Links 3/2/11

Starving bald eagles so weak they fall from sky Victoria Times Colonist (hat tip reader furzy mouse) :-(

Thoughtcrime? The ethics of neuroscience and criminality ArsTechica (hat tip reader Chris M)

Electric Vehicles: Myths vs. Reality Sierra Club (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Digital Mammography Saps Medicare Dollars Maggie Mahar (hat tip Francois T). A success story for GE’s lobbying efforts.

China’s airport overkill BeyondBrics (hat tip reader Michael Q)

Annals of white-collar crime, James Altucher edition Felix Salmon

Frank Rich Joins New York Magazine New York. And Joe Nocera is taking his slot, apparently.

Why Obama is a pro-business president William Daley, Financial Times

Plan Would Erase All-Business Town New York Times

REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions By Demanding Bailouts And Taxpayer Subsidies (Part 1) ThinkProgress

Watchdog on Charles Koch Op-ed: The Hypocrisy is Palpable Public Campaign Action Fund

New York Times Punk’d By Anti-Union Plant (Updated) Keith Olbermann

A Union Education Wall Street Journal. Reader Lance N noted:

The first comment is wickedly funny.

So, if a public union has monopoly power, doesn’t the state havemonopsony power?
Also, if you have a problem with monopoly power, isn’t antitrust the right legal tool? Instead of randomly abrogating contracts

HSBC Halts U.S. Foreclosures After Joint Examination by Fed, OCC Bloomberg (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

How this $83 fountain pen helped save a family home from foreclosure FloridaForeclosureFruad (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

Credit Card Data Tells Mixed Story New York Times

Ex-Goldman director in insider case Financial Times. On the one hand, if the charges are accurate, this was incredibly stupid. And McKinsey was too tolerant of improprieties among senior people when I was there (I saw stuff papered over that would have been firing offenses at Goldman). The flip side is why Gupta and not a whole bunch other people too? Why not Steve Friedman, ex Goldman co-chariman who as NY Fed director bought Goldman shares based on inside information? This looks like a ritual sacrifice to preserve the fiction that the cops are on the beat.

Ex-McKinsey ‘High Priest’ Gupta Linked to Rajaratnam by SEC Case Bloomberg. Money quote:

A former managing director at Goldman Sachs described McKinsey yesterday as the psychiatrist-in-chief for corporate America. .”If Gupta is guilty, the person said, pointing out that the ”if” is necessary because the charges are so extraordinary, it means you can trust no one.”

Um, it’s taken people in high places this long to figure that out?

King says living standards may never recover from the crisis Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

A Microcosm of the Market Manipulation in the US and the Repeated Failure of Ideology Jesse (hat tip Francois T). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-02 at 4.10.20 AM

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  1. Graveltongue

    ‘Living standards may never recover.’
    When everyone cites the ‘success of capitalism’ as the improvement in living standards and then the governer of the Bank of England states, in no uncertain terms, that the standards of living may never return, does this not mean that capitalism has failed in one of it’s primary functions? Cancer is growth too.

    1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

      In my view, the answer to this question is no.
      It means that Capitalism is working fine and does what it was designed to do, which is to enrich a few.
      Capitalism never had as a goal to lift the living standards of everyone – the increase in living standards for many came from ‘socialist’ or social programs the capitalist did not and still do not approve of.
      Captitalism’s goal and purpose is to redistribute wealth to the top, i.e. it does accumulate ever more wealth with ever fewer people.
      You can now see Capitalism in its full beauty.

      1. Graveltongue

        Absolutely, Parvaneh, and as the entreched reinforce their positions the divide widens and collapse becomes ever more unavoidable.
        The point I was trying to make is that those who defend it, not always it’s primary benefactors, appear to think that the only alternative is a form of repressive socialism. To envisage society as such a simplistic duality is short sighted indeed.

        1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

          Exactly. And not only that. Most of us grew up in a world where Capitalism=good and Socialism=bad. But how many people actually know what Socialism entails or stands for, what it is and what it is not?

