Links 3/25/12

Lambert again provided many links!

Shearwaters take ‘single sex’ summer holidays BBC

Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys New York Times. :-(

Facebook asserts trademark on word “book” in new user agreement arstechnica. Huh? A trademark is a specific visual image, it has to be registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office, and you can get a trademark only in specific categories and then you have to be able to demonstrate use as of a certain date. The article discusses that there are unregistered trademarks, but no IP lawyer I know of would recommend relying on an unregistered mark. The idea that you can assert trademark status with no accompanying use (the Facebook logo does not contain the word “book”) is an attempt to bully the uninformed.

Mafia mobster is freed from jail just 12 months into 15 year sentence because of ALLERGY to the beans on prison menu Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

The Case for Sleep Medicine New York Times. So how low is the NYT prepared to go in defending big corporate interests? This is an article from an English professor criticizing a large sample study by the BMJ. Lordie.

Is Your New HDTV Watching You? HDguru (hat tip reader furzy mouse). I’m told that iPad 2 and higher are all listening devices. The NSA total surveillance program is further along than you think.

“Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global Social Network: Hedonometrics and Twitter” One Happy Bird. Dated but still fun.

Breaking Up with the Sierra Club Orion Magazine. Over frackikng, on which SC has become an astroturf organization.

Summer in March, 2012, draws to a close Weather Underground. Really cool even if you aren’t a weather geek.

Tungsten Filled 1 kilo Gold Bar Discovered in UK Silver Doctors (hat tip Philip Pilkington)

Soaring Oil Price & Weakening US Economy On the Edge with Max Keiser. An interview with Chris Cook

Vince Cable hints coalition banking row is brewing Guardian. One faction is interested in having a state owned bank to pursue public goals, such as lending to small businesses.

James Murdoch Board Seats Dwindle Amid BSkyB Scrutiny Bloomberg

Italy’s jobs minister fears for life as labour market shaken up Guardian

The shape of the future David Kaiser

The False Debate About Attacking Iran Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

Top 10 Lessons of the Iraq War Foreign Policy. An important read. Lambert highlights Lesson #1: The United States lost.

U.S. Plans No Charges Over Deadly Strike in Pakistan New York Times. Quelle surprise!

Obama’s Creepy Executive Order: Permanent War Economy Progressive (hat tip reader May S)

Will Democrats Strip Civil Liberties from Their 2012 Platform? Atlantic. This is a rhetorical question. Since Obama is stripping them in practice, does whether he pretends to honor them for campaign propaganda purposes matter? I assume they’ll keep the same empty promises in place on the assumption any challenges will come from what will be deemed to be the far left and right blogistan and be ignored.

Aide: Former Vice President Dick Cheney recovering from heart transplant Washington Post. I think any human heart would reject him.

Albuquerque Mayor Urges Police Union to Stop Payments to Officers in Shootings New York Times

SB 469 Would Make Civil Disobedience a Felony in Georgia Atlanta Progressive News (hat tip reader Deontos)

A Bailout by Another Name Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times. I hope to post on this later…

Tom Murphy Interview: Resource Depletion is a Bigger Threat than Climate Change Oil Price (hat tip reader May S)

Can Radical Efficiency Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Scientific American (hat tip reader Paul T)

‘Greed is the Beginning of Everything’ Der Spiegel (hat tip reader Peter J)

Antidote du jour:

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    1. John M

      The big problem with the Iraq invasion is that while those who drove us to war were wrong, they weren’t Dead Wrong. They didn’t suffer the consequences of their crime; others did.

      We need to bring at least a handful of the perpetrators to justice.

  1. Jane

    Comments are pouring onto the internet about Dick Cheney’s heart transplant.

    My favorite so far:

    Breaking: Cheney gets heart transplant, Bush still waiting for brain.


    1. Dr. Moreau

      Elsewhere in DC a missing persons report was filed for a young, 23 year old male. His friends and family describe him as a “health nut” and he disappeared while on his daily morning 6 mile run.

      In other DC news, Eric Holder, Attorney General, was questioned on the latest developments regarding MF Global and CEO, Jon Corzine. Mr Holder replied, “This story about MF Global allegedly failing and allegedly misplacing some client money has been around for 5 months now. I can assure you that if I or President Obama thought this was a serious problem, President Obama would have had Jon assassinated months ago. There is really nothing else to say about this issue.”

      1. Dr. Moreau

        BTW, if anyone is interested in the details of the surgery, this time I did install a zipper in Dick’s chest. Some titanium hinges in the ribcage too. Shoulda done that 5 surgeries ago, but…wtf….better late than never. Plus it’s covered under the USG health plan anyway.

        1. Dr. Moreau

          Now when I’m alone with Dick and his wife, sharing a case of scotch, I refer to Dick as Darth Cheney. They really get a kick out of that one. His wife says, “He used to be just a Dick!”. We just laugh and laugh…

    2. rd

      I had heard that the doctors had been quite confused about his past heart problems. When they opened him up for the latest attemp to resolve them, they discovered that he actually didn’t have a heart. So now that the cause of his difficulties getting blood pumped to his brain has now been discovered, they were able to actually give him a heart. It will be interesting to see if actually having a heart changes his philosophies towards life and leadership.

      1. LucyLulu

        They had a surgeon on Fox News this morning who was discussing the transplant surgery. Believe it or not, one of the news anchors said to the surgeon “so then, they did have to remove his heart?” What did they think the surgeons did with the old heart? Leave it in there as a spare backup?
        Some day they really should put together a video of “Dumbest quotes from Fox News Anchors”. My personal favorite was when they reported that the LAPD had invested millions of dollars to buy jet packs for their officers to strap on their backs so they could fly around above the city. (Somebody had pulled a prank on them, and not only were they incredibly gullible, but as usual, they didn’t bother to check any sources.)

