Links 8/23/11

More dogs get kidnapped for money USA Today (hat tip Buzz Potamkin) :-(

A gnawing question answered: It’s a capybara roaming Paso Robles Los Angeles Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Large Zone Around Fukushima “Uninhabitable” Dave Dayen, FireDogLake (hat tip reader Carol B). I remember posting a link to a woman who went back to take care of her cows. I wonder if that is in the uninhabitable zone.

Top Ten Myths about the Libya War Juan Cole (hat tip reader May S)

The Road to Tahrir Foreign Policy (hat tip reader May S)

Riots: Metropolitan police planned to hold all suspects in custody Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Coulson received NoW payments as Tory aide FT Alphaville (hat tip Richard Smith)

We Are All Threatened by Contagion’ Der Spiegel (hat tip reader bruno)

MMFs end exposure to Italian and Spanish banks FT Alphaville (hat tip Richard Smith)

The Destructive Power of the Financial Markets Der Spiegel (hat tip reader bruno)

Of the Tea Party, by the Tea Party, for the Tea Party Moe Tkacik, Reuters

Pipeline protesters jailed in D.C. Omaha World-Herald (hat tip Trevor) and

Eliot Spitzer sued for $90 MILLION over his column about insurance bid-rigging scandal Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Fed’s $1.2 Trillion In Financial Sector Loans ‘A Classic Case Of Moral Hazard’ Huffington Post (hat tip George Washington)

Feds to AGs: Can’t Touch This Adam Levitin (hat tip reader Carol B)

Screw the American People, Except for the Corporate People masaccio, FireDogLake (hat tip reader Carol B)

The DC Circuit’s Proxy Access Decision Economics of Contempt

More on how the GAO’s phony Fed audit failed to disclose some dirty secrets about BlackRock and JP Morgan EconomicPolicyJournal (hat tip reader Carol B)

Stephen Roach: Consumers need debt jubilee Ed Harrison

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader James B). Since I know many will ask, this is a Sup, a Polish chicken.

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  1. attempter

    “Consumers need debt jubilee.”

    Yes, but no one ever gets what he needs by being a passive “consumer” waiting for a dispensation from on high.

    The right way to put it is, We need to stop being passive consumers, start being active citizens, and take the debt jubilee we need.

      1. K Ackermann

        If the traffic ticket is mailed to you with a photograph, just send them a picture of the money.

    1. Linus Huber

      you are right plus the following…

      SCARE 20.12.2012
      (Stop Corruption and Repression Effective 20.12.2012)
      Banks were given a very important privilege to create more in the form of extending credit. This function requires diligence and careful consideration in regard to individual credit risks as well as to overall credit levels in the system. The financial crisis revealed that the banks were operating at too high a leverage and with too much risk. They were used to be saved by the Central Banks and certain that in times of difficulties the Central Banks were there to save them. They were like trained dogs and their master Greenspan or Bernanke would always be there to rescue them when unforeseen difficulties arose.
      That may be true but that does not absolve them from their obligation to monitor overall debt levels in the system as well as being diligent in evaluating the debtors ability to not only service a debt but to be able to repay it over time. The banks clearly failed in this function that is the core function of banking but focused mainly on their compensation packages. The way these bankers enriched themselves in the process of driving the financial system into a wall was appalling and the average income earner was never able to comprehend their schemes but preferred to simply ignore them. Of course, the bankers explained their outrages income levels with free market principles of supply and demand, where the best simply could be hired with those kinds of benefits only. In hindsight those superior managers seem to have missed their mark considerably. The most interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that, after we have been more than 3 years in this financial crisis, the bankers continue to loot the system as if nothing ever happened.
      True to form the Central Banks “saved” the financial system by saving those great financial institutions without whom the system would have collapsed, as was argued. Hardly were we out of the danger of collapse, the banks immediately went back to their old ways and were certain that this was a problem that would occur just once in a lifetime and now all was clear again. The real problem, however, had not been addressed but had simply been muddied.
      In actuality, the losses produced of extending unsustainable levels of credit by the banks have been transferred to the public. Different ways were chosen to achieve this task in the form of free money for the banks, injection of government funds into some institutions, increase of basic money supply and so on.
      The threat of system collapse would have been labelled blackmail if it would have occurred in another setting. However the bankers were able to influence the media, the legislators and regulators in their favour with all the financial resources available to them. Nobody was made to take any responsibility and no one was taken to account.
      This represents a serious violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law that is the basis of western society. It seems that now the new rule is Might is Right. This changes many parameters in the compass of the social system within the western world. No one can be sure on what level and when one will be subjected to the financial abuse of those elites. Presently, the people in charge are trying to enhance financial repression of which one form is to keep interest rates below the level of inflation which affects mainly those that lived within their means over the past many years; another clear violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law as it transfers losses from bad investments to the innocent and decent part of the population. In addition, the increased level of government debt puts in doubt all those benefits promised by governments the world over.
      It is interesting how the banks were able to confuse the public that they are unable to grasp the actual situation. But considering their great financial resources, it seems not that much of a miracle to influence the media and the legislator and having politicians do their bidding. The question is what the heck can WE, THE PEOPLE do about it.
      Usually, we could address such things on a political level as we are a democracy, right? But it seems that the system has been corrupted by all the money sloshing around and it is extremely difficult to find any electable person that will act against those powerful interests. In addition, it will take many years until sufficient numbers of persons with the new thinking and with integrity not to be corrupted by those lobbying efforts will be elected to office that will implement the changes needed. So, what should we do? Start a revolution?
      Well, the blackmail used by the banks may be the only way to address the injustices that have occurred over the past few years. They showed us how to leverage one’s limited resources to achieve one’s goal. Therefore the following proposal to start the movement “SCARE 20.12.2012” should be seen in this context. The idea is that if by that time (20.12.2012) some serious injustices have been removed from the system, people start to withdraw their money from all financial institutions driving them into default. And it might work, because those who hesitate to support this threat may be left with no money as the banks will have to close down before all has been paid out.
      Now, what demands are made if that scenario is to be avoided.
      1. Bankers and past Bankers (all those working in the financial industry that earned in excess of $500k plus annually for more than 2 years during the past 15 years and this without any downside risk i.e. risk of financial losses, except the possibility of losing their job) have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes regulating agencies and politics) before 20.12.2012.
      2. Present and past regulators have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes financial institutions and politics) before 20.12.2012.
      3. Politicians that accept any financial support from institutions that are involved in the money creation and lending aspects of the economy will have to face a jail term of no less than 2 years without the possibility of parole.
      When these 3 points are implemented before 20.12.2012, we the public will not destroy the financial system but support the way to find back to the RULE OF LAW and away from the idea of MIGHT IS RIGHT.

