Sunday, December 21, 2014

Zero Hedge — China Tests Nuclear ICBMs, US Analyst Warns "Arms Control Is Failing To Increase American Security"


China beefing up and hardening its nuclear deterrent, too. Calls are coming for the US to follow suit.

Zero Hedge
China Tests Nuclear ICBMs, US Analyst Warns "Arms Control Is Failing To Increase American Security"
Tyler Durden

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dadan Upadhyay — US “troubled” over slew of deals during Putin-Modi summit


Prime Minister Narendra Modi fearlessly stiffs the US.

RT — Russia’s military doctrine remains ‘solely defensive’ – Putin


Russia is hardening its defenses and extending them, and beefing up its nuclear deterrent.

RT
Russia’s military doctrine remains ‘solely defensive’ – Putin

Paul McHale — Key to defeating ISIS is ideas, not arms

There is a military term of art that has deep significance in our fight against ISIS. It captures the idea that there is an identifiable source of enemy power that, if successfully attacked, will lead to our enemy's strategic defeat. That enemy strength (and potential vulnerability) is called their "center of gravity."
This is called "winning the hearts and minds of the people." It's why the US was ignominiously defeated in Vietnam by North Vietnamese Viet Cong General Vo Nguyen Giap, who first defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, driving France from Indochina and resulting in communist North and "free" South Vietnam. I was an officer in the US Naval Reserve on active duty 1964-1967 at which time I read the work of French journalist Bernard Fall describing what had happened. After reading Fall, I realized that the US would fall into the same trap and it did, although it took a decade more to unfold with untold destruction on both sides.

However, "winning the hearts and minds of the people" is not just a strategy. The people actually have to be convinced that they matter, and, of course, they didn't. They were just pawns in the great game that really didn't have that much to do with the Vietnamese people at all.
In my judgment, ISIS can be contained and then destroyed, but that goal will not be achieved by brute military power. ISIS' center of gravity exists far beyond the battlefield. It exists in the hearts, minds and aspirations of the young men and women who are drawn to the cause of violent Islamic extremism. Killing ISIS fighters at the front end of the combatant pipeline has value - but closing the pipeline of ISIS recruiting is the real center of gravity.
Right. ISIS is even a greater threat than Al Qaeda since it has declared the Caliphate as a rallying point for the reestablishment of a Sunni state in MENA under Islamic law. This has the potential for going viral among radicalized Sunni youth in the Islamic countries, as well as other countries. This is an extremely powerful idea and countering with another idea that more powerful is much easier said that done.
Throughout U.S. history, our men and women in uniform have fought and died for a noble cause: the unwavering defense of individual freedom. They understood - often when our politicians did not - that there was something at stake that transcended self-interest. Yes, to be effective, military forces need to be well-trained and equipped. And they need to be well-led. But most important, they need to believe that they are fighting for something worthy of their blood and sacrifice.…
This is the mindset I had when I entered the US military. I was disabused of it while in the military and came to realize that I was being betrayed by this line of propaganda to motivate the troops. The idea that the US was fighting for individual liberty in a far away place like Vietnam, which had little to do with the national interest was simply not believable on reflection, and on inspection it became obvious that this was not about freedom, ours or theirs, but about empire and those who control it.

McClatchyDC
Key to defeating ISIS is ideas, not arms
Paul McHale, The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 15, 2014
Paul McHale is a former member of Congress (1993-99), assistant secretary of defense (2003-09) and a retired Marine colonel with 33 years of active and reserve service.
Unfortunately, he is also clueless. He is taking about convincing Islamic youth to adopt American values, when these value are clearly against everything in which they believe. It's like trying to convince Christian fundamentalists to accept liberal values like abortion on demand and same sex marriage because indivdual freedom.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/12/15/250019_key-to-defeating-isis-is-ideas.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy


Alex Lantier — Imperialism and the Ruble Crisis. “Economic Warfare”

The plunge of the Russian currency this week is the drastic outcome of policies implemented by the major imperialist powers to force Russia to submit to American and European imperialism’s neo-colonial restructuring of Eurasia. Punishing the Putin regime’s interference with their plans for regime change in countries such as Ukraine and Syria, the NATO powers are financially strangling Russia.
If this were to succeed and the Putin administration be replace by Western-friendly neoliberal oligarchs, the alarm to go to general quarters would sound in China, since NATO would soon be on its wester border, with the Seventh Fleet on its eastern border. They would it interpret it as the US making its move before China gets so strong as to be impervious to attack. 

