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Links 7/23/11

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Bear Okay After Three Weeks With Its Head in a Jug Gawker (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

The Price is…ummm….errrr…. Wrong (Part 2) Cassandra. Criminey, I still get meds from Oz and figured I might go there if I needed something expensive done, but France is closer and might even be better for medical tourism (hmm, John Hempton’s father rents apartments in Paris….maybe he can be persuaded to extend his business scope and provide vetted medical referrals…)

Small amounts of antibiotics generate big problem Medical Press (hat tip reader Robert M)

The euro crisis will give Germany the empire it’s always dreamed of Telegraph (hat tip reader Lee S)

Willem Buiter: The EU must increase the size of its bailout fund Ed Harrison

The Afghan misadventure Financial Times. Reader Lee S highlights this quote:

We asked a top Nato officer to define success in terms of the mission. The tongue-in-cheek response was instructive: “When Afghanistan becomes like any other normal third-world basket case.”

Parliamentary Funk Foreign Policy (hat tip reader Paul S)

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET (hat tip reader Diego Méndez). As much as I am a big fan of making life miserable for Big Finance, I don’t see this having a snowball’s chance in hell of working in Wall Street. The terrain is all wrong. The advantage of demonstrating in a square is the surface to mass ratio: you have a crowd at the center and a specific perimeter to defend, and you can communicate reasonably well (people in the center can see a fair bit of the field of action if they get only slightly elevated, say stand on a car). The long narrow streets of Lower Manhattan prevent any massing. And there are a fair number of subway stops which police could use to emerge in the center of the protests.

Barack Obama is Gutting the Core Principles of the Democratic Party Glenn Greenwald, Common Dreams (hat tip reader G3)

It’s so gratifying to leave you wallowing in the mess you’ve made One Salient Oversight

Financial Sector Helps Barack Obama Score Big Money for Re-election Fight Open Secrets (hat tip Mark Ames). Key sentence:

One-third of the money Obama’s elite fund-raising corps has raised on behalf of his re-election has come from the financial sector, according to a new Center for Responsive Politics analysis.

Drop in liberal support pushes Obama approval rating down CNN (hat tip Debra C)

U.S. House Stops Voting for Week With No Action to Keep FAA Operating Bloomberg

Dodd-Frank Backers Clash With Regulator New York Times

Elizabeth Warren Makes It Personal Atlantic (hat tip reader Michael Thomas)

Koch, Exxon Mobil Among Corporations Helping Write State Laws Bloomberg (hat tip reader May S)

States negotiating immunity for banks over foreclosures Reuters (hat tip reader Mary). This is heinous, and I may sputter about this yet again (it’s tiring to have to keep harping on the blatant effort by AG Tom MIller to give away the store to banks. He should be in jail).

Save the Gambling Bankers Michael Hudson

Antidote du jour:

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41 comments

  1. Sock Puppet

    Thanks for the Cassandra healthcare link. I’ve lived in the UK, Holland and the US and have had medical treatment in all three plus France and Switzerland. My experiences match the author’s. Holland and Switzerland are comparable to France. If I try to explain this to folks here, I’m told it’s all socialized medicine and that US healthcare is the best. People confuse quantity with quality. Change would require a change in Americans attitude towards healthcare and to each other.

    1. Sock Puppet

      Remember that the slogan of the French revolution was “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality”. That statue in New York harbor celebrates only the first of these. The healthcare system too.

  2. Schofield

    Massive disillusionment with both the Republican and Obama’s right-wing policies has set the scene where neither money nor charisma could be the deciding factor to secure electoral victories. A middle-of-the-road Democratic presidential election challenger to Obama may in fact find the running very easy by not being a right-wing representative of the rich. Indeed the slogan “Pamper the Rich – Vote D or R” may not turn out to be true.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Any primary challenger to Obama will be denied air time. Regardless of popularity or ability to pay. They will be shut out, as “third party” candidates are always shut out.

      The solution is to get outside the system as a whole. The solution is a Constitutional Convention, held someplace like Denver.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Dave,

      Since the Mile High City now has more cannabis dispensaries than Starbucks coffee shops, I concur that Denver would be an excellent place for a ConCon.

      *blows aromatic smoke ring and laughs maniacally*

  3. psychohistorian

    Nice set of links today, Yves……in a sick sort of way.

    I don’t want you to get a heart attack by the increasing cognitive dissonance we are forced to experience so take care of yourself. Lots of people should be in jail that are not and it seems to be getting worse instead of better. I think that this is reflective of the end stage of our current “political economy”.

