Links 5/22/15

Patient readers, you get a double heaping ration of links, because approaching holidaze. –lambert

Industrious Otters Now Capitalizing On Oil Spills The Onion

Ancient Wolf Genome Reveals an Early Divergence of Domestic Dog Ancestors and Admixture into High-Latitude Breeds Current Biology

Banks Are Now Pleading Guilty to Crimes. So Why Aren’t They Being Punished Like Criminals? Slate. Because the United States is a banana republic, and elites have impunity. This is not hard, guys.

Bank fines credited for culture shift FT. Read all the way to the end for comedy gold from Martin Wheatley, head of the Financial Conduct Authority:

“If you have a small group of people [three or four layers down from the CEO] who deliberately set out to evade controls, it’s quite a hard thing to have adequate checks in place to ensure that is stamped out.”

That’s called “accounting control fraud,” Marty. Google it. You can stop it by throwing the CEOs in jail, especially since they’re the ones evading the controls.

Fed still seen in lift-off mode as Yellen takes center stage Reuters. I’ve never understood this “lift-off” trope. We’re relatively late in a weak recovery. What lift-off will there be?

Federal Reserve faces subpoena over leak FT

Ev Williams’ Obvious Ventures closes $123,456,789 fund Venturebeat. Froth?

A Morgan Stanley wealth manager who had an affair with a client could cost the bank $400 million Business Insider. See, this is why banksters should stick to ladies of negotiable affection, like the Secret Service does.

Fraternity of Failure – The Alternative Version Thomas Palley

Conservatives and Keynes Paul Krugman, NYT

Trade Traitors

Obama trade bill clears big Senate hurdle Politico. Via sausage-making re: The Exim Bank.

How Senate broke logjam on ‘fast track’ trade bill (+video) Christian Science Monitor

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): This Is Not About Ricardo Baseline Scenario

Grexit?

Greek Talks Break Up in Riga as Earlier Optimism Evaporates Bloomberg

How politics will seal the fate of Greece FT

Why Greece’s Syriza party is not sticking to the script on an IMF deal Paul Mason, Channel 4. The nut graph:

[Zoe Konstantopoulou, a 39-year-old, Sorbonne-educated human rights lawyer who is now the speaker of the Greek parliament] has used her office set up three legal processes that could, even now, give the radical left government leverage over its lenders: a “debt truth” committee, a committee to oversee Greek war reparations claims against Germany, and a pipeline of high-level corruption cases targeted around public sector contracts with German firms.

Not sure how this would affect the power relations in play, if at all, but feel free to Google “Schauble envelope.” It’s occurred to me — on no authority at all — that among the reasons the Greek oligarchs have hitherto been untouchable is that they’ve had corrupt dealings with the Germans. Then again, it’s hard to see how Tsipras would explain Konstantopoulou’s “pipeline” to Merkel in one of their friendly chats. Pass the popcorn.

The Only Three People Worth Listening to on Greece Bloomberg

Piraeus Bank sells Egyptian operation to Kuwait’s Al Ahli Bank FT

Grand bargain emerging on Europe as Germany adjusts to Cameron victory Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

SNP secures Commons debate on Trident safety BBC. Whistleblower-driven.

Tobacco companies prepare multi-billion compensation claims over UK plain packaging Telegraph

Madrid Mayor’s Race Reflects Backlash as Spaniards Prepare for Regional Elections WSJ

Syraqistan

Islamic State says it has full control of Syria’s Palmyra Reuters

A New Turkish-Saudi Thaw is Helping Rebels in Syria and Worrying Washington Defense One

Obama’s Strategic Shift Consortium News

America’s Virulent, Extremist Counterterrorism Ideology Foreign Policy

Senior Israeli Diplomat: ‘This Land Is Ours’ New York Times. Let me know how that works out…

Ukraine

Ukraine Makes Amnesia the Law of the Land TNR

Ukrainians don embroidered shirts to show unity Digital Journal

The massive generational divide on America’s role in the world Fortune

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA spying powers on brink of lapsing McClatchy

FBI used Patriot Act to obtain ‘large collections’ of Americans’ data, DoJ finds Guardian

FBI Director Comey As Uninformed or Not Fair-Minded Another Word For It

BREAKING: Josh Duggar Resigns From FRC In Wake Of Molestation Revelations Joe. My. God. FRC = Family Research Council.

Study: Severe vision loss is most common in the South AP

Woman Billed $1,000 For Credit Card Error Gets $83 Million Verdict, But IRS Gets Last Laugh Forbes

The Rise of the Robots

New ‘deep learning’ technique enables robot mastery of skills via trial and error Phys.org

Artificial intelligence bot vs. the poker pros Los Angeles Times

Would you let a ROBOT teach you how to have sex? Therapist says AI ‘sex surrogates’ could become commonplace – and even be used to treat paedophiles Daily Mail

GM: That Car You Bought? We’re Really The Ones Who Own It. Consumerist. “You signed the EULA, pal. When you put the key in the ignition.”

American Innovation Lies on Weak Foundation NYT

Class Warfare

McDonald’s Oak Brook headquarters swarmed with wage protesters Chicago Tribune

Support for redistribution will likely be weakened with ever greater residential separation of rich and poor LSE

New research could change our understanding of the origins of residential segregation Vox

Basically unaffordable Economist. The BIG.

Peter Thiel’s Pursuit Of Technological Progress; It’s Not About Democracy and It’s Definitely Not About Capitalism – Part 3 Re: The Auditors

Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering a Secretive Climate Research Program Mother Jones

Shell Oil’s Cold Calculations for a Warming World NYT

Renewables Are Disruptive to Coal and Gas Marginal Revolution

Berkeley Votes to Warn Cellphone Buyers of Health Risks Mother Jones

High School Forces Student to Remove Online Photos Under Threat of Suspension Petapixel (furzy mouse)

Kuala Lumpur: Homelessness, Revisited Moui.net

The kill switch Nature. Looks like a heckuva conference; I wish some kind soul would send us the proceedings.

Antidote du jour (Lysa):

Hard_Times

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly
Tweet about this on TwitterDigg thisShare on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Facebook0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Google+0Buffer this pageEmail this to someone
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Links on by .

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.

191 comments

  1. James Levy

    Hard to police your underlings?

    The pathetic truth at the heart of all this nonsense is the lie that these clowns at the CEO level are so important that they need to be compensated like King Midas. If these guys are so all-seeing and all-knowing, then how do they always miss the fraud and malfeasance? It’s impossible to reconcile the two stories–that they are hard working, take-charge guys who are vital to the operation of these institutions, and that when something goes wrong they had no idea what was going on and can’t be blamed for the actions of their subordinates. If the press had any guts or brains, they’d be hammering away at this theme unmercifully: if you’re so ignorant, Mr. Dimon, why do they pay you all that money?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      What Martin Wheatley conveniently ignores in passing the buck for Jamie and cronies, is that not even the supposedly-rogue underlings are prosecuted, in many cases not even fired.

      Perhaps Saudi Arabia, the country that now wants to [be]head the UN Human Rights Council, has the right ideas about deterrence. Apparently their prospects in the UN actually have some traction, so amputations, decapitations, stonings, and crucifixions may once again become more widely accepted. (Then like al-Qaeda, ISIS too will become a legitimate member of the imperial coalition.) Although said punishments may initially apply only to gays, adulterers, petty thieves, drug-users, and political dissidents, it could eventually have a chilling effect on some banksters.

  2. Clive

    Imagine if a Chief of Police said “If you have a small group of people who deliberately set out to snatch little old ladies purses, it’s quite a hard thing to have adequate checks in place to ensure that is stamped out.”

  3. vidimi

    the foreign policy article…wow. when you lose the establishment…

    u.s. politics is an amplification chamber of craziness, but it couldn’t work without a completely ignorant public. the corporate media are largely to blame for that.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Considering the entire era of war on terror has been and continues to be manufactured (training, funding, arming) by U.S. on both so-called sides, I see the article as a mere call for better PR/propaganda. Must be a few no-bid contracts on the chopping block?

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Well, indeed, it does seem to be as Bernhard has pointed out.

        And now, Colonel-General Igor Sergun, Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, has recently made a point of calling attention to the problems that the connivances of the West and their big ‘ol pals such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been and are now causing with their policies and actions regarding the Islamist groupings. Notable that he has seen fit to publicly call this out at a conference on international security in Moscow in a speech delivered on April 16, 2015. Here is a transcript/translation:

        http://thesaker.is/the-head-of-the-gru-accuses-us-and-allies-of-creating-the-transnational-islamist-terrorist-network/

        He observes that past escapades have rebounded upon the supporters of such groupings with bad effects, and that there is no reason to suppose that things will be any different now.

        When the secretive and characteristically taciturn head of the GRU comes right out and says these things, you know that the Russians, and presumably those others affected by these ill-advised, too-clever-by-half policies are not amused. Think China, India, other Central Asian nations, and most definitely Southwestern Asian and African nations, and even South American nations as being among these affected parties. How to win friends and influence people. Not.

  4. kj1313

    The Senate is filled with crony capitalist hacks so fast track is no surprise. It is a whole other ballgame in the House. I’m more disappointed that Wyden turned out to be one of the hacks.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      You don’t like democratic capitalism? This is the true elegance of free markets, where price-discovery applies universally to legislators, presidents, and judges. Soon enough, though, ISDA arbitors will streamline this entire awkward apparatus of democracy theater, reducing costs dramatically on a global scale to finally create a glorious capitalist utopia.

    2. Carla

      Wyden was not just “one of the hacks.” He was a leading hack.

