Links 7/7/11

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Yellowstone National park grizzly bear ‘kills hiker’ BBC

The emotional depth of a cow Guardian

7 days in email hell IT World. This makes me feel less bad about my disaster of an inbox (and don’t tell me about filtering, I’d never read anything that was filtered).

Murdoch investors take fright Financial Times

Fleet Street is not above the law John Gapper

Building Boom in China Stirs Fears of Debt Overload New York Times

The crisis is back again in full force Eurointelligence

Europe lashes out over downgrades Financial Times

Fear of Junk Status: Europe Seeks to Free Itself from Rating Agencies’ Grip Der Spiegel

In debt talks, Obama offers Social Security cuts Washington Post. I want him out of office now. He is managing to make Bush look less awful by the day.

Killing Old People Is Fiscally Responsible David Swanson

The Great Recession, Part II Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate (hat tip reader May S)

The 60-Year Unemployment Scandal Andy Kroll, TomDispatch

Eliot Spitzer Signs Off from CNN Gawker

LPS CEO Resigns Due to Health Concerns

Report: $60 Billion Mortgage Servicer Settlement being Discussed Calculated Risk. The story is effectively only in the New York Post; even a WSJ story on a Barclays report on it says no one believes the rumor. That means the banks are not behind it. They’d be able to get the story placed and get it treated seriously. My contacts say it’s mainly people who are not credible pushing it, although the one exception fell in with CR’s take: that any big number would consist of a teeny cash payment, the rest would be mod credits (which would include past mods!). And the settlement would be tax deductible too. The only way this gets done would be for a broad release. So to save Tom Miller’s face, he is willing to give the store away. Charming.

Ideology and economics Ed Harrison

Economists: laissez-faire or plain lazy? Dean Baker, Guardian (hat tip reader John M)

Antidote du jour (hat tip Crocodile Chuck). Another Taronga Zoo picture:

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  1. Rex

    Re Cow story. “Within any herd there is a pecking order that results in cows coming into the milking parlour every time in more or less the same position in the queue.”

    This reminded me of something I watched once with birds. It was autumn and birds were gathering into large flocks. I happened to be looking out the window of the building where I worked. There was a long stretch of wire between two poles and except for a few gaps of several feet, the wire was covered with birds standing right next to each other. A few birds were flying around the area.

    One of the flying birds came in to land on the wire, but the bird didn’t land in one of the open stretches of wire; he flew right into the middle of a long line of birds and bumped one out like a billiard shot. The bird chased out of his spot flew in a purposeful loop, up, around and back where he bumped out the bird that had been next to him. That bird made another loop and bumped the next one. The process continued for quite a while, one bird at a time bumping the next and slowly sorting the whole line of birds down one to the left.

    Quite a thing to witness. Pecking order carried out in a way I never would have guessed could happen outside of a cartoon.

    1. tyaresun

      Great story Rex. Any Indian can tell you about cows and emotions. A calf was born while I was a little kid visiting our village in the summer. I spent quite a bit of time playing with it. It would go crazy every summer when it saw me visit our village. I would spend a few weeks each summer at most, but it remembered me and all the fun we had the past summers.

        1. Fifi

          Don’t worry. Your burgers probably do not contain any beef. Remember this is America after all. No idea what’s in our plates.

  2. Everythings Jake

    Obama is a sociopath. David Swanson’s link effectively telling this murderer to go fuck himself is the only appropriate response.

  3. dearieme

    The USA was born to avoid paying tax;it may die to avoid paying Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

    1. ambrit

      Dear dearieme;
      It can be argued that America was born out of a conflict between Mercantilist Elites. Taxes were the proximate trigger. (Remember that Thomas Paine was roundly castigated as a dangerous radical by all the elites of the day. His appeal was to the ‘Commons.’)
      Todays conflict is now plainly between ‘Elites’ and ‘Commons.’ (Think Wall Street vs. Main Street.) Taxes are once again being used as a trigger for ‘revolutionary’ struggle. This time however, the struggle is ‘counter-revolutionary’ in nature. We ‘Commons’ need to get our act together and if necessary, establish some sort of ‘New Elite’ to oppose the Reactionary forces presently at play. I’ll not pretend to have the answer to that question. Asking the question at all will be a game changer.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s the way to go.

