Links 2/17/16

Fat Cats on a Diet: Will They Still Love You? New York Times (David L)

German Shorthaired Pointer Is Best in Show New York Times. My brother and sister-in-law have German shorthair pointers. Very handsome dogs.

Living Near A Lottery Winner Has A Surprising Downside Huffington Post. FYI lottery winners also have very high suicide rates.

The Beetles: Eighty-Nine Million Acres of Abrupt Climate Change TruthOut

Glibc: Mega bug may hit thousands of devices BBC

Being Bilingual Changes the Architecture of Your Brain Wired (resilc)

Health chief slams statins: Millions face terrible side effects as prescription escalates Daily Express (Keith F). “Leading doctors are demanding an end to the widespread prescription of statins, warning that one in four Britons will soon be at risk of terrible side effects from the controversial heart drugs.”

A New Culprit in Lyme Disease New York Times (David L)

How Australia’s tax system favours the wealthy ABC

Japan’s Household Spending Falls 2.7% in 2015 MarketPulse


Hong Kong’s popular, lucrative horror movie about Beijing has disappeared from theaters Quartz (Jeff W). The trailer is striking.

China deploys missiles on disputed island Financial Times

China’s Subprime Crisis Is Here Bloomberg (resilc)

Why China’s Credit Boom Might Not Pack a Punch Wall Street Journal

Refugee Crisis

Many Refugees Facing Eviction in France Worked With British and American Forces Intercept


Will the UK leave the EU? How to track the odds of a Brexit Telegraph

Cameron’s EU renegotiation deal is still to be done BBC

David Cameron can’t win on Brexit Politico

German central bank chief on collision course with Draghi over QE Telegraph

Italy’s Banking Crisis Spirals Elegantly out of Control Wolf Richter. Details on how the ECB will buy bad Italian loans.

RBS ‘enjoyed £1bn tax breaks after investing in Harry Potter’ Telegraph

‘Thousands’ missing or killed in Canada BBC

CIA, NATO and Swedish Military Plotted Regime Change in Sweden in 1980s Russia Insider


America’s unlearned lesson: the forgotten truth about why we invaded Iraq Vox (steve h)

As Syrian Kurds gaining ground, Turkey seeks a pretext for invasion failed evolution

Syria Op-Ed: The US Has No Plan B to Deal with Russia and Iran’s Plan A EA WorldView (resilc)

The War on Yemen Has Nothing to Do With Self-Defense American Conservative (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Judge Orders Apple to Help Unlock Gunman’s Phone New York Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

The ‘Downton Abbey’ Generals Consortium News

The Hawkish Cult of “Leadership” American Conservative (resilc)

Supreme Court Trench Warfare

‘Constitution Is Pretty Clear’ on Naming Justice, Obama Says New York Times

Supreme Court Nomination Hearings Made More Sense During the Red Scare Than Now Charles Pierce, Esquire


Campaigns secretly prep for brokered GOP convention Politico

Ted Cruz’s Hugely Expensive Plan for a Huge Military Atlantic (resilc)

The Whistleblowers’ Weekly Lemons Award Goes to Dr. Ben Carson Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

Clinton, Sanders blaze different trails on Supreme Court nomination Politico

Hillary Clinton is spending today fundraising from bankers capitalizing on the housing crisis Daily Kos

The Foreign Policy Case for Bernie Sanders War on the Rocks (resilc)

Your theory of politics is wrong Steve Waldman (Scott)

The Democrats Are Republicans American Conservative (resilc)


Historic OPEC-Russia Agreement Will Have Minimal Impact OilPrice

What Saudi Arabia’s Freeze Means for Oil Prices Wall Street Journal

Banks are still the weak links in the economic chain Martin Wolf, Financial Times

US money market funds reinstate fees Financial Times. Paul Volcker would not be happy. He would love to see money market funds suffer.

Class Warfare

Thomas Piketty on the rise of Bernie Sanders: the US enters a new political era Guardian (EM)

Nickel and Dimed in 2016 Bill Moyers

The Goldman Sachs Theory of Capitalism Jacobin

Antidote du jour. From Chet G, who reprots he’s seen the doves bathing regularly in the bowl, but never drinking before:

dove-drink-15feb16 links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. DakotabornKansan

    When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging. Or, just keep digging deeper. And, while you’re at it, dig another hole for yourself.

    “Bernie-Wasn’t-There” – Jonathan Capehart’s delusions of adequacy.

    Shane Ryan, Paste, “The Jonathan Capehart Saga, Or Why Progressives Have Stopped Trusting the Corporate Media,” or Capehart is simply a hole in the air!

    “We know Capehart screwed up, and we know he’s allergic to accountability, but there’s still one thing we don’t know: Why?” Ryan explains.

    It’s not hard to figure out.

    For the role of a lickspittle? Why Jonathan, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world, but to be a sycophant on MSNBC and at the Post!

    Celebrated photographer, Danny Lyon, who was there, says, “Yes, that is Bernie Sanders.”

    “All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

    1. vidimi

      it’s crazy how the dem establishment is trying to swiftboat sanders. they are taking one of his greatest strengths and finest qualities and trying to tarnish that. it’s an interesting and tactical strategy, if extremely vile, and it’s disappointing to see so many shills in the media go along with it. would love it if the email ordering the strategy was leaked.

      1. Procopius

        They don’t need an email ordering it. They all see the first statement and say to themselves, “See? I knew it! Gotta pass it on. This is newsworthy.” Same way the Supreme Court ruled the tobacco companies did not need to talk to each other to collude in price fixing.

    1. Ruben

      I should say that when dis-aggregating the data Gelman and Auerbach confirm that American men also are dying at higher rates than in other developed countries but men have stabilized in their higher rate of dying out while middle-aged women are still robustly pushing up their passing away.

      1. Alejandro

        “I am” versus “we are” is a false dichotomy, and would seem in constant flux. Therefore, it would seem that the framing shouldn’t be static, i.e., “the map is not the terrain”…

  2. Clive

    Re: Statins.

    Yes, it’s the Daily Express, which is arguably worse than the Daily Mail but this deserves the coverage.

    I got advised that I should have an “over 45’s” health check which included blood tests and a physical. When I went to my doctor in Primary Care the only thing that came back amiss was cholesterol which, at 8.2 was high. Now, I eat about the most perfect diet imaginable. I exercise too and, again, follow every recommendation going. My BMI was 18.5 so I really cannot afford to loose any weight as I’m bordering on underweight (I don’t like BMI, however, it is a very crude measure but that’s a different topic, anyhow, I don’t want to do anything which will reduce my current calorific intake). So in terms of dietary advice, I could switch from some of the fats in my diet to protein, but the calorific loading of protein isn’t that high so I’d end up exacerbating the potential weight loss problem. And I certainly don’t want to switch from fats into carbs — especially sugars — to boost my calorie intake. Bottom line was, there’s little I can easily do on the dietary side to reduce cholesterol levels through that method.

    My dad has high cholesterol too so my doctor thought it was suggestive that I have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, especially as it was so high given my diet and general health otherwise. In short, I was told it’s either statins or live with the cholesterol level. I trust my doctor and don’t think they are bad at their job. Rather, I think he was just giving the current perceived wisdom when presented with a patient like myself. Statins weren’t “pushed” but then they were given a positive vibe. We discussed side effects and I was basically told that there’s a lot of exaggeration and not a great deal of evidence to what has been reported in the media.

    I went away unconvinced by the desirability of life-long medication. My problem is, I simply do not trust big pharma to not rig the game. This is the real price of crapified (or, perhaps better put, overly-commercialised) medicine. Once you loose trust — for whatever reason, either justifiably or unjustifiably — everyone suffers.

    1. Carla

      Clive– you may find some helpful ideas for lowering cholesterol without statins by putting “The People’s Pharmacy” into your search engine.

      1. Clive

        Thank you Carla ! None of the suggestions there seem outlandish or too much trouble (I love most of the things listed) so I’ve nothing to loose by giving them a go. It cannot be worse than a lifetime on statins.

          1. DorothyT

            Steve H mentions the link I tried to include in my response. Search “Mercola dietary cholesterol” 2015 summary of ‘new’ guidelines.