      And they are not just hacks. They are traitors.

    3. AlanSmithee

      Get used to disappointment, ’cause the House ain’t gonna slow it down much. The only real question is who gets to be on the revolving hero side.

    4. heresy101

      Oregon has fallen so far in politics from 40 years ago when Wayne Morse lead the fight against the Vietnam War to today where Ron Wyden is a lackey for the corporations.
      Even Republican Governors of Mark Hatfield and Tom McCall were better than the Democratic Governor that was recently forced to resign for corruption.

      1. Jack

        The Wayne Morse stuff I’ve seen on YouTube is amazing. He clearly wasn’t normal even by the standards of his time. He exhibited a genuine, non-cynical belief in the mass of common voters.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Wyden’s true nature has been apparent since he was instrumental in suppressing consideration of single-payer health insurance in 2009. In person, his arrogance is breathtaking.

      Assuming you’re in Oregon: he WILL have a Green Party opponent next year, the strongest candidate we can find.

      1. cwaltz

        Please let us know when you have an opponent for him. I don’t do a lot of political contributing anymore but I’ll be contributing to campaigns for the opponents of the 3 that voted for TPP that are up this year.

  5. Ned Ludd

    …the Senate on Thursday broke a bipartisan filibuster of legislation to give the president “fast-track” authority to negotiate new trade deals.

    Rand Paul spoke 11 hours against a reauthorization of the Patriot Act. “With the exception of breaks to allow colleagues to speak, he talked, and stood, for nearly 11 hours before yielding the floor just before midnight.”

    How long did Sanders, Warren, and other TPP opponents speak to filibuster “Trade Promotion Authority”? Or is this more kayfabe – save the powder for sometime when it won’t matter?

    1. jrs

      No, it’s not kayfabe. Cloture prevents filibuster.

      I thought about this, why couldn’t Fast Track be filibustered (and Rand should be out there filibustering it for constitutional reasons as well, but he’s a fake anyway). However it very much seems like cloture PREVENTS filibustering. And the TPP was in cloture so therefore they COULD NOT at that point filibuster according to the rules.

      Yea quoting wiki on filibusters (because I don’t have time to read a law book so sue me):
      “In the Senate, a filibuster is an attempt to extend debate on a proposal in order to delay or completely prevent a vote on its passage. The term first came into use the Senate, where rules permit a senator or a series of senators to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless a supermajority group of 60% of senators brings debate to a close by invoking cloture”

      Could they filibuster the cloture petition itself which only took a handful of Senators to present, filibuster cloture? I don’t know. I’m thinking not, but I’m not sure on that one. But they could NOT after the point of cloture filibuster Fast Track.

      1. Ned Ludd

        To end a non-talking filibuster, as you point out, you need cloture, which requires 60 votes.

        Under current Senate rules, senators who want to filibuster legislation don’t need to hold the floor by talking — think “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” — but must only raise their hand to object and thereby put the onus on the majority to win 60 votes.

        A talking filibuster, in contrast, delays the cloture vote from ever happening.

        Under Rule XIX of the Senate, senators who have been recognized to speak may do so for as long as they wish and cannot be forced to cede the floor or even interrupted without their consent, according to the Congressional Research Service.

        The senate cannot vote for cloture while someone is still talking.

        The Kentucky Republican comes in at No. 9 on a draft list of longest Senate speeches kept by the historian’s office, clocking in at 12 hours and 52 minutes.

        Paul’s talk-fest delayed a final vote on the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director and highlighted the senator’s concerns about the Obama administration’s policy on drones. […]

        Paul’s filibuster attracted attention because it was only the second time in recent history that a senator commanded the floor to talk at length on a subject. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke for eight hours and 37 minutes in 2010 to protest tax legislation.

        Sanders and Warren – and the other Fast Track opponents – could have talked & talked & talked, to delay both the motion to proceed and the motion to end debate. They could have scuttled the effort “to get [the Fast Track bill] passed before a critically important round of ministerial meetings on the TransPacific Partnership that start on May 26.” If these ministerial meetings ended with things still tied in knots in the Senate, how well would the negotiations go?

        1. Ned Ludd

          For clarity, instead of calling it a “talking filibuster”, the ability of a senator to delay a vote by talking could also be called “Rule XIX”.

          In the case of cloture, 60 senators may want to vote for cloture, but they cannot while a senator refuses to cede the floor.

    2. afisher

      He under performed when compared with Wendy Davis who did it by herself, no leaning on podium, no breaks for bathroom or snacks. And all he did was get hours of camera-time…and online demands to donate. His “this is not a filibuster” was a PR campaign and had zero effect.

      1. hunkerdown

        And what did Wendy get out of her filibuster for women, or any of us? When did “Get your laws off my body” turn into faith-based begging for permission?

  6. Ulysses

    This is the conclusion to the LSE study piece linked above:

    “Solidarity depends upon familiarity, sympathy and empathy, and these things are more likely to be felt in relation to those we interact with and share public space and common institutions with. These forces of solidarity are weakened when divisions in society are reflected and reinforced by residential separation.”

    While the study’s authors seem concerned that the segregation of the super-rich harms the interests of everyone else, I feel that those wealthy people who retreat into their luxurious enclaves are putting themselves at tremendous risk.

    Why? Just as nearly everyone who wasn’t welcome at the court in Versailles had no sympathy at all for those courtiers, ultimately carted off in tumbrils to meet the guillotine’s blade, today many people are starting to look at the super-rich as essentially alien to our larger society. You might be able to feel a little bit of empathy for a wealthy neighbor, who permits his kids to show off their expensive cleats in your own child’s soccer league. Will you feel close to people who send their kids to private schools and live in gated communities, guarded by armed security? Not so much.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/02/super-wealthy-see-pitchforks-guillotines-future.html

  7. Carolinian

    If GM prevails with their DMCA claim they should be required to post a large print copy of their “EULA” in all their dealerships. Of course there is a public safety issue with car modifications, but establishing GM’s theoretical ownership of the guts of your engine isn’t going to stop any tinkerers. The is all about extending the “walled garden” of car repair and trying to make the wall even higher.

    Gasoline engines have been around forever and it’s dubious that the computers that now run them contain any deep dark trade secrets. Arguably, for public safety reasons, all such software should be open source.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Not just open-source — I think it should be written as safety-critical software — like the NASA code that goes into spacecraft. At the very least it should be treated like “flight-safety” software — the standard used for software in aircraft flight systems. Right now, I am not sure what safety standard has been applied to automobile software — if any — other than “good enough to ship.”

      GM’s claims for their software should be turned back at them to hold them responsible for any errors in the software, especially errors accruing from failures to adhere to even a modest degree of a standard-of-practice like that medical doctors invoke to protect themselves from malpractice. Of course such liability could follow those who modify automobile unless they adhere to a defensible “standard practice.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That cat is very exceptional…independent minded (resistant to brainwashing), not accepting that it should beg the passing all-powerful humans to trickle it down, but realizing its own greatness within.

      “Put MY money in the cup. It is mine in the first place. I am not begging anyone. Maybe I will spend that money so it will trickle down to you humans.”

      1. susan the other

        I loved this one. It makes the human look like a member of a good society. I thought, do dogs and cats drink sodas too?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That is to say, your comment verges on heretical.

        In any case, my advice is free (you are not paying for it). That makes you the product (how, I am not sure – all I know is, if you’re not paying for my free advise, you’re the product).

    2. abynormal

      Thanks…i thought so too (altho i was skeered the po cat just gave the hell up)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I thought tropical heat, because the scene looked like a Bangkok overpass to me, though I confess I don’t go shopping often, and my sight is not good, not even so far as to the keyboard.

        1. abynormal

          ha! now i notice the dog has 2 cups and the cat is taking up most of the marble(cooler) square. may have to look into getting this on tshits…if it hits i’ll split it with you (my teeth need help in a skeerie way)

  8. tgs

    Re: Ukraine Makes Amnesia the Law of the Land TNR

    Generally good article. Of course it is natural that the regime in Kiev would want to create a historical narrative in which their grip on power is the only natural and just outcome of history. But I was surprised by the author’s conclusion:

    Europeans should not watch passively as core European values are being silenced or denied in Ukraine’s hybrid war against Russia.

    What exactly are these core values? The Cameron government is presenting legislation to criminalize ‘extremist speech‘. And how do they define ‘extremism?’ Theresa May, a government spokesperson, clarified it as people “seeking to divide us”.

    The Harper government in Canada is playing around with the idea of instituting a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on anti-Semitism defining the latter as, ‘all forms of discrimination including in rhetoric towards Israel, and attempts to delegitimise Israel such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.‘.

    Whatever these ‘core western values’ are, they are less and less likely to include free speech. Indeed, it is no longer clear to me that western leaders even understand what free speech is. The Ukrainian government’s suppression of speech and institution of thought crimes seems to be completely in step with the ‘west’.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Yes, the Ukrainian government’s stance on these matters is unsurprising; these uninhibited asshole buddies of Our Leaders are just reflective of the Id of Our Leaders. This is where Our Leaders want things to go here as well. They are just doing a slower frog-boiling-style roll out here so as not to alarm us frogs.

