Links 1/4/09

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons’ Times Online (hat tip reader John D)

To the head of the class: 2009’s cleverest creatures show off BBC

Stunning Statistics About the War That Everyone Should Know Jeremy Scahill, CounterPunch. The US has 189,000 people in Afghanistan.

Good year for management guff Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times

A “Tell” from Bernanke? Bruce Krasting. Only one quibble: this isn’t a “tell”, it’s a telegraph.

Pessimistic into 2010 Eurointelligence

Google’s evil policy on shutting down blogs Felix Salmon. Felix’s post seemed to have made a big difference in getting Hempton operational again. Hempton says he will put a post up on his travails (not up as of this writing) and also says that he was shut down as a spam blog (same thing happened to me in 2008) and that it only takes two or three complaints to Google to get a blog on Blogger shut down (for the record, probably not the reason I was shut down, I had not annoyed much of anyone back then. I had just started Links, and the a lot of links are a flag for a spam blog, and the “naked” name I am sure did not help). An easy way to silence critics, needless to say.

Is 2010 The Year of Odious Sovereign Defaults? The Faculty Lounge (hat tip Conglomerate)

Prescription: more doctors Baltimore Sun (hat tip DoctoRx)

Environmental Refugees Unable to Return Home New York Times

Is The U.S. Government Buying Stocks? George Washington

Does the left want to Impeach Obama too? ImpeachObamaCampaign and What to Expect While We’re Expecting: Politics in the Time of Obama (hat tip Ed Harrison). These are must reads. The first article has been making the rounds and is painfully funny and accurate. The second is to show to those few who continue to defend Obama how badly he has blown his presidency. And they were both written by the same writer, David Michael Green. Obama is over and will probably be the last to figure it out.

Antidote du jour. What I should be doing:

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  1. attempter

    Hey, would you buy a used government from the same people who brought you 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, global warming, skyrocketing national debt, torture, isolation from our allies, hatred of the world, and now what is – at the very least – the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression?

    I wouldn’t, nor would any decent or intelligent person.

    But Obama sure would.

    He’s both despicable and pathetic at the same time. I’ve never seen such a combination of malevolent intent with feckless execution. On every single point he manages the feat of doing evil while looking incompetent and stupid doing it.

    Even Bush, as dumb and wicked as he was, at least always understood whose president he was, whose interest he was there to pursue or, in the case of his base, pretend to pursue.

    It’s clear that Obama is a corporate hack by ideology (though I wouldn’t give him much credit there either – he probably has more of a vague preference; there’s zero evidence that he believes in anything in particular; he’s really a nihilist), and has an overwhelming status quo preference.

    The biggest Big Lie in American history is how this person made “Change” the great watchword of his campaign, when above all things, at the core of his being, he fears and despises change as such. “Stay the course, no matter what”, is his real “credo”.

    So both by core nature and by ideological preference he came into office and very fiercely, aggressively seized personal ownership of the Bailout and the Permanent War, and intends to aggressively pursue both as far as he can.

    (Let’s not hear any more nonsense about how he “inherited” anything. He inherited nothing, except in the way you might complain about inheriting a million dollars. He was joyous at this “inheritance”, as his actions prove.

    Believe me, if I had come into the presidency under those circumstances, with that mandate*, I would have refused all “inheritance”. I would have aggressively gone to war against the entire inheritance.)

    To this he adds a contemptible incompetence. He can’t even try to look like he’s trying to change things while he radically entrenches the status quo.

    And it’s clear even his vaunted “intelligence” was a crock. He actually looks pretty stupid. Giving himself a B+, soon to be upgraded to an A?! Any smalltown mayor knows the answer to that question was something like, “I know the people are upset, and they have every right to be. I’m upset too, and I look forward to continuing to fight for the American people to bring us back to prosperity.”

    You don’t actually take the bait and give yourself a grade.

    What a clown.

    *BTW, the definition of a “mandate” doesn’t just include that the voters authorized you to do something like demand and achieve radical change.

