Links 1/18/15

Kitty compassion: Stray cat saves homeless baby’s life Christian Science Monitor

Cat Cafe Offers a Place to Snuggle, With Reservations New York Times

FCC May Permit Robocalls to Cell Phones – If They are Calling a Wrong Number Slashdot (bob). Help me.

Congress Lines Up FCC Commissioners-Turned-Lobbyists For Hearing To Say Why Congress’s Bad Net Neutrality Proposal Is Great Consumerist

Solar Jobs Report Shows Huge Growth Huffington Post (Glenn F)

America Is In The Middle Of A New Cold War Business Insider (David L). The US gets aggressive with Russia, Russia seeks to strengthen ties with countries that will still be its ally, the most important of which is China, and the US is some sort of innocent victim?

Swiss Shock

Making Swiss Cheese Of The Euro? Steve Keen, Forbes

Tough times ahead for the Swiss economy Walter Kurtz

Swiss Move Prompts Fears of Sustained Market Tumult New York Times

Quote of the Day: “Currencies Don’t Move Much. Without Leverage, No One Would Trade” Michael Shedlock (furzy mouse)

The Swiss Franc Chaos Shows Why Negative Interest Rates Don’t Work Business Insider (Chuck L)

Hebdo Fallout

Paris march: TV wide shots reveal a different perspective on world leaders at largest demonstration in France’s history Independent (Katniss Everdeen, Chuck L)

The Lesson of Charlie Hebdo: The World Only Cares if You Kill White People Alternet (furzy mouse)


Saudi Arabia Plunges into an Abyss Global Guerillas (Chuck L)

Islamic State Has Tripled Its Territory In Syria Since U.S. Started Airstrikes George Washington

Obama Proposes New Tax Hikes on Wealthy to Aid Middle Class Bloomberg

Driving the Obama Tax Plan: The Great Wage Slowdown New York Times

Life, Liberty, Happiness: Health, Food, Shelter Truthout

Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

Common Risks in America: Cars and Guns Bruce Schneier

Chicago Is No Longer a Lock to Host Obama’s Library New York Times. NYC is now on the list. Aieee.

Is the era of the mega-bank ready to come to a close? Telegraph

Republicans and Wall Street Say To Hell With Protecting the Public! Bill Moyers. A must-read interview with Simon Johnson.

Antonio Weiss Nomination Post-Mortem Adam Levitin, Credit Slips. A great piece on the Weiss nomination as an example of Wall Street’s sense of entitlement.

Example of an economics exam from Harvard University in 1953 Mostly Economics (MS)


BP sees $50 oil for three years Robert Peston. Note this is contrary to the IEA forecast.

Falling Oil Prices: Good For Drivers, Bad For Banks NPR

Class Warfare

An Opulent Bet on Housing New York Times

The Fascinating Origins of Religion — and Why It’s Deeply Intertwined With Violence Alternet (furzy mouse)

Simon Heffer: Why it’s time to debunk the Churchill myth New Statesman (Chuck L)

Organizing After the Odeh Verdict Jacobin (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour:

sparrowhawk links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Llewelyn Moss

    re: Congress Lines Up FCC Commissioners-Turned-Lobbyists For Hearing on Net Neutrality Proposal

    The bill “removes the authority of the FCC to regulate internet openness at all. ” A Neoliberal Wet Dream come true. Here we go. Good bye Internet, the last bastion of truly open and free speech.

    So my question is will the ‘New’ Obama sign this POS. He’s been talking up his new found Progressivism lately (all talk so far). But a Neoliberal can’t change it’s spots. As typical they usually sprinkle powdered sugar on the Turd (aka Bill) before they serve it to the public. Can’t wait to hear how they spin this one. Bon Appetit All.

    1. timbers

      Obama appointed most/all of those lobbyists at FCC. He’s appointed 2 FCC Chairman, both industry linked and anti net neutrality (in action at least).

      Obama is “for” a lot of things when he knows it can’t pass: net neutrality but only now after he’s appointed lots of people to the FCC who want to kill it….”for” taxing Wall Street and the 1% now that it can’t pass and after he gave them huge tax cuts when he didn’t have to….”for” minimum wage increase now when it can’t pass, but not when he could have passed it, and also NOT for ending his wage freeze on the millions of federal workers who work for him.

      1. TedWa

        Wall St reform and Dodd/Frank belong in that list too. “No lobbyists will be writing bills” was one of campaign statements. He let bank lobbyists write Dodd/Frank, knowing that it would end up being a shallow attempt at real reform and then bragging far and wide about how great his Wall St reform was.

      2. LizinOregon

        And now this bogus tax increase proposal that can never pass a Republican Congress and is a transparent attempt to help Hillary. It fits the pattern nicely.

        1. ambrit

          Someone with a better understanding please correct me if I err, but this would be “Kabuki-Do,” neh?

  2. Dino Reno

    America is in the middle of a new cold war…

    “Russia and China now cooperate and coordinate to an unprecedented degree—politically, militarily, economically—and their cooperation, almost without deviation, carries anti-American and anti-Western ramifications. Russia, China, and a constellation of satellite states seek to undermine American power, dislodge America from its leading position in the world, and establish a new, anti-Western global power structure.”
    Read more:

    A funny thing has happened to Business Insider. It has become less a business digest and more the house organ of the State Department proliferating neocon views. No doubt there are multiple fringe benefits for aligning a struggling web news site with the most powerful political and economic force on the planet, namely, they can stop struggling as long as they tow the party line. Since NC readers are regularly provided links to BI stories, said readers may want to consider the BI source in this new light or let me know that my neocondar has seriously malfunctioned. Personally, I find the transmogrification rather creepy, even more so than the regular MSM.

    1. Jim Haygood

      From the web page of one of the authors:

      Douglas E. Schoen has been one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for over thirty years. A founding partner and principle [sic] strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland …

      From Wikipedia:

      ‘Hundreds of polls carried out by the company helped Bill Clinton to develop his “new Democrat” language and policies. For example, the terms “bridge to the 21st century” and “soccer moms” were developed with help from Penn, who advised Clinton to begin using such market-tested phrases.

      ‘Penn was hired by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005, to provide advice for the upcoming UK general election. The strategy helped Labour, with Blair in leadership, to win a third term for the first time in the party’s history.’

      Yep, nobody here but us Democrat neocons! This article serves as an early strategy paper for the presumptive Democratic nominee, the lovely Broom Hilda Ceausescu.

    2. diptherio

      Hey, if they’re not with us, they’re against us, right? Therefore, any person, organization or country who doesn’t want us to run literally everything in the world is against us: anti-American and anti-Western, by definition. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that…(I mean, apart from it being bat-sh!t insane)

      1. James Levy

        It gets to the heart of why the United States has no diplomacy and no diplomatic clout. Its’ all payoffs, threats, and actual violence. American leaders literally cannot imagine that anyone else on the planet has any legitimate national interests. Since foreigners have no legitimate interests, there is no reason to bargain with them and horse-trade. Anything the US would give them would be unnecessary or a mistake. We know what it best for them. Take what we offer you, or else–you should all be grateful that we, the “last best hope of humanity” (sorry Lincoln, but that’s so hubristic and megalomaniacal it’s really insane) have it in our hearts to lead you poor wretched sods! This is why I fear that the US elite would rather see the world destroyed than America lose its position of preeminence.

        1. diptherio

          I fear that the US elite would rather see the world destroyed than America lose its position of preeminence.

          Iron Law of Institutions with a vengeance.

        2. Banger

          Then why has Washington, essentially, been running Euro foreign policy and Wall Street’s clearly criminal activity which crippled Europe’s financial system as well as heavy surveillance gotten so little attention in Europe? Why has Washington been able to stampede Europe into an anti-Russian crusade, for awhile?

          1. James Levy

            Bribes, blackmail, and the threat to their foreign investments (which Uncle Sam’s guns guarantee will not be nationalized and all loans repaid) are what keeps the Euro elite on board, not any kind of pre-1945 diplomacy. They will sacrifice the needs, even the lives, of their people to a system that entrenches their comparative power and affluence. No other explanation (other than the notion of Cognitive Capture on a world-historical scale) makes any sense.