        1. 10leggedshadow

          Someone I know had a kidney and pancreas transplant, and they just left the old organs inside.

          1. wunsacon

            Did they install the redundant organs as a cluster or in a hot/warm standby configuration? You can never have enough backups.

  2. Western Masshole

    Transplant implies Cheney had a heart. I think this should be called a heart IMplant…

  3. dearieme

    “The Case for Sleep Medicine”: slightly suprising that it didn’t claim that statins help you sleep.

  4. Middle Seaman

    A detailed comment on the badly mistaken FP article on the Iraq war:

    Lesson #1: The United States lost.

    Correct but meaningless: Those that died and were wounded on all sides and the huge loss of money, time and resources are there win or lose. As opposed to Vietnam, Iraq is way less traumatic for the US.

    Lesson #2: It’s not that hard to hijack the United States into a war.

    Rewrite: if you have a huge military you hardly need, you’ll use it!

    Lesson #3: The United States gets in big trouble when the “marketplace of ideas” breaks down and when the public and our leadership do not have an open debate about what to do.

    Wrong: Governments always lie to their people and the media, even independent which is not the case, and the people will be conned.

    Lesson #4: The secularism and middle-class character of Iraqi society was overrated.

    Ignore as insignificant.

    Lesson #5: Don’t listen to ambitious exiles.

    We went to war because we were eager to have one; the exiles were a comfy excuse.

    Lesson #6: It’s very hard to improvise an occupation.

    Occupation is always a nasty, bloody, unpredictable and the occupied never accepts it.

    Lesson #7: Don’t be surprised when adversaries act to defend their own interests, and in ways we won’t like.

    Already included in #6.

    Lesson #8: Counterinsurgency warfare is ugly and inevitably leads to war crimes, atrocities, or other forms of abuse.

    Rewrte: War is ugly and inevitably leads to war crimes, atrocities, or other forms of abuse.

    Lesson #9: Better “planning” may not be the answer.

    Successful planning of a war is an oxymoron; you win wars with a well trained, determined and strong military and by overcoming unexpected obstacles.

    Lesson #10: Rethink U.S. grand strategy, not just tactics or methods.

    Dismantle ¾ of the military, we don’t need it and can use the money. Always negotiate, others are not crazy, we are not smarter, everyone has rights (even Iran) and finally “your poor come first,” (Talmud) namely: the welfare of our people is our first and most important concern.

    1. rd

      On Lesson #6, the only two occupations that I can think of that worked out successfully, without wholesale replacement of the original inhabitants by the conquerors, was Japan and Germany after WW II. In both those cases the populations of both countries had been completely crushed back to bare subsistence levels and exhausted after several years of brutal warfare that included annihilation of major city centers. The US then funded reconstruction of their economies and then left (except for token miliatry bases against another common enemy).

      Previously, the only other successful occupations involved wholescale population replacement (e.g. the Americas and England). Even then, that process took several hundred years and involved much strife during that period.

      A rapid military victory that humiliates proud people is not a good recipe for successful occupation unless you are willing to go the brutal approach of wiping out large percentages of the people who rebel.

      1. Birch

        Then there’s the English occupation of Quebec. They didn’t wipe out large portions of the population, they didn’t destroy the culture, and they didn’t leave. Never really resolved the situation either.

      2. Walter Wit Man

        Uh, didn’t we bomb civilians in both these countries to terrorize them before we occupied them?

        Dresdon? Nagasaki? Hiroshimo?

        And frankly, the history of U.S. occupations is not well know. Maybe we should reexamine the official story of a humane and successful U.S. occupation.

        The U.S. left behind secret armies to fight communists, in places like Greece and Italy and things like Operation Gladio. Money was siphoned away from the Marshall plan to black ops/psy ops, etc.

      3. evodevo

        The Assyrians were successful in occupying the countries they conquered ( Israel comes to mind as an example) by deporting large segments of the native population – usually the middle and upper classes – and replacing them with their own surplus population or that of another conquered country. Worked like a charm. Somehow I don’t think America is up to it, however. Any other strategy is going to be a half-a%^ed one and not going to work. “Hearts and minds” isn’t a strategy; it’s a meme.

      4. Roland

        1. Any German or Japanese, who would sooner fight and die than see foreign armies occupy their country, had been given ample opportunity to do so by 1945.

        2. Our post-WWII occupations of Germany and Japan benefitted a great deal from the fact that we got to play the “good cop.” The USSR played the part of “bad cop.” The Germans knew that even if they staged a highly successful insurgency and drove out the Western occupiers, they would just go from the frying pan into the fire. Besides, if you are going to be stuck with foreign occupiers, wouldn’t you prefer to at least be stuck with the richer ones, who live further away?

        3. We treated the defeated Germany and Japan with more respect than the USA treated the defeated Iraq. Their bureaucracies and armed forces were rehabilitated with astonishing speed, since the West wanted to employ them as allies against the USSR in the next round of geopolitical struggle.

        4. The horrors of the World Wars had affected the victors considerably, too. There was a real desire on the part of Allied leaders to try to mitigate possible causes of another war. For example, some of Japan’s major pre-WWII grievances were addressed in the decade or so after 1945: freer access to raw materials and export markets, the removal of Western empires from East Asia. Japan was completely defeated in the fighting, but nevertheless obtained about half of their war aims. The genuine spirit of compromise between the Western victors and the defeated Axis must be regarded as one of the main reasons for the long peace which followed.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Sure. In the vulgate, the FP piece would translate to “End the empire.” But this is the foreign policy establishment. They’re hardly likely to say that. So, to see “we lost” said openly is, to me, interesting and even remarkable. Baby steps!

