Links 6/8/12

Posted on by

Dear patient readers,

I’m surprisingly jet lagged and still behind the eight ball, but have the good fortune to have some particularly strong guest posts today, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I get back on track.

Karl Lagerfeld’s Cat Has Personal Maids, an iPad, and a More Glamorous Existence Than You Vanity Fair (Ed M). Well, she will still be (or has been) neutered, but Chinese men used to castrate themselves to be considered for the job of court eunuch, and these self administered medical procedures didn’t always work out so well…so this cat is doing well even allowing for the indignities of being a housepet.

Foie-mageddon: California in one last foie gras binge before statewide ban Telegraph (Lambert)

Earth Facing Imminent Environmental ‘Tipping Point’: Report Common Dreams

European monsoon brings 70mph winds, torrential rain and 40ft waves Telegraph (Richard Smith)

Report: Hackers could access US weapons systems through vulnerable chip Christian Science Monitor

The 10 Most Sexually Healthy Colleges Huffington Post (Carol B)

Phishers 1, DeLong 0…. Be warned, they are getting better.

China cuts rates MacroBusiness

China faces stimulus dilemma Financial Times

No One Is Talking About The Chinese Move That Is Even More Important Than The Rate Cut Clusterstock

The Accidental Empire George Soros, Project Syndicate

The Eurozone as a Modern Day ‘Merchant of Venice’ Marshall Auerback, New Economic Perspectives

Getting Them Dead Francine Prose, New York Review of Books (barrisj)

Obama Increases Pakistan Drone Strikes As Relations Sour Bloomberg

Suicides are surging among US troops Associated Press (Lambert)

Romney beats Obama on fundraising Financial Times

Telegraphic thoughts on Netroots Nation Lambert. Per #4: now he knows how I feel all the time.

Reagan Was a Keynesian Paul Krugman, New York Times

How Could Law Enforcement Files on Bradley Manning Not Be Relevant to the Case? Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy to be reviewed by US department of justice Guardian

Fake Shell Video Followed by Fake Shell Lawsuit Over Video Gawker

MBS and Foreclosures Expose Our Degraded Legal Profession Abigail Field

Household Net Worth In U.S. Increases By Most Since 2004 Bloomberg

Consumer Debt Growth Slows WSJ Real Time Economics. And downward historical revisions yet again.

Accounting Backfired at MF Global Floyd Norris, New York Times (Hecht)

Ex-Bear Stearns executives to pay $275m Financial Times

JOBS Act Fallout: More Fraud, Fewer IPOs Matt Taibbi (Chuck L)

* * *

Lambert here:

D – 92 and counting*

“Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” — Vince Lombardi

Reader note: Because I’m on the road tonight, these links are light.

Montreal. “What seems like a movement sprung up overnight was actually a long time in the works. The tuition increase have been on the table since 2010, and student unions across Quebec spent two years working to build the movement.” Grand Prix photos (some NSFW). Nadeau-Dubois (CLASSE) in Le Monde. Ooh!

FL. “In a sharply-worded letter, the Scott administration all but dares the Justice Department to sue FL for allegedly violating voting rights laws. Florida also accused another federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security, of violating the law by denying Florida access to a federal citizenship database.”

MT. “New out-of-state publisher fires beloved independent columnist. George Ochenski’s last column: “The peril for [AG] Bullock is what 30,000 former patients and nearly 27,000 signers on the [medical marijuana] initiative will do this fall. If they think he’s fought against their interests” he could lose the governor’s race.” Detail here, here, and here.

NC. “International Christian relief and evangelism charity organization Samaritan’s Purse run by Franklin Graham contributed $150,200 towards newspaper and TV advertising in support of the NC Marriage Amendment, according to an Independent Expenditure report filed with the NC State Board of Elections.” Maybe Graham can give the invocation at Obama’s second inaugural.

NV. “As Nevada Hispanics spends its $1 million of who-knows-whose money in this swing state—and as other dark money groups with other agendas arrive here—there will be opportunities for the Nevada press to do better.”

