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Links 10/28/12

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The Social Networking Lives Of The Dead Celebrities Forbes

The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories Amazon. From a reader who wisely prefers to remain anonymous.

Street lights turned off in their thousands Telegraph

Geoengineering: Testing the Waters Naomi Klein, New York Times. Um, we already screw around a lot with nature, starting with GMOs. But yes, more scrutiny early is probably better.

India Puts GM Food Crops Under Microscope Common Dreams (Aquifer)

New York prepares for the worst from Sandy MarketWatch. Most people seem pretty blase about the storm, but the flip side is we got the usual bad weather behavior: insanely long lines in grocery stores of people buying water and whatever they regarded as staples (for the record, I stuck my head in a store to verify. But late in the evening, I must confess to having done a bit of extra provisioning. Of course, I told myself I wasn’t really losing my cool like everyone else, just saving myself the trouble of schlepping groceries in the rain).

Hurricane Sandy: How utilities are planning for power outages Raw Story. Translation: if there’s a mess, it’s not because we didn’t try harder than last time.

B.C. teen arrested for photographing mall takedown CBC

When the Growth Model Changes, Abandon the Correlations Michael Pettis. Pettis is always worth reading, and this is a particularly good piece.

The renminbi bloc is here: Asia down, the rest of the world to go? VoxEU

House elections spell a Republican story and victory Washington Post

Citizens United Rule Rocks Key 2012 Races Associated Press

Journalism in the Obama age shows the real media bias Glenn Greenwald

Long Wait Times at the Polls Michael Froomkin. See this clip.

CATO INSTITUTE HELPFULLY MAKES ITS FAKE CLIMATE REPORT LOOK LIKE ACTUAL GOVERNMENT CLIMATE REPORT, EXCEPT FAKE Wonkette (Brad DeLong)

Stephanie Kelton Appears on Le Show with Harry Shearer New Economic Perspectives

We’ve located the reality distortion field, and it’s in the consumer’s brain ars technica

Barclays slashes bankers’ pay by up to half as profits fall Telegraph. Mirabile dictu, this is looking like the old Wall Street! Crappy bonuses if the firm has a bad year. How long do with think this will last?

Hamptons Home Prices Fall as Buyers Seek Cheaper Retreats Bloomberg

Lord Bichard: Old People Need To Work For Their Pensions (Even If They Already Have) Jesse. His name would fit right in a Dickens novel, as would his attitude.

A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift New York Times

When Only $1 Billion Will Do, the Rich Live in a Bubble: Books Bloomberg. Don’t read this if you’ve eaten recently.

The progressive case against Obama Matt Stoller, Salon. Much gnashing of teeth among soi-disant liberals over this piece.

Antidote du jour:

And a bonus:

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132 comments

  1. Lloyd C. Bankster

    The other day, bored with co-opting members of the Finance Committee, tired of issuing zero-collateral credit default swaps, I needed to amuse myself, so I ordered Ezra Klein and Andrew Ross Sorkin to dress up in sheep costumes.

    This was hilarious for a few seconds.

    Then, bored with Ezra and Andy as sheep I ordered them to get down on their hands and knees and say “bah bah bah”.

    That was funny for two minutes, then it got boring again. So I ordered them (still on their hands and knees saying “bah bah bah”) to polish my gold Milton Friedman statue with a buffing wheel. This was hilarious for maybe five minutes, however it took them twelve hours to finish the job.

    And while those two, the crème de la crème of US journalism (ha ha) were hard at work, me half watching them, half day-dreaming about student suckers going into debt to pay back bond-funded projects for me and my people, the following thoughts occurred to me:

    Now that the State has been thoroughly co-opted, meaning now that my crew (the 0.01 percent) has sold out America’s future for a quick buck, what’s next?

    People ask why Congress repealed Glass-Steagall, why put the country at risk of another 30s style Depression? The answer is simple: bucket loads of cash made them do it.

    Did anyone believe deregulation would lead to increased wealth for the nation or the people?

    Deregulation was designed to increase wealth for the chosen and talented people — If I were in charge of schools Atlas Shrugged would be required reading — oh wait, I own an 80% stake in the Ed Reform outfits run by Gates, Murdoch and Bertelsmann!. (LCB gets on the phone and speed dials Arne Duncan to dictate the first item on his Monday To Do List.)

    So how *did* we get Goldman guys to control the Fed, Treasury and top positions in the Administration?

    It was simple. Bucket loads of cash — the trick that never fails!

    I’m thinking of attending the Goldman Halloween Party dressed as Ted Bundy this year. I’m thinking trillions of dollars in unregulated CMOs, I’ll provide margin collateral for long positions in Shanghai copper futures by writing credit default swaps on CDOs constructed from sub-prime mortgages backed by houses in Newark, New Jersey. And maybe the toxic bonds we unloaded on a few municipalites last week — hmm, let’s see — last week we did . . . Detroit, Atlanta, New York City, Laredo, Sacramento — and at least 7 more.

    I’m thinking hypothecated derivatives, the total destruction of the world (except the top 0.01), rifle shots, the assassination of Brooksley Born, gambling muppet assets on a single structured finance product that bets on a steepening of the euro yield curve, issued by US investment banks by utilizing sovereign bonds from Greece and interest rate swaps with a Japanese trading house.

    I love deregulation because it’s Heads I Win Tails You Lose. Every Time.

    And what about the regulators you say? Remember the ones who tried to warn Congress about the dangers of deregulation, dark pools and derivatives…

    Oh right, them. Brooksley Born is still living but she’s not talking. The others were lost in the Disposition Matrix. Yes, they were “disappeared”. Abducted and tortured, then dropped at night over the Atlantic ocean — either Jamie or Mike lent us one of his personal flying machines for that special op…

    Shark bait, that’s what became of them.

    There’s still some money in Social Security, Medicare 401(k)s and pensions. We’ll take that as well. Make up some story, something about a deficit or a Fiscal Cliff….oh wait, it’s already been done.

    If all else fails, we still have access to the Fed’s Discount Window.

    Now Ezra, now Andy, looks like you’ve got old Milton shining all purdy-like, so enough with the “bah bah bah”, shut the f**k up, get out of those stupid sheep costumes, go home and do whatever it is that you do.

