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Links 5/23/16

Particle physics: a primer to the theory of (almost) everything Cosmos (Furzy Mouse).

In Case You Forgot, Canada’s Massive Fort McMurray Fire Is Still Burning Wired (Re Silc).

Fannie, Freddie and the Secrets of a Bailout With No Exit Gretchen Morgenson, NYT

Hedge Funds Bet Against Australia’s Big Banks in Record Numbers WSJ

Satan’s Credit Card: What The Mark Of The Beast Taught Me About The Future Of Money Buzzfeed

US bank branches stay open despite slump in transactions FT

Fraud in $4 Trillion Trade Finance Turns Banks to Digital Ledger Bloomberg

How Big Pharma Uses Charity Programs to Cover for Drug Price Hikes Bloomberg

Despite June Hike Talk, Treasury Yields Barely Moved MishTalk (Furzy Mouse).

“Uncertainty” Meme Refuses to Die… The Big Picture

China steps up war on banks’ bad debt FT

Arms embargo on Vietnam in the balance as Obama visits old foe Reuters

Syraqistan

Baghdad on Lockdown not from fear of ISIL but of poor Protesters Informed Comment (Re Silc).

The DB interview: White House Press Secretary clarifies U.S. involvement in Iraq Duffel Blog

Mossack Fonseca

Panama Papers Confirm Miami a Disneyland for Fraud HuffPo

Greece

Greece passes fresh austerity measures in bid to secure bail-out cash Telegraph

Operation “looting of Greece” reaches final stage the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens

The IMF and calling Berlin’s bluff over Greece Wolfgang Münchau, FT

Nigels against the World LRB

Primed to fight the government WaPo

2016

Poll: Election 2016 shapes up as a contest of negatives WaPo. The lead buried five paragraphs down: “At this point, the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat among registered voters, with Trump favored by 46 percent and Clinton favored by 44 percent. That represents an 11-point shift toward the presumptive Republican nominee since March.”

Trump overtakes Clinton in poll average for first time The Hill. RealClearPolitics poll of polls.

Bernie Sanders: American People See Hillary Clinton as ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ ABC

Bernie Sanders supporters sue to have California’s voter registration extended until election day LA Times

California voter registration soaring as June 7 primary approaches San Jose Mercury News (dcblogger). “The surge in new voters so far hasn’t been reflected in state registration reports.” Monitor that.

TV Networks Cancel Plans for Exit Polls for Remaining Presidential Primaries Ballot Access News. As of May 6, so not for KY, NJ, or CA. What could go wrong?

Adam Gopnik and Liberal Trump Fantasies David Sessions. The New Yorker keeps putting gifted amateurs on the 2016 beat. If Hendrik Hertzberg is doing this, he’s embarrassing himself.

Thomas Frank Thinks Hillary Should Woo the Working Class NYT. The interview mentions microlending, but given Frank on microlending here, I have to think there was material left on the cutting room floor.

Bernie Sanders’s Feud With the Democratic Leadership Heats Up NYT. Sanders supporting Canova (and getting rid of payday-lending supporters like Wasserman Schultz will help defeat Trump, too; as would Sanders (for example) campaigning in Colorado for the single payer and anti-fracking ballot initiatives.

Bernie Sanders Says He Supports Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Primary Opponent WSJ. If the Democrat Establishment is smart, they’ll play “Off the droshky” with Wasserman Schultz and offer her up as a human sacrifice to unity (and DWS will be rewarded for her loyal service with a cushy job. Naturally). Then again, if Sanders supporters are smart, they’ll accept the sacrifice, then say “Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?” so maybe it’s best for the Dem Establishment to concede nothing after all.

Democrats turn to Schumer to fix Sanders rift Politico

Harry Reid: Sanders is ‘coming back to the Senate’ with more power Yahoo News

Hillary must pick Bernie for VP: She may even need him more than he needs her Salon

Clinton Foundation Would Weigh Down a Hillary Presidency Bloomberg

Weakend at Bernie’s MoDo, NYT. Fun stuff. “I’ve talked to several former Clinton and Obama White House aides who don’t enjoy checking in with the joyless Clinton campaign in Brooklyn. ‘It’s the Bataan Death March,’ one says.” Reviving an old trope.

Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob? Politico

Top Democrats Ally With Oil and Gas Industry to Fight Colorado Anti-Fracking Ballot Measures The Intercept. While Democrats also oppose Colorado’s single payer initiative. Odd.

Blowing the Whistle: Former US Official Reveals Risks Faced by Internal Critics Der Spiegel

How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers Guardian (chinabeach).

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

High School Debaters Bring Surveillance, Encryption Arguments to Capitol Hill The Intercept. Debate is awesome.

Guillotine Watch

‘Do you know who I am?’: Shark Tank billionaire is accused of throwing a tantrum after he was turned away from hit Broadway show Hamilton with counterfeit tickets Daily Mail

Class Warfare

The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship Fordham Urban Law Journal. Ran across this on the Twitter. Still good today!

Testing The Limits on Wealth Inequality emptywheel. r > g. Until it doesn’t…

Historical Highest Marginal Income Tax Rates Tax Policy Center (Re Silc). Handy chart.

Fast Food Workers Will Vote On Joining Service Workers Union Buzzfeed. Times change, but I have a long memory, which includes SEIU not merely not supporting single payer, but actively suppressing it.

Unemployed Detroit Residents Are Trapped by a Digital Divide NYT

Smoke & Fumes Center for International Environmental Law (afisher). An excellent trove of documents on “the world’s most powerful industry used science, communications, and consumer psychology to shape the public debate over climate change.”

Antidote du jour:

squirrel

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

182 comments

  1. Roger Smith

    Re: Satan’s Credit Card: What The Mark Of The Beast Taught Me About The Future Of Money

    “The power of payments and the future of these programs is in the data they generate.” — Remember when the future was going to have hover cars and jet packs? Nah… that’s frilly stuff. Let’s find a way to control people even more, through payment management instead. This is absolutely depressing and dumb. I’d rather live with the Cro-magnons. This data obsession has got to go. You can see how it has already ruined funded artistic endeavors at the local movie theater, where each week we get more of the same data proven garbage that is safe, demographic tested, and guaranteed to make X amount of profit.

    “Millennials don’t trust banks, but they trust Apple and Google.”

    I’d trust a run of the mill banking professional over tech inno-vultures any day. Count me out, let’s just get rid of the illusion of money.

    “I’m praying for rain, I’m praying for tidal waves…”

    1. RW Tucker

      You would like David Graeber’s new book, Utopia of Rules. A lot of it is about the false promises of technology and how it relates to bureaucracy. The book is fantastic.

        1. RW Tucker

          I had to write you about it because he very specifically mentions disappointment in the zeitgeist about the promise of flying cars being a consumer product by [choose your date 20 years from now].

          1. Jim Haygood

            I specifically recall being promised flying cars by 1985.

            They didn’t deliver my pony either. :(

          2. Roger Smith

            There is a reason it is called the future… it is forever on its way (but never to arrive). I picked the flying cars as the classic example of the general “technology will make the future a better place” ideology. I do think technology has that capability, I just don’t think its communal benefits work within capitalism. Jobs becoming automated is great. If we can spare people doing mundane things for low pay, the more the better! But when the means of production get all the profit instead of some broader program or regulations to stipend income of those workers and/or a job market that has a place for them to go, we get where we are today.

            Instead of meaningful technology we get fancy new phones and step counter iterations every year. What will the next big thing be!?

          3. Roger Smith

            As I was drifting out of consciousness a thought occurred to me. Perhaps this is one of the first technocratic neoliberal ideas. Create the anticipation of an objective that, by definition, will never actually be realized. It becomes a defense of incrementalism when real progress is abandoned. “Well our boat can only turn so sharply, can only move so fast.”

      1. rusti

        Thanks to those who recommended Graeber’s “Debt: The First 5000 Years” in the thread about economics literature a few weeks ago. I picked up that one as a result and finished it a few days ago. I see the library also has Utopia of Rules available.

    2. abynormal

      google bans payday loan adverts…corners the mkt for their own Lend Up (which acquires money w/o lending)

      Trust starts with truth and ends with truth.
      ~Santosh Kalwar

    3. roadrider

      This.

      For those of us who eschew “smart” phones and don’t wish to have every aspect of our lives monitored and analyzed by people trying to 1) sell us shit we don’t want or need 2) surreptitiously trying to influence or control our behavior 3) root out any dissent from or non-conformance with the dominant corporate/government regime the prospect of these payment systems is indeed a dystopia that we hope not to live to see.

