Links 12/11/11

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Polar bear ‘cannibalism’ pictured BBC

Breaking News: Feds Falsely Censor Popular Blog For Over A Year, Deny All Due Process, Hide All Details…TechDirt (hat tip reader Lance N)

Falcone’s LightSquared Said to Disrupt 75% of GPS in Tests Bloomberg

Europe’s Deadly Transition From Social Democracy to Oligarchy Michael Hudson via Phil’s Stock World (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Euro lacks a government banker, not lender of last resort Thomas Palley, Financial Times

Euro Crisis Pits Germany and U.S. in Tactical Fight New York Times

The Merkelization of Europe Foreign Policy (hat tip Marshall Auerback)

Swedish Lex reminds of this 2009 post: Guest Post: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard & the City’s hard EU choices

Tens of thousands protest against Putin Financial Times

The Saudi Arab Spring Nobody Noticed Russ Baker (hat tip Lambert Strether)

China vows pursuit of more balanced trade Financial Times

Robert Fisk: Bankers are the dictators of the West Independent (hat tip Doug Smith)

Negative Equity: How Many Loans are Underwater in Your State? creditsesame (hat tip reader Carol B)

Court Cases Revealing Massive Fraud in Mortgage Business Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

30 Major U.S. Corporations Paid More to Lobby Congress Than Income Taxes, 2008-2010 International Business Times (hat tip reader 1 SK)

How The West Helped Invent Russia’s Election Fraud: OSCE Whistleblower Exposes 1996 Whitewash Alexander Zaitchik and Mark Ames, eXiled

Irony alert: U.S. calls on Russia to respect peaceful protests Raw Story (hat tip reader 1 SK)

The Walmart Heirs Have The Same Net Worth As The Bottom 30 Percent Of Americans Think Progress (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers — Occupy Protesters Plan to Shut Down West Coast Ports in Protest AlterNet (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Occupy Our Homes Chris Hayes, MSNBC (hat tip reader MBH)
New Nevada law spurs big drop in homes entering foreclosure LA Times (hat tip Lisa Epstein). Um, we wrote about this last month.

Antidote du jour (hat tip Harry Shearer):

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  1. Richard Kline

    Regarding the Monday port actions which will be undertaken by Occupation movements in coordination, I anticipate a significant police response. One can’t be certain of that, but that would fit the trend of things. Despite that, I’ll be marching with Occupy Seattle, and we will see what we will see.

    Initially, the authorities were broadly confounded by the Occupations. At their root, the camps are constitutionally protected protest. Straightforward police muscle modulated to squash ‘unpopular quasi-terrorists’ flopped and worse when implemented against sincere citizens undertaking quite popular and nonviolent protests. Subsequently, a counter-propaganda campaign to smear the camps was worked up gradually; that had less effect on the public perhaps than on impressionable local judges which have gradually given the local authorities more figleafs for cover. Many large cities with Occupations coordinated timing and resources while getting their nerve up (regardless of what you think about Federal level pillow-plumping—and perhaps promised indirect funding—in that regard). After preparing the ground, the authorities ‘changed posture,’ taking most major camps by police storm ‘to reassert authority,’ though making an effort to keep their physical repression as much off camera, out of sight of legal media, and off the record as possible. Other camps have de-mobed intentionally due to local good accords with authorities or hosts so as to keep the activists’ ardor dry, to bend a metaphor, for actions to come. There have been a number of mass, daytime actions in the course of that which the authorities drew back from confrontin; specifically, the police did not directly engage the previous Port blockade in Oakland, being at the nadir of their ‘confounded cycle.’

    So if I was sitting where the authorities are, the present status report would be ‘mass police response works if we show it’s their own damned faults and block out the media.’ Because after all the camps are largely removed now. Presented with a major challenge while ‘the game’ seems going their way, what do you suppose the authorities would do, nothing or ‘what just worked?’

    The impending port actions on Monday are a major economic and political challenge to local, and national authority. I don’t know how much all of the rest of you are aware of this but _nothing_ of this scale has been attempted since the wave of sit-down strikes in the late 1930s. Small protests, yes. A shut down of something here or there; yes. A coordinated action for a deliberate political end; no. Big ‘marches to the royal capital’ yes; to stand around on the lawn giving speeches to each other, and then go home. An actual citizens’ intervention in the wheels of the economy; no. I don’t want to make too much of this exactly, but from the perspective of the authorities being the authorities on what is permissible, it’s a sea change if it takes place. So as I said, I would anticipate significant police opposition.

    I can’t say I’m rooting for police repression to occur. What matters most, whether that occurs or not, is for the Occupiers to keep their discipline and their nonviolence, however the actions come off. This may just be just another in a link of a chain of actions to raise pressure—or it may be transformative in a number of ways. It’s going to be interesting to find out. Bring your ID, legal contact number, and sense of humor it you’re coming out—and I hope you are.

      1. psychohistorian

        A shout out to Richard for sharing his insight and another vote for that humor strength of the masses.

        LAUGH the global inherited rich out of control of “Western Democracies” and into rooms at the Hague where they can be prosecuted for our social degradation.

      2. FaustCarton

        A quote from one of your greatest:
        “Your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug,—push it a little—crowd it a little—weaken it a little, century by century: but only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand.” Mark Twain “The Chronicle of Young Satan” (ca. 1897–1900, unfinished).

      3. Richard Kline

        The Man wants you fearful, rageful, divided, and exhausted, even if you aren’t in opposition, so it’s an essential component of activism to cultivate adventure, humor, and joyous sharing, both to nurture change and spit in the malevolent eye of those clutching moneypower to their breast. That’s my perspective anyway. If they’re going to shoot you anyway, put a flower in your buttonhole and smoke that cigarette, baby.

    1. the real deal

      Mr. Kline:

      This “Port Shutdown” is going to be a train wreck and a huge setback for the OWS movement.

      For one, the left fettishizes the ILWU as a socially conscious, democratic, rank and file run union that elects the leadership; except when those rank and file elected leaders disagree with Occupy Oakland et al, then they are “union bureaucrats” out of touch with the membership, and the “rank and file support this”. However, the rank and file as a whole has never voted on it, but rather, a handful of outspoken long time and well known hard left members tell folks what they want to hear. So these voices are substituted for the rank and file, and the Occupy folks run with this in the classic style Mark Twain cited (boots, lies, etc.). One could just as easily find reactionary views by handfuls of union members, from being far right to espousing anti-Semetic “bankster” rhetoric, but you would never argue that this also amounts to the “rank and file” supporting this view.

      Of the main people pushing this line are hardcore Marxist Leninists, who do not take the tack of criticism from the outside; “action” and “theory” are one, and so if one is not involved in “action” then one simply doesn’t get it. Well, let me point out something here. The longshoremen have their own culture, their own autonomy, their own ways of determining the priorities of their struggles (e.g. EGT). What Occupy Oakland has done, and encouraged others to do, is to show up at their house with all of their friends who have a reputation for trashing the place, and grousing that the people whose house the party is being thrown has objections. Inviting people to a party in their own house that they are not putting on does not ameliorate this. Twice the leadership has said so much: we like you, but no party at our place TODAY.

