Links 9/15/10

Price set for tiger conservation BBC

Massive fish kill reported in Louisiana Yahoo News (hat tip reader John M)

Why ‘Scientific Consensus’ Fails to Persuade ScienceDaily (hat tip reader John M)

Ultimate Privacy: How to Disappear, Erase Digital Footprints & Vanish Without a Trace Network World

Is This America? Nicholas Kristof, New York Times (hat tip reader Skippy)

Geithner Calendar: Met Goldman’s Blankfein More Often Than Pelosi, Reid, McConnell, Boehner Shahien Nasiripour, Huffington Post

Next: ‘Boom years are over for retailers’ Robert Peston

TAP Debates Populism American Progressive

The Last Thing Government Will Do John Moore

BP cited for safety lapses in North Sea Financial Times

Companies May Fail, but Directors Are in Demand New York Times. One of the many fictions of corporate America, that being a CEO or a board member is a function of merit.

What’s Holding Back Small Businesses? Economix. Not news if you’ve been following this or other blogs.

Mervyn King to face hostile TUC amid determination to ‘protect public from banks’ Telegraph (hat tip reader Tim C)

The Empire strikes back Avinash Persaud VoxEU

Antidote du jour:

Picture 25

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  1. attempter

    Re “Progressives” debate Populism:

    That’s appropriate, since among the murderers of the original Populist movement were the original Progressives, the direct descendants of today’s corporate liberals.

    The basic ideology remains the same: Elites should monopolize all economic and political power and seize all wealth from those who produce it, and then some of this wealth should trickle back down. Where necessary the system should be reformed.

    (The only big difference is that a hundred years ago Progressives like TR were sincere about wanting this reformism and fought for it. Today’s liberals, out of their characteristic combination of cowardice and treachery, not only call for wretched, craven measures, but lie even as they call for that little crumb, since they never intend to fight for it. The 2009 health racket bailout will forever go down as the classical case study in liberal fecklessness and malevolence.)

    I won’t delve into what the hack wrote, just a few characteristic lies.

    What I argued was that populism, over the course of the 20th century and into our own, has moved predominantly from left to right.

    Typical criminal-speak. Note the passive, agentless voice: “has moved”, by magic. Not, “was aggressively quashed on the left by an alliance of corporate liberals and the right”, and not “became the monopoly of the right on account of how we liberals, out of our own cowardice and treachery, left populism a wide open void, as we’re still doing today because we’re willfully derelict”.

    The critics who suggested I “tarred the left” prompted me to think of something I should probably have discussed in the article — Naderism, a key progressive populist story of our time. Scholar Barbara Ehrenreich et al. argue that the Democrats are “captured by the moneyed elites” and are oblivious to “class warfare.” When “grassroots self-organization” to “regain effective control of the parties or forge an alternative” was last tried by Ralph Nader during the 2000s, the results were dreadful. His anti-corporate message failed to appeal to enough Americans and wound up spoiling elections for Democrats.

    Let’s get this straight once and for all.

    1. Nader didn’t “spoil” anything. A monkey could have easily won that election for the Democrats. But Gore ran such an incompetent campaign that he let Bush get close enough to steal it. That has nothing whatsoever to do with Nader. That’s 100% on Gore.

    2. Gore nevertheless won the election. He won the election. He had a whole party behind him, and a huge campaign machine. He had physical possession of the White House, and Clinton people populating the executive branch.

    And with all these advantages, having won the election, he and his supporters, in their infinitely despicable cowardice, let a few thugs steal it all away from them.

    Gore had no right to let Bush and the “supreme” court steal the election. None whatsoever. He was given a mandate by the voters and he treacherously threw it away. And did his supporters FORCE him to fight? Not at all. They all caved in the moment he did, like the wretched cowards they all were.

    This is their great crime and great dishonor. This is why when the history of American fascism is written there will be a special pit of hell reserved for Gore and his liberal cowards.

    And Ralph Nader had nothing to do with any of it. Gore won the election. They had it all. But it’s also the measure of their loathesomeness that rather than place the blame on themselves where it belongs, they scapegoat a weak target. Since they’re not just cowards but bullies too.

    I propose some version of that as the standard for dealing with this lie.

    1. JTFaraday

      “I won’t delve into what the hack wrote”

      Well, he’s certainly not very self aware, or he would surely know that as some schmoo teaching at one of many 4th rate normal schools in Ohio, he is, thanks to Dick Hofstadter, virtually a right wing populist by definition.

      Take away his tenure–I just decided only Harvard faculty get tenure–and his “but I’m not a feminst” asserverations will melt like lard on a Chevy pickup on a hot afternoon in July.

  2. purple

    One of the many fictions of corporate America, that being a CEO or a board member is a function of merit.

    They really are that much smarter.

    1. bob

      Just to be clear, this is about placing her at treasury so that she would NOT be available to head of the Consumer Protection agency.

