Links 9/18/10

Rare antelope-like mammal caught in Asia BBC

Paul Virilio Vice Magazine (hat tip reader Sundog). An interview with the theorist of disaster.

Boeing gets $89M to build unmanned aircraft that can stay aloft for 5 years Network World

HRP-4 YouTube (hat tip reader Sundog)

Dinesh D’Souza Digs Himself in Deeper: Some more criticism of Forbes’s disastrous Obama cover story Ryan Chittum

This Country Just Can’t Deal with Reality Any More Robert Perry, AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

the world where you live Joe Costello

Total “creative class” FAIL in DC Fenty debacle Lambert Strether. On the massive blind spots of the political punditocracy.

Two Different Worlds Bob Herbert, New York Times

Sentiment Trumped Numbers in Ground Zero Skyscraper Joe Nocera, New York Times

Pension Funds Gap Looms Larger Wall Street Journal

Our Best Minds Are Failing Us Michael Hirsh, Newsweek (hat tip reader Steve S)

Antidote du jour:

Picture 8

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  1. attempter

    “Our best minds are failing us”? He must mean they’re failing to sufficiently rebel, to break out of their subjection.

    Meanwhile our worst minds have definitively failed and proven their unfitness to even live among human beings let alone rule. And yet they still hold all the wealth and power.

    Unfortunately, hackboy Hirsh still means those we must call on faith “the best minds”, like economists and prostitutes who fancy themselves “scientists”.

    News flash to the hacks of the world: The measure of a good mind is intelligent thought undertaken on behalf of the common good, leading to action on behalf of the good.

    Whores who think on behalf of evil and of their own wretched paycheck, however much raw intellectual power they have, are by definition the worst minds. (And as we’ve seen, they’re generally very stupid in their practice and disastrous in their results. Only brute force and the inertia of congealed wealth and power keeps the zombie upright and ambulatory.)

  2. LeeAnne

    Joe Costello: “But now, in one of the most volatile political environments in this republic’s history, the so-called Tea Partiers, whatever they may be, are taking out one “moderate Republican” after the other, to the “moderate Republicans” electoral detriment, or so I’ve been continually told by the NYT and Post over the past few months.”

    Terrific reporting. I’m looking forward to his follow-up. There must be a pony at the bottom of this pile of S.


  3. fit to be tied

    Attempter: In my opinion, you are absolutely spot on about the definition of a best mind: it is focused on the outward not the inward. For decades our nation has rewarded those who chose to focus on their self-interests. As a matter of fact we celebrated that behavior as rational–survival of the fittest and all that. Anyone in a position of authority who tried to turn the mirror outward has been regularly labeled as a communist, socialist, or even worse. Only when we return to some semblance of “one nation under God” (and, by God, I mean everyone’s God, whomever that may be) will we right ourselves and move forward in this millennium as we must. We are much more interconnected than ever before via technology and other improvements, but we continue to act as if our interests do not intersect in the least. Sigh.

  4. Kevin de Bruxelles

    The article comparing the Freedom Tower to the B of A Tower is a bit misleading. The buildings are not really comparable cost-wise for several reasons. The Freedom Tower has to meet high blast and progressive collapse criteria, not to mention that it has many extra escape stairs and beefed up fire protection — way above what the codes require. It also has a huge and complex below grade portion where it has to among other things accommodate incoming subway stations. And most important of all, there was a billion dollars in insurance money to help pay for it. So if you subtract out that free billion, which basically ends up paying for all the beefed up security and basement features, you actually have the Freedom Tower at $884 per sq ft while the B of A building is $952.

  5. lambert strether

    Thanks for the link. Readers here might also be interested in our Plantidote of the Day which is, of course, a riff on your “Antidote of the Day.” Except we think that growing one’s own food could turn out to be important, so awareness and appreciation of plant life is something that we encourage…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thank you, Lambert Strether.

      We have way, way too many narrow-minded, animal-centric, and even worst, mammal-centric people here, forgetting that cold blooded critters are very good antidotes for hot-blooded Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens. Not once have I seen, for example, cockroaches posted as an antidote.

      Remember, also, plants are our brothers and sisters.

