Links 2/10/11

Looking at body can reduce pain BBC

Huffington is right to take the cash John Gapper, Financial Times. Gapper begs to differ with Felix Salmon.

Security Firms Pitching Bank of America on WikiLeaks Response Proposed Targeting Glenn Greenwald Marcy Wheeler. You MUST read this.

Live from Cairo (18) Lambert Strether. Amazing how US coverage has fallen off, or maybe not.

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices Guardian (hat tip Joe Costello)

Why Aren’t You Saving Money? Room for Debate, New York Times. Mike Konczal and Amar Bhide are among the participants.

Discover The Network Out To Crush Our Public Workers Dave Johnson. It’s worth seeing how hard this meme is being pushed

Troops Battling Banks Dylan Ratigan. Has the juiciest clips from the Congressional hearings. See banks accused of homicide.

Morgan Stanley’s Liquidity Pool Economics of Contempt (hat tip Richard Smith). EoC correct the FCIC analysis.

Audit Notes: Toxic Assets, Foreclosure Mills, SEC (Finally) Looking at CDOs Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review

Foreclosure case could have big impact Hernando Today

US delays sale of $20bn AIG stock until May Financial Times

Watchdog says IMF missed crisis risks Financial Times. So why don’t we have any post mortem along the same lines for the Fed and Treasury? (Yes, this is a rhetorical question..)

Antidote du jour (a three toed sloth):

Screen shot 2011-02-10 at 5.57.03 AM

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  1. Ray Duray

    Chomsky fans may like this new interview:

    Noam Chomsky: How Climate Change Became a ‘Liberal Hoax’

    Source: The Nation and On The Earth Productions

    Blurb: “In this sixth video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky talks about the Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute and other business lobbies enthusiastically carrying out campaigns “to try and convince the population that global warming is a liberal hoax.” According to Chomsky, this massive public relations campaign has succeeded in leading a good portion of the population into doubting the human causes of global warming….”

    1. Dirk77

      I think it is a safe bet that whatever the US Chamber of Commerce says, the true, fair or right thing is the exact opposite.

  2. Richard Kline

    Regarding the ‘in’security eejits at HBGary Federal trying to get hired to lob golf balls at Wikileaks and Glenn Greenwald, I fell out of my chair laughing. Got their pants hacked off, and their address book and motel hourly rental schedule run up a flag pole. One reason I prefer radicals to conservatives is that radicals have always had a MUCH better sense of humor, and always will . . . .

    And another thing about ‘security’ firms. A very small number of them employing a _very_ small number of individuals are very good at what they do, and are virtually never heard of, which is signature of such shops. The rest are goon shops for numbskulls who couldn’t get hired to do anything else. This was true since before Pinkerton ever got his notion, and remains true. It’s easy to see which contingent HBGary Federal belongs. And I, too, hope that they stay in business, sucking up the money of equally stupid employers.

    1. cyclist

      Isn’t it the truth? I was just marveling at how I earn more in annual cash kickbacks from puting virtually everything I buy on a Visa card with 1-2% ‘rewards’ (and paying it off every month) than I do from keeping $10k in the best savings account I could find. Funny how a bank can afford to do the first but not the latter.

    2. ScottS

      I had flashbacks to Joseph Heller’s Closing Time (sequel to Catch-22) reading the HBGary Federal story.

      Great book. Especially if you’ve ever done any defense work. Especially the Shhh!

  3. MDBill

    Regarding the NYT “Remove for Debate” feature on why Americans aren’t saving more, how can six “experts” share their views without once mentioning the ludicrously low interest rates currently offered by the banks? Tyler Cowen comes closest when he states that US tax structures don’t encourage saving. At a 1.5% rate (high by today’s savings account standards) it would take 47 years to double one’s money. Why bother? Spend it now; it’ll buy a lot less later.

  4. DownSouth

    Re: “Live from Cairo (18)” Lambert Strether

    Lambert Strether said:

    For now, I prefer to think of Popovic sharing information on tactics and strategy with A6M as a delicious example of blowback — exactly like arming the Afghani mujaheddin with Stingers, and then reaping a religious whirlwind. Here, however, we armed A6M with non-violent tactics, and are reaping a secular whirlwind.

