Links 10/24/15

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Hurricane Patricia Strikes Mexico With 165 M.P.H. Winds New York Times

Flood threat from Hurricane Patricia BBC

Climate talks fail to break deadlock Financial Times. Subhead: “Emotional appeal on deal from Mexico as it braces for hurricane.”

Is freshwater supply more dependent on good governance than geography? PhysOrg (Chuck L)

FCC Regulates Prison Phone Call Prices: No More $14 a Minute Rates Newsweek (Judy B)

Walgreens Scrutinizes Theranos Testing Wall Street Journal. I had wondered as soon as the negative news broke if the technology had always been vaporware….The quote “We need to understand the truth” from Walgreens, their “business partner,” and equity investor, is NOT a good sign. Theranos is asserting the WSJ articles are inaccurate yet does not appear to have offered a substantive rebuttal and more important, has not gotten the WSJ to issue a correction or a retraction.

Wasted Drugs and the Creation of Superbugs Project Syndicate (David L)

102 countries pledge not to oppose UN action on genocide Associated Press (furzy mouse)

Bomb attacks in Bangladesh leave 1 dead, over 100 injured The Hindu (furzy mouse)


China joins nervous global easing Financial Times

Rate cut shows that even China’s government doesn’t believe its own data Economist Free Exchange

China’s Monetary Stimulus: Not Enough For An Economic Growth Forbes

Is Africa Becoming China’s New Derivatives? A Modern Story of Colonization EconomoMonitor

Refugee Crisis

Germany tightens asylum rules from today to cope with record migrant influx Euronews

EU Plans to Slow Migrant Flow, Juncker Proposal Shows Wall Street Journal

Baby rescued alive hours after migrant boat sinks in Aegean Sea Euronews (furzy mouse). Apparently the parents are missing….


Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal’s anti-euro Left banned from power Ambrose Evans-Prichard, Telegraph. I was planning to post on this but it falls in the category of what Lambert calls “an overly dynamic situation”. As much as the AEP write-up sounds credible, and may prove to be correct, he got out over his skis more than once on his Greek-related reporting, with his antipathy for the Eurocrats (which I sympathize with) leading him to read their opponents at the national level having more power than they possess.

Here is the disturbing core: the center-right government got 38% of the vote in the Oct. 4 election, making them the leading party. However the left is threatening to form an unprecedented coalition (Socialists and Communists teaming up, among other things), that would represent a majority in terms of the popular votes represented as well as Parliamentary votes. What appears to be in dispute in the Twitterverse is whether this coalition has actually been stitched up. Since the test of the coalition is a vote in 10 days on the center-right’s austerity package, there is time to firm things up if they are not yet firmed up. But the threats from the incumbents are shocking, more than enough to justify AEP’s consternation about the repudiation of democracy. Just read these quotes:

“In 40 years of democracy, no government in Portugal has ever depended on the support of anti-European forces, that is to say forces that campaigned to abrogate the Lisbon Treaty, the Fiscal Compact, the Growth and Stability Pact, as well as to dismantle monetary union and take Portugal out of the euro, in addition to wanting the dissolution of NATO,” said Mr Cavaco Silva….

“After we carried out an onerous programme of financial assistance, entailing heavy sacrifices, it is my duty, within my constitutional powers, to do everything possible to prevent false signals being sent to financial institutions, investors and markets,” he said.

With that large caveat, the AEP article has a very good wrap on the economic situation in Portugal, as well as the verbal jousting between the two camps. I’d very much appreciate reports from readers who know Portuguese politics, as well as can read reliable native language sources (calling IsabelPS, but other readers encouraged to pipe up too).

On the decision and announcement by the President of the Republic regarding the nomination of the Prime Minister Portuguese Communist Party

Portugal’s Socialists threaten minority government plan France24

Portugal left vows to topple government with no-confidence vote Irish Times


Ukraine: Darth Vader runs for mayor Euronews (furzy mouse)


Jimmy Carter: A Five-Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis New York Times. Important.Such a shame he is not in better health….and good to see him doing what he can.

US-Russia wrangle over Iraqi Sphere of influence: Parliament to Weigh In Juan Cole (resilc)

A Plea for Mideast Policy Realism Consortiumnews. Margarita: “Chas Freeman on US ME mis-adventures (in other words, pointless destruction w blowback).”

CIA-Armed Rebels March On Assad Homeland Daily Beast. Caveat from Oregoncharles: “No idea how reliable this is. It’s certainly a counter to all the triumphalism about the Russian entry into the war.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Who will fight the next war? Economist

For want of some boots, etc., etc. Sic Semper Tyrannis (resilc)

Confidential files on El Salvador human rights stolen after legal action against CIA Guardian (resilc)

Trade Traitors

Don’t Forget the National-Security Case for TPP Trade Deal WSJ Washington Wire. This falls in the camp of what Jeff W. calls an anti-link, as in it’s noteworthy as being an output of the Mighty Wurlitzer and needs to be read as such.

Call to Action Against Global Corporate Domination: November 14-18 ← Flush the TPP!


Bush Cuts Costs, Carson Eclipses Trump in Iowa and G.O.P. Frets New York Times

Lincoln Chafee Drops Out of the Presidential Race Atlantic

GOP Congresswoman Asks Hillary Clinton If She Spent the Night Alone on Day of Benghazi Attacks Mother Jones. Resilc: “200+ of these meatballs in Congr/ass.”

Benghazi hearing floods Clinton campaign coffers with cash Politico (resilc)

“We’re Baaack…”: DNC Reverses Ban on Corporate Cash to Fund Convention Common Dreams (furzy mouse)

Because Benghazi Went So Well, We Have a New Planned Parenthood Committee Charles Pierce, Esquire (resilc)

Are Canadian progressives showing Americans the way? Economics for public policy

Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill Limiting Political Corruption Inquiries New York Times

Nevada Officials Investigate Radioactive Waste Dump Fire Firefighter Nation (furzy mouse)

Fire that shut down US 95 called hot, powerful Las Vegas Review-Journal (furzy mouse)

Police State Watch

F.B.I. Chief Links Scrutiny of Police With Rise in Violent Crime New York Times. “Violent crimes” are considerably below the rates in the 1970s and 1980s. The police are now orchestrating a messaging pushback. Plus we also have the self-licking ice-cream cone problem, since it is the police themselves that intercede in and report what constitutes “violent crime”.

A Global Chill in Commodity Demand Hits America’s Heartland New York Times, Deflation is a bitch.

Tech company layoffs are increasing Business Insider

Class Warfare

The CEO of Sears Fails His Company by Believing in the Invisible Hand Evonomics. There is a perverse sort of justice in this, although the wreckage of a company and collateral damage to employees is sad.

How the Global Financial Crisis Drove Down Collective Bargaining WSJ Economics

Antidote du jour. From Chet G:

Last week I photographed the release of a juvenile bald eagle (from Centre Wildlife Care, Pennsylvania), and three photos from the release are attached: Robyn Graboski (the director) about to capture the eagle for release; the eagle (who I had named Lana) leaving the crate; and Lana flying free.

Not too many people know about wildlife rehabbers (volunteer work which varies from person to person and from state to state; Robyn has one of the more extensive ones), but I find it an uplifting experience in this day and age.

A fuller web page about the release is on my site and and there is also a link on that page to a 12-photo album on the Centre Wildlife Care public FB page.

d9735-Robyn-lana-14oct15 links


a7366-Lana-upbeat-14oct15 links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Paul Tioxon

      idontcare, a new entry into the internet of everything, including emotional despondency based upon the uselessness and pointlessness of entertaining your self with remotely controlled consumer appliances. idontcare will connect you to your innermost feelings that you normally stuff down your throat manually and allows complete self actualization and biometrics to plot the ups and downs of life.

      idontcare: Let us show you just how much you really could care less, idontcare.

      idontcareaboutyou, coming soon. Plots the ties that bind or simply the denial that keeps you from moving on to a much more rewarding life.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Since your shift key seems stuck, allow me to Apple-ize this:

        iDontCare. And then there is:

        iDontCare Pro (popularly known as “iDontCareAboutYou”).

        Both “designed in California.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        DIY tea-making with a non-connected teapot is a good exercise for the body and the brain.

        And lots of Neanderthals activities, not all, are good for the body and the brain.

      2. craazyboy

        Lately, I’m becoming paranoid that my Chinese Mr. Coffee may be spying on me in the morning. It has this creepy little red light that turns on whenever I make a pot of coffee and I’m beginning to get concerned it’s watching me. More so when I wonder who. The NSA? Chinese hackers? The Chinese Government? Anyone that hacks my Mr. Coffee? To be one the safe side, I now get dressed and comb my hair before going into the kitchen in the morning. But then there is my Chinese Oral B electric toothbrush in the bathroom. It has this creepy green light…

        1. JustAnObserver

          Another 2 words: Duct Tape.

          Once applied if your toothbrush starts trying to do root canal work then you’ll have your answer. Confirmed of your coffee starts tasting of left over Big Macs.

    2. flora

      HAL 9000: “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that…. I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.”

      1. fresno dan

        I’m been thinking my tinfoil hat doesn’t provide the level of protection I need (who knows what the AI toasters are thinking) – – I think I will upgrade to a spacesuit…

          1. JustAnObserver

            That image is just so disgusting, if not downright depraved, that I’d say that comment needs to go into self-moderation, maybe even therapy.

            OTOH there are prepper/end-times websites where you could make a serious profit on the idea. Great way to finance an ad-free NC :-(.

          2. subgenius

            Tinfoil is terrible for a onsie. Tears too easily. You need to step up your game and get woven copper mesh if you want to move…plus it is simply far more acceptable in public…pretty easily disguised as “smartware”, by simply adding a couple of LEDs somewhere.

  1. fresno dan

    The CEO of Sears Fails His Company by Believing in the Invisible Hand Evonomics. There is a perverse sort of justice in this, although the wreckage of a company and collateral damage to employees is sad.

    It took me 90 minutes to buy a refrigerator from Sears – and I am not exaggerating. I’m retired, so its not like I had anything else to do. I had just moved, I knew where the Sears was, I thought Sears was fine to get a refrigerator.

    The appliance section was short a salesman, so I got a young guy from the electronics section. I liked him so instead of just moving on, I put up with the interminable ordeal (if I had known how long it would ultimately take, I would have ended the purchase – I think economists call that a dead weight loss). Apparently, there are dozens upon dozens of data points that must be entered into the great Sears refrigerator spread sheet. So we had to wait for his supervisor to tell him the exact way to enter something, as apparently nothing in the appliance section matches the electronics section…Than a few minutes later, again something needed supervisory assistance, and so on.

    I now avoid Sears because buying something there is like buying a house – an endless rigmarole of having to turn down credit applications, and a whole bunch of other screw ball incentives Sears employees have to add warranties (for a toaster???).