    3. Bill C

      Wrong: Governments always lie to their people and the media, even independent which is not the case, and the people will be conned.”

      “…and the people WILL TO BE CONNED.”

      More accurate I think….none are so blind etc.

      (apologies for the duplicate post below)

    4. nihil obstet

      On the people being conned —

      Actually, the people didn’t support the invasion until after it had started, when the “rally round our brave service people while they are in actual combat” kicked in.

    5. Jackrabbit

      Lesson #11. A passive, ignorant, fearful, and selfish populace means no constraint on TPTB.

      Why did we give a tax break to the rich in the middle of a war(s)? Because we could.

    6. Jim

      Lesson 11: There is a definitive need for cash in a society. Many, many bureaucrats and administration officials could have been possibly charged were it not for the cover provided by the pallets of cash sent to Iraq.

    7. wunsacon

      >> Lesson #1: The United States lost.

      Most Americans lost. Iraqis lost big-time. But, I’m not sure PNAC members think so (in the case of the former) or even care (in the case of the latter). The US is all over the ME and trying to extend its influence. (“Sustainability” is another matter…) PNAC members might think the deaths and carnage have been worth it.

  5. middyfeek

    Re the NYT item on horseracing, I must point out one very elemental fact not to be found anywhere in this prolix article.

    These horses were not captured in the wild. They were bred solely for the purpose of being racehorses. It is not for you, me, or the NYT to determine whether or not the life they have is better or worse than no life at all.

      1. evodevo

        One of the many reasons people welcomed the advent of the internal combustion engine, i.e. cars and trucks, at the beginning of the 20th century. Black Beauty didn’t begin to capture the extent of animal abuse that occurred in a horse-powered economy.
        That said, I have been around Thoroughbreds and Ky. racing for years – they LIKE to run and they are professional athletes about it. HOWEVER, the way racing is run in this country is a drug-addled disgrace. They do it a lot better in England. One of the main problems that the article didn’t address is the racing of horses at too young an age. If you had no racing till they were 4, breakdowns would be much more infrequent. A two-year-old is just too undeveloped, even though they look mature. But, then, the owner wants that money return fast. So you race them too young, they get injured, and then break down more frequently. Vicious cycle.

        1. Lidia

          I don’t know much about horses, but did visit a top breeder who gave driving lessions, which I did take one of.

          He said that he never even takes a horse out riding or driving until it’s three. He seemed to think that there’s just too much chance of damaging the animal (and he did sell six-figure animals).

      2. LucyLulu

        I’m somebody else who has been around horses since 10 yrs old, and racing since 21 (much in KY, lived in Lexington for 18 years), mostly on the backside since I never really cared for betting or racing itself. I agree with poster above that much of the problem is a result of racing at two years old (adolescents). They race two year olds in Europe though, too, and still have less accidents, perhaps partially because they don’t use oblong tracks like we do here (turns cause more stress on the legs).

        However, the drug problem is also huge, it always has been, and it has always been worse with quarterhorse racing, e.g. Rio Dosa, NM than thoroughbreds. I didn’t realize it had gotten worse though, I’ve been away from the horse scene the last 5 years. They should ban all drugs as they have done in Europe though this won’t solve the drug problem entirely. Trainers and vets (yes, the vets are frequently involved, my ex used to sell pharma to vets) are always on the lookout for the latest drug that can’t yet be detected on drug tests, and horses are less likely to feel pain once their adrenalin gets pumping.

        The economic factor is the biggest driving force. Horses are expensive and training costs (includes feed and care) are very high so there is pressure to get a return on investment. I got a riding horse for my daughter who sold as a yearling for $500,000, he was rather well-bred, but couldn’t win a race to save his life (made a champion show horse though, and being slated for euthanasia, the price was right…….. but after 7 different trainers had tried to get some earnings out of him, he was lame on 3 of 4 legs and required two years of pasture turn out to recover).

        Like any business, there are some trainers (and help that they hire) who are honest and treat their animals very well while some trainers are outright abusive. If horses weren’t inherently so good-natured, they would kill some of these assholes.

  6. timotheus

    Could these amateur Website hosts please take a course in interviewing? e.g., questions should not take two minutes and sound like university lectures; we do not tune in to see how learned the questioner is but rather to listen to the (uninterrupted) opinions of the invited guest; kindly do not wave your hands in front of the camera to display your excitement; and [#1 PRIORITY] GET A VOICE COACH for chrissakes. I would like to hear what Chris Cook thinks without having my fragile nerves put On the Edge by an adenoidal hysteric.

  7. Ned Ludd

    Kate Colarulli, an associate director for the Sierra Club, was on The Alyona Show last week. She was unyielding in her criticism of the oil industry. Her criticism of the natural gas industry was definitely more muted. When Alyona brought up fracking, Colarulli admitted that some water had been poisoned, but wanted to make clear:

    Colarulli: So it’s not about going after that industry. It’s about making sure that industry is safe.

    Colarulli was also weirdly fixated on keeping fossil fuel prices low. For example, Alyona made the observation: “If you just want to export [natural gas], then I guess you could say that it’s all about making money.” As Alyona was finishing her thought, Colarulli interrupted:

    Colarulli: And industry should be about making money. Like that is not a bad thing in and of itself. That problem is for the last ten years we’ve seen our oil production and natural gas production go up in this country, and we’ve seen gas prices skyrocket.

    Colarulli never mentioned renewable energy; she never uttered the words “solar”, “wind”, or “tidal”. Instead, she focused on how “sustainable energy if done right – like fuel economy, electric vehicles, better transportation options – will also reduce the amount we pay every month for gas.“ Apparently, even “mass transit” is too controversial for the Sierra Club. They only allude to it with the phrase “better transportation options”, which could just as well allude to natural gas powered vehicles.

