselves as “progressive” why bother to associate with that crowd. And the term isn’t even that clean historically.

          1. jrs

            I would respect the author more if they had said “these are the things I believe in, which I call conservativism and I think I have good historical reason to use the name conservatism for them, unfortunately there are no non-3rd parties (and maybe not even any 3rd parties) that represent my views etc..” Rather than pretending R’s do, that’s BAIT AND SWITCH.

      5. Banger

        It is hard to critique liberalism because we really don’t know what we mean by that. I define it as the idea that social, economic and political ills can be addressed by a strong central government in a way that benefits the average person. In contrast conservatives would like this central government to stay out of the affairs of states and localities who can come up with their own policies based on their culture and inclinations. The irony is, of course, that when it comes to “security” issues the Conservative wants a very strong central government to insure order particularly in foreign affairs where problems are best settled by the application of force. I think both positions are intellectually defensible but neither one of them, at this point in history, make sense–they are obsolete philosophies that simply cannot face the reality of the present. Liberals refuse to face the fact that the government is deeply and I mean DEEPLY corrupt and compromised by a very strong oligarchy. Conservatives refuse to face the fact that localism cannot work in a globalist world where beggar thy neighbor is the default policy of every institution involved and that only national or international approaches to our collective problems make any sense.

        1. cwaltz

          I think you’re pretty spot on with the problems both sides of the aisle are facing. The reality is that government, the force that is supposed to keep things in check, has essentially proven itself corrupt and inept and it is positively living in fantasyland to think the moneyed entities that corrupted them are all of a sudden going to start behaving if government regulation were to disappear. The only thing that disappears would be the bribes they’re pretty much paying right now to own the system we’re all using.

        2. McMike

          Except, I have found self-described conservatives as well as the GOP perfectly willing to endorse a strong central government not only on security, but also social issues, as well as economic interventions as long as they are subsidies. Not to mention using central government intervention to actively preempt state and local self-government over economic and social matters that they don’t like.

          In addition, I have not met a single liberal who doesn’t think government is fully corrupt and beholden to the wealthy.

          1. fresno dan

            I am pretty disenchanted with “conservatism” in that so much of the supposed principals are obviously and blatantly merely bumper sticker slogans by people who most studiously, assiduously, and deviously use law (patent and tax) to thwart the free market. Who believe in astounding amounts of government (AIG bailouts of BONUSES for empirically demonstrated financial morons) aid for the 0.001% – where the only real value by our “leaders” is to be elected, and than completely finagle the law of the land so as to elicit bribes (AKA campaign funds) to get elected some more, and wash, rinse, and repeat.
            Of course, “liberal” is used as an epithet, with the frankly insane “conservatives” marking anyone who isn’t ever more batsh*t insane as a commie Muslim terrorist. I am truly getting frightened by the number of politicians who unable or unwilling to reside in the realm of reality.

  3. McMike

    Re what is conservativism. Nice takedown.

    I was going to quip that the incoherence is because conservativism is a mental illness that hides from its sufferers.

    But it is in fact more like the parasitic wasp that turns cockroaches into zombie robots.

    Either way, maybe you need a feature: “conservatives say the darndest things”…

    1. Carolinian

      Who knew conservatives were one step removed from Mother Teresa? On the other hand Hitchens did call her “the ghoul of Calcutta.”

      Great links today. I’m still chortling over the Onion piece.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Man, the op-ed is chewed to pieces in the comments. What a funhouse vision of conservatism this deluded chap has. And wtf are “market-based alternatives” to safety-net programs? I see, we need to put rent-seeking middlemen between the elderly and their social security, or a poor mother and her food stamps. Right. That’s the “brilliance” of conservatism right there.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        What better way to separate the undeserving poor from the (nonexistent) deserving poor than rigged market cannibalism?

      2. jrs

        unfortunately many of the comments are of the “what did Obama do to destroy the country?” version. Isn’t fully legitimizing the W Bush policies and taking many of them much further than even W did ENOUGH?

