Links 4/10/12

Apologies for thin links. Traveling to Berlin today, with resulting WiFi deprivation….

Drug shortages and the mythical market rdan, Angry Bear

Multitouch floor may someday detect your heart attack MSNBC

The case for the CTBT: Stronger than ever Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Fury as Israelis read between lines of Grass poetry Financial Times

In Surprise, China Posts Trade Surplus New YorK Times. Huh? We commented on the predictable engineering of a deficit right before the April-October opportunity for Treasury to designate China a currency manipulator.

What could Obama learn from Brazil president Dilma Rousseff? McClatchy (hat tip reader Paul T)

Chinese Rogue Trader Sentenced To Death (But Not Really) Dealbreaker

JPMorgan Trader Iksil Fuels Prop-Trading Debate With Bets Bloomberg

America reassembles industrial policy Edward Luce, Financial Times

U.S. Stocks Decline as Jobs Report Misses Estimates Bloomberg. Delayed reaction to last Friday’s news.

Energy: Refined out of existence Financial Times (hat tip Joe Costello)

Barclays may face shareholder rebellion over Bob Diamond pay deal Guardian

US March Employment Trends Index Dips – Conference Board WSJ Economics Blog

Warm Winter Economic Boost May Limit Spring Jobs Picture Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

Cramming Funny Fees Onto our Phone Bills: Not so Funny Nathalie Martin, Credit Slips

Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse Matt Taibbi

Antidote du jour:

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  1. skippy

    Given the well-known Republican antipathy to evolution, President Obama’s recent description of the Republican budget as an example of “social Darwinism” may be a canny piece of political labeling. In the interests of historical accuracy, however, it should be clearly recognized that “social Darwinism” has very little to do with the ideas developed by Charles Darwin in “On the Origin of Species.” Social Darwinism emerged as a movement in the late 19th-century, and has had waves of popularity ever since, but its central ideas owe more to the thought of a luminary of that time, Herbert Spencer, whose writings are (to understate) no longer widely read. snip…

    Skippy… my favorite part: Spencer, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” thought about natural selection on a grand scale. Conceiving selection in pre-Darwinian terms — as a ruthless process, “red in tooth and claw” — he viewed human culture and human societies as progressing through fierce competition. Provided that policymakers do not take foolish steps to protect the weak, those people and those human achievements that are fittest — most beautiful, noble, wise, creative, virtuous, and so forth — will succeed in a fierce competition, so that, over time, humanity and its accomplishments will continually improve. Late 19th-century dynastic capitalists, especially the American “robber barons,” found this vision profoundly congenial. Their contemporary successors like it for much the same reasons, just as some adolescents discover an inspiring reinforcement of their self-image in the writings of Ayn Rand.

    PS. How can you fight, when, you don’t know whom your real enemy is….

    1. craazyman

      holy cow!

      a post by Skippy that I can actually understand! ;-)

      this must be a sign of something new, a new age of meaning, maybe Kevinearick will start making sense to me now.

      one thing that doesn’t make sense, or does in a bubbly way, is Facebook’s $2 billion cash toss at Instagram, the iPhone photo editing and posting platform.

      Jesus. I looked into Instagram and (while it’s cool, for sure), it’s nothing but a bunch of simple Photoshop filters hooked up to a photosharing platform. If a human being doesn’t get bored with it in a week tweaking their miserable photos you better take their pulse to make sure they’re conscious. And they don’t even have a revenue model as of yet. Incredible. $2 billion dollars??? I mean really. And they say they have a way to hook your shots up to a printer to print them. That’s another world entirely and if anyone has ever tried to print photos so they look like they do on the screen, well, you’ll realize it’s not so simple as plug and play to get it right.

      I don’t get it and never will. The smart phone seems to be a tool to make people even stupider than they already are.

        1. ambrit

          Did you intend your comment to sound like the return of slavery? I always knew that Thirteenth Amendment was the unlucky one.

        2. craazyman

          I do understand that.

          But I still find it amazing that such an audience would be considered sticky enough to pay $2 billion for. It’s like paying $2 billion for hula-hoop users (if anyone remembers the hula hoop).

          Once the novelty wears off there’s not much left.

          I guess that’s why I’m a white collar ditch digger groaning way in a Manhattan high rise and they’re out there making billions of dollars in sunny California. I admit it.

