Links Halloween

Europe targets wasteful gadgets BBC

Can Google call elections? TechBlorge (hat tip reader David C)

‘The middle class has lost track of how poor this country is’ Tehelka Magazine (hat tip reader May S)

Old Foes Square Off Over Issue of Puppies New York Times. I must confess my first cat came from a pet store, which meant it came from a kitten mill (I was not planning to buy a cat, but a friend dragged me into the store when we were out on errands, and one of the kittens knew exactly what he had to do to get out of there). He had a great personality but developed a kidney ailment that was clearly genetic and died when he was three years old, so I am particularly sympathetic to the idea of regulating breeders (and that’s before you get into the quality of life issues for the breeding females).

Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity draws marchers from across America Guardian. Yo, are these numbers right? A quarter of a million people? The foreign press is often better at covering events like this, save they usually wind up with estimates of turnout from organizers that are almost always an exaggeration of real turnout. But the WaPo has no estimates of crowd sizv (huh, I recall estimates of the Beck MLK day rally at 90,000, and the photos of the Mall show it to be packed. The NYT similarly has no serious headcount guesstimate either ). I was in Sydney and joined the protest against the Gulf War, and that many turned up, it was a huge event (the subways were absolute sardine cans, they were never remotely that crowded, even at rush hour).

Money Woes Can Be Early Clue to Alzheimer’s New York Times

For-Profit Schools, Tested Again Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

The Grand Old Plot Against the Tea Party Frank Rich

Marc Faber: Fed’s QE2 Could Trigger Market Correction Seeking Alpha. Funny, Faber was the rage during the crisis, he gets much less coverage now.

The Chamber of Commerce Is the International Cosmopolitan Elite Menzie Chinn. Once you get past his first sentence, this is very useful.

“White House Considering ‘Decoupling’ Top-Tier Tax Cut” Mark Thoma

The GDP Story: Final Demand Grew Just 0.6 Percent Dean Baker

This Is What Accounting Identities Look Like Peter Dorman

Steve Rattner on Sheila Bair Economics of Contempt. Relevant in light of the post below.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Steven Rattner, Overhaul: An Insider’s Account of the Obama Administration’s Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry FireDogLake. Today’s must read. FDL readers are a tough crowd!

Antidote du jour:

Picture 6

And for old times’ sake…..

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  1. Dikaios Logos

    I not sure of the numbers at the rally, but I did see large numbers of people on the transit routes and subways into town. The crowds might not have been up to July 4th sizes, but they appeared bigger than any protest in recent memory.

    1. rjs

      Jon Stewart’s ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ energizes expats from Paris to Prague –

      Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington has sparked more than 1,160 mini-rallies in 84 countries, morphing into something of a global political happening.The last time a political rally in America gained such international traction was during the 2003 protests against the Iraq war, says Timothy Patrick McCarthy, director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “I have been surprised by the proliferation of rallies worldwide,” says Dr. McCarthy. “But I’m not sure what it means. I don’t know if this is just an outlet for people who share frustrations to come together for some cathartic exercise of political relief. But one of the things I think is interesting is there is a lot of anger and disaffection across the political spectrum.”

  2. Ina Deaver

    It was absolutely massive. I would say that 250,000 was a pretty accurate estimate of what I saw, but we had to bail out with people still arriving in very large numbers. The park service had blocked off some grassy areas, which spread the crowd down further (not unlike little reflecting pools – the reflecting pool seriously spread out the Beck crowd). I would say that this rally was a lot larger than the Beck one.

    What was even more amazing was that the photos do not begin to do justice to the size of the crowd. Human beings were wedged so tight that you couldn’t move from Independence Ave. to Penn. All inroads and space around the museums was jammed. Lots of people with kids had to abandon the idea, because the crowd was just too large.

    Let me put it to you this way: we entered the mall area at the Capitol. We had to filter back out to Penn and then travel down to 12th to get back in. We lined up behind some fencing, so there was a large clear space in front of us, and put the kids on our shoulders – but they still couldn’t see or hear (let me tell you, lack of a jumbotron and larger speakers was a serious issue at 8 city blocks away). That was around 1:10, and the crowd was still arriving – literally coming in huge droves.