    I am taking the liberty to repost a portion of a comment I made the other day, because I beleive it is pertinent to what Strether is saying here:

    ▬ So why are you so insistent in painting all in black?

    I believe it is because you are an apostle of what Nietzsche called “passive nihilism,” or the credo embraced by “the children of darkness,” as Reinhold Niebuhr put it. The function of these arguments, Stephen Toulmin observes in Cosmopolis, “is to show members of the lower orders that their dreams of democracy are against nature; or conversely to reassure the upper class that they are superior citizens by nature. (emphasis Toulmin’s) The entire rhetorical strategy is designed to elicit a sense of surrender and defeat and induce torpor on the part of the lower orders.

    But such fatalism and defeatism is a distortion of the historical record. As David Sloan Wilson counters this attitude of capitulation in Darwin’s Cathedral: “Confront a human group with a novel problem, even one that never existed in the so-called ancestral environment, and its members may well come up with a workable solution.” As Wilson goes on to explain, the religious, scientific and historical determinists who paint solely in black promote the algorithm that “everything that has taken place since the advent of agriculture counts for nothing.”

    It’s amazing that when Nietzsche’s “superman” or “Dionysus” finally arrived on the scene in the 20th century, he wasn’t the ridiculous cartoon exemplified by this sculpture from Arno Breker, Hitler’s favorite sculptor, nor some equally nonsensical character from an Ayn Rand novel, but a swarthy little man who hailed from India’s petty bourgeoisie. Mahatma Gandhi took a little pinch of the nonviolence inherent in Tolstoy’s Christian pacifism, a large tablespoon of the willingness of Russian revolutionaries to self-sacrifice for a cause, a dash of the action figure attitude embraced by the British soldiers he met and admired, a cup of the sense of civic duty, honor and sacrifice that he believed typified the British character, and three cups of a profound personal spiritual and religious faith, and from these unlikely ingredients synthesized a moral, political and religious doctrine that was totally new, that no one thought would work, but that completely inspired and revolutionized the world.

    Here’s an anecdote told by Jonathan Schell in The Unconquerable World that captures the sort of man it took to achieve this:

    Everyone forms opinions and beliefs, but most act on them only up to a certain point, beyond which fears, desires, doubts, prudence, laziness, and distractions of all kinds take over. Gandhi, as it turned out in South Africa, belonged to the small class of people, many of them religious or political zealots, who are able to act according to their beliefs almost without condition or reservation… On a train from Durban to Pretoria, a white man had him thrown out of the first-class compartment for which he had paid, and when he protested the conductor dumped him onto the station platform. “I should try if possible,” as he later wrote, “to root out the disease [of color prejudice in South Africa] and suffer hardships in the process.” It was a decision, as things turned out, that would guide his actions for the next twenty-one years.

    1. anon2

      DownSouth said: “So why are you so insistent in painting all in black?

      I believe it is because you are an apostle of what Nietzsche called “passive nihilism,” or the credo embraced by “the children of darkness,” as Reinhold Niebuhr put it. The function of these arguments, Stephen Toulmin observes in Cosmopolis, “is to show members of the lower orders that their dreams of democracy are against nature; or conversely to reassure the upper class that they are superior citizens by nature.”

      Excellent post. Thank you for pointing this out, and for reposting, because I think it’s important to understand what is going on here.

      I believe there are a number of commenters on this blog who fall into the category you’ve described above (the most obvious example being the commenter who sometimes posts under the name “Dan Duncan”). I also believe that their entire purpose for posting comments here is an effort to sabotage this entire blog by encouraging fatalism and defeatism. And to encourage the repulsive idea that the “lower orders” should simply abandon all hope and accept their fate, because there’s nothing they can do about it.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        On what basis do you “believe” that “their entire purpose for posting comments here is an effort to sabotage this entire blog by encouraging fatalism and defeatism”?

        Maybe these people really believe these things; maybe they are even right!

        What people do you know who want to encourage fatalism and defeatism? Do you run into these people often?

        Funny, most people I know like eating well, engaging in sex with attractive people, having fun, and debating the ever-interesting intricacies and beauties (and possibly meaninglessness) of life and our existence. I rarely run into the type of people commenters are constantly painting pictures of on this site, the people who are running (and academics trying to further) vast conspiracies trying to deprive everyone else of their rights by encouraging them to embrace defeatism. I guess I have to get out more!

