Links 12/2/15

Saga of the world’s most famous grizzly Christian Science Monitor

The rise and fall of the unicorns The Economist

Mortgages, Layoffs and Bribes Bloomberg. On “Lenda.” Get it? Well worth a read. And you’ll see those words, “disruptive” and “innovation” again.

SEC Steps Up Probe of Pre-IPO Share Trading WSJ

Has Pando missed the heart of the Uber problem? A transportation industry expert writes… Pando. A must read, and a superb rejoinder to an excellent Pando article on Convoy, the “Uber of the trucking industry.” In essence, Hubert Horan, the letter writer, proposes better analytical tools so Pando can do even more brutal takedowns in future.  To me, the key point:

Uber-type companies need to be understood as a radical departure from Amazon/EBay type models. Instead of displacing competitors through actual efficiencies, or by creating entirely new markets, its model is entirely based on getting the world to believe that it will inevitably dominate the entire industry. This requires aggressively suppressing any discussion of empirical economic evidence (which would undermine its case) and emphasizing the factors driving inevitability–the brilliance of its early stage investors, the ruthlessness of management, and the raw political power of the company’s wealthy supporters….

[T]ere are no competitive economics behind the “inevitability” claim…

If you totally replace the competitive product/efficiency advantages of an Amazon-type plan with a massive PR program emphasizing how the raw political power of the unicorn investor class will inevitably destroy all existing competitors, then demonstrations of political power (and ruthless marketplace behavior) becomes a key driver of capital markets….  If the unicorn investing class thinks Uber has proven that tens of billions of private value can be created purely with PR and political strength, then “Unicorn manufacturing” becomes an industry unto itself.

“Unicorn manufacturing” sounds a lot like a phishing equilibrium, to me. And note the importance of the pro-AirBnB vote in San Francisco as a demonstration of “raw political power.”

Lending Startups Look at Borrowers’ Phone Usage to Assess Creditworthiness  WSJ

Congress Moves Again to Block Investigation of Congressional Insider Trading The Intercept

Big Banks Suffer Rare Fail as Congressional Deal Cuts Nearly $1 Billion a Year in Handouts The Intercept. Note the potential for a “rural lender” scam at the end.

US regulators propose powers to scrutinise algo traders’ source code FT

IPERS still faces $5 billion shortfall Des Moines Register

Brazil’s economy shrinks by record 4.5% FT

Recessions are always a problem and can always be avoided Bill Mitchell

Port Authority Has Hard Time Filling CEO Post Wall Street Journal

Vatican leaks trial engulfed by bizarre sex, Silvio Berlusconi blackmail and secret services claims International Business Times


COP21: A Potluck Dinner in Paris The New Yorker

The Fate of the World Lies in Between Brackets The Atlantic

Climate deal needed if Bill’s billions are to help poor nations Reuters

Beijing’s smog off the scale but still no sign of top red alert South China Morning Post

A split or a unifying leader are the only ways to end Labour’s civil war Independent

Understanding the new global oil economy Martin Wolf, FT


Are Paris attacks a signal the Islamic State is stagnating? McClatchy. “Evidence includes an amnesty for deserters in October.”

Top U.S. Diplomat: Political Solution to Syria Civil War Now in Sight Foreign Policy

U.S. deploying new force to Iraq to boost fight against Islamic State Reuters

Iraqis think the U.S. is in cahoots with the Islamic State, and it is hurting the war WaPo

Turkey still sees Kurdish nationalism as bigger threat than Isis FT

Spain issues arrest warrant for Benjamin Netanyahu Christian Science Monitor

Israel and Russia to Coordinate Military Action in Syria: Benjamin Netanyahu NBC

An Israeli Pivot to Eurasia? The Diplomat

David Cameron tells Tory MPs: Ignore the ‘terrorist sympathisers’ and vote for Syrian bombing Telegraph. ” The Telegraph has been told that numerous Labour MPs have been left in tears after being warned by hard-left activists that they will be ‘murdering women and babies’ by backing military action.” Like that’s a bad thing.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

FBI Redacted Passages Showing Judge Mocking Its Stupid Claims Emptywheel

The Elf on the Shelf is preparing your child to live in a future police state, professor warns WaPo (Furzy Mouse).

State sues prisoners to pay for their room, board Chicago Tribune

Black Injustice Tipping Point

 Rosa Parks Wasn’t Meek, Passive, or Naive—and 7 Other Things You Probably Didn’t Learn in School The Nation. Parks was, as the kids say, badass.

Why we turned off comments on Tamir Rice news stories: Chris Quinn Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Just about every piece we published about Tamir immediately became a cesspool of hateful, inflammatory or hostile comments. Rather than discuss the facts of the case, many commenters debased the conversation with racist invective.” “An army” “couldn’t keep up.”


Bernie Sanders, Your Cool Socialist Grandpa NYT

Hillary the Hawk does it again: Asked about her Wall Street ties, Clinton again invoked 9/11 Salon. I’d love to hear about the meeting where Team Clinton decided this talking point was a good idea.

More like Reagan than FDR: I’m a millennial and I’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton Salon. Salon seems a little wobbly on Clinton, just now.

Hillary Clinton’s infrastructure plan, explained Vox

Hillary Clinton’s e-mail problems have gone dormant. For now. WaPo

Is the ACA in trouble? Brookings. Hilariously, the author doesn’t regard the “bewildering complexities of health insurance” as “trouble.”

Sheldon Silver convicted on all counts in corruption trial Politico New York. Post headline: “Shel done!” (Ulpanaylaylo).

The political economy of tax laws in the U.S. states Elliot Ash. A data-driven approach using natural language processing.

Class Warfare

Huffington Post Employees Ask Management To Recognize Union Amid ‘Overwhelming’ Newsroom Support HuffPo

Seattle. Chicago. Los Angeles. Min Wage Lies Travel. The Big Picture

The Washington Post will allow singular ‘they’ Poynter. Been using it for years. Awesome.

Why We Should Really Be Concerned About the Visual Identity for the Tokyo Olympics Medium. The potted history of design is useful enough, but it builds toward the end.

Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan to Give 99% of Facebook Stock to Philanthropy WSJ

Antidote du jour (via):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Robert Callaghan

    Anti-antidote du jour

    50% of Forest Bird species will go extinct in 50 years.

    60% of Flower species will go extinct in 50 years.

    50% of Mega Cities will go extinct in 50 years.

    90% of Soil will go extinct in 50 years.

    40% of Humanis will not have enough water in 15 years.

    100% – Ocean Acidification doubles by 2050,

    200% – Ocean Acidification triples by 2100.

    99% of Rhinos gone since 1914.

    97% of Tigers gone since 1914.

    90% of Lions gone since 1993.

    90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.

    90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.

    90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.

    80% of Antarctic Krill gone since 1975.

    80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.

    50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.

    80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.

    40% of ocean phytoplankton gone since 1950.

    30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.

    70% of Marine Birds gone since 1950.

    28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.

    28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.

    97% – Humans & Livestock are 97% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    0.01% – 10,000 years ago we were 0.01% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    1,000,000 humans, net, are added to earth every 4½ days.

      1. Robert Callaghan

        Krill is harvested by Australia and mainly used for the production of krill meal and krill oil, which in turn is used for animal feed and for direct human consumption through health products.

      2. cwaltz

        There you go getting all nuancy- that’s no fun. Science is only supposed to offer simple explanations – not complex ones, that allow for more than one factor. Repeat after me-humans bad- all of them.

        Since I’m a cheeky lass I’m going to point out that in the past 50 years humanity has put a variety of animals on the endangered species list and created enough of a population for it to leave the list. That isn’t a projection, but actual reality. Some of the people, that many here may feel shouldn’t have been born to begin with because- climate change- have made the world a better place and have helped species survive and adapt.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Some of the people, that many here may feel shouldn’t have been born to begin with because- climate change- have made the world a better place and have helped species survive and adapt.

          That’s a point Right To Life people might have used to say that, many should have been born, so they too could have made the world a better place. They might say, that we don’t know, but these many deserve a chance.

          For me, I don’t know whether anyone should have or shouldn’t have been born. People are here and we love and hate those who are here. We can’t love nor hate people who are not here yet.

          Looking at those dead people in a cemetery, for example. Two hundred years ago, they probably hated or argued among themselves, but now, they sleep peacefully among themselves.

          1. cwaltz

            No. When right to life people speak they are talking about potential lives that might have made a difference(and they rarely acknowledge that an unwanted and unprepared for child is at a disadvantage. They don’t even want to begin to discuss the abuse and neglect that young people suffer at the hands of adults and how that affects them into adulthood. Potential works both ways.) In my case, I’m not giving anyone projections, I am talking about actual lives that have made a difference. In these diatribes against humanity and how it’s destroying the planet(which again, I may add may just be a factor, not the entire reason for climate change) I rarely see any acknowledgement of things like the Conservation Act or the Endangered Species Act, you know things that humanity has done to try and help others species survive.

            I try really hard when dealing with a fact based subject to deal in facts(although I do admit that my faith and belief sets do drive much of who I am, how I act and what I believe and definitely influence my views.)

