Links 9/14/15

Denver canyon remains closed because too many people are taking selfies with bears Daily Mail

A 17th-Century Woman Artist’s Butterfly Journey Hyperallergic

Fed to dominate week of central bank meetings Reuters

Kenneth Rogoff Slams One of the Most Popular Theories for What the Fed Should Do Next Bloomberg

Lesson for Fed: Higher Interest Rates Haven’t Been Sticking WSJ

In the seven years since the world’s central banks responded to the financial crisis by slashing interest rates, more than a dozen in advanced economies have subsequently tried to move rates back up. Not a single one—in the eurozone, Sweden, Israel, Canada, South Korea, Australia, Chile and beyond—has been able to sustain interest rates at the higher level it sought.

Rain Man in Trouble WSJ (“The Unraveling of Tom Hayes,” Part I). I can’t wait to find out which executives are indicted. Please, no spoilers!

Franklin Templeton sees record outflows FT

BIS Quarterly Review September 2015 – media briefing BIS and Stock sell-off reveals ‘major faultlines’ in economy, BIS says FT

Investors Lose in Today’s Markets, Says Former NYSE Head Grasso Bloomberg

Fears grow over US stock market bubble FT. Shiller weighs in.

Wild Trading Exposed Flaws in ETFs WSJ

Back to the Future…for lunch Jared Bernstein, On the Economy. “So before we conclude we’re all robot fodder, let’s see it in the productivity and investment data.”

Corbyn Victory

John McDonnell appointed shadow chancellor in Corbyn’s new frontbench  Guardian

What are the implications of Corbyn’s win for the EU debate and referendum campaign? Open Europe

How underachieving Jeremy Corbyn surprised everyone The Telegraph. Minimal trolling!

Jeremy Corbyn’s Victory and the Demise of New Labour The New Yorker

How Jeremy Corbyn Can Win Jacobin

Battleground Tracker: Sanders Surges in IA, NH; Clinton up in SC CBS

Prospect of shutdown grows The Hill

One last push to stop Medicare premium increases Reuters

Migrant Crisis

Desperation as record numbers of migrants rush into Hungary Agence France Presse

Munich Officials: We’ve Reached ‘Limit’ For Migrants NPR

Germany imposes ‘temporary’ border checks Deutsche Welle

A Refugee Crisis Made in America The American Conservative

After Creating Migration Flood Merkel Throws Up Emergency Dikes Moon of Alabama

Building Norway: a critique of Slavoj Žižek Idiot Joy Showland

Catalonia business split over independence before vote AFP

Greek election stalemate beckons as campaign enters final week Ekathimerini


Intelligence chief: Iraq and Syria may not survive as states AP

War On Syria; Not Quite According To Plan Part 1. The Islamist-American Love-Hate Quagmire; Facts And Myths Vineyard of the Saker

USAID and the Criminalization of Social Movements in Paraguay Truthout


China economy: growth target in doubt as investment and factory output stutters Telegraph

‘The manufacturing boom in Guangdong is over’: Industrial robot makers the latest to get swallowed up by China’s economic slowdown South China Morning Post

Sluggish China Output and Investment Signal More Stimulus On Way Bloomberg

Foreign Investors and China’s Naval Buildup The Diplomat

Does Soccer Have a Brain-Trauma Problem? New York Magazine

Glyphosate to be labelled a carcinogen in California Chemistry World. Glyphosate being the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.

French court confirms Monsanto liable in chemical poisoning case Reuters. “[N]eurological problems after inhaling the U.S. company’s Lasso weedkiller.”

Google Mulling Plan To Sell Self-Driving Cars, Offers Brief History Of Project Forbes

Why we should design our computer chips to self-destruct Christian Science Monitor

This 70-Year-Old Programmer Is Preserving an Ancient Coding Language on GitHub Motherboard. A life well-lived!

Range of reactions to realism about the social world Understanding Society

Federalism Form and Function in the Detroit Bankruptcy Melissa Jacoby, SSRN

Poll finds almost a third of Americans would support a military coup Guardian. A poll which, despite its name, is a private entity in Palo Alto, CA. What I can’t see, and would like to know, is who commissioned the poll, and why.

Anyone planning a coup should read this first WaPo

Antidote du jour:

links Uggie Eiffel Tower

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. low_integer

    Tony Abbott is no longer prime minister of Australia. Replaced minutes ago by Malcolm Turnbull, via a ballot for leadership within the Liberal party. Julie Bishop has also become the deputy pm, replacing Warren Truss.
    Live updates.

    1. Chris Williams

      Yes, been coming for a while.

