Links 1/12/11

Flood fears worsen for Brisbane BBC

MySpace slashes its staff in half CNN. Remember what a big deal it was when MySpace was acquired by Murdoch?

What U.S. “justice” signifies around the world Glenn Greenwald

Arizona is on the brink Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

The Guardian’s Political Censorship of Wikileaks CounterPunch

William Hartung, Lockheed Martin’s Shadow Government TomDispatch

China’s Over-hyped Stealth Jet The Diplomat (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

“Don’t Believe What’s Said About the Debt Ceiling” Mark Thoma

Foreigners Shun Europe’s Bonds, and Debt Piles Up New York Times. This article misses something awfully basic: the domestic banks then get loans from the ECB. So the ECB is effectively buying the debt.

The ‘New Normal’ Is Actually Pretty Old Economix

Goldman Bankers, Ascendant Again Wall Street Journal

Money Market Funds: the End Alea

New Move to Make Yuan Global Currency Wall Street Journal versus Hunting Elephants With Pea Shooters; China Allows Yuan Denominated Accounts in US Banks Michael Shedlock

China Demand The US Make Statement Promising Its Dollar Assets Will Be Held Safe Clusterstock

East and west converge on a problem Financial Times

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-12 at 5.43.14 AM

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52 comments

  1. Hambone

    According to the Counterpunch piece, the Guardian committed “political censorship” by choosing not to print various allegations regarding corruption in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Supposedly this was done in order to protect the various entities named within, and to protect their readers from the awful truth about western capitalism. But unless the Guardian can prove these allegations, isn’t the more obvious explanation that the editors are just doing what is necessary to avoid libel suits from the alleged wrongdoers? You can argue about whether the UK’s libel laws are themselves a form of censorship, but this really doesn’t look like a political decision on the newspaper’s part.

  2. DownSouth

    From “The ‘New Normal’ Is Actually Pretty Old Economix”:

    This obsession with a “new normal” lends some momentum for the current catastrophe or craze, but nonetheless subsides as things eventually return to their long-run trend.

    If we define “long-run trend” as being the last 200 years, then this statement might seem plausible.

    In this lecture, however, Gregory Clark provides a graph of economic output going back thousands of years (at minute 00:42). What the graph shows is that economic output was flat for many thousands of years, only to shoot up spectacularly in the last 200 years.

    Clark, who chairs the Department of Economics at the University of California, Davis, attributes this rapid growth in productivity over the past 200 years to the advent of capitalism, which I suppose was given its official imprimatur when Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations in 1776.

    Something most economists miss, however, is that the beginning of this sudden upshot in economic activity coincided with the beginning of the age of hydrocarbons, as is pointed out here:

    Coal was so abundant in Britain that the supply could be stepped up to meet the rapidly rising demand. About 1770-1780 the annual output of coal was some 6¼ million long tons (or about the output of a week and a half in the 20th century). After 1790 output soared, reaching 16 million long tons by 1815 at the height of the Napoleonic War.

    In the first half of the 20th century, petroleum would surpass coal as the most important source of hydrocarbon power.

    If hydrocarbons were the real driver of the growth in economic activity over the past 200 years, and not orthodox economic theory as Clarke asserts, then how long can the growth trend of the last 200 years be maintained? After all, the world’s supply of hydrocarbons is far from being infinite.

    1. Ming

      Very nice observation Downsouth! I would like to generalize your observation a little further… There numerous pioneers of science and engineerng during this time. In the 1750 and onward was age of the great scientist/inventor/engineers, James watt who gave us the steam engine, from men leveraged the technology to become much more productive in terms of work output and transportation( railway); Alexandro Volta and Nikolo Tesla ( both from the 1750 era) who made monumental discoveries in electricity and electrical motors; there is also the unsung hero’s who developed the and applied ball bearing technology and lubrication technology, which All technologies that require moving parts would is deeply indebted to. This was also the period of the ‘romantic age’ of philosophy( and there are many important people here, too many mention), where much of our thoughts concerning the liberty of the individual from which concepts of human rights flow, also from which some of our thoughts concerning capitalism And econonomic liberty. Capitalism, would be but a shadow of itself, if it were not for these aforementioned men and their discoveries and philosophies.

      It is sad to see that the economists, who admire and study capitalist industry, have forgotten the history and roots of industry.