      The leadership as well as the spokespeople for the ILWU have sent numerous communications to both the media and their own members stating their positions of supporting the critique that OWS makes, but not the actions of these “Port Shutdowns”. At least one local’s rank and file has voted definitively and explicitly to not support them. Yet the Occupy folks push onward, ignoring these facts, and worst case, telling people how grateful they ought to be for having to put up with “help” that they didn’t ask for. If the recipient isn’t asking for help, or prefers support in some other way, it isn’t really help, is it? No, it is a continuation of the ideology of imperialism, right or left, in a microcosmic sense, i.e. we know what’s best for you, you backward (insert group of people here).

      It is equally disturbing that there is some heavy anti-union rhetoric coming out of the Occupy camp in order to rationalize this imposition; at best, “trade union consciousness” that is inherently reactionary, and at worst, “fuck democracy” and “they make too much money”. It would be comical if it were not true. It reveals the ideological commonality between the far right and the aspects of the left that cling to State Socialist ideology.

      That the Occupy movement called a “general strike” in Oakland, which failed to materialize as such, has resulted in the hard left press tabloids, as well as the Occupy movement, to either lie and say the general strike did happen, or to redefine the tactic to the point of losing any meaning. Maybe we can simply redefine what a socialist Utopia (or post-capitalist one, take yer pick) is in contemporary circumstances, and forgo the revolution altogether. My guess is that when this Port Shutdown goes awry, we will hear blame being shifted to everyone else except for Occupy, to the extent that it was not successful, and that victory as already been claimed before the fact. There will be no self criticism, but calls to press onward, in a harder and more militant (and smaller) manner.

      It is disheartening that most people have no idea that this manipulation of events and facts are taking place behind the scenes. But make no mistake; occupy has alienated much of the rank and file of the longshoremen who otherwise and initially agreed with the goals of OWS, in order to keep favor with a sliver minority of Marxist Leninists and Trotskyites. It always baffles me that even anarchists with their critique of these ideological orientations continue to work with these people and allow themselves to be manipulated by them. This will be, and is likely the undoing of any alliance between Occupy and the longshoremen; the movement can’t handle “no” in the same way a stalker can’t.

      Sad. I hope Yves will investigate this narrative, because this Port Shutdown is NOT what it appears. The longshoremen do not get a say in the narrative, except when it conforms to a preconceived outcome and ideology.

      1. the real deal

        To clarify: The above sentence,

        “But make no mistake; occupy has alienated much of the rank and file of the longshoremen who otherwise and initially agreed with the goals of OWS, in order to keep favor with a sliver minority of Marxist Leninists and Trotskyites”,

        should have read,

        “But make no mistake; occupy has alienated much of the rank and file, in order to keep favor with a sliver minority of Marxist Leninists and Trotskyites, and has alienated much of the rank and file of the longshoremen who otherwise and initially agreed with the goals of OWS”.

        1. Sock Puppet

          Mr. Deal, you’re forgetting that while all the 99% are equal, OWS are more equal than the others.

        2. EH

          Among the variety of unfounded assertions in your long post, what is your basis for asserting this particular point?

          How accurate have your prognostications been in the past?

        3. Binky the perspicacious bear

          This is brilliant satire or parody, perhaps. In any case it reflects the kind of lunatic propaganda environment we live in today, a kind of Fox News parallel universe where the main goal is to declare whoever you are mad at that day a Communist.
          One of my cats, for example, is a clear Marxist-Leninist enemy of capitalism because some poop stuck to its worker/farmer posterior fur and was smeared all over the floor in the utility room in a bee line from the cat box. This is the revolution against the bourgouis oppressor who demands a poop smear free floor!
          My personal experience with longshoremen is rather the opposite of Marxism; rather more like unfettered capitalism more delicate folks would call mobster capitalism. As in: Nice boat, it would be a shame if some of the stuff fell off it. Maybe you could pay us a little extra for good service, eh? No one has bought in more to what capitalism has become than unions that have leverage. Clever foreigners recently tried to run a port without longshoremen in SW Washington State and have been getting a lesson in market forces.

          1. the real deal

            Neither you, or anyone else here has disputed anything I have said, save the implications that I am some kind of Fox News drone. Ad Hominem much? I invite you all to follow up on what I have mentioned here. Any activist will tell you that Trots are toxic to the point of not having to be very numerous to really gum up the works. Ask anyone who has spent more then six month on any community campaign in an urban area, esp. on any campus.

          2. JTFaraday

            “My personal experience with longshoremen is rather the opposite of Marxism; rather more like unfettered capitalism more delicate folks would call mobster capitalism.”

            Yeah, I think he was calling OWS a bunch of Marxists, or more specifically, of having a “Marxist-Leninist” inner hard core that didn’t consult with (and defer to) the Longshore mobster bureaucracy, which now evidently has its “not-overpaid” panties in a bunch.

            But, interesting, now that I write it, I’m reminded of Graeber’s account of the day in the park last summer when his “small-A anarchists” walked away from “the verticals.” That day, the crowd followed the anarchists.

            Perhaps someone walked away again.

        4. Mike Fallopian

          Do you think these Marxist-Leninists have already infiltrated the US government?

          And let’s hope they don’t succeed in undermining Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Monsanto, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grunman, Boeing Co, Raytheon Co, General Dynamics, Exxon, etc.

          What do you think concerned citizens should be doing to try and stop this Red Menace?

        5. LeonovaBalletRusse

          real deal – mightn’t they be arrested for interfering with *interstate commerce* or some *trade* violation? This could get really ugly: they might pull *felony* out of the hat, leaving participants with a *record*. This regime brooks no contradiction.

      2. Richard Kline

        Well, the faux steal, lah-de-dah. We should just wait until everybody is absolutely on board and super-duper comfortable and absolutely nobody’s meal ticket gets even a bitty-bit crimped before we do anything whatsoever about change. Wait another century, judging by the standard you would espouse. Well we can’t. To address the minute grain of relevance in your remarks, we have to take actions because the time for sitting on ones ass hoping everybody is comfy-cushy with what’s done is long past.

        But they you really are full of it, aren’t you, supposing that your comment wasn’t the obvious plant that it is. “‘Rank and file aren’t [X],” you allege—with zero (0) evidence to support that. There have been no published reports of rank and file on the ports arguing against port actions. Your assertion is more fabrication than baseless. “They no longer support OWS whereas once they [Y],” you remark again with no basis of evidence. But supposing that was true, so what? If the ‘support’ from any faction was so tenuous that it vanished as soon as they were impacted in any way by resistance to the power structure, it was nonexistent to begin with, no support at all but bandwagoning for advantage. We haven’t seen much of that, but that would be all your alleged vanished support amounted to.

        We have seen union leadership begging for these actions not to occur. Because those unions are in a very awkward position. The port unions had a shutdown in support of the Wisconsin labor action in February, AND WERE FINED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR IT but the massively boss-favoring legal system and Labor [subjugation] Relations regulatory structure. The union leadership _has_ to distance itself from in any way supporting these actions or they will face persecutory penalties up to the potential level of decertification. The unions are in a bind. —But this isn’t about the longshore unions, many of whose rank and file _do_ support the actions. This is part of a national movement for economic justice and political change. So the contention advance in a bogus fashion in your remarks that this ‘is counterproductive to the docks’ really isn’t germane to the larger reasons for undertaking the action. There are transport workers at numbers of these ports who are severely exploited: the action supports them, to as one component. You of course make no mention of that.

