Links 4/28/12

Study finds warming speeding up rainfall cycle AFP (Aquifer)

What Foreign Corporations Will Obama Empower to Undermine Environmental Laws Near You? Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Food Security Slipping Ever Further Away IPS (Aquifer)

CISPA: What now? Digital Trends (Jerry F). Decidedly not cheery.

The Journal Misses on Ebooks and Antitrust Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review

Texas, Amazon agree on sales taxes, says statement from Combs’ office Houston Chronicle. Oh ho ho, give it a few years and we’ll see how much of Amazon’s dominance was due to sales tax breaks. I hate to say it’s been a consideration in a lot of my Web orders…

My Father Li Dexin Frank Li, Global Economic Intersection

Merkel Blasts Hollande as Spain Worries Increase Der Spiegel (Aquifer)

Austerity Backlash Unites European Leaders Der Spiegel (Aquifer)

Spain jobless rate rises near one in four Financial Times. Get a load of this NYT headline (as in the implication that austerity works, eventually): Spain Is Still Awaiting the Payoff From Austerity

The Midas Touch – Swiss style Golem XIV (Ed M). This is happening to more and more of London, too.

Egyptian Spring 2012 Outside the (Cardboard) Box

Why Do They Hate Us? Foreign Policy

Most Dangerous Cities For Women: The Top 10 Huffington Post (Carol B)

Oil Speculation Imposes “The Most Insidious Tax” On Americans: Leo Hindery Market Ticker (furzy mouse)

Philadelphia Blows Up Its School District, And No One In The Complicit National Media Even Cares Susie Madrak (Lambert)

180 Detroit high school students suspended after protesting closures Detroit News

American Taxpayer Liabilities Just Went Up, Again – Why Isn’t Congress Paying Attention? Simon Johnson. True but we don’t ha (let alone a balance sheet), and what about parsing out transfers v. expenditures v. investments, at a minimum?

Saving Social Security, Simplified Rdan, Angry Bear (Aquifer)

Now Is the Time to Increase Social Security Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Trying to Shed Student Debt Wall Street Journal. The fact that this is rising to the level of being treated as a serious news story is a positive sign.

The Student Loan Tax Alan White, Credit Slips

My Faith-Based Retirement Joe Nocera, New York Times

Breaking Down First Quarter 2012 GDP Numbers Credit Writedowns

Nancy Pelosi Says She Would Back Plan That Cuts Social Security, Medicare Huffington Post

Falling home prices drag new buyers under water Reuters (April Charney)

Short Sales Soar as Home Foreclosures Fall JD Supra. The short sales stat is useful, but new foreclosures are rising in the wake of the mortgage settlement.

US banks to put stress tests case to Fed Financial Times. Even Sheila Bair has politely said the stress tests were inadequate, but the banks will never miss an opportunity to see what they can get away with.

Several Dozen Signs of the Apocalypse Esquire (Lambert)

Locking down an American workforce Le Monde diplomatique (Lambert). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (Maura). I thought this was hysterical:

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  1. Jessica

    “Spain Is Still Awaiting the Payoff From Austerity”

    Am I the only one who read this and thought of an Onion headline? Something along the lines of “Area Man Still Awaiting Getting Rich by Winning Lottery”.

  2. CB

    I got as far as the Morgan Fairchild-Bob Schieffer slide and I had to leave. What Adolph Reed called idiotic slurping. Nausea. You see the same corruption in sports media types who idolize athletes and kiss up to get next to them.

      1. F. Beard

        what approximation have you ever had with the poor? skippy

        I’ve been poor myself several times and am not exactly
        prosperous now though I’m not complaining.

        Keep deception and lies far from me,
        Give me neither poverty nor riches;
        Feed me with the food that is my portion,
        That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?”
        Or that I not be in want and steal,
        And profane the name of my God.
        Proverbs 30:8-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

        1. Skippy

          You powers of observation are weak, methinks. I you had observed the video, this might have caught your eye.

          ***Anybody else notice how there shirts are the same color as the boxes listed, excepted for the bearded guy. that’s because God plays by his own rules.

          AdamsVariety 20 hours ago 122 thumbs up***

          “MMT is part of the solution. A monetary sovereign should be be able to create as much money as the market will bear. However, a government enforced private money monopoly IS NOT a market – at least not a free one.”… beard

          Skip here… OK. Government is bad in your book yet you wish to give it the power to print *near* frictionless fiat and taxation would no longer be an input, but, the breath of life, to it. On top of this you would allow corporations – private enterprise the right to issue its own floating promissory notes. And all of this without even a cursory observation to international trading partners, contracts, obligations? Why does it have to be so hard, turn banks into utility’s, send in the forensic’s (Mr Black at the helm) and sort it out. When all that is done we can bicker about the next reality.

          Skippy… Any way, free market libertarians are completely bat shite in my book. The fact that you have infused Judeo – Christianity as a *tool of validation* just furthers that observation.

          1. F. Beard

            Why does it have to be so hard, turn banks into utility’s, Skippy

            No one is “credit-worthy” since credit is essentially counterfeit money. Bill Black should realize that. I’m disappointed if he doesn’t.

            As for private money, what you keep ignoring is that without the counterfeiting cartel the corporations would likely have to “share” wealth and power with their workers and the general population.

            But that frightens you, doesn’t it? Heck, what if population did just fine without elitists in charge? One might feel useless, no?

          2. Skippy

            “No one is “credit-worthy” since credit is essentially counterfeit money. Bill Black should realize that. I’m disappointed if he doesn’t.”… beard.