      I distrust tech companies even more than I do financial ones (and I don’t trust them very much at all).

      Technology that increases our independence, preserves out anonymity and empowers true innovation rather than conformity – I’m all for that. But that’s not what we seem to have or are liable to get from the current tech/corporate/government establishments.

  2. Nick

    Re High Schoolers Debate Surveillance

    Debate is indeed awesome, but unless they combine those skills with some discussions on morals and principles, not to mention the US role in terrorism, they’re essentially just creating a group of people who are highly adept at taking the side of an argument that is assigned to them and vigorously defending it. Add a fat paycheck and an expense account to that and you’ve got yourself a lobbyist (whose actions, it should be added, can ultimately cause a far higher body count than the groups that we call terrorists).

    1. fresno dan

      From the article:
      “We all recognize terrorism as one of the greatest threats to our security,” said Aris Saxena from Sonoma Academy in California. “Our greatest need is the identification of threats in the first place. Only bulk surveillance allows us to identify threats before they happen.”

      Jayden Khatib from Woodward Academy challenged him. “Setting aside important privacy and civil liberties concerns, domestic surveillance fails to achieve its own goals,” she said. “Because it fails to prevent terrorism.”

      =====================================
      I just had to note that not all of us “recognize terrorism as one of the greatest threats to our security” – – at least not directly – perhaps terrorism is the greatest threat by fooling us into diminishing our own freedoms for a threat that pails in comparison to any number of objectively more imperiling prospects, from nuclear war to environmental degradation to the very idea that we need to be endlessly involved in war.
      Indeed, how minuscule the threat is when compared to the daily carnage of ordinary crime, you don’t have to wear a tinfoil bonnet to deduce that someone is amassing serious Tubmans to keep the charade going…

      1. optimader

        Our greatest need is the identification of threats in the first place.

        Our greatest need is appropriate evaluation of risk.

        Throughout history, we’ve all been surrounded by “threats” until we die. That will never change.

        Understanding the relative risk that threats pose is the operative finesse needed for a free society to exist.

        1. portia

          what was that Reagan thing? I paraphrase: the most terrifying words in the English language are

          I’m from the government, and I’m here to protect you from terrorism

  3. Joe Formerly of BKLYN

    re: SEIU opposing single-payer.

    Please keep reminding people of what happened in the past (yes, esp. the RECENT past). It appears that most information stays in the minds of most folks for about 11 seconds.

    If that.

    THANK YOU!

      1. perpetualWAR

        The SEIU were dead to me when they infiltrated Occupy on the behest of the Democrats to gain access, usurp authority and cause divisions.

        Oh. And their endorsement of Hillary.
        It is candidates like Sawant and Jayapal who are SEIU candidates. They are backed and beholden to them. They don’t get lucrative amounts of campaign money for nothing.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          SEIU’s leaders were the only ones who actually endorsed HRC. The outrage among the rank-and-file doesn’t bode well for those leaders’ lengths of term. Educators were ambivalent when the two teacher’s unions did likewise, but as they monitored the campaigns many of the rank-and-file there are decidedly unhappy.

          Which makes one wonder just what those leaders were promised in exchange for those endorsements.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Was it SEIU who first promoted then sought exemption for its members from the 15.00 min wage in LA recently?

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          That has been union policy for every union I’ve ever known forever. It shows a profound lack of faith in working people to assume they would tolerate for long, if ever, a situation where they both had to pay union dues and were paid less than minimum wage or what they could easily make somewhere else. Local unions are among the most democratic institutions we have and local union leaders tend to be very responsive to their members. Certainly any union leader who tried to justify wages lower than the legal minimum for more than a brief period of time would be challenged for union leadership.

          I’m sure there are exceptions but it is better for people to have a union than for people to be covered by a local minimum wage law. The latter ensures only one thing. The former opens up a world of possibilities.

          If being exempted from the local minimum wage laws leads to more workers in unions, that is a good thing, not a bad thing. But mostly such provisions are simply a show of power. A union movement with some power can easily pass such a law/exemption. A union movement with no power can’t. I know which I would rather have.

  4. timbers

    Some OBAMA FIRST’S. Sure, it’s not completely rigorous and some can be debated and qualified but it shows a clear pattern:

    1). Obama has been at war longer than any President in U.S. history.

    2). Obama has bombed more nations than anyone in human history including Adolph Hitler.

    3). Obama is the first U.S. President to openly admit to using and supporting torture (I’ve banned SOME torture”).

    4). More Democrats have lost elective office (and more Republican have won elective office) under Obama than any President in U.S. history.

    5). Obama is the first and only President to fail to achieve an economic growth rate of 3% or better in any year of his terms.

    6). The Obama recovery has been the weakest in U.S. history in about the last 70 years.

    7). Income inequality has grown faster under Obama than any President in recent if not all U.S. history.

    8). Obama is the first President in recent U.S. history to never prosecute a major Wall Street figure for breaking the law.

    1. jgordon

      But Obama was for gay marriage and (sorta) against guns so that makes all the other stuff OK. Besides real change is incremental and takes time. Like more time than most people spend being alive.

      1. sid_finster

        Out knocking doors for Bernie, you’d be surprised how often I heard variations on that. Or the ever-popular “mean Republicans….”

      2. DJG

        Obama is still evolving on marriage equality, and as he finds that marriage equality is a good litmus test as well as an ATM for contributions to the Democrats, he continues his evolution. Some day, we will find out if he does indeed believe in equality.

    2. RUKidding

      Oh but Obama is the BEST evah! And he’s just been “hampered” by Republicans. It’s all THEIR fault, not Obama’s, including the fact that the GOP has done so well in elections.

      Lather rinse repeat

      I see far far far too many lefties who wish Obama could run for a third term. Not me.

  5. Carolinian

    Wealthy Maine woman tries to give the country a new national park. Locals (some) up in arms.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/proposed-national-park-is-a-multimillion-dollar-gift-wrapped-up-in-distrust/2016/05/22/0f036aa0-1d0b-11e6-b6e0-c53b7ef63b45_story.html

    At least the Mainers don’t sound quite as obnoxious as the movie stars and welfare ranchers of Wyoming who spent decades fighting the Rockefellers’ gift of vast tracts for Grand Teton.

    1. sleepy

      I’d be interested in whatever insights Lambert has into this. I always thought too that parts of the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota–an area with some similarities in habitat to Maine–should have been a national park, though the boundary waters canoe area wilderness protects large portions.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      “From the start, her dream faced skepticism, and her actions stirred only more acrimony. She closed her land to hunters and snowmobilers, violating a long-held Maine tradition of allowing such uses on private property. She also evicted people who had leased long-established camps along the East Branch of the ­Penobscot River.”

      Being an asshole will come with blowback.

      1. portia

        Being an asshole

        is a matter of point of view. hunters and snowmobilers can be assholes too, and if you have ever had the dubious pleasure of living next to an area where people go 90 mph all day, the noise is their first “gift”, and the choking aroma of fuel exhaust in the air for the next 12 hours is their parting present. Hunters, if they are in it for food, I have no problem with, as long as they are respectful of the land and life. too often it is an excuse to get drunk in the woods. I have lived in the woods for 12 years now, and many people here share the view that people should not just be able to do whatever they want anywhere they want, then leave and make others deal with and clean up their mess. that’s being an asshole.

        1. polecat

          ….yes…like the recent pupfish ‘ass’alts in Deathvalley, Ca.? ……..by three obnoxious punks!

          1. portia

            inch and a half long pupfish. that’s what obnoxious punks pick on. there are parallels in govt, politics and finance…

  6. Ignim Brites

    “Baghdad on Lockdown not from fear of ISIL but of poor Protesters”

    Not much news from Iraq ftom the MSM these days. Sounds like it is near helicopters on the embassy roof time but who knows. Cole’s reports from a semi-Maoist perspective. Obviously, the class struggle between the lumpen proletariate Shites and the state bourgeoisie cannot be called a primary aspect of the contradiction and it is even doubtfully characterized as a secondary aspect. So we might conclude that this is just smoke, no fire. But who knows.

  7. Pat

    Lambert, you might find this interesting:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-obamacares-cadillac-tax-is-so-contentious/

    It is not entirely a bad overview even if some theories about the tax are not debunked properly. Personally I find the whole wages thing to be ridiculous, but then there is some fairy tale thinking involved any time an economist decides that doing x about business spending will mean companies will direct the ‘savings’ to wages rather than used to increase the profit line of the company. I should add I do expect a bunch to go to ‘wages’ or at least bonuses, but not to the rank and file employees but top management.