        Because your argument is part of the smear-meme that has already been promulgated and planted all around the national press that ‘unions don’t support the port actions.’ Open any paper, and we see this perspective, of which your remarks are a lengthier repetition, with *horrors* tags of Marxists stapled on for the presumably market capitalist friendly readership of this particular venue. When I mentioned that the authorities have geared up their counter-propaganda, folks, this is exactly what i meant. To justify police repression, it’s important to salt the 1%-owned media with memes that ‘these actions are too much,’ and ‘unions don’ support them,’ and ‘those Occupiers are alienating the support they once had.’ All without sources, or minimal ones without context (like the union heads with the Feds and judges on their necks). And it is seeing this organized presentation in the media—ready any Monday morning edition major paper—which supports my contention that police repression is pre-planned.

        I’d say more, but I’ve already spent more time on your repetition of false narratives than your remarks merit.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Well done, Richard Kline! That’s a concise, eye-opening dissection of the murky, divide-and-conquer politics of union disempowerment. Thank you for the a-hah! moment.

          (Thanks to the ‘the real deal’, too, for the classic red-menace target.)

      3. Jon

        “The leadership as well as the spokespeople for the ILWU have sent numerous communications to both the media and their own members stating their positions of supporting the critique that OWS makes, but not the actions of these “Port Shutdowns”.”

        Funny how the ILWU are striking today. You have wrong information.

  2. Richard Kline

    And on another subject, Yves I didn’t have time to forward you this one on changes in Pakistan for links:

    There are many other items in the news, so this is getting zero play. The NYT doesn’t even have a boilerplate article up yet. But the game has changed, uttterly and permanently, in the AfPak war. When the top brass of Pakistan announce publicly, “We will shoot down any American drone in our airspace,” which they have just done, that’s an ultimatum. I have no idea what the US is going to do now that we’ve screwed this one up beyond all recognition or salvation. But things are going sideways into something else in US-Pakistan and US-SW Asia balances and relations. Shooting war now? Well, nobody is _planning_ on that, which is no bar at all on several somebodies making even more idiot moves than already undertaken. But after the 2012 election is in the books, there may be follow-ons to this, if the matter holds together in one piece that long. By the time this one goes critical, most of us will have forgotten when, where, and why the state of things changed, so if keeping track of those transition points is of interest to you all, this is that when and where.

    1. ambrit

      Mr Kline;
      Things would appear to be even stranger in Pakistan than we suspected. Given the ‘third leg’ nature of the Pakistani army in their society and government, for them to go public about this matter is signifigant. It suggests that they are wooing local public opinion, which further suggests that they have some internal problem they cannot solve ‘amongst themselves.’ An appeal to the public for support, which this clearly is, is an admission of weakness. Otherwise they would follow the Iranian example and display the remains of an American drone to the world after it was brought down. It looks from here as if the Nativist elements in the Pakistani power elites are flexing their muscles. Seeing as how they are thumbing their noses at the U.S. it will be instructive to see who steps in to fill the vacuum as the Americans withdraw their ‘support.’ Chineese ‘export’ credits? Russian ‘construction loans?’ Even, Allah be praised, Saudi ‘infrastructure development grants?’ The Great Game is still afoot.

      1. Richard Kline

        So ambrit, the political structure of Pakistan far exceeds in complexity the templet you suggest there; that’s not a criticism, but the types of reasoning you pursue are going to come short of conclusions.

        In Pakistan, the Army is autonomous of the state; in fact, the army _preceded_ the state because [too many details for today]. The military, despite losing all the wars it has fought, had and still has a credibility in Pakistan far in excess of any other institution or faction, at least a credibility with the land owning and industrializing elites, if not anymore with the nascent middle class. This is in part because the Pakistani military has substantial economic properties of its own. Political parties in Pakistan have some popular traction, but only with mutually hostile factions. Moreover, all politicos are astoundingly corrupt, and held in universal contempt except by those on their own payrolls. The army has ruled at times, but it is a poor and indifferent ruler. Most of the officer class would rather fob off the messy details of minimally effective civil governance onto any weak political faction who’ll take them on.

        That’s the back story. The front story is that the US held a gun to the head of the Pakistani military in October 2001, giving them an ultimatum to ‘assist the US in all particulars’ in the US occupying Pakistan or face a declaration of war. Yes, the details on that aren’t discussed in public in the US, but it is fully apparent that exactly that happened. Pakistan could have had much of its military assets and national intrastructure bombed back into Fourth World status, or to toady up and ‘be our friend.’ So they knuckled under. All the rest is window dressing.

        Well, we could have and should have gotten the hell out of Afghanistan years ago, but Bo Prez Obama decided that this was a cheap and easy game for him to play to look ‘militarily strong.’ So he and his have been assing around, with operational ineffectiveness and strategic incompetance for years now. Thousands of Pakistanis have been slain to date as ‘collateral damage’ in the ongoing US war on Pashtunistan, but Pakistan’s military leadership hasn’t been willing to resist an open break. Pakistan’s public is furious and more than willing for such a break, in fact demanding such a break: this action by the Pakistani military isn’t dealing from domestic weakness but from domestic strength.

        The mafioso-in-chief over their named Zardari was, like his wife, put back in nominal charge of the government by the US to all intents and purposes to ‘mind the store’ in American interests. He’s been seen by all but a tiny faction of his own political party as a traitor to his country, but one useful in that he could sweet-talk the Americans to behave at least minimally decently. But he just got himself completely discredited beyond recovery by a truly bungled powerplay of some kind not yet clear soliciting yet more American aid to turn him into something more like Maliki in Iraq. That flopped, and Pakistani Pres. Zardari has effectively fled the country for his health—literally, that’s the word.

        The Pakistani military has closed off the logistical routes to Afghanistan several times as their relationship with the imperialism of the US has worsened. This time, it’s different. And kicking out the US drone directing base on Pakistani soil is a red line crosssed off too. It’s clear that the Pakistani military feels their back is to the wall; that further concessions are pointless or worse; that any quasi-military confrontation that might (or might not) happen in the near term is survivable for them (and I suspect they are right); that going into an election year domestically compromised is a poor moment for the nebbishy Obama to man-up an escalation. And so on, and so on: the Pakistanis have had it, and are ready for something else. Whether they will actually shoot down drones remains to be seen; yes, I suspect, and they have always had the means.

        Obama has blown Pakistan, big and bad. What will get done about it is unclear, but the game that was being played is done.

        1. ambrit

          Mr Kline;
          Yes, I must agree. Applying Western political standards to Pakistan just now is indeed Hubris of a grand order. Seeing as how the present maps of much of the world are remnants of the old Colonial period, what would a realistic political map of that region look like today? Would Afghanistan even exist as a single polity? I think not.
          Another complicating factor is India. What kind of regieme in Islamabad would they prefer? Absent the nukes, would they like Pakistan to break up altogether?
          Obama has indeed tried to be “The Man Who Would Be King.” He’s on track to suffer the same fate, for the same reason.
          Rather than being the home of the “Masters of the Worlds’ Fate,” the Hindu Kush is filling its’ traditional role of “Graveyard of Empires.”

