Links 2/3/11

Don’t forget to call your state AG today and ask him to get tough on mortgage fraud. Go to CrimeShouldn’tPay for contact information.

Inside the anti-kettling HQ Guardian (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code Wired (hat tip reader bob)

NASA Kepler finds family of habitable, Earth-size planets NetworkWorld

WikiLeaks Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for Promoting Freedom of Speech AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

WikiLeaks: US and China in military standoff over space missiles Telegraph (hat tip reader Paul S)

Erdogan’s Cairo speech Foreign Policy

ElBaradei’s Role Cast in Doubt Wall Street Journal. While this may be true, the cynic in me reads a second level into this. Remember how the US promoted Ahmed Chalabi as a possible leader of Iraq, when he hadn’t been in the country since, what, 1956? I wonder if this is a sign that the Administration is trying to find another horse to back.

Egypt Protests – Tweets Mapped Mibazaar (hat tip Lambert Strether)

“No One Could Have Predicted the Housing Bubble Middle East Status Quo Would Crash” March Wheeler, FireDogLake

Irish bank flight quickens despite EU rescue Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. Hhm, has everyone gone into “Mission Accomplished” mode a tad early?

Learning the art of greasing the wheels Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck). Bribery, Chinese style. Frankly, it may be that everything looks better at a remove, but their version looks a lot more refined than ours.

Rally ‘Round the “True Constitution” American Prospect (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Democrats and Allies Missing the Big Picture on “Rape Redefinition” Bill Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Foreclosed Homeowners Go to Court on Their Own New York Times. This story confirms something we’ve argued, that the stereotyped “borrowed too much and lived high for a while” types have for the most part already lost their homes and the current crop of seriously delinquent borrowers is heavy on collateral damage from the financial crisis:

When people went into default in 2008, it was generally because of the exploding cost of a subprime loan. Unable or unwilling to handle sharply higher payments, the homeowner walked away with little protest.

Now many defaults are prompted by stretches of unemployment like Ms. Perea’s. These owners do not have the resources to come up with all their missed payments at once. But if they can persuade their lender to restructure the loan instead of seizing the house, they have a chance of staying put.

Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps? (MIchael Fletcher of the Washington Post Edition) Bred DeLong and The Problem of Structrual Unemployment: Really Incompetent Managers Dean Baker. Debunking a the “structural unemployment” meme.

US employers unsure about economic recovery Financial Times

Proposed class action targets BofA on foreclosures Reuters (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

Calif. settles lawsuit against Countrywide execs Associated Press (hat tip reader Tawal)

CMBS takes a beating as delinquencies reach record high Housing Wire

Fraudclosure: Will State AGs Step Up to Their Moment in History? Bankster USA

Bill Gross: Devil’s Bargain Ed Harrison

Legerdemath Boston Review (hat tip reader bob). It is good to see someone in the industry come forward and discuss abuses in derivatives land in some detail, but the fact that this sort of thing is standard operating procedure is not news. I am still mystified that customers buy this stuff, given what a cesspool the industry is.

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 4.12.40 AM

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


    1. avgJohn

      You meant to say dogs, not cats. Right?

      Remember, only dogs are awarded the honor of being “Man’s best friend”.

      Dogs rule! You go puppies! Dogs are number 1!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You may be a billionaire fat cat, but it snows on everyone just the same.

      Clean and unpolluted snow is to everyone’s benefit.

  1. russel1200

    The rally around the constitution article is odd.

    It comments on some less then deep thinkers: Baucman and Beck. Then seems to find the restrictions of the constitution inconvenient.

    The 10th Amendment has always been a thorn in the side of Federalists to varying degrees. It is one of the main reasons that Eisenhower couched the interstate highway construction in defense terms.

  2. Richard Smith

    Legerdemath piece has a weird mistake in it:

    “Most brazenly, we taught clients phony math that involved settling Treasury-rate locks by referencing Treasury yields rather than prices.”

    Nothing phony about it – that’s how you *should* settle Treasury rate locks. It this a typo or does this guy know less than he thinks he does? Undermines an interesting piece.

  3. Doc at the Radar Station

    “Remember how the US promoted Ahmed Chalabi as a possible leader of Iraq, when he hadn’t been in the country since, what, 1956? I wonder if this is a sign that the Administration is trying to find another horse to back.”

    That’s entirely possible, but El Baradei’s future fate in Egypt may have more in common with:
    Someone who was physically not present in the country for some time, that returned from “exile”, played a role in the changes, but gets quickly marginalized or worse after a short time.