        Don’t answer.

        Just ask.

        It’s more important to ask questions.

        A good teacher’s final exam should not be a bunch of questions, but a blank page for the students to list the questions to ask relating to the subject. The students should then be graded on thd quality of the questions they ask.

        As it is, today, we don’t ask enough questions.

        Everyone is too eager to shown his, sorry, or her, answers.

  4. Rex

    “In debt talks, Obama offers Social Security cuts Washington Post. I want him out of office now. He is managing to make Bush look less awful by the day.”

    Arrgh! It is quite appalling. His strategy: always begin negotiations with a firm offer 1 cm from the worst potential outcome.

    It boggles the mind that so many Dems still see him as well-meaning but stymied by those dratted Repubs. And at the same time he is often painted on the other side as a demented socialist (who is doing a bunch of stuff I’d like to see him actually do). Clearly he’s (at best) an elephant in donkey’s clothing. Most likely just a bought and paid for tool of the kleptocracy.

    I know it is a horrible thing to say, but it seems our first black President couldn’t touch the steadfastness and principles of someone like M. L. King, but rather is walking more like the path laid down by Stepin Fetchit.

    Bush was the great “decider” (hey hey). Obummer is the great Collaborator.

    1. Ignim Brites

      “… our first black President…is walking more like the path laid down by Stepin Fetchit.” Wow, does this illustrate the triumph of ideological racism. Obama’s problem isn’t that he is a “bought and paid for tool of the kleptocracy.” It is that he is Ivy League educated.

      1. true colors

        Yves went to the same university as Obama. I admit that having an ivy league education is a huge strike– just look at the past few presidents. But Obama’s collaboration goes way beyond the conformism demanded by the ivies. It’s no coincidence that the university of Chicago home of Milton Friedman, Leo Strauss and the law and economics school gave Obama a faculty position with truly minimal effort on Obama’s part.

    2. gus

      Finally…others are saying what I’ve been preaching.

      The noise from the gopers has always been that O is a leftist, Muslim, anti war commie…

      when he is a tool… a house n!gger for the establishment. I don’t regret the racial slur… he has the red coat, high boots and lantern of a lawn jockey for the MIC and Wall St.

      What a scammer… I voted for Louis Farrakhan and got steve Erkel.

      1. ambrit

        Dear gus;
        You voted for Louis Farrakhan and got the Republican Ulema instead? Aim higher than L K my friend. Farrakhan followed the path of Elijah Muhhamad. Malcom X transcended both, and earned martyrdom as a result. It’s not race that is at issue here, it’s class, in all its multifarious guises.
        As a better man once said; “Keep the faith baby.”

    3. Cedric Regula

      The Rs would have to run Attila the Hun to get me to vote for Obama…and they probably will.

      Obama in 2012 campaign speech:

      “I am your president, folks. My ass is made in America! Forget the hope and changy. I take the pounding for all you good people!”

      1. BondsOfSteel

        I’ve been wondering what his campaign will look like. Can you imagaine Obama under a ‘Hope’ poster? People chanting ‘Yes we can’?

        I’m guessing they will be chanting ‘We can make a reasonable try’ and the poster will say ‘Not Crazy’.

    4. propertius

      His strategy: always begin negotiations with a firm offer 1 cm from the worst potential outcome.

      I would frame that as “total capitulation, followed by further concessions” except that I don’t really think his desired outcome is any different from that of his so-called opponents.

      1. Obamabot

        Come come. To be fair he starts 1 cm from the worst possible outcome and then bargains himself down to total capitulation. Then he puts his finger in the air to determine the Republican zeitgeist, and makes further concessions based on what he thinks they might like. Then the whole thing is run by his industry affiliates where some fine tuning occurs.

        It’s a complicated process and can’t be summed up so neatly in 2 words.

  5. jo6pac

    I want him out of office now. He is managing to make Bush look less awful by the day.

    I wanted him out office before he got there and No I didn’t want the crazy people. 0 is finishing ronnie ray gunne legacy and Main Street is doomed sorry to say.

