Our Leaders Don’t Know What They Are Doing


Failure as a Way of Life
The logic of lost wars and military-industrial boondoggles
By WILLIAM S. LIND • February 15, 2016

The fault line in American politics is no longer Republican vs. Democrat nor conservative vs. liberal but establishment vs. anti-establishment. This is an inevitable result of serial failure in establishment policies. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the establishment’s repeated military interventions abroad in wars against non-state opponents. When such interventions fail in one place—first Somalia, then Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Libya, now Syria—it does the same thing again somewhere else, with the same result…

…rely on the establishment’s wealth and power to insulate its members from the consequences of policy failure. The public schools are wretched, but the establishment’s children go to private schools. We lose wars, but the generals who lose them get promoted. The F-35 is a horrible fighter, but no member of the establishment will have to fly it. So long as the money keeps flowing, all is well.

THE BILL GATES INTERVIEW: An energy miracle is coming, and it’s going to change the world

I’d say that I didn’t really start to understand it fully until I started reading Vaclav Smil, who has written a lot about this. David Christian, in “Big History,” writes about this. It’s energy intensification, where we essentially have, through our light bulbs and cars, the manpower of [hundreds of] people working on our behalf, helping our food being created, helping our materials like steel and plastic and wood and paper be created. Our lifestyles are incredibly energy intense.

I had a lot of respect for Bill Gates before I read this. He is resting on his laurels, mailing it in. Tedious, sophomoric techno-utopian gibberish. He should go head-to-head with Elon Musk. Or just stop.

Clusterfuck Nation

As for Mr. Trump, he remains what I said at the campaign’s outset: worse than Hitler, lacking the brains, charm, and savoir faire of the Ol’ Fuhrer, and with his darkness even more plainly visible. Even Adolf could manage to get his necktie on so that it didn’t dangle around his nutsack. I don’t mean to trivialize the difference between these two psychopaths, except to say that America will be very very sorry to follow the tune of the so-far leading Republican candidate’s pied-pipings.

Frankly, if Mr. Trump actually manages to technically snag the party’s nomination, I can imagine several consequences. One, that he will indeed succeed in destroying the party. The other leaders at the dark heart of its hierarchy will never stand for Trump. In that case, they will form a breakaway rump GOP and throw their support to Michael Bloomberg, if he decides to jump in — and he might be enough of a true patriot to do that. The less appetizing alternative consequences involve the apparatus of the runaway Deep State (NSA and the military) either bumping off Trump, or staging a coup d’état against him in the event that he manages to get elected. I’m not advocating for those outcomes, but you ought to be prepared for the possibilities.

Maybe a tad hysterical. The good news is Jim has rarely been right. I thought the GOP was already destroyed. Jim led me to believe Dubya accomplished that eight years ago. Whatever. Bloomberg? Are you kidding me?

Week Nineteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria

From a purely military point of view, it makes absolutely no sense for the Turks to mass at the border, declare that they are about to invade, then stop, do some shelling and then only send a few little units across the border. What the Turks should have done was to covertly begin to increase the level of readiness of their forces then and then attacked as soon as Russians detected their preparations even if that meant that they would have to initiate combat operations before being fully mobilized and ready. The advantages of a surprise attack are so big that almost every other consideration has to be put aside in order to achieve it. The Turks did the exact opposite: they advertised their intentions to invade and once their forces were ready, they simply stopped at the border and began issuing completely contradictory declarations. This makes absolutely no sense at all.

What complicates this already chaotic situation is that Erdogan is clearly a lunatic and that there appears to the at least the possibility of some serious infighting between the Turkish political leaders and the military.

Furthermore, there appears to be some very bad blood between the USA and the Erdogan regime. Things got so bad that Erdogan’s chief adviser, Seref Malkoc, said that Turkey might deny the US the use of Incirlik Air Base for strikes against ISIL if the US does not name the YPG as a terrorist group. Erdogan later repudiated this statement, but the fact remains that the Turks are now directly blackmailing the USA. If Erdogan and his advisors seriously believe that they can publicly blackmail a superpower like the USA then their days are numbered. At the very least, this kind of irresponsible outbursts shows that the Turks are really crumbling under the pressure they themselves have created.