Then the clandestine war with China would begin to effect regime change to China by fomenting a color revolution there, which could also involve economic warfare to isolate China from the global economy. Dispensing with Russia and China as adversaries would then open the way to closing the trap of neoliberal globalization under Western transnational economic interests that control Western governments through oligarchy "democracy." 

This is the US geopolitical and geostrategic dream. What could go wrong?

Global Research
Imperialism and the Ruble Crisis. “Economic Warfare”
Alex Lantier

Noah Smith — Should theories be testable?

I don't see why we should insist that any theory be testable. After all, most of the things people are doing in math departments aren't testable, and no one complains about those, do they? I don't see why it should matter if people are doing math in a math department, a physics department, or an econ department.

I think testability starts to matter when you start thinking about applying theories to the real world. This is why I get annoyed when people ignore the evidence in business cycle theory, but not when they do it in pure theory.

Suppose you're studying the properties of repeated games. Who cares if those games represent anything that really exists today?…
 
But when you start making models that claim to be about some specific real thing (e.g. monetary policy), you're implying that you think those models should be applied. And then, it seems important to me to have some connection to real data, to tell if the theory is a good one to use, or a crappy one to use. That's testability.

Anyway, this sort of seems very college-freshman-dorm-discussion-level when I write it out like this, but I think there are a surprising number of people who don't seem to agree with it...
Exactly.

Science is not a thing but an activity. It's what scientists do. There are three major areas in doing science: 1) theoretical science (aka pure science) focusing chiefly on formalization, 2) experimental science, heavily involving design of experiments, and 3) applied science, e.g., engineering and technology, medicine, policy science, which apply general principles to specific conditions. These are separate fields, notably physics, where theoretical physics is advanced math, and experimental and applied physics are about not only formal knowledge but also practical skill. The three fields require development and use of different knowledge and skills. All are essential the scientific enterprise that results not only in expansion of the knowledge base but also in technological innovation.

What is so difficult to understand about this?

Noahpinion
Should theories be testable?
Noah Smith | Assistant Professor of Finance, Stony Brook University

Cory Hoffman — The Collapse of the Russian Ruble Does Not Undermine the Central Premise of Modern Chartalism (MMT)

The collapse of the demand for the Ruble in the face of falling oil prices concretely confirms the central premise of modern monetary theory; that the real constraint on a state’s ability to move real resources are its productive capacity and its ability to put its resources into motion. 
That is to say that the basic equation is that, in both the short run and “the long run”, public expenditure is constrained by the real resources and real productive capacity of a given macroeconomy.…
Overlapping Consensus
The Collapse of the Russian Ruble Does Not Undermine the Central Premise of Modern Chartalism (MMT)
Cory Hoffman

The Saker — Oh how much they hate and fear Russia and Putin

A person like [Strobe] Talbott is very much "plugging in" the US deep state and if he says that next year there will be an insurgency in Chechnia, we can be darn sure that the US will try to create one.
The Vineyard of the Saker
Oh how much they hate and fear Russia and Putin
Vineyardsaker

Lord Keynes — Huerta de Soto gets it Wrong on the Gold Standard

In short, the idea that under the gold standard the industrial nations “generated the greatest increase in prosperity in history” at any time before or since is untrue, and is nothing but a libertarian myth.
Social Democracy For The 21St Century: A Post Keynesian Perspective
Huerta de Soto gets it Wrong on the Gold Standard
Lord Keynes

Brian Romanchuk — Monetary Impotence And The Triumph Of The Fiscal Theory Of The Price Level

There has been an ongoing debate about how monetary policy interacts with the zero bound on interest rates. Paul Krugman has recently posted an article,"The Simple Analytics of Monetary Impotence (Wonkish)", in which he gives a simplified Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model which he says demonstrates something about monetary policy when at the zero bound. When I look at the model, it appears that there are internal contradictions to his suggested solution. Instead, it appears that the model solution is determined by the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level (FTPL). When it comes to DSGE models, it appears that all roads lead to the FTPL….
Bond Economics
Monetary Impotence And The Triumph Of The Fiscal Theory Of The Price Level [wonkish]
Brian Romanchuk


Keiser Report: Ruble’s Baptism by Fire


Published on Dec 20, 2014

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert are joined by Liam Halligan of BNE.eu. They talk rubles, sanctions and diversifying the economy with some technology investments. In the second half, Max interviews Konstantin Gurdgiev about the ruble, the Russian budget and David Cameron’s take on the causes and consequences of the crisis and sanctions. They also discuss the ruble’s ‘baptism by fire’ as it only just joined the five trillion dollar per day forex markets.

