Links 9/29/11

Great grandson returns with medals of hero who led the Charge of the Light Brigade Independent (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Superweed’ explosion threatens Monsanto heartlands France 24 (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Single dose of hallucinogen may create lasting personality change MedicalXpress

Sharks’ Virus Killer Could Cure Humans, Study Suggests National Geographic (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Fortune teller case shines light on little-known group, the Roma McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Banks must prepare for further shocks, warns BoE’s Financial Policy Committee Telegraph. OMG, a regulator says that banks must cut back on bonuses!

Why white liberals are (really) ditching Obama David Sirota, Salon (hat tip reader Doug T)

Nine American Cities Going Broke 24/7 Wall Street (hat tip reader Carol B)

Does Economics Still Progress? Paul Krugman (hat tip reader Brett). This is the second post in roughly a week in which Krugman sounds really bummed about the state of the world and economics in particular.

What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Don’t Be Afraid to Say Revolution! Lambert Strether

Obama Apologist Harris-Perry Says Support Prez Because He’s a “Competent” Black Man Black Agenda Report

Ron Suskind’s “Confidence Men”: A Terrible Book Economics of Contempt. I think his stridency is out of proportion to the errors he discusses, but the issues he raises are legitimate.

Supreme Court Is Asked to Rule on Health Care New York Times

Sure, both parties steal your vote, but now the Ds are talking about suspending elections Lambert Strether

SEC probes banks over mortgage loans Financial Times

Call by Fed for Money-Fund Curbs Wall Street Journal. The impulse is correct, but in tightly coupled systems, you need to reduce the tight coupling first. Efforts to reduce risk in tightly coupled systems that fail to address the tight coupling typically make matters worse.

Apple: Can it stop the Amazon menace? Ed Harrison

Interns, Unpaid by a Studio, File Suit New York Times

Hard Truths Block Solutions to Foreclosure Crisis – But, I have the answers that will fix it. Martin Andelman

Nevada AG Masto Gets Up to $57,000 Per Homeowner in Morgan Stanley Settlement Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Joe Costello: Time to Reclaim our Government, Politics, and Future Dylan Ratigan. Please sign the petition at GetMoneyOutofPolitics

Antidote du jour:

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  1. prostratedragon

    Mother* to Son

    Well, son, I’ll tell you:
    Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
    It’s had tacks in it,
    And splinters,
    And boards torn up,
    And places with no carpet on the floor—
    But all the time
    I’se been a-climbin’ on,
    And reachin’ landin’s,
    And turnin’ corners,
    And sometimes goin’ in the dark
    Where there ain’t been no light.
    So, boy, don’t you turn back.
    Don’t you set down on the steps,
    ‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
    Don’t you fall now—
    For I’se still goin’, honey,
    I’se still climbin’,
    And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

    Langston Hughes

    *Or is that father, etc.?

      1. Rex

        I was just looking for a link to the Fugs singing “Yodeling Yippie” but I couldn’t find one. (1969, I think.)

        Couldn’t even find the lyrics.

        A bit from memory…
        Ma-yor Daley you pork-o-morph,
        you’re killing my yodeling friends.

        I’m just a yodeling yi-i-i-ppie.

        1. bmeisen

          Nice summary of what happened:

          IN short, the fix was in at the convention. HUmphrey was going to get it with as little unneccessary discussion about the war as possible. The demostrations were annoying. Daley wanted a distraction, a scandal that could be pinned on Abbie et al, and Abbie et al wanted a scandal to pin on the establishment. According to Hayden, the police violence was limited to street scenes – those taken into custody were treated properly in jail.

  2. Cilly

    The pigweed article is 2 years old … Not doubting the problems with GM crops just asking why post this particular article now?

  3. bmeisen

    TNR takes a look at Christie’s massiveness and may have a point:

    Obama has delivered on the change promise: what’s changed is the weight that many voters, both low- and high-information voters, assign to the appearances of candidates when determining who they vote for. It now decisively trumps rhetoric and platform.

    The author reminds us that obesity has been a knock-out factor for voters, but that oberservation is perhaps outdated. Now we have a game-changing convergence: more than half of Americans are clinically obese and a historical precedent has been set: large numbers of liberals ignored Obama’s explicit policy statements and based their voting behavior primarily on appearance, or as the author above calls it, a cosmetic factor.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In some way, this is the most important comment today.

      I think we have enough of the tyranny of good looking peole.

      Now, some people who know me persnally might think it’s more self-hate on my part, while many others will disagree vehemently, but I will say it nevertheless – good looking people, with their charisma, have done more damage than not-so-good-looking people, even in cases where they are blameless.

  4. Foppe

    I don’t really get Ed’s post. He appears to be saying that there is still some competition left in electronics markets, and aside from that, that Amazon is a “menace”, while Apple is not, even though Apple is constantly busy enforcing the most ridiculous patents in an attempt to create a captive audience. But why endorse anticompetitive business practices? The markets are oligopolistic enough as it is.

  5. wunsacon

    Do you notice some of the odd programming broadcast on the National Geographic Channel? Some of these shows look like propaganda in support of fascism.

