Links 1/29/11

Study shows canid is ‘wolf in jackal’s clothing’ BBC (hat tip reader John M)

Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Cairo in near-anarchy as protesters push to oust president Washington Post

Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising Telegraph (hat tip reader Andrew U)

US Continues to Back Egyptian Dictatorship in the Face of Pro-Democracy Uprising TruthOut (hat tip Marshall Auerback)

Days of rage in Egypt Asia Times

WikiLeaks Cables Show US Toned Down Pressure On Egypt Huffington Post

The end of the Arab exception? John Quiggin

Sign the Petition: Cut Off Mubarak FireDogLake. The permanent residence of the Egyptian ambassador is in my building (a 5000 square foot full floor apartment). Needless to say, he has had an unusually large number of visitors in the last few days.

UK’s frozen GDP Financial Times (hat tip Richard Smith)

Really Nominal GDP Annaly Salvos, Credit Writedowns

David Rosenberg: Herbert Hoover Obama Jesse

Alaska must release Palin e-mails by May 31, state AG declares MSNBC

Long Island Tax Cut Debacle A ‘Black Eye For The Tea Party’ ThinkProgress (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

The Phantom 15 Million National Journal (hat tip reader May S)

Shifting Procedures Upset BP’s Rig Team Wall Street Journal

How can the Architects of the Crisis Investigate it? Bill Black (hat tip reader John M)

Stop bashing the bankers, Davos meeting told Financial Times. Ready your barf bag.

Housing Woes Fuel Apartment Surge Wall Street Journal

Clash of the Titans: RMBS Edition Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Aung San Suu Kyi Financial Times

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Kendall G). From All Creatures Great and Small. “Five of the 130 baby bats rescued from the Queensland floods being cared for at a clinic in Brisbane.”

Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 5.43.04 AM

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41 comments

  1. Dikaios Logos

    re: Sign the Petition: Cut Off Mubarak
    I applaud Jane’s efforts, but I hope folks don’t stop at “Military Aid”. The sad truth is that the non-military aid is very, very broad and includes just about everything save munitions. Pressure to stop all aid is the way to go.

    Furthermore, boycotting Egypt’s tourism industry until Mubarak leaves is a no-brainer.

    Lastly, I really hope folks in the U.S. learn something from this mess in Egypt. For all our patronizing attitudes about ‘third-world’ countries or “Arab autocracies”, people in countries like Egypt are a lot less politically gullible than Americans.

  2. Richard Kline

    “Anarchy in Barbaristan!” screams the WaPo. “They have no leader; how can they be topple Our Man???” *hahahaha* This is what it looks like when a people recover their dignity and lose their fear: the masters find who’s really the boss. And ‘anarchy? Protestors report more nearly ecstasy if you listen to actual interviews of reporters on the spot, which the inside-the-Beltway WaPo noticeably seems short on in their reportage. And their are reports up on the web of Egypt’s citizens actually cleaning up the streets in some areas later on Friday evening . . . after the police stopped shooting at them and fled. That isn’t anarchy, that’s citizen democracy. What we supposedly stand for in this US of A but don’t lift an official finger to actually support most all of the time nowadays. And why, one might ask the noticeably reticent WaPo? Because we’re paying big money to those blocking democracy to keep on blocking democracy in the interests of our crumbling hegemony. Of course the WaPo drags up the obligatory, ill-sourced references to *horrors* ‘looters’ without mentioning what is documented by other news sources that most all known looting on Friday was of the rotten official party offices and police stations, i.e. of the state criminals’ facilities. Call it a ‘loan from the people’ now taken back in default.

    Something missing from most current reportage, though perhaps only because the events of the current news cycle are so huge (and beautiful) is the grossly stolen parliamentary election in Egypt in November. I’ll be most of you out there never even knew it was held, and it might as well not have been. No credible opposition took part because it was so rigged the outcome was a certinty: 500 seats for the Thieves Party, 20 seats for the Phoney Parties, 0 seats for the citizenry. That’s part of the reason for the immediate pressure behind this push to excise the tic of a president sucking at Egypt for a generation and now still, the utter contempt of those in power for the 99% who live there. To the extent to which there was any organized activist instigation of these events, it had its basis in the popular resistance of several years’ duration to the complete and contemptuously fraudulent ‘electoral’ process managed by the ‘Sultan’ of Egypt.