      1. reslez

        People are clever in all eras. They build on the work of those who precede them, and they are limited by the tools and resources of their time. To posit the advances of the 18th/19th centuries as explainable only by the sudden appearance of geniuses is no explanation at all.

        Perhaps the decline of Christianity and the rise of rationalism made it easier for scientific principles of invention to spread, which enabled people to recognize the benefits of fossil fuels.

    2. Ron

      Good point but a reminder that the worlds forests were under severe attack before coal/oil became the new heat source. Humans with simple ax and saws were able to clear large areas of forest. Here in Sonoma during the early 1830’s every large tree in the county was cut down and in Santa Cruz county all the native redwoods were logged with simple ax’s and saw. European forest areas such as the Black Forest were almost wiped out. Humans are very destructive animals even with crude technology.

  3. Ignim Brites

    Among the factors contributing to the “climate of extremism” might be the Lear like failure of the Federal government to accept the responsibilities of sovereignty.

        1. Jim the Skeptic

          The electorate is not angry about LEGAL immigration. And your biases are showing!

          The electorate is very angry about ILLEGAL immigration.

  4. eric anderson

    “This article misses something awfully basic: the domestic banks then get loans from the ECB. So the ECB is effectively buying the debt. ”

    What do they call it in Europe? Do they call it QE?

  5. Jim the Skeptic

    Arizona is on the brink article: “My experience began in early 2003 at a propane delivery shop in Sierra Vista, a rural town along the US-Mexican border. I met Roger Barnett, a lumbering 60-year-old former deputy sheriff popular with the burgeoning national anti-immigration movement. Barnett boasted that he had personally captured 12,000 migrants traversing his ranch, held them at the point of a rifle, and turned them over to the border patrol. …”
    “… A bizarre federal programme, Operation Streamline, helps to pump federal money into the local economy: desperate migrants serve as commodities; 75 of them are marched in chains into a federal courtroom in Tucson each day, compelled to plead guilty en masse to entering the country, then transported to a corporate-owned prison in rural Pinal County before being deported on private charter flights. Several prisoners have died in the jail, including one who was apparently refused treatment while writhing in pain with testicular cancer. But incarcerating Mexican migrants has brought 1,500 new jobs to the previously depressed area, making it one of Money Magazine’s top employment growth sites. (The programme costs American taxpayers $11m a month.)”

    This propagandist, working for the Guardian, does not contest Roger Barnett’s 12,000 number in any way. He refers to immigrants throughout the piece. Never does the word illegal anywhere in the piece. His bias is prominently displayed.

    What he has done is document that Arizona has a large illegal immigrant problem. Obviously the federal government is neglecting it’s duty. In 1986 the federal government granted amnesty to about 3 million ILLEGAL immigrants, they promised to police the border, and severely punish businesses hiring illegal immigrants in the future. By about 2005, there were about 15 million ILLEGAL immigrants in the country.

    THIS IS WHAT DRIVES A LOT OF THE ELECTORATES’ ANGER TODAY. Elected officials make promises, pass laws, and then the government proceeds to FEEBLY enforce those laws. Or worse they don’t even bother to pass any meaningful law dealing with the problem.

    When this happens repeatedly, the electorate loses faith in the system. They resort to screaming at their elected politicians. THE ELECTORATE HAS LEGITIMATE COMPLAINTS. Specifically, illegal immigration and the bailouts of the financial industry are festering wounds.

    We have too many politicians making promises, getting elected, and then voting their conscience. THEY WERE NOT ELECTED TO VOTE THEIR CONSCIENCE. If they are not prepared to vote the will of their constituents then they should not run for office.

    1. Peter T

      Jim the Skeptic:
      “We have too many politicians making promises, getting elected, and then voting their conscience. THEY WERE NOT ELECTED TO VOTE THEIR CONSCIENCE.”

      Voting their conscience is representative democracy, as prescribed in the constitution. If you want more direct democracy, work for changing the constitution.

      1. alex

        “voting their conscience is representative democracy, as prescribed in the constitution”

        No part of the Constitution specifies that elected officials should “vote their conscience”. Nor is the idea that they should intrinsic to the notion of representative government. In the earliest days of the Republic it was quite common for legislators to be expected to take their marching orders from the voters. Of course that was the revolutionary generation, before those uppity voters learned obedience and acquiescence.