  2. Graveltongue

    I’ve been thinking about efficiency as the enemy of capitalism and I have come to an understanding. It is.
    When I discuss the topic of this systems short comings with friends they cite the better standard of living and/or the procrastination of our demise to ever later dates that those of us in the ‘developed’ world are all enjoying. They tend to associate this ‘success’ with capitalism. (Much like organised religion associates acts of kindness with god.) I think there was a time when this was true, just like there may have been a brief time in our history when the dream that was democracy was at the heart of those at the helm. But these moments were fleeting. Product from the great inventive minds of our times has been hijacked by investment and entrepreneurship. These ideas have found success because the market has made it so. What ideas would blossom and bear fruit if their realisation were not constricted by free market economics? What a world we might build if ‘money were no object’.

    1. Lyle

      Actually if you look back you find that J.P.Morgan the banker of the late 19th and early 20th century believed this. Efficiency allows one producer to undercut another and this is bad. Carniege Steel was the low cost producer, so Morgan created US Steel and bought them out to avoid product innovations. In fact if one wanted to blame someone for the demise of the US Steel industry one could do worse than JP Morgan. Innovation stopped because the market became an shared monopoly. The arch capitalist of all times felt competition was bad.

      1. DownSouth

        To define “capitalism” as consisting of the “free competition” of a large number of independent entrepreneurs with freedom of contract and trade is, of course, to speak of the past. A more enduring trait, and therefore one better fitted to be seized upon in a definition, is the major institution of modern society: private property in the means of production. Now rapid technological change, requiring heavy investments, further augments the gobbling up of the little by the big and this monopolization eventuates in an extremely rigid economic structure. Powerful corporations demand guarantees and subsidies from the state. Thus, in the era of monopolization “the administrative act” and not “the contract” becomes “the auxiliary guarantee of property.” Intervention becomes central, and: “who is to interfere and on whose behalf becomes the most important question for modern society.” In Germany, as seen by Neumann, National Socialism has tied the economic organization into the web of “industrial combinations run by the industrial magnates.” By means of the newer implementation of property, the administrative command, the cartellization of German business has proceeded rapidly. The Nazis saved the cartel system, whose rigidities were sorely beset by the depression. Since then their policies have consistently resulted in a further monopolization into the orbit of the big corporations. The cartels and the political authority have been welded together in such a way that private hands perform such crucial politico-economic tasks as the allocation of raw materials.

        “The Nazi Behemoth: Book Review of Franz Neumann’s
        Behemoth: The Structure and Function of National Socialism 1933-1944

      2. DownSouth

        Or a final example: the founding of the United States Steel Corporation in 1901. Viewed through Veblen’s eyes, the steel combine was a vast social machine for producing steel, an assemblage of plants, furnaces, rail lines, and mines under a common management for their more efficient coordination. But this was only a minor consideration in the eyes of the men who “made” U.S. Steel. The eventual monster company had real assets of some $682 million, but against this had been sold $303 of bonds, $510 million of preferred stock, and $508 million of common stock. The financial company, in other words, was twice as “big” as the real one, and nothing more lay behind its common stock than the intangible essence of “good will.” In the process of creating these intangibiles, however, J.P. Morgan and Company had earned a fee of $12.5 million, and subscription profits to underlying promoters had come to $50 million. Altogether, it cost $150 million to float the venture. All this might have been condoned had the new monopoly been used for the purpose Veblen had in mind—-as an enormously efficient machine for the provision of steel. It was not. For thirteen years steel rails were quoted at $80 a ton, whereas it cost less than half of that to make them. In other words, the whole gain in technological unification was subverted to the end of maintaining a structure of make-believe finance.
        –Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philsophers

  3. Toby

    Re: King says living standards may never recover from the crisis.

    Because, as we all know, money is wealth. You can take money with you, in any form — ‘precious’ metal or paper bill — to anywhere in the universe and live from it very well indeed. Magical stuff. More important than climate, soil, water, sunlight, air and life combined! Quite the invention!

    Even though we have the know-how and resources to redesign cities and transportation, to revolutionize education and the money system, we just don’t have the money. What a crying shame! If only there were some way of saving human civilization AND this wonderful system, then we’d be all right. But, sadly, something weird happened at the banks, and now all that precious money is gone, and, somehow, somehow, everyone everywhere is in debt. Weird.

    Ah well, them’s the breaks. It was fun while it lasted.

    1. Give Sympathize Control

      “Even though we have the know-how and resources to redesign cities and transportation, to revolutionize education and the money system, we just don’t have the money.”