  4. McMike

    re microfiber scientist.

    Of course he’s up against the classic catch-22 facing anyone who is concerned about pollution or pharmaceutical intervention. The industry says: “prove it’s a problem.” Knowing full well that they control the funding and universities necessary to do so. If necessary, they can get their Congressional goons to prohibit the NiH/NiS from funding any research too. That tactic buys them a couple decades of continued unhindered operation.

    Then, once proven as a problem, they say: “prove it came from us.”

    Sorry to see Patagonia acting off that script. Ocean sports enthusiasts are at the heart of their core constituency. But they are, above all, still a business (which they are keen to remind people), and this may well be an existential threat. Then again, they were once told it was impossible to source organic cotton. But their mission premise has long been that recycled synthetic fleece is superior environmentally to virgin cotton.

  5. Carolinian

    Orszag’s response to Brill’s Bitter Pill is very weak tea. As he himself admits it’s too early to draw any firm conclusions about the effect of the ACA on costs. Hence the “probably” and “I suspect.” It should be noted that in the early 90s medical cost inflation also slowed as providers tried to work the umpires during the Hillarycare debate in Congress. Once that ill conceived plan was defeated it was back to business as usual.

    1. YankeeFrank

      I’ve never read or listened to anything from Orszag that wasn’t weak tea. He’s a true Obama progressive in that way.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Today some of the more important economic reports, CPI and capacity utilization, were released.

    CPI at a 12-month rate (which gets rid of seasonal influences) rose only 0.76%. But core CPI (excluding food and energy) rose 1.61% from 12 months ago, down from 1.70% in last month’s report. For perspective, a year ago the 12-month rise from Dec. 2012 to Dec. 2013 was 1.72%. Rock steady, as it were.

    Capacity utilization fell in December to 79.7% from 80% in November. That’s still higher than all of the readings in 2014 except for December.

    Conclusion: we haven’t turned Japanese.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Up only 1.61%?

      What about health care cost? What about tuition? What about organic food?

      Wait, it’s all included in that 1.61%? Except food, which is excluded.

      So, that should put you at ease, I guess.


      But, it’s the Manor Lord’s perspective. He’s selling you products and you have to buy to live.

      From yours, the serf’s perspective, your wage has stagnated or gone down.

      If your pay is 5% less, your ‘real’ inflation would be 6.61%.

      Those products on the shelf don’t say scream inflation by themselves. You need them. You have to pay for them. And, so your pay should be figured in the inflation/deflation/purchasing power consideration…unless we are talking about some Gentlemen’s Club featuring exotic robot dancers where serfs, without no money, can only look, but not touch.

      1. fresno dan

        That whole incessant chatter about lack of inflation…
        Funny (no its NOT) how the 40 years of wage deflation is never uttered.

  7. Roquentin

    I cringed when I read that Soros essay on Ukraine and stopped after about 4 paragraphs. I expected better from him. Instead it was the same Western cant or media churns out on a daily basis. Calling Crimea joining Russia an “annexation” was about all I needed to see. I guess the fact that 90% of the population voted for it was lost on him. So many people forgot the Cold War ended, but I guess when you spent most of your life thinking that way old habits die hard. Actually, at this point I’d call even believing in the Cold War a problem, and by believing I mean the account via US propaganda Baby Boomers are so in love with.

      1. Banger

        That’s why history is so critical. We need to understand what happened when the USSR collapsed and who benefited. Lots of interesting forces at work. I can tell you this–Washington began to bloom with McMansions and also more designer versions thereof around that time.

    1. diptherio

      Yeah, that article is totally 180 degrees from my understanding of reality. Besides referring to the Ukraine civil war, started after a coup by (among others) neo-Nazis, as a “Russian invasion,” he also seems to be under the impression that the Ukraine is already part of NATO, since he says “losing” Ukraine would be a huge blow. But how can you lose something you never had? No mention, of course, of the non-expansion agreements entered into by our previous glorious leaders…

      But the real clincher for me, the proof that Soros is a scum-sucking-sleazeball-war-monger extraordinaire is his nonsensical comments on “EU principles and governance”:

      Neither Europe’s leaders nor its citizens seem to recognize that Russia’s attack on Ukraine is indirectly an assault on the EU and its principles of governance.

