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Must read interview with Snowden by Bamford.

Addendum: Another reason why NPR will never get a dime from me. Dina Temple-Raston continues her Judith Miller-esque swallowing of the Deep State line. DTR presents talking points about Snowden from a completely CIA- and NSA-funded front company as though they were independent viewpoints, with no acknowledgement, or alternative source.


It was very pleasant driving around Utah [1]. As you drive from CA to NV to AZ to UT, the speed limits keep increasing, kinda like this:


Mostly, it seems like the speed limits increasingly reflect reality as one drives north, like waking from the (very different) dream worlds of CA (cool sunshine) and NV (neon lights) and into the hard light of Utah (crazy AM talk radio and country-pop music). Increasing distances between NPR and LTE.

After you clear the I-15/215 merge above Rancho Cucamonga [2] into HST territory, traffic is largely going 80 anyway, and lots of times creeping to 90. Straight roads, visibility for miles, not a lot of traffic, especially after Vegas, why not?

The only danger is being a victim of revenue enhancement. The speeds don’t change, the highways don’t change, the cars don’t change, the drivers don’t change. The laws do, and inversely, the size of the ticket you’re going to get, which seems the only limiting factor. If the laws don’t reflect the way drivers vote with their feet, then everyone is a criminal.

People drive as fast as they feel safe, no matter the limit, and 80 from RC to SLC seems pretty safe. The Utah speed limit is just marking to market.

Coming home – devolution. The graphic in reverse. The speeds don’t change, but the anxiety level does.

[1] Except for that time I was driving a rental car and basically got pulled over have Jersey plates. No ticket though, so I guess – win? Cops are like doctors – the best you can hope for in any interaction is to come out the same as you went in.

[2] Best said in a Bugs Bunny voice.

The next question

Once again, the failure of the MSM in general, and NPR in particular, in the simplest sense of not asking the next question. The obvious question.

NPR is running a series on what one might find out about someone if they eavesdropped on them. Like, say, the NSA has been doing to the whole world. So one of their reporters has let someone else monitor his communications with similar tools – except he gets to unplug them if he's doing something embarrassing – I don't remember getting that option from the NSA.

At the end, there's this:

[Carrie Cordero] says because I am a U.S. citizen, the only way the intelligence community could collect my data is with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as FISA. From the beginning of the Snowden affair, the NSA has insisted that all of this collection has been done from within a pre-existing legal framework. Roughly, it works this way:

If you're living abroad and you're not a citizen of the United States, the NSA has a great deal of freedom to try to collect and analyze your data. If you're doing business with a U.S. company or using a U.S.-based service, any kind of bulk collection program has to be approved by the U.S. attorney general. If you're in the U.S. or are a U.S. citizen, no matter where you are in the world, this kind of collection is supposed to be subject to a FISA court order.

But it stops there. It doesn't mention that basically the FISA court basically never turns down a request from the NSA. And doesn't mention that even the toothless FISA court has threatened to sanction the NSA for ignoring the toothless procedures that are in place. And that basically the Obama and Bush administration have set up programs that completely circumvent the FISA court. And that there is no adversarial process, so it's not really a legal proceeding in the Perry Mason sense (Law and Order? Perry Mason is getting a bit stale – I don't think even I ever saw the first run of one of those, just reruns).

NPR just leaves it there, as though the FISA court was some protection of your rights. When your only protection is that probably the NSA is not interested in you. But that's a sad way to live your life, hoping that you never become interesting enough to be interested in. And it seems like you've already lost if that's how you're moving through life.

But the NSA isn't really designed to prevent anything. It's a Cardinal Richelieu machine, designed to find the six lines it can use to hang you.


Wrong company

So Evil Megacorp bought a robotics company.

Clearly I’m not a mega-evil-genius (though I’m open to offers), but it seems to me that scary robots are something that pretty much anyone with a few million dollars can build. Patents are expired, the field is open to anyone. Boston Dynamics built some cool tech, but people have been doing that for at least two decades now [1].

But powering those robots? It’s the same problem everyone’s got. Chemistry only gives you so much power in a limited space. Batteries are heavy. Energy distribution systems are set up to deliver electricity and fossil fuels. Hydrogen costs more to make than it delivers – plus it blows up real good. And has a horrible carbon footprint. Physics has better energy density, but RTGs are low power, expensive, hard to make, and bring whole nother set of problems. Anytime you start packing lots of energy in a small space, the propensity to go boom (even if it’s other people stealing your materials to make things go boom) increases [2].

You have to make a better battery. That doesn’t blow up if it’s looked at funny. Better living through better chemistry. Well for robots anyway.

Figure out a better battery and you’ll own the world. Otherwise in the upcoming dystopian skynet future, those robots are going to be scattered metallic and CF carcasses, plundered for their copper and rare earths.

Plus then the iPhone battery would last more than a day. Which I’m sure will be important when I’m trying to hide from the aerial robotic autonomous drones. Wait. We already have those.