      MT appears to be less to the right, some hope for some real progressive change… Only time will tell.

      He is a very intelligent man and has shown empathy, rare for most politicians.

      Good riddance to Abbott and Hockey. Waste of rations both of them

      1. low_integer

        MT has a few skeletons in his closet, the most recent being the sabotage of Labor’s FTTP NBN plan, which considering his widely touted technical knowledge is pretty unforgivable. I would, however, agree that he is orders of magnitude better than TA.

        1. Chris Williams

          Yes, Australia’s record on internet speed is not good and Turnbull’s record on this is not the only skeleton. His motives to get into Parliament were never about money or entitlement. It was always his goal to get into the PM position where he could fulfill his destiny and lead the country, and particularly the economy his way.

          Been waiting up for the speeches, but it now seems this will happen tomorrow morning.

          btw, I got fibre all the way to the house. The tech said we were one of the last places to get it.

          Helps when a sitting Federal Minister lives one hundred metres away.

          1. low_integer

            Yep. My favourite is the Australian Rain Corporation fiasco, and their presentations in Russian to the CSIRO. Turnbull press conference on right now on ABC News 24.

            1. Skippy

              Best part is Tony won’t get the PM pension, missed it by 4 days [had to served a min 2 years].

              Skippy…. there is always the dole, because I can’t see anyone paying him as a key note speaker, and the book will undoubtedly come with crayons.

              1. low_integer

                It’s a good day to be alive. I’m very happy to hear that he didn’t get that pension, he did nothing but lie and create misery at home and embarrass Australia when on the international stage. Quite simply he does not deserve it.

                I think it’s time for me to sign off for the night, had a few beers while watching all this unfold and plan on having a few more to celebrate. Cheers all!

        2. Norm de plume

          Not difficult to be better than Abbott, but for a lot of people he will be better than Shorten, the hollow man leading the ALP, who must have prayed this wouldn’t happen.

          Turnbull has quite a resume:

          Richard Seymour at Lenins Tomb said the other day that Corbyn was the first Socialist Labour leader since George Lansbury in the 30s. He is Turnbulls great-uncle.

          We have no-one here that goes close to either Corbyn or Sanders as a real, crusading progressive. And any that do appear wont have the easy target Abbott provided.

      1. low_integer

        In Abbott’s own words:
        “Nope, nope, nope, nope.”
        I think 4 nopes was his record. A veritable wordsmith.

        Btw, after TA’s shirtfronting posturing, Sergey Lavrov remarked (whilst in Australia, in the lead up to the Brisbane G20 summit I think) that Putin is a black belt in judo, and would be not be worried if Abbott wanted to have a go. I’m not a betting man, but I know who I’d put my money on.

        1. OIFVet

          Perhaps he was a fan of the concept “less is more?” In that vein, Bishop’s trailblazing in the world of emoji interviews portends some continuity, doesn’t it? Or am I missing something from my perch in the States?

          1. low_integer

            No, I think you’ve got it pretty well worked out. Not a total transformation of the Australian political landscape, but most will be very happy to see Abbott go. He was the worst.

  2. financial matters

    Tweet from Umair Haque, author of ‘How to Dream: A Guide to An Extraordinary Life’

    — Shorter pundits: we’ll give the Tories a free pass on crazy policies causing stagnation forever. Corbyn, on the other hand, must be stopped. —

  3. craazyboy

    “Google Mulling Plan To Sell Self-Driving Cars, Offers Brief History Of Project Forbes”

    Well, cruise control counts…

    *NOTE: Steven Shladover, California PATH Program Manager, spelled out the five levels of autonomous driving.

    Level 1: e.g., adaptive cruise control

    Level 2: e.g., combine adaptive cruise control with automatic lane keeping

    Level 3: driver can temporarily stop paying attention to the driving and, for example, text or read

    Level 4: driver can disengage for a more extensive period of time, maybe even go to sleep, but still restricted in their operating domains, only operate on limited access freeway

    Level 5: can replace drivers completely. Can drive anywhere people can drive under the full range of conditions. “Many, many decades in the future,” according to Shladover.


    They neglected to mention Level 4.5 : Driver can listen to NPR on the car radio. hahaha.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think there is more money (more socially useful) in developing self-folding origami cars, in light of the world’s first $1 million parking spot that will come pretty soon.

      BTW, that should be enough for the Fed to raise rates.

      1. craazyboy

        If you’re a Precious Silicon Valley Smart Person, sometimes they pay you to work on BS.

        Personal parking spots are not a component of the PCE or CPI. This is not inflation.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What I like about a parking space is that it is its emptiness that is being sold.

