Links 12/3/15 + CalPERS Debunks Private Equity Note

Dear readers,

I’d planned four posts in the CalPERS Debunks Private Equity series (on its November workshop for the board) for this week and the last ones for next week. You’ll still get four this week, but not Monday through Thursday, as I’d thought. The posts on Robert Klausner, which were a big effort too, plus the Harry Shearer taping yesterday added up to enough that I need a wee respite, so we’ll resume with CalPERS tomorrow.

Crocodile eats a dog on a South Florida golf course McClatchy. Chuck L: “In addition to golf courses and the Everglades, aren’t Florida crocodiles also found in the Tallahassee state house?”

The economics of Star Wars: Modeling and systems risk analysis suggest financial ruin for the Galactic Empire PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Our Fight for Survival: Ahead of COP21, confronting fossil capital is our only hope for averting cataclysmic climate change Jacobin (Sid S)

Rich countries pressured to pay poor nations for climate havoc at COP21 National Observer (Sid S)


Running out of puff: China can’t inflate yet more speculative bubbles to disguise the structural problems in its economy South China Morning Post. David L: “A bit dated but still relevant.”

RMB in SDR, Now What? Institute for New Economic Thinking

Is the IMF Cutting Corners for China? WSJ Economics


Greeks strike over pension reform as discontent over cuts swells ekathimerini

Is Grexit Back on the Table? Marc Chandler

Portugal: the Left Takes Charge Counterpunch


U.K. Lawmakers Vote to Begin Airstrikes in Syria Against Islamic State Wall Street Journal

The Wishful Thinking War: a Briefing on Syria to Members of Parliament Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch

Splashback: Why bombing IS will spread it Middle East Eye

‘Islamic State is the dirt of Imperialism’ failed evolution

Why Turkey Stabbed Russia in the Back teleSUR (margarita)

Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats: “Either [Turkey] Shouldn’t Be in NATO or We Shouldn’t” George Washington

White House rejects Pentagon plan to close Guantanamo prison: WSJ Reuters (EM)

Wahhabi religious nationalism turns ugly Politoco (margarita)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘Dear Daddy…’ Max Zuckerberg’s Letter back to her Father The Register (Dr. Kevin)

Google’s new computer ‘vision’ tech is very cool and somewhat terrifying Business Insider

Court documents reveal oversight body struggling to control GCHQ domestic hacking Privacy International (EM)


Hillary Clinton’s Ghosts: A Legacy of Pushing the Democratic Party to the Right Truthout (RR)

Will Hillary Clinton Do More For Black America Than Did Obama? Is That A Low Enough Bar? Real News Network

Latest Poll: Sanders Handily Trounces All Top Republicans—Yeah, Including Trump Alternet

Senator Bernie Sanders on GOP Budget Proposal C-Span (Kevin C)

Obamacare “Observations” and the Elusive Search for Improvements; Seniors Beware Michael Shedlock. Another way to victimize patients.

Museum of Political Corruption. Chuck L also points to this related piece: New Yorkers May Soon Be Able To Buy Kickbacks … As Souvenirs NPR

Utility steps up efforts to plug massive California methane leak Reuters (EM)

White-Collar Crime: Obama Administration Memo Urging Prosecutions Doesn’t Scare Firms That Defend Corporate Executives David Sirota, International Business Times

San Barnardino

San Bernardino Shooting: Two Suspects Dead After Gun Battle Wall Street Journal

Couple Kept Tight Lid on Plans for California Shooting New York Times

San Bernardino Shooting: Male and Female Suspected Killers Dead After Shootout With Police Alternet

Woman Killed in Savannah in Yet Another Mass Shooting Today Gawker. I hate being right about this, but years ago, I predicted random increases in violence as the likely response to the crappy post-crisis economy and rising inequality, not revolution or meaningful economic protests. But it’s still shocking to see it happening on this scale, and this sort of thing feeds on itself (as in it has become legitimated in a perverse sort of way)>

Mass shootings occur daily in the US International Business Times


Janet Yellen Says Economy Is Ripe for Fed Interest Rate Increase New York Times

Janet Yellen’s Confidence in the U.S. Economy Atlantic

Interest Rate Policy Uncertainties Satyajit Das, EconoMonitor

Have central banks lost their ability to control inflation? Bruegel

Oil prices tumble to five-year low as Opec gathers in Vienna Telegraph

Saudis throw down oil production cut challenge Financial Times

Junk Bonds Having Worst Year Since 2008 Crisis: Three Red Flags Pam Martens and Russ Martens (Glenn F)

S&P downgrades raft of US banks Financial Times

The Politics of Indirect Auto Lending and the CFPB Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Class Warfare

10 Moral Crises That Have Resulted From Unfettered, Free Market Capitalism Alternet (RR)

Extreme inequality fueling climate change: Oxfam study Ricochet (Sid S)

Antidote du jour. A blue dragon! See story (margarita):

blue dragon links photo

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Jessica

    “The economics of Star Wars: Modeling and systems risk analysis suggest financial ruin for the Galactic Empire”

    On the one hand, I was entertained. On the other hand, I was appalled at the level of sociological ignorance to assume that an interstellar empire would run on the same principles as one confined to a single planet. Galactic TINA.

    1. Will

      What assumptions did he make that you found particularly unrealistic?

      Only one major error really struck me, and it would apply to the US just as well as a galactic empire: he assumes that once both death stars are blown up, the empire gov’t will no longer be able to pay the debts it presumably took on to finance their construction. This isn’t true though, so long as the government’s income stream stays stable or at least high enough to cover costs (including debt payments). The destruction of military equipment alone doesn’t imply the equipment’s construction debt can’t be paid.

      Military equipment’s financial “yield” is tax or other revenue extracted from subjugated peoples, directly or indirectly (i.e., the conquered folks can pay taxes directly, or a local government can give preferential treatment to the conqueror’s multi-national companies which, depending on the tax system, may yield extra taxes to the conquering country). To show that the death stars’ construction debts can’t be paid, the analyst would have to…
      1) ‘show’ / assume (because this is a fantasy discussion) the debt would have been payable if the battle stations survived because they would have guaranteed enough extra income stream to pay off the battle station construction financing costs
      2) ‘show’ that the empire would lose so much tax revenue after losing 2 battle-stations’ worth of military power that it could no longer pay those creditors.

      In the end, it seems like the creditors are creditors of the government, not of some separate battle-station-owning entity that becomes instantly insolvent when the death stars go poof, and so bailouts aren’t automatically required. If the rebels take over, and can maintain the same tax revenue the empire had previously, a) the financiers are fine, and b) the rebels probably won’t represent a substantial improvement over the emperor to most people.

      Rather than bailouts, I’d expect inflation to occur, which seems a natural result of such intense military spending in any context. If the rebels really are the ‘good guys’, fighting for the poor and downtrodden, they’d probably want a ‘collapse’ of sorts anyway – devolving power to the galactic-regional or even planetary level so that individuals can have more influence over the issues that affect them.

      Interesting thought experiment. Anyone have suggestions?

      1. craazyboy

        Well, Galactic Empires aren’t like households! The Sith are MMTers.

        Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Which Fiat?

              The Fiat Crossover came in last on the Consumer Report’s Reliability list.

      2. bdy

        Given Paris talks it’s naive to imagine free market capitalism could even escape a gravity well, much less leave a galactic footprint. Fermi’s paradox and Occam’s razor say space aliens infiltrated and invented the USA to keep us monkeys out of their hair.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Star Wars.

      The depressing fact is that, even with more science and more technology, it’s still that eternal struggle against bad guys, just like today (probably worse, as evidently outright slavery still exists on Tatooine).

      1. Massinissa

        During the Republic, slavery was outlawed officially, but places like Tatooine was so far from the galactic center like Coruscant that many laws just didn’t apply.

        The Empire banned human slavery, arguably more efficiently and effectively than the Republic did, but used slavery of certain alien species considered to be intellectually inferior for hard labor, with slavery of Wookiees being the most prominent.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks for the clarification.

          Still, one shudders to think about the ecological disasters like the blown up Death Stars.

  2. bwilli123

    Also perhaps of interest on China.
    ” …But if financial sector reforms fail to result in a sharp improvement in the efficiency of lending, and if Beijing does not permit the economy to slow rapidly, it will be almost impossible to keep debt from rising significantly. Even assuming that higher debt levels do not generate financial distress costs that depress economic growth further (an assumption with which I strongly disagree), there is a real question about whether China can continue another five years without sharply adjusting its growth model during this time…”

  3. john

    I picked up a random couple stranded in the rain (waiting for a bus) in my local convenience store yesterday.

    He surprisingly remarked that “If they could buy the price of gas down, then they would.” I replied that they already had, as readers here know happened.

