Links 9/10/15

New Justice Dept. Rules Aimed at Prosecuting Corporate Executives New York Times. So after I stopped laughing until I choked, I realized what an indictment of Eric Holder this was. Because if you need new guidelines to tell career prosecutors to prioritize putting criminals in jail, then the standing policy prior to that moment had to have been the opposite. And that’s really damning.

Puerto Rico Proposes Harsh Austerity To Solve The Debt Crisis Think Progress

This Table Shows What’s Happening With Chinese Trading Partners All Around the World Bloomberg

Era of low interest rates fails to generate growth policymakers expected Financial Times

Germany’s trade and current account surpluses rise as exports soar Prime Economics

Fed Wavers On September Rate Rise Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ

Can You Beat the Fed? WSJ. Because it’s for the elites, by the elites, the object of the game is to only hit, not go over, the 2% inflation “target,” and there’s no mention of full employment, the other mandate.

House GOP can pursue part of health care lawsuit, judge rules The Washington Post

Migrant crisis

German-Denmark motorway closed after hundreds of refugees march Reuters

Refugee flow linked to Turkish policy shift

Europe’s Refugee and Migrant Crisis: What About The Women? Echidne of the Snakes

Stop the migrant boats, says Farage BBC

As European Migrant Crisis Grows, U.S. Considers Taking In More Syrians NYTimes

Trump calls for taking in Syrian refugees Politico

Walker: U.S. Should Not Take In Syrian Refugees Wisconsin Public Radio. Wow, getting to Trump’s right on immigration.

Ex deputy PM admits Tsipras gov’t was unable to borrow “from third countries” Keep Talking Greece

Tequila, Painted Pearls, and Prada: How the CIA Helped Produce ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Vice

Uruguay has pulled out of TISA talks, says gov’t Paraguay too, reports PoliticoPro. The coalition is starting to fray.

Iran deal

Clinton threatens military action if Iran breaks deal AP

House GOP Hardliners May Block A Vote Against The Iran Deal Huffington Post. This is called “losing badly.”

Gohmert Vows To Quit Congress And Await ‘Nuclear Holocaust’ If Iran Deal Passes TPM. See above.

Campaign hawks shirtless, tattooed Cruz poster The Hill

Climate change denier Rupert Murdoch just bought National Geographic, which gives grants to scientists Boing Boing

California Democrats Drop Petroleum Provision From Climate-Change Bill WSJ. It’s rarely remarked on, but the oil industry pretty much rules California politics. It’s the only state in the nation – including Texas and Alaska – that doesn’t charge a severance fee to oil companies for taking hydrocarbons out of the ground, for example.

Surgeon general to call for national walking campaign Washington Post

McDonald’s to Use Eggs From Only Cage-Free Hens NYTimes

Class Warfare

Rate Of U.S. ‘Food Insecurity’ Stubbornly High Huffington Post

Sanders on Thursday to Spotlight Bill Reversing Pension Cuts Bloomberg

JOLTS Report is Evidence of an Economy Moving Sideways Economic Policy Institute

Debt collectors ordered to refund millions to consumers CNN Money

Cuomo Set to Back $15 Minimum Wage Across New York State NYTimes. This is a testament to the power of sustained argument.

How Pope Francis Is Reviving Radical Catholic Economics The Nation

Pile of whale puke will auction for upwards of $10,000 WaPo

Antidote du jour and thanks for letting me DJ the past couple weeks…


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


    1. Vince in MN

      Although the researchers don’t state it, the results of the study seem to imply that most adults have the mental acuity of a 4-8 yr. old child. I agree.

  1. Carla

    Many thanks to Dave Dayen for steering the NC ship so well for the last couple of weeks.

    And welcome back to Yves, too!

  2. hidflect

    Clinton threatens military action if Iran breaks deal.

    Publicly reassuring her mega-donor, Haim Saban? She has no positions on anything. Just stakeholders.

      1. different clue

        If Sanders is still in the primary races by the time Michigan holds its primary, I will vote for Sanders.

        If Sanders has been dropped or driven out of the primaries before Michigan, I will cross over and vote for Trump in the Republican primaries. Trump would be a better more honest president than Clinton or Biden or any other DLC Third Way Clintonite Obamacrat.

        If the Dems nominate a MainStreamer and the Reps nominate Trump, I will be free to vote for a Third Party candidate. But if the Reps nominate a creature thing like Walker or Bush, I may have to vote Democratic regardless. That is why I so badly want Trump to win the Rep nomination. So that I can be free to vote against Clinton or whomever in the general.

        1. Louis

          In all fairness to Hillay Clinton Bengazhi was a witch-hunt: i.e. an investigation in search of a non-existent scandal. However, the revelations of storing government emails on a private server are much more troubling—at best it shows poor judgment and at worst criminal. I guess time will tell which one it is. Worse than the initial incident may be how Clinton has handled this issue. Many in the Democratic Party oppose a war with Iran and her remarks may not be the only instances where she is out of step with her own party.

          All of this makes me very hesitant to support her—if someone else wins the Democratic nomination, fine. However, if Hillary Clinton receives the nomination, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

          1. Oregoncharles

            The “benghazi!” witchhunt seemed designed to cover up the real scandal, which was one of incompetence and negligence. The successful mob attack was an obvious failure of both security and intelligence. Did they think the place was actually safe?

            Former intelligence people like Ray McGovern are also telling us that the “consulate” was probably a CIA black site, and involved in shipping leftover weapons to Syria. Why have just one failed state when you can have two?

            As a result of Republican misdirection, none of this stuck to Hellary. where it belonged.

