Mind The Income Gap Open Thread

You know, the income gap that's fraying the social fabric. Yeah, that one. Obama seems to be aware of it now, again, or something.


You plebes know what to do. I'll be traveling to Fiji in my personal 767, but one of my assistant's assistants will be available to help out if needed.


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US looking to buy $.5 billion helicopters from a Russian company

brutusettu's picture

and $200+ million from other sources, all aircraft to go to the Afghan army.


The chief watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction warned in a recent audit that the Pentagon is moving forward with a $772 million purchase of aircraft that the Afghan army "cannot operate or maintain."
The latest quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction cited the aircraft purchases among its top concerns. The IG's office had earlier issued a report in June detailing how "the Afghans lack the capacity -- in both personnel numbers and expertise -- to operate and maintain" existing and planned fleets.


Why not just pile some money on 40x48 4 way pallets and ship it to random friends in Russia?



You're going to see a lot of stuff like this in the next


24 months or so.  Keep in mind that for all of its faults the military can at least claim that it's generally smarter than the media and you have an administration that wants out of A-stan in the worst way possible without doing anything that looks like it wants out of A-stan in the worst way possible.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

I don't think there ever was a 'good' way out


We are going to leave Afghanistan in 17 months or a few years after and it will still be a fundamentally broken country by first world, heck a lot of third world, standards.  Afghanistan will enter it's 'Decade of Transformation' with a lot of if's.  Will it's military defeat the Taliban and provide adequate security?  Will it continue improvements to education and infrastructure, will it continue as foreign aid decreases over the next 10 years?  Evidently the Afghan govt thinks it can, if the failure to sign the BSA with the US is an indicator.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Let Me Kill 10% of the Population and Let me Go All Grozny...


...throughout the country...kill most Imams, institute new schools for religious scholars for replacement and let it be known that replacements is the policy, most will fall in line...seperation of church and state to protect the religion will be the new wedge.


This is not exactly Caesar at Uxellodunum, but it is on the same page of the same book:


p.221 book 8 Caesar saw that his work could never be brought to a successful conclusion if similar revolts were allowed to break out constantly in different parts of the county; and his clemency was so well known that no one would think him a cruel man if for once he took severe measures. So he decided to deter all others by making an example of the defenders of Uxellodunum. All who had borne arms had their hands cut off and were then let go, so that everyone might see what punishment was meted evildoers.



Yeah, I'm not so sure I'm interested in that.


At some point you have to lay out the fact that you're going to kill 3 million people and all the other associated atrocities and sooner or later the 'Can someone explain WTF we're doing this for?' question gets asked.  I can see some justification for outright evil ruthlessness when we're dealing with an existential threat, but A-stan ain't it.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Well, That's *One* Way To Encourage Anyone Who Has. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .some of the Stingers left over from the 1980's to use them now.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Now that the A-team is on the job


everything's going to be OK:

At the White House's behest, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are expected to arrive in Egypt on Monday to meet with the country's interim leaders in an effort to overcome the political stalemate there

Maybe McCain can get in another good photo-op like the one on his last trip.

"the A-Team"??

Jay C's picture

I pity the fool......

Bad Senator of the Week: Anonymous

Someone with the US Senate edited Edward Snowden's Wikipedia page to change his description from 'dissident' to 'traitor'.
Good to know Senate staff still have time for civic-minded volunteer work.

America Grabs and Squeezes its Wee-Wee in Collective Panic....


...over a made up story of threats to our Embassies to cover Snowden's successful transition to Russia.


The Media has been breathless in its 10 point type hyping the CRISIS...!!!!!!!!!


(CNN) -- An intercepted message among senior al Qaeda operatives in the last several days raised alarm bells that led to the closing of embassies and consulates Sunday across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN has learned.

CNN has agreed to a request from an Obama administration official not to publish or broadcast additional details because of the sensitivity of the information.


So, even if true, meaning that the threat is more than the constant barrage of threats that the US receives every damned day, day in and day out, we are not permitted to know how this intelligence was arrived at and without this...how can we, as an informed public, (I know that this is kind of a joke, the public doesn't want to be informed or take any responsibility for itself...but indulge me, assuming the ideal of an informed public), discern if this is good intel, a good strategy, or just utter foolishness designed to deceive us?


If this were Signal intelligence, we should know the actual physical source....so why not neutralize it or the site, remotely or with bodies on the ground?


If Humit, I can understand why we might want to keep it secret, but if Human Intel, then disclosing it could well sow suspicion everywhere in the ranks of our enemies.


If true, I still call stupidly played....


But, in general, my sense is that this is all just...Crap.


And I resent being played in this fashion.


Impeach Obama for either Mendacity or Incompetence.



This is more to do with the recent jailbreaks, IMO

mmghosh's picture

that have happened across the ME, from Iraq to Pakistan.


And post Benghazi, the Administration is probably more wary about embassy attacks having a political backlash. 

The Ease of the Jailbreaks Shows the Impotence of our Efforts


....I don't believe that the Jailbreaks are material, they are too recent to integrate these individuals into active and operating cells.


Yes, they may be cannon fodder, but I still see the closing of our embassies as a own goal victory freely given to our enemies if the rumors are true.


But, if our intel is good...go kill the bastards. Yes, Americans will die...so? That's what happens in war. Civilians will die also...and if you are the wife or a child of a Jihadist, you are not now and never will be a civilian.


Which is why Benghazi is such a cock up....the American people need to know that people will be killed...and I am pissed that over the past few days only CNN has begun to report that Benghazi was a CIA base.


We can handle the truth.



Sounds Like It's Time. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .to implement the "explosive collars" or "drug them and implant trackers in the little b******s" approach to terrorist management. Or better yet, "implant explosive trackers in the little b******s." Preferably with enough explosives that the "explosion" function *is* the tracking function.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

You Are Missing the Point about How the Security State Justifies




I believe that on the most fundamental level this is about Snowden....when an adequate period of time passes, the State will announce with somber fanfare how successful its programs are!


Prudence and caution? Double arm the Embassy and rock and roll.



I agree and would take some convincing otherwise.


One of the adjectives used to describe this latest threat was "specific". Specific enough to close embassies across the middle east it would seem.


If you listen carefully, I think you can hear the crying of Kuwaiti babies being thrown from their incubators.

Looks like a win either way


If the attack occurs it's verification of how accurate our intelligence is.   If the attack is thwarted it's verification both of the accuracy and usefulness.   Putting out a public warning established the idea that there was "an attack" on the table in the first place.


Actually I'm not cynical enough to believe it was made up.  Closing embassies has many inconveniences associated with it,  and does not reassure those countries that we have things under control,  so it probably wouldn't be done as a stunt.   I imagine we really did hear something a bit more specific than usual in that it had dates attached.

I would imagine no such thing.


I feel safest assuming the worst after the incubators, mobile weapons labs, dodgy dossier, global black torture prisons etc etc. It seems that the security shadow state  will lie as much as it needs to to protect it's income. And I see a bunch of senators are touring the idiot box stations to point out how we were saved from this attachk by robust NSA funding. It's all so convenient. The only question I have is why it is even neccessary. What are privacy motivated potential voters to do? 

Vote Cuddly for POTUS


At least with me I won't bullshichya. "I am watching you. And you. And you. Pray I don't disregard the Constitution any further."

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Here's My Problem, Obama Was My Man...


...even with his flaws and quirks and inability to negotiate well, I still always thought that he was better than the other man...and I still suppose he is.


But the real birthing of the Security State has occurred under his watch.


Sure Bush II put the levers in Place.


And sure, any  Democratic President always has to prove his Security Creds and a major attach under a Democratic Administration would be far more devastating to that party than to any Republican Administration.


Still, given all of the above...Obama has played these levers of secret power, he has filled out what was only a hazy danger under Bush to its almost full potential.


It is scary how badly my man has performed in this role. He could have educated, he could have resisted these worse angels in the American Psyche...but he did not; he gave full vent to this natural paranoia.


It is sad.


It is especially sad for me considering how hard I worked for him.