        1. Hambone

          The constitution doesn’t say one way or the other how elected officials should vote, which is a good thing. If the voters are dissatisfied with their representative’s performance, they can elect someone else the next time around, and they often do. This is usually sufficient motivation for politicians to pay attention to them, since they really hate not getting elected.

          Also, you’re not seriously accusing politicians of having too MUCH conscience, are you? I am pretty sure you’re wrong about this…

          1. reslez

            If the voters are dissatisfied with their representative’s performance, they can elect someone else the next time around

            In that case Americans must be extremely satisfied with their representatives. They reelect 85-95% every election.

            Odd that voter approval of Congress hit 13% two weeks ago. By your logic the the only explanation is that Americans love their own representative but hate all the others.

        2. Jim the Skeptic

          alex said: ” In the earliest days of the Republic it was quite common for legislators to be expected to take their marching orders from the voters. Of course that was the revolutionary generation, before those uppity voters learned obedience and acquiescence.”

          Very well said. Thank you.

      2. Externality

        Here in California, we have direct democracy, to no avail.

        Politicians either ignore or defy ballot measures, requiring endless litigation to enforce compliance (Prop. 209, 215), or they refuse to defend it in the face of lawsuits and allow it to be overturned by the courts. (Prop. 187, Prop. 8) Even though I was very pleased to see the end of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, it was troubling to watch the governor and AG contemptuously ignore the will of the voters.

        Historically, the political classes have closed ranks against direct democracy, even when it would benefit their position.

        During the 1930s, 73% of the American people supported amending the Constitution with the Ludlow Amendment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Amendment The Amendment would have allowed the American people to vote on whether or not to support a decision by Congress to declare war. If the American people voted not to support the declaration of war, Congress and the President would not be allowed to go to war with the country in question. If people supported it, the Amendment also had language limiting defense contractor profits. (The people could not declare war, only endorse (or not) a Congressional decision to do so.) Not only was it opposed by FDR and left-internationalists such as Walter Lippmann, but by “isolationists” such as Arthur Vandenberg who felt that it undermined their authority and ability to threaten or start wars. In the end, FDR was able to block its passage in the House. http://blogs.cfr.org/lindsay/2011/01/10/twe-remembers-the-ludlow-amendment/

        During the Viet Nam war, an attempt to require a public referendum on the war failed to pass the Congress. http://www.initiativesamendment.org/ludlow-1938.htm
        A decision on whether to go to war was apparently too important to be left to the people who would be taxed to fund it and conscripted to fight and die in it.

      3. Externality

        Here in California, we have direct democracy, to no avail.

        Politicians either ignore or defy ballot measures, requiring endless litigation to enforce compliance (Prop. 209, 215), or they refuse to defend it in the face of lawsuits and allow it to be overturned by the courts. (Prop. 187, Prop. 8) Even though I was very pleased to see the end of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, it was troubling to watch the governor and AG contemptuously ignore the will of the voters.

        Historically, the political classes have closed ranks against direct democracy, even when it would benefit their positions.

        During the 1930s, 73% of the American people supported amending the Constitution with the Ludlow Amendment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Amendment The Amendment would have allowed the American people to vote on whether or not to support a decision by Congress to declare war. (The people could not declare war, only endorse (or not) a Congressional decision to do so.) If the American people voted not to support the declaration of war, Congress and the President would not be allowed to go to war with the country in question. If people supported it, the Amendment also had language limiting defense contractor profits. Not only was it opposed by FDR and left-internationalists such as Walter Lippmann, but by “isolationists” such as Arthur Vandenberg who felt that it undermined their authority and ability to threaten or start wars. In the end, FDR was able to block its passage in the House and the Senate never voted on it. http://blogs.cfr.org/lindsay/2011/01/10/twe-remembers-the-ludlow-amendment/

        During the Viet Nam war, an attempt to require a public referendum on the war failed to pass the Congress. http://www.initiativesamendment.org/ludlow-1938.htm
        A decision on whether to go to war was apparently too important to be left to the people who would be taxed to fund it and conscripted to fight and die in it.

      4. Jim the Skeptic

        Peter T says: “Voting their conscience is representative democracy, as prescribed in the constitution. If you want more direct democracy, work for changing the constitution.”

        I do not wish for government by referendum, although that would be much better then the current practices. I want elected representatives who do more than pay lip service to representative democracy. I want them to gather information from their constituents and be guided by that feedback.

