Links Groundhog Day

FYI, Huffington Post is organizing Mortgage Madness Meetups around the country to put homeowners together so they can share experiences and resources.

Demand for fish hits record high BBC

93 Percent of Wall Street Journal’s Climate Op-Eds Misrepresent Science Alternet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Land fizzing like soda pop: farmer says CO2 injected underground is leaking Winnipeg News (hat tip reader David L). Why am I not surprised to learn that this does not work as advertised?

Australia’s Cyclone Yasi may destroy even ‘cyclone proof’ homes Reuters (hat tip reader Skippy, who is in the middle of this)

Yasi already causing damage in Innisfail Sydney Morning Herald. People are being turned away from shelters. And the cyclone is hitting at high tide.

Egyptians Turn To Tor To Organize Dissent Online Slashdot

Egyptian army tells protesters to ‘go home’ after Mubarak pledges not to run again Washington Post

USDA Completely Deregulates Genetically Engineered Alfalfa Alliance for Natural Health (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Anonymous financial professionals online Felix Salmon

Bill Introduced in South Dakota Would Require All Citizens to Buy a Gun CBS

Spectre of Truman and Carter haunts US Financial Times

The Great British austerity experiment Dean Baker, Guardian

Iceland Shows Ireland Did ‘Wrong Things’ Saving Banks Bloomberg (hat tip reader Amit)

Bet on Foreclosure Boom Turns Sour for Investors New York Times. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.

IMF raises spectre of civil wars as global inequalities worsen Telegraph

Here’s The Real Cost Of Food Inflation In America Clusterstock

SP 500 and NDX March Futures Daily Charts Jesse. As Scott noted, “Jesse channels Orwell.”

The Paradox of Corporate Taxes New York Times

Battle of the Bond Girls Moe Tkacik, New York Observer and Bloomberg News Pops the Meredith Whitney Bubble Columbia Journalism Review

Why are We ‘Irrational’: The Path from Neoclassical to Behavioral Economics 2.0 Richard Bookstaber

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-02 at 6.27.26 AM

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  1. attempter

    At any rate, by that propaganda we can see the WaPo’s (diminished) hopes for their guy Mubarak.

    Sorry hacks, nobody’s going home, and nobody’s letting your thug stick around. He can come live with you.

    Re South Dakota gun mandate:

    Liberals will love this, right? Given how pro-mandate they are, a policy like this should be right up their alley.

    It’s a state law, but in principle the Commerce clause argument, according to Obama hacks, would run something like this: Fear of crime causes people to not go out and shop as much. Maybe they fear that if they buy too many consumer goods, that’ll attract burglars. Therefore it’s imperative for the health of the economy that everyone own a gun. If you refuse to own a gun you’re weakening the economy. So a mandate forbidding non-participation is constitutionally valid.

    At least here you’d actually be getting a real gun, unlike the fraudulent and worthless “insurance” Stamps the mandate would force us to buy, policies which by design wouldn’t actually pay for treatment. (Because that’s, um, the business model of private insurance corporations. But that point is evidently way over the head of our “progressives”.)

    1. DownSouth

      But the WaPo’s reporting certainly gives insight into how a neocon/neoliberal mind, such as Barak Obama’s, combined with finely choreographed kabuki, works.

      The three or four thousand pro-Mubarak demonstrators are equivalent to the hundreds of thousands of anti-Mubarak demonstrators.

      And a handful of boisterous Tea Party demonstrators, strategically placed at town hall meetings across the country, are a better reflection of what Americans want than polls that show two-thirds of Americans wanting a public option.

      1. Glen

        I would much rather support “single payer” gun where we all just get a gun and we tax the rich a bit more.

        Nice huh?

    2. Stelios Theoharidis

      Dang liberals…..again with the blanket statements, most liberals and progressives have nothing to do with how this health mandate came out and we are just as disappointed as anyone else is, but typically for better reasons.

      Most of us wanted medicare and medicaid to start buying pharmaceuticals in bulk like most national plans at a 35 to 50% reduction in cost. The bulk of people were asking for a public option, which is also largely proven to reduce costs, that is not mandated but a choice to get into. I would have settled for something close to a medicare buy in, which if it was competitive with most insurance plans which it would have been, small businesses would have jumped into, rather than being at the disadvantage they currently are with their larger competitors. With a system directed towards preventative support and some good care programs for the minority of Americans that produce the majority of costs, due to habits that they most likely want to rid themselves of like smoking and obesity, then we would have reduced costs significantly over the long term and face ‘less’ of a looming fiscal crisis.

