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Links 2/23/13

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Basketball trained sea otter ‘shoots hoops’ for exercise – video Guardian (John L)

Honey, It’s Electric: Bees Sense Charge On Flowers NPR

U.S. air-dropping toxic mice on Guam’s jungle canopy Associated Press (furzy mouse)

Video: Watch coronal rain fall on sun’s surface Earthsky (furzy mouse)

Understanding extreme weather in an era of climate change ars technica (Carol B)

The first real, high-resolution, user-configurable bionic eye ExtremeTech

Minnesota cellphone Amber Alert located child and was a nationwide first Twin Cities. Boy, am I glad I have a really stupid phone. And I have a sneaking suspicion that they chose this “first use” as one that had high odds of being a pressworthy success (similarly, the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List is bad guys they are pretty sure they are about to nab).

Microsoft joins the Friday afternoon hack confessional Financial Times

Is This How We Equalize the United States? Motherboard. The idea is amusing, and I like his name choices (Casco! Menominee! Yeah!)

Big Pimpin’: Is Mark Zuckerberg profiting off Thailand’s sex industry? Cocoanut Bangkok (furzy mouse). You heard it here first!

Chinese government officials are constantly wiretapping and spying on one another Washington Post. Carol B: “And this is different from the older fashioned dynasties that preceded it how?”

Blow for Osborne as Britain loses triple A credit rating in downgrade Telegraph

Eurozone recession set to continue Guardian. Quelle surprise!

Little audience for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ in Pakistan Associated Press (furzy mouse)

The Riddle of the Israel Lobby Counterpunch (Carol B)

Karl Rove Nazi Image Featured In Tea Party Patriots Email Huffington Post

Democrats’ Complicity in Political Murder CounterPunch

Catfood watch:

White House Wants Everyone to Know Obama Supports Cutting Social Security Benefits Jon Walker, Firedoglake

Kate Upton and Ryan Gosling Explain the Sequester Gawker (Lambert)

Krugman is Right about Simpson-Bowles: The Buzzards Circle the Fiscal Cliff Randy Wray, New Economic Perspectives. Good catch about Krugman’s silence on Erskine Bowles, card carrying member of Team Dem.

The Democratic turncoats behind the “Fix the Debt” attack on Medicare & Social Security Gauis Publis Americablog (Lambert). Oh, and Gene Ludwig, founder of Promontory, is on the “fiscal committee“.

Two 2016 Prospects Spotlight Democrats’ Identity Crisis Truthdig

Elizabeth Warren has formed a PAC: Elizabeth Warren – PAC for a Level Playing Field. She had said when she was considering a Senate run, that she thought she could be particularly effective, since she didn’t intend to run for a second term and therefore wouldn’t be spending half her time on fundraising like other Senators. Guess that plan went out the window.

MMT Too Hot to Handle for Bulgaria’s Mainstream Newspapers heteconomist

Power Grab at the Fed CounterPunch (furzy mouse). This has been going on for a while, but this is a good update.

Private-label mortgage securities take root Financial Times. Well I am pretty astonished. Even the most bullish types said there wouldn’t be a private label mortgage securities market before 2015 (this as of October last year), and no less than Scott Simon, head of mortgage investments for Pimco, said it would never come back (at least in its recent form). Fools and their money, particularly in time of ZIRP. Hunger for yield will apparently overcome product features hopelessly skewed against investors.

Mindful of Bubbles in a Boom for Deals New York Times

Apple Loss to Einhorn Raises Pressure for Investor Payout Bloomberg

Wealthy disagree with most Americans about income policies PhysOrg. Chuck L: “Why am I not surprised?”

On Economic Justice Ian Welsh

What If? Paul Craig Roberts

Shame. Steve Waldman (Richard Smith). Today’s must read. I’m glad to see Waldman is (finally) outraged, but this sort of predatory behavior has been going on in medicine and in banking for years, and not one seems willing to rise up, or even take three minutes to craft a short outraged letter and send it to their Congressman and local newspaper or radio/TV station. People are simply NOT willing to stand up their neighbors, and then they wonder why no one is there when the hangman comes for them. See also: Steven Brill’s Opus on Health Care Slate. When even Yglesias gets it, you know it’s bad. As Maggie Mahar described years ago, and even Tyler Cowen agreed, medicine does not operate like a market, and trying to pretend it will operate in that paradigm will just produce a combination of crappy outcomes and wild overpricing.

Antidote du jour:

And a bonus antidote (YY):

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97 comments

  1. Kevin Smith

    I am the proud owner of Karl Rove’s father’s solid gold cock ring
    August 16, 2007

    A Little Bit of History

    Introductory Note

    A friend of mine recently told me this interesting story highlighting the hidden colorful characters many Republicans seem to have in their lives — characters and relationships that seem completely contradictory to some of their actions in public life. I’ll let you read for yourself so I don’t spoil the conclusion, but I’ll preface it by saying it took a little coaxing to get the story out of him because he’s (perhaps only partially in humor) worried that not long after this is printed he may “disappear”.

    In any case, I hope you enjoy this small bit of personal piercing history that intersects with the larger tapestry of what’s going on in world politics.

    It’s funny how people come into your lives. If you live long enough and pay attention to the world around you, you might realize the truth in that old saying that each of us only six degrees from one another. Those connections for most of us are like the haze on a mirror after a shower; but wipe the surface with a clean cloth and you will see everything around you or maybe even the glue that holds it together.

    Louie was the first gay man to introduce me to piercing. After a career as a geologist for Getty Oil, he had retired in Palm Springs and owned an up-scale house off Farrell Street, at the end of Santa Ynez Way. His home was chock full with mementos, pictures of his kids, grandkids, art he had gathered on his travels; a library full of books, all kinds of videos, a fantastic classical CD collection — it was a place I felt at home. A mutual friend had said, “I think you’ll like Louie.”

    His compact back yard had the obligatory Palm Springs turquoise colored pool, water-tolerant plants and a mass of pebbles around fruit trees that served as a feeding area for birds. Louie was an amateur birder and each day he would throw out seed for the various kinds of finch that lived in the tall, tightly cropped oleander bushes that surrounded his yard.