        I want an elected representative who regards angry citizens as an indictment of him and his colleagues, not an excuse to hire additional security!

        To repeat “THE ELECTORATE HAS LEGITIMATE COMPLAINTS.

        GOING FROM 3 MILLION ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO 15 MILLION ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!

        There is no reasonable excuse for this happening! THIS GOVERNMENT FAILED TO LIVE UP TO THE PROMISES MADE IN 1986.

        But the problem goes beyond illegal immigration and the bailouts of the financial industries. If they refuse to deal with the anger then heaven help us all.

      5. Paul Repstock

        I suspect Jim ment voting their pocketbooks and biases.

        There is nothing wrong with voting your concience when in office if you were honest with the electorate during you campaign. The self serving about-faces more common in politics have nothing to do with concience or integrity.

        1. Jim the Skeptic

          Paul Repstock said: “I suspect Jim ment voting their pocketbooks and biases.”

          Yes. I wanted to express some sarcasm and so grabbed one of the politicians favorite excuses for ignoring the wishes of the electorate.

          I guess I should have inserted a “(Sarcasm here)” note. :^)

          Thanks

    2. PQS

      “Elected officials make promises, pass laws, and then the government proceeds to FEEBLY enforce those laws. Or worse they don’t even bother to pass any meaningful law dealing with the problem.”

      I think the issue in many cases is that the officials don’t have the nerve to point out that they cannot simply “make laws” to fix problems. Fixing problems often costs money. Where will that come from? Raising taxes? Cutting spending in other areas? In many cases (Arizona in particular, with its heavily retired population very sensitive to both tax increases and spending cuts….), neither option is politically viable. Everyone (particularly on the Right, but this is an equal-opportunity disease) wants to cut programs they don’t like, but raise taxes? HA. NOBODY wants to do THAT. Part of this is political, given that we’ve heard thirty years of RW propaganda about TAXES, and the other part is simple childishness: Americans want a modern society with lots of goodies at 1950s prices. Isn’t. Going. To. Happen.

      Just once, I’d like to hear a politician say, “You know what? Your taxes are going to go up. Just like the price of milk, the power bill, the cable bill, and YOUR WAGES.”

      (The problem, of course, is that the last item hasn’t gone up appreciably in a very long time for a lot of folks.)

      1. Jim the Skeptic

        PQS says: “I think the issue in many cases is that the officials don’t have the nerve to point out that they cannot simply “make laws” to fix problems. Fixing problems often costs money.”

        I’m sorry that won’t hold water.

        They could have held hearings and taken the the executive branch to task for not enforcing the law. They could have increased penalties for hiring illegal immigrants and mandated that the penalties be used for enforcement of the law.

        When they were asked for $800Billion to bail out the financial system, they could have just said “NO”. Or better yet, they could have refused to deregulate the financial industries about the year 2000. Brooksley Born tried to warn the Congress of the danger that Credit Default Swaps represented. They could have refused to repeal Glass Steagall, and specifically outlawed any exceptions to it. In 2004 they could have passed a law ordering the SEC to return the investment bankers’ debt-to-net-capital ratios back to 12 where it had been for decades. Instead it was allowed to soar to 30 or 40. They could have taxed every transaction to fund more regulation. No, the trend was in the other direction. THE ELECTORATE HAS GOOD REASON TO BE ANGRY ABOUT THE DEREGULATION AND THEN THE BAILOUTS.

        This was not about additional income taxes on the average citizen. THEY VOTED THEIR CONSCIENCE.

        1. PQS

          “They could have increased penalties for hiring illegal immigrants and mandated that the penalties be used for enforcement of the law.”

          Yes – and I actually wrote that originally in my post before I deleted it. Why does enforcement always seem to be pointed at the smallest players, in this case the workers who are only here to better their lives in most cases.

          But as I indicated, that costs money. Fines for Big Bidness don’t just cost the fines – they cost the politicians in subsidies (aka payoffs) they don’t get. It also costs money to hire people for enforcement. You cannot enforce labor laws in a country this size with 100 inspectors. If we really want to check every company of any size, that will cost money. That was my point. And the fact that taxes always go up very often reflects the realities of the world we live in – costs for everything go up, every year. At least when government wants to raise the price on something they are obligated by law to tell everyone about it. Recently my state wanted to raise tolls on a bridge I drive on, and for no real reason, other than they were being conservative in their estimates and trying to maintain some AAA bond rating. I wrote to the Public Utility Commission and expressed my displeasure, especially for so trifling a reason and during a recession. They PUC decided not to raise the tolls this year.