          2. hunkerdown

            No, she’s perfectly in step with her own party. The problem is that the laity doesn’t know that the Party needs them for the three seconds they’re holding the collection plate or the ballot and need to STFU, STFD and like it for the other 99.9999% of the time.

            Silly people thinking that evangelizing Coke over Pepsi makes them Warren Buffett…. Why don’t we use an object model that has some real teeth in it, and call them laity in a bourgeois church pretending to be a political party?

          3. vidimi

            i’m sure that, if they wanted to, they would find that the embassy in benghazi was a gun running operation to ISIS. if you believe all that american equipment they have they got solely from fleeing iraqi troops, i have a shiny new bridge i’d like to sell you. the whole war against isis is a sham, though. if it wasn’t for those unsavoury beheadings, they would be more openly fighting against assad and supporting those “moderate rebels”. why else would they be so upset about the russians taking the bombs to them?

        2. Llewelyn Moss

          Serious question. What makes you think Trump is really ‘On Your Side‘? Because it appears to me that he made his millions by cheating investors (grandma and grandpa via fund investments) and paying his employees slave wages.

          Good news is Bernie is ahead of Hellery in Iowa in a new poll.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Maybe because we are programmed to believe SOMEbody HAS to be “on our side” look over there at that beautiful rainbow!

  3. Paul Tioxon

    Oil Severance Taxes by states:

    Your commentary on 3 states who charge no fees for hydrocarbon extraction is completely wrong. All 3 of those states, in particular Alaska, charge fees, taxes etc. It is Pennsylvania that charges only a local fee on the county and township level where wells are located to pay for road repairs and other burdens to extremely weak and sparsely populated local governments to pay for maintenance that enables corporate business activity.

    The state of PA currently has no state budget due the conflict between the republican controlled legislature and the newly elected democratic governor. The governor wants 5% tax on gas fracking for education and republicans want to privatize everything.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        If you were saying CA has no severance tax, okay. PA also has no severance tax. So, CA&PA, perfect together.

  4. allan

    “House GOP can pursue part of health care lawsuit”

    Pretty much off-topic (as usual), but by coincidence as I was reading that, one of the ads in the column on the right was a video labeled “Health Theater”. What a great name. Just as the DHS provides Security Theater™ for the traveler at the airport, the ACA provides Health Theater™ for the patient at the hospital.

    “You should have asked whether the anesthesiologist was in-network before we operated.”

  5. low_integer

    Being somewhat of a film photography enthusiast, I have followed the careers of some of the National Geographic staff photographers. David Alan Harvey and Amy Vitale spring to mind. The idea of travelling to exotic locations with a Leica M, a Nikon F, a few lenses and a couple hundred rolls of film captured my imagination. Some here may know that these cameras are fully mechanical and do not require batteries to function, allowing photography to remain independent of the grid.

    As far as the National Geographic magazine goes, I feel it lost something important when the staff photographers were let go and all work was sourced from freelance photographers. This coincided with the widespread adoption of digital cameras. I do not know if the same thing happened with their staff writers, however I am inclined to think so. Just to be clear, I have nothing against freelance photographers, who are the 99% majority these days due to market forces, I just really liked the way the old school pros used to do it.

    I do not have cable TV, however I have seen enough of the National Geographic station to know that much of what they broadcast fits in the spectrum between pulp science and exploitation. Of course, they do have some high quality material, which is to be expected with the number of high quality people who have worked there with the right intentions over the years. It is sad to see their legacy being disrespected.

    I think Murdoch truly hates the human race. He went to a very prestigious boarding school in Australia, Geelong Grammar, which has recently been the subject of a huge police investigation and trial (covering the past 50 years) due to teachers, religious staff, and even other students, molesting students. Many ex-students have come forward and the all too familiar pattern of silencing/smearing the victims seems to have been a key factor in how this has taken so long to be publicly revealed. Scenes from the trial have been broadcast on Australian television.

    While the investigation does not stretch back to Murdoch’s years at the school, I strongly believe this was the forum in which he became the hateful man he is today. I think he either mastered the art of sociopathy while at this school as one of the predators or was abused and has succumbed to a deep hatred of the world as a consequence. He seems to play a similar game, on a very large scale, to that used by those who abused students and then used their power to silence the victims, pushing the innocents into what I expect feels like an impossible position. Admittedly, this is all speculation, and is essentially just my opinion.

    I also note (from yesterday’s Water Cooler) that he has been tweeting about Biden, and he did something very similar with regard to Australian elections recently, stating that Aus. should re-elect Tony Abbott(!) and that the environmental leanings of the Green Party were making the country ungovernable. This is in such direct opposition to the wellbeing of the Australian population and general decency as to be ridiculous. What he is essentially saying is that he can’t get his way at the moment, and that he is unhappy about it.

    The last thing I’ll say for today is that these sort of things used to really annoy me, but now I just see them for what they are. I think this is an important point, in that much of the power of these types of people lies in their ability to emotionally manipulate both their useful idiots and their opposition (I think diptherio has expanded on the benefits of achieving a non-reactive state of being here in the past).

    1. Carla

      Thank you so much for these thoughtful and insightful comments. I’m especially grateful for your perspective from “down under.”

    2. andyb

      Given the inexorable march to totalitarian control that is evident globally, it’s safe to assume that all of the world’s leaders are either 1)psychopaths themselves or 2)controlled by psychopaths.

      Quick quiz: Which of the following are 1) and which are 2):


      1. low_integer

        If you allow yourself to be manipulated by psychopaths to the detriment of the common good, then you are one yourself, so it’s a trick question.

        1. low_integer

          Of course, many are manipulated by psychopaths to do things they don’t agree with to put food on the table, however I see this as a very different thing from people who do the bidding of psychopaths in order to work their way up the power ladder. As with almost everything, it exists on an non-discrete spectrum.