  4. Ina Deaver

    This is the very first time that I have ever seen a liberal website openly “get” how the Republicans work in Congress, and why they continually, consistently, outmaneuver the Dems. The entire system is set up to throw sops to the left so that they can say to themselves, “well, at least they didn’t do x” when that was never the goal of the other side at all. They completely work to create where the middle ground will fall, while the other side is either truly clueless or willfully playing along with their common owners to create the illusion of compromise.

    At least that is progress. Somebody out there has finally been paying attention. Now they just need to decide whether the Dems are incompetent or malicious. I have come to my own conclusions, of course. But I actually have some hope if large portions of the populace start seeing the pattern for what it is.

  5. AR

    Just want to point out that there’s plenty more room at the bottom of the home page for more of the ‘click-through’ posts to appear. Right now not even all of yesterday’s posts are on the home page, though there’s room, because the side bar is so long.

    1. Ina Deaver

      Sorry,me: Democrats and Allies Missing the Big Picture on “Rape Redefinition” Bill

      Just the other day I got an email from my favorite spamming cousin that she forwarded from a left-leaning group that she belongs to — and they fell for this hook, line and sinker. It does little good to point out to her that they will win the battle and lose the war if they take that approach — but I sent her the above link for thought.

      I’ve been complaining for a long, long time that the true target of the right wing movement is the Griswold decision, not the Roe v. Wade one. And that is a profound attack indeed, not just for women but for the entire concept of privacy in our society.

  6. Richard Kline

    I’ve been very impressed at the command of nonviolent methods and strategy displayed in Egypt. It’s clear that the secular activist strata has acquired a very good background, and that even in violent confrontations such as at Tahrir Square on Wednesday there are elements pushing nonviolent action to keep a lid on things. I’d wondered where they got that background, and reading up it’s become clear. The April 6ers deliberately copied the Otpor movement in Serbia that did in Milosevic. And that movement explicitly drew on the writings and direct support of Gene Sharp, who is the leading scholar of nonviolence. The seeds that are planted find the ground on which to grow; now we have the bloom.

    1. Ina Deaver

      But doesn’t it upset you that the MSM is reporting that it is “Mubarak supporters” who began this violence, rather than secret police dressed in plainclothes? Sure, Mubarak has supporters. . .that is not who began this violence, it was targeted to throw the protests into riot mode so that the military would be forced to clamp down.

      Incredible restraint is being exercised by the protestors. Before dawn, someone opened fire on them with an automatic weapon. Several were killed. Some buildings are burning, but it is unclear who started the fires. I think that they are doing everything that they can. . .may God protect them.

      1. DownSouth

        To tear the mask of hypocrisy from the face of the enemy, to unmask him and the devious machinations and manipulations that permit him to rule without using violence, that is, to provoke action even at the risk of annihilaton so that the truth may come out—these are still among the strongest motives in today’s violence on the campuses and in the streets.
        ▬Hannah Arendt, Crises of the Republic

        Both the temper and the method of non-violence yield another very important advantage in social conflict. They rob the opponent [read Obama and Mubarak] of the moral conceit by which he identifies his interests with the peace and order of society. This is the most important of all the imponderables in a social struggle. It is the one which gives an entrenched and dominant group the clearest and the least justified advantage over those who are attacking the status quo. The latter are placed in the category of enemies of public order, of criminals and inciters to violence and the neutral community is invariably arrayed against them. The temper and the method of non-violence destroys the plausibility of this moral conceit of the entrenched interests. If the non-violent campaign actually threatens and imperils existing arrangements the charge of treason and violence will be made against it none-the-less. But it will not confuse the neutral elements in a community so easily.
        ▬Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society

    2. Ming

      I hope that Egyptians and the Tunisians are successful in re- shaping their country toward a true people’s democracy… But a big question is still the army and it’s generals. Hopefully, the fact that the army is full of conscripts may result in more empathy between the soldiers
      and the protesters ( who themselves were ex- soldiers). The next important question is the composion of the officers and the top generals… What are their attitudes and interests and empathies? The protest now needs leadership to reach out to the soldiers, lower officers, and generals if it hopes to form a transition governemnt effectively…

      Even if the protesters fail to gain full democracy, A key demand wil be to transfer authority of the police to active civillians oversight (to remove the terror of the secret police And to start the exposure of endemic corruption that has paralyzed Egypt .) Transparency, oversight, and re- algnmnet
      of objectives of certain institutions, along with removal of corrupt I individuals, are probably more important to the prosperity of the nation than a democracy where leadership can be changed but corruption is hidden or disguised, but also endemic. Of course, to buy peace, some accomodation to the ‘Powers’ within Egypt will be necessary.