    Here’s the lineup on Friday evening from 7pm to midnight:
    Border Wars: Cartel Crackdown – Follow along as agents track suspected illegal immigrants hiking through private ranchland on an unusual trail — one that’s headed in the wrong direction. Then, face off with smugglers and bust a suspected coke house.
    L.A. Gang Wars – Join NGC as they go into the violent L.A. gang world for 4 months, watch an emotional funeral, see 11-year-olds brandishing their weapons, and hear the stories of those entangled in this chilling cycle of bloodshed.
    Taking Down the Mob – Tijuana Drug Lords – The Arellano Felix brothers fed an American appetite for drugs in the late 80’s by one of the world’s largest drug operations, but after their 15 year reign, they were taken down by Mexican and US task force teams.
    L.A. Gang Wars – Join NGC as they go into the violent L.A. gang world for 4 months, watch an emotional funeral, see 11-year-olds brandishing their weapons, and hear the stories of those entangled in this chilling cycle of bloodshed.

    (Do those shows strike you as upmarket versions of “COPS”??)

    Well, I wondered about the foregoing and then discovered NatGeo Channel is part of the Murdoch family of “news” retailers:

    And, oh, did I mention Big-Biz infomercials? Got that, too: “Ultimate Factories: Coca-Cola – Coca-Cola reaches more countries than there are in the United Nations, and it takes a power factory to provide a beverage with a famously secret formula consumed in over 99 percent of the populated world.”

    1. occam's razor

      1) NatGeo/History Channel/etc. are all just driving programs for their core audience, the over 50, white, suburban, Buick-driving crowd. They like shows like COPS! and WWII documentaries.

      2) Corporation/PR-driven shows are cheap to produce and entertaining.

      When TV is driven by ad sales, America will never have TV documentaries like BBC2 or BBC4. Even PBS has to drive its programming toward its contributors and is dumbed-down when compared to BBC2/4—just compare PBS NOVA (minus the Neil Tyson episodes) v. BBC’s Horizon or other science specials.

    2. Fíréan

      in reply @ wunsacon says

      I know that some TV channels are bad for repeats, but the same program – L.A. Gang Wars – Join NGC as they go into the violent L.A. gang world (etc..) – twice in one evening ?

    3. readerOfTeaLeaves

      The Mexican drug wars are very scary, from what I can discern. If you are interested (and can stomach it) read some of the articles at TheExiledOnline re: Mexican drug wars and cartels.
      Extremely disturbing.

      Ratigan’s show had a segment on 9-29 that was eye-raising.

      I don’t think it’s just the demographics. I think there are people no longer traveling to certain parts of Mexico because it just doesn’t feel comfortable.

      When heads start showing up in Laredo, TX next to the body of someone wh blogged a location of a drug seller, IIRC reported this week in the Guardian. And the Ratigan show today discussed heads left by an elementary school to intimidate teachers into handing part of their salaries into a drug cartel.

      Serious stuff.
      And recall that Wachovia was basically laundering millions (billions?) for drug cartels. Probably some spillover with the housing bubble.

  6. Richard Kline

    Lambert’s _Don’t be afraid to say revolution_ post gives a good flavor of the Occupation at Wall Street as of now.

    While I have great sympathy for those who were beaten and face-sprayed this Saturday past, it was the best thing that could have happened for the effectiveness of the protests. I hate to put it that way, but let’s call a spade a spade—and this is nothing new. Clumsy, kneejerk, personalized repression never sells well. Highly organized protests/movements have historically spread that kind of news as a given. Agitators historically try to provoke such repression [Note: that was plainly _not_ the case in these incidents per numerous on the spot reports] exactly because repression is a success multiplier if you roll with the blow. I’m sorry you particular folks took the hit for everybody, but I hope you take solace that your actions have greatly aided the reasons why you were there in the first place.

    As for faux progressives and dipshit critics of ‘aimless’ protests: anarchists have always danced better than they marched, so get over it. Don’t like it? Then lead, follow, or get out of the way yourselves.

    1. lambert strether

      Credit MsExPat, who did the reporting, and not me, please!

      (I just provide the platform!)

      And as for “lead, follow, or get out of the way” — exactly. I’ve seen at least one poster whose nose is severely out of joint because the occupiers aren’t dressing for success. Well, they’re trying something.

    2. Glen

      Good comment!

      With regard to the occupy Wall St movement:

      It’s a natural reaction to the bailing out of the banks that crashed the world economy. We had the “fake rage” of the Tea Party (which was created and controlled by Wall St), but there is no shortage of real rage and real problems out there. These folks represent the portion of the iceberg that is visible, but as we all know, the iceberg is mostly below water and NOT visible. These people, as kooky as they may appear, probably are representative of how the majority of the public views the bailout.

      The real question is NOT if these folks will be successful, it’s which political party will figure out first that appealing to this rather large group of people are going to win the next election cycle in a landslide at every level of government.

      1. Rex

        “The real question is NOT if these folks will be successful, it’s which political party will figure out first that appealing to this rather large group of people are going to win the next election cycle in a landslide at every level of government.”