  3. Francois T

    Re: The Last Thing Government Will Do

    My respect for Steve Keen only grew after listening to his interview (Starting @11:30mins here with Max Keiser. Listening to him, one can be pretty much secure (for now) that rank partisan politics a la John Mauldin on taxes or Mish’s visceral hatred of anything unions unions won’t creep unto the argument and spoil it like the proverbial fly in the soup. But I digress.

    The money quote (starting @ 23:53 mins) from this interview is:
    “the major economies are entering a debt deflationary spiral. There is an easy way out of it: increase workers’ wages which would allow them to pay off their debts and create inflation. But, economic policy makers don’t understand this, [FT here: they despise working people so much that they can’t even conceive such a solution] and therefore, it will be the last thing they do.”

    What he said about economists right after this snippet is freaking priceless!

    1. chad

      “easy way out of it: increase workers’ wages”

      I don’t think it’s *that* easy. Who’s going to pay for the wage increase? The factory who’s revenue is going down because of lack of demand due to the deflationary forces at work? Furthermore, how would you execute a wage increase? Would it just be written into law “everyone gets a 15% pay raise” or would you incentive the employer with a tax decrease? If it’s an incentive how to you keep the employer from just pocketing the freed up $$ ?

      I don’t think there’s an easy fix here.

      1. bumunderbridge

        An easy way to do it in the US would be to declare the a payroll tax holiday on the _employee_ contributions, upto the current FICA cap.

        And to kill the arguments that this will increase the SS deficit, or the budget deficit if the govt covers the employee contributions, eliminate the FICA cap.

        Voila, everyone gets an 8% raise.

    1. psychohistorian

      What you will never hear about though is the bankers going to meet their bosses because that is just NOT discussed in polite company.

  4. Andrea

    The article by Kristof titled “Is this America?” is a sneaky hit piece that plays on the juxtaposition of principle (or law, etc.) and fact (in the sense of alleged facts) without any resolution.

    Americans, and others of course, often wash the question away with functionalist arguments, thus making a mockery of principle.

    For example, torture is acceptable when the subject is a ‘terrorist’ and precious American lives might be saved.

    For Islam it is a little more difficult, and all that can be managed is to question, disparage or attack, not Islam “itself”, but some of its precepts or practices or cultural habits. (Where is the difference?)

    Kristof gives it a good college try and manages to insert all the main talking points, as something he ‘sincerely‘ believes is of concern or appears to accept as problematic – mistreatment of women, oppression of other minorities, and EU worries (‘fact’ about other’s presumably valid opinions) : wife-beating, poor integration, homophobia, genital mutilation, forced marriage.

    He also jams in wilder, more extravagant assertions.

    The ground zero mosque if built is Triumph over America according to ‘all muslims’ as reported by ‘a university professor’ – plus US opposition to it will create more ‘jihadis’, as said by a Taliban operative. He presents these points flatly. (Note he is describing win-win for ‘muslims’!) His giving space to an alleged ‘jihadi’ is deliberate.

    The addendum of the widely disbelieved conspiracy factlet (no jews died on 9/11), without explanation, is presumably parsed as islamic /palestinian in origin or motivation (or overall anti-semitic, anti-Israel). His ex. of empty hate mongering is again understood as from one source only, while appearing argumentatively acceptable on the surface.

    The only folly he critiques is removing constitutional rights from Muslims, thus putting it forward as a possibility (I, for example, was not aware that this has been mentioned) while notably not explicitly ridiculing or denouncing the assertion “Muslin life is cheap.”

    (I’m leaving aside the mention of Bush and Obama.)

    “We know what it is like when people have attacked us physically, have attacked us verbally, and others have remained silent” from the Rabbi is a well chosen quote, as ‘physical attack’ immediately conjures up 9/11 (the reason why 9/11 was mentioned earlier in the piece) and thus draws a parallel between Islamic fundamentalists and the Nazis. But maybe I’m stretching here … that is the way I read it anyway.

    His praise of the people he quotes who oppose anti-Muslim frenzy are just individual examples. They might be animal rightists, or flat earth enthusiasts.
    He plays the “all opinions are equal and I am a balanced writer” card.

    Note finally how he avoids the appealing ‘bad apples’ argument, as well as the trap of the ‘blowback argument’, both favorites of the ‘left’. He leaves out the term ‘racist’ as that might offend the racists, or discredit racist attitudes, etc.

    Well this sort of stuff is very common in the US mainstream. It works.

  5. Cynthia

    Like most billionaires, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is a celebrity. And like most celebrities, whether they are billionaires or not, being a liar and a cheat is an asset, not a liability. So even if the new movie about the birth of Facebook wrongly portrays Zuckerberg as someone who lied and cheated his way to the top (see link below), both he and those who made this movie are gonna be even richer and even bigger celebrities for portraying him in such a manner. That’s how Hollywood works, and since Zuckerberg is now very much a part of Hollywood, I have no doubt that he’ll make Hollywood work to his advantage.