  8. Amateur Socialist

    Surprising (i.e. honest and accurate) analysis of Madame Secretary’s evolution on NPR this morning: http://www.npr.org/2016/05/23/478973321/evolution-or-expediency-clintons-changing-positions-over-a-long-career

    “There are a lot of issues where the public has moved and so it’s reasonable for our elected leaders to move,” said Omero. But for some candidates, she added, it is a problem.

    “The challenge is when movements on an issue support a narrative that already exists,” said Omero.

    Yeah that is a challenge.

    1. Light a Candle

      Thanks, that was a good read.

      I also am now *actually surprised* to read a fair article in the MSM about Clinton and Sanders.

      This primary has really opened my eyes about MSM’s relentless barrage of propaganda. And I had always thought of myself as a skeptical reader. Now I often just skim (or even skip) the MSM article and read for the comments.

      1. Brindle

        I used to go first to Google News and see what;s going on—now I often go first to Twitter and rely on what Glen Greenwald, Adam Johnson, Billmon and others see as newsworthy, it makes one realize how the MSM conditions us.

        1. Cry Shop

          Google News is conditioning too. Search NakedCapitalism for the several articles vis Google’s search algorithm and Google’s research arms being offered to back candidates (including Clinton) who back Google’s objectives.

      2. NYPaul

        How’s MoDo in regards to “fair?”

        In her column, “Weekend at Bernie’s,” yesterday, she still led off a paragraph with, “The Bernie bro violence — chair throwing,……..,” a full week after it was so thoroughly debunked.

  9. Nick

    This editorial in the NYT has that classic condescending tone and flavor of “realism” that one can expect of a Clinton Super Pac.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/23/opinion/the-left-on-the-run-in-latin-america.html?_r=0

    “The region’s exports to China increased 25-fold between 2000 and 2013, allowing Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Bolivia to bankroll generous welfare and social programs that lifted millions from poverty.”

    “Ultimately, that will require leaders who are accountable to their citizens, are willing to invest in long-term prosperity rather than their political brands and stand ready to acknowledge the colossal mistakes of their predecessors.”

    Exactly, don’t repeat the colossal mistake of lifting millions from poverty.

    Contrast that with this wonderful piece by Mark Weisbrot:

    http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/has-the-left-run-its-course-in-latin-america

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I’m waiting for the boots on the ground in Venezuela, having done everything they could to undermine Chavez and now Maduro, the neo-con fruit of the vast oil stores is there for the picking. Maybe the MidEast can breathe a sigh of relief as the Exceptional Empire turns their drone and Hummer funfest to Latin America instead.
      Halliburton et al must be licking their chops…and surely they can find more GIs who speak Spanish than Arabic.

  10. Higgs Boson

    Re: Satan’s Credit Card

    ‘We had paper and it was backed by gold, and right now we’re trusting the government – but with blockchain you may not necessarily need the state”, Chikara told me.’

    Um, no. It’s not “trust” that gives fiat currency its value; it’s the state’s power to tax users of the currency it issues, that gives the currency its value. Even when the “paper was backed by gold” it was still paper issued by the state. The state set the value of that paper via an exchange rate ($35 to an oz of gold). To maintain that exchange rate, it would have to create more $, or pull $ out of circulation by taxes, or obtain more gold to “back” more currency.

    A $ “backed by gold” and a $ “backed by all the goods and services in the economy” are six of one, half dozen of the other.

    Bitcoin is backed by what? Trust in the integrity of the blockchain? In that sense it is more like a commodity, the digital equivalent of carrying around a pouch of gold coins and bullion.

    1. Jim Haygood

      What’s missing in this explanation is the exchange feature, allowing (for example) former “silver certificate” dollars to be exchanged for silver dollar coins or bulk silver.

      When Treas Sec C. Douglas Dillon halted redemption of silver certificates for silver dollar coins in March 1964, numismatists promptly understood that we were being defrauded by currency debasement, and being prepared for a multi-decade dose of war inflation.

      Seven years later the fraudsters cut the gold link, too. By no coincidence, the price level has ballooned by a factor of six since the conversion to Federal Reserve scrip, decreed on a Sunday night by presidential fiat.

      1. Alejandro

        Jim, you often have an interesting POV on many subjects and on occasion very funny…but your opinions on monetary seem rigidly within Austrian thinking…

        For anyone interested, the following debate was very revealing and clarifying, imho…especially the “fixed v. floating”.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUTLCDBONok

        The power to tax has been for a long long time, IS, and will be for the foreseeable future, what creates demand for any currency.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘In the beginning Government created the heavens and the earth.’ — Genesis 1

          1. Alejandro

            lol! Only near the beginning it was understood as “magnificent myths” and “noble lies”…but the stories conjured in the Austrian “think tank” were much less noble and much less magnificent.

          2. Skippy

            The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths

            In this sharp and controversial exposé, Mariana Mazzucato debunks the pervasive myth that the state is a laggard, bureaucratic apparatus at odds with a dynamic private sector. She reveals in detailed case studies, including a riveting chapter on the iPhone, that the opposite is true: the state is, and has been, our boldest and most valuable innovator. Denying this history is leading us down the wrong path. A select few get credit for what is an intensely collective effort, and the US government has started disinvesting from innovation. The repercussions could stunt economic growth and increase inequality. Mazzucato teaches us how to reverse this trend before it is too late.

            Disheveled Marsupial…. Wellie Jim old boy maybe if’n some actually created their own wealth ex nihlio they could bang on about debasement, but then one dose* have to consider the influences of 60ish years of increasing Theoclassical economics…. but naw more myopic fixations on piles of value in the back yard.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          People seem to forget that there is a money system that has worked for centuries that is NOT based on the power to tax. This money also is not someone else’s debt obligation, it has no counterparty to go broke or otherwise sequester the value from use.
          It’s a very stable element, #79 on the periodic table. It occurs in nature but requires significant work to retrieve which means the marginal additional supply is limited. It tends to retain its purchasing power: in 100 BC you could purchase one high-quality men’s outfit in exchange for 1 ounce of this metal, and today you can purchase one high-quality men’s outfit in exchange for one ounce of this metal. This element is prized in every country in the world so it has that must-have quality of any money system: acceptance.
          What remains are distribution and usage problems. Those are very solvable, in fact are being solved today.

          1. Skippy

            Tell that to all the unfortunate that had the misfortune of gold seeking empires ravage them for the gal of having the stuff and not using it properly…

            Disheveled Marsupial… like funding army’s to fight neighbors or expand the empire seeking more gold and resources….

          2. Cry Shop

            We should have a currency based on freeze-dried humming bird shit. It’s sufficiently rare, and will encourage people to protect the environment, where as that nasty filth mineral extraction business just isn’t.

    2. jgordon

      “..the digital equivalent of carrying around a pouch of gold coins and bullion.”

      Right. The fact that there is a limited quantity causes people to assign an intrinsic value to it. And a limited quantity, much how like resources are limited, enforces discipline and curtails economic growth to sustainable levels; it forces people to be intelligent and resource-conscious about how they live–qualities that have tremendous long-term survival value for the species and the biosphere.

      With the government run fiat systems we have sprawling bureaucracies and corporations, unlimited and unsustainable social complexity, and frenetic destruction of ecosystems and spastic plundering of natural resources to exhaustion. Is this really a good idea in anything but the shortest of terms? MMT and similar ideas is like the maximizing shareholder value theory for the entire biosphere.

      1. cwaltz

        Right. The fact that there is a limited quantity causes people to assign an intrinsic value to it. And a limited quantity, much how like resources are limited, enforces discipline and curtails economic growth to sustainable levels; it forces people to be intelligent and resource-conscious about how they live–qualities that have tremendous long-term survival value for the species and the biosphere.

        Or it causes people to kill each other because they are competing for a limited resource.

        I don’t know what planet you are living on but the one I live on generally has WARS over limited resources- which is a far cry from your argument that it enforces discipline, encourages sustainability, and forces people to be intelligent. It also completely debunks the idea that it contributes to the long term survival of the species and biosphere considering that as technology has advanced not only do weapons kill people but they destroy that very biosphere you claim is being saved.

        1. jgordon

          Where have I ever claimed the biosphere is being saved? At the rate we’re going, we’re headed for hell on earth. And as for resources and WARS–that’s the point. Resources are limited on a finite planet, and life is tragic. You can have little doses of collapse and deprivation on an ongoing basis caused by the constant feedback and constraint of a strict and uncontrollable hard money system, or you can play some fancy monetary games, stretch things out for as long as possible with an elastic and loose system, and then have one big epic collapse all at once a little bit later down the line–with the added bonus of depleted resources and a wrecked biosphere at the end of the process.