OR. “Shorter [Columbia River Crossing bridge]: we’ve dumped 7 years and $140 million on this mess and it’s going to have to be scrapped because the boats that sail under it will crash into it. And oh by the way, planners have known this since 2004.”

PA. “You’re just confused about Susquehanna pollution. That’s what Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) secretary Krancer essentially told 22 retired DEP water quality experts who wrote to him asking for 90 miles of the Susquehanna River to be officially designated as polluted.” Occupy Riverside: “But when Monday comes–or whatever day it is that either Aqua America turns the park back over to the residents or offers them something that doesn’t require folks to liquify their retirement accounts in order to move–the meaning of the barricades changes. On that day, we decide to defend the Susquehanna.”

WI. “Winona City Council allows barge transport of silica [‘frac’] sand.” (See also.) Athenae: “Yelling at people who agreed with me about how they sucked and I knew it isn’t where my interests lie. [Education by contrast is about] the future, not about what should have been done in the past by people who were doing the only thing they thought they had in front of them, a path that only looks ill-advised now because it led here.” True. Daily Page: “Here we had 100,000 people storming the square but there was no effort to include them in any meaningful — or even symbolic — decision-making process.” True. “Gov. Walker said after Tuesday’s balloting that he hoped an iron mining bill could move forward in the spirit if bi-partisanship. Given the new D majority in the State Senate, and R Senator Dale Schultz’s previous opposition, anything resembling the measure that earned its rightful deposit in the bad-bill shredder will go nowhere this year.” Nooners: “The vote was a blow to the power and prestige not only of the unions but of the blue-state budgetary model, which for two generations has been: Public-employee unions with their manpower, money and clout, get what they want. If you move against them, you will be crushed.” So what are the red states going to do, when their blue state subsidies go away? (Map; map).

Inside Baseball. Halperin gives Drudge a reach-around. And not for the first time, I might add. CA’s new top two system: “Out of the 214 endorsements, there are only three instances at which the endorsed candidate failed to receive the highest vote among that party’s candidates.” “[T]he website Environmental Health News (EHN) launched a special series, “Pollution, Poverty, People of Color,” about environmental justice—the notion that no one should have to put up with a disproportionate amount of risk because of their socioeconomic status.” Bipartisanship: “From designating funds for specific races to sharing opposition research, Rs and Ds are perfecting the art of communicating without coordinating. Sometimes operatives communicate privately, using in-house counsels as the conduit, while other information is shared through less-traveled regions of the Web. … [U]nlawful coordination can lead to jail time. But attorneys advising both parties have come to many of the same unspoken conclusions where the law isn’t specific.” Obamacare: “In what may be the most riveting livestream of the century, people who oppose Obamacare can not only sign an online petition to repeal the health care law, but also watch a live web camera shot of their petition printing.” Actually, that’s neat. “Nearly seven in 10 Americans hope the Supreme Court will decide against all or part of President Obama’s healthcare reform law, according to a new poll.” “The House Ds pushing for a steep hike in the minimum wage could face an unlikely [sic] foe: their own leadership.” So how am I going to pay for ObamaCare’s mandated junk insurance? Fast and Furious, Holder: “I’ve looked at these affidavits, I’ve looked at these summaries, there’s nothing in those affidavits — as I’ve reviewed them — that indicates that ‘gun-walking’ was allowed.” “As I’ve reviewed them.”

Ron Paul. “TX congressman Ron Paul has claimed that he will have the support of some 500 delegates at the R national convention in Tampa this summer, and has vowed to make their presence felt.”

Green Party. “Keiko Bonk, the Green Party’s first partisan winner in the U.S., is Green Party nominee for Hawaii legislative seat.”

Grand Bargain™-brand Catfood Watch. Bernanke: “The so-called fiscal cliff would, if allowed to occur, pose a significant threat to the recovery.” I hope whoever invented the phrase ‘the fiscal cliff’ got a percentage of the gross from looting Social Security. After all, a shill’s gotta eat. D Dick Durbin: “There’s a genuine concern that a downturn in Europe or another place will force our hand [Shock Doctrine]… If we can present something immediately after the election that is a good solid starting point, I think it’s going to restore confidence in the business community.” Trying to restore “confidence” to the business community with cuts is like trying to kill locusts by feeding them more grain.

