Symbols and Substance

By James Kwak

Arnold Kling wins the prize for the most erudite post of the past week, a review of The Symbolic Uses of Politics, by Murray Edelman. Kling cites not only Sigmund Freud and J.D. Salinger, but Theodor Adorno and Seymour Lipset (with specific books, not just names), among others.

In Kling’s summary, Edelman divided the political sphere into insiders and outsiders (Kling’s terms). Insiders are basically special interests: small in number but well organized and with specific goals. Outsiders, or the “unorganized masses,” are the rest of us: we have some interests, but we are poorly organized to pursue them and therefore are generally unsuccessful. In particular, Outsiders suffer from poor and limited information, and therefore are especially susceptible to political symbols. In Kling’s words:

“Given these differences, the Insiders use overt political dramas as symbols that placate the masses while using covert political activity to plunder them. What we would now call rent-seeking succeeds because Outsiders are dazzled by the symbols while Insiders grab the substance.”

This seems like a pretty straightforward description of why interest groups are politically powerful. I think Edelman’s additional contribution is the emphasis on the use of symbols by the Insiders to distract the Outsiders: “For Edelman, symbolic reassurance and political quiescence were somewhat troubling phenomena. The masses were being lulled by symbolic gestures into accepting adverse political outcomes.”

In any case, Kling thinks that Simon and I are too positive about Elizabeth Warren — not because Warren is a bad person, but because, in his words, “expect the banks to be able to do a more efficient job of rent extraction with Elizabeth Warren in place than before.”

One the one hand, this is a valid point. I’m pretty sure that Kling and I agree that a major problem with our financial system has been the ability of entrenched incumbents to use government policy as a rent-extraction device; think, for example, of the banks lobbying the OCC and the OTS to preempt anti-predatory lending laws in the early 2000s. Since we live in a democracy, the ability of elites to use the government to their advantage requires our political institutions to have some minimum level of credibility. If everyone believed that government was simply a tool for the rich and powerful, the entire system would break down and would have to be maintained by force, if at all. (This is like my argument that a facially progressive yet riddled-with-regressive-exceptions tax code is just what rich people want — were it not facially progressive, it would have legitimacy problems.)

Seen from this angle, then, the Insiders want to lose some battles. If they were to win all of them, the Outsiders would get suspicious. So what the Insiders really want is to lose the symbolic battles and to win the substantive battles. And I guess Kling is arguing that the appointment of Elizabeth Warren is a symbolic battle, not a substantive one.

On the other hand, though, does that mean that I should be opposing the appointment of Elizabeth Warren? I don’t think Kling would go that far. Probably he would simply say that I am overestimating her potential impact in the grand battle with the Insiders of the financial sector. I agree that one should not overestimate the impact of one person or one agency, and I also suspect that some people in the administration were happy to go along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because it gave them disproportionate political cover for a bill that, in many ways, and perhaps more important ways, is too soft on Wall Street.

But I don’t think I’m naive on this point. My big worry is what will happen to the CFPB when the next Republican president comes into office, and I don’t have a good answer for that — because I don’t think we’ve yet come up with a great answer to the problem of regulatory incentives. And in any case, Warren does have some power, and she will use it, and that will make some difference. An agency with the words “consumer protection” in its name will have a harder time screwing ordinary people than an agency with the words “comptroller of the currency” or “federal reserve” in it, although future directors will no doubt try. And an agency is a big, complicated organization, which means it will have a culture, and it will have inertia. So who starts up an agency can matter.

On balance, I still think the CFPB and Elizabeth Warren are good for the middle class, for poor people, and for America. I don’t think we can just call it a clever chess move by our Insider overlords. That leads to a view of the world that can too easily always explain everything.

And besides, isn’t all this “symbolic reassurance and political quiescence” stuff more applicable to the Tea Party, which is itself a big-budget re-run of What’s the Matter with Kansas? Or “is this time different”?

75 thoughts on “Symbols and Substance

  1. No, this time is not different, except in one way. (Everybody should read that book, BTW.) The 1930s depression was a real disaster. This one is not yet bad enough for anybody but Bernie Sanders to raise real hell.

    A few ritzy stores on Newbury St. in Boston have closed, but the vast majority are still open, and the malls are packed. Not enough jobs have been lost–yet. But maybe we’ll be lucky, and the present “recovery” is just a hope bubble, and things will get really bad. Then we might see Bernie getting some support.

  2. James, yes Warren is a sincerely concerned person, but her personality is not the question. It was almost certainly impressed on her as a condition for getting the job (temporarily) that she was part of the team, and the team is headed by Tim. And Geithner is the president’s most powerful advisor, because Obama doesn’t understand economics that well. In fact, Geithner seems to be the single most powerful person in the whole administration, including the president. He was the one who basically brokered the recent sellout tax cuts deal, not the president, who was his cheerleader. And every important thing Warren does must be approved by Geithner.

    Only about a week after she got the job, Warren went before a group of business leaders and said “Let’s be friends.” Then she gave a speech in which she said her main role in the new job is establishing “principles,” not burdening business with lots of new laws and regulations. This was precisely what business has been demanding.

    Yes, the system needs the threats of losses in order to gain legitimacy. But the administration is trying to prevent losses by gaining the trust or faith of the “outsiders” — by selling more personalities such as Warren, whom many, including you, trust, and is also more attractive than Geithner. Summers, on the other hand, definitely isn’t photogenic and didn’t instill trust, so he’ll be replaced by a new, more sincere-looking face. Unfortunately the majority of voters respond most to faces and body language when deciding whom to trust. Just look at the number of blog comments here and there by people who hate the tax cut deal but say they accept it because they trust Obama. I.e., Obama’s face, voice, and posture help turn them into “outsiders.” Progressives have to start from there and somehow deconstruct the American political facelift system.

  3. James: thanks for alerting your loyal readers (of whom I am now one) to Arnold Kling’s post on Edelman’s book. Very interesting stuff. In your post on THAT post, you say: “And besides, isn’t all this “symbolic reassurance and political quiescence” stuff more applicable to the Tea Party, which is itself a big-budget re-run of What’s the Matter with Kansas? Or “is this time different”?”

    Different from what? Gee, from where I sit, “all this ‘symbolic reassurance and political quiesence’ stuff” applies to Obama supporters and the Democratic party BIG TIME. Elizabeth Warren seems like a smart, nice lady, with her head and her heart in the right place. I like her a lot — a whole lot. And she won’t be able to do a darned thing. It’s a tragedy to take a good mind, and a decent person like Liz Warren, and completely waste her, but we do that all the time in this country. That’s what our system is set up to do.

    We need a sea change. Bernie is the Best. But he can’t be the change we need because he’s fundamentally just too decent. This is a brutal country; I fear the change will not, in any way, be pretty.

  4. From the book “AN AUTISTIC WORLD (1)”

    The revolution came and went. Men fought bitterly to the end defending their points of view and their interests. Athens never had such an unpalatable meal on its mouth before. Its government was in danger of being erased from history, years earlier the Spartans got rid of it on a swift invasion. Athens had lost its splendor as the center of a universe of alliances between city-states, usually sprinkled along the golden shores of the Mediterranean sea. On the winning side, corrupt and inefficient politicians, generals, and an array of well-established citizens were holding on to a tradition of superstition and mistrust that produced a society governed by an army of shifters, dealers, and merchants ready to exchange any hint of morality for a good profit. On the loosing side, a troop of idealists, mostly young fellows that found enough reasons and arguments to confront the crude reality of a decaying nation, submerged in chaos and absurdity.

    In Socrates’ times, society’s mind was preoccupied and consequently distracted with the capacity of managing the state’s debt. The Athenian citizens devoted a great deal of their energy to trying to find the best way out of their troubles, mainly caused by spending money on wars and massive public work programs. This situation was reflected in their alliances with other city states along the golden shores of the Mediterranean sea and also in the agora, where people profusely debated their points of view. The result was that in a sign of rejection, some of their most prevalent individuals turned against their government, citing their discontent with the common sentiment of placing the love for counting numbers before knowledge and ability. Our mass society professes a similar trend, but does it mean that a substantial portion of the people will rebel against the whole?

  5. Does Ms. Warren understand FIAT $$$….?

    If she does, then she needs to turn up her “moral outrage” up a couple of notches…

    Mother Teresa did nothing to stop “poverty” in India. All she did was give holier than thou “deeply religious” people an insult they could use against others – “…you’re no Mother Teresa….”

    to add to the classic “you are not “Jesus”….”