      1. Dino Reno

        Traffic is one thing, profits yet another. They have pretty much run without a profit since day one, aside from one quarter. It just shows you how old fashion I am to think a real business needs to be in the black to be successful. I think their hard editorial turn to neocon power brokers is their strategic attempt to curry favor with the elites damn the numbers.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          They just ran this story today, which disproves that theory.

          A Former FBI Special Agent Says The CIA Kept Him From Helping Stop 9/11

          I think they are just running anything that is good clickbait.

          BI’s problem is a hugely inefficient editorial side. $15 million for 70 “journalists” when most of their articles are cross posts? You don’t need senior journos for that. And even good journos are not all that well paid. They are paying over $200K per journo on average, when they don’t need a lot of overhead (the journos could all work from home, fer Chrissakes), and the hosting and copyediting oversight isn’t terribly expensive at their scale. They have a cost problem, not a revenue problem.

    3. sufferin' succotash

      If there were no Cold War neoconservatives would have to invent one and that’s pretty much what they did, courtesy of Mrs. Robert Kagan in Kiev last year. I’m still wondering to what extent the White House was aware in advance of the covert finagling that led up to the Ukraine fiasco. It’s not inconceivable that poor Barack was handed a fait accompli by Vicki & Co. and had to go along with it or else advertise his lack of control over the Cold Warriors at State, Langley, Pentagon, etc,.

    4. VietnamVet

      Yahoo News and Daily Mail headlines “Ukrainian troops retake most of Donetsk airport from rebels” and “Russia cuts off gas supply to Europe”. Yes, the Cold War has restarted. But with the psychopath neo-cons stirring the pot, we are now into the worst East West confrontation since the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is just buried by the neo-liberal media. The start of WWIII won’t be reported until after the hydrogen bombs ignite,

      1. doggett

        “Ukrainian troops retake most of Donetsk airport from rebels”… but were then driven out again.

  3. andyb

    Ah yes; goodbye to the last vestige of freedom Westerners possess. THEY must be in control of all dissemination of info to mold us into obedient slaves. No truth will be allowed.

  4. Yonatan

    “The Lesson of Charlie Hebdo: The World Only Cares if You Kill White People”

    I guess the Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians being murdered en mass by neo-Nazis aren’t quite white enough for “The World” (TM).

    1. diptherio

      Whiteness is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for personhood in this f-ed up world we call home. Being poor or allied with the EVIL Russians over-rides any skin-color considerations. Ditto having non-mainstream political opinions or religious beliefs…it’s not ALL about race, ya’ know.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To the Chinese, it only matters if you kill Chinese people.

        To the Jews, it only matters if you kill Jewish people..

        To the Russians, it only matters if you kill Russian people.

        To the French, it only matters if you kill French people.

        Most of them, anyway.

        And maybe also if you are rich, you feel more ‘global.’

        If you are white and it only matters if they kill white people, your reptilian part of the brain is responding.

        If you are not white and if it only matters if they kill white people, well, you are a very good student in learning their propaganda. You have totally assimilated.

        These are all the obstacles one has to overcome to become enlightened*.

        *My definition of enlightened: beyond progressive.

    2. DJG

      I’d argue that the continuing suffering of the Greeks is derived from their not-white-enough-ness from the point of view of the Anglo-German-Americano elites.

      1. OIFVet

        Let’s just settle on Global Plantations and Global Negroes to denote all countries and peoples who are not white Anglo Saxon Germanics. Johnny Kerry went slumming to the BG plantation last Thursday. His idea about recouping BG’s losses from the South Stream cancellation: send an American energy adviser to the plantation’s Ministry of Energy, to better ensure the natives’ compliance with the best interests of the US. Which is a rehash of Merkel’s promise to send a German adviser to that same ministry, made last month. I’m thinking that the definition of sovereignty needs a 21st century update.

  5. yancey tobias

    Chicago is still the most probable cite for the Obama library—–It’s just that all the bribe money hasn’t come in. What other location would align itself with President Gasbag other than the Windy City. Anyway, how much space is required to house empty speeches.

    1. Propertius

      I disagree. I can see the signs now:

      “The J.P. Morgan Chase Goldman-Sachs Wellpoint Obama Presidential Library”

      They could put it right on Wall Street, where it belongs.

    2. OIFVet

      They want cathedral acoustics, with stained glass windows depicting drones and Wall Street bigwigs, and of course a teleprompter occupying the place of dishonor.

    3. rodert rudis

      Maybe instead of a library the President would prefer a sports arena, a special school, an anthropology museum, or even a golf course. Why a library? The Carter Center in Atlanta is a lovely place, but the construction of it literally split a neighborhood that did not want its homes destroyed, even if it was to honor a favorite son. Poncey-Highland is still one of Atlanta’s prettiest areas and now the Carter Center seems to fit right in.

      When GWB built his place down in Texas, I thought well, anyone can build a library, even if it doesn’t need books. I haven’t gone down to Dallas to see GWB’s place, and most likely won’t go. No offense to SMU, but a library honoring a President who scorned learning is offensive. Better to build a park of batting cages called Bats for Bush or something along those lines.

      So, I thought, why a library at all? Why not another venue, something no-one else has done. I was sort of joking about the golf course, but on second thought, why not a golf course? The club house would be big enough to house all the important history, and the visitors would get to do something besides sit through one of those boring government videos. It could have a putt-putt course and a bar and restaurant alongside the club house. It could be very nice and unpretentious.

  6. diptherio

    Passing this along:

    The issue: local regulators in the US are starting to apply laws meant for big, corporate seed producers to the approximately 300 community seed libraries in the US. Unless regulators are stopped soon, these seed libraries will be regulated out of existence. State regulators are copying one another and, unfortunately, this trend is gaining momentum.

    You can help us turn the tide by:

    -republishing our story or doing your own report about the issue. We have legal experts ready to talk to you.

    -if you don’t republish or cover, please share our campaign on social media.

    -you can personally sign the petition, a link to it is in the first paragraph of our story

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’d be happy to re-post the content of their post as an extra post some day this week. Do you know the people in this organization or are you just passing this on as another thing we need to get changed? If you do know them, can you alert them about the popup and my interest?

    2. fresno dan

      From a link in the link:

      “Ironically, this is in the name of “protecting and maintaining the food sources of America.” In this news article that went viral, regulators said that “agri-terrorism is a very, very real scenario.” In reality, seed libraries have emerged to protect our food sources and ensure access to locally adapted and heirloom varieties. The public’s access to seeds has been decreasing since a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that a life-form could be patented.I. Counter to this trend, seed libraries give members free seeds and request that members later harvest seed and give back to the library thereby growing the pool of seeds available to everyone.”
      Anyway, being an official curmudgeonly cynic, I find this the most relevant part
      “Since then, big seed companies have shifted away from open-pollinated seeds to patented hybridized and genetically engineered varieties. The companies prohibit farmers from saving and replanting such seeds, requiring that they buy new seeds each year”

      There’s your problem right there -“big seed”

      And another link – which seems to show to me that putting poison on food could be a terrorist act, it doesn’t give any credence to the story that Al Qaeda has Plant Seeds that could harm anything.

      So, transmission of diseases by seeds is certainly possible…
      But like a lot of things, terrorism makes a lot of grifts possible that didn’t use to be…
      Ironically, our all encompassing fear of terrorism makes us in actuality more vulnerable to the harm caused by a lack of genetic diversity in our seed stocks….as well as the fact that modern tomatoes taste like red crepe paper (actually, not as good as red crepe paper…)

  7. Banger

    Some people believe that 2015 will be “the year” that everything begins to crumble. The rise of ISIL, even attacking and killing a Saudi general is certainly a big deal. The Swiss de-pegging the Franc to the Euro seems to have caused quite a stir the full consequences of which we don’t know but combined with a possible Syriza victory in Greece could create a political crisis in Europe already very nervous after the CH attacks and the growing anti-immigrant sentiment could change political alignments in unpredictable ways. In addition, Washington seems uncertain and filled with factional fighting within the elites–I certainly can’t see a coherent policy about anything.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Hey Banger, stop sugar coating it. You left out:

      – Oil prices collapsing bankrupting shale oil drillers
      – Banks holding shale drillers loans are fubared. (aka more bank bailouts coming and are now automatic due to Cromnibus spending bill)
      – Wages stagnant or falling
      – ISIS war started with no way to fund it except more govt debt
      – Bubblicous stock market
      – Most new jobs are not a living wage

      But yes, time to replace the lawn with a vegetable garden and build a chicken coop.