      Yup. Even though the US alone has thus far thrown about $12 trillion into a bottomless pit since this financial crisis began. To say nothing of the trillions of dollars spent pumping up the housing bubble itself. To say nothing of the trillions of dollars spent pumping up the stock market bubbles in the Nineties and Naughties. To say nothing of the trillions of dollars spent on wars of choice and amassing a weapons stockpile capable of destroying humanity seven times over. Homo sapiens is the ape that knows better but doesn’t do better.

      1. Francois T

        “Even though we have the know-how and resources to redesign cities and transportation, to revolutionize education and the money system, we just don’t have the money.”

        Whenever someone in position of power state that “we just don’t have the money” the accurate translation is “This is not one of our priorities.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Speaking of education, it’s usually thought the more knowledge is good even though sometimes knowledge could be used by bad people or even by good people for bad purposes.

          What if instead of sometimes, it’s ALWAYS that the most powerful and the most state-of-knowledge knowledge is possessed by the rich and the powerful?

          1. Paul Repstock

            North Africa and the ME are perfect examples that Mr. King is right. There are others around the world. In most of the “impoverished countries” There is no real reason for the starvation and poverty (though we are told it is population). The Real Story in most of these countries is that external forces gained control of the land and the wealth of the nation. Those forces then proceeded to destroy the social fabric and impose a very steep income distribution, so that there could be no possibility of disturbing the status quo. Sadam Husein, Gaddafi, Mubarak, the list is endless… They were nothing more than puppets who served the purpose of keeping their people under control. Their military powers were always limited to keep them from getting out of hand. Their wealth was also controlled (witness seizure of assets- do you want to bet on Egyptians seeing Mubarak’s money?) Also this wealth was basically worthless within their own countries. As much as possible, these leaders and their families live outside of the pest holes they create.

  4. attempter

    Re thoughtcrime:

    None of that means anything, or even constitutes the slightest background noise, compared to the fact that in this cesspool what is and isn’t “criminal” and/or “antisocial” is dictated almost completely by wealth status.

    Not to mention the fact that a neurological defense is just another variation on the “I’m rich” defense, since only the rich are likely to be able to afford such lawyers and doctors. So these brain scans as well are the equivalent of bribing the judge.

    If we ever actually redeemed true economic democracy, then something like this might become meaningful. Until then it, and pretty much everything else science and technology “discovers”, is just an embellishment of class war.

    Re Jesse and the wolfpack (an insult to wolves):

    I’ve often pointed out how food production and distribution are naturally centered on subsistence agriculture and local/regional markets. Commodity agriculture is naturally a small market at most. But globalization has forced all of food production and distribution into this aggressive alien straitjacket.

    As this post describes, the entire real economy is the victim of the same process. The finance sector is naturally a miniscule epiphenomenon. In any rational and moral system it would be small and locally-based.

    But instead finance, as nothing more or less than a system of global organized crime, has hijacked the entire economy and society itself and forced those into the straitjacket of serving as its resource mine and vandal free-fire zone. This is the essence of what I mean by my term finance tyranny.

    Humanity is doomed unless we absolutely smash this tyranny and wipe it from the face of the earth.

  5. Aunt Deb

    Re Ex-McKinsey ‘High Priest’ Gupta — thank you for linking to this disheartening glimpse into the world of the uber-rich, Yves. Given the ingrown, incestuous relationships that are the hallmark of this world of boards and directorships and consultants and investors, I think it’s a measure of these people’s ability to control access to their secret world that there is anyone at all who thinks ‘ethical’ could ever be used to describe their relationships. Reading this article after reading the linked posting at Jesse’s Cafe Americain makes for sad and angering reading.

  6. Wild Bill

    Thanks for the link to the Altucher story by Felix Salmon. Sounded like a rap story, so I wrote a song about it:

    “Just Enough” by Fitty Dollar J:

    I’m Fitty Dollar J, gonna teach ya how to rap my way,
    I don’t sling no rock, I just push a bunch o’ crock.
    Been a crook from the get go, though I took down my say so,
    I’m a master self dealer, not so good a self squealer.

    Stevie Cohen changed my life, glad I never knew his wife,
    Hit ya wiff a Pacifi-ca, now I wield a hedge fund, duh!
    Don’t need no skillz ya jerk, got tole how da cellfone work,
    ‘Course I’m contro-versial, why’d you let me hold the purse, y’all?