Romney. “This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportion. Our government has a moral commitment to help every American help him[- or her]self. And that commitment has been broken.” True, for some definition of “help.” “When Mitt Romney was a college freshman, he told fellow residents of his Stanford University dormitory that he sometimes disguised himself as a police officer – a crime in many states, including Michigan and California, where he then lived. And he had the uniform on display as proof.” So Romney’s into cosplay. Interesting! “Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said this afternoon that he is ‘honored’ to be endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul.

Obama. Nate Silver: “One of the confusing aspects of this presidential race so far is that national polls have often shown a race that is nearly tied — or Mr. Romney sometimes leading — while Mr. Obama has more often had the lead in polls of crucial battleground states.” Visionary minimalism. “Campaign aides have told Yahoo News in the past that the dollar amount requested in fundraising emails is based on prior giving. Giving nothing, apparently, yields a request for three bucks.” I’d wondered.

* 92 days ’til the Democratic National Convention feasts on rice and beans on the floor of the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC. Code 92 is the source for -030- which would be meta, had I stopped immediately before beginning to explain that it would have been meta, but now it is no longer meta. Reflexivity!

* * *
Antidote du jour:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. rjs

    re these:
    Household Net Worth In U.S. Increases By Most Since 2004 Bloomberg
    Consumer Debt Growth Slows WSJ Real Time Economics. And downward historical revisions yet again.

    downward revisions on debt result in upward revisions to net worth…

  2. A Little Night Musing

    :”Obama increases drone strokes as relations sour” – if at first you don’t succeed…

  3. Goin' South

    Looking forward to Lambert’s dispatches from the in-the-flesh manifestation of Kos’s little empire. I just hope that Big Orange’s curious combination of shills and true believers don’t treat the independent-minded the same way they do in the virtual world. Getting bojoed in the meat world could be painful.

  4. D. Mathews

    Just to add a tidbit from my hometown: Our local Republican Governor is the poster child for the Stateside (ie. USA) Republican Party. Go figure! “In our opinion, the current administration has taken decisive measures to restore fiscal balance,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Horacio Aldrete-Sanchez. “However, a steady economic recovery has failed to take hold, which we believe limits the government’s ability to implement additional expenditure cuts and revenue enhancement measures in the near term.”

    1. reslez

      Change one word in the quote and it perfectly explains our economic situation:

      [T]he current administration has taken decisive measures to restore fiscal balance. However, Therefore, a steady economic recovery has failed to take hold….

      1. reslez

        Adding: If the private sector is focused on paying down debt, and the country runs a trade deficit, the government is the only remaining sector that can replace the money that isn’t being spent by the private sector. If the government instead focuses on paying down its own “debt”, the economy will contract.

  5. Eureka Springs

    The addition of “Grand Bargain™-brand Catfood Watch” information is a good idea.

    If I were presented with a choice between having all my teeth pulled or attending the Y not call yourself kos convention… i would have to think about it.

  6. Tertium Squid

    Sexually healthy colleges

    …no BYU, huh? I guess the patient can’t be “healthy” if there’s no pulse in the first place.

    Though BYU has tons and tons of married students. Interesting to reflect on the criteria they used for evaluations.

    1. Neo-Realist

      In the case of BYU, I’m guessing married students only do it to grow the “tribe” not for fun.

      1. Jessica

        I doubt it.
        When I lived in Utah, I got the impression that Mormons actually encourage couples to enjoy sex – just that they have to be married first.

  7. MichaelC

    RE: Accounting Backfired at MFGlobal, Norris explains away how the Not repo to Maturity transaction came to be permitted as a sale which enabled MFG to disappear their huge Euro debt positions and book profits up front under the rules.