      1. fresno dan

        I agree – the guy is an outrageous Pollyanna!!!!
        Plus, another year goes by without one tomato in the US tasting like an ACTUAL tomato

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      The Archdruid is saying much the same thing about big changes coming and getting ready.

      […]Those of my readers who still have a steady income and a home they expect to be able to keep would still be well advised to doublecheck their insulation and weatherstripping, install solar water heating and other homescale renewable energy technologies, and turn the back lawn into a vegetable garden with room for a chicken coop, if by any chance they haven’t taken these sensible steps already.

      1. Banger

        But we’ve heard those warnings every year since 2008-9 and no disaster has occurred. Why this year?

        1. jrs

          There’s we’re heading into global slowdown and a U.S. recession which is possible at this point (and if unemployment reaches the highs of 2008 that’s not good), and there’s everything is going to fall apart completely which is another matter.

          And the advice to deal with everything falling apart completely is always: do a bunch of things you can’t afford to do by any means, because your not close enough to the 1%, or well otherwise you may as well die. Thanks but the oligarchs already tell me that, I don’t need the doomsters to echo it in 1%er solidarity.

          My advice: keep calm and carry on.

        2. Gaianne

          Why this year?

          Check out Steve of Virginia’s “Triangle of Doom” (blog: Economic Undertow). The cost-floor of oil–the minimum price at which producers could produce–was converging toward the price-ceiling (what customers can afford to pay). At best we had another year to go.

          Somebody in the Deep State reads the same blogs we do–and panicked. So the neocons were turned loose in the State Department to kick over the global chessboard. It worked, except that it didn’t. Instead of caving, the Russians hunkered down for a prolonged economic(cold)/hot war. That war is currently stalemated, but it wrecks Europe immediately and hurts all parties at a time when no one has any excess to spend. So globalization is over, economies sag, the US fracking bubble pops, and here we are.

          So–thanks to the neocons–we go down a year ahead of schedule.

          It’s not the end: It’s the beginning—of uncontrolled global chaos and the new Great Depression. The prospects of the American empire have declined dramatically.


  8. Banger

    For those interested in Warren there’s an article by the Karen Tumulty in the WaPost today that makes interesting reading: Elizabeth Warren keeps pressure on Hillary Clinton and Democrats ahead of 2016. Tumulty, an important reporter who is very close to power, says essentially that Warren is looking to influence the DP to bring her issues to the fore within the context of the DP–and she has many sympathizers both in the DP and the RP. Washington has been hankering for a “new” political alliance of pragmatists who want to truly reform the system not in a populist sense but by creating a relatively non-corrupt system because this one is not working–perhaps Clinton could be the figurehead of such a system. I’ve commented on Warren’s ambitions before and this goes along with what I’ve said here in the past.

  9. Jef

    “Solar Jobs Report Shows Huge Growth”

    Just in time to maybe employ 10% of the mass layoffs in the fracking industry. That is until the ripple effect depresses the overall economy so much that no one has the money for solar and that includes governments inability to continue subsidies.

    “Renewable energy” is a rich mans toy. We could have made the decision to buildout the infrastructure when we were all rich in everything the world had to offer but now it is a pipe dream.

    Even though most here have read some of the information that supports this I bet most still think “well you never know it just might happen” then take another puff on the pipe.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      I always wonder what we could have done with the $3-4 Trillion p1ssed down the Iraq and Afgan War ratholes.

      And sadly weed is not legal in my state so I can’t even toke up and forget about this Misery gifted to us by our owners.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Well, you can always resort to … [lowers voice to a whisper] … anarchy.

        See — the sky didn’t fall.

        1. Banger

          I think thinking more about anarchy is a good thing–we are in a time of deconstruction–the old institutions are just hopeless in almost every area of life–anarchy has a pretty interesting intellectual tradition and provides a some good frameworks to think about politics.

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          anarchy Gasp!

          The fire marshal or police chief of Boston (couldn’t catch it on the news) had quite the way with words to describe a group of people who disrupted traffic on route 93 near Boston the other day to protest Police militarization; (I’m paraphrasing from memory), “We have determined that some of these protesters are… (pregnant pause) members of the Occupy Wall Street Anarchists.

          Now I’m scared.

          The latest technique in Reporter intrepidity these days is to NOT report at all what such protests are about (almost complete silence on that), but rather report on the disruption (of traffic in this case) and how justifiably irate those poor spluttering bystanders were (to be fair, It did allegedly cause some delay to an ambulance carrying someone who needed medical attention)

    2. Brian

      Ever put a piece of black plastic in a window that gets southern exposure to one room with a door closed?
      Try it and see how worthless that heat warming the room is. How about laying down on a black towel on a beach? In fact, if we didn’t have the resource, we wouldn’t be here. Ignore it at your peril.

    3. Eureka Springs

      @Jef The lower-middle income people (max on a good year 40k household income) I know who live entirely off the grid, do so in style, mortgage free, and are the only ones I know in their bracket who vacation twice a year for a month at a time. Colorado in the heat of Summer, Mexico beaches right now. Solar is now much lower than when they invested in it ten/twelve years ago…. wind too. What’s seemingly more expensive is to invest heavily in solar whilst remaining on the grid. It’s much better to build from scratch with off the grid design.

  10. Llewelyn Moss

    Hmmm. Anarchy. Tell me more.
    No wait, I am already on too many watch lists (I’m pretty sure).

  11. OIFVet

    Chicago no longer a lock to host Obama’s library: Go NYC!!! My geography is a bit murky, but isn’t Columbia University much closer to Obama’s Wall Street patrons anyway?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Save the money and make it an internet only library.

      That would be the first of its kind.

      And everyone can visit at his/her own convenience.

      Besides, it will be less medieval…more 21st century.

      1. ambrit

        Being purely digital, the “Keepers of the Flame” can constantly update the contents to ‘preserve’ the Masters legacy. What? You mean Orwell beat me to it? Again?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Building costs much higher here unless he wants to have his library anchor the redevelopment of the Bronx. Somehow I don’t think he’s that kind of guy.

      1. OIFVet

        I disagree Yves, you discount the costs of doing things ‘The Chicago Way’. Just one example: Millennium Park built ‘the Chicago Way.’ What was supposed to cost $150 million ended up costing $490 million and counting. The figure does not include the costs of the various lawsuits against the city (and there are quite a few), or the costs of selling off (or “leasing”, as Chicago pols like to claim) public assets and concessions for a small fraction of their true worth. Needless to say, I am quite the booster of Columbia’s bid. And I hope that the rumors about the Obamas buying a property in California are true. I don’t want them and their Secret Service detail back in my neighborhood, much less that monument to his Grand Betrayal.

        1. DJG

          Interesting: Obama lacks a sense of belonging to a place. It was obvious where most of the other presidential libraries would be sited. But Obama, the first purely postmodern president (indeterminacy of language, negotiation(s) of ethics, spectacle as spectacle, blah blah balh) is going to auction the thing off. Much as he has done with ambassadorships, evidently.

    3. Jackrabbit

      Neolib Modis Operandi

      C’mon guys! We’ve seen this play before. “NYC vs. Chicago” is for public consumption. How else do you justify taking park land?

      NIMBY (as a NYC Resident and Columbia alum): is there any better place for Obama’s legacy than the ‘Windy City’? QED

      1. OIFVet

        We are trying to break the cycle so help the brothers out and take his library. Please!!! Besides, I think we can all agree that Obama got elected with Wall Street money and and that Wall Street was the main beneficiary of his presidency, so NYC is a fitting location. Drop a library branch in Zuccotti Park too! It’s already privately owned anyway…

        1. Jackrabbit

          You take the library, we’ll host the ‘YES WE CAN!’ Drone Museum, complete with UAVs, obamabots, and sheeple.

          OK? (spits in hand, extends it)

          1. OIFVet

            No deal! The Museum of Science and Industry is the perfect venue for a Drone Wing. And it is in mine and Obama’s hood, so Obamabots are already a large part of the local fauna anyway.