    1. Susan the other

      John Muir has been rolling in his grave since 1985. The Sierra Club sold out decades ago and is yet to explain this treachery. We are always left to assume that the economy is more sacred than the environment.

      1. Bill C

        The “vast right wing conspiracy” has gotten quieter, smarter, and vaster.

        I’m not being sarcastic.

      2. Jane


        Carl Pope took a hundred million dollar donation from a
        pro-illegal alien idealogue with the promise that he’d never mention overpopulation or immigration in the Sierra Club platform. Hey, what do twenty or thirty million more
        people have to do with the environment?

        “(Hedge fund entrepreneur) David Gelbaum insisted that he played no role in the election. He dismissed allegations that he is calling the shots at the club in any other way.
        “None of that is true,” he said. ‘I’m not some Svengali. I’m not that engaged.”

        “But he said Pope long had known where he stood on the contentious issue. ‘I did tell Carl Pope in 1994 or 1995 that if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me.”

        “Gelbaum, who reads the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión and is married to a Mexican American, said his views on immigration were shaped long ago by his grandfather, Abraham, a watchmaker who had come to America to escape persecution of Jews in Ukraine before World War I.

        “I cannot support an organization that is anti-immigration. It would dishonor the memory of my grandparents.”
        (The Man Behind the Land, By Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, Oct 27, 2004)

        1. Ned Ludd

          By “illegal immigrants”, do you mean the European colonists (and their descendants) who have plundered the land, decimated the wildlife, poisoned the air and water, and conducted a campaign of genocide against the indigenous people of North America? Because we could solve a lot of problems if Europeans and people of European descent quit having so many “anchor babies” in North America.

          1. Ned Ludd

            I went back and re-read the comment that I was replying to, and saw that Jane used the term “illegal alien” – a term even more pejorative than “illegal immigrant”.

          2. Sammy


            I prefer

            “paperless potential traveler with culturally
            and economically independent views on language, residence and loyalty tendencies keeping their options open to leave at any time but to take full advantage of whatever they can get while they are here…”

            It’s so much more humanistic a term.

          3. abprosper

            Thats a very stupid analogy. The Europeans were not immigrants but conquerors.

            Unless you are suggesting that current illegals mean to mass murder and take the property of the existing Whites in which case you are kind of making the hardcore racists points for them.

            Also there is current evidence is leaning to the first nations being stone age Europeans


            if this is the case and we use your analogy , the people who we would later call Native Americans “immigrated” and displaced or murdered them. If thats the case the Europeans could argue they are just having a Reconquista and taking what was there from usurpers

            In other words its still a stupid argument.

          4. Ned Ludd

            @abprosper – I wasn’t making an analogy. I was taking Jane’s argument and pointing out how hypocritical it is. People whose ancestors immigrated to North America, and whose ancestors conducted a long campaign of genocide against the indigenous population, now denigrate other people for simply moving to North America without filling out the proper paperwork. How awful! Someone moved, but didn’t fill out a bunch of forms that are now mandated by a nation-state created by genocidal Europeans. Someone get the smelling salts; I do feel faint.

            As far as the Solutrean (European originating) Native Americans, do you actually think Christopher Columbus came to liberate an oppressed Solutrean populace? Also, some Native American groups have “genetic markers for Stone Age western Europeans [that] simply don’t exist in northeast Asia”. So when Europeans slaughtered Native Americans, they were sometimes slaughtering their own distant cousins. Quelle Surprise!

  8. Susan the other

    On 2 articles: The Harvard Foreign Policy’s 10 points of B.S. – well duh Harvard. And on Obama’s latest audacity, the signing of the NDRP to conscript all citizens for any future military effort – this is also a duh. Because any President at any time of emergency can do the same. So the question is why now? And to tie the two articles together – for sure Obama read the Harvard piece months ago. The fact is, although it will never be put in black letters, we plan war way in advance and for reasons never shared beyond a tight inner circle of military and government leaders. This “war” looks to have been the war for control of oil, plain and simple. (But who knows what else.) And as such we did not fail. And because we did not fail, we’re gearing up to do it again, with conscription powers in place in advance.

  9. Susan the other

    About those debased gold bars. Funny. Actually, tungsten is probably more valuable than gold.

    1. The Internet

      No, it isn’t.

      There is, in fact, no comparing the two:

      “The price for pure [tungsten] is around $20,075 per tonne as of October 2008.”



      1 tonne = 35 273.96 ounces


      1 Ounce of gold = $1,663.91

      …a tonne of gold is therefore worth…


      Somewhat more than tungsten!

  10. Bill C

    “Wrong: Governments always lie to their people and the media, even independent which is not the case, and the people will be conned.”

    “…and the people WILL TO BE CONNED.”

    More accurate I think….none are so blind etc.

    1. aet

      Spoken in genralities, statements like ‘All Governments always lie’ are just non-sense, seemingly calculated and propagated to dis-spirit and dis-courage those who might, or who would, otherwise work in an effort to make governance better. Better, that is, than what Americans at least have become apparently used to accepting or demanding from their government! So many unused powers to improve people’s lives!

      Specifics, please: or chatter about all governments always lieing is just a slander on ALL government whatsoever as a process of group problem-solving.

      In other words, in the absence of specifics, that statement and its ilk are just more unreasoned libertarian garbage in favour of atomized social chaos – for what other alternative is proposed or implied by they who would so calumnate ALL governance? – atomaized social chaos which ALWAYS and FOREMOST benefits criminals and the viscious. See Iraq for an example!

      Good government is the ONLY POSSIBLE solution to people’s problems.

      And not, mark you well, NO Government.

      Government is all we’ve got in the toolbox!

