Dear readers, our Matt Stoller is a writing for and performing in (as a straight man, natch) a new comedy show on FX starring Russell Brand. It’s called Brand X and starts June 28th at 11 PM Eastern. Although I’m not privy to details, I believe it will push the bounds of discourse beyond the acceptable (as in barely left) margin defined by Paul Krugman and Jon Stewart. Be sure to catch it!
Condors threatened by ‘epidemic’ lead poisoning from hunters’ bullets Christian Science Monitor
Google team: Self-teaching computers recognize cats PhysOrg (Robert M)
Roman coin hoard found BBC (John M)
Healing Spirits Lapham’s Quarterly (Aquifer)
Drug War is Fueling the Global HIV Pandemic Alternet (furzy mouse)
Facebook changed your e-mail address, here’s how you can change it back CNET (furzy mouse). Haha, no Facebook here!
Chart: What Killed Us, Then and Now Atlantic (Carol B)
Death by suburban sprawl: better urban planning will combat sedentary lifestyles The Conversation (May S)
‘Supreme leader’ is fascist Tehelka (May S). And in case you think the headline is over the top: Hindu Nationalist’s Historical Links to Nazism and Fascism International Business Times
China’s, ahem, “stabilising trade” MacroBusiness
Tax scandal reaches No.10 as it’s revealed Cameron’s spin doctor helped run ‘avoidance’ scheme for BBC presenter wife Daily Mail (May S). Fact set is so bad DM can get away with a straightforward and relatively short headline.
Monti lashes out at Germany ahead of summit Financial Times
Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro Greg Palast, Guardian (Aquifer)
Look beyond summits for euro salvation Martin Wolf, Financial Times
Spanish Officials Hailed Banks as Crisis Built New York Times
US home prices rise for third month Financial Times versus Home Prices In U.S. Cities Fall At Slowest Pace Since ’10 Bloomberg
The Mixed Economy Manifesto: Part 1 New Economic Perspectives. Not a bad program, but the tone is defensive, which is understandable given how neoclassical economics dominates academia and the MSM. IMHO, the opponents need a more direct line of attack. Maybe the simplest is that neoclassical economics assumes no actor has any power (they acknowledge but then largely ignore monopolists and oligopolists). Since both buyers and sellers have varying degrees of power, this means neoclassical economics is flat out irrelevant.
Breaking Up Big Banks Hard To Do As Market Forces Fail Bloomberg. This is not hard to understand. Bank CEO pay is highly correlated with size of balance sheet.
Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way Guardian (Aquifer)
Pro-business and pro-markets are different MacroBusiness
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D – 74 and counting*
“You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: ‘We gotta play it one day at a time.'” –“Crash” Davis, Bull Durham
Occupy. Long form post partum on Occupy Toronto: “‘Okay,’ says Marechal. He turns back to speak with Inspector Neadles. ‘This protester’s demand is that he be arrested,’ Marechal says. ‘And, seeing as you brought so many of your fine officers with you today, I was wondering if you could help facilitate this process.'” Post partum on OWS: “When OWS began erecting tents to provide shelter from the elements, public space began vanishing from Zuccotti. Paths through the park narrowed and vanished. Flower-beds were camped on and destroyed. By early November, the public meeting space at the eastern edge of the park, where the General Assembly was held, had all but vanished. Vicious turf-wars occurred over sleeping space. Various ideas of private property were invoked and denied. In the privacy of individual tents, crime flourished.” But aren’t hard problems the ones worth solving?
Montreal. Printemps Érable post partum: “The first word means “spring”; the second means “maple.” … [T]he École de la Montagne Rouge artist collective … pronounced it for me — twice: one way of stressing the “é” means “maple”; the other means “Arab.” [Not quite. Arabe: pun, not homonym.] [The phrase] acknowledges instead our sense of deliciously sweet interconnectedness, mutual inspiration, and the shared project — notwithstanding all the very real contextual differences that make each uprising translatable and yet not translatable — of not only desiring but self-organizing toward new forms and contents of freedom. It’s like hanging around the sugar shack, after the sap has run and been collected in buckets, after it’s been boiled down into a thick maple syrup, when people gather together to hold maple festivals and share treats like “sugar on snow” or maple candy. They get this collective high — the fruits of their labor suddenly tasting extra poignant.”
CO. David Sirota: “Mark my words: the moment Fox News or MSNBC or NBC/ABC finally says the fires are ‘news’ we will see Obama and Romney in Colorado.” (DCB)
GA. Mass incarceration: “Since June 10 … an undetermined number of prisoners at Georgia’s massive Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson have been on a hunger strike. … [P]rison officials simply told [Miguel] Jackson ‘You’re going to die,’ and left it at that.” NOTE: Readers will remember that is the second example of non-violent tactic #159 in the news lately.