    What I find myself remembering is us all laughing at Newt Gingrich’s campaign promise (2012?) for $2-2.50 dollar gasoline.

  4. wbgonne

    Our Fight for Survival: Ahead of COP21, confronting fossil capital is our only hope for averting cataclysmic climate change Jacobin (Sid S)

    Yet another outstanding Jacobin article. Here is our great progressive leader in action, transforming mandatory cuts into voluntary ones:

    At the eleventh hour of COP15, however, the United States won over the leaders of Brazil, South Africa, India, and China to the opposite approach: countries would henceforth set their own targets and then freely decide whether to actually reduce their emissions. In a veritable coup d’êtat, under the leadership of Barack Obama, the five nations secretly developed a Copenhagen Accord along those lines and presented it to the rest of the world as a fait accompli.

    And consider this:

    The EU, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the whole global architecture of neoliberal institutions is replete with mechanisms for punishing countries that fail to honor their obligations, but on this particular issue — averting cataclysmic breakdown of the biosphere as we know it — there shall be freedom.

    1. Skippy

      In some lesser blogs where freedom and liberty ring… battle cry… AGW wants to tax my wealth… insert authentic frontier gibberish after to flesh out argument…

      1. wbgonne

        In some lesser blogs where freedom and liberty ring… battle cry… AGW wants to tax my wealth

        Makes sense. It will take a lot of money to relocate to another planet.

    2. Steve H.

      From the ‘revolutionary implications’ link in the article:

      In several important respects the modelling community is self-censoring its research to conform to the dominant political and economic paradigm.

        1. Skippy

          What is the IS-LM et al supported by the gate keepers from the Fed after decades of network effects…

          Skippy… the money nexus is like a maypole which everything else is hung from….

        2. giantsquid

          For instance:

          “As it stands, the expedient and ubiquitous use of
          speculative negative emissions to expand the
          available 2°C carbon budgets, implies a deeply
          entrenched and systemic bias in favour of
          delivering politically palatable rather than
          scientifically balanced emission scenarios.
          Nowhere is this more evident than in the IPCC’s
          scenario database11. Of the 113 scenarios with a
          “likely” chance (66% or better) of 2°C (with 3
          removed due to incomplete data), 107 (95%)
          assume the successful and large-scale uptake of
          negative emission technologies”

          A version of this paper has now been published in Nature Geoscience behind a paywall. The entire article is worth reading.

          1. Skippy

            Groan @ Game Theory… Nash’s an “equilibrium of fear agreement”

            Robert Pindyck argues that IAMs are problematic and “close to useless as tools for policy analysis”. He argues that “IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision that is illusory, and can fool policy-makers into thinking that the forecasts the models generate have some kind of scientific legitimacy

            Skippy…. Crapola… is everything devolving into neoclassical mathematized – bastardized [hiving off risk] Austrian philosophy… are – WE – all forced to be elucidated – too – by the equivalent of the Bible Code… barf~~~

            1. giantsquid

              I don’t understand. Where does ‘game theory’ come into this? Anderson is only showing that a large percentage of the climate models included in the IPCC report are biased by highly optimistic speculative input with regard to humanity’s ability to sequester greenhouse gases. In fact, I’m certain that Anderson would reject an ensemble forecast of climate change using these models as it would almost certainly yield an unduly optimistic result.

                1. giantsquid

                  Firstly, Pindyck appears to be primarily concerned with the “damage function” included in these models, which seems short-sighted to say the least. He suggests that “starting with some scenario for GHG emissions (e.g., no abatement), we could therefore begin by considering a plausible range of catastrophic outcomes, as measured by percentage declines in GDP broadly defined” where the extinction of species, for instance, is monetized so that it can be included as part of GDP. Pathetic. Secondly, he attacks in a lazy, off-hand manner that is disrespectful and either ignorant or dishonest given that the business as usual scenario laid out in that study. (He also repeats the myth that the study indicated that “we will eventually run out of these resources. In fact, partly because of population growth, we are likely to run out very soon”. It doesn’t. Furthermore, research from the University of Melbourne has found the book’s forecasts are largely accurate, 40 years on.


                  Thirdly, obviously there are uncertainties involved in modeling climate which is why it’s a good thing that a fairly vast multiplicity of climate models have been published and can be evaluated by other experts. Pindyck fails to mention that these models – at least those used by the IPCC – must exhibit a high degree of accuracy in representing past climate. So no this is not exactly like the Bible Code. Finally, Pindyck does want to rely on models that are developed by experts, just simpler models, i.e. dumbed down so that even an economist can follow. This is odd since if climate science experts actually thought that simpler models could be relied on, given that they’re experts, they’d already be doing so.

                  1. Skippy

                    The issue is not climate models, but as shown below, the in-corporation of game theory [economic] models for policy formation.

                    1. giantsquid

                      With regard to using ensemble models, as the IPCC does, I have no opinion. But based on the opinions Pindyck expressed in this paper on other matters, I’d look elsewhere for opinions on the matter of ensemble forecasting.

                    2. Skippy

                      “I’d look elsewhere for opinions on the matter of ensemble forecasting.”

                      Funny you should say that…

                      “And this brings us to the case of John Forbes Nash Jr. Nash – who many will remember from the film (or the book on which it was based) A Beautiful Mind, which depicted his struggles with paranoid schizophrenia – played perhaps the most significant role in the development of post-war neoclassical economics.

                      On October 12th 1950, Nash delivered a paper on game theory to the Cowles Commission – a group of mathematical economists who were intent on formalising the discipline. What Nash gave this audience was a means to close off the theoretical edifice of neoclassical economics once and for all – something that previous generations of neoclassicals had been unable to do and which leading figures like John von Neumann and John Maynard Keynes had essentially declared impossible.

                      Nash employed some fancy mathematics to do this, of course, but, like all applications of mathematics, it was in the assumptions buried within the equations where the truly relevant assumptions lay.

                      First Nash assumed a fearful and paranoid universe where everyone was constantly scrutinising each other and weighing up what each would do next. In Nash – as in any paranoid universe – there was a total elimination of trust. In their book Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World the economists Yanis Varoufakis, Joseph Haveli and Nicholas Theocrakis, put it as such:

                      Nash proves that bargainers [that is, economic agents] will only settle for an equilibrium of fear agreement and then proves that there exists only one such agreement: his solution to the bargaining problem. [Authors’ emphasis]

                      In his book Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science, the historian of economic ideas, Philip Mirowski, ties this directly to the ‘paranoid style’, as portrayed by Vannoy Adams above:

                      The Nash solution concept was not a drama scripted by Luigi Pirandello or a novel by Robert Musil; it was much closer to a novella by Thomas Pynchon. Just as von Neumann’s minimax solution is best grasped as the psychology of the reluctant duelist, the Nash solution is best glossed as the rationality of the paranoid. Nash appropriated the notion of a strategy as an algorithmic program and pushed it to the nth degree.

                      From these paranoid premises where all trust is eliminated and all action taken on the basis of perpetual fear, Nash then slips in an assumption that completes the circle and makes his vision of the economic agent truly in line by assuming telepathy on the part of the actor. From Modern Political Economics:

                      [Nash’s proof] only holds water if we can assume that [the economic agents] can potentially share common knowledge of the probability of no agreement [taking place when one agents threatens another]. But how can they, given that [each agent] has an incentive to overrepresent it [in order to strengthen their bargaining position]? As rationality alone cannot bring about such common knowledge, something closer to telepathy is necessary.[Author’s emphasis]

                      Or, Mirowski again:

                      In the grips of paranoia, the only way to elude the control of others is unwavering eternal vigilance and hyperactive simulation of the thought processes of the Other. Not only must one monitor the relative ‘dominance’ of one’s own strategies, but vigilance demands the complete and total reconstruction of the thought processes of the Other – without communication, without interaction, without cooperation – so that one could internally reproduce (or simulate) the very intentionality of the opponent as a precondition for choosing the best response. An equilibrium point is attained when the solitary thinker has convinced himself that the infinite regress of simulation, dissimulation, and countersimulation has reached a fixed point, a situation where his simulation of the response of the Other coincides with the other’s own understanding of his optimal choice. Everything must fit into a single interpretation, come hell or high water.[My emphasis]

                      Welcome to the concentration camp in which telepathy reigns and all privacy melts into ether!

                      We should, of course, take this as a powerful critique of the game theoretic foundations of modern neoclassical doctrine – foundations which were then built upon by Nobel prize winners Kenneth Arrow and Gérard Debreu and many others. But we should also see this as something more.