    It was an extremely well-behaved crowd. Very kind. Large numbers of families, some seniors, lots of 20 somethings. All colors, before the face paint. The kids were angry that they couldn’t see Colbert, and tired of standing in the sun – we wound up decamped at the Occidental with a drink and a burger. Perhaps my family are a tad too reasonable and sane for rallies. ;) But it was pretty impressive, I have to tell you.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      You all realize how ridiculous this discussion is, right? Or is it totally lost on you?

      Stewart himself joked that no matter what happened during the rally, the only topic for discussion would be the size and racial composition of the crowd.

      What a bunch of predictable ignoramuses we are. Seriously…

      1. Ina Deaver

        Actually, the whole thing was satire. The point was to send up how tired the entire “rally” concept has become, and the idea that determining public discourse by who can bring out the most people wearing flag t-shirts is goof-headed.

        So, YEAH. Absolutely I get it. I also get that the other point of the rally was a sort of joke about and among the silent majority of this country. What about the discussion made you think that we didn’t get it?

        What I still find interesting is that every moronic rally is treated as news by the mainstream, but there was NO reporting on it. Given that the fact that it both was and wasn’t a political event, that is kind of telling. I think that the problem is that the mainstream media didn’t want to be suckered, and also they see Stewart/Colbert as competition rather than someone to report about. All very interesting, considering that he saved his only real attack for the media themselves.

    2. jest

      I think the planners greatly underestimated the turnout.

      I couldn’t even get to the metro station, because the on ramp from I-95 to the station (which is roughly a mile long) was totally backed up 90 minutes before the event started.

      When I finally got there, I couldn’t even walk on the sidewalks or streets it was so crowded. I gave up and had to use the interior of the Smithsonian buildings as a way to get through the crowd.

      For those who weren’t there, it was nuts.

  3. rjs

    re: The GDP Story: Final Demand Grew Just 0.6 Percent

    most people wont notice that dean baker sneaks in the word annualized; hence, the real growth for the quarter was onlt 1/4 of the .6% he noted…

  4. lerougetradeur

    I am still puzzling over this accounting identity stuff, and thinking that maybe the way to understand it is that accounting identities are true by definition. So if we find something that does not seem plausibly true in the real world, it must be, absolutely must be, that we have just not got the definitions right.

    So let us look at one of these definitions.
    Private financial balance + Government balance + Foreign balance = 0

    It follows that if the private sector pays down debt and if the foreign balance stays the same, the government balance must go further into debt.

    Yet, when we look at this as if it were an empirical question rather than a question of definition, it is not clear why this should happen. You hear people looking at this statement and asking why they and their friends cannot all pay down their debts at once, and what does that have to do with the government?

    The answer is, its a matter of definition. They can all pay down their debts at once, and it will not necessarily affect the government, because they are not what is defined as the private sector. Aha! The private sector which cannot reduce its debts without affecting the government is all of the economy that is not the government. Now we see that if it goes into debt, it must borrow from the government, which takes the government into surplus because it holds those debts, and if it pays down debt, it must lower government surpluses, because the only place that can be holding the debt that is being paid down is the government.

    So this really is true, and it is true by definition, but like all such truths, it is rather uninformative about what policies we should be following. Well, not so much uninformative, as irrelevant.

    The question we have to ask is a fairly simple one. Take the UK. Do we really think that the government is doing something useful by paying people making three or four times the average income an allowance for no other reason than that they have had a child? Do we really think it is good for the country to pay people a housing allowance to cover a rental level which is close to the average income itself? Yes, one really does mean both of these things about the UK. That is, ‘housing benefit’, which is to say a grant from the government to pay one’s rent, really can be and in a significant number of cases is, at or over the average salary. Yes, a couple making £80,000 a year in a country where the average salary is closer to £30,000 really can be paid an allowance out of taxes because they have had a child.

    When people fume about the Austerians and how they neglect basic accounting identities, they are wrong. This is not what the argument is about. The argument is about policy. It is about whether this way of running a country is sensible. And its about whether a government should engage in deficit spending, that is, spend more than its tax income, to run a country like that.

    A very great many people in the UK say no. None of them are denying various things that are true by definition. Because the argument is not about definitions, its about how we should behave.

    Consider the argument: to break a promise is wrong, by definition. Yes, maybe. Now the question is, whether it is sometimes right to do something wrong. The argument that various things are true by definition cuts both ways. It is true, but it makes them tautologies, which are by definition uninformative.