    I continue to be discouraged by the lack of understanding that the inherited rich own the banks that are giving all that money to Obama to keep the current meme afloat. If that arrangement does not change in the next upheaval then it will just be a matter of time before more sociapaths hired by the rich to control and bleed the masses for their pleasure. If the incentives that control our interactions are not made humanistic then devolution is our path.

    Not much fun to watch when you see all this human pain for sick reasoning about sharing that was never learned on the playground of everyones youth.

  4. Paul Tioxon

    The dire warning from the Telegraph concerns the deepening of political integration of Europe, to include a fiscal structure tying the monetary Zone together with a central taxation authority. This from a British oracle who brings up the specter of Empire, the English word for Reich. I might also add that the Germans had a Kaiser, which is a variant on Caesar, who turned the Roman Republic into an Empire by becoming Imperator for Life. This is also from a subject of the completely liquidated former British Empire.

    What you have in Europe, is the exact opposite of the policies that the British Crown has pursued for its exclusive benefit for centuries. Following the example of and at the instance of the United States, The United Nations with its commensurate global agencies, including the IMF and The World Bank began the process of nation building, under the dominance of the US and its allies. The Atlantic Charter and its signatories express a declaration of intent for the post WWII social order. The amalgamation of the various core and now periphery nation states of Europe, into a more perfect union, has been a gradual process. It seems it is about to cross another one of those bright lines, one of political integration through submission to a centralized taxation. It is not enough to have an easy breezey consumer experience with the Euro, the common currency is leading to some now obvious needs to further political integration to a state of affairs beyond the mere contractual where the Euro is a service provided by a vendor that you can fire at will.

    Abraham Lincoln expressed this understanding in his first inaugural speech. The relation of government with its constituent states as in America, is different than a business arrangement of parties brought together in an association via a contract. A government is a perpetual state of human affairs, that does not provide for its liquidation, otherwise, it would not be sovereign unto to itself. If Europe is to have a Eurozone, it will have to expand into the full capacities of nation, just a nation of states, and not a nation state. This will include a central taxing authority and the ability to redistribute tax revenues as needed throughout the nation. Even if it goes from Germany to Greece. The bankers alienation of national assets aside for the moment. Just as the American Articles of Confederation were too weak to produce a proper government that could fully function, that is, finance public projects and pay its debts, the common currency is not enough due to economic integration via world capitalism. Commensurate political integration to allow states to function in the world capital markets is now required to enjoy the efficiencies that a common currency brings. One structural change requires others, so that the whole can function, the whole being, the capital markets and the states of the emerging European Nation.

    It wasn’t until the financial crashes in an earlier Europe, forged an alliance of the Crown and the Merchants of England. It was apparent to the financier and merchant, Thomas Gresham for England to be more powerful and he wealthier, his kingdom would have to decouple from the power of Amsterdam.

    From “THE LONG 20TH CENTURY” BY GIOVANNI ARRIGHI, 2010 EDITION: P.195…”Gresham began building a bourse in London in imitation of Antwerp’s stock and commodity exchanges with the declared intent of making England independent of foreign ‘nations’ both in trade and credit.”

    Upon completion of this task, he requested that Queen Elizabeth not use any strangers or foreigners, but her loyal subjects, she complied and named it the Royal Exchange.

    “It took decades before the Royal Exchange could actually satisfy the financial needs of the English government, and it took more than 2 centuries before London could rival Amsterdam as a central money market of the European world economy. But the stabilization of the Pound in 1560-61 and the subsequent establishment of the Royal Exchange, to paraphrase Max Weber, marked the birth of a new kind of ‘memorable alliance’ between the power of money and the power of the gun. It marked the beginning of nationalism in high finance.”

    And English nationalism, now jealousy at the growing political integration of Europe into a United States like continental power, will of course relegate England to a permanent diminutive status in global affairs, monetary and otherwise.

    1. Cedric Regula

      So… you’re saying the currency is about to create a New Sovereign?

      Genesis. I was wondering where those came from.

    2. Susan the other

      England, the UK, has been a survivor for such a long time, until cooperation made more sense than divide and conquer. D & Q is now medieval. Its just too expensive. They really should reconsider joining up with the European Union and give up on being the most successful off-shore island in history. It was a good run.

      1. Cedric Regula

        Except that I’ve heard some englishmen, being highly taxed already, are a bit squeamish about the idea of being the subjects of another supra sovereign taxing authority – The United Kingdoms of Europe.

        Small may be a better way to go in the New World. Except that the EU would likely exclude anyone that doesn’t play along when it comes to granting favorable trade tariffs.

