Sunday, September 21, 2014

Scott Kaufman — Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince says his mercenaries could have stopped ISIS if not for Obama

At the Maverick PAC’s annual conference Friday night, Blackwater founder and former CEO Erik Prince said it was “a shame the [Obama] administration crushed my old business,” which could have easily defeated the Islamic State, The Daily Beast reports.
Blackwater, Prince said, “could’ve solved the boots-on-the-ground issue. We could have had contracts from people that want to get there as contractors. You don’t have the arguments of U.S. active duty going back in there.”
His mercenaries “could have gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”…
He encouraged conference attendees to pressure their Republican representatives to fight for conservative values. “I want you to tell your congressman that we pay them to fight,” Prince said.
Out thugs are better than their thugs.

The Raw Story
Former Blackwater CEO says his mercenaries could have stopped ISIS if not for Obama
Scott Kaufman

Paul R. Pillar — Neocons Grow Frantic over Iran Progress

With an agreement on constraining Iran’s nuclear program within reach, Official Washington’s neocons are getting apoplectic about the need to rev up new animosities toward Iran, an approach not helpful to real U.S. security needs, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.
Neocons Grow Frantic over Iran Progress
Paul R. Pillar | former CIA analyst and currently a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies

Joe Conason — Americans' Faulty Memory: Polls Show Majority Like GOP's Discredited War Policies

If the latest polls are accurate, most voters believe that Republican politicians deserve greater trust on matters of national security. At a moment when Americans feel threatened by rising terrorist movements and authoritarian regimes, that finding is politically salient -- and proves that amnesia is the most durable affliction of our democracy.
Stumbling toward war in Dumbfuckistan.

Americans' Faulty Memory: Polls Show Majority Like GOP's Discredited War Policies
Joe Conason

Peter Dorman — Why Paul Krugman Is Wrong about the Cost of Climate Protection, and Why it Matters

Who’s right, those who think that economic growth can’t coexist with protection of the climate, or Paul Krugman who says “saving the planet would be cheap and maybe even come free”? Alas, neither, but for different reasons.…
Why Paul Krugman Is Wrong about the Cost of Climate Protection, and Why it Matters
Peter Dorman, Professor of Political Economy, The Evergreen State College

Chris Dillow — Capitalism & The Low-Paid

Is capitalism compatible with decent living standards for the worst off*? This old Marxian question is outside the Overton window, but it's the one raised by Ed Miliband's promise to raise the minimum wage to £8 by 2020.…
Stumbling and Mumbling
Chris Dillow | Investors Chronicle

Heidi Moore — Brad DeLong, Tyler Cowen, Stephanie Kelton and Emanuel Derman on Why is Thomas Piketty's 700-page book a bestseller?

Thomas Piketty is a French economist whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century has swept American discourse. Four experts – Brad DeLong, Tyler Cowen, Stephanie Kelton and Emanuel Derman – take on why that is.
Heidi Moore

Lars P. Syll — The loanable funds fallacy

Keynes and Minksy answer Krugman and Mankiw.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
The loanable funds fallacy
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

Saturday, September 20, 2014

AFP — Mikhail Khodorkovsky breaks political silence, saying he would lead Russia

The plot thickens. The West definitely wants regime change back to the pro-Western oligarchs and oligarchic "democracy." Grooming a replacement for Putin.
The former oil tycoon and adversary of president Vladimir Putin has launched a pro-European political platform from exile.
The former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail after challenging the Kremlin, says he would be ready to lead Russia if called upon.
Khodorkovsky’s statement, at the launch of an online movement called Open Russia, appears to break his promise to steer clear of politics, which he made after being pardoned by president Vladimir Putin in December.

“I would not be interested in the idea of becoming president of Russia at a time when the country would be developing normally,” he was quoted as saying by Le Monde newspaper.

“But if it appeared necessary to overcome the crisis and to carry out constitutional reform, the essence of which would be to redistribute presidential powers in favour of the judiciary, parliament and civil society, then I would be ready to take on this part of the task.”
Open Russia is intended to unite pro-European Russians in a bid to challenge Putin’s grip on power.…
The Guardian
Agence France-Presse

Saker — Ukraine SITREP September 20, 23:34 UTC/Zulu: War or Peace?

Long but useful if you are following this.

The Vineyard of the Saker
Ukraine SITREP September 20, 23:34 UTC/Zulu: War or Peace?

Jesse — Upton Sinclair: The Brass Check Jesse

Nice Upton Sinclair quote. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Or as the Vietnamese say, "The dungheap remains the same, only the flies change."