            Anyway it really sticks in my craw that what I saw and see as an act of faith, hope, love and yes, to some extent ,courage(bringing a child into this crazy mess of a world) others see as selfish, wasteful and oh, an attempt to score a hit of hormones. *shakes head*

            1. Massinissa

              Courage huh.

              I dunno if having courage is always a great thing. Courage can get people killed, and does. Courage to act sometimes digs the hole deeper. I dont see how the ‘courage’ to raise children would be any different.

              1. cwaltz

                Courage means willingness and strength to face, danger, death and difficulty so it goes without saying that any of those things can be the outcome of employing it.

                When I decided to bring my children into this world it was always with the hope that with a decent upbringing that they’d be a net positive and that they’d learn to understand that life is give and take, not take and take. I can’t speak for others and their philosophy, just mine(and yes, I also understand that as humans they also get a choice in how they impact the world.)

                I don’t regret my choices and I refuse to let others define what my intent was when I made them.

    1. OIFVet

      All of these numbers are beyond depressing. What’s missing though is the die-off of bees and other pollinators. Just to add to the general depressive picture…

        1. polecat

          and the elites are busy evolving into ever more viscous morlocks…to the eternal detriment of us eloi…..

        2. cwaltz

          The news today on the drug front has been rather schizophrenic. They’ve created an anti aging drug that might extend life to 120.

          Meanwhile they are also reporting that the really toxic antibiotic they were considering the last line for dealing with bacteria is failing.

          1. Massinissa

            When news tells you two different things, ive learned its usually best to accept the pessimistic one.

            1. cwaltz

              It seems to me that 120 might not be too fun when you can’t actually interact because if you do you might catch an antibiotic resistant bacteria.

              I do agree with your philosophy though, I’ve learned that setting my bar low means not being too disappointed when 2 weeks later scientists announce that what they initially thought wasn’t actually right. The older I get the more I realize that our species isn’t nearly as smart as we think we are.

    2. Mark martin

      And yet women still have to have just one more baby to get that hit of Oxytocin. The people with 4 kids should be the most worried about climate change

        1. LarryB

          Nah, humans have too much in common with cockroaches and rats. Some of us will always survive, although “some” could be much, much less than the current population.

      1. JEHR

        JCC, this is the longest and saddest list of extinctions that I have ever seen. The last animal on the list will be 100% extinction of homo(not)sapiens, 2100.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Even sadder than the saddest.

          It hurts the most when your tormentor does not even know you exist…in love or otherwise.

          There is a list of lifeforms that we don’t even know existed and are now extinct due to our GDP-generating activities.

          That’s a blank list.

          And the saddest.

          Because we desire ever more GDP and want to avoid recessions.

    3. wbgonne

      Shameful. We humans are so like Icarus with our hubris. But we are far more stupid and evil, at least collectively. Knowingly destroying one’s own habitat is beyond comprehension.

    4. Vatch

      50% of Mega Cities will go extinct in 50 years.

      Huh? The mega cities just seem to keep growing. What’s your reasoning behind this statement?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Well then, there’s this, one snippet from an interesting thread:

        You won’t need to move out to the cities, the cities will move out to you. That’s what it’s like already in many parts of the US — one long continuous city, rather arbitrarily divided up into cities and townships and suburbs based more on tradition than observable fact.

        Lots of gallows humor to go with.

        1. Vatch

          Thanks, that makes sense, and you’re right, it is funny in a disturbing way. If cities merge, there will be fewer cities, even though the total urban surface area and the number of city dwellers will both increase. It reminds me of BAMA, the Boston Atlanta Metropolitan Axis in a cyberpunk novel by William Gibson.

      2. Not Bert Callahan

        Best guess: water.

        As in not enough, or rising too quickly. 50% seems as likely as any other number. Projections have been known to be inaccurate, although lately for the worse.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The human population problem is the same as the human GDP problem.

        Recessions are not a problem to be avoided, Mr. Billy Mitchell.

        Getting human population and human GDP under control is job number 1.

        Shrinking GDP can be handled with more sharing.

        Wealth inequality shouldn’t automatically prompt calls for more GDP (growing our way out of it, or cutting down trees to get out of it).

        1. bdy

          Wise spending towards sustainable employment levels doesn’t discount the limits of growth. Future economic activity isn’t necessarily as consumptive as past.

          The “organized technology can save profligacy” crowd are hopelessly naive, but we still have a ton of stuff to do with a lot of idle hands.

      2. craazyboy

        Gee, I dunno. Looks to me like 7-10 billion lemmings are just gonna follow their reproductive organs off a cliff. Hard to figure out what to do about that? Noah might even say “Faaakit Fluffy. We’re jumping too!”

        1. craazyman

          You’d think with no flood in thousands of years somebody like Noah would have to rethink his basic assumptions about meteorology.

          This is a metaphor for the Asteroid Crew. There’s been no asteroid in 7 years but they still expect one any day now. Even the Asteroid-Lite Crew, even they think there’s gonna be a small asteroid. They still do.

          Even the serious economists who consider themselves above Asteroid Sightings (which they consider a lunatic fringe activity), even they can’t figure out the first thing about what ‘s going on.

          You’d think all of them would ask themselves “Do we need to rethink our entire conceptual framework about money and economic relations?” Well, maybe you would think that, but they don’t seem to.

          Every day they write down the same old nonsense packed into new paragraphs. It’s the same words, just rearranged differently in paragraphs that seem different, as if that is some sort of achievement of progress toward new thinking. It’s the same old thinking but just rearranged. If you have on your plate a pile of peas, mashed potatoes, roast chicken and a dinner roll, and you take your fork and knife and you mix them all up like a man mixes cement, then they’re still all the same. It’s not new. Even if you put gravy over all of it, it’s still not new. But it looks new if somebody doesn’t think too carefully about the compositional structure of the analysis.

          It gets like that. I bet even the lemmings think they’re doing something new, every time. I guess for each one it is new. But for them all, all together, well . . .

          1. craazyboy

            Yeah. Or like Taco Bell only has hamburger, shredded cheese, lettuce and salsa in the fridge and it turns into a dozen different menu items.

            But JYell did say today she’s “Hoping for a rate hike in the future.” Now that’s new tough talk! Counts fer a mini-Asteroid sighting too! Depending on how far off it is.

            Maybe if the lemmings had new leadership to follow. Politicians always like to find a parade and get in front of it. One of those dick heads might have some new ideas.

    5. Brian

      We defecate where we eat, and we make fun of the other animals that do. Yes Doug, it was a mistake to come down out of the trees.

      1. JTMcPhee

        …at least the other creatures don’t have us humans shi__ing on their heads, now that we are down out of the trees… What’s left of the other creatures, that is…

        1. polecat

          some ceatures like sh#t……..ever heard of compost, compost toilets, fukui’s’One Straw Revolution’ ???

            1. polecat

              Fukuoka…yes……. pooping in water will end when municipalities can no longer afford to run their waste/ sewage infrastructure, due to increasing maintenence costs, or lack of water, or both.

      2. optimader

        the obligatory D Adams musing

        “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”

        ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  2. Christopher Fay

    Very effective recital, more contemporary and pointed than Howl. In the tradition of Leaves of Grass, or Pablo Neruda’s poems about things. Encyclopdiac , read it and weep

  3. vidimi

    i’m always skeptical, even terrified, when billionaires “give” money to “charity”. billionaire “philanthropy” is invariably something involving privatising something public.

    1. Christian B

      One has to wonder if the would would be a better place if THEY DID NOT TAKE ALL THE MONEY IN THE FIRST PLACE.

      Jeez, this drives me crazy. Its like a weird version of Robin Hood when he takes from the poor and gives to various NGO to maybe give some of it back to the poor but only how they think it should be given.

      But even superficially it is gross because even when he gives away 99% of his shares (eventually sometime in the future) at what the stock is worth right now that will still leave him with $45 million in stock. This is not including any of his other assest. Wow, what a guy. Glad he decided to wait to do this until he saw it might effect HIM as well, now that he has a baby and a legacy and all…

      1. MikeNY

        Yes, as Reinhold Niebuhr said, “Charity is good; but justice is a greater good.”

        I think it shows that Gates and Zuck have some shred of a conscience; something deep inside them tells them that having so much when so many have so little is morally wrong.

        Because it is.

        1. vidimi

          gates is a prime example of the falsehood that is billionaire philanthropy. his pet cause is education and he’s all about pushing charter schools.
          zuckerberg, too, was involved in a rightwing superpac very recently.

        2. JTMcPhee

          …what a nice take on the motions and motivations of our Technoligarchs! Interesting that it’s the whiz kids who married maybe women who might have a “conscience” (does not include Obama family, apparently) who are making their mates make these gestures, with moolah stripped from the peasants that is so BIG that they don’t apparently have the imagination to figure out ways to blow it all on just one more palace or hummingbird’s-tongue torte. And of course they still will be going to the best parties, and “accessing” the other oligarchs that have purloined all the wealth and the levers of legitimacy…

          Just another sucker play…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I can only say that ALL wealth creation involves team work.

            And money creation should be bottom up, not top down.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s not charity when you get what belongs to you in the first place, for example, with money creation from the bottom up.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What you say resonates.

        It’s like the rich not only have to be much richer than us, but they are morally superior as well.