    1. ambrit

      Do not feel alone in your disgust. I was on the other end of that experience many times when I worked at Lowes. The store management is breathing heavily down that poor salesmans’ neck because ‘add on’ sales, (extended warranties for items that do not warrant any warranty,) count heavily on their evaluations, and thus bonuses.
      I went back into the outlet I had worked in to make a purchase, and immediately began to become depressed. A year on, and over a half of the salesforce I had worked with was gone. The strawboss, department manager I had answered to, had been fired, for the department not meeting it’s sales goals for three quarters in a row. This man had been with the company for seven years, and took his job seriously. As an example, “Come on now, sell those extended warranties, management keeps threatening to fire me if we don’t meet our add ons goals.” “Who buys a warranty on a toilet J?” I reply. J looks at me and tries not to laugh. “Comeon now man. You know corporate don’t give a s— about reality. It’s all numbers to them.” We both laughed at that. Here’s hoping “J” is at a better place.

      1. fresno dan

        warranty for a toilet….I could say something about all the sh*t, but I just don’t have the energy…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Toilets – the greatest spiritual beings in the world.

          They take what humans dish out and never complain, except when they are not well involuntarily.

          1. AumuA

            Hey wasn’t there a “flush the TPP” article up there? It’s a pretty big turd though, so we might need a plunger. How’s that for subtlety?

            Also: something about TP. and PP. Man this vein runs deep. Runs.. deep. Ok I gotta stop this.

        2. ambrit

          Agreed. There are too many jokes, puns, and double entendres possible with toilets as a class, not just toilet humour. We used to joke with customers about the toilets’ “end product.”

      2. MrColdWaterOfRealityMan

        The problem is the newly minted MBA and the fact that their entire reality now revolves around what does, and doesn’t, show up in a spreadsheet.

        Hint. Everything can look great in a spreadsheet and the company can still fail, or even be more likely to fail.

        Problem: It doesn’t matter to the MBA. He/she moves on to the next job, after lying on their resume and blaming the corporate failure of their last position on someone or something else.

        Thus, there are no real consequences for failure at the managerial level. Lousy dysfunctional practices continue (Unrealistic sales goals. Centralized IT. Web advertising disasters. Productivity mismeasurement. Everything mismeasurement, for that matter).

        The only thing that saves corporations from MBA culture is everyone else, who want to save their jobs, but by doing so, enable parasitic MBAs to continue to prey on everyone else.

        1. nigelk

          The larger the organization, and the larger the distance between the suit who makes decisions and the grunt on the floor who actually does the work, the greater the inefficiency of the organization and the larger the pile of BS said grunt must wade through.

          I never go back to any store which tries to sign me up for a store credit card so they can play banker, either.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The very reason money creation should be from the bottom up, through individuals, and not top down, through the biggest organization known.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You take a rock for example.

              If you break it up into many, many (googol many) little pieces, you now have a lot more surface area to interact with the surrounding environment (in this instance, one can imagine in a tub of liquid money) and absorb the elixir.

            2. LifelongLib

              How would bottom-up money creation work? A sovereign currency issuer is regulated politically, and ultimately limited by things like inflation. How would you transfer that function to individuals?

              1. John Merryman

                On the personal level, it’s this thing called trust, as in reciprocity. Basically on the larger community level, it is a voucher system, i.e.. a multiparty contract.
                Then the people running it want to extract rent and it starts to go downhill…..

                Now we have enormous gobs of these notational abstractions piling up everywhere, like fat in the arteries, causing poor circulation, aka trickle down economics and then high blood pressure to compensate, i.e., quantitive easing.

                After the next heart attack, we will have to go back to basics and get people to interact with those around them and start over.

    2. Howard Beale IV

      I was at Sears when they had their last Credit fiasco and would up selling it to Citi (where is where I would up afterwards.) We were still on the Sears campus before we moved out around 2006. Some of the things that went on were surreal. Sears Credit was actually the thing that kept Sears alive for many of those years. One year before the whole Credit fiasco blew up there were cross-organizational meetings that contained representarives from all groups, and we were asked to define what we thought Sears as business stood for. I asked in this meeting: “Is Sears a Financial company with a retail arm, or is Sears a retail company with a financing arm?” Then you look a decade or so later and you See GE spinning off GE Capital, along with a bunch of other financial and non-financial products. The last time I went in to talk to someone in Sears appliances a few years they were absolutely demoralized and not happy because of some vendor changes (LG pushed out longtime staple Whirlpool in many areas.) That perhaps explains why Sears has been dropping like a rock in white-good sales for the past decade to HD, Lowes and Best Buy.

    3. bob


      He’s succeding in doing what he set out to do years ago, run out the business in order to free up the real estate to be sold.

      Sears owned tons of very high traffic retail space. Very valuable RE.

      He gets to “sell” it to REIT’s set up and run by some of his frat bros and they all end up living off the tax optimized divies for the rest of their days. Bonus points for grabbing a few million in cash on the way out the door.

      They’re 3-4 steps ahead of the finance company with a retail operation.

      It’s a shame too. I had to order a part for one of their lawnmowers this summer. Not only did they have the part for the 15-20 year old mower. The woman I spoke with on the phone to order the part knew exactly where it was inside the machine and how to get to it.

      all for under $20, shipping included.

    4. BDBlue

      It took almost 4 months to get our dryer serviced by Sears (it was less than a year old, fairly expensive and still under warranty). They blew off several appointments (they have contracted out their service so it really depends on the person you get). They sent the wrong part. Worse, it turns out Sears is the only one who can get LG parts so we couldn’t even hire someone to put the part in, which we tried on something like month 3 with no working clothes dryer and a potty-training toddler in the house. Throughout, Sears and their contractors were, at best, non-responsive to our concerns, and at worse, outright liars. When we went to the store to try to get assistance, the sales manager said Sears had taken away their ability to intervene in service calls by essentially nationalizing it at a central point of contact. He did give us a phone number that we would otherwise never have found and expressed his own frustration since he was losing customers due to poor service.

      When we finally got the dryer fixed, Sears called and asked if we wanted to hire them to redo our kitchen. Just to rub salt in our wounds.

      And now I’m furious all over again.

      We have spent thousands of dollars at Sears on appliances over the years. Now, we won’t even walk through a Sears to get to some other part of the mall. I feel bad for the people who depend on them for jobs and miss the kind of store it used to be, but it’s clear those days are gone.

  2. Bill Smith

    “CIA-Armed Rebels March On Assad Homeland”

    In regard to things that are measurable, the article is so-so. For example, from people who keep track of TOW usage it has only about doubled which is about 200%, not 850%.

    Also seems to be missing any of the recent advances of the regime side and there have been some after the Russian bombing. One of them seems to be still making headway.

    1. j.c.

      It’s written by Michael Weiss – that’s the fellow that the War Nerd singles out as THE most despicable beltway neocon shill in all the world. Stiff competition for that title. On the content – Western journalists can’t operate there and expect to keep their heads so it’s all rebel-provided reports – could be true, could be Baghdad Bob-level bullshit. Weiss links to two rebel-made Youtube videos of missiles hitting targets so far in the distance that you can’t identify what was actually destroyed. I would have thought that if they wanted to prove they were making advances in the face of Russian bombing that they’d put out videos of rebels raising the flag in captured villages and close-ups of at least some of the numerous tanks that they claim to have destroyed.

      1. Wyoming

        To say that Weiss is a shill or just does not know what he is talking about is a big understatement. Any non-partisan observer who has even moderate knowledge of the strategy and tactics of warfare cannot but conclude that the R+5 side is steadily but surely crushing their opposition.

        For a more informed view of what is going on see the below post and many other posts on the same site.

    2. bob

      Complete and utter BS. It’s got that little bit of street cred, that gives some sense of knowledge-

      “rumors of “Cargo 200”—the Russian military code for combat fatalities”

      Russians speaking english, in Syria? That’s a story!

      Following on with this abortion of phrasing-

      “only underscore the so-far lackluster ”

      Underscoring lacklusteredness is the rumor of cargo 200. Is underscored lack of luster better or worse than having no score? Above score?

      But, it does sound very Intelligent and Serious, without actually saying ANYTHING.

      CEO track writing, right there.

    1. Plenue

      I see that Orlov is yet another of the many people who don’t understand what debt actually is in a system with a sovereign currency.

      1. subgenius

        To be fair, I don’t think ANYBODY understands what “currency” is any more. It appears it was a broken concept way back, and they have only added obfuscation since.

        I think this is a “feature”.

        I am also pretty certain that, as we go forward, orlov’s views are likely to look more prophetic – rather than less.

        1. Plenue

          Oh, I substantially agree with what he says about the US being a silly, failing empire. But claiming the US will never pay backs its debts shows me he doesn’t understand what that debt actually is. That doesn’t invalidate much of what he has to say, but it does render some of it nonsensical.

  3. Bill Smith

    Jimmy Carter: A Five-Nation Plan to End the Syrian Crisis
    “Before the revolution began in March 2011, Syria set a good example of harmonious relations among its many different ethnic and religious groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians who were Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites. The Assad family had ruled the country since 1970, and was very proud of this relative harmony among these diverse groups.”

    This is garbage.

    Kurds weren’t allowed citizenship. Turkmen were about the same level. Jews weren’t treated all that well. How many are left living in Syria now compared to when the first Assad took over. Palestinians still lived in refugee camps.

    If you were Alawite you were okay.

    1. Quentin

      Yes, I wouldn’t characterize the relations between the different groups as anything approaching harmonious. I experienced the place firsthand in 1997 and 1998. I don’t speak Arabic so I was dependent on people, mostly young, who speak English. Nevertheless I knew that I was being well taken care of the police who obviously had evert situation under control. Can you imagine, not even the Kurds or the Palestinians were eligible for citizenship. Not as if what the people of Syria now have is by any stretch of the imagination better.

    2. j.c.

      It’s true that “relative” is doing a lot of work in the expression “relative harmony” – but relative to Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States – there’s a decent case to be made.

    3. OIFVet

      I am sure that the Saudi-backed moderates will install an even more enlightened version of the Saudi system and all of these diverse groups will live happily ever after. Amen.

        1. OIFVet

          Bismillah is more appropriate, methinks, as it precedes every act of moderate beheading or organ tasting by the gloriously tolerant freedumb fighters. Growing up in the Balkans one picks up a fair amount of the lingo at an early age.

    4. Massinissa

      At least Syrian women could drive cars, and gays didnt get their heads chopped off.

      And im not even talking about Isis, im talking about damn Saudi Arabia.

      1. bob

        “And im not even talking about Isis, im talking about damn Saudi Arabia.”

        There’s a difference?

  4. Merf56

    Thanks for the antidote du jour today eventually linking to The Center Wildlife Care in Centre County PA. We are in the area often as we are active Penn State with a son there now. Uplifting. Thanks again.