    Can you get dead rioting for your rights? Yes; several score already have, though initial numbers are seldom accurate. Can uprisings go wrong or be hijacked? Yes; throwing out the rotter (when he isn’t simply drowned in a toilet as more fitting) may simply create a job opening for another of the same: it’s the _system_ which has to be shorted out and torn down more than the occupant of the day. But you can’t get change in a bad environment without running that risk. I’m watching this one with tears of joy, I can tell you. Egypt tahrir, Egypt libre! Go and get it.

    1. Richard Kline

      And the best part of all: they’re doing it themselves. That’s the way; that’s the only way. No one can give you freedom, you have to take it. If it’s thrust in your hand unsought, you give it back, or drop it, or sell it for nothing. Peoples who grow up and stay free take their own freedom. We’re looking at a generation and a nation that wants it.

      Weren’t we like that once . . . ?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Chinese government shouldn’t worry.

        What is the likelihood of an Egyptian youth daring to stop an army tank on a Cairo street being photoed?

    2. Jim Haygood

      Some protesters went to the source of the ‘made in USA’ tear gas which is being used both in Egypt and (with fatal effect in the case of Jawaher abu Rahman) in the occupied West Bank.

      The manufacturer, Combined Tactical Systems, is located in middle America: Jamestown, Pennsylvania. Check out the photo of the plant headquarters, posted here:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/01/party-building-on-fire-shots-fired-at-demonstrators-army-pouring-into-streets.html

      No comment necessary. For those who didn’t click the link yet — guess which foreign flag flies over this ‘U.S.’ armaments plant? Yep — that one! You couldn’t make this sh*t up.

      Like the Egyptians, I want my frickin’ country back.

      1. Dennis

        So just be clear here…you are claiming that Israel controls America? Just Israel or *Hard* J-ews?

        1. Richard Kline

          So ‘Dennis,’ well _now_ I know who’s paying ‘you.’ It’s been on my mind who would bother to monitor blogs and try to short out discussions troubling to the power elite, as it’s obvious that there is a pattern of ‘commentary’ to that end of which your remark here is signature. I’d figured a Koch-plant. But thanks for running your flag up the pole here.

  3. Richard Kline

    From Stephen Zunes interesting piece at the TruthOut link, chock full of facts: “Mubarak’s US-backed neoliberal economic agenda has accelerated since the 1990’s, privatizing more than half of all public enterprises. This shift has resulted in weakened job security, fewer benefits and longer hours. The official government union does little to defend the workers. As a result, workers have taken things into their own hands. More than two million have participated in more than 3,300 strikes, demonstrations, factory occupations and other mass actions since 1998. A 2007 sit-in by 3,000 municipal workers at the finance ministry ultimately won them higher salaries and the right to form an independent union.”

    Now, I’ll bet _that_ wasn’t on the agenda to discuss at the NYT when they printed up billionaire rightist talking points on ‘those rascally public unionized employees bankrupting their communtities.’ What we have here in the US is a 1% longing for their own Mubarak to implement the wonders of government enforced plutocracy in the US for them. Every time I see some schmuckdroid on a blog howling against ‘those rascally public unions’ my first thought is, “Those folks are the seawall of a democratic process, where people count for more than princes.” Process imperfect, sure. In the big picture, if you don’t organize the rich put a Mubarak over you, and this is something those anti-union bloviators either won’t understand or don’t way you to understand.

    1. Elliot X

      Thanks for referring us to the Stephen Zunes article.

      What’s happening in Tunisia and Egypt is a glorious moment and it’s truly inspiring. I’m a lot less pessimistic about the world today than I was even one or two weeks ago.

      We can only hope that the Egyptians succeed in bringing down Mubarek and his rotten, US-backed oligarchy, and that their spirit of revolt spreads throughout the Middle East, and throughout the entire world.

    1. clamonstrative

      How about this: “she paid into social security her whole life, and therefore taking back her own money does not make her a hypocrite.”

  4. Eleanor

    The baby bats are cute beyond all belief. I love Naked Capitalism, and not just for the pictures.