                      Those who came before Nash recognised that the economy – inhabited as it is by people whose decisions are impossible to pin down – cannot be wholly reduced to some model or others. Keynes’ theories were the most eloquent expression of this, but even von Neumann who did develop game theoretic and general equilibrium models which he deployed for the purpose of economic explanation recognised the limits of this axiomatic way of portraying a capitalist economy. And yet, after the war, the neoclassicals pursued their closed, autistic models with gusto.

                      What we should see in this example is something about the very nature of trying to apply mathematical models to systems that are created and inhabited by humans. Modelling these systems is equivalent to trying to model those around us. And while many neoclassicals (we hope) would not try to write equations to explain their spouse’s or their child’s behaviours, they seem perfectly content to do so for everybody else – absurdity be damned!”


                      Zip complaints about ensemble models when applied to atomictistic reality, only take issue with the dominate ideological paradigm – dressed up – as having the same gravitas.

                      What they do is they embed narrative in mathematics. Then they start manipulating the symbols and suddenly the narrative is lost to the symbols. In the meantime the narrative becomes weird and absurd. But because it is now translated into the symbols all they come to know are the “answers”. There are some good quotes from Keynes and Marshall on this.

                      Skippy…. I find this an abortion of Science… a parasitical melding to ride the host to what ever new future awaits – us all – that AGW is being couched in such a manner is intellectual perfidy.

                  2. giantsquid

                    the 4th sentence above comment should have read “Secondly, he attacks Limits to Growth” in a lazy, off-hand manner” etc.

              1. Skippy

                “Simulation model (CWS) developed under the Belgian CLIMNEG research project. This model will allow us to numerically illustrate the concepts used in coalition theory and theri usefulness for guiding climate governance the chapter is organized as follows. In the following section, the tools to be used will be briefly presented; coalition theory and the CWS applied integrated assessment model. In both cases the basic concepts will be explained with out any mathematical formalization and the emphasis will be on their economic interpretation and usefulness of climate governance Then, two representative applications will be provided. In section 7.3 we first discuss the issue of stability and effectiveness of climate agreements, both in terms of climate and welfare. We do this by comparing the cooperative and non-cooperative theory of coalitions, tow compelling stream in the economic theory literature today” – snip


              2. Skippy

                Till link clears-


                by Robert S. Pindyck

                Massachusetts Institute of Technology
                Cambridge, MA 02142
                This draft: April 8, 2015

                “Simulation model (CWS) developed under the Belgian CLIMNEG research project. This model will allow us to numerically illustrate the concepts used in coalition theory and their usefulness for guiding climate governance the chapter is organized as follows. In the following section, the tools to be used will be briefly presented; coalition theory and the CWS applied integrated assessment model. In both cases the basic concepts will be explained with out any mathematical formalization and the emphasis will be on their economic interpretation and usefulness of climate governance Then, two representative applications will be provided. In section 7.3 we first discuss the issue of stability and effectiveness of climate agreements, both in terms of climate and welfare. We do this by comparing the cooperative and non-cooperative theory of coalitions, two compelling stream in the economic theory literature today” – snip

    3. bob

      I keep seeing the “secret” treaties being discussed. When did this come back into fashion? Wasn’t this one of the leading causes of WW1?

      The idea is just baffling to me. How is this good for anyone?

      “presented it to the rest of the world as a fait accompli.”

      The context isn’t quite right for that term. The wars and strife that follow, with the “leaders” of these nations playing both sides, in secret, are a much broader, longer term problem or gift that keeps giving. “fait accompli” indeed. Not the secret treaties, but the acts that follow on from them.

  5. abynormal

    The study’s authors, Melanie Hughes and Lisa Brush, note that women in abusive relationships, particularly those in low-income situations, sometimes cannot afford to just leave their abusers. “Our study convincingly shows that women’s petitioning for a PFA does not come with either short- or long-term increases in earnings growth,” said Hughes. “We cannot offer women a restraining order as a tool to stop abuse and then walk away. We need to offer women other forms of support, especially economic ones, during this unstable time.”

    POVERTY IS VIOLENT…PsTB are certainly aware of this and it’s doomed to backfire:

  6. wbgonne

    Hillary Clinton’s Ghosts: A Legacy of Pushing the Democratic Party to the Right Truthout (RR)

    Not a bad critique of Clinton’s (oddly, unnamed) neoliberalism and very nice takedown of the vapid self-promoter Kos, but here’s the thing. The corporatist Democrats like Clinton and Obama only want one thing from Progressives: their votes in the general election. The corporatist hack politicians don’t need money because they get that from their corporate owners, and they certainly don’t want policy ideas from erstwhile supporters because those will inevitably clash with the mission the corporate owners have assigned these political puppets. No. What they want and what they need is votes in the general election. That is the only thing of value, the only currency. So when the author repeatedly notes how those critical of Clinton’s corporatism will nevertheless understandably vote for Clinton, i.e., against the Republican, in the general election, that’s all Clinton wants to hear. The rest is noise.

    1. Katniss Everdeen


      And if the “votes” don’t quite work out, there’s always the “supreme” court to declare that they don’t matter ala Florida, 2000.

    2. Carolinian

      I thought this was a very good backgrounder and an illustration of why some of us view the Sanders campaign as fundamentally unserious. The problem is not the Republicans and their “billionaires” so much as the Democrats and their billionaires (often the same people). If Sanders were a true socialist there’s no way he could support Hillary as he has promised. Our system is fundamentally broken because “there is no alternative,” not because the rich do what they always do. You can’t solve a problem unless you actually understand what it is.

      Perhaps this is too negative and Hillary will indeed transcend her dubious record. But more likely disasters, foreign and domestic, will be the result and force the Left to finally get a grip.

      1. Vatch

        I did a search for “the billionaire class” at, and I got hundreds of hits. He’s not objecting to just the Republican billionaires. He’s objecting to billionaires, period. As for his promise to support the eventual Democratic nominee, that’s been explained here at NC several times. It’s a tactical necessity for a semi-outsider such as Sanders to do this to get Democratic votes. That doesn’t mean that his supporters will vote for the Democratic nominee if that person happens to be a billionaire toady such as HIllary Clinton.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Sanders thinks this is a Senatorial gentleman’s game, with give and take, compromise, face saving, and mostly genteel debate. Goddamit our country and our planet is being stolen under our noses by corporatist war-mad fascists with zero concern for the future or the public good. Hilary is front and center of those forces, and the fact that Bernie will happily fold his tent for her coronation says everything about him as a real alternative.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Your standards are too high. Sanders isn’t an alternative in the sense that 1)he has a reasonable chance of winning (and if it gets to the point that it seems like he does, then we will really see what an angry D party apparatus is capable of) or 2) he could reasonably govern as a socialist if he were you somehow miraculously win (but see 1).

            But he is an alternative candidate to HRC and performing an important service in testing to see how many votes a self-declared democratic socialist running a pretty conventional social democratic campaign can get. All of the compromising, parsing and promising (of which he is 1000 times less guilty than every other R or D candidate) are about doing the math to try to maximize the vote total, which seems to me the right strategy given 1 and 2 above.

        2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

          My opinion:

          Support Bernie Sanders, or just hope for some magical unicorn to come save us.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s a real difficulty for him – a semi-outsider who is not outright confronting.

          And once in, he will still be a semi-outsider, needing to get Democrat votes…not to confront.

        4. bdy

          I trust that Bernie genuinely wants the social reforms he’s advocating. But it’s looking like he’s happy enough at a 30-35% plateau among Dems – token liberal at the grown up table.

          I can’t imagine any focus groups would indicate kid gloves for transparent corruption will win votes. His reluctance to call out the Clintons on their republicanism, and to shame the corporatists in the Democratic Party, suggests he’s maybe not as stoked to be President as he might be for social change – and that he’s fully aware that the former will never facilitate the latter.

          Can’t blame him. Big headaches for who tries to leverage that office for dignity and democracy.

            1. Carolinian

              Re the above comments: IMO if Sanders were serious he’d be doing to the Democrats what Trump is doing to the Republicans–wrecking ball all the way. What’s interesting about the Trump phenom is that he at least is willing to break some china.

              As to winning the primary, Sanders certainly seems unlikely to do so by handling Hillary with kid gloves and worrying about being the “spoiler.” Hillary’s cynical if somewhat crackpot realism is correct in that respect: you can’t accomplish your goals if you don’t win. As Wbgonne says, it’s votes that matter. People have to be motivated and believe you can win.

              1. Oregoncharles

                Trump visibly enjoys “breaking china;” plus it’s his TV persona, which he hasn’t dropped, just expanded.

                Bernie, on the other hand, has been working with the Democrats in Congress for a long time, not that he had much choice. That’s how legislation works. And he expects to go back to the Senate and continue doing that. Evidently he doesn’t like breaking china, and would pay a price if he did.