      1. James


        ALL past and present members of the US Congress and/or the Executive branch AND THEIR HEIRS shall be held PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE for reimbursing the SS and MC funds for ANY AND ALL proposed defaults involving ANY AND ALL past and current payees and their heirs, the exact method to be determined by a randomly selected committee of current and future beneficiaries. ALL legal determinations regarding liability of plaintiffs’ assets for inclusion in said settlement shall be determined unilaterally and WITHOUT RECOURSE by beneficiaries’ counsel.

        Additionally, ALL future SS and MC payments to ALL past or present members of the US Congress and/or Executive Branch and their heirs shall be suspended for no less than five (5) consecutive generations, with payroll contributions to same doubling (2X) for the same period, or a period to be determined unilaterally and WITHOUT RECOURSE by beneficiaries’ counsel.

      1. wunsacon

        Skippy, are you eyeing fellow NC readers as a possible source of protein during the Apocalypse? Shame on you!

        1. dearieme

          “Do you?” To the avergage bear … probably.

          I do know that skippies taste good: ‘roo for dinner – yum, yum.

        2. ambrit

          Dear wunsacon;
          I’m not so sure. Economics has more than once been described as the “Handmaid of Venus.”

          1. ambrit

            Dear skippy;
            Well put! I’d phrase it more, whom is Demos?
            This struck me as important: “Fabius, by contrast, [to those who worship blind Fortune,] knows that.. intelligence and calculation, not luck, are the crucial elements in acheiving victory..” Where is any of this in our present political establishment? Time to replace the present cult of Immedias with the old time Cult of Mens indeed!

        3. skippy

          @dearie…there you go again, all I asked was how a bite would taste and yet you want the hole carcass festooning your dinner table.

          Skippy…if everyone only took small bites of each other …sigh.

          1. ambrit

            Illustrisime skippius;
            You call for Moderation in an immoderate, indeed immodest World. Were there any poor Stoics?

    1. Dave of Maryland

      That’s not the creature I saw 100 feet outside my door the 12th at 8 am-ish, and I’m 20 miles NE of Baltimore in the middle of densely wooded suburban housing. Lots of deer, an occasional fox, groundhogs, etc.

      Could it be that male and female capybaras are very different in appearance? Mine had the tail of a giant rodent, but the body of a hyperstarved coyote: long thin legs, long thin snout, generally dark gray appearance.

      1. ambrit

        Good Heavens Man! Could this be what the estimable Dr. Watson referred to as the “Giant Rat of Sumatra?” The spindle shanked game is apad!
        (I hope it wasn’t a Coyote with mange. They can get vicious. Keep a close eye on pets and children for a while.)

        1. Dave of Maryland

          There are pictures on-line of coyotes with mange, but they’re still coyotes. What my wife and I saw had a tail as long as its body, a rat’s tail. Didn’t look at all vicious. Looked like it was out for a late breakfast.

          1. ambrit

            Dear Dave;
            Glad to see it’s a ‘friendly’ local. The wilds of Maryland you say, hmmm.. If it were a little further West I might suspect it of being one of the fabulous Cameleopards. Good ‘hunting’ pardner, this one is interesting for sure.