          And I’m on your team WRT bailouts and the stranglehold of the banksters on not only our economy, but also our nation, our government, and our lives. I find it depressing that the astroturfed outrage in America is designed to protect Big Oil, Big Insurance, and Big Everything.

          1. Jim the Skeptic

            PQS said: “Why does enforcement always seem to be pointed at the smallest players, in this case the workers who are only here to better their lives in most cases.”

            I have a certain amount of sympathy for the illegal immigrants. I spent 40 months in the Republic of Panama when I was in the US Army. I saw tar paper shacks for homes and home sewage released into small streams. I carried around a English to Spanish dictionary and taught myself enough Spanish to have conversations. I went into the interior where I was in a sea of non English speakers. I met decent hard working people.

            But we can not absorb all the poor of the world, there is a limit. Are the illegal immigrants somehow more deserving because they can slip across the border? We have a well established legal immigration system that serves us well.

    3. Paul Repstock

      LOL. I wonder ho many local Arizona companies run recruiting offices in Mexico. Then they set up the suckers with pet “coyotes”, who then deliver them to the right spot to be caught…Nice scam..:)

    4. Francois T

      “Elected officials make promises, pass laws, and then the government proceeds to FEEBLY enforce those laws.”

      In the case of illegal immigration, we all know that employers have always lobbied very hard to escape any form of punishment even if they knew they were hiring illegals by the dock-load (ADM meatpacking plants anyone?)

      But hey! Employers have money, they can and do lobby because the can!

      The real reform to be had in this country is extraordinarily simple: elections public financing ONLY.

      There is even a very powerful and simple narrative that goes with it:

      If you pay the politicians, they shall work for you. If lobbyists pay the politicians, they shall work for them. What do you prefer? It’s your call…bitchez!

      Yet, such simple logic seem to totally escape the average American.

      Sigh!

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Q: What is a Samson bank/bondholder?

    A: One that loses its strength when it gets a hair cut.

    Where is that Philistine woman?

  7. Ron

    “I had the pleasure of attending the American Economics Association’s annual conference this weekend, and over the course of many meetings with various brilliant thinkers one theme persisted: Everyone needs to get over the fear of the “new normal.””

    Professor Laibson isn’t overly concerned about the new normal but if his Harvard pension was suddenly canceled and his weekly salary cut by say three-fourths then his concern might intensify.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Illinois adopts the Irish hair-shirt plan of taxing its way back to growth — dream on, suckers:

    CHICAGO — With only hours left before new state lawmakers were to take over, Illinois’s State Legislature narrowly approved early on Wednesday an increase of about 66 percent in the state’s income tax rate.

    Under the legislation, the income tax rate would, at least temporarily, rise to 5 percent from its current rate of 3 percent. Lawmakers had talked about an even steeper increase, but set that aside as the hours went by and the debate grew increasingly emotional. The rate for corporate taxes would rise to 7 percent from its current rate of 4.8 percent.

    In the House, where until noon on Wednesday Democrats hold 70 seats, the bill passed 60 to 57. In the Senate, which had shown earlier willingness to raise taxes, the measure passed 30 to 29 in a vote that was tallied after 1 a.m. Central time. Gov. Patrick J. Quinn, a Democrat whose signature would be needed to make any rate increase final, has indicated in the past he believes a tax increase is necessary.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/us/13illinois.html?hp

    At this rate, Chicago will become the next Detroit. The commodity exchanges ought to decamp to Vegas.

    1. alex

      “The commodity exchanges ought to decamp to Vegas.”

      Honest casino operators would take great affront at the implied comparison.

    2. Hugh

      That is a flat regressive tax that falls most heavily on the lower end of the income curve. Progressive taxation would and should fall far more on the upper income earners who can afford to pay more. So those who have been freeloading off of the Illinois tax system for years, the rich, will continue to do so. Meanwhile the state has just shot itself in the foot taxing away money from the low end which would have gone for consumption and paid for more taxpaying jobs.

      I realize that state’s are really in a bind but some approaches are stupider than others and this one ranks high on stupid.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I think stealth people are always more dangerous than stealth jets.

