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Links 9/9/12

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Ice melting takes some thought… Angry Bear

The Tragedy of the European Union and How to Resolve It George Soros, NYRB (MS)

Germany faces ECB backlash FT (RS)

How to Find Weeds in a Mortgage Pool Gretchen Morgenson, Times

A Stinging Rebuke of the DOJ on Access to Counsel at Gitmo Scott Horton, Harpers

A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children Op-Ed, Times. In liberal Lexington, MA.

Cutting the Deficit, With Compassion Christina Roma, Times. And ponies!

Inside story of Obama’s struggle to keep Congress from controlling outcome of debt ceiling crisis Bob Woodward, WaPo

Romney: GOP leaders made ‘big mistake’ agreeing to sequester The Hill. “He has violated the law that he in fact signed.”

“Effective Evil” or Progressives’ Best Hope? Glen Ford vs. Michael Eric Dyson on Obama Presidency Democracy Now

On Obama’s ‘Disappointing’ DNC Speech James Fallows, Atlantic

Undecided Voters Weigh in on President Obama’s Convention Speech PBS Newshour

Obama: ‘Help Us Destroy Jesus And Start A New Age Of Liberal Darkness’ America’s Finest News Source

Republicans Losing Election Law War as Campaign Ramps Up Businessweek

Employment in Two Administrations Krugman, Times. Drowning government employment in a bathtub.

Confronting the jobs crisis under tight fiscal constraints VoxEU

Union opens ‘strike headquarters,’ community and parent groups line up behind teachers WBEZ (Chicago)

Hu Jintao pledges boost for world economy despite China slowdown South China Morning Post

Does China’s Sina Weibo threaten or help to entrench Communist rule? Globe and Mail (Ottawan)

Hong Kong Backs Down on ‘Patriotism’ Classes WSJ

The river that DID run red: Residents of Chinese city left baffled after Yangtze turns scarlet Daily Mail

Sock City’s decline may reveal an unravelling in China’s economy Guardian

Textiles begin weaving their way home Independent

There is no great stagnation (remote-controlled cockroach edition) Tyler Cowen

Why This Cute Animated .Gif Is Totally Wrong About Economics Joe Weisenthal. A bad metaphor for QE.

How Google Builds Its Maps–and What It Means for the Future of Everything Atlantic

When did addiction become a good thing? GigaOM

OTC traders agree electronic protocol FT

JPMorgan Said to Face Escalating Senate Probe of CIO Loss Bloomberg

Utilities clamor for reactor restarts despite meeting summer demand Asahi Shimbun

In Amenable Mortality–Deaths Avoidable Through Health Care–Progress In The US Lags That Of Three European Countries Health Affairs (LL)

A Malevolent Forrest Gump Washington Monthly. Strom Thurmond.

Antidote du jour:

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55 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    After totin’ tomatoes for The Man on national television, L.A. mayor Villaraigosa asserts, ‘Me so decisive! Me serve president!’:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa defended his performance during a platform kerfuffle at the Democratic National Convention this week, saying that he took the actions called for by President Obama and followed procedure when Democrats realized they had left the words “God” and “Jerusalem” out of the party platform.

    Such a change requires a two-thirds vote by delegates, and on Wednesday they were asked to approve language invoking God and affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Villaraigosa, the convention chairman, called for a voice vote three times before declaring the amendments approved. Some delegates and journalists on the convention floor at the Time Warner Cable Arena were adamant that one could not audibly be certain they heard two-thirds of the delegates present say “aye.”

    “It was a lot of ado about nothing,” the mayor said Friday. Villaraigosa said that when reporters told him after the vote that they did not clearly hear two-thirds support, he responded, “That’s nice to know. I was the chairman and I did, and that was the prerogative of the chair.”

    Villaraigosa noted that any delegate who objected to the process could have made a formal challenge within 10 minutes of the vote.

    “Not one person objected. It’s more a media concern than a delegate concern. I can tell you this — the president of the United States said, ‘Wow.’ The president said, ‘You showed why you were speaker of the California Assembly,’” Villaraigosa said. “The president, the vice president, Mrs. Obama, all of them acknowledged the decisive way I handled that.”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-antonio-villaraigosa-god-jerusalem-20120907,0,3647028.story

    AT-TA-BOY, Antonio!

    El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido!

  2. Schofield

    That says it all you need to know about Republicans when they have a National Debt clock at their convention and not a single one of them realizing they’d have to pick the pockets of their fellow citizens to get the money back!

  3. BertS

    Why This Cute Animated .Gif Is Totally Wrong About Economics

    There is nothing wrong with the .gif. There is a long line of System D bankers and traders at street level with shopping carts stolen from Wal-Mart.