        It would be nice, but I’m skeptical. I’d expect to see maybe nice hopey-changey rhetoric in one or more of the campaigns. After all, that worked last time. But what are the odds anyone in the two parties would actually slap the hand that feeds them. They’d probably need to get an up front wink-wink nod-nod about their sincerity or they won’t get enough money to run as accustomed.

  7. wunsacon

    >> Had Monsanto wanted to design a deadlier weed, they probably could not have done better. Resistant pigweed is the most feared superweed, alongside horseweed, ragweed and waterhemp.

    Won’t Monsanto benefit from this? Their products lose patent protection at some point. To maximize profits, wouldn’t they prefer that their old products become obsolete and that their customers must buy newer products?

    Cue new product announcements from Monsanto in 5…4…3…

  8. Diego Méndez

    Ouch, Krugman sounds pessimistic.

    Anybody knows where to migrate into to escape the coming Armaggedon?

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Back c.2006, the topic of emigration came up among some of the leading US astrologers. We could all see disaster, starting in 2008. (I myself picked April of that year.) I thought it naive to go elsewhere, since in rough times being a stranger in town is not good idea. Best to stay where you know the locals and they know you.

      I don’t bother NC readers with astrological ramblings (the subject attracts much scorn), but from our point of view, nothing gets better before 2020. Which is as far out as anyone’s looked. August was America’s 8th Saturn return, Uranus and Pluto are dead on square and will be for some time to come, mundane stuff like that.

      Republican presidential candidates’ charts are uniformly disgusting, by the way. Just like the candidates themselves, or why are you surprised?

  9. wunsacon

    >> Please sign the petition at GetMoneyOutofPolitics

    I was about to. But, if no one can contribute anything, won’t the oligarchs simply run for office themselves and spend their own money? Maybe it’s better that they spend their own money. (First, let them waste it instead of suckering the rest of us “donors”. Second, maybe people won’t be as easily manipulated by advertising that’s so obviously self-serving.) But, aside from that, what happens?

    I guess I’m asking how you think that amendment, if passed, would play out. Thanks.

    1. Leviathan

      Yes, I had a similar thought. Where’s the money coming from? Or is everyone just going to run their campaign on Facebook?

      I am assuming they are thinking that public financing will fill the void, but unless you say that up front and trace out how it will work (how does someone qualify? how much money we talking about? what qualifies as “volunteer” service? who will police all this?) I won’t put my name on anything.

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        My impression is that Ratigan and Williams, et al, wisely (in my view) recognized that doing the whole here’s-how-we’ll-fund-campaigns piece would take the focus off Job #1: Get the Money Out.

        I was fine with signing it.
        I don’t have to build all of Rome today.

        One brick at a time. One signature at a time.

        Without solving the problem of getting the money OUT, the next step will never happen. Getting the money out puts pressure on the issue of how to sanely structure elections. Nothing else will put that pressure on.

  10. JTFaraday

    re: Don’t Be Afraid to Say Revolution! Lambert Strether, on Occupy Wall Street

    “Demographics: Changing, indeed. More diverse, different ages. Some union people, college professors doing teach-ins, old lefties having a look-see… Right now, most of the people I talk to in my daily life still think OWS is a hippie fest.”

    Good! I think this needs to change. Some of these kids should go home and come back dressed as young republicans–until the out of work young republicans start showing up themselves. I am totally serious.

    I also want to see middle America out there on its lunch hour. And not gawking, either. Chow down on the right side of the barricades.

    1. Pwelder

      The apparent failure (so far) to recruit some small business/tea party types is a huge oversight. Most of these folks are not stupid, and life has left them with a touch of paranoia. Given the realities, they should be at least as willing to protest the depredations of Big Finance as they are to protest Obamacare.

      1. JTFaraday

        Who said anything about the teapers? They’re entitled to have their own political movement.

        But, I couldn’t help but notice that every kid in the arrest video looked like they just crawled up out of a dive bar in Bushwick.

        Where’s that weaselly out-of-work Roosevelt Institute Campus Network at? Still off networking with Pete Peterson over our dead bodies?

    2. lambert strether

      Once again, credit MsExPat for the reporting, and not lambert.

      That said, “all walks of life” participated in Tahrir Square, Syntagman Square, Puerta del Sol, and we need to see that here.

      That post made me more hopeful than I have been in some time.

      1. Rohrschack

        One minor niggle for that article. The commodore computer isn’t obsolete. In fact there is a new, retro model out with a Cherry keyboard and an atom processor.

  11. JTFaraday

    re: Sure, both parties steal your vote, but now the Ds are talking about suspending elections, Lambert Strether

    Good! More time to impeach Obama.

    Call it off.

  12. Pwelder

    Wrt Economics of Contempt review of Suskind’s Confidence Men:

    The issues which the reviewer raises illustrate, yet again, the biggest obstacle to an electoral resolution on policy toward banking and finance: The universe of observers able and willing to produce a coherent explanation of events is very small.

    I wouldn’t skip Suskind’s effort, notwithstanding its flaws. The riffs on “confidence” in its many meanings and embodiments are by themselves worth the price.