        2. different clue

          If you don’t even know you are being manipulated by a psychopath, how does that make you a psychopath? Wouldn’t that just make you a psychopath’s tool?

          If rats perform as expected in mazes set up by behavioral scientists, does that mean the rats become behavioral scientists? Do you really believe that?

          1. low_integer

            I’m not sure if you read the addendum to my first reply to this ‘quiz’, however I will just state that those with the faculties to understand what they are getting themselves into, in what is essentially a quest to feel like they are superior than their fellow human, are just as liable as those that give the orders. Many do not understand this and it is forgivable if they are herded down the wrong path by those with stronger mental capacities. When it comes to world leaders I do not have much tolerance for the ignorance excuse.

            1. hunkerdown

              Cheers to ya mate. Ends do not justify means in and of themselves. But what if pathologically ambitious class warriors like Murdoch are precisely what prestigious boarding schools are meant to turn out, and precisely what differentiates them from any other educational institution? What if, in the eyes of TPTB, he’s one of the *good* apples? I think that puts the status of the whole institution of residential K-12 schooling as a social good into serious doubt.

          2. Praedor

            You are what you do, NOT what you say, NOT what you claim to believe. You are , ENTIRELY what you do. If you act as a psycopath (or sociopath), then that’s what you are.

            1. different clue

              If you have been successfully programmed to carry out someone else’s psychopathy without knowing it is psychopathy, or someone else’s programming; you are not a psychopath. You are a behavior machine.

      2. low_integer

        If one is going to ‘quiz’ others, it seems only fair that they should express their point of view once they have received the replies that they were seeking. What do you think?

      3. frostyzoom

        hey, those guys form the COAHAM (pronounced “cowham”) group of superduperworldimportantleadershipguiders!

        like the man said, “yes, there are two paths (psychopath or sociopath) you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

        so, in order to remove the shackles that seem to be ever closer to our jugulars, i hereby propose a People’s boycott of all COAHAM countries until the People’s voice reigns supreme over these fair lands once and for all.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Gee, and how are the People going to governance themselves once they come to “reign supreme” over all the sh_tpot places that once were “fair lands waiting to be plucked by the limbic-system-driven hand of Home Economicus, which seems on observation to be the end point of the species? But your comment was probably snark, right?

          Gotta love prescient or at least percipient writers of “fiction” like Frank Herbert. He did COAHAM a little differently, rendered it CHOAM:

          The Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles (CHOAM) is a universal development corporation in Frank Herbert’s science fiction Dune universe, first mentioned in the 1965 novel Dune. CHOAM controls all economic affairs across the cosmos, though it is still at the mercy of the Spacing Guild’s monopoly on interstellar travel. In a 1980 article, Herbert equated CHOAM with OPEC, the real-world intergovernmental organization which is a major power in the petroleum industry.[13] He writes in Dune:

          “Few products escape the CHOAM touch … Logs, donkeys, horses, cows, lumber, dung, sharks, whale fur — the most prosaic and the most exotic … even our poor pundi rice from Caladan. Anything the Guild will transport, the art forms of Ecaz, the machines of Richese and Ix. But all fades before melange. A handful of spice will buy a home on Tupile. It cannot be manufactured, it must be mined on Arrakis. It is unique and it has true geriatric properties … But the important thing is to consider all the Houses that depend on CHOAM profits. And think of the enormous proportion of those profits dependent upon a single product — the spice. Imagine what would happen if something should reduce spice production. — Duke Leto Atreides, Dune

          CHOAM’s management and board of directors are controlled by the Padishah Emperor and the assembly of noble Houses known as the Landsraad (with the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit as silent partners). Because of its control of interplanetary commerce, CHOAM is the largest single source of wealth in the Old Empire; as such, influence in CHOAM is a central goal of political maneuvering. In Dune, Herbert notes:

          “You have no idea how much wealth is involved, Feyd,” the Baron said. “Not in your wildest imaginings. To begin, we’ll have an irrevocable directorship in the CHOAM Company.”

          Feyd-Rautha nodded. Wealth was the thing. CHOAM was the key to wealth, each noble House dipping from the company’s coffers whatever it could under the power of the directorships. Those CHOAM directorships — they were the real evidence of political power in the Imperium, passing with the shifts of voting strength within the Landsraad as it balanced itself against the Emperor and his supporters.

    3. abynormal

      Thank You for sharing another deep seated indecency from behind the lens.

      “An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.”

      btw…please share your pics ‘ ))

    4. diptherio

      I’m sure I’ve waxed poetic about the benefits of non-reaction–but boy is it hard to put into practice! I don’t even want to think about how many times a day I yell at my computer as a proxy for some f-ed up aspect of our society.

      In a conversation with a friend the other day, he dropped this little piece of profundity on me, via some Hindu monk: “without condemning or condoning, try to understand.” Good advice, to be sure, but also difficult…especially for us judgmental bastards.

      1. abynormal

        “When many are reduced to one, what is one reduced to?”
        gotta luv the koans bhahahahahaaaa

        allowing the I to look at Itselfbring on respiratory embarrassment
        (breathe aby)

      2. Praedor

        If you neither condemn nor condone, then what good are you? If you are neither here nor there then you are, passively, allowing what is going on. If you condone something, you are aiding it. If you condemn something, then you are doing something to fight against it.

        Do something, doing nothing is mere passive agreement with WHATEVER.

        1. hunkerdown

          As a society, we could do well with a lot more WHATEVER, actually. What little we have is wasted on larger matters and Instead we’re nitting about neighbors’ front-yard vegetable gardens and their conformity to the edicts of dead drunken saints. We might do better to judge nothing but others’ externalities.