      As soon as state-enforced limits on free speech were put into place, at first in Europe with the equating of dissenting or unpopular speech with hate, making it illegal to publicly express these state-defined thought crimes, and subjecting those who had the temerity to maintain such thought and speech to criminal prosecution, fines, or even imprisonment, the game was up. The camel’s nose was under the tent.
      Increasingly, this will be the plan here. At first, the effort will be to make some sort of inevitable connection between speech and societal violence, but soon enough, whatever might direct criticism onto the self-serving policies of the rich and powerful will also be defined as hate speech. It’s the “mission creep” that follows abandonment of principle in favor of the expedience of the rich and powerful of the world. Initially, they seek to control the discourse so as to minimize citizen awareness of just how skewed things truly are, but before long, passivity will be enforced through the state’s monopoly of legal and financial violence. The unseen movers behind such violence may actually be economic actors such as corporations or the hyper-rich; but if the instrumentalities of state power are not in themselves directly suited to accomplish these purposes, well then Bucko, ISDS will compel obedience.

      1. McKillop

        The issue is not only the loss of free speech through legislation or policy -a loss experienced by individuals and small groups. We’ve had efforts at censorship imposed but fought for years. The current efforts introduced in various legislatures are defining and selecting what ideas are allowed when used by the powerful or their advocates. Political governments and corporate governing bodies are declaring words and ideas as acceptable when used to their advantage. Putin, for example, or other political opponents can be named as murderers, or ‘hitlers’, by various hillaries or oligarchic thieves but . . . others should be “careful of what they say”. Netanyahu can smear others but laws that prohibit rebuttal are proposed – to spread the smears. Two-bit politicians can lie in Parliament but need to be protected from the insult of truth.
        Or consider the dreck that beams from our media. Misanthropy, bigotry and racism are o.k. if presented on laughfests or in filmsor reality shows but zero tolerance is foisted on the children who get to witness the commercials highlighting the cleverness. Or the shows themselves.
        Of course, the motive behind censorship is never self-serving; children or other selected victims need to be protected. And who would argue legitimately that we should ‘use’ the “a”word, the “n”word, the “c” word, the “q” word, et cetera. More importantly, who would claim that our leaders are murderous, as vicious as Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Leopold of Belgium, but better armed with weaponry and rhetoric. Anyone who does make such arguments or claims is seen as harsh, overly concerned with trivia, or disloyal. Any creature of the news networks would be tossed.
        Eventually, anyone who refuses to let the shit be is dismissed or becomes tedious.Or dies; but, like Carlin or Sinclair or whomever, misquoted, lives on irrelevantly.

  9. gene

    It’s always been my impression that the antidote is an image intended to provide a small moment of relief from torrents of bad news. How is the picture of a destitute, probably homeless man begging for alms with his two unbearably cute companions anything other than heartbreaking? Really, I’d love to be set straight on this.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The cat is the rebel here, representing polarity reversal.

      For me, it’s inspirational, noting the ascending order of first begging, then meditating and finally liberation from the currently prevailing trickle down paradigm.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      True, this sad, but something I’ve found endearing about the homeless is they invariably treat their pets as their equals or betters. The few times we’ve given food to homeless men, they invariably feed their dogs first (and it’s not about food quality). I can’t recall ever seeing a malnourished or cowed pet among the homeless, and I’ll bet most have a better, richer life than many kept in gilded cages.

      1. abynormal

        True That!

        “We conform to pain until we don’t notice it anymore; it’s what you call — numb — and it tragically blots out our pleasure too.”

        of the pleasures ive experienced…none compare with the honor of an animals attention

    3. Carla

      Gee, I thought it was an exhausted traveler at an airport, accompanied by canine and feline sympathizers. Maybe I thought that because I was stuck at LaGuardia during the Feb. blizzards and there were people in similar positions all over the place (although I’ll admit, I didn’t see any accompanied by a dog and a cat).

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: American Innovation Lies on Weak Foundation NYT

    This article asks more questions than it answers. But I was certainly gratified to see that the author rejects the idea that “science has somehow become less valuable.” Only in america, where a “watch” that allows the wearer to send his heart rate to another “watch” wearer qualifies as a groundbreaking “innovation,” could that suggestion be considered rational.

    Andy Grove, former Intel CEO, warned about the loss of innovation in an eerily prescient article written just short of five years ago. His contention was that true innovation is inextricably linked to manufacturing capability.

    ” How could the U.S. have forgotten? I believe the answer has to do with a general undervaluing of manufacturing—the idea that as long as “knowledge work” stays in the U.S., it doesn’t matter what happens to factory jobs. It’s not just newspaper commentators who spread this idea. Consider this passage by Princeton University economist Alan S. Blinder: “The TV manufacturing industry really started here, and at one point employed many workers. But as TV sets became ‘just a commodity,’ their production moved offshore to locations with much lower wages. And nowadays the number of television sets manufactured in the U.S. is zero. A failure? No, a success.”

    I disagree. Not only did we lose an untold number of jobs, we broke the chain of experience that is so important in technological evolution. As happened with batteries, abandoning today’s “commodity” manufacturing can lock you out of tomorrow’s emerging industry.”

    It’s a great, coherent, logical read. And it appears to be true.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/magazine/content/10_28/b4186048358596.htm#p3

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Science has become more valuable to the rich and powerful, but less valuable to the workers.

      On the other hand, if everyone was given a robot that would then seek work and put food on the table, then it would be a positive innovation.

      As for manufacturing, we know the 2 keys to personal longevity are low calorie intake and weight lifting. For a nation to prosper and live long, then, similarly, it should A) consume less and B) engaged in manufacturing.

      1. theinhibitor

        Science is not valuable to the rich and powerful. High return on investment is all they care about.

        Innovation in America is essentially anything that one company uses to make a profit that ‘no one else has used’. Key word is ‘use’. Most companies don’t innovate, they merely pick from various proven technologies.

    2. Brindle

      ” the chain of experience”—that is what community and local economies are all about. Face to face, hands-on, interactions in close proximity to one another. The chain of experience becomes quite diffuse when that chain has to go to Viet Nam or China at some level, then back to here.

    3. subgenius

      In my experience, all the most astute people I have met developed their skills in an apprenticeship-type setting… Master’s programs where an intellectual equivalent, but over time have tended more to an indoctrination process – and of course apprenticeships are now pretty much extinct.

      1. hunkerdown

        Curious, would the next most astute have developed their skills through hobbyist endeavors?

          1. subgenius

            Hacker and maker culture actually does kind of have an apprenticeship feel…imho.

            I think the reason apprenticeships are (were) so valuable is the way you develop knowledge and skills from the absolute bottom and work up…no short cuts like do well at arbitrary academic and social markers, leapfrog to an ivy league and then to a position of “authority” with zero realworld experience…

        1. subgenius

          Well….thats more or less the path I took, what with the lack of apprenticeships and the general bullshittery of master’s programs…I knew at least as much about coding, and way more about biological brains, than most the profs during my 1st (ai) as a result of ~15+ years of self guided study (grew up hacking as a kid, back when it was assembler, REAL modems and bbs’; made use of the Open University. and the bitchin John Rylands library; and learned a lot from assorted random crazy genius types I have a habit of meeting) …the most interesting people I met thru ai were not originally from CS backgrounds.

          Then I got lucky and my 2nd masters’s was more of an apprenticeship – just not long enough…but then classical Chinese medicine is kinda outside the usual system and I was extremely lucky with where and when I went to learn.

  11. Jim Haygood

    From ‘This Land is Ours’:

    ‘[Deputy Foreign MinisterTzipi] Hotovely laced her speech with biblical commentaries in which God promised the Land of Israel to the Jews. Speaking later in English, she signaled that she would try to rally global recognition for West Bank settlements, which are widely opposed.’

    Gotta love the euphemism ‘widely opposed’ in place of plain old ‘illegal.’

    It’s amazing, with the ubiquity of word processing and translation software, that more folks don’t write their own scriptures. Joseph Smith accomplished this in the 1820s (when the manuscript had to be dictated and transcribed in longhand) with stunning success. It ain’t that difficult.

    My forthcoming Gospel According to Jim will contain ironclad prophecies certifying my perpetual ownership of midtown Manhattan, Beverly Hills and the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Now accepting applications for apostles, acolytes and fluffers.

    1. vidimi

      was the biblical “land of Israel” even the same as the 2015 version of the state of Israel + occuppations?

      1. ambrit

        Google “Judea and Samaria.” This land occupies most of the West Bank.
        The more irridentist Israeli groups want the entire “Greater Israel,” which spreads up into Lebanon and Syria. (Some even claim Damascus.) The ‘Land of Israel’ can be formulated into a realm extending up to the Turkish Syrian border! Fanaticism knows no bounds; neither mental nor physical.

      2. Jack

        More or less. That’s why it was chosen. The core belief of modern Zionism is that Jews are entitled to the land because their ancestors once lived there. The more religious also genuinely believe God gifted is to the Hebrews, so it is theirs by divine right, though a huge number of Israelis (and Jews globally) are secular, so the Biblical talk is really just pandering to a specific demographic.

        One interesting thing is that historically Zionism didn’t originally focus on the Levant. It was about creating a homeland for Jews yes, but all kinds of locations were suggested over the decades. Personally I don’t inherentlly oppose the idea of an ethnic Jewish state, though there are obviously a lot of ugly potential problems that could lead to for non-Jews who might want to join. But then, how often do the Japanese let non-Japanese become citizens? So it’s not a unique concept, really. If they found some unihabited region and bought it off the owning government, or an inhabited one and the current residents were offered a lot of money and freely choose to leave, there wouldn’t be a problem.