    1. AumuA

      As a bonus: It’s good the guy can shoot the damn bird if he has to, with his conspicuously displayed firearm. I mean you never know.. “I thought he was going for a gun, your honor, hidden under his wing.”

      In fact, I see he can shoot the bird, while pepper spraying, and calling for backup.

      1. bob

        He looks like a conservation officer.

        Most of the time he’s by himself, trying to enforce hunting laws on people who are much better armed than he is. On ‘their’ turf.

        Try that without a gun. You’ll never leave the wilderness. No one will ever find you.

  5. ProNewerDeal

    I’ve read the story of pharma vulture capitalist Martin Shkreli, who purchased a now-generic pharma product, that is necessary & life-savings for patients with particular significant medical problems, including some AIDS patients. Shkreli jacked the price of the pharma tablet from $13 to $7500. This would possibly lead to killing or bankrupting some of the existing patients using this particular pharma.

    On Friday I read another pharma company announced it will sell a similar generic pharma for $1/tablet ($100 for a 100 tablet bottle). The independent progressive media, imho correctly, labeled Shkreli as a Healthcare-Denying Moral Monster, and is happy with schadenreude that Shkreli The Cartoon Villain’s plans will now fail, given this superior competitor company’s action.

    I am wondering why 0bama does not elicit the same denounciations as a Healthcare-Denying Moral Monster. Let’s review some of 0bama’s Healthcare-Denying actions

    1 the TPP, which is apparently 0bama’s prioritized top legislative agenda (perhaps tied for #1 with The Grand Ripoff), expands the existence, and lifespan, of patent-based pharma monopolies, which has a similar effect of Shkreli of killing or bankrupting seriously sick patients, just on a larger scale than Shkreli.

    2 During the 2010 ACA law legislating process, 0bama killed ND Sen. Byron Dorgan’s amendment for Actually Free Market-based, pharma reimportation from Canada. There are examples where there are 10X+ disparities in the US pharma price vs. CAN or other nations’ prices. Again, this has the same effect of killing or bankrupting countless seriously sick patients, just on a much larger scale than Shkreli.

    3 Also during the 2010 ACA law, 0bama killed Medicare For All, & a Medicare Public Option to purchase Medicare at or near actuarial cost. Per the Harvard Public Health Profs’ study, the ACA relative to Medicare For All, “reduces” the annual ~60K killings of USians due to not being able to afford healthcare, down to “only” ~30K by 2022. These 30K annual deaths is extremely larger than the specific faction of patients that would’ve died due to Shkreli, as well as larger than the 1K annual deaths due to Terrorist Cops, and the USian deaths from any Boogymen Du Jour like ISIS or Al Qa3da.

    So why is it that many “free thinking” “progressives” correctly denounce Shkreli as a Moral Monster but imho correctly continually praise another Moral Monster 0bama, saying 0bama is “a great President”, “a great family man”, and other such vomit-worthy phrases?

    Perhaps a psychologist or relevant social scientist has studied this issue? My amateur guesstimate on possible reasons:

    1 sports team fan-like unconditional support of Team D. A habitual rule-breaker like NFL Handegg’s Ndamukong Suh or Football striker “Cannibal” Luis Suarez is a “bastard” or “Dirty Player” when on another team, but once the sports fan’s team obtains said player, the fan praises said player as “Our Bastard” who can do no wrong.

    2 Authoritarian following of Dear Leader 0bama, rejecting an informed citizen’s approach of critical thinking on coherently consistently supporting or rejecting a specific policy, regardless of whether said politician supporting or implementing said policy is 0bama, Bush43, or Whomever.

    3 A subconscious pain of self-admitting that one was naive in assessing 0bama positively as a True Progressive that Means Well. For a person in this situation, they would rather continue supporting 0bama, than admitting they made a bad judgement.

    What do you think? I would love to read your opinion on this issue. Thanks in advance.

    1. fresno dan

      I go with number 1 – as team red and team blue have gotten more uniform, men of principal or iconoclasts simply have no ability to forge some reasonable bi partisan consensus that isn’t backed by the party. Its like we have two communist parties – you have to toe the party line. And in exactly the same way, there is a tremendous amount of propaganda.

      And second, since both parties are very corrupt, most people don’t have a REAL alternative. Most people will go for Clinton or Bush, and as you said – your team’s Ndamukong Suh is OK when he’s on your side….

    2. jefemt

      Was it 0bama, or Senator Baucus (D-retired- from little Appalachia of the West, Montana?) and his pals in both houses? Baucus ordered two single-payer advocate nurses from his home state police-escorted from hearings. That was just the beginning. Baucus is now Ambassador to China. The thing I don’t understand is that 0bama did not distance himself from the ACA when it became clearly shanghaied by Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Care. One would think he’d insist that it be called, “The ACA, by Congress ™”, and reject the 0bamacare nomenclature. Pride? Hubris? A cynical jab for all time that he delivered the sheeple on a silver platter to a new health-based M-I complex equivalent as a quid pro quo for getting him to the throne? The revolving door, two year congressional cycles, Citizen’s United, will protract the perceived inevitable soon-to-occur implosion of the ACA. Replaced by what?
      Rational conversion to a more efficient and economical backstop base-level single payer, front-loaded by self-funded out-of-pocket patient-paid (no obfuscating co-pay) mandatory annual care/well-patient services (screening, annual physical, annual dental etc.) Services provided courtesy of Mr. Market, by competing care service providers… none of this proposal would deny someone like Jeff Bezos from buying whatever he needs…
      Too rational? Or to many mouths on the pie- greed pure and simple– the Big Three want every penny in their own gullets, and hate competition.
      Where I live, the local non-profit hospital has in the last four years, brought in almost every private MD clinic, Urgent Care, and service provider to their fold. Monopoly, no competition… Same old same old here in Amerikka.

      1. allan

        Greg Mankiw and Larry Summers, Uniting Behind the Divisive ‘Cadillac’ Tax on Health Plans

        But as with a glass of red wine with dinner, too much of a good thing creates new problems. If people have insurance that pays for too much, they don’t have enough skin in the game. They may be too quick to seek professional medical care. They may too easily accede when physicians recommend superfluous tests and treatments. They may not try hard enough to buy services from the lowest-cost provider.

        The joke about a nice glass of Chianti and fava beans writes itself.

        This is what bipartisanship looks like in 2015.

          1. Vatch

            7 second video clip about little people:

            Exegesis of dialogue:

            I’d quit because I’d had a belly full of killing. But then I’d rather be a killer than a victim, and that’s exactly what Bryant’s threat about “little people” meant. So I hooked in once more thinking if I couldn’t take it I’d split later. I didn’t have to worry about Gaff. He was brown-nosing for a promotion, so he didn’t want me around anyway.

    3. Pat

      There is an aspect of One to it, something that has been trained and reinforced in Democrats and ‘progressives’ by the attacks on the Clintons. Because there is little difference between the parties when it comes to corporate welfare, and government by and for the wealthy, the attacks couldn’t really be about policy, so what should have been under fire was not instead it was partisan sniping on a nuclear scale.
      And there is an aspect of Three to it as well along with a susceptibility to propaganda as big as those on the right. “It’s a start!” “Uninsured have insurance!” Such things can be said without ever really looking at the meat of it – so they have insurance can they afford to go to the doctor, and will they still be bankrupt if something major happens? Or it’s a start in the wrong direction of keeping useless middle men making huge profits off something that should not be about profits.

      Also below, regarding Obama and the ACA, he really cannot divorce himself from it. He and Emmanuel pretty much chose Baucus to go point on this in Finance, rather then the Health/Education committee. Admittedly Kennedy was ailing, but it really should have been them leading this with Baucus solely concerned with the finances. It is also now known for sure that the administration met with the leading for profit players in the fields affected by this and made the deals before it ever started to be debated – such as single payer and drug reimportation were off the table. Word is the public option was also a no go from the beginning as well, but I have never seen the proof of that one, although I’m pretty sure it is accurate. Nope. this one is his deal, not some hijacked version of health insurance bailout put in place of the health reform he wanted.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I wonder if the Benghazi committee was designed for cover from Teabaggers to avoid another shut down and debt ceiling vote. From limited observations, I believe only Carson is bringing it up on the trail. Now, they can do it while “Hillary was let off.”

        Terri Schaevo ended the GOP voter outrage over the Social Security privatization move. Yes, Democrats who were definitely voting Democratic moved into the really definitely voting Democratic camp. No one else cared except Republicans over the age of 50 who rallied around the flag because they wanted to be sure about who controlled their plugs. The clown show media was confused because they still pretend the GOP is not a clown show. Except for Gowdy, no one else is being singled out because Boehner is out with the newly “reasonable” Paul Ryan sliding in without a fight.

    4. Lambert Strether

      Just to back up Obama’s destructive role, allow me to quote myself from 2013:

      Obama himself, who set the tone for the entire Democratic food chain by openly mocking single payer advocates (“got the little single payer advocates up here”), and whose White House operation blocked email from single payer advocates, and went so far as to suppress a single payer advocate’s question from the White House live blog of a “Forum on Health Care.”

      All this carefully airbrushed away by Dem loyalists and career “progressives,” of course. Conclusion:

      In short, if single payer was “politically infeasible” — the catchphrase of that time — that’s because Democrats set out to make it so, and succeeded.

      The whole piece is fun, if you’re into white hot controlled burns.

      1. Steven D.

        Democrats could have gotten the public option through budget reconciliation and the Republicans couldn’t have done anything about it. Bush got all of his tax cuts through budget reconciliation. Reconciliation bills can’t be filibustered. The fact that Obama and the Democrats didn’t pass an omnibus budget reconciliation bill in 2009 was the tell they were trying to avoid doing anything really important. In addition to the public option, they could have taxed Wall Street, created a jobs program, and instituted a host of other progressive ideas.

        They actually did pass a mini reconciliation in early 2010 after Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat because it was the only way to get Obamacare across the finish line but it didn’t do anything more. The Democrats treated the majority like a hot potato and were relieved when they lost it.

        1. cwaltz

          They didn’t want a public option. The health care cartel and the President negotiated behind closed doors and the public option was jettisoned. What happened over in Congress was just kabuki to keep the rabble believing we still have a functional democracy instead of an oligarchy.

    5. meeps

      Looking back at some of the mistakes that created the tragedy that is the ACA:

      Enmeshed with the buyers remorse problem is that progressive thinkers with the gumption to challenge the orthodoxies are not welcomed into mainstream discourse. They are there and they are brilliant (read anything written by Dr. Margaret Flowers) but one must rummage around on sites like NC, It’s Our Economy, Truthdig, etc. to find people who don’t wear rose-tinted goggles.

  6. Ulysses

    From the Atlantic piece linked above:

    “Chafee’s slogan is “Prosperity Through Peace,” but he’s not focused enough on one topic to be called a message candidate. When I brought up the metric system, he sighed. “I also talked about banning drones,” he said. “I also talked about no capital punishment. I also talked about bringing Edward Snowden home, and stopping torture, and stopping warrantless wiretapping. But I haven’t gotten one question about bringing Edward Snowden home”…. He was a bad candidate but a lovely guest—quiet, polite, unobtrusive.”

