Links 1/13/11

Floodwater threatens overwhelming damage to Great Barrier Reef Independent (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin). Truly depressing.

Her Candidacy Is Over — Palin’s “Brainwashing” and “Joe Welch” Moment Mark Green, Huffington Post

Horrific Arizona Massacre Is A Sign of Tragedies to Come David DeGraw (hat tip reader Mary S)

AZ immigrant rights activist not surprised by Giffords shooting Raw Story

Hindu holy man reveals truth of terror attacks blamed on Muslims Independent (hat tip reader May S)

China’s lending quota? MIchael Pettis

Geithner Urges New Start for U.S.-China Relations New York Times. “Let’s bury the hatchet” is just a new variant on the usual Obama formula of setting its targets low and giving up on meeting them without a fight. But that’s because there was never any intent to fight from the get-go.

France and Germany veto increase in EU rescue fund Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Involuntary Commitment and the Prison Population Mike Konczal

Fed Beige Book Supports Cautious Optimism Ed Harrison

Steven Pearlstein Needs an Economics Lesson Dean Baker

World moves closer to food price shock Financial Times

The CDS-bond spreads debate through the lens of the regulator Carlos Tavares, VoxEU

Mark Steel: We owe it to bankers to feel their pain Independent (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

The Rise of the New Global Elite Atlantic (hat tip reader May S)

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-13 at 4.50.25 AM

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  1. Punch My Ticket

    The Great Barrier Reef story is fact free hysteria. Every one of these rivers has flooded repeatedly and catastrophically in recorded history, which in Oz isn’t all that long. The Reef has survived them all.

    I like reading this blog. I get real information out of many of the daily links. However I am beyond dismayed that every eco disaster du jour gets linked without vetting or a moment’s critical thought.

  2. Skippy

    Tired, wet and more to come but, worth it.

    @ above, go check the last time that this weather pattern occured (try late 1800s) now factor in incresses in human activitys and the chemical background now present (mining / ag) etc etc. Oh don’t forget rising sea temps.

    Skippy…Hysteria indeed, fact free indeed[!] methinks your correct on the vetting for sure, only which way to point that gun is the only question…eh

    PS. to blind tired to do a proper job but go look around the tubes, its all there.

    PSS. Face plant in 1…2…3…………………

    1. aletheia33

      @ wet skippy

      you must be working hard and long. glad to hear it’s rewarding. keep us posted when you can. take care of yourself, along with everyone else you’re helping out. good work! and good for you to dry out and rest up.

      best wishes.

  3. attempter

    Here’s another Abigail Field piece:

    This one’s about a Brooklyn judge who’s thrown out over a dozen foreclosure cases “with prejudice”. (Although I admit I don’t quite get the paragraph about what “with prejudice” means; here it reads like less than what I thought it was – throwing the case out permanently.)

  4. Ignim Brites

    “Her Candidacy Is Over …” claims Mark Green. Readers of this blog may want to go over to Instapundit for perspective on the unfortunate battle over the meaning of the event in Arizona.

  5. dearieme

    “the meaning of the event in Arizona”: such events have no meaning – unless you favour the interpretation that God can be a nasty bastard sometimes.

  6. me

    One thing that is a bit sad is that a telethon was run to raise money for the victims and they raised 11+ million dollars. That part was good but the sad part is that the generosity of all those people put together is more than 5 million dollars less than the annual pay of the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank. It makes you realize just how overpaid they are.

  7. Ron

    Not a fan of the Tea Party but was hopeful that it could be the start of a trend towards the end of the two party system.
    Its pretty clear now that they are on the defense as the Republican party machine gets into full screw these guys gear with the media assist. The political class knows how to use these violent events to further their political hold over the country and scare the shit out of the elderly. Palin was always a dead politician walking but maybe the Tea Party can somehow become a lever again forcing the political class to take notice, maybe!

  8. Cynthia

    Here’s my response to the article entitled “Hindu holy man reveals truth of terror attacks blamed on Muslims”…

    First after the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine back in 1948, it became the Jews against the Muslims. Then after the 9/11 attacks on the US, it became the Jews and the Christians against the Muslims. Now after the 2007 bombing on the Samjhauta Express, it’s shaping up to look like the Jews, the Christians and Hindus against the Muslims. The Muslims need to align themselves with some sort of religious group before all that’s left for them to align themselves with are atheists. And since atheists make pretty lousy fighting machines, Muslims don’t have much of a chance at defeating a military alliance between Jews, Christians and Hindus.