        The problem is that where they choose to build modern Israel is smack-dap inside (and on top of, often literally) the home of millions of other people. Just because Jews may have an older claim doesn’t magically give them the right to kick out people whose families have been living there for centuries. And often older, because despite the Israeli line that Palestinians are later arab invaders, the genetic evidence tells quite a different story. A lot of Jews simply never left the region at all and converted to Islam and Christianity, some even stayed Jewish. So you have the insane scenario of the descendents of a European diaspora claiming to have abetter claim to a land than people who never left in the first place. There’s also consistent bigotry within Israel against Jews who came, or whose ancestors came, from other parts of the Middle-east. So the further afield diaspora is ranked higher than those who stayed closer to home even in exile. And of course Black African Jews aren’t really considered properly Jewish at all in Israel.

        I know it’s usually bad form to make sweeping judgements on groups that comprise millions of people, but I’ve read and seen a lot of reporting about the climate within Israel today from people like Blumenthal and Tarachansky, and the picture is grim. Paul Jay over at Real News is especially adamant that the racism is so thick these days in Israel you can practically see it. The results of the recent election seem to paint a picture of a country where a plurality, maybe even a majority, of people have lost their minds and gone to a very cruel, dark place. And people like the three above seem pretty convinced that it can’t last, if the Israeli government can’t continue to focus public furor outward the internal contradictions and conflicts will tear the country apart.

      1. Jim Haygood

        My son, with all respect, it’s not about you.

        It’s about the fulfillment of the glorious prophesies (which are being completed as fast as I can type).

        1. ambrit

          Baba Jim;
          What do the prophesies say about PMs? (Should I short silver?)
          A perplexed supplicant.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Oh mighty Baba.

            Oh mighty Mama.

            In short, Oh Baba Mama, or O’bama, the quick prayer version to go with one’s fast food and fast friends in today’s fast paced life or if you travel on the fast lane (or, rabbit lane, as I call it, as opposed to the turtle lane).

            1. ambrit

              Zounds! You’ve caught the mans “character” perfectly!
              On another front; I find myself falling into the mental trap of seeing life in terms of ‘lanes’ all too often. Proper practice should see life as an infinite, unbound space. The ‘OM’ lane, anyone?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                It’s unbound, but still, my prayer mat is my prayer mat.

                You get your own yoga mat.

                1. ambrit

                  I’ve wondered whether the ‘flying carpet’ in the “1001 Nights” wasn’t an analogy for a prayer mat.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    A Sufi master is like a Zen master.

                    Interestingly, they both frist appeared around the same time in history, when Tang China sought hegemony in Central Asia.

                    1. subgenius

                      +1…

                      I have studied some obscure martial qi gong that is almost identical to whirling. Technically, it is an old daoist practice, but these things tend to rhyme.

                      Also one of the most interesting people I studied Chinese medicine with is a sufi.

                    2. ambrit

                      I’ve read with pleasure a retelling of the story of the ‘birth’ of Zen. It’s the one about the acolyte of the sage who asked the most vexing questions. Finally, the Master picked up the rice bowl and broke it over the acolytes’ head. The acolyte immediately gained enlightenment.
                      The few Sufi I have met struck me as ecstatics. (Unfortunately, I did not suffer the acolytes fate.)
                      When I go to the mat, I fear I will be like Melville:

                      In placid hours well-pleased we dream

                      Of many a brave unbodied scheme.

                      But form to lend, pulsed life create,

                      What unlike things must meet and mate:

                      A flame to melt—a wind to freeze;

                      Sad patience—joyous energies;

                      Humility—yet pride and scorn;

                      Instinct and study; love and hate;

                      Audacity—reverence. These must mate,

                      And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,

                      To wrestle with the angel—Art.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “It’s amazing, with the ubiquity of word processing and translation software, that more folks don’t write their own scriptures.”.

      Are you so sure they don’t?

      I’m sure I have no idea whether “scriptural” references are legit or not. But I’m certain of one thing. The behavior is so far away from what god is supposed to be about that there’s got to be a disconnect somewhere.

      1. susan the other

        An article here on Links a while back from some social science research discussed the connection between hunger and belief in god. My take away: When our ancients got borderline starving to death they all came to Jesus – and way long before Jesus was even born mind you – and they evoked god out of thin air. No doubt so they could go on a raid and not feel too guilty. Besides, the only other option at that point was probably cannibalism.

              1. ambrit

                Oh soddus offus. (It’s a joke man, just a joke.)
                About that tunnel entrance in the mosaic floor of the palace. Wouldn’t that be the original “Bound for Glory” hole?

      2. hunkerdown

        Are you so sure they don’t?

        Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins comes to mind.

        Jamming something through Google Translate is not an effective means of “antiquing” an ideology. Besides that, why bother writing scriptures when you can interpret them any way you like, with as much impunity as you can afford?

    3. subgenius

      Just because some jackass is an atheist doesn’t mean that his prophets and gods are any less false.

      1. subgenius

        I don’t practice what I preach because I’m not the kind of person I’m preaching to.

      2. roadrider

        So you equate non-belief with being a jackass? Why does this kind of bigoted remark pass muster with moderation?

        And then you make the common, knee-jerk mischaracterization of atheism as just another religious belief with its own gods and prophets. Let me correct you on that. Non-belief (I refuse to use the term atheism because that is a pejorative term invented by believers and its use implies that non-belief in gods requires a special term; I don’t believe in any god. I also don’t believe in mermaids, leprechauns or Santa Claus. What special terms apply to those non-beliefs?) is the rejection of the concept of gods and prophets. And all believers are non-believers in all other gods than their own.

        Those that you dismissively refer to as “atheists” simply make no distinction between your god(s) and any of the thousands of other gods that people believe in or have believed in throughout recorded history.

        1. ambrit

          Moderation is in the ‘I’ of the beholder.
          I suspect that it goes far deeper than selective discrete belief systems. The nature of ‘faith’ itself is in play. Philosophers have made careers out of thinking about this.

        2. hunkerdown

          The Augustinian struggle of the evangelical atheist against the evangelical Christian… I will say that portraying henotheism as the only form of theism is serving only to reproduce the arrogance of the religion you claim to denounce. I would encourage you to read up on Whig history and the numerous polytheist cultures that Abrahamists have genocided in service of their faith over the centuries.

          1. Jack

            Vocal internet atheists are often really awful, obnoxious people. I say this not only as an atheist, but as one who was one of those loud internet assholes 10+ years ago. I have a theory that what is actually going on is that instead of having a genuine practical philosophy of rational, evidence based inquiry, they’ve instead adopted the idea of secularism and science as an ideology. They frequently exhibit many of the same traits of the religious evangelicals they claim to despise so much, and are completely unaware of it. They have their prophets too, figures like Harris and Hitchens.

            They’re also usually utterly incapable of engaging in any kind of more nuanced discussion of things like the function of religion. At the end of the day I don’t believe any of the supernatural claims of religion are true, but there’s much more to it than that. Why do religions develop in the first place, what longings are they striving to fulfill, what is the social and psychological function of religion and belief in general. There’s a Hitchens vs Hedges ‘debate’ easily found on YouTube which I love, because it’s clear the two aren’t even speaking the same language. Hitchens is totally incapable of even beginning to comprehend the more abstract arguments Hedges is trying to make. And of course the comments are predictably filled with internet atheists laughing about the ‘epic Hitchslapping’.

            Internet atheists also love to act snooty and claim they’re rational, while often indulging in highly ridiculous behavior that is anything but rational. But since the community is pretty insular it often acts as an echochamber. thunderf00t is a YouTube atheist ‘celebrity’ who basically hasn’t changed or grown up at all in more than a decade. In the last 18 months or so he’s developed an obsession with ‘debunking’ feminism. About a third to half of his videos these days are on that subject, frequently specifically Anita Sarkeesian. It goes without saying there’s fairly significant atheist evangelical/activist and GamerGate overlap, though less outright MRA and even less pickup artist crossover.

        3. subgenius

          There IS no God — but if you’re any kind of real American, you’ll demand that He treat you as an EQUAL.

          1. abynormal

            hehehee i happen to be reading an osho…
            “The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.”
            “Doubt–because doubt is not a sin, it is a sign of your intelligence. You are not responsible to any nation, to any church, to any God. You are responsible only for one thing, and that is self knowledge. And the miracle is, if you can fulfill this responsibility, you will be able to fulfill many other responsibilities without any effort. The moment you come to your own being, a revolution happens in your vision. Your whole outlook about life goes through a radical change. You start feeling new responsibilities–not as some thing to be done, not as a duty to be fulfilled, but as a joy to do.”
            Osho, The Book of Understanding: Creating Your Own Path to Freedom

            (Tom Robbins wrote of Osho… the most dangerous man since Jesus Christ bhahahaaaa)

      3. optimader

        Just because some jackass is an atheist
        I believe if you were to Venn Diagram that, it would merely be an intersection.
        godstuff can really get the hackles up

  12. vidimi

    the TTIP bringing evil to the world before it even enters into force: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/22/eu-dropped-pesticide-laws-due-to-us-pressure-over-ttip-documents-reveal

    and this gem was buried in the news: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/22/florida-retrieving-700000-tires-after-failed-bid-to-create-artifical-reef

    Florida officials have resumed raising some of the hundreds of thousands of tires dumped off its shores decades ago during an unsuccessful attempt to create an artificial reef.

    Between 1m and 2m tires were piled in the waters around Florida in the 1970s, but coral and fish never took to them as hoped, according to Allison Schutes manager of the Trash Free Seas program at the Washington-based Ocean Conservancy. Now they are causing other problems.

    something tells me the decision to dump a couple of million tires in the ocean was 100% political and 0% scientific. expecting that reefs form around vulcanized rubber must have gone against all scientific advise.
    the fact that these tires are now being removed and that they’re actually DESTROYING the reefs they were supposed to be building is a testament to how devastating the consequences have become.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s a good TTIP link, and shows the sovereignty-destroying effects clearly.