            1. grizziz

              It should be put as far away from the scene of the crime as possible to diminish his memory. I’ll take Hawaii, if space cannot be found in the far western portion of the Alaskan archipelago.

  12. Jesse

    There is no doubt that Churchill was a deeply flawed character.

    He was an alcoholic. He had an unhappy childhood. His treatment of his servants could be abominable as he was a child of great privilege. He was the author of one of the greatest military disasters at Gallipoli.

    And yet when the occasion called, he rose to it, flaws and all. His rhetoric was inspiring rising above all the fear and misery of his people. He became a great leader. He was visible, worked tirelessly, made mistakes, and then corrected them as he went along.

    FDR did the same thing in wrestling with reform and the New Deal. And who cannot be mindful of the trash that has been hauled out about Martin Luther King?

    When will we learn that greatness is not the stuff of angels, but in human beings who, with all their flaws and baggage, rise to an occasion and persevere, and not always to success.

    Someone said to me that Sophie Scholl’s efforts against the Nazis were foolish, clumsy and ineffective. And in many ways they were.

    But they are also a glorious and enduring light through history. And she will be remembered for it.

    1. MikeNY

      I appreciate your point.

      You’re right, ‘great men’ are still men, not angels. MLK, visionary and awe-inspiring as he was, most definitely had his flaws. To humanize such people is to remove the excuse the rest of us have for not trying harder

    2. DJG

      Churchill was deeply flawed indeed. Didn’t he make that slighting remark about Roosevelt–second rate intellect but first rate character or some such? Yet FDR looks better and better all the time. It’s very seldom that we talk in the USA about plain luck, and we avoid talking about how the USA has had incredible luck in its leaders. From Washington (turning down a third term), to the contradictory Jefferson, to the remarkable Madison. To Lincoln. To Jane Addams. To FDR. To Eleanor Roosevelt. Few countries have had such luck.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Alas, what further supports the idea of luck in our leaders and our experiment with democracy is the fact that ours has apparently now run out.

      2. gordon

        I don’t know about “luck” in relation to those people. I think it’s much more likely that the US – and other countries – have produced plenty of people with those sorts of abilities. It’s much more a question of how to ensure their influence. I don’t believe there’s a lack of talent in the US or anywhere else.

    3. c1ue

      I’m not sure we’re reading the same article.
      What I read above, and what I’ve read before, clearly show that World War II was a case of the event meeting the man – not the man rising to the occasion. Essentially a nail meeting a hammer.
      In almost every other respect, Churchill was a loathsome, self promoting, racist, imperialist pig.

  13. Jim Haygood

    In an achievement comparable to Venezuela teetering on the verge of default while sitting on world-class oil reserves, Argentina has managed to impoverish a wine industry situated in the most ideal climate on the planet:

    Argentina’s wine sector has been hit by falling exports, high inflation, tight credit, and an unfavorable exchange rate.

    imagine a wine producer exports 100 bottles of wine for US $15 apiece, net of taxes. Overseas their earnings would amount to US $1,500. But laws force these exporters to bring these earnings back at the official rate of ARS $8.50 per USD, so that US $1,500 becomes ARS $12,750 compared to the ARS $20,250 these dollars bring on the parallel market. Quite the loss in purchasing power.

    Argentine wine producers should be leading the world, not forced to drive tractors in circles in city streets and pour wine on steps. The government being required to bail out the wine industry of all things is a perfect example of the ripple effect of short-sighted, self-serving populist policies that hurt industries and the people they employ. In Argentina’s wine industry, that is over 400,000 people. Awesome.

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

    What pathetic, twisted bullies the so-called “security” goons in this country have become. It’s almost impossible to imagine what is going on in the heads of these people, who seek out the weakest or poorest Americans they can find, mercilessly and endlessly pick the scabs of their vulnerabilities until they snap, and then beat their chests to demand grateful adulation for keeping us “safe.”

    Whenever I read one of these stories, I can’t help thinking of that remarkably puny and embarrassingly unimpressive American “security” titan Michael Hayden. After what I assume was a youth during which he was undoubtedly bullied by everyone bigger than he, and that would probably have included EVERYONE, including the girls, he finally gets to “hit” back, having inexplicably been put in a position of being able to create a group that even HE can bully.

    Or that other paragon of “security” virtue, Keith Alexander, who creates replicas of the Starship Enterprise bridge when he’s not bringing the hammer down on disaffected Ohio kids whose best friend is a cat named Mikey. And is, apparently, still considered sane.

    And what of these judges, who recognize clearly what’s going on and refuse to stop it? Do they expect to be venerated for their “comments” on the gross miscarriages of justice over which they have presided and, through their actions, legitimized?

    It’s times like these that agnosticism is more useful than atheism. At least there is a chance that there is a hell.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Obama is holding a Global Security Summit on Feb 18 which seeks even greater loss of privacy / increased security measures. But the basis for this Summit is severely flawed:

      – a much criticized theory of the Sony hack;

      – the failure of French security services;

      – an overzealous FBI that is essentially concocting plots

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Yes! and not hard to see coming.

        Obama blaming North Korea for the Sony Hack is downright embarrasing. On a par with little george’s Mission Accomplished. Perhaps he figures that if he puts his library in a windy enough place, that whopper will just up and disappear on its own.

    2. Banger

      I think it is important to imagine what is going in the heads of those “goons.” I suggest it is very human and very much part of an overall milieu. Ruling elites are not, generally, irrational–there’s method to their madness or at least enough to keep things going. We make a mistake when we dehumanize our enemies. Beyond that I have no more to say.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Fascinating Origins (at least its development in the 20th and early 21st centuries) of Science (and Math) – and why it’s deeply intertwined with surveillance, drones and nuclear bombs.

    ‘You mean you can make the catapult projectiles more accurate? Let’s hire more Archimedeses!!!!!”

    1. ambrit

      You’re talking about the Tyrant of Syracuse, right?
      Remember what happened to Archimedes. He was killed by a Roman soldier after Syracuse fell to the Romans in 212 BC. A roughly 75 year old scientist, killed for not doing immediately what he was told to do. Do not doubt it, the modern versions of that Roman soldier now work for the State. Perhaps they always have, but now are in the ascendant.
      We passed through a Mississippi State Highway Patrol checkpoint last night while on our way back home from the Coast. Phyllis turned to me after I had taken the ticket for an expired inspection sticker and said, “I understand why you said nothing to those police. They scared me. A bunch of young, hopped up egomaniacs in uniform. Police weren’t like that back in the ’60s and ’70s. What’s happening to America?”
      The best part of all this is that the police apparatus is truly equal opportunity. The recent spectacle of the NYPD refusing to visibly accede to the authority of the civilian government is the tip of the iceberg. If the present elites don’t pay very close attention to their minions and keep them under strict control, they will discover to their discomfort how the rest of us live, in fear. Archimedes was a great man and lived, I’ve read, without fear. He died that way too.

      1. neo-realist

        But from the vantage point of the elites, isn’t it good that the rest or many of us live in fear of the men in blue? All the better to discourage resistance against government and policies for the 1%.

        1. ambrit

          Short term thinking on the elites’ part. Eventually, the Praetorian Guard of the moment becomes the elite. Bloodbath ensues.

          1. OIFVet

            Hagel and McCain Warn Troops: Big Pay Changes Coming:

            In a speech on Wednesday off the coast of San Diego, outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned troops that the U.S. can’t afford its military personnel anymore. Troops are already bracing for the results of a report on Feb. 1, which will most likely not be friendly to military pay. Senator John McCain, now chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, concurred with the need for sweeping reforms, particularly in the military health care system. Both Hagel and McCain reaffirmed that the inevitable changes coming to military pay and benefit policies will only apply to new recruits, and existing troops will be grandfathered out of the system currently in place.

            Perhaps the elites think that spending trillions on high tech disasters like the F-35 and the new stealth bomber is a better investment than throwing a few crumbs to the Praetorian guard.

