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Links 3/10/13

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George W. Bush, Puppy Painter The Note. So cute!

We’re Screwed: 11,000 Years’ Worth of Climate Data Prove It Atlantic. Hockey stick too short.

Canada’s Arctic glaciers headed for unstoppable thaw: study Reuters

Cement in BP Macondo well never dried, leading to the blowout, expert witness testifies NOLA

A Must Read Account of Fracking Colorado Ecowatch. Lives up to the billing!

The Cassandra Complex Ian Welsh

A Solid Employment Report Tim Duy’s Fed Watch

US jobs data show economic renewal FT

And yet the labor force participation rate is still falling Marginal Revolution  (see also chart here).

Jobs numbers are far worse than they look Marketwatch. (See Hugh here and here.)

Don’t be fooled: 7.7% is likely a short-lived low in the US unemployment rate Dean Baker, Guardian

ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan: U.S. recession began around the middle of last year Econbrowser

Apathy over the Dow’s rise is unsurprising FT

Deeply Irresponsible Fiscal Policy Economists View

Brussels probes “soccer bubble” El Pais

Disrepair Forces Closure of Vital Shipping Lane Der Spiegel

Two die as Egypt protesters torch buildings, target Suez Canal Haaretz

Iraq: a display of declining US power FT

Wanted: PhDs Who Can Win a Bar Fight Foreign Policy. “Light footprint” interventions.

What Went Wrong in Afghanistan? Foreign Policy. (Same issue: The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan.)

Guantánamo guard shot ‘non-lethal’ round at detainees Miami Herald

Former DEA Chiefs May Profit From Illegal Pot, Critics Say US News (MS)

Drugs Now Legal If User Is Employed The Onion

Fired ACORN Worker Wins $100,000 Settlement From Republican Con-Artist James O’Keefe Bradblog

Of surveillance and scholarship Cannonfire

Feds Question Boeing’s Tests of Lithium-Ion Batteries in Dreamliners Wired. Ugly.

Annals of Quantitative Overconfidence, Boeing Edition Felix Salmon, The Street

Wells Fargo Typo Victim Dies in Court LA Weekly. Cold-blooded murder.

The Hard Road Ahead Archdruid Report

The tracks of my years: Photographer captures a decade-long adventure spent travelling across America on freight trains Daily Mail. The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed. 

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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57 comments

  1. Skeptic

    Interesting that Hitler was also a frustrated artist.

    Of course, there is a big difference between Adolf and George, Hitler was a painter before he committed his War Crimes and Bush became a painter after committing his War Crimes.

    Maybe we should worry less about sociopaths and psychopaths and more about frustrated artists.

    1. Really?

      Maybe one of those “draw this picture” Art Institute tests like they used to put in magazines before allowing them to run? A good puppy painter is a terrible thing to waste.

      Cheney? I imagine him as more of an explicit, snuff film, S&M pornographer type. Darkly obscene, deeply disturbing, and utterly psychotic images only.

      Rumsfeld? Post-modern, unintelligible, interpretive gibberish.

      Rove? Simple preschool finger painting only.

      1. Bev

        Trying again a shorter version:

        http://maxkeiser.com/2013/02/08/the-art-of-bush/

        THE ART OF BUSH
        Posted on February 8, 2013 by williambanzai7

        http://www.bartleby.com/70/4151.html

        Macbeth

        Act V. Scene I.

        Lady M (Macbeth). Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?

        ………..

        http://existentialistcowboy.blogspot.com/2012/01/aa-exposes-bushs-big-lie-flight-11-did.html

        AA Exposes Bush’s ‘Big Lie’: Flight 11 DID NOT FLY on 911!
        by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

        American Airlines is the source for information that AA Flights 11 (North Tower) and 77 (Pentagon) did not fly on 911. If neither flew on 911, the Bush ‘theory’ is a lie. If the Bush ‘theory’ is a lie, there remains only one explanation and that is: 911 was an inside job given a green-light by Bush himself.