      The mandates are actually a conservative generated plan, ala Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. It was an ignominous attempt to appease blue dog democrats, or what should otherwise be considered democrats in name only, but moderate republicans in character. It was a dumb move to the center and into the pockets of pharmaceutical and health insurance companies but it is the character of the current political establishment, and it is nothing that is exclusive to those dang liberals.

      1. attempter

        Please don’t lecture me on the history of the health racket bailout, with which I’m nauseatedly familiar.

        You, on the other hand, seem to have an incomplete understanding of the history if you’re unaware that the “public option” was never, not for one single day, a seriously contemplated policy option, but was never anything but a premeditated scam to misdirect gullible liberals away from Single Payer.

        And here you, like so many others, are still mouthing the words, “public option”. To this day the criminals are still getting mileage out of that scam. We still see liberal criminals calling for new “public option” astroturf initiatives. They’re still having some success in suppressing even discussion Single Payer. (And your comment doesn’t so much as mention it.)

        From day one rank and file liberals either astroturfed or let themselves be astroturfed into scam after scam. I’ve never seen such a despicable performance by a rank and file.

        Only a small minority stuck with the obvious demand for Single Payer, and to this day only a minority oppose this vile, reactionary bill. This was the final disgrace for rank and file liberals (as if they didn’t have enough of those already).

        Just who among the people do you think supported this thing? It wasn’t just steamrolled through like the TARP. This was wrangled over in agonized public discourse for month after month after month. They could never have passed a bill without significant support from the “base”.

        And if you go to my blog you’ll find I’ve written at length about how Obamacare is a Republican bill.

        Don’t you think the fact that rank and file liberals supported a literally Republican bill rather undercuts your exculpatory thesis? Yet you bring it up yourself.

  2. RBM411

    RE: 93 Percent of Wall Street Journal’s Climate Op-Eds Misrepresent Science

    Me thinks the article proves not that the WSJ misrepresents science, but that it has a different opinion than what the author says is the scientific consensus.

    1. aet

      The WSJ editors are not scientists, and they are incompetent to judge their work.
      The WSJ has not the qualifications to judge: their opinion, where it differs from the scientific consesnsus, is worthless as a guide to adoption of policy.

      1. DownSouth


        Climate change deniers promote the belief that science is opinion, that there’s no difference between opinion and science.

        When it comes to the social sciences, like economics for instance, this argument undoubtedly has a great deal of validity. But when it comes to the physical sciences, such as climate science, the argument becomes less compelling.

        The physical sciences have had far greater success predicting the behavior of atoms and molecules than the social sciences have in predicting the behavior of human beings.

        1. Dave of Maryland

          But science IS opinion, people.

          In response to the 13th sign nonsense last month, that astrology was & is nothing but a fake (put out by an astronomer), in my weekly newsletter I am responding by proving astrology & medicine to be inseparable.

          One of my readers, an astrologer by profession, aged 61, asked me to prove it or shut up. She gave her brother as an example. He was born September 25, 1963, at 6:06 am EST in Bloomington, IN. He is severely blind, totally deaf and autistic as well. She asks, How does a Mercury retrograde & a void of course moon (technical terms) produce such ghastly results?

          The answer was that superficial astrology produces superficial results. The moon was in a degree of the zodiac that is known to produce blindness. It was in an area of the chart which reinforced & intensified that. Mercury was horribly debilitated, which made the man both deaf, as well as autistic.

          Science has lied about astrology for 300 years. It was their first, and still their greatest lie, but hardly their only one. True, they do try to get things right, but the average scientist, like the average blogger (Yves is not your average blogger) lives on enthusiasm & ego. “Science is always right” is an urban myth, like “cops are always honest.” Sometimes they really are.

          Astrology, not science, can tell you what physical ailments you are predisposed to suffer. Once we know that, astrology, not medicine, is the guide to medical treatment, because we will be treating astrologically defined ailments with astrologically defined herbs, at astrologically auspicious times. There are books on this. (Gregory House is a dolt.)

          In their lies about astrology, this is what science has stolen from you: Your health. Are scientists right about climate change? Hell, I don’t know, but I know better than to take them at their word.