Jesse's Café Américain
Upton Sinclair: The Brass Check

And remit to us our debts, as we also remit those of our debtors...

Title here a quote from Mat 6.  The excerpt is from what is often termed "The Lord's Prayer", this verse and the surrounding verses of this popular prayer which contains economic metaphor provided here:

"Thus, then, you be praying: 'Our Father Who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name.
 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, on earth also.
 Our bread, our dole, be giving us today.
 And remit to us our debts, as we also remit those of our debtors.
And mayest Thou not be bringing us into trial, but rescue us from the wicked one.'" Mat 6:9-13

The Lord is advising (whoever He is talking to) to pray to God that He (God) would be paying them back, as if God owes them a debt.

Apostle Paul further explains how the concept of a debt is related to wages:  "Now to the worker, the wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as a debt." ( Romans 4:4)

So the overall scheme that the Lord advises whoever He is talking to, is to pray for a remittance of  a debt and perhaps wages.

The wage is reckoned as a debt, and the Lord is telling, again whoever he is talking to in Mat 6, to be praying that God would be paying them back for what either that they are owed, or, what they think they are owed, just like they would pay back those whom they may be owing a debt (or wages).

The Lord uses the metaphor of wages often; here is one of many uses of the concept of wages he uses:  "And whenever you may be praying, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they are fond of standing in the synagogues and at the corners of the squares to be praying, so that they may appear to men. Verily, I am saying to you, They are collecting their wages!"  Mat 6:5

We perhaps can equate whoever the Lord is talking to here to the people who we see today advocating for a Job Guarantee, as in the JG, the recipient earns wages.

I would also lump in the people who have the view of "money is debt" into this same cohort of mankind, perhaps we can call them the 'wages and debt' cohort.

With these people, its all about "wages and debt".

Contrast this with the advocates of a universal income or basic income guaranty, a scheme under which those receiving it would not be earning wages or being paid a debt, but rather would be receiving rations, which are opposite wages and not associated with debt schemes, but perhaps rather in the context of slavery and warfare.

Paul uses the metaphor of rations a few times:

"For the ration of Sin is death" Romans 6:23 [Ed: Sin is provisioned by death... which we have NO control over...]

"Who is warring at any time supplying his own rations?" 1 Cor 9:7

"Other ecclesias I despoil, getting rations for dispensing to you." 2 Cor

Paul discusses wages here:

"If anyone's work will be remaining which he builds on it, he will get wages.
If anyone's work shall be burned up, he will forfeit it, yet he shall be saved, yet thus, as through fire."
1 Cor 3: 14-15

There is a dichotomy here between a scheme of debt and wages versus a scheme of rations.

The people who are on the side of the JG are associating with the people the Lord advised to pray that God would be paying them back a debt or wages; while the people who are on the side of a universal income I would say are not.

We can see this same division within mankind identified within the context of the Greek Scriptures from 2,000 years ago continuing to be present within the debates we are having today about a JG vs. a UI.

It seems to break down along the lines of 'wages and debt' vs. 'rations'.

ITAR-TASS — Ukrainian minister’s statement about Russian nuclear strike on Lugansk absurd - DM

The Russian Defence Ministry on Saturday flatly denied the Ukrainian military chief’s allegations about the use of tactical nuclear weapons at Lugansk’s airport in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian media earlier in the day quoted Geletei as telling one of the journalists that the Russian army had delivered two tactical nuclear strikes on the Lugansk airport from a self-propelled Tyulpan 2S4 mortar system, thus causing the Ukrainian troops to leave the area.
“The strikes were so powerful that they demolished buildings completely from top to bottom,” media reports quoted him as saying.

JW Mason — Why Not Just Mail Out Checks?

A friend writes: 
Let's suppose that the United States could get a Universal Basic Income, but it had to trade a bunch of stuff for it. What would be important to keep after a UBI? 
Obviously, various income support could right out the door (food stamps, unemployment insurance). But would we be willing to trade labor regulations (minimum wage, union laws)? Public schools? Medicare? Curious as to your thoughts.
This sort of choice comes up all the time these days. Of course in practice it's a false choice: They take our parks and public insurance, and never send out those UBI checks. 
Or occasionally, as in New York, they give us our universal pre-K and parks and bike lanes, and we don't have to give up our meager income-support checks to get them. 
Still, it's an interesting question. How should we answer it?
The Slack Wire
Why Not Just Mail Out Checks?
JW Mason | Assistant Professor of Economics, John Jay College, City University of New York