    The most useful review/ companion piece I’ve seen so far is the one Brad Delong put up on his blog. Here’s a link:

    Any other nominations? Thanks, PW

    1. YankeeFrank

      To read DeLong at this point is somewhat shocking — his clueless judgment of the financial team Obama put together (“first-rate”) with who they really were: the same guys who made the biggest financial mess in history. The fact that he judges Obama to have done a decent job on the economy — both serve to make me question his judgment right off the bat, making it even harder for me to continue reading his judgment of Suskind’s book. Sorry, I just don’t see eye to eye with Brad de Long on much of anything.

      1. Bill

        I’m currently reading the Susskind book, not yet
        halfway through, and also read DeLong’s critique.

        It seemed to me he wasn’t really reviewing the
        book actually written, but maybe proposing another book a

  13. JimmyJims

    Sirota’s actual analysis is exactly right. People thought they were getting FDR II; instead, they got Barack Clinton-W-Bush Obama. This is the kind of change you just cannot believe in.

    1. JTFaraday

      I think that’s exactly right. I was watching the polling by state in the months leading up to the election very carefully, and the swing states only swung from McCain to Obama after the market crashed.

      Then, before he was even sworn in, he appointed the Rubinite crew and undid it.

      The rest is history.

  14. Susan the other

    I couldn’t quite tell what Andelman was raving about. A solution to the housing crisis shouldn’t be so convoluted. The biggest disaster we face is the corruption of the land title system. Until that is fixed nothing is fixed. No one is going to buy real estate. And it cannot be fixed piecemeal. To restore the land title system we need clear legislation – but no government wants to touch it – not states (except for Nevada) and certainly not federal (as federal law has questionable jurisdiction at this point). The whole crisis is a catch-22 because you can’t fix the land title system until the securitization fraud is admitted or proved and the banks won’t admit anything until they get amnesty, but if they get amnesty every judge is going to say to homeowners Well, the law provides no remedy for you so all you can do is advertise to quiet your title and wait 10 years. Next case! And the economy will never recover.

  15. barrisj

    Re: Monsanto…monoculture + Darwinian pressure (selection) =
    resistance. Ever since Monsanto put their shite cropseeds on the market, forcing farmers to buy non-propagating seedstock for each planting season, and suing the bejesus out of farmers who had the bad luck to have Monsanto seeds blown onto their fields, this scenario was absoulutely bound to play out. Elementary science, trampled by Monsanto PR and giant marketing efforts, plus friendly governments who declined to ringfence mass plantings of GM crops, and, there you have it. Technology unbounded, but Nature gets her revenge at the end of the day…arrogant bastards, the lot.

  16. kingbadger

    re: Apple: Can it stop the Amazon menace?

    I’m not sure that Apple is in much of a position to stop the march of the sweatshop model, given how Apple uses the same model itself. Apple’s brand of sweatshop is perhaps more shiny and sexy though, so there is still a chance of ultimate victory. Ah but after I click on the link I see the story is about those crucial little things called tablets, not about worker rights or unimportant nonsense like that.

    1. barrisj

      Actually, analysts on “The Street” reckon that NFLX is the big loser here, as the Kindle Fire with its video streaming connection to Amazon content (free to Amazon Prime customers) will put heavy pressure on the Netflix model, forcing either price wars, or inflated licensing fees to content providers as rivals spar for access. The Fire is notably NOT an iPad head-to-head competitor.

  17. Valissa

    Charles River Wins International Riverprize

    The Charles River, once the scourge of Boston epitomized in the Standell’s rock and roll classic “Dirty Water,” is the 2011 winner of the International Riverprize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award. The International RiverFoundation’s (IRF) Thiess International Riverprize, is awarded for visionary and sustainable excellence in river management.

    In 1965, when CRWA was founded, the Charles was an open sewer: tetanus shots and antibiotics were standard treatment for anyone unfortunate enough to fall in. Today, the Charles is heralded as the cleanest urban river in the United States by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Riverprize recognizes and rewards this rejuvenation. “In the world of river management, this is akin to winning the World Series and it was made possible through the engagement, cooperation and hard work of hundreds of partners- at the federal, state, local and grassroots levels,” said Robert L. Zimmerman, Jr., CRWA’s Executive Director. “In the end, however, it’s a trophy for the people that live and work in the communities that comprise the Charles watershed, and for everyone who loves this river,” Zimmerman said. IRF CEO Matthew Reddy says “Charles River should be congratulated for their achievement; it joins the ranks of iconic rivers like the Thames, Danube and Mekong.”

    I love the Charles River! I do a 3 mile walk around a section of the Charles most days (the river is only 2 blocks from my house). Where I live the river is less wide and more wooded (hence more birds and animals too) than the Cambridge/Boston section. The MDC has done a great job with managing the trails on both sides, and there are many sections where people can walk or ride bikes.

    After Minneapolis… Second best city for seniors? Boston

    Good thing because I plan on getting old here.

  18. kingbadger

    re: Great grandson returns with medals of hero

    Every Anglo military person in the entire history of stuff has to be automatically called “heroic” by the Anglo media it seems.