  5. aletheia33

    @ richard kline, “Protestors report more nearly ecstasy if you listen to actual interviews of reporters on the spot, which the inside-the-Beltway WaPo noticeably seems short on in their reportage. And their are reports up on the web of Egypt’s citizens actually cleaning up the streets in some areas later on Friday evening . . . after the police stopped shooting at them and fled. That isn’t anarchy, that’s citizen democracy.”

    al jazeera reports citizens directing traffic, as all of cairo’s police force has disappeared.

    as i’ve commented on NC before, see rebecca solnit’s book, the paradise built in hell, on this phenomenon. she reports that this is the usual occurrence when TPTB are out of the picture on the ground temporarily, be it natural disaster or otherwise. people discover in such solidarity and self-organizing in response to emergency an excitement and joy that is unlike any other. and people as such seem to have incredible resources, stamina, and resilience, far beyond their own imagining, once they step out in this way. and this type of event usually includes individual spontaneous, unhesitant sacrifice of life in service of the perceived greater need of the many–willing, ultimate altruism.

    with rapid viral communication transcending geopolitical boundaries, it is not so hard to imagine a worldwide phenomenon like this at some point down the road. it’s been said the revolution will not be tweeted (malcolm gladwell in the new yorker awhile back) because people have to actually enter the streets to make change–but the revolution, once people have entered the streets, will surely be accompanied by tweeting of some kind. it appears that perhaps with each successive outbreak of popular protest around the world, these movements are becoming more adept at utilizing the technology, learning from the previous experience.

    1. Richard Kline

      So alethieia33, thanks for highlighting that particular point. I’ve both read about it and seen it (in snow storms, nothing major). There are reports in the media out of Egypt of demonstrators actually cleaning up the roadways in various places despite, as Robert Fisk cheekily noted in such a report, that this is _culturally not at all done in Egypt_. Now, that’s the solidarity of crisis in action!

      But another man described it better than I long since; he called it ‘mutual aid.’ There’s a human capacity for it, but where an authority structure is in effect we default to it, and so do _not_ do what comes naturally but wait for the men in blue to get to it. But as you say, people will self-organize order in a crisis, at least initially, unless prevented from doing so.

  6. Ignim Brites

    “We certainly didn’t see it coming. At the turn of the millennium, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the U.S. economy would create nearly 22 million net jobs in the 2000s, only slightly fewer than the boom 1990s yielded.” (The Phantom 15 Million, National Journal). You certain don’t need to ready any further.

  7. Leviathan

    Re the Bill Black piece. Bravo for highlighting the Orwellian “do not name the thing” game at the heart of the Republican minority reports on the collapse. But boo for implying that the Dem-dominated majority report does any better! It is all balderdash. Summon the ghost of Pecora or be damned.

    Re. the Levitan piece, it is a down payment only on what I hope will be a meme that finally filters through to the mainstream. E.g. that the banskters ripped off the bond traders, but BOTH were fully complicit in enslaving the American masses to their overpriced houses. Government will now act the part of the evil stepmother intervening between the two squabbling ugly stepsisters (who she does at least love) whilst all three continue to give the shaft to the Cinderella/public. And I am talking original Grimm brothers stuff here, not the Disneyfied garbage.

  8. Jim the Skeptic

    From the Article: “Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them”

    This quote is priceless:
    “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” said Paul Ryan, the GOP’s young budget star at a D.C. event honoring the author. ”

    If I were vindictive, I would send a copy of that quote to him every year on his birthday! :^)

    Of course I assume he has actually read Ayn Rand. It took me about a year or 2 to figure out that no thinking person could possibly believe what she wrote.

    1. craazyman

      Uh Oh, that’s a “vomit bag” quotation.

      Is that dood a moron or what? Holy Sh-t, what a moron! Who even needs to wait for an answer? Ayn Rand? I mean really. It’s amazing how many psycopaths write crazy books. And even more amazing how many people buy them.

      I’ll have to put on the face mask for this fellow.

      1. Jim the Skeptic

        I bought “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” but in my own defense I was only age 22. :^)

        1. craazyman

          don’t worry Jim, it happens, sometimes out of curiosity

          I bought Dianetics (sp?) by L. Ron Hubbard once and got to about page 30 and I thought “Wow, this dude is really, really messed up in the head!” this was about the point where he was talking about wiring up tin cans to hold in each hand to measure your engrams from past lives. I do think he had a few things right, but it was warmed over pyschoanalysis and confessional cleansing — basically rock soup with a gourmet label.

          That set me back about $4.95. Oh well.

          But supposedly he was a good sci-fi writer. I haven’t much been into sci-fi so I wouldn’t know.

          I don’t mind if a fiction writer is a head case, but a political philosopher should be a bit more level-headed.