          And no, I’m not a shill. I simply hate mindless adulation. Science doesn’t deserve that, even if – especially when – they, like Wall Street, all jump up & down shouting the same thing.

          Science, like Wall Street, badly needs contrarian views. Stop being their handmaidens, stop shouting down opposing views & go study what they have to say.

          1. PianoRacer

            “Science is always right” is an urban myth, like “cops are always honest.”

            Does your smart phone work?
            Does your iPad work?
            Does your GPS work?
            Does your internet connection work?

            It never ceases to amaze me that people can post such dreck on the internet, which itself is an absolutely monumental achievement of science. If one of a million scientific assumptions were wrong even a fraction of a percent of the time, these technologies simple would not function at all.

            The steady march of technology has put the obvious lie to the claim that science doesn’t work. It works. We don’t ALWAYS get it right, but when we do the evidence is pretty overwhelming, whereas your anecdote about a single astrology case is decidedly UNDERwhelming.

            When astrology can deliver the sum of all human knowledge to any person on the planet carrying a tiny portable device via a magical, invisible tether, let me know.

            In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with Science.

          2. aet

            ““The steady march of technology”

            Holy cow, dude. Marching WHERE?”

            Through time and into history, obviously. Duh!

          3. craazyman

            all youze rationalist hacks are unfairly jumping on Dave of Maryland’s insightful comment. ;0

            Consider the British-German pyschologist Hans Eysenck, who as an early rationalist set out to disprove astrology “scientifically” only to find that his data supported astrology to a remarkable degree.

            It’s a weird wurld out there doods, once yer haid is out of yer butt and yer lukin with 2 ize.


          4. Indigenous Centurion

            company with the climate change deniers.


            De façon continue perpétuez la dernière compagnie! Vivez la dernière compagnie!

            Tell me something! How long will HSE, Heat Sink Earth take to warm up? How much heat will it absorb in the process of warming by 20 degrees? Elementary, My Dear Watson-Crick. It takes the sun 6 six hours to warm up my tool-shed every winter’s morning from -40 degrees to -20 degrees. My tool shed weighs 5.9736×10^2 kg. HSE weighs 5.9736×10^24 kg. It will take the Sun 5.9736×10^24 kg / 5.9736×10^2 kg. == 10^22 hours to warm up HSE by a mere 20 degrees. But, you say, “How many hours is that?”! Then I hold up this many fingers :

            10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, ten sextillion!

            And *that* is a long, long chime

          5. Stelios Theoharidis

            Speaking of tool sheds^ this guy….

            What are you talking about? Do you really think that equation would scale the same way between what is probably your outhouse and the earth. Because you dropped a bunch of numbers down, we would say oooh aaah this guy can do some math, he must be smarter than the wide swath of physicists from across the world working on climate problems.

            Please excuse me and tell us why the analogy between your outhouse getting warm during the day is at all useful in understanding climate change. If I had a outhouse twice the size of yours with, it would probably have twice the roofing material absorbing the suns rays, do you think it would take twice as long for my outhouse get as hot as yours. Of course it wouldn’t because it has a roughly proportional amount of material absorbing the suns rays.

            Now actually calculating the impacts of more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere is a complex matter, it requires consideration of what 3 different cycles of planetary rotation, changes in the sun’s intensity, cloud formation, changes in ice and cloud albedo, global dimming, earth geometry, oceanic carbon absorption, increased plant uptake, escaping methane in permafrost, thermohaline circulation, etc. These are all things that you have demonstrated that you obviously shouldn’t try to attempt to ponder and certainly not comment on.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Trust no one…not scientists, not astrologers, not climate change deniers, not climate change believers.

          Verify everything yourself the best you can.

          1. Tertium Squid

            I’m with you. Efforts like the “93% WSJ blah blah” are aggravating because they are only evaluating whether the WSJ is hewing to orthodoxy or not. The only thing a “non-scientist” should do is to agree with their betters?

            Unless science really does want to be different from religion, they should steer clear of purity tests.

            Also – the alternet piece counts against the WSJ the large number of article where global warming is brought up that doesn’t explicitly attribute it to human causes – even if it doesn’t actually do any denying. As if there was no other issue in the subject that is worth mentioning.


          2. aet

            “Trust no one…not scientists, not astrologers, not climate change deniers, not climate change believers.”

            You’ll forgive me if I do not take your word for that.
            I especially distrust people spreading mis-trust.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You’re forgiven.