            1. ambrit

              I noticed no mention of the retirement benefits, especially for officers. In the good old days, a decent officer, decent being open to multiple definitions, would be expected to retire to the ancestral estate or live off of his loot from a careers worth of peculations.
              Our dear leaders evidently are confusing the ‘manufacturers’ of weaponry and supplies with the real strength of any army or police force. I would have thought that the neo-cons would have learned from the debacle of not having sufficient “boots on the ground” soon enough and for long enough in Iraq.
              As MyLessThanPrimeBeef mentioned yesterday, Claudius clowned around well enough to survive to become Ceaser, by the connivance of the Praetorian Guard. Our modern Caligulas take note.

      2. fresno dan

        I agree mostly, but I note:
        “…civilian government is the tip of the iceberg. If the present elites don’t pay very close attention to their minions…”
        that you seem to conflate “civilian government” with “elites.” I suspect the NYPD police would never dare turn their backs to Jaime Dimon….

        1. ambrit

          Good point, but let us make that “Jaime Dimons’ money.” When Dimon goes bankrupt, an event devoutly to be wished, “his” minions will desert him in favour of the next siren waving gold at them. (Heaven help us if the police forces ever figure out the value of power for powers’ sake.)
          The American Founding Fathers generally distrusted a professional military, else why all the short term American militias at the beginning of the American War. Think of all the Golpes by junior officers in Latin America. When the Army and Police are seen as the only actors supporting stability in the domestic sphere, people will overlook a lot that they would otherwise not countenance.
          As FDR understood, when run right, civilian government is a counterweight to the importunities of the elites. Running the thing right seems to be the hard part today.

      3. ex-PFC Chuck

        While we’re on the subject of Archimedes, that dude came very close to inventing the Calculus nearly two millennia before Newton and Leibniz. In fact he may have done it. The story is in a fascinating book entitled The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book Is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist, by Will Noel and Reviel Netz. From the pitch on the Amazon site:

        Part archaeological detective story, part science, and part history, The Archimedes Codex tells the astonishing story of a lost manuscript, from its tenth-century creation in ancient Constantinople to the auction block at Christie’s in New York, and how a team of scholars used the latest imaging technology to reveal and decipher the original text. What they found was the earliest surviving manuscript by Archimedes (287 BC–212 BC), the greatest mathematician of antiquity—a manuscript that established, for the first time, the extent of his mathematical genius, which was two thousand years ahead of modern science.

  16. Jim Haygood

    How to buy yourself a diplomatic passport (and an all-expenses paid residence with servants, bodyguards and drivers) for only $3.2 million:

    Noah Mamet raised $3,200,000 for Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012.

    On July 30, 2013, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Mamet to be the U.S. ambassador to Argentina despite the fact that Mamet has never been to Argentina.

    On December 2, 2014, the [lame duck] Senate confirmed Mamet in a 50-43 vote.

    1. Vatch

      Well, at least Mamet speaks Spanish (according to Wikipedia). Max Baucus, the ambassador to China, doesn’t speak Chinese.

    2. fresno dan

      Well, thanks to your post about Argentinian wine, he should get to drink some great wine at good prices!

  17. James Levy

    The article on Churchill of course repeats the same nonsense about Appeasement while trying to make a case for reassessing Churchill. No amount of archival work or context seems able to puncture the notion that Chamberlain did not see the threat of Hitler (he did, and to the Royal Navy’s fury dropped Japan as potential enemy number 1 and threw money at the RAF–the radar stations and fighter planes that won the Battle of Britain were thanks to Chamberlain, while Churchill had demanded throughout the 1930s that all the money go to bombers for “deterrence”). What Chamberlain the “businessman” saw that Churchill the “military strategist” missed was that war would destroy Britain’s position atop the global diplomatic order and leave only the hated Commies and Americans vying for global dominance. Churchill continued to believe until the summer of ’44 that he could form an equal partnership with the Americans, one he could dominate by being cleverer than them. When he realized his folly he spent August 1944 drunk. Then he spent the rest of his life kissing up to the Americans and pretending that the “special relationship” was real and a good thing, and not the abject capitulation that it was. As a prominent British naval historian once said to me over dinner, “Of course the Americans love Churchill–he handed them our bloody empire!”.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      A great piece of writing is the closing section of the second volume of William Manchester bio. An excerpt:

      He had come to power because he had seen through Hitler from the very beginning – but not, ironically, because his inner light, the source of that insight, was understood by most Englishmen. Churchill’s star was invisible to the public and to even most of his peers. But a few saw it. One of them wrote that although Winston knew the world was complex and in constant flux, to him, “the great things, races, and peoples, and morality were eternal.” Isaiah Berlin, the Oxford philosopher, later observed that the Churchill of 1940 was neither “a sensitive lens, which absorbs and concentrates and reflects….the sentiment of others,” nor a politician who played “public opinion like an instrument.” Instead, Berlin saw him as a leader who imposed his “imagination and will upon his countrymen,” idealizing them “with such intensity that in the end they approached his ideal and began to see themselves as he saw them.” In so doing, he “transformed cowards into brave men, and so fulfilled the purpose of shining armor.”

      That section also discusses how British aristocracy and businessmen has been content to sell out to Hitler.

      1. James Levy

        As I said, no amount of actual history can penetrate the gauzy lens. Berlin was NOT an historian or an objective observer. Being an important philosopher does not make you an historian. And Manchester was a popularizer, not a professional. I am one and this is my field. The “guilty men” nonsense is just that–nonsense, ex post facto propaganda. It existed to separate Churchill (good) from the Conservative Party (evil) for party political ends (thanks Michael Foot). But everyone wants to turn this into a white hat/black hat dichotomy and are so happy with their heroes and villains that no amount of actual history is going to make a difference.

        1. ambrit

          Who now talks about Father Coughlin or the German American Bund in 1930s America?
          I have just started reading Isherwoods’ “The Berlin Stories.” Maybe it’s just me, but it reads like a book of prophecy. Orwells’ “Homage To Catalonia” resonates as well.
          Evil thrives in times of chaos.

          1. gordon

            When you’ve finished Isherwood you might like to try Edgar Mowrer’s “Germany Puts the Clock Back”, based on his time as a newspaper correspondent in prewar Germany. The Nazis deported him, but his stories about their rise in late Wiemar Germany are worth reading.

          2. flora

            If you haven’t already read it, William Shirer’s book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” is a good inside look at 1930’s Germany and the rise of Hitler.

            1. ambrit

              Thanks, I think I have a copy in the attic somewhere. The kind of book one gets more out of when you re-read it. These people were there at the time. The little details are what fascinate. The human touches that link the people of then to the people of now, and our childrens’ time to come.

            2. gordon

              I know there’s no limit to this, but if Shirer comes up I have to mention his almost forgotten book “The Collapse of the Third Republic”. It analyses why France collapsed in 1940, and in the process traces the decay of French politics through the first part of the twentieth century. It’s a big book, on the same scale as “Third Reich”, but lots of information and insights.

              1. ambrit

                There is indeed no limit to inquiry and knowledge. That’s the fun part. We may not be able to know everything, but trying to do so is so much of a delight.

      2. Jack

        ‘who imposed his “imagination and will upon his countrymen,” idealizing them “with such intensity that in the end they approached his ideal and began to see themselves as he saw them.”‘

        I often hear about the supposed stiff-upper lip and unique stubbornness of the British in WW2, but none of it’s true. What, exactly, was the majority of the populace expected to do once the war started? They were trapped on their island. Some who dared to risk the U-boats fled, but the majority were stuck there. Those that could afford to sent their children to the countryside away from the bombs, or even went themselves. The remainder spent years scurrying for shelters and the underground at the first siren, sometimes trampling each other in the process. Had Britain not been an island I can guarantee you that many would have simply packed up and fled, as always happens in war.

        They also didn’t win the Battle of Britain so much as survive it. The reality is that had the Germans concentrated on airbases and radar stations instead of shifting priorities back and forth between military objectives and terror raids on cities the RAF would have succumbed. As things actually were it was still bled-white when the Luftwaffe finally did relent. Another few weeks and it would have been all over. As already mentioned, the infrastructure that enabled the RAF to even hold its ground was installed by Chamberlain, not Churchill, who merely made flowery speeches. Not that there should have ever been a BoB in the first place, since Germany didn’t possess the means to mount an effective seaborne invasion anyway.