Post Birth Real Birthing

brutusettu's picture

or the "real birth" is that it's common knowledge to those paying attention now?


I don't know if it takes over 6 years to give birth to Total Information Awareness and its kin.




and sure, any  Democratic President always has to prove his Security Creds and a major attack under a Democratic Administration would be far more devastating to that party than to any Republican Administration.


Depends on what you mean there for the 1st part.



The meteoric rise from Congressman to viable POTUS candidate to POTUS was a possible sign that his serious person security bona fides were there, he would just need to say the right things to "prove" his Security Creds to electorate. 



"(Only Reagan could pull out after 241 American military personnel were killed in major attacks.)"

Closing embassies has many inconveniences? Yes, But...


....running with my theme, the inconvenience falls only on the elites of these countries, the masses do not participate at all, and the message isn't that the US is not in control, but rather You do not have your country under control and the US will cause you and your best and brightest major inconveniences.


Another in the win column.


Traveller, (heeding the State Department warings and not traveling....lol)

talking head on tv

brutusettu's picture

said that the announcement could have been done to scare away potential attacks from a Yemeni group.


Anyway, my thoughts jumped to whether drones have chaff, or what type of heat or radar signature they have and why/how more haven't been shot down.  terrorist don't seem to like hidden death from above.

3rd gen missiles like the SA18


are state of the art  but still only get 3500m off the deck absolute maximum. Range about 5 or 6 km. Serious UAVs are typically operating at 7500 meters and up. 


That's probaly all that needs to be said, but add to it the 8km range of a hellfire missile, the reduced signature I would guess a drone typically has over the aircraft missiles like the stinger and Igla were designed to shoot down and the fact that even if in range it would be at the very edge of the operating envelope. 


Perhaps more interesting is the stealth way Iran seems to have dealt with the problem by spoofing GPS and control signals. 


But I think all this gives too much and too little credit to these supposed hordes of terrorists that are out there. They're not so clever and organsied as to run and integrated air defence nor are they so stupid as to go toe to toe where they are at such a huge disadvantage.

I suspect the hand helds aren't as good as often thought.


They've knocked out some rotary wing, a few civilian fixed wing at either take off or landing. But the list of combat oriented fast movers is tiny if greater than zero. For those drones that lack that sort of performance I'd imagine all their signatures are quite a bit more difficult to pick up as well.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

It's hard


"Anyway, my thoughts jumped to whether drones have chaff, or what type of heat or radar signature they have and why/how more haven't been shot down."


Radar,  at least serious ground-based radar,  is a tool for governments that at least intend to control what comes into their airspace,  not anyone whose main strategy is hiding.   An active radar is a giant "here-I-am" that is easier to single out than infrared,  orders of magnitude stronger than a communications signal,  and is easy to home in on even with 70's-80's era technology.  An al-Qaeda camp would not want to turn on a radar, especially not to leave it on just in case something shows up. 


Those handheld anti-aircraft missiles with heat sensors are only good for things you can see, which means not over the horizon.  They might work against a surveillance drone,  but something launching missiles from 30 miles away you couldn't do anything about.   The longer range anti-aircraft stuff is radar directed which brings up the issue above.

Rayathon Perfects 3D Radar....


...I was looking for something to invest in and ran across this.



PELHAM, N.H., July 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) successfully completed a customer demonstration of a new U.S. Air Force expeditionary ground-based prototype radar. Designed to replace the decades old TPS-75 radar system, the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) will help defend warfighters against emerging threats by detecting, identifying and tracking fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, missiles and unmanned aircraft.

During the June 27 demonstration, which was witnessed by U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps personnel, Raytheon's 3DELRR tracked targets of opportunity and maneuvering tactical aircraft. Raytheon's advanced 3DELRR prototype also demonstrated integration into the Air Force's next-generation Command and Control node.


I don't actually have any free money to invest....but this seems very interesting, game changing.





Not sure what in particular is special


about Raytheon's 3DELRR system.   Northrop-Grumman also has a 3DELRR system working,  and Lockheed Martin is working on one also.   3DELRR is the generic name for the specification for USAF's new general purpose ground-based vehicle-portable radar;  I haven't looked past the abstract but it appears to be mostly better/faster/cheaper with better trajectory prediction and more modern "plug-and-play" integration; however, it's not like it's somehow got a new dimension, e.g. 3D when previous radars were 2D.  The older ones give 3D location as well.


EDIT:  Fixed LMCO link.

Oh? Thanks, Really, I Don't Mind Being Shown to be Wrong...


...in reference to an investment especially, it is maybe important that the press releases be read more critically....Ahem! Yes....Ahhhhh


It looked important to me...and I was just plain wrong apparently. RTN may still be a good investment...lol...I missed the first wave of defense investment possibilities, I was looking for the second wave.


Thanks, really, for pointing out my error.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Um, there were a bunch of jailbreaks


over the last few weeks such that we've now got several hundred more al Qaeda on the loose. This has very little to do with Snowden...


mmghosh's picture


Shouldn’t we philosophers be setting a good example of epistemic virtue? We are supposed to be rational, judicious, calm, impartial, non-ideological, just, fair, balanced, careful, scrupulous, accurate, above-the-fray. But such virtues have not been evident recently. Instead we have seen hysteria, presumption of guilt, ignoring of evidence, ignoring of due process and procedural justice, sloppiness, inaccuracy, ideology, vindictiveness, lack of reflection, simple stupidity, ideological fervor, ad hominem invective, and so on and on. This has been sickening to behold and shameful to the values we as philosophers are supposed to live by.

Such almost religious fervor


about logic never ceases to leave me agape. Doesn't both our human experience (and logic itself) underline the limits of reason? McGinn's lawyer-like attempts to justify himself are just a further exhibit in the case.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

For all its faults...


...reason has worked far better than the lack of it.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I'm a fan of logic myself


Just not the fetishizing of it.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Fair Enough


But it is worth noting that we live in a time when rational thought is under sustained attack from many quarters. Rational thinking is fragile enough as it is, so this is a dangerous situation to be in for a global society so dependent on the products of rational thought, science and technology.


We cannot support six billion people on magical thinking, be it inspired by corporate greed, ideology, politics, fraud, or religious fundamentalism.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Greed is irrational magical thinking?

mmghosh's picture

It Certainly Can Be

M Scott Eiland's picture

On the other hand, so can a lot of other things, including the notion that somehow the economic ripple effect of abandoning a fossil fuel based energy distribution system before its replacement is ready is going to be less catastrophic than the worst reasonable case scenario for global warming. Pascal's Wager type thinking--with its central feature of infinite catastrophe--is *always* wrong, short of the (unlikely) appearance of a glowing red button that is labeled "PUSH HERE TO ANNIHILATE UNIVERSE." *

*--and possibly not even that, given the theoretical existence of multiple universes.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Tell You What


I'll make a deal. We simply drop all fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks, globally. That's it.


If not, please explain why a 120 year old technology still needs taxpayer help.


Abandoning a fossil fuel economy has a very large number of upsides. Just not to the fossil fuel industry and to fossil fuel exporting countries. The notion that it would be catastrophic is what is generally known in the trade as FUD.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.



Beyond a point, it becomes irrational because it is self-defeating.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

It's profoundly illogical


To think that self-abnegation will lead to collective abnegation. You're mistaking virtue for logic.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Not My Point


My point is that companies, especially when led by right-wing MBA zealots, will cut salaries and benefits, and worsen working conditions, well past the point where it provides any net benefit and where it starts to be a net cost (from things like strikes, high turnover, inefficiency, theft and fraud, legal, etc.).


It's a beatings shall continue until morale improves kind of mentality. They've taken companies all the way to the ground with it. That's illogical. It's a mistake to think that business leaders are not strongly influenced by ideology, rather than facts.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

You're talking about meanness


Not greed.


Of course, you could make the point that said MBAs are making these insensible cuts because they profit from short-term results, but not long-term results. But if that's their attitude, then they would be applying logic to their major concern, their self-interest.