    Write a pro-Goldman column, attack Greg Smith, compare Gupta’s two year prison sentence to the Nazi invasion of Poland, whatever, just stay the hell out of my sight until my secretary calls you….

    1. ChrisPacific

      You can’t destroy the world other than the 0.01%. Who would clean the toilets?

      I suggest reduction to a permanent state of indentured servitude instead.

    2. Ms G

      He’s ba-aaack!

      Excellent to hear from you again, Lloyd Bankster. For a while there I was forgetting who really runs the show!

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      See:
      “Alexia Khruscheva is a famous equestrian photographer from Russia.”

      “In each of my work I put a piece of the soul, which reflects my feelings, emotions and thoughts. Work with animals – it’s magic, other world. And I love this world. All my pictures are full of stories, and stories, as you know, it happens a lot … I would be very pleased to present this little story for you.”
      ——————————–
      MORE at:
      http://smashingpicture.com/equestrian-photographer-alexia-khruscheva/

  2. dearieme

    “he interesting thing about Bichard is that he is … a cross-bench peer, a technocratic former senior civil servant who worked closely with the last Labour government.” That is, he’s probably a bloody Blairite, from whom one can expect nothing but intellectual dross.

  3. ella

    Bill gates sent a letter recommending leniency for Gupta, wonder what letter he sends for someone convicted of stealing a Windows license?

    1. ambrit

      Dear E;
      I linked through to that site and started scrolling. Then I got to “Dominion Resources Inc Shutting Down Wisconsin Nuke Plant,” posted for Oct 22 on the right hand column, under closures. Oh joy! Then the details; the decision was driven by economics, not safety concerns. OK, standard so far. Then the comments. Hmmm… A comment about why not close them all gets slammed hard by an evident troll. Also, a mini panegyric about how wonderful it is to live next to a clean air, low pollution atomic plant. You can’t make this stuff up.

  4. ambrit

    Friends;
    Is that one of the horsies from the “Big Book?”
    As usual, the fun of that Amazon site is in the secondary details. (Long silky manes, trim statuesque fetlicks (sic), I could swim in the sea of passion from Mikanos to Lesbos!)
    All that’s missing is a blurb from the editors of “The Pearl.”

    1. evodevo

      Lesbian Horse Stories?! I’ve bred, raised and broken horses for 50 years and never ran into a lesbian horse …. oh, wait, they mean lesbians ON horses.

      Never mind.

      1. Fryem

        They mean lesbians seeking male horses to fill their
        stretched and worn out orifices, just like some women seek a well hung male.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Fryem;
          I believe that you have missed the essential component of Lesbianism. Also, PETA would be after you big time.

  5. Valissa

    re: Street lights turned off in their thousands to meet carbon emission targets

    Austerity liberal environmentalist style. Who cares about personal or traffic safety when there’s emission cutting to be done!

    1. J Sterling

      The conservative Daily Telegraph is lying to make it sound like crazy environmentalism is to blame. The truth is that the local government cannot afford the money under the budgets forced on them by the Conservative national government. The buried lede even admits it.

  6. Valissa

    re: Cat barely escapes jaws

    That cat looks almost exactly like one of mine. Clio likes riding on or in things. She cries piteously if I walk by with a laundry basket and don’t lower it to let her jump in. She likes being carried around in paper bags, boxes and riding around on shoulders too. When she was a kitten she enjoyed riding around on top of a live vacuum cleaner! At first we thought she was deaf.

  7. c.

    Most people seem pretty blase about the storm, but the flip side is we got the usual bad weather behavior: insanely long lines in grocery stores of people buying water and whatever they regarded as staples (for the record, I stuck my head in a store to verify. But late in the evening, I must confess to having done a bit of extra provisioning. Of course, I told myself I wasn’t really losing my cool like everyone else, just saving myself the trouble of schlepping groceries in the rain).
    ————————

    Ah yes, the psychological tricks and justifications we play to “fit in”. Don’t want to be a “crazy” who actually does something about taking care of their own self in the most basic manner.

    ;)

    1. Fryem

      And nothing like subtituting the good old Anglo-Saxon
      word “carrying” with the Lower East Side ‘schlepping’
      to make your self look like part of the hip scene.

  8. Garrett Pace

    “Of course, I told myself I wasn’t really losing my cool like everyone else, just saving myself the trouble of schlepping groceries in the rain.”

    Oh wow, Yves.

    “Just in time” consumption is always going to be more vulnerable to shocks and outages.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. Manhattan people generally have small kitchens, so many of us are into just in time provisioning. Having said that, I actually have enough dietary supplements, protein powder, yogurt, eggs, and frozen spinach alone that I could subsist for days.

      2. I prefer fresh fruit and veg and fish when I can get them (which is pretty much all the time ex storms). Don’t you?

      1. Garrett Pace

        I greatly prefer fresh foods, certainly. I also have a basement full of food and a 50 gallon drum of water in the garage for when there’s no fresh food or water to be had.

        I’m glad you prepared ahead of the storm. Human bodies are fragile and long periods without sustenance are very uncomfortable.

  9. Eureka Springs

    Stoller is so very spot on. Everyone form the OWS element to Greens, Progs, Libertarians… and quite few centrists/independents need an entirely specific clear manifesto.

    All our failure to focus on this rather than remain mired in fear with the narcism of tiny differences, expecting different results is lunacy on the left blogos part.

    If we don’t begin with some sort of list/plan we can’t begin to seize the next Shock moment. Hell, we haven’t even waged full warfare with clear alternatives on the debt/cat food lies.

    We have to find, list and embrace the unity which does exist. And we have to quit ceding it from the get go even in conversation. No more cowardice, no more excuses.

    One nation under neoliberalism- should be far easier to resist than we have so far.

    1. Plinue

      I always found OWS’s “innovative” refusal to articulate any sort of concrete position very suspicious.

      It seems to me that OWS is playing “good cop” to the Democrats just as the Democrats play “good cop” to the Republicans.

        1. Plinue

          They said that articulating a position would impair the growth of the movement–but if nobody really knows what they’re signing on to, doesn’t that just guarantee a crack-up the instant that they do take a position on something? (To say nothing of the problems that not having a position causes for recruitment.)