        1. DorothyT

          Clive: Suggest you search “dietary cholesterol” and read for yourself how the US dietary guidelines have changed recently. I’ve been unable to leave a link here but it’s easy enough to Google those search terms. The whole PR campaign about dietary cholesterol, in my opinion and that of many prominent researchers and doctors that you’ll find online, was designed to legitimize massive sales of statins. It’s sad to see so many obsess about their cholesterol levels while they avoid those foods that are healthy and more enjoyable for them.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            More science (mostly only affordable by rich military and non-military corporations) you can’t trust.

            Free college education to train the next generation to join them, or at least we can ask, how many will graduate to keep their system running?

            But no free education for truck driving schools – truck drivers are a dying species.

            1. Ulysses

              As a member in good standing of Teamsters local 251 I certainly hope your last sentence is incorrect!

              Your remark about college education prompts me to quote a passage from T. Frank’s recent piece– that finally gets around to telling Guardian readers some home truths they need to hear:

              “Office-holding Democrats of nearly every rank throw money at the people they call “innovators” while telling working-class Americans that little can be done about their ruined lives.

              The reason Democrats treat these professionals so respectfully in everything from trade deals to urban bike paths is because that is simply who the Democrats are today. Read through the party’s favorite works of political theory from the last few decades and you repeatedly encounter the same message: the highly credentialed experts and innovators at the top of the nation’s hierarchy of achievement belong there by virtue of their brilliance. That these people also happen to be colleagues and classmates of leading Democrats only reinforces the party’s identification with them. Liberals love to mock the One Percent and their self-serving ideology, but they themselves serve the needs of the top 10% just as blindly.

              In truth, our affluent, establishment Democrats can no more be budged from their core dogmas – that education is the solution to all problems, that professionals deserve to lead, that the downfall of the working class is the inevitable price we pay for globalization – than creationists can be wooed away from the tenets of “intelligent design”.”

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                That’s part of the IQ inequality.

                If you are a genius, the technology world is your oyster and not-so-smart people will be envious of your success.

                That’s the indoctrination since the first grade.

                PS: Sorry about the dying species remark. As a neo-Luddite, I hope that’s not the case. I was being sarcastic.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Yes, Thanks Carla.

          I found this quote from one of the articles on statins:

          In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (2/12/08) a doctor observed, “This drug [Lipitor] makes women stupid.”

          Does it help explain today’s voters (all voters, not just women voters)?

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      It doesn’t help you trust doctors when they accept payola from big pharma to push drugs. And statins have potential side effects. (from what I read on the Internets)

      1. Vatch

        It’s interesting how interconnected things are. Some doctors would probably accept payola no matter what, but I suspect a significant number of them are responding to their student loan debt (or the after-affects of that debt after having finally paid it off). Some physicians owe a lot of money, and they aren’t in a position to pay it off until after they finish their relatively low paying internships and residencies. Meanwhile, the interest keeps piling up. Example article about physician student loan debt:

        Despite this, the average physician is probably in pretty good financial shape.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You can’t trust doctors

        And you can’t trust scientists – those in statins or pharmaceuticals, or those working for climate denial camp, not to mention others directly or indirectly (though they are smart enough to think all the way through, even if they are only doing basic research) involved in weapons of all types and kinds.

        Scientists (bought or not bought) = agents and the agency of science.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Scientists are the agents of science. I believe that is neutral statement.

            Some are bought and some are not. That is also a neutral statement.

            Those working for pharmaceutical can’t be trusted – that I should and will dial back. Many, not all, are not trustworthy, in light of the discussion here.

            Those working for climate denial camp – that statement I will leave alone.

            Others involved in weapons, directly or indirectly, can’t be trusted – perhaps it depends on the person, but I will leave it like that.

            Doctors – that’s recap of an earlier comment. It is the general sentiment at the moment, given the discussion, but it is not universally like that, all the time. More like, we are losing trust day by day.

            Lastly, in general, the coverage of science is often one-sided when I come across, that I tend to over compensate for that. It’s best to be taken as one of the many views. Balance it like way (and not just my comments), you can get a broader mix of different opinions.

            1. Steve H.

              May I simply suggest ‘agents for science’ is more precise, and that trust is a choice, hopefully informed, and I think we both trust Yves and Lambert and Dave and et al. And that before you answer that, you know what ‘korinthenkacker’ means.

              “Then stop me, for the love of God.” – Adrian Monk

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Thanks for the improvement.

                Do you think that comment is still korinthenkacker? Which part(s), after I have dialed back?

                1. Steve H.

                  Nope, I meant first person singular. Which I try to avoid, because it tends to increase my shoot-from-the-hip comments.


                  First person singular, in reference to mine own person, -al comments.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    I do too many shoot from the hip comments myself.

                    Maybe to do with my ‘fastest shoot from the hip’ writing dreams I had growing up.

    3. paul

      Check the site of one the doctor’s commenting, here .

      He’ll reassure you that cholesterol lowering rarely has any beneficial outcomes, and that for statins (by the most generous measure):

      The median postponement of death for primary and secondary prevention trials were 3.2 and 4.1 days, respectively.

      It’s an excellent site with very positive reader input.

      When I found out my mother had been prescribed statins (purely as a matter of course) I told her to chuck them in the bin. Entirely coincidentally the agonising night cramps she had been experiencing since taking them disappeared.

    4. grayslady

      Clive, I lasted on statins less than one year. Did they make a dramatic improvement in my cholesterol? Absolutely. However, I had nightmares so severe I would wake up sobbing, and my gums became so sore I couldn’t use toothpaste–only baking soda. When I told my doctor, she understood that statins aren’t for everyone.
      The only “natural” alternative I could find–meaning something that doesn’t work in the same way as statins work–is artichoke leaf, taken as a capsule. I have yet to try it due to financial constraints (I’m already taking several doctor prescribed vitamins that aren’t covered by Medicare). Fish oil is also supposed to be helpful, or just eating a lot of herring and sardines.

      1. neo-realist

        I’ve had to start using statins not only because of a little higher than desirable cholesterol, but family history of heart disease that puts me at greater risk. In spite of the issues some have had with statins, they have been very beneficial for my cholesterol and the only noticeable problem has been “regularity” and occasional muscle aches upon awakening. Fortunately, there are substances I’ve been able to use to minimize the problem.

        Different strokes for different folks, or lack thereof with proper care:). I do the fish oil too.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          An organic apple a day.

          For me personally, I have found lowering my simple carbohydrate intake has helped a lot. But I am still a little on the high side, and am always looking for other dietary ways to address that problem.

    5. Foppe

      Clive: genetic predispositions may play a role, but the thing that the research is missing (to the advantage of the pill industry) is that genes aren’t the only things that run in famlies; diets do too. The current President of the American College of Cardiology recently made the following provocative-but-scientifically-uncontroversial, and sadly mostly ignored statement (after going vegan for health reasons in/around 2003) that “there are two kinds of cardiologists: vegans, and those who haven’t read the data.”
      As the author of this blog post notes (responding to/discussing a blog Williams wrote just before becoming the new president):

      For most of his adult life, Williams followed what popular medical advice calls a healthy diet: no red meat, no fried foods, skinless chicken breasts, fish, fruit, vegetables, and grains. It’s the same diet that most doctors around the country tell their patients to follow right now.

      So he was surprised in 2003 when his LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) tested very high at 170. He did some research, looked at the published science, and changed that very day to a meat-free diet. Even after a simple web search, he realized that his skinless chicken breast had more cholesterol (84 mg/100g) than pork does (62 mg/100g). Within six weeks, his LDL cholesterol went down to 90 (below 100 is ideal).

      Worth emphasizing from Williams’s own post:

      Interestingly, our ACC/American Heart Association (AHA) prevention guidelines do not specifically recommend a vegan diet, as the studies are very large and observational or small and randomized, such as those on Ornish’s whole food, plant-based diet intervention reversing coronary artery stenosis. The data are very compelling, but larger randomized trials are needed to pass muster with our rigorous guideline methodology.

      Wouldn’t it be a laudable goal of the American College of Cardiology to put ourselves out of business within a generation or two? We have come a long way in prevention of cardiovascular disease, but we still have a long way to go. Improving our lifestyles with improved diet and exercise will help us get there.

      For more information, see e.g. the work of Esselstyn (prevent & reverse heart disease); the site for the Physicians Committee for Responsible — i.e., only if dietary change doesn’t do the trick — Medicine; or, say, McDougall’s The Starch Solution. Common thread #1: whole foods, plant-based diet. #2: most of the affluence-related diseases are basically caused by food poisoning — mainly caused by eating animal products.