    A mandate is not optional. It means you were ordered to do it.

    So Obama is a rogue, a criminal, a scofflaw.

    1. Cynthia

      I understand, as many of us here do, that the Reagan administration set the stage for a crisis in the financial markets. It picked up quite a bit of steam under Clinton, thanks to Robert Rubin and his merry band of banksters. Then it gained a full head of steam under Bush and finally blew its top, leaving Obama with a hot bloody mess on his hands. But what I don’t understand is why Obama hired some of the same people who created this mess to clean it up — namely two of Rubin’s most prized partners in crime, Summers and Geithner. This is the financial equivalent of hiring a convicted child molester to look after kids in a day care center!

      To make matters worse, Obama hired Rahm Emanuel, the Dr. Frankenstein of the Blue Dogs’ rise to power, to be his main man behind the curtain. It doesn’t take a political genius to figure out that the Blue Dogs are traitors on par with the likes of Traitor Joe. They are red-blooded Republicans selling themselves as true-blue Democrats. Thanks to Obama and his Blue Dog buddies, the Democratic Party is fast becoming an empty shell of its former self.

      So Progressive Democrats, myself included, must do either one of two things: 1) round up all the Blue Dogs and toss them over into the Republican Party, or 2) band together and form our own party. But whatever we decide to do, we should do it fast before voting for a Democrat versus a Republican is no different from drinking a Coke versus a Pepsi, leaving us with a very bad taste in our mouths: a government with only one political party.

      1. joebek

        To Cynthia and all progressives I have just one thing to say: Don’t waste your time. The Zeitgeist is dead.

        1. DownSouth

          You may be right (double entendre intended).

          Obama’s treachery and incompetence certainly sets the stage for the rise of fascism in America.

          But unlike those on the right, I hope it doesn’t work out that way.

          1. joebek

            Sorry Valissa but fascism is just a much a part of the Zeitgeist as progressivism and is moulding along with it and communism and nationalism, for that matter. It’s all over now, baby blue.

    2. Cynthia

      And I don’t know about you, but I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the Powers-That-Be within the Democratic Party intentionally groomed a black man to be president, because they know damn well that many voters wrongly assume that a black president is more likely to be a champion of the common man and that the mainstream media is less likely to criticize a black president for fear of being accused of racism. They believe, and rightfully so, that having a black man as president will make it far easier for them to accomplish their goal of transferring even more wealth and power into the hands of the few.

      1. alex

        “They believe, and rightfully so, that having a black man as president will make it far easier for them to accomplish their goal of transferring even more wealth and power into the hands of the few.”

        If there’s been any reluctance to criticize Obama because he’s black, it’s sure hard to notice. Regardless of one’s opinion of Obama (and mine’s not very high) the best thing about our first black president is that the his race had been treated with indifference.

    3. Anonymous Jones

      I think your attempt to distinguish Obama from his contemporaries falls rather flat.

      How did Bush pretend to pursue the interest of his base? From my perspective, he didn’t even pretend (well, at least *successfully* pretend) to follow the interests of the “smaller government, bigger religion” hordes that supported him. Bush did exactly what Obama is doing; he enlarged government and used that larger government to simply hand out everyone else’s money to the wealthy and connected.

      And seriously, you’re on Obama for campaigning about “Change?” The “Change” campaign is older than Socrates; I’d bet it’s antediluvian, too. Falling for a “Change” campaign, I hope, only happens to an intelligent person once in life, and even then, it better be really, really early in that life.

      I don’t think the book has yet been written on this presidency. The powerful in this country are very, very powerful, and seemingly becoming more powerful every day. If Obama is aligning himself with them instead of us, I’d say that it is a pretty smart strategic bet and not very indicative of a clown. We shall see.

      I just don’t understand the disappointment. This is what I expected. Hate him if you will, but I doubt anyone else with the opportunity would do much different, and if such a person tried, I would not be surprised to find that the powerful would ensure that such person was disgraced or dead within months.

      1. attempter

        Bush’s base is dumber and easier to please, I’ll grant that.