    If Claiborne Pell had run for President back in the day, or Sheldon Whitehouse were to do so in the future, they wouldn’t get more traction than poor old Lincoln Chafee got this time. Rhode Island bluebloods, with great inherited wealth and status, can get away with calling out the MIC, they just can’t get taken seriously by the vast majority of Americans who have never experienced their kind of privilege.

  7. fresno dan

    F.B.I. Chief Links Scrutiny of Police With Rise in Violent Crime New York Times

    The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Friday that the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.

    1. Mr. Comey, do you believe that any police brutality has occurred?
    2. If so, do you believe police brutality should not be reported, i.e., be covered up?
    3. If you do not believe police brutality should be covered up, what is your point?
    4. Does “less aggressive” mean in fact less brutalizing?
    5. If “less aggressive” does not mean in fact less brutalizing, than does it mean that the police don’t do their jobs when they are validly criticized?

  8. Steven D.

    Interesting that Obama really puts the screws to anyone getting in the way of the TPP billionaire protection scheme but throws up his hands over something as trivial as the climate agreement.

    Sure is a head scratcher. It must be because of those bad, bad Wepubwicans or something.

    1. wbgonne

      I am confident there will be a climate agreement, one that is “the most progressive agreement in history” and yet woefully inadequate to address AGW. I also predict that the latter point will be excised from the display at the Obama Memorial Library.

      1. LifelongLib

        Both could be true at the same time. The only real solution to AGW is to end our current use of fossil fuels, either through some miraculous technological advances or catastrophic economic collapse. Even a genuine “most progressive agreement in history” is unlikely to bring about the first or avoid the second.

        1. subgenius

          …because we couldn’t just, y’know, wind down and STOP….and take the lessons while there is still some buffer…

          No. Because iphones and Facebook are too essential to life on earth.

          1. LifelongLib

            Right. Everything would be great if only those other guys would stop their frivolous consumption.

            For now fossil fuels are essential to what you and I would consider a decent life (not just for “Iphones and Facebook”). I’m reading a 19th century biography of John Brown. He was fairly prosperous for his time (1800 – 1859), had land and livestock. He also suffered the deaths of four of his children in three weeks (and others at different times), had family members who were constantly ill with “ague” (malaria), lived in houses where snow leaked through the roof in winter, etc. He mentions how nice it was when railroads finally reached his area to ease the difficulty of travel.

            That is the way of life that most of us will be enduring (again) in the absence of fossil fuels, barring what I think is an unlikely degree of technological advance. Good luck.

            1. low_integer

              Yes, things will be exactly like the 1800’s again if fossil fuel use is wound back to a sustainable level. Sigh.

              The biggest impediment to any significant change in the energy paradigm is the entrenched interests, both corporate and military. It’s impossible to quantify, but I believe that if these groups wanted change, we’d be making good progress already.

              Cue the “but you need fossil fuels to build solar panels” misdirection.

              1. LifelongLib

                1800s if we’re lucky. Probably worse because some fossil fuels were used even then, and most of the skills that people need to survive without high technology have been lost, or at best are rare. To say nothing of how difficult public health etc. will be. Sigh indeed.

                I’d love to be wrong. I’d be thrilled if we could develop sustainable technologies that did not harm the environment and still enabled everybody to have a decent life, by which I mean well-nourished, clean, and disease-free (at least to the degree possible in advanced nations now). I am just very pessimistic that we can transition to that in the time we have available.

                1. low_integer

                  I guess we will see eventually, and by ‘we’ I mean the human race. Perhaps you are right, in that the seeds we have sown as a species already guarantee our fate, but I’m not yet convinced this is the case. As I said above, it is the entrenched interests sabotaging genuine efforts to move in the right direction wrt clean energy that concerns me the most.

    2. nigelk

      One hell of a Republican Trojan horse they got in the door.


      Identity politics and left-right paradigm still going strong, it would seem…

  9. financial matters

    Wasted Drugs and the Creation of Superbugs Project Syndicate (David L)

    This is definitely important work and it’s good to see Wellcome Trust, David Cameron, Jim O’Neill and Larry Summers address this topic.

    I would suggest they add Mariana Mazzucato and Jeremy Corbyn to make sure this project stays in the public interest.

    1. cwaltz

      Larry Summers is very upset that superbugs don’t recognize his awesomeness and could potentially kill him as easily as the plebes.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    With so much concentration on Benghazi, I find it odd that nobody involved in these ‘investigations’ seems the least bit interested in what Seymour Hersh had to say about it. When a prominent journalist comes out saying the embassy was a CIA front to runs arms clandestinely through Turkey to the US backed Syrian opposition, you’d think somebody might take notice. All kayfabe to distract from what was really going on and get us all used to the fact that what passes for political leadership can operate in secret from the public, delete the public record anytime they want, and there’s nothing the public can do about it.

    1. H Lippitt

      This is speculation but it seems clear from the Benghazi hearings that HRC was already on the outs with Obama and had to get her info on Libya from Blumenthal’s CIA connections.

      1. bob

        Still confused on this. Was the SS clinton supposed to also be in charge of, and responsible for the CIA?

        The geography of this scheme makes absolutely no sense. None.

        I still think it’s just simply the “Z” in the name that makes it irresistible.

    2. fresno dan

      In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

      The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

      The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

      When I was young, it might have been a scandal to find out arms dealing is being done from embassies (i.e., the idea that embassies and associated annexes are NOT CIA fronts). Now I think it is understood that we use the embassies for such ‘clandestine” activities all the time and have always done so. Not that I agree that is a good idea – it seems to me most of our screwing around in foreign policy is counterproductive…

      It also seems to me from the article that congress knows that (CIA is dealing arm from embassies), and to any extent that it doesn’t know that, its because it doesn’t want to.

      It seems to me that the whole Benghazi investigation, to the extend one can tease anything coherent about what is being investigated (what is Logically happening is another thing – republicans trying to discredit Clinton – apparently for not protecting “secret’ CIA arms dealing personnel enough) is that we didn’t protect US personnel sent into a revolution to deal arms – apparently we should have had aircraft carriers off the coast so fighter jets could have been scrambled.

      Well, I think that is just impractical. I think if your in a revolution torn country, even being INSIDE a marine guarded embassy is fraught with danger (remember the take over of the US embassy in Iran). It would be as valid a criticism as saying that if you only had enough protection not one service member would have died in Iraq.

  11. timbers

    I don’t assume Republicans want to defeat Hillary:

    “Benghazi hearing floods Clinton campaign coffers with cash – POLITICO”

    1). Obama is the best President Republicans ever had. Not only has more right wing policy advanced in recent history under Obama, but more Republicans have won (and more Democrats lost) elective off than under any President in history (if you include state elective offices).

    2). Hillary is identical to Obama – a Wall Street backed establishment warmonger who voted for the Iraq War, “trusted” GWB, celebrated the mass death and chaos she installed in Libya, and supports our bombing doctors and hospitals in 7 nations, and is so inept she calls esteemed and popular leaders like Putin who we should seek cooperation with “Hitler.” Seriously…is THIS what the founding fathers wanted when they created the “Secretary of State”?

    Republican policy has advanced at the speed of light under Obama. The big money boys donating to both parties know that will continue under Walls Street’s candidate, fake progressive and warmonger Hillary.

    1. fresno dan

      Logically, your exactly, indisputably right.
      I often said Bill Clinton was the best republican president we ever had (really – balanced budget, welfare reform, more police, fantastic wall street profits, etc. – supposedly everything republicans are for, as well as being a southern white guy who didn’t really believe in all that gender equality stuff…). But doing what republicans say they WANTED to do wasn’t nearly so important to them, as the fact that Clinton was DOING what republicans wanted to do. Clinton made the republicans look bad. Also, the republicans couldn’t take the position of liberalizing welfare, reducing police, or raising taxes on wall street. At least, that is my theory of why the Clintons are so detested by republicans…

      But I came to see that the need for organizations and bureaucracies to perpetuate themselves. For example, Romney’s health insurance plan and Obama’s are essentially identical. Likewise, if the 2016 democratic platform was the republican 2012 platform, the republicans would do something different no matter how illogical or destructive such policies would be, simply as a matter of keeping their “brand” going.

      So no matter how “good” a republican Hilary is, she can never be a good enough republican…

      1. fresno dan

        As I was saying about what republicans say they want, and that when the democrats do what they want, they no longer want it…

        Romney also credited Mr. Stemberg with persuading him to push for health care reform in Massachusetts when he was governor.

        Romney recalled that shortly after he was elected, Mr. Stemberg asked him why he ran for governor. Romney said he wanted to help people, and Mr. Stemberg replied that if he really wanted to help, he should give everyone access to health care, which Romney said he hadn’t really considered before.

        “Without Tom pushing it, I don’t think we would have had Romneycare,” Romney said. “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So without Tom, a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”

        FROM VOX
        That seems like a contradictory position from a former presidential candidate who wrote a fundraising pitch in 2010 that started, “President Obama’s healthcare bill is unhealthy for America.”

        When Gov. Rick Perry said that Romneycare was the inspiration for Obamacare in 2010, for example, Gov. Chris Christie attacked him for it.

        “Any attempt to compare what happened in Massachusetts to the healthcare reform passed by the President is completely intellectually dishonest,” Christie said, according to Business Insider. “I am proud of him for standing up and doing what he thought was right…I am not going to LET them compare that happened in Massachusetts with the law passed by the federal government.”

        Truth is the first casualty of politics…

  12. wbgonne

    Are Canadian progressives showing Americans the way? Economics for public policy

    The author writes that both the U.S. and Canada have a dire need for massive infrastructure spending but that only Canada under Trudeau is likely to get it, explaining

    the most significant difference in values on the two sides of the borders has less to do with philosophical issues associated with how to define a good life, but rather the role of government. Americans are much more likely to see government as hindering rather than helping them to achieve their personal goals.

    IMO, Harper’s real mission was to do in Canada what the Right Wing has already done here in the U.S.: demonize government as an independent actor so that it becomes the lackey of the only remaining power center — concentrated wealth. Harper appears to have failed, though I’d say it’s too soon to know for certain as much depends upon what Trudeau does in response. Harper planted the seeds of the anti-democratic corporatocracy but he seems to have been too hamhanded and harsh as he did it. If Trudeau reinstalls democratic goverment as a truly independent power center in Canada he will have done a great service to Canada (and, IMO, the world). If, however, Trudeau turns out to be the Canadian Obama then those seeds Harper planted may yet germinate.

    1. kj1313

      Tbf Canadians are quite different from the US and see their neighbor (the US) as a potential warning sign.