Turkey’s Convenient War
Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan relies on sketchily attributed terrorism to consolidate power and disrupt Syria.
By PHILIP GIRALDI • February 23, 2016

But perhaps the most telling, and chilling, incident relating to Erdogan and his intelligence service cronies is something that did not happen. Back in 2014, a secret telephone recording made by police investigating criminal activity by some family members within the government inner circle revealed that the then-prime minister had conspired with his intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to stage a false flag attack on the tomb of Turkish Sultan Suleyman Shah, which for historical reasons is located inside Syria and is guarded by Turkish soldiers. Davutoglu told Fidan “The Prime Minister [Erdogan] said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on the Suleyman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.” Fidan responded “I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey.” In the event, the attack did not take place but if it had it might have meant killing fellow Turks to create a casus belli that would have justified massive retaliation and direct intervention in Syria.

Would Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan be willing to kill his own soldiers to create an incident that would enable him to advance his own agenda? The answer is apparently yes.


The Rise and Fall of American Growth

Paul Krugman Reviews ‘The Rise and Fall of American Growth’ by Robert J. Gordon

Developments in information and communication technology, he has insisted, just don’t measure up to past achievements. Specifically, he has argued that the I.T. revolution is less important than any one of the five Great Inventions that powered economic growth from 1870 to 1970: electricity, urban sanitation, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the internal combustion engine and modern communication.

First came the Great Inventions, almost all dating from the late 19th century. Then came refinement and exploitation of those inventions — a process that took time, and exerted its peak effect on economic growth between 1920 and 1970. Everything since has at best been a faint echo of that great wave, and Gordon doesn’t expect us ever to see anything similar.

Is he right? My answer is a definite maybe.

First, he points out that genuinely major innovations normally bring about big changes in business practices, in what workplaces look like and how they function. And there were some changes along those lines between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s — but not much since, which is evidence for Gordon’s claim that the main impact of the I.T. revolution has already happened.

Second, one of the major arguments of techno-optimists is that official measures of economic growth understate the real extent of progress, because they don’t fully account for the benefits of truly new goods. Gordon concedes this point, but notes that it was always thus — and that the understatement of progress was probably bigger during the great prewar transformation than it is today.

The Economists Don’t Know What They Are Doing

The meaning of “stability” should be clear to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of the English language: it means not moving. In economic terms, this should mean a state where prices neither rise nor fall. Yet the Fed has been able to redefine price stability to mean prices that rise at a minimum of 2% per year. Nowhere does such a target appear in the founding documents of the Federal Reserve. But it seems as if Janet Yellen has borrowed a page from activist Supreme Court justices (unlike the late Antonin Scalia) who do not look to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, but their own “interpretation” based on the changing political zeitgeist.

The Fed’s new Orwellian mandate is to prevent price stability by forcing price to rise 2% per year. What has historically been seen as a ceiling on price stability, that would have forced tighter policy, is now generally accepted as being a floor to perpetuate ultra-loose monetary policy. The Fed has accomplished this self-serving goal with the help of naïve economists who have convinced most that 2% inflation is a necessary component of economic growth.

100 Replies to “Our Leaders Don’t Know What They Are Doing”

  1. how about: don’t place all your hopes and dreams of energy independence on huge stockpiles of fissionable transuranics if you live in an active volcanic and mega-earthquake-and-tsunami prone land?

    it’s a start.

  2. so i thought, “what’s so unusual about some chick boxing a bag?” then i took a closer look at the bag.

    that left hook has got to hurt.

  3. any idea when and where the pumice raft and surface eruption occurred? they were indeed taking a chance sailing around there. archimedes principle can be rapidly violated.

  4. so i wonder how the guy in the compact car that was flattened on the guard rail and pole across the boulevard and the truck driver who ended up in the ravine made out. any survivors?

  5. you’re right again. i do have a lot of questions.

    hey, did i tell you that i got my new helium isotope gismo to work? happened a couple of weeks ago. all this time (last 2+ years) we were stuck with a weird background. i overcame it with some luck. left for the xmas holidays and then ran a sample again after i got back. that sample (and a well-placed valve that i thought of adding to simplify the possible origins) proved it was the background and even where in there it was coming from. so, i started suppressing the background as much as possible (AMAP), and increasing the sample signal AMAP. und voila, i got to with 2X of the target value for air.

    dude, it the quantum physics effect. should make a nice research paper.

  6. the dump truck accident happened yesterday outside of Austin, Texas, per GoogleEarth. i doubt the truck driver or the compact car occupants survived. there have already been about 300,000 views.

  7. all good…glad your gizmo is working. keep asking questions. i’ll keep up with the no answer part of the equation.