          Or, if they resolve the problem by never actually articulating any grievances, how can they possibly apply poltical pressure successfully? Take the port shutdowns–leaving aside that they were basically for show, being timed to avoid periods of significant shipping activity–nobody would say what ought to happen in order to make the shutdowns stop. The result was that no-one in the general public had any obvious reason to rally to their cause, rather than just stand aside as the authorities shut them down. Taken as an actual strategy of protest, it was thoroughly absurd.

          1. Eureka Springs

            I think you both are correct. A proactive next step is what’s important… Whittling down the issues into a list/manifesto a large portion of folks can understand and agree upon might be the next best step. We need to know what those might be.

            1. Lambert Strether

              Lists/manifestos: the 12-word platform is something we developed:

              The 12 Word Platform

              1. Medicare for All
              2. End the Wars
              3. Tax the Rich
              4. A Jobs Guarantee

              There are two advantages: the “12 word” frame is good marketing and also forces choice on what to include. No laundry lists! There’s the additional advantage that a platform is very much about “concrete material benefits,” rather like “Peace, land, bread” donchya know.

              The platform is about policy as opposed to rights. I think if we got everything on that platform done, most everything else would fall into place because of the scale of systemic change needed to make this platform happen.

          2. RanDomino

            The problem is that OWS was organized on Consensus but nobody knows what that means. So it turned into this nonfunctional amalgamation of Consensus and Liberal Mass Democracy. They couldn’t take a stand because that might mean a Block and a Split, which is how Consensus is actually supposed to function; but under the logic of the “mass movement” fetish the only important thing is getting as many people as possible, and a split means *fewer* people and we can’t have that! Even if it means those fewer people would actually be able to do something productive.

            The answer is not to dump Consensus, but to use it properly by organizing Affinity Groups which then federate on clear principles and goals and use a delegation system for coordination, rather than trying to set a new high score for number of people in a GA.

          3. ZygmuntFraud

            One thought is for left-wing types, progressives,
            OWS-types to sponsor Law students _after_ a
            thourough vetting and “indoctrination”
            program.

            Law students who get a Juris Doctor degree have
            studied a lot. The codes (US and State) are
            so complicated that it takes a J.D. (almost)
            to figure out what all the Bills and court
            cases, legal maneuverings, motions, etc. etc
            mean.

            And I wouldn’t trust just any lawyer in
            figuring out what Bills mean.

            –> “private” army of lawyers “just” for
            the 99% is my idea

          4. citalopram

            So you really think it was all on them to articulate a message that the major media wants, or do you think an apathetic and/or propagandized public just didn’t care?

            Do you think the public needs more austerity to get off their asses? Hrmmmm….. :)

    2. Hugh

      How about this for a 10 point plan?

      1. Right to a good job paying a living wage
      2. Right to good housing
      3. Right to good education
      4. Right to good healthcare
      5. Right to good retirement
      6. Right to privacy
      7. End the wars
      8. Public campaign funding
      9. Real regulation of Wall Street
      10. Tax the rich

        1. cwaltz

          There definitely needs to be some discussion about basic economics.

          Most Americans seem to parrot the “redistribution” talking point without understanding that all an economy is is redistribution. It isn’t like Walmart has a vault where they keep every last dollar that they earned. They redistribute it. And generally they do so without calling up patrons and asking if they think the amount they are paying their associates, vendors or the government is fair.

          So why is it again that I should care if our government redistributes money? At least with the government there might be a remote chance I can get a say(although let’s face it the government ignored us on bank bailouts and the health insurance giveaway so technically they aren’t much better than private enterprise Walmart except to play a boogeyman foil as “socialists.”)

          It’s also funny because you get the whole socialism isn’t fair because some random person who doesn’t work as hard as you may get paid the same as you. However, the system we have right now thinks nothing of giving the guy at the top of the food chain millions for failing while telling someone at the bottom that the 17 years of hard work you put in are worth nothing more than 6 months worth of unemployment. Hardly what I’d term fair.

          The socialism boogeyman needs to be defeated once a for all and people need to take a pragmatic look at what they are calling capitalism but what I’d term crapitalism.

          1. psychohistorian

            There are those that say that capitalism is the worst form of socialism that has ever been tried.

            Others would say that all the isms are cover for the class system of accumulated private ownership of property and ongoing inheritance.

        2. citalopram

          And that is why ultimately, The American People aren’t worth fighting for. I’ve seen it time and time again in my tenure in information technology. White kids from middle class backgrounds just can’t bend over far enough for management. Then they open their mouths and you hear Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

          Fuck em.

        1. citalopram

          1. The right to be droned.

          2. The right to be indefinitely detained.

          3. The right to work for minimum wage.

          4. The right to zero economic mobility.

          5. The right to go into massive amounts of debt to obtain an education.

          6. The right to go into massive amounts of debt due to lack of medical insurance.

          Well, there’s 6 of em.

  10. Garrett Pace

    Part-time life:

    “At first, he usually worked five days a week, often racking up 30 hours. But after several months, he said, he and many co-workers had their weekly hours cut to 12 or 15 and occasionally none at all.

    “I’d go to the managers and say, ‘What is the issue? Am I not pulling my weight?’ ” he said. “And they’d say, ‘We just don’t have enough money.’ ”

    “ ‘So how am I supposed to support myself? ’ I asked, and they said that was not their problem.”

    Mr. Anthony said it was hard to survive. At $8.25 an hour, 15 hours a week equaled about $500 a month. His share of the monthly rent was $800, with several hundred more for utilities, phone and subway fares. Some days he went hungry, he acknowledged, and he repeatedly turned to his parents for help.

    He and his co-workers held out hope that, come the holiday season, their hours would pick up. “But then they hired 15 more workers,” he said.”

    THIS IS BEING DONE ON PURPOSE.

    1. evodevo

      On purpose ? Yes it is… it’s SOP for a lot of smaller employers I am acquainted with. A friend worked for a grocery/butcher wholesaler for many years at minimum wage, and was fed the same line, right up till the day they sacked him for being in the hospital with heart issues. Sucks to be a non-union worker in a right-to-work state.

    2. citalopram

      “There’s no money is ALWAYS their excuse.”