  2. aletheia33

    from the story on the dairy farmers in namie, japan
    (17 miles from fukushima, just outside the exclusion zone):

    Jonathan Watts in Namie, 11 May 2011

    In a radiation hotspot downwind of Japan’s stricken nuclear plant, farmers explain why they can’t leave their cows despite fears of contamination.
    “The alarm is ringing. That means danger,” says Keiko Sanpei, above, with a nervous laugh as she looks at a meter which shows radiation levels, at her dairy farm, more than five times the health limit. “I was afraid when I first returned. But being with the cows, that fear goes away.”

    Sanpei’s home is in Namie, a radiation hotspot 17 miles downwind of the leaking Fukushima nuclear plant. It is just outside the government’s mandatory exclusion zone, but the ground here was so contaminated during the crisis residents are now exposed to almost as much radiation as someone standing outside the plant’s west gate.

    Namie has become a ghost town. The fields, normally a hive of activity in this season, are deserted. Roads are almost empty, apart from emergency vehicles and a police van that blocks the route into the 16 mile-radius exclusion zone.

    Almost all of the 2,000 residents followed government advice to evacuate after the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on 15 March, but Sanpei and her husband were among a few dozen farmers who returned, more concerned for their cattle than their personal safety.

    1. compass rose

      Actually a silver-laced Polish chicken.

      One of the least angry birds you will ever meet. Bantam size, sweet temperament, very intelligent and social, and awesome companion animals if you win their trust enough to clip their head plumes down to a spiffy ‘Fro so they can see with their enormous topaz eyes. (The plumes blind them. I consider that cruel, particularly when idiots put them in a flock with larger, more aggressive chickens.)

      Also extremely loyal and brave. If they love and trust you–and that’s by their choice–they will interpose themselves between you and danger, and even surprise the hell out of the danger by charging at it, puffed, beak gaping, eyes pulsing, and wing-flapping. This is a three- to five-pound bird.

      It may be one of the oldest breeds of chicken; the “Po” in Polish refers most likely to the Po River. The breed is mentioned by Agricola, and a skull of this sort (with the bony domed skull) was found in an ancient Roman archaeological kitchen midden dig.

      My household includes a white-crested Polish hen. She was rescued, badly injured, from a badly/brutally managed hipster “organic lifestyle” flock. She is the most extraordinary companion animal I’ve ever shared a home with. Her intelligence and sociability is up there with our resident parrot’s. She’s our four-pond silk-shingled Zen Monk pal who loves Dropkick Murphys videos, Liberte yogurt, and tummy rubs.

      1. BetaSheep

        We had some silver Polish chickens once. They weren’t the best layers, but lived to be almost 20 years old.

  3. vlade

    I have a problem with debt jubilee. It doesn’t solve the problem – why should we assume that after a debt jubilee the debt-taking propensity doesn’t stay the same? I would prefer a significant (say 100k per household – even rich ones, on the balance it doesn’t matter, there’s too few of them to worry about significantly, and the marginal utility to them is going to be low) 0%, super-long duration (50 or even more years) loan to all households, with condition that it would have to be used to amortize any asset backed debt first.

    It’s free money (courtesy of inflation), but not so free money as to get people too upset. You know, the really poor of the society tend to be savers – they just don’t have the ability to get any credit, except the super-usurious type which is a death spiral.

    Debt jubilee helps middle-income families or even rich (often richer are more leveraged than poor/middle income).

    Giving them 100k is the same as 100k debt jubilee for large chunk of society, but has more impact on the poor and the ones who never got sucked into debt (which quite a few old people, the ones who lived through GD, avoided).

    1. chad

      You’ll have to do something to fix the psychological debt addiction problem too. I think if you give people who are addicted to debt a “Get of debt free card” in 5 years they will be right back where they started.

      I don’t have a solution, when a person’s idea of self worth is tied to consumption there’s not much you can do.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        I like the money idea. I don’t have moral hangups about it.

        You can pay people by the hour for their time, but we stopped doing that 30 years ago. For 30 years we haven’t been paying people at all.

        Or, shotgun to your head, you can pay them by the decade.

        Doesn’t make any difference. People gotta get paid.

        Check your gun registration stats. There’s an awful lot of shotguns out there. More every day. The figure this year is 100K? What will it be next year?

    2. compass rose

      vlade, WADR, I think you’re missing the point. Debt jubilee works precisely for what you’re seeing as a drawback.

      Capitalist institutions need to hand out debt to thrive and get productive/real world stuff done.

      Debt jubilee lets those institutions create that debt currency and get that stuff done…while also freeing up debt recipients to take on new debt and get out from under the old.

      It’s like rebooting the Monopoly game.

      The question is, what is the debt issued for. For too long, too many institutions have handed out debt for consumerism, rather than as lines of credit to spur jobs and productive effort (like infrastructure repair/redevelopment).