      1. Juneau

        I have to say my cholesterol dropped 30 points (ldl) when I stopped eating cheese and eggs. But that is probably due to my genetics and may not work for others. Women without other risk factors for heart attacks shouldn’t take statins imho. Doctors I know want to help their patients but are bound by FDA etc…to use FDA approved treatments first. If MD recommends red yeast rice and a good diet to you and you die from a heart attack anyway because you smoke a pack a day MD may still be vulnerable to accusations of malpractice because he didn’t prescribe the FDA approved lipitor no matter the evidence supporting the advice.

    6. Jen

      I’ve had the opportunity to work with physicians and researchers who are highly sceptical of overmedicalization and treatment, including one who headed the data safety monitoring board on the clinical trial that killed vioxx. Sad irony: one of the researchers I know, started on statins in his early 50s because of elevated cholesterol, and kept taking them. I remember a general internist friend of mine chiding him about it. The researcher developed early onset alzheimers. Smart, smart guy who contributed so much. An incredible waste of an great mind.

      1. neo-realist

        Without the statins, he may have died prior to the early onset alzheimers, assuming their was a connection; Not enough research to establish beyond a doubt of a strong link between alzheimers and statin use.

    7. Yves Smith Post author

      The big problem with all this statins nonsense is that all they look at is lowering cholesterol levels and use that reach unjustified conclusions. First, cholesterol is actually not clearly a cause or predictor of heart disease. Triglycerides and homocystine are better predictors. Second, there is NO evidence that lowering cholesterol levels in someone who does not have heart disease lowers all factor death rates.

  3. Ignim Brites

    “America’s unlearned lesson: the forgotten truth about why we invaded Iraq” Excellent.

    And pertinent as demonstrated by the following from the “The Foreign Policy Case for Bernie Sanders”:

    Sanders said in his victory speech in New Hampshire: “In the Middle East, the United States must remain part of an international coalition sustained by nations in the region that have the means to protect themselves. Together we must, and will, destroy ISIS, but we should do it in a way that does not put our young men and women in the military into perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East.”

    1. Torsten

      I was wholly unimpressed by Fisher’s blaming the Iraq War II on vague “ideology”. Fisher’s account obscures a range of concrete factors that contributed to the debacle. A short list might include:

      1. Saddam’s threat to sell oil for currencies other than the dollar
      2. Saudi Arabia’s desire to keep Iraqi oil off the market
      3. Israel’s desire to support Saudi Arabia
      4. Israel/Saudi Arabia’s desire to have the U.S. project military strength in the region
      5. The MIC’s financial interest in waging war
      6. The American public’s bloodlust to make somebody/anybody pay for 9/11
      7. Bush’s desire to obscure connections between the Bush and Bin Laden families, and even
      8. Saddam’s putative attempt to assassinate GHW Bush.

      At that juncture in history, I don’t think the neocons had a very coherent “ideology”, but they all saw how they could profit from a war, and then the war became their ideology.

      1. diptherio

        That article contains some serious historical revisionism. “The hawks fooled themselves, donchaknow? Nothing intentional going on here. They really thought that those weapons were there.” Which is BS.

        A movement of high-minded ideologues had, throughout the 1990s, become obsessed with deposing Saddam Hussein. When they assumed positions of power under Bush in 2001, they did not seek to trick America into that war, but rather tricked themselves. In 9/11, and in fragments of intelligence that more objective minds would have rejected, they could see only validation for their abstract and untested theories about the world — theories whose inevitable and obvious conclusion was an American invasion of Iraq.

        They set up a whole new WH-led “intelligence” group to take already discredited reports of Saddam buying yellow cake that came from a known liar and spin them as a case for war. “More objective minds” not only “would have” but did reject that intelligence. They were ignored. The only people being fooled were the citizenry (we’ll some of them anyway: I could smell the BS from miles away).

        1. fresno dan

          Last fall, Donald Trump claimed that, on September 11, 2001, thousands of Muslims cheered the fall of the World Trade Center. This vicious fiction drew the scorn of fact-checkers and social liberals but caused nary a ripple in the Republican field. But, on Saturday night, Trump said something else about 9/11, something so far beyond the pale that conservatives finally rose up in righteous indignation. He claimed that on 9/11 the president of the United States was George W. Bush.

          Republicans disagree internally on aspects of Bush’s domestic legacy, but his record on counterterrorism remains a point of unified party doctrine. Bush, they agree, Kept Us Safe. To praise the president who oversaw the worst domestic terrorist attack in American history for preventing domestic terrorism is deeply weird, and the only way this makes any sense is to treat 9/11 as a kind of starting point, for which his predecessor is to blame. (Marco Rubio, rushing to Dubya’s defense at Saturday night’s Republican debate, explained, “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.”) Trump not only pointed out that Bush was president on 9/11 and that the attacks that day count toward his final grade, but he also noted that Bush failed to heed intelligence warnings about the pending attack and that his administration lied to the public about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

          Conservatives have always dismissed such notions as far-left conspiracy theorizing, often equating it with the crackpot notion that 9/11 was an inside job. The ensuing freak-out at Trump’s heresy has been comprehensive. “It turns out the front-runner for the GOP nomination is a 9/11 ‘truther’ who believes Bush knew 9/11 was going to happen but did nothing to stop it,” says Marc Thiessen, the columnist and former Bush administration speechwriter. “Moreover, Trump says, Bush knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but lied to the American people to get us into a Middle East war.” Trump is “borrowing language from and Daily Kos to advance the absurd ‘Bush lied, people died’ Iraq War narrative,” cried National Review’s David French. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol demanded that, even should Trump win the nomination, fellow Republicans refuse to “conscientiously support a man who is willing to say something so irresponsible about something so serious, for the presidency of the United States.”

          In fact, Trump has not claimed that Bush had specific knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. He said, “George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA.” That is correct. Bush was given numerous, detailed warnings that Al Qaeda planned an attack. But the Bush administration had, from the beginning, dismissed fears about terrorism as a Clinton preoccupation. Its neoconservative ideology drove the administration to fixate on state-supported dangers — which is why it turned its attention so quickly to Iraq. The Bush administration ignored pleas by the outgoing Clinton administration to focus on Al Qaeda in 2000, and ignored warnings by the CIA to prepare for an upcoming domestic attack. The Bush administration did not want the 9/11 attacks to occur; it was simply too ideological and incompetent to take responsible steps to prevent them.


          What most annoys me (well, thats not true – every single thing the repubs do annoys me) with at least what Rubio says is, that on the one hand its Clinton’s fault for not killing Bin Laden. Soooo Mr. Rubio, what EXACTLY, ON DAY ONE, did Bush do with regard to Bin Laden when he got to the White House – on DAY ONE??? (as repubs are like parrots with regard to “DAT ONE”!!!!)
          If everybody knew that Bin Laden should be killed***, why didn’t Bush do it immediately upon taking up residence????? Did Bush not know???? Or was Bush incompetent????

          *** or for that matter, AFTER 9/11?????? And it turns out after Bush leaves, and Obama gets Bin laden, but NOW according to repubs “never mind”!?!?!?!?

          I can actually accept that it is unlikely that any president could have actually been able to institute policies and plans that would have effective – everything from airline security to student visas played a part.

          But the justification of extremely poor thinking mixed with mule stubborn ideology that got us into Iraq, and an incredibly dishonest discussion of the events afterward, in my view makes the repubs not serious with regard to foreign policy – which is even more ironic as the repubs act as if foreign policy is something they have had success with and great expertise in! Astounding!!!

          1. Carolinian

            Actually Clinton did try to kill Osama in Afghanistan–with cruise missiles I believe but they missed. And in fairness to Bush the reality of what happened on 9/11 was probably hard to imagine in advance regardless of intelligence warnings. Bush’s real crime was what he did afterwards. We are still living with the consequences which have done far more harm to our society than the attack itself.