    Thank Ives for the hard work

    1. Rex

      “ronnie ray gunne”

      Wow, haven’t heard that since the 60’s. Thanks for the flashback.

        1. ambrit

          Can I suggest that it came from the ’50s? (Calling Captain Midnight! The Space Cadets are lost in the ozone! Come in Captain!)

        2. Rex

          A good nickname has staying power.

          In 1967 my government made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. As a result, I found myself engaged in a walking tour of central Vietnam during 1968 and 1969.

          To feed my need for knowledge, I got myself a subscription to the LA Free Press, a hippie, leftist newspaper out of LA. I enjoyed having the government bring my paper out to me in the jungle on a resupply chopper.

          Reading the Freep is where I came to know the then governor as Ronny Raygun. (I was not a Californian.)

          So he was Ray-Gun while he was messing up colleges and putting the bums back to work in Cal in the 60’s. He did have some other gig in the 80’s, I hear.

    2. Susan the other

      Give him a little leeway. Obama was dealt the worst hand in history. Worse than Lincoln. He is going after these things as best he can. Maybe his best isn’t good enough, but we will see.

      As far as Stiglitz goes, he’s at the apex in my pantheon. But I’m concerned when he says that the EU and the US must return to “robust growth.” Not that I enjoy this awful depression. Its just that I do not want us to return to mindless robustness and halucination. I want us to begin anew with a serious dedication to what William Rees, today here, called human ecology. Let that be robust. We can do this.

      1. Billions for me, None for you

        Obama really is doing the best he can…for me, not for you.

      2. propertius

        Obama was dealt the worst hand in history

        This may well be the single most absurd sentence I have ever read – and I’ve been reading for an awfully long time.

  6. Ignim Brites

    The grizzly killing in Yellowstone illuminates a basic fact. City slickers are not welcome in most areas of our national parks. Unfortunately, many more deaths will be required to drive this point home.

      1. justanobserver

        Yellowstone is still relatively safe.
        It attracts a _huge_ number of people and has a very large brown bear population and yet this is the first fatality in some time.

        However, it sounds like they were not carrying spray which would have helped. Running was not a great idea either. Most probably, they should have turned back when they first saw it.

        It’s spring, the bears are hungry, and there are lots of moms with cubs.

        No disrespect to the tragedy, but I’m glad that it appears they will not be killing the bear.

        1. g. adams

          The spray is ineffective on grizzlies. Also you can’t out run them or outclimb them. As you said, the best thing would be to get away from them as soon as you notice them.

          People feeding bears in Yellowstone is the huge problem. Once bears see people as a source of food bear attacks escalate. Feeding bears includes not leaving food and toiletries around a campsite where bears can get them.

          1. justanobserver

            The spray is effective, I’m not sure where you get your information. here’s a link (anecdotal).


            Probably you are confusing it’s effectiveness with the ability of people to use it properly. The chances that you are going to use it properly when a pissed off brown bear is 10 ft from you are low. The other problem is that a bear WILL RETURN. And the effectiveness drops, i.e. they get used to it. The idea is that it’s a last ditch defense. The best plan is to avoid trouble in the first place, and if that means that you give up on the hike you were planning, well that’s too damn bad. Live to hike another day.

            as for people feeding the wildlife – that is, in my opinion, the biggest problem there is.

          2. g. adams

            That and if you spray into the wind, you end up disabling yourself while making your body extra tasty to the bear.

        2. propertius

          I’m glad that it appears they will not be killing the bear.

          So am I, but I’d be gladder if they released her in the Capitol while Congress is in session.

          1. Ignim Brites

            Seems like Long Island would be a more effective sanctuary for this grizzly and many more to come.

    1. Tertium Squid


      “The husband reportedly told his wife to run and she did so. And that’s when the bear attacked and killed the man,” Mr Nash said.

      Good man.

      Yves, Why does your headline put the end in scare quotes? Does the fact that the grizzly killed the guy need qualification?

        1. Tertium Squid

          Uh, once the encounter began the guy generally did things “right” and he’s dead. Animals aren’t simplistic computers that respond predictably to stimulus.

          His wife ran but she was the survivor.