      Adding, IIRC the nation-state, and sovereignty, were formulated with the Peace of Westphalia, after the Pope dropped the ball on the whole “ruling Christendom from Rome” thing.

      So, to the extent the “trade treaties” undermine the Peace of Westphalia, that would make the ISDS system a sort of corporate Vatican, with its own Holy See, and no doubt Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Index Librorum Prohibitorum, etc.

      Plus ça change…

      1. hunkerdown

        Martin Luther would surely be arrested for possession of contraband production materials (nails) on the way to the local parish, or gunned down in cold blood for an unlicensed, concealed hammer, with “some social justice message” found in his hand…

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I think he would become distraught and would hang himself in his cell using his belt (what do they call the belt he would have had?). Or he might have just disappeared — found his way into a local river wearing heavy clothing.

      1. hunkerdown

        Now that the Democratic Party have shown themselves all-in for child smoking, perhaps the party of sham peace can take their long overripe leave.

  13. JTMcPhee

    Antidote? to what? poverty?

    Interesting couple of of links and comments recently. I like the one about looking down out of one’s second-floor gym window at the well-dressed lady (!) regularly searching through the garbage cans behind the nice restaurant and occasionally getting “take-out” boxes brought to her by kitchen staff apparently unenhanced by the 0.01% meanness gene.

    And an earlier one, reassuring well dressed ladies who get their nails done in NY that they, personally, don’t have to worry about infectious diseases picked up in their salons, since even though the poorly-paid nail-workers aren’t regulated, and have no protections themselves against workplace poisons and pests, the implements of nail beautifying are all autoclaved and sealed up in nice hospital-looking packages with those little bands with the stripes that reassuringly change color if they get hot enough for long enough, assuming the parameters they’re engineered to actually are sufficient, kind of like the paper strips around the toilet seats and the plastic baggies and little paper caps on the drinking glasses in your classier 2 and 3 star hotels. To add just a little frisson of anxiety to the comfortable world of the comfortable, might I suggest a link of links that kind of indicates that autoclaving is a touchy and occasionally imperfect kind of attempted sterilization? http://en.allexperts.com/q/Popular-Science-357/autoclave.htm

    Quite a complex set of ethos’ we humans have developed, on our way to extinction… Too bad that our mutual vulnerabilities, patent and covert, are so distastefully asymmetric…

  14. diptherio

    Banks aren’t being punished like criminals because they don’t have bodies to imprison. Duh. How hard is it to distinguish between flesh-and-blood people with nervous systems and material existence and companies that are nothing more than a nexus of legal and financial relationships? Apparently, damn-near impossible for most people…{sigh}

    1. Alejandro

      You’re right…and it also doesn’t help when we keep referring to them as banks as opposed to banksters. Banks don’t commit crimes, banksters do…corporate personhoodlums notwithstanding.

    2. hunkerdown

      Why not involuntary servitude as a punishment for crimes duly convicted? Any court could still dock their effective income down to 44¢/hr (and take the rest as restitution to the society that no longer exists).

    3. subgenius

      But…now they are people…so shouldn’t all the cells (employees..at least at the decision-making levels) be imprisoned?

      …kind of like captains going down with their ship?

      1. hunkerdown

        Consider how a robust safety net would allow people to opt out of knowingly working evil without starving. Consider how that choice is apparently so socially destabilizing that we can’t even acknowledge how we enforce it on our nearest and dearest, let alone strangers. Were it not the way of the world, Facebook might not find enough H-1Bs at any price, not even with a “100% allowable” from the Texas Railroad Commission and the Department of Labor Commerce.

  15. Dan Lynch

    Re: Basically Unaffordable. The article refers to a UBI, not a BIG. A BIG is means-tested — it guarantees a certain basic income, it does not guarantee that income in addition to your other income. Means-testing need not be complicated. As long as the BIG is less than the minimum wage, people would still have a financial incentive to choose work.

    The UBI seems to be a straw man that critics find easy to attack while overlooking a true BIG.

    BTW, the most worthwhile article of yesterday was MofA’s story on how the DIA warned Obama that support for “rebels” in Libya and Syria would result in the rise of ISIS

    1. spooz

      Interesting how a link to the Economist is presented without comment on their general lack of credibility, BTW.

        1. hunkerdown

          Perhaps a dummies’ guide to heterodox credibility might make for a good page somewhere, or even just a tooltip in the blogroll. e.g. “The Automatic Earth: Mostly harmless.”

    2. susan the other

      about the ISIS warning – that’s just cryptospeak for “this is a good plan” so that the memo can be archived with all the necessary deniability

      1. susan the other

        Kinda like yesterday’s Armed Svc Committee (? not sure about all those committee names) Senate hearing wherein Lindsey Graham organized a bunch of tried and true red-hot redneck warmongers to “testify” – you know the procedure… And he himself still had to try desperately – with the most outrageous leading questions I have ever heard – to make the point that ISIS is a thread to the American homeland – they are coming here if we don’t stop them there! I suggest we just give them Lindsey and call it good.

    3. nihil obstet

      It’s the argument of “not affordable” that violates logic in order to support the interests of the elite. A universal income is a policy proposal in its own right, not a straw man to a different policy.

  16. Brindle

    re: Obama’s Strategic Shift (Syraqistan)

    This a good article if you can filter out Robert Parry’s long held belief in the essential goodness of Obama. Parry’s Obama is kind of a Jimmy Stewart/ Eagle Scout character who is doing his best navigating the treachery of “Official Washington”.
    It seems obvious to me that why Obama has so may neocons and liberal interventionists in his administration is because he agrees with their aims and tactics.

    Parry:
    “It’s finally dawning on President Barack Obama”……”That, however, would require Obama finally taking control of his foreign policy” ………….”Obama dared not challenge Official Washington’s conventional wisdom”…….”Even as he muffled his voice to avoid offending the dominant neocon narratives, Obama understood”……..”Belatedly, Obama has roused to the impending threat” …….”Now, with Obama finally recognizing…”

    1. Jackrabbit

      Yes. You’ve got to wonder about that.

      Obama’s craven duplicity is recognized by virtually every other close observer. And the pretense of an Obama-neocon conflict wore out long ago.

    2. Carolinian

      You might want to offer better evidence that Parry is some kind of Obot. The examples cited could amount to little more than figures of speech. Parry’s beat is foreign policy, and I don’t think I can recall any of his columns that do anything but criticize Obama policy in that area. He also runs a website that is extremely critical of Obama.

      I do find Parry’s stuff to be somewhat repetitive–often just summarizing previous reporting. But if you are suggesting he has some kind of hidden agenda, please back that up.

      As to the notion that Obama is not in charge of his own foreign policy: is he in charge of any policy? To many of us he seems like little more than an empty suit…a pr front for policies preferred by his Chicago backers and others. Pat Lang’s sources describe him as someone enamored of the trappings of office but inattentive in meetings and eager to spend as much time as possible on the golf course. This doesn’t make him any less blame-worthy than if he were personally running the whole thing. In fact it’s worse…

      1. Jackrabbit

        He’s been consistently like that long after most self-respecting independent analysts had run out of excuses for Obama. He may not be an Obot but his view of Obama strains credulity and taints his analysis.

      2. Brindle

        I like Parry, he’s not an obot, he just consistently seems to give Obama the benefit of the doubt as far as motive. Yes, I think Obama is mostly an empty suit as far as duties and responsibilities of being president. Obama has a wonderful family and he has a sense of humor— he is just a lousy president.

  17. Jack

    Oh look, the newspaper called The Economist doesn’t understand how the economy and money works. I’m shocked. SHOCKED.

    1. susan the other

      Well, I’m an authority on how money works. When it is perverse, it works like god. You evoke it out of thin air, you use it to profit at the expense of other people, animals, and the environment; you become pointlessly wealthy and pious, and you spend your life pontificating the virtues of the thing you created in the first place. But when it is humane, it creates trust.

    2. subgenius

      You know how dumb the average person is? Well, by definition, half of ’em are even dumber than THAT.

      1. ewmayer

        Not to be ‘mean-spirited’, but that in fact defines ‘the median person’, not the average one.

  18. Jackrabbit

    My “game of chicken” analogy from a couple of weeks ago was a compact car against a Tractor-trailor where the tractor-trailor is hauling valuable merchandise (e.g. public trust and market confidence) and the driver of the car is an unemployed victim of austerity that wants his family to get the insurance money. As they near disaster, the tractor-trailor blares its horn and flashes its lights – the media that it controls. Someone noted in comments that the analogy works better if it is a bicycle instead of a car.

    Today, in ZH:

    We’ll close with the following comments from Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington who spoke to Bloomberg today by phone:

    “[Germany is ready] to take this brinkmanship very far [with Schaeuble as] attack dog. We’re in this game of chicken. The problem is that Alexis Tsipras is riding a scooter and Wolfgang Schaeuble is driving an armored BMW.”

    I think my version (modified to motorcycle instead of car or bicycle) more. It’s just a more accurate depiction.

    =

    Along the same lines, when will the media note the “Catch-22” at the heart of the Greek negotiations?

    =
    =
    H O P

        1. Alejandro

          Its been said that “it’s not the years lived but how the years are lived.” There’s a lot to be said about the eradication of “otherness” but that’s just me…independent of dogma or ideology, it’d be hard pressed to deny the legacy that many regard as more enlightened than “the vile maxim of the masters of mankind”.

