I assume everyone on this site is well enough informed that they don’t seriously contend that Dinosaur bones are “God’s Test of Faith” though some of their other beliefs seem to be…
Not reality based, shall we say.
Oh, the obligatories-
Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED)the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD. And I am highly organized and pay no attention to any restrictions or formats whatsoever, including my own.
This confounds my friends, enemies, and therapists (both amateur and professional), yet all must bow before Eddington–
The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. – Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
–Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
This Day in History
So this long weekend is the epitome of motor sports, particularly in relationship to cars fueled by petroleum, and I thought it a useful exercise to elucidate how this miracle chemical came to be.
Tracing Oil Reserves to Their Tiny Origins
By WILLIAM J. BROAD, The New York Times
Published: August 2, 2010
Today, a principal tenet of geology is that a vast majority of the world’s oil arose not from lumbering beasts on land but tiny organisms at sea. It holds that blizzards of microscopic life fell into the sunless depths over the ages, producing thick sediments that the planet’s inner heat eventually cooked into oil. It is estimated that 95 percent or more of global oil traces its genesis to the sea.
The secret of the oil story turned out to be understanding how the bygone oceans, ancient seas and smaller bodies of water produced complex environmental conditions that raised the prevalence of microscopic life and ensured its deep burial, producing what eventually became the earth’s main oil reservoirs.
The clues accumulated over more than a century and included discoveries from geology, chemistry and paleontology. An early indication was that petroleum discoveries were always associated with ancient beds of sedimentary rock – the kind that forms when debris rains down through water for ages and slowly grows into thick seabed layers.
A breakthrough came in the 1930s. Alfred E. Treibs, a German chemist, discovered that oil harbored the fossil remains of chlorophyll, the compound in plants that helps convert sunlight into chemical energy. The source appeared to be the tiny plants of ancient seas.
By the 1960s and 1970s, oil samples were producing many fossil molecules. One class, the hopanoids, were seen as representing the remains of ancient microbes that fed on seabed detritus. A 2009 book, “Echoes of Life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal About Earth History” (Oxford University Press), says geologists found so many fossil molecules, and in such variety, that they began using them as fingerprints to identify the family relationships among pockets of deep oil.
A separate breakthrough came as paleontologists peering at oil came to recognize a host of microfossils. Often smaller than grains of sand, the fossils nonetheless spoke volumes. Many were foraminifera, minuscule sea creatures with a bewildering array of shells. Oil geologists began using the foraminifera’s shifting appearance as a reliable guide to geologic dating.
As the clues fell into place, so did the big picture. It was the dominant view by the 1970s.
The process typically starts in warm seas ideal for the incubation of microscopic life. The sheer mass is hard to imagine. But scientists note that every drop of seawater contains more than a million tiny organisms.
Oil production begins when surface waters become so rich in microscopic life that the rain of debris outpaces decay on the seabed. The result is thickening accumulations of biologic sludge.
Oh, you expect music. Well, we were born, born to be wild.
I’ve recently retold this story in short form but after the Blue Shark (the car that School Busses and Hurricanes could not kill) and the $500 Mistake (oh, all my cars have names) I owned a Buick Century with a 454 4-Barrel that got 5 miles to the gallon.
Ah, but what miles they were.
In addition to my 110 mph test of Eire Boulevard light synchronization I took the I-690 exit at Seely Rd. and did a 1080 at about 90.
It was exciting.
While the car was rocking back and forth on its springs (in the middle of the ramp) I decided that particular corner should be taken at no more than 75.
We have chariots of fire in our hearts and wings in our heels
A Response to Michael Kinsley
By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
23 May 2014, 10:39 AM EDT 236
In 2006, Charlie Savage won the Pulitzer Prize for his series of articles in The Boston Globe exposing the Bush administration’s use of “signing statements” as a means of ignoring the law. In response to those revelations, Michael Kinsley-who has been kicking around Washington journalism for decades as the consummate establishment “liberal” insider-wrote a Washington Post op-ed defending the Bush practice (“nailing Bush simply for stating his views on a constitutional issue, without even asking whether those views are right or wrong, is wrong”) and mocking concerns over it as overblown (“Sneaky! . . . The Globe does not report what it thinks a president ought to do when called upon to enforce or obey a law he or she believes to be unconstitutional. It’s not an easy question”).