      I agree with you inasmuch as it’s not very productive to keep handing out lines of credit to buy shiny things–unless the goal of the economy is to let our infrastructure and society go to hell and give China’s wealthy the ability make more labor camp slaves.

      The nature of compounding interest is such that no debt based scheme can continue for more than X years. But how many people in financial power even understand compounding, and its place in the cybernetics of a large economy? Most of the economists I ever worked with didn’t even really understand the “rule of 72.” All they understood was more more more, then redefining everything to fit with that.

      Like all instruments, debt jubilee can function very well…if and only if it is thoughtfully designed and overseen. There’s the rub, I suppose.

      You might be interested in what Michael Hudson and other Sumeriologists have written about the Mesopotamian and ancient Near Eastern forms of debt jubilee.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        They are handing out debt instead of wages so they can yank it back anytime they please.

        They are handing out debt instead of wages so they can put conditions on its receipt.

        I don’t want a loan from a loan shark.

        I want the wages that I’ve earned.

        When did the language of slavery shut out the language of common sense?

      2. vlade

        compass r. – I’m aware of how DJ worked in past, it was a great device to break debt-caused positive feedback (and reboot economy with commodity currency. with fiat one, you need it less as a growth device, inflation can do it instead). But, there was an important difference – you and everyone else knew it was coming, so people were much more careful not to make stupid loans and the propensity to loan went down with time within the cycle (of course, it had other problems, as that liquidity problems turned into solvency ones close to the end of the cycle, but that can be solved via equity, so I don’t consider it a bad thing per se).

        Problem with DJ now is that unless you make it very very selective (which would cause all sorts of other problems), it will be grossly unfair. It will reward people with leverage (who, by and large are richer strata, although richer is a relative term here), and penalise the poor (the informal debt will not be forgiven, usurious grey and black lenders don’t do forgivness).

        My solution gives everyone the same (we need to reduce leverage now, and this is relatively fair way to do so – fairer than shoveling the money on banks’ balance sheets, not to mention more efficient) – and then feel free to introduce DJ (for debts incurred after some date, say when a DJ law would go live).

        BTW, I agree about the 72 rule, most people have no understanding of the exponential at all. Understandeable, but very depressing.

  4. appointmetotheboard

    Holy crap. I’ve just seen John Huntsman on CNBC talking about a flat tax, and “broadening the base.” What the hell is wrong with the US?!? Are there really *serious* politicians suggesting the plan should be to tax more low-income Americans to pay for tax reductions for high earners? Even if a decent argument could be made for it, how can it be justified with the economy the way it is?!

    And talk about mis-diagnosis. If almost 50% of Americans aren’t paying taxes, the answer isn’t to lower the threshold – its to create more, better paid jobs. I’d had to be a US progressive considering who to vote for in 2012…

    Anyway. I just wanted to vent. As its for links, might I suggest this to make my rant relevenat. It was the first thing I found, but its not bad as it turns out.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Its incorrect to say that 50% don’t pay taxes. That’s only federal income tax. Those who don’t pay federal income taxes still pay other taxes and tax-like fees.

      1. Dave of Maryland

        I had not imagined the percentage was that extreme.

        Give a 40 hour work week, at what hourly wage are there no income taxes for a filer, filing as a single person?

        At what hourly wage for a joint, husband/wife filing?

        At what hourly wage for one child? Two? Three? – etc.

        Given the median family size (2.3 whatever), what is the hourly wage below which there is no income tax owed?

        Whatever it is, half the people in this country are at that level, or below. I’d really like to know what that wage is.

    2. compass rose

      Please stop flogging the conservative PR meme that “50% of Americans don’t pay taxes.” I mean, unless you a conservative exoflagellant, in which case, have a ball.

      Anyone who buys anything in this economy pays taxes. This issue has been spun brutally as a way to keep any discussion from happening that deals with the richest paying back into the system that enriched them (and systematically impoverishes others).

    3. Yellowrose

      Be careful with that 50% number. Included in this approximate (it’s actually 47%) are the SUPER-RICH who pay NO income taxes due to loopholes. They comprise nearly HALF this number! The remainder are those who fall below the poverty line, therefore paying no income tax.

      1. appointmetotheboard

        Guys, I must confess I took the 50% figure at face value. Nonetheless, whether it is 5% or 50%, surely the answer to America’s financial problems isn’t making more low income people pay tax, and the introduction of a flat tax for the benefit of high-earners…

  5. Abelenkpe

    That chicken looks like he walked out of a Dr. Suess book.

    Debt jubilee would help the younger generation saddled with outrageous student loans. They might even be able to buy the homes of retiring boomers, helping two generations cope with a down economy.

  6. joecostello

    Juan Cole writes “10. This was a war for Libya’s oil.”

    Right, we’ve been bumbling around the Mideast for almost century, its never been about oil.

    1. ScottW

      Juan Cole also wrote: “Saif al-Islam Qaddafi had apparently been the de facto ruler of the country in recent years, so his capture signaled a checkmate.” Ooops. Seems that Mr. Cole has caught a little of that rebel fever.