      I remember one time they (management) actually had us write down ideas of saving money. My idea was suggesting to cut all non-management salary by 50 percent.

      It’s just so insulting.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    It’s healthy to be busy and workig when you are old.

    But it is not really healthy if you ‘need’ to do that. It’s healthy only if you are not forced to by circumstance, but voluntarily want to be busy.

  12. invient

    In regards to The progressive case against Obama [Matt Stoller] … I am a Colorado voter, registered democrat (so I can vote in the primaries), but would far better be described as a green.

    I voted for Obama as did 3 of my family members. My vote is not in absence of reason. I forgo a principled vote because while Obama is not a best choice, he is not the worst, and being in a swing state it is hard to not become an authoritarian follower (I have tried to reason that I am not, but that would be delusional).

    1. Plinue

      I’d say Obama is in fact the worse choice, as he and Romney are basically a wash in terms of their actions while in office (as opposed to the sort of rhetoric they employ to win over voters), but Obama is much better at neutralizing effective opposition to those policies–indeed, frighteningly so.

      1. Accrued Disinterest

        If you really believe the tripe that O is the same as R, here are a couple of names for you: Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. I’m not in a swing state so I didn’t have to vote for droner or etchy, but the line that they’re both the same is total bullshit.

        1. Plinue

          Both replaced outgoing justices who were further to the left than, or at best as far to the left as, themselves. In other words, Obama has not moved the SC one iota to the left, and arguably has moved it somewhat to the right.

          The right currently holds the majority on the court, and there is presently no expectation of that changing due to retirement in the next four years.

          The party’s refusal to block GWB’s nominations during his term gives little confidence that the Democrats would actually act to replace a right-wing SC justice with a left-wing one even if they found themselves in a position to do so. More likely they would replace a right-wing justice with another right-wing justice, either to “maintain the balance of the court” or some similar crap excuse, or under the pretext of getting some miniscule concession from the Republicans on some other issue in return.

        2. MontanaMaven

          Matt addresses the Supreme Court nominations. Democrats can block radical nominations. But they don’t. They let Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia be appointed. Ginsburg is like Sotomayor and Kagan. Appointed for her pro-business leanings. Democratic operatives succeed in getting Democrats all riled up about abortion and gay rights and how the Supreme Court nominations are vital while hoping same Democratic voters don’t understand the real objective is to keep the pro business status quo. There was a New York Times Magazine article years ago called “Supreme Court, Inc.” on this. The last of Nader’s Raiders have gone down to defeat against the pro Chamber of Commerce Supremes.

        3. Hugh

          Sotomayor is a corporatist technocrat. Kagan is a backer of the vast powers of the Imperial Presidency and a corporatist.

          I’ll not just see your two names but raise you two: Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia. There were always sufficient numbers of Democratic Senators, even when they were the minority party to block all 4 of these nominations at cloture (60 votes required). However, only a single roll call cloture vote was held, and that was on Alito. It failed because 19 Democratic Senators voted with Republicans to bring his nomination to a final vote. Further in the one case where Democrats were in the majority in the Senate and that by a solid margin, the Clarence Thomas nomination, Democrats were instrumental in getting him confirmed.

          45 votes in the Democratic Senate caucus: 44 Democrats and the independent Jeffords

          Samuel Alito: Cloture vote: 74-25 with 19 Democrats voting for cloture (that is allowing a final vote on Alito). Confirmed: 58-42 on January 31, 2006

          John Roberts: No roll call vote on cloture so voice vote or unanimous consent. Confirmed: 78-22 on September 29, 2005.

          56 votes in the Democratic Senate caucus

          Clarence Thomas: No roll call vote on cloture so voice vote or unanimous consent. Confirmed 52-48 on October 15, 1991

          47 votes in the Democratic Senate caucus

          Antonin Scalia: No roll call vote on cloture so voice vote or unanimous consent. Confirmed: 98-0 on September 17, 1986.

          I’m surprised anyone still uses the by now long discredited meme of “vote for Democrats or watch out what happens to the Supreme Court” or even more strangely in your case “Obama’s made great choices for the Supreme Court.” Obama never chose a straight up liberal, or God forbid, a progressive to fill either of the Supreme Court vacancies of his first term. At the same time, Democrats never blocked any of the nominations of the Court’s four most conservative Justices, and in the case of Thomas, even provided the votes necessary for his confirmation.

          1. psychohistorian

            Thanks for the comment Hugh.

            I think that the reason folks are blurry about the relative “progressiveness” of Sotomayor and Kagan is because of the effectiveness of the media in the propaganda around these two. We just haven’t seen their sellout of woman and the rest of us by them yet but it is coming.

        4. Lambert Strether

          Here’s the case for Obama as the more effective evil (from Black Agenda Report, as a prophylactic against racist smears). Next, had you read the article, AC? Because Stoller addresses your talking point:

          In terms of the Supreme Court itself, Obama’s track record is not actually that good. As a senator, Obama publicly chided liberals for demanding that Sen. Patrick Leahy block Sam Alito from the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Obama-appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has in her career already ruled to limit access to abortion, and Elena Kagan’s stance is not yet clear. Arguing that Romney justices would overturn Roe v. Wade is a concession that Senate Democrats, as they did with Alito and Roberts, would allow an anti-choice justice through the Senate. More likely is that Romney, like Obama, simply does not care about abortion, but does care about the court’s business case rulings (the U.S. Chamber went undefeated last year). Romney has already said he won’t change abortion laws, and that all women should have access to contraception. He may be lying, but more likely is that he does not care and is being subjected to political pressure. But so is Obama, who is openly embracing abortion rights and contraception now that it is a political asset. In other words, what is moving women’s rights is not Obama or Romney, but the fact that a fierce political race has shown that women’s rights are popular. The lesson is not to support Obama, who will shelve women’s rights for another three years, but to continue making a strong case for women’s rights.

          I’d add that if Democrats played as tough on Supreme Court nominations as Republicans do, then none of the ZOMG!!! Teh Supreme Court arguments would be listened to for a momemt.

    2. Eureka Springs

      I would describe a registered Democrat who votes for Democrats as a Democrat… and a neoliberal.

      Own it… despicable as it is.

      You want integrity and power of your Green convictions.. register, vote accordingly and quit sabotaging your interests and Greens.