    Or do we maybe want to argue that the accounting identities are synthetic a priori propositions? That could be fun.

    1. FlimFlamMan

      “So this really is true, and it is true by definition, but like all such truths, it is rather uninformative about what policies we should be following. Well, not so much uninformative, as irrelevant.”

      Any policy which, in order to work, requires the accounting identities not to exist is guaranteed to fail. That seems pretty informative.

      “Take the UK. Do we really think… [various specific policies which may be bad] …When people fume about the Austerians and how they neglect basic accounting identities, they are wrong. This is not what the argument is about. The argument is about policy.”

      This would be true if the government were proposing not only to cut specific spending which may be damaging/unfair/counterproductive, but also to increase spending in other areas, in order to keep aggregate spending at the same level, or at a higher level. By cutting not just specific policies but the overall level of spending they are indeed neglecting accounting identities.

      1. leroguetradeur

        This is the thing about tautologies. They make no difference. There cannot be any policy which requires a tautology to be false to succeed. They are true by definition. If you try to list one, you’ll find that the reason your policy fails is not because it denies a tautology, but because it has other problems.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The amount of air you take in during another time period = the amoutnt of air that goes out from your body during that time period + change in the amount of air that was retained inside you during the same time period.

          That’s true for a living person as well as a dead person.

          That identity doesn’t tell you much.

          It doesn’t say, for example, if you are being chased by ghouls on Halloween, you should take in more air.

        2. FlimFlamMan

          “There cannot be any policy which requires a tautology to be false to succeed.”

          And yet we are surrounded by them.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I think you mean narrowly successful, as in in producing short term political benefits, as opposed to actually working.

          2. FlimFlamMan

            Responding to Yves:

            I mean that a policy cannot achieve its stated aims if those aims violate the accounting identities found in sectoral balances. leroguetradeur seems to think it is impossible to even formulate such a policy.

  5. LeeAnne

    sorry about the missing link.

    “Rally to Restore Sanity” pledges to “strictly prohibit filming” at National Mall
    By: J.P. Freire
    Associate Commentary Editor
    Read more at the Washington Examiner:

    No comment.

    1. Ina Deaver

      Are you aware of the Examiner’s editorial bent? Makes one a little skeptical, but. . .

      Also, the link isn’t working for some reason – it’s redirecting, and I can’t find the article by looking through the Examiner.

      1. LeeAnne

        It does look like a Washington Examiner tea party-bent exclusive. Thanks for the warning on source –for the caution; it helps and I appreciate it.

        1. Ina Deaver

          Thanks, LeeAnne. I actually read the Examiner, and it sometimes causes me a chuckle. They have all the legal notices, because they are a biweekly – and they actually cover stuff like county meetings. But they are a good deal to the right of the old Washington Times, which is saying something.

    1. colinc

      Out-stuckin-fanding, dude!! Too many thanks for that link!!! Great associated links with some of my favorite music! What a marvelous “shiny ball!”

  6. ohmyheck

    Re: the Mark Thoma piece about the White House bailing out on the tax-cut expiration, without a fight (as usual).

    One commenter writes he found a poll where there is a 50/50 split between Democrats who want to pirmary Obama in 2012, or not. The poll makes the claim that most of those who want to primary Obama are former Hillary Clinton supporters. Maybe so, but how many hundreds of thousands of Dem voters who voted for Obama and now feel abject despair at the WH policies also want Obama primaried?

    This should be completely freaking the WH out. This is just plain ugly.

    1. Ignim Brites

      After the mid-terms Obama is going to have to demonstrate that he can still bloody the opposition if necessary. That is why the best strategy for the Dems is to allow the Bush tax cuts to sunset; and focus attention on the eliminating the payroll tax. This is the most progressive approach and also the only one that really holds the promise of bringing about an increase in employment. Unless unemployment comes down it is rather irrelevant if someone challenges Obama. Anyway, does anyone seriously think that the senator from New York is going to be more aggressive towards the wealthy? The real action in the tax cut debate anyway is the differential treatment of dividends and capital gains. This is never mentioned in the New York dominated media but it is the part of the Bush tax cuts that it is most crucial to reform. And the time to do is now when Boomer Ben is most committed to maintaining the Dow and the bond market. Obama has a nuclear option here. It is too suggest that, if the Reps will not go along with sunsetting the Bush tax cuts, the White House will cooperate with Ron Paul in investigating the FED.