          Actually if we’d been on a hard and uncomfortable money system all along, I’m certain that the technology of today would be nowhere near as grandiose and existentially threatening. The population would also be much smaller. All of the horrific problems we’re facing today can be attributed to explosive exponential growth that our financial systems enabled. It’s time to get off this crack now, before it’s too late.

          1. cwaltz

            Your statement- and I quote- ” a limited quantity, much how like resources are limited, enforces discipline and curtails economic growth to sustainable levels; it forces people to be intelligent and resource-conscious about how they live–qualities that have tremendous long-term survival value for the species and the biosphere.

            I’m glad “you’re certain that if we had a hard and uncomfortable money system” that technology of today would be nowhere near as grandiose or existentially threatening.

            I don’t have the same alternate reality crystal ball you seem to have. However, I will say this I don’t consider the fact that people live longer today a horrific problem for all but the very greedy who insist that everyone else is taking up vital resources that might impact their own survival. I’m beyond tired of the entitlement of people arguing that others being born infringes on the possibility that they might survive. Who exactly makes you so self important as to decide who should and shouldn’t be allowed to exist and what is and isn’t an acceptable level of risk for the species survival? For that matter who are you to suggest that it’s perfectly acceptable for some to have tragic lives in little doses so you can snugly go to bed thinking the species existence is “safe?”

            It’s your type of thinking that pisses me off because it’s the exact type of thinking in DC. It’s perfectly acceptable to kill brown people over there to preserve life over here. Acceptable losses, we’re told. Every freakin’ life has value and purpose, is some elusive concept.

            Guess what? I refuse to play the I can opt for lots of small losses game with a gold standard game or one big collapse with a fiat system game. Additionally, there can STILL be one big collapse with a gold standard. Why? Life is a risk. Mother Nature doesn’t play by your rule book and she doesn’t care which monetary system you adopt. Her henchman, Death, is the great equalizer, and He simply doesn’t seem to think we’re any more important than any other species that has graced this Earth. Deal with it.

            1. FluffytheObeseCat

              “It’s your type of thinking that pisses me off because it’s the exact type of thinking in DC.”

              Yes. This is the best comment I’ve seen in response to the smugly dour Austrian fantasists who throng English language finance websites. They provide no real threat to the powerful and so they are either mildly scoffed at or feted and petted. In contrast to “socialist” types, who speak of real redistribution. Acolytes of the Austrians wail piteously over every slight and based on the volume of complaints, you might think they’re really hard done by. However, they are fundamentally tolerated by our power elites because they present no significant threat of loss.

              No significant threat of change for the better. Just quasi-religious mantras containing key words like “fiat money”.

            2. Skippy

              Even they admit they just pulled this stuff out of their asses

              They seem to follow the maxim “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” If you couldn’t wade through all their econo-speak and arbitrary redefinitions of commonly used terms, however, they literally do the work for you and come straight out and say they just made everything up. Ludwig von Mises himself wrote of his theory:

              “”Its statements and propositions are not derived from experience… They are not subject to verification or falsification on the ground of experience and facts.

              For a good time read….

              http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fun:Austrian_school

              On this occasion I think this line item fits… here is a handy-dandy list of Austrian terms/dog whistles

              Economic fallacy: Anything at odds with Austrian School tenets. For example, Keynes’ paradox of thrift is considered an “economic fallacy,” because savings are good, and by methodological individualism, good + good = good, so everyone stuffing cash under their mattresses and never spending it isn’t a bad thing for the economy.

              Disheveled Marsupial…. when will they realize their own ridged conditioning… oops… free will… chortle / snicker…

            3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Geez, now we need a money system that defies death? Maybe Google can do it…but I doubt it.

            4. jgordon

              Look–the earth is finite, and none of us has any realistic chancevif getting. I would say that your type of thinking is driving us towards extinction, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that this grand edifice of hubris that we’ve built up, industrial civilization, is going to grind to a halt like an engine starved for gas soon. So I am optimistic about life; no matter how delusional an untethered from reality we remain, we’ll probably get through it alive.

              Please note: most people have a completely miserable quality of life today. Only having 2-3% of the exothermic energy we have today would cause a tremendous increase in everyone’s quality of life if it were handled correctly. Instead people choose to remain ignorant and delusional. Well OK. We’ll see his that works out.

              1. cwaltz

                My type of thinking?

                How dare you! It’s YOUR type of thinking that’s killing this planet. Everything always boils down to currency and how it can be controlled to YOUR advantage. Your post positively dripped with the “winners” and “losers” mentality of the crony capitalism destroying everything in it’s path. It isn’t about sharing resources, it’s about dominating them. If a few people who aren’t you have to die so be it.

                For the record, before fiat currency was adopted there were wars and they were over resources like land(we forced a whole entire Indian nation onto reservations for the land we now occupy and at that time there was no fiat currency.)so please quit with the BS argument that if only we went back to the gold standard then greed would not exist today and we would not be facing consequences as a result of it. You aren’t fooling anyone.

                For the record, MY type of thinking is the type of thinking that doesn’t drive. It cares for creatures and plants that aren’t like me. It reuses bags, shops at thrift stores, donates time, energy and resources to others who don’t have it as fortunate as me. it doesn’t spend every waking minute about more, more, more or even worrying about how othersare destroying the planet. I spend MY time worrying about what I can do to make the world a little better and tolerable for others. I don’t bitch that most people have a miserable existence so it would just be better if they hurry up and die and decrease the surplus population Ebenezer. That’s YOUR type of thinking.

            5. clinical wasteman

              Glad to see others beat me to it, but please, cwaltz, accept more transatlantic cheering with the volume turned up to 11.
              In reply to the reply: who gets to decide on “correct handling”, and who decides who decides? Appointing overseers for the Malthusian human cull is a political question, to put it mildly.

        2. inhibi

          Limited quantity or…perception of a limited quantity?

          I mean, lets be honest, there really is no “limit” to how many dollars exist as there is diamonds (and even diamonds are not as rare as one might think).

          Taxes do not give currency value. Currency gains value from its exchange on the open market, the frequency and volume of that exchange, the rate of that exchange, demand for, and perception, the latter of which is largely dynamic and somewhat impossible to predict. Nor does ‘limited quatity’ give it value, because, as we all should know by now, the term ‘limited’ is very ambiguous. For example, if the money doesn’t move (illiquid) or has restricted access to the open market, then technically, it doesn’t affect the overall ‘value’ of the currency. Take the US government for example. The amount of money they pump into circulation is only a single tiny metric in the current value of the dollar.

          I guess my main point is really that the value of a currency, whether digital or physical, is incredibly complex and involves multiple markets, players, etc and isn’t tied to any singular idea like ‘quantity’ or ‘taxation’. And speaking of taxation, I’m completely confused as to why taxation, other than as a metric of how strong a government is, would be regarded as the single highest determinant of a currencies value.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            “Taxes do not give currency value”

            Yes, they do, in today’s world. See this excellent article by Pavlina Tscherevna:

            Money, in this paper, is defined as a power relationship of a specific kind, a stratified social debt relationship, measured in a unit of account determined by some authority. A brief historical examination reveals its evolving nature in the process of social provisioning. Money not only predates markets and real exchange as understood in mainstream economics but also emerges as a social mechanism of distribution, usually by some authority of power (be it an ancient religious authority, a king, a colonial power, a modern nation state, or a monetary union). Money, it can be said, is a “creature of the state” that has played a key role in the transfer of real resources between parties and the distribution of economic surplus.

            Here’s Warren Mosler’s famous lecture on “How to Turn Litter Into Money”:

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I have a very nice shiny one-ounce piece of gold in my hand. Exactly which state is it a creature of?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Fiat money comes and goes, but love, ah, love lasts forever.

                And this, for lovers of re-usable things:

                States (or nations) come and go, but gold is forever.

                Today, you use White Army money. Tomorrow, you use the Red Army money.

              2. aet

                A state of mind.

                Or rather, two minds – for any exchange requires two, n’est-ce pas?

                But you’re mistaken ab initio, and your “question” requires no answer at all – for gold is not a “creature” – only its value is created. And that is created by you, and others like you, and no thing else. Only in your beliefs, and the beliefs of others suffering the same delusion, does gold have value.

                Thus, it is not the gold, but its perceived value, which is the “creature”. And that is born in your thoughts, unlike the metal you hold in your hand.