        The other alternative is the realization that wealth creation is team work.
        Without customers, you can’t get rich (except free money gifted from the government).

        All the employees have been trained at public expense (through the 12th grade, if not more for most, that is, those not privately educated).

        That wealth belongs to all of us, IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    2. Christian B

      And I wish to add a quote from the sages:

      “When [the world] knows good as good, evil arises.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            I take it (good as good) to mean absolutism, that good exists relatively, and long and short are about each other.

      1. fresno dan

        I say we eat him – but anti cannibalism is the last acceptable prejudice…

        And all these people against it….haven’t even eaten one ladyfinger….

      2. different clue

        Thankfully I don’t have to face that question or harbor that bit of well-placed resentment. Because I have zero presence of any sort on Facebook. I twitter not, neither do I tweet, nor do I Link In. So those are four “free-labor-based” entities which have recieved no free labor from me.

    3. afisher

      I would be more impressed if this largesse was directed at established charities instead of one that is Zuck’s own creation, which is in fact more of a guarantee that wealth will stay in the family.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner


        Agree, but I do hope the Zuckerbergs’ charitable organization does much good in the world. Noted that they have selected a legal structure that differs from that of the Gates Foundation.

        I am not an attorney, but based on my reading of this article: , Delaware LLC appears to offer liability protection, flexibility in terms of management structure, and the possibility that tax exempt status may be revocable if contemplating future conversion to for-profit operations.

    4. curlydan

      Worse, they did it in an 2,200 word “open letter” to their newborn daughter, Max. So much for brevity.

      Word in the hospital nursery is that Max quickly responded with an anguished cry and a WTF hand expression. Max wants a charitable foundation with a nice yearly salary set up for her _and_ paid condos in Palo Alto and NYC or the poopy diapers are about to get nasty…REAL nasty.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I’m sure Max isn’t worried.

        She knows that america is the land of opportunity.

        The land of meritocracy.

        The land of the lucky sperm club.

  4. fresno dan

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: What would change if al-Baghdadi were killed?

    Flynn: We used to say, “We’ll just keep killing the leaders, and the next guy up is not going to be as good.” That didn’t work out that way because al-Baghdadi is better than Zarqawi, and Zarqawi was actually better than bin Laden.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: So killing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wouldn’t change much?

    Flynn: Not at all. He could be dead today, you haven’t seen him lately. I would have much preferred to have captured bin Laden and Zarqawi because as soon as you kill them, you are actually doing them and their movement a favor by making them martyrs. Zarqawi was a vicious animal. I would have preferred to see him live in a cell for the rest of his life. Their logic is still hard to understand for us in the West.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: In February 2004, you already had Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in your hands — he was imprisoned in in a military camp, but got cleared later as harmless by a US military commission. How could that fatal mistake happen?

    Flynn: We were too dumb. We didn’t understand who we had there at that moment. When 9/11 occurred, all the emotions took over, and our response was, “Where did those bastards come from? Let’s go kill them. Let’s go get them.” Instead of asking why they attacked us, we asked where they came from. Then we strategically marched in the wrong direction.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: The US invaded Iraq even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.

    Flynn: First we went to Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was based. Then we went into Iraq. Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations. This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again.
    SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Islamic State wouldn’t be where it is now without the fall of Baghdad. Do you regret …

    Flynn: … yes, absolutely …
    SPIEGEL ONLINE: … the Iraq war?

    Flynn: It was huge error. As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.

    US intelligence: definition of oxymoron…
    “The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state.”
    Yet people, with a straight face, say that Assad is causing all the problems and getting rid of him will make everything better…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “’ll just keep killing the leaders, and the next guy up is not going to be as good”

      That’s not how evolution works, necessary. No surprise our declared enemies displayed adaptability. Exactly like biota and antibiotics.

    2. financial matters

      I thought that was a very interesting interview.

      “the Iraq war?

      Flynn: It was huge error. As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.

      Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations. This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again.”


      Adam Branch in ‘Displacing human rights: war and intervention in northern uganda‘ talks about the concept of ‘total intervention’ where intervention can be justified by many things such as poverty, weak states, disease, rights violations, environmental pressures and so on and can claim to be non-political but this can just mean immune to democratic accountability. They can invoke the technical side to be beyond politics and also be immune to democratic accountability when they invoke the moral side.


      It seems that these problems can be addressed by paying attention to the local social fabric as Christian Parenti warns about in Tropic of Chaos that the combination of neoliberalism and counterinsurgency as both being essentially violent ways to control populations and limit social cohesion.

      “Counterinsurgency is especially destructive because it attacks the social fabric. Like the revolutions it seeks to suppress,counterinsurgency intentionally attacks and attempts to remake the social relations of a place. In the process, it helps set off self-fueling processes of social disintegration.”

  5. vidimi

    i too use the singular ‘they’ for gendered humans but shudder when it is applied to an animal or even baby when the gender is unspecified or irrelevant.

        1. fresno dan

          If “they” is singular, maybe I have been using it wrong.
          Is the plural of the singular “They” ….really “Theys” ???? or “Theyes”
          Of course, a mouse with another mouse is mice, therefore They is Tice???

      1. Tom Allen

        The singular they has been part of the English language from the beginning. Chaucer used it, Shakespeare used it, Austen used it — name a classic English author and odds are they will have employed it. (There’s a list at the singular they Wikipedia page, for example.)

            1. ambrit

              I thought that ‘y’all’ was from the Dixie dialect, which is related to Ameringlish in a similar way as is Cajun to French.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Which is basically just using the tragically underutilized English subjunctive mood and should be grammatically correct.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        But that only works in writing, not speech, and the / seems odd to type. No wonder it never caught on.

        Marge Piercey, in Woman on the Edge of Time, invented “per” (for person). Never caught on…

  6. Uahsenaa

    re: Independent piece on Labour divisions

    Is it something about the British press that they feel the need to treat the party membership and the PLP as equal constituencies. I realize MPs can hold onto seats largely through moving them about the country to safe constituencies, but I always thought that in a representative democracy, the parliamentarians serve at the behest of the larger party membership. Should they no longer feel the need to actually represent that membership, then the voters should be within their right to say, “thank you for you service, but we’ll be going with this person next go around.” Yet, whenever the prospect of deselection is brought up, even the media sympathetic(ish) to Corbyn treat it like it’s some great affront. Perhaps it’s because I’m an American, but I see nothing at all wrong with voting the bums out.

  7. Bene

    Salon seems a little wobbly on Clinton, just now.

    Salon seems a little wobbly, period.

    Is anyone else having page freeze/crash problems with Salon? They seem to have reached that magic threshold where their ads begin to devour their page’s ability to load without freezing and/or crashing.

    1. wbgonne

      More like Reagan than FDR: I’m a millennial and I’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton Salon. Salon seems a little wobbly on Clinton, just now.

      The “just now” part is essential. Hillary Clinton will be criticized and even rejected by “progressives” while: 1) Sanders remains a viable challenger; and 2) the GOP has no candidate. IMO, once Sanders is finished and especially after the Republicans nominate Rubio or Cruz or Trump or whomever, Salon and the rest of the fauxgressive Professional Left will slide right back into lockstep support.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They also have to deal with readers, and they’ve noticed Hillary is toxic with the 35 and under crowd and not particularly well liked in general. Being supportive of someone despised by ones audience doesn’t bode well for the future. With Obama, he was once genuinely popular and played the race card to silence lefty critics. Lockstep was important. An element of Hillary’s elite support is based around the idea unity is desperately needed. Once it’s seen Hillary isn’t going to bring in numbers the lockstep support will disappear as everyone tries to be first to say they were skeptical.

        1. ambrit

          “…as everyone tries to be first to say they were skeptical.”
          “They” will have to get in line behind almost everyone involved with NC.

        2. Nigelk

          “they’ve noticed Hillary is toxic with the 35 and under crowd and not particularly well liked in general”. This is 100% true.

          I live in a semi-rural county in California that always votes Republican.

          Bernie stickers/signs/etc everywhere. Yet to see 1 – 1! – Hillary sticker/sign/etc. I’ve not met one person under 40 and — perhaps more importantly — I’ve not met one person who is working-class who is for Hillary. In my experience, Hillary supporters are overwhelmingly upper-middle to upper-class, white, and believe all the Reaganist claptrap about anything that uses the word “socialism”, even if there’s a “democratic” in front of it.

          There’s a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them. If everyone under 40 voted their conscience (or hell, just their personal economic circumstances), it’d be a landslide.

    2. Inverness

      Salon seems to be trying out a “fair and balanced” policy, meaning they try to provide positive coverage for both neo-liberal democrats (Clinton) and the more progressive wing. They appease Clinton supporters by smearing Sanders fans as “bros.” Give me a break. But sooner or later, they’ll write something pro-Sanders.

      The same goes for new atheism: there are articles in favor of Sam Harris and Bill Maher (who are quite blatantly islamophobic), and then some other posts which explore tolerance of the Other.

      Their editors might say it is an attempt to please a wider audience; to me, it looks like they are afraid to have a point of view. That’s why I’d rather read other alternative sources like NC and (paging Lambert;)

    3. James Levy

      I rarely go to Salon for that reason–screws up my computer and crashes my browser. Even with an Intel i7 and a ton of RAM it has so many pop-ups and video clutter it won’t load properly.