    Besides being a home for birds, the oleander also provided a nice bit of privacy. And it was by the pool in the shade of the patio, on the floor in the library, driving off to Sunday brunch or on his bed that I heard the tales of his passions, saw the pictures of people in it, and got a glimpse of a man whose life intrigued me.

    All of this is not to say I viewed him a perfect man; he drank and smoked too much, was temperamental and never watched his diet. He held a grudge beyond reason and could be insulting … we lost touch because of his drinking. Personally, I just did not know what to do with people who drink too much. But for some time I just enjoyed my Palm Springs weeks, lazy days by the pool, laugher and story telling.

    And then during one Sunday brunch, with the boys at Cedar Creek on Palm Canyon Drive, his best friend Joe Koons turned to me and sort of whispered, “You do know who his son is don’t you?” “No!?” “He’s the chief of staff for the Governor of Texas.” Looking back I realize there was something more in that whisper, but at the time it passed by me.

    I didn’t know his son — all I knew about his family was what Louie recounted to me as I looked at their pictures in the living room. Other than that I was mostly bothered by their visits to Palm Springs or his to Santa Fe, since that meant the house was closed for other over-night friends. And as to his former wife, Louie told me he had come out and so they divorced. But when I saw his family photographs I just saw the usual groupings of people and smiling-faced portraitures.

    As a way to introduce me to piercing, he showed me a collection of the “world’s first body piercing magazine” — PFIQ (Piercing Fans International Quarterly). Those early magazines depicted a world many thought of “only as a handful of widely dispersed and closeted hardcore fetishists.” I was fascinated.

    And pictured in that magazine was Louie … well, not Louie’s face but it was definitely Louie’s piercings [Editor's note: in fact, Louie was one of their best known cover models!]. Louie had more genital piercings — all gold — than God … and there they were, all pictured in that magazine. Pictures I took of those piercings are posted somewhere here on BME. I remember thinking, “I should share these with BME; it’s good place to store copies of them in case something happens to the originals.”

    (Click through to see uncensored pictures of Louie’s frenum ladders and more)

    Louie loved his piercings, they made him smile. People who are pierced will understand.

    So there on the floor in his library, amid teaching videos on piercings and piles of PFIQ’s, I listened to one man’s account of his travels through the Los Angeles piercing community in the 70′s and 80′s — the “piercing parties” with folks getting pierced on coffee tables in private homes, nurses that helped, and a guy named Jim. I knew about Jim. I had both my nipples pierced at The Gauntlet.

    Louie also knew about play piercing; I wanted to learn and so he taught me. And so between splashing in the pool, brunches, visiting his volunteer list of AIDS patients, eating at all numbers of restaurants, visiting friends who lived around the area, birding at the Salton Sea and eating TV dinners, we explored needles and the effect they have on you.

    During the day I was told the names of piercings … I hated the words but I wanted to know about each kind. To this day I’ve never gotten a dydoe because Louie told me it was a hard heal. I never copied Louie’s piercings but I never got them out of my mind. Some years after I last saw him, I found another friend, a professional piercer name Sque3z who took me on another journey recounted here on BME. Louie would be proud.

    Louie and I exchanged gifts over the years. He really liked those stainless ball weights and I like gold jewelry … so I have a 14 karat gold cock ring that once belonged to Louie, and he had a bunch of ball weights that belonged to me.

    So who cares about one man’s journey into piercing? For me it is not about a gossipy story, though some people will take it that way. It is not about telling secrets or things left best unsaid; it is about a little piece of history. Perhaps in telling this story someone else will be able to tell a better one another day.

    The “Jim” in this story is the Jim Ward who started the piercing industry. Louie is Louis Claude Rove whose adopted son’s first name is Karl. Louie died quietly in Palm Springs as his very secular, not-believing son ran President Bush’s campaign for President of the United States that energized the Christian evangelical base around the wedge issue of gay marriage…

    As I watched the news this week, I saw a Karl Rove standing beside the President, his voice crocking, talking about his love for Bush and his country but over that “noise,” I heard the memory of Joe Koons whispering in my ear.

    “You do know who his son is?”

    … Oh My God!

    And now I wondered if that son ever cried for the man who raised him and watched him grow up? I’d be curious as to how Karl Rove would ever explain his pierced, gay father? He never told the people in Louis’ phone book that he had died, nor invited them to a service if there was one. No one even knows where he is buried.

    As for me? Well, I am the proud owner of Karl Rove’s father’s pure, solid gold cock ring! I’ve put it away with a few memories and pictures of his father. And in my garden grows a nasty, prickly little cactus from Louie’s backyard … alive and well.

    – Yard[D]og

    P.S. I tried to put a bit of this in the Wikipedia site. It was immediately deleted. What can I say?

    =====

    FWIW, Wikipedia has this to say about Louis Claude Rove Jr.:

    Rove was born the second of three children in Denver, Colorado, and later raised in Sparks, Nevada. His biological father abandoned the family early on and his mother remarried. His new adoptive father, Louis Claude Rove Jr., was a mineral geologist, and his mother, Reba Wood, was a gift shop manager. His older brother is Eric P. Rove, and his younger sister is Reba A. Rove-Hammond. His adoptive father is of Norwegian descent.

    Reader comment: muckraker says,

    While the details about Louie Rove’s reported piercing hobby are new to me, his sexual identity was also mentioned in a book called The Architect, published in 2006. Regarding the essay author’s question about the relationship between Karl and his dad, there’s this part:

    Karl Rove frequently visited his father in the 1980s. Joseph Koons said he didn’t sense “any great tension” between Karl and his father. Rove keeps a photograph of his father on his White House desk and has remarked to reporters that his father “lived life exactly the way he wanted to live it.”

    The Huffington Post has two posts up about this book: Link 1, Link 2, and here’s a CBS News report.

    Related BoingBoing posts:
    Karl Rove’s Pierced Family Jewels, part 2: Jim Ward interview (audio)

      1. ambrit

        Sorry for the two fer, but the image just entered my mind of Rove crouching down somewhere crooning about “My Preciousssss!”
        One c— ring to rule them all?

      2. craazyman

        This is disgusting ad hominem filth, unredeemed by any form of relevance. Sad to see it pollute the mind-space like mercury emissions from a coal plant, even in the peanut gallery. A few folks here really need their Pacifex (TM). If it were me with the editorial kill button, it would be vaporized.