            Skip here… credit worthy[?] Yeah, the old definition was based on job longevity and personal virtue, that’s gone out the fien window…eh (leadership by example problem methinks). But whom’s fault is that? Ummm the dominate power in this reality we presently occupy…. Private Capital maybe? Even the Electoids have to pay it umbrage too it, before they can climb the stage of political kabuki.

            Then we have the complete butchering of the word Counterfeiting see:

            Origin of COUNTERFEIT
            Middle English countrefet, from Anglo-French cuntrefeit, from past participle of cuntrefere, contrefaire to imitate, from cuntre- + faire to make, from Latin facere.

            Facere: present active infinitive of faciō, present active faciō, present infinitive facere, perfect active fēcī, supine factum. (irregular passive voice) I do; I make.

            Effect on society

            Some of the ill-effects that counterfeit money has on society are:[1][2]

            Reduction in the value of real money
            Increase in prices (inflation) due to more money getting circulated in the economy – an unauthorized artificial increase in the money supply
            Decrease in the acceptability (satisfactoriness) of money – payees may demand electronic transfers of real money or payment in another currency (or even payment in a precious metal such as gold)
            Companies are not reimbursed for counterfeits. This forces them to increase prices of commodities

            At the same time, in countries where paper money is a small fraction of the total money in circulation, the macroeconomic effects of counterfeiting of currency may not be significant. The microeconomic effects, such as confidence in currency, however, may be large.

            Skip here… well as you can see your interpretation of counterfeiting is your own personal opinion and nothing else, and your instance at reconstructing words meanings is part and parcel of/to a deluded state of observation (see spreading sky’s dialog). Hence on one hand you hate gold or a commodity[s backed currency, yet use the same arguments to describe the diminishment of peoples toil as represented as unchanging value… cough purchasing power.

            Too further extrapolate, you then want to empower the very core of malfeasance, the right of sovereignty[?], too create their own currency, corporations[?], like New Corp, Monsanto, BP, AAPL, MIC, Halliburton, Insurance Company’s, Pay Day Loan mobs, Health industry, the Private Prison Cartel, et al? The very entity’s that have polluted both a world and our political discourse…really? Give them the right to shape reality above and beyond what they already have, after what they have done? Look banks can be controlled by the true sovereigns (utility, look the word up… eh)… the will of an informed citizenship and not the will of property / capital owners.

            “As for private money, what you keep ignoring is that without the counterfeiting cartel the corporations would likely have to “share” wealth and power with their workers and the general population.”… beard.

            Skip here… what fooking planet do you live on? Have you any scope of history at all? The East India Corporation is alive an well in many guises, the people of many undeveloped nations are getting their ass handed to them every day, nay even the American populace is now treated as chattel. Yet you carry the water for them, a sort of Jim Jones for corporations, the Kool-Aid is good for you, its fortified with vitamins!!!…. and cyanide?

            “But that frightens you, doesn’t it? Heck, what if population did just fine without elitists in charge? One might feel useless, no?”… beard.

            Skip here… “elitists in charge”… beard. Now that depends how you define such a thing, like a Richard Smith, Susan Webber, Bill Black, DownSouth, Doug T, IOTBP, both Psycho’s, et al. I would give them my breath, my mind and body… too such an endeavor… freely.

            Skippy… too a free market liberatopian… absolutely not!!!!!!!!!!!

          3. Skippy

            DBBL dang it, the one and only Doc Holiday, Patrica, Yankee Frank and a cornucopia of others (sorry if name not mentioned), they breath life into me. A possibility to leave this wretched reality and explore a new and beneficial one, too all life, a sustainable one too boot.

            Skippy… all you want is to revisit the past, a barbarus past, a world were if one could amass enough, they could dominate others for self aggrandizement, with a 7 year default trigger, talk about Prisoners Dilemma!

          4. Skippy

            Beat me with a stick…. Richard Kline… sorry dick… lol.

            Skippy… more than most…. you know. Hay in an alternate world we get in trouble and then get pissed!

          5. F. Beard

            Yeah, the old definition was based on job longevity and personal virtue, SkippySkippy

            Even the virtuous are not entitled to counterfeit money – which “credit” is.

            The whole distinction between capital and labor would vanish eventually if the counterfeiting cartel, the banking system, was abolished. Then it is likely that companies would have to “share” wealth and power with their workers else lose out to companies that did.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Skippy, we were all born poor, well most of us…99.99% of us

        We were also poor when we were young, just finished school, about to start our careers, about to start a family or to take on our first big debt… thats typical of anyone not in the 0.01%.

        1. chitown2020

          We are all being bankrupted by the unsustainable debt of the FED. No one in the 99% is safe. If the bankrupting continues we will all wake up broke and homeless in the land our fathers conquered. That includes the NEW WORLD ORDER SCHILLS IN THE MEDIA..

      3. F. Beard

        MMT is part of the solution. A monetary sovereign should be be able to create as much money as the market will bear. However, a government enforced private money monopoly IS NOT a market – at least not a free one.

        The solution is from the Bible – coexisting government and private money supplies per Matthew 22:16-22 (“Render to Caesar …”)

    1. Cap'n Magic

      Antidote du jour nailed it six ways from Sunday, with just one minor flaw-no mention of cigarettes.

  3. Eureka Springs

    Public Citizen provides important information via the firedoglake link. However their suggested remedy is appalling in that oh so familiar Veal Pen powerless way. I deleted the email from them this week so I cannot quote it precisely.. but all they wanted was for us to sign a petition to get the bill text open and available for all to read, iirc. In other words they want a belated seat at the table… when any self-respecting non neo-liberal citizen already knows enough about these “free trade” agreements… that our NO guns should be firing right now.