          1. propertius

            I suspect the pictures themselves constitute a goldmine of potential marketing information – particularly if they’re timestamped and geotagged.

      1. Jim

        Let’s say that FB is paying 90/10 stock/cash. So, it’s paying with stock valuing FB, a company with 3B run-rate in revenues, at 100B. 1% of market cap, and you get to make sure that no one else picks up Instagram.

        Why not.

    2. SidFinster

      What bugs me most about Rand, Randianism, Randroids, and randyness is that they neglect to look at the entire written history of humanity:

      Only dopes compete. Winners cheat.

  2. gatopeich

    Regarding Gunter Grass’ poem: Can’t a guy denounce any of Israel’s crimes or their nuclear menace without being called “antisemitic”?

    Gets so obvious when they attack the messenger with such intensity, while not even mentioning the message.

    Who is still eating such childish cover-up at this point in time?

    Twenty years after Chomsky’s “Pirates and Emperors” (link), the same pirates and the same emperors are in the same “business as usual”.

    1. Up the Ante

      “Who is still eating such childish cover-up at this point in time? ”

      The entire Nuclear Cult is really nothing more than Public Relations firms gone native. As in Apocalypse Now, they really do nothing more than horrors, undermining All forms of govt.
      Because I recognize this, am I an anti-semite ? Seriously, I want to know!


    2. EH

      Can’t a guy denounce any of Israel’s crimes or their nuclear menace without being called “antisemitic”?

      Not really, no.

  3. Abelenkpe

    No cats. :(
    And I’m sorry I totally disagree with Taibbi. It could suck worse. Never say things couldn’t be worse because officials will just see that as a reason and opportunity to prove you wrong.

    1. Eureka Springs

      What sucks is to find out Taibbi missed the obvious on this bill… even worse, he has still been out on the interview circuit making excuses for the Obama administration. Nice to see him admit his mistake, but disturbing he made it yet again. Get a grip or go work for NPR.

      1. Hugh

        We have been beating up a lot on Krugman recently, but he is just an example of the larger problem. For virtually any liberal media commentator, you could say, X has done some good work but missed the bigger picture. That is while they deliver good critiques from time to time, like Taibbi, they can give you whiplash by suddenly reverting to a completely discordant defense of the status quo.

        I think that we need to remember that these commentators are members of traditional corporate media and ultimately that will tell. Still those instances where this happens can be quite jarring because it calls into question their work with which we agree, their credibility, and their status as opinion creators. I mean how much of an opinion leader can anyone be if more than 3 years into Obama’s Presidency they can still be so clueless about him? How can one claim insight from so far behind the curve? I don’t know where the cutoff should be but I think by the end of Obama’s first year in office everything anyone needed to know about him was already out there, no special insight needed.

        So when the Krugmans and Taibbis promote Obama and the Democrats at this very late date, I think it has more to do with class and tribal allegiances than anything else. But this should be unsurprising. Afterall, how could Krugman and Taibbi have achieved their positions in the media without them?

        1. Lambert Strether

          The “trope of art” for the cut-off is DeLong’s brilliant “class of” formulation.

          I suppose it’s barely possible that the “Class of 2012” retains some degree of honor, even if they only recognized what Obama was four years after, say, Obama’s vote on FISA reform. But the class of 2013? Nope.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Yeah. In fact, expect things to get worse.

      I’ve moved Tiabbi over to the potential perp category.

      I fail to see how he could go from the skeptic he was to being lulled into supporting Obama and getting suckered on Obama’s mortgage moves. I’m not buying it. Too convenient.

      Tiabbi is more than likely yet another left-wing gatekeeper, lying in wait to spring his betrayal. Looks like Tiabbi’s number is being called. Looks like it’s time for Tiabbit to do the 180 degree grown up turn, a la Christopher Hitchens, etc.

      Not that I care much so I will watch from afar . . . but my BS detector is going off just as it does with Yglesias, or Krugman, or Digby. No surprise that the few ‘next generation’ pundits, like Yglesias and Tiabbi, are most likely compromised.

  4. LeeAnne

    Thanks to Matt Taibbi for the article on JOBS.

    Remember when your right to privacy; the laws protecting that right on all your communication devices were torn up and those of us alarmed by it got a shrug of ‘no problem -I have nothing to hide’ in response? Well, with the JOBS bill, the chickens have come home to roost.

    The JOBS bill is nothing other than jobs for criminals and the formation of criminal businesses; the man signing it -shameless.