    Based on a lot of “history”, Jesus had a lot more common sense in his approach to “poverty” than Mother Teresa…

    But the point is, what the heck is “consumer protection” to begin with and weren’t THOUSANDS of laws against “predators” broken and re-written or erased

    and NOW an “agency” with no LAWS to uphold is going to bring back rule of law?

    Never heard of any of the authors cited – you guys operate in a VERY small tribe of “power”…

  6. Whatever happened to the “Contract with America”…?

    The Wrecking Crew preached and brutally enforced Nihilism

    while holding THEIR rent-seeking “contracts” sacred…

  7. First, I recommend James Q. Wilson’s Bureaucracy for a study of how government agencies can be susceptible to a range of interests.

    Second, there is an alternative explanation regarding the belief of The People and government’s servility to the rich…. In fact, the vast majority of Americans _do_ believe “a tool for the rich and powerful”, but

    1. Most Americans correctly perceived that they are effectively (and, increasingly, formally) disenfranchised.

    2. Even if Americans are not disenfranchised, both government and the rich and powerful it actually serves are insulated against the opinions of the majority.

    3. Even if people are not disenfranchised _and_ neither government nor the rich are particularly insulated, a huge number of people _don’t care_. This is the point made by, among others, John Kenneth Galbraith (in, to cite specific books, “The Culture of Contentment”). The genius of the American social and economic institutions created under FDR lay in the creation of a threshold level of well-being below which most Americans neither fell nor needed to fear falling.

    It is this last component that is now changing, and has been since the late 1970s (late Carter). Those institutions, most notably social security, have been unrelenting attack by Republicans _and_ most Democrats for 30 years. But with a media and educational structure which is _either_ part of the rich-powerful elite _or_ is beholden to it, most Americans are grossly ill-informed. And, despite the 30-years war, the system is still largely intact, and most Americans (though fewer than before) remain content.

    But, what has changed is at the margins — the left and the right. Most at both margins are not all that much better-informed than the middle majority, but the margins — for many reasons — feel more alienated.

    My contention is that, whereas the right-wing, the right margin systematically fails to correctly identify the causes of their feelings of alienation, a significant number on the left do correctly identify them. Predictably, it is therefore a great deal more important that the left margin be exiled — as the government, the media and, to a lesser extent, academia, do.

    I suggest that my explanation (which is, of course, not the least bit original) has greater explanatory and predictive power.

  8. Hey, not a bad post at all! Did you want to ridicule modern political economy? What would you propose to replace it with. Guess poor old candidate X for job Y is probably not worse than the average, but why expect an appointment to have any effect but a private one for the appointee and an very diluted one for beneficiaries (with the math this simple, everyone would want a cut) and a negligible one for the people paying the bill (and who knows, they may be winners next time, right?).

    But really, this is one of the most perfect illustrations of why well meaning intellectuals are wrong to believe that their, beliefs, theories and even science, matter.

  9. If everyone believed that government was simply a tool for the rich and powerful, the entire system would break down and would have to be maintained by force, if at all.
    This is precisly the reason for the Emancipation Proclomation. Had slavery been allowed to continue it would have only been a matter of time, before the stronger race prevailed and over ran their rich, but dwindleing counterparts. A compromise of the few and a war of many would prevent a future larger problem from occuring down the road.

  10. “I don’t think we can just call it a clever chess move by our Insider overlords. That leads to a view of the world that can too easily always explain everything.”

    Doesn’t compute. The way this is written, is says that a specific outcome must be good, because of the way it reflects on the general situation. The specific situation is what it is. The general situation is all the specific ones in aggregate. It is entirely possible for the Insiders to have won this one and not overturn the state of the world.

  11. Don’t the Insiders always win?

    Even in the case of the Civil War, slavery did not end as all of us were taught in elementary school, but actually continued in many places in the South until World War II. The industrial North simply turned its back. All the details, ferociously footnoted, are in “Slavery By Another Name” by Douglas Blackmon.

    So the Insiders almost always win: that IS the state of the world.

  12. Re: @ Rien Huizer___”But really, this is one of the most perfect illustrations of why well meaning intellectuals are wrong to believe that their, beliefs, theories, and even science, matter”

    Precisely why they are the first to be rounded up and slaughtered as “terrorist”!

    God Bless You…Julian Assange

  13. Re: @ Herbert Wetherby___”(tool for the rich and powerful) This is precisly the reason for the Emancipation Proclamation”

    By 1863 the United States had agricultural machinery doing the work of many a slave. Ironically the upkeep for a slave was better then, than that for an average american citizen today. The owners provided housing, meals, day care[?], and medical/ medicine (sick bay). These tainted “Slave Owners” are/were quite contrary to your stereotyped analysis. History’s empirical/actual facts pose a more salient argument…that is to say, left many a free slave wanting to stay with their prior owners – their lives at present weren’t all that bad. Just to clear up another misnomer as “James” has so eloquently illustrated in a abstract frame of sybolism as your comment espouses being: “The Civil War” was all about the “Substance of Commerse”, period! It is the “Lotus Moment Syndrome of Mitosis Recalcitrant” that societies are forced to drink not knowing their conterminous limits? Finally, Elizabeth Warren is doing the best of what we’ve got currently thorning the sides of all “Insiders”, thus a quasi-exempt fatalist need not ballot for such anti-apotheosis rhetoric on the plane of morality, or better said reason?

  14. Sort of like todays peoples being slaves to money, less discrimination too. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  15. The Insiders want to lose some battles. If they were to win all of them, the Outsiders would get suspicious.

    To be more precise, they pretend to have battles in the first place, and then ought to lose some. One sign of the criminals’ loss of touch is how they barely even pretend to have battles anymore, and they never lose them.

    This is one conseqence of the way they set up the kleptocracy. The way it works is that no matter where the people try to take action to take back their country, some criminal interest is always there to take the lead in beating them down.

    But it follows from that that there’s no battle the elites as a whole can even pretend to lose any more, since they would face that same special interest resistance at any such point. Each interest says in effect, “Why should I take the hit for the common (elite) good? Let someone else take it.”

    The recent doubling down on the ethanol mandates is an excellent example. The ethanol racket is absurd even by this kleptocracy’s standards. Many other rackets opposed this blend wall extension. But the system can’t help itself; at each point there’s one aggressor vs. a relatively dissipated front. It’s the same as when they fight the people.

    Thus their Tower of Babel grows ever higher, ever more top-heavy, ever more unstable, ever more tottering.

    On the other hand, though, does that mean that I should be opposing the appointment of Elizabeth Warren?

    Strictly speaking, I never opposed any Warren appointment (what would I have to do with system appointments?). But I did say no one should support it or think it would help with anything. And I did say if she were really on the level she’d refuse such an appointment, which she of course knew all along was intended to bury her in futility and impotence, well away from the public eye. Which is exactly what’s happened.

    I did say Bernie Madoff would be a better appointment. It would afford greater clarity. It would have greater educational value, greater truth value.

  16. This is one conseqence of the way they set up the kleptocracy. The way it works is that no matter where the people try to take action to take back their country, some criminal interest is always there to take the lead in beating them down.

    This is entirely true, if ordinary people want to challenge a law, they must sit on the jury of the crime and convince the rest of the jury that the law is wrong. From there the 12 persons enlist as many individuals as possibe to eventually collect the votes needed in congress to pass the ordinary peoples challenge to a law. Does anyone really believe the law makers had any intention of actually allowing this to occur, just dismiss the juror and your “kleptocracy” is home free, nice and quite like.



    “In his new book, Death of the Liberal Class, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges argues that the failure of President Obama to represent the interests of his supporters is just another example of a quickly dying liberal class. In the book, Hedges explains how the five pillars of the liberal class—the press, universities, unions, liberal churches and the Democratic Party—have become corrupt. [includes rush transcript]”





    Glenn Greenwald’s Unclaimed Territory

    I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. I am the author of two New York Times Bestselling books: “How Would a Patriot Act?” (May, 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, and “A Tragic Legacy” (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy. My most recent book, “Great American Hypocrites”, examines the manipulative electoral tactics used by the GOP and propagated by the establishment press, and was released in April, 2008, by Random House/Crown.