I don't always agree with Ross Douthat, but your response reminds me of this recent post of his. People marching under the banner of logic often ascribe logic to their personal preferences, no logical proof necessary.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs


Bernard Guerrero's picture

To be fair, there's a game-theoretical issue implicit in all of this, to wit, that a logical move for a given individual multiplied over multiple individuals can produce a result that is sub-optimal for said individuals as compared to a coordinated response.  That's built right into the Prisoner's Dilemma. (The singular possessive is not an accident, it's supposed to be looked at from the POV of a given prisoner.)


However, you also have to account for a whole slew of payoffs that don't sit on the same dimension, a potential calculation on the part of a given individual that he can tell which way the rest of the group is going to jump, attempts at Coasian bargaining, etc.  Given the complications, I'm wary of assuming that a given set of actions means that a lot of individual players are utterly unaware of their actual self-interest, however they happen to define it.


Regarding the specific term "greed", though, I think it might be useful to define it as "reaching beyond your grasp", or self-interest expressed in an illogical way, such that it ends up being sub-optimal.  The difficulty is, you're never going to know what's greed and what's a shrewd calculation of the odds until after the fact, and possibly not even then given that a correct calculation of the odds doesn't guarantee that the dice are going to come up 7, etc.

I''m not really down with that definition


Greed is excessive desire for wealth. But what is excessive? Usually it's defined as beyond "enough" or beyond certain moral parameters. Because you are BG and love your self-interest, you define it as exceeding the parameters of reason. And because MA likes to pay lip service to reason, he seems to define it in the same way.


The trouble with that is that you could come up with a hypothetical where somebody ruthlessly screws his counterparts to gain riches, but since he does so rationally is not greedy. Needless to say, I think you guys are using a definition that would only resonate to a minority. And surely language can't really be useful unless it answers to norms.


As for the game theory stuff, I think you are referring to my comment about self-abnegation a bit upthread. I was thinking of global warming when I wrote that... needless to say, I'm not really confident that the players will reverse their positions until the incentives substantially change.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

I'm Crushed


I am crushed and deeply saddened that you believe that 1) I pay mere lip service to reason, and 2) That I define greed as exceeding the parameters of reason.


After a few hours of hopeless despondency, I have managed to pull myself together. And that, if only to note how singularly careless your reading of my comments is.


I was defining not greed but illogical economic behavior, which is really more closely related to stupidity or cruelty. There are many levels of greed before that point, as M Scott notes, and some of those are subjective


I focused on illogical, counterproductive greed because it is the most objective of all. It is the only kind that can be used to show that the presumption of rationality on the part of economic actors is false. And I feel it is important to have that club to beat over the head of advocates of orthodox policy, whenever they start spewing their supply-side drivel.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I think you meant to


respond to #307214 by saying: "Yes, that's right. I'm talking about meanness, not greed." (i.e., "more closely related to stupidity or cruelty")


If we're in alignment, I certainly don't want to create disagreement where there is none.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

In Practice. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . ."greed" is virtually a meaningless term, since it ends up being a catchall for several concepts:

--"I think I have a better use for that money than you do, and you won't go along with the program";

--"You are using immoral/illegal/unethical/simply d***ish behavior/business practices to get that money"

--"You are so specifically fixated on getting money/property/moving towards a specific goal *right now* that you are screwing yourself in the long run along with everyone else in the process."

Which is why I tend to ignore the term when used--one should state explicitly what one's objection to the person obtaining wealth is and defend your argument on that basis rather than tossing around lazy language with emotional baggage as a proxy.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

I'll let the authors


of the Bible know.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Find A Non-Agnostic Who Cares -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

I'm a non-believer and I care


The Christian tradition is one of the pillars of our civilization. Greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. I'm a Buddhist, and for us it is one of the three poisons: Greed, Anger and Ignorance. I would wager that it is frowned upon by all the major religious traditions.


Yet what these traditions mean by greed is not included in any of your definitions. Your critique of greed is one of process, of means. These traditions critique the very ends of greed. When in Timothy the bible says that love of money is the source of all evil, they don't mean just when you're doing something unethical... they're saying it is corrosive by itself.


I don't mean to convert you to this view... I'm not sure I embrace it myself. But at the very least, we should be conscious of it and acknowledge it.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

But your alternative definition.

Bernard Guerrero's picture

....leaves things in an arbitrary, unsettled position.  "Beyond enough" means what?  If my norms require me to, say, advance humanity's destiny to move out into the stars, I can justify grabbing nearly limitless resources to be directed to an extremely expensive end, all while remaining within both the bounds of "enough" and "reason".

Which is to say, your proposed definition is really just normative, and so largely arbitrary.  That's ok   to the extent that the conversation is between folks sharing similar sets of norms, but it's  useless outside of that context.

That's how language works


The fact that we're having this discussion is proof of it. Since an exact and objective definition of terms like virtue, greed, beauty, etc. are impossible, all we have to guide us is norms. Tough news for a rugged, logical individualist, but there you have it.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

McGinn Again!

brutusettu's picture

But Benjamin Yelle, the student’s boyfriend and a fifth-year graduate student in philosophy at Miami, said she had been subject to months of unwanted innuendo and propositions from Mr. McGinn, documented in numerous e-mails and text messages of an explicit and escalating sexual nature she had shown him. In one from May 2012, Mr. Yelle said, Mr. McGinn suggested he and the student have sex three times over the summer “when no one is around.”

Both Mr. McGinn and the student declined to provide any e-mails or other documents related to the case. But Amie Thomasson, a professor of philosophy at Miami, said the student, shortly after filing her complaint in September 2012, had shown her a stack of e-mails from Mr. McGinn. They included the message mentioning sex over the summer, along with a number of other sexually explicit messages, Ms. Thomasson said.

“This was not an academic discussion of human sexuality,” Ms. Thomasson said. “It was not just jokes. It was personal.”

But no actual activity happened such as Clinton-Lewinsky

mmghosh's picture

for example, and Mr Clinton did not have to resign.


I would have thought that something would have actually have to happen before chucking out a Tenured US Professor.

There's a big dead man zone between consensual and nonconsensual

brutusettu's picture

A Prof repeatedly trying to get a student or subordinate to sleep with them, when there isn't active participation from the other party involved, that is something happening according to most employee contracts and the law afaik it.



oh no, words lost in previous edit

brutusettu's picture

that the last part should be something along the lines of "that is something that shouldn't be happening..."

Don't know why people


always bring up Lewinsky and ignore the plentiful non-consensual stuff Clinton was credibly accused of,  e.g. Willey, Jones, Broaddrick.

Fifteen Years Later. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .this Vanity Fair article remains a stinging rebuke to the lengths to which the feminist left made excuses for Mr. Clinton.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Was credibly accused of? That is and Has Been the Question


...I don't remember any of these accusers being particularly credible....If their accusations were true, then Clinton won the public relations battle big time.


(I was going to go look this up, do some research...but you know, I don't much care...Sorry, and I even know some of the background people, but to hell with it)



On the Jones case


Clinton ended up settling for $850K plus $90K contempt of court plus being disbarred for 5 years. He did not admit guilt but my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that's pretty standard in out of court settlements.


Broaddrick was less credible (some conflicting testimony) but basically the same level of believability as Anita Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas -  in both cases they didn't show much inclination to pursue the matter until the accused reached a high office where the accusation would get lots of publicity.  

Common misconception


Tenure at most universities does not mean one can't be fired.  It merely means the contract changes from "at will" to "for cause",  and it's actually no harder to get rid of a tenured professor than (for example) a police officer or other civil servant in states where public employees have a for-cause contract. 


Harassment is definitely considered a valid cause to terminate employment here, even if it's just words.  If there is an accusation with a non-anonymous accuser and some evidence (e.g. e-mails),  the prof would normally be immediately removed from teaching responsibilities while the case is heard,  and if the accusations stick and turn out to be serious,  there would normally be a termination or long suspension w/o pay.   "Serious" would include merely asking a student for sex once if the student was currently in the professor's class, or working for the professor, or being evaluated by the professor on a portfolio/thesis/etc. 




Re the last line, for a professor of engineering, certainly

mmghosh's picture

but for a professor of philosophy?


I mean, - Russell, Ayer and so forth.  And this is only from biographies.