    “He was the only one to bring his original horse back and he was on parade the next day.”

    Well great. Parades are very important, something I learned in Catch-22.

    “Only 20 members of the 13 Light Dragoons emerged from the Valley of Death”

    Ah, the dead, not quite so frisky as the heroic parading survivor. Still, war is bloody romantically spiffingly excellently heroic, innit?

  19. Hugh

    Krugman pines for the economics of 1971. What he misses is that shortly after that time, about 35 years ago, we had the beginnings of the kleptocracy we have now. The fields of economics and political science have been major enablers, rationalizers, and defenders of kleptocracy. So duh, the real surprise here is that Krugman is still wrestling with the realization that his professional career has been part of a criminal enterprise.

    Maybe next week he will get tired of all these nibbles at personal awareness and go back to pointing fingers at those crazy Republicans.

    1. Cilly

      Well, you seem to have some ability to decipher bands of letters strung together into what we call words. To bad you are apparently unable to comprehend the collective meaning of these words.

      Krugman clearly recognizes the role his profession – or more accurately, a faction of his profession – has played in the debacle of the last thirty years. It’s the basis of the entire post.

  20. petridish

    RE: Andelman

    Anyone claiming that ANY kind of LEGISLATION will fix this problem is wasting their time.

    It occurs to me that what needs to happen is for someone with a PERFECTLY CURRENT payment record to sue to establish clear chain of title and demonstrate financial harm from securitization malfeasance. After all, I AM financially damaged if my neighbors are foreclosed on (rightfully or wrongly,) I have standing, and I cannot be accused of trying to get a “free” house. Any magically appearing allonges or robosigning could reasonably be considered a crime against my financial interests and my actions are not a concern.

    Couldn’t a case be made that by providing unpayable loans to my neighbors, guaranteeing foreclosure and a reduction of ALL property values in the neighborhood (including mine) that I have been financially damaged? And wouldn’t any crimes or fraud uncovered be taken more seriously since there was no thought of the dreaded “free house?”

    Just a thought.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves


      I mean, absolutely WOW!!
      I think that you are on to something.

      Definitely relevant in my own case, as I live in a ‘legacy neighborhood’ surrounded by subdivisions full of foreclosures. Local government, state government… all impacted. Myself and neighbors: impacted, and expected to pay for it all.

      I would never have thought about it this way, but I would sure like to see this idea teased out a bit more.

      I’m in a Western state (WA), where property tax is the basis for education and a lot of other infrastructure and public services funding.

      Wow, this is a very interesting idea.

  21. Jim Haygood

    ‘In 1971 it was clear that economists knew a lot that they hadn’t known in 1931. Is that clear when we compare 2011 with 1971? I think you can actually make the case that in important ways the profession knew more in 1971 than it does now.’ — Kurgman

    Love the K-man’s choice of dates! It was on 15 August 1971 that Nixon — instead of balancing the US capital account, or defending the dollar with higher rates — decided to quasi-default by slashing the dollar’s link to gold. Not only did Nixon abrogate a treaty with the stroke of a pen, he also put the world willy-nilly on a fiat currency standard.

    The dire consequences were near-instantaneous: Oil Shock I followed a mere two years later. And from that day to this, essentially every default, starting in the developing world and now in the developed core — has been papered over with more and more debt. After all, sovereign debt is the central monetary asset, so there’s an always-ready market for it, not to mention an inexhaustible supply.

    Yet how many economists will speak out against this deranged, unstable, misbegotten system? One fringe group (the MMTers in the forest, brightly feathered) even claim it’s the best of all possible worlds!

    1. aet

      Trust the shiny yellow metal to keep the Sovereigns honest?
      wasn’t it the Book of Proverbs that says that Gold is the Sovereign of all sovereigns?

      Tell me, were the Conquistadors wise, to kill and enslave the American first nations they encountered, so as to use the gold they then took from them, or enslaved them to mine, back to Europe?

      And why ought we to adopt a system which makes such an vast outrage seem like a proper course of action, for a right Christian nation was the Spain of the conquistadors?

      I say, to Hell with the gold.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If it bothers you so much, just put all your gold on the sidewalk on the trash pick up day.

        I think that will make you feel better.

  22. Jim Haygood

    Excuse the nasty neocon source, but if true, this is really pretty rich:

    Despite the growing Solyndra scandal, yesterday the Department of Energy approved $1 billion in new loans to green energy companies — including a $737 million loan guarantee to a company known as SolarReserve:

    SolarReserve LLC, a closely held renewable energy developer, received a $737 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee to build a solar-thermal project in Nevada.

    The 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes project, near Tonopah, Nevada, will use the sun’s heat to create steam that drives a turbine, the agency said today in a e-mailed statement. SolarReserve is based in Santa Monica, California.

    On SolarReserve’s website is a list of “investment partners,” including the “PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC.” As blogger American Glob quickly discovered, PCG’s number two is none other than “Ronald Pelosi, a San Francisco political insider and financial industry polymath who happens to be the brother-in-law of Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.”

    It’s increasingly hard to tell the government’s green jobs subsidies apart from the Democrats’ friends and family rewards program.