          It isn’t necessary to have an opinion on everything. That’s what people hate about bourgeois culture and why people like myself work to wreck it wherever we see the opportunity.

      3. tim s

        I think that most of the western understanding of this type of being mistakes non-reaction with non-action. While there are plenty of non-action types, i.e. Christian-Ascetic types, this is not the only way. IIRC, the Bhagavad-gita states that a person should act without expectation of a specific result. I take that as a person should act as they deem right, but not to do it with so much emotional involvement that they risk mental breakdown.

        In our current situation, assuming we are not on the neoliberal oppressor side and are working for a more common good, we should give our full effort in pushing back our oppressors, but not have high hopes for a specific end result. All in due time will the oppressors be pushed back once our strength is great enough and no sooner. The non-reaction would not be non-action, but would be an immunity to the propaganda of the oppressors, as well as to the discouragement of our losses.

        Call it mental toughness if you will. We need plenty of it. We (collectively speaking) are still very weak in understanding our situation.

        “without condemning or condoning, try to understand.”

        This is very important, no doubt, but it does not preclude action according to your nature. Also, understanding is always slow coming, and never fully arrives. You do the best with what you have. ’nuff said, although more could be said.

    5. ex-PFC Chuck

      I think he either mastered the art of sociopathy while at this school as one of the predators or was abused and has succumbed to a deep hatred of the world as a consequence.

      Or perhaps both?

    6. JEHR

      Regarding Murdock’s ownership of The National Geographic, I am appalled (well, being appalled is now my natural state of being). I have been a reader and subscriber of this magazine since 1971 and I really hope that I won’t feel compelled to stop my subscription because of Murdock. I guess I should not be surprised at the continued consolidations taking place because eventually, if the big global companies keep on expanding, there will be only about a dozen of them running the world. What a merry time that will be (not)!

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘… hope that I won’t feel compelled to stop my subscription because of Murdoch.’

        Don’t feed the troll. Read NatGeo at your public library, starve a press lord.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Thanks indeed. Nicely done. DJ Suave. Like the old friend, house guest who didn’t even wrinkle the sheets. Also… good to see you chillin’ ’round The Intercept.

      The thing about that monster, Hillary Clinton… is when she threatens to destroy a country (Iran) people better damn well know she means it. When it comes to Honduras, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Ukraine/Russia and so on, we know this is who she is and what she wants to do. And as anyone who thinks for a nano second knows… that alone should eliminate any and all credibility she claims when it comes to thinking of the children. If I had children I wouldn’t let them in the same room.

      1. barrisj

        … that alone should eliminate any and all credibility she claims when it comes to thinking of the children. If I had children I wouldn’t let them in the same room.

        Well, she cultivated that particular reaction at the feet of one of her old mentors, Madeleine Albright:

        Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

        Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.

        —60 Minutes (5/12/96)

        HRC totally unfit for higher office, maybe instead an honorary position within UNICEF? Written with irony, don’t you know.

  6. ambrit

    Re. the debt collectors doing a “we’re paying this to ‘get it behind us'” bunk; We’ve been in this position ourselves. The letters are downright nasty, full of threats and cajoling. When I called the most importunate debt collection agency, I connected with a live human and promptly asked for “Mz Smith, (no relation to our pseudonymous Hostess,) or any of her cousins who work at your company.” I can attest from experience that persons employed by debt collectors must be chosen with a high value placed on humourlessness. I am waiting for someone to open a debt collection mill named ‘Scrooge and Marley.’

  7. Billy Bob

    Just recently, I see a number of stories here and elsewhere – e.g. Justice Department to look at white collar crimes, CFPB orders refunds – indicating that Obama has decided to try not to look so corrupt his last year or so in office and just run a standard conservative Republican Administration. I suppose I should cheer.

    1. ambrit

      Just salute and go on about your business, which is business. (If it is not, our ‘Personality Adjustment Facilitators’ will contact you to schedule your ‘Reeducation Seminar.’)

    2. tegnost

      I too have been noticing a hollow attempt at populism. Pretty pathetic. Stand up and be counted for what you are.

    3. Brooklin Bridge

      One of the most impressive populist moves was talking about the environment in Alaska on one line while he was on the other one to the oil companies saying,” drill baby drill”.

      He has the best “whatever” creds (why even bother to hide it) of any president in living memory including little bush.

  8. JTMcPhee

    Re “Zero Dark Thirty,” reminding myself that night is day so there can be “Darkness at Noon,” so in the darkness “swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight/Where ignorant armies clash by night” I can reach out and clutch my painted pearls:

    A little exegesis of the degree to which the f__kers rule us, from their ivy-twined connections, a memento mori and explication of the depth of penetration of the death wish mythologies into what we ordinary people, even the “sophisticated” ones (recalling that “sophisticated” also means “adulterated, spoiled, unnatural”) so arrogantly claim as our “culture:” From the Journal of Cultural Economics, “The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters,” (if you click the “look inside” button, you can see at least the first couple of pages that tell the main story.) Everything, everything in service to the One Ring That Rules Them All…

    There’s the essence of one reason why humans are mostly unfit to continue as the dominant species — echoes of “Planet of the Apes, Part II.” So very subtle we chimps are, so slick at designing and activatiing the stratagems we chimps applaud as they emanate, under pretty covers, from the “West Wing” and the fertile genius of the players depicted in “Game of Thrones,” and on and on…

    And the horror of being saddled, some of us, with silly notions of “goodness” and “decency” and “right conduct,” which are nothing but the dry skeletons, with bullet holes in their skulls, of wry and knowing jokes, to “our betters…”

  9. Steven D.

    When a Republican is president and things are humming along for the one percent, the Fed shrugs at inflation rates of 5 and 6 percent. But let there be an actual crisis and a Democratic president who may be presumed–in this case erroneously–to have a more stimulative policy, and the Fed panics, clamping the lid on inflation at 2 percent, as if trying to tell the world they aren’t going to let things go to Hell with any crazy stimulus.

