Links 2/27/10

Feed Pete Peterson to the Whales Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Hitler and Cloud Computing Security Gunnar and Marcus, YouTube (hat tip reader John Moore)

Two huge icebergs let loose off Antarctica’s coast Salon (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Reinflating the Bubble Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review (hat tip reader Doug S)

Rising Threat of Infections Unfazed by Antibiotics New York Times

Google taken to task over its objectivity Financial Times

“China buying IMF gold” story unfounded: author Reuters (hat tip Marshall Auerback)

Short Selling Restrictions “A Great Indicator of Imminent Market Crashes” Michael Shedlock

China insider sees revolution brewing Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Sean)

Dollar/euro ‘money play’ follows Greek tragedy Financial Times

Is China trying to “lock up” the world’s natural resources? Theodore Moran, VoxEU

“The High Road Procurement Policy” Mark Thoma

Forget bipartisanship Obama: shoot for the moon Edward Luce, Financial Times. Today’s must read. Key paragraph:

American presidents with the greatest record of bipartisan legislative achievement, notably Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, got their way by intimidating opponents, not by splitting the difference. As Machiavelli famously observed, it is better for a prince to be feared than loved. For all his intelligence, nobody fears Mr Obama.

BTW, a really big earthquake (8.8 maginitude) hit off the coast of Chile. Australia (and presumably New Zealand) is on tsunami alert.

Antidote du jour. This is a Bronx zoo sea lion pup. Go Bronx!

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  1. ozajh

    I could of course be wrong (again :)), but I have a distinct feeling that yesterday’s antidote was from a country town in either Australia or New Zealand . . .

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That photo has been in my photo folder for a while, so I lost track of where it came from. Given that the cars are parked on the left side of the street, you are probably correct.

      Since the ex-pet animal population of Manhattan consists mainly of Norway rats, pigeons, and squirrels, some of us are more sentimental about our zoo population than we should be. The seals in the small Central Park zoo are particularly well liked.

  2. attempter

    FT wouldn’t let me read the article (not a subscriber), but the Obama headline sounds like another piece which either fails to comprehend the obvious, that Obama wants to be nothing more than a corporatist bagman and goon, or that wants to lie to the readership to try to obscure this fact.

    I read the NYT piece earlier and wasn’t surprised to see zero mention of the link between MRSA and factory farms.

    Factory farms (CAFOs), in addition to their socioeconomic and environmental atrocities, are in fact unregulated, unsecured bioweapons labs. The antibiotics used there seem almost intended to act as a proving ground for superbugs. The swine flu probably originated at a Smithfield CAFO in Mexico.

    When (not if) there does come a truly lethal pandemic, the vector will most likely be a factory farm. This is already a planned mass manslaughter, legalistically speaking.

    And since it’s premeditated, how will it not really be 1st degree mass murder?

  3. DownSouth

    ► “China insider sees revolution brewing” Sydney Morning Herald

    What’s the difference between China and the United States? When one looks at the following excerpts from the captioned article, the answer is “not much.” State capitalism, meet state socialism:

    • Deepening social fractures were caused by the Communist Party’s obsession with preserving its monopoly on power through ”state violence” and ”ideology”, rather than justice, Professor Yu said.

    • Disaster could be averted only if ”interest groups” – which he did not identify – were capable of making a rational compromise to subordinate themselves to the constitution, he said.

    • Pointedly, Professor Yu took aim at the policy substance behind two of Mr Hu’s trademark phrases, ”bu zheteng” [”stability”, or ”don’t rock the boat”] and ”harmonious society”.

    • The sentence, which shocked liberal intellectuals and international observers, followed a tumultuous year during which the party tightened controls over almost all spheres of China’s burgeoning civil society, including the internet, media, legal profession, non-government organisations and business.

    • Mafia groups were increasingly involved in state-sponsored thuggery

    • ”For seeking ‘bu zheteng’ we sacrifice reform and people’s rights endowed by law … Such stability will definitely bring great social disaster,” he said.

    • ”The conservative forces are currently very strong,” he said.

    • ”Corrupt officials have such a high and urgent interest in controlling the media and especially the internet,” he said. ”The more they feel that their days are numbered due to the internet and free information, the more ferocious and corrupt they become, in a really vicious circle leading to final collapse.”