          No improvement on it.

          It’s like the Zen thing about the emptiness of a cup that holds water.

          For that insight alone, I suppose it’s worth $1 million to someone.

          1. craazyboy

            Yes, that has a certain sense of value to it. Perhaps they should sell donut holes to entry level New Yawkers. You can save up and hopefully someday have enough donut holes to trade for a parking spot?

  4. Norm de plume

    Thank God that’s over. I couldnt have taken much more of Abbott’s pious cadences and knowing winks, the rancid mix of spiv and saint. He laid it on with a trowel, as if we were all 5 years old.

    He seemed, before he took power, as if he might actually be a clever fella, playing the loyal but limited dork to perfection under Howard then in opposition. Turns out he really was a dill all along.

    If you can measure a man by his friends then his roll call of supporters will depress any future biographers. Hockey, Andrews, Bernardi, Cormann, Morrison, Pyne, Dutton… What a captain. What a crew.

    1. JEHR

      Do not forget that Harper is Abbot’s friend also–like two peas in a pod and October 19 will tell the tale.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Present polls essentially show a 3-way tie. If the Liberals and NDP could form a coalition…

        This kind of election is the fundamental justification for Instant Runoff aka Ranked Choice Voting.

  5. craazyboy

    “The manufacturing boom in Guangdong is over’: Industrial robot makers the latest to get swallowed up by China’s economic slowdown”

    hahaha. China lays off robots. Robots engage in wage price war – put parents out of biz. Layoff a robot – but amortized capital cost stays. Chinese companies pay robot unemployment to the bank.

    Whodathunk there could be problems with it.

    1. cnchal

      There are now believed to be 700 to 800, mostly concentrated in Guangdong due to its comprehensive supply chains, and two-thirds are in the red, He said.

      The government is partly to blame for exaggerating, or misreading, demand, He added.

      But many companies rely on government subsidies and would collapse if these were withdrawn, according to the salesman.

      Cities in the province have promised to deliver annual subsidies of between 200 million and 500 million yuan to makers of robots and to the manufacturers who install them on assembly lines.

      Yet more is needed, local operators say.

      A lot of companies here would collapse without government subsidies. Boeing, General Dynamics, Goldman Sachs, GM, the list is practically endless. They say the same thing. More is needed!

      Socialism for them, capitalism for those providing the subsidy.

      1. lord koos

        The interesting thing is that they want to subsidize robot factories at all – it seems counter intuitive – with a billion people, half of them in poverty, why would China want to throw even more of them out of work by replacing them with robots?

      2. susan the other

        Last nite on the BBC stg. about China fixing up the state-owned enterprises. Supposedly to make them more efficient because the government needs tax yuan. Probably the opposite of neoliberal efficiency bec the proceeds go to the gov, otherwise the same. Maybe even buying out foreign investors? There was a teaser PR piece a month ago about how robots have improved Chinese productivity and they don’t make mistakes like humans do. So the intersection of productivity and communism is a robot.

        1. cnchal

          In a related article is this:

          While much criticism of the Chinese economy focuses on the protected monopoly status of major state-owned enterprises, seen as suppressing competition and discouraging efficiency gains, the challenge for China’s legions of medium-sized private companies is not too little competition, but too much.

          China has a bad disease,” said Richard Gong, chief executive of the Wecan Group, speaking from his factory on the outskirts of Shanghai, where lines of robots in various states of repair stare blankly at rows of corn in the adjacent vegetable garden.

          Competition within industries is too intense, it’s irrational.”

          Wecan started manufacturing automated production lines and recently launched a lucrative sideline in refurbished foreign robot arms, which Gong resells to Chinese carmakers.

          Outside of China the robotics sector is dominated by about four major brands, but Gong estimates he faces more than 1,000 competitors in China, many of them start-ups sponsored by local governments as part of a nationwide push to automate Chinese factories.

          Good thing robots don’t eat corn.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would re-settle unemployed robots* in South China Sea islands/atolls.

      *Only Han Chinese looking robots, not Filipino or Vietnamese looking robots.

      1. ambrit

        Come on now MTLTPB, Robots are (potential) people too! Give them a break. Let us send the laid off robots to Tibet. There they could study the 2 to the 3rd power Fold Path. Since robots have a well deserved reputation for diligence and focus of action, they will eventually become AIEBs. (Artificial Intelligence Enlightened Beings.) Imagine the world with a few dozen Mecho Dharmas wandering around!