            1. fresno dan


              The cover-up was grotesquely crude. Republicans in Congress insisted that the original commission investigating the issue confine itself to faulty intelligence given to the Bush administration and steer clear of manipulation by the Bush administration itself. The report stated this clearly: “Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.” It was not until a subsequent commission that the administration’s culpability was investigated. And that commission, which became known as the “Phase II” report, found that the Bush administration did indeed mislead the public: “[T]he Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

              You might think Republicans would have developed a sophisticated response, but they haven’t. Their defense for the last decade has consisted of claiming the Phase I report, which was forbidden from investigating the Bush administration, actually vindicated Bush, and ignoring the existence of the Phase II report. Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial does it again, calling the claim that Bush lied a “conspiracy theory,” which was refuted by — you guessed it — the Phase I report. (“Their report of more than 600 pages concludes that it was the CIA’s ‘own independent judgments — flawed though they were — that led them to conclude Iraq had active WMD programs.’”)

              Phase II of the Senate report:

              “The committee’s investigation into prewar intelligence on Iraq has
              revealed that the Bush administration’s case for war in Iraq was
              fundamentally misleading.
              Prior to the war, administration officials repeatedly characterized
              Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs in more conclusive and
              threatening terms than were substantiated by the underlying
              intelligence assessments. Analytical assessments of the intelligence
              community that were not in line with the more strident administration
              view on alleged Iraqi links to al-Qaida and the 9/11 plot were ignored
              and were denigrated by senior policymakers. Most disturbingly, the
              administration, in its zeal to promote public opinion in the United
              States before toppling Saddam Hussein, pursued a deceptive strategy
              prior to the war of using intelligence reporting that the intelligence
              community warned was uncorroborated, unreliable, and, in critical
              instances, fabricated.”

              In my view, the most important word is “zeal” – the repubs are scared of things that are not there and threats that don’t exist. And of course, they ignore, obfuscate, and dissemble about evidence that is there of their own inept performance and wrongheaded understanding.

              “The administration’s–this is key–the administration’s repeated
              allegations of the past, present, and future relationship between al-
              Qaida and Iraq exploited the deep sense of insecurity among Americans
              in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, leading a large
              majority of Americans to believe, contrary to the intelligence
              assessments at the time, that Iraq had a role in the 9/11 terrorist

              Here, the most important word is “exploited” – I think it is hard not to come to the conclusion that repubs have not learned from the errors of the Bush administration, but believe that war and terrorism is good for their electoral prospects – the repubs brand themselves the security party….

          2. JohnnyGL

            The elephant in the room regarding world terrorism, and including 9/11, remains: Saudi Arabia. Still, no one wants to touch this lynchpin of American foreign policy.

            Sen. Bob Graham was on the 9/11 commission and has been yelling, “the Saudis did it” to anyone who’ll listen.

        2. Lambert Strether

          “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” — Downing Street Memos.

          There’s no reason to give these people an iota of credit for acting in good faith. And that goes for most of the foreign policy establishment, which is why Sanders has trouble developing a list of non-insane, non-war criminal, non-pro-torture advisors.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        How is an article that describes paul wolfowitz as an “idealist and humanitarian” to be taken seriously?

        And what, exactly, is meant by “Donald Trump’s ‘stunt’?”

        Lies told by irrational, megalomaniacal zionist fanatics are still lies.

        1. bob

          The best description for the Trump truth episode I heard was that he finally admitted that Michael Moore was right.

          11-12 years late.

    2. Brindle


      Fisher articulates a version of history where the Dems are barely mentioned, they are just mostly bystanders who were no match versus the ideological driven GOP.
      9/11 did not shake the foundations of American foreign policy, it allowed it to go into overdrive. Bringing democracy to Iraq?—is this a bad joke?
      Weak sauce:

      —Their case was always grandly ideological, rooted in highly abstract and untested theories about the nature of the world and America’s rightful place in it. Their beliefs were so deeply held that when 9/11 shook the foundations of American foreign policy, they were able to see only validation of their worldview, including their belief in the urgent need to bring democracy to Iraq.—

  4. petal

    Thank you for the article about being bilingual. I am 37 and near the end of my first (full immersion) German language class. This term I have gotten frustrated because when speaking with work colleagues I have been unable to come up with words in English that I have been speaking my whole life. It’s been fascinating. When I was younger and learning Spanish, it wasn’t an issue. I am hoping if I ever can afford to have a baby I’ll start them off with both(or more) languages and maybe it will come easier to them.

    1. vidimi

      as someone living in france, i can confirm this happens all the time. franglais should be recognised as an official language.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Hmm, they always asked me what the purpose of a glass was; “Eh, le monsieur qui sort la bas, oui, vous! C’est pour quoi fair un vere?” Odd question, I always thought. But Then they would look at me even more oddly when I said, “Pour boire.”

          Suggesting you have a nice day (ahh the subjunctive no less) is a big change from those days when they just couldn’t get the idea of for drinking (they contracted it down to le pourboire) off their minds.

    2. Dr. Robert

      Maybe It’s just German? I often find myself grasping for an English word to express a German concept and coming up empty.

      1. petal

        Nah, these were basic English words in conversation. I blanked out. It’s like my brain froze. I can’t remember which words they were, but I apologised to my work colleagues for not being able to put a sentence together about what we were doing at the time. Had nothing to do with German concepts. I’ve been speaking German 2 hours every morning for 3 days a week and one hour each on the other two days since the first week of January and then I study in the evenings and on the weekends. It’s been pretty intense. Some days it feels like I can’t come up with the English words(but still not even having the German words) even though I’m a native English speaker. It’s a complete brain block while in the middle of speaking a sentence. It’s really weird and has been frustrating.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          There is surely a name, some big fancy sucker, for this, but what ever it is called, it happens to a lot of people. You keep insisting to your mind you want to eat, sleep, drink and most of all think in the language you are trying to learn and soon enough the mind obliges you handsomely.

          Learning languages by submerersion seems to go in stages and one always does (sooner or later) get to the other side of the “can’t speak my own language” stage. Can you understand folks when speaking to them over the phone? For many, that is a big hurdle and indicates you are starting the stage of real fluency at least with the spoken language.

        2. EmilianoZ

          It’s probably not the German. I would suggest going easy on the drinks, stop smoking the stuff that Bill did not inhale, and see how it goes.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What else changes the brain?

      Being around money all day long, maybe?

      Being around beautiful people all the time?

      Being around the most powerful men and women, 24/7?


      I think learning a new language also changes the body, the appearance and one’s body language. Are those learning American English more likely to be on the Standard American Diet and, er, gain weight?

      Does learning American English lead a kid to more likely wear his baseball cap backward? And move his body parts like a rock star on MTV?

    4. OIFVet

      I will be 39 this year, and have been deeply immersed in America for 24 years. I haven’t thought in my native language for almost 20 years now, and it had taken a big hit fluency-wise. But I have practiced it a lot lately, as I will be moving back within the year, most likely. And I have come to realize that with regular practice I can indeed think in Bulgarian as well. It takes longer, some words don’t come very easy, and I now can’t speak a single language without a bit of an accent. But really, the biggest issue is that I am part of two cultures, and I don’t fully belong to either one. Most people may accept me as member, some refuse to, but I feel like I can’t fully identify with either. It is a rather strange way to exist, once the realization hits you, but such is life in the era of globalization…

  5. vidimi

    at the school where my wife is doing an mba, every week they have a different theme celebrating the culture of a different country. this week’s them is turkey, and they have invited a turkish diplomat to speak about turkish foreign policy, whose official doctrine is peace abroad, peace at home. an announcement for the event was posted in the facebook group for mba partners, so i commented with four questions i wanted to ask:
    1-is turkey’s well-documented albeit unofficial support for ISIS part of this peace abroad peace at home strategy?
    2-will the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in ankara that killed 140 kurds be brought to justice?
    3-did the shooting down of the russian jet over syria contribute to the peace abroad peace at home doctrine?
    4-how does imprisoning academic critics of erdogan’s policy towards the kurds square with this policy?

    i was promptly booted from the group.

    maybe business schools don’t have the same rigorous standards of learning and truth-seeking as real universities (ok, it’s certain they don’t), but the creeping level of censorship of free speech in europe specifically (and the west generally) is terrifying.

      1. ambrit

        I’ve encountered the same thing before. I have seriously pondered the idea that there are several SKYNET filtering algorithms at work; one NC generated, and another NSA generated. I ‘flash’ on the section in “Catch 22” about censoring the letters home of the soldiers. (There might be bored Security Service [SS] workers in Utah having a bit of fun applying some random ‘trigger words’ to comment traffic on sites they keep watch over.)

        1. ambrit

          As an example of the hypothesis suggested above, my reply to vidimi just above has been sent to the Moderation Limbo.
          Ah, bitter sweet mystery of life.