    His explanation looks a little too much ‘nothing to see here folks’, a little to little ‘ Gee, this sounds a lot like Enron’. The myth that MFG did nothing wrong, they just outsmarted the accounting rule makers gets another airing here. The chastened rulemakers and regulators are now scrambling to rewrite the rule.

    (see yesterdays piece

    Per Norris the: “The accounting board provided guidance indicating that if the repo ended very close to maturity, that amounted to the same thing.”

    The terms ‘provided guidance’ and ‘indicating’ signals ambiguity in the rules. Norris leaves the impression with NYT readers that MFGs interpretation of the rule was a settled issue. when in fact the regulators and MFGs auditors could have challenged them on this unsettled point.

    Second, he ignores the fact that his explantion might apply if the transactions were purely arms length, (i.e MFG vs the street). But in MFGs case they muddied the waters further by
    booking the original trade at the Broker dealer, then booked an offsetting repo to maturity trade with its UK Afiliate. The UK affiliate then faced the street.

    The accounting treatment was critical to MFGs business model. Enron’s business model rested on similar accounting arbitrages. Norris does his readers a disservice by failing to make the connection.

    1. anon48

      “The terms ‘provided guidance’ and ‘indicating’ signals ambiguity in the rules. Norris leaves the impression with NYT readers that MFGs interpretation of the rule was a settled issue. When in fact the regulators and MFGs auditors could have challenged them on this unsettled point.”

      Excellent observation.

      The problem, as I see it, is that nowadays “legal form” always trumps “substance”. The level of skepticism an auditor should bring to the table in evaluating a particular transaction requires that he/she understand both. i.e.- The RTM rule was apparently put in place to prevent the delay in recognizing a loss for deals that for all intents and purposes were economically complete. So is it appropriate to subvert the same rule by potentially accelerating the profit on a separate transaction when in fact this transaction was not economically complete (due to further risk of loss when the transaction ultimately settles up). By signing off on these transactions the auditors didn’t just show a deficient level of professional skepticism but rather a total complete lack of it.

      Unfortunately, because of these dynamics, along with the willful obfuscated nature of financial engineering and the obtuse nature of auditors, it’s a given that there’ll be future Enron and MF Global-like implosions resulting in the “oh well, gee whiz, S*** happens” response as exhibited by the author. End result- expect more get out of jailfree passes to be issued in the future followed closely by more rules.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Earth facing tipping point…

    That is the only thing that’s too big too fail.

    While it’s true that each of us feels that we are also too big too fail, what we do with our private feelings is our own business.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it true that 90% of top Chinese officials have moved their families offshore?

      That sounds a bit high.

      1. F. Beard

        What wreck? I can drive comfortably at 80 mph and so can many others. With a better car, I could probably drive comfortably at 90 mph.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          My ideal is 25 MPH on horseback on an Interstate highway.

          I hope one day the government will issue a fiat to make that come true for all of us. .

          1. F. Beard

            How long can a horse sustain a gallop? The distance a horse can maintain a gallop depends on their build and physical fitness. A well conditioned horse can easily maintain a gallop for a mile to a mile and a half. At two to two and a half miles most horses will feel fatigued. Lighter built horses (Arabians and Thoroughbreds) can maintain a gallop over longer distances than heavier horses (Draft or Quarter Horse type), and horses with longer strides can travel longer distances with less effort.

            A horse is built to cover many miles in one day, but not at a gallop. A horse can cover more ground, faster, if kept consistently at a trot. While a horse may be exhausted after a three mile gallop, that same horse could trot, with a few walk breaks, 15 miles without extraordinary strain.

            Most people assume the Pony Express riders galloped their entire route. In fact, the speed of a pony express rider averages out to 10 miles per hour- meaning they spent most of their time alternating between a trot (about 8-9 mph) and a canter (12-13mph). The Pony Express riders switched to fresh horses every 10-15 miles. from

            Poke along now!

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            if you guys belong to ‘The Slower, The Better’ Movement, you can even go 5 MPH in order to cover longer distances.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps not an official member, but you seem sympathetic to living in the slow or maybe slower lane.