  6. craazyboy

    “Lesson for Fed: Higher Interest Rates Haven’t Been Sticking”

    Hang on to your credit cards. The Fed may screw up and hit us with that quarter point. Jon Hilsenrath says so.

  7. Bill Smith

    “War On Syria; Not Quite According To Plan Part 1. The Islamist-American Love-Hate Quagmire; Facts And Myths”

    A lot of myths in that article…

    “As a result, America backed down about its decision to invade Syria and settled for the face-saving dealing of Syria’s surrender of it stockpile of chemical weapons.”

    Invade Syria?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Using the military to put a puppet government Damascus is invasion even if we call it a “smart war.”

      1. Andrew Watts

        Hasn’t worked out so well in Iraq or Libya. Nor will it work in Syria. If the Assad regime is overthrown in Damascus it won’t end with any western friendly government. It’ll be the Islamic State or al-Nusra. All those middle class intellectuals and western educated liberals are either in exile or cowering under the protection of Assad. The Syrian Revolution turned ugly real quick.

        I should probably point out that in Iraq the Islamic State is mostly fueled by revanchist sentiments held by the Iraqi Sunni in the wake of the Iraqi Civil War. While in places like Syria and Libya they are being led by a revolutionary class. In Libya it’s the former Gaddafi loyalists and foreigners who comprise this class while in Syria it’s a combination of local Sunni and foreign jihadis.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Whatever “myths” there are in that article, this is not one of them:

      “One of the problems of American foreign policy makers however is that they never learn from previous mistakes. And whilst they try to give the impression that they are the masters of information-intelligence, evidence shows that they have little literal intelligence, ie human-intelligence.”

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        But, If you take the cynical view (as I do) and assume that the US starts wars to keep the MIC flush with cash, then they have indeed “learned from” previous successes (Iraq war, Afgan war, et al). The emergence of ISIS after destabilizing Iraq, was just a serendipitous result.

          1. Llewelyn Moss

            Yup, West Bank settlements is why I have zero sympathy for Israel. Poke a stick in a hornet’s nest and guess what happens next.

            1. hunkerdown

              The egoistic colonists dredge up a 3000-year-old woe-is-me narrative dripping with dubious entitlement and false witness against their neighbors, and declare planned extinction for hornets? That’s how it usually goes.

        1. Oregoncharles

          @ L.M.: If indeed it was “serendipitous,” ie, accidental. It’s suspiciously convenient for the interventionists, and literally began in a US prison in Iraq. It might be blowback, that is a monster that escaped control; but it might also be intentional.

    3. GlennF

      According to the, in Julian Assange’s new book he states that there are 1,400 US military installations around the world:

      Since the USA is the main cause of the migrant crisis, why not open these installations to the desperate families fleeing our bombing campaigns? They could then be processed in an orderly fashion for resettlement around the globe. There must be hundreds of facilities in and around the EU and Middle East. Just a thought.

      1. sd

        At one point, there were 800 military installations ranging from bases to outposts in Iraq alone. 1,400 may in fact be too low of a number.

  8. Brindle

    re: A Refugee Crisis Made In America

    Destroying nation-states and creating failed ones is what the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy has done around the globe, but mostly in the M.E. American Exceptionalism is bad news for humans and other living things.

    —“Significantly, the countries that have generated most of the refugees are all places where the United States has invaded, overthrown governments, supported insurgencies, or intervened in a civil war”.—

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One can create refugees non-violently, that is, by, for example, financial means.

      Something as simple of printing money here, and rush it in and out of a vulnerable country, can do the job of creating refugees.

      We have to be careful to say we want to print money here to stimulate our economy…almost surgically careful, to sterilize the operation, by, for example, specifying the new money is to be exclusively for non-financial use, and only for domestic labor and materials.

      That is, removing its global reserve currency status temporarily.

    2. DJG

      What’s interesting / arresting about Giraldi’s article in the American Conservative is that it would have fit just as well in the headlines at Jacobin. So we are in a moral crisis due to abdication of responsibilities by neo-cons and neo-libs–who I’d define as the Republicans sowing resentments and the Democrats reforming their party into looting and irrelevancy–and much of the liberal chattering class, which mainly wants to be quoted. Which is likely why Lambert posted the article.

      1. Jagger

        What’s interesting / arresting about Giraldi’s article in the American Conservative is that it would have fit just as well in the headlines at Jacobin.

        Comments as well. Sounds just like here. Rigth and left finally seeing some reality. Libertarians have been anti-war for a long time but their absolute worship of the free market and the invisible hand is very disturbing.