        ……….

        http://existentialistcowboy.blogspot.com/2013/01/magic-bullet-my-ass.html

        January 04, 2013

        Magic Bullet, My Ass!

        by Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

        I once spent several hours with a famous witness to the murder of JFK —Rosemary Willis, often called the little girl in the red dress. She is easy to spot in the Zapruder films, running along the south side of Elm street just ahead of her father, Phil Willis. Phil Willis was taking 35mm slide films of the motorcade. Rosemary is seen running ahead and, suddenly, stopping! Rosemary showed me her father’s slides and a double-page center-spread from one of the Willis photos depicting the Grassy Knoll.

    2. Yves Smith

      We should be delighted that W has taken up painting. Would you rather have him continuing to meddle in politics, a la Clinton, and raising money for the deficit cutting, entitlement slashing crowd?

      1. Klassy!

        Ha! that was just my reaction when I read the story. I don’t really know what Bush has been up to otherwise, but I thought this has to be better than seeing Clinton everywhere spreading his third way manure.
        Actually, that is a bad metaphor. Manure is useful.

        1. neo-realist

          Bush baggage won’t matter if there is considerable election rigging with the help of gubernatorial republican governors and buddies in the voting machine companies. Jeb can also count on kid glove treatment from the corporate media and an intellectually lazy voting public with a short memory.

      2. Dan

        Would rather see him doing life in a tiny cage for war crimes & crimes against humanity, along with his co-conspirators

      3. Ms G

        Much better he should be painting rather than governing from beyond the title of office, like Clinton and now (quelle surprise) Michael Bloomberg.

        Still-Mayor Michael Bloomberg is already sneaking around ensuring that his tentacles on New York City outlast his interminable term as mayor. A joint venture of Soros’s Open Society Institute and Bloomberg’s “philanthropic” foundation (one of the panzers executing the Peterson Manifesto)has proposed to fund four private (charter) schools in NYC to be “synergistically” placed in the same locations as public schools.

        Bloomberg has not very successfully been evasive regarding his “foundation”‘s role in this Request for Proposals, which would be irregular to say the least since he is still Mayor.

        http://www.schoolbook.org/2013/03/05/city-takes-a-role-in-planning-four-new-charters/

  2. Jim Haygood

    The Econbrowser article about ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan plots seven of ten series used by the NBER in dating recessions. Of the seven, only one (personal income) shows a drop. The rest are rising. See for yourself.

    Meanwhile, never in history (never, ever) have stocks (a key leading indicator) continued to set new highs six or eight months into a recession. Stocks can be dismissed as a bubble if you like, but they furnish strong evidence that the U.S. economy has not been in recession since the middle of last year.

    This isn’t meant to pick on Lakshman Achuthan or Dr. Hussman, who also took up the cudgels to cry ‘recession’ last year. Forecasts are bloody difficult, especially about the future.

    But aks yoself: if smart guys like Achuthan and Hussman got it wrong, how in teh world can the twelve blind mice on the Federal Open Market Committee day-trade da freakin’ economy by centrally planning interest rates? How dat gonna work out?

    1. Can't Help It

      Ah well if we take the optimistic view, perhaps it’s time that Ben Bernanke got one right since his record prior to this has been a big fat zero.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      That stock bubble (yes, a bubble whether we like or not) is directly subsidized by Helicopter Ben’s PPT, whose balance sheet of mythical collateral has now ballooned to over $3 trillion, more than quadruple its historic average — with no end in sight under QEternity. Backed by pretend assets, our national currency is lent into existence at $85 billion a month, much of thru foreign banks, interest-free, and almost all of it gambled on “the Lord’s ‘work’” — in US equities and block-auction-to-rental real estate. Thus the Criminal Reserve Cartel (let’s call it what it is) is shoveling dollars at an unprecedented rate almost directly into the stock market and another housing frenzy.

      Of course it’s a bubble — another classic pump-and-dump bubble — where once again the insider money (Dimon, Blankfien, and cronies) gets out first. The so-called Fed is a reprobate serial bubble-blower, each bubble more explosive than the last. $85 billion a month is roughly $1 trillion a year, which approaches the entire annual federal budget of the US. The moment it stops printing/lending money at zero-percent, the bubble explodes along with WMD derivatives — in spectacular fashion. The question is only when, not if.