          1. ambrit

            True. Real radicals are feared by everybody ‘ordinary’, irrespective of affiliation.

          2. optimader

            Its been said that “it’s not the years lived but how the years are lived.”
            Probably by an older wiser person encouraging impetuously risky behavior.

            1. Alejandro

              Probably true, the key word being ‘wiser’… another said that “life is not a spectator sport”…still another said that “a better world IS possible” as affirmation not just aspiration…I guess it depends from where you draw inspiration, where inspiration by definition is the breath of life…

              1. ambrit

                Isn’t the word translated from the New Testament as “Holy Ghost” pneuma, or ‘breath of life?’
                An older wiser person wouldn’t make such a suggestion unless he or she was an evilly older and wiser person. The “how the years are lived” quote shows a knowledge of the essential unknowableness of the future. It’s like trying to figure out a curve mathematically.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      I don’t know. Seems more like Alexis Tsipras is on a pogo stick and Wolfgang Schaeuble is driving an aircraft carrier. They can never quite meet, but that doesn’t seem to prevent Schaeuble from ramming his aircraft carrier several miles inland and damn the torpedoes, nor stop Alexis Tsipras from trying to hop on water.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Well that’s why my analogy works better. If its just some monstrously huge thing against something insignificant in comparison then the mind reels knowing that in such a contest it’s futile for the little guy to resist.

        But I add:

        1) the desperate motivation of the driver of the small vehicle (appropriate to the situation);
        2) the valuable cargo hauled by the trucker (which is hidden from onlookers);
        3) the media controlled by the trucker which is used to frighten and warn off the smaller vehicle.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe it’s like two ships passing in the night…soon it will be dark again.

    2. Yves Smith

      I have to confess to writing this without having checked the AM news, but I didn’t see any mention of Greece prominently in the news services yesterday. Not only does it appear that the Eurogroup is not breaking a sweat to find a way to get money to Greece (I’ll add a comment here if I see anything in my news foraging that says otherwise), there does not seem to be much evidence of behind the scenes scrambling to get a deal done. And the media and Mr. Market aren’t even acting all interested. That seems to take a lot of power out of the game of chicken idea. What it TPTB believe that a collision won’t hurt anyone that matters?

      1. Jackrabbit

        The left in Greece is talking about repudiation of odious debt. And the message: “Troika to Greece: Drop Dead” is likely to get a strong reaction from a public that otherwise prefers to stay in the Euro. Then there is the question of Greek foreign policy were it to become a free agent.

        The Troika hold the cards and they have played masterfully: forcing Greece into a Catch-22, for example – which set up the noncompliance that is at the heart of the game of chicken; Obama’s initially urging the Troika to reach a deal; IMF appearing to split with Europe (meaningless, really, because they take a back seat); media coverage – or lack there of, etc. But are they really ready to gamble with the uncertainty of a Grexit? Weathering the exit financially is only one aspect of the the fallout. A Grexit brings everything back to the front pages: bank bailouts, inequality/crushing austerity, what it means to be European, etc.

        Despite the appearance and messaging that Greece MUST cave in, I think the outcome is too close to call.

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, I read the Paul Mason article. As I have said repeatedly “odious debt” is not recognized much of anywhere as a legal theory. Greece in joining the EU agreed to be bound by the rulings of EU courts. And pretty much all of the debt has been restructured in 2010 and 2012, so the government affirmed its legitimacy, since technically the older was retired and replaced by new debt (and went from being Greek law debt to English law debt).

          If any country had the right to try the “odious debt” line, it was Argentina, since a lot of its debt was incurred by a non-democratically elected junta that stole the proceeds for its own use. They didn’t try that.

          The odious debt idea is a flaky non-starter. The ONLY reason it is germane is that if the hard left can get enough support for pursuing it, is that PROCEDURALLY it can totally screw up the negotiations by curbing the Greek government’s power to deal.

          1. Oregoncharles

            ESTABLISHING “odious debt” as a category would be a huge advance. somebody has to try.

            Of course, the real underlying issue is sovereignty. It seems to have been whittle down drastically.

  19. Paul Tioxon

    Further confirmation and a well rounded overview of the alternative energy juggernaut that shows why the Saudis are imposing self discipline to manage peak demand, that is in their sphere of influence, and not peak oil supply, which is outside of their control, as tight oil is pursued due to a historic conjuncture of money too cheap to meter, ZIRP, the appearance of $150/brl of crude. If the Age of Oil is to last long enough for Islamic nations with a vast fortune in cheap, easy to extract crude, they need more than a few decades of mass consumer demand, from India and China consumers buying autos as well as industrial customers. But, as this article points out, Solar Energy grows stronger by the minute and oil grows more problematic with each ISIS victory, each Russian extortion and each fracked well causing earthquakes, destroyed aquifers and financial havoc as prices retreated below $100/brl.

    It is game over for oil, and no one understands this better than the Saudis whose behavior mystified the financial analysts of the oil sector. They and there still misguided and miseducated moderate pondering commentators don’t understand that the world they know is so far in the rear view that the only label for them is OILBOTS!

    You’ll know you’re an OILBOT, when you ignore the massive data coming out of the alternative energy sector from all around the world, from Pakistan and India, to China and Hawaii, which will have 50% solar electricity within 10 years, and say things like: “you know Paul, the top universities have to do engineering studies to find the best technologies and then commercialize them before those wild and crazy solar thing a ma jingies compete in the free and fair open marketplace cheaper than the abundant supply of crude and natural gas”.
    Please, FOR the love of god, click on the hyper links of this article if you show any signs of OILBOTNESS and get a clue. Nakedcapitalism is cutting edge, start acting like it when it comes to Solar!! And thanks for a great article about the disruption of renewables. Here’s more:

    http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2015_05_21_Spark2015_19

  20. Doug Terpstra

    Paul Mason still characterizes Syriza as “far-left” “radical left”, and “hard left”. So the real left is the “lunatic fringe left”?

    1. hunkerdown

      The real left is unmentionable in polite company, in hopes they’ll vanish in the (Daily) Mirror.

    2. Yves Smith

      The name of the party in Greek is Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς, Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás, which translates as “radical left coalition”. So if they call themselves “radical left,” is it unfair of the MSM to take up their brand imaging?

      1. Doug Terpstra

        I stand corrected. It’s all Greek to me:-) I didn’t realize they called themselves radical left. I always thought that was a pejorative label by others, like the right calling Obama a Socialist.

        1. Yves Smith

          Greece has much finer grades of left-ness than we do. There have long been multiple Communist parties, for instance, with the brand differentiation depending in part about how friendly they’d like to be towards the USSR/Russia.

          But yes, I agree with your general point. They sure don’t act like radicals.

  21. George Phillies

    Ordoliberalismus

    Or something like that. It’s the German equivalent of Austrian market liberalism, but very different in implementation. There are rules, and they must be obeyed, even when they make no sense. For an extended discussion, see the Economist May 9, 2015 issue, pages 46-47. The approach tends to guarantee that there is no possibility of a negotiated settlement to the Greek issue, because the two sides cannot create an overlapping solution space.

    Note, by the way, that Yves called this correctly way back at the beginning, namely the solution spaces did not appear to overlap.

    1. hunkerdown

      Don’t forget the flip side of ordoliberalism: if one follows the nonsensical program rules, the nonsensical(ly contingent) program outcomes can become fact. It’s a bit like stupid pet tricks writ large.

      1. subgenius

        I think of it as “garbage in, garbage out”

        Thinking about it…that should probably be the motto of modern civilization

          1. abynormal

            “It’s not a question of learning much. On the contrary. It’s a question of UNLEARNING much.” Osho

  22. JCC

    On the Berkeley cellphone article, I found it interesting for a couple of reasons, but mainly the pro-cellphone comments.

    Cell phones operate at the same frequencies as the SatCom equipment that I used to work on when I was in the Army, at about the same power levels (believe it or not). For example, I operated a system in Korea that pumped out about 5 watts directly with 400 to 500 milliwatts potential “spillage” off the sides of the dish – about that of cell phones, whether you are talking on them or not. We didn’t go near the dish when we were transmitting.

    As a matter of fact, I witnessed an interesting incident down at Ft Detrich, MD. Sometimes dishes “run away”. This means there is a servo failure of some type and the dish slams to one side of it’s travel area instead of pointing at the satellite. One of the big dishes ran away at night and as it moved across it’s travel area – running about ten watts output – it’s path crossed the base hospital about 1/2 mile away. The building lit up like a christmas tree, every neon light in the building lit up as the microwaves “tickled” the lighting. High frequency radio waves are pretty powerful. Throw some metal in your microwave oven and fire it up for 2 or 3 seconds and you’ll see what I mean.

    Anyway, we were warned that the DoD had conducted numerous studies (years ago – more than I care to think about) regarding both the output and “spillage” and had determined that it could become a serious personal health risk for those that operated the equipment. Because of their studies, we were required to take both eye and hearing tests every 6 months.

    Ever since cell phones became a big business, these sorts of studies, if mentioned at all, and there have been many, have always been poo-pooed by the industry and various studies paid for by the industry. Go figure…

    In this article, the DoD studies that say they are dangerous aren’t mentioned, of course, only studies from countries like Turkey which most Americans would not believe because those studies are supplied by “backward” countries (at least in their parochial brains – considering that about 95% of Americans have never traveled outside the US and are told on a pretty much daily basis that all countries are “backweards” and “primitive” compared to us). Personally, I happen to believe the DoD studies since they were conducted before there was money in the game and the primary purpose was to determine if there was a health risk to their own, expensively trained, people.