  8. i wonder, if the benefit to hazards prediction is saving human lives, and human overpopulation is the root cause of our predicament, then logic would suggest that hazards should not be predicted, or only predicted to save elite human lives and property. sort of a machiavelli logic there. i’m sure the medici would agree.

  9. here’s what i still don’t know: did my background reduce because i finally rid it of a concentrated tracer added long ago (about a year) or does the isotopic fractionation slowly increase over time as new helium is added?

    Okay, again, i don’t expect dave to have the answer.

    perhaps only time will tell.

  10. “saved for the moment”…there’s way too much randomness out there for this to be meaningful. i think. not exactly sure…i will say that actuary tables with 100 years or so data are about as useful as tea leaves, pretty sure about that.

    but if you can make a $ at making people believe you can save something, even for a moment, that’s a good thing.

  11. everybody’s position in the space/time matrix is random. there is no escape. determinism is a fact. control is an illusion. jus’ sayin’.

  12. it is kind of amazing to me at times. doom and i have gone on like this for years and years at this point. you’d think that one of us would have gotten sick of it by now.

    it has to be one of the longest running examples of free association that has ever existed. think of that…

  13. that’s a different becket than the cardinal that richard I had put to death? anyway, loved the movie with richard burton as becket and peter o’toole as king richard. great acting, but i suspect the true story wasn’t so dramatic, even if real blood was spilt on the castle carpets. what a mess….

    i’ve always admired the fact that godot never showed.

  14. i’m running an indurance test on one of my gismos until something breaks. how stupid is that?

    it’s like my rock collection. i’m sure it will out last me, then get distributed like the gold dust in “the treasure of the sierra madre”, on their way toward randomness and greater cosmic entropy.

    hi EE and GB!

  15. “it has to be one of the longest running examples of free association that has ever existed. think of that…” not to mention the incredible (and incredibly weird) collection of free-association viddies and images. Let’s hope JR has backed all of this nonsense up and at some point publishes it. I bet he could make a fortune!
    Hi Doom! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um05lJzXD0w

  16. EE, picture a patch of frozen earth with rows of dead, grey kale stalks still upright and oak leaves blowing around.
    Some seeds are started indoors, trees have been pruned and geese are flying north. How’s DC?

  17. Sounds just like the upstate NY I remember, GB. We used to joke that all the ice ought to be out of the river (St. Lawrence) by June 1 if we were lucky.
    DC weather is really wacky/extreme. It was 65 F yesterday and 32 F right now, and is supposed to snow a couple of inches Friday. (Just the mention of precipitation throws the region into paroxysms of stupidity.) The iris in my neighborhood have bloomed several times since September–in between snow pileups–along with random cherry trees around the hood. The robins never left this year–it was very freaky to see them trying to deal with snow–and (perhaps as a consequence) we seem to have a plethora of red-tailed hawks in the city this year.
    At any rate, the “E” family farming/gardening genes have been kicking in recently and I’ve tucked away about a dozen paw-paw seeds in my refrigerator and will be planting them shortly. I’ll keep you posted on their progress, if any. Only 16 days ’til the Vernal Equinox… Woo hoo!!

  18. Vernal Equinox. I’m looking forward to it! How to celebrate?

    Bif, UY, AU, UR, et al. please report in at your convenience.

  19. it’s like this (then) young german woman i had a brief affair with a few moons ago. i told her that beyond a few basics upon which we were agreeable, the rest were details. the relationship rapidly deteriorated shortly after i made that statement, as she seemed to be bent upon proving to me that the details did indeed matter. should of just kept my damn mouth shut.

  20. i love the part where he’s trying to pull it out of his head, whatever it is, and it won’t come out…

  21. some sort of robbery fail? flex steel was used in that knife blade. interesting that the robber tries to get it back before he flees like the coward he is. must be a valuable weapon for criminals, attempted murderers.

  22. “it is kind of amazing to me at times. doom and i have gone on like this for years and years at this point. you’d think that one of us would have gotten sick of it by now.”

    i wonder, what would be the exact date of the beginning of this? if we knew, we could like, celebrate the anniversary date. we all show up at JR’s place in Boston, then go out for beer and pizza or something. or, we could meet at some uptown bar in Manhattan, or everyone splits the distance and we all meet up in Denver or San Francisco. throw some bucks at the airlines.