        1. ambrit

          Sir;
          What have you done with the real craazyman? We here at NC will cooperate in any way possible to obtain his release.
          (Unless, of course, this is very subtle humour.)

          1. craazyman

            It’s really me! I think this stuff is such a cheap shot. Isn’t there enough about Mr. Rove to critique without this sordid titillation? He isn’t responsible for his father.

            Who among us doesn’t have eccentricity in our families. Let that person cast the first stone.

            It’s like purposefully flattening the punter in the NFL with a safety blitz or paying bounties to injure opposing team players.

          2. ambrit

            Dear craazyman;
            Yes, I agree, it is a cheap shot. But, this is politics after all.
            The piece subtly raises serious questions about Mr. Roves’ motivations for his actions over the years. I’m no angel, but neither do I go about attempting to enable the imposition of a totalitarian society upon the people of this country. Mr. Rove most certainly does.
            You characterized the piece as an ad hominem attack. Wiki describes ad hominem as an “informal fallacy” or an irrelevance. The character flaws of influential people are most definitely relevant. To the extent that they influence how our society is managed, character becomes a deciding factor.
            As many of us have learned to our discomfort, ridicule and obloquy are very potent weapons on the social arena. Mr. Rove, being by choice a “public person,” must accept all the slings and arrows that outrageous fortune throws at him. He’s slung enough mud himself.
            Finally, as to the style issue in play; perhaps it would be a good thing for web sites to have some sort of passive “Offensive Images or Words” blurb that the posters themselves, if they were honest with themselves, could easily affix at the beginning of a contribution. I myself hadn’t known what ‘NSFW’ meant. I had supposed it was some sort of Oz tag for New South F-ing Wales. (Lest I end up with yet another blast from Strether about funding woes and the like, my suggestion is meant for some nebulous “Third Party Internet Vendor” or other entrepreneur.)
            You are generally a voice of reason on this site. I admit, you are probably right about this issue too. However, it most certainly is a lot of mean spirited fun. Just look at the old “Private Eye” magazine in England for an idea of just how much fun.
            We live in degenerate times.
            Ciao!

          3. Lambert Strether

            It is a cheap shot, so craazyman is right; I used to be much more into cheap shots back in the day, when I thought Republicans were the problem.

            However, may I plead a “turn about is fair play” exemption for an extreme case? Rove is not responsible for his father, but he is responsible for targeting those of his father’s orientation in a campaign of strategic hate management to win his candidate votes (and that’s really bad for those voters, too).

            Finally, if you read all the way to the end of the post, there’s the matter of the still unexplained visits of Jeff Gannon of “Talon News Service” who somehow turned himself into a journalist, with a White House press pass, after his previous career as a male prostitute. How did that happen, how did he and what was with all his visits to the White House? I plead the same exemption as above, except in the context of “family values.”

            NOTE So far as I’m concerned, Rove Senior and Guckert can do what they like, “as long as they don’t frighten the horses,” but again, the White House of that time did not feel that way, or at least acted is if similar practices, by others, really mattered.

          4. different clue

            Since politics is now a zone of zero sum warfare, if a cheap shot opens up on a lucrative enemy, would it be wrong to take the cheap shot? Would it be irresponsible not to?

          5. Cb

            What about this is a cheap shot? I didn’t take it as ad hominem or filthy, which is absolutely in the eyes of the beholder. Now, if the author had described the sexual details, I might have found it salacious……but I would still have read it.

            I think it’s heartening that someone honored Louis Rove as he was.

          6. craazyman

            ya know maybe you guys are right. I didn’t really read it all yesterday. And Cb made me think. I rushed to judgment in a way, because I’m such a prude. So what if some dude puts jewelry in his private parts. it is what it is.

            Although this quote is very suspect: “Louie had more genital piercings — all gold — than God”. I’m not sure that statement can be fact-checked. But I just can’t see God with genital piercings. A toga and a staff, no pun intended, yes. But no jewelry in the private areas of the body. God must have a big staff. Just think about that. It would be a big ring, that’s for sure. hahahahah

          7. Cb

            The most important thing about cock rings, I gather, is to make sure you can get them off. ER staff can attest………

            If you want filthy, there were a coupls of pieces in Granta that fit in. One by a writer who spent some time in Cuba post revolution looking for Hemmingway’s hideaway and instead ended up with an expatriate American writer/sex addict who kept a prostitute in his foyer, I believe it was, to service him at literally a moment’s notice. The sex addict spun a few tales–reported in chaste outline form by the article writer–of running around pre Castro Havana’s seedier sex depots with John Kennedy, who would hop down to the Carribean’s flesh spots every so often to take in the pleasures with a seasoned and enthusiastic guide. That was illuminating, if not very surprising.

            The other was a narrative fiction that I suspected wasn’t fiction but presented as such so as not to drive off the audience. An American in Bosnia has a quiet chat with a young Muslim who’s acting native guide and translator for Serb “soldiers.” Inside a house, the American has seen what he takes as a characoaled dog and her three puppies. The Muslim man explains it’s a woman and three children. She was stripped, order onto hands and knees, sodomized, she and the babies doused in gasoline, and lit up. The blackened lumps are human remains. It’s written very matter of factly, reamrkable calm and composed, no outrage visible. I believe it actually happened.

            I haven’t seen it in years, but Granta used to be a very worthwhile read.

  2. gonzomarx

    bank of dave is back on UK channel 4 this week.

    “The day after Bank of Dave first aired, local people queued to put money into Dave’s care and the world’s press flocked to Burnley to see his ‘bank’ in action. Politicians from all sides were quick to jump on Dave’s banking bus to show their support and praise his common sense.

    Hailed by many as the ‘People’s Banker’, Dave received letters pleading for him to open a branch in other towns too. But not everyone was a fan – the FSA (Financial Services Authority), which regulates the banking industry, had its own nasty surprise in store…

    Has Dave managed to get the banking world to listen? Have the naysayers of the banking world eaten their words? Has the promised support of the politicians turned into real policy reform? And was Dave able to stand up to the regulator and keep his tiny local ‘bank’ open for business?”

    previous episodes and other stuff http://tinyurl.com/bg5vf2b

  3. Bill Smith

    Minnesota cellphone Amber Alert located child and was a nationwide first.