      Chewing living vegetables to death in your mouth is one of the cruelest acts ever.

      Think about that – they are still alive. Can’t you hear them cry?

      1. skippy

        I had a nice spider for you but, Yves said ewww.

        Skippy…the first time I ran into an anchoring thread of its web, my head whipped back, millisecond thinking OS if the web is that strong (16+ lbs fishing line) I hope the little bugger isn’t sitting on top of my head…lol.

  6. Dan

    Lambert’s piece is important because it highlights how almost incomprehensibly out of touch a lot of the DC-centric commentators are, even those who are ostensibly liberal.

    Every time one of them marvels at how ungrateful the bloggers and activists are I want to yell at the screen that unemployment trumps everything. (Linkwhoring: I posted on this a few months ago.) In Washington even mentioning the perfectly obvious, historically proven remedy is considered radical. Forget about an actual debate.

    If the D’s really do get walloped in November it will only be a surprise inside the Beltway. 10% unemployment means you get your ass kicked, period, full stop.

      1. jest

        Lambert –

        That article was a great find. Loved every word.

        I grew up in the DC area, and the upper/lower crust divide has been obvious for decades. None of this is new. It blows my mind that people *still* don’t understand this quote:

        “Because if these people are so deeply misguided about what happens in their own city how in the hell can they possibly know what’s happening in this country?”

        This mentality has absolutely wrecked not only the media which provides “coverage” of our politicos, but politicians as well. As out of touch as Obama is, the 100 so-called statesmen in the upper chamber are somehow even *more* clueless.

        And they are so wrapped in a bubble, that trying to convince even the left-of-center pundits of these truths gets you branded as “fringe,” dismissed as “extremist,” etc. I’m at the point where even Chris Matthews makes me want to throw things at my TV.

  7. Ron

    This Country Just Can’t Deal with Reality Any More Robert Perry:

    The Tea Party members were OK Americans when they voted for the tried and true Republicans but now they are political trouble makers wrecking the Grand Old Party. They are the advance guard for the new Nazi Party (my mothers take)or killing the chances for the Republican Party from taking control of Senate etc.
    Both major political parties have lost membership with moderates becoming either swing voters or registering as independents this has created in the Republican ranks a larger base of disenchanted Republicans who are now driving many of the primary votes. This is what occurred in Calif and now looks to becoming a national event the out come is political grid lock with little getting accomplished.
    The republican party with its Southern focus and John Birch Society look and feel nationally is clearly going through a significant change but the Democrats should also understand that there big tent party could become fragmented as Americans start embracing smaller issue political parties.

  8. Hugh

    There is a quality of being shocked, shocked that gambling was going on in the casino in Michael Hirsh’s article. He points fingers at neoclassical economists and at the quants, i.e. the best minds. Mistakes were made. Incorrect assumptions were embraced. What he misses, probably on purpose, is that this was all a con and a fraud from the get go. The quants and economists were really nothing more than a bit of razzle-dazzle to help sell the con. What doesn’t get mentioned at all by Hirsh are those on Wall Street who were running the con and those in Washington who were abetting them. All in all a nice piece of misdirection.

    Dinesh D’Sousa is just noise, very well paid noise. Obama is a scoundrel. So is Dinesh D’Sousa. The point is that D’Sousa can’t really give the real reason why Obama is a scoundrel, that he is a lying neocon corporatist, because well, D’Sousa is one too. There is no real difference between the two. Rather this is more a game of skin and shirts filled with meaningless jostling and trash talk. It is a contest, not a conflict.

    Herbert is always worth reading. The surprise is that the NYT would hire anyone who wrote that well.

  9. Hugh

    Oh, and pension funds? They are living in la la land. They will get hammered in the next crash, as plodding slow movers always do. Maybe someone else has a better idea but I would take the Treasury rate and divide it into their expected rate of return, about 2 1/2, to ballpark how far off their estimates of underfunding are.

  10. EmilianoZ

    Bruce Greenwald’s piece “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms” is a must-read. Obama was at some posh fund raising event. Here’s what he said about unsatisfied progressive:

    “Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get — to see the glass as half empty. (Laughter.) If we get an historic health care bill passed — oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. If you get the financial reform bill passed — then, well, I don’t know about this particular derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that. And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and — (laughter.) I thought that was going to happen quicker. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.) We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation.”