Far more notable was Kinsley’s suggestion that it was journalists themselves-not Bush-who might be the actual criminals, due both to their refusal to reveal their sources when ordered to do so and their willingness to publish information without the permission of the government.
This is the person whom Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, chose to review my book, No Place to Hide, about the NSA reporting we’ve done and the leaks of Edward Snowden: someone who has expressly suggested that journalists should be treated as criminals for publishing information the government does not want published. And, in a totally unpredictable development, Kinsley then used the opportunity to announce his contempt for me, for the NSA reporting I’ve done, and, in passing, for the book he was ostensibly reviewing.
Kinsley has actually done the book a great favor by providing a vivid example of so many of its central claims. For instance, I describe in the book the process whereby the government and its media defenders reflexively demonize the personality of anyone who brings unwanted disclosure so as to distract from and discredit the substance revelations; Kinsley dutifully tells Times readers that I “come across as so unpleasant” and that I’m a “self-righteous sourpuss” (yes, he actually wrote that). I also describe in the book how jingoistic media courtiers attack anyone who voices any fundamental critiques of American political culture; Kinsley spends much of his review deriding the notion that there could possibly be anything anti-democratic or oppressive about the United States of America.
But by far the most remarkable part of the review is that Kinsley-in the very newspaper that published Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers and then fought to the Supreme Court for the right to do so (and, though the review doesn’t mention it, also published some Snowden documents)-expressly argues that journalists should only publish that which the government permits them to, and that failure to obey these instructions should be a crime.
Let’s repeat that. The New York Times just published a review of No Place to Hide that expressly argues on the question of what should and should not get reported: “that decision must ultimately be made by the government.” Moreover, those who do that reporting against the government’s wishes are not journalists but “perpetrators,” and whether they should be imprisoned “is not a straightforward or easy question.”
Barry Eisler, Erik Wemple, and Kevin Gosztola all have excellent replies to all of that, laying bare just how extremist it is.
(E)ven the positive reviews of the book in the U.S. (such as from the Times’ book critic Michiko Kakutani) took grave offense to its last chapter, which argues that the U.S. media is too close and subservient to the U.S. government and its officials, over whom the press claims to exercise adversarial oversight. This condemnation of the U.S. media, argued even many of the positive reviewers, is unfair.
Do I need to continue to participate in the debate over whether many U.S. journalists are pitifully obeisant to the U.S. government? Did they not just resolve that debate for me? What better evidence can that argument find than multiple influential American journalists standing up and cheering while a fellow journalist is given space in The New York Times to argue that those who publish information against the government’s wishes are not only acting immorally but criminally?
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald – review
Philippe Sands, The Guardian
Friday 23 May 2014 02.30 EDT
This is the great importance of the astonishing revelations made by Snowden, as facilitated by Greenwald and Poitras, with help from various news media, including the Guardian. Not only does it confirm what many have suspected – that surveillance is happening – but it also makes clear that it’s happening on an almost unimaginably vast scale. One might have expected a certain targeting of individuals and groups, but we now know that data is hoovered up indisciminately. We have learned that over the last decade the NSA has collected records on every phone call made by every American (it gathers the who, what and when of the calls, known as metadata, but not the content), as well as email data. We have learned that this happens with the cooperation of the private sector, with all that implies for their future as consorts in global surveillance. We have learned, too, that the NSA reviews the contents of the emails and internet communications of people outside the US, and has tapped the phones of foreign leaders (such as German chancellor Angel Merkel), and that it works with foreign intelligence services (including Britain’s GCHQ), so as to be able to get around domestic legal difficulties. Our suspicions have been confirmed that the use of global surveillance is not limited to the “war on terror”, but is marshalled towards the diplomatic and even economic advantage of the US, a point Greenwald teases out using the PowerPoint materials relied on by the agencies themselves. Such actions have been made possible thanks to creative and dodgy interpretations of legislation (not least the Patriot Act implemented just after 9/11). These activities began under President Bush, and they have been taken forward by President Obama. It would be a generous understatement to refer to British “cooperation” in these matters, although Greenwald’s intended audience seems to be mostly in the US, and he goes light on the British until it comes to the treatment of his partner, David Miranda, who was detained in the UK under anti-terror legislation.