  5. LJR

    It’s my understanding that the ideogram for “animals” in Chinese means, “things that move with uses.” When the rich and powerful become “world citizens” and lose any connection with the cultural stories of the common people it’s to be expected that they will view people exactly as the Chinese view animals.

    It is always worth considering that single cell life existed on this planet for nearly 2 billion years before finding a way to collaborate in multicellular entities. The problems involved were immense. It’s amazing we’re here at all.

    To think that “culture” or “the stories we tell each other” is a strong enough glue to allow us to create a collective entity that “serves” our individual interests is ridiculous.

    We are not organized by our stories any more. Our technology and, in particular, computers, are forging the bonds that cement us into the existing power structures. It appears to be a system that is “differential” rather than “integral.” By that I mean our systematic (read “wall street physicist traders”) tendency is to find arbitrage opportunities in time scales that make the blink of an eye seem like a geological event. Investing in the power grid would be an “integral” policy since it allocates capital to serve the long term interests of the country. The differential approach requires no consensus whereas the integral approach nearly always does. A bad smelling little dweeb with Birkenstocks can sit in a Manhattan pill box in front of his glowing screens and execute a differential strategy with complete control. He couldn’t get a dam built if his life depended on it.

    If you will recollect from The Calculus, differentiation is always easier than its inverse operation of integration. Computers and the fiber optic communication systems tend to speed things up and make possible the exploitation of opportunities to position oneself between trades and take a skim in a manner unthinkable fifty years ago.

    The system is deconstructing itself in this manner. These differential operations do not, I’m sad to report, produce better living conditions for the majority of us. Indeed, they do quite the opposite. And, while story telling is a messy business with fuzzy truth lines, it’s all we have as human creatures to relate to each other. That’s why religions continue to exist, after all. The logic of Aristotle will bring us to a very bad end I’m afraid.

    The teach was trying to explain subtraction to Johnny, a young farm boy. She wasn’t making much headway and decided to give Johnny an example he could understand. “Johnny, if you have ten sheep in a fenced pasture and one of them finds a hole in the fence and goes through it, how many sheep do you have left?” Johnny thought about that for a bit and said, “None.” The teacher responds, “No, Johnny. You’d have nine sheep left.” Johnny looks her straight in the eye and says, “Teacher, you may know arithmetic but you sure don’t know sheep.”

    1. Susan the other

      Thanks LJR. Give us a few more like this one. Its because sheep move with purpose. And besides, they know when you have breast cancer, or some other malady. Sheep are cool.

    2. John Merryman

      I’ve been making similar points in physics discussions, where pattern has completely overwhelmed process. We need to understand that math is a modeling of physical processes, not the basis for them. If math isn’t applied, then it doesn’t exist, because it is a multiple of zero. There is no Platonic realm of math underlaying reality.
      One point is that time is the process by which the future becomes the past, not a vector from past to future. As in the earth doesn’t travel the fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates. Physics tries to incorporate the narrative timeline into fundamental theories and has about as much success as incorporating the sun moving around the earth, rather than the earth rotating relative to the sun. The idea that there is a real geometry of spacetime, with all the increasingly bizarre ideas based on it, from an expanding universe, to wormholes through spacetime, is on a par with those giant cosmic gearwheels, used to explain the clockwork precision of epicycles.
      The fact is that perspective is subjective. We are the multiworlds. When one tries to combine multiple perspectives, the mathematical complexity quickly goes parabolic. Not only does this set increasingly strong limits on what can be perceived from any one perspective, but it begins to explain the difficulties we have in maintaining complex societies. The resulting tendency is for multiple perspectives to coalesce into one. The results are constantly shifting centers of attraction which distort the space around them and compete with one another.
      Physicists could be doing quite a good job explaining politics, instead they are contemplating multiverses. Talk about going off on a tangent.

    3. Larry Headlund

      `the ideogram for “animals” in Chinese means, “things that move with uses.”’

      Not that I can see. In particular the hanzi for “domestic animal” is 畜. The radical here is the one for field, as in farm field, which shouldn’t be surprising.

  6. hoipolloi

    “#OCCUPYWALLSTREET

    geez for all you budding anarchist hipsters out there, if you wanna occupy anything, avoid massing in Manhattan. 40,000 NYPD can easily choke off bridges/tunnels with plenty leftover to perimeter off Central Park or Times Sq or any other gathering point.

    1. psychohistorian

      One wonders if these ideas are cooked up by folks that WANT to misdirect the emerging energy…….

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I forgot to mention how they impeded demonstrations against the Iraq War. They kept people IIRC west of 2nd Avenue very effectively when the intent was to converge on the UN. Of course, police interference didn’t make the MSM. And this was on a bitterly cold day, so the weather was already thinning turnout.