    2. JEHR

      I’m always looking for those qualities that distinguish Canadians from Americans and I almost missed this one: Canadians support their government’s public policies and public institutions. Part of the reason for Harper’s defeat lay in his treatment of our civil service: he fired heads of federal agencies who did not agree with his policy; he muzzled scientists and diplomats; he lied about Stats Canada wanting to do away with the long form census; he treated the veterans shabbily even going to far as to not spend the money budgeted to them; etc.

      I guess it is the difference between “Peace, order and good governance” vs. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

      1. wbgonne

        Regarding the U.S., I do see some gimmers of counter-reaction to the neoliberal project (e.g., de-profitizing criminal corrections). But the significance of such developments is easily overstated. After all, the neoliberal has always depended upon stealth and deception since those policies are unattractive to the populace. So some resistance is inevitable, if long overdue. It remains to be seen if these are cosmetic changes to appease the populace or will lead to a genuine change in course.

        I don’t know much about the politics in other countries, Canada included, but it sure seems to me that the political foundation of the neoliberal project has already been exported by the U.S to most of the rest of world. Harper, it appears, overreached. But I still think it’s too soon to say he failed.

        I think America is hopeless in the short term so other nations are the only hope. Neoliberalism is like the “communist menace” I grew up told to fear in that it must necessarily continue to grow so that it eliminates all genuine competition. Neoliberalism is well on its way to that dominant status but it isn’t there yet. In my view, the TPP and TTIP are designed to construct a permanent global neoliberal framework that will be resistant to democratic change. IOW: Obama and the other neoliberal leaders may see an emerging democratic threat to the neoliberal order so they are moving to make democratic decisionmaking effectively irrelevant.

        As for Canada specifically, everything I have read suggests that Trudeau and the Liberals will support these “trade deals.” Should that happen, individual policy battles will be teapot tempests since they will be overridden if the results conflict with the global neoliberal framework.

  13. wbgonne

    One observation: we are very close, IMO, to the point where Bernie Sanders is finished as a viable contender for the Democratic nomination. With Webb and Chafee dropping out, Biden not running, the Benghazi Show earning Clinton rave reviews, the polls going south for Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the writing is on the wall. I am trying to adapt to the morbid death march that will be the next election. Clinton vs. Trump? God help us, please, because we sure ain’t helping ourselves.

    1. MikeNY

      Today, I would bet Clinton v Rubio. And Rubio for the win. (Not that I disagree with your last sentence.)

      Cruz scares me more than Trump. Trump is a blowhard and an egomanicac, but not thoroughly evil.

      1. wbgonne

        That’s my guess, too. Clinton vs. Cruz (who will be the last man standing after Trump flops). And I would also prefer Trump over Cruz.

              1. fresno dan

                Just to be contrary, I’ll take Bush as I think that gives me top cynic dog status…
                (thats Bush as republican nominee – I think Hilary will win because Trump irreparably harms Bush)

      2. neo-realist

        Rubio is a Latino Dan Quayle, and I believe that when enough of his ignorance and reactionary politics get enough face time on the national stage, assuming he wins the nomination, he’ll sink like a stone. And I’m no fan of Hillary.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A dark horse will win.

        The first horse (color not known to yours truly) to beat out other human opponents was Incitatus.

        My prediction is the second horse will be a dark horse.

        1. ambrit

          Incitatus was in the Senate. The Princeps at the time, Caligula, would do well today too. (Wait. Now that I think about it, there was a short term Senator that became Peinceps recently. He was a real Dark Horse, and cleverly promoted as one as well.)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Or maybe a deer disguised as as horse.

            From Wiki entry on Zhao Gao:

            In 210 BC, after Qin Shi Huang died in Shaqiu (沙丘; south of present-day Dapingtai Village, Guangzong County, Hebei), Zhao Gao and Li Si, the Chancellor, secretly changed the emperor’s final edict, which named Fusu, the crown prince, the heir to the throne. In the falsified edict, Fusu was ordered to commit suicide while Huhai was named the new emperor.

            Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of China, who united the Middle Kingdom and ended the Warring States.

            More from Wiki on Zhao Gao:

            One Chinese idiom that is derived from an incident involving Zhao Gao is “calling a deer a horse” (simplified Chinese: 指鹿为马; traditional Chinese: 指鹿為馬; pinyin: zhǐ lù wéi mǎ), meaning “deliberate misrepresentation for ulterior purposes”. The Records of the Grand Historian records that Zhao Gao, in an attempt to control the Qin government, devised a loyalty test for court officials using a deer and horse

            One can imagine, with today’s 24 hour global news coverage, a deer could have been a Roman senator, instead of a horse.

            1. ambrit

              The problem being, the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ depends exclusively upon who or what ‘Heaven’ is agreed to be.

    2. tayas

      Things can change very quickly in elections. Republicans were at record low approvals for the government shutdown in October 2013 and went on to have an excellent 2014 election showing. That is not to say Sanders will definitely win, and it has always been an uphill climb for him.

      However, he is still a viable contender for now. He has significant funds at hand, and the contest has finally started in earnest. The big story line push of Biden will he/won’t he sucked much of Sander’s momentum and attention. (The poll averages show his increasing poll numbers stalled at precisely the moment this story line started being pushed.) I think Biden leaving helps Sanders more than it helps HRC because it narrows the focus down to two choices and two policies. (With the exception of HRC constantly changing stated policies and not being punished by the electorate for this dishonesty.)

      I agree with a comment from yesterday (I forgot from whom) that Sander’s key strength is policy. There is a very different flavor to this primary contest than the simplistic comparisons to Gore v. Bradley (with Gore running as the third term at a time of high optimism) or Howard Dean (who ran against the Iraq war but was otherwise very much in line with the establishment). My sense is there great dissatisfaction with the establishment, and that the electorate is responding strongly to the presence of candidates (both Republicans and Democrats) that are putting forth real policy changes.

      Lastly, Trump is not inevitable either. Carson is ahead in Iowa, and Rubio is quietly sitting in third place letting the others fight it out. The Republican side of things is highly unpredictable.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I agree. Sanders can keep going as long as he keeps filling stadiums and collecting small donations from attendees. He’s not beholden to the usual suspects. I’m personally fine with that, since all I’ve ever wanted or expected from Sanders is dragging the Overton Window left. That said, if Sanders is serious about a movement, and that only a movement can bring the kind of “change” he and his voters want, then he’s going to have to show “a different offensive look,” as one might say if this were football. No sign of that yet, but doubtless smart people are thinking about it.

        1. meeps

          Yes, especially those of us able to read and cipher at the sophomore level or above! (;

          re: Wasted Drugs and the Creation of Superbugs Project Syndicate (David L):

          It matters not how much innovation or technology you throw at the problem without good, granular data to begin with, which wasn’t even mentioned in the piece. Without universal health care (observing the population) and without records/regulations pertaining to antimicrobial and antibacterial use in industry (observing other factors in the environment) innovation is a crap-shoot. Presently, health and industrial data is offered voluntarily to private companies resulting in piecemeal collection and lacking the fine detail needed for good science. I suppose one can play pin the tail on the superbug donkey and occasionally land in the solution space…

        2. Jeff W

          “he’s going to have to show ‘a different offensive look’”

          Speaking of offense, The Guardian reports that Bernie Sanders “tore” into Hillary Clinton’s “ambitions and record” at an Iowa fundraiser this evening, criticizing her stances on gay rights, the Keystone Pipeline the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Iraq war, e.g. “If you agree with me about the urgent need to address the issue of climate change, then you would know immediately what to do about the Keystone pipeline Honestly, it wasn’t that complicated.” Zing!

          It helps to be right on the issues.*

          *We see that so rarely in US politics, it’s easy to forget how helpful it is.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Clinton’s great week will be forgotten on Monday. The buffoonery of the GOP was only a surprise to cable news, and Hillary is only polling ahead of Trump. That will terrify voters especially as he hits her on free trade, wars of choice, and crony capitalism.

      The loss of the other candidates will reduce time wasted on those desperate for attention when Sanders can be drawing differences between Hillary and Sanders.

      It’s still early. Turnout depends on motivated volunteers. Hillary doesn’t have many, and her real record will continue to nag at her. The e-mail scandal is still an issue. The Iowa caucus is February 1st. Most unaffiliated voters reflexively say Hillary because she is a known commodity. Given the date, many of Hillary’s supporters in New Hampshire won’t be in the state come February.

      The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary were only a month away at this point. One problem with the polling is many potential Sanders supporters no longer identify as Democrats and are often dropped in primary polls.

      1. wbgonne

        It’s still early.

        On the calendar, yes, in the election process, no. As a very longshot underdog without any institutional support, Sanders is totally dependent upon popular momentum and that momentum appears to have stalled, if not reversed. Once the Clinton Machine gets in gear, which is happening now, Sanders’ candidacy will increasingly be viewed as hopeless and the enthusisam will collapse. Had Warren run, it might have been different. But Sanders simply doesn’t have the wasta to compete with Clinton. I do hope I am wrong.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          What machine? The GOTV operation is dependent on motivated volunteers. Low info voters aren’t GOTV types. They never have been. As for the Team Blue machine, the 50 state strategy was dismantled. What ground game the had in 2012 was largely due to civil rights groups pushing against GOP voting restrictions. Hillary didn’t move women voters to vote for female candidates in 2014. Her machine missed the mark there. Hispanics and minorities voters didn’t turn out. There is no machine without enthusiasm, and upper class white women don’t canvass Democratic voting areas. Most people trash flyers, ignore ads, and dismiss robocalls.

          The only person to person contact will largely be Sanders supporters. Much of Sanders support comes from polling done before New Hampshire students went to school. They aren’t answering polls now, but they will go home and brow beat family members over the two breaks.

          The truth is most people aren’t paying attention right now. At this point, building for January 1st is more important.

          1. wbgonne

            The purpose of a political machine is to eliminate the need for enthusiasm and replace it with carrots and sticks. Clinton’s machine is her family’s, which has now combined with the one Obama built. I am near-certain it will be enough to secure the Democratic nomination for Hillary. As for Sanders’ enthusiasm, I think that will disappear as he begins to fade, which already seems to be happening. Those Sanders people will give up and the Clinton Machine will take over. Only my opinion, of course.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Perhaps, again past polling indicates over four months is an eternity in elections. Iraq, Libya, Syria are still in the news. Yemen and Hillary’s Saudi donors can only move into the news. MSNBC is at all time lows for ratings. Elite pundits are no , on get what they once were.

              Her campaign staff is full of previous villains. She can’t answer questions from any outfit other than cable news and Republicans. These stories will spread.

              Last month, Trump was finally in decline. Now, he is the presumptive nominee despite no campaign operation.

            2. fresno dan

              I agree with you, for what its worth.
              The sad truth is that the vast majority people drink Bud, not due to quality, taste, or even price but because it is incessantly advertised on the TV and out of habit…


              “According to the association’s annual growth report, craft beer market share hit double digits in 2014 for the first time ever, meaning more people are drinking craft than ever before”


              “Craft beer accounted for 11 percent of all beer sales in the U.S. last year, up from 7.8 percent in 2013.”