    Not sure your stupid cell phone is immune from this. They can locate the cell phones they want to talk to when the cell phone touches a cell tower to tell the system it’s there. All cellphones do this.

    Thus they can ‘call’ or ‘text’ all the cellphones that are in current contact will a specific cell tower.

    You would have to turn your cell phone off to avoid this.

    Though I noticed in the old days when entering some ‘secure’ environments I had to turn off the cellphone and then remove the battery. Now I have to leave the cell phone in a locker outside.

    1. Ned Ludd

      FEMA has information on their website about the Commercial Mobile Alert System, which is used to send Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). These alerts do not work with all phones; compatible phones automatically “pop up” the alert and sound a special signal.

      While not all handsets now on the market are capable of receiving WEAs, some phones may be upgradeable and it is anticipated that most commercially available phones will be WEA-capable by the end of 2014. Until then, it is possible for one person to receive WEAs while another person in the same area may not.

      This is how the journalist described the “unique ring tone and vibration” in his blog post, from a few days before the article:

      At about 3:39 p.m. today, as I rode shotgun in the minivan with my wife at the wheel, my iPhone 5 screeched like a banshee.

      It startled me; I had never heard anything like it. (Good thing I wasn’t driving.)

      The government will blast you with alerts unless you opt-out. Even then, there are exceptions:

      In addition, individuals will be able to opt-out of Imminent Threat or AMBER alerts. Individuals will not be able to opt-out of Presidential alerts.

      1. Ms G

        “In addition, individuals will be able to opt-out of Imminent Threat or AMBER alerts. Individuals will not be able to opt-out of Presidential alerts.”

        It is 4:29 am in a county in the far west of Chairman Mao’s new China, circa 1970. “Screeeeeeeeech!” Reveille for all good Mao people!

        Wow. So I guess USGov hates Socialism but Communism is ok … :)

  4. AbyNormal

    hmmm… so Fuckerberg’s IPO dive was reversed off the backs of impoverished children traded for sex

    When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses. Shirley Chisholm

  5. jsmith

    From the why won’t this mf-er die already so that he can lick the balls of his master in hell department:

    Here’s an expose from the Nation – yes, I know – detailing the star-studded “populist” cast of Pete Peterson’s ad campaign hitting Fix The Debt the airwaves soon.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/22-8

    “Even Chelsea Clinton and George Stephanopoulos are in on the fix. In his latest effort to birth a group of bipartisan baby hawks, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation has announced a $10,000 cash prize to the college student who creates the best project “designed to educate their peers on the effects of the nation’s rising debt.” Chelsea and George will judge the contest, along with Simpson and Bowles.”

    Y’mean, Chelsea Clinton is as amoral as her parental units?!

    Whodathunkit.

    Reason number one million or something why billionaires should not be allowed to exist:

    Even if they somehow are NOT deranged sociopathic criminals – yeah, I know – they wield such inordinate power that they can carry on nonsensical jihads against the betterment and survival of mankind just for, well, just for their own kicks.

    Oh, and a chance to lick Satan’s balls, I guess.

  6. danb

    Re Elizabeth Warren’s PAC, Yves writes, “since she [Warren] didn’t intend to run for a second term and therefore wouldn’t be spending half her time on fundraising like other Senators.” But Warren did not say she would not run for president…in 2016.

      1. CB

        It’s quite forthright and scepticism is always the proper political perspective. She could simply be executing the Manhattan for trinkets strategem: throw out a few shiny trinkets for public show and do the big dirty deals out of sight. Works very well and people are delighted with their dog parks and intersection improvements while the foundations of an equitable and just society are steadily eroded.

      2. danb

        “Too bad,” Tomm? Let’s be empirical, shall we, and judge her by her deeds. Supported single payer, then claimed she did not -”too bad” Tomm, or toeing the party line? Let’s see how she breaks on “shared sacrifice” cuts to the Safety Net.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          She’s already said she’s in favor of them, just in double-speak. She tries to hide her position by saying she’s against privatization:

          Most independent deficit analysts say entitlement projected spending will need to be reduced to solve the budget deficit. We should start there before we even consider breaking the promises we made to our seniors. It would be a breach of trust–and just plain poor economic policy–to jeopardize these programs with unnecessary cuts or risky privatization schemes, especially when the wealthy and well-connected continue to enjoy special tax deals.

          So cuts are fine, just not “unnecessary” cuts.

          She has also said she’s in favor of “modest changes” to Social Security.

          http://www.ontheissues.org/economic/Elizabeth_Warren_Social_Security.htm

          I have not seen any indication that she opposes chained CPI. Just Googled to see if she had said anything either way. I could have missed it, but I did not find anything. AARP asked her and Scott Brown for specifics and again, I’m not able to find that she provided them. She has said Obamacare will solve the health care cost problem (as her answer to the cost increases projected for Medicare, which is the biggest driver of budget problems, we separately debunked the forecasts in an earlier post). That isn’t a very persuasive answer.

          http://www.wickedlocal.com/wareham/topstories/x2053812538/AARP-demands-Medicare-Social-Security-plans-from-Senate-candidates

          1. CB

            I’m guessing Warren has been given permission to put on a Bernie Sanders kinda dog and pony show (for the rubes) as long as she supports the PTB as directed.

            I’m also guessing Chris Christie cleared his Congressional harangue with the PTB beforehand: he running for office and needing all the PR he can get and they willing to take a pulled punch for the sake of boosting the image of a right wing governor. Back channel all the way. Ugly.

          2. different clue

            People could start letting Senator Warren know that they will not support her or any other Democrat for any national-level office ever again if the slightest change whatsoever is made to Social Security or Medicare. It might not help, but then again it might.

            Meanwhile, letting all the other relevant DemParty officeholder/seekers and high party functionaries know the same thing too.

          3. LucyLulu

            In December, reported in Salon, Warren wasn’t going to make any entitlement cuts.:

            “Beyond tax increases for the wealthy, she has called for the elimination of many agriculture and oil subsidies, cuts to defense and an end to the war in Afghanistan (which costs about $2 billion a week) while leaving Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security untouched.”

            I made a small contribution to her campaign early on and thus get all the emails from headquarter, which are a lot. I thought it odd that the requests for donations continued. Geez, she just got elected, and worrying about a race 6 years off? It’s turned me off.