    So, perversely, their effective policy is more restrictive in a recession than during relatively good times. Sort of like Obama coming in and thinking his and the world’s top priority was to prove to the right people that he wasn’t a liberal and that rather than bringing the change he promised, he would assure continuity.

    1. ambrit

      There are so many questions surrounding Obama’s psychological “character.” I’d love to see the Anonymous hackers find and publish the CIA’s psychological evaluation of the man. Heavens, the “Club for Growth” must have a dossier on Barry.

      1. abynormal

        its dispiriting when yall do this to me (¡my eyes my eyes!)
        …A review of Obama’s public speeches, campaign materials and especially his writings reflect that Obama’s personality has been remarkably consistent from childhood through adulthood.
        In his book “Dreams From my Father,” Obama lays out the foundation for an examination of his character and personality. That seminal work reveals much, and almost all of what it reveals is truthful and applicable to his presidential prospects.
        Obama’s life began with loss, hurt, confusion, alienation, frustration. Out of these he constructed a psychological “mask” that still endures.
        Every individual wears a mask. It is a part of reality and a part of a healthy personality and psyche.
        But Obama’s pain still controls his personality. Like Dr. Strangelove’s arm, that can’t help rising, Obama’s sense of loss, exclusion, frustration and fantasy still overarch his personality. He authored a book “Dreams From My Father,” when in reality he got no dreams from his father. Obama created his father’s “dreams” in his own fantasy world. The fantasies associated with the “missing parent” are among the most powerful, the most enduring and occasionally the most devastating in human experience.
        He was “Barry” until he went to college. Then he became the tribal Barack. But on his first visit to his “roots” in Kenya, he once again succumbs to “Barry,” because that is what his father and family called him.
        He apparently held and still holds Kenyan-American dual nationality, but has scrupulously avoided any discussion of his “dual” status. Duality is not what Obama craves: he craves the singular, the linear, and the straight and narrow, to compensate for his own confused and winding initiation into the hardship of life and family, of creating a personality and mask consonant with his troubled feelings.
        Over and over again, Obama returns in his speeches and in his writings to a sense of loss, alienation, detachment. He is a skillful promoter, and he manages to overcome his mask, to gild it with soft statements and lofty promises. He sells his weakness as a new paradigm of strength, security and clarity when there is little strength and no clarity in his mind.
        Indeed the very essence of his personality is the perpetual, eternal promise unfulfilled. Obama’s “Hope” is the absence of reality, the unattainable in his own life scaled up to a national fantasy which he hopes to peddle to unsuspecting voters and especially young people. When he fails, they will feel betrayed.
        While decrying the “smallness” of our politics he resorts to the smallest dimensions himself. Is he seeking to control foreign policy, or is he a frustrated local school board member? Should our schools be run from Washington, as he suggests, by the president, or should local people have final authority? Should the federal government have a bigger role in local schools, or is he just engaging in the casual blather that he decries in others? What is he going to do about teacher salaries? Nationalize or federalize them? And, oh, the teachers’ unions. In Obama’s fantasyland all of these conflicts and contradictions dissolve into “hope.” He is for more pay and perks, but which teacher’s union supports strict accountability and expedited procedures for dismissal of incompetents?
        Does Obama really believe that we need to revive the role of “labor unions” in his “digital economy,” or is that merely another sop to leaders that might support his candidacy? The very things that Obama condemns, he is in the process of becoming.
        Bill Clinton reduced the presidency to worrying about school uniforms. Before long, Obama may be promising “healthy snacks” for school children as part of his “hope” for the future. Where does the smallness end? Obviously not with Obama, the newest champion of the same, the secure, the warm and fuzzy and ultimately the same escapist fantasies as every other career politician.
        In Iraq? Obama wants to “cut and run,” by 2008. “We can’t wait, till 2008.” It will succeed marvelously as political policy in the Democratic Party primaries, but it will bring collapse to or failed policy even worse than that engendered by George Bush.
        While Obama claims to be moving along Robert Frost’s “road not taken,” in reality he is on the same road, seeking the same fund raising contributors (tens of millions of dollars), seeking to stimulate the same media hysteria and ultimately seeking to run a traditional campaign while claiming he is doing precisely the opposite. In short, a bunkum artist who is fully capable, because of his “Mask,” of convincing himself of the truthfulness of his delusions. The same way children are.
        Can his personality stand the stress? Probably not.

        1. neo-realist

          Maybe the post presidential sequel to Dreams from my Father will be Hope and Change: Delusions for the American People?

  10. abynormal

    “‘You sad, attention grabbing, power-hungry little man’: Michael Stipe becomes latest celebrity to get into a war of words with Trump after singer hits out at him for using REM song (its the end of the world) at Iran rally”

    ‘Go f*** yourselves, the lot of you – you sad, attention grabbing, power-hungry little men,’ he said, via the Twitter account of bassist Mike Mills.

    ‘Do not use our music of my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.’

    Mills, 56, had previously tweeted: ‘Personally, I think the Orange Clown will do anything for attention. I hate giving it to him.’

    In an attempt to redirect attention away from Trump and on to ‘things of greater importance’, the band released its official statement on Facebook.