          What I admire is that the guy’s protective instinct was as strong as the bear’s.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I copy and paste headlines. BBC may have changed it since I posted, but that was the headline when I read it.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The problem with composition is that one person going back to nature is all fun and cute (and dangerous to himself as this sad case shows), but billions of anthropocentric humans all going back to nature will trample nature to death.

      Dorothy, we can not go home any more.

      We are condemned to live out our days in our articifical cities where we will still trample nature to death, but at least we don’t have to witness it first hand.

      1. justanobserver

        humans are trampling nature to death just fine from the confines of their homes.

  7. Jim

    The great recession 2.

    “I was among those who hoped that, somehow, the financial crisis would teach Americans (and others) a lesson about the need for greater equality, stronger regulation, and a better balance between the market and government. Alas, that has not been the case. On the contrary, a resurgence of right-wing economics, driven by ideology and special interests, once again threatens the global economy—or at least the economies of Europe and North America, where these ideas continue to flourish.”

    Joe could have left it at “special interests” and maybe added “co-opted sociopaths” working for the special interests office.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When one elite takes on another elite, they should leave the little guys out of it.

      When they say more regulation, it usually ends up the little guys getting regulated with the elite finding some loopholes.

      And when they say more balance betweeen the market and government, what happens is the little guys’ market gets extra government with the elite again finding a way out.

      1. franzi

        Free markets run on unfair competition. Any Chicago school economist will tell you as much.

  8. scotty

    “On your death bed, perhaps many many years from now, the horror of the pain you inflicted will cause you to scream out in bitter agony: ‘Fuck the fiscal good! The human good! What about the human good!'”

    –David Swanson

    David Swanson, don’t you know anything about evil? Obama will have cloned himself many times and will be telling his mini-me’s to keep up the fight against social security and medicare on his death bed. Being Obama clones they will obey.

  9. John B

    Re “I want him out of office now.”

    I’m starting to entertain the horrible possibility of voting for Obama’s Republican opponent, the crazier the better. The reasoning might be 1) Dem policymakers will keep moving right until punished at the polls, 2) A Republican president will get elected sooner or later anyway with catastrophic results – better sooner, and 3) we already have essentially a Romney administration. Can someone talk me out of this stupidity? Are there any good discussions of this on the web?

    1. 10leggedshadow

      I’m with you John B, let the Republicans get into office and crash the system, then those stupid idiots will finally realize the consequences of their actions. Democracy is dead, let’s crash the system.

      1. mezcal

        If the goal is to finish crashing the system then why would you want to change horses now?

        Four more years, baby!

        1. franzi

          except that the goal is to siphon every last cent of wealth into the hands of the people who make multimillion dollar campaign contributions, many of them foreigners, and then leave you hanging out to dry.

          But hey. Whatever floats your boat Daddy-O.

          1. Albert W.

            Don’t vote for the Republicans. Any vote you give to either party enhances their legitimacy.

            Vote for a third party. But do not vote Democrat. They already think they can wipe the floor with you and you’ll come back and beg for more. Which is what you do when you vote Democrat.

    2. Eureka Springs

      IMho, You are missing the opportunity yourself. Yves actually invited such conversation with her remark. Both criminal monied partys are just that. Criminal. Stop negotiating with errorists. As long as you/we do that, they win.

      The Shock Doctrine continues unabated.

      1. votar

        That’s right. And you will have wasted your vote on an equally evil D/R candidate when there will be some perfectly good third party candidates to vote for.

    3. PhilK

      I’m with John B. Democrats can only be counted on to defend Democratic programs when a Republican attacks them. When a supposed Democrat attacks Democratic programs, Democrats just go along with whatever “their leader” says.

      1. John B

        Good point. Democratic politicians and ambitious activists cannot be counted on to stop the madness – committing political regicide is political suicide for them. Something grassroots like MoveOut would be needed. But are significant numbers of Democrats ready for that? I’m not sure I am. I remember detesting those who voted for Nader.

      2. Albert W.

        No, the Democrats do not defend against Republican onslaught when they are out of power. Just look at the Bush years. The Democrats authorized and funded his wars and gargantuan military budget, and sat pat as he deregulated financial, environmental, and consumer protection laws, and rubber stamped his assault on program for torture, wiretapping, military tribunals, suspension of habeous corpus, etc. The list goes on and on.