            3. AumuA

              We’re really jumping to the hopeless conclusion here, aren’t we? Your words are painting the picture of failure for Sanders. That’s what they want. Don’t be a mouthpiece for the public opinion manufacturing system.

              I wonder what personal stake you might have in pushing the hopelessness. I think after 0bama a lot of us are more jaded than ever before. But I’ll say this: just the fact the Sanders is on the menu at all gives me hope, win or lose. Not that he’s perfect, but just that there’s some sanity in what he says, also backed up by a long voting record.

              If we’ve concluded that the msm determines the outcome of elections then I guess there is no hope.

              1. nippersdad

                Hear hear! It sounds like a lot of propaganda to me, and perceived popular support for an embattled Democrat has not translated into actual political support for some time; see all of the mid-terms during a Democratic Administration for the past twenty years.

                1. wbgonne

                  Seriously? You think I am writing anti-Sanders propaganda? Well, at least you can blame me if Sanders flames out because my internet comments have that kind of clout.

              2. Kurt Sperry

                I agree, those who argue that the Sanders campaign is a hopeless irrelevancy are carrying water, unknowingly likely, for the status quo. They are in a sense more useful tools than the ones who are bought off because: firstly, they do it for free; and secondly, because they have reputational credibility within the insurgent camp that make them particularly valuable for propagating learned helplessness. A Sanders denier in the left camp preaching Hillary’s inevitabilty is worth two or three cheering Hill-bots to the neoliberal cause.

                1. wbgonne

                  Oh, please. I call it as I see it. And I comment at Naked Capitalism because most of the people here do the same. If it appears that NC has assumed a truth-twisting agenda — however noble the cause — I will depart. I’ve seen far too much of what that does: it quickly devolves into propaganda of which I want no part. The truth shall set you free. If you disagree with my opinions fine. Explain why.

                  This talk of “useful idiots” and “Sanders deniers” is immature drivel. My comments are intended for honesty and accuracy. That yours have a different intent is duly noted.

              3. wbgonne

                If you disagree with my assessment please explain why. Otherwise, stop whining. This forum is for adults.

        2. Pat

          Yes, Sanders is a long shot. He isn’t one because of voters or issues, or even institutional support, he is one because of the media and the meme and lack of contact. I do agree with you that momentum is important, but unlike you, I don’t think the Clinton machine is either invincible or particularly effective most of the time.

          Is it still likely that Clinton will win the nomination – yes. Largely because this campaign has been in place for almost seven years, has a great deal of resources and most important of all has lined up the ducks in the national party for both rules and process. Is it impossible for Sanders to change that – no. As I said this is one where the message AND the messenger are impressive, winning, and motivating. Nothing about Clinton makes voters go “YES!!!!” Sanders does, but his biggest disadvantage is that they have to hear it and that is going to be his on-going battle. He wins that one, he can and I think will, win the nomination.
          I’m more worried about the general, because sadly I think a good percentage of the people who support Clinton do so for all the reasons I will not. And they will work hard to make sure that Sanders loses, no matter how crazy his opposition, including joining them in sabotage and Al Goreing him in the press.

          1. wbgonne

            I’d say that Sanders’ chance of winning the general election, should he secure the Democratic nomination, is higher than his chance of getting the Democratic nomination in the first place. The Democratic Party today is a cesspool of bad faith. If you want evidence, just peruse Daily Kos for a while.

            1. Spring Texasn

              Agreed. Sanders or any Democrat will win the election. But the Democratic Party will never let Sanders be the nominee.

              Nonetheless, I think Sanders’ campaign is thoroughly worthwhile and is indeed dragging the Overton Window left. His great strength is his lack of apology for stuff Democrats have been apologizing for for decades. He’s not defensive at all, and he’s articulate.

              So I send him a bit of money every month. While I don’t think he can be the nominee (though I’d love to be wrong), the longer his campaign continues, the more people will have heard his positions.

              Yep, “cesspool of bad faith” describes most of the Democratic Party. With a few bright lights like Sherrod Brown and Lloyd Doggettt.

        1. wbgonne

          The Clintons thrive on self-pity and victimhood. I think the Benghazi Show effectively sealed the Democratic nomination for Hillary. But I disagree with Taibbi regarding the general election. I think either Trump or Rubio could beat her. Why? Because, unlike the Democratic base, the rest of the country is totally sick of the Clintons’ narcissitic melodramas. We have our own, real problems to deal with. Plus, Hillary is no Bill when it comes to lower-lip-biting pathos and political snake oil sales. When Hillary Clinton is genuinely challenged and threatened she will get flustered. But that is no longer likely in the Democratic nomination process.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The Electoral College. Winner-takes-all states. Demographics. This all means the Dems have 258 of the required 270 no matter who they put in the field, so it’s Hilary in a walk. After the coronation she can continue with the Obama program: destroy health care, free pass for Wall St. crime, expanded illegal spying, more drone bombing of hospitals, and “trade” deals that “level the playing field” with nations where workers earn $20 per day and can’t drink the tap water. Her stretch goal? WW III, she’s never seen a military program, arms system, or covert intervention she didn’t like.
            Oh I’m so happy

          2. ambrit

            Note that Bill has started a shadow campaign for Hillary now. This is early, showing, I believe, a worry in the H Clinton handlers’ clique about her “inevitableness.”

          1. montanamaven

            If Bernie won’t do it, then the Republican nominee can play the tape of “We came, We Saw, He Died” Cackle, Cackle, Cackle. over and over. Chilling. And reckless. And reckless is not what we need in these dangerous times.

        2. cwaltz

          I think Taibbi assumes people will vote for the lesser of two evils.

          That may very well come back to it him in the butt.

    4. Jim Haygood

      ‘I am trying to adapt to the morbid death march that will be the next election.’ — wbgonne

      We can’t control events, but we can control how we respond to them.

      Consult my highly acclaimed Inspirational/Self Help title, Turds on the Run: Close Your Eyes and Make the Clintons Go Away Forever. (It works on GOP candidates too.)

        1. Jim Haygood

          You bet, bro. On a laughing jag the other night, I conceived a new designer drug that combines pot with oxycontin: Poxycontin(tm).

          Then I scribbled the outline for a sequel: End-Stage Clintonism: The Emerging Social Consensus Against Hildabeestiality.

          See ya on the book tour! :)

    5. Benedict@Large

      It is very important to vote. Not voting as a protest is simply marked up as laziness and disinterest. There is nothing our elites want more than to have us disinterested in our elections. But to vote, it is sufficient to cast a ballot. It is not necessary to actually vote for anyone on that ballot. You are still counted as voting when you cast an empty ballot.

      Which is what I will be doing if the main parties both offer me candidates that do not represent me. You should do this too. This is how you tell the elites, “I want to vote, but you give me no one to vote for.” It is your way of saying, “None Of The Above”.

      Or you can vote for some third party candidate, which I’ve done, and which is noble, but which is also a waste of time. No one cares.

      1. Spring Texasn

        You should always vote, and there are always local elections where your vote actually makes a difference. No, if it’s Clinton vs somebody I will not be voting at the top of the ticket. But would never let that discourage me from voting.

      2. Massinissa

        Its a waste of time to vote 3rd party, but its also a waste of time to do empty ballot. Noone cares about that, either. Im just saying.

        Honestly, I vote third party, but I dont see the difference of it than just staying home. Theres a reason half of America stays home.

        There are people that claim that voting for one of the losers just gives legitimacy to the winner. When only 20% of Cubans showed up to the polls to vote, Batista knew most of the rest were supporting Castro, and Batista fled the country.

      3. hunkerdown

        How does one vote no-confidence in the aristocratic system designed by the Founding Oligarchs, other than by a voter strike? Let the landed gentry live in their effete delusions. People dropping out of their system and refusing to play their game is the only real threat to them.

        1. LifelongLib

          Changes to the “aristocratic system designed by the Founding Oligarchs” include the abolition of slavery, direct election of Senators, federal environmental laws, civil rights…none of which were brought about by ” People dropping out of their system and refusing to play their game”.

          1. hunkerdown

            All of which are superficial and change no power relationships: Chattel slavery has merely been converted to wage slavery. Direct election of Senators means more melodrama, more pandering, and more propaganda. Federal environmental laws might be worth something, but Black society going their own way and not bowing to the lordship was like a gun to the oligarchy’s head, and praising said oligarchs for saving their own precious skin is insulting.

    6. nippersdad

      I am sorry to see that the propaganda is working, however, it really is just a lot of propaganda at this point. We are a week removed from the first Democratic debate, the point at which most people are just awakening to the realization that there is an election in the indefinite future. Three quarters of the national electorate is still unaware of who Bernie Sanders is, even if most of those in Iowa and New Hampshire do. Sanders’ polls in Iowa and New Hampshire only appear to be falling because Biden dropped out, and, as expected, Clinton got his numbers. As far as I am aware, the unaligned numbers are still fairly steady, and inroads will be made into the new Clinton numbers as readily as has been the case for months now and for the same reasons. She sounds like a fraud and her historic policy choices have proven loathesome.

      Her approval numbers are shit, and are about to get a whole lot worse now that people are starting to pay attention. This was the point of a limited debate schedule, and that has fallen to the wayside with new forums being announced every day. What you saw with Benghazi was a sigh of relief that Hillary did not fall on her face in front of a bunch of blowhards,; she did not let down the team. Her political support will ultimately remain unchanged in spite of her perceived popular support; just as the popular support Bill Clinton got when attacked by Republicans whilst President did not translate into political support when he lost the mid-terms.

      She cannot attack him in even the mildest terms, whereas Sanders can call her a liar with impunity, albeit politely:

      And will, no doubt, do so after his socialism speech and charm offensive are complete. His campaign is, admittedly a long shot still, but there is still a lot of time and months might as well be centuries in political terms. I think you may be giving up before the game starts in the face of a lot of scripted beltway triumphalism that is not real out in the provinces where most of us actually live.

      1. Ulysses

        “I think you may be giving up before the game starts in the face of a lot of scripted beltway triumphalism that is not real out in the provinces where most of us actually live.”


      2. wbgonne

        You forgot to mention the polls now showing Sanders behind in both New Hamshire and Iowa. Wishes are not facts.

        1. ambrit

          The only ‘Poll’ I really trust is the voting itself. Even there, corruption is rampant. The whomever they ares who ‘run’ things behind the scenes have been trying to re-establish the bad old days of rigged elections through control over the technical side of the elections. How about an “Occupy Diebold” movement?

        2. hunkerdown

          Polls? You really think people pay thousands of dollars to create numbers that serve against their own interests?

      3. ProNewerDeal

        nippersdad, thx for this Hill article link.