      And what are those principles? Well, not democracy or obeisance to the popular will, apparently:

      Europe is fortunate that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has behaved as a true European with regard to the threat posed by Russia. The foremost advocate of sanctions, she has been more willing to defy German public opinion and business interests on the issue than on any other.

      Oh yes, being willing to act against the interests and desires of the people you supposedly represent…it’s the EU way, apparently.

      Soros obviously has a lot of money wrapped up in W. Ukraine and is looking for a bailout from the IMF and the EU. He can’t say that directly, though, so he writes this nonsense about how if the EU doesn’t start supporting the Nazis, the nasty Russians will take over the world (or at least the Baltic). What a douche.

      1. susan the other

        Good points. I’ve done a 180 on Soros in the last decade. He started out backing Obama, but it seems Obama is not marching to that drum. In fact, if you puzzle over the relationship between Putin and Obama and between Russia and the US you have to deal with things that go unmentioned – like (imo) the exchange of Crimea and eastern Ukraine for Cuba. There’s no way in hell we are going to interfere against Russia in behalf of the batshit country known as Ukraine. Sorry Senators McCain and Graham. And you can’t tell me that wasn’t a very slick deal between two superpowers for the purpose of consolidating the oil industry into two basic blocks. But lest I be seen as a conspiracy speculator (Lambert – I do see your point about pointlessness) I would simply point out that we are never told what is going on. Ever. All we can do is second guess. And guessing correctly is very powerful politically. And also too, Soros’ attempt to end run the US administration, to me, is the height of offensiveness. Georgie should stick to his bond vigilantism, even tho’ it no longer pays off to vulture the entire world. Too bad for you Mr. Soros.

  8. financial matters

    Swiss Shock Tarnishes Central Banks WSJ

    Hmm.. Self parody?

    Maybe they are realizing that propping up stock markets shouldn’t be the goal of central banks.

    They massively went the other direction in August of 2011 after marked decline of global stock markets.

    1. Jim Haygood

      We vaporized some folks:

      ‘Due to the sudden move in the value of the Swiss Franc (“CHF”) yesterday, several of our customers suffered losses in excess of their deposit with us. Such debits amount to approximately $120 million, less than 2.5% of our net worth.’

      Interactive Brokers allows its customers to own both stocks and futures in the same account. This is somewhat unusual, as most brokers are either stocks-only or futures-only, given the different regulatory regimes.

      Prior to yesterday’s fireworks, the CME Swiss franc futures contract, for 125,000 CHF, was valued at about $96,000. A customer holding it with $5,000 margin was leveraged 19-to-1. Those who got stopped out at the worst prices, just after the announcement, could have lost as much as $30,000 per contract.

      Not only will the broker confiscate their $5,000 margin deposit, but also the broker will come after them to pay up the remaining $25,000 debit balance as well. Welcome to wild world of fiat currencies, with purely notional values.

  9. DJG

    From the Nature article, still another problem with free speech (and this article sets all conspiracy theories to rest–with the old slogan, paraphrased, It’s the economy, stupid, and it’s not having a clear path to full citizenship, stupid). Three salient paragraphs:
    It’s not just because it’s dangerous. It’s because human subjects reviews at universities and especially the [US] defence department won’t let this work be done. It’s not because it puts the researcher in danger, but because human subjects [research ethics] criteria have been set up to defend middle class university students. What are you going do with these kind of protocols when you talk to jihadis? Get them to sign it saying, “I appreciate that the Defense Department has funded this work,” and by the way if you have any complaints, call the human subjects secretary? This sounds ridiculous and nothing gets done, literally.