                And say now, exactly which state are you a creature of? Or should I say “subject”, instead of “creature”? ( I would rather use the word “citizen” in place of either, personally. And most citizens use the currency of the country of which they are a citizen, for their economic transactions and savings.)

              3. Cry Shop

                Uncle Sam will have it, along with your truck, home and anything he can auction off, but he’ll treat it’s value in the tax base currency that is obtained at the auction. Similar process with Uncle Rising Sun, Uncle Lee (Kwan Yue), etc. as a coin It’s a commodity. a compact, fungible, but fairly non-liquid commodity of extremely low value and suspect quality if it’s in your pocket in Podunk, Nowhere. I might buy a paper title to your coin saying you had it stored in a place where a lot of other people might find it convenient to pick it up… if I could trust the paper, and trust the guy who’d bust your caps if you tried to fudge on the promissory note, but that’s just Chicago Mercantile Stuff. But then wtf would I do with that damn coin if I held it. Never, ever in all my years have I ever evaluated what somone was going to give me for doing a job against how much nearly useless metal it weight, it was always how much of a car, how much gasoline, how much food, how much fun it could get. Pork Bellies, Guano and Gold, two of these things are really useful.

          2. jgordon

            You can’t print oil out of a printing press, and faith in technology to get us through the resource limits ahead is a faith-baded initiative. This society will be running the printing presses nonstop and sacrificing to the god of Science right up until we’re all living in caves.

            MMTers like MMT because it allows for unlimited economic expansion without any constraints, which is true. My basic point is that rather than being s good thing, that is horryfing. I came up with this idea on my own after thinking it through. I do not understand why people accuse me of being an Austrian when I have never looked at an Austrian text in my life.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              1 Print money and give it to people who do zazen all the day.

              2. print money and give it to the generals so they can blow up more oil fields.

              If we include the total amount of zazen in the GDP, then, allowing such unlimited economic expansion is not such a bad thing.

              People doing meditation means people not driving cars.

              “Choose wisely.”

              1. aet

                By “print money” take it you mean “issue currency”, right?
                Why don’t you use proper English, instead of pejorative rightist slang? Are you trying to short-circuit discussion by using loaded terms?

            2. reslez

              MMTers like MMT because it allows for unlimited economic expansion without any constraints, which is true

              What an amazing strawman you have there. MMTers don’t believe that. They believe economic expansion runs into real resource restraints. Some can be minimized with careful management. For example, economic policy that compensates carers and educators as opposed to filthy resource extraction.

    3. jsn

      “but with blockchain you may not necessarily need the state”, because electricity grows on trees and tech support squirrels away its acorns of public services so when its cold contracts can still be enforced and when it rains we can still make war. Who needs the state.

    4. myshkin

      “For all its complexity and bureaucracy and importance, money, at its core, is really just information. When FDR weaned the United States off the gold standard in 1933, cash, no longer backed by physical gold, became an abstraction.”

      From my limited understanding FDR did not wean the dollar off the gold standard, his administration devalued the dollar by changing the peg and issued gold certificates to the banks who were required to turn their supply over to the Treasury.

      Later, Bretton Woods fixed other currencies to the US dollar which remained on a fixed peg to gold. Nixon was the one who initiated the ultimate dollar to gold de-linkage in 1971 and finished under Ford in 1976.

      Ralston Saul’s book The Collapse of Globalism sets Nixon’s dismantling of Bretton Woods as a transformative point when money becomes just another commodity instead of the “oil to the wheel of trade,” and is traded at ever accelerating rates, “In the 1970s there was six times more currency being traded than real trade good…by 1995 it was fifty times.”

      The Buzz Feed article is ambivalent but finally optimistically fatalistic regarding the appeal of what seems an endlessly platformed gimmick laden future. Whether this is a transformative point for money or just a variation on three card monty financialization tactics and where exactly the benefits are (for the user) is not evident, only that it is coming whether we like it or not.

      A function of money is “really just information”al. These new fintech systems tag money and granularize it to individual choices to enhance marketing as mentioned. But are they not also just another way to divert $ flow into a stream accessible to Apple, Google and Uber where they can kite, skim and leverage? Is it not just another step toward the financialization (and crapificaion) of everything, much the way the auto makers and GE created financial arms in the 1980s?

      1. jgordon

        Yes. An elastic monetary system allows a lot of fraud, graft, cronyism, financialization and outright delusions to build up in the system without limit. Where there is no discipline in a system it will soon spin out of control an collapse. I liken it to a smoking Ford Pinto that somehow managed to get you to the grocery store–then inferring from that that you have a solid vehicle on your hands.

        1. reslez

          It’s ludicrous to base monetary expansion on how much shiny metal people dig out of the ground every year. Like a belief in witchcraft. What happens when someone discovers an asteroid with heavy gold deposits and tugs it into Earth orbit? Massive stupid inflation.

          Outside of such fanciful thought exercises, the gold standard was a failure in historical terms. Throughout the 19th Century it caused decade long depressions that made the 30s look like the singy dancy part of the Wizard of Oz. I bless the soul of Nixon for delivering us from such lunacy.

          No monetary system has been invented to keep men honest.

          1. cwaltz

            I personally think we should go back to the beads standard.

            (tongue firmly in cheek)

          2. Jim Haygood

            ‘I bless the soul of Nixon for delivering us from such lunacy.’

            Amen, bro.

            The advance in U.S. living standards (real wages, etc.) and income equality since Nixon cut us loose from the golden millstone in 1971 has been breathtaking!

            :-P

        2. myshkin

          Even an unlikely antiquated re-institution of gold currency, actual coinage, might not supply the innate discipline proposed. What fineness, would be set for coin durability and then might the percentage of purity fluctuate according to the needs of the greater world and markets? Where is the discipline to be found then? Gold coin, silver coin, soft easily shaved metals have all been subject to the lassitude you suggest is not in its character. Gold has the character of metals, density, conductivity, malleability; Discipline comes from elsewhere.

          More likely than gold composed currency would be gold held in reserve in central banks and leveraged and then further leveraged; the complexities of a fiat system and more arise if it is convertible.

          Discipline that you believe inherent in gold is likely not found there but located in the constructs and conduct of humans.

  11. DJG

    The Duffel Blog, invaluable as always. The “boots on the ground” decision / flowchart explains it all.

  12. afisher

    From Bloomberg article on Financial Fraud – in banking. The risk to corporate world is the only concern. And who better to invoke trust (from the article): It helps that one of the biggest advocates for digital ledgers in banking is a well-known former banker. Blythe Masters, who once ran JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s commodities business and helped invent credit-default swaps, is now the chief executive officer of Digital Asset Holdings LLC, which is seeking to popularize the use of blockchain in the financial industry.

  13. Jim Haygood

    “Winning,” 0zero style:

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor “marks an important milestone” in the U.S. effort to bring peace to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said Monday.

    “After so many years of conflict, today gives the people of Afghanistan and the region a chance at a different, better future,” he said in a statement issued by the White House.

    http://tinyurl.com/zafaqjy

    USA — where our national success is measured in terms of dead foreigners (since things kinda suck at home).

    Love the bit about “giving the people of Afghanistan a better future.” Sounds like an unbeatable election platform to hoover up votes from altruistic Americans, as President Hillary carries on Bushobama’s 15-year peace effort with amped-up strategic dronings.

    I do believe it’s working; good! /sarc

    1. Jim Haygood

      Disturbing signs of a native uprising outside one of our freedom outposts:

      CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — About 2,000 people attended a protest rally in front of the main gate of the Marine Corps headquarters on Camp Foster armed with signs that read “Never forgive Marine’s rape,” “You, Killer, Go Home” and “Withdraw all the U.S. forces from Okinawa.”

      The protesters – made up of 36 women’s human rights advocacy groups from the island, including the Okinawa Woman Act Against Military Violence – chanted anti-American slogans and sang songs in response to the brutal slaying of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro. An American civilian working on the island, Kenneth Franklin Gadson — a former Marine who goes by his Japanese wife’s name of Shinzato — has admitted to police to killing her and dumping her body.

      Rallies such as the one Sunday are expected to intensify in the coming days while Japan awaits the visit this week by President Barack Obama for the G7 Summit. The murder of Shimabukuro threatens to strain relations between the two allies.

      “I am so sad and just cannot take it anymore,” said Yoko Zamami, 63 of Naha, her eyes blinking with emotion. “Wasn’t it only in March that the top leader of the military here offered an apology to our governor?”