          4. F. Beard

            Atheist Puritans are the worse.

            No pie when you die and none while you live either!

        2. Tertium Squid

          The word “comfortably” is crucial. With time and practice anyone can feel comfortable with high speeds, even when they shouldn’t.

          Isn’t to say that cars aren’t safer than they used to be. You needed a death wish to go 90 mph in 1940. But even today, going 90 makes you incapable of responding to changing conditions in sufficient time.

          1. F. Beard

            But even today, going 90 makes you incapable of responding to changing conditions in sufficient time. TS

            That would, of course, depend on the road, visibility and if one maintained a safe distance between cars.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            At. 90, let’s face it, it is not easy to stop and smell the rose you see by the roadside.

        3. Synopticist

          Here in the Uk the legal limit is 70mph, but very few do that speed. The average on motorways is probably between 80 and 85. Cops dont bother if you’re doing less than maybe 95.

          Of course you can’t just put the cruise control to 82 and expect to do 164 miles in 2 hours. Way too much traffic.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    California’s foie gras – I hope they ban all non-green houses.

    They are big time polluters.

  10. psychohistorian

    The suicide rate in the military is a canary in the mine shaft indicator of the mental health of our “society”.

    And all this for American empire orchestrated by the global inherited rich that neither Krugman nor De Long ever talk about. They just keep writing the Sci-Fi of CLASSical economics…..alll those why they hate us externalities are just so irrelevant…..

    Think about how much more pain will be incurred by society as these border management shills keep the wannnnnna be believers hanging on to the fig leaf of cover that returns us to slavery and debtor prisons all within a system of corruption and militaristic control….Wheeee

    I like the message of the growing protest by Canadian’s that are beating kettles to demand a public discussion of government policy. Sounds like a good idea to me. When can we start?

  11. ~

    “It’s interesting to be in a crowd of people who bear one’s own class and cultural markers, and yet to feel almost completely alienated from them.”

    Don’t go to a Renaissance Weekend, you’ll decompensate with culture shock.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Renaissance faires…ah, the Slow Living World where people eat slow food, ride slowly, read slowly and more importantly, make money slowly.

  12. Hugh

    Can somebody tell Soros to just put a sock in it? Oh wait, I guess I will. Soros lays out the European crisis from a good Establishment liberal point of view. It lacks all agency. Things just happened. There was no criminality. Everyone acted in good faith. At most, bad policy choices were made, but no one could have predicted …

    Well, except that many of us around here have been since the inception of the European crisis 2 years ago. And of course there were those who warned about the way the euro was set up from the beginning. This is a standard Establishment ploy. They ignore contrary opinions and then when the sh*t hits the fan they say there were no contrary opinions. And remember we are talking about governments and organizations with enormous resources and thousands of experts who are supposed to know this stuff. The no one could have predicted defense doesn’t even begin to pass the smell test. Upton Sinclair had a more insightful explanation: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    Soros doesn’t even begin to understand the nature of his own contradictions. On the one hand, he praises Germany’s strength and wise policies. On the other, he points out that Germany has $800 billion in exposure to the periphery and this amount is growing daily. So I mean which is it? How can Germany be said to be doing well with that kind of ballooning exposure?

    And then there is Soros’ solution which really looks like a slightly softer version of what we see now, a sort of Austerity-lite with Germany (or to be more accurate German bankers, elites, and kleptocrats) still calling the shots but adding a European figleaf to its actions.

    It is amazing all billions of dollars can transmute blather into received wisdom.

    1. Jim

      Well said, Hugh.

      “They ignore contrary opinions and then when the sh*t hits the fan they say there were no contrary opinions”

      Soros’s “far sighted statesmen” may cost his man the White House this fall.

      1. Ms G

        Hugh, that was an eloquent sock-in-the-mouth. In my own made up world, Soros is still chewing on the wool and will be busy at it for awhile.