      2. James Levy

        The liberal chattering class mostly doesn’t want to chatter about foreign policy because they equate any principled stand on such matters as sounding “wimpy” and “not serious.” Serious people understand that if you want to enforce your will, you are going to have to kill a whole load of people, even people who mean you no harm. America’s chattering liberals don’t like to dwell on it but they are sold on the idea of using force to enforce our ideas about economic, social, and political norms on the benighted peoples of the world is a good idea. So if you point out the vast number of deaths over in Afghanistan since we barged into the place 14 years ago, they will tell you about how awful it was for women under the Taliban and how we’ve got to “stop that.” When you point out that most Afghan women are in exactly the same place they were socially today as they were then, or ask how many Afghan women and children they want to kill and maim in order to “liberate” them, they yell at you for “not caring” or try to change the subject or explain that that is why we have to “stay the course.” The one thing you can’t do with these people is convince them that their initial premise, that it’s America’s job to use force to change other societies to our liking, is a lousy idea. That is why chattering neocons and chattering liberals all wind up saying the same things in the end, just using different rhetoric.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think we see something similar this election cycle – a candidate looks good on the domestic front, and people are excited, while some ask about his foreign policy positions and how they relate to the Military Industrial Complex.

        2. jrs

          Either they really believe it OR of course they recognize their economic privilege flows from such. But if my privilege as a middle class nobody always in danger of falling out of said middle class, and hardly one of the infinitely privileged chattering classes, flows from not just the exploitation but the outright slaughter (well we are talking about wars right?) of the rest of the world then … it is wrong. It is wrong and I have not given up all my possessions and gone into the dessert but nonetheless. End the wars.

    3. jrs

      The Syrian situation seems more complex than that (though the U.S. is hardly doing peacemaking there). Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. I will give you.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Syria is less complex than Libya. The source of the conflict in Syria was the defections of organized Sunni regime forces who expected to receive Western air power, who were supplemented by for errors Baathists formerly on our payroll during the Surge and the more troublesome Islamic fundamentalists well bussed in with plenty of new weapons, and a similar promise to be recognized as the new rulers of Syria similar to the elite of Benghazi expecting to rule Libya. Western leaders thought knocking over another government would make them look tough. Unlike Libya, smarter military brass knew Syrian air defense represented a threat to our ships and planes and wanted no part, hence the leaking of stories about what a dunce Kerry was. There won’t be any parades for generals who oversee the decline of U.S. air supremacy.

        Unlike Libya where France and Italy had refugee concerns from a potential assault on Benghazi, the Western politicos tried to act in Syria to add another notch to its gun. Much like Iraq, attacking Syria was motivated by the perception we could.

    4. gordon

      Giraldi says his “road to Damascus” moment came in 2008. Maybe he was too young to remember the millions of Vietnamese dead, displaced or fled overseas as a result of the US destroying Vietnam in order to save it.

  9. Jef

    Interesting thought experiment that I would like to see fleshed out by some expert in the middle east;

    What would the Middle East look like today if the West and Israel never went into Iraq or any of the hand full of other “bombing back to the stone age” exercises performed?

    Less radicalization.
    Millions not killed.
    And most importantly tens of millions more barrels of oil a day consumed. Oops! thats goes on the negative side of the ledger I guess.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Or less oil. Those tanks and hummers don’t run on patriotic sentiment. Even when not in use, the Sandy environment meant many vehicles had to be run just for maintenance unnecessary in their home bases.

      If we play ifs and only Iraq because it’s a huge deal:

      -Gaddafi would lose his seat of power due to his age. His sons would lose control due to tribal infighting over position and not embracing a position as heirs to the throne. (Father and son dynasties are quite rare). France and Italy would have a refugee crisis. Less weapons a ND motivated fighters would have entered Libya and inevitably a non-Gaddafi family member would have been elected with the backing of the regular forces. There would be more pitched battles a day less night time terror than the post Gaddafi Libya has seen. Libya would not have blown it’s money on hotels, spas, and malls. However without radicalization a day fervor of revolution diplomacy wins.
      -Iraq. Hussein would have reached a point where there would be jockeying. His sons would be ousted and I think a federal structure with Shiite generals could have been a reality, and Iraq could have emerged as our top friend in the region again much like Hussein wanted to be I the first place,
      -Syria would have not been forced to deal with the millions of Iraqi settlers leaving their economy in a stronger position and Assad wouldn’t have rushed to embrace neoliberal economic reforms which hastened dissatisfaction with the regime.
      -Turkey would still be kept at arms length by the EU, but stronger regimes in Iraq and Syria would have blunted their ambitions for a larger sphere of influence.
      -Egypt still would have had issues having been bit by high food prices, but without an overstretched U.S., I think the promises of the old regime turn into enough action to soothe crowds who embrace the promise and possibly a promise for a seemingly more open elections.
      -Lebanon still has issues because of food prices, the economy, and a power sharing deal which doesn’t allow a government to react to a crisis. Watch out for peacekeepers. “We can’t turn a blind eye rhetoric” is all the rage with no worries about boots on the ground.
      -Israel is still an apartheid mess, but it’s government and economy are even more precarious as the U.S. doesn’t rely on Israel for logistical or propaganda support in Iraq.
      -Sanctions come and go in Iran, but Moscow and Beijing are less likely to be concerned having not seen Iraq and Libya. There is likely a few 1998 style bombing campaigns with cruise missiles. High fives all around. Iran doesn’t react because the U.S. military isn’t a shell and still a conquering hero from 1991.
      -the Arabian peninsula is fairly similar with more boots on the ground. Yemen has the potential to be a real quagmire and is likely the topic of presidential debates in the U.S.
      -Saudi Arabia prefers a more noble and diplomatic foreign policy realizing the U.S. would that destroy it’s enemies outright. My guess is they invest in automation and drive out foreign workers with stable regimes in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. They don’t want anyone to get ideas. I don’t think they reach a revolution point with their population spending more money domestically instead of international plots.
      -the Kurds are quit or at most revert to their 70’s ways without a semi-independent Kurdistan in Northern Iraq to work around.
      -Putin stays retired when his second term is up. Without rampant U.S. aggression the drive to return and public support for his return isn’t there. Instead he hops around the world trying to be what Tony Blair pretends Blair is.
      -U.S. arm merchants maintains high levels of dominance without questions being raised about efficiency and counter weapons being developed. Since the dominance isn’t necessary, NATO isn’t expanded. They buy our weapons anyway.
      -the SCO and BRIICS are less united since the U.S. is not the great Satan. Without countries looking to China for leadership and economic integration, there is no TPP.
      -Since the U.S. isn’t as hideous, Iran makes more democratic reforms. Thomas Paine isn’t writing about them, but they are doing better.

      Ifs are fun.

  10. Llewelyn Moss

    re: Prospect of shutdown grows

    Oh Joy, is it that time of year already… the time when Obama ‘caves-in’ and cedes control of yet another large piece of the Govt to Wall St. Because, in 3.2.1… “They made me do it or they’d shut it down”.

    Seems like only yesterday that Obama knifed us in the back with the Cromnibus spending bill (last year’s shutdown betrayal).

  11. fresno dan

    There are a few points worth making here. First, while Samuelson is right that redistribution is a one-time story over a long period of time it can be a big story. If the typical worker’s compensation had kept pace with productivity growth, their pay would be more than 40 percent higher today. For the median worker with an hourly wage around $18 and and hourly compensation around $22 an hour, this would translate into more than $16,000 a year in addition compensation for a full-time full-year worker. This would be real money for most people.

    Furthermore, if compensation were to keep pace with even a slow rate of productivity growth going forward, it would mean that workers would see rising living standards on an ongoing basis. In this respect, much of the political elite in the United States has argued that even modest increases in the payroll tax (e.g. 0.1 percentage point annually) would be devastating and not worth considering. If the idea of raising the payroll tax by 0.1 percentage point annually is a huge deal, the prospect of getting ten times as much by addressing inequality must an incredibly huge deal. So by the logic of our elite, we should think that addressing inequality has enormous implications for living standards, even if we can’t do anything to boost productivity growth.

    Growth is a chimera – there has been growth, only most people get no benefit. There really is no evidence, indeed all the evidence goes the other way, that the problem is distribution. If one won’t even consider such a possibility – well, the wealthy have succeeded than. As the wealthy sit at the banquet table scarfing down more, and more, and more, the argument is if only the turducken was a Roti sans pareil*, there might be some leftovers for the hungry….

    *The Almanach des gourmands, published in 1807, has a recipe, or at least a description, of a Roti sans pareil, an insane combination of seventeen birds, all stuffed one inside the other.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like you say, the problem is distribution (of wealth in the private sector and of domestic vs. military spending in the public sector).

      GDP growth – secondary

      Total government spending growth – secondary.

    2. Goyo Marquez

      It’s only a one time thing if you assume none of it is invested in things which will produce greater returns over time, e.g. education.

  12. jgordon

    Lest you doubt the authenticity of the poll that says that 1/3 of Americans would support a military coup–just look at how much support in the primaries that Donald Trump and Deez Nuts are getting. People are seriously disgusted with the political class. I’m certain that the first reasonably persuasive demagogue who comes along will give America and its political class exactly what it deserves. Maybe it’ll even be Trump!