          1. Carolinian

            As our esteemed hosts say, if you want 24/7 comment vetting send more money.

            Helps to be philosophical.

            1. ambrit

              I, at the least, am being philosophical, as in Cynical.
              As I posited in my Moderated comment, I’m wondering if there aren’t more than one screening algorithms at work here. Conspirational thinking is in bad repute here, logically so I must admit.
              One of humanities favourite pass-times is searching for pattern and meaning in the realms we inhabit. Otherwise, why economics and finance?
              I verge on Trollery on occasion, so I abide with the fallout attendant thereof. We do well to comport ourselves according to our Fates.

            2. Brooklin Bridge

              I try to be positive. And it helps considerably to simply re-read my comment that got trashed (edit elsewhere). After doing so, I am sooo grateful that there is this big safety net in the sky saving me from moi-meme though how it stays up there I have no idea.

      2. hunkerdown

        Skynet uses more than your own words to judge. It’s also watching everything around you and everything else that came from where you are now, in order to get an idea of what sort of spam “threat” you are.

        1. EmilianoZ

          Well, they make computers that are able to drive, have a conversation with you, beat go champions, …. Surely they can train one, through thousands of layers of deep learning neural networks with SVM and Bayesian nets and hidden Markov chains, that can distinguish a dangerous spam from an innocuous comment.

  6. Carolinian

    Trump calls Dubya a liar, sees no decline in the polls.

    Meanwhile NPR oddly allows their announcer Steve Inskeep to make the unflattering comparison of Trump to 19th century mega racist Andrew Jackson. After making a tenuous case that Trump’s base of support is the same Appalachian Scots-Irish demo as Jackson, Inskeep does a 180 and says Trump unlikely to be as popular as Jackson since modern America considerably different. No kidding.

    No word on whether Morning Edition will start referring to Trump as Old Hickory. NPR must believe that their listeners are Clinton voting Trump haters (likely true) and therefore no downside to having their morning show front man get all meta on the candidates. But then they did long ago allow Mara Liason to go to work for Fox News while still serving as their “objective” political reporter. Veteran NPR listeners knew that Mara was in the tank long before that. As for Morning Edition, bring back Bob Edwards I say.

    1. Andrew Watts

      I’m not entirely sure that isn’t a good historical comparison. Beyond the smear attempt Trump, like Andrew Jackson before him, represents a populist revolt from the right-wing spectrum of politics. Which does have some appeal to the left wing like fresno dan and other posters have pointed out. On this basis it’s unknown whether a theoretical President Trump would be as effective as Jackson at smacking down any dissent attempting to gridlock politics.

      Personally, I think It’d be better if Sanders cranked up his anti-free trade rhetoric to attempt to bridge that gap. NAFTA accelerated the pace of immigration since it destroyed the livelihood of Mexican farmers. The xenophobic aversion to immigration would be dampened by killing free trade agreements as it would reduce the flow of economic immigrants in North America. Europe is a different story.

      1. Carolinian

        I’m not so much objecting to the Jackson comparison as to the fact that an NPR journalist who covers the campaign with interviews etc is doing it (even though he did write a book about Jackson). Also the notion that New Yorker Trump is a phenomenon coming out of Appalachia–after he just won big in New Hampshire–strikes me as a bit strained. Trump’s base of disaffected working class is a nationwide group.

        Or maybe I’m just taking a shot at Inskeep. Still this strikes me as inapproprate.

  7. Brindle


    In South Carolina Trump’s divergence from GOP orthodoxy does not hurt him in the polls. A large segment of the “GOP base” sees that having ideological conservatives in office has not helped them in their own lives.
    From today’s NYT (Trip Gabriel):

    —NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Mark Jebens, a veteran of 22 years in the Marine Corps, found no fault with Donald J. Trump’s scathing criticism that President George W. Bush “lied” about weapons of mass destruction while leading the United States into war in Iraq.

    “At the end of the day, a lot of good Marines and sailors and airmen died over something that wasn’t there,” said Mr. Jebens, who served three combat tours in Iraq. “So you’ve got to ask tough critical questions. In the military we called it a debrief or a hot wash.”—

    1. fresno dan

      Week ago Sunday, one of the two eventual winners of the New Hampshire primaries assailed the power of corporate lobbyists over the U.S. government, labeling them “bloodsuckers.” He attacked defense contractors for forcing the government to buy missiles it didn’t need. He blasted oil companies and insurers. And he vowed to use the bargaining power of the U.S. government to drive down drug prices. Surprisingly, this was a speech not by the democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders but, rather, by the self-proclaimed billionaire Donald Trump.

      Even before the Trump and Sanders victories in New Hampshire last week, the surface parallels between the men had attracted lots of comment: both are insurgents, channeling widespread political disaffection. Less apparent, but more interesting, is the fact that they’re also channeling profound disaffection with three decades of American economic policy. Trump and Sanders are popular not just because they’re expressing people’s anger but because they offer timely critiques of American capitalism.

      That’s obvious in the case of Sanders, whose campaign has focused on income inequality and the undue influence of corporate élites. Trump’s economic populism, on the other hand, tends to be drowned out by his incendiary anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim positions. Nonetheless, it’s what distinguishes him most strongly from other hard-line conservatives, like Ted Cruz. Trump has called for abolishing the carried-interest tax loophole for hedge-fund and private-equity managers. He’s vowed to protect Social Security. He’s called for restrictions on highly skilled immigrants. Most important, he’s rejected free-trade ideology, suggesting that the U.S. may need to slap tariffs on Chinese goods to protect American jobs. These views put Trump at odds not only with the leadership of the Republican Party but also with the main thrust of economic thinking since the nineteen-eighties, which has been to embrace globalization.

      I know I am a broken record on it. I think both Sanders and Trump are showing the extreme dissatisfaction, but I bring up Trump more because I think he is the more unusual and significant case that requires a much greater change in mind set not to buy the repub bullsh*t by its good ole boy / southern base.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That going against ‘the main thrust of economic thinking since the nineteen-eighties’ represents a fundamental change, I believe.

        In it, I see, the replacing of ‘It’s the economy stupid,’ with ‘It’s the people in it, smart guy.’

        Don’t tell us more globalization/free trade means cheaper goods and more GDP.

        Tell us how we can bring greater benefits to the working people in the economy.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Good link and comment. Let’s see a few more results come in from additional states to help reveal how deep the dissatisfaction runs.

      3. Andrew Watts

        Most important, he’s rejected free-trade ideology, suggesting that the U.S. may need to slap tariffs on Chinese goods to protect American jobs.

        That might be his funding plan for his Southern Wall. Withdraw from NAFTA and slap tariffs on products coming out of Mexico. It doesn’t change the historical fact that when the walls go up the empire usually falls down.

        1. Steve Gunderson

          I wonder if there is a single large company in the US that does not rely on imports from China.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It was when the Roman empire moved to Constantinople that we saw the flowering of native, national languages and cultures.

          Yes, they also lost Coliseum animal shows, with Christians fighting lions from Africa – the more dramatic part of free-trade zone civilization.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That should encourage others.

      We need to challenge the Democratic orthodoxy now (rejecting you know who).

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Humans are a funny bunch.

        Sometimes, that’s called visions and dreams; other times, they are sent to asylums.

  8. vidimi

    i am starting to open up to the idea that it’s not the zika virus that is behind the microcephaly cases in brazil, but that it is a scape goat for something darker. someone should test the water.

    Doubts focus on the uneven spread of the disease and birth abnormalities. Almost all the linked cases are found in the north-east region of Brazil. Elsewhere, the Zika outbreak does not appear to have had the same impact. In neighbouring Colombia, which has more than 31,000 Zika cases, including at least 5,000 pregnant women, there has not been the same sharp rise in foetal deformities. There, the virus is more closely associated with Guillain–Barré syndrome, an immune system failure that can cause paralysis and death.


    Doubts about the causes continue to spark controversy. This week, the state government of Rio Grande do Sul in the south of Brazil banned the use of the larvicide pyriproxyfen after a report by the Argentinian group Physicians in Crop-Sprayed Towns suggested it might be causing the foetal brain deformities. Brazilian health authorities and the larvicide’s makers – Monsanto and Sumitomo Chemical – said there was no scientific basis for this claim. But Lobel said there was a strong possibility pesticides could be involved and this needed to be studied.