    Here is some evidence that Israeli Jews are trying to negotiate several major arms deals with Hindus in India. And if I were from India, and especially if I were also Hindu, I’d be pretty hopping mad with Israel for portraying itself as a strong and powerful man, while portraying India as a weak and helpless woman!

  9. paper mac

    Jesus Christ, that “Rise of the New Global Elite” article was fucking awful. The cherry-picked anecdotes of blue-collar, self made executives used to suggest that entry into the ranks of the ultra-rich is somehow “meritocratic”, despite extensive evidence showing that the relationship between heriditary wealth, education, and socioeconomic status is strengthening; the suggestion that these elites somehow “produce wealth”, despite the clear evidence than in fact most of them do little but extract it; the absolutely laughable assertion that attending elite wank-fests like TED talks or Davos conferences somehow constitutes engagement with serious ideas; the absurdity of claiming that the handful of billionaires with significant philanthropic contributions to their pet causes shows us that the ultra-rich are legitimately attempting to better the condition of their inferiors- I’m amazed this trash got past any editor, anywhere.

    Freeland is clearly far too close to her subjects. She spends most of her 7 pages fellating a handful of executives she had access to (include a puke-worthy passage suggesting that Lloyd Blankfein is, after all, just a regular, salt-of-the-earth boy). The Atlantic has been an awful rag for some time now, and I was largely resolved not to read it again after Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent article on Iran in which he interviewed a total of zero (0) Iranians, but this really seals the deal.

    It’s nonetheless worth pointing out a few bits that provide some insight into the psychopathology of the subjects and the author. One that struck me was this:

    “The clincher, Peterson says, came from the wife: “She turns to me and she goes, ‘You know, the thing about 20’”—by this, she meant $20 million a year—“‘is 20 is only 10 after taxes.’ And everyone at the table is nodding.””

    In what way is this person not mentally ill? In what world is this not simple addiction to money? Who in god’s name needs 20, or even 10 million dollars a year? If we lived in a sane society, this person would be the object of pity and ridicule- someone so completely given over to their wealth addiction that they will literally never have enough. It is people like this who will kill us.

    The last paragraph, in attempting to put a bit of a liberal figleaf over the preceding 7 pages of unabashed money-worship, reveals the author’s ultimate bias:

    “The lesson of history is that, in the long run, super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth. It is obvious which of these would be the better outcome for America, and the world. Let us hope the plutocrats aren’t already too isolated to recognize this. Because, in the end, there can never be a place like Galt’s Gulch.”

    This is the “lesson of history”? That kleptocrats must throw us a few crumbs or ruthlessly suppress us to survive? Freeland has spent so much time with her odious subjects that she’s literally incapable of envisioning a world without them. Baffling.

    1. Ian

      paper mac- my thoughts exactly. An additional point which is seldom made in the mainstream media is that when another one of these people announce that they are giving their wealth to charity, they inevitably start a charitable trust in their name, and under IRS rules, must donate 5% of the trust’s assets to charity. Of course, it the trust’s assets (their donated wealth) are appreciating at a conservative 9-10% annually, and they control the trust and it’s assets, then they are becoming yet wealthier every year AFTER they “give their wealth to charity”. Which doesn’t bother me, it is that this is not what we, the public,have been led to believe.

      1. Dikaios Logos

        It’s technically a bit worse than what you wrote. Private foundations have to use 5% of a three-year moving average of the fair market value of their assets to fund activities with tax-exempt purpose. Shockingly, this can include some of the administrative expenses of the foundation. Some foundations actually pay their CEOs more than they give to public charities!

    2. Dikaios Logos

      I agree with almost everything you wrote. I fact, I am surprised there hasn’t been more commenter interest on this piece. Given the general tone of posts and, more importantly, commenters on this blog I expected to find a whole bunch of folks raising holy hell over this piece.

      I’d seen the cover of “The Atlantic” touting this article a handful of times in the past week. Each time I saw it, I assumed it would be an insufferable piece of garbage. I agree with Yves assertion that the FT weakened when it became more global and I also though that Chrystia Freeland, as a Canadian and a woman, served the purpose of making it easier for the FT to move in that direction (neither of those facts are deterministic, btw, I just mean she served the purpose of deflecting criticism of the editorial drift into silliness). The fact that she always fawns over her subjects makes me want to throttle her.