    ‘While we do not authorize or condone the use of our music at this political event, and do ask that these candidates cease and desist from doing do, let us remember that there are things of greater importance at stake here,’ it read

    Lighted in the amber yard, a green shellback, green shellback
    Skylight, sty-tied, Nero pie-tied, in a tree tar-black br’er sap
    Reason has harnessed the tame, a lodging, not stockader’s game
    Another Greenville, another Magic Mart, Jeffer, grab your fiddle

    The biggest wagon is the empty wagon is the noisiest
    The consul a horse, Jefferson, I think we’re lost
    Little America, rem

  11. MikeNY

    Really interesting links today. I enjoyed reading The Nation piece on Francis and co-ops and localism, together with Cuomo’s $15/ hr wage piece in the NYT, together with the pieces on the intellectually captured boobery of the Fed.

    Small (or at least, smaller) is beautiful, in the words of EF Schumacher. It seems change always gets started at the local level.

    1. abynormal

      Agree…on all points. a gift for you: Schumacher Center for a New Economics

      Even today, we are generally told that gigantic organizations are inescapably necessary; but when we look closely we can notice that as soon as great size has been created there is often a strenuous attempt to attain smallness within bigness.

      There is no such thing as the viability of states or of nations, there is only a problem of viability of people: people, actual persons like you and me, are viable when they can stand on their own feet and earn their keep. You do not make non-viable people viable by putting large numbers of them into one huge community, and you do not make viable people non-viable by splitting a large community into a number of smaller, more intimate, more coherent and more manageable groups.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can you beat the Fed?

    I don’t think so – the Fed being the money creator.

    I do believe, though, the Fed can and does triumph over itself…regularly.

  13. Vatch

    New Justice Dept. Rules Aimed at Prosecuting Corporate Executives New York Times.

    The statute of limitations for many federal financial crimes is 6 years or less, so some of the crimes that caused the Great Financial Collapse are completely off limits. There are still some crimes with a 10 year limitation, so maybe if the prosecutors try really, really hard, they might be able to imprison some of the people who destroyed the economy. I won’t hold my breath, though.

    Here’s a list of the limitations for various crimes:

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Surgeon General…national walking campaign.

    That’s a good start.

    I would suggest, in addition, national affordable, fresh organic food campaign.

    “Why should organic foods be more expensive? Is this a case of science and technology making what have been around forever, and the default choices, less affordable?”

    Looking from another galaxy, being that far away, an observer can be less partial, more objective, and see that this is not progress, but going backwards.

    1. abynormal


      The diaphragm is the membrane that separates the lungs from the stomach. When we breathe in, our lungs fill up with air pushing the diaphragm down, which in turn makes the abdomen protrude out. During exhalation, the abdomen retreats in automatically.

      To be sure you breathe correctly, you must divide the breath into three parts; lower abdomen, middle abdomen, and chest.

      When inhaling, first fill up the lower abdomen with air, then the middle abdomen, and last the chest. When exhaling, the air in the chest goes out first, then the air in the middle abdomen, and lastly the air in the lower abdomen. You must physically push the abdomen out when inhaling, and in when exhaling. However, when done correctly, there is no need to pull the abdomen in because it is done effortlessly.

      You can compare inhalation to filling up a glass of water. The first thing to be filled up is the bottom of the glass (lower abdomen), then the center part of the glass (the middle abdomen), and finally the top of the glass (chest). Likewise, exhaling can be compared to drinking the glass of water. First we drink the water in the top (chest), and second, the middle part of the glass (the middle abdomen), and last the water in the bottom (lower abdomen).

      For most people, due to society pressures, breathing is done exactly opposite of how it should be. Studies show us that around 40% of people breathe incorrectly. Breathing incorrectly has definite negative consequences in that you could develop future illnesses. If you can consciously breathe the right way by forcing the abdomen out during inhalation your body will soon pick up this rhythm.

      The human brain has many functions and one of them is to follow the breath. If you are able to breathe anywhere from 1 to 4 times per minute , you will experience what is called the meditative state. Breathing is not about just holding the breath in or out, it’s about breathing long and deeply. Do this by breathing very slowly, using the full capacity of your lungs and completely exhaling.

      The best way to breath properly is to build up little by little. The lung’s capacity starts to expand, and as a consequence your mind becomes calmer, more balanced, and you will be able to concentrate more fully and make better decisions.

      The magic of breathing starts when you master exhaling. It seems that during the inhalation, the mind is calmer and one can hold the breath longer without experiencing any discomfort. During exhalation there is a natural urge to inhale immediately after exhalation. When this natural tendency calms down you will be able to reach a higher level of consciousness. : ))

        1. abynormal

          i have found exhaling my personal ah-ha moment…try exhaling slowly in groups of 4. when you finally feel pressure on your abdomen (4) you’ll be amazed at how lighter your baggage is….a real high.

          alex morfesis (post below) has it going on!
          You have to figure out on your own, by yourself, what you have to do (and mostly undo) and how you can best go about doing that. Breathing through your whole body is not in any way an expertise to attain or a skill set to perfect. It is not some far-off goal to achieve, but the possibility in the very breath you’re taking, a constant reminder simply to let go as best you can, to relax into your body, to yield to the primal impulse to breathe. From one stepping-stone of breath to the next, it leads you along a path whose only goal is to be as present as possible to the possibilities of the stepping-stone you’re on.

      1. alex morfesis

        ah grasshahpah…you must not share how ciggeez and cigars become a habit…it is not the nicotine…it is the forced slow breathing that is addictive…the calm that comes from taking control of your inner timing…from the pace stabilization that allows the mind to flow away into thoughts beyond the moment and the expansion of perception brought by the inner peace of silence and hearing the blood flow through your veins.

        1. sd

          Tuck your chin, and tilt your forehead back. Straighten your spine. Straighten your breath. Straighten your mind. – Shibuya Subhuti.