      1. MontanaMaven

        Democrats are neo-liberal and have mostly been pro-war. They managed to start WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. The union leadership were pro Vietnam. The Democrats abandoned blue collar workers long ago. Own it. I admit I didn’t pay much attention and just voted straight Democrat. Now that I have paid attention, I can’t do that anymore. My first election I got to vote for McGovern. So I got fooled into thinking that’s what a Democrat was. The most important part of Stoller’s piece is that we have got to get in shape. We have got to start resisting. As Lambert says, “go to the gym”. If not now, when?

    3. TK21

      Has a president ordered the assasination of more Americans than Obama has? Prosecuted more whistleblowers or widened the gap between rich and poor more? Presented a greater threat to Social Security? Deported more law-abiding undocumnted immigrants?

      No. So how is Obama “not the worst choice”?

    4. melior

      Like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest, the thunderous roar of non-voting promises to send powerful shockwaves of ineffectuality throughout the polisphere.

      Just in case though, right after voting against Rmoney/Ryan, I plan to not-vote in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Take that, system!

    5. Jonathan

      I think I’m with Glenn Greenwald on this one: it’s excusable in a swing state, so long as you acknowledge what you’re really buying, but in a decided state, no reason not to vote minor party.

      Why do people keep thinking the parties are some sort of revealed wisdom or something? Better to force the collapse of the Establishment parties entirely while preparing a working, responsive alternative to fill the vacuum.

      1. Aquifer

        Gotta disagree – seems to me it’s never acceptable to vote for a schmuck – in a swing or any other state – that’s why we keep getting schmucks – people keep voting for them …

        1. invient

          I agree, but from a purely probabilistic perspective people are going to vote mostly dem or rep anyway. An overly optimistic figure for total third party voters is 5%… I have many family members that rely on government assistance to survive due to a bad genetic hand dealt to them.

          This is the main reason why I voted Obama, its not about me or the president or about all the other issues I care about.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Geoengineerig and GMO’s, screwing around with nature.

    For me, a Ponzi scheme is one where the promised result can not be acheived with the stated input without borrowing from sources outside of that (either from some other places or some other time-periods, like the past or the future).

    So, either Science can give us what she says she can with what we have here and now, without borrowing from Mars or our grandchildren, or she is a Ponzi.

  14. MaryAnn

    India suspends GMO dissemination:

    Well there goes Monsanto’s argument that “millions will starve without our cheap GMO’s.”

    India has the highest number of engineers and technically educated people on earth. You can’t fool them.

    Want to see what they are worried about and what you should wonder about in your stomach? That is only if you eat Corn, Soy, Sugar, oils or some vegetables?

    http://www.geneticroulettemovie.com

    So many people are watching it that the server may crash at their end. As an alternate, search Youtube for

    “genetic roulette movie”
    and watch
    the “10 minute remix”

    or look for the full length 84 minute movie.

    The California citizen’s initiative to label genetically modified foods has ignited a firestorm of activism by common people vs. Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta and Nestle’s tens of millions spent on dumbed down dishonest ads.

    http://www.carighttoknow.org

    1. kimyo

      from stoneleigh of ‘the automatic earth’:
      http://theautomaticearth.com/Energy/renewable-energy-the-vision-and-a-dose-of-reality.html

      And turning around the world’s fossil-fuel-based energy system is a truly gargantuan task. That system now has an annual throughput of more than 7 billion metric tons of hard coal and lignite, about 4 billion metric tons of crude oil, and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. And its infrastructure—coal mines, oil and gas fields, refineries, pipelines, trains, trucks, tankers, filling stations, power plants, transformers, transmission and distribution lines, and hundreds of millions of gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and fuel oil engines—constitutes the costliest and most extensive set of installations, networks, and machines that the world has ever built, one that has taken generations and tens of trillions of dollars to put in place.

      It is impossible to displace this supersystem in a decade or two—or five, for that matter. Replacing it with an equally extensive and reliable alternative based on renewable energy flows is a task that will require decades of expensive commitment. It is the work of generations of engineers.

      1. Jonathan

        And the work of generations of users, who will need to get used to the idea that infinite power on demand is no longer a reasonable expectation.

        Of course, the engineers do have their work cut out for them in softening the blow. It’s my observation that humans only care about immediacy and control when their attention needs to be devoted to a task; for example, I suspect that low-speed personal vehicles would be quite acceptable if they drove themselves and the attention spent on driving could then be reallocated to entertainment, work, social time, or other *human* needs. Similarly, intermittently available power, or consumers buying electricity at spot prices, would be quite acceptable when appliances go super-automatic as was fantasized in the 1950s, e.g. washing and drying in the same tub with one button to get from dirty clothes to clean, dry clothes.

        The philosophers have some work to do here, too, in unwinding Calvinism and the notion that pleasure ought to be scarce. That’s probably a bigger project than the engineering!

      2. Valissa

        Excellent article, thanks for the link!

        An especially good point is this:

        The temptation when attempting to fit renewables into the central station model is to develop them on a scale as similar as possible to that of traditional generating stations, connecting relatively few large installations, in particularly well-endowed locations, with distant demand via high voltage transmission. Renewables are ideally smaller-scale and distributed – not a good match for a central station model designed for one-way power flow from a few producers to many consumers. Grid-connected distributed generation involves effectively running power ‘backwards’ along low-voltage lines, in a way which often maximizes power losses (because low voltage means high current, and losses are proportional to the square of the current).

        This is really an abuse of the true potential of renewable power, which is to provide small-scale, distributed supply directly adjacent to demand, as negative load. Minimizing the infrastructure requirement maximizes the EROEI, which is extremely important for low EROEI energy sources. It would also minimize the grid-management headache renewable energy wheeled around the grid can give power system operators. Nevertheless, most plans for renewable build-out are very infrastructure-heavy, and therefore energy and capital intensive to create.

        The “Local Resilience Movement” is currently encouraging folks to not depend on the grid as much as possible. If this movement is successful with small scale alternative energy that could have some interesting effects on the future integration of such into the larger grid.

  15. Jackrabbit

    Matt Stoller is right.

    And so are those that don’t want to “waste” their vote on a third party candidate.

    OK. Matt is _more_ right.