[1] and by “people”, I mean people paid by Your Government. Like rocket science, the internet, medicine, computers, and roads, this stuff only gets done if the government (“you”) pays for the unprofitable research for decades until it becomes profitable for the brilliant tycoons to adopt it wholesale and take credit for going the last mile.

Which is as it should be. It just bothers me that those same BTs are so often conservative or libertarian and would happily broast the golden goose, or at least donate campaign contributions to those building the fires. Not unlike the unemployed woman I heard on NPR yesterday who’s upset that her unemployment benefits are coming to an end. Yes, she’s a Republican. Always has been, always will be. Why do you ask?

[2] Gasoline turns out to be a pretty awesome energy source. Aside from the whole ruining the world by heating it up thing. One wonders what happens on a world that evolves intelligent life, but doesn’t go through the whole fossil-fuel-forming geologic eras, snowball earths, mass extinctions,etc. (IANAG). If you only had wood fuels, would you build an internet?

Missed it by this much…

NSA didn’t interdict the communications of the Nairobi mall terrorists, despite their Twittering.

Defund them. Scatter their ashes to the wind. Their productive operations are illegal, and their legal operations are unproductive.

Our corporate masters reassure us

A plane crashes. Our corporate masters have the story ready, waiting to go.

Do you think that NPR wrote that story this morning? No, they had it in the can. Suggested and aided by someone at Boeing. Nothing at all to do with a pledge drive.

Message to the plebes: keep flying! Else our stock price will go down.


I like to sign other people up to play the NPR Sunday Puzzle on air.

It hasn’t happened yet, but imagine their surprise when they get the phone call.

In other news, sun rises in east

So Chana Joffe-Walt has discovered that, if you work backbreaking menial jobs all your life, and have little to no education [1], it's likely that when that backbreaking job actually breaks your back [2], you will not have the education to go get a desk job. Furthermore, in large parts of the country, especially the rural parts, there simply are no desk jobs.

Chana Joffe-Walt is shocked, shocked, by this! The whole hour-long episode is basically her revelation that much of the country relies on hard physical labor to get by! And that physical labor is hard! That the whole transformation of the economy from manufacturing and farm labor to service and tech has left those are either not suited or unable to get a college degree in a deep dark hole. That the half of the population with an IQ less than 100 might not be able to get a high-tech job, or there might be people who don't want to. Or people who don't want to rip up their families and move all over the country chasing non-existent jobs, and probably don't have the resources to do so in any case. If you're living from pay check (or disability check) to check, paying first, last and deposit on an apartment in a new city might simply not be possible.

The amazing thing is that a large fraction of these people still vote Republican.

And here's another story for CJW – raising the retirement age to 67 might work if you have one of them desk jobs, but if you're working at a fish plant or a factory or a farm or as a janitor, then working another two years is not something to be looked forward to, but rather two more years tacked onto your sentence. It's hard fucking work. I work hard, but it's not the same, and any CEO who tells you that they work harder than everyone else to get their salary needs to spend a couple of weeks digging ditches.

Me, I grew up on a farm/ranch, and that was hard enough that I paid my way through school doing construction. Building houses was way easier. There was no way I was going to spend my life doing either of those. I spent enough time shagging plywood that I could tell that doing it age 50 was going to be no fun. And at age 50, my back feels those eight sheets of plywood every time I stand up, even though I stopped when I was a hale 22.

I also knew that there were people who did tougher jobs than me. My dad tried to use his children as migrant workers, and we lasted about a day hoeing weeds by hand, going up and down the mile-long rows, chopping weeds (he had the field cropdusted at the same time, using the active ingredient in Agent Orange, so there's that). Handling irrigation pipe, driving tractors, digging ditches, shagging plywood – all way easier than being a field hand.

This is yet another reason NPR will never get a dime from me. Those folks need to get out more.

[1] Not least because you quit school to take one of those backbreaking menial jobs in order to help support your family.

[2] Of course, that backbreaking hourly job didn't have benefits.

“Soundbite of laughter”

So I was lying in bed this morning listening to the radio. I’d prefer the BBC, but KPCC switches over to NPR far too early.

Then I heard the dulcet, seemingly reasonable, tones of Renee Montagne say this:

…we start with a reminder of the root of Europe’s financial crisis: European countries borrowed too much money.

That’s one way to frame it. The bankster’s way. There is another way. And that is that the banksters made a lot of bad loans. That’s why they get interest.  Interest is a metric of risk. There are two parties to every transaction, and it’s not that some European governments borrowed too much money, but that most every bank made loans that they should not have made. They encouraged it. They fomented it. They robosigned documents. They sought out the bad lendees. They lied, misled, tranched, CDO’ed, and derivatived.  

The reason banks can get people, or governments, to pay interest for loans is accepting that some will go bad, and the bank will have to eat it.  Banks have managed to game the system so that they get the interest from taking risks, and have the risks subsidized when they get it wrong.  