    1. MarcoPolo

      What is the difference between China and the United States?

      “He cited statistics showing the number of recorded incidents of ”mass unrest” grew from 8709 in 1993 to more than 90,000 in each of the past three years.”

      We don’t do that here. Joe Stack, yes. Gandhi, not
      so much.

  4. DownSouth

    ► “Is China trying to “lock up” the world’s natural resources?” Theodore Moran, VoxEU

    Moran is to be applauded for his acknowledgment that there exists a “challenge for the world’s natural resources,” a point lost on most economists. However, one must ask how he can raise issues like the following with a straight face:

    …the effect of Chinese resource procurement on rogue states, on authoritarian leadership, on civil wars, on corrupt payments and the deterioration of governance standards, and on environmental damage.

    Given the United States’ long and sordid history of imperial involvement, topped off by its latest adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, can this amount to any more than the pot calling the kettle black?

    1. DownSouth

      As an expatriate, I suppose what I find most surprising is that Moran raises the issue with what appears to be total honesty and sincerity, completely innocent of the fact that the rest of the world views the US through a totally different lens than he does.

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    “For all his intelligence, nobody fears Mr Obama.” Wheres the proof the guy is intelligent? All I’ve seen is an overachiever who towers over the intellects of Bush, Palin, and the rest of the GOP. Am I missing something?

    1. Anonymous Jones

      Yes, you are missing something.

      Not that this resolves the point, and not that you are stupid, but the stupid aren’t smart enough to understand what smart is. They are also not smart enough to understand what they don’t know. If they were smart enough, they wouldn’t not know it. Things outside their realm are actually inconceivable to them.

      You don’t accomplish what Obama did scholastically without outlier intelligence. I have a couple friends in the White House counsel office who have some of the brightest minds I’ve ever encountered and their reports back to me describe Obama as not just intelligent vis-a-vis the general population but intelligent vis-a-vis our circle. Yes, this is cocky and arrogant, and I’m sure it just positively infuriates you, but I can’t play basketball like Michael Jordan could, and you probably don’t have the intellectual firepower that Obama does. Them’s just the numbers. Deal with it. Life will go on.

      I disagree with a lot of what Obama does, and intelligence is a very overrated characteristic in humans, but the idea that Obama is not intelligent is so manifestly idiotic and so wrongheaded (precisely because it’s the intelligent you should fear outsmarting you) that you make a fool out of yourself when you suggest it.

      1. Chris M

        That’s a pathetic appeal to authority. He’s not stupid, but his intelligence is definitely overrated. Ever heard of affirmative action?

        1. wunsacon

          >> his intelligence is definitely overrated. Ever heard of affirmative action?

          That comment would be relevant if and only if Anonymous Jones’ circle of sharp friends employs an affirmative action program.


      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        For me and generally speaking (not directly at any specific individual), I judge intelligence by how successful one communicates with the general population and not within a small circle…not so much in hard scientific disciplines like physics and chemistry, but in areas like politics and economics. It may have to do with that fact that we can fool some people some of the time but not everyone all the time.

        I also prefer (I say prefer because exceptions occur) to judge someone’s intelligence, again without referencing another specific individual, by how correctly he gets the big picture and not the minutiae favored in academia.

        Based on these, I have found, from my own subjective experience, that the common man, with his common sense, you see on the street is much more intelligent, politically and economically, than many in academia…in the long run.

        1. wunsacon

          >> Based on these, I have found, from my own subjective experience, that the common man, with his common sense, you see on the street is much more intelligent, politically and economically, than many in academia…in the long run.

          After so many people bought homes they couldn’t afford, *who* on the street has “common sense”?

          While one can blame government policy — and I do! — for contributing greatly to the housing bubble, it’s those “common people” who spent more than they earned and signed on the dotted line for products they didn’t understand.

          We’re not going to find the next great leaders by turning up rocks in Wasilla.

    2. attempter

      No, you’re not missing anything. He has ivory tower book smarts, but little capacity for using them in any broadly intelligent way. He’s an incompetent politician, and judging by the “B+” grade he awarded himself, he’s both utterly un-self-aware and even too stupid to understand how you’re supposed to answer a question like that. Most dogcatchers would have greater political intelligence.