    But the progressive dream seems to be that if Obama loses, then the Democratic Party will >magically< see the error of their ways and nominate someone that will uphold their ideals. People over profits, etc.

    The problem is … this is a dream. If Obama loses, we will get ANOTHER Obama. That is, someone that _promises_ change. The nominee will rail against the injustices of Romney – but will, just like Obama, be funded by corporate interests. The two parties are VERY good at rallying their bases. And that dynamic is far – very far – from changing.

    The point is this: the game is clear now. And it has progressed too far for anyone to realistically think that the "system" will right itself.

    I really think that the only / best way toward change may well be a coalition of Third Party candidates. The only real choice today is Third Party vs. Duopoly Party. No individual Third Party can break the Duopoly. Not this election, not the next election, not election after that.

    Yes, it is difficult to bring these Third Parties together. But they only get "respect" (and the attention of media and voters) if they come together for the good of the nation. No Third Party would get all that it wanted – but they could implement a core set of policies that they largely agree on.

    Some people vote Third Party out of principal. For some it's a protest vote. Others just sit out the election. The only way that Third Parties can actually WIN (now, or in the foreseeable future) is by coming together so that they represent a *viable* alternative in the eyes of voters. Then they will get votes from those who would otherwise vote for "the lesser of two evils" and votes from those who would otherwise sit out the election.

    There is no guaranty that a Third Party coalition would win, but they get their names out there. And they would stand out by having the courage to put country before Party. So, in some sense, they win (and we all win) if the effort is made.

    PS
    IMO Third Parties face two *big* problems: 1) The media doesn't take them seriously; and 2) voters are biased against them due to a perception that a) they are untested, and b) they unknown, or "non-mainstream" agendas.

    A coalition would solve these problems because: together they would have MUCH better polling numbers (they would be seen as a contender); and b) voter hesitation would be greately reduced because each member of the coalition (if well constructed) would act as a check on the other's agenda.

    =================

    I recognize that this suggestion is a long shot. Especially at this late date. I wasn't even going to write anymore about it, but Stoller's piece prompted me to have another go at it.

    1. diplodocus

      yeah, but the other obvious fact is that govt. at all levels is run by partisans… they aren’t like you or i… R and D people partisans are first(ideologically blinded)… they don’t a flying 5uck about problem solving and efficient management of resources, unless it’s the party directive(cronyism)…

    2. Plinue

      But the progressive dream seems to be that if Obama loses, then the Democratic Party will >magically< see the error of their ways and nominate someone that will uphold their ideals. People over profits, etc.

      [...snip a bunch more stuff with no discernable relevance to anything Stoller said...]
      The point is this: the game is clear now. And it has progressed too far for anyone to realistically think that the “system” will right itself.

      Would you be so kind as to try to rebut the argument Stoller actaully made (you know, the one based on that latter point above), instead of spending half a dozen paragraphs attacking arguments he didn’t make?

      1. Jackrabbit

        Firstly, I’m not directly responding to Stoller. As I wrote at the end, I’ve made this suggestion before but I was prompted to write on it again because of Stoller’s piece.

        As I said early on, I think Stoller is more right than someone who would “hold their nose” to vote Democratic. But I also understand that many feel that a vote for a Third Party is “wasted.”

        And therein lies the rub (and my critism of a certain point of view): the two-Party duopoly CAN NOT BE ANALYSIZED IN ISOLATION. You can’t say Obama and the Democrates are bad without recognizing that they are part and parcel of this duopolist political system.

        And you can’t “fight” that system by:

        a) expecting that one of those Parties is going to recognize the errors of their ways, or

        b) expecting that ordinary people are going to get fed up and recognize the “con”.

        =====================

        It seems clear that the two-Party duopoly has a stranglehold on the political process. And the process that they have constructed is one where money is essential and the only one’s that can raise it sufficiently are the two Parties.

        It take courage and dramatic steps to change the dynamic that is now in place. Frankly, I doubt that the Third Parties are up to the challenge, but I _believe_ that forming a coalition is the kind of thing that would *possibly* allow for real change or shake things up enough to prompt a change in the otherwise stable dynamic.

        1. TK21

          ” I also understand that many feel that a vote for a Third Party is “wasted.””

          People who feel that way are wrong. This isn’t baseball or olympic relay racing, where the goal is to be among those who finish first. The goal is to get the best candidates possible into office. If someone votes for an awful candidate like Obama, and Obama wins the election, that was not a succssful vote just because the person voted for won. That’s not what voting is.

          What a warped ideal of democracy Americans have if so many want only to “win”.

          1. Jackrabbit

            What you are not getting is the psychological dynamic that grips most of America.

            The Parties use their vast resources to sucker (almost) everyone into the belief that THIS election is make-or-brake. And that the choice in THIS election is between good and evil as personified in the personalities, inclinations, and policies of their opponent.

            It is theatre. But it keeps everyone energized and talking about the T-W-O candidates. No other choice is given/allowed/talked about. When, against all odds, a popular third-party candidate appears (once in a while), they are marginalized by both candidates in many ways but chief among these, I believe, are these two points: the Third-Party candidate is untested and is “outside the mainstream.”

            Thus, people feel that to make their vote “count”, it has to be for a candidate from one of the two major parties.

            Yes, there are those who vote on Principal – and that is admirable – but MOST will vote for one of the two main candidates, or not vote at all.

    3. RanDomino

      until the coalition government is corrupted by money…

      Anyway, for the amount of organization and energy necessary to overcome the two-party system, you almost might as well just shoot for revolution.

      1. Jackrabbit

        I agree that it *IS* a daunting endeavor.

        A Coalition of Parties across the political spectrum coming together to offer a National Unity Government (not unheard of elsewhere) _might_ be an effective way to break (or loosen) the stranglehold.

        1. Jackrabbit

          To complete the thought…

          Such a coalition, might quickly build momentum as it would be front page news AND would build on what is already there (multiple parties and associated organizations).

          It would be a middle ground between defeatist (many would otherwise just not vote) and the ‘revolution’ that you mention (an option which, I think, strains credulity as it is probably only viable under the most dire circumstances).

          ==========

          I really haven’t seen anyone write in with any real drawbacks. IMO, the major Third-Parties should consider the pros and cons. If they could work something out, they have a fighting chance of WINNING.