    2. Dave of Maryland

      Cole is a toady for war. He was a toady for the Iraq war. Good thing to get rid of Evil Dictators! You know, the sort who aren’t invading other countries. The ones who give their countries an advanced standard of living. Never mind that a million Iraqis got murdered and several million more displaced. The Iraq war was still a good thing, you know.

      And now that Victory Has Been Declared in Libya (where’s that carrier when you need it?), ignore the fact that full-scale civil war is about to break out in Libya. Ignore the fact that a government of puppets is about to be imposed on the Libyan people, with perfectly obvious consequences.

      Juan Cole is nothing but a shill.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Dave;
        Yes indeed. The dynamics for a civil war and break up of Libya are all in place. The conditions are exactly analogous to Yugoslavia after Titos demise.

      2. information please

        Oh I dunno about that, these folks don’t seem to mind Mr Cole:

        …and they seem exceptionally well-informed and current on facts on the ground in Iraq Today.

        At least Mr Cole pays some attention , rather than none at all, to what is happening.

      3. compass rose

        Mr. Cole notwithstanding, I am always suspicious of people who are against “oil wars,” but continue to consume fossil energy like it’s 1999 forever.

        You can’t have it both ways. Either we fight for the resources to sustain how most of us choose to live…or you give up that lifestyle.

        I don’t see the latter happening among the vast majority of people who are complaining about “oil wars.” They just continue to live as they always have–flying, driving, heating/cooling with fossil energy–and flog various policies, politicians, and, good gods, even Internet commenters as a diversionary tactic.

        As for “no blood for oil,” every damn barrel of the stuff ALWAYS contained as much heme as carbon.

      4. Alex

        Cole initially approved of the invasion of Iraq, but by Summer 2003, after seeing how the US was screwing it up, he was one of its harshest critics.

  7. joecostello

    Juan Cole writes “10. This was a war for Libya’s oil. That’s daft.”

    Right, we’ve been bumbling around the Mideast for almost century, its never been about oil.

  8. josap

    Debt jubilee won’t happen. The lenders can’t afford to write down the loss. And who pays for their losses? We do. So we can’t afford a jubilee either.

  9. spigzone

    Looks like at least one core at Fukushima has melted through the final containment barrier and into the ground. The two other melted down cores are likely to follow. Once it’s into the ground it is no longer containable or fixable. Intensely radioactive particles will continue to contaminate the air and water table for decades.

    That uninhabitable zone will, in time, extend across the island and move toward Tokyo. The consequences boggle the mind.

    The nuclear genie is truly out of the bottle.

    1. fulcrum

      Hmmm… you skipped a whole lot of steps for it to reach such a devastating point. Your scenario is highly unrealistic.

      I don’t think that you need to make stuff up in such a scare-mongering fashion to point out the fatal flaws of nuclear energy at this point.

  10. Iolaus

    The comments on “Of The Tea Party…” are entertaining. When tea-partiers are called on their credentials, they really go nuts!

    1. Jim

      Are TeaPartier Nuts?

      Well, this Dem says that they’re as Nuts as the Thomas Friedman’s of the world who want the average US citizen, already OverTaxed and suffering from a decades-long decline in median wages, to pay higher regressive taxes.

      Why anyone would even float a one dollar a gallon tax on gasoline is beyond me.

      Frankly, if I had to choose between a TeaPartier as President, or someone as clueless about our economic needs as Thomas Friedman, I vote Bachman or Perrry.

      Reluctantly, but those two will damage the US economy less than someone like Friedman.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s sort of ironic but it would be interesting to see if middle class taxpayers will vote to fund a Victims of Taxation National Museum.

  11. Martin

    Some issues with Juan Cole’s 10 points:

    1. Quaddafi was still domestically progressive compared with e.g. some of the Emirates, which are best friends with Western politicians.

    2. Again, being friends with Berlusconi is a sign, you are so evil, you should be bombed? Or with GWB? (Well, I agree, but a respectable professor in the US can hardly be really for bombing Washington, can he?)

    3. The fact, that the military refused to defend Mubarak and Ben Ali should be sign, that the revolutionaries do not have the broad support in Libya, that the revolutionaries had in Egypt and Tunisia, not vice versa. And while it is a crime to shoot protesters, it is a bigger crime to kill completely uninvolved people as the drone strikes of the US do all the time. Wouldn’t it be more important to support regime change in Washington than in Tripolis?

    5. This isn’t over yet. We will see, if the future is that peaceful after Gadaffi very soon.

    6. Completely irrelevant for the justification of the war, even if true.

    7. NATO involvement was massive without troops on the ground. Bombing campaigns, training personal on the ground and equipment were essential, so what is the point of not having actual boots on the ground? That there is no meddling of foreign forces in the aftermath of this war? We will see very soon, and I bet against the idea, that we will see a genuine Libyan gov’t without foreign influence.