  13. Hugh

    Netroots Nation is a cautionary tale about the dangers of coalition building. Democrats and progressives made common cause against Bush and his excesses. Netroots Nation was billed as a progressive conference but it was put together by a Democratic operative, Markos Moulitsas, founder of dkos, and he retained effective control over it.

    I think Democratic politicians didn’t know quite what to make of it in the beginning and showed a little deference to it by sending some of their top list people to it. But once Obama was safely elected and it became clear that Netroots Nation was just another Democratic false flag operation, they felt safe in disregarding it. This no doubt explains why the speakers this year are third tier Democratic players, like Whitehouse and Schneiderman.

  14. craazyman

    40 foot waves from a tsunami in England? Yawn. :)

    Here’s a dude surfing a 90 foot wave last November! A new world record. In Portugal of all places!

    you can google it up on Youtube too. As a former wanted-to-be pro surfer (in my teenage dreams) and sometimes surfer (when the parents would drive me to the beach), I still get stoked out of my mind with this stuff. hahahaha.

    Cue up the Beach Boys DJ! bam bam bam bam . . . Catch a wave and yer sittin on top a tha world, da na na na na nananana

  15. Mel

    “Phishers 1, DeLong 0…. Be warned, they are getting better”

    No, actually they are not getting better. All the rest of us are getting worse. DeLong caught the change right away, notice, But then he thought, virtually, “Ah heck, the University has moved everything to the cloud. Well, here goes.” CalNet had not told him they were moving to The Cloud, but who does? You don’t moot technical changes like that about; you just implement them and move on. Not being told means nothing.

    Same with the U.S.A.’s great Flame virus. Virus scanning software missed it for — how long? Virus scanning software looks for obscure traces of esoteric techniques for deception. Flame doesn’t use those techniques. It has 20MB of code, Lua scripts, SQL databases. Virus scanners that look at it see some kind of ordinary personal computer application; nobody knows where it came from, but in a modern consumer PC nobody knows where anything comes from. It hides out in plain sight because nobody, not even the owner of the machine — particularly not the owner of the machine — knows it’s not supposed to be there.

    Back when — last year, say — hackers had to use social engineering to get access to systems. Not any more.

  16. barrisj

    Yet more on Dr Drone, this time from the always-useful TomDispatch website:

    Praying at the Church of St. Drone
    The President and His Apostles

    Be assured of one thing: whichever candidate you choose at the polls in November, you aren’t just electing a president of the United States; you are also electing an assassin-in-chief. The last two presidents may not have been emperors or kings, but they — and the vast national-security structure that continues to be built-up and institutionalized around the presidential self — are certainly one of the nightmares the founding fathers of this country warned us against. They are one of the reasons those founders put significant war powers in the hands of Congress, which they knew would be a slow, recalcitrant, deliberative body.

    “Assassin-in-Chief” rather nicely sets the tone of the piece, as Obama has seemed to veer away from “plausible deniability” to full disclosure of his role in selecting victims – sorry, targets – for his Jovian retribution from the heavens. Not excusing this pathetic man, but the drone business is a direct legacy of Cheney-Bush, eagerly co-opted by Obama and enhanced by an order of magnitude or more in the pursuit of “national security”. And, yet another instance of how the infamous “unitary executive” construct of John Woo et al as applied to the pursuit of war and war-like decisions by the President have been categorically embraced by Obama (and many of his chief advisors), despite cogent criticisms of executive excess before taking office. Playing God is just such a temptation to lesser beings that whatever moral or ethical foundations these people possessed before being given this unfettered power becomes simply an inconvenience or a “quaint” belief once he/she is in front of a video screen and can give the command to wipe out other human beings.

  17. Jim Haygood

    Just one day after Fitch was taken to the woodshed by Naked Capitalism for idly threatening to downgrade the world’s only financial superpower, the incorrigible S&P steps up to the plate with a fresh Friday night outrage:

    Political and fiscal risks may lead to another downgrade of the U.S.’s credit rating by 2014 by Standard & Poor’s, which affirmed its negative outlook on the nation’s debt.

    How dare they?

    Don’t they know Ben Bernanke has a printing press?


Comments are closed.