          1. Jackrabbit

            Well, it wouldn’t make front page on every paper. But I would think there would be a quite a few.

            I wouldn’t claim to be a media or political expert but it _seems_ worthwhile to consider.

          2. ZygmuntFraud

            I think that to understand what doing politics
            means, it’s best to try out politics at a low level.
            The part about talking to voters, going from town to
            town, rallying support, getting endorsements: all may be important. But, I’m an arm-chair potical observer…

    4. TK21

      “But the progressive dream seems to be that if Obama loses, then the Democratic Party will >magically< see the error of their ways and nominate someone that will uphold their ideals."

      No, not really. I'm voting for Jill Stein because she is the best candidate.

      "The problem is … this is a dream. If Obama loses, we will get ANOTHER Obama."

      Exactly, which is why the party that foists such people upon us must be abandoned.

      1. Jackrabbit

        You are right. And there are others that share your principled approach (including me).

        But from a practical point of view, the principles of a few are not going to change the Duopoly’s stranglehold anytime soon (if ever).

        You (and many others), I think, are hoping that more people see the light and change their views. In my humble opinion, based on recent history, this is a hopeful but unlikely occurance.

        The Duopoly is too well organized, too well funded, and there are many smart, well-paid professionals in each organization that will out-maneuver almost any effort to pull substantial support away from the two parties.

          1. ZygmuntFraud

            In the case of France, I used to think that there
            was the French Revolution of 1789, and that was
            basically it.

            Not so. Currently, it’s the Fifth Republic
            (begun in 1958) in France, since the 1789 Revolution.
            On top of that, there were constituted a First Empire, a Second Empire and a Restoration (the Bourbon House).
            At Wikipedia:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Fifth_Republic

    5. Howard Beale IV

      Stoller couldn’t get Grayson re-elected, so why should he be seriously listened to? I had an old PM say ‘you’re only as good as your last project’-looks like Stoller’s most recent projects have been failures.

      1. TK21

        Yes, 2010 was such a good year for Democrats. Anyone who couldn’t get a Democrat elected that year must not know what they are talking about.

      2. cwaltz

        I don’t know Stoller and don’t feel overwhelming desire to defend his honor so to speak.

        That being said, what a retarded point of view to suggest that just because a person fails at something that they should be discounted.

        There is strength in failing and then having it in your character to get back up and try more after learning from your mistakes.

        Quite frankly, I wouldn’t trust someone who made it past 20 without at least some small list of failures. It strikes me that a person like that who doesn’t have a list thinks small or is dishonest. Definitely not the charecter type I prefer holding the reigns of leadership.

      3. Jonathan

        It’s not the legislative staffer’s job to get one’s legislator elected. That’s why they have campaign professionals.

        Grayson is way ahead in FL-9, though. I think he’ll get back in this year, barring fraud and with little thanks to the party organization. Perhaps he’ll renounce his party affiliation just after the election and won’t have to deal with Pelosi or whoever telling him to know his place and stop picking on the party’s patrons.

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        Stoller, as a Congressional staffer, could NOT work on Grayson’s reelection. To do so would be a monster ethics violation.

        Get your facts right before throwing stones.

    6. Synopticist

      Look folks, if Obama loses, because the left won’t support him, you won’t get a more leftist Dem next time, or “another Obama”.

      You’ll get a more rightwing democrat. As the reps continue their righwing drift, the dems will just occupy the political space the reps vacated.

        1. Synopticist

          Are you serious, Lambert?

          The reps have been driven rightwards by loopy shock jocks and Fox, the Talibanisation of American Christianity, by plutocrats who hate the very concept of paying taxes, and by the intellectual brilliance of Karl Rove. Thats 4 reasons.

          The idea “Obama is actually more centre right than anything else, lets go even further rightward” may well be a fifth, but he’s only been around for a half decade. The rightwing republican craziness started well before that.

          1. Lambert Strether

            Romney spent a good deal of time jettisoning all of that, which is why he pulled even in the race.

            In other words, Romney lied his way left.

            Maybe if Obama did the same thing, Social Security and Medicare wouldn’t be on the chopping block…

          2. Synopticist

            I hope I don’t sound dismissive with the “are you serious”.

            Actually, I must admit, when i first wrote the “obama’s basically centre-right, lets go more even further rightward” line, I was about to claim that wasn’t a reason at all, that Obama’s policies weren’t responsible in any way for the reps never-ending march into Randian dystopia.

            But I realised, as I was writting it, that was wrong. He HAS enabled the crazies to go even futher right, in a number of different ways.

            However, if he loses, the democrats, pussies that they generally are, won’t think “ooh, how do we get Matt Stroller to support us”. They’ll think “OK , lets just get the dwindling minority of relaltivelly sensible, fact based conservatives to vote for us, by appealing to their pro-upper middle class interests”.

          3. Synopticist

            “Romney lied his way left” is damn straight.
            And he’s got away with it, despite everything that he’s said in the last 6 years.

            I really have to say, despite my (profound) contempt for Obama, I really f*cking despise Romney with a passion. I’m arround forty years old, and i’ve been following politics closelly for 20 odd years, but I’ve never seen a dishonest a campaign as that man’s.

            I used to think he believed in nothing other than winning power, that the flip-flops were trully him. But I’ve come to the conclusion that theres one thing he really DOES believe- That he and his ilk really ARE the Galtian supermen, that they actually DO carry the rest of the human race on their backs, and they SHOULD be entitled to power and everyone else’s subservience.

          4. Lambert Strether

            @Synopocist: I’ve been more serious, it is true. However, Obama was been seeking Republican votes to his right since at least 2007 in the Iowa primaries when he put Social Security in play. (His campaign also explicitly sought Republican votes, as in “Democrat for a Day” IIRC.) So it sure is odd how insrumentally charges of racism and misogyny are deployed in 2012, when those same votes from that same party were sought assiduously in 2008.) It’s interesting to think what would happen if Obama were moving left, and to see Romney lie his way toward a Jobs Guarantee or Medicare for All, for example.

            When I say Romney “lied his way to his left,” I mean, basically, that “He cares enough to fake it.” Morally, there’s no difference between what Romeny’s doing now and the massive bait and switch on “hope and change” that Obama ran in 2008.

