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Links 6/24/12

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Apologies for thin links….

There will be a Twitter Q&A tomorrow on the Moyers show segment with Matt Taibbi and yours truly, starting at 6:00 PM EDT and running till a bit past 6:30 PM. Per reader km4:

RT @MoyersStaff Join us Sunday at 6 PM ET as @mtaibbi & @yvessmith live tweet the @WNET & @wetatvfm broadcast of @BillMoyers. Ask questions: #moyersq&a

I’m told the hashtag for the chat itself is #moyers. I’ll be out with some folks from the OWS Alt Banking group, so my tweets will have a some quick input, particularly from Nathan.

Elephant Underpass Mark Thoma

America’s Top 5 Summer Swimming Holes GrindTV (Carol B)

Mysterious Mass Cattle Deaths May Be Caused By Random Grass Mutation We Are Austin (furzy mouse)

Greenpeace Launches ‘Unprecedented’ Campaign to ‘Save the Arctic’ Common Dreams (furzy mouse)

It Ain’t Over: The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades Huffington Post (Carol B)

Wikipedia is editorial warzone, says study Technolog

Turkey vows action against Syria Guardian

Greece Seeks At Least Two-Year Extension To Bailout Goals Bloomberg

And the Good Ship Greece Sails On: ‘Letter’ to an italian colleague Yanis Varoufakis

Bundesbank Swipes At Draghi As European Fault Lines Deepen Bloomberg

JPMorgan Deploys Former Regulators to Talk to Current Regulators POGO (A. G. Gelbert)

Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay New York Times. And remember, people lined up around the block to interview for these jobs.

Members of Congress trade in companies while making laws that affect those same firms Washington Post

Rate swap scandal: FSA review to reveal evidence of serious misselling Telegraph

Suggested Safeguards Irk Fund Industry Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Reviving Real Estate Requires Collective Action Robert Shiller, New York Times. I don’t see this solution (condemning mortgages) going anywhere. It would expose the insolvency of the big banks, hence both parties will move heaven and earth to stop it should any deals get done. And even if they do, this is also rife for corruption on the local level, plus you have PE funders who want their 2 and 20 first and know bupkis about loan underwriting. What could go wrong?

The Government Is Wasting The Only Real Effective Mortgage Plan Bruce Krasting. The structural unemployment meme is really overdone, but the letter in here is fun.

For Middle-Aged Job Seekers, a Long Road Back Wall Street Journal. Erm, this is news?

Antidote du jour:

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94 comments

        1. CB

          A skunk’s idea of minding its own business and your idea might differ: they do go about their business without intending to aggress but large unknowns blundering into their business will be summarily dealt with. Squirt first, don’t ask questions.

          I once nearly walked into a skunk convention. I was hustling along and not paying attention when a row of frozen cats caught my eye. Right in front of them were a row of backend first skunks. The cats were in that pose of OMG paralysis. Big eyed and leaning away. I stopped very short of disaster and waited until the skunks cleard out, which they did quickly. Some of the residents of the senior apartment complex fed the strays cats and the skunks didn’t at all mind helping themselves. Free meal, what the hell.

          Stray cats are a feature of apartment buildings whose residents think it’s a kindness to feed them. But it isn’t. They breed as you would expect and they den their litters in burrows they dig under the sidewalks. It is amusing to watch tiny kittens scuttle under the sidewalk without realizing their tiny tails are still sticking out of the burrow. And, of course, curiosity always gets the better of them, so in a minute or two, tiny heads pop out of the dens for a look-see. But the apartments and the cats would be better off if animal control were called in to do their thing.

          1. F. Beard

            Squirt first, don’t ask questions. CB

            Sure about that? What about pet skunks? Has anyone ever been brave enough to have one with the scent glands intact?

          2. CB

            Yes, absolutely. There is a biologist who studies them and keeps them as pets and subjects. Of course, he has no sense of smell. His veternarian wife does, tho. There was a documentary about him.

            There was also a documentary, maybe the same one, that interviewed a woman who keeps quite a few skunks, mostly discarded pets. They’re in her home and they’re not all deodorized. She offered a tip to get rid of unwanted tenants: skunks don’t like bass music. Crank up your boom box on heavy metal and let it play till they go away. Which they will.