      Not government, but BAD GOVERNMENT, is the “enemy” – if “enemy” one must have. ( I doubt that one must – but the cruel always find it useful to have one. Always.)

  11. Susan the other

    Thanks for the Scientific American article on RMI’s “Reinventing Fire.” To fire up our economy with efficiency. I just think we’re going about it too slowly. I especially liked the Danish example of something like a food chain of energy through different layers of manufacturing. That sounds ecologically sound, or at least better than anything up to this point.

  12. Glen

    A Bailout by Another Name

    I actually sorta have to feel for Ed DeMArco, he is only trying to uphold his fiduciary duty at FHFA. Fanny and Freddy were late to the subprime game and the numbers show that the loans they originated have held up better than the TBTF and private loans. Since then, they’ve been forced to own the whole mess by taking the toxic mess off of Wall St’s hands. The real villains in all this once again got bailed out and are still pretty much running the show over in the FIRE sector. I would also include Greespan, Paulson, Geithner and Bernanke in the cast of failed regulators and “fixers” for first failing to regulate and help create this whole mess and second, for the giant and failed do-over they gave to the Wall St banksters in 2008.

    At this point, I would urge Ed to get a little creative and figure out how he can help fix the US housing market which is pretty much being run by the government anyways:

    First, give up on the foolish notion of trying to recreate the housing market of 2007, it isn’t gonna happen.
    Second, if studies are inconclusive that suggests it might be a push so implement cramdowns where the homeowner can afford it.
    Third, for those homes in places largely abandoned where the homes are falling apart consider a “homesteading” program so that these homes can be occupied and maintained. These homes are now taxpayer property and allowing these to be plowed under while people need homes makes no sense. Getting people in them is the first step to getting taxpayer money back.
    Fourth, if at all possible, go back to the banks that dumped this trash on you and try and get your money back. The only way you can make your reputation whole with the average American is if you vigorously uphold your fiduciary duty for all the toxic mess you were forced to swallow. (Good luck with this as I’m sure Geithner would rather let average Americans lose everything before the banks are forced to feel any pain.)

    Good luck Ed, you’re going to need it.

    1. Glen

      And one more. Second liens need to be wiped out on any homes that get principle reduction. In fact, second liens still held by banks should get wiped out for any mortguage the GSEs get forced to “buy”.

    2. LucyLulu

      I agree about feeling bad for DeMarco. He’s had to take a lot of heat for being the bad guy when he’s probably been one of the best actors in town. He was hired to do a job, protect the taxpayer’s money, and by George, he’s been a fierce protector. He even filed suits against the big banks including some of the executives which is better than any of all those other government folks in DC who are supposed to be working to protect the people. I’ve never seen any figures, but strictly from the point of view of minimizing losses at Fannie and Freddie, which is exactly what he should be looking out for, I doubt it IS in the best interest to do principal writedowns. However, according to Gretchen Morgenson’s article, DeMarco has agreed to write down loans if Congress tells him to, which sounds like a pretty smart way to handle the situation.

  13. droit de everybody but you

    Yeah, screw civil liberties, it’s an outmoded concept that doesn’t apply. The non-rhetorical question is, will worldwide public opinion curb this state with human rights and humanitarian law? When US citizens let go of their revoked obsolete constitution and start quoting chapter and verse of international law, they get three benefits: (1) they reduce their isolation by acquiring the common language of the civilized world; (2) they get direct access to the persistent diplomatic pressure of the Palais des Nations in Geneva; (3) they invoke law that’s stays binding no matter how many bullshit enabling acts this state decrees.

    If you look at what passes for the US’ National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), you see how hard the state works to keep your rights out of reach. It’s a labyrinth. If you’re a one-eyed Armenian genocide victim employed in the teapot industry, go here. If you’re a 5′ 6″ woman named Bessie Mae suffering housing discrimination in suburban Skokie go there, and on and on. International law scares this police state shitless. It’s the WMD for knocking over police state. But people got to know their rights.

  14. rjs

    re: SB 469 Would Make Civil Disobedience a Felony in Georgia

    so how is this different from the national anti-occupy bill just passed by congress & signed by obama?

    1. Procopius

      If I remember Thoreau correctly, the point of civil disobedience is to break the law and then accept the consequences (being convicted, maybe of a felony) in order to occupy the moral high ground. So I don’t see what they think this law will accomplish except to demonstrate the moral depravity of their government.

  15. Jessica

    “Aide: Former Vice President Dick Cheney recovering from heart transplant Washington Post. I think any human heart would reject him.”

    I haven’t seen anything in the press reports that would out the possibility that they gave him a lizard heart.

    1. Jessica

      Correction: I haven’t seen anything in the press reports that would _rule_ out the possibility that they gave him a lizard heart.

  16. Eureka Springs

    I hope the heart is of islamo, vegan, gay, female, multi racial, illegal alien origin, with hidden defect.

    That said, 71 is late in the game to be eligible for a heart, imo. Hope there was no other matching candidate on a list.

  17. rjs

    a few caveats on the hot spring; first, fruit crops are at least a month ahead of schedule over most of the area noted, and damaging frosts are still likely into may; secondly, a lot of the western areas that would normally have a snow cover are already starting to dry out, raising the potential for drought during the growing season, & lastly, anecdotal reports from the region indicated that with the entire winter being mild, the ground did not freeze deeply, so the normal winter kill of damaging insects didnt occur; so we can expect a bad year for plant pests and ticks, & the mosquitoes are already flying…

  18. Hugh

    As Eureka Springs notes, I wonder if Cheney got jumped to the head of the organ transplant line, as in how many of us think that he wasn’t? Much like Steve Jobs getting a liver transplant when he had medical conditions that should have disqualified him or given him very low priority, Cheney in addition to his heart disease and age was a vasculopath.