    Twitter: @ggreenwald

  19. Well leave mrt Assange out of this. I have no idea if he has done anything wrong (except what the Swedes have) but I find it strange that Americans seem to believe that “leaking” probably illegal;ly obtained information that makes life more difficult for diplomats and allies, is “good”. There is nothing good about a country shooting itself in the foot, be it by going into unrewarding wars or by behaving as if diplomacy should not be confidential. Why do things like these not happen in China/ (1) because the chinese authorities will find and hurt you and (b) the Chinese CCP (being both gvt and electorate) strongly believes that diplomacy does not belong in the public domain.
    Just immature attention seeking and maybe there is some money in it somewhere for someone, in my opinion.

    But my main point was that if people like to support a candidate (however artificially created to appeal to them, that is a right every contestant gets) that is not appealing to people who consider themselves not “ignorant” etc (guess most people commenting here and certainly the posters), the majority of people who bother to show up on election day, wins and the government that results from this, is legitimate. Period. Intellectuals only matter if they can mobilize enough people and they will not do that by feeding eltice-criticism peddlers, by pointing their noses at the 25% of people who are clearly not well informed about these matters.

    Maybe good to refer to Plat’s criticism of democracy as appealing (why would a rational person prefer tyranny by the ignorant over tyranny by the well-informed and maybe benevolent?) mainly to people who do not understand real world politics. Lost of these people understand mainstream theoretical economics and maybe they like the real world to be like that?

  20. This, James, is perhaps my favorite of any post you’ve ever made. Why? It is because the arguments for “insider”/”outsider” are so apt and correct. What it does to me, without even launching into a major rant, is just how much a democratic country relies upon each citizen to be educated AND informed. The price of ignorance and apathy in a democracy is backbreaking, obviously. Don’t get me wrong, I think that a meaningful percentage of adult citizens of voting age try to be informed. Although, the obvious problem here is that the press intentionally misinforms people regarding issues, solutions, and political reality. I used to be so naive that I actually believed that by watching C-Span, I would get the unvarnished political truth. And, I was interested, and not even young at the time. How sadly wrong I was.

    The Liz Warren example is a classic. I have become sophisticated enough to know that she is just a human political football. The administration knows that she’s smart and progressive, incredibly well informed, and hugely popular. A no-brainer as an appointee to her current post. Of course, Wall Street will claim that her CFPB will destroy their profits, but anyone who knows anything knows that that won’t happen. But, even I know that she’s only one small cog in a vastly dysfunctional governmental apparatus. Her presence will have a positive effect in some small ways, but the forces aligned against her are so vast and rich that she is heavily discounted already.

    If I could wish for anything for Christmas it would be for our adult population to devote at least an hour a day to reading and investigation, and not spend any of that hour reading anything in the major media or watching any network television. That would be wasting the entire hour, or worse.

  21. To reduce these issues down further, I’ll describe my recent experience playing a war game on-line with my middle-school-aged cousin who had asked me to team up with him and try to help him. He didn’t understand why he could make no progress in the game. There’s a point system, and the longer one plays and the more people one kills, the more points one gets, medals they achieve, etc.

    Everyone else seemed to have achieved the highest levels or were close to it, but he had played day after day and almost every game he was getting killed immediately after he “spawned.” He got lucky a few times and was able to shoot someone before getting mowed down again, but this was rare.

    So I got the game, read a little about it, and then jumped in and tried to get a little experience. It was nothing like “real” warfare, except by chance once in a while. Most of it was just people running around at top speed killing others with a single shot, direct to the head. Knifing, shooting, sniping, shotgunning, grenading, etc. In almost every case though, it seemed like a single shot was doing it.

    The question occurred to me: “Are they cheating somehow?” It seemed like it had to be. It couldn’t be just skill especially since most of the players seemed to know exactly where one was on a map even though they couldn’t actually “see” you (as far as you knew).

    So more reading. Turns out that, yes, in fact, there are companies out there that sell cheats/hacks for these games that allow for automatic aiming at heads and for seeing other players wherever they were on the map. Total transparency, haha, but only for the people who bought the cheats.

    So if they’re relying on these tricks, then their actual skill must be pretty low, so maybe it was possible to defeat them, even with their advantages? I tried this and did have some limited success. A good many of them are over-confident and if one behaves like a “noob,” then they will come after you until they realize that you are setting up an ambush for them, after which they will pretty much leave you alone if they know it’s you. Others though, do have great dexterity and a good tactical sense; these are nigh impossible for a “noob” player with no cheats to beat.

    The game is played on servers, both of the company, and hosted by individuals and other organizations. You can choose to have them set you up — matchmake — with a server, or you can choose from a list. I looked through the list and no one seemed to be advertising cheat-free play, so I opted the auto-matching. From time to time I would ask what percentage of the players were cheating. Part of the time this was greeted with silence, sometimes people would type back “noob,” or “loser noob.”

    But one jovial fellow was very helpful. His answer? “Are you kidding? We’re all cheating.” I think that this was true on that particular server, and indeed on most of the servers during prime-time play. On other servers it’s very obvious when you have a group of non-cheaters (outsiders). The less-skilled cheaters seem to love these servers because they can come in and rack up points very quickly. It seems that the non-cheaters become frustrated very quickly and purchase the hacks to become more competitive.

    The example is a bit off, maybe, because *most* of the players seem to be cheating, and so the insiders are the vast majority.

    What stuck was the abusive use of “noob.” Were the abusers called noobs themselves when they got started? Seems likely.

    The system has something built into it ostensibly to prevent cheating, but it barely works. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the company that produces the game also helps to sell the hacks as it’s an indispensable item for most of these players. Some servers also auto-balance the teams, so if you’re new and weak, you can survive a bit longer with a strong team. Alas in life there is no autobalance, and the anti-cheating algorithms are just as weak.

    Advice to cousin: find a server where cheating is discouraged. They do exist. There are password-protected servers, where, conceivably you can play with the moral bloodthirsty — the ones who don’t abide cheating. Or, he can host his own, I think, by downloading some software. But to jump into all the carnage on a typical open server? People just running around as fast as they can, racking up points at the expense of less experienced, less corrupt players?

  22. No, James, you are obviously not naive. First McKinsey and then Yale Law School? Chances are you will find an excellent place to rest while our idiotic system crumbles. A person would have to spend 24/7 on rants, marches, demonstrations, hunger strikes, etc., and he would still be pis*ing in the ocean. Ignorance remains our national way of life. A vast majority absorbs propaganda and accepts it as news. Nothing has really changed in my adult lifetime, which began in 1960. If you think there is any aspect of government not controlled by the rich and their stooges, you simply don’t understand how it works.

  23. CNBC recently took note of the economics-related war-games planned by the Pentagon, including the recent Unified Quest 2011, which will actually be looking at what happens domestically when the financial systems breakdown and how to handle the subsequent civil unrest.

    If you look at Obama’s entire erratic policy grid of doublespeak compromises, it is not erratic at all. His message is based upon cognitive dissonance. His actions are entirely ONE PACKAGE. Everything actually delivered is not democratic at all, in fact it is hard right…even the gains are being turned back. Obama is succeeding where Bush failed. Social Security, first amendment rights for Corporations (unchallenged), Supreme Court dissent against the constitution; pension funds under attack; federal employees now being downsized with State Civil Service next; and the little discussed fact that small town America is bankrupt and struggling with the new “austerity” cuts without even the support that Wall Street receives with the big banks. Just as the big banks kept the monetary bailout at the top for themselves claiming “liquidity” as cure all, the corporate wealth is all being concentrated among the class structured elites. Apparently the “liquidity” cure is translated into a politically polluted “redistribution of wealth” when it comes to the lower 90% of the economy. We can only surmise that the top 10% is preparing a new Noah’s ark against a poverty flood that will wipe out all true liberty among Americans and have a domino impact on the rest of the world. The new “ownership” economy appears to be designing the new Imperial Empire of Ruler’s economy. The path we are on is to crash the economy and anyone who doesn’t see that at this point is simply living in a false consciousness. Political suppression is initiated outside the country in foreign contexts where constitutional factors don’t intercede; and then they are brought insidiously into the domestic dynamics under pretexts of national security. Count the infractions! Do the math! ; (Quote:

    “Army officials met outside Washington last week for a thought experiment about the implications of a large-scale economic breakdown that would force the Army to absorb significant funding cuts and prepare the service for an increased role in keeping domestic order amid civil unrest,” reported on the recent games.
    The article says officials chose the global financial collapse scenario because “it was deemed a plausible course of events given the current global security environment.”
    “In such a future,” it reports, “the United States would be broke, causing a domino effect that would push economies across the globe into chaos.”
    The latest game included a grim outlook: cuts in defense and international relations, fragmentation of power, and consolidation of “common functions, like logistics, training, medical services and information systems.”