    It’s worst than I thought. He really seems convinced he has done something good and useful for the people. I also sense a lot of snark in his snickering.

    He really needs a lesson. Palin doesn’t look so bad now.

    1. jest


      With all the talk about economic pain, poverty, etc. he goes to HedgeFundLand, CT, to do a $30k/plate dinner at “Rich Richman’s” house (I’m serious, that’s his REAL NAME) in the same neighborhood as Linda McMahon?

      The balls of this dude are incredible. His level of rank smugness and hypocrisy are quickly reaching Bush levels. At this rate, he’ll be at Cheney’s level by year end.


    2. sherparick

      Yea, Sarah Palin and what she would bring him does look really bad and snark liberals like you helped bring in George W. in 2001 should think about how big the next body count and economic crisis after the Palin/Liz Cheney administration takes control.

      I basically agree that Obama is far to centrist. Krugman pointed this out in the primary, and reading his actual campaign positions would have told us the same thing, but Liberals were in denial (for instance, he was very clear he was going to escalate in Afghanistan, but that apparently was a promise we thought he would break). So we are mad at him because we fooled ourselves about a part-time professor at the University of Chicago Law school was a neo-liberal? Gee. Politics is sometimes picking the lesser of two evils. Gore was a lesser evil than Bush, Carter a lesser evil than Reagan, and Bruening was a lesser evil than Hitler. So yes, Obama is a lesser evil than Palin (or current Republican nominee that would emerge out of the 2012 primary process.) I only hope that Obama starts showing more survival skills than Fenty who seem oblivious to the fact that the D.C. African-American community was facing a 35% unemployment rate.

  11. Bernard

    yes any criticism of Obama is way beyond the pale. that is just not done. after al, Obama is “delivering” on his campaign promises, NOT! but dare anyone point out that Obama is doing “Republican” deeds, like Health care a la Romney!, stealing Social Security only Democrats could do! Geesh, the attacks on those who criticize Obama sounds like Rove is behind the Democratic attack machine. lol

    being thrown under the bus and being told to shut up and be happy about being run over is mandatory requirement for being a Democrat today. although what Obama has done is quite interesting to behold. i mean, who could ask for more, only appreciation is allowed. sounds like The Bush years when protesters were shunted off into “approved” spaces. lol.

    i really am to blame for not appreciating getting thrown under the bus. i mean! how dare me? dare i not enjoy getting lied to and dare i expect Obama to fulfill some of the promises he made. of course, after voting to spy on Americans, i knew Obama was a Republican in Democratic clothing. but i did not say a word. not wanting to be seen as a whiny, shrill DFH. lol.

    the Democrats really are devolving into the Republicans a lot faster than i thought probable!

    is Palin ready to take Obama’s place yet? What? you say there is a difference? about 3 centimeters apart!!

    at least the show is entertaining, for the reality is sickening and destructive of anything like the America i read about growing up.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      An example from one city proves nothing. You haven’t in any way discredited the study I cited. I can give you dozens of examples of private sector companies where people are overpaid for what they do. Let’s start with Time Warner, where the secretaries are paid so much that many own multiple houses. Oh, and what about John Thain’s driver? He made $230,000. I don’t see you upset about him. Pretty much all executive secretaries are overpaid (their comp is a reflection of their bosses’ stature). How about brand name management consultants? The insurance industry (and I mean pretty much every product, P&C, life, health) is also richly paid relative to job content. Or doormen, all they do is stand around, why should they get anything over minimum wage?