      There’s a critical perspective relative to the current political theater on cutting “entitlements”. The “Fed” is gambling with US currency at a level more than 1200% above the not-so-surgical cuts required by the ‘see-castration’ emergency. Our elites really have no shame or conscience. None.

    3. Yves Smith

      If you think the stock market accurately predicts the economy, please explain the Nikkei summer of 1989 or the US stockmarkets in 2000.

      And the stock market has even less to do with reality now that it is dominated by HFT.

      1. Can't Help It

        Or even a few months before 2008/2009 …… My personal fav is definitely the 2000 bubble though, I am still waiting to have internet connection to my refrigerator i.e. the later will know when my milk stock is low and will automatically order online from Webvan.

    4. different clue

      As a total layman on these matters, might I be permitted to speculate that the reason the stock markets are going up is because the Bernanke Fed has kept interest rates as near-zero as possible so as to deprive millions of modest savers of the interest streams they need to survive ( or will need to survive on in the future) ? And hasn’t he done this in order to torture and terrorise them into desperation-moving their money into the stock market in faint hopes of some kind of yield to live on now or later? Isn’t the point of all that to force stock prices up so as to sprinkle Rising Market Confidence Dust on the minds of millions of still-working people so as to psych them into spending more money thereby pumping up the foam-rubber lifesize cardboard replica of an economic recovery?
      If I am right about that, then those people who can afford to not be fooled . . . will not be fooled. That would mean that people with so many millions of dollars in interest-bearing instruments that they can harvest a survival-income from their instruments even at near-zero interest payout rates will leave their money in savings rather than risk it on a market being bubbled up quite transparently artificially.
      If I am just being a paranoid fool then too bad for me as I continue to insist on missing out on this wonderful rising market.

  3. financial matters

    Deeply Irresponsible Fiscal Policy Economists View

    Using this as a segue for some observations on taxes from L. Randall Wray’s primer on Modern Monetary Theory..

    ‘While it would be incorrect – for reasons explored later – to argue that taxes “pay for” government spending, it is true that inability to impose and enforce tax liabilities will limit the amount of resources government can command’

    This means that we don’t need taxes for spending money. The govt can just print what it needs. But it is taxes that gives money its ‘value’ and people must accumulate it to pay their taxes to avoid going to prison. So lax tax systems actually make a currency less ‘valuable’ and limits the govts ability to spend to stimulate the economy.

    On a similar vein most people are opposed to property taxes but actually money not spent here is usually spent to increase the amount of a loan and hence interest payments to banks. This gives states and counties less income to spend on such things as schools and infrastructure and they have to look at higher taxes on wages which actually ends up hurting people more in the long run and pumps up property values while increasing income inequality as the taxes end up being levied on those with less wealth.

    1. joe bongiovanni

      Except, it would not be incorrect to say that taxes ‘pay for’ government spending. (Along with public debt proceeds, of course)
      Given that for the extant of this state’s Treasury, our government has been prevented from spending money that it does not have, it is correct to argue that the taxation-supports-spending truism remains relevant.

      Said Dr. Wray recently in his address to Lewis nd Clark College:

      “We put in operational constraints, one that says that Treasury can’t spend money unless it has money in its account at the Fed”.

      And the only means for the Treasury to get money into its TGA account at the Fed is through taxation and borrowing.
      What are referred to as ‘operatonal constraints’ here are laws and regulations governing the public purse.

      However, the much larger truth is that in a sovereign fiat money system the government does not need to borrow the deficit balances to fill the gap between taxes and spending. The government has the power to authorize that spending as new money creation.
      As Lincoln did with Greenbacks.
      And as proposed by Dennis Kucinich here.
      http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr2990/text

      For the Money System Common

      1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

        It’s become clear to your Emperor that you could shred these silly MMT contortions of the relationship between taxes, inflation, and the value of sovereign currency and sovereign bonds a million times and the same silly statements will be repeated yet a million and oneth time.