    1. Valissa

      Back when I was a naive and gullible liberal I really believed in the Green Revolution. Then one day I realized it was just liberal propaganda geared towards increasing the Other Green (money) for the liberal elites. While I am still a supporter of alternative energy, I am not a supporter of the gov’t central planning approach assisted by kleptocractic cronyism. I’d like to see more grass roots efforts and non-gov’t supported alternative energy research and business (although tax credits and policy changes that would support the grass roots and small business efforts would be nice – just not the direct cash loans/handouts).

        1. Valissa

          Yeah,I know, I know… but it’s a teensy bit less cronyistic than direct handouts. My current highly unrealistic “green” fantasy is that the gov’t and business (with all that cash they are sitting on) would create and fund some sort of national alternative energy research institute with a goal of low cost solutions, and that would provide the results of that research to anyone who wanted to start a business based on it. It would not be unreasonable for a small percentage of any profits made from this to go back into more funding for the institute. There are many variations of this that could work if the kelptocracy wasn’t so deeply embedded.

          1. Valissa

            Arghhh… kelptocracy… what a typo! Kelp has possibilities!


            Kelp has a high rate of growth and its decay is quite efficient in yielding methane, as well as sugars that can be converted to ethanol. It has been proposed that large open-ocean kelp farms could serve as a source of renewable energy.[11] Unlike some biofuels such as corn ethanol, kelp energy avoids “food vs fuel” issues and does not require irrigation.

      1. Jim

        I was also once a naive and gullible liberal, but I never bought into the “Green Revolution”, especially when I saw so many Dems not practicing what they preach. Instead, I’ve always seen the movement as an excuse to raise taxes on the working class (Cap and Trade, Carbon Tax) without having to increase taxes on the really wealthy. The Dems want more revenue, and they want the working and middle-class to bear the burden.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being green means using clean energy and clean politicians.

      Some of these solar projects don’t seem so green when you dig deeper.

      We need clean, reusable politicans – ones that can be recycled into honest, productive citizens, not those that continue to impact the world negatively hundreds and thousands of years afterwards.

      That’s the kind of Green Movement I can get behind.

  23. Valissa

    Putin for ever, unfortunately; Confronted by a permanent kleptocracy, what should the West do?

    The above is the intriguing headline in my email today from the Economist, although the actual title online is shown below. Note than in the article itself the word kleptocracy is not used. But I had to laugh about the Economist wailing about Russia being a kleptocracy… a classic propaganda case of “The pot calling the kettle black”… LOL… Personally I find Putin a fascinating leader to study. At least he IS one, which is more than can be said for Western so-called leaders today.

    The return of Vladimir Putin – The once and future president

    1. Valissa

      This differs from Obama how?

      There is no doubt that Mr Putin will win the election. Russia’s “managed democracy” keeps television under tight control and suppresses genuine opposition, allowing only sham candidates to run.

    1. BH

      Can you dispute any of his/her substantive points, or are you just mad because you wanted Suskind’s book to be true?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      There are two issues here: one is whether the criticisms EoC makes are valid. The answer is yes.

      Second is whether he presents them fairly. Here you have a legitimate criticism, which I sorta flagged in the post. He goes way overboard and tries to make these (maybe pretty big) errors into a fundamental indictment. He MIGHT be able to make that case. But there is a big gap between his headline/opening para claims and the evidence he offers.

      And this is the problem with EoC generally, he often does not argue in an above board manner, and he is a predictable Geithner defender.

      1. Brett

        In my opinion, I’ve found similar errors in Suskind’s book. At one point he regurgitates the myth that America will be vastly harmed if China stops buying our debt. In fact, that would help America as they are buying treasury bonds (while selling their currency) to hold the yuan undervalued to help their exports. If China were to stop doing this, and reverse the trade, their currency would rise and our trade deficit would be helped out.

        But I think the real value of Suskind’s book is whether he got right what was said in the meetings. People obviously talked to him and told him how certain closed meetings went and who said what. No one is reading Suskind’s book to learn about economics or finance — in fact I find his explanations of those topics distracting as he doesn’t do that great of a job of explaining and I’ve read about CDOs and CDSs in countless other books.

        It’s the reporting on what happened in the backrooms that is valuable. And I think he probably got most of that right. It seems he may even be right about the Citigroup controversy. He seems to quote Alan Krueger as directly confirming that nationalizing Citigroup was discussed. Some other journalist should do their job and call up Krueger and confirm whether or not that was the case. But he has direct quotes from Krueger discussing it, and circumstantial quotes of Geithner discussing it, and even more of Obama discussing (though Obama’s and Geithner’s are not direct and could be out of context).

      2. barrisj

        Jacob Weisberg’s takedown of “Confidence Men” was quite vicious, but largely directed toward Suskind’s methodology, sloppy research, and basically falling short of Woodwardism Inside Baseball reporting, if one can indeed elevate Woodward’s status to the level that Weisberg suggests.
        Worth a read, whatever your opinion on Suskind, Brad DeLong, or the Obama crowd.