        The Democrats did nothing to stop the Bush agenda and have embraced it now that they are in power. What on earth makes you think they are a check on Republican onslaught? They are enablers.

  10. EmilianoZ

    Chris Hedges reviews the documentary film “Page One: Inside the New York Times”. He worked there for 15 years.


    [b]The Times, like Harvard University, where I attended graduate school, is one of the country’s most elite and exclusive institutions. Its ethos can be best summed up with the phrase “You are lucky to be here.”[/b]

    [b]When you allow an institution to provide you with your identity and sense of self-worth you become an obsequious pawn, no matter how much talent you possess. You live in perpetual fear of what those in authority think of you and might do to you. This mechanism of internalized control—for you always need them more than they need you—is effective. The rules of advancement at the paper are never clearly defined or written down. Careerists pay lip service to the stated ideals of the institution, which are couched in lofty rhetoric about balance, impartiality and neutrality, but astutely grasp the actual guiding principle of the paper, which is: Do not significantly alienate the corporate and political power elite on whom the institution depends for access and money. Those who master this duplicitous game do well. Those who cling tenaciously to a desire to tell the truth, even at a cost to themselves and the institution, become a management problem. This creates tremendous friction within the paper. I knew reporters with a conscience who would arrive at the paper and vomit in the restroom from nervous tension before starting work.[/b]

    1. franzi

      It was a good article and worth reading Emiliano.

      It surprises me to this day that people still read the New York Times. If people stopped reading it, it would die a deserved death. Whenever Yves links to the NYT I never click. Don’t feed the beast.

      1. Hugh

        It is always beneficial when the NYT is portrayed as the awful neocon rag it is. The paper’s motto should be All the Conventional Wisdom that’s fit to print. Good to see that Hedges calls out Bill Keller for the vacuous nonentity he is. And while Hedges brings up Abe Rosenthal as a dreadful early neocon, he could just as easily have pointed out that Abe’s son Andrew runs the editoral page, and follows in the old man’s neocon footsteps. No mention of Pinch Sulzberger either. If anyone deserves credit for leading the paper into a well-earned oblivion, he does.

        1. rps

          “The paper’s motto should be All the Conventional Wisdom that’s fit to print”

          Or perhaps “Where the Aspens Turn”

          Libby wrote “Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them…” Hmmm I wonder if Judy accessed her super duper secret decoder ring in prison……

          The NYT game of duplicitous charades performed by Judith Miller and Scooter Libby was the last straw. I have more trust in the Enquirer for factual content versus the NYT gutter rag

  11. jerrydenim

    Does anyone besides me think that this whole debt-ceiling, partial default stunt might not be a political showdown over wealth allocation and entitlement spending but a giant conspiracy to devalue the dollar? Most likely I would say its both. That would certainly seem to kill two birds with one stone.

    I am baffled by currency trading and I am often confounded by moves in a currency’s value, especially in these times of central bank and sovereign wealth fund market manipulation, but it’s my understanding that a US credit event would theoretically raise borrowing costs and then interest rates on government debt, which would normally increase a currency’s value, but if there’s haircuts etc, wouldn’t that cause currency revulsion etc. precipitating a massive drop in the value of the dollar?

    The intentions of the politicians are being well-telegraphed in advance so people in the know can profit from the event and align their trading positions accordingly, and with the American manufacturing sector so thoroughly depressed the last thing our economy could endure at the moment would be a massive surge in the value of the dollar over other currencies if the Euro were to suddenly crash or some other currency valuation type event.

    Does this scenario make sense to anyone else, or am I way off base here?

    1. Cedric Regula

      I may have attempted to answer that 5 years ago, along with if, buts and qualifications. But today I would say you could just flip a coin, as it were, when trying to predict relative movements among major currencies. Then developing countries all wanted to put their money in dollars and depreciate their currencies, but now they are mostly surging against the majors. Go figure.

  12. Lil'D

    The key difficulty with wishing Obama out of office is that we’ll end up with

    maybe Huntsman can come from behind, though I doubt it.

    Ain’t no cherces further left, though.