        2. Lew Glendenning

          I recall reading that the US’s military aid is delivered directly from the US Treasury to the Pakistani military’s acccount, no intermediaries. Therefore there is no auditing, …

          So I suspect the officer corps is just as corrupt as the civilian politicians, they can hide it better.

          I also think that might have had a lot to do with their decision to support the US in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, they play to the populace as a negotiating tactic. Bet they settle for more $ from the Treasury.

    2. skippy

      Pakistan has also shut a vital NATO supply route into Afghanistan, calling the incident on November 26 in which dozens of its troops died in an air strike by the miliary alliance on a border post “a deliberate act of aggression”


      The boots on the ground will feel this more than the brass. Key sign is death threats to westerners compound doors start going up again, like last time. When Paki police can not or choose to look the other way, with regard to non nationals aka westerners its all fooked up. Um strange bed fellows could make things even more complicated… Iran?

      Skippy…breeze to your back on Monday OK and if you get any smelling salts on you, don’t rub it! Note, GA’s are starting to work accordingly over here, fun how some thought it was *their* movement. Cheers RK.

      1. bob

        They still haven’t been able to account for where all of the fuel for Afganistan is coming from. The “local” obvious choice for a gas (diesel) station is Iran, but they are being “sanctioned”- military industrial complex contacts get most of the cream for “hiding” the source.

    3. CB

      This article from consortiumnews in July is also interesting: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is probably common knowledge in that part of the world but unknown here.

      I hope the empire is coming undone because it’s been obvious for some time now that the emperor and his court have no clothes. We’ve had a series of naked ruling cliques–including Congress. Of course. A nation which can’t afford decent civilian infrastructure, a point made every time I drive, and which just reduced a second rate postal service to fourth rate has no supporting foundations. Military hardware be damned.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        CB, seriously, I read every word of “Asian Alliance Supplants US Empire” at It’s a very important link, and especially pertinent to the discussion about Pakistan at NC today. It looks like Pakistan is just waiting for us to get out so it can join China, Russia, and India in the SCO bloc.

    4. Anon

      Interesting, Richard.

      It has occurred to me recently, with the protests over the elections in Russia, that we in the West are now engaged in several “hot” wars for oil and gas resources in an increasing number of locations.

      And that these wars will, after the “success” in Libya, expand, via a new “cold” front, to include Russia.

      I suspect the ongoing Wall St-sponsored coup in the EU is something to do with this.

    5. Chapter VII

      This seems like straightforward, competent diplomacy. 1. Use the magic word aggression. 2. Cut off all coordination to remove the standard US figleaf, cooperation agreements with some figurehead requesting attacks on his own territory (we’ve been using that trick since the Indochina war.) 3. Assume defensive posture to engage the international community with a threat to peace. Agreed that the USG is in deep sht but there’s nothing unpredictable about Pakistan’s response. With the US frantically calling Iran a pariah state, there’s an unmistakeable hint of projection. America is going to get isolated in disgrace.

    6. Externality

      The Obama administration is creating, for the US and NATO, a situation in Afghanistan similar to that faced by the French at Dien Bien Phu: a large foreign garrison that is very difficult to resupply and in a country full of people that hate the foreign occupiers.

      Currently, the US is doing it best to provoke of Afghanistan’s western, southern, and eastern neighbors, i.e, Iran, Pakistan, and China, respectively. At the same time, the US putting immense pressure on and at least indirectly sponsoring protests in Russia, through which a large percentage of American supplies to Afghanistan are shipped via the so-called Northern Distribution Network. Worse for the US, Afghanistan’s northern neighbors are, to varying degrees, Russian client states that keep having inexplicable problems and incidents of sabotage that impede US efforts to ship supplies through their respective territories to Afghanistan. The Russians periodically remind the US of its dependence on Russian goodwill.

      If the US manages to alienate the Russian Federation and all of Afghanistan’s neighbors to the point that they ALL block the shipment of supplies across their respective territories, it would be very, very, difficult for the US to maintain its presence in Afghanistan. The US troops would be forced to rely the supplies, if any, that Afghanistan’s neighbors allow to be flown in. The immense US and NATO presence would lack the fuel to conduct offensive operations and be forced to rely on in-country stockpiles of fuel and ammunition against what would certainly be protracted Taliban attacks.

      The US would be left with essentially four choices:

      1. Reach a deal of some sort with one or more countries to allow resupply. The terms would be very steep.

      2. Order the garrison there to defend against a protracted siege with their dwindling supplies and no hope of large-scale resupply. The US would ultimately lose. This was the case with the French at Dien Bien Phu and with the US garrison on Corregidor during WW II.

      3. Work out some sort of de facto surrender where the US soldiers abandon their equipment and leave under international supervision. This would be humiliating, to say the least.

      4. Attack one or more of Afghanistan’s neighbors to establish a land and/or air bridge for resupply. Since Russia, Pakistan, and China all have large nuclear weapons stockpiles, the most obvious target would be Iran. (Attacking Afghanistan’s northern neighbors is pointless as the US is dependent on Russian goodwill for supplies to get to and be transshipped through them.) Attacking Iran would also make the Israel-firsters in DC happy.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      charles sereon, thanks for the link to Prof. Dr. Flassbeck’s address to the conference sponsored by James Galbraith at the University of Texas, Austin–which may have been teleconferenced from Geneva. A slide showed the title of the Professor’s address, “International Monetary Relations: The Crisis of the Euro”, as given in Geneva, 9 December 2011. It’s unimaginable that we would hear such candid, undefended speech coming from the mouth of any official U.S. Policy spokesman. We are so used to hearing a river of lies, that it seemed incredible to hear this delivery. Clearly, the man is serious, facing the grave crisis “over there,” not hesitating to point out where Germany went terribly wrong within the Eu-Euro frame.

      Prof. Dr. Flassbeck, “Director, Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD, warns us of our looming “DISASTER” if we don’t come to grips with the terrible imbalance in the U.S. between Labor and Capital, and the fact that there has is a catastrophic imbalance between wages and productivity for 15 or more years–a far more serious issue than unemployment. Of course, this imbalance has been deliberate in the cynic’s opinion, but even if it is due to the *failure* of neoconlib *self-correcting* economics, the effect is the same: disaster looms dramatically.

      Our arrogant, bully U.S. “Policy Makers” created their USA!USA! in their image of an insatiably aggressive beast waging illegal wars–have squandered our wealth, and have ruined our reputation as a C21 trading partner. Thus we will not be able to count on Europe as in the past, especially in light of the constructive move of the allies of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, whose major players are China, Russia, and India, soon to be joined by Pakistan and Afghanistan, not to mention Iran. Their oil and gas pipeline arrangements will no doubt include Europe, leaving us quite isolated, really as a pariah.

      I believe that, with Prof. Dr. Heiner Flassbeck’s honest approach to solving Germany’s “beggar thy neighbor” problem, that the European Union will live to see better days. His inclination is “to learn from bitter experience.” His approach is sober, perhaps even contrite.