    1. Andrew Watts

      Uhh, I’d just like to remind everybody the last time this country had anything resembling a quasi-military coup was when Haig was appointed White House Chief of Staff during Watergate. Yes, THAT Alexander Haig.

      The military officers who would make good political leaders are smart and too principled to launch a coup against the civilian government. I suspect we’d see mass resignations of the officer corps before the government did something incredibly stupid or any attempted coup. This action would undoubtedly slap some sense into the political class.

      Whether that would change anything is a different matter entirely.

    2. gordon

      The US is already so militarised that the real question is: “If there was a military coup in the US, would anybody notice?”

    3. ambrit

      No one here seems to want to consider the possibility that an American coup by the Army junior officer corps could very well be from the Left. Think, Nasser in Egypt, the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire, and more to come.

      1. Rhondda

        Are there Leftists in the US military? Serious question. I would tend to think hardly at all. Like maybe 23 total.

  13. fresno dan

    “Any narrative of how we got to this point has to start with the so-called Holder Doctrine, a June 1999 memorandum written by the then–deputy attorney general warning of the dangers of prosecuting big banks—a variant of the “too big to fail” argument that has since become so familiar. Holder’s memo asserted that “collateral consequences” from prosecutions—including corporate instability or collapse—should be taken into account when deciding whether to prosecute a big financial institution. That sentiment was echoed as late as 2012 by Lanny Breuer, then the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, who said in a speech at the New York City Bar Association that he felt it was his duty to consider the health of the company, the industry, and the markets in deciding whether or not to file charges.”

    The richer someone is the more important they are to the “economy”.(which is defined as the top 0.01%)…Funny how the more we protect the rich, the poorer the rest of us get…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Criticism of Holder seems to be going around lately. Are Obama and White House staff trying to put the blame on Holder? Despite Holder’s closeness to the President, Obama only has one mention in the seventh paragraph mentioning his call to action from 2009.

      Any narrative to how we got to this point should include questions about why Holder of the Holder memorandum, Waco, Ruby Ridge, his work on behalf of big agriculture in South America, and the Elian Gonzalez swat team has any business working in any level of government.

        1. sd

          John Mitchell knew enough to break the law, Eric Holder just avoided having anything to do with it. So on that basis, I’d have to say Holder is the worse of the two.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it also his duty to consider the health of the church, the spirituality industry, and the associated markets when it comes to abusive priests (similarly, abusive teachers)?

  14. robert lowrey

    “Google Mulling Plan To Sell Self-Driving Cars”. What else is new? ALL cars are self-driving. An automobile is not a horse, it has an engine, and therefore is in no need of any coercion from its passengers to impel it forward. We direct or pilot our vehicles, we don’t actually ‘drive’ them. What google is talking about is an autopiloted automobile.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Bloomberg terminals — so 20th century:

    The financial industry is in the middle of an aggressive run of cost-cutting. A Bloomberg contract, which can be upward of $100 million at larger institutions, is a tempting target to whittle down.

    Bloomberg’s news offerings — including BusinessWeek and the company’s website — generate less than 4 percent of the company’s revenue and cost more than they earn, according to Burton-Taylor Consulting. The terminals generate 75 percent of Bloomberg’s revenue.

    At Goldman, more than half of the people who have Bloomberg terminals use them primarily for chat and other simple functions.

    “Everybody that I talk to says, ‘Hey, I’ve got to try this [new service] because I don’t like paying $25,000 for a Bloomberg,’ ” said David Bullock, who owns Arque Advisors.

    Fedguvs must be burning up the wires on their Bloomberg chats this week. Or maybe they have their own private server? Try

  16. OIFVet

    Does Soccer Have a Brain-Trauma Problem? Yes, it does. Heaving played the beautiful game since I can remember myself, heading the ball would at times leave me quite woozy, particularly a wet football. Then there are the head-to-head collisions going up for the ball, and the occasional elbow or boot to the head. Plus following the twitter accounts of some professional footballers can leave one with the impression that they are definitely brain impaired.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s the brain rattling around in the skull, not the hit*, that’s the problem. We are going to have a huge problem from soldiers who were in IED incidents but had no issues because of modern helmets. The helmets don’t stop the brain from rattling.

      *Obviously, the hit is the problem, but the stop and go motion from uncontrolled leaping is part of the issue.

    2. optimader

      Does Soccer Have a Brain-Trauma Problem?