    1. Albert W.

      Yes. They might want to cut Social Security and Medicare, pursue austerity, start unilateral wars and expand existing ones, crack down on journalists, and give sweeping new powers to our surveillance and security apparatus.

      Oh wait.

      1. John B

        Yes, congressional Democrats seem to be pursuing last decade’s Republican policies. I think most rank-and-file Democrats would prefer something different but don’t have enough money to buy it. I wonder who is the most left-wing Democrat remaining in Congress these days.

  13. Externality

    Interesting links:

    The Obama administration threatened to veto the defense budget unless Congress spends more money on missile defense, the “Conventional Prompt Global Strike system” that allows the US to attack anywhere on Earth in 15 minutes or less, and “the Intelligence Community Management Account.” The purportedly inadequate budget actually increases defense spending by $11B over last year.

    As an article in Al Jazeera points out, Obama is taking the final steps to creating a global empire based on force and the threat of force. He has done away, for example, with even the pretense of caring what Congress and the American people think about wars (e.g., Libya). The political classes have accepted and started to support the new order, and the American people are kept in line:

    The media is filled with repetitive pro-government propaganda, schools whitewash American history, and years of effective Madison Avenue advertising has made it impossible for them to judge what is true and what is BS. Not to mention the fact that signs of independent thinking prompt the issuance of prescriptions for brain-deadening anti-depressant narcotics.

  14. Hugh

    I never know quite what to make of Joseph Stiglitz. I agree with the general tenor of his recommendations, but his op-ed is littered with dubious assertions.

    “If Congress mandates expenditures that exceed revenues, there will be a deficit, and that deficit has to be financed.”

    The only options he entertains are debt and taxes. For me, this is gold standard thinking in a post gold standard world. As any MMTer could tell him, and I am not an MMTer, deficits are an artefact of the gold standard era. The government funds its spending by crediting the accounts of those it does business with. It does not need taxes to do this. It just does this. This is how we arrive at the albeit counterintuitive realization that taxes do not fund government. Taxes are used to redistribute wealth and validate the currency. But if taxes do not fund government, then discrepancies (deficits and surpluses) between taxes (revenues) and spending are not a question about financing but rather inserting or withdrawing money from the private sector. If the government wishes to put money in the private sector, it runs “deficits”, that is it makes sure that its revenues are less than its spending. But it doesn’t have to “finance” this insertion by taking on new debt. That’s a holdover in thinking from the gold standard. All it has to do is credit the accounts. Issuing Treasuries is an anachronism. It isn’t necessary. All it amounts to is an unneeded subsidy to banks and others who buy Treasuries, like the Chinese. The only constraint on this process is inflation, but as we have seen, despite inflation in commodities pricing, the overall pattern we are in is deflationary.

    “A decade ago, in the midst of an economic boom, the United States faced a surplus so large that it threatened to eliminate the national debt.”

    Again this is more gold standard thinking. Surpluses and deficits are neither virtuous nor profligate per se. They are about adding and subtracting from the private sector as needed to keep the economy humming.

    “an economic-growth strategy supported by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Growth would restore confidence that Greece could repay its debts”

    Greece, unlike the US, effectively lives under a gold standard type regime, the euro. But it is fantasy to think that Greece can ever repay its debts. It needs most of its debt cancelled, its wealth directed to its people, and an end to the kleptocracies, both internal and external, victimizing the Greek people.

    1. Foppe

      I really don’t get Stiglitz. That “huge boom” was debt/speculation-funded, and not sustainable either. Why praise it? I mean, Bush certainly used it to extract even more tax cuts, but to pretend today that the surplus created in the mid-90s was in any way sustainable is delusional at best.

  15. KFritz

    Re: Ratings agencies

    There are two issues regarding the ratings agencies–their judgement/evaluation of financial matters and the timing of their announcements. If they ARE timing their announcements for the advantage of the financial class, whether by ‘suggestion’ or because they know who butters their bread, then government and quasi-government officials have cause for complaint. If complaining about anything except purposeful timing, the officials need to put a sock in it.

  16. Hugh

    I have been very critical of elite blogs like Firedoglake for their continued support for Democrats despite that party’s backing the rich and corporations in their kleptocratic endeavors. That support may be changing. Jane Hamsher in “The Breaking Point”:

    looks like she is finally breaking with the Democrats over their and Obama’s plan to cut Social Security as part of an expanded debt deal. The question now is if she and other elite bloggers will push for the formation of a third party or not.