      Zamami was referring to an alleged rape that occurred in March in a Naha hotel. A U.S. sailor stands accused in the incident.

      http://tinyurl.com/z8t4rkp

      Why do they hate us? *throws hands in the air*

      1. annie

        Chalmers Johnson attributed the origins of his thesis of ‘blowback’ (‘a nation reaps what it sows’) to a 1996 visit to U.S. bases on Okinawa when a 12-year-old girl had been raped by three u.s. servicemen. the americans’ arrogant assumptions of privilege, he realized, seemed to extend to rape (see intro to The Sorrows of Empire), a crime the military punished tepidly, if at all–unlike a rape, say, at camp pendelton. Okinawan hatred towards their occupiers had long ago become all-consuming.

        1. cwaltz

          The military has always had a “boys will be boys” mentality when it comes to sex. That’s one of the reasons Kristen Gillibrand wants the military to relinquish its authority when it comes to dealing with assault and harassment.

    2. Brindle

      Obama is always about the P.R.—as he mucks about around the globe and stiffs the people at home. I’ll be glad when he’s gone and spends his time hoovering up money for the theme park named in his honor.

    3. Steve Gunderson

      I thought it was pretty well established that killing the head of the Taliban sets off a struggle amongst prospective heirs leading to more bloodshed as they attempt to prove their abilities to attack US/Nato forces?

      1. cwaltz

        You’d think at this point the term “power vacuum” would be a concept they would get at this point. Apparently not though.

  14. flora

    It’s hilarious, in a gallows humor sort of way, to see the Dem establishment, the DNC and the MSM rig the primaries in Hillary’s favor and then go into melt down at the thought of Trump winning against Hillary – when it’s clear Bernie is a much stronger candidate against Trump.

    Frank’s suggestion that Hillary woo the working class isn’t bad, but at this point nobody will believe her. Single payer “will never, ever happen.” She’s for NAFTA, for TPP, for the Grand Bargain, for Wall St. over Main St. Her surrogates call working class voters, especially rural working class voters, “mouth breathing hicks.” Basically, people who think the New Deal safety net programs and Wall St. regulations are a good idea know that Hillary has been working against those programs and regulations for 20 years. They also know it’s their kids who get sent to fight wars.

      1. jgordon

        That’s the key to it. The Democratic elites would rather lose with their elite-friendly platform than win with a socialist lefty. If things had gone smooth the Republican would have been no worse for their crooked rackets than Hillary. It’s just too bad that the Republicans didn’t keep up their end of the charade and let an uncouth populist steal their nomination. Now for the first time in decades we might get a president who isn’t an avowed neolib/neocon, and that is a real tragedy for Democrats.

      2. Romancing the Loan

        +100

        Their ridiculous over the top histrionics about Trump prove it, imo. The DNC has to walk a very thin line between having so little power there’s nothing to be gained by bribing them, and having enough (like the last eight years) that it becomes too obvious what they really stand for. They really miss Bush II.

      3. PhilK

        I think the Dem establishment prefers Trump to Bernie.

        I think that’s true, and I think a lot of it has to do with control of the Justice Department.

        Obviously, the Clintons and their sleazy operations would be safest when they control the DoJ, but since top-level Dems and top-level Repubs are partners in a lot of the same rackets, a Repub-controlled DoJ would still be a lot safer for the Clintons than a DOJ in the hands of Sanders appointees. And, sure, if Repubs controlled the DoJ, there would probably be a certain amount of “impeach-the-witch” theatre for the entertainment of the rubes, but no multi-million-dollar Clinton operations would be endangered.

        And since the Dem establishment and the Dem party itself have pretty much become the Clintons’ personal waitstaff, they would very much prefer Trump to Sanders.

    1. Brindle

      I follow some L.A. film industry P.R. people on the Twitter and they are most vitriolic Sanders haters you can imagine, Sounds like in Hollywood that supporting Sanders publicly is not a good career move if you are not already established. Sanders base is young America—Hillary’s is well-off entertainment types.

      1. tegnost

        TPP protectionism, don’t break my rice bowl! Just another little proof that everyone knows hillary is against TPP until bernie is out of the race, indeed I’m sure she wants to be talking about how we need to lead the world (into being completely indebted to US banks and thus easier to bully)

      2. I Have Strange Dreams

        Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood says Hollywood is gripped by a powerful pedophile ring and Tinseltown is covering up a ‘seedy’ underbelly full of predatory ‘vipers’
        Elijah Wood, 35, claims young actors are being abused in Hollywood
        Says Tinseltown is allegedly sheltering around ‘100 active abusers’


        Read more:
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3603386/Lord-Rings-star-Elijah-Wood-says-Hollywood-gripped-powerful-pedophile-ring-Tinseltown-covering-seedy-underbelly-predatory-vipers.html#ixzz49Vx53e8y

        Circling the wagons. Hollywood is depraved.

    2. James Levy

      It is very revealing that the so-called “liberal” media, which people I knew back on Long Island were sure were all closet commies, will live and die with Clinton (and watch her take the Democratic Party down with her) rather than support Sanders, whom I believe could and would beat Trump.

  15. Vatch

    Bernie Sanders: American People See Hillary Clinton as ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ ABC

    If Hillary gets the Democratic nomination, it’s going to be fun listening to Sanders campaign for her:

    “She’s evil, but she’s less evil than Trump!”

    1. cnchal

      Bernie would never say that, and we all know why.

      Bernie was being kind to Clinton by saying the American people see Hillary Clinton as lesser of two evils.

      1. Roger Smith

        Yea, he should have just gone ahead and said many of the global population see her as the lesser of two evils.

        1. jgordon

          But that would not have been strictly accurate. To be factual he’d have to say that a tiny sliver of the world’s population would see her as the lesser evil. That is, white people significantly north of the equator and far to the west of Ukraine. Everyone is will be screwed.

    2. Pat

      I haven’t read the bit yet, but apparently Donna Brazile has already clutched her pearls. From the headline, she has apparently stated that ‘Democrats don’t call each other evil’ or some such. From the photo it was on George Stephanmanure’s ABC pundit meeting.

      My reaction was that actual Democrats have been calling Democratic candidates evil for years. She apparently missed the Lesser of Two Evils meme. Probably because the pundit class, like her, who has been convincing those candidates to run on that platform who haven’t been calling it that, and thought the voters had missed it.

      1. Ivy

        Brazile’s comment is indicative of myopia and long-term decline in the Democratic party. She echoes the Republican 11th commandment about not speaking ill of a fellow Republican, and they were uttering that while bullying members into an increasingly narrow view of American life. No wonder that there are so many supporters of Sanders and Trump, given the widespread disgust with the current regimes.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I know some people who are so competitive they will never accept coming in second, or lesser of two whatever.

      “You want to be smart? I will out-smart you.”

      “You want to be greedy? I will out-greedy you.”

      “You want to be nasty? I will out-nasty you.”

  16. EmilianoZ

    Anybody following the elections in Austria? They’re getting either a far-right or an ex-green independent president. What happened to the traditional parties?

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/22/austria-election-far-right-candidate-norbert-hofer-ahead-in-exit-poll

    Even though the Austrian presidency is mainly a ceremonial role, a vote of around 50% for the far-right politician Hofer already represents a political earthquake in a country in which two centrist parties have dominated the landscape since 1945, and will be celebrated as a triumph by xenophobic parties across the continent.

    There’s very little in the article about the other guy, the ex-green independent.

      1. BillC

        50.3% v. 40.7% (2.254.484 v. 2.223.458 votes, or about 31,000 out of 4.5 million votes) with a voter turnout of 72,7% (http://kurier.at/politik/inland/bundespraesidentenwahl-tag-der-entscheidung-der-kurier-tickert-live/199.737.973). About 900,000 mail-in ballots shifted the result about 3 percentage points from the final in-person vote, reversing the result.

        Hofer, the right-wing anti-immigrant, anti-EU candidate, had said that the “Shickseria” (Reagan’s “pointy-headed intellectuals?”) wouldn’t beat “the peoples'” will. He was almost right, but the Austrian elite is hailing the victory as showing the Austrian people’s commitment to a united Europe. IMHO that’s a real bad case of whistling past the graveyard. If Europe’s leaders don’t figure out that they must force Brussels to ditch its austerity regime and institute a new “New Deal” pretty quick, Europe’s voters will find some who will — their multi-party systems aren’t quite as effective in frustrating the people’s will as the US’s fossilized party duopoly.

        This time, the broad but amorphous fear of the extreme right came real close to losing out to the more tangible fear of endless deflation, joblessness, and hopelessness. Things may not go that way the next time.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It was a very, very close thing.