    I wonder how such high profile cases of favoritism will affect organ donation. At the same time that vast swathes of the 99% are being priced out of healthcare, the rich and famous are basically harvesting the 99% for their organs because they can afford these pricier operations and/or still retain access to the kinds of insurance that will cover them. Would you want to donate your organs under such conditions? I mean it is very noble to make such a donation, to help others, but what happens when our elites turn this sentiment into another way of preying upon the rest of us?

    1. another

      “…what happens when our elites turn this sentiment into another way of preying upon the rest of us?”

      Then they prey upon us more efficiently. Isn’t it glorious? Let’s remember that we’re all here to sacrifice ourselves to our blithe masters in any and every way that they find convenient.

    2. LucyLulu

      Of course he was immediately pushed to the head of the line. There is zero doubt about that. And being an ex-federal employee he gets the cadillac of health insurance plans. That’s part of why it’s so easy for our lawmakers to “end Medicare as we know it”. It won’t affect them. They’re set for life when it comes to affordable comprehensive health care. Hell, they’ll still be paying for Cheney’s fifth heart transplant if he needs it.

  19. Ignacio

    Cuando en marzo mayea en mayo marcea.
    When march is mayish, in may it marchishes.

    Another useless say that may work in 2012.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Two different and wholly incompatible worldviews:

    “We rule out that financing the public sector is inflationary because according to our statement, price increases are due to excessive demand, something not seen in Argentina. In our country the means of payment are adapted to the growth in demand, and price pressures come from the supply side and the external sector,” said central bank president Mercedes Marcó del Pont.

    Sounds like the Nixon administration on 15 Aug 1971! Meanwhile, a former Argentine central bank president sees matters quite differently:

    The government’s progress in modifying the central bank charter — to provide greater scope for the use of reserves — is, in analysts’ eyes, what caused the dollar to skyrocket this past week [to a record 4.89 pesos per dollar on the parallel ‘blue’ market].

    In this sense, central bank ex-president Aldo Pignanelli believes that ‘the rise in the parallel dollar rate is a faithful reflection of investors’ distrust in this scheme.’

    According to the former official, pressure on the exchange rate will grow because ‘capital flight endures and, secondly, because not enough dollars are entering the country.’

    ‘The trend is that the gap will widen after the reform of the central bank charter, because it eliminates restrictions on transferring funds to the government,’ said Aldo Abram, director of the Progress and Freedom Foundation.

    In a sort of spiral of consequences, the economist sees a risk that ‘genuine demand begins orienting itself to the parallel dollar market.’

    Currency depreciation is a sordid global race to the bottom. But the Argentine nag looks to be pulling ahead of relative slowpokes such as the Federal Reserve and the ECB.

  21. cenobite

    “Will the Democrats strip civil liberties from their platform?”

    No. They will just assert they have fulfilled all their promises in the civil liberties area.

    No one will call them on it except “civil liberties extremists” like Glenn Greenwald, who will be dismissed as cranks.

    The corporate media will see no story, because in the corporate press only the GOP is allowed to call the Democrats liars, and the GOP hates civil liberties and won’t fight the Democrats trashing them.

    On the too-obvious contradictions like the gulag at GTMO still being open, the opologists will just blame the mean Republicans in congress.

  22. Ned Ludd

    According to the article in The Progressive, the Secretary of Defense, “with respect to water resources”, is now authorized to:

    “issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources . . . to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions.”

    Also, private persons can now be forced to produce and assist in the production of chemical and biological weapons. The whole section is written to be obtuse: it starts by saying the opposite, but then turns a prohibition on its head with the phrase: “unless authorized by the President.”

  23. MacCruiskeen

    “The idea that you can assert trademark status with no accompanying use (the Facebook logo does not contain the word “book”) is an attempt to bully the uninformed.”

    Yes, but that’s the real basis of trademark law: the willingness to sue to “defend” your trademark. Registration is just paperwork.

    1. reprobate

      Your comment isn’t right. A trademark isn’t a word, it is a particular visual image. You submit an image to the PTO.

      Facebook isn’t attempting to defend its logo. It’s trying to lay claim to a word, and on top of that, one it does not incorporate in its logo. Can’t see how that would fly.

  24. Hugh

    The ten lessons of the Iraq war are really just so much Establishment twaddle. I might have expected better from its author Stephen Walt, who co-wrote with Mearsheimer the devastating critique The Jewish Lobby, but apparently not.

    Most of Walt’s lessons aren’t really lessons at all. They are observations that some of us were making at the time years ago, only Walt permeates them with large doses of our elites’ conventional wisdom. On the one hand, Walt in #10 concludes that we should minimize the risks of getting into this kind of war again. On the other, in #1, he says that not only did we lose in Iraq, but it distracted us away from Afghanistan. He is committing the very error that he is telling us we should avoid. We should not have gotten into such a war because it kept us from engaging fully in another such war. Is the man on drugs?

    And he cites people like Thom Friedman. Who in their right mind would seriously quote Thom Friedman? We named the Friedman unit (6 months) after him because for years he would write every 6 months that we just needed to give the war in Iraq 6 more months. And this doesn’t begin to address Friedman’s cheerleading for the war, despite the quote Walt dredged up from him. Remember how Friedman said that we needed every so often to pick up some country and throw it against the wall? This is the guy that Walt quotes in an article about how not to go to war?

    Really Tom Ricks is no better to cite. Ricks wrote a book critical of how the war was conducted but, that said, he was deeply committed to it.