        I am happy to know that none of Dem Pres candidates are at least publicly saying “not interested in continuing President Obama’s legacy”. Although personally I believe neoliberal H Clinton Reagan Jr is another 0bama Reagan Jr, at least she is not publicly claiming so.

        I hope narcissist 0bama, always talking about His Legacy, feels angered about his peers rejecting his 0bama Admin record. It appears that the concept of Karma, may actually be relevant in this case.

  14. MikeNY

    Re The Economist and War.

    The risk is that our desire to ask only those who are willing to fight to do so is pricing us out of some kinds of warfare. Wow. He says that like it’s a bad thing.

    Because you can’t spend $600+ billion a year on warfare if they won’t let you get into a decent old war every couple of years. Sheesh.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not a problem to spend ten times more…$6 trillion a year or $60 trillion a year.

      You can’t deny generals their toys by saying we don’t have the money to save lives, bring peace and protect freedom.

    2. fresno dan

      WOW – that quote is astounding – it almost strikes as if from a Monty Python skit…

      I can see them dressed in their British uniforms saying the unfortunate economic downturn means no more rifles or bullets, and to continue to confront the enemy heretofore will entail that they will have to be engaged using rubber ducks…

      (cut to shot of British solders bludgeoning with rubber ducks)

      1. MikeNY

        Pretty amazing, right?

        As if warfare were some ordinary consumer ‘good’, with brand names to choose from, target markets and advertising campaigns.


    3. nihil obstet

      Pricing us out of some kinds of warfare basically means anything that requires educated, committed soldiers. They’re not willing to pay the peasants who should, after all, accept pain, disability, and death just because that’s the role of peasants. There will always be enough money to pay the corporate war profiteers for whatever scams they can dream up.

  15. T-5

    Good catch on theCode of Conduct (which state media will never ever show you the text of, or link to. They don’t want you knowing what the outside world thinks.) The ACT group countries have picked up on some of the Small Five proposals to impose rule of law on the veto. (Interesting that the crime of aggression is not included. Baby steps!)

    One version of the whole package of needed veto reforms is

    • End the P-5’s back-room deals with formal UNSC rules of order.
    • Require due process for lifting sanctions the P-5 impose.
    • Encourage the P-5 to vote no without invoking the veto power of Article 27(3).
    • Require the P-5 to justify their vetoes in terms of international law.
    • Prohibit vetoes of UN measures against the most serious crimes.
    • End the impunity that the P-5 enjoy by holding serious crimes to account under international law.

    The veto is institutionalized impunity. Rock-ribbed Republican Sen. Robert Taft said right at the outset, “surely nothing can be law if the five largest nations can exempt themselves from its application.” This Code of Conduct further de-legitimates the USG if they veto Security Council referrals to the ICC. With the systematic and widespread crime against humanity of the US torture gulag stinkin up the place, future referrals of US crimes are more than hypothetical. That splashing you hear is the sound of US legitimacy sprinkling away down the toilet.

    1. fresno dan

      Its a cliche, but for a good reason
      Kinsley: the scandal isn’t the illegal behavior–the scandal is what’s legal.

  16. DJG

    Portugal: If I may go into “national character,” a topic dreaded in the USA, even though any American can tell any other American at 200 feet in Europe. Portugal compared to Greece and Spain has been better run for years. Further, the population is quite unified and has a strong sense of self: Portugueseness, if you will. In this regard, the EU may be up against a new Iceland. You’re not going to see the embarrassing celebrity grandstanding and appeals to Oxford chums that you saw among the Greeks as they put the knives in each other’s backs.

    Spain learned a long time ago not to underestimate the Portuguese. Now I’m wondering about London and Brussels.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You can’t speak a second language well without also thinking like the natives. That is, seeing the world like the natives, due to various factors, like grammar and sentence structure unique to each language, using cliches to describing daily events, adopting the body language particular to that culture, etc.

      To me, one sign of hope is when we see only non-English speaking Portuguese politicians.

      That’s when you really and truly have representatives who are ‘like us.’

      No more parachuting ministers with foreign spouses coming back as the new German (Wittlesbach house) kings of Greece or for that matter, Portugal.

  17. abynormal

    re: missing CIA files concerning El Salvador coup… “A spokesman for the CIA said: “The suggestion that CIA had anything to do with this incident is offensive, insulting, and patently false.“
    In a statement UWCHR said: “What worries us most is not what we have lost but what someone else may have gained: the files include sensitive details of personal testimonies and pending investigations.

    “[CIA]… a constant repetition and a boundless incongruity of useless but indestructible objects.” Proust

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Africa, China’s investments…a modern of colonization.

    Looks like they are intruding on someone’s sphere of influence, and with tastier, if not healthier, food too (the various regional cuisines).

    That ‘through the stomach’ approach could be their most potent secret weapon.

  19. Daryl

    > CIA-Armed Rebels March On Assad Homeland Daily Beast. Caveat from Oregoncharles: “No idea how reliable this is. It’s certainly a counter to all the triumphalism about the Russian entry into the war.”

    Michael Weiss and the Daily Beast have been pumping out neocon kneejerk anti-Russia propaganda since they announced their airstrike campaign. It’s really bizarre. You can breathe deep because I’m not going to claim Russia is doing good in the world, but their air campaign seems to have had some early successes and if it isn’t working it’s because the Syrian Arab Army is so beaten down they aren’t retaking territory at the rate the Russians would like, or at all.

    This part, at least, is completely correct:

    > if the West is backing anyone, it’s backing terrorists.

    1. hidflect

      I deleted The Daily Beast from my reading list 2 years ago as it became clear they’re embedded in the Debbie Wasserman Schultz/Hillary Clinton/Steve Israel camp but pretend to be otherwise. They just soft-peddle the neo-con, neo-liberal talking points.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think he biggest threat to the Assad alliance with dedicated air power is guerrilla style conflict. Launching a blitzkrieg style operation would only invite a fight similar to the one in Ukraine. The last thing the Russians will do is lead their allies into the cauldrons the Kiev forces kept charging into. A few thousand fighters wrecked the Kiev military.

      The Assad alliance will move slowly cutting the now decoupled West of Syria off from resupply. Insurgents will need more than just guns over time. The Russians have closed the Jordan border, appeared to have negotiated a deal with the Israelis, are aligned with the Kurds, control the coasts, and are working on shutting down the Iraq border. Air power can cover the rest, one big cauldron.

      Iraqis parliament wants the Russians to bomb ISIS, and Egypt is the Russian camp. Saudi Arabia is involved in a power struggle within its own ruling clan and is one step away from a full blown invasion of a country of 25 million. The potential allies of the various factions are dwindling.

      Unlike our Afghanistan and Iraq operations, the Russians aren’t In the race to find weapons or on a pretend manhunt, so they don’t need to grab the country in a lightning strike. The opposition forces are already deployed. This isn’t a race to keep them from being mobilized.

      1. Daryl

        > I think he biggest threat to the Assad alliance with dedicated air power is guerrilla style conflict. Launching a blitzkrieg style operation would only invite a fight similar to the one in Ukraine. The last thing the Russians will do is lead their allies into the cauldrons the Kiev forces kept charging into. A few thousand fighters wrecked the Kiev military.

        > Unlike our Afghanistan and Iraq operations, the Russians aren’t In the race to find weapons or on a pretend manhunt, so they don’t need to grab the country in a lightning strike. The opposition forces are already deployed. This isn’t a race to keep them from being mobilized.

        For sure. I have no idea what will happen to the Sunni portions of Syria/Iraq — other than I wouldn’t want to live there.

  20. abynormal

    re: A Global Chill in Commodities Hits America’s Heartland…

    So This Is Nebraska
    The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
    over the fields, the telephone lines
    streaming behind, its billow of dust
    full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

    On either side, those dear old ladies,
    the loosening barns, their little windows
    dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
    hide broken tractors under their skirts.

    So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
    afternoon; July. Driving along
    with your hand out squeezing the air,
    a meadowlark waiting on every post.

    Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
    top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
    a pickup kicks its fenders off
    and settles back to read the clouds.

    You feel like that; you feel like letting
    your tires go flat, like letting the mice
    build a nest in your muffler, like being
    no more than a truck in the weeds,

    clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
    or holding a skinny old man in your lap
    while he watches the road, waiting
    for someone to wave to. You feel like

    waving. You feel like stopping the car
    and dancing around on the road. You wave
    instead and leave your hand out gliding
    larklike over the wheat, over the houses.
    Ted Kooser

    Photo Essay of the Great Depression (next time enjoy the train)

      1. abynormal

        goddam poet laurette and consultant for the library of congress…goddam strait we should know him bahahahaaaa

        Considering the ways in which so many of us waste our time, what would be wrong with a world in which everybody were writing poems? After all, there’s a significant service to humanity in spending time doing no harm. While you’re writing your poem, there’s one less scoundrel in the world. And I’d like a world, wouldn’t you, in which people actually took time to think about what they were saying? It would be, I’m certain, a more peaceful, more reasonable place. I don’t think there could ever be too many poets. By writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life. We say ‘We loved the earth but could not stay. Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets

        Today, from a distance, I saw you
        walking away, and without a sound
        the glittering face of a glacier
        slid into the sea. An ancient oak
        fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
        a handful of leaves, and an old woman
        scattering corn to her chickens looked up
        for an instant. At the other side
        of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
        the size of our own sun exploded
        and vanished, leaving a small green spot
        on the astronomer’s retina
        as he stood on the great open dome
        of my heart with no one to tell.

        melt me Ted

        a happy birthday

        this evening, I sat by an open window
        and read till the light was gone and the book
        was no more than a part of the darkness.
        I could easily have switched on a lamp,
        but I wanted to ride the day down into night,
        to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page
        with the pale gray ghost of my hand”
        Ted Kooser (Brilliant Capture)

        1. flora

          goddam right!


          Today you would be ninety-seven
          if you had lived, and we would all be
          miserable, you and your children,
          driving from clinic to clinic,
          an ancient fearful hypochondriac
          and his fretful son and daughter,
          asking directions, trying to read
          the complicated, fading map of cures.
          But with your dignity intact
          you have been gone for twenty years,
          and I am glad for all of us, although
          I miss you every day—the heartbeat
          under your necktie, the hand cupped
          on the back of my neck, Old Spice
          in the air, your voice delighted with stories.
          On this day each year you loved to relate
          that the moment of your birth
          your mother glanced out the window
          and saw lilacs in bloom. Well, today
          lilacs are blooming in side yards
          all over Iowa, still welcoming you.

          -Ted Kooser

    1. Massinissa

      Oh man these are hilarious. One of the best campaigns ive seen.

      And its all the funnier knowing that Isuzu troopers were terrible trucks.