        1. Moe

          Re Economics of Contempt’s “takedown”

          The press looks different in DC. It’s completely dysfunctional. Nothing actually gets achieved here beyond corruption and propaganda. Almost all journalism is 100% access journalism. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are a lot of decent well-meaning people who remember when it wasn’t this way. But they’re irrelevant, and generally viewed with contempt.

          The issues raised by [predictable Geithner booster] Econ of Contempt are so minor in the context of the book’s scope, and his tone is so preposterously unbelievably harsh, that…uh, there’s no real way to respond. It’s not serious. I don’t know why Yves thinks it is. I don’t know why Yves would take seriously enough to link anyone who has proven to be a predictable Geithner booster. Has Geithner ever, ever, in his entire career exhibited an interest in a single thing anyone here values? Decency, opportunity, merit, the public interest, humanity, civilization, hard work, fairness… fucking any of those things? I mean, I don’t see it. Shit, I sure as hell didn’t want to feel this way about him. But whatever, he has his defenders. I’m friends with a few of them. They’re universally dudes. I do not trust their judgment w/r/t him. I’ve seen enough. It’s a serious blind spot; the worst decision Obama made. The evidence is there. But he’s got the press locked up in a serious way; he’s a powerful guy and he’s spent a lot of time cultivating them, as I learned a couple years ago:

          Journalism is stressful and the harder you think about it, the more you believe in its value, the more thankless you’ll the job to be, especially in Washington. I don’t think Geithner’s shills are bad people or even stupid, they just haven’t thought as hard about it has unemployment has enabled me to. And they don’t know how bad it is out there.

          So, Suskind is different because he’s a pretty serious journalist. He’s the anti-Woodward because he actually cares about the truth of things and the impact they have on people and he gravitates toward the decent and humane and intellectually honest as opposed to the powerful and crafty. This is commercially worthwhile because people with a capacity for introspection and a conscience are the sorts of characters who can sustain a narrative and sell a book. But Jesus Christ thus far have those characters been rare in these narratives. I mean, I’m sure a lot of other NC regulars read “Fool’s Gold” and “In Fed We Trust”…good god. Those casts of characters made Greg Zuckerman’s John Paulson seem compelling, and uhhh, John Paulson is not particularly compelling. (Andrew Lahde, on the other hand…well anyway)

          In any case, the point is, Suskind has made some stupid errors but fundamentally it’s hard to trust the conscience or motives of anyone joining the obviously beholden struggle session to discredit and denounce him right now. It’s hard to convey this to people who’ve never lived in Washington, but uhhhh…very rare is the “journalist” who has made a career here who actually cares about journalism or even knows what it is. I mean…Jacob Weisberg? He wrote Bob Rubin’s “memoir” for crying out loud; his Suskind hit piece was practically a contractual obligation.

          Now, anyone who actually goes out and buys the Suskind book will, if one hasn’t already fallen under the toxic influence of some Obama Geithner shill, I imagine understand what I’m talking about. The criticisms of his book that have surfaced on the internet so far are all straight from the Troll Handbook; the book is interesting and almost everything in it is new and it’s clear he’s really trying to understand why it didn’t work out more like we all wanted it to and were sure it would when we voted for this guy. It’s important that this is a guy who has been seriously engaged with the diabolical dysfunctions of government; someone who has spent the past 8 years grappling to distill into a narrative the absurd depravities of the Bush Administration. This is hard work, especially because so few in DC are willing to admit that there’s anything “new” or “surprising” or “unprecedented” or legitimately “sensational” about anything that happens ever, but that’s precisely what we’ve been dealing with all millennium; insanity, absurdity, vulgarity, etc.

          I could be wrong about a lot of little things but I doubt I’m wrong on anything big. Too many people talked to Suskind; it’s almost as if they all hung out together the night Summers was at Davos and Geithner was at his stupid Treasury Secretary dinner and agreed to bare their souls to Suskind even if they had to deny it afterward to ever work again. Too many people talked to him, on the record, and he has tried way too hard to really illuminate the strange policy fuckups of Obama’s first two years for anyone with any seriousness whatsoever to want to slay him. Those who have been slaying him have a conspicuous agenda, they shouldn’t be taken seriously. and what’s sad is that they never would have been taken seriously, when Suskind started in this business and it wasn’t such an embarrassing cesspool. He probably doesn’t even care all that much about the campaign to smear him; he doesn’t probably realize that it matters, or maybe he’s just realized that too much thinking about it can turn anyone into Gary Webb.

          But the internet has slaughtered seriousness. And I am fucking quitting tomorrow.

          1. BH

            Moe: If anyone is too biased to be taken seriously on the Suskind book, it would seem to be you. You obviously hate Tim Geithner (who you’ve evidently built up in your head to be some sort of monstrous figure); Suskind’s book slams Geithner; thus, you think Suskind’s book is amazing. No surprise there. Economics of Contempt may be biased because he’s a Geithner supporter, but your all-consuming hatred of Geithner would seem to put you well beyond the realm of merely “biased.” He also seems to know what he’s talking about.