    8. Partially true, but what is the point again? Yes, the French were the initial force, not the US, but this doesn’t change the morality of the war a bit. NATO completely overstepped the UN mandate of a no-fly-zone, as e.g. the South African gov’t has made perfectly clear.

    9. There are strong hints, that this could have been part of an negotiation, where NATO could habe threatened to attack, if such crimes happen. Violence sometimes has to be on the table, but usually very often putting it on the table is sufficient without actually using it.

    10. Yo, man, ENI’s profits were hurt. And ENI is an Italian corporation, and Italy’s gov’t was complete the driving force of the war. See point 2.

    1. KFritz

      Gaddafi treated his guest workers better than some of the Gulf states, where the treatment of outsiders has been sometimes been truly horrific. He didn’t provide for his own people as well, though. Saudi Arabia, because of its population explosion, doesn’t provide for its own as well as it did in the past.

      Libya’s military elite units were constructed by Gaddafi to prevent revolts, and had done so in the past. It was not structured at all like its Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts. It failed this time because of the extent of the revolt and the NATO intervention.

      Italy’s government was NOT the primary instigator of this war. France and Sarkozy were.

      1. Martin

        Obviously you either haven’t read Cole or you are completely stupid, otherwise you would have been able to notice, that “and Italy’s gov’t was complete the driving force of the war. See point 2.” was irony.

        Cole claims oil interests were not dominant in the decision for NATO to participate, and cites as evidence the fact, that an Italian oil company is hurt by the war. But as indeed Italy was against the war, this should be rather taken as evidence, that oil is an important issue on the political agenda – is it was in Iraq, where Saddam had contracts with French companies.

        As for treating people, in emirates like Dubai, the vast majority of people living there are foreigners. If they are treated like slaves, this should be more important for intervention based on human rights than the generally better treatment of citizens. If you are American, you might have a serious problem with the idea to judge a country not by how it treats its citizens, but other people, but the “human” in “human rights”, should make clear, that intervention based on them should be based on the treatment of humans.

  12. Steve

    Elliot Spitzer comes from money. I hope he fights this. It will be expensive but it could really be a starting point at stopping the swine. In civil courts rules are looser for both sides. Oscar Wilde discovered to his chagrin that libel is not libel when true and I hope Gilman and McNenne discover this.

  13. Typing Monkey


    “One idea that has aroused interest among the president’s advisers is a Georgia program that lets workers receiving unemployment insurance train for jobs at businesses at no cost to the employer, said a person familiar with deliberations. ”

    OK, presumably this is yet another stupid, short-sighted attempt to goose the unemployment numbers before elections. The question, though, is how would this work?

    As an employer, I would now lay off 100 of my employees and then just hire them back on the government’s dime. Unemployment rate would basically stay roughly the same, with the savings going to the business. It’s just a very elaborate corporate giveaway.

    Why bother?

    1. K Ackermann

      Great attitude. Why bother, indeed.

      Or… propose a fine of $1,000,000 for every re-hire. How about that?

    2. JTFaraday

      “Why bother?”

      Advance the “they’re unemployed because they’re useless–not because I, Obama, screwed up the economy” meme?

      1. JTFaraday

        Oh, also see below. Apparently Bam has progressed from doing smack in the Oval Office with Timmay and the Goldman Sachs Treasury boyz, to smoking crack on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard with Lloyd and Jamie while they take a red pen to our last remaining legal clause.

    3. MichaelC

      O calls W for advice- Oy!

      We should have anticipated that headline once Buffet’s Op-Ed came out last week.

      It looks to me like O’s vacation (exile) to Martha’s Vineyard is the perfect metaphor for the handoff (usurpation?) of policy to the Buffet wing of the oligarchy for the remainder of Obama’s term.

      Buffet seems like a nice enough mega-billionaire, but his emergence from the shadows at this stage signals (to me at least) he’s fed up with sock puppetry of these dopes he’s backed for the last 20 years, and has nothing to lose by outing himsekf now.(and he’s talking his book too (Moody’s vs S/P, Wells Fargo v BoA, …) Or he’s scared, not for his country, nor his secretary, but for his legacy, or his book.

      It’s down to good oligarch vs bad oligarch in the US. Buffet’s emergence makes that pretty clear. Tina Fey is brilliant, but I don’t think she ever imagined it would be Buffet O was gonna call at 3 am.

      Do bridge players get to a point in the game where they politely signal FU to their partner, abandon protocol and go rogue? I think that’s what us lesser folks are getting a glimpse of. And what does that mean for our progeny, given all the current bridge tournament playing MOU (Gates, Buffet, those Bear Stearns chuckleheads) agreed over drinks at the bar to take the “charity pledge”?

      I’m reading Morgenson/Rosner (Recles$ Endagerment)so I amy be too cyncically influenced by the cesspool they describe on every page.(I didn’t appreciate the awful irony of “Dodd-Frank” as regulatory reform till I looked Dodd and Frank head on in the first few chapters of their book.)