        Aside from that what else do the British have to be ‘proud’ of? Being racist shits who, along with the equally racist Americans, underestimated the ‘near-sighted, buck toothed Japanese monkey-men’ and ended up losing most of their Far East imperial holdings because of it? Getting their teeth-kicked in in France and being forced to run home on fishing boats, leaving most of their heavy equipment behind? Taking their sweet time crushing an Axis expedition in North Africa that was never more than a side-show to Hitler anyway, succeeding mostly through weight of numbers? El Alamein was not an example of brilliant generalship, anyone can win a battle by forcing their enemy to attack against superior numbers on a narrow front. Engaging in a plodding and clunky advance through France? Embarking on a needless and overly-complicated push through the Netherlands that ended in complete disaster (and that they had to lie about intelligence reports to even launch)? Joining with America to take part in a bombing campaign that succeeded through nothing more than sheer industrial superiority and had a highly debatable impact anyway? Britain’s great contribution to the war, outside of code-breaking, was in being a staging ground for American operations in Western Europe. Not that the United States involvement is anywhere near as important as we Americans like to think, either. Our great contribution was canned food and trucks for the Red Army. It was Soviet blood that won that war.

        Incidentally, watching the eternal debate on Montgomery vs Patton makes me want to claw my eyes out. Who cares which mediocre egotist was the ‘better’ general? The best Western allied general was William Slim, who most people have never even heard of, and the best allied general period was Georgy Zhukov.

        1. James Levy

          Some of what you say is true, much exaggeration, a few things false. It would take a book to consider every point you raise. But I’d rate Vasilevski and Malinovski as better generals than Zhukov–Koniev also did a much better job in the final assault on Germany than Zhukov, whose attack on the Seelowe Heights made El Alamein look like fancy footwork.

          1. Jack

            Of course I’m engaging in hyperbole. WW2 was a team effort, Britain prevented the war from being lost, America funded the victory, Russia did most of the actual bleeding, China tied up large numbers of Japanese troops, plus contributions from everyone from the Free French to the Indians. I just hate the ‘Greatest Generation’ mythmaking that elevates those that in the grand scheme of things got off light while ignoring the unimaginable sacrifices others made. 15-30 million dead Chinese, 13 million Soviet military and another 20 million civilians killed, meanwhile combined American and British casualties amounted to less than a million.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Sorry, I was in London in 1984. Ongoing IRA bombings were a much more real threat than terrorism is now. You got on a bus with the thought it the back of your head that it could be the wrong bus. No one was panicky about it. Everyone went on with their lives. And it was the memories of the Blitz that helped produce this sangfroid.

          And Patton was a great general. His casualties/deaths inflicted v. incurred way exceeds any other US WWII general. Part of why he doesn’t get as much cred as he deserves is his former subordinate Omar Bradley stole a lot of his plans and presented them as his own. One of my mother’s friends is a Battle of the Bulge survivor, and he says that soldiers overwhelmingly wanted to be in the Third Army because they knew their odds of coming home alive would be higher.

          1. Jack

            I’m not saying people weren’t brave, I’m saying there is nothing uniquely stubborn about the British. There definitely was a ‘I’ve been bombed by an altogether better class of bastard’ attitude to the IRA bombings, but that doesn’t mean the nostalgic stalwartness they were appealing to ever actually existed in reality. And in so far as it did exist it was simply because of a lack of alternatives. Much of Western Europe and America have enjoyed a very blessed existence over the last century or so, and I get annoyed by pretences that any of us are uniquely tough. Neither America nor Britain were subjected to anything the Soviets or the Chinese would think particularly horrific. As a much more recent example not four years ago 20,000 Japanese died in a single day. Yet they keep on and don’t gloat, whereas if something even half as bad happened in the West not only would it probably break the country it happened in but the citizens would never shut up about it.

            1. Clive

              My (now late) grandmother worked maintaining Chichester Cathedral’s garden (on the south coast of England) during the war, one day a German bomber (apparently) was on a return flight and had bombs which it hadn’t been able to deploy on its intended target (further north, presumably London judging by its flight path). It could have dropped them in the English Channel if it had had to lose payload weight but instead decided to drop them on this small Cathedral City with no military significance. It killed her best friend who was working a hundred yards or so away.

              The blast knocked her out, when she regained consciousness later she simply didn’t know what had happened or how she’d somehow managed to not meet the same fate — she (my grandmother) survived unscathed. She went back to work in the same place the following day. If she was afraid, she wouldn’t let it beat her. Anyone could have decided to never go back to the place where it had happened and go and work somewhere else, but she, like so many — for whatever thinking / reasons motivated them at the time — would simply not take an “easy way” out.

              I had to drag such war stories out of her, she didn’t like “going on about the past like that” and although she never really forgave “the Germans”, there was no call — from either her or the vast majority of the British public — to demand retribution, to occupy Germany or to do anything but forget as far as it was possible to do the whole awful history of the war and move on. My grandmother wasn’t much more than 20 at the time. I couldn’t hear her relay that experience without thinking about how easy it would have been to just capitulate — no one knew when the war would end or when your number might be up.

              But the thought of “packing up and fleeing” as you put it never entered her head. Her family had money and could have emigrated, but frankly, I don’t know where you get your notions from that this was in any way a resolution or a consideration that anyone living in Britain at the time would have seriously entertained.

              And you’re also in danger of coming up with your own sliding-scale definitions of courage, hardship and grief and just what, who and where you had to be to endure “suffering”. Saying that my grandmother didn’t experience terror and horror because she lived in Chichester not Stalingrad is, Clive says choosing his words carefully, a little trite.

            2. ambrit

              Ah my. Clive is so right. As the young man I worked with last year who survived being blown up in a Humvee in Kandahar would say, “You weren’t there. How can you know?” To which I would reply, “You just told me. And I can see how it’s still affecting you.”
              I went through something similar to what Clive and his generation did. My parents as children, survived the Blitz in London. My Dad once told me about the time he and some friends were strafed by a fighter plane while walking to school in the morning. He had to have a few beers to even talk about the War. (It always had a capitalized W, even verbally.) He remembered the V-1 “buzz bombs” and the raw terror they created. “If the d— thing stopped popping, hide quick! You were close enough for it to get you.”
              Clives’ family were one end of the social spectrum, and mine were the other. One grandfather was a first mate on minesweepers during the war. My Dad used to cherish a postcard his Dad sent him from Iceland during the war. Dads Mum was drafted to work in a factory making munitions. She had to leave her children in the care of relatives back in London while she lived in a barracks next to the factory she worked in. They endured this because they believed in the rightness of their nation and society. That is the true glory of a leader like Churchill. He, (or she,) can convince the people to suffer now in the hope of better times to come. That is the true majesty of Clives grandmother, she would not give in to fear.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    To Hell With Protecting the Public?

    That free government service, (not funded by taxation, mind you, and thus, that free gift is income to everyone under said threatened protection, in the same way you get free surveillance from Uncle Sam), is basic and is guaranteed by the Constitution.

    They are not taking that ‘Basic Income Guarantee’ away, are they?


    Because BIG doesn’t work?

  19. Ignim Brites

    It’s a creative class thing mixed with propagandizing for the GWOT. That the US isn’t going to get involved in the amp up is a brilliant signal from Obama about the outlines of the new world order. IS in France is well France’s problem.

  20. MikeNY

    Re: “An Opulent Bet on Housing”:

    I hardly know where to begin. What kind of person could ever think of that as a home?

    1. fresno dan

      “The 35,000-square-foot main house has 12 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, two kitchens and sweeping views of Los Angeles. There is a guesthouse, a 24-car garage and an “an entertainment complex” with its own bowling alley, rotating dance floor, D.J. booth and laser lights. The complex also has its own vineyard — a rarity in Beverly Hills — and a wine cellar that can hold thousands of bottles.”
      Its heartbreaking really – despite his wealth, to be so afflicted with constant diarrhea that the bathrooms have to be so numerous that you are never more than 10 feet away….
      Some things money can’t buy – regularity.

      1. OIFVet

        He might be suffering from the “Iraqi Crud”, as did I during my deployment. Took me more than a year after my return to get regular again. There are never enough port-a-johns around when one needs them…

  21. juliania

    As it is Sunday, I will leave a comment on “The Fascinating Origins of Religion.” The author gets very tied up in Latin roots, completely disregarding the Greek ones, which to me are most relevant, since even the Old Testament scholars in Alexandria were responsible for its introduction into the then Greek speaking ‘western’ world of the second century B.C. Maybe it’s easier to conflate religion and violence on the Roman side, but it really ought to be remembered that ‘theology’ comes from the Greek, and Christianity has a Greek philosophical aspect to it as well.