    As I have often said here, a vote for any Democrat or any Republican is a vote for kleptocracy. There is simply no such thing as a good Democrat or a good Republican officeholder. There are none, not one, zero. The parties are unreformable. We really need to start planning for what comes after them and act on that.

    I also wrote here about a week ago how Obama was relentless in his pursuit of slashing entitlements in order to “save” them, from a conference back in February 2009 set up by Pete Peterson, one month into his term, to the Cat Food Commission, which when the Senate would not go along with it, Obama created it by Executive Order, to its stacking with Social Security and Medicare haters as its chairs (Bowles and Simpson), to the crashing and burning of their entitlement trashing recommendations, to the promise to bring up those recommendations this year in Congress. Well, this is what he and the Democrats are doing.

    All this brings up an important point. Kleptocrats don’t give up. They simply reload and try again. The looting is everything. As long as Democrats and Republicans hold the levers of power and remain our only choices, it is not going to get better. It can only get worse. There is no modus vivendi that we can work out with our looting elites. There is only a modus moriendi. The only question is who is to do the dying: them or us.

  17. rps

    Forget the protests and letter writing about social security and medicare. Every voter needs to walk into their congressman and senators office and tell them hands off social security and medicare/medicaid. Until you are seen and heard…it doesn’t matter.

  18. Bernard

    that’s why a Republican taking over would push the ship into the iceberg much faster than a Democrat. the speed of Republican greed is much faster and deeper than the Democrats, at least on the surface, to me.

    now that Obama has greased the way for Social Security and Medicare to be destroyed, The Republicans can go in for the kill. Obama’s role was just to maim and strike the first blow. like Nixon and China, appearances matter.

    the Republicans are more unified and take greater outward joy at the destruction of the American taxpayer. of course, Democrats may have their own way at it.

    but Republicans have been practicing this “game” for 40 years now. they wrote the rules. lol. the inept Democrats have always been enablers, not the primary destroyers.

    this is a script written for the Republicans. i just don’t think the American zombies will give up their hero worship for Reagan, no matter what his heirs do. blame it on the Democrats, perhaps. lol

    but i’ll vote for Republicans next time for the first time in 30 years to hasten the final act. if that were to help. which means there is no hope, lol no change and yes we can!! join the Titanic

  19. anon48

    “Two prominent medical researchers reviewed hundreds of thousands of records on infant and childhood mortality dating back over the last eight centuries. They discovered that over the vast majority of this 800-year period, only around half of newborns survived to adulthood; they concluded that we should not expect our children to live to adulthood.

    Anyone reading this paragraph should be fuming at the absurdity of this sort of extrapolation. Almost everywhere in the world, from the 13th to the 19th centuries, people lacked the healthcare advances that we take for granted…

    While the absurdity of such extrapolations on health outcomes should be immediately apparent, for some reason, those in policy circles think it is perfectly reasonable to make the same sort of extrapolations when it comes to economic outcomes. Two prominent economists, Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, did an extensive examination of financial crises over the last eight centuries. They found that the after-effects of these crises tend to be longlasting, with economies often taking a decade or more to get back to normal levels of output.”

    So instead of calling it “economics” we should call it eco-comics.

  20. Herman Sniffles

    When Social Security was put in place during the Great Depression the intent was NOT to give people a small financial safety net for their old age. The intent of Social Security was to give folks a SENSE OF SECURITY so they would take some money out of their mattress, spend it, and help get the economy moving again. It’s hard to imagine how great the psychological damage will be to the average American condumer’s psyche when they hear that The Obamanation is about to trash their last little piggy bank (after the destruction of their house value and stocks). One wonders if this man has some sort of serious personality disorder. I mean here’s a guy who describes Robert Ruben as a gentle, self effacing, prince of a human being. Is he really that gullible? Is he really just the ultimate SAP that every used car salesman dreams of having walk onto his car lot? I agree he should not get a second term. But he does seem well suited to handing out donuts to old people in a Chicago basement, which is apparently what he was doing before he got his present job.

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