            Most pet skunks are deodorized. Knew a woman who had one, Flower. Loved popcorn. Went everywhere with Peggy. Peggy would spread newspaper on the back seat of the car and let Flower pig out on popcorn. Flower finally escaped the backyard and Peg never found her.

    1. Ned Ludd

      When I was a kid, my teacher’s husband got sprayed by a skunk. It got stuck in their crawl space, it was making a lot of noise so they could not sleep, and animal control was closed. He decided to free the skunk himself – despite the certainty of getting sprayed.

      Unfortuantely, the shock of getting sprayed in the face caused him to open his mouth…

      It turns out that getting sprayed in the mouth by a skunk doesn’t poison you. But I don’t know if there’s anything you can do to get rid of the taste – maybe drink a lot of tomato juice.

  1. skippy

    Thanks for the Krasting link.

    RE: TheCowJune 22, 2012 9:56 AM

    Bruce-

    I love a lot of your stuff but every once in a while you go left wing socialist and start spouting nonsense. Let me get this straight – you want to encourage the government to intervene in private transactions and use it’s muscle to force an outcome favorable to its agenda. Are you f-ing crazy?

    “Bruce Krasting June 23, 2012 9:03 AM

    Well, I’m a Commie at heart. Sorry you didn’t like it.”

    Skippy… Help[!!!!] cant get off floor! Someone thinks Bruce is a commie OMGWTFMWMENTALBBQ!!!!

    PS. Bruce didn’t you know ignorance was a metal disorder? How they turn on you…eh.

    1. YesMaybe

      I stopped reading his posts sometime around the debt limit charade last year. He was trying to paint the republicans and the democrats as equally guilty, and presenting as a fact something false which he just made up. Now, I dislike the two parties and am under no illusions regarding the difference between them, but I draw the line at outright dishonesty. When I pointed it out, his response was to distract from his dishonesty by trying to paint me as a democrat.

      1. skippy

        I would not dismiss Bruce over a few points (his biggest being social entitlements… cough contracts with citizens) , he still has considerable experience and contacts.

        Skippy… My point (expressed in a state of fitful laughter) was some in the ZH mob were calling him commie. The commenter conflates government and private sectors acts so bad its not funny, but, truly is!

        PS. Some say, only real MEN can wear pink! Snort!

      2. kevinearick

        like most, I don’t agree w many of Bruce’s conclusions. like few, I think he’s an effective investigator, if that makes any sense.

        The law removes personhood from persons and transfers it to corporate…

  2. Ned Ludd

    Not sure how many people here visit Daily Kos – it’s a bad habit I have, to just marvel at the level of spin. Last week, Markos wrote that Daily Kos is now part of the establishment: “I’m saying there is no longer a distinction between most of the old-school progressive institutions and the netroots.”

    So Providence [Netroots Nation] couldn’t have been any more different than that original conference in Vegas in 2006. That original divide is now gone.

    Given his kind words for the C.I.A., the institution that once offered him a job, Markos will be a good fit as an establishment gatekeeper. “As an organization their heart is in the right place. I’ve never had any problem with the CIA. I’d have no problem working for them.

    1. CB

      Yeah, I’m with you. In non election years, I’ve had some good conversations at DKos but right now it’s an election mosh pit. All mindless, competitive manic energy. I notice a few cooler heads here and there, but the front page is saomething partisan to behold. The thing that gets me is the interchangeability of the headlines: for every Republican slammed, you could substitute a Democrat name. For every bomb dropped on Republicans, you could do likewise to the Democrats.

        1. Ned Ludd

          I had a Daily Kos account, but I haven’t logged in for a long time. After the health care fight, I realized that people like Cass Sunstein have more resources than I do.

          Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging…

          […]

          Consider the recent revelation that the Obama administration has been making very large, undisclosed payments to MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber to provide consultation on the President’s health care plan. With this lucrative arrangement in place, Gruber spent the entire year offering public justifications for Obama’s health care plan, typically without disclosing these payments, and far worse, was repeatedly held out by the White House — falsely — as an “independent” or “objective” authority. Obama allies in the media constantly cited Gruber’s analysis to support their defenses of the President’s plan…

          The payments, ironically, were originally noticed by a commenter at Daily Kos. Emptywheel and Firedoglake then drew public attention to them. Establishment liberals like Paul Krugman defended the payments and attacked Firedoglake; apparently, transparency is only important when Republicans are in power.

          The whole row showed me that establishment liberals stick together, and the netroots is mostly a propaganda arm for the liberal establishment.

          1. Ned Ludd

            @CB –

            I think the word liberal in the U.S., unfortunately, has come to mostly identify a group of people who support a war criminal and mass murderer as president:

            83% of liberals approve of Barack Obama’s job performance.
            Only 22% of liberals think Obama is too conservative. 67% think that that his ideology is about right.

            There is some more specific polling on liberal Democrats in particular. The majority of them now support an abrogation of due process, indefinite detention, and vast executive power. However, the 83% approval is among all liberals – Democrats and non-Democrats included.

            Most liberals in the U.S. no longer support liberal values. War is humanitarian. Freedom is a strong president. Ignorance is anyone who criticizes Obama.

            1. Lambert Strether

              True. “Liberal,” like “Democrat” (or “Conservative” (or “Republican”)) is just a tribal marker these days. “The narcissism of small differences,” as they used to call it, back in the day, when they were slaughtering each other in the Balkans.

          2. albrt

            Amen, especially to the 6:10 pm comment.

            But I still have a Kos account and I’m trying to put it to good use.

    2. neo-realist

      Given his kind words for the C.I.A., the institution that once offered him a job, Markos will be a good fit as an establishment gatekeeper. “As an organization their heart is in the right place. I’ve never had any problem with the CIA. I’d have no problem working for them.”

      Kos Ops?

  3. financial matters

    The perniciousness of derivative products (in this case interest rate swaps)..

    Rate swap scandal: FSA review to reveal evidence of serious misselling Telegraph

    “”A survey by Bully Bank, set up by victims of swap mis-selling, found nearly three-quarters of its members claim to have been forced to buy a swap by their lending bank as a condition of their loan.”"

    “”Banks have denied any wrong-doing, saying that they followed the rules on providing the swaps which were a hedge against interest rates rising. When interest rates collapsed in the wake of the financial crisis, many of the swaps became expensive to service”"

    “”small businesses such as chip shops, electrical stores and bed and breakfasts had been sold interest rate swaps despite not understanding how they operated.”"

    From Wikipedia.. guess who has the upper leg in these swaps..

    Being OTC instruments, interest rate swaps can come in a huge number of varieties and can be structured to meet the specific needs of the counterparties. For example, the legs of the swap can be in the same currency or in different currencies. The notional of the swap could be amortized over time. The reset dates of the floating rate could be non-regular, etc.

    The Bank for International Settlements reports that interest rate swaps are the largest component of the global OTC derivative market. The notional amount outstanding as of June 2009 in OTC interest rate swaps was $342 trillion, up from $310 trillion in Dec 2007. The gross market value was $13.9 trillion in June 2009, up from $6.2 trillion in Dec 2007.

    1. Ms G

      Shouldn’t we be as worried about this derivatives market as much, if not more, than turning banks into utilities? It’s one thing to stop banks from using depositor money to speculative via derivative positions (protects depositors), but if derivatives result in blow ups requiring states and taxpayers to backstop the losses of derivative bets (even if only “non-banks” are the bettors), shouldn’t the derivative market itself be eliminated or at least narrowed down to a utility-like level?

      1. financial matters

        I think so. I think it’s crazy to have such a large over the counter (non exchange traded) derivatives market. The banks make a lot of money here because of the coercion they have over clients since the clients need the loans. Also this is where they make commissions so they will naturally downplay the risks. The banks of course don’t want to see these regulated as they make a lot of money here (shooting fish in a barrel).

        The counterparties to all these derivatives are certainly unable to pay especially if we have another domino effect such as Lehman and AIG. The current derivative contracts should be unwound to prevent another major blow-up and future contracts should be highly regulated and made more transparent. It seems that a lot of British businesses are being effected here forcing the FSA to act. (They aren’t leaving enough fish in the barrel) The predatory nature of these contracts is being more widely understood.