    Why Joe shouldn’t write articles: long term treasuries and mbs are not “same as cash” and that is why these transactions are called “liquidity injections”.

    Why we let them do that is a prefectly valid, but unasked, question.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, it is true, is it not, that money circulates. And so having Bernanke throw money out a window isn’t a good metaphor because there’s no cycle. That’s the point, and since the *.gif has gone viral, it’s a point worth making.

      If I, for example, were standing under a window gushing money, I would collect it in a sack and take it to a dentist and get my teeth fixed. After purchasing more gold leaf for the frame of my portrait of Nader, naturally. So the money would cycle, not merely gush.

      1. BertS

        It does cycle, but probably just goes round and round in the bond market with traders doing their best to clip a little off the circulation.

        The Street is trying mightily to convince everyone it goes into the stock market. But I can’t really convince myself of that because Wall Street needs to give the Fed a long term treasury or MBS (they need to use short term treasuries to back their repos) to get the money. Maybe they do that a little, but if they did it a lot we will have big problems to worry about.

        More likely I think, since there is a lot of money on the sidelines, is this QE -> Stocks Up fiction draws money into the market from the sidelines. Just my guess.

      2. Jessica

        It is important that yes, it does circulate. When you look at the economy as a whole, then statements like “money moved into the stock market” or “money moved out of bonds” because every dollar put in or taken out was taken out or put in by someone else.
        Also, it is important to keep in mind that money circulates, because sometimes it does not. For example, it sits stagnant in banks when they will not make loans.
        Both the fact that it circulates and that sometimes the circulation fails receive far too little attention in most mainstream economics. Marx was extremely interested in both aspects. Thus, the M-C-M’ and M-M’.

  4. Ken

    Nietzsche argued that religion was a creation of the poor to give their life meaning. I think the issue of the vote to include god will be significant, not because the vote was obviously flawed but because it even occurred.

  5. craazyman

    I love maps. I just love looking at maps for some reason. Even on the subway, even after all these years, I’ll be in hanging on the overhead bar bent over staring at the MTA subway system map. I might even frame it some day, like a work of art.

    That said. This Google Map stuff just leaves me cold. Every map is an abstraction and the best are nearly artistic abstractions — but the Google idea of a map seems like a strangulation and an asphyxiation. It’s like drawing a portrait by tracing the infintesimal countour of every cell on the face. In the end you don’t have a portrait, you have a monster, so far away from the living reality.

    I think the Google maps would be good for military uses. When domination and destruction are the goals. Where strangulation and aspyxiation are the strategies. But for roaming around looking for beauty and wonder, I’ll still take paper.

    1. Richard Kline

      So craazyman, agreed but with an addendum. Google Maps are ugly, banal, robotic, and capitalish. *Phooey* However: topographical maps on Google are ultracool. I, a fellow map lover, adore them. I’ve used them to research places I’m writing about. I use them especially to consider the geography of place sin the news. Aleppo, for example. I had no idea of the goegraphy of that city. Look at Google Maps, and the battle lines become much clearer there. I used Google topographical maps extensively in following events in Libya last year, and they greatly clarified matters since most news reporters lack the facility to make explain the lay of the land to readers and why it matters.

      Technology may be stupid. And stupid people run technology. But information wants to be free, and freedom lovin’ informatics can find a slice to make friends with. Sez I.

    1. craazyman

      that means Tuesday the 18th must be “Load Up on the Alcohol” Day.

      But I sure as hell wouldn’t want to see myself on Youtube after I sobered up.

      1. Valissa

        Herbie Hancock played at a college prom back in ’75 or ’76… it was his jazz-funk period, which was initiated with his breakout best selling album Head Hunters. I’ve always appreicated his willingness to experiment with different forms of jazz.

  6. leftover

    Re: Health Affairs study on amenable mortality…
    Chris Fleming provides a concise summary at the Health Affairs Blog here…which includes a succinct response from Johnathon Ross, M.D., M.P.H., past president of PNHP.

    ” [T]here is no reason why all Americans cannot benefit equally from living in a country with the most expensive health care system in the world.”

  7. JGordon

    About Joe Weisenthal’s Business Insider story–it’s complete hogwash, much like the “peak oil is a myth” buffoonery that you all foolishly linked to a while ago, demonstrating a vast degree of ignorance of basic reading comprehension skills–by BI and whoever else ran the story or linked to it–since the article that purported to say that peak oil was a myth actually turned out to say that peak oil is very real and that BP, among others, is getting real paranoid about it.