Yes...And Necessarily So...a Most Vile form of Corruption....nt



Vile corruption


Are you talking about sexual harassment,  or being a tenured professor?

I Take a Fairly Open Approach...Sexual Interaction Will Occur


....between professors and TA's and Students, especially at the postgraduate level....while this is to be discouraged, as long as this is consensual,  fairly and freely entered into between the parties...no one's career should be lost over this, nor should panties be gotten in a twist.


Human beings being human...people need to be understanding and not judgmental.


Abuse of Positions of Power, unwanted contact and suggestive comments are Sexual Harassment and are to be dealt with severely.


In this instance, the complaint process seems to have worked well. Procedures were put in place...they worked.


Ta da.


Sometimes we do things right.


Best Wishes, Traveller

What if public funding for the arts ends?

mmghosh's picture

We don't have public funding for the arts here, depending rather upon wealthy patrons for what passes for public art, and are (as with so much else) rather in awe of the hugely publicly-funded arts scene in the West.  Here I'm including the enabling of private donations for tax-charitable status with direct public funding.  But were we doing the right thing all along?



What if the public funding of the arts, which has earned itself an unassailable position in some other countries, was a passing moment in British life? After all, it didn't even begin until the 1940s, had its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s and has been eroded and shrinking since the 1980s. Historically, that's a very short period of time. Business as usual would be the arts operating entirely within the marketplace with patrons and sponsors.


Because I think the message in the last couple of decades has been very mixed, in many ways downright confusing: we are a place that offers luxury, go-on-spoil-yourself evenings where in new buildings paid for by a national lottery (a voluntary regressive tax) you can mingle with our wealthy donors and sponsors from the corporate sector and treat yourself to that extra glass of champagne but we are also a place that cares deeply about social justice and exclusion as the wonderful work of our outreach and education teams show. So we're the best friends of the super-rich and the most disadvantaged at the same time? That's a confusing message and the public has been smelling a rat.


If the arts are for something, who are they for? And what are they doing for them? Does the Westminster government's attack on the very poorest in our society amount to a class war? Might an artist have to choose what side she is on? In a society which has reached such a wipe gap between the rich and the poor as ours – as wide a gap as almost a century ago – then the artist can't I suggest be for everyone and if we don't do something pretty brave then we will be by default for the super-rich.

The largest component of public funding for


the arts in the US (and most likely in Britain) is in the form of free art classes in the public schools,  heavily subsidized art courses in public universities,  and paid art faculty for both.  That's not likely to go away anytime soon,  although it might get shaved a bit.


"If the arts are for something, who are they for?.....the artist can't I suggest be for everyone"


Those Brits just can't let go of the class thing,  can they?  I suppose American artists look just as tiresome to them on the issue of race.


I thought it was


Unemployment Insurance. I know I wouldn't have been able to write some plays or make some movies without it.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

The class thing.


The Brits have a special take on class to do with the aristocracy, but it's not really class as meant in the comments. It's more like caste. Class, as meant in the quotes is an obsession of most Europena democracies. As it should be. Everything comes down to class in the end. The division of the pie, the decision making, who gets to put on boots and be drafted to murder members of the other nation's working class.


The US seems unique in so much as you have a social stigma against dividing society and motives along these lines. There might be class war, they say. There is class war. There is always class war.

Not To Mention That. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .we'd be able to fertilize every square inch of farmland in the civilized world ten times over from rich liberals s****ing themselves should Congress ever cut public arts funding out for good.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

All or enough money would get redirected?

brutusettu's picture

How about redirecting money from tax avoiders or groups of people that spend thousands on lobbyist for 100's of millions in tax loopholes or subsidies?


And making sure that farmland isn't going to coffee beans, sugar cane, or corn destined for corn-syrup or ethanol etc?



I'm thinking that cutting public arts $ will just end up for tax cuts for income in the highest brackets or capital gains tax holidays.  that or yet another alternate engine for the F-35 or some colossal spoils system waste of resources.

I don't like Heny Blodgett


But I did like this particular essay, in response to this tweet about employees:


They are costs. Full Stop. They don't have a stake, they hold nothing. They trade their labor for money.

— Daryl Tremblay (@DarylT) July 30, 2013


The full response is here, and worth reading. http://www.businessinsider.com/business-and-the-economy-2013-7


What Blodgett doesn't address is the notion that publicly traded corporations are run entirely for the benefit of shareholders. This item, via ProPublica, does. It's a discussion of "The Shareholder Value Myth," by Lynn Stout, trustee for the Eaton Vance funds. 


"But the idea that shareholders "own" their companies isn't actually so set in the law, Ms. Stout argues. It's almost as if the legal world has been keeping a giant secret from the economists, business schools, investors and journalists.

Instead, as Ms. Stout explains, what the law actually says is that shareholders are more like contractors, similar to debtholders, employees and suppliers. Directors are not obligated to give them any and all profits, but may allocate the money in the best way they see fit. They may want to pay employees more or invest in research. Courts allow boards of directors leeway to use their own judgments.

The law gives shareholders special consideration only during takeovers and in bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, shareholders become the "residual claimants" who get what's left over.

That concept has expanded to mean that a corporation should always be run to maximize the size of shareholders' claims. But Ms. Stout, who also serves as a trustee for the Eaton Vance family of mutual funds, argues that those special circumstances shouldn't dominate how we view the obligations of continuing corporations. A solvent company has completely different purposes than those of insolvent ones. We don't decide what to do with living horses because we turn dead horses into glue, she quips.'


What is happening in the U.S. today is that companies are choosing shareholder profits over all -- which could, eventually, mean choosing shareholder profits over the viability of the corporation itself. 



They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

Blodgett is incorrect.

Bernard Guerrero's picture

(And has been since the day he learned the ticker symbol AMZN.  Don't feed the 'tard!)


More directly, "What is happening in the U.S. today is that companies are choosing shareholder profits over all -- which could, eventually, mean choosing shareholder profits over the viability of the corporation itself" is a non-sequitur.  The shareholder are owners.  The discretion offered to boards of directors (themselves elected, at least in theory, by said shareholders) is tactical and strategic rather than normative.  Somebody actually has to decide how to maximize the value of the assets, eh?  This may mean efficiency wages or layoffs or more R&D or less R&D or more plant or outsourcing or issuing debt or diluting oneself by issuing equity or what have you.  The only normative measure is that if the actual shareholders don't like what you're doing, either because they dislike your tactics or because they dislike whichever measure of value (I like DCF, myself) you are attempting to maximize, they can (again, in theory) vote you out and replace you with somebody more to their liking.


The Directors are not a governing body, they are overseers.  Nothing more.


Blodget is quite right.... BUT

Jay C's picture

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for something to be done about it.


Also, reading through his piece, I notice he doesn't really focus on "shareholder profits" all that much: he notes that an awful lot of wealth is being siphoned away by America's corporate sector in the ever-closer-focus on short-term profitability, but it's a debatable proposition how much of said value actually accrues to the shareholder per se.


And anyway, anyone who has taken more than a semester's worth of business classes ought to know that the notions of shareholder "ownership" and "corporate democracy" are just pretty myths hoked up to try to put a more-reasonable face on how the corporate sector really operates. Which is less of a "democracy" than a variation on medieval feudalism: a vast number of rightless peasant serfs (employees) lorded over by a small number of select "royals" (senior Management) firmly in control of all power, aided and abetted by a "knightly" caste (less-senior and middle management), and with a "Church" (Boards of Directors) nominally there to keep everyone honest, but in reality, part and parcel of the same power structure.

And the shareholders as the Jews


providing the money and waiting for the next pogrom to be arranged so royalty don't have to pay back what they owe.

I had an epiphany once


When reading an article about Bezos and Amazon, and how they (fanatically) put the customer's interest above all, giving their shareholders very thin profits and being pretty skinflint with their employees too. How do you balance the interests of shareholders, customers, and employees?


My epiphany was that it varies by business. That depending on circumstances, each leg of the triad will have different leverage, and that the businesses that assign the spoils properly will have the advantage over those that don't.