    Runnin’ red lights, sleeping good at nights,
    Cuz, I read your email, popo knows I’m the big whale.
    Laughing at my large pay, I’m gonna save a life today,
    I’m rappin’ bout the small stuff, to ease my conscience just enough.

    1. craazyman

      I don’t know how to say “Hey Dude that’s pretty damn good!” in rap English. But it is!

  7. charlie

    I think the shock about Gupta is

    1) for Christ’s sake, it is McK
    2) According to the allegations, Gupta was NOT making money on this
    3) Why has it taken so long — this has been hanging out for a year. The case is built on phone records – those would be available in 30 days.

    I am shocked as well but suspect the SEC’s case is not as strong as they portray. They would have gone for more if they had it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wasn’t it reported that you can go to the SEC and ask them if there will be a charge against you and just pay a fine beforehand?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Hah, Gupta doesn’t work for a securities firm so he never got the memo :-)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Gutpa was an investor in Galleon funds. He did profit. You missed that part.

      1. Hu Flung Pu

        That was my question. My understanding (and I have a Series 7 license so I’m *supposed* to understand this!) has always been that merely passing along inside information was not illegal in the criminal sense (although the company involved might have a CIVIL case against the leaker because presumably the leaker owed it a duty of confidentiality and some harm was caused). Rather, it was any explicit or implicit “quid pro quo” that arose from the leaker passing along the inside information to the person who used it for profit. So, I’m assuming that had Gupta not been an investor in the Galleon funds, this would be a very different case as the quid pro quo element would be very difficult to prove. Is that correct?

    3. craazyman

      Not sure how anyone could be shocked at what these zombies do anymore.

      How can anybody not see that they’re all possessed by demons. This is the biggest case of demonic possession since Southern Man and the Stars and Bars and Jim Crow.

      What we need is a massive large-scale exorcism. I noted that Minister Farrahkan the other day was touting L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology as a savior-path for the white race. I have to admit, I think there’s a sliver of truth in that, but just a sliver.

      But Minister Farrahkan, even though he’s a lunatic, seems to channel a certain kind of truth, as I see he understands polydimensional spiritual physics.

      None of these McKinsey zombies or other money zombies understand anything but a Cartesian Coordinate System, which is really repulsive. They probably dream in 2 dimensions, too. Strange how space gets project in dreams, if you really think about it. It’s nothing like 3 point perspective.

      They are all zombies and if they ever awake this side of the Big Sleep it will be a miracle of God.

  8. DownSouth

    Re: “A Microcosm of the Market Manipulation in the US and the Repeated Failure of Ideology” Jesse

    Jesse said:

    And when the next financial crisis comes along, perhaps the people will not be so complacent and gullible, and see the real culprits behind the ideological scapegoats and fog of talk show hosts. But I’m not betting on it.

    This raises an important question, for it’s always seemed to me like the “ideological scapegoats and fog” emanate from both ends of the political spectrum.

    I’ve often said that the New Left and neoliberals are partners in crime.

    Nancy Fraser, in an article that JT Faraday cited from the New Left Review the other day, which can be found here, certainly does nothing to disabuse me of this notion. On the contrary, Fraser only serves to reinforce this view.

    Anyone who would make the following statement as late as March 2009, as Fraser did, after Obama’s performance on TARP and his appointment of Geithner and Summers to the top economic slots in his regime, is not terribly perceptive:

    Certainly, the global financial crisis and the decidedly post-neoliberal response to it by leading states…mark the beginning of neoliberalism’s end as an economic regime. The election of Barak Obama may signal the decisive repudiation, even in the belly of the beast, of neoliberalism as a political project.

    But that’s just a start, because it gets worse. Much worse.

    The intent of Fraser’s pieces seems to be two-fold:

    1) To make sure that feminists play no active role in ending neoliberalism, in the belief that neoliberaism will somehow just go away by itself, and

    2) To discredit the feminist consensus that emerged out of 1960s activism.

    Fraser accurately sums up the later as follows:

    All told, second-wave feminism espoused a transformative political project, premised on an expanded understanding of injustice and a systemic critique of capitalistic society. The movement’s most advanced currents saw their struggles as multi-dimensional aimed simultaneously against economic exploitation, status hierarchy and political subjection. To them, moreover, feminism appeared as part of a broader emancipatory project, in which struggles against gender injustices were necessarily linked to struggles against racism, imperialism, homophobia and class domination, all of which required transformation of the deep structures of capitalist society.

