Links 4/3/11

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      1. hermanas

        I saw Tiabbi’s piece this a.m. and thought I read it here. It would be nice to see a coherent article that describes why the Fed. is dismantling our economy and aiding our competition, even to the point of trading with the enemy?

        1. Francois T

          The Fed is basically a cluster of banksters with special license to steal. Banksters are a bunch of mercenaries whose unique Master is Money. They are basically stateless, nonpatriotic people who are trained not to care too much about the suffering of their fellow human beings.

          Thus, the concept of “our economy”, or “enemy” is alien to them. What matters is the deal and/or the rent-seeking extraction that must be as profitable as possible.

        2. James

          Let me echo and expound on Francois T’s comment above. The concept of “our” is the sticking point. The idea that the Fed and the bankster class it represents are in any shape, manner, or form allied with or sympathetic to the interests of the United States of America (or any other sovereign entity for that matter) is clearly mistaken, although – tragically – equally misunderstood. Ask most any one of the “normal people” amongst us as to the nature of “the Fed” and you’ll likely draw a blank stare before clarifying yourself. Even then, most assume (as did I for MUCH longer than I’m willing to admit) that the Fed is part and parcel an agency of the US government.

          The bottom line is, the Fed, like any other profit/rent seeking enterprise – albeit with the extreme caveat that in the case of banksters, their only “value added” activity is rent extraction from holding/withholding and providing money through dubious moral means – owes it’s only allegiance to the ALMIGHTY [sound of angel’s harps here] BOTTOM LINE [a moment of silent reverence here for the capitalist sacrament]. Nation states, perhaps deservingly, have been trumped, usurped, and apparently negated by the the very passions they gave rise to and gave free reign thereafter. And of course, the REAL damage has yet to be done!

          1. psychohistorian

            Let me take your thoughts a little further.

            The folks that own all the corporations also own all the banks, including the Fed. If the Fed loaned money to Libya, think about possibly how much it is in bed with Saudi Arabia.

            You here you have this cabal of multinational corporations and banks with US nuke backing that is WHOLLY OWNED and directed by the uber rich of the world. They are playing countries and groups of countries (EU) against each other for labor, manufacturing and natural resources….its a race to the bottom for everyone but the folks at the top who consider themselves permanently insulated from us little people, who there are too many of anyway.

        3. Mike S

          I agree with the answers posted by Francois T, James, and psychohistorian, I hope you guys will consider posting suggested reading so people can find out more about these issues. Local libraries often have very informative books that can be surprisingly (and rightly) critical of the way the US is being run.

          I recommend “The Creature from Jekyll Island : A Second Look at the Federal Reserve”, by G. Edward Griffin.

          http://www.amazon.com/Creature-Jekyll-Island-Federal-Reserve/dp/0912986212

  1. Ina Deaver

    Also –

    “Fitzgerald said he continued to try to find ways to bring the missing lawmakers back to the capitol even when he knew that it was a futile endeavor. Nonetheless, he states that he has no regrets about his handling of the situation.”

    He was informed — by the State’s justice department — that he was exposing the State and some law enforcement officer to liability for breaking the law!!! And he still has no regrets. Wow. I just need to mull that over for a bit.

    1. Redgerrymander

      It should be clear to everyone by this point that the right has no interest in the law, except when it can be bent to serve partisan gains.

      This is how totalitarians think. The ends always justify the means, because they are always right.

      It’s not about left and right anymore. It’s coming to a point where it’s a clear choice between what’s morally right versus what’s criminally wrong.

      1. lambert strether

        One hand washes the other. The Ds bailed out the banksters but didn’t bail out the states. Hence the fiscal crisis. I call that a rather neat demonstration of one legacy party passing the ball to the other. Both are implementing Shock Doctrine together. Everything else is kabuki.

    2. Francois T

      Fitzgerald is the best illustration of what is totally sick with our justice system; letting rank partisan hacks in position of judicial power instead of selecting the best professionals.

      There is a good reason why the UK, France and Spain, despite having being victims of terrorism for so long, did not ditch their respective Rules of Law overboard. (No! I’m not saying there weren’t judicial abuses; just that the Rule of Law still apply in a great majority of cases)

      Think about that for a minute.