      The new transition government must offer peace with Israel it is to avoid American direct intervention.

      1. leroguetradeur

        You think these are people like us, and you think the leadership is the english speakers you see being interviewed on TV. Wrong on both counts. Neither we nor the western journalists out there now have the slightest idea what is going on. The people who are really in charge of it all are not talking, and most of them don’t even speak english.

        This is not the fall of the Eastern European regimes. Not at all. As for peace with Israel? What???

    3. Bev

      Gene Sharp’s site at
      The Albert Einstein Institution
      offers many publications to be freely downloaded

      found via Scientific American site:

      Egypt’s revolution vindicates Gene Sharp’s theory of nonviolent activism

      By John Horgan

      The necessary first step toward changing an unjust regime, Sharp emphasizes, is for people to reject the self-fulfilling view of themselves as weak; after all, even the most brutal tyrants must rely to some extent on the cooperation of citizens, not just in the military but throughout the society.

      Nonviolent Actions he lists in the index of
      “From Dictatorship to Democracy”:

      Appendix One

      The Methods of Nonviolent Protest and

      Formal Statements
      1. Public speeches
      2. Letters of opposition or support
      3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
      4. Signed public statements
      5. Declarations of indictment and intention
      6. Group or mass petitions

      Communications with a Wider Audience
      7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
      8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
      9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
      10. Newspapers and journals
      11. Records, radio, and television
      12. Skywriting and earthwriting

      Group Representations
      13. Deputations
      14. Mock awards
      15. Group lobbying
      16. Picketing
      17. Mock elections

      Symbolic Public Acts
      18. Display of flags and symbolic colors
      19. Wearing of symbols
      20. Prayer and worship
      21. Delivering symbolic objects
      22. Protest disrobings
      23. Destruction of own property
      24. Symbolic lights
      25. Displays of portraits
      26. Paint as protest
      27. New signs and names
      28. Symbolic sounds
      29. Symbolic reclamations
      30. Rude gestures

      Pressures on Individuals
      31. “Haunting” officials
      32. Taunting officials
      33. Fraternization
      34. Vigils

      Drama and Music
      35. Humorous skits and pranks
      36. Performance of plays and music
      37. Singing

      38. Marches
      39. Parades
      40. Religious processions
      41. Pilgrimages
      42. Motorcades

      Honoring the Dead
      43. Political mourning
      44. Mock funerals
      45. Demonstrative funerals
      46. Homage at burial places

      Public Assemblies
      47. Assemblies of protest or support
      48. Protest meetings
      49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
      50. Teach-ins

      Withdrawal and Renunciation
      51. Walk-outs
      52. Silence
      53. Renouncing honors
      54. Turning one’s back

      The Methods of Social Noncooperation

      Ostracism of Persons
      55. Social boycott
      56. Selective social boycott
      57. Lysistratic nonaction
      58. Excommunication
      59. Interdict

      Noncooperation with Social Events, Customs, and Institutions
      60. Suspension of social and sports activities
      61. Boycott of social affairs
      62. Student strike
      63. Social disobedience
      64. Withdrawal from social institutions

      Withdrawal from the Social System
      65. Stay-at-home
      66. Total personal noncooperation
      67. Flight of workers
      68. Sanctuary
      69. Collective disappearance
      70. Protest emigration (hijrat)

      The Methods of Economic Noncooperation:
      (1) Economic Boycotts

      Action by Consumers
      71. Consumers’ boycott
      72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
      73. Policy of austerity
      74. Rent withholding
      75. Refusal to rent
      76. National consumers’ boycott
      77. International consumers’ boycott

      Action by Workers and Producers
      78. Workmen’s boycott
      79. Producers’ boycott

      Action by Middlemen
      80. Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott
      action by owners and management
      81. Traders’ boycott
      82. Refusal to let or sell property
      83. Lockout
      84. Refusal of industrial assistance
      85. Merchants’ “general strike”

      Action by Holders of Financial Resources
      86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
      87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
      88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
      89. Severance of funds and credit
      90. Revenue refusal
      91. Refusal of a government’s money

      Action by Governments
      92. Domestic embargo
      93. Blacklisting of traders
      94. International sellers’ embargo
      95. International buyers’ embargo
      96. International trade embargo

      The Methods of Economic Noncooperation:
      (2) the strike

      Symbolic Strikes
      97. Protest strike
      98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)