    Have you run into such difficulties with your fieldwork?
    As an example, I got permission, before the [three] Bali bombers [who carried out a set of simultaneous attacks in 2002] were executed, to interview them. They were going to be shot because they blew up 200 people. I couldn’t get human subjects approval because “you have to bring a lawyer, and besides we won’t allow anyone to interview prisoners.” I said why? “You can never be sure you’re not violating their right to speech.”

    Then you have crazy things [required by US funding bodies] like host country authorization. Suppose you want to do work in Israel and Palestine. So you go to the Israelis, say, “We want to do studies, just like we do in American universities,” and say, “We need host country authorization from some government.” They say, “Are you crazy?” And in many countries that are in chaos, who’s going to give you permission?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That link is a gem. We’ve spent a squillion dollars storing data on social networks that are digital, and yet we have no open, public scholarship about the actual social networks on the ground.

      “I don’t know whether to puke or go blind,” as my father would say.

      1. DJG

        Maybe you should post it again: It shows so many institutions all a-quiver with fear. You can’t have a widespread conspiracy in a society so dominated by bureaucracy and legal niceties. You can’t have conspiracy in a society so dominated by fear. What we have instead is an assumption of fecklessness–genial incompentence everywhere. Please sign the form so that you can interview jihadis, sheesh.

  10. Jef

    Target in Canada – “There isn’t a bigger implosion and it needs to be really understood this is entirely their fault,” Danahy said.” In other words there is no underlying economic problem here. The stores had customers lined up around the block we just couldn’t figure out how to separate them from their money so we quit. Ya right.

  11. diptherio

    Would Global Violence Decline Faster If U.S. Was Less Militaristic? Scientific American

    Like asking, “would domestic violence decline if I stop beating my wife?” I think I can figure out the answer without even reading the article.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Who is the biggest purveyor of violence?

      Should it be under gun-control, if not more?

      Do we want it to be able to spend as much as it wants?

  12. Gareth

    My oh my, George Soros has turned into quite the war monger. It’s interesting that his narrative excludes mention the coup that destroyed any faith in the Ukrainian constitution citizens in the eastern regions may have had. Coups have a way of starting civil wars, especially in a country that was the third largest arms exporter in the world.

  13. Fool

    “‘the market’ is a scam run for the benefit of cronies and insiders.”

    But in what context or point in history has this not been the case? The logical impulse of commercial exchange is extracting the most from a counterparty and at the lowest price. Of course, that’s the argument for smart regulation.

    1. vidimi

      true, but in the past, unless the king was unvolved, you had to be a willing participant in it. these days, we’re all unwilling participants in the Market (hallowed be Its name)

    2. Ulysses

      “The logical impulse of commercial exchange is extracting the most from a counterparty and at the lowest price”

      Give yourself a Harvard M.B.A.!! Anyone who conflates “logic” with selfishness and greed is a perfect neoliberal true believer.

      Here’s a counter-example: When I was still living in Rhode Island several years ago, my neighbor saw me painting the garage and offered to help. He would have been quite happy to work for no compensation at all as he is a generous man. Yet I knew that the reason he had the time was that he was underemployed at the moment in his carpentry business. So, in spite of a little awkwardness, I insisted on paying him union wages. This was very logical on my part since it deepened our mutual respect for each other, winning me a true friend who could be relied on in any circumstance, for life. Not long after, he used his family connections in the local political establishment to help one of my in-laws out of a little jam. My decision not to “take advantage” was logical and resulted in good long-term outcomes for both of us!!