    To which Fraser immediately goes on to say:

    As it turned out, that project remained largely stillborn, a casualty of deeper historical forces, which were not well understood at the time.

    Of course this last statement is not true at all. The reason the project was “largely stillborn” was not because of “deeper historical forces,” but because it was subverted and co-opted by the New Left and denizens of the ivory tower like Fraser.

    Here’s Robert Hughes’ scathing critique of the New Left in Culture of Complaint:

    Hence, in the universities, what matters is the politics of culture, not the politics of the distribution of wealth and of real events in the social sphere, like poverty, drug addiction and the rise of crime. The academic left is much more interested in race and gender than in class. And it is very much more interested in theorizing about gender and race than actually reporting on them. This enables its savants to feel they are on the cutting edge of social change, without doing legwork outside of academe; the “traditional left” has been left far behind, stuck with all that unglamorous and twice-told stuff about the workers. It is better to rummage around in pop culture, showing how oppressive structures are “inscribed” in some of its forms and “questioned” by others—-a process inseparable, of course, from the protean energies of capitalism, seeking to re-invent its oppressive self every day through popular culture in order to find new and better ways of turning us into docile consumers.

    Two problems with Fraser’s framing of the issues jump out at us. One, New Left feminism, despite what Fraser would lead one to believe, does not constitute the depth and breadth of feminism. While I’m no student of feminism, I’m quite sure that lurking around out there somewhere are still some who cling to traditional feminism, even though Fraser may choose to ignore them. After all, some feminists, unlike Fraser and her New Left cohorts, have to live in the real world and do not enjoy the luxury of being walled off in their academic cocoons. And two, Hughes published Culture of Complaint back in 1993, and it has taken Fraser until 2009 to wake up to the fact that the New Left was off on some mindless bunny trail. It has taken the New Left almost two decades to become aware of, as she puts it, “a capitalism so indiscriminate that it would instrumentalize any perspective whatever,” something that Hughes was fully cognizant of and warned of 16 years before.

    Fraser’s lack of perspicacity is certainly bad enough, but her mindless repetition of neoliberal shibboleths, coming this late in the game, places her way beyond the pale. Instead of critiquing what neoliberals do, she uncritically accepts what they say. And by doing this, and by mindlessly repeating neoliberal myths, she further propagandizes and perpetuates neoliberalism’s “capitalism and freedom” canard. Thus Fraser’s role seems to be that of a neoliberal Trojan horse deep within the feminist fortress. Take this from Fraser, for instance:

    In place of dirigisme, they [neoliberals] promoted privatization and deregulation; in place of public provision and social citizenship, ‘trickle-down’ and ‘personal responsibility’; in place of the welfare and developmental states, the lean, mean ‘competition state’.

    Where has Fraser been for the last 34 years? She has swallowed the libertarian fiction of “capitalism and freedom” hook, line and sinker. Didn’t neoliberalism’s true agenda become brilliantly clear in 1975 when Milton Friedman and Frederick von Hayek traipsed down to Chile to throw their unbridled and enthusiastic support behind the murdering military dictator Augusto Pinochet?

    Neoliberalism’s agenda has never been “capitalism and freedom,” but the imposition of a grotesque double standard. Neoliberals never “promoted” the things Fraser says they did, but instead promoted “deregulation” for the neoliberal over-class, and an authoritarian police state for everyone else; “personal responsibility” for the poor, working- and middle-class and abrogation of any and all accountability for the neoliberal overlords; “welfare” for well-connected corporations and austerity for the masses; a “lean, mean, ‘competition state’” for the hoi polloi and a nanny state for the corporate wards of the government.

    Fraser further reaffirms neoliberalsim’s Big Lie in her conclusion when she ruminates:

    To that end, let us return to the question: what, if anything, explains our ‘dangerous liaison’ with neoliberalism?….[I]s there, as I suggested earlier, some subterranean elective affinity between feminism and neoliberalism? If any such affinity does exist, it lies in the critique of traditional authority…. In the current moment, these two critiques of traditional authority, the one feminist, the other neoliberal, appear to converge.