    But there was one “sliver lining” according to the article: “The Army would have an influx of qualified recruits as the result of an unemployment rate between 25 percent and 30 percent.” (end quote)

    …And those “recruits” will be your new enforcer …cold to Freedom, Liberty and Democracy as we understand it.

  24. Just because We the Stupid have failed to be properly “educated” in the various “isms”

    that were MADE UP in by psychotic WAR LORDS and DRUG LORDS –

    and increasingly worse shamans – some kind of new sub-human species altogether – completely lacking in cohesive coordination – wasn’t Obama really just a global Jim Jones with Jonestown as the goal – complete with “mass suicide” as the counter-insurgency schtick to be deployed at the right moment – once the village was built and there was enough fruit from someone else’s labor to STEAL?

    ….our REFUSAL to be educated in “isms”

    is DATA that should be “interpreted”


    Why don’t the kleptocrats LIVE by the nihilistic “laws” that they force on everyone else through “contracts” directing the flow of FIAT $$$ back to them

    as soon as enough REAL wealth was created by LABOR…

    Repeat after me, We the Stupid, “They are NUTZ.”

    Stop pretending that “human nature” was NOT well enough understood back when the Declaration of Independence was being drafted…

    Those dudes looked at history REPEATING itself over 10,000 years of civilization


    that when you get to THIS point of the rinse and repeat cycle

    this point that the WAR LORDS create – the VIOLENT stage when “perception” isn’t managing reality anymore

    You STOP

    and have that Constitution Convention.

    BURN the Patriot Act and then maybe you all can claim that “wikileaks” is criminal….

    Also what is proof of REAL PROGRESS that can’t be erased – that woe to you rant that got Jesus crucified by the “elite”…?

    In the USA, we’re locked and loaded against the scum bag pharisee – the “religious” have no SPIRITUAL power – from Pope to TV Evangelical…none of THEM are “jesus” or “mother teresa” either….

  25. This piece is a good example of self emasculating liberal think. It’s no wonder this country is becoming so ineffective at dealing with white collar looters.

    The NY Times op-ed “The Captive Arab Mind” by ROGER COHEN 12/20/2010, deals with the conspirarcy theories that are rampant in the Arab world, where people actually are powerless due to external factors, versus internal ones.

    If the government creates a department that is designed to detect and prosecute looters, it is not inevitable that it will taken over and turned into a sham, by the looters, except in a country populated by wimpy victims who are beaten right from the start.

  26. @ Rein Huizer___”Why do these things not happen in China/”
    Simply said, we’re dealing with the free world.
    Have you any idea that the U.S. has been a shadow “Fascist State” the last “12 years”!
    Habeas Corpus is no-more!
    Water-Boarding is on the fringe of “a-Must” to anyone or everyone that poses a problem?
    The Iraq War was a joke – the Afghanistan War is a bigger joke – the soon to be Pakistan War will be a travesty, followed by the Iranian conquest for what?
    Viet Nam was fabricated as was North Korea for what – a giant footprint of democratic oppression?
    The free world, and those countries even on the cusp of semi-freedom, now ponder our questionable insane alternatives too “Our (so-called) Patented Freedon”!
    We’ve got mouths like “Chris Matthews (tell me something I don’t know?), and the arrogant loudmouth Dylan Ratigan (it’s my show and I’ll do what I want?) on MSNBC (Glen Beck ,Rush the Tryrant Limbaugm, and Bill the last word O’Reilly) shouting out (just to name a few of these fool’s) their biased inaccuracies towards “Julian Assange”, for what?
    Take the easy way home pukish journalism emasculated!
    Julian Assange is about freedom of speech in the free world – for it is the free world that is the torch foward for all fledgling democracies to incubate, and grow.
    I don’t care what they do in Russia, China, North Korea, Burma, Sudan…their not my concern – I[We] have enough problems just keeping the free world abreast of our own “America’s” dire consequences of a dying “4th Estate”.
    This is what I call “Symbolic with a Whole-Lot of Substance” and people like Ms. Elizabeth Warren can make a change.
    God Bless You…”Julian Assange”

    Thank You James and Simon, and never/ever stop the “Good Digging for America’s Sake” :-)

  27. She will be marginalized. She is just 1 person. She has limited power and experience. The issues are too technical, the forces arrayed against her too formidable, and most don’t understand or care that much about the issues and don’t understand how it will directly affect their lives.

    But I suppose if you need to cling to 1 really good thing that came out of this whole charade, her appointment is as good as any other.


    Symbolism; markets political manipulation and cold war propaganda
    Engineering consent; propaganda and behavioral motivation (read full article @ link)

    Edward Louis Bernays (November 22, 1891 – March 9, 1995), was an American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda along with Ivy Lee, referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”.[1] Combining the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Dr. Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion using the subconscious.

    He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational and dangerous as a result of the ‘herd instinct’ that Trotter had described.[citation needed] Adam Curtis’s award-winning 2002 documentary for the BBC, The Century of the Self, pinpoints Bernays as the originator of modern public relations, and Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine.[2]

    This elitist thinking was heavily shared and influenced by Walter Lippmann, one of the most prominent US political columnists at the time. Bernays and Lippmann sat together on the US Committee on Public Information during World War I and Bernays quotes Lippmann extensively in his seminal work Propaganda.

    Bernays also drew on the ideas of the French writer Gustave LeBon, the originator of crowd psychology, and of Wilfred Trotter, who promoted similar ideas in the anglophone world in his book Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War. Bernays refers to these two names in his writings. Trotter, who was a head and neck surgeon at University College Hospital, London, read Freud’s works, and it was he who introduced Wilfred Bion, whom he lived and worked with, to Freud’s ideas. When Freud fled Vienna for London after the Anschluss, Trotter became his personal physician, and Wilfred Bion and Ernest Jones became key members of the Freudian psychoanalysis movement in England, and would develop the field of Group Dynamics, largely associated with the Tavistock Institute where many of Freud’s followers worked. Thus ideas of group psychology and psychoanalysis came together in London around World War II

    Bernays’ public relations efforts helped to popularize Freud’s theories in the United States. Bernays also pioneered the PR industry’s use of psychology and other social sciences to design its public persuasion campaigns:

    “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it? The recent practice of propaganda has proved that it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within certain limits.”[5]

    He called this scientific technique of opinion-molding the ‘engineering of consent’.

    Bernays began his career as Press Agent in 1913, counseling to theaters, concerts and the ballet. In 1917, US President Woodrow Wilson engaged George Creel and realizing one of his ideas, he founded the Committee on Public Information. Bernays, Carl Byoir and John Price Jones worked together to influence public opinion towards supporting American participation in World War I.

    In 1919, he opened an office as Public Relations Counselor in New York. He held the first Public Relations course at the University of New York[disambiguation needed] in 1923, publishing the first groundbreaking book on public relations entitled Crystallizing Public Opinion that same year.

    One of Bernays’ favorite techniques for manipulating public opinion was the indirect use of “third party authorities” to plead his clients’ causes. “If you can influence the leaders, either with or without their conscious cooperation, you automatically influence the group which they sway”,

    In Propaganda (1928), Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy:
    The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.

    Notwithstanding such seeming probity, articles in the journals of opinion, such as the one by Marlen Pew, Edward L. Bernays Critiqued as “Young Machiavelli of Our Time”,[6] and the debate between Bernays and Everett Dean Martin in Forum, Are We Victims of Propaganda?, depicted Bernays negatively.[7] He and other publicists were often attacked as propagandists and deceptive manipulators, who represented lobby groups against the public interest and covertly contrived events that secured coverage as news stories, free of charge, for their clients instead of securing attention for them through paid advertisements.

    Bernays’ most extreme political propaganda activities were said to be conducted on behalf of the multinational corporation United Fruit Company (today’s Chiquita Brands International) and the U.S. government to facilitate the successful overthrow (see Operation PBSUCCESS) of the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Bernays’ propaganda (documented in the BBC documentary, The Century of the Self), branding Arbenz as communist, was published in major U.S. media. According to a book review by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of Larry Tye’s biography, “The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & The Birth of PR”,

    “the term ‘banana republic’ actually originated in reference to United Fruit’s domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries. The company brutally exploited virtual slave labor in order to produce cheap bananas for the lucrative U.S. market.”