      1. aletheia33

        one needs to distinguish between outright altruistic giving and the exchange of favors. each has its place. the latter is the basis of much social exchange that is nonmonetary; it has aspects of formal, contractual trade but is not the same thing. it is the basis of most local political establishments, of big city political machines, and backroom/old boy network deals, as well as neighborhood relations.

        it is actually quite difficult to simply altruistically give something to someone (aside from intimates and family), person-to-person, without the recipient assuming they incur a reciprocal obligation of some kind. i have found this to be true in the neighborhood where i live and other contexts. in the same way, people are often reluctant to ask for help they may desperately need for fear of not being able to reciprocate, even though in fact most people, when asked, say, to help out someone who is very ill or incapacitated, if they feel they have the requisite time or money to spare, will welcome the chance to do a good deed and enjoy the accompanying good feelings it brings.

        i’ve found it very useful in life to remember that almost all human interactions (person-to-person) consist of some kind of overt or covert deal making. i do not view this as a problem but one of the ways humans soften the fears of one another that we’re so prone to. it’s merely the currency that we call social capital.

        unfortunately, pure unfettered cannibalism, i mean capitalism, by monetizing all relations and relationships, will have to result ultimately, logically, in the complete freeze-up of all social capital liquidity, of every way that human society works.

    3. Alejandro

      You make an excellent point for the “money-came-from-barter” strain. OTOH there’s debt as obligation, or more appropriately mutual obligation which implies reciprocity. Has financialization distorted our sense of obligation without a corresponding sense of reciprocity? Are “markets” becoming a substitute for communities?

  14. vidimi

    re: malcolm gladwell’s new yorker piece

    Summers’s point was that an M.L.R. floor distorted the insurer’s incentives. The argument goes like this: Suppose your doctor sends you to an imaging center to get a thousand-dollar MRI. But then your insurance company calls you and says that it’s found an equivalent provider just down the street that charges two hundred dollars. This, presumably, is what we want insurers to do. The market for medical procedures lacks price transparency and competition, and it’s scandalous that insurers routinely pay thousands of dollars for an MRI scan when the true cost of the procedure, by any metric, is a fraction of that. By taking steps like this, Summers thought, insurers could finally rein in, or even reduce, health-care premiums, which had been rising faster than inflation for years. But it is also highly likely that the insurer will keep a chunk of that eight-hundred-dollar savings for itself, in the form of higher profits. The prospect of higher profits is an insurer’s incentive for going to the trouble of looking for a cheaper MRI. In other words, if insurers do what we want them to do—cut costs and rein in premiums—it is likely that their loss ratios will fall. Why, Summers wondered, would you want to penalize them for doing that?

    summer’s reasoning is idiotic (shocking, i know). by flooring insurers’ loss ratios (he really means combined ratios) you don’t stop them from looking to minimize claim sizes for a few reasons: one, if you don’t, your loss ratios may exceed your floor, and that’s no good; b) if you’re sloppy with your claim expenses, other insurers will undercut you by offering lower premiums while still keeping that 85% combined ratio.

    combined ratio flooring and various profit sharing schemes happen unregulated with larg group clients all the time in health insurance. it’s absurd to think it shouldn’t be done with the government.

    i don’t think summers is stupid, so the only way you can explain specious arguments like the above is that he’s corrupt as fuck.

    none of that is to say that the argument is a red herring to begin with and that private insurance profits have no place in a public healthcare programme.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      ” But then your insurance company calls you and says that it’s found an equivalent provider just down the street that charges two hundred dollars.
      “The prospect of higher profits is an insurer’s incentive for going to the trouble of looking for a cheaper MRI.”

      Since when does ANY of this even happen? Your insurer “calls you up?” Your insurer “goes to the trouble of looking for a cheaper MRI?”

      There are three insurers who have split up the country and agreed not to compete with each other. They set a price for an MRI, cobble together a “network” of providers who agree to accept that price, refuse to tell anyone what that price is, and pay $0 to any provider not in-network.

      Then they get busy writing policy language restricting and qualifying the insured’s access to said MRI. They are most certainly NOT “calling up” MRI providers to get a better deal on their insured’s behalf, and taking a chunk of the “savings” as profit for “doing what we want them to do.”

      If you want to “bend the cost curve,” (god, how utterly stupid that rhetorical construct is) make every provider put a price tag on every service. Right up front where everyone can see it, written down and binding. Just like every other “free-market” consumer good.