    Let me also say that I would have a much greater appreciation for Mark Zuckerberg and his struggle to become a successful entrepreneur had he started from the very bottom. He was already pretty close to the top by living in an elite dorm on the elite campus of Harvard. So his struggle to get to the top would have been far more difficult had he instead lived in a run-down trailer park, while attending a dirt-poor community college. Plus such a story would make a far better rags-to-riches movie, and a very heartwarming one at that. But this will never happen as long as movies about the rich getting richer remain in vogue, and the ones about the poor getting rich remain out of vogue.

    1. Cynthia

      Since there isn’t one dominant player in the blogospheric space, it doesn’t make much sense to me why Facebook rose to become the only dominant player in the social-networking space. This would be akin to having most of the blog traffic first pass through one almighty blog site, be it Naked Capitalism or whatever site it is, before this traffic moves on to most other blog sites in the blogospheric space. Think of the blogospheric space and the social-networking space as both being separate and distinct toll roads on the internet. If there is no one single dominant tollbooth called Naked Capitalism on the blogospheric toll road, then there is no reason whatsoever for there to be a single dominant tollbooth called Facebook on the social-networking toll road.

      Now I can see why Google rose to become the dominant player in the search-engine space. After all, Google’s capacity to handle information is second only to that of the Pentagon’s. And since information is second only to money in terms of it’s ability to catch and wield power, it’s gonna be very difficult for other search engines to break Google’s power. But popularity is about only thing that’s making Facebook a dominant player in the social-networking space. So Facebook will come and go just like most things do in popular culture. And so it’s only a matter of time before another social networking site moves in, giving Zuckerberg and his Facebook Empire a run for their money.

      1. doom

        Hmm, on that minor point, I’m inclined to think that there’s not much of a barrier to entry in Google’s line of work. The computing capacity is dirt cheap and the numerical methods for manipulating big sparse matrices are well in hand, and that Google’s best shot is to diversify while it still has market dominance.

      2. subunit

        Facebook, at one time, had an extremely high signal-to-noise ratio by comparison to its competition. Networks were small and restricted to particular institutions, it was possible to be candid without fearing that one’s employer or family members would stumble across off-hand or ill-considered remarks, and there was little or no garbage from applications, spam, and the like. It has become much less useful in this regard since then, but if you compare it to something like myspace, it’s still infinitely superior. I think a distributed network like Diaspora might eventually provide some real competition but I’m not aware of any other social network that is a serious competitor to facebook at this point.

  6. KingTut

    “Scientific Consensus” is an oxymoron. Science has either been completed and no longer in dispute, or it simply hasn’t been finished yet. When the facts are no longer doubt, there is no need for a consensus.
    The mere fact that anybody talks about a scientific consensus with respect to carbon dioxide causing global warming, means the Science is NOT DONE, period. We know good scientists who had the temerity to question the IPCCs findings have had their funding cut off and their reputations ruined. That’s not a consensus, that’s an eco-fascist politics (And I’m a serious environmentalist).

    1. dbt

      If you believe this, you really need to go read some Thomas Kuhn. Science is never “completed”. Models are refined, paradigms are overturned, dogma is discarded. If you don’t understand that, you can’t understand the scientific process. Incidentally, the idea that the IPCC, a panel of a handful of scientists, can somehow unilaterally cut off the funding of other scientists working in different countries for different funding agencies, is a hoot and is a sure sign that you’ve never held a grant or dealt with a funding agency before..

  7. PJM

    May I suggest a link? So please:

    So, how can this political system work if only the riche can be elected?

    How are americans surprised by the decay in their standadrs of living if the oligarchs and the wealthy control their lives?

    How are americans surprised to know that the rich are more rich and the middle class is getting poor?

    Is this Democracy? Hey, looks more the worst of Roman Empire.

    How long will take to a “new” Karl Marx put the hands in Washington and make a new revolution?

    As some say: if the rich dont look to the poor, the poor will look for the rich.

    Best regards.

  8. Doug Terpstra

    Obama never fails to disappoint. The only real surprise is Warren going along with the charade when there’s very little hope she can mitigate the damage and avoid contaminating her reputation and self-respect.

  9. KFritz

    The Antidote is an orange tabby w/ blue Siamese eyes! My late beloved neutered tom, named ‘Nero Wolfe,’ was just such a cat. He was 18 lbs (not fat), ferocious to all but myself, my neighbor the bookie, and his ‘stablemate’ ‘Dynasty,’ who was tolerated. He still wanders through my dreams.

  10. Karen

    Regarding the ScienceDaily link:

    Not good news for the success of the human race, if this is a constant ongoing phenomenon. But I think change does eventually come about in response to even unwelcome scientific discoveries (as it did in the ’60s). The footdragging will eventually give way to a sufficiently broad, if grudging, consensus for action. Hopefully it will occur in time so we can muddle through OK…

Comments are closed.