Lorenzo Del Savio and Matteo Mameli — Machiavelli and Oligarchic Democracy

Machiavelli wrote that when we are trying to understand politics and the history of human societies, much can be explained in terms of the eternal conflict between two fundamental desires. One is the desire of the grandi - that is, the super-rich and the super-powerful - to protect their wealth and power, and to accumulate more wealth and power. The other is the desire of ordinary citizens - that is, anyone who is not super-rich or super-powerful - to live in peace and freedom without being subjected to the predatory activities of the grandi. As stressed by John McCormick, Machiavelli thought that the predatory tendencies of oligarchs were the gravest threat to the liberty and well-being of ordinary people.
Machiavelli and Oligarchic DemocracyLorenzo Del Savio and Matteo Mameli, Truthout | Op-Ed

Richard D. Wolff — Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises

Global capitalism has huge problems coping with the second worst collapse in its history. Its extreme and deepening inequalities have provoked millions to question and challenge capitalism. Yet socialists of all sorts now find it more difficult than ever to make effective criticisms and offer alternatives that inspire. 
Part of the problem lies with classic socialism as it evolved over the last 150 years. Positions and strategies that once mobilized the victims and critics of capitalism are no longer, by themselves, effective. Not only has capitalism changed, but its celebrants also developed powerful critiques of socialist theory and especially of actually existing socialisms such as the Soviet Union (USSR). Socialism has not responded well to capitalism's changes nor to its critiques; it has not made the necessary strategic and tactical shifts. Nonetheless, socialism retains the means to overcome its problems with some long-overdue self-criticism and innovation.…
Socialism and Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises
Richard D. Wolff | Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City

Stephen Rosenfeld — Federal Appeals Court Ridicules Florida Cops For Using SWAT Team To Check On Barbershop Licenses

“It was a scene right out of a Hollywood movie,” the Court’s ruling began. “Teams from the OCSO [Orange County Sheriff’s Office] descended... with some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants—and demanded to see their barbers’ licenses. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office was providing muscle for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s [DBPR] administrative inspection of barbershops to discover licensing violations.” 
The Cout’s 44-page ruling, which will allow four barbers to proceed with a lawsuit that the cops violated their Fourth Amendment protection from unconstitutional searches, vividly describes how a team of local and state police ran amok—and then claimed immunity from prosecution, which the Court rejected, when the raid’s victims sued. 
Notably, the ruling didn’t even talk about the blatant constitutional violations first, but instead snidely asked if the cops involved were complete idiots who thought they were so far above the law that they could ignore previous multiple rulings from the very same Court ordering cops not to conduct militarized SWAT raids as a routine tactic….
Federal Appeals Court Ridicules Florida Cops For Using SWAT Team To Check On Barbershop Licenses
Stephen Rosenfeld

Heather Cox Richardson — How the GOP stopped caring about you

How did the progressive Republican Party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Eisenhower become the reactionary party of Ronald Reagan, the tea party and Paul Ryan?
There is nothing random about these ideological shifts. They reflect the party’s — and the nation’s — central unresolved problem: the tension between equality of opportunity and protection of private property.
This tension has driven American politics since the nation’s earliest days.…
The Washington Post | Opinion
How the GOP stopped caring about you
Heather Cox Richardson | Professor of History, Boston College

Steve Randy Waldman — The political economy of a universal basic income

Debate is hotting up. SRW disagrees with Max Sawicky and agrees with Ed Dolan.
I think that UBI — defined precisely as a periodic transfers of identical fixed dollar amounts to all citizens of the polity — is by far the most probable and politically achievable among policies that might effectively address problems of inequality, socioeconomic fragmentation, and economic stagnation. It is not uniquely good policy. If trust in government competence and probity was stronger than it is in today’s America, there are other policies I can imagine that might be as good or better. But trust in government competence and probity is not strong, and if I am honest, I think the mistrust is merited. 
UBI is the least “statist”, most neoliberal means possible of addressing socioeconomic fragmentation. It distributes only abstract purchasing power; it cedes all regulation of real resources to individuals and markets. It deprives the state even of power to make decisions about to whom purchasing power should be transferred — reflective, again, of a neoliberal mistrust of the state — insisting on a dumb, simple, facially fair rule.…
Like the excellent Ed Dolan, I favor a basic income large enough to matter but not sufficient for most people to live comfortably. The right way to understand a basic income as a matter of economics, and to frame it as a matter of politics, is this: A basic income serves to increase the ability of workers to negotiate higher wages and better working conditions. Market labor is always “optional” in a sense, but the option to refuse or quit a job is extremely costly for many people. A basic income would reduce that cost. People whose “BATNA” is starvation negotiate labor contracts from a very weak position. With a basic income somewhere between $500 and $1000 per month, it becomes possible for many workers to hold off on bad deals in order to search or haggle for a better ones. The primary economic function of a basic income in the near term would not be to replace work, but to increase the bargaining power of low income workers as a class. A basic income is the neoliberal alternative to unionization — inferior in some respects (workers remain atomized), superior in others (individuals have more control over the terms that they negotiate) — but much more feasible going forward, in my opinion.Interfluidity
The political economy of a universal basic income
Steve Randy Waldman