      I don’t call him stupid for being a corporatist sociopath. That just makes him morally despicable and a souldead piece of filth inside. But intelligence would dictate that he first see the need for trying to pretend he cares about people, and second would render him more competent in doing so. Yet he usually seems to fail to comprehend even the first, and is incompetent at the second.

      The “savvy businessman” quote comes from a person who’s not very savvy himself, and who’s too stupid to even learn from a book not to say such things about those who are univerally despised. (Unless he’s too dumb to realize that most people don’t like Lloyd Blankfein; like I said he does seem to be un-self-aware.)

      It’s hard to see what he sees as the basis of his political future, or that of the Democratic people. If he doesn’t get that he’s invaded Russia with this quixotic health racketeering initiative, he’s an idiot. (Even his hacks no longer seem to try to claim he has some master plan, “11-dimensional chess” as they called it. Even they’re pathetically reduced to simply begging people to support the wreck.)

      As for believing he could ever work with the Republicans, that was extremely stupid on the part of anyone who’s followed politics since at least the mid 90s. And even if he started out saying “I intellectually understand that, but my dazzling personality is going to make the difference; I’ll succeed where everyone else failed”, by now anyone who’s not very dumb would’ve learned his lesson. Yet to this very day he goes around begging the Reps to help him, literally grovelling before them. I would not be surprised if he physically crawled. So he’s very stupid there.

      Any intelligent person knows the Reps won’t support him, he’s demoralized his base (again, intelligence would have learned the lesson of 1994 and NAFTA), and independents loathe his health racket machinations. (Intelligence would understand poll results on the “public option”, as opposed to the bill without it.)

      No base, no independents…intelligence would understand that there’s little else. But O seems to think Republicans will vote for him. Very smart….

      So it’s clear that by any real world measure Obama’s book smarts don’t translate to functional intelligence. He’s basically an egghead who’s also a two-bit hustler, but who is now on a stage far beyond either of those capacities.

      So yes, realistically Obama’s mind is mediocre. The only people who still tout his alleged “intelligence” are similar idiot savants, or savant wannabes, whose own minds are similarly dysfunctional outside of an extremely specialized hothouse environment.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I was never a huge Al Gore fan until after well after the 2,000 election, but I think description of W. Bush is a good fit for Obama: “Intellectually incurious.”

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I am a lip-reader specializing in marine mammals.

    Today’s antidote – sea lion in Bronx zoo: GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Chinese communists are looking more and more like the Nationalists they forced to Taiwan decades ago.

    Yesterdays’ revolutionaries are today’s desparate reactionaries. It’s not too different from ‘today’s inventions are tomorrow’s disasters.’ We can expect today’s democratic revolutionaries to be tomorrow’s fascist reactionaries once they get settled in.

    Professor Yu is wrong. The problem is not internet freedom in China so much as it’s the chasm between the rich and the exploiting (equally capable of being accomplished by communistes and capitalists, it would appear) and the poor, the exploited. It’s the same old story of the Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens.

    There is no need to quote Yu or an ex-pat Chinese in Australia. You can see the pending revolution in China by all the Chinse billionaires in Beverly Hills. They have enough problems within the Han to self-destruct without the foreingners inciting the minorities there…that picture of an Uighur crowd at the top of the story looks like a covert operation run by an outside power.

  8. Anonymous

    I read the interesting links and something about “How Economy Was Lost”, the book I mean…

    Well, it was not lost yesterday…

    And things are more complex, the situation far worse.

    Was economy really “gained” sometimes?
    Yes, Wall Streets Velociraptors have precipitated the situation and the crisis, no doubt on this…

    But the very “nub” of the whole question is that this system loaned money and sums which it never owned…

    A system of credit on credit on credit on credit on credit on credit… Based on a reference to something real which, with the course of the times, became always reduced in favour of the credit on credit on credit system…

    If we all, citizens of the world, all together, for some reason unknown, went to the bank system to have back what was given them, well we would not find it…

    But it is not still the point: What was given us **never** existed…

    The money that we received in loans, as normal men for normal purposes or as entrepreneurs in order to transform that sum in a subsequent capital, never existed…

    Capitalism perhaps is naked but many too many still consider it dressed…

  9. dearieme

    The Bronx youngster is evidently listening to an Obama speech. That’s a cruel and unusual punishment for a sea mammal.

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