    There were, after all, from very early times, martyrs and saints of the Christian church who inspired and created its teachings in opposition to violence. (I am speaking here only of Christianity but I am sure the same applies for other faiths.) The Desert Fathers went out into the desert to escape the world, and the world they were escaping was violent. They did not take up arms in their desert retreats against anyone. (The Philokalia is a good reference, literally ‘Love of Beauty’.)

    If you want to look for origins, don’t look for the rulers and leaders, the power seekers; look for the followers of the faith – the desert dwellers, the people who revered and still revere them.

    1. Vatch

      Maybe I read the article too quickly, but I get the impression that the violence at the root of religion isn’t just war, and possibly not even war at all. It’s hunting and ritual animal sacrifice. Here’s a pertinent quote:

      We would never wholly forget our hunter-gatherer past, which was the longest period in human history. Everything that we think of as most human—our brains, bodies, faces, speech, emotions, and thoughts— bears the stamp of this heritage. Some of the rituals and myths devised by our prehistoric ancestors appear to have survived in the practices of later, literate cultures. In this way, animal sacrifice, the central rite of nearly every ancient society, preserved prehistoric hunting ceremonies and the honor accorded the beast that gave its life for the community. Much of what we now call “religion” was originally rooted in an acknowledgment of the tragic fact that life depended on the destruction of other creatures; rituals were addressed to helping human beings face up to this insoluble dilemma. Despite their real respect, reverence, and even affection for their prey, however, ancient huntsmen remained dedicated killers. Millennia of fighting large aggressive animals meant that these hunting parties became tightly bonded teams that were the seeds of our modern armies, ready to risk everything for the common good and to protect their fellows in moments of danger. And there was one more conflicting emotion to be reconciled: they probably loved the excitement and intensity of the hunt.

      In the early historic period, there are many examples of religious sacrifice, such as the Vedic ashvemedha (horse sacrifice), all the different sacrifices recorded in the Tanakh (Old Testament), and pagan Greek and Roman sacrifices. The Biblical story of Jephtha and his daughter is particularly disturbing. Even Christianity is based on the vicarious human sacrifice of Jesus.

    2. DJG

      I found her article to be too much of an apologia for monotheism, which has been singularly bloody. She makes a weird dismissal of Buddhism as a mere ethical system–when the lack of ethics among various monotheist charlatans is a cause of violence. Hmm. Maybe there’s something to the old Buddhist preoccupation with intention. The brain evolution stuff isn’t convincing–not with many new discoveries coming in such as the remarkably old cave paintings found in Indonesia, the genetic links to Neandertals, those mysterious Siberian peoples, the temples found at Gobekli Tepe. The sown field as bloody and violent doesn’t was–because she isn’t paying attention to the Romans and the Greeks. Eleusian Mysteries? Bloody? And on and on.

      1. Banger

        It’s interesting that Buddhism seems to be more compatible with modernism than those faiths dominated by “books.” I think fundamentalism is a reaction to the waning of “the book” as the main arbiter of morality and social structure. I think the days of book-oriented religion are numbered if civilization continues, more or less. Book-based religions are fundamentally authoritarian and thus, ultimately, violent.

        1. DJG

          What’s distinctive about the monotheistic religions is one god in one book. Buddhist scriptures are mountainous–they go on and on. Hindu scripture, likewise. And the Romans and the Sibylline books—who knows what they held? So maybe it’s less the waning of the book than that monotheism just can’t handle doubt and complexity.

        2. susan the other

          My impression of this take on war lust was that it could be a nutritional deficiency. Agrarian societies developed susceptibility to infections, rotten teeth and bone diseases because they weren’t getting enough red meat! They were anemic hallucinators. Maybe. Hunger and religion might be the same emotion. Certainly we love to eat.

        3. Vatch

          I like Buddhism better than most other religions, but I disagree that it is not dominated by books. Different sects of Buddhism venerate different books, unlike the Hindus, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, whose religions are based on the Vedas and Upanishads, Tanakh, Bible, and Quran, respectively. There is little variance in the choice of holy books within these particular religions, with the exception of the Protestant Christian rejection of the Apocrypha.

          Here are some of the books that are extremely important for different Buddhist sects:

          Tientai and Nichiren sects: Lotus Sutra (Saddharmapundarika Sutra)
          Huayen sect: Flower Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra)
          Theravada sect: Pali Tipitaka (Tripitaka) collection of books.
          “Pure Land” sects: Longer and shorter Sukhavativyuka Sutras.

          1. Banger

            Buddhism is not dominatee by books they are peripheral and not a requirement. There is no equivalence between Buddhism and the people of the book. I’ve been deeply involved in Buddhism and Vedanta for decades.

            1. Vatch

              I know that there is no equivalent of the Bible, Quran, or Rig Veda in Buddhism. But in some Buddhist sects, especially the Nichiren sect, the veneration of a particular book or books is very significant, and is not peripheral. In other sects, such as Chan (Zen), books are less significant, although they do exist.

              The practice of Buddhism in Asia is often quite different from the way that it is practiced in the U.S. or Europe.

    3. tiebie66

      So much seems to rest on this poorly substantiated claim: Millennia of fighting large aggressive animals meant that these hunting parties became tightly bonded teams… What would these large aggressive animals be? Kudu? Dassies? Porcupines? Termites?

      ‎Chimpanzees are also very violent, but afaik, do not go after large aggressive animals. Instead, they consume a varied diet of leaves, roots, berries, insects, and occasionally meat when available.…/chimpanzees-are-natural-born-killers-study-says-and-they-prefer-mob-violence/

      Is it perhaps the other way round, that, because we are violent, we started hunting large animals? Did hunting cause religion or did religion cause hunting (large animals)? I see a poor logic here, masked by many and varied ‘facts’. Thus, I’m skeptical about this thesis. As for religions, I’d take care not to conflate the actions of the ‘adherents’ with the principles of the doctrines.

  22. zephyrum

    It’s time to stop creating independent presidential libraries. Let’s just dedicate a long strip of land and add a new 20×20′ room every 4-8 years. Stick a few mementos in there and put the real information online. Done.

    1. Vatch

      But, but, but, then it will be harder for rich people to curry favor with Presidents by donating huge sums of money to the Presidential Library organizations!

      1. optimader

        It should just be an annex building to the GW Bush Library big enough to store BHO’s presidential golf cart and bag. Probably worn out anyway.

    2. sufferin' succotash

      Before Hoover presidential papers normally went to the Library of Congress, which is where they should all go.

      1. Jay M

        Perhaps Obama could base his presidential library design on the principles of an Amazon warehouse. Several hundred minimum wage workers walking 25 miles a day to fetch papers for the intelligensia would be a fitting tribute to this glorious era. The workers should all be SNAP eligible, too!

    3. LizinOregon

      Yes, it was a sad day when personal presidential memorabilia stopped going to The Library of Congress. They have many amazing things in their Presidential Collection but it stops when the first Presidential Library was built – I think it was Truman. Once I was able to see one of Washington’s diaries and some other things in his handwriting. But such things no longer belong to the people.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Well, let’s be reasonable. Putting Presidential papers and memorabilia in the LoC would imply that the ultimate owners of those artifacts were the American people. How wrong can you get?!

  23. DJG

    Antitode: Tremendous. Is it a peregrine falcon? They sometimes hang around in my neighborhood. Impressive–in a way that will turn you into an augur. Or is it one of the smaller hawks?

  24. optimader

    RE; Chicago Is No Longer a Lock to Host Obama’s Library
    Maybe there is a God? Pleeeaaase make it so
    The obamas/UofC are trying to hustle Chicago to cough up Chicago Park District property so the Library has an unnecessarily (for an urban environment) large perimeter. This is probably their attempt at brinksmanship but it would be great if by some miraculous intervention Chicago could muster the ethical balls to call them on it. Once precedent is made to give up park property, the Commons will be lost in Chicago to special interests. A couple years ago an attempt by Daley cronies and the Pritzkers to front a For Profit “Childrens Museum” (WTF is that anyway?) on a prime lakefront park property was narrowly avoided. Instead the parting FU by Daley &Co. cronies was to demo a very nice greenspace multiuse park popular for walking pets and picnicking to install an eyesore Rube Goldbergeque “Maggie Daley” park (no dogs allowed of course) which will be a perpetual maintenance pig.