    4. Gio Bruno

      I was an original charter member of David Talbot’s Salon. (When it was a subscription.) It didn’t bring in enough money, so they went the ad route. Today Salon should not be accessed without the NoScript addon (software) on your computer. Salon has more scripts, ads, trackers, analyzers than any other website I visit. It’s loaded with junk stuff you don’t see/block without NoScript.

      As for Hillary. Salon editor (former?) Joan Walsh appears to be tiring of defending HRC with gender affinity (since her stated policy stands are anathema to many). Salon has a redeeming quality with Patrick L. Smith as a contributor.

    5. Oregoncharles

      Yes. Not only has the content mostly become more and more predictable, but technically they’re a maddening mess.

      As far as “wobbly,” though I see evidence of a political battle behind the scenes.

    1. cnchal

      Thank you for that. I particularly enjoyed reading the lie detector questions.

      X this part of the exam is about to begin, please remain still
      11 Are you now in Alabama?
      12 Is your last name Magrino?
      11 Are you now in Alabama?
      R3 Have you ever planned with anyone else to plant any illeg . .
      14 Is today Tuesday?
      17 Are you sitting down?
      R5 Have you ever planted any illegal evidence?
      C6 Before 1999, have you ever falsified timesheets?
      17 Are you sitting down now?
      IA Are you wearing shoes?
      IB Are the lights on in the room?
      R8 Have you ever used any illegal drug evidence for your per . . .?
      R9 Since you have been employed with the Dotham Police Dept.
      C10 Prior to 1999, have you ever lied to make yourself look g… ?
      XX This part of the exam is now over, please remain still un…

      It must have been galling for Magrino. Usually he asks the questions.

      In the internal affairs documents, three names worth noting appear repeatedly.

      Capt. Carlton “Bubba” Ott, now commander of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, Steve Parrish, current Chief, and Andy Hughes, former Sheriff and current Director of Homeland Security for the state.

      All were aware of the investigation and its outcome. All have been rewarded with careers in law enforcement by those for whom they covered, while those who spoke out were forced out of the department. Disturbingly, Ott and Parrish have both attended the FBI academy. Both were highly recommended by the district attorney and former Police Chief, John White.

      However, not one of these officers, or members of the district attorney’s office, had the moral courage to do the right thing and correct the wrongful prosecutions against the young men who had drugs and weapons planted on them. Disturbingly, on his web site, John White lists that he is a adjunct professor at Troy University’s Criminal Justice Program and advertises asking people to let him protect them in the courtroom.

      All of these men are now in secure positions of leadership in law enforcement. Many of the men wrongly convicted however are still in prison and have felonies on their record, their lives destroyed.

      The results of a polygraph tests given to officers like Michael Magrino were conclusive. The result was DECEPTION STRONGLY INDICATED – probability of deception was greater than 99%.

      I bet these three have great pensions.

      1. fresno dan

        VERY disheartening.
        The avalanche of evidence of police, proprietorial, and judicial criminality – and the staunch, stubborn refusal of that system, or the political system to take any serious action against the perpetrators – really argues that the US is on par with the East German or Soviet secret police. If ANY justice occurs, its obviously an error…

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We should ALL have great pensions.

        That’s possible under one Single Payer Pension Plan…all for one, one for all.

      3. Strangely Enough

        Disturbingly, Ott and Parrish have both attended the FBI academy

        Disturbingly? More like comically.

    2. fresno dan

      “The Alabama Justice Project has obtained documents that reveal a Dothan Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation was covered up by the district attorney. A group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team were found to have planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years. They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current Asst. Director of Homeland Security for the State of Alabama. All of the officers reportedly were members of a Neoconfederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels “racial extremists.” The group has advocated for blacks to return to Africa, published that the civil rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQ’s . Both Parrish and Hughes held leadership positions in the group and are pictured above holding a confederate battle flag at one of the club’s secret meetings.

      The documents shared reveal that the internal affairs investigation was covered up to protect the aforementioned officers’ law enforcement careers and keep them from being criminally prosecuted.”

      Thanks for that. Again, just more overwhelming, irrefutable evidence of ongoing and continuous police criminality…

      It now seems obvious that this is common – and the thing of it is, Chicago shows it is not just the purview of the South. Even northern “liberals” protect police – when there is OVER WHELMING evidence of police misconduct. There appears to be a well designed, well crafted phalanx of bureaucratic rigamarole, regulations, and laws that are specifically promulgated to protect police criminality.

      The fact that there were complaints, and that this continued for DECADES, shows really how active, knowing, and obstinate is the desire at ALL levels of government to support, protect, and advance this oppression. It is not inadvertent – those who were not active participants were willfully blind to what was going on. It really is astounding.

      Every one mentioned in the article should be severely prosecuted for their crimes against justice. But there appears to be little justice in the American legal system.

      1. rich

        Speaking of the yellow? hammer state:

        Two former JPMorgan Chase & Co bankers agreed to pay about $326,000 to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that they paid millions of dollars to close friends of Jefferson County, Alabama commissioners in order to win $5 billion of municipal bond and swap business.
        Ex-JPMorgan bankers settle SEC municipal bribery charges
        Douglas MacFaddin and Charles LeCroy, who were JPMorgan managing directors, will pay a respective $201,224 and $125,149 to resolve the SEC civil fraud case, according to papers filed on Tuesday with the federal court in Birmingham, Alabama.

        Neither defendant admitted wrongdoing. The settlement requires court approval. Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.
        sweet home alabama.

      2. cnchal

        . . .those who were not active participants were willfully blind to what was going on.

        In this case, active duty officers that raised alarm bells were drummed out of the force. A Gresham’s dynamic is at work, where the bad drive out the good.

        Not all cops are bad. It just seems that way.

        I think it is one of the most horrible jobs you can have. Always faced with confrontation, angry people, crazy people, never knowing what’s around the next corner, or if the next interaction leads to a shootout. With all the guns laying around, you have to expect the worst. It’s horrible.

        I have gotten into a discussion with a person that has two siblings on a police force and it got around to this question of why do the good police officers stay silent when they see blatant criminality from other officers? The simple response was bullying.

        The good cops are bullied by the bad cops, and fear them, and it is easier to be silent, as there will be a shit storm coming your way if you speak up.

        It seems that the people that have worked themselves to the top in the police hierarchy have much to answer for, but who will dare to ask right questions, and have the power to compel an honest answer?

  8. Benedict@Large

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    Why we turned off comments on Tamir Rice news stories: Chris Quinn || Cleveland Plain Dealer

    1. cwaltz

      I’ve found that if I want to be depressed and aggravated with humanity the quickest way to do it is to visit a comment section-any comment section. I’d say a solid 75% of the time commentary is negative and mean.

      It really didn’t surprise me to hear from my family that I was a much nicer, calmer person when I was offline.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It used to be that when someone bumped into me, I felt insulted. And I told them so.

        Then, the next time, when someone bumped into me, I said them (not him, and not her, singular they here), you have insulted me, but I forgive you. Go ahead, bump into me from the other side, the left cheek or the left shoulder.

        And the last time someone bumped into me, I continued my way. My friend said to me, hey, that guy just bumped into you. And I said, “huh? I didn’t even notice.”

        And my friend said to me, you could have applied nonviolent resistance. You missed an opportunity.

        I replied, ‘in some or many cases, but not this one.’

      2. fresno dan

        I think one has to remember that just like a New York hothouse grows unnatural (for the area) and rare flora and fauna by design, comments are NOT particularly representative, and are often most energetically held and advanced by the most obstinate, incurious, ignorant, and dogmatic people.
        It took me a long time to understand that FACTS play a small, small…did I say small – I meant to say microscopic, part of what most people believe. I know when I examined some of my political beliefs in light of reality, is was disconcerting and humbling to acknowledge, even only to myself, how wrong I had been about certain things. It is tough on the ego.

        I know when I admit online that I was wrong, or that I have changed my mind, the opprobrium is really bizarre and irrational. Quoting Keynes (When the evidence changes, I change my mind – what do you do, sir?”) would probably get me hunted down and assassinated. Yet in talking with real 3D people, noting that their counterpoints are valid is de rigor for normal polite conversation. In real life, one has to moderate one’s expression – unless one wants a long life of black eyes and bloody noses…

        Yet even obnoxious comments give information. I think to understand the killing of Tamir Rice, one has to understand the pond from which you fish.

        And one has to ask, what is the point of comments? Is it a profit inducing practice?
        I often learn a lot from comments, and it gives a broader and deeper understanding of how people view matters – which is often pretty illogical….
        But if one looks at people’s comments dispassionately and merely as informational, it does I think provide insights…occasionally.

        Does getting this stuff out in the open help for hurt?
        Look at
        December 2, 2015 at 9:02 am
        Bad stuff was happening before internet comments – evil people were finding each other and conspiring before internet comments.