    Note too how Walt’s describes what the top echelons of the elites did as mistakes and errors but how US forces went over the line at Abu Ghraib and Haditha. He just totally overlooks how Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld were fixated on Iraq. Bush wanted to successfully conclude a war that he thought his father had botched. Post-9/11, Rumsfeld wanted to forget Afghanistan and go straight for Iraq because he thought it was a far more important strategic prize. And Cheney was just well, Cheney, a man who never came across an invasion he didn’t like. As for Abu Ghraib, Walt is still the few bad apples story that Rumsfeld put out. He ignores the heavy pressures from the Rumsfeld and the Pentagon, that is from high up in the chain of command, to turn Abu Ghraib into what it became.

    To top it off, writing in a publication called Foreign Policy, Walt never mentions “policy” and its role in going to or not going to war, as in there was never a policy reason for invading Iraq. There were excuses but no policy backing them up. As for Afghanistan, our policy reason for military action there was accomplished within a couple of months and we should have been out of Afghanistan by mid-2002 at the latest. Also I find it incredible that in such an article that Walt’s fails to mention the Powell Doctrine. If Walt’s wants to minimize the risks of such wars, its precepts are clear and pre-date both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    One other omission that grates on me and for which I can find no other place is Walt’s crack about the Iraqi middle class. Yes, the Iraqi middle class was never an American middle class look alike but Walt makes no mention of what 10 years of US and international sanctions did to it.

    But if you want my one lesson from Vietnam or Afghanistan or Iraq, it is this: As long as we have our current elites, or really any elites at all, a privileged class that does not share our life or concerns, we will always have such wars. It is as it ever was, and will be for as long as we let it, Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I go back to my other comment: “We lost” is a remarkable statement to come from inside the foreign policy establishment. And polemically, it’s air cover for any more principled position — say, ending the empire and trying a great many principals as wear criminals — that one might wish to make. Let’s take a qualified yes for an answer, shall we?

      1. reslez

        “We lost” is a remarkable statement to come from inside the foreign policy establishment.

        It is only being said now because it no longer matters.

        Those responsible are now safe from being called to account. So let the hand-wringing begin.

    2. Hostis humani generis in Chief

      Interestingly, the crime of aggression won’t be formalized until 2017, at the the earliest, but there’s a strain of legal opinion that says, you don’t get off the hook for inexcusable crimes just because you committed them before the loopholes closed (an example is Cançado’s dissent to Jurisdiction Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy: Greece Intervening.) So a couple of decades from now, our War Criminals in Chief may face legal exposure for criminal aggression because everybody knew they what they were doing but nobody could stop them. When you’ve made yourself an enemy of all mankind, you never ever get off the hook. The key to nailing Bush and Obama for their crimes someday is undermining this USA! USA! nonsense over time. The 1% have moved out to the transnational space. The 99% should follow them. Nationalistic loyalty to any old state that has its hooks in you is crazy.

      1. aet

        Well, I don’t care how these analyses slice ‘n’ dice what went down.

        The die was cast when Bush Sr. stopped on the road to Bagdad – it looked like idiocy to me back in ’91, and it looks like an even worse mistake now. It was clear to me then that there’d certainly be another war to “finish the job”.

        But I now suspect that maximum chaos and suffering for the nation of Iraq WAS the plan, and that the halt in the Coalition’s advance in 1991 was not a mistake at all, but calculated….maybe the US Gov wanted to shake off some “excess baggage” (that is , to obtain greater autonomy of control over the troops deployed in the theatre, by reducing the size and changing the composition of the forces in the coalition) before they finally went in, ten years later, to Bagdad. I really don’t know.

        But the excuses given for going back in in 2003 were clearly sucker plays and lies.

        I now suspect, contemplating how the Iraq occupation was conducted, that the planners knew they were going back into Iraq, in force, way back in 1991 – before they stopped their march on Bagdad – for they could easily have knocked Saddam out of power then, had they desired to do simply or only that.

        Why did they stop their march on the road to Bagdad in 1991? They had the Iraqi Army ROUTED – running in defeat!
        Why did they not finish the job then?

        And now, it’s tenty-one years later…..

      2. Hostis humani generis

        Interesting, 2003 as the sequel. Why did they stop? Maybe Bush wanted to quit while he was ahead in an election year.

  25. Hugh

    Re gasoline prices, in an election year, there is a general tendency to stimulate the economy just enough to get incumbents re-elected. That is why the otherwise budget cutting Obama still signed off on reductions in the payroll tax and some extensions of unemployment benefits. But the positive electoral effects of these temporary measures look like they could be derailed by high speculation-driven gas and oil prices.

    In a kleptocracy, we should expect such conflicts. The interest of various looting factions will clash. But, as here, there is no real paradox. The oil speculators will loot now because they can. It’s still 7 months to the elections, plenty of time for a last minute decline to appease and confuse the rubes. And even if some incumbents lose, why should the kleptocrats care? They will just be replaced by other politicians equally bought and paid for by the kleptocrats.

    1. reslez

      Gasoline prices will sink by September, to levels that would otherwise not “feel” low.

  26. ginnie nyc

    Re: Guardian article on Italy’s labor minister fearing for her life: I’m no advocate of violence, but frankly, the repeal of Article 17, which became law in 1970, is an atrocity. It’s main point is that anyone fired from a job, who can prove in an employment tribunal that they were wrongly fired, must be reinstated in their old job.

    Berlusconi tried to destroy this law repeatedly, beginning in 1994, yet through all of his terms in office, including last year, he was only partially successful. One reason, I think, that he was summarily ‘removed’.

    Expect a BIG general strike coming up.

    The Guardian’s evaluation of the labor situation in Italy, with the emphasis on ‘inflexibility’ makes me wanna puke. It’s this type of analysis that is forcing me to stop reading the paper entirely.

    1. ginnie nyc

      Sorry, it’s Article 18 of the Italian labor law. Should’ve checked before posting.

    2. Ms G

      Meanwhile, here in America, Amazon is fixing to replace the (sweatshop) jobs in its warehouses with KIA Robots.