            Let’s see what happens with the sequester………
            Obama’s $4 trillion grand plan only calls for $100 billion cuts to defense. That’s $10 billion/year on a $600 billion budget (and apparently wars are funded separately as ‘overseas contingency operations’), less than the $130 trillion cuts he proposes with CPI for Social Security.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      She did say she wasn’t going to spend half her time fundraising, she’d be concentrating on her job. But since running for president would take 3/4 of her time, does that make her change any better?

      1. Laughing_Fascist

        Warren running for prez is mere speculation. The contest will be between Hillary and Biden for the Dem nomination and maybe a few others who likely will not come close to the prize. Warren announcing a run would be almost ridiculous unless she made a name for herself antagonizing Wallstreet. But that seems unlikely since she is assigned to the Banking Committee whose mission is to provide cover for the ongoing financial consolidation.

        If Warren really has no intent to run again for the Senate then she would be free to vote against seniors on SS/Medicare if that is her inclination. But how many rookie Senators have ever not run for a second term?

        I agree with the poster above who said we are a little negative on Warren. We ought to give her a chance to see if she can overcome the Senate straight jacket she has put herself in.

          1. Zachary Smith

            You people have started my tinfoil hat to vibrate and I’m hearing the voices in my head talk about 2016 – again. :)

            I’ve been predicting Hillary because she’s the obvious “throwaway” candidate to run against Republicans Triumphant. Hadn’t thought of Warren, but she would be at least as good, and dangling the prospect in front of her would make her more willing to jump through the hoops. (she might also behave to qualify for Hillary’s VP) And people here say they’re already seeing signs of her ‘rectifying’ her positions.

            Some traveling trolls could be part of the package – an instant ‘amen corner’ for the newly minted possible candidate. But that’s something she could do herself, so probably not.

            The icing on the cake could be a promise at a REAL shot for 2020, at which time she’d be only 67.

            My conspiracy notions about 2012 were shaped by Zero people willing to primary BHO, and by Zero Republicans of any stature higher than mouse-navel willing to run against him. I’m supposing they got the word to wait until 2016. BHO was going to stay in the White House for a second term, and IMO they all knew it.

            The radio in my car (as opposed to my cranial receiver) reminded me that Our Man Mitch is going to co-chair some high-profile national commission. Our distinguished university President (ahem) will be in the news even more.

            The possibility of that little bald-headed ***** becoming POTUS is really depressing.

  7. AbyNormal

    Iran Judiciary has handed down death sentence to four people convicted of involvement in the biggest embezzlement case in the country’s banking history.

    “The president of Bank Melli branch in Kish was slapped with life imprisonment and former deputy minister Khodamorad Ahmadi was sentenced to 10 years in prison,” Mohseni-Ejei, who is also Iran’s attorney general, added.

    Other defendants were handed down sentences varying from flogging to paying cash fines and being barred from public office, he said.

    http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/02/18/289652/iran-sentences-4-to-death-in-scam-case/

    AbyN, no comment.

      1. Chris Rogers

        @LucyLulu,

        The execute the odd white collar criminal in China, suffice to say, the Country still suffers from large amounts of public and private money vanishing into the ether – that said, the figure would probably be higher if it were not for the bullet in the back of the head to the guilty miscreants.

        Perhaps we in the UK and USA should take a leaf out of their books, whilst I’m usually morally opposed to the death penalty, I think with regards financial crimes against humanity an exception could morally be argued for.

        Personally, I like the idea of heads on pikes to send a message, perhaps said pikes could be placed on bridges crossing to Manhatten and at strategic places in DC.

        Only a thought, but anythings better than the present too big to prosecute argument doing the rounds.

  8. Ned Ludd

    Elizabeth Warren will toss aside her old positions, and lie about them, whenever they become inconvenient (video):

    Interviewer: But you do support single-payer, do you not?

    Warren: No, what I’ve got right now…

    Interviewer: You’ve written repeatedly that you have, have you not?

    Warren: Oooooh. I think you need to go back and take a look…

    Interviewer: I have a paragraph: “The most obvious solution would be universal single-payer health care. Single-payer care would also free families from dependence on an employers’ plan and make certain everyone is covered whether or not…” You wrote that with a co-author.

    1. Lambert Strether

      If Warren’s not for single payer, then she is in no sense a liberal, let alone a “progressive,” even without shudder quotes. Single payer is the only sane and humane health care policy on offer in this country today, and worldwide, it’s even a centrist solution. It would also save around $400 billion dollars a year (enough to cover all the uninsured) and many thousands of lives. Single payer is a fine way of distinguishing bullshit artists sane and humane policy makers, and unfortunately Warren failed the test. She is, of course, a Democrat.

  9. Manofsteel11

    Blame the Israeli Lobby.
    Don’t blame the settlers, the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships for not being brave and pro-active while ignoring popular sentiment, the right wing governments in Israel, the corrupt PLO and militant Hamas, the violent methods these parties choose over the Ghandi way, short term economic interests by small groups, intervention by parties not interested in peace, whomever provide weapons and funds to buy them, horrible experience trying to implement the Oslo accords (or not), huge cultural and economic differences creating asymmetry, religious fanatics on both sides sanctioning a zero sum game, the complexity of peace arrangements (to encompass not only territorial change but also splitting a major city while leaving it functional,, resolving the claims of Arab and Jewish refugees, reconfiguring the mindsets, practices and capabilities of entire institutions, etc) and while one could add many more items, one should note that the US is rarely successful in resolving lingering conflicts and establishing stable agreements based on mutual concessioms as it is in waging war, even when there is NO lobby involved…

    1. Lee

      The success of Gandhian tactics depends very much upon the nature of one’s opposition, the existence of a more radical and violent revolutionary alternative, and finally the winning over of state power that enjoys a monopoly of the means of violence so as to institutionalize the desired reforms.

      While it is probably true that peaceful protests may engender broader public support, the ever increasing disapproval of Israeli policy appears to be having little positive effect.

      For those of us who believe that modern Israel was a wrong idea from day one and wonder by what moral principle is it acceptable for Palestinians to pay for the sins of European anti-Semitism, debates about the tactics of the oppressed that assumes a false moral equivalency between Israelis and Palestinians, are of little importance.