        1. anon2

          Anonymous Jones said: “most people I know like eating well, engaging in sex with attractive people, having fun, and debating the ever-interesting intricacies and beauties..”

          I rarely run into the type of people commenters are constantly painting pictures of on this site.”

          Glad to hear that you and most of the people you know are having such a delightful time.

    2. Richard Kline

      Heyyyyy! I’m never even _met_ anyone else who’s read Toulmin’s Cosmopolis. As an exemplar of the Oxbridge style, he’s always had a fluent way with Big Ideas. I’ll have to pull my copy off the bottom of a stack and delve in again . . . .

  5. Elliot X

    Re: WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

    from the article “The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom’s crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.”

    Isn’t this what Matt Simmons said a number of years ago, when he wrote “Twilight in the Desert”, arguing that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil reserves are vastly overstated? And that we needed to come up with a Plan B, instead of relying the Saudi’s numbers.

    Yet he was dismissed by the entire MSM as a crackpot.

    1. Pwelder

      Simmons came out with his book on Saudi reserves in 2005, although before that he had been quite outspoken (and correct, IMO)about a coming oil supply squeeze. He and his clients had lived through the price collapse of the late ’80’s, and he felt strongly that the loss of professional talent in the industry together with the pressure on investment in exploration for new reserves was going to be trouble. The Saudi story in his view was going to be a big problem, but far from the only one. When his book came out the Saudis went into full denial mode – and I never saw al-Husseini or any other highly placed Aramco honcho publicly express the slightest doubt that Ghawar and its relatives could supply all the oil the world wanted for as far as the eye could see.

      In hindsight it’s interesting that Simmons had concluded that the supply situation in natural gas was going to be even worse. The phenomenal productivity of George Mitchell’s procedure for producing the shale plays was not yet widely understood. In hindsight his biggest mistake, but a nice break for the rest of us.

      The Oil Drum is a good site for keeping an eye on this stuff.

    1. Francois T


      You mean “utterly stupid”, yes?

      I mean, the thought of trying to scare Glennzilla is rather laughable in the extreme. For Pete’s sake, the guy is scheduled to go see Manning at Quantico. Knowing what the go-vermin has done (and still do) to those who support Bradley, the whole proposition of “scaring away” Greenwald is ludicrous. As GG tweeted yesterday:

      @emptywheel Yeah – clearly I place professional preservation before cause: that’s why I’m a WL defender – & media critic. So good for career.

  6. Ina Deaver

    @”Security firm pitching BoA on wikileaks. . .”

    Yeah- security firm. Just like BoA is a “bank.”

    They broke the cardinal rule – don’t kick the hornets’ nest.

    The beat down they are about to get gives me a little warm feeling, and I don’t even normally have a soft spot for bad boys like Anonymous. Well played. Now if we could just get GS to really annoy Anonymous. . . .

  7. ChrisTiburon

    How to destroy progress: Muddle real issues with
    tripe and fluff and People Magazine crap with a
    hip veneer.
    Huffington was a Republican…wonder if she has been their covert operative all this time? Carefully craft an
    image of a progressive, pump the Hope and Change
    angle, then veer off into such distractions as these:

    “Olivia Wilde Topless in Cowboys and Aliens Trailer; The Lost Art of Saying No to Gertrude Stein;
    White House Economist Hopes GOP Will Discuss Budget In An Adult Way;
    US Unveils $53bn High Speed Rail Plan;
    Jane Austen at the Super Bowl;
    Artists’ Intricate Maze Made of 2,000 Pounds of Salt; Reagan’s Progressive Foreign Policy;
    Jennifer Lawrence in a Revealing Swimsuit (PHOTO).”

    Great ad venue for selling Pakistani earrings to
    goddesses who want to read the latest gossip whilst
    they think they are informing them self and doing

    p.s. AOL stands for A**H*les On Line.

    The solution? You can block all ads by using
    Firefox with Ad Block Plus, preferences set to
    “don’t remember history”…don’t forget to use
    Flash Flush to delete Flash cookies.