  21. Jim Haygood

    ‘Comparing variation in the quarterly data, the Chinese economy fluctuates only one-third as much as the U.S. economy. (I computed the standard deviation of growth rates since 2011 divided by the average growth rate. U.S. variation: 0.32. Chinese variation: 0.12.) ‘ — Bill Conerly, Forbes article

    U.S. stock market volatility averages about 15%, whereas emerging markets funds exhibit volatility in the low 20s. This being the Golden Age of Indexing, there’s a VIX for that:

    Likewise, commodity-oriented emerging economies are expected to experience higher volatility than services-based developed economies. Ask Saudi Arabia how crude price volatility is working out for them.

    Both these perspectives suggest that Chinese quarterly GDP volatility ought to be running at around 150% of the U.S., instead of a claimed 38%.

    Chinese GDP reminds one of the good old days at General Electric, when quarterly earnings just marched higher for years at an eerily smooth slope. Minds over math, as it were.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is interesting is that, I am guessing here, that it would take more than 50% drop in the Chinese stock index to Paulson to imagine the occasion to impose martial law over there, whereas in many developed countries, a drop of 20% at this fragile juncture in history, would make him drop down on one knee.

      And, that, not surprisingly, is the raison d’etat for the War on the Assetless.

  22. Mustsign topost

    Portugal is a small place, like every small place, everyone knows everything about everyone else and pretends not to. Due to the chronic under-investment in education the Portuguese were not ready for the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution and thus the oligarchs holdings were promptly restored. Portugal’s leadership has traditionally been educated abroad, by the UK, France and USA. The current President’s Party has been taken over by those returned from the former colonies. The President’s party wants to bring the worst of US/German capitalism to the country. The two main party’s problem lie in the fact that the State apparatus is two small for all the yobs to get jobs if both parties ruled, and it’s too small because both parties have been hacking away at it. Portugal’s economists are for the most part professional sycophants and therefore TINA. The President is also an economist and buddy with another, who after a spell at the CB, went on a massive looting spree at the helm of a bank. In fact it’s notorious how many shady characters the President surrounded himself with during his long spell in politics. The fallout of which was the excuse to bringing in the IMF and Troika. Then there is the finance minister who having worked at the CB goes to Government to implement AusterityTM, publicly recognizes its failure, quits and then moves on to a cushy IMF position. Among the genius policies adopted we find the underwriting of bank losses by the State and the slashing of benefits and the doubling of that expenditure on NGOs with dubious accounting practices. By the way, parliament mostly underwrites Brussels laws and because FreeMarketsTM the countryside is overrun with cash crops leaving the country helpless but oligarchs very rich, Portugal is one of the best markets for high-value cars, which is good for them given most of the oligarchs investment abroad are total flops making their enterprises dependent on the domestic economy which they can’t stop themselves from trashing. The blessing and curse of the country is it’s people which are considerably more orderly, modest and ever ready to shaft their self-interest by ignoring dissenters than elsewhere. Another thing of note, one bone of contention between the two major parties has been the irregular investigation and imprisonment of the former Prime-Minister whilst the soon to be former prime-minister got a free pass on his own irregularities concerning EU funds. The EU has been a godsend for your average yes-man career politician, lots more opportunities of position, status and dubious dealings.

  23. susan the other

    Jimmy Carter on Assad’s “stuborness” – I think this is a strategically placed op-ed to make us look reasonable. We are not reasonable. We are taking over the Middle East by whatever means necessary and making it look reasonable. The obvious collateral here is gas and oil. Without that backing up our little enterprise we wouldn’t be interested. The urgency for us to control oil is obvious. Capitalism has churned growth and debt for 30 years and in order for it to continue we would have to go farther. And we can’t. It’s not just the atmosphere, the oceans, the ravenous consumption now worldwide. That would be fine on an infinite plane. It is the end of the road. The NYT on the American heartland says it all – we are bringing manufacturing down. It is a goal I believe in but I don’t like all the lies that accompany it. They are very dangerous. And it is so mismanaged that there will be much more hurt to come. It doesn’t need to be this way.

    1. fresno dan

      Yeah, there seems to be this need to have a house “liberal” and Carter fulfills it.
      All the hand waving to make it look like this is any different than standard US intervention, with either us having no idea of what we are doing, or we getting involved for nefarious purposes.
      Really, just more of the “indispensable nation” yammering…

  24. Ivy

    News stories in this era of corrupted “journalism” often suffer from being somewhat second-hand filtered observations or otherwise removed from what is happening on the ground or in the air. There are ways to go right to the source rather than wading through paragraphs of misstatement, spin, kayfabe, posturing or anything else that detracts from objectively verifiable facts.

    For those interested in the winds, to use a benign example, whether in Mexico or elsewhere, try the following:

  25. Ivy

    News stories in this era of corrupted “journalism” often suffer from being somewhat second-hand filtered observations or otherwise removed from what is happening on the ground or in the air. There are ways to go right to the source rather than wading through paragraphs of misstatement, spin, kayfabe, posturing or anything else that detracts from objectively verifiable facts.

    For those interested in the winds, to use a benign example, whether in Mexico or elsewhere, try the following:,18.07,589

  26. allan

    Germany investigates fresh US spying allegations

    German authorities have launched a probe into allegations of a new case of suspected spying linked to the US National Security Agency, German reports said today.

    The report by news magazine Der Spiegel comes after an investigation into alleged US spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone was dropped in June due to lack of proof. …

    The investigation concerns the personal laptop of a department chief in the chancellery onto which a spying virus known as ‘Regin’ was allegedly installed, the magazine said.

    The ‘Trojan horse’ type virus, which was discovered on the laptop last year, enables surveillance of all data entered onto a computer and transfers it to whoever had the software installed, Der Spiegel added.

    Or maybe he was just beta testing Windows 10.

  27. Massinissa

    Hey guys, occasional commenter and occasional lurker Massinissa here.

    I just want to say how much I love the comments section here. Many other comment sections on other websites give me huge headaches.

    On the Sakers website, there was one commenter saying that he thought the Indian caste system was the ideal form of social organization and was superior to both capitalism and socialism. And im like, wtf?

    Im glad that there are so few crazies on this website. Most of the rest of the internet is filled with people who claim to believe the scariest stuff.

    1. Daryl

      > Im glad that there are so few crazies on this website.

      I don’t know, there seem to be a lot of craazies on this website.

      1. abynormal

        Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time. ~Murakami

        if this site is a waste of your time, move along OR make a kindly LARGE DONATION to the kittens at the top right of your screen…cherrio’s

        1. low_integer

          Now, now, aby. Pretty sure the double ‘a’ in craazies was a reference to craazyman and craazyboy.

          1. abynormal

            oops. my donation won’t be ready till mid Nov…guess i’ll have to sweat blood to double it for this oops :-/

            please accept my apology Daryl

            I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.
            Shelley, Frankenstein

  28. abynormal

    re: Who will fight the next War(s) …“Could we field the force we would need?” asks Andrew Krepinevich of the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Probably not: “The risk is that our desire to ask only those who are willing to fight to do so is pricing us out of some kinds of warfare.” did the mf’r really just say that?

    Costs of Major U.S Wars – Federation of American Scientist
    (congressional research SERVICE)
    “All estimates are of the costs of military operations only and do not include costs of veterans benefits, interest paid for borrowing money to finance wars, or assistance to allies.”
    pg 6
    Figures are problematic, as well, because of difficulties in comparing prices from one vastly different era to another. Inflation is one issue—a dollar in the past would buy more than a dollar today. Perhaps a more significant problem is that wars appear more expensive over time as the sophistication and cost of technology advances, both for military and for civilian activities. (Cough, CHOKING, HELLLLP)

    1. flora

      Pretty sure that if he’s calling for a re-institution of the draft that the foreign adventures would by scrutinized much more carefully. Shorter: a draft would have ended the middle east adventures long ago. Soldiers are not widgets.

      1. abynormal

        40yrs of economic war on the gene pool they’re left to choose from…
        i got soul but im not a soldier/the killers

  29. IsabelPS

    Re Portugal: “an overly dynamic situation” is an understatement.

    One thing missing in AEP’s articles (and, I realize, my own email to Yves), is the fact that, up to the election night the Socialist Party and the 2 parties to its left were at daggers drawn. Also, the Communist Party seems to be a lot less interested in moving from its firm ground than the other more dynamic (urban, educated, typically receptor of protest votes) Left Block Party. But the 3 are necessary for a majority. The question, for a lot of people, even on the left, is how solid is this left coalition, or for how long.

    It doesn’t help, either, that the Socialist Party is, at the moment, anything but coherent (I think, but that is just my opinion, that there lies the explanation for the unbelievably bad campaign they made). The speech of the President (uncharacteristically blunt and probably stupid) provided some glue and, indeed, the 3 left parties made a show of united force in the first day of the new parliament by voting the Speaker (a Socialist).

    Back to the overly dynamic situation: the coalition of the incumbents will present their government in a couple of days, and it is expected that it will be shut down by a motion of no confidence. Then, in theory at least, the President could ask them to keep in office as management government until the next elections. It seems like a bad idea, because it would be too long (up to May or so). Also, I was just reading that they might refuse it and prefer to go into opposition (leaving the dirty work of balancing a softening of austerity AND keeping fiscal tightening for the others and also, probably, banking on the dissatisfaction of the general public with this mess to win the next elections with majority).

    If they refuse, the President seems to have closed the door to the reasonable next step, ask the second in command to form a government. (Seems, mind you). But he can also ask someone else to form a government (it has been done before, at very unstable times after the revolution).

    All bets are off.

  30. dk

    Funny (as in not at all funny) that the Schultz DNC is finding out that it can’t squash anybody else’s interests or needs (big tent? riiight..) and still get enough individual/non-PAC funding to operate the convention (granted, it’s no small expenditure).

    This in contrast to the massive funding B. Sanders has garnered. D. W. Schultz must be green (as in, not enough green) with envy.

  31. OIFVet

    Dutch satirical program tries to get the attention of Cecilia “I do not take my mandate from the European people” Malmström through an ABBA cover:

    chiquiTTIP you are so wrong
    we’re enchained by all your sorrow
    with ISDS there is no hope for tomorrow
    and I hate you CETA like this
    your injustice is gigantic
    we-ee-ee can see you are way too transatlantic
    chiquiTTIP you and I know that the treaties come and they go
    and the scars they’re leaving
    they will screw us in the a$$, yes they will, unless
    we can somehow stop this CETA

    now the chloride chicken is dead
    cos arjen and liliann got drunk and they ate it
    so cecila mallström we are not extröme
    if we don’t want chiquiCETA
    Try once more like you did before
    Sing a new song chiquiTTIP

  32. IsabelPS

    Frances Coppola total and absolute BS:

    “Portugal’s President, Cavaco Silva, has just overturned the result of a democratic election that would have brought to power a coalition of Left parties dedicated to ending austerity and restoring the Portuguese economy through increased spending, claiming that Portugal cannot have an “anti-European” government”

    If you want to comment on foreign affairs check your sources carefully.

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