      1. PeterS

        Of course, change history and dismantle a state with millions of inhabitants in the name of theoretical justice.
        After all, if you can do this, you can eliminate all those sovereign entities that were founded during the 20th century as imperialism was transformed.
        And while arguing that the Jews don’t have any affinity to that piece of land, why not extent this pure logic to include this small group in Tibet, unify Cyprus, push the Kurds out of multiple countries (is there a sea nearby?) send all those annoying immigrants from US soil (European included?), and bring peace to the world?
        Or better yet, re-write history. Argue that Jews were never ever there, and claim that Palestinian governments ruled the land for centuries. This way you can ignore Ottoman imperialism, avoid the question of whether Hashemite Jordan is legitimate given its Palestinian majority, forget about Egyptian rule of the Gaza Strip, imagine that Syria and Lebanon were not a European invention, avoid questions about the legitimacy of the enlightened Saudi ‘monarchy’ and other oil-rich tribes, invent new straight lines when it comes to Iraqi borders, and bring about progressive liberal rule to Egypt.
        All in the name of a rational value-driven discourse. Unbiased indeed.

        1. Lee

          Your sidestep is indeed an awkward one. How about this: quit using my tax dollars to support a colonial, apartheid project on the basis of utterly false moral claims, that serves no existential economic need, and represents a major geopolitical security risk to the U.S.

          Land claims for lives lost and future security would have been better levied against Germany, Austria and other truly guilty populations.

          As for dismantling modern Israel, the Israeli government is doing a bang-up job of dismantling the idea of Israel so that we are seeing for ourselves
          “…what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
          Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

          1. Synopticist

            There are a lot of domestic Isaeli political pressures that tell against a meaningful peace. The left has almost given up on having any policies at all to do with the “peace pocess”.

            The Israeli Labor party has been deserted by history, they used to win majorities in the eighties, but get no votes at all from former Russian or orthodox voters. They’re demographically screwed, as well as being politically inept.
            Peres especially f*cked up in the nineties after Rabin got shot, when he could have walked a election victory, but waited long enought for the right to rebound. They helped create the “No decent Palestinian leaders” narrative, without realising this meme was only going to embolden the rightwing.

            Plus Netanyahu is an evil genuis, a status-quo politician who benefits from keeping the situation preciselly as it is. So, while the poltics remain high tension, with a discredited Palestinian leadership , hyper-partisan, and US dependent, Netanyahu is able to retain power. He also happens to be brilliant at campaigning, and building and maintaining coalitions. And he’s a lying shi*rag.

        2. jsmith

          Or how about just for the reason that Israel is a nuclear-armed genocidal apartheid state that is in violation of scores of UN resolutions and international treaties?

          Is it any surprise that people are thinking of wanting to dismantle Israel as it heeds no laws, respects no treaties and has engaged in war crimes every single day of its existence for the last five decades?

          Is that too theoretical, Peter haSbara?

          And you’re SURPRISED that people would start to think like this?

          As to your deflection canards:

          Gee, I sure don’t remember millions of Lebanese and Syrians being displaced to make way for Europeans do you, hasbarist scum?

          Or how about even though the Palestinians are still bearing the brunt of European guilt for their crimes, the Israelis still want more Lebensraum?

          Here’s a link showing that the Israelis just this week have green-lighted drilling for oil on Syria land.

          Gee, that’s wouldn’t be just ONE MORE belligerent action on the part of Israel, would it?

          http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/02/21-7

          “In a move that many anticipate will incite international protest, Israel has authorized oil drilling in the occupied Golan Heights territory, awarding the first contract to a US-Israeli energy firm.”

          Why, weren’t the Syrians just the worst of Auschwitz capos?

          I guess, it’s just all so theoretical in hasbara land.

          I understand you people probably get paid to spout such inane horsesh!t on blogs in response to people speaking honestly about the pariah nation of Israel but you should still be addressed every time you try and sling your sh!t around anywhere.

          I believe that the world needs to try and first confront this pariah nation through peaceful means: boycotting their products and people – yes, even their central bankers, thank you – impose sanctions and divest from this nation until they would like to join the rest of the world in the 21st century – an ugly one albeit – but one in which we can at least try and not have open-concentration camps and the building of separation walls due to virulent racism.

  10. diptherio

    “Blow for Osborne as Britain loses triple A credit rating in downgrade”

    Ozzy is so depressed about the downgrade of his country that he turns, once again, to the coke. So sad. (that’s what the story’s about, right?)

      1. Furzy Mouse

        I am the joyous “owner” of a red and a silver both male Thai Ridgebacks….may folks are amazingly scared of them! Mine are mostly quite gentle; just got them to adopt a stray kitten we found…

        1. C B

          You have to be an informed partner to any living thing. Even plants have their species particulars: a friend’s husband advised her not to plant ivy “there.” She learned the hard way both that vines are essentially outlaws and are almost impossible to extirpate once they’ve got started. She’s much more knowledgeable now. I’m sure your Thais have their own weltanschauung.

          I believe you cannot own any living thing.

  11. diptherio

    Re: Private Label Mortgage Securities

    Didn’t you say just yesterday, Yves, that the rule of finance is “everything can be solved with price?” Apparently, someone has solved the “rotten sardine” pricing problem, so game on!

  12. Inter

    Yay for Waldman. When you’re a recovering technocrat there’s this lingering dissociative fog: technical analysis, the thing for which you were trained and paid and behaviorally reinforced, turns out to be pointless and even pernicious. Kleptocrats perverted the terms of reference to turn you into a weapon.

    Seems like there’s some protective effect if you got educated before you got trained. For this commenter the onset of outrage was like a regression to callow liberal-arts days when ethics and empathy were allowed. It helped to find out that the wider world never lost sight of that stuff. They’ve been working it and reworking it and fleshing it out until it’s as precise and consistent as any pro forma or finding or weapons-platform RFP. It’s the code the world called for in 1945. It aims to codify the public interest. Hold our criminal regime up to it and it demolishes the state’s raison d’etre. So naturally the kleptocracy suppresses it and vilifies it till even the Greens are afraid to invoke it here at home, where it’s binding law.