        1. Ms G

          This makes good sense.

          And yes, these transactions are finally receiving more (outside the barrel) attention, though one waits and waits for decisive action by authorities on the US side of the Atlantic (probably also because regulators are happy to comply with requests to “don’t touch my barrel full of fishes”).

          The Taibbi expose on the nasty derivative swaps embedded in the municipal bond deals was very effective in bringing one angle of the derivatives market into public view.

  4. Shutterbuggery

    Cattle deaths…

    “The grass is a genetically modified form of Bermuda known as Tifton 85 ”

    “Preliminary tests revealed the Tifton 85 grass, which has been here for years, had suddenly started producing cyanide gas, poisoning the cattle.”

    Who woulda thunk it?

    1. tomk

      There are comments on the piece claiming that the grass is not GMO, but is simply a hybrid, and that there is a cyanide creating fungus that is probably responsible the deaths. Who knows?

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “had suddenly started” NO. Jesse’s vid on CHAOS tells us this is a lie. This “suddenly” point is the tipping point. The error happened much earlier on the timeline (until it “suddenly” became like a “ripe’ cataract, if you like similes).

      The CHAOS expert warns us how “suddenly” will come the moment when there is no ice in the Arctic sea, and then … you can guess the rest.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Two interesting points about this video interview:

      1. Notice the professor is the only one who has written a book on the subject (per the interviewer). “The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919″ (Mohammad Gholi Majd). Also, notice the professor claims there are no pictures from this era of mass starvation in Persia.

      The most likely reason is Britain actively covered up its policies and prevented the truth from getting out. This is consistent with British propaganda tactics of that era. I can’t find it now, but I previously read how the British restricted access and would not allow photographs of sensitive operations. I think it was somewhere at this excellent site about the British role in WWI: http://www.exulanten.com/hysteria.html

      2. The professor claims not to know if this was intentional policy by Britain. I would not be so reluctant to come to that conclusion. For instance, here’s Winston Churchill’s famous quote from that era about how he thinks Britain should conquer the people of Iraq:

      “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”

      There is little reason to think Churchill viewed the Persians as a civilised tribe that should not be poisoned or starved.

      Furthermore, it just takes a little bit of exploration at http://www.exulanten.com/hysteria.html to see British designs on Iran and Iraq before WWI. For instance, the British hostility toward the Baghdad to Berlin Railway: http://www.exulanten.com/bahn.html

      1. just me

        “…gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror…”

        Churchill a terrorist!

        On a sideways note, I just saw Disney’s “The Great Mouse Detective” from 1986, a mouse takeoff on Sherlock Holmes set in 1897. The Watsony character, Dr. Dawson, had just returned to London from service in Afghanistan, and it was the time of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. My head was spinning.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Good point. This is from the site I cite above:

          “Before hostilities even erupted, the British public had already been subjected to a decade of an intense pro-war propaganda campaign which whipped up war fever by breeding hatred toward Germany. British supremacist Rudyard Kipling was one of the leaders of the pack. In 1914, he along with other respected writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, John Masefield, William Archer, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy and H. G. Wells were secretly summoned by Charles Masterman of the War Propaganda Bureau to discuss ways of further promoting Britain’s interests during the war. Some of the men involved paid a high personal price for their war mongering efforts later. When Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the pamphlet, “To Arms!” in 1914, it was arranged for 55 year old Doyle to go the Western Front, and he served as a private throughout the war. Doyle wrote several other war books. His son, Kingsley Conan Doyle, joined the British Army, and after being wounded at the Somme died after developing pneumonia.” http://www.exulanten.com/cr5.html

          “In September, 1914, Masterman invited twenty-five leading British authors to discuss ways of best promoting Britain’s interests during the war. Those who attended included Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield, Ford Madox Ford, William Archer, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Gilbert Parker, G. M. Trevelyan, H. G. Wells and of course, Rudyard Kipling, inveterate Hun-hater and infamous apologist of the (British) colonial enterprise. All of the writers present at the conference were sworn to secrecy, and it was not until 1935 that their full activities became known to the public. Most had already been working for war. . . .