            ‘Trust no one,’ said the Barber of Seville who cut the hair of anyone who did not cut his own hair.

          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Words can lie.

            Don’t trust words too…well, not too much.\

            No offense, but all Cretans are liars.

        3. David

          I’ve been trained in physical science, and I was trained never to draw the sort of half-baked conclusion that is that global warming is anthropogenic. There’s simply too much uncertainty.

          (As I sit here in the coldest winter in memory … I was trained to apply my observations to my understanding of nature. I am skeptical that we have global warming at all.)

          1. Stelios Theoharidis

            Duh, its snowing, you said the climate was going to change, where is my tropical weather you promised, I’m skeptical…. I am just going to infer from my local circumstances, and what is going on this year, rather than statistical data as to what is happening globally and what are clearly historic trends… duh…skeptical makes me sound smart

            Duh…. I am going to ignore that it has been demonstrated that oil companies have spent millions of dollars on a public relations campaign to discredit scientists, and that individuals in these groups continue to produce information that has been refuted again and again, but I can’t be skeptical of that, because oil companies are doing good things, especially in developing countries, they show such a considerable sense of respect for human life and the environment over profit, they wouldn’t lie about things that would cut their profit margins…..duh

            Duh… I am not going to take what have been conservative estimates of warming and ice loss, which have year after year, been demonstrated to be 1/3 of actual warming and ice loss observed as something that might potentially an issue, cause I’m a skeptic, and probably a maverick…duh

            Duh… I am not going to even think about the military costs, even though the military itself has come out to say that it is a serious threat, and would rather continue to obtain crude oil from unstable nations that are generally dictatorships and engage in human rights violations, that we must continually support with military aid, which makes radical islamists want to bomb us more…. Duh… I can see Russia from my house, hows that for foreign policy experience…

            Duh… I am not going to consider the costs of continuing to rely on rapidly declining resources, and the potential threats to our economic security that may cause, rather than maximizing efficiency and US renewable energy production, that would make us less vulnerable to external shocks, and potentially stimulate economic redevelopment…duh

  3. ballyfager

    Yves, this is not the first indication that you give some credence to the anthropogenic global warming horsefrocky.

    I thought you were smarter than that.

  4. YY

    The fossil fuel industry is incapable of securing even the solid coal tailings against accidental “spillage”. With their demonstrated inability to keep solid/liquid toxic waste that is visible and doesn’t on its own float away escaping, what are the chances for CCS, where the waste is invisible, not on its own toxic but prone to leaking, working out? This is before thinking about the potential for fraudulent disposal of co2.

    Besides, why such an inelegant “solution” is thought to be of merit is an absurdity. We’re digging up petrified vegetation and dead dinosaurs to burn to boil water. It is stupid in the extreme, then to take the smoke and try to bury it.

  5. DownSouth

    Re: “Why are We ‘Irrational’: The Path from Neoclassical to Behavioral Economics 2.0” Richard Bookstaber

    The bigger question regarding human behavior is: Why do humans have an irrational, almost primal need to believe in irrational models? Modernism entailed replacing irrational religious dogmas with irrational secular dogmas. We certainly didn’t get rid of the irrational models; we just substituted the Invisible Hand for the Garden of Eden.

    • Bookstaber said:

    As with many new paradigms, the new route to behavioral economics adds a critical part of the world that the old one ignored. Perhaps it was ignored in the way physics assumes a perfect vacuum, or perhaps because the field became overrun with mathematicians, and as Kuhn has said, a new paradigm can only assert itself once the older generation dies off.

    I think Bookstaber underestimates the inexorable sway of interest.

    “The greatest significance of Adam Smith to the economic history of the world,” writes Robert H. Nelson in Economics as Religion, “was not in any power of economic explanation but in offering a ‘scientific’ doctrine by which the many losers from all this radical change could be persuaded to accept their fate without active revolt—-an act of rebellion against the market that in many cases might have been to their individual advantage.”

    Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all His laws. Our passions, ambitions, avarice, love and resentment, etc., possess so much metaphysical subtlety and so much overpowering eloquence that they insinuate themselves into the understanding and the conscience and convert both to their party.”
    –John Adams

    What man…if with a scrupulous attention he searches all the recesses of his soul, will not perceive that his virtues and vices are wholly owing to different modifications of personal interest?…For after all interest is always obeyed; hence the injustice of all our judgments.