    Right, your state is a cancer, your society is diseased and what used to be your country is a liquefying corpse with squirming maggots. So we start over. But not from scratch. We just rejoin the civilized world.

  13. Zachary Smith

    The link about the impending try to control the snakes on Guam was a good one – the best of several articles I’ve read on the subject. It set me to thinking how a version of the scheme could possibly exterminate the pythons in Florida.

    I’m afraid I’m not as happy with the piece by Paul Craig Roberts – “What If?” Dreadful is simply too kind a word for it. I’m seeing more and more of this right-wing/libertarian crap about how Hitler and Stalin ought to have been treated as a pair of Kilkenny cats left to fight the death and eat each other up until only their mustaches were left. This is total BS!!

    Dr. Roberts is not a stupid man, but some of the stances he takes don’t justify any other word except “stupid” or one of its synonyms in those instances.

    Take a look at his wiki – the part about “September 11, 2001 attacks”. That is fruit-loop stuff, especially this part:

    *** In November 2012 Roberts again referred to al Qaeda’s role in the attack as “unsubstantiated” ***

    Roberts has also dipped his toes into Sandy Hook Truthing, to wit:

    http://www.thedailybell.com/28492/Anthony-Wile-Now-Paul-Craig-Roberts-Wonders-About-RT

    Now there is an awful lot of crazy/loopy stuff going on in the world, and much of it is totally unnoticed. Knowing this is so tends to cause people to see spooks even in places where there aren’t any – I’ve noticed this tendency in myself.

    But the Naked Capitalism site does Roberts a disservice by linking to his “crazy crank” output. He still writes lots of good stuff, and concentrating on those articles and essays is best for all concerned.

    1. [Firstname] [Lastname]

      [Complimentary reference to site,] [transition to fact free label attack on unauthorized opinion RAND(nutty/fruitcake/crazy/conspiracy/loopy/paranoid)] [it is beneath you RAND(phrase table)] [sympathetic reference to source] [tell them what's best them]

      {COMMENT: N.B. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES MENTION HOW BRENNAN STONEWALLED HIS OWN AGENCY’S REQUESTS FOR ObL BACKGROUND.}

      LIARBOT™, H.B. Gary Superspy obstruction-of-justice Team, all rights reserved.

    2. Bibi

      Mordechai, you stupid shit, you have to run the bullshit exec before you send the fake comments! You are a disgrace to the Hasbara Division. This is important, you dumb schmuk, we have to destroy Paul Craig Roberts’ reputation before anybody notices what he said about US government complicity in our Zionist Final Solution!

    3. Susan the other

      I beg to differ. PCR is going deeper than that. His what if trick was about this: we went to war in 1941 for control of resources but we could not maintain our control (probably because we were dumb enough to pretend to free markets), therefore 9/11 was a necessity. And 9/11 suited our purposes. Why would AlQaeda do it? They don’t want a German-Russian Consortium any more than we do. Interestingly, a little town in England is suing the BBC for spewing false facts re 9/11. Of course, if they make their case, we’ll never get the story over here.

  14. kevinearick

    There is no private sector left, under the control of the banking system. No private sector, no economy. All Bernanke is doing is resetting the relative zero point on GDP, waiting for his population to die faster than entitlements are scheduled to be paid, and die they are. Anyone travelling sees the demographic deceleration.

    The green curtain is shrinking, however, and, as it does so, more and more people abandon the system, in a positive feedback loop. The problem for most is that they have nowhere to go because they have lived their entire lives under ponzi economics, free money from the top down to be paid in the future from the bottom up. They cannot escape the psychology created by the associated habits, reinforced over lifetimes. Free money is their oxygen, if only filtered through many peer pressure layers.

    Benny prints and they walk around in a shrinking circle, as the economy becomes a desert. If you have skills, are you going to exchange those skills for paper, or for gold? If majority rule takes your children, are you going to program its jobs away, let it die of its own dead weight, or simply remove it in war? The answer depends upon the counterweight required and the timing to release.

    Where did that money come from? From the folks at the top controlling the land, the artificial supply side economy, through the tax system. Remember me telling you to watch the Johnsons? After everything you have observed, do you really think there is more than one real estate company? If you are paying both sides of the vise to close, why are you surprised when you are forced into bankruptcy by real estate price inflation, especially if you are a flipper, depending on leverage provided by the same real estate company?

    Government is the bank, gravity, and its robots are looking to government for answers to the problems it presents? Turn it on its head, or, by all means, go to that Academy Awards gala. Gotta keep the fantasy going…

    1. different clue

      If the future develops as you suggest, why would I exchange my skills for paper OR gold? Why wouldn’t I exchange them for other skills? Or the product of other skills?

      1. kevinearick

        …and why would you put more work into your product of trade than those with inferior skills. Why should I work 8 hours when I get more done than others working 8 hours, in 2 hours?

        What is currency, gold worth?

  15. mw

    To Yves: Could you kindly add the following Time article to your Links? It hits the core of the health industry problems. Thanks.

    ‘Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us’ by Steven Brill , Feb.20, 2013

    1. Klassy!

      Yes, I agree. Here is a statement describing one of my all time pet peeves:
      In hundreds of small and midsize cities across the country — from Stamford, Conn., to Marlton, N.J., to Oklahoma City — the American health care market has transformed tax-exempt “nonprofit” hospitals into the towns’ most profitable businesses and largest employers, often presided over by the regions’ most richly compensated executives.

      1. Klassy!

        And good luck getting a letter in your local paper about it. When the hospital systems are such big drivers of the local economy and they’re doing such “good work” it isn’t going to happen. Instead, the local media is full of puff pieces touting all the wondrous things they’re doing and your need for their services which are absolutely the best in the land. All the hospital systems in my area are sitting on piles of cash. They’re all for the Medicaid expansion and have lobbied hard for it although they are quick to make statements stating they only get 75 cents from medicaid for every dollar of care they provide. This to me is like the infomercial shill who tells you their product has a value of 220 dollars but you can get it for 69.95 (order now!). How the hell do you validate their claim that they are losing money on the medicaid patient?

    2. LucyLulu

      That article, or collection of articles, in Time this month should be required reading for every American this month, and especially our legislators. It points out the crippling cost drivers in our healthcare system and it makes crystal clear that Obamacare does nothing to address them.