          Wellington House relied mainly on pamphlets in the first part of the war. Although it used the press more extensively later, pamphlets were still prioritized because it was hard to disguise the official nature of a press article. There was even a small charge for the pamphlets because, as one modern writer observes, “people do not like to think they would buy propaganda.

          They published over 1160 inflammatory pamphlets and books between 1914 and 1918 . . .” http://www.exulanten.com/events.html

          1. K Ackermann

            Have you ever read any US daily newspapers from the time of WWII?

            The coverage of the war was often extremely racist and included very colorful language gleefully describing massacres inflicted by the allies. You know… to boost moral at home.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        “THE BERLIN-BAGHDAD EXPRESS: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power” by Sean McMeekin (Harvard, 2010);

        “AARONSOHN’S MAPS: The Untold Story of the Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East” by Patricia Goldstone (Harcourt, Inc., 2007);

        “Lawrence and Aaronsohn: T.E. Lawrence, Aaron Aaronsohn, and the Seeds of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” by Ronald Florence (Viking, 2007).

        Behold the seeds planted that grew into the tipping point of chaos later.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Is it starvation with opium, as the British Empire “handled” the Chinese?

  5. Sam

    Loved Matt Taibbi’s comment “Some guy or gal sitting in a glass tower on Wall Street know these securities, products, and derivatives are crap and will blow up in six months or a year.”

    Bruce and Yves, where’s the windex?!? and do please tell us what a Republican president would do differently.

    1. proximity1

      He (the Republican Party president) would do this differently:

      Where, typically, Obama has done all manner of Neo-conservative policy stuff, then tried, lamely to excuse, explaining that much of the fault belongs to “his own party’s “Left-wing” while he, Obama, is “on our side”, with Romney, there’d be the policy stuff, period.

      No posturing, no blaming the pseudo-party’s non-existant “Left-wing,” no lame excuses, and no claims to “be on an average person’s side in the battle.”

      Just the brutal policy, unadorned by trivial BS.

      Is that progress? If you resent being lied to and flim-flammed, if you’d rather face a straight-forward adversary than have to compose yourself with a two-faced ‘ally,’ then, yes, that’s a sort of “progress.”

      Whenever the phony is replaced by the genuine, it’s a kind of progress.

      1. F. Beard

        Is that progress? If you resent being lied to and flim-flammed, if you’d rather face a straight-forward adversary than have to compose yourself with a two-faced ‘ally,’ then, yes, that’s a sort of “progress.” proximity1

        Yep, that would be the silver lining of a Romney win. Good point.

        As for me, I won’t support or vote for either major party. I hope the vote for 3rd parties plus those who don’t vote will be a massive show of a NON-MANDATE for both major parties. May both major parties be ashamed of themselves.

        1. CB

          They’re so far removed from the ordinary lives, they couldn’t care less. In any case, winning justifies everything.

          1. F. Beard

            Winning what?

            Unless he know’s what he’s doing the next President will not be treated kindly by history.

          2. CB

            Winning elections, winning elected offices. History? What history? You know what John Kennedy said when someone admonished him that history wouldn’t be kind if his womanizing were known: he replied that he wouldn’t care, he’d be dead then. As a stop on behavior, the judgment of history is much overrated.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      This is why Bushie could smirk: “Apres moi le deluge.” Surely he knew. Check out the neoconlibs long in gold “after Katrina” when flipping of blueprints called “property” reached its apotheosis of “chaos” suck in Florida (Gov. Jeb Bush’s stomping grounds. Profit is “all in the family.”)

    1. EH

      that popup ad on your site is annoying, and I didn’t read beyond it popping up. i figured whatever you had to say wasn’t very important if getting my email on a mailing list (or whatever) was more important.

  6. ambrit

    Dear WWM;
    Not to forget the “Concentratiobn Camps” used during the Boer War, or the massive artificial famine in Eastern India at the start of WWII. The list goes on and on. For that matter, what about the privation pushed upon the poorest Americans with the new Federally mandated social assistance budget cuts? Or, Heaven help us, the war on Food Stamps currently being waged by the reactionaries in Congress. As the saying goes; “Mediocre minds think alike.”