    3. David

      I would like to suggest that if you want to impress the banksters on Wall Street that you show up outside of the restaurants where they dine and outside of the schools where their children are in attendance or at the homes of their close personal friends.

      Signs addressing your concerns would be nice but torches and nooses will make your points better understood.

      1. Glenn Condell

        We need to know who they are first. No good showing up at posh eateries or kindergartens on the assumption that anyone who can afford them must be a bankster or other form of shyster. Some of the gains paying for them are not ill-gotten. It’s too unfocussed.

        On the other hand those other rich, the non-FIRE types, are free riding on the activities of the fraudsters so perhaps they’re fair game.

        Part of the reason the elite can keep steamrolling us is their relative anonymity. They are hiding in plain sight and I read somewhere the other day that a survey found a majority of the rich fear being attacked by victims of the depression they are profiting so handsomely from. If they remain nameless they have nothing to fear so the first step ought to be to ID them.

        They say roughly 150 000 make up the top 0.5 in the US and about 50 000 in UK. There should be some central database run by an Assange 2.0 where this info can be dumped. Anyone on the list may apply to be removed and if they are bona fide they can return to anonymous luxury but only after they publicly affirm a few selected commitments to the commons and to be active in genuine reform.

        And then I woke up.

  7. Susan the other

    If the banks have all but admitted wrongdoing, or dumbdoing, but are still willing to go to court to avoid liability, we are in an amusing situation. Jamie Dimon said mortgages were an “unmitigated disaster.” Why is he so willing to speak the truth? Because he knows the courts will not find intention to defraud. They won’t even find irrational exhuberance. Well, maybe if they look at Bear Stearns they might find some felonies, but nothing on that so far. So here’s the deal: Bernanke isn’t going to do anything because if he cries incompetence and then dishes out another 2 trillion to the banks it will look funny. We need an act of Congress. Those clowns will have to perform.

    The Banks will admit to causing an unmitigated disaster but they will not admit to any wrongdoing! Congress will nullify all mortgages and grant quiet title to all real estate. Including those owners who think they have paid off their mortgages. (Because they cannot prove this.) This will be a bill to restore the integrity of the land title recording system. MERS will be outlawed.

    The loans, now unsecured, can be renegotiated if the ownership interest can be clearly proven. If it cannot, no problem. The mortgage simply cannot be satisfied if the interest cannot be proven because that would once again screw up the chain of title.

    So, next the investors. The Fed, because it is the responsible regulator, along with the lovely SEC, will negotiate a settlement with the investors.

    Then to prove their contrition, the Banks will once again be allowed to handle, for a fee, the investors’ restitution.

    The taxpayer will be on the hook.

    But the taxpayer will receive a better economy. The Banks will once again loan. There will again be construction jobs in the housing industry. Real estate will again be bought and sold.

  8. Jim Haygood

    From Bloomberg’s article about the FAA:

    The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will halt some operations at midnight after the House of Representatives and Senate adjourned today without agreeing on legislation to extend the agency’s authority.

    The disagreement means the FAA has to furlough as many as 4,000 workers tomorrow and stop collecting about $200 million a week in airplane-ticket and other taxes until it is resolved.

    Airlines won’t be allowed [sic] to collect taxes on ticket sales until the impasse is resolved.

    I burst out laughing at the journo’s bizarro-world notion that airlines are ‘allowed’ to collect taxes (as opposed to being forced at FAA gunpoint to collect them).

    Given that obnoxious taxes can comprise half the cost of an international ticket, this sounds like a window of freedom to fly at half price.

    Let’s blow out of this crummy joint!

  9. Susan the other

    About superbugs, antibiotic resistance and the persistence of fluoroquinolones: All antibiotics which persists in our watershed cause this problem. Not just Cipro. We must use these medicines because the alternative is too gruesome. But we should be putting all our money into the next problem. The genetic modification of our germ enemies. Let us make them our fellow travelers. Peace and love. As long as we remain vigilant.

  10. Hugh

    What Obama has done, he has accomplished with the backing of Democratic officeholders. Yet despite this, most Democrats continue to support him and whatever elected Democratic representative they may have. It is a very screwed up situation but pointing the finger just at Obama lets too many others off the hook.

    Re Afghanistan, we should have been gone by June 2002. We have no policy reason to keep 100,000 troops there. The saying is that Afghanistan is the place empires go to die. I think this misses the point. If an empire finds itself there, on the far side of nowhere, then it is already overextended and on its downward course.