      Colin Allen, author of “Moral Machines,” assures us that “[t[hose who lose jobs to robots will have an incentive to acquire skills that are currently beyond the skills of robots — and there are many human skills that will not be surpassed soon by robots.”

      Unnamed experts are then cited reassuring us that the folks being replaced by robots in Amazon’s warehouses can always go into “creative fields” — say, become a musician or a writer or, heck, even an artist — or even into physics or psychology, because robots will never surpass humans in those endeavors.

      Finally, we have Larry Summers joining the cheerleading squad reminding us patronizingly (and falsely, of course), that as with all other industrial revolutions (factories/agriculture), “adjustments were in some cases painful” (Thank you for the legerdemain here, Sir) but “People always find new work.” (This last quote is not in quotations in the article, suggesting the reporter is “synthesizing” a statement by Summers.)

      While the conditions at the Amazon warehouses (as they have been documented in recent investigative pieces outside MSM) are a horror and should have resulted in immediate emergency intervention by our central government (Executive, DOL, OSHA) on behalf of the workers, it is extremely painful to hear that the solution instead is to delete these jobs entirely (except for the, er, few who might be able to turn into engineers who tell the robots what to) and, adding insult to injury, to have the enterprise trumpeted with ignorance and arrogance of such magnitude by the like of Allen and Summers.

      Summers and Allen to Workers: drop dead or go be an artist or a physicist or something — just don’t start your whining.

      The brazen arrogance of the pronouncements is astonishing. To me, at least.

      1. F. Beard

        Automation is one reason why private money should be common stock so that the workers – paid in common stock – will automatically have a say in what gets automated and will “share” in the productivity gains thereof.

        Credit creation is a looting mechanism whereby the workers’ own stolen purchasing power is often used to replace them.

        I can’t decide if credit creation should be banned but certainly ALL government privileges for the banks should be abolished. The government itself has no need of banks so why does it privilege them?

      2. Eureka Springs

        As I adamantly and unsuccessfully refused transition to a “smart” robot electric meter last week in a confrontation confrontation in my front yard with a guy who looked like a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers I realized our stimulus dollars which paid for these things were actually ending all the human meter reader jobs while furthering the encroachment into my personal effects.

        So add your old meter readers to the growing list of aspiring artists and engineers, America.

        1. josap

          Add the laid off cashiers at the stores with self checkouts. How long before a regular person has no job, as those jobs are all done by smarter robots?

          1. aet

            These comments echo the laments of those who were put out of their work cleaning animal filth out of stables and stalls by the advent of motorized transport.

            Tax and re-distribute back to the consumers those additional profits accruing as a result of tech improvements, which ought to have been passed on to consumers as lower prices for goods and services – if businesses won’t do the right thing themselves, and share the increases in their social welfare brought about by greater tech efficiences.

            That’s what governments are for!

          2. Lidia

            Oh holy christ, aet… I noticed this about 3 years ago, coming back to my hometown in suburban NE: at the supermarket? Self-checkout. At the Lowe’s and HD? Self checkout? Pumping gas (which I hate to do)? No choice but self-pumping.

            It was like a frickin’ NEUTRON BOMB had gone off. Where there once were working people, there was now no-one. Like 3 employees in the whole HD.

            Of course, I did see a crowd one place: poaching in the Salvation Army drop-off zone pawing through the donations.

            What a country!!!

        2. Lambert Strether

          Good for you, Eureka Springs.

          Yes, it’s funny to think of our own stimulus dollars being used to double down on our own decline. Did they fall, or were they pushed…

    1. Glen

      I little more context – it’s a discussion about why we should spend a little bit more tax money on NASA and manned space flight.

  27. WorldisMorphing

    [“Tom Murphy Interview: Resource Depletion is a Bigger Threat than Climate Change”(hat tip reader May S)]


    [“‘Greed is the Beginning of Everything’ Der Spiegel (hat tip reader Peter J)”]

    …were both great yet disconcerting reads.

    1. WorldisMorphing

      …I would be especially curious to hear your thoughts on the first one Yves…

      Why has the “Big Picture” have to be kept so remote from economics and finance ?

  28. Ben

    The NSA can listen to everyone through their iPads? Come on, you shouldn’t publish a claim like that without at least providing some evidence. Don’t you think somebody tech-savvy would have analysed their own network traffic and spotted this if it were true, and made a fuss? Or people would have noticed the effects on battery life of having the mic active all the time?

    I’m sure the NSA can subvert targeted computers, including smartphones, but it’s a big step up to say that all iPads are spy devices out of the box. Who told you that? I’m told that the Royal Family are lizards with a base inside the moon, but I don’t pass that on uncritically.

    This blog is so excellent usually – sorry to pick at one small flaw.

    1. Lidia

      What are they building the giant new data center for in Utah if not to process streaming media?

      This listening capacity has been active for years with regular cell phones, so the iPad is not any exception here.

      Are they going to listen to everyone, all the time? Not yet, but they can listen to anyone, at any time, which is the disturbing part, wouldn’t you say??

      You remind me of all the authoritarian (paid?) apologists in the past who claimed that the gov. couldn’t be bothered to read people’s e-mails.

      I haven’t kept up on it, but I did read “The Puzzle Palace” when it came out. Transpose that capacity differential (the vast difference between what the public thought the NSA was capable of, and what they were actively doing) onto what we know are today’s capabilities.

    2. reslez

      You come across as painfully naive.

      “Apple has made it not just possible, but relatively easy, for almost anyone with access to your iOS device to get detailed information about where you have been, without your consent or knowledge.” (PCWorld)

      Why would any intelligence agency notuse such a feature?

      But why take my word for it? Hear it from the horse’s mouth:

      CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher

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