    Chilean poet Pablo Neruda would later denounce the dominance of foreign-owned banana producers in the politics of several Latin American countries in a poem titled “La United Fruit Co.”

  29. Treasury Department Announces Senior Leadership Hires for CFPB Implementation Team

    Page Content
    WASHINGTON –The US Department of the Treasury today announced the hiring of senior leadership for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) implementation team currently housed at Treasury.

    Elizabeth Warren, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the CFPB, highlighted the selection of current Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the enforcement team. In addition, Leonard Chanin will lead the rule writing team and David Silberman will head the card markets division.

    “For too long, American families who have worked hard, played by the rules, and lived up to their financial obligations have struggled against a large, complex financial system with no cop on the beat to enforce the law,” said Warren. “Richard Cordray has the vision and experience to help us build a team that ensures every lender in the marketplace is playing by the rules.”

    “I’m also pleased to have Leonard Chanin playing a key role in building an effective and efficient rule writing team and David Silberman keeping us on the cutting edge of the trends and changes in the card markets.”

    The following individuals were announced today as joining the CFPB implementation team leadership:

    The Honorable Richard Cordray

    Richard Cordray will lead the enforcement division of the CFPB implementation team. His responsibilities will include building the enforcement team and preparing for the exercise of enforcement powers. He has been on the front lines of consumer protection as Ohio’s Attorney General. Under Cordray’s leadership, Ohio families faced with the prospect of losing their homes have had one of the strongest advocates in the nation against foreclosure rescue scams. Last year, his office responded to a record number of consumer complaints, but Cordray went further and opened that process for the first time to small businesses and non-profit organizations to ensure consumer protections for even more Ohioans. He has argued seven cases before the US Supreme Court and served as law clerk to Justices Anthony Kennedy and Byron White. Previously, Cordray served as Ohio Treasurer, Franklin County Treasurer, Ohio State Representative, and as Ohio’s first Solicitor General.

    Leonard Chanin

    Leonard Chanin will lead the rule writing team within the CFPB implementation team. His responsibilities will include building the rule writing team and developing initial proposals. He is currently Deputy Director of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs and brings two decades of experience and expertise navigating the federal landscape of consumer financial services laws. In 1997, Chanin was elected as a founding member of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers, an honorary organization of attorneys who have made significant contributions to the area of consumer financial services law. Chanin began his legal career as an attorney in the consumer division and is a recipient of Federal Reserve Board Special Achievement Award for work on Truth in Savings.

    David Silberman

    David Silberman will be the lead for the card markets division for the CFPB Implementation Team. Silberman’s involvement with consumer financial services began when, as Deputy General Counsel of the AFL-CIO, he created an organization to provide financial services to union members and negotiated the first AFL-CIO credit card program. Silberman went on to serve as President and CEO of Union Privilege and later as Director of the AFL-CIO Task Force on Labor Law. Prior to joining the CFPB implementation team, Silberman served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Kessler Financial Services, a privately-held company focused on creating and supporting credit card and other financial services to membership organizations. Silberman began his career as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall and then as a member of the law firm of Bredhoff & Kaiser.​

  30. “But there was one “sliver lining” according to the article: “The Army would have an influx of qualified recruits as the result of an unemployment rate between 25 percent and 30 percent.’”

    Here’s a silver lining on that silver lining; most Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are either:
    •Medical/physical problems, 35 percent.
    •Illegal drug use, 18 percent.
    •Mental Category V (the lowest 10 percent of the population), 9 percent.
    •Too many dependents under age 18, 6 percent.
    •Criminal record, 5 percent.

    We can only hope that of the remaining 25% the rest are either too smart or too rich to become the foot soldiers of repression. One looks for good news wherever one can find it, however slight.

  31. It will be nice if these people actually get hired and aren’t subject to senate confirmation hearings. If they are subject to such hearings, these appointments will neva happen in the new Republican controlled Congress. This would be a perfect example of the Outsiders seemingly gaining some reassuring control, but that illusion of control being blocked by the Insiders. From Kling’s review of Edlelman’s book.

    “Given these differences, the Insiders use overt political dramas as symbols that placate the masses while using covert political activity to plunder them. What we would now call rent-seeking succeeds because Outsiders are dazzled by the symbols while Insiders grab the substance. As Edelman puts it, p. 37-38:

    antitrust policy, public utility regulation, banking controls, and curbs on management and labor…it is largely as symbols…that these statutes have utility to most of the voters. If they function as reassurances that threats in the economic environment are under control, their indirect effect is to permit greater claims upon tangible resources by the organized groups concerned than would be possible if the legal symbols were absent.

    In other words, expect the banks to be able to do a more efficient job of rent extraction with Elizabeth Warren in place than before. p.39:”

  32. This is no fun. All I tried to say is that given aversion to popular politics (and maybe popular culture too?) among intellectuals, they seem to share Plato’s insight that democracy can become tyranny by the ignorant, something he considered less likely to promote a “good life” than government by benevolent tyrants. I do not share Plato’s preference for benevolent tyranny since I am sceptical benevolent dictatorship is sustainable and can be structured to control the agency problems associated with such a model.

    That is the main reason that I believe intellectuals are making the wrong points. Their PR is wrong and they allow the Populists of this world to be controllled either by their own ego or by not too benevolent puppet masters. Our old frienf from Germany, Adolf H was an example of both and boy is he still remembered with fondness by the Germans…Hence moralist intellectuals (like the Baseline Boys) should figure out a way to engage with populism, not just feed it by turning up their noses. Government is too important to leave it to ignorants…

    The insight that Pres. Obama’s record, seen through the lens of economics based political science, shows that he acts in perfect opposition to his rhetoric (or something to that effect) is interestying and warrants further study. Maybe he is an enlightened populist, or a populist intellectual. I guess that is what many people expected, but maybe they did not expect what such a person would choose as policy, under circumstances not of his choosing. A bit like Lenin, perhaps?

  33. Not more efficient though. Is not efficient rent seeking an economics oxymoron? The insight that regulation tends to favor the regulated rather than the public or the non-incumbents, and the economics behind that, is pretty old. It got George Stigler the Nobel Prize in 1982. Add a little 1960s European neo-Marxism and presto!

  34. I suppose it is vital to understand where Elizabeth Warren stands in our system of stalemate government right now, if only to be able to help and support her after she finally gets to act after July 2011. But the real quest is how we define ourselves in this country of exclusionary political power growing more desperate each year.
    Given some of the arguments posted above, I thought it might help to start with some defining boundaries to our terms. I hope you all find this somewhat useful:

    DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY: (link to full article)
    (text quoted) Brief:
    “Deliberative democracy, also sometimes called discursive democracy, is a system of political decision-making that relies on popular consultation to make policy. In contrast to the traditional theory of democracy, in which voting is central, deliberative democracy theorists argue that legitimate lawmaking can arise only through public deliberation. It adopts elements of direct democracy and representative democracy.

    The term “deliberative democracy” was originally coined by Joseph M. Bessette, in “Deliberative Democracy: The Majority Principle in Republican Government,” in 1980, and he subsequently elaborated and defended the notion in “The Mild Voice of Reason” (1994). Others contributing to the notion of deliberative democracy include Jon Elster, Jürgen Habermas, David Held, Joshua Cohen, John Rawls, Amy Gutmann, John Dryzek, Rense Bos, James Fishkin, Dennis Thompson, Benny Hjern, Hal Koch, Seyla Benhabib, and Ethan Leib.”


    Political variants of participatory democracy include:

    * Anticipatory democracy
    * Consensus democracy
    * Deliberative democracy
    * Demarchy

    * Direct democracy
    * Grassroots democracy
    * Non-partisan democracy
    * Sociocracy

    Participatory democracy is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Etymological roots of democracy (Greek demos and kratos) imply that the people are in power and thus that all democracies are participatory. However, traditional representative democracy tends to limit citizen participation to voting, leaving actual governance to politicians.[citation needed]
    Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Because so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology may provide important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge. Effectively increasing the scale of participation, and translating small but effective participation groups into small world networks, are areas currently being studied


    Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy.[1]

    The representatives form an independent ruling body (for an election period) charged with the responsibility of acting in the people’s interest,….