        Of course, the “money system common” won’t work on your planet either, because you have some 200 sovereigns on your planet competing for resources – but it works for your Emperor on Mongo!

        The only sovereign here is Me. I am the monopoly issuer of photon credits – redeemable only at the Monopoly, Inc Online Catalog – where I set wages, prices and production levels of everything. Furthermore, photon credits expire in one year so I have no problem with the velocity of photon credits varying – it is a constant (thank you Einstein)- because everyone spends them and no one can horde them for whatever silly reason they may have.

        In order to discourage debt issuance, I have decreed all debt is payable in photons – which have no intrinsic value here on sunny Mongo. (this is key in a currency if you want to be a “rich” sovereign) My economists assured me there would be no demand for debt issuance if creditors had to loan photon credits – redeemable at the Monopoly, Inc Online Catalog – and were then told to step outside for payment of principal and interest in photons. For once, my economists were right about something.

        Naturally, we have no need for taxes on Mongo. One World Fiat Currency. Wage, price, and production controls. No sovereign debt to pay. And you can by stuff with photon credits in the Monopoly, Inc Online Catalog made by your happy comrades.

        Don’t know why your Earthlings never thought of doing it like that?

      2. financial matters

        ‘Suppose the govt debt ratio continues to rise. Will a sovereign govt be forced to miss an interest payment, no matter how big that becomes? The answer is a simple “no”. Let us explain this is the simple terms that Chairman Bernanke actually used to explain all the Fed spending to bail out Wall Street: govt spends using keystrokes, or electronic entries, on balance sheets. There is no technical or operational limit to its ability to do that. So long as there are keyboard keys to stroke, govt can stroke them to produce interest payments credited to balance sheets’ (Ibid)

        It’s mainly a matter of priorities. There is easy money to be made off the FIRE sector. Making money by establishing a good manufacturing base with full employment is more time consuming and tedious.

    2. Robert Dudek

      This means that we don’t need taxes for spending money. The govt can just print what it needs. But it is taxes that gives money its ‘value’ and people must accumulate it to pay their taxes to avoid going to prison. So lax tax systems actually make a currency less ‘valuable’ and limits the govts ability to spend to stimulate the economy.

      Why is the bolded true? If the gov pays a policeman in the currency it controls, it only has to make sure that this money can be used as a medium of exchange everywhere in the country. In other words, a legal tender act is sufficient, without any need for any taxation whatsoever.

      1. financial matters

        Randy Wray discusses this.

        ‘Throughout history there are examples of governments that passed legal tender laws, but still could not create a demand for their currencies which were not accepted in private payments, and sometimes even rejected in payment to government. (In some cases, the penalty for refusing to accept a king’s coin included the burning of a red-hot coin into the forehead of the recalcitrant, indicating that without extraordinary compulsion, the population refused to accept the sovereign’s currency.)’

        ‘The best kind of payment to be used to drive a currency is an obligatory one – one that must be made in order to stay out of prison, or to avoid death by thirst. (such as an authority that monopolizes a needed resource and can name the currency that it will accept for it)’

        Taxes can definitely be made more progressive. This is another example of the destructive nature of the wealthy avoiding taxed by various off-shore accounts etc and by tax favoritism given to ‘rentiers’, that is people who make most of their income as unearned as opposed to wages.

    1. from Mexico

      The authors of this article seem to feel eminently threatened by “The Caste vs. the Honest People” frame.

      The entire screed amounts to trying to get people back to the old “Left vs. Right” frame.

      I think, though, that people are rapidly waking up to the reality that “left” and “right” are pretty much one and the same these days. The battle between left and right has become like professional wrestling: great entertainment, but don’t mistake it for a true contest.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I read it. Dunno. I like the insights into how Grillo’s rhetoric plays in/plays on past Italian (and European) right wing tropes. Here’s the conclusion:

      However, the 5SM is indebted with different right-wing traditions, a part of its constituency is still on the left, and labelling the movement as merely fascist would be too simplistic.