The Reservoir Capacitor


A reservoir capacitor can be used in electronic design to provide a smoothed voltage waveform to a load that requires a constant source voltage.

Here is a basic schematic diagram of a circuit employing a shunted reservoir capacitor with the source on the left and the load on the right; the source here is alternating or non-constant, and the load requires provision of a constant voltage; hence, we employ a capacitor to maintain the constant voltage required by the load during the times where the source is alternating to the negative state.


We could make an analogy here, from electronics to the non-material field of economics where we have a "load"; or in our economic systems, a citizenry that requires constant provision for subsistence and well-being; and a "source" of that provision that is often non-constant due to many earthly factors both "naturally" occurring and sometimes "man-made".

It matters not the causes of these frequent interruptions of the source.  In electrical design, we can plan for them and design accordingly.

Here is a picture of a large implementation of these shunted reservoir capacitors that are used here to provide improvement in the source performance to a large distribution area in times of variable main source functioning and variable loading requirements (short article here):



To quantify the performance of this type of implementation, we can refer to these basic mathematical equations and the time domain graphic illustration of the how the voltage supplied to the load will vary like this:


What we are left with is instead of a widely varying source voltage, a near constant source voltage that still varies slightly within a much smaller amplitude that is termed here a 'ripple voltage'.  

We often have to supply loads within what is termed a "tolerance" or "plus or minus x volts"; a small variation in voltage that is deemed "tolerable" to the load.

This ripple voltage is unavoidable as we of mankind are not in authority over the physical properties of the dialectric materials inside the capacitors, we only get to choose what dielectric material to use, and we only get to choose the size of the capacitors we employ.

Even so, we can do whatever we have to do within these real constraints we have been placed under in order to deliver the most stable source to the load in these situations.  We can increase the capacitance by using larger capacitors or even narrow the deltaT by using full wave rectifiers in an effort to provide the most stable source voltage to the load as is humanly possible.

"Whatever it takes..."

Perhaps at this point we can now make another analogy from the materialist here in electrical theory, over to the non-material field of economics.

First, we have to realize that unlike in our material systems implementations, we have to realize that we of mankind have complete authority over our non-material economic systems.

Complete authority... its like "we can dictate dielectric properties..." in electrical theory and electrical material system implementations.

In our economic systems, when we accept an economic outcome that is akin to this 'ripple voltage' introduced above, and our "load" within mankind has to be forced to accept even a slightly non-constant source, we have to realize that, even though this variation may seem "small" on a relative basis to the amplitude of the main source voltage, we have to realize that literally millions of our fellow members of mankind are getting fucked over royally in socio-economic injustice.

If we had authority over dielectric materials, not only would Elon Musk be elated and have $ signs rolling all around in his eyeballs, but be assured that we would be using this authority to provide the most stable source to the load in our material system implementations.

But alas we don't have such authority in these material implementations, so we have to make due with the choices and trade-offs we are left with.  But, NOT SO in our non-material economic systems, we don't choose we get to dictate.  We don't have to tolerate, we can dictate a zero-tolerance.

In a hypothetical situation where perhaps there was some sort of mission critical load that needed to be supplied with the most stable source voltage, rest assured that a team of designers would go to work to come up with the most stable source possible to meet requirements.

This design team would go to work to collapse the "ripple voltage" to meet the tolerances that the load required.

What are the morons in charge of our economic systems doing?

What are they doing?

These human pieces of garbage, these disgraced morons, these second-rate human pieces of shit DENY that we of mankind have authority over our non-materialist economic systems.  They absolutely deny this in every work that they do every day.

And instead look at our non-materialist economic systems as though they were material systems over which we have no authority, and are forced to "tolerate" economic outcomes that are often severely unfavorable to millions of our fellow members of mankind.

We have to figure out a way to move these people aside.


The Saker — Is that not the hight of stupidity and self-delusion?