    1. Stelios Theoharidis

      Not that I enjoy the ‘People Magazine’ curve to Huffington Post, but I think you miss the attraction of the smattering sensationalist and odd stories while launching progressive policy stories.

      When people look up the former, they get exposed to the progressive policy stories. When people look up the latter they are kept on the site opening up stories on the former. It plays to the more puerile forms of human engagement but it attracts people to progressive politics as well.

      I feel that typical American is more interested in the puerile, it is a bit of a trojan horse to get the progressive politics to them.

  8. Adam's Myth

    Sorry, but the public pension debate is not just PR. The following example is true and first-hand.

    One day recently, I took a vacation day from work to go bicycling. Far up in the mountains, I met an incredibly fit retired highway patrolman in his mid-fifties.

    For an hour, as we pedaled side by side, he bragged about his financial position, which is simply amazing. Like all his CHP peers, he retired at 50 with a six-figure pension, 90% of his full pay at retirement. He owns three homes — one near the ocean in Orange County, one in far northern California, and a ranch in Montana.

    The biggest irony is that he is a hyper-conservative Republican who thinks taxes are for fools. With unintentional irony, he railed against big government for interfering with the management of his ranch, which he had purchased with his public pension. He gleefully told me he bought his several luxury cars over the border in Oregon, to avoid California sales tax. Total cognitive disconnect between his tax-dodging and his six-figure public pension, which he is healthy enough to collect for the next 40 years.

    So excuse me if I’m not persuaded that this controversy is nothing more than a right-wing plot. My direct personal experience says otherwise.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No it isn’t. Please review the term. He said you were reasoning from an isolated data point, which produces a “warped perspective”. The underlying argument is an attack on your logic, he did personalize it, but this most assuredly was no ad hominem.

      1. Cedric Regula

        This is just hearsay from one of my right wing buddies in CA, who listens to the right wing radio show in CA (I think it’s on short band), but he told me it is very prevalent that with all state hourly employees they work all the overtime they can get, at time and a half, in their last year of employment because the pension is based on some fraction, 80% is not uncommon in CA, of their final year income. (50 years old or so works too)

        Without checking out the story, I happen to believe it too.

        1. Stelios Theoharidis

          So I know this from a family member with respect to Pennsylvania, I can’t tell you how it is iterated throughout other states.

          The relationship between pension payments and wages is determined by final salary (without overtime) and the amount of years worked with a particular organization. I think there is a minimum of 10-15 years typically in order to enter into the pension scheme which starts at 25-50% of salary, and after that point you get a 2.5% addition for every year of service. Amongst non-essential services, most states are not really allowing overtime at present.

          Municipal pension schemes are going to be different obviously.

    1. abelenkpe

      My SIL works for the state. For the past two years she has had no raise and instead had forced furlough days which is essentially a decrease in pay. The amount she contributes to health care has gone up. This is the same for my neighbor. Now I’ve heard stories of people who retired with great pensions, but those people are few and far between. The majority of government workers have modest salaries and retirement benefits despite the effort to convince the public that is not the case.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Looking at body can reduce pain – BBC.

    I guess secret police worldwide will learn to make sure their victims don’t look now in order to increase pain.

    Thanks for the research!

    1. Fifi

      “I guess secret police worldwide will learn to make sure their victims don’t look now in order to increase pain.”

      They already know it and making sure that the victim doesn’t knowing when, where and how the next blow will come is an important component of many ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’.

      That cheerful aside set aside, the reported result doesn’t surprise me. About 20 years ago, I had to suffer through a minor but rather gruesome intervention without anaesthetics and I managed go through with fainting or puking. I just kept looking at what was going on, which involved of lot of scalpels, needles and pliers. Funnily enough, it was the medic who was completely freaked out and about to black out during the whole thing, pleading me that I stop watching.

  10. ChrisTiburon

    Re. Discover network destroying public employees

    What would happen if all public employees were to
    take careful note of the advertisers on Discover,
    compile a list of them and and boycott them.

    Then start an email tree and spread the word to
    everyone they knew.

    It would be important for the local branches of the
    national chains and or local advertisers to get
    messages from the boycotters as to why they are doing it.
    Also, if they were to inform the sales department at Discover as what they were doing on an individual
    basis to further that boycott…

    Just sayin’

Comments are closed.