    1. Pwelder

      DownSouth – thanks for the wonderful quote from John Adams. A nice corrective after a week of worshipful “reporting” from Davos.

    1. DownSouth


      You attack Newtonian science, but on the other hand you need Newtonian science to underpin your hallowed social and economic hierarchy. This passage from Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis highlights the incoherence in the climate change deniers’ posture, and why it’s just a matter of time before it comes flying apart at the seams:

      The original pattern for the “exact sciences” of Modernism was set by physics—-specifically, by the Newtonian theory of central forces. Within a humanized Modernity, ecological ideas and methods of thought will increasingly be a model in both scientific and philosophical debate. Does this mean that we can also replace the modern cosmopolis, based on the stability of the solar system, by a new “post-modern” cosmopolis based on the ideas of econsystems and adaptability? To that, the answer is both “Yes” and “No”; but the “No” is easier to explain.

      As a political instrument, the notion of cosmopolis has an unhappy track record. Historically, rhetorical analogies between nature and society have too often been used to legitimate inequality and domination. The function of cosmopolitical arguments 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). Whatever else our inquiry has achieved, it surely was not intended to replace one system of oppressive rhetoric modeled on physics by an equally oppressive one modeled on ecology. On the other hand, we can also reply with at least a qualified “Yes”. Ecological perspectives on social and political issues differ in one crucial respect from the Newtonian view of a stable system “kept in order” by universal and unchanging central forces. In the social realm, the Newtonian view called for stable institutions, unambiguous class structure, centralized power, and defense of the state’s sovereign autonomy from external interference. The resulting hierarchy of class institutions had a part to play in the reconstruction of Europe after the Religious Wars; but today, once we begin to think in ecological terms, we shall soon learn that every niche or habitat is one of its own kind, and that its demands call for a careful eye to its particular, local, and timely circumstances. The Newtonian view encouraged hierarchy and rigidity, standardization and uniformity: an ecological perspective emphasizes, rather, differentiation and diversity, equity and adaptability.

  6. Monte Davis

    Many of the WSJ op-edsters also seem to think that cap and trade is a recent brainstorm of nanny-state socialists — when one of the the first (and quite successful) implementations came out of the Reagan and GHW Bush administrations. For a broad-brush but essentially accurate account:

    Apparently C&T changed from a market-based solution to Yet Another Evil Big Government Intervention about the time Democratic administrations began to propose it for CO2.

  7. Pwelder

    Yves – when it comes to the neighborhood where you live and work, your bullshit detector works fine. So it’s a little disturbing to find you so eager to swallow whole – like YY above – the conclusion that the phenomena on the Kerr farm must be due to CCS at Weyburn. The fact that the nearest injector was 2 km. away might have inspired at least a little caution on your part.

    I don’t know what the story is at the Kerr place. The point is, neither do you.

    The reasons for caution on the story – which may or may not be valid, but shouldn’t be ignored if you want to report on this – can be found starting with the links here:

  8. LeeAnne

    All evil today flows from the lawless securities industry that manufactures counterfeit money with a few keystrokes freely, loans it out at profits into infinity and charges anyone other than their own cronies who really needs it their first born.

    This morning “Egypt army asks people to “return to normal life”, adding that the public’s message is received.” aljazeera This is the moment when the army is forced to ‘earn’ its money and privileged status).

    Given that the ‘kill switch’ used in Egypt is effecting the daily lives of all the 80 million people of Egypt, and there are at most 1 – 2 million demonstrators, and among them a large number disenfranchised, the demonstrators can be considered dispensable, no?

    This sentiment enables the unleashing of security police now, particularly off camera, which has already begun according to reports.

    It behooves Americans to watch how this plays out as our own government plans for a Lieberman sponsored Internet ‘kill switch.’
    here and the TSA announced some time ago it was establishing a 10,000 person cadre of plain clothes secret agents (no doubt the CIA had such modest beginnings -just the beginning if we let them get away with it.

    And terror threats are getting noisier as Murdoch Media displays nuclear Al-Qaeda from WikiLeaks on Drudge amid ‘terror alerts’ for American bankers and travelers that lends credence to the idea that Wiki at this point is a government black flag operation.

    So now, on with the games -the phony elections for distraction while the looting, killing and impoverishment for corporations and bankers continues.

    1. LeeAnne

      sorry about the link. this should work It is down right down.