                  1. tegnost

                    I think his reasoned campaign is causing problems, the PTB need some crazy to point at and he hasn’t given it to them

                  2. Oregoncharles

                    Who knows? I was talking about the primaries; the real election is a separate issue.

                    Actually, I think probably yes, and he’d probably be considerably more confrontational against Trump (or whoever). But we aren’t going to find out.

                  3. Christopher Fay

                    “Breaking china” could be an euphemism for stating the obvious such as Clinton is owned by the leveraged paper trading industry and is willing to be lead by the nose by Netanyahoo

              2. Left in Wisconsin

                You are suggesting that he is not trying his hardest to maximize his vote. I don’t think that is correct. You may not agree but really a lot of Ds have no problem with HRC – probably a lot more than have an overtly socialist outlook – and Sanders is trying to win them over.

                I also disagree that what works for Trump will work for Sanders. There are some Trump voters Sanders could attract but many who would not vote for Sanders over someone else’s dead body.

                1. tegnost

                  considering the typical low voter turnout all a candidate needs to do is energize unexpected voters

            2. bdy

              And there’s the rub. Anti-Dem Democrats have a history of failure. McGovern, anyways.

              It may be that there’s no safe way to declare solidarity with Democratic voters while calling out Clinton for her solidarity with the Democratic kabuki. But if 65-35 looks like homeostasis, and Sanders doesn’t think 2nd place is good enough, it’s worth a try. He might even be able to pull it off politely.

              Devil in the details, but there are some compelling frames floating around out there.

              Maybe John Edwards style . . . “There are 2 Democratic parties: the party of you; the voters who want some this and that, and the party of them; the so-called leadership who does that and this . . . ”

              Maybe Greenwald’s “why is it that all these Democrats can brag about 95% voting records on progressive issues, when a Democratic majority only passes 0% of progressive legislation?”

              Maybe it’s “Americans care less about your emails . . .
              . . . than they do about your continued ties to the wiz-kids who profited from taking away their jobs and stealing their homes.”

              Maybe “I’m the whitest, oldest, male-est guy in the room — Archie friggin’ Bunker . . . but when I was marching for civil rights you were carrying water for Republicans.”

              I would do all that and more. But I don’t want to be president; I’m not very good at being careful; and I have god-awful timing.

              Thing is, I buy that alienating party PsTB is a real risk. And when the guy is already flying his “Socialist” freak flag, all risks are compounded. So as frustrated as I am by his strategy, a part of me applauds the restraint. But numbers frighten me most when they stop moving. It’s starting to look like the best chance of beating Clinton rests with the high likelihood of her implosion, and that could just as easily happen after the primary.

              1. Lambert Strether

                Yes, I’d prefer to see the numbers move, and the DNC is doing its best to drag Hillary over the finish line. That said, Sanders has a very competent and experienced staff (with the very big constraint that Bernie has to be Bernie. But then, being Bernie is not such a bad thing to be). I’m sure they’re working to break out of the box, and working like demons on the early states. And to some extent, I think we’re all assuming the model where the candidate has no independent (i.e., non-PAC) funding base; I think Sanders can keep going longer than a more conventionally funded candidate. And 340 days is a long time in politics.

            3. CraaaaazyChris

              Can the candidates pick their VPs at any time? I think a winning strategy for Sanders is to find a VP who is black, female, supported by BLM but not captured by its TFA wing, and has experience at the top levels of govt (e.g. legislator, judge).

              1. Lambert Strether

                That’s a good list. I think picking the VP comes at convention time after a beauty contest, but I’m not sure whether that’s just custom or governed by rule.

                Did you have someone in mind?

        5. rusti

          As for his promise to support the eventual Democratic nominee, that’s been explained here at NC several times. It’s a tactical necessity for a semi-outsider such as Sanders to do this to get Democratic votes.

          I agree with your analysis, but I find myself reflecting on what level of “progressiveness” I’d require in a Democrat to change from my usual throwaway vote for the Greens. The comments on the Salon article (the Millenial who would never vote for Hillary) were full of the usual cliches about how it’s necessary to support a serial war monger who embodies Beltway corruption because there’ll be a few Supreme Court justices to appoint. On the other side of the coin, there are posters here that think Bernie is a diehard Neocon because he hasn’t denounced the F-35.

          Can’t say I have a good answer for where the progressive candidate Mendoza line is, but by my estimation Bernie is over with some margin.

      2. Lambert Strether

        I don’t give a tinker’s curse whether Sanders is a “true Socialist” or not. Who is? Engels? Rosa Luxembourg? Eugene Debs? Yannis Varoufakis? Jeremy Corbyn? Jill Stein? What an absurd baseline. The benefits I see of a Sanders run are, in order of likelihood:

        1) Getting serious public policies like single payer and free college into the Overton Window (which includes making “socialism” a little bit less of a knee-jerk trigger than it is, apparently already accomplished among youth);

        2) Splitting the Democratic party if he comes within striking distance and they go into skullduggery mode;

        1) Winning the nomination if Clinton comes up lame.

        To me, these are all good.

        As for Sanders not being “serious,” I think that’s an absurd charge. What’s unserious about building a credible national campaign wit no PAC money? To me, that’s totally serious.

        I get tired of people not taking “yes” for an answer on this.

        1. wbgonne

          I agree with you that Sanders is “socialist enough.” I don’t think that’s the problem for very many people (though some are really hard on Sanders’ foreign policy, which may be justified). IMNSHO, Sanders has almost no chance of securing the Democratic nomination. You may disagree, of course, but assuming that to be true, your second and third justifications for Sanders’ run seem doubtful (though I will return to No. 2 in a moment). Turning to the primary reason you say Sanders’ run is valuable:

          Getting serious public policies like single payer and free college into the Overton Window (which includes making “socialism” a little bit less of a knee-jerk trigger than it is, apparently already accomplished among youth)

          Fair enough regarding the young people, although I’d say that it isn’t so much that Sanders has persuaded young people that socialism isn’t devil-worship but more that young people (and some old geezers like me) already believed that and are happy to have a candidate who agrees.

          As for moving the Overton Window Left, on that one I’m less sure and I think that’s the reason some people are critical of Sanders’ vow to support Hillary in the end. One might argue that Sanders is “veal-penning” the Left, letting them vent and get excited, only to have his candidacy crash and burn and then turn around and support Clinton, presumably urging his energized supporters to do the same. If so, I can understand the criticism. Because if that happens, has the Overton Window really moved Left at all? Or has the Left simply wasted its time and its energy and stayed with the Democratic Party even longer than it might otherwise? I’m not sure about the answers here.

          Which brings me to this:

          Splitting the Democratic party if he comes within striking distance and they go into skullduggery mode;

          As I said, Sanders getting within striking distance does not feasible to me because I think Sanders’ candidacy is already fading. There was a moment and — who knows? — maybe if Elizabeth Warren had jumped aboard Sanders’ team at that propitious moment, it might have happened. Doubtful but conceivable.

          But put that aside. I think it would be extremely beneficial in American politics for the Democratic Party to split (or implode, for that matter). I would love for that to happen. But isn’t it far more likely to happen if Sanders refuses to endorse and support Clinton? In fact, isn’t splitting the party precisely what Sanders is promising not to do? Now, it may happen regardless because there is no guarantee that Sanders’ supporters will transfer their support to Clinton, even at his urging. But still, Sanders could help precipitate that breach if he wanted to, and he quite clearly does not.

            1. wbgonne

              With respect, that is not a substantive response to the questions I raised or the points I made. Obviously you aren’t required to respond but still. FWIW, I am not invested in Sanders failing. I wish he would succeed. But I think he is failing despite my wishes.

            2. DJG

              It must be the Chicago in me, where I have witnessed so many candidates and causes being gummed to death by liberals.

              Sanders is not perfect. But Sanders is pretty much right on pretty much every issue. But like true Chicagoans, many liberals and so-called leftists would rather exist in a world of their cavils. Even though Chuy Garcia had an impressive résumé, you had liberals maundering about his lack of seriousness. So many of them ended up voting for Rahm, because Rahm is eager and decisive and gets things done (yeah, sure) and is a minion of Clinton-Obama Inc. And now they think that he’s going to resign, over a couple of deaths? The elite that controls the Democratic Party counts on this: Many voters who automatically pull the lever for the D, and a Democrat chattering class that can’t get past its self-regard and the Brie.

        2. tegnost

          I agree lambert, and I think Sanders has had a big impact if for no other reason than exposing the dems for who they really are, class warriors for the elite. Yesterday one of the most daft people I know scoffed “so are you going to vote for Sanders…giggle giggle” An Obama republican, as in was always a republican but voted for Obama (giggle giggle) O how happy the winners are…I would so love to say President Sanders to that person.