  23. Recent exchange over at OFW. My comment was put in moderation because i used impolite words, but Gail published it, anyway.

    Stilgar Wilcox says:
    March 3, 2016 at 8:40 pm


    Compared to prehistoric times, the level of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere has declined by over a third and in polluted cities the decline may be more than 50%. This change in the makeup of the air we breathe has potentially serious implications for our health. Indeed, it could ultimately threaten the survival of human life on earth, according to Roddy Newman, who is drafting a new book, The Oxygen Crisis.

    doomphd says:
    March 4, 2016 at 12:04 am

    If it were true that the oxygen level dropped by more than 50% in the polluted cities, then they (those wearing oxygen masks and tanks) would be scrapping up dead people (and their pets) off the sidewalks. Well, maybe they’d just turn blue, like the Smurfs, and pant a lot, like an overheated dog (see below). Safe to breathe oxygen levels are in a narrow range from about 23.5 to 19.5 %.

    From OHSA study:
    19.5 %. Minimum acceptable oxygen level.
    15 – 19% Decreased ability to work strenuously. Impair coordination. Early symptoms.
    12-14% Respiration increases. Poor judgment.
    10-12% Respiration increases. Lips blue.
    8-10% Mental failure. Fainting. Nausea. Unconsciousness. Vomiting.
    6-8% 8 minutes – fatal, 6 minutes – 50% fatal, 4-5 minutes – possible recovery.
    4-6% Coma in 40 seconds. Death.

    Roddy Newman is an idiot. Won’t be buying that book soon.

  24. these people always make me think of john Lennon and yoko ono. i always think that it would have been nice if john had some balls and yoko had some talent. something like that.

  25. yoko should have stuck to painting artistically, but she had a good gig hanging with john and being just-tolerated by the rest of the beatles. they were in love, i guess.

  26. ya know, none of us “know” what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. we’re all genetic puppets being jerked around by the strings of circumstance. that’s all.

  27. see, like that guy mario (i’ll call him big mouth mario) has it all back asswards. we have no control over the levers, gears and switches in the machine. we are the levers gears and switches in the machine.

  28. i guess my former minority view is now becoming the majority view. of course, so-called “intelligent” life may be a very long shot.


    my view has been that single cellular life is easier and therfore moron stable and inevitible than multicellular life. once you get to multicellular, that seems to bring on animals and the web of life we enjoy today. so the religious types will jump in and say that’s a “god given” moment, not the prior creation of celluar life. still in intellectual retreat, they abandon the creation of life (god’s former benchmark moment) and move up the ladder of cosmic progress, making moron false and unfounded claims. “i believe….” argument lost.

  29. cheap bastards use cooling canals instead of proper cooling towers. small wonder that those then contaminate the bay and groundwater. a whole state full of cheap crackers. hillary country.


    Adrian Belew ’82

    She arrives like a limo
    Smooth and moving
    On the prowl through the crowd
    To the beat of the city
    She glows in the dark
    Wherever she parks
    Concrete crumbles and the night rumbles

    Big electric cat

    She dances through the street
    Like the flame of a fire
    Everybody’s hypnotized
    Everybody perspires
    Even little children cry
    Grown men shout
    The dogs bark
    The lights go out

    Big electric cat

  31. cats are smart. it was especially cold and windy here last night (lows in the mid-60s, with wind chill–i know most of you mainlanders think that is balmy, but). so our cat Samantha takes the dog’s towel left out to dry, drags it on top of a cardboard box left in the relativelty sheltered front walkway, makes it into a fluffy bed and slept there last night.

    i though the wife had done it for the cat, but she claims she did not. son too engrossed in PC gaming to care.

    shout out to AU.

  32. thanks for the link, EE! i guess with a last name like breed, and a talent for photography, the gendre would work itself out in the end, so to speak.

    fits in with dave’s deterministic universe.

  33. at this point, it’s silly to think that any large percentage of our nuclear waste, fuel and weapons material will be somehow contained. it will degrade in place, where ever it happens to be, and dissipate into the surroundings. something like that…

    but this dose look like an interesting film…


  34. it’s an interesting problem. it’s like we purposely boobytrapped the land for anyone trying to survive us and our BAU way of life. it’s just hubris, like assuming those descendents can read the queen’s English, duh. but maybe their sign was just a movie prop. it is entertainment, afterall.

  35. running out of fish, but the real bad news is there is no reversing the CO2 pollution we done. it’s back to the Carboniferous, folks.

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