    1. ambrit

      Dear ambrit;
      Next time be more careful you berk! The above was in reply to Walter Wit Mans’ comment even further above.
      Love,
      Yourself

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Yeah. If you watch the 10 minute video interview above, they do discuss previous British-induced famines like those in China and in Ireland in the mid 1800s.

      8 million Persians is probably just the beginning if we tally up the dead from these policies.

      And yes, austerity policies may not be as obvious as they were in Persia during WWI, but they serve the same purpose.

      It’s interesting to note Britain and the U.S. still maintain starvation as a policy with regard to Iran and North Korea and Iraq under Saddam. The sanctions and economic warfare against Iran are intended to starve its people. Syria is undergoing the same starvation policies right now. Syria is also undergoing ethnic/religious cleansing as well. And terrorism.

      Basically the U.S./Britain/NATO/Israel are terrorizing the Syrian population. They are starving them. They are sending in terrorist to attack them. They are ethnically cleansing them. And they are subjecting them to terror by beaming in calls to genocide by terrorists.

      Not much has changed. The West is fixing to slaughter millions more and yet still the media and politicians tell us it’s the wily Persians that are to blame.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      FEMA wants to know: “Have you ever received food stamps?” Fate follows.

  7. Ep3

    Yves, in regards to the “outstanding” wages low rung apple employees make, I also think its important to look at how those profits affect the community the stores reside in. Each time an iPad is sold, part of that revenue leaves the community and goes to Cupertino. So at the end of the day, the community has less wealth. And if this community is made of all chain stores, each mega corporation is taking a piece of that community’s wealth, like someone said, a giant squid sucking wealth and prosperity out of local communities and into corporate accounts, then distributed to CEOs and other large shareholders. Which would lead the capitalist to say “well, if someone owned stock, they would receive those rewards”. But owning 25 shares of a stock is not the same as $570 million in stock options, like Tim cook got.
    And what happens in the community? You have more people with less funds fighting for a smaller and smaller portion of what’s left of the community’s wealth. And since we live in a society that won’t recognize losses, zombie companies continue on just to keep from confronting the enivitable. And this drives down wages in the community as “temporary” cutbacks are made to wages and benefits, with the belief that once they get over a temporary hump, all will return to the glory days.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Ep3;
      I see the results of that dynamic all around me where I work. Higher stress levels, some deliberately imposed by Corporate, (new more agressive ‘metrics’ for sales floor workers to meet, “or there will be negative consequences.”) Lower renumeration; our company just announced the reversal of yet another “Employee Purchase Discount.” Senior corporate members suddenly ‘retiring’ early, with huge stock options in hand (with which to loot yet more value out of the company.) A new pronunciamento that employees cannot post comments about the company in outside media, since we have sufficient internal avenues for airing and resolving questions about where our company is going. While, in one reply to a mini-rant about how “[Our Company] is turning into Wal Mart!” the respondent querries, “I wonder if this character will have a job tomorrow?” Then, the entire post suddenly disappears! The Ministry of Truth in action.
      I’m going to try and find my copy of the ‘Writings of Thomas Paine’ and re-read that bit about The Tree of Liberty.
      Hoo boy, was I ever wrong. A little checking showed me that the Tree of Liberty quote, the one Timmy McViegh wore on his tee shirt when he (alone, if you can believe that,) blew up the Oklahome City federal building, really originated with Thomas Jefferson!
      Compare the American Founding Fathers with the present bunch of politicos. Depressing, isn’t it.

    1. ambrit

      Mr. Strether;
      Since we no longer have a Wild West in reality to run off to when the Evil East becomes too much to bear, a new, more sinister Financial Wild West has been created to distract us. This time, the Sheriff has learned the lesson of the Old Wild West, and pretends to be the Hero, all the while being, as usual, in the Rich Mans’ pocket. The nascent Comittee of Vigilence, whipsawed and baffled, has so far failed to rise to the occasion. Give it time. Nothing lasts forever.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      No, they just need retraining.