IA. Voting: “[Gov] Branstad’s new process [for felons to regain their voting rights] requires applicants to submit a credit report.” Nice precedent!
LA. Corruption: “Covington businessman Frank Fradella has been charged [with one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiring to bribe a public official ] in a new bill of information that appears to implicate former Mayor Ray Nagin.” Tasers: “A Metairie mother has sued the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, claiming deputies tortured her with a Taser and a stun gun during an incident near Gretna last year.”
MI. Occupy Detroit: “So far we have been successful in keeping people in their homes (and in one case, in his business) by forcing banks to renegotiate the mortgages.”
MT. Voting, money: “[T]he R Party of Sanders County, MT, filed a federal lawsuit, to overturn the Montana law that makes it a criminal offense for a political party to endorse a candidate for state court judge.”
NC. DNCon: “Organizers announced Monday night they are moving the much-touted Labor Day festival from Charlotte Motor Speedway to uptown Charlotte.” DNCon: “McCaskill joins a growing list of D senators and representatives who face tough re-elections who have said they will not attend the convention in Charlotte.” “Senators Jon Tester of MT and Joe Manchin of WV are the other senators who find themselves too busy to make the trip.”
NY. Corruption: “The former head of a Bronx gay and lesbian center was busted for allegedly scamming $338,000 from the non-profit outfit to pay for vacations and a dog walker.” (AH) Corruption: “A Troy-based company that serves youths throughout the Capital Region has been flagged … for [$831,244 in “disallowed” charges between 2008 and 2010], including what auditors say amounted to a no-show job for one of its directors.” A snob grows in Brooklyn Heights: “I have worked very hard to be able to afford to live on Montague Terrace and i do not need a hot dog vendor out side my window so he can make a few bucks.”
OH. Fracking, tinpot tyrants: “A ‘fracking’ protester [and local landowner] who had secured herself to two concrete barrels at an oil and gas waste-water injection well in Alexander Township was separated from the barrels and hauled away by a sheriff’s cruiser. [She] explained that she had volunteered to be the person who committed civil disobedience to help draw attention to the issue of waste-water injection wells in Athens County. [L]aw enforcement soon blocked the [accompanying protesters’ view] with vehicles, and then ordered the protesters to move about 150 yards down the road to a nearby intersection. They also ordered the news media away…. [More help was] called in, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the federal Department of Homeland Security and an unidentified fire department, apparently to help with the chains.” What law were these guys enforcing, actually? And wasn’t a multijurisdictional police response excessive — and expensive? And since when does the DHS need to get involved? Corruption: “[A] branch of the OH Chamber of Commerce received a huge grant from Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst just as they started ramping up lobbying efforts to promote anti-teacher legislation in Ohio. StudentsFirst is reportedly on track to raise hundreds of millions of dollar over the next year from anti-public school advocates and billionaire hedge fund managers. And they plan to put that money into state-based efforts like the one in Ohio.” Awwww! “Dad saves kittens before fire destroys mobile home.”
TN. Privatization #FAIL: “DCS can save several million dollars if it does its own training. That does require adding roughly 30 permanent positions. She expects many will be filled by longtime social-workers looking to advance their careers with the state. Other state departments are also moving functions in-house to save money. TDOT Commissioner John Schroer says some of the design work for roads and bridges is returning to state employees, who can sometimes do it for half the cost.” We have a word for privatization. But we don’t have a word for… publification? Publifying? What does that say? Your tax dollars at play: “$266,000 given by the state to Volkswagen to put a sign atop its Chattanooga plant that is visible only from the air… [O]nly about 500 people per day fly in or out of the airport.” But the only people who matter fly executive jets, so that’s OK.
VA. #UVA Hoo d’Etat: Board of Visitors reinstates President Sullivan, unanimously. BoV meeting, Fralin leads off: “It is my opinion that everyone agrees that the process was flawed. It can never be repeated when important decisions are being made by this Board.” In a moment of high academic comedy proposes a committee: “I encourage the members to consider establishing a strategic planning committee consisting of Board ofVisitor members, staff members, and faculty members with advice from outstanding consultants with higher education backgrounds to develop a strategic vision and direction for this great University.” Next, Rector Dragas: ” … mindful of the constraints of the confidentiality of personnel matters and the non-disparagement agreements in the President’s contract (!) …. I want to say once again to the University, and directly to my fellow Visitors: I sincerely apologize for the way this was presented, and you deserved better.” Finally Sullivan to crowd outside the Rotunda: “I have been especially proud these past three weeks to hear the careful crafting of reasoned arguments from alumni and students. These arguments have shown that the University is still providing to the world the educated citizenry that Mr. Jefferson wanted to safeguard the new Republic.” Genuinely classy.