        3. Massinissa

          Im very skeptical of Sanders myself, honestly.

          But he has my vote, in the primary at least. Probably in the general too if he wins.

          Instead of lesser evil, Sanders is more like a lesser good, which I can tolerate. Would like a Greater Good but I can settle for lesser good.

        4. Carolinian

          But of your listed goals only number 1 seems assured at the moment. The polls are moving in the wrong direction. By unserious I mean unserious about winning, not about being a socialist etc.It’s just my opinion from the peanut gallery–not trying to annoy.

          1. Lambert Strether

            I left out my litmus test for seriousness. Sanders said a movement has to be built. Well, where is that happening? It shouldn’t be that hard for funded professionals to launch this; Obama did it in 2008, though of course he betrayed everybody who joined it; and the Dean campaign (and Dean for America, later) did something similar.

            So that would be my test of seriousness: Visible movement building.

            1. Left in Wisconsin

              Yes, the real legit criticism is that he claims to be calling for “millions of people” to join a “political revolution” but has said absolutely nothing about what that means, other than presumably voting for him.

    1. Vatch

      “he recent, brilliant, monograph IMPERIAL MINDS by Dr. Del Rivane of Dothek Polytechnique rather conclusively demonstrates that the Banking Clan and Corporate Sector’s drive for unified tax policy, new market access, and spacelane security, combined with the ambition of a rising human military officer class in the Late Republican period, were the main drivers of “Palpatine’s” coup and the subsequent (apparent) stability of the so-called “Imperial” government.”

      In other words, IMF, WTO, NAFTA, TPP, TTiP, and TiSA a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, as well as now, in our own galaxy.

        1. Vatch

          It might be the correct story. It depends on whether one is interested in the spice melange from the planet Arrakis, or if one is interested in the output of the spice mines of Kessel. Remember, the Millennium Falcon made the Kessel Run in “less than twelve parsecs”, which is totally absurd, but that sort of thing made George Lucas a billionaire, so I guess it must be okay.

          1. Massinissa

            And remember that the Spice mines of Kessel were mined using Wookiee slave labor.

            But yeah, someone forgot to tell Lucas that Parsecs are units of length, not time…

      1. Massinissa

        I wish that in real life we could piss off the Banking Clan so damn hard that they would declare war on us with their private armies. Instead we have to fight the TPP with, well, scattered groups of protesters who barely know whats even in the TPP & Friends because theyre secret documents.

        Where is the tiny hole in the TPP we can shoot a plasma torpedo into damnit?

  7. fresno dan

    ‘Dear Daddy…’ Max Zuckerberg’s Letter back to her Father The Register (Dr. Kevin)

    LOL – Too, too rich!!!

    “I heard more original ideas when I was a single cell blastula!”

    Uh, one nitpicky compulsive obsessive point – a blastula is not single cell.
    But everything else was PERFECT. and remember “My Space”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some people say immortality is when they still talk about someone long after he/she, uh, they have moved on. It is as if they are not dead.

      In a similar way, billionaires thrive by living in or occupying our brains.

      The biggest affront is to be unaware of their existence.

      Cave persons and Luddites are frequently guilty of that.

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Obamacare “Observations” and the Elusive Search for Improvements; Seniors Beware Michael Shedlock. Another way to victimize patients.

    This is important and all those “lucky” medicare recipients must be aware.

    Had a friend who was a “victim.”

    He fainted getting off a plane in Phoenix for a plane change during a trip home to California and was taken to a local hospital. He had medicare and was admitted, for “observation” as it later turned out.

    He felt fine and wanted to leave to get home. The hospital REFUSED to release him for three days, and without the official release, the airline would not permit him to get on the plane. His only other choice was to buy a new ticket on a different airline which he thought was a waste of money. At the time.

    When he got the bill, the new plane ticket would have been the smarter, “healthcare consumer,” skin-in-the-game “choice”

    Last I heard, he was refusing to pay the bill, claiming he was scammed. We’ll see how that works out.

    1. fresno dan

      I would say he was kidnapped.

      It really is a bizarre industry that can refuse to post its prices. And it is bizarre thinking that those who yammer the most about the “market” where knowledge of prices is absolutely fundamental to making a “market” allows this hiding of costs to continue.

      Of course, saying one is a Christian doesn’t make one a Christian, and saying one believes in markets doesn’t make one a practitioner of capitalism. Indeed, it is amazing how the louder one howls about Jesus the more likely one is scamming the congregation and hired prostitutes and exactly the same is true of market preachers…

    2. afisher

      The ACA linked article is weird, as the hospital which treated the stranded guy would not have been penalized for re-admission, because the guy was leaving for a 1 hour flight. While there may be problems with ACA, let’s not make stupid comments based on heresay that some are more than willing to write /post, even though the facts are wrong.

      1. Carla

        Thanks for posting this. Yet despite the clarification by Politifact, it is a shame that Americans have allowed crapification by the private insurance industry to contaminate every aspect of health care. It’s totally unnecessary, as so many other countries have demonstrated.

        1. Gio Bruno

          It’s not just the insurance companies! Hospitals are part of the intentional gouge. If you are ever hospitalized you need your own personal doctor/lawyer to save you from malpractice and legal entrapment.

          My local hospital (a monopoly; no local competitor) requires a signature on the dreaded “arbitration clause” admittance documents. More specifically, I spent hours with an admittance nurse putting in writing that only “in network” professionals were to be involved in my medical care. Despite that, I received exhorbitant charges from out-of-network doctors (who refused “in network” payment sums). Hospitals are in on the shakedown!

          1. sd

            Hospitals can take three years to bill you. God forbid you’ve settled a claim with insurance before all of the bills come in.

        2. polecat

          NO……not all Americans……and remember, Nancy Pelosi, of “Embrace The Suck” fame, gave the “stupid” plebs the three-card- monty of supposedly passing the ACA before finding out what was in it!

  9. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    Signs posted in the area warn about the presence of the crocs and dogs are required to be leashed, Miami-Dade County park officials said.


        1. Oregoncharles

          A friend of ours grew up on a farm in Laos, where Burmese pythons are native. Her father used to walk around with a machete held against his chest, edge out, so a snake couldn’t constrict on him. They drop out of trees. She’s seriously afraid of snakes – though there aren’t any dangerous ones here (just east of the mountains).

  10. MikeNY

    Thanks for the Middle East Eye piece. I hate having to rely on Ted Cruz for sane discussion of the ME.

    1. fresno dan

      It is astounding really – but maybe having 16 candidates and Trump actually opens the way to say, that Bush didn’t keep us safe, Iraq was a disaster, and considering how our results are 180 degrees opposite of what we PROFESS to say is our goals, maybe we shouldn’t keep doing what we have been doing.

      On a sphere, if you keep walking right, you eventually end up on the left….

      1. amey

        And yet the public believes that HRC — with her track record of disastrous regime change in Libya, implications (but not confirmed as far as I am aware) in the distribution of weapons to various Syrian factions, and the support for the foolish Iraq War — is the most prepared presidential candidate to handle terrorism and foreign policy because of her extensive experience (of constantly making bad decisions and then apologizing for making a mistake)

      2. MikeNY

        Yes. The GOP is coming apart at the seams. It’s entertaining and frightening and gruesome, but with the occasional visible thread of hope.

      3. polecat

        we”re all globe walkers here…….but out there the flat-earthers are running amuck, spinting over the edge

  11. TedWa

    RE: 10 Moral Crises That Have Resulted From Unfettered, Free Market Capitalism

    Excellent read. Thanks for that

    1. tegnost

      Yes I liked that as well. What saddens me as I read it was that I wouldn’t send the link to any of my wealthy or powerful friends and family members due to an unwillingness to be scoffed at, as if there were any other morality than the free market One thing does work though, TedWa that I assume you have seen. In seattle still after the weekend and I’ve never seen anything close to the number of tents everywhere. Tent cities on every off ramp, in every park. Truly astonishing and a big wet blanket on any”everythings fine” argument.

      1. tegnost

        What is interesting about it is these are mini villages and 10 tents will band together, provide security, food and make sure people drying their stuff out, etc…sending deputations to the perimeter to see what people want, no just wandering into the city allowed, a recreation if you will of the basic concept of a village

      2. perpetualWAR

        Yesterday, on my way to work, I saw Seattle Police raiding a large homeless encampment on I-5. Today, there were tents in the very same place again.

        And still our pathetic Seattle City Council refuse to acknowledge McDonnell Analytics report that our land records are all fucked up….and our Deed of Trust Act is not doing what it is supposed to do: 1) protect the land records; 2) provide a way to prevent unlawful foreclosure; and 3) provide the banks with a cheap way to steal homes. The only thing it allows for is number 3, of course.