  12. Doug Terpstra

    In “This Country Just Can’t Deal with Reality Any More”, Robert Perry offers a clear narrative of how America descended into Orwellian madness and diminished capacity. The absurdity of wing nut wackiness is surging, and even “intellectuals” like Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich, flogging Obama as anti-colonial Kenyan, are being taken seriously. Thus, billionaire-funded Tea Party loonies have now won significant primaries for the US Senate and NY governor. But, like self-serving fools, the Democrats are giddy about this, because it serves their own political fortunes. Screw America. (Done)

    In just an article Parry explains our descent pretty well: “America’s decoupling from reality – and its disappearance into the swamp of unreality – began in earnest with the rise of actor and ad pitchman Ronald Reagan, who crafted a host of get-something-for-nothing policies that appealed to a nation that was struggling to adjust to a more complex world.” The rise of the Neocons (Abrams, Perle, Kagan, Krystal, et al) under Reagan began a coordinated program of “perception management”, including think tanks, captured media, and CIA propaganda, that has accelerated ever since, becoming farcical during Clinton’s time and then catapulted violently and globally after 911. Perception management is “psychological warfare” using fear and loathing, lies, racism, tribalism, and to exploit a confused and embittered electorate for very narrow imperial interests gorging on massive debt. It’s a good recap of how the frogs were willingly boiled to death, but Parry’s final prescriptions are woefully vague and anticlimactic.

  13. Glen

    The Michael Hirsh piece is a good start, but I sure wish he could get together with Yves – it’s very thoroughly covered in ECONNned.

    It would be nice if the name for the “science” of economics was changed back to “political economics” so it was much more obvious that neoclassical economics is not much more than political beliefs wrapped with a veneer of “science” and mathematics.

    Unfortunately, our society has been warped to reward “quants” playing with numbers and political economic models, much sound and fury which produced nothing but misery for the masses. These people should have been concentrating on the most pressing problems confronting the world: lack of clean energy, lack of clean water, and global climate change.

    Instead, we have CDSs, CDOs, shadow markets, HFT, and countless other forms of fictional securitization, all have which resulted in “high” finance which has devastated the world economy. And we have the suppression of any other form of economics which does not conform to neo-classical economic assumptions which have been proven repeatedly and most terribly wrong.

    Most distressing, is that two years after the Masters of the Universe descended to and demanded a nation’s ransom to bailout their fraud and corruption, we still have the “wise adult” economists embedded in world governments everywhere shaking their heads and proclaiming “Whocuddanoded?” neglecting to point out that plenty of people predicted this crisis, screamed about it for years as regulatory safeguards were stripped from the financial system:

    <a Senator Dorgan predicting financial failure due to 1999 Financial Modernization Act

    Whocuddanoded? Senator Dorgan knew, and so did many others.

  14. Sundog

    According to charging documents, the unprovoked, fatal attack on Jan. 15 was the start of a months-long shooting spree…. Members of the platoon have been charged with dismembering and photographing corpses, as well as hoarding a skull and other human bones.

    The father of one soldier said he repeatedly tried to alert the Army after his son told him about the first killing, only to be rebuffed.

    Army officials have not disclosed a motive for the killings and macabre behavior. Nor have they explained how the attacks could have persisted without attracting scrutiny.

    But a review of military court documents and interviews with people familiar with the investigation suggest the killings were committed essentially for sport by soldiers who had a fondness for hashish and alcohol.

    Gibbs, whom some defendants have described as the ringleader, confided to his new mates that it had been easy for him to get away with “stuff” when he served in Iraq in 2004….

    Military police caught wind of the final killing a few days later, but only by happenstance. Records show they were coincidentally investigating reports of hashish use by members of the 3rd Platoon.

    After word leaked that one soldier had spoken to military police, several platoon members retaliated, records show. They confronted the informant and beat him severely – punching, kicking and choking the soldier, then dragging him across the ground. As a last warning, the documents state, Gibbs menacingly waved finger bones he had collected from Afghan corpses.

    Wasilla, Boise… this could get even uglier.

    Christopher Winfield is an American hero.

    Craig Whitlock, “Members of U.S. platoon in Afghanistan accused of killing civilians for sport”

    1. Sundog

      The tabloid doesn’t go down any better, seemingly composed in equal measure of shame and rage, as though some inflamed national subtext were being ritually, painfully massaged, for whatever temporary and paradoxical relief this might afford.

      William Gibson, “Pattern Recognition”

  15. 4jkb4ia

    Registering at Corrente isn’t worth it for me, but I had to point out Ta-Nehisi Coates’s post where correspondents repeat all the criticisms of Fenty that were in Lambert’s post. But of course TNC isn’t “creative class”. He only spent most of the summer at a retreat working on a book.

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