      The Econmic Policy Journal piece filled me with despair, yet wasn’t even commented on in this thread.

      What’s up with that?

      If Schneiderman has the cajones to stand his ground I think there’s hope. He appears to be the only one standing in the political arena who can turn the tide and encourage the few honest judges left to right to this ship, and shame the current roster of candidates (that no underwater mortgagee wants to vote for) into the dustbin.

  14. Susan the other

    Adam Levitin was in good form today. Why do we put up with a government full of feckless pontificating criminals?

  15. Jackrabbit

    “We Are All Threatened by Contagion”

    “Contagion” is already here isn’t it? It’s not in the form of bank failures but risk premiums and austerity.

  16. Susan the other

    Also must comment on Der Spiegel’s 2 articles. The first one about the stability fund and the new stability authority in the EU. They are saying they need time to come together politically and in the meantime they will control their own financial crises in their own way. Obviously they know the other shoe is about to drop and writing a bunch of EU bonds today won’t be very effective until financial regulations are in place.

    The 2nd one, The Destructive Power of the Financial Markets, was very good. Governments missed the chance to regulate the industry in 2008 and another crash is imminent. Referring to the hedgehogs as a pack of wolves who have no morality about destroying countries and currencies rings pretty true. Of course we already have a stability fund, the Fed. It has landed us in the doldrums so far. Its clear nobody knows what to do with the financial crisis.

    Maybe “money” should be defined for what it is. It is nothing. It has no intrinsic value. It is not a commodity. It is a currency, so how can hedge funds speculate on the wind? It is absurd. Currency is something that moves and makes other things move. It is a form of energy that cannot be valued until the thing that the”money” or currency moves is valued. But Banksters have it ass backwards. The thing to be moved is valued by the arbitrary value which they assign to “money.” Or rather, their high speed computers assign it. So this is why financial markets function outside real markets.

    I will always believe that “money” has no moment of value; it has no instant in time that can be pegged. It is a currency. And only the thing it accomplishes and the social good it produces has a value over some duration of time.

    I wish someone would take on the task of parsing the world of financial derivatives. In very detailed but simple and plain English. And tear them apart, exposing their inherent contradictions and absurdities. Right down to the definition of “money” itself.

  17. Hugh

    Juan Cole being defensive, much? Throughout his piece he downplays the depth of tribal divisions in Libya and the importance of oil in the conflict. I mean seriously does anyone believe that the US and NATO would have gotten involved to the extent that they did if Libya had no oil. And the fact that just a few weeks ago the military head of the rebels was assassinated by a competing tribal faction should send up red flags about how stable a post-Gadhafi regime is likely to be.

    In contrast, Cole’s

    I do not mean to underestimate the challenges that still lie ahead … But it would be wrong, in this moment of triumph for the Libyan Second Republic, to dwell on the difficulties to come. Libyans deserve a moment of exultation.

    sounds a lot like Rumsfeld commenting on looting after the fall of Baghdad.

    Cole goes on

    I have taken a lot of heat for my support of the revolution and of the United Nations-authorized intervention by the Arab League and NATO that kept it from being crushed

    Of course the UN resolution was about protecting civilians, not saving revolutions.

    And then there’s this:

    Moreover, those who question whether there were US interests in Libya seem to me a little blind. The US has an interest in there not being massacres of people for merely exercising their right to free assembly. The US has an interest in a lawful world order, and therefore in the United Nations Security Council resolution demanding that Libyans be protected from their murderous government. The US has an interest in its NATO alliance, and NATO allies France and Britain felt strongly about this intervention. The US has a deep interest in the fate of Egypt, and what happened in Libya would have affected Egypt (Qaddafi allegedly had high Egyptian officials on his payroll).

    As I wrote at the time, kleptocracies don’t do humanitarian interventions. It’s kind of funny that Cole makes the argument that we bombed Liby to preserve the right to free assembly at the same time as people are being thrown in jail in DC for protesting the Tar Sands pipeline.

    And the US is interested in a lawful world order? Since when? How does Bush fabricating a casus belli against Iraq and then invading that country fit into this? Or Obama’s embrace of drone attacks when and wherever? Or both Administrations’ use of JSOC forces all over the globe?

    And France and the UK felt strongly about this intervention? And they took the lead? What a load. I would love to see polling which showed how strongly the British and French publics favored bombing Libya. As for the division of labor, almost all of the initial strikes against Libya were from US assets. Supposedly, under pressure, France and the UK then took the lead but the US continued to give broad backup and logistical support. Again I would love to see how much the French and British governments spent on their Libyan involvement as opposed to what the US spent.

    And then Cole’s Egypt comment. Where did that come from? We needed to bomb Libya because Gadhafi was paying off some Egyptian officials? Gadhafi has been pulling the strings in Egypt all these years? Who knew? I mean this is just silly. We paid off Mubarak for years. US aid still is flowing to the post-Mubarak government. Cole’s assertion of Libyan influence on the Egyptian government doesn’t pass the smell test. Again I would love to hear what the reaction of ordinary Egyptians would be to it. My guess is that they would think Cole was nuts.