    But Fraser gets it all wrong. New Left feminism is not mistaken in its “critique of traditional authority,” but in it’s unbelievable naïveté. Neoliberalism was never a legitimate “critique of traditional authority,” but an orgy of what Orwell called “Newspeak,” “doublethink” and “reality control.” New Left feminism failed to see through this ruse and the emergence of a new authority that was even more authoritarian and oppressive than the one it replaced. And perhaps this is so because the New Left was not just gullible, but complicit in this deception. It’s never easy to tell the difference between incompetence and malice, but maybe the New Left is complicit in neoliberalism’s bait and switch because its own motives are not so pure.

    Martin Luther King, wedged between democracy and Black Nationalism, warned of this eloquently when he wrote in “Facing the Challenge of a New Age”:

    There is the danger that those of us who have lived so long under the yoke of oppression, those of us who have been exploited and trampled over, those of us who have had to stand amid the tragic midnight of injustice and indignities will enter the new age with hate and bitterness. But if we retaliate with hate and bitterness, the new age will be nothing but a duplication of the old age. We must blot out the hate and injustice of the old age with the love and justice of the new.

    King reiterated this warning years later in a commencement address he delivered to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania:

    As I have said on so many instances, it is not enough to struggle for the new society. We must make sure that we make the psychological adjustment required to live in that new society. This is true of white people, and it is true of Negro people. Psychological adjustment will save white people from going into the new age with old vestiges of prejudice and attitudes of white supremacy. It will save the Negro from seeking to substitute one tyranny for another.

    I know sometimes we get discouraged and sometimes disappointed with the slow pace of things. At times we begin to talk about racial separation instead of racial integration, feeling that there is no other way out. My only answer is that the problem never will be solved by substituting one tyranny for another. Black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy, and God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men. God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race and in the creation of a society where all men can live together as brothers, where every man will respect the dignity and the worth of human personality.

    There will be no economic justice in the world until, as King put it, we “rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns for all humanity.” This philosophy stands at the heart of the feminist consensus that emerged out of the 1960s, the same consensus that Fraser and the New Left now find so woefully inadequate.

    Fraser does conclude her piece with some good advice:

    I am suggesting, then, that this is a moment in which feminists should think big.

    I agree. Feminists should “think big” by giving Fraser and her New Left cohort, which in practice is little more than a rearguard for neoliberalism, a swift kick in the ass. They need to be told, in no uncertain terms, to go sow their moral and intellectual confusion somewhere else. The feminist consensus that emerged during the 1960s is still valid. What are lacking are the moral conviction and the clarity and nimbleness of thought to see it through.

    1. dictateursanguinaire

      –> Nader’s quote about “gonad politics”…of course, he got drilled in the press for that…

      1. DownSouth

        Some gay rights activists see past the propaganda.

        Take Michael Petrelis, co-founder of The Lavender Hill Mob, a forerunner to ACT UP, for instance. Here he is an interview in the Greenwich Village Gazette:

        Jack Nichols: Who are you voting for in the presidential race this year?

        Michael Petrelis: Why, Ralph Nader, of course! I have never bought the argument of voting for the lessor of evils. I want to help build a third party in this country because the Democrats and GOP are really opposite sides of the same coin. I will grant you Al Gore is moderately better than George Bush, but that is not enough for me to pull the lever for Gore.

        When gay Democrats bring up Nader’s “gonadal politics” quote of 1996 as a way of saying he is not our friend, I chuckle. See, I remember in 1992 raising the issue of how Clinton as Arkansas attorney general in 1977 allowed a queer-specific sodomy law to be enacted. Yet, gay leaders in 1992 said Clinton would be gay friendly if we elected him. Why was Clinton’s rotten gay record as governor deemed acceptable, but one little quote from Nader is not?

        To me, the answer is how our leaders are beholden to the Democratic Party, by and large.

        Jack Nichols: But isn’t that just throwing away your vote?

        Michael Petrelis: Not at all. My vote always count and is never tossed into the trash. Actually, my vote for Nader counts many times over. First, it counts for Nader. Second, it counts as vote against Gore. Third, it counts against Bush. Sound to me like my vote is three times, at least.

        So much of Nader’s activism over the decades has helped bring about equality in housing, banking, social services, environmental law and consumer protections, that I proudly will cast my vote for Nader as a gay AIDS activist.

    2. Hugh

      Probably 95% of what gets published in academia is worthless. The maxim may be “Publish or perish” but there is nothing really about the quality of what gets published. It can be dreck but as long as it is peer reviewed dreck, it is treated as gold.