My field, creative services, is a business with few barriers to entry, where little capital investment is needed, and brand is not that important, so the owners of the capital don't have the power. Because of the non-commodity nature of the business, the customer really doesn't have too much pull either. The employees have the leverage, because the customers will gravitate to the where the talent is, at the end of the day.


Online retail? Any kind of retail, really? It's the customer. Bezos nailed his priorities, and that's why Amazon is what it is. 

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

"companies are choosing shareholder profits over all"

mmghosh's picture

this is not a recent, or new phenomenon.


The public interest is looked after by appropriate taxation and social spending by the government of the day.  Which is chosen, in a democracy, by voters (who are, by and large, the consumers and workers).


In an informed and educated society, the responsibility for appropriate taxation lies entirely with the voting public. 

99 problems


#32: Poor table service.



They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

Ok, help me here


I'm looking for a good novel. The last really absorbing one I read was The Imperfectionists, which was, unfortunately, about a year ago. I tried reading Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan's latest, but it didn't hold me, either. It may be that I'm just in a long nonfiction phase, which is possible. But if anyone has a suggestion for a ripping yarn -- high-minded or low -- I'd appreciate it. 


They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

What genre? Try the "Chronicles of Cuddly"


Seriously, I got on a low fantasy kick and two authors I'd suggest are Brian Ruckley and his Godless Trilogy series.  Also I've been digging Glen Cook and something on the order of seven series he is running.  Everything else I've been reading is technical weapons/ammunition or non-fiction.  Should you ever suffer from insomnia curl up with a reloading manual, 'Oh, cartridge designs based off the 7.62 x 39mm case. I shudder to think that I might have wasted this precious time getting a lil' some-some."

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Any relation? I see 'Ghosh' and assume so.


But I don't know how common a name that is.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Not as far as I know.

mmghosh's picture

Its a caste name - of Yadav or dairymen.


Not that there are too many of us in dairies anymore.

That might be better than having a name like mine


A patronymic of Irish origin that is understandably, yet no less annoyingly, assumed to be Scot. Mainly because the same name is more common in Scotland.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 


M Scott Eiland's picture

Tiger Woods follows up second round 61 with third round 68 to remain seven strokes in the lead at the Bridgestone Invitational:


The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Hey MA


Did something change? On Reply to Comment, all the tools (link, underline, etc) and the save button disappeared, and html tags don't work. On the first view all that shows up is "Preview", no "Save".

Whatever I did to upset you, I'm really, really sorry.

Do not be concerned, Citizen.

aireachail's picture

Continue with your blogging.

I couldn't let the silence last any longer


But I have nothing to say

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

me either

Jay C's picture

but the echoes of the wind blowing through the otherwise silent Forvm were starting to grate....

And, PS: HANK!!!! Where the f*ck are are the "Bold" and "Italic" tabs...??

I wrote to him about it. It appears to be fixed


As I type this I have the normal tool bar with both the save and preview option at the bottom.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Yes. Fixt it iz.

Jay C's picture


Same here. I noticed it a few days ago


Also, it's hit or miss. Sometimes all looks normal others it's as you described

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

No idea...


But I know Hank had to do a security upgrade, and that required removing all the extra modules, or something. He might be working on it.

Or else we are being hacked.

I'll send him an email in a while.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Close Your Browser, Too Many Windows Open...(Not?)


...what you describe has happened to me also....Opps, I though I knew what I was saying, but I have only the preview button again....and I have only one widow open.


Best Wishes, And Good Luck, Traveller

Nope, Same Problem With Chrome...Hankkkkk...


....maybe this will be a good means of luring Hank back on His board...lol

Best Wishes, Traveller

Did Obama purposely thwart Greenwald testifying before Congress?


... the President suddenly announced he was coming to the Hill today to meet with all Democrats – right before the August recess begins. ... Coincidentally, this forced Alan Grayson to cancel the hearing on NSA activity scheduled for today, at which the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald was to testify.



Not accepting a secret police state is not technically

brutusettu's picture

a "political belief".
Thank you pedantic NY Times editorial blog.

This is after the US government put Manning in jail for life and charged him with a capital crime.

Sure, the lifetime imprisonment of Manning is *lawful* and so would Snowden's sure fire prison term.

Maybe Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Aso should look to the US for ways to strip away parts of a constitution.

Is the Snowden asylum a stitchup?

mmghosh's picture

Great comment here.

I agree that Putin did this to piss of the US and, marginally, to appear to care about human rights to some. But I doubt his concern will go past this: he will shuffle the care and feeding of Snowden to low level functionaries who’ll keep him out of sight as long as necessary. In short: I think Snowden’s antics have resulted in his vanishing from the world scene. President Obama gets Snowmen quieted without having to soil his legal hands.


I Hope Snowden Fades into the Background for His Sake...


...no, Obama wants to butt hurt him as bad as possible.

But Snowden is smarter than Manning or Asange...he will do well and flourish in Mother Russia, (I hope).


I doubt it...


I don't think we've heard the last of Snowden.

I would guess he will lay low for a while, get his affairs in order. Then, assuming they don't kill him first, he will get itchy to continue on his crusade one way or the other.

Meantime, there is supposed to be more material disseminated around the world. It will continue to drip out, and continue to be ignored by the MSM inside the US and in aligned countries.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Snowden is Already Doing Well...! (St Petersburg is VERY Nice)


Edward Snowden began his temporary asylum Thursday by staying with Americans in the Russian capital whom he met online, his attorney said.

"He made a lot of friends here -- and great for him that those Americans who live here and found about his situation and were in touch with him," his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said.

If he stays in Russia, he might have a job waiting for him. Pavel Durov, the founder of the social website V Kontakte, offered Snowden a job as a developer in his company's St. Petersburg office.

"I believe Edward would be interested in working on protecting personal data of millions of users," Durov wrote, who cheered Snowden for having "exposed the crimes" of the U.S. government.


I kinda like this Perlmutter guy


... the president became agitated and rose to Summers’ defense in response to Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) walking up to the microphone and simply saying, "Larry Summers. Bad Choice."

BBC Magazine on the Border Fence


This is worth a watch I think.



Also Impressive in other ways

brutusettu's picture

West Germany didn't build The Wall to keep East Germans out.  The US can outdo any other country in so much.

"US economic growth likely slowed sharply in the second quarter"


Uh oh:


"Gross domestic product probably grew at a 1.0 percent annual rate ... Some said growth could be even weaker, with forecasts ranging as low as 0.4 percent."


But don't worry, the Fed's projections have been very accurate: "the Fed still appears confident in their outlook and the prospects of the labor market going forward"


... I view the President's recent comments as partially a reaction to anticipated weak economic data. Getting out in front of the issue os probably a factor.

The Channel called Fox News says

brutusettu's picture

the formula for the numbers were tweaked*, so they're not really real numbers,  so the fudging must be actually material, otherwise FN would be fudging the truth doubleplus good.


*tweaked like saying fast food employees working 25 hour weeks per job are actually manufacturers?  who knows.

GDP report in: 1.7% growth


up from the first-quarter's downwardly revised 1.1%.


Reuters says the report "could bring the Federal Reserve a step closer to cutting back its monetary stimulus."


That shouldn't be a topic with below 2% growth for 3 straight quarters and below-target inflation for just as long. 


There is a risk to Fed stimulus


The Fed balance sheet is really getting big. Eventually this needs to be unwound, and the bigger it is the harder it is to do that. The key is that if the Fed stops buying, not to mention starts selling, interest rates go up and the Federal debt will balloon.


Another problem is that Fed stimulus goes straight to Wall Street. Look at the stock market.


There is only so much the Fed can do to compensate bad fiscal policy. Expansion should come from government spending, ideally on infrastructure (as opposed to say farm subsidies or military spending abroad), with revenue from taxes on high incomes, a carbon tax, or a combination of both.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

"the harder it is to do that"


that's equally an argument for waiting until we have a genuine and sustainable recovery underway, not anemic, below-trend growth following a deep recession.