      As the rest of the world matures and decides that “in a world of diminishing resources, cooperation is the key to survival,” what will we do? With the British Empire to our north and the the Narco Empire to our south, what is left to us, as “the world’s sole superpower?”

      “The Sphinx” comes to mind as a record of empire.

      “Animal House,” “Rambo,” and “The Terminator,” as models for performance just won’t cut it in C21. The “others” are not afraid of us anymore. “Poof!”

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        charles sereno – my apologies for misspelling your name.

        I really will have to renew my touch typing skills.

  3. Alex

    Yves – thank you for coming to the meetup on Friday. It was very nice to speak with you and other NC readers. You offer a very valuable service to the community, and we are very thankful for it (I conferred, they agreed!)

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Alex, you speak for us all. Yves is a great leader, and very humane, in addition to being “the sharpest dagger in the grand opera.”

  4. docG

    Will someone please explain why all these “underwater” mortgages are such a big deal? Buying a house is an investment and like any investment there is a certain amount of risk, no? If the value of the house goes up, that’s great (unless the tax assessment goes up with it, which ain’t so great), and if the value goes down, well, that’s the chance everyone takes when they buy a house, live with it. Or am I missing something?

    Also, as it seems to me, a lot depends on how many mortgage payments have already been made. If you bought the house last year and it’s now worth less than what you owe on the balance, all that means is that the value decreased, which can happen with any investment. If you’ve been paying on it for 20 years and the current value is less than what you owe after all those years, then yes, I’d say there’s something very wrong and probably very unfair.

    Only the difference between these very different situations is literally NEVER discussed. So I’m sorry, but when I read about all those “underwater” mortgages, I simply shrug. And scratch my head.

    1. docG

      Oh and one more thing. If you bought you house to live in, rather than as a “quick flip” investment, then what difference should it make whether you are “underwater” or not? When you sign a rental lease, that commits you to pay the same rent each month regardless of what the house is worth and no one ever complains if their rent doesn’t go down when the value of the real estate goes down. In fact I’ve never heard of a case where rent goes down, regardless of what else happens anywhere in the world.

      What’s important, clearly, is not whether you are under water, but whether you can still afford to pay the mortgage, and that depends on your income, no? So as I see it the real crisis has to do with jobs and income, NOT with “underwater” mortgages.

      1. ambrit

        Dear docG;
        The problem is, the continued degradation of the working classes is aided, abetted, and accelerated by the system put in place to facilitate economic looting by the financial sector.
        So many people are out of work, and thus falling behind on all classes of mortgage, because the housing sector was promoted into ‘buble’ territory and then popped. Financials extracting fees and comissions all along the way helped remove even more value from general circulation. Somewhat like the late Empire specie crisis.

        1. Lyle

          If you live in a recourse state Bankruptcy is the only route. Now if you have been unemployed long enough your income will be under the limit for chapter 7 and you will be able to make the recourse debt go away. Today one can keep retirement funds in BK as well. The hit on credit ratings would not be that much greater for a BK than for a foreclosure.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          and ambrit, don’t forget how the title chains have been destroyed in innumerable cases because of the slice&dice game.

      2. PQS

        You are correct that jobs and income are a big part of the underwater crisis. However, you seem to be unaware of what an albatross an underwater mortgage can be. Imagine, for example, that your home is far underwater: you owe $300K and the house is only worth $200K, or less. Now imagine that you are in a “recourse” state where if you bail on the underwater mortgage, not only will you be held liable by the bank for the rest of the money on the mortgage, but also for various fees and assessments they can sock you with.

        Now imagine you’ve lost your job but you could relocate somewhere else and get another job – you can’t, at least not without forfeiting all your income to not only pay for a new place to live, but also to pay off the old one.

        Now do you see how this is a problem – especially multiplied by the millions?

        As I see it, the banks should be told via statute that they can only get their mitts on the property to satisfy the mortgage – they shouldn’t be allowed to hit the homeowner with more and more, because isn’t that the entire point of collateral? The property itself is the collateral – not the money the banks can squeeze out of us for their own benefit. But so far I haven’t seen any major moves in this direction.

        1. docG

          As I see it, those in the situation you describe simply borrowed a lot of money to buy something they couldn’t afford and are now unable to pay the installments on the loan. That would be the case whether their house is “under water” or not. The only problem is, as you say, if they want or need to move — then they are stuck for sure. But that’s because they made an investment without considering the possibility that they could lose money on it.

          If buy $200,000 worth of stock and it winds up being worth $100,000 nobody says I’m “under water” — I just lost money on my investment.

          Don’t get me wrong, I have no sympathy for the sleazy wheeler dealers who talked them in to making such a reckless investment. And I DO see a serious social problem that our governments, both federal and local, need to address. But that problem is NOT underwater mortgages, it’s underwater incomes, paid to a cruelly exploited and increasingly disadvantaged working and middle class.

          I guess what I’m trying to say is that the “underwater mortgage” bit looks to me like a red herring, a smokescreen for the real problem: massive exploitation, aka class warfare.

          1. diptherio

            Another ethical aspect of the mortgage crisis is that the bubble in housing prices did not just “happen.” I believe it was planned. The big banks, facing a need for liquidity after the bursting of the internet bubble, started originating mortgages on easier terms so that they could then be sold off as mortgage-backed securities to provide the necessary liquidity. Lots of easy money entering a particular sector of the economy will obviously cause inflation in that sector, which is what drove the enormous increases in housing prices. Because lenders were suddenly making money a lot easier to get for the purchase of housing, nominal housing prices soared, though not, of course, their real value.

            Those with underwater mortgages now are feeling, at least in part, the effects of this un-natural increase. What we had was blatant market manipulation by the big banks, who are now insisting on recouping the full amount of the inflated prices, which they themselves inflated.

            As a side note, a friend of mine was recently approved by Wells Fargo for a mortgage whose monthly payment would have been 85% of her take-home. I recall a time when that kind of thing was known as loan-sharking.

          2. JTFaraday

            “monthly payment would have been 85% of her take-home. I recall a time when that kind of thing was known as loan-sharking.”

            Yeah. No, now it’s called “rent.”

    2. ron

      You have a good point that negative equity alone is not the sole driver for mortgage defaults. Mark Hanson who does considerable work in this area writes the following: Note: DTI refers to debt to income ratios:

      “To most borrowers with sub-40% DTI’s (industry maximum was 36% for decades leading into 2000), who can save, shop and vacation, negative equity is more of a nuisance. It’s certainly not something over which most would strategically default. But to those with a 65%, 75% or 80% % DTI — before taxes – default is a given eventually; the debt load is just too high at 100%+ of net earnings. This is regardless of the severity of the negative equity. Some with sky high DTI’s have greater savings or a moral compass that points to a mortgage as being the same as a promises to country, mom, or God. They can live in debtors prison longer than others, but eventually most will break.

      I think it’s safe to assume that the average earner with a DTI of over 50% DTI before taxes and all other monthly expenses not listed on a credit report (max DTI for Subprime full doc loan originations during the bubble years was only 55% by the way) needs relief. Stopping the mortgage payment is the easiest way to get that relief.