World, watching: “The #UVa stream of BOV meeting topped out at 13,300 viewers; #uvafinals2012 [final exercises] topped out at 600.” Twitter: “#UVA experience makes me especially grateful for quality local media. Thx @HenryGraff @readthehook @cavalierdaily @cvillenews!” I agree, adding twitter itself: Here’s a nifty visualization of #UVA. Reaction, Siva Vaidhyanathan: “It’s clear that we all have to do twice as much work over the next few years to get beyond this moment, but everybody in the UVa community is totally signed up [for what? Bad, cynical lambert!] and committed and we’re ready to work twice as hard.” Blogger: “Right now, Ms. Teresa , and one of the most powerful in the country.Sullivan is likely the most powerful University President in Virginia’s history She is supported by an unprecedented, in my memory, campus and alumni coalition, at a very critical time in higher education.” Twitter: “#UVA’s reinstatement of Sullivan is something that’s literally never happened before at a major research university.”
Lambert here. What have we got that’s good? Secrecy remains. Only insiders know the whole story. Larry Sabato: “Friends, enough second-guessing the #UVA matter. I’m not answering questions about what really happened, who did what to whom, etc.” (“I know it was you, Fredo.”) The timeline: “1. Dragas decides President Sullivan is not doing something enough. (What, exactly that is, is still unclear.) 2. Dragas then does not tell Sullivan that she is not doing something enough. Repeatedly….” WaPo reporter to Fralin: “So what exactly just happened? How did all of the board members come to an unanimous vote without a lengthy public discussion?” Fralin stonewalls. the excellent Cavalier Daily: “The process that led to Sullivan’s reinstatement was just as shrouded in secrecy as the process that led to her resignation. The Board voted 12-1 to appoint an interim president on June 19, and all 12 of those members supported Sullivan today. Apart from the resignation of Vice Rector Mark Kington and the publication of emails between Dragas and Kington discussing changes in the field of higher education, the public has little insight into what [or who] forced the Board to rescind its earlier decision.” Governance issues remain. Compares this chart of governance structures at UVA and UBC, where UBC is in the top 50 and UVA is in the top 200 world rankings. “It is simply foolhardy to assume governance systems can and should exclude those being governed.” (You mean like our electoral system?) (See also this good tabulation of various university governance structures.) Privatization and MOOC issues remain unclear — and they apparently sparked the firing! “In the aftermath of #UVA, it might be worth detailing why digital humanities scholars [e.g., Siva Vaidhyanathan!] are some of the most vociferous opponents of MOOCs.” Corrupt and Orwellian language remains. “Insta-Strategic Mercurialism!” And debt remains, just as in Montreal. “As resources dwindle [translation: As public space is starved and looted], universities are left with little choice but to put more of the financial burden on students who are already taking on record levels of debt.” Feature, not bug (cf).
All that said, I think the outcome is big net positive, in that the university community asserted its agency, individually and collectively. The events at #UVA were, all in all, an uprising, although a very genteel one. “At a university that takes special pride in its rigorous codes of honor, the process by which Ms. Sullivan was pressured to resign sparked some of the greatest outrage.” As it should have. The source of that outrage leads me to what I think is the moral of the story: “It was the pace of change that apparently motivated the Board to try to oust Sullivan. In this act, they were guided by many management consultants. But not, apparently, by Peter Drucker, who famously observed, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’” The left, which does a lot of work on strategy, would do well to consider this.
WI. Zombie iron mine rises: “The Wisconsin Mining Association has hired Behre Dolbear Group Inc. to analyze Wisconsin’s mining laws. The collapse of mining legislation prompted Gogebic Taconite … to abandon plans to construct a massive open pit [iron] mine spanning Ashland and Iron counties. The chairman of the mining association … was appointed by Walker in February as a special assistant for business and workforce development.” Referenda: “A D lawmaker plans to introduce a bill [modeled on an Ohio law] next session that would allow the public to force a referendum to repeal individual laws.” Lesson learned from SB5! Privatization #FAIL: “Lassa cites a 2009 Legislative Audit Bureau report which found that nearly 60 percent of the work done by outside consultants on highway projects could have done less expensively using state employees. Walker’s proposed 2011-13 budget called for axing this annual report.”
Outside Baseball. Prediction is hard: “In some ways, in fact, poor forecasts seem to be a part of the human condition.”