      But i suspect the fact that the Austrian president is mostly a ceremonial role gave many voters the chance to give a kicking to the two main parties. We can only hope that when it comes to the main election they will step back from supporting Hofer and his nasty little party.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Yes, I would be very interested in knowledgeable parties weighing in. All I heard in the media was that a proto-fascist was about to win. I didn’t even know the other candidate was a Green, and still don’t know anything about the policies that person was advocating or what the electorate thinks. It’s certainly notable that a far-right candidate got almost 50% of the vote. But isn’t it more notable that a green leftist (if the person is actually a green leftist, which I don’t even know) got more than 50% of the vote?

  17. Peter Bernhardt

    Regarding the LA Times article, I would contract this with a similar article on p. A6 of today’s print edition of the SF Chronicle by Rachel Swan. It makes no mention of the difference between the American Independent and registering with “No Party Preference”, instead referring generically to “independent” voters. If any reader was considering changing registration today, the last day to do so ahead of the June 7th primary, this article would only confuse them. Curiously, the article is not available online.

  18. allan

    From the Guardian whistle blower story:

    But Crane’s account has even larger ramifications: it repudiates the position on Snowden taken by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – who both maintain that Snowden should have raised his concerns through official channels because US whistleblower law would have protected him.

    If there is another debate before the attempted coronation,
    Sanders should ask about this. “Are you evil or stupid?”

    1. reslez

      From what I’ve read elsewhere, Snowden was a contractor therefore the whistleblower law didn’t apply to him.

  19. Katharine

    If the networks will not be doing exit polling in California or New Jersey, the essential question is who will, and if the answer involves nonprofits, do they need our support to do it adequately? The implied network support for anticipated fraud should give us a strong incentive to counter that fraud. We have barely two weeks to organize. Whoever has useful information, please share it!

    1. aletheia33

      better yet call in the international election observers. not snark. boy do we need them.

    2. jrs

      maybe we should do it? Though yes it would help to have an organization interested in this

      (and no not fantasies like international election observers, nice idea, but how would we even get that to happen, and again if we can’t make it happen it’s fantasy).

  20. jfleni

    RE:Unemployed Detroit Residents Are Trapped by a Digital Divide

    That’s not the half of it: The New Charter swindle: 3 pounds of plutocrats in a one-pound bag, has captured the biggest ISP in Detroit; poor people there can look forward to being hosed by grossly inflated charges, very poor service at very high prices as New Charter collects on its mammoth debt, and more. Way to go FCC turkeys!

  21. Amateur Socialist

    The June issue of Harper’s features this heartbreaking story about children being kidnapped for forced labor: http://harpers.org/archive/2016/06/the-long-rescue/2/ (sorry link is paywalled subscribers only)

    When Kunwar asked the parents why they’d sent away their sons and daughters, they pleaded poverty. The traffickers offered money, they said, and promised to feed and clothe the children. Kunwar also asked the hotel owners about their rationale. One said that children work harder for less money and don’t steal. Whatever you give them to eat, they eat quietly and go to sleep. Children, in other words, are the cheapest and most easily manipulated form of labor. Even the poorest adults are more likely to stand up to exploitation. But a child, the hotelier explained, makes no demands.

    If people were forced to hire adults exclusively, however, families would be less poor — and children, as a consequence, less likely to be pressured to work. “Children are poor because their parents don’t have jobs,” Ribhu said. “But their parents don’t have jobs because the jobs are going to children.”

    The solution to child labor is better pay and working conditions for adults. Full stop.

    1. cnchal

      . . .Children are poor because their parents don’t have jobs,” Ribhu said. “But their parents don’t have jobs because the jobs are going to children.”. . .

      Is Ribhu an economist? Let’s put Beyonce on the jawb. She will fix it with a force called empowerment.

  22. Jim Haygood

    Our vigilant people’s justice system reverses an error by credulous jurors:

    NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court has reversed a jury’s finding that Bank of America was liable for fraud for its actions before the economy collapsed in 2008. It also negated a more than $1.2 billion penalty imposed after trial.

    The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in New York City ruled Monday. The court says there was insufficient evidence that mail and wire fraud was committed by the bank’s Countrywide Financial unit in late 2007 and 2008.

    A jury in October 2013 had found the bank liable after the government said Countrywide lied about the quality of mortgages it passed along to financial firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    The Manhattan court said there was insufficient evidence for the jury to reach its verdict.

    http://tinyurl.com/create.php

    The WSJ reported on 6 June 2008 that two former CEOs of Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines and James A. Johnson, had received loans from Countrywide.

    Now we know that this was “all legal.” Have a remunerative day! :)

    1. James Levy

      So even if Federal Prosecutors bestir themselves to occasionally do the right thing, the Federal Courts will swat them down. No wonder it’s so bad at Justice. If you want to prosecute white collar crooks you earn the ire of your political masters, and even if you do you’ll lose anyway. Great system we have here in America.

      1. polecat

        ‘federal courts’???….NO!…….The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in NEW YORK……..THAT federal court……!!!

        …..might as well call it The 2nd (and only) U.S. Circuit Court of LOBBISTS in New YAARRRRK……..

    2. fresno dan

      Good thing we had passed Sarbanes Oxley as well as Dodd Frank….

      We say we are a nation of laws and not men, but men enforce and adjudicate the law, and the men doing so have been captured by a world view that basically accepts that there can be no fraud (well, as long as the sums are above 1 billion…maybe 100 million) ….caveat emptor.

  23. abynormal

    “US authorities including the IRS appear to have begun a crackdown on tax evaders and according to Bloomberg they just landed a juicy target in the face of Morris Zukerman, a former head of Morgan Stanley’s energy group who now runs a private investment firm, who was indicted in Manhattan on charges of evading more than $45 million of federal and New York state taxes.

    “There are some things in life that we try to ignore, thinking that maybe if we don’t see the problem, it won’t see us when in reality, it’s only getting bigger.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Couldn’t figure out how he got dinged for shipping art to N.J. and Delaware, until this explained it:

      How can a state like New York tax an item which I either purchased outside the state, or
      which I sent outside the state and did not bring into New York until months later?

      This is at the heart of the distinction between sales tax and use tax. Sales tax generally applies to the sale of all items of tangible personal property (such as art). The tax is levied upon the transaction itself at the point of purchase, where delivery and control occur.

      Use tax is the flip side of sales taxation. It applies to instances where a purchaser brings or directs property either purchased or delivered elsewhere into the Empire State. Sales and use tax rules have been around for over 50 years and their constitutionality has been consistently upheld by the courts.

      http://www.andersentax.com/uploads/tmpfiles/NY_Art_120514.pdf

      Lesson: don’t move to New York with any property other than the [well used] clothes on your back. New York used to send narcs to the parking lot of Ikea in Elizabeth N.J. (3.5% enterprise zone sales tax) to write down NY tag numbers for shakedown enforcement.

  24. hemeantwell

    Bernie Sanders Says He Supports Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Primary Opponent WSJ.

    Sanders’ latest funding appeal email offered the option of a 50-50 split between him and the primary challenger. Recently I’d been resisting further donations, but that rang the bell.

  25. afisher

    It is incredibly sad that there are 2 articles on Whistle Blowing in the US and none of the MSM in the USA have published anything relevant to this information.

    1. jsn

      Pat Lang over at Sic Semper Tyrannis has called the US a “muffled zone”, which name once applied to the Soviet Union.

      Thankfully, samizdat is not yet formally a crime here, but if you get too effective with it you will be intimidated and if you’re any where near the levers of real power you’re likely to be arrested.

  26. tegnost

    Dean Baker has this on the new term for “globalist” as apparently the messaging of that term has negative connotations for bezos and hillz:
    http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-contrast-to-bernie-sanders-the-washington-post-promises-real-protectionism
    They’re changing it to “liberal international order”, and of course we really need more of that
    While waiting for that medicare article to reappear it’s worth checking his reaction to the latest “krugman unit”

    1. jgordon

      This euphemistic renaming spree is deeply intertwined with the liberal psych. These people have the belief that it’s the word itself that’s causing the offense, rather than the concept behind the word.

      People intuitively understand this and it’s why they’re absolutely disgusted by liberals and why Trump is getting to be so wildly popular now:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuEQixrBKCc

      1. jgordon

        “Smug, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins.”

        Uh, yep. Sounds like Baker.

  27. perpetualWAR

    Trumps ties to the Mob.

    Funny, how when the “Mob” label is used, people pay attention. But isn’t Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan the new Mob? We know Clinton’s ties to these fellas. They are the white collar mob who “takes our the kneecaps” of millions of Americans rather that targeted hits.

    Which is worse?