    I witnessed this kind of kettling to helplessness with Public Citizen folk in Occupy Groups with their feckless end corporate personhood half-a-loaf measures… We should not fall for it now, again, on the lft, such as it is… anymore than we would for MoveOn. All they are trying to do is get us on the carpet so they can pull it out from under us at the moment we take a stand.

    No more free trade agreements… period. Drive a steak in the dark heart of neoliberalism.. don’t negotiate with it.

    1. jsmith

      That’s why Occupy and other protest groups need to have redlines that are non-negotiable i.e., able to be co-opted by neoliberals.

      Such as?

      The end of corporations.

      The end of capitalism.

      Then you are starting from a clear position, one which can’t be co-opted by the “realists” you so accurately depict.

      If there is one thing the neoliberal fascists have made perfectly clear again and again is that if you think you are going to successfully negotiate with them, you are effin stupid.

      They will demand that you completely co-opt your own position BEFORE you even get to the table and then they will ask for more.

      If your position is the end of corporations/captialism, there is not much room for co-opting.

      I understand, to get a lot of people thinking in concert on such ideas will take a long time but really how else are we going to move forward?

      The system will not change until there is a threat to the system.

      1. Aquifer

        Hmmmm, OK, so we demand they pass a law that says “No more corporations” and another that says “No more capitalism” and then what?

        Rather sounds to me like the cartoon that shows a student writing an equation of the problem on one side of the blackboard and an equation of the solution on the other side and in the middle “and then a miracle happens”. I am afraid i must join with the observer of this exercise and say, “I think you are going to have to do better than that …”

          1. Aquifer

            It’s too bad you consider including your candidate’s site as “spamming” –

            In any case, having watched a 3rd party debate awhile ago (don’t recall your candidate attending ..) it was rather clear what was needed was not so much a debate among them, as they all seemed to pretty much agree on the basics, but a getting together with a unified front – the left is fragmenting itself to death …

          2. jsmith

            I am using the term “spam” in the sense of you having giving me the link to Jill Stein at least 5 times already.

            I don’t know the details about the debate – ie, who was invited, what the criteria were – but as someone who’s seemingly familiar with how they keep 3rd parties off of ballots – meaning you, Aquifer – you should be very wary as to the reasoning behind the exclusion of any party when debates are held.

            As concerns the fragmentation of the left, what better way to unify than all agree that corporations must end?

            That is one point all serious leftists could agree on.

            And it would welcome ALL tactics: boycotts, legislative, political, etc etc.

            Instaed of trying different tactics to be noticed in regards demonstrating, how about the left agree that no matter what political persuasion you come from you can at least agree with and help end corporations.

            Does the Green Party advocate for the end of corporations?

            If not, why should a reasonable person NOT think they will be co-opted like other “progressive” captilist parties?

            At least with the unco-opted socialists such as the SEP, they at least talk about a world devoid of corporate rule.

            The Greens on the other hand take the corporate structure as a given and therefore, as I stated earlier, are playing on corporate turf from the get-go.

        1. diptherio

          My suggestion, as an active Occupier, is that rather than say “end corporations” or “end corporate personhood” (the first too vague, the second too wimpy) we push for restructuring boards of directors, maybe three worker reps (actual workers), three community reps and one stockholder rep. Change the governance structure of the organizations and the outcomes will improve, imho.

          Placing control of corporate resources and decision making in the hands of a greater number of stake-holders, not just in the hands of the shareholders and managers, will, itself be an end to capitalism (at least as we know it).

          1. jsmith

            See, I disagree.

            If you get bogged down in the details from the get-go, the neoliberals are going to eat you up.

            Remember, they have billions of dollars and all their think tanks to very cleverly rip any detailed proposal apart.

            I think it’s more important to first get a huge group of people united behind one broad idea that is VERY SCARY to TPTB such as: an end to corporations.

            In ending corporations you could get the support of small-business owners, low-income workers, anarchists, socialists, libertarians, environmentalists, etc etc.

            Once you have a large enough block of people then you wait for THEM to give their first offer.

            TPTB are masters at co-opting movements and by presenting them with a detailed and nuanced proposal – however, reasonable – you are basically fighting on their turf.

            The fight needs to move to the turf of the people.

            It will take longer to do this but once a movement’s established it’s that much harder to break.

            I agree with what you’re advocating I just think you need message first, then details.

            Occupy needs a simply message and aim.

            One that threatens the system from philosophical point of view.

            One that is initially devoid of details so it can’t be debated to death by the talking heads.

            Sure, they’ll laugh at first but if it takes hold then they’re really in trouble.

            End corporations – somehow, someway – if the masses coalesced around this idea things would get real very fast.

            Again, to avoid the charges of socialism, communism, just choose a target that everyone can find reason to hate and there is nearly universal hatred of corporations.

          2. F. Beard

            Again, to avoid the charges of socialism, communism, just choose a target that everyone can find reason to hate and there is nearly universal hatred of corporations. jsmith

            Baloney! Banks are hated far more and properly so.

            So why don’t you even mention them?

          3. Lidia

            jsmith is correct, I believe.

            The only way to “win” this game is not to play it, but play another game.