      Agricultural Strikes
      99. Peasant strike
      100. Farm workers’ strike

      Strikes by Special Groups
      101. Refusal of impressed labor
      102. Prisoners’ strike
      103. Craft strike
      104. Professional strike

      Ordinary Industrial Strikes
      105. Establishment strike
      106. Industry strike
      107. Sympathetic strike

      Restricted Strikes
      108. Detailed strike
      109. Bumper strike
      110. Slowdown strike
      111. Working-to-rule strike
      112. Reporting “sick” (sick-in)
      113. Strike by resignation
      114. Limited strike
      115. Selective strike

      Multi-industry Strikes
      116. Generalized strike
      117. General strike

      Combinations of Strikes and Economic Closures
      118. Hartal
      119. Economic shutdown

      The Methods of Political Noncooperation

      Rejection of Authority
      120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
      121. Refusal of public support
      122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance

      Citizens’ Noncooperation with Government
      123. Boycott of legislative bodies
      124. Boycott of elections
      125. Boycott of government employment and positions
      126. Boycott of government departments, agencies and
      other bodies
      127. Withdrawal from government educational institutions
      128. Boycott of government-supported organizations
      129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
      130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
      131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
      132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions

      Citizens’ Alternatives to Obedience
      133. Reluctant and slow compliance
      134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
      135. Popular nonobedience
      136. Disguised disobedience
      137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
      138. Sitdown
      139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
      140. Hiding, escape and false identities
      141. Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws

      Action by Government Personnel
      142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
      143. Blocking of lines of command and information
      144. Stalling and obstruction
      145. General administrative noncooperation
      146. Judicial noncooperation
      147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
      148. Mutiny

      Domestic Governmental Action
      149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
      150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units

      International Governmental Action
      151. Changes in diplomatic and other representation
      152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
      153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
      154. Severance of diplomatic relations
      155. Withdrawal from international organizations
      156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
      157. Expulsion from international organizations

      The Methods of Nonviolent Intervention

      Psychological Intervention
      158. Self-exposure to the elements
      159. The fast
      (a) Fast of moral pressure
      (b) Hunger strike
      (c) Satyagrahic fast
      160. Reverse trial
      161. Nonviolent harassment

      Physical Intervention
      162. Sit-in
      163. Stand-in
      164. Ride-in
      165. Wade-in
      166. Mill-in
      167. Pray-in
      168. Nonviolent raids
      169. Nonviolent air raids
      170. Nonviolent invasion
      171. Nonviolent interjection
      172. Nonviolent obstruction
      173. Nonviolent occupation

      Social Intervention
      174. Establishing new social patterns
      175. Overloading of facilities
      176. Stall-in
      177. Speak-in
      178. Guerrilla theater
      179. Alternative social institutions
      180. Alternative communication system

      Economic Intervention
      181. Reverse strike
      182. Stay-in strike
      183. Nonviolent land seizure
      184. Defiance of blockades
      185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
      186. Preclusive purchasing
      187. Seizure of assets
      188. Dumping
      189. Selective patronage
      190. Alternative markets
      191. Alternative transportation systems
      192. Alternative economic institutions

      Political Intervention
      193. Overloading of administrative systems
      194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
      195. Seeking imprisonment
      196. Civil disobedience of “neutral” laws
      197. Work-on without collaboration
      198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

      1. Bev

        Because at some level we know what it means when real physical evidence is removed or hidden behind computer counts, like with the electronic voting/scanning/tabulating machines used in most elections now…all machine counts…all vulnerable on purpose. Then look who owns them. Any question why Bush was able to muscle his way in…twice.

        To prevent future rule by theft, we need hand counted paper ballots, a preference for real physical evidence counted and posted in precinct on election night, and cross checked at county, state levels. Then we might be able to rely on a democracy to solve problems and work better for more people. Then we could get more Public State or City Banks using unbacked debt-free fiat and silver certificate/coin money to prevent bankruptcy and to build infrastructure and jobs.

  7. Tertium Squid

    “Debunking a the “structural unemployment” meme.”

    Yves, perhaps you can also debunk a persistent confusion of mine. Is the only thing meant by “structural unemployment” that (as Dean Baker says) “workers don’t have the right skills for the available jobs”?

    And is the only alternate to “structural unemployment” the equally nebulous-sounding “cyclical employment”?

    This argument always makes me shake my head. If it’s not structural then it’s cyclical? Seems like that’s an argument for inaction, or at least complacency, if the problem will get better on its own – just extend and pretend.