    Finally, there is one giant dog that doesn’t bark in the Cole piece. There is not one word about Obama’s violation of the War Powers Act, not one. For the last 3 months, Obama has illegally engaged US forces against Libya. How hypocritic is it for Cole to invoke a “lawful world order” when Obama has been acting with such blatant illegality?

    Cole seems really bound and determined to destroy his credibility and I think he has succeeded.

    1. doom

      Interestingly, Libya supported a strong and autonomous International Criminal Court, America’s rule-of-law nemesis, when the Rome Statute was being drafted. The memory of Reagan’s illegal bombing was fresh in their minds. What’s left of Libya continues to support the ICC as a G-77 member. Cockburn’s take on the ICC is that it has since become a US puppet (jumping right in on the dubious Viagra rape charges, for example, while ignoring US criminal aggression.) But there’s a fine line between being a NATO running dog and trying to lull the US into complacent acceptance. I think the ICC is looking decades ahead.

  18. Hugh

    I found this with regard to Brtish public opinion on Libya from March 22, 2011:

    A YouGov poll for the Sun shows 45 per cent of people supporting action by Britain, the US and France, and 36 per cent stating that it is wrong.

    However, a ComRes/ITN poll shows almost exactly the opposite, with 35 per cent in favour of action and 43 per cent opposed to it.

    It’s important to remember these equivocal results were at the beginning of the conflict while it was still being portrayed as essentially humanitarian and that intervention would be quick, limited, and cheap.

      1. Gobsmacked

        So there’s this Italian, see, and he’s pretending to be A POLISH CHICKEN… The plot gets funnier all the time

  19. rps

    It’s official, Obama is vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard smoking corporate crack with his dealers

    Yahoo: Administration moves plan to ax hundreds of rules
    Obama administration seeks $10B in savings for businesses by scrapping many gov’t regulations

    WASHINGTON (AP) — “The Obama administration disclosed plans Tuesday to cut or roll back hundreds of federal regulations, including some that will streamline tax forms at the Internal Revenue Service….

    Obama called for federal agencies to scrutinize their existing regulations after his party suffered sweeping losses in the 2010 elections.

    The president acknowledged at the time that his relationship with the business community had soured, and he vowed to scrap “dumb” rules that were hindering private sector growth.”

  20. Herman Sniffles

    And of course you all know what kind of people live along the Po River in northern Italy and the surrounding Po Valley?

    Po people.

    I learned that in a geography class at UC Davis taught by Dr. D. Dingemans. No kidding.

    He also talked about what parts of Europe have the “densest population,” but we won’t go there. Funny guy, actually, Dr. D.

    1. MichaelC

      I don’t have a facebook account so I can’t respond on Taibbi’s site, but since u brought it up here:

      Taibbi quotes

      Professor Peter Henning of Wayne University

      “The greater effect is more likely to be on the S.E.C.’s reputation as a credible law enforcement agency, especially in cases involving corporate internal controls.”

      Which is pretty clear code to the banksters :

      SOX (which was all about internal controls liability) is unenforceable.

      It was a tough slog to bring a Sox case, till Valuka’s report on Lehman came out. Now we find the SEC shredded files that make that slam dunk near impossible.

      Dealbook seems to recognize this was a feature rather then a bug of the SEC modus operandi, by quoting Henning (with a wink to their constituents) and tossed the shredding bone to Taibbi.

      The shredding is shocking to honest folks but small beer to the banksters.

      As revolting as the shredding is on its own, even Taibbi has missed that it was, by design, meant to neuter legislation, while also providing cover for inept(complicit) SEC oversight.

      1. Foppe

        Every one of his articles are ‘small beer’ to the banksters ;) The point is to create awareness among the little people.

  21. rps

    60 percent of House members say let them eat cake, Ryan tell constituents “wanna see me, it’ll cost you upfront……

    Yahoo: Most House members will skip town hall meetings this summer
    “About 60 percent of the members of the House of Representatives are not holding free and open town hall meetings during the six-week congressional recess this summer, a survey by the nonpartisan group No Labels has found….
    Divided by party, 67 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans are skipping out on town halls this recess.
    In lieu of town halls , several members are holding meetings with constituents, but charging a price at the door through private groups. Paul Ryan….. is charging $15 for direct access…”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Must be the recession.

      It used to cost $500 or $1000 to see your Democratic or Republican politicians.

  22. Ransome

    I have worked in a document rich environment. This is a complicated environment. Ultimately what do you save at Iron Mountain, and more importantly how do you catalog it for retrieval. After storage and cataloging, how often is it retrieved? The answer is never. Taibbi did not do his homework.

    Digital information is frequently buried based on need to know. No one can recall it. No one knows it exists.

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