        Seattle City Council has kicked up the McDonnell report to AG Ferguson* (that pathetically corrupt top cop *laugh) and has asked for a legal opinion. Keep in mind, Ferguson has hired two bank attorneys to staff the “Consumer Protection” division, one from Lane Powell and the other from Davis Wright Tremaine.

        And they continue to remain silent when asked “is there a possible connection with exploding homeless situation, exponential rise in rent prices, and continued unlawful foreclosure?”


        *Keep in mind, Ferguson was the only candidate running for Attorney General back in his first campaign who talked about stopping unlawful foreclosure. That rhetoric ended when after becoming AG, he took his first trip to DC.

          1. perpetualWAR

            We can’t get any journalists in Washington to write about this. You did see that WA has a D+ for its corruption score, right? Well, the reason we didn’t get an F is because our journalists shield our elected officials from harm.

            I can email you a couple of letters, one from CM Licata and one from AG Ferguson if you’d like. Can you post these?

            Keep in mind, the last time I posted info on this blog, I got made fun of by a plethora of posters…..I guess info isn’t real info unless there’s a link?

            1. Lambert Strether

              You mention a McDonnell report. Are you really saying that no copy of it exists online, and/or there are no online references to it?

              We get people making assertions all the time. Absent a way to check them, assertions they remain.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  Thanks. Now, what I’m seeing (and this takes nothing away from the article) is that Dayen took a ton of local sources and aggregated and leveraged them. It’s almost impossible for me to believe that there wasn’t local coverage (i.e., links) by the same activists who broke through in Intercept. That’s what we did up here on the landfill, in documents online, and letters to the editor, and Op-Eds, and by acting as sources to news stories. That’s part of the game. There will be links, and those are the sort of links I want. I love that stuff!!

                  1. perpetualWAR

                    Sorry, when you are busy trying to keep the wolves away from taking your house, up to your eyeballs in depositions, trying to get the damn legislators to pay attention, who has time for letters to the editor?

      3. fresno dan

        We have returned to feudalism. Except the oligarch is “King” and can do no wrong, cause he is bless by the market, i.e., the heavens…
        I used to wonder as a child how people could believe in a king….but I look around and it strikes me we buy the bullsh*t even more enthusiastically…..must be that Bernays guy…

    2. Steve in Dallas

      Yes, excellent, thanks. Trying to understand how/why Western culture has become so totally corrupt and evil.

      One thing is for sure… since 9/11/2001 the ‘foundation’ of Western culture became crystal clear:

      Take or Be Taken… Kill or Be Killed.

      Amazing how this maxim seems to explain everything. To me, this ‘foundation’ is not only the antithesis of ‘civilized’ but the very definition of ‘barbaric’.

      For almost 15 years I’ve been taking a poll… I have yet to meet a single person who disagrees or thinks there’s anything wrong with this ‘foundation’ (i.e. it seems like EVERYONE agrees with ‘Take or Be Taken… Kill or Be Killed’???). I also have not yet met a single person who reads the independent media (note: I do not use the term ‘alternative media’… to me, that implies something very different). I also have not yet succeeded in getting a single person, family or friend, to try the independent media for a different perspectives on current or major events (e.g. economic crises, wars, Syria, Paris, anything).

      Aside from the independent media I see nothing pushing back against the corruption/evil… and every day there is evidence that the independent media is easily being silenced by the corruption/evil.

      1. fresno dan

        I changed my mind – I used to be quite libertarian (actually, I am still very cynical about government, but now I realize it is so evil because it does the bidding of the wealthy, who don’t believe in “free enterprise” at all, but engage in non stop propaganda to justify and advance themselves).

        Somewhere, being intellectual honest, admitting error, and and truly LISTENING to others and wanting to understand their point of view went the way of the Dodo….

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Dignity signifies value: the same, unconditional, unalienable value of all human beings. Dignity requires no “achievement” other than existence


      Is he advocating Income Guarantee?

    4. flora

      Agreed. Wish every high school English class or debate class would read and discuss the opening pages of the article – before the 1-10 list. I’ve been wondering for some time just why the West lost or abandoned the thread of the Western Project (from Ancient Greece to now). The opening of this essay covers that ground in a short space.

      Capitalism is a good servant but a bad master.

      “When a nation has reached this point, it must either change its laws and mores or perish, for the well of public virtue has run dry: in such a place one no longer finds citizens but only subjects.”
      ― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  12. fresno dan

    Woman Killed in Savannah in Yet Another Mass Shooting Today Gawker. I hate being right about this, but years ago, I predicted random increases in violence as the likely response to the crappy post-crisis economy and rising inequality, not revolution or meaningful economic protests. But it’s still shocking to see it happening on this scale, and this sort of thing feeds on itself (as in it has become legitimated in a perverse sort of way)>


    Couple Kept Tight Lid on Plans for California Shooting New York Times


    It strikes me that San Bernardino wasn’t so much political extremism as it is just a reflection of what a disgruntled, disaffected American does naowadays. There was a time when people “out there” saw Elvis and UFOs, now the phenomenon is suicide by mass murder.

    I remember when Starbucks began, and the idea of 3$ for a cup of coffee seemed inconceivable – but than it becomes not only conceivable, but the NORM.

    Now we have DAILY mass shooting. It is really mass suicide, where there is a well spring of anger and betrayal as the bonds in society of common humanity, civility, compassion are broken, and people feel very, very wronged, uncared for, and cut off from any sense of connection and understanding of fellow humans.
    When the black box cockpit recordings of GermanWings flight 9525 were found and the world first learned that the plane had been deliberately crashed into a rocky mountain face in the French Alps by its suicidal co-pilot, the first questions raised by journalists at the investigators’ press conference were about the latter’s religion and ethnicity. When it turned out that the co-pilot, Andreas Lübitz, was an “ordinary” 27-year-old white German male with no known terrorist connections, the international press quickly lost interest in the political side of the story.
    his strong desire for recognition, which finds its most destructive pathological expression in the case of mass murders like Lübitz, has been greatly intensified in recent decades as a result of the near-complete erosion of community bonds and social safety nets. The unrestrained dual processes of globalization and financialization are thoroughly deterritorializing the economy and subjecting all social relations and individual motivations to the single overarching logic of the market. As Bifo puts it, “our entire precarious life is submitted to this one imperative: competition. All of our collective energies are enlisted to one goal: to fight against all others in order to survive.”

    1. tim s

      Given all the suicides that are nothing but suicide, I have a hard time considering this couple’s actions primarily suicide. As far as community bonds, they were married (supposedly – I’ve read that that’s not confirmed), and they man had a mother willing to look after the child. That’s more than many people have.

      On top of that, they had a child. If they were committed to suicide to rid themselves of a world they considered too evil to stay in, why would they leave their child behind to suffer it. If it had been a whole family “suicide”, I’d buy it a bit more.

      Maybe they were little more than half-wit copycats….

    2. BondsOfSteel

      I noticed that the Thanksgiving Seattle Times had a flyer for a Black Friday special at Sportman’s Warehouse…. an .233Rem AR-15 clone with a 30 round mag… only $449.99!

        1. BondsOfSteel

          My family was joking about how it was “just in time for the Christmas killing spree”. But I just noticed it was the same model used in San Bernardino… DPMS Panther Arms :(

          If we do have a Civil War, it’ll be a massacre, much like Syria.

  13. allan

    The GOP goes for another round of stimulus.
    Will the Whigs sign on to get crumbs off of the floor?

    “Tax Extenders” Bill Swells Massively Under Lobbyist Onslaught

    A blockbuster tax cut deal, with a ten-year cost of $889 billion and counting, is deep into negotiations on Capitol Hill, proving that Congress doesn’t care about the deficit as long as the right groups get the giveaways. …

    The bill is being negotiated on a bipartisan basis, which accounts for all the add-ons to try and get various constituencies aboard. But Democrats and their allies will have to choose whether getting something they want, like expanded family tax credits or a Cadillac tax delay, overrides the much bigger, more egregious giveaways to corporate America.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Hey, folks, a little tiny spike in outrage at a tiny example of the genre — Millions? Not BILLIONS? Who can get worked up over chump change penny-ante corruption, given the ordinariness we mopes now accord to much huge-er systematized routinized unremarkable Idiocy/corruption.