      1. cwaltz

        I think what Summers fails to realize is that the FOR PROFIT insurance companies could care less whether American families get a good deal or not.

        They’ve capped what they’ll pay and the rest is on you.

        I still remember calling them and telling them that my IN NETWORK hospital cost me over a grand because they employed an out of network doctor. Their resolution was for ME, not them, to complain to the hospital. Advocating for patients, my backside.

    2. fresno dan

      I’ve noted this lack of “price transparency” before – and the question is, whose fault is that? Its as plausible to argue that insurers try to keep the price hidden so that the benefit of collusion with the doctors and hospitals can be split between them.
      As Katniss says, what if prices were publically posted? There would be very little benefit to insurance company networks – look at house or car insurance – if your merely competing on price of insurance comparing providers becomes rather straightforward. It strikes me that price opacity benefits both doctors and insurers, and that is why it is so unpossible to find out the price of a procedure. And along those lines, its probably why its also so difficult to find out about the quality of a doctor or hospital…

  15. Paul Tioxon

    Washington Echo Chamber or American Decline of Soft Power?

    On Obama, or Biden’s or Kerry’s or Bruce Springsteen for that matter, missing in action from the Paris Big Wig conga line. I mean, where was STing? Is America’s soft power in decline? If Ted Cruz wanted to show he was ready to lead the Free World, where was he? Buried deep in this puff piece of what passes for inside the Beltway Sophisticates is the money shot: “The irony in Obama’s no-show in Paris is it went unnoticed beyond Washington.” Exactly, beyond Washington, it went unnoticed. You want to what went noticed about who actually did Solidarity Mambo? The hypocrisy of many from among the 50 nations who sent leaders or high ranking officials. From France24:

    “But Reporters Without Borders has highlighted how many of the heads of state and high-ranking ministers present on Sunday represent countries that themselves have highly questionable records when it comes to free speech, from the suppression of demonstrations to the imprisonment of journalists.

    “Below are some of the countries officially represented at the march that rank particularly low on Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index (PFI), which places Finland at the top and Eritrea and North Korea at the bottom, ranked respectively 179th and 180th. France found itself at 39 on the on the 2014 list of 180 countries.

    • Algeria – PFI ranking: 121 out of 180. Represented by Ramtane Lamara, Foreign Minister
    The presence of Foreign Affairs Minister Ramtane Lamara has made headlines in Algeria. The website Algérie-Focus noted that: “Marches and public protests are banned in Algeria, but Algerian ministers have the right to march in the streets of … Paris!” In April 2014, demonstrations in April against a fourth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika were suppressed by authorities.

    • Russia – PFI Ranking: 148. Represented by Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister
    Numerous Russian journalists have been imprisoned, often in Siberia, and two NGOs that support the media have been added to an official list of “foreign agents”, a term used to stigmatise NGOs that receive foreign funding and are suspected of “political activity”. Alexei Navalny, a blogger who has regualraly criticised President Vladimir Putin, has also been the target of harassment by the authorities and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in January on embezzlement charges.

    • Turkey – PFI Ranking: 148. Represented by Ahmet Davutoglu, Prime Minister
    Nearly 70 journalists are currently being prosecuted in Turkey for referring to corruption allegations against these close associates of the former prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now the country’s president. Turkey has also imprisoned newspaper editors for their alleged links with Fethullah Gülen, an influential Muslim cleric currently the subject of an arrest warrant after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government.

    • Egypt – PFI ranking: 156. Represented by Sameh Shukri, Foreign Minister
    Sixteen journalists, including three from Al-Jazeera, are currently in Egyptian prisons. The Al-Jazeera journalists have been held captive since December 2013 for “spreading false news” and “membership of a terrorist organisation”. They had been serving sentences of between seven and ten years when the Egyptian Supreme Court ordered a retrial earlier this month.”