          4. Aquifer


            There is a middle ground between bumper sticker slogans and endlessly detailed proposals, and i am not so sure you get the biggest bang for your buck with “End Corporations” in any case …

            Occupy Wall Street picked its moniker for a reason, and the institutions it first focused on were the banks …

            There is a way to make demands in doable chunks in an organized fashion that resists co-optation. The problem heretofore, IMO, is that folks have been too parochial in their concerns – so that TPTB can satiate them, at least temporarily, by throwing them a bone here and there, thus peeling them off one by one. The solution to that is not, IMO, with over broad slogans but with doing the work of coming together around an internally coherent platform that cannot be disassembled by TPTB ….

      2. F. Beard

        What about the end of banking?!

        Our do you prefer that some, the banks and the so-called “credit-worthy”, continue to steal the general population’s purchasing power in order to dispossess and dis-employ them?

        I wonder about the peculiar blindness people some people have about banking.

        But here’s a central banker himself:

        Josiah Charles Stamp, the 1st Baron Stamp was born on June 21, 1880 and died during the Blitz of London in World war two. He was a director of the Bank of England and the second richest man in the country when in a talk at the University of Texas in the 1920′s he said the following:

        “Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money . from

        But in case you worry the abolition of “credit-creation” would halt your own access to counterfeit money well, correct you are. HOWEVER, a ban on new credit creation would REQUIRE massive amounts of new reserves to prevent massive deflation. Those new reserves should properly just be given to the entire population ala Steve Keen’s “A Modern Jubilee”.

        1. Red

          If feeding cow parts to cows causes Mad Cow (FDA says “No Problem!”), what does feeding steak to the veal pen do?

    2. Lambert Strether

      “kettling to helplessness” … Kettling is a much more powerful and appropriate metaphor than “veal pen.”

      TINA (There Is No Alternative) is kettling, and the D shills are just as guilty of it as the R shills. They just do it with different class and cultural branding, that’s all.

      1. F. Beard

        But there is an alternative: A universal bailout ala the Bible and Steve Keen’s “A Modern Jubilee”; coexisting government and private money supplies per Matthew 22:16-22; and the abolition of all explicit and implicit government privileges for the banks.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Signing petitions to the Dark Lord of Mordor is the height of absurdity. The most you’ll get from such futility and spitting into the wind is an FBI/CIA/DHS dossier and someday a visit from ring wraith drones on a moonless night. How can anyone still see Obama as the lesser evil. Post [s]election, the man will blossom into a hellraiser nightmare.

      TPP as “NAFTA on steroids” certainly vindicates foil-hat one world government prophets. It is the eradication of sovereignty and the vitiation of all national economic planning. And BS Bernanke is clearly a central coconspirator in the destruction of the dollar.

      This has gone way past phone calls, petitions, mock voting, and pouring money down NGO rat holes. Public Citizen, Common Cause, MoveOn, FAIR, the ACLU, Amnesty, and others are stuck fighting old trench wars, when those battles have been long lost and the front has moved around them. They’ve forfeited their claim to leadership.

  4. scraping_by

    Yes, the new house buyer is immedicately underwater. Just like the new car buyer. Just like a lot of commerative coin buyers. Just like…

    Two thoughts: many home buyers are in denial about how deep the fall of home prices has been and will be. This keeps them from being ruthless and demanding a reasonable price for the purchase, sticking with bubble-level numbers which were inflations of inflations.

    One of the truest pieces of advice from the financial advice book industry: “A stockbroker is not your friend.” A real estate agent shouldn’t be, either, and that melting, sexy look and heaving bosom shouldn’t be factored into the price, either.

    The definition of a buyer’s market: If you’re not embarrassed opening with such a low price, you’re paying way too much. That said, the number is trending down, and probably will for a long time to come. A home buyer is catching a falling knife.

    Second, the article is outraged with their connection of low down payments and ending house payments. Heck, it’s probably better for the rest of us the equity loss is paid for by credit rather than cash. Since the money’s going to vaporize anyway, it’s better it’s Fed inflation than the savings of a lifetime’s work. It’s extracted from the speculative economy rather than the real economy, and it did no good for the rest of us.

    1. F. Beard

      Second, the article is outraged with their connection of low down payments and ending house payments. Heck, it’s probably better for the rest of us the equity loss is paid for by credit rather than cash. scraping_by

      Excellent point! Would I rather lose $20,000 in cash (the down payment) or lose $20,000 in the equity of my house? Obviously the later.

      Thanks for pointing this out. I was irritated too when I saw that.

    2. Lidia

      As someone who is going through the offer process on a house (a house which had not been mortgaged within the last 30 years, N.b.), I’d say it’s all too easy to tell buyers to hold out: from what I have seen neither most sellers nor most other buyers see things from our point of view. So I can look at a house and assess its current worth as $100k, but the sellers are going to hold out for $200k, maybe because their mortage is $180k or for whatever other reason. They and buyers in competition with me are imagining a return to business as usual, not relentless future across-the-board devaluations.

  5. ohmyheck

    Sales Tax and Amazon—-I’ve always equated the shipping fee as a replacement for the sales tax. Yes, I might not have to pay taxes, but I have to pay the shipping fee.

    In the end…meh.

    Haha, Suf. Suc.—-Gauloise, indeed!

    1. curlydan

      the shipping fees go directly to Amazon. All those books,dvds, etc. purchased make Post Office and FedEx trucks zoom more over our roads. Those shipping fees don’t pay for our roads and bridges. Amazon should pay a state sales tax in every state.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Good point. “Free” really means “subsidized.” It’s exactly the same logic that another giant monopoly, Wal-Mart, uses.