      What we’re trying to say is that, especially in Italy, confusionist «neitherism» always thrives on economic and political crisis, and a part of the Left is tempted to listen to that siren song. Those who don’t resist the temptation invariably end up on the Right, be they aware of it or not.

      Projecting onto the American context, “neitherism” is a good label for (ha) “No Labels” and its earlier incarnation, the horrific and ectoplasmic billionaire-funded Americans Select.

      M5S’s leadership seems remarkably thin: Two guys. The policies advocated by its virgin Parliamentarians remain to be seen. I wish we had more reports from the ground; expats and Italian speakers should email Yves.

      1. Ms G

        To regard any “leftist” element in the Grillo-M5S phenomenon as being at odds with its potentially fascistic aspects is arguably historically off base. See, e.g., a recent article in The Telegraph (yes, I know):

        “‘I am a Socialist,’ Hitler told Otto Strasser in 1930, ‘and a very different kind of Socialist from your rich friend, Count Reventlow’.

        No one at the time would have regarded it as a controversial statement. The Nazis could hardly have been more open in their socialism, describing themselves with the same terminology as our own SWP: National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

        Almost everyone in those days accepted that fascism had emerged from the revolutionary Left. Its militants marched on May Day under red flags. Its leaders stood for collectivism, state control of industry, high tariffs, workers’ councils. Around Europe, fascists were convinced that, as Hitler told an enthusiastic Mussolini in 1934, ‘capitalism has run its course’.”

        http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100203076/so-total-is-the-lefts-cultural-ascendancy-that-we-dare-not-mention-the-socialist-roots-of-fascism/

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m not sure how re-assuring I find that video. Grillo’s described as a comedian, but this YT doesn’t strike me as funny, especially. Not seeing a lot of the audience rolling in the aisles, either.

  4. David Lentini

    What went wrong in Afghanistan? The same fools who write and edit magainzes like Foreign Policy took control of our real foreign policy and sang the neoconservative’s siren song of “post-colonial colonialism” (i.e., it’s not colonial if it’s done for the benefit of corporations) to Washington and Wall Street. The real failure is our academic-military-industrial complex that funds these unelected ivory tower idiots and gives them a favored seat in policy circles.

    When the Foreign Policy editors and writers, and their children, start leaving their teeth on the barroom floor, then maybe we’ll start having rational policy and winning our fights. Until then, we need to stop giving the control of our national foreign policy to armchair generals with delusions of grandeur.

    1. Ms G

      ” … armchair generals with delusions of grandeur.”

      Good one, D. Lentini! Another Homeric epithet for our dark times.

    1. Really?

      Well, let’s at least give Darth Cheney his due and call Bush “the second most powerful man on the planet.” I think it was obvious from the very start that Cheney was calling all the shots. Bush? Merely exchanged “a walk on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage.” One he lives in still, evidently.

  5. kjboro

    As always, the Archdruid report is worth reading. As an addendum, it’s worth noting that at least 100 million Americans (probably millions more) are already living a life more in line with the post-collapse the druid describes than the life prior to that collapse.

  6. JGordon

    What went wrong in Afghanistan?

    I am not really sure what you mean by that. In modern history failing empires have always run straight to Afghanistan when they needed someone to deliver the coup de grace. That seems more like an inevitability of history to me rather than something that went “wrong”.

    I was also just thinking to that this shows how much power a small band of cavemen wielding small arms really has: the power to make empires crumble. That’s a strong argument that says that gun control is dangerous and disempowering.

    1. sd

      Afghanistan = where empires go to die

      I find it odd that world leaders never read history. It’s very tempting to write a twitter version of history for the world leaders since history does indeed rhyme.