    By the way, for what it’s worth and for the above reasons, I rarely carry my cell phone (it’s “old fashioned”, i.e., not a smart phone) on my person. For the ten hours a day I spend at work the cell phone stays in the car if I remember to bring it with me at all, and at home it’s usually in the kitchen, and I’m not :) And I spend on average less than an hour or two a week using it. I really do think they should be used sparingly. Other than keeping in contact with family and friends or the occasional personal business call, I’m not a big fan of cell phones in general, just another leash I don’t want to wear.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Republic of Berkeley.

    Cellphone health risks.

    I would also warn about risks associated with buying a house, car loans and borrowing to attend Cal….prominent signs up and down University Blvd and Telegraph.

    1. hunkerdown

      Or of participating in any other corrupt system, a phenomenon in which right-to-know bill author Lawrence Lessig is fairly conversant.

    2. JCC

      And this, in my mind, is exactly the reaction that the cellphone industry loves.

      First, the article is based on all those crazies in The Republic of Berkeley, and “we know what they’re like”.
      Second, worrying about carrying a constantly-on ultrahigh frequency emitting device next to your person 16 hours a day is ridiculous compared to the danger of cars or taking out loans for education or housing.

      Funny though, that no thinks a thing about never ending articles on, or commenting to, smokers on a daily basis about the risks of smoking, or to overweight people about their eating habits and advice on how to lose weight, but commenting about the risks of using or carrying a ultrahigh frequency-emitting device millimeters from your brain is foolish if not flat out nuts.

      At least the average person has some control over how and when cellphone are used, unlike control over industry-level fraud loans for, and usage of, cars, education, and roofs over their heads… so why not be at least aware of the associated problems? Unfortunately most are not, not to mention that the industry loses revenue every second they are not turned on… which is the whole point of ensuring this gets no or “silly” publicity.

      I happen to think it’s also odd that the US Military (DoD required) doesn’t get called “silly” for putting up 10 foot high barbed wired fences with Big Red Signs saying Keep Away When In Use around these exact same frequency emitting relatively low-powered devices.

      I guess we should call their health concerns just another example of “The Republic of the United States”.

      1. hunkerdown

        One of the convenient things about single-issue arguments is that they lend themselves readily to ignoring the root causes and expending effort on symptoms. I mean, you mentioned cellphones and cars in the same paragraph and not a single chirp about texting while driving… ;)

        The upshot of cancer is extended periods of profound discomfort, ham-handed doting from ignorant-but-well-meaning comrades and family and strangers, a $200k+ debt, and a small chance of not living to pay it. Yeah, it’s pretty horrible. About the same as buying a house and getting married under prevailing economic and social conditions in the US, modulo the risk of outright mortality.

        On the other hand, perhaps there are risks and costs entailed by involvement with the credit system and with mainstream society and culture in general, that one is socially conditioned to not price into it? It seems difficult to read a statement as measured if reduction to absurdity is less threatening to one’s social standing.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps it’s only to the faithful, but the Republic is a sanctuary in this galaxy dominated by the most omnipotent empire in history.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: NSA spying powers on brink of lapsing

    And…? Does anybody seriously think the spooks will just stop?

    I recall Poindexter running the Total Information Awareness Program up the flagpole during the Bush administration, complete with creepy logo and everything. It didn’t go over well at all and got scrapped. Except it didn’t – they just went ahead and did it anyway and hoped nobody would notice. When the whistle was blown Congress made it retroactively legal. So if it becomes illegal again I suspect the same behavior will continue to occur. I won’t believe a damn thing has changed until I see the servers ripped out of the buildings and melted down.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Only an omnipotent being can have total awareness of the past, present and future.

    1. hunkerdown

      Sessions must be taking the rotating face angle that Wyden took during the Snowden drama, I imagine. Wonder when he’s going to slip us the shiv.

      1. jrs

        But Wyden is still out campaigning hard against the Patriot Act NSA spying provisions (along with Rand Paul). In between campaigning for Fast Track the day before and the day after. What a principled guy.

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    The kill-switch link caught my eye. I am very skeptical that the research in this area is intended “to find ways of educating people to make them less likely to succumb to ideological requests or commands to kill.”

    Do the scientists really believe that sort of disclaimer after they helped the United States build an atomic bomb in the forties? I guess that proves a lot of the ungenerous statements made about scientists’ culpability for the harm done by the bomb.

    I think it is far more likely they have found the “switch” for their own moral qualms, in proportion to the generosity of the funding that keeps their research alive. Much of the research being done on the brain, Obama’s pet science initiative (not sure how much “pet” wrt. “talk” opposed to ” “pet” wtt. funding — “walk”).
    A lot of what I’ve seen in the last several years related to research in memory, mental activity related to mental state, and high strength magnetic field control of links between brain centers could have so-called “dual-use” applications. It takes little imagination to craft a truly nightmarish process for “questioning” (also called interrogation by those who do not approve) ranging even to means for introducing beliefs to a subject’s mind (not quite so elegantly or romantically as in a recent movie).

    [The more I think about it, the more I suspect I could file for a very lucrative patent using to my ideas for applying recent research findings to design an elegant “questioning” process for finding and creating the truth. I still have a few months to wait before getting out from under my former employer’s broad claims on my intellectual property — all patentable devices or processes and all intellectual works written or dreamed. Once my dreams were not my my own, I seldom dreamed after that.]

    By the way — I think it might be possible to modify a house-hold microwave oven to operate at 70 GHz instead of the ~2 GHz it currently operates at. With a new coil and capacitor you could have your very own home pain generator almost like the “box” in “Dune.” Imagine the possibilities for maintaining a happy, truthful and scrupulously obedient home. Home-life could mirror the tranquility of life in modern society.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That occurred to me as well. I’m surprised that article drew so few comments. Arlo Guthrie:

      And I walked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper, said, “Kid, see the psychiatrist, room 604.”

      And I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL.” And I started jumping up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL,” and he started jumping up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL.” And the Sargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, “You’re our boy.”

  26. Jerry denim

    Ex-Im bank & TPP. What a double gut kick let down. Ex Im is a basically just a US government subsidy for the already ridicously subsidized Gulf airlines to finance jumbo Boeing jets below market rates. Ex-Im bank exports good, union airline jobs to the Gulf in favor of a few more non-union manufacturing jobs in places like Charleston SC.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, and so we have Patty Murray (D-Boeing) and Lindsay Graham (R-Boeing Union-Busting Plant) coming together to support Exim and TPP. I think this could be the start of a beautiful marriage.

  27. ewmayer

    FWIW, I wrote my congressman (Mike Honda, D-CA) a couple days ago to express my ‘grave concerns’ re. TPP, TPIP and fast-track, especially focusing on the unconstitutionality of ISDS and the whole shroud of secrecy surrounding the proceedings. Here his (auto-, but at least an auto heading he right direction, IMO) reply:

    Thanks for your comments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

    As you know, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) that is being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and most recently Japan. The negotiators of the TPP say they endeavor to write a “comprehensive and high-standard” free trade agreement that would liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and remove barriers to foreign investment. The TPP negotiations cover 29 trade topics that are referred to as “chapters.”

    The TPP could potentially eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the participant countries and could serve as a template for future free trade agreements. I support opportunities for increased geopolitical and economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific region and gaining increased market access for American businesses. But I am concerned that a poorly designed agreement may disadvantage American businesses and workers in some markets, such as automobiles, and that aspects of an agreement could threaten U.S. sovereignty within certain areas including the ability to regulate health, labor, and environmental standards.

    To address these concerns, Congress must be able to closely review the text of this trade agreement before it can be ratified. This has not been possible, however, which is why I have joined several of my colleagues in expressing to the President my concerns over the lack of adequate congressional oversight during the negotiations, and my opposition to the use of “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would prevent a fulsome review of each chapter and provision of the TPP. The far-reaching nature of contemporary trade agreements demands more oversight and public input through Congress, not less. The TPP process has not been inclusive, and TPA relegates Congressional input to the end of the process after the trade deal is already agreed to by the countries. Congressional input must be preserved throughout the trade negotiation process to ensure that trade agreements adequately meet Congressional standards. Congress is unable to represent the legitimate business and environmental concerns of American workers, investors, businesses, and other concerned citizens if it signs away its constitutional authority to this and future administrations.

    Full congressional review is needed to ensure that TPP requires other nations to enact real and enforceable reforms to their market access policies and currency manipulation practices and to implement fair labor and environmental standards. I will continue to push for transparency in TPP agreement negotiations and will keep your strong views in mind as the negotiations move forward.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “Blah, blah, blah…” I got nearly the same evasive, utterly noncommittal, maybe/maybe-not letter from Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ. Must be a DLC form-letter variant:

      “Here’s how you fend off your pesky constituents and have it both ways, by saying nothing at all very thoughtfully and with the most sincere gratitude for their idiotic concern. As always, add your own flourish so they don’t suspect we’re all bought by the same masters and the fix is in. And BTW, any of the banks listed in the SEC settlement will be happy to launder the enclosed check for you. One more thing, don’t forget, the NSA is watching and listening”

      I think an honest “buzz off!” would be less maddening. Politicians make weasels look like paragons of integrity and virtue.

      1. jrs

        Well how much do you expect them to say about a trade agreement they haven’t read? The Honda letter does sound opposed to Fast Track. Hopefully he sticks with it.

  28. Tsigantes

    re Paul Mason on Greece:

    Congratulations! This article is 100% closest to Greek news, political analysis and spirit on the ground that I have seen for many, many months on naked capitalism.