      Say 100 push ups a day and 1000 less calories. That should revive their joie de vivre.

      1. ohmyheck

        A 1000 less calories? But then you are taking profits from the likes of Starbucks, where those employees go to buy their mocha caramel frappachino whipped latte. Gotta keep the barristas employed. Sheesh…

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Older workers (under the age of Medicare) are probably clamoring for Starbucks “associate” positions. Do they still offer decent health care after 30 hours a week or something?

          But now that you mention it older workers are prone to hitting the deck, so maybe we should just stay the course and keep subsidizing the American McDiet of abundant cheap calories. Instead of Victory gardens Obama is giving us $1-an-item fast food menus.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        Or maybe it’s esprit de corps I’m looking for?

        Whatever.

        Congress and the president are filling older workers up with some french sounding shit.

        Hopium.

      3. MS G

        WWM … Facepalm! You reminded me of “Retraining”, the neoliberal party-line lobbed back at critics of NAFTA, Global Markets, mass U.S. unemployment.

        In our current emergency-levels of unemployment and disemployment, I have been wondering how the retraining programs went for all the workers who were laid off in the US as a direct result of NAFTA and Globalist Policy.

        Anyone on this blog know if studies were done to track the success of retraining? What the real numbers were/are in terms of laid off workers getting new jobs and at what pay levels? (Not a rhetorical query.)

    1. lambert strether

      Well, that’s appalling. The lead is pretty good, but I thought this was interesting:

      The CME Group, which is both the largest commodities and futures exchange and also regulates many brokers, told me this week that when MF Global collapsed last year, four of the 40 firms it oversees were still using an “alternative” calculation of customer assets that vastly understates what firms actually owe. A spokeswoman declined to name them, saying such information was confidential. In my view, they should all be identified publicly so their customers can demand reassurances that the practice has stopped — and that their assets are safe.

      My first thought was that customers should simply remove their assets from all such firms, and the exchange that’s so poorly regulated, too. My second thought was “they had no place to go.”

      Am I on target with either?

      1. MS G

        Lambert, that is my read too and was assuming that the piece would end with a punchline like “customers have nowhere to go.” It wasn’t there. The fellow who is leading up the MFG customers is doing yeoman’s work in a very nasty “white glove” conflict.

      2. MS G

        Actually, if I were a customer at any CME-regulated dealer I would be demanding disclosure of the calculations under the baseline formula from the regulator and from the broker.

        It’s not dissimilar to the plight of many “retail investors” in the equities markets whose only option is to invest thru mutual funds. The nasty web of conflicts, self dealing and hidden fees is not information available (in the real world) to any individual “retail inquiring pipsqueak”.

        1. CB

          I don’t know about studies, but some years ago I read an opinion piece by a man who must have some juice because he described himself as having sat on many a committee/board devoted to employment and retraining and he was forced to conclude that retraining doesn’t work. He didn’t know why, but it doesn’t and the discussions and agencies and appointed commissions are bunk. Most of the people considering the “issue” are well intentioned, but nothing they propose or implement works. I wonder if part of the problem is an employment environment running on fumes: America doesn’t generate jobs, anymore. It’s a function of the socioeconomic environment.

          1. Ms G

            It is possible (probable?) that the “retraining” mantra was simply ploy — a program on paper (with a couple of meetings and commissions to “discuss” the issue) created only to appease opposition until NAFTA (and related) legislation passed.

            In which case, none of the “owners” of the retraining policy would have much interest in following through on the actual fates of the 100,000s of workers who abruptly lost their jobs to NAFTA-facilitate wage-arbitrage.

          2. CB

            As I recall, the article pre-dated NAFTA and his experience in that capacity stretched over some years. Every time unemployment rises to levels that the public notices, the retraining theme song swells up. It’s a recurring meme and at 68, I’ve seen the exhortations many times. Predictable and useless. America isn’t creating living wage jobs. The “uptick” in employment? In what sector, low wage, no benefit, dead end? Anyone who paid attention to the lower economic levels knows this wage-benefit cram down has been going on for 40 years, but now the compounded effect is sinking the credit raft the middle class had been floating on.