      2. micky9finger

        Not to be picky- but: the diaphragm is a muscle not a membrane. And to breath in requires the diaphragm to expand downwards creating a vacumn in the lungs and allowing the air to flow in to the lungs.
        This means the air does not ” push” the diaphragm down but the diaphram pulls the air in.
        Otherwise keep on breathing.
        And abynormal, I enjoy your comments.

    2. different clue

      Organic food takes more time and work to grow. It’s higher price will reflect those higher costs.

      If organic food is deemed to cost “too much”, then everybody who thinks so should be paid enough more money for whatever it is they do so that they can afford the higher cost (as reflected in the higher price) of organic food.

      Food for pay, not for free. The farmer is not your slave.

      And those who think the farmer “is” their slave, and “should be” their slave, don’t even deserve to have food at all. What such people deserve . . . is to run out of food, starve to death and die.

      1. low_integer

        The battle for the dominant farming paradigm is hardly a level playing field.

        “What such people deserve . . . is to run out of food, starve to death and die.”

        Do you really believe that?

        1. different clue

          When I thinnnnkkkkkk about that, I don’t really believe that. But neither does anyone deserve cheap food at the expense of people who do the unpaid work to grow it. Or to pick it.

      2. Praedor

        Most farmers are slaves. To corporations. They are CORPORATE farmers, not private, little families working 18hrs a day. They are corporate servants growing corporate crops using corporate chemicals and using corporate roboticized machinery.

        1. different clue

          Charles Walters and other writers spent decades at Acres USA and in books and papers explaining how that situation of most farmers being corporate slaves was engineered into existence. He and they also spent these decades explaining how this situation might be engineered back out of existence. He and they have written millions of words about it over the decades and a few years of hard study of Acres USA’s output of books and papers would be worth doing.

          In the meantime, those people who can afford to pay a shinola price for shinola food so that shinola farmers can make a shinola living . . . should go ahead and do so. That would keep a small number of shinola farmers standing on the land, preserving and enhancing their knowledge of shinola farming till such time as “society” is ready to restore a measure of economic balance back into power and money relations between social classes and economic sectorloads of people, at which point more people will be doing shinola-grade farming than now, and more people will be able to pay a shinola price for shinola food than now.

    3. tongorad

      For me, more walking would require: a work life that supports a life (instead of the other way around), public transportation, safe, walkable green paths. How nice that would be…

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      If there are any pensions left? Just sayin’…..mortgaged-backed securities are revealed to be nothing-backed securities. Lots of pensions invested in nothing.

  15. jsn

    A particularly good sentence from the NYT article about maybe prosecuting banksters as persons rather than Corps:
    “After the 2008 financial crisis, no top Wall Street executives went to prison, highlighting a disparity in how prosecutors treat corporate leaders and typical criminals.”

    1. Billy Bob

      It drives my brother the Last Honest Banker crazy that shareholders today pay for the crimes committed in the C-suites eight years ago.

    2. Lambert Strether

      “Leader” is another one of those words to watch out for, since it collapses a variety of social functions into a single bucket with the analytical rigor of an airport bookstore “Business” (and not industry) section. There’s also the clever antitheses not only between “corporate” and “typical criminal,” but between “leaders” and “typical criminal,” since, I ask you, how could Der a leader be a criminal?

      The word the Times is looking for here is “executive.”

      1. jsn

        The close equation of equation of “corporate leaders and typical criminals” charmed me, such economy of language!

  16. Faroukh Bulsara

    “…but the oil industry pretty much rules California politics.”

    Finally got around to watching Gasland Part II recently and it is clear that the oil industry pretty much rules all of American politics, as well as a good portion of the rest of the world. We are indeed fracked!

    Also, as Ilargi has repeatedly pointed out at TAE, the displaced peoples of MENA are not migrants but are refugees. Therefore it is a “Refugee Crisis” rather than a “Migrant Crisis”.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Uh-oh, be real careful there — you are messing with the Narrative. Just when folks start to get their heads around the notion that maybe people, PEOPLE, are walking across continents, coming to tiny little bits of perception that the reasons may have something to do with the grasping, self-indulgent, crapified lives they themselves lead to fuel the projection of all that misery onto others — people who are trying to escape from neolibneoconservative Un-intentionalism, and now you be all introducing some odd notion trying to fit lexicon and opticon…

  17. ambrit

    About the GOP sues the Administration article; the quote ““Despite its potential political ramifications, this suit remains a plain dispute over a constitutional command, of which the Judiciary has long been the ultimate interpreter.” jumped out at me. If I remember my American History correctly, the right of judicial review of legislation is not in the Constitution. I believe it was carved out by Chief Justice Marshall in the ruling on Marbury vs. Madison in 1803. Similarly, Executive Orders and Signing Statements are murky ‘powers’ at best. Just something to scare those who hark back to Halcyon Days and Founding Fathers Intentions.

  18. Peter Pan

    Rate Of U.S. ‘Food Insecurity’ Stubbornly High Huffington Post

    The gross income qualification levels changed at the beginning of the year from 200% of federal poverty level (FPL) to 130% of FPL. I’m not sure if this is a result of legislation passed at the end of 2014 or whether this was part of the original assistance plan for main street after the GFC. Also note that there is a net income qualification level that one must also meet.

    I recently participated in my mid-year recertification for SNAP benefits. I provided my income information to the “Financial Analyst” and he didn’t know how to deal with an IRA disbursement. He asked all the supervisors in the office and they were confused as well. They had call the Olympia, WA office to get an answer.