      There is a deeper problem afflicting the Dems on tax policy. With the collapse of communism it is not clear really what taxes are for. With the Reds around and in tune with the forces of history, limited government seemed an irrational idea, a mental tick, and it was always clear what taxes were for. MORE GOVERNMENT. Now Dems really have to think about what taxes should accomplish and what harm they should avoid. The Reps largely hold the high ground on what harm tax policy should avoid. By focusing the debate on eliminating the payroll tax, Dems could reclaim that ground while they are trying to figure out what taxes should be for.

  7. Jim Haygood

    ‘The NYT similarly has no serious headcount guesstimate either [about the Jon Stewart rally].’

    Truly an heroic understatement. Look at the deceptive headline on the article — quote: At Rally, Thousands — Billions? — Respond.

    In an earlier version last night, not until the penultimate paragraph was the headline explained: ‘The National Park Service did not offer a crowd estimate. But in an e-mail, one Comedy Central executive joked that the size of the crowd was “30 or 40 million.” And before the event, Mr. Colbert offered his own guess in a Twitter message: “Early estimate of crowd size at rally: 6 billion.” ‘

    Even this explanation requires the reader to know that the earth’s population is 7 billion, so Mr. Colbert obviously was making a joke. Most folks will get this; some (including those who didn’t read the body of the article) will be left with the false impression of a monster-sized rally.

    This morning, a telling correction has been appended to the article: ‘An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the geographical reach of the rally. It stretched several long blocks west of the Capitol, not almost to the Washington Monument.’

    What a manipulative joke! New York’s fishwrapper is the silliest daily on the planet. You can find more serious journalism in most campus newspapers.

  8. don

    Just a note to validate Ina’s crowd estimate. We arrived at 3rd and Constitution at noon and had to take Pennsylvania back to 7th, and even then we couldn’t cross the mall on 7th. It’s interesting to see how the MSM *didn’t* cover the march. Most local TV news at 11 made it a footnote to today’s Marine Corps Marathon. Washpo put the crowd at “tens of thousands”. At least later editions of the NYT cited an *unofficial* National Park Service estimate of 200,000, but I’ll bet that was only “people on the mall.” At least 50,000, my party included, couldn’t even get on the mall.

    Thanks for the link to the Guardian’s story. But inside the beltway, the official story is that there was no march.

  9. john

    Appropriate for Halloween:

    [Pennsylvania] Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that a consumer protection lawsuit has been filed against an Erie debt collection company accused of using deceptive tactics to mislead, confuse or coerce consumers – including the use of bogus “hearings” allegedly held in a company office that was decorated to look like a courtroom.

  10. Alex

    Wow, that conversation with Rattner was quite the Halloween piranha-fest. Saith Rattner:


    Seems like things got a little too close to home for him, there…

  11. EmilianoZ

    Re: Stewart & Colbert rally

    250,000 seems a pretty good estimate to me. My own ballpark figure after going there was between 200,000 and 300,000. The whole space between 3rd and 7th was completely packed. They could’ve had a lot more people but they didn’t install any screens beyond 7th. If you arrived late (like me) and you couldn’t get past 7th, there was nothing to watch, nothing to do. A lot of people arrived, stayed 10 mn and just left disappointed.

    The most striking thing to me was that the crowd was almost as white as the Tea party’s (but a lot younger). DC is predominantly black. Probably more than half the crowd was local (DC, Northern VA, Maryland). The black population didn’t show up just like the white DC bourgeois didn’t show up at the One Nation rally on the 2nd of October. Yves didn’t even mention that one. It was mainly organized by unions and the crowd there was 50% black.

    So, we had 3 rallies, all by middle and lower classes all dissatisfied with the present situation. There is absolutely no sense of unity among us. We might as well live on different planets. The rich can sleep in peace. We will keep on bickering among us while they continue to loot the Treasury.

    1. jest

      I noticed the same thing. The One Nation rally had significant NAACP support, which explains the black turnout difference.