The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden’s fear of arrest, and perhaps also Greenwald’s, seems rather real). It is in the nature of government that information will be collected, and that some of it should remain confidential. “Privacy is a core condition of being a free person,” Greenwald rightly proclaims, allowing us a realm “where we can act, think, speak, write, experiment and choose how to be away from the judgmental eyes of others”.
Officials Cast Wide Net in Monitoring Occupy Protests
By COLIN MOYNIHAN, The New York Times
MAY 22, 2014
When the Occupy protests spread across the country three years ago, state and local law enforcement officials went on alert. In Milwaukee, officials reported that a group intended to sing holiday carols at “an undisclosed location of ‘high visibility.’ ” In Tennessee, an intelligence analyst sought information about whether groups concerned with animals, war, abortion or the Earth had been involved in protests.
The documents show that people connected to the centers shared information about individual activists or supporters, and kept track of those who speculated in social media postings that the centers had been involved when police departments used force to clear Occupy camps.
The report examined protesters’ “attitude towards retail,” suggested that business could be disrupted on the day after Thanksgiving and listed several “specific known threats.” They included credit card detractors equipped with scissors at malls and posters offering “help for people who want to put an end to mounting debt and extortionate interest rates with one simple cut” and a group of people who had declared on a website that they would “intentionally forgo the shopping frenzy.”
If you have done nothing you have nothing to fear.
Why Geithner drives liberals nuts
By: Ben White, Politico
May 23, 2014 05:02 AM EDT
“It felt like you took the arsonists off the plane and then you got them a massage and a steak dinner,” “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart said to Geithner this week. And that neatly sums up the quasi-official “Case Against Tim Geithner” often invoked by the left – the persistent feeling among progressives and ardent financial reformers that the former Treasury secretary and New York Federal Reserve chair sides more with big bankers than average Americans, a frustration that has resurfaced during Geithner’s media tour to promote his new book, “Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises.”
Many progressives argue that Geithner focused with absolute moral certainty on the need to bail out profligate banks to save the economy but balked at every chance to do anything punitive to bankers. He wouldn’t rip Wall Street bonuses publicly even when the White House asked him to, a nugget Geithner himself reveals in his book. He wouldn’t block huge payouts to executives at bailed out insurer AIG. He wouldn’t force out executives or board members or use the same kind of creative and overwhelming force to rescue homeowners that he did to rescue financial giants. And he didn’t do enough to prevent the crisis while at the New York Fed.
This is no mere relitigation of history: The same tensions between progressive and more business-friendly Democrats that Geithner’s tenure helped expose are already simmering ahead of the 2016 presidential race. And dissatisfaction with the bailout and its aftermath is often cited for possible low Democratic turnout in the 2014 midterms.
The outcome of these debates over how to handle Wall Street will help shape the balance of power within the Democratic Party for years to come.
“The fallout from that period will play a role in 2014, but the real impact will come in 2016 when the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton or whoever else, will have to make some serious judgments on the Obama years,” said Mike Konczal of the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute. “People will have to make a call about whether Obama and his administration, including Geithner, did enough to reform Wall Street and boost the economy or should have done much more in very different ways.”
The year of living more dangerously: Obama’s drone speech was a sham
Andrea J Prasow, Human Rights Watch, The Guatdian
Friday 23 May 2014 07.15 EDT
Targeted killings have been a hallmark of this administration’s counterterrorism strategy. Obama sharply increased the use of armed drones (begun under George W Bush), which have conducted lethal strikes against alleged terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The strikes have killed hundreds of people, including civilians, and some have clearly violated international law. Yet the US government has long refused to disclose basic information about the program, from its full legal basis to how it identifies targets.
In his NDU speech, Obama noted that he had just declassified information about three strikes in Yemen and Pakistan that killed four US citizens “to facilitate transparency and debate on this issue and to dismiss some of the more outlandish claims that have been made.” But the legal memos detailing alleged authority for those strikes remain secret. Only when pressed politically this month – key senators threatened to delay the vote on his appeals court nominee, David Barron, until they received copies of secret drone memos Barron wrote – did the Justice Department make two of a reported 11 memos available to senators (but not to members of the House of Representatives or the public). As soon as procedural hurdles for Barron’s nomination were lifted, the Justice Department took back the memos, showing – and not for the first time – that the administration will increase transparency only under threat.