Yes! — America Keeps People Poor On Purpose: A Timeline of Choices We've Made to Increase Inequality

Yes! Magazine
America Keeps People Poor On Purpose: A Timeline of Choices We've Made to Increase Inequality

Stephanie Kelton — The Economy: Does More Government Help or Hurt (video)

The Economy: Does More Government Help or Hurt - Stephanie Kelton

Friday, September 19, 2014

David Brendel — How Philosophy Makes You a Better Leader

The goal of most executive coaching and leadership development is behavior change—help the individual identify and change the behaviors that are getting in the way of, and reinforce the behaviors associated with, effective leadership. But what about the beliefs and values that drive behavior? 
The benefits of introspection and reflection on one’s own character and beliefs receive less attention in a typical coaching session than the benefits of behavior change. Perhaps this is not surprising in our fast-paced and technology-driven business world, where there is little time to stop and think, and where people want (and are paying for) immediate outcomes. Despite growing recognition of the benefits of “mindfulness” activities (such as yoga and meditation) and an introverted style, self-reflection on philosophical issues—such as values, character virtues, and wisdom—is relatively neglected. Executive coaching and leadership development programs rarely include much, if anything, about the power of clarifying one’s philosophical world-view. But there is mounting evidence that they should. 
Neuroscience research on self-reflection supports this notion.…
How reflection makes you a better person.

"the life which is unexamined is not worth living." Socrates, in Plato's Apology, 38a

Harvard Business Review — HBR Blog Network
How Philosophy Makes You a Better Leader
David Brendel

JW Mason — Piketty and the Money View: A Reply to MisterMR

More Piketty
The last post got some very helpful comments from MisterMR (the regular commenter formerly known as Random lurker) and Kevin Donoghue. Both of them raise issues that are worth posts of their own. I'll reply to MisterMR now….
The Slack Wire
Piketty and the Money View: A Reply to MisterMR
JW Mason | Assistant Professor of Economics, John Jay College, City University of New York

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Matt Bruenig — Who Were the Officially Poor in 2013?

Demos — Policy Shop
Who Were the Officially Poor in 2013?
Matt Bruenig

"You do know how to be a whistleblower, don't you JJ Sixpack?"

(Commentary posted by Roger Erickson)

"You do know how to be a whistleblower, don't you JJ Sixpack? You just put your wits together and blow ... that whistle."

Is there Justice at Justice? [Obama protecting National Security & Homeland by Criminalizing Those Who Dare Practice Our 1st Amendment]
There are those daring to whistle.

@Thomas_Drake1 @JohnKiriakou @JamesRisen @djhask

Because they have a conscience, and are standing up for us, and our Constitution.

John Helmer — European Court Of Justice Introduces The Anti-Rasmussen Rule — Sanctions Cannot Be Imposed By Reason Of Fabrication, Lies, Disinformation

In a judgement issued in Luxembourg on Thursday, September 18, the court ruled that the European Union(EU) cannot lawfully introduce sanctions against states, corporations, state organizations, or individuals without stating reasons which can be substantiated in evidence to a standard of proof tested in court....
In October 2012, the EU banned transactions with Iranian banks and financial institutions, as well as the import, purchase and transportation of natural gas from Iran, the construction of oil tankers for Iran, and the flagging and classification of Iranian tankers and cargo vessels. 
After the sanctions campaign commenced, Bank Mellat went to court in the UK and the EU Court of Justice, challenging the allegation that it was connected to Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. The bank commenced litigating in London in November 2009. Almost five years later, in June of this year, Bank Mellat won a ruling from the UK Supreme Court, the final court of appeal, rejecting the basis in evidence for the sanctions imposed on the bank. This followed a similar condemnation by the European Court, issued in January 2013. That story, and the two court judgements, can be read here. 
“Mere allegations” were inadmissible to support sanctions, the two courts have ruled....
This week, the Central Bank of Iran won a separate lawsuit against the EU. The new ruling can be read here.
Dancing with Bears
European Court Of Justice Introduces The Anti-Rasmussen Rule — Sanctions Cannot Be Imposed By Reason Of Fabrication, Lies, Disinformation
John Helmer