    That doesn’t seem like the thing to do. American wages are too high and so is consumer debt. Our economy (if not individual workers) is geared towards inflating bubble after bubble. A huge percentage of our economic output is unproductive electronic “money”. I suppose it will take a decade or more (if ever) to sort it all out. How is that not “structural”? And what structure are we talking about, here?

    1. Hal Roberts

      Structural un – employment legalize medical cannabis Oregon style: One Medical Marijuana grower can only supply 5-10 patients. This would assure a New Steady Broad Base Economic stimulus across the Country. The refuse off of the cannabis plant could be collected like plastic bottles are collected at the dump. The cannabis plant is suitable for many industrial applications Remove the schedule ranking of Marijuana. Recycle/Green and Low Cost commodity.

      Our Money needs to be MADE By The PEOPLE in this Nation( slam un-employment plus a new product for the market), NOT A DAM PRINTING PRESS then giving it to some foreign countries sovereign wealth fund,and Maybe then they will invest some of it with us if we’re nice.

      Legalizing Marijuana would also starve out a lot of Crime and save a lot of Lives not mention the COUNTRY. What a Dream.

  8. Tertium Squid

    Re: “Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code”

    Fascinating. Thanks for linking, though this part makes me sick:

    “There was a time when scratch games all but sold themselves. But in the past two decades the competition for the gambling dollar has dramatically increased. As a result, many state lotteries have redesigned their tickets.”

    The incentives are perverse once governments start to rely on gambling for revenue. It means they have to compete for gambling dollars. It means they design marketing messages to make a surefire loser look like a winner.

    It also means that the more our foolish(and usually poor) neighbors play these loser games, the better off “we” are.

    Say I not rightly that the LESS the poor waste on these stupid things, the healthier a society is?

    And I LOVE this:

    “One important strategy involves the use of what lottery designers call extended play. Although extended-play games—sometimes referred to as baited hooks—tend to look like miniature spreadsheets, they’ve proven extremely popular with consumers. Instead of just scratching off the latex and immediately discovering a loser, players have to spend time matching up the revealed numbers with the boards.”

    Last week I went to a conference in Vegas. Some of my coworkers spend the evening at dollar blackjack tables, and in a couple hours they lost maybe ten bucks.

    Pshaw I said. So inefficient. I can lose ten dollars in five seconds.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      An small child is afraid of darkness but has no problem with silence.

      On the other hand, a modern adult has no problem with darkness (hopefully), but is scared to death of silence – hence the earphones while jogging on the beach and the radio when driving.

      A real Neanderthal would not have gone to the bright and noisy casino after a day of conferencing, but would have wondered at the stars in the open, quite desert.

      1. Tertium Squid

        The rooms at the Wynn are really quite ideal in this regard for a non-gambler. One whole side of the room is a giant window. The sunrise dazzles, the distant mountains are very visible, and at night, well, “It’s like looking DOWN on the stars”.

      2. hmmm

        true… but i’ve also noticed that my dogs are a lot more relaxed with some type of noise–if not from live social interaction, then radio and tv often suffice.

  9. Hugh

    That headline “US employers unsure about economic recovery” is quite funny. It seems like only a week or two ago I was hearing all these breathless stories about how US employers were planning on hiring this year. But that’s the pattern: happy talk and then a splash of cold reality then more happy talk.

    The BLS jobs report tomorrow should be interesting because it needs to show marked improvement and probably won’t.

    Structural unemployment and jobs-skills mismatches are just elite mumbo jumbo to justify the failure to address the country’s 20% level of disemployment. Dean Baker is right that employers could find more workers with the right skills set if they raised wages to attract them. But it’s also true that employers could *gasp* train workers for these positions rather than leaving them vacant.

  10. hermanas

    Yves, respecting your N.Y. Times piece, “Follow the Money”, where is it going? The Qe2-3. How do we follow this?

  11. larster

    Micheal Lewis’ article in Vanity Fair is a must read- re the Irish problem. I guess the CRA and the GSE’s must have made it over there to screw things up this bad.

  12. scraping_by

    “Hhm, has everyone gone into “Mission Accomplished” mode a tad early?”

    And perhaps, they understand the one feature of a loan is that it has to be paid back. A growing liability looks pretty awful, even if it comes due later. Later is still too soon.

    The only loans voluntarily forgiven are those to close family, good friends, and people who won’t take a good, honest bribe. The loans let drop from no recourse are done with ill grace and every intention to collect in some blue sky future. Weren’t Weimar Germany bonds taken to court late last year?

    Since the Irish central bank’s been given (has taken?) issuing rights, it could be they’ll print their way out of it. Or they might have to bite the bullet. Figuratively, one hopes.

Comments are closed.