And there are risks to ending it too. I think the key is that even a fairly conservative Fed has weighed the risks and benefits and decided that if their projections are correct, they should taper sometime in 2014. But their projections have been way off, so that speaks against tapering:


Don't Get Me Wrong


I'm pro-stimulus in this scenario, for sure.


I just think it needs to come from fiscal policy as opposed to monetary policy, which is a much blunter instrument with greater potential risk in the long run.


The only reason monetary policy is in play here is that the GOP has forced (and Obama has mostly allowed them to do it) it to be the only game in town.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Cloud computing is dead, thanks to the NSA.

mmghosh's picture



I cannot see businesses, especially, trusting their data to the cloud anymore.  So what now for the billions invested?  I can hardly see them just handed over to Gen Alexander on a plate.

INSIDE FORT MEADE, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings—the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.

I Doubt It


It is certainly dead to those to whom it should have always been dead, foreign governments.


It should also be dead especially to political parties and some of there more active NGOs, like Greenpeace.


But I'm not cancelling my gmail or Twitter accounts, and I don't know anybody else who is doing that either.


I'm not on Facebook precisely for this reason, but that has always been the case. I did not need Snowden to tell me. Over the years, I've patiently explained to at least a dozen people with decent IT knowledge that Facebook was a giant intelligence machine, something China figured out early on. They all understood, agreed, and kept their Facebook accounts.


None of the companies I have worked with or in have any intention to give up on their cloud infrastructure. And, by the way, replace it with what? What should a company with corporate gmail do? Go back to Microsoft Exchange? Really? The NSA backdoors are probably built into the Exchange servers. Oracle's founding client was the CIA. Do you want to guess how safe their servers are?


It would take incredible effort to secure your IT infrastructure from the NSA. It can be done, and obviously most governments would want to do it, and would have the money to do it (though not necessarily the right people). But average companies can't afford it and don't really care to.


The cloud is here to stay. Anybody in IT who thought their cloud data was safe from the NSA was simply not paying attention.


The Russians are using mechanical typewriters now for the most sensitive documents. I suspect they are not alone. Film cameras may make a comeback for a niche market as well. Some countries will force cloud providers to install datacenters within their borders, which will guarantee that not only the NSA, but the local intelligence services will have access to them. It will also provide some local jobs and additional bribe revenue for officials involved. It won't, however, make the cloud go away.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Corporate gmail is a pretty recent trend, no?

mmghosh's picture

There was corporate email for years before that.  Maybe that didn't develop because corporate gmail was easier, but there is no reason why it can't.  


I can understand Americans not giving up on their part of the cloud.  For the ROW it has been a pretty unpleasant wakeup call.  I doubt if German businesses will want their business data available to their US competitors - German intel perhaps but not extranationally.

Oh, Come On...


Infosys, Wipro? Most companies offshore a portion of their IT. The minute they do that, they are signaling they don't really care about information security.


One company I know has thousands of developers in China. China! A large American company with a huge information portfolio. Why? Cost. The Chinese must have a dozen backdoors into those systems by now. I mean, they wrote them!


Not to mention the chip fabs for pretty much everything, but above all networking equipment.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Funny I heard a story from a friend


Who at least used to be a trouble shooter for data base management without loss. One of his last jobs as I understand it was working for a large multi-national company. So when he came in and did a system audit and found that not only were they not secure but had no way to prove their financial info and that they were more than likely having massive fraud from third party contractors (were he found some issues) if not others. The company and all regulators in multiple countries wanted nothing to do with this issue and problem. Lucky for them he is a very honest man that could have stolen a fortune and covered his tracks... That no regulators or government oversight players want anything to do with this was interesting. It also makes one wonder how to value companies that you would think should be secure. I still don't understand how you can be an auditor of a company like Enron and not find the fraud or insecurity.

Ask courageous questions. Do not be satisfied with superficial answers. Be open to wonder and at the same time subject all claims to knowledge, without exception, to intense skeptical scrutiny. Be aware of human fallibility. Cherish your species and yo

Cynical Cliff's Notes on the matter

brutusettu's picture

" I still don't understand how you can be an auditor of a company like Enron and not find the fraud or insecurity."

Enron employed Arthur Anderson to tell Enron investors that AA had reasonable assurance that Enron's books were free from material errors.

AA proceeded to go through the motions and then produced the product Enron paid them to.

Networking equipment? Our people get nervous of Huawei

mmghosh's picture

but I don't see how modems can capture info and transmit them separately to China.  


Also, outsourcing is damaging to IT security?  This is as paranoid as our people who think every HP or Dell product has a homing device that can be blown up by the CIA.

Yes, it is.


Outsourcing in theory, no. In practice, where there are contracting relationships two and three levels deep, and where the people actually doing the work are badly underpaid and overworked, absolutely. They have every incentive to sell data, and no incentive (or time) to be careful with it.


Also, people tend to think of large companies. Sure, BMW might want to keep industrial secrets from competitors. But for every BMW, there are 10 or 100 smaller, plainer companies the sell things like napkins, detergent, or beer bottles. Companies with a few thousand employees that are hugely benefited by using cloud infrastructure as opposed to rolling their own, and with few, if any, truly important trade secrets.


If a modem or router is hooked up to the Internet it can send data anywhere in the world on command. This is trivially easy. Worse, the modem is usually in front of the firewall so the company would not see this traffic.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Mr Manning convicted. Poor fellow.

mmghosh's picture



I don't look at Daily Kos too much these days, but I don't see the discussion being front and centre there as I would have expected for a website born out of opposition to the Iraq invasion.  


Mr Steven Gilliard is missed.




In the NYT, all the top readers pick support Mr Manning's case.  This is good.

From this article:





In this one leaking incident, Manning exposed allegations of torture, undisclosed civilian death tolls in Afghanistan and Iraq, official orders not to investigate torture by nations holding our prisoners, accusations of the torture of Spanish prisoners at Guantanamo, the "collateral murder" video of Reuters journalists and Iraqi civilians as U.S. soldiers cheered, U.S. State Department support of corporations opposing Haitian minimum wage, training of Egyptian torturers by the FBI in Quantico, Virginia, U.S. authorized stealing of U.N. Secretary General's DNA -- the list goes on.



Why do we always focus on the apache incident? Seems like the smaller end of the scandal.

When you compare this to other crimes that go unpunished


or are associated with a slap on the wrist, Mannings's case is especially troubling.

Blair and the 45 minute brigade, Cheney etc, they're still free

brutusettu's picture

we need look forward as the POTUS has instructed everyone.

Little Hitler has a sad

brutusettu's picture

My heart goes out to him and his sadist pen.

Maybe Breivik's treatment IS wrong-headed....

Jay C's picture

maybe he should be allowed a different sort of pen... maybe one with a nice sharp blade, a la a Swiss Army pen: and with a handy chart of various veins and arteries (aka "passages to Allah") attached.....

Not For Psycopaths


No remorse, no reflection, nothing. They are congenitally impaired.


They simply lack the circuitry for it. It's like asking a computer to play chess, without the software for it.


They will never let him out. He would do it again.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

More killings in Iraq in July than Syria.

mmghosh's picture


Indeed, in July so far, deaths in Iraq have exceeded those in Syria. Consult the Iraq Body Count for the death list on any given day, say this Saturday just past. The pitiful tally then was two people by gunfire and AED in Baghdad, one person by IED in Mosul, one farmer by IED in Baquba, one person stabbed in Ba'aj, and "one preacher by gunfire" in Karmeh.

This is what a irrational anti-Iran policy delivers, 35 years later.

Iraq, Egypt, Libya


Three failed states.  Iraq is running about 600-700 deaths/month in car bombings and other attacks, dozens of protestors shot every day in Egypt,  and Libya has lost whatever small amount of order it had with 1200 prisoner jailbreaks, consulate attacks, govt buildings bombed, and assassinations all in the course of a few days. 


The only semi-stable (but still shaky) "Arab Spring" government is in Tunisia.  Just coincidence, of course, that's it the only one we haven't been deeply involved in.

And Just What Does the United States Have to Do With This?