More simply, privatize the profit, socialize the risk.

There is an alternative to forcing austerity, debt, and crisis upon the citizens of these countries, who almost certainly made none of the decisions that caused this crisis, while the banksters and ministers who made the bad decisions walk away untouched. And in fact, enriched.  That alternative is to force the banksters to write off the bad loans.  Cram down the loan.  Write it off.

Another alternative is to give the people the money, a stimulus, if you will, and let them pay off their mortgage, their credit card.  Either way, the banksters get paid, but the way our masters have chosen mean that the banksters get paid, and the people are made to suffer more.  Unless you work in Brussels, or Berlin, or DC.  Or work for a bank.  No suffering there.

That money has to be paid back, but in many cases, new money does not exist in Europe.

The money does not have to be paid back. The banksters could be stiffed.  Banks don’t print money;  governments do.  Banks are not loaning out money anyway, only borrowing it from governments at the zero bound, loaning it sparingly at 5% and paying the 5% to themselves in bonuses.  Where can I get a deal like that?

And where does money come from? It comes from the full faith and credit of governments. Not from banks. Banks don’t print money, nor back it.  Governments do.  The money could exist, if governments wanted to print it. The banks only have the money that governments give them.

This crisis is caused because the banksters own the governments, and are going to make sure that every last citizen pays every last drop of blood to the bank, with interest, at the point of a gun (see riots in Greece, and look around for OWS protesters in the US).

Let’s be clear.  Angela Merkel is not going to China to beg for money to rescue Greece — China is paying to bail out the banksters, who otherwise would be insolvent because they made bad loans. These guys who are supposed to be the smartest people in the room made a bunch of risky loans, and if China doesn’t bail them out, they go under. And they’ve succeeded in framing the issue in such a way that even NPR regurgitates their spin without a second thought.

If this is the sort of unbiased analysis promulgated by “Planet Money” without even an alternative voice from, I don’t know, a Nobel Prize winner like Paul Krugman, KPCC would be well served by ditching NPR and only playing the BBC. NPR is run by our corporate masters, just as much as Fox, CNN, or NBC.

Soundbite of laughter, as Chana Joffe-Walt of NPR laughs about Angela Merkel going to China on her knees.  “Liberal” NPR, indeed.

Heard on Morning Edition

February 17, 2012 – RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We’re going to hear now from Planet Money. And we start with a reminder of the root of Europe’s financial crisis: European countries borrowed too much money. That money has to be paid back, but in many cases, new money does not exist in Europe. Chana Joffe-Walt with our Planet Money team reports that this simple fact has European leaders on a global search for cash.

CHANA JOFFE-WALT, BYLINE: Here’s where we are: The Europeans have tried bailout funds. They’ve hosted dozens of summits, at those summits hatched plans for more bailout funds. The European Central Bank has gotten involved. And yet investors are still afraid to lend money to European countries. The countries need money, and so it has come to this.

JIANG SHIXUE: Chancellor Merkel came to our academy talking to our scholars.

JOFFE-WALT: This is Jiang Shixue. He’s an academic at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, gleefully describing to me one of the most exciting moments of his 56 years as a Chinese person: The moment when one of the most important people in Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, came to his country, to his workplace.

SHIXUE: She said that the E.U. would be happy to see if China can offer a kind of helping hand for the E.U.

JOFFE-WALT: She said she would like to see China offer a helping hand to the E.U.?

SHIXUE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And finally, she…

JOFFE-WALT: Meaning what? Meaning money?

SHIXUE: Oh, yes. Yes. Of course, money. Well, I would say her voice was gentle and that her words were nice and open.

JOFFE-WALT: Well, you have to be friendly and gentle when you’re asking somebody for money.



If you want to know why newspapers are not just dying, but dead, dead, dead…

Look no further than this, which is not a headline from the Onion (ht: Atrios)

[edit] I said “newspapers”, but after listening to NPR this morning, I realized what meant was “old school media”. And yes, NPR is included in that – they have to suck up to their political, if not corporate, masters. Newspapers, radio, television, magazines (less so? – the New Yorker seems to write some hard looks at the establishment [1]); what others call the “mainstream media” (which I hesitate to use as it has become code for something else).

But the inability to ask the hard question, to make the liars uncomfortable, to jeopardize access, to educate themselves on difficult subjects, mind-boggling innumeracy, the complete failure to ask the follow-up, the hard question, “views on the shape of the earth differ” so-called objective reporting – they have made themselves obsolete. The OSM still has the cash to send reporters and cameras to far away places, but that’s about all they’ve got left. And that increasingly less, and not for long.

Good riddance.

[1] A sixties word which I think is coming back into relevance. It isn’t the corporations, it isn’t the government, it isn’t the media. It’s all of them combined, the oligarchy, all owned and operated by the same few people. The Establishment.