      And don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of The Atlantic!

      Freeland is too star-struck to see how banal and timeless her narratives are. Nothing in the story, except the proper names and the amounts of money discussed, is new. In fact, just a few anecdotes puncture the idea that there is much new:
      -a top hedge fund billionaire gives much of his money to, get this, put French Impressionist art in museums. How visionary!
      -that hedge fund billionaire worries about who his kids play with, as if people in the old days didn’t fret over who was and wasn’t on The Social Register
      -a top Russian billionaire’s foundation trustees’ are from the old Soviet institute system. Wow, what innovative thinking!
      -bank executives who end up troubled children, because they just care about money, not about their own progeny. That is highly original, the Getty children (and many more like them) never ODed and/or lost their way in life
      -the idea that privileged people everywhere are more alike than their poor neighbors goes back to…the idea of aristocracy?!?!?!
      -Even the global educated elite, in certain circles, have been talking about this ‘convergence’ among their circle for decades. Maybe Chrystia was still stuck in the wilds of Alberta then?
      -and the idea that rich people can ‘buy’ their way into serious intellectual life (with… Richard Holbrooke? good lord!) is about as tired as things get. Does she really think money buys the best brains? Can’t she see the desperation and foolishness in this charade?
      -the old businessman’s refrain, “it is ok to do what we are doing because we are making life better for so many poor people” is so insufferable. And I’ve heard the whole first world/third world labor arbitrage argument for more than three decades.
      Chrystia, dear, this shit ain’t new!

      What Freeland should have done is talk about all of this is likely to be proven a house of cards. Regimes always fall and fortunes always change. Speculating on HOW those fortunes might come apart is potentially a great read, but Chrystia Freeland is much too interested in kissing heiny to ever write that piece!

      1. paper mac

        I wasn’t previously familiar with Freeland (not having a FT subscription, and my institutional one doesn’t give me access to the commentary pages), but if this is her usual style, it doesn’t reflect well on the FT.

        Your comment made me think of a book Zygmunt Bauman wrote, “Community”, in which he describes the withdrawal from the labour force of the capital class, who were replaced in their supervisory functions by the managerial class. He then describes the subsequent (at the time, ongoing) withdrawal of the managerial class in favour of self-supervision by employees (ie, a work ethic in which internal competition with others of the same labour group in order to move up the ladder exceeds any solidarity with fellow workers or any natural impulse to avoid meaningless work). In some ways, Freeland’s article is a paean to the approaching completion of that process, which Bauman described a decade ago. The upper-caste managerial class is now almost fully withdrawn into its own rootless reality.

        1. Dikaios Logos

          Yeah, she’s bugged me for a while. She used to do a video segment at called “View from the Top” where senior figures in government, business, and finance would join her and let her do her best to make Charlie Rose look like an intense investigative journalist.

          For contrast certain “View from the Top” segments have been done by Gillian Tett, who Yves links to regularly and has written some great articles and a great book on the most noxious parts of the banking industry. She did anthropological field work in Tajikistan and speaks Tajik. I’ve been to the Tajik parts of most of the neighboring countries and trust me: what she did was very, very brave, especially at a time when no one gave a rat’s ass about that part of the world. And Tett talks about how bankers are appalling and how her time studying one of the world’s poorest societies made her better positioned to understand bankers. Night and day with Freeland.

  10. Ina Deaver

    That DeGraw piece was spot on. As I’ve said before, a certain percentage of the population is crazy, and it is important not to feed them violent ideas. It validates their crazy, and makes them more dangerous. But the more serious problem is to overhaul the mental health system in this country. How we treat mental illness is barbaric, and even less reasonable and fair than the way we treat physical illness. As Mr. DeGraw points out, that is just symptomatic of the underlying cancer, really.

    Thoughtful stuff.

  11. anthony innes

    Paper mac and me says;
    these two commentators are on the money.the isolation of the “leaders” has become a blackswan event on its own.
    the pathology of money is a planetary termiting of the ecosphere.the political class has become irrelevant and we are over the event horizon and way past tipping points for orderly transition.
    Thomas Jefferson was right about a lot but kept slaves and died in debt.Your average role model……flawed idealogue who knew the banks and their fiat currency link to debt were the bar to human progress.

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