      …men riding horses and camels attack protesters in Tahrir Square

      Protesters show police ID’s seized from some attackers.

      Mohamed ElBaradei decries Cairo violence as ‘crime against Egypt’

      Opposition says President Mubarak has sent in thugs to break up protesters

  9. Ron

    The debt industry is busy trying to repair the idea that municipal bond debt is risk free, or a free ride. Here in Calif which is way in front of the curve has climbed to number 1 in bond debt with a whopping 18 percent of GDP. Taxpayers via property taxes/sales taxes provided the necessary revenue streams but property values are going down, Orange county is now back to 2003 property values and the best neighborhoods in San Francisco and Santa Monica are getting hit with foreclosures and NOD’s. Property values trends are going down and this in spite of massive federal and state bid under the market. Sales tax revenue projections have also fallen short cutting down the size of various projects or delaying them altogether. Special interests, Unions, Commercial construction,financial services that heavily support the political cast are constantly generating fresh ways to spur public financing of their field of dreams project.
    Our high unemployment/underemployment and deflationary RE trends make for a bad ending to this story.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Where do the rich get their organic foods that are uncontaminated by GE alfalfa?

    That’s where I hope to do my shopping.

    Until then, I feel like the only safe bet is filtered water.

  11. Tertium Squid

    If you missed it, Scott “Dilbert” Adams in the WSJ on how to tax the rich:

    I like Adams. He’s a clever and opinionated contrarian thinker, and of course very funny.

    As for this article, it’s more depressing than exhilirating, because the common thread is that rich people are different than us and therefore their various priviliges should be recognized and codified.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have impoverished humans and impoverished countries.

      Are there impoverished corporations that need our sympathy?

      Should corporations be taxed without representation? Were the British treating American colonists like corporations, taxing them without giving them representation?

  12. Hugh

    Anyone else find it ironic that the IMF which has done so much to foster wealth inequality in so many countries now warns of civil strife resulting from it? The IMF says that workers need to reassert “bargaining power” against rentiers??? WTF! Anyway how does one assert such power against the current crop of rentiers short of torches and pitchforks?

    Re Egypt, Mubarak hasn’t given up. He’s just changed tactics. Having made a couple of phony concessions, he’s now trying to portray protesters as unreasonable. He’s also seeing if he can create any divisions in their ranks. And of course he continues to play the “public order” card.

    His longer game is to try to stick it out for the next 8 months and use the time to rig the elections so that his clique continues in power.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Mubarak is just ‘cunctating.’

      It’s not a naughty or vulgar word, but ‘cunctating’ was used very effectively aganist certain North Africaners by Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus.

      So Mubarak is using ‘cunctation’ against his North Africaners.

  13. EmilianoZ

    Michael Hastings, who wrote the now legendary profile of McChrystal in Rolling Stone, is now tackling Petraeus. The result is less sensational but every bit as interesting.

    So what has Petraeus been up to since taking over in Afghanistan? Hastings answers the question with essentially 2 threads.

    1) Petraeus wants to do away with the July 2011 deadline for withdrawing troops.

    “Above all, Petraeus launched a full-scale offensive to reshape how Congress and the American people view the war. One lesson he learned during the surge in Iraq is that it’s not what’s happening on the battlefield that counts — it’s what people in Washington think is happening. As Petraeus wrote in The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam, his 1987 doctoral dissertation at Princeton, “What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.” Success lies in finding the right metrics, telling the right story, convincing the right people we’re not losing. The key to victory, Petraeus concluded, is “perception.””

    With the “right metrics”, I’m pretty sure that the Vietnam War can be turned into the greatest American military victory. Nevertheless, Petraeus has managed to undermine several reviews of the war.

    “During the review process, Petraeus also clashed with America’s intelligence community over what is really going on in Afghanistan. The CIA wasn’t buying the military’s spin about progress, and the new National Intelligence Estimate — a document that distills the insights of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies — threatened to repeat the “grim” assessment it had offered two years earlier. So the general set out to remake the NIE to his liking.”

    2) Petraeus is empowering warlords.

    “The militia strategy that Petraeus is pursuing is essentially one of outsourcing — and no one better represents the plan’s disdisturbing downside than Col. Abdul Razzik, who runs the border town of Spin Boldak in southern Afghanistan.”