      While charlatanism is rampant in our universities, in key areas we see that this charlatanism often has a purpose beyond personal aggrandizement. It fulfills Upton Sinclair’s observation that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Fraser is just part of the noise machine of kleptocracy explaining how decades of looting are actually good for us, and not to get in the way.

      1. vanishing mediator

        Hugh said: “While charlatanism is rampant in our universities, in key areas we see that this charlatanism often has a purpose beyond personal aggrandizement.”

        American academics like to pretend that they are left-wing or radical, but in reality the vast majority of them are nothing more than cogs in what Hugh described as “the noise machine of kleptocracy”.

        For the tenure-track and the tenured professors in America (even the full-time visiting professors), life is much better than for the adjunct professor. Even if they call themselves “leftist” (as so many do), they would never agree to a real Union that was inclusive of adjuncts because this would threaten their own privileges and the hierarchy. American pseudo-leftist academics are unreflectively capitalist – vain and greedy, promoting themselves and competing, focusing on the perks they get for not crossing the line (paid sabbaticals, etc.).

        In short, the American pseudo-leftist academic is incapable of any true ethico-political act. Because their position in the socio-symbolic order is everything to them, they cannot even consider the symbolic suicide implied by the authentic act. So they only talk socialism – but the last thing they want is real solidarity. They have none of what Brecht described as “love of the third thing”, the shared commitment to the cause.

  9. Eureka Springs

    I suspect the scavenging nature of the Bald Eagle is understated in today’s distressing article. Having observed them from Arkansas to Alaska over the years it would be difficult to overstate the amount of time I’ve witnessed such behavior even when abundant fresh food is a few feet away.

    Perhaps they are eating poison in the dump and elsewhere…. perhaps overpopulation is (of us and them) a problem. Eagles are everywhere… ten years ago if i saw one or two a year for a day or so it was amazing… stop the car, pull over the boat! Now as i sit and type this out I can’t count all of the eagles outside my windows. (at least 25) every day all winter long. I call them, have names for over dozen who return every year.

    1. Paul Repstock mostly have it right. There are other factors, including believe it or not “Denial”. If on is sufficiently concerned about the fate of ‘the poor blameless animals’, then one is too busy to worry about the other things happening in the world?? How do you say, shove your head deeper in the sand. I could go on for pages concerning the drivel in this whole scenario (how the as you say, the eagle population has grown and the fact that creeks and rivers have been built over so the floods carry all the dead fish to the ocean, and how some eagles always had hard winters)

      The bottom line is the existence of the Mountain Aire Avian Rescue Society..Do I smell empire building?? Nah, it’s just a diversionary tactic.

  10. Mike Easterly

    I can’t find the comment on the “Union Education” article. Anyone got a link? (The WSJ puts them on the bottom, left-hand corner of each post.)

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why pro-business presidents?

    This –

    Is it a government

    of the corporations,
    for the corporattions
    by the corporations?

    Are we the United Corporations of America (UCA)?

    And when they raise the banner of ‘No Taxation without Representation,’ the game will be over…with corporations runnning for office, even the highest, or else, they don’t pay any tax.

    Is it also a government

    of the rich people
    for the rich people
    by the rich people?

    Sometimes, like Egypt now and Libya tomorrow, a government

    of the angry people
    for the angry people
    by the angry people

    When anger is the emotionally violent energy used for change.

    But when your goal is the pursuit of happiness, you look forward to a government

    of the happy people
    for the happy people
    by the happy people

    Still there is a danger in that unhappy people might be discriminated against, and it’s better to have a government

    of the people
    for the people
    by the people.

    1. Rex

      I was reading the pro-business Obama piece from FT and wondering why the tone sounded like a sunshine vacation ad. Looking for a punchline to the joke, I read on and I got to the last line:

      “The writer is chief of staff to President Barack Obama and a former commerce secretary”

      Oh. (Gag) Wish I had realized that at the beginning.

  12. Michael Iverson

    Regarding Mr Salmon’s article about Mr. Altucher: are there many people in the financial industry that whisper in agreement with Mr. Altucher? Mr. Altucher’s idea of making insider trading legal could have a lot of silent supporters.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Doh! I hope you are not so naive that you think insider trading is illegal. What is illegal is getting caught at it. This catching occurs when someone who is not sufficiently conected gets an inflated ego.