      When you look at DTI as the real driver of loan default you get a much clearer picture of why loan mods don’t work — and why they will never work — and how insurmountable the problem really is…people need full debt portfolio mods not just ‘mortgage’ mods.”

    3. Maximilien

      @docG: “…..a house is an investment…..”

      Like millions of people, you seem to have bought this line, much to the delight of the financial industry. People got in over their heads because house prices were “always going to go up” and it was wise to borrow to “invest”. Banks were more than happy to support belief in these myths.

      A house is NOT an investment, like stocks or bonds. Any return on equity is merely accidental. A house is just a place to live and store your stuff. Its only yield is utility. If it should happen to rise in value while you own it, well, so much the better.

    1. James

      Americans aren’t very imaginative in that regard. Empire will do that to you. Our eventual fall will be precipitous whenever it comes, and those now living with the boot on their neck aren’t likely to soon forget. And unlike the Brits before us, we won’t have a spin-off sycophant nation waiting to pick up the pieces and cushion the fall. The demise of the US (already well underway) represents nothing less than the eclipse of the entire northern European/Western school of global political, economic, environmental, and military (not necessarily in that order) thought. The political and social implications will be enormous and take decades to play out. Interesting times ahead for sure. And to think, just ten short years ago we in the west all thought the 21st century was going to play out as a mere extension of the 20th, with the US assuming it’s rightful place as the uncontested and righteous global hegemon. How utterly naive.

    2. James

      By the way, Ron Paul’s useful, if only for the message he gets out. He’ll never get elected and he’d be an unmitigated disaster if he did, but unfortunately, running for president is the only way some of his better ideas will ever get heard at all, so he still serves a useful purpose. We’re still at least several presidential election cycles away from generating a decent candidate whose primary modus operandi won’t be wholesale deception and corruption. The current system’s gonna have to crumble a bit more before the sheeple finally get serious. Denial’s still the rule of the day here in the good ol’ USA.

    3. Cris Kennedy

      There is no good intellectual reason not to support Ron Paul. The truth is that even among elitists who can still think for themselves, there’s a lotta baggage they have to sort through before they can bring themselves to come to the same place Ron Paul’s supporters have come to. Elitists are more susceptible to media propaganda that Ron Paul is not electable, a wingnut, etc. But the truth is that the national dialogue has been so corrupted by demagoguery, it’s hard for the intellectuals to recognize wisdom unless it’s packaged in charisma.

      1. F. Beard

        There is no good intellectual reason not to support Ron Paul. Cris Kennedy

        How I wish that were true! But RP is a gold bug and gold is a traditional tool of oppression for the usury and counterfeiting cartels.

        @Ron Paul,

        Wise up! To equate liberty with PMs is equivalent to equating worshiping God with worshiping a Golden Calf.

        1. Cris Kennedy

          If you are against a gold standard because it leads to oppression, what is it about Ron Paul’s call for competing currencies that you do not like? You don’t think the Federal Reserve’s current stranglehold on the only legal tender is oppressive? How many examples of it do you require?

          1. EconCCX

            >>If you are against a gold standard because it leads to oppression, what is it about Ron Paul’s call for competing currencies that you do not like? You don’t think the Federal Reserve’s current stranglehold on the only legal tender is oppressive? <<

            Paul's efforts are heroic, but his proposals for neutral tax treatments of competing currencies single out gold and silver. If you can show where he'd support monetization of digital gasoline (usable in everyday trade but redeemable by filling your tank), or digital bridge tolls, phone minutes or postage (Service Backed Money), then he'll certainly have my enthusiastic support, but will thereby be opposing a gold standard.

            So Cris, which is it for Paul? True "marketplace" competition in currencies, or competition circumscribed to his personal whim? With links, please.

          2. Cris Kennedy

            You set up a straw man and knock it down (with vigor). If you want digital bridge tolls as your “private commodity currency,” Ron Paul would say more power to you. Personally, I’ll take your gold and silver in exchange for as many trips across the bridge as you would like. Isn’t that exactly the point? In a free market world of competing currencies, gold and silver would win out handily over digital fiat.

            Citation? OK, try this:

            Ron Paul’s words:

            “This is why I have taken steps to restore the constitutional monetary system envisioned and practiced by our Founding Fathers. I recently introduced HR 1098, the Free Competition in Currency Act. This bill eliminates three of the major obstacles to the circulation of sound money: federal legal tender laws that force acceptance of Federal Reserve Notes; “counterfeiting” laws that serve no purpose other than to ban the creation of private commodity currencies; and tax laws that penalize the use of gold and silver coins as money. During this Congress I hope to hold hearings on this bill in order to highlight the importance of returning to a sound monetary system.”

            Most intellectuals have no idea what Ron Paul believes/advocates. They haven’t listened to him or read him. They think they know…….but they don’t know……at least not yet. All they know is what they read in the New York Times.

          3. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Re Ron Paul — he may have changed his *end the Fed* tune. A recent ad shows, at the end, that he now seeks to *diminish the Fed* (may not be the exact words, but that was the gist).

            So it’s likely he will not insist on gold-to-currency fix.

        2. EconCCX

          >>You set up a straw man and knock it down (with vigor).

          No, I support all these alternative currencies and have written to that effect. Physical gold requires demurrage, an assay when you transfer it, and insurance when you store it. To lend it is never to see it again. (You claim you’d accept it, which I do not doubt; but would you relinquish it for your eggs and coffee?)

          Moreover, digital gold is faith based. To verify its reality is to incur its costs. By contrast, digital gasoline is verifiable at the pump, its purity and utility are ascertained by the community of users. Its physical manifestation is measured in decimal increments. Everybody uses it, and it can be created in the economy. It would absolutely displace precious metals and Bernanke fiat in a free market.

          But by your citation, Ron Paul supports a tax preference for gold and silver that is not available to other forms of money. Your question, recall, was:

          >>If you are against a gold standard because it leads to oppression, what is it about Ron Paul’s call for competing currencies that you do not like?<<

          And the answer is that Ron Paul does not truly support competing currencies, but seeks to use the coercive power of the State in support of those commodities in which he has a personal investment.

      2. PQS

        No good intellectual reason not to support Ron Paul?

        His positions on abortion provide me personally with tons of good reasons to not only not support Dr. Paul, but also to be highly suspicious of his rhetoric about libertarianism in general.

        If I as a woman can’t have control over my body because guys like Ron Paul think I just shouldn’t for various anti-scientific, religion-pandering reasons, then I fail to see why I should support his other positions about “freedom” and “individualism.”

        The fact that so many male supports of Paul seem to regard his anti-abortionism as just a minor detail in the Paulite Gospel tells me they have no idea what’s important to half the human race.

        1. Tony Wonder

          I am pro-abortion (I like to call it “pro baby-killing” just to get the dialog going), but I support Ron Paul.

          It’s not a huge issue for me (as a man), but he is NOT for a nation-wide ban on abortion. Like many issues, Ron Paul believes that the individual states should be allowed to decide. In my mind, this would mean that you might not be able to legally get an abortion in, say, Texas, but we’d be happy to have you up here in Minnesota! Then we can take the stem cells from your aborted fetus and create genetically engineered super-soldiers to invade Texas and show them the error of their life-respecting (except of course when it comes to capital punishment) ways.