    And to top off the incestuous transmission of Washington Centric news, Leslie Gelb is the pillar of gravitas quoted in this piece as an echo chamber, the woman who writes this is a … Washington based correspondent for an Arab paper based in … London! Since 2004. Woman, you be too long in Babylon.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Non Sequitur of the Year from Bloomberg:

    ‘The economic pressure being applied by Russia is threatening to push Ukraine to the brink of default, putting the burden on the U.S. and its allies to keep the war-ravaged nation afloat.’

    We broke it, so ‘we’ have to pay for it? Screw that noise. But wait, there’s more:

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk about “progress in assembling a broad package of international financing that will support Ukraine,” the White House said Jan. 14 in an e-mailed statement. The U.S. has pledged as much as $2 billion in loan guarantees as long as Ukraine’s government adheres to the IMF’s demands.

    That would be the same Joe Biden whose son Hunter Biden is on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. All in the family, as it were. Conflict of interest much?

    1. Carolinian

      Sounds like we are going to be paying for it. Of course by “we” I don’t mean the idiots who got us involved in this mess but “me.” Please note that one of the leading idiots was the feared Hildabeast.

      James Fallows was on Newshour talking about his Chickenhawk Nation article. Margaret Warner looked extra constipated listening to this thesis but to her, and their, credit he was on. One of his ideas is that Americans would be more opposed to our various wars if they had more at stake in their waging. But of course financially we pay plenty. It’s just that nobody likes to talk about it.

      In the end what brought down the British Empire was not justice but money. They went broke trying to be the big shots in a world economy that had moved on. So maybe it’s time for a financial critique of militarism. Bring back Proxmire’s Golden Fleece award.

      1. optimader

        “if they had more at stake in their waging. ” = if they were not so incurious to understand what they have at stake.

        The simple solution is reinstatement of a Draft. That would quickly render what is important enough to engage in perpetual hostilities. Of course it would also reinstate draft deferment food fights for the “more than equal” class, but this at least would be in the public square.

        1. Elliott

          The simple solution is reinstatement of a Draft. That would quickly render what is important enough to engage in perpetual hostilities. Of course it would also reinstate draft deferment food fights for the “more than equal” class, but this at least would be in the public square.

          Amen. We should have done that before we sauntered into Iraq.

        2. different clue

          I believe I remember reading that the US Army itself wanted the draft ended after several Late Vietnam War years of silent rolling velvet-mutiny among many drafted soldiers, and more violent expressions of that such as fragging.

          And up till that point, the draft had zero effect on the Vietnam War policy. Oh, a lot of people disliked it and even protested, but the Governators in Power carried on regardless.

          1. Optimader

            In my own experience i saw the tide of opinion turn against the war as it negatively touched families of tragic outcome draftees. But thats just what I observed.

          2. VietnamVet

            This is true. Ending the draft and the volunteer army backed up by private contractors has allowed the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to go on forever even while victory is impossible. Muslim blowback caused by these wars, the West’s arming of Jihadists, and the drone bombing attacks is employed as justification for keeping the wars going; Cameron and Obama today.

            The James Fallows Interview on last night’s NewsHour was notable for the lack of the counter propaganda from the war loving Kagan neo-conservative clan. 2014 is significant for the restart of the Cold War and complete lack of mainstream media recognition of the West’s complicity in the Kiev Putsch.

            Vietnam’s angst of being the last person to die for a mistake becomes inevitable for everyone once the nuclear war with Russia ignites.

            1. zapster

              I dunno, the ‘Nam war was the backdrop of my entire childhood. It went on and on and on. And the Korean war before that, and.. anyway. I don’t see a draft having any effect on it at all. It took years of protest–and it’s not at all clear that that had anything to do with ending it anyway. Standard oil finishing it’s mapping of it’s oil fields tho…

              Americans do oppose these wars, more and more. And inequality, and unemployment, and a multitude of other issues that are *also* being completely ignored by TPTB. A draft would simply be a method of thinning the ranks of potential protesters.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Well, you know, working on Wall Street is stressful, being rich is tough (from what I have read recently here), but yeah, we could use more comfort women from Eastern Europe, and our imperialists are working hard on that front, with a little bit of help from our Swiss mortgage holders.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      “But wait, there’s more:”

      And WHY is Ukraine on the economic ropes? Because Russia is calling in an “economic bond.” So, the American taxpayers’ $2 billion will be used to pay off Ukraine’s debt to Russia.