          5. Lambert Strether

            @Synopticist “However, if he loses, the democrats, pussies that they generally are, won’t think “ooh, how do we get Matt Stroller to support us”. They’ll think “OK , lets just get the dwindling minority of relaltivelly sensible, fact based conservatives to vote for us, by appealing to their pro-upper middle class interests.”

            Also, too, the money. Thing is, if you take the percentage of people who think ObamaCare isn’t liberal enough as a proxy for the size of the left, that’s IIRC about 15% of the population. That is not a neglible number; it’s about the size of the Tea Party. But to have any leverage at all, they have to break with the Dems, for the reason you state. The Democrats will always say “You have no place to go.” So we need to create that space, and as events from 2006 on show, the Democrats are not that space.

          6. Synopticist

            I think theres a huge difference between Obama’s “change” bullshit, and Romney total lie strategy. One’s normal, the other is a whole new thing.

            (Incidently, Tony Blair said something in relation to David Camerons electoral strategy, about how “Time for a change” is the most vacous slogan in politics. I wonder what he would think of “Forward”)

            But look, 15% is around a third of the democrat party’s base support. As you say, about the same size as the Tea Party. So why NOT go Karl Rove/TP, why NOT build a more leftist democrat party, victory by victory, caucus by caucus, election by election?

            The US 2 party system sucks, but the dems are only gutless pussies because the people in charge are like that. I know, money and sh*t, but how about the unions?

            They’re pretty big funders, and they’ve got the full time activist core. The days of pro-war, racist union leaders is well gone.

  16. Susan the other

    Michael Pettis. I’d just like to hear the discussion on why the growth model has now (2008?) changed and economies must rebalance. Economies were out of balance for 50 years. Everyone knew the world was unstable. So why now do we suddenly have to become economically sustainable? China has to create domestic demand. Japan can tag along. There will be an Asian bloc using the renminbi as China creates demand, but the euro will fall apart, (?) and the dollar will hit the fan. I’m just wondering why nobody sought to minimize hardship in advance of what was going to be an obvious failure of economic direction. There was never a sustainable market anywhere, there was no alternative for capital investment but to stimulate even as it failed to work, there was not a lack of worker productivity – there was hyper-productivity. Things couldn’t have been encouraged to be more “out of balance.” To pretend now that the solution is to go quietly into austerity and the economics will rebalance is just plain unadulterated nonsense. Unless the thing he is obliquely referring to is only export surplus trade – the masquerade of the last 50 years. No more Japanese style exporting your way out of an imbalanced economy – that global model just floods the market with goods that won’t sell. And not a word about climate change or the environment? Very poor analysis I’d say.

  17. cwaltz

    This is the first time I read the Stoller piece in full (I’ve been reading parts thanks to the collective teeth gnashing or lack thereof.) I agree with him for the most part.

    I do have a minor quibble with him that a third party could not succeed. I think that it is likely that there would be overlap for a number of years if we were to reach a tipping point. I think it is well within the realm of reason that if the Democrats do not their collective crap together that there will be a period of time where they will descend while an alternative like the Green Party could ascend. Mind you, I do believe that there could be a point where the Democrats would fade into the almost third party status that was once assigned to that other party. I don’t believe though that one cycle of winning would not cement anything. Neoliberalism will not die easily. It will have corporate life support for several years before it’s overlords would decide that it outlived its usefulness (and while they tried to figure out how to co opt or buyout the alternative.)

    He is right that there needs to be a somewhat collective plan on how to make the parties that are supposed to be representing us behave in the way we wish. It never ceases to amaze me that our side of the aisle always seem to reflexively engage in a game of punch the hippy instead of using the passion to form a coalition of shared ideals and advance ideas even if strategies are not necessarily the same. The number of people calling people sellouts or morons is positively astounding coming from the side of the aisle that supposedly prides itself on open mindedness.

    1. Jackrabbit

      I agree with him for the most part also.

      There is a lot of public education that needs to occur before people will vote for one or more Third Parties enought to make them contenders, though.

      For example, many people that I’ve talked to think that the Primaries obviate the need for Third Parties.

      Yet at last week’s debate, many of the Third Parties actually AGREED on many core issues. And, one might speculate that if they (collectively) saw a real chance to WIN, they might actually agree on more. If one takes note of that, then it is not much of a stretch to wonder if they could form a coalition.

      (Again, I am not too hopeful, but I think the possibility can spark some useful “out-of-the-box” thinking and discussion.)

      1. cwaltz

        The primary system doesn’t appear to work very well though. The Democratic elite have to much power in deciding whether or not to allow a candidate to advance through funding.

        It’s somewhat ironic that the Democratric elite have no problem utilizing third parties when it suits them. Look at Connecticut and Joe Lieberman or this cycle at Angus King and Maine.

        It’s only the voters or grassroots that get criticized for the “spoiler effect” of third partyism. As lambert would say “that’s a feature, not a bug.

        1. Plinue

          The primary system doesn’t work, period. When the California Democratic Party’s Progessive Caucus tried to investigate the possiblity of a left-wing challenge to Obama, they were suspended from the Party, and would have been expelled if they hadn’t recanted.

          At the time, the Obama partisans were all screaming that a primary challenge would undermine Obama and pave the way for the wingnut Religious Right candidate the Repulbicans would surely nominate to win the general.

          (ISTR that the partisans’ consensus back then that Romney wasn’t all that dangerous but to even imagine that he would be the nominee was delusional wishful thinking.)

          The only reason that the primaries are being touted as the “right time” is that they aren’t happening now. They were the “wrong time” when they were actually happening, and somehow there will always be some reason why now (whenever now happens to be) is “obviously” the wrong time. Jam tommorow, jam yesterday, etc.

          1. ZygmuntFraud

            Perhaps it’s never the right time to even think
            about fielding a leftish candidate opposing Obama
            or a Democratic President successor to Obama …

  18. ChrisPacific

    The Glenn Greenwald piece nailed the Michael Lewis Obama article pretty well, I thought. The Obama administration obviously identified Lewis as someone with influence and decided to buy him. The offer was unprecedented access to the most powerful man in America. Lewis is a Vanity Fair journalist. The results were predictable.

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