    About three hours later I received a call from the “Financial Analyst” informing me that my SNAP benefits had been approved. The reasoning was that since an IRA cannot be counted as a resource under SNAP, then any disbursement from that IRA resource could not be classified as income.

    Keep in mind that states have differing opinions on how to interpret the USDA rules, so your mileage may vary. Regardless, I’m sure that the legislature (state or federal) will figure out how to close this loophole in order to save money.

    1. craazyboy

      I thought if you have more than $3000 in a bank account, that is another disqualifier in addition to income?

      1. Peter Pan

        Bank accounts for checking & savings are counted as resources that have limits. However, my investment account with a brokerage firm (non-IRA) was never counted as a resource.

        1. abynormal

          my child support, in the rears over 45k, counts as income. (decades of sporadic payments)
          i proved thru GA CS agency that payments have not been made in 4yrs…they said, “you could receive it someday therefore it counts as income”.

          2.00 a day is a luxury for me.

          “In our time… a man whose enemies are faceless bureaucrats almost never wins. It is our equivalent to the anger of the gods in ancient times. But those gods you must understand were far more imaginative than our tiny bureaucrats. They spoke from mountaintops not from tiny airless offices. They rode clouds. They were possessed of passion. They had voices and names. Six thousand years of civilization have brought us to this.”
          Potok, Davita’s Harp

          “A totally nondenominational prayer: Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that I be forgiven for anything I may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which I may be eligible after the destruction of my body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.”
          Zelazny, Creatures of Light and Darkness

          1. abynormal

            my sister just informed me, if i have ever played the lottery, i am considered a gambler. thus, I could WIN the lottery; therefore, i will NEVER EVER qualify for ANY assistance. easy peasy…

            “Bureaucracies force us to practice nonsense. And if you rehearse nonsense, you may one day find yourself the victim of it.”
            Laurence Gonzales

            p’d myself. if we don’t laff, we’ll…

          2. bob

            That’s really f’d up.

            $100 now is worth $100 in 5 years? What about $100 *sometime*?

            Do they allow you to discount it back, if you ever do get paid? Looking into the past, there is no guess work as to the discount rate.

            Count it as a loss when/if received? Never knew that about child support. Interesting questions abound.

  19. barrisj

    As we know, the Trumpmeister has declared “political correctness” dead and buried, and to prove his point he called out Carly Fiorino’s facial features as…well, let him tell it in his own words:

    “Look at that face!” he said at a conference table with his staff as Ms. Fiorina took a question about him on television. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

    OK, just to enter into the spirit of Trump’s gibe, how would he rate this face as regards “fitness for higher office”?

    CA voters already made their choice.

    1. jrs

      psst Trump: hate to break it to ya … I mean don’t take it too hard or anything … but they marry you for your money not your rugged good looks.

  20. Skippy

    A stark example wrt what is wrong with society [market] in large…

    7-Eleven has been rocked by revelations of widespread wage fraud.

    How the senior management team will now shift gear and oversee changes opens up another can of worms.

    But the decision to bow to pressure and review the business model speaks volumes about the nature of the discussions with franchisees – and possibly the United States parent – since the scandal broke in a joint media investigation between ABC Four Corners and Fairfax Media late last month.

    Like anything, the devil will be in the detail.
    Major change: Russell Withers says 7-Eleven will fund any franchisee who wishes to establish an enterprise bargaining agreement.

    Major change: Russell Withers says 7-Eleven will fund any franchisee who wishes to establish an enterprise bargaining agreement.

    Withers has agreed to review the 57/43 per cent profit split, which delivers most stores’ profits straight to head office. Other safeguards are also in train, including developing an enterprise bargaining agreement for all interested franchisees, a franchise charter, an external audit of compliance to meet all obligations under the law and the franchise agreement.

    It will be a matter of wait and see. To put it into perspective, the current model has helped Withers and his sister build a massive empire worth an estimated $1.5 billion.

    The profits have been built on the backs of franchisees paying wages that have been described as “slave labour” and the franchisees deemed indentured slaves.
    Illustration Kerrie Leishman

    Illustration Kerrie Leishman

    As the scandal erupted, trashing the reputation of the brand, the company has come out almost on a daily basis with different concessions, hoping each one would quell the anger of the franchisees and the community.

    To date, none of the bones it has thrown to the franchisees has been enough.

    The anger of franchisees is palpable. For the first time they have banded together and have got the upper hand. The franchisees for their part are concerned that the value of the stores they have invested their life savings in has been halved. Even if they wanted to sell, it would be difficult to get their goodwill back.

    7-Eleven is now in a position where attracting new franchisees will be difficult and keeping existing ones on board essential to their business surviving.

    On Wednesday the scandal reverberated across boardrooms when Withers and his deputy, Michael Smith, stepped aside from other board positions.

    The message was simple: questionable corporate governance and poor risk management systems can have repercussions

    Skippy…. To determine the location of Corp. HQ…. clap you hands rapidly in succession….

  21. JTMcPhee

    Wage theft in various forms (have to use “paid time off” to make up the 32 hours needed to qualify for parsimonious Full Time Benefits, computer time clock that skimmied minutes off the start and end of day, etc.)? Brand self-desruct by crapifying products bearing the Brand, overpricing, under-serving by firing experienced boaters and replacing with young pups sans boating experience but desperately prepared to add “flair” to their uniforms… Common story, my own experience with West Marine Products (WMAR) over a ten- year period, where just about every idiocy of the USan business model played out…

  22. homeroid

    Ambergris. My friend an i found a piece off of Hinchinbrook Is in AK back in the early 80’s. We thought hey lets sell it. Nobody wanted it. We were told that all things fragrance were chemical and this was no longer needed. I believe it was6-8lbs. We threw it in the dump.

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