    1. rjs

      online article:
      ‘Tip of the iceberg’: 42 clusters of different diseases identified in 13 U.S. states, but researchers say this is just the beginning – A worrying report claims there are 42 disease clusters across 13 states in the U.S. which include numerous types of cancer, birth defects and other chronic illnesses. The study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Disease Clusters Alliance drew on research by federal, state and local officials and peer reviewed academic studies. They have warned that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that there are likely more in other states which will be revealed through further study. The states that are affected are Texas, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana, Montana, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas. They are now urging federal coordination and support to help confirm these clusters and determine their causes. The study looked at clusters that have occurred since 1976 when Congress passed the Toxic Substance Control Act, which was meant to regulate the use of toxic chemicals in industrial, commercial and consumer products.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1370984/Tip-iceberg-42-disease-clusters-13-U-S-states-researchers-believe-just-beginning.html

  2. DownSouth

    Re: “Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya deal”
    By Pepe Escobar

    Well this article certainly helps to fill in some of the information gaps, casting light on what at first glance appeared to be conflicting agendas by unmasking the hidden agendas of several of the major players involved.

    And “Humanitarian imperialists”. What a wonderful turn of phrase. It touches on the same theme that Adam Curtis explored in GOODIES AND BADDIES from “Links” a couple of days ago.

    Ex-leftists are now making hay with their former enemies, the American imperialists. Eric Hoffer called them true believers, as is discussed by Wikipedia:

    Some categories of people who may be attracted to mass movements include poor people, misfits, and people who feel thwarted in their endeavors. Hoffer quotes extensively from leaders of the Nazi and communist parties in the early part of the 20th Century, to demonstrate, among other things, that they were competing for adherents from the same pool of people predisposed to support mass movements. Despite the two parties’ fierce antagonism, they were more likely to gain recruits from their opposing party than from moderates with no affiliation to either.

    1. Externality

      And “Humanitarian imperialists”. What a wonderful turn of phrase. It touches on the same theme that Adam Curtis explored in GOODIES AND BADDIES from “Links” a couple of days ago.

      The following quotations from political scientist Samuel Huntington seem to apply:

      In the emerging world of ethnic conflict and civilizational clash, Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous . . . Imperialism is the necessary logical consequence of universalism —— The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 310.

      Hypocrisy, double standards, and “but nots” are the price of universalist pretensions. Democracy is promoted, but not if it brings Islamic fundamentalists to power; nonproliferation is preached for Iran and Iraq, but not for Israel; free trade is the elixir of economic growth, but not for agriculture; human rights are an issue for China, but not with Saudi Arabia; aggression against oil-owning Kuwaitis is massively repulsed, but not against non-oil-owning Bosnians. Double standards in practice are the unavoidable price of universal standards of principle —— The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 184.

      The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do —— The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 51.

      (emphasis added)
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_P._Huntington#Quotations

      1. gordon

        Here’s another Huntingdon quote, from the same set of quotes in Wikipedia:

        “A world without U.S. primacy will be a world with more violence and disorder and less democracy and economic growth than a world where the United States continues to have more influence than any other country in shaping global affairs. The sustained international primacy of the United States is central to the welfare and security of Americans and to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world. —— “Why International Primacy Matters,” International Security (Spring 1993):83″.

        I like the way he smuggles “economic growth” into the mix with that one.

        Here’s a nice anti-Islam quote (same source):

        “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power —— Huntington’s 1998 text The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order”.

        So, the solution to all our problems is for the US to dump all the rhetoric about democracy and civil rights, and just rule the world from 30,000 feet?

        1. Kampfjets überAlles


          dump all the rhetoric about democracy and civil rights, and just rule the world from 30,000 feet?

          ~~gorgon~

          Until the roof pops off to decompress our cabin, the roof imported from China.

        2. Externality

          So, the solution to all our problems is for the US to dump all the rhetoric about democracy and civil rights, and just rule the world from 30,000 feet?

          Actually, the solution is not to interfere with other countries, unless they attack us. Trade with them, offer them short-term aid in case of disasters (e.g., earthquakes), but stay out of their internal affairs. If their citizens try to illegally migrate to the US in large numbers, politely but firmly return the refugees to their country of origin.

          Huntington’s point was the desire to impose Western values (or the values of Western elites) on other countries inevitably leads to and requires the maintenance of an empire.