        But he threw them plenty of red meat in terms of breaking down the separation of church and state, playing up crap like Terry Schiavo, assaulting the environment (which is not just a perceived economic issue to these types but a culture war issue above all), working to expand gun rights, etc.

        And, as far as issues of paramount importance, did you happen to notice an imperialist Permanent War around here somewhere? Bush’s base swooned for that. It goes to the gutless chickenhawk core of their being. Same for torture, Gitmo, expanding police power, suspending habeas corpus and so on.

        Now on that one Obama’s still trying to take care of Bush’s base. As for what was supposed to be his own base, on the other hand…

  2. charcad

    And they were both written by the same writer, David Michael Green. Obama is over and will probably be the last to figure it out.

    Or David Michael Green will be the last to figure it out. Sometime in late 2011 after Obama and Rahm Emanuel triangulate the Democratic House majority out of existence, Dick Morris style. If I was Emanuel and Axelrod trying to reelect Obama in 2012 I’d sure want someone else to blame. A GOP House speaker would do.

  3. aet

    Cheer up, buckos!

    Sometimes the bad powerful comes a-cropper:

    Time is long, memory is long, when it comes to serious crimes: and patriotism is yet the last refuge of the rogue & scoundrel, the killer & thief.

    But leaders who see profit in crime are often blind to consequences – even where such are very capable of eventually entwining them and finally destroying whatever esteem they may have had or yet do hold in the eyes of their fellow persons:

  4. Dave Raithel

    I’ve composed my own obscenity laden exasperations about Obama at my little blogspot, so the prof has little to offer me on that. What’s more frightening are the comments I find posted to the first of the two essays – “Does the left …”, which is a repost from one source to a place frequented by whack-jobs and loony-tunes. Here’s a typical example of the 376 comments:

    “This man should never have been in the Nut House in the first place. He had no experience. What were the Dems thinking? And speaking of PEDOPHILIA – Obama has his Queer Czar Jennings passing out the fisting kits to our kids in school, so he’s GUILTY of that too! Don’t overlook that crime Mr. Professor. This guy is nothing but a Marxist dictator and needs to be removed from office. In fact, the entire administration, if you can call it that, needs to be abolished along with their deviant, self-serving, thieving, fraudulent, illegal, unconstitutional and lying policies, actions and bills! Yes, we see an end to this radical, communist bunch very soon indeed!”

    I have no defense for Obama. I have no hope of rescue by fucking morons like the one I quote. We really need to be figuring out how to get the Dems off their lard-asses, and I got no advice, but jeezus, who in their right mind wants people who think like the above putting people in power? Drop the gay-bashing and the ignorance of Marxism and how’s the rest of that paragraph read? Too familiar?

    No wonder I read people here making plans to leave the country.

  5. Mark

    Come on Yves, links to tired PPT conspiracy theories? Really? That guy may be one of your guest posters, but he’s certifiable.

    (Which raises the question: Why is that George Washington nutjob still posting here? All he ever does is quote people who have Impressive Sounding Titles — oooh, a professor said it, so it must be true! Yeah, ’cause that’s absolutely how it works. Seriously, appealing to authority constantly is fine for a college freshman, but can’t you find someone who reads like he’s actually graduated from college? Or at the very least, someone who doesn’t get all starry-eyed when he reads a “Harvard professor”? Is that too much to ask?)

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      One of my former clients was the biggest force in the OTC equity derivatives market. They told me in the late 1990s that the Fed placed orders in the S&P pits and even had a nickname: “the Turk”. So I have corroborating evidence of long standing from sources that had NOTHING to gain from that bit of G2.

  6. rickstersherpa

    1. If one was to go back and look at Obama’s policy proposals, as opposed to little slogan about change, you would find that he was on the to the left of all Republicans, but was nearest to the center-right of any of the Democratic candidates, something Paul Krugman got no end of grief for pointing out. He was a an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago and lived in Hyde Park. Freshwater econonmics was part of his the air he breathed. Hence, perhaps because I did not have illusions (I voted for the least worst candidate, and where would we be if John McCain was President and Phil Gramm Secreatry of the Treasury), I cannot share the anger.