...Iraq is terrible, true, but the blame rests in Riyadh and Qatar and the unjust Shia rule of Nouri al-Maliki. From the comment section of the article cited by thou:


If the editorial writer team was honest, diligent, objective : They would, with inquiring mind, seek out commonality, cause and effect relationships. They would follow the funding. It is a known fact, since 2004, that Saudia and Qatar have been funding Sunni fighters murder, create mayhem and chaos on the Shias of Iraq. Since 2004. In 2005 they bombed one of the holiest Shia shrine. But you would not read about it here. Or in The Guard news reports. The rebel terrorists in Syria recently destroyed a 9th century Shia mosque in Aleppo.


Now I'm good with killing Shia, (or most any radically religious people for that matter, I am Non-denominational in my disdain for stupidly sincere religious folks), but this killing is systematically being done by Sunni.


I don't see a place for the US in this...turn your ire towards an Iran that wants to be hegemonic across the Tigris and Euphrates...


This is an age long wish, a longing, an aching desire by Iran...


What does the United States have to do with this?


We're out...or at least I think we are.





Had, not have.

mmghosh's picture

No doubt getting out was the right thing to do.  Perhaps not getting in might have been even better.  What is the problem with Iran being the local hegemon?  Someone has to be. 

One Thing I Can Think Of


Is that the Iranians are Persians, in an Arab region.


For them to be the local power, the Arabs would have to accept being under a Persian thumb. It does not sound like a formula for long term stability to me.


Iran is a frankencountry courtesy of the CIA, Eisenhower, and the Brits who started the mess. It is to be feared, yet it is the victim at the same time.


The key to Iran, in my mind, lies in its youth, who by most accounts are pro West. The demographic clock is ticking on the hardliners, and the last election proves it. Any military action would set this trend way back, again, and reinforce the current regime. I can't think of a stupider, more shortsighted policy.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Not Getting In WAS Better...But If In, a Secular Government


...with strict separation of church and state, a muzzling of the Mosques, both Sunni and Shia, a fair division, promised and made apparent, as recommended by moi, myself, smart me was the only acceptable solution for Iraq and her people.


That Bush was himself religious and so had no deep antipathy or natural wariness towards theocratic thinking was...just so fundamental in the wrongness that happened to Iraq.


They should have made me Raj of Iraq, I would have set it straight and on a firm humanistic footing.




Edit: Gad, I so wish we had the tighty whities still here...how dare I say the above? How could it have been made worse than it was?

Tough call. Kemal Ataturk managed it, perhaps.

mmghosh's picture

Not many others did.


Humanism as State policy is probably not viable in most countries outside Europe.  And maybe not even everywhere there.  As for yourself being Raja of Iraq, absolute power etc.

No biggie, they've learned their lesson


There were only eight different kinds of offenses and they've pulled out now:


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "has preliminarily determined that JP Morgan Ventures Energy Corporation (JPMVEC) violated the Commission's Prohibition of Electric Energy Market Manipulation ... by engaging in eight manipulative bidding strategies," the regulator said in a statement.


The most important priorities are to keep the financial system operating smoothly, not to rattle the market, and not to give in to hippie anti-bank popular sentiment.

I'm beginning to think that that market isn't anywhere near

brutusettu's picture

perfectly competitive.  

Worse, the Fed basically green-lighted this


Bernanke's record at the Fed just doesn't seem very stellar to me:


... the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would review a decision it reached in 2003 that determined that some commodity activities are complementary to financial activities and that the Fed would allow bank holding companies to participate in those activities.

I'm starting to think that


child sacrifice might have been judged as complimentary to banking.


There is some hope though. I understand the banks abilits to manipulate metals markets is being reviewed.

One review is in


For stealing money in at least eight different ways from everyday consumers of electricity, JP Morgan quickly settles for ... 410 million


That could sound hefty, but the settlement is only 7% of a single quarter's profits. The deal obviates a full investigation.


It also lets off an exec. who oversaw the market manipulation and likely perjured: 


... the regulator spared a senior bank executive, Blythe Masters, who investigators originally contended made “false and misleading statements under oath.” ... The decision to forgo individual charges against Ms. Masters and three of her employees was an abrupt reversal ... and a major victory for Ms. Masters.


This is corruption shading into kleptocracy.



The standard "look forward, not back" comment fits here


So does this 17th century English song about common grazing lands being given over to the wealthy:


The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose.



The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.


The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.


Hippie Pope Watch, Gay Edition


“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

He's working it hard


I'll grant him that. But his position is this: It's not gay people that are banned by scripture, it is gay acts. This is the same old same old and nothing new at all. I'm delighted he's trying to strike a more concilliatory tone but it's still hate speech wrapped up as a religion.


If the church has such a fetish for Midieval morality I just wish they could focus on the Usury bit. It would be wonderful to have them challenge the financial power structure and their profit without labour.

It's still sends a good message


The message I'm receiving is that even though gay sex is officially a sin, it doesn't rank very high. That's an excellent message.


As for challenging the financial power structure, you've clearly missed some of my hippie Pope updates:


"The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."


This is caused by "ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good". 


I don't think it's a new message though.


I was raised that homosexuals were part of the community of the church and were sinners like everyone else.  And like everyone else, church is where sinners belong.  I've seen this experience echoed by others to include Andrew Sullivan so I don't think it's unique or new.  The wrinkle comes in with gay advocacy movements.  From the church's standpoint you had a virtual heresy (perhaps a literal one) folks were claiming a sin wasn't a sin.  The reaction wasn't tidy but it's fault wasn't the failure to distinguish sinner and sin but sinner/sin vs those advocating sin.  There really isn't anything in modern history to compare this to either.  There's not a huge adultery advocacy, or rape, murder or theft advocacy.  The only other big norm-changing advocacy movement in the US currently is drug legalization but the church has a generally neutral stance on that.


Yeah, listen to me.  I sound like a snake handler 'Get thee behind me....well....ahem, not the gay guy or anyone that's been in prison lately.'

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Just came across an interesting quote by CS Lewis


on ranking sin:


If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to Hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

Yeah but he wasn't Catholic


So he's going to hell anyway. That's a Tolkien quote BTW. Actually the HRCC does rank sin; venal and moral with venal being the lesser. FWIW, I think Lewis is wrong. I'm on a Kindle though so my explaination will have to wait until I'm done with my cigar and hop on my PC.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

You mean you think Tolkien's ranking is wrong


but you didn't really explain why below. 


I think of someone like Putin who's seeking to stamp out gay sex. I can't imagine, even if I thought it was wrong in some sense, how gay sex could be worse than the sins Putin's engaged in, the 'diabolical' ones. 


Societies with the kind of power-hungry leadership of a Putin have so much more suffering than societies with widespread gay sex.

No, no. The quote was from Lewis. The statement about


Lewis going to hell because he wasn't Catholic is something I made up and attributed to Tolkien.  I  thought it was over the top enough to be picked up as BS.  Sorry.


I thought I did explain why I thought Lewis was wrong.  He's making a distinction in severity of act where the severity of the sin is the same.  Regarding Putin, I'm not familiar with what he's doing to gays.  And honestly, I'm totally unfamiliar with any theological approach to 'collective' sin.


Hmmm, if you restate 'widespread gay sex' with 'liberal attitude toward homosexuality' I might agree.  The middle east is chock full of gay sex and suffering.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Russia is doing well, good growth, low unemployment

mmghosh's picture

highly literate, functional space program and so forth.  Clubbed with Saudia, Bahrein in GDP by PPP, I see.


They weren't doing too well until a few years ago.

Sin is a Concern of Mine, Darth, Please Elucudate....nt



Venial and Mortal


is just one way to categorise sins - according to severity. A mortal sin is one that destroys charity in the heart of man whereas a venial one only wounds charity.


Charity is a special term in the catechism. All good acts flow from charity (and since any good catholic knows nothing good can come from man), charity is the devine presence of god in man.


It's generally accepted that to rate a mortal rating a since must be "grave" (for an idea of what ranks as "grave" the parable of Jesus and the Rich Man as told by Mathew is often sited ) and intentional and committed with free will and full knowledge of the sinful nature of the act.