    …Today, in liberal democracies, representatives are usually elected in multi-party elections that are free and fair. The power of representatives in a liberal democracy is usually curtailed by a constitution

    Now the way I see it:
    Given the manipulation of political influence and ignorance in the due course of history, neither of these processes can work alone. Given the constituent range of demographics, however, America could fairly well achieve a balance between all three of these assemblages of interests and influence at variable levels of integration. Given the tremendous disproportion of wealth and power being consolidated, however, it is more likely that the class structuring of a segmented control over economic resources is leading us into a radical and reactionary power structure where ownership society is “participatory” and “deliberative” selections are more akin to proxy votes establishing a parliamentary order of indirect”representation” which is uniquely formulated as a corporate assemblage. The average citizen is virtually left out of the “professional” practice of politics and the actual power structure and can access it only indirectly with money or legal entry credentials.

    This is a new form of interweaving patterns, and can not be directly compared to any single and autonomous model of the past. It is essentially a blending that is working itself out demographically and socioeconomically. There is a hybrid of middle class Americans who still exercise civil power and influence, but they are an inclusive grouping more or less and only sense a marginal threat to their own status in political influence and realities. While elections appear to be financed and coordinated under formal political party formations, the actual workings of coalition and consensus are more narrowly and progressively defined by internal negotiations, consignments and allegiances to path dependency consortium. It is not so much “insiders” and “outsiders” as much as it has become “us” and “them” ideologies of libertarian justification over justice.

  35. I hope your right Rien. Every time I’ve seen a clip of Elizabeth Warren, she is on the money the people’s best representative as anyone could get. I hope the rent seekers can’t bend and twist her progressive values, but we’ll just have to see. Pecora was the real deal. Maybe Warren too will have an unfailing light that can’t be snuffed out by Washington power games.

    Rent extraction doesn’t have to be efficient to be effective. It’s a continuous onslaught trying to tear apart, undermine common sense regulations. Power can bludgeon or it can be like getting attacked by thousands of mosquitoes that suck away your blood, your will.

    Does anyone know if her implementation team has to be approved by the Senate??

  36. Another version of the Huron Carol. This one with male and female voices. Very beautiful. (No kids goofing off at the end.) I like the images of the First Nations people.

  37. Micromanaging Nihilism is possible? I don’t think so.

    There are laws of physics in place that put limits on delusional “isms”.

    Human beings had absolutely no influence on managing the process of “evolution” that ended up with Spaceship Earth having an atmosphere that allows the PERFECT amount of sunlight to reach the earth to keep LIFE in a balanced self-sustaining act.

    Both the biological forces and the physical chemistry, if you will, forces will determine “survival of the fittest”. The herd instinct is hot-wired for “survival” – as we can see among the “elite” herd twisting and turning and becoming ever more incoherent to the “masses”….even the CEOs admitted to not understanding the “risk” math formulas that covered up the REAL math formula:

    More misery for others = more money for ME ME ME

    Without FIAT $$$, you could not have the above formula.

    So what political, PSYCHObable “ism” are we (including CEOs, no?) too stupid to comprehend.

    The ONLY role of government is to protect the individual against force and fraud.

    We the Stupid do not have representative government.

    We the Stupid do not have a free press that distributes LIFE-SUSTAINING news to the “herd” – go buy duct tape isn’t INFORMATION a free press would be channeling 24/7 in any NORMAL minded civilization.

    We the Stupid are without rule of law – completely. Every “renter” law has a recently added a one-liner stating that even though these are your rights, the Judge can rule against you anyway. All this yaddayadda theory micro-managing nihilism for “us” while sucking up ALL of labor’s fruits for “them” is DEVOID of any mention of what the larger herd of We the Stupid “believes” JUSTICE actually IS when survival of the fittest kicks in…”spontaneously”. They’re manufacturing their own bullets, I might add…seen that bullet-making myself in the garage of a Greek immigrant in AZ – especially after a SWAT Team, in order to justify their “budget”, gunned down a single drunk and drugged homeowner who could never have gotten off a shot first because he was so “medicated” – wonder how Liz is going to stop that kind of “force” on both sides of the “foreclosure” who-deserves-to-own-a-home crisis that the “Judge can rule against you” even though you ARE, clearly, the wronged party…”professional” financial hurt delivered in every court case by “activist” judges – you betcha!

    And We the Stupid do not have an army. “They” have “sold” USA military might – it’s a mercenary force, not a “force” protecting the INDIVIDUAL against force and fraud.

    And, of course, “We the Stupid” are too stupid to swallow the “isms” of writers no one has ever heard of – “fathers” who keep calling their kids stupid are always on the receiving end of the “fruits” of that kind of “love”.

    And I have accurately predicted the “Merry Christmas” schtick so I’m not going to bother responding to how lame that is this year – let’s hope Liz has enough common sense to avoid pushing that button of “herd” control…

    But I do like gifts – the cartoon on Page 110 of “The New Yorker – Cartoons of the Year” issue is proof-positive that “progress” happens everywhere at once.

    Humanity never had 7 Billion people loaded on to Spaceship Earth. Good luck micro-managing Nihilism with “political” theory that enshrines War Lords and Drug Lords as benevolent dictators who have been distributing FIAT $$$ only to the “strong men” in banana republics – those “strong” in the human species who will do anything for that $$$….

    “walking on the mines I’ve laid…”

    Merry Christmas!

  38. @ tippygolden press___Having spent my youth, and adult winters near the Canadian border in Vermont… I’ve grown ever so more in love with the majesty of nature, and its nuturing of my soul. The “Christmas Blessing” that the wintery season brings is unexplainable – thus within myself, it is only my telepathic aura that burst in exuberance, mystified at a loss for words of thy “Masters Gift’s on High”!
    Thankyou for the wonderful “Carol’s” ,tippygolden and to you and all our Northern friends a “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

    “Darwinism Apostle’s (Hold Thy Tongue)”

    “The more I hear the incessant drumbeat of empircal[?]evidence that which science postulates today – telling/preaching to me that we are but ameba’s of fossilized afterbirth having been reincarnated[?]in a petri dish of saline ponds – the faster I run too find religion…therefore resigning to live in a world without our creator”

    “God Bless the ‘Savation Army’ “:-))

  39. Scheesh, Mr. Woych, who are you hoping will be terrorized into silence with that article?

    You still don’t get it, do you? Once someone is completely 100% positive with a decades worth of evidence, at least, that the “government” is against “we the stupid”

    It activates a whole different chemical brew in the brain – a vaccine – that doesn’t get frozen with “fear”…the 2010 cartoon LAUGHS at the rack….

    It’s flee or fight – the “herd” instinct…

    Micro-managing Nihilism for a continued positive outcome for the psychotic global War Lords and Drug Lords is not the new mix of “democracy”…

    Hope someone from the FBI is paying attention – “they” stalked ONE person, only, to “de-construct” (STEAL) millions from their corporate laptop – it’s NOT your grandmother’s “insider trading”….

    That’s part of the mind game, – “the FBI is too stupid, they won’t figure it out”…

  40. OK earl,florida … I do recall George Bernard Shaw created a character called Major Barbara … Watched the Munk Debate between Christopher Hitchen and Tony Blair. I came out feeling CH had won. Christmas can be a beautiful time of year.

  41. My favorite example of this is the flag burning laws and proposed amendments. The flag, which in no small part symbolizes the Constitution, is more sacred then rights expressly set forth in the Constitution. All Hell breaks lose whenever an artist or protestor desecrates the flag, but when Constitutional rights are violated – eh, what’s the big deal?

  42. Okay, so the FACT that human beings had nothing whatsoever to do with the “process” of building Spaceship Earth so that it had the kind of atmosphere that would allow the PERFECT amount of sunlight to be filtered in to keep life self-sustaining…

    well, then what are you supposed to “think” about the human beings who spend tons of FIAT $$$$ on cherry-picking data that, if believed by the stupid masses, would result in DE-CONSTRUCTING the atmosphere in order to support the rent-seeking More misery for others = more money for ME ME ME?

    Any questions WHY some “tribes” in the olden civilizations lost their “science” superiority over time with that kind of “business model”?

    Now they’re all over the CENSUS data – it’s beyond stupid what kind of square pig with lipstick they’re making up from that data!