  9. wbgonne

    “A split or a unifying leader are the only ways to end Labour’s civil war Independent”

    I think it applies at least as much to what is happening in the Democratic Party here. I do not, however, think that a charismatic leader will be sufficient to paper over the breach, not in America anyway. Obama closed that door when he deceived and then ridiculed the Left, putting the neoliberals (the Blairites) firmly in control of the party apparatus. (Witness the coronation of Hillary Clinton, who was rejected in 2008 because she was too conservative but has now been resuscitated by the man for whom she was rejected.) The rift in the Democratic Party, IMO, is complete and will become pronounced once Clinton becomes the nominee. I have the sense that the same is true in Britain but I don’t know enough to hazard the same prediction.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Not to diminish Obama’s culpability, I now think much of the damage was done by 2000. The invisible silent stolen election and the collective yawn. The doors for reform were already shut in too many ways. Obama simply sealed the deal by welding them tight.

      1. polecat

        I maintain the notion that this country of ours, is going to break apart, socially & geographically, in the not to distant future. There nothing central holding the U.S. together anymore, or all of north america for that matter.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Agreed. We have simply overcome too much inertia in a negative direction. Major events seem inevitable, the degree remains in question. We could make comparisons with past cultures and empires, but that would be overlooking the global scale of the damage that has been done as well as damage to come which can’t or won’t be stopped soon enough.

          That said, I agree that effort in the right direction remains essential.

    2. James Levy

      The problem, and it is a real problem if not an ethically neat one, is that the Right in Britain and the USA are united on key points and the opposition to those beliefs–in the sanctity of property rights over human rights, in the belief that growth and profits are the be-all and end-all of public policy, in the American Imperial Project and American Exceptionalism (which British elites embrace as warmly as US ones do)–is divided and demoralized. So, how far do we go in compromising with “the center” in order to keep the worst abuses of the Right from becoming our reality? I don’t know. But if the Left splits further, then the Right is going to steamroll the most egregious and hateful and destruction crap right through Congress, past the desk of the President, and into our reality. I still believe that some Dems and some Labourites would like to forestall that. Not many, but some, especially in the rank and file. So do I march off into Purityland and feel good about myself while Rome burns, or do I make whatever deal I can with the people out there? I’ll be damned if I know the answer. Obviously, with Obama it became clear within months that there was no compromising with him. He’s a bad dude. But does anyone imagine that Mr. 47% Romney would have been better? Hardly. So I’m stuck. Right now, Sanders is the best choice I’ve had since McGovern. Do I turn my back on that? Hell, Johnson was the most liberal president we ever had and the Left excoriated and rejected him. So we got Nixon. Again, I’m stumped. There seems nowhere to turn.

      1. wbgonne

        I speak only for myself. But I’ve had it. I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. Is that “purity”? Maybe. But I’ll say this: “impurity” has not worked. The lesser-of-two-evils defensive crouch has delivered nothing but evil and at an accelerating rate. It hasn’t worked. It isn’t working. And I see not evidence to support the view that it will work in the future. IOW: that strategy has failed. Period. It is therefore time to try something else.

        And to get down to cases: Would Romney or McCain have been worse than Obama? I doubt it. Neither of them could have accomplished for the neoliberal project what Obama has. Worse than that, as long as the Democratic Party remains the nominally “progressive” party it defines the acceptable Leftist position in America. With that understanding, Obama and the Democrats have moved the Overton Window further and further to the Right, to the point that the Left simply no longer exists in the politics or the policies of this nation. That is epic failure on every level and the strategy that delivered it is wrongheaded. In retrospect, I think we would have been far better off had Obama lost in 2008.

        Will it be ugly if the Republicans wins the White House? Yes, but it already is ugly. The Republicans — driven largely by the Democrats usurping their positions and their donors — have moved into a fantasy world. But remember this: the Democrats still can’t beat them. The GOP has the House, the Senate and the states. Why is that? I’d say it’s because the country has tuned the Democrats out altogether and the only party that matters now is the Republican Party, even though most people realize it is unhinged. That must change, all of it. And the course we have been on — supporting the Democrats no matter what — is what has brought us to this point. I won’t do it anymore. YMMV.

        I hope the Democratic Party collapses because it is beyond reform. It should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Its corpse is being animated only by the fear that the corporatists use to frighten people into continuing to accept the lesser-of-two-evils trope. Time for change. Time for hope.

        1. fresno dan

          interesting analysis.
          Of course, I have a tendency to agree. But I think I would find it interesting even if I disagreed. I mean, I can’t TOTALLY dismiss the lesser of two evils argument.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            We aren’t discussing a “lesser of two evils” in the case of small time graft (oh no, they discussed legislation at a Nats game). The GOP and Hillary/Team Blue are virtually the same, and the cultural progress made over the last 20 years has been accomplished despite Team Blue who preferred advocates for change of shut up and go away.

            Outside of Bernie, aren’t we just discussing whether Jack Nicholson’s Joker or Heath Ledger’s Joker should be in charge?

            1. fresno dan

              your right.
              If someone says they will murder me in a month…
              someone says they will murder me in a year….

              I’ll pick the year.
              Still….I think about Rahm, and I think about Clinton, and as I’ve said, any other candidate of any other party would be an improvement…

              1. wbgonne

                BUT If someone says they will murder me in a month … VERSUS someone says they will murder me in a year…. I’ll pick the year.

                And I’ll pick neither.

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          You and James do a masterful job of summing up the two sides to that argument and it’s interesting that it has by no means been settled even after 8 (at a min) years of discussion.

          I agree considerably more with Wbgonne than with James. In our current two party environment, I find the lessor evil is always, always the more effective one, the more insidiously and permanently destructive. This was described in a slightly different way by an astute comment on NC some years ago as being a ratchet mechanism made up of the two parties. The ratchet is made up of a base, a gear and a pawl. The base is our two party system, the gear is the Republican party always moving things to the right and the pawl is the Democratic party always in “lessor of evil” mode meaning for each movement, or tooth, of the gear, the Democrats lock in the rightward movement by blessing it as an imperfect compromise that is less harmful than full rotation of the wheel. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy…”(awwwk, can’t finish it).

          Overly simplified, the precedence and legitimacy given by Democrats to each successive shift of the Republican gear makes it difficult if not impossible to turn back. Hence the pawl. And so it goes. And the Democratic ruse of candidate selection with monstrous bogymen in the background, is really just a subset of the phenomenon.

          Of course when confronted by Trump or HIllary, they have successfully upped the ante (also why I think the Hill and the Trump are in cahoots) to give even the most hardened “purest” (alas, a term of bias if ever there was one, even if unintentionally used as such), will have pause.

          As an aside, I don’t think one votes for Hillary or any of the dynasties any more than one drives a car by spinning the little plastic wheel given by the good corporate parents of state. When used with Clintons or Bushes, it’s a term like break-fast. It no longer has anything to do with fasting just as voting has less and less to do with representative government.


        3. Oregoncharles

          Excellent. Saves me reconstructing the long comment I just accidentally dumped (NEVER try to edit on the sample shown below the writing box).

          Let me add: our greatest enemy is sheer, blind HABIT. People grew up with the 2-Party System, were indoctrinated into it in school (at least I was), and it still rules their thinking, even though fewer and fewer are attached to the legacy parties – below half, and still falling. Electoral laws play a part, as well, but I think habit and preconceptions are the bigger factor.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        I do and don’t agree. I don’t agree that R-tending voters are more united than D-tending voters except in their belief that the D Party is basically worthless (and so they refuse to consider the possibility that particular D candidates might actually be better than the R candidates they are running against). I know many R voters that don’t agree with your core R premises. They just instinctively think that all D’s are worthless.

        The real problem, IMNSHO, is that the D party apparatus (DPA – a new acronym I just coined) works to prevent the offering of real solutions to the problems most working people face because those real solutions require directly challenging the corporate masters that the D party apparatchiks are slaves to.

        I do agree that a rightwing steamroll is possible, if not likely. But if it comes, the DPA will have no one to blame but itself. Though of course they will publicly blame all of us who refuse to pull the HRC lever.

    3. different clue

      The same rift would open “from the other direction” if Sanders’ supporters are able to force a Sanders nomination upon an unwilling Democratic Party. The Democratic establishment will support the Republican nominee against Sanders just as the Democratic establishment supported Nixon against McGovern. I suspect Sanders knows this. I think that is why Sanders “pre-promised” to support Clinton if she were the nominee . . . so that if he gets nominated instead, his forces will be in a position to dare the Democratic establishment to support the Republican nominee while The Whole World Is Watching. And if the mainstream Democrats do that very thing, I like to think the Sanders forces will have the will and the way to hose the entire Democratic Party Establishment down with sticky napalm, and then spray some white phosphorus on it.

  10. vidimi

    the WaPo article on iraqis thinking the US is in cahoot with ISIS is precious for its lack of irony and self awareness. of course, america would never arm and assist the enemies of a government it wanted to topple. of course, no one in the west believes that.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      All kinds of howlers in that “piece.”

      Like the fact that Iraqis are “unaware” that the us is REALLY striking ISIS from the air, but they REALLY, REALLY are, (when it doesn’t “endanger” civilians, of course.)

      Or that the fact that the us hasn’t made Iraq a better place to live is an illusion created by IRANIAN “propagandists” and “conspiracy theorists.”

      But my favorite is a new one: due to “regional complexities,” “OUTCOMES ARE OFTEN CONFUSED WITH INTENTIONS.”