    In addition to the information the government, Google and Facebook are legally permitted to possess, store and mine for their own profit in ways we can hardly begin to imagine, we have the following.

    Our personal medical records are going on the Internet. Do we really believe the government can be trusted to protect that information? Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.

    So, in addition to your privacy gone wild via Google, Facebook, your cell phone and text messaging; indeed, all you Internet and telephone communications, add this:

    Technology Gone Wild: Perhaps one of the most insidious and dangerous trends in modern health care is the “hit” that physicians will take in the form of mandated electronic medical records and e-prescription requirements, all bundled under Obamacare’s new health information technology (HIT) requirements. Beginning last year and continuing through 2014 (when mandates and penalties begin to take effect), physicians and medical offices must start to invest between $40-80K up-front on expensive, unwieldy, and inefficient computer systems so that the federal government can track every move and detail of your medical care.

    1. Lambert Strether

      So, Obamacare is a bailout for health insurance software companies (or, more precisely, whichever body shops the work gets contracted out to).

      And that big data center in Utah gets all our health records, too!

      What’s not to like?

  5. LeeAnne

    I’m referring to the access of all this information by the revived criminal JOBS cartel with Internet privileges -as in, IPOs tailored just for you, marketed directly to your devices.

  6. b.

    I think this is an important observation:

    Whistleblowers have become the glaring exception to the Obama administration “looking forward, not backward.”

    This is not about “Reconcilidescension without Truthiness”, this is a cover-up worse than the crimes. You could prosecute, sentence, and then pardon every single one of the Bush torture perps to set the record straight while letting the elite off the hook, referring to “9/11 made us all crazy”, and the damage would be contained. You could have a “Truth and Reconciliation” comission without prosecutions, if you cannot even stand the idea of elites being judged felons, and let the citizens and the world judge for themselves.

    What you cannot do is push the letter of the law beyond principle and reason, in a desparate effort to impede any citizen’s attempt to look backward, whatever your decree. The harassment of journalists that dare to ask questions – especially if they obtain answers from whistleblowers, or victims, or Wikileaks – is part of a cover-up at all cost, and that in itself amplifies the crimes, and the perception of the crimes. If they are that desperate – that lawless – to hide a truth that, like bone beneath torn flesh, has been visible for a decade now, what have we not found out yet? To borrow from Talleyrand, what crime could possibly measure up to a mistake this stupid?

      1. reslez

        It’s not “illegal” illegal. They just haven’t gotten around to rewriting the law yet.

        That’s why no one takes it seriously.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Warm Winter Economic Boost…

    I was watching NHK the other night, and it was reported that this year, the cherry blossoms in Tokyo arrived about 10 days late.

    That contrasts with what people have posted here about the warm winter in many parts of America.

  8. Mel

    “Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse — Matt Taibbi”

    The administration proves that they’re not targeting the little guys. Cute line “as part of a settlement…”

    Folk-tech companies like AdaFruit Industries have been cheering the crowdsource finanacing provisions. I don’t think they realize how completely they’re going to be trampled in the rush. Is today’s antidote really an antidote? — maybe try to think of it as a refreshing swim.

    1. Up the Ante

      “It’s the cost of corruption. .. and lobbying expenditures. ”

      And they’re “On the fence” with contributions,

      W’s contributions: loss of “private” Saudi investors, access to ‘ringfenced’ legislators thru increased lobbbying only.
      [“CTIA has made it much harder to find this data since 2004”]

      “the FCC and .. Congress .. they don’t particularly care .. The government is responding to the need for campaign contributions for politicians. ”

      They are expressing W’s ‘ringfence’ and its imperative, insider trading.

  9. Lloyd C. Bankster

    Re: Matt Taibbi

    Hey Matt,

    Remember when Roger Lowenstein wrote that article on Bernanke entitled “The Hero” and how upset you were when he got a special 1 hour rate with Chelsea (at Aphrodite Companions: 34-26-36, Dark Blonde, Baby Blue eyes, weight 126, no tattoos, non-smoker), in addition to a multi-hour discount and a 3 night discount.

    Well, she said Lowenstein, like Geithner, had a tiny-timmy and could not keep up with her, so she’s available now.

    Just let us know whenever you’re ready to do that follow-up piece to your Jan. 26th, 2012 article “Is Obama’s economic populism for real?”

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