  7. diptherio

    Occupy Baluwatar (Kathmandu, Nepal) calls BS on International Women’s Day events, demands real change from leaders:
    http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2013/03/08/nation/occupy-activists-snub-events/246147.html

    This particular Occupy was sparked by the international outrage over violence against women in India. Nepal has its own problems with institutionally sanctioned violence against women. This on-going protest is in its third month.

    https://www.nepalmonitor.org/index.php/reports/view/1041

  8. craazyman

    way way cool photos — Tracks of My Years. Every once & a while you’re reminded of what photography can be, a little island of life in a sea of digital sludge shot by pot-bellied technobozos through 40 megapixel computers with lenses. Yves the blonde uptown girl is way too stiff for something like this hobo jewel. Is this the weekend crew at work? ahaha ahahahah Good job dudes.

      1. craazyman

        You could go in a minivan with a mattress in the back. If I get rich quick soon I’m outta here, maybe with a pickup truck mattress and propane stove. Right now it’s western Queens where they think you’re an undercover FBI agent if you have a camera. I’ve nearly been beaten up and run over, but I’m big enough that people think twice. And I’m a smooth talker so I can get out of nearly any situation.

        This dude did it and took these magnificent portraits. This is what the train kids will look like if they survive. I saw these at the National Gallery in DC and PS1 in Queens.

        http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2009/bergman/template/index.shtm

    1. ron

      refreshing to view interesting photographs rather then endless special effect pictures. The high density files should add to the visual impact but the JPEG’s are worth a good look!!!!!!

  9. optimader

    Lambert,

    Former DEA Chiefs May Profit From Illegal Pot, Critics Say
    “… the former DEA officials called marijuana “a dangerous and addictive drug” that “significantly impacts” a number of aspects of society—including employee productivity…” as differentiated from alcohol and script drugs! lol!!! Clearly not educated as an attorny because he forgot to predicate his unsubstansiated claims with: “I feel..”

    In anycase, a nice supplemental companion piece to:

    Silicon Valley Reportedly Full of Stoners Alternet (May S). This is news?
    Anyone who’s either tried WIN8 or tried resolving a corrupt driver for thier printer/scanner/copier/toaster knows this to be self-evident.

  10. Hugh

    For the 99%, the December 2007 recession never. As Saez chronicles, with the 1% now having amassed 120% of the gains of the “recovery”, it has actually gotten worse.

    Everytime the US begins way too late to wind down another of its botched, pointless wars of empire, conducted and supported by both parties, there is always this phony debate about “Who lost country X?” The answer is always that country X was never ours to lose. An occupying army will always lose against those it occupies because they live there and we don’t. If they don’t want us there, they can and will simply outlast us.

    I caught some heat for the title of my piece on the jobs report. Each year, the January job and employment numbers crash in January after the Christmas season. They then rebound in the late winter and spring. This has little or nothing to do with the underlying jobs and employment crisis. Further confusing matters, there could well be a glitch in the count of voluntary part time employees magnifying the February component of the rebound. Even if this is a glitch, a significant rebound would still be there. There will be another crash in employment when school lets out and another rebound when it starts up again and then going into Christmas.

    The real concern is that the labor force did not increase. This could an indication that there is a glitch, or of a boomer retirement effect, or a worsening economy. We won’t know for sure until we see the next couple of reports.

    I am sure many of us here identify with Ian Welsh Cassandra complex. We look at the fundamentals. We can see they are getting worse. We look at the math. We know it doesn’t work. I, for example, can identify the immediate crises of kleptocracy, wealth inequality, and class war. I can see the even greater ones of overpopulation, resource depletion, pollution, climate change, environmental collapse and I see all the business as usual, the deniers, the trivializers, and it both scares and depresses me. Greed can be overthrown by revolution, but we can not overthrow nature. Rather it is nature who can, and if we are stupid and apathetic enough, will overthrow us.

  11. tiebie66

    “…11,000 Years’ Worth of Climate Data…”. Note the very long period of sustained declines in global temperatures commencing around 5000 BP (or HoloCene 7000; today = HC 12013), around the time when various pristine civilizations started to emerge around the globe.

    1. the idiot

      Yves,

      Thank you so much for linking the Colorado Fracking article. It’s the most important article I have read this week. I really appreciate it.

Comments are closed.