    Back to new-age “insider trading” – investigate the Flash Crash of May 6, 2010….it was a SINGLE sell order of a 1985 issued stock that unraveled the whole “derivative” formula set in place to dismantle the real equity that stock had gained for the holder and transfer it to the “secret” hedge hogs…unless of course, the FBI is working to help dismantle some hedge hogs at the request of other hedge hogs – another Martha Stewart moment – “steal her legit business” – she never made a contribution to the Republican Party – and the “press rack” was concocted to keep “we the stupid” from discussing the details of whether the war was going to be “cheap” and for whom was it going to be “cheap”…

    Yes, it’s a wonderful time of the year :-)

    Bottom of page 133….(2010 cartoons of the year)

  43. @ tippygolden press___”G B Shaw & Major Barbara” fasinating. As far as Blair is concerned – his words are choreographed from pure gibberish, period!

    “hypocracy seems innate in all
    an idealist nemesis
    as we all celebrate the ‘moral highground’ in our lifetime
    our quest searches inherently for eternal bliss
    a lifelong battle of addiction
    fraught with narcissism stumbling over the precipice of altruism
    only the advent of times past will align our ambivalence
    the storied history of ones symbiotic meaning to existence
    in the end we are all captured by the radius of consciousness”

    God Bless You…Julian Assange!

  44. Bob T. This is a great point. This disproportionate outrage of values is also present in our concern for Democracy around the world which we have actually dismantled in favor of despots and tyranny. It is also evidenced with wikileaks and free speech; public domain for information. Think Nuremberg Trials…there is no excuse for covering up secrets of atrocity and crime.

    If the Angel Gabriel was in charge at wikileaks, our own politicians and corporate leaders would be calling for assassination!

    One has to wonder what they would do to J.C. today?
    Perhaps Torture or Extraordinary Rendition?

  45. The article speaks for itself. You either stand for justice and rule by law or you are a fanatic of some degree of specialization and scope. It is one of kind that qualifies injustice not multiples. The pattern has been to breech law and order over seas in foreign lands outside of the borders of our constitution and then to bring that precedent home to our shores. Bradley Manning’s detention in isolation may well be the test case for torture and domestic terrorism within our borders…and the legitimation process will confirm a popular consensus of why this is correct and proper.

    Do you have ANY idea what you are talking about in the real world:

    Extrajudicial killing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    An extrajudicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. … – Similar
    Extrajudicial punishment – Wikipedia, the free …

    Most Latin American dictatorships have regularly instituted extrajudicial … – Similar
    STOP Extra-Judicial Killings in the Philippines

    Recent years have seen an extraordinary number of extra-judicial killings of political leaders and human rights defenders in the Philippines. … – Similar

    Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary …

    Albania can do more to eliminate blood feuds and domestic violence, says UN expert on extrajudicial killings 23 February 2010 … – Similar
    Extra Judicial Killing

    By Shahiduzzaman, Human Rights Day will be observed in Bangladesh, as elsewhere in the world, today with extrajudicial killing and torture going unabated … – Similar
    Target EJK & Enforced Disappearances

    Dec 16, 2010 … While only nine months in duration, this project aims to help combat extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances (EJK and ED) in the … – Similar

    Pakistan’s Army accused of extra-judicial killings | Reuters

    Apr 5, 2010 … WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pakistani army is facing fresh accusations of carrying out extra-judicial killings and torture, claims which … – Similar
    Gotabaya sanctioned extra-judicial killings by Paramilitaries …

    Dec 17, 2010 … The work referred to in the cable includes extra-judicial killings, extortion, abduction and prostitution by the Tamil paramilitary groups … – Similar

    and now WTF is the working phrase for the CIA not your grandmother’s inside trader…FBI club.

  46. “…On balance, I still think the CFPB and Elizabeth Warren are good for the middle class, for poor people, and for America. I don’t think we can just call it a clever chess move by our Insider overlords.”

    Think again? The old Bush trick of not trying to fight city hall, just don’t finance it seems to be in play by those slippery Insider overlords…even as we speak:

    Categories: Budget
    Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 12/21/2010
    Senate votes to defund health-care reform and financial regulation
    By Ezra Klein

    The Senate passed the Continuing Resolution 79-16 this afternoon. Another way of saying that: The Senate voted to defund the implementation of both health-care reform and financial-regulation reform.

  47. Consumer debt may actually be a very good grassroots issue now. With finance regulation it might make it easier to organize.Millions of people are being overcharged on interest rates.With the commission ,now might be a good time to see what works on a community level.Millions are getting overcharged billions.

  48. Annie, you take Mother Teresa’s life’s work out of context and then use it bludgeon others. Alleviating poverty in India, is a mission statement of a an Indian Government Agency. The essence of what Mother Teresa did was apply herself personally to the effort of caring for others, health needs. She is lionized because unlike the rest of us, especially commenter’s on this blog, she did’nt sit around in cozy suburbs writing snarky, cynical screeds, about what’s wrong, but got out there and just did it.

  49. These tainted “Slave Owners” are/were quite contrary to your stereotyped analysis. History’s empirical/actual facts pose a more salient argument…that is to say, left many a free slave wanting to stay with their prior owners – their lives at present weren’t all that bad.

    Possibly the most deluded piece of garbage iv’e ever read in the comments section. Please cite any scholarly historical account of slavery in America to support your argument…or is this just an poor attempt at parody?

  50. Mr Woych, We are on the same side, I think…?

    They were at it and at it and at it, and it could not be done – not with insults, burrowing in your own brand of idealogue into legislatures, throwing $$$ at it….it was intense…

    I don’t even have a gun, but I always stated a unique opinion FOR the population being an “army” – which means you have to be armed (and it’s too long to post here today – for as long as I could remember, the pre-emptive use of force was a passionate discussion re-visited by Grandpa’s fellow Polish Air Force buddies from WWII around holiday tables). You can imagine my surprise when brutal censorship was enforced BEFORE the invasion of Iraq and USA statesmen where rounded up and thrown off TV…

    By finding the “strong men” across the various cultures on Spaceship Earth – cultures ranging from Cave Men tribal councils headed by shamans to Dark Age tyranny to “high” Moon Walkers –

    the DETAILS of horror are the CONSEQUENCES of that selective eugenics both here in USA and across the world.

    There is no disagreement about how WRONG it all is

    when are we going to move to discussing the “pre-emptive” strike…?

  51. You are so right Annie, the last decade has corrupted the entire American Heritage and the pretense to being a moral leader in the world and the idea that we start wars to prevent wars is a diabolical corruption of thought process itself. My family is also of Polish heritage and the WWII atrocities were perpetrated AFTER the “WAR TO END ALL WARS” (WWI) had already scorched the earth with fire and blood and chemical nightmares.

    Full disclosure and total global awareness is the only route to a full scale stability. There are vicious people all over the earth and we need to set up systemic foundations that protect all the people of the earth whenever possible. But we also should not be so naive to think that our own system is pure and sanctimonious when the facts speak otherwise. I am proud to be American and I am proud of my heritage, but I will not follow the political leverage that tells me I must sell it all out in order to save it!!!!


    Stop the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning. Please add your name to our letter urging the Marine Commander in charge of Manning lift the unnecessary POI order.

    OPEN Letter from “” calling for human rights support for Private Bradley Manning:

    Bradley Manning spent his 23rd birthday on Friday completely isolated, just as he has every day for the last five months months in his cell at the Quantico Marine Base.

    Manning is the Marine Private accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. Since July, he has been held in cruel and inhumane conditions akin to how the US detains “enemy combatants.” He spends each day completely isolated, with severe restrictions placed on basic activities like sleep and exercise. Yet he has not been convicted of any crime.

    The extreme isolation in which Manning has spent every day of the last five months is soul-crushing. It’s already taking its toll: Bradley Manning’s physical and mental health are suffering, according to his attorney and friend who have seen him in prison.

    Bradley Manning deserves humane treatment while he awaits trial. Can you please add your name to our letter urging Commanding Officer of Quantico Marine Corp Base to lift the heavy restrictions of Manning’s detention?

    Bradley’s friend, David House, will deliver your letter to the Commanding Officer at the Quantico Marine Base brig when he visits Bradley next month.

    While Manning is held in “maximum custody,” the military’s most severe detention policy, he is also under a longstanding “Prevention of Injury” (POI) order that adds additional restrictions beyond those of other prisoners. While POI orders typically last a week or two, Manning has been held under a POI order for the entirety of his detention.