    But anyway, while it’s strictly true that the Fed does not print money alone, the Fed does in fact print “money”, or rather credit, in conjunction with the US government. If the Fed wasn’t there to trade all those liquid government “almost money” bonds for fresh computer-generated credit, then the government would quickly find itself constrained as to how many bonds it could sell. The only thing that is keeping this scheme going is the availability of a theoretically infinite amount of computer digits available from the Fed to buy up the government’s fiat ponzi paper, but at this point there is no correct solution to “save” the system.

    We have the option of hyper deflation or hyper inflation, and it’s now entirely up to the corrupt Fed to decide which course we go down. By the way, here is some good investment advice: buy some solar panels, rations, and ammo. You’re going to need them.

    1. F. Beard

      then the government would quickly find itself constrained as to how many bonds it could sell. JGordon

      Who cares? The US is monetarily sovereign; it has no need to borrow and indeed should not borrow since that borrowing constituents “corporate welfare” according to Bill Mitchell.

      1. JGordon

        Who cares? Well to start with the US imports over 2/3 of it’s yearly energy usage. It does that by relying the “full faith and credit” of the American people.

        By the way, Zimbabwe is a monetary sovereign too. They can and have in the past print all the money they’ll ever be able to spend.

        1. F. Beard

          They can and have in the past print all the money they’ll ever be able to spend. JGordon

          Don’t forget the so-called “private” banking system; it is monetarily sovereign too in a sense. I don’t recall that the banks had any trouble inflating the housing boom.

          1. tiebie66

            From my perspective, there is a difference though: banks are “sovereign”, but create tokens by monetizing collateral (secured lending) or future collateral (unsecured lending). When the Gov. creates tokens for which no collateral exists, it is (legal) counterfeiting. It dilutes the value of existing tokens by changing the ratio of tokens to collateral in the larger system, distorts price signals, subverts the unit of account utility of tokens, and it unduly benefits those along the proximal parts of the distribution channel.
            The Gov. -must- borrow or tax, i.e. tax. Otherwise the Gov. is like a bank that creates unsecured tokens and spends it (on) itself.

          2. F. Beard

            From my perspective, there is a difference though: banks are “sovereign”, but create tokens by monetizing collateral (secured lending) or future collateral (unsecured lending). tiebie66

            Both are counterfeiting; the requirement for collateral simply limits the new money to those with collateral.

            As for fiat, what makes it counterfeiting is not lack of collateral (there should be none) but legal tender laws which force everyone to use fiat for private debts.

  8. Ep3

    Yves, what has happened to Bernie sanders? He used to be in the news all the time. Haven’t been hearing much from him lately. Ya know, fighting the good fight.
    Of course, I sometimes forget you aren’t a politics blog.

  9. Susan the other

    About goofy old Strom Thurmond. Book Review. Washington Monthly. A Malevolent Forrrest Gump by Michall ODonnell. Well. Strom was a dying breed. That’s evolution. But please do not trash Barry Goldwater. He is one of my heroes because he saw environmental concerns clearly. And about the 1964 election? It was very complicated. My “xenophobia” is not xenophobic or racist – it is political. And here’s why (no I’m not a Libertarian – I’m a Socialist): Right now, down on Main Street there is an end of summer festival and they are playing Hendrix’ Anthem. It is giving me chills. In 1964 we became “Neo” – take your pick of conservative or liberal. We became a cyclops. We went into Vietnam with the enthusiasm of a cornered wolverine. And Goldwater was not very enlightened about the rest of the world – but Henry Cabot Lodge and LBJ made him look like an atomic beast. Which he was not. Time has proven the Neo thinking of the 60s to be simplistic and too crypto-militaristic, and way too harmful. Forgive us all.

    1. MrTortoise

      On an extended overseas trip to work (a multitude of months in fact), I once intercepted on shortwave radio a “Numbers station” transmission (no, not the “LOST” numbers).

      I taped it. Easy, because the robotic voice said “Repeat” and as far as I know, copied those numbers …

      This is somewhat known, and last I checked on Wikipedia, it was in the Cynthia mode/format.

      By sheer coincidence, US army were there on joint exercises (same city/county). I told a tech. guy and he said “could be testing of radio …” and other suspect theories. At the time, I was unconvinced. Now, it makes sense to me that it could be signals from “the mother ship” to operatives in the field. True story. Solemnly affirmed.

  10. SR6719

    Re: Maps

    “In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters.

    In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.” -

    Jorge Luis Borges, “On Exactitude in Science”

    1. SR6719

      The Book of Sand is an interesting story.