          Humanitarian imperialists believe that the West needs to intervene in countries whose leaders or populations behave in ways the imperialists find troubling. Once there, we cannot leave for fear that the locals will go back to their “primitive ways.” Maintaining our presence requires military bases to project strength and keep order, NGOs to teach the locals the “proper” way to behave, corporations to exploit the locals generate income to fund the intervention, etc. In short, an empire.

          Much of the former British empire came about out of a similar desire to “civilize the natives.” The so-called “White man’s burden” required, the eyes of British elites, Christan England to educate the “primitives.” Once there, it took two world wars to get the UK to leave.

          The modern American empire behaves similarly.

          Consider, for example, Afghanistan. Most Americans supported a brief but violent punitive expedition that would capture or kill those (allegedly) responsible for 9-11. The Bush administration cited the plight of Afghan women as justification for both the invasion and for staying. For the next decade, billions were spent trying impose Western values on the country. Now, we regularly read that the West cannot leave Afghanistan for fear that Afghan women would be mistreated. Everyone from former President Bush to Washington Post columnists to Obama administration officials insist that we need to stay in Afghanistan until we can be sure that Afghans will behave correctly. In short, we need to keep bases there indefinitely.

          (Of course, this could be a cynical ploy: Wikileaks posted a leaked CIA report arguing that the best way to keep the West there is the womens’ issue:

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7535681/CIA-suggests-Europe-should-understand-suffering-of-women-under-Taliban.html

          1. gordon

            “Actually, the solution is not to interfere with other countries, unless they attack us”.

            I would support that in most circumstances, but I’m not sure that it’s the Huntingdon line, given that business about “American primacy”.

          2. psychohistorian

            Thanks for your comment. So little is discussed about American empire and the cost of imperialism hidden in so much of our consumption.

  3. DownSouth

    Re: “Koch-Funded Climate Skeptic’s Own Data Confirms Warming” Treehugger

    I was all set, ready to pounce on Treehugger for calling one of Koch’s paid liars and bumsuckers a “skeptic.”

    But low and behold, Muller does indeed fit the definition of a “skeptic.”

    1. Tenney Naumer

      Treehugger’s article completely misrepresents what occurred at the hearing.

      There were only two experts on climate data: Dr. John Christy (a well known fudger of the data who left incorrect results up on his website for years even though he knew they were wrong, but they showed lower temperatures so he liked it that way; who decries a lack of transparency in the methodology of his peers but who has not yet released the code for his own work, etc., etc.) and MIT’s Kerry Emanuel (a Republican, by the way) who in his testimony strongly condemned the use of non-scientists’ work to attack real scientific work.

      The Wharton marketing professor is a known stooge for the Heartland Institute, and boy am I glad I did not get my MBA from Wharton — that guy was a disgrace. Claims to be able to use his stats on climate data, while also claiming never to have studied physics.

      Dr. Muller should not have made public the results of a 2% sampling of the data set without their first having gone through the peer-review process. He went outside of all norms by doing this.

      Further, in his own comments, he admits that he expects to tweak the full data set with corrective techniques.

      So, no one has the slightest idea what his group is going to come out with. No one knows what methodologies he is going to use on the final data set.

      In short, his project was promoted as giving total transparency to the climate community, when in fact it may not, especially if he once again chooses to come out publicly with results that have never gone through the peer-review process.

      Note however, that peer-review is only a type of filter to attempt to ensure that minimum standards are adhered to. Once papers are published, they are perused and criticized by yet more peers. This is how science and research moves forward.

      So long as Muller does not publish his results and methodology, no one can critique them.

      The whole thing smacks of yet another strategy by the Koch-financed climate denial machine to cast doubt on the process and confuse the public.

      If I were to rely on anyone’s judgment as to the risks of future warming, then I would look to MunichRE and the U.S. military.

      1. Tenney Naumer

        Also, please note that the graph used by Muller to present his 2% sample is a remake of a IPCC graph that only goes through 2007.

        This is clearly an example of “cherry picking” or picking starting and stopping points in the data that show a result you prefer rather than the actual result.

        The data for 2008, 2009, and 2010 are available from NOAA, GISS, and HadCRU, so the exclusion was intentional.

        And, those data sets show 2010 as either a tie with 1998 as the hottest year on record or as a near tie.

        The black line on the graph represents Muller’s 2% data set, and since he clearly chose to exclude the years 2008-2010, his black line makes it appear as if the global average temperature has decreased, when in fact, it is increasing.