    They can come in and out of your home, organization or country without you noticing.

  10. Ming

    On a very important subject, how is Yves today?

    I hope that you are making good progress on your recoverey, and soon be able to eat the food that you may have had to abstain from.

    Regards

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for your concern. I’ve been eating normally all this while (the procedure was before Christmas). Flying and being at altitude in Denver led to lots of pain, and the pain meds were terrible (and even the antibiotics bothered me, a first). But no pain meds for the last two days, so I’m almost back to normal.

        1. Francois T

          Say what? ‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›

          You prefer abnormal Yves? ┌∩┐(☼ ⌂ ☼)┌∩┐

          I’m not sure I agree. ┌∩┐(◣_◢)┌∩┐

          He He!

  11. Hugh

    Like Hambone, I wondered what British libel laws had to do with the Guardian’s reporting of the Wikileaks cables. We have been told that material was being redacted to protect potential targets. But if there are other considerations involved we should be apprised of what they are.

    This brings up the larger point that when all is said and done, the news organizations that have the wikileaks materials are part of the MSM. The Guardian may be better in its reporting than say the NYT whose reporting is better than that of Fox news, but they all share institutional perspectives and allegiances which accept most of the status quo. It is rather like what I often task Krugman with. He will criticize bits and pieces of the Establishment, but he is a member of that Establishment and so will never challenge the Establishment itself or question its legitimacy. Much the same applies to the Guardian’s coverage of the wikileaks.

    1. Swedish Lex

      Or perhaps the Americans would prefer not get Assange as that would create an instant, global, modern, cyber, pop culture martyr (as opposed to shelling anonymous Pakistani bystanders with Hellfire missiles, people of next to no news value)

  12. Swedish Lex

    Regarding Assange possibly being handed over to Swedish authorities (that allegedly would send him straight to Guantanamo to please Obama).

    Interesting to see Sweden being painted as a poor defender of human rights, albeit “only” in a deposition by Assange’s defence team. Could possibly hurt the feelings of a Swede, or two.

    Should Assange be handed to the Swedes and should the Americans the demand him being sent to the U.S. (“we will give him a fair trial and then we will hang him”), it could spark hefty political debate up North. I can only see how the Swedish Government only could lose, in every regard, by handing him over to the waterboarders……..

    1. Hugh

      Sweden has already lost a lot of credibility in the way it has handled the Assange case, making the allegations, then dropping them, then reinstituting them, then issuing an arrest warrant but without making any formal charges, then leaking salacious details from the women’s statements, and still no formal charges. To be blunt, the Swedes have acted like clowns, and worse politically motivated ones. If Assange did something wrong, he should be punished. But if there is no prosecutable case, if the Swedes don’t follow their own procedures, and if their actions keep co-inciding with wikileaks releases, then they not only invite but deserve all the bad press they get.

      1. Swedish Lex

        Yes, sure, the Swedish prosecutors have been performing poorly thus far. And the definition of “rape” in the Swedish penal code these days seems to include behaviour that at least I do not associate with rape (could still be a crime, however not rape).

        I would however not go as far as assuming that the Swedish prosecutors are being manipulated politically. I am sure that the Americans are pulling all the strings they can with the Swedish Government. But going from there to assuming that Swedish Government officials are giving orders to the independent prosecutors’ service is not credible.

        1. Hugh

          And yet there is this clustering of Swedish activity around wikileak releases. I don’t think there would be or need to be anything as gauche and obvious as an order to do something for political reasons. As someone who has observed for several years how these things work in the US, it’s more about putting in place the right wind up doll(s) and letting them go at it. You get the results you want, plus deniability.

  13. Hugh

    Laibson of the new normal is an idiot. Is kleptonomics normal under any analysis? No, but attempts like Laibson’s to normalize it help to keep it going that much longer. I agree with Ron. If Laibson didn’t have a nice sinecure at Harvard and were instead suffering the consequences of his new normal the way tens of millions of American families are, he might not be so glib.

  14. Hugh

    The Lockheed Martin story is less about the military industrial complex and more about the rise of fascism. I know that is a loaded term, but I am referring to the blurring or outright elimination of the line between government and corporations. Some argue for the ascendancy of one of these parties over the other, but the key concept here is that over time such distinctions become meaningless as the two become one and the same.

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