      Hey, when I was defending the Empire in Vietnam all those years ago, the Officer types also lived very high on the hog, often “billeted” in the villas of former French colonial-imperialists. While us idiot Troops, where the High Command allowed it, got all happy about having “gooks” do the KP and “police detail” to pick up our cigarette butts and gum wrappers and burn our shit (“latrine duty,”). And of course for a few more dollars a month, you could buy a “hooch girl” to clean your quarters, shine your boots, make up your bunk, wash your clothes and keep your presentation lockers ready for “inspection.” And in many cases to see to the Troops’ “physical needs.” In the First Cav, unlike many other divisions, only the Headquarters types had these various “services,” the Brass both liked to keep the Troops all “STRAC” and reduce the infiltration of VC into the “bases.” Interesting twist, the “gooks” got to dropping some pretty accurate heavy mortar fire onto the Cav’s base at An Khe. Turns out the General’s “gook” personal barber was a Forward Observer for The Enemy. Stupid Fokking humans… Again and again and again. All we apparently know how to do… Seems to apply as a principle at all scales and places and times…

      As to the discussion about Star Wars Imperial economics, what is this nonsense about having to pay for Death Stars and Clone Warriors and cruisers and Tie Fighters? When the Sith can rip the throat out of anyone who does not “produce” whatever is demanded¿? And of course there would be Innovations, 3-D printers on enormous scales, stuff like self-replkicating robots, Apps galore, to let the Elites accomplish their pursuit of Ultimate Evil Power Over Everything Everywhere…

      It struck me that Palpatine and the Darths never seemed to actually be enjoying any of the stuff and experiences that they could take whenever they wanted and their minions would fearfully or hopefully serve up, in hopes of advancement in the Hierarchy…

      1. fresno dan

        is the US military really run any differently, despite the jingoistic justification, than the Mafia???

        1. Massinissa

          The Military?

          Im pretty sure all government is run that way, including the military and law enforcement. Its just more noticeable when theres more violence involved. Outside the military and law enforcement, instead of using force they use laws or taxation instead of force, but as always against those who are the most vulnerable.

  14. Jef

    “…I predicted random increases in violence as the likely response to the crappy post-crisis economy”

    I forget who said it but it went something like;

    With extraordinarily abundant resources easily exploited we have enjoyed a generation or two of unprecedented peace and prosperity. I shudder to think what the future of resource constraints and biosphere degradation will bring in that regard.

  15. afisher

    Sirota is onto something, and meanwhile Congress is working feverishly to curtail the majority of white collar crime. As usual – details matter, as this lessening the prosecution of white collar crime was tucked into the Criminal Justice Reform ( prison terms) act via an amendment.

    Adding an amendment to a popular bill and the revolving door- what could possibly go wrong and skrew the average person while rewarding those with mega-wealth.

    1. Gio Bruno

      Not sure what this comment is about. But if it’s trying to debunk global warming it is a big FAIL.

      The link embedded in the comment certainly is a “strawman” article. CO2 is the biggest concern for global warming because it is of the greatest abundance in the atmosphere (not because methane and water vapor aren’t complicit, too). The articles obfuscation on wavelengths is just that, a distraction.

      Methane is a worse GHG than CO2, but CO2 comprises a vastly larger portion of the atmosphere.

      And water vapor increases with atmospheric warming, so it creates a positive feedback loop ( and major/intense weather storms). Seen any of those lately? Of course you have. There’s the “runaway warming” in action.

    2. Massinissa

      I SWEAR this has got to be some kind of robot post. Doesn’t sound like a real post at all. Did any of the links even mention carbon.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China inflating bubbles to disguise structural problems.

    The lords are dining in the Great Hall so they can trickle some food down to the serfs. The problem is they are eating all the delicacies that there is nothing left over for the serfs.

    So, they order more meals and repeat the same.

    Droit du seigneur.

    Never a thought about giving sustenance to the serfs directly.

  17. allan

    Manslaughter charges dropped for BP supervisors in oil spill

    The Gulf of Mexico rig explosion that killed 11 workers and unleashed the nation’s worst offshore oil spill also led to criminal charges against four BP employees, who faced prison time if convicted.

    But the Justice Department’s decision to drop manslaughter charges against two BP rig supervisors makes it increasingly likely that nobody will spend a day behind bars for crimes associated with the deadly disaster.

    1. tegnost

      watching our culture dissolve before our very eyes. Having a bit of pre traumatic stress disorder visualizing all of the hoocoodanode that we’re going to hear in what I consider to be the not too distant future. All my non professional friends are living on withheld consumption and it should be busy now. Savings are for january not november…

  18. DJG

    Yves makes this comment:
    “I hate being right about this, but years ago, I predicted random increases in violence as the likely response to the crappy post-crisis economy and rising inequality, not revolution or meaningful economic protests. But it’s still shocking to see it happening on this scale, and this sort of thing feeds on itself (as in it has become legitimated in a perverse sort of way)”

    In response, one of the things that I am wondering about is if what we are seeing is a whole series of horrible murder-suicides. I’m not ruling out suicide as a motivation. The crappy economy, the atomization of U.S. social life, the collapse of social organizations, and the grinding forty years of stagnant wages are taking their toll.

    1. tegnost

      Suicide is a very isolated and lonely thing. the problems will escalate as people come into supportive groups and make other decisions. As in “The grapes of wrath” when you’re alone you have no chance.

    2. perpetualWAR

      What I wonder is why they (the mass shooters) aren’t taking their guns to those who really deserve it: the Wall Streeters.

      Why shoot up a disability center??? That is the most confusing thing ever.

      1. ambrit

        I believe it was Adam Clayton Powell who once said; “Why are we burning down our own neighbourhoods? Burn down the rich ones and get something useful done.”
        I always liked that man, warts and all.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      I spent a couple years in the historical society library reading newspapers from 1932 and 1933 and it was incredible to me how frequently were the reports of sudden death – shootings and car accidents mostly (often involving multiple deaths) but industrial accidents. drownings, etc. too. It definitely seemed like bad economic times cheapened life somehow and it seems that way now too.

      1. ambrit

        The next stage will be a Neo Bonus March. Some argue that Occupy was it, but I’m skeptical. The original Bonus marchers were truly desperate, skin in the game, if you will. Occupy didn’t give me that impression. (Other viewpoints would be useful. I wasn’t there.)

        1. perpetualWAR

          I wasn’t familiar with the Bonus March. TY

          I did attend Occupy, not on Wall Street, but on the streets of Seattle. There were veterans, students, people facing economic loss (foreclosure fighters), professors, and of course the unions.

          1. ambrit

            Good for you! (Non snark all the way here.)
            In the two horse town we’ve been stuck in for a few years, the Occupy movement was a forlorn young man who held up reasonably well composed protest signs at the Downtown Park. We bought him lunch a few times, as in asked him what he liked, Chinese food, and bought it out to him, ‘on the picket line’ as it were. The depressing thing about this was that the young man didn’t even generate much in the way of ‘hate speech.’ Nixonian “Benign Neglect” in action. By ignoring a movement you either force it to capitulate or ratchet its’ tactics up a notch.
            As Joe Hill said at the last; “Organize.”

          2. Joe

            Yeah, I spent some time downtown too. There was an internal strife that escalated in the ranks about the question of wither the police were part of the 1%. That never was worked out. There were some interesting happenings. I think I spent about 30 hours at Occupy. Interesting note. I was coming back from CO, driving through Boise ID in March that year and there was still an Occupy site up there. They held out longer than most. Power to the People.

  19. fresno dan

    Premeditated mass shootings in public places are happening more and more often, some researchers say, plunging towns and cities into grief and riveting the attention of a horrified nation. In general, though, fewer and fewer Americans are dying as a result of gun violence — a shift that began about two decades ago.

    In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2013, that figure had fallen by nearly half, to 3.6 — a total of 11,208 firearm homicides. The rate of shootings that didn’t result in death declined even more precipitously, from 725 in 1993 per 100,000 people to 175 in 2013.

    news to me

      1. fresno dan

        Don’t get me wrong – I believe in gun control.
        But we do live in a world where so much of the information we see lacks perspective.

        “Waikiki’s Japanese-filled ranges are the sort of quirk you might find in any major tourist town, but they’re also an intersection of two societies with wildly different approaches to guns and their role in society. Friday’s horrific shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater has been a reminder that America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.”

        Taking the two articles together, it really is amazing how many Americans, Americans will tolerate being shot….
        But why does that surprise me????

        1. Lambert Strether

          Well, I’m not sure I support “gun control,” if only because the Democrats are already fund-raising on it, when they can’t do a thing about it (and if they hadn’t sucked in every major respect since throwing Howard Dean under the bus in 2006, they might have been able to do something about it). I don’t see any particular reason to accept regular mass shootings in public spaces as the new normal, however, as some have urged me to do.

    1. tegnost

      sadly I’m afraid the suicide of choice these days is xanax and booze, not so messy and fits nicely in the drug overdose category rather than economic suicide. Also, although unrelated specifically, don’t think many use AR15 for suicide, they’re for killing someone else…

  20. Oregoncharles

    2016, bad news:

    Clinton is now at 60% (of Democrats).