    1. Sam Adams

      Interesting correlation: the area of peak zika virus outbreak is also the epicenter of genetically modified mosquito releases. Just yesterday the WHO announced it might be necessary to combat zika virus with genetically modified mosquitos.

  9. Watt4Bob

    So,Max Fisher says it wasn’t lies or ‘faulty intelligence’ that got us into the war in Iraq, it was ideology;

    This ideology stated that authoritarian states were inherently destabilizing and dangerous; that it was both a moral good and a strategic necessity for America to replace those dictatorships with democracy — and to dominate the world as the unquestioned moral and military leader.

    I hope Max will excuse me for pointing out that the ‘ideology’ he speaks of is basically a tired set of rationalizations for doing what ever is necessary to control Middle Eastern oil, and for remembering that most of the region’s authoritarian states were, and are propped up by American money and weapons, with the clear intent to assure American oil companies’ continued access to that oil.

    And don’t forget that Dick Cheney’s secret meetings with his “Energy Task Force” featured maps of oil wells and pipelines, and discussions of who-gets-what after the Iraqis stop showering our soldiers with flowers.

    Max Fisher has the cart before the horse, It wasn’t ideology that led to the invasion of Iraq, it was hubris, and rapacious greed.

    The ‘ideology’ is a thin excuse used to make cover for behavior that makes no sense otherwise.

    1. fresno dan

      Maybe the ideology of lying?
      Or maybe the ideology of stupidity?
      Why not both?
      Of course, it could just be some kind of mental defect – the simple inability to see reality as it is.
      These are people who put forth the proposition that there were some inconsequential errors, but overall we are better off for having been involved in Iraq!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Watt4Bob

        …not to mention how much better off the Iraqi people are, and the region as a hole, for that matter.

        And did I mention how much safer I’ve been feeling lately?

      1. Watt4Bob

        “Wouldn’t you rather give me my money, that you have in your pocket, than make me pull my gun, and point it at you, and become a criminal?”

        What’s that other ‘joke’ that went around concerning ‘our’ foreign policy ;

        “We can bomb you with money, or we can bomb you with bombs?”

        Yes, you’re right, it’s never more than a matter of rhetoric with these murderous a**holes.

  10. Steve H.

    – Leadership

    “Leadership may be considered as the process (acts) of influencing the activities of an organized group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement.” – Stogdill, 1950.

    This seems to be the definition that other definitions have not been able to distinguish themselves from.

    The question is then, what is the organized group that is the object of the leadershipping? I find that ill-defined by Sasse and Ernst. But this quote caught my eye:

    – We met privately with seven heads of state, and their message was unmistakable: “We don’t know who the U.S. is anymore. Your enemies don’t fear you, and your friends don’t trust you.”

  11. The Bell

    I thought it was a pretty funny take down of ACOs as just another fad. And how they’ve avoided “accountability” by being opaque about outcomes as possible. No research has conclusively proven this will slow spending growth. Ultimately it’s Medicare Advantage all over again (another program that’s touted as a success but without any conclusive proof of that “success”)

  12. DakotabornKansan

    Another sad chapter in the American dream.

    Kenneth Feinberg was in Kansas City yesterday. He was named special master by the U.S. Treasury to determine whether a massive pension cut proposal by the Central States Pension Fund meets the stipulations of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, which allows severely underfunded pension plans to cut retiree benefits.

    Central States says the cuts are necessary because the fund will run out of money in 2026.

    The Central States Pension Fund covers 400,000 participants, 220,000 already retired.

    Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver says that three billion dollars in Missouri pensions are at risk.

    “We are literally Two Americas, remarkably out of touch with each other— the fortunate living the American Dream but lacking any practical comprehension of how the other half are suffering, month in and month out, unaware of the enervating toll of economic despair on the unfortunate half, many of whom just two or three years before had counted themselves among the fortunate.” – Hedrick Smith, Who Stole the American Dream?

    1. Katiebird

      I’ve seen this story on the news. It is terrifying. How can we make any plans when our income (not actully mine in this case, but who knows about the next event) can be yanked away at any time.

      1. hunkerdown

        “How can we make any plans” — even the vested multitudes and the angel-investor grandma set have a good reason to oppose the Establishment, if only they would heed it.

    2. flora

      Central States PF covers union pensions.
      Why do unions keep supporting Wall St. dems like Obama and Hillary?

  13. Brindle

    Entertaining twitter fight went on last night between emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler) and an editor of Daily Kos–Armandokos over a KillerMike (rapper who supports Sanders) comment about Hillary.
    Have to say don’t tangle with Marcy—she sliced and diced the Kos editor:

    —-“Shorter Hillary’s campaign: Hey, let’s doctor a Big Mike quote to look Lloyd Blankfein look less criminal by comparison.”—

  14. RabidGandhi

    The payback for my youthly linguistic hubris has been the envy of having to watch my kids easily pick up languages (and even slang and local accents!) while my own language acquisition has slowed to a snail’s pace. As adults we are rather dumb compared to our childhood selves, but don’t let that discourage your efforts! Quite to the contrary: my advice would be to keep trudging forward without comparing yourself to the past.

    As far as “missing” words or phrases, IMO learning a language– especially in immersion, where you have to think quick on the spot– is all about finding work-arounds (insofar as possible). You’ll know you’re doing well if you do not think of the term in your native language, but rather just blurt out whatever comes to mind.

    Viel glück!

  15. Carolinian

    Hillary, against Kissinger before she was for him.

    She said Kissinger blanched, speechless at her deft reminder of the Vietnam War…Now at last, in Hillary’s dream, it registered that his strategic designs had spewed carnage and venom for seven needless years…’That’s what I dreamed,’ Hillary repeated, lost in thought. ‘You know, I always get my revenge in dreams, but never in real life.”

    15 years later she worries the old dream story will come out.

    By that time, Clinton was already good friends with Kissinger. In fact, her big concern about that interview Newsweek was doing with her and Kissinger was that it would expose the fact that she wasn’t that close to President Obama. From another 2009 email:

    The only issue I think might be raised is that I see POTUS at least once a week while K saw Nixon everyday. Of course if I was dealing with that POTUS I’d probably camp in his office to prevent him from doing something problematic.

    From youthful war protestor to sharing beachfront villa with the warmonger himself. Guess Lord Acton was right. HRC–Secret Servive code name Chameleon.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Looks like she stopped by to smoke some chronic with Dr K before her speech in Harlem yesterday:

      In the middle of her Tuesday speech in Harlem that discussed race relations, Hillary Clinton had multiple coughing fits that prevented her from getting her words out on more than one occasion.

      It got so bad that the audience enthusiastically started chanting “Hillary! Hillary!” to provide encouragement as Clinton started taking sips of water while popping in a cough drop.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s the Vanity of Man, isn’t it?

      “I can use the Ring to save the world…my version of the world.”

      This atomic bomb will help the good guys end the war early, save many lives. The bad guys will never have it.

      “My ego says I can use him more beneficially for the good guys.”

  16. flora

    Thanks for the Thomas Piketty link. Very good read. He talks economics.

    Compare Piketty’s column to NYT 2/16 Brooks column wherein he advises Hillary and non-Trump candidates: ” you have to set a rival and stronger emotional tone.”

  17. craazyman

    The Crash Continues!

    The collapse of the global equity markets has entered its second day of gains. This is typical of a collapse and should not be confused with a broad market advance. Maintain your positions and keep your asteroid guns pointed at the sky. If you need to stand on your head to see things in proper perspective, you are free to do so. If it’s going up you can reassure yourself it’s going down by standing on yiur head. Then you can say “It’s not going up in my book, baby.” You don’t have to say “baby”. That’s optional.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Dr Hussman’s “one day barn-burner rally” (preceding the dreaded “five days of apocalypse”) is now in its third day — oops! Obviously the market has malfunctioned.

      Meanwhile, in a ray of light for the “data-driven Fed,” industrial production rose 0.9% and capacity utilization strengthened from 76.4% to 77.1%.

      After plugging these new data into my homebrew “R-word” recession indicator, it strengthened on the pop in cap ute, though it’s not quite back to its high of a year ago.

      As for the good Dr H, who’s been banging the recession drum pretty hard for the last few weeks, he’s under sedation and is resting comfortably.