      The ‘Only’ way to stop people from profiting from special information is to give everyone access to “all” the information…Not gonna happen..:(

      Therefore, the only other way, it to make investors aware that the game is rigged and that their only function is as grease between the gears. Not going to happen either. The investor is the justification and the lifeblood of this entire Without the private investor to act as “The greater Fool”, it would not be possible to have an equities market. The institutions and fund could trade spite all day, but would never be able to justify a price.

  13. Matthew Saroff

    Yves asks, “The flip side is why Gupta and not a whole bunch other people too? Why not Steve Friedman, ex Goldman co-chariman who as NY Fed director bought Goldman shares based on inside information? This looks like a ritual sacrifice to preserve the fiction that the cops are on the beat.

    I don’t mean to be excessively ethnically sensitive, but the only big fish who have gotten caught in the nets are people who would not be considered white by your average American.

    Is this a coincidence? Or do prosecutors think that South Asians make better patsies?

  14. Max424

    re: Chinese airports inhabited only by ghosts

    I must admit; that China is building airports, at this stage of the peak oil game, seems pretty weird. But, think of it like this; maybe the plan is to just go ahead and perpetually subsidize the struggling bastards. Basically, run the whole shebang, the airports, and the airlines, as a public service — kinda like the UPS — and take the yearly multi-billion petro/yuan loss; for the good of the country.

    Also, if you are prescient China, you leave open the future possibility that you will be one of the few nations that has the ability to fly its common citizen around. Hell, by 2030, things could be so bad, jet fuel wise, China might be the only nation flying — might, in fact, be doing everybody’s flying for them.

    Even if the master plan — to dominate the world’s airways — doesn’t work out, oh well, it’s just a smigeon of excess fiat currency going up in smoke. In other words, take a shot, what have you got to lose?

    I’ve come to this conclusion, watching China: it’s not how much fiat currency you create (you can always burn the surplus), it’s who you create the fiat currency for, and to what purpose.

  15. Hugh

    Frank Rich is a major league yawn. He invariably writes pieces on subjects weeks or months after they have been thoroughly analyzed on the web and still manages to pull the majority of his punches.

    William Daley thinks Obama is pro-business? I didn’t see that one coming. /s

    1. Nicole

      I think Obama’s new Chief of Staff is from a TBTF bank. That sends the wrong message to people.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Aletheia; I fear that is a waste of time.
      Who would they pay?
      Who would enforce it it?
      Who would watch the enforcers?

      We don’t have a thousand years to to resolve the legal and financial wrangling.

      We have only one choice, shut them down!
      I trade, but I have no love for the market managers. The game is rigged because they write their own rules as they go along.

      It is like trying to negotiate with government..Doh! it is their game and you are paying for them to abuse you.

      When in a pit with a viper, it is best to forget the nobility of the “natural world”.

  16. leroguetradeur

    The piece about electric cars was unconvincing. The basic problem is the same as the wind turbine advocacy problem: the failure to scale, and exaggerated representations of what is possible from the technology at reasonable cost.

    No-one doubts that a few batteries can be recycled. The question is whether the degree of recycling that will be required to replace two thirds or more of the cars on the roads will be practical. No-one doubts that an electric car can be built which will do 100+ miles on a charge. The question is, can you build one at reasonable cost which will do that while also running air conditioning or heating.

    The fundamental problem with this sort of account by the green lobby is the failure to match ends and means. If it is really necessary to dramatically reduce fossil fuel consumption, you cannot do it by retaining all the present social structure, cars, shopping malls, suburbs, car commuting. You have to make wholesale, huge changes to how people live. Not just to where they live, though this will be essential, and will involve massive population moves into high density housing served by mass transit, but also to how agriculture is done – we will have to go back to the era of the mixed farm, manure based fertilizer, crop rotation. And to where they work, which means where business is located, which means an end to industrial parks unreachable except by car.

    It can be done. We lived like that in the early 1900s before Ford. It may even have been in many ways a better and healthier lifestyle. But that is what it will take.

    The thing that is also missing from the article is the fact that even if the US did this kind of thing, the impact on Global Warming as forecast by the IPCC would be negligible from everyone going to electric cars, and very small from stopping all carbon emissions.

    So quite why moving everyone around, rehousing them, redoing the whole urban and suburban physical infrastructure to lower emissions would be such a priority is not at all clear. There are probably – no, there are certainly – lots more important ways of improving human wellbeing in the US.

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