    1. James Levy

      This is getting preposterous. Knee-capping and murder are not metaphors when the Mafia does them. The absolute knee-jerk need to cover for Trump’s actions in order to “BUT HILLARY!!!!!!!!!” us to death is just morally indefensible. You don’t make a bad man good by pointing out how much worse the next guy is. The Son of Sam isn’t good because Adolf Hitler is worse. This is moral relativism gone insane.

      1. perpetualWAR

        James, use all the arguments of smart guys you want to….but please tell me again how anyone getting to the highest political seat in the land hasn’t literally taken out some kneecaps and I will laugh in the face of your intellectual elitism.

      2. Romancing the Loan

        I’m not sure why we should give someone a pass for using violence at slightly more of a remove. Our well-funded “revolutionary” squads engage in the same actions for much the same reasons.

        Pointing out that the other guy is just as bad isn’t “covering” for the first guy, either: this doesn’t excuse Trump in the slightest – he’s just a pettier, smaller version of the same.

        If it makes you feel any better I’ve abandoned my plans to vote Trump after concluding that the DNC would prefer him to Sanders. Better to struggle through the increasing civil unrest that will accompany the Red Queen’s reign and work on getting a third party running in the down-ticket races.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s not clear to me why throwing body parts into the organized crime bucket is different from throwing body parts into the “national security” bucket, given the level of outright corruption and criminality the two-party duopoly has managed to achieve.

        Clarity on this point might have been provided had Obama prosecuted — say — the Abu Ghraib torturers, but that was never done.

        1. cwaltz

          Awwww c’mon now, two enlisted people went to jail. Surely that counts.

          (tongue in cheek)

        2. Pavel

          The Mafia are horrid people (and it’s curious how often they are romanticised in films) but I suspect in their entire history they didn’t come up with a death toll of, say, 500,000 children killed by Bill Clinton’s and Madeleine Albright’s foreign policy in Iraq. Just sayin’.

          (But of course it was worth it!)

          And I believe (well, based on those movies) there is some sort of code of honour in the Mafia. Contrast that with starting wars over lies and greed and ego.

        3. oh

          How about several top dogs (sorry dogs, no insult to you) from the previous admin being let off without any charges? And the banksters.

    2. RabidGandhi

      This is exactly the type of oppo Trump eats for lunch. Selling his persona as the Tommy Devito who’s going to clean the establishment’s clock (spoiler: he isn’t) is precisely what has boosted his ratings throughout the campaign.

      Very telling that even after Jeb! and Rubio going down in flames, the Acela bubble aristos and their media sycophants still don’t get this.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Well, of course he isn’t going to clean anyone’s clock. But the appearance of our MSM tying Trump to “the Mob” yet failing to point out that Clinton’s ties to the new “Mob” isn’t intellectually honest. Goldman Sachs, et al, has caused more “hits” more likely than the Mob. Lest anyone forget poor Gabriel Magee or Tracy Lawrence. Or that poor banker that committed “suicide” by shooting himself with the nail gun 9 times.

        1. Alex morfesis

          What makes anyone think $hillary and her rodham family business before yale had no ties to the chicago mob ??…

  28. Lambert Strether Post author

    My version of that thought was the Clinton Foundation laundering Saudi money. I mean, at least the Mob sticks to its knitting and doesn’t get us to bomb Yemen for them. And the Mob doesn’t behead all that many people.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Right.
      I think I’d rather go for the Gambino family rather than the Dimon family.

      1. coboarts

        I remember an interview with a guy who had a small business in Russia, shortly after the demise of USSR. He explained how both the then government kept taking his money and how the local mafia was also taking his money. He said that between the two, he preferred the way the mafia did business, because when they told you to pay – you paid – that was the deal, but when the then government told you to pay – you paid – and then they came back asking for more.

      2. polecat

        … a least the mob has the decency to not parade around at senate hearings wearing ‘presidential cufflinks’…..for ALL to see!

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        It is true that the aftermath of the Crash was the greatest wealth transfer upward in world history (Galbraith, IIRC, too lazy to find the link), and that it could be fairly categorized as a criminal heist, since that’s what accounting control fraud is.

    2. James Levy

      Again, stupid moral relativism attempting to defend the indefensible by saying “but the other guy is worse.”

      When Obamabots came here to say, when their Fearless Leader betrayed us on this or that, and declared “But Republicans!” you had nothing but contempt for that argument. Now, you use it freely viz. Trump.

      We all know you people think Hillary is the anti-Christ. You’ve gone on ad nauseam about it. I’m sure she is the darkest pit of blacked evil that has every been on this planet, responsible for all the wrongs of our time. But could you please lay off the “Trump isn’t really bad” bullshit.

      1. perpetualWAR

        James, we are being asked to choose between Evil behind Door #1 or Evil behind Door #2. The fact that you can’t see it boggles the mind, cuz I know you are uber smart guy.

        1. James Levy

          I wrote back yesterday the most cogent response I’ve composed to this, uninflected with my ire at the situation we are in, and some server error or such at Nakedcapitalisms end ate it. I’m sorry about that because I understand where you are coming from.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        For clarity, Trump’s really bad. Then again, I Google in vain for “+Trump +Iraq ‘charred bodies of children’.” Perhaps you can help me?

        I’m a little unclear on this bee in your bonnet you have on “But Republicans!” Happy to respond if you’ll provide an actual link.

    3. Kim Kaufman

      Read Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance between The Vatican, The CIA and The Mafia by Paul L. Williams before you go too far with that. They’re all in it together. The mob has never been the brains but they have been the loyal enforcers.

  29. Brindle

    Mary Alice Parks is one of the very few MSM journos that I respect—she covers Sanders campaign for ABC news.

    MaryAlice Parks ‏@maryaliceparks 14m14 minutes ago
    Wasserman Schultz primary challenger Tim Canova says he raised $250K following endorsement/ fundraising email from @BernieSanders

    1. Pavel

      I was surprised to see after his previous little online adventures that Mr Carlos Danger is still allowed to be on Twitter.

  30. Ed Walker

    Thinking about r > g leading to increased wealth inequality, why can’t we just reduce r below g? The main reason r is so high is that the elites are screwing average people into the ground with debt and monopolistic pricing.

  31. jsn

    Combine no exit pols with corporate media and electronic voting machines and what do you get?

    Whatever you want if your the one that did it.

  32. fieldlily

    Jesus called it devouring the homes of widows and orphans, my version, the banks and politicians got wealthy and the rest of us got the bill. and lost our homes on top of it.

  33. fieldlily

    Jesus called it devouring the homes of widows and orphans, my version, the banks and politicians got wealthy and the rest of us got the bill. and lost our homes on top of it. corporate politician welfare

  34. Kim Kaufman

    I wish the headlines were: “Bernie supports Tim Canova, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s Opponent” instead of “Bernie supports Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s opponent.”

  35. Kim Kaufman

    A Harvard MBA Guy Is Out to Bring Down the Clintons
    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens:

    http://wallstreetonparade.com/2016/05/a-harvard-mba-guy-is-out-to-bring-down-the-clintons/

    “In a 9-page letter dated yesterday and posted to his blog, Ortel calls the Clintons’ charity the “largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever attempted,” adding for good measure that the Clinton Foundation is part of an “international charity fraud network whose entire cumulative scale (counting inflows and outflows) approaches and may even exceed $100 billion, measured from 1997 forward.” “

  36. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Hedge funds bet against Australias big banks….

    I’m surprised how little coverage this seems to be getting. If the hedges know something the rest of us don’t know (well, apart from Steve Keen), this could be a very big thing indeed. I don’t think Australia could cover the size of the potential hole in its banking system if it is as bad as some suspect.

  37. jrs

    Trump overtakes Clinton in poll of polls. Blah blah blah. It’s probably by less than the margin of error (though they don’t say).

    1. Archie

      But it is from the same polling source and has the same margin of error as the earlier polls when she was ahead.

    2. cwaltz

      It’s an aggregate of recent polls. She loses in Rass, Fox and Washington Post. She was ahead in WSJ. There isn’t a margin of error because it is based on all the polling averages.

      She’s screwed if he starts picking her off in places like OH, PA, and FL with an eye on that electoral map.

      Even ol’ Lyndsey Graham is smelling blood in the water since he’s backtracked on the idea that he wouldn’t support Trump.

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/05/lindsey-graham-forgotten-how-much-he-hates-donald-trump

      It’s going to be hysterical when it becomes apparent that she’s not going to get those GOP votes she was counting on making up for Sanders supporters or the Independants the DNC has been disenfranchising.

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