        “Every day low prices” wouldn’t be so low if all the so-called externalities were priced in.

        (There are no externalities. The world is round.)

        1. Aquifer

          “There are no externalities. The world is round”

          Good slogan – make for a good bumper sticker (recyclable, of course)

          ‘Tis very true, there are only those things we count and those we don’t – the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness writ large …

        2. wunsacon

          My attempt to make that into a bumper sticker:

          “‘Free’ markets are subsidized by the powerless.”

      2. Jim

        Better yet, states and cities should cut/eliminate the sales tax, thereby providing some form of tax relief to households that need it.

        I’m shocked by the number of Dems, purportedly supporters of the middle-class, who nonetheless have no problem with policies which result in the middle-class shouldering a higher tax burden.

  6. CB

    When Pelosi first ascended to the Speaker’s chair, I remember a commentator remarking that she had no policy chops. Once you got past the first five minutes of conversation, you had exhausted her knowledge. He said she was a poor choice for that position for her policy ignorance.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Pelosi’s having no policy chops makes her a good choice. For her owners, who will supply her with policy when they need to, like now.

      You’re making the unwarranted assumptions that policy making has anything to do with public purpose, and that the legacy parties are responsive to the electorate.

  7. jsmith

    Today’s real MUST read:

    From the article:

    “Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law who had gathered more than enough petitions to put the law on the November ballot were told yesterday that it wouldn’t happen because the petitions had used the wrong font size.

    Organizers had hoped to suspend Public Act 4, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act, also known as the “emergency financial manager law” signed by Gov. Snyder last year. The Center for Public Integrity explained that with the law, “appointed managers can nullify labor contracts, sell public utilities and dismiss elected officials.” Greatly contested was the ability of emergency managers under this law to nullify collective bargaining agreements.”

    If you read down into the comments, it is revealed that a corporation, The Sterling Corporation, is behind the law and fighting the petition.

    Guess who works for Sterling?

    That’s right, one of the officials on the State Canvassing Board who decided the font size was too small.

    Had enough fascism, America?

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      Just when we think it’s gone way to far………thanks for this — having to go to court over a font size !

      1. Aquifer

        This is nothing new – this is the same thing that happens when 3rd parties try to get on a ballot – they have to have an inordinate amount of signatures compared to the duopoly, and those signatures and the petitions they are on are often challenged for nit picky reasons tying up a lot of folks time just establishing the validity of the petitions. I have been involved in petition checks and the challenges are often blatantly bogus, but, being made, the petitions must then be defended.

        TPTB don’t even have to get to the merits of an issue – they just eliminate the entrants at the gate …

        Folks need to understand this dynamic and how pervasive it is. A good book detailing how this worked in Nader’s campaign is Grand Illusion by Theresa Amato ….

  8. Literary Critic

    “Breaking Down First Quarter 2012 GDP Numbers”

    Very good and concise article. Even comes with a “conclusion section” after only 10 minutes or so of reading! Not only distills the state of the economy, but gives some insight into the subtle data manipulation we are constantly being subjected to.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Faith based retirement.

    Fiat money = faith based currency

    Fiat cars = never owned one. Can’t say one or or the other if it’s faith based automobiles.

    I think it’s time we separate church and state.

    1. Literary Critic

      Our government declares Chrysler is a Fiat – and that both of those things are cars.

      GM, however,is a printing press.

      Ford is shadow automaking.

    2. F. Beard

      Fiat money = faith based currency MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How wrong you are!

      Fiat is forced based currency. That’s why some gold bugs want a gold standard – to back their idiosyncratic shiny metal with the taxation authority and power of government.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What does it mean to have something backed by the full faith and credit of an entity, instead of just the full credit?

        Here is a question for you – do you like to see a faith based world?

          1. Up the Ante

            Another question for ambrit,

            Is this the Internet, or is it MyInternet, MyNakedCapitalism, a ready-made product, an isolater ?

            that should keep the gears spinning


    3. Red

      I think it’s time we started separating church and autoemissions. No more faith based ecology.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Falling home prices drag new buyers underwater.

    Luckily we don’t have falling stock prices dragging new 401k investors underwater.

  11. K Ackermann

    I found that first article on global warming to be rather obvious is a couple of places. In all the rest of the places, I found the article to be amazingly bad, and most likely wrong.

    “Yet most of the earth’s surface is the ocean and actually most of the evaporation that drives our water cycle is happening over the ocean,” Wijffels said, making the oceans a worthy object of climate change study.

    I’m not sure I’ve seen so much stupidity packed in one paragraph before. It’s really quite remarkable.

    Now that he’s found an object worthy of climate study (who would’ve thought the oceans!?!) Maybe someone should chill Wijffels’ thermometers, lest he conclude the oceans are heating up, and call for the melting of Greenland to cool them back down.

    All that space could’ve been used to hammer home the basics for the fact-challenged part of society.

    Look: the black body spectrum of CO2 is well understood. Higher concentrations of CO2, barring other factors, will retain more heat and raise the temp of equallibrium. Water vapor is worse, but water vapor precipitates, and precipitation transfers a lot of energy. CO2 does not have a liquid state, so higher concentrations might be like wrapping the planet in a thicker and thicker blanket.

    However, there may be natural positive failsafes that put a limit on temp increases. For instance, does the atmosphere expand and get thicker as its temp rises? If so, does the increased surface area of the upper atmosphere imply greater radiative capacity? Or will a heated, roiling atmosphere produce a substantial increase in electrical storms? Lightning is essentailly low frequency heat converted to nice high frequency energy that easily radiates into space – all the way up to the x band. These kind of mechanisms are the opposite of runaway and their presense would imply hysteresis.