Media critique. The discourse: “It was these explicative and clarifying statements on the economy [‘doing fine’] that bloated the Obama campaign’s neutral messaging. Over 50% of statements from the Obama campaign from June 7 – 19 were about the economy, and 37% of these were neutral.” Keen chart, showing you can’t clean up your gaffe and go on the attack at the same time. Cable weasels: “After several months of bad ratings news for CNN, official quarterly numbers confirm that the cable news network has hit 21-year lows in both viewers and adults 25-to-54.” Digital sharecropping at Patch.
Policy. Climate: “A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the first-ever regulations aimed at reducing the gases blamed for global warming.” Mass incarceration: “As I’ve pointed out multiple times, the United States is the world’s largest police state, with more people in prison both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of population than Stalin at his worst. So what is the end game of police states?”
HCR. Will the Court punt? “The most deflating option, for all of those anxiously awaiting a definitive decision, would be for the Court to issue a simple order setting the case for re-argument at the next Term, starting October 1.” October surprise?! What happens next? “More than three-fourths of Americans want their political leaders to undertake a new effort, rather than leave the health care system alone if the court rules against the law, according to the poll. … A new health care bill doesn’t seem to be in either party’s plans.”
Grand Bargain™-brand cat food watch. Shock, or not? “Republican and Democratic congressional leaders are weighing whether to delay automatic federal spending cuts until March 2013.” So, “automatic” except manual? Atrios: “Amazingly Congress discovers that they can change laws. They voted for these cuts, and now they’re changing their minds! Next thing you’ll be telling me is that if they pass tax increases and budget cuts, they could go back and rescind the tax cuts! I just won’t believe it.” Economalism: “The OECD economic survey does contain some qualified backing for the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – for its help in containing government healthcare spending. It suggests upping the Medicare entitlement age upwards.” Old people are expensive so let’s kill them! (“Upping…. upwards?”)
Elizabeth Warren. 2016 warm-up: “[WARREN:] No, Mitt, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick … they live and they die. Learn the difference. And Mitt, learn this: we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.” So, Professor Warren, which banksters are going to jail for the lives they destroyed?
Ron Paul. Blogger: “An outright ban on [Ron Paul supporters] is the only way to prevent the [RNCon] from turning into a debacle. There is no legitimate reason at this point for them to be there.” Not even official delegates?
Robama vs. Obomney watch. Lynn Sweet: “As Romney continually points out … Obama had never delivered on his 2008 presidential campaign promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform [true!]. [But Romney] has been evasive in answers about whether he would repeal the Obama youth deporatation order. And Romney played to anti-immigrant crowds in the GOP primary.” True!
The trail. Razor thin: “Obama continues to have a tenuous lead in OH based largely on his support with three core constituencies: African Americans (93-6), young voters (54-36), and women (52-41).” Battleground states: “US house prices rose more than expected in April…. [T]he improvement was concentrated in several battleground states.” Voting: “Thousands of attorneys and support staffers have agreed to [provide] legal support that appears to be unrivaled by Republicans or precedent. Obama’s campaign says it is particularly concerned about the implementation of new voter ID laws across the country, the possibility of anti-fraud activists challenging legitimate voters and the handling of voter registrations in the most competitive states. Republicans are building their own legal teams for the election. They say they’re focused on … making sure people don’t vote unless they’re eligible.” And where were the Ds when the Rs teed this up?
Romney. Snark watch, Guardian (!): “Lukewarm endorsements for Mitt Romney continue to limp in like broken biscuits [cookies] clustering at the bottom of a bag.” Ouch! “If there is a constant criticism about Mitt Romney and his campaign from both the left and right, it’s that they’re not nimble — especially when it comes to dealing with issues they’d prefer to ignore.”
Obama. Snark watch: “[BIDEN:] You got to give Romney credit. He’s a job creator – in Singapore, China, India. He’s been very good at creating jobs, overseas.” Ouch! This pudding has no theme: “The speech was of a piece with a lot of those he’s given in recent weeks. It was overlong to no good purpose. ” And: “The fire in his rhetoric remains banked carefully into his ongoing appeals to the better angels of our nature, who, it seems to me, have been largely AWOL since the day he was inaugurated.” Pierce deploys the ol’ “voters aren’t good enough to deserve Obama” trope. Sigh. Obama joke falls flat? “Boston, I just want to say — thank you for Youkilis.” At which the donors either boo or chant “Yook!” Obama continues: “I’m just saying. He’s going to have to change the color of his ‘sox…. A member of the audience then called out, ‘We still love you.'” Given that controlled access is the order of the day at donor events, this story has to be planted, but I can’t see the payoff. Seems like an odd little unforced error. (AH).
* 74 days ’til the Democratic National Convention ends with fruit jello with those little marshmallow things on the floor of the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC. A 74 was a third-rate warship in the British Navy.
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Antidote du jour (YY):