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Joe Romm — Biology Major Bobby Jindal Pleads Ignorance On Evolution And Climate Science

Inconvenient truth. Jindal caught out by Howard Fineman.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he can’t be expected to know about climate science because he is “not a scientist.” Same for Florida Governor Rick Scott (R), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), and Sen.Marco Rubio (R-FL). 
But what happens when a highly educated guy who did study science in college wants to run for national office in a party that increasingly stands against facts and science? In the case of Louisiana Governor and perennial presidential wannabee Bobby Jindal (R), you act dumb and make tortuous statements. 
How dumb? 
At a breakfast organized by The Christian Monitor, Jindal was introduced as a biology major, Rhodes Scholar, and former President of the University of Louisiana System. Naturally, at one point HuffPost’s Howard Fineman said, “I want to ask a couple of science questions.” 
Jindal cluelessly fails to see what’s coming and excitedly interjects “I’m a biology major.” Fineman is happy to repeat that point and, of course, then asks him a bunch of obvious science questions, including whether he accepts evolution. 
So Jindal now feels compelled to explain, “I was not an evolutionary biologist.” Yeah, Jindal apparently got one of those Biology degrees from Brown University (with honors at the age of 20!) that doesn’t require learning about evolution — the central organizing principle of modern biology.
Climate Progress
Biology Major Bobby Jindal Pleads Ignorance On Evolution And Climate Science
Joe Romm

Darrell M. West — Global Billionaires Political Power Index

Darrell West's Global Billionaires Political Power Index is a ranking of the top global billionaires in terms of overall political power. There are a number of existing rankings that rate the net worth of billionaires, but no one has assessed their overall political influence globally or in particular countries around the world. Kings, queens, dictators, or authoritarian heads of state were not considered because of the difficulty of ascertaining their wealth. Gauging wealth is impossible in some places even though it is suspected that certain leaders are billionaires. Families of government leaders who have gained extensive wealth were also left out because it is hard to gauge their specific holdings. 
In his forthcoming Brookings Institution Press book, Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust, Darrell West examines the political use of great wealth, including campaign expenditures, activism through nonprofit organizations and foundations, holding public office, media ownership, policy thought leadership, and behind the scenes influence.

Reuters — Japan government cuts economic view, warns of stalling consumption

Japan's government cut its overall economic assessment for the first time in five months as private consumption is struggling to recover from the slump caused by April's sales tax hike, clouding the outlook for a sustained recovery.
The government on Friday cut its view on private consumption, which accounts for about 60 percent of the economy, saying that consumer spending is seen pausing although a pick-up trend remains intact.
The assessment followed a run of weak indicators, including falling household spending, which raised doubt about the strength of an expected bounce in the current quarter - a crucial factor for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision in December on whether to proceed with a second tax rise next year.
Just like we said, and just like last time a tax hike was tried.

And did austerity help the yen?


Should stimulate their export market though and give some foreign firms heartburn.

Japan government cuts economic view, warns of stalling consumption

Paul Carr — Chris Christie lies yet again. Tells press conference that Sirota was fired by Pando over inaccuracies

I thought we’d already put this to bed, but apparently not. Speaking in a press conference today, New Jersey governor Chris Christie responded to the continuing scandal over his handling of New Jersey pension funds by adding yet another lie to his long, long record of untruths.
Asked once again about the scandal, he responded that David Sirota, the journalist who broke the story while at Pando, was fired for inaccuracy. He also called David a “discredited journalist” and a “hack.”
As I’ve written before, but apparently need to do once again, David Sirota wasn’t “fired” for anything. Rather he was laid off during our recent restructuring of our editorial team, allowing us to refocus on our core beat of holding to account the “new power” tech moguls and companies taking over the world. David was quickly snapped up by IBT which continues to publish his excellent investigations into financial corruption in all its forms.
As Christie is well aware, not only does Pando stand by David’s reporting but we continue to cover any legal expenses he incurs as a result of Christie’s cronies threatening to sue over our coverage. To date, despite attempts to silence us with threats of multi-hundred-million dollar lawsuits, no such suit has been filed.
Pando Daily