    We should be looking for beneficial phenomena as well as dangerous.

    1. Aquifer

      This sort of response is typical of those who encourage a “let’s do nothing until we get more data” approach that is used to justify – doing nothing, so encouraged by the fossil fuel industry. And worse, IMO, it smacks of “hmmm, maybe this might be good for us in (fill in the blank) even if it sucks for a whole lot of people and other critters”.

      Guess what – just about the time it will have dawned on you that this climate change phenomenon ain’t so good for you and yours either, it will be a bit late ….

      ‘Taint nice to fool with MN, and we are, indeed, doing that big time …

      1. K Ackermann

        I don’t think as well as means what you think it means. It means in addition to.

        I ask global warming sceptics if they are recommending that we prohibit research into global warming… that we should outlaw investigating the possible adverse effects if what all theory suggests might be a devistating phenomena.

        I’ll ask you the same thing: are you suggesting we prohibit the search for mitigating phenomena? That you would rather not know, than know?

        Ignorance hides from itself, so check your answer carefully.

    2. Anon

      Maybe someone should chill Wijffels’ thermometers, lest he conclude the oceans are heating up, and call for the melting of Greenland to cool them back down.

      Greenland is already melting. And to the extent that recent research using paleoclimatology comparisons suggests that we’ll be looking at average sea levels last seen in the Eemian geological period, if not the Pliocene itself, as a result.

      Either of those outcomes are quite bad news, to put it mildly, unless you are one of those genocidal, neomalthusian idiots who thinks that mass human population reduction, however achieved, is a godsend.

      At its centre, Greenland has ice mountains 3,000 meters high. These are now scheduled to melt in their entirety – even if we were to stop putting any more CO2 and other GHGs in the air, say, next Tuesday – because of the GHGs already emitted in the past two centuries. (There’s about 40 years’ worth of inertia behind the current temperature rises we’re seeing.)

      That is, we are looking at nailed-on sea level rises of 8 meters (Eemian), possibly 25 meters (Pliocene). The only question is how long it’s going to take for the ice to melt. That is, unless you have some carbon sequestration tech up your sleeve that you’d like to present to us? (By the way, the Earth becoming a second Jupiter in respect of massive lightning storms doesn’t present itself as terribly appealing. Feedbacks of whatever stripe are not always fun.)

      Once the Greenland ice is gone, so will be 1) the Netherlands; 2) beautiful, ancient cities like Seville; (they will be gone even with a mere 8-meter sea-level rise); 3) and a lot more besides.

      We can also assume that many freshwater aquifers, on which our cities depend, will be fUx0rd by that point as well, after their inundation by seawater.

      But you already know all of this.

      1. K Ackermann

        I like the hard facts. I’d like to see these kinds of facts in the mainstream media.

        However, things are potentially much, much worse, with the difference being a rise in sea level and massive global suffering compared to runaway processes that render a long-evolving biosphere dead.

        We either have to brace for hardship, or survival. There is a big difference. One has rules, and the other doesn’t. It would be terrible to act too hasty on the latter if it’s not going to happen in the end.

        1. Anon

          Enlighten me:

          1) What steps should we be taking in the face of the likely consequences for bilions of people on this planet of 8 meters of sea-level rise?

          2) Ditto for 25-meter sea-level rise?

          3) Do either of these outcomes qualify as “hardship”, according to your carefully calibrated scale?

          4) Do either of these qualify as “survival”, according to ditto?

          5) At what point, between 8 and 25 meters, do the lightning storms kick in?

          Inquiring minds etc.

          1. K Ackermann

            How long do you think it will take to rise 8 meters? Would it qualify as a flood to you?

            If that’s the worst that global warming will do, then it’s mild compared to some of the alternative scenarios. A complete melting of Greenland ice sheets would raise the sea level by 7m over several centuries. The extremes you are talking about would have to involve the melting of the inland antarctic ice sheets. If that happens, it will either be due a runaway effect, or happen over thousands and thousands of years.

            What steps should we be taking? Learning to swim.

            Every bit as worrying to me is the 1% taking actions to serve the 1% based on worst-case projections. If you think we will all suffer equally, then you’re dreaming. Mobility is only part of the equation. If they were in possession of a report today that calculated the number of megatons of nukes to get enough dust in the air to cool the earth after a certain point is reached, then rest assured they would use it – probably in populated areas and justify it as putting people out of their misery.

            They didn’t become masters of the universe to pass out food boxes to 300 million refugees. Global warming will have nothing on the psychopaths destined to carry on the gene pool.

            I don’t have the answers, but I know they won’t be found by sticking my head in a hole.

          2. ambrit

            Dear KA;
            The verdict on the precise mechanisms sea level rise will exhibit isn’t in yet. There is growing evidence that glacial meltwater during the last meltdown period first pooled either in huge lakes behind ice dams or in subglacial ‘false aquifers’ and then escaped periodically in gigantic outflows that raised sea levels on the order of five to ten meteres in a matter of weeks. This is recorded in seafloor core samles as having happened several times over a few thousand years span. Darwinian gradualism is increasingly giving way to catastrophism on several scientific fronts. So, when it does happen, sea level rise is probably going to be something on the order of Noahs’ Flood. (Evidence for the catastrophist theory about the filling of the Black Sea was the main reason for Ballards’ expeditions to the Black Sea recently. He found the evidence too.)
            On another front, the Dinosauria survived quite well for tens of millions of years in a world averaging twenty degrees Farenheit warmer than it is now. That pesky old asteriod impact seems to have finally done them in, not global warming. (Indeed, the Nuclear Winter bought on by the asteroid impacts fallout is generally credited with having been the final nail in the coffin of the Dinosauria.)
            All this is no apologia for climate warming deniers. The essence of survival as a species is adaptation. That’s one thing we humans are very good at. The future may well be nothing like we imagined, but then, how do you think an Ancient would react to our ‘modern’ world?