    2. And I do have hope because Obama is a politician, and he has shown a ruthless ability to drop those he was once close to when his own political interests require it. And I think he is getting tired being played as sucker and a patsy by the banks.

    3. Which is unfortunate for the banks, since although the banks, riding high as they are right now, and going back to their old ways (see this on Bloomberg via Atrios,, they are likely to run themselves back aground sometime in the next 24 months, and will need his help for the reasons again that Joe Stiglitz and Paul Krugman and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard have all discussed in the last few days. This is the winter of 1930-31, not the winter of 32-33 yet. Obama will throw them under the bus as fast as he threw the Reverened Wright and Van Jones to save his political neck, since that is what a politician, a scorpion, or banker has to do what they do.

    1. alex

      “I think he is getting tired being played as sucker and a patsy by the banks.”

      Devoutly to be wished, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

  7. alex


    While I appreciate that you link to interesting or thought provoking articles regardless of whether you agree with them, anything from is going too far. Amongst other things, they’re birthers (see their articles of impeachment), and as such distract from the seriousness of your site.

    Impeach Obama? Did that start out as “Committee to Impeach the President-Elect”? (which would be consistent for birthers). I’m no fan of Obama, but this is going too far.

  8. Hugh

    Green’s reaction is a common one on the left. Relief at seeing the last of Bush and avoiding McCain but reading into Obama whatever their hopes happened to be. Then disillusionment and anger at what they saw, and which was, a betrayal. You can go through Obama’s campaign statements and build a case that he was no progressive. That hardly proves much. Most of us on the left knew Obama was no progressive back in 2007. Only a few of us moved into opposition of him, not during his battles with Hillary and after more progressive candidates had sunk (the mistake of looking at any of them from Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson as progressives shows how desperate we all were), but precisely when he became the presumptive nominee. It was a fairly lonely place to be. But most voters did not go into the weeds or read the fine print. This does not let Obama off the hook however. “Change we can believe in” was a concept that was understood by everyone. Obama might have been forgiven if he had not delivered here or there on it. But in fact he never delivered on it anywhere. Not even any sops. And more than that, Obama has pursued a course fundamentally opposed to “change”. As I said, Americans may not read the fine print but they can read the writing on the wall. This is what is going to sink Obama and the Democrats. Green says he still doesn’t understand Obama. I suggest he try the model of a Blue Dog corporatist. His Presidency comes into sharp focus if seen through this lens.

    A last thought, both the Democrats and Repulbicans are anti-populist and corporatist. So when I say that the Democrats will lose, that is a superficial assessment. Democrat or Repulbican, the corporatists win and we lose. So all of the anger and angst over an Obama betrayal is irrelevant and another distraction. Last year we were angry at the Republicans. This year it’s the Democrats. But nothing really changes. The looting continues and grows. The political parties have no interest in stopping it, only exploiting it for short term gains.

    1. chad

      Maybe somewhere somehow a person will emerge from a third party. Someone not beholden to the same corporate masters. Someone independent, intelligent, a thinker, and a doer. Unfortunately, I think we may as well wish for flying unicorns to take us to work.

  9. chrob22

    I think that despite what the markets are signalling right now, the economic recovery is not sustainable because of all the govt intervention. The Fed has backed itself into a corner where it can’t slow significantly the pace of money printing, and foreign central banks are also on the path of debasing their currencies. So I think gold is going to continue to be one of, if not the best asset class to invest in going forward. This was a very interesting summary of a bunch of important gold stories from 2009, as well as some discussion of what may be ahead in 2010:

  10. tdraicer

    What Obama was should have been obvious all along-his 2004 keynote speech contained all the “post-partisan” warning signs. (I turned to my Significant Other at the time and said,”Better hope he never gets nominated.”) Those of us who saw through him from the start will never understand those who fell for him, but better waking up late than never.

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