        2. CB

          Sorry about that. I was replying to Mrs. G at 3:11 PM. Boy, the political idiocy virus has mutated and it’s spreading.

        3. LeonovaBalletRusse

          The putsch for Mutual Fund “investment” by the masses full-steam by 1990. “Brokers” directed customers there to stoke the feed bins for traders to play with for House profit. “Institutional” money became raw material for finance factory, which went exponential when MF “investment” in derivatives became “legal.”

          1. Ms G

            “Putsch” to mutual funds = Operation Tens of Millions of Fish in the Barrel to give Organized Finance infinite amounts of Other People’s Money to skim, slice, dice, loot .

            But for mutual fund retail investors, no “make whole rescue packages.” I wonder often: how are those who lost average 40% in savings accounts (mostly mutual funds) different than AIG’s counterparties who got 100 cents on the $1 (from the retail investors, bag-holder wage-earners) when they had bet on “red” and lost? Make-whole is just for “counterparties.” Can I put one of those in my savings account?

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Apple – it feels like a religion, the fervent faith of its woshippers.

    I think as a religion, it and its leaders should be tax-exempt.

      1. F. Beard

        And Adam’s too, of course.

        I sometimes wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t gone along?

    1. Jim

      Disney was like that at one time. I know people who turned down Goldman to work in the strat planning department of Disney, at a much lower salary.

  9. Max424

    Link to the Moyers, Smith, and Taibbi interview is first up over at Greenwald’s place.

    Cool. Smith and Taibbi make a formidable duo. I think they should have their own show –call it The Reality Hour or something. A sane, well-informed twosome shed’s light on the day’s globe-altering criminal events.

    They finish each others deepest inner thoughts they’re so in sync. Watch, or remain an unenlightened ignoramus … of the first order.

    Also, Greenwald links to a concise Dave Thomas TED talk on global warning. What I found most interesting in the talk; Thomas concludes halfway thru that climate change scientists badly misread the sanity levels of global leadership, and this scientific naiveté has played a large part in a great undoing.

    Note: Get this, scientists believed that by issuing unassailable warnings of an imminent rise in global temperatures of 2 degrees, they would rightly scare the shit out of everybody, including the presidents, prime ministers and other powerful actors that have the greatest influence over the future of our species.

    Giggle!!! Hey scientists, newsflash! The insane people that would gladly burn up countless worlds in the pursuit of profit, are the same, insane people that are in charge, of everything.

    And that definitely includes most of the insane, global, neo-liberal political leadership that we, the lesser 7 billion people of this planet, are recently and unwillingly forced to share.

  10. Cap'n Magic

    Obama has been hitting me up for a donation now for the past few weeks in my email. I found a place on his website for comments. I made my case in 7 points, we’ll see if I get a response back.

    1. CB

      I’ve scored off several tin cup appeals. My replies are forthright, even rude, I suppose, so they mayn’t get a careful read. But it makes me feel great!

  11. bulfinch

    Dammit! RE: the link about killer grass: I just recently lost my highly loved, highly robust and interactive cat of ten years to a sudden mystery illness here in Austin. Nobody could diagnose her despite a battery of tests. I’m now wondering if the grass she ocassionally grazed might have been the culprit…

  12. Elliot

    Re: cattle & cyanide… I’m skeptical it was a pure stand of bermuda grass…unless the Tifton is a complex hybrid with sorghum (seems really unlikely!) or indiangrass (can also produce cyanide).

    And I also doubt your Moggy died due to cyanide from grass; cattle kills like that are usually because they are ruminants (in this case, the cyanide develops in their rumen)—- cats don’t digest in the same fashion. For example, sweet grass when rotting breaks down to coumarin containing compounds, which cause bleeding (think: rat poison) but only in ruminants or if animals are fed moldy grass; cats and dogs are unaffected by fresh sweet grass.

    Plus, cows eat a LOT of grass, hugely more than a cat would, per body weight.

    If your kitty ate onions or garlic, though, that would have been likely fatal. Or lilies. All three can look like grasses… in any event, sorry about your cat.

  13. surf brands

    Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa? My blog goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Superb blog by the way!

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