    A day in the life of Bradley Manning is isolating, lonely, and frustrating.

    * Manning stays in his cell for 23 hours a day
    * Guards must check on him every 5 minutes, and he must respond each time
    * He is not allowed to sleep between 5am and 8pm
    * Substantive exercise is not allowed beyond walking, potentially in chains
    * Communication with other people in the brig is banned, and he cannot write to people outside beyond the few a list approved by the brig commander; any unapproved letters he receives are destroyed.
    * He has not been allowed to read newspapers or watch international news during TV time
    * Comfortable sleep is impossible; he must surrender his clothes each night, has only a heavy “suicide blanket” akin to an x-ray vest, and guards must be able to see his face at all times.

    A psychologist has said Manning isn’t a danger to himself or others, and the POI order is unnecessary. His lawyer has also been unable to have the POI order lifted. But it is clear that Bradley Manning has been subjected to inhumane and unnecessary punishment without being convicted of a crime, and it must stop now.

    Stop the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning. Please add your name to our letter urging the Marine Commander in charge of Manning lift the unnecessary POI order.

    No matter what you think of Manning’s alleged acts, there is no reason to subject him to these extreme conditions. Thank you for standing up for human rights.

    – Michael Whitney

    Can you please add your name to our letter urging Commanding Officer of Quantico Marine Corp Base to lift the heavy restrictions of Manning’s detention?


  53. James, I find myself agreeing with you and Dr. Kling. (I hope that means I have a first-rate mind, in the sense of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s remark.)

  54. What this article signifies/reflects is that the heart and center of the system remains unchanged and will likely continue as such. All change is to the periphery.

    What we have populating our elected offices are politicians–more concerned about their respective party and the next election than the people. There are few–very very few–statesmen/stateswomen! There are few who are truly committed to facilitating efforts in support of the wellbeing of society.
    For more on this please see:

  55. Progressus: Very nice article and balanced in its call for critical thought based upon logic and reason rather than the marketed mass-culture narrative. I am relaying it to other friends. Krugman, however, is still part of variation and diversity ofthe narrative itself. I think there will be a wide range of perspectives and a more interdisciplinary perspective if we had many Americans creating a new synthesis based upon their experiences and evidence; supported by a continuity of critical evaluation for misinformation and rhetorical devices based on logical fallacies (appeals to authority; fallacies of distinctions; ad hominum appeals etc.).

    In regard to “narratives” I want to share a more radically distinct one that I have felt compelled to question. It is represented in this recent letter to the Washington Post journal group in regards to their ungoing project evaluating the “monitoring of America as a Domestic Intelligence Apparatus in the growing National Security State we are experiencing:

    This business of war game scenarios that are not designed to protect American citizens in mass as much as to suppress the population with a “crisis” driven (ambiguous and relatively undefined: completely open to interpretation) appears to be a physical extension of this secret policing state. It now appears that we first set up systemic enforcement and security methods in foreign and remote lands under covert operations and then insidiously bring them home as legitimate devices and apparatus against domestic and constitutional stability by civil society. The perimeter security (treaties) being quietly designed to envelope North America is the inverse and asymmetrical version of the peripheral boundary setting (missile) systemics that are being set up to encircle Russia and China in a dangerous model that feels all too close to the geopolitical militarization of the continents prior to World War I.

    Obama, who appears to act like a CIA executive asset with accompany group think in tow, did not have a domestic life here in his early years of enculturation. I have serious doubts about the “narrative” and even misinformation about his background despite being a staunch democratic supporter. His speeches now appear fabricated in retrospect, his actions completely defy the pure rhetoric of his communications.

    The Domestic Intelligence Apparatus has to be appreciated not just as an extension of the National Security State, but also as a more deeply historical extension of the apparatus left secreted in the shadow of the Cold War power operatives. Are we really so immune from our own secret intelligence community to believe that, like Russia and their KGB, they have no hand in the power dynamics of our political system? The assault on American political culture has been a sequence of succession planning and insults, and my own suspicions include all aspects of capture and positions including the Presidency itself over the last three to four decades (at least). Consider the list of changes to American ethical stances which include pre-emptive warfare; extra judicial killing (read: assassination squads); 6 covert war actions run simultaneously; mercenary private armies and outsourced privatizing of military operations (corporate and outside the law for the most part); neo-colonial “free market” profiteering and exploitation of underdeveloped countries (and calling them “emergent” to give it appeal) with concurrent policing and political crony leveraging that has given us the reputation of being the single most “DEMOCRATIC BUSTING” power in the global community. I am sure that you can extend this “foreign” policy list of “accomplishments” from the recent past.

    Doestically we have the “Bust-Out” and Looting of the Federal Reserve to finance the high crime strata of international finance and secure/fortify the upper classes against the stress and distress swarming and storming of our economy as the central power elements of this apparatus steal and seal their fortunes and futures. If you look at the way we have handled the outside world in terms of economy, politics and military policing you can not help but recognize that the very same exact thing is happening now to our domestic infrastructures and mid-range superstructures. It is all being reorganized under false premise one by one but also in mounting complexity. The first amendment assaults from corporate to crisis induced wiki-journalism suppression. The outright censorship of information in the federal sector level (a very huge president and core initiating facto for the test on and against the rest of us later on as it is expanded. Same holds true for the pension surrendering and salary stagnation imposed by Obama policy directives .Indefinite detention is about to break loose and we already do have cases of people disappearing that are less than legal, so this process opens the door for legitimating the “Manning” canning of American rights to due process. Obama is supposed to have been a “Constitutional” specialist at the U. of Chicago? Well look at the history and financing of those departments at the U. of Chicago and now look at his personal track record (lip service and zero action is the norm) in office. The list goes on…and on…and on…The American system of democratic liberty is being privatized and dismantled by pure manipulation, crisis machination, legitimation and capture. Misinformation and outright professional narratives and counter-narrative strategies are opaque and market forwarded from dissembled cognitive dissonance through sustained disbelief and denials to illusions under appeal to authority systemics of hierarchy and power scalar (“trickled down” ) to mass delusions, disenchantment and disillusionment; antagonized by financed ranting groups couched in righteous terms of patriotic favor and kindling a reactionary dissent that can only fuel the fires of more Unified Quest controls in our crisis orchestrated future.

    I am sure I have missed things in the inventory, but I trust from your reporting that you are more versed than I in these matters. I hope my perspective is perhaps an adjunct to your own and will suggest leads to a full spectrum frame of references that entangle this greater prospect (and historic emergence) of our American democracy. It is truly difficult to trust our system as it is developing and I fear there is more to fear than we can afford to leave to our children as authentic American tradition (eg: liberty and justice etc; for all).

    Bruce E. Woych
    cultural anthropologist
    Kingston, NY

    see also for your interests in analysis:


  56. Glad to hear the too big to fail and ridiculous taxpayer subsidies of GS, BOA and other mega buck
    outfits are still getting some push back.

    The biggest push back of all, IMO, is one I’m not hearing much about. These reckless, greedy clowns wrecked the financial systems of the US and Europe
    and shoved their liabilities onto the taxpayers. Our
    government and the govts of Europe can’t afford another bailout.

    So why are we not cutting these fools down to a size we can absorb when they blow themselves up again. As
    Jamie Dimon told Congress — we should expect meltdowns every 7 to 10 years. Who’s going to be able to afford to pay for the next one?

  57. Mother Theresa spoke of the real modern day trouble, which she sees as lonlieness not monetary poverty.
    It is my understanding from the teachings of Jesus on money that it clearly does not belong to us but to whoever created it.
    When the Fed prints/creates $2 trillion new dollars you are reminded who owns your precious dollars.

  58. @ nyongesa___Saw her in Amherst, Mass. – “Mother Teresa of Calcutta”

    “It is a very great poverty to decide that a child must die that you might live as you wish”

  59. @ nyongesa___America is, and never has been a petri dish incubating disenchantment – but a pragmatic and expiate nation that made right its injustice over the quickness of time. Whereas you speak of a caste system that adorns itself with eternal imprisonment! That is not America, period! You seem to forget that slavery doesn’t discriminate from the color of your skin – be not that of a myopic soul?
    I ask you? What is your genre of parody awash in – but a lacuna parochial dish basting in querulous quixotic? Yours :-) truly?
    Read a book,…

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