          In other words, his views on states rights trump his views on abortion.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Dr. Paul, as conservative obstretician, likely feels the necessity to be against abortion, and certainly to say he is against abortion, since he takes his Hippocratic oath as as his very conservative creed in practice.

          Since he has already softened his stance on ending the Fed, who knows what other compromises he might make in order to get elected, after he has passed muster with the Power.

      3. CB

        Strongly, emphatically second PQS. Yours is the prevailing attitude, however: not even a first thought, let alone a second.

        No Ron Paul misogynist paternalism for me.

        1. Cris Kennedy

          Excuse me but not every woman would agree with your position on a woman’s right to choose. In any case, are you a one issue voter? What about the women that are bombed to smithereens as “collateral damage” in all these wars supported by virtually every other candidate in the field except Ron Paul? Or, is it only all about you and your abortion rights? Sheesh.

          1. EH

            Not to mention that a majority of the GOP is anti-abortion anyway. If anything, it probably weakens the anti-abortion cause to have a President for whom Congress is *less* likely to hold their noses in support. I have a niggling hope in the back of my head that President Paul would not be able to push through his more-crazy ideas. He’d probably be like an Ahmedinejad: no real power, but also not a ruiner like Newt and Obama.

          2. PQS

            No, I’m not a single issue voter WRT abortion – but control over my body, up to and including abortion, is a fundamental human right. In case you haven’t noticed, Paul and his friends aren’t just against abortion. They are also against birth control and have sponsored legislation such as that in Mississippi that endows a fertilized egg with human rights. (Guess the woman is a just vessel for creation at that point. How is that much removed from the beliefs of the Taliban?)

            Just the lies alone about abortion that Paul himself has personally uttered (that as a doctor he witnessed live children being executed after birth, for example), make me question his integrity and fundamental commitment to human rights for EVERYBODY, not just men.

            Paul’s anti-war position may be admirable, but what about the rest of his positions? And what factions would he bring to his administration by espousing them?

          3. Cris Kennedy

            You don’t know what Ron Paul has witnessed personally. You just don’t know that. What is really sad is that we don’t see the carnage of the collateral damage caused by our bombs on the nightly news every night. The media just wants to ignore that because Obama is their golden boy (plus he supports your right to an abortion).

      4. ohmyheck

        Why don’t you just read up on Ron Paul right here? No, truly. Is this the guy you want running the country? He would prefer to rescind the gains made by the civil rights movement of the 60’s. It gets worse, just read it. I’m the one who posted the original video. Just because he makes one excellent point does not a leader make…by a long shot.

    4. Tony Wonder

      Whats wrong with the last 20 seconds? Whats wrong with Ron Paul, other than the fact that he is running as a Republican, a party whose credibility has long since been lost?

      I am seriously curious. That message is so powerful, I really don’t get what else about Ron Paul is so terrible as to counteract it?

      1. Glenn Condell

        Doesn’t he think the Dept of Education should be abolished? I mean it has not exactly done a brilliant job of educating Americans, but surely all that bathwater has a few babies in it. What is the alternative? Home-schooling? The ongoing 1% goal of dumbing down people enough that they don’t have the nous to organise and oppose, a big part of the Koch agenda, seems likely to thrive in the unlikely event of a Paul presidency.

        If I had to choose the next President from the candidates of the red/blue twin-headed party of elite interests, Paul would be my man. I mean, who else? He gets far closer to the real hubs of concern than the others, but this is not so much a comment on the strengths of Paul as the barrenness of the field in general.

        1. Externality

          Dr. Paul does not favor abolishing public education, only the federal agency known as the Department of Education.

          Until DOE was created in 1980, the funding and operation of public schools was largely a state and local function. DOE’s predecessor, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare(HEW), which was created in 1953 and abolished in 1980, played a very limited role in local K-12 public education. The federal courts played an important but limited role in enforcing students’ constitutional rights. Key Supreme Court decisions on the rights of K-12 students, such as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) and West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), were decided decades before DOE existed.

          Were DOE to be abolished, public education would continue throughout the United States under the jurisdiction of state governments and local school boards. Many states would also participate in inter-state compacts, such having a common curriculum, at their discretion. The federal government would likely continue to disburse at least limited funds for public education and the federal courts would continue to enforce students’ constitutional rights.

          The de-federalization of school policy would have a number of advantages for progressives. Local school districts would no longer be forced to implement the failed war on drugs in order to receive funding. Nor would they be forced to employ “zero-tolerance” policies that expel students for possessing aspirin, make students and their records available to military recruiters, or subject students to brain-numbing standardized tests.

          Abolishing the federal Department of Education would not not end public education in America. It would however, make it more accountable to states and local communities. If a local community wants to keep military recruiters away from teenage students, for example, it would be able to.

          1. Glenn Condell

            Many thanks Externality

            I often don’t the full picture from Sydney. I recall reading that about Paul in some drive-by piece on Daily Kos or some other machine Democrat site a while ago. I keep reading about how nutty some of his positions are but most upon closer inspection aren’t so nutty after all. You could almost say the more stridently he is declared a loon in the MSM/Beltway the more worried they obviously are about the possibility he could win. The gravy train would slow if not come to a stop if that happened, and their salad days would be over. We can’t have that!

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Glenn Condell, since when has a President kept his campaign promises? Would Ron Paul be different?

          I’m waiting to see how serious Ron Paul is about having a shot at the Presidency, at this stage in his life. There is no way that he would get the rational vote if he remained a fanatic in such regards.

          But, anyway, isn’t the False Dem destined to *win*? Remember the Florida recount. The one who pleases the Power gets the job.

    5. LeonovaBalletRusse

      The *heroic* voice-over after the set =-up is by Ron Paul. The Ron Paul campaign has a more entertaining ad on You Tube: a mash-up featuring George Carlin’s most famous clips together with clips from the video from “latenitebeat” of Sep 8, 2009 on YouTube: “South Park vs. Cafe Del Mar – And It’s Gone (Johannes Dahlberg Financial Crisis Mash)” — I guess you could call this Ron Paul ad a *mash-up squared*.

      YouTube is hot Ron Paul territory, more than ever before.

  5. Jeff

    Paypal? Fees? Charges? Chargebacks? Forget it.

    We’ll be sending a check via Ben Franklin’s U.S. mail.

    Is this information correct?

    “you can send a check in the name of
    Aurora Advisors Incorporated
    Aurora Advisors Incorporated,
    903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor,
    New York, NY 10075.”

  6. ron

    “Will someone please explain why all these “underwater” mortgages are such a big deal?”

    Now that home values are deflating the ability to loan against properties are reduced or eliminated creating a vacuum in the money velocity dept. Modern economies are credit driven so this deleveraging cycle will impact our rate of growth.

  7. William

    Re: polar bear cannibalism–Global warming disaster porn? In all fairness, though, this well-known behavior is typical of polar bears and grizzlies–adult males will eagerly hunt and eat cubs and young bears.