      2. Lidia

        Don’t know if it was here or where, but I was recently reminded of the proximity of many nuclear facilities to the coastline. So there’s that as well…

    3. Up the Ante

      “CO2 does not have a liquid state, ”

      Or is it too rapid to isolate ?

      Inability to isolate carbonic acid brings me to that question.

  12. LucyLulu

    Rep. Brad Miller Speaks Out on Why He Wasn’t Hired for Mortgage Fraud Task Force

    “The second reason that Miller finds it odd the task force suddenly wanted a director with prosecutorial experience is that he was initially told by Schneiderman’s office that the task force did not expect to do any criminal prosecutions.

    “People being indicted and looking at the possibility of prison sentences—they were saying they did not expect any of that,” Miller said. “They expect civil litigation or civil enforcement but not criminal prosecution.”

  13. Aquifer

    The article on the trade deal and the one on food security are intertwined – those deals are what is undermining food security. Anything that undermines national sovereignty undermines it’s security in the sense that it undermines the ability of a nation to act in its own interests – one of the primary being its ability to feed its own people. The springs/geysers arising around the world, whether in Africa, Europe or here are recognition by people that the “leaders” who engage in these deals are not acting in their interests.

    Once again the 2 major US parties are in lockstep on this “trade” issue, as on so many others, and have been since at least the days of Clinton. Even if we got around to breaking up big “US” banks, these deals give “foreign” corps leapfrog rights over our own laws …. For example, I suspect they would trump any attempt, should we make it, to keep out products made by prison labor. They must be stopped and reversed …

    Frankly it is becoming increasingly frustrating, considering the fact that more and more folks are becoming aware of and disgusted with the 2 faced single headed/black hearted nature of our body politic, that we do not organize around throwing the bums out and replacing them with decent folk …

    Lots of good blogs, like this one, are throwing all sorts of good ingredients into the compost bin – the question is what crops will we grow from this rich soil?

    1. Jim

      Mexican corn industry has been decimated by NAFTA.


      Productivity. US productivity per acre (for corn) is about 3.5x that of Mexico. Mexico simply can’t compete, so it’s become a net corn importer. Imagine that. The country that gave the world the tortilla now imports the ingredients.

      Who do I blame?

      Mexican politicians, who should have safeguarded that staple, the same way the Japanese politicians have safeguarded their rice.

      But Japanese politicians are patriotic. Mexican bureucrats – not so much. Mexican politicians are also several times more wealthy than their Japanese counterparts.

      1. Up the Ante

        “.. the same way the Japanese politicians have safeguarded their rice.”

        And Fukushima came along and changed, how?, the Japanese politicians’ game ?

  14. Lambert Strether

    The elite is teeing up a “grand bargain” for the lame duck session. Pelosi is signaling she wants to be part of that.

    The lame duck session will have all the interest that the Robama vs. Obomney campaign lacks, as the legacy parties compete over which vital organs of the body politic to offer up to the austerian Randroids in the 1% for money.

    The R’s will no doubt offer up a heart, while the Ds will offer up a kidney or a lung. “What are you complaining about? You’ve still got one. This is the best deal we could get. What’s wrong with you?” Then, of course, in a year, they’ll come back for the one organ you used to have two of.

  15. Hugh

    Back in October 2007, Pelosi dismissed liberal critics of her failure to fight to end the Iraq war with a haughty “They are advocates. We are leaders.” That is the hoi polloi should not go around telling their betters [Pelosi] what they should be doing. They should shut up and allow elites like Pelosi to lead them from the top down. Pelosi is, was, and will forever be an Establishment hack. She is as much a liberal as the conservative ideologue John McCain is a maverick. Public figures get labels attached to them. Pelosi is liberal, not because she has a drop of liberalism in her, but because she got that label. Look at it this way and it is completely unsurprising that she would sign off on cutting Social Security and Medicare. That’s what Establishment hacks do. They enable looting.

    Re home buying, housing prices are still twice what they were in 1997, the year prices began diverging from their historical trendline. Add in all the uncertainties surrounding MERS, forged foreclosure documents, and predatory banks and servicers, and you would have to be crazy to buy a home anytime in the next 10 years.

    In response to growing anger, European leaders are coming out for more growth. Of course, the growth they are promoting would come about through their current austerity policies so nothing really has changed. Again no surprise there.

    1. b.

      According to Stoller, liberalism is to blame for Pelosi. Not because she has a liberal bone in her body, but because she plays a liberal on TV. She’s a legit representative, though – she is representing that majority of CA voters that play liberals at home and on the roads, in the great “liberal” roadshow that is democratic America, while cheering on the “Warrior-In-Chief”. Takes a fraud to represent the frauds, for truthiness.