      But yes, Stewart’s audience was lily white. I’ve never seen so many iphones in my life either. sheesh. The cynic in me believes a lot of people showed up because it was the trendy, cool thing to do, as opposed to going in order to stand up for something.

      1. EmilianoZ

        I’m afraid that’s not the cynic in you but the intelligent person. When I was at the One Nation rally, I felt at home. Those were people I could understand. They were fighting for their jobs. I stayed there a few hours photographing the signs, especially those of Veterans For Peace. Every second I was at the Stewart rally I was reminded of Chris Hedges’ rant about how vacuous the liberal class had become. Those were people who had come to what they thought was some trendy shindig. Many were only interested in showing off their Halloween costumes or the signs that they had spent weeks racking their brains about. They probably brought down the network iphoning their friends about how cool it was to be there. I didn’t take any pictures, they seemed too eager to pose. I regret every second I spent there. Nothing good will come from that celebrity worshipping cattle.

  12. Glen

    With regard to the Mr Rattner’s comment about wanting show trials for Wall St CEOs in the FDL book salon post, let’s be clear:

    Both corporate governance and government regulation have failed. America needs both to work to have a healthy economy. We want a RETURN to the rule of law, not show trials. Trillions of dollars have disappeared and trillions of taxpayer dollars have been spent or pledged bailing out broke companies – this REQUIRES investigations, audits, and if appropriate, prosecution. Plus, any CEO that gets bonuses while his company flounders needs to be booted from that position – he has failed his employees and shareholders, and the board should remove them. None of this is asking for Salem witch hunts, it’s asking for a return to the normal procedures that made this a great country where winners prospered and losers lost instead of this fraud where we have corporate losers forcing the middle class to pay for their massive failures, fraud, and corruption.

    1. Patricia

      I agree. Rattner’s phrasing of “show trials” and “Salem witch hunts” merely reveals his bias, that he won’t face the simple clear fact that laws have been broken. We are looking for traditional legitimate prosecution for real crimes that have been committed.

  13. Hugh

    Re Firedoglake being a tough crowd, that is less true now than it used to be. There had been splits between commenters and posters there in the past, but at the time of the healthcare debate this became a chasm. Essentially all of the posters backed the public option. It was the unofficial official position of the site, but a sizeable chunk of the commentariat supported single payer throughout and warned that the public option was a political trick. Events proved the single payer proponents, of which I was one, right on the issues. That rift never really healed because Jane Hamsher and the posters continue to have a lot of animus toward single payer advocates, despite or more likely because, they were right.

    This split continues with fdl posters backing selected Democrats and as a consequence the Democratic party while commenters have urged that the site’s prestige and resources would be better used opposing the Democrats and in alternate party organizing.

    This gets around to the linked to book salon with Rattner. Yes, they did give Rattner a well deserved hard time, but you have to understand the site politics behind this. The salon presenter was one of the major posters and almost all of those critical of Rattner were also posters. So this represented a sort of consensus among them. It had very little to do with actual commenters. And that’s the thing, in the past the commenters used to be ahead of the posters on the curve, and that was seen as a good thing. Now it is taken to be unwelcome dissent. It is a prime reason why I no longer participate at the site.

      1. Hugh

        They would have been at least as hard if they could. But that’s not my point. This was a top-down affair that might not have been tolerated if it had originated with their commenters. The problem is that the management is no longer really listening to its community. I guess you could call it a Democratic disease or Obama-itis.

    1. jest

      Hmm, so basically you’re saying it’s turning into dkos?

      I always thought fdl was more open to dissenting views, at least more so than the orange satan, but I’m new to both sites, so I can’t say.

      1. Hugh

        It is a question of degrees. dkos is more openly, even rabidly, Democratic in its orientation. Fdl selectively supports and criticizes Democrats, but when push comes to shove, as with this election, its predilection for Democrats becomes more apparent. As for dissent, it depends on what you mean. Fdl is actually fairly opaque in the way it is run. You don’t see much criticism or discussion on this though because the site censors it.

  14. tyaresun

    On poverty in India:

    Income disparity has been growing in India for 25 years. The nutrition intake of the poorest sections has in fact been going down during this time. All the things that the West focuses on like call centers, Tata Nano, etc effects a very small percentage of the population.

    Yves, thanks for posting this on the eve of Obama’s visit to India. I can only hope that he keeps this in mind as he visits the country.

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