  8. Fíréan

    Falcone’s receipt of Wells Notes may well be of more concern to both himself and two of his top personnel than the problems with the GPS system


    “”Now the FCC is faced with the real possibility that it made a multibillion-dollar grant of valuable spectrum to someone who could be charged with violating securities laws,” said Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. “The FCC chairman should lead the effort to provide documents and offer insight into how the agency decided to give Mr. Falcone, Harbinger Capital and LightSquared this multibillion-dollar grant.”

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “Falcone told his customers on Christmas Eve a few years ago that their money would be locked up a long time.”

      A tell. Classic Madoff action, until it didn’t work any more.

    1. F. Beard

      Nice video! Thanks.

      On another subject:

      Apparently there is a quota on comments per thread so if I don’t reply it’s cause I can’t. It’s very frustrating when Lew G, for example, need correcting.

      Oh well. I can wait.

      1. EconCCX

        >>Apparently there is a quota on comments per thread so if I don’t reply it’s cause I can’t. It’s very frustrating when Lew G, for example, need correcting. <<

        There's a nesting limit in threads, and it's implemented wisely to combat sprawling chaos. The deepest level is flat, so you'd simply reply to whatever post "Lew G" was replying to, but quote and mention Lew G.

        Unless you've encountered some other limit of which I'm unaware…

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          EconCCX, that has been my observation, also. I don’t think there’s a limit on comments at NC.

  9. Hugh

    I think the Walton story is huge because it is such a glaring example of just how extreme wealth inequality in this country has gotten and how divorced from reason. 30% of the US population is over 90 million. What have the 6 Walton heirs contributed to our society to justify their wealth? Hint: Nothing.

    1. PQS

      Agreed. Especially in the context of how poorly Walmart pays their employees, how aggressively they have intruded into small town American commerce, and how vigorously they have promoted their company as the paragon of “American virtue.” One has to wonder if they at least paid their people decent wages with decent health care if they wouldn’t also be fabulously wealthy.

      Yet if you read comments on more general sites on that story, (as I have) the majority of commenters will blather on about how the Walton family are the “jaaab creators” and “the producers” who deserve their wealth, and that anyone who questions this reality is at minimum, a whiner. Americans are just so brainwashed into thinking even people who inherited their money are somehow more deserving of it than the rest of us.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Hugh, “What have they…” Chinese monopoly in USA!USA!

      The results reveal how massively the Waltons have *capitalized* on American impoverishment.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Glenn Condell, on that link, in the sidebar is a diagram of the predator drone captured in Iran (the latest spy tech, according to gubmint). This looks like the “flying wedge” developed by Hitler’s scientist who worked on the “flying saucer” technology in several stages.

      It takes the U.S. a long time to get up to speed.

      As for drones, they are the *eyes in the sky* wherever they choose to place them, for our Security, doncha know. They go along with the retinal scans and the instant license plate scan tech. For Security in our Homeland.

  10. craazyman

    @ Euro Lacks Govermint Bank

    Well Mr. Paley’s idea is clever and I’m glad to see an economist mention Mr. Freud (not that he’s my personal hero or anything, that’s Albert Camus (shoesaleman and Nobel Prize winning author), but Freud was a bright guy, anyway).

    Can you imagine buying a pair of shoes from Albert Camus? Watching him measure your feet and go get the boxes from the back and bring them out and tie up the laces part way so you can fit your foot in? Holy Cow that freaks me out. Him standing there watching you walk up and down the aisle to see if they pinch your toes. The author of THE REBEL and MYTH OF SYSIPHUS? The dude who got a Nobel Prize in something where it means something? Just think of that next time you go shoe shopping. hahahaha ahahahahah. You never know who’s bending down servicing your feet, I guess. Best to show courtesy to all except the banksters. hahahah.

    But Mr. Palley’s plan will run into the problem of the nature of representation. One man, one vote can degenerate into mob rule, as all political theorists know, and our founding fathers were adamantly on guard against.

    And in that way that things just relate, just tonight I was reflecting on the nature of property — after half a bottle of wine and two beers — and why the urge to only let men of property vote (and this is historical analysis, not contemporary analysis).

    Because men who had property would presumably be of independent means, and therefore not reluctant puppets of their employer, as salaried men nearly always are — like the security dudes I was talking to Friday at Zucotti Park before the NC beer blast. I had my OWS button on and walked up to them and said where’s everybody. LOL and said Frankly guys I support OWS even though i won’t sleep in the park in a tent and they said “basically so do we”. But you know they would have busted heads if they had to. And the independent means means independent thought, or the best chance at it.

    It really can be construed as a moral issue, observed primarily in the breach but not the adherence, to be sure, but a theoretical construct that has some symmetry to it as all self-consistent argument does, even if it falls apart the moment it’s applied.

    I’m sure they teach this in classes but I’m too lazy for that and like to figure it all out for myself lying around wasting time.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      craazyman, AND Camus was an accomplished actor. There’s a recording of him reading from several of his books–not *reading* but acting the parts, actually.

  11. Herman Sniffles

    I found the Occupy Our Homes MSNBC video so offensive I didn’t finish watching it. Is that what Occupy is about? Taking people out of homeless shelters and putting them illegally in foreclosed houses? This is damn near as bad as what the banks are doing to us. I could see finding a wrongly foreclosed prior owner and putting them back in the house, that would make sense. But was this house even illegally forclosed? Or was this a home that the bank used legal due process on during the foreclosure and was the rightful owner thereof? If so, then these people are just theives like the bankers. Yuck.

    1. lambert strether

      What is this “due process” of which you speak?

      More, or less, seriously (1) MSNBC coverage, and a dime, will get you a cup of coffee (or would have in the 30s anyhow); (2) generally, the Occupiers have shown great tactical acumen. It’s hard for me to believe that they would not have vetted both the home and its new occupant quite carefully. Perhaps if you’d watched ’til the end.

      Still, it’s a nice point. When a bank steals a house, is it really stealing to return it to a rightful occupant?

      1. aletheia33

        when common sense has been lost sight of and an insane, bizarre, sickening, upside-down morality rules the day, it is time to begin to try to recover some common sense.

        when a child is homeless, and a home is available in her community, it is common sense to put the child, with any available parent(s), in the home.

        when a law says the absentee “owner,” which is so impersonal as to be unable to physically occupy or otherwise use the shelter, has a right in that ownership that preempts the need of that child for a home, that is a bad law that needs to be disobeyed.

        when we recognize that we are in an emergency, we simply do whatever we can to help ourselves and those around us.

        we are in a dire emergency.

        1. F. Beard

          Agreed. The system is obviously broken. Those who think the strict letter of the law trumps human need are Biblically ignorant of both the Old and New Testaments.

          cf: Matthew 12:1-7

    2. JTFaraday

      Didn’t you get the industry memo from the folks who screwed up half the country’s home titles?

      “OMG, what are you so upset about? It’s just paperwork.”

  12. tz

    Paypal is a scam:

    Thatbypu would use something more evil than the BoA constrictor, Chase, or Citi is your choice.

    That you were raped by them when 1 minute withe google coluld have revealed the danger…

    Do you also have Goldman cdos in your ira?

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