      We need a plan for REAL healthcare reform. That means it needs to be removed from the private sector. There are too many perverse incentives built into a private insurance model where less services result in more profits, and where different factors prevent customers from being able to seek the best value for their money.

    3. Jagger

      Superb article on the drivers for out of control medical expenses. I didn’t realize the incredible disconnect between actual costs and pricing. Medical pricing is clearly not driven by competition but to maximize profits by both hospitals and doctors.

      I highly recommend this articles and suggest forwarding to your representatives and any media outlets that might discuss the findings.

  16. Ep3

    Yves, I am currently watching a show on the DIY channel called “house of Bryan”. Bryan runs another show on the channel where he does construction fixes for people. House of Bryan is the story of Bryan building his family a new home because the current home is “inadequate” (it is not stated why its inadequate, the home is approximately 1300 square feet for a family of four). So to accommodate his family, Bryan builds a 3500 square foot home. For a family of four! Husband, wife, little boy, little girl. This home is 3 levels; 2 story and finished basement. Why the heck does a small family like that need 3500 square feet? My family of 6 ppl (5 of us are over 6 feet tall) grew up in a 1200 sq ft, 3 bedroom ranch. And of course there’s those urban legends of the Brady bunch growing up in something smaller than I grew up in.
    It reminds me of the story of the squirrels. A squirrel begins building its nest for winter. In the next door tree, another squirrel begins building his nest. But he builds it a little bigger than squirrel A. Squirrel A sees squirrel B building a bigger nest so he tears apart his current nest and builds a new one, bigger than squirrel B’s. This causes squirrel B to do the same. Now the squirrels are doing this in the name of survival (we think). Yet, are humans doing this in the name of survival? Will Bryan’s family not survive if he doesn’t build his wife a 3500 sq ft home, with an island kitchen, and a master bedroom and bathroom, and a pool out back? Oh don’t forget the special finished basement. I am glad Bryan is such a financial success that he can build this gigantic home for his family. In America, as a worker, I know I would be pretty pissed building my boss’s house, knowing that instead of getting another 1% raise, it was more important that my boss spends $40k on a swimming pool or $30k for kitchen cabinets (this channel and the shows are from Canada). Maybe Bryan is a generous boss; I hope he is. But here in America, the bosses love to rub it in the workers faces that the worker bee is barely making a living while the big shot boss is building a half million dollar home. That somehow the boss was given some wonderful gift from god that makes the boss holier than the average person. That the boss is one of god’s chosen and that somehow god loves the boss more than he loves the worker, or else if god did love the worker, god would have made him special just like the boss.

    1. Synopticist

      “…That somehow the boss was given some wonderful gift from god that makes the boss holier than the average person. That the boss is one of god’s chosen and that somehow god loves the boss more than he loves the worker…”

      This is such an American attitude. You don’t get it anywhere else in the world. It’s doubly ridiculous bearing in mind how unmeriticratic the States are, and how it totoally goes against the message of Christianity.

  17. Hugh

    Re Ian Welsh on economic justice, we make commitments to each other as members of our society. These commitments are our “rights”. For me, they should include the right to a good job that pays a living wage, good housing, good healthcare, good education, and good retirement. They should also include legal rights like habeas corpus, Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment protections, and a right to privacy. I think these are the minimum for a fair and decent life. What particular life you want to lead built on the foundation of these rights is your affair.

    The question of what people “deserve” in a fair and just society is not different from I outlined above. In the unequal and unjust kleptocratic society in which we live, what people “deserve”, that is what they contribute to society provides an important antidote to the economic indoctrination we have all received. Looking at the the rich and the elites who work for them, these questions can be applied to any and all of them: “Have any of them actually contributed anything positive to our society and if they have, do their wealth, privilege, and power in any way correspond to the level of that contribution?”

    The answer to the first question is that most have not contributed anything positive. Indeed most or many of affected our society in incredibly negative ways. But even for what may be called the “good rich”, their contributions are miniscule in comparison to the wealth they have accumulated.

    This is important to understand. We can have billionaires and elites or we can have a society based on what I suggest above. We can not have both. We do not have the resources for both. The choice is yours.

    1. Klassy!

      I was glad to see Ian Welsh’s post because it has been on my mind a lot lately. I don’t even like to delve into discussions of how our meritocracy is not real or that equal opportunity is a myth.
      Years ago I had hoped we would be beyond just aiming for some idea of equal opportunity. I hoped that people would realize that our rights were not simply to “equal opportunity” but to what Hugh described above. Every job that is truly useful should pay enough to live with security. Why do so many jobs that offer so little to society pay so well comparatively?

    2. LucyLulu

      I agree wholeheartedly with your ideas about what our society should look like. Some people feel differently, that we don’t have rights to good jobs, or healthcare, for example. What we need to do, at the very least, is to have a discussion and reach a consensus about what we want our society to look like. As it is, the 0.1% are making the decision for us. Predictably, it works out well for them. Not so much for the rest of us.

  18. Hugh

    One way to “equalize” the United States is to do away with the Senate. Why should a historical curiosity like Rhode Island have two Senators or vast empty spaces like Alaska and Wyoming? Why should they have the same number of Senators as states like California, New York, Texas, and Florida?

    Along with this, do away with gerrymandering. Put redistricting in the hands of nonpartisan commissions.

    These two things would take away much of the need for redrawing the statelines to which so many are attached.

      1. Hugh

        That isn’t much of an argument. You could defend anything from Jim Crow to the electoral college with it. What social benefit do we currently get out of having a Senate? None. So why keep it?

  19. RobM

    Earthsky video of solar rain brings this quote to mind and damn it’s beautiful video; “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.

    1. Zachary Smith

      I hope you have a copy of “The Final Cut” – it’s really great. :)

      The movie is a classic, and I love it. But I’ve come to hate that fictional society with a passion.

    2. Susan the other

      It was an indelible scene. But there will never be robots with souls. That was the point wasn’t it?

  20. SubjectivObject

    Snakes: How about an economic incentive for the the poor people: Put a good bounty on the snake head, sell 22LR bolt action rifles and rat-shot shells at a discount to cost, then stand back and watch what happens.

    1. Cb

      Put a dent in the human over population problem, as well. Two issues with one bullet, as it were. Not particularly efficient, but it’s a start.

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