      Time for more boots on the ground. It would “appear” that some Iraqis are still capable of rational thought.

      1. fresno dan

        All I can think is that the US government has a limitless supply of blue pills
        (hmmmm – I get it mixed up – the analogy is from the Matrix and I think it was if Neo took the BLUE pill he would remain in the world of unreality… what I’m trying to say is the press is on some kind of drug that keeps them from seeing BULLsh*t!!!)

      2. polecat

        i would settle for boots up the a$$ of these crazy morons…throw anyone in congress who votes for “more boots on the ground” to be suited up and paradropped to where the action is……..that includes bomb bomb mccain & the war faggot !!!

    2. fresno dan

      As the entire press has been lobotomized, we will never get the expose of how the entire press has been lobotomized….

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Much wailing and gnashing of teeth (and flapping of gums) on morning joe this a.m. from members of the professional “journalistic” class.

        It seems the public is no longer buying the “facts” as checked by these illustrious “reporters.”

        The lament (I am paraphrasing): WE, the PRESS, are the “fact checkers,” and people are refusing to believe the “facts” we have “checked” specifically because it is WE who have checked them.

        The conclusion seems to be that there are too many “alternative” sources of “information.” No mention was made of judith miller.

        1. polecat

          is any wonder why feinstein & co.want encoeded into law that only ‘state(congress,cough) sanctioned’ journalists can testify before said congress……..they think we’re stupid?!

        2. fresno dan

          It does seem to me that they make themselves irrelevant.
          There is written Obama administration Syria policy. People may not like, it may be vague, it may be contradictory in parts.

          How hard is it for the press to ask, specifically, for a Rubio, Cruz, whoever, WRITTEN Syria policy, with the differences with the Obama administration highlighted.

          But instead we get questions like what will your policy in the mideast be.
          And we get pablum answers about how candidate A will be strong, form a coalition, remove Assad forthwith, make America great again, eliminate terrorism, etc., etc.,

          Or a specific example is with Carson, where Carson was criticized by the press, rather extensively, by the press for not naming specific countries he will ask to join for a coalition against ISIS.
          I think that was just an idiotic critique. Bush I would not announce before Gulf War 1 who he was going to try and get into his coalition Iraq. Undoubtedly, Bush I had to wheel and deal to get allies (coalition partners), and compromise to get countries to sign on. Undoubtedly, some counties who were asked to join did not – of course, Bush I after the fact would not announce all the countries he failed to get on board – that would just make him look weak and the effort floundering. Instead, even ridiculously meager support by a coalition partner of the willing was touted as some great accomplishment – showing the world was against Saddam…
          Yet the fact that Carson was criticized for not naming who he would enlist as an ally before time really shows a REMARKABLE lack of sophistication on the part of the press.
          I don’t like Carson, and but that is just an absurd item to criticize him for. It just wasn’t a good question to begin with.

      1. JTMcPhee

        … or the oxymoronico-aptronymic “Josh Earnest…” I guess the emphasis was supposed to be on the “josh” part?

        I still favor one of our loser “Democrats” here in FL, Alex Sink…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Color me “unsurprised,” except for the fact that the LLC was incorporated in delaware and not ireland.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          Small point: it’s the Cayman Islands. Grand Cayman is the biggest one where most everybody lives. Nice weather and snorkeling but not much else to do – except launder money!

  11. Eureka Springs

    PM Abadi says Iraq does not need foreign ground troops

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday his country did not need foreign ground troops, after the United States said it was sending an elite special unit to help combat Islamic State.

    “The Iraqi government stresses that any military operation or the deployment of any foreign forces – special or not – in any place in Iraq cannot happen without its approval and coordination and full respect of Iraqi sovereignty,” Abadi said in a statement.

      1. vidimi

        Sure. They need help. But i reckon when they hear “we’re USA and we’re here to help” they have learned to run for the hills.

    1. different clue

      There is a theory that Obama wants to send special forces into Iraq in order to secretly move them further into Syria . . . in order to support the “moderate headchopping liver-eating cannibal Islamist Jihadist Democratic Opposition against the only legitimate government in Syria, which is the Syrian Arab Republic and its current President, Assad.

      Obama still supports the Axis of Jihad. Obama is still with the terrorists. So is Cameron. So is Hollande.

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    Today’s Antidote is stunning!

    And besides the beauty, owls always have an effect on me. If, in a court room, I came across that owl sitting in the judge’s chair, I’d plead guilty on the spot, “I have no idea what I did, your honor, but I promise I will never do it again!”

    1. JEHR

      It is the owl’s eyes that penetrate right through you to say nothing of those gigantic feet and claws!

      1. hidflect

        I learned the other week that owls can’t swivel their eyes which explains why they always seem to be staring intently at something..

    1. different clue

      Pray that Russia and the Coalition Of Lawful Authority can crash Turkey’s economy so fast, hard and totally as to tear down the Erdogist government and permit a Kemalist countercoup to exterminate the pro-ISIS, pro-Nusra, pro-etc. AKP scum from all the Turkish institutions which these pro terrorist Erdogists have infected and contaminated over the past few years.

  13. Jef

    The Uber method is no different than the Amazon/EBay type models they are just more blatant about it.

    Amazon/EBay have both done the same things and to imply that they are legitimate business models is ridiculous.

    All of these constructs destroy way more than they create and mostly act as a funnel of wealth from the bottom up.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “…. there is little evidence of labor shortages in many industries that use the visas….

      “In the last five years, the number of H-2 visas issued by the State Department, which administers the program along with the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department, has surged by more than 50%.”

      These programs should be abolished. Period.

      There are no labor shortages in this country that justify their continued existence. Period.

      The abuses are not “stupidity” or “incompetence.” They are deliberate.


      1. fresno dan

        I agree.
        The vaunted perfect market – except when it mistakenly results in the 0.1% having to pay someone higher wages…

        1. fresno dan

          OH!!! and one other thing

          In the last 24 hours many prominent politicians and pundits have said that they don’t want Syrian refugees to enter the United States. For example, Gov. Chris Christie has said that he doesn’t even want 5-year-old Syrian orphans to come into the country. Almost half of the country’s governors have said that they will refuse to allow Syrian refugees to come to their states. The same pattern applies in Europe where, for example, members of the new Polish government are threatening to break European law by turning away refugees.

          Many of these people claim that they don’t want to admit refugees because they fear some of them will commit violent terrorist crimes, like those that just took place in Paris.

          Yet there’s a different group of people which also appears to be highly prone to violent extremism, which isn’t getting nearly as much attention. In a forthcoming book published by Princeton University Press, Diego Gambetta, a renowned sociologist at the European University Institute in Italy, and Steffen Hertog, an associate professor at the London School of Economics, provide a new theory for why it is that engineers seem unusually prone to become involved in terrorist organizations. The following post is based on their earlier article for the European Journal of Sociology.
          Gambetta and Hertog painstakingly gather together data on individuals belonging to a variety of terrorist groups in the Muslim world. Where they are able to get the data, it displays a compelling pattern – engineers are much more prone to become members of violent terrorist organizations.

          More than twice as many members of violent Islamist organizations have engineering degrees as have degrees in Islamic studies. Nearly half of those terrorists who had degrees had degrees in engineering. Even if you make extremely generous assumptions, nine times as many terrorists were engineers as you would expect by chance. They find a similar pattern among Islamist terrorists who grew up in the West – fewer of these terrorists had college degrees, but even more of those who had degrees were engineers.

          Funny how systems to check refugees are fraught with holes and can’t be trusted.
          FUNNY how systems to let MALE ENGINEERS at the terrorist age into the country don’t have that problem….
          FUNNY how that works….ROTFL….

          I certainly think its mere coincidence – only CYNICS would think it is do to the corrupting influence of squillionaires, who pay lip service to patriotism, security, the market, etc., etc., but it is all money all the time and all about lowering wages…
          Yup, I am glad I’m not cynical….its so unbecoming…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What is the difference between a refugee and a tourist?

            We welcome tourists.

            Because they have (US) money (to spend)?

            Personally, I call for ever more vigorously screening of tourists.

            Always vigilant.

  14. Laruse

    Is the ACA in trouble? Brookings. Hilariously, the author doesn’t regard the “bewildering complexities of health insurance” as “trouble.”

    I have been wanting to share this anecdote of my own 60 year old mother’s trials with the ACA. On the surface, my Mom is the person the ACA was written for. She has a chronic illness, spent 30 years out of the workforce taking care of kids and home. After 33 years, Dad split for a younger, healthier wife leaving Mom without means of income or more importantly, insurance. The ACA kicks in, she gets coverage and subsidies! Hooray!

    Then came renewal time. Anthem sent her a new annual premium estimate in October showing her premium DOUBLING from the previous year. We all agreed she should shop around, and so to Google she went. She had a very hard time getting any quotes from the MarketPlace, but she finally found a company that sounded reasonable and promised a precise quote if she entered her phone number. She did, the phone rang instantly, and my 60 year old not-savvy mother got the hard-core press from a sales rep online. They got everything out of her, up to and including her bank account and routing number. She expressly declined to accept their deal, but it was too late. They had everything they needed to begin sucking money out of her account.