Obama’s speech a year ago offered real promise. In the 12 months since, the US could have disclosed the full legal basis for targeted killings, allowing the public to engage in an informed debate about whether and under what circumstances the US may use lethal force away from the battlefield . It could have implemented a new drone policy that would have sharply reduced civilian loss of life and provided compensation for those families harmed by US strikes. Obama could have closed Guantánamo not by simply moving it elsewhere but by bringing US policy in line with the basic principle that people who have not been charged with crimes should not be imprisoned – and that those who are charged deserve fair trials.
CIA secrecy over detention program threatens 9/11 prosecutions, senators warned Obama
By William Douglas and Ali Watkins, McClatchy
May 22, 2014
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Intelligence Committee, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., head of the Armed Services Committee, sought the president’s help in getting information declassified about the CIA’s so-called harsh interrogation techniques and stressed the need for transparency on a program that essentially had ended in 2006 and that Obama formally killed when he took office in 2009.
The two senators blamed the CIA’s obsession with hiding the details of the program for the logjammed military commission process that has yet to try any of the alleged 9/11 conspirators, some of whom have been in custody for nearly a dozen years.
The committee’s highly critical conclusions _ including allegations that interrogators exceeded their legal authority and that little useful intelligence information was gleaned through it _ are included in a 6,300-page report that the Senate Intelligence Committee completed in 2012 and voted to declassify in April.
But the report remains secret, despite Obama’s insistence that he favors its disclosure. The CIA recently told a federal court in Washington that it needed months more to vet it before deciding which portions can be made public.
Goldman’s Cohn takes on Washington to defend commodities
By Anna Louie Sussman and Lauren Tara LaCapra, Reuters
Fri May 23, 2014 7:39am EDT
Cohn, Goldman’s No. 2 executive, met this month with lawmakers including Brown as well as U.S. Federal Reserve officials to explain why a Wall Street bank’s presence in the commodities market is actually good for Main Street.
The meetings with lawmakers and the Fed, which haven’t been previously reported, show how hard Goldman is fighting to hang on to its commodities business.
“For more than 30 years, we have been helping our clients manage commodity and other risks and we believe that experience has given us an important perspective on the policy debate under way today,” Goldman said in a statement.
“The real victor in the mass exodus of the major banks from commodity trading will likely be Goldman Sachs,” Bernstein Research analyst Brad Hintz said in a recent report.
Some rivals expect Goldman to feel compelled to exit physical commodities trading. To be sure, Goldman’s ability to stay in commodities trading was grandfathered into the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
One senior Wall Street executive whose firm has decided to exit those businesses said it would not be fair to banks that have gotten out in anticipation of new Fed regulations. If Goldman is successful in its push to remain in physical commodities, rivals will see it as proof that the bank – known for its history of senior executives moving to roles in policy and regulation – still enjoys a cozy relationship with the government, the executive said.
“Sen. Brown is open to hearing the viewpoints of stakeholders affected by legislation before the Banking Committee,” said spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak, in an email. “He hopes that even people he disagrees with will find him knowledgeable, accessible, and open to argument. But anyone the least bit familiar with him knows that he has the same message to all audiences – banks should stick to banking.”
Study Shows US Government’s Drone Killing Strategy Is Having Zero Impact On Al-Qaeda Attack Numbers
by Tim Cushing, TechDirt
Pakistani Troops Seize Miram Shah. Does That Remove Drone Strike Justification?
By Jim White, emptywheel
Four Reasons USA Freedumber is Worse than the Status Quo
I think I should explain (not that I ever need to explain anything) my ‘rules’ of attribution for blogs. If it’s eponymous you don’t get a redundant reference, see below.
Guantanamo Prisoners Cleared for Release Continue to Be Punished for Being Yemeni
By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake
Widespread Signs of Credit Market Froth
by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism
Pre-distribution or redistribution? The Piketty moment, the Democrats, and the oncoming elections
By L. Randall Wray, New Economic Perpectives
Credit Suisse’s Guilty Plea: The WSJ Uses the Right Adjective to Modify the Wrong Noun
By William K. Black, New Economic Perpectives
The Evening Blues – 5-23-14
by joe shikspack, Daily Kos
Feces meets fan in Rochester
by rserven, Daily Kos
I had a Whole Diary
by LaEscapee, Daily Kos
I understand you feel my contempt for you is zapping you through the photons of your screen. Good. That means I’m being an effective communicator,
You don’t get me at all, do you?