  11. carping demon

    The fighting giraffes offer a whiff of integrity as antidote to the rest of these links, especially the facial expression of the lower, I believe attacking, individual.

  12. psychohistorian

    Yves,

    When I first started reading your site and commenting I was referring to our government as fascist and was “told” that it isn’t fascism but some new word like corporatocracy or some such.

    Can we call it out and out fascism now? I say this because I believe that this is a term that has meaning to the masses where the other word does not. Along with that meaning I believe that there is emotion that can be tapped to stop this immorality.

    I think that all “progressive” blogs should start hammering on the public with the fascist term and force the PTB to explain how they are not fascist.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ve preferred to call it Mussolini style corpocracy, simply because most people will get that that’s a form of fascism. The big “isms” (communism, socialism, fascism) are so overused in public discourse that I think they’ve lost their punch.

      But what is happening now is clearly fascism, even if we don’t have brownshirt as enforcers.

      1. Benedict@Large

        You forgot “MarxISM” on your list, and OF COURSE they are overused. The right wing has deliberately been trying to depower the political dialog for well over a decade now, knowing that if the real meanings of these words were actually widely known and share, resistance to their insanities would be more easily organized.

        Jebus, Yves, even Winston Smith knew that! :-)

  13. evodevo

    I end all my economically-oriented emails with this quote – “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini

  14. Foppe

    Not sure to what extent people here have been following the unfolding of the mass killing in Norway, but the perpetrator released a ~1500p document, in which he says quite a few things, and which includes a detailed log of his activities.
    I suspect more news will be coming out later, so I won’t link to it here, but it really makes for macabre reading.
    The guy is quite intelligent, and believes in a very curious mixture of distorted truths supplemented with his own research (of sorts). For instance, he calls pretty much everything that happened post-WW2 “cultural Marxism” (guess he didn’t read the shock doctrine, but anyway), yet at the same time he blames national socialism for being imperialist and losing WW2
    To quote a bit:

    I have been thinking about my post-operational situation, in case I survive a successful mission and live to stand a multiculturalist trial. When I wake up at the hospital, after surviving the gunshot wounds inflicted on me, I realize at least for me personally, I will be waking up to a world of shit, a living nightmare. Not only will all my friends and family detest me and call me a monster; the united global multiculturalist media will have their hands full figuring out multiple ways to character assassinate, vilify and demonize. They will possibly do everything they can to distort the truth about me, KT and our true objectives, and attempt to make even revolutionary conservatives detest me. They will label me as a racist, fascist, Nazi-monster as they usually do with everyone who opposes multiculturalism/cultural Marxism. However, since I manifest their worst nightmare (systematical and organized executions of multiculturalist traitors), they will probably just give me the full propaganda rape package and propagate the following accusations: pedophile, engaged in incest activities, homosexual, psycho, ADHD, thief, non-educated, inbred, maniac, insane, monster etc. I will be labeled as the biggest (Nazi-)monster ever witnessed since WW2.

    I guess it is tempting for the many who have endured years of vilification, to just start believing the propaganda and embrace NS fully. However, I remain a staunch anti-Nazi and I blame NSDAP for the situation we are in. Hadn’t it been for the actions of the cultural right wing extremists known as the NSDAP our Western European countries would not be dominated by the cultural Marxist extremist regimes we witness today. If the NSDAP had been isolationistic instead of imperialistic(expansionist) and just deported the Jews (to a liberated and Muslim free Zion) instead of massacring them, the anti-European hate ideology known as multiculturalism would have never been institutionalized in Western Europe, because the Marxists would never have been so radicalized to begin with. The cultural conservatives would have been in a very strong and dominant situation today. Western European countries would have had cultural conservative doctrines similar to what we see in Japan and South Korea.

    1. Benedict@Large

      What you’ve posted here is a stunning display of a manic depression state called hypermania. I suspect we will find he is something of a loner, for which we are lucky. The manic in a hyper episode, if placed in a crowd, will quickly develop a large following of dedicated believers; literally, an army of followers willing to emulate his craziness. Think of Jim Jones or Charles Manson, if you want a good examples you are more familiar with.

  15. Cedric Regula

    File: Why We Do Things

    Debt Crisis: Quick deficit deal framework sought to head off stock plunge

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/us-debt-crisis-deal-sought-to-head-off-global-stock-plunge/articleshow/9341948.cms

    “House Speaker John Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans in a conference call after Saturday’s meeting that he hoped to be able to announce a “viable framework for progress” by 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) on Sunday, before the stock markets open in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, according to two participants.”

    1. Hugh

      Whether it is Boehner or Obama, both have a “F*ck the people, serve the markets and those who own them” attitude.

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