    1. OIFVet

      Also foiled was the attempt to place Lucas’ Star Wars museum on a nice piece of lakefront. I am quite certain that Friends of the Parks is gearing up for a court challenge should pharaoh Rhamses of Chicago try to give away parkland to the Obamas. Both the Jackson Park and Washington Park locations are too big and too much of a public asset to give away to a Grand Betrayer. Let him go to NYC, that’s where his Wall Street sponsors are anyway. They deserve one another. Perhaps they can add a satellite Obama library in Zuccotti Park to commemorate Obama’s dedication to ‘freedum’ too…

        1. OIFVet

          Only connection is that he married one Mellody Hobson, a Chicago financier and a dear friend of Michelle and Barack. So you see, that little group of friends has a thing about using pubic parks for their own ends. Lucas and Hobson even married in my hood’s lakefront jewel, Promontory Point, getting special treatment and leaving a fair bit of damage in their wake. Must have taken cues from Sean Parker’s wedding…

    2. DJG

      Friends of the Parks have a lot of bite for a group that seems sort-of docile. Very savvy legally. I like the recent proposal (Ben Joravsky again?) to place the Obama Library in Lawndale. Jobs. Real-estate appreciation. Infrastructure. What’s not to like?

      Is it official that the Lucas Giant Squid Dome is not going into the parks? Or are we in a holding pattern so that Rahm doesn’t embarrass himself in the run-up to the February primary?

      1. optimader

        “Is it official that the Lucas Giant Squid Dome is not going into the parks? ”
        Haven’t heard much about this lately, maybe a good sign. Incredibly inappropriate/ in poor taste commercial franchise posing as a Museum to plop on the Lakefront in perpetuity. Belongs in LA which already sucks, just add more.

        “Or are we in a holding pattern so that Rahm doesn’t embarrass himself in the run-up to the February primary?”
        Who has any skinny on this race, Rahm looks like a shoe in based on the dim bulbs I’ve seen that are looking to run. Personally I am amazed a credible challenger is in the offing, I think a lot Chicagoans would like an alternative .

        1. OIFVet

          Kinda hard to go up against an $11 million campaign fund of Hollywood and corporate money. It’s what allows Rahmses to saturate the airwaves with commercials. Funny thing about them is that they all show him surrounded by adoring black people, the ones he has hurt the most with his policies. I am sure he has bought off the black reverends, much like his buddy Rauner did, and that spells trouble for all of us. Still, judging by the fact that I received several campaign calls this week from Fioretti and Garcia there is hope. Plus a lot of people have a visceral dislike for Rhamses. We will see, hopefully black people will remember who closed down the public schools and mental health clinics in black neighborhoods.

  25. Peter Pan

    Pulling together parts of Johnson to Moyers: “But when I talk to community bankers — and I want to emphasize this — they are absolutely on the same side. The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). The ICBA represents 6,500 community banks. They don’t do derivatives trading and other kinds of crazy stuff. So now the lobbyists are exploring all possible ways they can take this forward, including “technical fixes” to Dodd-Frank that are not technical fixes.”

    Um, didn’t the ICBA recommend passage of HR 37 as a technical fix to Dodd-Frank?

    Washington, D.C. (Jan. 14, 2015)—The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for approving H.R. 37, which would protect community banks from an arbitrary and damaging provision of the Volcker Rule and correct an oversight in the JOBS Act that excludes savings and loan holding companies.

    A little cognitive dissonance anyone?

  26. Jackrabbit


    I’ve had comments get posted immediately, one that went to moderation (understandable ’cause it had several links) and one just disappeared (no moderation message).

  27. afisher

    Sacre Bleu – Forbes agrees with MMT economist. (swiss cheese/ Euro)…will wonders never cease!

    And then: The USA, where politicians have talked austerity but not succeeded in imposing it, has come out of the crisis far better—compare Figure 2 to Figure 1. GDP fell 8% in nominal terms from peak to trough during the crisis, but is now 20% higher than at the trough.

    Paging GOP – please pick up the White Phone – your economist is calling. The red phone is reserved for Gov. Brownback who is still in deep denial that his no tax / austerity continue to fail.

    1. flora

      “reserved for Gov. Brownback who is still in deep denial that his no tax / austerity continue to fail.”
      Au contraire. For Brownback’s financial backers the no income tax/austerity plans are succeeding beyond the dreams of Avarice. If his financial backers are succeeding the plan is succeeding.

    1. gordon

      It looks as though JaaaayCeeee at Economists’ View has read it so we don’t have to:

      JaaaaayCeeeee said in reply to anne…
      I skimmed Larry Summers’ CAP report on how to make prosperity inclusive, and JohnH is right; a lot of it is bad old 3rd way hand waving that puts corporations first, while claiming it has invented “progressive supply side economics” (the admitted goal of which is to increase productivity and the percent employed).

      The report describes problems well, sometimes very well: “the direct costs of top-end pay packages are relatively small as a portion of the economy, but the indirect effects of incentivizing managers on the basis of short-term stock performance have major implications for investment, innovation, and wage growth”. Despite using the word, “incentivizing”.

      So you have to look for what’s left out of this CAP reports’ problem descriptions and recommendations (for example financialization and the problems Stiglitz’s tax reforms address). This CAP report offers little more than exhortations for more profit sharing and share ownership schemes, exhortations to support unions, and deafening silence about not just increasing marginal rates or fairly taxing capital and labor. There are some good ideas, (convert mortgage interest and property tax deductions to tax credits and limit cap gains exclusions on castle flipping), but this is not going to fix our biggest problems.

      There is plenty of piety about edu and training, but nothing that would even inconvenience TN GOP VW union busters, let alone deal with fixing our rentier higher edu system, student loans, and bankruptcy.

      The report even praises the gig economy of labor on demand (with just a sop saying more study is needed to determine how to prevent labor exploitation). The report comes out and claims that more technical and top-flight education will save workers, promoting the myth that more STEM pays more. Climate change is sold as offering market opportunities, and CAP’s progressive supply side economics warns us early in the report, that we should not expect jobs for everyone at socially acceptable wages, because technological progress.

      Describes housing unaffordabiity well, but recommends only that GSE’s should make it even easier to qualify for loans and renters assistance should be restored. Suggests national service programs should be turned into automatic stabilizers with funding formulas.

      Praises trade pacts as THE way to increase upward pressure on developing countries’s wages, and the ideal place to help not only American companies, but U.S. workers as well, with trade pacts THE way to handle currency manipulation (MNC’s might prefer). How is this anything but bad old 3rd way corporatism?

      Praises Obama’s transfer pricing rule abuse proposal. Recommends finishing Dodd-Frank, stopping the GOP from rolling back reform, and capitalizing and regulating better. But this CAP report is deafening in its silence about big, important things, like financial transaction tax or not, and taxing the financial sector like others.

      Immigration matters to “progressive supply side economics” to increase the labor supply and output. Recommends legislators pass right to request and wage/benefit protections for part time workers, but has nothing for contracting or about increasing disposable pay by improving work week/vacation/job sharing/vacation/leave, etc.

      The CAP report includes some good analysis with some good policy recommendations, some really bad policy recommendations, and some seriously absent problems and recommendations. My impression is that “progressive supply side economics” will leave most people with lowered living standards wondering why democratic capitalism is so broken and less progressive than ever.

      It makes me question the value of CAP coining “progressive supply side economics.” Admittedly, I still wonder if coining “secular stagnation” serves mostly to help Davos-ians ignore output gaps and Keynes. I wish some good economists would assess this “progressive supply side economics” of CAP and Larry Suumers.

  28. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to John Robb’s article in his Global Guerillas blog, “Saudi Arabia Plunges Into An Abyss”. Very interesting contrarian view concerning Saudi motivations for cutting the price of oil, and his expectations concerning subsequent future developments.

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