    Compare this with: “Latest Poll: Sanders Handily Trounces All Top Republicans—Yeah, Including Trump Alternet”

    Trump beats Clinton by 5%.

    Death Wish? Plan?

    Again, this reflects the shrinking size of the legacy parties. They’re both down about 25%, the irrational hard core. In the case of the Democrats, their policies have been so right-wing that the core of the party is now also very conservative – the habitual rhetoric about their “base” is now false.

    It’s past time for Bernie supporters to be figuring out what they do when, not if, he fails to get the nomination. Will they be herded, or not?

    1. Lambert Strether

      I think the issue is more subtle than “herding.” For one thing, the decision might vary by state. In my state — and I tried, I really did — I wouldn’t trust the Greens to run a lemonade stand; they’re simply not a serious political party (all the more tragically, since they made a good start). And yes, things can always get worse; we saw what happened in Greece with Syriza, when people who weren’t serious about political power were given it.

      New York has Howie Hawkins, who is serious. For another, I think the real opportunity is splitting the Democrats, as the Whigs were split, pver economics, as the Whigs were split. Seize their assets, including ballot access, databases, etc.

      1. Oregoncharles

        As far as I’m concerned, we already split the Democrats – but we didn’t get a very big piece.

        Yes, the party varies a great deal by state. The legacy parties do, too, but on a higher baseline. E.G., the Republicans in Oregon are so weak they couldn’t put up viable candidates for either Senator or Governor 2 years ago.

        James(?) Galbraith (can’t remember his first name, teaches at U Texas, I think) was also proposing to split the party, if necessary. Didn’t get anywhere then, but you might get in touch with him. I’ll look for his email – it’s public, since he’s a prof. Looks like Bernie could walk off with about 30%, plus a lot of independents (the larger contingent), if he cares to. Again, a question of seriousness.

        As it stands, that isn’t what’s happening; the legacy parties are simply shrinking, but without losing their institutional control over the process. Even less democracy. There are an awful lot of people just adrift politically; but you’re right, so far they haven’t landed on the Greens. Or anybody else.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Until the insurgent splittees have some institutional control over the process, there’s no split. Merely factional quarreling.

          When the Whigs split, the losers left politics. That’s what I want to see.

    2. cwaltz

      I’m in the not category. If the Democrats decide they can’t give me a candidate worth voting for I walk. I’ve voted third party before and I’m not afraid to do so this time.

    3. Massinissa

      Im already skeptical of Bernie, but he will have my vote.

      If its O Malley, I have no idea what I would do, but he almost has less chance of getting the Democratic nomination than Putin does.

      If its Clinton, I will either vote third party or stay home. I might, MIGHT, even vote Trump (not any of the other crazies though), depending on how much I hate Clinton that day.

      Honestly, although I wouldn’t vote for them, I would rather ANY of the republicans beat Clinton. I don’t want her to win.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do people ever write in a presidential candidate?

      And a hypothetical question. If the best person for the job is a foreigner, say, someone from the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, do we accept that best person for the job?

      1. ambrit

        You’re preaching Globalization! (Still, California has always been Americas’ “Thought Leader,” no?)
        I, for one, would gladly vote for Peter Ustinov for President.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The boss was always saying ‘We want the best person for the job, from anywhere.’

          I think it was after her kid lost in a Spelling Bee contest to a robot who then lost to a spelling software. Afterwards, someone mumbled ‘it’s an outdated human skill anyway.’

      2. Oregoncharles

        I have: Pigasus, in 1968, the first time I ever voted.

        In short, in most states, yes. But will it be counted?

    5. so

      No his mind is not for rent
      To any god or government
      Always hopefull, yet discontent
      He know’s changes aren’t permanent
      But change is

    6. wbgonne

      It’s past time for Bernie supporters to be figuring out what they do when, not if, he fails to get the nomination. Will they be herded, or not?


  21. Oregoncharles

    “‘Islamic State is the dirt of Imperialism’”
    Extremely moving, as well as testimony to Turkish support of Daesh. The Kurds have been stabbed in the back continually since they were denied a state at the end of WWI. Apparently it’s developed their character. Impressive.

  22. knowbuddhau

    Just a little note on collateral damage from our glorious health coverage regime.

    Up until 9 November, I was the live-in caretaker of a vacation rental. Now I’m neither. The owner tells me that she urgently needs knee surgery. So why should that cost me a nice apartment and a job?

    She lives in Arizona. Group Health won’t cover her there. She has to move back to WA, displacing me. With the debris from a 2012 medical bankruptcy still marring my credit report for 6 more years, I’m going to have a helluva time finding somewhere to rent.

    If we had a real healthCARE system, I wouldn’t be couch-surfing at 51.

    1. ambrit

      Your unfortunate circumstances remind me of Kerouacs’ “The Dharma Bums.” I must wonder, given Americas’ lack of a ‘wandering monk’ class, how older people can hold up to the stress of rootlessness. Does America have general purpose Monasteries anymore? We trod that road many years ago. Take care of yourself and keep us posted. You are a concrete example of the new economic reality.

      1. knowbuddhau

        On the plus side, when I lived at the lodge, I couldn’t personalize the loft because the house is for sale. Every week or so I had to have everything off every counter, and make it generally look like I didn’t live and work where I lived and worked. No shrine for the servant. And I often got kicked out of my own place during showings.

        Now I’m staying in a place where I can (ironically enough, it’s the house where I broke my wrist 5 years ago). I’d been longing for one of those bowl-shaped gongs. You wouldn’t believe the bathroom sink. It’s a cast bronze bowl with sustain from here to eternity. I get to ring a bell of mindfulness any time I want.

        And there’s a cat. :)

    2. knowbuddhau

      Thanks for the sympathy. This is the only place I knew where I’d find some. I feel a bit better already.

      Just goes to show how widespread are the effects of crappy policy. I’m sure my costs figure nowhere in the price of the surgery. Speaking of which, what kind of country charges a guy making 12k/year 20K for a broken wrist? This kind! How very exceptional of us.

      One of the worst things is having people ask, “How did you lose your job?” I didn’t “lose” that job. I know exactly where it is. Like too many others before it, it was taken. At least I’m not in the service of a rentier anymore.

      Thanks, ambrit, you’re very kind. It is quite the challenge to my practice. Others have put up with a lot more. It’s teaching me the true meaning of “taking refuge in the buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.” This here’s my sangha. I bow in all y’all’s virtual directions.

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Obamacare “Observations” and the Elusive Search for Improvements; Seniors Beware ”

    OK, I’ll keep that in mind. Isn’t this just plain fraud – of Medicare, for one? But also of the patients: Medicare forces down the price. this way they can collect all of it.

  24. Skippy

    Up thread on Sanders vs the Empire thingy….

    Has American politics devolved to the point where, crushing your enemy’s and lording over them, is the only cookie cutter template in the drawer – ????? – other wise the voters… cough… I mean sports fans will show up through the turnstiles… on game day…

    Skippy…. maybe the whole process should just be reduced to a UFC event…

  25. IsabelPS

    Gosh, the Counterpunch article on Portugal is really bad. Not only it has a “fairy tale” feel about the whole situation on the elections and beyond, it presents some purely made up “facts” that never were, like a “general strike” that nobody proposed:
    “In the face of growing outrage and a threatened general strike, however, Silva finally asked Socialist Party leader Antonio Costa to form a government.”
    This is an absolutely BS sentence that gravely misleads readers.
    (It is interesting, though, that the union close to the Communist Party announced strikes on the metro for the coming weeks, no doubt to show their support and trust to the left alliance to whom they belong).

    1. Clive

      I too all-too-frequently despair at the woeful quality of how domestic media reports events from foreign countries. The British and U.S. outlets are invariably terrible at European news coverage. It’s embarrassing but they have no shame and seemingly never let the facts get in the way of a good story (or whatever framing they wanted to construct).

      The Middle East is usually cartoon-like (on the BBC News Channel yesterday, they could not manage to cover Syria without an abysmal computer game-esque interactive map with little tanks, bomb symbols, CGI explosions and toy town battalions moving around).

      At least, I suppose, there is some coverage. China, Japan and east Asia in general are MIA. For Russia, they only get a look-in when the U.S. and/or the EU wants to have one of their periodically reruns at militarism.

      It never ceases to amaze me that the only reliable place to get anything like balanced, comprehensive, accurate coverage is Naked Capitalism, run by Yves, her cats and Lambert part-time.

      1. IsabelPS

        To be fair, I only realized how “geocentric” news are when I was in Hong-Kong once: to read the newspapers was like to see the world map with the center shifted to the “Far East”.

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