          1. Richard Kline

            Heeyyy, craazy, good for you. You see, you passed the reality test. It’s good to take it sometimes, just to reconfirm that bad headfunk coffin scrapings really _do_ give you a headache when smoked. I myself went to a Moonie recruiting dinner once. Not, fer heaven’s sake to join, but to see how they went about it. And my response after leaving the thing was, “Boy, these folks are messed up in the head . . . .”

  9. Jim the Skeptic

    From the article: “Long Island Tax Cut Debacle A ‘Black Eye For The Tea Party’”
    Quote: “Last year, for example, the “tax-averse” city of Colorado Springs, CO shut off one third of its streetlights and laid off large numbers of public workers, including police and firefighters, after voters continually rejected tax increases.”

    This is what responsible office holder’s do.

    Lionel Rivera has been the mayor of Colorado Springs since 2003 and he is a Republican! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Rivera)

    Obviously this man has no future at the national level.

    On the other hand, the Long Island County Executive is a “Tea Party” Republican. He had no plan, just dogma.

    Now he plans on suing the regulatory body interfering with his ability to run up deficits.

    His vision has been too small, he should move up to some national office where this sort of insight is recognized and rewarded.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The plot thickens, sort of, as

    1) America’s secret backing of the rebel leaders is secret no more.

    2) US continudes to back Egyptian dictatorship

    3) US toned down pressure on Egypt.

    The US is like a good corporation, backing both sides, it seems.

  11. doom

    That Telegraph article distorts the cable. They’re trying hard to color it as proof of Uncle Sam’s global reach. What the cable shows is dumb dips writing off dissidents as a hopeless fringe because they’re not incremental enough. Heckuva job!

  12. Tertium Squid

    Lost in the Rand article is a very interesting question – should an opponent of a coercive welfare state refuse the “help” being foisted upon them?

    The article addresses this obliquely:

    “Rand had paid into the system, so why not take the benefits? It’s true, but according to Stephens, some of Rand’s fellow travelers remained true to their principles.

    Rand is one of three women the Cato Institute calls founders of American libertarianism. The other two, Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel “Pat” Paterson, both rejected Social Security benefits on principle. Lane, with whom Rand corresponded for several years, once quit an editorial job in order to avoid paying Social Security taxes.”

    Oh, so since some of her contemporaries went further, Rand is a disappointing sell-out? Sheesh. The quest for ideological purity is tiresome and points more to vanity and one-upmanship than any quest for a good world or a better life. Just spend a few minutes on certain anarchist message boards – it’s BORING watching them all trying to show they’re the most hard-core.

    As for whether one should spurn enfeebling government handouts, I am not wise enough to say. I can see it both ways – that is my money, after all, given back to me. But the Emperor steals your grain and gives you bread just to make him seem powerful, noble, indispensable. “What will we do without the Emperor?!”

    1. leroguetradeur

      The problem with Rand was not that she accepted benefits. That is the least of the problems. The problem is she was a worse novelist than Harold Robbins, a complete idiot when it came to philosophy, and a gross cult leader sexual predator in her personal relations. Just read the stuff, as much as you can stand, and be amazed that anyone ever took it seriously!

      1. Anonymous Jones

        Exactly. I couldn’t care less whether she accepted benefits (and as a matter of fact, do not think the acceptance is any sign of hypocrisy).

        What should be relevant about her is that she couldn’t think very well, she couldn’t write very well, and she couldn’t analyze her own bitterness very well. It’s stunning how inept those books are. They make me embarrassed for her.

    2. Paul Repstock

      Squid: give it up. Once the anti capitalist finger of judgement has pointed, there is nolonger any need for empathy or even reading books to pass scentence..:(

    3. attempter

      The quest for ideological purity is tiresome and points more to vanity and one-upmanship than any quest for a good world or a better life.

      Nice try, but that only refers to ideologues demanding that non-ideologues live up to an ideology.

      It does not apply in the case of expecting proclaimed ideologues to live up to the ideology they proclaim, and Rand was as fanatical in words as any ideologue ever was.

      (As for anarchists, some may be like that. But most anarchists see anarchism as a gradual process of doing the best one practically can in a hostile environment. Little by little one lessens the gap between reality and the ideal.)