    Lambert, your comment

    Not sure how this would affect the power relations in play, if at all, but feel free to Google “Schauble envelope.” It’s occurred to me — on no authority at all — that among the reasons the Greek oligarchs have hitherto been untouchable is that they’ve had corrupt dealings with the Germans.

    provided one of those eureka moments, when an invisible blockage in communication dissolves. “But of course!” is the answer – and not just today’s oligarchs, but also Prime Ministers and politicians dispersed throughout the main parties, powerful businessmen and public servants – i.e. ‘germanoellinares’ [big german greeks] – whose deep state connections to Germany owe more to family background /tradition than political ideology.

    Greece and Germany have an historically toxic relationship going back more than a century – one that no foreigner could be expected to know, but lacking such knowledge would be stymied in understanding Greek politics and tensions. This originated first in 19th century Greek resentment at the Great Powers’ imposition of an inept German monarchy on the newly liberated nation (worse, one that invented the republic). Since the monarchy always sided with Germany when Greece’s interests were better protected by its alliance with the British, the first political uprising against the monarchy took place in 1907 under pro-republican Eleftherios Venizelos in Goudi. This was compounded by the King’s disastrous Asia Minor campaign resulting in the Smyrna catastrophe in 1922 and the forced exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. A painful series of coups and counter-coups resulted in the King- and army-supported (pro-German, pro-Axis) Metaxas fascist regime in 1936.

    This division was not just political but deeply felt: manifesting from the 1910s onward between families speaking German as a second language (pro-monarchy) and Venizelists who refused thereafter to speak even one word of German, and spoke French instead (liberate, egalite, fraternite). This has lingered….

    Strangely, even the dictator Metaxas redeemed himself in 1940: when the Italian ambassador presented Mussolini’s order to “allow” the Italian army’s march into Greece, he refused. And while tradition claims he said “Oxi!” [No!], in fact he replied “C’est la guerre” – a nice irony :))

    Though the monarchy was ousted in 1967 (former King Constantine is referred to in Greece as Mr. Glucksberg), the deep division and suspicion between Greeks has not disappeared. While the question of monarchy is redundant, the issues of loyalty and collaboration were compounded by later, worse, events: WW2, the civil war, the US vengeance against Greek communists and the US reaction against any politics in Greece remotely “socialist” which resulted in the 1967 military junta.

    Sorry to go on like this, presenting well known history from the Greek side at the risk of boring you. Less well known, even by Greeks, is that German involvement in Greece was by no means confined to and did not disappear with the monarchy and the war [defended by Germany today as a one-off strategic event with no prior involvement] but has another more pernicious strand directly related to today’s events (and your intuition), going back 80 years to the end of WW1 as deliberate German state policy. The Danish historian Mogens Pelt thoroughly documents the Greek-German relationship in 2 books published by Museum Tusculanum Press: Tobacco, Arms & Politics (1998) and Tying Greece to the West: US-West German-Greek Relations 1949-74 (pub. 2006).

    Best that I quote from the books’ blurbs & intros. Of Tobacco, Arms & Policies: Greece and Germany from World Crisis to World War, 1929- 1941 :

    This is the first comprehensive analysis of the political and economic effects of Germany’s policy toward Greece in the crisis-ridden decade prior to the Axis occupation in April 1941. Based on extensive research of declassified official archives in Germany, Britain and Greece as well as on records from private firms, it examines the objectives and implementation of Germany’s policy and the responses to it in Greece. By analyzing especially the trade in tobacco and arms, the main items of the Greek-German commercial exchange, it maintains that the impact of German policy towards Greece played an important role in the establishment of the Metaxas dictatorship in 1936. Furthermore that Berlin saw Metaxas as a valuable asset to German interests in Greece and her objectives in south-eastern Europe. Showing that the war industry in Greece based on German technology developed into the by far largest and most important branch in Greek industry and the biggest and most modern in the Balkans and the Near East, it also maintains that Hermann Goring used Greece to further his own objectives in the on-going power struggle in the German state and in the rivalry between the two Axis powers, Germany and Italy.”

    The book itself is an eye-opening name-and-shame for Greek readers.

    Curiously enough, (coincidence?!), Merkel’s present husband is the son of a prominent German trade representative to Greece, resident in Athens with his family in the 1930s, who was deported when the Greek government discovered he was head of the German spy service here.

    It gets worse.

    In Tying Greece to the West: US-West German-Greek Relations 1949-74 :

    Tying Greece to the West examines the reconstruction of Greece in the post-war era and how Greek foreign economic and political relations with the United States and West Germany developed, especially the Greek-West German trade and the American and West German financial and aid policy. [While we are under the illusion that an occupied, thoroughly subjugated Western Germany was being aided…]

    It posits that US-West German policy towards Greece took the shape of a ‘burden-sharing’ i.e. Bonn gradually took over certain policies vis-à-vis Greece which were originally formulated in Washington and that this took place with American connivance.

    Furthermore, it investigates which impact Greek foreign relations had on the domestic development, particularly in relation to the establishment of the dictatorship in 1967, the so-called Colonels Regime. It also analyzes the whole period of military regime and the relations between King Constantine II, the Colonels and the Americans.

    The Second World War disrupted the Greek economy, polarized politics and left Greece in a state of severe economic and social disorder. The Axis occupation was followed by civil war with devastating consequences and the Greek Civil War was one immediate reason for the declaration of the Truman Doctrine in 1947. [Greece was the first application of Dulles’s Domino Theory…]

    The Truman Doctrine made Greece subject to the most costly overseas American aid program ever in peace time. However, gradually, West Germany became the backbone in Greece’s foreign economic relations. In this way West Germany also took over a number of the policy goals which Washington had formulated since the declaration of the Truman Doctrine. The Marshall Plan years were formative in this process which culminated during almost three years of protracted negotiations when West Germany was the driving force in Greece becoming the first associate member of EEC in 1962. [Under George Papandreaou’s grandfather; attaining full membership under Andreas Papandreaou].

    We are awaiting Book no. 3, post-junta to the present :-)

    This would cover the formation of the 2 main (corrupted) parties ND and PASOK and their subsequent development; the unexplained wealth expansion of the junta era oligarchs dominating greek business today; the development of the crony system between the two at the cost of the Greek taxpayer; the mysterious introduction into Greece of an East German Greek origin electronics engineer with a fortune to invest – inexplicable in terms of his previous, humble East German career – who dominated our telephony/electronics industry, and is now a retired billionaire; the massive dominance of German firms in all Greek business sectors since the 1950s; the serial awarding of Greek trade, construction, electronics and arms contracts to German businesses over decades; the un-level-playing field laws restricting business investment inside Greece by both Greeks and outsiders; the identity of Troika members and their forced “opening up” of various Greek business sectors (insurance, dairy etc.) to German profit and wholesale takeover since 2010; the hypocritical propaganda against Greece by Germany for all the above arrangements and practices which are benefitting Germany more than ever and as never before; the continued support by Germany for ND and PASOK in which the SYRIZA government was reluctantly written into the program as a ‘parenthesis’ government soon to be squashed flat – and if / when that happens, the much milder “reforms” that will be offered to the returned parties. And if this sounds too anti-German, consider Germany’s relationship with the US as alluded to above.

    Finally – those old cultural allegiances do still apply funnily enough. If only for amusement’s sake, keep an eye out for french speaking, french educated Greeks – Zoe Konstantopoulou of the Mason article above, Kammenos of ANEL, the currant migrant and homeless-feeding, hospice initiating Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, Poulantzas the political philosopher of the Greek left…and for the German speaking German educated Greeks such as the Mitsotakis family of ND; PM Simitis of PASOK who engineered Greece’s entry into the euro without consulting Greeks, – and the Goldman Sachs swaps – and presided over the build-up to the Athens 2004 Olympics; Akis Tzochatzopoulos, former Defence minister under Simitis, now in jail for procurement bribes (and who Simitis told off last week for corruption at his final appeal, while disclaiming all knowledge of the costs of the contracts, despite these been Greece’s largest disbursements)….

    “Then again, it’s hard to see how Tsipras would explain Konstantopoulou’s “pipeline” to Merkel in one of their friendly chats. Pass the popcorn.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks very much for this splendid essay with its wealth of historical detail (and citations); it’s illuminating. Some damned foolish thing in the South Balkans….

      And the detail about Merkel’s husband’s father…. Wowsers.

      * * *

      I cannot forbear from adding that Janine Wedel’s “flex nets” easily model the kind of multi-generational family/clan/faction relationships that you describe, in a way that less powerful and more rigid analytical tools do not.

  29. Jon Cloke

    This might seem like a silly question, but why is the picture of a man and his well-trained dog and cat begging on the streets an ‘antidote’, exactly? Are we supposed to take the cute image of the cat lying out-stretched on its’ back and excise the social context of desperation?

    What a strange sense of humour you have, Yves..

    1. ambrit

      I’ll take a crack at it.
      First, this edition of the site is organized by Lambert. (All names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
      Second, the cat looks photoshopped.
      Third, look at the postures and expressions on the faces of the people in the background. This adds social context.
      Fourth, the posture of the man in the picture looks awfully like a gesture of supplication. More social context.
      Fifth, the dogs posture echoes the mans, while the cats inverts it. This is a common source of discussion and argumentation on this site.
      Sixth, not all antidotes, indeed, perhaps none of them, are meant to be humorous. If I were to laugh at anybody in that picture, it would be the people in the background.
      Enjoy!

Comments are closed.