      You know, that same Russia whose economy we’re “strangling” with those economic “sanctions” as punishment for their “invading” and “annexing” Crimea.

      But what’s a few billion among comrades? It’ll just take $2 billion longer for those crippling “sanctions” to bite.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We are lucky…EXCEPTIONALLY lucky in that we can print as much imperial money as we want.

        None of these countries can.

  17. Bridget

    Maybe someday science will tell us why sheets that have been hung out on a clothesline to dry smell so heavenly.

    And then somebody can bottle it and sell it.

    1. Demeter

      It’s ozone, that’s been known for years.

      When I was a kid, we had a gas dryer that had a UV lightbulb to generate ozone, for just that reason.

      I am guessing the EPA and the safety rules took that out…ozone is not good to breathe and the UV light is not good to stare at.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Eat with your kids.

    This should help, if your job makes it difficult: Basic Income Guarantee.

    1. cwaltz

      One of the reasons I like the idea of a Basic income guarantee would be the idea that maybe, just maybe Americans might get back to a reasonable balance between work and personal life.

      It’s be nice to see us go back to the idea that a 40 hour work week is plenty productive.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have read that BIG complements JG though not specifically how, so far (or I might have missed it).

        I did try, however, to see if it’s possible, in some way, BIG = JG. Its’ possible, for example, if gazing at stars, or working (in a playful manner) with cats, intensively, is considered a job.

        It’s also quite possible we already have BIG, as, for example, we get free homeland security from the government, without having to pay for it (taxation doesn’t pay for government services), keeping in mind, the IRS considers a free gift as income. So, that free surveillance is income to us, and you can guarantee you get it.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ocean Life Going Extinct.

    Human Forked-Tongue Speak 101: How to really understand what they say.

    ‘I love you, tuna’ or ‘I love tuna,’ or any other such variants – it means, I am going to kill you, your family and your species.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Conservatives in name only.

    Blame Liberals.

    We all have a bit of yin and a bit of yang in us, or a bit of anima and a bit of animus.

    Likewise, we are a mixture or rationality and irrationality, etc…and a mixture of conservatism and liberalness.

    It’s what you do with your heart, knowing we can love and can hate as well.

  21. fresno dan

    High-Speed Video Reveals The Source Of That Incredible After-Rain Smell io9

    I’m thinking its butterfly farts….if you eat nothing but flowers

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “… the group has identified a mechanism for raindrop-induced aerosol generation, the results may help to explain how certain soil-based diseases spread.”

      Not just raindrops, but animals relieving themselves as well.

  22. Demeter

    It wasn’t Greece that broke the Euro. It wasn’t France, or Italy.

    It was Switzerland. For some reason, the Swiss had decided to peg their currency to the Euro. In essence, they became a member of the Eurozone by that peg. And when they did, suddenly the Euro was doing good things.

    Until the good times stopped. And then, the Swiss decided to cut loose from the Euro. They did it first, because they only bound themselves to one tiny piece of the whole megillah: the euro exchange rate. So, it was easy for them to do. They didn’t have to change anything else because they hadn’t given up anything else.

    The first one out gets all the bennies….and so it proved.

    How this Eurozone stuff is going to prevent a war escapes me. It always did. But I’m not an economist, either.

  23. different clue

    I believe Ian Welsh of Canada is a well respected blogger. He has written an interesting post on some details of what Greece could do to save itself from Troikanazi Aggression ( my word for it).

    I have just vaguely said that Greece should leave the Euro, leave ugly, and burn it down on their way out the door. But Ian Welsh offers some specific how-and-why ideas as to how Greece can save itself by doing that.

Comments are closed.