      It was written when Borges was blind and near the end of his life, and he considered it to be his best book. It may have been partly autobiographical, in that the narrator (a fictional version of Borges himself) appears to be warning the reader against developing an unhealthy obsession with books.

      One of the most interesting things about The Book of Sand is that Borges (a man who did things like teach himself German just so he could read Schopenhauer in the original) in other words, as sophisticated and world-weary as he was, Borges was ultimately no more able to live with the terrifying Book of Sand than was the supposedly simple-minded bookseller who sold the book to him.

      Also, it’s worth noting that when Borges was asked why, given his love of intricate structure, he had never attempted a systematic exposition of the world-view which underlay his writings, his reply was that he did not do it because this had already been done by Schopenhauer.

    2. SR6719

      Just adding this footnote to the Borges quote above, now that the discussion for links 9/09/2012 is over:

      “The map is not the territory” is a quote by Alfred Korzybski (1879 -1950), a Polish-American philosopher and scientist, who developed the theory of general semantics. Korzybski’s work argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and by the structure of language.

      Korzybski thought that people do not have access to direct knowledge of reality; rather they have access to perceptions and to a set of beliefs which human society has confused with direct knowledge of reality.” – (wikipedia)

      He also theorized that language is a trap that will not allow us to see the world clearly. One of Korzybski’s ideas is that there is no such thing as an object in isolation. For instance, merely to speak of an object implies a relation between the object and the speaker. And so forth..

      In “Form, Substance, and Difference (from Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972), Gregory Bateson dealt with the
      essential impossibility of knowing what the territory is, as any understanding of it is based on some representation:

      “We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? Operationally, somebody went out with a retina or a measuring stick and made representations which were then put on paper. What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps. The territory never gets in at all.[...] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum.”

  11. Hugh

    Reading Krugman anymore gives me a freaking headache.

    The first graph he shows is the total private jobs from Bush’s and Obama’s inaugurations out 45 months. Now the first thing to remember is that the recession beginning in March 2001 was a lot less severe than the one beginning in December 2007.

    The second thing is that these charts don’t take into account population growth. So just because the lines are coming out of troughs doesn’t capture the fact that population was not standing still during the 45 months covered.

    The third thing is that Bush was in office 96 months so we don’t see what happened in the last 51 months of his Presidency. In fact, total private jobs peaked at 111.631 million as Bush came into office in January 2001 and just as the country was going into recession. What we see in the Bush part of the graph is peak to trough but we don’t see the eventual recover beyond the initial January 2001 peak which did happen (even if it wasn’t sufficient with regard to population growth).

    Jobs peaked under Bush in January 2008 at 115.647 million, or some 4 million more than the January 2001 peak.

    When Obama took office in January 2009, jobs had fallen to 110.985 million, that is below both previous peaks, and more specifically 4.662 million below the January 2008 peak. The trough occurred in February 2010 at 106.773 million jobs, that is jobs fell another 4.212 million after Obama took office. What is missing from the Obama line just over half the cliff jobs fell off of from the January 2008 peak. Indeed we are still 4.247 million below the January 2008 peak.

    All of this is a long way of saying that what Krugman is showing us is for Bush: peak, trough, and near original peak (forgetting about the pesky needs of population growth). For Obama, he is showing what looks like a stronger recovery but only because he has started his view halfway down the cliff. I hate to break it to Krugman but Americans are not interested in arbitrary start points like Inaugurations. They are interested in having a freaking job and a life.

    The kicker in the second graph (I’ll try to be brief) is that it covers all public sector jobs: federal, state, and local. If you just look at federal jobs, you know Obama being President and all, they peaked, minus the Census, in March 2011 at 2.879 million and have dropped all of 75,000 since.

    Meanwhile state jobs have declined 267,000 from their peak in August 2008. And local jobs hit a year long plateau lasting from July 2008 to June 2009 before falling some 500,000+ jobs since. So federal job losses started well into Obama’s Administration and have been fairly small. Losses in state and local government jobs have been larger, but Obama is at best only indirectly responsible for them, that is keeping financial relief flowing to the states, doing better with the economy, etc.

  12. Godolphin

    Alternate History Part One.

    In the eleventh century, in the lands that came to be known as “the County of Lancashire”, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers have been arrested for theft, forgery, and counterfeiting.

    In those days, the Duchy of Lancaster appointed its own sheriffs and judges, who were not directly answerable to the king, and so, in order to extract a confession, the appointed judge ordered the two thieves to undergo the ordeal known as the Crocodile Tube.

    The Crocodile Tube was used to kill many infidels and thieves. Here’s how it worked: The thief was fixed inside a tube just big enough for his entrance. The tube, having crocodile teeth-like spikes, was then slowly compressed leaving the victim totally immobilized. The torturer could only see his face and feet.