    I happen to work for a state regulator so I picked up very quickly on the scam and I knew exactly which attorney in my office to get help from and my name was drop-worthy enough to get a speedy response from the Bureau of Insurance here. They confirmed very quickly, the company is unregistered and unlicensed in our state, has been investigated before, but not yet successfully brought down.

    It just so happened on the same day I started helping Mom take regulatory action, her renewal notice from Anthem came in, this time with her corrected premium — almost exactly in line with where it was last year.

    So the confusion with Anthem sent my Mom down a path into getting scammed, losing $300, changing her bank account, debit card, going through the hassle of fixing all her auto-debit bills, and so forth.

    I asked the attorney I work with what anyone could do to protect themselves from a scam like the one my Mom encountered if they didn’t have the background and connections I had. Her answer? “Nothing much.”

    It shouldn’t have to be this hard.

  15. Jim Haygood

    What’s remarkable in Sheldon Silver’s conviction was the anachronistic spectacle of a “trial,” in a regime that “Justice” Anthony Kennedy described as a “system of plea bargains, not trials.” Curious, I unearthed this blurb from a month ago:

    Federal prosecutors sent indicted state politician Sheldon Silver a letter laying out his likely sentence if he pleaded guilty on all corruption charges — but he never responded, they revealed in court Friday.

    “More than a month ago the government sent the defendant a . . . letter and no response was given,” assistant US Attorney Carrie Cohen said during the last pretrial hearing before Silver’s trial next week, adding, “Defense counsel has never asked for a plea ­offer.”

    This seems unusual. For little people that get indicted, there’s nearly always a plea offer, since the conviction machine simply can’t handle the volume of trials needed to keep our capacious Gulag fed and healthy.

    In Silver’s case, one could infer that the prosecutor wanted a trial. Prosecutors live for publicly ruining politicians, doctors and celebrities, being politicians themselves (as former prosecutors Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie demonstrate).

    Normally the price for refusing a plea bargain and getting convicted is getting hit with maximum sentences. In Silver’s case, that could be 140 years. (No, he’s not an ax murderer. America just has absurdly high penalties for non-violent crimes.) He may get carried out of the federal prison is a casket, an increasingly common fate in a Gulag as large and splendid as ours.

    1. Vatch

      Prosecutors live for publicly ruining politicians, doctors and celebrities

      Perhaps. There was the Martha Stewart prosecution, of course. But there aren’t many prosecutions of billionaires, bank executives, or hedgies.

    2. wbgonne

      This seems unusual. For little people that get indicted, there’s nearly always a plea offer, since the conviction machine simply can’t handle the volume of trials needed to keep our capacious Gulag fed and healthy. In Silver’s case, one could infer that the prosecutor wanted a trial.

      I don’t know the details regarding the letter the prosecutors sent but this doesn’t sound that unusual to me. From the Post article it says that the prosecutors’s letter laid out the penalties if there was a guilty plea. So it seems as though the prosecutors did broach the possibility of a plea agreement and that was the purpose of the letter they sent. But when the defendant didn’t respond — as here — that’s typically the end of the matter. You may be correct that the prosecutors wanted the trial — not too surprising since 1) high-profile cases have maximum general deterrent effect; and 2) (as you note) many prosecutors like being on TV.

  16. fresno dan

    The expiration of his gag order also allowed him to publish an unredacted copy of the ruling ending the gag, which was released in redacted form in September. Comparing the two lets us see what the government believed had to be redacted in September. Not only does it show how ridiculous were FBI’s claims of secrecy, but also makes it clear FBI used such claims to hide the fact that the judge in the case, Victor Marrero, was mocking the stupidity of its claims.

    As another example of the extreme and overly broad character of these redactions, the Government apparently believes that while the public can know that it seeks records of an “address” and a “telephone number,” there is a “good reason” to prevent disclosure of the fact that the Government can seek “addresses” and “telephone numbers.” (See Gov’t Mem. Attach.) In any event, based on the Government’s redactions alone, a potential target of an investigation, even a dim-witted one, would almost certainly be able to determine, simply by running through the alphabet, that “telephone numberll” could only be “telephone numbers.” Redactions that defy common sense such as concealing a single letter at the end of a word diminish the force of the Government’s claim to “good reason” to keep information under seal, and undermine its argument that disclosure of the currently-redacted information in the Attachment can be linked to a substantial risk of an enumerated harm.
    Here’s the thing though: the last two of these redactions were not hiding secret information at all. Instead, they (plus the phone number comments, though technically those included top secret information about the FBI obtaining telephone numbers, plural) served to hide the fact that Marrero was making fun of the FBI’s batshit claims.

    Its not about doing good – its about LOOKING like your doing good…

    Another big batch of Hillary emails were released Monday.
    And what it reveals is that she is fairly intelligent and knowledgeable. But it also reveals she is subject to the same shortcoming of vanity, hubris, and ego, if not MORE so (perhaps necessarily so, being a politician), than any other human. One can see the same thing in Rahm trying to keep under wraps something that seems obvious would come out – and the “coverup” obviously makes it worse.

    Government can’t solve a lot of problems – but asserts that it can. Our Best and brightest” think we can go to Syria, and have it turn out better than Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya….which is some remarkable self delusion and demonstrates that a lifetime of self interest and indoctrination can make people believe anything.

    Or that we can prevent terrorism if we just monitor EVERYBODY’s phone calls…
    Hiding stupid/evil seems to be more and more the mission of American government

    1. JTMcPhee

      I used to be a FOIA officer for the US EPA. No surprise that the idiocy gets bigger and broader and now that it’s clear that there’s practically no way short of a very brave judge and very persistent seeker after public information to get any kind of transparency, the Impunitists are making a joke out of it.

      I’m always reminded of the bit in “Catch-22” where Yossarian gets assigned to “censor” the letters of his fellow Army Air Corps officers and troops, spends whole days extirpating just the articles, or the adverbs, then forges the signature of the sad sack chaplain, “T.T. Tapman,” to deflect the consequences to a fellow mope.

      Of course, Yossarian needed a job once he got back to the states (if he ever did…) So, “CIA Hires Yossarian To Censor Torture Report,” I wonder what pay grade he came in at…

      1. fresno dan

        Thanks for that. – I imagine you could tell stories that would make people’s hair stand on end.
        There is nothing like being a government employee to make one lose all faith in government…

  17. cenobite

    Re: the pro-airbnb vote in SF

    More apparent than real. I know several San Franciscans who hated airbnb and voted no. Why? It was a bad law.

    Narcing on your neighbors is no way to make healthy neighborhoods.

    Personally I think a combination of zoning laws and licensing of innkeepers in residential neighborhoods is the way to go here.

    1. Katniss Everdeen


      It’s the “sharing” economy. It’s disruptive. They don’t need no stinkin’ license.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What if you only need to take a shower or relieve yourself after a good outdoor workout?

      Any apps for that?

    3. hunkerdown

      We’re not talking about violating the bourgeois tastes of homeowners associations, here. Narcing on one’s neighbors for disrupting the commons is the only way to make healthy neighborhoods. Perhaps you’re thinking of dormitories.

  18. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Is the ACA in trouble? Brookings.

    “And it means that federal regulators need to write regulations to discourage individual customers from practices that unfairly saddle insurers with risks, such as buying insurance outside open-enrollment periods designed for exceptional circumstances and then dropping coverage a few months later.

    So, while united health’s “threat of departure” from ACA participation may result in a “regrettable” loss of “competition” in the program, or may be used to “negotiate ‘favorable terms’ with states and the Administration,” (read BLACKMAIL) the federal response should be to attack those americans who’ve figured out how to work the system from the other end.

    Boo hoo. UNFAIRLY saddling those poor insurers with RISKS.

    Sounds a lot like being a savvy “healthcare ‘consumer’ ” with “skin in the game” to me.

    It may be that the aca has done what no amount of explanation/discussion has been able to do before–expose “healthcare” insurance as the over-hyped, over-priced scam that it’s always been.

  19. afisher

    Pando article on Uber Transportation disrupt should be required reading – as this article is mostly the response they received…and they printed /posted it entirely. Want to learn about an industry – ask the people with decades of experience? TL:DR is no excuse – unless you just want pie.

  20. rich

    For all you whistle blowers out there….something to consider:

    Former SAC Analyst Who Aided U.S. in Probe Sentenced to Jail

    The government’s seven-year crackdown on insider trading came to an unofficial end as a judge sentenced one last defendant — a former hedge fund analyst who helped the U.S. build a case against SAC Capital Advisors LP — to 21 days behind bars.

    The fund manager, Richard Choo-Beng Lee, pleaded guilty in October 2009 and then provided what prosecutors said was “substantial assistance” in sometimes overlapping insider probes. Most significantly, he made secret recordings of telephone calls to SAC founder and owner Steven A. Cohen and documented the firm’s culture of “institutional indifference” to unlawful conduct, prosecutors said. SAC later pleaded guilty to insider trading.

    U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan on Wednesday rejected Lee’s plea to avoid prison altogether.

    His lawyer argued that Lee was being treated more harshly than others who aided the government’s probe.

    just us…tells you everything you need to survive and thrive.