      I have heard at least as bad as American football w/ regard to head butting balls and incidental collisions.
      F=MA no matter what the sport.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As a victim, I can also add reading (too much) can be unhealthy for the eyes (perhaps even eye trauma).

  17. fosforos

    “Moon of Alabama” claims that most of the Refugees streaming into Europe are from “safe countries.” What safe countries? Syria? Turkey? Iraq? Afghanistan? Lebanon?anywhere in subsaharan Africa? This is clearly a Stalinist liar and you have no business reprinting anything from him.

  18. curlydan

    Medical researchers and/or philanthropists could do soccer/football/futbol players worldwide a favor and start tracking down former players to sign them up for CTE examinations upon death. When I play with my sons and that ball hits my head, it almost invariably hurts. I don’t see how it can be anything but a negative for long-term health.

    One decent proposal I saw on a linked article was to only allow headers in the penalty box. Balls coming off of goalies’ punts look like little missiles coming down onto players’ heads.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Only a little; that’s the problem American football is up against. And a helmet encourages taking harder hits. It’s the sudden stop that does the damage, not the visible bruise.

      2. curlydan

        Hah! My completely unscientific ranking of the intelligence of certain athletes goes like this:
        Boxers (lowest)
        Soccer players (a bit above boxers)
        Football players (strangely, they seem smarter than soccer players)
        Basketball (slightly above baseball…maybe basketball players don’t need to talk and ramble needlessly as much as baseball players)

  19. Oregoncharles

    “Denver canyon remains closed because too many people are taking selfies with bears”
    If you’re taking a selfie with a bear, you have your back to the freaking bear. This is a Darwin award waiting to happen.

  20. ekstase

    So butterflies were once thought to be demonic, and now people take selfies with bears. Are we evolving at all?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      All I can say is that, 10,000 years ago (more or less), all the Einkorn wheat you could harvest was organic and free of chemicals (more or less).

      “That’s progress.”

        1. craazyboy

          The Sumerians had a Beer Goddess too. Complete with a poem or chant to the beer goddess – which was a recipe to make beer!

          Kinda like when we sing “Hi Ho, Hi Ho. It’s off to work we go….

          Clearly, things have gone to hell.

    2. abynormal

      best/saddest comment of the day

      “What a culture we live in, we are swimming in an ocean of information, and drowning in ignorance.”

  21. Oregoncharles

    “The Migrant Crisis”: Keeps reminding me of a science fiction book, “Downbelow Station,” by C. J. Cherryh, which is driven by a refugee crisis. From the Wikipedia summary: ” escorting a ragtag fleet fleeing from Russell’s and Mariner Stations to Pell. Similar convoys arrive from other stations destroyed or lost to Union, leading to an enormous crisis. The flood of unexpected refugees strains station resources.” Cherryh is a ferocious writer; the book is extremely vivid. Still lingers in my mind, 30 years later.

    The moral dilemma is that a sudden (is there a good word for this, aside from “flood”?) arrival of large numbers of desperate, and destitute, people is, indeed, a severe strain for the society they enter. It’s hugely expensive, and in the present case, there are very serious cultural conflicts – ones that are already plaguing Europe. It’s a dilemma because there are also humanitarian imperatives. This is the reason refugees so often wind up in supervised camps that are generally pretty miserable.

    Of course, the only good solution is not to create the refugees in the first place. Unfortunately, that isn’t an imperative for policy makers – and now it’s a little late. If only we could make refugees out of the guilty policy makers…

    1. Rhondda

      Respect for C. J. Cherryh! Interesting to note that Downbelow Station was originally named The Company War. I found it to be a disturbing read.

  22. Oregoncharles

    “Why we should design our computer chips to self-destruct”
    Well, there’s a solution to the “legacy systems” problem – which seems to me far more serious than it sounds. What I’m seeing described here, originally in reference to introducing, say, the drachma, but it has much wider implications (Y2K, anyone?), is a process of steadily accumulating system rigidity. Rigid = brittle. Things change; rigid systems break. And of course, they lock in mistakes.

  23. OIFVet

    Military coup? Hell, there seems to be a State Department coup in progress. Apparently, Obama was unaware that the indefatigable Miss Nuland “asked” the Bulgarian figurehead foreign minister to ban Russian overflights bound for Syria, “…and when he found out, he was upset with the department for not having a more complete and vetted process to respond to the crisis…” So just who is in charge of US foreign policy, and the country as a whole??? Being a dual US-BG citizen this is beyond embarrassing.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Usually I’d just respond that this is normal and just how the US government operates. Considering this is regarding the situation in Syria we gotta up it a notch or two.


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