  16. Don Levit

    In the article “Saving Social Security, Simplified,” Rdan provides a scenario of increasing payroll taxes to extend the life of the Social Security trust fund until 2083 proposed by the CBO.
    While the data may be true under certain assumptions, the fact is that the trust fund is running a cash deficit now, beacuse cash outgo exceeds cash income.
    According to the latest report by the Medicare trustees, this cash deficit was expected to continue into the future. And, these deficits occur even when the trust fund is growing.
    So, don’t think there are no negative financial repercussions to these numbers detailed by Rdan from the CBO.
    Don Levit

  17. Anon

    The money-devoring powers of the “insane death cult” (h/t levy-boycotting customer below) that is nuke to be tested in the US courts:

    A second lawsuit challenges some of the money that Georgia Power has been collecting from ratepayers for the construction of the new reactors.

    In 2009, the Georgia Legislature and the Georgia Public Service Commission approved a controversial programme called the Construction Work in Progress (CWIP), which requires ratepayers to pay in advance for the construction of the project, even though it may not ultimately materialise.

    For the last three years, customers have paid an extra few dollars each month on their electricity bills to fund the project, even though it had not yet been approved. According to Barczak, even if the new reactors are never built, customers will not receive a refund… [snip]

    …Some ratepayers have refused to pay the fee, at risk of having their power cut off.

    “I stopped paying because I don’t want to support an industry that has the potential of destroying Mother Earth and killing my descendants. Especially when Georgia has so much solar energy that we can fry eggs on rocks, and we have so much wind power offshore, that we should be utilising that,” said Gloria Tatum, who stopped paying about six months ago.

    “Initially, I called, and they said they would cut off my utilities,” Tatum said. “It’s like three or four dollars a month. It’s not a great deal at this point.” It appears the unpaid nuclear fees have yet to add up to enough for Georgia Power to cut off the electricity.

    “They are just insane. It’s like a death cult. They are sacrificing human life at the altar of profits for a few people.”

    1. Up the Ante

      “They are just insane. It’s like a death cult. They are sacrificing human life at the altar of profits for a few people.”

      Like ‘friendly fire incidents’ ?

      there ‘ya go

  18. Hugh

    The Credit Writedowns article on the GDP makes the really good point that the BEA is calculating growth using an overly optimistic inflation number (1.54%) that is at odds with anyone who bought gas or groceries in the 1st Quarter. If the CPI number was used instead (looking at the CPI for the first three months, it looks like it annualizes to 3.6%), growth would not have been an anemic 2.2% but at a near standstill at 0.08%. This lower number is more consistent with the contraction in government spending, a decrease in disposable income, slowed real final sales of domestic products, and increased imports.

  19. Lidia

    Nocera can keep writing until he drops, but how long is anyone going to keep paying him? This column was mediocre at best; there’s much better writing out there, so Joe had better sharpen his pencils.

  20. Lidia

    Food prices are getting scary. I fill up two large grocery bags’ worth at the farmer’s market each week, and last year could count on dropping about €14-16 each week on a variety of items not chosen out of particular frugality. Now it’s usually over €20, this week €23. Not a big number in the scheme of things for me at the moment, but still a 50% increase in the course of a year.

  21. ginnie nyc

    Thanks for the Midas Touch article – it’s a good synopsis of the mechanism, and how Eastern Europe has been gutted, with great comments.

    It’s what’s happening in London? How about New York over the last 20 years? Even in my neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen for god’s sake, we’ve lost two laundromats and a bodega (you know, real services) to ‘Tequila Bars’!. On Tenth Avenue!

    I really have to re-locate.

  22. Goin' South

    Re: Charley Pierce’s critique of the correspondents’ dinner, it brings to mind an old, well-known Dylan lyric:

    You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
    Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
    Ain’t it hard when you discover that
    He really wasn’t where it’s at
    After he took from you everything he could steal.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    We can only hope some sort of fall comes for those who attended, for they have been given such heavy responsibility and failed it for such selfish, shallow reasons. Adversity is their last hope.

    Charley is a perceptive fellow. If you want to see how someone understood Obama’s failure before it was fully revealed, see his June, ’08 article:

    “In 2007, when asked about the possibility — just the possibility — of impeaching George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney, Obama scoffed at the idea, not entirely because it was constitutionally unsound but also because it was impolite and a nuisance and might make many people angry at one another, and he was, after all, running to help save us from ourselves.

    “We would, once again, rather than attending to the people’s business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, nonstop circus.”

    He was offering a guilty country a nolo plea. Himself. Absolution without confession.

    The cynic declined the deal. There were not enough people in handcuffs yet.”

    Read more:

    1. J Sterling

      Hauling in bank robbers is the people’s business. A town sheriff who thinks otherwise should never even have stood for election.

    2. Up the Ante

      And then they hobbled his horse from the get-go, and still could not change his mind.


  23. Up the Ante

    “Under [TPP] foreign investors can skirt domestic courts and laws, and sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their “expected future profits.” ”

    Looting+ = empire, as per the comments

    “Over 600 corporate advisors have access to the text of the TPP, while members of Congress, journalists and the voting public are excluded. ” [Hello ?]

    credit to firedoglake for yet another return to consciousness article

  24. Up the Ante

    “While singing the praises of CFTC chairman Gary Gensler — “an excellent steward of the public’s interest” — ..”


  25. Up the Ante

    Do I even need to name that book “IBM and the Holocaust” ??

    “The Corrections Corporation of America and GEO, two prison privatizers, along with a third smaller operator, G4S (formerly Wackenhut), sell inmate labor at subminimum wages to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and _IBM_ . ”


    “The arrest cycle was synchronized with the business cycle, timed to the rise and fall of the demand ..”
    “contract slavery”

    Arbeit Machts Frei, is it ?

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