  13. Bas

    RE the Telegraph/WikiLeaks article:

    US diplomacy will routinely hedge its pro-dictatorship positions with token ‘backing’ of reforms or contacts with ‘opposition groups’, while handing its stooges billions of dollars in military aid with the sole and express purpose to stifle reforms and opposition ever more effectively.

    What’s striking is that WikiLeaks now conveniently supplies the ‘good cop’ version in this information game, using the faux credibility of ‘leaks’ to push seemingly contradictory US propaganda points.

    Journalists should be much more sceptical regarding these leaks than they have been so far. The sole fact that information is supposed to have been ‘leaked’ does not lend it any extra credibility whatsoever.

    1. paper mac

      That the Telegraph chose to spin the cable in that way is indicative of their own editoral bias rather than any malign agenda on the part of wikileaks (which has, in any case, not been driving the disclosure of specific cables- that has been the media’s job). An actual reading of the cable reveals essentially exactly what you said- some minimal assistance offered to a single activist, who provided intelligence to the state dept. regarding his group’s activities. A hedge position and no more. It’s clear that the diplomat who wrote the cable thought the activist’s plans were unachievable. It’s revealing that the Telegraph construes this as clandestine backing for an uprising.

      1. Bas

        It’s not just the Telegraph, Reuters put the same spin on these and other cables yesterday: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/28/us-egypt-usa-wikileaks-idUSTRE70R7QV20110128

        These leaked cables are supposed to be evidence of ‘quiet’ efforts by the Obama administration to push for reforms in Egypt. One particular cable from the US embassy in Cairo even points to similar US ‘efforts’ in the Shah’s Iran as evidence of the dangers of forcing US backed dictatorships into democratic reforms.

        Does this mean US diplomats truly think that the Shah of Iran was deposed because he listened to US demands for more democratic reforms? And should we believe this just because the cable in which diplomats express this outrageous view has been leaked to shadowy quasi-journalists of unknown affiliation?

        Again, having been ‘leaked’, or having WikiLeaks as its source, should not supply any piece of information with more credibility than official statements or press releases. Journalists should be much clearer about this.

  14. Hugh

    There is a split between the police and the military. The police lose power if the military doesn’t crackdown. The military loses credibility if it does.

    The absence of police on the streets and the use of provocateurs are standard practices to create chaos justifying a crackdown. So far this seems to have blown back on Mubarak and his security apparatus, which is a good sign.

    Removing a dictator reminds me of the various stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, resignation, and acceptance. In Egypt, we are clearly in the third.

    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to stories that US officials talked to members of the opposition. It’s their job to. If I had to guess, I would say the Administration is working its contacts with the Egyptian military but beyond that sitting on its hands hoping for the best. That’s what happens when you back the wrong side for 30 years.

  15. Elliot X

    Re: US Continues to Back Egyptian Dictatorship in the Face of Pro-Democracy Uprising

    from the article:

    “Justin Webb asked the president, “Do you regard President Mubarak as an authoritarian ruler?” Obama’s reply was “No,” insisting that, “I tend not to use labels for folks.” Obama also refused to acknowledge Mubarak’s authoritarianism on the grounds that, “I haven’t met him…..”

    “I tend not to use labels for folks”. Ugh. This is about as icky and nauseating as it gets. Although still, when it comes to being downright insincere and smarmy, to say nothing of plastic and empty, it’s pretty hard to top that “Rain puddles in heaven” line that Obie used on the crowd in Arizona a couple of weeks ago.

    And what about all those puddles he’s leaving behind in Afghanistan?

  16. Paul Repstock

    Suu Kyi had a message for us.

    Suu Kyi is sceptical. “Sometimes I think that a parody of democracy could be more dangerous than a blatant dictatorship, because that gives people an opportunity to avoid doing anything about it.”

    Quoted from the FT article above

  17. Jim

    Phantom 15 million.

    no brainer!

    The internet has made it possible to do work from anywhere by anybody. This has instantly put the globe in direct competition for labor.

    On top of that the US has completely cut off the roots and trunk of the job tree. When you don’t have factories here in the US, it makes it impossible to develop the next generation of equipment.

    The cell phone wasn’t invented by Graham Bell, the phone happened through improvements over time with people gradually improving it and comng up with the better mousetrap. With factories shuttered and the miles and language barriers between the factory floor(china) and the US. It makes it hard for the innovators in the US to add any value, or even have the contacts and resources to develope or indentify the new services and goods that need to be created. It can all be done some place
    else cheaper and closer.

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