      1. Jim Haygood

        I got banned from that site by mocking the proprietor’s utter incomprehension of seasonal adjustment, which has its valid uses.

        Throughout the winter, every real estate sales report is “beared up” with dire warnings that unadjusted home sales are crashing — as they do every winter.

        Same story today, where a y-o-y decline in industrial production is highlighted as proof of a bone-crushing recession, whereas the strong monthly pop is airbrushed out of the permabearish world view.

        Repent, sinner, for the end is nigh!

        1. Clive

          I’d regard being banned from Zero Hedge as a badge of honour ! Well done — given the quality of the comments they don’t see fit to ban, yours must have been a doozy.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Jim, I have been wrong many times before.

          But one day i will be vindicated that numbers do lie.

    2. craazyboy

      3 day upside down crash! I think so far this year we’ve bounced off the S&P 500 1820 support level around 4 times. This time all the way up to 1920 so far. That’s like a dead cat on a trampoline.

      Moreover, the Fed minutes from weeks ago is coming out today, so I hope they had the foresight to say the March rate hike is on schedule, because the economy will be looking strong in mid February.

  18. fresno dan

    The Hawkish Cult of “Leadership” American Conservative (resilc)

    Whenever someone says that something is “inarguable,” it’s a good bet that this is the weakest part of the argument. It is very questionable whether U.S. “leadership” in the abstract is needed in many parts of the world, and it is even more debatable whether it is desirable for us to exercise that “leadership” in certain regions. The U.S. has frittered away trillions of dollars and thousands of lives on ill-conceived attempts to show “leadership” in the Near East, and in the process inflicted enormous harm on the region with virtually nothing to show for the effort. A lot depends on what the senators mean by “leadership,” and their statements earlier in the op-ed confirm the suspicion that they equate “leadership” with meddling in foreign conflicts, interfering in the affairs of other nations, and generally having the U.S. make unnecessary and unwise commitments overseas.

    And how many US service men were killed by the police/armed forces of our “allies”?
    Again, a few people at the top fool themselves

  19. fresno dan

    The ‘Downton Abbey’ Generals Consortium News

    General Robert E. Lee, it is said, lived out his life in near penury, refusing to shill as a product endorser because it would mean cashing in on the blood his men had spilled. George C. Marshall, America’s organizer of victory in World War II, also spent his retirement following the stern code of a soldier in a constitutional republic.

    Now the overwhelming drive among general and flag officers is to cash in. As it is with so many congressmen and executive branch officials, their time in office is really just a stepping stone to making a killing.

    Just as Robert Rubin and Trent Lott profited beyond the dreams of avarice after leaving government service, General David Petraeus, despite the embarrassing denouement to his career, became a partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., a Wall Street leveraged buyout firm. His previous experience in investment banking is doubtful, but obviously KKR was in the market for a Beltway-connected door opener.

    ” General David Petraeus, despite the embarrassing denouement to his career, became a partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., a Wall Street leveraged buyout firm.”

    Maybe they are going to start using drones on Wall Street…

    1. vidimi

      i’m pretty sure this is because west point has become a de facto business school, and becoming and officer is just a military mba.

    2. Steve Gunderson

      embarrassing denouement” is that what they call it now a days when a US Army General gives military secrets to his lover?

      I think in WWII Patton would have shot him for treason.

      1. polecat

        treason is only for you n me ya know……..never to pertain to the big fish that actually engage in it on a seemingly daily basis !!

    3. JTMcPhee

      More on the Lifestyles of the Rank of O-6 And Above:

      On a personal note: after finishing Basic Training, I was “on casual status” pending an opening in advanced training. “Casual” means anyone with clout can grab you for all the menial crap details on base. One day I and several other “troops” were sent in our fatigue uniforms to the base golf course, where we were given elongated buckets with a snout that would pick up a golf ball and stuff it up into the bucket, and sent out onto the driving range. Where the officers practicing their swings would do their damndest to hit us with line shots and chips.

      At another post, one friend was the crew chief for the post general’s Beechcraft Kingair twin turboprop (precursor to the “private jets with military numbers” they now get). This plane had all the comforts and conveniences and was maintained like a royal yacht. Many of the trips the general took were to NASCAR events and pro golf venues to rub up with the players and drivers. Operating costs as I recall it were about $2800 an hour (jet fuel was “free,” of course).

      And in Vietnam, the general who ruled the First Cavalry did declare that us troops would run our own mess halls, make our own bunks, and burn our own sh!t. He however had a number of locals on his personal wait staff. The base at An Khe started taking some very accurate mortar fire. It turned out that the general’s personal Vietnamese barber was a forward observer (from inside the perimeter) who spent his evenings directing that fire.

      It’s all just more of the corruption and debasement and hypocrisy that apparently is inevitable for us human critters.

      1. fresno dan

        Wow – “casual” as a word for menial work in the service – brings back memories. Wow, 40 years ago!

  20. Kim Kaufman

    Supreme Court:

    What Obama Wants in a Nominee

    “President Obama has one major goal in picking a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: make it as hard as possible for Republicans to oppose his nominee.

    In his first extended comments on the selection process, Obama said that he intends to pick an “indisputably” qualified candidate who should garner respect on both sides of the aisle. ”

    Gives Obama an excuse to nominate a corporate right of center candidate. Maybe we should wait.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      He combines his corporate right of center candidate with identify politics, and we will see how the Republicans would react.

      1. neo-realist

        And hopefully supports the Roe v Wade status quo, in spite of the fact that in many of the red states, one barely has access to abortion services.

    2. nycTerrierist

      Agreed. With Obama-style ‘wins’ for Team D, we might as well have losses.

      see Unaffordable Care Act, etc.

  21. fresno dan

    Your theory of politics is wrong Steve Waldman (Scott)

    If you want to see how that theory of politics works in the real world, look no farther than the European Union, which is a real-time experiment in demoting democratic adjudication of values in favor of technocratic adjudication of facts.

    damn great line!

  22. fresno dan

    fresno dan
    February 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm
    maybe they don’t approve…

    the above was a reply to
    February 17, 2016 at 9:20 am

  23. vidimi

    The United States had a plan for an extensive cyber attack on Iran in case diplomatic attempts to curtail its nuclear program failed, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing a forthcoming documentary and military and intelligence officials.

    Code-named Nitro Zeus, the plan was aimed at crippling Iran’s air defenses, communications systems and key parts of its electrical power grid, but was put on hold after a nuclear deal was reached last year, the Times said.

    emphasis mine. notice that it wasn’t scrapped, just postponed for a later date. those iranians are so aggressive.

    1. Jagger

      The United States had a plan for an extensive cyber attack on Iran in case diplomatic attempts to curtail its nuclear program failed, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing a forthcoming documentary and military and intelligence officials.

      So if the US launchs a cyberattack on Iran, are they justified in launching a cyber-counterattack against the US? And what would be acceptable targets-nuclear power plants, transportation, what????

      Once that can of worms is opened, who knows how far it can go. We aren’t the only ones capable of cyberattacks.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We only think we are smart.

        Very typical of Home Sapiens.

        Why are we called Homo Sapiens?

        Because we name ourselves so. Because we say so.

        Not one single animal or plant has joined that chorus.

    1. OIFVet

      Thank you Vidimi! I had missed this article All is not lost, Bulgaria is unusual in that the Greens yield unusually big power and are not afraid to use it. Massive protests chased away Chevron and led to ban on fracking, protests have stopped scores of developments in pristine and ecologically sensitive areas, and have also led to a ban on GMOs. I know there will be a large mobilization to save Kresna, it truly is a spectacular place to visit and enjoy in its natural state. It was also at the limits of the valley where Basil II earned the name “Bulgaroctonus.” Very nice wine is produced there, too bad it is not widely available outside of Bulgaria and Europe.

      1. vidimi

        thanks for that. the balkans seem to be pretty good generally at grass roots organisation. romanians, too, if i remember correctly, succesfully fended off fracking.

        here, it looks like it’s the EU that is pushing for this development. they want to funnel more tourism to greece at the expense of their own natural heritage protection. money, as ever, trumps all other interests.

  24. fresno dan

    Thomas Piketty on the rise of Bernie Sanders: the US enters a new political era Guardian (EM)

    How can we interpret the incredible success of the “socialist” candidate Bernie Sanders in the US primaries? The Vermont senator is now ahead of Hillary Clinton among Democratic-leaning voters below the age of 50, and it’s only thanks to the older generation that Clinton has managed to stay ahead in the polls.