Listening to Obama's speech about Cuba I was stunned by the following statements:
After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach. (...) I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result. Moreover, it does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. Even if that worked -– and it hasn’t for 50 years –- we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos.
You get that? Obama admits that 50 years of sanctions and attempts to isolate a small island right off the coast of Florida has not worked. And then he announces that he will impose more sanctions on Russia, the biggest country on the planet, and that he will isolate Russia, even though Russia now has full access to the biggest economy on the planet?! 
Is that not the height of stupidity and self-delusion?
The Vineyard of the Saker
Is that not the hight of stupidity and self-delusion?
Vineyardsaker

John Hellevig — Paul Krugman's Notes on Russia Debt Are Upside Down

In his recent opinion piece in The New York Times – Notes on Russian Debt - Paul Krugman admitted that he had difficulties in understanding the Russian debt situation. Nevertheless, he gave it a try. But failed. Let’s see how.
Russia Insider
Paul Krugman's Notes on Russia Debt Are Upside Down
John Hellevig | managing partner of Awara Group

Friday, December 19, 2014

George Ellis and Joe Silk — Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics


Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science, argue George Ellis and Joe Silk.

Nature
Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics
George Ellis, professor emeritus of applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Joe Silk, professor of physics at the Paris Institute of Astrophysics, France, and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
ht Steve Keen retweeting Noah Smith

The World's Biggest Car Company Wants to Get Rid of Gasoline


'Tis the season to be jolly...  ho! ho! ho!

Up yours OPEC!


Meredith Whitney’s Hedge Fund Said to Be in Turmoil

Well, she had a damn good run on one call--Citigroup--which supposedly wasn't even her call to begin with, but her boss's call when she was an analyst at Oppenheimer.

Since then she predicted 100's of municipal defaults (municipalities did phenomenal and muni bonds soared), she said the 2009 fiscal stimulus was a "mish mash" and wouldn't work; she supposedly advised John Paulson (maybe to buy gold?), then she closed down her advisory, now her hedge fund is failing...

Oh boy.

Perhaps she can go back to being a contributor for Fox.

Here's the Bloomberg story.

Too bad this is not Schiff.

The Fed spends $100 million on research...

That's more than double what I spend, too!

Different strokes for different folks...


"...when the taxes fell short, I gave out money from my patrimony." -  Augustus, c. 14

Now differently:

"We are looking to get the best price we can for the taxpayer," - U.S. Central Bank, c. 2011


We have to get rid of our current govt morons and back to the point where our govt people are willing to instead "take a loss for the taxpayer".


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leslie H. Gelb — Countering the Neocon Comeback


Uh-oh.

Democracy — A Journal of Ideas
Countering the Neocon Comeback
Leslie H. Gelb | President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

Peter Radford — Economic Realism


Epic rant or brilliant takedown. Utopian economists will opt for the former. I opt for the latter.
Lars Syll seems to have started a perpetual conversation when he posted a comment about Tony Lawson’s longstanding complaints about realism in economics. I don’t want to get dragged into what appears to be an endless, and pointless, debate … but.
The Radford Free Press
Economic RealismPeter Radford

Basic MMT distinctions between monetary and fiscal policy.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Central banks can sometimes generate higher inflation
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia

See also

WCEG — The Equitablog
I Hate Those Blurred Lines! Monetary Policy and Fiscal Policy: Daily Focus
Brad DeLong

And here is another basic MMT post from Bill today, elaborating on the above link.

The following is a response to John Quiggin, MMT and Russia, requested by Cameron Murray in a comment there.

Friday lay day – public spending is not necessarily matched by tax revenue in the long-run
MMT provides an organising framework for understanding the possibilities available to a currency-issuing government and the limitations that a currency-using government (such as a Member State of the Eurozone) faces. It allows us to understand in a deeply-grained way, the relationships between the treasury and the central bank and the relationship between the government sector in aggregate and the non-government sector. 
No ‘Keynesian’ literature up until the 1990s (or beyond for that matter) provides the level of granularity that the MMT literature that we have developed over the last 20 years provides.…
A common misconception seen in the derivative literature on MMT (which is dominated these days by blogs, social media pages and tweets) seems to think that MMT says that currency-issuing governments are omnipotent and can solve any crisis just by spending. None of the main proponents of MMT over the last 2 decades has ever made statements to justify such a view.…
A nation with limited real resources has limited prospects for material welfare. That is the fact. The constraint is real and the infinite financial capacity the government might have in its own currency cannot alter that.
Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) provides no further understanding than that in these sorts of cases.…

How To Get Economists Off The Back Of Humanity? Develop A More "Informable" Electorate.

(Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)






Sanjeev, from India, writes: "How do we get [India CB Head] RR off our backs?"

Well, the root cause of every addiction lies in the user base. So start by sending this article - and my commentary - to every department head of every university department in the world, and to their Deans too. Seriously.
It's obvious that economists aren't paying much attention to the obvious ...
... (even now, not just for the past 200 years, or even all the way back to before Alexander the Great & Hannibal formally glorified the dynamic power of organization; not that it hadn't been documented before, for those with the wit & experience to discern it).

Plus, send it to the equivalent of your Military Officer & Troop Training institutions. Ask them what it'd be like if citizens arrived to military service already understanding teamwork. Doh!

Quite seriously. One obvious suggestion would be to formally fuse Econ-101, Biology-101, Ecology-101, Sociology-101, Ethics-101 and Governance-101 as a start, so that no member of any those professions could again be so grievously ignorant of so much of our expanding and evolving context.

Maybe Accounting-101 and Banking-101 too, so people wouldn't forget what THOSE professions are for.

A minimal step back towards the rudiments of a Broad Education?

What could be more obvious?

Here's what: If our future citizens don't learn this expanded perspective on human culture by ~age 10, we're dooming ourselves to be far less than we could be. We can't stay in an Adaptive Race without going back to our own basics, and maintaining a more "informable" electorate.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dante – The Curse on Those Who Do Nothing in the Face of Evil

This was a quote used by John F. Kennedy and then augmented by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is adapted from Dante.

“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”  

The actual passage from Dante here:

Here sighs and lamentations and loud cries 
were echoing across the starless air, 
so that, as soon as I [Dante] set out, I wept.
Strange utterances, horrible pronouncements, 
accents of anger, words of suffering, 
and voice shrill and faints, and beating hands -
All went to make a tumult that will whirl 
forever through that turbid, timeless air, 
like sand that eddies when a whirlwind swirls.
And I - my head oppressed by horror - said: 
"Master [Virgil], what is it that I hear? Who are 
those people so defeated by their pain?"
And he to me: "This miserable way 
is taken by the sorry souls of those 
who lived without disgrace and without praise.
They now commingle with the coward angels, 
the company of those who were not rebels 
nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened, 
have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them - 
even the wicked cannot glory in them."
And I: "What is it, master, that oppresses 
these souls, compelling them to wail so loud?" 
He answered: "I shall tell you in few words.
Those who are here can place no hope in death, 
and their blind life is so abject that they 
are envious of every other fate.
The world will let no fame of theirs endure; 
both justice and compassion must disdain them; 
let us not talk of them, but look and pass."
And I, looking more closely, saw a banner 
that, as it wheeled about, raced on - so quick 
that any respite seemed unsuited to it.
Behind that banner trailed so long a file 
of people - I should never have believed 
that death could have unmade so many souls.
After I had identified a few, 
I saw and recognized the shade of him 
who made, through cowardice, the great refusal.
At once I understood with certainty: 
this company constrained the cowardly, 
hateful to God and to His enemies.
These wretched ones, who never were alive, 
went naked and were stung again, again 
by horseflies and by wasps that circled them.
The insects streaked their faces with their blood, 
which, mingled with their tears, fell at their feet, 
where it was gathered up by sickening worms.

We must keep fighting, even if we go down defeated!!

Peter Cooper — Why Do We Accept Fiat Currency?

Most people have probably wondered, at one time or another, why national currencies gain wide acceptance. Why, for instance, do so many Americans choose to hold and transact in dollars rather than some other currency?...
Heteconomist
Why Do We Accept Fiat Currency?
Peter Cooper

Randy Wray — What’s Wrong with Heterodox Economics Journals?