    “U.S. military and diplomatic officials soon came to believe that Razzik had become a central figure in a large-scale drug ring, shipping opium over the border. More disturbing reports also started to filter up the chain of command concerning executions and “indiscriminate tactics against men, women and children,” according to a human rights official who specializes in Afghanistan.”

    “By supporting Razzik, Petraeus is pushing the limits of American law: A condition in the supplemental spending bill passed last year to fund the war explicitly states that no taxpayer money can go to units where there is “credible” evidence of human rights violations. Yet instead of holding Razzik accountable for his crimes, U.S. officials have gone into overdrive to refurbish his image. In October, an American commander in Spin Boldak told The Washington Post that Razzik is a modern-day “Robin Hood.” The following month, another U.S. commander gushed to The Wall Street Journal that the young warlord is a “folk hero.””

    “Last summer, Rolling Stone has learned, the Defense Department commissioned a report from U.S. military officials and diplomatic advisers looking at various “end states” in Afghanistan — in short, what the country will look like when we leave. A U.S. official who was asked for input on the document says that “it was an attempt to get the withdrawal strategies.” A draft of one paper, obtained by Rolling Stone, describes a plan to split Afghanistan into seven regions, each centered around a major city, with both “insurgents” and “local strongmen” in the new governments. “This is not to sanction warlordism,” the paper states, “but an acknowledgment that local strongmen have a part to play in the initial stage of rebalancing the state.””

  14. lambert strether

    Continued Cairo live blog. Protesters in Tahrir Square. Pro-Mubarak forces, including many security forces, attempt to take the square, attacking through the streets leading into the square. They lose, and the protesters still hold the square. Several shots of protesters holding up police IDs captured from pro-Mubarak forces. Army remains neutral. Weaponry: Sticks, rocks, paving stones, a few petrol bombs. Pro-Mubarak forces came with clubs and knives, showing they came for a fight.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Regarding food inflatoin, one way to fight it as suggested by economists, if I recall correctly, is by substitution effect.

    So, if beef is too expensive, you buy chicken.

    And if you can’t afford organic, buy non-organic.

    Roofed homes too expensive? Try one without roof. Better yet, substitute it by going homeless.

    That’s how you Whip Inflation Now!

  16. lambert strether

    Continued Cairo live blog. Protesters still holding the square. Looks like the action was by the museum, and the protesters drove back the pro-Mub forces with a metal barricade. Currently, a level of calm. 1000 casualties, one death. If the US government really wants to find out whether the violence was orchestrated by government forces, all the evidence they need is readily available to them. If they don’t want to call up AJ and ask for some film, they can ask their own European allies, who have “proof.”. Profiles in courage from pro-Mub forces, up in the dark out of reach on the rooftops, and throwing Molotov cocktails at the protesters below.

  17. David

    Trying to “sequester” any meaningful amount of a light gas like CO2 underground is a ridiculous idea. That doesn’t stop high paid “serious” people from doing it. And see the results.

  18. David

    In the article “Iceland Shows Ireland Did ‘Wrong Things’ Saving Banks ” it says Ireland was forced to accept the bailout in Dec. But if I have been following this story correctly, the acceptance of the bailout is not final until the Parliament passes it, they have not yet passed it, and they may not now that Parliament was dissolved the other day.

    Am I right?

  19. Indigenous Centurion

    we would say oooh aaah this guy can do some math,

    ~~Stelios Theoharidis~

    Forget the math! Look at it from this angle. 4 Billion years ago the Earth was not solid, not even liquid, but a gigantic ball of hot gas held together by lot of gravity. Over time the gravity squeezed the heat out of it and liquefied it but later solidified part of the liquid. The first solids were a crucible of boiling volcanoes that spewed forth CO2 into the atmosphere. Did that CO2 cause global warming? No! On the contrary, Earth continued to cool by a process of BBR, Black Body Radiation, molecular motion driving energy into long wavelength photons about ten times as long as the D-line of yellow light. BBR dissipated the heat produced by gas condensation and by liquid crystallization. Although Earth is still cooling, the process takes millions of years because the surface area of Earth is small compared to the enormous mass of HSE, Heat Sink Earth. Cooling is slow, but warming from the Sun is also agonizingly slow. The brief time on Earth of coal miners and oil riggers will be a flash in the pan compared to the slowness of temperature change in HSE. You are not even in the same ball-park.

    Encourage everyone to crunch her/his own numbers

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