    Because he is facing the Clinton machine, as well as the conservatism of mainstream media, Sanders might not win the race. But it has now been demonstrated that another Sanders – possibly younger and less white – could one day soon win the US presidential elections and change the face of the country. In many respects, we are witnessing the end of the politico-ideological cycle opened by the victory of Ronald Reagan at the 1980 elections.

    Let’s glance back for an instant. From the 1930s until the 1970s, the US were at the forefront of an ambitious set of policies aiming to reduce social inequalities. Partly to avoid any resemblance with Old Europe, seen then as extremely unequal and contrary to the American democratic spirit, in the inter-war years the country invented a highly progressive income and estate tax and set up levels of fiscal progressiveness never used on our side of the Atlantic. From 1930 to 1980 – for half a century – the rate for the highest US income (over $1m per year) was on average 82%, with peaks of 91% from the 1940s to 1960s (from Roosevelt to Kennedy), and still as high as 70% during Reagan’s election in 1980.

    This policy in no way affected the strong growth of the post-war American economy, doubtless because there is not much point in paying super-managers $10m when $1m will do. The estate tax, which was equally progressive with rates applicable to the largest fortunes in the range of 70% to 80% for decades (the rate has almost never exceeded 30% to 40% in Germany or France), greatly reduced the concentration of American capital, without the destruction and wars which Europe had to face.

    I think about all the economics I read, and the endless yammering about how we must reignite GROWTH!!! GROWTH!!!!!!!!!! More, MORE, MORE GROWTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And yet, the one indisputable, unequivocal, plain FACT is that when taxes were much, much higher so was growth. Funny how no one even SUGGESTS giving it a try… seeing as they all are obsessed with this growth.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “We will keep lowering rates (tax rates here) until the lord of the manor accidentally spills his chalice and trickles down some bloody red wine to the serfs.”

  25. Dave

    Nickel and Dimed in 2016 Bill Moyers

    Not one word about the wage-lowering effects of immigration on the American working man and woman. How can we expect a livable wage, with weekends and holidays off, benefits and full time hours, when there’s an endless stream of illegals, legals and refugees willing to undercut all those quaint Americanisms?

    e.g. Meat packing, once a highly paid unionized job. Now Somalis and Central Americans have those jobs and are treated like slaves.

    1. diptherio

      Who hires illegal immigrants over citizens? That’s where the problem lies.

      It’s the law-breaking employers that should bear the brunt of our angst, not the immigrants filling a demand that corporate CEOs created.

    1. neo-realist

      You can diet a cat, but it must be gradual.

      My cat has a treat addiction, but the treat he gets is good for his tartar/plaque..

    1. polecat

      WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE———————————————————————–omg! is that a wall??

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From Bloomberg’s Chinese Subprime Crisis I Here;

    Perhaps, they’re hoping banks will lend even more if they ease the rules. That’s one way to keep the ratio of nonperforming loans under control. As the denominator increases the ratio remains steady or even drops. The absolute number of bad loans, however, keeps swelling.

    If not they had lent to better risk borrowers first.

    To lend more, they would have to go to higher risk borrowers.

    And the ratio will get worse.

    Take 500 customers with 1/100 risk, add to that, 100 customers with 2/100 risk, you get 600 customers with a new combined risk of 1.17 per 100 (from 1 in 100 before).

  27. Jeff W

    And, related (somewhat) to that link regarding the Hong Kong movie Ten Years, yesterday’s New York Times reports that Joshua Wong, the founder of Scholarism, the group that played a key role in the 2014 protests in Hong Kong, and other prominent figures of the so-called “Umbrella Movement” are forming a political party that will participate in local elections this year.

    From the article:

    In about a decade, Mr. Wong said in an interview on Wednesday, the new party will push for a referendum that would let Hong Kong’s voters determine whether to split from China after 2047, the year when China’s promise of 50 years of high autonomy and a “one country, two systems” governing principle in the former British colony expires.

    “I’m certain the Chinese Communist Party would crack down on us, but that’s not my concern,” he said.

    [emphasis added]

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hong Kong was a hotbed of revolutionaries that overthrew the last imperial dynasty.

      They had friends, supporters and backers (financial or otherwise) in Japan, Great Britain, America and elsewhere.

      At the end, it was an ex-librarian with his un-orthodox revolution, not with proletarian industrial workers, but with impoverished farmers, that prevailed over all others.

  28. Brooklin Bridge

    So, Obama is finally going on the offensive (see the HuffPo splash header). Couldn’t go on the offensive for Guantanamo, for sending banksters to prison, for getting a strong public option, for the right of habeas corpus, for whistleblowers exposing government corruption (quite the contrary), for reigning in the military industrial complex, for putting a break on arbitrary government spying on its own citizens, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., BUT, he can go on the offensive for a (corporate friendly) supreme court justice and ram a selection the GOP will love love love down their deep deep throats.

  29. ewmayer

    Re. “‘Constitution Is Pretty Clear’ on Naming Justice, Obama Says | New York Times” — It’s also pretty clear on warrantless searches and extrajudicial executions, as I recall.

    That Reuters piece in yesterday’s links on the ‘business friendly’ DC-circuit appeals court justice Sri Srinivasan pretty much outlines the bipartisan ‘corporatist’ consensus on the #1 qualification needed for such judgeships. They will bicker about other ideological issues, but that shared ideology is inviolable.

  30. Darthbobber

    The EA Worldview piece on Syria. Typical of the present rash of ill-thought Hawkish “gotta do something” pieces. (and interestingly, the editor is described as “currently an Adjunct Professor with the Clinton Institute at University College Dublin”)

    Where to begin. How about the pretense that the massive influx of Syrian refugees to and through Turkey is at all a new thing caused by the Russian intervention, when the record is undeniably clear to the contrary, or that the Russian/Syrian intent of locking up the northern border wouldn’t be a pretty effective way of halting that (since the Turks are singularly disinterested in doing so.)

    Or the repetition of the canard about the Russians “attacking everybody but ISIS”, when clearly they’ve hit it harder than our strikes ever did. Or the fudging about al Nusra, which falls under the terms of the Security Council resolution as an organization which member states are not only allowed to, but ASKED to attack. (Coupled with the clear fact, documented by McClatchy and others) that our more “approved” rebels are inextricably intertwined with al Nusra in all battle zones.)

    Or the crocodile tears about the evil “sieges” of civilians (rhetoric noted for absence when it was the government-controlled half of Aleppo under siege, or during the much-ballyhooed retaking of Ramadi in Iraq, in which about half the structures in the city were reduced to rubble, or in Yemen, or, or…)
    In any case, the obvious problem is that 1) the point of siege warfare is to cutoff supplies to compel surrender and
    2) Barring a full-blown military presence by 3rd parties, there is no way at all to ensure that supplies end up with civilians instead of combatants. (Bodies of armed men are highly unlikely to voluntarily starve to death while the rations go to the civilians.)

    And what about the tacit belief that forcible regime change should be a non-negotiable point? How so? They really don’t even bother to make an argument, so its not like there’s anything to refute.

  31. Swedish Lex

    Regarding the link “CIA, NATO and Swedish Military Plotted Regime Change in Sweden in 1980s”

    The TV documentary from the ARTE Channel mainly consists of interviews with Ola Tunander. Tunander is a lone wolf who alone has discovered “the real truth” and who basically claims the equivalent of “climate change is not manmade”.

    His dwells on conspiracy theories that the entire Swedish military, from the most basic conscripts up to the level of the chief of staff, jointly lied and deceived the entire world for decades by co-operating with the US and the UK to pretend that the Soviet submarines in Swedish waters during the 80s actually were NATO subs “pretending” to be WP.

    That trash mixed with some real historic facts and the result is something that fits current Russian propaganda perfectly.

    Most NC readers will not be able to distinguish reality from propaganda here, but I believe it is important to make it clear that the views of one single dissident, who “alone has unearthed the real truth and a monumental conspiracy by going through archives” (!) are being exploited by Russia in its current war of propaganda against Sweden.

    1. vidimi

      thanks for this. i was wondering whether the article could be corroborated elsewhere, knowing that, if it could be, it would be hugely important piece or junk otherwise. it’s important to remember that, although the US and its allies are adept at propaganda, so are the russians.

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