I just came across a very interesting bit of research, A Guide to Paradigmatic Self-Marginalization: Lessons for Post-Keynesian Economists by Leonhard Dobusch and Jakob Kapeller; you can find it here
I realize this is not going to be of interest to many of our readers, as it is a sort of “inside the halls of academia” analysis. What the authors do is to look at the strategies of editors running the top orthodox and the top heterodox journals in economics. Actually it might be a bit unfair to label these strategies, as the authors do not mean to imply that editorial policy knowingly pursues the strategies. Instead, the article looks at the ex post results. 
In a nutshell, what they find is that the articles published in orthodox journals do not cite the research published in heterodox journals. NO SURPRISE THERE! But they also find some startling self-defeating practices pursued by heterodox journals....
New Economic Perspecives
What’s Wrong with Heterodox Economics Journals?
L. Randall Wray | Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, University of Missouri–Kansas City

Economists Finally Admit Their Whole Discipline Is >200 Years Behind The Times

   (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)



Economists admit "humans are .. a social species with interaction patterns that shape their behaviors."
Well duh! Talk about what is obvious to everyone else!

Where have these people been since the Renaissance & Reformation? Since Wallace & Darwin and their countless predecessors in ecology and biology, chemistry, biology, geology and physics?

Clearly social species appear to be at least 130 million years old (and are undoubtedly far older as old as physical autocatalysis itself) .. and they've just now finally been acknowledged by the economics field?
That is the most sweepingly damning condemnation of the economics field ever heard on planet earth.
Weepin' Buddha on a decline! That's a pathetic admission by economists, but at least they finally admit it, and that they've blithely ignored the near totality of other human knowledge for hundreds of years, and actually for far longer.

Teamwork works? THAT is a revelation to economists?

Adaptive impact of dynamic assets far outweighs impact of static assets? Be still my beating heart!

Someone should have informed Alexander the Great and later Hannibal that organization pays off ... in time to make a difference to those practitioners of that truly ancient art. :(

What's next? Will economists come right out and renounce Divine Right?

Admittedly ...


Yet I do hope that the economics discipline can survive it's former self. Then maybe we could survive them, and ourselves too.






Tuesday, December 16, 2014

RT — Slumping ruble should push Russia to ‘live in new reality’ – Bank chief

The plunging ruble is a signal for the Russian economy to adapt to new conditions, Russia’s Central Bank Chair Elvira Nabiullina said, following the surprise midnight decision to hike the key interest rate to 17 percent.… 
“We must learn to live in a new reality, to focus more on our own resources to finance projects and give import substitution a chance,” the bank chief said in a televised address Tuesday.… 
Nabiullina said that the Central Bank has special tools not to restrict development and growth within Russia, citing finance of investment projects, and small and medium-sized business and commodity exports as target industries.
RT
Slumping ruble should push Russia to ‘live in new reality’ – Bank chief

Warwick Smith — Why the federal budget is not like a household budget


MMT in Oz.

The Conversation
Why the federal budget is not like a household budget
Warwick Smith | Research economist at University of Melbourne
h/t Steve Keen

digby — President Obama's greatest torture mistake


This may be Obama's biggest mistake, bar none. It's colossal and will reverberate through time, affecting America as deeply as the moral rot of slavery Native American genocide whose aftermath festers are the heart of the culture and remains an indictment of "American exceptionalism" globally. It's hypocritical to say, "That's no who we really are,"without self-correction.
Here's something I didn't know, from Jane Mayer's piece this week in the New Yorker:
There was a way to address the matter that might have avoided much of the partisan trivialization. In a White House meeting in early 2009, Greg Craig, President Obama’s White House Counsel, recommended the formation of an independent commission. Nearly every adviser in the room endorsed the idea, including such national-security hawks as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and the President’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director at the time, also supported it. Obama, however, said that he didn’t want to seem to be taking punitive measures against his predecessor, apparently because he still hoped to reach bipartisan agreement on issues such as closing Guantánamo.
What was he thinking?
We can't know what was going through his mind. But if this is true, it was one of his biggest errors in judgement. We are now living in a country that endorses torture and, at best, sees it as a political issue. And the world knows that if the US Government continues to use it, the people will back it. That has made us far more vulnerable and far less safe. We are an extremely powerful rogue nation that openly says we don't care about the rule of law or international norms of behavior.…
Back in the day people used to rhetorically ask: "Why do they hate us?" and people would either shrug their shoulders or sputter about how we are misunderstood. Today if someone asks the question, the ready answer is: Because the US is a barbaric superpower that will stop at nothing, not even torture. I can't argue against that.

Hillary Clinton thinks our problem as a culture is that we don't tell the good stories about ourselves anymore. Since more than half the people in this country are torture advocates, I'm not sure how you make any case for our "goodness" anymore. Good luck with trying to paper this over.
Hullabaloo
President Obama's greatest torture mistake
digby