    With the help of carbon and fire underneath the tube, the torturer gradually heated the tube until he extracted a confession or killed the victim.

    The former was most common, as this was one of the cruelest and most painful tortures ever used on human beings.

    And indeed this is what happened in the case of Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. One look at the Crocodile Tube and they not only confessed to all of their crimes, in addition they offered to adopt the Volcker Rule AND reinstate Glass-Steagall.

    Having confessed, now they’re to be sentenced by the community-appointed Judge.

    The Judge pulls a scrap of black cloth from a fold of his robe and slaps it on to his bald wig. He parts his robe so that the sign of the Wheel is clearly visible on the breast of his dirty T-shirt.

    Prisoners condemned to the Wheel were generally placed on a cartwheel with their limbs stretched out along the spokes over two sturdy wooden beams. The Wheel was made to revolve slowly, and a large hammer or an iron bar was then applied to the limb over the gap between the beams, breaking the bones. This process was repeated several times per limb.

    The Judge draws himself up to his full height and pronounces the terrifying sentence, speaking in a strange medieval, variation of a Lancashire Cockney dialect:

    “Az 2 U 2- U lie, U cheet, U R trayters.”

    “U wil B taykun back to ze Towa an broken on ze Weel.

    Yaw tung wil B cu aht. U wil be branded an hung ahn til U die and den put inna box.

    Tayk em away den.”

    Here Endeth Alternate History Part One

    (Disclaimer: Alternate history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.)

    1. Robin Hood

      I do not recognize any of these names from my 11th century, but after seeing the Larry Summers here, it is clear he would not fit in a crocodile tube.

      May I suggest flaying? The local tanner is usually qualified and the subject stays conscious and screaming thru maybe the first half of the procedure. Then, when the cuts are complete a strong yank on the hide leaves the still breathing innards behind.

      It may be tanned at this point to preserve it for posterity and it is quite effective for warding off moral hazard. The King’s Treasury is a good place to display it.

      Just thought I’d pass that along and you can do likewise to your 11th century.

      P.S. I do not think you need a disclaimer, because nothing ever happened? But I am not a lawyer.

  13. Hugh

    Michael Eric Dyson comes across has mainlining the Obama koolaid. He’s just another Democratic tribalist and shill. He sounds exactly like all the wingnuts who were willing to defend Bush to the bitter end. Facts, arguments, evidence, logic have no effect on him. It doesn’t really matter whether Dyson is an idiot or merely dishonest. Either way he is acting for the kleptocrats and enjoying the benefits they confer on the elites for their support. Either way it is bad faith.

    1. MrTortoise

      The guy who said he was a sociologist: he spoke faster and faster, sometimes rambling for a minute or two. I thought he was doing a parody. Another theory I had was that the sociology guy was pretending to be on coke.

    2. neo-realist

      Dyson’s book deals would end if he didn’t shill for the elites. He sounds perfect for a MSNBC show.

    3. different clue

      I haven’t seen this Dyson interview, but I have seen Dyson at other times and places. He reminded me of many black intellectuals and political leaders and cultural leaders and bussiness leaders and so forth. He and they have decided that electing Obama was the validation and capstone of their peoples’s civil rights and human rights struggles of the last many decades. For them, Obama is their ultimate Jackie Robinson in politics. It is about more than the Obama coolade. It is about their investment in Obama as the projection of their own racial pride and validation. If they admit they were wrong about Obama, they would admit how Obama played so masterfully on that sentiment of theirs and what marks they were and what a master carnie Obama is. That is too much to expect from them, I suspect. Mr. Ford must be very disappointed and depressed.

      I am no political analyst, but my lay amateur intuition tells me that of those black-self-identified voters who actually vote, at LEAST 95% of them will vote for Obama, and possibly an even HIGHer percent.

      If Obama gets 80% or less of the black vote, I will come back and admit to being wrong in my feelings. For every 5% below 80% of the black vote he gets, I will admit to being that much wronger.

      1. Dan Bednarz

        The shocker for me was Ford defensively conceding at the end of the discussion that he and his family and associates will vote for Obama. Despite his great insight, Ford is stuck in the present, IOW he sees no end to the current moribund two party system.

    1. MrTortoise

      I have a suggestion for a moniker for these off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-Broaday thetrical/trope Shakespearean dicsussions: Freakonocomics …

      1. Susan Pizzo

        Because the mainstream corporate media spectacle, based as it is on neoliberal supply-side fundamentalism is so enlightening, o self-described slow one?

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