Mortal sin, unless repented and confessed, sends you to hell. Venial sin does not. In a way, there is a 3rd category of sin - the ultimate sin, the only one that can not be forgiven, is to  refuse to accept Jesus as saviour.  It's uncofessable.


Interestingly, you can see that since we worry about sin harming charity, and charity lives in the heart, sins do not need to be acts. A thought that harms or kills charity is a sin.


This has profound consequences. It is how something like "despair" can be a sin.


There are also other ways to categorise sin. sins can be Thought, word, commission or omission. Sins can offend against God, Man or Self. Sins could be group against the virtues they negate. It goes on and on.


I recommend you get a catechism. The lawyer in you would love it.


By the way. I mock because of the obsessive minutia of the whole edifice and because of the quantity of human suffering I have seen it cause. But I also respect profoundly some of the insights into human truth that it embodies, especially the recognition of an inner realm.



BTW Nyoos, thanks.


I didn't want to go Catholic with this subject,  but I'm glad you did and explained it very well.  Also your last paragraph struck a chord, as it is very similar to my POV though the 'quantity of human suffering' is simply something I can't claim to have observed.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 



Part 3, Life in Christ. Those are the best bits if you ask this poor sinner.

Sin isn't a concern of mine


confession and atonement is.  I've said so many Hail Mary's that I'm officially allowed to recite an abbreviated version. Ok, so I wiki'd 'sin' and the wiki says 'sin is the act of violating God's will', which, as luck would have it, is exactly what I think sin is and why I think Lewis is wrong.  The sin is the sin because one turns their back to God, not because they are an A-hole.  Anyway, what I think Lewis was doing was thumbing his nose at the holier than thou crowd, not ranking sin per se.


I'll start with a basic observation, that is that we are built to fail.  Maybe some few destined to sainthood aren't but for the most part we are.  We got urges.  A smarter guy than me figured out that there were seven cardinal sins and damned (kidding) if he wasn't right.  We're geared to want them all.  Ever come to one of those hard moral/ethical calls that was an easy right vs a hard wrong?  I never have, it was always the hard, painful right vs the easy wrong.  Like I said, we're set up to screw up.  Having said that I always look twice at the course of action where I said "this is just going to f**king suck" and time and again I realize it's usually the right thing to do.


Are you with me so far?  We're built to sin, we do sin, and try as we might we'll continue to sin?  Work with me here, I'm a paratrooper not Thomas Aquinas.  To me, the trick is what do you do next.  Don't judge others.  Forgive those wrongs done to you.  For the wrongs you've done ask for forgiveness, both to God and those you've wronged where applicable, my religious tradition includes confession.  Also seek to atone or in some way make right or make up for the wrongs you've done.  It ain't perfect and I'd go further to say it ain't always religious.  Ever done something sh*tty to someone, realized it, apologized and know that they've forgiven the wrong you've done?  Or turn it around and been the one who has forgiven?  There's a thing there, I don't know what to call it but it has always, always felt 'right'.


I've thrown this out there.  It's my simple view of faith and sin.  It's not perfect, its mine.  I don't expect you to buy into it but if you don't I'm just giving you fair warning that you'll probably smoke a turd in hell.





In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

"adultery ... rape, murder ... theft"


I think the point is that the Pope isn't likely to go around saying "who am I to judge rapists?"


His remarks strongly signal that the sin of gay sex is not in the same category as the class you mention.


I'm receiving the message that it's a low ranked sin, not very serious, and worth adopting a "let's not get overly judgmental here" stance. Of course there's no official change in doctrine b/c there's never been an official ranking of sins. 


I think the Pope is trying to change the church's emphasis, partly to reach out to non-Catholics, partly to keep Catholic youth in the fold, and my guess is partly b/c the Pope believes the focus belongs elsewhere.



nothing new. Nor are the financial pronouncements. Count Benedict the Impaler was kicking out similar pieisms on a pretty regular basis they just didn't get the coverage. Maybe he should have switched from latin to twitter.


The only concrete thing I've seen so far has been reform at the vatican bank. Minor and going with the flow of banks getting out of the business of explicitly running tax frauds and money laundering for their clients.


I'd like to see something on usury and idle richness. Attack some actual targets. The Church of England is going after Wonga. It's tame but at least it's real. Not just pious claptrap.

Of course it's hard to answer that


without stepping into the trap inherent in the question.


But here are a couple of attempts:


1. Are there any interest rates you would consider too high for a company to charge or does everything go since we are all rational actors?


2. If rates need to be so high to cover the risk of the loan then perhaps the company is not selling a loan but rather selling the fantasy that people can borrow this money and pay it back. Much like a snake oil salesman might sell a cure to cancer.


For the record, I think a review of the people on their books would be the best way. Interview and investigate 100 of their customers at random and I think you'd quickly see if their business model does more harm or good. Weigh their hearts against a feather as it were.

Come on. Over 95% loan repayment rates are pretty good.

mmghosh's picture

Admittedly not reviewed by an independent auditor, but presumably the OFT reviews these things before granting licences - isn't that what they are for?




1.  Not really, since people living in Britain are rational actors - educated, access to all manner of facilities and so forth.  Although I believe that there are caps in parts of the US and Europe.  But I guess there are large numbers of illegal immigrants in those parts of the world, needing some protection.


2.  If you notice their site, they lend to people with online accounts, mobile phones etc. It seems their target audience  is one that can repay - after all, an online loan agency can't really work with kneecapping enforcers. And its only 400 GBP per loan, not huge amounts.  Also, what happened to caveat emptor?


First Direct offers me 250 GBP free overdraft on my account so that is a better option IMO.  Maybe more banks should offer this?

If repayment rates are so high


why do they need to charge so much.

educated != rational. Also, I'd like to see the general population calculate a compounding interest rate on their loan.

400GBP is a huge amount if you are on benefits as a sole source of income.

I'll bet Loyds TSB adjust the level of overdraft their willing to extend. Heck a credit card typically only charges 25% apr.

Hey, people are willing to pay for a service. Why are ManU

mmghosh's picture

Excellent question


and it is getting asked in a lot of sports in a lot of cities. Does the local club, which relies on the city for so much, need to price locals and regulars out of the stands?

As for Messi, his club can pay him and are not on the bread line or benefits. They have high paid accountants to run the numbers and go into a decision eyes open.

Speaking of payments, why is the NSA paying GCHQ 100 m $?

mmghosh's picture

I know the USA has been effectively funding the defence of Europe for the past 60 years, but direct payment to an intelligence department?


One possibility is that the church of England


came under fire for originally investing in Wonga, and is now trying to distance itself from the company, since it's not supposed to be involved in the predatory lending business.

I think it went downt he other way around.


They discovered they were investing after they came out against it.

Benedict XVI was actually cracking down


on celibate homosexuals early on in his pontificate. Compared to that, this is a pretty big deal, even if it is more theologically conservative than a lot of us would like.

IIRC Benedict described homosexuality


as a tendency towards evil acts. That's pretty much what they've all been saying for as long as I can remember. Sometimes with an angry voice, sometimes with one filled with pity. It is still hate speech. Since we all now suddleny love homosexuals we should be cross about it but they get a pass somehow.


How did he crack down? I remember some mutterings about  a homosexual clique inside the vatican that was controlling everything but I don't recall anyone getting burned at the stake or anything.



"kicking out similar pieisms on a pretty regular basis"


OK - I never saw Benedict condemn austerity and "wage slavery". It's possible this wasn't covered.

Here's an example.




"Greed" you see. Is bad. With reference to a safely-dead-for1300-years figure who we actually didn't seem to burn at the stake.


He had a few more of these around the time.  


Look, I like the new one a lot better. Easier on the ear for sure. Doing a bang up job of appearing "good". John Paul did the same but was horribly conservative. I'll wait to see something more meaningful. I won't hold my breath though.

Thanks for the quote


I'll watch for action as well.


Encouraging specific protests by the poor in Brazil still seems fairly remarkable, and not just some bland pronouncement. This was serious social unrest that forced significant concessions from the government. It's no small thing for the Pope to fan the flames, when everyone knows the World Cup is around the corner and another flash point.