        This is a blatant case of cherry picking, and it is academically dishonest, so what can we expect from Muller’s Koch-funded final results when there is no transparency and he has a long history of misrepresenting the results of other climate researchers.

  4. Hugh

    A couple of things about last Friday’s job report. The seasonally adjusted increase was 216,000. The unadjusted number was 25,000. What this comes down to is how much you trust the BLS’ modeling of what is happening in the economy. My own impression is that it is assuming we are in a fairly standard recession-recovery cycle. I don’t think this is the case. The recession wasn’t like anything we have seen since the 1930s. And a common complaint I make is that no economists are looking at the economy as a kleptocracy or in kleptonomic terms. So the BLS modeling assumptions are almost certainly wrong as regards job creation.

    Also as I have said, we need to look for corroboration for the BLS stand on job creation. We should be able to find this in two places. The first is in our everyday experience. If the job situation is improving, then we should begin to see more local stories about more hiring and new businesses. The second is in other statistics that the government keeps such as hours, wages, capacity and capacity utilization, and tax receipts. I don’t see in either of these evidence that there is a lot of new hiring going on.

    Put simply in the absence of corroborating evidence I would question the reliability and accuracy of this BLS jobs number.

  5. GregG

    And a common complaint I make is that no economists are looking at the economy as a kleptocracy or in kleptonomic terms.

    Wow, that’s the first time I’ve seen that point. What a fascinating idea to throw into the mix. Yes, economists should be modelling based on a kleptocracy, plutocracy, or whatever the governance-du-jour model really is.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s not correct, sadly. I now see a lot of economics articles discussing optimal levels of corruption, apparently to paint lipstick on the pig of our kleptocracy.

      1. Marcel

        Historically, there have been many periods like this one, although not identical. The economy is on course to equal or exceed the depressions of the 1870s and 1930s.

        Some differences this time around are
        *the rich have no allegiance to their country of origin, and play one country off another threatening to leave with their money if they are taxed
        *technology and globalization has allowed one group of labor to be played off of another fueling a race to universal poverty
        *the U.S. is the sole world hyperpower
        *all resistance is easily crushed by the police-surveillance state. Further, potential dissent is derailed by dissipating and misdirecting the energies of the dissenters
        *statistics are more blatantly manipulated to make it appear nothing is amiss, while people are less numerate and able to see this
        *central banks are propping up capital and bond markets behind the scenes to the sole benefit of the financiers

        There is also the sense that this is the big heist. After this, the lines will be drawn between the extremely wealthy oligarchs and the newly impoverished masses. And this inequality is expected to persist for a long time. Possibly until global warming renders the earth far less inhabitable.

        1. psychohistorian

          Another insightful comment, thank you. Let me try to add to it.

          Marcel said: “*the rich have no allegiance to their country of origin, and play one country off another threatening to leave with their money if they are taxed”

          I would conjecture that the ownership of the Fed at this point consists of a global core of these rich folk/families. Since they own the US which is the Reserve Currency for the world, they can manipulate/manage their ongoing asset appreciation.

          Marcel Said: “*technology and globalization has allowed one group of labor to be played off of another fueling a race to universal poverty”

          The rich will be the exception to your universal poverty and universal poverty is their strategy to cull the race.

          Marcel said: “*the U.S. is the sole world hyperpower”

          Very good point that most Americans don’t get. We have been outspending all other countries combined for some time now and while all of it is seeming going down the rathole of the three wars we are in, we are decades ahead of any other world government in terms of exercising fear and control and making it sound moral.

          Marcel said: “*all resistance is easily crushed by the police-surveillance state. Further, potential dissent is derailed by dissipating and misdirecting the energies of the dissenters”

          What isn’t answered by my previous comment is attributable to the brainwashing power of TV which is not discussed in polite company.

          Marcel said: “*statistics are more blatantly manipulated to make it appear nothing is amiss, while people are less numerate and able to see this”

          I would add that facts other than statistics are being blatantly manipulated at a rate necessary for extend and pretend.

          Marcel said: “*central banks are propping up capital and bond markets behind the scenes to the sole benefit of the financiers”

          I believe that they have even more nefarious intentions. Their hands are on all the levers so I believe that this is intentional to precipitate a global Shock Doctrine situation that will allow for further consolidation of global power and control, irrespective of current population rights for even existence.

          I agree with your closing statement also that this seems to be about control of all the marbles, to date.