            It’s revealing that you think Economics of Contempt’s post is part of a “campaign to smear” Suskind. Maybe, just maybe, Suskind’s book really is that bad, and you’re the only one who doesn’t realize it. But everything is a conspiracy to a conspiracy theorist…

          2. MisterG

            Don’t quit! Your Ray Nagin hook was truly brilliant, and the world deserves more of that light shining into the darkness.

            I especially enjoyed it as a counterpoint to Brad DeLong’s querulous “I had hoped to learn” statements.” Suskind may not have laid out all the answers, but it’s clear that he provided way more than most people want to hear.

            Your gut-level impressions are on the mark and your firebrand ability to express them is vitally needed. I know too well how debilitating the unemployment thing can be, but your skills and knowledge are critical at this point in time.

            After all, someone is going to have to shed more light on that dog that doesn’t bark in the White House.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            I’m only about 40 pages into the book, but I find several things noteworthy.

            First, the book is heavy handed in putting forward a story line that exculpates Obama for responsibility for bad economics policies. You get tons of stuff early on how he has no managerial skills and is overly loyal. I say bullshit. An executive is ultimately responsible, if he is a shitty executive, he is still ultimately responsible.

            Second, Obama is a long established neoliberal and a protege of Robert Rubin. Do you think in a nanosecond Obama would put Citigroup in conservatorship when Rubin was on the board? Obama whipped for TARP aggressively, he left his campaign to do so.

            I don’t buy Suskind’s overall thesis one iota, and he does have tons of lower level errors, they are close to embarrassing (one major one every 4-5 pages). The insidery detail will fill in a lot of gaps, and is fun, but this book is a piece of Obama flattering propaganda.

            Sgt. doom comments in the last day or so put up a list of the people Obama fired versus JFK. It’s very revealing:

            Obama’s fires:

            Vann Jones (the green jobs advocate)

            Susan Crawford (the network neutrality advocate)

            Shirly Sherrod (the small farmer advocate who wasn’t even an Obama appointee, but in the USDA and was fired because the Obamabots were scared of Glenn Beckerhead).

            JFK’s fires:

            Top three guys at CIA (Allen Dulles, Richard Bissell and Gen. Cabell), and a bunch of generals including Lemnitzer and LeMay.

            BTW, Richard Bissell was the grand-uncle of the rightwinger Obama reappointed from the Bush administration, FBI Director Robert Mueller.

  24. barrisj

    BTW, any readers here interested in an update on Obama’s expanded “dronification” of US foreign policy? An excellent precis is presented by Tom Engelhardt at his indispensable TomDispatch website here:

    Sex and the Single Drone
    The Latest in Guarding the Empire
    By Tom Engelhardt

    In the world of weaponry, they are the sexiest things around. Others countries are desperate to have them. Almost anyone who writes about them becomes a groupie. Reporters exploring their onrushing future swoon at their potentially wondrous techno-talents. They are, of course, the pilotless drones, our grimly named Predators and Reapers.

    As CIA Director, Leon Panetta called them “the only game in town.” As Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates pushed hard to up their numbers and increase their funding drastically. The U.S. Air Force is already training more personnel to become drone “pilots” than to pilot actual planes. You don’t need it in skywriting to know that, as icons of American-style war, they are clearly in our future — and they’re even heading for the homeland as police departments clamor for them.

    They are relatively cheap. When they “hunt,” no one dies (at least on our side). They are capable of roaming the world. Someday, they will land on the decks of aircraft carriers or, tiny as hummingbirds, drop onto a windowsill, maybe even yours, or in their hundreds, the size of bees, swarm to targets and, if all goes well, coordinate their actions using the artificial intelligence version of “hive minds.”

    The Pentagon is furiously building launching platforms for these devices all across the world, and their usage patterns to date certainly suggest a “global reach” brief. All those who voted for the O-man thinking that he would roll back the worst excesses of Cheney/Bush/Rumsfeld “GWOT”, straddle-the-planet, Merkan might-is-right foreign policy should give a read to Tom’s article. Especially of concern are the – cough, cough – “legal” arguments being offered within the government that such “targeted assassination”, aka murder tactics can be justified under laws of war, much as John Woo et al set out the necessary “legal” cover for waterboarding and other medieval acts of torture that later became sanctified government policy. Anybody who thinks that imperialism – sorry, “global projection of US power – could be constrained by mere budgetary considerations had better recalibrate his/her thinking.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I just want to say hi to the two-faced cat, Janus.

    I just read about him and want o wish him another happy 12 more years…at least.

  26. charles 2

    Re Joe Costello : “getting the money out of politics” is just attacking the symptom. The real disease is that money effectively buy the marginal votes, and marginal votes have a disproportionnal importance in most electoral systems. There is no simple answer to this : a democracy is as dumb (or as intelligent) than its swing voters, who in most cases lacks the cultural and intellectual bagage to address the problems of an increasingly complex world. Education of citizens and “getting the marketing tools out of politics” are the only long term solutions, but they are excruciatingly slow to implement, and, in most places apart from scandinavian countries, the world may be going too fast for this process to be accomplished.
    Similar to China who may become old before becoming rich, Democracies could become irremediably dysfunctional before becoming smart.

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