  21. Jim Haygood

    J-Yel: hiking rates “because we can.”

    Short-term Treasury yields hit 5½-year highs Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen indicated that the central bank’s first interest-rate hike in nearly a decade remains likely when policy makers meet in mid-December.

    In a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, Yellen said she expects the economy to continue to grow over the forecast horizon, adding more jobs and bringing inflation back up toward the central bank’s 2% annual target.

    Purchasing Manager’s Index below 50? Inflation at zero? GDP growth weak?

    No problem! We control the horizontal and the vertical, as we explore the Outer Limits of monetary malpractice.

    One word, Janet: 1937.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        More growth, so these 125 million people too will have their day in the sun… hopefully.

        If not, just repeat and grow more, print more and spend more.

        One of these days, the leaking plumbing will fix itself and money will finally trickle down to them.

  22. Oregoncharles

    “Instead of displacing competitors through actual efficiencies, or by creating entirely new markets,” –

    This doesn’t really apply to Air-Bnb, which is more like EBay: it adds so much efficiency to the process that it opens up a whole new market. It allows people who would otherwise have difficulty renting out that extra room without getting a permanent room mate, to make some extra cash, and multiplies the temporary beds available in certain cities. As we saw, that’s very appealing in high-cost cities, especially if they’re also tourist draws.

    Uber is similar in theory, but the costs are much higher. I don’t take taxis enough to fully appreciate it, but I can imagine ordering from your phone is a lot more appealing than trying to flag a taxi; and there’s the extra income for the drivers – but at a much higher cost in both time and upkeep.

    I can see how these approaches are exploitative, but I’m also going to be subversive here: licensing systems exist, in large part, to constrict the supply and create monopoly rents, even when they have safety features*. They’re guilds, for both good and bad. They need to be rethought. Whether Uber and Airbnb are the way to do it is the real question, to my mind.

    *I was a licensed landscape contractor for many years, until the state raised the ante on me (thanks to lobbying from the big boys) just about the time I felt like retiring. As it turned out, my partner picked up the burden; he’s younger and needed to keep the business going. I still work, essentially based on his license, but not all that much. Anyway, I do know about licensing systems. I imagine Yves does, too, since she was an investment advisor.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know if this will be a ten-bagger idea, but what about AirCafe?

      “Tonight, I have no spare rooms but have only Souvlaki and Kabsa to offer. A great deal at $1.00 a pound. Bring your own plates.”

    2. tim s

      I’d imagine that most cab companies have a number to call to have a cab computer-dispatched to your location. This was the case when I drove for Yellow-Checker twenty years ago. There was even an automated call to your phone when the cabbie indicates that they are at the location.

      1. Oregoncharles

        So Uber’s real advantage is that it dodges the licensing system. My main point applies, but companies shouldn’t be allowed to profit from breaking the law, and in fact some cities have kept them out.

      2. vidimi

        also, there already are apps like hailo for ordering licensed cabs on your phone. they keep raising the minimum spend, though.

  23. perpetualWAR

    Mortgages Layoffs Bribes

    Glad to see the MSM calling things as they are: “bribes.” Now only if we can get them to use the terms: “fraud” and “forgery” perhaps those of us fighting the banksters can get somewhere.

  24. Oregoncharles

    Labour and the Syria bombing vote: “One email, seen by The Telegraph, which was sent to more than 100 Labour MPs, stated: “We the Labour Party members will then deselect those Labour Party MPs who voted for the bombing of Syria because these MPs caused the blood on the hands of all Labour Party members. It is as simple as that.” ”

    Isn’t that exactly the way it’s supposed to work? I don’t know the details in Britain, but I assume that’s equivalent to our primary system. This isn’t “bullying” – it’s classic politics, the way the membership asserts itself.

    The real problem is that it’s almost 5 years to the next election, so the conflict between membership and “representatives” is likely to go on that long. At that point, we can expect a very high turnover in Labour candidates. In the meantime, evidently the campaign is working – the number planning to vote for bombing has fallen precipitously.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Beijing and smog.

    From Wiki on censers:

    The boshanlu (博山爐 “universal mountain censer” or boshan xianglu 博山香爐) or hill censer, which became popular during the era of Emperor Wu of Han (r. 141-87 BCE), displayed a microcosmic sacred mountain (esp. Mount Kunlun or Mount Penglai). These elaborate censers were designed with apertures that made rising incense smoke appear like clouds or mist swirling around a mountain peak.[4] The Han Dynasty scholar Liu Xiang wrote a (c. 40 BCE) boshanlu inscription:

    I value this perfect utensil, lofty and steep as a mountain! Its top is like Hua Shan in yet its foot is a bronze plate. It contains rare perfumes, red flames and green smoke; densely ornamented are its sides, and its summit joins azure heaven. A myriad animals are depicted on it. Ah, from it sides I can see ever further than Li Lou [who had legendary eyesight].[5]

    Archeologists excavated many (c. second century BCE) boshanlu at Mawangdui, and some contained the remains of ashes. Analysis revealed aromatic plants such as maoxiang (茅香 “Imperata cylindrica, thatch grass”), gaoliangjiang (高良薑 “Galangal”), xinyi (辛夷 “Magnolia liliiflora, Mulan magnolia), and gaoben (藁本”Ligusticum sinense, Chinese lovage”). Scholars presume burning these grasses “may have facilitated communication with spirits” during funeral ceremonies.[6]

    According to the sinologist and historian Joseph Needham, some early Daoists adapted censers for the religious and spiritual use of cannabis. The (ca. 570 CE) Daoist encyclopedia Wushang Biyao (無上秘要 “Supreme Secret Essentials”), recorded adding cannabis into ritual censers.[7] The Shangqing School of Daoism provides a good example. The Shangqing scriptures were written by Yang Xi (楊羲, 330-386 CE) during alleged visitations by Daoist “immortals”, and Needham believed Yang was “aided almost certainly by cannabis”.[8] Tao Hongjing (陶弘景, 456-536 CE), who edited the official Shangqing canon, also complied the Mingyi bielu (名醫別錄 “Supplementary Records of Famous Physicians”). It noted that mabo (麻勃 “cannabis flowers”), “are very little used in medicine, but the magician-technicians ([shujia] 術家) say that if one consumes them with ginseng it will give one preternatural knowledge of events in the future.“[9] Needham concluded,

    Thus all in all there is much reason for thinking that the ancient Taoists experimented systematically with hallucinogenic smokes, using techniques which arose directly out of liturgical observance. … At all events the incense-burner remained the centre of changes and transformations associated with worship, sacrifice, ascending perfume of sweet savour, fire, combustion, disintegration, transformation, vision, communication with spiritual beings, and assurances of immortality. Wai tan and nei tan met around the incense-burner. Might one not indeed think of it as their point of origin?[10]

    It took a long time for Dao De Jing to generate into the Daoist religion, many have remarked.

    But the image of the paradise of the sacred mountain shrouded in mist (the smog kind or not) lingers on. Those in Beijing may be meditating on this.

  26. Lakecabs

    Has Pander missed the Uber problem?

    Now imagine if the wealthy invester is free money from the Fed.

    If Uber goes under you can bet the debt wil find its way to the Fed’s balance sheet.

    How can small business compete with that?

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Re: …“you can bet the debt will find its way to the Fed’s balance sheet.”

      Timely comment, Lakecabs. Although Uber has arranged convertible debt financing of well over $1 billion according to wikipedia, however, I suspect the Fed is primarily concerned about bigger fish than Uber with this recent policy revision. I think it likely relates to corporate personhood alright, but perhaps the Fed’s revised money distribution policy also pertains to a few individuals who could incur outsized losses on their speculations.

      In any event, the recipients will probably not be featured on the evening News should the “unforeseeable” occur.

  27. flora

    Pando on Uber:

    Uber-type companies need to be understood as a radical departure from Amazon/EBay type models. Instead of displacing competitors through actual efficiencies, or by creating entirely new markets, its model is entirely based on getting the world to believe that it will inevitably dominate the entire industry. This requires aggressively suppressing any discussion of empirical economic evidence (which would undermine its case) and emphasizing the factors driving inevitability–the brilliance of its early stage investors, the ruthlessness of management, and the raw political power of the company’s wealthy supporters. ….

    Sounds exactly like PE.
    Uber: PE on wheels.

  28. Skippy

    Key member of Swedish Academy of Sciences calls for immediate suspension of the “Nobel Prize for Economics”
    October 11, 2015 Edward Fullbrook Leave a comment Go to comments

    Bo Rothstein, an important member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, has today in Sweden’s most widely read newspaper called for an immediate declaration of a moratorium on the awarding of Sveriges Riksbank Prize for Economics in the name of Nobel and the Nobel Foundation.

    Rothstein’s article argues that today with increasing success, economics as commonly taught in universities and endorsed by most winners of the economics prize promotes corruption in societies around the world. Therefore he concludes that the Nobel Foundation’s awarding the economics prize is “in direct conflict with what Alfred Nobel decreed in his will.”

    “I will,” writes Rothstein, “therefore now take the initiative in this matter.”

    Below is a Google-translation of Rothstein’s article. If someone can provide us with a better translation, we will post it.

    Skippy… distant drums – ?????

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