  6. bmeisen

    Cockburn has the best commentary on Libya that I’ve read.

    http://www.counterpunch.com/

    Even with his skepticism about a human role in global warming he rewards readers abundantly. Few of the people I read achieve what he does, exceptions being Chomsky and Yves. Cockburn at his best:

    “By my count, the mighty armies contending along the highway west of Benghazi would melt into the bleachers at a college baseball game. News stories suggest mobile warfare on the scale of the epic dramas of the Kursk salient in World War Two. But most of the action revolves around one tank.”

    1. Michael H

      This is Alex Cockburn at his best.

      Continuing your quote from above:

      “.. most of the action revolves around one tank. I’ve seen it in hundreds of video feeds. Like the tooth passed from witch to witch in Greek myth, this tank performs many functions and to judge from the graffiti on its turret, it’s always the same vehicle.”

  7. GeneH3

    If the people of Wisconsin want a recall, they should vote one. If the recall fails, it will establish the majority’s approval for what the Governor has done. If it succeeds, The voters will get what they voted for . . ..

    1. James

      Thanks Cedric, but in the interest of fairness, this IS a fairly “sucky” link; you can’t watch this movie for more than a few seconds at a time without waiting for a refresh cue. Fair to say, we’re ALL living in a capitalist “paradise,” and you get what you pay for – no more, no less. Even if what you pay for indirectly bites the hand that feeds.

      Once again, I think Orwell had a thing or two to say about that, but I digress…

    2. Don Pelton

      The producer of “Inside Job” tells me that the copy of that film posted to archive.org is pirated. Here’s her email to me:

      “Susan Arons
      to “editor@sierravoices.com”
      cc “Michael Barker (michael_barker@spe.sony.com)” ,
      “Tom Bernard (tom_bernard@spe.sony.com)”
      date Sun, Apr 3, 2011 at 8:27 PM
      subject pirated version of INSIDE JOB
      hide details 8:27 PM (2 hours ago)
      To Whom It May Concern,

      The version of INSIDE JOB being offered via archives.org is neither bona fide or authorized. Someone has misled you. Please do not contribute to this misguided effort by writing about it. You can only imagine how upsetting it is to the filmmaker and all of the people who worked so diligently on this film to see their work misappropriated.

      I appreciate your understanding and support.

      Sincerely,

      Susan Arons
      Executive Vice President
      Rubenstein Communications”

  8. Ep3

    Yves, I am starting to seriously doubt that the wisconsin thing is gonna actually make a difference. And I know it’s not something that you generally focus on with this web blog.
    But think about it. The current political oligarchy wants to maintain the status quo and move it in their preferred direction. They don’t generally want to cause a fuss with the rabble so when they do things that piss us poor people off, they do it in stages or very slowly. So when walker decides to end collective bargaining, he probably already knew people would protest and be angry. So when something had to be done (to make it look like something was being done) to fight back by the opposition party (also controlled by the oligarchy) instead of that party taking a real stand, they pulled some congressional maneuver by leaving the state. This gives cover to walker and gives the fake appearance of the govt working for the people. So while out of the state, the protesters do their thing and all the other stuff people do. But after awhile, those subside except for the diehards, and then a “compromise” can b worked out that gives that sense of appeasing the rabble while inserting the shaft even deeper into the middle class.
    These protests were wonderful and for a second there was hope. But the reality is the oligarchs are totally in control. They make us vote for them and against our own interests. So they aren’t gonna let us fight against their “master plan”. I guess the only problem I have is that even bloggers do not face this reality and get caught up in the he said/she said and other back and forth rhetoric. Maybe sometimes they feel this should be assumed. But by assuming, bloggers/real reporters aren’t truly putting an issue in context and fully drawing the conclusions.

    1. Marcel

      Your analysis is correct. Collective bargaining in Wisconsin is another example of wasting the efforts of dissenters.

  9. Sundog

    Who could’ve imagined this? I’m absolutely certain beyond almost any reasonable doubt that in light of particular contingent circumstances and exigent parameters that US taxpayers are involved, if at all, only to the extent BWRUS Corp shareholders have been fully disclosed via their representatives on the board of said Broken Windows R US with respect to operations involving BWRUS LLC at last notice domiciled on the Isle of Mann.

    Bill Conroy, “U.S. Private Sector Providing Drug-War Mercenaries to Mexico”
    http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2011/04/us-private-sector-providing-drug-war-mercenaries-mexico

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